Prince of Blogs…..And Photos

January 15, 2009 -

John Heald

So last night, I’m lying in the bath. The temperature is perfect. The bubbles are stacked high and Michael Buble’s music is more than satisfactory. My favorite plastic battleship is floating around entertainingly and life, for a minute, is just about bloody perfect.

I sink below the water, humming along to Michael’s version of “Fever,” only to emerge moments later and find Heidi sitting on the toilet. She wants a conversation. I don’t. We end up having a conversation about how we never have conversations any more. By the time it’s over, the bath is cold. The battleship has done an impression of the Titanic and either the batteries are finished on my CD player or Michael Buble has morphed into Barry White.

It was a long day yesterday and Heidi was so brave so of course I realized that she was a little tired and, even though my bubbles had burst, we had a conversation about who is having rumpy pumpy with who on her favorite program, The Bold and the Beautiful. I must meet this Brook someday, sounds like she will have rumpy pumpy with anyone.

Anyway, one of the things we spoke about was how when the Thingy is born I may have to drastically cut the time I spend on my Raspberry — or Blackberry as some call it. This simple gadget is the biggest leap forward for mankind since the invention of fire, and when you’ve had one for a week or so and then you can’t use it will be like losing your mouth and your ears.

For those who think a Blackberry is a fruit let me explain. It’s a mobile phone that can also receive and send e-mails. This means that no matter where you are on the planet someone can always get hold of you to ask if you’d like a bigger penis.

But this is not its biggest fault. Have you ever been out for a drink with someone who has one? Sure, they’re in constant contact with the office, which is great for them, but they’re not in constant contact with you. Every time you get to the interesting part of a story the Blackberry chirps and you can see they’re not listening any more.

They’re willing you to hurry up and finish talking so they can whip it out and see if, this time, it’s not somebody wanting to offload a bucketful of Viagra……..and I realize that I have become that person.

Go out with someone who has a Blackberry and you’ll not get a single word out of them. Because it will be chirping or whining or playing the theme music from James Bond when PA 007 sends an e-mail. And they’ll be texting with one hand and sending an e-mail with the other and it’ll be like talking to someone who has an unreachable itch and a daughter who’s just been kidnapped. Their mind won’t be on what you’re saying. If you have a Blackberry you may be physically out with friends but mentally you are at work. This means you can never have fun. You can never relax. Soon, then, your friends will stop wanting to see you and then you’ll die, quite early, from stress. I know all of the above applies to me ….yet….I just can’t shake the addiction of my Raspberry …… bugger.

I want to thank you for all your comments regarding our spas. You provided us with some priceless feedback which again will help us make this fantastic area of our ships even better. I noted that you have concerns about the sales pitch to purchase products, how some of the prices need to be addressed and how much you all enjoyed the specialist treatments like the hot stones massages etc. So, thanks again and now let’s move onto another area……………..photos.

Carnival has led the industry in this area for many years however, we know we must adapt if we wish that to continue. I have been asked many times why we do not place people’s photos in cabin order, etc. when we display them. The answer is quite honestly that we want people to hunt for their photos. Many people find this fun and actually like searching through the photos and looking at them all. This may be because many people are seeking the photo they had taken when they arrived at the ship after a long day of traveling……….you know the one……..that embarkation photo that has you and the family standing under the welcome aboard sign with your sweat patches clearly visible and the wife still with a disgusted look on her face because you couldn’t find the passports.

Of course over the years we have added so much to this department with our amazing “green screen” shots and portraits and our move into the digital world of today’s cameras. So, please send us your opinions of ship’s photos. What do you like, what don’t you like and what do you look for in the future to assure you will want to continue spending money in our photo galleries. I look forward to reading your thoughts.

I am not sure if the latest Royal news has crossed the Atlantic Ocean but just incase it hasn’t let me explain what has been happening.

Prince Harry has been called before his Army superiors for a bollocking after referring to a Pakistani platoon comrade as a “Paki.” It also shows Prince Harry describing another platoon member as a “raghead” after his roving camera spotted an officer cadet with a camouflage scarf around his head. “F*** me, you look like a raghead,” the Prince said………“Raghead” is an offensive term for an Arab. He also pretended to be on the phone to the Queen, ending a conversation: “Granny, I’ve got to go, send my love to the corgis and Grandpa…bye, God save you… yeah, that’s great.” This event was captured on a video and played on all the major news channels here in the UK. Two days later it emerged that their big-eared Father Prince Charles called an Asian polo-playing mate of his “Sooty.”

Prince Harry has apologized but has been condemned by many here except those who remembered that he made this film while serving his country in Afghanistan and that when 20 something lads get together…..royal or not…..boys will be boys …….especially under battlefield conditions.

Anyway, Prince Harry certainly has his Mother’s sense of humor and I am sure this will not be the last time he puts his royal foot in it.

