REAL LIBERTY NEWS IN NEW YORK

September 26, 2011 -

John Heald

Apart from the odd bad diabetic low energy day and my bleeding hemorrhoid who has been with me since the Carnival Splendor’s delivery and whom I now call Horatio…….my time on the Carnival Magic was spent in relatively good health. Yes, my carpool tunnel thingy is ongoing and I will have more news on this shortly but overall I had a good four months. So it was then sod’s law that said the moment I stepped off the plane that would change. And it did.

I am so bloody ill. For the last week I have had a runny nose, a sore throat, a nasty hacking cough and every few minutes my eyes fill with water — all the ingredients you need to make a convincing Nyquil commercial for the television. Yep, I have a cold. I was so pissed off because instead of playing with Kye in the park and taking my wife for a romantic dinner and sitting with my feet up watching my plasma TV, I spent a day in bed and three days feeling bloody awful and feeling like a total bastard because I gave it to Kye and seeing her little red face and runny nose was just awful. How come we’ve been to the moon, invented the Eyepad, built the Carnival Magic and created ways to watch Latvian women remove their clothing very slowly, on the World Wide Web thingy but still no one with a beard knows how to simply cure the cold?

And on Wednesday…….and you won’t believe this, even though it was my vacation, my one week off, Heidi decided to be selfish and get the cold, as well. Yep, that was me then looking after Kye and fetching and carrying chicken soup and throwing away her snotty tissues even though I was on my holiday and that I wasn’t feeling great myself. Unbelievable isn’t it? Anyway, this whole cold thing is not to ask you to post loads of sympathetic comments below (OK, maybe a bit) but to lead you into this next subject, which is entitled The Worst TV Program Ever Made. I came across this while Kye was having a nap and while Heidi lay on the sofa wrapped in a blanket blowing bits of Shrek out of her nostrils every five minutes. My suggestion that we should watch a whole day of Sopranos reruns was ignored. She was ill, I had made her ill and thus she would watch “her programs.” Those words alone have my old mate Horatio flaring up because in the past that has meant I have had to endure Sex and the City, The Bold and the Bollocks and various British soap operas. But nothing prepared me for that afternoon where I was forced as a loving dutiful husband who had not seen his wife for two months and had given her a cold upon doing so…….to watch back to back to back to bloody back episodes of something called Real Housewives of New York. I had no idea this program ever existed and as the opening voiceover told us we would be watching “wealth, glamour and New York style.” Style my arse. If you fed 50 cows on nothing but laxative chocolate for a week they would still not be able to produce as much s**t as the people who commissioned this show have.

Have you seen this? If you haven’t let me just say well done and tell you that all you missed were bullies in dresses happily parading their Cartier-filled lives in the reality television equivalent of a freak show. I don’t get it. Why does my wife like this, why does she record every episode and record the other shows like Real Housewives of New Jersey? Nothing happens. The women bitch and they moan and they bitch some more and then they get some Botox and then they get drunk and then they and their fake breasts go to bed. OH FFS!

I watched the first episode and then was told there were three more to go. I sat in my chair silently wishing my cold would rapidly turn into Bird Flu and I could slip silently into a coma. But I didn’t and episode 2 arrived. This featured some woman with mad looking eyes and another woman who was married to an Australian man who epitomizes the term Metrosexual.

This episode they were renovating a house and at the start of the show Heidi said that the woman would get “screwed” by the builders. Great, finally something worth watching. She would show some serious interest in his tool box and we would get some rumpy pumpy action…but we didn’t. She got screwed by the builders because the wine cooler was built into the wrong area of the kitchen. Oh joy. I am sure there are many of you reading this who love this show but honestly I would rather develop a genital wart then ever have to sit through this bollocks ever again. Fire the lot of them and bring the cameras to the ship and film Real Stateroom Stewards of Carnival Cruise Lines. Watching Ketut use a crow bar to get my underpants off the bathroom floor is far more exciting than watching a bunch of plastic women drink skinny margaritas. Countess my arse!

