WHAT’S FOR BRUNCH?

April 13, 2012 -

John Heald

I remember when the mail used to be fun. Not email, not the offer of a larger thingy which, by the way, I decided to apply for and for my $45 I received a magnifying glass…..no, I mean real mail, the stuff the mailman brings. You know, back before e-mail, when I would receive a birthday card and check. Or even better, a birthday card with a check. There was nothing better than opening that white square envelope knowing that inside there would be money. It was such a letdown when it was just a card except when it was from my Uncle Norman who I knew was a cheap bastard and that the card would be as empty as Frenchman’s soap dish. Mail used to be exciting because every day was a new opportunity. You never knew what you were going to get. A handwritten letter, an invitation – maybe there would be a postcard from a friend on a Carnival cruise. Now, the only postcards that arrive have ads on them. Do I want a pizza? New decking? I have been used to getting emails for a larger gentleman’s sausage via email but yesterday I actually got a got a card in the mail offering me a bigger one and the handwriting on it looked very much like Heidi’s.

On Facebook in February, I think it was, we were all talking about PA announcements. If you remember we were asking if the cruise directors made too many and if they were too long and if guests should be able to hear them in the cabins or not. We are currently working on a fleetwide standard for the CD’s to make sure that they are informative, fun and not too long. I will, of course, let you know about this soon. One thing that seems to be pretty unanimous is that you don’t want to hear them in the cabins unless it is something of great importance which is, of course, our current policy. What we really need is a switch that can give guests an option to turn the announcements on or off in the cabin making sure that the switch was over ridden when and if an emergency announcement had to be made but that’s something we just don’t have. I can tell you that each ship as of April 1 this year now has an audio channel on the cabin TV’s. This will have a rundown of the day’s events so if you don’ want to read the Fun Times then all you need to do is turn the TV on to the audio channel and the assistant cruise director or an entertainment staff member will read the highlights of the day. This was introduced originally for our guests who were sight impaired but we noticed many other guests appreciated this as well so that’s now on all the ships.

Using the PA system is not easy and the trick I think is to use it as an entertainment tool and have fun amongst the announcement for the gift shop’s Inch of Gold sale or bingo. I have sailed on Cunard, Princess and P&O ships and outside of an announcement for the shows, the CD makes no announcements, none at all really. Is that a good thing? I am not sure. Certainly, announcements tell our guests what’s going on at different venues throughout the ship but I am sure there are some guests who would prefer none at all. The task is to find a happy medium, of course. Now it’s not just cruise ships that use the announcements. Back in January, I traveled to Liverpool to hire some British comedians for the Carnival Breeze and the PA system was used constantly. Every time we pulled away from a station a bored, rather sad voice announced that we are on a train……going to Liverpool……that food and drink was available from the buffet car…..he then went on to tell us that a cup of tea was £2…a coffee…£2…..a cheese and ham sandwich … £2…… in fact everything was £2…..except my ticket which was the price of a sodding three-day cruise.

Then, three times during the three-hour journey we were warned to look out for explosive devices and if you find one, not to be a hero and try to defuse it yourself but to let the conductor know where and he will halt the train and run away screaming. Here are some of the others I made a note of:

“First-class areas are for first-class ticket holders only.” Duh.

“This station is monitored by 24-hour CCTV.” Well, you’ve given the game away there you
idiot.

“I’m sorry for the late-running of your service. This is due to the late-running of the previous service”…I am going to use this one the next time we start embarkation late.

There are times when we don’t use the PA system enough. I had a complaint from someone recently that we had closed the pool on the last sea day. Some guests were claiming that we had done this because we had scheduled maintenance for this sea day, which we would, of course, never do. The real reason was that someone had had an accident in the pool and this meant that we had to ……..and excuse the pun…….dump the water. The problem was that the CD had not informed the guests and he didn’t do so because there is no protocol for this, until now. It has been decided that we will let guests know when this happens over the PA system. And the words that the high visibility jacket wearing beards have instructed the CD’s to say over the PA system in the rare event we have to close the pool are; “Ladies and gentlemen, I am very sorry to let you know that we have had to close the pool this morning as there has been some human spillage.”

“Human spillage?” Sorry, but that’s far too PC for me. We should be saying:

“Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. We have, unfortunately, had to close the main pool because Mr. Thomas Runnybottom has dropped a Hummer-sized turd in the pool. A fruit basket and a solid gold plastic ship on a stick to any guest who retrieves it.”

