The first 15 minutes of my Welcome Aboard show were spent battling two things. First, considering we have so many international guests on this cruise, possibly half the audience did not understand what I was saying and were puzzled why there was a fat bloke on stage rather than dancing girls in heels and feathers. And then there was the baby in the second row who cried and screamed all the way through my poor attempt at humour. So half the audience didn’t understand a sodding word I was saying and the half who did speak English couldn’t hear because of the crying baby.

The baby was in a stroller at the end of the second row and I am guessing he/she was about six months old. The crying began as soon as Jimmy Boore and The Showtime Band started their overture, and the crying built to a climax as I walked out on stage and started doing my monologue thingy. And this was the longest climax of crying in the history of sound. It went on at volume that would have made a 747 taking off seem tranquil. I honestly thought one of Joe Farcus’ chandeliers might break. But the parents did nothing, said nothing and just stared at me oblivious to the “tuts” from those around them and despite the fact that most of the audience was not looking at me but at them. And what do you suppose the mother did to calm her infant? Feed he/she some warm milk? Read he/she a nice soothing story? Take he/she out of the lounge to the cabin at 10:30 pm at night? Nope. She just sat there as did the Dad and watched me.

I stood on stage in full automatic mood. I was telling jokes and talking about shows and getting ready for audience participation yet my mind was feverishly thinking if I should say something, make a joke about it or simply ask them nicely to take the poor little sod to bed. Surely 10:30 pm is past a six-month-old baby’s bedtime?

Funny isn’t it how the Lord God Almighty made women so nearly perfect except the whole giving birth thingy. It’s a shame that while they sit there in the lady’s tummy that they aren’t being taught what to do when they are born like members of the animal kingdom. Take a new born baby cow which if I remember correctly is called a calf. A calf can feed itself five minutes after entering into the world.

But babies can do sweet bugger all. They just lie there. Not moving, not smiling, not talking and not doing anything and seem quite content to do absolutely nothing and to do it while lying in a pool of their own number twos. Unless, of course, the baby is yours, in which case you make a note in your baby diary the very first time she smiles or the very first time she grips your finger and then you are as happy and as content as you have ever been. And that’s why I didn’t say anything or make any attempt to ask the parents to take this super-lunged baby out. However, I didn’t have to because 15 minutes into the show a lady sitting behind the lady tapped her on the shoulder and quite audibly told her to bugger off…….and they did. Mum, dad and the super-lunged baby all got up and left and embarrassingly…..some of the audience applauded. I made some reference to I hope you all sleep well or something and I could tell though what the audience were thinking was, “Dear God, please don’t let them be in the cabin next to mine.”

Time for some Q and A………………away we go.

Sandy Beech asked:
John,

My next cruise is on Carnival Fantasy and it will be my 10th and my Platinum cruise. Can you tell me what the benefits are because I seem to get mixed messages about this in all the different places I look and the people I ask? Thank you for writing the blog John it makes my day.

John says:
Hello Sandy Beech,

I have to admit something Sandy to you before I give you my answer. I looked your name up on our system because I couldn’t believe that Sandy Beech was your real name. However, I see that it is and what a brilliant name it is and what a great sense of humour you parents must have. I also see that you are from Charleston so I am sure you are enjoying being able to drive to the Carnival Fantasy for this your 10th cruise.

Here are the current onboard benefits for our Platinum guests:

  • VIP Check-in at the pier\
  • Personalized stationery and envelopes
  • Canapés delivered to the stateroom (five-day voyages and longer)
  • Petit fours delivered to the stateroom
  • A special gift “Carnival Concierge Thermos Flask” delivered to stateroom
  • Complimentary $20 dollar entrance to Blackjack or Slot Tournament
  • Complimentary wash and fold service
  • $5 of complimentary arcade tokens for under 18 year olds
  • Guaranteed dining time
  • Guaranteed Steakhouse Reservations (select vessels)
  • Exclusive Behind the scenes tour of the Galley
  • Priority Spa Carnival reservations
  • Priority tender boarding
  • Priority debarkation

Please note that the Platinum gift is changing fleet wide to a beautiful luggage tag and key chain set. So many congratulations on your Platinum cruise, have loads of fun and thanks so much for your loyalty.

