UNIFORM 2.0

October 27, 2011 -

John Heald

Being here on Carnival Liberty has meant that I have seen people I haven’t seen for a long time both crew and guests. Yesterday I met a guest who last sailed with me on Carnival Triumph in 2003. “You look good,” he said. “I barely recognised you.” Er, thanks….I think. Then just this morning a guest who is an avid reader of the blog and a prominent poster on Facebook told me “You know what I really admire about you?” “What?” I asked, preparing to be flattered. “The way you don’t care about fashion,” he continued.

These comments are all brilliant examples of a lost art form………the compliment that really isn’t one and is in fact the complete opposite.

Disguising an insult through flattery requires skill and expertise. Usually they are time release criticisms, as well. You think they have given you a huge compliment but a minute later the sudden realisation that it wasn’t explodes inside you and leaves you pissed off for days. Often a guest will say to me, “You look well John,” but I have learnt to understand that this actually means: “You’re a fat sod.” “You look tired,” spoken similarly means: “By God, you’re old and look like you are a few steps away from the pearly gates.”

But this is child’s play. To be a proper bastard, you need to be really clever. I was in the entertainment offices last week where one lady who I can’t name but used to be a dancer when I was the CD on the Carnival Ecstasy back in 1788 said to her colleague who was eating McDonald’s at her desk. “It’s amazing,” that you eat so much junk food and still stay relatively slim”………a round of applause for that one. She should teach a master class in the backhanded compliment. Other comments I have heard her use include the wonderful “You look thinner than usual today.”

I realised when I did those few weeks as CD on the Carnival Fantasy last year that some Southerners have a marvelous way of giving someone a compliment that really isn’t one. People from the south it seems can get away with the most awful kind of insult just as long as it’s prefaced with the words “Bless her heart” or “Bless his heart.” My experience of this was usually from two Southern ladies chatting to each others in, “Look at the size of that woman. Her legs could hold up an oil rig………..bless her heart” Or, “Hey Mary Lou……..look at that cruise director. He’s so fat he was baptised at Sea World…………..bless his heart.”

But the best one ever said to me was by a beautiful girl I was trying to date. It was back on the Carnival Imagination in 1995 and I will never ever forget what she said to me. Her name was Sam, another dancer in fact ……….yes, yes I had a thing for dancers. Anyway, I remember trying everything, flowers, meals, gifts and eventually I got her to my cabin. We sat on the sofa in the CD cabin. I poured her a glass of wine and looked into her beautiful blue eyes. Those eyes looked back at me and just when I was ready to move forward she started talking about her ex-boyfriend and she said these immortal words. “Good looks are a curse. You should count yourself lucky John.”

Time for today’s Q and A……….off we go.

Wendi Barlaam asked:
John,

I will be taking my grandson on his first ever cruise this Thanksgiving. He has overcome dyslexia to do well at school and deserves a reward. He will be with me and my husband on the Splendor 11/30 in suite 2282 and a visit to the bridge with the captain is something he deserves and would make his cruise very special.

Thank you!

John says:
Hello Wendy Barlaam,

Congratulations to your grandson, you must be very proud of him. While I can’t get him to the bridge I will certainly send him something from me to say well done. I hope you all have a brilliant time together Wendy.

Best wishes to all.

John


Caroline Kaiser asked:

John,

I need to ask why Carnival does very little to help those with special dietary needs like other cruise lines do. I have been a strict vegan for 11 years now and I know you like to make fun of us but I wonder John we are roughly the same age I think and I think I know who is the healthiest. This last two months I have cruised with Celebrity and on Carnival and the difference is that Celebrity cares. At their lunch buffet we had so many options including aborigine burger, vegan wraps, Mediterranean vegetables, Mexican style tomato & bean chili with vegan cheese. They also serve vegan ice cream, vegan cakes, flapjacks, toast with soya margarine & strawberry jam/marmalade and soya milk. A very vegan friendly cruise line and Carnival is going to need to step up if it wants Vegan cruisers to consider them, the choice on the Carnival Dream was pitiful.

