Mr. and Mrs. Turnitdown

September 6, 2011 -

John Heald

Wow, what a difference from last cruise. I will show you the stats in a moment but we have gone from 1,000 children to just 91. And the guests are much older as well and with that in mind have a read of this:

Guest: Mrs. ________ Ref: 941285541A
Cabin: —— Booking#: _______ Added-Changed: 09/05/11 – 09/05/11

Mrs.______ came to the GSD to say that her husband and she had left the show tonight because it was too loud. Guest was very upset and said that she wanted to meet with the cruise director as she wants the volume lowered for all the shows.

Now the show she was unhappy about was my show, the Welcome Aboard Show, which apart from an overture from Jimmy Boore and the Showtime Orchestra members, is just me, talking on a microphone. And if Mr. and Mrs. Turnitdown were going to complain about a tub of lard with a microphone, what would they have to say about the high-energy Destination Unknown magic show tonight?

Here on the ships, we have become very conscious about the levels of sound in all our lounges and in the main theatre especially. Levels have been set that fall in accordance with bearded guidelines and are closely monitored by our Apple-loving, nostril-pierced technicians. Now, we do get a few comments about the levels of sound in the main show room especially during our big production shows but compare these comments to those of say five years ago, they are few and far between which is due to said beards with names like Erik, James, Geoff and Joe (sounds like a boy band) who have really made sure we don’t go over the guidelines they have set.

So, baring this in mind and before preparing Mr. and Mrs. Turnitdown a basket of apples and plums experience told me that I needed to check where they had been sitting during the show and to find out a little bit about them and discovered they were in their late seventies. I met them this morning during excursion departures for Marseilles and asked them to show me exactly where they were sitting during the show and they were right under one of the main speakers and both were wearing hearing aids which I guess amplified the sound even more.

I had asked Rebecca the sound technician to report on what DB (decibel level) she had run the show at and she told me it was around 90 DB. Now consider that a normal person talks at 60 DB and rock concert by someone like Guns & Roses, Limp Cookie, AC/DC or Celine Dion runs around 150 DB, you can see that the Welcome Aboard show had run within proper parameters. But as I said to Mr. and Mrs. Turnitdown if they sit directly under a speaker and you have sensitive ears and a hearing aid ……it’s going to be loud. I then led them to the center of the Showtime theatre and gave them some suggestions on where it might be the most comfortable to sit. I have to say though that as I often see here on the blog as well it appears that Mr. and Mrs. Turnitdown were not familiar with the words “please” and “thank you” and more on that in a moment.

I know that there were many bad things about living in the past such as the plague, crapping in a hole in the ground and no Megan Fox’s bottom to search for on the internet but there was one marvelous thing our ancestors had that we’ve lost ………….a nice bit of peace and quiet.

If you were a peasant wandering through the forest, you might have terrible teeth and absolutely no sense that the Earth was round, but at least there wasn’t much noise. No cell phones ringing, no thruster noise as you dock at a port, no flight paths, dishwasher beep or elevator Muzak, no tss-tss-tss Eye Pods or those bloody annoying cruise directors and their long-arsed announcements trying to sell you gold by the inch from the gift shops. No screaming Russian guests, just some birds tweeting and the occasional chomping noise as a caveman had his head bitten off by a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Not anymore.

The soundtrack to modern life is getting louder and more persistent. Even here on the ship the refrigerator in my cabin beeps at me if I leave it open for more than three seconds and the computers chirp and chime every time an email comes in and the phone rings and and and….

And when was the last time you could honestly say you sat down and read a book without some great, bellowing noise ruining your concentration? That’s why we must always have some areas on our shops with no music, no nothing, just the sound of the sea. Guests can also read and relax in the peace and quiet of their cabin where the announcements from that fat cruise director are never heard and where the phone never rings and where the only sound is the couple in the cabin next door having a massive session of rumpy pumpy……….the lucky bastards. But as I sit here this Tuesday morning in my underpants there is peace and quiet. It’s 6:45 am and the phone won’t ring and the raspberry won’t beep for at least another two hours and the only sounds in my cabin are the click, click, click of the keyboard and the gentle “wooommmpppphhh” of my arse.

