MIAMI BITCH…..OOPS…..I MEAN BEACH

March 26, 2012 -

John Heald

As you may know, I was in Miami two weeks ago sorting Carnival Breeze stuff out with the beards and while there I decided I wanted to go for a really good meal to say thanks to my assistant Calvyn for all his hard work. We had eaten for most of the week at restaurants that pretty much all look the same, smell the same and whose food all tastes the same. So taking a break from Tony Chili’s and Ruby Roma’s, we headed to Miami Beach for a proper dinner at a very upscale restaurant. It is considered the most popular place in town and the place to be seen and the place for the rich and the tanned. I knew it may not be easy to get into but considering Calvyn and I were heading there at 6 pm and most of the Miami “faces” don’t even get out of bed before 8 pm as it would be very uncool to be seen eating dinner before 10 pm.

I had been introduced to this restaurant by my friends Mr. and Mrs. Bentley and remembered the amazing cowboy steak and the huge baked potato that was the same length as LeBron James’ ummmmm……foot. So I was confident that we were early enough to get a table and was looking forward to showing Calvyn a good time and enjoying a wonderful meal…..plus, I had Carnival’s company credit card and after the bloggers cruise and my hard work, I thought Gerry would love to treat me to a meal. And so we parked our rented Hyundai thingy and in we walked.

“Do you have a reservation?” said the supermodel type behind the hostess desk. She was truly beautiful but obviously had never eaten anything on the menu where she worked as she was as thin as anorexic stick insect. The restaurant was quiet as I had expected it to be with only three tables occupied and they were probably just finishing their lunch. She looked me up and down and asked me if I had a reservation. I told her no and smiled my cruise director smile. She looked me up and down and admiring my pair of Dockers and my polo shirt bought from Big Bubba’s High & Mighty shop and saw that I was fat and that my teeth were bent and the colour of a toilet seat after Stevie Wonder has finished using it and seeing Calvyn’s “Got Fun?” T-shirt and decided that, despite the restaurant being as busy as a Bath and Body Works in Paris, and said the place was full.

It wasn’t and I politely told the stick insect that this was bollocks and that it wasn’t and she simply told me that it soon would be and that without a reservation, she couldn’t help me. I started to name drop hoping that this would help. I said I knew Gerry Cahill and had beaten him in a race down a water slide and that I had once shook Micky Arison’s hand and that in 1996 on the Carnival Destiny, Regis Philbin had thrown a microphone at me. But Twiggy didn’t care because she was finished with Calvyn and I and showed us that was the case by picking up her jewel- incrusted EyePhone and called her friend probably to tell her the joke about a fat man and Cher-loving assistant cruise director who walk into a restaurant. I was furious, really I was, and felt bad for Calvyn as well because I had played this place up to him because it really is one of the best meals I have ever had. I also wanted Calvyn to see the amazing cars that pull up outside this restaurant and enjoy the sight of beautiful women trying to get out of Lamborghinis and Aston Martins wearing short skirts and no knickers.

But we weren’t allowed in. I would like to believe it’s because the place was going to be full in an hour or so, but deep down I knew that this was bollocks. It was because we weren’t dressed right and probably because we were too ugly. Bottom line, we didn’t suit the restaurant. Letting us in would have been like going to a party and finding a turd in the punchbowl. Don’t get me wrong, the food is incredible and you will, I guarantee, see someone from the world of film, TV and music so you will get a night of brilliant food and a chance to have Brad Pitt, Madonna or Dwyane Wade at the next table. But after my experience, unless Megan Fox invites me I won’t ever go there again, I would rather eat my own underpants!

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


Gus Melchion asked:

Sir John,

First off, you are a great ambassador for not only Carnival, but for mankind. I have cruised on every ship in the fleet since the Mardi Gras (1977). I know things must change and have over the years. Some good 90% some bad 10%. The rub for me is the discontinuation of the daily news paper. Also I always request a six-person table and wind up in the chaos line on the first night. As an 80-cruise milestone and stock holder I expect better. What do you think? Great choice in promoting 6″3 Aussie Amy. She will make a great cruise director.

