Pour Some Sugar On Me

September 11, 2012 -

John Heald

Now and then, I get comments that include the words “nickel and dime” and go on to tell me how everything on a Carnival ship should be free and we shouldn’t charge for anything on board. Obviously, we do have some areas where we charge extra and yet you can still take a Carnival cruise and eat, drink and be entertained without spending anything extra short of the recommended gratuities you kindly leave the staff. One thing we definitely do not do is try and get you to buy something other than what you have ordered. I think the correct street term for this is up-selling.

It seems everywhere these days that someone is offering the opportunity for an “up sell.” Take my recent flight from Gatwick to Pisa Airport to join the Carnival Breeze. I had handed my suitcase in to the 17-year-old at the check-in desk secure in the knowledge that my underpants and my hemorrhoid cream would be on the plane with me. What a stupid sodding thought that turned out to be. Anyway, I went to security, took out my laptop, got felt up by the security chap, passed through the scanner and heard giggling from the booth, obviously, because the chap looking at my naked image had finally found someone with a smaller gentleman’s sausage than his…….and headed for a well-deserved cup of coffee. So at Gatwick Airport’s Starbucks, I ordered a simple crapafrapacino. The coffee girl … sorry…..barista, then started her hustle:

Barista: “Any sandwiches or pastries with that for you today?
John: “No, thanks.”
Barista: “We have a fantastic blueberry and cinnamon muffin on special today only.”
John: “No, thanks, I’m diabetic.”
Barista: “Oh, you’re diabetic are you? How about a sandwich then, the egg mayonnaise is today’s special.”

 

I had had enough by then and I just gave her a look that said either serve me my coffee or I will shove one of those steam pipes you use to make the frothy cappuccino right up your arse….. And turn it on.  If we ever start up-selling on board the ships, let me know because it drives me bloody crazy………………..as do comments like this:

 

From: BREEZE GUEST SERVICES
Sent: Sunday, September 09, 2012 1:03 PM
To: BREEZE CRUISE DIRECTOR
Cc: BREEZE GUEST SERVICES; BREEZE GUEST SERVICES SUPERVISOR; BREEZE GUEST SERVICES MANAGER
Subject: Good Afternoon John

Mrs———–asked to speak to you John. Her 12-year-old daughter spent $48 in Cherry On Top on candy and guest feels that we should have not allowed her to do this and should have called the parents. I know this is not your responsibility but she insists on talking to you.

 

Thank you and best regards,

Guest Services Associate, Carnival Breeze
Carnival Cruise Lines

 

I will tell you what…….let me start by asking you to fill in the blank here when I say ________!

How is the poor lady who runs Cherry on Top supposed to know how much candy each kid is allowed, although I guess $48 is rather a lot? I spoke with Mrs. Sugar and she is indeed upset and wants a refund even though her daughter has eaten some of it already. Mrs. Sugar demanded a refund but as the candy was pick and mix and in a big, a very big bag, all mushed together, I told her we could not do this but we would note the cabin number and make sure if her daughter attempted to buy any more candy, we would call the parents first.

I will leave you all to summarise this comment but I do want to say this. As a diabetic, finding me in Cherry On Top is as rare as finding a lap dancer in a nunnery. I do though miss candy or sweets, as us Brits call them. When I was a kid, my parents would give us a sweet allowance and I would head to the local sweet shop with joy in my heart. There was a private joy to eating the sweets I bought on those Saturdays, a silent moment in the week when my senses were so overwhelmed with fizz and sugar that we I didn’t talk, play or ride my bike.

Instead, I would immerse myself in a world of toffee and my favourite, a Sherbet Dip Dab. I loved the suck of the lemon and then the fizz in your mouth of the sherbet. I also miss the Moon Rocks, or, Pop Rocks as they are called in North America, and the sensation of it exploding in my mouth was sensational. I would always buy two bags. One for me and one to sprinkle in my sister’s cat’s litter tray…………watching her cat take a pee and have the litter box explode under him gave me nearly as much pleasure as eating the candy myself. There are times when I hate myself for letting myself go and consequently getting type 2 diabetes and walking around Cherry On Top is definitely…………one of those times.

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

Chasen Woodie asked:
Hello, John,

I hope all is well with you. John I love reading your blog you make me laugh so hard. On June the 19, my wife was six months pregnant and we found out our daughter had passed away. On June 20, my wife was induced into labor. The next day in the hospital, my wife said she wanted to get out of town on our daughters due date on Oct 6. So I surprised her with our fourth Carnival cruise on the Carnival Ecstasy on Oct 4-8 and we can’t wait to go. I just wanted to let you know how much Carnival means to us. I also saw the Carnival Ecstasy is going in to dry dock in Oct. When in October will this be? Thanks so much and keep up the good work.