Time for some Q and A. Off we go.

Martin Ramsden asked:
John,

I need help with an excursion question before our cruise on the Carnival Freedom. I want to book the Chukka Cove horse back riding trip in Ocho Rios but need to make sure that my weight is not going to be a problem. I can definitely not as large as you but am definitely on the heavy side. The web site says 250 pounds and I am 260. I don’t want to get there and have them weigh me and tell me that I can’t ride. I called Carnival twice and got two different answers sums up Carnival’s customer service department recently which has been less then good and is always talked about on Cruise Critic. What do you advise I do, book or not? We cruise in January 2012 so let me know as quickly as you can so I can get my plans made.

John says:
Hello Martin Ramsden,

I checked with the tour operator and they are bringing in a special horse for you. His name is “Easy Rider.” He’s not any bigger than the others but he will have drunk 10 margaritas before you get on him and he won’t care how big you are. Seriously, I did check with the tour operator and you can indeed go on the tour so book away. It’s a wonderful trip and one I know you will enjoy in beautiful Jamaica. Have a great cruise.

Best wishes.

John


Kelli H asked:

John,

We’ll be sailing the Carnival Pride for the 7th time this October. Please be sure to convey to “The Beards” how happy we are that the Bermuda itinerary has become available. Carnival Pride feels like our home away from home, but I have to admit, the Bahamas/Port Canaveral itinerary has become a little stale. My husband and I are so looking forward to the change up. I would love to see some new and exciting routes added, maybe offering nine-day cruises, or trying to work Half Moon Cay in a little more often. We love Carnival (This is my 12th, husband’s 10th), and we love sailing from Baltimore………so please!!! Let’s see if somebody can get creative in Miami. We’ll be purchasing our FCC either way.

John says:
Hello Kelli H,

I am very glad to know that you enjoy the Carnival Pride and the addition of some Bermuda cruises. We love Baltimore and signing an extension with the port shows our commitment and I am sure that in the years ahead there will be more itineraries and longer cruises as well. The beards read the blog every day and will see this for sure. Thank you so much for your support and I wish you a wonderful time on your forthcoming cruise.

Thanks for your loyalty and my best wishes to you both.

John

Chris Holloway asked:
John,

I am a long-time cruiser but relatively new to the Carnival line of cruises. My first Carnival cruise was last year. I just wanted to write you and let you know how upset I am about the recent changes in policy regarding smoking and cigar lounges in particular. Some of my fondest memories of the cruises I have taken are of sitting in the cigar lounge with a good scotch in one hand, a fine cigar in the other and surrounded by good, friendly people who were total strangers 30 minutes prior. Not having somewhere to sit back, relax and enjoy the finer things in life will take a lot of the fun out of cruising for me. Is there any chance that these policies will be changed? Are people pushing back on the changes or is it even worth doing so? I had planned on booking a cruise on the Carnival Magic for March of 2012 but now I may have to look elsewhere with more friendly policies toward cigar smokers.

John says:
Hello Chris Holloway,

I am not sure if you are aware but I am a cigar smoker too and have been for the past 15 years or so. I too spent many wonderful nights sitting with guests and sharing stories and conversations with other cigar smokers about the joys that a fine cigar always brings. So I know exactly how you feel when you lament at the passing of these beautiful lounges that were created especially for cigar smoking. But times change and while many places on land have completely banned smoking Carnival has a at least allowed for smokers still to have options and they include smoking cigars on the cabin balconies and in various lounges depending on the class of the ship. Carnival Magic is a ship I have just returned from and there we have some wonderful outdoor areas on deck 5 portside and while you will miss the big leather chairs of the cigar bars, smoking a great cigar under the stars is the next best thing. I wish you many wonderful cigar moments some of which I hope will be on the brilliant Carnival Magic.

Best wishes.

