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December 28, 2008 -

John Heald

I hope you had a good Christmas ……..what?…….. You didn’t ……….. Your turkey was too dry, your kids spent all day glued to their PlaystationXboxes, and you didn’t bother watching the Big Christmas Film because you’ve owned it for years on DVD.

What you should have had to liven things up was my mother. Because the family was all together with my sister and kids in from Hong Kong, Mum had a steely resolve that the Christmas holidays would be exactly like the Christmas holidays she enjoyed when she was a child. Only without the rationing of meat or the German’s dropping bombs on the proceedings. My mother does not like American television shows because she “can’t understand what they’re on about.” She doesn’t like PlayStationXboxes either because “they rot your brain.”

And so it was that my niece and nephew and the rest of us took a break from trying to be Jimi Hendrix on Guitar Hero and paused from watching a Zombie’s head fall off in Shawn of the Duty Grand Theft Invaders 89 and we all played charades

Strangely, however, they seemed to like it. Mind you, playing with a seven-year-old is hard, since everything my niece and nephew acted out had six words and involved a lot of scampering up and down the dining room, on all fours, barking. Usually, the answer was that famously dog-free movie with four words in the title, Pirates of the Caribbean.

My mother, on the other hand, could only act out books and films from the 1940s, but this didn’t seem to curb the kids’ massive enthusiasm. They even want to watch Casablanca now, on the basis my mother made it sound like a Harry Potter film.

I hate charades but even when I tried to bring a halt to proceedings by doing Mary Kate and Ashley in a Sensational Mystery, they cheered me on with roars of encouragement. Other books I used to try to ruin the day were Applied Mathamatics, The Mandarin Translations by Ivor Beard which is nearly impossible to act out and even harder to guess. And when that failed I tried “Carnival Capers.”

Eventually, with my mother moaning about me making fun of a Christmas tradition, and my nephew still under the table barking, mercifully, we decided to play something else.

Not Monopoly. Dear God in heaven. Please spare me from that. I’m due back on a ship on January 8 and if we break out the world’s most boring board game I would not make it as I’d still be cruising down Oxfors Street in my small metal shoe. Happily, it turned out that in my mother’s world Monopoly is far too modern and that in her day you made your own entertainment.

So out came the pens and paper. I can’t be bothered to explain the rules of the game she chose, but in essence you have to think of country’s or girl’s name or things you find in space that begin with a certain letter. It sounds terrible compared with watching the “Office Christmas Special” or shooting a terrorist in the face on the PlaystationXbox thingy, but you know what, the kids loved this even more than charades………and before you knew it they were both exhausted and went to bed.

With the kids tucked up, I did what any sane man would do and reached for the television remote. But my mother had other plans. So we put a tablecloth over the jigsaw she’d been doing and played cards.

I swear to God that we had more fun as a family than could have been possible if we’d powered up my nephew’s new Roboraptor thingy and turned on our internets.

So, today, while you are stabbing away at buttons on your PlayStation, wondering why you keep being kicked to death, or watching a film that you’ve seen a million times before, only without advertisements, might I suggest you flip the trip switch on your fuse box, light a fire and play charades. …………..Start by having Grandpa act out Brokeback Mountain.

Good Morning everyone from a beautiful crisp and cold day here in England. I am spending today working on the Carnival Fantasy bloggers cruise, scheduling events and activities, etc. Helping me via the phone and e-mail will be Assistant Cruise Director James “Hiyaaaa” Dunn who some of you may remember from the first bloggers cruise. He taught us the bloggers dance which I have fond memories of………me, Big Ed, Kuki and the gang doing the KFC, Pizza Hut and McDonalds line dance………….I am surprised we haven’t had a call from Dancing With The Stars. Anyway, James will be with us on the Carnival Fantasy. Unfortunately Heidi will not be joining us for obvious reasons and I am sorry to say neither will Alan. His doctors have advised him that although he is doing brilliantly not to fly 10 hours………that’s a shame as if he had been able to join us, I wouldn’t have been the ugliest man onboard. Now, I know I was supposed to release details on the bloggers only tour in Cozumel and I have not forgotten. I have been asked to wait a few more days before releasing this exciting information.