Oh by the way, please don’t think of me as cruel but when I was talking to Mrs. Turnitdown she obviously had her hearing aid turned down a bit and I had to repeat myself once or twice so she could hear. Mrs. Turnitdown did all the talking while her husband said nothing, I wouldn’t mind betting he had been saying nothing for many years.

Anyway, I was explaining about the speakers and the volume and was in the middle of a sentence when Mrs. Turnitdown interrupted me to give me a lecture on how we at Carnival could learn from the theatre at their retirement community in Boca Raton, Florida. And it was as I stood in the Showtime theatre at 8:45am being shouted at by a lady who kept adjusting her hearing aid that I couldn’t help but think of Mrs. Richards. Who is Mrs. Richards……well let’s meet her shall we?

Time for some Q and A………..let’s go.

Linda Parsons Asked:
Hello John,

I am booked on the Carnival Dream the first week in December. My first and my other half’s ninth. It’s also our “honeymoon” trip. I was wondering about the weather around that time, mild or cool? Also wondered if there was some sort of water aerobics, or zumba/exercise done aboard ship? Thanks for looking at my question.

Linda Parsons

John Says:
Hello Linda Parsons

I am sure you are getting excited about your honeymoon cruise on your Carnival Dream and you will be happy to know that there will be Pilates, yoga and spin classes available at the Cloud 9 Spa on the ship. If you have any questions about these classes then please let me know as obviously I take them every day, seeing me in the down facing dog thingy is a treat let me tell you. The weather will be fine, certainly not cool but not as humid as the summer although it will be sun bathing and swimming weather for sure. All in all you will have a brilliant cruise and the perfect start to what I hope will be many happy years together.

Best wishes.

Michelle Fortson Asked:
We had a nice time on our Pride cruise but I was really surprised that there was nothing provided by Carnival and not one staff member came to our Meet & Greet. There were probably about 50 people who said they were coming and at least 40 showed up. Not a cookie or a glass of water was provided and not one person from the ship’s staff showed up. I have been to quite a few Meet and Greets (mostly on RCCL and NCL) and refreshments are always provided, usually some sort of souvenir and usually lots of people from the entertainment staff and the officers come and greet us and say a few words. We had the captain, cruise director and the heads of all the departments all saying something and telling us to contact them directly if we had any problems. They treat us Cruise Critic members like gold. (The power of the pen). I just think that that is poor customer relations on Carnival’s part.

John Says:
Hello Michelle Fortson

I am very glad to know that you had a great cruise on the Carnival Pride. Obviously I cannot comment about other lines but although we appreciate and respect that Cruise Critic is an important site for cruisers to discuss the pros and cons of cruising and to assist fellow readers with advice and assistance, we only provide a room when asked to arrange a meet and greet. I know the cruise director or a member of the entertainment staff will always try to attend if they can although it is rare that our captains will do so. I will continue to assist in arranging a room for these events and have the time and place mentioned in the Fun Times. I hope despite not having a cookie and a free souvenir that you had fun meeting your on-line friends.

Best wishes

Theresa Fecik Asked:
We are going on our third cruise on the Carnival Pride on April 8, 2012. This time, we are bringing our kids for the first time. I was wondering if they do anything special for Easter on the ship for the kids (and for the adults). I know this is a religious holiday so I am not expecting the Easter Bunny or anything. A choice of ham at dinner would be nice though.


John Says:
Hello Theresa Fecik

Yes indeed there will be. Camp Carnival will organise a very special Easter egg hunt around the ship and there will be a superb Easter dinner as well in the dining room. I cannot promise religious services though but I can promise you will have a brilliant family cruise vacation.

Best wishes.

Glenda Asked:
My DH of 12 years and I will be joining the Spirit on Nov 4 for her 9 day cruise and want to reserve a table for two by the window. Our booking number is ******. John, we are both professional bridge instructors having done stellar work in this capacity for Holland America and also Crystal. Who do I need to talk to at Carnival to arrange complimentary cruises in return for professional bridge instruction and tournament organization? We run the Bridge Deck Club in Naples, Florida and your passengers would appreciate our services so please by return send me confirmation of our table for two requests and the contact information.

