The 1st Blog of 2009 CBE

January 2, 2009 -

John Heald

I hope you all had a great night last night and a restful day with the family today. Heidi and I visited some friends for dinner then spent some time with my parents before returning home to see in the New Year. We did this by watching a movie. We could have watched the live firework display from the London Eye but to be honest I am a little over fireworks. I know I sound like a bit of a party pooper, but I really do feel that, as a rule, once you’ve seen one fireworks display, you’ve seen them all.

There just doesn’t seem to have been much progress in the world of the firework. In other areas of life things seem to take huge leaps forward. But, since I was a kid, I can’t remember being blown away by any new, exciting firework. Occasionally you get a particularly big one that makes an almighty noise, but essentially it still just blows up and lets off a colored circle of sparks. Big deal.

Anyway, as Heidi gets tired quickly these days we decided to watch a movie instead and so we paused the movie at midnight and the three of us wished each other a happy new year. This was brilliant and the highlight of my evening …… ummmm …….. not just because this year is going to be so exciting……but because I got to press “pause” on the movie we were watching.

Torture has many forms and I am here today to tell you about a new form that is guaranteed to have immediate results. It’s not water torture or having your finger nails pulled out by a blunt pair of pliers……….nope ……..today, torture has a new face……..it’s nasty and barbaric……………it’s called…………………Mama Mia.

Who in the name of all that is holy thought it would be wonderful that as they were making a musical featuring all of ABBA’s hits to get Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnon to sing them? I have heard some people sing at the hundreds of talent shows I have compared over the years but nothing………….nothing……………not even a pair of cats being castrated by Stevie Wonder can compare to the hideous blood curdling sound produced by Pierce and Meryl.

However, it seems that I am one of the few who would rather wear Judge Judy’s bra as ear mufflers than watch this movie because it has broken all the records and is the biggest selling DVD this holiday season ……… Pierce …..what were you thinking?…..from Bond to this……I think you need a new agent, mate.

So, it’s 2009 ………the start of a new year………….time to break out those New Years resolutions. As I mentioned a few blogs ago I don’t believe in this. I mean, why wait until the start of the year. I am full of praise for those people who make a resolution and then stick to it…….me…………I never seem to be able to which is why I guess it’s easy for me top say that New Years resolutions are a load of bollocks and that way I don’t have to make any. However, things in the Heald household are a little different now with the pending arrival of the Thingy which is why I have been thinking hard about what I need resolution or resolutions………..I need to make.

The most common New Year’s resolutions are:
I’ll give up smoking.
I’ll take up exercise.

I never make resolutions. I always break them. The last one is the one I have always made. I won’t even try to hoist my fat, cigar-smoking carcass off the sofa — because I know I will fail. The trick therefore, surely, is to give up something achievable, albeit small. For example, I could give up texting people to say, “We’ll be there in 20 minutes,” when we were still parked outside our house, with my wife inside, madly looking for objects like she’s on a treasure hunt . This year I’m considering further improvements and I am not going to moan or complain at other Heidi-isms.

I shall also not tut when she says, just as I’m getting into bed, “Have you checked the back door?” I also resolve to get into bed first once a week. On that occasion, if she mentions the back door, I shall be within my rights to say, “No, but I am already in bed so you can bloody well do it.”

I’m also going to immediately pinch anyone’s nipple really hard if they are caught saying a whole list of annoying words — for example: retail therapy, reaching out, hit the ground running, swankafi, and ladder up……….if anyone says these words they will be guaranteed sore nipples…..however………if anyone who was not born in Italy says “Ciao” to me………my new year’s resolution is to blow torch their nipples …… completely off.

However, as I said, the Thingy is on the way and I want to spend at least another 40 Christmases with him or her. So, I have to, I must, I without a doubt…..have to lose weight. This will help me in so many ways. I won’t need a seat belt extension on Easy Jet. BA, Virgin and American ones are fine but on Easy Jet the seats are the same size as a sparrow’s arse and therefore the seat belt is itself very, very small. This means that I have to ask for an extension which for some strange reason is bright orange. Wearing this round your waits is the same as an illuminated sign above your head flashing the words “fat bastard” for all the world to see. It is also the fact that I don’t enjoy lying on the beach anymore I am tired of watching tanned, muscular beach bums strut their stuff while
I lie on the sand worrying that if I don’t keep my hat on, a Japanese whaling ship will come and cut me up for blubber.

