The Days Ahead

September 30, 2007 -

John Heald

Good morning from Katakolon, Greece and an early start for me here at 7:07 am. I woke up at 5:45 am and could not get back to sleep so I thought I would do some paperwork which I have now finished so I thought I would write to all of you.

Before I did I read my mail for today’s afternoon show. The mail is from guests and is left at the information desk at various times and delivered to me at midnight and at noon every day. Many of these letters I share with you in the In Their Own Words Section and 99% are wonderful letters that share lives joys and sometimes sadness with guests onboard through the morning show and here on the blog.

So, I opened the letters and the second one turned my good mood into a ………………well……………not a good one………it’s too early to use any stronger language than that. Yesterday, as we were sailing through the Dardanelles I mentioned that we would now be sailing in the Aegean Sea, something I have done a dozen times this season. However, this week I apparently said The Adriatic. How do I know, here is how.

Letter

So, I am ignorant. Well, I am an idiot and me saying this is a sure sign that I am tired but to be called ignorant……….well, that is a bit harsh. Anyway, on today’s afternoon show I will apologize but to everyone for the slip of the tongue………..I would apologize to the guest who called me ignorant but they did not sign it or leave a cabin number which I found a little……………ignorant.

It is little things like this that get me down and I can now picture you all rushing to the keyboard to say “don’t be harsh on yourself,” etc. How I appreciate your support but this man/lady is correct, it was a stupid mistake and I am mad at myself for being so silly. Why, well as I mentioned I am running on autopilot now and after nine months that is not surprising. I will talk more about this later but not a good start to my day…………………..oh and to make matters worse I forgot to replace the toilet roll last night so you know where I am.

Today in Katakolon we will be joined by the four guests who missed the ship. Where were they?……………Shopping, of course, and they didn’t leave enough time to get back to the vessel………………..oops. Anyway, we had just sailed and were in maneuvers when they arrived at the pier. Unfortunately we could not come back as we would have missed our slot to leave the port. We then asked the pilot if they could come on their boat out to meet us but he said no due to insurance reasons which is understandable.

Here is a photo of the guests on the pier as we pulled away, you can just see them standing as a group with our agent.

guests on the pier

guests on the pier

They will be meeting us later today following that long 6-hour drive …………….hopefully they will be here in time to go and do some more shopping.

Let’s have a look at some photos of the Acropolis taken by Gary.

Acropolis

Acropolis

Acropolis

Acropolis

Acropolis

Acropolis

Here are the letters from today’s In their Own Words Section.

In their Own Words

In their Own Words

In their Own Words

In their Own Words

Here is today’s joke of the day……………………………..rated P.G. 17

An Englishman, a German and a Frenchman are all in Saudi Arabia, sharing a smuggled crate of booze when, all of a sudden, Saudi police rush in and arrest them. The mere possession of alcohol is a severe offense in Saudi Arabia, so for the terrible crime of actually being caught consuming the booze, they are all sentenced to death!
However, after many months and with the help of very good lawyers, they were able to successfully appeal their sentences down to life imprisonment. By a stroke of luck, it was a Saudi national holiday the day their trial finished, and the extremely benevolent Sheikh decided they could be released after receiving just 20 lashes each of the whip.
As they were preparing for their punishment, the Sheikh announced: “It’s my first wife’s birthday today, and she has asked me to allow each of you one wish before your whipping.
The German was first in line, he thought for a while and then said: “Please tie a pillow to my back. This was done, but the pillow only lasted 10 lashes before the whip went through. When the punishment was done the German had to be carried away bleeding and crying with pain.
The Frenchman was next up. After watching the German in horror he said smugly: “Please fix two pillows to my back.” But even two pillows could only take 15 lashes before the whip went through again and the Frenchman was soon led away whimpering loudly.
The Englishman was the last one up, but before he could say anything, the Sheikh turned to him and said: “You are from a most beautiful part of the world and your culture is one of the finest in the world. For this, you may have two wishes!”
“Thank you, your Most Royal and Merciful highness,” the Englishman replied. “In recognition of your kindness, my first wish is that you give me not 20, but 100 lashes.”
“Not only are you an honorable, handsome and powerful man, you are also very brave,” the Sheikh said with an admiring look on his face. “If 100 lashes is what you desire, then so be it. And your second wish, what is it to be?” the Sheikh asked.
The Englishman smiled and said, “Tie the Frenchman to my back.”

