HOW THE GUESTS GOT AN EXTRA NIGHT IN VENICE

August 22, 2011 -

John Heald

I saw on our esteemed Chairman Micky Arison’s twit thingy that Justin Bieber had encouraged people on his twit to follow Mr. Arison. Now he has millions of young twits who follow him and have posters of him all over their bedroom walls……Justin, I mean not Mr. Arison…I guess it’s only me that has a poster of our chairman on my bedroom wall then? I am sure Mr. Arison will use his twit thingy to encourage the parents of Justin’s fans to take a cruise. Do I see a cruise with Justin Bieber in the future?

Anyway, as I was saying, Justin mentioned to his loyal followers to twit with Mr. Arison and overnight I see he went from 5,000 followers to almost 15,000 followers which prompts me to say two things. Bloody hell. And ummmm……who is Justin Bieber?

I have never heard a single Justin Bieber song. So I asked a few of the dancers here and they love him. I asked a couple of the entertainment staff and they love him too but nobody it seems has a greater love for Justin that my entertainment staff member and friend and co-morning show host Calvyn. He is worse than a pre-teen girl and will apparently “just die” if he were ever to meet him. Calvyn drools when he talks about him, screams when he listens to him sing and live in the Morning Show Calvyn burst into one of the kid’s songs proclaiming “Your world is my world, and my fight is your fight, my breath is your breath, and your heart is my heart!” Problem was he sang these words looking me in the eye…………….so I twisted his nipple really, really hard.

There is no doubt that Justin is a brilliant performer and that girls (and Calvyn) all over the world love him. And whoever manages him is obviously a marketing genius although why does he let Stevie Wonder cut Justin’s hair. But honestly, is young Justin that good looking. I think not. So what is it that attracts so many girls and one Calvyn to him? I wonder could it be his millions? He’s a good singer, not the best looking kid in the world and has more money than God and everyone wants to have rumpy pumpy with him………bugger me……….he’s the new Mick Jagger.

Time for some Q and A…………….let’s crack on.


Sandra Brooks asked:

John,

Just wanted to say thank you for all you do. I have never met you and I do not have a single complaint…I know weird. Cannot wait for December 3, 2011 when as my husband said, we sail a Big Ship, the Dream!! Sandra

John says:
Hello Sandra Brooks,

It is always nice to be able to start a Q and A session without something positive so I thank you so m much for doing that. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you before you embark on your Carnival Dream.

Best wishes.

John

Elizabeth S asked:
John,

I am a Platinum cruiser and will be on the Carnival Magic’s trans-Atlantic crossing. I read that the new Carnival policy is to only allow the Elite Platinum cruisers one bag of laundry on the crossing. Is this true? On our last cruise on the Carnival Splendor we gave our cabin stewart the bag three times and they did it without question so why is it only one bag on a 16-day voyage? I do have a strong complaint and that’s the cabin stewart used very hot water and my husband’s shirts shrank. They need to make sure that they use a cold water wash! I hope that Carnival changes this policy on the number of bags before the crossing of the Carnival Magic.

John says:
Hello Elizabeth S,

The written rule is that it is one bag per person, however, as you mentioned from your Carnival Splendor cruise, your stateroom stewarD will take care of any other laundry requests you have. So, on the trans-Atlantic crossing please ask your stateroom stewarD and your stateroom stewarD will take other bags of laundry for you I am sure. I am sorry that your husband’s shirts shrank last time, mine do that all the time and it is the laundry’s fault that this happens and not because I hate a huge porterhouse steak and 239 shrimp cocktails the night before. Seriously though, thanks for your loyalty to Carnival and I wish you both a wonderful voyage and I wish I could be on board with you.

Best wishes.

John

Kim Hooker asked:
Hello John,

Can you please advise how many formal nights will be on the Carnival Magic 8/26/11 cruise out of Barcelona? Thanks

John says:
Hello Kim Hooker,

I am glad I saw this in time and I apologise for the very late reply. There will be only one and that’s on September 1, the second sea day. See you soon and get ready for a brilliant time.

Best wishes.

John

Laura Capano asked:
Hi John,

Hoping you can investigate this for me because I am running into a brick wall with the reservation staff. I am inquiring if Carnival will be offering pre-cruise hotel stays in Venice in June 2012 when Carnival Breeze goes out of Venice. We are trying very hard to be with you on the June 3rd sailing. Any help will be appreciated.

