Vacation Time

May 21, 2007 -

John Heald

Good Afternoon Everyone

It’s 6 pm on Monday, May 21 and Carnival Freedom has just left Katakolon, Greece. The Mediterranean Sea is calm and the sun is shining. The guests were all dancing up a storm at our sail away party and talking of Greece you should have seen the lobby last night. The Wave Duo who perform there every evening hosted a GREEK NIGHT and we had a Greek crew member teach the Zorba the Greek dance as they played their Greek bazooka instruments. There were 300 people packed into the lobby and the same amount on the decks above all trying to learn the dance, it was a great night and wonderful to see.

It led me to think that maybe I need to introduce more “ethnic” entertainment into the mix and will be proposing to my mate Roger Blum back in Miami that we hire a Turkish Belly Dancer to perform in the lobby. Now, I know what you are thinking, but you are wrong, this is not some personal fetish of mine…………..OK, maybe just a little bit.  But I think it would be a fantastic thing to see as we sail between Izmir and Istanbul………………what do you bloggers think? Let me know, and maybe we can add this to our program. I remember on the Carnival Leg End in 2002 we hired a traditional Scottish pipe and dance show during our trip to Glasgow and we even piped in the Haggis! 

What else has happened in the last 24 hours? Ah yes, Mr. and Mrs. Salter were part of the Marriage Show. They have been married an amazing 67 years. Mr. Salter is 95 and his wife Olive is 88. Bill Salter is a veteran of WWI and WWII and he proudly wore all his medals on formal night. I had a lot of fun with them on stage and when I asked if there was any advice he could give to all the honeymooners on surviving a long marriage he said “sex, whisky and poker.” Of course, that brought the house down and they have become quite the stars since then. Afterwards, I went back to the cabin and thought about what he said that sex, whisky and poker were the secrets to a long marriage. This has me worried because I only get to do one of the three….. I love a good game of poker.

Here they are:

 Mr. and Mrs. Salter Mr. and Mrs. Salter

I am looking forward to my long vacation of one-and-one-half days days and Heidi will be the boss when I am away………actually she is the boss when I am here, as well. I fly from Pisa Airport on Wednesday and back into Rome on May 25 and straight back to work. I am really looking forward to seeing the family especially as its my Mum’s birthday. I have hired a car from Stanstead Airport and the word “compact” is worrying me a little bit! I will also have breakfast on May 24 with my mate Alan Adkins. We always go to a little café called The Arches. There we will have a traditional English breakfast. I know I shouldn’t but it’s a special treat once a year. Here it is:

Traditional English Breakfast

A full breakfast with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, black pudding, mushrooms, baked beans, fried potato, fried bread and half of a tomato.

Alan will no doubt fill me in on his exploits as a commander of our local rescue boat. The organization he works for is called the RNLI. This is a volunteer service that spans the length of Britain’s coastline and they are a wonderful group of men and women who give up their free time to save lives. Here is a link for you to read about. When Alan is not saving lives he can be found cruising at The Cliff Pub………what a life. Here is a photo of Alan.

My mate Alan

So, all in all I shall look forward to a relaxing 48 hours ………….but………….I will miss Heidi very much  🙁
Time for today’s, Q & A.

