BACK TO THE BALTIC

February 15, 2012 -

John Heald

Just before I left home for the Carnival Magic my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Kye discovered the word “why.” “Don’t throw Dadda’s cell phone in the toilet” ……..”Why?” is her response. And judging by what happened to me last night at the captain’s celebration I only have even more to worry about from her in the future. You see I was standing with the captain and senior officers when two bloggers approached me and at this point let me say a big hello to Jodie and Tom Marshall and their five-year-old son Brady. As we were chatting and talking about the blog and Facebook and their cruise, Brady, who was obviously bored, pulled on his father’s sleeve and pointing at me asked “Why is he so fat?”

Now for a moment the parents were horrified and indeed I stood there thinking maybe
H82seaugo had paid the little chap to say this to me. Now I had a choice here. Laugh it off for the sake of the parents whose embarrassment was obvious. Or, tell Brady that Fun Ship Freddy was a monster and would be coming for him tonight armed with a chainsaw. I decided on the first option and laughed and said, “Because I just ate 12 pizzas.” OK, not the most witty answer in the world but it worked as everyone, Brady included laughed. I say here publicly to the Marshalls that their apology afterwards was not needed because kids as we know do say the most wonderful things.

This has as I mentioned gotten me thinking about Kye and what she might say as she grows older. I can imagine her asking Heidi “Mama, what is Latvian Bottoms magazine and why are there 27 copies of it in Dadda’s computer bag?” “Why are you older than other Daddies?”; “What’s rumpy pumpy?”; “Is it OK that I told Alice’s mummy you said she wore too much lipstick and had a huge bottom?”

Obviously there are some questions which are impossible to answer: “Who signed off on building the Norwegian Epic” and “When will our new loyalty program be released?” My favourite though belongs to my mate Alan’s son. Alan and his wife Alison had bought him two goldfish which he loved……for about 10 minutes….and then forgot. The fish were then the responsibility of the parents and that did not make them very happy and they were referred to using very colourful metaphors. Anyway, a few months later his grandmother came to visit and asked Alan and Alison’s seven-year-old son what the names of his fish were. Obviously his immediate thought went to what his parents had called them over and over again and so obviously his reply to 84-year-old grandmother was………… “f****g fish.”

Time for today’s Q and A………..lets crack on.

Mel F asked:
John.

My mother and I sailed recently on the Carnival Freedom and the service in the dining room left a lot to be desired. We had ordered Kosher meals ahead of time and yet the waiters seemed untrained in how to serve them and what to do. At first we were given PAPER KNIFE AND FORKS and the food itself was bland and of a cafeteria standard. We won’t be sailing again with you if this is how you treat your customers.

John says:
Hello Mel F

I am so sorry that this happened. I spoke to Ken, the maitre d here on the Carnival Magic, and he told me that there are sometimes guests who ask for Kosher meals also request plastic cutlery. Obviously you didn’t and we should have asked ahead of time obviously. I have sent a note to the office regarding your comments on the Kosher meals and I am sure we will strive to do better. I also hope that you will look back at the fun you had on the cruise and that you will indeed join us again.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Vicki Hart asked:
John,

You may recall having heard from me before. My husband and I were to sail the Carnival Dream in February 2012. Due to his diagnosis of cancer we changed our trip to Oct. 15, 2011. Sadly he passed on Oct. 5 and that trip never happened. I had written to you a few times and you were helping me to make his last trip special for him. Thank you for your kindness during that time. Don wanted to take our adult daughters on their first cruise to introduce them to the joys of cruising. Since he never got that opportunity I have decided to honor the anniversary of his death by taking the girls on a cruise in October 2012. We will be sailing the Carnival Elation out of New Orleans. Would it be possible for you to arrange for us to be seated somewhere in the middle of the dining room? We will be on the ship for the anniversary of their father’s passing. I just want to make this trip as special as I can. Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for all you do!

John says:
Hello Vicki Hart

I am so very sorry for your loss and I am sure this cruise will be one full of mixed emotions. However, if I may be so bold to say, I think it’s brilliant that you are taking the family as per his wishes and to honour your husband’s life. May I please ask that one month before you sail you contact me here on the blog again marking your post time sensitive or indeed do so on Facebook and I will make sure we look after you? I will be thinking of you all and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.

Best wishes and deepest sympathies.

