Looking Through the Porthole

November 24, 2008 -

John Heald

It’s a good job Heidi got pregnant. That’s because this morning I received a letter from the British Adoption service we had registered with a few months ago. Unfortunately, despite the fact that Heidi and I would have loved the child beyond measure and having big coal fires to keep everyone warm at night, I would not be deemed suitable, because men with beards and tofu-eating women have determined that it’s bad to place a child in the care of someone who is fat and who smokes the occasional cigar and works away from home ………. yep……………..forget the fact that we have a nice home and lots of family support ………..we are not “suitable candidates”……………………….what a load of bollocks.

However, if I weighed 50 pounds less and worked regular shifts at some random job I could adopt a child…………..I have no words.

Still, I guess I should be happy that Heidi is now pregnant and adoption is not needed………but I am still very angry that if we hadn’t been blessed with a child then ………..well…………..it’s not worth getting myself all worked up about is it?

Anyway, Heidi is doing well. She gets tired very quickly which is why we went out for dinner the other night rather than Heidi have to cook a big meal. I am doing everything I can to help and at the same time try and understand her “emotions” which are ummmmm……a little fragile at times.

Yep, this pregnancy thing is really showing me the difference between male genes and the female ones.

Understanding them takes superhero strength. I think men have a superhero gene in them which enables them to get through times like this. Women have different strengths but not that superhero one. You see, growing up men had Spiderman, Batman and Superman as role models………..women had ……….. well Wonder Woman who, lets face it had super bosoms ……….and apart from being able to spin in a circle her biggest assets were her …… ummmm ……….. thingies.

However, as I call upon my superhero powers to get through these trying times I am also realizing that my worship of the caped crusader and his mates may well be the reason me and my fellow man have relationship problems. You see, as I sit here and just write what’s in my head while calling myself superman to be able to get through Heidi’s pregnancy emotions I realize that no superhero has ever been any good with women. Spiderman lived with his aunty …………… and as for Superman………….well if I had been him I would have walked around wearing a T-shirt saying “I’m Superman” and used my powers to get rumpy pumpy with any woman I wanted…………the only thing that could have stopped me would have been a condom made of kryptonite. I would have used my X- ray vision to look at bottoms and my eye lasers to burn “Fun For All and All For Fun” on the hull of the “Something of the Seas.”……………….yep, that’s my kind of superhero.

As for Batman…………..well he preferred to walk around in lycra with his friend Robin …………they lived in constant fear that they would be found out ………. not that they were Super Heroes…………but that they were ummmm …………. planning to move the Bat Cave from Gotham City to San Francisco

The last time I saw Heidi’s emotions like this was when we were planning our wedding…………….she became Bridezilla and my superhero strengths were called upon yet again. The wedding gene is one only women possess……..a gene to actually enjoy weddings. I think this gene is already active when they are born………..within just a few hours of entering the world the female of the species is already looking around the delivery room thinking how nice those sunflowers will look at her wedding. A man will just concern himself with how much the wedding will cost and what time to turn up at the church in a reasonably clean suit.

And as I write I seem to be drawn into the differences between men and women …………….. Here’s another one I noticed today. The last few days I seem to have accumulated a lot of change. Yet due to the presence of the “loose change” gene I will always pay with a crisp note rather than mince around trying to find the right change.

I fear being one of those poor sods that the rest of the people in line at the Publix stare and mutter nasty words at under their breath…………or if you are in Miami they say to your face…………in Spanish. You’re at the cash register fumbling around with your coinage trying to separate the quarters and pennies from the bits of snot-ridden tissues which have been put through the washing machine and have solidified into an off green lump. Loose change is not manly………….it is not for men.

Women and Heidi in particular will stand at the cash register and count out $7.43 exactly, oblivious to the fact that the line now has 39 people standing it………. Two of whom have died while waiting.

Yep………….we are different creatures and as life with Heidi and the Thingy continues this is becoming more and more obvious each and every day.

OK, let’s do some replies to your questions. Here we go.

