BURGER KING!

October 5, 2011 -

John Heald

New York’s La Guardia airport should organise children’s parties because the place is run by clowns as are most airports these days. Hello, I write this part of the blog on my raspberry from seat 12A which is a window seat in coach. If you are new to the blog you won’t know how much I hate flying. Let me tell you how much. I would rather go swimming with a great white shark with a Guy Fieri burger tied round my thingy than be stuck in a metal tube filled with air as fresh as a Frenchman’s dangly bits. La Guardia needs help and I highly suggest that when you depart from this airport that you give yourself extra time to check in. The staff needs a trip to one of our ships to see how to organize a line and please, please, we know we have to take our shoes off at security but you have to provide some chairs for the folks to sit on to put them back on again? I watched a frail old lady trying to do so and couldn’t because there was nowhere to sit, which is I think is bloody ridiculous.

Before we took off the guy in the seat in front of me got a bollocking from the American Airlines flight attendant for not turning his Eyephone off. His name was Cyrus. I know this because he spoke so loudly that the person in row 45 was deafened by his shout. Cyrus wanted the whole plane to know that sure that he was important and spoke so loudly that everyone was looking at him which is I think was exactly what he wanted. He was talking about “strategy” and how his team is preparing a “two-pronged attack.” I was also preparing a two-pronged attack, as well. One prong will be shoving his Eyephone up his arse and prong two will be shoving a pair of my underpants in his mouth.

However his behavior was nothing compared with the chap at the end of my row. Sitting next to me was a middle aged lady who said nothing the entire flight. She just read her Kindle thingy and I tried to read my new Andy McNab book and doze away the tiredness of an international flight and a New York press conference. However at the end of row 12 sat a man who was even bigger than me and had to ask for a seat belt extension. I felt very sorry for the lady who was sitting between two big guys in seats that were only designed for an anorexic hamster to sit in.

Anyway, after takeoff I closed my eyes and as soon as I did I heard a noise. I couldn’t figure out what it was. It was sort of a sucking noise and this was preceded by a sort of chomping. I looked for the source of this disgusting sound and there was Mr. 12D holding an empty polystyrene coffee cup gobbing large black waves of chewing tobacco into the cup. I couldn’t believe this was he allowed to do this? After all this was a non-smoking flight and wasn’t this a form of smoking? Well, being British I said nothing and neither did the lady next to him and I watched as he shoved another bail of tobacco in his mouth and that was me listening to him for the remainder of the flight spitting into a cup. So I had Cyrus the Shouter and Mr. Spit to spend the flight with, plus there was the most disgusting smell around my part of the plane. I then realised where the putrid smell was coming from. It was ummmm……….me………..and my eggs Benedict.

Time for today’s Q and A – off we go.

Derek V asked:
John,

I am off on my second cruise with Carnival going on the Carnival Dream and am very excited. Can you tell me if you are able to walk all the way forward to where the ship’s bell is as I want my photo taken there. Thanks, John.

John says:
Hello Derek V,

I hope this answer gets to you before you sail and my apologies for the delay in answering. The answer is officially no as this is a crew only deck. I am so sorry that you are unable to use this area for a photo but you can have one taken with the ship’s lucky coin. I won’t tell you where it is as half the fun is finding it. I wish you a brilliant time on your Carnival Dream.

Best wishes.

John

Jenifer asked:
Hi John,

First of all thanks for your blog, it helps to remind me of that great atmosphere on the Carnival ships in between cruises. I just finished my third cruise with Carnival on the Carnival Destiny and brought my dad and sister along this time. This was their first cruise and they were a little skeptical before but now I can promise you they are as addicted as me. The reason why I am writing is that I was not one of the lucky people to get a comment card and I just have to tell you how great of a time we have had. Carnival service always blows me away and is the reason I keep coming back. All staff seems to go above and beyond, and not only when they expect a tip. Everyone really seems to care that we are happy and having a great time. Traveling to Miami my Dad said he felt like any time you wanted any service you had to pay extra for it and that’s why he hated traveling and he immediately saw the difference once we got aboard the Carnival Destiny. I’m going to try not to take up too much of your time but there are a few things I have to tell you about.

