A Quickie

October 11, 2011 -

John Heald

Good morning from Freeport, Grand Bahamas, where today we have been filming the last part of the four different videos you will see over the next few days. This will be a quick fire blog as I have to squeeze may fat arse in an American Eagle seat and fly back to Miami.  Peter the Hair and Jay the Recently Married are brilliant at what they do and the next series of videos will include some fantastic shots plus will also include some amazing time lapse videos as well. This morning we took some shots of the Carnival Liberty‘s stabilizers which out of the water look extraordinary. You know, I appreciate what our chief engineers do even though when it comes to engineering, I have no bloody clue how it works. I know that no matter how much training I received, or how many books I read, I could not build a ship’s engine or a model train or even a Lego toy. You won’t find me getting all gooey about the qualities of Ryan Seaweed or another TV presenter, because I’ve been there, on a stage, and all you have to do is talk out loud. It’s easy. And so’s being a lawyer. You just have to use the words “hereinuntoafter” and “alleged” every so often so the public thinks you’re clever……oh, and you have to be a bastard as well.

I think I could be a Jerry Bruckheimer and direct a film; I think I could be a door to door salesman, a teacher, a police officer and even a male pole dancer. I even think I could throw a three point shot, write a book and make a crapafrapacino at Starbucks. But I could not be the late great Steve Jobs and design an Eye Phone or fix the port side engine bearings or redistribute the energy from generator 1 to generator 3. And this is why I stand in open mouthed admiration when I meet an engineer — because he can do something that I cannot.

When I build something, it breaks pretty much immediately. I can’t build a fire. Kye gets frustrated because I can’t get any of the toys I buy her out of the tomb they have been packaged in and even when I do, I can’t build them. I can’t hang a picture, and if I use superglue I end up with part of my body fastened to whatever was broken. I have the practical abilities and engineering sense of a stoned hamster………… I am useless.

I still don’t really know how a ship works. I realize that you put oil in the……… ummmm …….. tank. I know that when the captain moves the thruster levers the engines make noise and I know that, somehow, the grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr sound is converted into movement. But that’s it. And seeing the Carnival Liberty out of the water and looking at all those thrusters and huge propellers and all the other bits makes me admire so very much the people that build our ships and maintain them each and every day.

Time for today’s Q and A……here we go.

Jeff Trautner Asked:
John,

Love your blog.  Love the CD directory/schedule.  I was wondering if there was a schedule available for the maitre d’.  Last year we fell in love with Ken Byrne and as we plan our cruise for next year, knowing which ship he’ll be working may influence our decision.

Thanks,
Jeff & Lanett Trautner

John Says:
Hello Jeff Trautner

I will have the new CD schedule up soon and I really should work on the maitre d’ one as well. Ken is a great guy isn’t he and he returns to the Carnival Magic in a few days time and will be there until March. He then goes on vacation and for the rest of the year he will be with me on the Carnival Breeze in Europe. He is one of a kind and I can understand why you would want to cruise with him. I hope you get your wish and if you have any other questions, please let me know.

Best wishes
John

Sarah Oxfurth Asked:
Hi John!

I have sent two or three questions/comments that have not been responded to in the past six months, so I am sending this a little early to give you ample opportunity and time for me to get back with you.  🙂  One question I had sent before was asking if Carnival was going to Alaska in 2013 as my husband and I want to do our five-year anniversary there.  But, at this time, I write for something much more important and immediate.  John, my husband has served the United States as a U.S. Navy Corpsman for the past 18 years.  On January 8, 2012, we are cruising on the Carnival Conquest, with four of our six children (blended family!).  My husband does not know how much I love him, as I am very hard to live with, I’m afraid, and he doesn’t know how much I appreciate what he does.  He has stepped up and helps me raise my two boys from a prior marriage, being more of a father than their own, being their Cub Scouts leader, going to Scout camps with them, taking them fishing, going camping with them/us, taking them to ball games, just being a dad that he didn’t have to be.  So, I was hoping that if I could arrange for him to be recognized or just sent a note from a fellow seaman, he would feel special.  Of course, I will be getting something, though I don’t know what yet, from Bon Voyage, but to know that I went an extra step to tell OTHER people how proud I am of him (as he thinks I never do!), will warm his heart.  Please, John, I am not here to ask for “free stuff.” I just want him to know how proud I am of him.  Getting him on stage, or just saying his name at Welcome Aboard, or a note from the captain, yourself, and/or the cruise director at the time (not sure who as 2012 schedule isn’t out yet), anything at all, would just warm his heart to know that I told someone else how proud I am of him. We will be in two cabins, cabin 6355 and 6353.  While my husband, Kenn, is listed as being in Cabin 6353, I’m sure most of his time will be spent with me in our balcony cabin 6355.

