The Hangover………before the TA

September 23, 2013 -

John Heald


“We should ban anyone over 40 from drinking alcohol on board.” Good morning. It’s 8:35 am here as I begin to write this part of today’s blog. My morning started with a visit to the coffee shop before I hosted the Morning Show and that’s when I met a guest who, through half-closed eyes and the complexion of a bullfrog, said these words, “We should ban anyone over 40 from drinking alcohol on board.”

Yep, this guest, who is 55 years old, had been out late the night before. He explained that it had been the birthday of one of the guests they shared a dinner table with and they had wine at dinner, after dinner drinks, drinks at the comedy club and then drinks in the casino bar. So, basically, this guy now has a leviathan of a hangover because of someone he met just eight days ago and who when I asked the guest what his name was, he went, “Ummmm, Bill, Bob, Robert, something like that.”


As you know, I don’t drink and haven’t for many years. And, while I sometimes miss the taste of a cold beer or the luxury of combining a Cuban cigar with a glass of X.O. Cognac, I do not miss hugging the porcelain bowl while sobbing that the whole population of Paris has taken a crap in my head.


I have little sympathy for this guest. He is 55 sodding years old for goodness sake. The under 30’s can wake up after a night out, swig down a few cans of Red Bull and bugger off to the gym. The guest I met this morning looks like he belongs in an episode of The Walking Dead and when I mentioned breakfast, he nearly vomited in my cappuccino.


That being said, I think it’s time that I give you some rules to cruise by if you are over 40 and intend having a cocktail or two.


No guest over 40 should be allowed to do shots. Please don’t go to the nightclub and order a round of tequila shots because you’re over 40 and you can’t handle it anymore. You might as well ask a friend to beat you around the legs with a baseball bat because that’s how you will feel in the morning. Don’t do it. Oh and shots at Carlos and Charlie’s – if you’re over 40, don’t do them. These are designed only for twenty-somethings with the word Pink advertised on their bottoms. Don’t beer the night before you are taking a tour to Paris, not with your 40-plus year old bladder. You will be on the bus for three hours and the guide and indeed the rest of the guests will not be happy if they have to stop at every La Shell Station so you can pee and perhaps worse. Never mix loads of different types of cocktails just because your friend Jennifer says: “I know, let’s do the entire Alchemy bar menu” Don’t do it, you’re over 40 and if you do Ketut your cabin steward will not be happy as he cleans the cabin mirror that now looks like a Picasso painting.


Anyway, I felt sorry for this guest and how he felt, so it was only fair then that I sent a bottle of champagne to his cabin……..and, as I knew, he was heading back there with his coffee, I also asked room service to deliver along with champagne……….a nice big peanut butter and jelly sandwich because as the old CD joke states……that’s the only thing that tastes the same coming up…………as it does going down.


Time for today’s Q and A…………… we go.


Barbara Kenney asks:

Dear John: I am a widow I will be sailing alone on the Carnival Sunshine November 18, 2013. I never sailed alone before, I had some friends to come along before. This year I couldn’t get anyone to come with me and I really don’t like being alone and I really love cruising with Carnival so much that I just didn’t want to miss out this year. My booking number is ******. My question is this – it safe for a single female to cruise alone and if there is some kind of programs on the ship that you can suggest? I’m 50 years old and that’s not old but it’s not young either. If you take the time to read this — being a busy person like you are — I would really appreciate it. Thank you for your time and I would like to thank Carnival for years of vacation fun and bliss. My husband died seven years ago at the age of 45 and it has been a long hard struggle for me but Carnival has made it a little easier for me on vacations because you hire the greatest people that really treat me like I’m special thank you for that and thank your staff! Lots of love, Barb Kenney!


John says: 

Hello Barbara Kenney,

I am so very glad that you have taken the time to write to me so I can hopefully ease any fears you may have. Cruising for a single is both safe as it is indeed fun. I know that the premiums charged to cruise alone make it more costly and so it is great to see that you have decided to join us. I think the first thing is to let me know about how you would like to be seated at dinner. May I suggest that you ask me to help you here and possibly be seated with other single cruisers who may, just may, become friends not only for the cruise but beyond? Certainly having dinner with other single cruisers may lead to people you will go see the shows with or maybe explore one of the ports with. So have a good think about that and let me know here or via my page and I will make it so.  I send you my sympathies for the loss of your beloved husband who was so young and while I will not pretend to understand the heartache you felt, I will assure you that you will have a wonderful time, a rejuvenating time, in fact, on your Carnival cruise. I am here to help so please let me know what I can do for you. I wish you a wonderful cruise. Best wishes.



David Hudman asks:

Why, Heald, do you insist on calling the Carnival Sunshine a new ship? She is not and you are a fat liar if you say she is. Are you trying to get passengers to cruise on Carnival Sunshine by suggesting she is not the old Carnival Destiny with a few new bars but is a new ship because that is what you said on your blog today and shame on you for lying to your customers. Carnival Sunshine is not a new ship. Admit to it here, Heald, and try and claw back some credibility!


