Captains Fantastic

February 22, 2008 -

John Heald

We slowed to just a few knots and were going so slowly that it actually looked like we were not moving at all. It was 10 o’clock and the decks were packed with people waiting to see this wondrous event. I have to admit I was a little nervous about promoting the eclipse as last time I had told the guests they would see a stunning meteor shower all they got was cramp in their necks and I got a guest screaming at me because nothing happened.

However, tonight the skies were clear and eventually after a few moments of nothing the eclipse started and as many of you will have seen for yourselves………….it was pretty spectacular. Anyway, the eclipse thingy was a brilliant success and once again I found something to compliment the incomparable voice of Pavarotti who sang Nesun Dorma on the big screen as this unique event slowly took shape. 

I had adjusted the show to start 15 minutes late at 10:45 pm instead of 10:30 pm to allow people to enjoy both the sky at night and the entertainment and that seemed to appease everyone. The show went well and the Bedtime Story was very funny thanks to the three characters I choose to perform with me.

One of them was Nick………..proper name ……..Mr. Nickorsaki……..who was so popular following his starring role in the Welcome Aboard Show that when I saw him sitting in the audience again I knew I had to have him in the skit thingy. He speaks no English and as he walked on stage everyone cheered and when I said good evening and put the microphone in front of him he said “I play golf”………….and brought the house down. He was great during the whole show and has emerged as the star of the week.

Here are two more photos of Nick.

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It’s strange though how for many people the eclipse was not to be missed and how for many others it didn’t matter and they played bingo instead. There are many strange things that will never be answered on cruise ships. Why for instance do guests always press the elevator button even though there are a dozen other passengers waiting for the elevator who have all pressed the button as well?

Why do guests on every ship on every line in the world feel that they are the first passenger who, when seeing the Captain, say “If you are here, who’s driving the boat?” ………………by the way we must send a note of congratulations to the modern-day ship captain who is not just a brilliant navigator but is also an Oscar winning actor as he pretends he has never heard that question before by laughing hysterically.

In the past this would not have happened and I worked with some Captain’s in the late eighties and early nineties who would answer and, I kid you not, with phrases like “aahh you are so stupid for asking that question. Do you think there is nobody on the bridge?” …………….or……………….some would just sneer and one gentlemen who the crew lovingly called “dog nostrils” due to the fact that when he got angry his nostrils would flare up like a Bulldogs …….would, upon hearing the “Who’s driving the ship” question just turned his back on the guest completely………………These were old school Captains who were so at home on the bridge but they could have done with some help on the social skills front.

Here are today’s Random Photos

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TODAY’S LETTERS

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Let’s get on with answering some of your questions marked Please Reply …………… here we go.

CAROLYN AND DON………Ahhhh, the booth question. I had someone else write in and mention that they didn’t like booths. I admit that some of the older ships have booths that may be a little cramped however they are being replaced as Evolutions Of Fun are placed onboard. The newer ships still have some booths but they are much roomier even for a leftie. Now you asked if you can request a specific table and although this is not something we usually do you can ask me and I will see what I can do for you. Let me know and until then I hope you enjoy the blog each day. Cheers.

ANON. DUDE……………Following your apology for posting the animation of the vessel of the Carnival Dream which was not the Carnival Dream the order to have you whacked has been lifted. You are now free to come out of hiding safe in the knowledge that you will not be swimming with the fishes………………..where did you get it by the way? Come on……….spill the beans.

BIG ED………………You asked where your evil crew can gather in Cozumel. Maybe we can all have lunch and charter one of the local restaurants………….hundreds of us eating Mexican food…………..the ship’s plumber will not be a happy man.

MISSINGTHESMOKEFREEPARADISEBUTLOOKINGFORWARDTOTHESMOKEFREECARNIVALFANTASYBLOGGERSCRUISE……How interesting that you noticed I was the only one wearing a bib in the restaurant. It’s habit mate. My Father always spills stuff down him and therefore my Mum has always made he and I wear our napkins in the front of our shirts………….this results in clean clothing and no meal time visits to the doghouse. I now need a break as typing in your screen name is a blog in itself. My best to your good lady and see you soon.

