Witness To A Hat

October 9, 2008 -

John Heald

Morning all…………….let’s start with religion and hats.

Sent: Wednesday, October 08, 2008 10:57 PM
Subject: Request for Jehovah Witnesses gathering

Good evening John,

I’ve received a call from Mrs.________ who wanted an announcement for all Jehovah Witnesses to meet. She advised that she needed to meet with others as there was too much gambling and drinking on the ship and she needs to pray with others of her religion. She wants an announcement made. Can you contact the guest please?


OK, I going to have to be careful here and I certainly am not going to step into the world of criticizing any religion…………well………….maybe a little bit. I am a believer, however, as a youngster I was forced into church every Sunday, and made to read the Bible, which to was nearly as boring as those awful Shakespeare plays we read at school. Anyway, thanks to my Sunday mornings at church, I emerged from the chrysalis of puberty filled with a sometimes-overwhelming desire to slap the next person who told me that Jesus wanted me for a sunbeam.

Now though I realize that those Sunday mornings helped me become what I am today and hopefully also understand and respect that although many of us worship the same God…..we do it in many different ways.

So with this in mind, I called the guest who then took 40 minutes of my life explaining to me that I was corrupt and needed to be “saved.” She is disgusted that we have a casino, 14 bars and shows which according to the guest were “pornographic.”

While I apologized and showed my obvious concern, I did ask her if she had done any research on what taking a cruise meant. Did she not know that we had a casino and that alcohol was served? She admitted that she didn’t and that she should have checked before she had booked. However, she wanted to meet more people of the same religion and I will be arranging this for her on the next sea day.

I really don’t understand and I say this with respect………….how can you book a cruise vacation and not expect shows, casinos, drinking and having a good time to be part of the menu? I mean, it’s not exactly Sodom and Gomorrah

Here, most guests on this cruise are in bed with a cup of cocoa by 11 pm. But I can understand how she feels. It must be like a vegetablist being told they have to work in a slaughterhouse…………..or a man from Paris being told he has to shower on every day that ends in a Y………..or a cruise ship passenger being told that if they want a steak at dinner ……….they have to pay for it.

Let’s see if meeting other Jehovah Witnesses will help this lady have a somewhat better time…………..what is a little strange is that she is traveling with one other lady who is not of the same religion…………..I would have thought she would have said something. Anyway, I will let you know what happens.

Let’s move on to Hats.

Sent: Wednesday, October 08, 2008 11:04 PM
Subject: “Red hat” group comments

Evening again

And another request that you would probably find interesting. Mr and Mrs. from (cabin number) complained today that they were inconvenienced last night during the show because “Red Hat” ladies with big hats and feathers were sitting right in front of them. They did not want to move and the guests say that if they have them on tonight they will force them to take them off. Have a lovely evening,


Let’s get ready to rumble

Sometimes you have to laugh. You have to let out a huge belly wobbling rib-hurting laugh. I have this image in my mind of a 50-plus lady in a red hat and purple dress being attacked by the guests who complained who are Chinese Canadians in their 60s.

Good grief. I mean……….some of the hats do look like they belong on one of the Three Musketeers. But either move to the left or the right or ask very nicely if she will take it off……….and if she refuses…….set fire to it. I can’t believe I have to take care of this………but I will……and tonight I will ask these lovely ladies if we can have a hatless show. Spielberg could make a movie out of this……. “The Hunt for Red Hats in October.”

Here we are in Izmir, Turkey and the ship is virtually empty. Every tour to Ephesus was sold out this morning which meant we moved 2,000 people on shore excursions. The weather is perfect once again, with blue skies and 70 degrees of sun. I was here last season and touring Ephesus in 80- or 90-degree temperatures is tough and up there where there is no breeze, it is very hot. The only thing hotter than Ephesus in August is me ………..covered in baby oil wearing nothing but a British flag design thong……….and a smile……………calm down ladies, calm down.

