All the World's A Stage

February 27, 2009 -

John Heald

Yesterday, I had to write out a security report. I can’t tell you what it was about yet but maybe in a few weeks I can. It’s nothing to worry about and the point I am trying to make here has nothing to do with the report other than I had to write it using something called ………….. a pen…………and the words just wouldn’t flow.

Am I part of the last generation for whom handwriting was taught as a vital skill and it got me thinking that in the near future, handwriting will only be used by people who keep a diary? I suspect that there are young people today who have never received a letter written on paper and mailed in an envelope with a “stamp.”

The obvious question is, does it matter? I’m someone who has gone from writing naturally with pen in hand, to now only being able to think fluently in front of a damn keyboard. If I tried to construct this article on paper, I couldn’t do it. When it comes to letters, of course I write them and so as my Dad still does with a pen and ink – but e-mails and obviously blogs come easier. For example, I just tried an experiment and started to write today’s blog using a pen………….and apart from the word “bugger” ……… bugger all would come and I found myself staring at a blank piece of paper.

One reason why older people write letters to newspapers, while young people comment online, is that younger people don’t think about what to write on paper any more. And undoubtedly, they are more legible when chasing a flashing cursor across a screen.

There can be no doubt that we are witnessing the creation of the first keyboard generation. ………………..and I am not sure if that’s a good thing or not. And my penless thoughts, I guess, I have joined them.

So we had the talent show last night. One of the acts was a 13-year-old young lady who played the flute. Now………..normally our age limit is 16 to take part as we offer a Camp Carnival/Circle C talent show as well. However, I had no choice but to let this young lady in the show……….not because she insisted but because her mother did. There is nothing worse than a “stage mum.”

OK, there are lots of things worse than a stage mum including hemorrhoids and being eaten alive by a pack of rabid dogs. However, pretty high up on the list of nasty things is a mum who wants her sibling to be “a star.” And so right from the start of this cruise I have been bombarded with letters and messages and phone calls from Mrs. Stagemom. I had originally told her “no” but then came the shouting, the screaming, the tantrum and the tears…………….that’s the mum by the way………….not her daughter.

And so because the mother told me between the sobs and the hysterics that “I had ruined her daughters cruise” and that “I would regret it when she became famous that I hadn’t allowed her on stage,” I gave in and allowed her daughter to perform……….I didn’t tell her that unless her daughter new how to play Thick as A Brick or Aqualung and intended to replace Ian Andersen as Jethro Tull’s front ummmmm……..girl………..that I didn’t think the world was ready for another famous flute player.

I felt so sorry for her daughter. She was lovley and you could tell that she would have been happy not to have performed and just hang out with her friends as she nervously stood in front of 1,500 people and played a piece from Phantom of the Opera. It was nice………..and the audience appreciated it. Was she spectacularly amazing? ……………… nope……..but it made her day and her cruise ……..not hers of course ……….her mother’s.

After half a lifetime of consistent failure, that I know I was not born to be a musician.

I suppose I should have seen the signs at the age of eight, when I attended Heycroft Junior School, in Essex. Like most of the kids in the UK, we were issued with Dolmetsch recorders. I remember all the other kids could play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, while my own instrument emitted nothing but a shrill peep and a worrying quantity of warm spit.

The recorder, I decided, was a girly instrument so, by the age of 11, I was playing with the trombone – just the job to express my musical personality, I thought; and yet if anything, the trombone seemed less easy to control than the recorder.

Sometimes, I would blow so hard into the mouthpiece that I saw stars and nothing would come out except a sound that can only be described as a wet fart……….you know the one all of us do after sitting at the meal table for hours eating everything insight and then finally we stand up and…..bweeeeeeep. My Dad and I have contests at Christmas to see who can do the loudest.

