TWO SIDES TO EVERY STORY

November 7, 2012 -

John Heald

I have been travelling a lot these past two weeks and will be doing so again and, of course, that means more flights but equally as annoying, more hotels. I have stayed in many different hotels during my job as brand ambassador and though they may all have different names, they are all exactly the sodding same. Now, everyone knows that one of the worst parts of a cruise is getting off the ship. Not just the feeling that the fun is over and that it’s time to go back to work, school or watching Judge Judy for fun but because we have to ask that everyone leaves pretty much at the same time because in just a couple of hours’ time, 3,000 more happy guests will be coming on board ready for their slice of Carnival fun to start. And during those couple of hours, the brilliant and extraordinary state room stewards have to get 20-plus staterooms ready and clean which they do of course and now with Faster to the Fun on some ships, the pressure on them to get the state rooms cleaned is even greater.

So as I stay in these hotels, whether it be in Miami or New Orleans, I wonder why the people at the Hyattcontineantalarriott insist that you must be out of the hotel by 11 am on check-out day. This always seems ridiculous to me especially as some hotels have a check-in time of 4 pm. Now I am not knocking the work the hotel cleaners do but come on, if our stateroom stewards can do all those cabins in such a short time and with guests arriving at the hotel at different times within a 24-hour period what happens between those hours, why do I have to leave the room at 11 am? Who is cleaning those rooms, a 97-year-old using a walking frame?

Last week in New Orleans, I had a 5 pm flight but Francine the maid was banging on my door at 9:50 am telling me that I had to leave immediately or she would report me to the manager. She completely ignored the Do Not Disturb sign and was insistent that I bugger off. Here at Carnival we have a rule about the Do Not Disturb or Snoozing sign that says unless it’s out for a 24-hour period we will honour that sign and not disturb you. If it is out for a long period, we will check to make sure everyone inside the cabin is OK. This rule does it seem not apply to hotels. The posher the hotel, the harder it is to gain any sense of sodding privacy. The minute you decide to go to the bathroom to lower yourself onto the toilet to lay some brown cable, the man whose job it is to check the mini bar-inventory bursts in.

Anything resembling rumpy pumpy triggers a whole procession of turn down service ladies, maintenance men, maids and the manager. And all we have to stop the invasion is the Do Not Disturb sign, that last paper line of defence that nobody ever takes bugger all notice of anyway. I find this even more annoying than hotel mini-bars, those lamps that never work, toilets that are only a few inches off the ground and that I need a block and tackle to get onto and off and that have only just enough suction to take away a slice of hamster poo, let alone one of my huge torpedoes. I’ve checked in as late as 10 pm to a room but still been told I must be out by 11am and, without a blush, charged full price. Per hour, that’s charging more than a Latvian prostitute ……allegedly. I hate these hotels and I would rather stay at H82SEAUGO’s house……. and look at his prize collection of screen names.

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

William Stewart asked:

Thirty years ago in 1982 we celebrated our honeymoon on our first cruise aboard the Mardi Gras. This Saturday we celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary aboard the Carnival Dream with our daughter, son in law and grandson who is eight months old. We thought it was amazing when we saw a picture of these two ships in a recent edition of the “Cruise Travel” magazine. Is the Mardi Gras still active anywhere in the world? My how the cabins have changed in 30 years! Cheers!

John says:
Hello William Stewart,

I am very late in answering this question so my apologies for that and my hopes that you had a brilliant time and that the whole family had fun. I wish I had seen this before so I could send you a little something. Anyway, yes, the Mardi Gras. What a ship she was and indeed how the cabins have changed because on that ship you could take a shower, clean your teeth and go to the toilet without getting out of bed. She was though a grand ship and she laid the foundations to where we are now. From what I understand the ship has been scrapped but I could be mistaken. I hope we see you again soon and again my apologies for the lateness to my reply.

Best wishes to you all.

John

Helgi Skulason asked:
Dear John,

This is my first time writing to you. My wife and I are going on our 6th Carnival cruise on board Carnival Legend on Jan 13, 2013. We like many others have had our good times and maybe not so good times on Carnival ships but I still find cruising to be the perfect vacation for ME. The reason I am writing you is that two weeks ago, my wife had surgery and had an ICD installed and now she and I are a little nervous about going through security both at airports and on the ship. I am sure ship staff has had training about this and will consider her needs as she enter and leaves the ship. Could you please just confirm that for her so we can both relax and count down the days to sailing.

