DRESSING THE CAPTAIN

July 28, 2015 -

John Heald

I am going to start today’s blog by opening a huge can of “Whoop John’s Flaccid Arse” because I am going to once again and for the 708,757,877 time …… talk about elegant night again. I know this subject may bore some people and I know that the CC artist formally known as H82SEAUGO now rejuvenated as SeeBurd will enjoy sticking his tiny, miniscule sized pin in my voodoo doll again but here I go anyway. I also have to mention that this is my opinion, not Carnival Cruise Line (noticed we have now officially dropped the S so now it is just Line) and, in this case, I am speaking for me, the chubby Brit cruise director with a bent tooth and hemorrhoids the size of a baby yak. You see, on my Facebook page these past weeks, I have read lots of comments about elegant night and the changes that have been made.

So, let’s talk about it shall we? With the new system, the captain and senior officers walk around meeting lots of people and taking photos, The atmosphere can be excellent and most captains (not all, it’s fair to say) enjoy shaking hands, chatting and having photos taken with the guests. But there are some challenges as some of you have pointed out. You see, regardless of what you think about dress code, there are those who love dressing up and those who do not. It is certainly not like the old days when seeing someone not, dressed in formal attire would provide looks of shock and horror from the guests. These days, its split down the middle with some dressed like characters from a James Bond movie and some dressed as casual as French rumpy pumpy. I have read on line and spoken recently to guests during my recent cruises on Carnival Pride, Carnival Legend, Carnival Glory and Carnival Paradise who expect something different. And what is fascinating about that is the very vast majority of guests who were disappointed in new system and the way other guests were dressed were past guests who have cruised many times before. Now what they were saying is that they don’t like where we do it and how we do it.

But……….if you really examine everything, there is only one thing that has changed ……. complimentary cocktails. We still have the music, you still meet the captain, you still are invited to dress elegantly and you still have 309 different photo stations from which to have a beautiful portrait taken. All that’s missing…….are the free drinks. Everything is exactly the same. So one has to ask, is that what this all about, the free drinks? The atmosphere, the music, the place, the photos, the meet and greet with the captain is the same…… without the free drinks.
The reason I ask this is because if that is what would make people happy then a) they need to admit that and b) they think we need to go back to what we used to do or c) reconsider other alternatives. I am going to be in Miami on the August 4-15 and I will be talking to the beards and see what we can do to make this very special evening the best it can be.

Personally, I think we should also have to get the captain and senior officers back into their white formal uniform. I understand why we did this when we changed from formal to elegant but having them in blue uniform makes it harder for the guests to tell who the captain is. You see, from the back, it looks like a blue business suit which was fine when the captain was positioned at the entrance to the lounge, shaking hands, but when he is wandering, people, I think, do not realize he is the captain. And, I think the senior officers should be dressed differently to other management. The white uniforms looked great in photos and truly show that, yes.….he is the master of the vessel. And the good news is that, on our Carnival Journey cruises, the captain, chief engineer and hotel director will, on the flashback to 1987 elegant/formal night once again be adorned in those white formal jacket uniforms.

Would a free drink bring more people out on elegant night dressed in their Sunday best? Would people want to take more photos? Good questions and smarter people reading this and those who work for Carnival will have the answers and I appreciate, as always, your thoughts on this.

Meanwhile lets crack on with some Q and A……off we go

Cassandra Washington asks:
John: I don’t have an issue with purchasing water on board as we usually purchase distilled water each cruise.  I do however need to bring G2 aboard because I suffer with a couple if illnesses that require I keep my electrolytes in check.  IBS and SVT both require maintenance of electrolytes and being diabetic as well I cannot drink Gatorade.  G2 is a sugar free form of Gatorade.  Is there going to be exceptions for such required drinks?  Can there be exceptions for G2. I know I can’t be the only person who has to manage electrolytes but I really need to know before my 15 day cruise in November of this year. That will be too long to chance going without it and I will be asking for trouble.  Your help with this matter is appreciated.

John says:
Hello Cassandra Washington

Thanks for getting in touch with me. Although I’m not entirely up to speed on Gatorade/G2, I would ask you to please contact our special needs desk in Miami so that they can assist you in this area. If there’s anything else you need, please do let me know and have a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.
John

SeeBurd asks:
It appears to me and to readers of the Cruise Critic boards (still the most influential information pages in cruising) that you are often misinformed or don’t know what’s happening so you make it up as you go along. Look at the debacle with the BonVoyage liquor price which you said would not go up and then next week what do you know — it did. Then there was the “brilliant” loyalty program which was far from that and made you a laughing stock yet again, “mate.” I suggest that if you are going to continue to strut around saying you are the brand ambassador, then you should get your facts straight. If it were up to me, another member of Carnival would put your lightning back in the bottle.

