A Tribute To Doctor Plastic

October 28, 2008 -

John Heald

Well, we just finished another two-hour meeting about the Philadelphia thingy and it is going to be something very special. I will chat more about that later but first ……………… let’s talk music. It was decided that we would have amongst a host of entertainment features…………a Jimmy Buffet tribute band………and that ……………..got me thinking.

I am a huge Pink Floyd fan as I am sure are many of you and for me Dark Side of the Moon should be on everyone’s “must have” list of albums. I always lived in hope that a Pink Floyd reunion tour would someday be announced but these hopes were dashed recently by the death of the keyboard player Rick Wright. Oh, sure, the remaining members could still settle their differences, find another keyboard player and get back on the road but, and here’s the thing, would I go? Would I be watching Pink Floyd? Or nothing more than a facsimile of the outfit that provided a soundtrack to my life thus far?

We see much the same thing today with Queen. Or “the Queen,” as they are often referred to here in the States. They’re out there now, screaming “Galileo, Galileo” as another Queen classic bites the dust. But is it Queen without Freddie Mercury ……………. nope……………..it’s like watching the Dukes of Hazzard when the two cousins took over from Bo and Luke………….it just didn’t seem right.

Today, I’m told, the Four Tops continue to tour except only one is an original Top; the band really ought to be called A Top and Some Other Guys. There are 27 bands touring the world called The Platters and. As you may know, I am a very big Who enthusiast but I never got see them live………….I always wanted to though. But then Keith Moon shot into the next life through a puddle of vomit and then it never seemed the same.

Heidi insists that there is plenty of fresh talent coming along to replace the dinosaurs. She is wrong. I certainly wouldn’t pay even so much as one dollar to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who, so far as I’m concerned, could not make a worse sound if they spent an hour beating a flock of electrocuted sheep against the side of a giant beach ball. Rap is spelt with a silent “C ” and Limp Cookie and Christina Aguilera are proof positive that sometimes there just isn’t enough vomit in the world.

I want to see Led Zeppelin and Bad Company and Deep Purple. I want to see Stevie Winwood and Eric Clapton and Supertramp and The Eagles. But I have the most horrible feeling that I’ve already seen them all for the last time.

There is, however, a solution………………………tribute bands……………….which many people seem to have a problem with…the question is…………why?

When people with beards go to see Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony in Thingy Major, no one is ever disappointed to find that it isn’t actually the man himself on conducting.

In fact, when you stop and think about it, the New York Symphony Orchestra is a tribute band. It simply turns up and plays music written by someone else.

So why can’t we encourage this sort of thing among today’s youngsters who wish to forge a career in the world of rock’n’roll? Instead of asking them to write their own material, which will be puke inducing, we should ask them to interpret work by the masters: Sabbath, Van Halen and so on.

And so, we won’t be getting the real “Jimmy Buffet,” but I bet this band will be excellent and as the old rock stars continue to fade away and die…………….for my generation these bands may be the only way we will ever get to experience this unforgettable music.

And so, good afternoon everyone from a comical Miami where today the temperature is just 65 degrees and everyone is wearing coats and scarves and acting as though they are exploring the south face of Mount Everest.

I am sitting in my hotel room where I have to admit I spent a really lonely night. When you are on the ship there are people around you all the time. There is always someone to talk to and always something you need to do. Last night I returned to an empty hotel room and as I sat there with only election coverage for company…………………….I cried………………OK, I didn’t cry but I did feel a little alone.

All my friends in the office have homes and families and responsibilities and I certainly don’t expect them to drop everything for me………………however…………..last night I missed Heidi more than ever.
Heidi is doing fine, by the way, and took the opportunity of me being here to buy a new suite of furniture. Some of you may remember that I spilled something on our sofa last year and, despite all my rescue efforts, the stain remained. And so it was that yesterday Heidi went shopping and, despite the world being in recession……we have a new sofa ……………bugger.

