Blue Monday

November 10, 2008 -

John Heald

So the flight was delayed once again. Apparently it was still a surprise to American Airlines that there were other planes taking off and landing and so we sat on the runway for 40 minutes waiting to take off. It would have been nice to pass that time by talking to the lady next to me but she already had one of those Zorro masks over her eyes and had her head buried in a “travel pillow”……..she had a American Airlines standard issue red blanket wrapped around her ……..and all that was missing was a “Do Not Disturb Sign” hanging from her nipple.

Eventually we landed and after a marathon walk from gate 51, I arrived at the taxi stand to take a cab back to the hotel. ……………I am not sure if the driver had been practicing voodoo in the cab because it smelt like freshly sacrificed goat in the taxi………………I was tired………..I was irritable………….I was fed up with packing and unpacking……..I was in a cab that smelt like a slaughterhouse…………and I had been wearing the same underwear since 6 am the day before……………………yes………………I had forgotten to pack spare underwear……………….bugger. I have a medical when I get home and my doctor will no doubt ask for a blood, urine and stool sample………………I shall just give him my underwear…………….should save some time.

Anyway, I was pretty grumpy by the time I arrived at the hotel and all I could think about was a shower and bed. When I got there…………….I knew that wasn’t going to be.

The parking lot was full, which is always a bad sign, and there was a huge banner hung across the entrance that said “The Intercontinental Welcomes the NRA Leaders Convention.” Now, I have no idea what the NRA are leaders of but I do know that last night they had a big party on the pool deck thingy which, of course, my room overlooks. The gentle thump of the music was manageable but then at midnight…..the fireworks started.

I know I sound like a bit of grumpy old sod, but I really do feel that, as a rule, once you’ve seen one fireworks display you’ve seen them all.

There just doesn’t seem to have been much progress in the world of the firework. In other areas of life things seem to take huge leaps forward. Cruise ship entertainment ………. cellular communication…………and hemorrhoid treatment.

But, since I was a kid, I can’t remember being in awe of any new, exciting firework. Occasionally you get a particularly big one that makes an almighty noise, but essentially it still just blows up and lets off a colored circle of sparks. ……………but that’s it.

And so I listened to the bangs and the weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeessssssssss and the fizzies for 30 minutes mindful that the hotel is in the flight path of Miami International Airport ……………I wonder if they got permission?

This also reminded me of the Carnival Destiny. It was 1996 and we were on our way to Boston. The ship was the largest cruise vessel in the world and there was much excitement. I was on the bridge as we sailed up the river to our docking area. Suddenly, the Boston pilot ordered Captain Gallo to bring the ship to a sudden stop ………..he, of course, complied. ……………..what was the problem?

Well, the problem was that our course took us up river and past the Boston Airport. The pilot was concerned that the ship was so tall that the planes on a landing approach may …………ummmmm………clip our smokestack………………..oops.

So, as the pilot contacted the air traffic control and after confirming that it was safe for us to continue………..we did…………….all was well.

The other day I was at the basketball game watching the Miami Heat beat the Philadelphia 49ers. I noticed during one of the time-out thingies that there………..on the screens ………….was our Towel Animal Theatre shorts. Have you seen them?

If not………… is the first

They have already had over 200,000 views and are proving very popular. Did you know that the towel animals were first started by a young Jamaican cabin steward? His name was Alva Ellis and his design was so popular back on the Mardi Gras that he taught all the cabin stewards how to make them. This then became an iconic feature on all our ships and although the stateroom stewards have standard animals they are taught to create, many of these great men and women come up with their own exotic creations. I know many of you have your favorite……………what was yours?
Time for a Dear John letter from Jaime.

November 8, 2008

Dear John,

This morning, Goose did his morning show from the bridge. He interviewed officers and discussed the ship’s navigational system and backup safety systems. I was on lido deck during this show just watching the guests completely captivated by this new information. I think some of the spectators were in amazement with the ship’s components.

