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Archive for June, 2012

Coffee talk with John Heald

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 25 - 2012

This morning on Carnival Breeze I sat down with John Heald, Carnival’s Senior Cruise Director, Brand Ambassador, and Blogger extraordinaire to discuss a variety of topics. Find out what John likes best about the Carnival Breeze, what the new Carnival Cruise Lines is all about, new cruise line safety measures, his future as a cruise director with the company, and what he really thinks of the French and Cruise Critic. His answers will make you laugh and just might surprise you. There are also some new exciting news items in this interview that you won’t read about anywhere else.

www.expertcruiser.com: What do you think about all the Fun Ship 2.0 improvements?

John Heald: I love it.  I think Guy’s Burger is the best thing to hit the Lido Deck since we had the Playboy charter in 1998. It’s a yabba-dabba-doo moment. You want to slide down your own pet dinosaur and grab that lump of meat like they do.  I honestly absolutely love it. I’ve never understood those burger snobs and steak snobs and I never thought I’d be one of those.  I am now because I compare every burger to Guy’s. It’s a very, very good burger.  I think having the two new themed bars on Lido Deck are great and the crew that work there take great pride and ownership in those new areas. Thrill Theater is fantastic. Bonsai Sushi has been a huge success.  I didn’t think it would be as popular as it is. While I know a good burger when I eat it sushi is a big mystery to me. I don’t understand the whole raw fish thing, but it’s been a big hit onboard. The greatest bargain onboard is La Cucina del Capitano for $12 all that food you get, it’s fantastic.

So yeah, I think 2.0 is a great addition. But what I really love about it it’s not just about the new ships but is going on the older ships.  It’s going on the Ecstasy next month, then the Conquest and then the Glory.  The reinvestment in the fleet is very important. There are some cruise lines that market their newer ships only. We’ve always done well in not saying it’s all about one ship or two ships.

www.expertcruiser.com: What do you think about the new décor on Breeze?

John Heald: Even with all the big Fun Ship 2.0 changes the heartbeat of Carnival is still there even though the walls are different color and calmer. The décor for me makes the ship feel 30,000 tons lighter. It’s the same size as the Magic and the Dream, but it feels lighter and crisper. It’s resort.  My favorite parts of the ship are the guest corridors and the colors of the cabins. I just love them there’s just something inviting coming back to the cabin.

This reminds me a lot of AIDA ships as the architects that have done Breeze have been doing those ships for years. Amazing ships. Best cruise ships most people will never sail on.

www.expertcruiser.com: The beards are branding everything on the ship. Are they going to brand John Heald?

John Heald: They’re going to work in partnership with JC Penney or Big Bubbas clothing store.  I am not sure which one (laughs).  No, they aren’t going to brand John Heald.  The branding thing has really changed us. It’s very simple. Guy Fieri is mass market.

You look at some of the other type of things that we are doing with RedFrog Pub. It’s worked fantastic. We have this beer you’ve seen called ‘Thirsty Frog Red’. I’ll give you a little exclusive ‘thingy’ that I haven’t told anyone else. We are giving serious consideration as of this week to bottling and selling ‘Thirsty Frog Red’. We are working with our friends with AIDA because they have a microbrewery onboard.

That’s our own brand. The other known ships have Starbucks and Johnny Rockets and some of them are very good.  I hear on NCL for example they have Blue Man Group and I hear they are fantastic. But we are doing our own thing. We’ve come a long way. As Gerry said we’ve only just begun. Breeze is the first ship with the beards signature all over it. Even Magic by the time Gerry, Mark, Reuben, and the other people came in those ships were already designed, done and dusted when they came in. This is the first ship which is 100 percent the new generation of Carnival.

www.expertcruiser.com: It’s been a tough year for the cruise industry after the Concordia disaster.  What’s changed?

John Heald: It’s been a bad year. The market is picking up again now. Concordia is still on everyone’s mind.  Sadly I’ve had a lot of people ask me are we going to see the Concordia. There is that morbid tourism.  It (Concordia accident) suddenly gave us all a kick in the pants.