Remember the time he was photographed in a nightclub squeezing the ample right breast of a pretty young blonde. I wish he’d gone further, caught a spot of syphilis, and then driven home in a bright red Aston Martin at 150 mph. Prince William on the other hand has been quiet on the subject although he has now grown a beard and looks like he has a small, dead ginger cat stapled to his face.

These have not been good days for the Royals and yesterday their problems continued. Children from a school in the British county of Norfolk went into the playground at recess. At the same time Prince Philip, the Queen’s husband, was on a bird shoot at their nearby Sandringham estate had just begun and as a result it was raining dead and wounded pheasants.

This was a perfect opportunity for the teachers. The children could have been marshaled and shown how the birds should be plucked. “Right, now gather ’round everyone. You, Little Ed — put the pheasant on its back and stand on its outstretched wings. Now pull the legs firmly . . .”

It would have been a marvelous illustration of how animals get from their natural habitat into a lovely stew.

Sadly this didn’t happen. Instead the teachers ran around trying to cover the kid’s eyes. The children all cried. And letters were sent to the estate managers at Sandringham asking that birds are not shot while the children are outside. This way, the little munchkins will continue to believe that McBurgers grow on trees and that Coca-Cola comes from natural springs in Montana.

After the incident a woman with a beard on the BBC news and said that she objected to organized shoots because the birds are bred specifically for slaughter. So how do you think bacon happens? Few people keep pigs to play Scrabble with, you know.

I am becoming increasingly depressed at the way we’re trying to insulate ourselves from the reality of the food chain and the wonders of the natural world.

Last week a 55-foot sperm whale that had beached itself in Bali was being transported on a lorry when it exploded in the middle of the city. Passersby, buildings and cars were drenched by 50 tons of blood, goo and blubber. It can’t have been a pretty sight. And doubtless there will now be some kind of legislation banning biologists from taking dead whales through a built-up area.

Why? When an animal dies, or a human for that matter, the stomach fills with methane gas. Sometimes the pressure becomes so great that the carcass goes off like a bomb.

I’d like to think this explosive power could in some way be harnessed. I don’t want to get all toiletry but the cows in Texas produce 900,000 tons of methane every year. It’s one of those little facts that I keep in my head for emergencies such as this.

Anyway, it would be nice to think that we could get milk from their udders, meat from their legs and electricity from their bottoms. But I know that in this day and age people would be reluctant to switch on the lights at home if they thought that the power was coming from Daisy’s farts.

The same thing happened recently on a British version of the American show Survivor. The starving contestants were given some chickens but couldn’t bring themselves to kill and pluck them. They’re chickens for God’s sake. We’re talking here about a bird which is so daft that it can operate normally with no head. Anyway, while they were deliberating about what should be done the birds were eaten by a couple of monitor lizards.

I remember watching a report about Jamaica on the Travel Channel. We’d seen Dunns River Falls, heard about the local customs and were moving on to the indigenous food. “They eat rabbits!” cried the presenter with the sort of tone I might have used if I’d found out that they eat each other.

For a moment I was baffled. They eat them whole and raw? They eat them alive? No. They kill them, skin them and put them in a pot with some onions just like we do. And yet this woman, bright enough to be given a job in television, was astonished.

I honestly don’t understand this. Out there in the real world away from the 21st-century supermarket/freezer/microwave chain of catering, there are insects which eat their partners after sex, there are turkey vultures that will vomit on you when threatened, there are cats that kill for fun. And there are leopard seals that play aquatic tennis, using penguins as the ball.

So in the big scheme of things, shooting a pheasant in the face or powering up the plasma TV using electricity from a Texas longhorn’s farts………… really isn’t that bad

Heidi is resting today after the test thingy of yesterday. This leaves me to start getting myself together for Monday’s flight. I need to make sure I have copies of my medical, all my blog paper work, my Flip video camera, my laptop, my DVD player, my digital camera and the chargers for all of those. I need all my diabetic medication, that’s pills lancets and strips and my sugar machine thingy………it’s a lot of stuff to remember that’s for sure.

Tomorrow, Heidi and I will start packing the suitcases. Well, when I say “we” …. that’s actually Heidi who does the packing while I sit at the end of the bed deciding what to take. Where would I be without her and how will I manage these next two months without her? I want to thank you for your thoughts and beautiful words which helped so very much yesterday and continue to do so each and every day.

Anyway, I have a slight change to my schedule………….what a shocker.

I was due to sail on the Carnival Imagination on Jan. 26 but that has changed. I have decided to sail on the Carnival Fantasy on 29 February to 2 February. This is for two reasons. Firstly, during the bloggers cruise I will not have time to write about the ship itself and the Evolutions of Fun upgrades. Sailing before the bloggers cruise will allow me to do this. Secondly, I want to make sure that all is set for the cruise and this will give me time to meet with the ship’s staff to confirm everything is in place and prepare the Capers etc. So, if by chance you have chosen Jan. 29 Carnival Fantasy sailing …. then I will see you there.

