Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?

November 29, 2007 -

John Heald

One of the very best shows you will ever see on any cruise ship — or anywhere for that matter — is currently onboard the Carnival Freedom.  It’s called “The Big Easy” and is, of course, a tribute to the people and the city of New Orleans.

You know, when you mention the name of this incomparable city you obviously think of the terrible devastation and suffering that was caused by the wrath of Hurricane Katrina — and that’s normal of course. However, each cruise “The Big Easy” show is a reminder of New Orleans’ heritage and, in particular, its unique contribution to the world of music and entertainment. The show also shows how through faith and determination the city is on the rise once again. It is therefore an honour (spelt correctly) to introduce to you Gary LaGrange, president and CEO of the Port of New Orleans.

1. Before we talk about the rejuvenation of your Great City can you describe your own personal feelings the morning after the storm when you surveyed the damage to the Port itself?
As Hurricane Katrina set her sights on New Orleans 30 hours before landfall, the view of the Mississippi River outside my office was a sight to behold. The Mississippi was emerald green, dotted with white caps, and flowing upriver. With all her force, Hurricane Katrina was pushing the Mississippi back toward its source with water from the Gulf of Mexico. I knew this storm was the mother lode and we were in for a long ride.


Good Morning everyone.

So there I was, hanging outside the ladies dressing rooms in Harrods, which is ancient Egyptian for RIP OFF, holding Heidi’s bag and waiting to tell her that her bottom did indeed look tiny in the dress she was trying on. I hate shopping as I have expressed before and standing outside that dressing room I moved shopping up to the number three spot of things I hate to do after dancing and wearing boxers.

Why were we there then I hear you ask?………………..two words……………..Queen Victoria.

Friday night started off well with a nice dinner of fresh scallops and prawns which Heidi cooked in a Wok while I did nothing except watch TV. After dinner I settled down for a night watching soccer on TV when I heard Heidi shout from the bedroom in that voice that women can automatically switch on when they want something, “Can you come here please? I need you.”………………What was wrong, had she hurt herself, was she in pain? I ran (ok, walked quickly) to the bedroom to find her sitting on the bed starring at the walk in closet. She looked at me with those Cocker Spaniel Eyes and said “I have nothing to wear for the Queen Victoria naming ceremony , Prince Charles and his wife will be there and so will George Hamilton……………I can’t go.”


Miles of Imagination

November 21, 2007 -

John Heald

Back in the mid 1990s, I was chosen to be the first cruise director of the Imagination when it debuted in 1995. This would be my second new ship as cruise director following the delivery of her sister, the Sensation in 1994.

Back in those days, the ship would arrive in her homeport (Miami, in this case) and sit dockside for 10 days or so before her inaugural season began. This meant that myself and many of the staff would join the ship in Miami rather than in the shipyard as we do today.

I remember walking off the Sensation and my mate Gordon Buck, who is now vice president of Caribbean relations, gave me a lift down to the pier in his car with all my luggage. Of course, this was before dockside security was at the level we are at today.

I have to say that from the moment I walked on the ship, she instantly became my favorite ship…………and she still is. Why?  Well, the crew, the captain, the decor, the guests (we called you passengers back then), the ambience, the ports and oh yes……..Heidi and I got engaged on that ship a few years later. Overall, it has something “unique” — something very special and it always has. Ask many of our crew what their favorite ship is and the answer will no doubt from many be the Imagination. And you know what? She just got better.

Resort style pools


Thanksgiving Day Wishes

November 21, 2007 -

John Heald

£3.50 a liter, ($7) it’s bloody outrageous, have they lost their minds? No, I am not talking about petrol I am in fact taking about …………..water. Heidi (she is home by the way and more about that later) sent me shopping. We had friends coming over for dinner and an hour before they were due to arrive, the flag was raised because she discovered we had……….no sparkling water.

I saw pure panic in her eyes and I was tasked to go and get two-liter bottles of sparkling H20. “Can’t we just give them water from the tap? (forcet, fawcet or however you spell it)………………….her answer was to throw my car keys at me and I began my trek to the supermarket.

