That Face Rings a Bell

March 3, 2008 -

John Heald

So many people have left cold and wintry places this week to enjoy a Caribbean cruise. They have pictures in their mind of the hot sun and blue ocean and those are the people who I immediately felt sorry for when I looked out of the window at 7:30 am this morning. It was grey, overcast and light rain decorated the window.

It’s now 10:35 am and its raining quite hard now and although the weather forecast says the rain will clear and the sun will come out………right now…………..that looks as likely as Uma Thurman on my cabin door and saying “Hey John, can you rub sun cream on my back?”

Good morning everyone and I hope the weather is indeed better where you are than here and even though it’s beyond our control I have just made an announcement which included an apology for the wet start to the cruise.

Last night I performed the Welcome Aboard Show and sitting on the front three rows was the entire cast of Beverly Hills 09090……or whatever that program was called. Yep, spring break is here and next week and the week after the numbers of graduates will go up even higher. Thank goodness we control these groups and the days of the early nineties where large groups of spring breakers would roam the decks decorating the lounges with projectile vomit have long gone.

How wonderful though that for a graduation gift kids these days get to go on a cruise, most armed with Daddy’s Platinum card…….when I graduated I went to the Pub with my mate Alan, got ignored by every female in the place, went for a Vindaloo Indian Curry and spent the following day regretting the evening by having to talk to an Arab every half hour………..Mustafa Poo.

Time for the Cozumel adventure talk………….back soon.

Here I am.

Back in Europe the lounge would be packed for the excursion and information talks with at least 1,500 people there to see it live. It’s strange therefore today to host a talk for just 500 people. I know many people have been there before however but still I would like to see more people there. Anyway during the talk something strange happened to me……………I was heckled.

Now, anybody who stands on stage and attempts to be funny is opening themselves to an attack from the “I am funnier than you guy.”…….this has happened to me time and time again however never in the middle of talking about horse back riding.

So, there I was talking about the Mayan Adventure on horseback when this chap in the balcony suddenly shouts “Bboooo”……..I looked up and saw a middle aged man wearing a tie dye shirt thingy standing………..leaning over the balcony……………..booing.

Everyone looked up……………he sounded just like the men who we embarrassingly call politicians in the UK…………have you ever seen Prime Ministers Question Time from the UK?……………..This generally consists of a bunch of overpaid and overfed men and women making farm yard animal impressions while the Prime Minister tells parliament that England is about to invade France……………OK…………..that’s a bad analogy……………….There would be cheers and general euphoria if that happened…….

Anyway, my point is that while the Prime Minister is saying something serious Old McDonald and the other politicians are booing and yelling………….it’s great comedy…………….it’s on C Span every Wednesday.

I digress……………so there I am thinking why is this man booing me………….I was about to find out…………….I asked him over the microphone if everything was OK and he shouted back “Carnival is profiting from the abuse of horses…………booo….boo….”

I asked him to calm down and said we should chat after the show. However, all of our shore excursions, including those involving animals, are vetted out by our shore excursion personnel ………..he booed again…….I asked him to take a seat.…………..Mr. Desert Orchid sat down and I carried on.

I then spoke about snorkeling, island tours and then the next slide we were showing came on……………it was the Swim with the Dolphin tour …………… maybe I would get lucky and maybe Mr. Desert orchid was just a horse lover …………..nope………….”Booooo,” he screamed again……………….. bugger.

I spoke to him after the talk. He is a member of an organization called PETA which is People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals and I have to say as we spoke one on one, he apologized for his behavior. He was very passionate about his love for all living things and remained adamant though that none of our excursions should involve animals. I again mentioned that all our tours are thoroughly checked by our shore excursion office and that we would never promote the abuse of any living thing. I asked him if he wanted me to arrange an inspection of all our tours involving the animal kingdom………….he declined. We shook hands and he apologized again for his behavior.

As he walked away I was glad that I had not mentioned our deep sea fishing tour or the fact that I was looking forward to a Porterhouse Steak for dinner.

It’s time to answer some of your questions………… know what?……………. the sun has come out…… really has and suddenly the sky is blue and everything looks great………….is that Uma knocking on my door?

Here are today’s letters from the In their Own Words Section:




OLD YEOMAN………..hello Donna. I have passed this clue onto the office personal and let’s see what name they come up with. Regardless it is great having you as part of the family. Cheers…………….does you uniform still fit by the way…………why not come back?

