On Monday I wrote about how having a dog is a brilliant way not to get blamed for letting out a monstrous and eye-watering fart. Yep, blaming my dog Breeze for the Hazmat teams knocking on the door has been one of the best things about canine ownership. But revenge, as they say, is sweet and last night the four legged German bastard got his revenge.

I had spent eight straight hours in my office here at home on Facebook, writing the Super Bowl blog, e-mailing the beards and arranging conference calls about the naming ceremony of the soon-to-be Carnival Sunshine. Yep, it had been a long day and Heidi had been on Kye duty, cooking duty, German bastard dog walking duty and quite frankly both of us were very tired

So there we were on the sofa watching some God-awful program about some New Jersey desperate housewife who had become a billionaire for inventing something called “skinny bitch” drinks and products. It was dreadful and I would have rather watched the box set of the Best of Richard Simmons than this crap. Anyway, realising that I was never going to regain control of the remote control, I decided to try some sexual healing as a reason to turn New Jersey housewife off and bugger me……….my advances worked. Things were getting interesting but Mr. Floppy was soon on deck. Why? Let me tell you. There is nothing more deflating than to be watched by a round eyed, panting, German shepherd. And………..he was drooling. And that was that, with the New Jersey housewife back for another episode. Bugger!

This got me thinking, how the heck do actors in movies do it? At least at home on my sofa I didn’t have a huge Sony camera inches from my thingy and a boom microphone with something that looks like a dead hamster on the end tickling me who knows where. How do they do it? Still, hold on John………mmm……let me think about it for a minute. Yep, those last two sentences were bollocks. Offer me rumpy pumpy with a beautiful and sexy Latvian movie star and Steven sodding Spielberg can shove an entire production company up my bottom, I wouldn’t care.

Time for some Q and A – here we go.

Michael Rizzo asks:
I just read your blog about service dogs being allowed to eat at the restaurant and this has me very concerned. I am soon to be traveling to the Carnival Splendor from my home town of New York. I know these dogs do a service for handicapped people but they should never be allowed to be where people eat and I think it’s wrong that Carnival does this. I shall expect that there are no dogs near me and the family when we cruise or I shall demand to be moved. Carnival needs to rethink this policy.

John says:
Hello Michael Rizzo,
Thanks for taking the time to write and please don’t worry because I am sure you will not even know that if there is a service dog on board that it is even there. You see, most spend the time under the table and sleep and are trained to be still and calm. They obviously are there to provide an important service for their owners and I am sure, legally, we cannot refuse them even if we wanted to which, of course, we do not. So again, please do not worry and just get ready for a brilliant cruise.
Best wishes.
John

George Smith asks:
John,
will you be sailing on the Carnival Legend Sept 1 out of Dover?

John says:
Hello George Smith,
Yes, indeed, I will be there and I look forward to sharing this wonderful voyage with you.
Best wishes.
John

Jonathan Cox asks:
Just returned from the Carnival Splendor cruise which was terrible. Staff on the Carnival Splendor is anything but accomodating. Besides the fact that many of them appeared to have zero command of English and very poor communication skills, they also appeared haughty and callous. From the desk staff to the bar staff, these folks acted almost annoyed when approached, and wait staff seldom made eye contact. Often, bar staff would seem to almost ignore passengers who were obviously wanting service. Shop staff was equally lackluster and rather snooty. Unbelievable for an industry that can enhance profits by being friendly! We had one shore excursion planned, which was part of a package deal from Orbitz. Unfortunately, we lost this because the propulsion system on the Carnival Splendor was in trouble and the itinerary changed. We went to the customer service desk to see, ha ha ha ha ha, if Carnival would comp us with “something,” but their only advice was “to call Orbitz and complain??????” Huh? wasn’t this the ship’s problem? By the second day of this cruise, we were longing to be home. We knew we had made a horrible mistake, and we lamented the fact that we could have saved that money for a decent cruise down the line. We couldn’t get off the ship fast enough, and actually laughed because we had a better time sitting at LAX for six hours than we had on the seven-day cruise. Does that tell you something and you, Mr. Gothopotamus, should be ashamed to be its brand ambassador.

