The Gift!

March 16, 2009 -

John Heald

There are so many ups and downs, slings and arrows, peaks and troughs and other metaphors that I could use to describe what being a cruise director is all about. However, rather than me waffle on about this why don’t I just show you these two letters which I received on the last day of last cruise……………have a read of these

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The angry “you need re-training” is referring to my bedtime story and I was astonished when I read the letter. I was astonished………..I have never had a reaction to this piece before. There have been guests who may not like it but to take the time to write a letter like that……..well…….they really must have hated it…….and, of course, I now think about that letter rather than the standing ovation the show received (as also mentioned by the guest) and I now have this letter firmly on my mind.

Yes……..I do get a little spicy and sometimes you react to a situation stage by saying what comes into your mind. But……….I never use foul language and I always make sure that the innuendos are in the guests’ minds and not actually spoken by me. I probably should have called the guest but after reading the letter a few times I knew it would be pointless. And so I wrote them a letter of apology saying how sorry I was and that I was so distraught that they felt that my bedtime story ruined their night. I also sent them a bottle of champagne as way of an apology which within 30 minutes of being delivered was returned to the Guest Services Desk by the guest who asked to swap it for some free photos ………..which I agreed to.

I know many of you will tell me not to worry but even though I get one letter like this a year or more………..I still find myself second-guessing if what I say on stage is indeed offensive. So, I did what I hate to do. I watched myself on TV and listened to the laughter echo around the room and watched 1,498 people stand and cheer and reminded myself that 278 people bought a DVD of the bedtime story…………and I felt much better. In these dark days of ever-deepening economic woe, the continuing concerns in Afghanistan, Iraq and The Middle East we desperately need something to celebrate………and that’s what I try to do through laughter and specifically through the bedtime story. I respect Mr. Irwin’s opinion and remain upset that he hated the show ………..was it offensive? ……………..all I can say is ……………offensive………..my arse.

It’s been a very strange day because after the thrill of being on stage and enjoying being a CD again I am once again on the inactive list and forced to watch proceedings from the sidelines. I could have left the ship yesterday in Miami and spent a few days of relaxation shopping at El Dolphino Mallo but I wanted to stay onboard for two reasons. Most importantly I want to give David………..sorry…….Charlie my support and hopefully the benefit of my years of experience and help along the way. I watched for that week when I first joined the Carnival Valor a month ago and now I want to see if I he has put some of my suggestions into place. These included restructuring his travel and port talk and also scheduling himself better to allow more time on stage which is where I think we all agree the CD belongs. The second reason I decided to stay is that I never really got to see Roatan so I will take a tour this week and see what it’s all about.

So far David ……….sorry……..Charlie has done well yet like most first-time cruise directors, he just needs to have some more self-confidence in his abilities and he will have a long and successful career.

Here are the facts and figures of this voyage.

3547 guests

AGE GROUP
TOTALS

2-5 Years
58

6-8 Years
87

9-11 Years
120

12-14 Years
188

Under 21 – 835
Under 18 – 749

It seems like we have the same amount of older kids on spring break but with the addition of lots of younger children as well.

This is actually a good thing as not only do we have the best children’s program at sea in Camp Carnival, Circle C and Club O2 but having younger kids creates that wonderful family atmosphere on the ship that Carnival is famous for and that’s always a good thing. Last cruise we had lots of older people and a good amount spring breakers but nothing in the middle………so far this cruise it appears we have every age range covered which is also great for the ship.

I just read back what I wrote above and find myself wanting to add something ………….. so I will. While I am happy to help David……………sorry……..Charlie I did find it difficult to stop myself running ……..OK walking fast……….onto the stage and grabbing the microphone when a “fun opportunity to say something” passed him by………….oh well. There was one brilliant guest he had on stage who was a huge rotund man with a long flowing white beard…….it was crying out for a Santa joke or two but David…….sorry….. Charlie left him alone. I’m sorry, but having a man like that on stage and not doing a Santa joke is a bit like having Angelina Jolie in your bed and sleeping on the couch.

