THAT’S THE SPIRIT…..AND THE BREEZE IN 5D

January 9, 2012 -

John Heald

There are two things that have made me mad this past weekend. The first is how complicated washing your hands in a restaurant or hotel or ship is. Yes I know its public health and yes I know people who have just wiped away the remains of last night’s beef stew from their bottoms touch the faucet straight after, but I am sick of having to do three hours of Tai-Chi under the sodding faucet just to get the water to come on. The second thing that has been rolling my eyes is the word “detox.”

It’s the start of the New Year and that means celebrities and the rich and tanned journey to places like St. Barts, St. Kitts and St. Martin to detox the excesses of the holiday season. Detox my arse! Look, I know I am as thick as the Chinese phone book but I do remember a few things from Mr. Reynold’s biology class at school. I remember he would throw the chalkboard duster at people who weren’t paying attention and that he had breath straight from Satan’s armpit. And I also remember him explaining to class 2B that the human body will detox on its own without the need for drinking elderberry juice and eating weeds for a week.

It’s not just the George Pitts and the Megan Jolies who are doing it but normal people as well. Here in the UK the magazines and TV is full of the stuff telling us that their miracle digestive body cleaners are the only thing that can save us. Too much turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie and festive vodka cheer? Try Doctor Ben Dover’s 48-hour detox pill. 100% natural and composed of grated yak testicles and hamster droppings it is guaranteed to cleanse your body, mind and soul. Only $190 for 12 pills.

I am fat and ugly, I know that and I am not so thick that I am not aware that eating a bowl of sunflower seeds is far more healthy than eating a huge bowl of nachos smothered in cheese and guacamole. But doesn’t your body excrete waste in exactly the same way out the same area whether you’re eating a salad or a bucket of KFC? Detoxing yourself just a fancy posh word for doing a number two? If that’s the case take a few laxative pills and that’s a huge saving of money there and the result is exactly the same in fact add a huge bowl of prunes for breakfast and that detox will happen even quicker.

Time for today’s Q and A……off we go.

Vince H asked:
John,

Why does Carnival do nothing for police officers? I have been a serving police officer for 18 years and have cruised two times in the last two years both with you guys. I learned that Carnival gives heavily discounted cruises for military personnel but nothing for police officers. We deserve it and Carnival doesn’t do anything. If military get it so should we!

John says:
Hello Vince H,

First of all I do respect so very much the wonderful work all police officers do and understand the stress and danger that comes with the uniform. You do bring up an interesting point and I have forwarded your comments to the appropriate folks here at Carnival. So thanks for the work you do and thank you for cruising with us. Please make sure you tell me the next time you cruise so I can send you something to say thank you.

Best wishes,

John

Bethany Westwood asked:
Dear John,

I will start by saying how awful Carnival’s iced tea is and you should be ashamed to sail from Charleston and serve it to us southerners. It may be OK for them damn Yankees but I was disgusted when I tried it on my first Carnival experience on the Carnival Fantasy last month. It was also difficult to understand the crew who didn’t speak English and I had to repeat myself over and over again to the folks in the dining room. The food was OK and the shows were good but the lack of English and the fact that the ship was sailing from the south but did nothing for southerners will stop me going on this boat again.

John says:
Hello Bethany Westwood,

I am sorry to read that you didn’t like the iced tea. I have to admit that to me tea should be hot and served in a mug not cold and in a glass with ice. However, I will pass this onto the chef as obviously you know what you are talking about being from the South. The crew does speak English and have to in fact according to US Coast Guard and Carnival’s own regulations so I was very surprised to read this but apologise none the same for you having to “repeat yourself over and over again” although this could have been the ice tea………sorry, stupid humour there. I will seriously let the ship know your thoughts. I also hope that when you look back at your cruise you will see that you enjoyed the food and the entertainment and that overall you had fun and that this will have you back with us again soon.

Best wishes

John

James and Sandy McBurney asked:
John,

If you award an employee of the year a trophy it should go to our waitress Martina from the Magic Trans-Atlantic cruise. My wife and me have been on 19 cruises and are Platinum with Carnival and Martin was the tops. Her smile and her friendliness and her patience in the face of two of the rudest passengers I have ever seen was something that made me very angry. They shouted at her, clicked their fingers and one night argued that the steak was badly cooked and threw it on the floor at her feet. I kid you not. They were at the table for two next to ours and had complaints every night. I was embarrassed and at the end of the cruise I told them how pitiful they were. Martina stayed professional throughout and for that she deserves my nomination for employee of the year.

