Vive Le Pere

April 2, 2009 -

John Heald

My preparation being a parent continues and Heidi has decided that to help me along I should read a glossy magazine called “Dad.” The article at the start of the magazine says a man should not be panicked by the sight of his heavily pregnant partner up a ladder painting the ceiling because this is a typical female response to the burst of energy that comes before childbirth.

It also suggests that men should persuade their partners to hand over the paintbrush and allow them to take over strenuous chores. It also advises men that, just after their child’s birth, they should expect to put in 10 hours of cuddling and helping to get 10 minutes of sex………………………no change there then.

However my favorite part of the magazine is this extremely difficult test that I will now painstakingly type out for you all to take.

Some questions from the Are You Ready to be a Father? quiz:

1 To get ready for fatherhood, you
a) get some beers in
b) read books on baby care
c) immerse yourself in work
d) talk to other fathers about it

2 At the birth, you hope to be able to
a) be there and cut the cord
b) slip out unnoticed
c) stay conscious
d) get pissed down the pub

3 What do you consider your most important role after the birth will be?
a) Looking after your partner
b) Learning how to care for baby
c) Making sure the bills are paid
d) Lighting the cigars

4 You’re shopping with your pregnant partner. Target number 1 is
a) one of those three-wheeler buggies
b) a Cuban cigar
c) a safe car seat
d) nappies, clothes and bedding

And no, dads do not have to be sad. Alongside the full-page advertisements for designer clothes, Dad has a fashion shoot of “six stylish fathers” and their children dressed in all the latest logo clothing. The fathers are all ordinary lads, of course: a music producer, a model, a film actor, a commercial director, a motor mechanic and a milkman. (Guess which two of those I made up.) There are plenty of plugs for helping your partner to breastfeed but no mention of what is the biggest help you can provide according to Heidi…………and that’s giving the Thingy a bottle in the middle of the night.

The “10 tips to keep your baby healthy” amounts to another patronizing lecture about giving up smoking, cutting down on drink and not dropping your baby in boiling water.

However, it was the letters page that really has me worried. One new father writes in Dad how the birth of his child has opened up “a world of emotion.”

“Now, ravaged by sleepless nights, I cry all the time, my bowels smell evil (postnatal stress), and I can’t lift my head off the pillow without help.”

It seems fatherhood has turned this particular man into a baby himself. Reading that should has given me pre-natal depression and made my hemorrhoids itch more than ever before.

So to try and get myself ready for the Thingy to arrive I have decided to go to the local gym. I hate gyms. In reception, you have to fill in a form: “Are you a man aged over 35?

Are you on prescription medication? Do you have erratic exercise habits?” The answer to all these questions is “Yes.”

As a teenager, I tried to row, but rowing isn’t a sport; it’s more a form of masochism. Now, my only exercise is being chased around the stage by Mary in the Bedtime Story and walking to outside to smoke the occasional cigar. I hate forms. If someone wants to run himself to death on the running machine, like a demented hamster making a final bid for glory, I say let him do it – especially if he is a banker who has just stolen all my money. I lie to every question, including the one that asks if I’m pregnant. I say I’m carrying twins.

I go and lift weights. A huge man bench-presses 300 kg three times. Then he sits grumpily staring at himself in the mirror……….the barrel-chested bastard. I notice a studio where people are playing music and stretching and doing all the things people do in their forties, now they’re too old to go to nightclubs or have rumpy pumpy. I decided to try the body-conditioning class, where you lift lightweights to music. It turns out I’m the only man there. Guys must lift proper weights, or everyone thinks you like George Michael.

At the end of the class, I’m not sure my body has been conditioned. I lie on the floor in a pool of sweat, like a big walrus that has flopped out of the swimming pool. But afterwards, I feel good. Okay, I can’t actually walk but Heidi says she is proud of me. The gym sends me a leaflet. You pay only £30 for the first month. But if you die in that time, you do have to pay for the whole year……….LA Fitness………. my arse.

Well as the uncertainty of the economy continues to make watching the news as unattractive as the inside of a skunk the Italian shipyards continue to bristle with work and endeavor. As we speak there is much work being done for it is going to be a very busy few months.

First we have the two new Costa ships the fabulously named Costa Luminosa and her sister ship the Costa Pacifica………………..the 13th and 14th vessels of the Costa fleet. These ships will be named on the same day…………..June 5th………….and I have been asked to attend and share this unique experience with you all. For a preview of these two stunning vessels I wanted to share these links with you.

