An Invitation to Party

February 19, 2009 -

John Heald

Hoping that I would have a few hours of relaxation during my travels I went DVD shopping in the UK and bought some TV box set thingies. Well…….I flew out on January 20 and yesterday February 18……I watched the first two episodes of a series called Mad Men. The series set in an advertising agency in the Fifties and Sixties is hugely popular in the UK and I guess it’s the same in North America. Demonstrates that we are now more excited by the past than the future or the present. This makes particular sense in an economic climate best summed up by the phrase “You’ve never had it so bad,” in which the evening news resembles a serving of grey gruel, heavily seasoned with gloom.

Heidi tells me women’s pages are bursting with Mad Men fashion, featuring models in pencil skirts and skin-tight sweaters in the style of the series’ inimitable secretary, Joan Holloway, a girl with more curves than the aft of the Carnival Dream. I have to admit that it has left me brooding on what tremendous fun it would be to chain-smoke and openly ogle the office trainee without anyone suing you for sexual harassment, and never once be expected to do the washing-up at home. For me it was like watching a really brilliant commercial. It was slicker than a lap dancer’s pole, smoother than a pair of silk underpants and as moreish as Carnival’s chocolate melting cake. If only we could stick our heads in another decade for long enough, we think, this one with its credit crunch………. might bugger off.

Wouldn’t it be great to take the best bits out of each decade and bring them into the current one today? The Sixties…………. long hair, mini-skirts, free love and protest marches. The Seventies………… flares, glam-rock and punk. The Eighties – a formerly scorned decade now enjoying a triumphant comeback – are shoulder-pads, bouffant hair, knock-out designer perfume and guilt-free consumerism. As time goes on, representations of those decades become less about what they actually were, and more about the fact that we need to have the fun they represented here and now.

Still, the ability to romanticize the past is one of the great pleasures of survival. I expect that my generation will be at it ourselves in years to come, croaking: “The great 2009 crash wasn’t all that bad really: people started being courteous to each other again, houses got cheaper and we all took up knitting.”

Of course, I am a child of the Eighties and that’s why I can’t wait to see tomorrow nights show “Far From Over.” This is an 80’s production show and from what I hear it’s just brilliant. I loved the eighties the music, the clothes and the TV. Remember Dallas with JR, Miss Ellie and her granddaughter the poisoned elf? My favorite character was Bobby Ewing who used to drive around Dallas being unfaithful. But then, one day, another character from the show used his Mercedes SL to run him down. This made him very angry and he spent the next two years in the shower.

Then there was Dysentery……….sorry…Dynasty about the Colby oil family and of course my favourite eighties TV show……..The A Team…………I love it when a plan comes together.

And the music………..well I started the 80’s listening to The Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran and Wham. Then I realized that I wasn’t a girl and went over to Deep Purple, Rainbow and Jethro Tull. Yep, I loved the music, the TV and I was even good at the Atari games of those years……….Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Galaxia, Asteroids, Hemorrhoids and Pac Man. The 80’s also saw Richard Branson start his infamous Virgin Atlantic. I thought you might like to see their UK commercial celebrating their 30 years ………it’s set in the 80’s as you will see.

Have a look at this and see how many 1980’s references you can see.

Yep, brilliant isn’t it although did think it a little sexist. Me……..I just loved seeing the man with the giant phone asking his secretary to send a telex, the Rubics cube, the clothes, the haircuts and the music. By the way for the non-Brits, the Whimpy Burger the man was eating was the dominant burger chain in the UK before Micky Dees arrived.

The 80’s where the brilliant minds of Ted and Micky Arison continued to fling open wide the doors of cruising to the world and of course in the late eighties and nineties our commercials were dominated by the lovely Kathie Lee Gifford. I met her on a few occasions and I can honestly say she was a charming as can be. Do you remember her commercials……………here’s my favorite.

