You All Look The Same to Me

April 6, 2009 -

John Heald

Before we start today’s blog would you please spare a thought for our Director of Entertainment Chris Prideaux. He was rushed to the hospital on Thursday night and remains in ICU. I can’t comment on his medical condition but today (Monday) he is stable and hopefully will be moved out of intensive care soon. Many of you will have seen his name mentioned here regularly on the blog and many of you met him during the recent Bloggers Cruise…………….I ask you to please keep Chris and his family in your thoughts.

Last night I went out to meet a “friend.” Heidi has some ladies over that she had met at her ante natal classes and as I would rather wipe my bottom with sandpaper than stay at home I decided to bugger off and do something I have been putting off for a long time. ………………….see a chap who used to be my friend and in fact he still was because I had never had the courage to break it off with him. Breaking up with a mate is actually harder to do than with a girlfriend although because my mate Alan was so ugly I never had much experience in this field. You see, with a mate, you can’t have that usual conversation about it “not being you” or “we can still be friends” …………..that simply cannot happen when it comes to men.

Women however dump friends all the time. Male bloggers………..how many times in your life have you come home to find your wife having coffee in the kitchen with a woman she had told she hated just last week.

If men don’t want to be friends with a man any more they just ignore them. I do this on the blog very occasionally and if I get a constant anti-Carnival commentator after a few replies……..I simply ignore them. Maybe we should have done that with Saddam Hussein………it may have been cheaper if we had just ignored him and imagine how pissed off he would have been if he found out that the Brits and Yanks had gone out to a lap dancing club with Syria, Jordan and Iran and not invited him.

I guess I should explain about this guy. He used to work on the ships and he lives fairly local to me. I have only been out a few times with him over the years and it will tell you what sort of person my “friend” is when I say that Heidi refuses to be in the same room as him. There are many reasons for this. One is that he is so tight his arse squeaks when he walks. He never has offered to pay for anything……dinner………drinks……..anything …………even though he has a well paying job in London. He is also what I call “a topper”………….anytime someone is telling a story his has to be bigger and better. He always starts his sentence off with “that’s nothing”…………or “I can do better than that.”

He is also ………….and I have to be careful here …………….a big drinker. I am 99% certain he has no idea about me writing this blog as that would involve him being interested in anyone apart from himself. We all like a drink………….well I used to……………but there is always one who takes it too far and when this bloke has a few drinks ………….which I have paid for of course…………he becomes sullen and very aggressive which is one of the reasons he no longer works for Carnival. I have in the past tried to speak to him about his drinking and even did so last night but he just told me to “F^%k Off” and mind my own business…………..so I did. I’m not saying it’s ok to leave a friend out in the cold with his problems but that was enough for me. I sat there thinking about the Godfather and how Michael had to deal with Fredo and as I sat and listened to his language get louder and louder and his language more and more disgusting…………..I told him I was going to the toilet …………………….and after doing so………….I went out of the back entrance and never went back. I know this was wrong………………I know it’s not how a friend treats a friend but if I had told him I was leaving he would have gotten aggressive and caused a scene. I sat in my car, sent him a text that said “get help with your drinking and we can be friends…..don’t and we won’t…………..look after yourself…………..John”…………………and I drove off.

I did so with mixed emotions – feeling guilty about leaving the way I did but also glad to be out of that situation. I was sure by now he was being thrown out of the pub for being aggressive and very drunk. Luckily he can’t drive so I wasn’t worried about that. I probably would have thought about what I had done a lot more……….but then my car started to make an awful sound……………bugger………………………………I had a flat tyre. It was 10.45pm, I was in a dark, desolate street in Essex and I was handicapped by the fact that I can no more fly a space shuttle than I can change a tyre on a car.

You see, when you become a Cruise Director you get assistants and people who look after all the aspects of your life for you and basically run your life. Meanwhile Heidi pays my bills and answers the mail and so on. Katut or one of his mates cleans the cabin as does Heidi when I am home, as did my Mum when I lived with my wonderful parents. I panicked. I became aware of how mollycoddled I was. I certainly don’t know how to change a tyre.

When I finally managed to contact a breakdown service, I realised that there were lots of other things I didn’t know. The lady on the other end of the phone asked me what make and size tyres I had. I had no idea. I had to get out of the car to find out and despite her patient instructions, I couldn’t find the spare tyre in the boot…………..sorry……………trunk..

I didn’t fancy waiting for the rescue truck for ages and I started to wonder if I should say: “By the way, I’m John Heald. I have a blog read by thousands of people and I will be writing about this incident” in order to get some special treatment. I couldn’t bring myself to do it, partly because it seemed pathetic and partly because she probably wouldn’t have given two shiny shites.

