Mr.ABCNBCCBSFOX…..The Season Finale

September 29, 2008 -

John Heald

As I mentioned yesterday, during my trip to see the Carnival Dream the shipyard was quiet with it being a Sunday. However, that was also because many of the technicians were here onboard the Carnival Splendor these last two days in Venice. ……let me explain why.

When you buy a car, it comes with a warranty and that’s the same with the ships. We get a full one-year guarantee on everything that the yard supplies. And although most of it is built to perfection, some things need looking at.

So, being that the ship was in Venice these last two days — and within close proximity to one of Fincantieri shipyards — a whole army of technicians boarded the vessel yesterday.

OK, by now, many of you will have fallen into a boredom-induced coma thinking this is a pretty boring blog thingy so far………..but hang on in there.


So, while I was away at the Carnival Dream, on came Diego and his chums ………..they worked………..they smoked……..they screamed at each other……….they looked in the mirror ………28 times an hour…………..and they buggered off.

And to the untrained eye, all the work they had done in the entertainment areas looked good. They had fixed some computer problems we had been encountering with the lighting computer. They had done a great job with the main stage flooring which needed some urgent repairs and all in all everything looked good…………..until …….um the DJ Shannon went to the Red Carpet Dance Club……..where he noticed one or two problems.

Shannon went to the dance club at 3:30 pm while the ship was still tied up against the side of the pier in Venice. The first problem was that as he walked across the dance floor he slipped…….fell on his arse…….and skidded to the other side of the dance floor. Now, to any guest walking past, it would have looked like the DJ was break dancing — but he wasn’t, of course.

Once he had recovered from the shock of his impression of a bowling bowl he pulled himself up by holding onto the metal pole at the side of the dance floor …….and got an electric shock so extreme……………he now looks like Don King.

Why………..well, the dance floor is actually a big movie screen and various videos and lighting effects can be show on it. However, we have had some problems and called in the technicians to help. So they did. They took parts of the dance floor up and …. increased the power …and now it works.

Problem is, though, that they replaced the tiles on the floor………the ones they had taken up to get underneath……….and used some sort of silicone thingy to put them back down. Now, I have no idea what silicone is and I am sure there are men with beards who can tell me. What I can tell you is that silicone turned our DJ into a human bowling ball because the dance floor was like a sheet of ice.

Then, the power issue. Well, our chief engineer explained that they increased the power too much and that when the ship is grounded………..meaning that it is attached to a pier ………. any pier…………..that walking onto the dance floor will insure anyone who does will be charged with electricity and if you touch anything……..you are guaranteed a new hair style……………….bugger.

This means that we had to close the dance club last night and move it up to Lido Deck 9 aft. This actually proved to be very popular…………hopefully we will be able to open tonight though as the silicone will have dried and the engineers are working on reducing the power.

OK ………..for those of you who found that totally boring……….my apologies…………..here is something then for you.

Guest: Mr ________ Ref: 0020404929A
Cabin: ______ Booking#: ________ Added-Changed: 09/28/08 – 09/28/08

COMPLAINT ABOUT SHUTTLE BUS IN VENICE

Following Carnival Cares Comment Card received.

The shuttle bus service in Venice was ridiculous. My wife and I had to wait 25 minutes for a bus to come and that was after having to walk over lots of bridges in Venice. Why was better transportation not arranged and why were there so many bridges in Venice. We should have been informed. Today was full of stress. Then we saw the tour director getting out of a limousine right by the gangplank. Why didn’t we get that service?

Tasked to shore excursion manager and cruise director.

OK, I will come to my main point about this in a moment. But first, the shuttle buses. Yep………..as I have said for the last three seasons, they could be better but they are not. We are as are all cruise lines dependant on the local authority to provide these buses that take guests on a five-minute ride to Piazza Roma where the vaprorettos (water buses) run from.

We have three buses and there can be …as the guest experienced………..20 minutes waiting time. This is why I recommended to everyone that unless they have walking difficulties to not use the buses and take a nice 20-minute stroll instead. And most did ………..in fact only 388 people paid the $10 ticket price for the buses.

Then there is the car situation……………………..bugger. Well, in my defense, it was not a limousine but a saloon car, albeit a Mercedes. But, I can see how this may have looked. So, I decided that I needed to explain why and how that had happened as taxis are not allowed as close as Gabby ………….sorry……..I was day dreaming about her skirt…………or lack of one…………………..anyway, what was I saying…………oh yes, taxis are not allowed as close as Gabby brought me. So I had to do the right thing and apologize.

