Can You Hear Me Now?

May 29, 2012 -

John Heald

These days many flight attendants I have met on planes seem to be more like security guards with nice hair rather than the “Is there anything I can get for you, sir?” attendants of old. This, of course, comes from the world we live in and we have to listen to what they say in much the same way we ask our guests to do on the ship. One of the sure ways to upset Susan or Quentin, the flight attendants, was to use your cell phone while on the plane and anyone found with their phone not in the mysterious “airplane mode” would be thrown to the floor, beaten over the head with the in-flight magazine and tied to their seat until landing when they would be arrested before being driven to Guantanamo Bay accused of being a terrorist.

Well, it seems that the worry about something that costs $40 from Radio Shack bringing down a 747 (thanks to Aaron Sorkin for that line from West Wing) was total bollocks because Virgin Atlantic and Lufthansa and other airlines will allow passengers to make use their personal cell phones during trans-Atlantic and long-haul flights. Now, some of you may be excited by this and will be one of those who directly after takeoff grab their Eyephone and scream “Hello Mum, I can see Buckingham Palace. Gee, it looks so small from up here!” Surely there are very few who will be jumping for joy about this news. I would rather be trapped inside Calvyn’s underpants than trapped in a metal tube next to H82Seaugo screaming down his phone, “I’m on the plane! The food sucks, the service sucks and I will be writing a review about this on”

Personally, I hate this idea and flying does have one respite and that’s I am out of contact with the beards and ship life for a few hours and I sodding love that. Cellular phones rule our lives. The streets where you live and the mall where you shop are now populated by zombies who shuffle along staring at their handsets. Being on a plane and while at sea were, for the most part, the only places left where you were unreachable, where just for a while you could relax, watch a movie, stare at the flight attendant’s bottom and do so knowing you were completely disconnected from the world.

And, of course, using your cell phone in flight means it’s not just the speaking loudly which will be annoying but remember people can now call you so that means throughout a eight-hour trans-Atlantic flight, we will be disturbed by various ring tones from Beyoncé to the theme from James Bond. Yep, flying already is s**t from those bastards who recline their seats immediately after takeoff to those whose arse smells so badly it probably has a tooth growing up there. Actually, it really does not matter if the bad guys try to do us harm because Virgin is a British airline and even if we British passengers saw anything remotely alarming, we wouldn’t say anything because being British, we prefer to die in a horrible explosion at 30,000 feet rather than alert the flight crew because we don’t like to complain. It won’t be long before cell phone rates are cheap that everyone on a cruise ship will be jabbering away on their phones incessantly and that would be a real shame because for most people a cruise is like a flight……a chance to savor the liberating feeling of being disconnected. Long may that continue.

Time for today’s Q and A… we go.

Alan Benowitz asked:
Heald, why do you not carry Fox News channel on your ships? You have CNN which gives no unbiased news and to most Americans is known as the communist news network. Other lines carry Fox — why doesn’t Carnival LISTEN?! And see what their customers want. Fox is the news station of choice for most Americans and as Americans are your customer base, you need to LISTEN!

John says:
Hello Alan Benowitz

Thank you for taking the time to write and while I am sure that your comment will promote much debate, the bottom line is that at the moment Fox News is not part of our programming across the fleet. So, for now, you will have to endure the other network. Best wishes.


Scott Troeger asked:

My wife (Joni) and I have enjoyed many relaxing cruises on a variety of “Fun Ships” including the inaugural voyage of the Carnival Magic with you. In all of this time we have never asked for anything, but wanted to know if you could help us with something for another family. This other family will be joining us on the Carnival Conquest out of New Orleans on Jan. 13, 2013.  This cruise is to celebrate the Dad’s return from Afghanistan where he is currently serving as a U.S. Navy SeaBee.  These are wonderful people that we met on board the Carnival Fascination in July or August of 2010.  They are excited and this will be the first cruise for the two boys ages five and seven.

What I would like to ask is:

1.  Can you arrange for them to be seated with us at dinner?

2.  Is it possible for them to board with us?  We are Platinum guests

And it would be nice to treat them to VIP boarding.

If I’m asking too much, I understand.  We intend to do some things for them ourselves, but thought the two items above could be a nice treat from Carnival.  Thank you very much.

Scott Troeger

John says:
Hello Scott Troeger

You must be very proud and I will do all I can to help you. Obviously, we are sometime away from your cruise so please can you send me this again in early December and I will see what we can do to make this brilliant cruise even more so. Best wishes to you all.


Frank and Catherine Whelan asked:
Our son, Callum, was the valedictorian from Canyon High School and will be going to USC in the fall. We will be taking him on the Carnival Paradise for a cruise June 11 and would like to arrange a private tour of the ships bridge and engine room for him and as a gesture of congratulations, I would hope that Carnival would not charge us for this. I will make sure that we tell the Orange County Register about this which gets Carnival great press. I would also like Callum to be presented on stage at the show for all he has achieved. This is our third Carnival cruise and I hope that you will make it very special for Callum.