John


Rachael Ragsdale asked:

John,

I’m a new reader to your blog so I apologize if you’ve answered this before. I’m sailing with 11 people on the Carnival Magic on Jan 8, 2012 out of Galveston. We’ve cruised a lot, but never on a big new ship. Our family is so excited! I have two questions. First, I’ve heard rumors that the public areas, like the pool, slides, buffet, and comedy club get really crowded because there are just so many more people on this huge ship (compared to the older smaller ships). Is that true? I just want to be prepared. We are so excited, and I don’t want to be let down. Second, we have the Bahamas itinerary, and I’m a little worried about Freeport. There’s just so much more to do in Nassau than Freeport. My cousins and I (all between 21-28) will enjoy snorkeling and the beach, but our parents (ages 52-62) choose not to be seen in a swimsuit any more. Do you have any suggestions for excursions for the older adults in Freeport? Thanks for your help and I look forward to being a dedicated follower of your blog.

John says:
Hello Rachael Ragsdale,

Welcome to the blog and I hope it brings you some smiles and some good information. The Carnival Magic is our best ship yet. Yep, she really is that good and despite the fact that there are anywhere from 3,700 – 4,500 guests on board I can assure you that the way she is designed means you will never think that there is. Now there will be some lines at lunchtime, saying there isn’t would be ridiculous but they move quickly and with all the new lunchtime options including the barbecue, the new dining room lunch menu and the food served on Serenity I promise you will never grow hungry. We carried some large numbers while in Europe and even with 4,500 plus on board there were few, if any, comments about lines. Now Freeport has some good excursions and I would recommend the Freeport Island Tour and the botanical gardens for your parents and you can find out more about that at carnival.com. You will love the ship, you really will and I hope you will let me know if you have any other questions before you sail. Once again, welcome to the blog thingy and have a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Lea J. asked:
Hi John,

I just wanted to tell you what a wonderful time my grandson and I had on our cruise. We just got off the Carnival Glory yesterday from a four-day cruise. I wanted to take him on a short cruise just to spend some time with him before school started back up. He’s 10, and this was his second cruise. His first cruise was on the Carnival Victory about three years ago, and he still remembers it. I have to tell you his favorite memory will always be the comedy shows we went to. We attended all four of the family shows. Al Ernst and Tommy Drake were our comedians and they had us laughing the entire time. The last sea day during Tommy Drake’s show, he chose my grandson to come up on stage to help him with a rope trick. I don’t think I have ever seen that child grin that big or for that length of time, consecutively! Tommy gave him the rope that was used and he says he is keeping it “forever.” I wish I could have taken a picture because it made the whole trip worth it to see the joy on his face at that moment in time. We had a few issues and frustrating moments during this trip, however nothing that was worth getting our panties in a bunch over! We ate ice cream for breakfast and room service for dinner at 11 o’clock on our last night. We sat in the drizzling rain, wrapped in a blanket, and watched a movie on the Lido deck. He finally got his warm chocolate melting cake for dessert. And BTW, he says that the chicken nuggets on the kids menu in the dining room are the absolute best he has ever eaten in his whole life! His words, not mine. Like I said, I just wanted to let you know what a nice time we had. They will be memories we will always be able to cherish, just between us! Carnival Rocks!!

John says:
Hello Lea J,

This is something that made me smile from ear to ear and I wanted to thank you for sharing this with us all. Both Al and Tommy are such wonderful people and always go that extra mile to help and entertain our guests and I wish I could have seen your grandson’s face while he was on stage. I will make sure both Tommy and Al get to see this and I know they too will be smiling when they do. Thanks again for taking the time to write and I hope you both get to spend some valuable time together soon. And I had better try the chicken nuggets I think.

Best wishes.

John

Juli Gilbert asked:
John,

My husband and I are cruising on the Carnival Liberty on Dec 10, we will be in room 8455, our first balcony (and an aft wrap at that) It will be our 20th anniversary. We are wondering if it is possible to have a nice dinner delivered out on the balcony one evening. Might as well get some use out of it, other than just excessive sun exposure. We think this would be a great way to dine as the sun sets. Is this available thru room service? I am new to the blog, but have been enjoying it very much.

