Estonia, Cows and a Dream….With a Bit of Alan

September 4, 2008 -

John Heald

I have decided to study American Politics.

I do so because following a brief mention of the Republican Parties candidate for Vice President Lara Croft……..sorry……..Sarah Palin I received this comment from a blogger.

From: Leavitt, Stephanie (CCL)
Sent: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 5:21 PM
Subject: Question from the blog
Brad Jordan

I really enjoy your blog and have been reading it every day. I know you are not American and probably meant to be funny when you referred to the candidate for Vice President Sarah Palin as a moose hunter but this is exactly what she is and is not qualified to hold the second highest office in the land. I realize that you do not want this blog to be a political forum but may I suggest you learn more about the Republican and Democratic parties before making jokes about them. I will continue to read your blog and hope that you post my comment as others may feel the same
thank you

And of course he is right……..I certainly do not want to this blog thingy to have any kind of political agenda…….and….as I mentioned a few blogs ago, I would vote for President Bartlett.

However, I have been reading a bit about the two parties. Let me explain why, the General Election will be taking place on November 4th which is during our trans Atlantic crossing and I have been thinking about what to do. Now, whereas I am not showing either convention on the big screen, I am certainly going to have the results playing for the election itself. And, before that I was thinking of holding two activities. I was going to have a vote on board with 3000 guests voting who they will choose as President. Most of the passengers will be U.S. Citizens with some friends from Canada sailing as well but the vote will be for everyone to join in on. It will be interesting to see how the votes of 3000 people compare with the result of the election itself. I was also thinking about holding a bit of a round table discussion with people allowed to express their views etc with me as the moderator thingy. This may though get a little heated but if done correctly………well……….it may be something worth doing. I will never forget my Economics & Political Science teacher Mr. Snell, for two reasons. One…….he was a hippy and most of the time when he was teaching us he was completely stoned and every now and then while teaching us that Margaret Thatcher was evil and should be burned at the stake, he would break into Bob Marley songs.

The other reason I remember him was because he taught us ” Cow Economics.”………this was his ” formula ” to teach us how best to define political and economic labels. Let’s see how many I can remember.

You have 2 cows.
You give one to your neighbor.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and gives you some milk.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and sells you some milk.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and shoots you.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and shoots you.

You have two cows.
You sell one and buy a bull.
Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows.
You sell them and retire on the income.

You have two cows.
You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows.
Later, you hire a consultant to analyze why the cow has dropped dead.

You have two cows.
You go on strike, organize a riot, and block the roads, because you want
three cows.

You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and
produce twenty times the milk.
You then create a clever cow cartoon image called ‘Cowkimon’ and market it

You have two cows.
You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, use the udders as airbags on a Mercedes and teach the cows to milk

You have two cows, but you don’t know where they are.
You decide to have lunch.

You have two cows.
You count them and learn you have five cows.
You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.
You count them again and learn you have 2 cows.
You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

You have two cows.
You have 300 people milking them.
You claim that you have full employment, and high bovine productivity.
You arrest the reporter who reported the real situation.

You have two cows.
You worship them.

You have two cows.
You worship them.

You have two cows.
Both are mad.

So, you can see why I never took up politics and instead became a Cruise Director………….still, I think the vote thing may be fun………..anyone see any reason why we shouldn’t do it?
Well, a very good afternoon from Estonia where the ship has just left for the last time. The day started of wet and cold but by 11:00am the sun came out and is still with us as we head towards St.Petersburg. Just before I chat about Estonia for the last time let me just quickly post a few last photos of Berlin . I forgot to do so last time and as they are so good I wanted to share them. These were taken by Lawrence our Production Vocalist who along with many of the Entertainment Staff took some time off and went to Berlin.

The Reichstag Building

British Memorial Stones

The main memorial stone for Sachsenhausen – Made this size on purpose, so it would over shadow Tower A (the main symbol of oppression while the camp was open to the Nazi’s.

Some Entertainment Department Members in Berlin

Thanks Lawrence for sharing those with us.

OK, back to Estonia. You know, as you walk around the old town past the boutique shops, the Internet cafe’s and into the town square to sit and enjoy some fine cuisine, it is easy to forget what Estonia has endured to get where it is today. It was occupied in WW2 and after four years of Nazi rule became part of the Russian Empire. It was only in 1991 that it became a fully independent country. While the economy of Estonia is thriving and they have been excepted into the European Union there are still many examples of the days of Soviet Rule, WW2 and the old town’s 13th century medieval origins.

