ARE WE READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?

September 8, 2011 -

John Heald

This morning we are going to talk about kids and kids on a cruise. That’s because the beards sent me this post which was received on the blog yesterday.

Julie Valance asked:
Hello John,

We are booked to cruise on the Carnival Dream ship for Thanksgiving and were horrified when we read a report on Cruise Critic about kids throwing food and picking it up with their hands, then replacing it and running riot in the around the elevators at all hours of the day and night. They even saw a kid eat ice cream directly from the ice cream machine. Having read this John we are now very seriously thinking of canceling the cruise. We don’t have or like kids and would rather not be around them if they are going to behave like that and ruin my cruise. Why doesn’t Carnival control them so this doesn’t happen? Please respond!!!!

John says:
Hello Julie Valance,

I enjoy reading Cruise Critic threads as much as I enjoy stubbing my toe because often I am portrayed as an overweight, unfunny bag of hot air (which could be true) and sometimes because some of the stuff posted there is utter nonsense……….take last week’s posting that claimed “all the cabins on the port side of the ships will be 100 percent non-smoking.”

Yes, there will be many families cruising during Thanksgiving on all the Carnival ships and we are very proud about that, it’s always wonderful to see families cruising together. The vast majority of children will be well behaved and I hope that you will not worry and remember that what you read on Cruise Critic is one person’s opinion, one person’s story and I am sure if you were to ask others they will tell you that they had a brilliant time. There will be children on board Julie and I promise most will be well behaved ones and that the ones that are not will be asked to be so by Carnival staff but importantly I hope they will be asked to do so by their parents. You have worked hard and looked forward to this cruise for a long time I am sure. You deserve it and please don’t let one report stop you from having the vacation you so richly deserve.

Best wishes and I do hope you have a brilliant time on your Carnival Dream.

John

“Why doesn’t Carnival control them so this doesn’t happen?” Good question. Well let’s start by saying that most children are well behaved and most parents make sure that they are. However, it would be ridiculous of me to say that all kids are perfect and all parents make sure their kids respect the ship and the other guests. And of course there are times when kids will be simply ……….. just kids.

Since I write this blog, I guess I have to try explain why some parents do let their children do basically what they want which is tricky because I don’t have a sodding clue. Some people don’t like children, I understand that but what I don’t understand is why some people say that kids being kids sometimes can ruin someone’s cruise.

Now we have a security staff and they will try to stop as many naughty kids as they can. Overall, I think the children on our ships behave well and families are content to allow them to enjoy the three children’s entertainment areas of Camp Carnival, Circle C and Club O2, safe in the knowledge that the kids themselves are safe and are having fun.

There are though of course some exceptions and the one incident I remember sums that up. It was on board the Carnival Glory back in 2003 and I was walking through the main lounge before a show. As I walked toward the stage I was quickly surrounded by a group of approximately 10 kids aged 14 to 17 I would say. I wasn’t even remotely bothered when the swarm of children first approached. I figured they were just being friendly and wanting to say “hi” to the cruise director. But no. What they wanted to know most of all was if I had prizes for them…give us solid gold ships on stick they said while pulling on my suit jacket. I asked them politely to leave me alone because I had to start the show.

I walked away. I even walked away a bit more. But they kept coming ………. then one lad started to pull on my tie causing the others to laugh. Seeing that the others were enjoying this entertainment, he continued by poking me in the stomach. And so, figuring that being proactive was probably the best form of defense, I grabbed the bugger by his arm and explained, firmly, that it’d be best if he went back to Camp Carnival to play with the other children. I realized I was in a tricky spot and that’s because I have reached the age where I am no longer able to tell how old a child is. The boy could have been 17. Or he could have been seven. And if he did turn out to be seven, I figured I could be in a spot of bother plus there were 100 plus guests already seated for the show that would start in 30 minutes. So, I was standing there holding this boy by the arm, and instead of worrying about being the names he was calling me I was actually thinking, “Bloody hell, I’m going to get in trouble here if I am not careful.”

I let go of the little sod and very politely I told them to leave and after a few more bits of name calling, they did. Immediately I was surrounded by guests telling me they had witnessed the whole incident and they would all be “on my side.” Now, I should have called security but they had all left and I had no idea of their names and besides I had also been in the wrong for stopping the one kid pulling my tie and poking me viciously in the stomach by grabbing his arm.

