CARE TO HAVE FUN

January 4, 2012 -

John Heald

So I took Breeze for his first walk this morning. Up until now he has been in the garden where he will sniff and think about taking a crap before deciding he doesn’t want one and of course the moment I let him indoors he drops a turd in front of the dishwasher which seems to be his favourite place to do a number two. So this morning in Baltic conditions I dragged my lilywhite arse out of bed and took Breeze for his first walk and this of course meant that I became a crap collector. Over the years I have enjoyed watching dog owners bending over to scoop up their dog’s poop with their hands; it always gave me a giggle. Funny isn’t it. Sports stars, movie stars, even President Obama I guess all have to kneel down with their inside out plastic bags to clean up after their dogs output and as I said, I always had a good laugh at them.

Yet just an hour ago there I was, having to bend down and scoop up the droppings from Breeze’s bum and I realised how bloody ridiculous the whole scenario is. I mean, OK I am nothing special but can you imagine what it must be like for the rich and tanned? Take Gerry Cahill, our president and CEO, who is a huge dog lover and has I believe two or three dogs, yet he still has to clean up their poo-poo platters and what must his dogs be thinking? Our president and CEO owner has come home after a day of high level meetings about the next ship to get the magnificent Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades, and Gerry’s dog is saying, “Hey, everyone, watch him bend down and pick up this load. President my arse!

Anyway, before taking Breeze for his walk I had been told by Heidi and had read comments from bloggers and Facebookers that I should CONGRATULATE HIM ON HIS PERFORMANCE! What? So not only am I expected to scoop up his dinner but I am supposed to stand there, in public, congratulating him as he squeezes out a poopsie. What a sodding ridiculous scenario.

Look, the only reason I am going to agree to walk Breeze is so that he doesn’t crap on the carpet. My hunch is that Breeze will deliberately bottle it up until I am free to take him for a walk, just so he can humiliate me by making my fat arse bend down in public to pick up his steamers, thereby showing every passer by who’s the boss in this relationship. Still, if I have to go this whole thing then I am going to do it properly. This morning in the little grassy area near where we live I met other dog owners. One lady was congratulating her miniature poodle and in an annoying baby voice was saying “Come on Twinkle, do a poo-poo for Mummy.” So to join the club I shouted, “Come on Breeze, for God’s sake take a s**t will you!”

There must be somewhere where these picking up dog turd laws don’t apply. A place that has streets full of dog poo and nobody cares. Oh hold on………there is such a place……………it’s Paris.

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

Vanessa L asked:
Hi John,

I am a long standing member of one of those big cruise review page thingies where everyone has an opinion about something…I think you know the one 🙂 The reason I am writing is to tell you of our experience on the Carnival Victory last week. I’ll caveat this by saying that I have been reading review after review that, system wide, recent cruisers have found Carnival’s employees rude, non-engaging, and seemed genuinely miserable to be in their jobs. I’ve read over and over that the Lido dining areas are a mess, going for hours without cleaning tables, etc. I went into this cruise with the expectation that things might not be what I have always come to expect with Carnival. I was pleasantly surprised, when from check in through arrival to our room — everyone was incredibly pleasant to deal with. From the moment we boarded we were greeted with smiling faces. Every single employee we encountered smiled at us, said, “Welcome aboard,” made eye contact, and genuinely seemed happy to be where they were. The overall vibe on the Carnival Victory is awesome and I was thrilled to see that, at least for the Carnival Victory, the “system wide” reviews were not applicable.

I wanted to let you know about Oswald, our room steward. I’ve cruised about 40 times now (across various lines) and he is easily one of the best stewards we have ever had. He was always around in the halls, greeted my husband and I by name after one introduction, kept our room very clean, and immediately brought two items requested during our cruise. His personality shines and I wanted to be sure to let you know about his excellent service.

Please commend the Carnival Victory staff for a job well done. Karl was also a hoot to sail with and I enjoyed him and his staff tremendously.

I do have one “just curious” question. What determines what group number you get when you are checking in? Four couples from our roll call all checked in at the same time in San Juan. We were all at the counter simultaneously. This was about 11:30AM or so. My husband and I got a card for group 1. OK, that made sense; it was early, after all. However, two couples got group 2 and one couple got group 4, even though we all left the counter at the same time. In addition, there were only about 30-40 other people waiting to board at that early hour so I can’t fathom that group 4 was needed that early. In the end, we were all allowed to board using our group 1 card, I just wondered what the rhyme or reason was why we received everything from group 1-4 when we all checked in at the same time. Thanks! And I love your blog!

