August 1, 2015 -
So next week, I will be back in the office, meeting my new assistant and meeting many, many beards. I am very lucky that, in my role as brand ambassador for Carnival Cruise Line, I am afforded health insurance through the company and for that I am very grateful although I hope that I will never need it. My only experience of American hospitals was when I was a cruise director and Heidi and I rented a villa in Orlando and she trapped her finger in the sliding doors that led out to the pool.After I had called her a clumsy bastard, I noticed that her finger looked like Tom’s after Jerry had given him the good news by dropping an iron on it. And so we went off to see if George Clooney was working at the Orlando ER. Heidi was denied treatment at the hospital because the receptionist’s computer refused to acknowledge that the United Kingdom existed. Even though I had a wad of cash and a wallet full of credit cards, she was prepared to let Heidi’s finger explode all over her desk because her stupid sodding software only recognised addresses in the United States.
I was very angry as you can imagine, and had to use all my charm and the promise of a free cruise on the Carnival Triumph and a fruit basket and a ship on a sodding stick to get her to let me see a doctor. I did. He told Heidi she had broken her finger, gave her some pain killers and put a peg thingy on her finger, smiled and gave me a bill for $475 ……..I kid you not…….$475.
After telling Heidi she could forget seeing Mickey and his mates at Disney, that week and writing my address as 25 Bollocks Street on the hospital payment form, I expanded my coverage to the U.S. The British National Health (BNH) system is brilliant and it is also bloody awful. When Heidi had Kye, I could not fault the BNH them in anyway and our Mrs. Doubtfire midwife was a true angel from heaven. She held her hand, and agreed while Heidi was “pushing” that I was a complete bastard with no more right to live on God’s green earth than a dung beetle.
With any huge bureaucratic system, there can be challenges like wait times — ask any Brits and they will tell you their own stories. My friend’s 12-year-old daughter fell off her horse and badly damaged her knee. Things started well. The ambulance arrived promptly, the knee was strapped and off she went in a big, exciting van with flashing lights. Now, we are all used to a bit of a wait at the hospital in a room full of people with swords in their eyes and their feet on back to front. But nothing can prepare you for the yawning chasm of time that passes in a British ER room (or A & E – accident and emergency as we call it) before the healthcare system actually does any healthcare. I do not want to get political here but I hope the outgoing president’s healthcare plan is good for the country. Obviously I am a cruise director and not a political commentator or don’t have a mind capable of understanding the complexities of a health care plan on the massive scale of the one in America. But I can say this. Britain’s National Health Service is truly brilliant but has its challenges, of course. Hopefully the U.S. can improve upon what we already have in place. We’ll have to see, I guess.
Time for today’s Q and A – here we go.
Paul Power asks:
John: We are doing a back to back on the Carnival Glory in September to celebrate our 30th anniversary and I was wondering if we are allowed to bring two bottles of wine each as we are doing a back to back.
Hello Paul Power
Yes indeed you are if you have both boarding passes printed and ready to show at embarkation. I wish you a brilliant two cruises on this wonderful ship. Best wishes.
Marilyn Hertenstein asks:
We are cruising in August on Carnival Sunshine. I have leg troubles and cannot walk long distances. I am thinking of buying and bringing a wheelchair along with us to use in the ports when getting around the towns to shop and sightsee. Will the crew be able to help me get the chair on and off the ship if we use a tender? Or is this a bad idea? I can walk short distances, and my husband can push the chair, but I worry about getting it on and off the ship. What are your thoughts?
Hello Marilyn Hertenstein
Yes, they will, so please, do not worry. Motor scooters are a challenge but regular wheelchairs will be able to be used on tenders and the crew will assist you as and when you need. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you either here or on my facebook.com/johnheald page.
Best wishes and have a great cruise
Bobby Pethan asks:
We have been loyal Carnival cruisers for eight years, and have taken 11 cruises on Carnival. We have had a blast on every cruise, and have made a lot of great friends… including two captains. We are taking our 12th, and, sadly, our last Carnival cruise in January 2016 back to Hawaii. Dawn drinks a sparkling water called Sparkling ICE, but, unfortunately, it only comes in 17oz plastic bottles… so, we will be saying goodbye to Carnival and going to Princess where she will be allowed to have her ICE. Carnival lost us because of this asinine rule – ashamed much?
Hello Bobby Pethan
I am so disappointed that after 11 wonderful cruises with us you have decided not to return. I hope that this was a kneejerk reaction to the new rules on bringing on plastic bottles and that you will have had time since writing to remember all the reasons why you cruised with us and were as you said “loyal” to the fun cruise vacation we provide. I did ask our bar beard if the Ice product you mentioned was something we could offer but, as it’s not supplied by the Coca Cola company, we have a contract with I am afraid we don’t have any plans to add this. I hope you will have second thoughts and I hope truly we will see you soon. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.
