Since I returned from Russia last week, I have had a cold. It was inevitable that I would get one because it was -12C outside and Boris the driver that was taking me around had the car heater set at 1,200C and I was in and out of the car all day long for four straight days. My nose is so clogged I am thinking of hiring Bruce Willis and the team from that Armageddon movie to build a tunnel up my nose and drill a hole.

So last night, the last thing I was in the mood for was polite conversation but Heidi told me to “man up” because she had promised some friends of ours, Danny and Nadia that we would go for dinner with them at their new bar where many of the UKs famous reality TV program hang out https://www.facebook.com/BarBlancoEssex – there is your free advertising Danny and I am sure a few of my friends here will like your page as I have a bet that he will get 500 new friends in 24 hours and if so…….I get a free meal 🙂

Anyway, despite them being great friends, at the start of the meal, I tried to conceal that I really didn’t want to be there. Everyone else at the table was having fun. My wife and friends were all laughing and joking while Shrek continued to drop dry bits of constipated poo in my nose and LucindaJimpete and others who despise me continued to hold an orgy of complaints in my head which was pounding. I really wanted this evening to be over quickly but it wasn’t and that’s not because of slow service but because there were two ladies at the table.

If there is one thing that drives me absolutely bonkers in restaurants and that’s women…..yes, you ladies. Let me explain why. Along comes the waiter and asks you what you want and the reply is always the same, “Er, what, me? Oops, I haven’t looked at the menu yet as I have been gossiping with my friend about our other friend Nicky who has just had plastic surgery and now has lips that look like she has swallowed a canoe.” Why is this? It’s not your first time in a restaurant and it’s not like you don’t know that the ladies will be invited to order first.

The men have always decided. Why haven’t the women? How did it become law that the person that is invited to order first is the one that never knows what to bloody well have? And that’s what happened last night. As my head pounded and my nose strayed blocked and my throat felt as scratchy as a 1950′s gramophone record all I heard was, “Why don’t you go first, while I decide?” Any of you who have eaten in the steakhouses on our ships know how true this is and that’s why I think we should start a new rule where the ladies will always be the last to be served. The women will get asked last once they have had another three hours to look at the menu before they say “I’m not very hungry, is it okay if I just have two appetizers and a salad? Do you think that’ll be enough…. If it’s not, I can always have some of yours dear.” OH FFS!

Time for today’s Q and A, off we go.

Kelle Bartels asks:
Hello John,
I just wanted to send you and Carnival a huge thanks for the pricing of your cruises. My husband and I have been saving for five years to afford a cruise to celebrate our 10th anniversary this coming summer. Because he is in the military and I stay at home with our children, we don’t often have extra money, but always put some away each month so that we could really have a great anniversary trip. At the beginning of January, we started looking for cruises, thinking that we would really be spoiled if we were able to afford a balcony room. Amazingly, we found a weeklong cruise to the southern Caribbean where we could afford an ocean suite! We booked it immediately so that it wouldn’t disappear. I cannot tell you how excited we are! We are eagerly looking forward to our June cruise, and even before we
sail I know that it will be a trip to remember. Thank you so much for providing cruises that are affordable for everyone! And thank you also for this blog…it brings a smile to my face every time I read it!

John says:
Hello Kelle Bartels,
We were talking about suites in the blog on Monday and now I see this message which is full of excitement and happiness and I am so glad that you have written. The suite will be the most fantastic place from which to base your cruise from and I know you will have a brilliant time. I hope you will let me know if there is anything I can do for you. I wish you both the most fantastic cruise vacation full of laughter and fun.
Best wishes to you both.
John

Lee Yang asks:
My family and I are from Hong Kong and have cruised with Marco Polo and Orient Lines I have been following your blog and your humor is addictive. Is there any chance of Carnival Cruise Lines sending one of their “Fun Ships” to Hong Kong and beyond? I know that many of the professionals I work with and many of my circles of friends would enjoy a carnival experience. I certainly hope that this dream becomes reality soon. Until then I will continue to live vicariously through your blog.
I send your warmest wishes from Hong Kong.
Lee Yang

John says:
Hello Lee Yang,
Thank you so very much for these very kind words. You know, five years ago if someone had asked me if Carnival would have a ship in Australia, I would have laughed and said, “No way.” So while I have no specific news on is sending a ship to your amazing part of the world I will say “never say never.” I therefore hope to see you soon.
Best wishes.
John

John Lynch asks:
Big John –
Just finished my second cruise with Carnival, both on Carnival Dream. The first time the deck party had 1,800 people, a laser show, the Dream dancers in leather and a 1,250 person conga line CD was Steve. This trip was with Jamie and Gumby – much better trip and it was because of them, however, the deck party was kinda lame – no lasers, no dancers and a fourth the amount of people – Why? Couldn’t you mix the old party with the Blue Iguana stuff…. I think Jamie is great and would have been much better with the dancers and lasers. BTW, I plan on doing the Breeze in Feb 14 – Can you move Jamie and Gumby there for my trip?

