SPACE TO CRUISE

July 19, 2012 -

John Heald

Last week, someone posted a photo on my Facebook page. It showed a Carnival ship in space, taking a cruise around the moon. It was a great photo and I have been thinking about this the past few days and have been asking myself if indeed this is the future of cruising?

The British beard, Richard Branson, who owns many Virgins is currently engaged in this and sooner rather than later, space cruising will then be with us. Personally, I don’t get it and I would rather spend my vacation swimming in Lake Chernobyl or even in Paris. There is no air and, obviously, every day will be a space day, which is like a sea day. For a while, the lack of gravity is undoubtedly fun. You can laugh at how everyone’s hair looks like Don King’s and you can have a few hours of fun convincing your late sitting table mates that the brown dollop of goo that is floating past their faces is chocolate melting cake and not a piece of poo that has floated out of the toilet.

But then what? On a Carnival cruise, the sea days are fun but I don’t think bingo in space, the hairy chest contest and my Bedtime Story are going to work. So space days will be beyond boring. The problem is, therefore, even worse because on a Carnival cruise, we have port days where you can lay on the beach in Cozumel, go dog sledding in Alaska or take a gondola ride in Venice.  But you can’t do that in space. There’s no Punchliner Comedy Club. You can’t even take a walk around deck at night, unless you want to be sucked into oblivion. You just have to sit there looking out of the window, at nothing at all, for half a million miles, wondering whether the rocket you are sitting in, which has the word Virgin written on the side, will, in fact, let you go……………..all the way.

Now I am sure I read somewhere that to be an astronaut and to go into space you had to be the best of the best, the fittest of the fittest. You had to have the stamina of someone who can do a triathlon– someone with the strength and guile of a Special Forces soldier and the brains of an Oxford University professor. For space travel, you had to be basically Superman or Wonder Woman. Not anymore. Basically if you have enough money, you can be fat, thin, thick and not even have the physical strength to rip a tissue……………..if you have the cash……….you are an Astronaut.

Space cruising then………..is it the future? Will Calvyn and I soon be entertaining you on a trip to Uranus?

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

Sarah Mörsdorf asked:
Dear Mr. Heald,

I am a German student of tourism management in my last year. At this time, I’m preparing my bachelor thesis with the topic of social media use by the cruise industry. Your use of social media is of course an important part of my thesis. So I wanted to ask you whether it may be possible to ask you some questions?

Kind regards,
Sarah Mörsdorf

John says:
Hello Sarah Morsdof

First of all, my apologies for the delay in responding and for being really thick and not knowing how to get the umlaut above the “o” of your name. Yes, indeed, I would be happy to help, so please send the questions here to the blog and I will answer them as quickly as possible. I wish you much success in your studies.

Best wishes.

John

Henrietta asked:

Is there no chance of Carnival ever sailing their ships to Montreal? We have to pay so much in air fare than Americans so and it’s not fair to do this to us. Why do we have to pay hundreds of dollars to get to the ships? Americans have it easy and that shows Carnival favors American customers and not care about us Canadians.

John says:
Hello Henrietta

First of all, I realise that Canadians, like other nationalities, have to come from afar to get to the ships and, indeed, in some cases, so do Americans who have to travel distances to get to the ship of their choice. I promise that we really do love Canadians sailing with us and we do all we can to make that happen. We have looked at cruises to Montreal but the bridge (forgive me, I forget the name) is too low for even our smaller ships to go under which is why we have only gone as far as Quebec which we did on Carnival Legend in 2002 and had a brilliant time there, I might add. I hope you find the right cruise for you soon and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.

Best wishes.

John

Robert Onsgard asked:
John,

I just got off the ELATION on June 2nd.  I would like to say a few things about this cruise. It was my 22 Carnival cruise.

1) Linda and David Powell, Steve Owen and I were invited to a captain’s dinner.  What a wonderful experience.  We enjoyed it very much.

2) I had FAXED to Carnival in Miami (305-406-6477) a request for a stockholder’s OBC. When I got on board the ship, it was not on my record.  Guest Services scanned the documents and I received my OBC three days later.  I thank them for the great service.

3) One evening, I went to the Drama Bar for my after dinner smoke.  The space there for smokers is limited to eight seats. There was a family sitting there. Mother and Dad were drinking and smoking. The two children, ages around 10-13, I think, were also sitting at the bar and NOT drinking or smoking. We had to stand behind them to smoke and had a difficult time to order a drink.  Why are children allowed to sit at a bar?

