THE FIRST BLOG OF 2013

January 3, 2013 -

John Heald

So here I am with the first blog of 2013 and as you will read shortly it’s business as usual with some news, lots of juvenile humour from yours truly and the Q&A session which I am sure for many of you is your favourite part. I did give a massive dollop of consideration to not answering questions on the blog anymore as I answer three billion a day on Facebook but as not everyone has Facebook and because it has always been part of the makeup of the blog thingy I shall indeed continue to sit here in my underpants and answer 10 per blog.

 

Now out of those 10, there is more often or not a comment that is from someone who is not happy and again I emphasize that I will not hide nor shirk from posting those because we learn from our mistakes and because this is not a corporate blog laced with lashings of “We are perfect,” I think it’s important that I continue to post these. When I get a complaint post from someone, it is fair enough. They are entitled to their opinion and are allowed to express it. The problem is that sometimes the poster thinks that they are not expressing an opinion. They think what they are expressing should be seen as fact. Then there are a few who have multiple screen names who dislike Carnival and dislike me. So much so that once they have their teeth into your buttocks, they will not let go until I am fired and dead. This means I have to go through life with a thousand John Deere tires on my back spending time trying to work out if the poster is real, has ever cruised with Carnival and is ticked off because I used the word “brilliant” again.

 

It is the way of the world though, isn’t it? Put yourself in the public eye on a blog or social media site and you will definitely upset someone. And even if that someone is a madman living in his mother’s basement the company has to listen, respond and apologise. When I was on the Carnival Breeze last year I noticed that one of our very best comedians had taken some of his more “edgy” material out of his adult show. I asked him why and he simply said, “It just isn’t worth it anymore.” He meant, of course, that writing comedy with a political or indeed a non-PC theme would get him in trouble. I have been in the office in Miami and I have seen my share of letters and emails that have been addressed to our President Gerry Cahill complaining about a joke or comment made in an uncensored show by a comedian and because we do take each comment seriously, it means that comedian has to be spoken to and an apology letter written. Obviously there are limitations but as we enter 2013 I do so concerned that there are those who have a quest for a politically correct world where there is no fun at all.

 

I shall try though to be more politically correct here on the blog and ignore the self-righteous and tunnel-visioned wankers with a burning desire to tell everybody else how they should live their lives and ready to dish out a massive bollocking if you should happen to disagree. I can only think that these people would make very poor neighbors.

 

Time for today’s Q&A………off we go

 

Randel Raison asks:
Hi, John,

thanks for the great blog. I’m “almost” Diamond status, and will reach that status next year for sure. I will typically go on eight or nine cruises per year, but can only go on the short ones (four-night, Thursday through Monday) because of work. During my time on Carnival Triumph out of Galveston, I’ve come to know much of the on-board staff. Of course, I’m usually armed with bags of chocolate, which is how most people will remember me. Aside from the dining room staff (dining is my favorite part of the cruise, of course), and knowing that CDs are the head of the entertainment department, I wanted to bring someone into light who I believe deserves recognition. Her name is Ines Galic, and she is currently the karaoke host on Carnival Ecstasy. I think she’s going home at some point this month. I met her a couple of years ago on Conquest, and then again four or five times when she was on Carnival Triumph. I hope there is a way to bring Ines back to Carnival Triumph. We’ve not really had a good time at karaoke since she left, and karaoke is one of the things we enjoy most on the ship (next to dining). And since Carnival Triumph is less than an hour drive for us, we go very frequently (next is 1/10/13). We’re excited about Europe! We’ll be on Carnival Sunshine on 4/26/13. I read every word of your blog, and really appreciate not only the humor, but the great information, as well. Thank you, and best.
Regards,

Randel Raison

John says:
Hello Randel Raison,

Thanks so much first of all for your loyalty and I am sure you will reach that wonderful Diamond status one day very soon. It is great to know that Ines has made such a great impression on you and I have sent this to the chap that does her schedule to see if indeed there is any chance of us moving her to the Carnival Triumph. I can’t promise that this will happen but I will for sure mention it to her manager. I know you will have a brilliant time on Carnival Sunshine and I will be posting more news about her very soon. Thanks again and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.
Best wishes.

John

Miranda H asks:
Mr. Grand Poobah,

My Cruise Critic friends told me you should be asked about the Platinum VIP laundry for our trans-Atlantic crossing on the Carnival Destiny before she becomes Carnival Sunshine. What is the limit? If it is two bags well that is ridiculous! Can you tell me WHAT THE AMOUNT IS???????