Anyway, there was bugger all on TV last night and I ended up watching a program all about Conspiracy Theories. I’ve always assumed the pleasure in a conspiracy is in being part of an enlightened secret minority whose members can feel superior. The program stated most Americans under 40 believe the moon shots were tricked up by the CIA and NASA, and that there were Soviet hit men all over the grassy knoll in Dallas, and that Elvis did anything except expire.

To me, it seemed not so much a conspiracy theory as a collective load of bollocks. Still, considering that every other channel was showing election coverage including MTV, which had Pimp My Presidential Limo………. I was lucky to find one channel that wasn’t showing the race for the White House. Now, again…………..please don’t worry………….I am not going to start getting political and state who I hope wins……….I am going to say I miss the humor of the old guard.

The world is a serious place to live in and there is no more serious job in the world then President of the United States…………but humor……well that shows the human side ………….and if the world sees that its leaders have a sense of humor and are not stiffer than a 2 by 4……..then the world will have a laugh with them. I know that’s a very naive way of thinking…………but laughter is a great medicine.

I loved Ronald Regan…………..I loved Bill Clinton………….not from a political standpoint but from the fact that both could have been cruise directors as our recent poll showed. Only in America are presidents required to be funny once a year at that dinner thingy………..I can’t remember it’s official name but you know……its the one where they have to crack jokes or do a song a dance routine in front of the press…………..can’t remember what it’s called.

Anyway, I remember a clip I saw years ago looking back on Reagan’s life and at one of these dinners he said “I’ve been around so long, I can remember when a hot story broke and reporters would run in yelling, ‘Stop the chisels.’”…………….or something like that. Anyway, I hope whoever wins that they find time to smile and show us that it’s OK to have fun.

Talking of fun I hope some of you will be able to join me for our Philadelphia fun day. We will be attempting to break another world record as we break the world’s largest Pinyarda……….Pinjader…………you know what I mean. This thing is over 60 feet high and obviously having a few five-year-olds beat it with a twig isn’t going to have the tons of candy that’s inside come crashing to the floor……..so, we are going to break it in typical fun Carnival style…………………..and if you can, you need to come and watch this live. There will be free food and ice cream and special events, shows and activities featuring Carnival entertainment staff and a special appearance by the world’s most famous interactive street performers…………”G – Force.”

We will be giving away 5 balcony cruises on the Carnival Pride and, of course, there will be a chance to actually appear in the commercial that it is being shot for TV.

Now, the event opens at 11:30 am ………and it will all take place under a huge 5,000 square foot tent thingy. However………….the only people who will be allowed in early will be you……………I will be there at 10:30am to meet all the bloggers for coffee and doughnuts provided by the world’s best doughnut company Crispy Dunkins………………..I will give you a tour, have a chat and make sure you are all the first to sign up for the cruise sweepstakes and to appear on TV………..now………….you will need a password………..to get by security……………so at 10:30am you can come into the tent if you shout……not whisper….shout at the top of your voice…….. “I Love John’s Thingy”

I have instructed the staff not to allow anyone to enter unless they do shout these words at the entrance to the tent………………..see you there…………….come and have some fun. Stephanie will confirm the address and parking information tomorrow.

Now onto the bloggers cruise and here is the official press release about the charity we will be supporting.


Working with City’s Beacon of Hope Resource Center, ‘Bloggers Cruise’ Participants to Help Spruce Up Neighborhood in Big Easy

MIAMI – Participants in the second “John Heald Bloggers Cruise” – taking place aboard the newly refurbished Carnival Fantasy from New Orleans in February 2009 – will not only enjoy five fun-filled days sailing with the popular senior cruise director, but they can also make a difference in the lives of local residents.

The “Bloggers Cruise Community Service Day” will take place in New Orleans on Friday, Feb. 6, 2009, the day prior to the departure of the second annual cruise – a five-day voyage to Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico, operating Feb. 7-12, 2009.

Partnering with the city’s Beacon of Hope Resource Center, “Bloggers Cruise Community Service Day” participants will clear debris and plant trees, helping to spruce up a neighborhood in New Orleans that sustained significant damage from Hurricane Katrina.