John says:
Hello Chasen Woodie

I am so sorry for your loss and I cannot imagine the pain and heartache that you both must have felt and indeed still be feeling. Cruising means different things to different people and for you, I hope it helps ease the pain somewhat. Please if you can, relax on the cruise, try and have fun and please also send me your cabin number the day before you sail on my Facebook page, if possible. Thinking of you both and my best wishes for nothing but happiness in your future together.

Best wishes,
John

Antoinette asked:
I’ve been reading your blog for a couple weeks, very entertaining! We will be taking our 12th Carnival cruise on the Carnival Breeze this winter. Just wondering if you remember a lady named Dottie? We were on one of our first cruises in the 90’s and I’ll always remember you two rolling around on the stage floor!! How funny!!! We always have a great time on Carnival and look forward to the Carnival Breeze. Our best to you!

John says:
Hello Antoinette

Yes indeed, how can I ever forget Dottie or Liza Minnelli on steroids as she became known? Dottie was one of those guests you never ever forget and, wow, what a voice she had. We lost touch over the years, which makes me sad and I think of her often. Have a wonderful cruise here on this brilliant ship and if you need anything, please let me know.

Best wishes.
John

Travis asked:
Just got off the Carnival Pride. This was my first cruise. I hated it. The cruise director and her assistant, Gumbie, are the most annoying people on the planet. Gumbie was rude and obnoxious to passengers when they did not do what he wanted them to. Case in point, when he tried to get them to sit down in the Taj Mahal Lounge so we could depart for Half Moon Cay, his tone was condescending and rude. I also hated the fact that someone was in your face every second trying to sell you a drink. They were annoying. No matter where you went, there was someone at the ready to harass you. The food in the buffet area really sucked. The Normandy had much better food. At least it was edible. The activities that they had planned were so lame. Not only that, most times they charged you to participate. They charged $25 or $30 to play bingo. THEY ONLY PLAYED ONE GAME! This was not about providing you with a fun filled vacation; it was more about seeing how much money they could suck out of your wallet. I am a member of Cruise Critic and have downloaded my full review!!!! http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=106313

I won’t be back and I hope my review will stop others from spending their money going on this ship from hell.

John says:
Hello Travis

It is thought by a few of my more skeptical blog readers that I never post comments like this here on my blog thingy but I think it is important that I do. First of all, and most importantly, I apologise that you did not have a fun cruise and I have forwarded your comments to the ship. I do want to say a few things, though, if I may and I will start with the fact that it is always fascinating how opinions can differ. You see, I have read up until now so many great things about the Carnival Pride and indeed based on the review cards that some of our guests are sent and complete on line the Carnival Pride is currently the number one ship in the entire fleet. I also do not normally hear negative comments about the CD, Jaime D, and her assistant, Gumbie, and I am sorry that you found them to be “annoying.” I did check with Jaime and we only charge $10 or $20 for bingo and never $25 or $30, so I apologise if this was not made clear. I also wanted to reply to you regarding your comments that ….“most times they charged you to participate.” I checked again with the ship as this had me confused because all the shows, indoor and outdoor activities and shows had no charges at all, with the exception of bingo and laser tag so I wonder if you could tell me what activities you were charged for so I can address this with Jaime and her staff. Thanks for taking the time to post this here and any other information you can give me would be most useful. I have not had time yet to read your full review on Cruise Critic but will try to do so soon and meanwhile I hope you will write back with more details on what you experienced.

Best wishes.
John

Gregory Simon asked:
Hi, we are going on our third cruise in 12 months in September. This time we are going on the Carnival Legend out of Tampa. In reviewing the ship, I noticed that it doesn’t have all the amenities of the Carnival Liberty.  Does that mean it’s not as up to date?  We love Carnival but want to stay with the modern ships. Thanks.

Greg

John says:
Hello Gregory Simon

Thanks for taking the time to write and, for many, Carnival Legend is their favourite ship. She does not have the same 2.0 upgrades that the Carnival Liberty has but modern and beautiful she certainly is and I have no doubt you will have a brilliant time. Please let me know if you have any other questions and have a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes.
John

Bonnie Edwards asked:
Hi John-

I really enjoy reading your blogs. I had the pleasure of cruising with you on the Splendor in 2010 (before I knew you were “famous”) and have just booked my 14th Carnival cruise (technically, my 15th as one was on the Tropicale before Carnival began keeping track.) I am taking my sister on her very first Carnival cruise in October. My question is regarding room service. First I would like to comment that it would be nice if there was a better selection of choices and a hot breakfast included. However, my question is regarding tipping for room service. Carnival does not offer a suggested amount and I would like to know what the average tip is as I am afraid I may not be giving enough. Thank you for making me laugh and keep up the good work!

