Meet the Press

February 12, 2009 -

John Heald

Unlike travel and cruise journalists, I do not get to stay at ritzy, champagne-drenched, Michelin-starred, exotic hotels in sun-kissed, faraway places. I’d love to eat a swan at Seabourn’s expense and spend my life licking the goose fat from the hand that feeds me, but I am a simple cruise Director. I like to think I am a journalist. I know that proper journalists will say “Bollocks, are you a proper journalist ” and that and explain that two years writing a blog and saying “bugger” a lot don’t make me a journalist, any more than the fact that I have an English accent gives me the right to play the part of Mr. Darcy in Pride and Thingy.

But be that as it may, I love journalism. And I crave the company of journalists. And this cruise I got to spend time with some of the nation’s best cruise journalists and this morning in a press panel environment they shared their love of cruising with all of us. They answered the questions that the bloggers posed with sincerity and great thought. We learned that the print media is in serious trouble and that newspapers quickly must adapt in order to survive. I love reading a newspaper, especially on a Sunday. However, it seems the writing is on the wall or in this case the writing is on the internet as that’s where everyone agreed the future lay. Every one of the press corps also agreed that this had been a wonderful cruise and the ship and her crew had been outstanding. I was going to report on what they had to say but, like a broken pencil……..that would be pointless. Here instead is a list of the press who were here with us and link thingies to their websites etc.

Anita Dunham Potter – www.expertcruiser.com
David Molyneaux – www.travelmaven.net
Paul Motter – www.cruisemates.com
Lynn and Cele Seldon – www.lynnseldon.com
Gene Sloan – www.cruises.usatoday.com
Alan Whitt – freelancer
Susan Young – www.southerncruising.com

The press panel was well attended as have been all the activities. Later today I will be hosting two more tea times, the Talent Show and a final farewell cocktail party. Last night we had a bloggers only show starring Al Ernst and Lewis Nixon. Al spoke about the hazards of flying these days and as always had the audience wiping tears of laughter away. Lewis………….well he spent 20 minutes telling the bloggers stories of the practical jokes we used to play on each other and these tales of my demise had the audience gasping for air as they howled with uncontrolable laughter. It was a great night.

Normally, these two chaps would do their show and then fly out of a port and onto another ship. However, I asked permission for them to stay with me the whole five days and they quite honestly have been invaluable. I am sure the bloggers will report back that they met Lewis and Al personally and that their being here has enhanced the cruise ………. I certainly thank them as I do Carnival’s Entertainment Director Chris Prideaux for being here with me……………….thanks guys.

It was mentioned by a blogger at the press conference this morning that the captain of the Carnival Fantasy, Captain Scala had been the most visible captain that they had seen …………….others agreed as they showed by their applause. Last night Captain Scala hosted a “cigars under the stars” gathering on the open deck and invited the guests to come and take a photo and meet him and the senior officers. This afternoon he will be hosting a Q and A. He certainly is a man of the people.

It was asked by someone why all captains don’t do this. I explained that while we encourage the masters to be out and about as much as possible with the guests that obviously the first priority in being a ship’s captain is the ability not to hit that big rock on the port side. However, there is no doubt that some captains are more comfortable speaking in public than others and that Captain Scala has taken the social side of being a Carnival Cruise Lines captain to a whole new level.

Here is part two of my interview with Captain Scala

What else has happened today……….well…………Kevin is as we speak holding a celebrity chef cooking class………….the bloggers are picking up their Bloggers T-Shirts and oh yes………….I am signing lots of my bobble heads.

Yep……………yesterday we gave everyone on this cruise a John Heald Bobblehead…………..here’s a photo.

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I really don’t have any words to describe how I feel about seeing myself in bobble head form but I will say that the designer was very kind by trimming a few hundred pounds.

Yesterday and today have been difficult because I have hosted all the shows and events and spent time at a beach while being at death’s door. I have a runny nose, a sore throat, a nasty hacking cough and every few minutes my eyes fill with water: all the ingredients you need to make a convincing Nyquil commercial for the television. I also have a bit of a fever and it was suggested by some bloggers that I go and see the ship’s doctor.