Carnival is also partnering with Maison St. Charles Hotel & Suites to provide one- and two-night pre-cruise land stays at special rates for “Bloggers Cruise Community Service Day” participants.

“I invite everyone to join me in helping the people of New Orleans and we look forward to working with the Beacon of Hope Resource Center in helping to beautify this magnificent city,” Heald said. “Once on board, we’ll enjoy Carnival Fantasy’s ‘Evolutions of Fun’ upgrades, as well as special events and shows just for my blogging friends. It’s going to be a brilliant cruise and I can’t wait to see you there,” he added.

Added Heather Huth, director of volunteers for the Beacon of Hope Resource Center, “Our goal is to create an environment that encourages our residents to return home. Although we are proud of how far we’ve come, there is still a long way to go. We are always in need of volunteer service and truly appreciate Carnival’s role in New Orleans’ continued recovery efforts.”

Following the hands-on charity activity, “Bloggers Cruise Community Service Day” participants will be the guests of honor at a cocktail reception hosted by Heald which will serve as a kick-off event for the voyage.

During the five-day cruise on Carnival Fantasy, Heald will host a number of exclusive events, including a Welcome Aboard reception, trivia contests, question-and-answer sessions and even an exclusive “Tea Time with John” session.

Special photo opportunities with Heald will be available as well. A variety of special giveaways and logo items also will be provided to all “Bloggers Cruise” participants, and Heald will, of course, be submitting posts to his blog throughout the voyage.

Carnival Fantasy was selected as the venue for the second “Bloggers Cruise” as it is the latest “Fun Ship” ship to undergo all phases of the line’s “Evolutions of Fun” refurbishment program, which has resulted in a total transformation of the 2,056-passenger SuperLiner.

The upgrades include a “Carnival WaterWorks” aqua park with a 300-foot-long water slide, dual-lane 82-foot-long racing slides and various water spray apparatus, along with “Serenity,” an adults-only retreat located aft and featuring comfortable chaise lounges and chairs and two oversized whirlpools.

The mid-ship pool was renovated and now offers a distinctly tropical ambiance, with thatched roofing, colorful umbrellas and other design elements. These renovations complement the first phase of the program, which included extensive refurbishments to a variety of public areas, as well as all staterooms and suites.

Reservations are currently being accepted for the Bloggers Cruise aboard the Carnival Fantasy Feb. 7-12, 2009, as well as the pre-cruise land stay at the Maison St. Charles Hotel & Suites. Participants must request fare code CPBL/FPBL when booking the cruise to be included in the 2009 Bloggers Cruise events.

For additional information and reservations, contact any travel agent, call
1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com.

Thanks to Vance for his help with this and again I hope as many of you will come and join me.

Once the Philadelphia event is over, we will turn our attention to some other blogging events we’re considering, including the possibility of hosting a couple of cruises on the Carnival Dream. Hope to have more details soon.

Just a reminder to have a look at the blog or at carnival.com/funcrowd for the videos from Dallas which have appeared on MSNBC, CNN and many of the morning TV shows across America………….did anyone see it where you are?………………….we would love to know.

So, tomorrow at 2 pm – 4 pm, I will be hosting a Q&A session live right here on the blog. With me will be some people from air sea and reservations should anyone who had booked Carnival Liberty cruises have any concerns and needs my help. Just go to the blog and Stephanie will leave instructions on what to do. You can also write if you have any questions about anything at all…………..hope to hear from you.

Here then is Jaime’s latest adventure from the Carnival Splendor.

Dear John,

Today on the Carnival Splendor we experienced another Fun Day at Sea. This morning I woke up early to make sure to print out and deliver the college football scores from yesterday’s games to the guests that had expressed interest. While sailing in Europe, our satellite does not receive American channels, so all of us sports fans rely on the summaries online to envision our favorite teams victories or upsets from their most recent face offs. After finding out these scores first thing in the morning, I couldn’t help but smirk all day long because of Michigan State’s victory! GO GREEN!

