Startea

November 11, 2008 -

John Heald

Did you see the news today that Starbucks has issued a 97% downturn on their profits from this time last year? …………..wow……………..I wonder why. Has the credit crunch meant that we are now taking a packet of Maxwell Folgers Coffee to work with us and avoiding the purchase of a skinny macchiato caramel extra shot whipped and bollocked and instead…………..drinking coffee?

One thing’s for certain. Although the young ladies and gents who work at Starbucks may know how to make the most complicated variations…………..if you want them to look as bemused as Paris Hilton in an Everything’s A Dollar Store………………ask for a cup of tea.

I did that this morning and the young lady looked at me as though I had just asked for a freshly brewed cup of peacock urine…………….at first I thought the look of disgust I had received from the Miss Cappuccino was that I had asked her for a cup of tea…………….in English……..but then I realized it was obviously the fact that I had dared to ask for tea………..and…………………when I asked for a small cup of milk for the tea I thought she was going to faint.

I love tea……………………I drink tea…………….I am British…………….it’s the law. However, it appears that tea consumption is shrinking, especially among young people, yet Britain is still by far the largest consumer in the world. I quite like a cup at around 10 am and then one an hour because this is “tea time.” However, I do need a cup of coffee in the morning. Some people drink “breakfast tea” as a morning’s hot beverage. This is as mad as starting the day with a steak burrito from Taco Bell.

When I go to someone’s house and they ask “What would you like to drink?” I never ask for a cup of tea when I go to someone else’s house. That is because if you take it with milk and sugar, this is a complicated, four-ingredient request…………and that’s before you ask for Splenda instead of sugar. It’s exactly the same as being offered a cookie and saying, “Ooh, thanks, but actually I’d prefer fillet mignon drizzled in a cabernet sauvignon sauce.”

In fact, it’s worse, because your host will realize you are English and have to find a teapot that hasn’t been used since their wedding day 30 years ago and is at the back of a cupboard behind the equally dusty Mexican blanket they bought in Cozumel ………………. because it was cheap.

I always ask for coffee and that’s because I will take it “European style” — black with one sweetener if they have…………….or with bugger all if they don’t. Of course, you may say that coffee causes your teeth to go brown and your heart to explode. But tea, if we’re honest, is as healthy as telling Mike Tyson he is a big girl and smells.

Eight percent of a tealeaf is toxic, around 25% is irrelevant, 2% is nutritious caffeine and most of the rest is acids, arsenic, chlorophyll, salts and tannins – which are useful only if you want to give your stomach lining the texture of an old sock.

Herbal varieties, however, are even more dangerous because if you come round to my house and ask for green tea I will punch you in the mouth. Herbal tea is for people who do yoga and sit on the porch every night chanting. At best, it is pointless. At worst, it is Sex and the Shitty snobbery. That program has resulted in a huge increase of tea sales in North America as well as the four girls being responsible for women keeping their bras on when having rumpy pumpy.

And Chai tea? Have you tried that? Well, don’t – because you can achieve exactly the same effect, for a lot less, by drinking your own urine. Then there are the Herbal Life Teas. These promise weight loss and they work………….and that’s only because they are made with Ex-Lax and prunes which guarantees major weight loss as you cluster bomb the toilet 20 times a day

So, maybe if Starbucks switch to P.G. Tipps or “Monkey Tea,” as we call it, their sales will go up. It’s anyone’s guess why they have been so popular over the years …….. especially as they put half a granule in a Styrofoam bucket and call it coffee. While I sip on my cup of Monkey Tea………why don’t you go ahead and have a read Of Jaime’s Dear John letter.

November 10, 2008

Dear John,

Today is another beautiful, sunny day! This of course makes the ship and atmosphere more enjoyable. Also, the sound quality on Lido deck is better with the dome open so activities are both understandable and successful. It is funny to realize how tiring these five long consecutive sea days are for us, since the hosts are constantly trying to put forth all of the energy we have into our activities. Having five consecutive work filled days is not typical for us hosts, we are used to having the schedule broken up by being in port! I suddenly remember what it was like in high school to have a full week of school, and never being able to make it to those final classes at the end of the week – this is why I learned to schedule only 3 days of classes when I went to college. My respect has grown immensely for those people working 9-5 Monday through Friday jobs, because they work five days in a row every week. At those jobs, they don’t get to see much of Europe or understand the inner-workings of a lifeboat!