Great wasn’t it? And many of you probably sang the “Carnival’s Got The Fun” theme tune in the show before, during and after your vacation……….oh, and did you see the price starting at $325. Now think about this. Today, some 17 years later you can take a three-day cruise starting at $399 per person…..that’s only ummmm……….let me get a calculator………….back in a minute………….$74 more expensive than cruise 17 years ago…………are we having a laugh………..that’s outrageous.
So while you are picking yourself up off the floor after reading these low rates, have a look at the latest of our new Fun Director commercials.

Watch our latest Fun Director Commercial

Ahhhhhhhhh………… ship smell……………….brilliant.

Let’s answer some of your questions marked for my reply……………here we go.

Jessica Asked:

Dear John
Please reply.
Hope Heidi and the thingy (bump) are ok sending are love.
I was wondering if you could help me.
What is the best way of getting a job on a cruise ship? I love working with children and have been teaching them how to swim for 14 years and other sports and games for 6 years of those years as well. I have seen a lot of places to look at on the web but don’t know where to start.
I have been on a number of cruises and loved it. I understand that living on one is very different but would love to give it ago.
Thank you for your time.
All the best
PS Love the blog been following for ages now. Keeps making me laugh.

John Says:

Hello Jessica
Thank you so much for the kind words for Heidi and I and of course the Thingy. Congratulations on your dedicated work with children and thanks for asking about employment. Well, let’s start you off by looking at This great site has all the information on what life onboard is like, the job requirements and of course how to apply. There is a special section about Camp Carnival which is what you should investigate. Have a look and then if you have any further questions please let me know. I wish you much success and I am so glad the blog thingy makes you laugh

Linda Hernacki Asked:

John: You are very photogenic, plus we all LOVE you so that is why we all want photos with you. You are a Celebrity to us! Say, can you put a picture on the blog of that beautiful quilt you got on the bloggers cruise, a close up so we can all see it, with all the pictures, etc. Thanks! Well, in a week or two I will get a package off to you thru Chris Prideaux in Miami, as we discussed. Since you will be on the Valor I am sure he can get it to you. It is some things for the THINGY! I am sure Heidi is disappointed that Carnival will not be doing European cruises next year, so does that mean you will be a “CD” cruising the Caribbean? Do you have any idea what your schedule will be after the baby comes? Will you take a leave of absence for a while to BOND with the baby? Are you going home to the U.K. right after the Valor? Can you share the video Heidi did for the bloggers cruise, so we can all see it? PLEASE ANSWER ALL OF THE ABOVE JOHN in your replies to questions asked, ok? Do you have our address to send Mike the pins John?
Stephanie: Any leftover bloggers gifts? A select few of John’s Special friends would love the bobble head especially.

John Says:

Hello Linda
Let’s start with the request to put a photo of the quilt that was made for Heidi and I. I didn’t actually take a photo of it and its now on its way to the UK. Did anyone take one and if so can you send it to Stephanie so we can post it. I won’t embarrass the beautiful lady that spent weeks making it as I know she is very shy but it will be something we will treasure forever and I can never thank her enough. As for 2010, I actually don’t know my schedule. Yes, I was disappointed that we are not going to be in Europe and for many reasons one, of course, being able to be closer to Heidi. I could consider spending some time working on a Princess or P&O ship in Europe but I think you wouldn’t be too happy if I did that. So, what to do. well, I will assist where needed as far as my Brand Ambassador Role is concerned and then as far as being a CD……….well I hope I get to do that for as long as possible next year………….maybe on the Carnival Liberty and possibly covering for Todd on the Carnival Dream. At this point………..who knows?………but when I do Linda I will let you all know. I did get your address as well by the way.
It’s great to hear from you and I send my best to you both as always

Robert Reid Asked:

Hi John, sounds like the Blogger’s cruise was a success. Hopefully we’ll be able to join you next time. I have a question. We’ll be on the Conquest in 2 weeks (March 1 sailing). We have another great aft cabin (###). With the installation of the new TV over the pool on the Lido deck, do they allow requests for movies at night? We would like to see “Mama Mia” one night. Perhaps combine it with a FOD party. Who would I notify with such a request?
John Says:
Hello Robert:
The aft cabins on the Conquest class are some of my favorites and the views are everlasting. I checked with the ship and Mama Mia is not one of the current movies we are showing onboard. I would love to be able to say we can just put it on and take requests but those days are long gone. You see, every movie, every piece of music we play has to be legal. In other words we have to pay for the rights to do so and if we are caught playing a movie we don’t legally have the right to play ……… well ………… let’s just say the Carnival lawyers would be very busy. I can tell you that watching a movie under the stars is a great way to spend the evening and my current favorite to watch on the Carnival Conquest would be Made of Honor………because my mate Kevin is in it. Have a brilliant cruise and hopefully the next time we will have Mama Mia on the big screen. …………oh by the way, if you are truly disappointed that we won’t be playing it I can arrange for a crew member to stand close by you on deck and insert a cactus up a cat’s bottom………the sound the cat will produce is the same as Meryl Streep singing.

Uncle Doug Asked:

John please reply,
With the new US passport regulations going into effect on June 1, 2009 how will Carnival handle minor children under age 16 on travel by ship to US ports to the Caribbean.
According to the link provided on the Carnival web site to the US state department minor children under the age of 16 may still travel by ship with only a birth certificate.
I don’t want any surprises like being denied boarding when I show up with my two granddaughters for their June 1 cruise on the Holiday.
John Says:
Hello Uncle Doug
No surprises as Carnival’s website is correct at the time of writing this blog. If this changes I promise to tell you immediately.
Let me know if you need anything else mate

Jake Silverberg Asked:

Sorry I missed the bloggers cruise. Hope everyone had a fantastic time! The Sensation looks GREAT, I saw the Freedom today in Ft. Lauderdale.
I would love to use the pics on by blog.
Jake S.

John Says:
Jake – you take as many photos as you want mate and use them on your blog. We would be proud if you did. Your blog looks awesome mate.
Keep up the great work

Mary Pons-Perez Asked:

Hello John: I apologize for calling you today at the hotel, even my son stated “how could you even do that!” It seemed as if I was stalking you, but I felt really bad for you, being away from home and coming down with a cold. I made you some homemade chicken soup for your cold, waited for your call, but I guess you were working late. Hope you are feeling better. Let me tell you I went today to the Dolphin mall, it was really busy not even a place to park so I guess you were better off not going. If you still feel bad please do not hesitate to call us. You probably don’t remember me, but I’m sure you remember my husband Moe (Moises) Perez, because you told him he was the first air traffic controller you have ever met.
Say hello to Heidi for us. Hope you feel better.
Besos, Mary and Moe.

John Says:

Hello Mary
Please don’t apologize. You can call me as many times as you like and if I am going to be stalked I want it to be by you. I tried calling you back but I must have written the phone number down wrong and I was truly hoping you would call me back as I really wanted some of your chicken soup. I remember Moe like it was yesterday and I hope one day we can all have chicken soup together. Thank you so much for your kindness; you are a very special lady.
My best to you both

Carole Mace Asked:

I have a question we did 15 cruises so far with carnival and we are planning one day to do a world cruise but we never took Cunard cruise lines does pass guest counts as a carnival cruiser?
Or do we have to cruise on Cunard to qualify as a pass guest before we book our world cruise to get a better deal.

Thanks Carole Mace

John Says:

Hello Carole
Wow, 15 Carnival cruises, let’s start by saying thank you so much for your loyalty. And now it seems you are ready for the most amazing cruise voyage possible………..a World Cruise. Well, unfortunately even though Cunard are part of the Carnival family our loyalty programs are very different and therefore are not interchangeable. Please though don’t let that stop you taking this once in a lifetime voyage. If you would like more information on current rates and details of the ships would you let me know and I will have a mate from Cunard send you the details or call you for a chat. Let me know and I remain at your service
Kind Regards

Jill B Asked:

In looking over the cruise director’s schedule I have a question, why does it appear to be such a male dominated career- or does Carnival just prefer men in that position?