John says: 

Hello David Hudman,

Please allow me to apologise if I upset you by calling Carnival Sunshine a new ship, even though that is exactly what she is. I agree that the hull is that of the Carnival Destiny and yet most everything else is indeed new, as in specifically designed and built this year for the ship now called Carnival Sunshine. We have not tried to hide the fact that the Carnival Destiny was transformed and rejuvenated into the Carnival Sunshine and I don’t think there is anyone who books this ship who will not know. And even if they did not know, they will walk on a ship with a brand new show lounge, the best Serenity deck in the fleet, new restaurants, new bars, new entertainment, new staterooms, new lounges and new carpet and more, much more. I hope that explains where I am coming from and I hope one day you will actually get to sail on her and then you can tell me if indeed the Carnival Sunshine feels like a new ship or not. Best wishes.



Manoli Stavrinakis asks:

Hello John,

I enjoy reading your blog, I am 13 and I have a blog myself. It’s called The Young Foodie and I review restaurants and some shows. Here is the address, Feel free to check it out. What I wanted to ask you is how can you be so patient with the questions people ask you? I have been on MANY cruises at least 40+ (my dad is a travel agent/junket rep) and I have heard some pretty ridiculous things. Unfortunately, my patience is far from great and I don’t know how you do it. Would like to see what you think.

Your reader,

Manoli Stavrinakis


John says: 

Hello Manoli Stavrinakis,

First of all, let me thank you for your kind words of support. I try to never take what people write personally and, instead, remind myself that they are opinions and just like I express mine here that the readers should be able to do so too. There are occasions that I write a reply and then pause, deep breath and then press delete and re-write my answer…………I just did that, in fact, with Mr. Hudman’s question above. More importantly I send you congratulations on your blog, it is very good indeed and I encourage you to keep writing and indeed keep cruising too. If there is anything I can ever do for you, please let me know, won’t you? Best wishes.



Clara Machado asks:

Do you have waiters that can be assigned for what languages the passengers speak because my parents will be on the Carnival Victory from Miami and speak zero English. They want to have a Spanish-speaking waiter and cabin cleaners so they can understand what they want. Can this be arranged for them and if you cannot get this taken care of, who would I speak to make sure it does!!!


John says: 

Hello Clara Machado,

While I cannot confirm this 100 percent, I think we should be able to help them out. Please make sure that you tell me four days before they cruise via my page or one month before here on the blog and I will do all I can for them and have a waiter assigned who speaks Spanish. The stateroom stewards though cannot be assigned like that as they all have their own cabin sections and we can’t assign them based on language like maybe I can with your waiter. Please don’t worry, I am sure they will be fine and I am sure the stateroom steward will make sure they are well looked after. Thanks and please don’t forget to let me know their cruise details. Best wishes.



Roger Lange asks:

John, I was put in charge of the Cruise Critic meet and greet for the sailing on Carnival Dream of 8/24. I had previously messaged you for some door prizes which you responded to with a promise to send some. We had 77 people attend the meet and greet and while the two ships on sticks and two sparkling wines we were given was nice, the general consensus was that Carnival  (or you, perhaps) were being cheap and that the lack of more quality and quantity even was another sign that Carnival (you) does not care for Cruise Critic members. To back this statement up we spoke about the previous meet and greet that many of us attended on the Celebrity Equinox where we were all given a T-shirt and nibbles and free champagne for all of us. Just saying that you may want to reconsider what Carnival (you) gives the important Cruise Critic meet and greets if you want the members to stay on Carnival’s side.


John says: 

Hello Roger Lange,

Let me start by saying that I sincerely hope that you all had a great time on the Carnival Dream. I am not sure why anyone would think I dislike Cruise Critic and to be honest I am bored with being asked that as I help organise at least one or more of these gatherings each week by reserving rooms and indeed sending the standard two bottles of champagne and two trophies which I, in fact, implemented some months ago. I can’t answer as to what other cruise lines do and instead will simply say that I hope you all enjoyed your time on board and if you need me to help organise another meeting, I will be here for you. Best wishes.



Mary asks:

Hi John: We’re so happy you’ll be back from your holidays and will be on the Carnival Legend when we sail. My question is:  If someone back home has an emergency, how can they reach us by email on the ship if we don’t have cell phones?  Is there a certain email address which gets to customer service and then to our cabin?


John says: 

Hello Mary,

Thank you for the kind words and here is the number I am sure your family will never have to use to contact you. 1-877-225-7447. The caller must be able to provide the following information on the passenger(s) they are trying to contact:

· Name of the person(s) to be contacted

· Name of the ship

· Date(s) of travel

· Booking Number

· Cabin Number

There is no email address for a contact on board so please let them know this number. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.



Candice asks:

I hear that you are the man with the answers so here is my question. 🙂 My husband and I will be going aboard the Carnival Dream December 14-21 and are curious if there will be any themed nights and or parties during our trip? We want to make the best out of this vacation and would like to pack appropriately as to not miss out on all of the fun opportunities the ship has for us. We would very much appreciate a reply and hope that you can point us in the right direction. Have a great day.


John says: 

Hello Candice,

Thanks for taking the time to write and, while there will be no themed nights involving costumes for you etc., I can tell you that the ship will be fully decorated for Christmas and there will be a Christmas show as well plus a visit from the man in red with the big white beard. I am sure this will be a brilliant cruise for you and please let me know if there is anything I can do. Best wishes.



Bryan Vogt asks:

I have a group of 34 friends and family on the Sunshine cruise of 9/29. We have private tours in all the ports and one in Rome that MUST start at 7 am and that means we must have a guarantee that we will be the first passengers off the ship. I know Carnival will give priority to passengers who have paid for Carnival tours and that is unjust and unfair. We have all paid good money for our excursions so why are we held back like second class citizens? What can I do to get this taken care of so that 32 CARNIVAL CUSTOMERS will be allowed of the ship and not imprisoned until the Carnival tours are led off?