John says:
Hello SeeBurd

Yep, I screwed up with the Bon Voyage thing and all, though it happened three-plus years ago now, I will once again publically apologise for that. I had asked a “beard” who told me there would be no rise and then a more senior beard decided there would be. No excuses though, it was a mistake on my part and I apologised then and will do so again now. I do my very best to pass on the information I have and will keep doing my best to help, assist and exceed the expectations of as many guests as I can both via social media and when I am on the ships. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.
John

Timothy Matthewson asks:
After 151 days with CCL, I have a pain I want to get rid of. It’s wasting paper (Fun Times). Love the tear off section but there is only one rip part. Could a second one be added to it so my wife and I can have room steward brings us an extra Fun Times and can guest services provide only the rip off section by itself ? They have the regular paper but I hate to tear off just that 1 section and have them get rid of the rest.

John says:
Hello Timothy Matthewson

I want to say a huge thank you for your loyalty and I hope there will be many more cruising days ahead for you. There is a new Fun Times coming, a tri-fold with a tear out meaning that you will have the best of both worlds. Also, as we roll out our shipboard app, the information on the Fun Times will be available free of charge on your mobile phone. I do hope that you will enjoy this and I will let you know when we will start with all of this. Please let me know if I can help further. Best wishes.
John

Kerri Spencer asks:

I am cruising for my honeymoon on October 3, 2015 on Carnival Glory. We are officially addicted to cruising! Are there any perks for those celebrating their honeymoon? We took advantage of using the wedding registry on Carnival, so hoping the family picks up on that!

John says:
Hello Kerri Spencer

Many congratulations and many thanks also for choosing Carnival for this special part of your lives. Please would you send me the cabin number a day or two before you sail on my facebook.com/johnheald page and I will see what I can do to make you smile. Wishing you both much happiness.
John

Linda Farrell asks:
John: I have posted this to you on FB and asked my Carnival cruise planner. I’d like to order bottled water in advance of my cruise, however, my question is this: is this water spring water or purified water? There is a difference. Joe, my cruise planner, called Bon Voyage and they have no idea! Thanks, John. Have a good day!

John says:
Hello Linda Farrell

The new water we will be serving is called True Essence and it is purified water. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.
John

Julie Anne Husbands asks:
John: I have a couple of questions about an upcoming cruise. My father, sister, her boyfriend, and I are cruising on the Carnival Conquest August 2. We are wondering 1) will the new internet packages be available at that time and 2) will we be on the American Table menus, or the traditional? Thanks.

John says:
Hello Julie Ann Husbands

Your cruise will feature the new Internet plans which went live this cruise, actually. The ship will serve our standard menu, not the American Table, just yet. Please let me know if you have any further questions and I wish you a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.
John

Betty asks:

Hello John: First, I want to say that I am a true Carnival fan. I have been on eight Carnival cruises and two other cruises each with a different line. Carnival is by far my most favorite and is now the only line that I will cruise. That said, there is only one concern that came up on my February 2015 cruise on the Magic out of Galveston. It appears that the toilet paper is getting thinner and coarser. Have you guys changed vendors? I am looking forward to meeting you on the Bloggers Cruise February 2016 out of Galveston! Thanks for taking the time to address questions on the Blog and Facebook.

John says:
Hello Betty

Ahhh, finally a subject that I am an expert in………..toilet paper. I have to say that I have not noticed any changes in quality but I will certainly bring this to the attention of the right people and get to the bottom of this, so to speak. I can say that the texture of the paper has to be compatible with the suction toilet system we have on the ships so as not to cause a blockage of the pipes. I will be on a ship soon and will test this out personally, as well. Thanks so much for spending so many days with us on board and I do hope we see you soon. Let me check into this.
Best wishes
John

Libby Harsdorff asks:
Hi John. My daughter is about to take part in the National Baton Twirling Contest in Beaumont, Texas, both in the solo and pairs event. In August we will be on Carnival Magic. We have four cabins booked. I would very much like to have her show her talents to the passengers at one of the shows. I am not sure what form to bring her music on. I have it on an iPod and on disc. Hope that is OK. What night will she perform? So many questions LOL. Can your message me on _________. Would love to get this all squared away quickly, Can’t wait to cruise. Thanks

John says:
Hello Libby Harsdorff

Congratulations to your daughter, you must be very proud. I will speak to the cruise director on the ship and see if there is a spot to have your daughter perform. I make no promises as there is a full schedule of professional entertainment and there may not be a place for this. But let me ask and see what we can do and someone will be in touch when you get on the ship. Please bring both copies of the music just in case there is a place for her to do this and I wish you all a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.
John

That’s all for today. Thanks to everyone for all the comments and questions. I wanted to share my schedule with you for the next few months, here it is.

