June 3, 2014 -
My wife is amazing. She runs the house, takes care of my five-year-old daughter and my huge mailman-eating dog, Breeze. She does not have me in her life to help her with any of that because I am sitting here on the Carnival Miracle, in Seattle, wearing only my underpants, writing to you. Yep, she does a terrific job and some may ask how she manages without a man around the house and the answer is simply that, apart from providing a salary, love for my daughter, a walk for my dog and, if it’s November 14, three minutes of rumpy pumpy for Heidi. There is no difference because when it comes to anything technical, DIY or repair and maintenance, I am a useless sod whose multitasking skills only involve being able to pee in the shower. This past week our heating boiler thingy stopped working and, although Heidi tried her best to fix it herself, she decided she needed help so she called my best friend, Alan, my best mate.
Friendship for me is best described when you see or say something funny and it is not truly funny until you have shared it with that person. By myself, it’s mildly amusing but with Alan, it is a laughing fit. I have known him for 20 years and he really is just a stand-up guy and has faced some pretty serious adversity in such a brilliantly positive way. It is often said by wife: “Why can’t you be more like Alan?” By that, she doesn’t mean I start listening to Cher………..nope, she means why can’t you be more like Alan around the house? You see, to Heidi, he might as well wear a cape and tights……..maybe down his favourite pub, The Cliff, he may just do ….but Heidi thinks he is super sodding man. Alan can apparently wallpaper the living room, put new tiles down in the bathroom, put up a shelf and defuse a nuclear bomb all before lunch. “Why can’t you be more like that?” moaned my wife as she told me on the phone how he had fixed the boiler and, as she said that, I imagined various different ways to murder him. To my wife, his wife and apparently legions of other women, Alan is “the man” whose tool bag is “always ready to help.”
Me…….I think he’s bloody weird. I mean……he is fanatical about the workings of everything. For fun, he will take a lawnmower engine to pieces and, for relaxation, he will take a walk down to Leigh Tip, a landfill where we live, just to see if anyone has thrown anything “useful” away. At night, he takes any new tool he has purchased to bed so he can, “look at it.” Yep he is a fanatic and anyone who does not have his abilities is looked upon as being a lesser mortal ….. someone who is not a real man……..someone who is used for reproduction only.
Alan draws outlines of all his tools on the wall so he can see immediately when one is missing. Meanwhile, I am confused by which way a battery goes in anything. Alan is organised and enjoys watching This Old House and reads Practical Woodworking and Leigh Tip Weekly. Meanwhile, I watch Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, read “Latvian Big Jugs” magazine and couldn’t give a crap about the inner workings of something that cuts bloody grass.
I drive him nuts because I don’t read instruction manuals and because my brain doesn’t compute how to get anything to work. I remember once how he watched me trying to hook a bit of bait to the end of a fishing line. Eventually he could take no more, snatched the tangled line from me and did the job for me. He also put himself through college at age 40 getting himself a degree in applied mathematics.
I spent years at school trying to understand math. My teacher’s name was Mr. Hansen. His classes were supposed to last an hour but because he was the most boring man in the world and spoke in monotones that turned his class into sloths and lasted three days. He did his best to teach me long division and multiplication but I never understood a word. I always hoped that I would and one day I would wake up to discover that I did……but I don’t ……. but it doesn’t matter because now if I need to divide one number by another I use the calculator on my computer.
It’s the same story if I go into Alan’s workshop. Heidi told me to go and watch him once so I could pick up some tips. Why? Why would I need to learn how to use a drill? If I need something drilled I will telephone for a driller man or whatever they are called. And besides, Alan’s saws and drills look bloody dangerous, as well. So asking a big fat brainless lump like me to learn how to use a drill is like asking me a nun to tell you about lap dancing.
