2009…….A Cruise Odyssey

August 22, 2008 -

John Heald

Without further ado let me tell you that Fred and Ginger are safely cocooned in the bosom of the Carnival Splendor. They arrived back at 8:20 pm. I had actually been truly worried about them………I wrote about them in the blog yesterday and although they are ummm “different”………I still worried that I had not given them enough serious assistance. Had they crashed, were they lost, had they caught foot and mouth mad sheep disease?

Well, I called Fred in the cabin and I expected him to sound surprised that I had called when in fact he was totally non-plussed about it as though I call every guest in their cabin to say welcome home. I asked him if he had discovered his ancestors in Berlin…………..and 20 minutes later I decided that it probably was one of the most stupid questions I have ever asked. Eventually, I managed to get a word in and said I had to go back to the deck party and just before he said goodbye he said………and this is an exact quote “I shall meet you in the lobby directly following your excursion program talk tomorrow to discuss our intentions in Russia.”…………intentions? Was Fred about to invade the country?…………………anyway, I have just returned from our meeting and that’s a whole other story…………for later.

Finally, after many a day the Baltic is bathed in uninterrupted cloudless sunshine. The Lido deck roof is open wide and all is well in the world……….except I am a little tired. Last night I finished hosting the German brass band on lido deck and was then invited to go to the cigar bar by Ken the Maitre D and some cigar loving bloggers who are sailing.

Ahh, the thought of a good cigar and great conversation sounded just great but my body told me to bugger off to bed. These days that is happening a lot and by midnight my body is no longer capable of movement. If you were to use complicated satellite spy equipment you might detect a slight rise and fall in my chest area and a slight downward movement in my eyes……..but that’s it. If someone just walked in and saw me they would pronounce me as dead and remove my internal organs for transplant purposes.

I am fine right up to about 11:30 pm when all of a sudden I hit a brick wall and even talking becomes a problem. All I can say is “uhh” This tiredness lasts right up to the moment my head hits the pillow and as soon as it does, things change. My heart beats faster than Keith Moon of the Who playing the drums……….. on acid………..and suddenly sleeps takes on the form of a beautiful and sexy woman and ………..ignores me completely.

I write a blog in my mind, I write lists, I think about the past, present and future and all the time the digital clock continues its relentless march past 3 am. Then at 4 am, I start to get angry because in 3 hours the alarm will go off and I will have to start work.

This has been going on for about a week now. I have tried everything and even started drinking decaffeinated coffee which tastes like liquid cabbage. I have tried counting sheep which led to the very disturbing addition of me wondering what other animals could jump over a farm’s fence………I tried pigs, cows and even farmers……..but it made bugger all difference.

Heidi has me on herbal remedies which she has been putting in my tea. It’s a blend of herbs and other green stuff and this has not helped either but I have started to like the Carpenters and rather worryingly I have started to find Richard Gere very attractive.

The worst thing about suffering from insomnia is that nobody gives a crap. ……….honestly, try this……I bet you the conversation will always go like this

FRIEND………GOODNESS JOHN, YOU LOOK AS ROUGH AS HELL
JOHN…………….YEAH, I HAVEN’T BEEN SLEEPING WELL. I TOSS AND TURN ALL NIGHT AND JUST CAN’T SLEEP
FRIEND…………REALLY, OH MY HEAD JUST HAS TO HIT THE PILLOW AND IN SECONDS I AM DREAMING ABOUT JESSICA SIMPSON AND A BOWL OF WHIPPED CREAM. I SLEEP LIKE A HUGE CANADIAN LOG.

Why do people do this? If a guest comes up to me and says “Can you help me, I am sight impaired and need to sit close to the stage to see the shows” I don’t answer ‘ “Really……oh my eyesight’s fine, I can see a boil on a bull’s thingy 100 hundred yards away.”

However, last night came good news. I had the best night’s sleep for over a week…………my head hit the pillow at midnight and I didn’t move until the alarm sounded at 7:30 am. ………….and the reason……….a book, kindly lent to me by Fred and Ginger entitled:

The Pennsylvania Germans: Jesse Leonard Rosenberger’s Sketch of Their History and Life –

This book provides an introduction into the life and times of Germans who settled in Pennsylvania. The first permanent all-German settlement was established in America in October 1683 at Germantown, which is now a part of Philadelphia…..feeling drowsy yet?