Anyway, I have to admit that I have no idea about supermarket prices as Heidi has always been in charge of that stuff but I guess as I was on my own and that I approached the checkout with only two bottles of water I realised what a complete rip off bottled water has become. Stick some fancy Italian or French name on the bottle and it appears that you can charge what you want……….Perrier apparently is French for “I can’t believe you are paying all this money for water you English idiot.”

How can we complain about the cost of petrol when water…………costs more per liter than the black stuff…………………it’s a strange world. (more…)

Six Sisters, One Family

November 19, 2007 -

John Heald

Good Morning everyone.

A few days ago a blogger had requested more information about how the six North American companies interact between each other and what programs, if any, were in place to allow guests rewards for sailing on each of our families cruise lines. Well, I decided to ask a wonderful chap who I knew could tell us about our six sisters and how under a very special and deserved title, we are………….one family.

Here therefore is an interview with Mr. Jack Andersen, executive director for the World’s Leading Cruise Lines, the marketing association for Carnival Corporation & plc’s six North American brands.

Mr. Jack Andersen, executive director for the World’s Leading Cruise Lines, (more…)

Boxing Day

November 17, 2007 -

John Heald

Nothing has happened………….nothing…………for the first time this year I have nothing to write about.

Good Morning, its 9:45am and I sit here thinking about what to write and honestly this has the potential of becoming the most boring blog in the world……….ever.

Yesterday, I did not leave the apartment. I sat, I watched TV, I cooked myself beans on toast for lunch and had Indian food delivered for dinner. I didn’t speak to anyone except my parents, Alan and Heidi. The phone didn’t ring and even my raspberry e mail machine  thingy was quiet………..the apartment was still……it was like living in a monastery ………. and it was Thursday! So, what therefore can I write about ……….the answer is nothing.

Good night

Your friends

John and Heidi


Your questions answered

November 15, 2007 -

John Heald

Good Evening everyone and as I have 40 minutes before my football game starts on TV I thought I would answer some of the questions and comments from the blog called The Rough and the Smooth. Lets get going.

PAUL F. PIETRANGELO – Hello Paul and how wonderful to hear from you sir. First of all our sincere and greatful thanks for the gift that you sent us. We received the mail from Chris Prideaux yesterday (some of it anyway) and personal replies will be winging their way to each and every person who took their precious time to send us thoughts and gifts. Thank you for asking about Alan whom grows stronger each and every day ……….he has a long way to go but my mate is a true inspiration and his life values are a shinning example to us all. Please remind me again when and where you are cruising and I hope this blog thingy finds you and the family well and please know we send you all our warmest regards as always. See you soon…………..I truly hope that comes true.
GREG BALDASARRI – The sofa is still haunting me. The stain has been treated to more chemicals than Brittney Spears and although the stain has gone the stain has faded it has left a large dark circle on the brushed leather……..D Day is on Monday when the Eagle will land. Thank you mate for all the kind words and I am glad the addition of the Big Screen has been met with such great applause. Shortly, I will be interviewing someone from the Carnival Imagination as we discuss the recent refit. Thanks as always and thanks for mention the Heat who are playing The Supersonics tonight, I predict a 88 – 96 Heat win. Hope all is well and our finest wishes to you and the family mate. (more…)

An Eggcelent Evening

November 14, 2007 -

John Heald

Yesterday I ate the most expensive egg in the world. It was £13 or $27 but you got a free English Muffin and a two slices of ham so that’s all right then. Good Evening everyone and thanks for tuning in this evening.

Last night I went for dinner in London with three friends and business associates. They are Jonathan Blackburn, and Gary Parks and his partner Juan. These gentlemen have been responsible for booking all the amazing entertainment acts and the wonderful musical duos who provided such unforgettable experiences for all this season’s Carnival Freedom European cruises. Jonathan and Gary also provide the entertainment for all of London’s major hotels including The Dorchester, Claridges, The Ritz and Motel 6. They are “faces” in London and everyone knows them. So, knowing I was feeling blue without Heidi they invited me out for dinner to a new and ultra cich, shich, scheek……..posh restaurant called ……..well see for yourself………

This is one of those hip new restaurants that London has become famous for and after drinks at the Dorchester Hotel……… coke for me of course…..we headed to the restaurant. Getting a table there is ……..well………..lets just say unless your George Hamilton, a Spice Girl or someone who walks in carrying a small white fluffy dog with a skirt the size of a belt and saying your name is the same as the capital city of France ……..then as the New Yorkers would say…….forgedaboudit.


