Christmas Morning with DJ John

December 20, 2007 -

John Heald

I want to share a moment of horror with you all. I woke up this morning and as I was shaving I looked in the mirror and during the night I have developed a full head of hair…………in my nose. I couldn’t believe it. I have never noticed hair in my nose before but this morning I have a small furry animal living in my nostrils. Now, you go through life thinking that your body knows what the heck it’s doing but why has it decided that my nose needs an afro. Anyway, I spent a good ten minutes plucking hairs from my nose this morning and it’s a sure sign that I am getting old……………….I am going to put them on eBay by the way………..bidding starts at $100.

Good Morning from a very cold and frosty England. We had a great time in the Holland and it’s always special for Heidi to spend time with her family. We will spend Christmas here in England and then will spend the New Year celebrations in Holland. Oh, by the way, the next time we go we are taking the car with us and that means we are going on a Ferry from the UK to Hoek van Holland which takes seven hours. We get a cabin and have splashed out and paid an extra £25 for a suite ……………….I can only imagine how this will be and of course I shall share my experiences of our brave adventures with you.

OK, in a moment I am going to hand you over to Heidi who will take over the blog for a few minutes as I want what happened to her told in her own words? So, let’s set the scene. 

Any non-U.S. citizen that works on a cruise ship or private yacht based from the United States must apply for a visa. This seafarer’s visa is called a C1/D1 and unfortunately Heidi’s visa expired last year. Now, the reason we did not renew it was that we have been in Europe on the Carnival Liberty and Carnival Freedom where, because Heidi is from a European Union member country, no visa is required. Now, because we are returning to the US for the Bloggers cruise and beyond we need to get the Mrs. a visa………………this means a trip to the America………………….well……………………by that I mean the American Embassy in the heart of West London. 

Yesterday morning our journey started with a short drive to the railway station to take the train. Driving in London is a nightmare and personally I would rather kiss a camel’s bottom or work for RCI than drive in London………………..hopefully those to statements show you just how bad the driving situation in London is. So, it was a train journey for us and 50 minutes later we arrived in Liverpool Street Station. This is the major station that supplies transport to the south of England and the final shots of Mission Impossible 1 were filmed there starring of course my look a like Tom Cruise. We then took a taxi to Grosvenor Square where the Embassy is located. Now, we should have taken a tube but Heidi does not like tunnels or being enclosed so instead of a £3 tube train ride that was me paying £20 each way for taxis………………………bugger. 

So, we drove through the heart of London past the area where I first had a job working as a Lloyds Insurance Broker, through the heart of the city, past Trafalgar Square and then into the West End. Sometimes I forget how amazing London is and wherever you look a huge and important slice of history is right in front of you……………it’s a great city.

Anyway, we arrived at the United States Embassy and before you admire the huge eagle statue which sits atop the roof or the massive Stars and Stripes Flag fluttering in the breeze the first thing you realise is that this has to be one of the most secure areas in the world and of course it has to be. Now, some of the security measures included that only the Visa applicant could enter which meant I had to say goodbye to Heidi as she passed the various security measures in disappeared inside the vast buildings.

What happened next………………well for that, here is the Mrs.

Hello Everyone. It’s been a while since I have written, but after I returned from applying for my Visa, I told John I had to write about it in the next blog.

After various security checks outside you arrive in this huge building. I wasn’t sure what to expect as the last time I applied for a VISA was in 1996, just after John and I met and I went off for my first adventure on board the Carnival Destiny. Then, I was still living with mum and dad and went to the American Embassy in Amsterdam. Of course, times have changed and I prepared myself for a longer wait than in 1996. After arriving inside the building you are given a number and then you take a seat in a large waiting area.  

Sitting there, you listen to a voice who tells the crowd which number to come forward to which desk. I met one crewmember from South Africa. He was applying for a VISA for the first time and patience wasn’t his middle name. Just like me and a few others, he had filled out his forms with pen and unfortunately this wasn’t accepted. We got the chance to re-do this on one of the computers set up for this purpose. Me, thinking: “Wow, that’s actually great service, they could have just sent you back and this would have cost a lot of time and maybe you would have missed your appointment because of this.” Him, thinking: “*&^%$£%, and more.” And that is one thing that is not advisable in this situation. I hope he won’t treat the guests on the cruise ship he is about to work on like that.  

