FROGS VS IGUANAS

October 25, 2011 -

John Heald

There is a group of 55 guests from Japan on this cruise and as always they have provided the rest of us with some fantastic sights, from their stunningly beautiful dresses and perfect makeup the ladies wear on elegant night. I think you might have to be Japanese though to understand Japan. It’s not like America, which you can pretty much understand with one mouthful of a Guy Fieri burger or understanding us Brits by learning how to cook Yorkshire Pudding.

I wish I spoke Japanese and could write beautifully using all that beautiful calligraphy and how to bow to who and when to stop bowing. I had a group on the Carnival Magic who would bow when they met the captain and I and trying to respect that tradition I would bow back and then they would bow again and then I felt compelled to bow again and I spent the next 15 minutes on Promenade Deck bowing like some demented woodpecker.

And of course if I was Japanese maybe I would understand the fascination with sushi. You see, even with all the new features here on the Carnival Liberty, the sushi bar still attracts dozens of guests between 5pm and 8pm and I have to say I just don’t get it. Yes, I hear you saying that it’s the “ultimate healthy fast food.” But it’s just not for me. My wife loves sushi and she wishes I would love it too, bless her little Dutch clogs. She doesn’t want me to die or to get fatter, so when I am home she keeps me on a diet of mashed vegetables, muesli and grilled sodding chicken. It is kind and loving of her to do so, but sometimes I look at our refrigerator shelves full of Greek yogurt and falafel and skimmed milk and olive spread, and I feel like crying. And after being here on the Carnival Liberty for three days I know that when I am home I will crave a Guy Fieri burger with melted cheese, a crispy onion ring, lashings of bacon bits and even his very own special mayonnaise.

This is what I was brought up on and Mrs. Heald, my wonderful Mum, prepared dinners that matched the brown and dark green colour scheme of our house. Her two hungry kids and hard working husband ate shepherd’s pie and peas, pork chops, steak and kidney puddings, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with jam rolly poly and lashings spotted dick and custard for dessert.

I love man food. It’s why I have a beach ball for a stomach and it’s why I hate the girliness of sushi. Yep, to me sushi is a girl’s food. The end.

Let’s do some Q and A shall we…………….off we go.

Kim Risley asked:

Dear John,

We are planning on booking a cruise for the 22nd for a three-day cruise out of Port Canaveral. This will be my husband’s 10th cruise and my eight. We are looking forward to “experiencing” VIP. Just wanted to say thanks for the blog. I read your blog from time to time. But wanted to say we have always enjoyed Carnival. We have been on other cruise lines, but have decided that I think we will stick with Carnival whenever we can. We are looking forward to our Inspiration Cruise in a few weeks.

Kim

John says:

Hello Kim Risley

As I am about a month behind with questions being answered here on the blog thingy I am sure by now you have been on your cruise which was a special one for you being your Platinum cruise. I apologise for being late with my reply and I wanted to also say that I hope you enjoyed the cruise and especially all the Platinum benefits. Thank you so much for your loyalty and I hope we get to sail together one day.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Jim Munkittrick asked:

Suggestion:

When Conquest experiences a weather delay in Galveston. The embarking passengers line up “for miles”…….not really that far……..outside. Security at the door lets folks in only single file. If you had a second door (which is already there) you could move suite passengers and your most loyal guests in quickly………shortening the exterior lines. Seems once you spend two hours in the line to get through the door, you can breeze through check-in, so why not move those folks out of the long line, get them checked-in, reduce the outside line, those standing the rain or the fog or the heat……..and make far more passengers………in all categories happier? Sometimes the “beards” do not have a clue how the locals enforce policies….locals tend to make it up as they go along. Enjoy your ability as a wordsmith!!!!!

John says:

Hello Jim Munkittrick

Yes indeed, when we have fog delays in Galveston we are definitely aware of the concerns it causes. While the guests on board are happy and content and still being served and looked after by the crew, those waiting to join the ship are not doing so in the most comfortable surroundings. I hope that the new facilities at the Port of Galveston are going to help with this and until then I will send this to our director of embarkation for her attention. I am sure that she is aware and I am sure there are reasons such as manning and or safety that come into play here but I will for sure show her your comments which I thank you for posting. I hope you had a wonderful time on the Carnival Conquest.

Best wishes.

John

Jerry asked:

I need a Cruise Critic meet and greet for the Carnival Liberty sailing of December 10. I expect a large turnout of 100 plus so a bar/lounge/room at 2 pm on the first sea day would be appropriate and also a listing in the daily Fun Times should be made so our group knows where to go. On a personal note this will be our 11th cruise with Carnival and this time we have ocean suite, cabin 7258!

John says:

Hello Jerry

Thanks for letting me know and I will ask Butch the CD here to arrange a lounge for you and we will add it to the Fun Times as you requested. I hope you all have a brilliant time and I promise you will love this beautiful ship and all her exciting upgrades.

