I was talking with a fellow cruise director a few days ago and as we chatted on the satellite phone — me in Dover, UK, and my colleague just waking up in the western Caribbean — he told me about the difficulties he had recently gone through, thanks to Tropical Storm Chantal. It wasn’t the storm that had caused him difficulties — no, it was a couple of guests who went beyond the usual disappointment that every guest feels when a change of itinerary occurs and became abusive and angry. This is, as the great Welsh, hip-gyrating Tom Jones says, “not unusual.” Not only on Carnival but on every other cruise line in the world………maybe with the exception of P&O because Brits never complain about anything in public. But seriously, on every ship that is affected by Mother Nature, there are people who do not and will not understand that the cruise lines make these changes to avoid ……..ummmmm………….how do I put it ………. ummmmm……ummmmm……oh, yes, I know…………..DEATH! (more…)
Now and then I get some posts that are very personal and attack me with such venom that it leaves me quite shaken up. There was one particular post I won’t grace with publishing but let me say it was so personal and full of such hate that it pushed my thick-skinned soul to the limit. You know, I spent all of my school years without ever getting into a fight, and even when the school bully Shane Ibrahim used to beat me with a wet towel in the changing rooms I remained calm and polite and tried to brush it off with humour. And that’s a practice that I continue to this day. (more…)
So here I am back in the cruise director chair again which up until this morning was brilliantly occupied by Butch Begovitch who will return to be the permanent CD here after the crossing. He has left the ship in good order and really has left me with no major headaches…… except one. You see we have a new staff member who is going to require some “counseling,” as tofu eaters would call it.
Here is the schedule for June, July and August and I will have the rest of the year as soon as I can. May I take this opportunity to thank all my Cruise Director colleagues for their continuing hard work and their dedication in making sure you have the most fun possible.
Stephen James Caulker asked:
Heald: Urgent!!! On my cruise on Carnival Magic there were no workers checking IDs to get into the Serenity area and I know for a fact that there was a family who was next to me who had a son who was 19 and you said in today’s blog the minimum age to get into Serenity was 21. I know he was 19 because they were talking about what he wanted for his 19th birthday. There must be deck boys checking the ID of all the passengers so that it is 21 which is what you said in your overinflated blog today!!! The sign should say “Teens not allowed!”
Yep, it’s that time again when I am going to talk about me being fat. It’s not something I want to do but the fact that I am blubbery has been pushed in my face like a silent movie cream pie fight ………..that I have no choice.
I have been spending some time with the folks from HASBRO who have been designing, helping and scripting this very lavish and ultimately brilliant fun game show. It’s been a challenge for me not only because it’s the first time in 25 years I have been scripted. I hate being scripted but it’s also been hard to keep up with the amazing energy of the young cruise directors who bounce around like a kangaroo on speed. I am really feeling my age and it’s sort of had me thinking if it’s time for me to hang up the microphone.
Anyway, the game show itself is going to be a huge hit and if I am honest there is as much chance of me adhering to the script as there is me wearing a pair of pants that shows the crack of my arse like one of the ACD’s here Chicken Squishy or whatever the heck he’s called.
Hasbro, The Game Show promises to be loads of fun with adaptations of the company’s popular games such as Sorry, Operation, Yahtzee, Connect Four and, of course, one that you and I have played many times with our families………and that’s the game with no end……Monopoly.
I am totally confused by Monopoly. The rules explain how you can un-mortgage a property and when you should build hotels on Park Avenue but they don’t say, and they should, that the winner is the last player left alive. You go bankrupt so you borrow money from your Dad who has loads of cash. Then you go bankrupt again. So you borrow more money from the bank. And then, when there is no more money left in the box, you write out an IOU and keep on borrowing by which time it is 4 am, everyone is bankrupt and you have realised that unchecked capitalism doesn’t work whether it comes in the form of a Wall Street banker or in a cardboard box. That’s if you’re lucky. If you’re not, there will be a “bad loser” around the table who will land on your hotel on Madison Avenue and in a hysterical rage will throw the board and the pieces in the air and, in true Wall Street fashion, throw themselves out of the window. I wonder as it I sit here in my underpants at the start of 2012 whether or not kids still play Monopoly because I would think that in their minds anything that doesn’t run on electricity is stupid and boring. So the idea of moving a hat or a roller-skate around a piece of cardboard and not being able to play Modern Warfare Grand Theft Zombie Killer on their Weeweexplaybox would mean teenage tantrums all round. Heidi and I have a Playxboxstation thingy but it’s used about as much as the George Foreman Grill and my Betamax video recorder that I refuse to throw away.
