Please Welcome to the Stage

February 23, 2009 -

John Heald

I opened my gift from Heidi this morning that was labeled “for your first day as CD on the Carnival Valor.” I opened it and inside the careful wrapping I found a book called A Loo with A View.The note inside the cover was even better, it read “This is to prove you can do two things at the same time……….poo and read.”………………..charming.

Whatever, A Loo With A View is a splendid little book, featuring toilets around the world that are blessed with spectacular outlooks, from the top of the Alcatraz guard tower overlooking San Francisco Bay, to a bamboo hut said to be the best place to enjoy the sunrise over Mount Sinai. It’s nice to think that there might still be tablets at the top of Mount Sinai, albeit bearing the words “Thou Shalt Wash Thy Hands,” rather than the Ten Commandments.

The author Mr. Barclay states he has not visited each of the 40 panoramic loos pictured in the book, but he’s been to quite a few of them, and suggests in his introduction that it’s a miracle he hasn’t ended up in prison, considering how much loitering he’s done in and around toilets wielding a camera. Even if that had happened, however, my friend Danny took his daughter who was only a few weeks old in her car seat into a cubicle at a freeway rest stop or service station as they are known in the UK. She was fast asleep, but as he sat there, gazing lovingly at her, she began to open her eyes. “Hello little sausage, have you woken up?” he cooed, and only later realized why when he left the cubicle that others in the toilet gave him a very wide berth……a man who talks to his poo … run away!

So, here I am having been a CD now for 24 hours. I always new in the back of my mind that Murphy would in some way shape or form pay me a visit. And indeed he did as you will see from the guest breakdown.

From: VALOR GUEST SERVICES MANAGER

Sent: Sunday, February 22, 2009 9:24 AM

To: Heald, John (CCL)

Subject: International counts

Inder Jolly | Guest Services Manager

TOTAL GUESTS 3,131

NON-US OR CANADIAN

French 98

Spanish 25

Italian 09

German 73

Dutch 09

Portuguese 05

Yep, the largest group onboard……..is from France. Never before has the ship had so many people from France. Don’t worry. I shall be nice. I shall not lower the tone on stage or in this blog. I shall not mention that it was a French person who first took an oyster, cracked one open, peered at the snot inside and thought: “Mmm. I’m going to put that in my mouth.” And I shall recall the e-mail I sent to housekeeping suggesting they remove the soap from the cabins……nope it’s La Fun 4 Tout Le Monde et Tout Le Monde 4 La Fun.

And we have 73 Germans as well. I like the Germans very much. They say they’re very quiet. Well yes, they would be. They have to stay sober and be in bed by nine, because as we know, they do like to get up early …….sorry…………….that was a cheap shot at the German pastime of getting up early to save the sun beds. It’s often said that the Germans don’t have a sense of humor, but look at it this way. They may laugh at desperately unfunny stuff such as Benny Hill and Are You Being Served? but who made it in the first place…….the Brits? Then we have music. Quite apart from Haydn, Handel, Brahms, Beethoven and Bach, can you think of a better pop tune than Nena’s 99 Red Balloons?

And so not unlike the European seasons on Carnival Freedom and Carnival Splendor I start my week off with an international cruise.

Back soon ……………after Jaime.

February 22, 2009

Dear John,

As you may have seen from Claire’s pictures the other day, we recently visited the unique and invigorating port of Puerto Madryn, Argentina. This location is the home to more than 500,000 penguins. Unlike penguins in my hometown – which live at the Detroit Zoo — they survive in the warm weather! In order to visit the habitat of these fluffy featherless friends, both guests and crew had to travel on a two hour bus ride. From what I understand this trek was well worth it. Visitors had the opportunity to see not only penguins, but sea lions, tigers and bears as well. You may not know about these aforementioned creatures, but there are some pretty exotic creatures in South America and you are probably still a pollywog! ::wink::.

