It’s great to be back with a blog today after a couple of weeks away and it will come as no surprise that I will start today by talking about toilets…….actually, it’s not me talking about toilets it’s a lady called Sarah.

Sarah Howe asked:

I am told you are the man to ask this question to. My DH and I will be cruising for the third time with Carnival this time on Carnival Valor. My question, John, is an odd one and nevertheless serious because it involves toilet paper and the fact that my DH and I never use it but instead we use wet wipes both at home and when we travel. This is something we have started to do recently and I was told by travel agent Nancy at Cruise Travel to contact you because I need to know if we can dispose of these wipes in the ship’s toilets because of the plumbing may get blocked. Is this correct John and, if not, how we do dispose of them? We cruise in January 2013 so I must have an answer before then. You should also know that millions of people are using wet wipes now because they are far more hygienic than cheap toilet tissue!!

John says:
Hello Sarah Howe,

I had no idea that “millions of people,” as you say are abandoning toilet paper and wiping their bottoms with wet wipes. The simple answer though to your question is no, please do not throw them down the toilet on the ship as they will for sure block the plumbing and make Luigi the plumber very upset indeed as he has to pull a load of baby wipes from the pipes. Instead, please contact your stateroom steward when you get on board and ask him for sanitary bags in which you can dispose of the mostly white wipes. I wish you a wonderful cruise and if you have any more questions, please let me know.

Best wishes.

John

I have to say I was astonished by this………wet wipes………really? Bugger me, it wasn’t that long ago that people were tearing up squares of the local newspaper and using them to remove buttock residue. Have we become so up market that we now need to use baby wipes? I realise that mankind has moved on a bit since we wiped our arses with straw, but I have to say, doesn’t using a wet wipe make your arse permanently wet? To each his own, I guess, and for now I though shall carry on using toilet paper and in the case of emergencies when there isn’t any …….. the shower curtain.

Time for more questions…………….away we go.

Damon Hammond asked:

I have been ignored here twice so if this goes unanswered, I will accept that you really do not care about your customers. My partner and I will be cruising on the Carnival Breeze on 12/8 and we want to make sure that you have a table for two for us. This will be our 10th year together and we have chosen Carnival to celebrate it and we do not want to be seated with any other passengers who would spoil our special time. We are in cabin 2471 and I hope this time you will have the proper professional decency to reply.

John says:
Hello Damon Hammond,

I apologise that it has taken me so long to reply and I am now way behind on the mountain of questions I get asked here so again please allow me to say sorry for the delay. I have contacted my friends, the maître ds, on the ship and they will do their best to get you that table for two. I wish you many more happy years together and a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Gary Whitbread asked:

Please, a request for the beards — whatever happened to the non-smoking ships? We just arrived back from the Carnival Pride and had a great time except for being unable to use our balcony because everyone around us was constantly smoking. It was very disappointing. Up on the Lido it is smoking starboard side only, if we can’t get the Carnival Paradise or something back as a whole non-smoking ship, how about designating one side of the ship’s balconies non-smoking so we can enjoy them. Thanks for the blog, it always makes me smile as for eight cruises we have seen almost every passenger type you describe 🙂

John says:
Hello Gary Whitbread,

Thanks for taking the time to write and, of course, I hope you had a wonderful cruise. We did indeed have a non-smoking ship, Carnival Paradise, where smoking was strictly forbidden on board for guests and indeed the crew. The ship was quite popular but one of the problems was if a group of family had one smoker in the party, then they would not book the ship. Also the figures showed that on board revenue was not equal to other ships and for these reasons we decided not to keep it as a non-smoking ship. Indeed, none of the major cruise lines have a totally non-smoking ship for these reasons as well, I am sure. Meanwhile, we have banned smoking inside the cabins and on most of the guest areas although as you mentioned we do allow smoking on the balconies but having one side smoking and one side not is not feasible, I am afraid. I am sorry that you were disturbed by the smoke and I hope that you did have fun and I have, as you requested, made sure the beards see your thoughts. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

Best wishes.

John

Karen Walker asked:

Is there a cost for having dinner at the fine dining restaurants and what is the dress code?

John says:
Hello Karen Walker,

If you are talking about the steakhouse then, yes, indeed, there is a charge of $35 and I promise it is worth every single penny. The dress code is casual except on elegant nights. Please let me know if you need anything else.