John

Diane Blissett asked:

I agree with others who said today that your language and sexual innuendos have no place here and that Carnival should reconsider your position as brand ambassador but I guess looking at it I should have expected nothing else from Carnival as I am still awaiting resolution to my complaints from my Carnival Valor cruise of November. Lurid language and sexual references may be OK for some but for many it is an immediate turn off and that reflects badly on Carnival. I read this blog to get information about the Carnival Breeze. Even though I am not interested in your bowel movements, farting, or your opinions of non-smokers, I put up with it to keep up with a ship that I’ll be on. Your humor is enjoyed by far less than you probably realize. I mentioned the Carnival Breeze, when the ship stays over the night in Rome is there anything to do next to the ship or in walking distance?

John says:
Hello Diane Blissett

Let’s start with the answer to your question. The ship docks in Civitavecchia and there is a free shuttle bus that runs until midnight into the town where there are loads of restaurants and a beautiful promenade but there is nothing next to the ship. Let me know please if you have any other questions. I am sorry if my cheekiness and sometimes candid way of writing is not for you. I happen to think British humor is some of the finest in the world but then I would I guess being British. I am sorry you had concerns in November on the Carnival Valor and I will investigate your comments and ask a colleague to contact you. I do tend to use bad language and that’s always been the case. You know, I thought my wife had a nervous tic but apparently she really did want me to “p**s off.” Just a little bit of British humor there for you. I’m sure you’re not laughing though…..oh bugger. Seriously, thanks for writing and I will look into your concerns for you.

Best wishes.

John

Marc W asked:
John.

I understand that you are the person to write to about my cruise experience. I should say that I am a frequent cruiser with 25-plus with all the major lines and this cruise was far from perfect. The buffet upstairs was hit and miss. Sometimes it was good and sometimes pretty bad. We didn’t know whether the food we chose would be hot, lukewarm or cold. I liked the layout but not the delivery. I saw a stir fry station with all the ingredients but no stir fry cook. I stood there but no one seemed interested in helping me. One night we got the meat balls, which were excellent. The next time we went there my husband said the meatballs were like they were just taken out of the refrigerator. If we wanted hot food at breakfast we had to stand in line and order our eggs specially cooked. After a few days, we gave up on the buffet. The dining room at lunch — we tried this one day. The service was so bad that the table of two next to us left before ordering because they had waited so long just to be waited on. It took over an hour to receive our lunch. I had told my husband they had another five minutes before I walked. The waiter finally told us that it was the kitchen’s fault. They didn’t expect so many to eat there that day. In the dining room, we really enjoyed the service. The waiter and his assistant were excellent. I would describe the food as passable. Example: I ordered Mom’s pork chop, chef’s recommendation. It was a pork chop that was coated with shake n bake with a sweet sauce. You never knew what exactly you would be getting. Since I had already had an appetizer and a soup, it was no big deal. I will give the sous chef high marks. The soups were always excellent. Please take this seriously sir as I do know cruising better than most and hope that you will improve by the next time I choose to cruise with your line.

Marc W

John says:
Hello Marc Warsi

Please excuse me if I am being a bit thick here but I have read your post twice and I can’t for the life of me work out what ship you were on. The only reference is the pork chop you described which I am not familiar with. We do have a Mongolian Wok and yet there are always people serving food there so again I am not sure to what you are referring to. Please can you send me more details so I can help you because I really do want to know what ship you were on so we can take a closer look. Thinking about it I don’t think we serve meatballs on Lido either……..do we? Anyway, let me know and regardless I am so sorry your experience left you feeling less than pleased.

Best wishes.

John

Johnny Byrd asked:
John,

I guess you don’t have an answer for the questions I ask you about. I sent you questions about VIP guests where we stood in a line waiting on baggage for about three an hour to an hour and a half. I guess nobody cares at Carnival about their VIP people.

John says:
Hello Johnny Byrd

We absolutely do care and I am sorry that I haven’t replied yet to you as I don’t think I can remember seeing anything from you until now. Please can you let me know more details so I can look into this for you because we need to see where we slipped up. We have a new loyalty program due soon which I hope will prove even more just how much we do care about our VIP guests.

Best wishes and sorry for the late reply.