I never saw the kids again and I regret losing my cool but for some reason this hooligan had put me over the edge. But in all my 24 years as a cruise director this is one of only a handful of incidents I can remember. There were the little bastards that stole and damaged blog reader Southern Dreams electric scooter and the kids who throw some golf putters overboard here on the Carnival Magic. But apart from that, the kids I have seen day in and day out are ones who are just happy-go-lucky excited to be on a cruise ship kids. Yes, they run, yes they jump and yes they spill ice cream on the floor but isn’t that what we did as children? OK, it might not have been on a ship but we all did that kind of thing, didn’t we? Parents are responsible and Carnival is responsible to make sure the children behave and for the most part……..that’s exactly what happens. Children these days are young free spirits yet there are some who expect them to be the Von Trapp family!

I have a very special kid here this cruise. His name is Diallo. He is the African adopted son of Scott and Trisha who are from North Carolina and he is obviously the apple of their eye. Diallo (which I was told means Bold) is nine years old and has autism and I met him at the show last night. He was on the front row of the show and I noticed as I walked out to do the introduction noticed he was reading a recipe book. Trisha told me that he sits and reads recipe books all day long and that he could memorise hundreds of recipes. I shook hands with Diallo and although he was obviously shy he had a smile as wide as the Carnival Magic and hopefully he smiled again today when he saw the Carnival recipe book I put in his cabin. I also have to comment how extraordinary his parents are to adopt this young man from Africa ready and willing to give him a brilliant home despite the obvious challenges they will face. Kids……I love them…..I went to school with them.

Time for today’s Q and A…….off we go.

The Barsby Family asked:
Hi John,

Discovered your blog when it was mentioned by the cruise director on our Carnival Miracle cruise and have read it ever since. It is so much fun and I love the way you help people so it’s my turn now to ask for a special request. Our next cruise will be on Carnival Conquest and the cruise date is 10/17/11 and what I would like is a table for just us four. You see my son will be heading for his first posting as a Lieutenant (Junior Grade) with the US Navy in December and will on be with his carrier for seven months before we see him again. Anything you could do to make this cruise one where we could spend the maximum time together would be so appreciated.

Thanks again John for all you do.

John says:
Hello The Barsby Family,

I am thankful to my colleague on the Carnival Miracle for pointing you in the direction of this blog so that you could enjoy it and also ask me for your table request. I will ask the maitre d to assist you with this and I am sure that he will be able to make sure that the seven days you spend aboard the Carnival Conquest will be extra special at dinner times when you are all together. I am sure you must be very proud of your son and I wish him a safe deployment and I wish you all a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Elizabeth B asked:
John,

Does Carnival decorate their ships during the holiday season? I ask that as someone of the Jewish faith who is thinking of cruising over the holidays but doesn’t want Christmas shoved in their face if you know what I mean. Is Carnival sympathetic to other religions and if I go on the Carnival Valor which is the boat I am thinking of going on have Hanukah celebrations?

John says:
Hello Elizabeth B,

Thanks for writing to me and yes we do celebrate both Christmas and Hanukah on board all our ships. For guests of the Jewish faith there is the Menorah lighting service and during our holiday show we have the Dreidel Song included. I am sure you will find a wonderful atmosphere on board and I hope that you will discover that being on a cruise for the holiday season is a lot of fun. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes.

John

Joe Czajkowski asked:
John –

First, let me say that I generally don’t follow any blogs, but since my wife and I will be celebrating our 10th Anniversary on the Carnival Pride August 14, I decided to give yours a look see. It is brilliant! Your irreverence is so refreshing. I hope whoever is the cruise director on the Carnival Pride has half your sense of humour and your joie de vivre (pardon my French!) I have favourited the blog and intend to keep following even after we return from our trip. Now to the very important question at hand, my wife has recently taken to drinking Bud Light Lime (not sure if I can mention a brand name, but too late) and has sworn off all other alcoholic beverages. Is it available on the Carnival Pride? 10th Anniversary Rumpy Pumpy is depending on this!

Regards,

Joe C.

John says:
Hello Joe Czajkowski,

This is one of those posts that has me sitting here in my underpants shouting “bugger.” That’s because I have answered this post after your cruise has come and gone. Thanks for the kind words and my sincere apologies that I missed this. I hope you enjoy your beer on the cruise and it gave your wife refreshment and you both lots of horizontal refreshment, as well. Thanks again for reading the blog and I am so sorry that I missed your sail date.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Julie Lee asked:
Hi John,

This is not really a question. I just wanted to tell you what a fantastic time we had on Carnival Dream (7-23-11). The captain, crew and staff were wonderful. They work so hard and it makes me mad that so many people have complained. I worried after reading the reviews (very glad I ignored). There are very rude guests that have to be dealt with and the staff and crew were always friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. Our stateroom steward, who needs to be named but to my shame I have forgotten it (cabin 10286), even helped us decided what to do in Roatan because he lives there. We felt like we were leaving family when we walked off of that ship! Waiters –Deori and Komang — are priceless! Stefan from the bar talked to us every night in the Scarlet Dining room even though we are not huge drinkers. He was so funny! So to all the complainers — you are idiots and to anyone undecided — there is no way you can go wrong sailing on the Carnival Dream. I just wish I had not had to leave! Thank you so much for such a wonderful first cruise and so many memories.

