A Winter's Day

November 22, 2008 -

John Heald

So, I spoke to my mate Ken the maitre d yesterday……….well……………..when I say spoke we, of course, used the e mail thingy but we had a good conversation. We have been friends for many years and I like to think we are very, very similar. We are both are very close to our families and have an unrivaled passion when it comes to Carnival Cruise Lines. We both always put the guests first and always do everything we can to make sure the guest has what they desire…………sometimes though that is not possible and what they ask for is something that cannot be done.

Ken was telling me about the two-day cruise recently finished on the Carnival Splendor. The guests had fun and were brilliantly responsive to all the activities, shows and events and, of course, the service and fun provided by Ken and his staff in the dining rooms.

However, Ken told me that one man wanted a table for 15…………..Ken explained that the largest table we have in the dining room was 12 …………that’s the Captain’s table and even offered him that with a smaller table close by. Now, not only was the guest not happy with this but he swore, screamed and threatened Ken with violence……………Now Ken, being Ken, managed to calm the situation down because he is the best at what he does. However, there are many who would not have been able to handle that situation and, of course………………should never have to.

However, this brings up a sensitive point……..let me explain.

Many years ago, when aircraft were made from canvas and the skies were full of angry Germans, it was a very good idea to brief the passengers on what they might do if the plane were to start crashing.
Today, though, it’s a complete waste of time. In the whole history of civil aviation, not one single life has been saved by a lifejacket. So why bother telling us where it is and how to put it on? In fact, why bother telling us anything because either the plane is going to reach its destination, or it is going to plunge into a mountain at 500 mph and explode into a million pieces. Either way, you will not be needing a “whistle for attracting attention.” And yes, we know that we are not allowed cigarettes. We also know the lavatories are fitted with sensitive smoke detectors, we know that the nearest exit might be behind us and we know that all planes are different these days.

However, if we point out any of this to the airline staff — or worse, ask why they don’t supply parachutes or why we have to pay a billion dollars for a Diet Coke — we risk being accused of air rage and thrown off the plane. It’s the same story at the check-in desk. Or at a car hire desk. Or in Walgreens. It’s the same story everywhere. React, and you will be thrown out, kicked off or a burly security guard has arrived and you’re lying on the sidewalk with a broken spleen.

But not a cruise ship.

And this drives me crazy. Yes, there is a certain level we all must adhere to and sometimes guests have a reason to get angry. However, threaten a crew member …………. any crewmember…………..with violence……………then that guest must be disembarked in the next port. This I believe should be an industry wide policy. Now, I may not be speaking for Carnival Cruise Lines here but that’s my opinion and one that I have to say that most of the time Carnival are excellent with but word needs to spread ……………. threaten a crew member and you will have a choice……..be nice…or….be thrown off the ship.

On a lighter note last night we went out for dinner with Alan and his wife Alison. We decided to eat at a 17th century country hotel. This used to be a summer residence of some Duke or something and is pretty spectacular on the outside but the inside was a different story………….This place presented me one of those “oh this is great for the blog thingy” moments.

The dining room, for instance, featured an altar — and, on the far wall, some curtains, behind which, I can only presume, there was an oven. So when the older guests, so prevalent here on the south coast of the UK, drop dead in the potato and leek soup, they can be cremated on site. “You check in. We check you out.” Maybe that’s the hotel’s motto.

I must also mention our waitress. She was a pretty little thing who laughed, and I mean like a drunk hyena, whenever anyone spoke to her.

After dinner she took me into a broom cupboard — I felt a Boris Becker moment coming on but sadly it was not to be. She needed to explain, she said, that she was joyful because she has Jesus Christ our saviour inside her. Lucky old Jesus. ……………and that the tip I had given her would be sent to her sister who was a missionary in the Congo…………..I gave her another £10………………it was a very, very strange place

The bar was full of dead pensioners, a group of men all wearing dark suits with dark shirts and looked like the baddies from a Die Hard movie.