JOAN KENNAWAY…………….I remember well your husband’s brilliant performance. I hope your concert goes well and you are blessed with much sunshine. Hope to see you very soon.

AMY AND SEARGENT JEFF BURNEY…………….Welcome to the blog Sarge and if you go back a few blog thingies you will see I was talking about you and your beautiful lady. The evening I introduced you as a returning hero from Iraq was very special for all concerned and the huge ovation they gave you I know is something that made that young lady standing by your side very proud indeed. If you could send me a photo of you two and one of you in uniform I would gratefully appreciate it. Stephanie, who manages the blog, will e-mail you and you can send the photos to her and she on to me. Again, I am so happy you had such a great time and please keep reading the blog…………….hey readers, would you welcome a member of the U.S. Army who just returned from Iraq and the Carnival Freedom……..welcome he and Amy to the family . Thanks to all.

LUIS AND MARIA TORES………….Just wanted to say a huge thank you for your kind words of support and indeed the crew of the Carnival Freedom are a United Nations. Our best to you both.

BRIAN………………..Sorry mate but all the lounges had been taken on the third sea day so I thought the second sea day may be good for you at 2 pm in the Piano Bar. May I suggest that we also book one for you on the last sea day? There is some space if required so let me know please. I will change the booking to 3 pm on the second sea day as requested mate. Hope this is ok and let me know if you need further help. Cheers.

SOUTHERN DREAMS……………Seeing your name on the blog is like putting on a favorite pair of shoes. Thanks again for such wonderful words and Heidi and I send our best to you both.

ALLISON……………..I know that thousands of people every day read this blog and more and more seem to be inspired to post their life stories here which is truly humbling. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to take the cruise with Mum when Dad should have been there by her side. However, as you said he is on a life cruise and as my Granddad used to say “He has been promoted to Glory”……..and he has and I know Dad would have loved to have been there with you and Mum on your Carnival cruise and he will be smiling down on you now knowing that you, like him have found rest bite and happiness at sea on a “Fun Ship.” We all send our deepest sympathies at your loss and I am so happy that you decided to write…….hope you do again soon.

SPIDER………………Hello Spider. Unfortunately, I will not be the Cruise Director for your Carnival Freedom European adventure in June. However, I will be here should you have any questions about tours or ports of call. Regardless, I know you will have a fantastic time. Cheers.

WIL-DA-BEAST…..Congratulations on finding the correct way to post a question which was “Can two 70-year-olds handle back to back cruises?” This is a tough question to answer, however, not knowing your physical abilities, I would say, definitely yes. You can use the sea days to rest and many of our excursions are ones with limited walking. You know your own abilities, however, many people of your age have done what you are considering and I therefore hope you will do the same. Please let me know if you have any other concerns as I am always here to help.

SHERYL PELTON…………..Thank you for your beautiful words and yes, I did receive your remote control fart machine which has given hours of enjoyment to all of us, especially my dad. There is nothing he likes more when his friends Norman Oats and Roger with one leg come over to visit. He plants the receiver under their chairs and the fun begins. On a serious note, I want to thank you again for your caring words. Heidi and I send our best to you both.

JAKE SILVERBERG…………….Hello mate. You will indeed require your passport or proof of citzenship (such as a birth certificate with photo id) as you will be visiting a U.S. port (St. Thomas) after a foreign port (St. Maarten). Hope this helps and please send my best to your grandmother. Cheers pal.

PRINCESS ELAINE……………I am glad the drama with your ring is over. I hope it brings you years of happiness. I think you need help with your bucket list. Heidi sends her best regards back to you, and so do I.

DRIVERNC……………Thank you for asking about the guest we disembarked. I am sorry to have to tell you and everyone else that he passed away in hospital late last night (Saturday). His wife of many years was by his side. We were all very sad to hear this, however, his wife paid tribute to our fine medical staff and we are sending flowers from all of us here on the ship. I can only hope that the last few days together on the ship were full of happy memories. Thank you for thinking of us on board and also for your thought for Joanne. Heidi and I send our best to you and the family.

THE BEARS, BARB AND CARL…………………….I am glad you enjoyed today’s blog. The letters I receive each day are a mixture of fun and other emotions and each one is very precious as are you both. Hope to see you soon.