But overall David…….sorry ……….Charlie…….had a great show and I was very proud of him. Now, I have also met a few people who have recognized me and all have said that they are disappointed that I am not the cruise director which, of course, I feel so guilty about. I also met a young lady called Jordan who apparently had written on this blog recently that she would be sailing and that I had promised to spend sometime with her to help her with “her project.” I stood there nodding and saying “Oh yes of course and arranged to meet her on Tuesday.” …….the problem is I have no idea what she is talking about. My mind is as blank as the “Wars We Have Won” page in the French history books.

So………can anyone remember seeing a comment from Jordan and what I promised to help her with because I am buggered if I can remember?

Let’s go back to Sunday where I was joined onboard by Stephanie Leavitt and Tom Hoover from Interactive Marketing Internet Web Specialist Swat.com Senior Nerd Specialist Managers Team. They came on board and brought with them two chaps who had applied for a new video producer position. You see, it is our intention to provide much more video footage for the blog and on carnival.com. It seems you all like the videos we put on and up to now all the updownshakeitallabout loading thingy has been done by Stephanie and Tom it has now been realized they need help……….and so we all interviewed the two hopeful candidates. To test their skills we shot some video footage and asked them to slap it on the blog. Here they are and I hope you enjoy them.

Pretty good don’t you think?……..although I look a bit tired ……….and I guess I feel a bit tired as well because ever since January 20 I have been going flat out ever since ……….. so while I have a rest…………….here’s Jaime

March 15, 2009

Dear John,

For as long as I can remember, I have made it a daily mantra to attempt to do one thing that scares me. This forces me to expand the horizons of what I would typically consider my comfort zone and in the end will allow me to be able to take on anything. Today I most definitely adhered to this goal of overcoming my fears; I will share more on that later.

We have now finally returned to what I would consider Carnival territory. The terminal building in Acapulco, Mexico, is filled with your typical tourist attractions, such as Diamonds International and Starbucks. One of the pamphlets that were distributed to my group of friends near the pier area was that which depicted the location “Paradise.” I had thought everywhere in Mexico was paradise! However, if this is not the truth, my friends and I knew we couldn’t go wrong if we headed to the resort that made this significant claim. The taxi driver requested $15 US for a ride to this delightful location, and after haggling down to a $10 price, my friends and I opted to take a nice relaxing walk along the beach in order to reach our destination.

The 30-minute walk that we were expecting turned out to be an extremely warm hour and a half of twists and turns with the hot sun gleaming down on us. We learned that reaching Paradise was not as easy as it seems! The smooth walk along a beautiful beach that we were anticipating turned out to be not only long but also under constant harassment by small children selling Chiclets. Also, the powder sand beach we thought was in Acapulco was actually filled with tiny stones that have now calloused our feet. Nonetheless, the tide brushed up against our ankles and after power walking to our destination we finally arrived we were greeted by many members of our incredible Splendor dance cast. After eating lunch and enjoying the sun, we could not resist any longer. Many of the entertainment department employees decided it was necessary to bound off the 50-meter high platform in the form of an official bungee jump.

After some of my peers successfully made this leap, and avoiding being transformed into road kill, it was finally my turn. I could not believe that I was insane enough to actually pay some company my hard-earned money to put my life in danger by jumping off a giant platform. Nonetheless, I headed over to the bungee location and signed my life away, literally. The disclaimer covered anything and everything. I could not jump if my grandma’s cousin’s uncle’s third wife could possibly be pregnant. If I had ever suffered from a hang nail, I could rule out this method of risking my life. And of course, it was not their fault if there was any miniscule possibility that bounding off a high tower could potentially cause myself damage, danger or death.

Let me inform you, this bungee jumping location was found and supported entirely on the personal volition of myself and my peers. Carnival in no way sent us to this location, supported us risking our lives, and possibly could do nothing other than attend the funeral if something was to happen. Nonetheless, since we didn’t make it to Maccu Picchu I wanted to at least say I took some sort of huge risk during this contract.