For our third of five sea days in a row, we are having more and more guests come forth to contribute ideas about group meetings and classes. Over 50 guests attended a Shabbat service we had on board and they were all pleased to come together to share traditions and stories. It is funny how in that type of environment the six degrees of separation rule holds true.

In other holiday news, the cast began rehearsing for the ever so popular Christmas Show today. Being on the flagship is a definite advantage in this case because many of the cast members have done this show 10 or more times. It is just a matter of refreshing their memories and re-staging the much anticipated holiday performance. One of the most difficult parts of working on ships is consistently being apart from one’s family for the holidays. I remember last year at Thanksgiving, I was the only American crew member at my dinner table. I still held to tradition and asked everyone what they were thankful for. With the holidays just around the corner, it is refreshing that these cast members have been working together since April, so if they are unable to being their families back home, at least they have a close knit group of friends to celebrate with. Of course we are forced to make due with different decorating traditions than on land since no candles or
light bulbs can be used in this process due to safety regulations =). Good thing we are the creative ones!

Today I had a chance to speak with our Safety Officer Cresenzo Palomba
who is extremely busy preparing for the upcoming US Coast Guard inspection. Here’s what he had to say:

“We are not waiting for coast guard to be safe, we are always safe. It is part of daily preparedness. We are always ready because you never know when emergency may happen.

This is the first time for the Carnival Splendor has visited the States so it is a very extensive inspection. They are going to check everything in regard to safety – such as life saving appliances, fire fighting equipment as well as the training of the crew. In order to check these areas of knowledge, we will simulate a fire in some part of the ship and they will see how the crew members are trained to fight the fire. In addition, they are going to check fire screen doors, and the bridges’ responses to this type of emergency. They inspect all the equipment in the lifeboat as well to ensure these boats are adequately prepared for an emergency.

We also perform the lifeboat saving drill with the entire crew. It shows what happens when guests reach their assigned muster stations. The Coast Guard will see crew members moving from crew muster station to embarkation stations. In addition, they will see how the crew inflate and prepare the life rafts, how they pick it up with crane and inflate it for an emergency.

The Coast Guard will question crew members to see if they know the procedure of what to do in the real emergency. To prepare for this a lot of training is involved to review necessary information.

After that, they go around the ship to make a spot check. Typically they check the remarks of the previous Coast Guard inspection. In this case, the ship was in Genoa so they will be sure to comply with the opening remarks made from the ship yard.

When they are happy with these responses they will give us the Coast Guard certificate that is valid for six months. This inspection will be more in depth since this is the first time in the States for this ship.

We are also preparing for the VIP sailing when we first arrive in the states. We have evacuation plan for when in port as well.”

Thank you Enzo!!

The fact that I was able to sit him down for five minutes is a miracle within itself!
Our days are so busy, packed with activities for all. Two down, two to go. The weather has been beautiful the past few days so we can finally enjoy the sunshine!

The cast hard at work preparing for the Christmas show

Safety Officer Cresenzo

Jaime driving a life boat during training last year

More to come =)

Thanks, Jaime, and you really have a talent for writing.

Even though we have been invaded by aliens from the planet Credit Crunch I suppose all of us will be out and about before Christmas, abusing our credit cards.

We all know that this has already happened and as a result, the economy is teetering on the brink of collapse and little old ladies are having to sell their cats for medical experiments.

But there’s a darker side to credit cards. A sinister world that is rarely talked about. I’m talking about the misery of not having the right one.

I mentioned the other day that I had been having problems with one of mine and that continued yesterday in Philadelphia…………..but in a different way.

We’ve all been there. Dinner is over, the check has arrived and everyone is chucking their plastic onto the saucer. It’s a sea of platinum and gold. One chap has produced something with a Giant Panda on the front while another has a card with a Carnival ship on it.

And then it’s your turn. And all you’ve got is your plain old VISA card. Socially speaking, you are about to die. Or are you? A couple of years ago I read an interview with some chap who’d got a fist full of cards in his pocket and claimed that the more shiny examples, specifically the much-coveted Platinum American Express, gave him “certain privileges.”