The Rough And The Smooth

November 12, 2007 -

John Heald

Good Evening everyone from my little office here in our apartment. The only noise you here are the sea and the occasional fox in the foraging for food in the bins. The nearest neighbours are 500 meters away and as I sit here on my own the ship and my job feel a million miles away. The only unfortunate thing is that my raspberry e-mail machine thingy still gets perfect reception…………bugger.

I forgot to tell you the other day about some exciting news for folks who will be sailing on the Carnival Victory. She has just returned from dry dock and has been refitted with some wonderful additions and upgrades. One of the most popular new features will be for sure the Carnivals’ Seaside Theatre LED screen. These are all ready in place as you know on the Carnival Liberty and Carnival Freedom and the same screen has been placed now on the Carnival Victory. Having seen the ship before I flew home I can report the screen looks even bigger on a Destiny class ship then it does on a Conquest class ship. The Carnival Victory has been rejuvenated and visiting her gave me the same feeling I always have when I walk on a brand new vessel……she looks brilliant.

Let me answer a few questions and comments. I see many of you have kept posting even though my blogs are less frequent at the moment. I also noticed many of you asking what the heck I was doing with a bottle of red wine which was spilled on the couch……. considering I don’t drink. Well, I decided to start drinking again and was entertaining a young lady who looked just like Catherine Zeta Jones. I had poured her a glass of 1964 Chateau Rothschild as her deep blue eyes undressed me. Her soft lilywhite Thighs …………… ok………back to reality. I was unpacking a box of groceries and transporting a bottle of Chateau La Cheapo from the bag to the wine rack when it slipped out of my hand, bounced of the wooden floor and that was the couch covered in cheap red wine.

Here are today’s Q and A.To skip the Q&A, click here.

