PIANOS, SEAGULLS AND SCHEDULES

May 1, 2014 -

John Heald

Carnival Miracle was built in Finland and, let me tell you something about the Finnish, they really were brilliant ship builders and, although once quitting time came around, they might like to hoist a pint or two (or three) but when they worked, they were as dedicated as anyone I’ve ever seen to become superb builders of sea going vessels — and indeed still are.

 But as I walk around Carnival Miracle and admire their work, which has stood the test of time here for sure, I can’t help but remember the difference between how the ship builders were during the week vs. how they were on the weekend (which you could probably say the same for a lot of European nations not to mention the U.S.). Their motto seemed to be that it was no use drinking the odd glass of beer now and then, it was too expensive and a waste of time. So why not wait until the weekend and drink 10 beers and a bottle of vodka and so that is exactly what they did.

 The men and women who built the beautiful Carnival Miracle were fantastic. Their work was faultless, but come the weekend, it is another story. They would fill Coke bottles up with vodka and Coke……and that was to drink on the bicycle ride home. Some were so pissed (that’s the British pissed) that they rode home on their bikes….backwards. After the Ukraine, Mr. Putin should think about invading Finland. I would suggest he do so between November and February because no bugger is awake…………….although you could also invade in June as well because everyone will be on holiday and too drunk to care.

 The one thing that really makes me laugh here is the elevators. On the Fincantieri-Italian built ships the voice they used is soft and welcoming but here on the Carnival Miracle, the voice that they use to tell you what deck you’re on is a voice owned probably by someone from Germany called Frau Dickov who shouts that you have arrived at “DECK SEX.”

 But the ship looks great and some of the ship’s lounges show Joe Farcus at his madcap best.

Yesterday I spoke about the wash cloths and, no, we will not be taking them away as was suggested on some of the comments. It was just my observation for living in a guest cabin that I obviously do not often get a chance to do. I also noticed I have more chargers and adaptors than a Rolling Stones roadie – is one power point not enough?

 The Carnival Comfort Bed was far more comfortable than the bed I just slept in at the Vancouver Hyattintercontinentalmarriott. People who slam cabin doors should be forced to walk along Promenade Deck wearing the Fun Ship Freddy head…..nothing else, just the Fun Ship Freddy head. It is the little things that they do in hotels that really get on my nerves and one of those has now been adopted on the ships. Why do we push the garbage bin in the cabin all the way under the stool and under the dresser? This means because I am incapable of bending down, I have to literally sit on the floor, pull the bin out and then heave myself up again. And when I come back to the cabin at night, my stateroom steward, Ketut, has put the sodding thing all the way under the stool and the dresser again.

 OK, enough of my moaning. Time for some Q and A………….let’s see what today brings, shall we? Off we go.

 Jennifer Wyss asks:

Jennifer Wyss

First of all, I have only been on one cruise, Carnival Liberty, and LOVED it. However, I did find it odd that the ONE water slide they had was closed so early every night, by 6 or 7 if I remember correctly.  I will be taking my sons and the rest of my family with me on Carnival Sunshine in September and was wondering if SportSquare and WaterWorks are also going to shut down early?  I have been told on FB that these usually close around dark.  If that is true, why?  They offer so much entertainment for people and does not make a whole lot of sense to shut down entertainment venues so early as there is not a ton for people to do at dark, especially the kids or

young at heart adults.  Also, how come Guy’s Burger Joint and other Lido deck dining venues close by 6?  Is it like this on ALL this ships?  A lot of people eat later than 6 pm and it seems that even 7 or 8 pm would be a lot more reasonable, especially on port days.  I am not trying to be one of those annoying people that just like to bitch, but it just seems like some of the most popular activities/dining areas, close so early. Is it possible this could be changed even an hour to two later?  Maybe it was just the Carnival Liberty and I will be in for a pleasant surprise on the Carnival Sunshine (keeping fingers crossed).  Thank you for reading this and have a great day.