Thanks!

Juli

John says:
Hello Juli Gilbert,

While you can order complimentary room service 24 hours a day, including wine and other spirits, we don’t serve the dinner menu on the balconies. I wish you a wonderful cruise and thanks for joining me here on the blog. If you have any more questions please let me know.

Best wishes.

John

Jessemon asked:
John,

Have you ever considered writing for one of your famous British tabloid newspapers? With the lies you tell about a company that is continuing on the downward spiral and your constant references to sex and other filth means IMHO you would be perfect.

John says:
Hello Jessemon,

I wanted to thank you so much for making me realise the one thing that this blog has been missing. A Page 3 girl. Yep, instead of John’s Mate of the Week we can have a Page 3 girl which for those who don’t know is a standard in a newspaper called The Sun here in the UK and its page 3 is two of the reasons The Sun is by far the most popular newspaper in the UK. So thanks so much for that brilliant idea and I don’t know you well enough madam to even suggest that you feature in this new section but please let me know if you decide to whip your bra off for the good of the blog and thank you in advance for your support.

Best wishes.

John

Peter Winters asked:
John,

Just got off the Carnival Sensation and another fantastic cruise. I wanted to ask a behind the scenes question if I may? I notice that many of the staff on this ship was from Eastern Europe and there were less from the Caribbean than before. Is Carnival not hiring from “the islands” anymore?

Thanks John for all you do.

John says:
Hello Peter Winters,

I am very glad to know you had fun and enjoyed the Carnival Sensation. If you ask any senior beard at any cruise line they will all tell you that one of the greatest challenges they have now and one that will always be a challenge is finding the right crew. By this I mean finding crew members that have the right qualifications and abilities to be a waiter, stateroom steward, photographer, cook, cleaner or plumber. If you go back to when I first started with Carnival the island boys as we called them were the domineering nationality with Jamaicans, Grenadians and others making up most of the dining room staff and bar department. Then we started hiring in India and then Latin America and now as you say we have gone to countries like Russia, Belarus, Romania, Croatia and other Eastern European countries. That’s because there are at anyone time many thousands of crew at sea in this industry. I have no idea how many but each and every cruise line is hiring constantly to keep each position filled. On the Carnival Magic we had 48 countries represented (fleetwide, it’s more than 100 countries represented) and that I think is the answer to your question and shows that we are hiring from……well most everywhere ………except France….obviously. It’s our job to train the crew and mould them into the best at sea and for the most part I think we do a great job with this and can continue to proudly say we do have the best crew on the seven seas. I hope you agree Peter. Thanks for writing and I am glad that you had such a great cruise.

Best wishes

John

David asked:
Hello John,

I’m currently deployed to Afghanistan with the Air Force and I have a couple of weeks before I head home to be with my family. It’s been a long year and my lovely wife decided to let me book a cruise with Carnival. This will be my first cruise with one of the big ships and my wife’s second with Carnival. Originally I wanted to book the Spirit in December for Hawaii, but my darling wife made other plans. It was her idea to book a B2B in November on the Glory for the Western and Eastern Caribbean, which I think is awesome and will let me spend some time with my wife since we have been apart for a while. The second leg of the B2B is during Thanksgiving week. I do have a couple of questions. I’ve read on your blog there was a veteran’s meet and greet on your ship. Do most ships have veteran’s meet and greet? Veterans are wonderful people and there is always a great connection with military and veterans. I love talking to veterans since they have been there and know what we are going through. My wife always tells me that my face lights up when I talk to veterans. My other question is during Thanksgiving, does Carnival do anything special?

Thank you for your wonderful blog which I find great to read during my off time here in the desert.

-David

John says:
Hello David,

Let us start by saying thank you for your service and I see that you posted this just under a month ago so you should be home now and I hope you are relaxing and enjoying some time with your family. Congratulations on booking the back to back cruise on the Carnival Glory, your wife did good there and you will have a brilliant time. There will be a veteran’s meeting and it will be listed in the Fun Times. I hope you can go along and meet some people who have done what you are doing now and I am sure they will be thrilled to meet you too. As for Thanksgiving, there will be a big dinner and a wonderful night of celebrations. Talking of which, maybe you could ask your wife to send me a note on Facebook a few days before you cruise so that I can send you a welcome home gift from us all.