Best wishes,

John

Lois asked:
Hi John,

I cruised on the Carnival Victory where we were told to help a children’s hospital somewhere in the United States. I am from Puerto Rico and so were most of the passengers and the ship is leaving from Puerto Rico so why not help Puerto Rican children in hospitals here. It is very unfair that Carnival does not help us but only children in America.

John says:
Hello Lois,

We work very closely with the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee as we continue our goal to raise $3 million over a three-year period in the fight to find a cure for childhood cancer. This is being done on all our ships, not just the Carnival Victory. Now I am sure I am correct in saying that as Puerto Rico is part of the United States and that if a child from there (or anywhere else in the world I might add) needs treatment he or she can find it at St Jude as it is a hospital without a billing department and is funded by the generosity of major companies and individual donors. I hope you had a great cruise and thank you for taking the time to write.

Best wishes.

John

Christina Labbe asked:
Hi John,

My fiancé and I just got off the Carnival Glory five-day Canada cruise, and we felt we just had to tell you what a wonderful crew that ship has so you can pass the praise on to them.

We’ve always been pleased with service on Carnival cruises, but the Carnival Glory crew really went above and beyond and impressed us so much. Our bar waiter at dinner, Leonaidas (I may be spelling that wrong, for which I apologize – let’s just say the drinks were so good I had trouble reading) from Romania not only remembered which drinks we liked and brought them to us at dinner and at shows, but when we asked if there was going to be sangria on this sailing (there wasn’t) he actually made me a glass himself, and it was the best sangria I ever had. He can make a great drink and I hope he gets promoted to bartender soon! The other thing I specifically wanted to mention, although we did work this into the answers on the survey we got this time, was that the guest services staff and the hotel manager were unbelievably courteous and accommodating. We had a minor issue that was beyond anyone’s control, but the guest services team and hotel manager followed up with us diligently, even sending us a personal note while on board and an email after we got home. The issue we had was not one that would have kept us from booking Carnival again, but the Carnival Glory team’s response was so above and beyond that we can’t wait to sail the Carnival Glory again. (Even if not being able to go from fwd to aft on decks 3 or 4 did take some getting used to!). We’ve never been disappointed in a cruise or a crew member, this one really did go above and beyond all throughout our cruise and I want to make sure they know that it is appreciated.

Follow up:

John, I’m sorry to leave a second message so soon – I just forgot to mention in my first message that our cruise director Josh was fantastic, as well. He was very friendly and had the funniest morning show, which my fiancé called in to embarrass me 😉 He was probably the most ever-present and friendly CD we’ve had, and I can see why he was voted the favorite on your blog. I just had to mention that too! Please forgive my double message.

John says:
Hello Christina Labbe,

Thanks for that superb review. With the new online review card system I know that not everybody is getting a chance to express their views and opinions and I am glad that those who are not sent one are able to do so here. But even when you do get a card I am always glad to be able to see what people thought and who they felt made a difference. I promise to make sure that those mentioned get to see that they really did make a difference and I am very grateful to you for taking the time to write about them. I hope we see you again very soon.

Best wishes to you both.

John

William B asked:
John,

Why could I not during my recent sailing on the Carnival Paradise get my burger on Lido deck cooked medium rare. I tried time after time but was told by the rude robot cooking it that I could not by saying “No, sir, No sir, No sir” over and over again. In the end I gave up and ate other stuff but this ruined my cruise and I need an explanation to why a paying customer cannot get the burger cooked the way I like.

