Having One of Those Days

September 8, 2007 -

John Heald

Good afternoon from Livorno and the summer still has its hat on….hip hip hip hooray …..Sorry, I just felt like singing.
One person who does not feel like singing is Michael Garcia. Who is he, I hear you cry? Michael is the poor chap who this morning walked off the ship to go on his tour, stopped on the gangway to have his photo taken with his wife and was trying to talk on his cell phone at the same time and ….well…..you know the rest. He was distraught and he came over to where I was standing on the pier with the shore excursion manager, Fillip, and was nearly in tears as he told me that his phone was at the bottom of the sea. I asked him if it was an expensive phone.. “No” he said, not really.” Why are you so upset then?”
I questioned.. His answer as witnessed by me and Fillip…”It has a photo of my dog on it. It’s the last one we took together before he died.”He then wiped a tear from his eye….and so did I.

So that was the start of my morning and things just got worse from there really. Here is why.

1. The shuttle bus drivers decided that they would have an extra hour in bed so instead of a 7:00am start they arrived at 8:00am so we had a line of people waiting – hence my appearance on the pier.
2. In my travel talk for Livorno, I warn the guests that the pier is …well…..dreadful. It is an old industrial pier where they put all the cruise ships. On the pier itself there are large rails sticking up out of the concrete – the rails were where the large cranes used to run up and down the pier loading on containers. Anyway, they are highly dangerous and I always warn the guests to be careful. This morning, as I was walking back to the ship a guest called for me to stop and have a photo…I did. I turned to walk back to the ship and….yep….that was me lying on the pier to the applause of those guests and staff who witnessed it…bugger!
3. Dusting myself down, I walked back onboard feeling sorry for myself. I sat down at the desk, turned on the computer and…nothing…nichts, nader, jack, bugger all…nothing…just a blank screen staring back at me. I called the computer room for assistance and they came down and after a lot of talking and probing behind the machine they told me in very technical terms….it’s broken….we will have to take it away and that was me then without a computer for 3 hours….bugger!
Ok, I got my computer back and apparently it was the wire at the back that had decided to end its relationship with the rest of its friends and a new friend had been found who was doing the right thing and the computer now worked.

I wanted to share this press release with you about the grand old Queen Elizabeth 2…enjoy.

Historic 40th Anniversary Voyage For QE2

Valencia, CA – September 7, 2007 – Next week, on September 15, QE2 sets off on an historic “lap-of-honour” around Britain to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of
her launch by Her Majesty The Queen on September 20, 1967.

While the primary purpose of the voyage is to celebrate the anniversary of QE2’s launch, two other significant Cunard anniversaries will be marked: the 100th anniversary of Mauretania’s departure from the Tyne for her first sea trials on September 17 (the day QE2 will also be on the Tyne) and the 40th anniversary of Queen Mary’s final departure from New York (September 22).

Since she came into service, QE2 has had a spectacular career and is now simply the most famous ship afloat – quite probably the most successful liner ever. She has hosted every senior member of the Royal Family at least once; has welcomed Prime Ministers and Presidents, including Nelson Mandela – around the world; and has been host to a multitude of celebrities and film stars.

So far, she has traveled 5.6 million nautical miles, which is further than any ship ever. That has included 25 circumnavigations of the globe, 801 transatlantic crossings, 705 calls at New York and 697 at her homeport of Southampton, and the welcoming aboard of 2.5 million passengers. In September 2005 she became the longest-serving Cunarder ever.

But, of course, in addition to exotic voyages and ecstatic welcomes, QE2 has had her share of adventures – not least in 1982 when she was requisitioned to carry 3,000 troops to the Falklands War. She returned bearing the survivors of HMS Ardent, Antelope and Coventry.

The 40th Anniversary Voyage, which sold out soon after going on sale in 2005, begins in Southampton next Saturday with a farewell lunch on board for 350 invited guests. When QE2 sails at 5:00 p.m., she will be played off by the Band of the Royal Marines and escorted down Southampton Water by two tugs firing water jets.

The following day will see her move close to the coast at Flamborough Head at 11:00 a.m., and she will be clearly visible from the shore (weather permitting) all the way to the Tyne. Thousands are expected to turn out to see her pass in coastal towns on the way, including Scarborough, Whitby, Sunderland and Hartelepool – where small boats are expected to sail out to greet her.