Anyway, after the papers and my passport were handed in and fingerprints were taken, you are asked to wait until you get called to see a Consul Officer. I waited for about one and a half hours, had a bag of crisps and a soda and just watched everything that was going on around me which was very interesting as everybody has a different reason why they need a VISA, some for work, some to see their family and some to go and study in the U.S.A.

When I was called to see the officer for the interview, I walked up to the desk and met a very nice gentleman who had friendly smile on his face. He had obviously read my papers before I reached him and started to ask me a few questions. Then came the question: “What do you do on the ship?” I told him and then he said: “I see you are married to a Brit.” I said: “Yes, I am.” He then went on…….”What does he do?” I told him that John was the Senior Cruise Director for Carnival Cruise Lines. Then, he said:” He wouldn’t happen to be the famous John Heald, would he?”………………….GREAT, there I was, thinking this man smiled at me in such a kind way because I was nice to him, smiled at him and was polite to him……NO, all along, he had seen John’s name on my form next to the  “married” question. 

I said something under my breath which I can’t repeat here and then said: “Yes, that’s him, do you know him?”  

Oh, and did he know him……he rambled on about his great time on board the Carnival Triumph in 1998 and his most recent European adventures on board the Carnival Liberty with us. So, there I was, chatting with this lovely man about cruise ships and all the great things he had done in various ports. I told him about our blog and if you read this sir, I am sorry that I didn’t get your name but thank you for being so kind and thank you for taking care of my VISA.  

I walked out of the building with a big smile on my face. My husband, the “famous John Heald,” something to be very proud of……and I am.

So, there you go. I guess this is another example of the old adage of “you never know who is onboard.”…………………thanks mate for looking after my wife, come and sail with us again and let me look after you as you did her. Heidi told me also how embarrassed she was at the way the chap who was going to work for another cruise line treated the staff ……………I have a feeling his Visa may take some time to process………………if he gets one at all. One thing I have learned over the last few years is that kindness costs nothing and in the day and age we live in that deep breaths and lots of smiles and lashings of patience are the best weapons.

OK, time to answer more questions and comments from the David Dingle blog. Here we go. To skip the Q&A, click here.