Personally, I was helping in assisting the guests to disembark the ship onto their complimentary shuttle into the town of Puerto Madryn. This is nice downtown area with many goods available for purchase. The locals sold their leather goods, their crafts and their second hand jewelry, all for excellent prices. My friend was able to purchase a string of double pearls for only $20! She said that made the trip worth it within itself.

This day had absolutely perfect weather; 75 and sunny with a slight breeze! Those guests that chose not to go onto dry land and enjoy the port had the opportunity to observe the family of sea lions that made a home out of the water and port area directly behind the ship. I was kind enough not to inform these guests that told me about the sea lions that Carnival did actually pay these sea lions to welcome our ship to the city of Puerto Madryn. I am only kidding… it was quite a treat to see!

Another new port and our cruise director Goose had another plaque ceremony. All of the officials and port agents from the city come on board and welcome the ship and we thank them for their services and look forward to our future working relationship together (which may or may not continue depending upon weather or not Carnival revisits this itinerary… I really hope they do!!!) Thank goodness for Goose who speaks Spanish, or else the plaque ceremony wouldn’t be nearly as sentimental, it would simply be… quiet.

Later in the evening once the guests returned to the ship we had a high energy theme party out on the Lido deck. For me, these have been a huge component to the highlights of our on board activities. This evening we had our Rock Around the Horn party! The entertainment department staff dressed up in poodle skirts, jeans (which is such a privilege to wear in guest areas) and other Grease-like attire to celebrate our quick approach to the horn. We also had a genuine, authentic, imitation, ELVIS that happened to be traveling as a guest and volunteered to dress up in his impersonator attire and perform for all to see. I think I found love, he gave me his scarf… to bad he is 70 years old…. Ehh I may have to settle for a sugar daddy!

Tomorrow is the official day that we are at the southernmost tip of South America. Our naturalist on board, Dirk, is going to narrate exactly what we are observing as we make our way around the horn. Captain Pagano has agreed to circle the area where there is the most to see. Now, these waters that we are currently floating in are rumored to be the rockiest in the entire world – where the Pacific and Atlantic oceans meet. I do not want to curse us, but so far it has been smooth sailing! My television, iPod player, laptop and expensive glassware that I keep on the edge of the shelf have all managed to remain intact.

On board I am on a search not only for love, but also Mr. Bill!! I did see him the first day but I think he has disappeared since then because I have been trying to find him to take a photo with the bobble head. Tomorrow night, I will be joining our blog friends Cheryl and Debbie at the Pinnacle Supper Club after visiting Ushuaia. I am very much looking forward to sharing with you the next port of call and all of the wonderful plans on board Splendor.

punta_tombo0235

The Punta Tombo Penguins Courtesy of our Friendly Musician Bryce!

punta_tombo0139

The Penguins Found Love, Why Can’t I!!?!

picture-6

Your Entertainment Team at the Rock Around the Horn Party!

It is great to be a part of the blogging family!

=) Take Care,

Jaime

Thanks Jaime. I think you need to write a Dear John letter about your love life and your expectations of what Mr. Right looks like…………..maybe there is a blogger out there who fits the bill!

Jaime’s writing keeps getting better and better doesn’t it and we continue to owe her a debt of gratitude for keeping us informed about what’s happening on the Carnival Splendor ………. by the way, for more amazing photos of the ship and the ports have a look at www.zydecocruiser.com and my mate Bill’s brilliant photography.

It’s like riding a bike which because we were so poor when I was young mine had no saddle which explains my high voice and maybe why I have had hemorrhoids since I was 12… ………Anyway, being a cruise director is like riding a bike, you never forget how and I have just finished the boat drill which I did without notes and I am proud to say I did without tripping over my tongue or making any mistakes.

Today’s boat drills are a lot different. They don’t just include information on how to save your life when god forbid the ship ever got into trouble but now contains lots of other safety information. This includes informing guests about environmental procedures, taking care when walking around a moving ship and much, much more. It always infuriates me when after making announcements that the drill is mandatory that when I look down from the bridge I always see one or two people who are sitting on their balconies with a pina margarita thingy and a couldn’t-care-less attitude.