John Says:
Hello Glenda

We certainly do have bridge players on specific voyages such as Panama Canal and trans-Atlantic crossings, although it isn’t as popular as it is on Holland America and other lines. Thanks so much for offering your services but we actually use an agency for this already if and when we require bridge instructors. I have asked the maitre d on the Carnival Spirit to do his best to get you your table for two and I wish you both a brilliant time on the Carnival Spirit.

Best wishes.

Tracy Asked:
Dear John, (Please respond)

I have been a blog reader for well over a year, and first wanted to say that I love your blog and think its bloody brilliant! My fiancé and I just booked ourselves for Bloggers Cruise 5 on the Carnival Magic, and are very excited.  We are so looking forward to meeting you, and also are looking forward to Ron Pass (we just love him, too). We’ve cruised many times on several lines, but love the value and fun of Carnival. Since this is our first Bloggers Cruise, I was wondering if you can tell me when more information will be available on the bloggers events.  Specifically, I understand that there is a special bloggers excursion that is offered.  I usually plan all our excursions well in advance, but we would like to know what the bloggers option is before confirming everything else. And will you be participating in this excursion?  Any information you have would be appreciated. Thanks for everything you do to make most guests have a wonderful vacation (I know there are always some people who are never happy and can’t be pleased) don’t let the few get to you!

Thank you.
Tracy (Looking forward to March!!)

BTW – you mentioned Alaska cruises a few weeks ago – we went to Alaska this spring and it really was a trip of a lifetime – as much as I love the sun of the Caribbean, this was by far the best trip I’ve ever taken!

John Says:
Hello Tracy

I was thrilled to read that you have booked Bloggers Cruise 5 and both Ron and I will do all we can to make sure it is the best cruise ever. I will be working on the events in October but I can tell you there will be morning get togethers, tea times, private shows and much more. Then there will be a private excursion in Cozumel which although not confirmed just yet will probably be a beach event similar to the one we had on BC3 or was it BC2? Anyway, I will release details as soon as I can as I realise that many guests like to book in advance. I can tell you that it will be a brilliant cruise especially as we are holding it here on the Carnival Magic, a ship you will truly love. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes to you both and see you soon.

Patricia Halverson Asked:

Hello John.

We are three women traveling on the Magic Oct 28 out of Barcelona. Could you tell me when can we take our suitcases to the port or how early can we take them the ship does not leave until 5 but if we have to be out of the hotel we would like to sightsee and do not know what we are going to do with our luggage. Thank you for all the good stories. Love Carnival — my 11th trip.


John Says:
Hello Patricia Halverson

It won’t be too long before you are here on the Carnival Magic. Unfortunately there is no checked luggage at the terminal, so you have two choices. First of all, you can come straight to the ship and check in as early as 10:30am. You can hand your luggage to the porters and then turn around and get a taxi to Las Ramblas and explore. You will still need to have your carry-ons with you though as there is nowhere to put them as the state rooms are not ready until 1:30pm. The other choice is to maybe pre-book a minivan taxi online and arrange them to collect you and your luggage from your hotel and then after touring bring you to the ship. Please remember the final check in time is 4 pm. Whatever you decide to do, I wish you a wonderful time and thanks for your loyalty to Carnival.

Best wishes.

Benedict Ashley Montgomery Asked:
Hi John,

How would you advise me to go about one of my career ambitions to become a cruise director? I attended a theatre school full time for seven years so have experience in entertainment. Keep up the fantastic blog as I said it does brighten up my day as I had a rough few years with people at school (thank God I’ve now taken my GCSEs) and now a brand new start.

Best wishes.

John Says:
Hello Benedict Ashley Montgomery

Thanks so much for the kind words about the blog and to get you started may I suggest you have a look at which has all the information about the job and how to apply for the position of entertainment staff. I hope your dreams come true and if there is anything else you think I can help you with, please let me know.

Best wishes.

Deena Goodman Asked:

I’m cruising on the Spirit Oct 21 2011, The roll call on the CC site and myself have planned a door decorating contest and would like to run this over with the CD of the Spirit……..We have trophies and medals and honorable mention ribbons..And first prize ………bar coupon book …….. 2nd…… coupon and 3rd soda coupon book… Was needing the CD’s assistance in getting the ballots out. Or do I just go to various venues on board and hand them out to the PAX? Please let me know the best way to handle this. Our medals are engraved with the ship’s name and date and will be given with a trophy and prize stated above.