Germantown would then become the German-American center into the 19th century. This book describes old records, which deals primarily with the Scweinsteiger family, beginning with the pioneer Heinrich Scweinsteiger who owned the largest ………….getting tired now……………..lumber yard in the area………….going for a nap now………….back soon.

OK, here I am refreshed after a 30-minute power nap. I sent Fred and Ginger some gifts today and I am hoping that they forget that they gave me the book………….who needs sleeping pills?………..not me now I have …….The Pennsylvania Germans: Jesse Leonard Rosenberger’s Sketch of Their History and Life …………..bugger……..I am .zzzzzzzzz.

Let’s take a break and have a look at some photos of the Warnemunde Bike Tour with the WONDERFUL Jaime.

Now, here is an e-mail from our I/S Manager Kat.

Hi John

Ana, the Cabin Stewardess from the passenger area near my office came in screaming one day and said “Kat, I almost had a heart attack, I have to show you something that really really scared me”. And she opened the door showing me this:

Thanks for sharing Kat………I sent the guests some champagne for this innovative towel thingy person………………….absolutely brilliant.

Let’s meet today’s guest Cruise Director…….sports fanatic and longtime servant of fun, Mr. Trevor Block


1. Can you tell us which ship you currently are on and when you are due to leave?

FASCINATION UNTIL DEC 4/08. RETURNING FEBRUARY 2/09.

2. Carnival Cruise Directors come from very diverse backgrounds. Some have entertainment experience, some, like me have none. Can you tell us about your background and how you ended up with the best job in the world?

POLITICAL SCIENCE MAJOR – YORK UNIVERSITY. WORKED IN SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT & SUMMER/HOCKEY CAMP MY ENTIRE LIFE. ALSO WORKED IN LAW FIRM FOR 2 SUMMERS IN ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT BEFORE JOINING CARNIVAL IN 1995.

3. Before we talk about some of your favorite parts of the job, lets talk about the areas behind the scenes……….the things guests never see. Tell us about what a Cruise Director does when he or she is not on the stage but keeps you just as busy.

ASIDE FROM CAPERS, SCHEDULING, MEETINGS AND PHONE CALLS…EXERCISING, CATCHING UP ON THE SPORTS WORLD, TALKING TO MY FOLKS & FRIENDS BACK AT HOME TO CATCH UP.

4. A Cruise Director is happiest when performing or being with guests. Can you tell us two activities or events that you would call your signature items…………events that make you stand out from the crowd,

WALK AN HOUR (more people should exercise), & SENDING ALL THE CRUISE DIRECTORS VARIOUS SPORTS TRIVIA’S FOR BIG SPORTING EVENTS AND (ESPN GAME OF THE WEEK, SATURDAY COLLEGE FOOTBALL, RED VS BLUE CARNIVAL COLORS DECK PARTY – RED BULLDOGS VS BLUE LIONS).

5. What has been your most challenging moment as Cruise Director so far?

MY CONTRACT ON THE LEGEND 2 YEARS AGO (2006)! BUT THE CROWDS WERE GREAT (AS WAS THE SUPPER CLUB).

6. And, your most rewarding

I HAVE 3 OF THEM. 1) FASCINATION 1998 OUT OF SAN JUAN, PR – 6 MONTHS AS #1 SHIP OVERALL, AND 5 OUT OF 6 MONTHS #1 AS CD.

2) MY 2 YEARS OUT ON THE WEST COAST IN CALIFORNIA WAS AWESOME (BEST GOLF ANYWHERE).

3) SAILING WITH BOTH CARLOS BELTRAN AND DOUG FLUTIE. JESS AND I MET BELTRAN AND HIS WIFE WHILE ON THE INSPIRATION AND THE 4 OF US WENT TO DINNER AND A NIGHT TIME CATAMARAN TOUR IN ARUBA. IT WAS ON THAT CRUISE HE WON THE 1999 AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR AWARD.

7. On your current ship can you tell us about your itinerary and can you recommend one must do excursion from each port of call

3 & 4 day cruises from Miami. Cozumel – Golf or Catamaran tour; Key West – Trolley Tour is always fun AND THE TOUR OPERATORS ARE REALLY NICE; Nassau – Atlantis water park (and golf)

8. Why, in your opinion is Carnival…………..the world’s most popular cruise line

MY LIFE AND 2ND FAMILY FOR THE LAST 13 YEARS. FROM TIME TO TIME I AM THE CHILD WHO GETS SENT TO BED EARLY (AND WITHOUT FRUIT CUP).

