A Simple Life

October 3, 2007 -

John Heald

I have never seen the ship as quiet as it was last night……………….Good Morning everyone from Civi on our overnight stay before debarkation tomorrow. It’s 7:50 am and I still cannot get over how quiet the ship was yesterday evening following on from a long day exploring Tuscany, Pisa and Florence during our stay in Livorno.

I had swapped the shows around with second seating seeing the show at 7:15 pm before dinner with 1st sitting at 9 pm. The performer last night was Chris Watkins a brilliant fiddle player whose music includes some light classics, Irish folk music and some standards such as The Devil Went Down to Georgia, etc. Now, I have experienced Livorno nights when I have walked out on stage and seen half a house but goodness me, not like last night. There must have been 400 at the first show and maybe…maybe…..200 at the second show. I called the Maitre D who told me that on both sittings at least half the dining room was empty and that most people had eaten on the Lido deck and had gone to bed. After the shows (both giving standing ovations to the performer) I walked along the promenade deck and was astounded that the ship was so quiet………….all that was missing were a few tumbleweeds blowing down the Promenade. I made some notes for today’s blog……………here we go.

Lobby Bar………..This was the most popular venue and our brilliant Everest Duo were playing Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon and there were a dozen couples dancing and about another 20 people sitting ion the lobby………….it went down hill from there though.
Casino………………I counted 44 people
Promenade Bar (by the Musician)………….9
Club 02…………2 teenagers (that means two weren’t there as we have only four onboard)
70’s Dance Club…………..now those that know me will tell you I will never be seen in the disco……….I just don’t like the music and guests are always trying to get me to dance and as I have said before, next to being cleansed by a 400 pound Turkish woman and her pet rubber hose, dancing is my least favorite thing to do. Anyway, as I walked past the dance club I looked in and there were……………….24 people in there………………..not bad……………..except 15 were staff members.
Swingtime……………………with our lovely duet John and Diane…………….2 couples dancing and 5 total sitting in the lounge.
Scotts Piano Bar………..Ron was at the piano and he had a respectable 19 people enjoying the fun and the music
Aft Lounge and Karaoke……………NOBODY…………..NOBODY…………I felt so sorry for Jo Jo the Karaoke host.
Where is everyone I thought………ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, they are watching the movie which is about to start on Carnival’s Seaside Theatre Big Screen. The movie was Under the Tuscan Sun and I walked up there to see how many people were watching……….answer……..maybe 50. I asked the lady at the blanket station (you should see the new blankets we hand out, they are so cozy and warm) how many people were at the first showing. She told me maybe 100 and that she had never seen it as quiet as this.
I then walked through the Lido Deck restaurant to see if people were eating late night fare and I maybe came across another 20 or so people. So, let us recap:
Total Number of guests at 10:30pm in public areas ………………..approx 200
Total number of guests in bed………………..approx 2700

As I said, I have never seen it as quiet as this since this time last year and with a long day over and a long day of touring Rome today and the average age of the guest being older……………I am not surprised. However, I think we have made a massive mistake in making our beds so comfortable………….we should have made the mattress with lumps the size of camels humps in them, maybe the odd nail sticking out and have a few insects nesting in there…………..the bars and lounges would be busier.

Right, here is an interview which I gave to one of the Editor’s from Cruise Mates, Kuki whom I have known for a long time. Here is the link thingy. http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/feature/johnhealdinterview-100307.cfm

Now, please have a read of this important press release as sent to me by PA 007.

