Living In The Past

April 11, 2009 -

John Heald

Last night I went to see my local football team Southend United play a football match against a team called the MK Dons. I didn’t really want to go but in a moment of weakness I had told my mate Alan who loves nothing more than to watch 22 men running around a field in tight shorts that I would go with him. Now the problem was that the football stadium is about an hour from where I live……oh by the way……..when I say stadium it’s…. ummmm………..well………lets just say its like comparing the size of an NCL cabin to Texas.

So, as the pregnant Heidi didn’t want to stand in the freezing cold and watch some overpaid lads kick some pigskin around a field she decided to stay home. Living out in the countryside as we do I didn’t want to leave her without a car so I decided to take a taxi there and have Alan bring me back. So, I called the local Dumnow taxi service and booked a cab. So at 6 pm I was ready with my blue and white football scarf and right on time the cab pulled up. Now, when I say pulled up I should say screeched up. We have a lot of gravel on our drive or I should say we did have a lot of gravel on our drive because the driver had spread most of it across the county of Essex.

Kissing Heidi goodbye I headed to the cab to find it was being driven by Cameron Diaz …………..OK………….maybe her sister but this taxi driver was absolutely stunning …………. I couldn’t believe my luck. I felt like going down on my knees and praising the Lord but just in case Heidi was looking out of the window I didn’t. Do you remember back a few months ago I had a car and driver to take me from Venice to see the Carnival Dream? I wrote about this in a blog and the Italian driver was gorgeous…………this lady made her look like Judge Judy’s ugly sister.

So, being the gentlemen my Mum and Dad taught me to be I started to strike up some pleasant customer – driver conversation………it lasted about two minutes I gleaned her name was Kate and that she had lost her job as a banker working for the Royal Bank of Scotland and now she was working with her dad and brother in the taxi business …………. and ………….that’s when I stopped talking.

If you want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and arrive at the Pearly Gates in soggy pants, you don’t need to have died at the hands of driller killer in a hockey mask – just try climbing into a car with Kate the ex-banker taxi driver from Essex.

I’ve driven fast and I have been driven fast. I have performed interviews on live television. I have done many scary things in my life, including seeing my self naked in the mirror. I know, understand and can cope with fear.

But I lost control completely after half an hour in a car with Kate. The bladder went, and round the back, I was touching cloth. That woman is easily the maddest driver the world has ever seen.

It was the tail end of the rush hour, we were in the middle of Essex and it was raining. She was driving a Chrysler 300 diesel but she thought she was driving a Lamboerrarimartin.

On a road called the A127, she put her foot down hard in first gear and I felt the back starting to weave. Then we were into second, foot still hard down, heading for what was unquestionably a set of red lights.

During the next 26 minutes we’d stop at red lights and, on each occasion, the driver alongside was scrutinized. If he was good-looking, there was some flirting then a race. If he was ugly, she’d skip straight to the race. And she never lost………..Southend United did 0 – 2 and I lost another perfectly good pair of underwear.

Here are today’s questions that were marked for my reply.

Bobby Asked:
HI John please reply, I have two questions to as you
1. We wanted to book the sea spi excursion for isle rotan Honduras but I didn’t see it anymore on the site.
2. I was wanting to find out how much is the supper club is? And is it by plate or just one price? What I was wanting to do is surprise my mom and dad with a reservation for the supper club but I don’t know if it cost 30 dollars. Is there away you could help? Figure out what to do?
Could u tell me if the excursion is sold out?
I hope you are having a good time being home
Take care of your wife and the thingy

John Says:

Hello Bobby.
Thanks for taking the time to write and let me answer your questions. The Sea Spi tour in Roatan is brilliant an you are correct, I don’t see it on the web site. Please give me the weekend to get this sorted by either having it added or finding out if we are not offering this anymore. Either way I will let you know.
The Supper Club is $30 per person. This included five courses of food plus a few surprises from the chef. The meal will be a brilliant surprise for your Mum and dad and it will be a meal they will never forget. Let me know if you need any more help deciding when or how to make a reservation.
I will let you know about the tour as soon as I can

Amy Asked:

John (please reply),
I have a quick question… My husband and I are on the Triumph for the June 11th sailing, room —-… This is “finally” our honeymoon cruise, but I’m curious as to why Honeymoon keeps disappearing (sometimes it’s there, then other times it has disappeared) from the Special Occasion area of my Carnival profile? And, is there any point to having it there anyways?
My best to Heidi and Thingy!

