THIS BLOG IS GOING DOWN UNDER

September 7, 2012 -

John Heald

So here I am back in the cruise director chair again which up until this morning was brilliantly occupied by Butch Begovitch who will return to be the permanent CD here after the crossing. He has left the ship in good order and really has left me with no major headaches…… except one. You see we have a new staff member who is going to require some “counseling,” as tofu eaters would call it.

I can’t be nice here — there is no other way of describing this so I will simply say…..he smells. He smells like a dead skunk buried under a pile of yak crap. When this chap removes his jacket Lido deck, even the French guests, gag and put face masks on. Butch didn’t say anything and so I have to be the bad guy and, as anyone of you reading this will know, this is not an easy subject to talk about with anyone. I asked my assistant Calvyn about this and he suggested buying him a huge can of deodorant and leaving it and a note in his cabin that says something like “You are doing a great job but please spray some deodorant on and, for the love of God, have a relationship with your shower”……signed Anon!

Right. So rather than being honest and sensitive and taking this 20-something staff member aside for a discreet word about his hygiene problems and that his cabin mate has requested a hazmat suit or a cabin change, should I be a coward and drop off some armpit perfume in their cabin and run like hell to make sure I am not seen doing it? Ummmmm, well, yes, I actually considered it. Now some of you may be shaking your head and saying “No, John. That’s not good advice, you must tell him in person.” Bugger. But you’re right, of course, although I know that this chap will never thank me for telling him he smells like LeBron James’ thong. Seriously, I think he would hate me less if I told him he was fired.

But I sit here, in the same pair of underpants I have been wearing for three days, thanks to bastard airlines losing my luggage, I know my underpants don’t smell nice. I know that you could grow potatoes in the crotch but I also know that later on today in Barcelona, my suitcase which was found yesterday and will be arriving shortly and so these will be washed and I will have a clean pair on. But I also know that if it became an issue and others around me both guests and crew couldn’t stand to be near me because I stank then yes, of course, I would want to know. So this afternoon after sailing, I have a meeting with him and will be all warm and cuddly and nice and gently tell him that some have noticed an unpleasant aroma and that he smells like a turd sandwich.

Time for today’s Q&A but before I start, I need to mention something. Yesterday on Facebook I asked if people would be OK with me at some point stopping the Q&A portion of the blog and it seems the majority did agree. I thought about this a lot and did so for a few reasons I won’t bore you with here. The main one though is the time constraints and the fact that I am answering anywhere from 50 to 100 each day on Facebook as well. Now I was reminded by my colleagues in Miami that two other considerations should be looked at before doing this. The first is that not everyone is on Facebook and so the blog is their only way to ask a question and, secondly, that the Q&A section is very popular indeed and has been a stalwart of the blog since I started it back in 1876. Anyway, I am going to make a decision this week and will let you know but for now, here is today’s Q&A………….off we go.

Mary Wilson asked:
Hi John: This will be the first cruise with Carnival for my hubby and me. It’s also our 10th wedding anniversary. We are sailing on the Carnival Victory 10/14/12. We are both excited about getting away, celebrating and seeing the islands. I have been reading reviews regarding the Carnival Victory and I cannot find any positive posts. Can you please help? Thanks and have a great day 😉 Mary Wilson

John says:
Hello Mary Wilson
It is strange how some ships get more reviews than others and one ship that I don’t see much about here or on Facebook is the Carnival Victory and honestly I have no idea why. I can tell you that on the current rankings of the fleet, she is at number 7 and I the reviews that I have seen have been positive. Regardless, I want you to remember something and that is that reviews are based on personal opinion and if you simply walk up the gangway ready to relax and have fun then trust me, you will indeed relax and have fun. So get ready for a great cruise and I promise the staff and crew will be ready to serve and entertain you. If there is anything I can do for you please let me know. Best wishes.
John

Lee Tang asked:
I was told to contact you Mr. Heald after discussion with my travel agent as my family will be cruising again with Carnival Cruise Lines for the third time and I would like you to offer them something very special. My son has been accepted into the world’s most prestigious school of music, The Juilliard School, in New York City. Brett is a virtuoso violin player and during the cruise we will need him to keep up his practicing regime so I will need you to find him a room in which to complete this task daily for a period of two hours per day. Then I think our fellow passengers would appreciate his music and so can you invite him onto the stage and then have him play? I realize you don’t have a professional orchestra on the ship but if the piano player could accompany him in his performance, that would be most welcome. I hope to hear from you in the positive and I am sure that as entertainment director of the ship, you will have no regrets as Brett will be a very big highlight for the passengers! Our cruise details are:
Carnival Breeze
Booking Reference ******
Cruise Date: 9/19/2012

