Let's Get Ready to Rumble

August 1, 2008 -

John Heald

Well, apart from a few squabbles about seating on the tour bus it’s been a very successful two days here in St. Petersburg. Apparently there was a bit of handbag slapping between two ladies who both wanted to sit in the same seat…………and the sad thing was they were friends, travelling together and in the end the staff had to put them on seperate buses. That aside all the guests seemed to have a great time ashore and they will, I know, be extremely happy that we get an extra hour tonight with the clocks going back one hour.

Heidi and I spent the day trying to relax a little and even sat outside for 40 minutes before my phone rang and that was the end of that. I had to go and make an announcement because we had a huge barge moored next to us bringing on fuel and we needed to make sure nobody was on that side of the ship smoking. So, I went and made the announcement and then…………well………I sat down to answer one of 76 e mails in my inbox thingy and two hours later I was still there…………….bugger.

I should have made the effort to go ashore and check on some of the tours and I will indeed do that next trip but I guess my body still is annoyed at me and keeps telling me to rest as much as possible.

Here though are some photos of St.Petersburg today taken by Jaime.


The outside of el Hermitagio


The Opera House


St. Isaac’s Cathedral – 4th largest domed Cathedral in the world


Later on, at the Hermitage


Later on, at the Hermitage


The Small throne room

Here are some letters for today’s In Their Own Words Section

When you deliver a new ship lots of people sit down and think in a tank about what should be done to deliver the best possible cruise vacation and for the most part they think of everything. One area where I messed up though was Karaoke. I did not allow for the fact that with so many International guests we would get such a demand for International songs. I have had some Brits who want british chart music, a big group of Mexicans who want Latin music and the Japanese who want the lyrics to every song in the world in Japanese………………we are a long way short of being able to please everyone. I have requested more songs and hopefully this will help but as of know we are well off the mark………….and that’s my fault.

One thing that is as popular though with our teens in Club O2 and Circle C is the thing with the guitar. Now, I think its called Guitar Hero or Heroes on the Guitar but whatever its name the kids love it. They stand in front of the screen playing their Playstationxboxnintendo guitar thingy and banging their heads up and down as though they are members of Iron Maiden…………….but of course they are not. What possible guitar hero could the kids be emulating in their electronic world……….Brittney Agulira, Limp Cookie, The Black Eyed Pees? If you asked any of the spottied youths playing the game if they new who Hendrix, Blackmore, Clapton etc were they would probably look at you as if you were speaking Klingon. I watched the game and the top ten songs they had to choose from and I didn’t know any.

My top 10, as it stands at the moment, features AC/DC, Motörhead, Steppenwolf, Queen, Kenny Loggins, Golden Earring, and rather disturbingly Meat Loaf’s appallingly pretentious Bat Out of Hell. In the whole of my personal top 20, there are only three acts from the 21st century.

Do you see where I’m going here? There’s much talk, about which of the new bands are any good…….and there may be some. But the fact of the matter is that the good ones, and they are few, are drowned in a pit of Elephant poo.

Heidi says I am a rock dinosaur but you should see my her record collection. Of course, it isn’t a record collection as such; it’s an assembly of ones and noughts on her computer, but anyway, being Dutch and 8 years younger than me she likes Flo Rider, any band with boys in it and Madonna because ” she is cool ” and worse of all this awful Euro Pop rubbish that when I hear it makes me want to cut my ears off with a chain saw.

This means, of course, she refuses to come with me to concerts starring real rock stars. In the past ten years I have gone alone or with friends to see Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Yes, the Who (half of whom have disappeared in a pool of vomit and chemicals) and best of all …………Jethro Tull . Heidi has said she will come with me to see that crooner guy from Canada Michael Bubble

The last concert I went to was the reunion tour of The Police………..it was great. There was no unduly long queue for the lavatory cubicles, nobody was flogging bags of expensive aspirins, and in the ballads, instead of waving cigarette lighters around as we used to at concerts like this, everyone held up their mobile phones so their friends could hear the tunes too. Best of all, nobody was beaten up and murdered on the way out. Everyone just piled into their Range Rovers and went home.