John says: 

Hello Bryan Vogt,

I am not sure where you have heard all of this because it is utter nonsense and whoever told you it was like this, should be made to eat a pair of my underpants……..on toast. Carnival Sunshine arrives in Civitavecchia at 7 am so once the gangways are out and placed on deck 0, all guests will be allowed to leave and no priority is made to guests on a Carnival tour and no guests not on a private tour are “imprisoned until the Carnival tours are led off.” So, now that this is clear, all you need to do is get ready for a wonderful cruise and to enjoy this wonderful NEW ship and the brilliant ports of call. Have a brilliant time. Best wishes to all.



Sonja Micinski asks:

I have been a loyal customer of Carnival and enjoy Carnival very much.  I am confused now I have done seven cruises and I am working on getting to Platinum.  I have booked two back to back cruises in September and my 10th cruise will be on the Carnival Dream and I was told by several reps at Carnival two different things — one I would be Platinum on my 10th cruise and one that I would not be Platinum just have VIP.  Could you please help me would like to know for sure.  Thank you for any help you can give me.


John says: 

Hello Sonja Micinski,

Thanks for your loyalty and the good news is that your 10th sailing is before 12/31/13 so at the start of your 10th cruise, you will have your Platinum status and all it brings. Have a brilliant time and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know. Best wishes.



Elaine Waskin asks:

Hey, what is the deal? You posted that the ships will get X-mas decorations and when but you mentioned nothing at all about Hanukah services and the menorah Lighting. This is frikkin’ disappointing and has made me think twice about continuing to read anything you publish.


John says: 

Hello Elaine Waskin,

I do apologise, Elaine. The subject I was writing about was the Christmas decorations schedules and I am sure that in a past blog, I had mentioned that we would also have a menorah lighting service as we always have done in the past. Anyway, if not, then let me clarify that we do this on every ship and it has been part of our holiday celebrations for as long as I can remember during my time with Carnival. I hope that allows you to please continue to read my blogs and if there is anything I can do please let me know. Best wishes.



Marilyn French asks:

Hi John, We will truly miss the Carnival Legend when she leaves Tampa for good. We wanted to book other seven-day cruises from Tampa and were very surprised to find that there were none to book.  Why is Carnival not doing seven-day cruises from this port?  Is there any hope that they

might come back? We are going on our 22nd CCL cruise in Nov 2013 on the Carnival Legend.  Thank you for making our cruising so enjoyable.  Love your blogs on FB.


John says: 

Hello Marilyn French,

Let me start by thanking you for your loyalty and long may that continue. I am sure you know by now that Carnival Pride will leave Baltimore and take over from Carnival Legend in Tampa later next year so you will still have a seven-day cruise option from Tampa. I will have details of that soon. If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know, won’t you and again, thanks so much for your support. Best wishes.



Jeff asks:

Who was the cruise director on the Carnival Inspiration for the March 16, 2003 sailing from Tampa to Mexico/Cayman islands? (yes – 2003 hoping your records go back that far or you have the memory like Rain Man). Cheers!


John says: 

Hello Jeff,

Well I would like to pretend it’s my memory that enables me to tell you but actually we have files that tell us this kind of thing. The cruise director was the wonderful Greg Kneale who has since retired and now lives in Puerto Vallarta, I believe. Please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.  Best wishes.



I want to apologise for not writing as many blogs as I usually do these past couple of weeks. We have had two new cruises to plan and schedule and now, of course, I have the 16-day trans- Atlantic just a couple of days away. This has meant that I just haven’t had the time to sit down and write as much as I would have liked but I have tried to keep you updated on Facebook as well.


Anyway, the British Isles cruise, what can I say? Well the weather was dreadful for the first half and we had some choppy seas. We had to change the itinerary because of a storm in the North Sea and a handful of guests were not pleased. I had a guest wanting free laundry because it rained on her. I had to cancel the magic show because of an injury to a dancer and we had some tendering delays because of tides, etc. Those were the negatives. But the positives outweigh them in the same way I outweigh a supermodel on a diet. Simply put, the guests loved, loved, and loved this itinerary. They loved the welcome in the Scottish and Irish ports. They loved the fjords and they loved everything about the cruise.


I have written to all the senior beards, strongly suggesting that we do this again, maybe a month earlier for better weather but, regardless — we must do a British Isles cruise again. And let me say this, you, yes, you must do it.  It is simply one of the best cruises I have ever done.  But now it’s time for me to concentrate on the trans-Atlantic and let me share some information on that starting with where we are going.


Sep 25, 2013 (Wed)    Legend     DOVER, UK    5:00AM – 5:00PM

Sep 26, 2013 (Thu)     Legend      at sea

Sep 27, 2013 (Fri)       Legend     DUBLIN, IRELAND    7:00AM – 8:00PM

Sep 28, 2013 (Sat)      Legend     GLASGOW (GREENOCK), SCOTLAND, UK    8:00AM – 7:00PM

Sep 29, 2013 (Sun)     Legend     BELFAST (NORTHERN IRELAND), UK     7:00AM – 5:00PM

Sep 30, 2013 (Mon)    Legend     at sea

Oct 01, 2013 (Tue)      Legend     REYKJAVIK, ICELAND    12:00PM – 11:00PM

Oct 02, 2013 (Wed)    Legend     at sea

Oct 03, 2013 (Thu)     Legend     at sea

Oct 04, 2013 (Fri)       Legend     QAQORTOQ, GREENLAND    7:00AM – 5:00PM

Oct 05, 2013 (Sat)      Legend     at sea

Oct 06, 2013 (Sun)     Legend     at sea

Oct 07, 2013 (Mon)    Legend     ST. JOHN’S, NEWFOUNDLAND, CANADA    8:00AM – 4:00PM

Oct 08, 2013 (Tue)      Legend     at sea

Oct 09, 2013 (Wed)    Legend     at sea

Oct 10, 2013 (Thu)     Legend     NEW YORK, NY     8:00 AM


And let’s see who is going with us.


