Fred, Beckham, Jenni and Lots of Bad Language

August 25, 2008 -

John Heald

I have to start today’s blog with an apology. I was told by someone from the blog who will remain nameless that I had been unusually cruel to David Beckham. Yesterday in my blog about the “London” section I made reference to the London Bus and it being the first time Mr. Beckham had ever been on board one. Well, this upset a blogger who sent me a comment saying she was a big Beckham fan and I should apologize………….so, to blogger Francis R………….I am sorry……………there will be no more David Beckham jokes.

Talking of the Olympics, we’re told that a recession is coming. Apparently, it’s got something to do with the Chinese, who have, in a complex way, affected America’s sub-prime. Inflation world wide will spiral out of control, millions will find themselves bankrupt and thousands of us will be eaten by rats………….pundits are calling it “The Credit Crunch”……which by the way David Beckham thinks is a breakfast cereal……………….oops.

There was of course no reason for me to mention that except to get in another cheap shot at David Beckham….sorry.

Good morning from our second day in St.Petersburg………….how are you? I hope you had a good weekend and the weather is a bit better than the grey, damp and cold day we have been blessed with.

Heidi said something today that made me think. She said, “It seems like this year the summer has passed us by.” Well, we did leave home in the spring which, this year in Europe, was still the winter and although it hasn’t exactly been Baltic in the ummmm Baltic it certainly hasn’t been the sunshine and 80 degree plus temperatures we enjoy there. I guess that’s why I still have this bloody cold. It has been with me for a month now and I still have a thick head and scratchy throat. …………..maybe it’s the flu said Heidi.

Flu, I’ve always thought, is an invention designed specifically as an excuse for not going to work. “I’m not coming to work today because I have a cold,” sounds a bit girley. Saying, “I can’t come to work because I have flu,” sounds more manly and butch.

That was ok ten years or so ago but nowadays things are a bit different. If you have flu, the American Navy will come round to your house, inject you with plasma and take samples of your liver to their biochemical warfare centre in Atlanta.

And when they’ve gone away, men in nuclear spillage boiler suits from the Pentagon will want to know if you’ve had any contact with Indonesian chickens or Vietnamese swans. And then, when they’ve gone away, you will die. Flu is nasty and claiming you have it when all you have is a cold makes you look ridiculous.

Mine, of course, is the worst recorded cold in the whole of human history and I am defying medical science by being here, at my computer, writing this blog. Technically I should be in a hospital isolation room, with armed guards in breathing apparatus outside my door while I am examined by Dustin Hoffman.

And as I sit here, with a headache and a tickly cough, I can’t help wondering why there is still no cure. And whether or not we might be on the brink of creating one . . .

For hundreds of years people thought the cold was caused by being cold. “You’ll catch your death out there,” my Mum used to say every time it dropped below 70 degrees……………it was said though in the same vain as when she used to say, “If you fall out of that tree and break both your legs, don’t you come running to me.”

It was in the 1920s that we understood the cold to be a viral infection, a nasty little bugger that invades your body, multiplies and then causes you to sneeze so that millions of its brothers can shoot up the noses and through the eyes of everyone within 5ft.

Since then, we’ve been to the moon, invented the Eye Pod, created the Queen Mary 2 and microwave popcorn. But still no one knows how to keep the cold virus at bay.

The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an immensely well funded organization. It’s here that they work on ebola and proper flu and all the really nasty viruses that could wipe out the civilized world and France if they ever got on an airplane. And do you know what advice they have for those who don’t want to catch a cold? Wash your hands with alcohol.

I’m beginning to wonder if the sort of scientists who might have been engaged in defeating the cold are now being swallowed up by the exciting and glamorous green movement; that the very man who might have developed a cure for the cold is, as we speak, sitting on an iceberg off the coast of Alaska watching bloody polar bears.

It has not been in human kind’s nature to just give up on something, but we really do seem to have given up when it comes to the cold.

There is, however, some hope because research by men with beards has shown that most people only catch a cold in the winter. So what we need to do is get rid of winter, which, thanks to global warming, does seem to be happening.

If, therefore, we can push the winter so far back that by the time it comes along we’re already into summer, all should be well. To cure the common cold we simply need to get rid of its breeding season. This means producing as much carbon dioxide as possible. Yup. The cure for the common cold may well turn out to be my Range Rover.

As I have mentioned before, the most dangerous concern about working on a ship is fire and one way fire could happen if we are not careful ……….is through the use of pyrotechnics.

I don’t know if you remember an incident in a club in Rhode Island a few years ago where 98 people were killed at a rock concert. Well, the fire was caused by unsafe pyrotechnics and also the fact that an emergency exit was locked.

This showed how dangerous these can be, especially on a ship. This is why so many safety features have been put into place fleet wide and why so much training is given to the crew who handle them.