The crew on this ship gets off in a completely different way than the passengers. They use a MES (Marine Escape System) system. There are six of them in the back of the ship on Deck 4 they are chutes rather than those round life rafts that you won’t see onboard here anymore. We launch these long sock-like chutes much like those on an airplane that the crew slides down into an inflatable life raft at the bottom. The crew gets off much quicker and in a much more organized way. So its bang, bang, bang you’re off. The ferry’s and freighters have them. Three hundred of the crew are in the life boats with the passengers and the majority of the crew use the MES system.  I wonder if the days of lifeboats are numbered and whether the guests will use the MES system.

I learned something in the Splendor fire you have to kill the guests with information. Even with that ALPHA TEAM incident from the other day you have to give them information.

www.expertcruiser.com: Your blog is a huge success what’s the future of the blog?

John Heald: As I’ve made pretty clear in the blog I wrote the other day and after a long conversation with Gerry this will be my last new ship launch.  I am not going to do anymore new ships.  I can’t do a new ship and do this brand ambassador stuff at the same time anymore. It’s too much. One of it suffers and that’s not fair on either.  I don’t want the guests to suffer and I don’t want the blog to suffer either. So, at some point in the months ahead they are going to have to decide which one they want me to do. Also, I’ve been at sea for 26-years so there’s a time now where I don’t want to do the long contracts anymore. I want to do shorter ones maybe a month at sea and work from home for a little bit.

www.expertcruiser.com: There’s Batman and Robin; Laurel and Hardy; Abbott and Costello. What’s with you and Calvin are you guys the new dynamic duo?

John Heald: What’s with me and Calvin. Well, I’ve never shared a Morning Show with anybody. Calvin is probably one of the most naturally funny men I’ve ever met.  It’s hard for you to put this in words without them (readers) seeing it. There is a chemistry and I get to be the straight man (pardon the pun). He’s become a bit of an icon.  He’s a great joy to work with and the Morning Shows have taken on a bit of a life of their own. We’re going to continue our duo and he’ll travel with me next year if I do time on the ships next year.

www.expertcruiser.com: Okay John, we’re going to do some word association.  Answer with just one word.

www.expertcruiser.com: Gerry Cahill

John Heald: RedFrog Pub


John Heald: Divorce

www.expertcruiser.com: The French

John Heald: Bastards

www.expertcruiser.com: Rumpy Pumpy

John Heald: In the past

www.expertcruiser.com: Cruise Critic

John Heald: I refer you to my answer I gave for The French (“Bastards”)

Thank you John Heald!

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

Have questions please post a note below on www.expertcruiser.com or on Twitter.

Carnival Breeze smoke incident

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 20 - 2012

At approximately 2:30 PM (8:30 AM EST) I made a Twitter post about a “Code ALPHA” alert onboard the Carnival Breeze. Code ALPHA is the ship crew term for fire onboard. At that time a fire team was dispatched to deal with a small smoke issue in the crew area. Carnival just released a statement to clarify the incident. I can assure you that at no time were there indications of any major problems and the crew did a great job dealing with the smoke issue and keeping passengers informed. Here is Carnival’s statement on the incident:

” A fan belt inside an AC unit in a crew area overheated and started generating smoke. There was not an actual fire and no smoke entered guest areas. The ship’s crew responded immediately and all is well.”

So, there you have it. The crew did exactly as they train to do.

Have questions please post a note below on www.expertcruiser.com or on Twitter.

© www.expertcruiser.comYour online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

Filled Under Blog, Tripblog, Twitter, What's New?

Carnival Breeze fun day at sea

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 20 - 2012

It’s a much needed sea day after four hectic days in port (Marseille, Livorno, Civitavecchia, Salerno) time to enjoy some old and new ‘Fun Ship’ festivities on the new Carnival Breeze.