TOTAL GUESTS     2,120

USA     1,444

Canada     227

French Canadian     42

Great Britain (UK)     138

Australia     91

Israel     45

Germany     40

Switzerland     39

Netherlands     32

People with the last name Smith     21

Guests under 18     26


And we have 142 guests sailing from this cruise onto the trans-Atlantic so we have worked hard to provide some new performers in the shows, new trivia contests and some new movies as well.


So, lots to talk about and where shall we start? Let’s talk about the ports. Obviously, we have been to the Irish and Scottish ports this cruise with the exception of Belfast which we had to cancel. I am familiar with them and so my talks will be fine for that. Then there is Iceland which this ship visited in 2002 on a similar trans-Atlantic. I remember a lot about it but that was the last time I was there so I have to do a lot of study before I give the guests the information. I know the tours to the Blue Lagoon hot springs will be so popular and as we are there until 11pm, I shall have to find out what the night life will offer and for that I will be in touch with the agents there. Certainly it will be a great place to visit and I know the guests are excited to go there.


Then there is Greenland which I know bugger all about. I have never been. No Carnival ship has ever been. We offer no tours there. And so I have no idea what I will be telling the guests. I am indeed in contact with the agent we use and hopefully they will have some ideas for me. All I know is that today is as cold as a polar bear’s dangly bits with a high of 32 degrees which is 0 degrees in real weather………..and it will be colder when we get there. The guests will no doubt be prepared………our Jamaican crew ………..probably not as much.


I am calling the port by the country name Greenland, rather than the name Qaqortoq, because I can’t say it and neither can you I bet. Anyway, this will be a fascinating port and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. My concern is that every time I mention this port to the captain he frowns and mentions ice, storms, middle of nowhere and then being Italian and being superstitious he touches his ummmm………….well never mind. Let’s just say that he will be watching the weather around there very closely indeed. And thank goodness for that! I have been successful in one thing I really wanted to add for this cruise, a guest lecturer. Yep, we will have a gentleman called Dan Benedict who will present lectures to our guests on the following subjects


  • Stargazing and Northern Lights – Introduction to things we might see at night during this
  • Countries of the World – The geography class you wish you had in school.
  • Digging for Your Roots – Techniques of researching family history in the computer age.
  • How to Write Your Memoirs – who better to write “The Story of You” than you?
  • Introduction to Travel Photography – How to take dynamite travel images that your friends and family will want to see.


He is going to be a wonderful addition and along with professional dance instructors, a different guest entertainer every night, six comedians, three production shows, arts and crafts, trivia contests, glee choir, events, competitions and my silly stuff, I think we have a great program ready. However, guests who take trans-Atlantic crossings can, let’s face it, be a challenge and I will do my best as will every crew member here to make sure they have the best of times.


Oh and they have a few extra hours as well……………..there are several clock changes. Let’s move on. Now I know I posted this on Facebook recently bit as some of you don’t do Facebook let me just make sure everyone else sees this as I think it’s brilliant.




A child’s face clearly showing the delight at her accomplishment as she reaches the bottom of the Twister water slide on Carnival Breeze. A sunset. Total relaxation in Serenity and then another sunset.  Snorkeling at Trunk Bay. A view of what you had to eat at the steakhouse. Elegant night with the family standing in the stunning lobby of the Carnival Sunshine, embarkation, hair all messed up after hours of traveling but who cares, we are on board, another sunset, a child eating spaghetti at Cucina del Capitano, sauce running down his chin. A picture that needs no words as the one you love stands on the balcony looking at yet another sunrise, beauty looking at beauty. Breakfast in bed, asleep on a sun lounger. Lobster for dinner, a sandcastle at Half Moon Cay. A sunrise, another sunset, your favourite Alchemy Bar-designed cocktail in front of a sunset. Swimming with the stingrays. Laughing out loud at the Punchliner comedy club. The enduring smile of your stateroom steward. Dancing with your waiter. Your child’s first suitcase. The sadness of the plane journey home.


These are the images we want you to capture. These are the images that show the brilliant fun that is a Carnival cruise. Photos can say so much more than Twitter with its 140 character limit. Photos are boundless. Photos are of things we love.  And as you will see from our new commercial that memories made and the memories still to be made are certainly part of our message to you.


Here’s what we said in our press release issued last week:


“When Carnival put out the call, past guests submitted more than 30,000 pieces of ‘cruiser generated content,’ ranging from small moments like lounging poolside to larger-than-life moments like marriage proposals, each reflecting people’s most treasured vacation memories.

For more than 41 years, Carnival has been creating the backdrop for lasting vacation memories for more than 60 million guests and we know there is no one more qualified than them to tell the authentic story of what a Carnival cruise is truly like,” said Jim Berra, chief marketing officer for Carnival Cruise Lines.  “This campaign features real guests of all backgrounds and ages having fun and making great memories together.”