John says: 

Hello Jennifer Ways

I am so glad to see that you have enjoyed your cruise on the Carnival Liberty and are looking forward to the Carnival Sunshine which has so much to offer you and your family. Now you mentioned the opening times of the water park which on the ship are from 9 am – 6 pm. We really cannot keep this open any later for operational and manning reasons as well as safety when climbing the stairs at night. Hopefully, the nine hours that these brilliant slides will be open will be enough for you all to enjoy. As for Guy’s burgers, we also have them open from noon – 6 pm and there are many more great dining options available at night as well already. It should be noted as well that our crew can only work a certain amount of hours as per maritime labor regulations. I can assure you that you and the family will have the most fantastic time on the Carnival Sunshine and the fun will be non-stop. Please let me know if you need anything. Best wishes to you all.

John

 Patricia Liefield asks:

Hi John,

Were you the cruise director on the Carnival Fantasy in July 1991 (over the 4th of July)?  That was my first cruise.  We were on our honeymoon. 

Regards,

Patricia

 John says:

Hello Patricia Liefeld

Yes, indeed, I was. That was a long time ago and I hope you are both doing well and that one day we will cruise together again. Best wishes.

John

 Linda Suren asks:

 So no veggie burgers on the Carnival Breeze. Did you know meat makes men impotent? It does, you should check that fact out. I’ve been to some fab places where vegetarians are welcomed. The Carnival Liberty ship is not one of those places

 John says:

Hello Linda Suren

I think had I read this some years ago, I may have had to agree with you because back then, vegetarians were not exactly spoiled for choice. But even though we do not serve a veggie burger option at Guy’s Burger Joint, we have many different choices for our vegetablists to enjoy and, for the very most part, I hear nothing but positive comments about this. As for meat making you impotent ………….wow, I had no idea and I have eaten lots of burgers so now I am worried. Hold on; let me pop on over to www.nakedlatvianladies.org………….back in a moment. OK, I am back and I can confirm that despite eating meat for many years, everything works just fine. Thanks, Linda, hope we see you soon for another wonderful cruise. Best wishes.

John

 Ted Caffyn asks:

John- A bunch of us are sailing on the Carnival Liberty August 30. Any chance you can sneak on and hang with us for a couple of days? I get a kick reading your posts and am impressed how well you keep your cool and you sound like a fun guy to BS with. Your first round will be on me. But you got to cover your own cruise cost….. LOL!

Ted

 John Says:

Hello Ted Caffyn

I wish I could be there with you, Ted, and I am sure you will all have the best of times. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.

John

 Alana Blake asks:

Carnival Pride will be coming to my home port of Tampa.  It is listed to go to dry dock for 2.0 upgrades in 2014.  Can you tell me the dates?

 John says:

Hello Alana Blake

Carnival Pride will be in dry dock from October 19 until November 9 and the ship will get a host of Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades like Alchemy Bar, Guy’s Burger Joint, RedFrog Rum Bar among others. Best wishes.

John

 Kelly Ems- Wood asks:

John-

I have two questions:

1.  I have a cruise booked on the Carnival Sunshine Feb7, 2015. Every time I try to go to book shore excursions, nothing shows up, no ports, no excursions. Is there something going on with that sailing?  I have two other cruises booked on the Carnival Sunshine prior to then and one on the Carnival Victory in May and the shore excursions show up, no problem. I asked my PVP and she has no idea why either.

 2.  Another question my PVP couldn’t answer is why the full cruise schedule isn’t out past April 2015?  I’d like to book a cruise while on my May cruise, for next May but since you got rid of the Future Cruise Certificates (extremely disappointed, plus it’s taking business away for the shoreside PVP’s) I need to see my options and decide prior to getting on the ship, so I’m ready to book when I see there is no line at the desk.