Yep, I am useless. I can’t work a coffee machine. I don’t understand how to open the main curtain in the Carnival Miracle’s Phantom Theatre. Plumbing is witchcraft. The dishwasher is a vindictive bastard that wants to kill me. Yep, Alan is boring and methodical to the point where you want to use his drill on his dangly bits. But we need people like him who can weld and repair and fix and mend, in the same way as we need people like me who can….. er…….. ummmmm……… er ……. ummmmm……oh, bugger. Anyway, the main point of this piece of today’s blog is to salute Alan just a little bit for the help he provides although I am was a bit suspicious when Heidi told me that Alan always had the right tool for the job.
The main purpose was to say that there are times when I sit here and moan and complain about some of the slings and arrows that are flung at me on social media and as a cruise director. But rarely do I sit here and say thank you to my wife, Heidi, who manages to run our house, manage the finances and bills, raise my beautiful daughter and yet unlike me, never ever complains. Thanks Heidi, I would be bugger all without you.
Time for today’s Q and A……..let’s go:
Greg Hinkel asks:
My wife loves your blog and I enjoy hearing her laugh as she reads it. We want to cruise Alaska and were wondering how long you will be the CD for Alaska? Don’t know if we can make it this year due to her having surgery. Thanks.
That is a great way to start the Q and A and I hope this reply finds your wife doing well and I wish her health and happy times ahead. I will be here for the season and it would be great to see you both here too. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.
Kennedy Ehrick asks:
I read that you said that Carnival is looking at the loyalty program again. I want you to pass these suggestions to the suits.
– Reserved seating at shows and definitely in comedy club
– Free or discounted internet
– Separate gangplank for returning back to the ship. The lines on our last cruise in Cozumel were intolerable having to stand in the sun with non-platinum passengers made no sense
– Choice of VIP gift
– Buy 1 get 1 free at the steak house or at least 50% off
– Priority to be at Captains Table
I think I speak for all the hundreds of platinum VIP passengers that these would make your loyalty program at least comparable with other lines.
Hello Kennedy Ehrick
Thank you, first of all, for your loyalty and long may that continue. The beards are looking at the loyalty program as we reach its two-year anniversary and, though I cannot say for absolute certain I am pretty sure we aren’t in a position to add the suggestions above. I should also mention that while I cannot tell you the exact amount of Platinum guests it is thousands, not hundreds as you mentioned. This is why some of your requests are operationally not possible. I can tell you that I will pass them to the beards, regardless, and I will let you know as soon as I can if and when any changes to the program are made. Thank you again for your loyalty and I hope we see you soon. Best wishes.
Johnathan K asks:
What an awesome time we are had on the Carnival Miracle with you, John. Everywhere we went we heard your name being spoken of and how funny and charming you were. It is great to see that you are the same on the blog and in real life LOL. Please, John, our cabin steward, Thavorn, was amazing. He knew that my wife had sleep apnea and each night we got back to the room he had gotten it out of the container and had it ready. One day, even one of the towel animals was wearing it. He was so kind and sincere that he made us feel like we were king and queen. We are going to book Miracle again for when she is in California as we are from Anaheim. Thank you, John, we loved every minute!
Hello Jonathan K
Thank you for this uplifting review and I will make sure it is passed to Thavorn via his manager and he will be so proud, I am sure. Thank you again and I do hope we see you very soon. Best wishes.
Justin Ward asks:
Hi John: My name is Justin Ward. I’m just writing to tell you that I think you are absolutely hilarious. I love the blog & Facebook posts. It makes my day. So to compliment Carnival a bit we have been on 12 cruises in the past two years. This is a true testament of how awesome Carnival cruises are. We just got off our first casino premier cruise on the Carnival Sunshine. You all did an amazing job with Sunshine. We are already booked on another cruise on Sunshine for October. Have a couple questions for you… rapid fire as you would say… How did you become so funny? Two, Are we casino premier members for a period of time or was the offer just for one cruise? Carlos and Zenelly were awesome casino hosts by the way. Third, I have a soy allergy and every time we go on a cruise we have to make special arrangements with the maître d’ when we get on the ship. Is there a way we can do it in advance or at least one time for all days on the ship? Thank you for everything that you and all of the Carnival crew do to make our vacations extra special. I also have to give a special shout out to my personal vacation planner, Torry Lunn. He is awesome, amazing and spectacular. John, please make sure to let the beards know about him. Cheers.
