Bare Naked Ladies

August 24, 2008 -

John Heald

Are you ready for a bit of a ummm…rude start

Guest: ————— Ref: 002803361A
Cabin: ____Booking#: 7R18L2 Added-Changed: 08/23/08 – 08/24/08


Mr. ———– approached the desk to say that he had been on a tour to Helsinki and that a staff member had been reading a pornographic magazine on the coach. The guests said he was very religious and found this very upsetting. Guest stated the crew members name was ________ . Purser apologized and said that his comments would be forwarded to the Cruise Director and the Hotel Director.Letter of apology sent and follow up from CD.

Well, this had my blood boiling and wouldn’t you know it, just before bedtime as well. I know this staff member and I was very surprised that he would be reading such a thing and really wanted to check this out for myself and see what the story was. I won’t mention his name but he was on the tour to assist the guests as well as report back on the guide and the tours structure ………. something we do a lot for quality control purposes.

So, this morning I called the staff member and he came up to the office and to cut a long story short he wasn’t reading a pornographic magazine, he was reading something called GQ and FHM …………. men’s magazines.

I am looking at the FHM magazine which is here on my desk. It says it has a circulation of 500,000 and amongst the pages about fashion, gadgets and sport you can feast your eyes on a horse with two extra legs growing out of its neck, and a man who was born with his head on back to front.

Also, there is a boy of 9 who has been accepted into Princeton which I guess is a university, a bloke with testicles the size of two water melons and a man with what appears to be a sack of red potatoes growing out of his face.

I can see though why the guest is upset because there are also photos of women in various states of undress……..and some men as well all of which seem to be staring at something in the distance ……..probably at the person who shoved a cucumber down the front of their underpants.

On the cover of the magazine is some woman from a program called Grey Anatomy who for some reason has forgotten to put her clothes on…………this is very strange because she is photographed cooking in her kitchen…………something usually done clothed. I wonder if Carnival would be interested of taking a photo of me ….. cooking at home………..naked…………making spotted dick.

Fine, but this kind of stuff doesn’t really work on a tour bus. I mean, it is not right to be looking at photos of a man with elephantiasis when you have a stranger, who may be a nun, sitting next to you.

And it is no good turning the page because whoa, it’s a double-page spread of Christina Agulirathingy wearing nothing but a coating of baby oil…….holding a small dog……..called Lucky……damn right he is.

I explained to the staff member that – although the magazines contained articles about Armani suits and Ferraris – it simply was not correct to read such magazines in front of guests. Would you pull out the Playboy centerfold and nod appreciatively I asked him?…….”No, of course, not,” he said.

Precisely. And it’s no different with FHM and GQ then, the later having a center fold of some Russian tennis player who is wearing just a tennis racket.

Anyway, the staff member and I called the guest together. We explained that they were the male versions of Crapmopolitan, Vague and Helle. The guest understood and I have sent a little I am sorry gift to his cabin. The magazines have been confiscated by me and the staff member has also written a personal apology to the guest ……he was very silly to read this in front of the guests………and he knows it.

So, good morning from St. Petersburg where it’s now 8:35 am and we already have 2,400 or so guests ashore. The lines at Immigration were there, they were long at times but they were controlled and having learned from past cruises I think I did a much better job in preempting the guests to expect these delays. I did a very bad job on this the first few voyages and have had to learn to lower guests’ expectations with regard to the debarkation process here.

It’s not always easy to stand on stage and publicly admit that something negative is going to happen…………I have now learned to do this and it has helped immensely. The weather so far is fine with no sign of the heavy showers that were forecast……….I hope that stays the same all day. This is a beautiful city and I hope I get a chance one more time to have a look around………….we only have one more call after this so I had better make it soon.

St. Petersburg is by far the most popular port and it should be on everyone’s bucket thingy list to see.
I mentioned the concerns we have with some of the larger Asian groups yesterday. Well, on the positive side I have to say how they love to dance. The dance floors in all the lounges are packed each and every night and our dance classes are as popular as they have ever been.

We have also started cooking demonstrations in the Supper Club with our chefs preparing delights in front of a live audience. This is very popular and so much so that we now have to take reservations for these events. They are then filmed and played on the TV’s for other guests to enjoy. This is also a very popular event for our chef’s as well.

Often they are stifled into cooking only what is on the menu. I would love to see our Steakhouse have a ” Open Chef ” night where the regular menu is replaced by whatever the chef’s from India, Asia and Europe want to cook……….I have a feeling this would be terrifically popular……………what do you think?

Time for a few photos. Here are some of the Kronenburg Palace in Copenhagen. I know we are in Russia but I am playing catch up with the photos as I have so many to post.