Vanessa

John says:
Hello Vanessa,

Thanks so very much for this brilliant review as it shows that while everyone is entitled to an opinion it is important to go onboard with an open mind which you did of course. I do know the site you are referring to and I guess often the people who write there are heavily influenced by the title of the website. Anyway, I will be honoured to send your words of praise to the ship and of course they will be so happy to see that you have taken the time to mention them. I will have to check into the whole embarkation question because you are correct, if you all checked into regular embarkation at the same time then you should I think all be given the same number. Maybe they have a system I am unaware of but I will check and let you know. Thanks so much again for taking the time to write and most importantly I am glad you had fun.

Best wishes.

John

Gail Laveroni asked:
John,

There is something for every phase of a lifetime with Carnival. I first started cruising with Carnival in my twenties in 1986. I was single and cruised (what I considered) often with my girlfriends. We stayed up late and had some of those moments that become a little blurry in hindsight…….especially when we had the pictures developed. (“Who is that I am standing with???”) Ahh, those were indeed good times. When I was first married I wanted to share some of those good times with my new husband so we went on the Carnival Sensation together. John, it was a totally different experience. It was like we were in a parallel universe. Being on the ship ‘coupled’ was great in and of itself but it seemed like we never saw the single. Granted we were enjoying our balcony 😉 When we had a child I waited until she was old enough for Camp Carnival to consider sailing again. Then we discovered she has a peanut allergy and I was just too nervous so we waited until she was 10. Last March we sailed the Carnival Freedom and she had a blast. Now I didn’t see the singles or the couples…just the families. Carnival has been a great part of my life for many years. My ninth cruise is coming up November 19 on the Carnival Dream to celebrate my fiftieth birthday. I can’t wait to see who is missing from this one! Thanks to Carnival for making it fun. You guys are awesome.

John says:
Hello Gail Laveroni,

A great post indeed Gail. You know, Carnival really does have something for everyone and you are right, we have certainly changed and in the 25 years I have been here I have seen the demographics change a lot from singles and couples in the 80’s and early 90’s to us shrugging off the old party boat image and therefore attracting the families and the older couples as well as continuing to see singles and younger people sailing as well. I am so glad that you are still part of the Carnival family and obviously I have missed your cruise on the Carnival Dream so I will say that I hope you had a brilliant time and hope that we see you soon. Thanks again for the beautiful post.

Best wishes to all the family.

John

Sam and Beverley Chater asked:
John,

I read so many negative comments about you that I had to come and discover what all the fuss was about. Your name is constantly being written on _______ and having seen what you do myself I have to tell you that my DW and I are hooked. We are not Carnival cruisers and I am sorry to say that we love Princess and Celebrity but every cruise line should have a John Heald because the information you provide and the fun you have in doing is invaluable and I bet other cruise lines wish they had one of you. On a personal note I see you are British as is my DW. We met when I was serving with the USAF in Lakenheath in the 1960’s and I have always considered myself as an honorary Brit.

Thank you John and you have two fans in Beverley and me.

John says:
Hello Sam and Beverley Chater,

I am glowing after reading this and thank you so so much for those very kind words. Please don’t apologise about being fans of Princess and Celebrity, OK, maybe apologise a little bit about the Celebrity bit. Seriously, though, I am honoured (spelt correctly) that you read the blog. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and I know that people who don’t like it do enjoy expressing this on other websites and as I was saying earlier, that’s their opinion and I respect it. I do though try hard to provide a mixture of fun and information and I am so glad that you both enjoy it. I hope one day you will come and cruise with me so I can meet a nearly fellow Brit in you and a true Brit in your darling wife Beverley.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Mark Smith asked:

Carnival Legend Cruise 10-16/10-23. I wanted to pass along my impression of the Carnival Legend and her crew since I did not get a comment card. I am sure some on the other site will be blaming Carnival for the less than perfect weather we had ha ha, but it was not that bad, actually the overcast days made for perfect weather in my opinion. The rough seas were just part of it and helped to make the cruise memorable. As for the Carnival Legend, she is a wonderful ship and has easily become our favorite ship to date. Just beautiful. Our cabin steward was Oka and was just a pleasure to meet and did a fantastic job for us. His towel building skills are the best I have seen as well. Our wait staff was exceptional as well, Kaymen and Benito, great job and very entertaining. (especially Benito’s singing). I believe the asst. maitre’d, (not sure of title or name but think it may have been Miguel) was terrific, he was always walking the dining room and talking/checking with us. He was on his first contract with Carnival and did an exceptional job. As did the gentleman that was obviously in charge of the lido staff/area, I don’t think he ever took a break as we always saw him walking the area checking on all areas. We saw him request several things be corrected to his expectations as did Miguel.