We then send the stateroom steward or in some cases security to inform the guests that they must attend. You have no idea how many give the staff a hard time and today was no exception. Two guests who said they were police officers from Virginia refused to go saying that they were professionals. When the security informed them politely that maritime law stated they must attend the drill they became belligerent and cursed up a storm. As this story was explained to me by the ship’s command I couldn’t help thinking that if anyone needed obey the rules it should be the fine men and women of law enforcement. I also couldn’t help thinking of a Fawlty Towers episode starring John Cleese as the incomparably rude hotelier who when conducting a fire drill at his hotel he uttered those immortal words “I don’t know why we bother……..we should let you all burn.”

Anyway, after a lot of fuss and a lot of swearing Officers Rude and Obnoxious finally attended the drill.

And then off we went heading for the Carnival Valor’s last Eastern Caribbean cruise to Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. From next week the ship will concentrate on her exotic Western itinerary so I will do my best to make this a last Eastern cruise to remember. Oh, yes, joining us this cruise is an old fried and godfather of comedy Mr. Eddie Capone. He is a very funny man and I know many of you have enjoyed his shows and this cruise he will be performing two late-night comedy shows.

Do you remember how we used to do just one late night comedy show in the main theater at midnight? Well now we have our adult-rated comedy shows performed twice in the ships’ aft lounges. These are usually at 10:45 pm and at midnight. The aft lounges allow for a comedy club feel and bring the entertainer up close and personal. Eddie and I have been friends for many years as you will see from this photo taken in 1993 in our favorite cigar shop in Ocho Rios, Jamaica when we worked on the Carnival Ecstasy together.

Have a look at this.

eddie-jh

Oh, how young I was. Did you see my hat? It was made for me by my friend Mrs. Bentley and I still have it at home but Heidi refuses to let me wear it these days.

Anyway, its time to get ready for the show. I decided not to live in the CD cabin. David will be CD again in three weeks and I didn’t feel it was fare to up root him and have him pack 11 months of stuff up just for a few weeks…………I also didn’t want to live there because David’s feet smell like an rotten piece of fish covered in mature cheddar that has been festering inside Dwyane Wade’s jockstrap…………kidding.

Oh, by the way, David did a wonderful job as CD and I am sure he will continue to grow from strength to strength as he begins this fabulous journey. Anyway, I had to wait until after sailing to see if there was an empty cabin and luckily there was so I am in a deck 2 inside aft cabin again but its home and doesn’t smell like Paris.

This does mean that I have to walk to the CD office 10 times a day which is on deck 5 forward but it keeps me fit. I am off now to give my 7:30 pm between dinner sitting announcement about what’s happening onboard. Then its time for a quick dinner onboard (forgot to take my diabetic pill at lunchtime……bugger) and then a shower and prepare for my return to stage which I will tell you all about after the show.

Back soon.

OK, I’m back. Well, I will tell you about the show shortly but first let me tell you what I did wrong today. I was told of my first mistake by a behind-the-scenes manager from another department. I have known this person for some time and honestly he is a pain in the jacksie (www.urbandictionary.com). He or she had made the effort to watch the show and then took great pleasure in coming backstage afterwards and before saying good show or well done or I am sorry that I am one of the most boring people on the earth and I will now do the world a favor and weld my lips together and then blow torch my own nipples off….he said “John, you called the guest services desk the pursers office and they are not called that any more.”

Well, my first reaction was to use my microphone and batter him over the head but instead I swallowed and told him how grateful I was for letting me know. He was right of course. I had said during the show that guests could drop off their Dear John letters of dedication off at the “pursers office” which while I was home in the UK has become the guest services desk……….my mistake, my fault.

