TWO BIG GUYS IN A COMPACT AND ONE GUY IN THE NEWS

November 19, 2012 -

John Heald

A compact car……a sodding compact car. Are you kidding me? My fat, flaccid arse, Calvyn’s huge oil rig thighs and three suitcases……in a Ford Focus. Oh, FFS. “So upgrade,” I hear you all cry. Ummmmm……….I can’t. It’s strict company policy that no upgrades are allowed and if I did ignore this policy, the lady in charge of the entire company’s travel and expenses credit card bills would not be happy. The lady in question is De and she is the most wonderful lady and has been with us for many many years and we all love her. In fact I think I am right in saying that she has been with the company as long as anyone and is an icon at Carnival HQ. But we live in fear of her because if we lose a receipt, upgrade or do anything that is not in the company guidelines she will be very cross indeed.

Our President Gerry Cahill once lost a receipt for a business lunch and De took away his company credit card for a week and, as extra punishment, made him stand in the parking lot at Miami HQ for three hours, in the hot sun, wearing only his underpants, holding a sign that said “I must not lose a receipt ever again.” Then there is the mysterious story of a lady who worked for Carnival for some years. She apparently decided to upgrade her car rental and she also added a GPS and the fuel option! She had worked for Carnival for some years but mysteriously soon after she upgraded she mysteriously disappeared. We were told that she had left the company and had become a nun but we all knew what had happened. She had broken De’s laws and was probably either in a Gulag in Siberia or was swimming with the fishes.

So not wanting to be whacked by De Soprano I didn’t upgrade and that was me, having to drive with my knees wedged into the dashboard and my face pressed up to the windscreen as though I wanted to lick it clean with my tongue. I then had to drive through hell….. or 836 West as it’s known in Miami. You know, life is indeed full of frightening things and along with seeing myself naked in the mirror and seeing your wife reading Lorena Bobbitt’s life story, driving in Miami is as frightening as it gets. Now we Brits have this image of the average American driver. They are wearing cowboy hats and boots and drive cars the size of a small African country. This is based on TV programs we all watched as kids. The one I will always remember watching is Cannon where the man mountain who played this TV detective had a car longer than a Fantasy-class ship.

This image does not apply however to 836 West which is the road I have to take to get from my hotel to Miami HQ where the CD conference will be taking place. On this highway to hell, the amicable driver in the cowboy hat turns into a machine gun-wielding maniac. This is mostly applicable when you try and turn off 836 West when your exit suddenly appears. In the UK we are overly efficient and signs will tell you your exit is 88 miles ahead and on 836 West the sign for 87th Avenue which is the exit for Miami HQ tells you, “Turn now you f****g idiot, it’s here you blind limey bastard.” Now, God forbid that you are in the wrong lane and you indicate to move over because the man or woman that is gripping the steering wheel with its claws will not slow down and will not let you in. If you dare try and move over regardless, you will be treated to a symphony of horn blowing and a varied number of hand gestures some of which to this day I do not understand because for the most part the hand gestures are in Spanish.

OK, time for some Q&A and then I will pop up to see the lovely De Soprano and lavish her with chocolate cake and ships on sticks and a Carnival Breeze T-Shirt and try to get her to authorise a slightly bigger car for me because, honestly, when people drive next to Calvyn and I in a Ford Focus they look, point and laugh. Oh, joy. If she says, “no,” I may take the chance and do it anyway and if you never hear from me again, you know that I have been whacked and am buried in her garden being pooed on by her cats.

Here are today’s questions.

Elizabeth Gardener asked:

This is a table for two request for the cruise coming which will be my platinum cruise. It is unfair that because I do not have a Facebook page account that this request may go unread and even though I am a VIP, I won’t get the service I deserve from you. The customers who write on your blog should be given as much instant response as the customers who write on Facebook and that this does not happen is unfair and unjust. I am cruising with my partner on the Carnival Dream 12/22.

John says:
Hello Elizabeth Gardener,

I apologise for not answering until now but I am glad I found this question before you sail in a months’ time. I will ask the maître d to assist with your table request and I wish you both a wonderful cruise and a big thank you for your loyalty.

Best wishes.