After a while, I laid the trombone aside, consoling myself with the thought that you never saw a trombone player in a rock band. So I took up the bass guitar. One year later I was fired from my mate’s rock band that on the not unreasonable grounds that I was the only would-be bass guitarist in history who could not play the opening bars of Smoke on the Water.

Later on in life I tried the piano but by then it was too late and I can look back on a failed musical career………..but you know what………… least I tried. The truth is that I have had abundant opportunity; I have been exposed to all manner of beautiful musical instruments, and in my hands they might as well have been sledgehammers for all the music they produced.

And so it seems to me to be a sin that there are so many young people for whom the ratio is the other way around. Their hands and brains and ears are properly wired up, and yet they don’t have the opportunity – enough teaching, enough enthusiasm, enough instruments – to discover and develop their talents. At the start of this blog I worried about whether kids of tomorrow will know how to use a pen and just as worryingly is the thought that kids will one day believe all music comes from an Eye Pod thingy and not from the hearts and minds of brilliant live musicians…..and this, more than the screaming hysterics of the dreaded stage mum, was the reason I finally decided to have this wonderful young lady play the flute in the talent show.

We will come back to the talent show later but first let me answer some of your comments and questions ………… we go.

cruzn buckeye Asked:

John please reply,

Hi John,

Yes Roatan is beautiful. I have only been there one time on my 19 Carnival cruises but look forward to when I will get to visit it again. About the cold thingy, well, three of the four of us ended up with it to! Still have mine! Seems like a lot of the Krewe came home with colds and a little more for my daughter. But we had a great time so it’s all good!

While on the Blogger’s cruise, you had given us your schedule as cd for this year. I don’t think you mentioned September. I am planning a cruise in September and I would love for it to be with you as the CD. Will you be CD on a ship in September?

If so, please let me know. I am probably going to book this weekend.

And another thing, you should never be feeling lonely without friends on a cruise. I found you to be a very sweet man, no wonder Heidi loves you so much! You know that if any of the Krewe are on the same ship as you, you will never be sitting alone in a bar feeling lonely, you bring much happiness to all of us. We don’t want you to feel that way. Of course, we know you are lonely without Heidi and Thingy but we will do our best to brighten your day!

John Says:

Hello Cruzn Buckeye

I think I may have spread my cold around on the Bloggers Cruise. There were lots of hugs shared and maybe that’s how we all got the sniffles………..sorry about that. I will be on the Carnival Freedom from July to September. I don’t actually have the exact dates right now but as soon as I do I will let you know. But it will be the Carnival Freedom for sure. Thanks for the kind words, they mean so much to me and I hope we see each other very soon.

Best Wishes


michelle mann Asked:

HI John


Spend!Spend!Spend! If only I had the money in the first place, as long as I have a Carnival cruise booked I can get through another year.

John hope you are feeling a bit better, just to say saw Heidi last week in the Broadway and she is looking great, sorry I even got to feel the bump, hope Heidi did not mind.

If poss can you see if there are any other teenagers booked on the Dream 15 Oct sailing, as you know we are taking our son, he is not bothered if he is going to be the only teenager (15) on board (thinks he will have all the computer games to himself) but it would be nice to know he will be able to make some friends, it’s not urgent and please don’t worry if you cannot find this out.

Keep Happy


John Says:

Hello Michelle

It’s great to hear from you. Heidi told me she had seen you and she actually hoped you would be in the coffee shop the next time she came to Thorpe Bay but alas you weren’t there. She sends you her best.

I checked the bookings and there indeed 50-plus teens sailing on that voyage so your son will no doubt meet some new mates. The Carnival Dream is going to be an amazing ship and I hope I get to see you there or before at the coffee shop.

My best to you and the family


Maribeth Kring Asked:

Dear John, Please Reply,

Yay, cruising again! Cruising on the Carnival Legend in July this year! This time I am taking some family, half of which have never been on a cruise. (They’re gonna be Carnival Junkies just like me after day 1!) I have a couple of questions.