They are two ships celebrating light and music and I am excited to be able to see them for myself and for you.

Also in Fincantieri’s Sestri yard near Genoa, Italy, the hull of Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam was towed around the foot of Italy to their yard in Venice. Please have a look at Holland Americas brilliant blog which has some stunning photos of this new vessel beginning to take shape. Here is the link thingy.

A ship that many people are excited about is of course the world’s most luxurious cruise ship………the Seabourn Odyssey. She is being built at the T. Mariotti Shipyard in Genoa.

To find out more and to see the latest photos please click on this link

It also seems appropriate that we mention Queen Elizabeth…………we will be mentioning Her Majesty later in this blog thingy but now I am talking about her namesake………….the new Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth. To say that there is much excitement about her arrival is a massive understatement but even I had no idea just how excited the people who love Cunard were. One man probably did know because he has a total and complete understanding of all things Cunard and that is our Chief UK Reporter and Carnival UK’s Commercial Director Peter Shanks who last night sent me this breaking news.


Hope you are well – some news to knock your socks off – and being the 1st
April this is not an April Fool !

Today saw the worldwide release of the first 6 Queen Elizabeth voyages from
October 2010 – we went on sale worldwide at 1300 British Standard Time for
our valued past guests. So we started the day here in Southampton not quite
knowing what to expect. Here we are with a fabulous new ship to put on sale
– with very keen interest from our valued past guests around the world ,
but in the middle of a tough recession. What was going to happen – we were
about to find out. We also had the memory of putting the Final QE2 Farewell
voyage on sale back in 2007 – which sold out in an astonishing 36 minutes.
Surely we could not do better than that.

We ran a sweepstake around the office – with half the money going to
Cunard’s partner charity – The Prince’s Trust. We went out and bought
enough chocolate to keep the reservations team happy and awake for hours.
We woke our IT colleagues up early and gave them an extra big breakfast to
make sure they had all of our selling systems at the ready. Then – at 1300
worldwide – we took a deep breath and opened up for sale.

After 9 minutes we had booked a thousand passengers. And after just 29
minutes and 14 seconds (exactly) – the maiden voyage was full. We had
bookings from around the world. After two hours we had filled over 50% of
the 6 voyage programme – as I write we are still busy.

To sell the Queen Elizabeth maiden faster than the Final QE2 farewell is
just a wonderful moment. All of us at Cunard still cherish the memories of
the QE2. We are confident that Queen Elizabeth will be a worthy successor
to her in every way. To see the level and support from our Cunarders is
just terrific. Now of course – one of the disappointing facts is that we
were not able to satisfy everybody who wanted to book the maiden. However
it is very pleasing that they are booking the other maiden season voyages
and they too will be part of something very special.

So amongst the doom and gloom and tough economic environment – all of us at
Cunard and many of our valued guests – enjoyed 29 minutes and 14 seconds of
sheer joy today. That makes us feel good – and blessed with having such a
wonderful brand and such valued guests.

So – if any of your bloggers would still like to be part of history – then
there is still time to get onboard one of the remaining maiden season
voyages – don’t take too long to make your mind up.

Attached is the press release we have put out worldwide this afternoon.
Some things in life are worth celebrating – and this is one of them.

Best Regards from your rather over – excited but official Guest British

Peter Shanks
Chief Comercial Officer
Carnival UK

What an amazing story. To sell the first voyage out completely and that quick in today’s economy shows that the world of Cunard is one that continues to shine brightly and the new Queen Elizabeth it seems has already taken up the mantel left by her namesake. The only bad news is that this means there’s no cabins left for me……and that gets one big royal bugger.

Thanks Peter for taking the time to share your brilliant news with us all ……. congratulations.

And so we only have one new vessel to talk about……….and that of course is the Carnival Dream. I will be visiting her in early June. I was going to go this month but from what I have been told there will be much more for me to photograph and video if I wait until June. However, yesterday I received an e-mail from a colleague who is at the shipyard and on board the ship. His name is Piero Aminkya who is one of Carnival Corp.’s newbuilding inspectors. Here is word for word what he wrote to me yesterday. “John, the Carnival Dream is a dream. While only 20% of the finishing materials are visible I can tell she will be Carnival Cruise Lines’ most beautiful ship. I particularly love the design and finish of the atrium.”