4)Because we could NOT smoke on the adult Serenity deck, the only places I could smoke was by the pool on the Lido deck or aft of the Verandah deck. There were so many children in the hot tubs and running around that is was not comfortable. When the adult Serenity deck is all the way aft on the ship, why is it NON-smoking? If not, then I have to smoke with the children around.

5)The Jekyll & Hyde Nightclub was listed as a smoking area. During the day and early evening this was occupied by Camp Carnival children. It was only a smoking area later in the evening.  Therefore, the ONLY inside area to smoke was at the limited seating of the Drama bar. Thank you, John, for reading this. I look forward to seeing you on the Breeze in Feb. 2013 out of Miami.

John says:
Hello Robert Onsgard

Thanks for this excellent post. I have said recently that if we are going to offer smoking areas, then they must be just that, smoking areas, and not half attempts at this. I have sent your comments to the ship because we need to do better here, for sure, and we will. Smoking and non-smoking remains an area that will provoke different opinions and what we have to do is make sure we do our best to make sure both parties are as happy as possible and in this case, it looks like we could indeed do better. My apologies and I thank you so much for bringing this to my attention.

Best wishes.

John

Maxine Evans asked:
John,

My husband and I are Platinum VIP passengers of Carnival and wondered why you don’t reserve seats at shows like Royal and NCL do. I have read your new benefits that show you have very little value for your top VIP PASSENGERS. A reserved seat at the shows is a way to show loyalty and if the other cruise lines can do it, so can Carnival. My husband and I should be able, as VIPs, to come out of dinner and be escorted to the best seats in the house because it’s benefits like this that may find me booking with your competitor!

John says:
Hello Maxine Evans

We truly do value your loyalty and I hope that we will see you many more times cruising with us. We don’t, though, have any plans on reserving seats for Platinum guests or indeed Diamond guests, for that matter. I have spoken with the beards about this recently and we all feel that with so many Platinum guests each cruise on each ship, that this would be difficult to control, so for now, we won’t be adding this to the benefit program. I do hope, as I said, that we will see you soon.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Chris Bloom asked:
John –

I have an issue with Carnival that I would like to see addressed. My name on my passport is “Christopher,” however, Carnival knows me as “Christophe” because of the 10-character limit in their database system.

Normally, this isn’t a problem, but when trying to use your self-service Kiosk at embarkation, I scan my passport and I am not found…because my passport has one extra character on my name and Carnival doesn’t.

Do you know of any way to change this behavior? I am currently filling out our online check-in for our next cruise and, again, I am reminded that I am not actually who CCL says I am 😉

John says:
Hello Chris Bloom

I had no idea that this was the case and I thank you for letting me know. It seems to me that we should be able to fix this and I will send this on to the right people and will ask someone to contact you personally in this regard. Thanks again and my apologies for the inconvenience this causes you. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

Best wishes.

John

Martin Bedford asked:
John,

Last year we were on the Miracle and saw one of the funniest comedians we have ever seen. He was a black fella and heavy set and had us in tears. He pulled me up on stage with two other passengers and we became backup singers. Can you tell me his name and where he is performing now? Thanks.

John says:
Hello Martin Bedford

I think you are talking about Thomas Brown who does that routine with the three chaps you mentioned about in your post. He is a great comedian and works all of our ships so it’s hard to give you a schedule but he still works for us and is still making our guests laugh out loud. I hope you get to see him soon.

Best wishes.

John

Donald Yates asked:

We have a group of four sailing on the Breeze Sept. 19, 2012. Are you going to be the C D then? I think you were the C D on our first cruise. This will be our eighth carnival cruise.

John says:
Hello Donald Yates

I will indeed be the CD and it will be wonderful to welcome you to this brilliant new ship. If there is anything I can for you, please let me know and I will see you soon.

Best wishes.

John

Toby Sarafin asked:

If Carnival disturbs us at 5:30am with an announcement for medical people, then the least they should do is let the passengers know what happened and why the announcement was made. I was on the Valor last week and at 5:30am, we were awoken by a booming voice shouting bright star and the number of the cabin. This was repeated three minutes later and then silence. We were not told ever why this was done or why and if it was made for medical purposes, why were we not told the next morning the condition of the passenger and what happened? This left a sour taste in my mouth and wonder today what Carnival is hiding.