Now, I know some of you have already booked the Carnival Dream bloggers cruises and I invite you all to join us next year.

Lets’ pause and check in with Butch and his last Christmas installment.

CHRISTMAS EVE

While the snow was falling at home in Minnesota, I woke up Christmas Eve to the beautiful port of St. Maarten; sunshine and 87-degree weather. Because Christmas Day is going to be a sea day for us, I planned to have today this day to celebrate with my department. The festivities began at 9:30 am with our Secret Santa gift exchange pajama party and a special breakfast prepared by the chef just for the entertainment team.

I was excited to finally reveal myself to one of the dancers that I was her Secret Santa …….I had been leaving her small little gifts and clues for weeks. Also, I was excited to learn who had been leaving my little hints as well. My Secret Santa had set up a special e-mail account and had been sending me secret clues through the internet and leaving me special surprises hidden in my office while I was on stage hosting a show. Turns out it was one of the dancers and they spoiled me a little; getting me a nice pair of antique cuff links (which I collect), a very nice pair of silk suspenders, which I wear with all of my suits, and some photo frames for my office and cabin, which I badly needed!

After the pajama games we all set out for a department outing to Orient Bay for a day at the beach. It was raining off and on, but we decided to make the most of it and headed out anyways in our swim gear and Santa hats, we must have looked like quite the sight. Upon arriving at the beach, two of our very newest in the department, and on their first contract, were shocked to see that in St. Maarten people were not shy about the “clothing optional” policy on the beaches………..I decided to take them on a little walk down to the end of Orient Bay to the “All – Nude” portion of the beach to show them that we really were not in Kansas anymore…….after a short walk down the bay we were greeted by the most disturbing Holiday image, that I am still trying to erase from my recent memory….There, standing stark naked right in front of us, was Santa Claus……yes, Santa Claus……An elderly man, very jolly, white beard, wear nothing except a pair of sun glasses and a red-sequined Santa hat.

As we stopped dead in our tracks in horror, he noticed us and asked if we wanted a picture, the two girls I was with ran away in a frightened frenzy while I politely declined turned around and walked quickly back to the other end of the beach to tell my team of the sight……which, of course, ensued in a caravan of Carnival Glory entertainment team members scrambling for their cameras and rushing off to greet Old Saint Nick………I passed on the second visit, thank you.

When I arrived back on the ship I was greeted with a message that our two entertainers that were suppose to be joining the ship today had not yet arrived and had experienced a flight delay. I immediately called the captain and asked if it was possible to wait for them as this was our last port before two days at sea and than home again and it was important for them to make the ship for the shows for the next couple of nights. He agreed to wait until they arrived…..it was going to be close as our sailing time was scheduled for 6 pm and they were due to arrive at the same time. As I was hosting the past guest reception 5:30 pm I could feel the vibration of the thrusters start (sometimes we leave port a little early if all guests are back on board) I thought to myself as I was thanking all of the guests for returning to Carnival, the entertainers must have arrived.

Immediately after exiting the stage, the Assistant Cruise Director James told me I needed to call the crew purser as it was an emergency. I went to my office and called the Crew Purser office and they informed me that the entertainers had not made it and we were now sailing. I ran to the open deck 5 forward and as we were turning around I could see the two of them standing on the pier. I called the bridge and the captain told me he was informed that all were on board (apparently we had a break down of communication somewhere) so the captain sent for a pilot boat to pick the Entertainers up and bring them to the side of the ship…..whew! Crisis averted!

After all of the shows and the big guest deck party were over I gathered my team back stage for a real holiday party full of food, music, fun, and of course more food. I presented each member of the Entertainment team with a special “Carnival Glory Entertainment” mug that I had personalized for them as a special holiday gift to open. I toasted them and thanked them for all of their hard work and encouraged them to continue to keep up it up into the New Year. I hear that the party went well into the morning…..I snuck out around 2 am to rest up for the Sea Day!

