When people become really famous, I am sure there must be times when all they want is anonymity. I bet that with all their fame, money, houses, yachts, Aston Martins and all the Latvian bottoms they can lay their eyes on, people like Kate Middleton, Justin Beaver and Lebron James wish that they could walk into a restaurant or pop out to McDonald’s without being pointed at as well as having the comfort of being able to make a phone call safe in the knowledge that a sweaty reporter from one of Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers isn’t listening.

I am not talking about the reality TV and American Idolxfactor people who live to be famous…..no……I am talking about real stars, those who are household names with a household face of whom the public demand to be told who is rumpy pumpying with who and was that famous movie star wearing women’s underwear last night.

I am not famous but on the ship I am well known, of course, and that can prove difficult at times. There is a very fine line between my social life and my working life and whenever I walk out of the cabin I am “on stage” so to speak. In past blogs, I have written about being photographed in the public restrooms and the many times I have been sitting in a lounge and someone has said sorry to bother you……which they’re not…….and then proceed to share their thoughts, their happiness and of course their words with me. And whether I am sitting at the RedFrog Pub, walking Promenade Deck or standing in the public bathroom, I have to listen and I have to care.

It’s hard to explain what it’s like but compared to real stars who are photographed every single time they walk out of the house, it’s nothing of course. I have no idea how I would cope when the assistant at the Walgreens selling a photo he took of me buying some extra strength hemorrhoid cream.

So yesterday afternoon, I was talking to a couple by the guest services desk. They are regular blog readers and had asked to speak to me. They, along with 14 other cabins, have lost luggage and of course our guest services desk is, as always, trying to recover it for them from the airline. We have given them some toiletries and t-shirts and they are making the best of the situation but one of the problems was that one guest had no charger for her camera and was desperate to take photos of their trip to Florence and Pisa. So she had contacted me and I had managed to sort her a charger to borrow from a staff member (thanks, Sonia) and I was bringing it to her. I was in the middle of speaking to her when a chap tapped me repeatedly on the shoulder and said, “I need to talk to you.” I turned around and politely said that I would be with him shortly once I had finished speaking to this couple and carried on talking. It must have been no more than two minutes and I had finished and turned back around to see that the male guest who had wanted to speak to me had gone………….and I thought nothing more about it.

Well, bugger me with a pitchfork because later that evening, I get a call from the guest services manager who said that she had spoken to this male guest who said that I had been rude and refused to speak to him. Oh, joy……….oh, deep joy.

Of course, I wasn’t rude, I was in the middle of a sodding conversation and asked him politely and respectfully to please wait a moment. But the guest is always right even when they are wrong. I called and I apologised to him and explained the situation about the lost luggage but he didn’t seem too bothered because he had something far more important to ask me……….how much would it cost to get into Rome by train and if I had a copy of the timetable!

And I guess that is what it must be like for someone who is really, really famous. Ignore a fan and they are instant bastards……….a bit like I am now to this guest. If you want a sense of how it feels to be well known, try walking down Promenade naked. Or go to the Cucina del Capitano and demand some sushi. Or better still, sail on Disney wearing a t-shirt of Fun Ship Freddy wearing a hockey mask, holding an axe over Mickey Mouse…….I bet that would make you sodding well famous.

Time for today’s Q and A – off we go.

Darren Cascarino asked:
John,

I too mourn the loss of the cigar bars as you wrote today in your blog. I have been a Carnival fan since I took my first cruise when I was 14 and here I am now at 28 years old still cruising and heading towards my platinum cruise on January 13. I am in awe of your blog and would love to smoke a cigar with you one day. I wondered what your favorite cigars are. I don’t get to smoke too many Cubans as they are hard to get but my first stop when we go to Cayman Island on our cruise will be Churchill’s Cigar shop to stock up. Why does Carnival not have Cuban cigars for sale on the ship because you are in international waters so I would think that is OK to do? Thanks, John, and hope we smoke a cigar one day together.

John says:
Hello Darren Cascarino,

It is great to start off today’s blog with a cigar question and I am glad that you are a fellow cigar lover. Let me answer the question about Cuban cigars first because it is an important question indeed. Even though we do sail in international waters, the current trade embargo with Cuba prohibits any company that operates in the USA from selling anything of Cuban origin. Now there may be ways around this but we do adhere to regulations and we don’t sell Cuban cigars on the ships. I am working to get a better selection of cigars as we really don’t have the best at the moment. As for my favourite………well they are:

  • Cohiba Robusto special edition 2000
  • Artoro Fuente Opus X Torpedo
  • Artoro Fuente Opus X Robusto
  • Monte Cristo Edmundo
  • Cohiba Siglo X1

Thanks, Darren, and I hope you will enjoy your cigar when you sail with us next and I also hope that one day we will get to smoke one together.