John says:
Hello Toby Sarafin

The page for “Brightstar” is indeed a page for instant emergency medical response and paging through the emergency system is not something we do unless it is truly needed. In this case, it would have been done to make sure one of your fellow guests got that attention it was felt she urgently needed. Obviously. we can’t disclose to guests why the page was made and what the condition of the guest was either on the ship or here on the blog. The CD could have made an announcement the next morning apologising for the early announcement and I will certainly mention this to him. I hope though that you understand that making this announcement could have saved someone’s life and that will remove any “sour taste” you may have. I hope you had a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes

John

Anthony Amento asked:
John,

My wife and I just got off the Valor 8-day Exotic Southern Carribean cruise. We had an amazing time! The food was Excellent, especially the Chef’s Table. I am so impressed with Carnival’s Players Club.  If you love to gamble like I do, then there is no better place to do it! I was given free play in the casinos and free drinks by the second day of the cruise. The staff was attentive all over the ship and I never once had to look for a server to get a beverage. I have sailed nine times with Carnival as well as a few competitors and I can tell you that Carnival treats my wife and me better so we will continue to cruise with you. Next cruise will be Liberty in December. Can’t wait for Guy’s Burger Joint and the rest of the 2.0 features.

Thanks again!

John says:
Hello Anthony Amento

Thanks for the great review and the wonderful advert for Ocean Players Club. I have sent your very kind words to the right people both on board and ashore and I hope the wonderful time you have had means we will see you again very soon.

Best wishes and thanks again.

John

Haidee asked:
Hi John,

Our family is planning to cruise from Galveston on Triumph with my mother-in-law who came to the U.S.A. on a B2 visa(nonimmigrant visa of aliens). Her visa expired one month ago but she has a valid form I-94 issued by CBP. According to the Automatic Revalidation Fact Sheet on the CBP website http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/travel/id_visa/revalidation.ctt/revalidation.pdf as well as stated on the U.S Department of State website http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/info/info_1299.html, my mother is eligible to take a cruise to Mexico and return to the U.S.A.

However, one of our friend’s family with the same situation was denied to board Carnival Triumph earlier, even after showing the staff the ‘automatic revalidation fact sheet’ on the CBP’s website. It looks that there is a big risk for us to be denied boarding Triumph if the staff happens to be ignorant of this particular rule. I would appreciate it very much if you could help to confirm that we can book the cruise and the Triumph staff will honor the government official rules. Thank you very much and I looking forward to hearing from you!

John says:
Hello Haidee

I have sent this to a colleague today along with your e-mail address as it is best, I think, to make sure that they look at this as they have far more knowledge on current immigration laws than I do. So someone will be in touch soon and I hope they bring you positive news. Please let me know if you have any other questions and I hope you all get to enjoy this wonderful cruise.

Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today and thanks so much for all your kind words. It is time to meet one of our cruise directors and this time it is a little different. It’s different, first of all, because we are welcoming someone home and that is Chris Roberts who you may remember left us to get married and has since become a proud father to a beautiful son. Chris has returned the cruise director fold and both guests and his colleagues are very happy about that indeed. So the second reason why today’s “meet the CD” section is different is because rather than just post his bio, I asked Chris (who we all affectionately call Bubba) to write a piece for the blog about his current posting on board the Carnival Spirit in Alaska. And here he is:

Greetings John & the Blog world….

It’s a beautiful day in Ketchikan. The Carnival Spirit is about to drop the lines as we will head south to Victoria, British Colombia, Canada, which is our last stop before heading back to Seattle, Washington.

This coming Seattle I will be signing off the Carnival Spirit to return back home to spend some time with my wife and son. Plus we will be expecting company, as shortly after I come home we are expecting our second baby which is due in mid August. I have had a great time here for the past six weeks. It is wonderful to be back in Alaska. I wish my family could have come to stay with me while I was covering here, but perhaps next year when the Miracle comes to Alaska I will be able to take the whole Roberts team.

In my return to Carnival this year, I have taken on the role of “the vacation guy” who goes out and covers for the other Cruise Directors who need to take their break. So it’s been six weeks here, six weeks there. The Carnival Spirit is my third ship this year.

It’s been over two years since I was last on her, and I must say the new water park that they have added on here is amazing. The Green Thunder waterslide is very impressive and scary as hell. I have been told it is the fastest waterslide at sea, and yes, people do ride it in Alaska. In fact, in about 45 minutes I will be meeting the entertainment staff and some of our guests for the Polar Bear Swim which is always fun.

The Carnival Spirit will be going to Australia later this year and all of the crew are very excited about doing the crossing. Stu Dunn will return this coming Seattle and he’ll begin the final preparations for getting the ship over there. It’s only about 100 days away. Seems like a long time, but I am sure that it will be here before you know it. When I have worked the Carnival Spirit in the past we would always have a very large group, sometimes up to 400, Australians come and sail with us for the Hawaii cruise and one Alaska cruise. They would call it the Fire and Ice Cruise. They loved it on the Fun Ships, so I think taking the Carnival Spirit to Australia is going to be great. Perhaps one day I will get to go and cover again for Stu when the ship is already down there.

