24 hours of blog

November 20, 2008 -

John Heald

Last night I wanted to be back in the United States because you were all being treated to one of the most eagerly awaited television shows in modern history. I’m talking, of course, about 24 – Redemption, the further adventures of Jack Bauer, CTU’s (beep beep eeoooh) shouting whisperer, whose cell phone never runs out of battery and who, in 24 hours, never needs a crap………….maybe the show is sponsored by Imodium.

I do often wonder, given Jack’s hours, exactly what the overtime situation is at CTU. The money must be good. Perhaps these past six seasons of round-the-clock bravery are down merely to Jack saving up for some new decking and a swimming pool. As soon as his savings account hits $24,000 he’s going to clock off at 5 pm, on the dot, and Western Civilization will be buggered.

Still, while there are landscape gardeners and a pool heater to be paid for, Jack is going to go that extra mile, aided by the downtrodden, exhausted Chloe back at CTU. Jack might be scaling buildings, torturing terrorists and breaking into aeroplanes, but — as is so often the case — it’s a knackered woman doing all the semi-impossible legwork behind the scenes………………she is Jack’s assistant cruise director…….his Heidi.

Every 20 minutes her Secret Phone rings with Jack asking her to uplink him into the White House’s security frequency, send a helicopter to a disused print works in Santa Barbara, get him a particle gun, or pick up his hemmoroid cream from Walgreens. And yet he never has rumpy pumpy with her, even though she is clearly up for it.

Heidi and I love 24. I thought she would hate it but we watched the entire season six together. Having faked his own death at the end of the last series, Bauer was working in the oil fields of California, as nothing more than a navvy. Despite this surely being both a) more of a security risk and b) much duller than having a quick blast of reconstructive surgery and becoming a cruise director, Bauer seems uncharacteristically happy with his life of lifting heavy things, eating beans, and never being kidnapped by demented Albanians threatening to shove a nuclear missile up his bottom

Here in the UK we will have to wait another three weeks before we see the two hour special. And what of series seven……………….well, with the credit crunch affecting the finances of Hollywood I understand there will be some major cuts in 24 and other programs: Jack Bauer’s toilet overflows and he has 24 hours to track down a plumber on Thanksgiving Day. Or Kate and Sawyer in Lost have a border dispute that turns violent about an overgrown hedge. Or the Desperate Housewives play bingo.

So, here then is today’s poll.

Here are the latest poll results from the “Who is the best-ever James Bond?” question ………………..and there was only going to be one winner.

Sean Connery 68%
Roger Moore 17%
Pierce Brosnan 11%
Daniel Craig 4%

Well, as promised, here are the replies to all the outstanding requests for assistance.

Amanda Overstreet Asked:
URGENT-John please reply
Hi John. Amanda here again. I had replied to Stephanie’s email about our ports of call, but am not sure if that was what I was supposed to do. I had sent an earlier request asking you about your must see/must do list. We will be calling in San Juan, St. Thomas, La Romana, and Nassau. 11 days to go!! We can hardly wait!
Enjoy your vacation and your precious time with Heidi.
Thanks,
Amanda

John Says:
Hello Amanda,
Sorry it took so long to reply. Hopefully by now you have seen the reply from Chris Jefferson. He gave you some great advice on what to do in the ports you mentioned and just in case you haven’t seen it, here it is again.
Have a wonderful cruise.
Best Regards,
John

Chris Says:

Dear Amanda…
I’ll give you a run down of the areas that you will be docking in, what is available near the ship and then move onto the tours. As I am sure you have noticed (if you look at www.carnival.com/ShoreExcursions ) there are lots of tours so I have looked at the options where you can spend the day together as a family ,while still being able to go on the tours that will accommodate your younger son (some tours have certain restrictions).

San Juan, Puerto Rico. 22nd Dec. 5pm – Midnight
You will be docked in Old San Juan. It’s really quant and the town area is very accessible on foot. The old town area has some nice restaurants, lots of souvenir stalls/shops and of course Walgreens!