– First of all, we had the my time dining option but we were lucky enough to have Nick in the Galaxy dining room three of those nights and he was amazing. Please let him know how much is his hard work is appreciated and how special he made our nights.

– My sister forgot her driver’s license for the wave runner excursion (I think Carnival called them “aqua tracks”). Guest services was great and went out of their way to make phone calls and confirm that everything would be ok once we got to Half Moon Cay and seemed to be ready with lots of options to make sure we had a great day no matter what. This is exactly why booking excursions though Carnival is worth it.

– Trevor our cruise director was great. I don’t like too many announcements but he seemed to have the perfect amount for my taste, not bothersome but I felt like I always knew what was going on. Trevor was also very funny and we will look to cruise with him again so we can see more of his shows.

– I have to say WOW to the lido deck bartenders who were all great. Always happy and smiling even when they spent all day hauling supplies on and off of Half Moon Cay and still working into the night on lido deck. Your staff is second to none!

OK, so with the good there is always room for improvement. None of these things would ever cause us to stop cruising with Carnival but I would still like to mention these few small things.

– My sister is diabetic and drinks a lot of diet pop. The only choice was Diet Coke, a few other diet pop selections would be appreciated in the future (Diet Sprite, Diet Fanta etc.)

– During embarkation the lines are already long and having to stop for the group picture takes even longer when all everyone wants to do is get on the ship and eat, maybe excluding this picture stop could alleviate some congestion.

– Has Carnival thought about purchasing or partnering with an airline and/or hotel? The two worst parts of our vacation were the hotel and airline. I would love to use a hotel and airline that tried to hold more closely to Carnival’s expectation of customer service and if we could take a Carnival shuttle from the hotel to the ship the morning of the cruise I would defiantly take advantage.

– In the casino the roulette tables were always so crowded a few more would be great, although I understand that space is at a premium.

Once again thank you, thank you, thank you to all the Carnival Destiny staff for a wonderful, magical vacation! We will be back as soon as we possibly can!

Jenifer

John says:
Hello Jenifer,

Thanks so much for this great review and I have sent this to the ship and the people in charge in the Miami office as well for their viewing pleasure. I am so glad that you had fun and that the crew made a difference to your time on board. I am also diabetic and know that some choices are limited although we do have Diet Sprite or Sprite Zero available but certainly a diet orange drink would be great and I will make sure I pass this along. We don’t have a current partnership with hotels around the Caribbean and I do though know that sometimes this and the flying can be the most stressful parts of the cruise. I will mention the embarkation area and thanks for bringing this to my attention. Overall though it’s great to see that you had so much fun and I hope we see you and the family again on board one of our ships.

Best wishes to you all.

John

Jason Cook asked:
John,

Just wanted to tell you how much I have enjoyed reading your blog over the last couple of years and that I hope to be able to sail with you soon. As for my question I will be sailing on the Carnival Conquest January 22, 2012 on a seven-day cruise. I want to book the steakhouse in advance, but wanted to make sure I didn’t do it the same day as elegant night. Do you happen to know the day(s) that elegant night will be held this cruise?

Thanks in advance,

Jason

John says:
Hello Jason Cook,

Thanks for those kind words and I will tell you that the elegant night will be on the Monday and the Friday. You can book the steakhouse through the blog and if you think I can be of help with anything else please let me know. I wish you a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Michael S asked:

I read your blog and Facebook and have a great deal of respect for the patience you seem to possess when dealing with customers. However, I do have one request regarding some of the questions appearing on the blog that have to do with unreasonable and rude demands. Specifically, I’m referring to those allegedly coming from Cruise Critic members who also claim to speak for ALL other Cruise Critic members. Printing questions and/or demands from these kinds of people only gives them legitimacy. Excluding them would make your blog much more enjoyable and informative.

