Home From Home……And My Mate Dunno

August 30, 2008 -

John Heald

I was born with a body that renders me quite incapable of doing anything very well.

I’m rubbish at everything. Tennis? I’m so spectacularly bad, I can only just beat my nephew Luke and he’s 7.

DIY and home improvement? For me this is simply impossible. Even if I attempt something simple, such as hanging a picture, I end up in the ER, the painting ends up ruined and the wall ends up in the garden.

It was the same when I played golf for the first time – I knew there would never be a second. There would be no point. Even if I played every day for 3,000 years, the ball would still never travel more than six inches.

So, this morning when I thought I would have a go on our home-training cross-walking treadmill of terror thingy. It was of course a disaster. I knew I had to do this because of the half a cow and 27 Yorkshire puddings that had me all bound up and I knew I had to unbound myself before driving back to the ship.

So, that was me this morning on the torture thingy. Now, you may have read a blog of six months ago when I was home where I nearly killed myself the last time I used this thing. Well, this time I couldn’t even turn the thing on……..I plugged it in………..and nothing ….. bugger all happened…….not a bleep, not a murmur ……the track conveyor moved less than Ginger.

I stabbed at the buttons like a man possessed but to no avail………….and after 15 minutes I gave up.

I knew that this would happen. I told Heidi we should get a basic treadmill and not one of these flash multi-purpose things advertised by Chuck Segal or Steven Norris………..but ohh no…..we had paid double the price for something that would flummox Sir Isaac Newton. ……oh and talking of him…..why was he mincing around in an orchard wondering why fruit doesn’t float around once it departs the tree……..bet he had a beard!

Anyway, I digress. ………….so we had to get the best and when you come to use it…..when you actually come to use it the thing either tries to kill you like last time or doesn’t work at all like today.
It proves that the most expensive is not always the best as my friend Carl Buck will testify.

Remember him?…..He is the chap I referred to a few blogs ago as my fishing partner all those years ago. Carl’s dad had lots of money so he always got the best including a special carbon fishing rod. It certainly made him look like a serious fisherman. But one day, he snagged it on an overhead power line. I visited him in hospital afterwards, and looked at his charred face and melted feet and sympathetically said “Bet you wish you’d stuck with a bamboo cane and a piece of string……like me.”

So, I locked up our house quite sad that I would not see it or my Mum and Dad for three months and
started the drive to Dover. I always listen to my 1980’s rock CDs in the car but as this was a rental and I was lucky that it had four wheels and a roof I had to listen to classic FM. I like classical music and it was quite appropriate as it was while I was listening to the third movement from the Rachmaninov Piano Concerto Number 2 that I had a movement of my own!

I shall not bother with any other details of my two-hour drive from Essex to Dover because you would be bored. I will say this though. If you need to get from A to B in a hurry and you have been given a V.W. Passat 1.9 Diesel from Hertz Rent a Car……….may I suggest you try jogging.

We are talking about one very slow car here with a 0 – 60 time of …well……….I think I reached 60 mph by the time I arrived. I understand the car was not built with speed in mind but why build a car that is incapable of independent movement. This, though, is the perfect car for families…………that’s because the engine is so obnoxiously loud Mum’s and Dad’s will not be hear the crying and screaming and the universal and constant shout of “Are we there yet?”……It’s so noisy Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osborne could hold a concert in the back seat and you wouldn’t even know they were there.

However, here I am, back onboard and contrary to Heidi’s deep concerns the ship has not burnt to the ground or has any other disaster happened because I was not there………..all though I was very proud of her. She did tell me that there were many comments asking how I was, etc., from the guests. I told them that I was taking a night off for my annual medical and obviously this led to guests thing that I had everything from the Ebola plague to completing my sex change operation………..their concern though was very welcome and quite humbling.

Heidi told me that for the first time in ages the decks were packed with people watching the ship enter the locks of Amsterdam. This was because for the first time in ages it was sunny and warm. The guests’ mood therefore was happy and content mixed with the sadness of leaving today. I am anxious to see the comment card results as the many, many wonderful comments from guests and the 117 (yes, I counted) letters I received this cruise had nothing but praise and admiration for the crew and the ports of call.

One man who was not happy though was my friend who had bought out the Estonian army and had his pistol and dagger confiscated. Well, these were returned to him this morning as he walked off the gangway. No doubt he was somewhat dismayed because we wouldn’t allow him to “Rambo Up” before going to play bingo and thus he would not be giving Carnival his custom again.

