A Big Sheet

September 19, 2008 -

John Heald

Good Morning

We start today with this letter.

This was a new one on me so I met with the guest and her daughter this afternoon. Before I did I admit that I had some pre-conceptions in my mind having read the letter. Mum would be wearing a long white flowery dress , have her hair in pigtails and as a love child of the 60’s be ready to “teach the world to sing” and a frequent visitor to Amsterdam or her local supplier of the whacky backy.

Well………….she wasn’t anything like that……….she was……….well………….normal but a very upset ……….normal.

So, as her letter said, she wanted her daughter to receive an “education” while she was onboard and not be a party to ……..well……….what kids do on vacation. I apologized and said that I would take her suggestions of looking at maps and books about the ports to heart but I had to disagree with her concerning her adamant suggestions that we should include teaching the kids Spanish and Italian and giving them “homework.”

I know nothing about “home schooling” and I am sure for many this really works…………but as I spoke to Mum I couldn’t help but look at her daughter……a beautiful normal kid who sat quietly, listening to Mum say that she wished she could have learnt the history of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and I felt sad………….because her daughter’s eyes looked sad……..they looked like she would have loved to be at Camp Carnival right now, having her face painted and playing with her new friends.

I am not a parent, I probably have no right to even comment on this………..and while I would never dare to criticize how a parent brings up their kids…….it just seemed sad that she wasn’t allowed to go and …………..be nine years old.

All of us wrap up our children when it’s cold. We put them on booster seats in the car and make them wear helmets when they’re on a bicycle. We strive constantly to keep them out of harm’s way, and then we send them off to school so they can be punched, kicked, buy drugs and learn how to swear by the time they are five. ……………maybe this lady is right…………….maybe Home Schooling is the way to go.

Mum showed me her daughter’s work in some exercise books………and I had no idea what the heck it was. I bet she knows more about advanced mathematics now, at the age of 9, than most of the NASA scientists did when they put Armstrong on the moon.

People say Donald Trump works very hard, what with his property, his hair and his empire to manage on television. But he’s a work-shy benefits dodger compared with River.

Mum told me her daughter, who already speaks Latin better than Julius Caesar, starts school at 7am every morning, works with her Dad on math and English until noon. Then at 1:00pm she works with her Mum on languages. Latin, Spanish and French. But before she can collapse into bed she has to do four half-hour homeworks. Supper? MSN? A bit of light texting? Forget it.

I sat there and listened to her daughter who in a strangely robotic voice spoke in Latin until Mum flicked a switch and she changed to French………..for some reason I found the hairs on my arm standing to attention.

When I was at school I remember being told that if I spelt my name properly on my exam paper I’d pass. Exams were a hiccup in the day; not the be all and end all of absolutely everything.

There’s more. Mum told me that by the age of 12 she expected her daughter to have a rudimentary grasp of quantum physics and that they had already booked a tutor for her.

If I am lucky enough to have kids would I home school them…………probably not. I respect this choice but I of course could only teach my kids to tell bad jokes and to say “bugger.”

I want my children to leave school with a basic academic foundation; enough to get them to $32,000 on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, say. But more than that I want them to learn social skills so they can interact properly with other human beings. I want them to learn to blog. I want them to enjoy life, to have fun. I can’t bear the thought of paying a small fortune for a private education or to pressure them at home so they can be put on a treadmill and emotionally flogged until they’re bulimic, suicidal and have no social skills. School is supposed to prepare a person for life, not wear them out.

This is what we all seem to have forgotten. Yes, we must do everything we can to keep our children safe. But we should also do everything we can to make them happy as well.

I can’t stop thinking about my school days and how much I despised English with Mr.Gordon……who by the way used to go to the toilet and always come back with the evidence of his bathroom visit splashed across the front of his trousers. We used to call him “Splash Gordon.” The reason I hated English was old Splash’s fetish with the Bard.