Last year I decided to lose weight and my attempt was totally pathetic. Now, it can’t be …… and so I herby launch not a new years resolution but a new life resolution……I will lose weight, I must lose weight…………..wish me well.

I want to thank you all for the hundreds of comments that have been posted these past few days. It seems we have a lot of award nominations to read and of course it was great to read your reactions to the Beach Ball commercial. As I mentioned yesterday we will be posting an interview with Jim Berra, our new chief marketing officer, this coming week and it will be a wonderful chance to read his insights into the new commercials and hopefully he will unlock some secrets as to what the future holds. I have also asked him to tell us his vision regarding our loyalty program …..something to really look forward to.

I know it’s been a busy few days so I wanted to make sure you have all read that wonderful interview with Joe Farcus on Wednesday’s blog. If you have not had a chance please have a look now as it gives an amazing insight into the leviathan that is the Carnival Dream.

Every January 1, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth bestows national honors upon the good and the famous. Usually these are reserved for sports stars, actors and people who do good deeds. Well, I am proud to tell you that one of our own has been rewarded in this years New Years Honors List……..arise David Dingle CBE, which stands for Commander Of The British Empire.

David started his career at P&O Cruises in 1978 after leaving Cambridge University and in June 2007 was made chief executive of Carnival UK.

In his current role he oversees P&O Cruises, Cunard Line, and Ocean Village and has responsibility for the UK sales and marketing of Princess Cruises as well as P&O Cruises Australia. Dingle was also instrumental in setting up the European Cruise Council, becoming chairman in April 2007, and became president of the UK Chamber of Shipping in March 2007. He has also served as a director of ABTA and of the Passenger Shipping Association. Later this year, he will travel to Buckingham Palace to personally collect his award from Queen Elizabeth. The award dates back to Victorian times and allows David the right to herd sheep through the streets of London without fear of arrest.

Seriously, though, we are all very proud of David Dingle CBE and I am sure you will join me in congratulating him on this wonderful achievement.

Well, a few days ago I told you how our friend Jaime had been thrown into the deep end by having to cover as cruise director on the Carnival Pride. Well, despite this being a huge task, Jaime has not only exceeded everyone’s expectations but has also found the time to share with us a Dear John letter reliving just how New Years Eve 2008 was spent onboard the good ship Carnival Pride.

Here is her story.

January 1 2009,

Dear John,

I could not have asked for a more perfect New Years Eve Celebration on the Carnival Pride. Lido deck was absolutely packed. The 2,500 guests on board surrounded the hot tub where the staff captain had put a covered wooden plank to make a stage for myself and the entertainment staff. Everyone was dancing and shouting in an extreme, amazingly fun, yet safe and controlled manner. The stage was rockin’ with three different bands and the singers from the production shows. The dancers and technicians were all mingling with guests, dancing and smiling. We had fireworks courtesy of the Puerto Vallarta residents AND the televised Time Square Ball drop celebration on the big screen. Another highlight was the ice sculpture of 2 – 0 – 0 – 9, which looked awesome… (But did need some reconstructive surgery when the top part of the two fell over!) Everyone contributed their expertise and helped ring in 2009 according to plan!

Since taking over as cruise director last week, I have learned about 843,102,438,932 new things every day. Not only about the technical aspects of being a CD like editing Capers, and actually being able to transpire information for a travel talk and debarkation talk in an organized yet comedic and entertaining manner. I have also been certified in many different safety trainings which senior officers must be knowledgeable about. And, most importantly, I have kept in mind the most important lesson: humility. Just how important it is to be respectful, listen to and honor my team. Our entertainment department is all putting in extra hours this holiday season since we are slightly short staffed. Management wise, I am learning how imperative it is to respect my people, listen to them, and even while trying to delegate; never ask them to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.