The maiden arrival at the Tyne promises to be spectacular, with QE2 being escorted by a flotilla of boats and a concerto of Northumbrian pipes to the accompaniment of daytime pyrotechnics. As the ship progresses up river, the Tyne will be turned into a “virtual” red carpet by the use of aqua flares.

On September 18 the ship will be on the Firth of Forth, where she will welcome on board the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, and she then sails round the north of Scotland to arrive on the Clyde on September 20, exactly 40 years to the day of her launch.

There, in Greenock, the guests of honour at a celebratory lunch will be 100 workers who helped build the ship. They, and Cunard guests on board, will be
treated to a 23-minute display by the Red Arrows.

The exact moment of her launch – 2:28 p.m. – will be marked by the sounding of the ship’s whistle and a recording of Her Majesty The Queen launching the ship
will be played over the tannoy.

The following day, September 21, sees the ship in Cunard’s spiritual home, Liverpool, where the company was based from 1839 to 1967. QE2 will be one of the first ships to tie up at Liverpool’s new cruise ship terminal, due to be opened that day by His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent – who will come on board after the ceremony for lunch on QE2.

A spectacular highlight takes place that afternoon when there will be a magnificent Celebration Concert at the Anglican Cathedral, to be attended by all QE2 guests and local civic leaders. The concert, starring soprano Lesley Garrett, Scottish tenor Nicky Spence, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, the Liverpool Cathedral Choir and the Band of the Scots Guards, will be a rousing mixture of patriotic and popular music guaranteed to stir the emotions. Tributes will be paid to QE2 by regular guests Sir Jimmy Savile and Carol Thatcher.

That night, QE2, her guests and well-wishers will witness the spectacle of a splendid midriver firework display.

On her final day at sea (September 22), en route back to Southampton, activities on board will mark the last sailing of Queen Mary and, after dinner, QE2 will pass her newer sister Queen Mary 2 outward bound for New York – the first time two Queen liners have passed at sea since Queen Mary passed Queen Elizabeth in mid-Atlantic for the last time 40 years ago on 25 September 1967. Guests on both ships are expected to be out on deck for this historic occasion.

The eventful voyage ends in Southampton on September 23.

What a fitting way to say goodbye….her farewell tour will surely be the highlight of the year…except of course the Spice Girl’s reunion.

Here are some photos of a new tour we will be starting next season on the Carnival Freedom and on the Carnival Splendor called Sailing To Cinque Terre…these are the five small villages south of Livorno and, as you can see from Jamie’s photo, they look sublime.

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

Here is a photo of me on the Celebration in 1989 with Steve Cassel – Cruise Director. I was just a Social Host then.

Here is a photo of me on the Celebration in 1989 with Steve Cassel - Cruise Director. I was just a Social Host then.
Here are the letters from today’s In Their Own Words Section.

In Their Own Words

In Their Own Words

Time for the Q and A featuring a last few from the blog about The King Of Queens and then as many as time will allow from the blog called Nessun Dorma.