John

Wayne Crossman asked:
John,

My DW and I just returned from our 30th anniversary cruise on the Carnival Miracle. We both walked away with a feeling of good, not great. Nothing that would make us storm away from Carnival, but nothing to make us chose Carnival over others. I’ve logged my thoughts and concerns to guest services. Today, I received two responses — one addressing my concerns and another that starts out just like the first one but then starts addressing something that doesn’t sound familiar. The second one starts with “Mr. Crossman” but after the boilerplate sections. addresses me as “Mrs. Peters.” Now, unless I had some radical surgery in the midst of the email (which I think I would have remembered), this was a good example of what’s happening. To answer the obvious question, Mrs. Peters is not my wife. I won’t bore you with details, nor do I want to get anyone in trouble. If you’re interested enough in my thoughts, the emails were both titled POCM-SS-MI-10102012-1 CARNIVAL MIRACLE 09/11/2012. If you’re interested, I’m sure you’ll be able to pull something out of your bag of tricks and find my original submission of comments.

One item I didn’t mention to guest services was my nightmare of finding the cab stand after the cruise. I was given bad information by a worker in the terminal which snowballed into a panic attack (from Mrs. Crossman, not Mrs. Peters). When I emailed the Manhattan Cruise Terminal, they said they were your employees. The answer to my question, “Are the taxis right here or downstairs?” I was told, “Right here downstairs.” I know you field a lot of complaints and, hopefully, as many compliments. Like I said, Carnival would still be one of our choices. We’re trying to figure out if we should take our two cruises to slide into Platinum status before the grandfathering period ends. I know we’re only Gold shareholders, but I do thank you for being a great brand ambassador.

Thank you,

Wayne Crossman (aka, Mrs. Peters)

John says:
Hello Wayne Crossman,

Firstly and most obviously I need to apologise for the glaring mistake of addressing our reply to you using completely the wrong name. I am glad to see you had a good time but, obviously, we need to investigate what your concerns were and work hard to fix them. I have asked a colleague to look into your comments and make sure they are addressed to you this time using the correct name. Thanks then for taking the time to write and I will as I said make sure we look carefully at your concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have anything you need.

Best wishes.

John

Alann Benteke asked:
John,

Having recently cruised on the Carnival Fantasy I must tell you how impressed I was with our cabin steward, Clifton. On formal night my wife was crying because she lost an earring that her sister had given her for a wedding gift. She searched high and low for it bit it was not to be found. On the way out to dinner, she mentioned it casually to Clifton and when we got back to the cabin there it was with a note from Clifton saying he had found it under the bed. This really made my wife so happy as you see her sister passed away from cancer just six months before the cruise and obviously the earring had huge sentimental value and I wanted you to know what a wonderful employee Carnival has in Clifton the cabin steward for U77.

John says:
Hello Alann Benteke,

This was a joy to read but let me start by sending you and your wife and family my sympathies at your loss and I can understand, of course, why that earring had such sentimental value. I will make sure Clifton and his supervisors read your wonderful words of praise and I know Clifton will be proud to see his name in writing here. I hope we see you both again very soon.

Best wishes.

John


Mary Mason asked:

John,

Regarding the table numbering request from a post back in August: My husband and I sailed on Carnival Victory last week. Numbering the dining table is already being utilized and we absolutely appreciated this! While this was my husband’s second cruise with Carnival and my third, we had the most spectacular time. It’s by my own fault it will now take me a week to recover! 😀 Wishing we could join you for the Bloggers Cruise!!!

Cheers.

John says:
Hello Mary Mason,

I am glad you found the table numbering easy and I am so happy to know you had fun. I hope we will see you again soon and we will miss you both on BC6. If there is anything I can do for you please let me know.

Best wishes.

John

Kurt Muller asked:

I am from Germany. If I cruise with ou Carnival will you have German people to help me understand what we ask and want?

John says:
Hello Kurt Muller,

Yes indeed we do. Each ship has a German-speaking guest services associate who will be on hand to answer every question you have. We also have the menus in German for you. I hope we do see you on one of our ships soon and if I can help please let me know.

Best wishes.

John

Michael Fern asked:
Hey,

Mr. fat cruise director. How come when you book a suite with Carnival that compared to other cruise lines who give you free dinners in specialty restaurants and even butler service with Carnival you get nothing. Sucks to be you!

