A Tale of Two Sheiks

April 25, 2007 -

John Heald

Good Day To You From Istanbul.

It’s a beautiful day, the sun is shinning and there are no garments on the bathroom floor because the Mrs. is coming back today.

So, I need to start on today’s blog because we have things to do when she comes back. …………………stop it, I know what you are thinking (especially Big Ed) but I am talking about sorting the mountain of paperwork which seems to have made its home on my desk.

And now, pray silence for the Q & A Session.

MIKI176 – Hello, Michelle and I am glad you had a safe journey home from your April 7 cruise. Your praise about the Pisa tours are well noted and I have passed them on to our shore excursion department. I have done the same for your stateroom steward and dining room staff and I have also posted your comments on our crew notice boards. I am very proud to work alongside such great people. I am glad you liked the Bedtime Story, it has proven to be my signature piece and I still love doing it even after all these years. I hope to write a book one day as I still have lots of stories to tell. Until the next time we meet Heidi and I send our best regards to you and your family.
JERY CALVERT – The average square footage is 185 square feet  – nice cabin but why not treat yourself to an ocean view! Let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.
JO MYERLY – The best way for you to see Florence and Pisa is to take the aptly named FLORENCE AND PISA TOUR. This will take you first to Pisa for a two-hour tour including the tower and cathedral (you do not climb unless you want to………….400 steps ). Then we have lunch included at a great restaurant then it is a one-hour journey to Florence where you will have free time to shop at the Ponte Vecchio bridge. It is our most popular Livorno Tour.
As for the airport the first bus does leave for the ship at 9:30am and I think you will find many improvements now at the airport itself. Bring some Euros for a cup of coffee. See you soon and my best to Dave.
JOHN AND LISA – Congratulations on becoming a Platinum Club Member, I hope you enjoy all the wonderful benefits that go with it and just think in 490 cruises time we name a ship after you! I must admit that sometimes I do find it hard to sit and blog but the rewards are knowing that I am able to help so many people. Heidi is due back in about an hour and I will pass on your kind regards. See you both soon and please keep reading the blog thingy.
ANN MARIE – Did you just GAFAW over your screen.? I did this one time with a can of Diet Coke when I opened an e-mail that said 25,000 had read the blog thing in just one week! Please keep reading and hopefully we can keep laughing together. Now, go and clean your computer screen.
ANETTEALI – Buenos Nachos. Gracias para el blogo commento abouto myo bedtime Story O. This is a thing I do with three guests on stage and often it results in a great deal of physical abuse for me. As I mentioned above, it is my favorite show to perform. I cannot believe that you still have videos of Michael Andrew and I. If you ever come and sail please bring them with you as I would love to see them. Mucho Gusto and keepo bloogero reado…youro amigo Juanito.
KERSPLOTT – What a fantastic cruise you have planned on the Carnival Freedom, 28 days will be sensational and I hope it brings as many memories as the last trans-Atlantic cruise did. The 6 clock changes are fantastic but not so much fun going the other way. I am still waiting patiently for the Splendor itinerary and I am sure you will not be disappointed when you see it! Have a wonderful summer in Alaska and I hope to visit your beautiful part of the world very soon.

BREAKING NEWS…………………….Janet (jkeller527 Cruise Critic . WE FOUND YOUR RINGS…………THEY WERE STILL IN THE SAFE TUCKED IN THE FAR CORNER. THEY WILL BE SENT TO THE MIAMI OFFICE AND THEN ONTO YOU. NOW, HOW ABOUT THAT FOR THE POWER OF THE BLOG! Hope this cheers you up and I am very happy that you will have them back soon.