So, as I always do before I call a guest I look at their profile on the manifest…………age, nationality, etc. Now, reading that comment you probably thought what I did………the couple were elderly and did not like standing around for 25 minutes and having to walk up and down bridges during their time in Venice…………so you will probably be as surprised as I was to discover…………..that they are both in their early thirties.

And, as I talked to them, and they said that having to wait 25 minutes and having to walk bridges was a stressful day. I asked them if they had walking difficulties……….but neither of them do.

Anyway, I apologized and asked them to make sure they speak to me if they have any questions about the coming ports. After the conversation, I couldn’t help but think about the word “stress”……..which the guest had used at least four or five times.

Stress has become so common in the modern world that the word trips off the tongue as readily as Coca Cola or Eye Pod. While our grandparents went marching off to war armed with a cigarette and a prayer, we latter-day heroes see a trip to Publix, a day in the office or a traffic jam as an excuse to reach for a prescription drug.

I myself tend to use the word “stress” everyday and from now on…….I am going to refuse to say it and allow only those people who face real stressful situations ……………the armed forces battling the Taliban……………..people who are about to lose their house because of the credit crunch……….not me………..not someone who has a guest screaming at them as I did again this morning because we didn’t have the American football on TV………that’s not stress………..that’s entertainment.

As we left Venice yesterday, we held a Venetian mask party. This was attended by about 400 people……all wearing masks…it was quite a sight. Here are a few photos of the event.

Followed now by a few letters in their own words

Here are some more great photos of Venice

I see many of you are very excited about the Carnival Dream…….and so you should be. Honestly, she is going to be something very special and half of me wishes that I was going to be her cruise director. However, Todd has that honor and he is going to have the time of his life. I really do think we should hold a Bloggers Cruise in 2010 and, having seen her yesterday, the Carnival Dream seems like a sensible and exciting choice.

I see some of you are asking if I will be on the inaugural cruise as you want to wait and see if I will be before you book. Well, first of all……..book……..don’t worry if I will be there or not……..book……….and treat yourself to a balcony cabin…….maybe one on deck 2.

However……..I do hope to be there with you for that special cruise and I will keep you all informed about my plans.

By now you will hopefully have had time to see the videos I posted. I hope these videos show you just how special this ship is going to be.

Back here on the Carnival Splendor, we have, of course, finished our Baltic season. So, in celebration of its success and in preparation for the Carnival Liberty’s season I have prepared a Baltic Blog. This includes about 30 minutes of video shot on location in Russia, Estonia and the other brilliant ports of call. I am hoping this will also be shown on the homepage of www.carnival.com

The Baltic experience was outstanding and the ports second to none. I hope seeing these videos will encourage some of you to come and sail with us next year. I will let you know when it is ready.

I continue to reply to all the comments marked “urgent, please reply” and I also read each and every one of them and as always I say a huge thank you to all those who have taken the time to comment. I also should tell you that sometime this week………we should reach the 3 million mark……….unbelievable.

Let’s catch up with our old friend Chris “Bubba” Roberts who continues his series of guest blogs while he and the good ship Carnival Spirit head towards Hawaii.

The Fall 2008 Reposition SD2

So the shows went pretty well last night. Ship was still moving a bit but not nearly as much as the night before, so we had pretty good attendance. The shows were at 7 pm and 9 pm. Even though the audience was a bit on the quiet side, we still managed to get them up out of their seat…

Our comedian Tom McGillen followed the blues show and did very well. Overall, it was a good night of entertainment. It was weird doing my show so early in the cruise. I am used to doing it mid-week or even at the end. So to do it on the first sea day will be interesting to see how the rest of the 10 days go.

After the shows, I packed up my props and helped the techs and musicians put the stage back in order again and headed up to the cabin for a much-needed shower. After two shows I am soaking wet. I wish going to the gym was as much fun as performing, I would go all the time, but then I wouldn’t look the part because I’d lose too much weight. Well that’s my story and I am sticking to it.

When I got back to the cabin I found an envelope in my box addressed to me. It was from a guest.

In it stated that he had cruised on RCI many times and that this was their first CCL cruise and was wondering if he might be able to get a bridge tour on one of the sea days to surprise his wife. A very common question that we get asked on all cruises, but, unfortunately, one that cannot be accommodated due to security reasons. Still, I checked with Captain Donato since he just started this week. Didn’t want to automatically assume the captain would say no, but he did….so there you go. I left a note in the guest’s mailbox saying I would meet them to discuss their request today at 2:30 pm at the coffee bar. Then went back to my cabin and as soon as my head hit the pillow I was out. I didn’t sleep well the night before because of the motion and then after the two shows my motor shut down. This was around 1 am.