In theory Scrabble is much better and yet it too gets under my skin. And that’s because I always end up with mostly vowels. So while my opponent is writing “bumfuzzling” across two triple word scores and claiming it’s a game of skill, I’m getting three points for the word “boob.”
The idea of Hasbro, The Game Show, will be to bring audiences and players closer together in an evening of fun and fantastic prizes. However, while board games brought my family together, they also bring out hysteria, accusations and hate. Maybe amongst the Sorry Sliders and Connect Four games we should include something for today’s teens and have a night of playing Death Zombie Warfare Witchcraft Pack Bastard Space Asteroid Killers.
Time for some Q and A……away we go.
Brian O’Keefe Asked:
We loved the comedy shows on the Carnival Freedom and the comedians were so funny. The problem John was the venue which was too small and talking to the people we ate dinner with and other passengers we all felt that the comedy club should be in the big theatre. We all said we would give up the dancer shows for more comedy. Can you send a big shout out to Lotti our cabin stewardess who we attempted to pack and take home with us? Thanks, John.
Hello Brian O’Keefe
Thanks for the post and I hope you had fun. Your question caused some great conversation on Facebook and it was certainly worthy of discussion. I think we do have a good balance between comedy, variety and the big production shows. I know that the Punchliner comedy shows are very popular and certainly some are full which is why we repeat them over a space of two nights per each two comedians and we don’t have any plans though of moving them to another lounge. Thanks for the great comment about Lotti and I shall make sure she sees this. I do hope you had fun.
Janet Bettencourt Asked:
My daughter is desperate to be featured in your passenger talent show when she cruises with us on the Elation on July 9. She is eight years old and has already won trophies and came first in the Models of Distinction show in Mississippi. Please secure her a spot and she will bring her music to sing her song which will bring the house down.
Hello Janet Bettencourt
Many congratulations on your daughter’s success and I am sure she has a bright future. I checked the entertainment schedule and in fact we don’t have a talent show that cruise. I am sure you will have a brilliant time and if there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know.
Best wishes to all.
Scott Stanley Asked:
My wife and I will be experiencing Carnival for the first time on the Carnival Dream for our third anniversary in March. I thought about surprising her with a marriage vow renewal on the ship. I’d like to know if it is possible to have a small ceremony (no guests) that is more on the informal side. I don’t mind buying one of the wedding packages, but they seem to be geared towards more guests/formal ceremony types. Do you think it is possible to schedule/book something more like what we’d like? Any info you can share would be appreciated. Thanks
Hello Scott Stanley
Thanks so very much for choosing the Carnival Dream for your special celebration and we do indeed have a wedding renewal ceremony on board. It may sound formal but in fact it’s a very intimate ceremony hosted by the captain and in the presence of only the two of you and any guests you choose to invite. Hope that’s OK and I promise it will be a wonderful way to celebrate your lives together. I wish you many more happy years and a brilliant cruise.
Jon Resinki Asked:
I have done five cruises with you guys and never once have I been offered an upgrade cabin. I always read that others have gotten one but I never do. I guess I am the wrong color or not a VIP but I work hard in my community as an educator and deserve an upgrade as much as anyone else.
