You've Got Mail

March 31, 2007 -

John Heald

Good Day to you from the good ship Freedom.

It is 11:40pm local time and I just returned from the show. Before I start with my story of the day let me answer one or two questions that have been left on the blog thingy.

CSPICE – I have passed your words of kindness onto everyone here who knows you and they return theirs to you. I know what you mean about forgetting that you are not onboard a ship. Many times I have said good morning to people while walking down a street as if I was on the ship still.
MISSINGTHESMOKEFREEPARADISE – I know a lot of people feel the same way but I am happy to tell you that there are many more smoke free areas on our ships than ever before. The only lounges where smoking is allowed are the dance club, casino bar and piano bar with cigar smoking only allowed in the cigar bar itself. The Swingtime lounge where John and Diane play is also NON SMOKING you will be happy to hear. See you soon and please keep reading the blog.
Mary and Randy – Welcome to the Carnival family. I will see you in December and I promise you an unforgettable time onboard. Make sure you say hi.
Quentintodger – I am not sure what you mean by docking in an Asian Port. Carnival I am sure is looking at docking its vessels all over the world one day. Who would have ever thought we would be in Europe but here we are. I hope if we do that you are aboard.By the way, your online name Quentintodger is very strange. Are you on the witness protection program or are you inside a Secret Agent Society?

Today we were docked by 9:00am in Istanbul, Turkey. The alarm was set for 7:30am but for some reason I woke at 6:00am and couldn’t get back to sleep. It’s sad to say but routine has taken over my mornings when the first thing I do is check e-mails. We should kiss our loved ones, stretch, make coffee, exercise, walk the dog, etc., but because my cabin and office are adjoined what’s the first thing I do – check e-mail. E-mail has changed the way we communicate everywhere and not always for the better. I find myself emailing department heads who live next door to me on the ship . I am determined to stop this and start a brand new exciting concept in communication called “TALKING TO ONE ANOTHER.”

Anyway, I will return to the subject of e mail in a moment. Today was the worst weather we have had since we started cruising. It rained on and off all day. I went to the area of Istanbul where all the tours drop their guests off for shopping. I spoke to many passengers all of which were in good spirits. I want to say a big hello to some young people who read this blog everyday who are from Canada. I forgot your names but I do remember the name of your 10 month old daughter Chloe. She is our youngest guest onboard and is so beautiful. It was nice to talk to you both and I hope you continue to have a great cruise and hopefully make Chloe a baby brother!

The carpet industry is huge in Turkey and most of our tours feature a 20 minute carpet education where the art of making these amazing coverings are shown up close. The art of the weave has not changed in hundreds of years and is fascinating to see.

I was with Heidi and we decided to have a traditional Turkish Shish Kebab for lunch. She was very happy for me to eat this spicy delight then,but as I write this blog here happiness has changed to a look of disgust and a hunt for the air freshener.

So,here is a tip for guests sailing on the Freedom going to Istanbul. A highlight: sailing away from Istanbul past the illuminated Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia and hearing the call for prayers is a must not miss event. 

Back to e-mail. The positives of course out way the negatives and this definitely applies to the crew. Did you know that Carnival has a Crew Internet service onboard all of our ships. This enables our crew to stay in constant contact with their families, friends, girlfriends and wives (obviously being careful if they have both) and has become such a great way for them to stay in touch. Take my fantastic Cabin Steward Spongee who is from Thailand. He e-mails his brother who is a Trainee Commander in the Thai Navy every day as telephoning is never possible. Then there is me. Now I am about to embarrass my Mum and Dad but hey, it won’t be the first time. I ask my Mum and Dad to send me a photo of my Mum’s home cooking every day. It brings a smile to my face and makes me feel closer to home. So, here is today’s photo of my Dad eating Lamb Chops, Cauliflower Cheese, Chips (that’s French Fries to my American Bloggers),Grilled Tomatoes (That’s Tomatoes to my American Bloggers:)) and he is adding mint sauce! If anyone of the now 78,005 bloggers want to pop round for dinner you are most welcome.

Dad enjoying Mum’s cooking

To sum up then, e-mail is a pain, causes extra work, becomes the first thing we check in the mornings and if we have one of those blueberry things it can take over our lives completely. However, e-mail has allowed the crew aboard the good ship Freedom to say I Love You to people thousands of miles away, allowed Spongee to speak to his Trainee Commander Brother on a navy boat in Thailand and allowed me to show you that my Mum’s cooking is the best in the world !