Hello Bonnie Edwards asked:
Thanks for making me smile with the “before you were famous” line and I am glad to see that you are sailing with us again and I thank you for your wonderful loyalty. I wish we could offer a hot selection for breakfast but from a manning point of view, I think that would be very hard to do with so many people wanting to order and mostly order at the same time, especially on port days. Thanks for asking about the tipping and we do suggest that tipping for room service be done when they deliver your food and the suggested amount is $1 – $2. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you and I hope one day we sail together again.

Best wishes
John

Kevin Cox asked:
Hi John,

Just a quick suggestion. When my wife and I cruise one of the things we enjoy is meeting new people. We often travel with another couple so we asked our travel agent to request a table for eight. He told us that Carnival does not take table requests. While I can understand that because of the large number of people on board those requests could not always be accommodated. I feel an attempt could be made. Thanks for listening. Also my next cruise will be Oct 6 on the Carnival Freedom. Do you know who the cruise director will be?

John says:
Hello Kevin Cox

Making reservations for 3,000 or more guests is a terribly complicated affair and the Maître D’s have such a huge job juggling everyone around between early and late sitting and, of course, now we have Your Time Dining, as well. We try and seat people together with guests of similar age or demographic (single, family, older, younger, etc.) and so adding 3,000 people requesting tables of 2, 4, 8, etc., would be a challenge, to say the least. However, I am able to request certain tables for guests by contacting the maître d myself and, while it is never a definite thing, most times it works out. So, with that in mind, please feel free to contact me when you wish and I will do my best for you. Your CD on the Carnival Freedom will be the wonderful Brad Calabresse. I wish you a brilliant time and again, let me know if I can help you.

Best wishes.
John

John Christian asked:
John, what cruise ship do you believe you may sail on for the 2013 season? This will be when we plan our next cruise after I complete my 46th year working for the Federal gov’t. We have sailed on the Carnival Freedom and Splendor; both were during their first year in the fleet with you and your beautiful wife Heidi.

John says:
Hello John Christian

Thanks so much, John, for those wonderful words and many congratulations on your service and your hard work these past 46 years. I have two definite schedules. The Bloggers Cruise here on the Carnival Breeze on January 16 and then I will be on the Carnival Legend sailing in the Baltic and the other exciting European destinations. I hope we get to sail together very soon and if there is anything I can do for you please let me know.

Best wishes.
John

Hal Hoffman asked:
Carnival Breeze is another “Dream” class ship, and is not for us!!  We have sailed on the “Dream” twice.  We swore after the first time we would never sail on her again, but our Pastor (also a Platinum cruiser) requested it for his last cruise (and now says he should have listened to us).  So we sailed again, and encountered the same crowded conditions we did the first time.  One should not be surprised.  Basically, all they did was increase the overall size of the “Conquest” class by 20,000 tons, and crammed 1,600 more people on to it!!!  That is like trying to put 30 pounds of tomatoes into a 23-pound bag!!!  I happen to use a mobility scooter, and getting to and from the early dinner seating was like a scene out of “MISSION IMPOSSIBLE.”  No elevator etiquette whatsoever!!  And the crew did not help at all, unlike HAL, which always holds the door (and elevator) for me!  We chose to sail on the Carnival Liberty Nov. 10, and they have a great itinerary — Grand Turk, San Juan, St.  Thomas and Nassau!!!  Much better than that same old tired “Nassau, St. Thomas, St. Maarten” the Carnival Dream does, and the Carnival Glory did for years!  I have a lift for my scooter attached to my van.  FYI, if you have special H/C equipment on your vehicle, you park free at all Florida ports!

John says:
Hello Hal Hoffman

I have to say that, respectfully, I have to disagree with you about the Carnival Breeze, which to me is our best ship yet. Thanks for your feedback on the guests on mobility scooters and wheelchairs when it comes to elevators and we will pass along the information to the beards. Please accept my apologies and if there is anything I can do for you before you sail again, please let me know.

Best wishes.
John

Andrew Baroni asked:
Can you tell me what ship Ron Pass is playing on? I have asked your customer service people but they are oblivious to who he is and are, quite frankly, a waste of time talking to. I am not a regular reader of your blog because I find your toilet humor both disgusting and unnecessary. I am looking to cruise with Ron Pass in January 2013 so where will he be?

