Paradise Found

January 31, 2008 -

John Heald

Thirty something years ago a young man named Richard Branson formed a company called Virgin. He started with a record label which produced some of the most famous bands of the seventies and of course today we have Virgin Airways (yes, they do go all the way) Virgin Money, Virgin Mobile etc. This has made Richard a lot of money and one thing he did buy was his own private Caribbean island called Neckar. This is where the likes of Pee Daddy, Beeonsay, Jay Low and other celebrities pay trillions of dollars to experience the finest in Caribbean luxury without having to share them with ordinary mortals like me and you. In fact, legend has it that George Hamilton’s tan comes mostly from the beaches of Neckar. Visiting and vacationing on a private island it would seem is just for the rich and bronzed………………………..or is it. A few years ago our sister company Holland America bought an island they would call Half Moon Cay and it has become one of the most talked about destinations our corporation ships visit …………….. and today, for the first time…………….I got to see it for myself. halfmooncayblog5.jpg

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Grand Turk……pure and simple

January 30, 2008 -

John Heald

Once upon a time on an Island far far away there lived a few hundred people who spent their days fishing, growing fruit spending their evenings drinking Tequila and enjoying the music of the Mariachi band………..El Locos. There were white sandy beaches where people would frolic naked in the deep blue water and occasionally, just occasionally a tourist would venture to this paradise to stay in the only hotel on the island Las Motelo Sixo.One day a young man called Jose A was fishing with his brother from their small boat. It was a beautiful day, the sun was sitting high in the sky radiating the crystal sea. Jose A had already caught enough fish for supper that night and was just thinking about rowing back to shore when he saw something on the horizon. At first he thought his eyes were playing tricks on him and he cupped his hand over them to get a better look……………..no………….there was something there.

Jose A watched as the object got closer. It was huge………..white and shining…………..he could not believe his eyes ………….it was a ship………a huge white ship and it was heading straight for them.

Jose A, woke his brother Jose B who had been enjoying a siesta at the back of the boat oblivious to the fact that while he had been asleep Jose had slipped a crab down his shorts……………he had been dreaming about his senjorita but awoke now in both shock and pain as Carlos the Crab tried to become friends with his nachos ……………….. owwwwwwwwwo…………screamed Jose B……………”nevero mindo thato ” said Jose A……….looko at thato.” he said with disbelief in his voice.

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I have never been to Las Vegas. It’s not that I never wanted to go, it’s just that I never seemed to have a reason to go there. The reason however that I mention this is that tonight I heard a guest say to his friends………………”This is better than Vegas.”

Now, you would have expected him to say this as a cascade of quarters poured out of the slot machine he was playing or after watching one of our award-winning shows …………… in fact he was saying this about the ship and the overall experience ……………. more about that in a moment.

Heidi had a special treat today……………..something called a Hot Stones Massage in the new Spa Carnival. She told me that they use small stones from a volcano in Bali ………….. although they probably pick them up from the beach in Nassau. Anyway, she returned floating on air proclaiming she felt like a new woman…………I said I felt like a new woman as well which was met with a close encounter with a pillow. Heidi did say that the Spa is stunning and I will write more about that and slap on some photos later this week.

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Schools Out

January 29, 2008 -

John Heald

My school days were a mixture of hard work, strict discipline accompanied by a forced sports program and home work each and every night. Our uniform was a bizarre mixture of purple and black with the trousers made from a torturous material called “serge.” This material had you feeling like a thousand tiny insects were running up and down your legs stopping only to tickle you with a feather………..it was hell. Our lessons included the basic Math, English, French and German and, of course, the sciences of Biology and Physics.

Then there were the practical subjects of Woodwork, Metalwork and Technical Drawing.

Now, while I was never the sharpest tool in the shed at English and Math when it came to the practical subjects I was thicker than an armored plated elephant and stood out like a Frenchman in a packed elevator on a hot sunny day………………I stank.

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The State of the Union…..Is the fun has begun

January 29, 2008 -

John Heald

You would have thought it was a day at sea…………….whereas for the last three years I have been cocooned in the bosom of Europe where on embarkation day the ship is like a library here on the new Carnival Imagination it was fun all the way. The pools were busy, people were sunbathing and some obviously had not seen the sun for some times as there lily-white thighs glistened with the glow of Hawaiian Tropic sun. A group of guests all wearing the same T-shirt that proudly stated they were here for “Leroy and Jo – Jo’s 50th Anniversary” were dancing to the calypso band and those happy Caribbean days I had enjoyed on this ship came flooding back.

Heidi and I did a quick tour of the ship and the “Evolutions of Fun” have transformed this vessel from a 15-year-old ship with a future out of the limelight to a born again Fun Ship who deserves to be in the spotlight and this week with all the press and little old me ……..OK……big old me….

Tomorrow I will be writing about some of the new features that are simply stunning but for now I need to get ready for the press party. Oh, before I do let me tell you about earlier today. We boarded the ship around 2 pm and the reception we received has been so wonderful from the Captain and all the old faces I remember and some whom, to be honest, that I do not.

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It's not my Imagination….The Heat won

January 28, 2008 -

John Heald

Back in the 1980’s the Boomtown Rats had a number one hit across the world called “I Don’t Like Mondays.”………………..well, its 8:30am on Monday and I am sorry to disagree but I do like Mondays, particularly this one as I get to return to the Carnival Imagination for the first time since 1997…………….more about that later but first lets return to Saturday.