CHRISTMAS DAY
When the alarm went off at six…..I had a choice to make………Do I really need to go to the gym this morning? After all, it is Christmas………so I decided to stay in bed until seven. After putting on a pot of coffee and turning up some Christmas tunes, I began the task of opening up the cards and presents from home……..pictures of my nieces and nephews, some cash from my brothers, and yes, Mom came through socks, underwear, and under shirts…..Thanks, Mom! With not to much time to spare I put on my Christmas best and went to deliver some special cards to all of the department heads and special friends on board and then went to my morning show. Folks around the ship seemed especially cheery today which help me overcome my exhaustion and go about a pretty normal day at sea.

The highlight of the day was our big Holiday Show. If you have never been on board a Carnival ship around the holidays, the holiday show is a special treat. Not only do the singers and dancers perform, but the majority of the show is dedicated to the kids of Camp Carnival. All of the different age groups perform and the show is capped off by a representative of each nation of the crew (60 here on the Glory in total) singing “Silent Night” in their native language and each holding a candle……a sight that gives me chills every time. Then, just when you think it’s over the kids go nuts when Santa arrives (this one fully clothed, of course). It was a blast hanging out with the kids and seeing their faces light up while performing with our professional entertainers. We had lots of fun taking pictures with Santa and the captain and meeting all their parents.

After the show I was honored to be the “Special Guest” at the Chanukah celebration to light the candle on this fifth night of the festival of lights. After enjoying some latkes (I like mine with sour cream) and some kosher wine I headed off to our special crew Christmas supper. The staff dining hall was transformed into a holiday spectacle with decorations, a turkey carving station with all of the trimmings, an open wine and beer table and an special Christmas menu……the only thing missing was my mother’s green bean casserole.

The rest of the night I have been meeting and greeting guests on the promenade, taking pictures and hosting the shows. And now that it is 10 minutes to midnight as I write this and Christmas has almost come to a close, I am all holidayed out! It has been a celebration to remember, not to mention exhausting! As we finished this cruise we will begin the festivities again as we are looking forward to our New Year celebration cruise next week!

Oh, I almost forgot to mention…..when I am working I always dread the phone call home on and holidays, hearing the cheer of my family makes me painfully homesick, but today’s phone calls were OK because my ultimate Christmas present will come just a few weeks late, as I am taking six weeks vacation starting January 10…knowing that I will be there soon just made me smile! I am looking forward to spending time with my family and friends, seeing my nieces and nephews and getting some much-needed rest. I can’t say however that I am looking forward to all of that snow and cold in Minnesota, but a small price to pay for a well-deserved break.

As I leave you with this, my last guest entry, I wan to thank you all for taking the time to read my thoughts and messages, I hope your holidays were as memorable as mine. I wish every one of you a prosperous 2009 and if you every want to stop in and say hello, I will be here on the Glory ready to greet you for a great cruise. I also want to say thank you to John, my friend, I thought that I couldn’t do this and again….you were right……I had a lot of fun!

To you John and Heidi, all my love for the coming year…..Heidi, again I am so excited for the new little one……I will have to come and visit this summer (I know what you are thinking, I have been promising to come to England for years……..this time I mean it). Just know that when the little one finally comes, Uncle Butch is going to spoil him or her or whatever it is!

One more thing…..One of our young dancers Lauren, who is spending her first contract with us and her first time away from home informed me today that her mom was reading my entries daily in John’s blog and was missing her terribly for the holidays….To Lauren’s mom in Australia; you have a very talented daughter and you should be very proud of her great dance ability and her warm and kind personality, she is a treat to have on the team!

Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!

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Christmas Show Cast

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Secret Santa Gift Exchange

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Happy Holidays!