Best wishes.

John

Judy asked:

John-

We’re just now traveling home from a wonderful cruise aboard the Magic. Enjoyed it more than I could have hoped for. The ship is beautiful, the staff wonderfully accommodating, and although I didn’t have a chance to meet you, I laughed at yours and Calvyn’s antics. Food was great, shore excursions lovely and even debarkation went very smoothly (not our experience on a past Caribbean cruise). We’ll be singing Carnival’s praises for a long while! Thank you all.

John says:

Hello Judy

It feels so long ago that I was on the Carnival Magic and thanks so much for those wonderful words. Hosting the Morning Show with Calvyn was always a highlight and I hope that you are going to come and see us again very soon, maybe on the Carnival Breeze. Debarkation is so easy in Europe especially as we are given quite a bit of leeway in terms of our processes. Thanks again for writing and I am so glad you had fun.

Best wishes.

John

Amy Beth Baker asked:

Hi John,

We have just returned from a seven-day cruise on the Splendor and we had a blast. Loved the spa cabin. Everyone was great – Ron, our room steward and the staff in the Black Pearl stood out: Mario, Christopher and Luci were all exceptional. They were professional and friendly. They were awesome and because of our experience with the 4 of them we will book on Carnival again! Thank you for the birthday wishes for our daughter Sheila, she enjoyed the strawberries and was thrilled that you remembered her. Todd gave her a ship on a stick which is now sitting next to her cheer trophies, thank you Todd! My two teens really enjoyed the club programs and made tons of friends. I promised that I would pass on a suggestion; they both suggested that the teens should have one dinner service together in the main dining room. I hope that you can pass on our thanks and kudos to Ron, Mario, Christopher and Luci.

Thanks.

Amy Loren Jonny & Sheila

John says:

Hello Amy Beth Baker

It’s no secret that the Carnival Splendor is one of my favourite ships and from your review I can see she still is doing very well and keeping that high level of service and fun. I will pass on your congratulations and your suggestion although seating all the teens at dinner one night is very difficult as we don’t have empty tables for that amount of people. I am so glad all was good and I hope we will see you and the family again soon.

Best wishes.

John

Dana Macmillan asked:

Hey John!

You should tell people that skateboards cannot be brought on the ship. It’s not on your list on the web page and when my son got his skateboard out on the Lido deck it was confiscated by your security people and my son was devastated. He has entered the MegaRamp championship in California and has a very good chance of winning and needed to be on the board as much as he could be. It would have not disturbed anyone but it was taken from him and only given back the day we got off the Carnival Paradise. Can you explain why?

John says:

Hello Dana MacMillan

Thank you for writing and I apologise that skateboards are not part of the prohibited list that we publish on carnival.com but I will ask our team to add it because obviously it is not allowed. Now I will say that had your son not tried to use it on board but had taken it ashore we would not have had any problems with that and as long as the local people didn’t mind then I am sure that would have been OK. However, it was taken from him because to skateboard on a moving ship could be dangerous and should an unexpected movement of the vessel happen and your son was on the skateboard then it could have injured him or a guest that was passing by. I should also mention that our open decks are not designed for skateboards and I am sure that it would have at some point disturbed the other guests as well. So I hope that explains why this happened and I also wish your son all the best and hope he wins.

Best wishes.

John

Michelle Simmons asked:

Hi John,

Just found your blog and I love it! Do you have any experiences of claustrophobic customers to share with us? We are first-time cruisers, sailing on the Ecstasy on Nov. 26. The thing is…….my husband is claustrophobic and I booked an inside cabin for him, my nine-year-old son and me. We are on a tight budget for vacation, and it was the most affordable option so I jumped on it. Now I’m wondering if I made the wrong choice booking it. Can you allay our fears or did we make a bad decision?

John says:

Hello Michelle Simmons

That is a very interesting question indeed and it’s not one that I have been asked before but I think you have very little to worry about. Carnival’s staterooms are among the most spacious in the industry and I think leaving the bathroom light on at night so that your husband can see where he is at all times will help. The fact is that you will not spend too much time in there and of course the rest of the ship is bright, open and will give you the best vacation ever. Please don’t worry, relax and all will be well. If you have any other questions please let me know.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Jeremy T asked:

Mr Heald,

We just returned from our 9/13/2011 for a cruise to Alaska. It was our third cruise on Carnival. We cruised to three Alaska cities on the inward passage. We were disappointed with the food served in the dining room and in the regular restaurant. The food was cold and not much of a selection in either place. We felt it was much too expensive to spend $30 per person to eat in the fancier restaurants. Another problem was the service in the dining room. It was very poor and the waiters seemed to be on their own agenda. We had opted for early dining and they seemed to be in a hurry to get you served and out of the dining room. Cabin service was good. We also didn’t like the fact that our cruise ended in Vancouver where the people were rude and unfriendly. Then we were bussed back to Seattle to the airport where we spent 10 hours before our flight home.