John says:
Hello Caroline Kaiser,

First of all please allow me to apologise if I offended you in anyway. I do have a bit of fun with vegatableists as I do with my own weight. If you think another cruise line is providing more choice than we are then we need to do something about it and I have sent your list of examples to Sanjay, the executive chef. Can I mention we have three different vegetarian options and the new BlueIguana Cantina including a vegan burrito. Thanks for taking the time to write and I hope your cruise on the Carnival Dream was a fun one.

Best wishes.

John

Glenn E Conklin asked:
Good Day John!

I trust all is well with you and the Carnival Magic today over in the Med. I just posted a similar message on your Facebook wall and wanted to send it here as well to make sure you receive the feedback. I want to firstly say THANKS to you and ALL the crew on the Magic for making our recent vacation so AMAZING. My partner Jason and I just returned home to Washington, DC after sailing with you on the 8/26 nine-day sailing from Barcelona, and we had an excellent time! Everyone on the ship was a delight to be around, and you and your staff do an excellent job of making things fun for everyone. I want to especially thank John (Beyonce), Calvyn, Christian, Ryan, Melody, Nebojsa (shore excursion), and Maja (photo) for leaving such a positive impression of Carnival with us after we have arrived home. We are still laughing and talking about “Single Ladies” days after. We really appreciated all the hard work you and your staff put forth to make it a true vacation for everyone.

My partner Jason was a first time cruiser and before we left on the trip I wasn’t totally sure how he would react to the Carnival experience – as you stated in previous blogs, sailing with Carnival isn’t for everyone, and that’s OK – this was my fifth cruise with Carnival (sixth booked for 2/2012 on the Carnival Destiny) so I knew exactly what to expect, but wasn’t sure if Jason would find the experience as amusing and light-hearted as I do. Well, the team on the Carnival Magic really knocked it out of the park with Jason – not only are we both booked on the Carnival Destiny in February, but we are now trying to scrape the funds together to sail with you on the inaugural voyage of the Carnival Breeze next June 3 from Venice! I can’t say enough thanks to you and the crew for truly letting me go on vacation these past nine days. Keep up the good work and take good care of the Magic – she is truly a beauty in the Carnival fleet. CHEERS!

John says:
Hello Glenn E Conklin,

That is a brilliant post and one I am very grateful to you for writing. My time on the Carnival Magic seems so long ago and as I sit here now on the Carnival Liberty in my underpants those wonderful memories have come flooding back thanks to your post. She is a great ship and I worked with one of the best groups of crew members that I have ever worked alongside and they made an already fantastic ship even better. Thanks to you and Jason and I look forward to seeing you both next year.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Lora Haddon asked:

We have just returned from a cruise on the Carnival Triumph. This was our eighth cruise so I know what cruising is all about and this cruise in no way measured up to Carnival’s standards. I have never been on a more disorganized cruise. From the beginning our luggage was loaded into the ship in the rain – uncovered. When the luggage arrived at our stateroom water was pouring out of it and everything inside was soaked. Lots of luggage had gotten so wet that the luggage tags had washed off so they didn’t even know where it belonged. There has got to be a better way! Then we were late getting into Cozumel and it took over an hour in line to get off the ship. Once off the ship it was a beautiful sunny day and we enjoyed our time at the beach. After arriving at the mouth of the Mississippi we were forced to anchor and wait for the river to reopen. We then arrived in New Orleans and the announcement was made for people in wheelchairs and early flights to exit. Everyone seemed to be exiting at that time no matter what. None of the Carnival employees did anything to even try to correct this. Perhaps an announcement could have been made stating “be prepared to show your boarding passes” to try to stop this. After waiting almost two hours to exit the ship we too decided that since everyone seemed to be debarking we would too. We had a four-hour drive ahead of us and had small children that had school the next day and couldn’t wait any longer. John, I have cruised in bad weather before. We were on the Carnival Conquest when Hurricane Katrina/Rita first moved us to Galveston then turned our seven-day cruise into a 10-day cruise. Even on that cruise we NEVER experienced delays and incompetence like we experienced on the Carnival Triumph. It just seemed to me that the situation wasn’t handled properly by Carnival. The entire situation was disorganized and seemed like chaos with nobody trying to sort it out. With all that said, we had a great time onboard. Our waiter Ragu and assistant waiter Jeffrey John were marvelous. The food was good although not as good as I’ve had on other ships. We were disappointed that we didn’t’ get a soufflé or Bitter and Blanc on this cruise. We were looking forward to this on formal night. Several of the trivia games and other activities were scheduled to take place at the World Bar which is basically the walkway outside the casino. There was never anywhere to sit and it was always far too crowded. I couldn’t figure out why these activities didn’t take place in one of the bars or lounges. I am really not meaning to complain too much. I love cruising and will definitely cruise with Carnival again. I am looking forward to becoming Platinum soon. I am just frustrated with the way this situation was handled. Thanks again for all that you do and I look forward to cruising with Carnival in the future.

