Hedges, Guns and My Mate Tim

August 26, 2008 -

News From Steph

I had two choices………….have my haircut or spend the entire day in the doghouse …….so, that was me off to the Cloud 9 Spa………..and if I am really honest, not before time.

It’s been 5 months since I paid a fortune to someone to sit and cut my hair and yesterday Heidi said I looked like some character from the Back To The Future Movies……….can’t remember the name but he was apparently mad and had hair that looked like he had just stuck his finger in an electrical socket while at the same time looking at photos of Judge Judy naked.

So, at 10 am there I was, sitting in a chair with Batman’s cape around me and a car mat on my shoulders while a 12 year old girl called Katie cut my hair……with scissors that she told me cost $600………….bloody hell, I could have got her a pair from the storeroom for $9.99. Anyway, Katie was lovely and I am sure she is brilliant hairdresser, however she was not the brightest bulb on the tree and for some reason she seemed to enjoy pointing out the bloody obvious.

“Oh, your hair is grey”
“Oh, your hair looks like it hasn’t been cut for a long time”
“Oh, you’re the Cruise Director”

I just sighed, closed my eyes and let Paris Hilton snip away.

When I opened my eyes I noticed I had been joined by a thirty something guest who it appeared was not here for a haircut, but to have his hands manicured. He talked at some length about his how his kids loved Camp Carnival. He then told me that after his hand manicure he was going to have a professional shave, another luxury offered by our Cloud 9 Spa staff. He then told me that he has this done three times a week at home in New York.

How un-busy do you have to be to think “It’s four in the afternoon on a Thursday, so I know: I’ll pop to the hairdresser’s and spend an hour or so having exotic creams rubbed into my thumbs and then because I can’t figure out how to use the can of shaving cream and the Bic I will pay $200 for someone called Guido to do it for me?”

“What do you do for a living? I asked the man with soft hands……………..“I’m a Hedge Fund Manager,” he replied…………..suddenly, everything became clear.

The first time I had ever heard of Hedge Fund Managers was a few years ago when a friend of mine and I went for a vacation to the private Caribbean island of Mustique …….. I will never forget what Spencer told me.

Some of the 90 or so houses that sit like big wedding cakes on the newly mown hillsides belong to high-profile stars such as Mick Jagger, Madonna and Sting — the second of only two policemen on the island. ………………But the vast majority belong, he said, belonged to hedge fund managers.

Having done a little reading in my time I have learned quiet a bit about these green fingered gardeners of money and my new best friend who was now having some poor girl rub the skin off the bottom of his feet…………. fit right into the mold.

Now I can describe these people to you very easily. They are all quite young, and they all appear to be super-fit. None smokes. Few drink. All have swept-back hair and dazzling teeth.

They are also lip-slobberingly rich. There are estimated to be 9,000 funds worldwide which, between them, have assets of $1.5 billion. So they’re not really hedges at all. They’re bloody great oak trees. And that’s great, but before we get too excited, we must first of all try to work out what a hedge fund is.

Well, I decided to ask the man with the filleted feet and the diamond and platinum Rolex what a Hedge Fund is………….this is what I have discovered.

You rent shares from someone who has a lot of them and then you sell what you’ve rented.” Now this, so far as I can tell, is actually called “theft.” Small wonder they’ve all got houses on Mustique. They’re all in hiding from the Fraud Squad.

I would have liked to have asked him more and maybe see if he was interested in planting one of his hedges with me but he was too busy telling me how funny the Morning Show was and how his 9 year old called Heath loved my joke about Tiger’s head being in the toilet because he was looking for poo……………………….bugger.

So, good morning from Tallinn, Estonia where it is as cold as it has been all season …………57 degrees but with a wind that put the word Baltic into the Baltic. Still, it didn’t stop the guests having a great time ashore and unfortunately we have two who enjoyed it so much they are still there now.

For the first time in along time we have a couple who missed the ship. They arrived at the pier at 4:30pm…………we sailed at 4 pm. We waited as long as we could but as always a tight schedule follows us to Amsterdam so we had to go. Our agent met them and will now organize a hotel and transportation to Amsterdam………….that’s quite an expense for this couple from British Colombia who missed the ship simply because they didn’t leave enough time to get back to the ship. They will now miss 2 days at sea …………..I feel bad for them……………..I cannot imagine how it must feel to come back to an empty dock.

One of our tours in Tallinn is specifically designed for families. The tour centers on a 13th century castle where kids can play with the armor, handle the swords and worryingly fire the cannons and muskets. It’s been very popular this season……………here are a few photos of the castle at Rakvere as visited by our production vocalist Lawrence.