Maria Asked:
Hi John, Heidi and thingy,
(please reply)
Wow, in 8 days my hubby and I will be on the Splendor, can’t wait. As for AIG, and all the other companies and banks that are part of the big “bail out,” let their CEOs, CFOs, UFOs (unidentifiable financial outcasts) take the heat. Make them pay back all those millions spent on “goodies” and perks. Let them sweat at the thought of “losing it all.” Enough venting. You are a breath of fresh air. Thanks to Chris for the tour info, I have a question, we are taking the Altos de Chavon tour in La Romana, is there anywhere interesting that we could go on our return? I speak Spanish, telling cab drivers were to go is no problem. Thanks in advance. Maria

John Says:
Hello Maria
Thanks for taking the time to write and for your support of the blog thingy. I spoke to Chris who recommends that after the tour you explore the duty-free area that makes up the downtown area. Apparently, the shopping is excellent and if that’s not your cup of tea then there are plenty of places for swimming and snorkeling. Being able to speak Spanish will really help but always remember to fix the price with the driver before you take a taxi anywhere. I hope you all have fun and please pass on my regards to the Captain and crew of the great Carnival Splendor.

Karl Asked:
Hi John, sorry to disturbed you twice in such a short period of time…
But I was thinking, since you are on the Inaugural Dream cruise anyway. Why don’t we make it the Inaugural Carnival Dream Bloggers Cruise… for all those blogging people on board that already have booked? We would love to have all the extra special gifts etc. And since we are extra special for being on the Inaugural … why not… Or maybe we can’t officially call it a bloggers cruise, then it would be the Unofficial Carnival Dream’s Office Inaugural Cruise (UCDOIC). But maybe that’s to complicated Hope you agree and will reply on your blog!

John Says:
Hello Karl
Great idea. While it won’t be an official bloggers cruise I will certainly make sure we have some private bloggers inaugural gatherings…………..I may even buy you a few drinks. It is going to be a wonderful cruise and I am so happy that you will get to experience this amazing voyage. See you there and remember if you have any questions about ports, etc please let me know.

Shawn Granberg Asked:
Please reply:
Hey John,
My Friend & I were on the CARNIVAL TRIUMPH about 10 years ago, out of Miami and you were our CD on that voyage… Now were are to set sail again, but this time on the CARNIVAL SPLENDOR on the Oct.18 2009 sailing…
We are just wondering if we might get to sail again with us. I am wondering what Shore tours I would be able to do, I have a disability but I am not in a Wheel Chair…. I wish you and Heidi the best.
Also just thought I let you know this is my first blog to you and yes I do view the you tube clips and love your funny comments about us Americans and you Brits.
Thank you,
Shawn G.

John Says:
Hello Shawn
The Carnival Triumph seems such a long time ago but I have wonderful memories of what will always be one of my favorite ships. I won’t be the cruise director on the Carnival Splendor but I will be onboard with you writing about this brilliant ship and of course we will get to spend some time together. You asked for advice about the ports…………….well………..I will be honored to be your guide so why not list the ports you want to ask about plus tell me a little about yourself. By this I mean what you and your family like to do and what, if any, walking challenges you may have. Please write to me when you can and I will devise a list of recommendations of what to do in the ports of call. I hope you will keep reading the blog thingy and I will look forward to hearing from you soon.

Shirley Cales Asked:
John please reply.
Okay now I have researched my facts and discovered my mistake. When you told me you would be with us for our Carnival Dream TA next year, you didn’t say that it would be a bloggers cruise. I wrongly inferred that. My bad. So I apologize for the mistake. Once you replied to all the other disappointed people who thought the bloggers cruise was to be theirs, I looked back and all you said was that you would be along for the 16 day TA, not as CD, and get to spend lots of time with us. So if this is still the case, I am still very happy. Actually, I’ve enjoyed every cruise I’ve ever been on and I’m sure my sister will enjoy her first cruise no matter what. How could we not love sixteen days on a fabulous ship?
So now I am thinking that you will be taking the TA in order to go stateside for the subsequent bloggers cruises, right? Sixteen days of fun and relaxation sure beats the faster but tedious flight across the pond. And I have ten grandchildren and can get letters of recommendation if there’s any babysitting needed during this trip.