John says:

Hello Jeremy T

I am very sorry to read that there were aspects of the cruise that you did not enjoy and my concerns are mostly regarding the service and food in the dining room. I will make sure these are passed on and improvements are made. If you could help me by sending me your last name and or cabin number so the ship can see exactly which waiter you had and therefore we can make sure your server is given the right help he or she needs to improve. I am glad you enjoyed the service from your state room steward and that overall you had a good cruise and enjoyed beautiful Alaska. I must say though I have never heard anyone mention that the people in Vancouver were “rude and unfriendly” as usually it’s the opposite. Thanks again for taking the time to write.

Best wishes.

John

Derek T asked:

John,

I use a motor scooter and need a table close to the entrance of the dining room.

11/05/11 table x 2 early sitting bkg number ******

John says:

Hello Derek T

Thanks for letting me know about this and I have asked the maitre d to assist you as best he can. Have a great time.

Best wishes.

John

Patricia Kilcoyne asked:

Hi John,

My husband and I took CCL’s Bermuda cruise out of Charleston in May. Are they abandoning that trip? We enjoyed it immensely, except for the weekend in Bermuda. The island literally closes down at 5pm on Saturday, and does not re-open until Monday. Will they ever do this route again? Maybe consider adding an extra day – stay until Monday? We love sailing out of Charleston – short drive to the port – and the Carnival Fantasy is such a nice little ship. Comfy! We would really like something ot do other than Nassau and Freeport, and Bermuda was a great change.

John says:

Hello Patricia Kilcoyne

I am so glad you enjoyed Bermuda and sailing to there from Charleston. I haven’t heard of any plans to return there next year but I hope we will see more sailings to Bermuda in the future as they are exceedingly popular with our guests. I am so glad you also loved the Carnival Fantasy and I hope we see you again very soon. Thanks so much for writing.

Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today and as always a big thank you for all your comments. It’s not a very pleasant day here today with Hurricane Bastardirna causing six of our ships to have to alternate their schedules, including the Carnival Liberty which is heading now to Ocho Rios. We have canceled Grand Cayman and replaced that with beautiful Grand Turk. Today though is murky and grey and the seas are a little choppy and while most guests have accepted the itinerary change, as usual there are one or two who have proclaimed that the only reason they booked this cruise was to go to Grand Cayman. They’re frustrated and that’s understandable. However, one has to feel sorry for the two couples who were due to get married in Grand Cayman and for whom the ships staff with shoreside help are desperately trying to arrange the ceremony in Jamaica instead. Hopefully the sun will come out tomorrow for them and for all the guests as today looks as grey as an elephant’s dangly bits.

So as expected the Lido Deck has become a destination with guests staying out far later on deck 9 than ever before and that’s because we have made some changes that have complemented the two new bars. Let’s start with those, the RedFrog Rum Bar and the BlueIguana Tequila Bar. Both have become instant hits and it’s been interesting to see loyalties develop between these two competing bars. Later in the cruise I will ask guests why they have chosen one over the other but I think already that they chose which one they will sit at based on a couple of reasons. Obviously the choices of drinks are important and ThirstyFrog Red is proving as popular here as it was at Carnival Magic’s RedFrog Pub. Over at the BlueIguana the Mexican imported beers are proving a huge hit as are the margaritas and other frozen specialties. So, drink choice is important but I also think there is another reason as well and that’s the personalities of the bartenders who work there. I often find that our guests will frequent bars based on the personality behind that bar and certainly at the RedFrog Rum Bar and the BlueIguana Tequila Bar we have some sparkling crew who work hard and work hard with passion and fun which the guests love. Each bar also has their own guitar/singer soloist and I see that our guests are starting to draw allegiance to either Tim at the RedFrog or Eric at the BlueIguana and both are doing a brilliant job.

So which bar is winning at the moment? Well last night we had the RedFrog’s Caribbean Beach Party and guests were very happy. They were very happy first of all because the ship stayed in Cozumel until 10 pm and some were sponsored by Carlos and Frogs or whatever those bars are called. Now this is a new deck party and will be on every ship that gets the Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades. The DJ stated things off and then Butch and his staff went into a series of new dances for all the guests to enjoy and enjoy they certainly did with hundreds line dancing moving from left to right and doing strange things with their bottoms. During the party the staff handed out glow sticks and beads and RedFrog gifts……..it was one of the best deck parties I have seen in a long time. And I should say that this is a huge step forward because our deck parties certainly needed new life breathed into them and having free stuff to throw out and great music and of course these two new bars have given the Carnival Liberty surely the best deck party in the fleet. Actually, that may not be true because on Wednesday night there will be another deck party. This will be the BlueIguana’s Mexican Fiesta……..I wonder why we didn’t hold this one while we were actually in Mexico? Anyway, this one will feature gifts and prizes from the BlueIguana and of course the cantina will be open serving Mexican food and there will be an upgraded Mexican buffet served inside the Lido Restaurant as well. I am sure this will be a huge hit.

