Twit

March 31, 2009 -

John Heald

I miss American Airlines…………yes, I know have moaned about them in the past but after flying on United Airlines yesterday I will never say anything bad about them ever again …………….well probably not.

I am not going to bore you with details about the seats being old and that mine was as soft as Judge Judy’s inner thigh or that the choice at dinner was grouper in a sweet and sour sauce or Beef Stroganoff and that after choosing the fish I was told by the cabin stewardess that the caterers had brought on no fish, only a few beef strogothingies but plenty of the vegetarian dish which was according to the flight attendant “a bowl of pasta”…..which was so al dente that it was nearly as hard as the chair I was sitting on. ……..and I was in business class so goodness knows what the poor sods in economy were eating.

Still, I thought………..breakfast would surely be better. So, as sleep ignored me as per usual when I am 38,000 feet in the air I watched The Day the Earth Stood Still and was in the middle of a movie about someone who invented the intermittent windshield wipers when suddenly the movie stopped……….nothing…………..I waited………….still nothing.

Unfortunately the plane and the entertainment system was built by The Wright Brothers and eventually the stewardess came over the PA, apologized for waking everyone up but she had to tell us that the entertainment system had crashed and after many attempts they couldn’t restart it. Maybe a piece of my pasta had fallen into the system………it was hard enough to bugger any machinery.

So……..I had nothing else to do but to try and read my book while those around me slept. To some sleep probably came naturally while others were probably under the influence of non-prescription or prescription drugs unperturbed about the warning of Slppexzanexquill’s side effects of uncontrollable bowel movements which may contain an oily discharge.

Eventually breakfast came which as my dinner had been as appetizing as eating goat scrotum in white wine sauce I was very hungry…….bugger……….breakfast was a sausage the size of a hamster’s penis, a teaspoon of scrambled eggs and a few mushrooms that looked like they had been growing in a Sumo wrestler’s jockstrap. A tiny crumbly muffin (labelled blueberry, but containing bugger all) and miniscule orange juice ………..I asked the flight attendant if there was any pasta left………..oh and while I think about it ………… why is a bowl of pasta more appealing than a plate of pasta? And why not simply say pasta?

Yep……..you may once again think I am making all of this up but I once again promise and swear that I am not………..it’s all true and following the cab crash, the blocked toilet and now this…………it was proof positive that the complete and utter bastard that is Murphy was going to be travelling with me to the UK……….. and he had also decided to put a chap called Anthony next to me.

“Who’s Anthony??” I hear you cry…………..well, I am glad you asked……………let me tell you about Anthony. The configuration on a United Airlines plane is 2 seats – 3 seats in the middle – and another two seats. I was seated in F9………..an isle seat and part of the middle 3 …………and in F10 was Anthony.

I had seen Anthony sitting in the airport lounge before the flight but didn’t really think anything of it as he was doing the same as most of the others in the room as they opened their laptops, took out the blackberrys and got ready to save the world. You know the type……the people that turn their cell phones on the instant the plane has landed because the Tokyo stock exchange is struggling to manage without them when in fact in today’s climate the reason they turn them on so damn fast is to find out if they’ve been fired.

Anyway, I just assumed that Anthony was a merchant banker (rhyming slang) and really never gave him much thought. However, as he took his seat next to me and offered me his hand to shake accompanied by a booming “Hi………..I’m Anthony, looks like we will be flying together,” I thought “Murphy, you complete and utter sod.”

However, apart from the fact that Anthony spoke to me as though I was at the other end of the aircraft and his breath smelled like a camel’s bottom he was actually a nice chap …………..and he wasn’t a banker……………he was a reporter……………for a very prominent Washington newspaper and he was off to London to cover President Obama’s visit.

We spoke during the pre-flight checks and the inane babble of the flight attendant telling us the FAA had now banned the party all of us had planed to hold outside of the cockpit door and after take off while I drank my flat glass of Diet Coke and Anthony sipped on a Bloody Mary. He was a very interesting man and actually seemed to take interest in this humble blog thingy but then he said a word that ruined our new friendship ……………… and that word……………..is Twitter!

Anthony told me that before the plane left he had to send in his Twitter report ………….. ”Bloody hell,” I thought…………..here we go again with this Twitter thing and now here was Anthony, a top line reporter for the Washington Thingy telling me that my blog and indeed life itself would fail if I didn’t start being a Twitterer.

Now, I had a conversation on this very subject a few days ago with a mate of mine – PA 007………now………when I say conversation it was of course an electronic conversation via our raspberry’s. Neither of us quite understood what this phenonmeon… phenomenaon ……….fernaoinin………..this thing was all about. …………so I asked someone who knows about this stuff but doesn’t have a beard………..Stephanie Leavitt.

She started a Carnival Twitter page (www.twitter.com/carnivalcruise) some time ago and when I asked what it was all about she told me it was basically down to answering this question “What are you doing?” ………and you are supposed to tell people the answer to this as many times as you possible can each day…………bugger that. Especially since the status updates are limited to 140 characters or less. Including spaces. I love that. Who types without spaces?