Time for some non-toilet Q and A. Here we go…

Trina Simmonds asked:
John,

We just returned from a cruise on the Carnival Conquest, our first with Carnival. One of the highlights of any cruise is the sailing from the port which was ruined because the captain decided to sail just as we had started the boat safety drill. We were forced to stand there for an hour and miss the whole sailing experience. This is not happened to me with Royal Caribbean or with Disney and my family and I were not impressed by this.

John says:
Hello Trina Simmonds,

I posted this on Facebook yesterday because I wanted to see if other guests had witnessed this recently and many haven’t. We know how important the sailaway experience is to our guests and sometimes it’s beyond our control and on the orders of the pilot or because of needing to get to our first port on time we do sail during the safety briefing. As I said, for the most part we don’t and I hope the next time you sail with us that the drill will be completed before the ship sails. I do hope that you had a great time.

Best wishes.

John

Tammye asked:
Dear John,

We are a family in law enforcement, my husband has been on the department and serving for 25 yrs now. We are on cruise #11 with Carnival and we have often asked the question with no one ever answering. Why does Carnival not offer discounts to police officers or firemen? I was beginning to think CCL just didn’t like police officers! The other cruise lines do offer us discounts like they do for military personnel. We love Carnival and have kept loyal by sailing with you. In fact, my husband and I cruise again this year on Carnival Spirit April 28 (excited to see her after her work!). So please do pass this request on to the beards in charge. Our men and women who serve to protect our citizens every day on the streets in our cities deserve this break as well. Thank you for listening, John.

John says:
Hello Tammye,

First of all let me thank you for the service that your husband and all police officers and firefighters give and all of us at Carnival understand that the job they do is extraordinary. We do offer military discounts and in fact I understand it to be one of the best discounts in the industry but you are right, we don’t have similar discounts for police and firefighters. I will send this to the beards in charge but please let me again thank our police and firefighters who do brilliant work to protect their communities. Please let me know when your husband sails with us again so I can send him something as a show of our appreciation.

Best wishes.

John

Luke asked:
Good evening, John.

I was just reading through some comments on this blog and realized that I am always just reading and never replying. I wanted to let you know that my wife, six-year-old and I cruised on the Legend last September and it was wonderful. We have done many different types of vacations, but that was our first cruise. Very relaxing, lots of fun and what I would consider a very reasonable cost. We enjoyed it so much that we already booked the same cruise July 22 this year. We also talked my wife’s sister and her family, my wife’s mother and her husband and my mom (we are actually treating my mom, so pretty easy to talk her into it) to come as well. With the insane number of vacation destinations available, you know we had to love it to repeat the same trip. I also would like you to pass on to “Wee Jimmy” and Meagan a very sincere thank you. My daughter called in to answer a trivia question on the morning show and instead they chatted with her for awhile. She sang them the Winnie the Pooh song and was rewarded with a stuffed lion. It really made her feel special. Not many kids on a cruise during the school year so that made a world of difference to her. Thank you for the great job in putting those two in place. I hope that we have a fun CD and assistant CD on our next voyage.

Have a wonderful day.

Luke

John says:
Hello Luke,

It is always great to hear from people who don’t post much especially when they have such wonderful things to say as you did. I have passed your comments onto the ship and to Wee Jimmy who is currently the CD on the Carnival Paradise. Thanks again and I hope that we will see you and your beautiful family on one of our ships very soon.

Best wishes.

John

Christina Paris asked:
Hello John!

I really enjoy your informative and very humorous blog. My daughters and I only started cruising after I lost my husband on 9/11 in the terrorist attack. It’s truly a shame we didn’t go on a cruise together, he would have loved it! Anyway, I have a question regarding the Hasbro Game Show addition to the Fun Ship 2.0. I can’t seem to find out if this show will be included on the Carnival Liberty. We are going on the July 7 sailing to the Eastern Caribbean, and would absolutely LOVE to participate in this game show. On our Canada trip on the Carnival Glory in 2010, I played the “60 Seconds or Less” game show and won! It was so much fun, and that trip on the Glory convinced us to be loyal to Carnival from then on. Thanks in advance for the info, and thanks for listening!

Cheers,

Christina

John says:
Hello Christina Paris,

Please let me start by saying how very sorry I am for your loss. I am sure there are days when you feel so very sad and empty without him by your side and that’s why I hope that the cruise in July will rejuvenate you and your beautiful daughters. We won’t have the game show on the ship then, I am afraid, but I hope you can find some way either here or on my Facebook page to contact me so I can send your girls a prize for being so brave and someone Dad would have been so proud of.