First, my sister-in-law is on a wheat free diet and wants to know how she would go about making sure this is accommodated on the ship?

I tend to spend a lot of time in the Piano Bar and was wondering if the schedule was out yet and, if so, who will be playing the week of July 18th-26th. If the schedule is not filled yet, I hope they contact Greg Gallello!

Also, I would like to know who the Captain, CD and Maitre’D will be?

Thank you so much for all the help you have been to all the bloggers! You are a true credit to Carnival Cruise Lines.

God Bless You, Heidi and the Thingy!!


Maribeth Kring – aka Carnival Junkie

John Says:

Hello Maribeth

Congratulations on taking the whole family on the beautiful Carnival Legend, I know they will have a fantastic time. It always make me happy when families unite on a Carnival cruise. Let’s start with your sister’s diet request. We will ask someone in our reservations department who will make a note on your booking and advise the ship. Therefore, please send me her name and booking number via the blog and Stephanie will pass along the information. I checked on the piano bar schedule and as yet it is not completed up until July but I know it will be someone you will enjoy listening to each and every night. Our piano bar entertainers are the best and for many people it’s their favorite spot onboard. The cruise director will be Jen Baxter who is a fun and outgoing lady who many are writing about on the cruise boards. The maitre d’ schedule is at the time of writing not completed that far in advance. If you write to me a few weeks before you sail I will fill in the blanks for you.

Thanks so much for all the kind words

My best to you and the family



Patty Asked:

Hi John,

Well, if all goes according to plan we will be sailing with you on the Valor, March 22! Needless to say, we are very excited.

My question is about a cruise we are taking the week before, on the Miracle, March 13, 2009. We have a fantastic group of people blogging on Cruise Critic (check it out) and have 150 signed up on the blog! From tots to seniors, singles to the very married, all looking forward to eight days of fun. We would like to kick it off with a meet and mingle but I’m having a heck of a time getting help from Carnival. I was on hold and spoke to numerous people for over an hour, with no luck. Can you point me in the proper direction?

Also, don’t know if this is allowed, but we would love to buy you dinner on the Valor at the supper club. I know your schedule is jam packed, but hey, you gotta eat sometime!

Thanks very much for your help!

Patty Holmes

John Says:

Hello Patty

Thanks for writing and it seems that you and your Cruise Critic friends will have a brilliant time on the Carnival Miracle. I will go ahead and ask the groups coordinator to reserve a lounge at 2 pm on embarkation day and that the CD Brent puts a notice in the Today At A Glance section in the Carnival Capers saying “Cruise Critic Group Meet.” I hope to see you on the 22nd and if not dinner than at least a cup of tea!

Have a wonderful cruise and say hello to everyone who is sailing with you



Amy Asked:


So sorry to hear you still aren’t feeling well. Hope you are 100% soon. I am sure Heidi & the thingy wish they could be there to take care of you.

I am cracking myself up, because in my head I read your blog in an English accent. Considering I am from Oklahoma this is really funny to me. But even more funny, is as I am typing this, still in my English (not so much) accent!

Just wanted to let you know, some kids do still actually read!

And I am sure that my 9-year-old daughter will be bringing not one but several books on our cruise in June on the Freedom.

I have a question for you, my husband and I are taking our girls on a cruise with us for the first time in June, we have been on five Carnival cruises together (two with you as CD), but this is the first “Family Cruise.” Wanting to make this as family as possible we would really like a table for just the four of us at dinner. I have requested this with our travel agent, but of course got the not guaranteed response. Should I go to the maitre d upon boarding the ship to double check? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Also, do you know when the CD schedule will be updated past April???

Thanks so much!


John Says:

Hello Amy

I feel much better now and many thanks for your kind words. I am glad to see your daughter reads books. Honestly, it seems a rare thing these days as most kids seem to have their heads buried over a Nintendoboxstation thingy rather than in a good book. Let me know when you are sailing and on which ship and I will do my best to help you get the table you require. I love your accent by the way 🙂 Please send me the information when you can.

