TROLLS AND APOLOGIES

January 5, 2012 -

John Heald

Normally I start a blog with some whimsical nonsense about my bottom or something similar but not today. I hate to have to sit here in my underpants and write this but I have to explain something. You see over the last few months the beards and I have had to start checking each question I answer to make sure that comments and questions are indeed written by the person they say they are. Bugger, I didn’t explain that very well, did I?

What I mean is that we check to see if Mrs. Smith who is sailing on the Carnival Dream and is asking for her daughter to get a free Rolex because it’s her birthday is indeed sailing and is indeed a real person. And when we check we discover that most are real and that maybe one or two are not. Worse than that, though, are the people who are posting comments who obviously have one agenda in mind, to cause trouble. I guess there has always been a dark side to the internet. And for all the fun sites and on- line shopping and a chance to look at Latvian women in suspenders, it also provides instant access to those with intent to shock or to provoke.

I have learned in the past few months that you call such individuals “trolls” and these are known for posting malicious messages in online discussion forums and blogs, usually anonymously, with the prime motive of upsetting other readers. And as the blog heads towards 13 million views and Facebook already at 21,000 like thingies I have seen a large increase in the number of trolls on our social media sites

Funny isn’t it, when I was at school, a “troll” was a Norwegian mythological monster that usually lives under a bridge. Sadly, the beasts on the internet are human and all too real. Many trolls I think are simply internet bullies and I am having to be more and more careful what I post. Two of the questions I ignored today were regarding a man who claimed he saw a crewmember steal his wallet and another that calls the nice people who read my blog and Facebook pages all sorts of names and accuses me of having a hidden agenda to take as much traffic away from another cruise site. What do these two questions have in common? Well, both are posted with screen names rather than real names. I would have taken the comment that alleged a crew member had stolen a wallet seriously but if that was a real accusation surely the author would have told me his real name rather than write to me under the handle of Parrotthead121. There are many legitimate reasons for hiding one’s identity online.

Your political or views, for example, may not always find favour with your employers of course but most of the time a screen name is used because the writer doesn’t want people to know who they are and that anonymity gives them a Superman/Superwoman-style strength.

Some months ago someone whose name I won’t mention here wrote a rather nasty comment about my daughter. This totally useless, sick, waste of oxygen is still sending in nasty comments which, of course, we don’t post. That’s easy. We ignore it and treat it with the contempt it deserves but I guess what I am saying is it’s getting harder to spot the comments that are penned by trolls and myself and the beards will continue to try to weed them out.

Now don’t get me wrong, I will never stop posting the criticisms of Carnival or myself but as the blog and Facebook continue to grow we will continue to work hard to give the trolls bugger all air time.

I am thick skinned now and I have had to be but occasionally it gets to you, doesn’t it? In cyberspace ………..nobody cares if they make you scream.

So on that note, let’s press on with today’s Q and A shall we?

Julie Hussey asked:
Hi John,

I really enjoy reading your blog, keep up the entertaining work! I’m not sure if this question is something you can help with, but, I’m wondering if it’s possible to sign up for the “Behind the Fun” tour, prior to sailing. My DH and I are sailing April 1 on Carnival Magic, for our dual birthdays, and 13th (eek) anniversary, and I would like to surprise my husband with the tour as it’s something he has wanted to do on past cruises but never has, and what better ship to see behind the scenes then the Carnival Magic?! Thank you for your time!

Happy Cruising,

Julie

John says:
Hello Julie Hussey,

Thanks so very much for the kind words about the blog and I am glad you are enjoying it. I am afraid we don’t have pre-cruise sign up for the brilliant Behind the Fun tour but please don’t worry. May I suggest that as soon as you board the ship, sneak away from your husband to the deck 3 lobby shore excursion desk and speak to the shore excursion manager? The tour will be sold out by mid-cruise but buying on embarkation day virtually assures you of a place. I hope you decide to go as it really is a super look behind the crew only door. Please let me know if there is anything else you need.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Steve Krafthefer asked:
Hi John,

First, I have to say I don’t read your blog very often (for no apparent reason), but my wife is absolutely ADDICTED to it. She loves following you (not literally anyway, that’s hard to do from Portland). Anyway, our 14th Carnival cruise will be in December. We’ve had a different cruise director on each one trip except Cory Schmidt happened to be the CD on two of them. We really enjoyed his work and wondered if he’s still a CD with you and if so, what ship is he on these days? Thank you for all your work! The entertainment is one of the big reasons we keep coming back!

