BUTCH, BERLIN AND BOGS

May 22, 2013 -

John Heald

 

From: LEGEND GUEST SERVICES
Sent: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 5:09 PM
To: LEGEND CRUISE DIRECTOR; LEGEND SHORE EXCURSION MANAGER

Cc: LEGEND GUEST SERVICES; LEGEND GUEST SERVICES MANAGER
Subject: No toilet stops on the Pisa Tour

 

Good afternoon

Mrs._______-from cabin______ was at the desk to say that she was very unhappy with the Pisa tour today. Guest states that there was no toilet stop between the ship and Pisa and there had been no toilet on the coach as she had expected. Guest says she takes pills called water tablets for her swelling in the legs and was in bad discomfort for the 45 minutes she was on the coach from ship to the stop at Pisa. Guest says that there were also no toilets at Pisa and she had to walk into a cafe shop and ask. Guest would like to speak to someone about the tours she has booked in Rome in this regard. Thanks and kind regards.

Guest Services Associate

Carnival Legend

 

The feeling of bursting to pee and not being able to go is a terrible one and all of you reading this have experienced it, haven’t you? So I understand completely the discomfort this poor lady must have felt and why she is so upset. However we don’t advertise that the coaches have toilets on them. Some do have them but some don’t and when you send 1,100 guests (half the ship) on an excursion, all we do is tell the tour operator who then orders the coaches, drivers and guides. All the coaches we use are comfortable and safe, of course, but we can’t, I am afraid, always promise an on-board crapper. Each tour has built-in toilet stops and on the longer tours we have multiple toilet breaks but I guess that when you have taken something called a “water tablet” you are going to need to be in sight of a toilet at all times.

 

It happens to me a lot because of that sodding metformin diabetic pill I take. I remember once when I was “caught short,” as my Dad says. I was at the Aventura Mall in Miami just before Christmas last year. It is a huge mall with no bloody public bogs (British for toilets) anywhere except at the food court. My bladder was the size of a beach ball and as the urge for a Wicki Leak became overwhelming, I realised there was no way I was going to make it there without leaving a trail from Victoria’s Secret all the way down to Bloomingdales. In the end, I had no choice but to go with the option of wasting $5 on a Starbucks muffin I couldn’t eat in exchange for using their toilet.

 

The bathroom situation can be challenging in American shopping malls and as this poor lady who complained at the guest services desk discovered…….it’s even worse in Italy. Yep, in Italy and other parts of Europe, public toilets are a rare site indeed and I just don’t understand why. Seriously, shopping, touring or enjoying a day out with the family without access to a toilet? Criminals in the world’s toughest jails don’t have to put up with that so why should we?  The UK is like the rest of Europe when trying to find a place to go to the toilet. When I was a kid my Mum and Dad would have stopped the car at the side of the road and held me up in the air while I did my business. It seems nobody wants to do this anymore, so unless there’s a McDonald’s around, you’re basically screwed. And in Italy and in other parts of Europe, you have to get a token now if you want to use the toilets in a McDonald’s but you can’t get a token unless you buy some food. This means if you want to go to the toilet, you have to buy a Big Mac just so you can go pee.  And if you do find a public toilet in Italy and they are as rare as finding an Italian man wearing clothes that match, you have to pay 50 Euro cents to the woman who sits outside. She is always dressed in black and always has a face like a sack of potatoes…….still, can’t blame her really. The shore excursion manager has sat with the lady who made the comment and he will make sure that she is aware of the times on the bus without a toilet break and will do all he can to make sure her excursion has a bus with facilities on it. All that talk has left me needing to pee so I will be right back.

 

OK, I am back and let’s crack on with some Q&A.

 

Belinda Kirkland asks:

I am booked on my 14th cruise in December of this year and I have never got upgraded. How do they decide who gets upgrades? I have known people that have only been on three cruises and they were upgraded to a suite. Just wondering who decides this and how it is decided.