John says:
Hello John Lynch,
This is very interesting as normally Jaime’s deck parties are very busy indeed. The lasers were really a great idea but in reality, they just didn’t work well enough. You see we could not generate enough fog through the hazer machines to show off the lasers. The haze would be shifted by the wind and unless the wind was nothing more than a gentle breeze they were not able to be what we wanted them to be. I will certainly pass this on to the ship for their comments. It maybe that guests didn’t want to participate, this happens from time to time but for sure I will make sure it is looked at. I am sure you will have a wonderful time on Carnival Breeze and if there is anything I can do for you please let me know.
Best wishes.
John

Rona Watts asks:
Finally made Platinum. Just got back from my cruise on the Carnival Dream. Great week. Loved being platinum. Early on, early off was awesome. I want to give kudos to a few that made our cruise a pleasure. #1 goes to Elliott for morning puzzles and trivia. He was so entertaining. On Valentine’s Day, he was giving away “free hugs” I got mine. Luv ya Elliott. The waiters we enjoyed the most were Harris and his peppermill and cheese grater sound effects. Cute…Plus Alaikcea, always smiling and very attentive to our needs. Cenon, so very professional. And also to Budi, Gusti, and Raymus. Sadly, I cannot remember our cabin steward’s name. She was awesome. If you can figure out her name, I was in 10203 the week of 2/9/13. She took excellent care of us. Carnival Dream was breathtaking. So big and bustling. While on it, we booked our next cruise on Carnival Sunshine. Now all I can do is wait another year. Can’t wait….

John says:
Hello Rona Watts,
What a wonderful review and I know that all those you mentioned will be so very happy when they read your words of praise. It is great to read that they made such a difference and it is also great to read that you had such fun. I hope your next cruise comes quickly and please let me know if you need anything.
Best wishes.
John

Sam Wollard asks:
You have a rule I believe that prohibits rug rats from jumping in the pool. Well I am here to tell you that this rule was not enforced on the Carnival Freedom. I was in the pool one morning when a child jumped in and almost landed on me and if he had I could have been seriously hurt. There was no lifeguard on duty and no officer to expel the child off the deck. Why have this rule if it is not enforced?

John says:
Hello Sam Wollard,
I am very sorry you were subjected to this and my apologies for any anxiety it may have caused you. Our deck stewards are there to make sure that all pool rules are enforced and in this case it looks like he or she must have missed this and again I apologise. We don’t allow jumping in the pool and while it is virtually impossible to control every child on board, we do stop it when we see it happen. I do hope you had a great cruise despite this and that we see you again soon.
Best wishes.
John

Eddie Westfeld asks:
I read your blog today where you said that Carnival does not supply snacks at the bars. How cheap are you Carnival? RCI ships offer three different bar snacks each night at all bar locations. You have lots to learn on so many levels.

John says:
Hello Eddie Westfeld,
Thanks for taking the time to write and while I have no idea what other lines offer, I can say that with all the food we serve, including 24-hour complimentary room service, we don’t feel the need to add bar snacks. There is also some public health concerns with serving them, as well. I think all cruise lines can learn from each other and Carnival will continue to learn and to work hard and to use forums like this to listen to our guests and what they are saying. I really hope to see you on a Carnival cruise soon and if you do I promise to leave a huge bag of Goldfish in your stateroom.
Best wishes.
John

Janice De Monde asks:
I want to arrange a meet and greet for our Cruise Critic group of 20-plus for the Breeze May 25, 2013. I was told that Carnival does not support Cruise Critic and will not help arrange this. I cannot understand this and would hope you could offer up an explanation and see fit to help us find a location and provide door prizes. Our request is for the first sea day at 2 pm in the piano bar. Hope to hear from you with a positive outcome.
Jennifer De Monde

John says:
Hello Janice De Monde,
I would be happy to arrange this for you and would ask that as it is some time away that you remind me here on April 25 or even better a week before you sail via my Facebook page. I will be more than happy to block a room for you and although I cannot guarantee the piano bar I will make sure you all have somewhere to meet. I would also ask that you send me your cabin number so I can send you two trophies and two bottles of champagne to raffle or use as you need. I wish you all a wonderful time together. Best wishes.
John

Charlie Siblenson asks:
Hello John,
I cruised with you to Istanbul in 2008 and had an amazing time. Since then I have brought 11 members of my family on more Carnival cruises and now I want to introduce them to Europe cruising. I do not see any cruises on carnival.com for 2014 and Europe so can you point me in the right direction and tell me what’s what? I hope I get to cruise with you John because I want my family to enjoy your zany humor. Thanks.