John says:
Hello Lora Haddon,

This kind of post is as important as those that praise us. Let me start by saying how sorry I am that you had these obvious concerns, especially with your luggage getting wet like that. When your luggage is dropped off at the pier it is in the hands of the local stevedores who load it onto the ship. There is no cover between the pier and the ship and obviously the luggage got soaked. I wish there was a better way as you mentioned and that way would be to wait until the rain stops. This is fine but this could result in the late departure of the ship. I need to ask you Lora, when you discovered the suitcase was wet and your clothes were soaked was complimentary laundry offered to you? Please would you let me know as it absolutely should have been. Obviously having to wait until the river was safe for the ship to enter was not a good scenario for anyone but when the Mississippi port authorities close the port and order us to wait, there is little we can do. I know about this cruise and have had similar comments about the debarkation process and while everyone praised the ship and her crew for handling a difficult cruise many thought as you did that the debarkation process was not handled well. There is the excuse that guests did not listen to what the CD was saying but that is just an excuse as regardless it is our responsibility and I promise that your remarks will be read by the right people and once again I sincerely apologise for the very obvious inconvenience you suffered. But on a lighter note I also want to thank you for all those great comments and I hope that the crew and the fun will be the overriding memory you have of your time on the Carnival Triumph.

Best wishes.

John

Celia Alonso asked:

I need to tell you about the life boat drill on the Carnival Destiny because to get to my life boat I had to walk with my two children through a group of crew who were all smoking. It was disgusting but nothing was done. I told someone in a white uniform but she told me that it was a crew smoking area and just walked away. It was not a good start to the cruise John.

Thank you

John says:
Hello Celia Alonso,

Thanks so much for writing and I had seen a similar comment about this recently and I apologise that this happened. It should not have and I am sorry for any discomfort this may have caused you and your family. I can tell you that the crew smoking area will be closed 30 minutes before the drill starts and that this situation will not be repeated. I do hope you had a great cruise.

Best wishes.

John

John & Patty asked:
Hello John,

It has been three months, since our wonderful cruise on the Carnival Magic, and we just came off a four-day cruise out of NYC on the Carnival Glory to Canada. It was an amazing cruise. We have been on the Carnival Glory many times prior to this cruise and the ship stills looks great! It nice driving to the ship, instead of flying! We were on the ship by 11:30 am and saw some familiar faces, and had a nice lunch on lido. And everything just fell in line to having a brilliant cruise, our state room as well appointed and “roomy” our cabin steward took great pride in his work. Went to the early seating in MDR Kavian was the maitre d’ and was just a wonderful person as was Yosuf from the platinum DR! They kept the flow working very well as well as their very personal touch! Perhaps people will understand that the MD make thing happen, which makes our dining so much enjoyable! They normally do this w/o fanfare we appreciate a good MD, the new menus were in place and were nice, we also noticed ThirstyFrog Red beer on tap, which is a plus!