Best wishes.

John

Violet Martin asked:

My husband and I will be sailing with our children on Carnival Breeze this November 24 for our son’s fifth birthday. We want to book a cruise on the Carnival Sunshine for next year but I wanted to know if we should wait to book until on board the Carnival Breeze. Do you offer incentives if we book our next cruise while on board?

John says:
Hello Violet Martin,

It will not be too long before you are on the Carnival Breeze ready to have fun on our brilliant ship. We do indeed offer on board credits for booking on board so definitely it is worth at least talking to the loyalty and cruise expert on the ship. I wish you the most wonderful cruise and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.

Bill Tander asked:
John,

During my cruise on the Carnival Magic, my son was refused entrance to the dance club because he had forgotten his ID in the cabin. He is 19 and yet he had to go back to his cabin and was rudely treated by the security lady who stood at the door. I also have seen how your security is obtuse at the gang planks and they seem to be exempt from the mostly friendly service we have received on our 11 cruises.

John says:
Hello Bill Tander,

Thanks so much for taking the time to write. We do have very strict rules about checking ID at the entrance of the nightclubs for obvious reasons. And yes, we do expect our security staff to be polite and for the very most part, I think they are. While we’ve always had security on board, it’s interesting to see how it’s changed since I started back in the mid-1980s. If an incident happened then the person who would need to deal with it would be the Italian officer on duty. He would come down from the bridge (leaving someone else on the bridge, of course) and deal with the matter, mostly someone who had one too many Budweisers. In the mid 1990′s (I think) things got more formalized with our security team, which was mostly comprised of ex-army personnel, from India or the Philippines who dealt with Johnny Budweiser and the odd domestic squabble. And then came 9/11 and their job changed. Now, of course, you will see these security staff on the gangways and now their job is much, much more serious. They now have to patiently check ID’s to make sure no naughty people can get on board but also they need to check items brought from on shore. Then, once the ship sails, they patrol the vessel 24 hours a day (yes, they did this pre 9/11 but it wasn’t for the same purposes obviously). So, I wonder, Bill, if the next time you cruise you may spare these ladies and gentlemen a thought. I know they don’t make you laugh or entertain you at dinner or clean your cabin but they do provide a valuable service and meanwhile I will pass on your thoughts so that we make sure they do all this politely and professionally.

Best wishes.

John

Ray asked:
Hi John,

Big fan of the blog. Thanks again for all the time you spend putting it together. I recently took time away from cruising to try land-based vacations (about 1.5 years). When I recently returned to the Carnival Miracle a few weeks ago as a plat guest, I was pleasantly surprised at the following changes:

1) Excellent service by our head waiter Simona in the MDR.

2) Excellent upgrades to the menu during sea day brunch. This was well overdue…but a great idea. Having continuous service between breakfast and lunch instead of serving separate open seating breakfast/lunch gives guests more ability to relax and enjoy themselves, not having to rush to get to breakfast/lunch during specific times. Consider using the brunch menu for open seating breakfast/lunch during non-sea days…the old menu needs a bit of help.

3) The new loyalty program. I know there have been complaints and you will never please everyone, but I’m happy with the recent changes – nice work. One enhancement – for the Carnival logo item – consider some way for guests to choose between several. Having 10 sets of binoculars isn’t the best.

One area that I would recommend a change:

Staff recognition. As I travel a lot, I have status at many airlines and hotels. One thing I see in the airline and hotel programs that CCL could use is more instant staff recognition programs. For example, on a major U.S. airline, when you reach the highest status level, you are sent eight vouchers per year that you can give to flight attendants that go “above and beyond to serve.” When a flight attendant gets a voucher, they can redeem it for a $100 gift card of their choice. Wouldn’t something like this work for the crew? I like the idea of giving it to Platinum and Diamonds only, just because with so many cruises behind them, they may have a better idea of what going “above and beyond” really is. Either way…I think the idea could work for CCL.

Thanks again for listening!

Ray

John says:
Hello Ray,

Let me start by saying a huge thank you to you for taking the time to write this wonderful report and yes, indeed, I agree with the staff recognition idea and I think we should also have something like this, it’s a brilliant idea that I will send to the beards. It would be great to give the crew the recognition they deserve and for them to have a reward for providing it so I will for sure pass this on, thanks again for that. I am glad you liked some of the changes and I can tell you in January we will change the Platinum gift to something else and I will let you know what that will be in the weeks ahead. So thank you for your wonderful loyalty and I hope that we will see you again soon. I really liked the staff recognition idea and will work on this straight away.