Time for bed, I have to pop next door and talk to the Hotel Director about tomorrow’s special functions………….actually, can’t be bothered to get up, I’ll send him an email instead.

Goodnight bloggers

Your friend

John

If He Could See Me Now…

March 30, 2007 -

John Heald

Hello Blogging People – hope you are all well.

Just a few replies to some of the messages posted.

Maxwell1100 – You asked about the two people taken off last cruise on medical evacuation. I can tell you I have new news on one of them but the other was well enough to be flown by Air Ambulance to the United States. I wish them both a speedy recovery.
Southern Dreams– I will be onboard in October and I am sure I hope to be part of a dream vacation for you.

Also, have a click on this http://www.avidcruisertv.com. I noticed some people were asking questions etc about my start with CCL, etc. Well here is an article I did with a great friend of mine and one of the most knowledgeable people in the industry, Mr. Ralph Grizzle. Ralph has a fantastic web site and magazine which I encourage all of you to read. Included in the one above is an article about me which you may want to print and throw darts at. Thanks Ralph for the great article, let’s do another soon together mate.

Today the ship was docked in Izmir, Turkey. The morning weather was much the same as Greece the day before with a crisp and sunny start with a high afternoon temperature of 16 degrees Celsius. For those of you sailing in July and August you can expect the ports in Greece to be over 40 degrees Celsius (100 degrees in the other temperature Fahrenheit), anyway it’s going to be bloody hot!

This evening I hosted the Repeaters Party for the 1300 passengers who have cruised on a Carnival “Fun Ship” before. This involves dancing to the Charlie Rounds Big Band and complimentary canapés and cocktails. During the party we show a video of the Past, Present and Future of this great company. I have seen this video many times but for some reason a though struck me tonight as I watched.

At this point I am sure some seasoned cruises will be thinking, O.K., here comes another Cruise Director story or joke and sometimes (ok most of the time) you may be correct. However, since starting this blog thing I seem to be constantly thinking of things that my reader may enjoy.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the video. It starts with a welcome from Carnival’s President and C.E.O. Bob Dickinson and a similar welcome from The Carnival Corperation Chairman and C.E.O. Micky Arison. The video then shows a clip of Carnival’s founder and Micky’s Dad Mr. Ted Arison. He was speaking about the past and how Carnival’s first ship The Mardi Gras ran aground on her maiden voyage on a sand bank. Not a great start to his vision of making cruising available to Joe Public, but his dream soon became a reality and from that one ship sailing to the Bahamas here we are some 35 years later sailing a 110,000 ton cruise ship to Istanbul Turkey. I remember the Mardi Gras as do many still working with Carnival and we have all watched this company grow into what it is today, The Most Popular Cruise Line In The World. We have had some bumps in the road along the way but if we can survive docking our first ship on a pile of sand of the Miami coast to having 21 ships with more on the way I guess we must be doing something right.

I never got to officially meet Mr. Ted Arison. I was on the bridge as the Cruise Director of the Carnival Destiny when it was the newest and largest ship in the world and I remember him sitting on a stool calmly watching as everyone ran around preparing the ship for its first cruise. I wish I had discovered the nerve to go over and introduce myself and shake his hand but I never did.

Tonight though when I watched the video tribute at the Repeaters party I silently said thank you to Mr. Ted Arison for starting a company that allowed me, an overweight, ugly, everyday guy be a Cruise Director and have his own blog that is read as of today by 75,000 people.

If he could see me now.

Goodnight Bloggers

A Tale of Two Sisters

March 29, 2007 -

John Heald

Morning Bloggers.

Here are some replies to some of the posted questions. Again, please allow me to say that I apologize that time does not allow me to reply to all of them.

Scejas – I love the sites in Istanbul, the Highlights of Istanbul Tour with the lunch is my favorite. Bad news – I am so sorry but I will not be on the Freedom in December
Schuijt – Here is a message from my wife in Dutch for you – Bedankt voor jullie boodschap. Hoop dat alles naar wens gaat in Vinkeveen, met de zaak en natuurlijk op persoonlijk vlak. Jammer dat jullie niet eerder komen…..Istanbul & Athene zijn fantastisch mooi, we zien elkaar in november. Tot dan! QUICK TRANSLATION – MY HUSBAND JOHN IS THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE. I WOULD MUCH RATHER WAKE UP WITH HIM IN THE MORNING THAN BRAD PITT.
Terri Rericha – You are correct, I am sure I was the CD then. I have been with Carnival for 20 years this June.
Bob & Gay – You would need to be a big chap to have a tattoo of me!
Divetrash! – Message passed to Ron P who sends his best to you. Hope you can sail soon.

