A Blog From La Petite Chambre

February 2, 2009 -

John Heald

What a brilliant Super Bowl it was and congratulations to Ben Doublecheeseburger and the Peelers. I really enjoyed the gloriously over-the-top spectacle of glitz, glamour and show business – and that’s just the halftime show. I spoke to my mate Alan this morning and asked if he watched it and he said………….”It’s so over the top, they’re just pansies in padding, it goes on for ever.”

These are the most common complaints. I happen to love the fact that the clock can stop when play does. This means that, as a spectator who has paid serious money to get a ticket, you get your money’s worth.

You get a proper hour of play with two or three extra ones cocooned around it in which to enjoy yourself by eating and drinking half your body weight in hot dogs, nachos and beer.

The fans are ludicrously enthusiastic – unlike the fans at a soccer match or indeed the few hundred Philly fans who went overboard when their team won the World Series by beating another country………California, I think it was. I was filming the Piñata advert the next day and when I arrived at the hotel the windows were smashed, the doors were off their hinges and all the furniture was pulverized. This was the drunken result of their disappointment………….because they had won.

It was bordering on insane behavior but they were all as proud as punch. They felt that their destructive rampage, leaving where they lived totally uninhabitable, was a fitting testament to their loyalty to the team. Curiously, this intense behavior rarely turns into violence at the actual games. Maybe that’s because there’s enough of it on the pitch to go around? I know that they wear padding but most of the players weigh over 250 pounds and move like turbo-assisted freight trains.

The injury rate is spectacular and without the padding there would be a death toll to match Iraq. Occasionally when I’ve been wandering through some US airport I’ve passed a group of players that have truly resembled another species. Huge man-mountains heading for the burger bar – I have no idea what airline they travel on but none that I’ve ever flown with would accommodate them. Maybe they get about on those troop-carrier planes that the US use to move Jeeps and tanks about? They should go one stage further. If you dressed these behemoths in US Army uniforms armed to the teeth and got them to wander about the streets of Kabul, then I feel confident that President Obama could sort out the returning Taliban in a matter of days.

I always feel sorry for the specialist kickers when they get blitzed. These are often slight players, sometimes plucked from the world of rugby (or, as last night, Australian football) for huge sums of money who sit on the sidelines and only ever go on the field to convert a touchdown or kick a field goal. They have to set up behind a wall of defenders and try to kick the ball as an opposing pack of aggressive monsters bears down on them.

The halftime show always has a huge name playing – last night it was “The Boss” Bruce Springsteen and it was a great show but for me the highlight was Jennifer (forgot her last name) singing the national anthem. As she did so I was e-mailed by a mate of mine reminding me that her mother and nephew had been murdered recently. One can only imagine the mixed emotions she must have felt as she sang from the depths of her heart. My mate’s e-mail also reminded me that she used to work for Disney Cruise Line before auditioning on American Idol……ahhh……..so an ex-cruise ship employee singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl…………Simon Cowell……….can you hear her now ?

The commercials were mostly a disappointment I thought and none more so than the Budweiser horse one which supplied us with the worst Scottish accent you will ever here. The voice over actor started off with a poor attempt at being Celtic but halfway through just gave up. I mean come on……….you pay millions for these commercials so do it properly. Maybe Budweiser ran out of money and realized they couldn’t afford Sean Connery so they got Sean Connery…………..from Alabama.

The worst example of getting it wrong, however, comes from Americans who, having lived in Britain for a while, think they can start talking English. Every time a Yank calls me “mate” I’m filled with a sudden desire to insert my foot in his bottom. Americans cannot say “mate” any more than Germans can say “squirrel.” And it’s even worse when a Brit tries to speak American, we that we sound idiotic when we use the word “bucks” instead of “dollars.” The gold medal winner on trying to speak with an English accent must go to Kevin Costner in Robin Hood. He tried hard for the first 20 minutes of the film then just gave up and returned to his American twang. I realize it must be hard. My friend Kevin I think does a good job in masking the fact that he is a kilt-wearing, haggis-eating Scot when he speaks in Gray’s Anatomy as does the guy from House. But others ……….like the Scottish Budweiser horse are just rubbish.