Regular readers of the blog thingy already know it takes me 140 characters to say Good Morning. I couldn’t Twitter…………I would be panicking thinking do I really need this space? Is this question mark important? I would have to discipline myself. Where’s the fun in that?

Another thing – what if you’re in the midst of an update and you’ve used up all your characters? Do you erase what you’ve written and start over, or edit and see if you can make it work? I’m guessing most people who are on Twitter are not stressed about the editorial content.

Anthony told me he was updating his status so that the people who followed him knew what his plans were. I told him if I were her stalker I’d find this news very encouraging.

Anyway…………as Stephanie explained…………..the postings on Twitter are called “tweets” and the idea is that it’s a way to stay connected with friends, co-workers and strangers by allowing brief status updates to be read by people who are following you.

Maybe I have such a hard time with it because the idea that someone I don’t’ know and have never met would choose to follow me is hard to fathom. It presumes they are interested in what I am doing. I’m not interested in what I am doing. Why would they be? And isn’t this blog a Twitter then…..what’s the difference apart from the extent of the content?

Anthony also told me that the person who has gotten a lot of press from Twittering is President Obama.

But I doubt he’s doing the updates himself. But it would be worth joining just to get a “tweet” form the President while he’s sitting at the G20 Summit.

How great would it be if he answered the question, “What are you doing?” with: “Deciding whether to bomb Paris.”

I arrived home yesterday and thoughts of Anthony and his fellow Twits were long gone until I turned on the 10 pm BBC News and couldn’t believe my ears. A report by the government suggests that school children should be taught how to use Twitter and Wikipedia rather than waste time learning about the history of the world.

For my North American friends who may not be aware, our current government is made up of total idiots with the combined brain capacity of an amoeba.

But this Twitter thing suggests that Prime Minister Brown and his cabinet have become the Royal Champions of the political world.

First of all, these days any child old enough to eat solid food is already proficient in search engines, apps and how to poke their mates without catching syphilis.

And secondly, by the time the government has employed eight think tanks, set up 40 committees and made the necessary alterations to replace history with Twitter on the curriculum, there will be no point.

Because by then Twitter will already be history. Remember the Telex?

However, what the government’s latest wheeze demonstrates most of all is that the people in charge plainly have absolutely no idea what school is for.

They seem to have got it into their heads that teachers are employed to prepare kids for life as an adult.

Really? So why teach kids science?

Knowing the chemical symbol for salt is of no use if you want to become a cruise director, have rumpy pumpy with a Latvian woman, or make a cappuccino.

In fact, all of chemistry is only of any use if you are planning on becoming a suicide bomber.

And what’s the point of math? No one needs to be able to do long division because even the cheapest cell phone now comes with a calculator for free.
French? No. No one in all of human history has ever needed to say: “Where is the soap” or “attack.”

The fact is that kids aren’t taught this stuff because it sets them up for life as an adult. They are taught it so that they can pass exams. Which helps employers and universities decide which ones are bright and which ones are going to end up being in charge of a climbing wall.

The only things I learned at school which have been useful in adult life did not come from the teachers at all. They are:

The importance of friendship
Drinking 12 beers and eating a chicken vindaloo will make you vomit
Any girl named Sally Pool is probably a bitch
Twitter?……………………Twitter my arse.

Time to answer some more questions and again my apologies for the delay in doing so.

Ralf Asked:
Hi John,
Please do reply
Great blog again.
My condolences to Captain Pagano.
Hope he is doing well. The woman’s letter hurt him very much. Your comment “imagine if it was a member of your family” does say everything. Selfish people (only one) again.
Reading you flying out of Belize mentioning Jimmy Brick, I would have had trouble watching his R-Rated show too. I met him three times as English is not my first language I am already running into trouble understanding the regular show because of his accent.

Only 31 days until Freedom. Sailing from Port Everglades on April 25th. My No 16 on Carnival,
No 5 on Freedom. TA in 2007, 28 days April 2008. I booked Freedom after Carnival cancelled TA on Liberty MIAMI-DOVER on April 25th. Two new Ports Antigua and Tortola.

ACD James: Is he the guy nicknamed sexy James?
Do you know Nortek still being onboard?

Finalizing my paperwork ESTA, APIS (for travelling to US from abroad), Fun Pass and My documents today, I found out my dining has been “waitlisted”. What happened? Are they implementing open seating dining? I wanted Late Dining and a large table. John please can you assist? Ralf Trahe, Booking—–, Cabin No —.

Yours
Ralf

John Says:
Hello Ralf
Thanks for the kind words for Captain Pagano, I know he appreciates them very much. You will have a wonderful time on the Carnival Freedom. I know you were very disappointed when we cancelled the Carnival Liberty’s cruise to Dover however I know you will enjoy so much the ports of Antigua and Tortola. The assistant cruise director is indeed James “Sexy” Dunn and he will be joined by Carnival’s top cruise director Todd Wittmer. You asked about Noortje…………..she is currently assistant cruise director on the Carnival Liberty. Regarding your waitlist comment regarding your dining reservation, I’m told that this is a technical glitch in our reservations system but the IT folks are looking into it and as soon as I hear anything, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, I will indeed ask the maitre d if we can help with your table request as mentioned above.
Vielen Dank und eine schoene Tag
Prost!
John

Rick Asked:
Hello John,

(Please Reply)

Hope your day is well and everything is fine with Heidi and the little one.