I will show you some photos of Ephesus tomorrow as some of the staff are there as we speak. However, let’s return to Marmaris. The reports of how great this port was are still being heard and this morning during my Lido Deck breakfast. I had fun listening to what everyone was saying. And it was nothing but great things and I wish I had gone ashore now. Oh well………..these photos will have to do until next time and as usual we thank Jaime for sharing them

Meanwhile we sent Lauren for a Turkish bath, which is one of our excursions. While for obvious reasons we couldn’t photo her having the bath we certainly wanted to show you the amazing place where this tour takes place.

Some of you are new to my thingy and some of you who have been reading it since the start will have put it far from your thoughts. I am of course talking about my own experience with a Turkish bath which I highlighted last year. My mate Alan and I never speak of this experience but I feel it is my duty to share it with you one more time.

So, let’s go back to August 2007 and I should warn you…………it ain’t pretty.

OK, finally, here is something I am embarrassed to tell you. Today, in Istanbul I had one of the worst experiences of my life and it is all Alan fault. He wanted to go for a Turkish bath and somehow he caught me at weak moment and persuaded me to go with him………………..what a huge, degrading mistake.

I will just tell you this; I have never been beaten, slapped and spanked like this in my life. I thought I would have a man do this but the baths we went to …………oh know ………. it’s John……….lets bring out Fatima………..and with respect…………the name fit. She was a cross between a sumo wrestler and a bulldog and, although I am not one to cast dispersions about others……..she had a face like a bag of wrenches.

She poured buckets of soapy, slimy water over me and then brought out a broom……..yes a broom……….and started scrubbing me down like a bloody elephant at the zoo …….. The water was tepid at first then came the freezing cold stuff. If I was an elephant, thanks to the cold water………… I was one without a trunk.

Then she threw me (yep, she literally picked me up like a sack of feathers) onto a marble slab and then got this hosepipe thing and started shoving it in places that are usually EXIT ONLY.

Then it’s scrub, wash, soap, slap, and smack for the next 20 minutes. After the beating, she started giving me some kind of massage on my neck and as those two hands mauled me like a groping teenager ………I started to cry…………I said “stop, it hurts” …………. but the beast just smiled and kept going.

From across the room I heard Alan crying like a baby and through my pain that was the only thing that kept me going……….he was in as much pain as me.

Finally, after 45 minutes of which can only be described as “humiliating,” I dressed and as I left Fatima held out her huge King Kong-like hand for a tip. I really wanted to shove the brush she had used somewhere…….but instead and in fear of another pasting I gave her 10 euros and ran away………….very fast.

Alan and I are clean, cleaner than we have ever been before. We both said we would never speak of this subject again but I had to share this with you in case any of you are thinking of taking a Turkish bath. Maybe there are different types, but for me I would rather be stuck in an elevator for 24 hours three naked men from Paris who has eaten nothing but eggs for the last month.

One more thing, tonight, as I walked backstage some of the water from the hose that had been placed up. Well you know where, decided to come out and I had to go back to the cabin and change………..Fatima it seemed, would be with me for some time to come.

If you remember, we changed itinerary this week and canceled Katakolon so that we could still go to Naples…………remember the port was not open to us on Monday. Instead, we went to Messina…………canceled Katakolon and we will go to Naples on the 14th.

I explained this very carefully and we have not had one ………..not one…… negative comment about this…………well………none apart from this one.


Mr _________came to the purser’s desk in regards to filing a complaint about the itinerary change. Purser explained to Mr _______ that we reserve the right to change the itinerary at any time. Purser showed Mr ________ the original itinerary and explained that the only difference is that Katakolon was replaced with Messina, and the days are switched. Mr _________ kept insisting that his cruise was cut short to 10 and a half days. Purser explained that his cruise started on Oct 5, and will end on Oct 17. Mr ___said that we are in Civitavecchia for 2 days so that means his cruise is cut short. Purser told Mr _______ that we were always supposed to be overnight in Civitavecchia. Mr _______ told the purser that they were of no help, and he started to shout and scream. Purser had no choice but to ask guest to leave the desk and return when he was calm. Guest refused. Purser called Supervisor and 1st Purser again tried to explain that the overnight stay in Civitavecchia has always been part of the voyage. Guest said that he had been told by his Travel Agent that the ship would go to Venice. Purser said that this voyage did not include Venice as a port. Guest started shouting again and demanding a refund of one day of the cruise. Guest then walked away from the desk saying he was contacting his lawyer. Letter of apology sent. Nothing further.

