The past two weeks I have flown from the UK to Italy (one hour forward) and back again (one hour back). Then it was off to Russia (four hours forward) and then back from Russia (four hours back.) Then this week I flew from the UK to the U.S. (five hours back) plus my time at U.S. Immigration (two days back — or so it felt like). Then this previous week during my handover week on Carnival Legend, I was living out of a suitcase in a guest cabin unable to unpack properly and with no office to Facebook and blog from plus organise (YES, YOU SODDING BASTARD OF A COMPUTER, ORGANISE IS SPELT WITH AN “S”) a 15-day trans-Atlantic where I had to use my cabin as an office. Yep, it’s been a hectic month for sure.

So it’s no surprise then that as tired as I feel, when I go to bed in my underpants, I just lie there, not sleeping, as it happened last night here on the Carnival Legend. After trapping your gentleman’s sausage in the zipper of your pants or finding yourself trapped in an elevator for seven hours with H82SEAUJIMPETE and discovering he has explosive diarrhea, jet lag is the worst feeling in the world. I have spoken to people who claim they don’t suffer from it, but this is, of course, bollocks. Everyone does, especially after they’ve been breathing in other people’s, ahem, “aromas” and starved of decent air for 10 hours on an airplane.

People say there are cures for jet lag and, if there, are I have never seen one that works. I’ve tried drinking loads of water on the plane but that just makes me have to go to the bathroom more, which annoys the person sitting next to me as I have to squeeze past them 10 times during the flight. This means they either get my stomach in their chest or my arse in the same area. Once past that obstacle, I have to squeeze into something designed only for thin people and that by half way across the Atlantic, smells like a Frenchman’s jockstrap. I have tried sleeping pills that make me dribble and I have tried the all natural things from Walgreens which made my head pound and my poo turn green. Nothing works. Jet lag, after a long flight, is total and utter hell.

Think of all the crew as well. On Sunday, 122 crew members signed on the Carnival Legend and they had flown many, many hours. It would be OK if at the end of their flight, there would be a pool and a deck chair and a chance to find out how to put on nipple clamps by reading 50 Shades of Grey on Lido Deck. But I don’t have that luxury because for a crew member, things are rather different. Crew members do not have a week or more to adjust to jet lag. They get off the plane and, for the most part, the next day they will be serving you, entertaining you and looking after you in the way Carnival crew always do. And that isn’t easy after they have flown from Indonesia for 15 hours sitting in economy next to a puking baby or worse, someone from France. So, if you speak to a crew member who says he just arrived on board, remember he or she spent many hours on a plane followed by hours at U.S. Immigration and is, for sure, jet lagged but will be smiling and making sure you have the best of times.

So bearing all of the above in mind it has been somewhat of a surprise then that as tired as I feel, when I go to bed in my underpants I just lie there, not sleeping. I am sure it’s jet lag because having traveled and flown as many times as I have these past few years I have seen these symptoms before.

Let’s crack on with the Q&A, shall we?

Ken asks:
How are you doing my friend? As a follow up to a past post you received from a past guest. I have to agree, rap music is played a lot on Carnival at the clubs. It is like every DJ on every Carnival ship is programmed to play for the 21-year-old crowd. It would be great to hear REAL music. I am a guy in my late 30’s and love 70’s funk, 70’s disco and some 80’s hits. It makes sense that the club would cater to a slightly older crowd. After all, we will spend more money buying drinks. Why turn us away with the God-awful rap music, which in all reality is not music. On our last two cruises, I can remember the DJ playing rap song after rap song and every song was from the here and now, nothing from the amazing 70’s.

John says:

Hello Ken,
You know, being a DJ is so hard because people’s music choices are so varied and when you have 3,000-plus guests on a ship, they all want different things but with our new DJ academy with DJ Irie, we’re trying harder than ever to strike a balance of playing different songs that appeal to all the different groups who sail with us. Unlike a club on land where people go because of the music played there it is different on the ships. We as cruise directors must make sure there is a variety of music and that we please as many people as we can. Thanks for taking the time to write and on your next cruise, please let me know your thoughts on the music the DJs play.

