Angelina, where are you?

June 6, 2007 -

John Heald

So once again, I am on my own. Heidi left today and to mark her departure the weather here in Livorno turned dull and grey.

Good Evening everyone. Sorry to start with the blues but the cabin feels empty all of a sudden and, to make matters worse, I had to go and get my own coffee just now. Heidi should land in Holland about now and then she will be with her Mum for 10 days which they both need.

I have hung a photo of Angelina back on the wall and tonight after the Carnival Legends Show I will have a game of mah jong.

So, what else has happened?

Yesterday I met with two friends I have not seen for some time. It was wonderful to see them and that cheered me up after saying goodbye to Heidi just an hour before. One of the hardest things about working at sea is that as the company gets bigger each and every year the chances of meeting the people you have grown up with within the company get smaller and smaller. Still, it was wonderful to spend time with them even though I had to pay for the coffee.

As requested by a blog person yesterday I want to take this chance to chat with you all about the lifeboat drill and why we do it. Now, don’t touch that mouse and start scrolling down to the fun bits as this won’t take long.

Before I am a cruise director or before any of us do what we do onboard, we are sailors and the most important aspect of all our jobs is the safety of you the guest and all our crew. The lifeboat drill is held within requirements of international maritime law and everyone has to participate. It is amazing that many people each and every cruise on each and every ship try not to. They hide in cabins, bathrooms and on balconies and look astonished when they are discovered. Did you know that every cabin is checked by the stateroom stewards to make sure they attend? In a real emergency, it is the guests who do not know what to do that could cause problems and endanger the other guests.

There are three simple steps to saving your life in an emergency.

1. Before you sail and even before the drill itself, always read the safety information in your cabin. Now, I know that this is the last thing on most people’s mind when you get onboard but it should be – really, it should. It is so drilled into me now that whenever I stay in a hotel, I always look for the emergency escape route information. In some hotels I have stayed and an emergency arose I would just follow the cockroaches, they always know the way out. So, step one – know where you are going in an emergency.
2. Your lifejacket. This is the most important thing in your cabin and you should always know where it is. The staff on all cruise lines will show you how to wear it and you should always listen to this information very carefully.
3. This is the most important step. Remember, that the calm and orderly cooperation of all concerned will be essential to the success of an emergency operation like this. This is why it is so important that everyone attends the drill. Imagine what would happen if just a dozen or so run around not knowing what to do and where to go. It is also important to know that the safety training of all crew is on going each and every day. There are weekly drills, firefighting training, lifeboat and life raft maintenance, crowd and crisis management training as well as specific training for individual crew. There has never been a safer time to travel on a cruise ship.

Saying that, accidents still happen and the most common and most dangerous is fire. Now, some people come onboard and having seen that movie with Leonardo DeCrapio (spelled correctly) they think the ship can hit an iceberg or tip over. Nope, the most dangerous thing on board is fire. We have specially trained fire squads who are always on stand by should fire occur and they practice continuously. To help them with this it is so important that smokers only extinguish their cigarettes in the disposals provided for this purpose in the smoking areas. Please also, never throw a lit cigarette overboard or hot ash as this could blow back into the ship and start a fire.
Fire is the reason that we do not allow candles on board. So, for those romantics among you who wanted to festoon the cabin with candles – you can’t. Again with fire prevention in mind, we also do not allow heating elements in the cabins such as Irons – I have no idea what an iron is or what it is used for but they are forbidden in the cabins.

There is obviously much more involved to safety onboard than what I have written so please, please listen to who ever gives the instructions during the drill and always read the safety notice in your cabin and talk about it with your family. There is always a “it will never happen to me” attitude, which is normal but as safe as ships are these days — and as recent events have proven — it could happen. And if you know what to do, you will be able to save your life.

I remember when I first came onboard nearly 20 years ago, a captain said to me and all the new employees at our first safety meeting “Before you are waiters, before you are housekeeping or bar staff, before you are dancers and photographers, before you are anything YOU ARE SEAMEN”………….how true.
Let’s do some Q & A