John Says:

Hello Amy
Good question and I promise there is nothing to be concerned about. The ship knows that you are on your honeymoon and I know you will have a brilliant time. You may even see a little honeymoon gift from me.
Best wishes to you both and remember to try and leave your cabin at least once during the cruise

Sara Jennings Asked:

Please reply
I want to commend you on approaching the nursing issue with careful consideration. So many people make an emotional decision on that. I am a huge proponent of breastfeeding ~ way to go Heidi! If you do get a little nervous about having to feed your thingy in public you can always get a hooter hider. It’s a blanket type thing that you wear to make nursing a little more private in not-so convenient locations. Best wishes with your little one.

John Says:

Hello Sara
A Hooter Hider ! Do they make those for men?
Thanks so much for your kind words of support, we both appreciate it so very very much
My best to you and your family

Elaine Asked:

John, please reply…
Does this Your Time dining only mean that you show up when you are hungry and either get a table or possibly wait a few minutes OR does it also mean that if we don’t want the 6:00 or 8:15 pm but would prefer lets just say 7:30, can we also request that and know that our dinner will be 7:30 each night? And, whether we can request a certain time (like the 7:30 each night) or show up when we are hungry, can we request the same wait staff each night?
And one more on this subject, when Shazer (as you call her out of ear shot)!!! says the following:
6. How do guests on Your Time dining tip the wait staff if they have a different waiter every night?
All gratuities are pooled and shared by service staff assigned to Your Time dining.
Does that mean that we leave a tip each night or will gratuities still be taken up front and added to our Sign n Sail card and then that tip will be pooled and shared?
Thanks so much AGAIN….
Luv 2 u, Heidi and “thingy”

John Says:

Hello Elaine
Lets start with your first question…… if we would start anywhere else ……….. sorry about that. Your Time dining means that you can indeed go to the dining room anytime you want and if you choose to go at 7:30 pm each night the so be it. Unfortunately we can’t guarantee the same waiter as it will depend on table allotment and how many guests are in the dining room at the time you decide to go. If this is your biggest concern I do recommend that you request confirmed dining when you book as this way you will have the same waiter.
Then you asked a very good question about tipping which I should have made clearer. Tipping for Your Time dining works in the same principal as assigned seating where the gratuities that were placed on your sail and sign card will be taken off and as Shazer said distributed between the dining staff. I hope this answers your questions and I remain at your service should you need further assistance. Thanks for the kind words and my best to you and the family

Kari Kirkland Asked:

Hi John
*please reply if possible*
Going on Ecstasy for FIRST CRUISE on May 16th….with “man-friend” (he is too much man to be a BOY FRIEND) I was wondering how to get the room decorated or something FUN to do for him….as this is for first vacation, he is a disabled vet, and has some bad health problems on his legs….he will be VERY brave and use the slide and pool and said he doesn’t care WHO stares at him (that’s why I love him soooo much)….any who….what can I do EXTRA special to make this the CRUISE of a lifetime?

John Says:

Hello Kari
How wonderful that your MAN-friend is taking his first cruise with you on the Carnival Ecstasy. If you wish to have the room decorated you can do so by arranging this through our bon voyage department which Stephanie will provide the link for in a moment.
Bon Voyage:
However, I would also like you to post a comment with your name and cabin number a few days before you sail so I can send something too him ……….nobody deserves it more. If your fellow guests do stare I am sure it will be in admiration and sympathy and …………if you would like the cruise director to recognize your MAN-friend on stage I will be glad to make that happen as well. Maybe you could tell me a little more about him.
I will do whatever I can to make him feel special …………because he is.
My best to you both

Jeanette Williams Asked:

Hi John
Can you tell who the cd will be on the Splendor October 11 2009 sailing. I hope he or she will be good. I have been on 18 cruises and you are the greatest cd I have ever met. Thanks for being you.
Jeanette Williams

John Says:

Hello Jeanette
Thanks firstly for the wonderful words of praise and I hope we get to cruise together again very soon. Your cruise director on your Carnival Splendor cruise will be Goose. This is his permanent ship for a while and although he is taking a vacation in May he will be back ready to entertain you when you cruise in October. I was sorry to hear that some of the bon voyage gifts were not delivered. I know that we have had some concerns with this but I am assured that they have now been taken care of and that all the deliveries are arriving correctly and onetime. Please accept my apologies for the problems you had last time and if you remind me a few days before you sail on the Carnival Splendor I am sure we can surprise you with a little something
My best to you and all the family and thanks for the kind words for Heidi.

That’s all for today. Please remember to mark your comments “John, please reply ” and as always thanks so much for taking the time to write in.

So, what seems like months ago but was in fact just two weeks ago I was onboard the Carnival Splendor to film amongst other things the Red Carpet entrance of the celebrities who were performing for the VH1 Save The Music Concert.