Cheers.
John

Sallie Ruse asks:
I have been very nervous about contacting you John because this link on Cruise Critic says that your fans will be rude to me for asking what I am going to ask http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1793793&highlight=john+heald

I hope that will not happen, so here goes. My husband and I were married for seven years and then separated and eventually divorced. I am happy and at the same time nervous to say that we are on the road to being together again after five years and our first real test will be the cruise we are going on. It is the Carnival Fascination in Jacksonville and it will be the May 7 cruise and our booking number is ******. Because of this, I would ask that we could have a table for two so we can spend as much time together as possible. This would be really helpful to us both. Thank you John and I hope your fans will not see me as rude or pushy.

John says:

Hello Sallie Ruse,
I read the link and it was, for the most part, full of very positive replies with just the one big Negative Nancy who I always ignore regardless of what screen name he uses and may I suggest you do too. I am sure that every one of the many thousands of readers here on the blog will wish you both the best for a new future together. I will arrange this table as you requested and wish you the most brilliant time.

Best wishes to you both.
John

DS asks:
I am a Gold VIFP member and my husband is a Red VIFP member. Just wanted to say we sailed out of New Orleans on the Carnival Conquest this past November 11 and had a wonderful time. What made our cruise especially wonderful was Jan, the maitre’ d. He was so accommodating,
attentive, and such a nice and personable person. Thanks, Carnival.

John says:

Hello DS,
Thanks so much for telling me and thanks so much also for your loyalty. I will pass this to the ship and to Jan and make sure he sees your kind words. I hope we see you both again very soon.

Best wishes.
John

Sonja Matta asks:
So let me get this straight. You do not allow my one-year-old son to swim in a swim diaper in the pool on the Carnival Breeze. This is against human laws and I shall be getting legal advice on this! Swim diapers are allowed in all the pools I go to in Chicago and that Carnival does not let parents do this is something I shall take to my lawyer. You say Carnival is fun but then you slap me, a single parent, in the face with this.

John says:

Hello Sonja Matta,
I can see how frustrating this rule we have is for you and I am so sorry to see this is the case. We have to be so careful in the pools because as a parent of a young girl myself, I know that the swim diapers are not totally…….ummmm……..leak proof. This means that if there is an accident we must, by United States Public Health rules, dump the water from the pool and refill it. This process takes two to three hours and that’s time when the rest of the ship cannot use it. I think this explains why we have this rule and I am here to listen and to help you as best I can.

Thanks
John

Precious Porras asks:
Hi John,
I am writing to tell you what an AMAZING time I had on the Magic last week. This was our seventh cruise, our fourth with Carnival and the BEST service we’ve ever had. Our wait staff was FANTASTIC! Is there any way you can tell their supervisor what a wonderful job they did? We sat at late seating (8:15) at table 582 with Gregario, Aga and Juan. The three of them were
so wonderful and kept up laughing every night. In addition, Kuamon (bar service) was a great server as well. I know how hard the dining room staff works and I hope that their boss
can hear that he has some amazing workers! In addition, we also made some great connections with Levi & Sammi from the entertainment crew. They were fun and engaging. Again, this was the best service we’ve had in seven cruises! It was truly a MAGIC-al vacation! We are on the Splendor in October for our anniversary! Just eight short months to our next adventure! Thanks!
Precious

John says:

Hello Precious,
What a lovely name and what a wonderful review. I will take great pleasure in passing this on to the ship so that those you mentioned can see just how wonderful a time you had. I will be here if you need anything before you cruise again.

Best wishes.
John

Jessica Wolfe asks:
Hi John
I have been an avid Carnival cruise junkie for a while now. I love Carnival and can’t wait until my next cruise in September. One little thing I would like to bring to the attention of someone is
the dancing of the waiters in dining room. I feel this is TOTALLY a waste of time. I would rather have my meal hot and within a reasonable amount to time than singing and dancing by the already hurried waiters trying to get their tables taken care of. I feel the waiters are getting a bad rap by others for the slow service when they have to worry about dance moves and songs every night. Please pass this on. Thank you 🙂

John says:

Hello Jessica Wolfe,
Thanks so much for saying that you love Carnival and I hope that continues for a long time to come. The dancing and parades the waiters perform is a staple part of the fun and I think I am right in saying that it is enjoyed by the vast majority of our guests. Now, if the food you receive is not hot enough, it is not because of the dances they perform as for the most part this happens after the main course is served. That said, if your food is not hot enough tell your waiter and they will take care of this for you. Thanks, Jessica, and I remain here for you should you have any other questions or need my help.

