An old style blog

February 11, 2008 -

John Heald

Good Morning everyone. Here I am, back home on the Carnival Freedom and, as I sit here at 7:18 am at the computer in my underwear writing my morning section of the blog, it feels like I have never been away. As always, yesterday was a very long day as it always is when you walk back on board and take the reigns straight away. However after the previous day I was ready for anything.

We sailed away from Miami and goodness me how much that has changed with new apartment buildings and houses everywhere.

As we sailed away we passed the beautiful yachts in Miami Marina. These will be the same ones we will see in Europe later this year and I am certain I saw George Hamilton on his yacht………..looking tanned…………and I am sure that was Cindy Crawford by his side………….lucky sod. I have missed Miami and it was great to see it again.

There is always so much expectation when you return. Revenue partners want you to promote this and that and of course you need to change the entertainment program back to the way you like it. A Cruise Director will always change things even if it’s running perfectly, it is just the nature of the beast. This is when I realize how important Heidi is as it is her organizational skills and clear thinking that make sure everything is taken care of.

Last night at 10:30 pm I stood in the wings of the Victoriana Lounge waiting for the show to start. People ask me all the time if I get nervous and I guess the only time I feel a little angst is when you have been away for a long time. I know I had the Bloggers cruise but that aside I had not performed in three months and there is always a little bit of anxiety that has you thinking “Am I funny………..will my timing be ok………….will I remember what to say…………..is my fly open.” However, it’s like riding a bike and after a few minutes I found myself back in the swing of things and there I was doing what I enjoy most………….entertaining 1500 people.

Last night’s Welcome Aboard Show produced some great characters including the mayor of a tiny town in Nova Scotia called Canso which has 900 people, mostly fisherman living there. Also during the show we met Sal………..who………….half way through the evening had to leave the stage to pee………….I went with him………………taking the wireless microphone with me so everyone could hear……………..it was very funny although my microphone smells funny now…………………actually, I held the microphone in the sink and let the faucet run. …………..don’t tell anyone.

Also, I met Paige who is 8 years old. I had fun with her on stage and after every question I had her turn 360 degrees…….so I could say…….I turned another Paige……………groans all around.

Finally I met Richard who is 83 years old. He has been married for 59 years, he and his wife have 7 children, 17 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. Richard spent 40 years as a miner in Utah and consequently is a little deaf…………..I had to shout for him to hear me and in the end I just told him every time I held the microphone in front of him to say the word “yes.” You can imagine the fun I had with that…………..do you love your wife “yes”……………are you feeling romantic tonight “yes”……….do you wish Jessica Simpson was waiting for you in your cabin…………”yes” ………it was a lot of fun.

Anyway, here are some photos of Paige and Richard.

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Well, the weather looks good and the seas are calm . Ok, time for the morning show……………..back soon.

Actually, it’s now 9:30 pm and I just finished the first show and two Captain’s elegant cocktail parties. I took some random photos. They are in no particular order and are of the officers being presented on stage, the crew areas and staff mess. I will be adding these “random shots” here and there in future.

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So, after a long wait let’s return to normal and start with a few letters from the In Their Own Words section.

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I did call Pastor Johnson and apologized. He seemed unaware that the ship had a casino………..anyway, I apologized to him and we left as friends……..I also agreed to allow him to conduct a service later in the cruise and open it to all the guests.

Now, imagine a fanfare and loud trumpets as for the first time in a long time………………I will answer your comments and questions……………..I am happy………………my finger is not.

These are the answers to comments and questions from the blog called The Magic Stick

TAMMIE………….Thanks for the words of support and I hope you are enjoying the blog thingy. ……..cheers

CAROL SCHOENBERGER…………It seems ages that I have typed those words. I have read every one of your comments that you have slapped on during the past few weeks. Now, to the extra medium bathrobes. It seems it is easier to learn an Oriental language than to get our supplier to produce bigger robes. The battle though is not over I continue to fight for this just and true cause. Hope you are still enjoying the blog thingy and thank you so much for your continued support and friendship.