I have been checking in on your blogs and enjoying your posts for a while now, they often make me smile or laugh. Thank you for taking the time to enlighten and give insight to the industry to everyone that reads your blog.

Our next cruise is the Conquest on April 19th, 2009, we are in room 9205. If my PVP calls me with the right number we will be back in a category twelve. On our September cruise we did not receive our in room treats I had ordered for sail away until we were underway. Is there a way to make certain the Bon Voyage department has them there when we are allowed in our suite?

I noticed that you have posted a link for who the cruise directors should be on upcoming CCL cruises. It’s nice for those of us that have cruised before to know who will be running things. Do you think there might be a chance of posting a link to either current or upcoming Capers for the different ships?

I want to book two nights in The Point, one is for a special occasion for my wife. If I knew the current formal nights I could book around that, ensure our reservations and not have to worry they might be booked when we board.

Something we would deeply enjoy would be having private table for two in the main dining room. We have never had any luck with the Maître’ D, even after a decent tip. Is there a way to arrange this prior to boarding or is it possible to pay a premium for this? I know I would be willing to pay for the privilege of a table for two and would also think others might be willing to do the same.

On another note, Jeanne and I have been on quite a few cruises with Carnival and some others in your ever growing stable of brands and we have always had a grand time. Even when special requests or schedules cannot be made or kept, we have always made the best of it and the employees have always gone above and beyond to help make it that way.

Have a great day and keep up the great blogging,

Rick

John Says:
Hello Rick
Thanks for the kind words about the blog and I am so glad you are enjoying it. I am so sorry that you have had concerns previously with our Bon Voyage department. I have heard this from another blogger recently and I can assure you that the head of this department is taking these comments very seriously. I have already forwarded your cabin number to her and she will personally guarantee that your deliveries are there. I will send your request to the Conquest maitre d and he will do his very best to get you a table for two in the dining room and there is certainly not a charge for this. The formal or elegant nights are:
Galveston, TX;
Fun Day at Sea; – ELEGANT NIGHT
Fun Day at Sea;
Montego Bay, Jamaica;
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands;
Cozumel, Mexico;
Fun Day at Sea; – ELEGANT NIGHT
Galveston, TX
So, you can reserve your table at the Supper Club according to this schedule. I can help if need be.
I hope this helps and I will as stated see what I can do about getting you a table for two
My best to you and the family
John

Melody Asked:

John {{{{Please respond}}}}

I’m still awaiting the June 2010 schedule for New Orleans. My group is growing and they are waving money! We still want the Bahamas itinerary. If you could be so kind and research this, let me know……OH! Do you have Mr. Cahill’s email address? If so, can I have it?

We are heading to your homeland in August. Send tips and places not to be missed to my email.

Thanks,
Melody

John Says:
Hello Melody
Let’s start with New Orleans and the Carnival Triumph. I want to make sure I give you the correct information so I will check with Miami and as soon as they tell me what’s happening I will let you know. I promise to have some news for you very soon. I am sure you realize that I cannot give out any other staff members e-mail address but if you have correspondence for him please send it to me here at the blog thingy. I won’t post it but will pass it directly to him for you. You will love the UK…………..you must see.
THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT AND BIG BEN
TAKE A TOUR OF THE TOWER OF LONDON AND THE CROWN JEWELS
ST PAULS CATHEDRAL
TAKE A TOUR INSIDE BUCKINGHAM PALACE
SHOP AT PENNY LANE MARKET AND HARRODS
AVOID THE LONDON EYE – IT’S A RIP OFF
EAT SPOTTED DICK
I will be back to you soon.
Cheers
John

Julie Gantt Asked:
JOHN PLEASE REPLY

Hi John,

I was wondering about the regulation or law that doesn’t permit a ship to go from one United States port to another without “going foreign” in between. Why is that? Who should us bloggers write to get that law changed? I was also looking at the itinerary of some of the Alaska cruises, which I hope some day to enjoy. I see they stop in Skagway AK, then on to Ketchikan AK, or Kita AK to Juneau AK. Are those considered United States ports? Does the ship sail “foreign waters” between them? Anyway, I was just curious; it seems so dumb not to be able to enjoy one US costal city after another on a fabulous Carnival cruise. I apologize if you have already addressed this in the blog and I missed it.)
My Best to you, Heidi and the babe.
Julie Gantt

John Says:
Hello Julie
Oh Julie……….The ports you mentioned are exempt from the Jones Act and often we are sailing from a Canadian port as well. You are correct; if this law did not exist then we could visit different ports along the US. I am sure that when this law first came into effect that the people with beards who drew them up had their reasons for doing so …….. but these days………….well………….it really does seem a bit antiquated. Regardless, you should try and cruise to Alaska………..it is simply stunning
Good Luck Julie
Cheers
John

Mort13ers Asked:

John/Stephanie for John/Please reply
Well I cannot believe it is almost here, I always get excited for a cruise, but even more so since I am coming back ”HOME” to Carnival. We head out on the Freedom, Sunday 4/5 and per your reply from last year, you wanted me to remind you a few days before we sail. As per usual, we have had some friends Join us, 2 Families and my wife’s co worker. (All have never sailed Carnival Before). I don not know if its been the long cold winter up here in Boston or Just the memories of the service and laughter I have had on all my Carnival cruises, I cannot wait for the “Freedom”. I’m also looking forward to experience the VIP perks for the first time as the program was not in place the last time I cruised Carnival. I know I am sending this a little early but we are heading down to Fort Lauderdale Early to enjoy some much needed Sunshine, and if I bring my Laptop, My wife has stated it may wind up somewhere that is not accessible…
John, please enjoy one of the most important events in your life, best wishes for health and happiness for Heidi, thingy, and yourself……….
Thanks for all you do for the “Carnival Family”
Paul Moriarty AKA (Mort13ers)
(Original Reply from Post on 2/26/08)MORT13ERS……………A huge sense of disappointment washed over me at the end of your fantastic posting. I am so glad that you and the family cancelled your RCI cruise and have instead booked the Carnival Freedom after many years away from the “Fun Ship” experience. Your memories of Eddie Capone and the Male Nightgown contest are ones I share with you mate and I have to say you will be astounded at the changes we have made onboard since you left us. The fun is here waiting for you and if you can remind me a few days before you sail I would appreciate it very much. Welcome home and my disappointment is that I will not be here to share in your family vacation with you……………maybe next time. My best to you all.

John Says:
Hello Paul
Well, it’s nearly here and I am nearly as excited as you because I know that the changes we have made and continue to make here at Carnival will have you wishing you came home to us sooner. Please let me know about your “Fun Ship” experience when you get back. Thanks for the reminder mate and I wish all of you the most wonderful time on the Carnival Freedom
Cheers
John

Christine Asked:
Hi John Please Reply!!!
Please let me start by saying I love your blog. Recently discovered it from Cruise Critic. I was just howling at your description of the British futbol player using coupons at a restaurant. BWAH!!! I’ve never cruised Carnival before, have cruised RCCL and NCL each once, but am sooo excited for my 4/5 Valor cruise. Will we be having (*#&$*# or Big Tex as CD?

Anyway, I saw someone post before about being waitlisted for their dining time, and I had a question about that too. Our cruise docs say we are waitlisted for late dining on the 4/5 Valor cruise. My husband and I will probably have to forego eating in the dining room if we get early dining because, seriously, we are young and not quite ready for the early bird special. 😉
I always thought that you didn’t get your dining time until embarkation, so I’m also curious what this “WAITLISTED” means. I really hope it means they aren’t going to stick us with noon dinner!!! Would love to know if you know anything about that.

Lastly, I just wanted to say that I love reading your stories of customer support. I also work in a leadership role in customer support and have to deal with the absolute wackiest of wacky, and your stories inspire me to lay the smack down a bit more. LOL!!!

Christine

John Says:
Hello Christine
I am so happy you discovered our blog thingy and you are most welcome here at the fun ships of Carnival. Your cruise director will indeed be Big Tex and you will have loads of fun with him and the staff, I wish I could be there with you. It seems that a few folks have received this waitlisted thing so I will investigate this technical glitch with the IT folks a bit further…………. Welcome to Carnival and have a fantastic cruise……………..oh, try Scarlett’s Supper Club………….it’s brilliant and it’s the only place on board where you have to pay for a steak.
Cheers
John

Phil & Cheryl Asked:
Please reply
John, I so much enjoy reading your blog, It takes me back to the 3 times we sailed with you, a few years ago, on the Sensation, Imagination and Destiny. Soon we will once again enjoy Malcolm, this time on the Miracle out of New York. I have been reading about a coffee discount card on Cruise Critic. Can you explain this card, please?
Thanks so much for all the fun you have provided us thru the yrs both on the ships and on the blog. God Bless you, Heidi and Thingy.
Thanks,

Cheryl

John Says:
Hello Phil and Cheryl
I wish I could be with you to make it a fourth cruise together. You will love Malcolm in the Middle as your CD as you will the Carnival Miracle. I am not sure where the folks who posted the coffee discount information on the boards got the facts from as we do not have a coffee discount scheme on any of our ships. We tried this on one ship but it was not successful so we did not go any further with it. We do though have the best coffee and you must try the milk shakes.
Thanks for taking the time to write. Have a wonderful cruise
Cheers
John

Semper Fi Asked:
John please reply
just a quick question
currently carnival offers the Sea Side theatre on the Conquest class, Splendor and soon the Dream. Does Carnival have any plans in the future to add this amazing feature to other class of ships??

Thanks

Bill

John Says:
Hello Bill
At this time the Seaside Big Screen Theatre is only on the Destiny, Conquest and Splendor class and it will be on the Carnival Dream and Carnival Magic, as well. Because of the logistics of placing these huge screens on Lido Deck, there are no plans at present to add this brilliant feature to the Fantasy or Spirit class of ships. Hope all is well mate
Semper Fi
John

Peg Dunbar Asked:
Good afternoon John, loved the videos so much. The Splendor is my all time favorite ship. I loved hearing you and seeing you once again. Honestly, nobody does it better than you do. Looking forward to the rest of the video(s).