I therefore went to the lounge and guess what I found? If it had been a Roman orgy I wouldn’t have been surprised, but in fact there were 30 old age British pensioners ……………all wearing jeans and cowboy hats with blue denim shirts proclaiming they were members of the British Country Line Dance Association.

Oh, one last thing …………..the food was good except I ordered an old British favorite as an appetizer…………..liver and bacon……………it’s a major delicacy here in the UK but unfortunately the smell of the Liver made my Thingy feel sick and Heidi had to leave the table until I had eaten it………….and that was me in the doghouse…………………..I was going to order the roasted pheasant for main course but being the good husband I am and not wanting to be covered in vomit…………….I had the chicken.

Here’s another guest blog from my friend Big Tex on the Carnival Fantasy.


Here at Carnival we’re always try to make our guests feel special and today I decided to something extra special for a couple aboard the Fantasy.

I’m not sure where we’ve gone wrong as a society, but I am genuinely shocked at the way some people react to these random acts of kindness. Most guests get excited and it shows. But there is a small minority of people who, well…for lack of a better description, just don’t trust us. They’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Mainly, by performing these random acts of kindness, we’re just showing folks that there are people out there who have no ill-will or ulterior motive. We are here to do our job and make sure that you are treated like an individual. We are here to make sure that, if for no other reason than “just because,” something nice happens for you. We are here, because we love what we do and we care about you, not only as a customer, but as a person. We are here because we believe in one simple principle, fun for all and all for fun.

Just yesterday, I called a random guest cabin and said “Hello, this is your Cruise Director, Big Tex, and just for the fun of it, I wanted to see how your day was going and if there is anything I can help you with.”

The response wasn’t quite what I’d hoped for.

“Who…are you that guy from the TV? What are you calling for, whatever it is, we don’t want it.”


I was a bit shocked to say the least. First of all, I was just trying to be nice. Second of all, I’m a lot more than the guy on TV. I’m also the guy who hosts the shows, activities, talks to the guests, gives the important information and a whole lot more.

Who did this guy think he was, talking to me like that?

I decided that instead of letting it get the best of me, I would do something about it.

Seeing that Johnny Hang-Up was traveling with a female companion, I showed up at his dinner table with a bottle of champagne and a plate of strawberries for the two of them.

I said “Hi, I’m Big Tex, we spoke earlier today and I just wanted to find out how your day was going and if I could do anything for you. You didn’t seem to be in a mood to talk this afternoon,” with just a little bit of sarcasm for effect.

He said, “Hi, I’m Tom, this is my new wife Amy. We’re on our honeymoon. I’m really sorry if I was rude on the phone today, but we…well, we…we were…you know…kind of…in the middle of something…”

That sentence hung there for about 30 seconds, just enough time for me to turn six shades of red, set the gift on the table, remove my foot from my mouth and scuttle off into the night.

So the next time you’re in the middle of…well…you know…something private, don’t answer the phone, it might be me.

As requested some photos of me in my football gear:

As a junior in high school…

…and a freshman in college.

Until tomorrow,


I received some e-mail saying that having heard that I would be sailing as Cruise Director on the Carnival Valor that you have booked a cruise to be with me. So thanks to the Cohen family and Randy who will be joining me. I am really looking forward to sailing on a ship I have never been on before and the ports of call sound brilliant …………….I will be talking about them very soon. Let me know if you will be sailing with me this year so I can make it even more of a special cruise.

The credit crunch may still be here but from all the press I have been reading the cruise industry continues to stay strong. The building surge of the past few years has put the cruise industry at the cutting edge of design and innovation, creating an enormous variety of ships from Carnival, Costa, P&O, as well as Holland America’s, AIDA’s Princess’s gigantic and magnificent super liners to the incomparable ocean liners of Cunard and the smaller uba luxury vessels modelled on millionaires’ private yachts that is Seabourn. There really is something for everyone…….pass the word to your friends………it’s time to take a cruise.