August 4 Fly to Miami
August 5-15 Miami offices

I will attend meetings to arrange the Bloggers Cruises. I will record video interviews with senior beards for you all to enjoy via the blog and my Facebook page. There will be meetings with the marketing department and assist them in some exciting new projects you will all be very much a part of.

August 16 – fly to the UK
August 16 – September 9 – Blog and Facebook from home
September 9-11 – I will be in Monfalcone shooting more video of your Carnival Vista and taking you inside the ship for the very first time
September 11-19 – Blog and Facebook from home
September 20-25 Fly to Miami to attend the cruise director/entertainment director conference
September 25-October 3 – Miami office, meetings and more video shoots
October 3 – Fly to New Orleans
October 4 – Join Carnival Dream for 24 days to host the first of our Carnival Journeys voyages

That’s the schedule for now. I am also going to host a Carnival Journeys cruise in November and January and am working on finalising those and will confirm them as soon as I can. Also, when I fly to Miami at the end of next week, sadly, I will have to hire and train a new personal assistant. That’s because my previous one, the lovely Emma, has decided to leave and set some roots down back in the UK. She really did a wonderful job and I will miss her and wish her nothing but happiness.

Now some of you who may be thinking, “Why does old chubby chops need a PA?” Who does he think he is, Micky Arison or Kim Kardashian?” Well, let me answer that if I may. I am very lucky that the Carnival beards allow me to have a personal assistant and over the years this has happened, I have enjoyed the company and appreciated the hard work of Ugly Craig, Stephanie Ackley, Mel de Dios, Stephanie Erb, Calvyn Shawn Champagne-Martens, Delia Brandon and Emma Charge. Those who were with me in this position are now cruise directors or knocking on the door to become one and, outside of Emma, they have all been past crew members and are all still there doing a brilliant job.

Now there are two schools of thought about the role of PAs:…… the first being that their duties should be strictly restricted to fixing appointments, making travel arrangements, screening phone calls, doing e-mails and so on. The second being that they should assist with anything and everything, up to and including washing my underpants and buying my Mum a birthday present. I thought I’d find it difficult to palm off menial tasks on someone capable of so much more, but by the end of the first day I had a PA, phrases like “Can you do me a favor?” and “Could you hold on to that?” and “A cup of tea would be nice” were tripping off my tongue as easily as “bugger and Oh FFS.” But for me it wasn’t having someone around doing menial tasks that made the real difference. The thing that made the real difference was simply having another human around. You see, I spend a lot of time alone. Yes, there were lots of people around but for most of the time I am working on my own when not at home. When I am on the ships or staying in the Intercontinentalmarriotthyatt in Miami, I am alone.

This is something that makes one prone to taking unnecessary daytime naps, having long, unnecessary conversations with anyone you can, going to bed early, talking to yourself, loneliness and watching reruns of Game of Thrones. But having a PA is not only an antidote to the isolation, not only does it mean there’s someone around to laugh at my jokes, but, crucially, it forces me to behave sanely and not spend hours with just Netflix for company. So who will my new PA be? Many years ago, two senior beards, Roger and Brendan, gave me a chance to improve myself and told me to put down my bar tray and handed me a microphone. So this time, I have decided to do the same for a crew member………..not from the entertainment department as before but from bar or food services or another on board department. I am interviewing currently and think I have made a decision and will announce the person to you all later this week.

I feel good about doing this. Whoever I choose will have a chance to travel, see so many different ships, visit your Carnival Vista in Italy and meet all the top beards plus get to work sometimes from their home with their family close by. I was given a chance and 29 years later, here I am……it’s time then for me to give someone else their chance to move forward. I hope whoever I choose will enjoy the job and I hope he or she doesn’t read the small print of their contract too carefully and notice it says they have to trim my nose hairs and rub Preparation H on my hemorrhoids.

Bet you wish you had the job………right?

Goodnight.
Your friend,
John

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.

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