Emergency 911

January 23, 2009 -

John Heald

All of sudden my life has gotten to be very strange. This morning I addressed a fantastic group of people of which I will tell you later but at 9 am, there I was doing an hour and half motivational and factual fun talk about the blog, life onboard and aspects of my life.

Next week I have got to meet some “competition winners” for lunch. I’ve never really done anything like this before. That’s a lie. I’ve had lunch before…….Just not with people who’ve entered a competition for the privilege. These people won a contest I organized on the Carnival Splendor for the Mustang and Classic Car Club group who sailed with me. They are all fans of the blog and the winners will be meeting me next week, having a tour of the Carnival offices and then off we go to lunch………… It’s a very dangerous sort of thing to agree to. It’s pretty much a lose/lose situation.

Scenario one: no one has any interest in meeting you and the competition is a terrible flop. As this becomes clear, someone from the Classic Car group who organized the competition steps in and there follows an embarrassing lunch where a couple of their members pretend to be your fans while actually having no idea who you are.

Scenario two: it’s the weird, dribbling psycho who starts showing you photos of your wife that he’s taken from a tree that he’s been living in very near to your house.

It’s like charity auctions. There can be nothing more humiliating than putting yourself up for auction for some good cause. The worry here is that you “attract” a winning bid of about $1 and everyone in the room looks at you and starts laughing… and you’re naked and… Sorry, just one of my anxiety dreams rearing its ugly head again.

One of the solutions to the auction conundrum is to start bidding for yourself. This can get very embarrassing, especially when you end up paying a thousand dollars to have lunch with yourself. Anyway, it will be an interesting experience and I of course will be telling you all about it.

So, this morning after a night with no sleep I was driven to Miramar, Florida to meet with the Personal Vacation Planners. My goodness, I have never ever been in a room with more excitable and dynamic people…….the energy was electrifying. Even if I had said that a naked Brad Pitt and Cameron Diaz were outside waiting to give them $1,000 each, they couldn’t have been more exuberant.

I really had no idea what I was going to say to this very large group of professionals but they all seemed very pleased that I was there. I was introduced by David, the senior director who is originally from Jamaica………and as you can see from this video clip ………I had a bit of fun with him.


During the next few days I will write more about this experience. However, I can tell why people rave about our PVPs ………..they are a brilliant group of people.

Thank you all for your continuing comments and as always I remind you they are so important to the blog which continues to grow each and every day. Let me answer now the questions that I did not answer yesterday………..here we go.

Stephen Smith Asked:

Please respond,
either you are psychic or I messed up. I wrote you a couple days ago asking you to reflect on how the cruise industry has changed. I then read January 15th’s blog and there it was…. your reflection on how the cruise experience has grown over the years. I am not sure whether you just started this in earlier blogs (I have been on the Conquest and away from the computer) or it is coincidence or it is a result of my posting. In any case, thank you. I sailed on both the Celebration and Jubilee and enjoyed the midnight buffets. I remember toward the end of the cruise the chefs would put together a special buffet that was equally suited for photographs as well as consumption. In its time it was one of the most anticipated and promoted events of the cruise In any case thank you. Have a safe trip and welcome back to your home away from home.
Stephen Smith

John Says:

Hello Stephen

Welcome back home and I hope your Carnival Conquest cruise was the best ever. I am glad you are enjoying the look back at the past and I recently mentioned the midnight buffets……..did you see that blog? The one buffet I had forgotten was the Dessert Buffet which was full of chocolate and cream and all things yummy. I will be looking back at some more old times soon so please keep reading the blog both today and I hope…….for a long time to come.

debbie arsenault Asked:

Help! The last time we sailed was on the same ship as the very first Blogger’s cruise-and wished, so much, that we could have known about the Blogger’s cruise – we would have signed up!…We have done the Eastern and Western Caribbean and would like to do a southern or Panama Canal…and want to stay with Carnival….So, my question is, John, do you think you’ll be doing either of these in Winter 2010? If you are, this will GREATLY influence our choice! You MADE our holiday! Is there a blogger’s cruise booked for 2010, yet? We are booking soon, so please reply!!! Thanks and by the way, congrats …the last time I heard, you were hoping to be parents…and now you will be! How wonderful!