Have a brilliant time. Best wishes to you both.

John

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

So here I am again, sitting here in my underpants in the office at home. It’s 9:45am, Kye has gone to play school and Heidi is shopping and so it’s just me and Planet Rock Radio and a cup of tea. I want to thank you so much for allowing me this last week off. It really meant a lot not just to me but to the girls, as well. So I guess we had better crack on then and let me tell you what’s happened and what will be happening.

More and more the beards are reading our blog and Facebook page and as one very senior beard said in a recent email “the blog and Facebook have become valuable of tools for us to see what our guests are talking to you and each other about. The opinions are written by honest Carnival guests and not by people as on other websites who may have an ulterior motive in writing negative statements.” This really was great to read and I can tell you now that from our President and CEO Gerry Cahill on down through the rank of beards they read this blog daily and the comments you make here and on Facebook. I am honoured by this and while I can’t promise that they will agree with everything you say or suggest that they are listening and that has to be a good thing.

Immediate proof of this came last week where after reading a comment on the blog about seat saving at the Punchliner Comedy Club a change in how we seat guests was made. So starting this past weekend each Punchliner host has been instructed to clear the lounge of all guests at the end of each show and then 10 minutes before the next show the doors will open again. This was already in place on a few ships but will now be standard practice across the fleet and should truly help. I also received a commitment from the same beard that the subject of deck chair saving would be addressed once again and this also came about from them reading your comments on Facebook. Yes, I know we have heard this before but there are new beards in town and I have nothing but faith in what they say. I will keep you informed on this of course.

I need to get something off my chest and apologise to someone on the Carnival Magic. I have no idea who that person is but I have asked Calvyn to post this bit on the crew notice boards on the vessel. Now like most major corporations on land we also have crew suggestion boxes. This is where the crew can drop in anonymous notes about anything they would like the ship’s command to address and these notes are then read out at the captain’s meeting each week. Now with the introduction of the new human resources director on the ship I am sure that these boxes will become obsolete as the crew will have face to face chats with someone should they have a concern. Most of the time the suggestions are about food with crew wanting different food based usually on their ethnic backgrounds. Occasionally there is a note about life on board or one that will have a little rant about a supervisor or manager but for the most part they are well written and usually things that we can act on. Although my suggestion of replacing my cabin steward Ketut with a 20-year-old Latvian girl was never honoured.

So at the captain’s meeting this past week there was apparently a note about me. James, the current CD, wrote to me and told me that a crewmember had complained that he had seen me smoking a cigar on the Lanai. Now as you know crew have been banned from smoking in all guest areas and are only allowed to smoke on the aft area of the lifeboat deck. Now for the most part I have adhered to. But during my last week on the Carnival Magic I was tired, my arm was hurting and late at night I took a walk, sat down with some guests from my home town who were sailing and did an informal “Cigars Night Under the Stars with John” which we host from time to time. This promoted an anonymous crew member to write “Cruise director was smoking a cigar in guest area. Should be one rule for everyone no?” Now obviously there were some giggles around the senior officer table as the senior cruise director and brand ambassador was mentioned in the crew suggestion box. But the crew member is right because as the rules stand I should not have been smoking and I certainly apologise to whoever wrote this and hope he or she sees this apology.

Do you remember a few months ago I wrote about a lady who had though she had booked a European cruise on Celebrity and realised she hadn’t when she boarded the Carnival Magic? Well it doesn’t just happen in Europe as you will see now from my colleague Butch on the Carnival Dream.

Hi John……thought you should see this.