Before the Q and A can I pay homage to two more blogs. The first is one from my great friends Anita Dunham-Potter. She cruised with me recently and also wrote that wonderful interview about me for MSNBC. She now has her own blog which I wish her much success with. Here is the link so stop by and say hello and enjoy a blog written in Anita’s incomparable style: http://www.expertcruiser.com/

Now, talking of great friends here is a name you will also all know from his own website and as a very gifted cruise experience writer. Here is Lynn Seldon’s blog called Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley: www.lynnseldon.com/wordpress it is a brilliant read.

Here we go with today’s Q and A starting with those from the Interview with Rick Meadows. To skip the Q&A, click here.

DWA76 – I agree with you mate that the Culinary Experience onboard the Holland America ships sounds extrodinary.I am glad that you enjoyed reading about Rick’s career so far and I thank him so much for providing you with the “good read” you described. Hope all is well mate and have a great weekend.
CAROL SCHOENBERGER – I am so sorry it took so long to reply to you Carol. Your posting was not lost it was just that I was so back logged ……………not that way……………..I mean with comments that I was about 3 or 4 postings behind with my replies. Anyway, you will see that I replied to your Cheesecake posting yesterday on the blog called “Happy Ending” and again, sorry for the delay. Hope you are well and if you ever have a spare piece of cheesecake I will be round in a flash. Cheers.
CAROL SCHOENBERGER – Now I see that you saw that I had replied to your posting that you thought I had not but I had done yesterday so the above posting can be ignored or you can read this one but not the one above instead of the one you wrote three days ago that I did not reply to until today and that was before I saw that you saw that I had replied and now I can’t stop typing and my fingers are going crazy and what’s the difference between boogers and broccoli kids wont eat broccoli and I hate Turkish baths and help and ……………………OK, just slapped myself……….all is well………………slow breaths……….mmmmmmmm.
ROSA – It is fabulous Rosa. Please come and find out sometime for yourself and if I can help in anyway, please let me know.
CRUISIN SUE – You will be here soon. Please send me a note when you get onboard, just leave it at the Information desk. Now, have a safe flight and thanks so very much for all the kind words about the blog. See you next week.
ALAN AND CHRIS – Thanks for the Red Sox posting and I shall wear my hat with pride (if they win.) I am going to talk about my schedule in a moment as well. Watching the baseball on the ship is so much fun especially the final thingy …….the ummmm……..World Series………..why is it called that when only two countries take part?……..Anyway, watching it on the Big Screen on lido is wonderful. Lets hope the Red Sox win because I want to wear my hat. ………..LETS GO HEAT! All the best guys and I promise your Carnival Freedom Caribbean cruise will be the best ever.

Now to comments and questions from the blog called ‘ A Happy Ending”