So, what should you do there. Well, I would take the basic highlights tour. This gives you a comprehensive insight into the countries varied history as your tour the old town and stop at a location high above the gates and walls for an unmissable photo experience. The tour will also give you lots of free time to go shopping where you can browse the antique shops, the marzipan factory and as you will have read on the blog thingy recently ……give you time to buy your AK47 and a dozen grenades.

It’s a beautiful town and like Dubrovnik, Croatia it’s a place that will totally surprise you and one you will want to visit again. Hopefully you will get a chance to visit this brilliant town.

Here is today’s interview with another of our great CD’s. This time it’s Risa Barnes. I could say a lot about her but let me just say this. Nobody has a bigger heart that Risa as you will see from the two photos of her and a young man called Logan. His Dad had written to me on the blog asking if we could help his son make his dream come true and be a Cruise Director for the day and meet all the ship’s staff. Well, I wrote to Risa and she made the little chaps dream very much come true. Here are photo’s of Risa and Logan and her interview.

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

I am currently on the Carnival Inspiration until December 6 and sadly, but happily, will be returning to a new home in February – the Carnival Fantasy. I will miss my family of over two years here, but am excited for the change and even more so I will get to see my old friend Big Tex and sail on John’s second bloggers cruise!

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 graduated from the University of South Carolina…”Go Gamecocks!” ….with a marketing degree which I used for a couple of years as manager of the Body Shop Skin & Hair. My mother took her first cruise in October 1996 on the Fascination out of Puerto Rico and actually brought an application from the pursers back for me (they don’t have these onboard any longer…hee hee). This encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone so I sent out resumes to almost every shipboard department within Carnival — even departments which historically did not attract a lot of female candidates. . Two months, later I was hired to work in the patisserie on the Carnival Destiny when she first began service. I met so many incredible people within the company who helped me along the way that I knew I made the right decision (even though I had never worked so hard in my entire life). Being stuck behind the coffee bar I made a point to talk to EVERYONE…guests and crew – just to have company – and in the end this helped me make my mark. I do believe I created the creamiest and most delicious chocolate milkshakes, which, in turn, endeared me to an extremely important man who eventually gave me my first shot as social host. Probably no surprise to most, but Mr. John Heald was my first mentor! I worked hard and was determined to become one of the first female cruise directors in the fleet as at that time there were none. To this day, I am thankful for all the support, guidance and words of encouragement that many of the cruise directors before me gave to me…especially John and Chris Roberts, as well as Mark Hawkins and Devin Fleming (both retired), as well as some very supportive hotel directors — Ron Ness, Aaron Thomas, Roger McGregor and others.

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.

WOW…this is a loaded question. Behind the scenes, we not only organize and make sure everything is planned and ready to go for the guests, we also make sure Carnival Capers is updated and prepared each day. We are in charge of up to 60 people in our department, including “fun patrol” staff, dancers, musicians, DJs and comedians. This was mentioned by someone else but I have to agree that we become the “parent” figure — meaning that we not only take care of business matters but are also on call 24 hours a day for any personal issues, moral support and motivation. We also work closely with ALL other departments on board to ensure they are taken care of and help them do their utmost to make sure guests have a great vacation. Besides the fun stuff, we also are involved with safety initiatives onboard, conducting safety tours, and meeting with our committees to find ways to make the overall shipboard experience safe for EVERYONE.

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 LOVE the Love & Marriage and Newlywed games as they allow me to some have some carefree fun with the crowd – each of the participants are unique and wonderfully entertaining. I also enjoy the “magic quarter trick” (which was given to me by Mr. Mark Price) that I do with very young junior cruisers each week. The kids are priceless as they always say what they are thinking and make the crowd laugh while giving them that warm and fuzzy feeling.

5. What has been your most challenging moment as cruise director so far?

There have been many challenging times especially during hurricane season and summer vacation season (LOTS of kids!), but still to this day my second cruise as acting cruise director on the MS Holiday when she got stuck on a sandbar for four days was the toughest and most rewarding! It was Thanksgiving and there was lots of bonding with some wonderful people and fellow crew who were going above and beyond to make the experience positive and fun for those guests stuck there 🙂

6. And, your most rewarding

Can’t pinpoint one moment or occasion, but when guests come onboard and remember me from years before, it just makes me feel like I did my job, helped them enjoy their cruise and made the best impression possible. I LOVE my job and when people come up to me and remember their cruise, it just proves that I am in the right place!

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?