I do have one question, please respond. What is Jaime’s new position for Carnival? She was the first crew that welcomed us on our cruise last September. On the last day of our cruise, Mike had asked her for the football results. That evening Jaime knocked on our Stateroom door with the results. I can’t tell you how much we loved that she was on our cruise, she really is the professional. I can see her going very far with Carnival. I hope she continues with her Dear John reports; they are always a joy to read.

The LA cops should have known who you were. Where on earth have they been, under a rock?

Keep smiling John; you truly are one of the good guys.

My best to Heidi and the baby.

John Says:
Hello Peg
I am so glad you liked the videos and I promise there will be many more soon. Jaime will soon be going on vacation after which she will return to the Carnival Pride as ACD (assistant cruise director.) You mentioned the extra thing she did for you and that along with much more of the same is why the skies the limit for this young lady. I know she is looking forward to writing more Dear John letters soon. Thanks so much for all your kind words and I remain here at your service
Best wishes
John

Bobby Asked:
Hi John, PLEASE REPLY. This is in reply to my message to you about early dinning because my father is unable to eat later in the evening. You asked for name and cabin number it’s under my dad’s name, William cabin number — for the Carnival Valor on May 31. My dad asked not to post our last name or cabin number on your blog. My parents and I are looking forward for this cruise I know Carnival will make it a great one, wish you were the cruise director. Thank you for your help. P.S. Good luck on the thingy.
Bobby

John Says:
Hello Bobby
Thanks for this and I will now contact the ship to see what we can do to make sure you get the sitting of your choice.
My best to you all and I wish I could be with you
Cheers
John

Florine Erbland Asked:
John, I have never blogged before. I was on the Valor on March 8-15 and it was a pleasure to see you. Can you tell me what song that lady sang in the Passenger Talent show? She was black and she had a beautiful voice. Also is it too late to buy a copy of the DVD from that particular cruise? Thanks so much, Florine Erbland

John Says:
Hello Florine
It is always a pleasure to hear from first time posters to the blog thing and you are very welcome. I am afraid it is too late to buy a copy of the DVD as we don’t keep the master copies longer than a week. I think the song you are referring to was the Nina Simone song My Baby Just Cares for Me. Now, it was a few weeks ago and I may be thinking of another performer but certainly I remember this lady and I am pretty sure she performed on the cruise you were on. If it’s another song please let me know and I will research this a bit more
Thanks for posting and I truly hope it will not be the last time you do so
Cheers
John

cruzn buckeye (edy) Asked:
Hi John! Please reply
Another funny blog as usual! You always keep us smiling! I will be on my 20th Carnival cruise on September 11 on the Carnival Liberty. I was on a Carnival cruise during the tragic 9/11 event. Carnival took very good care of us. I remember the maitre’d saying “There are crew members onboard from 47 different countries but today we are all Americans”. How touching. When the waiters sang “God Bless America” everyone in the dining room stood and sang with them. There were many tears flowing. And a time that I will never forget.

This will be my first time on the Carnival Liberty and I am very excited about boarding a ship that I have not been on. It will also be the first ship that I have been on that has the big screen on the lido deck. I have read that the pool side big screen is now being used a lot during the daytime to play music or show tropical pictures…sounds great! I was just wondering…I am a huge Jimmy Buffet fan…the reason being his music being so dedicated to the islands! How I would love to have him do a show on the cruise….while I know that will not happen…what about a Jimmy Buffet concert on the big screen on the lido deck? Now, that would be fun!!!
Also, the other thing I was wanting to tell you, is to have a wonderful, safe, journey home to Heidi and your Thingy! I am sure you are so excited you must feel like you are going to burst! I know that Heidi will be so happy to have you home with her!
Here’s wishing you safe travels and good times!
John (please reply) oops sorry John, my last comment left yesterday…well. Must have been half asleep…Our Liberty cruise in Sept. is actually Sept. 19th 2009.
The Sept. 11 cruise is on the Dream in 2010!
Just wanted to make sure you don’t think I am a little loopy!

Edy

John Says:
Hello Edy
If you ask anyone who was onboard a Carnival ship during 9/11 they will all have stories such as yours of people coming together.
I see you are very excited about your forthcoming Carnival Liberty cruise and before that the Carnival Dream in 2009. I will certainly see what I can do to provide you with some Jimmy Buffet music whilst onboard both these great ships.
Actually, I thought I would paste my own memories of 9/11 as first written in a blog of two years ago dated April 2 2007
Here it is
Best Wishes
John

Each time I write one of these blog things I usually have some idea what I am going to write about before I sit down, however I find myself tonight second guessing myself if I should continue with what I want to tell all my blogger friends tonight ………… but after chatting with Heidi about it I have decided to go ahead and write it anyway.