John says:
Hello Jonathan Cox,
Some people may wonder why I post comments like this and as always I will say it’s because right from the start of this blog back in 1787 I said that I would never hide from bad and always post what is presented to me. I am so sorry that you had such a negative experience and I sincerely apologise for that. I know the ship had a technical problem which did mean a change of itinerary but we are not responsible, I am afraid, for guests who have booked private tours. A change of itinerary is always disappointing and modifying the itinerary is something we never like to do. Again, I apologise that we did and that your private tour company were not helpful. You know I could argue that this type of comment is very rare indeed and that the staff is renowned for their smiles, fun and friendly service. I could also mention that all of our front line staff must have proficiency of English as per our own internal requirements and in accordance with United States Coast Guard regulations. Yep, I could say all of that and normally I would but there are rare occasions when I have to hold my hands up, apologise that you had such a negative experience and judging by your comments about the fun time you had at the airport simply say ………that in this case, cruising just might not be for you. I could be wrong and this may not be the politically correct statement to make or one a brand ambassador (a position I am fiercely proud of) should be making but it seems that in this case it is the right thing to say. Carnival continues to provide brilliant and affordable vacations for thousands of guests each week of the year and the very vast majority has a brilliant time and come back for more Carnival-style fun. I do hope you come back and, rest assured if you do, I will do everything I can to help you and make sure that you have the best of times. I am off now to ask Uncle Google what “Gothopotamus” means although I have a feeling it is not a term of endearment.
Best wishes.
John

Teresa Leakey asks:
John,
Just got off the Carnival Magic, Dec. 9 sailing, and now I know why they call her that. From the moment we got on board, everything fell into place. People we met on line, we hooked up without even trying. Every time we turned around, something else was falling into place and when I commented to the crew to explain, they just looked at me and said, “That’s Magic.” It truly was. They have the most amazing bartender in the steakhouse named Suapanie “Supy,” she really knows her liquors and introduced us to some of the best. Melissa “Millie” had the best wine tasting party we have ever been to. The steakhouse staff was THE BEST EVER!!! The MDR got us a table for two (thanks to you) but when we mentioned another couple joining us for dinner one night, our table was set up for four without us even mentioning it again!!!! They were Magical!!! Lerlak even arranged to have Magic Mike come to our table for a card trick that night. Rick ordered Chateaubriand one night, medium rare, and Lerlak showed it to him and said this is not acceptable and she took it right back and brought out the perfectly cooked one. Without us even asking!!!!

Ramilo was perfect, with serving and attending to our every need, and Charlie was all smiles taking our drink orders every night. AMAZING crew. We did the BTS the last day and Guada and Annessa were perfect and had lots of energy. I am telling you John, this is the best crew, the best ship ever!!!!! I can go on and on talking about the crew. Our room steward Harry was filling our cooler without us even asking! He provided us with a dry robe each day as we used the spa often and those robes are thick and absorbent, but hard to dry out. Harry was all smiles and addressed us by our names, making us feel welcomed and appreciated.

We had taken vegan cheese to James (CD) and even bought it in Galveston so he can find it again if he liked it. I went up to a girl to inquire about where I may find James to give him this vegan cheese and she told me he was on holiday. I explained what I had and she said she was James vegan buddy and the only other crew member that was a vegan on the ship. I gave her the note and the cheese. To run into Abigail Freeman was magical, I mean over 1,000 crew members and I run into the only other vegan on board. That was how our whole cruise was, magical!!!! One magical experience after another. Had to share!!!!!