Thank You and Kind Regards,

Butch Begovich
Cruise Director, Carnival Dream
Carnival Cruise Lines

From: DREAM CRUISE DIRECTOR
Sent: Sunday, September 25, 2011 04:48 PM
To: Heald, John (CCL)
Subject: FW: A – **** – BOOKED THE WRONG SHIP

A – **** – BOOKED THE WRONG SHIP
At 2:40 PM, Ms ___________came to GSS stating that she wanted to leave the ship now and wanted to have cruise fare refunded back. Gst claimed that she had verified with CCL Reservation Agent so many times that she expected to have a suite and a normal stateroom, to book them on the newest ship with animated characters walking around the ship, a turtle tank in the dining room, and a large water slide and leaning over the sea. Gst was very disappointed. Since gst also purchased CCL insurance. GSS found out that gst wanted to book for the Disney Dream but called in to CCL for the Dream reservation. GSS escorted off the ship. Their bookings were cancelled in the system.

There are so many places to go here but I think all I have to say is that we should have tried to keep her on board. Maybe we could have gotten her to believe that she was on a Disney ship. We could have doubled the charge of her cruise tickets for a start. Ahhh…….but she wanted animated characters walking around the ship. Well, we could have stuck two huge ears on the top of Fun Ship Freddy’s funnel…..do you think that would have fooled her? Still, thank goodness she had insurance and can now join Mickey and Goofy and have what I hope is a fabulous time on her Disney Dream and enjoys eating her dinner while being entertained by Donald Duck on a comedy trombone.

Just a quick note about my carpool tunnel thingy. A week’s rest has really helped but even now it has started to ache again. I saw Doctor Longfinger and he sent me to a specialist who I have an appointment with tomorrow and we shall see what he has to say. I have been trying a voice activated program and it works, well, sort of. It’s slow and it also won’t let me write words like bollocks or bugger or underpants……..so what’s the point. Let’s see what the doc says tomorrow. I will be writing another blog tomorrow and on Thursday and will be on Facebook each day.

I was supposed to be leaving home and heading for Miami on October 7 but that’s all changed because on Saturday October 1 I climb aboard a Virgin…….. sorry, the phone rang…….. what was I saying? Oh yes, I will climb aboard a Virgin Atlantic flight to New York. Why? Well to host a very special event on October 3 where I will be joined by Gerry Cahill and other very senior beards to announce the news you have all been waiting for regarding the Carnival Liberty and some other surprises as well. I will post minute by minute information on Facebook as the announcements and details are made and I am being joined by Peter the Hair and the video crew because there may just be some people there that you may recognise. You know, I have received a lot of flack on Cruise Critic about me not revealing what we are doing on the ship during her dry dock period and some of it has been quite nasty. So I hope they will be amongst those who join me on Facebook and on the blog on October 3. It’s going to be a great day and not just for those booking on Carnival Liberty!

Obviously this means I have to leave a week earlier which I don’t like and neither of course does Heidi. I haven’t told Kye yet either. I also have to tell Kye some other bad news when she gets back from play school today ……….Harriet her Hamster died today. Heidi found it face down in its food bowl, which was where it always was. But this morning it was different in the fact that its little feet were as blue as the Caribbean Sea. I wrote about Harriet six months or so ago here on the blog thingy and how Kye loved her……..for about 3 days before loving Barney more. Since then Harriet sat in her cage and just ate away her rejection. She ate and ate and refused to use her exercise wheel. I urged Harriet to be more active but she looked at me as if to say “Who are you to give me advice you fat bastard?” I did care though and had I known that her end was near I would have bought those diet pills from the guest on the Carnival Magic.

But now she is gone. Well…….ummmm………actually she hasn’t yet. She is still in the cage, her nose in the food bowl. I didn’t want to upset Kye before she went to school so I decided to wait until she returned and for the last few hours I have been rehearsing the words “hamster heaven” in my head.

But Kye is two and a half years old and although blessed with her mother’s common sense and intelligence, I don’t think she has quite grasped the concept of death yet. So I just say that she has gone to play with other hamsters and along with last night’s bucket of KFC. It’s what she would have wanted.

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.