John says:
Hello Michael S,

This point has come up recently both here and on Facebook. The problem is that I have no way of knowing who is legitimate and who is not. I know that most people on Cruise Critic are very kind and that they provide so much good information for those who love cruising. However there are also people who dislike me but more importantly will take every opportunity to say anything they can that will put Carnival in a negative light. My question then is how do I know who is a true Cruise Critic member and who is, as you call them, “a troll?” I have read on the links that are posted here how some love NCL and think everyone should boycott Carnival and some of the truly nasty things they say about me which for the mostly part I manage to rise above. But when someone posts a comment that includes a link to something on Cruise Critic I have been posting it. I have to tell you that I am giving very serious consideration to not posting or answering anything with the words Cruise Critic in it as I obviously can’t win. The only exception to this would be requests for me to organise a meet and greet which I do all the time and will be happy to continue. I will let you know my decision on this soon and thanks so much for raising this very valid point and for the kind words about the blog.

Best wishes.

John

Wild asked:
Hi John!

I just changed our two cabins on Carnival Liberty, sailing 10/22/11 from Miami, to aft OV cabins 2473 (me and hubby) and 2477 (teen daughter and her best friend). I was sort of surprised to see especially 2473 available. Most reviews I read were very good but a few mentioned the noise. I noticed on one of your older blogs that you’ve stayed in this room yourself. It looks simply huge from all the pics I’ve seen – if you have just a minute and you remember, can you tell me what kind of engine noise you experienced in that room? Thanks John! Looking forward to sailing with you in October!

John says:
Hello Wild,

I have indeed stayed in 2473 and it is indeed a huge cabin and you will truly enjoy it. The only noise is during docking in ports when you hear are thrusters which are directly beneath you and the cabins on deck 1. That aside I can promise that you will really love this cabin and that you will be very comfortable and very happy there. I wish you all a wonderful cruise and of course I will be on board with you.

Best wishes and see you soon.

John


The Griffin Family asked:

John!

We have a family reunion group cruising on Carnival Paradise on 10/17. There are 12 of us and we are all from different parts of California and Utah. On the cruise we will celebrate my folk’s 50th wedding anniversary and would like them to feel special. Can you send them something and we want them to be the stars of the newlywed and not so newlywed game that we have seen on past cruises. They will be in cabin E56. They love good wine and so that might be something you can send them or dinner with the captain would make them feel special as they have never been invited and they have cruised seven times!!!!!!! I know you are a busy man but this is very important so I hope you can make their dreams come true!!!!!!!

John says:
Hello the Griffin Family,

Thank you for booking your family on the Carnival Paradise for what I am sure will be a brilliant vacation and reunion. I won’t be able to get them seated at the captain’s table but I will for sure mention them to the cruise director and ask if he will consider them for the Marriage Show. It will ultimately be his choice but I will for sure bring your parents to his attention. I will also send them something to mark this wonderful milestone. I wish you the most wonderful cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Brenda S asked:
Hi John:

I very much enjoy your blog and follow you on Facebook too. My husband, my brother and myself will be on the Carnival Destiny on 9/10/11 in cabins 7292 and 7296. This will be my husband and my 3rd cruise with Carnival and my brothers first. We all three will be celebrating our birthdays (they are within a couple weeks of each other and this is our gift to ourselves, lol).

Anyway the two of them are wanting to do the dolphin swim in Grand Cayman. Due to health reasons I will not be participating in this activity but would like to be able to go with them to observe. Does Carnival offer any way for me to ride along with them without having to pay the full amount since I will not do the actual activity. I have been unable to get any information from the 1-800 reps and hope you can help. Thank you in advance for any assistance you may be able to offer.

John says:
Hello Brenda S,

I see you will be sailing next weekend and I am so sorry it has taken me this long to answer. You can indeed go along and watch the others do the dolphin swim. Please go to the shore excursion desk on the ship and tell them and they will just charge you a minimum fee for the transportation. I think you have given yourselves a wonderful birthday gift and I wish you all the best of times.