My time in Alaska was brief. I am used to being up here the whole season, but I did manage to get to do quite a bit. I learned about Alaskan Wilderness Survival in Ketchikan. It’s a new tour we are now offering. I went out with some of the Goodtime Girls in Skagway on a Haunted History tour. I love hearing all of the old gold rush stories. It’s funny cause I just got done watching the TV show Deadwood, and now when I wander around Skagway I can almost feel like what it would have been in the late 1800’s. Here’s my favorite pic I took while in Skagway.

The best part about being up here in Alaska is the food. I love getting out there and having the freshest fish and crab. I really wanted to get out fishing while I was up here. It was my heart’s desire to catch a halibut in my time, but apparently the season was late this year, so I had to settle for halibut fish and chips and a tasty bowl of clam chowder.

Well, sorry to be short, but I will have to go now for that dip in the pool. Can’t believe I have to pack tomorrow. I am excited to go home to see my family. I have missed them very much. Thank goodness for Skype. Not sure where I am off to next, but I probably won’t be back out till the end of September or maybe early October with the little one on the way. Got my son this hat. I hope he likes it. He seems to like frogs. The last picture is the view from my cabin when we cruised through Tracy Arm this week. The weather has been wonderful. So long for now…..Chris

P.S.  It was such a nice day outside we had loads of people for our polar bear swim, plus there were folks on the deck sunbathing, so we all went down the Green Thunder water slide.  It was amazing.  Climbing to the top of the staircase, I looked around to realize I am standing up higher than the funnel.  It was awesome to see the mountains of Alaska from overlooking the top of the funnel.

When it was my turn to get in, they close you inside this glass looking container.  The door slowly shuts, building the anticipation.  A voice then speaks to you inside the container, counting down to the drop.  The floor opens and you are going 40+mph.  The best I could describe it – reminds me of when I watch Star Trek or Star Wars, when they go through worm holes or jump to light speed– because that’s how fast it is.  Truly awesome.

Thanks, Chris, and it’s great to have the Bubba Chronicles back. Many congratulations to you and Mrs Roberts and we wish you and your family the very best, mate.

Yawning. Yep, it’s all about being tired and being bored, right? Well, actually, yes, it is but Uncle Google also told me that it, “yawning,” could indicate a whole range of other states and emotions including stress and ummmm……….even a desire for rumpy pumpy. Bugger. I wish I had none of that because whenever I used to chat up a girl, they would yawn. I took that as a sign they were not interested in me when, in fact, they all wanted to rip my underpants off. When I yawn it means I am tired or I am genuinely bored to the core and I am sure that’s the reason you yawn as well. If that is true, well, there is a cure and here is Eric the Beard to tell you what that cure is:

Let’s face it, the Internet is littered with boring. Boring sites, boring posts, boring photos. Well, it’s time we fight back against this abomination of boring. It’s time we Yawn Bomb the bejebus out of it!

All you have to do is go to yawn-bomb.com, enter a URL and you’ll get a link you can email or share to yawn-bomb your boring friends and get them to think twice about posting boring content.

It’s Carnival Cruise Lines’ latest effort to get people to have as much fun as possible, as often as possible, whether they’re packing more vacation into their vacation at sea or on the web.

INFO:
The Yawn Bomb is a social tactic meant to encourage people to stop being boring and start having fun, created by Carnival Cruise Lines.

How it works:

·     When a friend sends you or posts something boring, Yawn Bomb them to tell them to stop being boring and start having fun.
·     First, go to yawn-bomb.com.
·     Paste a URL into the field and get your Yawn Bomb link.
·     Share the link with your boring friend.
·     Your friend will open the link, which will be the link they sent originally, but with a video of a person or funny animal yawing overlaid.
·     A message then pops up telling them to stop being boring and to start Yawn-bombing.
·     It’s a clever way to position Carnival Cruise Lines as the authority of fun on and off the sea.

Thanks, Eric, so let’s all use yawn-bomb.com to cure our boredom and have some fun while doing so.

So this cruise is nearly over and it’s been a busy and successful one. The new VIFP party went well with 700 attending and the new drinks and food items we served being very well received indeed. The only bugger was that we didn’t have the Platinum and Diamond pins which are on the way in a container and should be in Barcelona when we arrive. So, meanwhile, we took all of our Platinum and Diamond VIFPs addresses and we will be mailing them their pin in the next few days.