At 8:39 am I was awoken by an alarm….not my alarm, the FIRE Alarm. And when I say I was awoken, it was more like hurled out of bed. The alarm is so loud it could wake the dead. Came flying out of my cabin running toward the bridge with no shoes and putting on some clothes as I went. As I arrived at the door to the bridge the chief fire patrol was there and we both went in. The safety officer was already there looking at the computer that has all of the fire safety systems and there were several deck officers there already. As they saw me come on to the bridge they gave me a calming gesture saying that it was a false alarm and at that moment the alarm shut off. They proceeded to tell me the alarm only went off in the crew area. Now, because the alarm is so intense, even though the alarm only sounded in the crew area, if anyone was in a guest area which was near a crew working area, they probably heard the alarm so an announcement was going to be needed.

I jumped on the PA in both the guest and crew areas…apologized for the alarm signal for those that heard it. Explained it was a malfunction and that our engineering team was working on what caused it. Once my heart rate went back down, I went back to bed for an hour. I deserved it.

Day 2 of the cruise is still overcast. The ocean has calmed down considerably. This ship rocks a bit, but very gently. So people were out in full force, but mostly at indoor event. We had a few activities outside, but with the wind and sea spray, the decks are pretty wet, so had to cancel a few things. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better. My past experience with these crossing is the third sea day is when the some comes out and it feels like the Caribbean. We will see.

Another “oh joy” moment today was when I got into my inbox I found and accident report for one of my staff. I had been told by the doctor, that one of the staff was signed off medically yesterday, and today I found out why….turns out one of the entertainment hosts was running an activity called “movie song trivia.” We play a song that is well known for a particular movie, then you have to name the movie. Well, when the host was playing the “time warp” from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, she decided to dance it out. Somehow she twisted her ankle and now is on crutches. Now, I have to fill out a bunch of paperwork investigating the accident. So I called the host to ask her a bunch of questions about the who, what, where when and why. I asked if it was when she “took a jump to the left”….she laughed and said “no”…it was when…”she bent her knees inside,” we both had a laugh.

Next on the agenda was the hotel director’s meeting where all the management involved in the ship’s hotel operation comes together to discuss items of importance. The meeting usually last about an hour. Our HD Keith is trying to get everyone in the Aloha spirit and handed out leis to all of the people at the meeting. We went over final details of the Hawaii itineraries. Planned the Hawaiian dress theme night for the next day…and discussed how we missed one truck of supplies in Vancouver and how we might have to go without certain items until we get to the islands. One other important thing we discussed was the loss of satellite reception during our crossing. When you are in the middle of nowhere, you cannot pick up the signal in certain places.

After the meeting I went to the coffee bar to meet with guest who wanted a bridge tour. He was a very nice man. Thanked me for meeting with him. I think he was surprised that the cruise director would spend the time to do it. He was very understanding about not being able to do a bridge tour. Asked if there were other “tech” tours during the cruise. I told him there would be only the galley tour and backstage tours. I asked if there was anything else I could do for him. He said no, and was very thankful for me meeting with him.

Now I have to go and put on the tux for the first elegant night. Captain’s cocktail party is coming up in less than an hour. So the night will be busy for me with the parties, filming the morning show for the next day and hosting the shows. Tonight is our first revue show called “Standing Room Only.” A tribute to some of the Broadway musicals from past to present. Be back in a bit…….


Captain Donato greeting guests on the way to the party.


The Spirit Orchestra playing for the Cocktail Party. We have the best show bands a float!

So the captain’s parties were very busy and I had a lot of positive feedback from the show last night. There were one or two grumpy back-to-back guests who were disappointed that the show is the same tonight as on the last Alaska voyage. Guess they didn’t understand me at the back-to-back meeting the other day, or did not come. I told them that once we had done the crossing almost all of the shows would be different as we would be receiving more fly-on entertainers once we got to the islands. But for the most part everyone was in good spirits and it’s a successful formal night. The first production show was busy so I am back in the cabin now doing a few more Caper changes and blogging while the show is going on. Tomorrow we will reach the point of no return, when we will be closer to Hawaii, than the States. See you then.

Thanks, mate. And if you get the chance to see Bubba’s Blues Brother show you really must………it’s so much fun and if you ever get chance to sail with Bubba and want to make him happy………..bring him a souvenir from the Waffle House…..even a copy of the menu would make the young man happy.
Tune in later this week for another great blog from Chris.