RACHAEL LOESCH – Welcome back home and thank you for letting me and all the bloggers know how much you enjoyed your Carnival Freedom cruise. I am glad you liked the gift I sent you and also the shows that made you laugh. I have passed your e-mail to Joe your wonderful waiter and he was excited to receive it and will be e mailing you shortly. I hope we get to sail again soon and until then please keep reading the blog thingy.
DORTHE CALIMBAS – This is one addiction that I am happy to hear that someone is suffering from. As long as you need your addiction fed, I will keep blogging. The cruise director you mentioned for Princess who works on the QE2 now “Brian something” sounds like he is right at the top of our profession so to be mentioned in the same paragraph is indeed an honour (spelled correctly ). You mentioned the Royal Princess, I will have to ask my PA if she is still part of the fleet so I will get back to you soon. You mentioned the book, I have had dozens and dozens of requests from the blog and from guests onboard to have these stories put into one book and I am really pursuing the idea with the office………..bloggers, would you buy it? I don’t want to be left with a thousand books and just my Mum reading it! Please let me know if you think its worth doing and, of course, adding more true stories from the ocean wave. Thanks again for cruising with us and I hope to hear from you very soon.
ZSOLT – I have done as you requested and passed on your e-mail address. How is your Mum doing? We have all been thinking of her and I hope she likes the photos that I will mail from Livorno. Best wishes from all of us here.
ASHLEY BLAIR – Thanks for telling your brothers to start reading the blogs, are you their BIG sister? How fantastic that you are all cruising together on June 6. There are a lot of bloggers sailing and I Heidi and I are excited to meet you all. See you soon.
BOB MEANS – Thanks mate for your loyal support to Carnival. I must admit that the comment where the travel agent said, “Only cruise with carnival if you have tattoos” really pi%$ed me off, and anyway, what’s wrong with tattoos? I have one of Angelina Jolie ! Now, as to your question if Carnival will ever cruise to Australia or South America. The answer is YES! Now, I know of no details as to when this will happen but I know that this forward-thinking company will one day fly the flag in every corner of the world and I am sure that will include the places you mentioned. Who would have thought I would be on a Carnival ship blogging to you between Greece and Italy. As soon as I get any information I will let you know………..watch this space. Thanks again for your words of support and if the travel agent is in question is reading this blog, I challenge you to come onboard and see what Today’s Carnival is all about.
BILL ZYDECO CRUISER – Yep, name the spa on the Carnival Splendor is here. Bill, any suggestions?
VERNON – The Trevor you are referring to is Trevor Block now on the Fascination. I see you got a kiss on the cheek, I am now very jealous. Please keep working on Dean and if you need further assistance let me know and I will “send the boys round”  🙂 Thanks for your sincere words and keep reading the blog.
CROWN GOLFER – Have you won a crown playing golf? I love golf, just shot my first 79. I would have shot a 78 but on the last hole the clowns arm came down and blocked my ball! How wonderful to celebrate your silver anniversary on one of our ships. Which ship are you cruising on? I will as requested keep blooging and hope to hear from you soon.
STINGRAY 310 – Wee Jimmy, Karl with a K, Risa Barnes and Mark Price…….all mentioned by you and all very important parts of the best entertainment department in the business. I know them all well except Karl with a K who I have not met but I hear great things about him. I will pass your praise on to them and Chris and Roger in our head office. Thank you also for your kind words about myself and I too hope that we can cruise together again very soon. I am also happy that the blog allows you to take a “cruise in your mind” and, hopefully, this will keep you going until you walk up one of our gangways again and I send you and your family my best wishes until then.
GACRUISER – As the song says, “It’s A Small World.” Fancy meeting people who lived from your hometown just like that. I may have said this before on another blog thingy but its only on cruise ships where people take the time to meet and talk to new friends, you don’t get that with hotels. I hope you can cruise again soon so you get another chance to meet people who live just down the street.
DAISY – Ducks, lions, tigers, oh my!  We do (if requested) have unsupervised meetings for Rotarians and Lion’s Club members and, of course, I will be happy to arrange this once you are here. I will place this in the Carnival Capers on the last sea day and provide a lounge for you to meet in. See you on May 25 and have a safe flight.
MARCO CALDAS – Thank you for your e-mail regarding employment. I have passed this on to the people who are coming to Brazil and they will in turn contact you very soon. I wish you much luck.
KATHY – You see, she touched my knee and I turned into a parking lot. And now a love song entitled  – She Sits Among The Cabbages And Peas. You can kiss a nun once, you can kiss a nun twice but you mustn’t get into the habit.
These were just a few of Malcolm Kennedy’s catch lines that made him a true legend………we all miss him very much and thank you for allowing me a chance to pay tribute to him.
CJ – I feel very privileged that your first cruise ever will be with me here on the Carnival Freedom. I promise to that myself and all of the excellent Carnival crew will do our very best to make sure you have the most fabulous vacation ever and after this you feel that cruising will be the only way to go. See you very soon.
MISSINGTHESMOKEFREEPARADISE – Depends are now standard issue to all cruise directors as some of the things guests say and do will always ensure laughter beyond belief  🙂 I have a spare pair should you need them when you next sail.
PAM – How happy I am that you are coming on the bloggers cruise. You asked about the Jamaican tours and I will be planning something special for that one cruise and I will let you know all about it very soon. Heidi loves vanilla by the way and she says a HUGE thank you for thinking about her. 237 days and counting…………….until I get my roller ball!
STINA – You asked about how often I get to go home. Carnival is very good to me and I can go home whenever I feel I need a break and usually every four to five months, I take a couple of months off. This year however is a very busy European season and rather than take a large block of time off, I will have a few days here and there and a longer vacation in the winter. Hope this answers your question and if you have anymore I am standing by to answer them. Hope to hear from you soon.
