"My John" And One Last Bubba

October 8, 2008 -

John Heald

Let me set the scene for part one of today’s blog thingy with a true story……….and yep…………it’s a true story. Heidi and I were in the car a few years ago. We were sitting behind a car at a stop light and I noticed that it had a bumper sticker that read “Honk if you support British Troops.” So as I did……… I honked the horn and we were very surprised when the driver of the car got out and yelled, “The light is still red, you ar%^hole!.” He then proceeded to get back into the car and drove off through the light, which had just turned green.

And that’s how I feel this morning. You think you are doing something that is good and then you suddenly find out that it was perceived in a very different way.
I had received a letter from a guest. Here it is.

So, as I do with all “Dear John” letters I receive I read this out on the morning show and included some words of sympathy and encouragement. I also sent Betty a fruit basket and a signed photo of the ship with some words of sympathy.

Well, last night I received this.

Guest: ————Ref: 002715247A
Cabin: _____ Booking#: _______ Added-Changed: 10/07/08 – 10/07/08


Mrs._______ came to the desk to ask to speak to cruise director. Guest said that he had upset her mother during the show and she was crying. Purser called cruise director who was at the show. Purser arranged a meeting after the show at the cruise director’s request. Guest left the desk. Tasked to cruise director.

I had no idea what had upset the lady, I thought it may have been a joke or something I had said at the welcome aboard show. I had no idea that it was in reference to the letter I had read out that morning……..but it was.

So, after the show I met with the guest who is the daughter of the lady who wrote the note to me about “her John.” She told me how upset her mother was because of what I had said. Not that I had read the letter out……..but that I had said “I am sure you miss him very much and that we should all be as lucky to be together with the one we love for 62 years and that we will be thinking of Betty today.”

Those were my exact words……I know this because I just watched the re-run on the TV. Well, Betty found these words upsetting and had been crying all day and now her daughter was upset at me…..and for the life of me I couldn’t understand what I had done wrong.

But, that didn’t matter and I needed to fix the problem so I asked her daughter if I could meet with Betty. And I did.

We sat in the lobby and she told me that it was the first time that she had been on vacation without him and that my words made it sound like “she should forget about him.” I realised that my words had nothing………nothing to do with what I said………it was simply………that she missed him.

So, I sat with Betty fro 30 minutes and she told me about “her John” and how he had served in the US Army for 18 years and had then worked as a civil engineer. She told me they had raised four children and how he loved to listen to jazz music. ………….she cried again…………as I held her hand.

Anyway, we left as friends and I asked Betty if I could pay tribute to “her John “on my blog. She didn’t understand what that was so I explained and assured her that her story was one that she should share and that the more people who new about “her John” and she agreed. And so I apology to Betty for upsetting her and, at her request, I pay tribute to “her John” who I am sure right now is watching over her.

What a beautiful day and if you didn’t know what port we were in and I asked you to look outside and guess I am positive you would never guess Turkey. Maramaris is as “western” as you could get.
There isn’t a mosque in sight and looking at the modern red-topped buildings and five-star hotels, you would think you were nestled in a little French Riviera port like St. Tropez or Cannes. There are huge private yachts bobbing in the harbor where the rich and tanned have just awoken for breakfast…………at 1 pm. Trying to imagine what life for them must be like is as pointless as an investment banker ironing five shirts on a Sunday evening.

Anyway, the locals seem very pleased to see us and are handing out roses to every lady as they disembark. There is also a musician providing local music. Now, he probably didn’t expect anyone to be dancing with him this morning but the Chinese Canadian guests who will dance to anything…….really……….they love to dance – and they have even been known to dance to the music in our elevators – and decided to have a little dance on the pier this morning.

Anyway, I snapped a few photos this morning including some of the pier, a ship coming in close to our stern and the beautiful harbor of Marmaris, Turkey

Now meet Mr and Mrs. Demel…………..honeymooners and very much in love. I met them last night and Florence proudly showed me her new diamond wedding ring. She met Bill only four months ago and, after a few weeks of a whirlwind romance, they were married. Here they are on their honeymoon.

Here is a photo of Florence showing me her ring and one of her and her new love Bill. …….oh, Bill is 84 and Florence is 82……….and……………..they are precious beyond words.

OK, let’s say hello one last time to Chris “Bubba” Roberts. Here is his final Hawaiian report.