Heidi tried to explain again the reasons why and just when you thought this story couldn’t get any more bizarre he insisted that he check them out before he left. So, he sat down in the lobby and inspected both his purchases because “They are gifts for my son.” Now, if he had said that to anyone else but Heidi that would have been the end of it but Heidi being Heidi she put her Miss Marpel hat on and asked how old his son was ………. answer ………….14…………14 years old.

Dad said that he was at a military school somewhere in the states and he already had a collection of military antiques and memorabilia.

14 years old…………..lucky sod.

I was never allowed to play with guns when I was a child……….my Mum refused to have toy pistols or G.I. Joe machine guns in the house. Oh yes, my mate Timmy Lawrence and I played “war” in Belfairs woods and while he was armed with the latest Heckler and Koch toy gun with realistic sounds and flashing light at the end of the muzzle………I was armed…………with a twig. And convincing Timmy he was dead because I had pointed a piece of oak at him was just stupid.

Today, this ban still exists and in the UK it is virtually impossible to get a legal gun license. Which is probably a good thing today as if I did have one I would probably shoot the little sod who carved obscenities into two of the cigar bar leather chairs on board.

Last night I guess he or she took a sharp object and carved a man’s thingy and other rude stuff into the $500 chairs………………..maybe I should have let the chap have the dagger and the pistol after all and asked him to patrol the cigar bar.

Seriously though, I couldn’t believe that someone would do this. Our security officers patrol the ship all night long but it’s a big ship and if someone is intent on doing something like this ……..they will.

Anyway, we have removed the chairs and they are being sent for rehupolsaring…….reaphulastoring……..replasturing………they are going to have new leather put on them.

Here are some photos that will make you sad and probably a little angry.

Well, it’s 2 pm. The sun is shining down on our penultimate time in Dover. I can’t believe this will be the last of our Baltic cruises. For the blogs during the coming 12 days, I will be reminiscing on the ports of call and choosing my top three tours for each port. However, right here and right now I have to tell you that it has been a huge success and I know that next year when the Carnival Liberty comes calling that it will be even more so. We will know what to expect and we will be prepared. ………it’s going to be great.

I wanted though to share this e mail with you from our agent in Copenhagen, Denmark.


Hello again,

By the way. We have over the last couple of weeks been experiencing an increasing amount of cases where cruise guests have robbed their money and valuables. The thieves are organized groups from Rumania and are especially concentrated around the shops at Langelinie Kaj, The Little Mermaid, the tour busses and local bus 26.

Kindly advise your passengers to be aware and to bring only what’s necessary. Especially passports and drivers license should be kept on board – as ship pax card is sufficient ID here. Also multiple credit cards and large amounts of cash should not be brought ashore.

Almost all shops take both Visa and MasterCcard.

Should you how ever experience any thefts, please see attached report of theft that are to be filled out and send to either us by mail or faxed directly to the police authorities.

Best regards

MAERSK BROKER AGENCY, Copenhagen – as agents only

This has been the biggest shock of this particular itinerary. We had some concerns in Barcelona last year with guests being subjected to the master magicians that pick pockets are. However, for whatever reason, you just do not expect in Copenhagen but the facts speak for themselves. We have had 11 reports of theft since July…..1 in St. Petersburg and 10 in Copenhagen.

I have alerted the guests both in writing and just now in my welcome aboard travel talk. Europe’s borders are no more and while there are many positives with this there are negatives as well ……….this being one of them.

However, our chosen ports have more than exceeded guests expectations and I will be highlighting them later in the week.

Here though are some photos of our transit from Amsterdam yesterday taken by Jaime who makes sure she takes an excursion in every port……she’s fantastic.

Here are the final letters from last week including a simple card that means so much

This cruise we have 3,022 guests I guess school is back in North America and I think the UK schools start again next week. Hera are the kid counts.
over 21

under 21

15 to 17
12 to 14
9 to 11
6 to 8
2 to 5
Under 2


We have 600 British guests plus a large group of 500 Chinese Canadians………….I hope they are a little more ummmm……patient……..than similar groups we have had onboard.

It is, of course, only correct to mention once again that 80 plus people have lost their lives in the Caribbean due to hurricane Gustav. And now all eyes are on New Orleans and the area. We all hope and pray that it will be spared a direct hit and that the city’s defenses are capable to hold back the tide should the eye pass over the Big Easy …..tonight we also think of the people of Cuba who are taking the full force as I write.

Meanwhile, my colleagues are as we speak keeping guests informed with constant written and verbal information as to what is happening. Many vessels have had to change itineraries and as always you can stay in touch with any changes that may apply to your cruise by logging on to the following link thingy.


Here though is the latest

Updated: August 30, 2008 – 1:30 p.m.

