Back to the Future

November 15, 2008 -

John Heald

I have never been much of a fan of parties. Maybe this comes from the fact that I was hardly ever invited to one and when I was…………….no bugger spoke to me. I would arrive at the party with dreams of meeting a girl ……………any girl…………. who would want to have a bit of rumpy pumpy with in the back seat of my Ford Escort ………………of course……………….reality was that I would leave with Alan………..and go for a kebab.

And so last night I attended the employee party where thousands of Carnival shoreside employees and one invited guest descended on the Carnival Splendor for a night of fun, dancing, eating and a few magnums of wine.

Now, the invitations had a dress code on them…………….because that’s the law. As I told you a few weeks ago, dress codes make me crazy. There used to be just two and that was OK.

Formal……..or casual……………..that was it. Now we have Elegant Casual, Casual Elegant, Business Casual, Casual Business, Cruise Elegant, Cruise Casual and because that’s not enough……………our employees were asked to dress “Casual Chic”…………..What in the name of all that’s holy is “Casual Chic?” I guess I was not the only one who was confused because, as I wandered around the ship last night, I saw people dressed in every possible combination. Jeans and T-shirts…………..obviously chic to them meant wearing the T-shirt that doesn’t have a huge ketchup stain on it…………to people who seeing the word chic had dressed to kill. There were long dresses, short dresses and men with tuxedos of every color and cut.

As I moved on through the ship I started no notice people in various stages of plastic surgery. There was one woman who had undergone some extraordinary eye work and clearly found it very hard to blink. The fact that she now looked like a Medusa didn’t seem to upset her. Personally I would have sued the surgeon, but what do I know? This was also America and that meant that everyone at the party has such unbelievably gleaming teeth and they flash them about like rapiers. I’ve started to get really paranoid, and tend to mumble when talking to anyone as everyone stares at your mouth, trying to get a good look.

It was obvious who was single and who was not. The single men were gathered in groups like prides of lions ready to attack. The women were also gathered together in short micro skirts realizing the more skin they showed the better their chances of meeting Mr. Right ………..or, in this case, in Miami…………Senor Righto. These were not ladies who harbor the romance novel notion that men find kindness, a good heart and a sense of humor important when looking for a spouse; they understand that what men really want is breasts like the Alps a face like Angelina Jolie’s.

I like a painting. But I will not buy one, no matter how deft the brushwork, or how well the artist captures the natural light, if the subject matter is George Hamilton’s scrotum – because I would not find it attractive. And look at animals. If I told you the dung beetle – the ugliest creature ever to walk the earth – was in danger of extinction, you’d be glad. If, on the other hand, I showed you a picture of some cute little tiger cub that was about to be chopped up by someone who wanted its bones to make his penis bigger, you’d be on the first plane to Beijing full of protest.

The party really was a wonderful place to “people watch” and also to meet so many people. Honestly, at times it was overwhelming as dozens and dozens of people came up to me and asked for photos and autographs. It seems that the blog thingy is quite popular in the Miami office as well and all night long I was hugged and kissed and groped …….. and that was the men. I signed dozens of autographs and took loads of photos and it was …… totally humbling. Seriously, though, it was a great night and I need to mention a few things about it.

Firstly, I should mention the brilliantly motivating speech made pre-show by Carnival’s President and CEO and Chairman of the Fish Have Rights Association ………….. Gerry Cahill. He spoke about how the people who worked for Carnival Cruise Lines were the people we want to welcome aboard our ships. Spirited, fun and comfortable in their own existence ……………and then he said, “The people we want onboard our ships are people like you……………people who when John Heald says I need 12 volunteers to make fools of themselves on stage………………500 people put their hands up.”

And how right he is. The people who work in reservations, operations, accounting, the switchboard, I/S and in every department are people who give 100% each and every day to make your cruise more enjoyable and they are exactly the kind of people we what to see on our ships. Anyway, Gerry’s speech was brilliant and earned him a huge round of applause accompanied by lots of cheering…….or…..this could have been because, I mentioned, he was paying for the drinks.

Gerry also thanked the crew. He mentioned how they had just disembarked 3,000 guests from a 16-day trans-Atlantic cruise. This usually would have been their night off but instead they gave their heart and soul providing brilliant service and entertainment for our friends from shore side. This morning, they awoke at 8 am ready for a full U.S. Coast Guard inspection, which will last two hours at least and as soon as that is finished embarkation will start and they will set sail on a two-day cruise to Nassau. Thanks Gerry for saying what you did……and the rapturous applause from the employees echoed our president’s sentiments……………….and mine.