The Hawaii Reposition – Kona, Honolulu Day 1 & the End for now…

Morning came quickly as I we arrived into Kona. We were dropping the anchor around 7 am this morning, and had tenders ready to go about 7:30 am. We had a very smooth tender operation for the morning. More smooth than I have seen in a long time. I think most people maybe had to wait about 10 – 15 minutes from when they collected their tender sticker to when they were called for boarding. The Carnival Spirit uses its own tenders in the ports of call because most of the places we go do not have a local tender service. At around 10:30 am I made a general clearance announcement as we had about 1,500 guests off the ship and little less that 700 still on board.

I was not able to go ashore today as I had a meeting and I needed to finish working on the Capers for the next Hawaii cruise. Perhaps on the next voyage I will be able to go out in Kona.

After an uneventful day in the office, I made my final preparations for the debarkation talk. We do the talk at 7:30 pm on this night as everyone is on board (some folks leave us the first day in Honolulu, and some leave on the second day). So it’s best to get everyone ready in advance.

The talk was well attended. Although a quiet audience during the talk, they did give the crew a standing ovation at the end. I kept my promise of 30 minutes or less for the talk and there weren’t too many questions — only a lot of praise for the trip.

Made my brief appearance in the show on this night…..Legends. So I put on my dress and did my dance.

The next day was our first day in Honolulu. I decided that I wanted to see the Dole pineapple plantation. Love pineapple, and thought it would be fun. So my assistant cruise director Kirk and entertainment hosts Katie and Izzy joined me for the adventure.

Inside the facility they had all things pineapple. In one of the corners they were doing a carving demonstration of pineapples. As we went out the back of the main building, we found there were two major things to do. One, was to ride the “Pineapple Express” and the other was to go into their “world’s largest garden maze.”

On this miniature train we had about a 20-minute ride through the plantation to see how they plant and harvest the pineapple. We also learned about Mr. Dole who founded the company and how it progressed in history. From the train ride we went over to the garden maze and had a go at finding the eight secret areas of the maze. We only found one before calling it quits. But it was still fun.

After the plantation we made a stop over on the North Shore in order to check out the Banzai pipeline surfers, but, unfortunately, there were no big waves today, just beautiful beaches. So made the trip back to the ship and now I am back on board checking on what’s going on with our last day of this cruise. I will probably go out to Waikiki later tonight, but we will see what happens. Tomorrow morning we will have the turnaround day where these folks will debark and will get our new guests.

It’s been fun and hopefully I have given you all a good idea on what it’s like to do one of our Hawaiian cruises. If I do anything cool on the next voyage, I will drop John a line. Thanks again and see you around… Mahalo.

Please join me in thanking Chris for taking the time to write those wonderful reports. I didn’t ask him to do it he just volunteered and that is one of the many reasons that make Chris such a great chap and a great friend. Thanks, Bubba, and next time I see you lunch at the Waffle House is on me.

Yesterday I showed you some amazing photos of the Queen Elizabeth 2. These were sent in by a blogger and by Ms. Carol Marlow.

Now our good friend Peter Shanks has sent me these two incredible photos. Here they are with commentary from Peter.

Now that is what you call a ship – pictures taken in recent days by Royal Navy who came to pay their respects.

Best Regards


Thanks Peter for those everlasting memories.

Well, I didn’t get to go ashore today; in fact, I can’t remember the last time I did. I am still awash with guilt that I am leaving the ship. Jen Baxter is here and quite honestly she reminds me of …well…………me…………15 years ago. She is full of energy, stays up late and gets up early and is going to do a great job for the 12 days she is here.

I am making sure she knows everything and has everything she needs. She is very confident although I think she sees the task of holding her travel talks is a big one ………… as she said today……….”There’s a big difference to talking about a snorkel tour in Nassau and a tour to Ephesus.”

Anyway, I know she will do brilliantly. Meanwhile, I am preparing the schedules and ground work for Swan…………sorry Duck………..I mean Goose……. who will be here for the trans-Atlantic crossing. I know he will also be fabulous and I just want to make sure I have helped both Jen and Flamingo……bugger…..Goose ……..as much as I can.

This pregnancy thing is very strange. I find myself telling Heidi what to do and what to eat. I told her today that eating a spring roll may not be good for the thingy……..she replied that wobbly-bellied men who have never eaten a lentil in their life should say bugger all.

Then this morning Heidi felt nauseous and had a little sickness. I told her it may not be morning sickness but caffeine withdrawal and in the middle of cluster bombing the toilet she told me ………in Dutch……….to “boil in hell.”