John says:
Hello Michael Fern,

I do know that we allow our guests that book suites to have priority boarding and priority debark and that the rooms themselves are spacious and make wonderful places from which to call home during the cruise. I can’t say for sure but I would guess the prices of our suites compared to lines that offer butler service would be different, as well, of course. I hope you get to enjoy a cruise with us in a suite very soon and my apologies for being fat.

Best wishes.

John

Lynn Bryant asked:

We were on a Carnival cruise in 2010 on the Carnival Liberty, Todd was the cruise director, and is it true that he will be the cruise director on our cruise this November on Carnival Dream?, I digress, In the lobby bar every evening, their a duo team, she sang and he played the piano, I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the talent, can you find out the name of the group, the woman, had a fabulous voice, that rang out all over the ship when she sang, and she sang a wide variety of songs. I pray they are, many people are asking.

Thank you.

Lynn Bryant

John says:
Hello Lynn Bryant,

Todd is currently on a leave of absence and your CD will be Jaime Dee who I know you will enjoy. The duo you are referring to are called White Mouse and are indeed fantastic. They will be back with us in the New Year on Carnival Magic. Please have a wonderful cruise and let me know if I can help with anything.

Best wishes.

John

The McDermotts asked:

We will be on the Breeze cruise of 11/24/12 and are a family of 4 staying in 7423 and 7437. Can you hook us up with a table for 4? We are devout Christians, Mr. Heald, and always say grace and prayers before supper and find that when we do other passengers at the table pour scorn on us. Please then can you arrange a table for the four of us? It would be nice if more of your passengers would give thanks out loud before eating and they can start by using this simple prayer

Matthew 6:9-13 after this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. Thank you and God bless you.
Kevin, Valerie, Matthew and Simon McDermott

John says:
Hello Mcdermott Family,

I have asked the ship to assist you with your table request and I am sure we will be able to help you. Thanks for the kind words and I wish you all a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Steve Owen asked:
John,

Just wanted to send a note concerning our recent cruise aboard the Carnival Dream. We were on the 9/22/12 cruise, which was the first cruise since the Carnival 2.0 upgrades to the Carnival Dream. We loved the changes and had an incredible time, while we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. We were thrilled to receive the bottle of champagne (which was received from Steve, our cruise director), an amazing and unexpected touch! We absolutely loved the steakhouse and dined on two separate evenings there. Please allow me to recognize the amazing experience that Ekatrina, our hostess from the Scarlett dining room provided to our party. One of the members of our party, my sister in law, has very special diet needs, each and every day Ekatrina made certain that the chef prepared her meals in a special manner to enable her to enjoy the dinners as much as the rest of us. She even made certain that the meals we enjoyed at the steakhouse were also prepared specially for her. We have never experienced a more caring and professional approach that we received from Ekatrina. If you can please forward this note to her detailing how much we appreciated her devotion to making our cruise spectacular. With exceptional service like this we will continue to be lifelong Carnival loyalists.

John says:
Hello Steve Owen,

As always it is so wonderful to read your review and I was so happy to see that you enjoyed the upgrades on Carnival Dream. All the crew you mentioned will also be very happy to see their names here and to see how much you enjoyed their wonderful service. So thanks to you and thank you for your loyalty and long may that continue.

Best wishes.

John

Elaine Davis asked:

My family and I were on the Carnival Freedom leaving out of Fort Lauderdale August 19, 2012. My husband left $438 inside our cabin on debarkment day. We just took a chance and filled a case with missing property. Low and behold, we received a check for $438 in the mail a month later. Carnival’s crew is really a class act and we really appreciate their honesty and integrity. I also wrote about this on the Cruise Critic board and will spread our happy story all around. Wish I knew which steward turned the money in so I can write a personalized letter commending him or her.

John says:
Hello Elaine Davis,

Yipeeeeeeeeee. Sorry, just felt like shouting that out loud. Thanks for taking the time to write and even though we don’t know here who found it the ship, I will make sure they see this post from you and your thanks. I am so happy this had a happy ending.

Best wishes.