John says:
Hello Steve Krafthefer,

I am sitting here, in my underpants, trying to pronounce your name…….not Steve……..I mean your surname. Anyway, I am glad you enjoy the blog now and then and thanks for asking about my old friend Corey. His performing bird show was fantastic and he was indeed a great CD. Corey left some years ago and is currently a movie location manager having recently worked on an Adam Sandler movie. I hope we get to sail together very soon and please thank your wife for all her support.

Best wishes.

John

Diane W asked:

I have been thinking hard about what cruise to take for our 2012 winter vacation. The choices were Carnival or NCL. I have been asking lots of questions on a website that won’t be named and have listened to cruise experts and NCL fans Tom and Cheryl and they painted a wonderful picture about NCL and they and others were really pushing us to book NCL and not Carnival. It was though the price that made us come to Carnival, our first time doing so after five cruises with Royal Caribbean and two with Celebrity. We will be cruising on the Carnival Breeze from Miami and I would ask that you assure me that we have made the right choice. We booked a suite (cabin number _____). Can you tell me something about the suite we have booked? Thank you.

John says:
Hello Diane W,

There is no doubt that NCL have really turned things around and kudos to their senior managers for doing so as they were in a deep financial hole a few years ago. I am though extremely happy that you have decided to book our Carnival Breeze and I see from your booking number that you have booked a beautiful deck 7 suite. I will be heading to the shipyard soon and will be posting photos of all the cabin classes as this ship will have brand new interior designers and the Carnival Breeze will look completely different to any other Carnival ship with regard to the cabin colours and furniture. So did you do the right thing? Well, obviously I am going to say yes of course you did, but I will also say that I promise that I will do all I can to make sure that you have a brilliant time and will be telling much more about the ship you have chosen to sail on both here on my blog and on my Facebook page. Please let me know if you have any questions and thank you for choosing Carnival.

Best wishes.

John

Mark Millere asked:
Good Morning John,

I just wanted to let you know that our B2B cruises on the Carnival Freedom were fantastic.

Our sixth cruise, 10-16-11, all with Carnival (fifth cruise review was posted on Facebook 10-29)

We were able to get the same room and same table for the second half, WOW that is nice to be able to do. Our room steward Isaac, (cabin 6287) again was the best of our 6 cruises so far. Very friendly, always smiling and took care of everything ASAP. Again, he picked up our breakfast room service order during turndown. Our dining staff waiter (Posh dining room, table 345, late seating) – Carla from the Philippines (Nop went on vacation) Asst – Alexis from Panama & asst – Indra from Indonesia. Again, all were outstanding — fast and friendly. New waiter, same asst’s, they worked great together. Carla called me Mr. Mark or Mr. P 🙂 since Milissa introduced me as a “pain.” They always called us by name as did other members of the staff we interacted with regularly. Thank you to Jacques De Lange and Carnival for the champagne and fruit basket gift for doing a B2B. Due to TS Bastard, our itinerary changed. Originally it was Key West, Grand Cayman & Ocho Rios which turned into Key West, Montego Bay, Key West. We actually anchored in Grand Cayman, but after three hours of trying to tender, the seas were too rough, so we booked it hitting 22 knots to get to Key West.

The not so good — We had to go thru immigration before going ashore in Key West the second time. Long lines of course and it took awhile since they did it in the Victoriana Lounge. No big deal, but as you can imagine, some were not happy. We were just happy getting a 3rd stop instead of just missing it.

The good – It was absolutely perfect in Key West the second time, this made up for It raining all day the first time in Key West, When we got back to Fort Lauderdale – no immigration, just customs, debarkation was smoother and quicker. Thank you again for the gifts and another great cruise. Best wishes for you and your family.

John says:
Hello Mark Millere,

Let’s start with the not so good. Apologies for having to go through the immigration process twice but that’s really out of our control as that is determined by the U.S. government. I know through Jacques the CD that some guests really lost their tempers with ship staff even though they were following orders. Debarkation was quicker in Fort Lauderdale which is a good thing. However, let’s concentrate on the good and there is lots of that Mark and I thank you for taking the time to write it. I will make sure that the ship sees this and they will be thrilled. Carnival Freedom continues to hover around the number one spot in the fleet and you have proven just why that is.

Thanks so very much and I hope we see you again on board soon.

Best wishes to all.

John

Sharon Novoa asked:
John,

Why is it that you feel the need to use bad language and sexual innuendos here? I feel that you would get far more readership if you refrained from doing so. I love Carnival but have to force myself to come to this page to get information because I know that the things you write will upset me. We just returned back from cruise number four this time on the Carnival Elation and had a wonderful time. We did not receive a comment card so would like to express my admiration for our waiter Carl from Jamaica who was so entertaining and our cabin boy Igor from Croatia who was the best we have had so far.