MIAMI (October 2, 2007) — Ruben Rodriguez will join Carnival Cruise Lines as executive vice president of marketing and guest experience effective Oct. 29. Most recently he was a partner and managing director in the Miami office of Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a global strategy and management consulting firm.
In his new role, Rodriguez will have overall responsibility for marketing, public relations, guest experience and product development. He will report to Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill.
“As a BCG client, many of us here already know Ruben and have a great deal of respect and confidence in his abilities. We are happy that he has agreed to join our team,” said Cahill. “With his diverse, well-rounded professional experience, Ruben brings the analytical and strategic thinking skills that will help our company continue to be an industry leader,” he added.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for me to work with one of the leading companies in travel,” said Rodriguez. “Carnival is already so successful and I am excited about working with this very talented management team and making a contribution to the organization’s continued success,” he said.
Rodriguez, 44, first worked for BCG for six years in its Los Angeles office in the 1990’s where he advised consumer branded companies on growth and marketing strategies. One of his areas of expertise was in the toy industry and he left BCG in 1999 to serve as vice president and general manager of eToys International where he launched the company’s international business unit based in London.
He joined Charles Schwab Corporation in 2001 initially as senior vice president of corporate strategy, then assumed responsibility for Schwab’s southeast retail division in 2003 and relocated to Miami. He rejoined BCG in Miami in early 2005.
Rodriguez completed his undergraduate work at Princeton University where he earned a BS in mechanical engineering. He received his master’s in engineering from the University of California at Berkeley and his MBA from Stanford. He resides in Coconut Grove, Fla., with his wife and two children.

PA has told me that there is quite a buzz around the office at Ruben’s arrival and that everyone is very excited at what plans he has for the marketing of the company and its future path. Thanks to PA for this and I am using back channels (OK, I need to stop watching 24) to try and be the first to get an interview with Carnival’s new executive………….hopefully that will happen soon.

Here are today’s photos and once again we turn to the camera of Gary Brierley who was out at sunset again as we left Livorno.

Sunset Photo

Sunset Photo

Sunset Photo

Sunset Photo

Sunset Photo

Sunset Photo

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

In their Own Words

In their Own Words

In their Own Words


A married couple went to the hospital to have their baby delivered. Upon their arrival, the doctor said he had invented a new machine that would transfer a portion of the mother’s labor pain to the father.

He asked if they were willing to try it out, and they were both very much in favor of it. The doctor set the pain transfer to 10% for starters explaining that even 10% was probably more pain than the father had ever experienced before. But as the labor progressed, the husband felt fine and asked the doctor to go head and kick it up a notch.

Surprised, the doctor then adjusted the machine to 20% pain transfer.

The husband was still feeling fine.

The doctor checked the husband’s blood pressure and was amazed at how well he was doing.

At this point they decided to try for 50%.

The husband continued to feel quite well. Since the pain transfer was obviously helping out the wife considerably, the husband encouraged the doctor to transfer all the pain to him.

The wife delivered a healthy baby with virtually no pain. She and her husband were ecstatic.

But when they got home, the mailman was lying dead on the porch.

I would like to comment on the Baseball one. Unfortunately here in Europe we cannot pick up the games. I tried to explain this to the guest but he hung up on me………..twice. I sent him a note of apology and a copy of the newspaper that is available every morning from Information Desk, Library and at all the bars……………………I tried……………….maybe his team lost………I looked at the manifest he is from California………………….sorry, I don’t know what team that will make him a supporter of because when it comes to baseball……………..I suck!

We will now start with the comments and questions from the blog called The Days Ahead. However, a thank you first and then an apology. I am overwhelmed at all the comments of hope and encouragement you have written for my mate Alan. At the end of today’s comments there is a message from him to you all. Anyway, you have once again shown that this blog has become a community of friends who as well as a love of cruising share a love of humanity. Please know that I have read each and every one of them including all the get well messages for Alan, the ship reviews and fun and supportive comments……………..thank you all for being…………..well you know.

Now, the bad news. In order for me to get this blog published today I will not be able to answer every one of the 98 comments so once again I ask your permission to answer those with specific questions.

Here we go. To skip the Q&A, click here.