Carnival Inspiration currently does a five-day, five-day and four-day rotation. The five-day cruises visit both Grand Cayman and Cozumel and on the four-day we go to Cozumel. There are so many wonderful tours in both ports, but to narrow it down I would definitely suggest the following:

Grand Cayman – ANY tour that takes you out to the Stingray City Sandbar is an awesome experience…specifically the Reef & Ray or the Stingray & Snorkel by Ray Runner (you get to drive yourself out to the sandbar and to a beautiful reef). I would also recommend the Stingray City and Island Tour which lets you enjoy the stingray experience and also get an overall tour of the island where you stop at the Turtle Farm and Hell…that’s right…Hell 🙂

Cozumel – My FAVORITE port – offers SO much! The beginner’s scuba is wonderful and because of this tour I felt confident enough to get my own scuba certification. If you want something a little more subtle — but still filled with fun — I would recommend the Cozumel Jeep and Snorkel at Punta Sur. Not only do you get to do a bit of off-roading near the mangroves, you drive along the beach to a spot where you then enjoy a little snorkeling, fresh snacks and refreshments, along with volleyball and swimming. The staff are not only informative, but tons of fun!

I would also recommend the Cozumel Amazing Race which is based on the reality TV show, but really gets you into the heart and soul of the destination. You meet so many of the locals searching from clue to clue and really get the true flavor and vibe of the island.

Last, but not least, you have the option of going over to mainland Mexico where the top three picks would be the Mayan Ruins of Tulum (wonderful history and beauty), the Caverns by Jeep & Beach Exploration (fabulous cavern experience with relaxing fun and lunch on the beach afterwards…and you drive your own Jeep), and Xcaret (a beautiful park where anyone of any age can truly enjoy a day of history, beauty, snorkeling, exploring and more)

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

Number one – Carnival is MORE FUN! Cruise after cruise, I have guests approach me that are cruising with us for the first time and they always say they don’t know why they didn’t try it sooner. No matter which ship in the fleet you go on you will get the most bang for your buck and be embraced as family from that point on. Carnival is my family away from my family and you will never find friendlier people from all over the world who work diligently to make sure you have the vacation of a lifetime.

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 can’t say there is one specific ship…If I could go back in time I would choose the MS Tropicale because it was small and lovely. ALL the guests and crew interacted on a daily basis because wherever you went, you saw people you knew. It still holds wonderful memories for me and she would be where I would want to go. I will say regarding current ships that I would love to be on any ship where I could see Europe!

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?

There have been many funny moments…tripping in front of hundreds of guests in a beautiful formal gown making my way onto the stage, tripping going up stairs talking to guests, and even tripping walking a straight line down the promenade chatting with people…obviously you see the tripping theme…I am not a graceful girlie girl and just laugh it off, telling people my family call me “Grace.” As for inspirational stories, there are also many, but in particular I had one guest, Dick, who sailed a few times with us. He likes to set up a day and time for retired and active military to get together to tell stories and share their experiences with each other. There is usually a small attendance, but those that show up have so much emotion telling their stories. In particular, there was a couple that came to one gathering and one gentlemen told some really heartfelt stories. Afterwards, this gentleman’s wife approached Dick and stated she was his second wife and only been married to him for 3 years, but was so touched to hear about those moments in his life because he had never been able to share them with her. Sad and beautiful, all at the same time.

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

Stuffed mushrooms — and I mean stuffed with a lot of parmesan cheese 🙂

My mother’s beef stroganoff with big fat noodles

Chocolate Bitter & Blanc…YUMMY!!! But I don’t get dessert often as I am fighting off the mid-life belly bulge or as I call it the polyester pouch…ouch!

If I could bring someone back who is no longer with us…Ted Arison…he was the heart and soul of Carnival and lovely man. Currently Ian Smith and Natko Nincevic as these two men started me out with this company in the very beginning.

I would have to bring two: Big Tex (my Jeremy) and Chris Roberts…these two always have a way of making me laugh no matter what!

Sandra Bullock or Jessica Tandy…I know, two very different women

Johnny Depp or Christian Slater….LOVE THEM

Michael Buble or Jim Brickman (pianist)

Jackie O

Thanks Risa and we all wish you continued success and applaud your dedication to the fun ship cause.

Now, let me share a Dream with you……….that’s Carnival Dream by the way. Our Manager of Production Design and Entertainment and all things technical and show business Mr.Preston Bircher is as we speak in Italy visiting the vessel. here then is a first look at the spectacular Carnival Dream.