Thank you.

John Says:
Hello Deena Goodman

Sounds like a fun event and I have sent this to the Carnival Spirit cruise director who will be in touch with you when you board. I am sure we can add a few prizes as well. Do you have a meet and greet arranged or would you like me to do this for you. Please let me know here or if possible through my Facebook page so I can get started on helping you. I hope you all have a wonderful time.

Best wishes.


That’s all for today and I will be back tomorrow with more.

OK, please join me in congratulating the winners of August’s employees of the month here on the Carnival Magic.



And as promised here are the new dessert menu rotations for the three- and four-day cruises.

So with the office closed yesterday for Labor Day, I haven’t had a chance to tell you who is sailing with us today so here is that information.

GUESTS                                 3721


RUSSIAN                              289

BRITISH                                328

SPANISH                               101

DUTCH                                  46

GERMAN                              44


So 411 French Canadians all of which will have their Fun Times translated into French… me. And as mentioned we only have 91 children. Now at this point I usually show you where we are going but today it’s a little different as you will see from this copy of the letter that every guest received when they boarded the ship.


September 4, 2011

Welcome fun seekers!

We’re excited to have you sailing with us aboard the beautiful Carnival Magic. We can’t wait to show you all the fun activities we have in store for you!  In the meantime, we just need a moment of your time to give you an update on our itinerary. 

Earlier this week, we sent you an email to make you aware of a potential general strike in Italy that could affect our scheduled itinerary. The strike will impact all Italian ports, and since major demonstrations are planned in the center of Rome, many streets will be closed off to traffic and all local transportation will be halted.

At this point, it appears that the strike will proceed as scheduled and in order for us to secure tours and berthing facilities; we have confirmed the alternate itinerary previously communicated.  

We will now visit the beautiful port of Marseilles, France on Tuesday, Civitavecchia on Wednesday, and Livorno on Thursday.  Although this means we are forced to cancel our scheduled call to Naples, these changes will enable us to avoid the anticipated disruptions this coming Tuesday in Rome.  Additionally, we will be able to provide you with a new port of call and still visit Rome and Livorno (where you can tour Pisa, Florence and Tuscany), which are two of the highlights for this cruise.   Below is our revised itinerary:


Day    Port of Call                        Arrive           Depart
Sun    Barcelona, Spain                                     5:00 PM                                  
Mon    Monaco                              9:00 AM          8:00 PM                         
Tue    Marseilles, France                  7:00 AM          4:00 PM 
Wed    Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy         9:00 AM      10:00 PM
Thu    Livorno, (Florence/Pisa), Italy     7:00 AM          6:30 PM                     
Fri Fun Day @ Sea 
Sat    Dubrovnik, Croatia                 10:00 AM         7:00 PM
Sun    Venice, Italy                       2:00 PM      Overnight                                                
Mon    Venice, Italy                      Overnight        7:00 PM
Tue    Fun Day @ Sea
Wed   Messina (Sicily), Italy             7:00 AM          4:00 PM
Thu    Fun Day @ Sea
Fri    Barcelona, Spain                    5:00 AM          


You’re going to love Marseilles, known for its stunning Mediterranean coastline and beautiful architecture. Enjoy the city’s natural beauty when you stroll along Marseille’s main street La Canabiere lined with cafes and attractive hotels. Be sure to visit the famous Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica, situated at the highest natural point in Marseilles. No matter what you do in this old city, you’ll be sure to leave with lots of beautiful memories as souvenirs. Reserve your fun tours for Marseilles, from the comfort of your stateroom through the interactive television or visit our shore excursions desk located on Lobby, deck 3 – forward.

Just one more thing…all pre-purchased shore excursions for Civitavecchia and Livorno will be automatically adjusted to the new day and time and tours purchased for Naples will be refunded to your on board Sail & Sign account.

We apologize for this change in plans and thank you for your understanding.  My officers, staff and crew are committed to providing you a FUN and magical cruise vacation.

See you on board soon!