William Shakespeare has probably done more to damage the cultural worth of Britain than anyone else in the whole of human history. After endlessly having to study his plays on the school curriculum, generations of children have ventured into adulthood convinced that all literature is coma-inducingly dreary. I don’t blame them. Portia’s speech about the “gentle rain” is in no way as stimulating as 10 minutes killing zombies on your Playstation.

My hatred for English was only surpassed by the sadness I feel that my music lessons with Mr. Ruddick , a lovely man, married with two children but about as manly and butch as Richard Simmons underwear drawer……….were never taken seriously.

You see, I have no regrets about being a literary thickhead but the fact my piano skills are equal to Captain Rude’s and Mrs.S.Nob’s social skills…….well…….that makes me weep.

My mate Alan who although totally drunk, once sat down in the lobby of the Carnival Triumph and played, with both hands and all the twiddly bits, some Rachmaninov. It was the first time Budweiser had ever sponsored a piano recital and although it was late at night and Alan remembered nothing about it in the morning………..he played the whole 2nd movement without music and without mistakes………the guests gave him a standing ovation.

So, there was Alan……………drunk…………again………….playing the second movement of one of the world’s most difficult pieces of music. I realized then that instead of doing funny limp wristed walks behind Mr.Ruddick when he wasn’t looking…………I should have been learning the piano………….the only second movement I was likely to perform was if I had chicken vindaloo curry for dinner.

And of course there’s nothing more a woman likes than a man who can play a musical instrument. If you can bash out a double-handed rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star you are virtually indistinguishable in the eyes of womankind to Jon Bon Jovi and will be guaranteed rumpy pumpy………….unless you’re Alan.

Let’s have a look at some great photos taken by Kat our I/S manager of our transit through the Strait of Gibraltar.

And now lets have a look at the letter’s from today’s in their own words section

Thanks again for all your comments and especially those words of support for the company and the way they handled the hurricane situation. I am going to refer to this just one more time shortly and then……………move on. But I wanted again to say thank you and please keep your comments coming. Remember, I will reply to each and everyone of them……positive and negative if you ask me to by including the words “John, Please Reply.”

Thanks again and I remain at your service.

OK, here is the news from the Carnival Splendor. This next voyage we are going to try a new smoking policy. The Piano Bar will become non smoking………………ok………………..let me let that one sink in a bit.

Yep, we have decided to try this out. The reason is that the Piano Bar is massively popular and I honestly think it would be more so if we gave people who don’t smoke to have a chance to enjoy brilliant performers like Ron and our new chap Gregg. Also, the cigarette smell coming from the lounge is really strong and obviously we get a lot of comments about this. So, we are going to make it non-smoking which will please many and not please some. So, let me say this. The Piano Bar entertainers usually work 45 minutes with a 15 minute break…….so……..smokers can take a smoke break one flight down in the cigar bar and not miss anything. OK, I know its not the same as enjoying a cigarette while watching the guys work …………as a cigar smoker I know this to be true.

Now, in its place we have allotted a new place for smoking and I think it’s going to be great……………deck 9 aft. On this class, unlike the Destiny and Conquest class the deck 9 aft area is not enclosed with a dome. So, we have some beautiful tables and chairs and once the food service stops at 7:00pm………this will become a great area to enjoy the fresh night air of the Med and a smoke.

In a perfect world we would have AIDA’s ” Anytime Bar ” but hopefully this will be nearly as good.
I await your thoughts and comments.

And now for something completley different.

Guest: Mr ——Ref: 002904527A
Cabin: XXX Booking#: 43BG93 Added-Changed: 09/18/08 – 09/18/08


Mr ________ came to the Purser’s desk and advised he left his grey with red stripes swimming shorts in the washing machine in guest laundry on deck 7 and when he came back they were gone. This was on Wednesday and just now he saw another guest wearing them on the deck 9 pool. Guest approached the man and asked him where he got the shorts from and guest said he did not speak English and walked away. Mr______ then asked Purser to call security. Purser called security.
Security reported that the man had gone when they reached the lido deck. Mr——- said he wanted the guest found and arrested for theft.
Purser explained that the guest should inform the Pursers Desk if he sees the man again. Mr______ started shouting saying that the swim shorts were a gift and had sentimental value.
Purser apologized and said his comments would be discussed with Chief Security and Hotel Director.
Tasked to Housekeeping.