On a normal sea day the Lido would start to empty around 5 pm-ish and by 6 pm the housekeeping guys would be stacking chairs and cleaning the deck. It certainly isn’t like that here and here is why. First of all there is the music. This ship does not have a Calypso duo. Now I know this will immediately raise the hackles of a few but hold on, before you get your Calvin Klein’s in a twist, let me explain what we are doing instead. First of all we have two DJ’s on this ship, both trained by the master, DJ Irie who is one of the new breed of superstar DJ’s and he has done a brilliant job training DJ Alex and DJ Paul here on the Carnival Liberty although I think they need better names. So they play their music which starts at 11 am to 1 pm. Then at 1 pm we go to pool games and fun with the staff. Then the first of the live musicians takes over and then back to the DJ and then the next live musician and then back to the DJ. So last night we had music from 11 am to 9 pm and which time we started our Chick Flick Movie Night where 150 people sat and watched 50 First Dates and Notting Vomit…..I mean Notting Hill.

As I mentioned there may be a few who lament the fact that we don’t have a calypso duo here and that we won’t on the ships that get these upgrades. We have replaced the duo with two guitar soloists whose mix of popular songs have been as I mentioned earlier, loved by the guests. But the DJ’s …….well let me just say that when I walked on Lido yesterday at 3 pm there was an amazing atmosphere and I have not seen so many guests dancing at that time of the day on Lido since …….well, ever. DJ Irie has taught our DJ’s what music to play and don’t worry, you’re not going to be subjected to hours of crap, I mean rap but instead a mixture of the 70’s, 80’s and today’s music. There are no breaks, music is constant and so is the fun and the guests love it, they really do. I haven’t had one single comment of “Where is the duo?” but we have had many comments that say “We love Lido.” That’s not spin, that’s the simple truth.

So we really have made Lido a destination and with the pools staying open until late which compliments all I have mentioned above and the themed movie nights, we have created in essence a brand new Lido Deck experience and the guests have shown through their participation, their comments and the packed bars that they obviously think it’s absolutely brilliant.

One last thing…………….which bar is the most popular? The answer so far is by a small margin, the RedFrog Rum Bar. I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that we allow something we don’t allow at the BlueIguana………..smoking!

We have recently had some great contests on Carnival’s Facebook page and there will be more soon with really great prizes. Did you see the videos that people made showing us their groovy moves in order to win tickets to see Maroon 5 in Galveston? If not, here is a link for you to see some brilliant and quite unique dancing

I rarely enter contests because I am as thick as a ton of bricks and I never ever win bugger all. However, if I did I wonder what prize I would most like to win. Certainly I would like to be win Megan Fox’s bottom for the day. I’d also love to drive an Aston Martin and I would like to win the prize of mummifying Simon Cowell in duct tape. However, what I would really like to do is win a seat on a Virgin……..no not a Latvian Virgin but the Virgin Spacecraft. You see Richard Branson the multi zillionaire owner of Virgin and other things confirmed that he will have a contest to give tickets away for his spacecraft plane thingy for a trip around Planet Earth and back. How brilliant is that? The company is called Virgin Galactic and passengers like rock stars Lay Z, U2’s Boner will pay $200,000 for a three-hour tour. Oh how I would love to win that contest.

I guess I should explain at this point that I’m a space nut. When I see photographs of other planets the hairs on my arse stand on end. It’s William Shatner’s fault you know. Ever since I was a wee lad I would watch Jim Kirk and wonder if anyone could possibly overact more than he and if his acting style was a result of permanent constipation. Seriously though I watched Star Trek and I believed. I truly felt that we were not alone.

Yes I know there are dangers but Virgin has never had a cras………well I am not going to tempt fate here by writing what I was going to write but I will say that despite one or two high profile disasters space travel seems relatively safe. Take Apollo 13 where astronauts Hanks, Paxton and Bacon were marooned in space with not even enough power to run an electric toothbrush but they still got back okay.

Yep, I would love to be on that Virgin space ship. I wouldn’t care if my space suit made me look like the Michelin man and I wouldn’t care that farting in a space suit is not recommended. And if I won I would represent all of you by killing two birds with one stone. I would get to achieve my goal to be an astronaut and while I was up there I would launch Carnival Corporation’s own satellite which would replace the current system which has the same band width as a supermodel’s waist. Yep, we would launch the new, super high speed Carnival satellite and send the other one all the way to Uranus.

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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