Captain Salvatore Rassello
Carnival Magic


So, a general strike in Italy means that today we are in Marseilles instead of Rome. What they are striking about I am not sure. It could be money, conditions of work or that Italian men should have the right to slap any woman’s bottom they want to without fear of prosecution, who knows. What I do know is that many thousands of demonstrators will be in Rome today and therefore we canceled the port. So, we will be in Rome tomorrow where unlike today the major attractions will be open and the trains and buses will be operating as normal. Unfortunately this has meant we have had to sacrifice one of the ports and that port is Naples. If it wasn’t Naples it would have been Dubrovnik or indeed Rome itself but after much discussion we decided it should be Naples. At my welcome aboard orientation talk I explained that we could return to Naples on the sea days as we would be much further north and overall everyone seems to have accepted the change. However, as normal there are exceptions and here are two for you to read now.

Guest: Mrs ————-Ref: 871098227A
Cabin: **** Booking#: ******Added-Changed: 09/04/11 – 09/04/11

Guest called the GSD to say how upset she was that we were canceling the port of call of Naples. Mrs_______ states that the only reason she booked this cruise was to go to Naples. Guest is asking for compensation.

Guest: Mrs ————-Ref: 8912541274A
Cabin: **** Booking#: ******Added-Changed: 09/03/11 – 09/03/11

Mr and Mrs______approached the desk to explain that they had arranged to visit their cousins in Naples who they had not seen in 18 years. Guest wants Carnival to arrange free transfer to Naples from Livorno.


So, overall we only had a dozen or so comments, although there was disappointment that we had canceled Naples. However, let’s look again at the two above starting with the first one and here let’s play a game. I will type out a sentence and you fill in the blank. If the only reason you took this cruise was to go to Naples then why didn’t you __________. And demanding compensation for this is a load of_____________.

See, you didn’t need me did you?

One has to have a degree of sympathy though for couple number two who was looking forward to seeing their family whom they have not seen for 18 years. We won’t be providing free transportation although we have allowed them free phone calls to their family in Naples which because the couple are from Pennsylvania and speak no Italian and the family from Naples speak no English, Fredarica our Italian GSA did the talking.

So we will be in Rome tomorrow and today we are in Marseilles where the weather is lovely as it was yesterday in Monaco.

As you know I refer to the Carnival shoreside management as “beards.” Actually, the beards come in two categories. There are the senior beards led by Chief Executive Beard Gerry Cahill and then there are the techy beards who also eat tofu three times a day and worship at the altar of Apple. The beards are the men and women who will be shaping the future of your favourite cruise line. Many of them actually have facial hair and not just the men, but that’s a story for another day. And now I think I just may grow one too.

Shipboard crew is not allowed beards but I may say bollocks to the rules and turn my back on corporate rules and grow one. Johnny Depp did and everyone said he looked like a stud muffin, so then can I?  But there is another reason why I am going to let hair spring forth from my face. And that’s the price of sodding razor blades! Bloody hell, it’s pure robbery and is so expensive it would have Donald Trump saying “how much” to the shop assistant at Walgreens.

And while it’s expensive in the states, try buying them in Barcelona. I asked my assistant Mel to get me some Gillette Mach 3 Turbo blades for me and she came back saying I owed her 28 Euros, for four blades.  Four…….not 40……..but a lonely four. I could not believe it. So can someone explain to me then why razor blades probably cost about 50 cents each to make, but are so expensive to buy? Maybe they are so expensive as Gillette has to pay David Beckham millions of dollars to stand at a mirror shaving with a cucumber shoved down his underpants.

There are other things that cost so much to buy that I wonder why they can get away with such baffling sums of money. Batteries, sun lotion oh and bottled water that has been “flowing through the Swiss mountains for hundreds of years” yet costs ridiculous amounts and comes with a sodding sell by date!  But I can’t grow a beard because shaving is a manly thing. It is something that shows we are the stronger race that we are indeed………

Or at least that’s what I thought until I discussed the outrageous price of Gillette razors with Calvyn. He told me that he uses the complimentary six packs of Venus disposable lady razors we place in the cabins. “They will do everything” he said. “Legs, armpits, they even tidy my downstairs shrubbery.”

Yep……….time to grow a beard.


Your friend,

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.