Now, compare this with one of those rave thingies. Herds of people all having taken a cruise on a pill called Ecstasy, waving their arms in the air as though asking permission to go to the toilet,

Rock’n’roll, I’m beginning to suspect, is a dying art form concern.

Every attempt to change the original formula, be it hip and hop, drum and bass, techno or crap is being made by the record companies of today.

I can absolutely guarantee that 30 years from now, nobody will be going all the way to Madison Square garden to see Pee Diddly, or 25 cents.
Kids today need proper Guitar Heroes.

There was an extra treat today for us here in Europe as we got a great view of a solar eclipse. Here are some photos taken by Doctor Jason which I know you will enjoy

Here is an interesting comment

Guest: Mrs ————- Ref: 002802139A
Cabin: 7449 Booking#: 9T10K4

7449 – CHILD WAS WATCHING ADULT SPORTS CHANNEL

Mrs. _________ came to the Purser’s desk very upset because she had returned to her cabin after dinner and found her 14 year old son watching two men fighting in a cage on the sports channel. Guests said that there was a lot of blood and that this was not something she would let her child watch at home. Guest said that there should be a device like in hotels that allows parents to stop children watching TV. Purser apologized and said that her comments would be passed on to the relevant department heads.
Mrs. _________ thanked and left.

When I saw this comment I felt a need to call the guest………..so I did. I explained that we did have a parental lock on the pay per view movies and the use of minors sail and sign cards around the vessel. However, the program her son had been watching was being show on ESPN International at 9:00pm in the evening and we had no such ” lock ” on terrestrial TV.
The guest said that she was amazed at this and that her son had been corrupted by what he had seen. I didn’t want to get into a discussion about what her son had and had not seen in his 14 years so instead I offered an apology which she accepted ………….I think.

For those who are not aware of this sport let me set the scene. The idea is that two men are locked in a huge lions cage where they try to inflict as much harm on the other one as possible. They can use their hands, their feet, their knees, their …..well, anything I guess. The only thing that is not allowed is eye gouging and anything to do with the groin………..apparently you can use your teeth which means an opponent can be eaten.

The reason I know this is I remember the huge outcry of dismay in the British Press when this ” sport” crossed the pond. I remember Tony Blair our ex Prime Minister saying it was no different to fox hunting, bearbating, dog fighting etc. Ahhh, Tony, there’s another mistake mate………I mean how can you compare fox hunting with ultimate fighting. I mean, Mr Ripyourheadov the Russian fighter wasn’t sitting at home with Mrs. Ripyourheadov drinking a vodka when a pack of dogs barge in the door followed by Lord Singeon – Snob who looks on from his white horse while the dogs eat Mrs Ripyourheadov…………..these guys get in the cage on their own free will…………they do it for money and if they want to get in a cage and be kicked and punched and possibly eaten well………that’s their choice. I had a quick look at some facts and this cage fighting stuff is now more popular than the Hulk Hogan style of theatre………….sorry…………..wrestling.

I must say though that I hate fighting of any kind. I prefer passive resistance and a sharp wit to avoid a fight and if that does not work I prefer fleeing…………..lots of fleeing.

My friend Danny and I once put on some boxing gloves and got in the ring at the gym together. We made snarly faces at each other and I did Rocky Bilbao impressions and it was fun until he hit me in the ear………I said ” ouch ” and it was all over. I could not believe how much it hurt.

Then there was the time I was hit by a guest. …………..I am thinking that I may have told this story before months ago on the blog………….if I have…………..well, sorry but it ties into what I am talking about.

I was Assistant Bar Manager on the Carnivale and a very drunk passenger…………we called them passengers back then……….had been touching a lot of bottoms. He would walk up behind a girl and tap or pinch her on the buttocks. Eventually he did this to someone and it was the last straw………..he did it to me. Now, these were the days before security guards and it was just little old me…………and yes, I was little back then………….left to ask him to leave. So, I did ………….and he left………………but he came back 15 minutes later with his friend Mr. Heiniken. They both crept up behind me and Mr.Heiniken was smashed over my head.