John

Gary Gorman asked:
John –

My family and I just returned from a wonderful cruise aboard the Carnival Spirit. We sailed on Nov. 13 for a five-day cruise to Cabo San Lucas. All together there were 23 of us on the cruise and we had a wonderful time. However, I have one small complaint but I also want to commend the maître d’ on the Carnival Spirit for his wonderful job of handling our problem.

Most of our family booked the cruise using the group booking number. A few of our family chose not to do that, and booked separately. We all did want to dine together, so as the group coordinator, I called Carnival’s group department on a few occasions, and spoke with someone about making sure that all of us were seated together. I did this each time someone booked without using the group number. Each time I was assured they would take care of linking their booking to the rest of us for meals. Well, we boarded, and started chatting and discovered that we were scattered over several tables with the exception of those that booked as part of the group. At first I thought maybe we were all together in the dining room, but soon discovered that was not the case. I contacted the maître d’ and spoke with him about the situation. This is where the story really gets good. He managed to move people around and by the second night, we were all sitting at two tables, side by side! I was absolutely amazed at what a great job he did of fixing what could have been a very vexing problem for us. Kudos and thanks to the wonderful dining staff of the Carnival Spirit!!! And a little bit of a pffffft towards the group booking folks. 🙂

Thanks for listening to my tale and I hope you can tell me what I could have done better to assure this won’t happened next time. And there will be a next time.

John says:
Hello Gary Gorman

A tale with a sort of a happy ending and that’s just what I needed to hear as today’s Q&A has been a bit……ummmm…..bumpy. It does look like we dropped the ball here though and I will make sure the right people know this. However, equally important I will let the beards know that the maitre d turned the situation around and that’s just wonderful to read. Thanks for telling me and if you ever need help with dining arrangements for your next cruise please do let me know.
I hope you had a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Richard Glash asked:

I would like to know what happened to Chris Jefferson? He was the cruise director on the Carnival Conquest. If you have any information let me know.

Thank you.

Richard Glash

John says:
Hello Richard Glash

Chris retired two years ago and we all miss him. His wife gave birth to a baby daughter last year and they are all together living in the UK. Thanks for asking, that was very kind.

Best wishes.

John

Trudy asked:

We are cruising with you guys on the Carnival Fascination ship 2/27 for our Washington High School in Atlanta, Georgia class of 1971 reunion. We are in cabins R53, R55, R79 and M11 and wondered how we claim our free gift.

John says:
Hello Trudy

I am not sure what free gift you are referring to but if you are asking if I can send something to you to help celebrate your reunion then I am sure I can find something for you to share. Have a great time and hope you have loads of fun.

Best wishes.

John

Nathan Derringer asked:
Dear John (Please Reply),

I will be on a cruise for the first time with Carnival on the beautiful Carnival Spirit to Alaska. I will be joined by my wife and eight-year-old son, Nathan Jr. He has a morbid fear of mascots and after weeks of worry and various tests it was discovered he suffers from coulrophobia which is a fear of clowns. I have read that you have a mascot on the ship and seen photos of it and it will for sure make my son so upset and maybe as has happened before he will actually faint. How can I make sure that the mascot is not on the ship for that cruise? Please help. Thank you on behalf of worried parents.

John says:
Hello Nathan Derringer

I am so glad you have written to me and seeing that you are sailing to Alaska means we have some time to sort this out. I am going to look up your sailing date and make sure that when you arrive the youth director who runs Camp Carnival will place in your stateroom a schedule of when Fun Ship Freddy is due to appear. There won’t be any random appearances, just what’s on the schedule so you will know not to have Nathan Jr. there. You are not the first to worry about this, in fact I am sure there are blog readers who will be posting their thoughts about this below as they have had similar concerns. Please don’t worry, all will be well and I will make sure of that and be in touch before you sail.

Best wishes.

John

And that’s your lot for today. So the big news yesterday was of course Carnival Legend and her European tour in 2013 and in case you didn’t get to see the news yesterday, here it is again.

http://carnival-news.com/2012/02/14/carnival-legend-to-operate-wide-array-of-exciting-european-cruises-in-2013-including-lines-first-extended-program-from-uk-3/

She has been to Europe before of course when in 2002 we sailed to the Baltic and round the British Isles and it was truly amazing. Now over the next few weeks I will be highlighting some of the brilliant places that we call at and let’s start with our return to the Baltic which I know so many of you are excited about.