ROCHELLE – thank you for asking about my November schedule for this year. I am still not certain as to where I will be for the entire month. I think it will depend on how long I can go without a break. I was supposed to have 12 days off as of yesterday but I canceled that. Let’s see what happens, is there a specific cruise in November you are already booked on, please let me know. Please keep reading the blog and let me know if there is anything I can do for you.
LETI – Welcome home and I am so glad to hear that you had a great time on your May 13 cruise. The fact that you laughed the entire 12 days makes me feel very good indeed and I am glad I helped “put a bit of bounce” in your lives. You mentioned the waiters in the dining room and how much you enjoyed them. Do you remember their names? If so, please let me know and I will pass on your regards to them. I am sure they will remember you because you say “you were the loudest” table in the dining room. Have you thought about your next cruise? If you need help deciding, please let me know. Until the, please keep reading the blog and I hope you enjoy it.
MATT AND VIKKI TILL – Ahhhhhhh, James Bond references. I do think Mrs. Knee High was able to be a James Bond villain, I can just imagine her sitting in a big leather chair, stroking her cat and saying, “Mr. John, one day all mah jong games will be mine.” As for me being in the same ilk as James himself, I can understand the comparison. All I am missing is the Aston Martin and a beautiful Bond Girl — say someone like Angelina Jolie — and the transformation will be complete. Mrs. Knee High has left me shaken but not stirred and throughout I am proud that I never lost my composure and gave her the gold finger. I hope one day I get my Aston Martin Vanquish – I have changed from the DB9 to the new V12 Vanquish and I feel guilty about what I have just written about Mrs. Knee High so I will take her for a ride in it………..and…………….if she even starts to moan………..I am pressing the ejector seat button.
Thanks for the great comments guys – keep them coming.
DAVID FROM BARBADOS MON – This blog is amazing, not because of me but because it has morphed (I love that word) into so many other things including now a motion sickness home remedy blog. David, I am now declaring that you officially in charge of all home remedies on this blog so if anyone of my bloggists have home remedies concerns for anything from back pain to hemorrhoids (I need the latter), we now have David from Barbados who, using the island’s natural resources, can and will provide information on all known ailments. Thanks Mon.
KERSPLOTT – Glad to see there is another who has used the “don’t speak to me I am listening to music” method on a plane, even if the batteries had finished hours ago.
You asked why we empty the pools at night. Although we do not always do this we do it when we can. There is a rule that we have to empty the pools once we are a minimum of 12 miles outside a port and then we can refill straight afterwards. This allows us to have clean water in the pools which again we have to do according to various health regulations. It is strange but l have many guests like you who love the rough weather and there is certainly something exhilarating about seeing the sea spray flying everywhere although dodging the piles of sawdust can be tricky. Thank you so much for all your comments. I hope you keep enjoying the blog.
INGRID Z – What does the Z stand for? Jack, I will indeed do as requested. I am sure they will have a great time and I will pass on how much you miss them and than you have the remote control ready for 12 days of watching what you want.
IVANA – Good, I am glad my suggestions were of some help and again, should you require help on your honeymoon night then I will be happy to help in anyway I can and so will many other bloggers I am sure. Maybe David from Barbados has a home remedy that can help. um…enhance the night. See you both soon.
WENDY – I never thought of using Mrs. Knee high to get fit, great idea. I have often thought about making a fitness video and I may I could combine it with the blog. If I attach a treadmill to the desk I could walk and blog at the same time…..nope…………that’s multi-tasking and as the Carnival executives will tell you, that is not my strong point although I am working on my multi-tasking skills…………..I now pee in the shower…………….it’s a start. Thanks for your comment and I hope to see another from you very soon.
SEWINGNUT – Once you were lost but now you are found. Your question did indeed get lost in cyberspace but I found it by accident when I was surfing the web thingy and found your question on www.buyjohnanastonmartinvanquish.com. So, here is the answer to your “ships draft” question. The ships draft here on the Carnival Freedom is 27 feet. It does not sound a lot does it when you consider how tall the ship is. You wanted the answer in centimeters and therefore the answer is…………I have no clue, get a calculator 🙂 I will tell you if you can knit something for me. I am going home in the winter and it will be cold, so can you knit me a woolen G String. I will pay you $50 – Canadian for this essential piece of equipment. Thanks in advance and get sewing.
LOOKINGFORWARDTOTHENEARLEYSMOKEFREE-CARNIVALFREEDOMANDTHEENTIRELY-SMOKEFREEPROMENADEEXCEPTTHECASINO – There, you now have the longest Blog name in the entire world. Thank you for saying you are proud of me and indeed I will never schedule movies as you have written. I have met many captains who would not be happy chappies if I did play the “T Movie” onboard. I will add another few letters onto your blogname the next time you write.
BIG ED – Do you like your new logo? Where have you been, were you stuck in a booth? I haven’t seen anything slapped on from you for a few days. Thanks for the comments about Angelina, I will be writing about her in a few moments. I tried the grits and I have to say they are an “acquired taste…………TWICE!” How is Mrs. Big Ed? Where is this place you go with no phones, Internet or television…can I come? Now, you are going to have to help me with the bodacious word that you have been using today as I have not got a Scooby Doo what it means. Let me know please.