Thank you.

Helgi

John says:
Hello Helgi Skulason,

Yes of course we can and we will help and please tell your wife she will be fine and all will be well. Please can I ask that you contact our guest access services/special needs desk and they will assist you and provide help if she needs it to embark and disembark the ship. Please, don’t worry about the security scanner either as we are used to handling this and again our guest access services department. Please let me know if there is anything at all I can do for you and I wish you a wonderful cruise together.

Best wishes.

John

Adam and Clara Nadrine asked:

We wanted to both thank you for making our honeymoon cruise so much fun. Thanks to your help we got our table for two and also we got a waiter called Boris from Serbia who was the best we have ever had in our now five cruises, four of which are with Carnival. The gifts you send were so thoughtful and the whole experience was magic just like the ship. And guess what, John? We are pregnant. The magic worked and we are expecting a baby in April and we are sure he/she was conceived on the ship.

Thank you, John and thank you, Carnival.

John says:
Hello Adam and Clara Nadine,

What joyous news that is and I am thrilled for you both. I wish the three of you much happiness together and many more cruises on which to make him or her a brother or a sister or both. I will pass on your thanks to your waiter Boris, and again, many congratulations.

Best wishes.

John

Meg McDevitt asked:
Hi John,

I must say I am super excited to be cruising with you on the Carnival Breeze November 24! Eight glorious, sun-filled days in the Caribbean with my boyfriend and his family. My boyfriend’s (Mike) sister’s (Lindsay) boyfriend Joel is planning to propose to Lindsay on the cruise and was thinking of surprising her during one of the comedy show nights. Is there a way you or someone else might be able to assist Joel with this? He wants to make it really special and sporadic. Something that will really catch Lindsay off guard when she least expects it. Is there someone Joel might be able to contact either via email or a phone call? Thank you in advance for your help and advice.

Meg

John says:
Hello Meg,

I am sure we can sort something out for you and I will talk to my colleague Butch who will be the CD. Together we can make this happen. Please have Joel come to the guest services desk at embarkation and ask for the CD Butch who will be in touch and without Lindsay knowing. I am sure we can help him with a romantic proposal for sure. Thanks for writing, have a wonderful cruise and…..ssshhhhhhhhh………..don’t tell Lindsay.

Best wishes.

John

Keith La Farge asked:
John,

PLATINUM CRUISER HERE and need a table for four because last time we were seated with a family from Puerto Rico whose English was nonexistent and this spoiled every meal time and made it so awkward for me and my wife. This time, bringing the son and daughter in law cabins 6257 & 6263 Breeze Dec. 8.

John says:
Hello Keith La Farge,

I am sure it must have been awkward for the family from Puerto Rico so my apologies to you all. I have asked the maître d and I know he will do his best to get you a table for four. Have a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Linda Seaman asked:

Just venting: I have cruised Carnival many times, some solo. I can understand the 200 percent I have to pay, but I don’t like it. I eat half the food, use half the amount of water … etc but still have to pay for two people. Today, I called my TA and was going to book a B2B next September 2013. A bucket list item. I was told that not only do I have to pay 200 percent, I will have to pay a deposit of 200 percent instead of $300/250, I have to come up with $1,100 deposit to book this B2B. It appears to me that Carnival really doesn’t want solo cruisers. I accept bending over with K-Y jelly for the 200 percent but it appears they want me to bend over without the jelly. I’m so disappointed with Carnival. Thanks for listening.

Linda

John says:
Hello Linda Seaman,

Please feel free to vent here anytime and I certainly understand where you’re coming from. I wish there was something I could say or do to make you feel better but for now, all I can do is send your comments to the beards which I will do now. I do hope we see you again soon and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.

Best wishes.

John

Deidra Johnston asked:
John,

Do you do anything for nurses? I know you give military discounts but why nothing for the hardest working people in the world, nurses, who get no thanks and whose pay sucks! Why will carnival not do anything for us nurses?

John says:
Hello Deidra Johnston,

I agree that like teachers, nurses are indeed underpaid and I certainly know how hard you work. We do give military discount but don’t currently offer this for nurses, I’m afraid. We do though have the early saver program that really offers discounts for everyone and I hope you can check that out at carnival.com Thanks for all you do and I hope we see you soon on one of our ships.