Best wishes.
John

Alice Pethan asks:
Does Carnival allow service dogs on the ships because I cannot cruise without my service dog which I have because of my epilepsy. Is this something Carnival Cruise Company will do for me?

John says:

Hello Alice Pethan,
Yes, indeed, you may and providing you have all the correct paperwork and it is cleared by our guest access services department ahead of time. We have service dogs cruise often so please do not worry and when you book please contact (or ask your travel agent to) the guest access services department and we will take it from there. I hope we see you soon and please let me know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes.
John

Jimmy Lau asks:
Why does Carnival allow anyone under 16 years of age compete in their table tennis tournament?

John says:

Hello Jimmy Lau,
We do have a teen tournament and an adult tournament, as well, which is for 18 and over. I hope this answers your question and please let me know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes.
John

Charles and Martha Roper asks:
Hi John: We love the Carnival Breeze – WOW, what a ship. The fresh décor, the smiling staff and the food was hot and tasty. We also loved the Cucina and at $12 it was a big meal and such a fun environment to eat this amazing Italian food in and I wish you guys had this on other ships. We also loved the new pizza because we enjoyed having it made to order and the new crust was just how us Chicago people like it. Special thanks must go to Nyoman, our cabin attendant, and the always smiling waitress Desi who is also a great dancer. Yes, John, the Carnival Breeze lives up to the hype you have given it and we will be back.

John says:

Hello Charles and Martha Roper,
What a superb review of the Carnival Breeze which was the number one ship in the fleet as per the guests who completed online review cards. I will pass on your kind words to the senior management and make sure Desi and Nyoman see this, they will be thrilled. I hope we do see you again and if there is anything I can do for you please let me know.

Best wishes.
John

Thanks. We’ll answer some more questions later in the week.

There is no doubt that one of the biggest successes over the last couple of years has been this must-do event, The Chef’s Table, and more and more this brilliant event is sold out on every ship each cruise. So why is it so popular?

Chef’s Tables have been around, in one form or another, for some time (I may be wrong but I think Holland America may have been the pioneers of this) but, regardless, I think it is probably not a coincidence that the rise in popularity of these venues has coincided with the rise of the celebrity chef on television. People want to see the chef close up in person whether it’s Gordon Ramsey, Guy Fieri or, indeed, Chef Krishna, here on the Carnival Legend.

But there’s more to it, of course. In days gone by, we had a galley tour for all the guests and hundreds would traipse through the galley to see where the lobster and cappuccino pie were created ……no chocolate melting cake in those days, I’m afraid. But the problem was that they really didn’t see anything. The galley was more or less empty when the tours were given at 3 pm which means all they saw was glistening counter tops and instead of the wonderful aroma of food being prepared, it was the smell of cleaning products. That’s why the first part of this Chef’s Table experience is so good. It gives you the chance for a great view of the galley at full tilt. You get to see the artistry of preparation, to hear the sizzle of the huge grills as the prime rib hits it and you get to see waiters, assistant waiters, cooks and chefs from 40 different countries in fluid choreography, working in unison to provide dinner for thousands of hungry Carnival guests.
There’s a special feeling, of course, in being served by the ship’s head chef and discussing the dishes. It’s also a great opportunity for our chefs to get feedback about their cooking, which I know is something that they enjoy.

On all the ships, this event starts with a comprehensive tour of the galley during dinner service. It can be quite loud but it’s entirely fascinating and after the chef has proudly shown you his galley and tempted your taste buds with some sensational hors d’oeuvres washed down with a cold glass of champagne, it is time for the main event. For those blog readers who may not know how this works, please, let me explain. The same menu will be served to the whole table and he will have visited your table in the dining room beforehand to answer any questions, make sure you had no food allergies, etc. This menu gives our chef the freedom to use effects and techniques that he would never have time to do during his normal busy schedule and the menu is, of course, spectacular. So, here is the current Chef’s Table menu which is served across the fleet.