I want to thank Butch for his amazing contributions. He told me just how much he enjoyed doing this and I think you will all agree that he does it very well. I hope to encourage him to write more to us in the future and I am sure you will join me in saying thanks to my mate Butchy.

You may have seen that Captain Mercer has taken a few days off from blogging on the Eurodam. He will be back on Monday so please stop by. Here is a Christmas and holiday wish from him to all the readers.

All of us at Eurodam News Blog wish our loyal readers a happy and healthy holiday season. Due to Christmas (and Boxing Day for those of you in the U.K.!), we will not be posting Dec. 25 and 26. We will be back posting Monday, Dec. 29. Enjoy your holiday!
Here is the Christmas tree in the Eurodam Lobby

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Now, over at Cunard, the Cruise Director Alistair gives us a great insight into Christmas on a Cunard ship accompanied by some super photos. So, why not experience the Holiday’s Cunard style by looking at
http://wearecunard.com/

In the olden days, advertisements were limited to books, television and town center hoardings, but now you find them everywhere. Every time I log on to the Internet, I’m asked if I would like a bigger penis. The nozzle of the gas pump urges you to buy a Snickers bar when you are in the CITGO shop and, as you queue to board a plane, the airport tunnel is festooned with reasons for switching to Bank of America.

Then, when you get off the plane, the luggage trolley advertises all the new and exciting ways of getting to the city center. Even the back of a parking ticket is now a mini-advertisement. Have you been in a London or New York taxi lately? The undersides of the foldaway seats carry advertisements telling you to put an advertisement there. Advertisers have bought up every square inch of everywhere where people stand still. I went to a restaurant the other day which had adverts in front of the urinals for an insurance company……..that’s taking the piss.

So, let’s talk about the new Carnival commercial. Firstly, let me thank all of you who expressed an opinion whether in the positive or the negative. Please keep them coming. They are fascinating to read and the feedback is priceless. I can totally understand as to why some people find the commercial a bit confusing. Why are we in Dallas and Philadelphia………….what has that got to do with the ships? Good question. Well, this may not be the official answer but having been involved at very low levels during the filming (fetching the Big Dogs coffee, etc) I can say this. The commercial was designed to show that in every day life, especially today, having fun seems to be harder to do. Maybe people………that’s everyday people like me and you …… forget in today’s climate that there is fun to be had. So, seeing thousands of people having fun in downtown Philadelphia or on the streets of Dallas………seeing their smiles and laughter as they try and keep the world’s largest beach ball afloat or gasp with astonishment as 8,000 pounds of candy come cascading out of a giant piñata will remind people that in the sometimes crappy world we live in that the antidote to crunching credit is fun…………Carnival style. Fun ……….. and the sound of the ship’s horn at the end of the commercial signifies that the fun is on-board the ships of Carnival.

Now, some of you may be reading this thinking that I have been asked to write these words by the important people at Carnival ……… but honestly I haven’t. You can see that’s not the case when I say that I think that along with the sound of the ship’s horn that there should have been a glimpse of a Carnival ship shimmering in the Caribbean sunshine. Let’s be honest, many of us hate television advertising, it’s a loud-mouthed bugger that barges into our homes and interrupts viewing.

On the other hand the cliché that “the ads are better than the programs” suggests that many of us relish the wit and craft of the best commercials. Me……..well I hate any commercial with lots of singing, and, mostly, I dislike commercials that are annoying and repetitive.

The ones I really like are the ones that are entertaining ………like the poor chap who is constantly embarrassed by his wife as she tells the world that he has terrible gas. Of course, we all love to watch the commercials during the Super Bowl. Many of these are entertaining and fun yet have bugger all to do with the product. I remember last year I was watching the Super Bowl with some friends and don’t remember anything about the game itself. I do remember that my mate had loads of rib sauce over his face and clothes as did I which meant we both got bollockings from our wives and ……I remember the commercials. I remember Shaquille O’Neal riding a tiny pony in a horse race……I remember a load of pigeons dive bombing people in the street…..I remember the pop star Justin Trousersnake being hit over the head by a television…….I remember all these being brilliant and very funny……..but I have no remembrance of the product they were advertising.