Best wishes.

John

Robin Eubank asked:
Dear John,

Only 122 days until we sail on the Carnival Magic. I have read so many wonderful things about the Chef’s Table that I have made reservations to partake in the experience. I know about wearing closed toe shoes; but what is the appropriate dress for such a grand occasion? Thanks for the info.

Robin

John says:
Hello Robin Eubank,

Thanks for the kind words and yes, indeed, it is a brilliant experience and one I know you will truly enjoy. There is no dress code for this but I have seen that most dress casually and some more elegant casual. Most importantly, with the exception of shorts and T-shirts – wear what’s comfortable for you. I hope you have a brilliant time and if there is anything I can do for you please let me know.

Best wishes.

John

Ron asked:

Will there be a religious service on the Carnival Elation for the Dec 24-29 five-day Christmas cruise?

John says:
Hello Ron,

I am afraid there won’t be. We will ask if there are any guests on the ship who wishes to help lead a service and that often works but nothing official from our side I am afraid. I do hope you have a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Julie asked:
Dear John,

I am fairly new to cruising, with only one under my belt and one in a few weeks. I was looking over itineraries and wondering if there was ever a cruise that went up the east coast stopping just in US cities? My DH and I LOVE American travel and history. It would be so nice to combine the two. Maybe a departure in Norfolk and then stops in Boston, Portland, NYC, Charleston, somewhere in Florida, then return. To me, that would be AWESOME!

Thanks,

Julie.

John says:
Hello Julie,

To answer your question, there is something called the Jones Act, in which the U.S. government does not allow ships to sail from one U.S. port and end up at another or the same one without visiting a foreign destination in between. We do offer a cruise from New York that visits ports in Boston and Maine, as well as stops in eastern Canada, that may be of interest to you. Please let me know if you have any other questions and I will be here for you.

Best wishes.

John

Josh Brown asked:

Hello there trying to find out what ship Wee Jimmy will be on in February or April 2013? We were on the Paradise with him and it was by far the best cruise/director ever! We are thinking about going in Feb or April next year! Thanks for your help!

John says:
Hello Josh Brown,

Good timing because at the bottom of this page is the link to the new CD schedule I posted on Monday and will show where the wee one is. He is fantastic by the way isn’t he?

Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today and thanks so much for your kind words, comments and views. There are two sides to most stories. I say this because those who have read my Facebook page these last few days may have seen some comments from a group who sailed on a ship and all wanted to voice their opinion about something. I won’t go into any more detail here but there are times that I wish I could post the other side of the story but it’s best, I think, not to. It always though amazes me how the same situation can be thought of so differently by people as these two letters will show.

It was a very tough cruise with missing Venice and Monaco and a reverse itinerary definitely disappointing for the guests but it is extraordinary how people view what happened so differently isn’t it? Well today we are in Palma de Majorca, it’s 63 degrees and mostly sunny and so far everything is going well. I had a fun welcome aboard show last night, apart from an older man in the very front row who slept through the entire 45 minutes. At one point I thought he had died so I walked off stage, sat next to him and started serenading him with a terrible version of Silent Night. Nothing, he kept on sleeping and so I tickled his ear just to make sure he was indeed alive. He was. He opened his eyes, looked at me, frowned, stood up…..and walked out of the show room …………..oops.

One of the things I am really pushing home is the washing of hands. This is my first TA crossing for some years and of the many I have done the one that I will always remember is the Carnival Liberty‘s in 2007. And I remember it for all the wrong reasons. That’s because, of course, I and several hundred guests went through that awful outbreak of norothingy during the crossing from Italy to Fort Lauderdale. The entire Deck 0 had so many sick guests and crew, it didn’t smell very nice as you can imagine so after awhile Deck 0 was simply known ………as Paris.

Even though I joke about it, that was a very nasty situation and I never want to go through that again which is why we have fleet wide reminders about washing hands with warm water and soap and to use the hand sanitizers as much as possible. And if you look back over the last few years our efforts appear to have been working and I am definitely promoting this here on Carnival Breeze. But while the washing of hands thing is being listened to on board I can say that unfortunately it isn’t on land.