After a miserable day of weather yesterday we awoke to  a day of glorious sunshine and a high temperature of 16 degrees Celcius in Rhodes, Greece.

This morning though, at 9:30am, I made a woman cry. The last time I did this was when I announced on stage that I was getting married and every lady (and one man) in the audience cried hysterically at the knowledge that I was now unavailable.

Today, the lady in question was Alanya Williams from Gaylord, Michigan. Alanya is the retired school teacher I mentioned in my blog yesterday. This morning, I announced over the Public Address System that it was officially Alanya Williams Day. I presented her with a proclamation signed by the captain and we all had photos together. Tonight I am paying for them to go to our fantastic Sun King Supper Club. She cried tears of happiness and her husband told me after that is something she never does as she always hides her emotions. I am going to send a copy of the photos and the proclamation to the local newspaper The Gaylord Herald Times and hope they publish this event for all her past pupils to read.

After this I went to the bridge for arrival into Rhodes. The old town with it’s gated castle walls is a fantastic place to explore and there is also some lovely nick-knack shops to explore. While the guests were ashore the crew conducted a disaster drill. This involves many aspects of safety and what to do in a mass emergency situation. This is one of the things that guests never see and lets hope we never have to put what we practice into a real situation but if we do, the brilliant crew of the Freedom will be ready.

Later in the day Heidi and I went for a cup of coffee in Rhodes town. A Cruise Director is always a Cruise Director on or off the ship. Of course, by now, people recognize you and want to ask questions or just want to say hello. The usual start of these conversations are the words “sorry to bother you” which was the case this time when 2 ladies stopped by the outside café table we were sitting at. As usual I stood and shook their hand expecting a question about the island, the ship etc. What I heard was nothing of the sort. The guest, a Mrs.Reeves (her maiden name) (she wanted me to make sure she I printed her name in the blog which she has been reading since it’s conception) and her sister were on the cruise to celebrate something special, not a birthday, not an anniversary but a divorce. Now, I have no idea what possesses people to open their life stories to me but it happens every day and in this case she insisted that I put this in my blog. Turns out that Mrs. Reeves was married to a man, who will remain nameless, for 12 years. She told me that she thought he was having an affair but could not prove it so she didn’t hire a private detective she hired……………her sister. They planned that she would “entrap” her husband ” with an offer of …um…fun……………..and to cut a long story short one Tuesday morning he fell for it hook, line and sinker. The divorce just came through, so the sisters celebrated with this cruise to Europe on the Carnival Freedom. There are times when I have lots to say and try and have a comeback for every situation but this time Heidi and I just laughed and said – congratulations, I mean, what else can you say.

So, if the nameless man is reading this, please don’t shoot the messenger but the sisters wanted you to know that they are having a fantastic time spending your money:)

Is there any other job in the world short of being a psychiatrist where people open their hearts to you. This is but another reason why I just love my job.

So to the Reeves sisters from Elm Grove, Wisconsin, I wish you a fantastic cruise and to all the men out there remember, never underestimate sister power.

Bedtime, oh by the way, we reached 69,000. Will keep blogging a bit longer.

Cheers

j

P.S.
Here are some fantastic pictures from Rhodes, Greece.

Pictures from Rhodes, Greece Pictures from Rhodes, Greece Pictures from Rhodes, Greece

Alanya Williams Day

March 28, 2007 -

John Heald

Morning Bloggers:Just a quick note to start. Did you know that we are now up to 62,000 bloggers or hits or whatever you call all of you who take the time to read this site. Let’s get T-shirts made — maybe even tattoos!For those who have been watching the Web cam today you will have seen that the ship has been experiencing a low front which has caused a lot of wind and consequently large swells.The ship has been moving a little because of this but it does not seem to have caused anyone to stop enjoying themselves.It is also quite amusing to see some people who are trying to find their sea legs. Many have their own cures – tablets, patches, wristbands, etc.  Some resort to the time old cure of drinking which seems to counteract the rocking and allows you to walk in a straight line! Even with all the motion, I must therefore acknowledge the brilliant cast of dancers and singers. Some of us have trouble walking in a straight line but they are on stage dancing their hearts out. They are the best !