JOE KYLE – Hello Joe and thanks for posting a comment. The issue of loyalty amongst the family companies within Carnival Corporation has been raised before. I guess what you are saying is that if you have cruised Carnival say 10 times and then decide to sail on a Princess ship that you should be entitled to some sort of benefit for sailing within the family rather than going say to another cruise line. You know what mate… are right……..maybe this is something we should look at, a Carnival Corporation loyalty program seems like it would benefit everyone especially if it means that you and many others will only think about a cruise within the family rather than vacation anywhere else. I know there are great minds that read this blog thingy and I expect one such great mind will read this and e mail me telling me why we cannot or, hopefully, that we can investigate this. Certainly in my humble and non important opinion, I think there can and should be more cross promotion within our sister companies and maybe that is something that in just a small way I can influence with this blog thing. Hang in there mate, don’t get frustrated and lets see what happens…… soon as the “great mind” reads this and lets me know what’s what….I will let you know. Until then, happy cruising and my best to you and the family.
GREG BALDASARRI – Hello mate. I have tried stain remover and leather cleaner on the wine stain on the sofa but it now looks a deep brown leather sofa that has been used in a CSI program………I am in so much trouble. I have not told Heidi yet and hopefully she will be to busy with her Mum to read the blog. I thought about the blanket but living with Heidi is like living with Sherlock Holmes and she will deduce something is wrong immediately. Thanks for your praise of the Miami Heat although at 0 – 5 we need that little bit of luck, once we win one game I know we can start a run. I am also glad to hear you are interested in the 2009 bloggers cruise and very soon we shall finalize the dates etc. Thanks as always for your kind posting and our best to you and the family.
JTODDINMAN – One day………one fine day…….I will be able to shake your hand and say thank you in person for all your kindness and treat you like a rock star. Thanks again mate, you are one of a kind.
BIG ED – Touched a nerve did I with the suggestion of replacing a warming cake with a Spotted Dick? I can understand that you don’t like the idea but threatening me with being relived of my Small Ed is a bit extreme isn’t it. OK, the chocolate cake stays but I know people in the dining room so expect to find instead of the steak you ordered a large portion of Toad In The Hole.
LISA AND ELAINE – First of all thanks for all the kind words. Then as far as the future plans for Carnival following our meetings last week I can tell you that there is a new surge of commitment from us all to make sure we continue to be the best. I can’t say anything just yet though but as soon as I can I will let everyone know any news. The Bloggers Cruise plans are in full swing. We have chosen some gifts  that each blogger will receive as well as some dining options with me and the schedule for private and exclusive events…it is going to be a blast. Hope all is well and we will see you very soon.
SHERYL PELTON – Thanks Sheryl and I am glad you are still finding the odd piece of mirth in my now very random thingies. I miss Heidi, she will be home a week on Monday and I am doing my Florence Nightingale bit in looking after Alan. Thanks again for all your kind words and our best to you all.
TORBELINOBLANCO – Do they make sugar free Funnel Cakes…..the sound delicious and many thanks for sharing something like this………can you mail me one or twenty?
RICH HUGHES – Hello mate. Glad you enjoyed the champagne and I hope you enjoyed your celebrations on the Carnival Freedom. I am afraid that as you and I and many others have found that flying out of Rome airport is as pleasant as sharing a confined space with a skunk. It smells and the people who work there all seem to have taken a course in how to say “NO” as rudely as possible. Anyway, thanks for reading the blog thingy and I truly hope you will continue to do so. Cheers mate.
KICKASKI – Hello George and hello Linda. It feels ages since I have written to you and even longer since we sailed together. I read your comments on choices for you and many others from Florida and they have been noted and passed to the folks who decide where our ships go. One thing that will be happening ion the future is Carnival’s commitment to discover new itineraries and to place our ships in the most convenient of homeports. Now, on to the 2009 Bloggers Cruise. Right now, the Inspiration is looking favorite for February of 2009. I do not have the exact details yet and I know you need to know as soon as possible as do many others. I will have the final details ASAP but I can promise you that there will be a 2009 Bloggers Cruise and 99% it will be a 5 day adventure sometime in January or February. I hope you are both well and thank you so much for your continued support of the blog. Our best to you both.
LINDA HERNACKI – not long now and you will be wearing your blogger shirts on the Carnival Freedom. Again, I wish I could be with you both but I am certain you will have the most wonderful time. We are both thinking of you and wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.
MISSINGTHESMOKEFREEPARADISE – Hello Jon. Are you home now. I hear the crossing was fun although I also hear you had a few bumpy days at sea. I hope you will be sending in a full report. It was great meeting you even though it was a short relationship I feel we belong together…………don’t tell Heidi.
RAY – Thanks mate, hope you had fun in Orlando at the food festival……..was there any spotted dick?
LISA WIGGS – Todd has been warned of your pending arrival. My raspberry thing works everywhere and I was secretly hoping that it would not……oh well. Hope you have a fantastic time and let me know if there is anything I can do for you beforehand. Cheers.