We have had 4,500 guests which has brought with it the usual idiosyncrasies, from the lady who wanted to be part of the show and who had to be escorted off stage, to the chap who requested I have sexual relationships with myself when we charged him for some Dayquil and this comment here:

From: BREEZE GUEST SERVICES
Sent: Wednesday, July 17, 2012 9:42 PM
To: BREEZE CRUISE DIRECTOR
Cc: BREEZE ASSISTANT CRUISE DIRECTOR; BREEZE GUEST SERVICES MANAGER; BREEZE GUEST SERVICES SUPERVISOR; BREEZE GUEST SERVICES
Subject: Stateroom **** – Re No religious services and other comments

Good evening,

Please be advised that Mrs. ———- is expecting a call from you, You met her last night at the show. She is now in her cabin and stated she would wait for you to call. This is the guest, John, who has stated that we have no services and that she is not happy that we only offer “drinking and casino,” those were her words. I have opened an icare case number 2374A1981.

Thank you and best regards,

Guest Services Supervisor, Carnival Breeze

Well, as you know, we don’t have a comprehensive Christian, Catholic or Jewish program on the ships. The Spirit class has a chapel but that aside, rightly or wrongly, we rarely have services on board our ships. This was her first cruise and she seemed very dismayed by the fact that we had guests drinking and using the casino– neither of which she agrees with and is certainly not part of her life or her husband’s. She also felt the shows were inappropriate as were parts of my humour and what surprised me the most was that she said how uncomfortable they had been around other guests who were drinking and……well…………having fun.

While I apologised and showed my obvious concern, I did ask her if she had done any research on what taking a cruise meant. Did she not know that we had a casino and that alcohol was served?  I really don’t understand and I say this with respect. How can you book a cruise on the Carnival Breeze and not expect shows and a casino. How can you be surprised that other guests are having a cocktail or seven and having a good time to be part of the menu?

But I can understand how she feels. It must be like a vegetablist being told they have to work in a slaughterhouse. I felt very sorry for this lady and her husband who are “devout Christians” and who really were like fishes out of water and there was very little I could do about it. There are rare occasions when you have to accept that cruising is not for everyone and that every now and then, you meet someone who you know will never step foot on a cruise ship again…………. and this was one of those times. I felt genuinely sorry for them and yet there was nothing I could do to make them happy and I hate it when that happens.

OK, it’s time for bed. Yep, I am writing this portion of today’s blog ummm…….yesterday…….at 12:10am. Now before I do, I need to kill a few people. The first few, I will shoot with a machine gun, and then I may swap to the mortar cannon.

I am doing this on an Eye Pad. Yep, an Eye Pad. You see, the Hasbro Game Show that I hosted for the first time this cruise is controlled by the Emcee – in this case, me….from an Eye Pad. The trivia questions, the gestures and other games that are projected onto the side screens are all controlled by the host and the Eye Pad. Now Butch was here before me and he obviously downloaded some games onto there and along with a game involving, ummmm pinning something on something that isn’t a donkey…………he also put a Zombie kill game on there called Zombie Air Sniper. It’s a game where you are in a helicopter shooting zombies before they get in the house and eat your pancreas for supper. I must admit, that in a lonely cabin without the joy of Heidi and Kye, it is the perfect antidote to loneliness.

Heidi has the Wii Wii game at home and I think it’s a load of bollocks. She plays Wii Wii tennis and exercise stuff and occasionally, as a special treat while Kye is asleep, she will go bowling ………why? What’s the point. You can play tennis in real life, so what’s the point of replicating it on a computer?

Ryan F. who used to be a metrosexual cruise director and is now a metrosexual beard in the Miami office, plays golf games on his Wiiboxstation? If you want to play golf, put some stupid looking pants on, go outside and pick up a golfing bat, you lazy sod.

Proper computer games are the ones that let you do things you can’t actually do. I want to shoot an alien that looks like Judge Judy and Calvyn’s love child right between two of its eight eyes but I can hardly do that on Lido deck, can I?

I want fantasy on when I play these games. I want to pick up a plasma rifle and kill as many zombies as I can before I go to sleep. Yes, I’m rubbish at it and usually get eaten in the first five minutes but, I would rather play this than the “running and jumping” that Wii fans seem to enjoy.

Well, I am not 10 years old so I don’t want to run and jump. I want to take control of a plasma rifle and fight evil monsters with names like Zombie Flesh Eater, Spawn of Evil, Giant Death Spider from Hell……….and Dave.

The cruise is nearly over and on Sunday, we will start again. What has been the highlight for me these past 12 days? Well, that’s an easy one to answer. His name is Louis and thanks to Carnival and the Make A Wish Foundation, he has taken the cruise he always wanted to take and all of us who have met him, all hope and pray that there will be many more cruises in his future.

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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