One of the questions posted on last week’s blog thingy was “What was the most difficult thing you have ever had to do as a cruise director?” Well there are many humorous stories which I could tell you (and probably will sometime) but when I seriously analyzed that question there is only one honest answer to this and that’s why I am uncertain about writing the answer on this blog thingy. If this upsets anyone, I offer my heartfelt apologies.

I will never forget that day as I am sure none of you will either. We were aboard the Carnival Triumph, I was in the cabin, in the shower, when Heidi walked in the bathroom and said, “Think you had better get out of the shower, something terrible has happened.” My immediate thoughts were “family” and as I jumped out of the shower I could see that my usually calm wife was ashen white. I looked at the television as like millions of others, I watched the world change. I sat, aghast, watching the image of smoke pouring out of the top of one of the familiar Manhattan buildings. I sat glued to the images coming via satellite across the Pacific.

On CNN – or was it a feed from NBC? I forget – the commentators were speculating wildly about the cause. Several minutes passed. Then in a blur, a small dark object flashed in from the right of the screen. The second tower belched flame and debris from its middle.

Oh, no…
Oh, no… Please no.
This can’t be real. This mustn’t be real. It is too hideous to imagine.

My wife joined me watching on the main television changing between the four live transmissions from the US that the ship’s satellite was receiving… They showed the second impact again — in slow motion. How many people were there in the buildings? Who was doing this?

Then CNN crossed live to a new picture. I don’t know how much time had passed. It was the Pentagon, they said. It was billowing with gray smoke. War.

I sat holding Heidi’s hand hoping that any minute that someone would say that this was a trailer for some Hollywood action picture…….but they never did. I seemed to be in a trance, then Heidi looked at me and I will never forget what she said…..John, you need to tell the passengers.

It was just after breakfast time and the Carnival Triumph was sailing the Western Caribbean spending the day at sea heading to Grand Cayman. I was due on stage in an hour to tell the guests about the fantastic beaches of Cayman and the fabulous Dunns River falls in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. I called the Captain, one of my best friends, Angelo Los, and told him what was happening and that I was heading to his cabin. I remember walking out of the cabin to the elevator passing crew members who also had no idea what was happening each greeting me with a cheery “good morning” which I tried my best to reply to.

I reached Captain Los’s cabin and we both for some reason “hugged” we spoke no words. Just hugged………It was one of those moments where it seemed the natural thing to do. I headed for the bridge to make the announcement. I imagined everyone having breakfast on Lido, sunning themselves in the already searing Caribbean heat, laughing and joking with their families or having a late morning in the cabin after a night of fun in Cozumel. I was about to change the memories of their vacation forever.

I pressed the emergency button which sends the announcement into every guest and crew cabin and every public area…………….The bing bong of the PA sounded ……………… and I told 3,000 guests and 1,000 crew.

A lot of what happened after that is a blur, but here are some random memories.
I had the news playing all day on the big screen in the main lounge as guests watched, cried and prayed together.

I remember sitting with the Cabrini family from New York who were on the cruise to celebrate an anniversary. Their son was a New York Fire Officer, they were inconsolable as they tried to contact him……….I never new did find out but will always remember sitting with the family in their cabin, 6242, a cabin that if I ever pass now on any ship the memories return

I remember how hard it was for the families onboard like the Cabrini’s who because of the flying restrictions could not get off the ship.

I remember calling my Mum and Dad who were worried about me.

I remember holding a Q and A session in the main lounge and one guest wanting to “arm himself” and buy a gun in Jamaica because we “are at war.” I remember arriving in Cayman the next day and most guests not getting off the ship. They just watched the TV’s and waited

It was then that I had the most difficult choice I have ever had to make as a cruise director. Should I continue with the program of shows, fun and activities or like Letterman and Leno or cancel the shows? I agonized over this for hours and finally I made a decision. I called all the guests into the main showroom after sailing from Cayman and before dinner….it was 5 pm. Every seat was taken; guests were standing and sitting on the floor and the stage. I was very nervous as I said that it was my belief that if we cancelled all the ”FUN SHIP ” entertainment that indeed whoever had committed these horrendous acts would be the winners and in a miniscule way they would have beaten us. I asked the audience if they agreed……….I had no idea what their reaction would be……the answer? STANDING OVATION.

And so the cruise continued and even though the tears continued every show, every joke, every piece of music was greeted with applause and laughter like I have not heard since. I wish I had the names of every guest who was with me that cruise so I could say thank you for helping me get through this most difficult time I have ever had as a cruise director.

Frank Asked:
Hi John, Please respond,
Hi I emailed you a couple of weeks ago about my wife being a high school teacher and this cruise meaning so much too her along with your blog. She has spent the last few nights trying to read back and catch up on your posts. I had asked you if you could send her a little hello or something to our cabin which would help make her cruise seeing were both big fans of you and your blog. She just loves your humor with her being English also. You had said you would and to please let you know the week prior. Something about you have the memory of Swiss cheese?? Well we leave next week on April 6th on the Miracle. Cabin — our reservation number is —-. Thank so much. Oh As I type this she is reading your post about the “friends of Dorothy” and as you fainted she too is on the floor now laughing hysterically. Thanks so much John we really look forward to hearing about your reunion with Heidi and the thingy.

