Big Screen Bullies

February 25, 2009 -

John Heald

Our crew is amazing and as I have mentioned time and time again that whereas in other areas of the service industry standards are falling quicker than Andrew Dice Clay’s career did, Carnival’s service continues to shine.

However, in every barrel of apples there is one that is going to be bad and yesterday I came across one.

I was walking through a guest area when I heard shouting coming from way ahead of me. As I approached I saw a junior manager giving a crew member quite a bollocking. He towered above the young Indonesian man and as he screamed his finger was prodding him in the chest. …………….and this was in a guest area.

And so I intervened telling the manager to come and have a chat with me. I don’t really think he wanted to but he came never the less and we sat and talked in a crew area about what had happened. Now, I won’t go into why he was shouting at one of his team but I did tell him in no uncertain terms that he should A) never shout at anyone like that and that he would never gain respect as a manager if he did so…………..and B) If I ever heard him doing so in a guest area again there would be serious consequences.

Now, I would have been happy to leave it like that but his attitude was so flippant and obtuse that I decided to report the situation to his department head. When I did it came as no surprise because this was apparently not the first time this had happened and that this junior manager had a reputation of being a bully.

I hate bullying although there needs to be a clear understanding between teasing and bullying. Teasing for instance would be putting some itching powder in Tom Cruise’s underwear. And nothing would give me more pleasure than spending an hour or so flicking Gordon Brown’s ears.

Sure, it has its bad sides, of course — nobody likes to think that someone will draw a huge penis on their children’s homework — but there are upsides as well. Like if you’ve spent all day with your head in a toilet you don’t need to wash your hair that night. And you will be a better, sharper, cleverer person.

This means we can wave goodbye to the socially important pursuit of teasing. I tease people for being too short. I tease people for climbing a wall. And in return people tease me for looking like I have a beach ball down my shirt and a tooth that looks like its been given the good news with a baseball bat. I’m 44, for heaven’s sake, and I still find another man’s new haircut funny. So I’ll spend the day ribbing him about it.

Teasing is a good thing. It sharpens the mind and punctures the ego. Teasing, at its best, is faster than Chinese ping-pong and funnier than a really good skiing crash. Teasing is what separates us from the beasts. You never, for instance, see wildebeest laughing their heads off when one of their number falls in the river or gets eaten by a lion.

Well, I was bullied at school, mercilessly and endlessly for nearly two years. I had a fire extinguisher let off in my face. And I was thrown on a daily basis into the school’s unheated plunge pool.

I was punched, kicked and at one point had my hands superglued together.

I had to do something to make them stop. So I grew my hair very long, took up smoking and tried my hardest to make everyone laugh. It’s not easy when you’ve got a mouth full of dog poo, but eventually I succeeded and the bullying stopped.

I really, genuinely believe that were it not for the bullies I would now be a humorless nothing working in some godforsaken provincial town. Bullying, in other words, saved my life.

But neither I nor Carnival can tolerate bullying in the workplace. And so various steps have now been taken to make sure that this junior manager will not have the opportunity to be a bully onboard our ships ever again. He actually reminded me of one of the gang who used to bully me at school. His name was Shane Ibrahim, the lanky streak of piss. I would love to meet him today, gather all the people he used to bully at school, hold him down………strip him naked………..cover his arse in honey……..and then invite a big group of wasps and bees over for lunch.

On a happier subject, Heidi is doing well and tomorrow she will be off to the midwife thingy for a check up. Again, I feel so guilty about not being there to hold her hand and watch her later that night as she cooks me roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.

Time to answer some questions ……………here we go


Sharona Asked:

Hi John! Thanks for the info on the Early Saver booking. We actually used that promotion to book the Glory in October. Since we booked the cruise, I did see a better price with a $100 on-board credit. I filled out the form on the Carnival website, but haven’t heard anything. Do you have any suggestions, or have any idea how long it should take for someone to contact me? Thanks!

