POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE OF NOWHERE

October 1, 2013 -

John Heald

When planning this trans-Atlantic crossing, there were two difficult concerns I faced– what entertainers to choose and what movies the guests would enjoy.

I based my decisions on both those categories on the average age being 73 and knowing that they probably would not enjoy a Bon Jovi Tribute Band, a balloon animal act, The Fast and The Furious 27 or Saw 32, I went with entertainers and movies that were, I thought, more suitable and so far……………touch wood…………..why is there never any wood around when you need some……bugger….hold on….where’s my Latvians in suspenders calendar………..ahhhhh, there it is…………ok, that’s the wood touched…………so far, there have been no complaints about either.

OK, there have been complaints about men with Scottish accents, it’s too cold, it’s too hot and a few other similar moans, but, so far, none on the entertainment program apart from the music in the show being too loud………….phew.

We have a brilliant selection of vocalists, a violin virtuoso, a comedy magician, a juggler, a hypnotist, an opera couple who are going to, I know, bring the house down, a big band singer and six superb comedians all complementing our three production shows, Big Easy, Jazz Hot and Justin Illusion Magic and Dance.

As for the movies, well, so far, it’s been ok as well. We play a big screen movie each day in the Follies Lounge and then repeat that on the TVs along with another movie the following day. I am very lucky that Carnival allowed me to hand pick the entertainers as indeed they did the movies. Here is a list of some of the movies we are showing during this TA:

Lincoln

Robert and Frank

Men in Black 3

The Guilt Trip

The Hobbitt

Taken 2

Hope Springs

Argo

Jack the Giant Slayer (for the sake of the few teens we have on board)

Identity Thief

What to Expect When Expecting

Life of Pi

Skyfall

Bridesmaids

Trouble with the Curve

 

These are just some and, obviously, I have seen most of them, not all, most of them, and this leads me to a moan of my own. Why do movies these days have to be so bloody long? I sat through Lincoln and it was purgatory.

Look, I know it is part of America’s history but this film, like so many these days, just doesn’t know when to stop. In this case, it should have stopped after Daniel Day Lewis became a beard with a silly hat. I am surprised the camera crew, technicians and the other hundreds of best boys and grips didn’t, the moment he said, “Four score and sheeven yearssh ago,” bugger off to make a movie with immense car chases, machine guns and loads of rampant rumpy pumpy.

You see, I don’t get these big bio epic thingies. I mean, there is no suspense like there is in other movies. Who did it? Which one of the police force is corrupt? Will Arnold Schwarzenegger say, “I’ll be back?” These are the things you whisper to your wife or friends during a movie. Nobody in Lincoln is leaning over toward their wife in the movies and with a mouthful of popcorn saying, “I wonder if he will abolish slavery” or “Abe’s going to the theatre, I wonder what happens next?”

Then there is the Hobbit. I hate these fantasy-type movies but this one was the most soul destroying movie I have seen for ages and it goes on and on and on and on. I would almost rather watch that horse faced woman and her friends get their knickers off in that Sex and the City movie. And thank God I saw these on DVD and not at the cinema because, with my bladder, there is no way I can get through three hours of a movie without taking a Hitchcock sized p*ss.

Maybe kids have the right idea. They can’t be bothered with the movies anymore and, instead, surf You Tube to see two-minute films of men lighting their farts, skate boarding hamsters and Hannah Montana twerking her buttocks.

Maybe they have the right idea. Time for today’s Q and A, off we go.

Carlos De Maria asks:

John,

How can a ship that cruises from Miami where 80% of the population is Cuban/ Venezuelan and other Spanish speaking countries not have a Latin band? There was no Spanish music on Liberty and you will need to change this if you want Hispanics to cruise with you.

 

John says:

Hello Carlos De Maria,
Obviously, the Carnival Liberty, although based in Miami has guests from all over North America and beyond who sail on her each week. We do try and have as many different styles of music and entertainment as we can and I am sorry that this time, we did not include a Latin band in that mix. I do hope you will join us again and enjoy another cruise and if you would like to check with me before you book, then I will let you know what ships have a Latin band on them.
Best wishes
John

 

Leah asks:

I am reading online that the Carnival Glory hot tubs are not working. Hot tubbing was a major reason in our booking our late August cruise to Canada aboard Glory–we were looking forward to 3-4 days of
doing NOTHING but sitting around on deck chairs and hot tubs. Do you have any information and what are the chances these will be fixed by the 8/29 sail? May impact our decision of whether to make alternate
plans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Also does this include all deck hot tubs or also the hot tub in the spa?