John says:
Hello Teresa Leakey,
It was such a joy to read this brilliant review and I hope that you know just how proud you will make those you mention feel when they read this. I am so sorry you missed James but, wow, what a small world and the fact that you met Abigail was wonderful. I hope we took care of your vegan needs on board and I will again pass on these wonderful words of praise. I hope we see you again very soon and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.
Best wishes.
John

David Grampp asks:
John,
A group of us (14 confirmed now and four to six more thinking about it) will be cruising on the Carnival Sensation on May 2, 2013. The reason for this cruise is to spread my mom’s ashes at sea. I have contacted Carnival and have been told that the ship will assist us. We need to go to the guest services and tell them when we get on board. I am just a little worried about just showing up on the day of sailing to set the service up. It has been a bear finding a cruise date that everyone can make. My mom and dad (my dad will be there (15 Carnival Cruises, VIFP# 56256406, booking #43ZVB7, cabin E244) loved to cruise and my mom’s written request was that her ashes be scattered from the stern of a cruise ship. I don’t know if any advance arrangements can be made or not. Any help or information you or your staff could provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance as I know that you will do whatever you can. I read your blog and Facebook pages and see how much you try and help.
Thank you.
Dave Grampp

John says:
Hello David Grampp,
I am very glad you contacted me because I will be honoured to help you with this. I will make sure the ship is aware and that all the paperwork is ready for you and that all is arranged. As we are sometime away I would ask that you remind me here on the blog in early April or seven days before on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/johnheald. I wish you a wonderful cruise and if there is anything I can do for you please do let me know.
Best wishes.
John

Andre Yeboah asks:
John,
I read your blog and would like to request a private table for the three of us. Our cruise is on 4/18/13 on Carnival Triumph and we would want to be booked on late sitting. Our experiences with being with other passengers’ last cruise was not good. It was not Carnival’s fault, of course, but the people we were sat with were very racist and it was very uncomfortable and we ate mostly on the Lido deck. Thank you, John, for making sure we do not have to go through this again. Our booking number is ******.

John says:
Hello Andre Yeboah,
I am so sorry to read about your concerns from your last cruise and even though I feel certain that this was a one off that will not be repeated this cruise I will ask the maitre d to assist you and reserve a table for three. I wish you the best of times.
Best wishes.
John

Marty Robb asks:
Hi John,
Hope you can help. I just returned from a trip on Carnival Inspiration. I have collected the wooden ship models on every trip since the inaugural sailing of Carnival Destiny. It was my inaugural also so I’ll miss her. When I looked in the gift shop there were no ships. I was told they were sold out. I asked how I could get one and was told they could only be purchased on the ship and maybe I could find a friend or family member to sail in the future and buy one. I’m not kidding. I proceeded to guest services to ask them and was told “the gift shop is not run by Carnival and we have no control over them.” Please let me know what can be done so I can get one.
Thank you.

John says:
Hello Marty Robb,
The shops on board are indeed run by our concessionaire, Starboard Leisure Services, but they do not have an on-line shop for you to purchase this model. However, I’m checking with the beards to see if these models could be made available off the ship as I know they are so popular. So as soon as I hear, I’ll let you know.
Best wishes.
John

Dee asks:
I had the privilege of cruising on the Carnival Breeze last month. Wonderful ship and had a great vacation! I was cruising as part of a singles tour group and just wanted to share an observation regarding the new Cheers program. Those of our group who were able to participate in the program loved it. However, one of the services provided by our tour group was roommate matching for those of us who had no one to travel with and did not want (or couldn’t afford) to pay the single supplement for a cabin. There were a few situations where one roommate wanted to purchase the Cheers program but could not because their roommate was not interested in purchasing it. I understand why Carnival would require all adults in a cabin to purchase the program if they were on the same Sail & Sign account to prevent abuse of the program. But in the case where each person in a cabin has their own Sail & Sign account, I don’t see why Carnival couldn’t figure out a way to allow those individuals the option to purchase the program regardless of what the roommate does. I was one of the fortunate ones who was on the same wavelength with my roomie so it wasn’t an issue (we did not purchase it) but there were others that were disappointed! I would imagine there have been other Carnival cruisers traveling with friends/family that found themselves in the same situation. I think the Cheers program would be more widely used if Carnival could charge based on how many adults are signers on a Sail & Sign account rather than how many are staying in the cabin. As I said, just an observation and I appreciate the opportunity to express my thoughts on the subject! And now … I’m going to get back to planning my next cruise and hope to be sitting on a Carnival Lido Deck by early summer! Thanks again for a great vacation!