John Says:

Hello Jill
Good Question. The answer is that as in most walks of life the man is better than the woman.

Seriously, it’s a great question and I can see that you are correct. Currently we have Risa Barnes, Jen Baxter and Tori Goodhew as our female CD’s. We also had Shawn Bussey who just retired and is due in May to give birth to her first child. There really is no reason why we have more men than women. The men seem to stay longer in the position of assistant cruise director but when we have a great lady ACD then indeed we want to get them into the CD spot as soon as possible.
Curious………..are you interested in being a CD yourself Jill? If you are, please let me know. Let’s hope that we get more ladies in the role soon.
Thanks for the great question

mickeyspal Asked:

Hi, John,
I found a Greg Saunders, planning manager (or some such) employed at the following:

Couldn’t find a bio or pic, but wondered if, given the cruise factor and the British locale (you didn’t mention your friend’s nationality) this might be he. Just curious.
Your Pal,

John Says:

Hello Myra
Wow…… are a great detective. Thanks for this. I hope it’s Greg and I will be calling tomorrow to see if it is. It would be great to get back in touch with him especially as he owes me money. Seriously, thanks mate. You couldn’t find a girl I went to school with could you? Her name was Alison………..can’t remember her last name but she a pair of humongous………….ummm……………..never mind.
I will let you know what happens.

Bill Heck Asked:

John Please Reply
My wife Marjorie and I are not aligned with any of the three-blogger subsets, I am just a blogger and a Heald fan, we had a great time. The groups had some functions, and that is great, good for them, I had plenty to do and plenty of refreshments.
Between the drinks Carnival served at the various parties and the wine package I bought we were in good spirits. This was the most function packed cruise I have been on and it was great.
I might apply for the Evil Krewe for blogger 4 in December. I think Ed said he was going on this one.
The dining room seating was in a state of flux, as Rodney reports. Didn’t bother me, we sat at four different tables, three of the tables I now realize were for the blogger subsets, but it didn’t mean I didn’t sit there. I wondered what the message was on top of the table placard, cruise mates, and another night there was a sign on the table of some kind, but we used it for a placemat for our wine bottle. One woman we started to sit with got a little cranky. Now, I figure it was because of the subset issue. We found another assigned table, sat there anyway and ate with two couples that were from another subset than what the table was labeled for that we had met earlier. Cindy from PA. You know, this gives me a headache.
We did meet different folks at the dinners and enjoyed the time comparing life experiences and of course Carnival experiences. I like to find out what others did during the day in case we are missing some good fun and we enjoyed the freestyle blogger seating.
By now you have figured out my opinion that the table assignments are not a big deal. Your initial decision to make the blogger tables freestyle is the true course. You know, on a cruise we never want to hear the word no. So, “no you can’t sit there” rubs some folks the wrong way. Like Rodney.
I missed the woman showing off her hooters, and she dropped her panties as well? LOL Amazing.
We are John Heald Bloggers at dinner.
All for fun, Fun for all.
By the way, the photo of two big smiling men and one little woman looks good in the mouse pad. Thanks.
Whatever you decide for the next Bloggers Cruise will be fine with me. As long as you don’t require ID. Just think how many tables we could sit at on a nine day. What do you think?
Bill Heck

John Says:

Hello Bill
Your e-mail is the perfect way to round of today’s set of questions and comments. I will have to rethink the dining situation for the next Bloggers Cruises but knowing you had a great time is music to my ears. I am surprised we both fitted into the frame. I know everyone will enjoy reading your fantastic words and I hope that you do come and join me again in December on the Carnival Dream. I would love to introduce you to the Thingy.
Cheers mate

That’s all for today. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you by marking your comments John, Please Reply.

Here’s is the latest news from the good ship Carnival Splendor

February 18, 2009

Dear John,

Of all of the new and exciting ports we have visited thus far, Buenos Aires most definitely ranks above all others. The city is so elegant; it has a very European atmosphere. A feeling of passion permeates throughout the Argentinean air. Having an overnight in this town is the perfect completion to the end of our first leg of the South America Itinerary.