9. Is there a ship in the fleet you would love to be Cruise Director of that you have yet to be so and what port of call would you like to visit that you have not so far in your career

IT WOULD REALLY BE COOL TO GET BACK TO THAT SUPPER CLUB AGAIN (BUT THAT’S OKAY CAUSE THERE IS A PF CHANG’S EVERYWHERE NOW). I DON’T KNOW…MAYBE GOING OUT OF BALTIMORE PERHAPS WOULD BE COOL. AND EVEN THOUGH I AM A NORTH/EASTERNER I WOULD RETURN TO THE WEST COAST IN A HEARTBEAT. WHAT GREAT TIMES WE ALL HAD!!!

10. Finally………….pick a Cruise Director table ……………..you are hosting a table at dinner onboard the carnival Dream………what’s for dinner………..and who do you invite.

FUNNY, DINNER ACTUALLY TAKES PLACE AT MY TABLE UP AT THE SUPPER CLUB – BUT WE ORDER IN DIRECTLY FROM PF CHANG’S AND THE PALM STEAK HOUSE.

APPETIZER

LOBSTER BISQUE, CAESAR SALAD CRAB WONTONS, AND CHANG’S SPARE RIBS OR THE SEARED AHI TUNA AND THE GIGI SALAD

MAIN COURSE

STEAK & LOBSTER (FROM THE PALM) AND THEN ORANGE PEEL BEEF, MONGOLIAN BEEF, CANTONESE CHOW FUN, DOUBLE PAN FRIED NOODLES, CHANGS SPICY CHICKEN (FOR JESS) AND EVERYTHING ELSE ON THE MENU AND WE DON’T LEAVE UNTIL IT’S ALL FINISHED!!!

DESERT
BIG FAT CHOCOLATE CAKE (BUT REALLY NOTHING BECAUSE I AM EXERCISING AND NEED TO WATCH MY WEIGHT). CHOCOLATE MOUSSE IS GOOD TOO.

SOMEONE FROM THE CRUISE INDUSTRY
PAST – ‘JB’ JOHN BUCCAFUSCO OR MY OLD FRIEND MATT GOODWIN
PRESENT – MY GOOD FRIEND RYAN FITZGERALD AND ISAAC FROM THE LOVE BOAT (IF HE IS STILL TENDING BAR). “ALL RIGHT”!

SOMEONE TO MAKE YOU LAUGH OUT LOUD
DON RICKLES OR STANLEY ULLMAN (SAME DIFFERENCE)

YOUR FAVORITE ACTRESS
WAYNE GRETZKY TAKES THIS PLACE AT THE TABLE BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE A FAVORITE ACTRESS. WAYNE BRINGS HIS WIFE JANET (WHO USED TO BE AN ACTRESS).

YOUR FAVORITE ACTOR
ROBERT DE NIRO (AND IF HE CAN’T MAKE IT MATTHEW BRODERICK)

YOUR FAVORITE MUSICIAN
U2 IS GONNA BE THERE

AND SOMEONE FROM HISTORY YOU WISHED YOU HAD MET
BUGSY SEIGEL AND MEYER LANSKY (CAN’T INVITE ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER).

Thanks Trevor and if any of you ever need any sports trivia answered……ask Trevor…………he is a fun guy whom I am sure many of you will have wonderful memories of.

So, I have been having a think about 2009 and after much consideration I have decided to join the Foreign Legion.

No, seriously, it’s been difficult and the resulting stress led to my moody blues of a few days ago. Obviously, Heidi is not going to be with me all the time. Of course, she will sail as often as she can but as I have said before, she deserves a better life. Anyway, this factored into my final answer on what I am going to do……here’s my schedule.

First of all let me say at the start that I will not be the Cruise Director for the Carnival Dream. This was the easiest choice of them all.

I have delivered 10 new ships and each time I have been so very proud to do so. However, it’s time for someone else to have a chance to experience the thrill and the guests need a chance to see someone else as their host.

Also……..and I don’t mind admitting that it’s very hard work and bringing this vessel out and writing the blog everyday was quite simply exhausting.

So, there will be another Cruise Director for the Carnival Dream and before you all ask me who…………..I don’t know……….yet. I certainly have some ideas who I would recommend and nearer the time I will do so. However……….I will be on the inaugural cruise………….as a guest blogger………..taking all of you with me for the Dream voyage ………….who knows………..I may still host the naming ceremony, I really enjoy doing that.