It’s a beautiful day today here in Essex. It’s just a bit on the chilly side, the skies are tanzanite blue and it felt really good to walk down my local high street this morning ……………………..however, I noticed something quite disturbing…….and I am sure it’s not just here in my hometown.

Go out in to the street and look at your fellow human beings. Any street. See how they walk, and how different it is from the way we used to walk around 15 years ago.

No one takes advantage of a crisp winter day to look at the changing leaves or the bottom of the super model-type walking her poodle. No one nods, or flirts, or even looks at anyone else. Everyone has the same drugged, internal, abstracted look: and why?

Because we are all on our cell phone. We are either making a call – a call that could almost certainly wait until we get to a landline – and have the tool glued to our sweaty ear. Or else we have it in our hands.

See how we cuddle and hug it. Watch how we stroke its smooth skin and wonder what use to make of it next. Shall we dial a number and disconnect? Shall we send a text, a photo, or look up the nearest shop that sells hemmeroid cream on the web thingy?

I walked from the newspaper shop back to the car……………that’s a 10-minute walk and guess how many people I counted just on my side of the pavement on the phone this Saturday morning……………go on……….have a guess ……… nope ……… 28……..how sad is that………..and at least half were teenagers.

When I was a teenager, there was no internet, so on a beautiful winter’s day like this we had to make do with sitting on park benches drinking cheap beer and smoking cheap cigarettes, and it never did us any harm. But the government and the media thought the 21st-century teen was doing far too much of this, so now they have to stay at home in darkened rooms, developing sinister, unintelligible languages with friends in chat rooms (sample: “she iz well fit!! lolcat! rofl!!”). When my Thingy is born, I know which I’d rather have him/her do, and it’s the option that involves lashings of Carlsberg.

I am all for the Internet, in principle: I suppose it is very good for finding www.bestblogsatsea.com and for watching videos of young men damaging their genitals during skateboarding accidents. But in practice it is like a vortex that sucks you in, and before you know it you have spent five hours stalking your ex girlfriend online or joining a Gothic cult.

During a Morning Show on the Carnival Splendor I remember a guest writing me a letter which told me about her addiction to a dating website: she suddenly realized the reason she was single when she found herself logging on for the 17th time in one day. “The Internet wasn’t helping my life,” she wailed,
“It was ruining it.”

Even when you go outside and into the real world, you are in for a surprise. Heidi just got back from a huge American-style shopping mall called Bluewater. She needed some new clothes as apparently she is putting on weight. ……..now, I know some of you are thinking I should have gone with her but as much as I love her I would rather family of rats take up home in my underpants than walk around a mall looking for women’s clothes.

Anyway Heidi came back and was able to add to the them of this part of the blog thingy.

She was confused to find that, in the store of a major clothing company, there were no cash registers. You had to go up to the very young and highly stapled staff in brightly colored T-shirts and they would swipe your credit card purchase there and then on the shop floor.

“But what if I wanted to pay with cash?”
“Then you’re in for a long wait,” said the girl with staples in her nose.

Apparently, the Government wants to encourage consumers to use their cards. Now, would you like me to e-mail you the receipt? “Um, is this not the same government preaching sensible spending?” Or are big retailers using them as an excuse for their own dubious intentions? Whatever the answer, I am sure that it’s the consumer, as usual, who fails to benefit from it.

In America, dozens of women are suing the lingerie firm Victoria’s Secret, claiming that their bras have made them ill and given them warts and boils. Which raises the question: do you think I could sue the company for making me walk into a Smoothie Stand and bruise my ankle because they had a beautiful life size photo of Heidi Klum in stockings and suspenders in their window…………………….probably not.

Have a great weekend and thanks so very, very much for allowing me a day off tomorrow. I have a special blog ready for Monday so see you then.
Your friends
John and Heidi

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.