CARNIVAL CONQUEST – 8/24/08 DEPARTURE (Seven-day cruise from
Revised Itinerary
8/24 – Galveston
8/25 – At Sea
8/26 – At Sea
8/27 – Grand Cayman (7 a.m. – 4 p.m.)
8/28 – Cozumel (10 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
8/29 – Progreso (9 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
8/30 – At Sea
8/31 – Galveston

Original Itinerary
8/24 – Galveston
8/25 – At Sea
8/26 – At Sea
8/27 – Montego Bay (8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.)
8/28 – Grand Cayman (7 a.m. – 4 p.m.)
8/29 – Cozumel (9 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
8/30 – At Sea
8/31 – Galveston

CARNIVAL TRIUMPH – 8/24/08 DEPARTURE (Seven-day cruise from Miami)
Revised Itinerary Original Itinerary
8/24 – Miami 8/24 – Miami
8/25 – At Sea 8/25 – At Sea
8/26 – Cozumel 8/26 – Cozumel
8/27 – At Sea 8/27 – At Sea
8/28 – At Sea 8/28 – Grand Cayman (7:30 a.m. 4:30 p.m.)
8/29 – Half Moon Cay (7 a.m. – 5 p.m.) 8/29 – Ocho Rios (8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.)
8/30 – Nassau (8 a.m. – 5 p.m.) 8/30 – At Sea
8/31 – Miami 8/31 – Miami

CARNIVAL LIBERTY – 8/30/08 DEPARTURE (Seven-day cruise from Miami)
Revised Itinerary Original Itinerary
8/30 – Miami 8/30 – Miami
8/31 – At Sea 8/31 – At Sea
9/01 – Ocho Rios (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.) 9/01 – Cozumel (8 a.m. – 10 p.m.)
9/02 – Grand Cayman (8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.) 9/02 – At Sea
9/03 – At Sea 9/03 – Grand Cayman (7:30 am. – 4:30 p.m.)
9/04 – Cozumel (8 a.m. – 5 p.m.) 9/04 – Ocho Rios (8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.)
9/05 – At Sea 9/05 – At Sea
9/06 – Miami 9/06 – Miami

CARNIVAL ECSTASY – 8/28/08 DEPARTURE (Four-day cruise from Galveston)
Revised Itinerary Original Itinerary
8/28 – Galveston 8/28 – Galveston
8/29 – At Sea 8/29 – At Sea
8/30 – Progreso (8 a.m. – 6 p.m.) 8/30 – Cozumel (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
8/31 – At Sea 8/31 – At Sea
9/01 – Galveston 9/01 – Galveston

CARNIVAL FANTASY – 8/28/08 DEPARTURE (Four-day cruise from Mobile)
Revised Itinerary Original Itinerary
8/28 – Mobile 8/28 – Mobile
8/29 – At Sea 8/29 – At Sea
8/30 – Progreso (8 a.m. – 6 p.m.) 8/30 – Cozumel (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
8/31 – At Sea 8/31 – At Sea
9/01 – Mobile 9/01 – Mobile

CARNIVAL INSPIRATION– 8/30/08 DEPARTURE (Five-day cruise from Tampa)
Revised Itinerary Original Itinerary
8/30 – Tampa 8/30 – Tampa
8/31 – Key West 8/31 – At Sea
9/1 – At Sea 9/1 – Grand Cayman
9/2 – Cozumel (9 a.m. – 7 p.m.) 9/2 – Cozumel (9 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
9/3 – At Sea 9/3 – At Sea
9/4 – Tampa 9/4 – Tampa


CARNIVAL MIRACLE (8/29/08 DEPARTURE (Eight-day cruise from NY)
Revised Itinerary Original Itinerary
8/29 – New York 8/29 – New York
8/30 – At Sea 8/30 – At Sea
8/31 – At Sea 8/31 – At Sea
9/1 – Port Canaveral 9/1 – San Juan
9/2 – Nassau 9/2 – St. Thomas/St. John
9/3 – Freeport 9/3 – Grand Turk
9/4 – At Sea 9/4 – At Sea
9/5 – At Sea 9/5 – At Sea
9/6 – New York 9/6 – New York

CARNIVAL GLORY (8/30/08 DEPARTURE (Seven-day cruise from Pt.Canaveral)
Revised Itinerary Original Itinerary
8/30 – Port Canaveral 8/30 – Port Canaveral
8/31 – At Sea 8/31 – Nassau
9/1 – At Sea 9/1 – At Sea
9/2 – St. Thomas/St. John 9/2 – St. Thomas/St. John
9/3 – St. Maarten 9/3 – St. Maarten
9/4 – At Sea 9/4 – At Sea
9/5 – At Sea 9/5 – At Sea
9/6 – Port Canaveral 9/6 – Port Canaveral

We are closely monitoring the progress of Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna. All of Carnival’s ships will continue to operate at a safe distance from this storm at all times. Our number one priority is the safety of our guests and crew.

