January 14, 2013 -
As you know, I do not drink and ever since I was as a young cruise director back in 1827 on the Carnival Fantasy who had enjoyed a few too many cognacs and couldn’t remember how he got through a man overboard rescue operation………..alcohol has never touched my lips.
And it seems I am not alone, certainly not this month of January, anyway, as I will explain. You see, during next week’s Bloggers Cruise it will be my birthday and I shall celebrate being 48 with my blogging family and not my family at home. So my wife, God bless her, decided to throw me a party and on Friday night, we invited a group of my friends over for drinks and a fast track ticket to the bathroom………or a curry, as it’s sometimes known. The group of friends we had invited totaled 12 in all and we were prepared to meet their drinking expectations and the table overflowed with red wines, Bacardi, vodka and other spirits. In the fridge, bottles of the number one trendy beer in the UK, something called Desperado, did battle with Peroni and enough Pinot Grigio to keep Silvio Berlusconi and his girls happy at one of their bunga bunga parties. Yep we were all set and ready to go. But there was a problem. You see, every time one of my friends arrived I would offer them a drink and would be told the same thing “Oh, no thanks, just a soft drink, maybe some sparkling water, please?” Yep, they were all avoiding alcohol like I avoid the salad bar.
OK, fair enough I thought but then as the evening carried on, I realised that not drinking made my friends miserable. It was practically self-abuse. They may as well repeatedly purposely get their gentleman’s sausage caught in their zippers over and over again. Now I understand that they should give their livers a vacation now and then and send them somewhere to relax like a Jehovah Witness summer camp but not in January when everyone here is miserable because they spent too much at Christmas and it’s cold and dark outside. If I was a drinker, then I think in January I would be pissed all the time. Not drinking is also extremely rude to poor bastards like me who have birthdays in January and have spent a small fortune on beer with stupid names and vodka made from a dull coloured water bird.
Now again, I am a nondrinker and as it has been 15 years since I did drink I am completely out of touch. But if I did drink, I would not stop in January but in the summer when it’s nice outside and everyone is happy. But hold on, bugger……….mmmm…………drinking a cold beer outside in the yard or with your mates at the pub was something I enjoyed. OK then, there’s more chance of success if you try cutting down in summer when it’s sunny. OK, autumn then. But bugger again because coming home from walking the dog and opening a nice bottle of Cabernet is warming and relaxing. OK….ummmmm…………spring? Ah, celebrating the end of winter with a nice gin and tonic was something I used to love to do. So I guess there is no time to give up, certainly not when I have bought loads of alcohol which will now remain in the Heald household un-drunk thanks to my detoxing bastard friends.
This all leads me nicely into the Cheers beverage program which is currently on 13 ships and hopefully will be added to other ships soon. The program has been a great success as many people appreciate the convenience of having their drinks paid for a flat rate and makes this program one that is for some extremely worthwhile taking part in.
Even when I was drinking I had a very low tolerance to alcohol. I remember one time when I was in Spain on holiday when I got very drunk and it got me in real trouble. I went with my mate Alan, but we were quite naive and ended up in a family hotel, so pickings, as far as young ladies were concerned were slim. We were only 19 and it was our first real “boys” vacation ever. The first day by the pool Alan was eyeing up the beautiful women when a lovely young lady came over and started talking to us. Her name was Bridgette (she was French). She was not a pretty girl but that did not matter as Alan is no oil painting and the two started getting along well. She asked Alan what he did for a living and just as he was about to answer I interrupted him. Now it was 4 pm-ish and I had been drinking cheap Spanish beer all day and I was quite honestly…….. well…………drunk. So sponsored by San Miguel beer, I told Miss Brigette that we were both vets. She did not understand, so I said in my best French accent, “We are both les animal doctors.” She now understood and seemed very impressed.
I just chuckled and got on reading my book and looking at breasts and enjoying the sun. Now, fast forward two days. Alan is getting on famously with his new French friend who it turns out is staying with her Mum and dad and younger sister. So, there we were, laying in our usual spot by the pool, when all of a sudden, I hear a very loud French shriek “Alannnnnnn, Alannnnnnnnnn.” Looking up, I see Bridgette and her young sister walking towards us holding A PUPPY! (Please read the next bit out loud using a French accent).
“Alannnnnnnnn,” says Bridgette, “We av found a petite dog and he as cut his leg, heeelp him.” Her sister, Melissa, who was only 11 or so, is crying as she holds one of the many stray dogs that inhabit Spain.