This includes, storage, disposal and other safe practices and every Entertainment Technician and myself have to pass an examination before we are allowed to handle them. This whole process has put Carnival in the forefront of safe pyro use and our thanks to the brilliant Erik Hatfield, our Manager of Entertainment Technology, for making our shows not only the best at sea but the safest at sea as well.

Still, we also need to be ready should a fire break out in the main theatre. These lounges on Conquest, Destiny and Splendor class ships can hold 1500 plus and we need to practice the safe and quick evacuation of the lounge should a fire or other emergency happen. And, that’s what we practiced for today. We had the crew play the role of the guests, we filled the room with smoke and evacuated the lounge as we would during a show scenario.

Here are a few photos:

It gives me great confidence to know that our staff are trained to handle a situation such as a pyrotechnic fire……..let’s hope though they never have to put that training into practice.

Here are some more pleasant photos of the Nevda White Nights River Cruise taken by the lovely Lauren:

Let’s have a look at a few letters for the In Their Own Words Section

And now it’s time to meet Miss Jennifer Baxter who is a vibrant young lass from Liverpool. She is what we call an acting Cruise Director. This is someone who is not yet a full time CD although the guests of course do not know this. That certainly applies to Jenn who I understand is just full of energy and life. I think hers is a name to watch! Here she is:

1. Can you tell us which ship you currently are on and when you are due to leave?
Conquest (leaving on September 21)

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 joined a Youth Theatre in Liverpool England when I was 12 and went on to study theatre in College and then went on to do touring theatre in the UK. I then worked in Spain as an Entertainer in hotels and resorts before joining Carnival in 2001

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.

Finding out all the ships gossip (maybe that’s just me!) As I am in charge of the entire Entertainment Department I have over 60 staff members to keep an eye on…..I work very closely with the Dance Captain, Musical Director, Assistant Cruise Director and Senior Entertainment Technicians to make sure all of the shows and live entertainment run smoothly. I also have to schedule all of the events and activities that go on around the ship. I am also the “caper person” which means I write and update all of the capers for the cruise, so I am in contact with ALL of the other departments to make sure that the capers are all present and correct.

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,

OOOOOOh, I’m going to have the say the ‘Fun Hop’ where we take all the guests on a fun interactive tour of the ship before heading up to the deck party. It’s a great chance to op out some of the old cheesy dances from my youth, I have a great song called the ‘music man’ which the guests love…..I feel like I’ve done a work out with Richard Simmons afterwards! My other favorite event is the R rated marriage show, which is fun as it gets kinds spicy!!!

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

When I was taking over on the Legend last year (2007) the day I got on board, we have to change itinerary due to a hurricane. We had to go to four completely different ports that I had never been to. The following 2 weeks we also had to change our run and we went to different ports each week. Stressful but really fun at the same time

6. And, your most rewarding.

Honestly, there is not just one specific thing I can pinpoint. I just think being around fun people and really having a good time. I have met some really good friends who I would never have met had I not been working on a ship.

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.

Our itinerary at the moment is: Galveston (homeport…which is lovely) Montego Bay Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.
Montego Bay ~ The Canopy tour….even though I am not a “thrill seeker”, this tour is superb, you’re swinging tree to tree like Tarzan. The final zip is 1000 long!!!
Grand Cayman ~ Stingrays, without a doubt is the best thing to do in Grand Cayman
Cozumel ~ The Mayan Ruins of Tulum….need I say more! Amazing

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

In two words Fun and friendliness. Carnival has always been the best in the industry for these two factors. The energy I feel is felt on every ship from the very oldest and smallest to the newest and biggest.

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.

Definitely, I would love to be CD on the Carnival Spirit sailing out of Alaska. I really like the cold weather (I know, but I am English) to see the wildlife up there would be amazing, and I’m sure the seafood is out of this world.

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.

Well that’s a very difficult one as there are lots of things that stick in my mind. One of my most memorable times was when we had the original munchkins from the Wizard of Oz sail on the Ecstasy……they look exactly the same, just older!!! A lot older!

11. 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.

APPETIZER Chinese Dumplings with sweet chili sauce

MAIN COURSE Chinese Dumplings with sweet chili sauce

DESERT Chinese Dumplings with sweet chili sauce

SOMEONE FROM THE CRUISE INDUSTRY
I’d definitely take Chris Roberts (cruise Director on the Spirit), Dave Fulton (Musical Director on the Legend), Darcy Kniefel (cruise Director on the Destiny) and Brett Alans (retired Cruise Director) (can I have 4?) Thanks?

SOMEONE TO MAKE YOU LAUGH OUT LOUD
Chicken Little, one of my social hosts here on the Conquest (yes, he looks like the cartoon character) he’s hilarious ALL the time.

YOUR FAVORITE ACTRESS Dame Judi Dench (she is amazing)

YOUR FAVORITE ACTOR Larry David from Curb your Enthusiasm

YOUR FAVORITE MUSICIAN My brother, he’s a drummer

AND SOMEONE FROM HISTORY YOU WISHED YOU HAD MET.
Henry X111 would have been interesting to meet?