John Says:
Hello Frank
Thanks for the reminder and I will make it so.
Cheers
John

Jay Asked:
john (please reply)
This is my third or forth attempt at shamelessly getting something for free. (I forgot to ask to “please reply” before. We are loyal CCL cruisers who last sailed with you this summer on the Splendor on the 2nd cruise around the Baltic. We were looking forward to sailing with you again on the Valor. We leave on 03/29/09/. Room 1044. You have left us high and dry and of course incredibly disappointed. Any gift sent to our room will correct our problem. We will be on board in about 11 hours and sincerely hope you can alleviate our concerns. We are meeting with the other Cruise critic members at 2:00 and any gift to be shared will be advertised.

Thanks, unless you fail to pay up 🙂

John Says:
Hello Jay
Where I come from you would be referred to as a “cheeky git” but as they say, you don’t ask you get bugger all.
Cheers
John

That’s all for now. Please let me know if you need my help with anything by starting your posted comment with “John, please reply.”

OK, let’s do the news starting with the Carnival Ecstasy.

WATER PARK, ADULTS-ONLY RETREAT, RESORT-STYLE POOL, 98 BALCONIES HIGHLIGHT CARNIVAL ECSTASY’S REFURBISHMENT THIS FALL

Multi-Million-Dollar Renovation to Take Place During 28-Day Dry Dock;Continues Line’s Extensive Upgrade for Fantasy-Class Vessels

MIAMI (March 30, 2009) – The 2,052-passenger Carnival Ecstasy will undergo an extensive, multi-million-dollar refurbishment this fall that will include the addition of an expansive new water park, an exclusive adults-only retreat, a Circle “C” facility for 12- to 14-year olds, and a redesigned resort-style main pool area. Additionally, 98 balconies will be added to existing ocean view staterooms.

The refurbishment, which will take place during a 28-day dry dock from September 19 to October 17, 2009, continues a series of major upgrades to the line’s eight Fantasy-class vessels.

Carnival Ecstasy will be the second ship to have additional balconies added following the success of a similar implementation on the Carnival Sensation earlier this year.

Carnival Ecstasy operates year-round four- and five-day western Caribbean cruises from the Port of Galveston. On this route, four-day cruises depart Thursdays and visit Cozumel while five-day voyages depart Mondays and Saturdays and call at Cozumel and Progreso.

“With a host of new open deck attractions and 98 new balcony staterooms, we’re providing Carnival Ecstasy guests with opportunities for even more memorable vacation experiences,” said Roberta Jacoby, Carnival’s senior vice president of hotel operations.

“Plus with today’s consumers seeking more affordable, close-to-home vacations, adding these exciting new features makes a four- and five-day cruise on Carnival Ecstasy from Galveston an even greater value,” she added.
Exciting Open Deck Features

A signature element of the Fantasy-class upgrades is Carnival WaterWorks, a fun-filled aqua park located on Verandah Deck. Designed with an all-ages appeal, WaterWorks encompasses a 300-foot-long twisting, turning water slide – the longest and most elaborate at sea – along with dual-lane 82-foot-long racing slides, and a wide variety of water spray toys.

In addition, Carnival Ecstasy’s main pool on Lido Deck – which includes a swimming pool and two large whirlpools – will be totally transformed to feature a distinct resort-style ambiance. Vibrant oversized umbrellas, thatched roofing and colorful tile work will create a decidedly tropical feel.

Exclusive Adults-Only Retreat

Another new feature on the Carnival Ecstasy will be Serenity, the line’s popular adults-only retreat located aft on Promenade Deck. With design elements that include teak decking, large umbrellas and thatched roofing, Serenity provides an ocean-going oasis for relaxation and comfort. Guests can enjoy icy cocktails and frozen drinks while relaxing in plush chaise lounges and chairs. Food service is available in the casual Panorama Bar & Grill located nearby.

Ninety-Eight More Balconies

Private balconies will be added to 98 existing ocean view staterooms on the Carnival Ecstasy to create spacious new 230-square-foot accommodations. Sixty-two of the staterooms will be located aft – with several of these featuring extended balconies – while 24 others will be located mid-ship and 12 near the stern. Several of the Carnival Ecstasy’s suites will be modified to feature larger, extended balconies.

Other Enhancements

Also included in the Carnival Ecstasy’s refurbishment will be the addition of a new Circle “C” center aimed at the 12- to 14-year-old set. Located on Atlantic Deck 8, the facility will include plasma screen televisions displaying movies and music videos, a high-tech sound and lighting system, gaming consoles and a touch-screen jukebox.

Additionally, all of the ship’s 1,026 staterooms will be upgraded with new plasma screen TVs as well as updated wall coverings, tile work, carpeting and light fixtures.
Extensive cosmetic enhancements will be made to virtually all public rooms and areas, with new upholstery, furniture, and wall coverings incorporated into the Blue Sapphire main show lounge, Neon Bar piano bar, Stripes dance club, the poolside Panorama Bar & Grill and Wind Song and Wind Star main dining rooms. In addition to refurbished elevators and elevator lobbies as well as new lighting and carpeting in the atrium, Carnival Ecstasy’s Internet café will be relocated to Empress Deck and new workstations will be included. Public restrooms and guest corridors will be renovated, as well.