We have made some itinerary changes for several departures this week in order to provide our guests with an enjoyable shore experience, while operating the ships in the safest and most comfortable conditions possible. These are listed below:

Carnival Conquest Sun., 8/24 departure from Galveston: The ship will visit Grand Cayman (Wed), Cozumel (Thur), Progreso (Fri)

Carnival Triumph Sun., 8/24 departure from Miami: The ship will visit Cozumel (Tue), Half Moon Cay (Fri), Nassau (Sat)

Carnival Ecstasy Thur., 8/28 departure from Galveston: The ship will visit Progreso, Yucatan (Sat)

Carnival Fantasy Thur., 8/28 departure from Mobile: The ship will visit Progreso, Yucatan (Sat)

Carnival Miracle Fri., 8/29 departure from New York: The ship will change her itinerary to visit the ports of call: Port Canaveral (Mon), Nassau (Tue) and Freeport (Wed)

Carnival Inspiration Sat., 8/30 departure from Tampa: The ship will visit Key West (Sun) and Cozumel (Tue)

Carnival Glory Sat., 8/30 departure from Pt. Canaveral: The ship will cancel her call to Nassau (Sun) and visit the scheduled ports of call: St. Thomas (Tue), St. Maarten (Wed)

Carnival Liberty Sat., 8/30 departure from Miami: The ship will visit the ports of call in reverse order Ocho Rios (Mon), Grand Cayman (Tue), Cozumel (Thur)

Let’s meet today’s guest CD Mr Stuart Dunn. “Dunno,” as we call him, is from the land Down Under and started his working life as a miner……….I mean we all started life as a minor………….but Dunno was a miner………he really was. He used to work below the earth mining for coal and look where he is now. There are very few CD’s with more energy than Dunno as folks who have cruised with him will testify. Here then is a chance to meet the man himself.

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

I am currently on the Carnival Elation and have chosen to come back here again after this contract so I will be here until mid next year.

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?

My start onboard cruise ships began while I was working as a fitness trainer in the spa on this very ship, the Carnival Elation. From there I became a social host to assistant cruise director and, since January 2004, I have been filling the chair as cruise director.

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.

There are many things that keep us busy behind the scenes in regards to office work etc, however the late nights and early mornings every day for the duration of our six-month contract make this job very challenging. Stepping into the public eye and having to instantly turn “on” when you live on minimal sleep is something many people don’t realize. The love of such an incredible job drives you everyday.

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?

Certainly “The Ultimate Dance Contest” on the open deck is my event I look forward to every cruise. It is high energy, gets everyone involved whether than can dance or not, and offers guests an experience of their cruise they will never forget. Another favorite is my horseracing event. Six sorry horses, three dice and hundreds of people screaming their lungs out to win a fist full of cash. It’s better than the real thing.

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

I would say the events leading up to and following Hurricane Katrina. My ship was supposed to sail in to New Orleans the day Katrina hit, and having to discuss personal situations with many guests who had lost everything was very hard.

6. And, your most rewarding.

Simply every time our ship returns home, I say farewell to guests as they walk off the gangway and they, in turn, say they had an incredible time and will be back. That has to be my most rewarding part of the job.

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 Carnival Elation sails out of San Diego to Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada, Mexico, on four- and five-day cruises. Cabo San Lucas is a very beautiful port with a wide variety of excursions that will show you the best of this port, though the ATV’s on the beach are my favorite. Guests have a blast on these bikes and tell me about their experience afterwards. Swimming with the dolphins is also very popular. When you visit Ensenada, you have to see La Bufadora. It is known as the “blowhole tour” which is a great day out. Not just the geyser itself but the surrounding vendors and the scenic bus ride there make it a fun and great value day out for the whole family. There is also a great winery tour in Ensenada that many wine lovers enjoy.

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

I have only ever worked for Carnival. While I am sure the other lines are doing a great job catering to their guests, Carnival guests are loyal because they say that we have the fun and the family atmosphere. It is also the simple things like the friendly crew that makes people come back over again, and ultimately those guests helped create what Carnival is today. That is the reason why Carnival is the most popular cruise line.

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?

The Carnival Spirit is something I am looking forward to one day. The ports and the incredible excursions in Alaska would be really exciting and anyone who knows me knows that I love adventure-type activities.

