I Can Help You….Stop Yawning

July 30, 2008 -

John Heald

In the years I have been a Cruise Director I have had passengers tell me I need to lose weight, I have had passengers tell me that I am not funny, I have passengers even tell me that I should dye my hair ………however, last night it was something new……..a passenger told me I should get my teeth fixed.

There I was, standing at the lobby bar after the show buying a bottle of water when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Now, its amazing that a few people really feel that as I am the Cruise Director on their vacation that it gives them the right to say what they want………….”You’re too fat”………..”You’re not funny”……….”Your grey hair makes you look old”…………and last night at 11:55 pm it was………..”You should get your teeth fixed.”

I guess it was the fact that I was tired, still had a cold and that the man had not said “Good evening” or “Sorry to bother you,” or “We are having a great time and oh yes….by the way you should have your teeth fixed” that made me mad and I had to control my first reaction which would have assured the passenger that he would also have needed a dentist once my fist had been removed from his mouth.

However, I held back on my urge to punch him in the head and to insert a bottle of Evian water up his bottom and instead I smiled and said “Oh, are you a dentist?”…..he wasn’t …………he was a guest who felt that the fact that one of my two front teeth was not straight was something……..and I quote “Spoiled his viewing of me on TV.”……….he then went onto say that he was a “personal life coach” whatever the hell that is and he felt it was his duty to “help me “………….

Unfortunately my teeth was just the appetizer and the main course was indeed my weight. I stood and listened to him for ten minutes and just as I thought that maybe this guest was just a caring chap who wanted to be my friend he produced a flyer and a card and told me that he could “sell me some DVD’s and books” which could “change my life” and that he would be available to hold a seminar for all the passengers……………….I had the Evian bottle in my hand and it was getting closer to going in his bottom and becoming mineral water ……………….with gas.

I explained that all such seminars have to be cleared in advance and that the schedule was full and thanked him for his time and promised I would get my teeth fixed, lose weight, buy his books and watch his DVD’s ………….before I went to bed.

I mean, the nerve of the man………..to walk up to someone you have never met in person before and say “Hey, Mr Bent Tooth……….get yourself to a dentist because you are spoiling my morning TV “…………..well, it takes a special person.

Sometimes, I wish I was an elephant, not just because they have huge…….trunks……….but because if they are left alone they would never die. They have no natural predators and unless they end up on a wall in a big game hunters den……….they would never die and the world would be overrun with Dumbos. That’s why Mother Nature decided to say that when Mr and Mrs. Elephant lose their sixth set of teeth it would be time for them to go to the elephant graveyard.

Humans are different. The enamel substance that coats our teeth is the toughest, most resilient parts of our bodies. I mean, look at CSI type programs. The guys can pull a body out of a swamp and even though the body was shot, stabbed, chopped up, bathed in acid and painted pink, one look at the teeth and they can tell us who the body was, who killed him and what the killer’s sister had for breakfast in 1976.

It seems therefore that people are obsessed with teeth…………..and I am not. When I was very young I slipped on some ice, landed on my face and bent my tooth back.

My Mum took me to a dentist called Dr. Wein…………he opened my mouth and as he was looking around, dropped the mirror thingy down my throat. I couldn’t breathe and he was panicking, my Mum was panicking, I was turning blue and luckily the dentist assistant turned me upside down and managed to get hold of the end and pull it out…………accompanied by lots of diced carrot. And that was that……….my last visit for many years to a dentist. My Mum tried to bribe me with toys and food but I would go, sit in the chair and refuse to open my mouth………..after a while …………they just gave up.

Later, as a single man I went to the dentist only once when I had a toothache that had lasted for days and only when the options were go to the dentist or shoot myself in the head. I went in Cozumel, Mexico where the dentist said that all my teeth would have to be filled except three. I told him to “el buggero offo” and just take the bad tooth out. So, he pumped me full of that Nova thingy and all the fear and tremor of the incident when I was young returned………….and so did my previous nights dinner as I decorated the dentist and his chair in a bright coat of orange.

For the next nine years I didn’t go to the dentist at all and it does not seem to have made a difference. I have not been visited by Mr. Hal Itosis…..at least nobody has fainted when I speak to them because my breath smells like Paris.

Then, I met Heidi and my teeth world changed. Before we were married I had used the same toothbrush for three years…….I even had a name for it…….”Timmy “…….I had bought it from a store in St.Thomas called Mini Mouse House……..and it sang when you brushed.

I’m your friend brushy brushy
I keep your teeth shiny and bright
Please brush with me everyday
Morning, noon and night

Timmy was my friend but as soon as Heidi moved in he was killed, buried in the garbage can and replaced by an army of electric toothbrushes, floss and various toothpastes. Heidi also insisted that I have a dental check up every six months and because I am scared of her………I go.

When I do I sweat, I shiver and often before going my head is buried in the toilet.