However, I can’t because he will tell me I can’t work and if my cold does turn out to be the flu, then the US Coast Guard will land a helicopter on the aft of the ship, inject me with plasma and take samples of my blood to some biochemical warfare center in Atlanta. Then, men in nuclear spillage boiler suits will want to know if I have had any contact with Chinese chickens or Vietnamese swans or the French. It isn’t the flu though……it’s a cold…………..flu is nasty and claiming you have it when all you have is a cold makes you look ridiculous…………………which is why I am suffering in silence ……….well……………apart from complaining to thousands of readers of the blog of course.

I wonder where I got the cold from. For hundreds of years people thought the cold was caused by being cold. “You’ll catch your death out there,” people in 18th-century blizzards would say. It was in the 1920s that we understood the cold to be a viral infection, a nasty little bugger that invades your body, multiplies and then causes you to sneeze so that millions of its brothers can shoot up the noses and through the eyes of everyone within five feet.

Since then, we’ve been to the moon, invented the Eyepod, designed cruise ships with huge TV screens and water parks on them and created the Pop Tart. But still no one knows how to keep the cold virus at bay.

I started to feel ill at the beach yesterday…………….yes, I went to the beach where I was joined by 150 bloggers. It was a beautiful place and while everyone enjoyed the swimming, the food, relaxing in a hammock or taking part in the beach activities accompanied by a complimentary bar………….I sat in the shade, shivering and sneezing.

At first I thought I may have been allergic to going to the beach………or indeed that I was having an allergic reaction to seeing people who had no right to still be wearing a bikini at their age. However, as the day went on I found myself sneezing and blowing my nose every five minutes. The bloggers tour was a huge hit though and as we went traveled back to the ship I listened to so many people tell me what a brilliant time they had as had I despite feeling like crap. It was a chance to sit and chat with everyone in a different environment to that of the ship and despite the fact that I occasionally covered a bloggers or two in the green slimy snot that flew out of my nose during a violent sneezing session I had a great time.

OK, let’s take a break and check in with Jaime and the Carnival Splendor and her latest Dear John letter.

February 8, 2009

Dear John,

Welcome to our first Brazilian port of call – Fortaleza! According to the research I had conducted before taking part in this itinerary, I learned that when visiting this port of call it was important to visit “Mercado Central” because supposedly it is “interesting, stimulating and completely different from any other market you have ever visited.” I am well aware that many of the Splendor guests opted to get off the ship and take the courtesy shuttle to this market place. Many others chose to take part in the Fortaleza highlights tour and visit the lighthouse, the museum and other attractions. I on the other hand hear rumor that only 25 kilometers from the port was a massive water park which was home to the steepest, tallest water slide IN THE WORLD. With such a mighty claim 46 of us crew members organized ourselves and took a taxi ride over to “Beach Park.”

I teamed up with some of my friends from the “Elite Show band,” and headed to the park. Luckily, one of the band members, Joe from England, had been studying Portuguese for the past few months. I was quite impressed that he had learned enough of the language to negotiate a fair price with the taxi driver, get us to and from the water park, and most importantly find out how to translate the dirty words that are an important aspect of the rich culture of Brazil!

Since our taxi driver spoke VERY little English it was difficult to grasp any of the facts about this location, which is something I usually look forward to. I can however inform you that it was very hot and humid in Fortaleza. The approximately 2 million residents speak the primary language Portuguese. The money they use is called the Real, 1 Real equals about 2.2 dollars (or so they say!) Most importantly, this area is known of its beautiful beaches.

Once we arrived at the water park we had a fantastic day. The weather was ideal, the beach was perfect and the park was absolutely massive. We were fortunate enough to experienced a wave pool, a wet ‘n wild park and of course the steepest slide ever. When you slide down this you actually lose contact with the slide and free fall for what feels like almost 3 seconds. After climbing approximately 1000 stairs, I found myself standing at the top of the hugest water slide I had ever laid eyes upon. I stood at the top, with my hands on the rail, over looking the palm trees, the gorgeous architecture of the city and all sorts of people. All of these aspects led to the extreme enjoyment of my first time in Brazil. Once I came to the realization that it was finally my turn to make my way down the slide. After several deep breaths and words of prayer, I took off clenching my eyes closed as tightly as imaginable. I was so nervous that I simply forgot to scream because I was frightened that I would not make it to the bottom without splattering into smithereens! I think the possibility for annihilation is so high that the designers decided to put a considerably sized pool of water at the bottom of this huge drop – to clean all the guts away for the people that don’t make it.