John says:
Hello James and Sandy McBurney,

Thanks so much for taking the time to write. As you may know I visited the ship in Freeport during the trans-Atlantic and had heard about this couple from the maitre d and another guest as well. I won’t comment on them or their behavior but I will say that Martina, who I know very well, deserves so much for having to put up with behavior like that. It’s no surprise that she did though as I think it’s safe to say she is one of our star performers week in and week out. Thanks to you both though for taking the time to write and for those glowing words of praise that I promise both Martina and her supervisors will see. Thank you also for your loyalty and I hope we see you both again very soon.

Best wishes.

John

Dr. Deany Cheramie asked:

Just completed a cruise on the Carnival Ecstasy from Oct 22 to Oct 27. I found the experience a bit below the quality I usually receive on a Carnival cruise. The Serenity Deck was marvelous; it was wonderful not having to share a hot tub with kids and their floaties. The food on the Lido deck in the Panorama Bar and Grill was very good. I especially liked the pizza and the Rotisserie. However, there were issues with the air conditioning and HVAC systems. While my stateroom was mostly fine (we were port side forward Riviera deck), other guests shared that they had plumbing issues (flooding) and had to change staterooms. I also experienced issues with the team. The ceiling in the bathroom in my stateroom was covered in mold. I did tell housekeeping about it and it was cleaned immediately. My room steward Teo apologized profusely and said it was because his assistants were not doing their jobs. The plumbing issues continued throughout our trip. In the early mornings I would hear a “bubbling” sound from the bathroom then there would be a sewer smell in the bathroom throughout the morning. This issue was not resolved until our final sea day. Also, I found the quality of food in the dining room was a bit off. Presentation was definitely lacking — food would be shifted all over the plate. We had one rough night at sea fleeing in front of Hurricane Rina, but this occurred every night. Also, there did not seem to be enough servers. Our wait between courses seemed longer than usual. The wait staff always seemed rushed and did not interact with the guests very much or participate in the music and dancing with any enthusiasm. I am looking forward to having the Carnival Conquest back in New Orleans. Carnival Triumph and Carnival Conquest are two of my favorite ships, and I have always enjoyed my experiences on these ships.

John says:
Hello Dr. Cheramie,

You know yesterday I was accused by someone of being a “corporate puppet” and only posting the good stuff and what the beards tell me which of course is nonsense. I have always said right from the start of this blog that the day I am told what to write will be the day I stop. Anyway, with that in mind I read your post with so much disappointment as obviously we have some work to do here. I truly appreciate you telling me and I promise the beards will as well because not everything we do is perfect as this shows and its only through reports like this that we will stay at the top of the cruise industry tree. My apologies, Doctor, and I promise we will improve.
I do hope that overall you had fun though.

Best wishes.

John

Derek Vogel asked:
John,

My wife and I will be on cruise number five on 1/29/12. Joining us will be our daughter who has won a full scholarship to Stanford and therefore I think she deserves special recognition. Could the captain or cruise director bring her on stage and present her with a prize because it would be great. We read your blog everyday! Our cabin number is 6310 on the Carnival Victory.

John says:
Hello Derek Vogel,

I have to be honest and say I asked Uncle Google what Stanford was and it seems a very prestigious school indeed. I have asked Karl with a K the CD to mention her live on his morning show and I will also send her something as well. I am sure you must be very proud of her and I wish you all a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Carol asked:

John,

I will be sailing on the Carnival Pride from Baltimore at the end of January 2012. How can we find out who the entertainment will be during that time? Thank you so much for your time.

John says:
Hello Carol,

Here is the entertainment lineup for the last cruise of January on the Carnival Pride. I hope this is the cruise you are on. Have a brilliant time.

Best wishes and have a great time.