CRUISIN BRIAN…………..You asked how many kids will be sailing on your March 23rd Easter cruise and the answer is 90. ………oh sorry………….I forgot an 8…………..that’s 890…………..that’s what the system is showing at the moment for your Carnival Valor. This is normal for an Easter cruise (is it me or is Easter getting earlier each year?) but with our brilliant Camp Carnival program in place it won’t feel like there are that many onboard………….well…………….most of the time. You asked for a Supper Club booking and may I kindly direct you to the link thingy on the right hand side of the blog which will guarantee your reservation and return a confirmation to you. I hope you and the family have a brilliant time and please make sure if you have any other requests or questions you let me know. Have fun on the Carnival Valor.

MARK……………….An interesting question……….when is big too big?……….we are of course talking ships here for those who may have just fainted. Indeed while the Carnival Dream will be Carnival’s largest vessel the new ships you mentioned being built by RCI will be bigger. Now before I continue I remind all reading this that it’s my blog and the disclaimer posted at its peak is a reminder that my opinions may not match those of Carnival Corporation. With this in mind I can now comment on these huge vessels that are being built and these comments are from someone who loves this industry and has spent 20 years in it……………….we have 3,500 guests…………..we sometimes have lines……………they are inevitable………………would I like to be the Cruise Director a ship with 5,000 guests?……………..ummmmmmmmm…….let’s just say I would rather put on a dress, pretend to be a woman and marry a Frenchman called Jean Claude and live on a garlic farm then do that. Cheers Mark and lets see where the future takes us.

JIMMIE……………….A warm welcome to you from the shadows of blog land. It is always interesting how some post regularly (and thank goodness they do) and how some prefer to just read the postings. Anyway, thanks for coming in and sharing your next cruise with us and if indeed you see me walk into Las Palmeras I will look forward to buying you a Margarita or 12. Cheers.

ALEX G………………..Alex you asked what tour I like best in Nassau and I have two choices for you. One building dominates the skyline in Nassau and that’s the Atlantis Hotel…………it is huge and for many cruise ship guests it is the highlight. You cannot just walk in on your own you need to take an organized tour that includes a visit to the stunning Aquarium there. However, my favorite tour has simply anything to do with the Ocean. You know, while Nassau may not be everyone’s favorite destination it certainly has the bluest and cleanest water and most vibrant coral reefs anywhere…………. therefore any snorkel excursion will be memorable. You also asked about the DVD that some people buy at the end of the cruise with my shows on it. It is indeed Fun Ship Videos and they include the Bedtime Story and other performances as well as activities ashore and onboard………….they are great souvenirs. Thanks for the kind words about the photos and I hope you enjoy today’s. Cheers.

DAVE……………here’s another DVD question and this time I am sorry but I have bad news. We do not keep back copies of my shows and therefore the Bedtime Story I performed back in August is no longer available. I am so sorry and I hope that your memories of the show and of your voyage in Europe will keep you going until the next time. My best regards to you and your family.

MICHA BERMAN……………..hello mate. I was speaking about you with a Paul from Cruisemates.com a few days ago. He saw an advance copy of your book and told me all about it. I hope it does really well and indeed ……….the early days of Cozumel when we visited on the Carnival Ecstasy were full of happy memories. I think it’s very brave of you to publish a romantic memory now you are married and I hope you are not in the doghouse over that………….I know I would be. I wish you much success with the book and I am sure many of the blog readers will be ordering their copy today…………..I am. Good luck mate and hope we see each other very soon.

CHERI BOLCHOZ………….Your kind words saying how much you enjoy the blog are a joy to read and you will also be happy to know that your Cruise Director for the November 30 Carnival Freedom cruise will indeed be Todd whom you enjoyed on the Carnival Liberty. I hope you are enjoying your Platinum status and I hope one day we get to cruise together.

GIRLDOC……………….Please look out for a very interesting interview with the Chairman of Fincantieri very soon………..not sure about a monorail…………let’s start with something a bit more practical…………..a Jacuzzi in my cabin perhaps. Thanks as always for your loyal support to the blog.