That being said to set up for New Year’s Eve last night a ton of preparation needed to take place. Of course I got to take over as CD for two of the most challenging weeks on ships, but I figure if I make it through these weeks I will be able to get through anything. Luckily I have the best team members ever helping out! All day yesterday, our sound technician, Craig, was wiring the sound system so three different bands could perform later that night. After getting approval from both the safety officer and electrical officer, he had run all kinds of cables so that we had enough juice to keep the party going. Colleen, our light tech, was vigorously working all day hanging lights, replacing gels, and setting up all kinds of cues to make the event truly special. The schedule had been set for days, just putting all of the planning into application took the help of the whole team, including the backstage manager, the music director, the assistant cruise director and, of course, the cruise director as well =).

Around 7 pm last night, all of the lights sound and music was finally set and we were ready to begin the New Year’s party. Luckily, we were in Puerto Vallarta until 10 pm and so guests came back to the ship ready to have some fun. I had moved show time to 9 pm so that we could lead the guests directly up to Lido deck and let the fun begin (oooh, nice mission statement placement right there – I am so corporation-oriented now, haha.)

Starting at 10 pm we had our calypso band entertaining all the guests, with the hosts intermittently taking over to get the crowd riled up with line dances and countdown updates.

At 10:45pm the Filipino band – “The Rised Up” band, took over and played cover songs which all of the guests enjoyed. We marketed the evening as a “Battle of the Bands” since almost all of our musicians were performing up on Lido at some time in the night.

The Carnival Pride guests and crew were very lucky because in PV on New Years our captain knew they had fireworks. So at 11 pm ship time (midnight in Puerto Vallarta), we were floating around so that the festivities of Mexico were still in sight.

By 11:30pm everyone was up on Lido. The show band was playing and were accompanied by the vocal talents of Sandra and Troy to entertain everyone and bring the Pride into 2009. I had never seen Lido more packed. On a Spirit class ship, Lido is broken up into 3 sections so having everyone in the center section on both deck 9 and 10 was quite a sight to be seen (lucky for you, of course, I took pictures).

At 11:55 pm the band had stopped playing and as the cruise director, it was my job to get the crowd really going. I did this by helping them reflect on last year, thinking about New Years Resolutions, getting their champagne toasts and their noise makers ready to celebrate!!!

Melanie, my amazing assistant cruise director was in communication with the bridge and was making sure they knew when to blow the horn once we had done the final countdown.

10 (screaming and loud applause), 9 (I was sweating, since I had been dancing for 2 hours), 8 (I couldn’t believe everyone was out there having fun, and I had helped plan this), 7 (Oooh I wonder what they are serving at the New Year’s Buffet), 6 (is it appropriate for the cruise director to get a New Years kiss??), 5 (people were seriously screaming and having so much fun), 4 (I am so lucky to have this opportunity!), 3 (we are almost there), 2 (the after party is going to be so great!), 1 (HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!)

Everyone did their New Year’s toast, buzzed their noise makers, kissed and sang (not all at the same time, of course). I would say the party was a huge success! About a million guests thanked the team and myself for making their New Year’s so special… and that is not an exaggeration =)! The music continued on Lido until around 2 am, and the disco was packed well past 5 am. Today, I am all smiles, a huge relief that everything ran so smoothly!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

May all your dreams come true in 2009.

Thank you to everyone who has enjoyed my Dear John Letters through the Splendor times and now as the CD on the Pride =). I look forward to writing more for you during the South America run. I always read your warm wishes and kind words and it never ceases to bring a smile to my face.

our-view-of-the-2-0-0-9-ice-sculpture-post-reconstructive-surgery-on-the-2-taken-from-the-hot-tub-stage-made-by-our-friendly-staff-captain-luka
Our view of the 2-0-0-9 ice sculpture (POST reconstructive surgery on the 2). Taken from the Hot Tub Stage made by our friendly Staff captain Luka

the-cruise-director-assistant-cruise-director-and-entertainment-staff-on-the-carnival-pride
The Cruise Director, Assistant Cruise Director and Entertainment Staff on the Carnival Pride.
Amanda, Justin, Myself – Jaime, and Melanie.

lido-deck-midship-just-before-the-stroke-of-midnight
Lido Deck Midship just before the stroke of Midnight!

All the best =)
Jaime Deitsch
Cruise Director
Carnival Pride

Fantastic……..we all new you would do a brilliant job Jaime and I think your career path is now well and truly established. Congratulations…….we are so proud of you.