 

John says:

Hello Belinda Kirkland,

If I was to do a poll here amongst the thousands of readers we have as to who has had a free upgrade there would be very few who would say they had. The ships sail full for the very most part and so upgrades are indeed few and far between. They do happen, though, and I certainly hope you are lucky enough to get that magical call one day soon.

Best wishes.

John

 

Heather Hoogshoemake asks:

Hi John! I’m not sure who I should contact to ask this question so I hope you can help! Is it possible to have a plate of food made up for dinner due to a special diet? When I go on my cruise
this August with my husband, I will already have the lap band in place and will only be able to eat a measurement of a cup of food during dinner. I would hate to order things off of the menu and only be able to take a few small bites and the rest be wasted. I’m no one special…just don’t like to waste. Thanks for any help!

 

John says:

Hello Heather Hoogshoemake,

Let me start by saying I hope your operation goes well and, of course, we can help you. Please can you call our Miami office (numbers are all on carnival.com) and ask for the guest access services desk. They will make note of your request, contact the ship and the management on board will make sure all is set for you. I am also here if you need anything and I wish you both the best of times.

Best wishes.

John

 

Nicholas Collin asks:

My family sailed out of Baltimore on April 28, 2013 for my graduation cruise. The food was awful. I have been following your blogs and how you managed to get so fat when the food is so bad.  Every morning it was the same thing at the Mermaid Grill. Most cruises have a buffet open till at least 11pm but the Carnival Pride’s buffets close at 3 pm. After that it’s standing in a long line for pizza or in the deli line. Really sick of pizza and deli stuff after three days. This is one cruise you can LOSE weight. There are two pools in an area that is 75 percent closed. The wind and rain was awful and it was so COLD and there had been no warning from Carnival that the weather would be this way and no apology or compensation was given and I was so glad when pulled back into Baltimore. This was supposed to be my graduation gift and it sucked.

 

John says:

Hello Nicholas Collin,

Many congratulations on your graduation’s graduation and I am sorry that you had such a negative experience. As an educated person, I am sure that you understand that we cannot predict weather and certainly we can’t offer compensation for when the sun doesn’t shine. I do understand though that it is a disappointment when the weather does not cooperate. I am guessing we closed the pools because of the movement of the vessel and this is when it makes it unsafe for guests to be in them. With regard to the Lido buffet, granted there are some times in the afternoon when not of all stations except for the deli and the pizzeria are open but we serve a full dinner in the poolside restaurants and even late night snacks so to say that the buffet closes at 3 pm is incorrect. I am sad to hear that you didn’t have fun and I hope that your family will get you all together and come back soon and that the sun shines the whole cruise. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes to you and the family.

John

 

Catherine Breslin asks:

I am booked on the Carnival Breeze sailing October 20, 2013, booking number ******, traveling with my mother and sister. My mother has to use a wheelchair to get around as she can’t walk for great lengths. My question is do you know if there are wheelchairs available at the top of the Mystic Mountain attraction in the port of Ocho Rios, Jamaica?

 

John says:

Hello Catherine Breslin

Thanks for getting in touch with me and the answer to your question is no, there are no wheelchairs there so my best advice is to rent one from an outside vendor for the whole cruise. You see, this way if Mum gets tired on the ship, you have the chair as back up as we don’t rent them on board or if we do they come at a cost as they are mostly used for medical situations. Please have a think and if you need more advice, contact our special needs desk in our Miami office and they will explain all your options. I am here as well so let me know if there is anything I can do. Have a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes to you both.

John

 

Blake Storr asks:

Reading your blog and how there is a service dog on that helps with sleep apnea. What a crock. This is obviously someone’s pet and you idiots are falling for this. If I see a service dog in the dining hall on my cruise and that dog is not for a blind person, then I will raise all sorts of merry hell to have it removed as it is disgusting and so not hygienic to have a dog near where I eat on the cruise I have paid money for. Get real, Carnival, because these people are having you over.

 

John says:

Hello Blake Storr,

Please note that every guest that brings on a service dog must present the correct paperwork and certificated evidence as set out by the current U.S. government guidelines, which is what we follow.

Best wishes.