GREG B………………..I have now given up writing the word Baldassari. Thanks for asking again about Alan. Each day brings new hope that he will return to a normal life of being ignored by women and scaring young children. Thank you for mentioning all the people you did in your posting and the constant caring for others is amazing. Cheers mate.

BIG ED………..I remember the three Evil Crew Members who starred in our Carnival Legends show. How about you and I and I am serious this time, doing Sonny and Cher? Tell Mrs. Big Ed that she is lucky to have her very own Fabio. Miss you mate.

JIM (JLEQ)……………Hello Jim. Sorry mate, you are correct. I accidentally typed someone else’s name instead of yours. Therefore, I invite you to remind me a few weeks before your cruise and I will indeed arrange everything for you. Cheers.

DAVE MYERLY…………You asked about changes in the photo department. I will be able to tell you about these very soon as some significant changes are expected to be announced soon. These will involve special packages and other ways to make it easier and better value for guests. We are introducing new activities all the time and just this week we have launched our Family Feud contest using the big screen which is proven to be very popular. There are lots more items on the way and I will tell you about them as and when they are ready. I hope you and Jo are well and Heidi and I send our finest regards.

ANNETTE…………….It’s so great when people who have been reading the blog for several months finally decided to post, as in your case. I think we were together on the Carnival Fascination. That seems a long time ago. I am not sure who the Cruise Director will be during your Carnival Victory Thanksgiving cruise, however the schedule will be posted by me soon. I am glad you are addicted to the blog and I hope this addiction will last a long time. Hope to hear from you soon.

RAY XZENSZAK………….Hello Ray. I haven’t seen the movie “Bucket List,” however, I see yours includes some of the things that will come true on the Carnival Splendor. I am glad Heidi and I will be there to share those memories with you. Our best to you and your beautiful family.

JOHN AND SUSAN IN FRISCO…………….Never a truer word was spoken. I am sure Mrs. Turtleneck will spend as many miserable days on land as she did on sea. The most important thing is that you are smiling at the blog and that makes me smile here on the ship. Life is good.

LV2CRUISE…………..And thank you for your wonderful and kind words.

CINDY 56……………It is difficult to remember 3,000 happy people and forget the one unhappy person, so thanks for the reminder. Heidi and I hope to sail with you one day soon.

POPCORNGAL………….Hello, it’s Heidi here. Thank you for feeling for me…. guests on board do ask me every week: “How do you do it?” Well, I don’t really have an answer. I just keep smiling….and shake my head a lot.

CAROLYN AND DON………………..Wow, that is great news! We are excited that you will all be there and we get to meet the whole family. We will make sure they have the best wedding anniversary celebrations ever.

ROBIN IN NEW YORK………………John and I watch the Sopranos, so we can only imagine what you have in mind when you say that you know how to take “care of her.” :)) It’s OK, over the years you learn that people come in all sorts and some you love and some……….well, you don’t.

DEANNA…………….Thank you firstly for your dedicated support. Your Cruise Director on the Carnival Triumph in 2009 has yet to be decided. The decision will probably be made around October 2008. I hope that you indeed get to cruise with Heidi and I and thank you for calling me a celebrity. You just made my day. I can’t believe you are picking up 3 ferrets from the local shelter. Thank you for caring for animals and never put one down your trouser leg. That’s a sport in the UK. Best wishes from Heidi and I.

LAMB KNUCKLES……………It seems I struck a cord by suggesting a 2009 Bloggers Cruise Extra on the Queen Mary 2. Anyone else up for this? I have this wonderful desire to cruise with Cunard and if I can take a few of you with me along for the ride it will be even better. I promise I wouldn’t eat the lamb chops. Take care and thank you so much for the support of the blog thingy.

KAY DUCKWORTH…………..Hello Kay. I will indeed see you on the Carnival Freedom for your May 10 cruise. I will however not be the Cruise Director as I am just there to assist in the set up for the European season. Congratulations on booking the Bloggers 2009 cruise. Now, with regard to Athens and which tour to take, of course you have to see the Acropolis. I would recommend the Athens & Acropolis Tour. This tour includes a full tour of Athens, then the Acropolis and shopping time in Plaka. I would definitely recommend taking a tour in Athens as the local transportation system is not very reliable. Hope this helps and see you soon.

PAM M……………….I am also sorry I will not be with you, however, the good news is the best Maitre ‘D in the fleet, Ken, will be there to host your dining experience. Thank you for cruising with us 17 times and maybe one day we will be together, until then please keep reading the blog thingy and all the best.