John Says:
Please do not feel the need to apologize – that is definitely not neccessary. It was all my fault and I got very confused as to which cruises I would be sailing on aboard the Carnival Dream. I will be on the TA and, although I will not be cruise director, I will be there hopefully with Heidi and the Thingy as we head to America …………it will be wonderful to write about this experience for the blog. Thanks for the offer of babysitting…………we may very well take you up on this. See you soon and thank you once again for taking the time to write

Peg Dunbar Asked:
Dear John, I too have never watched 24, and according to my dear friend in Boston, I am nuts for not watching it. But I am in good company as Mach seems to not watch the show either. I hope you are enjoying your time off, you are so deserving of it. I know how much you must miss being a CD on any Carnival ship, but you truly must be missed on the Splendor. You truly are what a CD should be like. You are so caring with the pax, you want to make them as happy as possible and you want them to have fun and come back for another cruise. If there is a problem, you take care of it or make sure it is. I hope every CD is like you that works for Carnival, and if not that they take lessons from you on what they need to do.

AIG, well, I can only sympathize with you. We are very blessed to have our home paid for BUT the stock market is playing havoc with our money, the money we saved for so many years to travel. But I pray we do not have to use whatever money is left for other things since we are now retired.

And speaking of travel, John can you please Reply. Do you know if and or when Carnival may have plans to sail to Ireland and beyond (whatever that means :D). My husband has finally gotten the “travel bug,” limited at best, but he does finally have it. And Ireland is one of the places he wants to go. I would love to see many more places in Europe, but with the economy in the toilet I can only imagine that Carnival may want to put off plans of this kind until it settles down. But any information you may have would be appreciated.
Keep smiling John, my very best to Heidi and the baby.

John Says:
What wonderful words and ones we both treasure. I do really miss being a CD and I hope I can sustain the blog thingy until I get back. Being a cruise director and now Brand Ambassador means I have the best two jobs in the industry but in my heart being a CD is something I want to keep doing for as long as I can.

In 2002 the Carnival Legend sailed around the British Isles and obviously for me it was one of the most memorable cruises of my career and I can understand why you and so many others would like a chance to do this. County Cork in Ireland was the highlight and never say never……….I hope that we may be doing this again one day soon. If we do………….I hope we will do it together. My best to you and your family

Lorraine & Mom Susan Asked:
John (please reply)
How does a British person take advantage of the Blogger cruise codes you posted on your “Thingy”?
Can we get the same prices without flights as our US friends can?
I love to cruise Carnival & now it’s now longer cruising in Europe I want to keep getting my Carnival fix without the “Pond divide price crunch”?? Help required please.
Lorraine & Mom, Susan, Splendor Cruise, Aug 30 2008

John Says:
Hello you two.
It’s great to hear from you………….bloody hell its cold today………….did you have snow yesterday like us? I am going to ask Stephanie to send you details of the bloggers cruise fair codes so that you can take full advantage of this great voyage. You can also join Big Ed, Cruise Critic or Cruise Mates groups and I am sure all these chaps will send you details. I hope the credit crunch calms down and we will see you and Mum again very soon.