We all now that there are differences in the meaning of words in English and American ………..the popular ones such as fanny and tart are well known. However, I heard a doctor use a word this morning that I truly did not understand. This morning on CNN there was a story that made me sit up as a doctor described the condition of a patient.

A young chap who had been using his cell phone on the third story of an office block when the elevator doors opened. Without looking, he stepped through the gap only to find the lift wasn’t actually there.

In the resultant fall he broke his back in two places, punctured a lung and snapped several ribs. But even so, doctors on this morning’s news described his condition as “comfortable.” Now look. Someone lying on beach under the whispery shade of a Caribbean palm tree being massaged by a Latvian supermodel is “comfortable.” Someone lying in a Californian hospital with a broken back and a shattered rib poking through one of his lungs just isn’t. Crumpled would have been better. As would miserable, broken, or pissed of. They could even have said: “Well he won’t be skateboarding or bungee jumping for a while.” A British doctor may have said “the lad’s a bit bent.” ……………….. And it would have taken me ages to explain why that’s wrong, as well.

Well, here I am in New Orleans. The hotel I am staying at is the Omni which is where I will be based until the fifth and the big bloggers event. As I checked in the lady told me Carnival had reserved me “La petite chambre.” As you know, it is impossible to speak French because everything has a sex. Rooms. Ships. Pork. Condoms even. Everything is either a boy or a girl and they snigger when you get it wrong.

Anyway, I repeated the words “Oh, I have La Petite Chambre” in my best Inspector Clousseau impression and she looked at me like I had just told her I had seen her sister working a street corner last night .

Anyway, it turns out “Le Petite Chambre” means a little room and let me tell you………there is little room to do bugger all here. There is a bed and ummm……….a toilet which honestly has the smallest bowl I have ever seen. Now either I buy a big pot of Imodium or I am going to have to hover over the target and hope I miss the sides………….bloody French.

Anyway, I just got back from a walk around to check out the French Quarter where the hotel is located. I had prepared myself for my exploration of this area by buying a guidebook and so I blend in………I haven’t washed for a week. Seriously though, this is my first time coming to New Orleans since Katrina and my first impression was that the city felt…….well………kind of sad. Maybe because it was only just lunchtime the residents were taking a nap. A few people sat on the rickety wrought-iron balconies, while the odd busker played music in the shop doorway.

I am sure tonight, Bourbon Street’s neon signs will be flaring, trumpet notes will be blasting across the sky, and whisky glasses clinking like percussion for the band. That’s the New Orleans I hope I get to see. There are certainly no shortage of voodoo shops and restaurants. I have been given many recommendations by friends and colleagues but for lunch today I found a cafe and had a Pep Boy sandwich which was delicious. Later I hope to go and have a look at Canal Street and watch the Carnival Fantasy sail away.

Now, just before I talk about the ship one last time here is Stephanie to tell you more about the bloggers charity event.

Hi Everyone!
Only a few days left until we’re onboard the Carnival Fantasy!! For those volunteering with us and the Beacon of Hope Resource Center on Feb. 6 you should have received an email from me earlier today with all the details. But, to quickly review here are the highlights 🙂
-Meet at 8 am in the lobby of the Maison St. Charles
-Carnival will provide transportation
-The volunteer day begins at 9 am when we will be restoring West End Park. This involves outdoor work mainly painting and cleaning up the park.
-The day will end at about 1 pm
-At 5:30 pm it’s party time with a Thank You cocktail reception at the Maison St. Charles
If you have any questions leave a comment on the blog marked ATTN: Stephanie.
Thanks and see you soon!

It’s chilly here so maybe you should all think about bringing something to wear over the T-shirts……….or we can use shared bodily warmth!
Thanks Stephanie. I have decided to make myself job foreman and will be directing the ummmm…………cleaning………..operation. We will post photos and videos of the event. We will then head to the Carnival Fantasy for the bloggers cruise. I want to be very honest and tell you that I was slightly concerned when the Miami office told me that this was the ship that would host the bloggers cruise.