A few weeks ago we launched a contest with our friends at Porthole Magazine which asked “If you were cruise director for a day, what would you do?” Many people have entered and we will be judging the winner very soon. Remember, the prize is a complimentary cruise with us on the Bloggers Cruise February 7 on the Carnival Fantasy. So, if you have not had chance to enter, here is the link thingy for you to do so. Go on…….have a go.

Talking of the Bloggers Cruise, all is pretty much set. The gifts are ready, the schedule is set and all that we are waiting for is to announce the private excursion in Cozumel. I can tell you that its going to be on the stunning Passion Island and………..well…….I will tell you more next week.

Well, I hope this year brings us all much prosperity but if you listen to all the doom and gloom on TV and in the newspapers, it seems that we may all be eating our pets to avoid starvation. According to the men who wear colorful suspenders called wankers ….. sorry ……..I mean bankers……you know, those chaps who put our money somewhere and can’t quite remember where, many major retailers may disappear from our shopping malls in the coming months. And if my local town is anything to go by, they will undoubtedly be joined by all those little boutiquey delicatessen bijou cubbyhole shops that smell of sun-dried tomatoes and potpourri. The ones run by stick-insect blonde women and paid for by their husbands to stop them having rumpy pumpy with the tennis instructor. Losing these shops would be a shame.

They have something the big shops don’t have…….it’s something called service. First of all, then, we must address the problem of the physical purchase. At the moment if I go to a big store like Best Buy or Costco here in the UK, when I buy something, a 14- year-old boy sits me down and asks all sorts of impudent questions about where I live and my telephone number. Wrong.

I know that this has nothing to do with my guarantee and everything to do with you profiling your customers so you can get a man in India to call up at an antisocial hour in six months’ time to sell me a washing machine. Pack it in. Take my credit card. Give me the product. Get me out of there as quickly as possible and do not sell my details to anyone in India or I will come round in the middle of the night and burn your shop down.

Then, a message to big department stores like J.C. Penney or Macy’s or their British partner here called John Lewis. Have everything in stock. I know this is expensive and complicated but I really don’t like going to all the bother of trying on a pair of shoes, only to have Brittney, the shop assistant, emerge after 10 minutes from a nonexistent storeroom to explain that she doesn’t have the style in my size and would I mind coming back in a week. Yes, I would mind very much and if I do come back next week and you don’t have my size, I will staple another piece of iron to your already metal shot nose.

Owners of shops need to understand – and they really don’t – that while there are a great many people, usually those with breasts, who enjoy mooching about in the shops because it’s safer and less complicated than having rumpy pumpy with the tennis instructor, the rest – those with zips down the front of their pants and Adam’s apples — hate shopping with a deep passion and would like the whole process to be over as fast as possible.

Now, I would like to talk to the owners of jewelry shops especially Mr. Cartier or is it Mrs. Cartier or Ms. Cartier …….who knows? Anyway, I wanted to buy Heidi a Christmas gift of a small Cartier eternity ring. It has three rings in one…….no diamonds ……just three interlinked gold bands. Anyway, now we get to the question of price tags. I walked into your London shop the other day, took one look at the counter full of jewelry, noticed that nothing had a price tag and promptly buggered off. This is because I knew exactly what would happen if I hung around. I’d point at a ring. The sales assistant would get it out of the cabinet. I’d have to ask how much it cost and she’d say, through a bullhorn (using a fake French accent) so everyone in the shop could hear, “£175,000.” And I’d then have to shrug and try to look nonchalant, which is jolly difficult when you have just done a number two in your pants.

Men buy jewellery like they do their wine…….by the price tag. Most of us would not know the difference between a Chateau Margaux and a Chateau Maddog 20/20. We do know if one is priced at $30 it’s going to be smooth and very drinkable. However if we see a wine priced $5 we know it probably tastes like the inside of a camel’s scrotum. It is the only thing I want to know. I don’t care about the setting or where the diamond came from. I just want to know whether it costs $5 or $30 million. Knowing this speeds up the transaction and saves me from spending unnecessary money on dry cleaning my pants.

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.