John

 

Stephen Zimmerman asks:

I hear lots of complaints about smoking on the ships, especially regarding balcony cabins. I am not a smoker but I realize that smokers have their rights also…so… why not book one side
(either port or starboard) as a smoking allowed on balconies and the opposite side as a NO SMOKING ON BALCONY side? It would seem that this could easily solve this problem (except for the few who don’t abide with the policy). I have been on 16 Carnival cruises and my wife has
asthma so I will no longer book a balcony cabin because, most likely, one of our neighbors will be out there smoking (probably one of those smelly Cuban cigars). Because of the high number of smokers from Europe, we will no longer book a Costa cruise for the same reason.

 

John says:

Hello Stephen Zimmerman,

I wish that it was that simple and we could do what you suggested and have one side free of smoke. But the fact is that from a sales point of view, it would be very unbalanced and that’s why no cruise line has taken the plunge to do this. I totally understand about your wife’s concerns and if you look at where guests can smoke now to where they could smoke five years ago, you will see a huge reduction. I have no doubt that in the years to come, that cruise ships will have no smoking inside as the world will dictate and meanwhile we will continue to do the best we can to help both smokers and non-smokers. Please do let me know if there is anything I can do for you though and I hope we see you soon.

Best wishes.

John

 

Dawn asks:

Hi John!
Any inside information on when FTTF might be rolled out for Charleston? Sure feel for you having another cruise with Minnie – it is a testimony to your patience and professionalism that you’ve managed not to toss yourself or her overboard 🙂  Cheers!

 

John says:

Hello Dawn,

I don’t have a date yet but it’s coming for certain and as soon as I have a date, I promise to let you know. The Minnie saga was one I will never forget…….although I wish I could. Thanks so much and I will let you know as soon as I hear anything. Best wishes.

John

 

Carole Bonsor asks:

John, I would need your help for arranging a special cake for my darling husband. These are free on RCI to diamond members and as we are VIP platinum with Carnival, I would expect they are as well on your line.  We have a cruise on the Carnival Victory on June 1 to Jamaica and the Caymans and on the Tuesday which is the night we leave the Caymans it will be my husband’s 65th birthday. Can you order a cake for this celebration preferably a cheesecake? It should read Happy 65th Birthday Jimmy – his name is James but everyone calls him Jimmy. Please deliver this cake to our dinner table which I hope you can assure is a table for two by the window. I am sure you will be able to do this for valuable customers that have sailed 18 times with Carnival, including on the Mardi Gras!

Carole Bonsor

 

John says:

Hello Carole Bonsor,

Thank you for cruising again with us and what a change you have seen since your days on the Mardi Gras. I am afraid I can’t order a cake as you described as all cakes, regardless of how many times the guest has cruised, needs to be ordered through carnival.com/funshops or from the Cherry on Top/Formalities store on the ship. The good news is that I have asked the maître d to assist with your table for two request and I have also asked my colleagues to send your husband a little something to wish him a very happy birthday. Thanks so much and I wish you both a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes.

John

 

Walter Grubb asks:

Can you tell me if Eddie Capone is still working on Carnival ships? He performed at our retirement community in Fort Lauderdale and he was hilarious and reminded me of the late great Jimmy Durante. He said he worked for Carnival and I will be celebrating my 80th birthday on the Freedom in July and would like to know if he is an act there.

 

John says:

Hello Walter Grubb,

Yes indeed, he is still working with us. I am sorry to say I don’t have the July comedy schedule yet so I have no idea if he will be there on your cruise but I certainly hope so. I will pass to him your very kind words and I am now going to ask Uncle Google to tell me about this Jimmy Durante you mentioned. It is so fantastic that you will be celebrating your birthday with us and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know, won’t you? Thanks so much and have a brilliant birthday cruise.

Best wishes.

John

 

And that’s all we have time for today.

 

Now please would you join me in congratulating one of our most popular cruise directors for graduating with a master’s degree in hospitality management from UNLV (University of Nevada Las Vegas), arguably, the top hospitality program in the U.S.