John Says:

Hello Debbie.
Thank you so very much for taking the time to write and reading that I influence if or not you sail on Carnival is very humbling. I will now my 2010 schedule soon and as soon as I do I will let everyone know here on the blog thingy. I certainly hope we can be together and I must say that regardless if I am onboard or not you really must experience the wonders of Panama and the Southern Caribbean. Please keep reading the blog and I will tell you more really soon. My best to you and the family

BuckeyeLady Asked:

Requesting a Favor, Please Reply
Dear John and Heidi,
As always I enjoy your blogs, not only about the ships, passengers, etc but you also share fun stories about your world.
Last year we took my, now 84 yr old, Mother on her first Carnival cruise and we chose the Bloggers Cruise on Carnival Freedom. Unfortunately, even though I signed all 5 of us up on-line and then again at the Bloggers Cruise desk we were never invited to any of the activities–decided my name must have reminded Roberto of someone he disliked! lol It did not deter from our enjoyment of the cruise and enjoyment of you as our CD; and I did get to chat with Big Ed during the cruise.
This past fall, Mom had replacement knee surgery so to celebrate we are again cruising. We liked the itinerary of the Carnival Freedom so once again will be on that ship. Mom’s assumption was so would you? She recently mentioned to me how much she was looking forward to having you again as CD so I explained although the ship was the same you now had other responsibilities. She was most disappointed even though I assured her we would still enjoy cruising.
So I wrote you this book to see if you could send her a note welcoming her to the cruise.
We are booked on the Jan 31st sailing of the Carnival Freedom, Booking # , Room 1352.
Her name is Ruth Bowman. Sorry for such short notice; yesterday was when she told me she assumed you would be CD and it was due to how much she enjoyed you that made her want to cruise again.
Thanks again. Jo Lee
PS thought I should add that I too thoroughly enjoyed you as CD.

John Says:

Hello Jo Lee
Of course, it would be an honour to do this for Mum. Please tell her I will miss being with her and to expect something gold and shiny to accompany her signed photo. Will you please write when you get home to tell me how Mum enjoyed her cruise? I am sorry about the bloggers cruise and I know you will have a brilliant time once again on the Carnival Freedom with the brilliant Lenny Halliday as your CD.

jerry calvert Asked:

John I need the correct itin for the carn. Miracle on Feb 1 .I’m aware of the propulsion problem.
The website says were going to Roatan, but the press release says Grand Cayman. What’s correct?

John Says:

Hello Jerry
Grand Cayman is as we speak your port of call. I have asked for the website to be changed and I apologize mate for the confusion. If you have any other questions please let me know and I will be here for you.

Tim Kriebel, MCPO, USN Retired Asked:

John: (Please Reply if you see fit)
Since you brought up “the old days”, I remember our first cruise on Carnival. It was on the Ecstacy in June 1992. You were the CD at the time. What I remember vividly was a breakfast buffet (or at least a place to get breakfast) that was open from about midnight to maybe 1:30 AM. It was perfect and similar to normal life when you would go out in the evening and stop off at the local breakfast eatery after a night of debauchery (or not) with your snout full of adult beverages for a greasy hot breakfast (of course to minimize the possibility of a hangover). Sure wish they would bring those back!!! Any chance of that?