Hello Jon Resinki
The myth of the upgrade and that many guests get one each week is I am afraid wrong. They come along now and then because for the most part our ships sail totally sold out. Now as to who gets an upgrade, well that is also not easy to answer but if I may suggest that you get a travel agent or PVP to book your cruises as they will be able to help when upgrades or special pricing becomes available. I do hope one day you get the upgrade call. Thanks for all you do as a teacher and for spending your valuable vacation time with us.
Steve Kurs Asked:
John you and I have something in common and that’s we are both obese and, as a fellow fatty, I don’t understand why you don’t get bigger sizes in the gift shops. On the Carnival Sensation the largest size they had was XXXL and I am 385 pounds so that’s not going to fit me IS IT? I am sure you understand but if you do then why am I not taken care of like other passengers. We need 5X and bigger! It is pure discrimination that only thin people can find something to wear.
Hello Steve Kurs
Thanks for the post and I do understand that it’s hard when you find something that doesn’t fit you, I certainly understand that. I know that the shops on board have guaranteed to sell bigger sizes although not 5X so I will send your thoughts to the folks that run the shops. Thanks again for taking the time to write.
Tracy D Asked:
You were right John we loved the Carnival Legend. Nestor and Doctor K were great pool-side servers; Doctor K could be a little pushy, though. Our steward, Desra, was fantastic! She was always friendly and talked to us every time we crossed paths. After buying the towel folding book, we left her a cobra on our last day, knowing she’d get a kick out of it! We enjoyed all the shows we went to on board. We went to the comedy – G and R rated shows (very funny!), two nights of the magic show (we highly recommend this one!), and a few of the game shows. I think our favorite day was the first day at sea for the Hairy Chest Competition (Go Lou!). Wee Jimmy was a hoot, his jokes were corny but he laughed at himself, which made the corny jokes better. Alex was definitely the best host on the ship, always full of energy and the Minnesota joke NEVER got old! Wed had a blast!
Hello Tracy D
What a wonderful review and I am so glad that you had fun. I will be sending this to the ship and those mentioned will be thrilled. I loved the comment about Wee Jimmy and he really is a funny chap and a great CD. Thanks again and I hope we see you again very soon.
Richard Gledhill Asked:
The Carnival Freedom was not good. Our room only had a small chair and a stool for sitting but on RCI we had a suite with a huge comfy sofa. The bed on Freedom was very uncomfortable. The entire staff was rude and unhelpful and nobody cared I was in a scooter and offered me any help and I had to wait in line at buffets on Lido. The food was not as good as other ships we’ve sailed and cheaper cuts of meat were offered. I have written expecting compensation but have had no response!
Hello Richard Gledhill
It was a big surprise for me to read this as the Carnival Freedom is often the top ranked ship in our fleet as per the comments made by guests that complete the review card. I am very sorry that you didn’t enjoy the cruise and that you did not find the staff helpful and if you had booked a suite on the ship you would I promise have found our suites also have large comfy sofas and more space. I have sent this to a colleague and you will be hearing from them soon. I hope we will see you again and my apologies that this cruise did not meet or exceed your expectations.
Dave Rowan Asked:
I need help because I am cruising on the Carnival Dream March 31 and want to propose to my girlfriend Cindy. I have no idea how to do this and need your help to get this done please as I am really really nervous. To make matters worse my future in laws Susan and Art Bannacki (in cabin 2351) are with us and they don’t know I am doing this. What’s your suggestion, please can you help. I am sweating just thinking about it but want it to be a memorable proposal. Thanks so much Mr. Heald.
Hello Dave Rowan
I can actually feel your nerves oozing out of the post so it’s my job to help you. We can do this two ways, a small private proposal or indeed a proposal on stage in front of other guests……. and your in-laws! So we have a bit of time, let me know what you want to do and with the help of the CD and staff I will do all I can to make this a painless, fun and happy occasion. I am sure all will be well.
Alexandria Dabrini Asked:
John, can you tell me if Carnival has singles only cruises? I don’t like kids and find that they are not well behaved on cruises and on my last trip on Sensation there were hundreds of them running riot and it ruined the cruise. Carnival should have a kid free ship and if there is a ship for breeders there should be one for the thousands who want no kids on their cruise.