Entertainment was great, the highlight was the CD Josh and Pepper, the ACD. Josh is a brilliant CD, and Pepper will make a great CD (he has the charm and nice personality that is needed). Just as a matter of interest they both had glowing nice word about you and what a great mentor you are to them. I still say that a good CD can really enhance your experience on the cruise! Also they set the tone for the cruise. The port of Saint John, was surprisingly wonderful with many places to explore Reverse Fall, Bay of Fundy rocks as well as great lobster, we were impressed! When the cruise was finished the process of leaving the ship was well organized, and easy, overall the staff at all levels that we came in contact with were very warm and friendly and always for the most part called us by name. We will visit the Carnival Glory again, thank you john, for a stage (blog, FB to tell our thoughts).

Best wishes to you.

John and Patty

John says:
Hello John and Patty,

I am glad I have found this as I know we have been talking about where your post went to over on Facebook. I have fond memories of our time together on the Carnival Magic and our chats at the Ocean Plaza and I am glad that you had such a wonderful time and repeated that on the Carnival Glory. I am a big admirer of Josh as a CD and it sounds like he and the staff gave you loads of fun and that the dining staff did the same. I shall make sure that I pass this along to the ship. Thanks for the kind words and I hope we will get to sail together again very soon.

Best wishes to you both.

John

David R asked:

I am a platinum passenger with Carnival and on cruise number 15 next week on the Carnival Elation. As a platinum passenger I feel that my luggage should be delivered to my suite first but it isn’t and non VIPs get their luggage sometimes before mine. Has Carnival any plans to change this?

John says:
Hello David R,

Thanks for your loyalty and there will be anew loyalty program introduced at the start of next year which will include new benefits and while luggage delivery is not one of them I am sure you will appreciate what we will be doing for you. More details on that soon.

Best wishes

John

Nadine Hertzog asked:
John,

Hubby and I will be sailing on Magic on her first cruise and we would like private time that a table for two brings. This is our fifth Carnival sailing and we hope to have many more so I hope you can fix this table for two for us.

John says:
Hello Nadine Hertzog,

I am sure that the Carnival Magic will be your best cruise yet and I have asked the maitre d to do his best to assist you with your table request.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Kristy Varunan asked:
Hello John,

I just wanted to say thank you for helping to arrange a Tamil-speaking waiter on my recent cruise on the Carnival Pride. Ajeesh was the only waiter on the ship who spoke Tamil and we were given him as our waiter. He did a wonderful job as our waiter and even helped to arrange special meals, including for lunch. We saw him many times around the ship and he always greeted us with a smile. Also, thank you for the gifts in our cabin, I really appreciated it. You are very thoughtful!! Even though our cruise was cut short due to Hurricane Bastard we still had a great time and I can’t wait for our next cruise.

John says:
Hello Kristy Varunan,

It was a pleasure to help you and I am glad despite the challenges the storm brought that you had a great time. I hope to see you soon.

Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today.

Over the last few days I have highlighted the new areas that Fun Ship 2.0 has created and they are of course brilliant additions that simply make our guests smile. But as always it is the crew that has breathed life and fun into them and they are all thrilled to be the first team to work these new spaces. And to complement the Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades those crew have been given new uniforms to wear and I can tell you having spoken to these crew…….that they love these new uniforms, I mean absolutely love them. So well done to the beards for dressing our crew in uniforms that go completely with the product and I thought you might like to see some of those crew and what they will be wearing when they serve you.

Let’s start with the RedFrog Rum Bar and Mr. Winston from Montego Bay, Jamaica.

And now it’s time to see the uniform for the BlueIguana Tequila Bar as modeled by Grimaldo from Panama.

Probably the coolest new uniforms are those worn by the bartenders in Hot & Cool nightclub. They love them and so do the guests as you will see now as we present from left to right: Maria from Belaruse, Levgen from Ukraine and Trayana from Bulgaria.

And finally we have the Alchemy Bar and the lovely Adri from South Africa.

You can expect to see new uniforms for all the ships with or without Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades. Last month Gerry and the beards were treated to a fashion show on the Carnival Imagination where the crew modeled new uniforms from the waiters, housekeeping, security and other departments and may I say “thank goodness” because we have needed to freshen this up for many years. And at last our entertainment staff won’t look like they are about to deliver you a sodding pizza.