Hello Justin Ward
Thank you for those very humbling words and knowing that my silliness makes people laugh feels wonderful. I am so glad to see that you had fun on the Carnival Sunshine and so much so that you will be back again soon. I get my sense of humour from my Mum and she, like me, always looks for the fun in life. I am very lucky that I had (have) such great parents. Please contact me four days before the cruise on my Facebook page and let me know about your dining request and I will, for sure, do my very best to help you. As far as I know you are premier casino members for life and just to make sure I have asked someone from Ocean Players club to contact you. If there is anything else I can do, please do ask and I will be here to help. Have a brilliant time. Best wishes.
Leonard Tomes asks:
We have heard horror stories about kids running riot on your ships so, as we detest children and certainly do not want to spend our vacation time with them, why does Carnival not have a ship for adults only as there are going to be millions like us who want this!
Hello Leonard Tomes
Thank you for writing and, using the words “running riot,” really is not true. There are times during school holidays when we do have lots of families sailing because we are proudly a family cruise line. During these times, there will be incidents when children behave like …… well …… children. There are no plans to have an adults-only ship given our position as the world’s number one cruise line for families. Perhaps you can sail with us during school time as I think you would find that a wonderful experience. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.
Nick Buchko asks:
Hi John. Keep up the great work. Just wanted to let you know that we sailed with Josh (Big Sexy) on the Carnival Pride on May 11 and he did an incredible job as the cruise director. We first sailed with Josh on the Carnival Miracle out of NY in 2007 when he was an assistant CD. We knew back then that he would make a great CD. One night as we were sitting outside the casino after midnight, Josh happened to walk by, saw us sitting there having a drink and, on his own, stopped and spent quite some time talking to us about his career, our prior sailing with him, etc. It was great that he took to time to talk to us when I’m sure that at this time of the day he was
exhausted. He was a real pleasure to talk to. In our 19 cruises, that was the first time that we had this experience with any CD. The following day, his Q&A session was also great. We just wanted to acknowledge what a great job he did and let you know what a tribute he is to the Carnival organization. We were also privileged to have Calvin on board as Assistant CD for
that cruise. We sailed with you and Calvyn during the bloggers cruise in January 2013. It was great to get pics with both of you and we had a marvelous time. Just wanted to let you know. Finally. We just wanted to extend a thanks to all the personnel on the Pride. It was our first cruise on the Pride and it was a great sailing. She is staffed with some great personnel.
Nick and Nancy Buchko
Hello Nick and Nancy Butchko
What a wonderful post and I will make sure that Josh gets to see this. He is indeed an asset and I am sure he will be rejuvenated to read this. As for Calvyn, well he is simply incomparable. Thanks again for writing and I hope we see you both again very soon. Best wishes.
Robert Warris asks:
Heald – get rid of the chocolates you put on the pillow. Have you ACTUALLY tried one, Heald? Go try one now and tell me that it doesn’t taste of paste and cardboard.
Hello Robert Warris
Being diabetic, chocolate of any kind is one avenue of pleasure that has been closed for me. I am sure the chocolates are good, although I have read a few comments that some prefer the past recipe we had. I will pass this on to the right people. Best wishes.
Harold Larkin asks:
At this moment my wife and I are enjoying the Carnival Pride. I’m lying on the couch reading your blog and my bride is on the balcony taking a nap. Everyone (we have met) on the ship has gone out of their way to make this trip great. It’s amazing that Clea at the Serenity pool knew just
about everyone’s name before we left port. We are curious as to why there are no late musical reviews in the main room? After the late dinner seating, we used to go check out a show. Going to a show “then” heading off to dinner is a bit counterintuitive. Just curious and please put on a pair of trousers.