Reservations are currently being accepted for the Carnival Ecstasy’s four- and five-day western Caribbean cruises from Galveston. For additional information and reservations contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com.

How about that. A water park, new pool and so much more. The new balconies on the Carnival Sensation are extraordinary and in case you missed them before here’s what they will look like as we show you the same configuration here on the Carnival Sensation.

sensationbalconies1

sensationbalconies2

sensationbalconies3

There will be more dry dock news from other ships soon.

Let’s talk now about Australia

I love the Aussies. I also hate them because they are better at cricket and get to go to work in shorts. You really should go if you can.

I’ll tell you why – because Australia is the most exciting country in the world! If the planet were a big theme park, Oz would be the corkscrew rollercoaster – thrilling, full of extremes, incredible to look at, you never know what might lurk round the corner It is like God has taken all the most dangerous and exciting things and dumped them on one big island, out of harm’s way, thousands of miles away from the rest of us. Crocs, spiders that bite you in the arse while you are having a number two and you can’t even put your shoes on without running the risk of a deadly spider hiding in the laces. Of course, Australians will tell you that these things don’t bother them, but deep down you can tell that they wear these dangerous beasties as a badge of honor.
Well the king croc of cruising down under is of course part of the Carnival family ………… the “bonze” (www.urbandictionary.com) of cruise lines………….P&O Cruises Australia managed by a ripper of a sheila (www.urbandictionary.com) Ann Sherry. I interviewed Ann in June of last year and please pop back and have a read and find out more about this wonderful and very funny lady………here’s the link thingy.
http://johnhealdsblog.com/2008/06/17/its-not-a-dreambut-it-is-a-brilliant-voyage-down-under/

Anyway, the reason I am mentioning this is because P&O Australia have joined the blogging world and will now become part of bestblogsatsea.com. For now though, here is the link to their site and I urge you all to stop by and see just how things are done down under as we sail onboard the pacificdawn.pocruises.com.au.

There you will find Andrew the hotel director as he reports on life on board. His blogs are really well written and include dinner menus and loads of fun photos
Good luck Andrew ……………except in the cricket.

Andrew now joins James, Alistair and others all of whom are allowing us a wonderful opportunity to go behind the door marked crew only………….I hope you are all enjoying it.

Now……………….how did your Carnival Funday Sunday parties go? Oh how I wish I could have been there with you. Early reports from our marketing department tell us that we had 8,000 people across North America host one of these brilliant events and it even made Mr. Gene Sloan’s USA Today column…………here it is

“Cruise fans nationwide gear up for night of Carnival-sponsored ‘house parties’“- click to read the entire article.

As I couldn’t be with you I was wondering if some or all of you could send me a report posting here on the blog. If you could also send me one photo as well we ……….well Stephanie………will put them all together and we will post a collection of them over the weekend. So, please send me your reports with one photo and I know everyone at Carnival will love to see them as I know will all of us. My sincere thanks to everyone who took the time to do this and I hope you all had a Carnival-style Funday Sunday ………………….can’t wait to see the photos.

Talking of photos here is one of John Mayer with the captain and officers of the Carnival Splendor. The young lady is Charlene, ship’s groups coordinator, who sent me this great photo.

photos-0041

I have seen quite a few comments here on the blog and on the cruise boards (my mate Hostmach will I am sure share the link with us all on his comment posting) regarding many people who have suddenly realized that Carnival’s value for money product is so brilliant. People are writing that they have seen the way other lines are trying to survive the current economic downturn by cutting the product onboard.

I won’t bother to list the items that they are cutting but instead just wish to say this. Affordable fun has never been so important and as our President and CEO Gerry Cahill said just last week on the Carnival Splendor cutting the product or its marketing is not what we intend to do. So, to all the people who have written to me and that have posted on the boards saying that they have cancelled cruises with other lines I say thank you and I promise the affordable fun you so desperately deserve is ready and waiting for you.

It’s great to be home. Heidi looks amazing and I cannot get over how big her belly is ……….I mean I literally can’t get over her belly and God knows I tried last night. We are both very happy to be together again and being apart was not easy. However, I am here now and we have some very important things to do such as discuss the birthing plan, tour the hospital to see where the Thingy will be born and visit the new toilet museum.

Yep, At Gladstone Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent there is a new toilet museum and I really want to go on Friday but of course Heidi refuses. You wander round a room charting the evolution of the toilet from a hole in the ground, through the invention of a porcelain bowl complete with waste water being used to flush it, right through to the future – a machine that analyzes your deposits and orders more bran should your diet be considered deficient in this area. If things look really bad it will notify your doctor.

This sounds terrifying – every time you go you wait anxiously, hoping the doctor won’t turn up at your door. The humble toilet, like the French, has a long and complicated history ….but they’re both still filled with the same end product.

Here is a photo of our front door complete with welcome balloons and a photo of Heidi and the Thingy and thanks so much for all your wonderful words of kindness and love.

fromt-door

heidi

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.