In the evening of this overnight, I discovered that my friend Vivian, who is our Cruise Loyalty Expert on board, had previously visited the city many times and was kind enough to escort myself and some friendly guests to Cabana Las Lilas: the “Best Argentinean Steakhouse!” Apparently, the best meat in the world comes from Argentina, and we were in the best steakhouse, so I think that means that I can now consider myself a meat connoisseur; my vegetarian mother would be so proud!

On the way to the restaurant, we passed by the President’s house, the Opera house, and Evita’s beautiful pink palace! By having an experienced traveling buddy, we were getting the city tour along with transportation to the restaurant.

After dinner which was nothing short of incredible, those of us in the party that wanted to take advantage of the lack of a back on board time had plans to visit the “best Argentinean Dance club” – Pasha. The restaurant host helped us to communicate with our taxi driver who spoke no English. Until this point, I have only needed to know El Barco (the ship), and I have always gotten home safe. Unfortunately, the club was closed this evening since it was Tuesday night. Eventually the host and the driver decided upon a venue for us to enjoy our only night in Buenos Aires… we ended up at a complete dive bar! Even though none of the employees spoke English, they did understand “Bacardi and coca-light” so I was happy!

We walked inside and there were three musicians: a keyboard player, a bass player and a guitarist, there were two different singers (who sounded great, but I couldn’t understand a word they said), and an extremely sensual couple who were magnificent tango dancers. I loved it. There is no other way to describe this performance besides absolutely stunning. Part of their routine was getting the crowd to join in the dancing, so I had the opportunity to dance with the male performer on three separate occasions.

I was terrible… but it is on tape and I am sure VH1’s Before They Were Famous will eventually be paying millions for that footage! Now usually when exploring these exotic ports of call, one of the crewmembers I am with will speak the local language, since neither Micky, Becca or I knew much Spanish we were significantly overcharged, but we still had am amazing time.

The next morning the team of tourists and our guide Vivian awoke early at the crack on 9:30 am in search of visiting Recoleta, the graveyard where Evita was buried. This necropolis where the remains of the Duarte family exist were the most elaborate, detailed gravesites I have ever laid eyes upon. After visiting St. Paul de Vance during out Baltic run, I thought I had seen an intricate burial ground. But the artistry and dedication to make any of these tributes to the dead were not only respectful but also beautiful pieces of artwork. Within the cemetery lies not only important political figures, but also priests, doctors, and artists. After visiting the work of art/cemetery, exploring the nearby church, and purchasing souvenirs at the ever so historically significant Hard Rock Café, we continued out sightseer mission to an area called La Boca – where tango was born!

La Boca was amazing, tons of tango dancers performing at the restaurants lining the streets. Delicious, fresh, colorful food was everywhere, and the buildings were all painted with contrasting bright colors! If you know Hiya James, he would have been in heaven. On this trip, I have no excuse not to bring my friends and family souvenirs because since we are ending up in Long Beach, I will not have to worry about packing and paying overages on my luggage. The gift purchasing extravaganza has commenced.

John will be happy to know that in a search for love, I now have three future ex-boyfriends in Argentina!

I loved this city; I wish we could stay there longer. I can’t wait to return! Between the rich tango culture, the amazing food, and the attractive Latin American population – I would consider moving here… if I could only speak the language!

Montevideo, Uruguay is next on the list for our ports of call.

The Graveyard in Recoleta

Tango Dancers on La Boca Street

La Boca Street

More from me soon!
=) Jaime

Thanks again Jaime. I know the sea days are very busy for you so please take a day or two off when you need to. However, your blogs are becoming an important part of everyone’s day and despite the fact that you are spending your day looking for a man or men……….we are all glad you continue to write to us.