Hello Alexandria Dabrini
Thanks for the comment and I have to say that Carnival is proud to be a family cruise line and so we won’t ever I think dedicate a ship to having no children on board. I do think that you should maybe look at times of the year when the children count is lower as in school time and then maybe you will not notice them so much. I hope we see you on board soon.
John Dobrescu Asked:
I really enjoy your blog and please don’t worry about those haters who obviously have never met you. I met you in 2006 on Carnival Liberty in Europe and we have so many wonderful memories. On that cruise we met a bar waiter called Anica. She worked at the wine bar and was one of the highlights of the cruise. I wonder if she is still working for Carnival and if so what ship. I ask this because she was from Romania which is where I was born and fled the country with my parents when I was just nine years old. She is from my home town Oradea and I wondered if you had her contact information please. Thank you.
Hello John Dobrescu
Thanks for the kind words and for getting in contact with me. I am afraid I don’t show any Anica from Romania working on our ships at the moment. I have checked our records and I am sorry but it looks like she has left. It sounds like she made quite an impression on you and I hope somehow you get to see her again.
That’s all for today.
Over the weekend I posted some beautiful photos of the Serenity area on the Carnival Spirit and while being serene and relaxing with some suntan oil and a good book maybe how some like to spend their days at sea, others prefer excitement. And if thrill seeking is your thing, then we have got your Carnival Spirit cruisers covered.
Designed specifically for Australians whose lives are a thrill a minute especially when they make sure there are no red back spiders hiding in the toilet which while you are reading your copy of the Australian Times will bite you on the arse and kill you dead, the new slide on the Carnival Spirit is quite simply historic.
I can imagine that as you stand at the top of the stairs your stomach turns as you edge towards the green coloured tube that leads you into oblivion. You stand on the edge, the soles of your feet sweating, “Just do it!” your wife says, and you close your eyes and then without any warning you are slipping and sliding through the green tube. Seconds later you are over the ocean and below is Debbie the Dolphin who was swimming along without a care in the world and suddenly looks up to see your flaccid bottom flying down a green tube. You think that maybe you will be able to wave at the people on Lido deck below you but all you can see are the inside of your eye lids and all you can hear are your own screams echoing all the way through the Green Thunder’s tubing. Suddenly you’re spectacularly hurled out into the plunge pool and as you eventually stand you do so with a lingering look up Green Thunder’s tubing hoping that you haven’t given the green a tint of brown.
The simple pleasure of sliding down a chute into water is something I have never understood. Gerry Cahill, our president and CEO, is a huge fan of these things and he made me race him on the Carnival Dream. He cheated and I lost my shorts. Not a good day out for me that but I am in the minority because water parks are so popular and with Green Thunder we have taken them to a new level and I must admit from the photos you will see in a moment, pretty intimidating level. Water parks on ships have come a long way since the simple slides we first had and Green Thunder looks amazing and along with the other water park additions you will see have transformed Carnival Spirit’s Lido Deck.
One thing I always worry about with slides like this is that being fat (thanks for the reminder Steve Kurs) I am concerned that these slides were not designed for big people and that my fear was that I would get stuck half way round. That obviously isn’t the case with Green Thunder because you don’t have to be as thin as the Amish phone book to go down ……. you just have to be totally bonkers and have the most easy going, have fun, no worries kind of thinking…….which is why Green Thunder will be absolutely perfect for Australia.
Here is one of Eric the Beard’s slide show thingies highlighting Green Thunder and the Carnival Spirit’s brilliant water park.
You may have seen the proposal request in today’s Q&A from Dave and you could feel how nervous he was couldn’t you? I get asked to arrange public on stage wedding proposals a lot here and when I am a CD on the ships which I was indeed supposed to be this week on Carnival Magic but because the game show rehearsals are continuing I am unable to do so. Anyway, I am always happy to help with wedding proposals but I have never quite understood why some men feel the need to do this in public. I have proposed three times to women in my life. The first time was via a letter when I wrote to Marcia Brady from the Brady Bunch proclaiming my total love for her and asked her to marry me and that after the ceremony we move to our own Blue Lagoon. She never replied……..looking back though her non-reply may have had something to do with the fact that the letter was written on a pair of my underpants.