John says:
Hello Julie Lee,

The timing of this post could not have been better with another Julie – Julie Valance whose post at the top of today’s blog was one of concern about her Carnival Dream cruise. I am so thankful to you for taking the time to write and I will make sure the right people see this and, of course, the crew members you mentioned will be thrilled. Thanks once again and if there is anything you need before you sail again please let me know.

Best wishes.

John

Arlene asked:
John,

I will be cruising with my three BFFs on the Carnival Destiny in September and I have read lots of comments on Cruise Critic about the Carnival Destiny and most of them have said she is the worst ship ever and that the ship has a bad smell and that all the crew are rude. Could you please tell me this ain’t so.

John says:
Hello Arlene,

I hope this answer reaches you before you sail this month. There is lots I could say here but let me keep this simple. For every single negative review on the Carnival Destiny I can show you many many more positive ones and let me also say this. The crew is not rude. There is no bad smell on the ship. And based on the review cards that the guests fill in each cruise Carnival Destiny is rated very highly. I wish you and your……….OK I have to admit I have no idea what BFFs are ……… but whoever they are I wish you all a wonderful time.

John

Jackdaw asked:
Hi John,

I agree with David L, your coffee on lido is undrinkable and another ploy to get people to buy coffee from the coffee place. You are fooling nobody here as this is another ploy by the Carnival management to cheapen the product as much as possible and force passengers to spend more on the ships. Come on then Heald, let’s hear the excuses.

John says:
Hello Jackdaw,

No spin mate. I have heard both good and not-so-good reviews of our Lido coffee and I’m really not sure how it compares to Princess and Cunard and other lines to be honest. I am a bit of a coffee snob and while I buy mine from the coffee shop I know many hundreds of guests prefer the coffee from Lido. I hope you do too mate and please sip it carefully as its often very hot and I would hate to see you burn your tongue or accidently drop it in your lap and burn your dangly bits……..oh, how I would hate that……so please, be careful.

Best wishes.

John

Suzanne Celentano asked:
John,

My parents and I traveled with you way back in November 1991 on the Holiday. We sailed from Miami to the western Caribbean for seven nights. You were so wonderful and so CRAZY that we have never forgotten you! You absolutely MADE the cruise for us! I believe I have a picture that I will have to send later. Anyway……..I see the cruise director schedule is posted until the end of the year. When will the schedule be posted for 2012? We would love to sail with you again, but we are not able to go this year. I am looking forward to your response and Congratulations on your tenure at Carnival. I hope the “beards” know what a valuable asset you are to Carnival!!

Regards,

Suzanne Celentano

John says:
Hello Suzanne Celentano,

Goodness me, the Holiday, 1991. I have some clear memories of my time on that ship and was reminded of them last Sunday when the ship was docked in front of us in Barcelona. She is now the Grand Holiday and seeing her there and reading your wonderfully kind email has been a great trip down memory lane. I would love to have you cruise with me again and I will be mostly on the new Carnival Breeze that arrives in Europe in May and then after a few months in the Med will be sailing out of Miami in November. I will post the exact dates I will be on there in the new CD schedule which will be out in the next few weeks and posted here on the blog. Thanks again for getting in touch and I hope we are all together very soon.

Best wishes,

John

JE asked:
John,

My co-workers and I love to cruise Carnival! We have a unique question for you. We work as 911 dispatchers, answering 911 calls and dispatching the appropriate police, fire and EMS crews and were talking about how that works on our favorite ships! So collectively, we write you asking, where do the 911 calls on ships go? Is there a “dispatch” area on board or is it all handled through security! Thank you for answering for us curious dispatchers…….now off your site and back to work! Though were sure it’s more fun to dispatch on board!

John says:
Hello JE,

First of all thanks for all you do. There are many unsung people in the world and the 911 dispatchers are certainly one group who deserve so much recognition for the calm and professional way they handle emergencies. We have our guest services desk manned 24 hours a day and the 911 line goes straight to them. We also have another emergency line 33 which goes straight to the bridge. Thanks for all you do and I hope we see you and your friends on board very soon.

Best wishes to all.