Best wishes to you all and have fun.

John

Tom Truxton asked:
Greetings John,

I want to thank you for your wonderful blog, I started reading it when the Carnival Splendor had its “No SPAM was served” adventure and turn to it when I have the time. My wife and I will be taking our fourth Carnival Cruise (11th cruise overall) on the Carnival Spirit over Thanksgiving this year. When I realized it was our 11th cruise overall it made me realize that if we had stuck to one cruise line we would be “Platinum” or equivalent members on that line, but I also realized that we would not have enjoyed the varied experiences we have had. But it did make me want to ask, has Carnival Corp. entertained combining the loyalty programs of all their lines? Since Carnival owns Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises, Cunard, AIDA, Costa Cruises and Iberocruceros, I am sure there are a number of cruisers, like ourselves, who have sampled multiple Carnival Corp products.

Also, as a member of the Cruise Critic community I want to point out that most members of that community enjoy the information that we share on those forums and our joy of cruising as a whole and as a group we are not the complainers that Cruise Critic members seem to get the reputation of. Anyway, once again, thank you for your humor and tact in the things you deal with and I hope that someday we will be able to sail with you as our cruise director.

Tom Truxton

John says:
Hello Tom Truxton,

Thanks so very much for those kind words and I really am glad you are enjoying the blog. The subject of the combined loyalty program has been well discussed amongst the corporation’s beards but because each line has such an individual program it was decided it would be impossible to do. It is a shame though as I know many like to try our sister companies and maybe one day they will be able to discover a way to do this. I want to thank you for your loyalty though and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you before you sail on the Carnival Spirit. I am indeed well aware that most of the Cruise Critic members are exactly as you describe them which is why as I stated above I am giving serious consideration not to posting anything except meet and greet requests in order to protect the vast majority of people from the reputation that Cruise Critic sometimes fairly and unfairly receives. Thanks once again and have a brilliant time on your Thanksgiving cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Kerry B asked:
John,

Your statements in the blog today about Cruise Critic really made my blood boil and I thought it was totally unprofessional for you to say what you did. Cruise Critic is a place where people come together to share their stories and ask questions and the cruise industry must realize that it is a very important Web site. You though seem to enjoy saying that it’s full of horrible people and it isn’t and you should take the time to visit the boards and see this for yourself.

John says:
Hello Kerry B,

You see this is exactly what I mean and thanks so much for helping me describe what I am talking about. Obviously there are three comments referring to Cruise Critic and something I said a month ago which is when these questions were posted. I can’t remember what I said but if I offended anyone I apologise of course. But going back to what Tom and Michael said earlier in today’s Q & A, how do I know if this is a true post from a CC member or not? The answer is I don’t so does that mean I shouldn’t post it? It’s a really tough one and I am going to speak to Host Mach about if he agrees for me not to post comments with the words Cruise Critic in it then I won’t unless it’s the meet and mingle thingy. I think this may be the only way to truly protect the sites reputation and stop the battle that often ensues after I post something with a CC link. Thanks Kerry and my apologies again if I offended you.

Kay and Ben Boswell asked:
John,

We loved Joel and Lorna, singers on the Carnival Liberty several years ago. We want to know where they are singing so we can book that cruise.

John says:
Hello Kay and Ken Boswell,

This wonderful couple is currently on the Carnival Conquest and will remain there until January. I don’t have their schedule for next year yet but if you check with me in January I will let you know. They will be thrilled to know how much you enjoy them.

Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today.

Over the years the burger has been king of Lido deck but recently its reign has been under pressure. I thought about this a few weeks ago when I was on the Carnival Magic and sat on Lido having lunch……..The Mongolian Wok was cooking, the grand buffet and Taste of the Nations massively popular and the Tandoori was tempting guests to try the exotic tastes of India. Cucina del Capitano was busy serving pasta just like mama used to make yet, as the Lido Deck echoed to the sound of chomping the hamburger chef was Mr. Patel No Mates as some of his hamburgers were left uncooked, lonely and unwanted………it was so kind of sad to see.