However, I did tell her that my wife was pregnant and I was rushing home to be with her. I don’t know if that made a difference but a man in a truck soon arrived. Upon arriving he saw me standing by the side of the road finishing a naughty Cuban cigar such was the stress this had caused I told him that it was my only one. “You bastard,” he said. I was a little affronted but his facial expression suggested that he intended it as a term of affection.

I felt a bit better about myself when he couldn’t find the spare tyre either. “Maybe it’s in a cage underneath,” I said, scratching around for any manly knowledge I might have. He had a quick look but then said there was no spare – there had never been one. “This model of Range Rover just comes with tyre-mould so you can patch up your flat tyre and get to a safe location.”

When he said “tyre-mould” I felt like a stranger in a strange land. “You’re going to need a recovery vehicle,” he said. For some reason the word “vehicle” made me feel more secure. It had an official ring to it. It wouldn’t be long before I would be home with Heidi drinking a nice mug of monkey tea. Soon an even bigger truck arrived and my car was loaded on to the back. This was done by a man with a beard, wearing a high visibility jacket and all the time he stood there winching the car on to the back of his truck he spoke to me using the word fella “nice car fella………….are you a local fella…………..where you been fella, down the pub…………..you’re a big fella arnt ya.”

So as I sat in the recovery truck, going down the freeway we call the M25 at 60mph, I had time to consider the positives of this situation. I didn’t have to drive home, I was saving on gas money and best of all, it suddenly struck me that all this could go in to this morning’s blog thingy. …………………however, the thought that I had left that chap in the pub was still bugging me.

I finally got home at 3am and after being told by Heidi that she had been worried sick about me and that she was so happy I was ok………….she gave me a massive bollocking for not being a real man for not knowing how to change a tyre.

This morning, I called my friend ready to apologize for my actions…………..there was no answer so I sent him a text apologizing and asking him to call me…………..he hasn’t.

So, good morning everyone and I hope you all had a great weekend. Tomorrow I will crack on with answering the next group of questions marked for my reply but before I do so I wanted to talk a little about our new and exciting Your Choice Dining program we announced last week.

Many of you seem excited about this extra dining choice we have given you which along with the regular assigned dining and the lido alternative give our guests some brilliant dining choices…………….not forgetting the supper clubs on our Spirit, Conquest and Splendor class ships. I have read one or two people’s concerns that the Your Choice Dining program will in someway affect those who prefer the regular assigned dining, meaning those who prefer to have the same waiter for the entire cruise. Well, it won’t………………….really, it won’t. I spoke to someone about this today and I am putting together a Q and A for them on this subject so that we can answer any concerns and mostly importantly tell you how it works. I hope to have those answers ready by mid week. I assure you it’s a great addition and there is nothing to be concerned about.

As I am not going to be on the ships as a Cruise Director until June and knowing how you all love to read what our guests manage to complain about I asked my colleagues across the fleet to send me in any blog worthy stories……………..so now and then I will be adding them to the blog thingy.

Today’s comes from The Carnival Glory and my mate Butch………….here is what he sent.

Hello John
As you asked for any funny comments from guests I wanted to show you this one from the incident report .

A guest complained to the Maitre D on lido deck that the soup on the Grand Buffet service line was too thick and strong. After checking the Maitre D discovered that he had been eating the Au Jus that went with the Roast Beef. There was a sign saying ” Au Jus ” but guest said the sign was confusing.

There you go John and I will let you have anymore that I think your bloggers will enjoy

Thanks Butchy and look out for more of the same in the days ahead.

It’s not just cruise ship passengers that get a little confused. There is the famous entry that was written in the visitors book at Windsor Castle by a tourist that said “Why on earth did they build Windsor Castle on the flight path of Heathrow Airport.”

And here is the video I promised highlighting my trip to the Carnival Sunday Fun day cruise winner, Sharon Foster’s, home.

Now lets talk German.

Occasionally, and when I need to take a break from making fun of the cheese eating surrender buggers that are the French, I do at times have a little bit of fun about das Germans. When they are on das Carnival boot there are no sun beds left by 9 am as they have all been reserved by the German guests who put towels, suntan oil, goats and BMWs on them. As Monty Python pointed out years ago, they took das sun beds and barged into the queues. And if you weren’t at the buffet spot on seven, Fritz had eaten all das sausages……………….however, that was in the past because now the North Americans and the British are just as bad………………as for the Russian’s…………well they hire Speznatz commandos to guard the chairs..