(Back to the French accent) “Alannnnnnnnnnn, please help this little thing as you are both animal doctors.” To make matters worse, the dog is looking at me as if to say, “Por Vavor Senior Fato……..helpo meo woofo……”
Alan, looks at me and says, “John will take care of him, he is the dog specialist” and then takes the dog from the very young Melissa and gives him to me. “Come on girls,” says Alan, “let John do what he has to and we will check on him later.” With that, he leads the girls off for an ice cream, leaving me and my new best friend, El Spotto, just standing there.
Now, I could have just put El Spotto on the floor and said adios but the animal lover in me (if it had been a cat it would have been a different story) said that I had to do something. I carried El Spotto to the front desk and asked if there was an animal shelter nearby. They made a call and one hour later a lady from the shelter came and took El Spotto away for medical treatment and hopefully to find a new home……..and charged me 50 pesos which was half my holiday money ………Las Bugger
When I saw Alan and his Frenchies later, I explained that I had given El Spotto medical treatment and he was now a happy little doggy. I received big smiles and Mercies from everyone and I was a hero. Alannnnnn meanwhile continued to date this French girl for the two weeks we were in Spain and that proved that not only did he not give a damn about leaving his best mate on his own ……….it also proved he had bugger all sense of smell.
That situation all came about because I had around five or six beers. I don’t think in my life that I have ever had 15 drinks in a 24-hour period. I once had a large amount of cognac at a party and ended up in a very embarrassing situation that, for the sake of my marriage, I can’t tell you about. Just watch the movie The Crying Game that will give you a clue. Oh FFS!
Time for today’s Q&A, off we go
Cesare Farace asks:
My family and I have recently sailed down to Mexico on the Carnival Inspiration. While on board my kid asked, “Why doesn’t Carnival use your CLOSED FOR CLEANING door barrier you invented?” Well, long story short, I told her that when we get back home I’ll see what I can do! John, who can I speak with regarding a product I’ve come up with? I feel Carnival can benefit from this door barrier in more ways than one. The CLOSED FOR CLEANING door barrier has integrated magnetic ends which attach directly to the restrooms metal door jambs. A simple innovative product that allows housekeeping to be present in the restrooms while keeping the patrons safe. From what we saw all of your on-board guestrooms have metal door jambs as well. The product can also be used for when the cabin stewards are cleaning and restocking the guest rooms. Please check out my website at http://www.magneticdoorbarrier.com and let me know if you see any opportunity for Carnival Cruise Lines.
Hello Cesare Farace,
I hope you and your family had a wonderful cruise and your product sounds fascinating. I have sent the details to someone with a beard who runs our housekeeping department and let him see what it is all about. I wish you much success with this and hope we see you on a cruise again very soon.
Debrah Engle asks:
I will be taking my 10th cruise in March and I have a question about the new VIFP program. From what I have read since I was close to making platinum before the program change I will be awarded platinum on this 10th cruise since I am taking it within a year of the program change. I would like to know will my platinum benefits take effect on this cruise in March or will it be the next cruise I take after my 10th that I will receive the platinum benefits? My VIFP number is
********* if you should need that to look at my cruise history.
Hello Debrah Engle,
I am very glad that you have written to me so that I can tell you that you will indeed receive your platinum card and all the benefits that go with it when you board the ship. I want to thank you for your loyalty and wish you the most wonderful cruise. Please let me know if you have any more questions.
Tom Capstow asks:
My family just got off from our cruise on the Carnival Dream and I could not believe how badly you treated us smokers. The boat and the crew made us feel like second class citizens telling us we couldn’t smoke every time we tried to light up. I smoke and my wife and 17-year-old son smoke and there was nowhere to go to enjoy a cigarette together as a family. Carnival needs to change because there are many smokers like me who will think twice before we book another trip. My son also said that the club was boring so that is another area you have to do better in before you will see us again!!!
Hello Tom Capstow,
As always I want to start by writing that I hope you had a wonderful cruise and despite your concerns that you enjoyed the service, fun and the food, etc., on your cruise aboard Carnival Dream. We have indeed become very strict when it comes to smoking but we still allow our guests to smoke, in areas both inside and outside of the ship. In fact, I was surprised to read your post because the Dream-class ships have some of the nicest smoking areas in the fleet with the port side of the Lanai being designated for this. We do realise that there are many guests who like to smoke and while we protect the majority of guests each cruise who are non-smokers from being subjected to smoke we also know we have to find areas for smokers to enjoy a well. I do hope we see you again soon and if you have any questions, please let me know.
