It’s quite comical, really. You see, Carnival Legend has, these past few weeks, docked in ports we have never been to before such as Oslo, Edinburgh, Belfast, Reykjavik and others. In all of these ports, we have been met with wonderful hospitality and upon arrival and departure, there have been locals who have come to see the famous “whale tale” that is Carnival Cruise Lines. But here is the comical bit. Every time I spoke to our ship’s agent or some local people or the local entertainers and mentioned how nice it was to see people coming to take photos of the ship, they all said the same thing: “You should have seen it when the Queen Mary 2 was here, hundreds, maybe thousands, came to see the ship!”

Yep, try as we might, try as the Massive of the Seas might and try as any sodding ship in the industry might, nothing attracts the attention in ports around the world as the Queen Mary 2. OK, maybe me standing on the pier with a set of bagpipes shoved up my bottom playing Scotland the Brave may create a crowd but short of that………only the Queen seems to bring out the masses. She is surely one of the greatest ships ever built and, certainly, she is the ship that saved Cunard. Indeed, people with much greater understanding of this industry have said that, without Carnival’s purchase of Cunard and the courage to expand the brand with spectacular new ships, then Cunard would become like Concorde and spoken only in the history books.

There will, speaking of Concorde, be one of them on that aircraft carrier we will dock next to in New York next week and it makes me wish I could have seen Concorde take off and land and, of course, like many, I wish I could have flown on her. Actually maybe not considering I would have had to ask for a seat belt extension. But whenever the hook-nosed, sleek machine took off and landed from, you knew there would be crowds of admirers and people who would be standing on the observation deck dreaming that they were one of the pop stars or business beards who would experience the thrill of traveling faster than the speed of…..…well…….everything else. But now………it’s gone.

I don’t feel sorry for the people with beards who now need eight hours of breathing in my farts to get across the Atlantic. I do, however, feel sorry for the plane itself. It’s sitting in some shed now, wondering what it has done wrong and why it has been put on the naughty step. Why did it not fly yesterday and why is there no sense that it will fly today? Why is nobody tinkering with its engines, filling its refrigerators with expensive champagne and vacuuming its bespoke leather seats in case Megan Fox puts her gorgeous bottom on one?

There hasn’t been anything to replace Concorde in the sky. But there is one mode of transport that has the same effect on people as Concorde once had and that, is indeed, The Queen Mary 2.

She has taken on the role of the most iconic mode of luxurious transportation. Yes, there are bigger ships but bugger all can compare to the Queen Mary 2. Like her sister, the Queen Elizabeth 2, and Concorde before her, wherever she goes she is joined by a new breed of dreamers and well-wishers who stand on piers in Australia and Scotland, New York and Norway all wanting to catch a glimpse of the Queen. It is said that the sight of the Queen Mary 2 entering the harbour is enough to make some ship fanatics wet themselves. Anyway, this leads me on to a thank you to a good friend of this blog and someone who has served Cunard so brilliantly for many years. His name is Peter Shanks who this week will retire from his position of president and managing director of Cunard. He has given blog readers some wonderful insights into the Cunard way over the years and I wanted to wish him a wonderful retirement full of relaxation and fun.

Time for today’s Q and A………………..here we go.

 

Conor Castleberry asks:

Hi John: I’m Conor and I’m going on the Carnival Fantasy on Oct 18. It is going to be my first cruise! I’m super excited. I have a twin and we are turning 13. Do you know what I can do to have the room decorated? I want to surprise him. Thanks

Conor

 

John says:

Hello Conor Castleberry,

I can see how excited you are and I am sure this will be a brilliant experience for all the family. If you go to carnival.com/funshops, you will find how to have the cabin decorated. I would also ask to see if you can ask your parents to contact me on my facebook.com/johnheald and on October 17 you send me the ship and cabin number so I can send you something. I hope that you all have a wonderful time and I wish you both a very fun birthday. Best wishes.