CINDY BRUCE – Hello Cindy. The mug you are referring to is available from the gift shop, so, I will get one and send it to you. Now, if I send it to you for free, I will have to buy 310,000 mugs which, although I would love to, this would take away from my Aston Martin Vanquish fund. Let me investigate with the shop manager if we can do this through his head office, I am sure we can, so let me get back to you ASAP. Keep reading the blog and your mug will be with you soon.
SUE GROHOL – Your story is a little bit sad. There you were, all alone, standing on the deck, hanging on to the railings in gale force conditions just so your son and daughter could see you on the web cam. Only motherly love would go to that extreme. I see also that you lost your luggage on your cruise, my sympathies as I know how that feels. Thank you for the wish of warm weather and calm seas and I hope to share those with you someday soon.
SHARON AND CHRIS – I think Mrs. Knee High spoke better English than she let on. I have one tiny, last installment regarding her coming up in a moment. I will look forward to meeting Paul and Catherine and extending them a hand of friendship. Thank you so much for your kind words about Heidi and me. We are very humbled by them. See you soon I hope.
STIX123 – I wondered if anyone would pick up on my Run Away Monty Python reference and here you are. I wanted to use so many Python quotes on Mrs. Knee High. She was like the lady from Fawlty Towers who complains about the view from her hotel window located on the English Coast. As I remember it goes like this.
Lady Guest: “I am not satisfied with the view from my window.”
Basil Fawlty ( John Cleese): “Well, that is the view of the sea, madam.”
Lady Guest: “It’s not good enough.”
Basil Fawlty: “Well, may I ask what it is you expect to see out of a Torquay (England) hotel window. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Krakatoa, Hoards of Wilder Beast sweeping majestically across the plain.”
Lady Guest: “I expect to see the sea.”
Basil Fawlty: “You can see the sea, it’s between the land and the sky.”
Lady Guest: “It’s not close enough.”
Basil Fawlty: “Well, may I suggest that you move to a hotel nearer the sea or preferably in it!”
Oh, to be Basil Fawlty for just one day. Bloggers, if you have never seen these 12 episodes of comic genius, rent it today and think of me as Basil. Thanks to Stix123 for allowing me a Basil moment.
LYNN AND MIKE SAGARA – What wonderfully written comments and I can see you wrote them straight from the heart. Thanks, first of all, for your comments about James the cruise director, I am glad that you enjoyed him and will pass on your comments which I know he will appreciate. The story you told about the waiter was beautifully written and maybe I can explain why. Many of the crew have kids of their own and of course being away from them for six months at a time can be heart breaking. Therefore, the sight of another family all together must be so hard for them. It is important that we all remember that many ships crew throughout the industry are all working to provide better lives for their families back home. As you stated, a small word of hello, thanks or just engaging the crew in simple conversation means the world to them. I wish everyone were like you Lynn and Mike. Thanks again for your comments and I look forward to hearing from you again very soon.
JTODDINMAN – Great idea. I do try and give the guests as much information about the ports both on stage, through videos on the cabin television and also through this blog thingy. I wish we could put more in the Carnival brochure but that would make it into the size of a coffee table book. Therefore, your suggestion of linked Web sites to port Information and history is excellent and already being looked at by Roberto in the office. I think it’s a great idea. Got anymore? Your comments about the blog itself are most welcome. We now have 310,000 smashes on the web site since March and I hope to keep going for a bit longer. Take care and please write soon.
DAVID – Venice on your honeymoon — how fantastic. For our honeymoon, Heidi and I went on a cruise…well………actually we delivered the Carnival Liberty so I owe her a honeymoon. She wants a cruise on Princess in a suite and first-class tickets home to the UK. I have nearly worked it out except we have an inside deck 1 cabin with hammocks and as for first class, well, it s actually third class but it is the thought that counts, right? So, you asked what tour to do in Venice. I think you have to do the EVENING GONDOLA RIDE TOUR on day one and then walk around St. Marks at night afterwards and stand on the Bridge Of Sighs and think, what the hell have I done………….kidding……..and think how lucky you are that this lady said “yes” and agreed to spend the rest of her life with me. There is no better place to do this than Venice. On day two, I would suggest the Murano and Burano Tour. These outer islands are stunning and full of beauty and the tour does not involve much walking which considering you will be on your honeymoon and therefore EXHAUSTED is a good thing. Have a wonderful wedding day and see you in August.
BILL – ZYDECOCRUISER – Hello mate – Yep, it looks like all the Carnival Splendor Northern cruises are indeed sold out according to the web site. I am not surprised as many Bloggers booked it straight away and it has proven to be very popular. Your cabin is next to mine so we can swap……………..stories 🙂 Bill, thanks for letting me know about Bob’s new book, I had no idea it was out. The first was so popular and if bloggers would like to send their travel agents a gift or discover some amazing insights into the cruising world then buy this book.