John says:
Hello Dee,
This is a place where people can always express their opinions and I am glad you did. The Cheers program has been met with much excitement and is very popular on all the ships that have it. It is still very much in a test phase and we are examining all the results and looking at all the guest comments. We realise that it is not for everyone and with the rule that every adult in the stateroom having to purchase it, we know that certain parties will not find it is something they should purchase. I will pass on your comments to the VP of beverage operations who I know also reads this and every blog. There are no immediate plans to change this but, as I said, it is in the test phase so let’s see what happens. I do hope you had a great cruise and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.
Best wishes.
John

Debbie Acton asks:
Hi John,
My family and I were on the Carnival Dream over New Year’s Eve. We had a great time. The ship, food, staff, service and events were all great. My question is on New Year’s Eve Stevie Wonder played a set right at midnight. We were told there would be a special guest at midnight but we missed the introduction and we are unsure if it was really him or an impersonator. Before we go and tell everyone we know who we saw that night, can you confirm that in fact it was him or not?
Thanks very much.

John says:
Hello Debbie Acton,
Ahhh yes, the famous Stevie Wonder appearance. This was actually an impressionist and not the real Stevie but I am told by the CD Jaime that he was superb. I am so glad you had fun and what a brilliant way to ring in the New Year. I hope we see you again very soon. Best wishes.
John

And we will finish there for today. Thanks to you all for your comments and opinions.

OK, to finish with today, I am posting a revised version of the cruise director schedule. We have made a few changes to it and my thanks to Ryan, our manager of cruise directors, for allowing me to post this here for all to see. We will have the schedule past July to years end in April or so but here, then, is the updated schedule from now – July

http://johnhealdsblog.com/redirect/cruise-director-schedule

It is great to see the wonderful comments I often see here and on Facebook about our brilliant current batch of cruise directors and I hope I will continue to see those and indeed any that feel someone in the position needs to improve. If you have any comments or questions about the schedule, please let me know and I thank each and every one of my colleagues who I know give 100 percent to make sure that you all have the fun that Carnival continues to place at the core of its cruises.

I want to finish with a special mention of two people I met again on Bloggers Cruise 6….Michael and Rhonda. I cruised with them before and I know they are readers of this blog. I must admit that when they first approached me on the Carnival Breeze after one of the bloggers events, I didn’t remember them straight away. I meet so many, many people that it’s not always easy to remember everyone and, besides, I am getting old. However, within seconds of talking to them I noticed the necklace around Rhonda’s neck and then …………I remembered. The first time they cruised with me, they had their beautiful new daughter Rachel with them. Soon after that cruise Rachael passed away …..she was only four years old. I saw the necklace and, upon it, Rachel’s photo and I had a clear and present memory of Rhonda telling me that the years following had been so very difficult but Rachel had spoken to them from heaven and told Mum and Dad to do something fun and so they booked a cruise which I think was on either Carnival Dream or Carnival Magic.

I do remember talking to them on whatever the ship was and that the conversation took place next to the shore excursion desk. I remember this piece specifically because I had gone there to listen to a guest scream, really properly scream, and shout at me about an excursion he had taken. After I had finished calming the guest down and taking care of his concerns I met Michael and Rhonda who told me what a brilliant time they were having but how the memories of Rachel were overwhelming.

As I sit here in my office, Kye is getting ready for school, she is only a few months from being four years old. I can only imagine that losing a child must change your whole perspective on life. There’s an unnatural order about experiencing your child’s death before your own. Nothing surely can adequately describe the pain of child bereavement and so I once again send my thoughts and prayers to you, Michael and Rhonda, and thank you for sailing with me again and for sharing more beautiful stories of Rachel who I know you miss so very much.

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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