John

 

Vanessa Lakritz asks:

We are just back from our cruise on the Carnival Dream and as platinum VIPs have to gripe. Why should we have to stand in long lines to get back on the ship in the ports in sweltering heat? Other cruise lines have VIP-only gang planks and so should Carnival. We had some issues with our suite and the balcony door which made a rattling sound and when we stood in line at the platinum only section of the front desk there were people in front of us twice who were not platinum. I paid thousands of dollars, mostly in suites to get to my 11 cruises so Carnival should acknowledge this with better advantages.

 

John says:

Hello Vanessa Lakritz,

Let me start by saying that, despite your concerns, I do hope you had a great cruise. I also want to apologise for the problems you had with the balcony door and I am sure our crew got this fixed quickly. There may have been guests who have purchased the Faster to the Fun program who were using the concierge section of the guest services desk as they are permitted to and, again, I am sorry you had to wait. And while bringing guests to the front of the line or having an extra gangway just for our VIFPs is not something that operationally we can do, we are looking again at the loyalty program to see what we can do to make it better. I thank you for your loyalty and hope to see you soon. Best wishes.

John

 

Donna Mollett asks:

Dear John,

I’m just devastated.  My husband and I will be sailing on the Carnival Conquest November 9, first leg of her repositioning, and then hopping onto the Carnival Valor November 17 for another seven days.  I was trying to take advantage of the grandfather clause to become platinum by the end of the year, I just learned that it may not be recognized on our 10th cruise while on the Carnival Valor.  Carnival customer service said it takes up to seven to 10 days to register your cruise.  Do you have any suggestions on how I can get the platinum status recognized before I board the Carnival Valor or at least while I’m on it?  Additionally, I want to express how much I enjoy reading your blog, I know after a rough day at work, I can look forward to them and usually have a laugh or two.  Thank you.

 

John says:

Hello Donna Mollett,

There is absolutely no reason for you to be “devastated.” You see, you will receive your Platinum cards at embarkation and while the sailing itself may take a few days to be added, you will have your well-deserved Platinum benefits. So I wish you both a brilliant cruise and thank you for your fantastic loyalty. Best wishes.

John

 

Katherine Napier asks:

Traveling with my new husband on our honeymoon on Carnival Sensation November 3 and wonder if you do anything for honeymooners? Are there any freebies? We are in the cabin R74. Both of us are National Guard if that helps.

 

John says:

Hello Katherine Napier,

Thank you for your support of your country in the National Guard and if you could please send me this again on my facebook.com/johnheald page on November 2, I will see what we can do. Have a brilliant time and a wonderful life together. Best wishes.

John

 

Denise Gregerson asks:

Hello John – Is there a new Chef’s Table menu coming anytime soon. Enquiring minds want to know before or cruise on Carnival Elation in October.

 

John says:

Hello Denise Gregerson,

There is one coming but it won’t be here until the end of the year or perhaps even beyond I am afraid. I hope you have a brilliant cruise and enjoy the table again so please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.

John

 

Constance Koenes asks:

We are platinum cruisers and on February 23, 2014 and March 1, we have booked our 24th & 25th cruises. I have sent a letter to Gerry Cahill asking him to please allow me to have credit for my husband Richard’s 24th and 25th cruises. The reason is this: Richard, the love of my life, passed away suddenly after being diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, bone cancer, and lymph node cancer. He was diagnosed on 7/18 and passed into heaven on 7/25 – Richard never missed a day of work in his life, so we are in deep grief over this. I have my best friend to travel with me on the 2/23 cruise and my two daughters will join me on the 3/1 cruise. Normally, if Richard had lived we would have been entitled to a 25% discount or on-board credit which Carnival’s Milestone desk denied. I would like to ask for your help. Second request, I want to change from cabin #8374 to a spa cabin #11226 and they are now telling me all three of us cannot use the spa amenities, only two per room. Is there any way there could be an exception made as I really want to be with my daughters to have them experience the spa amenities? I do know one can pay extra, but am on limited funds due to my husband’s death so that would not be possible for me. Please let me know as soon as possible as that will be the deciding factor in our decision to switch from balcony to spa balcony.

Connie

 

John says:

Hello Constance Koenes,

I send you my deepest sympathies for the terrible loss you and the family have suffered and my thoughts are with you as I write this. I will pass this on to some of my colleagues to see if anything can be done. Thank you for writing to me and, again, my condolences to you all.