Well that has certainly whetted my appetite and now I really want to go and see her. However, I will wait until June and take the video crew with me so I can share the experience with all of you.

Now, for those who missed yesterdays breaking news………….here it is again

Guests to be Offered Choice of Three Different Seating Options, Including “Your Time” Open Seating, Fleetwide

MIAMI (April 1, 2009) – Carnival Cruise Lines has launched “Your Choice Dining” which provides a selection of three different dinner seating options for guests aboard the line’s 22-ship fleet. In addition to Early or Late assigned seating, the cruise line is rolling out “Your Time” open seating to accommodate individual guest preferences. Also, under the new Your Choice Dining program, dining assignments will be confirmed at the time of booking.

“We have been experimenting with an open seating dinner option on a few ships since the latter part of 2008,” said Roberta Jacoby, Carnival’s senior vice president of hotel operations. “Exceptional guest feedback to the pilot program and an indication from the vast majority of those participating that they would choose that option again has prompted the decision to extend open seating fleetwide. At the same time, we felt it was important to also enhance the dining program overall by confirming dining assignments at the time of booking. We believe that our new Your Choice Dining Program will prove to be an extremely popular enhancement to the Carnival vacation experience,” Jacoby added.

Your Time open seating, currently available on five ships, will be implemented one vessel at a time over the next several months as modifications in dining room table configurations are completed on each ship.

“In making the decision to introduce Your Time dining, we felt it was imperative that we be able to offer guests the option to sit only with those individuals they prefer and that requires reconfiguring a section of the dining rooms on each ship to incorporate smaller table arrangements,” said Jacoby. “This is an important distinction as some lines still group people together under their open seating programs.”

An additional eight ships are scheduled to be converted by the end of year and the balance of the fleet by summer 2010. Confirmed dining assignments are now being offered fleetwide.

At the time of booking, guests will be asked to choose from among Early dining at 6 pm, Late dining at 8:15 pm or Your Time dining which allows guests to dine at any time between 5:45 pm and 9:30 pm (if applicable depending on ship and sailing date). Dining assignments will be accommodated on a first-come, first-serve basis according to when guests made their reservation…

If the preferred dining choice is not available, guests may confirm an alternate choice and be placed on a waitlist for their first preference. Waitlists will be cleared prior to sailing and guests will be notified via email of their confirmed seating assignment.

As Your Time dining is implemented on each ship, guests already booked will be contacted via email or through their travel agent and provided the opportunity to switch to Your Time dining or retain their original choice.

Your Time guests are able to request any table size or waiter and are typically seated immediately when arriving at the dining room. However, if a modest wait time is required, guests are given a pager so they are free to relax elsewhere on the ship until their table is ready.

Additional options available under Your Choice Dining include extensive poolside eateries offering a wide variety of cuisine choices in a casual environment and, on a number of ships, elegant, reservations-only restaurants serving fine quality dry-aged U.S.D.A. prime steaks and other dishes in an intimate, upscale atmosphere.

Below is a timetable for the introduction of Your Time open seating throughout the Carnival fleet:

• Already implemented: Carnival Legend, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Paradise, Carnival Miracle
• End of April: Carnival Conquest, Carnival Elation, Carnival Pride
• Mid-June: Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Spirit
• Late September: Carnival Dream
• Mid-October: Carnival Ecstasy
• Mid-December: Carnival Glory
• February 2010: Carnival Fascination
• By summer 2010: Carnival Imagination, Carnival Inspiration, Carnival Destiny, Carnival Triumph, Carnival Valor, Carnival Splendor, Carnival Freedom and Carnival Victory

Carnival is the largest and most popular cruise line in the world, with 22 “Fun Ships” operating voyages ranging from three to 16 days in length to The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, Panama Canal, Canada, New England, Europe and Bermuda. The line currently has two new ships scheduled for delivery between now and 2011. The first of those, the 130,000-ton Carnival Dream, is set to debut Sept. 21, 2009.

For additional information or reservations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit

So, there you have it and I am sure that some of you have already posted your comments and some will be doing so today. I am sure many will be praising this additional choice and there may be some who are not sure now which option to take……… as always I am here for you should you wish to ask……………as always please mark your comments “John please reply. ”

Protocol demands that you must never ever touch Her Majesty The Queen ……. in case she melts. However this protocol obviously meant bugger all to Michelle Obama she put her arm around Lizzy last night at a reception at Buckingham Palace held in honor of the G20 leaders and their wives. So, instead of concentrating on the substance of these important meetings or commenting on the fact that thousands of sandal wearing unwashed hippies smashed up London, the newspapers here in the UK are concentrating on the fact that she dared to touch the Queen.