John says:
Hello Lee Tang
I had to ask Uncle Google about The Juilliard School because, I have to admit, I was not familiar with it and after reading the web site I see how proud you must be of your son to have been accepted there. I will be here as cruise director when you cruise and I will be happy to organize a place for your son to practice and will be in contact with you after we sail from Barcelona. We do have a talent show and I would be happy to have Brett play a short piece as we have to, of course, leave time for other guests to perform. I am sure he will thrill the audience and accompanied by our seven-piece group of professional musicians, will definitely be something your fellow guests will enjoy. So I will see you all soon and I wish you the most wonderful cruise. Best wishes.
John

Cynthia G asked:
Hello John,
We will be sailing with you on the Carnival Breeze in October and have a quick question. I’ve heard there is an ATM on the Carnival Breeze that dispenses Euros. True? And if so, does Carnival add any additional charges? See you soon, but not soon enough. I also promise to make my husband leave his bagpipes at home.

John says:
Hello Cynthia G
It’s a musical Q&A today. First we had violins and now bagpipes which I hope he does bring as I love a good tune on the old pipes. Yes, we do have one machine outside of the shops on deck 5 that gives Euros and there is a charge of $6 for this. The better rate, I must admit, will be found when you pre-buy them at home. I will see you soon and wish you both a brilliant time. Best wishes.
John

 

Ethel Feagins asked:
Hi John I was a guest on the Carnival Destiny. Had a great time but my room accommodations was terrible they had me sleeping on a cot. Every day on the ship I begged for help with this problem and did not get it. I think because I paid as much as everyone in my group did and no one else had to sleep on a cot and deserve some kind of compensation for my discomfort. Had I known I was going to be sleeping on a cot, I would have stayed home. I was on a cruise not a camping trip. John, can you help me at all?
Thanks

John says:
Hello Ethel Feagins
I was very surprised to read this and wonder how this could have happened. I am sure there is an explanation for this and I will also investigate this today and see what can be done and ask a colleague to contact you. My apologies and I am very glad though that, this aside, you had fun. Best wishes.
John

Kristin Jackson asked:
We just returned from a fabulous seven-day cruise on the Carnival Legend with the best cruise director EVER (James Dunn). We were selected for the Love & Marriage game show and from there forged a great relationship with James. We did a shore excursion with him and one of the dancers in Grand Cayman and we also went to the beach with them. They chose us to be a part of the Legends show on the last night of the cruise. James sent a gift to our cabin and even arranged VIP disembarkation for us. We’d like to send him a few photos of our time together. I can’t find James on Facebook and was wondering if there was a carnival.com email I could contact him at? Thanks, Carnival, for such a great vacation!

John says:
Hello Kristen Jackson or, Hiyaaaaaaaaa, as James would say.
Thanks so much for this wonderful post and I have sent James this so that he can contact you accordingly. He is one of our best and I am thrilled to see how much you enjoyed him. Thanks again and I hope we see you all again soon. Best wishes.
John

Lisa Dekle asked:
I just want to commend the person I dealt with while calling the 800 number. I wish I had written down her name. She was very pleasant and helpful. I had a problem with my log-in on carnival.com and she took care of it quickly and professionally. Love your blog and would love to sail on a cruise where you are the CD at some point. I’m sailing on the Carnival Ecstasy on Sept. 29 for a “ladies only” cruise with my friends. Who will be our CD? Also, will the shows be the same as they were on the Imagination when I sailed this past May? Thanks!

John says:
Hello Lisa
Thanks for this great post and I will pass your thanks on to our shoreside supervisor. The CD will be the wonderful Brent who is going to lead you through the new shows and events that are happening on board. It’s going to be a great cruise and I hope you have the best of times. Please let me know if you need anything and have loads of fun and enjoy the new shows of which I hope you saw I wrote about on Facebook yesterday. Thanks for the kind words. Best wishes.
John

Carlos Carrizal asked:
Hey, John, just wanted to ask a favor, we had our first cruise with you on the Carnival Conquest, my partner and I. You got us hooked and had a great time an feel lucky to have you as CD.We booked another cruise right after getting off and as luck would have it, my partner had a heart attack on New Year’s Eve and was in there for three months with by-pass. He was not able to go on that trip as he was too weak I felt bad leaving him but the trip was paid for, were going on our third on September 16, 2012, and it will mark our 14 years together. Just want to make this very special for him and see if there was a special something you could send for him from you. He’s a big fan – you sent a bottle of wine the first time to our room and that’s all he talked about. We look forwarded to sailing with you again soon and keep up the great work…his name is Sid…
Thank you in advance Carlos.