Doug Glascox asks:
I know that you are very busy but just had to take a moment to let you know something. Every day I read your blog and watch you on FB, and I see so very many folks pestering you for stuff. Well, my wife and I are sailing on the Carnival Liberty this Saturday, and I want you to know that we don’t want a thing special. Why? Because you and Carnival have already created the best cruising experience to be found anywhere. So as we board Saturday I already know that the CD and all of the crew of the Carnival Liberty have already prepped up for a really wonderful cruise and that’s all that matters. Thanks for all that you and the folks at Carnival do for all of us. Cheers, and have a happy holiday season, you and yours.
Hello Doug Glascox,
I hate replying to posts where the guests have already sailed because it shows just how far I am behind with my questions here. I want to thank you so much for these wonderful words though and hope that your cruise on the Carnival Liberty was a special one and that you had the best of times. My apologies for the late reply and I hope you will write again before you cruise the next time.
John Simeroth asks:
Reading your latest blog, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Jessica Lynch is the godmother of the Carnival Miracle. You see, I am a retired Air Force pilot and was intimately involved in Jessica’s rescue operation back in the day. My partner and I will be sailing on the Carnival Miracle’s last R/T from New York in March (a 10-day cruise), and it will be even more special now knowing that Jessica is the godmother of the ship. Thanks for publishing the list.
Hello John Simeroth,
Yes, she was and she did a wonderful job as godmother of the Carnival Miracle. She was there that day thanks to you and others who rescued her and saved her life and I am sure this is something you are very proud of. I honour your service and I hope that you and your partner have the most wonderful time on the ship and if there is anything I can do for you please do let me know. Thank you once again.
Richard Luke asks:
Will Carnival ever build any ships like the pinnacle project or have those plans been scrapped?
Hello Richard Luke,
Ah, the Pinnacle Project. We recently ordered a 135,000-ton ship that is set to debut in 2016 and that is only ship we have on order at this moment. I don’t think our ships are going to get much bigger than the one we have in 2016 but never say never I guess.
Stephanie Craig asks:
Hey, don’t knock those high ink cartridge prices — those little dispensers of liquid gold paid for our family to cruise on the Carnival Magic in November 2011, and will allow for us to repeat the trip in June 2013. In fact, we have booked four cabins for 10 people to celebrate my parents’ 50th anniversary. My question is more bar than dining related. I was wondering if you know whether the Cheers program will be extended to the Carnival Magic by the time we sail on June 9. It would work great for our group and we’re really hoping it will be available. We are so excited for our upcoming family adventure. Thanks for everything you do.
Hello Stephanie Craig,
I guess there is always someone who has another side of the coin to represent and of course ink cartridge sales for those selling them must be a gold mine indeed. Anyway, yes, indeed, the Cheers beverage program is already on the ship and I hope it is one you will take advantage of. I wish you the most wonderful time and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.
Sandra Walczak asks:
What Carnival makes emergency announcements like they did on the Carnival Triumph on our cruise they should tell the passengers what is happening? We were woken up from a nap at 2pm one day with an announcement that made no sense to us but nothing else was said after and we were all wondering if there was an emergency and I saw some passengers wearing life jackets but nothing else was said. This is unacceptable, Carnival.
Hello Sandra Walczak,
Please don’t worry because I assure and I promise you that if there is ever an emergency that involves our guests needing to put their life jackets on or anything that the guests need to know you will be informed by announcements from the bridge by the cruise director or the captain. My guess is that this was a “Bright Star” announcement which is the emergency call for our medical team to respond instantly because a guest needs urgent medical care and we do not inform our guests of their condition for obvious reasons. I hope this helps you and calms any fears you may have. Your safety is our top priority and we will always make sure that guests are looked after and kept fully informed. I do hope you had a great time and that we will see you again.
A lot of people sail out of Baltimore on the Carnival Pride, including myself, in January. I’m wondering why the Carnival Pride does not offer “Faster to the Fun” and the Cheers bar program. I would love to pay for both and I feel a lot of other people would also. I have asthma and think the “Faster to the Fun” program would benefit me because my room would be ready earlier and I could go there do my nebulizer and get back out on deck for the sail away hoopla. I’m not a big drinker but the Cheers program would help me budget my money. Hopefully, both of these excitng programs will be offered by my sailing date. Thanks and have a great day!!!
You will be glad to know that the Cheers program is indeed on the Carnival Pride and I am sure in the weeks ahead you will see the Faster to the Fun program arrive there, as well. I hope you have seen this before you cruise and I wish you the most wonderful time.