I had intended to host the interviews myself but I never got the chance……..because I was stupid. I had been going flat out all day and had missed lunch completely which when you are diabetic is as stupid as going into Le Walgreens in Paris and asking where the shower gel is. At around 7 pm I began to feel listless and sweaty and as my Dad says I began to feel “floopy.”

It was then that I new my sugar was too low and my body was telling me that I was in trouble. So……….I sat down and asked a colleague to get me a fully leaded Coke. After drinking half the can I started to feel a little better but it takes time. I also knew that any minute the celebrities would start to arrive and I would have to be on the red carpet to interview them. So, knowing by body would tell me to bugger off if I didn’t rest I stayed seated on the Promenade Deck, asked Mr. Hair to get his camera into position and then I called for help. Luckily we had Jaime. She was in the shower when I called and after hearing the cry for help she did what no woman has ever done before in the history of the earth…………..she got ready in 10 minutes.

I don’t know what I would have done without her and I remained seated in my chair as my body finally got back to normal so angry at myself for letting myself and everyone down. Well……… you are about to see, Jaime did a great job …… fact she did a brilliant job and here are her interviews filmed on the red carpet onboard the Carnival Splendor……….oh, and one of me with Kevin who by the way will be doing a follow up interview with me next week as I ask him some questions about Grey’s Anatomy and his thoughts on the Carnival Splendor.

I will never allow my sugar level to drop like that again……………idiot. Let me thank Mr Peter Hair for the wonderful video footage ………….and thanks to Stephanie for looking after me during my little sugar drop…………’s a photo of Stephanie and Mr. Hair……… thanks to them both

Mr. Hair


For those of you sailing on the Carnival Glory you will notice that we now have Fun Force installed on the vessel. These brilliant interactive dancers, acrobats and entertainers were originally called G Force and some of you may have already seen them on the Carnival Valor and Carnival Splendor. Well, they are now part of the Carnival Glory crew and very soon you will members of the Fun Force team on many of our ships.

Also making appearances will be our table top/close up magicians. Have any of you met Rakesh? He was the origional of these brilliant and so talented magicians and he proved so popular that we are rolling this branch of our entertainment out to other ships in the fleet soon. These chaps will visit you in the ships lounges and along the promenade deck and also during dinner………their amazing close up magic skills will have you choking on your chocolate melting cake.

Laser tag has proven so popular on the Carnival Valor that we are going to add this on other ships as well. It isn’t just popular with the kids but with the big kids as well ……….. yep we have had all ages shoot each other and they love it. Look out for this on your cruise very soon.

Heidi is doing well and we are now in full readiness mode for the Thingy to arrive. The birthing bags are packed ready to take to the hospital. Our birth plan is filled out and it includes the words “We are not using that sodding birthing stool or the swimming pool thing.”

We took a tour of the hospital where Heidi is due to give birth and therefore I’m well placed to make some helpful suggestions on how the service might be improved. It would have been nice if some of the books in the waiting room had been manlier in nature instead of Hair, Sliming and Pregnancy magazines…….. And in the same vein, I do think that some of the prettier nurses could have been wearing stockings.

So we wait………..and tomorrow we shall sit watching TV ………….my Saturday nights out as studly twenty something a long and distant memory away. I remember Saturday nights being exciting times. I would start getting ready about 7 pm and where as now I can complete the three “S’s” in 30 minutes but back in the days when personal grooming and the hope of getting some rumpy pumpy was so important it would take considerably longer.

I concentrated on what to wear which considering I had three shirts and two pairs of trousers to choose from was not difficult. Then it was the hair……that had to be just right. Up until 1996 I had beautiful dark hair and then one morning a few months into the Carnival Destiny’s inaugural season I woke up…..looked in the mirror…………and a pudgy Richard Gere was staring back at me………grey is handsome my arse.

Once my hair was right, I made sure I had a £5 in my pocket (usually lent to me by Mum or Dad) and then right at 8:30 pm Alan’s shiny blue Ford Capri would pull up outside the house accompanied by The Pet Shop Boys or The Communards blaring from the eight-track stereo. I never really questioned my best friend’s taste in music and even now he is married with two beautiful children I say nothing when I hear he has George Michael and Cher on his Eye Pod.

Every Saturday night always started off full of hope that tonight ………a girl would find me attractive………tonight we would not be ignored by anything in a skirt …………. tonight ……..the evening would end with a trip down lovers lane and not end with Alan and I sharing a late night Kebab………….we ate a lot of Kebabs…………and the only person who found me attractive and was wearing a skirt was Brendan………… the errantly drunk Scottish bartender.