JTODDINMAN – Please write a poem mate. Alan and I are laughing everyday and he would love a poem about himself………there is nothing wrong with his ego. Let me give you a working title………..ALAN IN HOSPITAL WITH ALL MALE NURSES. There, have fun with that. You asked for the mailing address for post and it is as per the ling thingy at the side of this blog thingy. Here it is anyway.
John & Heidi Heald
c/o Chris Prideaux
Carnival Cruise Lines
3655 NW 87th Ave.
Miami, FL 33178-2428
MSOP 304 N
Thanks to Chris who will be forwarding my mail and I have already told Heidi to buy at least 10,000 more Xmas cards than we usually do. Thanks again for thinking of Alan and we both look forward to your poem. All the best.
DAVE AND BARB – I just wanted to take the time to say a personal apology to you both that I will not be with you for the TA cruise. Did you send me your cabin number for the invitation to the cocktail reception? If not, please do so and again, many thanks so very much for your compassion and understanding. See you soon………….OOPS, JUST SAW THAT YOU MADE ANOTHER POSTING SO I HAVE ADDED YOU TO THE LIST. Thanks.
RUTH JAMISON – Thanks so much for the Halloween card which I received today. You know what; I think that is probably the first Halloween card I have ever received. Heidi has added it to our wall of cards of which you have been a great contributor. You asked if I will be the Cruise Director on the maiden voyage of the Carnival Splendor and yes indeed I will be. I should arrive in the shipyard some time in late May and then be ready for the big day in July. I truly hope you will be there with me. Thanks for all your kind words and our best wishes to you as always.
BLUEMAXBOB – Welcome to the blog thingy mate. I loved the way you said you had been “lurking in the shadows” as you read my daily musings. You and your good lady have quite a cruise history and I see you sailed on Carnival, NCL and Holland America. I hope the blog has done what you wanted it to do and that was to allow you to learn about the Carnival cruise experience. So, we all welcome you to the blog that has now had 739,000 slaps and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Hopefully, we will meet one day soon. All the best mate.
MRS.MISSINGTHESMOKEFREEPARADISE – Please don’t feel you need to bring a 2-gallon bottle of diet root beer for me. That will mean an excess baggage charge for sure…………maybe one can though? I am truly looking forward to seeing you both as you have been such an important part of the blog since it’s conception. Todd is planning a huge Halloween celebration and I am sure it will be one to remember. I wish I could stay to Madeira but Alan’s operation is scheduled before then and I want to be there for that. Anyway, send my best to Jon and we will see you soon.
RIKKI BOYCE – I really had to stay for a few extra hours. My flight leaves Rome at 11 pm so I can host a one-hour reception and then finish packing and get to the airport. I have added your cabin to the list of invitations and I thank you so much for your words of support. See you soon.
SHERYL PELTON – Heidi asked me to say a personal thank you to you for the cards and how much she appreciates them. Thank you for thinking of her.
SHERRIF ROSCO P COLTRANE – Ahhhhhhh, there you are mate. I was getting worried about you. I loved the “handcuffs” line and I am sure you must have so many stories you could share with us. The most important thing is that you are safe and well and we continue to marvel at your service to the community. You asked when the Bloggers Cruise is, the answer is January 19. Are you coming? I hope so because I will need you to arrest Big Ed and Alan for wearing thongs in public……..what laws would they be breaking? Please send our best regards to Mrs. Coltrane and Flash. Write soon mate.
MARY ANN – I wanted to personally apologize that I will not be with you for your back-to-back Caribbean cruises on the Carnival Freedom in November. You will have an amazing time with Todd and you will find him the best you have ever sailed with. Thank you for being so understanding and that makes my guilty feeling subside just a little. Have a wonderful cruise and please keep in touch with me via the old blog thingy.
PAUL F.PIETRANGELO – Paul, please accept my sincere apologies that I will not be with you for your Carnival Freedom cruise in February. I know you wanted to meet me as I did you but I am positive that this day will come soon. It was so sad to read that your friend could not stand by you after your stroke and I wish I could have been there to take his place. Thank you for being a great friend and although we have yet to meet, that is what we are ………….friends.