LFTTNSFCF – I was thinking that some people reading my blog thingy must think that I make some of the “comments” up…I truly do not. Actually, this is the reason I slap on the actual e-mails and letters so you can see for yourself. Sometimes, I do disguise the names or delete them completely if I think they may be upset if I was to include the person behind the comment but I assure everyone the comments are real. Your words for Pavarotti were just perfect…I too will miss his god given voice and we will tribute him every cruise here onboard. I am glad you are excited about the Exclusive View of The Vatican and although the Italian Countryside Tour is really great, you will not be seeing the area at its finest in late October. Just a thought. See you soon mate.
THE BEARS – CARL AND BARB – I am thrilled that you enjoyed the interview with Mr. Ray Rouse, indeed, what a life he leads. The interview with John Cleese should be happening in the next 24 hours and I am very excited. How are you feeling, do you have any news? Please know that we are all thinking of you and this will continue until you tell us that all is well, which I am sure will be soon. Keep eating your Spotted Dick and I will post another of mum’s recipes soon. Heidi and I send our best to all of your family and especially you.
KEVIN – As there are so many of you, I have decided from now on, to call you Mr. Vanquish on the blog-thingy. The fact that you own one should be advertised as much as possible. I tried to open the web page you sent me but for some reason, the little security guard who lives inside my computer said: “My web needed sense” and wouldn’t open the page. Roberto, can you open and forward to me? So, Mr. Vanquish, thank you so much for trying mum’s chicken curry recipe and your espresso chocolate mousse will be made for my dad by my mum in the little town where they live and is sure to become an International success. Thanks mate, you are a star.
GREG BALDASARRI – Thank you for understanding through your own experiences what I go through each and every day on board. I am glad that we are able to smile together and long may that continue.
SUZANNE 217 – Interesting that you should think of Oprah to be godmother of the new Carnival Splendor. I am not certain, but I think she may have already done this for another cruise line or has been associated with another cruise line.
Anyway, I would certainly consider this. It certainly would give this ship some wonderful press. However, I am still hoping for CZJ and I am now going to start sending out messages to her via any way I can. Thanks for all your kind words and there will be another recipe from mum soon.
SHERYL PELTON – I am glad you are enjoying the blog. See you on board.
SUSAN B – You deserve a free cruise based on your hilarious posting alone. More so, you deserve a huge thank you for your beautiful words for Southern Dreams and for Barb. Thank you for praying for us both and if Heidi does discover she has a bun in the oven, then I will be asking you to pray that when I walk off the plane in the U.K. someone has leased me an Aston Martin. Seriously, we are very grateful for all your kind thoughts which we return to you. Oh, Happy Birthday! 29 again?
CAROL SCHOENBERGER – We felt neglected a bit there Carol, you talking to everyone else. Just joking! I agree with you Carol that Pavarotti was a true maestro and his voice will live with us forever. I will be talking in a minute about the future of the blog, so stand by. Hope you enjoy the John Cleese interview, I am very excited and a little nervous. Great to hear from you as always, hope all is well.
IVANA – Everyone has seen my crest, except me.
GREGG – Thanks mate for sympathizing with us here on board. I must not forget that the stories the guests provide are an important part to this blog-thingy. Cheers mate.
BIG ED – I am picturing you now, sitting in Wendy’s, eating a spinach salad using the internet. Are you actually camping? Where are you staying? The T.V. channel with faith based programming on it is a great idea and this has been passed on to all the ships in the Caribbean and Alaska. Unfortunately it won’t help us here in Europe so I continue to ask for help from the guests. Write soon Ed, I need to picture you in a tent.
RUSS AND NINA FRANKLIN – As you will see from yesterdays blog, I used your crest and my mum said: “Oh John,” while my dad thought it was brilliant, especially as he is the original Fartus Odorus (especially after eating brussel sprouts). You are both wonderful people and I am in your debt.
JAMIE FRASIER – Jamie, your show was fantastic and I had so many people say that you were the best big band singer on the ship that cruise… They did say
that you were ugly and that you needed help with your dress sense and that your hair looked like you had just rented a moped and taken off the crash helmet.
Apart from that, they really enjoyed you and we are looking forward to the next time that you are here..except the one girl who said you needed to use more
soap. Heidi says I have to be nice to you and admit that your standing ovations and the hundreds of comments from guests prove that you are indeed a brilliant
performer…even if you do smell. See you next time.
EBB TIDE – Hello for the first time to someone who has been reading the blog since June. I am excited to hear that you will be sailing with us on September the 22nd and I hope you will leave me a note at the Information Desk the day before your special celebrations. There will be many a red sunset for you to enjoy. See you soon.
LAUREN – You probably need a cruise after reading all the blogs back to back. As of today, I have written 157 blog thingies. I hope I haven’t hurt your eyesight. Anyway, welcome to the family and please keep reading and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.
DWA 76 – I felt it only right to pay my respects to Pavarotti and the concert we showed on the Seaside Theatre was a fitting testimony to his amazing talent and larger than life world he lived in. He will be missed. I am glad you enjoyed Heidi’s sunset photos, they really were beautiful. I am sure our new Spanish venture will be another massive success and part of the continuing story of this amazing corporation. I am glad you enjoy the blog and as always, great to hear from you.
VICKI – You will have a fantastic time on the Holiday and look out for the character in the photo on today’s blog-thingy, Steve Cassel. He is incomparable at what he does, please if you have time, give him my regards. Heidi and I wish you a fantastic cruise and enjoy the deli sandwiches.
DAVE AND BARB – I have so many questions I could ask Mr. Cleese including ones about his career so far and future projects. I have tried to make my questions a little different. I am also interested in what he is doing on the Queen Mary 2. Most of all, it will be a privilege just to speak to the great man. As for Harry Potter, I have decided to see what all the fuss is about and while on vacation I promised Heidi, we will sit and watch all the movies back to back. All the best to you from us both.
MR. VANQUISH – Thank you for your cabin number. I am not sure if Carnival has a job lined up for me when I leave ships. It would be a pleasure to continue to work for this great company but doing what, I have no idea. Maybe I should just go straight in as chairman and travel the world preaching the word of cruising to all who will listen. Thank you very much for your kind words mate.
LINDSEY B – Thank you. Your wonderful words have made my night, I don’t know what to say except Thank You.
BIG ED – I think there is something going on between you and Alan Atkins. Is there something you should tell me? Great idea. Let’s make bumper stickers that say “Where is Alan Atkins?” You are a true star and your photo gallery and all the hard work that goes into it will ensure a special time for you on the Bloggers Cruise.
VINKEVEEN – Hallo Vincent. Jullie hoeven alleen jullie zelf te brengen. Geen boodschappen nodig. M’n moeder komt gauw cruisen, en heb haar al een lijstje meegegeven. Tot Gauw!!!! Groetjes aan Vinkeveen.
LINDA – John for President?..what a scary thought. ..actually, it’s not :))) Thank you for being my Campaign Manager.
MEHWDER – Yes, the lost luggage count has improved a lot since Augusts’ high season. Long may it continue. Today’s blog is fantastic as I have been nominated as Carnival Corporation Chairman, Carnival Cruise Lines President and now from you to have my own show on the Travel Channel. Aren’t dreams a wonderful thing? Thank you for thinking of me and all the best.
JAMES EMM – You asked about the Carnival Glory shows for your upcoming cruise. I am glad to tell you that they are 2 of my favorites. The first one is “Living In America.” This highlights the best of America’s heritage of music including a lavish tribute to America itself in the finale. The second show is called “Rock Down Broadway” which features hits from many of your favorite modern Broadway shows. There will also be a show featuring Christopher Alan Graves, a Carnival favorite who will tribute Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. Along with these shows there will be comedy and variety performers to complete a week of the best entertainment at sea. Enjoy the show.
KARI – I thank you for reading the blog since the start and I will indeed be on the Carnival Splendor next year so we can have some fun together. I hope you
enjoy today’s blog thingy and many more to come. All the best.
ERIC R THAYER – And they have given me the same incentive so many thanks for that. You must look good at “our age” to be mistaken for one of the dancers
and a gym instructor…that happens to me all the time. Keep watching the Carnival clock and it will soon be time for you to come aboard. See you soon.
CATHERINE EBERT – Abra, the beautiful young lady who worked with me on the Carnival Liberty has take some time at home but I am hoping she will be back
with us soon. Her partner on those videos you are talking about was called Butch who is currently acting Cruise Director on the Carnival Conquest. I am glad you have so many memories of the cruise and I hope we get to create new ones very soon.