 PS – Carnival Sunshine is the best ship yet!  Sailed on her in January, now have 3 more booked on her,(possibly more if you’d release the schedule!)  Please get the schedule out soon, I made Platinum VIP in 4 years, would like to be Diamond in the next 4!! I’m pretty excited about that since I live in Nebraska!!! Thanks!

Kelly Ems-Wood

 John says:

Hello Kelly Ems – Wood

Let’s start with question number 1– the shore excursions for your cruise will be up by the end of October at the very latest. We are working on new excursions and finalising everything for 2015, so please don’t worry and also do let me know if, after they are posted, you have questions. There is no news of the Future Cruise Certificate returning, I am afraid. The beards are very much aware that they are missed, so we shall see if anything changes in future days. The full schedule for all the ships in 2015 will be available by the middle of May and I will keep you informed. Finally, I wanted to thank you for your loyalty and congratulate you on reaching such a high status in such a short time. If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.

Best wishes.

John

 Noel asks:

Hi John, I’m going on the Carnival Breeze in June and was going to try to get Faster to the Fun but it’s sold out. I notice suites get VIP boarding and we have a premiere vista balcony room which are very much more expensive than a normal balcony. We should be able to get quick boarding. Is there any way to even get Faster to the Fun?

 John Says:

Hello Noel

Thanks for asking. We only sell approximately 15 cabins on this program but please do keep checking back just in case we have some cancellations or we may add a few more spots. I hope you have a brilliant time and please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

John

 Neil Weiser asks:

While on my vacation cruise on the Carnival Sunshine, I attended the Friends of Bill W meeting which I was astonished and angered to discover was being held in the Library Bar. Yes, Heald, your people held a meeting for Alcoholics Anonymous in a frigging bar. The cruise environment is challenging enough without this!!!!!!!!!!! There is evidence that people who really stick to the AA program do well and the sanctimonious idiots who planned our meetings there obviously have no experience or care for those of us who suffer this disease. I have another cruise booked on the Freedom in August!!! Can you get it right this time!!!! Booking # Freedom ******

 John says:

Hello Neil Weiser

I can see just how upset you are by what happened and for that I sincerely apologise. I realize, as does Carnival, just how important these meetings are and, certainly, we always do our best across the fleet to provide places and times to meet. The problem with this is that just about every single guest lounge and space on Carnival Sunshine has a bar or drinks service there. We don’t have the conference room or chapel on this ship as we do on others and the Library Bar is an excellent space much enjoyed by our guests but, obviously, not the best place for a Friends of Bill W meeting. Unfortunately there is nowhere else to do this on Carnival Sunshine but, on the Carnival Freedom, the meetings are in the conference room which does not have a bar in it. Please let me know if you have any other concerns and I will be here to help you. Have a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes.

John

 Kimberly Wright asks:

Hi John,

We are going to be on the Carnival Valor April 27, 2014, and this cruise will mean more to me than any other cruise I have been on because, just four weeks ago, I had colon cancer surgery (they got it all, caught it in time). The thing I looked forward to the most through my journey was to be able to go on this cruise. I was wondering if I could please have a ship on a stick for memories BOOKING NUMBER ******/ CABIN NUMBER 7330. Cheers.

Kim Wright

 John says:

Hello Kim Wright

I just saw this and am so glad I did and will send this to the ship. Many congratulations and I wish you many years of health and happiness. Best wishes.

John

 Wayne Kuppblatt asks:

Evening, John. Thank you for coming back to us and confirming Carnival will not be returning to the Med in 2015. After spending two weeks on the beautiful Carnival Sunshine last summer, we found this news heart breaking as we had the most amazing cruise in our 10 years of cruising and only our first with Carnival. We have now set our hopes on returning to the Carnival Sunshine next summer and are willing to fly to meet up with her. Do you know where the Carnival Sunshine will be sailing from August 2015 and when the cruises will be going on sale? Thank you for your time in reading this and hopefully you are able to shed some light on things.