BILL ZYDECOCRUISER – How wonderful that you are sailing on all the three cruises on the Carnival Splendor and we will for sure have lots of time to chat and eat! Now you asked about Fish and Chip shops in Amsterdam and I am sorry to report that there are none. There are however many delicacies I want you to try including the raw herring served in a roll and my favorite the special Dutch Fries called Flammse Frittes served with onions, mayonnaise and satay sauce………………..delicious and served with all these sauces the Dutch call this dish French Fries war………………………..let’s share some together. Merry Christmas mate.
FRANK C – OK, let me start by saying I was amused to read that you know of Paul Potts. He won a talent show here in the UK called The X Factor part of Simon Cowell productions. He used to be a mobile phone salesman (Paul Potts not Simon Cowell) and won the show with his stunning Tenor voice as he sung some of operas most challenging numbers. Anyway, he has obviously done very well if his fame has spread to the Big Easy. I checked to see if he is performing before the cruise but it seems his 2008 dates have yet to be confirmed…………..maybe we could get him to do a concert onboard? Now, as for the Supper Club on the Carnival Splendor and reservations for dinner, I will be taking those a month or so before the ship sails and promise faithfully you will get the time and date you require. Wishing you all a very happy holiday season and see you next year.
P.LETTORALE – Ah yes, London is a must-see venue and you are right that it can be very expensive place to stay. Now, before we talk about hotels let me give you my top ten must see locations within London and the area which you can pick and choose from for your three day pre Carnival Splendor cruise next year……………..Oh, I should point out that this is my own personal list and I am sure others may agree and disagree but here we go.
1. THE TOWER OF LONDON………………..an extraordinary step back in time and of course the Crown Jewels steals the show.
2. ST PAULS CATHEDRAL………………Probably the most stunning Cathedral in the world.
3. BUCKINGHAM PALACE…………….Take a tour of the most famous palace in the world. Don’t forget the Changing of the Guard at noon.
4. THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM………….Not probably but definitely the most incredible museum in the world.
5. THE BRITISH MUSEUM…………………Same as number 4.
6. THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT………….See where great British Prime Ministers such as Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Bl……ok Winston and Margaret have strolled through the corridors of power. Also Big Ben is right there as well.
7. HARRODS………….OK, I hate shopping and the prices are outlandish to say the least but there is nothing like this store anywhere and the Food Hall is a must see.
8. KEW GARDENS……… This is located just outside the city but the Royal Gardens are simply beautiful especially during the long hot British summer nights which should last between three and four days.
9. WESTMINSTER ABBEY………….The scene of Royal Weddings and of course the burial site of past British Monarchs.
10. Simpsons In the Strand…………….My favorite restaurant full of British Food from yesterday and the best Spotted Dick in the world.
As for hotels…….well you need to stay somewhere within central London and I know Carnival has some special rates for pre-cruise stays so I do suggest you give us a call. My favorite hotels are. My favorite hotels include the new Marriott near Oxford Street, Hilton on Park Lane which over looks Hyde Park and if money is no object than Claridges and The Dorchester are the ones that will provide you with a truly British experience. So, there you go and if you need anything else from me please let me know. Have a wonderful Christmas and see you soon.
BIG ED – Only a true friend like you would have noticed Heidi was indeed wearing pointed shoes which have on numerous occasions had a close encounter with bottom. Merry Christmas mate and my best to MBE.
INMN253 – The Bloggers cruise will soon be here and I would like to wish you and your family a very Happy Christmas and see you soon.
BLANCE AND DAVE  – It sounds to me as though Dave is a very lucky man as your love for him was so evident in your posting. I am not sure what happened that made his last three years such unhappy or trying ones but if there is anything I can do to make the next three his best years ever……..I will………………Merry Christmas to you both.
CAROL SCHOENBERGER – Carol. Welcome home. I received your e-mail and was troubled to read of your concerns which I have forwarded to the director of guest relations………….stand by for an immediate response. I had heard that the moving of the cigar bar on the Imagination had been met with great praise and I think that this may be the way forward. Your Xmas gift is waiting anxiously to be opened on the 25th but although a personal thank you will be forthcoming here is one in advance…….THANK YOU. Bloggers 2009 cruise information will follow. I wanted to wish you Happy Holidays and for you to know that I am and always be here at your service.
JERI GREEN – You are not the first to give me a “bollocking ” which means a good telling off in Brit speak that I did not take a closer photo of Heidi’s dress which was unveiled to the general public on the Queen Victoria. This will be rectified when you see the dress in all its glory when we cruise with you on the Imagination. You asked if I would be having any stage time during that trip but unfortunately I will not but I am sure this will leave me lots of time to spend talking to folks like you. Until then I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season.
LONGIN 2 CRUISE – Heidi and I return those wonderful Christmas wishes to you and all your family.
JAKE SILVERBERG – Hello Mate. I read your posting which shows that even though you are only 11 years old you know more about ships than most adults, including me. You mentioned the Queen Victoria and the Vista Class ships and everything you wrote was all correct so I am giving you a big A PLUS and a Gold Star. I know you will have loads of fun on the Carnival Fascination and if you tell me when you sail and your cabin number I will leave a little surprise for you in the cabin. I have never had anyone tell me that I am their Idol before and therefore I making you President of the Junior John Heald Fan Club and for that you will need a special shirt and nametag which I will have for you when you sail next year. Please keep writing and have a wonderful holiday with your family. Cheers mate.
LOIS HAPPYCHRISTMASOWSKI – Don’t worry about not having a cabin number for the Bloggers Cruise yet. I will get it from you the week before or even from the manifest which I will have so all will be well. Heidi and I wish you very Happy Holidays a see you very, very soon.