Recently I encountered someone in a public toilet….…no not a George Michael kind of encounter, it was an encounter with someone on in hotel in New Orleans. Calvyn, Ryan, Butch and I had eaten lunch in the hotel restaurant and were about to get in the cab and head to the New Orleans Zoo where the event was to take place. I got the call of nature and went to the public bathroom for a pie and mash (rhyming slang www.urbandictionary.com.) As I was doing my number one as was a business type man in a suit. He did his business, zipped up and walked out of the bathroom without even looking at the sink let alone washing his hands. As he left, I remember thinking, “You dirty bastard,” I washed my hands and left to find the chap outside the toilets in the corridor scrubbing his hands like a surgeon using his own hand sanitizer gel. I obviously didn’t say anything but as I walked past him, I realised that he must have been worried about washing his hands and then touching the exit door which is why he washed them afterwards. Now being a bit thick I thought to myself that this made sense and was OK. But it took a few moments before I realised that hold on, it wasn’t OK because I had washed my hands and then opened the door, the door he had pulled open without washing his hands. And while he had scrubbed his hands clean I was about to eat my lunchtime chicken salad sandwich with his germs all over my hands which I definitely washed again. If you think about it, it’s men like this chap who while protecting himself from your germs don’t give a bugger about spreading his own germs onto you.

I remember talking to our fleet senior physician, Dr. John Bradberry, during a discussion about norovirus. He said that the simple washing of hands with warm water and soap is the most effective way of preventing the spread of illness but I wonder how many people actually do after going to the loo? Yes of course, I know you do and so do I. But it’s the other bastards who are the problem. Let’s say you work in an office and Bob from accounting goes to the toilet, points Percy at the porcelain and then leaves without washing his hands? He then walks straight to a meeting and shakes hands with some people or worse goes to the office coffee pot and pours a cup of coffee.

On the ships there is a small paper towel dispenser so that you can open the door with a towel and then throw the towel away in the garbage can placed outside. If bathrooms on land or at sea don’t have these, I open the doors with my sleeve or call Calvyn to come in and open the doors for me. I know a cruise director who never flushes a public toilet because he’s paranoid about touching the handle. The fact that some other unfortunate sod walks in and sees a huge Richard the Third (more rhyming slang) sitting there does not bother him at all.

More and more I see people using their own hand sanitizer and wipes although I am still flabbergasted about the comment on Monday’s blog about using wipes instead of toilet paper, does anyone else do this? Anyway, I will keep promoting the washing of hands and the use of the hand sanitizer units as I never ever want to go through anything like what happened on the Carnival Liberty ever again. We have strict cleaning procedures and it is my job to keep everyone remembering to wash their hands……….especially as we have many older guests on board and gastro illness in older people can be very nasty indeed.

I want to publicly thank the cruise director formally known as Jaime Deutsche but who is no known as Jaime Dee for the wonderful job she did here on the Carnival Breeze especially during the last cruise and all the changes that had to be made. I have been there myself countless times and I know how challenging it can be to keep everyone informed and calmly listen and understand as guests tell you what a piece of crap you are and how they will never cruise Carnival again etc etc.

Jaime is currently one of only three female CDs, along with Risa Barnes and Jen Baxter and I hope there are future female CDs waiting to shine. Of course, the most famous CD in the world was female, wasn’t she? I am not even sure if you could call The Love Boat a soap opera but whatever it was, it allowed us to escape into a world that back then was only for the rich and tanned. We fell in love with Captain Stubing who set the tone for all real life captains who were not hired for their seagoing skills but were given a job only if the looked like Gavin MacLeod. But the star was Cruise Director Julie McCoy. She had the most patience of any cruise director in the industry. I wish I could have interviewed her and allow her to be honest and I am sure she would have said: “I got sick of these f*****g passengers and their romantic problems. Do you know how many games of shuffleboard and volleyball I organised? Do you know how many times I wanted to take the skeet shooting rifles and shoot one in the head? If I have to listen to Charo do one more ‘cuchi cuchi,’ I’m taking one of those guns and turning it on myself. You have no idea John how hard it was to see everyone else falling in love and getting some rumpy pumpy. Let me tell you, by the end of season three, even Gopher was looking good.” Anyway, congratulations Jaime and good luck on the Carnival Dream although the Halloween costume she wore on the Carnival Breeze last week left a lot to be desired

 

Bastard!

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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