 John says:

Hello Wayne Kuppblatt

Carnival Sunshine will remain in Port Canaveral in 2015 and will enjoy cruising in the Caribbean. Cruises will be available to purchase from the middle of May and I will keep you informed. I totally understand your disappointment about us not being in Europe; I feel the same but let’s see what the future brings. Until then, I am here if you have any questions and I hope to see you soon. Best wishes.

John

 Hattie Marek asks:

Loyola High School in Los Angeles has a very special lady who celebrates her graduation and her acceptance into Jacobs School of Music, Lawrence University, New England Conservatory. Her name is Grace Ann Marek and you will be pleased to know that we have decided to celebrate her graduation as a family on your Carnival Breeze ship 8/15 in room E73. I would like to request your kindness be bestowed on us and, to complement this celebration, that she be allowed to sing at one of the shows on the big stage. She will bring an hours’ worth of music for all generations to enjoy and experience and I promise Grace Ann will be the talk of the ship after she has performed. Can you expedite an answer so we can discuss her sound and music requirements which I hope can be with the live band players? I can be contacted at ___________ Thank you, you will not be disappointed and neither will be the Inspiration passengers who will hear a star with a voice sent to her from the heavens.

 John says:

Hello Hattie Marek

You must be so very proud of your daughter and I am sure she will have a wonderful future bringing music to others. Unfortunately, our shows are all pre-designed and entertainers booked ahead of time so I really do not have a space for her to perform. We do have karaoke which may not be what you are looking for but, with this activity being so popular, I am sure she will have a big audience to sing to. I hope that is OK for you and I wish you all the most fantastic time.

Best wishes to you all.

John

 Karen Latendresse asks:

Hi John, I have just booked a cruise on the Carnival Valor for next February. I have heard two different stories about Carnival Valor and any possible 2.0 upgrades. Is Valor scheduled to get these upgrades before we board? My husband loves Guy’s burgers and the Alchemy Bar so he will be disappointed if they aren’t there…..As I said to our PVP, it isn’t a deal breaker by any means, but it is nice to have. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer.

Karen

 John says:

Hello Karen Latendresse

At the moment, there are no plans for the Carnival Valor to have a dry dock. Now, this could change for next year and, if and when it does, I will let you know. Carnival Valor is, regardless, a terrific ship with an incredible itinerary from San Juan. Thanks so much for writing to me and please let me know if you need anything. Best wishes.

John

 Frank Lutz asks:

Can you tell me who the cruise director for the pacific crossing to Australia will be on Carnival Legend? On Carnival Spirit, we had Stuart Dunn and he was excellent. Is he with us again?

 John says:

Hello Frank Lutz

Most of the CD schedule is not yet complete for the later part of this year, however, I can tell you that the CD for this voyage and in Australia will be the very talented Eli Sharplin who is from New Zealand. Have a great time with him and on this wonderful voyage. Best wishes.

John

And that’s your lot for today

 I thought it was time we updated the piano bar schedule so with thanks to the beards in the office for sending it to me……..here it is;