CARL AND BARB – thank you for the beautiful words for Alan. You did however forget to mention how you are Barb so please let us all know as we are all concerned. The address you requested is now on the side of the blog thingy and many thanks for everything you have and will continue to do. Please write soon and let us know how you are and best to Carl.
JANFRWA – Goodness me, I just chocked on my tea………..$50,000 for one operation……….did they perform it with instruments made of gold, was awoken from surgery by Catherine Zeta Jones in a nurse’s uniform and then served lobster as his after operation meal while being serenaded by the New York Symphony Orchestra? Then I read about Randy recovering from a spider bite……….I guess that means Heidi won’t be visiting your hometown anytime soon. How is he doing, please let me know as it sounds quite serious. Did he know he had been bitten, did he see the spider, did he kill it?……..Just curious. Thanks for all the words of kindness and now please let us know how Randy is doing. Heidi and I send you all our very best wishes.
JON – Of course, your name was one of the very first things that flashed through my mind as we have been communicating since March this year and have become cyber friends. The cocktail party will be from 5:15 pm to 6:15 pm and then it’s off to the airport……………….not by Aston Martin I may add. Todd will indeed perform magnificently and I know you will not be disappointed ………….plus, I may have one or two surprises for you………let’s see. Anyway, for now, please except my apology and thank you for showing such understanding. See you soon mate and drinks are on me.
MISS AMERICA – I am intrigued indeed and hope that you will introduce yourself to us when you sail next cruise. Have a safe journey and see you soon.
BRIAN SWANSON – I wanted to personally apologize for not being the Cruise Director now on the TA cruise. I read how much you enjoyed the TA last year on the Carnival Liberty and I am positive that this time will be even better. Please can you slap on your cabin number so I can invite you to the cocktail party on October 28 at 5:15 pm which I will host before I run off to the airport. I see we share a very similar sense of humor which your wife seems to call “weird”………..well, I guess she is correct. I was surprised that you mentioned Norman Wisdom, another brilliant favorite of mine. Have you ever watched the Carry On movies? Thanks for all the words of support and I look forward to having a drink with you and talking more about our weird sense of humor.
JENNIFER HAMMOND – Thanks for supporting Carnival during your recent Carnival Victory cruise. There are people on Carnival who will say “I prefer Princess.” There are people on Princess who will say “I prefer Carnival”…………and so the game continues. I am glad you liked Malcolm in the Middle as your Cruise Director and I hope one day soon we will all be together again.
LEASA – Firstly let me answer your question about my schedule next year. I will be visiting the various ships in February and March next year and maybe the Carnival Liberty will be one of them. I will be discussing specifics with Chris in the office and I will let you know as soon as I can. Then I wanted to say a huge thank you for those beautiful words and Heidi and I return them to you and your family.
JIMNI – The address to send mail starting immediately is;
John & Heidi Heald
c/o Chris Prideaux
Carnival Cruise Lines
3655 NW 87th Ave.
Miami, FL 33178-2428
MSOP 304 N
Please include a return address so that we may send Christmas and holiday cards to you …………that goes for everyone. Thanks Ann and thank you also for the lovely words in your posting. Best wishes to you and the family.
SOUTHERN DREAMS – Just let me have your cabin number when you sail on the 16th and I will send you an invitation. So, how are you feeling today? Please take things easy because you have been through so very much. I will be here to welcome you home soon and I am so sorry I cannot be with you for the TA part of your back to back. Best to Charlie and travel safe.
SUSAN – It is so incredible that you all want to send get-well cards to Alan. If indeed you do please send them to him care of the address above or at the side of the blog thingy. I am rapidly running out of words to describe how grateful I am for the support and care you are all showing to someone you have never met. I promise you this………….if you did meet Alan you would like me know immediately that he is a special person…………………….and ugly. Thanks Susan and best wishes to you and your loved ones.
CATMAMA044 -We shall meet in January as you requested. I sincerely look forward to it. See you then.
BILL – ZYDECOCRUISER – You asked about the new rewards program Bill. It looks very good indeed. Let me find out the details in full and ask a few questions and on the next blog I will report back………………I think you get free food! Cheers mate.