My friends and I got into the elevator which seemed never-ending as we made out way to the top of the 50-meter high tower; we received our extensive safety briefing- which consisted of me asking where to put my hands. The gentlemen at the top of the tower tied the harness around my waist and a towel around my ankles. After waiting what seemed like hours (actually two minutes) until it was my turn, I asked the employees all the questions I had stirring in my head before taking the possible last risk of my life. They told me they hadn’t lost anyone in 10 years, I told them who to contact in case of death, and they said that it is better if you open your eyes.

My friend Emily was in tears by the time she made it to this point, so I did not have time to be scared. I was too busy comforting her, telling her how much I believed in her, and if she did this she could take on anything. I was told DON’T LOOK DOWN, so of course, right before going over the edge I looked out to the ship in the distance as it was docked in the beautiful Acapulco bay, I smiled for the camera and quickly glanced at my friends waiting for me at the bottom – hoping I would have the opportunity to hug them in just a few short moments.

I spread my arms like a bird and fell… and fell… and fell… then bounced there for a while and had a warm feeling of pride gleam throughout my body. Well, that may have been pee, but either way it was warm! We all did it! Twelve of my friends bungee jumped, many of us for the first time today. We did something special.

The rest of the day continued to be filled with memorable experiences. High tides took many of our sandals that were nestled along the beach. One or two cameras may have become waterlogged and unfortunately, the ocean took my brand new Carnival towel. Nevertheless, the day was nothing short of incredible.

I think I may have been shaking more having to do Welcome Aboard Show on the Carnival Pride just a few weeks ago, but now that I can cross both of these momentous accomplishments off the list, I wonder what risks are next in line to be overcome!

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Cliff diving location another show that I didn’t get to see but heard was pretty great

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The Carnival Splendor docked in Acapulco for the first time

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Yours truly bungee jumping for the first time

Only a few more days left now,
Jaime =)

Not long now Jaime and you will see the Golden Gate Bridge………and me. See you soon and thanks again for the wonderful Dear John letter.

Stephanie Meads, my ACD, left today to join Butch on the Carnival Glory and I thank her for all the help and support especially during the Bloggers Cruise. An old friend joined the ship as ACD today………Gary Brierly who many of you will have met on the Carnival Freedom and Carnival Splendor. It’s great to see him again……..because he owed me $30.

I am the proud new owner of a book called Doctor Spock’s Baby and Child Care bought for me by the entertainment staff here on the Carnival Valor and containing 936 pages that basically tells me my life as I know it ……….is over. While it contains a lot of useful information there are some paragraphs that I am very dubious about……….for example

“The birth itself isn’t that bad, and anyway her body is biologically programmed to forget the pain.”

Bollocks…….I have seen women giving birth on TV and in movies and it looks terrifying. The gas and air doesn’t work like they say it does, having stitches looks horrible, midwives don’t always get it right, there will be more blood and bodily fluids than an episode of CSI Miami, and having half the world staring at your wife’s most intimate parts while she make noises like a demented pig is not, in any sense of the word, pleasant.

And:

“You get used to not having as much sleep as you used to.”

Again……..bollocks. From what I hear from Dads you will go insane with sleep deprivation. You really will. Even the hardiest of military men were reduced to wrecks after three days of no sleep in Japanese prisoner of war camps, and you were not trained for this. There will be days when the very act of having a poo will to your shattered body………..feel like a major achievement

“Returning to a normal life that involves rumpy pumpy (I changed the words there) will happen sooner rather than later as you begin to lead normal lives again.”

Ummmmm………Rumpy pumpy will be implausible because you will both be spectacularly exhausted, and no one feels like having much rumpy pumpy when they’re tired. And smelling slightly of sick.

It’s a nice gift though and obviously a lot of thought has gone into buying it …………. because getting someone the right gift is never easy.