John says:
Hello William B,

This is a very good question and I promise the chef who was cooking the burgers was not being “rude” but was following very strict orders as defined by the ship’s management here who in turn are following very strict and specific orders of United States Public Health. They insist that we cook the burgers until thoroughly cooked. This obviously is something that the chefs (even the robotic ones) have to adhere to. I hope you had a great cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Chuck Cordle asked:
John,

I want to thank you for the great job you do here on the blog thing as well as Facebook, it helps keep the excitement going for the upcoming cruise, which I wish I was told we were leaving two weeks before the trip. I have a special cruise booked with a couple friends of yours leaving on the Carnival Glory December 4 cabin 7228 booking number 347GZ5. You call them Sarge Charlie and Miss Bee Cordle, I call them mom and dad. Well the old Sarge is turning 74 on this cruise and I thought of all those things I see you promise others, soooooooo……. I think you should do the following:

1 – Dinner for our party of 12 at the steakhouse on you
2 – Carnival should pay for our excursions
3 – Entertainment staff should do a third show each night just for us
4 – Super VIP check in, meaning we get to drive through the terminal and up the gangway, then the cruise director back it off the gangway and park for us.
5 – The captain should also be our room steward singing Italian lullabies to us each night

I know I’m not asking too much from such a wonderful man such as yourself, but if some reason the people who don’t know how to shave, I mean the beards have a problem with this then just some chocolate covered strawberries and a note from you would be great. Thanks again for all you do for us.

I hope to sail with you one day!

Chuck

John says:

Hello Chuck Cordle,

Knowing your Mum and Dad as I do and knowing their lust for life and knowing your dad continues to bravely fight of cancer and knowing how he served his country in foreign lands, if I could, I would do all those things and more. I promise to look after them so please can you drop me a reminder before they cruise. You can do this here on or around October 20 or on Facebook a few days before you all sail. It will be an honour to look after them. I wish you all a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes to you all.

John

Banjon asked:
John,

I heard Carnival has a hotel in Nassau and Vegas. Can you give me details as I can’t find them? Do they have the same things as you do on the ships?

John says:
Hello Banjon,

We did indeed once own a hotel in the Bahamas many years ago called Crystal Palace. It was a great place that had a big magic show which in fact I was talking about the other day with my friends the Bentleys. It starred a magician called Dirk Arthur and his tigers and animals. But eventually Carnival sold it and I can also tell you that we don’t have or have ever had a hotel in Las Vegas. It would be fun though to build a hotel in the shape of a Carnival ship and have the same sort of service, fun, shows and a huge casino. Thanks for writing.

Best wishes.

John

Wendy R asked:
John,

Our cruise on Carnival’s ship Splendor will be very special as we will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and my son’s graduation from high school and my parent’s 55th wedding anniversary. I am a recent subscriber to your blog and have seen that you send gifts for special occasions and I wondered what those gifts were. Is there a list we can choose from? The other request I have is for Chad my son. He is going to be going to college to get his degree in design and technology and I want him to get to see the engines of the ship and meet the head engineer. Our booking number is *****. This is our first cruise with you guys.

John says:
Hello Wendy R,

Thank you so much for choosing to sail with us Wendy and we are honoured to be hosting your triple celebration. I won’t post a list of what I send because there really isn’t one but I promise that you will enjoy what I do send you to wish you all well. Your son is going to love the Behind the Fun Tour. This can be purchased on board and will allow him not only to see the engine control room and meet the chief engineer but also to meet the captain on the bridge and see many more behind-the-scenes areas of the ship. You can buy this from the shore excursion desk. I hope you all have a great cruise, in fact I see you are sailing this next week so I am glad I caught this in time.

Best wishes and have a brilliant time.

John

Kelli Pilsbury asked:
Dear John,

You have probably been asked this 100 times….I really appreciate Carnival’s wine policy but I was wondering why am I allowed only bring the same one bottle per person on a four-night cruise as I am only allowed on my eight-night cruise? Is there any way that a longer cruise could warrant an additional bottle? I know about the packages, I am just a fussy wino!! haha. I love Carnival…we are junkies now! Got the Carnival Miracle coming up in November and Carnival Spirit in May. Thank-you for all the info you provide us!

Kelli

John says:
Hello Kelli Pilsbury,

Yep, I have seen it before and to be honest I can see your point in this. This is a question that I will ask the beards to look at again and I will let you know what I find out. Thanks for those very kind words and I hope you will let me know if there is anything else I can do for you before you sail.