Thank you so much for all you have done for me and my family in the past, as well as all you do for all the Carnival loyalists that know and love you and your humour (spelt correctly).  😀  And thanks to Heidi and Kye for the sacrifices they make so that you can do so, and holding down the Home Front.

John Says:
Hello Sarah Oxfurth

I have been enjoying your questions on Facebook and glad to see you here on the blog as well. Thanks for the service you give and you both must be very proud of the time you give. I am sure that deep down your husband also knows how much you love him and I hope that the cruise that you both along with your family will be taking on the Carnival Conquest will rejuvenate you both and allow you some down time, fun and relaxation. Please can I ask that you drop me a line on Facebook a few days before you sail and I will make sure I send your husband a welcome aboard gift. Thanks again for writing and my apologies it has taken so long for me to reply.

Best wishes.
John

Terry Feelan Asked:
I agree with Dave M on the subject of your crew not speaking good enough English. Case in point was on my cruise last March on the Carnival Freedom. I asked our server for a decaf espresso and made sure he understood I needed decaf. His name was Wayan from some Asian country and obviously his English was not good enough because that night I couldn’t sleep and had severe stomach pains. I have not taken any caffeine products for 8 years until then and obviously my illness and insomnia was because of his mistake which was one of many. I realize that the crew you employee come from third world countries but the basic understanding the demands of the customer must surely be paramount to them being hired? The servers and the crew I encountered on the Freedom were unable to understand me most times and compared to other lines I found them uneducated to the guests needs IMHO.

John Says:
Hello Terry Feelan

Thanks for writing and before I start and before I forget, I do hope that despite your problems that you had fun on your cruise. There are very strict rules set by us and by USCG who state that in an emergency, the crew must have the English speaking skills to help save the lives of our guests and their own lives as well. English, therefore, is the official language on board and all our crew have to reach a certain standard to be able to work for us. I am sorry that the waiter made a mistake and brought you a regular espresso and I hope your stomach pain was not too severe and that you are OK now.

While I apologise for this, I also have to speak frankly on this subject. English is my first language, however, I forced myself to learn as much Dutch as I can so I can speak to Heidi’s family and friends, especially her Mum who does not speak English. I’m so out of practice though that it’s often a struggle to convey simple concepts as “coffee” and “are you OK.” When I speak Dutch to anyone, they have a tendency to slap their thighs, laugh out loud and make sound recordings of my attempts for future entertainment of their friends and family. Dutch is a very hard language to learn. You need half a ton of phlegm in your mouth to pronounce most of the words. Don’t ever stand too close to a Dutch person and enter a conversation with him ………………….. you will be washing spit out of your hair for months. My point, Terry, is this. Speaking a second language is something most of us cannot say we can do yet Wayan who, by the way, is from Indonesia, like all our crew speaks a second language. They may not be able to discuss the economic situation or converse with you about whether President Obama will win a second term but we insist as a company that all our service staff pass a proficient English test before they are allowed to serve in guest areas. Oh yes, one more thing, all our crew speak one other language………………the language of fun………………..and I think they speak that………………fluently.

Best wishes.
John

Dale Morrill Asked:
Hey John-

Love your blog thingy, your humor and your Facebook thingy. Keep up the great work. Just got back from what was my 10th Carnival cruise this past Monday and had a splendid time as usual.  However, I’m concerned about the “comment card” or their lack of. I remember seeing a post about this subject this past fall and you were letting the beards know.  Well since that time, since October 2010, I’ve been on four Carnival cruises and have not received one comment card via email. I’ve checked and double checked my junk email several times. I get email solicitations from Carnival to the email address I log with my fun pass check in. My previous sail dates from those four cruises were 10/9/10, 11/15/10, 3/31/10 and now 8/18/11. My next cruise is booked for 11/13/11. Please let the beards know there is still a big issue with cruisers not getting comment cards via email.  I’d think I’d have good odds getting one out of four cruises in less than a year?

Thanks again for all you do!