So where are we now? Looking at our ship’s position on promenade deck is quite comical because we are a big red dot in the middle of the blue blob which I believe is meant to represent water. We passed the Tropic of Cancer early this morning at 1 am, it was less exotic than I imagined. Unfortunately, there were no palm trees or sunshine!

Tomorrow is finally the light at the end of the tunnel, or more accurately the land amongst the miles and miles and miles and miles of endless water. We will finally visit wonderful St. Maarten. Ironically enough, Christopher Columbus is said to have pulled into this very port after traveling the Atlantic himself. It is also a holiday there tomorrow, so although not too many of the shops will be open it will be a perfect opportunity to enjoy the sunshine and the beach which we have all been eagerly awaiting since our arrival in Italy in early June!

Since we are almost finished with this trans-Atlantic journey, I have asked the entertainment team to help me compile a list of tips and tricks that we have used to remain sane during this transition.

Here are some of the things we have come up with:
– Breathe
– Share a smile
– Laugh
– Have fun!
– Make every person’s vacation unique and special
– Always be armed with a pencils, paper, trivia questions and ships on sticks in case of an entertainment emergency
– Remember to go outside and see the sun and the stars! THERE is a world outside the ship!
– Take your medicine
– Eat pizza at three in the morning just for the fun of it =)

After graduating from college I knew I wanted to help a lot of people, and I am still trying to figure out exactly how I am meant to do this. But helping to make people have fun, memorable vacations is certainly a rewarding beginning.

As we head toward port, we have finally received the signal for American television channels. This especially exciting for the crew members because we have been exposed to only European channels since June! I do not know how we survived without NBC, CBS and, of course, Cartoon Network. On most Carnival ships we receive a local news channel from a small city in Colorado, and I look forward to becoming reacquainted with this town. I really had felt like one of the residents after the conclusion of my previous contract. I was up to date on their local news, their weather forecast, and most importantly, the date and location of the monthly parade they held for the mayor.

Off to watch TV… on a scavenger hunt for John’s commercial =)

img_85791
The Carnival Splendor entertainment staff team- Jaime, Owen, Stephanie, Lauren, Kevin and Adele

picture-191
The Carnival Splendor entertainment staff team

img_8795

img_8794
The Carnival Splendor as it makes its Transatlantic journey!

Jaime =)

OK, let’s chat about comments. I have been reading them each and every day along with the 50,000 weekly hits the comments are one of the most important parts of the blog thingy. Please keep them coming and remember, if you need my help, just include a “please reply” at the top. I have recently helped many people re-book from their Carnival Liberty European cruises to the Carnival Dream and Emerald Princess and am currently working on other people’s concerns, as well. ………..I remain at your service.

Here are today’s John Replies

Matt Asked:
i’m sorry but royal caribbean is the best…. with the royal promenade flowrider, and everything is so new and clean. Carnival ships are old and gross. I was just on freedom of the seas and WOW. it is huge. the theater is state of the art, and the cruise director richard spacey is funny. sorry carnival

John Says:
Hello Matt,
Thank you very much for taking the time to write about how much you love Royal Caribbean. It sounds like their ships are fantastic, however saying our ships are old and gross is just not true. Anyway, the most important thing is that you enjoy cruising, which is wonderful for the industry. I wish you happy voyages.

Best Regards,

John
———————————–
Sallie Asked
Stephanie, please send this onto John and thank you for all you do. I hope your mother is well.
Dearest John,

I wanted to thank you for your help and suggestion on us doing something special for Martin (was Victory Casino Host) on our cruise this past October 26th. We were able to take him out to lunch when we were in St Kitts and had a terrific time. Martin is a wonderful gentleman. So full of life and energy and he loves working with Carnival and was so happy he got promoted to his new position in the Corporation. I for one feel Carnival made an excellent decision. 🙂

Anyway, our lunch was terrific and although saddened that Martin will not be stationed on just one ship so that we may visit him again, I know we will cross paths again someday.

Thank you so much John. This made our cruise extra special.

Please send my/our love to Heidi and desk and I am anxiously awaiting meeting you on BCv2 so that I can give you a huge hug of thanks in person.