CATMAMA044……….Stick with it………very funny and Heidi laughed when she read that as well. We will indeed stick with it but hopefully not too much longer……I am exhausted.

RICHARDDETRICH…………Thanks for the Shredded Wheat advice. I wish I could have the ones with sugar on them but unfortunately that particular avenue of pleasure is also closed. You mentioned I may have been a naughty child………………yep, I think I probably was. Hope you continue to read the blog thingy and all the best mate.

JAMES………..I hope all the hard work pays off and we are as lucky as you. Have a wonderful cruise with the family on the Carnival Triumph and if you have any questions or concerns please let me know. Cheers.

VICKI………..You asked about Ken our Maitre’D……….he works in the Posh Dining Room with seating times of 5:45pm and 8:00pm. Let me know if there is anything else I can do for you. All the best.

BIG ED…………..And so our banter starts again. I am not sure if Heidi will go with the name Ed if we ever have a boy but maybe she can be persuaded. She has used the gripper things you gave us and they have become a tool of discipline………….thanks for that. On another note I want to publicly thank you and Mrs. Big Ed for all you did for us. You are both caring and loving people and you and your group have given Heidi and I ever lasting memories. …………….my favorite of which was when everyone was wearing surgical masks at the same time and a couple walked into the room………..seeing everyone wearing the masks they ran away quickly fearing a chemical attack……………after eating all the jelly beans you gave me, they may have been correct. Thanks again mate and see you soon.

MIKE L……………Hello Big Mike………..I could have done with you as security during the Bloggers cruise as so many people tried to rip off my clothes……………….they were mostly men though. Its been great to see that you have continued to read the blog and I appreciate that so very much mate. Keep reading.

SOUTHERN DREAMS………Hello to you both. I am glad you liked number 4 although number 2 is pretty cool as well. I think of you and Charlie all the time and we both as always send our best to you both………..when do you go to watch the leaves change colour?

CHERYL………………I did perform………..quite well actually………….let’s see if there is a reward. Glad you are enjoying the blog thingy. Cheers.

THAD RICE…………Thank you on behalf of all the Cruise Directors who you say are such an important part of so many people’s cruise experience. I look forward to meeting you personally in March. Cheers.

LONGIN2CRUISE…………Having dreamt about me wearing a blond wig driving an Alfa Romeo I can only presume that you need help…………………..I would never, ever………………….drive an Alfa Romeo……………..now, if I had been driving an Aston Martin or a Bentley then that would have been a dream that may come true…………I would happily wear a blond wig and fish net stockings for that experience. Keep dreaming and keep reading the blog thingy……………sweet dreams.

CINDY BRUCE………….Good advice, tomorrow’s breakfast will include your additions…………its better than All Bran………both me and the plumber agree! Great to hear from you and please keep reading.

KATHY KROLL……………Hello Kathy. I was talking about you with Kerry Stables who designs and produces our shows. I mentioned your proud times as a Vegas dancer………..she was very jealous. Thanks for the production notes and hopefully they will come true. Best to you both as always.

JIMNI………….but not too much, I am only human. ……………..Thanks mate.

GREG BALDASSARI……………..hello mate. I have seen that you like so many have continued to reply to every posting and even though time has not allowed me to do so I hope you know that I read each and every one of them. You mentioned Sail Away parties and indeed this was discussed. You are going to see major changes in all our deck parties and very soon I will be able to tell you some exciting news. Thanks again mate and all the best to you and your family.

EDWIN……………The boat was rocking………………….for nearly 5 minutes.

LINDA HERNACKI…………….I did indeed pass on all your wishes to Todd and wee Jimmy and one day I truly and sincerely hope that we get to have a hug in person. The photo system we have onboard will be having a major overhaul with lots of new additions and I think you and many others will be very happy. It is wonderful to be writing to you again and thank you for your continuing friendship to Heidi and I which means so very much.

INEZ…………….Thanks for the super words of support. There are new people at the top at Carnival and they have many new and exciting ideas. I will share these with you ASAP. Thanks again and I do hope you are still enjoying reading my thingy.