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.

Jokingly on the Lido Deck recently I told a group of eight to 10 kids that were serving themselves at the ice cream machine, that I was the world champion at pulling an ice-cream cone. Through years of experience I showed them the perfect ice cream. The biggest mistake anyone could ever make. I had these kids following me for the rest of the cruise with the biggest ice creams you have ever seen, at the furthest point on the ship from the ice cream machine itself. The waste and the mess on the floor and on them were insane. I should have said, “Children, only try this at home!”

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.


A good fresh salad with oil and balsamic vinegar (I am happy to share the salad, I just want to dunk my bread in the oil and vinegar)


Something heavy, like rich tomato-based pasta, and then chicken or veal, garlic rack of lamb, slow-roasted vegetables cooked in chili and oil, garlic cheese bread and a glass of good Australian red to wash it down. (I have been known to enjoy my food)

A Philly cheesesteak with extra onions and peppers would be a great side dish, and I would have to have a classic Aussie meat pie and sauce.


Tiramisu and a bowl of chocolate gelato.


Bob Dickinson, because he has a huge wine cellar. I like wine.


John Heald, to watch John drip tomato sauce from his meat pie down his shirt would make me laugh, and remind me of home.


Nicole Ritchie, because she probably wouldn’t eat the meat pie and would trade it for my salad.


Eric Bana. He used to be a very funny comedian, and now is a great actor and being Australian, loves a good meat pie.


All members of “The Wiggles.” They used to be a very popular rock’n’roll party band in Australia before they donned their colorful turtlenecks and had millions of children driving a “toot toot chugga chugga big red car.” They have a great story to tell.


The cruise director of the Titanic. How much beer did he have to buy to the band for them to play till the very end??

Thanks Dunno and as you can see we have a lot in common including the same physique. Seriously, he is a great CD and a huge asset to the company…………Cheers, mate.

The world is a strange and unpredictable place…….who would have thought that Senator McCain would have decided to choose a beautiful moose-hunting mum of four and Governor from Alaska as his running thingy……..obviously I know nothing about her but she certainly looks and sounds the part as indeed does Mr. Obama……..my vote though would be for President Bartlett.

Anyway, having Mrs. Palin as a possible VP was shocking to everyone………. and would be along the same lines as if Mike Tyson was discovered to be a closet ballet dancer.

So, it may come as just as much of a shock that I have promised Heidi that in one of the ports this cruise that I will join her and her Mum on………….a bike tour………….we have them in Warnemunde, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Helsinki.

The bicycle was not invented for people with a belly full of Yorkshire pudding and lungs like Swiss cheese………people like me in other words. I hate bikes and would rather be pushed around in a stroller. ….however I love my wife so look out later this voyage for photos…..of me on a bike.

So, it’s nearly time for the Welcome Aboard show. I had a lot of fun at the travel talk so hopefully tonight will be similar.

During the talk I heard a mobile phone ring from somewhere close to the stage. I watched amazed as a man answered it and started talking. Now, it was a man who I had just interviewed on the third row ……Pat from California. I, of course, love moments like this so I stopped talking about Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen and asked him who it was…..Pat new he was in for a bit of a hard time and tried to hang up but I asked him not to and again asked who he was speaking to. Her name was Molly and I asked where she was from and he said she was also from California.

So he passed the phone up to me and we started to chat. I started by telling Molly that there were a few other people wanting to talk to her and holding up the phone and without asking the 1,500 plus in the audience all shouted “Hello, Molly” …………… priceless.

Then I asked her what she was doing expecting her to say she was at home having breakfast as it was Californian time……….umm………she wasn’t ……she replied

“Unpacking”…………”Unpacking?” I replied ………..”Yes in the cabin,” said Molly.

“Of course,” I repeated all of this to the guests who are now laughing and that laughter increased in volume when I said “So, you are calling Pat from his cabin on your Californian cell phone to his Californian cell phone here in the lounge……that’s costing you one billion dollars a minute…………good,” I said……….”Lets talk some more……isn’t the weather beautiful ….hold on someone else wants to talk to you”………..

I then passed the phone to a random chap on the front row, he said hello and then I said pass it on. It was only after Molly had spoken to five people on the front row and spent her kids’ inheritance on cell phone charges that she hung up.

Five minutes later Molly and her husband entered the lounge…………I did my best boxing announcer impression “Heeeeerrrrrrrrs Mollllllllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyy”……………..and the audience gave her the first standing ovation of the cruise. Looks like it’s going to be a fun voyage.

Wish you were here


Your friends
John & 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.