This cruise has started well even though we have a different demographic than usual. This cruise we have 400 Asian guests who are originally from China but now reside in Canada. We are also happy to have 400 guests from Mexico and the Dominican Republic. My Chinese is awful as is my Spanish but at last nights Welcome Aboard Show everyone seemed to laugh and have a good time.

I even had a nun on stage “Sister Marjorie.” She was so funny and even played the spoon game. She said that she enjoyed being on stage but she didn’t want to get into the habit! It was a great night.

Today was a very busy day for me. It started with my 9:30 am Morning Show on the closed circuit TV. There was nobody — and I mean nobody — on the Lido Deck as temperatures struggled to go into double figures. However, it seemed from the number of callers to the show, many guests were watching from the cabin.

One of the first callers was a guest named Paul Williams from Gaylord, Michigan. He wanted me to know about his wife Alanya. He told me that she had just retired from teaching after 33 years at the same school. Alanya was a music teacher and often stayed behind for hours locked in the music room teaching the kids after hours. What made her even more special was that she had been a foster mother to 21 children, as well as raising four kids of her own, including her daughter Melissa who at age 14 experienced an illness that left her confined to a wheelchair. He wanted me to know that she had never asked for any recognition or reward but could I do something special for her.

So, after a bit of thought I decided to make tomorrow – March 29, 2007 – ALANYA WILLIAMS DAY. Her name will be placed in the daily bulletin and the Captain will sign an official proclamation that states that for the rest of the Carnival Freedom’s life every March 29 will be Alanya Williams Day. This will be presented to her in a ceremony tomorrow night.

As the son of a teacher, I know how hard they work and how important they are in our lives. They should be paid millions!

P.S.
Below are some pictures from Turkey. The first is the ship arriving in port. The second as on overhead shot of the city. Spectacular views!

Carnival Freedom arrives in Istanbul, Turkey Overview shot of Istanbul, Turkey

A Freedom Cruise

March 27, 2007 -

John Heald

Morning All.

First of all, replies to a few messages.

Kathy and Paul – Movie Contract – OK. Which actor would play me? Let me know.
Barbara – Your message has been passed and she was nearly in tears.
Ed – The mountain range you saw on the web cam in Naples was "Mount Everest" 🙂

What a gorgeous day today in Naples. I love this time of year in Europe. Spring is my favorite season, not to hot and not to cold. Still, summer is not far away and it won’t be long before I am gallivanting around the Mediterranean beaches in my Speedo.

Today I pay homage to the 80 guests who missed the ship yesterday and arrived today in Napoli. Their flight was cancelled when a catering truck hit the wing of the aircraft on the runway at JFK.They spent the night in a hotel and arrived looking pretty miserable today. I met them in the lobby along with our fantastic pursers and we did our best to make them feel welcome.One can only imagine the frustration of having to spend your first night of your vacation in an airport hotel instead of aboard the newest ship in the world. I will be paying them special attention at the show tonight.

Today in Naples we were docked next to a U. S. Navy ship whose guns and flight deck were bristling with activity. I stood on our bridge and watched what was going on. Watching the men and women go about their daily business was an amazing sight and then I watched as many of them arrived on the flight deck, armed with their cameras, and started taking photos of the Carnival Freedom.

Why were they doing this, was it because they new it was the newest cruise ship in the world or was it because they may have been on a Carnival cruise themselves?

Then I thought that maybe, just maybe, the sailors saw our ship as a little piece of America and a flavor of what they had left behind.

Later, I was talking to one of the directors of the Port of Napoli who told me that the ship (which obviously I cannot name) was stopping in Napoli for refueling and stores before heading to the Persian Gulf!

I have been thinking about this all day. Two huge ships, both full of young men and women, both sailing the Mediterranean waters.

One taking passengers on a relaxing and exciting cruise vacation, the other taking young men and women into a danger zone. Then I wondered if all those sailors had been taking photos because the name of the ship was the very thing they were going to protect, our…………………………FREEDOM.

Goodnight bloggers

What's a Cruise Director?