Now, time for a comment.

Guest: Mr ————Ref: 002803396A
Cabin: ____ Booking#: _____ Added-Changed: 08/25/08 – 08/25/08

_____- SECURITY TOOK GUESTS PURCHASE AT GANGWAY

Mr. ————- approached the Purser’s office in a very angry way. Guest stated that the security guard had taken a World WarII German pistol and a knife from him at the gangway. Guest said that the security had not given them a receipt for it and was also angry that there had been nothing in writing that these items were not allowed on the ship. Guest said that the gun does not work anymore and that he was in the army and knows about weapons. Purser asked the guest the value of the items. Mr———– said the gun was worth $1,400 and the knife $500. Purser contacted Security who confirmed the items were locked away and would be returned to the guest during debarkation. Purser sent an apology letter to the cabin and confirmation that the ship had his items. Guest has been asked to collect them from security during the debarkation in Dover.

Now, let’s address two issues where we are at fault. Firstly, if we are going to confiscate items at the gangway of course we have to give an itemized receipt although in security’s defense, this is not something that I think they will have come across to often ………… someone bringing a gun and a knife onboard.

Then there is the subject of telling the guests. Well, it is something that I should add to the Capers, especially in Tallinn. Estonia has had an unfortunate history with occupation by the Nazis in WWII and of course being locked into the Communist regime. Therefore, there are antique shops everywhere selling WWII and Soviet memorabilia and it makes sense that I should put something in the Capers about any weapon, etc will be confiscated on the gangway. I have to say though, I do think it a little strange that in the world of heightened security we are all forced to endure that this guest is surprised that we took a gun and a knife from him.

Now, as for the value……….Well, is a gun and a knife worth that?………………..welcome to the weird and wonderful world of antiques.

I am sure that my British blog friends will have seen The Antiques Road show which I know is repeated on PBS stations in America and Canada, plus I think I am right in saying that both countries have their own versions and these programs have made the search for antiques a very popular affair.

I do not know why the world developed a fondness for buying antiques. Perhaps it was the day, at some point in 1922, when people began to think of the past as a better place than the present. Or maybe it’s because we think an Elizabethan Dining Table will hold its value well whereas something that came flat-packed in Cellophane from IKEA will be worthless from the moment you take it out of the box.

Especially if you choose to make it yourself. Because it will be all covered in your own spittle as you foam at the mouth trying to find out why you have three screws left over. Giving your children a beautiful Victorian Vase means something. Giving them a 30-piece cutlery set from Sears will just make them angry.

Now, shopping for antiques is something that Heidi gets very excited about and once or twice she has dragged me along to the antiques fair in Battlesbridge Essex.

I hate it and not just because antique shops always smell like my old woodwork teacher Mr. Barton – Hansen. When you go into an antiques shop, the charming man with the lovely white hair, and the tweed jacket is someone who knows antiques…they are his life.

Then why is it no matter how wise the shop owner looks, you think he’s going to make a mistake and accidentally sell you the chair George Washington was sitting on at the theatre for $89.

You only have to watch the Antiques Road show to know I’m right. All those ladies with their knee-high stockings and their house in the Hamptons imagine their Ming Vase was made by the Emperor Ming himself. But the expert, backed by a team of researchers, the internet and the Smithsonian invariably finds some tiny little detail that proves it was actually made by an unemployed man called Sum Tin Wong who – in 1954. And is therefore worth only $1.99.

Oh they all try to look pleased with the valuation. But they’re not. Inside, every single one of them wants to smash the Vase over the bearded expert’s head.

Anyway, I hope the gun and the knife is worth the $2,000 the guest spent ……..which by the way is probably the amount in fines he will have to pay if he tries to take it through security at the airport.

We are going to take a break today from the Cruise Director interviews and instead introduce Tim Cabral to you.

Tim and I worked together on ships for many years and now he works in the Miami office. We are great friends and ……….well rather than me waffle on ….have a read of this.

1. Tim, can you tell us about your career so far with Carnival Cruise Lines.

Sure, my career began as the DJ on the “Fun Ship” Holiday in 1990. I joined right out of college, where I studied Radio Broadcasting. In 1992 I was promoted to Entertainment Technician, 1994 Technical Supervisor, 2000 Technical Manager, then in 2004 I was promoted to a new position in the Entertainment Department, Manager of Special Projects! John, to be honest, I’ve got one of the most amazing jobs at Carnival!

2. Before we talk about your current position what are your memories onboard as on DJ and Technician.

The most exciting times were the Fantastic Deck Parties we hosted together! It was great to see all the ships entertainment staff out on Deck, doing what we love, entertaining our guests!