I have also made fun of the fact that Germans cannot say words like “squirrel, squid and squiggly.”

I also suggested that German people have no sense of humor but Hans does at least find some things funny — people falling over on banana skins and Benny Hill, for instance. Germans know the problem with German humour. They make fun of it in their TV adverts. When Heidi and I were last in Germany during our Warnenmunde trip we both laughed very hard at one. A young blond man walks on stage at a dimly lit comedy club. He walks up to the microphone and says in a dull German accent: “Good evening, ladies and gents, I just flew in from Berlin. And, boy, are my arms tired.” Silence. He flaps his arms like a bird. More silence. As he prepares to continue, the voice-over intervenes, sparing the audience any more routine. “Germans don’t do comedy,” says the voice-over. “They do beer.” It was an advert for Beck’s.

I also made fun of the fact that David (Das Hoffmeister) Hasselhoff is worshiped as Das Rock God. In fact, I had a good time at their expense. You zee, unlike the French and the British who would rather eat the boogers out of Gérard Depardieu’s nose than be nice to each other, Das Germans and das British have fun at each others expense………but we like each other.

So, its time for me to admit that I have been a dumbkopf (stupid head) and therefore please allow me to sing the praises of my German freundins.

For example. When was das last time you heard ein politicians talking so very obviously from the heart? Fueled by passion rather than a need to keep on the right side of his party’s PR machine? I will never forget how Joschka Fischer laid into Tony Blair and George W. Bush, slicing through their nonsense with a very simple and very effective “I don’t believe you” when his Blairness said that Saddam had a billion weapons of das massen destruction.

Let’s talk about the best movie ever made, Das Boot, and Haydn, Handel, Brahms, Beethoven and Bach, contact lenses, das globe, das printing press, X-rays, das telescope and Levi Strauss; das chemistry lessons would have been a lot less fun were it not for the Bunsen burner. Let’s face it: if a German train grazed a wall, lightly injuring a handful of people on board, they’d tow it away, replace the damaged track and have the network up and running by morning. Also, when their roads are coated with a thin veneer of snow, they send out a fleet of snowplows. The notion that you might be stuck on an autobahn for 10 hours because of inclement weather is…………. das bollocks.

My Range Rover – that’s German and so is the new Mini, the Bentley Continental GT, the new Rolls-Royce, the new Bugatti, the new Lamborghini and all new Chryslers. The entire Spanish car industry is German and by this time next year I bet they’ll have Ferrari, Hummer, and Cadillac and ….well every das bugger car in das industry.

And I will tell you what………..das Germans know a thing or two about building cruise ships, as well.

I love the AIDA ships, I love their uber-modern designs and the way everything just flows……….I imagine Bill Gates’ house looks just like this inside. There are no doors to enter lounges and guest areas; one just leads naturally to the other.

The color schemes are fresh, rustic and earthy and as you would expect being German, everything had been thought out down to the smallest detail.

For example, every public bathroom is different……every one……each with a new way to make peeing more enjoyable, some even have TV screens over the urinal.

The Theatrium which, as you may know, replaces the normal theatre seen on most cruise vessels, is just brilliant. It sits right in the middle of the vessel and guests can walk through, sit and watch one of the nightly shows and …….if it’s not their cup of tea……….or beer ………… leave ………. without disturbing anyone………there are no doors.

Having no doors means that all the show’s rehearsals are open to the public, as is the broadcast studio and many other areas usually marked “crew only.”…………and I think that’s just a terrific.

At the top of the Theatrium are huge rotund seats that you can stretch out on like a bed on a private plane. You can start the night off by watching the amazing hire wire trapeze act and when that’s finished swivel the chair around, face the ocean, plug in your headphones and watch a movie.

Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that are the best and nobody does simplicity better than AIDA.

The first example are there two smoking bars………..they are both………..inside/outside bars………This means that you can smoke indoors without having anyone come up to you and beat you over the head with a cucumber because you are smoking …………there are no doors……….the smoke just goes outside hurting nobody except the odd seagull who instead of looking for a piece of bread is now on 20 Marlboro Lights a day.

Seriously though, the Anytime Bar is so simple. Most of the room is indoors with a disco and nightly entertainment while the rest of the room has…yep you guessed it………..no doors so passengers have the choice…………all the other bars and lounges are non-smoking…………and everyone is happy…………….it’s so simple………..yet……….as far as I know ………AIDA are the only ones doing this. However, you can also expect something similar with our Piazza on the Carnival Dream. I have no idea as yet as to the smoking regulations we will implement but to me it would make sense to utilize the outside areas for night time cocktails and smoking thus allowing more of the inside of the ship to remain smoke free.