John says:
Hello Andrew Baroni

Please do not blame the guest service people in Miami. They work very hard and yet they don’t have access to musicians’ schedules, I am afraid. Ron is indeed at the top of his profession and will be joining me on our Bloggers Cruise on January 19 here on the Carnival Breeze. I don’t have the rest of his 2013 schedule yet, maybe Ron who reads this blog from time to time can shed some more light on what he is doing or you can check with me in November and I should have more information. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

Best wishes.
John

Kelvin Brownlow asked:
We are excited for our cruise to start and we will, like our last cruise, be spending lots of time at the comedy club. Can you tell me who the comedians will be for our 9/17 cruise on Carnival Elation?

John says:
Hello Kelvin Brownlow

Your comedians will be Percy Cruise and Lance Montalto, both of whom I know well and both of whom will make you laugh out loud. Have a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.

John

 

And that’s all for today.

Is it too early to talk about Christmas? It probably is but let’s face it, it will not be too long before the shopping malls are playing that awful Christmas music by people like Bob Dylan and that Christmas in New York one by the Pogues. The stores will be covered in tinsel and seven-year- old kids will be telling their parents to sod off, they don’t want a GI Joe for Christmas, they want an Eyepad 3 with Bluetooth keyboard. But I guess I have to mention Christmas because, absurdly, the beards have sent me this year’s schedule that shows when the ships will be professionally decorated by a group of ummmmm………ummmm………Christmas decorating professionals. Anyway, here it is:

 

2012 – INSTALLATION SCHEDULE – HOLIDAY DECORATIONS

 

 

DATE:

SHIP:

PORT:

SAT, NOV. 17, 2012

DREAM

PT. CANAVERAL, FL

SUN, NOV. 18, 2012

SENSATION

PT. CANAVERAL, FL

MON, NOV. 19, 2012

ECSTASY

PT. CANAVERAL, FL

SAT, NOV. 17, 2012

ELATION

NEW ORLEANS, LA

SUN, NOV. 18, 2012

CONQUEST

NEW ORLEANS, LA

SAT, NOV. 24, 2012

LIBERTY

MIAMI, FL

SUN, NOV. 25, 2012

VALOR

MIAMI, FL

SUN, NOV. 25, 2012

GLORY

MIAMI, FL

MON, NOV. 26, 2012

DESTINY

MIAMI, FL

SAT, DEC. 1, 2012

FREEDOM

FT. LAUDERDALE, FL

SUN, DEC. 2, 2012

VICTORY

SAN JUAN, PR

SUN, DEC. 2, 2012

BREEZE

MIAMI, FL

MON, DEC. 3, 2012

IMAGINATION

MIAMI, FL

SUN, DEC. 2, 2012

SPLENDOR

LONG BEACH, CA

MON, DEC. 3, 2012

INSPIRATION

LONG BEACH, CA

THUR, DEC. 6, 2012

FANTASY

FREEPORT, BAHAMAS  (POC)

SAT, DEC. 8, 2012

FASCINATION

JACKSONVILLE, FL

SAT, DEC. 8, 2012

MAGIC

GALVESTON, TX

SUN, DEC. 9, 2012

TRIUMPH

GALVESTON, TX

SUN, DEC. 9, 2012

LEGEND

TAMPA, FL

MON, DEC. 10, 2012

PARADISE

TAMPA, FL

TUE, DEC. 11, 2012

MIRACLE

PT. CANAVERAL, FL  (POC)

WED, DEC. 12, 2012

PRIDE

PT. CANAVERAL, FL  (POC)

** SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA:

TUE, NOV. 27, 2012   OR        THUR, DEC. 6, 2012

SPIRIT

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

 

There are indeed challenges at Christmas-time and when you celebrate Christmas on board the ships, there are certainly challenges, as well. Ask any crew member which are the most challenging cruises and it doesn’t matter which ship, the crew will most often cite a holiday cruise. Along with trans-Atlantic voyages, where despite our best intentions some guests can get ……..ummmm…….shall we say a bit grumpy. Christmas is a difficult time and even with 26 years at sea under my belt, I have bugger all understanding of why. Don’t get me wrong, most of the guests will have a great time and the atmosphere on board is fantastic but there has been and will be again this year a select number of guests on every ship on every cruise line who if you allow me to be candid ……….. are simply miserable people. Yep, Christmas seems to bring out bad moods in some folks whether they’re on land or at sea and our incident reports that log complaints on board always seem to take an upswing at Christmas-time. But regardless the crew will all make sure that they do their best to provide every guest with some Christmas cheer and some Carnival fun.