Sallie
Thong Princess in training
A proud member of King Ed’s Evil Krewe

John Says:
Hello Sallie,

It was wonderful to hear that you had a great time with Martin. He’s a terrific guy and definitely in the right position. I’m glad I could be of assistance. Thank you for your kind words for Heidi and I as well as asking about Stephanie’s mum who is doing well.

All the best,

John
——————————–
Sandytoes
Hi John,
Thanks for your blog on the Ruby Princess.
Love your tie!! 😉
Great Videos as well!

Can you ask James Lay (Ruby Princess Cruise Director) a question for me.

I’m curious about exclusive Sabatini’s breakfast for suite passengers.
Is that just for Full suite passengers?
Or, are mini-suites entitled to the same perk?

What’s on the menu?

Happy Cruising,
Sandytoes
(Chris)

John Says:
Hello SandyToes,

Great names by the way. You’ll be happy to know that if you are in a mini suite the Sabintini’s breakfast thingy applies to you. I will ask James for the menu and get it to you as soon as possible. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog.

Cheers,

John
———————————–
jschne1013 Says:
John,
I was wondering, with gastric bypass on the rise is carnival considering a bariatric menu for these people?

Thanks for your time

John Says:
Hello jschne1013,

That’s a very interesting question and the honest answer is I don’t know. I am sure that if requested in advance we could provide the food groups required for a bariatric menu. We already do this with many other dietary requirements. If this is something you need help with I would be happy to assist.

Thanks mate,

John
—————————————
IndyDan Asked:
John Please Reply
I just wanted to let you know that I am a huge fan of the blog thingy. I discovered your blog only 3 months ago when my wife and I booked our 5th Carnival cruise. We were perusing the Carnival website looking at different itineraries, when I noticed the link to your blog. I immediately recognized who you were. You were the fellow that was the cruise director on our first Carnival cruise aboard the Imagination in October 1995. At the time, the Imagination was the newest ship in the fleet, and we thought you were a hoot. I had always hoped you would be the cruise director on our subsequent cruises, but alas, you were not.
My wife and I sail on the Carnival Valor the 14th of December. We are flying into Miami the evening of the 12th and will be staying at the Intercontinental hotel for 2 nights. Knowing that you must get tired of eating room service, and dining alone, we would love to take you to dinner, if you are still in Miami. Afterwards we could have a cigar, and I could then scare the crap out of you telling you stories about our 4 Thingy’s (2 boys and 2 girls). Please let us know if you would be available. Give our best to Heidi.
Regards,
Dan & Tanya

John Says:
Hello Dan and Tanya,

The Imagination feels like such a long time ago. I’m glad you have such happy memories of our time together. I wish I could be with you before your Carnival Valor cruise, however I will be home in England with Heidi and the thingy. If you wouldn’t mind dropping me a line just before you sail with you cabin number I would appreciate it. Best wishes to you and the family,

Cheers,
John
————————————-
Tim and Diane Asked:
John, Please Reply.
Sorry that we unable to catch up with you later on Thursday. We did however pass the cigar cutter on to James who said he would see you in December.
Tim and Diane

John Says:
Hello Tim and Diane.

Having to disembark the Ruby Princess without saying goodbye to you was difficult especially as you had a cigar cutter for me. I actually wrote about you in the Princess blog and there was a video of you. Did you see it? Hope all is well and it was an honour to meet you both. I will pick the cigar cutter up in November.

Cheers,

John
———————————————
Zgwortz Asked:
Hi John! (Reply at your leisure…)
So I was typing a note on my roll call on CC, and mentioning how I’m going to have to search for some birch beer in Florida (as well as get a bottle or two of root beer) before my trip on the Carnival Splendor on the 17th, so I can make definitive scientific tests to determine which makes the better ice cream float. (Those of you who believe that Coke, or something other than root beer or birch beer, is acceptable in a proper ice cream float are heretics and advised to stop reading now…
I, of course, have to do this because Carnival doesn’t serve either one on board… and it occurred to me that *you* were the ideal person to ask “Why not?”
I mean, looking back through your blog (I’m only a recent reader – but Search is my friend… :D), it’s clear you enjoy root beer as well, of the diet variety. I actually prefer the unleaded version to drink as well – but not when making floats, which, in my experience, requires the actual leaded version.
Carnival gets big kudos for me for adding the extra virgin stuff (Caffeine Free Diet Coke) a while back. Before that, I was always in need of bringing a dozen or more 20oz bottles on a long trip so I wouldn’t overdo the caffeine and end up sick. (Too much caffeine does that to me…) Now I bring just enough so I don’t have to go looking for an open bar at the ungodly late hour I usually get back to my cabin.
But it seems to me that adding root beer and diet root beer, at least, to the selection is an idea whose time has come, at least when departing from an American port.
So, who do we need to nag to get this to happen?