BERNARD ANDRADES……….Hello and thanks for the posting. I am glad you liked the photos and I hope you are enjoying the blog. You are correct, new ideas keep inspiring me to be innovative as well so hopefully what we will unveil to everyone will be something which will inspire people to continue to keep cruising with us. Thanks mate and all the best.

RUS AND NINA FRANKLIN……………hello my friends, how are you? It was great to see your names and read another wonderful posting. Wee Jimmy was doing great and it was hard to say goodbye to him…………I have no idea when I will see him again. Glad you liked number 7 and I have passed on your congratulations to Mr. Cahill. Thanks to you both for well……..you know……….everything you do. Heidi and I send you our warmest regards.

PEANUTS…………As always another great posting from you, Joan. I agree with you completely that our embarkation needs to improve. It is a guest’s first impression of the Carnival experience and if it is not a good one it stays with you. Therefore we spent a long time talking about this and I know and promise that you will see some major changes which will enhance the experience. It’s strange that on the same blog I have requests for a small bathrobe and an extra medium bathrobe………lets see what we can do. I was concerned to read that you found the Lido Deck bar staff not to be friendly. I have passed these comments on to the Hotel Director……………we pride ourselves on having the friendliest staff at sea and if someone does not reach our high standards then they need to go and work on the Rude of the Seas where they belong.

Great to hear from you and please keep reading and please keep writing.

GLORIA………………Ask and it shall be given. Number 6 will be ready and waiting for you in May here on the Carnival Freedom. If you have any questions about your Med cruise please let me know and thanks for the smiley face advice……….I need all the help I can get. Cheers.

CAROLYN AND DON……………….I am so sorry that I have damaged your internal organs with the content of the last blog. Hopefully this will not be permanent damage and, if needed, I am willing to donate a kidney or any part of my body you feel you need…………that didn’t sound right did it? Thanks for the kind words and I hope you continue to laugh and enjoy the blog.

NANETEALI……………hello Nanni. Well, by the time you read this I will be in beautiful San Juan. The following call, please, can you come and visit? I am so sorry that I have not written for so long but you and your beautiful family are in my thoughts always. When we arrived in San Juan a few weeks ago and you met us …………well…………that was a very special moment. Muchus Hugos para usted………….amigos always.

DWA 76………….It feels really good typing in familiar names and new ones as well. Of course yours is as familiar as my favorite pair of underwear which I have had for 11 years…………..I know reading this you must be feeling so privileged to be compared to my underwear. I am always glad to see postings from you and, like my underwear, I hope they will last forever. Cheers mate.

RUTH JAMISON………..hello Ruth, how wonderful to hear from you. Thanks as always for your loyal support of this great cruise line and hopefully the changes we make to embarkation will have you enjoying the experience even more. It’s always great to read your name and I hope you and the family are doing well. Heidi and I send our best.

BIG ED………….You should patent that idea mate. Big Ed Fashion………….I can see all the supermodels wearing it.

LISA AND ELAINE…………….I agree, number 3 was a great idea………..mine by the way. How are you both? I apologize that I have not written for so long but at least for the next five weeks I will be able to do so. Please keep reading my thingy and its great to be back. Cheers.

MARK TWAIN AND A HALF……………It feels like just yesterday that we were together on the Carnival Freedom………I truly enjoyed meeting you. I am glad you liked the photos of wee Jimmy and the gang and look out for more behind the scenes photos each and every blog. Hope you and the other half are well and thanks for your continued support of my thingy.

SUE K…………..What is monkey tea, you asked?………..Well, it is a English brand called P.G. Tips, so called because it was advertised by chimpanzees in the early 1980’s. It is the best tea in the world and if you are a tea drinker you must try it. Hope that answers your question. Cheers.

KUKI………..Hello mate. Al and I filmed some stuff as we discussed and it will be on its way to you. How are you? Please send my best to all your group that sailed with us and of course Mrs.Kuki as well. ……….hope you bought a new laptop. See you soon mate.