My best to you all


Tim and Diane Asked:

Hey John Please Reply

We really enjoy your writings. One question though. The new commercials That guy is too good to be a real CD. Is he?

No one can get any better than you as a CD though.

Welcome back to the saddle so to speak next week.

John Says:

Tim and Diane

The chap they are using is a comic actor whose name is Matt Fisher and his antics are certainly worthy of a great cruise director. His “new ship smell” commercial is very funny and his antics are just perfect for the fun message we are trying to get across. Thanks for the kind words and it is indeed great to be back in the saddle again.



RonRN Asked:

Hi John, Please reply

I was wondering if you received and passed on the resume package I sent you the week you left for New Orleans? I appreciate your help in hopefully getting my dream job.

While I am at it, I am on the Carnival Legend, cabin ###, sailing 2-22-09 from Tampa, and I would love a picture of the ship if you could arrange it or tell me where I can get one, Thanks either way.

I see Jaime joining that list of CD’s, love the Dear John letters, Thanks Jaime.

I also saw a comment the other day that had “biscuits & gravy” and “Waffle House” in it, was this a tease of an upcoming Dear John letter from Mr. Chris “Bubba” Roberts?

All the best to Heidi and the Thingy, and thanks to Stephanie and the team. Enjoy your time on stage next week.


Ron(Cruising in 3 days!!!!)RN

John Says:

Hello Ron RN

I did indeed pass on your information and I will follow up with the chap I passed it onto. I will make sure I send a signed photo for you to your cabin. Chris “Bubba” Roberts is a huge Waffle House fan and if he had his way he would eat breakfast, lunch and dinner there. Anyway, have a wonderful cruise and I hope you hear some news soon about your dream job. Thanks for the kind words to Heidi and I.



Rick H. Asked:


I’m pleased to say that we’ve already arranged our own Carnival Sunday Fun Day on March 29 — that’s the day we sail on the Carnival Miracle! Only 37 days (but who’s counting?)

John, please reply! I know the Miracle is going into dry-dock before our trip. Are there any changes being made to the on-board amenities? (Mongolian barbecue, please?) Our group for the cruise is growing, and we’d love to be able to tell the CCL first-timers what’s in store for them. Also, is it possible to forward our information to the Maitre ‘D to request that our group be seated @ adjacent tables having the same wait staff? (Tables with a window view would be an added bonus!) The last time we had more than one table, we had two different sets of wait staff. We couldn’t rearrange the seating (kids at one table, adults at the other) without causing major confusion. Thanks for any information you can provide.

Best to you, Heidi and Thingy. May is rapidly approaching!

Rick H.

ps: Jaime, thanks for bringing us along on the SA adventure!

John Says:

Hello Rick

I can certainly see you are excited about the Carnival Sunday Fun Day and that’s great to hear. It will be a day to remember. The Carnival Miracle will receive a new Circle C room for the 12 – 14 year olds and bow to stern total wireless computer thingy. I will check about the Mongolian addition to the Lido Deck and let you know. I will see what I can do re: the dining room. Can you send me the names and cabin numbers in your group and I will certainly ask the maitre d if we can do as you asked.

It’s going to be a great trip and I wish I could be with you



Sharon Asked:

Hey John

Any idea if and when Carnival will have another cruise around the Cape of SA?


John Says:

Hello Sharon

Although there are no plans at present for another voyage I am sure due to the popularity of the current Carnival Splendor’s cruise we will do another one day. The next time I would love to be there myself as reading Jaime’s letters have certainly made me wish I was there. I will let you know as and when I hear anything



Ken Smith Asked:

Dear Captain Quierolo and nice people of the Freedom:

I just returned from a wonderful 6 day cruise on the Freedom from Feb8-14. As usual Carnival lived up to my every expectation without being overly fancy or pretentious. My thanks to Captain Queirolo and his wonderful crew for making our time onboard truly memorable!