RECEPTION
Parmesan Core & Olive
Chorizo & Dates, Piquillo Sofrito
Focaccia, Mascarpone Cream & Prosciutto Crudo
Langoustine & Sundried Tomato Jam Fritters

MENU
Tomatoes Our Way!
Aerated Tomato Juice, Cocoa Butter Coated, Chardonnay Poached

Tuna Banh Mi – Lemon Bread, Sesame Crisp, miso cream avocado gel

Cornish Hen with Caramelized, Butternut Squash, Sofrito

Bavarois – Spinach, Green Peas, Warm Turnip & Apple Juice

Salmon – Herb Pesto, Cured Tomatoes, Carrots, Fava, Mushroom Earth, Condensed Beets

Wagyu – Slow Stewed Short Ribs, Potato Pebbles, Pumpkin Fudge, Tomato Dust

Chocolate “88F”

Aerated Pistachio and Mango Cake with Mascarpone Cream, Guava and Caramel Praline

The menus are personalized (piss off Dell and shove that “Z” up your hard drive) and yours to keep and whether you eat in the galley itself as on the Dream-class or in a private dining area on all the other ships, it is something that as we read the review cards, each Chef’s Table participant receives that is being described as “the best part of the cruise.”

I had the honour of trying The Chef’s Table during one of the Bloggers Cruises…….I think it was the fourth or fifth annual, can’t remember but I do remember it was a fantastic event enjoyed by all of us who had the privileged of being there. On the Dream-class ships, the galleys are extra-large so The Chef’s Table meal itself is served in the galley and, that I can tell you, is something extra special.

I have spoken with many guests and read on the blog and on Facebook that the highlight of the current menu is the Wagyu beef. Now for those who don’t know about where this comes from, I should mention that the cows are special cows from Japan and they are the happiest most content cows in the world. This, apparently, is the key to the quality of the Wagyu’s meat. Its tenderness is the result of a pampered VIP existence. Wagyu cattle are the supermodels of the bovine world. They must be regularly massaged with brushes made from silk to distribute their fat into the meat, then rubbed with sake to make their coats glow. They eat only the finest hay and their menu is expanded to include gallons of beer……no, really…. designed to give them more appetite and presumably to help them handle the thought of rumpy pumpy with an ugly huge bull which is needed to make more Wagyu cows. This is the king of beef — it’s what other cows aspire to be. I know many of you have been enjoying The Chef’s Table and bookings across the fleet are excellent. There will also be an updated menu as well in the weeks ahead and I will let you know when we make the changes, of course. So, for those who haven’t tried it, I implore you to check it out. It is well worth it – and then some.

So here I am, still feeling the effects of jet lag and still not sleeping well. I happened to mention this to the lovely lady doctor here on the Carnival Legend who suggested I take a muscle relaxer to help me sleep and to get me over the jet lag. OK, that’s fine, I thought, but as the ship’s doctor gave me the packet, she told me that there were many different instructions she needed to give me about taking them. Now I have been diabetic for four years now and take three pills a day so what the heck was the doc talking about? The doc told me that there may be side effects. I asked her what and she said, “Dry mouth, vomiting, headaches and unexpected diarrhea.” Now, call me crazy if you like, but, on balance, I think I’d rather have jet lag than host the Marriage Show tonight interviewing honeymooners on stage when I suddenly vomit on a couple of newlyweds while at the same time crapping myself. This then is the world of today’s medicine where even ship’s doctors have to make sure they tell you all the possible side effects just in case I decide to sue Carnival should my bottom produce an oily discharge while on stage.

Take Viagra. Their commercial says that taking a pill will cause your thingy to ummmmm ……. ummmmm……….well you know……..enabling you to have rumpy pumpy which, thanks to 50 Shades of Grey, now includes handcuffs. But that’s by the way. Back to Viagra and who the sodding hell is going to want to have that happen to their manhood? Because, according to the commercial, it will need to be someone who’s turned on by a man who might be bleeding from his eyes and his nose and as other potential side effects claim…..….induce nausea and sudden death. Who needs that? You have a nice dinner at the steakhouse, a walk on deck and kiss and a cuddle and while the lady slips into something more comfortable, the man takes his Viagra and prepares for a wonderful night of in-cabin rumpy-pumpy. A few minutes later, the lady is lying on the Carnival Comfort Bed with a dead husband next to her and a duvet that has turned into a tent and is hovering 10 inches above the mattress.