SUSAN V……………….I am very grateful to you for taking the time to post such brilliant thoughts and suggestions. Indeed, embarkation day should be made more fun and we are all committed to doing this. Your other comments regarding the spa and photos are well made and we discussed ways to improve these areas last week. I think you will be impressed with what’s coming. You requested more photos of the CD’s and indeed I will be presenting more of my colleagues in the spotlight soon. I hope you are well and enjoying the blog and many thanks again for slapping on such a wonderful posting.

DEBORAH ROSATO……………Thank you so much for the best wishes and hearing that the blog makes you laugh out loud makes me very happy indeed. Please keep reading as there is more laughter around the corner.

2009BLOGGERSCRUISEHEREWECOME…………….Great screen name by the way. Thanks for the offer of Viagra……….I actually take it already every night………..it stops me rolling out of bed when the ship is rocking…………..sort of like an anchor. My best to you both and thanks for sharing in the fun.

JAKE S…………….Good to hear from you mate and I see you enjoyed the photos of the Cruise Directors. Chris Roberts is from Georgia by the way……..not the U.K…………he speaks with a very Southern accent and is a great chap and a super CD. I will be posting more photos of the Cruise Directors soon. Until then, I hope you enjoy reading my thingy.

OK, going to stop there as I have to go and watch the show and I wanted to finish the blog first. I will start with more questions and comments with JAROBB’s being first tomorrow.

Let’s do an interview. We have been speaking about Icons recently and one already in place is of course Carnival’s world famous Piano Bars. These are some of the most popular entertainment areas onboard each ship and have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a Piano Bar entertainer?……………….Well wonder no more as we pass things over to Ron Passalacqua who is one of Carnival’s most popular Piano Bar musicians. I asked Ron to describe what it’s like to sit behind the piano and entertain our guests……………here is what he had to say.

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When did you begin work with Carnival as a Piano Bar Entertainer?

My life with Carnival began on November 24, 2002 on the Carnival Victory. Not only was that my first experience working on a cruise ship, but also my first time working in music full time.

Had you always worked as an entertainer?

No! I’m relatively new at the piano man game. Music has always been a huge part of my life, but only as a serious interest or hobby. As a youngster, “little Ronnie” participated in choruses and bands, took piano lessons from the proverbial “little ol’ lady up the street,” and then, in high school and college, I studied voice and took part in a lot of musical theater productions. In college and, later, grad school, I made politics my focus, with a minor in music. I worked in the Washington, DC political field for a few years, the highlight of which was a staff position with the Clinton administration in the East Wing of The White House. (No, I never met Monica!) Despite the thrill of the political world (which included the Clinton’s cat Socks taking daily naps on my fax machine), my love for music, and a need to pay the rent, kept me busy moonlighting weekly as a piano man at neighborhood watering holes.

In 2000, I left Washington and the political scene to follow a job offer in “The Big Apple,” New York City. In addition to working full-time as a project manager at a health insurance company in lower Manhattan (Zzzzzzz…. boring!), I serenaded crowds a couple nights a week as a singer and pianist at a restaurant in Jersey City, NJ. Talk about a scene from the Sopranos! Fuhgetaboutit!

How did you get from project manager to piano man?

Without a doubt, the biggest catalyst in my life was 9/11. I was at the World Trade Center to personally witness the overwhelming horror, and it deeply and spiritually moved me (when you see people die in front of you, it changes you). As a result, I questioned everything in my life and decided to take a chance on realizing my dream to be an entertainer for a living. The next thing I knew, all my belongings were in storage and I was on a flight to Miami to board the Carnival Victory. Feel free to visit my website (www.ronpass.com) for a detailed account of my 9/11 experience and my personal story of my transition from corporate stooge to piano man.What do you enjoy most about being a Piano Bar Entertainer?

It’s a true blessing to be able to do what I love for a living. Without a doubt, the best part of my job is the interaction with our guests. How many people can say that it’s their job to help make people smile, laugh, and sing? Anyone who’s been in my piano bar knows I like to keep things up-tempo and interactive. The best nights are when the guests and I feed off of each others’ energy. Sometimes I’m just as entertained by them as they are by me. There is no better compliment than when guests tell me the favorite part of their cruise was the piano bar, or when I learn that returning guests chose a particular ship, or chose Carnival again, because I’m there. Still, it’s not always peaches and cream. Wherever there is alcohol served, there’s bound to be challenges (and material for jokes on future cruises!).