LINDA HERNACKI – Thanks for saying I am young, Linda.  I certainly do not feel it at the moment. Delivering a new ship is always a challenge and I have been going since February 10 and I must admit to being a little tired. The book will come one day and I am sure there will be many more stories to tell. Carnival Triumph is a great ship and I promise you a great time sailing the Caribbean. Heidi will be home soon and as you quite rightly say I have missed her very much. Thanks for the information on the Freedom run on 2/23/08 and you are indeed correct that it is the Eastern Caribbean run that it will be doing. Best to you and Mike the Saw.
INEZ – There are cruises you never forget and as I mentioned in a previous blog “You’ll Never Walk Alone.  The cruise you are referring to was one that I will never forget as you say neither will you. How wonderful then that we got to meet in April last year for the Carnival Liberty’s trans-Atlantic. I am truly humbled by your words of kindness and the memories I have of the tribute show will be everlasting. I sincerely hope we get to see each other very soon.
ALAN AND CHRIS – What great news that in September you will take your first Carnival cruise here in the Med. It will be a vacation to remember and if you need any information or suggestions me and the bloggers will be happy to help. You also ask if you will get the Red Sox and having checked with the doctor onboard he said not to worry if you do as he can give you some cream for it  🙂  See you soon.
CINDY AND BOOOOOB – Guess what, in six days you will be here. Have a safe flight and please leave me a note when you get onboard . See you soon.
BUSTER6195 – Hello mate and congratulations on choosing the best of the Naples tours with your exploration of Pompeii, Sorrento and Capri. Please note that if you do book your tours online and then hear something that you would rather do you can indeed change it. Come along to the adventure talks and see what wonderful tours we have for you to enjoy. I am having a conference call on Thursday to discuss the Bloggers Cruise.
DAVID – I was very interested in the podcast suggestion. I know Frank in the office is looking into this as a source of adding to the blog thingy. Lets have a chat about this when you sail as I agree That it sounds fun although I must admit to not really understanding how it works. Thanks mate and see you soon.
LINDSAY – Congratulations on choosing the Carnival Miracle (remember to give her the full name):
The Carnival Miracle was the last of our award-winning Spirit-class of ships and she will be sailing to some fantastic ports including Grand Turk and St.Thomas. You must try the supper club and do not miss the shows including the spectacular Ticket To Ride. The cruise director will be Brent who is a great entertainer and I know you will have a brilliant time. Please let me know if you need any further information or advice.
DOMINICK AND LINDA – Diabetes is a pain but I only have myself to blame (that rhymes). Anyway, not to worry and I am keeping good control on my sugar levels. I cannot believe you are already packing for the 12-day cruise in October, but as you asked there are two formal nights on the first and last sea days. It will be here before you know it. See you soon and best to you both.
BIG ED – Hello D.O.M.A.S.S. and thank you for my cyber-celebrity status which has a lot to do with you. For this reason I need a chief reporter and photographer (C.R.A.P.) to follow my celebrity status and therefore I proudly offer you the position. Best to Mrs. Ed.
MIKE – Thanks for reading the blog thingy and I hope you enjoyed your cruise on the Carnival Pride. The best way to secure a job as entertainment staff is to obtain some microphone experience and inter action skills. For further information check out www.carnivalentertainment.com which has full job descriptions and contact information. Good Luck
SEWING NUT – Hope you did not drop a stitch typing that great information for HIJEAN. Thanks for sharing and this is what this blog thingy is all about.
KIM NOTTINGHAM – is Nottingham your last name or is that where you are from? Anyway, for your back to back cruises the menus will probably be the same as the ones I posted with a slight change here or there. This means you will have tough choices ahead and as I have tried EVERYTHING on the menu (except the desserts) please let me know if you need any help deciding.
CE’S AT SEA – Great name for a group by the way. I promise to give a shout out to your illustrious leader and yes please remind me. Here are the answers to your questions.

1. The Laundry detergent we use is TIDE, it comes in a red box and says it is hypoallergenic, whatever that means. You can also do laundry the way I do by throwing your clothes on the floor in a corner of the bedroom and the next day as if by magic it is clean.
2. We have lots of private car tours in the Med because some people prefer not to tour with other people. This can be a fun way to do it so contact me onboard when you get here for further information. Unfortunately there will not be time to drive from Spain to France but remember we are in Cannes the next day.
3. Lets chat together onboard about the fluffy ones who want a Gondola ride, we can make it work for you.

See you all soon and please keep reading.
VIKKI AND MAT – welcome to the land called blog. I received your e mail so please keep reading and a warm welcome from all of us.
MEHYDER – You are too kind. I don’t like to ask but I do hope that I will be able to sail one day on the QM2 and as for the TV show I think it could only benefit the cruise industry to have a weekly hour long show just for them whether it is presented by me or not. Let us see what the future brings.
BARBARA AND JIM – Congratulations on getting the Carnival Leg End in Tampa, it has been and always will be one of my favorite ships. I know Ron well and please send him my best. Please ask to speak to the hotel director Shanaz when you board.  She is a great friend and colleague and please give her my best and ask her “HOW IS COLIN.” I loved the story about the couple from Michigan and it proves that the cruise industry provides such great opportunities to meet new friends. Let me know what you think of the ship and write soon.
PAULETTES MUM – You asked what is my favorite show on the Carnival ships. That is a difficult question to answer but I must go with: ROCK DOWN BROADWAY and TICKET TO RIDE. My best to your daughters and please keep reading this blog thingy. By the way, I once danced in Rock Down Broadway wearing a G String !
MTSFP – I am sure your Essex is not much different to my beloved home town and we must discuss this when you sail.Thank you so much for your kind words about the blog and you are correct it does feel like one big family of bloggers.Thanks mate and see you soon.
JILL NEWMARK – Your kind words about the purser’s Office and especially Elisa have been passed on. I hope you continue to read the blog and I am happy that you feel like you are already aboard. Hopefully, you will be here one day for real.
PATRICK TYE – Email me your address mate and I will e mail you a cd…………also check out www.gavinahearn.com.
NEIL MAXWELL – I would love to do an interview for your Website but these sorts of requests have to be coordinated through our public relations department. Please allow me to get back to you and good luck with the website.
GEORGE AND LINDA – I have sent a message to Dino and I am sure he will be able to look after you both. I am sure it will be 24 fantastic days aboard the ship. See you soon.
SUE – You see Sue, I had this image in my mind that your daughter was still at school not married with a family of her own. However, I think it is fantastic that you and her get to spend some Mum and daughter time together on the Carnival Freedom. I agree with you that the best way to see Dubrovnik is to take the Best Of Dubrovnik Tour, it will show you why this is a highlight stop for many of our guests. See you both soon.