DOUG – Goodness me, 1998, your Honeymoon cruise….I bet that feels like ages ago, not because you have been married for a long time or that you are not happy or that you are thinking what the heck was I doing…….ok, I am waffling now……what I meant was that it has been 10 years since we sailed together and that’s too long. I am sure you will have a good cruise with Micky and Donald but I am happy that showed some desire to return home to Carnival. Maybe I can persuade you to come and see me in March on the Carnival Freedom. If not, how about a Med cruise in the summer or maybe come on the Bloggers cruise in 2009…………the choices are many. One thing is for certain though and that is 10 years is to long and its time for a reunion……..what do you say?
MARK AND SHELLY – You asked if I do have any neighbours who are like some of our unreasonable guests…………ummmm……..yes…….funny you should mention that ………as you will see below. Best to you both, wish you were my neighbours.
KRISTEN L – Sorry your speaker was boring. Do you know that I was offered a job last year with a big company that is involved in teaching management techniques and self help, etc etc. I though hard about taking it, the money was amazing and the benefits as well. The main reason for not taking it was self doubt, I just couldn’t see myself standing in front of people talking about management techniques when mine are ……… ummmm ……….different. Maybe one day. Glad the Speedos made you laugh; I wish you could have seen me today trying to figure out the washing machine. There were too many settings and buttons so I choose the setting marked “ask Mum to do it.” Hope your day was better and keep smiling. All the best Kristen.
SUSAN B – Heidi never did get her coat back from the guest. She couldn’t be bothered and hopefully Heidi’s act of kindness will have had the guest walking off the vessel feeling that she has been treated in a very special way…………….and of course Heidi now has the excuse to go out and buy a new coat as well…… everyone is a winner……except me………what a shocker. Thanks for all your kind words Susan and our best to you and the family.
BEV – Welcome back to Aussie and thanks for taking the time to fly for hours as you said to get to the Med and to the Carnival Spirit for your Alaska and Hawaii cruise. You are correct, its a long way to fly, if only they could move Australia and put it in the Caribbean. Seriously, don’t be surprised if one day you see the Carnival smokestack anchored next to the Sydney Opera House. You also mentioned your concern about the cigar bar being placed in front of the access point to the Internet Cafe. You are not the first and you will not be the last to mention this and even as a cigar smoker I realise this is a design mistake. We only have 4 smoking areas out of 15 public lounges and entertainment areas on the Conquest class ships but I agree it is not nice for people who do not smoke to have to walk through there to get online. It will be interesting to see where the industry as a whole places itself with regard to smoking……….we will see soon I am sure. Thanks for saying you missed me on the Carnival Spirit, I missed you too. Please keep reading the blog thingy and our best to you all down under.
CAROL SCHOENBERGER – It’s not such a crazy idea that I am still in CD mode as you will discover shortly. Don’t worry too much about your forthcoming Carnival Imagination cruise. You will not forget anything, just don’t pack Slinky by mistake. Thanks for the kind words for Alan, Mum and Dad and Heidi and my best to you and Slinky………..can it go down stairs alone or in pairs?
CHRIS B – It’s brilliant that you posted on my thingy, thanks mate. You asked who the Cruise Director will be on your Carnival Legend cruise? The answer is Brent, a great and talented young man from Canada….eh? Now, as far as your juggler nephew is concerned. Can you tell me where he is based and something about him please and I will be able to point him in the right direction. Look forward to hearing from you.
PEANUTS – Can you send Roberto or I your address and the trophy will be on its way to you………thanks for the reminder as now I don’ have to wear Big Ed’s underwear as a hat. The Miami Heat are playing New York tonight…………this is a game they have to win. Cheers Peanuts……….two peanuts walking through Central Park…… was asalted.
LUVCRUSIN – I can imagine how long it must have taken you to catch up on all the blog thingies so thank you so much for taking the time to do so. I hope you and Mum in Law had a fun vacation and I will try and post as many blogs as I can. It will not belong before you are walking up the gangway of the Carnival Freedom with your daughter for what is certain to be a very special cruise. Until then, please keep reading the blog thingy and our best to the whole family.
DWA76 – How are the Cowboys doing mate? Hope you are well and yes, try some porridge; it’s the best thing for a cold winter’s morning. Hope you are well mate and please write soon.
JOHN N – as requested, here is the return of the
Complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica. 45 volumes.
Excellent condition.
$1,000.00 or best offer.
No longer needed. Got married last weekend. Wife knows everything.
Hope you enjoyed that one mate and I will remember to post more soon. Cheers.
ANNE E – Thanks for asking about the floods. Luckily, all the fears came to nothing as the winds eased and the tide did not surge as expected. In fact, the only flooding was caused by my accident with the red wine bottle. Thanks for your concern though Ann. I hope all is well with you and your family and please write soon.
CAPTAIN CHUCK – Ahhhhhh, the intruder excuse…..that’s a good one but unfortunately Heidi has a sixth sense that allows her to immediately know when I am telling porky pies (that’s rhyming slang for lies.) This ability usually results in a nervous reaction where her foot raises up and swiftly connects with my bottom…………I therefore fear my fate is sealed………..its doghouse time. Great to hear from you Captain and I hope you are well.
NANI – How are you?
JERI GREEN – I wish I could influence the experiences that make Rome airport such negative ones. Honestly, a herd of Buffalo could do a better job of organizing things there. Anyway, it looks like booking the 28-day cruise has meant that you do not have to deal with Mr and Mrs Rudeacino and their many friends at the airport. I hope you have many happy memories of your time on the Carnival Liberty and I hope I get to sail with you very soon.