March 26, 2007 -

John Heald

We start with an apology. I am very sorry that I could post my blog thingy over the weekend so I hope you have not all lost interest and have found a better blog to read like Watchingpaintdry.com or even worse another Cruise Directors blog. I learnt today that an esteemed colleague of mine on another line that will remain nameless has started one. I wish him the best of luck and hope it is very successful (no, I don’t, I hope nobody reads it, get your own idea).

So, this morning started early at 5:30am. We have people with very early flights so debarkation starts at 6:00am. Please remember that in Europe you are still required to check in 2 hours before flying.
Anyway, I began my announcements and by 9:30am 3000 guests were on their way home. It is always a strange feeling saying goodbye to a group of guests you have got to know. It is easy to treat each group the same but they never are. You have to change your timing, content and tone depending on the demographics of the audience.
There is a misconception as well that all Cruise Directors are handsome, Armani wearing models. Well as I can vouch, I am very ugly and Armani does not make XXXL.

I am sure though my fellow CD of another cruise line who has started a blog is extremely handsome .( I bet he looks like he has fallen out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.).

However, as a Cruise Director called Gary Hunter, who I consider the best in the business, once told me that “The microphone should not change your personality, it just makes your voice louder.” This is so true and even if I change my content and tone, I always try and be the same on the microphone as off it. I am sure my colleague from another line who is writing a blog now has a great personality (similar to the Lesser Spotted Mongolian Bog Pig.)

This brings me to another contentious subject. I know some of you have remarked that various “characters” have appeared on multiple cruises and you are all of course correct. I do this quite simply not for myself but for the guests. I want them to be famous and recognized and even though their “stage name” may be the same, each person is very different. I love improvising with guests and it is the part that I love so much about my job.

I read recently on Cruise Critic that one man “hated me” because I had been doing the “same act” for eleven years. Not true, it’s twelve and as long as I hear laughter and see people smile, I will keep making these people famous and allow them to be in the limelight. I also read on Cruise Critic that a Cruise Director on another line was doing most of my routines. I am happy that my shows are now on another line and wish that Cruise Director many great shows (get your own jokes or I will come over there and set Willy Banger on you.)

Anyway, back to today. At the beginning of my travel talk, I interview three random guests just to show “who is from where.” My first was an gentlemen called Eddie Fortuna. He was here with his 7 kids, 16 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. He is Italian now living in Florida and for those people who do not speak Italian I should point out that Fortuna means RABBIT!

Boat drill was at 8:00pm tonight. We did it in Spanish as well as we have 400 guests from Mexico and the Dominican Republic. I just finished a little walk down promenade. There are not too many people about although the Casino is busy as is our Piano Bar.

Can I just answer a couple of posted questions.

Ed – You need a vacation mate – hurry up and get here and let’s talk:)

Jose – I promise you will see Stromboli; bring your camera.

Galadriena – A fellow python fan. We are the knights who say “Neeegh.”
Thais and Fabian – Please post ASAP your inlaws names and I will send them something special.
Lance & Ilda Gunberg from New Bedford, Massachusetts – I remember that cruise well. It was a tough and thank you for the wonderful words.

Thanks again for all the comments and I am sorry I can not reply to them all. We are in Napoli tomorrow and another early start for me.

Rather a random blog this one and even though I make fun, a Cruise Director really can make a difference to your cruise and I salute you all (even the one from another line who has stolen my jokes, my act,and now my blog; keep your hands of my wife!)

These are a few of my favorite things…

March 25, 2007 -

John Heald

Morning all……It is 7:10am and we are just arriving in Livorno, Italy. I would like to say the weather looks nice, but it actually looks very grey and damp. Livorno is the gateway port to discover such beautiful and stunning places as Tuscany, Florence and of course Pisa. Note the spelling I used here as I have noticed many ” tourists ” spell it the same as Pizza.

This leads me quickly to a story from 1997 onboard the Carnival Destiny. Just before I start this story, there are some stories told by Cruise Directors (myself included) that sometimes are a little – far from the truth lets say. However, this one is absolutely true – you just cannot make something like this up.

A lady guest went to the Information Desk very upset that the cruise was not going to the destinations that her travel agent had promised her. When the Purser (a great girl called Cassandra) asked which port she was referring to, the guest replied angrily “The Grand Canyon“. Cassandra looked at her and started to laugh thinking she was joking with her but when she saw the look on the guests face she realized she was serious. So, to cut a long story short it turned out after investigation that the passenger had thought that we were going to the Grand Canyon as promised by her agent. In fact of course we were going to Grand Cayman. She still was angry and promised that her agent would hear of her dissatisfaction when she returned home.