I ate a burrito that day. It was filled with marinated steak, rice, cheese, sour cream, grilled onions and peppers, salsa and lettuce. When wrapped and covered in crisp white paper and accompanied by some tortilla chips, it looked more substantial than a Lido Big Mac and weighed about as much as a bowling ball. The burgers we served on Lido were excellent but against all the new competition of choices we offer our guests how could they survive. We served toppings of mushrooms, onions, cheese and even chili and short of offering a free naked Latvian woman with every order the hamburger would I think continue to be overlooked and left to a lonely life with only the odd Harry the Hot Dog to talk to. But that has all changed because step forward Guy Fieri and his ultimate burger.

Now I must admit that before we started the press conference I had spent a few days listening to various Carnival beards talk about burgers and who made the best and by the time Monday came along I was over burgers completely. I thought as if a ground meat patty in a bun was ever worthy of all this fuss and thought a hamburger requires nothing except a brief introduction to heat and slapping it between two pieces of bread. But all that changed when I met Guy and then tasted his burger. It was simply historic and the fact that we will be serving these burgers for free is jaw droppingly amazing I think.

So now I can proudly say that The Guy Fieri burger holds pride of place as the best hamburger I have ever eaten by a landslide, a simple but delicious one of a kind patty that looks as good as any photograph. They will be served on board in portions that will require an entire cruise to devour and you must, you simply must try one.

Here is a video of Guy and the incomparable George Lopez which I hope you enjoy.

I had a few requests to ask Guy if he will make a vegetarian burger (I think this was a question asked by a journalist at the press conference, actually) but nonetheless we will certainly find this out. However, having met him and seen his love of meat and his passion for his cooking, asking Guy Fieri to make a vegetarian burger would be like asking Ozzy Osborne to wear a dress and sing Wind Beneath My Wings.

I also met DJ IRIE who as you know will be enhancing our nightclub music and our deck party and sail away music etc as well as training all our DJ’s in the art of ummmm…….mixing and itching……or is it scratching. Every HEAT game I got to he gets the crowd really going. Anyway, he will be teaching them to mix Slap My Bitch Up into Wham’s Wake Me Up Before You Go Go and having heard about the incredible atmosphere he created in the nightclub on the Carnival Imagination he created when he sailed, I think we are in for something special.

Here is DJ IRIE:

So the press conference went very well and I must congratulate Gerry Cahill and his band of beards for really propelling Carnival into the future and it feels so good to be part of these new and exciting ventures. Someone on my Facebook page made an excellent point and that’s with all these new areas that ports of call may become less important and that some people may stay on board to use the facilities we have. It’s certainly a point to consider and there were times on Carnival Magic that I saw this for myself. Overall the comments were brilliant and although there were a few Nelly Negatives most of you used words like “excited” and “fantastic” and some picked the phone up and booked Carnival Liberty straight away. Some also asked about specific dates of the dry docks which is when much of the work to add the new areas is being completed.

So here are the dates as they stand right now:

Carnival Liberty – Dry Dock: Oct. 8-22, 2011

Carnival Breeze – Under construction – set to debut June 3, 2012

Carnival Dream – Dry Dock: Sept. 8-22, 2012

Carnival Conquest -Dry Dock: Oct. 14-28, 2012

Carnival Glory – Dry Dock: Nov. 2-15, 2012

Carnival Splendor – Dry Dock: 2012 – dates TBA

While we don’t have exact dates for the rest of the ships that will receive some or all of the upgrades here is a year by year list for you.