If you do want to just wander then you can go up to the Fortress and get some great pictures, but this being a family holiday lets key in on something fun to do. When I first think about the San Juan tours I automatically think of the Bacardi Factory… but probably not the best option with the younger chaps in tow! Your best options for a great time are the Bioluminescence Tour & The Canopy Tour La Marquesa. Both are excellent. The Canopy tours are very popular nowadays and are available in more and more ports. The Bioluminescence Tour is very special and is classed as more of a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’. I am sure after your cruise your will want to take another one with us, therefore having the chance to take a canopy tour elsewhere. I think you can tell I am leaning towards the Bio Tour! (read the description on-line).

St Thomas, USVI 23rd Dec. 7am – 5pm.
St Thomas is one of the ports I have been to most during my time with CCL. There’s loads to do. It offers us such a wide variety of activities it proves to be the most popular with our guests. You will be docking in Havensight Mall. A Taxi to the Downtown area of Charlotte Amilie is a $4 ride person each way. There will be taxi’s everywhere and a dispatcher on hand (note the taxi’s are big open air ones which accommodate about 20 people – that means the driver will squeeze about 30 people in before he leaves!!!). The shops in Charlotte Amilie are mirrored in the Havensight area.

1st thing to do is book your pass for The Skyride to Paradise Point. This is a must! It will be at your leisure and can take 1hr or 7hrs. It’s a tram right across the road, 5mins, walk from the ship. The views are breathtaking. This is your #1 photo stop of the cruise!

My other #1 tips are:
For Snorkeling do the ‘Captain Nautica’s Snorkel Trip’. Smaller, faster Zodiac boats meaning 2 snorkel locations & great personal interaction and service from the guides. If your family have snorkeled before you could try to the Snuba Tour. They will take you to Coki beach (which is where I learnt to dive) to do the snuba tour and you also get time at Coral World.

To see a bit of the island and enjoy the beach do ‘Coral World & Megan’s Bay’. The kids will love Coral World (with the birds and marine life) and Megan’s Bay is a massive (stunning) beach with all the amenities you will need – including all mod cons/facilities/snorkel equipment for rent etc.

There are lots of tours which also go to St John. The island is very picturesque, but I recommend this to those who may have already been to St Thomas.

La Romana/Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic. 24th Dec 8am – 5pm.
First things first, take a tour. If you want to make the most of your time and see the nice areas do a tour. La Romana is the town area and Casa De Campo is a very large resort area around the River Chavon, with a lovely sub-resort/village called Altos De Chavon. Honestly, if you walk off the ship and through the port facility to the town, you will not see the best parts of the area.

There is a great golf course there called ‘Teeth of the Dog’ – the name is for a good reason – it bit me over and over again with a tendency to swallow my (golf) balls. I used to play with a (Spanish speaking) friend, at a time when I had such a bad slice I had to angle my body at 45degrees to the Fairway just to compensate for it. My first time playing there (having no understanding of Spanish at all) I asked one of the green keepers if he had some golf balls for me to purchase. But I was given the sentence to repeat by my ‘friend’ and it went something like this… ?Tu Madre Tiene Pelotas de Golf?… look it up… I got lots of angry looks and no golf balls!

Anyway, on to the Family Tours.
If you really want to make sure your kids get some education while on vacation then take them to Santo Domingo. It’s the overall best sightseeing tour we offer there. Not too sure if they will love you after a full day of history and sightseeing but at least you will be satisfied that all the ice cream they will have eaten during the cruise will have been washed down with a smidgen of culture and education!

There are a couple of beach tours… Bayahibe & Catalina Island. Then for some real fun there is the Speed Boat Tour to Saona Island… This will be my top recommendation.

I hope this helps somewhat. You really will have a great time on the ship. In my opinion with a Carnival Cruise, the ship is the destination and the ports are an added bonus. I highly recommend you meet the staff and get to know them as they can make your cruise so much fun. You will receive great service from your dining room and housekeeping team and everyone else you come into contact with.