It’s not just us, it’s others. Today, I had an e-mail from a colleague back in Miami who asked how the baby was……….this is probably a normal question and probably meant is everyone healthy…..but to me it seemed a crazy one to ask. ……..I wanted to write back “How the hell do I know? I don’t wear X-ray specs and I don’t have an ultrasound scanner on my desk. For all I know, the thingy could be mutating into a ninja turtle”. …………but I just wrote back that all was well.

Anyway, I see that some of you are asking if you can send cards and stuff for the thingy. I am going to give you a P.O. Box in the UK soon………..you really don’t have to send anything………your thoughts and kind wishes are more than enough………unless you want to hire me a Bentley or Aston Martin……..the thingy would like that.

Not to keep going on about this credit crunch thingy but I have to add one more thing then I promise to bugger off and not talk about if for at least two days. So today, a little concerned I decided to call my Barclays bank branch to get some assurance that my 39 pounds worth of savings was safe.

So, I dialed the number in the UK and for some reason I must have gone into a trance when I called because instead of getting Sonia from the Southend branch I got Bimal from the Bombay branch
I was then put on hold and had to listen to a four-year-old playing a piano, punctuated with a sinisterly smooth voice telling me they’re doing ALL they can to answer my call, although the one method they never quite get round to trying is to pick up the sodding phone. How the hell are they going to solve the world’s credit problems when they haven’t even learnt how to answer a bloody phone?

The other day I spoke about a couple I was talking to who had cruised on many other lines but never with Carnival. This was because they had heard that we were a company designed for party people……….people who would spend the days drinking and the night drinking even more. The food was dreadful and their tablemates at dinner would be likely to vomit all over you while their heads spun 360 degrees. They were wrong………and they regretted listening to others.

So did Megan.

John –
I went on my first cruise eight years ago. It was on RCCL’s Sovereign of the Seas. I was told that I had to go on RCCL as Carnival was a “party boat” full of college kids and trashy types. I was young (26) and didn’t know any better. The food was terrible, the cabin was tiny and the average age of my fellow cruisers was at least 30 years older than me. I had a nice time but wasn’t hooked on cruising, and it’s probably easy to see why. I figured all cabins we small and the food was a quantity not quality type of thing.
Fast forward 7.5 years and I decide to try another cruise for our extended family of 18. A friend of mine had recently sailed on Carnival and she recommended it highly. I was surprised. She’s older than me and she doesn’t seem like a partier or trashy. So I asked my travel agent and she said Carnival had a reputation years ago for being a “party ship” but it really wasn’t warranted. She had a lot of positive things to say so, while leery, I booked a Carnival cruise.
As I’ve mentioned before, I stepped off the Miracle six days ago and I regret it…stepping off that is. I should have stowed away in lifeboat 24 like Big Sexy told me to. I had a wonderful time, the room was spacious for my husband, our two little girls and me and the food was wonderful.
I’m sure I’m not the only person that has heard in the past about Carnival’s reputation of being a “party ship” (like that’s a bad thing!). I really think that Carnival should get the message out there that some preconceived notions that people have about the Fun Ships are just plain wrong. And I will tell you that some travel agents are perpetuating the myth.
I am in the midst of planning another cruise with Carnival. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to do it the first time and I wish I hadn’t listening to someone else’s stuffy opinion. But I think you should know that those opinions are out there, and sadly, probably more than you think. And definitely more than Carnival deserves.

Megan…………..I want to say thank you for this wonderful comment. You know, I never thought I would like sushi. My friends told me it tasted like eating a dead fish from a marathon runners sock. I listened to them………..for years…….and eventually I tried a piece. And he was right……….it’s disgusting and I would sooner eat fried baboon poo ….on toast…………than sushi.

But the point is that people aren’t always right and all I ask is that people make up their own minds before commenting. I have no idea how, or why this RCI is better than Carnival thingy happened. I have been at sea for 21 years. I have docked next to the “whatever of the Seas” and looked at the people walking of their gangways. They are exactly the same as you and I…………line 200 hundred people up on the pier in Cozumel and choose who is on the “Something Of The Seas” or the “Carnival Something” and I guarantee you won’t be able to tell. OK, the Carnival guests may be smiling more because they have not had to pay for a steak at dinner but apart from that……..there is no difference. I am sure many people who have cruised with us have cruised with them.

So, if someone says to you “Don’t cruise with Carnival because they are this or they are that”………….don’t listen to them…………try it for yourself……….give us a chance and I promise……..I mean, I personally promise…….you will not regret it. Today’s Carnival is better than ever and I have a chance these next few weeks to make sure that tomorrow’s Carnival…………is even better.

Your friends
John, Heidi and Thingy

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.