Here’s the profile of the new aft section……that’s not the ship’s funnel by the way

Looking into the theatre

The Carnival Dream is becoming a reality and I know, like me many of you are looking forward to this spectacular vessel and I will add more photos as often as I can.

And, two guests enjoyed it so much that they nearly stayed longer. The ship was due to leave at 4:00pm and we were missing two guests called Steve and Rafael. I shall not mention their last names to protect their identity but I can tell you that at 3:45pm we had everyone onboard……….except Steve and Rafael. So, I paiged them to check that our computer entry system had not messed up and that they were in fact onboard and to ask them if anyone new of their whereabouts.

It was at 3:55pm just as we were preparing to inform the ship’s agent that we were missing two guests that I heard our Chief Security say that they were at the entrance to the pier……………I was then told that they were………ummmm…….happy.

I went out to the deck 5 forward area to see myself and sure enough they were, in the distance taking the long way back. By this I mean they were not walking in a straight line although one seemed to be trying or was walking on a beer induced invisible tightrope. He had turned both his arms into wings and was trying to balance on the imaginary rope. He would have been doing OK if the rope had been 10 feet wide.

This was too good an opportunity to miss so I ran……..OK……….I walked quickly back to the cabin and made an announcement that there was an interesting site on the pier. Steve Budweiser and Rafael Miller were now being encouraged and cheered on by hundreds of guests on their balconies and open decks……..the two men seemed oblivious to the fact that they were holding the ship up as they were too busy telling each other ” I love you man.”

Anyway, too the sounds of laughter and cheers they weaved their way back onboard with our security guards making sure that they didn’t get wet……….if you know what I mean.

I should mention that the beer is pretty cheap in Estonia and that the taverns serve their local beer everywhere. It is lethal and it while I do not know the exact alcohol strength I can tell you it is very cloudy and like one of those old Frankenstein movies it has steam coming out of it and little bubbles of acid exploding at the top.

Anyway, Steve and Rafael obviously had partaken in a few of these and were very lucky to have made it home. I am sure you have a picture in your mind of these twenty something kids……….well………….I should tell you that Steve is 49 and Rafael is 55.

Although I do not drink these days there were times when Alan my best mate and I would get as drunk as Steve and Rafael and when we did we would always get in so much trouble and alienate ourselves from every girl in town.

As I sit here and right this stuff I have no idea why I am as it has nothing to do with a blog thingy about Cruise life but i can’t stop myself telling you. I remember a party we went to at the home of a young lady called Elgar. He parents were away and her very posh ten bedroom mansion was filled with young ladies……….Alan and I somehow got invited and we were in heaven. As the party got into full swing the beer flowed and everyone was having a good time. Now, I am going to write this next bit just as I remember it.

I was dancing………….ok………….let me give you a few moments to stop laughing…………..yes…………i was dancing………and as George Michael and the other one from Wham reminded me to Wake Them Up Before We Go Go……..all was well. I had a young lady called Karen Goose dancing by my side and every now and then I would let my hand gently brush her thigh……..I don’t think her boyfriend liked that very much………..come to think of it neither did Karen, who later on that year slapped me round the face in the middle of my local pub. This was because she had received a Valentine’s card ……..which she thought was from me although it was actually written and delivered by Alan.

AND I WANT TO……..i can’t write the rest but you can understand why she hit me.

Anyway, back to the party. So, there I was dancing away to George Michael probably thinking what a lucky sod he was that every girl in the world wanted him, of course at the time I had no idea that all he wanted was Bob. ……the beer poured, the music played and every now and then I got to touch Karen’s thigh. All of a sudden………..and yes, I swear this is the truth……….all hell broke loose. I heard laughing mixed with screaming and as I walked into the hallway of the grand house there at the top of the sweeping staircase was Alan…….who had obviously had one beer too many which meant he had had three.

Alan was at the top of the staircase and for some bizarre reason he had his pants and his boxers round his ankles. he then gingerly mounted the banister by swinging one very drunken leg over…….. and at the speed of a geriatric turtle slid to the bottom of the staircase…………and as he did so he shouted ” weeeeeeeeeeeee”.

Obviously the view was not a pleasant one and when he finally reached the bottom he was met by cheers, laughter, applause and a very angry Elgar.

She screamed ” what do you think you are doing sliding down the banister like that” Alan, slowly pulled up his boxers and trousers and in that slightly slurred and oh so familiar voice he said

“There was no toilet paper in the bathroom.”

5 minutes later we were on a bus…………going home………..never to be invited to a party again.

Your Friends
John, Heidi and Alan

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.