Thanks John

John says:
Hello Laura Capano,

I am hoping that you will be with me Laura and I am sure by now you will have seen more about this great new ship at www.carnivalbreeze.com. There won’t I am afraid be hotel packages available in Venice pre-cruise and if you would though like some hotel recommendations I can give you those as and when you need. Please do let me know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes and hope to see you soon.

John

Piet S asked:
John,

Me and my family will be cruising with Carnival for the first ever time on the Carnival Paradise. My mother and father do not speak English so I want us to have a private table and have a waiter at dinner that speaks either Polish or Russian. Booking ******. Cabin E122 and E128.

John says:
Hello Piet S,

Having checked your booking number I see that you are sailing on the 22nd of this month so this will be close. I have written to the maitre d to see if he can help you with the table and the waiter request. I know the table should not be a problem but the waiter speaking Russian or Polish may be a little more difficult but we shall see what we can do for you all. Have a great cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Teri asked:
Hi John,

I’ve tried several times to get thru to you but haven’t yet, I’ll just keep on typing, I know there is only one of you and your “fan club” is…………well BIG! We were lucky enough to sail with you once and will be returning for a week in your company for the Bloggers Cruise in March……..my first question is about that……..if we don’t book using the more expensive rates that are tied to the Bloggers Cruise promo can we still participate with you and our fellow bloggers in the activities? You are the reason we picked this date so I’m hoping we won’t be left out. My other comment is about not having comment cards at the end of the cruise anymore. This year was the first time we didn’t receive one and we were so disappointed! We feel that at the end of the cruise after being taken care of in such a grand manner it’s then our “job” to pay all those crew members back! On our cruise this year one of the stand outs was a crew member that was not even in our crew member circle but a crew member over dining in the Lido deck. We sailed on Carnival Conquest on March 27 this year out of Galveston and his name was Naveesh (probably NOT spelled correctly!). We played cards in a booth there the whole cruise and he would always take time to come and talk to us and make us laugh. I think he was going to the Carnival Splendor after the Conquest………….please let him know he made a tremendous difference in our cruise. Hope to hear back from you! We would all really love to meet you in March!

-Teri

John says:
Hello Teri,

I am so sorry I have missed your posts so far and I am glad you are here now. Yes indeed, you can be part of BC5 regardless of what rate you used to book and later on the blog we will take a roll call to see how many people are booked and who is registered to sail and to attend the events etc. The review card are no sent online and not everyone is getting them which I know is frustrating because so many people want to say how much they have enjoyed the cruise, the crew or indeed in some cases that they have not. I thank you so much for telling me about Naveesh and I will make sure he gets to see your kind words. I hope you had fun and I promise you much more fun when we sail together on BC5. Thanks for those lovely words and I will see you soon

Best wishes.

John

David Coleman asked:
Hello John,

I recently lost my right arm in a motor bike accident and am coming to terms with how my life has changed. I have been told by my travel agent to come to you to ask for a very special request and that is my wife and I have a table for two. I am a man that does not like to ask for pity or for sympathy and am doing this for my wife more than for myself. The accident happened in April and I am still trying to learn how to cope and this includes having my wife cut the food for me. Hopefully you can see why then I am asking you for this. I don’t know you John but reading a few of your entries I can see that you help people and I hope you can do the same for me and Hannah. Our booking information is at the top of this letter.

Thank you.

David E. Coleman

John says:
Hello David ,

I see from your booking details that you will be sailing on the Carnival Liberty at the end of this month and I have asked the maitre d there to help you. Please don’t worry, all will be well and I am sure that yourself and your wife will have a wonderful time together. On a personal note, there are some who question why I help people and encourage people to write to me. The simple answer can be found in your post David. I was so sorry to read about your accident and I wish you much happiness in the future and a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Alexander asked:
Johnny Boy,

You said today in this blog that you have 11 million views but that’s really nothing is it. Think about it. You meet 3,500 passengers every cruise and I guess you tell them about this blog but only 11 million times has it been read. Same with your Facebook where you only have 14,000 friends. Seems to me that most people don’t care about your blog or your Facebook page and maybe that’s because it’s full of vulgar humor and self gratification. I hope I never have the misfortune of being on a ship with you.

John says:
Hello Alexander,

I am very grateful to all the people who read this blog and join me on Facebook. I know that my humour is not for everyone and I know at times I probably step over the line but I can’t agree on the self-gratification point you made. I can’t ever remember asking for that and certainly if I did it was not intentional. I know you said that you hope you are never with me on a cruise but I hope the opposite and that one day we will be together so we can chat. Until then I hope all is well and hope to see you soon.