This person lives for stuff like this, though. He loves finding the small nit-picking things that are wrong instead of the big things. If he was a security guard at the airport he would be searching a Harry Potter look alike kid but ignore the passenger sweating profusely with wires poking out of his shoes.

So…………was I funny tonight? Well, that’s not for me to say. Jokes are public property. I say this because I have watched two great cruise directors recently in Big Tex and Medium David and both have used some or lots of my jokes, catchphrase and innuendos. Now, they are not the only ones and for many years this used to bother me because it takes me about one year to think of a funny line and when I used to hear others do it I would get very upset. However, in recent years I have accepted that there is nothing that can be done about it…….that’s life. I myself have “borrowed “material if the situation has needed it.

After all, copycat comedy is even more common than plagiarism in literature and music, yet few lawyers ever got rich from stolen jokes, as many have from stolen books and melodies. In October 2007, the American comedian Jerry Seinfeld stood up for his wife, Jessica, when she was accused of ripping off someone else’s recipes in her bestselling cookery book. But he more than most should have understood the complainant’s frustration, since in a roomful of comedians you will find more thieves than Ali Baba ever had.

Yet the problem for comedians is that once a joke is uttered on stage, it becomes public property. Tom tells it, Dick hears it, and by the time it reaches Harry, nobody associates it with Tom. The best Tom can hope for is that Harry murders it. Because if anything causes a sense-of-humor failure in a comedian, it’s hearing his original gag improved by somebody else. So with this in mind I was determined to try new material which I did and most of it went really well. However, I also went back to some old favorites and that was because…………..sssshhhhh…………….don’t tell anyone…………….I was a, little nervous.

Why?

Well, I guess because I had not performed for so long and also because expectations of me from the crew were so high. Anyway, I walked out onstage feeling a little bit unsure of myself but after a few minutes I was back in the flow and I am proud to say that most people laughed out loud.

Now, that wasn’t because of me but because of the characters I had on stage. Let me tell you about them.

1st_guest_01

Meet Kea. That’s her name although she is now known as something different. When I had fun with her she left so hard she had to wipe tears from her eyes………..I noticed this and therefore called her……..Eye Kea……….I also made mention that she wasn’t flat packed ….which earned me a big laugh from the audience a slap for Eye Kea.

Now, she is sailing with her husband of eight years whose name is Evan. However we have yet to meet him because she had lost him an hour before the show and even though we sent the staff to look in the casino and bars we never did find him. The guests are now all saying “Where’s Evan?”

1st_guest_02

Say “ola” to Hugo from Venezuela who is traveling with his fiancée Solita. They are getting married on Wednesday in St. Thomas and are here with all their family. Hugo made us all laugh when he said that he had accidentally booked a cabin that was right next door to his mother and father …………poor sod. I invited his parents out for a drink after the show and when I asked Hugo how long I should keep them away from the cabin for he replied “three hours”……….show off!……..yes Heidi………three hours ….. no Heidi ……………..not three minutes……………bugger.

2nd_guest_01

2nd_guest_02

This is Dawn whose husband Ron will be expressing his love publicly all cruise long. This is because he is as romantic as a slug according to his wife and out of the 23 years they have been manacled together he has managed just one as a romantic. So, every time I mention where he is from, Ron must run onto the stage and jump up and down three times, do the Mexican hat dance and express his love to his wife. He did it brilliantly last night…..have a look at these:

3rd_guest_01

3rd_guest_03

jumper_01

jumper_02

jumper_03

jumper_04

jumper_05

Here’ a man who, like me, enjoys a good prime rib dinner. And nobody gets fresher meet than “Big Jim” as he is a cattle farmer from Wisconsin. You can imagine the fun we both had with that especially as he said that being British I was infected with Mad Cow. On a more serious note he proclaimed his love for his wife Monica who had nursed him through a heart bypass operation. A great guy who became an immediate favorite with the audience.