Best wishes to you all.

John

Ian King asked:

I have a question about my cruise because we want a table for three people. The cruise is on the Carnival Imagination on June 6. The reason is that we are very religious people and belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and would rather not be around people who drink and use foul language. I do not know what information you need to achieve this but we are in cabin U107. Thank you.

John says:
Hello Ian King,

I have asked the maître d’ to keep this on file and I know he will do his best to accommodate your request. If possible can you remind me here again but preferably on Facebook if you can two weeks before you sail. Just don’t want to forget. I am sure we can help you out and hope you have a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes to you all.

John

Catherine Manchester-Reynolds asked:
Hi John,

Just wanted to let you know that later this week we will be booking to sail with you again this time on the Carnival Breeze and we could not be more excited. I do have one question and that’s about Athens. I see that there are riots there at the moment but we are due to go there on the inaugural cruise. Is it safe and if not what port would you swap it for. Can’t wait to see you again, will Heidi and Kye be with you?

John says:
Hello Catherine Manchester-Reynolds,

It will be wonderful to see you on our new ship and yes indeed my family will be with me. Now as for Athens, well I see you posted this six weeks ago and everything has become much quieter there. Please don’t worry, obviously we won’t send our guests anywhere that may be considered unsafe and we will continue to monitor the situation. See you soon and let me know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes.

John

Anthony Sullivan asked:
John,

Love the patter on your blog. I am writing to ask two things. Who is going to be the cruise director on the new ship Carnival Breeze? My daughter and future son in law have recently booked a 12-day Med cruise on this ship. July 23 departure from Barcelona. They are traveling from Vancouver, Canada, and celebrating their honeymoon. Anything you could do to make it special would be appreciated!!

Cheers!

Tony

John says:
Hello Anthony Sullivan,

As you may have just read above it will be me and if they drop me a note at the guest services desk when they board I will be honoured to send your daughter and son in law something to say happy honeymoon.

Best wishes to you all.

John

John Vanecek asked:
Hi John,

I have given up trying to get answers from you, but if you read this will you at least pass it on to whoever is in charge of the program? A lot of us who have eight cruises like me, and two more booked, but will not sail before the loyalty program changes, are concerned that after years of trying to attain platinum status, that we will now have to back up and somewhat start over again. Carnival will require 75 points for the second level, where Royal Caribbean requires 30 under their new program. The system based on points accrues twice as fast as Carnival’s. I would hope that since it will take more than one cruise now to make the second level that the least Carnival would be to make one of the perks for second level, which was gold before, VIP check in. Those who have sailed five or six times with Carnival deserve that at least, I have e-mailed Carnival, talked to them on the phone etc, they are nice , but will not give me ANY definite answer as to if I would be “grandfathered” or not to platinum level, since my 2nd booked cruise would put me there under the old system. I really wish you would reply to this, and give me some answers that make sense. Thank you

John says:
Hello John Vanecek,

I know I have not been able to give any details about our loyalty program but I promise I will as soon as I can. All I can do for now is repeat myself and say a huge thank you for your loyalty and repeat the fact that I have been assured that those who are at Platinum level now will not lose their seniority and that those who are “close” will be grandfathered in. Based upon what I do know, and assuming nothing changes between now and the time the new program launches, you will most likely be grandfathered into the new program based on the sailings you have booked. Thanks so much for your understanding and again I hope I am able to tell you more soon.

Best wishes.

John

Bruce Muller asked:

I hope I have a chance to meet you on a cruise because I am very funny like you and want to be a cruise director. I am only 12 but it’s my dream to do but my mom wants me to be a actor and says I would get more money than a cruise director does is this true please

John says:
Hello Bruce Muller,

I hope that you follow your dream and become a cruise director because I bet you would be the best cruise director ever. If you become a famous actor you will have more money and more girlfriends and cars and houses but as a cruise director you will be making people laugh and that’s the best reward in the world. OK, that’s rubbish……..become an actor.

Best wishes.

John

Carla Antiebe asked:

The best employee Carnival has is Ken Byrne. The joy he brings to the dining room each night through his singing and his friendly personality is something that I will never forget. I don’t remember the names of any other maître ds I have had on my seven cruises but Ken is someone I will never forget.

John says:
Hello Carla Antiebe,

He is indeed one of a kind and I promise that he will see this and that the senior management at Carnival does as well.