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/070604/clm047.html?.v=85
PAUL F. PIETRANGELO – Hello Paul, how are you today? Let me start by answering your question about the weather. You asked if it has been usual to have as much rain as we have had so far this season. Based on the two previous seasons I did on the Carnival Liberty, the answer would be no. We certainly seem to have had more rain this season than before but I know this will change. Please do not let the weather put you off taking a Med cruise. As for February and me being on the Carnival Freedom, the months of February and March for me are still uncertain but I will certainly try and be on the cruise you and your lovely wife are sailing on. As soon as I know my schedule, I will let you know. I always appreciate your comments so much and look forward to the next one.
GERRY SCHWARTZ – What a brilliant story. There are indeed many people who cruise year round on ships especially on Holland America and Cunard. They do this for reasons you have mentioned in your brilliant posting. Cost, treatment, service, food, fun, shows and ports of call for a price that living ashore cannot match. I hope all the bloggers have read your story and let’s all think about living the rest of our lives together on a ship. I am not sure Gerry about the burial at sea bit, I don’t like the idea and I can’t swim either. Thanks again for this most unusual posting and I hope you have more stories to share.
SOUTHERNDREAMS – I could answer your question but I think I may step over that line again. Are you still in Pooragon?
JO MYERLY – OK, your wish is my command. Here in Ken the maitre‘d’s own words are what happened. Now, to set the scene I had announced on the morning show that anyone who grabbed Ken’s cheek and playfully told him he was cute would win a prize. Sure enough around 50 ladies (and 2 men) did this but here in Ken’s words is what Mrs. Knee High did.
As you made the announcement on TV, which I missed, so it was all to my surprise when the dining room opened and the first couple of ladies pinched me. I thought, that’s nice.
Then about 40 more did it, so I had an idea something was up – my cheeks were beginning to swell. One of these guests was our Chinese friend, and she insisted that she get a gift. I was not aware of what gift I should give her, but she was shouting at me. She said that “John said he would give me a gift.”
I had to call your assistant to provide the guest’s cabin number and told the hysterical lady that a gift would be delivered. The next day, at breakfast, the lady came to the dining room and literally ran at me, grabbing my lapels, and shaking me, telling me I was a liar, that she got no gift.
I had to tell her to keep her voice down. She continued to shake me, eventually she left frothing from the mouth, and shouted back at me that I was “bad man who hate Chinese people and one day I be in prison” — !
The funny thing was, I am six feet tall and to reach my lapels she had to keep jumping in the air! Never a dull moment, mate — Ken.
CAPTAIN CHUCK – Your comments as always are well received Captain. May I ask what you are a captain of or is it an honorary title? OK, as far as the Alaska port info. is concerned I have forwarded that to a colleague and you can expect all the correct information ASAP as my knowledge of that area is limited….actually……I know nothing about it at all but I know a lady who knows everything. Regarding your question as to if I enjoy blogging or not. Well, I honestly don’t think I could do this if I did not enjoy writing. I hate, with a passion, computers but the reward is seeing all the comments and knowing that everyone is enjoying reading my musings. Thanks Captain and I will get right back to you with some Alaska information.
JO – let me start by wishing you a very happy anniversary for June 30 and I will be here to wish you it personally. You asked about what time you can leave your luggage on the ship on embarkation day. Well, debarkation usually finishes at 10 am and then we need a few hours to prepare the ship and the cabins for our new guests. This means that guests embarking do not get to go to their cabins until 1 pm. Now, after that you can go ashore and back to Rome but by the time you get there it will be virtually time to come back. You also need to consider the tiredness factor. As for your choice of Portovenere, this is one of our new tours and it, along with the other place you will visit which is called Lederche, will provide you with total old Italian charm. Did you know Portovenere is also the home of Italian pesto sauce — yum. See you in a few weeks and great ready for a memorable anniversary.
JILLIAN – Don’t worry about my vacation, it would have been great but Where Duty Calls I will be there. I am happy to hear you enjoyed so much your April cruise and I will be seeing you again soon I hope. Please keep reading the blog until then.
RONSANGEL – hello to you and Ron and welcome to the land of cruise blogging. Let me start with the answer to your question about taking your next cruise on a Carnival ship and my suggestion for a ship and itinerary. There is so much to choose from with sailings for three-, four-, five-, seven-, and eight-day cruises to the Caribbean, Alaska and the Baja Mexican coast. Also, of course, we have 12-day European cruises, as well. Here are three questions I need you to answer and then I will narrow your choices down for you.
1. How long do you want to cruise for?
2. Are you beach type people or do you prefer active tours and destinations?
3. Where do you live?
Now, as for your question on working onboard, let me say that Carnival is excellent at trying to keep married couples together on the same ship. However, it takes a very dedicated couple to handle working and living together in what can be quite close conditions. If you need further employment information, please let me know and I will direct you accordingly. I look forward to hearing from you and my best to you both.