3. Now, for the present. Let’s start with the part of your job that involves providing the ships with some of the iconic features we currently have. What can you tell us about what’s already in place.

We’ve added Mini-Golf to all our ships, including your amazing “Pirate” course on the Carnival Splendor. Mini-Golf has been such a huge success across the Fleet for us! We’ve also partnered with M&M’s to bring our Guests great Family Halloween cruises throughout October called “Frightfully Fun.” I’ve recently been invited to join some very talented people at Carnival, assisting with design and themeing of the next generation of the incredible WaterWorks experience!

4. Obviously with the competition looking over our shoulders you can’t be too specific but what’s the future got in store.

For the Competition’s eyes I can tell you were adding “Stamp Collecting”, “Cattle Ranching”, “Rowing Classes”, “Watermelon Bowling”, and the very popular “Paper Plane competition” as well as many more fictional events…! Kidding of course, we’re placing a large range of new Activities for 2009, adding hours of “Fun” for our guests of all ages.

5. Given on blank piece of paper and an unlimited budget what do you dream of one day placing on our Fun Ships?

Sorry, those are locked away, in my desk, for future presentations….!

6. Now to your other job, your involvement with large entertainment groups and charters. What is your role?

My role is in the Pre-Production, and Planning of all our Musical Themed Charters. We work closely with the Producers, and Artists to make their cruise an incredible music experience. We’re looking into the future, and being able to provide these events with Full Production, giving us the ability to accommodate more and more charters! They are such a great experience for both the first time cruiser, and the Professional cruiser!

7. Can you tell us about some of the groups and singing stars you have worked with?

Sure, I’ve had the AMAZING opportunity to work with Tim McGraw, Journey, REO Speedwagon, STYX, Lynyrd Skynyrd, John Mayer, Donald Trump, Regis Philbin, Kathie Lee Gifford, Barenaked Ladies, 38 Special, Kenny Day, Boyz II Men, Isaac Hayes, Neil McCoy, Suzanne Somers, Trace Adkins, Brad Paisley, Deborah Gibson, Richard Simmons, Terri Clark, Peter Noon & and Herman’s Hermits, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Pam Tillis, Chubby Checker, Corey Schmidt, Sister Hazel, Collective Soul, Lyle Lovette, Patty Smith, Nelson, JoDee Messina, Bill Engvall, United We Funk, Jane Seymour, Roy Clark, Charley Pride, Marshal Tucker Band, and many many more!

8. What about the future, whose sailing with us in the months ahead?

Brian McKnight will be on the Liberty this Month! We’re also happy to have back Lynyrd Skynyrd, John Mayer, plus all the amazing talent sailing with us on our Christian Charters, and we’ve just starting working with Rick Springfield. There are many more artists who are in the planning stages of some incredible Music Cruises….!

9. Without naming names too much have any of these “stars” been demanding…….do you have any stories to tell.

One of my most memorable experiences to share is the night I met Kevin Cronin, lead singer of REO Speedwagon! After their show on the Triumph in 2004, he thanked me for such a great job, and invited me to join him for a drink, it was unbelievable! Best beer I’ve ever had! Then on the Victory, we were invited to join John Mayer, and his band to watch Super bowl 08′ great time, and great conversation!

10. Here’s that blank piece of paper again. Is there one show, or one group or one production of any kind that you think would be brilliant to host on one of our ships?

John, there are a few artists I would love to have onboard! Garth Brooks, Boston, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, and the “Holy Grail” of concert cruising, Mr. Jimmy Buffet himself! I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them all in concert, and they’ve all produced amazing shows! I would love to get together with them, and create that experience onboard!

11. Family Life?

Thanks to you, and Heidi, talking me up all those years to Shelley, we’re now married with two amazing children. We enjoy traveling, cruising and most of all camping!

Here are a few of the stars Tim mentioned.

Well, a great interview and a very funny one as well…….love the Watermelon Bowling. Tim will be at the center of a lot of the new fun designs you see onboard and has Carnival blood racing through his veins. Talking of racing, Tim and I have some great ideas linked with NASCAR and ….well, if I told you the rest I would have to borrow the German antique pistol and shoot you all………….although I would need 200,000 bullets…….that’s what our readership is now ….. 200,000 approx readers per month.

I am going to ask Tim to keep us in the loop as our “music cruises” are planned……..maybe some of you will be onboard to experience it for yourself………….who would be your dream team………..a Carnival cruise and who, providing the music?…………….it would be very interesting to hear who you would love to see onboard.

Thanks again to Tim and to all of you for reading.

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.