MIKE L – Hello Big Mike, how are you? I am sorry if I did not reply to your last posting about a security position onboard. You asked about the job and although I am not in a position to write about pay structures for our Chief Security positions I can tell you that Carnival Corp considers Security to be vastly important on all our ships and in today’s world it goes way, way beyond asking a chap who may have had one drink too many to calm down. If you are truly interested in a position please let me know and I will point you in the right direction of our various family of companies who may consider having you join the team. I just thought, I have never interviewed anyone from our security department shoreside so maybe that is something I will do forthwith. Thanks for your patience mate with my reply and have a fantastic Christmas.
LINDA – MOM OF DJ – Thank you for the wonderful Christmas tree story and I know that you and DJ and the family will have a wonderful Christmas together. See you soon and give my best to your brilliant son.
MARK ROBERTSON – I checked with my mate Ken and your reservations are confirmed. Have a fantastic Christmas cruise and please tell Ken a very important message from me “NO SURRENDER”……………he will understand. Happy Christmas and bon voyage.
ALAN AND CHRIS – I have a huge box of gifts and cards to open which I am sure will include your kind and generous gifts from Boston. ……………is there some lobster from Legal Seafood as well? I have seen Christmas Vacation and I guess the Griswald family and I have a lot in common. I hope you and your family have a trouble free Christmas and I will be writing soon to express my thanks for the wonderful gifts.
JANFRWA – Janet, Phil and family thank you for all your kind words and Heidi was happy to know her tree is popular with the Huskies. Enjoy this wonderful holiday season and Merry Christmas.
JTODDINMAN – I know you told me not to respond but I could not do that after yet another wonderful poem. Ahhhhhhhhhhh Sabrina…………….what can I say. Anyway, I want to thank you for your amazing support of the blog and your kind and thoughtful gifts and of course your incomparable poems. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours.
SUSAN B – You will be happy to know that Mum will be OK as the entire Carnival Cruise Lines fleet carries Caffeine Free Diet Coke and Diet Sprite. I hope this will make her happy and talking of happy I want to wish the entire family a very Merry Christmas.
NENY – How I wish I could be there with you for what will be a wonderful Christmas cruise. Todd knows you are sailing and I am sure he will look after you. Can I have your cabin number please? It’s been a long time since we have seen each other and therefore I am truly sorry I will not get to sail with you…………..maybe next time. Merry Christmas Neny and have a wonderful cruise.
TERESA AND PAUL B – If this amazing all inclusive shore excursion which I have arranged for the Bloggers cruise is as popular vas I expect it to be then I am sure it is something that we can add to our permanent program. I know we won’t get to see you on this Bloggers Cruise but maybe if your daughter’s wedding does not break the bank then we will se you on the 2009 cruise. Have a wonderful Christmas and please keep reading the blog thingy.
CRUISIN SUE – Thank you for saying how much you enjoyed your interview with David Dingle. He truly is a smashing chap and I am proud that he gave his valuable time for the blog thingy interview. Now, you asked who the CD will be on the Carnival Pride and it will indeed be Jeff Bronson who along with his staff will make sure your cruise is one to remember. Until then have a wonderful Christmas.
LINDA THE MOUSE – Let me start by saying that I saw a box from you on the top of the pile which the Mrs. and I will be opening on Christmas Day. I will be sending out special messages of thanks but here is one in advance……………..thank you so very much.
Now, I have been trying desperately to get someone, anyone to have these scrap books available on line to buy but so far I guess I must be speaking Mongolian as we have yet to do this. If I had one here in the UK I would send it to you but if I continue to fail in my task of getting these placed online then I will personally buy you one and send it to you once back on board as you have been so kind towards Heidi and I. So, all though I cannot take care of that Christmas wish until January I can wish you and all the Mice a Very Happy Christmas from Heidi and me.
DWA 76 – Mr Dingle was indeed a great advert for cruising around the UK and you are a great advert for all that is good about this blog thingy. Have a great holiday season and Merry Christmas mate.
MARK G – Unfortunately at the time of writing Carnival does not have plans for a second ship to homeport in New Orleans to join the Carnival Fantasy however this may change as situations change there.   If and when this takes place, I really would like to suggest the Carnival Inspiration or the Carnival Imagination whose evolutions of Fun additions have really rejuvenated the vessels. What do you think? Let me know if I can help further mate and until then I wish you all a very Happy Christmas.
TRAVIS AND MARY – Thanks for all your kind words and yes the Queen Victoria trip was truly a memorable experience and I am glad I got to share our experiences with everyone. We are also looking forward to meeting you in January and until then wish you a very merry Christmas.
JIMNI – I know that like you many people wish they were coming on the Bloggers cruise but fear not, there will be many more to follow in the future. Thanks for the wonderful posting and Heidi and I hope you and your family have a fantastic holiday season.
KATHIE KAPERINO – There are plenty of Dolphins at Dolphin Cove and if they can manage the sight of me wandering the beach in a pair of tiger print Speedos ………. they can handle the odd small whale. Not long now and until the Bloggers Cruise comes around allow me to wish you a Merry Christmas until we see each other then.
LEASA – I truly wish I could be with you on the Carnival Liberty in February but I will instead be back on the Carnival Freedom. Your Cruise Director will be Karl with a K whom is rapidly becoming one of our rising stars and therefore I know you will have a great time. Merry Christmas and please keep reDING THE BLOG THINGY.
LAURIE MAAS – I remember your son so very well and as for his antics with Tiffany well they were just priceless. I promise on all that I love that none of the people on stage with me are actors or are part of the paid staff…………..they truly are just passengers…..like you and our guests as you saw can do amazing things once they set foot on stage. Audience participation is my favorite part of entertainment and your son certainly stole the show. I wish him and all your family a wonderful Christmas and I hope we all get to cruise together again very soon.
MARK – Let me get the latest information on all the refit schedules and post them on the blog ASAP. Have a wonderful Christmas mate.