First the new. This morning I had the opportunity to check out the new 24-seat Thrill Theater onboard. What a neat concept this is. There are four movies/experiences to choose from: Planet Earth Shallow Seas; Sponge Bob, Mumble’s Wild Ride; Bamboo Express. The cost is $8 per movie or you can buy a pass for $15 for unlimited movies throughout the cruise. Needless to say the unlimited package is the way to go. Upon entering guests are given special 3-D glasses that work with the high-definition projection system. There are additional fun elements such as squirting water and bubbles, ‘thingys’ that tickle legs, air blowing on your neck, and a creepy ‘finger’ that pokes you in your seat. Seats also shift back and forth, move from side to side and also vibrate, creating an exciting and exhilarating experience. It’s a lot of fun and you will leave a bit wet.

comedybrunchbreezeFrom one laugh it was on to another as I checked out the new Punchliner Comedy Brunch in the Sapphire Dining Room. The brunch is only offered on sea days from 10-1 and is worth going to not just for laughs, but for a really good brunch menu. Each hour the comedians do a 10-minute routine while you eat. It’s definitely a belly of laughs!

hairychestbreezeIn the afternoon it was time for some old ‘Fun Ship’ entertainment — the infamous Carnival “Hairy Chest Contest”. It came down to two wild and crazy guys one from New Jersey the other from New Zealand. It’s hard to describe the antics these two went through. Suffice it to say it was insane and the dude from NJ ended up taking home the. Lots of laughs and one heck of a conga line followed the festivities.

Carnival certainly does live up to its “Fun Ship” reputation. There’s a lot more onboard so stay tuned for more live blogs from Carnival Breeze.

© www.expertcruiser.comYour online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

Filled Under Blog, Tripblog, Twitter, What's New?

Silversea Cruises acquires Galapagos Expedition Ship

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 18 - 2012

The Silversea Group announced today that it has purchased Canodros S.A., the premier Ecuadorian tourism company that operates in the Galapagos Islands, and their upmarket expedition ship, Galapagos Explorer II. 
Silversea plans to add Galapagos Explorer II to its ultra-luxury fleet of six ships next year, after the all-suite, 100-guest vessel undergoes a major refurbishment in September 2013 and is given a new name, steps that will ensure consistency with the standards of the Silversea fleet.
Until that time, Galapagos Explorer II will continue on its planned schedule of cruises and will continue to be operated by Canodros, which is based in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Canodros will also continue handling reservations for Galapagos Explorer II, as well as sales and marketing through its established network of travel companies and tour operators.
The acquisition will enable the award-winning cruise company chaired by Manfredi Lefebvre to expand the Silversea Expeditions brand. Its existing expedition ship, Silver Explorer, is regularly deployed in the polar regions, and the addition of a second vessel, offering year-round unique luxury expedition cruises in the Galapagos archipelago, means Silversea will have the opportunity to offer the adventure traveler a broader portfolio of itineraries, encompassing some of the world’s most desired and least explored regions.
The 4077-ton Galapagos Explorer II offers the stylish elegance of a mega-yacht, attentive onboard service and an enriching naturalist education program. All of its 50 spacious suites feature ocean views and 24 include private balconies. Public spaces include a restaurant, piano bar, library and Internet station, main lounge, outdoor bar, two outdoor whirlpools, and a marine observation deck.
Guests sailing aboard Galapagos Explorer II will continue to enjoy the same exciting itineraries, luxury accommodations, shipboard amenities, informative lectures and sustainable tourism for which Canodros is known.
Potential guests and travel agents interested in booking a Galapagos Explorer II voyage should visit www.galapagosexplorer.com for more information.
Guests currently booked on Galapagos Explorer II, and travel agents or tour operators with clients booked on the ship, should continue to liaise through their normal channels with Canodros for any needed assistance with their reservation.  
In the coming months, Silversea will announce more details concerning plans for the ship after it is renovated and renamed.
© www.expertcruiser.comYour online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

Filled Under Blog, News, Twitter, What's New?

A fresh Breeze transforms Carnival

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 16 - 2012

When Carnival Cruise Lines unveiled Fun Ship 2.0 it was the beginning of a huge transformation for the fleet and the perception of the cruise line itself. Fun Ship 2.0 builds on the popular features launched on Carnival Magic in 2011 from the massive waterpark to new partnerships in dining and entertainment. Since the launch of Magic, Carnival has announced breakthrough partnerships with some of today’s biggest talents and has created its own new branded experiences and onboard destinations.