BRYAN – Oh yes, how I hope the weak dollar can find some strength from somewhere as the pound continues to be The Miami Heat and the dollar the Detroit Pistons. I will have some stories to tell on vacation and I will do my best to keep them as interesting and as fun as I can. I am also going to have some guest interviews as well. Thanks mate and I hope your dream of studying in the UK comes true one day soon.
NANI – Thanks Nani. I will indeed be telling you all what is happening at home as well as keeping you up to date with all the latest gossip. I am sure PA 007 will also help me out there as well. I agree though Nani, I do need some time off but I will be able to make sure the blog continues even if it is slightly diluted. Muchos Hugos.
GIRLDOC – Flying is certainly not my favorite thing to do either Doc. I have always dreamt of being part of those images you see in magazines here a private plane lands……….a handsome tanned man in a suit walks straight down the steps into a waiting Aston Martin. The reality is of course that after an 8-hour flight I look like I have gone 12 rounds with Mike Tyson as I walk down the steps, stand in a huge line for Immigration and then get into my hired Toyota Yaris (Yaris is Japanese for – you’re too big, get an upgrade.) I wish I was George Hamilton. So, try the longer flight if you can and see how you go. If things are OK then please consider a European flight as the reward is so worth it. Thanks again Doc and look out for more Eye Podding cast thingies soon.
BIG ED – Todd will be able to write one or two guest blogs but I will be able to record a few each week. Audio blogs will be easy and if someone from Roberto’s office can help type them out then that’s easier still. Thanks Ed for your concerns and I will be energized ready for the thong contest.
J – JOHN – I see winter only lasts one week in your neck of the woods, how cold does it get? Thank so much for supporting the format of the blog. It has been so encouraging to hear these words from you and so many others. Thanks again mate and stay cool.
SHERYL PELTON – My goodness, 15 hours of flying. I am sure you must all be exhausted but it seems that you also have so many wonderful memories of your cruise vacation here on the Carnival Freedom. You said that you miss hearing my voice so I hope therefore you will be happy to hear that during vacation I will be slapping on lots of audio thingies onto the blog. Heidi sends her best and any jellybean donation would be gratefully appreciated. All the best and thanks again for spending time with us here.
LAUREN – I will, promise!
DAVE AND BARB – I really did upset that lady with my innocent Cleveland remark. Hopefully she has accepted my apology and has forgiven me…………….I really just said the first town that came into my mind and until you told me I had no idea that it used to be called “the armpit of the Midwest. I was so sorry to hear about the passing of your Dad and I am sure that he and Mum must have had a wonderful 50 years together. May I also wish you and David a very happy 30th anniversary this October? I will chat about my schedule shortly and thanks most of all for supporting the blog; it means the world to me. My best to you and of course to Mum and David as well.
LINDA HERNACKI – Hello Linda. First of all I hope the family are all well and Mike continues to enjoy his new job. I have not tried the sugar-free cheesecake onboard for a long time………….why…………….well honestly, I just can’t bare to sit there eating it while everyone else eats the real thing so to speak. When I did try it all I could taste was the sugar substitute and I was disappointed …………..not with the cake itself……………with me………….being diabetic. Anyway, I will try and make some at home……..OK, Heidi or Mum will try and hopefully it will taste like the real thing. I am going to discuss vacation in a moment Linda and I will explain what is happening. I really want you to know that I look forward so very much to seeing your name on a posting as I know in advance that your words will be ones of joy and happiness and support …………that is so special. All the best to you and the family.
DAVE MYERLY – I used to love the basic Old Spice scent. It is distinctive and smells manly. This is not the same of modern scents which either have you smelling like a guy on the front cover of GQ magazine, dressed only in his Calvin Klein thong, pointing to something in the distance or is so disgusting it smells like Fatima’s feet. Yep, Old Spice for me anytime although I also liked Brut and High Karate…………….those are men’s aftershaves. What do you wear mate? How’s Jo? Please send her my best regards.
TERESA C – I was happy to hear that you loved the story of the Middleton’s but sad to hear that you have yet to find love yourself. Maybe we should start a bloggers “lonely blog club “…………what do you think? I will try and cheer you up by sending as many audio posts as I can as well as having them typed out. You will find love one day, you will really………..if I can…….anyone can. Don’t give up, he is out there, somewhere…………………let us know when you find him. All the best until then.

That’s all the comments have been posted so far and I will be answering many more I am sure tomorrow.

OK, lets have a chat.

During the past few days I have been talking to Roger Blum and Chris Prideaux about my vacation and schedule for next year.

This is usually a pretty easy decision to make. I work 5 months and have 6 weeks off. Work another 4 months and have 2 months off. However, because of the love of this blog and the amazing relationship I have struck up with you all I have had only 1 and a half days off and as of today I have been onboard for exactly 9 months……………….I am very, very tired.

The blog has added an extra 3 – 4 hours work every day and of course the pressures of delivering a new ship are obvious …………..don’t get me wrong…………..I would not have changed these last months for anything in the world………..except an Aston Martin………..but you already new that.

I have started to make silly mistakes (as shown above when I named the wrong sea) and I now find myself on full automatic. Therefore I have made a choice that I am sure some of you will be disappointed to hear……….I will apologize in a moment.

Before I explain what is happening, I need to tell you about the bad news I got a few days ago. It’s my best friend Alan. Some 10 years ago Alan had a serious and complicated operation that luckily he came through. Last week, he told me that he would have to have the same operation again. Now, I am being vague here I know because I respect his privacy but I can not possibly be gallivanting around the world knowing that he is going to go through this again. His operation is due at the end of the October and before then he has scans and …………..well, other treatments that will make sure it is OK to operate.

Alan and I have been pals for 20 something years. I was his best man and he mine, so you can see the bond even though we make fun of each other constantly. Therefore, I must be home when he has his operation and be there to support him and his wife and two children afterwards and help with his convalescing.

I have taken all these factors into consideration and have decided not to host the trans-Atlantic Crossing. Now, I know there are going to many disappointed people out there and their names are flashing around my head as I type this. Let me say that this was not an easy choice to make; I want to be with you all. The reason I am not going to do this is simple. I cannot be at sea for seven straight days and not be able to get off the vessel to be there for Alan and his family should they need me. Yes, I am tired but this alone was the deciding factor. I also have been asked to attend a very important meeting in Miami in early November which I can only do if all is well with Alan……….it will be of course.