Jen’s stint as Cruise Director on the Carnival Splendor is coming to an end, her debarkation talk was brilliant this morning, and just before its conclusion the port side of the ship got an incredible view of Filicdui and Alicdui – which are just off of Sicily. I brought my ship on a stick out to the deck three portside and played “Guess the Landmass” with all of the people taking pictures. Unfortunately, no one knew what it was so we simply resorted to asking one of the officers that was also on deck. Don’t worry; he did get to keep the trophy.

During my afternoon music trivia session, I was approached by an older gentleman who was unhappy about the volume of the music on the Lido deck. I turned it down as per his request, but he sternly informed me that response was not good enough. He even said “no one on this ship ::insert swear word here:: listens!”

Now, I understand that as an entertainment host I can not please everybody (even thought I do try my hardest), BUT approaching a host by yelling at them when they are trying to conduct an activity may not be the best way to go about getting your desired result. I apologized to the gentlemen and said I would speak with him in a few moments, and I informed him where the quiet areas of the ship were.

I also told him about where relaxing spots on board were located, and also to be sure to always check your Caper before you decide where to spend your afternoon! At least the other 100 guests playing the trivia complimented the activity and told me the volume was perfect. In this situation I like to refer back to my elementary school teachings: majority rules. Sorry, sir!

I would like to take this space to respond to one comment on John’s Blog:
  October 25th, 2008 at 10:20 pm
Hmmm, I can’t help but wonder… does Jaime actually work? It almost seems like she has “worked” her way out of it.

Jeff, thanks for your e-mail. I thought it might be helpful to provide some details on the responsibilities of Carnival’s entertainment staff members. Typically during a sea day I am hosting activities on stage for somewhere between 4 and 6 hours. While I am not hosting, I have many other responsibilities that have been delegated by the cruise director and assistant cruise director, some of these jobs include:

Ordering materials such as paper, sail and sign receipts, trophies, uniforms and games for the library (the list goes on and on) from the storeroom, picking them up and delivering them.

Operating the Interactive Television guest messaging system for our department. This allows guests to use their cabin televisions to see what is going on around the ship, and read bios and information about all of the entertainers on board.

Serving as safety representative for my department as well. For this job, I report all potential safety issues that arise for all of the entertainers at a regularly scheduled meeting.

Overseeing the “show watch” to make sure no one is videotaping or using flash photography during the production shows. Also, if something were to go wrong in the lounge we are always on standby.

Assisting with the tour distribution process, welcome guests at embarkation and assist guests at debarkation.

When these tasks are complete, I try to come up with new activities or walk around the ship talking to guests and finding missions. Today I helped someone by printing out sports scores, I made one guest a sunshine out of construction paper to stick on their wall to spruce up their inside cabin, I delivered a slice of birthday cake to a young girl celebrating with her family. Anything that can help a guest to smile, I make it my job to help them. SO, in response to your question, no, I do not technically work — I don’t really consider my job “work” since I love what I do =). Glad I could clarify.

In other news, I booked my flight to visit my friends in Michigan and New York during my vacation! I was able to find a very reasonable ticket, and after calling my dad for his approval I went to put the flight on my debit card. Unfortunately, my card did not work so I had to put it on my father’s credit card. What a disappointment this was for me that he is going to have to pay for it. Thanks, Dad!

Tonight is our second cruise elegant night, and we have the most incredible production show EVER – “Vroom.” See you there!

We visit Livorno, Italy for our last time tomorrow.

Part of Filicdui and Alicdui that we passed this morning

What the end of the debarkation talk looks like from our perspective

Lawrence in the best production show at sea more from him tomorrow

Back to work!
=) Jaime

Thanks again Jaime. I spoke to her today and personally thanked her for all her hard work…..it’s great for everyone, myself included, to be able to see what is happening onboard.