“We found those looking to book a cruise are much more likely to listen to recommendations from previous cruisers. There’s a level of trust there that can’t be fabricated,” said Pete Johnson, executive creative director, creative lead, Arnold Worldwide, Boston, which developed the campaign in partnership with Carnival.  “That’s one of the reasons we decided to showcase meaningful moments experienced by past guests in the creative. It’s a way to create a real representation of the memories that can be made while cruising with Carnival.”


The campaign is part of a fall marketing push by Carnival Cruise Lines to stimulate consumer interest in the brand.  More than $25 million in total will be invested across broadcast, radio, digital and direct mail between September and December 2013, and, while that does not represent the brand’s total annual advertising spend, it is substantially higher than what the company normally invests during the fall time period.  The campaign will continue during first quarter 2014, which is a critical reservations period for the cruise industry known as “wave season.”  Within the call-to-action at the end of the spot, consumers are encouraged to contact their travel professional, part of the line’s ongoing effort to drive more traffic to its travel agent partners.


The new TV spots will debut on Monday, September 23, 2013, and will air on major primetime network shows including, How I Met Your Mother, Parks and Recreation, Big Bang Theory and The Voice, leading cable networks including Bravo, TNT, TLC, ABC Family, TBS and Food Network and online on Yahoo! and YouTube


This commercial definitely shouts out loud ………..wish you were here. I hope you enjoy it



And judging by the comments I saw on Facebook…………… absolutely did.


One of the many wonderful things about the new Carnival commercial is the fact that it features proper photographs. What it doesn’t show is people showing photos to others on their eye pads and eyephones and through the back of their digital cameras tiny screen. Nope, these are proper photos. In a frame. On a wall. Brilliant.


Yep, technology is ripping through the heart of most everything. Photos remain in cameras waiting to be down loaded onto a computer, the excitement of waiting for your film to be developed gone forever. The thrill of seeing how many of the 24 photos you took actually came out and that really is a shame. So, in celebration of the new Carnival commercial I challenge all of you to look inside your phones, pads, cameras and other digital devices of a photo you took on a Carnival cruise. Print it, put it in a frame and hang it on your wall at home or put it on your desk at work. Let it be there for all to see………….especially you.


Technology is changing everything, isn’t it, and not only cameras. One change has already found its way on board because we now when needed have the ability to speak to the beards in Miami via video conferencing. I have no idea why suddenly in the fall of 2013 that someone decided that the telephone isn’t good enough anymore and that when the beards want to talk to the captain and senior officers we can do so via video.  Some of you more ummmmm………….dare I say “nerdy” amongst you are thinking brilliant, you can see the person you are talking to in Miami, while you’re on a ship in Europe, how cool is that, dude?  Well, it isn’t cool………….and neither is the word dude. Let me explain. On a normal phone, it’s very easy to tell our President and CEO Mr. Gerry Cahill that I am working hard and doing all I can to prepare the crossing on Wednesday.


I only need to get my voice right. But when I have to get my face right as well, that’s not as easy. I dread the day that I have to have a video conference call with my our chief marketing officer and his perfectly teethed marketing team who will see that I honestly haven’t a sodding clue what they are talking about as they “think about not being in a box under a blue sky and revving up the dashboard.”


Now when I have conversations with our marketing team on the phone, I sit in my cabin and occasionally say “Yes” or “Mmmmmmmm, I agree,” every now and then so that everyone back in Miami thinks I speak the same language. However with video conferencing it’s impossible to hide that your face looks like an Amish guy playing Grand Theft Auto. I guess the days of me applying my hemorrhoid cream during conference calls are over.



Your friend,




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39 Responses to The Hangover………before the TA

  1. linda paulson says:

    I will be taking my 2 grandsons 1-11-14 on the Elation. My husband and I decided this would be an ideal Christmas gift as they are 12 and 17 and both studying spanish. We will be going to Progreso and Cozumel, MX. As we live on the gulf coast, we don’t need any snorkeling or beach adventures. What would you recommend.


    • Linda (Mom of DJ) says:


      We have never done the historial tour of the ruins in Progreso, but I am told they are some of the best.

      I would recommend a ship tour for that since the roads and traffic can be tricky sometimes.

      IF you are not into the ruins (like us)…we have found doing simple things in Progreso to be fun…like riding the double decker bus. It is $3 a person and only 20 minutes, but we do it every trip there.

      Since Progreso is not as commercial as Cozumel, you can get a realistic feel for the community.

      I like to go to grocery stores. There is one not far from where the free shuttle drops you off from the ship.

      There is also a “mini mall” (per say) a few blocks from where the shuttle drops you off as well.

      The vendors on the streets that lead to the beach can be rather aggressive but it is verbal only. (not physically grabbing you like in Jamaica)

      So Progreso can be as simple or as complex as you want.

      Cozumel basically has it all in the world of commercial ports.

      And everything is good except (and this is just a personal preference) the zip lining.

      Zip lining was designed for ports with mountains and forests and Cozumel has neither. It is more just going from one man made tower to another. It still can be fun, just do not expect an authentic zip line experience.

      Cozumel is very safe. You can grab a taxi anywhere you want to go without hesitation.

      We are not beach people…but when our boys were younger, we always went to Paradise Beach because they liked to play on the water toys.