Let us have a read of a very frank and honest interview with Big Tex. He is a big bloke with a
big heart and big talent and it is obvious why he is so popular.

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

I am on the Carnival Fantasy until February of 2009 (I’ll be leaving with the bloggers) and in April I will take over the reins as the Cruise Director on the Carnival Valor.

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.

I worked my way through college doing radio which has helped with the public speaking side of things. Along the way I waited tables, sold insurance, and even spun discs at some of Amarillo’s finest gentlemen’s club (I was a broke college kid, I needed the money). To say that I stumbled into the job would be an understatement. I cruised on the Celebration for a college graduation present. I thought it was fantastic so I decided to join up. I figured that I would only do a few months and then get a “real job” on land. Six years later I’m still here. Carnival keeps paying me so I keep showing up.

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.

Probably one my biggest time consumers is managing the Entertainment Staff. As a “normal” person, my thinking is very linear. If you want to start at Point A and get to Point C, then you need to go through Point B first. Entertainers are not “normal” people. There thinking is very scattered. If you start at Point A and you want to get to Point C, then you can get there anyway you feel like. That’s not to say the staff aren’t intelligent, because they are. It’s just that they think with the other side of their brain. Another thing most people don’t get to see are the conversations with guests who have issues with various aspects of their cruise. As the Cruise Director, many people think that I am responsible for EVERYTHING on the ship. And while I try my best to listen to and solve their problems, there are many times that there is literally NOTHING I can do to fix it. These situations can be very frustrating for our guests and even more so for me. I tend to take things personally and because of that, the job can be very trying sometimes.

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,

I have to say the one thing I’m known for is my dancing ability. It has to be the most talked about thing I do onboard. In fact, you can even see it on Youtube. The dances began with my good friend Bubba and when he started his own show, I stole his moves. I’ve seen Chris do the dances and I have to say that while he was entertaining, he was nowhere near my level of performance. The only really tough thing about doing the dances is how much I sweat. I’m 300 lbs and when I finish dancing I’m sweating like John Edwards at a paternity test. I also find that people love the Mardi Gras Party. It’s simply one of the biggest events each and every cruise here on the Fantasy. And I host every single one of them.

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

The one thing that sticks in my mind the most was when the Celebration ran aground in Nassau. I was in the last month of 9-month long contract. I was worn and tired and had only been doing the job for less than a year, so needless to say, I was very inexperienced. The ship was pulling into Nassau Harbor at noon (which meant EVERYONE was watching from the open decks) when she struck the sand beneath us and hit “soft aground”. The propeller was damaged (two of the flukes broke off), the ship was crippled and we had to hobble back to Jacksonville. Besides the obvious disappointment and anger from the guests, the situation was made even worse when one of the most Senior Managers in Miami gave me his take on the situation. I’ll paraphrase the phone call because I was too shaky to remember it word for word. Basically, I was told – This is a bad thing, as the Cruise Director, you’re job is turn bad things into good things. That’s how we know whether or not you’re a good Cruise Director. If you can’t turn this negative into a positive, then maybe we don’t need you as a Cruise Director after all. The conversation couldn’t have lasted for more than 30 seconds but it seemed like an eternity. It may seem harsh to some people, but it focused me on the task at hand. I got some advice from some people I trusted (and yes, the author of this blog was one of them) and took care of business. I must have done well, because I got my full promotion about 3 months later.

6. And, your most rewarding

I get my most rewarding moments every day. Literally, every day someone tells me how much they’re enjoying themselves. They come up to take photos, shake my hand, tell me how much they enjoyed me, and on and on and on. These are things that keep me coming back, and that’s one thing I would like to mention to people out there. Don’t be afraid to talk to the crew on the ship, and if you think they’re doing a good job, tell them. Nothing will make a crewmember’s day more, than knowing that they’ve helped one of our guests have a memorable and wonderful experience.

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

The ship sails from New Orleans (currently Mobile because of a problem in the Mississippi River) and does year-round 4 and 5 day cruises to Cozumel and Progreso. Let me start by saying that in Progreso, you it’s highly recommended that you take an excursion. No one will force you, or scare you into it but for those who are not savvy travelers, you will find Progreso a bit limited. There are some amazing adventures to be had (Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins – which is one of the
Seven Wonders of the World), there are peaceful getaways (Progreso Resort Beach Break) and there are some crazy parties (Corona Beach Break), but whatever you do, make sure you take an excursion. I’ve never understood why people will spend thousands on a cruise, but won’t enjoy their ports because they don’t want to spend a couple hundred extra on tours for the family. In Texas we would say “penny smart and dollar foolish”.