John says:
Hello Frank and Catherine Whelan

How proud you must be of Callum and I am sure he is going to continue to be a success at university. While I am not able to offer a free tour of the ship, we do have the Behind the Fun tour that takes you behind the scenes and I can imagine that if you purchased this unique view on what happens behind the crew only door that Callum would be thrilled. You can purchase this tour on board and I truly recommend it. I will ask the CD to send Callum something from me to wish him all the very best in what I am sure is going to be a very bright future. Best wishes to all and have a brilliant cruise.


Don Boice asked:
Just wondering is the cruise director schedule for July-Dec is out yet, or will be soon?  The spreadsheet on the blog currently stops in June and I was curious to know who the CD for my next cruise in July (Carnival Magic 7/22-29) is going to be. An aside, my compliments on how you handle some of the complaints here.  I just scratch my head at the petty complaints/finding something to bitch at in the hopes of getting free stuff.  I would have flown off the handle at someone long ago and been out of a job.  Hope to see you on a cruise someday.

John says:
Hello Don Boice

I am sure by now you have seen that I have posted the new summer CD schedule and my apologies for the delay. The CD will be James Charlton whom I know you will truly enjoy. Thanks so much for those very kind words and if there is anything I can do for you please let me know.  Best wishes.


Alice Stockland asked:
John, as I did not get a comment card last week please can you tell the beards that Alania my cabin steward on Carnival Dream last week was the best I have had in my 22 cruises. Alania was perfect and I shall miss not seeing her wonderful smile and her sparkle every morning. I sail next on the Sensation for cruise number 23 in May.

John says:
Hello Alice Stockland

Thank you, Alice, for your amazing loyalty and for this wonderful post that highlights a special lady in Alania. I will send this to her and her supervisors so that they can see that they have one of the best working on board. I hope that cruise number 23 was just as good and if there is ever anything I can do for you please let me know.  Best wishes.


Bobbie Biro asked:
First off, I would like to say, “My family and I had a wonderful cruise on the Carnival Paradise 3/24-3/29!”  Second, finally met Wee Jimmy (second cruise with him as CD), and as usual he was FANTASTIC! A couple of items I would like to address 1. When at a shopping talk

That was scheduled not in the theater, but on promenade close to the Karaoke, it was very difficult to hear what was being said.  2. There has been some improvements in the debarkation, but I think there still should be a de-brief in person.  I am a Platinum card holder and

understand most of what will happen, but there are some who do not and did guide them in the right direction for answers.  Last, but not least, CAN’T wait until my next cruise!  Please tell Wee Jimmy, the purple lady says HI!

John says:
Hello Bobbie Biro

Wee Jimmy is truly an asset and his on stage personality is fantastic, isn’t it? I am so glad you had fun and I will make sure I pass on your comments. I have no idea why we would schedule a shopping talk on Promenade Deck and if so we should have provided a microphone. As for debarkation, well the days of us gathering all the guests in the lounge are long gone but we need it seems to make sure that we get the message across more clearly. Thanks, Bobbie, and thank you also for your loyalty. Best wishes.


Janis McClure asked:
John, I want to compliment Jennifer Nunez in the customer service dept. I called to ask about gift certificates which she helped me with and then mentioned a problem I had with my booking. Dhe finished with the gift certificate and the asked me how she could help with my problem. John she went above and beyond to get a resolution that was better than I had hoped. Carnival is well represented by her and I will keep booking because when they say customer care they really do. Thank you for all you have done on our past cruises to make them so much fun. Looking forward to Carnival Triumph in May and again in November.

John says:
Hello Janis Mcclure

It is always wonderful to receive compliments about shoreside personnel and it seems Jennifer is worthy of praise indeed. I shall make sure she sees this and her supervisors too so thanks so much for taking the time to write. I hope you will let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.


Andi Sullivan asked:
Have you seen the size of the cheese plate you offer in the dining room? What a joke. Four thin slices of cheese. You should be embarrassed and instead of sitting there taking the admiration of your sickening cheerleaders, why not look at the product and see where you fall short big time. I cruise next on the Carnival Destiny in August.

John says:
Hello Andi Sullivan

I love cheese. In fact, let’s have a look at some cheese, shall we, in the company of the Monty Python team:

Thanks for the post and please remember that you can order as many cheese plates as you like so if one is not enough, please let your waiter know and he or she will bring you more. Best wishes and have a brilliant time on the Carnival Destiny.


Carla Fuentes asked:
Booking number is ******. Carnival Breeze. Dear John, I’ve seen on your blog that you have arranged special requests for dining and was hoping you could please help me with one. We’re sailing on the Carnival Breeze with you as our cruise director, of course. We will be celebrating our 58th wedding anniversary. This may sound a bit strange but last cruise on the Carnival Freedom, we were given a table for two and although we love each other very much we really enjoy the company of others. So my request is to please have the maître d put us at a table with other passengers. Thank you on behalf of my husband and I.