However…….my fears were completely unjustified. The ship is brilliant and I hope that my review of it these last few days showed off just why the Fantasy class of ships are being rejuvenated and why they should be seriously considered when you decide on your next vacation.

Here is the Carnival Fantasy’s Hotel Director Andrew Brown and the ship’s Cruise Director Big Tex.

Two great guys whom I know you will be excited to meet…………………not long now.

I had a great time on the ship and so will you.

Please stop by www.bestblogsatsea.com. There are three world cruises to read about as well as some wonderful photos on the Seabourn Odyssey blog of this new uber-luxury ship that is under construction.

Let’s also check in again with Jaime, who is on the Carnival Splendor’s South American voyage. As you will read now things got off to a bit of an unexpected start.

Here’s Jaime’s Dear John letter

February 1, 2009

Dear John,

Day one of my South American journey on the Splendor is complete and oh what a sequence of events has occurred thus far:

Signing onto the Splendor felt like I had never left here! I saw so many familiar faces on the gangway, the I-95 (which is what we refer to as the deck zero walkway), and all throughout the ship. It truly felt like home, and all my adventures on the Pride just never even seemed to have occurred. My friends had all heard about my experience taking over as cruise director so I got to share of the stories of the challenges and tests of patience that occurred during that short stint. I was happy to be home and see familiar faces.

I proceeded to complete my typical sign on requirements such as safety meetings, working out my cabin arrangements, and getting settled in. I was happy to learn that I would be living with my roommate from the Baltic/Mediterranean run – Lauren. I made sure to call all of my friends and family back home because as we all know; my cell phone would have exorbitant rates for the next 49 days!! Even though crew members do have access to phone cards – these too can get quite expensive when you are calling your loved ones on a regular basis.

The next challenge: embarking the 3,000+ guests that would be sailing with us on our Brazilian Adventure. Embarkation was going as scheduled until it was brought to a screeching halt because of an issue with some pieces of luggage in the terminal but it turned out to be a false alarm.

Embarkation had to be halted which is protocol in these types of situations. In addition to the guests that had not yet made it on board, 31 crew members also waited in the terminal until the area was secured. Among these 31 were fellow members of the entertainment department: Jim, the musical director; Josh, our sound technician; and our dear friend Lawrence, the production singer. They informed me that things were well organized in the terminal building. They could here Goose’s announcements and they were brought beverages and food from the room service team on the Carnival Freedom, who were docked with us in Port Everglades!

We were able to resume embarkation around 7:30 pm and we finally admitted our final guests around 9:15 pm. We also had difficulty embarking some guests because apparently they were not aware that they needed a Brazilian visa in order to visit the Brazilian ports this cruise! Now, it is my understanding that we did inform all guests around October 20, that they would need a special visa in order to sail with us. Unfortunately, some guests did not comply with this regulation and thus they were either left behind trying to consult with the Brazilian authorities in hopes of meeting the ship in Dominica or they are on the ship, trying to sort out this issue and hoping to get off in the Brazilian ports and if not, they are just planning on enjoying all the fun excitement that exists on board the Carnival Splendor!

Now, we have been sailing for a day, trying to make up time for our late dismissal from Ft. Lauderdale. Our team is working hard already. I have seen many familiar faces from the inaugural season of the Splendor and fellow bloggers. Earlier today, Cheryl said hello to me and she wanted to say Hi to all of her friends in blog-land! It is both fun and challenging going back to my position as one of the entertainment staff members. I am quite excited about it, because one of my favorite parts of my job is getting to talk to everyone. As cruise director I was so focused on what was happening next – announcements, travel talk, debark talk, safety meetings etc… that I didn’t have as much time to spend one on one with everyone! I am grateful to be where I am at =).