John Says:
Hello Dale Morrill

I think you speak for many on this subject, Dale. At the moment, only 40% of guests per cruise will receive an online comment review card. Guests must have checked the “receive further communication from Carnival” box on the booking form but even then you are not guaranteed to get one. I know that this can be a little frustrating but I have to tell you that there are no immediate plans to change this. I do offer all guests my services by asking you to send me your reviews and I will pass them on to the right people on board and shoreside whether it be praise or not. I will pass on your comments and if there is anything I can do for you before you cruise again, please let me know.

Best wishes.
John

Julie Schuh Asked:
Good evening John,

I am cruising with my son on the Victory on 12/18/11.  We are so excited we will actually be on the ship for Christmas! My question is, do you know if there will be a jazz band on board for that cruise?  My son is 17 and is an up and coming jazz violinist and loves jazz of any kind.  Will he be able to stay in the jazz club/bar with me to listen? On our last cruise (on another line) he got to play with the band, does Carnival ever allow guests to do something like that?

John Says:
Hello Julie Schuh

How brilliant, a jazz violin player. I used to love listening to a chap called Stefan Grapelli who was an amazing player as I am sure your son is. There isn’t a specific jazz trio on the ship but at least once a cruise the orchestra will play a jazz session. May I suggest that your son takes his violin and once you are on board leave a note at the Guest Services Desk marked to the attention of the cruise director?  Mention my name and that your son would like to play with the orchestra and I am sure that we can arrange something. There may be a talent show as well in which he could perform. Please let me know if you need anything else and I wish your son much success in his musical career and I wish you all a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes.
John

Harley Mann Asked:
I know you get a lot of requests so I hope you get to mine before we cruise! My wife and I will be sailing on the Carnival Dream on 10/22/11. Can you get me a table for two as my wife and I have lots to talk about? My last name is Mann and we are in cabin 1421.

John Says:
Hello Harley Mann

I have asked the maitre d’ on the ship to assist you as best he can with your table request and I wish you both a wonderful cruise and have fun.

Best wishes to you both.
John

Andrea Estes Asked:
Hi John,

I was wondering if you could help me with an issue with my upcoming cruise on the inaugural sailing on the Carnival Magic from Galveston on Nov. 14th.  Several months ago, we originally booked a cabin for four people, my husband, myself and two daughters and were able to get “confirmed” for Your Time Dining.  Last week, we changed from a four person cabin and added a cabin to the booking so that we would just have two people per stateroom.  By doing this, it created a new booking number for the second room (still same amount of people on our booking) so imagine my disappointment when they could not keep that second cabin on “your time dining” because it is now “waitlisted”.  We didn’t add any more people to our reservation; we only added a room to move two people, which created a second booking number.  This is the first cruise for both of my daughters and the customer service w/Carnival is saying there is NOTHING they can do to connect that second booking # to our original # and assign it to “Your Time Dining” even though we already had it confirmed for the four of us. Is there anything that we can do to get both of our booking #’s confirmed for Your Time Dining?  The original booking # is ______, if you can look into this.  Right now as it stands, my husband & 1 daughter have a confirmed standing on your time dining and then myself and my other daughter have been “waitlisted” for Your Time Dining; which in all likelihood means we will be assigned to an early or late dining time.  I could understand this happening if we were ADDING people to our reservation, but since all we did was add a room, still for a reservation of four people (and had to pay Carnival more money in the process), I’m truly disappointed that they could not accommodate our original confirmation of Your Time Dining for the second booking.  Any assistance, recommendations that you can provide is greatly appreciated.  Thanks so much.

John Says:
Hello Andrea Estes

I am going to send this to the maitre d’ so that he has this information on hand and I know he will do all he can to seat you all together if possible. Please don’t worry and just get ready for what will be a brilliant cruise. I will see you there and if you have any other concerns I hope you will let me know.

Best wishes to all.
John

Rachel Dupuch Asked:
Dear John,

I have recently discovered your blog and was reading about the weight issues you have. As someone who has lost 107 pounds in 14 months I can really recommend gastric bypass surgery for people with morbid obesity like you. I had laparoscopic gastric bypass and it has changed my life and you should have it as well. You are obviously important to Carnival Cruise so maybe they will pay for you to have it done. You really should!!

John Says:
Hello Rachel Dupuch

I am so happy for you as losing 107 pounds is simply extraordinary and I wish you health and happiness in the future. I will keep going the old fashioned way by trying not to eat a whole bucket of KFC and walk more. Thanks for thinking of me.