Next week you will see all the videos we have made and a huge thanks must go to Peter the Hair and Jay the Recently Married of whom I will talk more in a moment for all their hard work and, of course, my assistant Mel who has been her calm organised self and I hope you enjoy the footage you will see next week.

So how do I recap what the Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades have meant to the Carnival Liberty? I can honestly say I have had nothing but brilliant reviews from the guests and nearly as important is the fact that her crew is thrilled and excited about the new features here. Carnival Liberty is not the newest ship in our fleet. She’s not the biggest either but with all these brilliant new spaces ……… there is no doubt in my mind that she is the coolest. Come see for yourself.

So let’s talk about me for a bit shall we. Good, glad that’s OK then. First of all I am a little sad today. You see I haven’t mentioned this before but next week Heidi and Kye were due to join me. They had planned to fly into Miami on the 29th, stay with me in a family friendly hotel with a pool and beach and bouncy castles and then join me on the Carnival Magic before all flying home together in early December. But that has now changed………bugger. Heidi will now be going to Holland to look after her Mum for a while as she has to have some immediate surgery that Heidi wants to be there for. So that’s that then and obviously I am really disappointed but of course Heidi must be with her Mum who will be fine but will be a bit immobile for a few days.

And indeed I have had to change my plans ……….again. I will fly to Galveston as planned and host the concert and events and sail on that first cruise but then on the 20th I will fly to Miami so this means that I won’t be on for the three cruises as planned. This is because of two reasons. First I am going to be meeting with Carnival’s new VP of entertainment Adrian Fischer. I am honoured to be asked to discuss with him about our current entertainment program and the role of the cruise director. Adrian has a marvelous resume and we are all excited to see where he will lead us and I will be there to assist him as and when needed. I will of course be interviewing him for the blog very soon. The second reason I am coming back to Miami is that I have an appointment on the 22nd of November with a specialist regarding my carpool tunnel thingy which continues to play me merry hell.

Now I don’t like doctors because whenever I go and see them about whether it’s my arm or my nose or my little toe it always involves me dropping my underpants and Dr Longfinger giving me the business with latex. But I have to get this arm thing sorted out so I know I have to go. My only experience of American hospitals was pre-blog. Heidi and I rented a villa in Orlando and she trapped her finger in the sliding doors that led out to the pool. After I had called her a clumsy sod I noticed that her finger looked like Tom’s after Jerry had given him the good news by dropping an iron on it. And so we went off to see if George Clooney was working at the Orlando ER.

Well to cut a long story short Heidi was denied treatment at the hospital because our insurance didn’t extend to the U.S. Even though I had a wallet full of credit cards, she was prepared to let Heidi’s finger explode all over her desk because we didn’t have the necessary insurance. I was very upset as you can imagine and had to use all my charm and the promise of a free cruise and a fruit basket to get her to let me see a doctor. We finally got in and the doctor told Heidi she had broken her finger, gave her some pain killers and put a peg thingy on her finger, smiled and gave me a bill for $475 …..I kid you not….$475. After telling Heidi she could forget seeing Disney World that week and writing my address as 25 Bollocks Street on the hospital payment form and shortly thereafter I got a new insurance plan that included worldwide coverage.

Of course us Brits have a National Health system that is brilliant and it is also bloody awful. When Heidi had Kye I could not fault them in anyway and our Mrs. Doubtfire nurse or midwife as we call them was a true angel from heaven. She held her hand, cleaned up things that had dripped from Heidi and agreed while Heidi was “pushing” that I was a complete bastard with no more right to live on God’s green Earth than a dung beetle.

And of course there are negative sides to it as well. The government has found it hard to pay for this health for all care and thus standards have slipped and continue to do. There are long wait lists and ask any Brit and they will tell you their own stories.

My sister Suedrip recently bought a horse. Ever since she was young she has always dreamt of owning a horse and now she does. She has worked hard for this and I am always so proud of how successful she has been in the bastard world of banking. Anyway, back in September she bought a horse and along with her two dogs and the farmhouse she lives in on two acres on I now call her Laura Ingles. Anyway, my sister is an experienced rider and yet as she tried to mount her new steed the sodding four-legged glue stick bucked and she fell off and her hurt her ankle and couldn’t walk. Her husband was out and because it hurt so much she decided to call for help.