John says:
Hello Carlos Carrizal
I was so sorry to read about your partner and I hope he continues to have health and happiness. I wish I could be with you and wish you both the very best of times and, of course, will send you a little something to wish you bon voyage. Best wishes.
John

Martin Stansfield asked:
Dislike your blog today, John, as your comment about vegetarians was both unprofessional and immature. I will not state the obvious because I am not as crass as you are. I will say though that the fact that Carnival does not serve veggie burgers at Guy’s Burger Joint on the Carnival Liberty is a slap in the face to us healthy eaters and you should not dare chastise me or the millions of vegetarians who follow a healthy life style.

John says:
Hello Martin Stansfield
As I am a month behind on my questions here. I am not sure exactly what I said that offended you but I do apologise for doing so. I realise that if I were a vegetarian, I would indeed not have a beach ball stomach but I am afraid I live a lifestyle based on the fact that I believe it is the right of every animal to end up on my dinner plate surrounded by roasted potatoes. However, I respect your choice not to follow the same mantra. Although we do not offer a veggie burger option, there are though of course many alternatives for the vegetablists guests and those include a brilliant veggie burrito right next door at the BlueIguana Cantina and, as I said, many other choices. So please forgive me again and if there is anything you would like to add or ask of me please let me know. Best wishes.
John

Andrea De Rossi asked:
I recently cruised on the Carnival Imagination and had a blast. I do have one complaint and that was that our cabin cleaner woke us up one morning even though we had the do not disturb sign hanging on the door!!!!!!!!! Me and my friend had been partying all night and didn’t get to bed until 5am and at noon, he banged on the door and demanded to be let in. We refused and were so mad, we took off his tip because he also did not clean the cabin well, as well. He should be told what do not disturb means!!!!!!!!!!!

John says:
Hello Andrea De Rossi
I am very sorry to read this and I also have to say I am surprised as well because normally if the “snoozing” sign is out it is respected and guests are not disturbed. The only exception to this rule is if the guest has the sign out for a long period of time in which case we will make sure all is well inside the cabin and check on our guest’s safety and comfort. So I have to ask, was there a chance that you had the sign out for an extended period of time and therefore the cabin steward knocked to make sure you were both OK? I have sent this to the ship so they can check and see what happened. Thanks for letting me know and I am glad you had fun. Best wishes.
John

David Cribben asked:
Graffiti in elevators on Carnival Legend. I have read several reviews about this problem. Can you direct the correct personnel to fix this? Seems like an easy fix. Thanks, David.

John says:
Hello David Cribben
I asked the management on board about this and here is the hotel director’s reply:

I am not sure where he read this but there’s nothing to this.

Best wishes.
John

Cindy Kearney asked:
We are cruising on the Carnival Victory out of San Juan on 9/23 this year. The ship doesn’t leave port until 10pm. Our flight arrives at 11am. Is it possible to drop bags and go exploring before checking in. Or check in and then go exploring in the port? My husband and I are platinum members and have never had a bad experience with Carnival. We love you guys!

John says:
Hello Cindy Kearney
Yes, indeed, you can and I hope you do as Old San Juan is beautiful so check yourselves in and explore away. Thanks for your amazing loyalty and for those very kind words and I wish you the most wonderful cruise. Best wishes.
John

And that’s all for today. Thanks to everyone for their comments and questions. So here I am in the chair again and let’s see who is sailing with us and, wow, what a difference to my last cruise here when we had 4,600 guests and 1,400 under 21.

TOTAL GUESTS 3,881
GUESTS UNDER 21 79
US CITIZENS 1,631
CANADIANS 425
FRENCH CANADIANS 214
BRITISH 534
RUSSIA 258
ISRAEL 75
GERMANY 43
DUTCH 55
UKRAINE 49

Amazing, 79 kids! We still have lots of the UK guests here and this cruise we also have a UK film shoot as we will for the first ever time be broadcasting TV commercials for Carnival on UK television which I think is brilliant and about bloody time. I will, I am sure, be writing more about this in the weeks ahead. Let’s see where we are going:

Fri, Sep, 07 Barcelona 5am-5pm
Sat, Sep, 08 Marseilles 7am-4pm
Sun, Sep, 09 Livorno 7am-7pm
Mon, Sep, 10 Rome 7am-8pm
Tue, Sep, 11 Salerno 8am-7pm
Wed, Sep, 12 At Sea
Thu, Sep, 13 Dubrovnik 7am-4pm
Fri, Sep, 14 Venice 10am-11pm
Sat, Sep, 15 At Sea
Sun, Sep, 16 Messina 10am-7pm
Mon, Sep, 17 At Sea
Tue, Sep, 18 Mallorca 8am-6pm

Wish you were here.