 

John says:

Hello Leah,

I know this is past your cruise date and I apologise for the late answer. I have though seen a lot of comments and questions on this subject, so I thought it best to reply so others may benefit. We did have some technical upgrades we needed to make which resulted in the hot tubs being closed for a period of time and I wanted to apologise for the inconvenience this caused our guests. The good news is that, as you saw on your cruise, they were operational again. I hope that you had a wonderful cruise and again my apologies for the delay in answering.
Best wishes.
John

 

Ella Krier asks:

Message: My partner and I are very excited to be spending a cruise on the Legend on October 10th to Tampa. The request I have is an important one , because we are both in the airline industry doing similar, if not more challenging work, even that you have to do, will you get us a private dining table for two at dinner by the windows?

 

John says:

Hello Ella Krier,

Thank you and your partner for the work you do and I wish you safe flying. I have asked the maître d’ for a table for two for you and I know he will do his best. I am afraid we don’t have any tables for two next to the windows as they are larger tables. But I am sure you will enjoy your table and I wish you both a wonderful cruise
Best wishes.
John

 

Barry Acy asks:

Has Calvin been promoted to cruise director and, if yes, what Ship? We did three cruises with you all on the Legend in April and my wife and I really liked Calvin and would like to see him again.
Thanks

 

John says:

Hello Barry Acy,

Calvin is with me here and will be leaving for some time with me and the beards to the office in November. His time is coming and he will, I’m sure, make a great CD. I will let you know when I have more news on this. Thanks for the kind words, he will be thrilled.
Best wishes.
John

 

Harry asks:

Carnival Fantasy is an EXCELLENT ship and truly EXCEEDED EXPECTATIONS! My family sailed on the 8/17 voyage and we were really impressed!

With Fantasy being the oldest ship in the CCL fleet, and having sailed on the larger Conquest and Spirit-class ships, we had low expectations. That, and considering the bargain we got booking a month prior to sailing, we really expected very little. Boy, were we WRONG.

Carnival Fantasy is one of the BEST, if not THE BEST ship we’ve sailed on. She is in terrific shape, shiny and bright, and well maintained. The crew is FLAWLESS. Cabin stewards, wait staff and bartenders knew our names, the names of our children, and all our “likes” within a day. Entertainment was excellent, comedians hysterical, and a top-notch cruise director in Risa Barnes. Please send me Risa’s email as I need to send her a thank you note for the special touch she added to our cruise.

Thank you for a wonderful five-day voyage and I look forward to future cruises on Fantasy class ships.

See you on the Blogger’s Cruise on Carnival Sunshine in February… I hope Sunshine is half as good as Fantasy!

 

John says:

Hello Harry,

This really brought a smile to my face. She may be the oldest ship in the fleet but it sounds like her crew continues to be some of the best. I will pass on all your kind words and although I am unable to give out any personal or business e mails of our employees I will make sure that everyone, including the wonderful Risa Barnes, sees just how much you enjoyed their service and entertainment. I do hope we see you again soon and thanks for taking the time to write.
Best wishes.
John

 

Gail Kusiack asks:

John, you should tell the truth about what Carnival feels about supporting Cruise Critic meet and greets. “On our NCL cruises, they put together a nice event – with the captain, CD, HD, chef, F&B manager, etc. usually all there. That was the case again last week on the Breakaway. Refreshments were provided and even had chocolate covered strawberries come our way (delivered to our cabin) from the HD later in the week — everyone signed it with their names and cabin numbers upon entering the event. WITHOUT A DOUBT, NCL tries harder, at least in that regard.

What I saw on the Oasis earlier this year was also MUCH more impressive than anything I’ve seen on Carnival. I’ve set up a few through Carnival and only twice did the CD show up. Two times JH was on board and could not apparently find the time…

Carnival’s attitude towards CC seems to be on again/off again, though never really very “on.”