John Says:

Hello Sharona.
The Early Saver Booking has proven very popular, in fact I promoted it here yesterday and the desk has been very busy withy people taking the option. I also spoke about the Carnival Dream which the desk also handled a lot of inquiries about as well. Let me chase reservations up on this and I will make sure someone contacts you ASAP. If you have heard nothing within seven business days of me writing please let me know
Best Wishes
John

Michelle Asked:

John please reply
Hi John,
I have a little something for You, Heidi and Thingy. Would like to give this to you when you are in Miami and have a minute. Please let me know.
Tom & Michelle

John Says:

Hello Michelle
My days in Miami are all taken up with projects and meetings but I will be back in Miami in April so maybe we could meet up then. I am so humbled by your kindness and I will be in touch when I have some free time. I hope to see you soon
Best wishes
John

TJ Hadley Asked:

John,
Please Reply:
Hi. I discovered your blog while doing research for my up coming cruise. I read it on a whim and found myself laugh literally out loud while in public. I love the humor.
I am reading the blog from the beginning. I know, I know…but I’m a law student in my second semester of my third year (translate–I have a lot of time on my hands). In American law schools, the second semester of the third year results in a mentality similar to a high school senior…checked out and anticipating graduation. I continue to laugh out loud in public drawing all kinds of nasty looks from the unfortunate first and second years who are actually working.
I also have turned at least two of my friends on to the blog too. One I got started reading b/c she is cruising with me in March, Gineyda. We now communicate using your funny statements, of course taken out of context and use them as our status messages on G-chat.
That being said, I do still have to do work which requires me to write papers. I am wondering if I could interview/ask questions of some people about the public health policies on the ship. I cruise on the Carnival Liberty leaving March 7, 2009. I would love to talk to one of the nurses or doctors or whom ever is in charge of the public health inspections and maintenance.
I found Jamie’s letter fascinating today, especially given that I’m taking a global public health law class. Any help you can give me with this would be greatly appreciated. I love reading the Dear John letters. I almost feel like I’m there.
Also, in reading the archives I notice that you comment on public health/hand washing (even if some of the guest feels like you are treating them like 3 year olds). Could I email you some questions to get the “cruise director’s” perspective on public health on board?
Back to class…well, really reading old blog thingies.
Thanks,
TJ

John Says:

Hello TJ
First of all please study hard because I am sure somewhere down the line I am going to need a good lawyer………….preferably one who speaks French. Anyway, I would be glad to set something up so why don’t you work on the questions you want answered and I will forward them to someone senior to answer. I am truly honored that you have taken the time to read all the blogs and introduced others to it as well. Please pass my kind regards to Gineyda and maybe we will meet onboard soon…….or maybe you will be defending me in court
Write soon
Cheers mate
John

cruisinggrandma Asked:

Great blog John. I love the Caymans and swimming with the rays has to be the best. Sorry you feel so alone at the top. Just remember that all of us love you.
John please reply.
Do the Glory balcony rooms have refrigerators? 11 days and counting.
CarolAnn
Hello CarolAnn

John Says:

Hello Cruisinggrandma
Thank you so much for the kind words of love and support. I still have my sad days when I miss Heidi and her cooking so much. I also miss Mum and Dad and feel guilty in being so far away.
Anyway, to answer your question, yes, the rooms do have refrigerators which are stocked as mini bars. Do you need to store something there? Let me know if you need my help.
My best to you and the family
John

Trisha Asked:

Hi John
we are really excited about meeting you on the Valor on March 1st! Sorry you’re feeling lonely; we can help cheer you up when we’re there. You’re welcome to join our Cruise critic meet and greet on our first sea day!
I do have a question for you: Are the tenders still operating on a “sticker” system? Is it going to be difficult for us to get off early if we have a private excursion booked?
Thanks for any help you can give us! Hope you have a great week!

John Says:

Hello Trisha
All is ready for your arrival and I know you and your Cruise Critic friends will have a wonderful time. We do indeed operate a tender sticker system in Belize and in Grand Cayman. This assures a smooth transition ashore for everyone. I suggest you come to the lounge to be on the first tender sticker and I will make sure you will be off in time for your excursion.
See you soon and stand by for fun
Cheers
John

Kyle Asked:

John Please Reply,
My girlfriend and I will be sailing on the Valor on the first of March. I am planning on asking her to marry me on the cruise. Where and when would be the best and most romantic place, on the boat or otherwise, to ask her. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank You,
Kyle

John Says:

Hello Kyle
When you get onboard I need you to call 32650 and the young lady who answers (Stephanie) will put you in touch with me and we will arrange something special.
See you soon and don’t forget the ring
Cheers
John

Melissa Jurgensen Asked:

John respond.
John,
I know the answer is probably (hopefully) NO, but since that “other” cruise line with the rock walls has now made it a fleet-wide policy now that passengers have to pay for steak dinners in the main dining room, is Carnival going to start that practice eventually? Seems like one cruise line starts something they all follow suit.
My own personal opinion is that if I want to pay for a steak I’ll go to the ship’s alternative dining restaurant. I don’t support paying extra for anything in the main dining room. Period.
Next thing you know RCL will start charging people for use of the gangway if they want to go ashore. (Naturally I am sure use of the gangway will be free on SEA DAYS.)
Melissa
Anyway…. My best to you, Heidi and the Thingy!
Melissa

John Says:

Hello Melissa
You were correct as always Melissa. The answer is no. I am not aware of any plans to charge for a steak as they do on the Thesteakisntfree of the Seas. I agree with you that there should be no charges in the dining room. Thanks for mentioning this as I know it’s a hot topic with many guests. Finding a free steak on a ship is rare these days and you don’t need a medium to tell you that Carnival gets a well done from everyone when it comes to free steak………….OK, enough of the steak jokes.
My best to you and the family
John

Bill Todd Asked:

John please reply!
My wife and I are booked on the Carnival Pride for the Panama Canal tour 3/22/09 and are very excited about the trip. There are no excursions posted for Colombia and Costa Rica. We have inquired several times about the tours and received the same reply “Thank you for contacting Carnival Cruise Lines. We have received your e-mail message and appreciate the opportunity to be of assistance. Please accept our apologies for the delay in our response. Due to a technical problem with one of our servers, several thousand messages were not getting down loaded from carnival.com. The problem has since been corrected.
If this issue is still unresolved or has not been addressed, we would like to assist you immediately. Please contact one of our cruise consultants at 1-800-227-6482 and we would be happy to discuss your questions, comments and or concerns at this time.
We appreciate your patience and we look forward to hearing from you. Again we apologize for the delay.
Sincerely,
Carnival Cruise Lines”
Is there a problem with tours in these countries? Will there be tours? What is going on?
Can you help?
Thanks,
Bill Todd

John Says:

Hello Bill
Yes, I can help. In fact you and many others have asked about this. Please give me 48 hours and I will post some information on what tours are available. It sounds like its going to be a brilliant cruise and I wish I could be there with you. My apologies for the lack of information posted and I will post a list of our superb excursions very soon
Cheers
John

That’s all for today. I have another batch to answer at the end of the week. Please remember if you have anything you need please know I am here for you and just mark your comment for me to reply. It’s time to say thanks again to everyone who comments on the blog. I read each and everyone and they tell me that you appreciate the blog and that keeps me wanting to write to you as often as I can………..so thanks again.

Talking of girls who are looking for love……..well…..we weren’t actually talking about that ……………..but…………..here’s one anyway.

February 24, 2009

Dear John,

Today we visited the port that is rumored to be missed most often by cruise ships because of rough seas and bad weather conditions. At the very southernmost tip of South America today, we experienced just the opposite. The port of Ushuaia welcomed the Carnival Splendor to its beautiful shore with clear skies, a glistening sunshine and locals awaiting the arrival of tourists with open arms and eager pockets. The tour operators on the pier were ready to escort our guests and crew off to the most utterly beautiful sightseeing opportunities available in this phenomenal port of call.

Disembarking the ship led us to nothing short absolute beauty. The water near the pier was so still that you could see the reflection of the clouds within it. The temperature was not nearly as cold as I had anticipated. I was prepared for the worst; I had brought three sweatshirts and warm jeans and of course no gloves and wet hair! The extra layers of clothing were not needed today as the South American sun (which happens to be the same as the North American sun) was extremely calming and comfortable on this Ushuaian summer day.

As we were looking for which adventure to uncover, we had heard rumor that there were more families of penguins in this port, there was a train that takes visitors to the end of the world, but in the end we decided on visiting the gorgeous Trafalgar National Park and climbing a huge glacier which led to an absolutely stunning view of the entire city. The first taxi guide we met, Georgina spoke perfect English and was going to give an amazing tour of the city and explain the historically significant places that we were passing throughout our journey. Just before we got into the taxi, she pulled the old switcheroo and gave us an older male taxi driver, Pedro, who spoke no English. Luckily for us we had the talented and intelligent production singer (Ling-Ling) who secretly doubles as a translator. She was able to decipher most of what the driver was saying. She informed us that we were passing Glacier Maria and it was a very safe place for people to hike. For all I know he could have said “there are dangerous mountain lions here so be aware you will probably get eaten.”