Anyway, back to the present and today 1600 people are leaving on ship tours to explore his beautiful region. Which to choose is hard and while I love Tuscany I do think that the tour to take is the Florence and Pisa combination. Pisa is a (get ready to groan) a slice of history (told you) that you must not miss. The tower really does lean at an acute angle and Miracle Square where it and the Basilica are set is a stunning place to explore. After lunch it is off to Florence to explore this beautiful town with all is glories.

It is now 10:00am and we are about to hold our life boat drill for crew only. A lot of guests think that we do this just at the beginning of every cruise but that is far from the truth. Safety is the number one concern onboard and before anything else all the crew must know what to do in a real emergency in order to save themselves and of course 3000 guests. So, each and every day there are drills and training that are undertaken all under the watchful eye of our Safety Officer who is responsible for all of these events.
So, time for boat drill, back soon.

It is now 12:45am. I just finished boat drill and then another Plaque Ceremony with officials from Livorno as this was the Freedom’s first call here. My wife is ashore getting essential items such as toothpaste, razor blades and hemorrhoid cream (we are friends now so we can talk about everything).

I am going to finish this blog by answering the questions that were posted by a blog reader called “Secret Agent” – some of you have great names, Stingray,Alannonce, Robocop etc, so I am going to change my blog name to spermofthedevil.hell.:)

Anyway here are the answers you requested, though goodness knows why.

Favorite Film
Tough one this and I had to go with two tied for first place.

The Godfather ( the original of course although 2 was intense and brilliantly acted nothing can beat Brando’s amazing portrayal )
The Hunt for Red October ( There is something about this movie that makes me want to see it over and over again )

Favorite Book
I read everyday. As tired as I am I cannot sleep without reading a few pages. I prefer biographies to fiction however I love the novels by Andy Macnab who is an ex British Special Forces soldier who writes about what he actually did on a fictional basis.
However my favorite book is also by him called Bravo Two Zero about how he was captured in the 1st Iraqi war………..one man’s personal nightmare captured in a book that will haunt you for weeks after you have finished it.

Who Makes Me Laugh
Well, that’s a tough one. The best laugh comes from you, yes you. Cruise ship guests are a wonderful source of entertainment ( as seen in the story I just mentioned ). However, from the world of entertainment there are two men who really do make me laugh very hard.

John Cleese – He is the master. Please, go rent Fawlty Towere today and see what I mean.

Ricky Gervais – He is the writer and star of “The Office” that I know is now so popular in the states.

Hardest thing about being a Cruise Director

Well, I guess you mean about the job itself and it is not easy to answer. I can not speak for other Cruise Directors for me it is not letting that one person get to you. In entertainment you are always going to have people who do not like what you say and do. My biggest trouble is not taking that personally however most of the time I do not succeed and do end up getting down on myself……………that’s show business I guess.

Of course there are other difficult areas just like any job but overall I am so lucky that Carnival gave a chance to the worst bar waiter in the history of Piña Coladas to become a Cruise Director……I am eternally grateful to them.

I apologize that this blog had no real subject, but some days are like this here onboard and I wanted to ” keep it real ” – wow, I have started using street slang now

So, its goodnight blogger  from me and ” stay cool my dog ” !

For those in peril on the sea

March 23, 2007 -

John Heald

They say that things happen in threes.

After the emotional rollercoaster of yesterday I was hoping for a normal day of FUNSHIP cruising and indeed it was until the phone rang at 6:50am. It was the voice you dread at that time of the morning – his masters voice – Captain D’Aita. Sure enough the news was not good and I was asked to come to the bridge.
I engaged automatic mode and quickly dressed and started to head for the bridge as quickly as I could (remembering to put the toilet seat down before I left).

Once there I was met by the Captain who told me that within the last 2 hours two guests had become seriously ill and the ship’s medical staff felt it best that we disembark them for immediate medical attention ashore. The Captain diverted the ship to Calabria, which is part of the Italian island of Sicily.
We arrived at approximately 7:30am and waited for the Italian Coast Guard boat to come from inshore to the vessel.