BIG MIKE……………….Caviar sounds like fun. It has to be Iranian. This is George Hamilton’s favorite and apparently it is to be eaten with the finest Cristal Rose Champagne…………or we should just stick to type and have a burger and chips and a Diet Coke. Looking forward to meeting my Chief of Security one day soon. Cheers.

MICHELLE………….Another first time poster. Hello Michelle. I remember your luggage incident very well and I am sure your husband Tom spends many days in the doghouse, a place I know so well. Sorry I won’t get to see you, however, please can you send me your surname and cabin number and as Platinum guests I will make sure your request will be taken care of. Glad you are enjoying the blog; I hope this continues for a long time to come. Looking forward to hearing from you again.

SHARON DOVER……………….Just wanted to say Thank You for your kind words and here is to cruise number 4 together. Cheers!

MARK CHAMBLISS……………..I passed your thanks to all the people you mentioned and your continuing kindness is so very special. My best to you and your family.

CRUZIN SAL……………If you need help with the “nudging” please let me know. Heidi returns her regards to you and thank you again for a lovely posting.

ESTHER VALLINS………….As you can see, so many people enjoyed your letter and shared in your lovely words. I am so glad that you have so many memories of your cruise last week and Heidi and I want to officially welcome you to the blog. I hope to hear from you soon.

MARY 1010……………….How kind of you to ask if Heidi would like a Starbucks mug from Hawaii. This would be really great for her collection which gets bigger every week. Thank you again for thinking of her and she sends her thanks in advance for your kind offer.

JERI GREEN……………Unfortunately, as you would have read, the gentleman we disembarked passed away. I see you had your own experiences with helicopter rescues and we can never thank the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard enough for all they do. I know the people who were asking if 70-year-old people can cruise back to back. I have read your comments and I am sure they will have been encouraged by what they have read. Thank you so very much and I hope you continue reading the blog thingy as often as you can.

CAPTAIN BILL………………Thank you for inviting me to join the Brotherhood of the Masons. I am well aware of the amazing work they do. My dad has been a proud member for many years. Maybe when time allows you can help me understand more about them here in North America. Thank you Captain, I hope the smile on your face lasts for a long time.

TRACY……………Thank you for your kind words and thank you also for helping with Jake’s question. Hope you are well. Cheers.

VICKI……………Thank you for your last name and cabin number, however, what the heck was I supposed to do with it? I can’t remember. STEPHANIE ……CAN YOU E-MAIL VICKI AND FIND OUT WHAT I WAS SUPPOSED TO DO FOR HER??? THANKS.

LINDA, MOM OF DJ……………….I am glad the Shriner letter brought back many memories. How is DJ? I have such a clear picture of his smiling face as he stood talking to me in the Lobby. Please send him our kind regards. Thanks Linda. What a great mom you are.

KANUCK CRUISER…………..Sometimes it is very hard not to lose your cool and it is even harder to accept that no matter how hard you try, there are people who will leave the ship disliking you and the product. Thank goodness this only happens on rare occasions. I am so happy to hear your new business is such a success. I am very proud of you. I look forward to a sugar free ice cream and that handshake. Cheers mate.

CHERI BOLCHOZ…………….You asked about debarkation during your back-to-back cruise on the Carnival Freedom this winter. Unfortunately and as hard as we try, CBP (Customs and Border Patrol) require every guest to disembark the ship, pass through immigration and then come back on board. It is a pain I know and frustrates many, however, unfortunately there is nothing we can do. Believe me, we have tried. Anyway, do not let this worry you as you will have 2 fantastic voyages on a beautiful ship. Wish I could be there with you. Cheers.

TOM AND JANE……….Thank you Tom and Jane. I am building a plank as we speak. Best to you both.

CROWN GOLFER……………Hello to you back in England. I remember the cruise with you last August as you mentioned that was the same one my mate Alan was on board as well. Esther’s letter was so beautifully written and you and many others have commented on this. Thank you for such kind words. Put the kettle on and I have a craving for Twiglets so if you see any, have some for me. Our best regards to you and the family.