Julie Gantt Asked:
I am booked on the HOLIDAY departing Mobile Alabama Jan 31, 2009.
Could you please tell me who the cruise director and Captain will be?
Thank You!
I am so glad you’re getting some time at home; you deserve it, and give my
best to Heidi and Thingy.
Happy Birthday to Tex, he’s a hunk!
As always, Stephanie, you are an awesome blogmaster!
Hi everyone, any fellow bloggers going to be on the HOLIDAY 1/31/09? Drop me a note and we’ll say hi julkg@yahoo.com
Happy (early) Thanksgiving to all who enjoy the holiday!
Julie Gantt

John Says:
Hello Julie
Thanks for taking the time to say thanks to Stephanie who works so hard to make sure this blog stays as popular as it is. Have a wonderful cruise on the Holiday. The Captain will be Carmelo Marino and the cruise director will be a brilliant young lady called Tori Secoy. The ship will be leaving us soon and as I probably won’t get a chance to say goodbye I wonder if you could say goodbye for me.
Have a wonderful cruise

Theresa Asked:
Heidi is so lucky to have you and Thingy’s lucky to have you and Heidi. Enjoy your short R&R. Be nice to Heidi over the next few months. By the way, if you think your sleep schedule is rough now, just wait. I just found out from someone the true meaning of sleep like a baby…. you sleep for two hours and are up for two hours, you sleep for two hours and are up for two hours…….

Now for a blog topic: Guys and the Dentist. I’ve been married almost 31 years and my husband HATES the dentist but it’s now of dire importance that he get there or else, from a monetary perspective, I will have: 1) thrown down the hopper a quarter of the US $1800 I spend for family dental coverage; and 2) $4,000 worth of coverage he is entitled to use by December 31st!! When I heard this evening that he had broken molars that he hadn’t taken care of, I flipped, and out of my mouth came “I didn’t marry a redneck”…. you know those guys who walk around with no teeth, hunt (which he does do) and his idea of dressed up is a golf shirt and jeans (that part I’m ok with)! He’s only 51! He got up from the dinner table and didn’t speak to me the rest of tonight. I’d love for you to do a blog about men and their “fears” and then you wonder why God made women! Tee hee!!!

PS: my phobia about taking care of your teeth is really a health issue – men have died of heart attacks because they had an infected tooth (Google Dr. G – the forensic lady coroner on TLC or Discovery and maybe you can find the episode). Heart attacks are an absolute fear of mine – I lost my dad at 57. Cheers, John, and thanks for passing my other note about my Destiny cabin dilemma on. Hopefully Stephanie will be able to help me.

John Says:
Thanks for the “teeth” warning. I have heard this before and I know that even though I would rather blow torch my nipples off then go to the dentist its something I must do. I was glad to be able to try and help with the cabin situation. Can you confirm that someone from carnival has been in touch?
I remain at your service and hope you and the family are well.


Irish Sharon Asked:
Hello, John! (Please reply, if possible),
I am a rather new to your blog, having found it after our first cruise in April – but have been an avid fan since. I look forward to your stories daily, and my husband is often drawn to my home office upon hearing me laugh while reading them – so thank you! I am treating my husband to a surprise second honeymoon cruise on the Conquest on 12/14/08, and wondered if you had any suggestions for a romantic excursion at any of the ports of call? We fell in love with the Conquest (and Ralph/Wee Jimmy) on our first cruise in April, and took most of the “touristy” excursions then (Tulum, Stingray City, etc.); but I am not sure what to book this time. Thanks in advance for any suggestions you may have, and enjoy your time at home with Heidi & the thingy!!

John Says:
Top of the morning to you Irish Sharon

I am so glad you have discovered the blog thingy and I hope the laughs continue for many months to come. I am not surprised you “fell in love with Wee Jimmy” because many other guests feel the same way. He is by far the best of the short Cruise Directors we have. How wonderful that you have booked a surprise vacation for your husband on the Carnival Conquest. I will write to Wee Jimmy to ask for his immediate response as to what excursions he recommends as I have not been to these ports for some time. So, stand by and I will send you wee Jimmy’s report ASAP. Until then please keep reading and my best to you and your husband

Flip Flop Cruise Queen Asked:
John, Please Respond,
Are you still thinking about doing a bloggers cruise on the Trans Atlantic sailing of the Dream in October 2009? And, if not, are you still going to be on there? That is when we are doing the Celebrate the Heroes cruise. I hope your answer yes.