Best wishes.

John

Nick Hennessy asked:

A warm midwest hello to you, John. First, I would like to say that when I found out Stephanie Meads was retiring, I was deeply saddened as she was one of the highlights on our cruise on the Inspiration. With that being said, there was a young man on that boat that was phenominal at making everything so much fun. His name was TJ and he is from South Africa. He really showed me and my family what the Carnival Fun Ships where all about and even had the pleasure of running into him again on the Paradise where he was teaching new people to become great parts of the entertainment staff. With that being said, do you know if we would have the pleasure of being able to run into him again on our cruise in February on the Magic? If not, is there anyway that we would be able to send him a gift as part of our gratitude that me and my wife would like to express for all he did for me and my family? Thanks again and I’m really looking forward to the Behind the Fun tour on the Magic as I hear she is a wonderful ship.

John says:
Hello Nick Hennessy,

I was just speaking with my assistant Calvyn about TJ and then there you are praising him just as we were. He is currently on the Carnival Ecstasy and won’t be heading to the Carnival Magic but I will make sure that he sees your kind words and I know he will be thrilled. The Behind the Fun tour will be very special on the Carnival Magic and the huge bridge and the complexity of the engine control room are two of the highlights. I wish you a wonderful cruise and if there is anything else I can do for you, please do let me know.

Best wishes.

John

Simon Chang asked:
John,

I have a big group of 28 people who will be going on the cruise ship Dream on 11/3/2013. WE MUST SIT TOGETHER!! I have no help from my travel agent and she told me that you are the only person who can get this done and she gave me your web address. What do I need to do to make sure this is done? My travel agent says she has all my bookings for my large group on booking number ****** but says Carnival is never granting that we will SIT TOGETHER. Can you make sure we do because we will all be very angry if this does not happen so mail me the confirmation so I can tell my large group that this is all in hand and that we are going to be SITTING TOGETHER.

Simon Chang
Toronto, Canada

John says:
Hello Simon Chang,

Your travel agent is not correct, I am afraid, because for the very most part, if your cabins are linked together, which in your case they are, the maître d’ will seat you in the same sitting and in the same area of the dining room. Now we obviously don’t have a table for 28 so you will be given three larger tables close by each other. I have also contacted the maître d’ on the ship to alert him that your group is coming and to be prepared so please do not worry. I wish you all a wonderful cruise and please let me know if there is anything else you need.

Best wishes.

John

Angela asked:
Hi John,

My husband and I are going on our fifth cruise this November to celebrate our 9th anniversary (fifth Carnival cruise in less than two years!) Can you tell we love Carnival? We have loved sailing and in the past have appreciated Carnival’s policy that allowed us to bring a bottle of champagne on board to celebrate with.

However, I have recently given up alcohol (for personal reasons), but still want to have something bubbly to toast with. Does Carnival allow non-alcoholic ciders (Like Martinellis) on board? If so, is there a restriction (as with the 1 bottle of wine/person)? Or is it OK to bring several bottles? Is there a corkage fee in the
main dining room? Please advise 🙂

Love reading your blog, and thanks for being, as always, bloody

brilliant!

Angie

John says:
hello Angela,

I can indeed see that you love Carnival and thanks so much for saying that and I thank you for your amazing loyalty. We don’t have any non-alcoholic ciders and we really should and I will add this to the beards’ list. There is a corkage charge of $10 to bring this to the dining room and please send me your cabin number the day before you sail if you have Facebook or as soon as possible here on the blog so I can send you something to go with your cider. Have the most wonderful time.

Best wishes.

John

Simon Asher asked:

Why does Carnival not pay their workers more money instead of relying on us, the passengers, to pay their salary? I just cruised on the Breeze and with a 12-day cruise my wife and I were charged $264 which is offensive. I took the tips off the credit card and paid the restaurant waiters and the cabin boy in cash but the amount I felt was worthy. I have no problem tipping but these rates are not justified by at least 50% based on today’s economy. I ask again, why does Carnival not pay their workers a decent salary and fleece the passengers instead?