John

Sun, Jan, 01: Baltimore – Welcome Aboard Show – 9am-4:30pm
Mon, Jan, 02: at sea – Wonderful World – Donnell Keith Grey/Darren Sanders
Tue, Jan, 03: at sea – Max Winfrey – juggler – Donnell Keith Grey/Darren Sanders
Wed, Jan, 04: Canaveral – Jazzin’ – 7am-7pm
Thu, Jan, 05: Nassau – deck party – 11am-10pm
Fri, Jan, 06: Freeport – Vrooom – Eric Brouman/Jim Brick – 7am-2pm
Sat, Jan, 07: at sea – Carnival Legends – Eric Brouman/Jim Brick

Dave Wojtylko asked:
Hello John,

We’re big fans of the blog, and of Carnival. We just returned from the October 22 sailing of the Carnival Freedom, and since you seem to enjoy positive reviews I figured I’d drop you a note.

We booked this cruise in celebration of my 25th wedding anniversary. A few weeks prior to the cruise my wife was diagnosed with gallstones and had to have her gallbladder removed, and due to some complications she ended up hospitalized for a week. After she was released and we knew that she would be okay, we still feared that she might not be cleared to travel. On the Wednesday just prior to the cruise she received the “OK” from her doctor, but with strict guidelines on physical activity and diet. Our cruise quickly shifted from an adventurous excursion packed week to one of complete relaxation and recuperation.

I can say with complete honesty that there is absolutely nothing about which I can complain. In fact, quite the opposite. Each staff member with which we came in contact was friendly, responsive, polite, and professional. We tried the steakhouse for the first time, on our anniversary, and it is truly something not to be missed. The staff in both the steakhouse and the main dining room took great care with my wife’s dietary restrictions.

We truly enjoyed the Latin trio that played in the main lobby most nights before dinner. They are truly gifted musicians, and we actually found ourselves hating to leave the lobby to go to dinner.

I know there were quite a few folks that were disappointed by the itinerary change due to the hurricane, but for us it was all just part of the adventure. We knew that the decision was made with our safety in mind, so we just rolled with it and adjusted our plans. We ended up booking the Sea Winds all inclusive excursion in Jamaica and had a wonderfully relaxing day in the sun. In Grand Turk, my wife surprised me with the Ultimate Snorkeling excursion while she did some light shopping then enjoyed a nearly empty Serenity deck. The tour company that runs the Ultimate Snorkel excursion has a top notch operation. They were very safety minded yet still fun and engaging, and their equipment was in very good condition.

Long story short, John, this cruise was everything we expected and needed, and we’ll definitely be cruising with Carnival again. In fact, we’re booked on the January 21 sailing of the Liberty. All the best to you and thank you very much for all you do.

Best regards,

Dave

John says:
Hello David,

First of all may I take the chance to say that I hope your wife is doing well after her illness and then may I thank you for this brilliant review. Changes in itinerary are never easy and I thank you for accepting them in a positive way. I will make sure the ship sees this and I will tell you that the Carnival Freedom continues to lead the way in our fleet ratings and for reasons you have brilliantly explained in this post. I hope you have a brilliant time in two weeks on your next cruise and I am so grateful to you for this brilliant review. Please let me know if there is anything I can ever do for you.

Best wishes.

John

Peter Herne asked:
Hi John!

I just recently found your blog and wanted to pass on a comment from our last cruise on the Carnival Dream. We are platinum customers and on the Carnival Dream we sent in laundry with our cabin steward and my precious white shirt came back off white plus the creases in all the other laundered items were incorrectly done. I had even told our steward to iron them face down to prevent creases on collars and sleeves but he ignored me completely. I complained to passenger services and they offered to re-launder the clothes but they refused to give me the $110 for a ruined designer shirt. This may seem trivial to you Mr Heald but if you advertise a benefit then it should be done properly and I am telling you as a platinum customer it wasn’t.