John says:
Hello Miranda H,

For a moment I thought you had called me Mr. Poo Bear but I see its Poobah which I have no sodding clue what you mean by that, maybe it is a term of endearment……….probably not though, right? Anyway, you will be allowed a total of three bags of laundry per Platinum guest during this wonderful voyage. I hope you have a brilliant time and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.
Best wishes,

John

James and Carly Casper asks:
John,

Can you please tell me what the plans are for the Super Bowl? We cruise on the Carnival Freedom and wanted to makes sure that there was going to be a party and the game shown.
Thanks in advance,

James and Carly Casper

John says:
Hello James and Carly Casper,

Yes indeed. All the ships will show the big game and those like the Carnival Freedom will have the game shown on the Lido Deck big screen and there will be a fun for all party on all the ships. Have a great cruise and enjoy the game.
Best wishes,

John

Walter Estevez asks:

I have one big complaint from my cruise on the Carnival Magic. Why do you have those glass covers at the buffet lines? Most of the passengers, including myself, could not reach the food. What a liability!!

John says:
Hello Walter Estevez,

First of all, I apologise for the inconvenience that this may have caused you and I am glad you wrote to me so that I could explain. These are called sneeze guards and a requirement as per United States Public Health. Please also remember that you can ask the crew to assist and they will serve the food for you. I do hope this helps and please do let me know if you have any other questions.
Best wishes,

John

Linda Schlesinger asks:

I read lots of comments on your blog about the piano bar players and how good they are. WRONG! From your photos it seems you have never taken time away from the dinner table to listen to Ben ——– on the Carnival Liberty because he is a ——- —— singer and has zero personality. Every passenger I spoke to told me they thought he was the worst they had seen and should be fired. So get your ass out top the ship and see for yourself because I won’t cruise again if I know he is on my ship.

John says:
Hello Linda Schlesinger,

Thanks for taking the time to write and I am looking at your cruise history I see that this last cruise on the Carnival Liberty was your third with us and I do hope you will have a fourth and many more. I did delete Ben’s last name as I think such was the ferocity of your comments regarding is entertainment abilities that he deserved not to have his full name published here. Opinions are important and everyone has the right to theirs and I will say that I value yours and that I have sent it to the new manager of music as I will any comments I receive about our music offerings on the ships. I will though also mention that I have received some excellent reports about Ben and just what a brilliant and vibrant personality he brings to the piano bar. So thanks then for your time and I do hope you had a great cruise.
Best wishes,

John

Anna Skinner asks:
Dear John,

I don’t know how to say this but I strayed. After three wonderful Carnival cruises we thought we should try Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. I have not been so disappointed in a cruise. Bigger is not always better. You have spoiled me for all other cruise directors. So please take us back and I promise never to stray again. Hopefully we will see you again in about two years.
Thanks,

Anna

John says:
Hello Anna Skinner,

I am so sorry that you did not have fun on the Allure and while I have heard amazing things about the ship I am sorry that you did not enjoy the experience. I am truly humbled by your words and I hope that you will come and see us again soon and that we will get the chance to cruise together again soon. If there is anything I can do for you please let me know.
Best wishes,

John

Kyle asks:
Hey John,

I have given my girlfriend the greatest gift of all for her birthday…the gift of cruise. We are going on the Carnival Dream for the June 15 sailing. My question is about Faster to the Fun and tendering. I have been considering purchasing FTTF, but the real selling point for me is priority tendering. My question is this: does the Carnival Dream typically dock or tender in St. Maarten in June, because I see on my itinerary that this is an “occasional or seasonal tender.” After how long I waited to get off the Carnival Liberty last March, priority would be awesome for me. Thanks, and I can’t wait to be back on a Fun Ship.

Kyle

John says:
Hello Kyle,

What a wonderful gift this is to give and how lucky she is and how romantic you are. The ship does not tender in any port including St. Maarten so please do not worry about that. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you both and until then I wish you the most wonderful cruise.
Best wishes,

John

Dan Ludlow asks:

You should hire a cruise director called Richard Spacey who works for Royal. He is the funniest man we have ever met on our 37 cruises and that includes two with you Mr. Heald and you could learn from him as well. Check him out – he is the best by far.