Oh, by the way. Can I take a few moments to wish all the bloggers who are cruising on the Carnival Splendor today? I wish I could be with you. In particular, I want to wish bon voyage to blogger “Princess R” who is sailing with her boyfriend on their one-year anniversary. Princess R met her boyfriend Butch during the dating game event on the Carnival Freedom. They feel immediately in love and as I hosted the show…….I guess it’s my fault.

They booked this cruise thinking I would be sailing and were very disappointed to know that I would not be. They live in a tiny little town in Alaska and have traveled hundreds of miles to spend this time with me……………and they found I had buggered off. Anyway, Princess R and Butch are eating at the supper club tonight and I ordered a cake and a bottle of champagne for them……I hope they have a wonderful cruise …………. and it’s their fault that I got myself into an embarrassing situation last night as I will explain later.

As you saw we tried to beam you some live steaming video which as I understand it was not totally successful. This was probably due to the fact that the ship is full of iron and steel and the signal was not very strong. However, I hope you got to see the re-runs and my thanks to my mate Al Ernst who not only had fun with me on the video but also performed two great shows last night. Anyway……..we will get better at these videos I promise. Anyway, for the next few weeks we will be video free as once I am home I will return to the old format of blog thingies like these……..written daily…………and with a few photos.

OK, for the last time………………here is Jaime’s Dear John letter.

November 14, 2008

Dear John,

This is it! The Carnival Splendor has finally completed its entire European cruising season and trans-Atlantic crossing, and this morning we safely returned to the United States of America via the port in the lovely, yet slightly humid Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Last night we were able to celebrate the arrival in the States as well as wish a goodbye to Stephanie, our Assistant Cruise Director as she departs on her vacation with a Fiesta Caliente!

The entire night I was unable to sleep, eagerly awaiting the arrival like a child nervously awaiting the first day of school. I was tossing and turning all night. This morning we had several US Customs and Immigration officials on board, and since it was the first time the ship had visited the States, debarkation took longer than usual. I think the officials knew that I was dying to get off the ship and help boost the US economy by purchasing a variety of items in dollars.

Once debarkation finally completed, many of the entertainment staff members jumped in a taxi and headed out for a nice lunch near the pier. With my enormous grin on my face, I was able to call my friends and family from my cell phone without paying exorbitant international roaming rates. I also can remember how much I appreciate the small pleasures in life such as bottomless soda glasses, using a debit card machine at the grocery store and paying money for the brands that I have come to know and love rather than the expensive European imitations! The absolute highlight of our lunch was when Owen looked over at Lauren’s T-shirt and asked “is John Mayer the guy with the hot dogs?” We love our Columbian amigo.

All I can say is it is good to be home. I am looking forward to the change to Caribbean cruises. Thank you for letting me share with you the adventures and challenges of our last Mediterranean, Greece and Turkey cruise as well as our trans-Atlantic Journey. It has been a great deal of fun for me to share my stories and I look forward to cruising with you all soon!

All the best,
::smiles::

=) Jaime
Entertainment Staff
Carnival Splendor

Thank you, Jaime…………..thank you for all you have done and congratulations on your amazing writing skills. I spoke to Jaime last night and asked her if she would consider writing a Carnival Splendor South America series of Dear John letters ………… she told me to bugger off………..actually, she said yes……………..so that’s something I know we will all look forward to. Thanks Jaime………….you are a star……….and so am I this morning…………….as by star I mean a large gaseous object……..something has really affected my bottom today.

OK, let’s have a chat.

Let’s start by talking about my travel plans.

Tomorrow (Sunday) at 6 pm, I will fly American Airlines (coach …………double bugger) to Boston, Mass. I will spend the night in yet another hotel before meeting up with the Carnival marketing team at the head offices of our great friends from Arnold ……………… who are our advertising agents, marketing gurus, life coaches, therapists and, most importantly………lunch providers. We are going to be talking about a project that involves me……I promise to tell you more about this brilliant concept soon.

Then, straight from that meeting, I will jump on a plane yet again but this time it’s one that will take me home to the bosom of my family and in particular to Heidi’s bosoms which hopefully are benefiting from her being pregnant and are now the size of ripe watermelons.

Once home, I will write each and every day………..maybe taking Sunday’s off ……. would that be OK?………….I know I have never taken a day off before but I was thinking maybe I could ask your kind permission to make Sunday’s a day of rest……………let me know.