KAY DUCKWORTH – I am glad you choose the Carnival Freedom next year for its return to Europe. This is a wonderful ship and you will enjoy the historic and beautiful ports of call. You asked if I will be onboard in May next year. I will certainly try to be as the plan is to do the first few European cruises before I go to the Carnival Splendor. I have heard great things about the ice show you mentioned on RCI however you wait until you see our Big Easy and Ticket To Ride shows which once again have taken cruise ship entertainment to a new level. As for Heidi and I “Dancing on Ice”…………….I think we have once again entered the realms of fantasy. I want to say a big thank you for your sincere words about Carnival and Heidi and  I will see you next year.
JONATHAN HALL – So, your question, when do I have time to relax………….answer……………November. Seriously, it is  not an easy thing to do especially now with the blog being so important. However, I do make sure that Heidi and I find some time each day, even if for just 30 minutes to switch off and talk about us. The hardest specific about this job is that you can never “not be the cruise director.” If Heidi and I decide to go for a drink (Diet Coke for me) and listen to some music and a guest sees me and wants a chat, I can never say “Sorry, I am off duty.” That part is sometimes hard. I also make sure that before going to bed I read, even if it is just a few pages. Doing this helps me sleep and not think about the next day’s project. So, there you go, its hard but I love the job and Heidi and I are privileged indeed.
BLES1045 – So no pressure then. If I am not the cruise director you say you will cancel your Carnival Splendor cruise. God willing, I will be there to once again share the fun with you as we sail the Baltic.
ALAN and CHRIS – The final payment has been I see for your September cruise. You asked about which night to eat in the supper club. If I had my way it would be every night but if I personally had to choose one it would be the night after we sail from Venice, there is something special about that particular night. If you want to contact me via this blog thingy I will be happy to make reservations for you a few days before the start of the cruise. Thanks for writing and see you in September.
JO MYERLY – Thanks for the Princess link concerning their rewards. I have again passed this up the ladder as it seems to be something that many guests feel strongly about with the counting of days cruised rather than the number of cruises. Thanks again and I will be looking into this further.
SUSAN B – Hello to you, a white-legged, red-haired faithful Carnival Cruiser. Your Ghost Lady story was very funny. Heidi is missing her sun bathing time which is limited at best here with her busy work schedule. Personally, I hate lying in the sun. I find it so boring, I would much rather be doing something that gets me close to the history and culture of the place I am visiting………and………………..I do not look good in Speedos. I am so happy to hear you have booked the bloggers cruise and I will see you in January.
CARRIE AND IAN – Greetings to you both in Germany and thank you for your wonderful service you are currently giving the U.S. Army. You asked about dress code on the Carnival Freedom for your June cruise. Well, we have two formal nights and I must be honest that over the last few years I have seen more men shying away from the traditional tuxedo in favor of a business suit. Both will be fine here and if you wear a tuxedo your husband will not “stick out” as you mentioned………..unless his fly is open of course  🙂 So, I guess the answer is just for him to wear what he is most comfortable in. I know this will be your first Carnival cruise and Heidi and I will do our utmost to make it and your 10th anniversary a very special one.
RUTH AND JOY CAMERON – Sorry for the lack of postings over the weekend. Its hard for me to post something on a Saturday or Sunday but I will try harder, promise as I know people expect a blog thingy every day. I wish the reason had as you mentioned been Angelina Jolie and I meeting for drinks in Cannes but for some strange reason she favors that man Brad. What does he have that I don’t? See you on Friday and travel safe.
JONATHAN HALL – Thank you for the link to the Cruise Gal web site. I have never heard of this site before and you are correct indeed it is very interesting and very useful as well. I am glad you have been enjoying the Web cam on the ship and just think in a few days you will be here for real. See you in a few days.
MISSINGTHESMOKEFREEPARADISE – What a great idea you had about holding a Veterans Day party onboard using the Big Band and playing music from that era. I am definitely going to do this using some of the ideas that you took the time to suggest and share with us all. I just spoke to Charlie our musical director and we certainly have enough tunes to have the big band play. Hopefully this will be a great salute to those brave men and ladies. Thaks again for taking the time to write such a detailed posting.
KATHY – It sounds to me that you are going to be on the front row at every show. If you are laughing as hard as you are now just by reading the blog thingy I cannot wait for you to see the shows in person. We will continue the Greek Night as requested even if it is a cruise when we do not even go to Greece. See you soon and keep laughing.
DEBBIE MANG – Hello Debbie and congratulations on choosing the Carnival Freedom for your sixth Carnival cruise. The number 13 is often associated with being unlucky, but I promise you, that this, your 13th wedding anniversary will be the best anniversary you ever had. Heidi and I look forward to seeing you soon.
BIG ED – Thank you Big Ed and your son Chad for the pictures of your train layout. My dad is loving the attention and the train information. You continue to be a BIG help to me and this blog thingy. How is Mrs. Big Ed? I am ready to put operation A-Team into effect and drug her milk, so when she wakes up, she is on board the Carnival Splendor in Europe.
GRACE – Thank you for your kind words and YES the weather has really warmed up, it’s going to be 90 degrees tomorrow in Livorno. You asked about taking a tour upon arrival in Rome. I personally would only do this, if you do not have time at the end of the cruise as jetlag is something that could hinder your enjoyment. I am very excited to hear that your six-year-old loves historical sites, when I was six, I loved Scooby Doo. I definetely think your six-year-old will enjoy Pompeii and I am sure, if he has a love of history already that Pompeii will give him everlasting memories. See you in June, have a safe flight.
MELISSA – While beer is not one of my strong subjects, I will pass you to Heidi. Hello Melissa, I am sorry to report that we do not have BUSCH LIGHT beer on the vessel. However, as well as the normal light beers I am proud to say that we offer the best light beer in the world, HEINEKEN LIGHT. Brewed in my home country Holland. I will buy you one and you could tell me what you think. Proost!