I was sworn at by a lady today…….a lady. Razvan, the Shore Excursion Manager, Lui, the Chief Purser, and I met with two ladies this evening who insisted on talking with me and the Shore Excursion Manager, and Lui came along for support. The ladies were very unhappy because they got separated from their group during the Hermitage Tour yesterday. The guide waited for them for 45 minutes after the meeting time but in the end had to leave without them. The ladies came back on another Carnival bus. Now, this made them very angry, which I understand…….even though they admit that the museum was very busy.

They also expected the guide to come back into the Hermitage and look for them…………obviously with 5,000 people touring 7 floors of artifacts that was never going to happen. Now, I should explain that we all intended to wrap them in a big blanket of pity and apologize etc etc. It’s hard to do that though when the first words from her mouth were “I don’t want to talk, I want a fu$%^&* refund and I want it now.”………we all fainted.

This was a lady in her thirties, well dressed and presentable and…………I am embarrassed to tell you……….from England.

Now, before I continue with this story I want to chat with you about something.

Why was I so shocked to hear this lady swear?

Time moves on, habits change and as a result what would once have shocked the world to its core is now considered normal. And yet, while you’re happy to watch a movie with someone in a ski mask slashing teenagers with a axe, you would be astonished and amazed if Condalisa Rice were to make a speech this afternoon in which she described Bill Clinton as a stupid “f*** ”.

Why? People use the f-word all the time, even young kids. Buzz Aldrin used it on the moon and thanks to reality TV we know members of the Royal Family use it. However, we can’t know for sure who uses it because in the mainstream press you can’t print it……………….and I can’t on the blog either.

Anyway, we asked the lady to calm down and refrain from swearing. Obviously, we refunded the part of the tour she missed but she also wanted a full refund for the Hermitage even though she admitted that they had seen the whole museum as promised. We explained that we could not do this and she erupted again with more profanity………and that was that…………meeting over. I explained that we would not accept personal abuse and that we should all calm down and meet again tomorrow………………..something to look forward to.

My father has always told me that those who swear are simply demonstrating they have a limited vocabulary…….I know I swear top much…..especially when I stub my toe or see Gordon Brown the British Prime Minister. So, why was it then that I was so shocked to hear a lady of 30-something swear so profusely today?

Guest: Mrs ————Ref: 002803374A
Cabin: XXXX Booking#: XXXXXX Added-Changed: 08/24/08 – 08/24/08

UPSET AT STRAY DOGS ON PIER

Mrs CAME TO THE DESK WANTING TO SPEAK TO SOMEONE IN CHARGE. SHE WAS CRYING SO PURSER TOOK HER INTO THE LOBBY. GUEST SAID THAT SHE HAD SEEN A RUSSIAN MAN KICK A DOG TODAY OUTSIDE PETER AND PAUL FORTRESS . SHE HAD TRIED TO GET THE TOUR GUIDE TO CALL THE POLICE BUT HE REFUSED. GUEST SAID THAT IT HAD RUINED HER DAY AND THAT THE DOG WAS CRYING AND LIMPING.
GUEST SAID THAT SHE WANTED THE CRUISE DIRECTOR TO HAVE MENTIONED THAT THE PASSENGERS MAY SEE THINGS LIKE THIS AND SHE WANTED TO REPORT THE GUIDE ION BLUE 7 FOR NOT BEING HELPFUL AND FOR CRUELTY TO ANIMALS. PURSER APOLOGIZED AND SAID HER COMMENTS WOULD BE PASSED TO THE SHORE EXCURSION MANAGER AND THE CRUISE DIRECTOR.
APOLOGY LETTER SENT.

I called the guest and apologized. Goodness me she was really upset. I listened and she is now OK. I feel so bad for her having to have seen this. ………..I explained that cruelty to animals is unfortunately something that happens everyday in every country of the world and we spoke about the root cause of her sadness………she lost her dog a few weeks ago and misses him terribly. I bought her a little stuffed dog thingy from the gift shop and sent it to her cabin.

And finally today, I have an update on Fred and Ginger. I called their cabin this evening before dinner to make sure their second day in St.Petersburg was OK…………..20 minutes later after listening to a report on the fountains at Peterhof and that seven out of the 150 were not working…………yes he counted them…………he asked me to sit with him one more time to discuss Amsterdam and London. Now, before I end today here is one of those I promise and swear etc moments…………you can’t make this up.

I was talking with him about his retirement and I asked what he did before …………well, his version was 5 minutes long as he explained his job in detail………..but I have no idea what he said………….I was too busy laughing out loud holding my sides and at one point I had to pass the phone to Heidi and go into the bedroom………………..because he was……………….in the little town of Cokeburg PA…………………the town’s…………….Funeral Director.

Fred had caused me to lose hours of work time, given me great laughs and now …………he had cost me a good pair of underwear.

Goodnight
Your friends
John, Heidi and Fred

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.