SUSAN B……………….hi.

KATHIE……………Why, you ask did we take away the topless decks from our ships. Well, first of all I see in your posting you described them as “European Decks,” which I thought was very tasteful……………..well done. Well, the reasons were simple. The deck was mostly being used by our staff members (dancers) and really the space we thought could be better utilized. So, now we have adults only decks on some ships and eventually we will have them on all the vessels. Although topless sunbathing is not allowed they do offer, peace and quiet and you will never hear any one say “Mum…….I want an ice cream” or …………..”Are we there yet?” I hope you understand and remember there are beaches on most Caribbean islands where topless sunbathing is allowed. On the French side of St. Martin it is illegal to wear any clothes! I hope this helps you understand a little better and please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

ETRAIN……………The cabin…………well………..let me see if Heidi agrees and we will indeed take a few photos for you……….especially the bathroom. Cheers.

CINDY ………………that was very kind of you.

BIG MIKE…………..Sorry your last comments missed the post but just wanted to say hello mate.

MELODY…………Goodness me Melody, that was quite a posting. Thanks for the tips on local entertainers however I have a line up of acts that will be simply stunning and I know you and your cruise critic group will enjoy the shows big time. Kite flying ………. you know………….we used to do that years ago and I wonder if it is still allowed …………that might indeed be fun…………let me check. We are talking about Captain’s old and new today on the blog and I am not sure that the Carnival Fantasy Captain will permit a photo of you sitting on his knee. However…………..if he does………….I will be sitting on the other one. As the days go along we will highlight more and more information about the bloggers cruise and thank you so much for booking and for spreading the word to innocent strangers over a chocolate martini. Please write soon and thanks for everything.

BIG ED………………….I don’t think 4 days will be enough to recover from what your crew will have done to me………..maybe 4 months!

DWA 76……………Thanks for the links mate and I especially enjoyed reading about what the owners and players of the NBA teams had done to better the community ……… a standing ovation for them. Thanks also for the food link and most of all thanks again for taking the time to write as you always do. Heidi and I send our warmest regards to you.

SUZANNE AND LISA…………….I wish I could have been in Australia with you to see the Queen Victoria. I am sure it was an amazing site. She is a spectacular ship and one I have a desire to sail on myself. Have fun down under and thanks for writing.

KRIS AND KATHLEEN…………..I told our captain that you had overtaken us and he has since challenged the Carnival Liberty to a drag race over 50 miles……………..the winner gets a solid gold plastic trophy. Glad you prefer us to the “flying saucer” vessels we are all proud to hear that. Cheers.

MYRA BUSHNELL…………..Congratulations on booking the trans-Atlantic crossing of the Carnival Splendor…………..it will be a great trip. I promise we will have lots of time together and if you need any inside information on Barcelona and the other ports let me know. See you soon and Heidi sends her best as do I.

MAGGIE TRACY……………..How wonderful that we will actually get to meet soon and I look forward to March 15 very much. In answer to your questions the ship does indeed have a beanbag toss event every day and your kids will be able to defend their championship. The tour you booked is always sold out and very popular so you made a great choice. If you need any other port information come and see me onboard. You asked about Karaoke and here on the Carnival Freedom we hold it in the aft lounge which is called The International and also on the big screen on lido Deck. Hopefully your daughter will again be chosen to be in Carnival Legends. Please leave me a note when you get here and I look forward to meeting you and your family.

That’s all she wrote for today. More tomorrow and again thanks to everyone who wrote in.

Everyone will tell you that their job is the most difficult on a ship………..the chef…………a waiter………..a steward…………the cruise director ………..OK, that’s nonsense…………and they may all be right but there is no more responsible job than that of the Captain. He or she (as you know one line has a lady Captain) has the ultimate responsibility for everything that happens onboard……………theirs is therefore the most challenging job onboard………….bar none.