2013 – Carnival Destiny, Carnival Legend, Carnival Pride, Carnival Victory

2014 – Carnival Elation, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Triumph, Carnival Valor

2015 – Carnival Magic, Carnival Paradise

There are some ships not on the list and I will let you know of course as and when I hear about them. Oh and the news isn’t over yet………there will be more…..to be announced in the future. These are indeed very exciting times. It’s going to be a challenge for sure to get all the work completed on the Carnival Liberty in just two weeks. Look at the list they have to do.

  • RedFrog Rum Bar
  • BlueIguana Tequila Bar
  • Alchemy Bar
  • EA Sports Bar
  • Guy’s Burger Joint
  • BlueIguana Cantina

And of course I will be there to film all of this with Peter the Hair, Eric the Beard, and the video crew. Princess Cruises did an outstanding job making their dry dock videos and I hope to do the same and show you some true behind the scenes events as the Carnival Liberty is reborn.

Now during the press conference everything was happening thick and fast and I made two big mistakes. You see I was trying to report and host at the same time so please allow me to apologise and also correct those errors.

  • I had said that Carnival Liberty’s Serenity area will be on Deck 9 aft but that information that I was given was wrong. I should have checked myself but I didn’t and everyone was so busy it’s not surprising that this happened. So Carnival Liberty will be getting a Serenity area and it will though be in two locations and that’s deck 12 forward on the starboard side and also where the slide entrance is on deck 14. As soon as I get to the ship I will film these areas for you and oh yes, we are adding whirlpools for adults only there as well. The furniture will be similar to our other Serenity areas and I have a feeling the one on Carnival Liberty will be our best yet.
  • The second mistake I made was that I posted that Carnival Liberty will be getting the Library Bar complete with the wine tasting machine thingy. As the conference went on I understood that it was going to be on the Carnival Liberty but actually this will debut on Carnival Breeze. This sort of makes sense as the space on the Dream-class ships is perfect for this. One thing we will have to do is to move the Friends of Bill W meetings from there as it will not be appropriate to host those meetings there anymore.

So, RedFrog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Tequila Bar, Alchemy Bar, Guy’s Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina, DJ IRIE, George Lopez, EA Sports Bar, Hasbro Game Show, and Playlist Productions. The beards have planned a bright and exciting future and I truly hope you will come on board and share it with us.

Moving on, let’s talk about Halloween. Over the last few years we have held our Frightfully Fun events on the two cruises preceding the cruise that Halloween falls under. This year we will only be doing it on the 31st. The reason for this is because there was simply a lack of participation in the pre-Halloween cruises with only a handful of people taking part. Now maybe we could have done a better job in getting the message out but regardless this year the ships will be decorated in true Halloween spirit only on the cruises that have the 31st fall during it. I am very sorry for those who hoped it would be as previous years but I also have to say that personally I don’t care much for this event myself. To me it is just a parade of plastic horror that has us spending millions dressing our kids as mutilated zombies and calling it fun. Parents are expected to purchase witch and vampire costumes and fake severed hands and spend loads of money. I also don’t get that we worry so much about protecting kids from monsters and death and now shops offer a full themed wardrobe of torture and death that parents will buy without a care.

It’s in the UK as well now you know. Yep Halloween which for many years had not infected my home country is there now loud and proud and Heidi will no doubt dress Kye up as a fairy or Barney. The older kids love Halloween in the UK and they can even rent a costume to dress like Jack the Ripper. Well, you have to have a laugh about London’s most notorious serial killer don’t you? Are you able to get a Jeffery Dahmer costume in the States?

Anyway, I am in the minority here I know and I will leave you all and leave my wife to enjoy giving our kids licence to terrify old people in their homes under the excuse of “trick or treating.” I make a point of scaring all the children in my neighborhood throughout the year by acting bad tempered all the time so they dare don’t come near my house. I will be here in Miami on the 31st and already my colleagues that work here have asked me:

“What are you doing for Halloween?”

Probably the same as I’ll do for that equally relevant date in the calendar the “National Be A Vegetarian For A Day” event. Ignoring it……….and eating a huge Guy Fieri burger.

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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