John says:
Hello Carla Fuentes

What a wonderful celebration and I can see that I will be here with you in July so I promise to do all I can to make this anniversary cruise very special for you. I will speak to Chris and Ken the maître ds here and we will make sure your table request is granted. I wish you a brilliant time and many more happy years together. Best wishes to you both.


Anna Beaman:
Hi John! My husband and I are contemplating a cruise for the annual summer vacation, but I couldn’t bear to cruise without you ever again. We cruised with you a few years back on the Carnival Freedom and it was the best cruise we’d ever been on and I think it was mostly due to you. I lay on the deck each morning and looked forward to watching you on the big screen.

With all that being said, will you be the director on any cruises leaving from the US east coast this summer?  If so, please tell!

John says:
Hello Anna Beaman

Thank you that is so very kind of you and I am thrilled to see that you had so much fun. I am afraid I won’t be on the east coast until November when the Carnival Breeze returns to Miami from her European season but I hope this does not stop you from booking another brilliant Carnival cruise. If you have any questions or need anything please let me know. Best wishes and hope we sail together one day soon.



That’s all for today.

I had been posting the cruise directors’ bios and need to get back to doing this because I still believe we have the best in the business and they can make a difference to your cruise. Today, I want to feature a lady who I know well and who has rapidly become so very comfortable in the CD chair. Here is Jaime Dee.


Jaime Dee – Cruise Director

Jaime is originally from Michigan; she grew up with an entertainment background and has loved to be on stage since the age of eight. Jaime worked in Michigan as a theater camp counselor for 10 years and performing in interactive dinner theater comedy shows. In 2007, Jaime graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in community relations and psychology. After sailing as a guest, Jaime set out to fulfill her dreams of traveling and helping others by applying to work for Carnival. She has been working for Carnival Cruise Lines for five years and is grateful to have the opportunity to have a positive impact on Carnival guest’s vacation memories. Jaime now has worked on 10 Carnival ships and has been fortunate enough to visit most of the Caribbean and Mexican Riviera, the Baltic, the Mediterranean and South America. Jaime has a passion for people, and a nurturing spirit, and appreciates each day and each opportunity to make a positive impact on board.


Congratulations, Jaime, as I see so many positive comments about you here and on my Facebook page, you should be proud.

Well it is getting very busy here and preparations are under way, for our sailing to Venice which will be in the afternoon of May 31 and we should arrive inside the canal at Venice on the night of June 2. Let me show a timeline of events.

May 29:          Carnival Breeze Handover Festivities & Dinner

May 31:          Carnival Breeze departs from Fincantieri Shipyard – sailing to Venice begins

June 2:           Carnival Breeze arrives in Venice in the late evening

June 3:           Carnival Breeze sails from Venice on her inaugural 12-day voyage

We will be sailing with approximately 200 invited friends, family and retired Carnival captains and chief engineers as well as about two million beards who are here to support us and help us prepare for the first cruise. The ship is looking fantastic and I hope you have been enjoying all the photos I have been posting on Facebook. Now for those who are unfamiliar with this class of ship, here are some facts about your Carnival Breeze…

Gross tonnage: 130,000

Length: 1004 feet

Beam: 122 feet

Maximum draft: 27 feet

Maximum capacity: Guest: 4,891

Maximum capacity: Crew: 1,386

Here are the senior officers:

Master: Vincenzo Alcaras
Chief Engineer: Antonio Colotti
Captain: Stefano Battinelli – he will take over as captain when Captain Alcaras goes on vacation
Hotel Director: Pierre B. Camilleri
Staff Captain: Nicola Iaccarino
Staff Chief Engineer: Fabien Gervaise
Guest Services Manager: Ana Maria Dumitru
F&B Manager: Ivaylo Hristov
Housekeeping Manager: Niksa Pelic
HR Director: Dorothy Ziemba

I will have much more news on the days ahead. We are all very excited and really want to get going and show off this fantastic ship. Some people may think it’s far too early to say this but having been here for a month I think I am in a position to do so. If you take the decor, quality, facilities, dining choices and the crew, I think she scores an almost consistent row of 10s and will be our best ever ship to date. Yep, I truly believe that, I really do. She may look like her sisters Carnival Dream and Carnival Magic on the outside but let me tell you that on the inside ……..she is incomparable.

But hold on a moment I hear you cry, she looks fantastic, chic and elegant but is she still fun inside? Good question. Can you truly score a row of perfect 10s and still have that Carnival style of fun? Think about it and in doing so let’s think about Rodger Federer. I say this because there is tennis on my cabin TV at the moment and while he is a brilliant tennis player but can you imagine him putting a piece of dog poo in Rafael Nadal’s tennis shoe? Can you imagine him standing on a chair doing the YMCA dance…naked? Nope, you can’t can you. In short, then, to be brilliant, to be the best, do you have to be boring? The answer, of course, is no. John McEnroe wasn’t boring. LeBron James isn’t boring and neither is Tiger Woods! So to answer my own question, yes you can have a perfect row of 10s and yes you can be fantastic and the best and still be full of fun. And the proof of this is of course…….your Carnival Breeze. Wish you were here.



Your friend,

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.