Best wishes.
John

Julie Asked:
Hi John,

My family will be sailing on the Carnival Ecstasy on Jan 30.  We are very much looking forward to this trip but I do have a few concerns and am not sure where to address them to.  So, I am turning to you.  Our son who is 11 has mild autism spectrum disorder.  For all intents and purposes, he generally seems like a typical 11-year-old boy. However there are some situations that he does not have a typical reaction.  My main concern is the muster drill. I am wondering where I can find out just what that will be like. It’s going to be very hard for him to stay in an area with a lot of people crowded together. I have read of some families with special needs children who have been given permission to stay in their cabins during muster, but as he is a very law and order child, there is no way I will be able to convince him that we can do that when he hears the announcements.  We also try very hard to not make his accommodations so obvious.

If you can give me any feedback or advice about this, I would certainly appreciate it.  Our cabin is M165 on the Jan 30th sailing out of Port Canaveral, as I mentioned.

Thanks so much!
Julie

John Says:
Hello Julie

The first thing I don’t want you to do is to worry at all because we can help. I have heard of this concern before from the parents of an autistic child and I helped them as I will help you by arranging a private 10-minute drill with a staff member who will explain and will show you all you need to know on what your family should do in an emergency. As we are a few months away from your cruise, can I ask that you re-post this here on the blog on December 1, or on my Facebook page a week before you sail? Either way, I will be here to help you.

Best wishes.
John

Carlo A Asked:
We wrote a complaint letter to customer service nine days ago and never received any call, any email, anything. We missed the port call of Nassau on our cruise because of a hurricane and never got money back from Carnival but we did on Celebrity when the same thing happened in 2005. No one had the courtesy of writing or talking to us back. I feel that carnival doesn’t need us as customers. Our booking ref is ______

John Says:
Hello Carlo A

I wanted to apologize that following your letter, nobody had contacted you and hopefully by now they have. Obviously, we cannot control the weather and while missing a port is regrettable, it is something that was done for your safety and the safety of the ship. However, I hope that despite the missed port, that you had fun and enjoyed the brilliant service. I will pass on your comments to our shoreside team.

Best wishes.
John

 

And that’s all for today.

OK, must push on so here is the latest Piano Bar schedule:

Carnival Liberty                      Dry-dock

Carnival Destiny                                 Agustin Villarin                  10/22/11

Carnival Elation                                  Bruce McGhie                   10/22/11

Carnival Triumph                                Ron Pass                              10/24/11

Carnival Magic                                    Jim Morris                           10/28/11

Carnival Splendor                                Mike Smith                         10/30/11

Carnival Paradise                                  Richard Yerkes                  10/31/11

Carnival Imagination                            Angela Johnson                11/04/11

Carnival Fantasy                                   Hrvoje Knezevic               11/28/11

Carnival Inspiration                            Jafar Curry                          12/03/11

Carnival Pride                                     James Quigley                   12/04/11

Carnival Valor                                     Brad Alexander                 12/11/11

Carnival Spirit                                     Keith Turner                       01/06/12

Carnival Miracle                                  Peter Brenner                   01/13/12

Carnival Freedom                               Marty Gast                         01/14/12

Carnival Legend                                 Pollyanna Jones                01/15/12

Carnival Victory                                 Jerry Selix                            01/22/12

Carnival Sensation                              Barry Miller                         01/26/12

Carnival Glory                                    Tom Riccio                           02/26/12

Carnival Dream                                   David Filsinger                   03/03/12

Carnival Conquest                              Larry Maconaghy             03/04/12

Carnival Ecstasy                                 Frank Glenn                       03/22/12

Carnival Fascination                           Milburn Dumas                 03/31/12

 

As always, my thanks to all those who support these great entertainers and please pass on your comments to me or the President of The Piano Bar Players Fan Club Laura AKA Divetrash as to who rocks and who maybe doesn’t. I hope they all do and, as always, I thank each and every one of the names above for the great entertainment they provide.

I want to say a big hello to all my British blog readers who over the past few years have had a website to check out all things Carnival which was quite simply not very good. But now there is a new and improved version which mirrors the North American website. In fact, I made some introductory videos for Carnival UK and they are also on the site. So my fellow Brits, please have a look at the site and the videos and you can now book your cruises with us using a site that doesn’t make you shout, “Oh, for ***** **** ” or try to use the American site which gets you all the way up to adding your zip code which of course we don’t have in the same format as our friends across the pond. Anyway…..here it is……enjoy.

www.carnivalcruise.co.uk

Bugger me, time flies doesn’t it? It was a year ago that Queen Elizabeth was launched and Her Majesty the Queen christened her namesake. That day was so special for so many people, especially Cunard’s president and our man in London Mr. Peter Shanks. He has written a brilliant blog about the ship’s first year of service and along with a wonderful video gives you a true insight into what has happened during the last 365 days. And, of course, it is written in Peter’s passionate style. So why not go on over to www.wearecunard.com  and join Peter in this very special anniversary celebration.