It’s a sea day today and we just finished our passage through Stromboli. Here is a photo of how the island looked today.

Stromboli on May 21

Not much lava activity but plenty of smoke. So, this afternoon, after my TV show, I will pack a suitcase for my long vacation. Somebody had posted that my mother was 80 years old, which I have been told by my mother that I am to correct immediately by informing you all of her correct age which is “30 something.”  Here unfortunately, is a photo of my mum and the unfortunate aspect is that she is holding a photo of me taken when I was just a wee lad.

Mum and Me

 I feel very proud that I can leave Heidi in charge of this ship while I am away. She has come a long way from being a part of the youth department on her first ship, the Carnival Destiny, in 1996. I will miss her very much but the ship is in great hands.

I fly tomorrow at 10 am from Pisa to London Stanstead and I have to say, I hate flying. I hate the concept of being at 30,000 feet. Why do they give us oxygen in those little masks, they should give us helium, I want to become a human hot air balloon if anything should happen and if it does, I bequeath all my underwear to Angelina Jolie……something for her to know that I cared.
I once did a 10-hour trans-Atlantic flight from London to Miami with the most annoying woman next to me. She didn’t mean to be annoying, in fact, she never said a word the entire flight, she just sat there……………….from take off…………..to landing……………………and just knitted………….and even with the headphones on I could hear the click….click……click of her needles and I found myself becoming hypnotized by watching whatever the hell it was she was knitting growing in front of me. That was on Virgin Airlines, I like Virgin Airlines but I am worried that they won’t go all the way  🙂

Next week I will be releasing some of the gifts that we will give away in our bloggers cruise mystery bag and I think you will like them.  I will also send a blog home on Friday and tell you a little something about what I have been up to during my vacation.

In 2004 Heidi and I were vacationing in Jamaica at a villa called Silent Waters near Montego Bay. It was paradise for us, quiet, nobody bothering us and most importantly it was eight days where I could rest my voice and enjoy just being “the grey man.” On returning to Miami, Heidi and I stood in line for Immigration. As cruise ship crew we have learned to expect the various questions and finger printing that is part of the job and understandably so. Having had such a relaxing vacation we were not worried about anything and being a cruise director was far from my mind as I approached the Immigration Desk.

We stood there as the Immigration Officer looked me up and down with a quizzical look on his face. He said nothing for a few moments and just fixed me with an icy stare. I started to think that maybe my passport was not in order or that I had suddenly become Americas Most Wanted. A bead of sweat started its path from my neck down my spine. Officer Hernandez as his name tag told me continued to look at me and at my passport and then he leaned forward and said……………You don’t recognize me do you. My voice trembled, “No, sir.”  Officer Hernandez said, “My wife and I were in your Marriage Show and you made me kneel down and sing to my new wife.” ………..He paused….and I had visions of a latex glove and I getting to know each other on a very personal level………….he continued…………”It was the best time we have ever had and thank you for making our honeymoon cruise.”

And then he stamped our passports and waved us off with a huge smile and as we walked away my cheeks unpuckered themselves !

I will write from home.

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.