Harold & Angela
Hello Harold and Angela
I am so glad that you had fun and, by now, you are home enjoying looking back at those wonderful memories. I will make sure that the CD, Josh, sees this as it will be interesting for him to see for sure. There is a current trend for cruise directors to schedule earlier shows so that people see the show before dinner. I am not a fan of this, personally. Call me old fashioned but I have always thought it should be dinner followed by the show. Let me pass this along anyway and, most importantly, I hope you had a wonderful cruise. Best wishes to you both.
Ron J from NJ asks:
John: Taking our third cruise with Carnival, this time on Carnival Glory (July 12). I’ve read your blog sporadically over the years, but, as a writer, I’m now totally enthralled by your wit, humor and the ease in which you seem to let things roll off your shoulders. People need to stop sweating the small stuff – maybe the woman was mad that you weren’t gawking at her attractiveness, or lack thereof, and that’s what she took offense of. And the “platinum” cruiser with the cowboy/baseball hat issues, should maybe take one of those boutique river cruises to cater to her sense of prim and proper. Keep up the good work!
Ron from N.J.
PS: Do you know who the cruise director is on Carnival Glory July 12 and anything we should know about him (hopefully humorous) so we can be prepared to mention it when we meet?
Hello Ron J from NJ
Thank you for those words of praise. You are very kind and it is always gratifying to know that people enjoy what I write. I see you will be on the Carnival Glory in July and your cruise director will be Eversen who is one of our most very talented people. I have no doubts you will enjoy him so very much. If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know and I wish you the best of times. Best wishes.
Jeannie Leinweber asks:
I am a Cruise Critic charter member. There are some Cruise Critic members who seem to have been stiffed by getting zero points for Cruise Critic group cruises. We have one coming on Carnival Elation and need to know that Carnival will not stiff us and give us what we deserve. People are saying that Carnival does this on purpose which, if true, I will be making a big fuss about. Trust me on that one on the boards!!!!!
Hello Jeannie Leinweber
Please forgive me if I say I really do not understand what you are referring to. If you book and pay for a cruise, it counts toward your VIFP points and being a member of Cruise Critic does not change that fact. But what I would like you or anyone else who has a specific example where this has happened to please send it to email@example.com so that my colleagues can take a look. I am sorry I can’t help further but my colleagues most certainly can. Have a great time on the Carnival Elation. Best wishes.
James McLachlan asks:
I am going to be on the Miracle June 16 to Alaska. I have had several abdominal surgeries that have left my waist line very tender. This causes me to have to wear size larger pants than usual,
can’t wear a belt, and have to use suspenders. I am concerned if I will have problems with dining, especially on elegant night. Would prefer to make arrangements ahead of time to avoid embarrassment when I go to dine. Is there going to be an issue? And if so, who should I
contact to let them know of the issue?
Hello James McLachlan
I hope this finds you feeling well and please don’t worry. Wear what is comfortable and can I ask that on June 14 you contact me on my facebook.com/johnheald page and ask for a table for two and I will work with the maître d to make it so. Have a wonderful time and please let me know if I can help further. Best wishes.
Tonia Del Rosario asks:
My son is allergic to eggs, wheat, nuts, tree nuts, sesame, lentils, chickpeas, green peas and broccoli. If he comes into contact with these foods he gets a red, itchy rash. If he eats any of these, then his tongue and throat swell, breathing becomes difficult, blood pressure plummets and unconsciousness and worse will happen. I read that Carnival discourages anyone with these kinds of allergies not to cruise and that Carnival will not offer any assistance. This is disgusting — why you would not do something to offer help! I guess idiots like you do not care then I will take my business elsewhere.
Hello Tonia Del Rosrio
I am so very glad that you decided to write to me because I now have the opportunity to tell you that what you read or whoever told you this was the case, was completely and totally incorrect. I do understand how frustrated you are because you only want what’s best for your son and, as a father, I do sympathise. So please do not worry because we are very used to allergies like this and making sure that people, like your son, have a wonderful, safe and carefree cruise. When you are ready to sail, please contact our special needs desk in Miami or indeed contact me here or on my facebook.com/johnheald page. I will then make sure the ship is informed and that a staff member speaks to you on board and he or she will take care to insure your son enjoys healthy food. So come sail with us and I hope you will let me help you along the way. I promise you will all have a brilliant time. Best wishes.