 Carnival Breeze

2/26/2014        6/15/2014         PianoBar     Ben Gentry

6/15/2014        8/16/2014         PianoBar     Jordan Heppner

8/16/2014        11/16/2014       PianoBar     Adam Sayer

 Carnival Conquest

3/30/2014        6/15/2014         PianoBar     Gustavo Garcia

6/15/2014        10/26/2014       PianoBar     Jason Buckalew

 Carnival Dream

5/4/2014          6/15/2014         PianoBar     Andrew Pobjoy

6/15/2014        9/14/2014         PianoBar     Kimberly Krohn

9/14/2014        12/14/2014       PianoBar     Barry Meijer

 Carnival Ecstasy

7/14/2014        10/10/2014       PianoBar     Elizabeth Setzer

 Carnival Elation

4/5/2014          7/26/2014        PianoBar         Susan Erwin

7/26/2014        9/25/2014         PianoBar     Zdrazko Spassov

 Carnival Fantasy

3/25/2014        6/27/2014         PianoBar     Anthony Crofoot

6/27/2014        8/18/2014         PianoBar     Peter Zwerver

 Carnival Fascination

4/24/2014        9/18/2014         PianoBar     Jonathan Thompson

9/18/2014        11/13/2014       PianoBar     Hailey Morgan Wiebe

 Carnival Freedom

5/3/2014          8/3/2014           PianoBar     William Seth Gibson

 Carnival Glory

3/30/2014        6/14/2014         PianoBar     Jordan Heppner

6/14/2014        9/13/2014         PianoBar     Kyle Bronsdon

9/13/2014        12/13/2014       PianoBar     Edmond Holz

 Carnival Imagination

7/10/2014        11/13/2014       PianoBar     Daniel Satterberg

 Carnival Inspiration

4/21/2014        5/5/2014           PianoBar     Richard Weinman

  5/5/2014        8/29/2014         PianoBar     Christine Hetfield

 Carnival Legend

2/16/2014        8/17/2014         PianoBar     Todd Fugate

8/17/2014        9/24/2014         PianoBar     William Seth Gibson

9/24/2014        12/16/2014       PianoBar     Gary Pickus

 Carnival Liberty

4/12/2014        7/27/2014         PianoBar     Barry Meijer

7/27/2014        10/18/2014       PianoBar     Milburn Dumas

 Carnival Magic

3/2/2014          6/8/2014           PianoBar     Steve Burks

6/8/2014          9/14/2014         PianoBar     Robert Berhalter

9/14/2014        12/7/2014         PianoBar     Ben Gentry

 Carnival Miracle

3/1/2014          7/1/2014           PianoBar     Adam Sayer

7/1/2014          11/2/2014         PianoBar     Bistra Mileva

 Carnival Paradise

3/31/2014        8/18/2014         PianoBar     Tom Grable

8/18/2014        9/15/2014         PianoBar     Steve Burks

9/15/2014        11/15/2014       PianoBar     Gustavo Garcia

 Carnival Pride

3/30/2014        8/17/2014         PianoBar     Roger Concepcion

8/17/2014        11/16/2014       PianoBar     Reynold Senn

 Carnival Sensation

4/3/2014          7/13/2014         PianoBar     Milburn Dumas

7/13/2014        7/27/2014         PianoBar     Bradley Dean Alexander

 Carnival Spirit

4/20/2014        5/18/2014         PianoBar     Geoffrey Davies

5/18/2014        6/25/2014         PianoBar     Natalie Carboni

6/25/2014        7/23/2014         PianoBar     Timothy Mitchell

7/23/2014        8/29/2014         PianoBar     Andrew Pobjoy

 Carnival Splendor

3/17/2014        10/16/2014       PianoBar     Dana Honey

 Carnival Sunshine

4/9/2014          8/16/2014         PianoBar     Sophia Robbemont

 Carnival Triumph

2/1/2014          8/16/2014         PianoBar     Agustin Villarin

8/16/2014        10/16/2014       PianoBar     Alan Sheppard

10/16/2014      2/5/2015           PianoBar     Robert Berhalter                                                                                                                                 

Carnival Valor                                                                                                                  

2/16/2014        5/11/2014         PianoBar     Walter Boik

5/11/2014        6/22/2014         PianoBar     Greg Alcock

6/22/2014        9/7/2014           PianoBar     Edmond Holz

9/7/2014          12/14/2014       PianoBar     Greg Alcock

 Carnival Victory

4/14/2014        9/25/2014         PianoBar     Robert Crucilla

9/25/2014        12/8/2014         PianoBar     Jordan Peterson        

Thanks to all of the above for the entertainment they provide and to Laura aka Divetrash for looking after them on their own piano players page. As always, I ask for your comments and input as to which of the above really gave you the best of times in their piano bars during your last cruise.