It had been a fantastic week, sailing with the bloggers and meeting so many new friends and Saturday morning was not one I was looking forward to. Firstly, I once again had to live through the nightmare scenario of Friday afternoon and evening……………….Heidi was packing again. Now, I understand she has to do this more than most, we do travel a lot but does she have to turn into that woman from The Exorcist every time………………I mean, I could pack myself………..ok, I may have forgotten the odd thing and have to wear one brown sock and one blue one and have no clean underwear (am I bothered) but at least I wouldn’t have to watch Heidi’s head spin around as she tells me that I “don’t understand how to pack properly and that I have no more right to live on God’s earth then a dung beetle for making her pack…………….again.”

Anyway, once her head had stopped spinning and the battered old Samsonites once again were closed it is my job to lift them off the bed. Now, I love my wife, I love her more than an Aston Martin full of naked supermodels shouting “there’s room for one more big boy.” But once again I know that as I lift the suitcases off the bed I know I will discover that she has slightly over packed and the suitcase will weigh the same as a baby elephant…………….and I was right………………….so that’s my back buggered again.

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Unser Schwester………..Aida

January 27, 2008 -

John Heald

I learned German at school for 5 years. I actually remember my teacher Mr. Mason telling me I was rather good. I studied, listened to tapes and considering the words “could do better” and “needs improvement” and “if he is not careful John will grow up to become a Cruise Director” were used to describe all my other classes it was German where at least I was not at the bottom of the class. However as I sit here typing this blog’s introduction I can only remember a few words. I can say:

Wo ist Das Strassenbahnhalterstella………………”Where is the bus stop?”

Ich hebe ein Kopfschmerzen……………”I have a headache”…………… something my wife can say in 15 languages.

Why am I saying this…..well…………..I really wanted to introduce our guest star in German but unless he has a headache or wants to go on a bus I will have to stick to English.

You are all aware of our sister companies. ……….Princess, Costa, Holland America, Cunard and Seabourn. However, we have a European sister as well and as you might have guessed…………..she is a schwester……….a German sister. Her name is Aida and my friends who have recently returned from a voyage on one of their ships told me quite simply that the ship, the atmosphere in fact the whole package was one of the most brilliant voyages they had ever taken.

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An Affair to Remember

January 26, 2008 -

John Heald

The first two days of this cruise which were full of wind and rain have been long forgotten as the sun once again blesses us with its presence. Good morning on this beautiful Friday at sea. I am sitting here with my skinny cappuccino and my bowl of All Bran Rope cereal.

It’s 7:45am, the sun is out, the sea is calm and it is a perfect start to the day……………..unless of course I was to tell you that I was sitting writing to you in just my underwear so I won’t……….I don’t want to spoil that perfect day at sea image.
Another busy day awaits me. Last night after thwarting the kid with the laser pen and once the show was over I had a whole choice of things to do. I couldn’t decide whether to watch the midnight comedian show, have a cigar with some blogger friends and the press or just visit the lounges……………..so…………………I went to bed………………..I had to………….I was running on empty and last night was the first time I have been to bed before 1:00am and the seven hours of sleep I just had has set me up for the very busy day that awaits me.

First, I have a morning show. Usually this starts at 9:30am but as I have received 60 letters I decided it would be best to start it at 9:00am to allow me enough time to read everyone’s dedications before the 11:00am debarkation talk. By the way, I am now drinking a bottle of water to wash down this lump of dried fruit and wood shavings Heidi is making me eat for breakfast. The bottle tells that the water has come from the mountains of Switzerland and has flowed there for hundreds of years……….now if that is the case…………why does this bottle of water tell me that I have to drink it by October 2008? It’s one of those things that really annoys me………………a bit like the fact that when Heidi puts her mascara on she does so with her mouth open……..like some basking shark……….it is impossible for her to do this maneuver with her mouth closed and I have witnessed that this is an affliction suffered by thousands of women……………….and that’s me in the doghouse.

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Mission Impossible

January 25, 2008 -

John Heald

I stalked the show room like a cheetah stalking his prey. I was ready, poised like a coiled spring waiting to explode from the shadows……………..I waited……. keeping to the edges of the Victorian Lounge…………nobody noticed me………I was the grey man.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw something move……something that made my defenses stand to…………I had found him……..my prey…………and he was mine.
 
I crept toward my target……mouth open…..breathing through my nose so he would not hear or smell my jerk-pork-flavored breath……………I told myself that I should have had a pre-mission Tic Tac.

 I stopped about 10 feet short of where he sat. He was wearing a blue sweatshirt and jeans and his muscles rippled through this sleeves……………this was not going to be easy. I considered calling for back up but decided against this in case any sudden additions to the area where he sat would alert him. I remembered my training and before my final approach I made sure that no coins or loose objects were in my pockets and would rattle thus alerting the target which I had designated………Tango 1.

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“Oh, it’s the Cruise Director ….good………I have a complaint”……………….now, under most circumstances this would have been no problem, however this happened half an hour ago…………at 6:40 am.

Heidi and I have been staying in a guest cabin this week. We have been working out of the CD cabin but because Todd still has all his belongings in the bedroom section of the cabin we have been sleeping on deck 1. This morning, as we have each and every morning we awoke to the sound of the alarm on my raspberry thingy telling me it was 6 am. I have to say that this morning was really hard to get out of bed as I had another late night. Heidi had relegated me to the doghouse just because my bottom had decided to do an impression of a machine gun (blame the curry)……..so overall I was not in the best of moods.
So, at 6:40 am we opened the cabin door to head to the office and as we stepped into the corridor a couple exited from the cabin opposite.

I won’t even bother telling you what there complaint was……….ok………actually I will…………it’s just so trivial…………they were disappointed in the ice cream stations on board and the fact that we only have two flavors. I stood there …at 6:40 am……….after only 5 hours sleep…………listening as they told me that on Celebrity cruise lines you get 300,000 flavors and I stood there and listened as he told me most of them pointing out that pistachio and double something with a chip thingy were their favorites.

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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.