Once we arrived at the park we saw beautiful mountains, and scenery. Some Carnival Splendor guests that were visiting the same location informed me that the sites we were observing were very similar to what it is like to cruise to Alaska. If the sites are that stunning, then let me just put my contract request in now to have to opportunity to see this wonderful scenery again.

After our visit to the national park, the eight of us on our discover Ushuaia team saw the enormous glacier that we were able to take a chair lift ride to the “top” of. Once I scared my dear friend by shaking the chair lift against the advice of the precautionary signs and we reached the end of this ride, there was an opportunity to climb even further up into the clouds all the way to the actual top of this massive glacier. Even though our taxi driver was scheduled to meet us in only 40 short minutes we decided we would find an alternative way back to the ship and make the hour and a half trek through the sharp steep rocks and breathe the clearest air I have ever consumed. I will not mislead you; it was a very difficult climb. But once we made our way to the top and could see the entire city of Ushuaia with the Carnival Splendor docked at the pier it makes a person appreciate life even more. My Sea Miles friend Ginell who comes all the way from the Philippines had never seen snow before. We videotaped him touching it for the first time. His face lit up as he smiled and laugh as a man in his mid 20s he was able to enjoy his very first encounter with snow. Luckily for him, it was just a small patch and it was a warm day. Even though he is forced to be away from his girlfriend who is currently on the Carnival Spirit, these life-altering experiences make this itinerary so incredibly worthwhile.

The pictures can not even begin to describe how absolutely beautiful the view was from the top of the glacier. We had an amazing day and a hard climb, but each of these adventures makes me love life a bit more… even though right now my calves may not agree.

Back on board later in the evening, I had the wonderful opportunity of joining Cheryl and Debbie for the special menu seafood night in the Pinnacle Supper Club. It was a terrific ending to the day. After dinner, our guests had a nice evening of dining and dancing with a “Fire and Ice” get together on the Lido deck. There, Mr. Bill and I finally had the opportunity chat and take some photos. A very special hello to Elizabeth, whom he misses very much! As the sun went down and the wind blew strong, we were all informed that we were not able to depart from the city of Ushuaia until the wind died down. Thus, rather than our originally scheduled plan to visit Puerto Arenas tomorrow, instead we will be spending the day navigating through mountains and glaciers and enjoying scenic cruising around these Chilean waters.

I want to sit at a fire right now with hot cocoa and smores.. Alas, that is one this you just can’t do on a cruise ship!

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The pier of Ushuaia. Look at the clouds in the water!!!

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Scenic drive to the Trafalgar National Park

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The Carnival Splendor docked in Ushuaia, Argentina.

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The top of the glacier.

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The view looking down from the top of the Glacier!!! Woah. You can see the Splendor in the bottom left!

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The view looking down from the top of the Glacier!!! Woah. You can see the Splendor in the bottom left!

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Bill and Jaime, we finally met and I got to see the bobblehead!!!

All the best to you,
Jaime =)

Jaime, you are building up quite a fan club but unfortunately all your male fans are married or have met you 🙂 Anyway, despite not finding Mr. Right please keep up the great work as we are very proud of you.

Speaking of our friends on the Carnival Splendor, here are some more terrific shots from the photo team featuring magnificent images of Argentina……….oh, stop crying!

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Back on the Carnival Fantasy a few weeks ago we had the Bloggers Cruise and there I met the winner of the Porthole Magazine contest. Here’s his story.

We Have A Winner

The second John Heald Bloggers Cruise aboard the Carnival Fa ntasy attracted more than 400 enthusiastic participants, including Matt Meisenhelder, a Wilson, N.C., resident who was awarded a free stateroom as part of an on-line contest sponsored by Porthole Cruise Magazine.

The John Heald Bloggers Cruise brings together fans of the senior cruise director’s blog (www.johnhealdsblog.com) which has garnered nearly four million views since being launched two years ago.

The contest posed the question “What would you do if you were a cruise director for a day?”

Meisenhelder’s idea of a “futuristic cruise day” — with cruise passengers and staff dressing up as robots and other fun events and giveaways — was deemed the winner. In addition to a free ocean view stateroom on the five-day Carnival Fantasy cruise, Meisenheld was included in a variety of exclusive events and activities hosted by Heald.