John

Paul Bergeron asked:
Hi John,

Just wanted to thank you for all your help with our recent deaf group on Carnival Triumph. The dining arrangements you made for us were fantastic and the private muster drill made things so much easier. I cannot say enough good things about the crew of the Carnival Triumph. Everyone was so accommodating and so eager to help. As soon as we arrived, two young ladies from guest services met with us and provided large print lists of the excursions and also of the Fun Times to some of our group that also had vision problems. We gave them our dining room table number and they made sure we had large print menus available at dinner. Tom Evans of the entertainment staff was assigned to coordinate with our group. It was like having our own genie on board. Whenever I had a question or request, he would pull out his note book, write something down, and our questions would be answered and our requests granted. He set up a tour of the galley for us that we all thoroughly enjoyed. Another entertainment staff member, Alex Karls was always around and eager to help whenever Tom was not available.

The two sign language interpreters Carnival provided for us did a fantastic job. We really appreciate the fact that Carnival provides this service and it makes our cruise so much more enjoyable. Thanks again for your help. Can you pass this on to someone at Carnival so they can see how much we appreciate all they do for us and so that the crew members can get the recognition they deserve. Jo-Ann and I are still trying to decide between your Bloggers Cruise in March and another deaf group cruise in April. We will definitely be cruising with you again!!!!

John says:
Hello Paul Bergeron,

A wonderful review and I am so glad that all worked out. It was my pleasure to help and get the ball rolling but it was the hard work of my colleagues on board that made sure your group had the best of times. I will make sure they get to read this and whatever cruise you decide to sail on, I will be here if you need my help.

Best wishes to you all.

John

VIC NAHRA asked:
HI JOHN,

MY WIFE AND I HAVE TRAVELED WITH YOU IN THE PAST AND WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO BEING WITH YOU ON THE CARNIVAL FREEDOM IN JUNE 2012.MY QUESTION TO YOU IS AFTER READING YOUR BLOG ABOUT HOW YOU RARELY GET OFF THE SHIP. IF YOU DON’T GET OFF OFTEN, HOW ARE YOU ABLE TO GIVE TALKS ON EXCURSIONS, TELL PEOPLE THINGS TO DO IN DIFFERENT CITIES AND THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR. DO YOU JUST RELY ON INFO FROM OTHER PEOPLE TO GIVE THESE TALKS?

THANKS FOR YOUR TIME,

VIC

John says:
Hello Vic Nahra,

That’s a good question and the answer is that I have been sailing in Europe for five seasons now and three times I have spent a month or so before each season doing what we call a “fam” trip which means a familiarisation trip. This is where I visit and often participate in each and every excursion and plan along with the excursion manager and her team exactly what the guests will be doing. Once the season starts, I get weekly updates on any changes from the staff and feel very confident that the knowledge I am passing on is correct and hopefully the guests find it useful. I will see you next year and if you have any questions please let me know.

Best wishes.

John

That’s it for today and thanks so much for all the questions and comments.

As a cruise director it is always brilliant to meet guests one on one, having your photo taken and being told how much someone has enjoyed your show and that you are a good cruise director. It is also rewarding when you can turn a negative into some kind of positive and it is also very much part of the job to have to stand and listen to someone who regardless of what you say is going to want to tell you what I or the company I work for has done wrong. This is the job of the cruise director. I accept all of the above and even don’t mind when a lady puts her Chewbacca sized hand on my arse while having a photo…..this is all collateral damage….. As long as they don’t invade my personal space.

However, there are some guests who cross that sacred barrier, which they must know is there, and invade my territory and that’s what happened on this cruise. I am now deep in the brown stuff because I wrote on my Facebook page how a guest who had posted here on the blog had rubbed my stomach, told me I would be dead by the time I was 55 and then tried to get me to buy some wonder pills that would have me losing weight rapidly. I wrote about this on Facebook and I expressed my frustration that he had touched me and tried to sell me 60 pills for $120 plus a chance to join a scheme that would make me and him “rich” by me using my position on board by selling them on the ship. I guess I was somewhat naive writing the words I did on Facebook because the guest is on board and read what I had written. Now I never used his name but I can understand that he was upset. At first I was asked to apologise by a junior senior beard but then after really thinking about it I decided no…….no, because I had done nothing wrong. But this guest is exactly that, a guest and I have to respect that and so this is the letter I placed in his cabin.

Dear______

Obviously things did not go well after our first meeting and after you rubbed my stomach and told me my daughter would not see her father live past her 10th birthday I walked away from you as mad as anything. I vented my anger on my Facebook page. While I cannot apologise for that, especially as I at no time used your name, I can see why this made you angry and prompted you to contact the Miami office.