As I have been saying these past few days, it has been very hot on the Carnival Liberty with what air conditioning there is having the effect as an asthmatic hamster blowing through a straw. So last night, the hotel director Pier decided that we should open the bar on Lido Deck 9 aft which is one of the few areas where no major work is going on. Normally, the crew lounge is down on Deck 0 but as there was a cooler breeze last night, service was moved outside.

So the hard working crew of the Carnival Liberty let their hair down…….well, all except for Pier the HD who as you saw in the photo on the blog yesterday is totally bald and in his white uniform he looks like a roll-on deodorant…. and had a crew party in the disco.

So the music was playing and I decided to go and say hello. As you know, I am not a big fan of parties mainly because of the music and because they make me feel very old. However, last night I decided to do the right thing and make an appearance. So I braved the sounds of Lady Ga Ga and walked the deck shaking hands and saying hello to my fellow crew members.

Many knew me from past new ship deliveries and it was extraordinary how many wanted to have a photo with me…………..I felt very humbled.

I then stood back and watched nature take its course and by that I mean……………….I watched the crew try and form …………ummmmm………….relationships……………..and as they did, I felt so happy that I am out of that game. I was never any good at talking to girls and spent most of my dating years asking girls out and then asking my Mum to wash their vomit off my clothes.

Honestly, the crew is no different to any dance club on a Friday night. Man wants woman …………..woman wants man…………………yet there are two very different ways that they want to be courted………….and there were many different messages coming from the packed aft deck of the Carnival Liberty  last night.

There were a few girls who seemed to be very good at telling the male crew how sexy they are “Check out my bottom in these tight leather jeans. Could be your lucky night.”

Now these female crew members were mostly surrounded by the Italian contractors who are here to build Guy’s Burger Joint and the other new 2.0 areas…

Then there were those male crew who were trying to let the female crew know they could be interested, but were still deciding whether they were worth the effort. These were the ones who kept checking out their hips and trying to squint down their bras…………mostly this was being done again by the ummmm contractors.

But unlike when I was a young stud muffin, it’s not all down to the man to make the first move because these days the ladies seem to have no problem in making the first move. However there is an art form to this and so to all the lady bloggers reading this, here is John Heald’s Guide On How To Pick Up A Man:

First of all, if you are relatively beautiful and he is relatively not, almost any technique will work from a slight smile to the worst chat-up line, “If you were a new burger at Guy’s Burger Joint, you would be McGorgeous.” If you are relatively ugly and he is relatively not, you’re going to have to hope he agrees that personality is more important than looks. And although every man says that’s important, he is actually talking utter bollocks.

However, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to cheat the system. You can rely on alcohol, but I wouldn’t recommend it. While beer goggles can lead to magical nights in strange beds, going home with someone who looks like George Clooney usually has the cold light of day having you waking up next to someone who looks like me…….naked……snoring……and dribbling slightly, dreaming of having gastric bypass surgery.

Anyway, it was great to see the crew have some fun – they certainly deserve it as they are working extra hard to make sure that she is ready for 3,000 guests in just 11 days time.

And finally in this rather hurried blog, I have to mention one more thing. The captain of the Carnival Liberty is Claudio Cupisti who I have not seen since the Carnival Splendor fire. When we reached San Diego after those three long days and nights at sea we were immediately joined by hoards of beards and inspectors and in the hours that followed we never really got to say goodbye and the next day………….I flew home. So seeing Captain Cupisti these past few days on the Carnival Liberty has been very special. We haven’t spoken much about what happened except that both of us said how still, even today, nearly one year after the incident, how everybody wants to still ask questions about it when they see us. I don’t talk about it much, I think I got all my feelings out in the ridiculously long blogs I wrote. But seeing Claudio again after all this time has brought the memories back again and so I want to finish this blog today by thanking him for all he did. He really was a brilliant Master of the Vessel even under the most trying and testing conditions a carnival ship has ever faced. If there is one Captain who deserves to be on the first Ship that has the new Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades………………it’s Captain Claudio Cupisti.

Time for my American Eagle flight.

Gastric Bypass my arse.

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.