Two more John Heald Bloggers Cruises are planned for 2009 – an eight-day voyage from New York departing Nov. 15 and a nine-day sailing from Port Canaveral, Fla., departing Dec. 3.

He is quite a guy and he and his bubbly Brit of a girlfriend had a wonderful time. I hope they sail again soon and congratulations again on winning the contest.

Yesterday I answered a comment asking for more information and photos of the much anticipated Carnival Dream. I will be visiting in April but for now, here are the latest renderings of what the ship will have to offer. These can also be viewed on the www.carnival.com/dream page.

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Wow…………………nothing else to say really except………..wow again.

“Welcome to St. Thomas” says the sign as you disembark from the gangway. I did so today and was immediately covered in the warm sunshine that people expect and demand when they come here. I have always loved St. Thomas. I have always disliked their taxi drivers. I had no intention of taking one today as I was just going to walk to the shops near the ship at Havenside to buy some shampoo, razor blades and hemorrhoid cream which by the way is impossible to find in St. Thomas which considering the size of many Caribbean bottoms is surprising.

Anyway, as I walked past the taxis a guest approached me. She had her husband, partner or friend (I know not which) with her. He was in a wheelchair and it was one of those wheelchairs that only the people with the most severe handicaps have to use.

Anyway, she recognized me and said that the taxi drivers wanted to charge $50 to take her and her husband downtown………the normal charge is $6 per person. ………..she was in tears. So, I asked the driver why such a high charge and he said that’s what it will cost and turned his back. When I protested, he became abusive and the person regulating the queue seemed uninterested in helping. He then said that the chair the guest was in would take up two rows of chairs which would have to be folded down meaning the driver would not be able to fill his van up.

He said this with such contempt that for a moment I considered making him feel what it would be like to spend his life in the wheelchair. Anyway, I was going to get nowhere fast so I told the lady to take the cab, pay the $50 and keep the receipt and if she paid for the journey there I would pay personally for the return. And so after a big hug I pushed the chair through the back doors of the van while the driver stood there picking his nose.

I know he has to make money………I know that putting the wheelchair in the van decreases the number of guests he can take…………..but in the everything is wonderful world I live in I hoped he would have seen this man’s plight and wanted nothing more than the chance to put some sunshine back in his life………..rather than take him for as much money as he could…………I guess therefore I am not living in the real world.

President Obama has rediscovered his true voice and not a moment too soon. After spending the first month of his presidency telling the American people that their country was in a catastrophic and possibly irreversible economic crisis and that soon they would have to start eating their pets, Mr. Obama suddenly reverted on Tuesday to the audacity of hope that got him into the White House. Unfortunately I didn’t think to put this landmark speech on the big screen and that as you will see caused one guest to express his opinion of me.

Guest: Mr —————-Ref: 836005187A 
Cabin: ____ Booking#: ________ Added-Changed: 02/24/09 – 02/24/09

COMPLAINT ABOUT PRESIDENTS SPEECH NOT SHOWN
Guest stopped by the desk wanting to talk to the Cruise Director. GSS told the guest that he was on stage at the moment in the show room. Mr. _________ wanted to express his anger that President of America Obama’s speech was not being shown on the Lido Deck screen and that the show had been scheduled at the same time. Guest handed in a letter 15 minutes later for John. Cruise Director tasked.

And here is the letter

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So, I called the guest and apologized. I probably should have thought about putting this on the big screen and even as I watched the highlights on the news last night it didn’t strike me that it would be something that the guests would want to listen to while on vacation. Anyway, my apologies meant very little to the guest who as you can see from the letter considers me a “simpleton” which is word you don’t hear much these days.

I asked the guest what would make him happy and he still insists I must make a public apology at the show or on the PA system. I did mention that he was so far then only guest who had commented on this but he replied with the fact that he had spoken to “dozens of people” who felt the same. I didn’t meet any of those dozens last night as I walked the ship until after midnight and unfortunately only got to talk to people who were having the best bruise vacation ever.

Anyway, there will be a mention of it by me at the next morning show and hopefully the bottle of wine and fruit basket will have Vice President Guest feeling a little better about life.

I know many of you will say that I should have played it on the big screen and some will say that I shouldn’t and one or two may say that he doesn’t deserve the complimentary fruit basket and bottle of Chatauenaf De Bugger. I love being a cruise director again and challenges like this make the job even more enjoyable However………when and where do you draw the line when it comes to complaints.

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.