John Says:

Hello Tim
Oh I remember the breakfast buffet of eggs, bacon, sausage and big lumps of crusty bread. I am going to suggest this be brought back because not only was it very popular but it was a place where people would gather and meet new friends. We already have the brilliant 24-hour pizzeria for this but certainly the breakfast buffet would be warmly welcomed by many guests I am sure. Thanks for the trip down memory lane and my best as always to you and the family

Linda Hernacki Asked:

Well John, now that you won’t be on the Imagination I am sure you will still be in Miami all of next week for meetings and more! So, we are still on, right? Remember: Carnival Valor, 1/25/09-Miami, just keep us informed, Time, Place, etc. Paul, Bee & I all want to see you very much, as well as our spouses! NINE more days, can’t wait! Heidi take it easy while John is gone, and Heidi when you have time, PLEASE let me know the color scheme of the baby’s nursery since I have asked John and NOT gotten a reply – need to know soon, as I am working on something Special for BABY! Thanks! Congrats John on the award, you so deserve it! #1 in my book! So you will be on the Fantasy 1/29 right? It says early in the blog 29 Feb.-Mar. 2nd, but you did mean 1/29-2/2 right? So, I gather you will fly out of Miami on the 28th? So, 1/25 you will see us then right?
So, for winning this award in Porthole, do you get an Aston Martin? HA! HA! Congrats again! Linda

John Says:

Hello Linda
Just a reminder that we are meeting for coffee on the Carnival Valor on Sunday at 2:30pm in the lobby. I am very much looking forward to seeing you and all the other blog readers. Thanks for thinking of Heidi and I and to answer your question the color of the nursery is cream. Thanks so much for everything you do and can’t wait to see you on Sunday

msqpon – Jo Myerly Asked:

Can you check something out for me? We are sailing on the Splendor from Buenos Aires February 17. Our cruise ends in Valparaiso Chile March 3. We will take Carnivals transfers to the airport in Santiago. Do we need to get a visa at the airport to exit Chile? I have read different opinions on this. Can you find out?
Jo and Dave

John Says:

Hello Jo
I have checked with my sources here at Carnival who have assured me that you will not need an exit visa for this as you will be covered by the ship’s blanket visa. It won’t be long now until you are on your way and I truly wish I was coming with you. Best to you both

retirementman Asked:

Good morning John. I have only one question to ask you. On this cruise I taking one of the islands I’ll be stopping at is St. Thomas. I would like to know the rules before we get on the island. I hear that government people get on the ship and they check each person before we can get on the island. Is this true and is it just for American tourists or all as I’m a Canadian. How long will it take as I have an excursion at 11:30 and the ship arrives in at 10. This is new to me because the other islands I’ve been there you could get off the ship quickly. I would like to know thing ahead of time and not be surprised when I get there. I appreciate your assistance on this. Thank my friend.
Paul F. PIetrangelo

John Says:

Hello Paul
How are you? The latest news is that Immigration for US Citizens in St Thomas has been canceled however it still applies to aliens like you and I. However, it is a quick and easy process as most people on the vessel are US Citizens and therefore the lines are short. Your excursion will be no problem and you will have time to spare I promise. I will see you on Sunday at 2:30pm in the lobby

Irene Garner Asked:

Dear John…please reply.
I love reading your blog every day, which I discovered after taking our first cruise last summer on the Carnival Freedom to the Mediterranean. I have since booked another 5 day cruise which will be during the Spring Break in March on the Carnival Destiny.
Yesterday I booked a 3 day cruise starting on April 10th to Baja Mexico on the Carnival Destiny for myself and my grandson who will be turning 18 on April 11th. When I was looking up information about the cruise I spotted a new Shore Excursion “City Tour and Mexican Fiesta” which I thought would be a perfect way for him to celebrate his big day, but now that I have booked the cruise and I went to book the shore excursion I find this option is not on the list. Is it possible that this excursion is no longer being offered or, has it already sold out and therefore not included on the list? Is there anything you can do or people you can talk to who could help me get on this excursion with my grandson?
Thanks…. (hooked on cruising) Irene

John Says:

Hello Irene
Thanks for all the kind words you have said in the above comment and I am so happy you are enjoying the blog. You are correct that this tour has been canceled. However, have a look at the list where I am sure you will find something fun and memorable for you and your grandson. If you have any questions please let me know and I will try and help you find the right excursion for you both. Cheers and have a wonderful cruise

I have the next ten questions ready to answer on tomorrow’s blog. Please remember, if there is anything I can do for you please mark your comments “John, please reply.” ……….and I will.