Best wishes.

John

JoAnn asked:
Hi John, love your blog.

I am sailing on the Carnival Miracle to Bermuda. I see that the Gem will be docked at the same time. My question is….will the Carnival Miracle be docked with the stern facing the Gem? The reason I ask is because I will be in my first aft cabin and I’m thrilled with the possibility of facing the Gem for 3 days.

Thanks

John says:
Hello JoAnn,

The good news is that the ships will be docked next to each other so in this case the Carnival Miracle will be starboard to starboard with the Norwegian Gem. This should not affect your views from your wonderful cabin. Have a brilliant time.

Best wishes.

John

Mikey Brown asked:
John,

RADU’s photos were once again BRILLIANT. I don’t know if it’s in the cards, but Radu should publish his photos so all can enjoy. If he needed support and/or encouragement, maybe the beards could assist and potentially a portion of the proceeds could be donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. I for one would buy one in a heartbeat. Dunno, something to think about.

John says:
Hello Mikey Brown,

He is indeed a genius and allows me to publish his photos on the blog and on FB, as well. He also sells them on board and last week he sold 400 copies of the Stromboli eruption. I am working with him to publish a ports of call calendar and a ship calendar as well for 2013 and it would be great as you suggested that proceeds went to St Jude. Let me mention this to the beards as it is mate a brilliant idea.

Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today.

So yesterday I posted the new menus which for the most part we very well received indeed. I saw some negative ones but the opinions of people with names like Hairloss and SeaHugo are like a broken pencil……..pointless. The people who still cruise Carnival however and are not just posting to be destructive have made some very valuable points and I have made sure those points are sent to the chefs and the beards. But, as I said the new menus have received some great comments and as we say where I come from, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”……if you know what I mean.

By the way, I spoke to the Carnival Splendor yesterday as they have had the new menus already and asked them about the “Didja” additions. Here is what Maitre D Shane told me: “All the Didja menus are really very popular, but the most popular one was the alligator fritters – last cruise we served about 750 portions.” Try it, if you don’t like, order something else. Remember, this is Carnival so order what you want and try different things, we are never going to say no. I hope you enjoyed the dessert menus I posted earlier today, as well.

It’s time once again to pay homage to the piano bar entertainer as I show you the latest schedule. There are one or two new names on the list and I have been asked therefore by Rob who hires these ladies and gents to let us know here on the blog if there are any that you feel are amazing and should be recognized. I know the President of the Piano Entertainment Society, the lovely Laura, keeps her own thingy on this on Cruise Critic so maybe she can tell me what my friends over there are saying and if any of you would like to add your thoughts here, please feel free to do so. I have to say that the beards are taking their time in deciding what to do with regard to whether or not to put an age limit on the piano bars. The ships know what they want to do but there seems to be a bit of red tape so we will have to wait a bit longer before the final decision is made and as soon as it is, I will let you know.

Here then is the current list:

  • Carnival Splendor Jason Davis 11/13/11
  • Carnival Glory Doug Ross 08/27/11
  • Carnival Sensation Adam Saxe 09/01/11
  • Carnival Dream Milburn Dumas 09/03/11
  • Carnival Conquest Walter Boik 09/04/11
  • Carnival Victory Tom Grable 09/04/11
  • Carnival Ecstasy Agustin Villarin 09/08/11
  • Carnival Destiny Seth Gibson 09/10/11
  • Carnival Miracle William Barclay 09/11/11
  • Carnival Triumph Lorraine Ingle 09/22/11
  • Carnival Legend Lizl Strauss 10/02/11
  • Carnival Paradise Jordan Heppner 10/07/11
  • Carnival Liberty Pollyanna Jones 10/08/11
  • Carnival Fantasy Hrvoje Knezevic 10/12/11
  • Carnival Valor Robert Crucilla 10/16/11
  • Carnival Elation Bruce McGhie 10/22/11
  • Carnival Imagination Angela Johnson 11/04/11
  • Carnival Inspiration Jafar Curry 12/03/11
  • Carnival Pride James Quigley 12/04/11
  • Carnival Spirit Keith Turner 01/06/12
  • Carnival Magic Jim Morris 01/15/12
  • Carnival Fascination Larry Maconaghy TBA
  • Carnival Freedom Richard Yerkes TBA

As always my thanks to all the above for the continuing entertainment they provide.