4th_guest_01

4th_guest_02

This is Patricia who is from Ottawa. She is also a newlywed having been married to Andre for just two months. They met on a cruise. I asked her what ship and she said without thinking “The Brilliance of the Seas”…………I told her off for swearing on the stage and that there were kids present. I then put her in the corner……..yes I really did ……..in the corner of the stage where she stood with her back to the audience for three minutes. She then came out of the naughty corner and apologized to the audience …………. she was priceless and I sent her a Carnival shirt this morning from the gift shop for being such a great sport.

5th_guest_01

Here is Spencer, age five. He has a treasure coin which I gave him on stage (a Carnival medallion) which I said came from a sunken treasure ship found in………China. Anyway, last night he placed the medallion (treasure coin) under his pillow because I told him if he did magic would happen………..and when he woke up this morning……………he would find $20 there. If he didn’t…………it meant his Mummy and daddy didn’t love him …. he was a cute as cute can be and soon I hope to have one just like him.

spencer_02

spencer_03

Anyway, it’s 1:43 am and I am very tired so if it’s OK with you I will go to bed now and write more in the morning.

Good morning everyone. It’s 7:45 am and we just docked in Nassau, Bahamas. The sun is already out and at 8:30 am I will be making a PA announcement telling the guests where the gangway is. Its always hard going straight from embarkation to a day in port with no sea day in between to get the what’s, where’s and why’s to the guests. So, I will make a brief announcement this morning and hopefully not disturb too many people……….OK, time to call Heidi and then shower and change and yes………….the last few sentences have been written naked…………..be right back.

It’s been a very bust morning. We had a burst pipe in a guest cabin, a lost child and we set up the laser tag arena in the main lounge. I thought you might like to see some photos taken by our Youth Programming Supervisor Kristi Ainsworth from Canada who is used to shooting moose and bears ………she is now a capable hand with a laser gun.

Have a look at these.

dsc00216

dsc00217

dsc00236

dsc00237

dsc00247

dsc00261

Laser tag will eventually be placed on as many ships in the fleet as possible. It will be for adults and kids alike and there will be a small charge of $5 to take part. We have our first session with the guests later today and I will let you know how it goes…….I have a feeling its going to be very, very popular.

Tonight I have the elegant night events, which means I have to dress up like a waiter and find someone to help me with my bow tie………….Heeeeeeiiiiiidddddddiiiiiiiii.

OK, we sailed away from Nassau and I am just getting ready for Elegant Night.

However, just before I press send I want to give you this late breaking news from the incident report.

Guest: Mrs. ___________- Ref: _________ Cabin: ______ Booking#: _______

Added-Changed: 02/22/09 – 02/22/09

Unhappy with hair braiding

Guest stopped by wanting to speak to the cruise director or the Captain. She had her hair braided ashore in Nassau this morning and has now discovered she has things (insects) living in her hair. Guest was upset that the cruise director did not warn the guests about the dangers of doing this as she knows that’s why her head is itching. GSO explained that she would pass this information to the cruise director and suggested she go and see the infirmary for medication. Guest refused. GSO called House keeping to pay extra attention when cleaning the cabin. Follow up to come and e-mail sent to John.

This is a new one on me. Having your hair braided used to be the law in the Bahamas and these days it still is except it is a little more regulated than the free for all of a few years ago. The ladies I guess use the same brush and comb and braiding thingy to decorate hundreds of heads so its no surprise that this poor lady is itching and has Frank the Flea and his mates living it up on her head and now they get to go on a cruise. Anyway, I have just called the guest and persuaded her to go to the infirmary and get some cream. She has gone now but insists that she not be charged……I said I was itching to help her ……. she didn’t laugh.

I loved being back on stage. I feel like it’s I was meant to do and it’s great to be back. I will return tomorrow with more stories and photos and I will find time to answer some of your questions.

OK, got to go and have a shower. There’s just one problem…………the cabin steward must think I am French………………..there’s no soap in the cabin…………….Le Bugger.

Bonsoir

Your friends

John, Heidi and Le or La 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.