Heidi has just called, she is leaving the airport and will be here in 20 minutes….one last check to see if I left anything on the bathroom floor.

And she is home and sends her best to everyone. I have not seen her for seven days and even though I have to finish this blog  thingy it is time for a little romance…………………….back in five minutes!

And here I am. Seriously though it is wonderful to have my best friend back and I am a much happier person for it.

I wanted today to tell you the story of two sheiks. By sheik, of course, I mean Arab royalty of which over the years two have sailed on our ships.

The first – we will call him “Sheik 1″ sailed with me on the Sensation back in the early nineties. My mate Roger Blum was the hotel manager and we talk about this story all the time. Sheikh 1 had booked all the suites on verandah Deck for himself, his staff, his security and his..ummmmmmmmm…………entertainers !!!! He obviously did not like variety in his entertainment as all were blonde, tall and aged 21 -25 years old. Anyway, he spent all his days in the Casino or having massages and both the spa manager and the casino manager had smiles the size of his wallet. We were a few hours away from entering the port of San Juan when Roger called me. Sheikh 1 had instructed his staff to find a restaurant in San Juan that served Arabic food and Roger and I were tasked to find one.

I knew a friend who had some shops in San Juan and he was Lebanese and I thought he might know somewhere so I gave him a call. Indeed, he did find somewhere and called the owner who on hearing who would be dining there tonight promptly wished he had been wearing brown pants! So, Roger and I assured the Prince’s staff that we had found a great restaurant and all would be well. We arrived in San Juan and a fleet of limousines and buses pulled up. There was a total of 30 people from the Sheik’s staff and ummmmmmmmm……….entertainment and myself, Roger and a few others.

Now Roger and I had never been to this restaurant and really had no clue what to expect but our hearts sank and our bottom cheeks clenched together when we arrived. Have you ever seen the series Cops on TV? You know when they arrest people coming out of a shady bar who are dressed in vests with no sleeves. Welcome to the restaurant we had chosen for a member of the oldest and richest family in Arabia to eat at. It was a $%^& house…….plain and simple. Roger and I both thought we would soon be buried up to our necks in the Sahara desert with various animals taking turns to eat us alive. As we entered the restaurant there was a lot of bowing and scraping as the prince took his seat. He seemed OK so far but his staff were in their minds wishing they could cut off parts of our bodies and feed them to their various hunting birds we knew they had back home.

So the food came and so far the Sheikh had not spoken a word but the dim surroundings and furniture that had seen much better days did not seem to have ruined his appetite. Then, suddenly, he clapped his hands and one of the girls stood up, a staff member put in a tape and then the belly dancing started. Now this girl was fantastic as everything wiggled and jiggled in time to the music, in fact as she danced she nearly tripped over Roger’s tongue!

After dinner a small (and I mean this in a nice way) height-challenged man started doing tricks and running around bumping into things and generally looking like he had forgot to take his medication. Turns out, he was the court jester! The prince stood up and that was the signal to leave. He never asked for the bill of course leaving his staff to take of an amount he would earn in one second as the oil continues to flow in his back garden. We returned to the ship and he spent the rest of the cruise as he had done before in the casino and being…ummmmm……entertained. It was a night Roger and I would never forget.

Here is Sheik story number 2. This was in 1999 aboard the Carnival Triumph. We had a charter by a company called MUSICHANDLESTADT. This is a massive TV show in Germany and the entire ship was full of German guests who had paid to see the stars who were sailing. Also sailing was Sheik 2. He was onboard as the next week the show was switching to Dubai and would take place in the prince’s luxury six-star hotel.

On the formal night the wonderful Captain Angel Los,  a master at hospitality, invited the Sheik and some of the German stars to dinner in his dining room. I was also invited and I sat next to Sheik 2. The conversation was strained as the Sheik was very shy and his bodyguards waited outside to make sure none of us attacked him with a toothpick! Nothing was being said, some did not speak English and although the Sheik did he was quiet and seemed to be drinking a lot, not whisky, not wine but milk.

I looked at him and said, ” Sir, you seem to love milk, are you a MILK SHEIK?” Everyone stopped eating and looked at me as if to say – what did you say? The Sheik leaned back in his chair and a huge belly laugh echoed around the dining room and, of course, seeing that he was comfortable everyone else took the cue and started to laugh, as well. From that day forth he wanted to be known as MILK SHEIK and everyone on his staff was ordered to call him that. He then insisted on eating with us every night and we became the best of friends. I still e-mail him know and then and I have an invitation to his hotel. I have never gone but one day I must go and visit my mate the Milk Sheik.

Athens tomorrow and here is what you will see when you sail:

Pictures of Athens Pictures of Athens

Time for Heidi and I to take a walk on deck

Goodnight

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.