That’s all from that blog. Let us move on to the ones from the blog about our Purser Florencia.

DWA76 – You should go to Portugal mate and not just for the catfish. The country is beautiful and the hospitality is friendly and the people warm and welcoming. The Algarve has received a lot of negative press since that little girl went missing there and while our thoughts are with Madeline and her family it is important to remember that Portugal is a safe and fun place to visit. Hope all is well with you mate and seeing the letters DWA on the blog thingy is like coming home to a big mug of comforting tea………….that’s a compliment …………….really it is.
MYRA BUSHNELL – Thank you for the vivid description of trance music which in fact reading it put me in a trance………I was so deep that I believed I owned an Aston Martin at the Miami Heat will win the NBA championship this year………..when I awoke from your induced trance I realized only one of them was true………..I wonder which one? Trance music is one that I will never listen to, I think I would prefer to listen to bass and drum, Hop Hip, Wave and Crap………..sorry…………Rap………..give me Deep Purple any day. Thanks Myra and I would consider a career as a Hypnotist. All the best.
MIKE L – You are correct mate I did spell favorite as favorite ………… that’s me in the dog house with the mystery man again. Thanks for the laugh. Cheers.
SCOTT – Your words of praise on the new design of the blog thingy must go 100% to Roberto. I couldn’t design………well………..anything. My Dad is brilliant. He is a skilled cabinetmaker and has a doctorate in technical drawing and wood design…………….me……………well let’s say the apple fell a million miles from the tree. I have designed a new folding bottle. I thought this would be a brilliant moneymaker so I took it to the Patent office in London with my Dad. We spoke to the lady there and she asked me what I wanted to patent.
I said, “A folding bottle.”
She said, “OK, what do you call it…?”
“A Fottle,” I replied.
“What else do you have?” she asked.
“A folding carton.”
“And, what do you call it…?”
“A Farton.”
She snickered, saying, “Those are silly names for products and one of them even sounds kind of crude.”
I was so upset by her comment that I grabbed the form and left the office without even telling her about my folding bucket.
Thanks Scott, hope all is well mate.
LANCE AND ILDA – How right you are. Portuguese food is fantastic and Portuguese women are stunning. You are a very lucky man to have both in your house. I am glad you are enjoying the interviews so much and there will be more to come. Obligado ……………did I spell that correctly?
KEVIN – I think I owe you a cigar because your description of trance music seems to be correct although calling that music is like calling an Aston martin …..just a car. Talking of which, how is yours doing. How about a description of its handling mate as it is as near as I will get to driving one. Hope all is well and look forward to hearing about your new baby.
SUSAN B – YOUR WISH IS MY COMMAND. Look out for another interview tomorrow.
CATMAMA044 – Thanks for the kind words for our hard-working purser Florence. I have passed them onto her and she is very happy indeed. All the best Catmama.
L.S. – well spotted.
TIM MARTIN – You found us Tim and welcome to the blog thingy. You are joining a blog that has been slapped on 730,000 times since March and has become a wonderful community of cruise friends. I am so glad that you enjoyed you recent Carnival Freedom cruise so much and I appreciate your words of congratulations so much. Thank you for taking the time to post and I hope that you will now become a regular reader. We all welcome you onboard and I send my best to you and the family.


JO MYERLY – You are correct Jo in your praise for the Stromboli photos from Gary. They are indeed amazing and I hope you enjoyed his ones of yesterday’s sunset as well. Best regards to you and Dave and I hope all is well with you both.
CAPTAIN CHUCK – I goggled Mr. Dangerfield and I am sure I have seen him perform somewhere but had forgotten his name and I can see why he was so popular. How are you Captain and how is Dad doing today as he is constantly in my thoughts. I hope you continue to get some “respect” ………… you certainly have it from me.
RUTH JAMISON – Thanks you for the link to Rainbow Bridge and I was sad to learn of the passing of your family pet. Did you get another dog; do you think that is the right thing to do? Thanks for your kind words Ruth and hope to hear from you again soon.