Good morning from Savona, Italy from where I write to you, in my underpants. It’s been a busy day which started early this morning with me doing an interview for Italian TV who came on board to film a news item on the Carnival Magic. Now I don’t know if you have seen Italian news readers but they are quite literally stunning. Whereas in America the rule of the local newsreader is to have huge hair and a names like “Hank” or “Chuck ” or “Dallas ” or “Whitney,” in Italy it’s all about sex. The women stand in front of the news walls in tiny skirts, and “breasts out for the men tops” or sit behind the news desk, flicking their hair and licking their lips. Now this is OK if the news story is about the latest exploits of your sex-mad president but looks absolutely ridiculous if you are talking about the debt ceiling, the falling Euro or the garbage strike in Naples. The two ladies I had an interview with today though were charming and wonderful and both said they read my blog and were “fans” which was very humbling indeed. Cruising in Italy is very popular indeed and with Costa Cruises being a company Italians are very proud of. Anyway, I hope I did OK for them and you can see the interview and learn about just how much Italians love cruising at the wonderful Rosalba Scarrone’s blog.

Here I am with Rosalba and LEIP.TV host Veronica Virgulti.

I don’t often talk about my parents here on the blog thingy but I have a story to tell you about my Mum whom all those that meet her say it’s where I get my sense of humour. Now my Mum is the best cook in the world, she is the best listener in the world and if someone knocks on her door asking for help she’ll make them a “nice cup of tea” which as most British people will tell you is the cure for broken hearts, family tragedy, headaches, flu and syphilis. My Mum is simply brilliant. However she is to technology what those bastard London rioters are to family values. Anyway, my Mum and Dad had been promising to go and visit some people whose name I had better not mention (OK, bugger it, the Edwards) but deep down they really didn’t want to go because the Edwards have a bloody zoo in their house with three dogs and eight cats and the house reeks of animal piss. My Mum doesn’t like houses that smell of animal piss.

Anyway, she decided that as they had been promising to go to the Edwards house (I hope they don’t read this but if you are reading Mr. and Mrs. Edwards, your house does smell of animal piss) that her and Dad should go as they had been promising to since 1981. She dialed his number, and when she heard his recorded greeting she grinned with relief before rearranging her features so that they would convey suitable disappointment for the message she was about to leave: “I’m so sorry you’re not there,” she lied, “We were hoping to pop in for a cup of tea. Never mind, we’ll have to make it another time.” Then, with the active handset still in her hand, she said, “He’s not there, thanks goodness for that. We’ve got the afternoon to ourselves and we won’t have to stomach that awful smell.”

These charming words were, of course, preserved on the Edwards answering machine. She realised this when a few moments later she heard the “beep” sound that the message time was up. My Mum was horrified when she told me this today although I also could tell that deep down she wasn’t……and I can’t help but wonder……did she do this on purpose? Did she really not know that the machine was still on?

The mixed blessing of the answer phone has been on my mind since I recently changed to my new Raspberry sliding thingy. It hasn’t been an unbridled success. It has terrific coverage everywhere except anywhere in Europe. Ring me here on Carnival Magic, and I have to go outside, stand on the deck 5 Lanai and swirl the handset around like a Guns and Roses fan waving a Zippo lighter, in the hope of catching a signal. So uncertain have I been of the future of our working relationship that I have only given the new number to people on a need to know basis. But I didn’t really think about what would happen when people dialed the old one. I suppose, much as Kye thinks she is invisible if she covers her eyes, I imagined that by putting it in my cabin desk draw, everyone would know not to call it.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised when my bank last week complained that they couldn’t get hold of me. My old Raspberry was still taking messages for me, in the hope that I might remember the good times and give the old faithful another go. When I switched it on for the first time in months, it vomited a load of messages from various people frustrated that I had not returned their calls. All that was lacking was the missed call of my dreams.