John says:
Hello Peter Herne,

I am embarrassed to say that at 46 years old I have no idea how to iron something properly. When I lived at home my Mum did it all and then I came to the ships and my stateroom steward did it all and now Heidi my wife does it. My ironing skills are the same as Judge Judy’s pole dancing capabilities. I should point out that the state room steward doesn’t do the laundry. He will have taken it down to deck A forward to the laundry where a dedicated team will have cleaned and pressed your items. I sincerely apologise for this and and I have sent your comments about your shirt to our guest services team in Miami. I do hope you had a great cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Gene Brown asked:

Just a quick question, while on the Carnival Magic’s last 12-day cruise we were told by a VIP guests about the upcoming changes. We have been trying hard to reach 10 cruises and have our 7th booked in Feb. We didn’t understand the misleading info when we started cruising about sister companies and did one on Princess. Or the February cruise would have been eight for us. Any way back to what we were told was that after the first of the year it would take 150 days instead of 10 cruises to reach Platinum. Being so close to 10 and trying to do at least one cruise each year it will take us many years instead of us trying to get it by 2013. Unlike most of your requests I am not asking for everything on board to be reduced by 25% or to have chairs saved for every event or ask that my luggage be delivered to the room right after the captains like most people seem to think they are entitled to.

Just would like to be able to reach Platinum the way I started. Our Feb cruise will be our first that has not been at least seven days. I guess we could have booked a bunch of three days and made it sooner but we enjoy our seven-day cruises and feel that Platinum is just a little bonus for what we love and not something Carnival owes us. Thanks for your time. Sorry we missed you on the Carnival Magic, James was good but I wanted to see you in the purple dress! Just kidding.

John says:
Hello Gene Brown,

I am so sorry I could not be with you on the cruise although I hate that purple dress. I am hoping that you read this so I can tell you that when the new loyalty program does eventually come out that those who are close to one of the current two high levels of Platinum and Milestone will not be punished and will have their levels grandfathered in. I see from what you have told me that you will have nothing to be concerned about. Your loyalty is very important to us and I will hope to be able to tell you more about the program soon. Thanks for the kind words and hope to see you onboard one day soon.

Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today.

Well, as promised here is the first report from the Carnival Spirit which as you may know is currently in dry dock. This is a very important two weeks for the ship not only to get her ready for her last Alaska and Hawaii season but also of course to get her ready for her voyage to Australia. During the next 14 days we will have the chance to see what’s happening there thanks to Stuart Dunn who is of course the ship’s vibrant cruise director and will be in Australia as well. I will have a full interview with him soon but here now is his first report from dry dock:

San Pedro — January 6, 2012.

After the guests disembarked the many contactors hired to carry out projects onboard embarked and started to work on the ship down almost immediately.

They were wasting no time as the entire ship was being transformed into a construction zone so work could take place, while still protecting the existing areas so floors, light fixtures, lounges etc do not get damaged.

A large project being carried out is the replacement of all the 1,062 existing televisions with LCD flat screens TV’s. Time was limited to have them removed from the cabin, carted to the open deck 10 placed onto pallets and wrapped in plastic so the pallets can be craned off before the ship set sail. The entertainment technicians, myself as well as housekeeping and F&B team members were all heavily involved in this project.

As I walked around the ship there were tool boxes, shipping containers, cement and tiling materials, structural steel and so much more being craned onboard from down on the pier. After being onboard the Carnival Spirit for such a long time it is really interesting to see the ship transform from a cruise ship to a construction zone..

Oh, and I have yet to introduce myself and make friends with whoever has been hammering and jack hammering directly above my cabin for the last eight hours. This may happen later, much, much later………………..

Stu
Cruise Director, Carnival Spirit

I can’t wait to see photos of the ship out of the water. Carnival Spirit will also be getting state of the art new gym equipment and of course that includes running machines or treadmill thingies. We have one here at home and it’s used about as much as Stevie Wonder uses his Xbox. We bought it when Heidi was pregnant some three years ago as she said she wanted to stay fit while carrying Kye and I of course said I would use it too. Its main selling point was that it promises to get me fit in four minutes a day. Yes, four minutes. It beautiful machine, in an Aston Martin meets Star Trek kind of way. In the beginning I used it and so did Heidi but now it has become unused except for a brilliant place on which to hang my underpants while I get in the shower. Anyway, more news on the Carnival Spirit soon and my thanks to the super fit Stuart for his first report.

So let’s talk Carnival Breeze, but before we do, let’s take a tour of the new ship shall we?