Why do I need to have someone poke around in my mouth with a huge screwdriver…………CSI has proven that my teeth will last 1 million years after I am six feet under. Nobody has ever died of tooth decay, its the other parts that pack up first yet most of us don’t go to the doctors for a full service…………..I mean who actually goes to the doctor and says: “Hello Doc, I feel wonderful, no aches, no pains I have never felt better……..but can you please strip me naked, have a good poke around and then please shove a video camera up my bottom?”………….Of course not and that’s what dentists should be as well………you should just go there when something is wrong.

The problem today as highlighted by the guest who was offended by my teeth is vanity. There are four kinds of teeth as far as I can remember from my biology lessons. I could be wrong as I spent most of the time trying to look up Sally Poole’s skirt……..but………..there is the canines which are used to rip chunks of dead cow up from your plate………there are the incisors which are used to cut the meat up in your mouth…………there are the premolars for crushing and chewing…….and then there are the shiners which are used by local news TV anchors and if you are on the front page of Cosmopolitan.

To achieve these kind of teeth you have to have to be shot with lasers and spend millions of dollars which was not what nature intended. Yes you will have shiny white perfect teeth which won’t be yours……….but you will be broke……… and if you are shot, stabbed and have hot acid poured over you……………… the blokes from CSI won’t be able to tell us who you are.

Anyway, Good Morning from a beautiful crisp morning here in Helsinki.

The ship is quiet as everyone is relishing the 67-degree temperatures. The sun is shining bright but the cooler weather is much appreciated by all I think following the high 80’s in both Denmark and Germany.

This morning we conducted an emergency rehearsal drill for all the crew as part of the ongoing training process in guest safety. Talking of which……….here is today’s bio………and appropriately ………….. it’s the safety officer.

NAME
Cresenzo Palomba

DEPARTMENT AND POSITION
Deck Department, Safety Officer

HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED FOR CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES
9 years.

WHAT DOES YOUR JOB INVOLVE
– Training crew members regarding all safety of board.
– Checking all equipment in the lifeboat so that it is ready to use.
– Checking all firefighting equipment to ensure it is in good working order.

WHERE ARE YOU FROM
Naples, Italy

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB
Spending time with and training crew members.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAMILY BACK HOME
My family consists of my mom and dad, two sisters, two brothers, three nieces and one nephew. My sisters are both married, but the men are all single.

WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT BEING IN YOUR HOME COUNTRY APART FROM FAMILY
My city. I am traveling so often that I rarely get to see my home itself.

FAVORITE THINGS

MOVIE
Toto (comedy).

MUSIC
Old music such as classical, disco, anything soft.

FOOD
Sea food.

IF YOU COULD MEET ANY FAMOUS PERSON IN THE WORLD WHO WOULD IT BE
I am happy with the people I know.

IF YOU HAD TO DO ANOTHER JOB ON THE SHIP WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO AND WHY
I am working to be the Captain. That is what I have been training for all these years.

Time for some photo’s featuring some from Helsinki today and photos of The Eurodam and The Seabourn Pride arriving in Stavenger.


1952 Olympic statue


Eurodam arriving in Stavanger this morning


Seabourn Pride arriving in Stavanger this morning

I want to say another big thank you for all your comments. I continue to reply to each and everyone that is marked “Stephanie – Urgent – please have John reply” and, of course, read each and every one.

I wanted to say a big thanks especially to all those people who have joined the blog who sailed last cruise on the inaugural 12-day Baltic voyage. It is great to hear from you all and I appreciate so very much all your comments and views. You are joining a special group of friends and people who love life, love to laugh and of course love cruising. We have had 2.6 million hits in the first 14 months and as long as people keep reading the blog thingy I will keep writing. We have more great interviews and surprises coming up and in February next year some of the people who read the blog will be joining together for a very special voyage out of New Orleans aboard the Carnival Fantasy. She will have just had her refit and will then have the full Evolutions of Fun package ……….. Stephanie will add a link thingy here to tell you all about it. Hundreds of bloggers have already booked and I am hoping you will as well. For those who cannot, we will miss you, but hopefully we will have one more in 2009.

Click here to find out more about the 2009 John Heald Blogger’s Cruise

The blog has spawned an amazing community where we celebrate life together and when we needed we are there for each other in times of trouble. However, its life we celebrate today as we say congratulations to Paul F. Pietrangelo who has been a blogger since day one. Paul became a grandfather yesterday as his daughter gave birth to a little boy called Cole. Please join me in wishing all the family many congratulations.

We then have George Hicks who wrote to me saying that he is off to Iraq this week for a 5-month tour of duty with the Military Police. He is also a regular reader and although he marked his comment FYI I wanted to publicly say how proud we are of him and that he will be in our thoughts ………..hopefully you will get to stay in touch with us via the blog mate to let us know you are well.

Then we have people who have become best friends through the blog thingy. Here is a photo of a group of Bloggers who had not met before yet all met up in Little Italy in New York for a Bloggers Dinner.

Things like this make me feel brilliant……….friends created because of my silly musings …………… well, that’s priceless.