 

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He already has a degree in how to wear ridiculously tight pants and a master’s degree in energy and bottom shaking at deck parties. Butch did his entire course work while being a CD on the ship and that is not easy. Well done Butchkins…………..I am very proud of you.

 

This Mediterranean season and next cruise will be our last full Mediterranean voyage. After that we have this excellent repositioning cruise to Dover and then our first Baltic adventure and I have started scheduling the elegant nights and the entertainment which I thought you might like to see where we stand. So, here we go.

 

Sun, Jun, 09

Barcelona

Welcome Aboard Show

 

 

dep @ 5pm

 

Mon, Jun, 10

Monaco

Brett Cave/Piano Ent

 

Donell Keith Grey/Andy Leech

9am-8pm

 

Tue, Jun, 11

Marseilles

Magic Show/JUSTIN ILLUSION

 

Donell Keith Grey/Andy Leech

8am-5pm

 

Wed, Jun, 12

Livorno

Emily Reed/Vocalist

 

 

7am-7pm

 
 

Thu, Jun, 13

Rome

Movie Night

 

 

7am-9pm

Fri, Jun, 14

at sea

Jazz Hot – ELEGANT

 

John Lory/Anthony Scott

 

 
 

Sat, Jun, 15

at sea

Niels Duinker/Juggler

 

John Lory/Anthony Scott

 

Sun, Jun, 16

Malaga

Guest Talent Show

 

 

8am-5pm

 

Mon, Jun, 17

at sea

Philip Hitchcock/Comedy Magic

 

 

 

 

Tue, Jun, 18

Lisboa

Joe West/Multi Inst

 

 

8am-5pm

 

Wed, Jun, 19

at sea

Big Easy  – ELEGANT

 

comic/comic TBA

 

 

Thu, Jun, 20

at sea

ACT TBA

 

comic/comic TBA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fri, Jun, 21

Dover

 

 

 

dep @ 5pm

 
                         

 

 

Fri, Jun, 21

Dover

Welcome Aboard Show

 

 

dep @ 5pm

 

Sat, Jun, 22

at sea

Jazz Hot – ELEGANT

 

comic/comic – TBA

 

 

Sun, Jun, 23

Copenhagen

Brett Cave/Piano Ent

 

comic/comic – TBA

8am-4pm

 

Mon, Jun, 24

Warne/ Berlin

BEER FEST PARTY /Oompah Band

 

 

6.30am-11pm

 

Tue, Jun, 25

at sea

Magic Show/JUSTIN ILLUSION

 

Tom Pepper /TBA

 

 

Wed, Jun, 26

Helsinki

TBA- ACT

 

Tom Pepper /TBA

8am-5pm

 

Thu, Jun, 27

St.Petersburg

Movie Night

 

 

7am-overnight

 
 

Fri, Jun, 28

St. Petersburg

Siobhan Phillips/Comedy Vocals piano

 

 

overnight-7pm

 

Sat, Jun, 29

Tallinn

Guest Talent Show

 

 

7am-4pm

Sun, Jun, 30

at sea

BIG EASY – ELEGANT

 

comic/comic – TBA

 

 

Mon, Jul, 01

at sea

ACT – TBA

 

comic/comic – TBA

 

 

Tue, Jul, 02

Bruges

Malcolm Pitt/vocalist

 

 

11am-8pm

 
                         

 

 

So there you go, that’s where we are at the moment. There are some entertainment holes that I have to fill and will work with the beards on that. I am again so lucky to have a big say in what shows we have here and, so far this season, comments about the shows have been massively positive and standing ovations are commonplace. As you can see, we have a stop in Germany at the former East German holiday town of Warnemunde. This is where my daughter was conceived ………well, actually she was conceived on a desk but the Carnival Splendor was docked there at the time.

 

Warnemunde is a busy ferry port and a busy fishing port, as well, and watching the fishing vessels dock and unload their catch and sell it straight to the many waterside restaurants is quite something. There are many small shops selling….. ummm ……… fish……and other souvenirs and with its long English-style promenade and beautiful beach…. Yep …….. beautiful beach ………. yes………..in Germany…….it is the perfect place to relax and the perfect place to forget……that not so long ago, the fish would have been given straight to the government and that the beach was festooned with barb wire, guard towers and huge signs saying ACHTUNG!