      But the coolest part of Cozumel is rarely seen by the average tourist.

      It is on the EAST side…which is the primitive side. The waves are incredible.

      For about $95.00…you can hire an English speaking driver for 3 hours and hit the highlights. The East side is not for swimming or beach because the waves are so dangerous. But it has a lot of cool bars over there….the names are a bit risqué….but every time we have been there, they were tame.

      There is also a lighthouse….etc.

      You basically design the tour and they lock the vehicle at every stop and are at your beck and call.

      Gerry is our favorite driver. We have used him many times.

      Just Google “Tours Plaza” to make arrangements. All the drivers get great reviews.

      IF you decide to do swimming with the Dolphins, I would recommend going through the ship to make sure you get a slot.

      Hope you have a fabulous cruise!

    • Teresa Cooper says:

      Shopping! Progreso is great for shopping-same stuff as Cozumel but a little cheaper. You could take the tour to Merida or visit the ruins from Progreso. But Progreso itself is a nice quiet, sleepy little town kind of like Cozumel used to be. There are restaurants along the front street and they will serve you on the beach.
      I live on the gulf coast too but cannot imagine visiting Cozumel without a beach adventure. I mean that water is some of the clearest in the world! But maybe try a four wheeler or jeep tour around the island. I bet the boys would love that. And don’t forget to enjoy some of the local cuisine before heading back to the ship. Pancho’s Backyard is a popular place.

  2. Susan Bauer says:

    Just read that you are going to Greenland. Many cruise lines go to Iceland where there is actually guided tours established. Just a suggestion. Would love to sail to Iceland again.

  3. Ralph says:

    Roger Lange,
    Just another Cruise Critic robot….who believes that CC members should be treated better than other passengers. News flash…99% of the other passengers don’t know who CC is..and don’t care!

  4. Margaret says:


    We love carnival. We are fortunate enough to travel quite a few times per year and our favorite vacation is cruising. Primarily with carnival. This will be our third time on the dream. We travel oct 12 this year doing a repeat of our May cruise. My older sister had to cancel at the last moment due to an union dispute at work. Carnival was wonderful so we choose to repeat the cruise so my sister can enjoy a much needed cruise. Thanks again to the great team that Carnival employs.

  5. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

    David Hudman:

    When the Mardi Gras came out…what did everyone say?

    Carnival has a new ship!

    When the Festivale came out…what did everyone say?

    Carnival has a new ship!

    Neither were “new” since they were recommissioned from existing ships.


    When the Holiday and the Celebration went to
    Ibero as the Grand Holiday and the Grand Celebration after total overhaul… what did the people over there say?

    Ibero has two NEW ships.


    Grow up and move on…..beating this dead horse just makes you look ridiculous.

  6. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

    Roger Lange:

    Perhaps people do not like Cruise Critic because people like you make the folks there look like “entitlement mentality” beggers.

    I have been a Cruise Critic member since 2002 (with over 25,000 posts) and I would never dream of begging like that.

    Stop basing your self esteem on how much you can impress total strangers at a Meet and Greet and educate yourself on the FACT that these other cruise lines MUST do this as part of their advertising budget.

    WHY??? Because cruise lines like Royal have about a 93% occupancy rate while Carnival’s is as high as 125%.

    Personally, I am thankful that Carnival does not waste their money on ungrateful beggers when it is not necessary because it keeps my cruising costs low.

    Find another way to shore up your lack of self confidence that will not cost ME money!

  7. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:


    As “interesting” as the weather can be around the world….I am glad to see that most cruisers were travelers and understand that this too is part of the experience.

    In Skagway and Juneau, the rain fell….and it was so cool. Because we were truly experiencing these ports as the locals do.

    Also vote for Carnival’s return to the British Isles. (and the current Trans Atlantic)

    Both are on our bucket list…but work came before the bucket this year.

    Linda (Mom of your friend~ muddy but happy~ DJ)

  8. Debra Tucker says:

    Since you stated that the Carnival Pride will be taking over for Carnival Legend – does this mean that no cruise ships will be leaving from Baltimore – love cruising from Baltimore since I am afraid of flying. Oh well – was fun while it lasted.

  9. Dear John,
    Another entertaining blog post. You are the perfect evangelist for the Carnival brand.

    I like how you specified that you outweigh a supermodel on a diet. Sort of leaves room for you to be compared to a supermodel that is not dieting (is there such a thing?). 🙂

    I was pleased to read your tips for 50-something single cruisers. I am one of these. I didn’t discover cruising until just last year. Looking forward to my first Carnival cruise this fall.

    There’s a town called QAQORTOQ??? 🙂

    Best wishes to you!

  10. Jose says:

    David Hudman,

    Calling someone a fat liar? What a dandy a**hole you must be. I bet your mother is proud of you. You are probably a total fake, as most pond scum and bottom feeders are fake. Why attack John and the ship…maybe you can’t afford to cruise on it so you are dripping with JEALOUSY? Time to take my meds to remove gentlemen like you from my memory.