Best wishes.

John

Judy Yee asked:
Hi John,

I just got back from a wonderful trip aboard the CARNIVAL MAGIC. It was an awesome trip of a lifetime. The excursions were awesome (we did 5 w/ Carnival). Loved everything about the cruise except for a couple of disappointing things on board. Our dining room service was the worst! And the photography was just as bad. I have traveled on many cruises and these two experiences were intolerable. We loved Europe and the CARNIVAL MAGIC! Also it was great to experience the water park… I was the one who actually named the POWER DRENCHER bucket and it was nice to see that also.

John says:
Hello Judy Yee,

I was surprised to read about the dining room service as Carnival Magic has received the top marks in the fleet in this category for the month of July. Obviously though we have some improvement needed so I kindly ask if you could give me some more details as to what the concerns were so I can address them immediately and my apologies that you were not impressed with your waiter. However, I see that you had fun and loved the ship and your Power Drencher is a huge hit here of course. I hope to hear from you soon and see you again onboard, as well.

Best wishes.

John


Linda Keynes asked:

John,

I was told by a friend you would be the one to contact about this. I need to tell you that it’s my son’s birthday when we cruise on the Magic. It starts on August 26 and it’s while the ship is in Messina on August 31 that Ryan will turn 12. I need to have a cake (chocolate is his favorite) sent to our table with “Happy Birthday Ryan” on it and big enough for five people and do you do decorations for the cabin? This is our first Carnival experience as we have been fans of RCCL so I hope you can impress us!

John says:
Hello Linda Keynes,

Thanks for taking the time to write and I am glad I caught this before you sailed. While I will be honoured to read a birthday mention for your son Ryan during my live Morning Show I can’t organise the cake or decorate the cabin. This can be done on boardat the Cherry On Top shop on Promenade. They will send the cake at dinner as requested and also decorate the cabin. There are fees for both of these but what a wonderful surprise it will be for Ryan. I will also send him a birthday gift as well so please leave me a note at the guest services desk the day before so I remember. I will see you all soon here on this brilliant ship.

Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today.

We finish the last piece of the new menus today with a look at the three- and four-day cruise rotation. Here they are.

Let’s talk about Venice and go back to Saturday and my Venice travel talk and start with this.

Guest: Mrs.__________ Ref: 100491329A
Cabin: ______ Booking#: ________ Added-Changed: 08/21/11 – 08/21/11
Subject: VENICE COMPLAINT

Guest said she had attended the cruise director’s information meeting and was very upset that he said that Venice was difficult for her to go to because guest has a electric scooter and she cannot walk. Guest said that Carnival should have warned her when she booked the cruise and wants compensation because she can’t go ashore.

Well, I do feel sorry for her but she came to the talk and at the end I always hold a Q and A session where guests can ask on the microphone anything they want so the other guests can hear it, as well. I find this much more personable and much more fun rather than have the guests stand in a line waiting for me at the end of the talk. Anyway, she asked me if she could get around Venice in a motorized scooter. I explained that Venice was made up of 115 islands and 400-odd bridges and that there are no ramps. I explained that we had a panoramic excursion by boat and that we could get her and the scooter on that but to actually navigate the bridges was impossible. That’s because they (the Venetians) have no plans to build ramps for the bridges as they believe it spoils the aesthetics of this centuries-old landmark and that makes Venice not the most wheelchair friendly destination I’m afraid.

Now I could see that this lady was not happy from the way she reversed out of the lounge, crashing into a few ankles while doing so. She then did a hand break turn and zoomed off, obviously to the guest services desk. I do feel sorry for her but one has to ask, surely, surely she would have done some research about this before coming out here. I will call her later today.

I mentioned on Facebook the other day, myself and the guest services desk had received some comments about the Venice schedule this voyage which is not as all the other voyages. By Sunday morning it had reached a dozen or so and with most guests probably not realising it yet I decided that we should try and do something. Let me explain.