I have to admit that for me working during Christmas was always challenging and certainly not just for the reason above. As I think many of you will realise family is more important to me than anything and I always feel for the crew who are away from theirs for the holiday season. I also had another fear at Christmas-time. It’s a fear that is far worse than any guest complaining that the Christmas decorations offend her or that the turkey was as dry as a camel’s scrotum. And that’s the dreaded Christmas kiss, a show of affection which some guests, crew and, bizarrely, all Italian men think is mandatory at this time of year. As a fat bloke from Essex who never quite mastered the “Mwah, mwah” of the social greeting despite having worked among so many different nationalities and who believes that you should kiss only a) your children and b) the person you are having or want to have rumpy pumpy with, I always dreaded the sheer bloody awkwardness that comes before the kiss. Christmas morning and New Year’s Eve, guests would come up to me and the whole ritual would start. The clashing heads, should I or shouldn’t I go for the other cheek too, the whiff of halitosis caused by a Guy Fieri burger with extra onions and a distant relationship with the toothbrush.

On another note, I know many of you are waiting for news on what we are doing this Halloween and I will have that news for you at the end of this week.

 

Craig Dale asked:
John, I know you are a cigar smoker as I have read here many times and it’s a point you seem to love reminding us about. I hope one day you are forced to put up with something you hate as much as I hate cigar smokers. Me and my partner Christian were on the 7/21 sailing of Carnival Triumph and each night we were forced off our balcony by the rudest man next to us who chain smoked stinky cigars. All we wanted was some romantic time together but thanks to this selfish passenger we had NONE! We asked him not to but he ignored us and we complained to the front desk and wrote to the captain of the ship but were told nothing could be done. Our cruise was ruined by this man and he reminded me of you, John, as you could have been that man who ruined me and my partner’s cruise. Cigar smokers are bullies and bores yet their brand ambassador supports them as does the cruise line he works for.

John says:
Hello Craig Dale

Obviously, I want to start with an apology to you that this happened. I know that smoking remains a hot topic despite the restrictions we adopted recently. Yes, it’s no secret that I love cigars and would I have certainly stopped smoking one if someone had asked me to.  As a cruise director, the guest always comes first.  Regardless of whether someone was complaining or not, I always make an attempt to position the cigar so the smoke blows away from the balcony but, again, if someone complained, I would certainly be respectful of their wishes. I do hope you enjoyed your cruise and I am truly sorry that this happened. Best wishes to you both.

John

 

This post had me thinking a bit, should I even mention that I love cigars, is that the wrong thing to do as Carnival’s Brand Ambassador? Cigars are not a problem for me this cruise as my supply was stolen by baggage people in either London or Italy. You know it’s not just the cigars I am drawn to but it’s also the people who smoke them. I find cigar smokers interesting, more generous of spirit, more willing to talk to strangers and offer that stranger a drink or yes, one of their cigars even. I find cigar smokers have opinions that are worth listening too and many seem to have a brilliant sense of humour too. You can’t imagine a cigar smoker placing their hand over their glass of good cognac and saying: “No more for me, thanks. I have to be up early for my Pilates class.”

There is another reason as well. I am fat and I am ugly and that’s why I feel comfortable around other cigar smokers. I am not saying they are all fat and ugly but they are definitely not vain. How can you be vain when you have brown teeth and after smoking a cigar the night before ……. morning breath that smells like a yak’s arse. And you can’t ask for more than that in a mate.

I miss the cigar bars, you know I do, yet I think it was the right decision that we don’t force people to sprint through the lounge with their faces covered just to get to the internet cafe. But smoking outside, well that is something that if done respectfully and in designated smoking areas is the last bastion us cigar smokers can enjoy. But the world is a different place and nothing sums that up more to me than an interview I read about the new Bond movie Skyfall.

There was apparently a scene in which Daniel “Six Pack” Craig smokes a Cuban cigar. This was cut because of the terrible influence it would have on children. I am sorry but this is bollocks, utter bollocks. It’s OK to have Bond blow someone’s face off with his Walther PPK but he can’t light a Cohiba cigar.” The movie will be PG-13 which is fine then it seems for kids to be shown to be shown Bond throwing someone off a building or having rumpy pumpy with Pussy Galore, but you can’t let them see Bond having a cigar. It’s a mad, mad world……….. it really is.

 

Goodnight.

Your friend,
John

 

P.S. For John’s memories of 9/11, please see his post on Facebook.

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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