 

John says:

Hello Gail Kusiack,

I am guessing the fact that you have most of this post in quotation marks that this is not your statement but indeed someone else’s. I don’t have the time to worry or honestly care actually what other cruise lines do. Sorry to be so blunt but I have said over and over again that I will supply some raffle prizes, help organise a lounge to meet in but that’s it, nothing else, the end. I think it’s great that people who meet on the Internet get to meet on board but why Carnival should provide drinks and other items and why the captain should come is beyond me. Every guest has an opportunity to meet the captain at his celebration on elegant night. As for whoever wrote that I had been invited and did not attend, well, I apologise but there is a bigger picture to the job the CDs do and it is not always possible to attend despite those who think we are sitting in our cabins doing bugger all. I am sorry if I sound defensive and somewhat confrontational but I am truly fed up with these kinds of comments. So for the last time, let me kindly say this– I support Cruise Critic meetings. I will help you all arrange them as I do each week and my CD colleagues and I will arrange for two bottles of champagne and two trophies to be sent to those meetings to do so as you wish and, most importantly, I wish you all a brilliant cruise

John

 

Laurie Kamp asks:

Hi John! I just wanted to say that, ever since our first cruise aboard the Fantasy three years ago, my hubby and I are very much looking forward to our next cruise on March 16, 2014 aboard the Sunshine! (It will be our 4th wedding anniversary.) I don’t care what others say about a private table. I look forward to sharing a dinner table with other people as long as they are in the same generation as me! I figure a stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet! Look forward to meeting many new friends on future cruises with Carnival. You guys rock! 🙂

 

John says:

Hello Laurie Kamp,

It is interesting how opinions vary on this and I do see lots of requests for both private tables (as earlier in today’s Q and A) and indeed to be seated with others. Please send me your cabin number four days before sailing if you can on my facebook page (facebook.com/johnheald) or a month before here on the blog. Either way, I will ask the maître d’ to help you. I wish you a great cruise and thanks so much for the kind words
Best wishes.
John

 

Robert Eitel asks:

Hi John! We are so excited for our upcoming cruise on the Valor, Nov. 2-10. Our booking number is 72VQS5… So, what is the least expensive way to print out our United Airlines boarding passes 24 hours before our flight home? We know that we have fee access to the Internet on board the ship but since we purchased our airport/pier transfers for $60.00 with Carnival, we were thinking that the fee should be waved. Would the ship’s Guest Services have this perk available for those of us who have purchased transfers? Thanks, Bob and Sherri Eitel

 

John says:

Hello Robert Eitel,

With so many guests on board, many who fly, we don’t, I am afraid, have a service that allows this for free. However, with the quicker Internet speeds now and the lower price per minute plans, this should be affordable, quick and easy. If there is anything I can do for you aside from this, please do let me know and I will be here or on my facebook.com/johnheald page. Have a brilliant cruise
Best wishes.
John

 

Brenda Jones asks:

Hi –
I recently sailed on the Carnival Liberty which has an awesome volleyball court on it along with a 1/2 court basketball court!!! It was amazing!!! My kids loved this and so did I. When we got home, I asked if they
would be interested in another cruise and they answered, “Yes, if there is a volleyball court on the ship like this one had and also basketball court.”

The Liberty volleyball & basketball court is aweseome. It was wonderful for everyone! My kids are 18, 15 and 8 and all of them got involved in volleyball, as well as the grandparents that were sailing with us and myself. It was nice because it wasn’t so highly physical and intense as the basketball court on the other side of the sports deck. My two oldest both play high school basketball, but said that a ship having a volleyball court was even more fun than the basketballcourt. They spent a majority of their their time playing volleyball.

When I was looking to book a cruise, I only considered ships with a basketball court. I lucked into the volleyball court, so I wanted to pass along what a great asset having both volleyball and basketball is for Carnival.

Also – can you tell me which Carnival ships have a volleyball court along with a basketball court? As I plan for our next cruise, the kids feel this is of highest importance! 🙂

Thank you so much!!

 

John says:

Hello Brenda,

It sounds like you all had a brilliant time and enjoyed the sports court. I think you should try Carnival Breeze and Carnival Magic next. Not only do they have the basketball court/volleyball court but SportSquare with a ropes course and of course the incredible multi slide water parks. These ships will be something that, I have no doubts in saying, will give you all even more “wow” moments. Please let me know if you have any other questions and I hope we see you soon on another Carnival ship having even more Carnival fun.

Best wishes
John

 

Richard Neumark asks:

We are considering our first cruise ever for early 2014 and have picked the ship Dream to sail on. It will be me and my wife and our two children aged 4 and 5 both of whom are adopted children from Cameroon which, John, is in Africa. We are in the final stages of this and they speak no English at the moment so I wanted to know if the staff who look after the children in what I think you call the Camp Carnival, will speak any other languages, specifically French. This isn’t a deal breaker but it would make us feel more comfortable as parents if we knew in advance if this was possible. Can you tell me the answer quickly so we can book?