I made an announcement on the open decks and made sure that people understood what was happening. In the day and age that we live in, I think it is so vital that in any abnormal situation that a Cruise Director must keep everyone informed as much as possible.

Medical evacuations are not just a strenuous time for the patient but also the members of their family. It is not always possible to have the family member go with them as it depends on the size of the rescue craft.
Luckily, the boat was able to take both patients and their spouses along with the ship’s doctor and a nurse who accompanied them ashore and into the ambulance.
We waited for the medical staff to return and we resumed our course.

I always have a lump in my throat when this happens and I send my thoughts to them all.

I would like to take this time to pay tribute to Coast Guard agencies all over the world, from the Italians who helped us today to the volunteer service the RNLI in the UK and of course the brave men and women of the U.S.C.G. all who have rescued countless lives…………we sailors salute you all!

So, it was now time to head for Stromboli – what is that I hear you ask? Stromboli is a small island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, off the north coast of Sicily, containing one of the active volcanos in Italy. It is one of the Aeolian Islands, a volcanic archipelago north of Sicily. This name is a corruption of the ancient Greek name Στρογγυλή (Stroŋgule) which was given to it because of its round swelling form. The island has a population between 400 and 750.

It has been especially active recently and I asked the Captain if we could cruise slowly pass the island to allow guests a chance to view the continuous
eruption and hopefully see the lava flow into the sea. At 10:45am the guests all came out in the cold and somewhat windy weather and indeed saw something special. Instead of me describing it, here is a photo of what we saw today.

Pictures of Stromboli, Italy Pictures of Stromboli, Italy

I hope during your cruise on the Carnival Freedom you see the same majestic power that this awesome volcano can produce during it’s constant eruptions.

The day settled down after that and I hosted the debarkation talk and also described the many tours we have available in Rome. This year we arrive in Rome a full day and night before debarkation starts. This gives guests time to explore Rome and return to the ship instead of having to book a hotel for the night in after cruise package. This proved very popular as many guests booked tours. Bloggers – remind me in a future blog to tell you about a tour exclusive to our guests on the Freedom, the private and exclusive view of the Vatican.
I lunched today with some passengers on Lido deck and for the first time I tried our new Tandoor Barbecue. This features zesty Indian food which is just
wonderful. You must try it!. Indian food has always been a favorite of mine and I overindulged today with two large helpings of the spicy chicken; mmmmmmm.

It is now 11:35pm and I have just returned from the opening of our last new show here called Jump, Jive and Wail . This is a tribute to the era of swing music and received great applause from the audience. It has a surprise ending and you will have to cruise here yourself to discover what it is.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have asked me not to stop blogging. As long as I know people still want to read I will write. We reached 60,000 readers for which I am still unsure as to why.
A big hello to all those people who leave comments and the occasional question. I only wish I had time to answer them all.
Another big hello to the Mums of two of my friends who play in our Big Band on the ship. That’s Ben Burget’s Mum ,what a fantastic musician he is and I am sure you are very proud of him. Then there is Jana James’s Mum. I have known your daughter a long time and she is truly a great friend and I know she misses you very much and like Ben’s Mum you must be so proud of her.

So, it is bedtime………………I shall go to bed thinking of the two guests we disembarked, get well soon and of Stromboli and the eruption we all witnessed.

And …………………………..thanks to my over indulgence at the fantastic Tandoor barbecue, the telling of my wife is now giving me after I had my own quite large eruption !!!

Goodnight

Happy Birth Day

March 22, 2007 -

John Heald

It’s funny how things just happen. Today, was one of those days.

It started badly when I received news that a family member of one of our cast members had been tragically killed in a car accident. A Cruise Director is also a manager, a big brother and a Dad and I needed to be all three today. Obviously I am not going to discuss names etc, but I can tell you that there is nothing harder in the world then telling someone news like this and I have had to do it too many times. Those moments stay with you forever.
Being away from your family is the hardest part of being on a ship and I do my best to make sure that I look after each and everyone of the 65 staff members as best I can.
It was a sad start to the day and Heidi and I send our deepest sympathies to this particular family as they deal with their sudden loss on the other side of the world.

We were in Katakolon, Greece today and the weather reflected the day so far; cold and damp. My spirits were not exactly high as I carried out the normal duties of the day including a Public Address system test, a meeting with department heads and the final rehearsals for our new show which will open tomorrow night, Jump, Jive and Wail.