John Says:
Hello Sheryl
I will be there. It won’t be an official bloggers cruise but I shall wear the shirts with pride and assist you in anyway I can. Let’s chat before the voyage so we can make this extra special

That’s it for now. I will reply to the next lot on Friday so if there is anything I can do for you please let me know. Also………and on behalf of Heidi and the Thingy …………. thank you for letting me have a day off yesterday …………I felt very strange not writing to you and if the truth be told I felt quite guilty………hope it was OK and thanks again.

Let’s check in with Big Texas who if he loses anymore weight we have to start calling Rhode Island


Hello everyone. It’s a beautiful day in Cozumel and while the guests are off the ship enjoying all the things this tropical paradise has to offer, I’m stuck onboard, but I’m going to use this time wisely.

I’ve had football on the TV all day, which in itself, is nothing spectacular. Anytime that a football game is being played, I’ve got the TV tuned to the game. However, today I’ve been overwhelmed, by a deluge of Christmas commercials. It wasn’t until the 70th or 80th commercial, that I realized the Holiday Season is officially upon us.

Now admittedly, I might be a little late in my realization. For goodness sake, the holiday decorations were put up here on the Fantasy November 10. The dancers started rehearsing for the Christmas Show last week. Every Mega-Lo Mart you walk into has ‘White Christmas” or any number of holiday tunes playing loudly over the PA system. I fought it as long as I could, not because I don’t like the holidays. It’s just that to me, Christmas is another chance to fail miserably while buying my wife a gift.

“Tex, it can’t be that bad,” you’re undoubtedly saying to yourself – but my friends, it is.

One year, I bought lingerie. It seemed sexy and romantic. It was quickly pointed out that lingerie is a gift for me, not her. This wasn’t pointed out by my wife mind you, she’s far too kind to address my shortcomings. No, it was pointed out by every female friend she had and a few of my male friends as well (perhaps they had experienced my shame before). My mistake was compounded by the fact that I didn’t know the difference between an A cup, a C cup, or a fruit cup for that matter. If you must buy lingerie, don’t by a bra two cup sizes too small.

Thinking that I would correct my mistake the next year, I went for something that would definitely not be a “gift” for me. I wanted my wife to be comfortable when she was lounging around our cabin. So I bought her this soft, satiny robe. It had embroidery on the sleeves and collar. It was covered in a large floral print and was accented with pink pineapples and blue palm trees. It wasn’t the most attractive thing I’ve ever seen, but I knew it would be “comfortable.” This time Kimberley was nice enough to point out my mistake. She said the “robe” was actually a muumuu. Apparently, it’s not something a 27 year old woman wears.

So last year, I was pretty sure I had it figured out. Instead of buying her a gift, I bought her a card. Inside the card I wrote “Kimberley, since you’re so hard to buy for, I didn’t get you anything, but I’ll take you shopping when you’re ready. Merry Christmas, Me”

I thought it was a pretty good plan. It was a bad, bad plan. We did go shopping, and she got what she wanted. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for me. It was at least a month before I got what I wanted.

The new Carnival pier in Cozumel – Puerta Maya.

A Mexican sunset next to the Carnival Ecstasy.

Until tomorrow,


Thanks mate. We have two more Carnival Fantasy blogs to look forward to and we all agree I am sure that Tex is a great writer and we thank him for his brilliant contributions.

Speaking of the Carnival Fantasy……………………Very recently, Carnival Cruise Lines won some great awards from one of the industry’s top magazines …………….. Porthole. This included best entertainment, Best Megaship (Carnival Freedom), Best Children’s Programs, Best Value-for-the-Money, Best Short-Duration Cruise, Best Shore Excursions, Best Web Site, Best Main Dining Room Cuisine, and Best Mexican Itineraries

We are very, very proud that they honored us with these. The editor of Porthole Magazine is a great mate of mine and a former Carnival Cruise Director, Mr. Bill Panoff………………he of the Tom Jones impression which was the best I have ever heard. Anyway, if you were undecided about the Bloggers Cruise onboard the Carnival Fantasy in 2009 then this may be your incentive you have been looking forward to.