I really don’t want to talk any further about Mr. ABCNBCCBSFOX but he really is giving me little choice. The subject of not getting American television is one I have covered on this blog thingy before and one that I have had guests upset about before ………..but never…………never have I had a guest so full of hatred and someone who has attacked me with such venom about bloody television.

As I said, I wasn’t going to mention this but I guess I have to. As you can see from today’s in their own words section, another guest took the time to address Mr ABCNBCCBSFOX’s complaint with a light smattering of wit………he knows about this guest because of what happened this morning at my Q&A session following the Barcelona and Cannes adventure talk.

I was in full flow, helping this guest with train timetabled from Cannes to Monte Carlo when Mr ABC, etc. etc. grabbed the microphone from Adele’s (entertainment staff) hand and said “Never mind that…why was there no American football on yesterday and why still no American TV stations?”…………..There were 200 people in the room and after he spat these words, he looked around the room as if he was expecting to be honored by an ovation from the crowd and that ladies would throw rose petals over him before offering themselves to him.

He got bugger all of that…………..and suddenly he realized he was Julius Cesar and the only thing that was going to happen was a good beating from everyone in the room.

“Sit down you idiot”………shouted one lady ……………..time to sort this out.

So, I gave the speech again…you know……..we are in Europe…..not the States…………and just as I was in the middle of this explanation, he took the microphone………….yes, he did …………. and threw it on the floor………….what a complete and utter beep, beep….beep beep…………………..and he stormed out of the room.

I stood there and thought about the word “stress”…………thought about chasing after him and inserting the microphone, the microphone stand and the entire public address system in his bottom……..but I didn’t….instead…….I apologized to the other guests and moved on.

I could have gone with a comedy angle but I didn’t know if he had family or friends in the room.

However, I did call the guest this afternoon and told him that I should charge him for the damage to the microphone…I didn’t want him to know that there wasn’t any….but hoped that thinking there was would soften him up a bit…. it did buggery.

TV is man’s life and as he told me what he thought of me, Carnival and the world and all with as much hatred in his voice as I would have if I was talking about ……… ummm ……. the French.

Seriously though, he listed the TV programs he was missing, he told me that his cruise was ruined and, unbelievably, he told me that he was going to call the newspapers when he returned to Buffalo…………….yep, I am sure that the Buffalo Times will not want to run a story about the credit crunch, Afghanistan or the forthcoming elections ………because they have an exclusive on the fact that Mr. ABC didn’t get to see Grey’s Bloody Anatomy.

I love TV, and I love American TV the best. I remember the first time I came to America from the UK.

Back then we only had three channels so being in a hotel, in America was amazing………..and I still find it so today. Flipping through channels gives me a strangely disembodied experience, like being psychically medicated.

Fishing through the complicated menu of cable channels to find something I actually want to see makes me thickheaded and incompetent with indecision. It was like shopping in one of those huge American mega-markets that sell absolutely everything in vast piles. I usually collapse onto the shiny shores of CNN or the comfort of repeats of old sitcoms. Every episode of Friends, Soap, M*A*S*H, The Golden Girls and Gilligan’s Island is available, all the time. Any moment now, everything ever made for television will be on tap instantly and forever.

As a Brit I am also fascinated by North American commercials and, in particular, the extraordinary number of commercials for medicine. And not just the regular pills for overindulgence and vanity, but for conditions I didn’t even know you could get. Did you know there were germs that borrow their way under your big toenail and cause unsightly discoloring? Well, if you have been wearing socks on the beach through embarrassment, then American television has got the drug for you.

And I love the way each medical thingy comes with a garbled PS of all the potential side effects. This sounds like one long word. Diarrhoearectalbleedingvomitingnauseanumbnessheadachesliverdamage.

But you needn’t be too concerned, because there will be a cure for them all coming along in a minute.

Anyway, I digress as usual. I have told Mr. ABC that there will be no network shows while we are in Europe and that’s that. Hopefully he will decide that European cruising is not for him and he can find something else to spend his money on…….like anger management classes …………….or a VCR.
Meet Lloyd and Miriam Fernley.

They were with me onstage today and gave myself and the audience a huge laugh ………….They have been married 58 years and this is how the conversation went ………… word…………..for word………….and…………it’s rated PG 17.

John – How did you meet?
Mrs. Fernley – We met at a dance hall in Albany New York.
John – To Mr Fernley – Was it love at first sight?
Mr Fernley – It must have been…….I banged her that night in the back seat of my ’56 Chevy Bel Aire

Goodnight
Your friends
John and Heidi and Megastud – Lloyd Fernley

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.