Best wishes and thanks for this wonderful post.

John

That’s all for today.

OK, let me ask you a question. What is brunch? Not sure? Me neither because I don’t think I have ever said to my family or friends, “Let’s meets for brunch.” Looking at it I think that brunch was invented when enough people thought that breakfast arrived too early and lunch too late. It also suited those who can’t cope with a hot breakfast after waking up, but who love the idea by lunchtime. So basically then…………….brunch is for lazy buggers.

However, one of the new features I am looking forward to seeing on the Carnival Breeze is the Punchliner Comedy Brunch presented by George Lopez. Now this doesn’t mean George himself will be there but what it does mean is that we will have our top comedians entertaining you in five- to six-minute comedy sets while you enjoy a fabulous breakfast/lunch favorites created by our masterful chefs. Now we have started this on the Carnival Miracle already and I have read reports from the guests that it was something they really enjoyed. I know that the comedians were a little nervous about this and, of course, that is understandable, after all it’s hard to be funny to the sound of knives and forks on plates and hoping that people will be able to laugh when they have a huge mouthful of food. But, despite their nerves, I heard that it did indeed go very well and laughter was definitely heard above the chomping. Now this provides yet another great dining and entertainment option to our guests and is a great alternative to the Lido restaurant at lunchtime. In order to do this, we needed to provide you with a brilliant menu, a fun menu that does indeed complement the entertainment………..and you know what? We most obviously did.

Click here to take a look at the menu.

This menu and the comedy performances have already been implemented on the Carnival Miracle and I asked for some feedback from the ship’s senior management. Here is what they had to say.

• Great for late risers, as they can still enjoy eggs and other breakfast favorites
• Great menu – classics and new eats suggested by George Lopez, spicy eggs in the morning are a good treat!
• The shows start the guests off in a good mood for the day
• Additional exposure opportunities for our great comedians
• Comedians and guests enjoy a closer interaction with each other. Comedy-style meet and greet, and guests get involved in the show a bit.
• The shows create a wonderful atmosphere and get people chatting about the comedians.
• The attendance in the dining room has increased during the lunchtime hours with sometimes as much as 700 brunch attendees
• The lines on Lido have reduced, so there is more streamlined service upstairs.
• Brunch is much more appealing with the floating Bloody Mary cart, great touch.
• New uniform aprons for the wait staff. Outfits are more relaxed, and less stuffy.
• Some guests even stop in on the upper level just to see what’s going on, should they wish to look and not eat

I do hope though that while our guests are enjoying the Eggs Benedict that they will give good attention to our comedians because as I mentioned before there was a bit of nervousness on their part when we first approached them with this idea. Working in a dining room is certainly a bit different than a club but they give it their all and from what I’ve heard so far the concept is working fabulously great and the comedians are really enjoying it.

Our-fly on comedians really intrigue me. They fly twice or three times a week and live basically out of a suitcase. I love to laugh though and so often the best comedians die far too young. Peter Sellers, Peter Cook, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, and my favourite, a British comedian called Tommy Cooper who literally died on stage. You know, talk to any of our fly-on comics and they will talk to you about the language of war that is often used when talking about comedy. You see, if Al Ernst or Happy Cole or George Solano or I bet even George Lopez does well you and the audience dies. If they have a terrible show, they die, and the audience kills. I wonder if anyone will heckle them during the brunch? Anyway, as you enjoy your brunch and if you laugh, which you will, please don’t spit bits of Huevos Rancheros over Putu the waiter…….he doesn’t like that very much.

Well, that’s all for today. It’s been a great week yet spoiled a little by some awful things said by people who are apparently my “friends” on Facebook. No, not about me, they can say what they like as they are as entitled to an opinion about me as I am about me. Nope, this was an awful attack on someone who had been taken off the Carnival Magic for urgent lifesaving medical attention. And what they said wasn’t even said on my Facebook page yet when someone sent it to me, I realised that there are some people whose morals are lower than a snakes bollocks.

This made me realise that like all entertainers face hecklers so there are hecklers on the World Wide Web, too. I, for one, should accept it with humility which I don’t always do, but more worryingly anyone who becomes even briefly famous or is mentioned on any social media site now risks heckling by faceless “trolls.”

These days children suffer as their Facebook pages are attacked with the kind of bullying that used to go on in the school yard. Yep, these last days I have once again realised that it’s a troll world we live in and parents like me are going to have to make sure we teach our kids…….. how to have a very thick skin.

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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