Have a look at this


Wow………how brilliant is that? If you have already booked a cabin and win we can sort that out for you (maybe you can bring a friend?)……………if you haven’t booked and win, then me and hundreds of other people who love to cruise will see you on the Carnival Fantasy in February.

Now, as for the contest……….what would you do if you were me for a day………….lose weight and have my hemorrhoids seen will I am sure be popular answers ……………. however,……..think about what you would do if you were a cruise director ……..what activities would you host, how would you spend the day at sea ……… I can’t wait to read your answers.

My sincere thanks to Porthole magazine. It should be on every cruise lover’s mailbox every month…………….don’t forget your copy and…………..good luck.

Since being home many of my friends seem to be a little shocked that we are “squeezing out a last-minute baby.” I can understand why………..I can understand that our lifestyle of traveling and my age may not be the norm and I can therefore understand their surprise when we tell them. As the days go by I sit and remember how I reacted when Alan, Danny and my other friends all had children.

There are two things you must remember when someone calls you to say they’ve just produced an offspring. First, and for no obvious reason, you must ask how much it weighs, and second, you must try not to drop the phone when they tell you what name’s they are thinking of. “Porsche, Mercedes or Honda?” you have to say in measured tones. “How very, ummmm, lovely.”

And so, for the first ever time since Heidi got the Thingy……we have spoken about names….apparently my suggestion of “Desk ” is not going to happen. The annual list of most popular names shows that the Bible is still a source of inspiration for most, and that the two names at No 1 are the super-traditional James and Mary. But look beneath the top 10 and it’s a dollop of lunacy where working-class children are named after pop stars, actors and actresses and, in fact, anyone who is in the public eye…

And the middle classes are no better, going for increasingly ludicrous names. I mean, what kind of a name is Apple……..Apple Paltrow…………sounds like a foot cream? We grew up laughing at Frank Zappa for calling his daughter Moon Unit, but today we’re naming our kids after remote African villages and exotic fruit.

People have always named their children to reflect their aspirations. This is no bad thing, being named after a prime minister or an actress your parents admired. But in North America and here in the UK people aspire to goods and services, and that’s resulted in a surge in popularity for names such as Prada, Timbaland, L’Oréal and Lexus …………. sometimes it seems parents regularly choose a child’s name by picking letters out of a Scrabble bag. ……… Lakweesha …….. Shantialis ….. Dwanynetelellauyhvbfrtlkiuyhgtraukncvxrethg .

Before naming a child Sprite or Viagra, it’s important to remember that the name that Heidi and I will choose will have a huge impact on how the Thingy’s life will turn out.

One of my friends was deeply concerned about this. Paul Hunter who used to work as a Food & Beverage Manager with us originally wanted to call his new boy child Jack, because he said Jack Hunter sounded like a rogue CIA agent and he liked the idea of his son being endlessly lowered from helicopters into nuclear submarines. “Ah yes,” I pointed out, “but I can also see ‘Jack Hunter’ written down the side of a pest control truck.”

So he’s gone for Quentin, an old-fashioned name which means the boy will almost certainly grow up listening to Cher and Liza Minnelli. I am dull and unimaginative because when I was seven I had two gold fish called “one and two”………because when one died I still had two.

This is why I admire the Icelandic system so much. Up there, your surname is your father’s Christian name with either “son” or “dottir” tagged on the end. So George W Bush would have been George Georgeson.

And so the name game continues. Every time we think of a name we write it down on a piece of paper, fold it up and put it in a little pot……..we have been doing this for a few days now and there is quite a pile.

I can’t tell you the favorites because that is according to my wife unlucky…………..she wants something that sounds good with our last name ………..Harry Heald or Harriet Heald……………it’s going to take a lot of preparation getting this right………………hold on ………… preparation……………….preparation H ………………… Hemorrhoid………… Hemorrhoid Heald……………that’s a good one and Hemorrhoid Heald goes on the pile.

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.