So, we have one lady who had no idea that the ship would have alcohol, shows and a casino onboard and one chap who thinks we have stolen a day from his cruise and that we are going to Venice. …………sometimes………I have absolutely bugger all to say.

Let’s talk about the island Grand Turk which suffered some dreadful hurricane damage last month. Well, with Carnival Corporation’s help and support, the beautiful facilities at the Grand Turk Cruise Center are back to their best. It was only fitting, therefore, that the first ship they welcomed back was the Carnival Destiny.

Here is the some information and photos.


The Grand Turk Cruise Center – closed since the passing of Hurricane Ike last month – today welcomed its first cruise ship, the 2,642-passenger Carnival Destiny.

Carnival Destiny guests had an opportunity to swim in the facility’s massive swimming pool, relax on an 800-foot-long private beach, and dine at the on-site Margaritaville restaurant and lounge. The facility’s various shops were open, as well.

Numerous shore excursions were also available, including Gibbs Key tour, dune buggy rentals, swimming with horses, and fishing and snorkeling expeditions. The previously offered hop on/hop off bus tour is currently operating as a post-hurricane island tour. Guests are charged a nominal fee for the tour and provided with a pledge card should they wish to donate to the United Way’s Grand Turk hurricane relief fund.

Shipboard employees are also participating in a beach clean-up initiative to assist in the island’s recovery.

The $60 million Grand Turk Cruise Center opened in 2006 and has become one of the cruise industry’s most popular Caribbean cruise destinations. The 13-acre facility serves as a gateway to the pristine island of Grand Turk, which in addition to magnificent beaches, is world renowned for diving, snorkeling, fishing and other watersports.

Princess Cruises’ Crown Princess is the next cruise ship to call at the Grand Turk Cruise Center on Oct. 10.

It’s a great port and I am very much looking forward to seeing it again very soon.

Now, as you know I will be visiting the Carnival Fantasy next month to talk to Big Tex the cruise director about the forthcoming Bloggers Cruise and to see for myself the brilliant additions and upgrades she has received……..that’s the ship………..not Big Tex.

Here though is a preview to this as we read all about what has happened in the big man’s own words. Here then………Big Tex.

John and the Bloggers-

I’ve just returned to the Fantasy after the extensive Evolutions of Fun upgrade and the only word I can think to describe the ship is…WOW!

The only logical place to start is at the top, the open decks. The new Lido Deck is very impressive. The main pool area, the Lido dining area and the poolside dining options have all been upgraded.

I didn’t realize how much more open the deck would be without the slide, but it is a vast space. The new lighting and accents make it the perfect place to spend those sunny days at sea. The palm trees around the deck give it such a tropical feel, you can’t help but relax the second you walk through there.

The slide was torn down to make way for Carnival WaterWorks on Verandah Deck, aft. If you have kids or even if you’re a big kid at heart you’re going to love this area. With racing slides and the Carnival Twister Waterslide, there’s fun and excitement everywhere you turn.

The Serenity Deck is beautiful. I think this space is absolutely brilliant. Carnival is truly a family vacation, but sometimes the grown-ups want a place all to themselves. Serenity is the answer. Designated exclusively as adults only, it’s a tranquil and peaceful escape from the sights and sounds of everyday life.

The new Lido dining options will have your mouth watering. Of course, the old favorites are there — pizza, deli, Taste of the Nations, the grille and the Grand Buffet, but the two new additions are making me re-think my diet. First, the Mongolian BBQ. This is where you pick all of your ingredients from the buffet (fresh vegetables, noodles and meat) and then one of our chefs will stir-fry it before your very eyes with your favorite sauce. It’s hot, fresh and DELICIOUS. Second, we’ve added the rotisserie. This is the place where guests can enjoy roasted meats every day, chicken, beef, lamb and more. The real highlight for me though is the sides. On Monday they had baked macaroni and cheese as well as smashed redskin potatoes. I think I ate a whole tray!