PAUL F. PIETRANGELO……………Hello Paul. Every time I write a blog I never quite know in which direction it will go. Will it be funny? Will it be sad? A mixture or both? One thing is for certain and that’s, every day I write I grow closer to the people all over the world who take their valuable time to read. Your kind words make me feel so special and our friendship grows stronger every day. Thanks mate and one day I will get to shake your hand.

JEANETTE………………I am so glad that you have written. Did you see that I posted your bucket list? Don’t worry about that lady as last cruise was dominated by kind caring people such as yourself. Welcome to the blog and I have a feeling you and I will be communicating a lot over the months to come. Good Luck with the rest of your bucket list, you should be very proud of yourself.

LOURDES & RAOUL…………….Disembarking 2,500 people on tours is a complicated process. I think you will find the fine-tuning we have made will lead to a much smoother transition. I look forward to seeing you on the Carnival Splendor where we will have some of the most exciting tours we have offered anywhere. Cheers.

LINDA HERNACKI………………I read your bucket list and they were all very special and a list that will come true, especially number 5 which is also on my list. My best to you and of course to Mike.

That’s it for now. I will be starting with more tomorrow. I think I answered some of the questions out of date order as my many pieces of paper got messed up when Heidi decided to clean the desk. Thanks Heidi.

It all started last night while I was writing the last blog. I had this annoying pain underneath my left ear. I thought it may be a muscle ache and considered asking the 6’ 4″ Swedish massage therapist at the Spa to give me a massage, however, the pain under the ear would have been nothing if Heidi had discovered that Inga had laid her hands upon me.

Anyway, I did the Welcome Aboard Show and as normal, adrenaline took over and I forgot about the pain. However, when I went to bed the pain returned and I took 2 Advil and went to sleep. When I woke up this morning I knew something was not right. My eyes felt like the ladies Olympic shot-put champion was pulling down on my eyelids.

It was as though I had not slept in days. Oh well, I thought, it is just the last part of my cold and I took some more Advil, some vitamins and went to do the Morning Show. I managed to get through the Morning Show and Travel Talk and decided to have a lay down between 2 and 3 pm. During this hour’s nap I had turned into Marlon Brandon’s Godfather character. My mouth was crooked and the inside of my mouth was numb and my left eye was twitching more than a sparrow on a 3-000 volt live wire.

I tried to speak and my Godfather impression was constant until I tried to pronounce anything with the letter “P” where I had a distinct lisp somebody with the name like Serge. I should have been dressed in pink and listening to Cher.

What the hell was wrong with me? While I admire and respect the medical profession, I would rather face 1,000 Taliban armed only with a toothpick than go to the doctor’s. However, the fact that something was obviously wrong and because I was being gently guided there by Heidi’s Nike in my bottom, off I went.

I have something called Bell’s Palsy. This is a mild facial paralysis which the doctor said was probably brought on by my severe cold. Apparently this is very common and effects 1 in every 50 people and guess who the 1 is ……… me ………..bugger.

The annoying thing is that my left eye won’t close properly and therefore I am not blinking. This could mean damage to the eye itself and therefore I am Johnny Depp……..Pirate of the Freedom. ……………Aaaarrgghhhhh….

All I need now is a parrot on my shoulder and for my left leg to fall off.

I went to the Captain’s Cocktail party this evening and I am sure the guests enjoyed the site of me looking like the Godfather but with the voice of Richard Simmons introducing the Captain. I decided at the second sitting to tell the guests why I was wearing a patch over my eye as so many were asking. They seemed very sympathetic. Deep down I am frustrated beyond anything I ever felt. I have had flu and carried on, I have had food poisoning that has left me dehydrated and smelly but I carried on.

However, tonight, trying to talk was near impossible, the left hand side of my face looked like Mike Tyson had used me for punching practice and now my right eye has gone on turbo wink mode I came off stage feeling pretty bad. The doctor has said that this could last for 24 hours or up to 2 weeks. I hope it’s the 24-hour strain as two weeks of this will drive me crazy and the way I look would probably get me arrested for being a potential ax-wielding maniac.

Heidi has been typing today’s blog as typing with two fingers is hard enough but with one eye, well you can imagine. The doctor has prescribed Prednisone which is a steroid and hopefully this will help bring the symptoms under control quickly. I was having a really bad day and was in an awful mood until the doctor told me the side effects of Prednisone.

These include hyperactivity and most importantly, severe gas. ………there is a God. Tomorrow is another day and hopefully one where I will look better than this.


John the pirate


Ugly sod


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.