OK, I now have blisters on my fingers so thank goodness that is the end of today’s Q & A.

Now, let’s get talk about today.

This morning we disembarked 3,047 guests in Rome. As they head home I reflect on what was a great cruise and, barring the weather in Venice and the day the sea got mad, all went well. I therefore will miss 3,046 of the guests! Watch out Holland America, she is heading your way.

The weather today in Rome is sunny and I have already received letters from bloggers who joined the ship today. They come bearing gifts including sugar-free candy and this, an Aston Martin Vanquish as given to me by Gregg and Linda.

an Aston Martin Vanquish as given to me by Gregg and Linda an Aston Martin Vanquish as given to me by Gregg and Linda

I thank them and everyone who brought me gifts and I hope they all enjoy the goodies I send to their cabins.

Can you also join me in saying CONGRATULATIONS ON 30 YEARS WITH CARNIVAL TO MY FRIEND AND VICE PRESIDENT ROGER BLUM.

CONGRATULATIONS ON 30 YEARS WITH CARNIVAL TO MY FRIEND AND VICE PRESIDENT ROGER BLUM

Without you knowing, Roger has had an impact on each and every cruise you have all taken on Carnival. This may have been on the hotel side or in entertainment but his 30 years have been one of the reasons that Carnival is still The World’s Most Popular Cruise Line. Congratulations Roger……Oh, Roger wanted me to tell you he started working for Carnival when he was 12.
AND NOW I NEED YOUR HELP, PLEASE, I NEED YOUR HELP.

In approximately one year from today I will be joining the Carnival Splendor to prepare her for her inaugural season. Therefore it is time to get serious and help fulfill a dream and have ANGELINA JOLIE AS GODMOTHER.

I need you all to help me lobby for this. I have searched the internet for an official web site for her but to no avail. I therefore do not know how to continue. It’s not like I can get my PA to call some famous movie producers and say “Hey, can you get me Angelina’s number please” and they write back and say – yeah – here is her agent’s number, give him her a call. If only life were that simple.

Therefore, can I ask you to write to Carnival through this blog or directly and say that we want Angelina. Is there an official fan club? If so, can you write to them for me? I am going to be blogging just about each day for the rest of the year and this will rejuvenate me. In all seriousness, I think that she will make a great godmother. She undertakes amazing charity work and it has nothing do with the fact that I dream about her every night imagining that we are skipping through fields of tulips……OK , SORRY, SLIPPED AWAY THERE BUT I AM BACK.

So, Big Ed and the gang of regulars. I hereby bequeath you to go forth and findeth me the fair Princess Angelina and maketh her see that she should indeed be the godmother of The good ship Carnival Splendor……….Thanks in advance…………did I come across as desperate then?

Heidi is home and I miss her a lot. I have spent the hours leading to my travel talk e-mailing jokes to some friends and finishing this blog. Now it is time to go and talk about Naples. The first talk is the hardest. It is the first time people meet you and those first few minutes on stage will decide if people want to listen to what I say……first impressions and all that, anyway off to the talk and back soon.

Here I am. That was a very tired group of people but that is understandable but all went well and shortly it will be lifeboat drill time.

I hope you enjoyed this blog and thanks for helping me realize my dream and get Angelina to smash that bottle. If we are able to convince her to serve as godmother, drinks are on me.

Oh, one more thing, I walked out on stage just now for my talk and guess what, the entire front row………………………..CHINESE PEOPLE

I wonder if they would like a game of mah jong.

Bye for now.

Your friend,

John

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.