John says:
Hello Simon Asher,

Firstly, let me say that I hope you had a great time here on the Carnival Breeze and then secondly, let me say that our suggested tipping amount of $11.50 per day per person is based on an industry standard and is for the most part level with most of the major cruise lines. We feel that this is justified and, of course, as you saw and took advantage of, we do allow our guests to remove gratuities if they feel that the service provided by the dining room team and the stateroom steward (the proper and polite term for cabin boy) is not as expected. I hope that the service you received did indeed meet or exceed your expectations and I thank you for giving them a gratuity in cash. I hope that explains it from our side and, most importantly, I hope you had a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Wanda Macateer asked:

Shame on Carnival for ruining my vacation by having a moron smoker on his balcony puffing death clouds of smoke my way. Smokers are vermin and why doesn’t Carnival do what all other cruise companies and hotels do and ban them for good?

John says:
Hello Wanda Macateer,

I am sorry to see how upset you are and I can understand that you didn’t like the fact that someone was smoking on their balcony. Actually, in our defence, I should say that no cruise line that I know of has banned smoking completely and Carnival’s recent smoking rules have made most of our ships non-smoking. We continue to try and make sure we limit the smoking areas but the rules do allow (with the exception of Cloud 9 Spa cabins) smoking on balconies. I do hope that you had a great time despite this and that when you look back, you will see how much you enjoyed the service and fun and that we will indeed see you again.

Best wishes.

John

Ricky Alexie asked:
Hi, John,

My wife and I are both Platinum guests. We just booked our 19th Carnival Cruise and our 7th cruse with The Music Highlights Band. We’ve heard that it is possible for crew members to visit cabins of guests and family members if it’s approved through Carnival prior to the actual cruise. What are the procedures to accomplish this? We would like the band to have permission to visit us in our cabin. We have been friends since our first cruise with them in 2010.

Please let me know how to get this approval.

Thanks,

Rick

John says:
Hello Ricky Alexie,

What a great band they are and I am thrilled that you will be sailing with them again. I have worked with them many times and truly enjoy their music and friendship. I am afraid we have very strict rules about crew visiting guest cabins which they can only do if they are direct family members as in wife, parents, etc. This means we are not able to give them permission to visit your cabin. I hope you have a wonderful time and may I also thank you for your loyalty and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.

Best wishes,

John

Charles Kinsman asked:

I was on the Ecstasy and I was told by Steve Cassel, the cruise director, that the ship was getting new shows and as I am returning to the ship for another cruise in October I wanted to know if this was the case and I would see the new shows. Can you confirm?!!!

John says:
Hello Charles Kinsman,

Steve Cassel was correct as the ship now has two new Playlist Production shows and the new HASBRO The Game Show as well. I am sure you will enjoy them all and I wish you a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Ashley Carter asked:

I love your blog and was wondering why you have never written about the Costa Concordia sinking or if you have, I cannot find it. I love your writing style and would like to know what you think about this as the Concordia tragedy is part of my paper this term at UCLA. Thank you for your help and my family and I will be cruising with Carnival on the Splendor over the holidays and we are hoping you will be there too.

Thanks.

Ashley

John says:
Hello Ashley,

I wish I could be with you on the Carnival Splendor but I have no doubt that you and your family will have the most wonderful time. Obviously, with legal proceedings still ongoing, I am unable to say all i want to regarding this awful and tragic event. I did write something a few months ago – here is the link. I wish you much success at university and thank you so much for the kind words.

Best wishes,

John

Mike asked:
Hey John,

I’ve sailed with you twice in the past, and I must say, it’s one of the best memories I have. I can’t wait to sail with you again. But anyways, I have a question. My fiancé and I were bouncing around ideas for our honeymoon either next year or the year after, so I suggested a Carnival cruise. Are there any shore excursions on any Carnival cruises where you can see sea turtles? As in, actually in the wild? I know there are a few dolphin swims, but I couldn’t find anything else.

Thanks for your time, John, and once again, you are the most amazing cruise director there is, thank you for the wonderful memories.

Cheers-

Mike

John says:
Hello Mike,

Thanks so much for those wonderful words and I hope one day we get to sail together again. Please have a look at canival.com and on the excursion page for Grand Cayman, you will find the tour called Turtles, Turtles and more Turtles and I think this will be exactly what you are both looking for. If you have any questions, please let me know and I wish you both a most fantastic cruise. If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.

Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today.