John

 

Marion Beninger asks:

We had an emergency call that woke us in the middle of the night on our last cruise on Carnival Fascination. It was bright star and folks on Cruise Critic are saying that it’s when a passenger has died. Is this true because, after that announcement, nothing else was said so we are in the dark. What happened, John?

 

John says:

Hello Marion Beninger,

First of all, I hope you had a great cruise and enjoyed all the fun. The call “bright star” is made, not when someone has died but when a guest or a crew member needs immediate and urgent medical assistance. It alerts the medical team, stretcher team and others to the location. Now, obviously, we don’t give medical details of how that person is doing after the call so I will simply say that I hope they made a full recovery. Thanks for asking and if you have any other questions I am here. Best wishes.

John

 

Thomas Kennedy asks:

Hi John, I am cruising on the Carnival Sunshine December 1 — my fourth cruise, all on Carnival.  I know you will be at the renaming in NOLA in November but I was wondering if you were going to be on afterwards. My cruise group missed you on the Carnival Magic after it started in Galveston and would really like to meet you. Also, I was wondering, I have worked in the food industry for many years (during high school and college), why does Carnival serve can sodas? The reason I ask is because fountain drinks have a higher profit margin and produce less waste. This is just an observation not a complaint as I usually get the endless bubbles so this doesn’t really affect me.

 

 John says:

Hello Thomas Kennedy,

I won’t be back on the Carnival Sunshine after the naming ceremony until the Bloggers Cruise on February 16. I really hope we get to sail together though one day very soon. As for the soda fountains, you’re right, profit-wise, they are better but there are two reasons we don’t use them anymore. Firstly, guests feel the taste is vastly different but the main reason is that they are a heck of a job to keep clean and, with such strict USPH laws we find, overall, cans are better. I hope this helps and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.

John

 

George Ellmore asks:

John – My wife and I don’t sail again until 3-30-14 on the Carnival Sunshine.  We always sail two to three times a year but she has had two bouts with cancer over the last year.  Thank God she will be OK.  I will e-mail you when it is closer to our date.  My question is:  We sail on the Carnival Sunshine on 3-30-14.  Will you be the CD?

 

John says:

Hello George Ellmore,

Please send my best wishes to your wife for health and happiness in the future. And while I won’t be the CD, please do get in touch a couple of days before you cruise either here or on my .com/johnheald page. I hope you both have a brilliant time. Best wishes.

John

 

And that’s all for today.

OK, as you know, we have the naming ceremony of the new Carnival Sunshine on November 17 in New Orleans. There will be a grand naming ceremony, concert and overnight function, including shows, dinner and lots of Carnival fun. And so I thought we would have a little contest for those who live in the area and would like to come. The prize is a stateroom for two, seats at the naming ceremony, dinner, wine and fun staying overnight and disembarking the next morning. I can’t pay for transportation of flights or any hotels on other nights but 20 winners will be able to bring a guest (one guest only) and join me for a great night.

How do you enter? Simply answer this question:

A day without sunshine is like………………………..

For example, a day without sunshine is like a garden with no flowers………….etc., etc.

The beards will choose the 20 best entries and you will be informed by the end of next week.

Please submit your answers by e-mailing socialnetworking@carnival.com. All entries must be in by 12:05am EST on Wednesday October 9, 2013.

Good luck, hope to see you on board.

Now as requested and in some cases demanded………..here is the latest piano bar schedule:

 