  11. Dave McCulloch says:

    Hi John, just a quick comment, Here I am on the Carnival Breeze, about to get dressed in my finest… (Well MY finest at least…). And head to our elegant night dinner. We had our Cruise Critic meetup today, and
    I just want to say THANK YOU! I think Butch made a quick appearance, i was of course at the bar… And missed him. Your gifts were much appreciated, and we all had a great time with the bar staff. After reading your Blog, and digging around sites likes Cruisecritic, I have come to the conclusion that i mustjust be a laid back easy to please Canadian… Food is plentiful, drinks are reasonably priced and strong, and the beds ARE comfortable! I am having a blast, and the crew have been very friendly and helpful. I am sure one or two were having an off day when they ran into me, but it certainly didn’t ruin my holiday. After only 24 hours, i can truly appreciate why some people become “cruise crazy” and keepcoming back! Thanks again John!

  12. Jose says:

    Bryan Vogt
    And I quote “I have a group of 34 friends and family on the Sunshine cruise of 9/29. We have private tours in all the ports and one in Rome that MUST start at 7 am and that means we must have a guarantee that we will be the first passengers” What makes you special to get off first with your cute little group? What if the ship is late arriving? John or Carnival cannot guarantee your 7 AM start. LACK OF PROPER PLANNING ON YOUR PART DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A CRISIS ON BEHALF OF CARNIVAL OR AT EXPENSE OF OTHER PASSENGERS. What if they have a 7 AM tour? Get in line big boy just like everybody else and have a great tour.

  13. Julianne Laird says:

    OMG!!!!! John, you are the BEST! I am thrilled that you are suggesting to the beards that they repeat the British Isles cruise a month earlier!!!! That means that I, as a public school teacher, just may be able to make my dream trip to the “homeland” yet!!!! I sincerely hope that someday I meet you, because I feel like you are one of my friends!!!! I love your blog and I love Carnival Cruise Lines!!!!

  14. Melanie Hatter says:

    John, I would like to thank you for all you, Carnival and Jamie did for the Dream Weavers on the Dream Sailing August 31. We had a group of 140+- strangers that met online on a Facebook page called Carnival Dream 8/31/13; by the time we all said good bye after our week together we realized we had made many many life long friends. Thank you for the opportunity to hold our meet and greet in Sams Piano Bar and the door prizes (they were a huge hit!), for allowing us to have a private putt putt golf tourney, for all the extras that Jamie and her staff helped out with. This amazing group of people have already begun to plan a reunion cruise in 2015 (waiting patiently for the schedule) but in the mean time, many of us cannot wait two years to cruise together so almost 20 of us so far have booked the Liberty on 8/30/14 and are expecting more to join us. I have sailed on two other cruise lines but never have I had the amazing times I have enjoyed on Carnival! Again, thank you and Jamie for all your dedication and hard work! Cannot wait until next August!

  15. Faye Gilbert says:

    Hi John, King Jackson asked me to thank everyone who had anything to do with getting his whale tale – biggest smile ever – funnel picture in the first frame of this great new Carnival commercial. He is 6 years old and going on his 10th Carnival cruise in November. He is thrilled to see his picture in your commercial and we watch it and shared it with all our family & friends. Jackson loves the big red boat (as he calls it) and has the best time ever sailing on any Carnival Fun Ship!

  16. Jacki says:

    Roger –
    Here is the question I have for you – WHY do you (and many cruise critic members) think that YOUR opinions are so important. Most people on cruise critic have sailed many times and have formed their own opinions already. Not to mention, that by most estimates only 2% of the cruising population even know/care about cruise critic.
    Every passenger is going to go home telling their family, friends, and co-workers all about their cruise – do you really think that my friends and family are going to value your opinion more than mine?
    And now you have also just proved that your opinion can be bought!!! A more favorable review can be bought with free champagne, a few nibbles, and a t-shirt?!?!?! Sorry but your review just lost even more credibility than it already had.

  17. Julie says:

    OMG! John, I read your posts and am ASTOUNDED by the ridiculous requests & complaints you deal with on a daily basis! We will sail with you on the Sunshine’s first out of New Orleans and I PROMISE — we are not whiney-hineys and would be humiliated to raise some of the issues I’m reading about. We are Platinum and have had some cruises that are better than others, but who cares? It’s a cruise, people, a vacation! And it’s fun. Sorry if it rains, or you can’t be first in line for the tender, or you didn’t get a reserved seat for the show. Get a grip on the real world, relax, and have fun!

  18. Lea says:

    We were so excited to see our picture in the commercial! Love it!

  19. ian richardson says:

    Hi John

    Reading the blog you obviously enjoy promoting the various aspects of Fun on the various ships. I’d like to offer you an opportunity to say good things about the Sensation while at the same time offering advice. My family is cruising for the first time Oct 13 on Sensation. Our oldest son, 11, has Aspergers Syndrome. What can we do to alleviate concerns over the waiting to get on the boat? What things should we expect on board for both oldest son, and second son, 8? Everything I have read leads me to believe that staff will bend over backwards to make sure we have a good time. Short of attending an acrobat show, what can we expect to exemplify this?



  20. JOhn says:

    I am so tired of hearing about Cruise Critics “Meet And Greets”. I’ve been a member of cruise critics for over ten years and have never attended a “Meet and Greet”. I wander by and they are never well attended and I was never tempted to stop by and say “hello” even though I registered prior to the cruise.
    I do like to read on Cruise Critics about excursions from new ports and ports we haven’t visited for a while. Please folks, use cruise critics for what it was intended, not to feed your egos, but to get information to enjoy your cruise to the fullest.
    BTW, We have been on 45+ cruises, and have two booked before New Years.