Yesterday, I reminisced about the much-missed bridge tours and that set my mind wandering about other events that I remember from the old days……..and today’s post is all about food. Now, if there is one area where Carnival has come 360 degrees, it’s our cuisine. Our food is…..in my humble opinion…….as good as you will find anywhere at sea…….and in many cases……..better tasting with more variety, generous proportions and……free steak every night if you want it.

However, back in the old days the choice was not as varied and the quality was …. well …..different. But, we did have……the dining room midnight buffets to fill us all up. For those of you who never sailed with us way back when let me explain. Each night from midnight – 1:30 am the dining room would open for a stampede of passengers (as you were called back then) to devour huge plates of food…….some grazing again just 1 hour and 30 minutes after leaving the dining room on second sitting dinner. Then, once the passengers had thinned out, at 1 am the staff was allowed in. That meant the cruise staff; gift shop, spa and casino were allowed to enjoy these delights. Each night was given a theme……..lets see if I can remember the seven-day midnight buffet menu from the Holiday when I was Cruise Director in 1992.

SATURDAY – BEANS AND BONES – ahh yes……..my favorite with ribs, chicken wings and baked beans.
SUNDAY – ASIAN – mostly rice with something we called chicken al a Cuckoo ………. I have no idea why
MONDAY – PASTA………..ummm…………loads of pasta
TUESDAY – QUICHE AND SOUP……loads of different quiches and the best French onion soup
WEDNESDAY –
THURSDAY – GRAND GALA BUFFET
FRIDAY – PIZZA

As you can see I can’t remember what Wednesday’s treat was……….Roger, Chris …………. anyone remember?

However, the food wasn’t finished yet because if you missed the midnight – 12:30 am buffet you could then go up to the Bus Stop Lounge on promenade deck where they would serve eggs and bacon until 2:30 am. Many times I filled my paper (yes paper) plate up with eggs and bacon and sat with passengers and crew to the wee small hours of the morning. This was also served on the Tropicale, Jubilee, Holiday and Celebration. We may have done this on the Mardi Gras, Carnivale and Festivale but I am not sure.

Now, you have to remember that back then we didn’t have the 24-hour pizza, the huge variety of Lido deck offerings, alternative dining or the extensive room service menus either. And, we had to stop them because honestly, the amount of wasted food both from not being able to know how many would attend these servings and by people taking huge plates of food and leaving most of it was astonishing……still…..I have to admit ……I really miss those bacon and eggs.

I have more from the old days tomorrow.

But let us now talk of the present with a look at the recent batch of awards won by The World’s Most Popular Cruise Line as chosen by the Editor in Chief of the industry’s most popular monthly glossy magazines, Porthole.

The blog of Carnival Senior Cruise Director John Heald – which has attracted 3.6 million visits since being launched two years ago – has been named “Best Cruise Line Blog” in Porthole Magazine’s 2009 Editor-In-Chief Awards. In his popular blog, Heald provides readers with a unique behind-the-scenes look at “Fun Ship” cruising while sharing his humorous and insightful observations on a wide range of topics.

The blog has even spawned the “John Heald Bloggers Cruise,” which provides readers an opportunity to sail with Heald and fellow blog enthusiasts and participate in a variety of exclusive events and activities. The next Bloggers Cruise takes place aboard a five-day voyage of Carnival Fantasy departing Feb. 7 from New Orleans. Two Bloggers Cruises are also scheduled for the new Carnival Dream – an eight-day voyage departing New York Nov. 15 and a nine-day cruise departing Port Canaveral, Fla., Dec. 3.

Two Carnival Corporation & plc port projects also received awards. The Puerta Maya Cruise Center, which reopened in October after being destroyed by Hurricane Wilma in 2005, was named “Best Comeback Port” and the Grand Turk Cruise Center, whose features include the Caribbean’s largest Margaritaville restaurant, the FlowRider wave-riding experience, and an 800-foot-long beach, earned “Best Cruise Center” honors.

How brilliant is that and once again this is a clear and present message to all those people who think Carnival is not the cruise line for them for whatever reason …….. well ……. it is…….and as we continue our Fun For All. All For Fun campaign these awards will continue to pile in.

Obviously, to win the Best Blog Award is just brilliant and I would like to thank each and every one of you……the readers……who have hit on this site over 3.6 million times ………. without you there would be no blog. I should also thank Stephanie, Vance, Tom, Jordan, Tony and all the others in the office in Miami who help me day in and day out. A special thank you to PA 007 who more than anyone keeps me up to date with all things Carnival from his or her office cubicle …….sorry……..I am filling up here and tears are streaming down my cheek…..I must thank my beautiful wife Heidi and my Mum and Dad and all my friends who put up with me asking them if they have read it.

Mostly though, I want to thank Sally Poole……….who when I was 14 years old took me behind the bike sheds and let me feel her breasts…..thank you Sally……this award is dedicated to you.

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.