The second time I proposed…well……..that was a little more public as both sets of parents were there and I thought that was the chivalrous thing to do. She said “yes” but in the end things didn’t work out and one day she woke up, realized I was an ugly bastard and buggered off. She is now living in New York, happily married to a great guy who doesn’t fart and make her vomit when she sees him naked……..which is never good for a relationship.
As for Heidi…….well……I was so positive that when I asked her to marry me that she would say, “No, Nichtus, Buggernsie Offen Sie” that I decided to ask her alone………just the two of us …… in the cabin on the Carnival Imagination. She was supposed to come back to the cabin from work at 11:30 pm. I had a rose…….lying on a silk sheet……..with the ring lying next to it …. I had her favourite song playing on the CD player…….the lights were dimmed……..I had my best underpants on……nothing else……..just my best underpants…..all was set …… 11:30 pm came and went…and she eventually arrived at 12:45 am having had decided to go to the crew lounge with her friends……the bastard. By the time she got back to the cabin everything was ruined …….and it wasn’t only the rose that had wilted. Anyway, if anyone ever needs help with a proposal please let me know.
So back here in Philadelphia things are going well, slowly, but well and I feel like an old dog having to learn a new trick. But the show is going to be great and it’s been fun to see the CDs again. However, if hosting a show like this has made me feel old then hanging out with CDs Ryan Fitzbutch and Butch Begogerald and Josh Big Texy and Paul Saintly and Brent Boy Band Loyer has made me feel ancient. Their clothes, their underpants, the music they listen to and the words they use make me feel so old and I fit in with this group like Richard Simmons would fit in hosting a cage fighting event.
One thing is extraordinary though, on breaks for rehearsals I call Heidi, call the office or eat a sandwich and take a poo. They don’t. They sit on their eye pads and play a virtual game. They are all — and I mean all — playing it. It’s a virtual world thing where they build a city and buy hotels and have families and I don’t understand what the hell is going on. In My Town, you can buy virtual houses, cars, cappuccinos, computers, lap dances and build a new Carnival HQ. You can dance, undress, giggle, urinate, gamble, crap, smoke a palm tree and spank Judge Judy with a table tennis bat. Currently says Uncle Google about 6.7 million Americans play this game every day. This along with the fact that Ryan Fitzbutch and Butch Begogerald and Josh Big Texy and Paul Saintly and Brent Boy Band Loyer all play this game while I sit Facebooking and blogging to you.
Yes, Hasbro, The Game Show is a new breed of cruise ship entertainment and there is a new breed of cruise directors to host it. They have endless Red Bull-fueled energy, dress like metro sexual pop stars, they kiss other men on the cheek, they use product in their hair, they have teeth sponsored by Colgate and stomachs flatter than a can of Diet Sprite that’s been open for 27 years. They are good looking and confident and at the end of a long day of game show rehearsals while I long for a huge steak and a massive plate of fries they go to the gym to tone up their six packs. They are the future and I am the past and I wish them continuing success………but ……….if one of those metro sexual bastards tries to kiss me again…..they will find it very hard to sit through the next day of the rehearsals with their eyepads sticking out of their manscaped bottoms.
This has been one of the mildest winters for the last 50 years and today, the 10th of January as I sit here in my underpants, it’s 12 degrees C outside. This time last year snow lay thick on the ground and it was minus 4 outside. The fact that we have had no snow means that many of my fellow Brits seem upset and are heading for a winter break to Austria, France and even Vail, Colorado for a spot of skiing. Well, I won’t be joining them because I’d rather have my colon cleansed with Tabasco sauce than ever set foot in a ski resort. Or anywhere, in fact, where there is a chance of snow.