John says:
Hello Gus Melchion,

Let me first thank you for your loyalty and I know that you have always been a huge supporter of Carnival and long may this continue. We have indeed stopped the printed newspaper focusing on world events as the news now is shown on the cabin TVs but I miss it as well. I know that there is always a line for table changes at embarkation and that’s why I hope before your next cruise that you will contact me here or on Facebook so I can do my best to take you out of that line and help you before you cruise. I agree with you, Amy will make a great ACD for the Carnival Breeze and one day soon a brilliant CD as well. I hope we sail together soon and please let me know if you need anything.

John

George Scrogie asked:

I was sailing on the Splendor with my wife and was seated at dinner with two couples from South Africa and one couple from Australia. I was surprised by this and I asked to be moved but the Christmas cruise was full and there were no other seats. Why does Carnival not seat Americans with Americans? We had nothing in common with the non-American people we had for seven days within the restaurant.

John says:
Hello George Scrogie,

Thank you for taking the time to write to me and I wonder if you saw that I also posted this on my Facebook page where it generated 700 comments and thus provoked great discussion. We really don’t look at nationalities when we seat people at the table outside of language. We try not to seat people from Venezuela say with people from Japan as obviously conversation would not exactly be easy, but in your case I am sure the maître d realising that people from Australia and South Africa would speak English, thought this would be OK. However, I realise that you didn’t enjoy the experience and so I would urge you to contact me before you cruise with us again either here or on my Facebook page so that I can arrange a private table for two or make sure you are seated only with other Americans. I do hope you had a great cruise despite this and that we see you again soon.

Best wishes.

John

Robyn and Grant Bonamasso asked:
John,

We saw you on the Carnival Triumph in 2002 and had a great time and were really looking forward to seeing you on the Carnival Magic in February but just learnt that you won’t now be on the ship which I am quite upset about if the truth be told. I know you may say you are not in control of where you go and what you do but it’s not fair on my wife and me and others I am sure that I you let down. I would not normally ask for free stuff but under the circumstances that we booked the ship partly because you would be the cruise director, I am hoping that you will make it up to us in the form of a meal at the steak restaurant or a free excursion maybe. Our booking number this cruise is ****** You are a great person and have many followers but watch those followers disappear if you continue to let them down as you have my husband and me.

John says:
Hello Robyn and Grant,

Well, I guess I need to start with two apologies. Firstly, that I let you down and secondly that I have seen this post only now and you have already sailed. I do know that when I advertise a schedule and then that schedule changes, I do let many people down and while I do have bosses who tell me where and when I go I also know that in the wake of these changes comes disappointment, for which I am truly sorry. And while I am afraid I wouldn’t have paid for a meal at the steakhouse I would have certainly sent you something to say sorry that I missed you. I do hope you had a great time and I hope that we get to sail together very soon.

Best wishes.

John

Ginger Evans asked:
John,

Last week my girlfriend and I were on the Carnival Liberty and read on your blog about the Guy’s burgers and how they were the best blah, blah, blah. I am here to tell you that they are not good — they are AWESOME! I am embarrassed to tell you that I ate one sometimes two every day and no other burger will ever come close. We both had a great cruise and it was our first on Carnival but it will not be our last because we had our best vacation ever. We will be back.

John says:
Hello Ginger Evans,

You’re so right, eating any other kind of burger after a Guy’s burger is a major disappointment and I am so thrilled that you enjoyed one or two and that most importantly you had a great cruise and that you will be back soon. If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know and thanks for the great post.

Best wishes.

John

Mrs. Dianne Lilley asked:
Mr Heald,

I was on the Christmas sailing of the Carnival Dream. I am a VIP platinum passenger and did not get the beach bag you described but got a cooler. There should also be a private entrance for VIP passengers to the past guest party. We should not have to line up with the people who are not VIP. Please respond!