People said afterwards that I should have hit him back which is not an easy thing to do when you are flat on your back in a dead faint seeing stars and three legged donkeys infront of your eyes………………he was disembarked in Nassau the next day and handed over to the authorities where I hope he shared a cell with a huge Bahamian who showed the passenger who hit me over the head that indeed everything is better in the Bahamas and after he had made him his bitch………….braded his hair.

As I said, I hate fighting but I love a good argument. Just this afternoon I was arguing with a guest………..in a good way. I met him on Lido Deck as I walked to get my new lunchtime choice of chicken from the rotisserie which is wonderful by the way and a big salad. I was with Heidi and while I was munching my lunch along comes a guest and asks if he can join us. Now, while your heart says ” no, bugger off, I only have 30 minutes break and I want to spend it with my wife and not with you especially as you are wearing an RCI shirt ” but my mouth said ” of course, please sit down”…………so he did.

Now, the fact that he was wearing an RCI shirt and was ok with showing the Cruise Director this should have raised the flag for what was to come.

He started off by introducing himself as Brad and how he was having a good time. He liked the shows, the food and especially the fact that we could close the lido roof at night. Wow, this was going good and I was about to offer him some of my chicken as a reward when he said ” but RCI will soon be the post popular cruise line in the world because they are building bigger ships and more of them”………….I withdrew my offer of chicken and instead considered stabbing him with one of the bones.

And so, we spent the next 30 minutes having right old argument about if bigger is better. He obviously wants to cruise in a shopping mall and stand in line for 3 days to get on and off the ship. He disagrees and his main argument was that in American culture bigger is always better. He referred to the new Jumbo 747 thing that has now gone into service and also the fact the larger the shopping mall the more choice.

I argued that bigger is better only if its done right………….you can dress Kirsty Alley and Catherine Zeta Jones up in stockings and suspenders and lay them on a bed of roses and I guarantee that its going to be Kirsty who spends the night counting petals.

I also mentioned that if he was on the Mall of the Seas the chance of him finding the Cruise Director to enjoy a spot of lunch with would not be easy……….in fact, finding a seat of any kind will be difficult.

Neither of us were going to back down and I honestly think that Brad was by the way……….or still is…………an RCI employee…………just a hunch.

Therefore, lunch became a tangle of statistics and opinions and towards the end unfortunately Brad brought the proceedings to the finger poking personal abuse about how an RCI Cruise Director called Spacey or Tracey or something or other was funnier and more personable than me. I have no idea who this CD is and I am sure he is brilliant………..in fact I hope he is a brilliant Cruise Director because a bad one on any cruise line gives all a bad name as we do always get tarred with the same brush.

Anyway, at this point there was no point carrying on. In an argument like this there is never going to be a winner. His mind is made up and so is mine…………so then if I really wanted to make my adversary see things my way I should I have just punched him in the face ?

Now, given the choice of backing down from my strongly held conviction or being punched in the face or hit on the head with a beer bottle I assure you I would back down, lie down and whimper like a cocker spaniel.

However, I look at programs like Meet The Press or even the debates for the next President of the United States. They spend hours trying to make their opponents look foolish through the use of big words and statistics………but why. Let your opponent have his say ………….and then punch him in the head. This would certainly make the program more interesting and advertising sponsorship would be through the roof.

Instead of going to a commercial break during these debates and having to watch Gas X and Depends commercials, if the big companies like Budweiser and Chevrolet knew that one of the candidates would leave the debate stand with a broken nose it would bring in more money than the Superbowl commercials.
Maybe takeovers should happen this way as well. When RCI and Carnival Corp wanted to buy Princess maybe instead of meeting after meeting and shareholder this and that we should have just put the two Chairman in a cage and the winner got Princess………….the outcome would have been exactly the same……….we would have won……….Micky “the Mauler “Arison could take Richard ” the Shopping Mall ” Fain anyday.

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.