Gamely staring recession and inflation in the face as we are, and in the teeth of the greatest banking disaster since time began, it’s refreshing to see magazines, supplements and here in Miami shops full to bursting with suggestions for Christmas gifts that would break even Donald Trump’s bank account……………..oh by the way, talking of the old Trumpster………….is it law that every city in America has a Trump Tower, Trump Hotel, Trump-eter……….does he actually own all these towers?
Anyway………….I digress. As I said, Christmas is here and another way I know this is my sister Suedrip sent a list of suggestions for my niece and nephew’s suggestion list………………….”Bloody hell,” I replied, “it’s the end of October.”

According to Luke and Isabelle’s list, I had better start saving because the must-have children’s presents this Christmas are going to cost billions of dollars and will probably involve me having to sell my body for sex on a street corner near you…………….$5 by the way………….and no refunds.

Luke wants a three-foot Robosapien V5 that can talk, solve mathematical problems and even takes robotic poo once a day. This will sell for about $700 and be broken before the turkey’s ready.

Girls, apparently, are going to lie on the floor and thrash their legs around unless they are given a pink doll and has a hissy fit unless you brush its hair and it will cost about the same as an Aston Martin. Whatever happened to Legos and GI Joe?

As I mentioned yesterday, my American Airlines flight from Dallas to Fort Lauderdale was quite eventful. Air travel has done more for world peace than any other single entity in the history of mankind. The more countries you visit, the more you understand that people from other cultures and races and places are just like you — except France, obviously — so you’re less likely to want to shoot them.

You also get to meet the most interesting people as I did on this flight. First of all, I want to thank you all for campaigning to get me upgraded to business class……..it worked ……and I relaxed in a big seat with my complimentary peanut ………..and that was thanks to you. On the plane and seated next to me was a six-foot-four-inch (I know this because he told me) doctor who was returning from giving a lecture at a university in Texas.

I sat down and he told me he owned one of the most successful practices in the States and that he was one of the world’s most famous plastic surgeons. Now, I hadn’t introduced myself or even said one word and I don’t know if he was being polite or just looked at me and decided I needed plastic surgery ………..but that’s what he was and with that he gave me his card. I am looking at it right now and its full of letters after his name and his office in a place called Plantation, Florida, sounds very glamorous ………. anyway ……he looked at me after giving me his card and obviously expected me to give him mine.

Unfortunately all I had in my pocket were some sugar free breath savers and a handkerchief full of boogers. So, I told him my name and that I worked for Carnival Cruise Lines…………………..he then turned into a complete and utter snob.

Firstly, he said that he never cruised Carnival only Crystal, Seabourn, Cunard and Celebrity…….I remember this because he then went on to tell me about each and every cruise he had taken……..oh and by the way…………….Crystal, Seabourn, Cunard and Celebrity……..isn’t that a bit like saying Lexus, Aston Martin, Rolls Royce and Hyundai?

My god, did this man talk……….on and on he went about how much money he had and how he only stayed in suites and blah, blah, blah. He also told me that usually he flew on a private jet. Now that’s something I would love to experience……………Miami to London on a private jet…………..Check-in time is one minute before the scheduled departure. Or one hour afterwards, if you can’t be bothered to get out of bed. Once on board you sit in a big in a big swivelly seat, having a Diet Coke served by a Bond girl hoping dessert will be more than ice cream.

He would not shut up and he was just a few seconds away from needing his own plastic surgery skills to repair the beating I was going to give him with my in-flight magazine. Then, something remarkable happened…………………and here is one of those moments I promise is absolutely true on the love of my wife and Thingy…………………

Dr. Plastic shifted his very tall frame from one side of the seat to another and as he did…………he let out a huge rip roaring fart…………..I mean this thing was 8.9 on the farter scale and was not just audible for me but for the entire front section of the plane. I looked straight ahead reminding myself that this was a very uncomfortable experience as I remembered from the massage I had a few months ago………….I said nothing………..the two people across the aisle said nothing…………..all three of us just looked straight ahead.

I waited for Dr. Plastic to say “pardon me” but he said nothing, as well……………he had been stopped in mid sentence by a fart and now his only defense was to close his eyes and pretend to go to sleep. …………………and that was just perfect because I did too.

Your friend

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.