The way the itinerary was explained on the internet was like this:

Sun, Aug, 14 Barcelona dep @ 5pm
Mon, Aug, 15 Monaco 9am-8pm
Tue, Aug, 16 Savona 7am-8pm
Wed, Aug, 17 Rome 8am-9pm
Thu, Aug, 18 Naples 7am-7pm
Fri, Aug, 19 Messina 7am-4pm
Sat, Aug, 20 Dubrovnik 12noon-8pm
Sun, Aug, 21 at sea
Mon, Aug, 22 Venice 7am – O.N.
Tue, Aug, 23 Venice 1:00am
Wed, Aug, 24 at sea
Thu, Aug, 25 at sea

As you can see both Monday and Tuesday are listed as being in Venice and in fact, that’s correct. However, if you look at it another way we are only in Venice on the 23rd for one hour as we depart at 1 am. This is what has confused the guests and they are in a way right because what we should have put is the 23rd as a sea day, which in reality it certainly is. So, the comments started to come in and all of them mentioned the same thing and that was the arrival. You see, with a 6 am pilot station and a 1 am departure Venice will be in darkness plus guests will either not have woken up, or will be in bed and therefore will miss the best bit……the sailing in experience that makes Venice incomparable.

Let’s face it. Venice is can be a bit ummmm……….odorous…….in some parts, not to mention ridiculously expensive, easy to get lost it and the service in restaurants is only one step above that found in a Turkish prison. But it is beyond beautiful and to sail into Venice is something that should be on everyone’s bucket list. And so realising this, I decided to see what we could do. My first step was to talk to the captain and the hotel director who both agreed that we should try and do this and so I wrote this e-mail to the beards.

From: MAGIC CRUISE DIRECTOR
Sent: Friday, August 19, 2011 7:11 PM
To: ——–(CCL)
Cc: MAGIC CAPTAIN; MAGIC HOTEL DIRECTOR
Subject: call in Venice -August 22nd,2011

As per our conversation we are receiving many comments from guests regarding our visit to Venice. We have been shown guests E Tickets that have wrong times on them and there are many who think that we are staying in Venice for 2 days. You see, regardless of the time the internet and E ticket print outs show the following:

MONDAY, AUG. 22 VENICE 7:00am
TUESDAY, AUG. 23 VENICE 1:30am

Regardless of the departure time the perception is that we are in Venice for 2 days which is misleading as it should surely say “Tuesday 23rd – At Sea” as that’s what in reality it is with a 1 am departure. Speaking to the guests, their major complaint is, apart from it being misleading, that with a 6am arrival and a 1 am departure at no time do the guests experience the incomparable experience of sailing through Venice.

Our thinking was then to arrive the night before at approx 7 pm which is when the berth is available thus giving the guests the experience they so desire. I would not mention the error on the e-ticket or the Internet but state that we realised that the guests would not get to experience the Venice arrival and so we have decided to come in early.

We are getting more and more comments each day but it is important to note that I have yet to do my travel talk for Venice and I am sure therefore that many guests have not realised our early departure yet.

Thanks for your time and consideration

John

And the beards agreed.

From: ——–(CCL)
Sent: Friday, August 19, 2011 7:52 PM
To: MAGIC CAPTAIN; MAGIC HOTEL DIRECTOR; MAGIC CRUISE DIRECTOR;
Subject: call in Venice -August 22nd,2011

I just spoke with Venice.

The ETA for the pilot will be around 7.30/7.45 They will confirm this tomorrow morning.
According to this arrival time the Magic will be by S. Marco square at sunset time. VERY NICE .

And that was that. I told the guests and there was mass cheering and applause around the whole ship and sailing into Venice was as beautiful as it always is and later that night when I walked around the ship the comments from the guests were ones of gratitude. Yes, we messed up a bit with how we labeled the time in Venice although it was perfectly correct, it was a bit misleading. But now we have done the right thing I think and hopefully the guests will appreciate it. I will let you know tomorrow how many went ashore and what the reaction was.
There are times when as a cruise director you need to be a bit……ummmmm……….careful and have an exit strategy when dealing with a difficult guest. This definitely applies when it involves being stuck talking to someone you don’t want to talk to. There are people who know exactly the right thing to say to get out of an uncomfortable or boring conversation but I am not one of those people because. Don’t know? I am just not.

Take last night for example. I had walked the lounges and spoken to many guests and chatted about shippy and porty things with them. All were nice, some wanted a photo and shook hands and hugged and one stunningly beautiful Russian guest wanted to rip my clothes off and tried to have rumpy pumpy with me on the shuffleboard table in the RedFrog Pub…..OK, that’s bollocks but a boy can dream.

Each one responded to my questions of “How do you like our new ship?” and “Are you having a fun time?” with smiles and positive words like “What a great ship,” etc. And then I met a man who wasn’t having a good time. He had a valid comment because he had no luggage (lost by Alitalia) and had been on an excursion in Rome where the bus broke down and guests had to wait 20 minutes for a replacement to arrive. Oh and he was also upset because of the Venice thing I mentioned above and to top it all off his wife had a bad cold and had been in the cabin all day in Naples and he had to stay and look after her. So I guess you could say he wasn’t having fun and I deeply sympathised with him and as we stood outside the on board shops just after midnight I really felt bad for him but honestly, I couldn’t give him my full concentration.