John Says:
Zgwortz,

What a great question. Yup, I agree we need to serve root beer and in my opinion Stewart’s which is the best. As you quite correctly said we just recently added caffeine free diet coke and I will make a suggestion that root beer be next. Your nagging may work. Hope all is well and have a great trip on the Carnival Splendor I wish I could be with you.

Cheers,

John
—————————————-
Amanda Asked:
URGENT – John please reply
Hi – I am an avid reader of this blog thingy and I love it. You make me laugh and cry, but most of all you make me want to read it tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…
My husband and I are sailing on our third Carnival cruise on the 29th of this month. We will be sailing on the Splendor and are so excited about seeing the new ship

John Says:
Hello Amanda,

Thanks for the wonderful words about the blog. It’s great to know it’s appreciated so much. I wish I could be with you on your Carnival Splendor cruise. Can you tell me which cruise you’re doing eastern or western and I will then give you my personal “must see” places. I hope our thingy is as delightful as yours and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best Wishes,

John
———————————————

Today, I am in the office for more meetings about your future. These include some more visits to where you live…..these are very exciting and I will let you know more about this very, very soon.

I must admit, I find meetings very tiring and sometimes a little frustrating. On the ship we call each other………decide what we want to do…………..and do it. Now, I know things are a little different here in Corporate America and I have to get used to the scenario of 20-plus people sitting around a desk for three hours. Anyway, there are exciting things ahead and on Thursday and Friday I will find out how and if they involve me ………….. or should I say………..us.

Tomorrow, look out for a special blog feature from our good friend at Cunard, the incomparable Peter Shanks. Peter will be writing about the last days of the Queen Elizabeth 2 and a ceremony that involved a good bye from an old friend and a dedication remembering the ship’s life not just as a luxury ocean liner but as ship who did her part for Queen and country. That will be in tomorrow’s feature and I know it will be a very special one.

Today is Veterans Day and before a personal tribute from me I want to talk about a blogger friend of ours David Polwaski. He is a British soldier based in Afghanistan. He reads the blog regularly and I am sure many of you remember him from the Bloggers Cruise last year.

He e-mails me every week and I wanted to share some of his stories with you. David drives a fuel truck and is a mechanic for the Royal Engineers…as he says “he is a back room boy.”
Their lives — far from the fighting, behind the blast-proof walls and the razor wire and the guard dogs and the sentries — is about as horrible as it’s possible to imagine. Unless you work for the Iraqi Sewage Company.

Some are based at Camp Bastion, in the middle of the desert. The view is grey. You look over a vast grey camp with grey buildings to the grey concrete walls and beyond to the grey desert that blends into the dust-choked grey sky. There is no green. There is no yellow. There is no relief. And of course, this being the army, everything has to be done according to the time clock.

And at night it’s cold. Bitterly, numbingly cold. So cold that even the Eskimos roll their sleeves down. Happily the tents have heaters, which sounds lovely. But annoyingly the heaters in question have only two settings: “off” and so “on,” you could bake a bloody potato in there.

I should mention at this point the lavatory doors, which someone erected four inches from the bowl. This is fine if you have no legs, but everyone else has to leave the door open. And I’m sorry but doing your number twos in plain view of everyone is only all right if you are a yak or have gone camping.

So, before I talk about those who have served I want to ask you to remember the ones serving today…….not just the “Glory Boys” but the men and women behind the scenes…….let’s remember them today.

The delete button and I have become good friends…………..I just can’t find the right words to talk about those who have given service ……so instead I decided to make a short video. I hope that’s OK with you.

Time for a cup of tea

Goodnight
Your friend
John

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.