They have dartboards and pool tables and oh yes………..the absolutely brilliant 4D theatre. For a small fee, you are given a pair of 1950’s glasses and sit in big leather chairs and watch a series of 4D movies and cartoons. The chairs move up and down, side to side and when one of the characters gets eaten by a giant rat………..so do you and when that rat belches our hero out of his mouth jets of steam and water sprinkle lightly down on you from above………..honestly it is amazing ………..and so simple.
German’s love their food and, as you may remember, they love this “club ship”- buffet style dining at the pizza, Italian, and Asian, Swedish or multi-choice buffet areas. Beer and wine is included as are soft drinks and the food is top quality. Sometimes the word “buffet” can disguise the fact that the food may not be as high a quality as in a regular dining room but not here……….not on AIDA.

I wish the blog thingy came with “smell-a-thingy” so you could have enjoyed the sights and smells of the Market Buffet. It really does smell like a market…the fruits blending with the hanging meats and the smoked fish that blend with the two dozen types of fresh tea that guests shovel into a bag and dunk into tea pots. This…and I mean this with the greatest respect…has to be the best buffet at sea.

AIDA also has a premium contemporary restaurant and steakhouse, both with sumptuous menus and inviting chairs. Oh, talking of chairs…………yes, here I go again about chairs………..at the stern of the ship there is a room with huge, deep sofas that say come and rest your buttocks on me………..well……….I mean the chairs don’t say that and there’s no sign that says in German “kommen und reston das buttocks on mich”………but that is what you will want to do.

Guess, as well, what music and entertainment they have put there while you are relaxing and reading your Mercedes manual?………………Bugger all…………….less is more and there is no music, no distraction………just you, a big sofa bed, your book and the sea………….just as it should be.

Germans love to be outside and the AIDA ships have many areas to eat, drink and be merry in the open air. Their Lido deck has a huge stage where the cruise industry’s most famous parties are held. These include stage shows from the performers, costume parties and a massive laser light show. I really have to see this one day as everyone I know who has seen it says it is quite remarkable.

There are many other areas of the ship I could write about, the bar by the tender station, the huge florist shop, the AIDA bar shaped like a star, the gymnasium, the fact that you can rent bicycles on board to take ashore. This now has been complemented with a bunch of Segway thingies so you can….ummm….Segway around the ports of call.

You see the problem is I cannot tell you how good this ship is……….just like I couldn’t when I explored the Queen Mary 2. I just don’t have the vocabulary. I just end up stammering and dribbling and talking wide-eyed nonsense as though I have just seen Claudia Schiffer naked………on a Segway.

The other problem is this. None of you will ever sail AIDA…….and why would you? It’s a German ship designed for German people with everything written and spoken in German and you see that’s a real shame. It means that you won’t get to see what is quite possibly one of the best designed, most simplistically brilliant cruise vessels I have ever seen.

Let me try though and explain this “Club Ship” style of cruising. So, AIDA caters for hard working Germans of all ages and let me try and explain the Club system to you.

The Club style vacation is very popular in Germany where everything is included in the final cost and where they can do what they want when they want.. The concept that this land vacation dominated club style vacation could be transferred to a cruise liner was a little difficult at first. This was because of one of the most popular German TV programs ever……………Das Traumschiff…………..the German version of the Love Boat. This program was a huge hit in the 80’s and featured characters like Der Kreuzfahrt Direktor (Cruise Director) Helga Macoy and unfortunately portrayed old Germans playing cards and going to bed at 8:00pm with a good book and a glass of warme Milch (warm milk)………….then along came AIDA and suddenly the German’s had their club style vacation at sea ……………..and oh……….how they love it.

And now the reason we are speaking German …………………..and that’s because yesterday AIDA launched a new ship called the AIDAluna and as you will see from their website she looks fantastic. I know it’s in German but as you all speak the language of cruising I know you will think ishe looks wunderbar……………here is the link thingy………….http://www.aida.de/kreuzfahrt/reisen-mit-aida/schiffe/aidaluna.18759.html.

Oh yes………….a message to my royal champion friend Kevin……………. you are correct mate…………all Carnival Corporation ships do look a like. In fact if you drink a bottle of Vodka and smoke a palm tree then stand on your head and cover your left eye …………………….the AIDAluna looks exactly like the Queen Mary 2………………….and while you’re there have a good look at me because I will look just like Shaquille O’Neal……………………all our ships look a like………… my arse..

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.