 

Most of our Carnival Legend guests though will head for Berlin. We have hired a private train to take the guests there and to see where the Wall stood and to discover Check Point Charlie, The Brandenburg Gate and to enjoy a superb city that has so much history. I will be telling them all about this in my travel talk and also I will be explaining to our guests that we offer another excursion, as well…………….and it’s one that if they decide to take that they will never ever forget and that is a visit to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.

 

Heidi and I took that tour together back in 2008 when were there on the Carnival Splendor. We walked as the prisoners did up to the huge foreboding iron gates that have the feared insignia of the SS on either side and in the middle the words “Arbeit Macht Frei,” which translates to “work will give you freedom”…..Nothing was further than the truth as this was the place where 50,000 Jews, Russian soldiers and anyone who did not fit Hitler’s “Kampf” died. We listened to the stories from our expert guide about the torture and we visited the cells and chambers where these horrible acts were carried out. Then there were the stories about the children…..and……..well. I can’t even come close to finding the right words to describe what we saw and the stories we will never forget. I always had misgivings about selling this tour and my question to myself was always, “Is this what people want to witness and is how they want to feel on their cruise vacation?”  I am sure I will have the same thoughts in the days ahead.

 

On a far more positive note, I have organised a German Beer Fest for the night we are in Germany and that will come complete with German beer, sausages and sauerkraut, those huge pretzel things and a brilliant German Ompah band.  Das est brilliant. I learned German at school for five years. I actually remember my teacher telling me I was rather good. I studied, listened to tapes and considering the words “could do better” and “needs improvement” and “if he is not careful John will grow up to become a cruise director” were used to describe all my other classes it was German where at least I was not at the bottom of the class. And as I prepare for the Carnival Legend to sail to Berlin, I can only remember a few words.

 

–          Wo ist Das Strassenbahnhalterstella……”Where is the bus stop?”

 

–          Ich hebe ein Kopfschmerzen………”I have a headache”…… something my wife can say in 15 languages.

 

Anyway, I am very much looking forward to returning to this great port and along with St. Petersburg, of course, Berlin is I would say is the port of call that the guests look forward to the most and I will be talking more about Russia in the days ahead.

 

Of course, next year we won’t be sailing in Europe and so I am trying to decide what’s best for me and the family next year. It is a decision I am struggling with as obviously the beauty of being in Europe was how close I was to Heidi, Kye and my family and it was (is) easy for them to visit. And so what to do next? Alaska is one option as I have never been there and certainly I would love to be the CD there and experience the Last Frontier. The other reasons I am giving serious consideration to Alaska is I love the cold and because it would be a new challenge.

 

Considering that I’ve been at sea for almost 30 years with most of them in the Caribbean, so talking about places like Berlin, St. Petersburg, Naples, Rome and Edinburgh is really something new and exciting for me. Now don’t get me wrong. The Caribbean is our bread and butter and the ports we visit are full of fun and sun which is what Carnival is all about as well and so Caribbean cruising for you and millions of other guests who sail with us there each year remains the perfect destination. But at this point in my life, having done nearly many, many years in the Caribbean, I’m looking for a new challenge and so that’s why Alaska at this moment seems to be the favourite for a few months next year …….. I just have to persuade Heidi.

 

I do have the bloggers cruise in February that I am going to start planning soon and I am extremely excited that this will be on the Carnival Sunshine and I hope to do a fly-on cruise director gig as well where in the month of March I will visit three or four ships and host my marriage show, bedtime story and be able to write about the ships for the blog and Facebook. I want to include a West Coast ship and the Carnival Splendor from New York and I will let you know when that’s confirmed. I am very lucky that the beards allow me to choose what I wish to do and I still believe that I have lots to give as a CD even though that may not be wiggling my flaccid bottom around to the “dollar dollar” dance at the RedFrog Deck Party.