These crew need to be recognized. John, please try and remember what I said. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Thank you,

Sharon Novoa

John says:
Hello Sharon Novoa,

Thanks for mentioning those crew members that really made a difference to your cruise and I will gladly make sure the right people get to see your comments. I know that my humour is not for everyone and I apologise if anything I have said or will say offends you. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you.

Best wishes.

John

Lea J asked:

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you very much for the champagne and ship on a stick you had sent to our cabin. We loved it!! Sad to say, we just got off the Carnival Pride today (Oct 23 sailing). We had such a wonderful time! The weather was unbelievably warm and as always the food and service was top notch. I am really bad with names, but I would like to mention four people who stood out for us. Trevor was our CD and we really enjoyed him. He was funny and informative without sounding loud and intrusive. He came across as someone who genuinely enjoys his job. Second was our room steward, Greg. That’s not his whole name, but it’s what we called him (cabin #5228). Very pleasant young man! He did an exceptional job with our room, which was a bit of a challenge with three adults and all of our stuff everywhere. Third was the maitre’ d Manuel (think that was it). He was very pleasant and in six cruises was the very first maitre’ d to stop by our table to welcome us and talk with us. Not normally something we really gave much thought to, but it was very pleasant. Last, but certainly not least, was one of the YTD head waiters, Rey. He was the first waiter ever to great us by name and welcomed us. He also recited the evening’s menu, and made recommendations to us. He was obviously very busy, but took the time to stop by several times to check on us and chat a few minutes. We wished we had come across him at the beginning of the cruise because we would have requested him every night. Rey is a wonderful asset to Carnival! We took my sister-in-law with us on this cruise. Her last cruise was on one of Carnival’s first ships many years ago. She is now asking if she can come with us on another one. Carnival has successfully hooked another one!!

Thank you again, John!

John says:
Hello Lea J,

Thanks so much for another great review. I know Baltimore is very proud to have the Carnival Pride home port there and we are very proud to be there and it seems the crew is doing a wonderful job. I know that not everybody gets comment cards so I am always pleased when guests take the time to post reviews here and I have the chance to forward them to the people mentioned and their supervisors. I am so glad your sister in law had fun and I sincerely hope we will see you all again very soon.

Best wishes to you all.

John

Anthony Pozzo asked:

Question – who in your opinion is the best cruise director in the business? I ask this because my wife and I were just on another cruise line and the cruise director there was simply dreadful yet his reputation based on the reviews I read was that he was the best in the cruise ship industry. His name is_________ and he works for _______. He was not funny and we never saw him and when we did he acted like he couldn’t be bothered to speak to us and had no stage presence at all. One of the people we were traveling with is in the entertainment business and agreed that he was terrible. One other question, when will NY get a new ship as we don’t want Carnival Miracle – we want a new ship. This is New York, we never accept second best!!!

Cheerio mate.

John says:
Hello Anthony Pozzo,

Let’s start with your second question about the Carnival Miracle. She is hardly an old ship and I know many New Yorkers were very excited to have her there year-round. I promise if you take a cruise on her you will have a brilliant time. As you can see I deleted the name of the CD you mentioned as he doesn’t work for Carnival and because I don’t know him or his work so I didn’t feel it was right to post his name. So who is my favourite CD? Well the answer is every one of the Carnival CDs, they are the best in the business. I also have to say that I personally find Graham Seymor and Richard Spacey of RCI very, very funny and I am sure each cruise line has a star CD who I haven’t seen. The best CD Carnival has ever had…..well that’s easy. His name is Gary Hunter who now works for Crystal Cruises. Nobody will ever be as good as he was and probably still is.

Thanks for the question.

Best wishes.

John

Nick Mateusz asked:

There has been so much hype made about Guy’s burgers yet Cahill the Cutter continues to try and hide behind a slab of meat as he takes more and more away from the product and while you continue to cheerlead thousands of your passengers are leaving for other cruise lines or all inclusive resorts.

John says:
Hello Nick Mateusz,

I have a question for you Nick, mate. How do you know “thousands of your passengers are leaving for other cruise lines or all inclusive resorts?” Of course you don’t because Carnival carried more than 4 million passengers last year – the most in cruising and the most in our company’s history. Have you ever tried a Guy’s burger? My guess is no you haven’t. I considered not posting this and adding you to my new troll file as I discussed at the start of the blog but I didn’t. That’s because your question gives me the chance to say that bookings for 2012 are massively strong and that more and more people are coming to Carnival because quite simply the value for money and the fun they have for the price is unbeatable. Oh and the burgers are bloody marvelous, as well.