Denron Gibbs asks:
On the Carnival Breeze in August for big family reunion. Need to know where I can light up my cigar!
Hello Denron Gibbs
There is a wonderful area on Deck 5 called the Lanai. It is probably the best smoking area on the ship and the port side has tables and chairs and undercover area just for that. Enjoy the reunion, your cigar and the cruise. Best wishes.
Aron Vannoy asks:
John: For your attention, please. I had the pleasure of cruising on the Carnival Liberty and on a separate note to you, I will send glowing messages of affection and admiration for the people who made our special family reunion cruise so wonderful. But and, yes, John, there is a “but” which has to do with my electronic cigarette. John, I tried to use it in various areas of the ship. including the karaoke lounge and sitting at my favourite spot at Alchemy Bar and, each time, I was either ridiculed rudely by passengers or asked to put it away less rudely by Carnival employees. John, I know that this is probably a subject that like a minefield you want to stay away from but I hope you will hear me out. E-cigarettes do not contain tobacco. There are no gory health warnings on the pack with pictures of rotting, cancerous gums or lungs. I started to use one four months ago and have completely kicked smoking. I use it the same way I used to use gum when I tried to give up but this is more fulfilling because it fills the mental gap left. I have found that I use it less and less frequently. At the end of the day, if it reduces my chances of getting cancer then it is still a triumph! Yet it appears that Carnival does not want me to give up smoking because the only place I can use it on the Carnival Liberty is where John, yes sir, the smoking lounge. I am sure John that your non-smoker readers will not understand what a battle it is to give up and trot out patronizing comments like “it’s only a matter of willpower.” Giving up was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done even though my heart consultant told me that the next one might be the one that killed me (on leaving the hospital I automatically lit up to get over the shock, smoked half of the cigarette, realised what I was doing and threw the rest away). I wish that e-cigarettes had been available at the time so that I could have given up without the bad temper that upset my family. I had wanted to pack in for quite some time and would possibly have packed in earlier if I could have weaned myself off on e-cigs. There are hundreds more like me who cruise on your vessels every day, John, and so I would ask that you educate your “beards” and allow at least one area on the ship where we can use these wonderful and possibly lifesaving alternatives, somewhere that is not full of smoke. You wrote in a blog recently that putting your AA meetings in a bar was “a silly thing to do,” then is not putting me, a 65 year old man trying to give up smoking in a smoking lounge the same thing? Thanks for your time, John.
I am sure many of you will have different ideas and opinions about this and, certainly having seen 3,000 comments on my Facebook page about this I can see opinion is divided. I think Aron brings up an excellent point as I know people do use these to stop smoking and I will be interesting to see what the beards decide to do in future days regarding electronic cigarettes.
I guess I have to ask myself, would I allow someone to use it in my house. I think the answer is yes, certainly based on my limited understanding of them. Obviously they in turn would have to let me enjoy a cigar at their place. Lighting up a cigar at someone’s house is a bit like whipping your gentleman’s sausage out and asking someone to measure it with their eyephone app
I have no will power, I can’t give up. The idea of walking past a cigar shop with nothing but my head to stop me going inside and buying a Montecristo Edmundo is as ridiculous as asking Pine Bluff to become a Carnival PVP. And I wonder, in a more serious vain, if asking people who are trying to stop smoking to use electronic cigarettes only in a smoking lounge, is just as ridiculous? I’m looking to you, the jury, for your valuable input, as always.
And that’s all for today. And so we start another fabulous Alaskan cruise, so let’s do the usual and see who is sailing with us.
TOTAL GUESTS 2,282
FRENCH CANADA 5
UNDER 18 224
PLATINUM MEMBERS 120
DIAMOND GUESTS 3
And all of us are looking forward to another cruise to amazing Alaska.
Oh FFS – here I go again talking about……………smoking.