One small, very small cancellation to those TA people who read the blog………………I will fly very late on the 28th and so as to meet you all I will host a reception just for those people who have been writing on the blog. This will be held in the Swingtime from at 5:15pm – 6:15pm (in a smoke free room) and drinks are on me…………well………..Carnival. If you will be joining me please put on a posting that you will be and your cabin number so I can send an invitation. This will be exclusive and just for those names I recognize who have been contributing to the blog……………I want to make this special.

The great news is that Todd will be the Cruise Director for the crossing. He is now working with me on the schedule and he will make sure the crossing is an amazing experience.

I am sorry I will not be there for the Caribbean cruises after the crossing either. I truly wanted to but with all the above factors and for my own health I cannot be with you. I am so very sorry. You will have a great cruise though I promise.

I will return on January 12 to the Carnival Freedom to prepare for the bloggers cruise and then I will have a conference in Miami with all the Cruise Directors. In February I will travel on a few of the Carnival ships to have a look at some of the new Cruise Directors and see if I can be of any assistance to them. Then in March I will be back on the Carnival Freedom. April will see me preparing the tours for the Carnival Splendor ports and then it is back to the Carnival Freedom for the crossing and the first two cruises in the Med before it is off to the Carnival Splendor.

Through all of this……………..I will be blogging…………..from home …………. during the naming ceremony of the Queen Victoria and of course from the Bloggers Cruise and beyond. I promise you at least three blogs a week and maybe more if I can. These maybe audio as I mentioned with someone else doing the transcripts. I will also have guest interviews and there will be lots of photos as well………in fact……….all your favorites.

So, as I leave you today I want to ask you for two special considerations.

1. Please think of my mate Alan and his family. I know he will be fine…………he has to be ……….he needs to be on the bloggers cruise in that thong.

2. I also ask that the people who were looking forward to seeing me onboard forgive me for letting them down……….I hope you all understand why .

I didn’t want to leave this blog on a sad note so instead I want to share one of the many Alan stories with you.

Before Alan had his first operation he was a very successful Money Broker working on what was then called the London International Futures Exchange (L.I.F.E) These young men and women would stand all day wearing bright coloured blazers, waving their arms around shouting things like “mine” and “Yoursa” and generally looking silly. They did work long hours but the rewards were good and of course the parties and perks were high. Now, back in the day Alan liked to get ………ummmmmmm…..he liked a few………..well, he had quite a thirst because he and the pint glass became good friends.

One night he had been having fun with the boys and got the last train home. Now, when we say train, we have to remember this was 1994 and the trains were the old British rolling stock. This meant that the carriages were enclosed with no bathrooms and that was not good news for Alan. The journey from London to our home town of Southend takes about 50 minutes and as Alan boarded the train at midnight he was already very jolly indeed. Once on the train the swaying and shuddering and juddering started and the 10 pints of beer and the chicken vindaloo curry that he had digested started to have a good old fight in his stomach.

Alan tells me that there were only three people in the carriage and all looked as wrecked as he was. By the third stop they were all sound asleep but Alan knew something was stirring. Now, he could have stuck his head out of the window but as the train was going 60 MPH even in his state he realized that may not be a good idea.

Trying to hold off the inevitable he realized he would have to take drastic action so he reached up onto the luggage rack, grabbed his briefcase and relieved himself of the night’s festivities.

Closing up the briefcase and replacing it on the rack he spent the rest of the journey in contemplation.

Once off the train he walked, briefcase in hand and headed on the five-minute walk home. When he got there he fell straight into bed leaving the briefcase and its contents to deal with in the morning.

Saturday morning came and went and eventually he awoke about noon. As he did so he already expected a massive stay in the dog house for coming home sponsored by Budweiser but then he remembered his briefcase…………..and it’s contents.

Walking gingerly down the stairs he retrieved his briefcase from where he had left it by the door……………he walked into the kitchen hoping nobody would see him………….he gingerly opened the case………….preparing himself for smell of curry and beer and other gastric juices to great him…………..opening the case slowly he peered inside……………….and………………..nothing.

His papers were there, his newspaper and his pens, etc……………and then it hit him…………..in his happy state he had been sick in someone else’s briefcase ……………..and last night, that person who had been asleep on the train had arrived back home………..opened his briefcase to find his possessions floating in a sea of curry and beer.

That’s why he is my best mate. Please think of him tonight and maybe Big Ed can put his nurse’s uniform on and look after him while he is in ICU.

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.