I have worked with every kind of Captain. Ones who love the social side and ones who are only truly at home on the bridge. I have worked alongside those who are friendly and outgoing and some who are quiet and reserved and one or two who have let the position go to their heads a bit. In each case I respect them 100% and although I may not agree with some of their management styles ultimately they are the ones whose my life depends on and that alone deserves my respect and admiration.

There are very few Captain’s with bigger hearts than Captain Angelo Los. He is one of my oldest friends and I hate the fact that I have not worked alongside him for many years. He was my first captain when I was a Cruise Director on the Carnival in 1990. I used to secretly call him Captain Cartier as he had a Cartier watch, a Cartier ring, a Cartier pen and probably wore Cartier underpants…………..do they make underpants?

Captain Los is the great entertainer and many a Carnival executive and employee has tales of his legendary 7-hour dinners which included the funniest jokes and the occasional magic trick as well. On the night Heidi and I got engaged the Carnival Imagination was in wet dock in Miami and we shared a wonderful dinner with Angelo and his beautiful wife Elizabeth at the Chart House restaurant. We sat overlooking the water and it was indeed a special night……….one that included a dolphin making a surprise appearance.

Angelo………..he insists on being called that rather than Captain…………would give you his last penny, the shirt of his back and then shave all the hair of his body and knit you a blanket if he thought it would help you.

My favorite example of his kindness came back in 1998 when we were together. We were in Cozumel and Angelo had been out for dinner when he came across a small sack lying in the gutter……….something was moving inside it………..he discovered a small puppy which some complete and utter bastardo and dumped. Captain Los is a huge animal lover and knowing that he could never just leave the dog lying in the gutter to die he took it on board breaking a few laws as he did so.

However, he didn’t care……..the welfare of this living thing was too important to worry about red tape. The dog lived onboard for the rest of the cruise while Angelo called the company and various agencies to tell them that he wanted to take care of the animal. He did……..and Cozumel as the dog was called lived for many happy years with them in their beautiful home in Port Dover, Canada. …………….That’s Captain Los……a wonderful example of why our Captains are the best.

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Captain Los

There are names that need to be mentioned if for no other reason than to pay my respects to those who have retired from the position of captain whom made my job as Cruise Director all the better……………..I hope I have spelled their names correctly.

CAPTAIN SBISA

CAPTAIN SARTORI

CAPTAIN CALVILLO

CAPTAIN PIOVANO

CAPTAIN CASTAGNINO

CAPTAIN GAVINO

CAPTAIN GALLO (NOW VP OF SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT FOR CARNIVAL)

CAPTAIN FOSSATI

CAPTAIN CHIARELLA

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Very soon we will be celebrating the 36th anniversary of Carnival Cruise Lines and characters like the ones I just mentioned are the backbone of Today’s Carnival. There are many others whom I did not work with who safely navigated thousands of guests around the world and truly were the best in the business…………we salute you all. I thought I might share a story from the old days and about one of my favorite Captain’s who though he shall remain nameless is…………… a Carnival legend.

There are so many stories I could tell about this Captain and I should start by telling you that he is a true man of the sea and a brilliant sailor. Anyway, he has quite a reputation for “speaking his mind” and he certainly did just that when I was a young 25-year-old Cruise Director onboard the Carnival Fantasy.

This is back in 1991 and we were on the bridge together getting ready to leave Miami our homeport. With us was the now Chief Miami Pilot and a good friend of mine Captain John Hernandez whom on the odd occasion we see each other will automatically relive this event with me.

At the time the Fantasy was the newest ship in the world and we always docked next to the trusted old Chandris vessel Brittanis. This is how it went…………………oh, by the way, in order to hide our Captain’s identity I will refer to him as Captain Carnival ……. one more thing…………read his lines in your best Italian accent and move your right arm up and down rapidly while doing so.

CAPTAIN CARNIVAL…………………..you zeee Mr. Pilot we are ready to go

PILOT JOHN HERNANDEZ………….Sorry captain but the Brittanis has already let go of the ropes and is leaving

CAPTAIN CARNIVAL……………you zee Mr. Pilot, I don’t wait for that Greek piece of shi*

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.