We have such an amazing entertainment team on board. It consists of: Goose – our wonderful leader and Cruise Director, who is working extremely hard with 49 new Capers and schedules for the entire ship. Brad – who just joined the ship two weeks ago, our incredible assistant cruise director, leading our team to victory and has a wonderful attitude and sense of humor! Lauren – who you met from the Baltic run who is sick with a sore throat and cough at this moment, but hard working and positive as ever. Adele – our most senior host, whose experience and expertise is a mantra for us all. Owen – who happened to miss his flight from Columbia, but will be joining us in Dominica and helping us all with our Spanish! Of course myself – who I do not need to say anything about, I just work here, and am looking forward to the trip =).

Tonight, I quickly stepped away from the huge Super Bowl party that we are throwing for the guests in order to write this entry. The game is showing on Lido deck, in the main lounge, and in the Red Carpet disco. I am going to rejoin the team outside, but you can count on hearing from me again soon!

I am sure the bloggers cruise is going wonderfully! Wish I was there with you!

Guests enjoying the Superbowl out on the Lido deck of the Carnival Splendor!

From right to left:
Jaime – Entertainment Staff, Brad – our new ACD, Pauly – Wonderful Splendor Dancer, Fiona – My twin/Splendor dancer who just returned! Brett – Splendor Dancer who is cheering for the Cardinals… and Jezza – Aussie Splendor Dancer

We have a new female production singer: Analyn Gepte who I worked with on the Imagination and is AMAZING!!! The whole cast is doing a run through of the show to incorporate her in!

All the best,
Jaime from the Splendor!

As always, wonderful writing and lets hope the rest of the voyage is incident free ………… whatever happens, we thank Jaime for being our chief correspondent.

Tomorrow I will be answering the next set of questions marked for my reply . I have read all your comments and it seems you have some great suggestions and ideas and opinions. Please keep them coming.

Remember, I am not the only one who reads them and it’s a great way for the senior management at Carnival to see what their guests are thinking.

Now, I need a favor. Someone mentioned recently that Pepsi had a commercial similar to the Carnival one. Can anyone shed any light as to which commercial this is. Someone at Carnival was asking me yesterday and I have no idea………..is there a link thingy you can provide me with?……………….thanks in advance

After the Super Bowl and went to the late show and then went to bed……….but I found myself unable to sleep so I watched a movie………….Batman, the Dark Knight. It is very far removed from the original television show I used to watch as a boy. For instance, instead of biffing and kapowing his way through show in a body-hugging super suit, our hero is a brooding and complicated character, perhaps a living with the shame about what he and Robin used to get up to in the bath together back in the 60s. ………

Anyway, Michael Caine is as always just brilliant but I was somewhat disappointed. Batman has become what film-marketing people call “dark” or “gritty,” and we see a similar problem with today’s James Bond, who has lost the one-liners and the gadgets and become “brooding” and “complicated”………….rather like a dancer or a chef.

It’s the same story with the plot. In Quantum of Solace I was left utterly bewildered by what on earth he was up to half the time. Was Mathis a goodie or a baddie? I have no idea, and if I have no idea, what chance is there for the small boys whose fascination with 007 has kept the brand alive for so long? In the olden days, Bond would get some orders from M and then embark on a series of fights, interspersed with some light rumpy pumpy, until eventually the baddie and his entire operation exploded. It was as easy to understand as a Tom and Jerry cartoon. But today, we’re told, 007 is more in keeping with the character from the original books. We have to be told this, of course, because no bugger has ever actually read one.

Frankly I wish he’d just get back to the days when he head butted Curt Jurgens in the face, blew up Donald Pleasance’s volcano and went to bed with Barbara Bach and when the first round of rumpy pumpy is up, Bond would say things like “My dear girl, there are some things that just aren’t done. Such as drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above a temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit.”…………I miss Sean.

And I here Superman is next on the list for a movie makeover in the same dark and brooding way. Which means that instead of getting Superman to fly about and make the world go backwards, they ask what being a superhero does to a man’s soul. Can he ever love someone? Can he ever be at peace? Will our hero be found saying “Oh why can’t I be more human. I want to embrace humanity and discard my powers in flavor of opening a flower shop?”

Oh, for God’s sake. Just kick Lex Luthor in the bollocks ……..and burn his willy off with your laser eyes.

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.