John says:
Hello Dianne Lilley,

We are looking at a number of new options and choices for when we launch our new loyalty program so please hang on in there. I know some guests were disappointed by the fact that they didn’t get the backpacks as the ships were told to run their stock of coolers down first but all the ships now have them and they are great. There will be many more changes coming to the loyalty program and I will let you know about them as soon as I can. Until then thanks for your loyalty and hope you had a great cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Jane Fairclough asked:
Hello John:

You don’t know me but I cruised with you on the Carnival Magic in beautiful Venice and Naples and Dubrovnik and Messina and Rome and it was so fantastic. I do have a question though about our waiter Joel. He was so charming and we tipped him extra because he was the highlight of the cruise. What concerned me and my table mates was the fact that another passenger at the table told us that Carnival doesn’t pay him anything and that he works only for tips. is this true because isn’t that illegal, John? Please set the record straight as this has been on my mind. Me and the girls had such a great time but this has been a worry so I am hoping you can settle this for us.

John says:
Hello Jane Fairclough,

I am very glad to know you and your friends had fun in Europe and enjoyed all the beautiful ports. I am also happy to know that Joel gave you such wonderful service and thanks so much for taking care of him with some extra gratuity. It is important to know that each and every single crewmember is paid a salary by Carnival Cruise Lines (excluding the concessions such as spa and gift shop who are all paid by their own companies) and that includes Joel and his fellow waiters. The salary they are paid is well subsidized by the tips our guests leave but yes, they do receive a salary. I hope this explains this well enough for you and I hope we will see you all again very soon.

Best wishes.

John

Alan Quigley asked:
Hi John,

We are booked to join you on the inaugural of the Carnival Breeze and was hoping you would have photos of the bars and possibly cabin 7300 which is where we will be staying.

Thanks for all you do.

John says:
Hello Alan Quigley,

Perfect timing because I will be heading to Italy next week and will send the first group of videos and photos straight away. Then when I return on the 29th I will get with Mr. Radu and start photographing all the cabin categories including yours. She is going to be a brilliant ship and I will see you there soon.

Best wishes.

John

Jonathan O’Neill asked:
Hello,

I noticed a change on the CCL web site for the ships. The ships which had web cams had links to those web cams on their pages. I don’t see the links to ship web cams for those that have them in these new pages. I thought I saw a beta version of a new web cam user interface on your blog or perhaps a FB posting. Is that available now on the site? Looking to track the Magic this week. Thanks!

John says:
Hello Jonathan O’Neill,

We did indeed change the link and the best way to check them all out is to use this link here please at http://ships.carnivalentertainment.com/ I hope this works for you and please let me know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes.

John

Mark Sajeski asked:

We just got off the ship and our S&S card was paid off before leaving the ship but they charged my checking account anyway. I was shocked to find that there was no one to call this morning to correct this before overcharges hit. Your offices were closed today (Monday 1/2/12). Shouldn’t there be someone to resolve your billing errors anytime a ship comes in? This is leaving a very bad image for Carnival. Would it be possible to have staff available to correct Carnival billing errors everyday that a cruise docks even after a holiday?

John says:
Hello Mark Sajeski,

I am so sorry we made a mistake here and I will pass this onto the right people. Once again, I send my apologies. I hope you had a great cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Jennifer Larlee asked:
Dear John,

I love your blog thingy and I appreciate every second you dedicate to answering peoples questions, listening to complaints, and assisting with the multitude of things you are asked for. I hope Carnival gave you an enormous bonus last year! Last year we were able to go on our first family cruise on the Carnival Splendor, Feb. 20, and my husband and kids (12and 9) loved it. It was a great way for us to spend time together as a family after my husband came home from his deployment. I wanted to keep up the tradition this year, as unfortunately he is in Afghanistan and unable to come with us. We have decided I will still take the kids for spring break this year as it will give them something to look forward to and hopefully take their minds off of having their father gone again. If there is any way possible, I would love a small favor from you and the crew on board. If I send you a letter from my husband, who misses them like crazy and hates being separated from his sweet kiddos, is there any way someone can print it and have it in the room to go along with the other items I am ordering from gifts & services to have delivered on his behalf? Thank you so much for helping me and please, if you can let me know the right person to give my personal Thank You to on board, as well as a nice tip from our family, for making this time apart a little more bearable and this cruise that much more special.