In an ideal world, everyone should have an old phone, to help them explain life’s disappointments. I am still here and not I’m not in, because I missed the call from Jerry Bruckheimer who wants to produce a new sitcom about my life as a CD starring Megan Fox as my personal assistant. Then, of course, there is the wrong number syndrome which, coupled with the answering machine, is a recipe for disaster…look at what happened to Heidi’s friend Lucy T.

She received a long, tearful message that sounded as though it came from a teenage girl. The caller had decided to admit to her best friend she was gay, and hoped for more than just friendship. It had clearly taken a huge amount of courage and probably alcohol to steel herself to call. And she’d left it on the wrong phone. Did she ever confront the friend for not responding? Are they together now, or doomed to a lifetime apart …. simply because she called the wrong number.

Talking of cell phones, I guess it had to happen. I have been talking to some of my fellow cruise directors who have told me they have now added something to their pre-show announcements ….. please turn off your cell phones and two-way radios …… who would have thought that this would ever happen? It’s great that Carnival ships now have cell phone coverage whether you are at sea or in port and most people don’t carry them the entire time they are on the ship. But some do. I have been in a situation where I have been in the middle of a show when a cell phone rings. I remember on Carnival Splendor when it happened that I actually asked the chap whose phone it was to come on the stage with me and I had a full on conversation with his business partner.

Of course these days communication on board comes in many different ways. I can call the office from my desk phone, my internal ship phone and in an emergency I can take my useless new Raspberry Slider Thingy out onto the Lanai and if I stand on my head, naked, with my legs apart I may get a signal. We have conference calls and emails and I hear video conference between beards and us shipboard people is just around the corner. Gone are the days when guests and crew used to have to wait until reaching port where lines would form at the pay phones and calling centers as people tried to contact their family and friends.

Actually……….and please don’t tell anyone this……..I miss those days. When the ship reached port, the captain and senior officers had to go to our port agent’s office and once a cruise we would check in with the office in Miami. Most of the time though any decisions were made on board and, because of the lack of communication, we usually asked for forgiveness rather than permission. Yes, we had the radio rooms where for $5 a minute, through the high seas operator and lots of hiss and static you would be connected to those you love and if needed, the Miami office. As I said, things were simpler back then and if we had wanted to make the piano bars for adults only, we would have simply have done it and then if we remembered we would tell the much missed Mr. Zonis and his team that we had done so.

These days of course all the ships are Wi-Fi friendly and we have internet access. However, it can be painfully slow at times and I ask myself in the day and age we live in…… why? Honestly, it’s so frustrating trying to update Facebook when sometimes the page loads slower than a three-legged hamster wearing its shoes on the wrong feet.

And unlike you, because this is all work-related don’t have to pay for my Internet access. Now I have been on Costa, Holland America, P&O, Princess and Cunard and have filed reports for the blog using all these lines’ internet service. And I know from talking to crew who has worked on the Wejustraisedallourrestaurantprices Of The Seas and on NCL ships that they have exactly the same concerns, as well. Using the Internet on board a ship can be expensive and so slow.

Now I understand bugger all about bandwidth and uploads and downloads and satellites and all the other stuff I hear when I ask why it takes so long for me to access www.singlelatvianwomenlookingfrorrumpypumpy.com.

But what I do know is that somehow, someway we need to do better. So my proposal is this. Let there be meeting of the cruise industries most important people. Micky Arison, Richard Fain from RCI, Kevin Sheehan from NCL, Disney Cruise Lines Chairman ……… ummmmm ………. Micky Mouse and my cabin steward Ketut should all meet and agree to fund a cruise line internet satellite thingy that we will all share and will all provide a faster internet service that doesn’t involve spending the kids’ college inheritance.

” Oh for f**ks sake will you please open the page you useless piece of s**t .com”

Goodnight

Your friend,

John

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.

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