You see I was……… ummmmm ……desperate to go……if you know what I mean. Now other diabetics will tell you that when you take Metformin and loads of vitamins there is no such thing as regular and add something with a sugar substitute called “Subitol” in it and the call to duty can come suddenly and unexpectedly. I had been naughty a few hours before and eaten two Russell Stover sugar free caramel crispies even though I knew this would provide some shock and awe to my bottom. It was while he was telling me how it would have been nice if we had a bigger range of clothing for those who have lost their luggage (and he is right by the way, especially in Europe) that suddenly I got……..the feeling. Now I know I am talking about my bottom again but come on……we have all had that feeling, that gurgle that is followed by that instant notion that any moment now you will be touching cloth.

I couldn’t say “Sorry to interrupt you and I honestly do feel sorry for you and I will send you a huge fruit basket but I need to go to the toilet.” Instead I said my phone was ringing even though it wasn’t. I said it was on vibrate, reached into my pocket, and then pretended to take a call. Then I said it was an important call and I had to go, and politely waddled away clamping my arse cheeks together tighter than a room full of Scotsmen and went to the bathrooms outside the main theatre and let lose the hounds of hell.

I have yet to figure out the right thing to say when I want to get away from a situation but I know exactly what not to say. For instance, the lady last cruise who screamed and spat her words at me deserved me to say “I don’t want to talk to you now, piss off you rude bastard before I flick your nipple.” Nobody wants to hear that. Because as much as people say they appreciate honesty…. they don’t. Being stuck in a conversation with someone over the phone is easy. There are plenty of viable reasons you might have to go. Someone could be at the door. Or if you’re at work, you’ve just been called to an urgent meeting by someone with a beard. I’ve lost track of how many times friends have told me they’re being called to a meeting. Only after they’ve hung up it hits me: they’re at home. And it’s 10 pm.

Talking to someone from a cell phone allows for many chances to bugger off. The battery is dying. Or it’s too windy. Or, whoops – the signal was just dropped because we are in Europe and the signal is always bad here. I was talking to someone a few weeks ago who I know didn’t want to talk to me because I was calling a builder to ask why he hadn’t finished the work in Kye’s room yet and had not returned Heidi’s calls. I was in the middle of telling them unless he finished the job this week I would fly home from the Carnival Magic and insert a solid gold plastic trophy in him when the line went dead. I called back and he replied “Sorry, my cheek hit the mute button.” Yeah……….mute, my arse. By the way, I mentioned to the builder that I had a blog with 11 million views and a Facebook page with 17,000 mates on it and mentioned that unless he did finish the work then I would tell everyone that his company is the worst and only to hire him as an interior decorator if Stevie Wonder is busy.

That kind of thing is easy to say over the phone. But when you’re face to face with someone it’s entirely different. It’s not like you can say, “Hello, hello, I have lost you…..can you hear me now?” Excuses are tricky because people can actually see you. All you can do is hope that your phone rings and then says you have to take the call or a crew member sees that you need rescuing and tells you “The captain needs you on the bridge” but this never happens.

Anyway, I finished my Russell Stover-sponsored visit and there he was….still standing there. Mr. Noluggage was patiently waiting to resume where we left off. Who does that? Who watches someone go into a toilet and then waits outside? I guess he knew that my pretend phone call was bollocks and was going to stand there and prove it. Anyway, I sent him that fruit basket and as of now he still does not have his luggage and that is a terrible feeling as many of us know. Let’s hope he gets it today in Venice.

Talking of toilets did you read that on Friday that French chap with the massive nose, actor Gerard Depardieu who, on a flight from France to Dublin took out Le Thingy in front of his fellow passengers and because the toilets were locked for takeoff, unzipped and hosed down the carpet? I don’t totally blame him. Can someone of Gerard Depardieu’s size even fit in an airplane toilet? I know I have trouble and he is a big and tall man. What gets me is that the passengers had to sit on the plane for two hours while police took him off the plane and a cleaning crew was brought on the plane to clean up Le Puddle de Pee. Why……..why did they keep the passengers waiting two hours? What was the point? The plane smelt of urine and the plane was going to France………..isn’t that just called “preparation?”

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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