When the former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating put his arm around the Queen in 1992, he was branded the “Lizard of Oz”…..what a load of bollocks. POTUS gave the Queen an iPod containing a video of her visit to Virginian 2007 and Pee Diddlies Greatest Hits. In return, he received a signed photograph of the royal couple……..he must have been thrilled.

A few years ago Roger Blum and his beautiful wife Marie, Heidi and I took a tour inside Buckingham Place. If you are ever in London it is something you really must do. Over the years I have been to hundreds of people’s houses and have never once felt the need to steal a teacup or a photo frame… But as we toured the Palace I was overcome with a Herculean bout of kleptomania. I had my eye on the grand piano in the ballroom but anything would have done. A cup. A saucer even a Corgi.

Staff, I’m told, keep a watchful eye on visitors The same goes for the old ladies who pick flowers while at the garden parties. Even Prince Philip has been heard to yell: “Oy, Ethel! Leave that orchid alone you thieving old sod.”

The worst thing, though, about living in the palace is the decor. The Queen is the only person alive who watched that Michael Jackson shopping trip to Las Vegas and thought: “I’ve got one of those vases.”

The whole thing is a symphony of gloomy portraits of unsmiling ancestors with splashes of Michelangelo and Farcus. In the main corridor pink and gold Eltonesque sofas clash violently with the bright red carpets.

It’s Neverland meets the Carnival Splendor and I actually liked it. And I guess the Queen does as well although unlike anyone else, the Queen can’t watch an episode of This Old House and think: “Right. I’ll knock through here, go to IKEA and buy some new furniture and some Turkish scatter cushions” …………she’s stuck with it.

“Yes but she has all that money,” I hear you cry………… This may be true. But what can the poor dear spend it on? A world cruise on the Queen Mary 2? An Aston Martin? She’s not Ivana Trump.

Anyway back to POTUS. While I am not totally sure of his political views there is no doubt that the President of the United States possesses a certain rock star/cruise director quality. I also respect him because he has told the protocol of the old days to bugger off. For example this morning as the leaders gathered Mr Obama who as leader of the free world should have arrived at the conference last and under a blaze of glory. He didn’t ……….he arrived after the Prime Minister of India and just before the President of the Czech Republic………that’ s pretty cool. President Clinton always arrived late because he would be pumping one of his interns for information and of course….. he had to finish his cigar.

Guess who arrived last today though………………guess who had to make an entrance to show that even though he was the same exact height as Napoleon he was bigger and more important than everyone else………..playing right into the blog thingies hands ……… yep ………… you guessed it………………it was old short arse himself………………President Sarkozy of France.

Of course I do give him masses amount of credit though. Unlike anyone else in world politics, he got Le Top Job and responded immediately by telling his wife to bugger off and replaced her with the stunningly beautiful impossibly gorgeous Carla Bruni. Her mother is a concert pianist, her sister an actress and film director, and she’s an heiress to an Italian tire fortune. We’re talking good genes here. And bottom looks good in a pair too.

The Frenchies took her into their hearts…………….forgetting about poor Mrs. Sarkozy who now works as a tour guide at Le Eifel Tower. That’d never happen anywhere else. Imagine, if you will, Gordon Brown winning an election (hard, I know) and then ditching his wife Sarah for Kate Winslett. Imagine President Obama proudly unveiling Halle Berry as his new first lady or me telling the now 4 million readers (yes we passed 4 million by the way) that I had replaced Heidi with Heidi Klum the super model …………. All of our careers would be over quicker than Andrew Dice Clay’s.

As I said, he couldn’t help himself……..he was the President Of France………the most important man in the world and he would make that late le grand entrance ………….yet I should be careful because maybe there were a few valid reasons he was late to the most important economic conference in the world……….ever.

1. He could have been confused when at his hotel he was confronted by a strange door in his suite. Upon opening this door he discovered a whole new world of running water and a maybe he had to call one of his entourage to help him translate strange words into French……….words like “soap” and “shower.”

2. Maybe it wasn’t his fault that he was late. Maybe it was his chauffeurs who seeing the German delegation turned around and drove in the opposite direction.

Bon Noit
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.