Best wishes.

John

Ellie Watson asked:

Booking for Carnival Splendor******

Hi John,

please can you arrange a table for four pretty please with sugar on the top for me, my husband and our two adopted children. Both have special needs and are a bit of a handful and we don’t want to disturb other passengers while they are trying to eat. We board the Carnival Splendor on 2/26/12 and I know that’s next year but I wanted to give you plenty of time to help us if you can. Thank you so much.

John says:
Hello Ellie Watson,

It would be a pleasure and I am going to ask you for a favour in return. As we are sometime away and because I don’t want the ship to forget please can you post this again on February 15. Please mark it “Urgent, Time Sensitive” and the beards will make sure I see it. You should be applauded for taking two children into your home and I am sure you are giving them a wonderful life and I will do all I can to make their cruise a brilliant one.

Best wishes to you all.

John

Mason asked:
Hi John,

I’m writing this question to you all the way from Australia. First of all, I would like to say how much I love reading your blog and watching your videos. I have been on five cruises in my life, three with P&O UK and two with P&O Australia. As you are aware, both of these companies are owned by Carnival Corp. A couple of weeks ago, I booked our first cruise on an actual Carnival Cruise Lines ship – Carnival Spirit and my partner and I are both very excited. We’re doing the cruise from Hawaii to Sydney in September/October next year. My question is in reference to past passenger numbers. I know with P&O Australia, any cruises you’ve done on P&O UK and Princess Cruises count toward your total “sea days” and are counted under your Unique Reference Number (the equivalent to the Past Passenger Number). I was just wondering whether Carnival Cruise Lines counts the cruises I’ve already done (on other Carnival companies) under my Past Passenger Number (I hope I’ve explained that correctly)? Thanks again for the great blog! 🙂

John says:
Hello Mason,

I see you have booked a Carnival cruise on the beautiful Carnival Spirit and we are very excited that we are heading down under and it seems from just how many of your fellow Australians are booking the ship that they are excited as well. Unfortunately those great cruises you took on P&O Australia won’t count on Carnival’s loyalty program I am afraid. The two programs are vastly different and interchanging them is not possible. I know that is not the news you wanted to hear and I apologise for that. However I do promise that the Carnival Spirit will bring a whole new level of fun to Australia and I hope to come down and experience it myself one day. Have a bonza time mate.

Best wishes.

John

K Hagan asked

On previous cruises with Carnival we have always been allowed to partake in self assist debarkation. We booked our return flight on our Oct 23 cruise on the Carnival Legend assuming we would be allowed to participate in self assist. The night before we received instruction via debarkation info that only US Citizens could participate in self disembarkation. I spoke with Tatyana at guest services and she advised me to get permission from the immigration officer and that would allow us to disembark once the ship had cleared. However when I explained to the officer he said it was not the immigration services rule and as far as he was concerned we could debark following clearance of the ship and take off our own luggage (two small carry-ons). I overheard a member of the staff saying to a passenger that he could not participate in self disembarkation despite the man’s wife being a US citizen and he stated it is for “National Security.” We made our way to the gangway as Tatyana told us to do so as she was helping with immigration clearance. When we arrived at the line we were told very rudely we would have to wait until all U S citizens debarked and it was a national security law!! I explained that we had permission from Tatyana and she came down to the line and allowed us to disembark. Needless to say had we known about this rule we would have booked a later flight and I am now concerned if we book another Carnival cruise will we be subject to this same situation. Why are only US citizens given the opportunity to use self assist? Does it depend on the port? How can I check which ships do this? Apart from the upset this caused for my family and I we enjoyed our cruise.

Cheers.

Kathy H

John says:
Hello Kathy Hagan,

It seems that there was some confusion here and I am not sure what ship you were sailing on but I will try and explain. Self assist is normally available for all guests, regardless of where they are from. Certainly on the ships I have been on recently it was not a problem. However, U.S. Customs & Border Protection will occasionally alter these plans from time to time, without prior warning and I think that’s what’s happened here. I remember a similar incident when I was CD of the Carnival Freedom in Port Everglades. I had announced the previous day that self assist was available to everyone and yet that morning I was told just moments before we started the debarkation process that USCBP would not allow anyone but US citizens this privilege. I will investigate this for you and sincerely apologise that this happened but I will also say that this was probably how it went down and although we could have communicated this better with you ultimately it is the choice of USCBP and we have to adhere to what they say at all times. I do hope you had a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today. Thanks for all your comments and questions this week.