Obviously, I had to have one. So I lied about my salary, handed over loads of money for the privilege, and there it was, in a leatherette box, presented like a Cartier watch. My very own passport to the high life.

So, yesterday at Philadelphia airport with two hours to spare before the flight was due to leave I found myself with nowhere to sit and nothing to do. After a while I remembered the platinum “key” in my wallet and recalled a bit in the booklet that said it opened the door to airline lounges around the world.

So, I waddled over to American Airlines Flagship Lounge with my cattle-class boarding ticket. “I’m afraid not,” said the woman cheerfully. “Aha,” I countered, “but I have a Platinum American Express card which affords me certain privileges.” It actually gave me bugger all privileges so that was me…….sitting in McDonalds nursing a Diet Coke and a McWhopper.

Then I arrived back at the hotel where I have become very well known having spent the last month. …………ahhh………I thought……….they know me, plus I have a Platinum Amex card………..I bet these two qualities will get me an upgrade to the concierge level ………. bigger room…………hors d’ oeuvres at 5 pm and Latvian women on tap

Joy of joys, it did. All I had to do was check into one of the Sultan suites at $1 million a night and I would be automatically upgraded to a Presidential Suite at no extra cost. So, that was me……… to the economy room………………………bugger

During the last year or so I have been producing the jet set, Platinum Amex and the result was pretty much always the same. “Non.” “Nein.” And in Miami: “Que?”

I have therefore decided that having a Platinum Amex is not like having a big house. That’s better than living in a cardboard box. And it’s not like having a Bentley. That’s more comfortable than SMART car. The Platinum Amex and the even rarer black card exists, solely, to impress. It has no other function.
As a result, I shall be getting rid of it. This will help the world’s economy in a small way. But more importantly, it will do wonders for my self-esteem.

I am feeling guilty on two counts today.

Firstly……Heidi went for a scan today and although her Mum was with her ……… it should have been me. Anyway, she has seen the baby now and it’s the size of her index finger. She is 14 weeks pregnant and all is well so far. We have been arguing a lot about if we should know the sex of the baby. Heidi wants to wait but I want to know. So, at the next scan which I will be there for, I will ask Doctor Longfinger to write the sex of the baby down and put in a sealed envelope.

We will then go home and find the right time to open it together and see what we are having. I really need to know……….it will help me prepare for what is going to happen. ………….I still feel guilty about not being there today. Heidi though is very understanding. She realizes that I have a job to do and is brilliantly supportive. By the way, on Friday I have a meeting with the top CCL people about some exciting future plans. We will discuss what role I can play to keep Carnival at the top of the cruise industry.

I have no idea what they have in store but I promise you two things. I will tell you all straight away………and that the blog thingy will keep going ……………I will write each and every day until as with all good things…………it comes to an end……………I wonder when that will be?

The second reason I feel guilty is with regard to the conversation/argument I overheard at the airport. ……… know…………the one about Celebrity vs. Carnival. What I feel guilty about is that I should have jumped into the conversation and told Mr Celebrity to bugger off. ………but I didn’t. He had me thinking though because Mr. Celebrity’s closing statement was “Not everyone loves Carnival.”………….and that’s where I should have jumped in and said………”Yep, not everyone loves Carnival………….but that’s because not everyone has taken a cruise with us.” The new course we are on simply means that everyone should come and sail with us. There really is fun for all and in today’s poo-filled world………….we all need some fun.

Oh, one last thing. I was watching NBCMSFOXCNN news this morning and despite the hurricane, the tragedy in Haiti, and a suicide bombing in Iraq, the news was dominated by the future of Sarah Palin. Will she stay in politics or will she become the new Lara Croft?

One thing that I did learn was something that may help Heidi and I out as we face the challenge of naming our thingy. It appears that Sarah Palin named all her children after the places they were conceived. This therefore is what Heidi and I will name our Thingy after……….the place where it was conceived………………..and so I am happy and honored to tell you all the name of our Thingy…………..will be…………Desk.

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.