Sharon Bowie asks:
Cheers! Desi was our maitre d’ on the Spirit trans-Pacific sailing. Someone on FB posted she was retiring. Is this so? She was talking about doing the Carnival Legend next year in Europe, etc. John, she is THE BEST!!!! See you on the Carnival Legend.
I have not heard that Desi is retiring and I will be writing to her today and finding our more. I know just how wonderful she is and I was hoping that she would be with me in Europe on Carnival Legend. Let me see what is happening and I will let you know.
Best wishes and see you soon.
And that’s all for today except to say thank you for all your comments and questions.
So here I am on the Carnival Breeze where I am working with the team here to organize the Bloggers Cruise. Along with Calvyn, I am preparing the schedule of events and activities and working with the housekeeping manager to make sure the two gifts we have organized are delivered to the right cabins. This is a six-day cruise and as I sit here writing to you in the conference room in my underpants, I can tell you that the mood on the ship is brilliant and everyone is doing the “wow” thing as they walk around. I have met lots of people who read this blog and myFacebook page and it is great to listen to their thoughts and experiences.
It is also great to see the crew again and many were with me during the European season and have had their well-deserved vacation and have returned to the Carnival Breeze. It is always good to see familiar faces. However, there are some crew who are here for the first time and who I have not met before but who have recognized me from videos, etc., which they watch during their training sessions and whatnot. So last night I was walking the ship with Calvyn when a bar waiter came up to me and shook my hand and I am sure had we not been in the Ocean Plaza, she would have given me a huge hug. She was really emotional and, for the life of me, I had no idea why. She obviously realised that I had no idea who she was so she reminded me…… and it all came flooding back.
It was during my brief time as cruise director on the Carnival Valor several years ago and something I wrote about back then as well. So with apologies to those who may have seen this back in 2008 I wanted to share the story of why this young lady was so pleased to see me again.
I remember I was in the then-cigar bar. It was elegant night or may have been formal night still as I can’t remember when we changed the name. Anyway, I was with my then assistant Stephanie and another staff member having a cigar (yes, I admit, I do miss the cigar bar). It was all very nice, we were chatting about something and relaxing in between the two captain’s parties. I had my Diet Coke and my Monte Cristo. The only thing spoiling this ambience was the loud and obviously drunken conversation of two males in their mid-thirties a few feet away. They were both having a conversation as though instead of being just three feet apart they were on opposite ends of the ship. One man had a mullet and another had long greasy hair that you could have cooked bacon on. Anyway, there I was trying to have a conversation when I heard the conversation grow louder behind me and this is word for word what was said between one guest and one the lovely bar waitresses I had just had a reunion here on the Carnival Breeze with:
GUEST…………………Are you from Thailand?
GUEST…………………Will you have sex with me?
No reply – waitress walks away
GUEST GRABS HER ARM…………….and says “I will pay you to have sex with me.”
Then he laughs and tries to give her his Sail & Sign card saying “Do you take this or would you prefer cash?” The waitress breaks free and quickly walks away.
The three of us were totally shocked and my first instinct was to go over to the guest, introduce myself and then use my cigar cutter on his gentleman’s sausage…….just one snip ………but my first thought was for the young lady who had been abused in such away. I walked over to the bar pantry where she had run to and, sure enough, she was there sobbing her heart out. I gently asked her to confirm what I had heard and she seemed to be too scared to make a complaint, she didn’t want to get him or herself in trouble. But I was not going to let this greasy-haired troglodyte get away with this and after a few moments of reassurance, she did indeed confirm that my hearing was 100% perfect. So then I had a choice to make……cigar cutter and a right hook or call security, I called security.
A few minutes later the assistant chief security arrived along with one security guard and we convoyed over to where Mr. Dog Breath was sitting. I introduced myself and explained what I had heard and that the chief security and staff captain would now need to talk to him. He stood up on and tried to square off at me but being big has its uses. OK, I may not be built for speed but I think he knew that between me and the two ex-Indian military security personnel, he was never going to win that fight. And so, he started to say it was only a joke and that he didn’t mean it and ….I told him to be quiet and listen. I remember saying, “No sir, you gave up your rights when you abused one of our staff. Right now you have the same rights as something that floats on its back at the bottom of a pond”……that sentence was in the security report, by the way, and I am quite proud of it
And so, the guest was led away followed by his mate “mullet man” who was uttering the words “lawsuit” and then turned to me and said “I am a U.S. Citizen and you are the alien here” ……… alien……….I know I’m ugly……….but alien?!………..I was going to tell him he should probably spend his money having a haircut rather than hiring a lawyer but I let it go.