There are some wonderful new photos of Carnival Dream at www.carnival.com/dream. The excitement surrounding her is amazing and I know many of you have already booked your Dream cruise. I hope to visit the shipyard again April and will bring you some more news, videos and photos.

At 5 pm today I have a meeting with Jim Berra, our chief marketing officer. We will discuss my brand ambassador schedule and I will chat with him about the best way we can continue to improve the blog for all of you. I want it to be a place where breaking Carnival news is shared with all of you and a place where your questions and concerns can be answered. More than anything………I want it to be fun………lots of fun.
Now, next week you will get a preview live here on the blog of some of our new commercials. I am honored that the folks here are allowing me to do this and I will be also honored if you would tell me what you think. I hope to have you this by Wednesday.

Well, it’s the weekend tomorrow and while for many the weekend is something that many look forward to I do not. Oh for sure while I am in the UK and at home on vacation I enjoy the sport on TV and spending time with friends. Here though………in Miami …….they are quiet lonely. While I have many friends and colleagues they all have family and jobs to do at the weekend. Therefore my Saturday and Sunday nights will be spent alone…………..and that’s the time I miss Heidi the most.

I like the hotel I am staying in. It’s small, friendly and everyone now calls me Mr. John. It is right next to the office which is very convenient and is usually very quiet. But not last night……. And that’s because I was not able to get a good night’s sleep because I was woken from my Jessica Simpson dreams every five minutes by the siren of a passing fire truck, paramedic ambulance or police car. What was going on? Had there been a serious incident…….a riot……a murder……or had someone had a heart attack because they found a shop assistant at the Dolphin Mall that was actually helpful.

I am not sure about North America but certainly in the UK people tend to call the emergency services for just about anything these days. Obviously some people need an ambulance in these troubled times because they’ve been stabbed or shot or have been to Paris and have fainted from the pungent hideous smell.
Happily, I have been giving the matter serious thought as well and I’ve come up with some ideas of my own. One of the reasons more people need the services of an ambulance driver is because of the local news’ weather forecasting………more on that in a moment.

We don’t really have local news stations like you do in the UK. That is of course because you can drive the entire length of the UK in seven hours……yep……..it’s a small country in fact it was recently carpeted…..it’s so small Rhode Island could beat the crap out of us in a war……….anyone know which movies those lines come from?

As I said, I love watching the local American news and I have nothing but total admiration for the people who run these journalistic outposts. They operate on a tiny budget that means they can only respond to fires, and idiotic press releases written by lunatics in high visibility jackets.

Everyone interviewed on local news programs is in a hi-vi. Just last night I watched a broadcast on Miami’s Channel 7 showing some people buying thick furry coats to prepare for the freezing temperatures…… And why when there’s a helicopter involved, does the reporter stand under it so they have to shout?

Then there are the pick ’nmix stories. There’s always someone laying garage flowers by the side of a busy road then you’ll have something about the environment, a pointless vox pop, a cute animal, possibly on a skateboard, some suing McDonalds, and someone who’s just emerged from a not terribly important crisis and needs counseling.

In local news, counseling is the pay-off for pretty well every single story. Local hospital closes down. Staff is offered counseling. Dog falls off skateboard. Owners are offered counseling. Child excluded from school, parents in hi-vi jackets are offered counseling.

Then you have the woman, with a charity T-shirt hastily pulled on over her normal clothes, who’s organized a fundraising costume fun run for the hospital that saved her husband’s life after a car crash. That’s interesting, for the poor chap’s immediate family but where’s the story about the economy………..or the war in Afghanistan?