I am the cruise director of the ship and my job is to make people happy and provide them with the fun that Carnival is proud to advertise can be found on all our ships. And while I will do my best to provide this fun I am not going to discuss my private life or indeed my family with you or anyone unless it is on my terms. I respect that the pills you have taken have helped you lose lots of weight and I am delighted for you but they are not for me.

So please, with seven days of the cruise still to go I offer a hand of friendship and respect and hope that you will agree to meet with me sooner rather than later. You can contact me 24 hours a day via the guest services desk and I truly hope that you will.

Sincerely,

John

That was placed in the cabin early this morning so I hope tonight I get a reply. I need to change the subject and I am sure you do too so ……..are you ready for some football?

Cabin: _____ Booking#: ______ Added-Changed: 09/07/11 – 09/07/11

WANTS FOOTBALL (AMERICAN) ON BIG SCREEN
Guest called the GSD asking for the New Orleans and Green Bay Pirates game to be put on the big screen. GSA called the ETM and was told that we would not be receiving this game. GSA called guest who was most upset and asked to speak to CD.

Oh joy, its football season again is it? Brilliant. Now, I love basketball but I have never been educated or quite honestly could never be arsed to understand American football. I know that the Miami Dolphins are crap and that my mate Vance from public relations, a huge Miami Dolphins fan, will be in a foul mood for the next few months and even I know, unlike the South African guest services associate, that the Green Bay team is not called the Pirates……it’s the Pickers, obviously.

Ask most Brits and they will say something like “It’s so over the top. They’re just girls in padding. It goes on forever. It’s rugby for girls,” my fellow countrymen will cry. Well, in a way, they are right but there are things I do like about it. You get a proper hour of play with two or three extra ones cocooned around it in which to enjoy yourself by eating and drinking half your body weight in hot dogs, nachos and beer.

I need to ask my blog friends a question. How the sodding hell do these man mountain wide tackle receiving running quarter men fly to these games? I have no idea what airline they travel on but none that I’ve ever flown with would accommodate them. Maybe they get about on those troop carrier planes that the army used to move Jeeps and tanks about? They should go one stage further. If you dressed these massive behemoths of men in US Army uniforms armed to the teeth and got them to wander about the streets of Kabul, then I feel confident that President Obama could sort out the remaining Taliban in a matter of days. We should hire a few retired ones on board. I doubt any misbehaving kids would throw a golf club off the deck of the Carnival Magic if The Refrigerator was one of our security team…….by the way, is it sad that he is the only football player I know? Is he still playing?

Anyway, back to the guest who unsurprisingly told me in my follow up call to him that he was promised by “someone at Carnival” that we would show the game, in the Mediterranean on NBC American television while we sailed a few miles off the coast of Italy. Why do they always say that they spoke to someone at Carnival and why whenever I ask who they spoke to can they never ever remember their name? Maybe it’s Mrs. Loadofbollocks or Mr Fictiscious.

Anyway, I apologised and it wasn’t until I mentioned that the game was at night (by the way I thought football games were on Sunday and Monday) and it would be 3:30 am local time that his frustration and mild anger changed and I wish it hadn’t. You see, when I told him it would be the middle of the night that he suddenly realised I think that he had been a bit ummmm …… silly …… and he tried to be my friend, which was fine, right up until the time he called me “mate.”

Every time an American calls me “mate” I’m filled with a sudden desire to pump gas in the crack of their arse and set it on fire. Americans cannot say “mate” any more than Germans can say “squirrel.” And it’s even worse when a Brit tries to speak American. The gold medal winner on trying to speak with an English accent must go to Kevin Costner in Robin Hood. He tried hard for the first 20 minutes of the film then just gave up and returned to his American twang. I realize it must be hard. My friend Kevin I think does a good job in masking the fact that he is a kilt-wearing, haggis-eating Scot when he speaks in Grey’s Anatomy as does the guy from House. The Brits it seems are still in favor though in the movie industry. A British actor will replace Toby thingy as Spiderman and indeed a British Shakespearean actor Henry Cavill is the new Superman. Really? I read today that like so many movies like Batman and even James Bond the new Superman will be dark and brooding. Which means that instead of getting Superman to fly about and make the world go backwards, they ask what being a superhero does to a man’s soul. Can he ever love someone? Can he ever be at peace? Will our hero be found saying “Oh why can’t I be more human. I want to embrace humanity and discard my powers and open a tofu restaurant?”

Oh, FFS. Just kick Lex Luthor in the bollocks ……..and burn his thingy off with your laser eyes and use your superhuman strength to hurl it as far as you can where hopefully it will end up in Jackdaws cup of Lido coffee and he can use it as a stirrer.

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.