So, today, sensing that Heidi needed to get off the ship and spend some “us” time and even though I still don’t feel “right” I put my Air Jordan’s on and went ashore……….the first time I have touched dry land since …well three years ago……….well that’s how it felt.

Helsinki is a beautiful city. The locals are friendly and as I may have said before when God created Finnish women he left the ugly stick at home. It was a very popular port last cruise and judging by the fact that every tour is sold out again today it seems like it is again. Guests not on a tour tend to go downtown to shop………….more on that in a moment…………but if you do decide to do that take the shuttle bus provided by the port authority. Its only five euros per person each way whereas a taxi will cost three times that.

You must see the Sibelius monument and the gorgeous harbour area and of course the Cathedral on Senate Square.

I have been to Helsinki before of course, not just on the FAM trip but we spend three weeks here during the building of the Carnival LegEnd………I wonder if the Mayor of Finland is still the lady that said at the handover ceremony………”I am happy to be on the new Leg End.”

Anyway, we took the shuttle into town which by the way cost 5 euros each way and 10 minutes later we were standing outside Helsinki’s famous Stockmans department store. It’s an old fashioned store based on the English shops such as Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols ………… you know …………the type that still has people from Are You Being Served working there……..Mrs. Slocomb works on the 4th floor by the way.

Stockmans is a fantastic shop but unless you are Donald Trump or have just robbed three banks ……..don’t go in because even breathing the air is expensive. Luckily, we didn’t have time to shop as we were just going to have some lunch and go back to work.

Neither of us could remember any of the restaurants we had been to so we wandered the streets trying to find something that looked……..nice, serving local food. This proved to be harder than you would think as Helsinki was trying hard to be New York or London. We passed three Chinese restaurants, two American-style diners, a huge Micky D’s, two Italian restaurants and a Portuguese place called Nandos.

Eventually, we ended up at a restaurant with a traditional sounding Finnish name “The Fish Market”…………….and then the fun started.

First of all our waitress was not Finnish………..she was somewhere from one of the Baltic countries and if she was a day older than 16 then I am going to audition for the part of Billy Elliot on Broadway. She gave us no greeting, no welcome, she just handed us the menus with a face that looked like somebody had just killed her puppy. The menu was extensive and if you wanted me to I could tell you every single item on it. This is because after 30 minutes there was no sign of Miss. Rudeov anywhere. Eventually she returned to the table and took our order………..Heidi asked for the Monkfish and I the Cod………………and off she went……………..fishing.

That’s where she must have gone because 45 minutes later she had obviously caught bugger all. This was ridiculous…………..we had now been there hour and twenty minutes and the only thing we had been served was rudeness and that didn’t come with any bread and butter either …………. so……………..we left. We could have kicked up a fuss and moaned and complained but we didn’t have the time and I didn’t want Miss Rudeov to coat my cod with lightly battered pieces of booger……………….so we left.

I half expected the owner to come running after us with words of apology or at least to charge me for the water…………..but there was nothing………….we just walked out the door passing a few poor sods who were entering and are probably still there now…………..waiting for their appetizer.

And this is not just one restaurant in Helsinki that has this problem………….it’s all over Europe and maybe North America as well……….I don’t know.

Certainly in the big cities, staffing is a major problem. You see, it’s all very well employing a brilliant young chef who can perform magic in the kitchen if you can’t find anyone to take it from the kitchen to the dining room. At least make sure they speak a little of the language that the customers speak and fit them with a satellite navigation system so they can find their way back to the table.

Obviously, staffing is an important issue on the ships as well. It would be incorrect of me to say that every crewmember we hire is brilliant………..there is, of course, one bad apple in every barrel.
However, we try very hard in the industry to find the best and at Carnival and at our sister companies we are pouring major resources into finding the crew of the future. With all the icons that we find on vessels today the biggest icon of all is the crew. The future of cruising is one of new ships, rejuvenating older ones, adding bigger and better onboard attractions but as important as all of this in my opinion is finding the best crew and investing in their happiness…….they make the difference……….they are a huge part of what makes cruising …………the best vacation choice in the world.

I was going to finish there………….but then I saw this.

Good Evening John

Please be advised of the comments received at the desk.

Thanks

Lui
Chief Purser

_____ – NOT HAPPY WITH CRUISE DIRECTOR

Mr. _______ came to the desk stating that last night he had offered his help to the Cruise Director John to lose weight and to feel better about himself. Guest stated that John had refused his help and did not show any interest in what he was saying. Guest said that John yawned during their conversation. Purser apologized and said that she would pass his comments on to the cruise Director.

Apology letter sent to the cabin.

I can’t believe it……….I yawned because it was midnight and I had been working since 7 am ……………. I yawned because all he was trying to do was sell me some self help stuff……………calm down John……………calm down…………………..OK, I am calm……………and I have arranged to meet the guest in between the shows tonight. It will just be the three of us ……………. me…………….my life coach…………….and a very cold bottle of Evian.

Goodnight
Your Bent-Toothed, Overweight friend 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.