So, the guest was warned and told that his bar signing card would be monitored and that any further reports of any bad behavior would result in him being removed from the ship and given a tour of the propellers……..OK…..not the propellers bit but he was told that the ship’s command would remove him in the port of call and report him to the authorities ashore.
And….that was that. The bar waitress was given some time off and offered counseling and we all got on with our busy lives…..until 2 pm two days later while the ship was docked in St. Thomas.
I was busy blogging or doing something at the computer when my phone rang. It was the staff captain (second in command) who asked me to pop over to his office. Now, my first thought here was that one member of my department had been caught doing something naughty but I wasn’t prepared for what followed. When I arrived, the staff captain looked troubled and I saw that he had been joined by the chief security officer…….something was not right…………who had done what? The conversation went like this and I will try and type with an Italian accent
STAFF CAPTAIN……..eeee……….Johnny………..you zee…….we have a sexual arrasmenta against youa John
ME: Bollocks Staff Captain
STAFF CAPTAIN: Nooo, is noa bollacks , I ama nota talking shita
OK, you get the drift. I couldn’t believe it……..sexual harassment …… me ……. with whom? ……… when?………had someone made a complaint about me from years ago?……. had Sally Poole called to say that I had tied a mirror to my shoe to look up her skirt when I was 12?
Sexual harassment …….me………no way……..I was too tired……..
“Who?” I asked……..which crewmember is it?……….what did I say?……….what did I do?
The staff captain then made it even more of a concern when he told me that the complaint had come from a guest.
“Bloody hell,” I thought………and my mind raced through the last few days and the spoon game and the lady whose blouse lifted up when she pulled the string too hard and the lady I had hugged at the cocktail party and……..who the hell was it?
The staff captain told me then the lady’s name…….and then showed me her A-PASS security photo……it was a lady in her forties whom I had never seen before but according to the staff captain, it had been alleged that I had been seen trying to force her into her cabin for some rumpy pumpy.
I had nothing to say……..I just stood there……my stomach churning. Then, the staff captain said, “Someone had phoned the Miami office and asked for the security department and had said that you were harassing a woman.” And then……….and without warning…..I suddenly became Columbo with a huge dollop of Inspector Morse. It was him…….Greasy Head……….the guy that I had caught asking the waitress for ……..well……..you know.
So, the investigation began both on board and by the head office in Miami led by my old friend and ex-New York state trooper……..well…….I can’t write his name but I have always called him Mr. Canoli…………because he is Italian, of course. Anyway, an hour later I was called back and sure enough I was right. The guest who apparently I had begged to have rumpy pumpy with knew nothing about this and even said that she had cruised with me before and thought I was very funny, etc.
Mr. Canoli had discovered the cell phone used to phone in the complaint did indeed belong to the passenger who had himself sexually harassed the bar waitress……..and this was his pathetic attempt at revenge. I had been right……and after the staff captain had apologized and I had called Mr. Canoli to say thanks I turned to leave the office…….and stopping at the door entrance, I turned……….and using my best Columbo impression, I said, ”Ah, just one more thing.” So, the guest was immediately disembarked under guard and his details handed to the local authorities where I truly hope he was given a very hard time by US Customs and he got to experience the touch and feel of latex.
I still cannot believe this happened……and, of course, I then had the embarrassment of having to face this lovely lady and her husband and apologize for the terrible questions she had to answer ……..I spoiled them as much as I could for the remainder of the voyage. This event also highlighted our shoreside security and surveillance department who never get any thanks or praise……….until now……..thanks, guys.
That’s the story and yesterday was the first time I have seen this young lady since all this happened. She has now been with Carnival for seven years and loves her job. She wanted to thank me for looking after her during that difficult time which she did not need to do. She should not have been spoken to like that and I am glad I was there to help and support her. She is part of what continues to be the best part of a Carnival cruise, the crew. They remain the heartbeat and certainly they never deserve to be spoken to as she was. I am so thrilled that she is still with us, still serving our guests and doing so with a smile that would lighten up the darkest room.
And as for Mr. Greasy……..well…….I have a feeling that he is probably on some predator list somewhere. It was some years ago and maybe he has been arrested and is in jail sharing a cell with a 350-pound man called Billy Bob who will play some banjo music while making him his love muffin.
I can’t help but think though that he is here and on my Facebook page posting under a false name. Mmmmmmmm…………..I wonder?