Kathy Maiorana asks:
Dear Mr. Heald:
First off I’m not a diamond, platinum or whatever… I think I am jolly old red, maybe blue, I don’t know I can’t keep that craziness straight. But seriously it doesn’t matter. I just laugh at all the folks that start off telling you that they are platinum cruisers. It has no bearing on what I’m about to tell you, frankly, does it ever? I read your Facebook posts every day. I know you probably get a ton of “unpleasantries.” I, too, have written you about a few “mishaps.” John, I have a happy story to tell you. Well somewhat happy. My husband and I were married June 15, many moons ago, well not too many moons. We always traveled on our anniversary; we vowed to never be home for our special day. We traveled from shore to shore, did a few cruises and hit Vegas too many times to count. Our favorite trips were always wherever the “salty air” was. My husband died in 2003, after serving 17 years in the USAF. For the last 12 years our four kids have carried on mine and Mark’s tradition. Our two older boys, grown now, no longer want to travel with their “old mom.” But my two girls and I have found our niche. We’ve been cruising now the last 5 years, the last three with CCL on our anniversary. My girls, now 11 and 13 (I was pregnant with the baby when Mark died), understand the importance of our cruises now. It’s not where you go, but who you go with. We will be headed out again next week for a fun filled time, too many piña coladas, too much sun, and making some new memories. Hopefully not having the exploding toilet like we did last year on the Carnival Dream, but whatever it made for a memorable trip. I wanted you to know people aren’t all the complainers you probably normally get. We are firm believers in the old adage “a crappy day at sea is better than a good day at home.” Cheers and happy cruising!
P.S. I hope your teeth aren’t still hurting. And I am glad you are getting to spend more time at home with your family. Enjoy every single minute of it. It doesn’t take but an instant for it all to change. Treasure the moments, sometimes that’s all you have left of them.
Hello Kathy Maiorana
Thank you sincerely for this wonderful heartfelt post. I enjoyed reading it all so very much and this quote is my favourite from it: “Understand the importance of our cruises now. It’s not where you go, but who you go with.” That is so true and so uplifting and I thank you again for being so kind and so positive. I do hope I see you on one of our ships very soon and if there is ever anything I can do for you, please do let me know. Best wishes to you and all the family.
Carl Birch asks:
Your anti-hunting comments were dangerous. Who the hell do you think you are? I am a hunter, if i need food, I have the right to go get it, in Mississippi. If I have a right to go get it, I’ve got to have the right to keep and bear arms. We have open carry protection in Mississippi too. Thanks to the Almighty. One thing is for sure, that if you don’t have a right to hunt or fish when you need to, it is cruelty to mankind, and to your neighbor. No one should take that right from a man who is a citizen and you, Heald, are not a citizen
Hello Carl Birch
I guess you are talking about my comments on the dentist who killed the lion in Zimbabwe – I was not referring to hunting or hunters in general, only this specific case. I am not going to waste your time or the readers trying to reason with you or explain myself except to say that I was referring to this one incident and not hunting or hunters as a whole. Thanks so much and I am here if you need anything. Best wishes.
Graham Targus asks:
If you are going to have a ping pong tournament, then you should provide a professional referee or someone who knows the rules of the game!! I got through to the final round on my Carnival Paradise cruise but was cheated out of winning. My opponent had his hand on the table at 15 points all and won the next point. I complained to the dancer who was there. What does a dancer know about ping pong? I am 38 years old and the winner was not an adult and the daily program said it was an adult contest. He was 15 if he was a day! I complained to the dancer and he would did not care. A contest is just that — a contest — and should be run professionally by the ship. I deserved that ship on a stick and Carnival needs to make me happy and send me one. My address is ————————-
Hello Graham Targus
I thank you for writing to me and I can tell how frustrated you are and, for that, I do apologise. I will make sure that this is addressed by the cruise director on the ship. I will say that the ping pong tournament is based more on fun than it is a serious contest but if we say “adult” in the Fun Times then I agree, adult it should be. I do hope that this is not the only memory you have from the cruise and I hope we will see you again soon so you can win that trophy. Best wishes.
Moreen Culp asks:
SAILING FROM SEATTLE TO ALASKA ROUND TRIP AUGUST 25. I LIVE IN
MIAMI. WHAT KIND OF CLOTHING WILL I NEED? CAN I STILL BRING MY
BOTTLE OF WINE?
Hello Moreen Culp
Yes, indeed you can. The new rules still allow for you to bring one bottle of wine per person. Have a brilliant time and enjoy beautiful Alaska. Best wishes.