OK, I have to stop there as it is show time and will start tomorrow with Andreas Goedde

Before I go I want to introduce you to a Carnival legend….Maurice Zamarti – who, as you will see, has been a major part to the success of this company from the very start…here he is now and before now…he is still a handsome devil.

Maurice Zamarti

Maurice Zamarti

1. Maurice – how did you become associated with this great company and what can you tell us about your career so far.

During my senior year at the University of Miami I responded to an ad at the career placement service that assists students in finding jobs. The ad was placed by Mr. Ted Arison’s office. Two days later, I was interviewed by Mr. Arison and hired on January 17, 1970 on the day that I graduated from University of Miami.

I never imagined that our company would turn into the largest and most profitable cruise line in the world -carrying more guests than any other cruise line. I am very fortunate to have been associated with a team that formed Carnival Cruise Lines. It’s been very rewarding and lots of fun.

2. Lets go back to when Carnival had just the three ships, Mardi Gras, Carnival and Festivale. How did you sell this new cruise company to the travel industry and what can you tell us about your sales team back then.
Carnival was formed in March of 1972 when we sailed the Mardi Gras out of the Port of Miami and got stuck on the sand bar. (I have a picture). Then, we were known as the Golden Fleet with one ship and no working capital. By late 1974 we rebranded Carnival to the Fun Ships and in February of 1976 we inaugurated the maiden voyage of the Carnivale which was a sister ship to the Mardi Gras. In late October of 1978 the Festivale sailed on its maiden voyage. We should note that these 3 ships had other lives. The Mardi Gras was Empress of Canada, Carnival the Empress of Britain and the Festivale the S/A VAAL. Way early during our very humble beginnings, we inspired the travel agency community and our guests that the cruise ships were a destination unto themselves and the ports they visited were the green stamps.