 

John says:

Hello Richard Neumark,

Many congratulations on what you are doing and you will make two children very happy, providing them with a wonderful life. I have to say the chances of any of the staff at Camp Carnival speaking French are slim. It’s impossible to say for sure until I know when you are sailing so I can check the crew manifest but you should prepare for their not being. The staff at Camp Carnival though are very used to looking after and entertaining children from all over the world, so please don’t worry, this will be normal for them and they will make sure your two new family members have a wonderful time. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes and many congratulations.

John

 

And that’s all for today. Thanks so much for all your comments, questions and reviews.

Now everyone likes a good contest so here are two chances to win a cruise and enjoy rocking out to some brilliant music:
http://www.theweezercruise.com/carnival_weezer_giveaway
http://matchboxtwentycruise.com/carnival_matchbox_twenty_giveaway

Good luck, everyone, and rock on.

It has been a hectic and busy cruise but, as I mentioned, most of the guests are very happy especially as we sprung a little surprise for them of which I will tell you more of in a moment. There are some ……………well………..moaners………….yep, very unprofessional of me to say that of a paying guest but when you get complaints that a guest felt insulted at the version of the Lord’s Prayer the ship priest used and a guest shouting at me because not having a bridge instructor on board, “ruined my cruise,” gives me, I think, cause to use the word ” moaners.” This is usual for a crossing and, having done so many, I know that there will be a couple of grumpy people on board and there is nothing you can do except keep trying to make them happy.

Yesterday, though, 99% of the guests were very, very happy indeed. Here is why.

You see, we have had, since our time in Belfast, an “Ice Pilot” on board. This is someone who has experience in sailing the waters of Iceland and Greenland. The pilot we have is called Captain Fritz and he is a wonderful chap, full of stories. Anyway, we were talking on the bridge the other day, when he told me of a stunning fjord.

In speaking with Captain Fritz, he told me that other ships have navigated this stunning passage through the mountains and passed three active glaciers. In fact, he was there two weeks ago on board our sister line’s AIDABella ship and they had done this. So I spoke to our captain about this and, thanks to Captain Donato’s kind permission, we will try and do the same. This will start at approx. 9:00am on 10/3 (Thursday), the day before our arrival in Qaqortoq. Now, obviously, this is dependent on the weather and, obviously, the captain will advise should we not be able to pass through but, so far, it looks like we will be able to do so. This is the passage and a photo of where we will be going between 9:00am and 4pm tomorrow.

 

map

 

fjord

Captain Fritz then told me that, on the AIDABella, they had done something very special for their guests and I thought it would be brilliant if we did the same, so we are. At around noon, the ship will stop by a very small town/ice station called Augpilagtoq, population 200 people. There, we will lower one of our tenders and myself, ship’s photographer and an officer, etc. will go across to the town. Once there, we will hand over postcards as addressed by the ship’s guests which will be mailed from one of the most remote areas in the world.

As shown here:

postcard

There was one problem– we don’t have any postcards, at least not free ones– just the books of cards at the photo gallery and I didn’t want the guests to pay for the cards. So we decided to use a ship’s photo and print them into card size on card paper and place them in the cabins. The guests will then have until 10:00pm tonight to put them in a box we have in the lobby.

I have to say that when I told the guests that we were doing the fjord pass and then the free postcard and free mailing, they all cheered and applauded and, since then, as I have walked the ship, have received so many great comments about what we are doing.

I made it very, very clear that this was weather dependent and if the Fjord had high winds or lots of packed ice, that we would, for obvious reasons, not be going. So……………..fingers crossed.

Anyway, as I said, everyone loves this idea and is very appreciative……….well…………nearly everyone.

From: LEGEND GUEST SERVICES
Sent: Monday, September 30, 2013 10:19 PM
To: LEGEND CRUISE DIRECTOR;
Cc: LEGEND ASSISTANT CRUISE DIRECTOR; LEGEND HOTEL DIRECTOR; LEGEND GUEST SERVICES SUPERVISOR
Subject: SR#________ Mrs______-Comment on Postcard

Hello John

Mrs______came to the desk to say it was very cheap of us to only allow two postcards in the cabin. She says they should be unlimited and that other cruise lines did that. She wants to talk to you.

Thank you

Guest Services Carnival Legend
Carnival Cruise Lines

 

Amazing, every other guest is applauding and cheering for what we are doing and yet there is one who…………………aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

So other cruise lines give their guests unlimited free postcards and mail as many as they want for free. Yep, they do that in the same way I am going to call this lady, as in, I am not. And no, she is not getting unlimited amounts of postcards or any fruit, except prunes– she can have a huge basket of prunes. I will then take all the toilet paper out of her cabin and she can use the sodding postcards instead.

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.