Personally, I think that TV commercials are the barometer of the world, reflecting the state that we’re in. And the state we’re in is ummmm……….we are broke. So, along comes Carnival showing thousands of people smiling, laughing and having fun……and that I think…….is what we were trying to portray……….pure, undiluted fun…………..Carnival fun.

So, please keep the debate going. Tell me I am full of yak poo or tell me that you agree. We….and by “we” I mean everyone at Carnival will be reading this so now is the time to speak up ……..thanks everyone. By the way, I think I am the perfect person to launch a new Preparation H commercial.

So, who was the mysterious international singing star that sailed yesterday on the Carnival Imagination?……………….Well, the answer was………….the one and only Lenny Kravitz.

Here are some photos of Mr. Kravitz on the bridge with the captain, hotel director and cruise director…………..long live rock and roll

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How brilliant is that. You know, Carnival should be the cruise line to the stars and don’t forget that in a few weeks time I will be writing live from the Carnival Destiny where I will be interviewing some legends of rock n roll…………before trying to remember how to be a cruise director again.

I love rock ’n roll and a few days before Christmas knowing that I would be spending a lot of time driving to friend’s houses, etc. I decided to put together a CD of all my favorite driving music. I also did this because if I was to hear George Michael sing about Last Christmas one more time I will throw myself on a pointed stick. ……..before I continue I should explain that this involved me doing something called “burning a CD” and it was when Heidi saw me pouring Zippo lighter fluid over a compact disc that she realized I may need help in that department.

Anyway………………as usual, I digress.

My top 10, as it stands at the moment, features AC/DC, Motörhead, Steppenwolf, Queen, Kenny Loggins, Golden Earring, Meat Loaf’s appallingly pretentious but equally fabulous Bat Out of Hell …… In the whole of the top 20, there are only three acts from the 21st century.

I know I have something of a reputation for being a rock dinosaur but you should see my wife’s record collection. Of course, it isn’t a record collection as such – it’s an assembly of ones and noughts on her Eye Pod, but anyway, being younger than me, she likes boy bands and Britney Aguilira, but mostly her binary ballads are from someone called Leona Lewis. And if she wants to listen to her kind of rock n roll it’s Coldplay who to me sound so depressed when they sing that they might as well kill themselves.

This means, of course, she doesn’t understand why I would listen to artists you thought had gone west in a puddle of vomit and chemicals some time in 1976. I love listening to Roger Waters, Blondie, Yes, the Who (half of whom have actually gone west in a puddle of vomit and chemicals) and Robert Plant. Plant is a remarkable human specimen. He is a man for whom the ageing process has had no meaning. He may now be a 107 years old but there are no man breasts, no cuddly tummy and no sign of a hair hole.

I saw Robert Plant in concert a few years ago. There was no unduly long queue for the lavatory cubicles, nobody was flogging bags of drugs, and in the ballads, instead of waving cigarette lighters around, everyone held up their cell phones so their kids could hear the tunes too. Best of all, nobody was beaten up and murdered on the way out. Everyone just piled into their Range Rovers and drove home killing a few polar bears on the way

Now, compare this with sharing a tent, in a field, having spent the day listening to a bunch of teenagers in spectacularly baggy trousers singing the crap that is today’s music. It doesn’t even get close.

Every attempt to change the original formula, be it hip-hop, garage, techno or rap, certainly grates with those older than 12, but that’s its only purpose. It’s not music to annoy the old. It’s just a noise to annoy the old. Which means that when its fans become old, it will not survive.

I can absolutely guarantee that 30 years from now, nobody will be going all the way to London or New York to see Pee Diddly, or 25 Cent. Whereas, I will be using my retired old person’s cheap rail fare card and heading to London, again, to see Robert Plant, again ……….. And you know what: he still won’t have any man breasts.

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.