Take our slacked jawed double chinned Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s recent trip to Washington. Gordon gave President Obama Barrack a penholder carved from the timbers of an antislavery ship. The sister ship, in fact, of the one that was broken up and turned into the desk in the Oval Office.

Barrack, meanwhile, gave Brown a copy of The Graduate on DVD. Which sounds like an “Oh, Bugger. What shall we get him?” moment at the local Citgo station.

And so I find myself in a similar dilemma………I can’t come home empty handed …………. but do I buy a gift for Heidi……..or something for the Thingy?

I know from previous long sessions in the doghouse that you should never buy your wife anything that needs a plug, but this has always presented a problem. Because I’ve always had some understanding of stuff that needed electricity to function, and had no clue about stuff that didn’t. Perfume, for example. Have you actually been into the perfume department of a shop recently? Not only do you have the traditional choice of about 10,000 from the well-known names such as Chanel and er . . . ummmm………..others but now you have celebrity-endorsed products, as well. 

Does your wife want to smell like Paris Hilton or Celine Dion? Or would she like to spend the year strutting around with a whiff of the thin one who looks like a horse from Sex in the City behind her ears? Horrified that you might trip over the great smell of Judge Judy — or bleach, as it’s known in hardware stores — you make a beeline for the clothes department, but this is an even bigger mistake because you’ll Buy the Wrong Thing.

And to make matters worse you will Buy the Wrong Thing in the Wrong Size. 

So, jewelry then. Well, no, because for reasons I’ve never fully understood jewelry shops never advertise their prices. Which means you need a basic grasp of the “bugger me if I am paying that” technique as you try to pretend the reason you don’t want the necklace is because of the clasp, not because it costs $5,000. 

Furniture……OK, not a bad idea as I know she wants a rocking chair…….but if American Airlines charges $3 billion for a bloody suitcase I doubt they are going to let me take it as a carry on.

Of course, the shop can deliver but this involves filling out a form, and then another. And then some more. And then the information has to be typed onto a computer, and by the time that’s been done and delivered to the UK, the Thingy is 27. 

At this point the modern gentleman will start to think about getting some candles. We all know that girls like to spend hours having baths in the semi-darkness and we cannot imagine what they might be doing in there. Books? Oh, come on. It seems a bit mean to spend only £7.99, especially as the sort of books my wife likes don’t even come with a plot or involve rumpy pumpy and explosions 

This is why I didn’t even bother window shopping for my wife this year. I just headed straight for the electrical department in Selfridges, where I knew I would feel safe and warm and comfortable.

As for buying gifts for the Thingy I have no idea where to start. We don’t know if it’s a male Thingy or a female Thingy so what color do I get and what size and what material and where from and help!

The bloggers who sailed with me on the Carnival Fantasy were so nice and have given me so much that I have even considered wrapping some of it up and saying “Heidi, look what I bought you”…………..but I can’t. So, at this moment in time I leaning towards ordering a Miami Heat baby shirt on line and a tiny pair of Dwyane Wade sneakers ……….. cute don’t you think?

But will she like that?………..I just can’t read women. It will be Heidi’s birthday next month and I remember the hell of last year
“I don’t want a present. You got me lots of nice stuff at Christmas.” That’s what she said. So, I don’t get her a present. I do, however, pay for her and her best friend Nadia to have a posh lunch and a two-hour spa treatment at our local posh hotel.

Not bad, I thought. Very bad, thought Heidi. It was clearly a huge problem that there was not a physical present to unwrap.
“It’s just me being greedy,” she said with sad eyes. “When I get over it, I’ll realize that just having the family around me is all I need.” This was an Oscar-winning performance and made me feel like a total bastard.

So, I guess as far as Heidi is concerned it will have to be perfume and I am leaning to getting her the latest scent to hit the market. It’s called Eau De Royal Champions No 5 ………….. And it smells of sheer desperation.

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.

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