OK, that’s it for now and more comments and questions will follow. Please remember if you need an urgent reply to mark the beginning as such and I will get back to you ASAP.

OK, well tonight I have a special rehearsal and I am a little nervous…………because on Christmas Morning from 7 am – 10 am I am going to be hosting my own radio show. Now, don’t get excited. I have not hit the big time and suddenly been hired by the BBC or have chosen to be the new Howard Stern but the show, never the less is very very special.

For this I must introduce you to Mr. Harry Connely who is one of the executive directors of Southend Hospital. This is the most important hospitals in Essex with 3,000 employees who dedicate their lives to the hundreds of patients and their families each and every day. Indeed, they have looked after me and my family and it is time to give something back.

Harry sailed with me on the Carnival Freedom and suggested that I come and be a guest on their hospital radio service which provides music and entertainment to the hospital patients and staff plus those at other county hospitals. So, last week I went on and did a chat thingy with one of the DJ’s about cruising, the job of a CD and traveling. Well, apparently it was very popular so I have been asked back to host my own show on Christmas Morning.

Hospital radio is staffed and run by volunteers none of which are paid and the service they supply is invaluable. They have 20,000 songs on their play list and the equipment has all been donated…………..they are fantastic folks.

So, today I am off to be shown how to operate the equipment and to discuss with the program director what I will be doing. I will have a technician in the studio to help me but on Christmas Day expect me to be wearing brown pants.

I have decided to host a similar show as I do on the ship……….on my morning show and with that in mind I have asked the hospital to pass out dedication forms with space for special messages. I spoke to the station director today and we already have 80 letters and dedications so that’s a great start.  

After my show there will be live interviews with the patients and their families during visiting hours. 

Anyway, all I have to do now is choose the music I want to play which will be mostly Christmas music plus I am going to play some of the moments from the John Cleese interview. 

I am truly looking forward to doing this and hopefully if the patients decide to put their headphones in and watch and listen on the live TV feed which is played on their beside TV’s that having to spend Christmas Day in hospital will be made just a wee bit more bearable. 

The show will also be dedicated to the doctors, nurses and all the hospital staff who will be working during this special time.

So, thanks to Harry for allowing me this chance to do something special this Christmas …….I hope I can make a difference.

There will be one more blog before Christmas day so until then I wish you;

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.