John says:
Hello Dan Ludlow,

I am a huge fan of his and although I have never had the honour of cruising with him I have seen some of his videos and indeed he is very, very funny and I could indeed learn from his fantastic stage abilities.
Best wishes,

John

John & Susan from Frisco, Tx asks:
Hello John,

Susan and I just returned from our cruise on the Carnival Magic. First I must thank you and our CD James for the strawberries and the ship on a stick. (You do forget in your description that it is solid plastic). Now let me tell you about a wonderful cruise. It started with our super PVP Natalia Savage. She always looks out for us and get us the exactly what we are looking for at the right price. Her advice in the past has been priceless. Boarding was a snap and we hurried to the RedFrog Pub. We want to be first and we made it. The staterooms were ready right on time and the drill was a snap. The two sea days were busy with activities. The welcome aboard show was great, “The Groove Line” was excellent and “Destination Unknown” (Magic) was terrific. Never seen better shows. We ate at the Comedy Brunch everyday that we could and the food there is great. That menu is wonderful! We had late dinner seating and the service we received was above and beyond. Our headwaiter John from India and his assistants George from Romania and Milovan from Serbia all deserve recognition. Even the bar service was wonderful. When we arrived at the table each night Graig from St. Lucia had our Diet Cokes there within minutes. One evening we decided to try the Italian restaurant. After Deni from Croatia had seated us, Ana from Croatia and Strahinja from Bosnia could not have taken better care of us. Once again they deserve recognition. Our cabin attendant Diana never failed to come say hi and always addressed us by name. The two excursions we bought from Carnival were second to none. In Jamaica we rode the bobsled, climbed Dunns River Falls, and rode the sky lift. In Cayman we did the beginners scuba and it to was just plain fun! Debark was quick and easy. The ship docked about 6:30 a.m. and we walked off at 7:05 am. You know me and if anything is wrong or I have a suggestion I don’t have any problem bringing it to your attention. Susan and I both agree….the service, shows, and food on this cruise was the best yet. It just shows that no one at Carnival is sitting on their laurels. I must say, I do miss the opportunity to purchase the future cruise certificates and maybe in the future they will come back. You know that you can print this on the blog or anywhere you want. This cruise put Susan and I at 159 days and we have booked on the Carnival Destiny from Miami to Venice. We look forward to the same great service! Thanks for all you do and as always…Our Best!!

John & Susan from Frisco, Tx

John says:
Hello John and Susan,

It is always a delight to hear from you both and I am thrilled indeed that you had such a wonderful time. I have sent this to the ship and they too will be thrilled and excited to see that their hard work was appreciated. We certainly are not resting on our laurels and we will continue to work hard to make sure we stay at the top of the industry. I know that the FCC is missed by many. I want to thank you for your loyalty and for this brilliant advert for this great ship. I hope we see you both again very soon.
Best wishes,

John

Debbie Rhodes asks:
John,

I just got home yesterday from a cruise on the Carnival Conquest. I had a blast! Loved all the new additions. Laughed my butt off at Noonan and Squishy. Loved the new shows. The entertainment was all great. I also have to give a shout out to our waiter Nelson. He and his team get an A+!!! Already searching for next year’s cruise….Can’t wait!!!

John says:
Hello Debbie,

Noonan, Squishy and Nelson are going to be so proud when they see this and bravo to them for making your cruise extra special. Thanks Debbie and I do hope we see you again very, very soon
Best wishes,

John

 

That’s all for today and as I get back to writing more blogs I will do my best to catch up with the questions. Thanks though for your patience……my favourite line from today’s though was “From your photos it seems you have never taken time away from the dinner table to listen.” ahhhhhhh ……….it’s good to be back. So what I thought I would do today would just randomly list some facts, news and bits and pieces to get us caught up with what’s been happening during my time away with the family.

 

CHEERS BAR PROGRAM

As you know we added even more ships in the past two weeks and here then is the current list of ships that have the program.

Carnival Breeze

Carnival Conquest

Carnival Dream

Carnival Freedom

Carnival Glory

Carnival Legend

Carnival Liberty

Carnival Magic

Carnival Miracle

Carnival Pride

Carnival Splendor

Carnival Valor

Carnival Victory

 

 

So the question everyone is asking is, “Can we see a photo of you in a leather thong, please John?” …….Oops……..I mean the question everyone is asking is “When will it come to the ship I am cruising on?” Well certainly as you can see we are expanding the testing period slowly, checking our guests’ reaction and decide whether we will implement this on other ships. No decision so far on this and I will as I have always done keep you informed. As I mentioned on Facebook yesterday we have now included the program on Half Moon Cay so when you ashore on this slice of heaven you will be able to continue using the Cheers program and that is definitely a positive and may I think persuade even more people to purchase it. The guests seem to really have taken to the Cheers program and while I know it’s not for everyone and that the restrictions on having each adult in the state room needing to purchase it mean that for some it is not an option, it has for the most part been a resounding success. More news to come. In the weeks ahead we can expect some announcements as it relates to our ship movements and itineraries.  It will be fascinating to see what the future holds so stay tuned.