I do want to mention something I have already posted here on Facebook earlier today. I had hinted that we would have an exciting announcement today and of course now we don’t because the beards are making a few changes. Now please, please don’t blame them. It’s my fault, 100% my fault. Now I know I am going to get a massive bollocking on other websites from people with screen names like UgoSeaIdidanumber2, Halitosis and Camelstowe and you know what, they have every right to do so. I mentioned in the blog on Monday that I won’t mention dates unless it’s 100% certain or not mention dates at all and just tell you as soon as I have it confirmed and I apologise to everyone who is disappointed that there is no news today. I so wanted to tell you about this new alas, my excitement was premature as although the news remains absolutely brilliant, it’s not ready for release just yet. So please, blame me and I apologise to those who I have let down.

Here as promised is the current piano bar schedule and the sign off dates of our brilliant performers:

Carnival Spirit Keith Turner 01/06/12
Carnival Miracle Peter Brenner 01/13/12
Carnival Freedom Marty Gast 01/14/12
Carnival Splendor Jim Morris 01/15/12
Carnival Legend Pollyanna Jones 01/15/12
Carnival Victory Jerry Selix 01/22/12
Carnival Sensation Barry Miller 01/26/12
Carnival Valor Doug Ross 02/18/12
Carnival Destiny Robert Crucilla 02/20/12
Carnival Triumph Lorraine Ingle 02/23/12
Carnival Liberty Robert Berhalter 02/25/12
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
Carnival Imagination Dana Honey 04/02/12
Carnival Fantasy Jordan Heppner 05/04/12
Carnival Elation Tom Grable 05/05/12
Carnival Magic Jerone Howard 06/03/12
Carnival Inspiration Seth Gibson 06/04/12
Carnival Paradise Del Woodman 06/11/12
Carnival Pride Roger Concepcion 06/27/12

As always I thank all of the above for their entertainment and a special thank you to Laura AKA Divetrash for looking after them and representing them when need be. The piano bar is very much in focus with the beards as you will see soon and continues to be one of our most important venues.

I want to answer something that keeps cropping up here and on Facebook as it appears that someone has started a rumour that we are selling the Carnival Fantasy and leaving Charleston. This is simply not true. We love Charleston and the Carnival Fantasy is a huge hit as bookings are excellent as are the reviews. She will always be a special ship for me as well.

You know, I will never forget the first time I saw her. I was driving with the CD I mentioned in today’s Q and A Gary Hunter, from his house in Gainesville. I remember feeling sick the whole journey because the night before we had eaten something called chitterlings for dinner.

Gary’s Mum had cooked it and I thought it tasted like a rat’s anus. However, being a polite 24-year-old from good stock, I smiled and cleared my plate. And afterwards oh how they all laughed when they told me that I had eaten a pig bollocks.

Anyway, we were heading to the ship. Back then the CD and staff did not join the vessel in Italy as we do now. That’s because back then the ship would remain pierside in Miami for two weeks or so giving us time to prepare everything. As we came of the I-95 exit to the port we saw the huge smokestack and I remember we both gave a big “wow” as we saw the ship that would start what was arguably the most successful class of cruise ships in the world. I had two very happy years there as social host and then eventually cruise director.

I first conceived my bedtime story on the Carnival Fantasy. I first performed my marriage show on the Carnival Fantasy. I had my first proper shipboard romance on the Carnival Fantasy only to discover the orchestra drummer wasn’t only banging his drums but my girlfriend, as well. That aside, I love the ship and so do many of you and she is going nowhere.

It looks like I’ve upset a couple of folks with my comments about care homes in yesterday’s blog. I certainly meant no offence – and bear in mind that it was all in jest talking about Carnival’s ships being used for retirement. I have a great deal of respect for those who care for the elderly and I know if Kye puts me in a home I hope it’s a place where the staff respect that I am still a functioning being with a sense of humour and where my evening cup of cocoa is served by a Latvian nurse……… in a thong.

I understand that everybody dreads ending their days in a care home wearing someone else’s false teeth and in my blog yesterday I was jokingly trying to suggest that one of our ships could be an alternative. Who wouldn’t swap a day of waiting for Judge Judy to come on the TV for a care home cruise ship where the views are one of the sea and beautiful ports of call and where you can mix your medication with a Fun Ship Special? It would save your grown up kids having to feel forced into visiting you once a week to hear you answer that, yes, it was chicken again for lunch and, no, you don’t want any more Werther’s Originals.

Me, well personally I would rather bugger off to see Saint Peter on a “Fun Ship” cruise than be in a care home wearing a stranger’s underpants. On that note it’s time to say goodnight.

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.