There are so many things to comment on here but let me just say that I think it’s strange that one man would want to wear another man’s used shorts…………..I wonder if he stole my brown sock………I am missing one.

I also think it’s strange that the guest thinks we can “arrest” someone onboard. I mean……we have a brig but being thrown in there because you probably picked up some washing you thought was yours………well, that’s a bit harsh.

I do sympathize with the guest however as I have a pair of underwear that have “sentimental value.”

They are 11 years old and are the only pair of normal underwear I have left. They survived Heidi’s purge in 2007 when I was forced into boxers plus this off white pair of Fruit of the Looms have been with me and survived 200 Indian meals, my sugar free jelly bean fetish and they were the pair I was wearing when I was attacked by Mrs. Mahjong…………I love them and if anyone ever stole them I would hunt the culprit down and beat them over the head with a toilet brush.

Yesterday, I posted a comment about the hurricane situation in Texas. Well, it’s time to put that to bed and move on……….but not before you read this brilliant story from Jen……..the Cruise Director of the Carnival Conquest.

HI John,

We disembarked the guests this morning in Houston and it was very sad as this certainly has been a cruise to remember.

This is what happened on the last night of the cruise. We only had 362 guests left on board from our departure from New Orleans. The final show was in the back lounge at 10pm with comedian Carl Guerra, and I had told my Entertainment staff that we’d hang around after the show to chat with the guests as they’ve been so lovely all cruise………….well little did I know!

As I was taking the comedian off he actually passed the mic on to one of the guests, who then asked me to sit down at the front as they proceeded to do a whole presentation to myself and the entire crew. They had written a really nice song that involved all the other guests in the lounge…they had written all about the entire crew on board. They also sang a song to the theme of Gilligan’s Island…very funny! I’m usually pretty strong with emotional stuff, but my eyes filled up and I just couldn’t help myself as this has been a really tough 11 days and this gesture was just incredible.

They had a bed sheet that they had everyone on board sign (all 362 guests) here’s a picture…..All of the guests stayed around and I felt like Britney Spears with all the photographs being taken. I think everyone on the ship came over and hugged me.

My staff and all of the crew involved have been so fabulous…..I am really really sad to leave on Sunday!

Here’s some pictures and copy of the song.

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale
The tale of a Fun ship Cruise
That started out of Galveston
For a 7-day tour …for a 7-day tour

The crew of the Carnival Conquest
With a captain brave & sure
Were set to give their very best
And take care of us, too
…and take care of us, too

The weather started getting rough
The big Fun Ship was tossed
If not for the courage of the Carnival crew The Conquest would be lost …the Conquest would be lost.

Ike kept us out of Galveston
We went to New Orleans
Then on to Bayport Terminal
To end our Fun ship cruise
…to end our Fun ship cruise

To Jen and Capt. Marino
And all their staff & crew
Who helped us through this stressful time
You have our gratitude …our thanks and gratitude.

What a wonderful tribute to an outstanding Captain, Cruise Director and crew. We are all very proud of you and I am sure this will be something you will never forget.

You see, that’s what makes Carnival the best……..it’s not the iconic features we brag about………the big screens, the retractable roof, the Supper Clubs, the gorgeous food, the wonderful shows, the water slides ………….these are all outstanding features……….but…………..what makes Carnival Cruise Lines the best………….it’s the people……………it’s what our founder Ted Arison always said………..it’s people………….they make the difference.

The employees on board the Carnival Conquest and Carnival Ecstasy along with the superb people in our Miami office………….they are what makes Carnival The Most Popular Cruise Line In The World…………..they are………the icon…………..I hope they frame that bed sheet and it’s hung somewhere prominent onboard for all future guests and crew to see.

Your friends
John, Heidi and the thousands of shipboard and shore side employees of Carnival Cruise Lines

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.