Carnival Miracle

Justin Abrams

10/06/13

Carnival Legend

Bruce McGhie

10/10/13

Carnival Spirit

Geoff Davies

10/17/13

Carnival Victory

Derrik Wayne Robertson

10/19/13

Carnival Imagination

Michael O’Quinn

10/25/13

Carnival Conquest

Larry Maconaghy

10/27/13

Carnival Dream

Rick Yerkes

11/02/13

Carnival Sensation

TJ Kuenster

11/03/13

Carnival Breeze

Ben Gentry

11/03/13

Carnival Inspiration

Tom Grable

11/04/13

Carnival Paradise

Shea Michael Duncan

11/07/13

Carnival Elation

Darrin Isaacs

11/07/13

Carnival Sunshine

Seth Gibson

11/17/13

Carnival Liberty

Jim Morris

11/23/13

Carnival Freedom

Martin Gast

11/24/13

Carnival Triumph

Augustin Villarin

12/02/13

Carnival Pride

Roger Concepcion

12/08/13

Carnival Splendor

Frank Chase Glenn

12/11/13

Carnival Valor

Dana Honey

12/29/13

Carnival Ecstasy

Milburn Dumas

01/13/14

Carnival Fascination

Robert Cozma

01/16/14

Carnival Magic

Jordan Heppner

01/19/14

Carnival Fantasy

Robert Crucilla

02/16/14

Carnival Glory

David Filsinger

03/30/14

 

Now, before anyone asks – no, I don’t know who is replacing anyone once those dates arrive but I will update the schedule again in a couple of weeks. I thank Laura — “aka Divetrash” — for the continuing support on her piano bar entertainers’ page and, of course, I thank all of the entertainers themselves for all they do.

So today we are in Greenland — a place most of us have only possibly seen from 32,000 feet. It’s the big nothing on the way to and from the United States. You look out of the window (from economy, in my case) and there’s Greenland. You watch a movie, let one fly, try to stretch your legs out, get a cramp, fart again, eat something that the flight attendant says is chicken but tastes like yak testicle, look out the window again and Greenland is still there. Look at a map and you will see it’s just a huge dollop of white.

Considering this, it has been amazing to listen to so many guests who told me the reason they took this cruise was to go to Greenland.  When I first heard this I thought that’s like saying the only reason I booked dinner at the steakhouse is for the bread they serve. But as we started to tender guests ashore today, there was definitely excitement in the air along with a cold biting wind that would have had a polar bear running in doors looking for his North Face jacket.

But guests don’t seem to care. They don’t care either that there is bugger all to do here. I made that very clear in my travel talk. There are no tours, no taxis, nothing. Someone asked me for a map but there are no maps because there’s sod all here to draw, just hundreds of miles of ancient ice.  “How about shopping?” the guests asked. Well, there is a shopping center in Qaqortaq. OK, shopping center maybe a bit of an overstatement because there is……. ummmm………well, one shop in the visitors’ center. It sells souvenirs. And can fit about five people in it at a time. Oops.

The guests will see that on the waterfront where the tenders dock there are two warehouses where ships come from Denmark to bring everything that the Greenlanders have that isn’t made of fur or wood.

It’s cold today, around 0 degrees, but this is mild. In December and January, the temperatures get down to -30 degrees and just a few minutes outside will turn your tongue into a Popsicle.

There are some Eskimos on the dock doing a demonstration for our guests of their way of life. This includes showing how they eat seal and use the entire animal for food or to make clothes and even shoes. I saw how they lived when I went to post the cards yesterday for the guests and the crew and what an extraordinary place this Eskimo village was. I was told yesterday by one of the men who met the Carnival Legend tender as it arrived that all Eskimo men hunt and only the women fish. The seal is the staple of their lives – it’s their food, heat and clothes. Look, rather than me ramble on about how extraordinary it was, why don’t I let the photos tell the story.

 

town

legend stoped

people

close town

iceberg

legend in water 2

At first, I couldn’t understand why Carnival had chosen Greenland as a port of call and I couldn’t understand why our Carnival Legend guests were so excited to come here. But……..as we sailed through the fjord yesterday and as I stand on my balcony today breathing in the clear air I can see far, far across the packed ice. The ice refracts the light and some of the water around the huge glaciers is azure blue from the inside. It is the most stunning phenomenon. Cameras never really capture it and Mr. Radu, who probably could have, was on vacation. The ice floes sail past the Carnival Legend across the water and yesterday in Prince’s Sound fjord we saw huge ranges of mountains that glisten against the never ending sky and that tower over a place that is still, silent and without noise of any kind.

We just have to come back to give you a chance to see Greenland, a country that is eerily spectacular and as beautiful as any place on Earth.

 

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.