And so away we go. We left Tampa yesterday heading on our trans-Atlantic cruise and exotic ports like Bermuda, Malaga, The Azores, Valencia and Nassau. Let’s have a look at who is sailing with us and where we are going and who will be entertaining the guests.

TOTAL GUESTS 2,289
GUESTS UNDER 21 – 20
DOGS – 1 SERVICE DOG – “GOLDIE”

The average age of our guests is 64. The youngest guest is 14 months and the oldest guest is 96.

NON-US CITIZENS – 201
CANADIANS – 117
UK -48
HOLLAND – 18
GERMANY – 12
BELGIUM – 1

Sun, Apr, 07 Tampa Welcome Aboard Show

Mon, Apr, 08 at sea Production show – Jazz Hot

Tue, Apr, 09 Nassau Jennifer Fair-Vocalist

Wed, Apr, 10 at sea Victor Zuniga-Juggler

Thu, Apr, 11 at sea Jac Rene-Hypnotist

Fri, Apr, 12 Bermuda Jerry Goodspeed – ventriloquist

Sat, Apr, 13 at sea Production show – Big Easy

Sun, Apr, 14 at sea Marcus Anthony – Motown Vocalist

Mon, Apr, 15 at sea Guest Talent Show

Tue, Apr, 16 at sea Liars Club and Theatre Movie – Life of Pi

Wed, Apr, 17 Ponta Delgada Brett Cave/Piano Entertainer

Thu, Apr, 18 at sea Andy Leach – Comedy Magic

Fri, Apr, 19 at sea Grand Illusion Show -Dancers and Justin Illusion

Sat, Apr, 20 Malaga Samantha Jay/Multi-Instrumentalist

Sun, Apr, 21 Valencia Carnival Legends

Mon, Apr, 22 Barcelona

So a wonderful mixture of sea days and superb ports of call and some great shows as well. We also have six different comedians for the Punchliner Comedy Club featuring Carl Falconberry, James Joann, John Rathbone, Hank McGauley, Donel Keith Grey and Jimmy Carrol. Yep, it’s going to be a wonderful voyage and maybe the only challenge will be the fact that we have to move our clocks and watches………..one hour forward……………..six times.

Last night I was back on stage for my Welcome Aboard show. This was my first time back on stage as a CD since the Carnival Breeze in October and it felt wonderful to be back with a microphone in my hand. The time that I’m on stage these days with my brand ambassador work and, of course, the blog and Facebook is very precious to me, it is the time I feel properly myself. Making the guests laugh is the best feeling there is short of going back to the cabin and finding a naked Latvian there.

I am the first to acknowledge that it has been a challenging few weeks in the world of Carnival and I tried to help as much by answering your concerns and questions here and on Facebook the best way I can. I think the best way to show everyone that Carnival remains the best cruise line in the world is to spread laughter by trying to make people laugh and encourage them to make others laugh too. And so far, on this the second day of the Carnival Legend’s 15-day trans-Atlantic crossing everything is going well. The ship is fixed and we have full speed capability. The weather is beautiful, the sea is calm and the guests are all happy and having fun………………. well, most of them.

From: LEGEND GUEST SERVICES
Sent: Sunday, April 08, 2013 11:44 PM
To: LEGEND CRUISE DIRECTOR
Cc: LEGEND HOTEL DIRECTOR; LEGEND GUEST SERVICES MANAGER; LEGEND FOOD OPERATIONS MANAGER; LEGEND GUEST SERVICES SUPERVISOR; LEGEND MAITRED
Subject: Cabin **** comments

Miss________ came to the desk this evening with the following comments. Guest was upset that it took 50 minutes from her arriving to boarding the ship. I explained that we could not start when we had not the permission of the Customs officers but guest says this is not the way she should be treated. Miss____ would like her table changed. She is cruising with her friend Miss________and would like to have her table changed. Miss_______ said that the people she is eating with came late for dinner and this meant that service was delayed.

The guest also said she walked out of the show tonight. She had expected a big Broadway show as she had seen on other ships but it was just the cruise director and it was boring. Miss______has also stated that the noise from her air conditioning in cabin _____ is very loud and will keep her awake. I have tasked the above to the people I have copied so please update “icare.”

Kind regards,

Guest Services Associate
Carnival Legend

Yep………………everything’s back to normal and………….. it’s great to be back.

Goodnight and wish you were here.

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.