Thank you.

Jennifer

John says:
Hello Jennifer,

I truly hope that I haven’t seen this post too late. YES, of course, I can do this, it would be an honour so please send me a note here marked URGENT AS PER JOHN’S REQUEST TO SEE THIS IMMEDIATELY or simply post it on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/johnheald so that I can do this and more. Please thank your husband for his service and I really hope you will write again.

Best wishes to you all.

John

That’s all for today and thanks for all the questions and comments.

I was asked for the 15-day Alaskan menu rotation……..here it is.

I had a fun time at the UK Cruise Show and one of the thrills was to meet Adolfo’s UK team all of whom are dedicated to making sure that the Carnival Cruise Lines name is shouted out loud and proud and I hope I helped with this somewhat by attending this event. \

The show was full of stands representing every cruise line as well as river boats and specialty operators. It also featured chauffeur transfers, excursions and one that caught my eye. The company who I won’t name offered this: door-to-door service without the hassle of lost, stolen, or damaged luggage, or having to drag bags along on your travels. Too much luggage ……… they’ll send it direct to your cabin for you. Wow, who knew that service was offered? Well, you probably did and it’s just my thick arse that wasn’t aware of this.

Now I can understand that if you are on a world cruise that too much luggage may be a concern and therefore this service would be invaluable but it also leads me to say that I am always bewildered by how much stuff some of our guests bring on a seven-day cruise. People I think go shopping before their cruise based on the thought that once on board, you will become a different person and will, say for example, start going to the gym every morning so you need loads of workout clothes. And please ladies don’t think you need a different outfit every night at dinner and a pair of shoes to go with every outfit and you need all of this because the new friends you share a dinner table with will do the same because they won’t. You’re still the same person, just at sea. Please pack based on that and not in the hope that George Clooney may see you in St. Thomas and invite you for dinner and some rumpy pumpy.

A few blogs ago I wrote about my desire to bring back pillow fighting which I always remember a as a fun event that the passengers as you were then called really enjoyed. Couples would climb on a slippery pole five feet off the ground and whack the living hell out of each other with a pillow. I wrote to the beards about my wish to return it to the ships and I am happy to tell you that they said yes. So pillow fighting will return on the Carnival Breeze and I can’t wait because I am sure it will be just as much fun as it was back when we used to do this.

So great news and I hope you all get to…………..oh, hold on…………….I just read the fine print ………….. bugger ……. we can do it providing we follow the following health and safety rules:

1. The pole must only be five inches off the ground.

2. The pillows must be filled with extra soft padding and no head or body shots are allowed. Guests must only strike each other on the knees which will be padded.

3. Guests must wear high visibility Kevlar body armor, crash helmets and the guys must wear a cup. Carnival will provide the male guests with cups which will come in three sizes, small medium and liar.

So my dear readers……in other words…….I was told to sod off and you will I am afraid never see pillow fighting again. Yep, pillow fighting has no place in March 2012 anymore than the old typewriters we used to make the Carnival Capers with. I remember when we first got e-mail on the ships. I was on the Carnival Imagination and we had a bearded person give us all a one week course on e-mailing. We were all very excited and found it to be a great convenience. There would be no need for piles of stationery in the cabin. No typing the passenger mood report to the office or the 20 page voyage report, checking, correcting with whiteout and screaming “s**t” every five minutes because the ribbon would get all crooked.
And if I wanted to send carbon copies, no need for carbon paper or a photocopier, or the hunt for addresses: just hit reply all, or key in the first few letters of the Miami beards name in the box marked CC. Yep, we were all very happy Carnival chappies ……..and now things have changed.