Let’s go Down Under to Australia where the people go to work in shorts and that’s a good enough reason to be jealous of them. Also, they have stoves in their kitchens but choose to cook their prawns in the garden. And the only invention to have come out of Australia, ever, is the rotary washing line. However, these blokes and sheilas all love cruising and are very excited, it seems, about the impending arrival of the Carnival Spirit.

Now we have changed some things around a bit to accommodate Australian guests and I thought I would share some of those things with you and the “Aussification” of the bonza Carnival Spirit. The process included the following items:

1. Adding Fat Jimmy’s Seaside BBQ to include Angus Beef Sausages, among other choices ……….no shrimp on the Barbie, though……mmmmmm?
2. Switching up menu items to reflect local tastes – lamb, more Indian and Asian dishes, meat pies, etc. Examples include:
•Australian Lamb Roast served with Barossa Valley Cabernet and Chocolate Sauce
•Fresh from Sydney’s Fish Market Grilled Barramundi Fillet
•Soy and Ginger Marinated, Broiled Salmon Fillet
•Spice Wrapped, Grilled 200 grams Rumpsteak from Grain Fed Beef
•Pan-Seared Chicken Schnitzel served with Fries, and Tomato Sauce
•Cantonese Sweet and Sour Prawns

Let’s have a look at one of the dinner menus:

And there will be changes on Lido which includes the brilliantly named “Pies and Snag Shop,” offering:
• Aussie Steak and Kidney Pie
• Tasmanian Chicken Pie
• Chicken Curry Pie
• Sausage Rolls
• BBQ Lamb and Feta Sausage
• Beerstick In A Bun……………..and I have no idea what that is!

3. Adding Aussie beer with a total of 16 draught beer taps around the ship.
4. Coffee. New machines and fully trained baristas. You see Aussie coffee is based on espresso, not drip coffee. And coffee “their style” is central to the Australian lifestyle so we have made sure we have it just the way they like it and will include:
• Short Black: a single shot of espresso.
• Long Black: Espresso with water (1/3 espresso 2/3 water)
• Flat White: This is a popular drink in Australia and New Zealand. An espresso with steamed milk (about 1/3 espresso, 2/3 milk). The closest approximation in North America would be a no foam latte.
5. Dollars and cents: The ship will have all charges in Australian Dollars and the ATMs will distribute Australian dollars, of course.
6. There will be an Australian cruise director in Mr. Stuart Dunn.
7. Some of the Carnival Legends characters have been changed to include Kylie Minogue and Jimmy Barnes.
8. The ship will feature headlining Australian variety acts and the Punchliner Comedy Club will feature some Australian comedians.
9. TV stations will include Fox 8, Fox Sports, CNN International and Sky News Australia.
10. Smoking: We have made some modifications to the smoking policy on board Carnival Spirit sailing from Australia. There will be no smoking in the casino or the staterooms (including balconies). This is in accordance with the Australian marketplace.

And don’t forget we added the amazing Green Thunder slide and a stunning Serenity deck recently so the ship is ready and from what I have been reading, Australia is ready to welcome her to one of the most beautiful and spectacular countries in the world and I have a feeling that once on board, the Aussies will take fun to a whole new level. There has been a delay in some of the excursions being available online and I have received a few comments about this. I am so sorry that there has been this delay and I promise this is being looked at by the most senior beards and I will have news soon on what is happening.

One excursion we won’t have is swimming with sharks. I know some folks like to do this here in the Caribbean but that’s with sharks who love to be tickled. In Australia, of course, they have huge buggers. I am talking about great white sharks which are always called “magnificent” by people who wear sandals. I bet anyone who has been attacked by a shark didn’t think as those teeth sank into their leg that the shark was so magnificent. It’s the same story with the mosquito. But because it’s never been the subject of a soppy program on National Geographic, even the biggest protector of all God’s living things is at liberty to run around his bedroom at night with a rolled-up newspaper and a can of bug zap, shouting, “I’ll get you, you little bastard.”

A great white is no different. It’s a dangerous, ugly, killing machine that takes a chunk out of you and lets you bleed to death before its very eyes. It’s a 29-foot-long wanker, an underwater monster with razor sharp teeth, and it should be treated as such. We should therefore turn the tables round. Instead of letting the damn things cruise around eating us, we should start eating them. I’m kidding of course. We should start on something else that would change the world for the better….……and we’re starting with the French followed by baggage handlers!

Goodnight.

Your friend,

John Heald

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.