Things started well. The ambulance arrived promptly, the ankle was strapped and off she went in a big, exciting white thing with big blue flashing lights. Now, we are all used to a bit of a wait at the hospital in a room full of people with swords in their eyes, bowling balls lodged in their bottoms and their feet on back to front. But nothing can prepare you for the yawning chasm of time that passes in a British ER room (or A & E – accident and emergency as we call it) before the healthcare system actually does any healthcare and she had a four-hour wait before she was seen. And when she was she then had another two-hour wait for an X-ray and another hour wait after that before Dr Ramitin could see her. So it was a total of seven hours…..for a badly sprained ankle. But it was free. So, there is good and there is bad to both. But I have to get this taken care of because after a day at the computer writing this and my Facebook page it hurts, honestly it does. So I will have tests etc done in Miami and then they will send the reports etc to a specialist in London whom I will see when I am home.

Talking of home I will be going home on November 23 until January 20. This will be nearly two months vacation and I really need that. It has been a long six months of Carnival Magic delivery and a European season plus of course these last two months of traveling so seven weeks off will be just what me and more importantly my family need. I will of course be with you here and on Facebook throughout that time and hopefully will be writing with a less painful arm. On January 20 I will be in Philadelphia for a few days to meet with the Hasbro folks and then I will be back on Carnival Magic on January 29 for a few weeks as CD and then of course ready for the bloggers cruise which Heidi and Kye will be sailing on.

You know, people tend to tell me their problems. I think this is because they see that being fat and ugly that I have problems of my own and that maybe I will understand theirs. This has always been so and over the years I have had guests and crew tell me about their relationship problems and troubles and cares about life in general and I always try and listen and give them the best advice I can.

Many years ago I had a singer from our shows knock on my door late at night on the Carnival Fantasy. He was married to a dancer and told me that he had realised that he preferred men and that his marriage was a sham. I spent the next few hours listening to him and then the following day sitting with him and his soon to be ex-wife as he explained to her that their relationship was over. She left the ship immediately and it was a traumatic time for them and I hoped I was a good listener as he described his situation.

I tell you this because of something that happened last night. I have been working here on the Carnival Liberty with Peter the Hair and Jay The Recently Married. These two chaps have taken our video coverage of everything we do at Carnival to a new level and they have I promise, only just begun.

So last night we spent hours filming and they then spent even more hours editing the footage you will see very soon including me bartending at the Alchemy Bar! Anyway, it had been a long day and later we met for a wrap up session in the EA SPORTS bar. I arrived and Jay was there on his own, sitting have a ThirstyFrog Red. Jay is so talented and great fun to be with and as I have mentioned he has just gotten married to a lovely lady called Heather.

So anyway, I sat next to him, ordered my Diet Coke and saw that Jay looked very serious and this is what happened and will explain why I had a flashback to the story I mentioned that happened many years ago on the Carnival Fantasy. Jay sipped on his beer and looked so so serious. He was quiet, withdrawn even and certainly not his chatty self. And then suddenly, he looked up and with purpose in his eyes he said something that I had not been expecting.

“John, I have to tell you………………I really like guys.”

There was no emotion in his voice – it was just a statement that he needed to tell me. My brain quickly analyzed this and I was drawn back to the singer on the Fantasy who had told me the same thing.

“Oh,” I replied and not sure what to say I followed on with “Have you told your wife?”

Jay’s demeanor suddenly changed and from showing no emotion his face turned as red as his hair and he started to laugh really loud, so loud that everyone in the EA SPORTS bar started to stare back at us.

What? What was he laughing about? I was about to find out because when he composed himself he said and I quote, “Not guys, you f*****g idiot, I like Guy’s………….Guy’s Burgers.”

And the laughter continued. Still, I gave Jay Calvyn’s number……….just in case.

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.