If I had a DeLorean I would journey back from March 26, 2012, to whenever the bastard that invented e-mail was about to have the idea. I would give him a good whack with a baseball bat so that when he regained consciousness he would have forgotten what his revolutionary idea was. Obviously if I didn’t have the internet I wouldn’t be writing this blog and yes, e- mail does have its good points I guess. But before computers arrived on the CD’s desk back in the pre-internet days they were spending perhaps between 30 and 60 minutes a day at their desk on paper work then e-mail came along and today my colleagues average 100 e-mails a day.

Sometimes these are simply e-correspondence to which they have been copied in (and increasingly they have slipped into the habit of copying others into their own e-mails, just in case) but woe betide the e-mailer who ignores mail for which he isn’t the primary recipient, for with e-mail silence can be taken as being rude and that means you have to reply……quickly.

I don’t know how it is with you but at Carnival, both on land at sea, each of us hits “reply all” for each of our replies, and from time to time it occurs to a few of us to add another name, usually someone with a beard, and this party will also press reply all, then the entire correspondence can begin to snowball out of control and like a drunk elephant on a skateboard……….it never stops.

Let me see if I can explain this disease that I have caught like many of my Carnival colleagues have as well. Replies fly back and forth at supersonic speed and that’s when things get out of sync, and we find ourselves confirming that we can do a proposed date for a conference call before we’ve realised that somebody else has e-mailed to say they can’t do that date; and by the time we’ve e-mailed again to say we will change the time of the call and proposed a new time, they’ve e-mailed back to say they’ve shifted another meeting and so can do the first after all. By then you are sitting in a dark room, dribbling on yourself making weird humming noises while banging your head against the wall. The first thing I used to do in the morning when I woke up was have a poo ….. not now. First thing every morning, I quickly check my e-mails to see if there’s anything that has to be dealt with before I drop the kids off at the pool even if one of the kids is already peeking his head out of the door.

Was it really better in the old days? Would I really swap now for then? I am not sure. All I know is that I’m 46, and I’m spending up to half my waking hours in front of a screen……and that’s not including my nightly visit to www.latvianwomenlookingforfatmen.com
Anyway, time to go but not before I publically thank all the wonderful people who came to the cruise show to see me. It was wonderful to meet everyone and I am honoured that you came from far away to do so. It was also obvious that the Brits are very excited about having a ship from Dover next year and they are also excited about the Carnival Breeze and the Carnival Sunshine. The UK is excited it seems about Carnival and we are ready to make sure they have a huge dollop of fun on our brilliant “Fun Ships.” I should probably also apologise to a chap I shared a panel with who while doing a great job promoting his cruise line probably didn’t appreciate my silly humour and if offended you in any way I apologise……..but that really was a nice suit you were wearing.

The late afternoon panel I was on was getting very serious and so I ummmmm……….told a joke and the audience all laughed, they really did but I am know thinking it was too much. We were all asked to finish with a statement. My friends from Mouse land and from Norway and from Brand X and Royalwall were all very serious and I ummmm……….well, wasn’t and as I was last I thought the proceedings should finish with a joke………..and while the audience laughed I am sitting here this morning in my underpants wondering if this was proper behavior for the brand ambassador.

The joke was:

So, there are three young boys aged around nine years old. They are walking down the road when one sees a five-pound note on the pavement (sidewalk). He picks it up and gets very excited.

“Look,” he says, “I have found five pounds let’s take the money and go to see Manchester United vs. Chelsea (soccer teams) play. We can watch the game and have hot dogs, it will be great.”

“Don’t be stupid,” says the second little boy……..”You can’t get the three of us to go and see the football match for five pounds, that’s not enough money.”

So he takes the money and says, “Let’s take the five pounds and go to the movies. We can see the new Harry Potter movie and have popcorn, it will be great.”

“Don’t be stupid,” says the third little boy…..”You can’t get the three of us in the movies for five pounds, that’s not enough money.”

So he takes the money and says “I know, we will take the five pounds and we will buy a box of Tampax.”

The other two boys look at him and say, “What?”

“Yes,” he says……..“I saw it on television. You buy a box of Tampax, you can go swimming, horseback riding, skating, mountain climbing……….it’s a holiday……….in a box.”

Too much?

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.

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