John says:
Hello Charlie Siblenson Thanks so much for the kind words and I thank you for introducing your family to the joys of Carnival cruising. I’ll have to check to see how our 2014 itineraries are shaping up and, as soon as I know, I’ll post it here on the blog and Facebook. Hopefully we will sail together soon.
Best wishes to you and the family.
John

Martha Jones asks:
John,
can you get me and my brother a table for two as we must eat alone and not with others. This is really important so I hope you can help. Our cruise will be on the Inspiration 6/17 and our cabin is booked and is R104 on Rivie
ra deck. I hope this message does not get ignored as it is urgent!

John says:
Hello Martha Jones,
Thanks very much for writing and I am sure I will be able to help you. Your cruise though is still three months away so can you write this again to me here on the blog on May 17 and I will make sure I send it to the ship. I hope that is OK and I wish you the most wonderful cruise.
Best wishes.
John

Michael Dominiczak asks:
Hi John,
There are thousands of people who cruise with you on a regular basis that want steel drum music back. Listen to your customers, get rid of the DJ and the big screen and the useless guitar players and get the steel drums back. You may hate them, thousands don’t!!!

John says:
Hello Michael Dominiczak,
I truly do not hate steel drum music and I also do not agree that the guitar soloists are useless, in fact they are very talented and bring a wonderful atmosphere to everywhere they play. I like steel drum music but I do think that after a while it becomes monotonous and each tune sounds the same. I do think we should have more live music on deck and I would like to see Caribbean bands or four-piece party bands as these are able to play in other areas of the ship and play a wider variety of music which steel bands really cannot. Our live music options are being looked at carefully and I will let you know as soon as I have any news on this.
Best wishes.
John

And that’s your lot for today with thanks from me to everyone for your questions and comments.

I hope you have been enjoying the videos from Carnival Destiny as she becomes Carnival Sunshine. There will be another video on Friday as the excitement builds. Speaking of new additions, one of our most successful additions to all the ships has without doubt been the Punchliner Comedy Club which is about to get even better. We have a new manager of comedy working with us now working with the beards at Carnival HQ. He has many years of experience working and managing and booking comedians for a famous chain of comedy clubs across North America. He is dedicated to making sure we have only the funniest comedians and working on the scheduling of the comedy shows. I received a very strong post on my blog this week which I discussed on Facebook and it produced a lot of opinion for sure and for those who missed it, here it is again.

Andi wrote:
This week we got off the Fascination which was my wife and my second Carnival cruise. The room steward Lana was the best we have ever had as were Anoop and Thomas our servers in the dining hall. This was my first experience of the comedy club you have on the ship and the language and sexual topics used by both the comedians was so disgusting that we left. As we did we were mocked by the comedian and left very embarrassed and upset. I complained at the front desk but they had no sympathy explaining that it was an R-rated performance. Yes it was, we were told at the start of the show but the language used was so disgusting and hearing the F bomb every other word and talking about sex is not comedy. Why do comedians you hire need to offend and cuss so much because it is not funny and I know that other passengers we spoke to in the dining hall all said the same thing!!!!!

John said:
Hello Andi,
Thank you so much for taking the time to write and your comment deserves an immediate apology from me because we never want our guests to be upset and certainly not over a comedy show. I hope the following paragraphs will explain somewhat how our comedy clubs work and how our comedians think and again my apologies to you and hope you did indeed enjoy your cruise.
Best wishes.
John

This is a very interesting comment and as I said, the opinions on Facebook about this made for excellent reading. It seems that from the opinions mentioned there that most agreed that as long as we warn guests both in writing in the Fun Times and that the same warning is given by the comedy club host before the show that the performances will contain adult material that we should continue to take the comedians leash off from the family shows and allow them to say what they wish. There were some who felt that the use of swear words was not necessary when performing comedy and this is an interesting point. Now I am not a standup comedian but I do try to make people laugh using improv and audience members as well and I guess this gives me a platform from which to give you my thoughts on this. Like most of our Punchliner comedians I sometimes don’t give enough thought to offence. It’s not because I don’t care who I offend. It’s because there isn’t always time to think if a joke will be offensive before you say it. You think it and have a split second to decide to say it or not.