Have a great Christmas Cruise with the Ship Team.
Many Thanks
Chris
Chris Jefferson
Cruise Director
Carnival Valor

Jim and Mary Asked:
John, Please respond! I am actively involved in a national organization (FTTH Council, Fiber-To-The-Home Council, ftthcouncil.org) and we just held our 2009 conference planning session in Houston, Texas. We are having our conference next year at the Hilton Americas in September. Carnival was thought of as several folks talked about the giant ball in Dallas. Question? Who do I contact at Carnival regarding participating in a prize giveaway opportunity? We typically have area businesses participate and one of our conference planning team members thought of a trip out of Galveston TX. Obviously Carnival’s name came up.
Thanks, Jim
Juan & Maria Santana

John Says:
Hello to you both.
What wonderful work you do with the FTTH Council. I have asked Stephanie to forward your request to the applicable person at Carnival HQ, who will be in contact with you shortly.
Please give this a few weeks to happen and if it does not, please let me know.
Thanks for reading the blog thingy.
Cheers,
John

Juan & Maria Asked:
Dear John & Heidi, my husband & I will be sailing on the Splendor to So. America from Pt.Evergaldes, FL, 1/31/09 and wish to know if you are going to be our cruise director on board. We are repeaters & we’ll love to have you. We just returned from Europe (2 back-to-back cruises) and we saw the Splendor on a couple ports. We felt like approaching the gangway and asking about you two! Pls. let us know. Good luck! Warmest regards,
Juan & Maria Santana

John Says:
Hello Juan and Maria,
Thank you for writing. I am so sorry but I will not be with you in South America. Your cruise director will be Goose, who along with the brilliant staff will make sure you have a wonderful time. I am sorry you didn’t walk up the gangway in Europe, it would have been wonderful to have seen you.
Have a wonderful time in South America.
Best wishes to you both,
John

Dave Carson Asked:
JOHN – – PLEASE REPLY
Is there any possibility that you will be the CD on either the October 3 or the October 15 sailing of Carnival Dream?
Thanks!

John Says:
Hello Dave,
I am afraid I will not be the Cruise Director on the Carnival Dream, however, I will be there with my wife and thingy for the inaugural festivities. The Cruise Director will be the brilliant Todd Wittmer. Hopefully, we will get to see you. Please let me know if you need anything else.
Best Wishes,
John

Carolyn and Don Asked:
Please reply
Hi John,
Just thirteen days to go until we board the Carnival Splendor, along with Gloria aka Sue and Larry. This is our first trip to San Juan, but we will have our own personal guide 🙂 Carnival’s best unofficial welcoming committee……Nanni. But we have never been to Dominican Republic either. Is there any special tour that you would recommend? Of course with the pain and problems with my feet it can’t involve very much walking. We may take the wheelchair though.
Well maybe, I’ll be able to email you and let you know that we were recipients of Just for the Fun of it while we are on the Carnival Splendor.
When it comes to Bond movies, you are absolutely right. I can not name one actress in any of the Bond movies. Ursula Andress is the only name that sounds familiar and I could not have said, Oh I remember her, she was in a James Bond movie…..
I’m so happy for you now that you are on your way towards home. I know how much you and Heidi have missed each other. I’m sure it has seemed even longer than it was. Hopefully you will get to go see the sweet little wee one when Heidi goes back to the doctor.
Countess Carolyn
PS I meant to tell you to be careful with those watermelons. They may be a little tender or down right sore.

John Says:
Hello Carolyn and Don,
Oh, how I wish I could be with you next week on the Carnival Splendor. I told Heidi about the beautiful thing you are making and she smiled the biggest smile. I am a bit out of touch with what is happening excursion wise in the Dominican Republic. I would like you therefore to speak directly to our Shore Excursion Manager who I have copied on this and will chat with you about what to do. Please make sure you send me your cabin number a couple of days before you sail. I wish I could be on the pier to see you soon and Larry and of course Nanni. It feels like just yesterday we were all together in Philadelphia.
Best wishes,
John and Heidi

Mr Bill from ZydecoCruiser.com Asked:
John, Please Answer
Is Ken Byrne planning on being on Carnival Splendor for the South America cruises? If not, can you tell me who the maitre d’ will be?
Thanks,
bill