Each night we would stand at the bar nursing our drinks drooling over the beautiful women. We both had our goals..…I wanted to meet a blonde with blue eyes while Alan was very much into brunettes with the deep brown eyes ………. that of course was at the beginning of the evening and as closing time approached our standards had slipped a little and both us would have been happy with a girl with no hair, one blue eye and one red eye…………after a few drinks and when he realized all the girls in the bar were ignoring him Alan started to find Brendan the Bartender a little sexy.

Of course at the end of Saturday nights as we discussed our failure over a Kebab it was never our fault we had left The Cliff (our favorite bar) alone once again. Whereas at the start of the evening we had marvelled at the ladies’ beauty by the end of the night the reason Alan and I were alone again was that every girl in the bar looked like Joan Rivers. Even the local………..ummmm……….party girls who we nicknamed Easy Elsie and Rambo wouldn’t even talk to us and they were very ummmmm…………charitable…………in fact it was said that if Easy Elsi were to die they would have to bury her in a “Y-shaped coffin.”

One Saturday night Alan and I had witnessed a miracle, one so astonishing that the bar we were in called The Cliff went silent……everyone was in disbelief …….. why ……well two girls had walked over to Alan and I………met us….and as yet hadn’t left…………………….. Or thrown up.

I still remember their names ……..Paula and Sarah. Now, you have to remember that Alan and I had little practice in the art of “the chat up” and if girls did talk to us they usually dropped dead from boredom after just a few minutes.

I was working in London for Lloyds and Alan was at a local bank ……….we both had boring jobs. So Alan would always want to spice up our lives and in the past we have been Vets, Trainee Pilots and Submariners………however when Sarah and Paula asked “what do you do?” Alan decided to tell them that we were both at medical school and were going to be doctors.

The girls seemed very impressed by this and I clearly remember Sarah asking me all sorts of questions about her aches and pains and one hour later Saturday night had turned out alright (as Elton John once sang) as the girls were still with us and I was living in the hope that Paula may allow Dr. John to examine her later in the back seat of the Ford Capri.

My hope of Paula having a close encounter with her own Dr. McDreamy was still burning brightly as all four of us walked back to the car………we had been invited back to the girls flat (apartment) and I was trying to play it cool but my heart was beating double time.

However, my friend Murphy who has spent so much time with me the past few months was with me back in the early eighties as well because as we reached the car and the back seat beckoned …….. Alan couldn’t find his car key……….what a complete and utter idiot.

At first I thought he was joking but then I saw the serious look on his face that told me we were in the brown stuff. He looked everywhere, he even ran back to The Cliff where he looked in every corner and crack to see if he could find it, but it had vanished.
It was during the time that Alan was mincing about at the Cliff trying to find the key that would open the door to heaven that the girls decided that the two junior doctors were in fact in need of medication themselves and realizing that there was no ride home for them here……….they buggered off.

Alan returned…….keyless…….and asked me where the girls where………I told them they had left and you won’t believe this……….he gave me a bollocking……what was I supposed to do………tie them to a lamppost?………..sing Duran Duran’s greatest hits?……….we argued for a few moments blaming each other and then we both realized that we couldn’t get into the car……….and that was the end of the evening ………..Alan called his Dad to come with the spare key and then it was my turn to call Dad who came to pick up his 18-year-old son …… Saturday night was ruined ……….. and I didn’t even get a Kebab.

OK, Paula may have had legs that could have supported an Oil Rig…she may have had more spots than a cheetah with the measles………..but she would have been mine ……. and………….Paula was the prettier of the two.

This, and many other Saturdays like them was one of the reasons I gave up my job in the City of London and joined Carnival Cruise Lines in 1987. By then every girl in my home town had ignored me and Alan and I spent so much time alone………standing at bars some people thought we were……….well………… know. The final straw came when Alan and I went to a big nightclub called TOTS (Talk of the South) ……….it was ladies night…300 girls would be there…….many from out of town …… it would be a buffet.

We arrived and the place was heaving….surely not even we could fail. Things were going well, girls were dancing…….some even smiling and looking at us……in fact a group of gorgeous girls were looking at us both and laughing ……… wow …….. this could be fantastic……….so I smiled and waved back…… did Alan……it was then that I noticed they were not laughing with us………… but at us……….in fact a few were pointing towards us and one was laughing hysterically …….I couldn’t figure out why……….I looked at Alan to mention what was happening when I saw what had reduced them to hysterics…….my mate Alan aged 19 years…… had removed his jacket……to reveal …….a T Shirt……with …… The Smurfs on it..…time for a kebab.

Your friends
John, Heidi, Alan 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.