 

You know, I just wrote the word Caribbean a few paragraph’s above and because we have been talking about toilets earlier I guess writing this has awakened a memory of both things and I am going to share that memory with you now about something that happened to me in Cozumel……….and it ain’t pretty.

 

Here we are in 2013 and many of you have while your ship is docked in Cozumel, been to see the Mayan Ruins of Tulum. You know the place where centuries ago some Mayan Indian was working on a calendar. He had reached December 20 when he saw a stunning half-naked  Mayan lady walk past so he thought bugger this, put the calendar down and went off some rumpy pumpy in a pyramid. Hundreds of years later some tofu-eating hippies decided that because the calendar stopped on December 20 it meant we would all die in a fiery inferno while the hippies would be taken up in a space ship to live happily ever after on a planet far, far away.

 

December 21 was as we know now not the end of the world but simply the day some bored calendar making Tulum Mayan got much rumpy pumpy………well, that’s my theory anyway.

I have as usual digressed and so let’s get back to my story. These days if you want to go to Tulum you have a modern, sleek, comfortable and fast hydrofoil which are nothing with the old ferries we used to use and back in the early nineties I had a trip to the mainland that I would never forget.

 

I was a dashingly good looking tooth pick of an assistant bar manager on the Holiday (which is now the Grand Holiday and was in with us this cruise in Marseilles) and myself and a few mates were going to go and see Tulum. The day before I’d had a delicious meal of chicken curry cooked by the chefs and shared with the dining room staff and management. The next morning I was farting up a Jim Storm but that was usual, that’s what Indian food is supposed to do. So off I went to the ferry.

 

Now, back then, I’ll admit, ships and I didn’t always get on. It was the up and down, you see, and the side to side and even though it was my second year working for Carnival, I was still getting used to the movement of the ship. Just as the boat left the pier it performed an enthusiastic lurch to the left, followed by a compensatory whoops to the right, my stomach made it known that something was amiss.

 

The toilets were at the side of the boat and I entered at a fair rate, dived into a cubicle and felt the blessed thrill of release. I breathed a sigh of relief. This was my first mistake. That breath told me two things. First, these toilets were none too well ventilated, and, second, they stank of many days’ of continual use, by many people, all suffering from explosive diarrhea. Compared to this, a Frenchman’s armpit smelled like Chanel No.5…….and I knew what was going to happen next. I retched! It was then a simple race between me and the contents of my stomach. And while the contents of my stomach only had a foot or so to go to reach the finish line, I had to grasp and pull up my shorts, unlock a door and make it to the sink.

 

I won. Barely. But the effort involved had triggered something downstairs, so I just needed to pop back to the cubicle and… oooh……….my arse looked like a chewed orange.  I’ll spare you the rest. If this were a movie, you’d fade to black, and then rejoin me, wrapped around the toilet bowl. Crying. At some point, I had lost a race and was now wearing my curry. I had, in fact, given up on races altogether and had spent an hour and a half locked in my cubicle, alternating between vomiting and…… something else, far worse. Toward the end, with no liquid left in my body, save my own blood, I had retched, dryly, for nearly two minutes, totally unable to draw in a saving breath. To anyone unfortunate enough to be watching this movie, it would have looked as if I were trying to expel my toes through my mouth, such was the force of that desperate but empty barf.

 

Finally, as I accepted this was to be my legacy, that this was how I was going to be found – dead, on a Mexican ferry boat, half-naked on a toilet floor and covered in something that might once have been curry – I heard a blast on a horn……I had arrived, alive, in Playa del Carmen.

I had stared death in the face and it had stared back – confused as to why it was meeting me half-naked and covered in curry – and had turned at the last minute and buggered off.  I got gingerly to my feet, abandoned my T-shirt and made my way off the ferry wrapped in one of the old blue Carnival towels to join my colleagues, dreading the trip back and seriously considering sacrificing myself in a Mayan temple. As I walked up to my mates, one turned and said: “Oh, there you are. You look rough. Anyway, we’re off for something to eat……fancy some fajitas?”

 

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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