Best wishes.

John

Jason Garcia asked:

Heald, what happened to the chocolate mints on the pillow? Just got off the Freedom and they had none. Is this another cutback or did you eat them. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ROTFLMAO

John says:
Hello Jason,

I am diabetic so if I did eat them all, I would be dead. We still give our guests these little extras each and every night on every ship but there are times such as happened on Carnival Freedom, that the ship does not receive their order. I am sorry you didn’t get them on your last cruise but I am sure they will be there for you the next time.

Best wishes.

John

Debra and Harold Wilson asked:

We took our 10th cruise on Sept 1, 2012. We should have been Platinum but were still issued Gold cards. We went to guest services on board the Carnival Triumph where our 10 cruises were verified and we were issued our Platinum cards. But looking on the site, it still shows us as Gold status. I know this is just a glitch but can you help us out? Thank you, John, for all you do! BTW, we enjoyed The Chefs Table immensely it made our 25th anniversary so special. Chef Gerald presented us with a cake.

John says:
Hello Debra and Harold Wilson,

I have asked my friend and colleague, Michelle, to check on this and she just told me you are showing as Platinum so this has been fixed. I thank you for your loyalty and if there is anything I can do for you please let me know.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Jeff asked:
Hi John,

Love your bloggy thing and I’m one of those who appreciate all you do to assist cruisers in enjoying their cruise. Need your opinion if you agree with me that Carnival has helped to disprove a “myth” that has been around for a long time. Recently in May 2012 after a three-year hiatus from cruising due to medical restrictions, we were finally able to return to cruising with a four-night cruise on the Carnival Fascination, a 2,052-passenger, 70,000-ton ship. Just recently we took a seven-night cruise on a competitor’s 3,600+ passenger, 160,000-ton ship. After we returned home, we discussed among ourselves the two cruises we have taken this year and we were all in agreement we enjoyed Carnival’s four-night cruise on the Carnival Fascination better than the seven-night cruise on the competitor’s ship. John, would you agree that Carnival has helped to disprove the myth “Bigger is Better!”

John says:
Hello Jeff,

Thanks so much for the kind words and I hope you enjoyed both your cruises and most importantly you are doing well now since your medical restrictions. Is bigger better? That is a tough one to answer. Certainly the huge leviathan ships are able to offer a lot of on board entertainment areas and some of them are from what I hear, pretty special. For me the thing a cruise ship needs to have is a wonderful crew and multiple places to see and hear the sea. Certainly our Fantasy, Spirit, Destiny, Conquest, Splendor and Dream classes offer something for everyone and with our Breeze 2.0 class just announced, we have an even bigger ship. Is bigger better…….sometimes it is…..and my wife would agree. Thanks again for the kind words and hope to see you soon.

Best wishes.

John

Gretchen asked:

You have talked in the blog about what the ships do for Halloween and Christmas. What about Easter? We will be sailing over Easter, just wondering.

John says:
Hello Gretchen,

We do an Easter egg hunt for the kids but that aside we really do not have any special Easter events. I know though that you will have a wonderful time.

Best wishes.

John

Myriam asked:
Dear John,

We cruised two years ago and you were the cruise director. We had so much fun watching your performances that we decided to book on the Carnival Magic last December during Christmas. Due to our jobs, my husband and I had been living thousands of miles apart, but wanted to spend the holidays together on a cruise and we knew we would have a blast. Unfortunately, you were on vacation so we missed you. We were so bored due to your absence that we spent lots of time in our room. I am writing now because we had some “magic” on the Carnival Magic, and our beautiful baby girl was born last week, 9 months after the cruise. She was conceived December 18, 2011, our first night on the Magic. I guess I should thank you for being on vacation and getting us into our rooms!

Myriam

John says:
Hello Myriam,

I am so sorry that you were bored and we will work harder on our activities. I am though thrilled that you came away from the cruise with something very special and I wish all three of you health and happiness and of course many more cruises.

Best wishes to you all.