Dee, the entertainment/comedy manager was excellent at her job and making sure everyone emptied the lounges and did not break line while entering; numerous times we witnessed her addressing people trying to sneak around lines etc. Meagan (asst. cruise director) was outstanding as well, such a friendly, willing to help person. Wee Jimmy, what can I say, he is excellent, the best CD we have had in our five cruises by far! He seems to have the knack of knowing just how much information he needs to pass along and when, without being excessive. He is always visible and talking with guests, just like he is one. We just loved Wee Jimmy, and the entire staff is a reflection of his leadership skills. The food was exceptional in both the dining and lido areas, and after meeting Chef Panda it is easy to understand why, he is great. The one area in past cruises that we have noticed is officers would not speak to guests even when spoken to, so it was a pleasant surprise to find that on the Carnival Legend officers would almost go out of their way to greet you!

The captain was very engaging during our Behind the Fun tour as well, even though he obviously was having a very difficult week with the weather issues and rough seas. What an excellent team this ship has and Carnival should be extremely proud! We made sure to thank each of these individuals personally and they seemed very appreciative to hear that. I apologize for the lengthy message, I could go on, but won’t. Just please know that Wee Jimmy and his staff/crew are EXCEPTIONAL and just great ambassadors for the Carnival brand. Thank you again to this great crew!

Mark Smith

John says:
Hello Mark Smith,

I am sure that a few Hugos and Camelstowes will think I am picking on you know what site in today’s Q&A but I really am not, this is just the way the questions are falling today. Anyway, the most important thing is that you had a brilliant time and I will be sending this to the ship and the supervisors because it’s a brilliant example of all that’s good in Carnival. I am sorry the weather was less than pleasant but I see you turned that into a positive. And talking of positives I see that you mentioned how the officers spoke to you and were polite and that’s important. Friendliness starts at the top and if the senior officers set the example the crew will follow for sure. I will make sure Wee Jimmy and his staff as well as everyone else you mentioned sees this great review and I thank you so very much for taking the time to write it.

Best wishes.

John

Cheryl Swartz asked:

My daughter and I are going on the Carnival Fascination for some special time together. She is a single mom and deserves special attention for raising her three kids on her own. Is there anything you can do for her? Maybe dinner with the captain or an upgrade? Our booking ref is ****** and cabin number is M77.

John says:
Hello Cheryl Awartz,

I see from your booking number that you are sailing next week so I am glad I saw this in time. While I cannot organise dinner with the captain or an upgrade I can send your daughter something to say welcome aboard and I wish you both a brilliant time together.

Best wishes.

John

Charles F asked:

Please can you tell the beards that Ken Byrne the singing maitre d is simply the best in the business and this coming from someone who has been on 51 cruises including three world cruises with Holland America and Cunard. While the Magic’s trans-Atlantic experience had some serious flaws the service in the dining room and the entertainment, humor and hospitality provided by Ken and his staff was the best we have ever received.

Thank you.

John says:
Hello Charles F,

I am sorry to read that there were some “flaws” but thrilled to see that you enjoyed Ken and the dining room team so very much. Ken is indeed one of a kind and your compliment will be read by Ken and his supervisors and coming from a man with the cruise experience you have will mean so much to them all. Thank you and if you would like me to address your experiences on the Carnival Magic I am here ready and willing to do so.

Best wishes.

John

Sandy H. asked:
Good evening, John!!

My hubby and I just spent a fabulous week aboard our Carnival Splendor with my brother and sister-in-law. I had written before we left, requesting a table in the main dining room close to the action. Whether or not you had anything to do with it does not matter. (If you did, THANK YOU.) The table, 411, was perfect!!! We were blessed with a wonderful team waiter “Stan” and assistants Deanna, and Leoval who remembered us from our cruise on the Carnival Legend in April 2010. Then, to top it all off, we had the pleasure of spending many memorable moments with our Maitre ‘d Dessi. She made each one of us feel special, and even called my brother to check on him when he didn’t make it to dinner one night. Whoever hired her deserves a night with a Latvian for making such a brilliant decision! On behalf of those who haven’t said it, THANK YOU!!! (And we thank you, too.)

Best regards,

Sandy

John says:
Hello Sandy,

It was me, I deserve the night with the Latvian! Seriously, I did indeed arrange the table as you requested and I am so glad you had fun on the Carnival Splendor. The comment above yours was praise for Ken the maitre d and here we have praise for another true star of Carnival Cruise Lines, Dessi who I know will be thrilled to see this. I am so glad you had a wonderful time and I am here ready to help you the next time you book a Carnival cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Nicolette De Luca asked:

What do I have to do to get a job with Carnival? I have written to _______ three times and have not even had a single response which I find very unprofessional. I graduated from NJCU and really want to be part of the entertainment staff and then a cruise director. I have had responses from all the other cruise lines but nothing from Carnival. What do I have to do to get in?