3.What do you remember as some of the biggest challenges in the early days.

The one big difference of the early days was with the product. While we felt we marketed and promoted what was very much a Fun Ship cruise experience, the physical plant of the vessels was very different than today. In the earliest days, certain cabins had no facilities! And imagine no phones or TV in the cabins. Very small gymnasium tucked away compared to other ships that were new and had mid-1970’s technologies . Our ships were older and more difficult to sell but as our guests experienced our Fun Ship cruises they came back again and again. In 1982 we commissioned the Tropicale, a brand new ship and from then on we started to transform ourselves into ‘Today’s Carnival.’ There are a number of travel agents today that continue to support us since our humble beginnings.

We always believed that guests and travel agents had a variety of choices in selling and taking cruise vacations. We continually were able to instill confidence in our consumers that both shipside and shoreside work very hard to deserve their business. And we continue to be grateful today.

4. There must have been some great characters from the “old days.” Are there any that you would like to mention or any stories you can share.

Yes, there are some stories about some great characters that are still with us today. So I will share those stories with you verbally — not here given that job continuation is very important in my book.

5. What are some of your memories of the ships themselves. Did you have a favorite out of the ” grand old three.”

I do remember going down the hall to take a shower on the Mardi Gras. On the Carnivale, along with other team members I remember a number of toilets and having them go the other way. And, on the Festivale I keenly remember having been introduced to the Verandah Suite concept. Our first vessel with actual balconies. Only 10 on the entire ship. Compare that to Destiny, Conquest, Spirit or Splendor class. (Got to do a commercial somewhere.)

6. Today, you are responsible for the selling of “Today’s Carnival.” Can you tell us something about your sales team and how you sell the product today.

We have an award winning sales team with very high seniority levels. Why? Because they love their jobs and the people they work with and specifically they love the product! They sell to travel agents who in turn sell to their clients.

When you consider Today’s Carnival and all of the amenities (too many to mention) it’s a very compelling story. Our sales force communicates it effectively coupled with our fabulous marketing team who positions it beautifully. It’s a win, win, win situation all the way around. We provide dreams for our guests. And as the numbers will show, they are exceedingly satisfied with our product delivery.

7. You have been present at all of the naming ceremonies, important and special functions and therefore have met many famous and important people. Who has made the greatest impression on you.

We are very fortunate to have had superb godmothers along with a number of famous people who have cruised with us over the years. It would be difficult to select one. The greatest impression on me, though, was made by the gentleman who hired me, Mr. Ted Arison.

8. If someone said to you “What makes Carnival Cruise Line so special?” – what would your answer be using twenty words or less.

It’s not about the hardware – it’s clearly about the software. It’s the people of Carnival both shipside and shoreside who make this company just so special. We often refer to everyone in this company as our Carnival family.

9. What are your top three destinations visited by a Carnival Ship.

Caribbean, Alaska and Europe.

10. Finally and as is tradition in our blog interviews… if you were invisible for 24 hours where would you go and what would you do.

I would hide in your closet. Seriously, I would observe the activities of a travel agent in order to offer the best counsel possible.

Thank you Maurice for the wonderful interview and I always remind myself that it is thanks to people like Maurice that I work for the World’s Most Popular Cruise Line.

It was so strange not having a computer. I could have gone and logged up or in or on or whatever on another computer but I couldn’t be asked, so…you know what I did…you won’t believe this…I went and walked around the jogging track for a bit with my Pod thingy playing some British Brass Band music (very inspirational) and I was having a good time…walking slowly and enjoying the sun on my face and the breeze in my hair…until…a guest came up wearing a Just Do It T Shirt and said ” “Do you mind if I walk with you?”..I don’t know why he bothered asking…you would have thought the large headphones I was wearing would have been a hint?…so instead of having the sun on my face and the wind in my hair and enjoying the Brighouse And Rastrick Brass Band playing The March from The Bridge Over The River Kwai….I now had Mr. Nike walking beside me telling me how he didn’t like the desserts as much as the ones on Princess….Bugger!

I managed to hint that I wanted to get back to my music so he gave me a parting comment about the track needed more “spring in it” and placing my headphones on I rejoined the brave men whistling while they built the bridge…I was in front of Mr. Nike now and because I had eaten jelly beans the night before….he now had the wind in his hair.

One last thing to complete my bad day….I have to go and put my Dolly Parton dress on for the Carnival Legends show…bugger!


John & Heidi

Heald Crest

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.