  21. Travis Maxfield says:

    @Roger Lange. People like you are the people who give Cruise Critic a bad name. Did you ever think that maybe Celebrity gives you more cheap stuff as they charge A LOT MORE for your cabin? If you want more free stuff, maybe Carnival isn’t for you.

  22. Nadine says:

    Yes, please do more cruises in the British Isles. I really have that on my future cruise list.

    Regarding up and down foods: Bananas. They taste the same coming up as going down.


  23. Marsha Breen says:

    All I can say about the questions answered in today’s blog – What a bunch of WHINERS!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t know how you keep your sanity John.

  24. Beverly J. Winford says:

    John, Thanks for a great blog. So wishing I was on the TA….it’s a bucket list item for sure.

    I did a quick google search about Qaqortoq and still can’t pronounce it, but I did find several articles about this small village. Here is a link to one of them:

    According to this visiting cruiser this is a tender port. Is this where you were saying you would be using the ships lifeboats as tenders?

    I think Bryan Vogt is rude and demanding, and confused….as you stated there is no priority debarkation in ports that are walk off, but Carnival tours are given priority tendering in ports where that is required….as well it should be, it’s part of the convenience of booking excursions through Carnival, not to mention the peace of mind that the tour operators have been completely screened by Carnival.

  25. Beth Petty says:


    I just wanted to tell you that I have been reading your blog for quite a while now, and though I have always enjoyed it, I think this last one (Hangover) was the absolute best! I loved every last word you wrote, especially regarding carnival’s new commercial. That commercial is the absolute best, as I have always thought that the best part of cruising with Carnival is the memories we make. We currently have over 100 photos in frames on our walls throughout our home, 107 to be exact!! and yes, I counted each and every one. I can remember those moments vividly, though I often can’t remember where I’ve left my handbag! We are looking to add a few more memories to our walls this coming Thanksgiving on the Legend! Enjoy your TA journey and look forward to your next blog!

    Beth Petty
    St Petersburg, FL

  26. Jessica says:

    I really just don’t understand why Cruise Critic people think they’re so friggin important. ANYONE can sign up for that website just like you sign up for email coupons from your local grocery store. Why should those people be treated any differently than other Carnival guests? I’d be disapointed if there was that kind of favoritism. Everyone is entitled to a good time on Carnival ships, not just though who complain the most. Carnival is right in not kissing their butts, as a former poster on cruise critic (I know I know, but I am and always was PRO Carnival 100%) I don’t expect special treatment and don’t think that I’m super special because I can log in to a website and read people’s crazy rants.

    John – you’re awesome, Carnival is awsome, brush off the haters!

  27. Rick Williamson says:

    John, I still have to shake my head and hae to ask where have these people have been living in a cave or somethng? When it seems at least once a month you get the some OLD question …….when do I become a PLATINUM member? On my next cruise which is number 10. Is it at the start of the cruise or after? I just don’t understand why they have to keep asking you. Have they not ask their PVP or don’t they know someone whom already has 10 or more cruise under their belt? Or better yet don’t they read the blogs on here? Maybe it would help if you put the 10 most ask questions about cruising with Carnival Cruise Lines. Or just email them the reply and not put it on here. There is one good thing that in the end WILL stop it…..Jan. 1 2014!

  28. Tina Mayer says:

    Hi John,
    I am sailing out of my beloved home town of New Orleans on October 27th on the Conquest. This will encompass Halloween which is also my 40th birthday! Wondering if you had any idea if dinner that night will be a costume party atmosphere or not? I want to plan and pack accordingly.
    Thank you, Tina

  29. Martha McCall says:

    I am a widow, age 64, cruising on Nov. 30, 2013 The Dream by myself and would like to meet other singles. Please see if there is anything you can do to assist with seating me during early dining with other singles my age group.

    Anything you can do is greatly appreciated!
    Thank you!

  30. Chris V. says:

    Well now Roger Lange, have much of a misplaced sense of entitlement? How incredibly rude you are! Be happy with what John sent to your Meet N Greet…and get over yourself!

  31. Glenn Dixon says:

    John I just wanted to let you know that I will be part of a M&G with about 35 other Cruise Critic members next Tuesday during the 5 day sailing of the Fascination.

    We have already organized the time and place and don’t require any special room, prizes, champagne or visits from the the ship’s staff. We’re going to have a great time without requiring any special attention and look forward to letting you know how much fun it was when we return!

    • ChrisV says:

      Very well said Glenn! I cruise Carnival alot also, and ALL of our M&G’s have been super fun, without prizes or giveaways or Officers in attendance. There’s nothing lower, IMHO, than ungrateful beggars.

      • Glenn Dixon says:

        Thanks Chris. I completely agree with what you posted above as well. I am grateful just to be able to go on a cruise.

  32. Laura Dukes says:

    Dear John,

    My husband and I, and six others will be cruising the Carnival Victory Western 5 day in February 2014. Four out of the eight of us are first time cruisers. My question is: I enjoy a couple of drinks a day and have searched all the bar menus on the Victory and none of them list my preferred drink what can be done about this if anything? I plan on purchasing a beverage card for this but will not if my drink is not available. Please HELP!

  33. Sharon monk says:

    Has David actually been on the Carnival Sunshine? Right from the off, there was no secret made of the fact this was the Carnival Destiny! The Sunshine is an amazing ship with fantastic facilities and fantastic staff!

  34. jonathan says:


    I agree with David a refurished ship isn’t new… And shouldn’t be called NEW.. Its a great newly remodeled ship But its not brand spanking new..

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