John

That’s all for today and I will be back with more on Wednesday. And now, as promised, here is the latest cruise director schedule from January to July 2013.

First of all let me remind you that the schedule is always subject to change as things happen personally and professionally, of course, but for the most part the schedule is set and this wonderful group of cruise directors will work hard to make sure you all have a brilliant time.

As I am talking about CD’s, I should mention a late addition to November. As you may know we are in the process of making multiple changes in our entertainment department shore side and a new group of beards are, as we speak, being hired and they will be instructed to look at taking our live shows, activities and live music to even higher levels. At the center of all these changes on board will be the CDs and so it has been decided that later this month we will have a cruise director conference that looks like this.

NOVEMBER 19-20 – CRUISE DIRECTORS CONFERENCE IN MIAMI

NOVEMBER 21 – 24 – CONFERENCE MOVES TO CARNIVAL BREEZE

During the Miami portion of the conference the cruise directors will meet some of the new beards and will get up to date with the 2.0 upgrades and some of the exciting new entertainment themes we will bring to the ships. Then the conference moves on board so that the cruise directors can see some of the 2.0 upgrades including HASBRO, Playlist and many of the other upgrades in action. So, who is going to the conference? Well, most of the CDs will be there but two will not. Stuart Dunn remains in Australia on the Carnival Spirit and he needs to stay there as the season is still in its infancy. Also not going will be Josh AKA Big Sexy. He is the CD of the Carnival Glory and she will be just out of dry dock with all the 2.0 upgrades and so it is important that he remain there for that important first cruise. All the other CDs will be there….. except Butch. That’s because it is felt by the beards that as senior cruise director I should be there as well and so I will leave the Carnival Breeze in St. Maarten and Butch will join the ship and take over for the last three days of the voyage as it becomes his ship in Miami anyway.

While the CDs are at the conference, the acting CDs and assistant cruise directors will take over for those days and I will have a list of who will be doing that across the fleet in the next couple of days. I hope you enjoy seeing the schedule and as, I always, like to remind everyone, we are, I think the only cruise line that offers this insight and one of the reasons is that I believe the cruise director continues to be such an important part to the cruise experience. Do you agree? I hope so.

It’s been a busy week what with the Boo in the Zoo event which, by the way, was fantastic and then me hosting Carnival Conquest’s press event following her 2.0 upgrades. I had four flights, three different hotels and one itchy hemorrhoid but in my role as brand ambassador, I was once again proud to be at these events. Tomorrow, we sail on the trans-Atlantic cruise and here are the details of who is sailing with us.

Total guests 3,609

USA – 2,370
Canada – 451
Germany – 221
Canada (French) – 125
Great Britain – 99
Australia – 97
Netherlands – 72
Russian Federation – 17
Switzerland – 14
Argentina – 14
Bolivia – 1

Guests under 21 – 67

Aged 60 – 70 – 1,513
Aged 70 – 80 – 779
Aged 81 – 90 – 101
Aged 90 plus – 5

It’s going to be a challenging cruise, trans-Atlantic voyages always are but I am sure it will be fun and I will do my very best to make sure it’s the best TA ever. I will have more on this on my Facebook page and here on the blog and share dinner menus with you and highlights of all the activities. We sail on election night, of course, and I have decided to put a big screen up in the conference room and have rolling election coverage there for those who want to sit and watch with others. We will provide coffee and juice and make sure all sharp objects are removed. It looks like a tight race and I certainly am not going to wander into a political minefield and say who I want to win. I will say that while I am writing this, I am watching Bill Clinton on the BBC’s coverage and have been reminded what a brilliant orator he is. Whatever your view of his politics, his charisma, conviction and leadership skills are truly extraordinary.

British politics suffer for a complete absence of those characteristics among politicians and most of our leaders since Mrs. Thatcher, have the charisma of a French deodorant salesman. History may well have taken a different course during Clinton’s presidency if he hadn’t being photographed at the church doorway clutching his Bible and holding his wife’s hand before dashing off to the Oval Office to play hide the cigar with Monica in the executive toilet.

So all is set for a wonderful 16-day voyage and, as always, I wish you were here. Oh, by the way …….I am writing this from a hotel in Barcelona waiting for my ship to come in so I think I will have a little walk down Las Ramblas, eat some spicy paella……… which means I had also better buy a packet of wet wipes.

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.