Well, here we are in Belize. All the ships that visit here are at anchor and the tender ride to the city is takes about 20 minutes. I will be changing the tender process next time. I am only doing this to try and provide a smoother transition from ship to shore and much of what I will be doing will be based on my European experiences of transiting so many guests on tenders as we did in Cannes. The guests seem very excited about this port as they explore the Mayan ruins, the jungles where the British Special Forces (The SAS) carry out their intensive jungle training.

The snorkeling here is I am told fantastic especially at Goffs Quay which is one of our top three selling tours here. The other is the incomparable Bannister Island, a private island tour. Now sometimes when you are told you are visiting a private island you have visions of total seclusion and acres of sand for just you and your partner or partners. However when you get there it’s as private as Paris Hilton’s sex life.

Not so at Bannister. It is really private and I will make sure I include photos next visit. The most popular tour here is the Altenharr Mayan Ruins combined with a cruise spotting wildlife along the stunning River Wallace. Now, this believe it or not is only my third visit to Belize. I was on the Carnival Glory for a short while when she started her calls here and on the third trip Heidi and I had to disembark here in Belize to fly home following the tragedy of her father passing away. So, next call I have arranged a trip to all the popular destinations here and will report back then.

The sun is shining again and so far it’s been a perfect cruise weather-wise…..let’s hope next week will be the same and Murphy does not decide to pay me a visit.

I want to talk to you now about Tupperware………yep………Tupperware. The reason Tupperware was probably so famous is the fascinating social phenomenon that was the Tupperware party. These days, such events have an ironic retro-appeal. They remind us of more innocent times when plastic containers, not lingerie, were the only objects passed round at suburban parties.

Nowadays it seems to have fallen into obscurity and for some people the thought of hosting a suburban neighborhood party is as painful as a bikini wax. Many of us agree with Robert Frost, “good fences make good neighbors,” and a thick leylandii hedge is better still.

We imagine smaller rural communities to be closer-knit, but even here the opportunities to know the neighbors are steadily eroding, as small local churches and the social club disappear. The front garden is more likely to be a car parking spot than a meeting place. The local store has gone the way of a strip mall and it’s illegal to talk to anyone in a Starbucks. On average, people travel three and half miles to buy groceries, and 45 minutes to get to work.

However………..the idea of inviting the neighbors, family and friends over for a night of social fun that doesn’t involve throwing your keys into the middle of the table and hoping you don’t get the man with the comb-over and the Gladiator fetish should be something we all should embrace.

And now we have the perfect reason for you to invite family, friends and even the people you usually just say “Good Morning” over to your house. I am proud to provide you, my blogging friends, with a special preview of this brilliant Jim Berra-inspired event. The actual sign up for these evenings of fun begin tomorrow but here’s a sneak peek just for you:


WHEN: MARCH 29, 2009

We’re calling it Carnival Sunday Fun Day. Think all the fun of a Carnival cruise. Only the whole thing is packed into one afternoon. (And … it’s in your living room.)

We’re teaming up with the party planning geniuses at House Party to make it all happen. Basically they supply the Web site for inviting guests and making it easy … and we supply a big box full of Carnival fun – decorations, karaoke, games, gifts, the works. All you have to do is round up your family and friends and get ready for some fun. Sound good? Good. It’s a limited event, so apply soon to grab a slot as an honorary Fun Director. The link to apply will be posted tomorrow, February 20. Hope to see you there.

How about that?……..Anyone interested?….Anyone fancy hosting a Carnival Cruise Lines Party at your house featuring the spoon game, a “Fun Kit” full of goodies to recreate the fun of a Carnival Cruise in your home, and, of course, the chocolate melting cake, all of which should make you the most popular neighbor on the street.

You know when I heard that Carnival was looking for volunteers to apply to host these parties, I knew the first place we should look to was the blog thingy. Why? Well, you all love the fun Carnival provides. You are all exactly what Carnival guests embody. Fun, spirited people who love life and have hearts as big as the Carnival Dream. That’s what makes you so special and that’s why I hope as many of you as possible will open up your front doors , invite your neighbors, friends and family over and provide an evening of Fun For All And All For Fun.

I may even come to a few of the parties myself

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.