One of the highlights will be Warnemunde where Kye was created during five minutes of das rumpy von pumpy. Seriously, Germany has a history and one that it is keen to open its doors to and ask you in. And, of course, for the best view of this country’s history that affected most of the world………you have to go to Berlin. Carnival Legend will have private trains to take you to Berlin and from experience I can tell you it’s a must see city. The whole city is packed with culture, history and attractions. The transparent dome of the Reichstag, and the Platz der Republik, architecture at its best, the views are incredible every which way you look.

You can gaze down into the debating chamber of the German parliament; across the void to the ingenious double walkways that spiral to the summit; or out onto the Brandenburg Gate and across the vast Tiergarten Park to the Kurfürstendamm. I got to stand where the Berlin Wall stood and where parts of this hated symbol of a divided Europe still stand. To see the Checkpoint Charlie museum, near the former East-West crossing point, which chronicles the many daring escape attempts and the blood spilled.

There is, of course, a place that we give you the chance to visit that will change your life …….. here is what I wrote in 2008 when I visited somewhere I will never forget. “As I sit here on the bus for the three-hour ride to Warnemunde, I only have thoughts for the place I just came from ………Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. We walked as the prisoners did up to the huge foreboding iron gates that have the feared insignia of the SS on either side and in the middle the words ‘Arbeit Macht Frei,’ which translates to ‘Work Will Give You Freedom.’ Nothing was further than the truth as this was the place where 50,000 Jews, Russian soldiers and anyone who did not fit Hitler’s ‘Kampf’ died. We listened to the stories from our expert guide about the torture and we visited the cells and chambers where these acts were carried out. Then there were the stories about the children…oh, the children…I cannot even bring myself to write the words.”

I thought I would share a video with you of Germany and my time there on the Carnival Splendor. Now you have to remember this was filmed some years ago and long before Peter the Hair and Jay The Recently Married got their hands on me and tried to mould me into a cross between Andersen Cooper and Wolf Blister. Things were different back then, the logo has changed of course and so has the production value. Myself and Heidi and the shore excursion team went on location to film some Travel Channel-style video footage which we play on the guest televisions. When I say Travel Channel…well……it was a little different. They have huge teams of cameraman, sound engineers, make-up artists and beautiful women supplying the host with anything he needs.….we had a bloke……who was cameraman, soundman and supplied me the host…….with bugger all. As for makeup….well…I refused to wear any and would rather tie a piece of old cheese to my thingy and have H82Seaugo put a starved rat down my underpants ………. than wear mascara and foundation.

The videos were also shot in early March which is why it may look a bit grey and wet on occasion. Remember when you will be on the Carnival Legend the weather will be different but the excursions and the places featured here will be the same and our brilliant excursion program will offer you a chance to see places like this.

Our shoreside excursion team will start work on the excursions and get them ready and available ASAP and I will keep you informed. Tomorrow we will talk about St. Petersburg and that is a city that should be on everyone’s bucket list and we haven’t even mentioned the Norwegian fjords. Have you booked yet?

You know, the way public debate is now conducted, there is nobody who is safe from public mockery and ridicule and I have finally come to the realisation that I am included in that. I am the first to publicly ridicule myself and along the way have upset Al Gore supporters, loads of Cruise Critic members, other cruise line executives, environmentalists, Diane Blissett and, of course, the French. There are one or two people who seem to take great pleasure in sending me snippets from other cruise pages and most of the time I delete without being read but one caught my eye yesterday because it was very funny. It simply said “Carnival has chosen Eliza Doolittle as their Brand Ambassador” and as I read that I laughed out loud because in a way………they are absolutely correct……they did.

I don’t think my language is that bad is it? I don’t swear that much in writing or in real life, I really don’t. Swearing is bad and any children reading this please do not listen to Uncle John’s ranting and use of colourful metaphors. It isn’t easy to swear well though. We should celebrate those who swear well. Genius swearers, in my book, include John Cleese, Billy Connelly, Ricky Gervais, Richard Pryor, Ray Winstone a brilliant British actor and the undisputed king of swearing ……….Tony Soprano.

By the way, did you know there is a village in Austria called “F**k”………….The “Welcommen Zu F**k” sign has apparently been stolen many many times………….sorry Diane.

Well tomorrow is Thursday and be sure and check my Facebook page when we have some interesting and exciting news indeed.

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.