That’s all for today and once again, if anyone has anything they would like me to reply to please can you slap it on this blog and I will respond the next time I write.

You know, I was just talking about flooding. The south east of the UK was under a flood watch and although we were all a little nervous anytime you mention the word flood you immediately think of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans and the area. I wonder how things are going down there, I wonder how the people and the port are rising to meet and beat the slings and arrows that have been fired upon them. I know, lets ask. I am going to send a series of questions to the Port Director of New Orleans and ask him how life is and about the rejuvenation of this great city………watch out for that interview on a blog thing soon.

Oh yes, my neighbour. Our apartment block sits on the sea front in Southend and has five floors. We are on the fourth floor and the people above us in the Penthouse are a couple my age. I have not got to know them very well but I do know he is a vet (as in animals, sorry but I couldn’t spell veterinarian) and she owns a restaurant in town.

Anyway, this morning as I went to my car that they were getting out of theirs and she had a Costa Cruises sweatshirt on. Trying to make small talk I said how nice it was to be back (I don’t think they had noticed the apartment had been empty for 9 months) and “OH, I see you went on a cruise, did you have a good time?”………what followed was 10 minutes of how Costa was not as good as the other cruise line they had sailed on and the food and the entertainment and the passengers who were not friendly etc…….they finished with ……we are going back to our favorite cruise line……………oh what’s that I asked………”Princess” …………..I just smiled and after a few moments got into the car and thanked the boss upstairs for them not asking me if I have ever cruised or what I did for a living Now the reason I was getting in the car was I was going shopping.

As I have written recently, I hate shopping and the fact that I decided to go must tell you that it was only because there was nothing in the house……….nothing. The fridge, which when Heidi is here magically fills itself up with milk and things is emptier than a Royal Caribbean climbing wall……….and disaster…………I had run out of toilet paper and short of using the shower curtain I new that was the final straw……..I had to go shopping.

So, off I went to our local supermarket which is something called Waitrose. This is like a Publix except there are no Twinkies or Diet Root Beer…….shame. Anyway, as I was pushing the trolley around I was deep in thought……should I get the blue toilet paper by Andrex or the supermarkets own brand which was £2 cheaper……….if I did would it be soft enough or would it be like using sandpaper……so deep in thought was I that somehow my brain thought I was on the ship and that I was a CD again………this was not a good thing for the poor lady and her husband who as they passed me and the toilet paper were asked by a complete stranger”

Hello, how are you. “Now, an American or Canadian may have stopped and said ‘fine thanks, how are you’”” but us Brits are too stuffy for that and the husband just stared at me and ushered his wife away from the potential axe wielding maniac who had dared to ask them how they were.

By the way, that was the second mistake I made as I bought the cheap toilet paper ………. ouch ……going shopping tomorrow for better toilet paper and a new shower curtain.


Your Friends

John and Heidi

Porridge and Red Wine

November 8, 2007 -

John Heald

Good Morning everyone from a very chilly Southend On Sea Essex, UK. It’s strange waking up on my own and the house seems very quiet this morning. My sleep pattern is still a little messed up. Last night I was in bed and asleep by 9:30 pm and now find myself awake and sitting here blogging at 7:30 am……….fully clothed though you will all be glad to hear.

Heidi is having fun with Mum in Holland and will be home on the 19th. Until then I shall visit with Alan and my other friends and, of course, enjoy the daily delights that my Mum will conjure up in the kitchen. I will make my own breakfast this morning which will be  a big bowl of something called Ready Brek. This is basically oat porridge and with some Splenda sugar free …ummmm….sugar ontop it really warms and fills you up.  Last night my raspberry machine was bleeping non-stop and I also had a conference call with the office about the forthcoming Carnival Freedom 4-day cruise. After that and the emails had been sent I drove to my Mum and Dad’s and had dinner. Now, it feels like I am  talking about food a lot today but as many of you expressed an interest in my daily grazing activities

Will continue to let you know what edible treats I have enjoyed. Last night I had chicken curry…..Mum’s recipe and this morning I am enjoying the repercussions of eating this particular dish……if Heidi was here I would be you know where.


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.