So, as 5:00pm approached and I prepared for my live afternoon show on the big screen and cabin television, I knew I would have to dig deep to find my Cruise Director smile.
I had the usual letters of romance, love etc and a couple of requests etc and I have to admit with the days memories on my mind I think I was probably running on auto pilot, something I hate to do.

I then read a letter from Kevin and Laura Usherman. Kevin had written a letter of praise about one of our crew members, the Internet Café Manager Tim. The letter stated that Tim had helped them purchase a laptop computer and wireless internet card while ashore in Greece, due to the popularity of the Carnival Freedom being totally Wi-Fi friendly.

I called the cabin live on my show to chat with them to acknowledge their gratitude to Tim. The phone was immediately answered by Kevin who said I could not have called at a better time. In answer to my question, why, Kevin told me that he was watching the birth of his grandchild live on his laptop. You see, his son had placed a web cam in the delivery room in the hospital in Tampa, Florida and here they were 4,000 miles away in the middle of the Mediterranean watching it live. Kevin stayed on the phone and gave me and the hundreds of viewers watching in their cabins a live report on what was happening right up to the point where he said he could see the head. I hung up then as it is really not a spectator sport.

Skip forward to now, midnight and I have just finished the talent show. I had brought Kevin and his wife Laura on stage and they proudly announced the birth of a 7 pound 3 ounce baby boy (Stuart). We all gave him a big cheer and a copy of the DVD of the show so Stuart will be able to hear and see that so many people were present during his birth.

So, from a very sad start but a very happy ending, this job never ceases to surprise me………………………………just like life itself.

Goodnight,

John

My wife's number 1

March 21, 2007 -

John Heald

Having had a very busy sea day as I did yesterday, I went to bed last night hoping that the following day in Athens would give me the first opportunity this cruise to relax a little.
So, when my phone rang at 5:30 am I knew either something was amiss or it was one of the many random lady callers who have discovered my cabin number.

I guess by now you have all realized that, yes, something was amiss.

It was the captain on the phone telling me the Port of Piraeus (the access port to Athens) was closed to all ships due to high winds and strong sea swells and therefore, I needed to come to the bridge. So, my body immediately kicked into “automatic mode.” It is amazing how over the years I have learned to shower,shave,clean my tooth,dress and take care of other bathroom activities in a 10-minute period while still virtually fast asleep. Speaking of being asleep, it is also incredible that as fast asleep as my wife may be, her radar is able to detect that I have forgotten to put the toilet seat down!

So, washed, dressed and looking like James Bond, I took the lonely 5:45am walk to the bridge. I had felt the shipping rocking gently throughout the night but I have to admit I was surprised that it was severe enough to cause a delay in our arrival in Piraeus. Once on the bridge, I was met by the Captain and I could see as the sun rose that indeed the swells were rather large. We spoke to the Port Authority who asked us to wait two miles outside the port for the weather and wind to dissipate.

The first tour was due to meet at 7:15 am, so I woke the staff and had them stationed around the vessel to let guests know what was happening. It is always a difficult choice as to when to use the PA system. I always want to keep people informed as In any situation there is nothing worse than not knowing what is going on. So began my three-hour stint on the bridge. I eventually informed the guests what was happening around 7:30 am with an announcement over the PA system — but only on the open decks and lounges (not in the cabins).

It was a long wait but eventually permission was given to enter the Port of Piraeus at 9 am (three hours later than scheduled ). By 10:30 am, 2,700 guests had left the vessel. The Captain and I arranged for the guests to stay an extra two hours which was well received by the guests. It is a huge operation to get everyone ashore so quickly and the staff again was simply outstanding. At 11 am, I met with the staff and we had a little debriefing (not referring to Mrs. Strutt’s underwear!) and made sure our personnel were all getting off the ship for a little rest and relaxation.

I wish I had something exciting to tell you about my afternoon but after two hours of e-mails, phone calls and other office work, Heidi and I went to bed for a blissful 1 hour and 15 minutes nap — until the phone rang, of course. It was the office to tell me that my scheduled entertainer for that night had missed his flight due to bad weather and I would need to reschedule the evening’s events.

Once again, my body kicked into automatic as I washed and showered and, just as I thought my day could not get any worse, I heard Heidi’s voice from deep under the blankets uttering those immortal words “PUT THE SEAT DOWN!

Now maybe you understand the title of this blog!

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.