One question though – I hope I am not out of line asking this or causing any embarrassment. In Ocho Rios we observed a rather large dent in the stern just at or right above the waterline. Can you give me any insight as to what happened there?

Thanks again for a great vacation. I will be back

John Says:

Hello Ken

I will certainly pass on your letter to Captain Queirolo whom you may know has been selected to be the master of the Carnival Dream. Anyway, regarding the dent. This was actually made in 2007 during a docking procedure in Civitavecchia, Italy. Obviously the ship was given a full inspection by Lloyds of London and it will be repaired when the ship enters her next dry dock. I was onboard when it happened and didn’t feel a thing. Anyway, thanks for asking and I hope you have some wonderful memories of your cruise. I remain at your service should you have any further questions.



That’s all for today. I will answer the next batch very soon.

Here’s Jaime

February 27, 2009

Dear John,

In comparison to a trans-Atlantic crossing, spending three consecutive days at sea seems to fly by when gorgeous scenery surrounds the ship. While sailing through incredible glaciers, it is somewhat disorienting to realize that not only water, but also massive rocks are everywhere! Before sailing in these waters, I was wanted to receive some clarification that a glacier is significantly different than an iceberg, AND the technology used to plan a ships route has greatly improved since the Titanic era! I was assured on both counts.

During this past few days of scenic cruising, guests and crew have worked together to provide new seminars, activities and events. While standing on the open decks, bundled up to keep warm, many people sailing on the Carnival Splendor had the opportunity to take life lasting pictures of these sites. These views are so incredibly beautiful that when I am able to purchase a home, I would definitely make one of the room themes these very pictures that you are about to see below.

These amazing photographs come from one of the members of our technical team in the entertainment department. The group of technicians working aboard the Splendor are undoubtedly amazing individuals both in and out of work. These six people work hard behind the scenes not only in the show lounge but around the entire ship. They deserve recognition for all of their support and dedication. On board the Carnival Splendor we have: Heather, our senior technician, she is so incredibly positive and solution oriented. She is one of the hardest working women I have ever encountered. Pierre, our back lounge tech who is always on the ball and there to help at a moments notice. Who knew that King Neptune, was so impressive when it comes to providing technical support?! Scotty, the Canadian, who has been here since the inaugural cruise on the Splendor. He is a wonderful team member, a very hard worker, and a vegetarian! He is leaving us at the end of the South America run, he will be greatly missed and we all wish him luck in his future endeavors. Logan is the new guy who just arrived at the beginning of this cruise. He is learning the ropes of being on the flagship, and I am sure he is going to do an amazing job. We are lucky to have Josh, who lives close to my family in California. He has worked with the company for quite some time and is one of the most talented sound technicians around. Finally, Brett our light technician, he is incredibly observant, intelligent and assiduous. He comes from Colorado and has multiple degrees from Arizona State. He is fortunate to have his mother and father sailing with us this cruise. I leave him for last because it is his pictures you see below, and he must be amazing at his job because he obviously has an incredible eye both for stage lighting and scenic viewing. Please enjoy the photos compliments of Brett.

Our next port is Puerto Montt, where I will be going on a white water rafting excursion! Hopefully I will make it back in one piece, so I can give you the full report… and even if not, I am going on a Carnival excursion, so I know I will be involved in thorough safety measures and treated with the utmost respect from start to finish! Speaking of excursions, I noticed Jim’s comment from yesterday about his questions with the tendering procedure we use on board. Just so you know Goose was kind enough to call Jim personally and tomorrow morning I am going to look after Jim and his party to make sure they can fully enjoy their day in Puerto Montt.

I love reading your comments and thank you so much for all of your kind words.

Scenic cruising through the glaciers:




Have a great day!