Our huge group was also lucky to witness a very special day at this park. It was the grand opening of a series of 7 brand spanking new water slides. The celebration for this special event included the unveiling of these new twisting, thrill seeking, and potentially dangerous swirly slides. There was a VIP party, which, oddly enough, we discovered you are NOT supposed to sneak into! Well, I must admit we tried all the slides and it was truly a once in a lifetime event.

As far as the people that chose to undertake other adventures this day, I heard a wide range of comments from both guests and crew. Since we did arrive in Fortaleza on a Sunday it is expected that some stores and tourist locations may be closed. Luckily, those that were aware of this and decided to make it a beach day had beautiful sunshine and palm trees to enjoy.

Overall, this water park adventure turned out to be a spectacular day. I would definitely come back to visit this spot again. Being able to look the entire city from the top of the tallest slide was beautiful, and so different architecturally than any place I had ever visited. I know the gentlemen in our group were all extremely happy to extensively research the Brazilian culture as well – especially the customary swimming attire.

Another sea day tomorrow, and then Recife is coming next. Unfortunately, I will be working on board for our next two ports of call, but I will most certainly find pictures and stories from friends so that you can hear all about these wonderful ports.

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Have a great day!
=) Jaime

Once again Jaime is proving to be a massive asset to the blog and I know we are all appreciating her daily looks at the Carnival Splendor’s South American journey …………. she still needs a boyfriend though.

So, tomorrow it’s all over and at noon I will be flying back to Miami. I will spend Friday in the office and Saturday doing bugger all and trying to get rid of this cold. Then it’s off to the Carnival Valor for one week of watching a young man called David Tancock be the CD and then on the 22nd I get to be the cruise director myself. I will enjoy sharing with you the stories about the people I meet and as always the wondrous comments they make…………..and those complaints that make you go…………………..wow.

I am sure you have been enjoying Tom’s highlight videos of the bloggers cruise. I want to thank Tom for all his hard work and that of Tony his colleague. I will talk about the Stephanies tomorrow. Here then, is the last Tom video…………hope you enjoy.

I know that the blogs have been a bit erratic and have been posted a little later than normal. Obviously this was due to how busy everyone here is and the fact that at times…………..the ship’s internet is slower than a tortoise wearing cement shoes and carrying Judge Judy on its back. We will get back to normal service next week.

Anyway, I have to run…………well ……………..walk. I have a lunch thingy to host and then the tea times, etc. I just had a violent sneezing attack which has meant that I also have to stop by the cabin to change my underwear as the last sneeze was so hard I had what is known as “blow through.”……………I know you wanted to know that.
And that’s a nice link into this.

Do you hate the fact that your Dr Pepper doesn’t actually have any peppers in it? Does your Pepsi lack pep? Is your Coke not the real thing? India’s Hindu nationalist movement apparently has the answer: a new soft drink made from cow urine …..yes ……………….you read that correctly………….cow urine.

It’s called “gau jal,” or “cow water” and as quoted in the BBC news today Om Prakash, the head of the department, said the drink – called “gau jal,” or “cow water” will be on sale by April across India.” Don’t worry,” he said, “it won’t smell like urine and will be tasty too. It’s going to be very healthy. It won’t be like carbonated drinks and would be devoid of any toxins.”
Hindus revere cows and slaughtering them is illegal in most of India. Cow dung is traditionally used as a fuel and disinfectant in villages, while cow urine and dung are often consumed in rituals to “purify” and that cow urine is being used to find a cure for ailments ranging from liver disease to obesity and even cancer……and I just learned is used to cure hemorrhoids.

I wonder if it will ever be exported. I wonder if we will ever be asked if we would like a can of cow urine at our local bar…………..I mean, we already have Red Bull. And maybe one day you will be able to ask for a large cow urine to accompany your Big Mac Meal at McDonalds…………….and maybe the server behind the counter will ask if you’re extra large cup of cow urine is for here or to go ………….which will enable you to say that you are………………….. “Taking the piss”

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.