John

Marie Wolff asked:
John,

Me, my DH Bob, and, two of our friends are sailing on the Carnival Breeze on BC6. We are looking to do the Deluxe Lobster and Champagne cruise in Antigua. As I have breathing difficulties and cannot do much climbing or long distance walking, and, my friend has arthritis and has pain walking, I would like to know if the catamaran will stop at a dock for us to disembark, or, if not, can we stay on the boat? I hope we will be able to do this excursion as it looks wonderful. Thank you for your attention to this matter and for all you do for your cruising friends.

Marie

John says:
Hello Marie Wolff,

I was just there a few days ago and even spoke about this tour during my Fun Ashore talk. The answer is yes, you will be fine and the shore excursion manager says you should have no concerns. The tour sold out here quickly and from the description, I am not surprised. I hope you have a wonderful time and I will see you on BC6.

Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today and thanks to everyone for their comments and questions.

So here I am back in Miami again after what I think was the best crossing I can remember for a long time. Yes there were some miserable people and, boringly, I will say again that there always are on a trans-Atlantic because it’s the law. I have shared with you some of the stories here and on my Facebook page and the last one of the grumps I dealt with was on Saturday, the day I left.

That morning I sat with Ana, the guest services manager, and listened to a chap tell me how NCL was better than us. Everything was better there, the food, the service, the passengers, the ship, the shower curtain, the duvets, the toilet paper, the entertainment, etc., etc., were all better on NCL.

He had demanded this meeting and we obliged him and I have to be honest that in the 45 minutes we were with him in Ana’s office he talked for 42 minutes of that time. And he talked in such a condescending voice only stopping to look down at some notes he had made listing why we were crap and NCL was not. And then the punch line because he then, out of nowhere, said that because of our inferiority that we owed him a 50 percent refund of his cruise. And I should say before I forget that while we listened and respected his views and even agreed that we needed to look at the volume of the shows and on Lido Deck (I wrote about that on Facebook last week) we did not give him a 50 percent refund or anything else for that matter.

He then told me how the cruise director on NCL’s Epic was the best and how, “I could learn a lot from him.” As he said this, he looked at me as if he expected me to thank him for this and shake his hand for telling me I was a terrible CD and that the chap on NCL was so much better than I was. Now he may be but did he really expect me to thank him for telling me I was not a good cruise director. Yep, I was grateful in the same way that a turkey is likely to give you a high five the day before Thanksgiving.

But Mr. Epic, along with a few others, was the minority and this crossing had sunshine and calm seas. We had great entertainment and Calvyn and I had so much fun at the seven morning shows we hosted which by the third show had a live audience who came to see it. The crew of the Carnival Breeze were outstanding and now have a busy few days ahead as they get ready for US Coast Guard, a full immigration check, VIP parties and, of course, the first group of cruises from Miami. I want to thank the crew most of whom have been here for the European season and did a brilliant job and I have no apprehension in saying that this ship will soon be number one in the fleet because of the crew and because she is simply our best ship yet and on six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises, I have no doubt she will be at the number one position.

So what about me, what am I up to? Well, tomorrow we start the cruise director conference and here is who is attending, have a look at the names and see how you have cruised with.

  • Barnes, Risa
  • Baxter, Jen
  • Bird, Karl
  • Boennighausen, Kirk Benning
  • Brierley, Gary
  • Burn, Malcolm
  • Calabrese, Brad
  • Cassel, Steve
  • Charlton, James
  • Deitsch, Jaime
  • Dunn, James
  • Heald, John
  • Knisley, Steve
  • Lee, Willie
  • Loyer , Brent Mitchell
  • Lyons, Skip
  • Mayes, Jeremy
  • Neumann, Goose
  • Noonan, Kevin
  • Roberts, Chris
  • Santley, Paul
  • Serrina Do Couto, Felipe
  • Valente, Ralph
  • Linton, Troy

Stuart Dunn is in Australia, Todd Wittmer is on leave and Josh Big Sexy is on Carnival Glory’s first cruises since dry dock. During the conference which by the way moves to the Carnival Breeze on the 21st, the acting CD’s and the ACD’s will have their chance to shine and I wish them all the best of luck. I will have live Facebook updates on what we are all talking about so hope you will have time to stop by.