John says:
Hello Nicolette De Luca,

Many congratulations on your graduation and may I point you in the direction of www.carnivalentertainment.com. This will tell you all about the jobs you mentioned and how to apply. Good luck.

Best wishes.

John

And on that note we will finish today’s Q and A…..I wonder why she didn’t get a response ………. mmmmmmmm?

Right, let’s talk about the Carnival Breeze which is of course just five months or so from being delivered. I have no idea who the godmother is and it will be exciting to see who Carnival chooses. Will they go with a star name or as we did on the Carnival Magic go with someone who has given to the community as in the Lindsey Wilkerson of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital? One thing I can tell you is who the captain is going to be and the man with the responsibility of being the Master of our flag ship is…..Captain Vincenzo Alcaras and here he is.

I am thrilled to be working with Captain Alcatraz……..bugger……..I mean Alcaras again. We had so much fun when he was staff captain when we delivered Carnival Legend and together again on the Carnival Splendor and I wish him many congratulations on being chosen for this auspicious position and I will have a full interview with him very soon.

Let’s see who else is going as here is the senior officer team for the Carnival Breeze:

Captain: Vincenzo Alcaras
Chief Engineer: Antonio Colotti
Hotel Director: Pierre Camilleri
Staff Captain: Stefano Battinelli
Staff Chief Engineer: Fabien Gervaise
Guest Services Manager: Ana Maria Dumitru
Housekeeping Manager: Niksa Pelic
Food & Beverage Manager: Narsing Jindam
Human Resources Director: Jovencio Frazao

And again, well done to these outstanding individuals who are considered by the beards to be the best in their position and I look forward to working with them all, except Ana, the guest services manager who threw me out of her office on the Carnival Magic because I farted. She has never forgiven me.

I have been spending a lot of time with my parents. I don’t speak much about them here apart from mentioning my ability to clear a room with my bottom comes from my father. Dad is 76 and Mum is 70. Dad has type 2 diabetes like his father and like me although my father is slim and has never been overweight. Dad also has other medical concerns but is (touch wood) fighting fit. Mum is a trooper. She has bad knees but her sense of humour and ability to laugh away problems and pain is something that I find truly amazing. But they are getting older and I find myself wanting to look after them more and more these days.

Growing old is something we all have to look forward to hopefully and I watched the news yesterday that said that in ten years time the average life expectancy for people living in the western world will be 98 years. That’s all well and good but I am worried because what actually happens when your teeth fall out and you keep putting the cat in the microwave? Seriously, who’s going to look after you when you can no longer look after yourself? Hopefully your children will face up to their responsibilities and ship you into a spare room. But in 10 years time your children will be working every hour God sends and be driving their electric cars to work and using their EyePhone 29 which will be implanted into their wrists. They will not have time to mop up your pee and, anyway, to pay the bills they will probably tell you they’ve already rented the spare room out to someone, which is son-in-law code for “We’re not having that farting old bastard cluttering up the house all day and watching Judge Judy.”

I have always said that my Mum and Dad will never go in a home and God willing they never will have to because Heidi and I and my sister will always look after them. But even if I wanted to put them in a home and I wanted a decent one for them I probably couldn’t afford it. A relative of mine, whose husband is 90-something, recently checked into a home in and the bill is 1,000 pounds a week! Bugger me that’s $1,500 a week. And for that there are no sexy Latvian nurses ready to give him a bed bath every night it’s just a room, with a bed and some ordinary food and some bad television.

Let’s think about that. Every dollar you’ve ever saved will not go to the government or your children. In reality, it will go to the owner of the old people’s home where you end up living. And all you can do, all day long, if you still have enough marbles, is hope and pray that you dwindle to nothingness before your savings. I find that bloody frightening. $1,500 a week, you can get a cruise for that….hold on……I think I may have come up with a solution. Where you can have a room, delicious food and fun entertainment and activities all day and all night – a Carnival cruise! There’s no doubt that the ship would run smoothly, but there’s more to it than that. Instead of being surrounded by a bunch of incontinent strangers guests would be enjoying the late autumn of their lives with people who love cruising. I bet it wouldn’t cost $1,500 a week and we would still make revenue from bingo!

But what to call the ship?……. mmmmm………..the Carnival Constipation, the ship that never moves……….. nope …………..oh hold on……….we already have the perfect name for our ship ……… the Carnival Paradise. Because if your parents are like mine, then for all the love and care they have given me…. then Paradise is the least they deserve.

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.