 

Despite some early concerns with this new program the bugs have been ironed out and it has been a success. It allows guests to purchase VIP entrance to the ship with the Faster to the Fun guests boarding the ship directly after those Platinum and Diamond guests and both sets of guests will have their state room ready upon boarding and will have their luggage delivered first. There are other benefits as well and like the Cheers bar program it has been well received and the limited number of tickets we sell on line at carnival.com have been instantly snapped up.

The Faster to the Fun program is currently available on the following ships.

PortMiami – Carnival Imagination, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Destiny, Carnival Glory and Carnival Valor

Port Canaveral – Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Sensation and Carnival Dream

Port of Galveston – Carnival Magic and Carnival Triumph

 

The Faster to the Fun program will be available on ships sailing from Jacksonville, Port Everglades and Tampa over the next few weeks. As for Carnival Breeze, well we had such a high count of Platinum and Diamond guests for the inaugural cruises out of Miami that we did not want to impact the boarding process so we will now look at adding this to the Carnival Breeze in the near future as well. I will keep you informed.

 

So I am here in the UK where I have enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with the girls. On Friday January 12, I will fly back to Miami and on January 13, join the Carnival Breeze where Calvyn and I will have six days on board to prepare the ship for the Bloggers Cruise 6. We have close to 600 guests who have registered to be part of the fun and activities and as always I am humbled by just how many have chosen to spend their valuable vacation time with Carnival and, of course, with me. I will do my very best to make sure they all have the brilliant fun and closer to the cruise I will share the schedule of events that they will be invited to outside of the regular fun that can be found on this superb ship. For those who have registered we do not send confirmation emails but you will get a schedule and a VIBP (Very Important Blog Person) lanyard in your stateroom which you should wear to the events including the 5pm welcome aboard cocktail party at 5pm in the Ovation Theatre. It will be a brilliant eight days and for those unable to sail I will keep you updated as to what is happening via this blog and my Facebook page.

 

Unless you live alone in a cave or are French you will have seen and heard and been driven totally and utterly insane by a tune called Gangnam Style, This is performed by a South Korean rapper called Psy……..or I may have spelt that Wong. From what I have seen on the video that is the first YouTube video to get over 1 billion views, the dance involves Gangnam dance involves galloping around on a pretend horse while making rude and suggestive motions with your wrists. If you still have no idea what I am talking about here is the most popular video on YouTube ever. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0

 

And the news is that this world wide phenomenon is now being taught to the waiters and they will perform their version in the dining room across the fleet soon. I think we should add it to the Carnival Legends show……..what do you think?

 

The news here in the UK as in North America continues to be that we avoided sailing over the Fiscal Cliff and that’s great news for a great new year Mostly, though, 2013 will be a great year because we’ll all stop worrying about things that really don’t matter. Because instead of making everyone wear high-visibility jackets and forcing us to go on six-week courses before being allowed to climb a ladder, Obama and Cameron will be working non-stop seven days a week to make the world a better place, to protect us from mad men with nuclear bombs like Kim Il Gangman and Iran’s President Armani Dinnerjacket.

 

I do want to mention the awful shooting at Sandy Hook, I truly feel compelled to do so. Look, I am a Brit, a thick, overweight Brit with little understanding of the constitution and the right to bear arms and I only mention this in the context that sadly, gun control is probably not possible in a country that believes owning a firearm is as necessary as having somewhere to live. The American in-born attitude to guns is such that absolutely nobody on this side of the Atlantic can begin to fathom. One thing I will say as a father of a three year old is that I don’t understand why the mother of the bastard who killed those angels at Sandy Hook (who homeschooled her son and, therefore, is presumably of reasonable intelligence), would want to own three weapons of this nature. Maybe 2013 will be a chance for your president to earn the Nobel Peace Prize he was awarded and take the once in a generation opportunity to make it harder to buy a machine gun and thousands of bullets.

 

So let’s raise a glass to 2013 and I wish you and your families a wonderful new year full of fun some of which I hope is on board a Carnival ship.

 

Oh one last thing. As it is winter some of you may be thinking about going skiing….don’t. The bit I don’t like about skiing is the chance that you may break one of your legs. It would be cheaper for you to book a cruise…..during which you stay in one of the ship’s deep freezers and once a day I will come in and beat you about the legs with a baseball bat………that’s the same as going skiing but much better value for money.

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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