Cozumel is, in my opinion, the crown jewel of the Caribbean. There are dozens of tours, but nothing like Jeep and Buggy tours that take you over to the eastern side of the island, because that is where Cozumel’s raw, natural beauty is at its purest form. In the times that we live in, every dollar counts, especially the vacation dollar. Why not get every last cent out of it. Simply put, Shore Excursions are the best value around.

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

Because a Carnival cruise doesn’t focus on the ship. It focuses on the people. When people take a Carnival vacation there’s heart and soul, not a just a big chunk of steel.

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

I would, at some point, love to be on a ship out of Galveston. It just seems like a proper thing to do for someone named “Big Tex”. As far as a port of call is concerned most people have the same thought, Alaska and Europe. I’m no different than most.

10. Every CD has a story to tell from their time onboard. What’s your most recent funny, sad or inspirational story you can share with us

It’s not recent, but when I first started with Carnival (only a couple of weeks into my career) I was asked to be the DJ on the nude cruise. Essentially, it was a full ship of nothing but naked people, and when you hear people say “It’s everyone you probably DON’T want or need to see naked”, they are not kidding. There are two people that I will never forget from that cruise though. The first was a fellow with a bit of musical skill. There was a talent show on that cruise and there are certain things that once they’re in your brain, they’re not coming out. One such image, a naked man playing the trumpet, wearing only a baseball cap, tennis shoes and a fanny pack (where else was he going to keep his Sail & Sign Card). Once that’s etched into your brain, you will never forget it. The other was somebody’s Grandmother no doubt. She was about 80, loved to dance and was the first one on the floor and the last one off…every night. Her favorite place to dance…right in front of the DJ Booth. Her favorite outfit…black high heels, pink ruffled ankle socks — and nothing else. Why does such a lady stick in my mind, because when you get that age, not only does the top stuff start to sag, but the bottom stuff does too. It looked like she had a bloodhound in a scissor lock.

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

APPETIZER – Bacon wrapped scallops (Everything tastes better with some pig on it.)

MAIN COURSE – Bacon wrapped Filet Mignon, with bacon wrapped asparagus and a loaded baked potato with cheese, butter, sour cream and bacon. (Noticing a theme here?)

DESERT – Bacon Ice Cream (Yes it exists, you can order it online.)

SOMEONE FROM THE CRUISE INDUSTRY – My wife (She’s the Dance Captain.)

SOMEONE TO MAKE YOU LAUGH OUT LOUD – Will Farrell (He’d have to do all his lines from Anchorman.)

YOUR FAVORITE ACTRESS – Scarlett Johansson (For two BIG reasons.)

YOUR FAVORITE ACTOR – Jack Nicholson (You can’t handle the truth.)

YOUR FAVORITE MUSICIAN – Willie Nelson (I have about 20 of his albums.)

AND SOMEONE FROM HISTORY YOU WISHED YOU HAD MET – Winston Churchill (One of the toughest men to walk the face of the earth.)

Great interview mate and for those of us who are coming on the Bloggers Cruise we will all be enjoying some fun with him ……….. maybe I will even get up and do the dances with him.

Oh, I forgot to tell you yesterday……I am leaving the ship on August 29 and taking some vacation time. I will return to the Carnival Splendor on August 30. …………so that gives me……..ummm…… night. And it’s not really vacation. I leave Amsterdam at noon which means I won’t be home until 4 pm. At 5 pm I have my yearly check up at the diabetic clinic and there should just be enough time for a Yorkshire pudding with Mum and Dad before driving back to Dover to rejoin the ship by 11 am.

Normally, I would not do this but as the flight from Amsterdam to London is only 45 minutes and the ship is Dover the next morning it seems silly not to. Doctor Basu has been our family physician for many years and I would like him to check me over as he has done these past years. We have a brilliant young Doctor here onboard in Jason Wolfe but I have the chance to see my Doc so……….why not.

Heidi will remain onboard and in charge for the one evening. Also, her Mum will join the vessel in Amsterdam to sail with us the following cruise. Since Heidi’s Dad passed away I try and make sure that they spend as much time together as they can so it will be nice for Mum and daughter to sail together and for Mum to see what a wonderful job Heidi does here onboard.

So, the only drawback to all of this is that I have to fly which as frequent readers of the blog will know is something I hate to do. I was mentioning this to my mate Alan today who told me that since his miraculous recovery he has decided to “do more.” and henceforth he is going to learn to fly.

While I think it’s a great thing for Alan to do and I am sure the women of the UK prefer him to be as far away from them as possible………It is something I could never do. The pictures of the tragic air disaster in Madrid, Spain are thank goodness very rare and my heart aches for the loss of so many.

Usually, when you hear of a plane crash it is usually associated with a private aircraft flown by someone who has just received their pilot’s license flying a plane the size of a Mini Cooper.