Now that’s out of the way…………..let’s talk 2008. I will stay here on the Carnival Splendor until after the crossing. I am still not sure of my exact leaving date yet. I can tell you that “Goose” will be the new CD and I am waiting for him to tell me when he will be ready to take over.

I will have December at home with the family.

In January, just after the New Year I will embark on a Carnival grand tour. I realize that I have been writing about Europe but Carnival has its bread buttered in the Caribbean, so I intend to sail on as many ships as I can to write about what I have seen

I start on the:

Carnival Conquest on 11 January…………..a seven day cruise.

Carnival Imagination on 19 January………….5 day cruise.

Carnival Legend on 25 January………7 day cruise

Heidi then joins me for a few days in the Big Easy before the Bloggers 2009 cruise on February 7.

Carnival Glory 14 February…………7 day cruise

Then home until April 8

April 8 – Trans-Atlantic on Queen Mary 2 to New York, arriving on April 14.

April 15 — fly from New York to Grand Cayman to join Carnival Liberty on Grand Cayman.

Spend 9 days onboard before taking over the Carnival Liberty for the Trans-Atlantic crossing from April 25.

Stay on Carnival Liberty until……………..well, for the Europe season.

So, there you have it. Of course, I have no idea if I will be allowed to sail on the Queen Mary 2……in fact, I haven’t even asked yet. Also, I have no idea if any of the Carnival ships have cabins. Hopefully someone reading this will take pity on me and block one for me.

I thought about sailing on other brands but this time I really want to concentrate on the Carnival brand, hope that’s OK with you.

Have a read of this.

Cabin: ___Booking#: 5ZX074 Added-Changed: 08/21/08 – 08/21/08

____- SHIP IS TOO BIG

Purser received a call from Mr_______ who said that he was having a great time and how friendly the crew were. He had no specific problems but wanted to say that he found the ship too big and preferred the small ship Carnival Miracle ship. Guest thanked Purser for listening. Nothing Further.

I found this a very interesting comment. We live in a world of miniaturization………is that a word? I remember my Hi – Fi system which was the size of a wardrobe and the record player had this giant crane sized arm and a needle that could have been used to inject into a horses bottom.

Now look where we are today………Nano Eye Pods. My Dad has a collection of Leica cameras from 1900 BC and something called a Hassalbladder which needs its own baggage handler when he travels. Nowadays, cameras are lighter than air.

I love big things………which is why Kate Moss does nothing for me.

I like big portions on my plate not pretty food that you need a microscope to see and I like big cars ……….if I had my way I would drive the one my favorite TV detective used to drive. His name was Frank Cannon and he used to drive a car……I have no idea what make it was but it was the size of …………well………..the actor who played Frank Cannon.

Anyway, I have nothing really to add except this is another example of the current question here in the industry…….is bigger better?

And so, back one more time to Fred and Ginger.

Of course, I can understand why people trace their own ancestors and why the 1901 census website crashed so spectacularly when it went online a couple of years ago. It’s for the same reason that scientists study black holes. Wanting to know where we came from is what differentiates us from things with four legs.

Over the years I’ve occasionally thought about looking into my family’s history because, like everyone, I harbored a secret desire to find it was Howard Hughes, King Henry 8th or Winston Churchill.

But the reality is that we come from a long line of dullards, so I’ve never bothered. …………..well………….I did a bit.

If they I had written a book about what I found it would have been called Revealed: Britain’s Biggest Inbred because preliminary research showed that my ancestors back to 1720 — and there were about 1,000 of them — had all been born within 12 miles of one another. It’s a wonder I don’t have one eye and a speech defect and live on a small island in the Bahamas. There are places in the Caribbean where things are relatively close if you know what I mean……..shout “hey, Mr. Boden, I have some money for you”………..and you will get killed in the stampede.

There are many companies in cyber land who promise to prove that you are the rightful Baron De Rothschild of Lapland but when you give them your money, all you get back is some half-arsed coat of arms which proves only that you’ve been suckered ……………for an extra $100 you can buy a piece of Mars.

Even in the real world, life for the history sleuth is hard because 18th and 19th-century handwriting and spelling were lousy. I spent one afternoon reading what I thought was a history of cigar smoking, but it could have been a recipe for Spotted Dick.

Also, while record keeping has always been meticulous in North America and the UK, people were not forced to register births until 1875. Worst of all, you can spend thousands of pounds and travel thousands of miles only to find you are from a long line of pig farmers. Or, horror of horrors …you’re French and Fred is my great uncle.

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.