John Says:
Hello Bill,
Always great so see your name on the blog. You will be happy to know that Ken will be your Maitre ‘D and I know he is expecting you.
Have a great time.
John


suemuller Asked:

I am happy that you’ve decided to stay with Carnival. Am also glad to see you are now calling Heidi’s “belly/baby bump” (I hate that phrase), the baby… John, It was so nice finally getting to meet you in Philly, a couple of weeks ago…it really was. Now I see why everybody loves you!!
I was sorry not to get to meet Heidi too. I got to meet Stephanie though!
I have a question, yay, finally. So *** JOHN PLEASE REPLY!!!***
Ted and I will, of course be on the bloggers cruise in Feb. with all of you, but DO WE NEED PASSPORTS?
I have heard different things from different people. Our Carnival PVP says that we don’t. If we do need them, then Ted and I will have to get working on getting them soon, as we have never had one. Thanks
Sue M(suefromnarrowsburg)

John Says:
Hello Sue,
Thank you for all the kind words. Heidi is really showing now or it may be the Big Mac she had for lunch. I would advise that you do bring your passports. Although you do not officially need to bring them, it is always the best form of documentation to travel with. If you do not have them and are not flying internationally, then a current driver’s license will be fine.
Can’t wait to see you in February.
Best wishes from us both to you and Ted.
John

PennyB Asked:
Hi Stephanie (&John)
It’s me, PennyB from New Orleans – checking in after a few weeks off.
PLEASE RESPOND – who is the shipping agent or person w/Carnival in New Orleans so I can talk with him about getting some donations for the Bloggers Cruise. I have some good contacts and can maybe snag some donations for the work party or dinner – drinks, beads, king cakes, etc. Please let me know who to contact in town. I guess you have my email –
Penny

John Says:
Hello Penny,
We are all very excited about coming to your beautiful city. Stephanie will send you information on the port agent in New Orleans. Thank you for your lovely kind offer and I will see you very soon.
Best Wishes,
John

donrae Asked:
Please reply:
Same problem as Cheryl D…Need to be included in all the blogger events on February 7, 2009 Cruise.
Just found out that Hubby forgot to give AmExpress the Blogger code. Can you help?
2 guests. FYI: You & John Cleese have the same pin stripe suit. (Cool). Twitter with John on Twitter.com/John Cleese

John Says:
Please don’t worry, Stephanie and I will make sure you are included in the bloggers group. Stephanie will provide information on this. It will be a great cruise and thanks for all you kind words.
John

Hi donrae,
You can add the blogger’s cruise fare code at any time. Just call 1-888-Carnival. But I will also make sure you are added to our list.
Stephanie

SEMPER fI Asked:

John no need to reply , Just wanted you to read as it was posted late
Thanks
Bill
Semper Fi
November 16th, 2008 at 10:28 am
John,
I was very happy to read that the top Management for Carnival has finally realized what we the cruisers and bloggers have know for years…….
John Heald represents EVERYTHING that Carnival stands for.
John, you have been able to serve your cruisers and your Company with EXCELLENCE for all these many years.
Look at the blog thingy.
over 3.3 million reads in less than 3 years.. What does that say for you?
Bloggers cruises that have grown from 1 a year to now 2/ maybe 3 a year and each one of them booked fully.
Carnival has realized that You are one of the reasons why there are so many gold and plat cruisers spending time on Carnival ships.
However with Fame you do sometimes have to give up what made you what you are in order for you and the company to grow.
As far as you being named “Carnival Brand Ambassador” .. CONGRATULATIONS… But I do have a question??
You and all the SUPER folks that run the ships the reservations and all the other behind the scenes jobs that go into providing all of US the EXCELLENT vacations we take regardless of the ship, are ALL BRAND AMBASSADORS.
Let’s face it Cindy and I along with the millions of other Carnival cruisers can cruise on any line we choose, but because of ALL of the folks that run the company and provide us with all the fun and excitement that we experience on the Carnival ships is the reason why we return cruise after cruise. Yes the other lines are nice and I would never put any of them down (unless they have an X on their smoke stacks) but Carnival is the leader. (in our opinion, and since its my credit card I
guess it counts lol)
I have said it before and will continue to say it over and over again to anyone who will listen (and to some who won’t) Carnival Cruises are the best by far of any line.
And on a personal note YOU yes YOU John are the reason so many of us return.
You understand better than anyone what the cruisers, be they first timers or seasoned cruise veterans, are looking for and you always work hard to provide that experience for all.
Yes we will all miss you being a Full Time CD, and personally Cindy and I will miss not having you on board with us, you have set the benchmark for all cruise directors and the thing you should be proud of is that fact that all the other CD’s have risen to the occasion and like you live and breath customer satisfaction and fun.
They say that imitation is the truest form of flattery, well sir there are 23 others out there right now on various ships doing just that.
As far as this “day off thingy” is concerned…lol you have more than earned it. ENJOY.. Yes we will all go thru some WITHDRAW but we will survive and carry on.
I know that you have a long flight back home on Monday but remember what will be waiting for you when you get there.(so don’t get on the plane lol )
sorry to be so long winded today folks but when it comes to Brand Carnival i will always get on my soap box.
Again my friend congratulations on your new position. Think of it this way…
You will now be performing on a much larger stage… the one which will influence Millions of folks to cruise Carnival.
Be safe
Semper Fi
PS. be very careful with the WATERMELLON comments in front of Heidi. You may wind up spitting seeds for a long time lol

John Says:
Hello Bill,
All I can say is that having read your comment, words such as these are ones I will treasure forever. Indeed, all the crew are Brand Ambassadors and thank you so much for taking the time to acknowledge them all.
You will probably have noticed I will be spending some time as Cruise Director next year, which mixed with my Brand Ambassador position and of course and on top of the list, the arrival of our Thingy will make it a very exciting year.
As you are an ex Marine, I feel very proud in writing to you and calling you a friend.
Cheers,
john

Well, as you can see there was a bit of a cerfufale (British word) yesterday regarding the bloggers cruise next year on the Carnival Dream. I have to be honest and tell you that I didn’t really want to do three next year as it sort of makes it a little less……….ummm…….special. However, having completely made a hash of the whole thing I have to stand by what I wrote. Hopefully, there will be sufficient people who want to sail with me on both and I hope my friends Big Ed, Host Mac and Kuki can put some groups together for what will be a brilliant time I promise. Once again, my apologies for making this as confusing as it was …………….. hopefully now everyone is happy.

But by far and away the stupidest idea for making money in the whole of human history is something on the interweb thing…………..it’s called Skype.

I would dearly have loved to have been in the bank manager’s office when the inventors strolled in and asked for a loan to get their idea off the ground.

“Yes. Our idea is that you download a programme from the internet, which costs customers nothing, and then they can make completely free video phone calls to anywhere in the entire world. How brilliant is that?!!!

Right. So it doesn’t cost anything to buy. And the calls cost nothing either.

I bet the bank manager exploded from laughing so much.

But I bet he’s not laughing now because Skype was sold to eBay in 2005, netting the inventors £5.2 million. I still don’t understand how it makes money but I do know it’s brilliant.

I have it on my computer now — under a false name — and sometimes, just for the hell of it, I ring up people in Paris asking them if they want to buy some soap…………..they usually hang up after calling me a mierde head.

And here’s the really good bit. You can have a conference call. This means you could have a dinner party, for all your closest friends. And not bother cooking anything. Or even inviting them.

The only drawback is the video bit. The idea that you can see the person you’re talking to. This worked fine in the movies but when you are being watched, it is very difficult to lie. On a normal phone, it’s very easy to say you are working hard. You only need to get your voice right. But when you have to get your face right as well, that’s tricky. I dread the day that I have to have a conference call with my friend Ruben and the marketing team who will see that I honestly haven’t a clue what they are talking about as they “Reach out for a session of out of the box thinking and a bit of ladder up marketing.”……..it’s OK to sit on the other end of the phone on a conference call because if you just say “yes” or “mmmmmmmm, I agree” every three minutes everyone thinks you speak the same language. However with SKYPE it’s impossible to hide that your face looks like an Amish electrician.