 As the days continue here and as I continue to learn I have realised two things. One and probably the most important, is that the cruise director does, for much of the cruise, take second place to the naturalist and understandably so. The guests here are excited, anxious even to drink in all the information on mountains, glaciers, whales, birds, bears and other wildlife and, Michelle, our resident expert, has a huge vat of knowledge to share with them. My job is to complement that information on the excursions, daily dollops of fun and maybe an announcement every time I see a piece of drift wood floating by.

 Secondly, I have also noticed that the people are not (as I was informed by others before boarding) in bed by 9:30pm. So I am looking at the shows and how to schedule them. Let me explain. You see the vast majority of the guests want to eat early. This is based on their age and because they want to get up early for excursions, I would imagine. The breakdown this cruise is:

 784 guests on early sitting

902 on Your Time Dining

420 on late sitting

 So to accommodate all of this, the managers here decided to move early sitting to 5:30pm and late sitting to 7:45pm, all of which has been welcomed by guests with zero negative comments recorded. I can also tell you that, of the 902 on Your Time Dining, most tend to come between 7 and 8 pm. So Brent, the fantastic cruise director here, and the office beards tried show times to accommodate that and they were as follows

 –        Late sitting guests see the show before dinner at 6:30pm

–        Early sitting guests see the show after dinner at 8:00pm

 This worked really well and, then again, it did not. Yes, the 8pm show was packed but the 6:30pm show was certainly not. Now I have to take into consideration that there were only 500 people on late sitting and not everyone comes to the shows. Sad, but true. But I think in peoples’ minds there was a feeling that 6:30pm was just too early, especially with it still being so light outside and with so much to see on this Alaskan cruise.

 And with so many on Your Time Dining eating between 7pm and 8pm I need to have a late show option for them as well, so I will be going with 8:15pm show times for early sitting and 10:15pm for late sitting and YTD…..after they have had dinner. Now, this may not work either and the late sitting show may still not be as full as I would like but I really want to give this a try.

I also have to work on the Punchliner Comedy Club times, music schedules, etc. but it is my intention to keep the music and events going as we do on Caribbean itinerary ships and keep the ship full of fun until late.

 It’s all about Alaska. I am, as I said, understanding that more and more and it reminds me so much of the Baltic cruises I did last year on Carnival Legend. But from what I have seen in Alaska so far, I absolutely made the right choice in coming here. It is beautiful, unspoiled, and in my opinion, so far, is that Alaska represents one of God’s finest hours and she/he must be very proud.

 But it’s certainly different than the Caribbean in some respects based on the following that we have to bear in mind when sailing the Last Frontier:

 Alaska

–     No announcements to outside decks in ports – except Skagway.

–     No music on outside decks in Tracy Arm Wilderness Area– Thursdays 10a.m. to 6p.m.

–     No announcements to outside decks in Tracy Arm Wilderness Area – Thursdays 10a.m. to 6p.m.  (Exceptions: a few mapped out areas in the Fjords where it’s OK – call Naturalist Michelle if you want to know when we are in those allowed areas for such announcements).       

Glacier Bay

–     No announcements or music as per park instructions.

–     Focus is on nature and the park – Rangers provide programs, displays, and sales from Visitor Center store on Lido Deck by pool throughout most of our time in the Bay.

 Birds

–     Gulls may mob the decks and balconies or seemingly beg for food while in Victoria as the ship docks. They will make a mess and can be aggressive.

o    Naturalist and CD will make announcements about not feeding the gulls.  

o    Ensure the food is cleared from the Lido tables.

–        Crows will come to the ship in Juneau – looking for food on any open decks (Serenity in particular) – Guests get the idea to feed them – remove food from the tables. Encourage guests not to feed crows (it’s not a good protocol for birds or environment).

–     Do not feed the birds (this can result in fines by the National Park Service) – gulls may come close to the ship when at the glaciers.

–   Good idea not to feed the birds anywhere along our route.

 Bloody hell, all those birds flying over us and crapping over the ship. In a way, it makes me kind of wish we still had trap shooting like back in the day.

 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.