Jaime =)

Many of you have been asking when you will hear if you’ve been accepted for Carnival Sunday Fun Day. So here is Stephanie to give you the details.

Hi Everyone,

We’ll be accepting applications through March 6th and will be notifying selected hosts on March 11th.

So if you haven’t applied yet you still have time!!

Click on the invitation to apply!




What an amazing voyage the ship is on and thanks again Jaime for sharing it all with us. ……I saw your man problems are over as you have found love………with my bobblehead.

Talking of which. The other day I jested that our incomparable President and CEO Gerry Cahill may have spent $47 of his hard-earned money bidding on my bobblehead thingy on eBay. However……….he didn’t……………he spent the money on fish food instead ……… however, I did find out who did. Here is her comment

Uh, CEO Gerry purchased the “you-know-what”? Naaaaaahhhhhh, guys, he’s pullin’ yer leg.

John, I just wanted you to know that I am the PROUD and LUCKY winner of the 1st eBay…..”John Heald Bobble Head”… Yes, I paid $47.00…plus shipping&handlingfees of the seas…but it was WELL worth EVERY penny. It was cut-throat bidding right to the very end.

You see my husband, three adult kiddies, and I were supposed to be on the February Blogger’s Cruise, but work arrangements prevented us from booking it. To make a long-story-short: We went on the Carnival Fantasy out of NO from 12/27/08-1/1/09. We had such a blast, and met some wonderful people. Oh, and Big Tex? What a super CD. He actually presented me with a “ship-on-a-stick” in celebration of my 50th birthday. We have been on several cruises in the past. Carnival is……TOP NOTCH. “Fun for All….All for Fun”!

Well, a little more than a month later…….when all of you sailed……it was KILLING me not to be onboard. I even watched the Fantasy leave the port of NO on the web cam on 2/7/09. I read EVERY review and viewed ALL of the photos/videos that were posted on the CC Blogger’s Forum……DAILY!……while the “400+” of you were cruising. I continue to view any & all updates. I was SOOOO excited for you and your “family” of friends. Honestly, it felt as if I was ON that ship with all of you…..experiencing the parties, dinners, special events, Sea-Days, Progreso, Cozumel, etc. It was awesome! What a GREAT group of people. I wish I could have met all of them….and YOU TOO, of course, John. Perhaps someday our paths will cross………

Anyways, I figured that owning a JH Bobble Head was the next best thing to being with your “family” on that 5-Day Blogger’s Cruise. I CAN’T WAIT to receive it in the mail. David/dwa76 had a great suggestion: Will you sign it for me, John? I can’t afford to pay you after spending a whopping $47.00+. But, I’d MUCH rather have YOUR autograph than any of those “famous” Oscar night attendees. Hmmm, think about it, okay?

By the way, I LOOOOOOVE your Blog. It enlightens me each and every day. You can be so serious, kind, considerate, & sincere, and……THEN, in one simple breath……absolutely hilarious. You are truly a gem, John. Your wife is a lucky gal as you are a lucky man. Keep up the spectacular job. In my eyes, you’re the KING of Carnival.

My love, thoughts, and best wishes go out to you, Heidi, and the….ever-so-lucky….Thingy. Happy cruising!

Take care,

Sally Dagon Head

PS Welcome to Facebook, John!

What a great story and having spent $47 on a bobblehead I have since put a signed copy of my underwear on EBay with a biding price starting at $48………..any takers?

Well, it’s been a very buys day at sea and one that is blesses with sunshine. I did the Morning Show at 9:30 am and had 37 letters to read out. Here are one or two of them I wanted to share with you.




Well, at this point I am going to bugger off and host safety meetings and a Marriage Show so I will leave the blog a bit shorter than usual today but instead leave you with two videos from last night.

The first one involves two words that are not usually heard together …………………….. gospel…………and rap. But last night a pastor did exactly that as you will see here.

Then…………a video that shows what happens if you mess up a lady’s hair ………. ouch.

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.