The new ship looks brilliant and I know you will all love her. Now let’s learn more about the Thrill Theater from one of our technology beards:

Fantastic, what a thrill that will be and I am on the case trying to find out what we will be showing. It’s going to be a wonderful addition and you even get to wear Elton John’s Rocket Man glasses to enjoy it. The beards have also come up with a wonderful way to kick off the announcement, and here is Vance to tell you more about it.

To excite fans about Carnival’s new Thrill Theater and to get them into the “movie-viewing” mindset, Carnival, under license from Hasbro, Inc. has created “The 5D Challenge: TRIVIAL PURSUIT Edition” on Facebook.

Contest participants are asked to answer movie-themed trivia questions from Hasbro’s popular TRIVIAL PURSUIT brand.

One prize will be given away daily for the next five days (January 9-13) with contestants required to correctly answer three daily trivia questions to enter into a prize drawing.

Prizes include a 50-inch 3D Plasma HDTV, 3D phone, HD camcorder, and a $250 movie theater gift card. Also Hasbro Video and Board Game Prize Packs, including an Xbox 360 gaming console, will be given away throughout the contest period.

Enter here.

I mentioned on Facebook on Saturday that I had just watched the movie Taken and declared that Kye will never ever be allowed to leave the house – ever. It was though a brilliantly intense movie and one I enjoyed because over Christmas I had a diet of Peppa sodding Pig, The Sound of Music, The Holiday, and, of course, Alvin and The Chipmunks at the cinema where the highlight was when Kye lovingly declared to the entire theatre that that was “Dadda’s ship.” Heidi and I never agree on movies. I desperately want to go and see Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 347 or whatever the new one is but Heidi has bugger all interest in seeing this with me.

I love death, destruction, explosions and lashings of rumpy pumpy whereas my wife prefers movies full of love and kissing and movies that are wrapped in a big pink fluffy blanket which is why while Mum and Dad look after Kye on Wednesday night we won’t be seeing Tom Cruise hanging upside down over a computer or people being shot in the face with by a gun that can shoot round corners. Oh no, we are going to see something by Stephen Spielbastard called War Horse. I would rather watch naked 80 year olds do synchronized swimming than this film and while Heidi will be blubbering I am sure. I on the other hand will be wishing the Germans would just shoot the horse in the head and sell it as burgers to the French. Talking of old war horses, there is another film about a war horse called the Iron Lady which is about something Margaret Thatcher. I hear Meryl Streep is sensational.

To finish with today I have to talk about last Thursday where I apologised for not keeping my promise of making an announcement. There were many who I read on the boards that were upset at me and I faced deserving ridicule. Then there was the lady who didn’t like my humor and the lady who thought my comment about care homes was “disgusting.” I guess that I just can’t win these days because you never know who you are going to upset. You could give me any subject matter: iced tea, announcements (or lack thereof), care homes or horses and I bet that after half an hour I could come up with someone who was prepared to be angry about it. Every day I seem to say something that someone who lives in their mother’s attic and who spends 24 hours a day trawling the web pages will jump on your case and not let go.

Unfortunately, however, in the current climate it is no longer possible to express an opinion or make light of the world we live in because you are bound to upset a pressure group that then runs around waving its arms in the air and calling you a corporate puppet and calls for you to be taken to Gerry Cahill’s office and flogged with a wet Carnival beach towel. I have been apologising a lot recently and between me and you I am getting bloody well fed up with it.

My favourite apology was when the brilliant Clint Eastwood ordered those gunmen to apologise to his arse in A Fistful of Dollars. If the gunmen cowboy chaps had said sorry, the film would have been over. But they didn’t, so there was a lot of shooting and, in Clint’s case at least, plenty of squinting and spitting too.

As a word, “sorry” is very useful when you’re having an argument with your wife and there’s only 10 minutes before the football (saccccceerr) starts: “Yes, I know you just trod in one of Breeze’s turds and I was supposed to clean that up. I am a useless husband and I love you so much and I’m sorry. Now can I watch the game?” Sorry works when you fart in an elevator full of guests, or if you have said there will be a big announcement on the fifth when there isn’t.

Elton John once said that sorry seems the hardest word. But that’s not true. A brave man, a man with a spine and some iron in his blood would say: “I am not going to apologise and if you don’t like my blog and what I say and me then stop reading it and bugger off.”

But I am not that man so I can’t say that………………can I?

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.