Especially when the caller can see that, actually, you are butt naked applying your hemmoroid cream during the call.

Despite this, there’s no getting away from the fact that the calls, Skype to Skype at least, cost nothing.
And that’s just epic.

I can only hope now that the inventors, with all their cash, buy Aston Martin and design a car which costs nothing to buy. ………………………And nothing to run, as well.

Anyway, I used Skype today to talk to my sister Suedrip in Hong Kong and she confirmed that the family will be coming here this Christmas so we shall all be together again which is, of course, wonderful.

Anyway, I called my sister today to vent about her fellow bankers. So far the credit crunch thingy has been something that has happened to others. Yes, the value of my shares has been falling quicker than Paris Hilton’s knickers but I have confidence that they will bounce back sooner rather than later.

However, this morning I received a letter. I am sure that when a doctor has to tell you that you have contracted a rare tropical disease and that in a few days your man bits will fall off, he does so with a certain degree of love and sympathy in his voice.

But when a financial services company writes to say you’re going to lose your house, they don’t bother.
This week, I had a letter from a company that it would be unprofessional for me to mention…………..AIG………….saying that the endowment policy I took out to cover my £120,000 mortgage is going to come up short. Very short…………..as short as a dwarf with no legs……….. And that unless I find a big lump of money — soon — I will lose my house. Of course, when I started the policy many years ago, a smiley salesman with shiny hair and a shiny suit explained that the value of my investment may go down but he made this sound as unlikely as finding someone actually using a ship-based climbing wall. Or being eaten by vegetarian shark. The chances are, he said, you’ll probably end up with more than £120,000. So you can pay off the mortgage and have enough left over for a new car and lashings of Rolexes.

So you can imagine my horror when, I received a letter from explaining that, at best, I shall only get £60,400 back. But that it could be as little as £52,000.

In other words, when the mortgage company wants its money back in 2011, I could well be £24,000 in the big red.

I’m very amazed but the most amazing thing of all is the tone of the letter.
It says simply that my savings plan has been issued with a “red” alert because there’s a “high risk” it won’t pay out enough to meet the target. It then “strongly suggests” I take action to make sure I can repay my mortgage when the time comes.

What action? Shall I sell my Thingy for medical experiments? Put Heidi on the internet with a big bottle of baby oil and tell her to pretend she is Latvian ……………………What?

No, says AIG. What I should do is take out another one of their savings plans. This way, they can lose even more of my money. ………………..how about bollocks?

I have never read such a more impersonal letter in my life………..maybe the author used to work for American Airlines. There’s no hint of apology or remorse. No sense that the house you’ve saved up for all your life is now going to be repossessed and sold to a family from Poland

What it should say is this:

Dear Customer
The past 15 years have seen unparalleled growth on the stock market and in property. Even a yak could have turned a profit in the city over this period. But – and I know you won’t believe this – we took your money . . . and we have buggered off with it……………it’s gone…………and your screwed.

I know it sounds ridiculous but we invested in idiotic stuff that didn’t work, and even when we did manage to back a winner we spent the profits on lap dances, sports sponsorship and a new Bentley for
our CEO’s wife’s gardener.

I’m afraid, therefore, that we are a bunch of useless idiots. You might even call us thieves and pirates and in fact we are considering opening a nautical office in Somalia.
But don’t worry. We know we have to do the right thing.

So we shall be selling our expensive offices on Wall Street and moving to a shit shack in the swamps of Louisiana.

Our chairman has resigned, and is as we speak, having a sex change and will from next week be called Elsie and will be found working at Hooters. Where all her tips will go toward paying off the money we stole from you.

Sincerely
Mr. A Bastard
Chairman

So, desperate times…………..the answer is of course to have advertising here on the blog thingy……….and therefore here is this blog’s first official sponsor.

blogsponsor

Goodnight
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.