I have flown into and out of many airports around the world and my worst experiences have been at Charles de Bastard in Paris, being questioned by a Russian immigration lady dressed as a prostitute at St. Petersburg Airport and standing in line for 237 days at Immigration at Miami International. I have to admit, I am not a fan of Miami Airport. I don’t speak Spanish so that doesn’t help and the walk from the arrivals to the rent-a-car pick up point is accessible by what they call Las People Mover which is excellent except you have to walk uno soddingo mileo to get to Las People Mover. Anyway, they are working to improve things; I know this because there is a huge sign that tells you when you enter the airport. And Carnival is doing its bit to make things easier for those guests who are flying into Miami to take a cruise because we have recently opened a check-in desk there and this is how it will work.

Here’s how it works:

  • Guests retrieve their luggage at baggage claim and are directed to their corresponding check-in counter at terminal D or H (based on flight arrivals).
  • Guests check-in for their cruise, receive a Sail and Sign card and a boarding card that reads “Airport Express” (so that we can easily identify them when they arrive at the cruise terminal).
  • Guests who did not purchase our transportation service are given the option to purchase transfers to the pier during their check-in process.
  • All guests must take their luggage with them since we will not be “trucking” any bags to the pier at this time (we are reviewing this additional service for future).
  • When guests arrive at the pier, they are directed to our “Airport Express” security lane for a quick picture ID and Sail and Sign check. Then, they are off to embark pictures, A-Pass and boarding!

Hours of operation for airport check-in:
8:00am – 2:00pm

Based on flight arrivals, our last airport guests should be checked in between 2pm and 2:30pm (no later) to afford us enough time to get them to the pier to meet our departure.

This is a wonderful addition and it is already in full operation and proving to be most successful. Now the beards have asked me to mention that with 4,000 guests sailing here on the Carnival Breeze each cruise from Miami, that we do recommend to avoid lines and waiting time that as many guests as possible use this system so that you can avoid the check-in at the cruise terminal and head straight onto the ship. Please let me know if you have any questions about this and, personally, I think it is a great addition.

As you may know, Heidi and Kye were with me on the Carnival Breeze last cruise and after they left in Venice, I was feeling really down and expressed so here and on my Facebook page. I was though reminded just this past Monday just how lucky I am to see Kye as often as I do. Let me explain. One of the department heads here on the Carnival Breeze had his wife and his four year old and two year old children join the ship this past Barcelona. He has not seen them for five months as they live pretty much on the other side of the world.

I saw him last night and asked him how his family were and he looked a little sad and when I asked what was wrong, he told me that his four year old wouldn’t let him hold him or play with him……….because……. “he was a stranger.” How absolutely dreadful for him and I cannot imagine how he feels. I am sure things will get better for him as they spend time together but it really had me feeling both sad for my colleague but, selfishly, I felt happy that Kye always welcomes me with a running cuddle. It’s the love of my job that keeps me going and the knowledge that every penny I earn is for the girls. However……..if Kye wouldn’t let me cuddle her because she didn’t recognise me…….well……..I think that would be soul destroying.

Anyway, onwards and upwards. One of the constants this Carnival Breeze European season has been the Russians who have cruised here, over 4,000 of them, in fact. Last night, Calvyn and I met a beautiful young lady from Russia. She was at the RedFrog Pub and as it’s my job to talk to guests, I started to speak to this 20-year-old goddess with a bottom that she had obviously had purchased from Megan Fox.

As I walked around talking to guests, I said hello to her thinking that that Meganov Foxanov would tell me what a brilliant time she was having on the ship and that I made her laugh and would I like to come back to her cabin for some vodka and a look at her iron curtain.
But, alas, when I said hello, she obviously had no sodding clue who I was. Buggerov. She just stared at me and so I smiled and moved on. Now as I did a man appeared and sat next to her. He was Russian too, in his fifties and with a waistline that made mine look like Victoria Beckham’s. He kissed her full on the lips and as if to show Calvyn and me and I that she belonged to him………..he patted her on her Megan Fox like bottom and placed two huge martinis on their table. Bastardov.

He had a huge diamond ring on his finger and his watch was also covered in diamonds and was huge, so huge in fact that it probably had a dwarf living in it to move the hands around.
It is so easy to misjudge people. I am sure they are in love with each other and it would be wrong therefore for me to finish today’s blog by suggesting that later that night in their cabin, the “oohs and aahs” we’re being made by Meganov Foxanov fantasising about her next shopping trip and that new Cartier diamond necklace.

Yep, such is my life. The Russian fat bloke gets to spend the night drinking martinis and talking about reenacting chapter 7 of 50 Shades of Grey with Meganov Foxanov while this British fat bloke gets to have a diet Coke with Calvyn while talking about his love of Sweating to the Oldies with Richard Simmons.

Such is my life.

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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