Moving to the inside of the ship, all of the carpet has been re-done. The guest corridors underwent a major design project and are really something to see. The brighter colors on the walls make the space seem so much bigger and inviting. There’s new artwork on the walls and around the ship and many of the cabins received new furniture and fixtures.

We’ve added Circle “C” for the 12-14 year olds. They now have their own space. For those familiar with the Fantasy Class layout, Circle “C” is where the card room used to be. The work on Club O2 and Camp Carnival was completed in the previous dry dock which means our entire youth facilities have now be re-designed. They’re the perfect place for your little ones.

The Promenade deck was re-finished in a previous dry dock as were most of the public lounges. However, the disco was just re-done and it is really a beautiful room. I don’t normally go to the disco (I sweat a lot and dancing doesn’t help that), but this room is so cool, I think even I’m going to start hanging out in there.

One of the final major upgrades was the restaurants. Both the Celebration and Jubilee Dining Rooms have been re-designed. They are decorated in a very cool, art-deco kind of style and I really think we’ve increased the appeal of eating in the main dining room.

All in all, the ship is gorgeous. Carnival’s dedication to upgrading the Fantasy Class ships is truly paying off. The new spaces are a perfect addition to a “Fun Ship” cruise. The décor is classic, understated, and beautiful. The new dining options provide something for everyone.

I’m quite certain that my words didn’t do it justice, but the Evolutions of Fun upgrade is stunning. They say a photo is worth a thousand words, so here a few thousand more words for you to enjoy.

We look forward to welcoming each of you to the new and improved Carnival Fantasy this February.

See you soon,

Big Tex

Thanks mate. We all look forward to seeing you as cruise director on the Bloggers Cruise and anyone who is looking for the perfect short getaway then look no further than the Carnival Fantasy.

Oh, and while I remember and in case I forget let me wish the Canadians a Happy Thanksgiving for the 13th. I know it’s your Thanksgiving Day because I received a letter signed by dozens of Canadians asking politely for turkey and pumpkin pie for dinner that night. I asked the chef, as it’s not on our menu, and he has agreed to provide the food. This had me thinking. We carry lots of Canadians on every ship…………why don’t we have this as part of our service………let me find out.

Anyway, here at least it will be turkey — the day after leaving Turkey…………and Happy Thanksgiving.

Well. Heidi’s emotions are running overtime and, of course, like a good husband I have to put up with them. I sat there last night watching her eat a cheese sandwich, which is normal but what wasn’t normal was the fact that nestling amongst the cheese was a big dollop……….of peanut butter…………….I have no words.

So as my wife chomped down on her late-night snack she told me that we were going to turn off the computer and watch a movie and, of course…..she’s pregnant………..I am not……….so once again she got to choose. Heidi had recently as I reported made me watch Sex and the Shitty and I didn’t think anything could be worse…..but there is …….. Cold Mountain.

I am not going to tell you the agony I went through as I watched last night but what I will talk about was the interview afterwards. I often find that the DVD extras are better than the movies and, while Heidi was washing away the tears and getting ready for her and the thingy to go to bed, I watched an interview with the director …Anthony Minghella or someone.

He’s a Brit and was explaining that he shot the movie in Transylvania because these days North Carolina, the actual location of Cold Mountain, is “too full of golf courses.”

This isn’t true. North Carolina is a spectacular place with many smoky mountains, frothy rivers and spooky forests. It was the setting for Deliverance which, like Cold Mountain, needed huge vistas to give a sense of scale. But I don’t recall catching a glimpse of Tiger Woods wandering around as Ned Beatty was being introduced to the local customs and being told to squeal like a piggy.

Nevertheless, Minghella insists that he went to Romania because the Carpathian Mountains more accurately reflect America in the 1860s. I guess that means there aren’t any Big Mac wrappers flowing in the wind. Certainly the 1,200 Transylvanian extras he hired for the battle scenes were more realistic. Of course it had nothing to do that he probably paid each extra $1 a day and a hot dog. Who cares? I certainly didn’t mind where Cold Mountain had been filmed or how much the extras had been paid. I just thought it was one of the longest films I’d ever seen and it played havoc with my hemorrhoids.

Such is my life

Your friends
John, Heidi and the 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.