And so I will remain home blogging every day (except Sundays) and then in January ……….well……………what can I tell you?

Well, let’s start by saying that I had a very productive meeting with Ruben Rodriguez, our executive vice president of marketing and guest experience where I committed my future to Carnival Cruise Lines. I have to tell you that I was considering leaving and moving across to another Carnival sister company based out of the UK.

But, as wonderful as P&O, Cunard and Princess are………….my heart belongs to Carnival. I have grown up here and, through the years, they have allowed me to become a person I never thought I could be. I am going to help our sister companies as much as I can and in as many ways as I can…….including regular ship visits and blogs about our corporation’s new vessels, etc.

So, that’s the first piece of news……………………..I am here to stay.

Then………….in what capacity? Well, Carnival has been wonderful and is allowing me so much flexibility. I was offered a role where I would remain Carnival’s senior cruise director but also extend my position to become something they are calling “brand ambassador”………and I am so moved by this offer. To become an ambassador for this company is the highest honor anyone could ever want……………except being brand ambassador for Victoria’s Secret……and it is something that I am massively humbled by.

What would this involve? Well, it would involve special cruises, lots of appearances at brand events, and assisting Carnival as we continue our new and exciting marketing straterdy………startderdy………..stragerady……………thingy………………….and lots of other areas, as well. It would also involve some time on the ships, as well. This would include Bloggers Cruises (we’re looking at two next year) as well as traveling the fleet writing about our current and new itineraries and our brilliant and modern fleet.

However…………is that enough time onboard?………will I miss being a CD …………. and …….. most importantly…………….what about Heidi and the Thingy?

I also have to tell you that as much as I love my job and as much as I have enjoyed these past few weeks I have hated being away from Heidi and the family……………and I have hated the evenings when I have sat here in my hotel room with only CNBC for company.

Yes, my friends the Bentleys and the Blums have looked after me but there have been too many nights when I have felt like crap. You see, even when I am not with Heidi on the ship I am never alone. Now this doesn’t mean I have lots of Latvian women for company every night but there is always something going on. the phone rings, there are shows to perform and screaming guests to listen to ………………..here at the Incontinent ……………… sorry………………Intercontinental hotel…………….there is just me……………..the TV ……….. and Mrs. Suarez the maid who knocks on the door even if I have the Bugger Off and Do Not Disturb sign hanging on the door.

So, I have a lot of thinking to do. I obviously have to be home for April and May ………. but for the rest of next year I have to talk to Heidi about “what’s next.”

I am thinking that maybe we can find a happy medium. I am thinking about coming back to a ship……………no……………..I have no idea which one……………..and work as CD until April. I am sure the new marketing thingies can be done while I am onboard and I can disembark as required for “special events.”

Then after the baby is born………..well maybe Heidi can fly and stay with me here on land for a few weeks at a time. Obviously, I have a lot to think about and a lot to talk about with Heidi.
You know, I have not even spoken to Carnival management about this yet………………… and that I hope shows you how important everyone who reads the blog is to me.

Carnival is the best company in the world and whatever happens I am theirs………….for life. They have only my best interests at heart and for that I am forever grateful. I just need a few days to figure out what to do.

You know……last night……….I went on stage for the first time in a month …and I realized just how much I have missed it……and deep down I realize that it’s where I belong.

Anyway, I will let you know what we decide to do and hopefully the answer will be a mixture of all of the above………….but one more time before I go I must say thank you to everyone at Carnival for allowing me to continue to grow and to continue to work for the World’s Most Popular Cruise Line………..and that means I get to keep writing these blogs…………each and every day………….except Sundays…………..allegedly.

As I mentioned, I spent last night taking photos and signing autographs on all sorts of bits of paper as the Carnival employees treated me like I was famous. ……………….I put it down to free drinks Anyway, it was towards the end of the night as I stood in the lobby watching our interactive performers G-Force perform that the embarrassing situation I referred to earlier happened. I was just about to take a photo with Beatrix who is one of Carnival’s friendly phone operators when a voice next to me said “Do you think I could have your signature?”

“Sure,” I replied, with a huge grin. So, snatching up the paper he was presenting and while still having my photo taken and talking to loads of people and shaking hands I wrote: “Thanks for all your hard work and hope you enjoy reading the blog thingy “

It was as I handed the paper back I noticed that the person I was giving it to was, in fact Beverly, the supper club hostess, who was presenting me with the check for the champagne I had ordered for Princess R and Butch’s anniversary ………….she looked at me as though I was totally and utterly bonkers…………………….bugger.

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.