Share a favorite story with us that involves our guests and your job.

There are so many stories… some of which can’t be shared in a public forum! (Giggle.) Some are heart-warming, some jaw-dropping, some frustrating. On the lighter side, I once had a very drunk man in the piano bar mistake one of the bar stools for a urinal. He undid his pants and freed Willy, but luckily other guests were able to stop him before he broke the seal. Maybe he just didn’t like the song I was singing…

What are your top 10 song requests?

Ok… let’s do this David Letterman style! In reverse order:

10. Sweet Home Alabama9. Crocodile Rock8. New York, New York

7. Don’t Stop Believin’

6. Margaritaville

5. American Pie

4. Friends In Low Places

3. Brown Eyed Girl

2. Sweet Caroline

And the #1 song request…(drum roll, please!)….. 1. Piano Man (surprise, surprise!)I used to love that song. Please, if any of you has a heart, never request that song from a piano player.Do you have a favorite tune?I’m often asked if I have a favorite song. My interest in music is so varied, it’s impossible for me to select only one. But I do enjoy performing some more than others. Often it’s a song that I just learned, so it’s fresh and interesting to me. Or it may be a tune that was a challenge to learn, so I’m particularly proud to show it off. Still, Elton John’s “Your Song” is special to me, as it’s the very first song I sang on my first night playing in the piano bar on my first ship. Because of that, it’s the very last song I play on the final night before I leave a ship to head home for vacation. Call me sentimental!

What are your plans for the near future?

Right now I’m spending time beefing up my song repertoire and planning a second CD recording. Ever since I recorded my first CD in the studio, I’ve wanted to record one live in the piano bar. It’s in the planning stages now, and I hope to get it out over the next year. After I leave the Carnival Freedom in April, I’ll be taking a vacation before returning to another Carnival ship sometime in June. I hope to be the piano man on the second John’s Blog Cruise in 2009… that is if you’ll have me, John! I want to put you on top of the piano in a feather boa…

What a great interview and how about that photo with Hilary Clinton……………….Ron is a wonderful entertainer and I am sure you will see him on our new ship Carnival Splendor. Thanks mate and many thanks for all the brilliant fun you provide our guests.It feels strange writing a normal blog again. I have to ask…………….do you prefer this format or do you prefer the way I have been doing it with shorter but more frequent blogs…………….please let me know your thoughts. Its great to be back and the comments after the Welcome Aboard show have been wonderful to listen to…………but of course you can’t please all the people all the time as you will now discover.

Guest: Mr *&^%$#@#$%^

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Owner: (IRAK) Irina Kavechanska
Cabin: &^%$ 

Added-Changed: 02/09/08 – 02/09/08

Upset with Cruise Director JohnMr &^%$# came to the Purser to state that he was very upset at the Cruise Director John. Purser asked what the problem was. Mr %$#@! said that during the show Cruise Director had said that if anyone had a special Valentines wish for their wife or husband they could leave a note at the Purser desk. Mr &^%$#@ stated that he was a gay man and John had not acknowledged gay people who had partners. Purser apologized and told the guest she would pass the comments on to the Cruise Director. Mr. #@$%^ also said that other passengers were staring at him and his partner when they were kissing on Lido Deck and said that he thought Carnival was a gay friendly cruise line. Guest wants to speak to Cruise Director. Tasked to Cruise Director.

He is right……………I should have said partner…………not husband and wife………….I am just old fashioned I guess. Carnival certainly shows no prejudice towards anyone although I cannot control the thoughts of others. Anyway, I met with the guest today and we had a nice chat and sorted everything out and I will be reading a special letter he has written for his partner at tomorrow’s Morning Show………………….you learn by your mistakes and I guess I made a big one here. Heidi is still getting the cabin as she wants it, and soon she will have it feeling like home again………………what would I do without her……………………………hopefully she will be nice to me tonight and we can stay out of bed and get some rest.

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.