On Wednesday, I will be hosting something ummmmm………………huge. More on that later.

This is one huge turkey and I will have photos of it later this week. Sounds like this is going to be a fun event and of course it is all for a wonderful cause.

For those of you by the way who are sailing on the two-day cruise please make sure you come and say hello. I will be in the conference for some of the time but stop by the Limelight Lounge on embarkation day between 2:30pm and 3:30pm and we can say hello and take a photo together and I wish you all a wonderful time.

So it appears that our beloved Guy Fieri’s new restaurant in New York has been in the news because a food critic from the New York Times. Now I haven’t been there, of course, so I can’t really comment on Guy’s restaurant but what I do know is that his burgers on board our ships are simply historic and very, very popular with our guests – like upwards of 1,200 burgers a day! I was never a huge fan of burgers you know, especially fast food operators like McDonald’s. OK, I know for some I am treading on hallowed ground here by daring to say anything bad about Ronald and his golden arch but I can’t help myself. I eat them very rarely and although my huge rotund stomach may suggest otherwise, there are many other things I would prefer to put in my mouth before a McDonald’s burger. I know I’m in the minority here know that because for many of you reading this a Big Mac and fries is as comforting as a hug from your mother, and as tasty as Megan Fox in stockings and suspenders. But given a choice between a Guy Fieri burger and a Big Mac, I know what I would have.

And it is obvious that our guests agree, thousands of them in fact. I watch our crew serve glistening burgers and Guy’s signature onion rings to our guests and the look of anticipation is a joy to see and the look of total utter joy as they take that first bite is even more so. I spoke to a guest here on the Carnival Breeze about it. He is a Diamond guest and someone in his early seventies and he told me how fantastic the Guy’s burgers are. He said it took him back to the 1950s and his memories of the burgers he would eat then. I have no idea what Guy puts in his recipe as I know bugger all about food but his burgers hit the spot, and if you put his special sauces on the burger it hits your shirt, then your pants and then drips onto your shoes. Brilliant! So to Mr. New York Times food critic, I want to say this. The Guy Fieri burger holds pride of place in my mind as the best hamburger I have ever eaten by a landslide, a simple but delicious one of a kind patty that is the best thing I have ever put in my mouth and yesterday many on Facebook agreed. Why then are Guy’s burgers so popular? Well I think the simple answer is that it gives our guests exactly what they want, the best burger in the world. The end.

And one last thing about my car hire experience and that is we are strictly not allowed to rent a GPS unit and this means if Calvyn and I get lost, which we will we will have to ask for directions. Asking for directions is something that as a man I hate to do. Having to stop the car and ask someone implies that they are smarter than me which of course they are not because I am in my nice air conditioned car while they are enduring 88 degrees of heat. However, there have been times when I have to swallow my immense pride and ask someone for help. And in Miami where some of the roads and highways and one way systems seem to have been designed by a 12-year-old, I have to ask for directions a lot.

Over the years, I have made up my own set of rules for this, if you ask where somewhere is to a member of the carless society….. Or in Miami the Car-los ….. society…Get it? Car-los…..ha ha ha ha……and they start with the word “err”……….bugger off immediately ……..just drive away……because they don’t know and if you listen to them past the word “err” you will spend the next five hours driving around in circles ending up in some shanty town where you will be attacked by the local gang for driving through their turf.

The problem is that if you do find someone who does indeed know where you need to go and starts describing the route you are still buggered. This is because it is (as Heidi will tell you) a medically proven fact that when asking for directions, men cannot hear anything past….“you turn left at the McDonald’s” and then our brain just shuts down …… we can’t take in the information because we are thick and too proud to admit that we had to ask some carless person where to go.

One of the reasons that the Germans never invaded the UK was not just the brave allied troops but because the German troops got lost. They invaded Paris and then said ”Wo is ze England” …….”Ich bin losten”……..they couldn’t ask the French because they, of course, were all hiding.

And the biggest problem is, of course, when Calvyn and I drive up in our compact car with our faces shoved against the window and our thighs stuck together through super glue fat sweat, anyone we ask for directions will be too busy laughing their arses off to give us directions.

I will be back tomorrow, live, from the cruise director’s conference

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.