So, why, you may be wondering do I tune in if these programs make me so angry? Well, I love them. I love the gear-graunching mistakes. Last night, for instance, the girl on Channel 7 referred to a shark sighting off the coast of North Miami Beach as a “vicious shark attack” but when the chap who had been subject to the “vicious attack” was interviewed he told the reporter that the shark had “nudged” his surf board … yep …….pretty damn vicious.

But what I love most of all is the hair. The anchor’s hair is always worth a giggle, but when it cuts to the chap in the field I’m like a seven-year-old who has just put a booger in Grandpa’s ice tea and is watching him drink it, rolling around in laughter. How does it get like that? Do they take a photo of John Kerry to the barber’s and say “I want to look like that.”

I watched a sad story last night when a lady reporter was telling us about a sad story about a family that had their house badly damaged in a fire. The reporter does everything right. He puts on his special “caring” voice. The cameraman tightens for a Big Close Up when the family photo album is produced. But the parent in question won’t cry because….well you can’t when the lady with the microphone has a dead horse on her head.

The weather forecast here in Miami had me in stitches last night as they issued …… a freezing weather alert!…..this resulted in people staying indoors and only venturing out if they were clad in parkas, gloves and in some cases those Russian hats with the furry floopy dead rabbit type ears………oh……it was 50 degrees.
This I am sure resulted last in many people passing out from heat exhaustion as they sat drinking their hot chocolates.

Of course the other reason there has been such a dramatic leap is because the world is now fuller than ever of people who are technically stupid. In the olden days (i.e., before last week), it was a big story when someone dialed 911 in hysterics because they’d broken a fingernail. But now it happens so often, it’s no longer news.

Last night I went to Publix to buy toiletries and was standing at the checkout .A woman became so hysterical about a hair she’d found on the outside of a packet of bacon that she called the police………..honestly…..she had called the police and she was happily telling the checkout lady this. Had I been armed, I’m fairly sure I’d have shot her in the back of the head. Certainly, I thought quite seriously about clubbing her to death with my shopping basket.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. In Ohio a woman called the paramedics because her television remote control was out of reach. Then there was the young man who reckoned he needed emergency care because he’d sniffed some deodorant by accident. I nearly called them myself yesterday because I had squeezed a Hemorrhoid and it wouldn’t stop bleeding.

One pensioner told a paramedic crew she’d summoned to wait for 40 minutes because she was baking a cake. The crew gave her a stern warning about wasting their time and left, but the warning plainly wasn’t physical enough because exactly 40 minutes later the daft old bat told a second crew that her cake had risen nicely and she was ready to go to hospital.

The stories are endless. The people with shampoo in their eyes. The people who think they’ve caught a virus from their computer. The people whose brains are so tiny and so ineffectual that they cannot determine what is a nuisance and what is an amputation.

From an early age, I intend to tell my Thingy not to run into the house wailing only if they he/she can actually see bone poking out of their skin.

So, now that we have uncovered the problem, we must decide what to do. Many would call for better education but this is expensive, it won’t make an impact for 15 years at least and I can hardly see where it would fit in the curriculum now that children have to spend so much time learning how to have safe sex and why my Range Rover is boiling Peter the polar bear.

I have therefore decided that the carrot-and-stick approach is best. Only without the carrot. This works for dogs and so I see no reason why it should not work for life forms that have less intelligence, such as the French.

In short, paramedic crews summoned to the assistance of someone whose head is still attached to the body and who does not have gangrene or Ebola should be allowed, if they see fit, to burn the person’s house down. Or, if they are kindly souls, to take an item that has roughly the same value as the call-out, so that it can be sold by the paramedic crew………….on eBay.

Your friends
John, Heidi and the Thingy…..look out for a video from Heidi and the Thingy tommorow.

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.