Strangely, however, it’s not a fear of dying that puts me off the idea of private aviation. It’s the surefire knowledge that nothing in the world is likely to be quite so boring and pointless………except maybe golf.

The idea of piloting your own helicopter or light aircraft, among the clouds and the linnets, far above the jams and the pressure, is an appealing prospect for anyone who doesn’t know what to do with his money.

Better still, you might imagine that you could enliven your journey by swooping underneath low bridges, dive-bombing fields of cattle, looping the loop over friends’ houses and landing for the hell of it in beauty spots and bird sanctuaries.

This may be possible in Australia’s outback or Kenya’s majestic plains. But unfortunately, if you tried that at home, skimming my mate Alan’s house, for instance, a man with a beard and a clipboard would come round and take your license away.

When you want a driving license, all you have to do is demonstrate to a man in beige trousers that you can parallel park. But when you want a license to fly, you must demonstrate to the entire Federal Aviation Authority that you are prepared to spend several months with your nose in various text books on meteorology and aerodynamics.

Then you have to spend more months learning how to use a radio. Why? I know already. You just press various buttons until someone comes over the speaker. Then you tell him what you want.

Oh no you don’t. You have to talk in a stupid code, saying “over” when you’ve finished speaking for the moment and “out” when you’ve finished altogether. Why? When I ring the plumber or the local Indian restaurant, I am able to convey the nature of my request perfectly well using English. So why when I’m in a plane do I have to talk a load of bollocks? Then you have to talk in that Pathetic Alphabet thingy. I can remember Alpha, and Charlie but I have no idea what the other letters are……..D is Donald………and I think B is bugger.

“Hello, it’s John. Is it all right to land?” is a much easier way of saying, “Cleveland Tower, this is Alpha Donald Bugger on 7654.190 requesting a westerly approach to runway 21.”

But private pilots love all this sort of stuff. They love doing preflight checks, tapping dials and making sure that their fuel hasn’t frozen and that their flaps are loose.

They never think: “I bought this plane to make my life more convenient but in the time I’ve spent checking it, I could have driven to Chicago.” And nor do they ever think: “If these checks are so foolproof, how come that in the western United States, more small planes fall out of the sky than rain drops.”

No really. Google just told me that in North America, more than one person a day is killed in private plane crashes. Light aircraft are as Google told me called “doctor killers.”

And you know what. Hardly anyone with a plane ever uses it to go somewhere useful. Instead, they take the plane from their flying club headquarters to another flying club headquarters where they have a toasted cheese sandwich, put on their brown leather jacket with the white fur collar and then they fly home again.

And while they’re flying around, spoiling the peace and quiet for everyone on the ground, they are having absolutely no fun whatsoever. This is because they are at 3,000 feet, where 100mph feels like you’re standing still.

So, the recipe for flying then. You drive to an airfield, check your plane for two hours, take off, sit still, speak gibberish into a radio, land, eat cheese and then sit still again till you’re home again. Repeat until one day you hear a loud bang.

Well, just before I go I have to tell you I just watched the closing ceremony of the Olympics…………wow……….it was spectacular full of emotion, incredible sets, a cast of 15,000 and surely a worthy end to what has been an Olympics to remember……………….right up to the bit about London.

Just in case the viewers had any doubts we were in the London section they prefabricated rain with a bunch of dancers swanning around holding umbrellas………..oh spiffing………that’s what we want the world to think of for 2012, watching the games in the pouring rain.

Then, one hoped for a fleet of Rolls Royce’s to appear carrying the Queen and the Royal Family surrounded by The Blues and Royals resplendent on their mighty white steeds their silver armor gleaming under the spotlights. Behind this we expected to see the British greats of screen and stage………perhaps Dame Judy Dench, Sean Connery, Sir Michael Caine, Dame Helen Mirren, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sir Paul McCartney………..did we get this ………. ummm ……

We got a London Bus decorated with some green felt on which stood Leona Lewis……………who…………..well, exactly. She won the UK Idol thingy last year and made Simon Bowell even more money. So, no Dame Shirley Bassey, no Rod Stewart, no Sir Elton John…………we got someone on a bus singing a song nobody new sung by someone who made 80,000 people in the stadium and billions around the world go “who”…….all at the same time…… wonder the Chinese Prime Minister looked startled when 80,000 people said his name all at once.

Next to Leona Whois was Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin………whose strange and bizarre facial expressions can only have come from the fact that he had just smoked some Tiger Penis before coming out.

Finally, off the bus stepped David Beckham who had no idea what the big red thing he was traveling on was

“What’s that Victoria “….”
“Oh, Dave, that’s a bus, it’s what poor people use”

The UK has 4 years to prepare something to rival Beijing ………………. oh bugger.

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.