Comedy is, after all, a tricky thing as what offends one person the other person thinks it’s hilarious. When I first started with Carnival the comedians could fill the room with jokes about every ethnic group imaginable. Things have changed somewhat, the world is now obsessed with not causing offence. And because of this there is a genuine fear lurking amid today’s Punchliner comedians and amongst some CD’s who dare to be funny that someone, somewhere will complain. And, of course, when they do the people back at Miami HQ have a difficult job because they have to be aware that nobody should be offended but comedy is so popular that we need to keep guests entertained too. The problem is, like I said, that people are offended by very different things. While 300 people in the Punchliner on the Carnival Breeze may laugh, two may get up and walk out. With comedy, I would suggest that it is really quite impossible to please everyone

There is the argument that if a joke is funny enough, people often forget to take offence. It used to be the case that if something offended a guest, they complained and you said sorry. Everyone considered this fair enough, and everyone shook hands, forgave and forgot. But today the age of political correctness has removed any such compromise and there are days when I think it may be safer to write factual, non-opinionated blogs and not even try to attempt to be funny on stage. I know many of my comedian friends who are constantly second guessing themselves about it or not they should say a particular joke.

Life is, of course, too short not to laugh at our Punchliner comedians that have been put on God’s Green Earth for one reason only…..to try and make our guests laugh. Most of the time, I think they succeed…….but as someone who tries to be funny and not offend anyone……it’s getting harder to do each and every day. Comedy, I think, has a greater chance of causing offence than anything else. And let’s remember that the guests on our ships cross so many generations, everyone from young adults to older retired people, so finding material to suit everyone is very difficult indeed.

Also, the thing about comedy is, it’s an “I could do that” thing. When our guests see Al Ernst, Happy Cole, Percy Crews, Kim Harrison and others stand on that stage, it’s basically one large mouth and a microphone and anyone who may make their friends laugh at work thinks “I can do that.” Well again as someone who tries to make people laugh, I can tell you that it is far more difficult than you can imagine. There are bugger all cue cards. Our Punchliner comedians must adapt and edit continually according to the demographic of the guest and to the current events of the day. It is harder than any other mutation of the ancient art of oral narrative. If you’re billed as comedian and they don’t laugh, failure is immediate and the CD will call the office and make sure he or she never sets foot on a Carnival ship again. Yep, it’s that instant so please spare them a thought.

One last thing that came up on Facebook and that was how the comedians deal with hecklers. Now it would be nice to think that in our comedy clubs everyone should sit down and listen but as we know it doesn’t work like this. That’s why any decent comedian will have a whole series of heckler put-down lines and any comedian that doesn’t is probably going to have a very short shelf life in the world of comedy. Then there is the fact that during the show (Andi who posted above) got up and walked out to some kind of comment from the comedian. This happens and while I certainly apologise to Andi for this but I would hazard to guess that she was sitting close to the front. Our stages at the Punchliner comedy club are close to the seats and if in the middle of a set up to a joke, or worse a punchline to a joke, guests stand up and walk right past the comedian it is natural for them to make some kind of comment.

So do I think we should stop our comedians from swearing? No, I do not but I will say that many of our best comedians use swear words sparingly. Yes, their material is very adult based but they use swear words to accent a point. My best advice is that if you are unsure about our adult shows please sit close to the back so if you don’t like the material you can casually get up and leave unseen by the comedian. There are definite improvements we need to make to the Punchliner not only on who performs there but schedules and seating etc and that is something that will happen as we now have a brilliant new comedy manager who I know will keep the Punchliner Comedy Club at the highest level and keep you all laughing out loud.

OK, time to bugger off and play with my daughter who is as I speak sitting here with me in my office at home playing with my EyePad. Actually I shouldn’t say play because she is operating it, properly going from the Barbie movies I downloaded to the various apps that feature pissed off birds and a chance to ride on a unicorn.

She loves her eyepad does Kye and I am sure she is joined by millions of others. I see them on the ships, sitting at dinner, playing with eyepads, gameboys and their PMS thingy. How things have changed. When I was four as she will be in two months gaming meant playing Monopoly. And if you wanted to watch your favourite TV program, you had to be home when it was on even if you had a VCR because only a rocket scientist was clever enough to work out how to use the sodding timer. It’s a beautiful day here though, crisp, sunny and cold so I will take Kye’s EyePad from her hand and get her outside to play on her bike. This will though involve dressing in shoulder, knee and elbow pads, and Kevlar helmet. This means she can either ride her bike around the front area of our house or join a Special Forces platoon searching for the bad guys in Afghanistan.

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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