Shaken Not Stirred

April 4, 2007 -

John Heald

Here I am again. Good Evening fellow blogists and hope you are all well. Can I start by telling you how deeply touched I am about the comments 40 of you have posted about my blog called YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE .

Hearing your own thoughts and remembrances of that fateful day have assured me that it was the right thing to do. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Time to answer a few questions from my new friends — all 88,000 of you.

LINDA – We do a scavenger hunt called “It’s in the Bag” and it’s hilarious. It will be one of many great activities I promise you will enjoy. Heidi sends her best to you and hopes to see you soon as do I.
JOANNE – One day we have to sail to your beautiful island of Malta. See you in May and please make sure you come and say hello.
CRUISINGCANUCKS – Thank you for being a blog addict. The only cure I know is for you to buy some Tim Horton’s doughnuts and send me some. As for the alcohol, there are many favorites among the guests and we have daily specials. The latest is something called a BBC – Banana Baileys Colda. I can assure you that you won’t have to drink to have a great time here. See you soon.
MARK – Mama was given the unofficial title as she has taken so many cruises and does get to know each and every crew member and always remembers their birthdays and other special occasions. She is a very special lady but not my mother!!
ED – I am employing you as my agent. You will receive 10% of nothing but all the buffet you can eat.

To everyone else I will do my best to reply to direct questions so please keep them coming. I will answer as best as I can.

Today we were at sea. The day started a bit overcast but did improve by the afternoon. The 2:30pm Matinee Movies have now become a HUGE attraction especially as we have the new big thick blankets. There must have been 400 guests watching the movie (Mission Impossible III) today even though it was a bit chilly outside.

We passed the volcano Stromboli this morning and, although it was not as naughty as last cruise, it was still spectacular. Then it was time for the Debarkation Talk and this culminated in the parade of crew members on stage. They received a standing ovation from the guests and it was a joy to see their smiles as they took their well-deserved applause.

I want to say a quick hello to Tim and Anita Reese who are sailing onboard and are having the time of their lives. They were supposed to be sailing with 4 friends who changed their mind at the last minute and decided to take a tour to China. Tim and Anita wanted me to tell their friends (who are reading this blog) that not coming on this cruise and going to China was the WONG decision as Tim and his wife are having the best vacation ever. Hopefully, we will see their friends next time.

I was asked in one of the blog questions about the role of the Godmother who christens the ship. This is, of course, an old seagoing tradition and the honor is bestowed on a very important person or public figure. The Carnival Freedom’s godmother was Kathy Ireland who is a beautiful and charming lady and performed her duties perfectly.

Once the ceremony is over though the Godmother tends to not stay in contact with the ship directly although I wish sometimes that on the anniversary of the christening that they would send a card or something……..maybe Kathy will read this and will do so. Regardless, it was an honor to meet her.

It is however with respect that I must tell you of my favorite ceremony ever and also one of my proudest moments as a cruise director. The ship was the Carnival Legend and she was christened in my home county of Essex in the U.K. at the port of Harwich back in 2002. The ship was there for two special cruises to the Baltic and I was given the privilege of hosting the pierside naming ceremony. It was a beautiful sunny day and for the first time in years I was nervous about hosting.

Why, well let’s see. The red carpet was out. I had all the top Carnival people on the stage with me including Micky Arison AND Bob Dickinson and all the Carnival executives. In the audience was my entire family including Mum and Dad and my wife, of course, along with my sister and family. Playing and marching up and down the quay was the greatest marching band in the world the 50 strong The Band Of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines and sitting on my left was none other than DAME JUDI DENCH. I was wearing brown pants for a reason!

I then had to give a speech about the ship and the ceremony and then introduce this icon of stage and screen. The speech went well and everyone laughed in the right place and then I introduced Dame Judi. Up she stood and then from three feet away from the microphone a huge and powerful voice proclaimed how excited she was to be chosen to be the ship’s godmother. I was in ecstasy as “M” from the James Bond movies said thank you to me for the wonderful introduction.

After her speech up she stood alongside Captain Claudio Cupisti and as the Royal Marines played a fanfare she cut the ribbon and the bottle of champagne flew towards the bow of the ship…………………………and then……………………………………………… bounced straight back again with a slight dull thud.

Time froze, the band kept playing as everyone stood aghast. Quickly, we tried again by hurling the bottle on the rope against the bow, but still the bottle would not break. This is considered a very unlucky thing to happen as any sailor will tell you and the looks on some of our experienced seamen were ones of pure anxiety.

We made a quick decision and we walked the captain and Judy and the very uncooperative bottle of champagne to the gangway. the Captain and Judi grasped the bottle In their hands and smashed it against the ship. The bottle broke into thousands of pieces and we watched in what seemed to be slow motion as champagne showered Dame Judi soaking her and her no doubt expensive dress. We all gasped and without pausing dame Judi smiled, wiped away the champagne from her eyes and started laughing as then did all of us. The band played, people shook hands and the newest ship in the world had been christened all be it in a very unconventional way.

I escorted Dame Judi back to her stateroom where she changed and we went back to the bridge where I asked if I may have a photo taken with her. She of course said yes, and that photo now has pride of place in my Dad’s office at home.

Never missing a chance the incomparable British press came up with a banner headline for this photo – it read:

Judi Drench

For me it was a special day and with true British Stiff Upper Lip Dame Judi  had saved the day. It was a proud day for me and I cannot think of anyone I would rather had Hosted and spent time with as godmother………….except maybe Angelina Jolie.

Goodnight Bloggers

Your friends

John and Heidi

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.