Joanna Blais asks:
Question: I will be traveling w/ a large group, the Rontourage w/ Ron Pass, on the Carnival Dream 9/20. I am in charge of decorations, etc. for “Island Night?” What are we allowed/not allowed to do? What can be put up on the piano and around it? We don’t want to be in violation of anything and it seems other folks have done this sort of thing and had very different experiences, depending upon the ship. Some were allowed much more latitude than others. Please advise.
Hello Joanna Blais
I know this group is going to be lots of fun and I am sure it will be a wonderful cruise. Please contact me on my facebook.com/johnheald page three days before the cruise. Let me know what day you want to decorate and I will liaise with the ship. There are some rules so bring what you wish and I will have a staff member there to show you what you can and cannot do and lend assistance should it be needed. I do hope that’s OK with you. Have a great time. Best wishes.
John, my father died on May 15 this year, 2015, just shy of 81. June 13 (his birthday) and June 21 were very sad days, could not even check email without the constant reminder. I feel your pain. My dad was a big Frank Sinatra fan, so is my mom (they were at one of his last live performances in Richmond, VA in March 1994). She is 74 and she and i cruise together often, as you know. I was wondering will Ken still be the maître d’ on the Carnival Pride’s September 13 sailing? Does he only sing in the dining room for scheduled seating or does he sing at specific times and venture to the Your Time Dining area? I don’t want my Mom to miss him, we have anytime dining, stateroom 7311. Thanks John, take care.
I am so very sorry, I know and understand your pain and the sorrow you are feeling. Please would you remind me of what you have written above two days before the cruise? I will write to Ken and ask him to sing a song and dedicate to Dad. I know he will be honoured to do so. He rarely dedicates songs in the dining room but I know he will be happy to do this. Please then remind me on my facebook.com/johnheald page if you can three days before the cruise and let me take care of this for you. My sympathies go to you all
John I will be sailing on Carnival Dream in October and just found out that they do not have a Guy’s Burger Joint – my husband’s favorite lunch. I was wondering when the Carnival Dream will be updated to include a Guy’s? Thanks and look forward to meeting you on the Journeys Cruise in October.
I am not aware of a plan to add a Guy’s Burger Joint to the Carnival Dream but I have no doubts you will still have the most wonderful time. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you and I will see you soon for a brilliant voyage. Best wishes.
Orlando Suarez asks:
_________ (IN SPANISH). Bring on Latin music, the most popular music culture in the world. Next cruise on 8/23 Breeze – is there any?!?!
Hello Orlando Suarez
Thanks to Google Translate I understand that you ummm……..don’t much care for Caribbean music. It is good news, then, that there is a Latin band and they play some wonderful music in different areas around the ship so I know you will enjoy them as you will the cruise. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.
That’s all for today, more questions answered on the next blog and through the week on facebook.com/johnheald
I want to talk to you about our on board shops or “The Fun Shops” as they are now called. We think our onboard shopping experience is excellent but I wonder what you have to say about it?
The people at Starboard Services have recently brought in a huge selection of jewelry and fine luxury items while keeping faith with the old faithful like the charm bracelets, the watch sales, Inch Of Gold and other daily specials. So, with this in mind I wonder if you might take the time to write your thoughts about your onboard shopping experience. Now, I could ask specific questions but I don’t want this to be too regimented.
Maybe you could tell us the sort of merchandise you always buy when you cruise. Do you think they have a good selection and do you have any suggestions on what you would like to see for sale in the shops the next time you cruise? We want your onboard shopping experience to be the best and we can continue to make sure this happens through your comments and suggestions so let’s see what you all have to say.
Again, this will help us, of course, but ultimately, it well help you all enjoy your onboard shopping experience that much more.
I look forward to reading your thoughts………….oh and just FYI, you asked for bigger sizes and we now have 3X clothing and I am asking them to offer 4X as well. Anyway, let me know what you think of your onboard shopping experience and I will make sure the right people see it.
I can’t believe I am going to write this but there is serious, very serious discussion in the Heald household about getting another dog…………..a sister for our German shepherd, Breeze. When I say serious discussion, I mean Heidi is having it with Kye – I, obviously, am not involved.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Breeze, he barks and growls in all the right places and I feel happier when I am away knowing he and his razor sharp teeth are there………..but two dogs? Oh FFS!
When I was a spotty kid I owned two goldfish when I was young. They were called number one and number two so if one died I would still have two…..but they died within a week of each.
I had a hamster called Dave. He died when I was five years old – Dave the hamster died when he fell asleep at the wheel……so sad.
Yesterday I posted a question on Facebook about a couple who left their cruise on the Carnival Miracle early because their dog had sadly passed away back home in Philadelphia and I asked if others would do the same………………many said they would and I understand why. I love Breeze but I am not sure another dog is the right way to go…………..we shall see. Time for bed and I am really tired.
As I mentioned on Facebook, I didn’t sleep well last night. I counted sheep…………then I counted dentists……and I counted the lions that sprang out of the bush and ate them.