OK, I have to stop there as I have to get this posted and then do some real work. Thanks again though to everyone who took their valuable time to post replies and comments. You are all BRILLIANT.

Here is a reply to you all from Alan.

Hello. My wife Alison and I have been sitting here in sunny (not) Southend On Sea reading all of your messages…….what can one say? John has made me into something of a celebrity and if I had known getting something to grow inside my head was all that it took then I would have done it sooner. It is strange reading get well soon messages from people who you do not know but who thanks to John’s defamation of my character on previous blogs in some strange way I guess I do know.

Considering John made my adolescent years hell and lonely thanks to his inability to attract the female species, it is time that he did something like this. Thank you for thinking of me it really helps and I will have John send in my daily blog from hospital minus the gory details. You are all very kind and a big thank you to you all from Alison and I.

I mentioned my Dad’s office yesterday. This used to be my sister’s bedroom but now has his computer and trains in there plus awards, photos and other memories of the ships and the family. So, as requested here are a few photos for you of Dad’s office.

Dad’s office

Dad’s office

Dad’s office

Dad’s office

Dad’s office
There is one there showing a plaque which I received from a wonderful family whom I will never forget. Their daughter was killed in a shooting incident in Detroit. She was 11 years of age and was in the wrong place at the wrong time. They had taken a cruise with us which was their first time since they lost little Floella. The plaque was sent to me after the cruise and says that I made them realize it was OK to laugh again……………..it is one of my most prized possessions.

Yesterday, in Livorno I was supposed to go Lerdeche on the tour with guests. Unfortunately, Fillip, our Shore Excursion Manager had to leave the vessel suddenly and will return in Dubrovnik. Anyway, I had to take his place and go and visit a vineyard which we will be using for one of the tours next year. I have to admit, I was really not in the mood for a long journey and a few hours walking around looking at a few grapes. Now before I tell you what happened I must apologize, I did not take a camera. I was an idiot and forgot. Heidi was with her Mum at Pisa and if she had been with me of course…………we would have had a camera. Anyway, the place we went to was called Bolgheri and wow…………….it was stunning. The farm we visited was set in a valley with the sea at one end and a hill top village at the other. The farm is owned by the Scilatchi family and was started in 1919. It is now run by Vincenzo the father, his wife Christina and their two sons Salvatore and Carlo and their wives………….sorry, can’t remember their names. Anyway, they toured us through the vineyards full of Cabernet Grapes, Merlot Grapes and and another one whose name was something I didn’t recognize. Then they showed us the olive trees and the smell was indescribable.

After showing us the distilling process and their beautiful gardens we walked back into one of the fields and there set up in the middle was a huge table covered by three large umbrellas………………and what a feast they had laid on for me.


Then came the awkward part……………the wine. I tried to tell the father Vincenzo that I didn’t drink alcohol but he seemed to not understand and then when his son translated he looked like I had just told him his wine was disgusting …………I felt so bad as he poured me a glass of water.

Anyway, we sat there for an hour or so and the ship, the stress, the blog ……….seemed a world away.

I had noticed something though about everyone of the Scilatchi family ………………something that made me so jealous…………something that made me realize that life wasn’t about wanting an Aston Martin……who needs one of those? Do you know what it was that made me realize that these people had what I wanted………………..it was actually something they didn’t have…………….none of them were wearing……………………..a watch …………….not one of them. I had noticed that they had no cell phones and electronic devices and if I had asked if one had a Blackberry they would have said “yes, over there next to the apple trees”…………….but a watch. I asked why…………..the answer was given by Vincenzo in Italian and this is the translation. “When the sun rises, I wake up and go to work. When the sun sets I stop work. I eat when I am hungry and sleep when I am tired.”

Wow, they lead simple life but it was one that right there and then……I wanted…………………………but with an Aston Martin as well.


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.