BreezePlaza3Carnival Breeze is the first ship to feature all of the new entertainment offerings that are part of the Fun Ship 2.0 enhancements so let’s take a look at what’s new.

Easy on the eyes

BreezeStateroom5Long known for its over-the-top interior decor by resident architect Joseph Farcus, Carnival has recently been toning down its signature glitzy look with a more contemporary, elegant style. From the moment you step onboard it’s clear Breeze isn’t a neon shrine of past Carnival ships. BreezeHallwaysThe ship offers a distinctive island-inspired design theme offering a dramatic combination of bright colors and soothing pastel hues, with iconic images of palm trees and other tropical elements adorning hallway corridors. Contemporary furnishings and light fixtures enhance the stylish atmosphere.

High-tech Entertainment

Breeze offers Carnival’s first Thrill Theater, with interactive special effects that make viewers feel as if they are part of the featured movie. The theater combines a high-definition projection system with elements such as squirting water and bubbles, and original special effects that tickle guests’ legs, blow air on their necks and poke them in their seats. Seats within the theater shift back and forth, move from side to side and also vibrate, creating an exciting and exhilarating experience. Guests receive special glasses that deliver a truly immersive movie-going experience.

Breeze is also the first ship to offer Hasbro, The Game Show, a new family-oriented entertainment option that features larger-than-life adaptations of the brand’s iconic games and activities. Six main games are offered: SORRY! SLIDERS, which involves a giant shuffleboard court; SIMON FLASH, where two teams of four guests wear giant light-up color boxes and must shuffle themselves quickly to repeat a color sequence; YAHTZEE BOWLING, with a giant ball and larger-than-life-sized bowling pins; OPERATION SAM DUNK, which is set up like a skee-ball board where contestants try to get the balls into different slots on the “patient’s” body, and CONNECT 4 BASKETBALL, which uses a basketball setup rather than the traditional checkers to play.

BreezeTheaterPlaylist Productions debuts on Breeze offering high-tech production shows that combine captivating live performances with LED staging and special effects to set a new standard in seagoing entertainment. Four exhilarating revues are currently offered – “Divas,” “Latin Nights,” “Motor City,” and “The Brits!” – each featuring widely popular and memorable music encompassing a variety of styles, genres and eras.

New Cuisine

BreezeBonsaiSushiTwo new dining options debut on Breeze. Carnival’s first full-service sushi restaurant, Bonsai Sushi offers a wide variety of Asian-inspired delicacies with a contemporary decor featuring artwork by world-renowned graffiti artist Erni Vales, colorful koi kites flown during impromptu celebrations, and, of course, several Bonsai trees. Located along Promenade Deck, Bonsai Sushi includes a number of varieties of sushi, sashimi, and rolls along with bento boxes and the venue’s own interpretation of a sushi boat – in this case, a sushi “ship” – with prices ranging from $1 for appetizer-sized portions to $15 for a sushi ship for two.

Also, Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ is reminiscent of a backyard barbecue. This complimentary open-air dining venue located on Promenade Deck offers a mouth-watering array of grilled favorites, including barbecued chicken breast, kielbasa, Italian sausage, and Fat Jimmy’s signature item, pulled pork sandwiches, along with traditional sides like baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw and mini-corn muffins.

There’s a lot more onboard so stay tuned for more live blogs from Carnival Breeze.

© www.expertcruiser.comYour online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

Live ‘Tweets’ and blog posts from Carnival Breeze

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 14 - 2012

Carnival Breeze is Carnival’s newest ‘Fun Ship’. Follow ExpertCruiser onboard from June 15-27 with first-hand live ‘tweets’ and blog posts on what it is like onboard this amazing ship. Also, we’ll be talking about some amazing ports-of-call from Barcelona to Venice. Have questions? Just ‘tweet’ @ExpertCruiser on Twitter or post on www.expertcruiser.com.
Reported by Anita Dunham-Potter (editor@www.expertcruiser.com)

Filled Under Blog, gallery, Twitter, What's New?