Fatherly Advice

May 14, 2009 -

John Heald

Wednesday, 3:30 pm and still no Thingy. Heidi had a tough night as the Braxton Hicks contraction thingies came often and judging by the moans and groans coming from her side of the bed she was either in a lot of pain or was dreaming about the time I dressed up as Roman Gladiator. Today, we have another check up with the doctor just to see if they want to induce and for the sake of Heidi’s pain and my sanity I hope they do.

Heidi wants me by her side so I have not left the house today but I still managed to do the grocery shopping which I did ……..for the first ever time…….on line……..using a thing called Waitrose Deliver…………where the supermarket comes to you.

I have to say I found the whole process bewildering as I hate shopping online….I don’t understand computers enough and I certainly do not trust them.

When I first began as a cruise director, I used a manual typewriter to produce the Carnival Capers. This provided very little in the way of distractions. You could type in black ink and when that became boring, you could type in red ink. And that was about it.

But now, I’m simply staggered that I’m sitting here writing anything at all because my computer can do so much more. When I turn it on in a morning, knowing that I must write something before lunchtime or I’ll be killed and eaten by Stephanie who needs the blog as soon as possible, I still get waylaid by the promise of a quick game of Brick Breaker to get me in the mood.

And what’s this? Heavens, it seems I can also sit here all day watching DVD movies with CD-quality sound. So now I face a choice. Write, or spend half an hour or so watching Entourage?

Entourage won but now I’m back and the deadline is getting awfully close. But I fancy looking for pictures of naked Latvian girls on the web so I’ll just do that for a while, if you’ll excuse me.

OK, I am back. As I said before the new Latvian supermodel web page www.noratitov.com interrupted me I was saying how I have never been one for internet shopping. Unlike my mate Danny who recently told me he’d just bought a car on the Internet. He’d found a dealership, negotiated a price, chosen a color and had the whole transaction done and dusted within seven days.

Internet my arse… You can’t buy a car over the Net. You’ll never know whether the seat gives you backache, whether the salesman’s a bastard, or if you’re talking to a guy who says his name is Bill and he works for Ford when in fact you are talking to a Nigerian called Mr. Ugascrewu who’ll take your credit card number and bugger off with it.

What if you decided to do all your shopping via computer? Think. You could work from home, watch the latest movies and have everything you need brought to your door.

You’d never need to go out. So then you’d lose your social skills, become covered in boils and, eventually, you’d die. No one would know until goo started to seep into the apartment below.

For me, though, the biggest risk with the Net is fraud. I have been asked many times for my credit card number from a pop-up ad offering an incredible deal and, occasionally, I’ve felt tempted to tap it in. But I hardly ever do, because, for all I know, the vendor is a Colombian drug lord who will not be willing to uphold any money-back guarantee.

As I see it, the Net has two purposes. First of all, it’s a giant library which can tell you anything at any time of day or night. But not all of the information contained in the silicone-nerve centre can be trusted. So far as I can tell, there’s nothing to stop me setting up a website which says that Paris Hilton is 57 and has a degree in robotics from Harvard.

Try it. Go into the Net tonight and ask for biographical details of, say, Tom Jones. You’ll find that every site contradicts the next, whereas if you look in a book, you know every fact has been checked and then checked again. And most books are not written by 14-year-old boys with apple-sized zits.

So this leaves us with the Net’s only real purpose …………… pornography………………. and so with that in mind and before I answer today’s questions………..let me go to a website that will get me hot and all steamed up and excited …….. www.carnival.com/dream

OK, I am back and ready to answer today’s questions………………..here we go.

“BIG” ED Asked:
Please reply
I’ve noticed that since the Carnival Splendor has been on the west coast that the pool that is seen on the webcam has been covered by a net quiet often and nobody in the pool. Is there a problem with it sometimes looking like a wave pool? I’ve actually seen waves splash over the sides is the ocean that ruff there?

John Says:
Hello Big Ed
Well first of all it’s great to hear from you and congratulations on the continuing success of your own blog and community site that you have created. You have been with me since day one and I send a big hello to all your friends.
The main pool on the Lido Deck on the Carnival Splendor is like many of the pools on cruise ships that, in rough weather, do need to be emptied during heavy seas. Having water splash all over the deck obviously can cause a slip and fall hazard so sometimes the pool has to be emptied.

When this happens the safety nets need to be placed across to avoid the even scarier possibility of someone falling into an empty pool.

I just checked with Duncan the hotel director of the Carnival Splendor who told me that last week they did have to close the pool for a period of 24 hours because of heavy seas. However, there is no problem with it and right now it’s working properly. I love the lido deck on the Carnival Splendor, it’s my favorite of the fleet and with that dome being able to be closed when needed it means we always have full lido deck entertainment, music and fun regardless of the weather.
It should also be noted that sometimes we have to close our pools for other reasons. These can include they times when the surfaces need to be smoothed and painted and occasionally we have junior cruisers who have……ummmmmm……..accidents in the pools. Now when this happens it isn’t just the case of a deck hand getting a large poop a scoop and going fishing…………nope……….public health laws dictate that the pools must be closed and emptied. So, while most of the time the pools are open there may be the odd occasion that you may see it closed. When this happens it is very important that the cruise directors inform the guests as to why this is the case so they just don’t think we have done it for no reason.
Thanks mate and I send my best wishes to you and Pat

nyccruiser Asked:
I saw this in my local newspaper yesterday and the post on Cruise Critic; John I think you should check this out: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=979991
So what’s the deal? Is the Splendor and all Carnival ships required to post emails of all guests who opted out of tips. That’s a great way to ensure your steak gets ‘accidentally’ dropped on the floor and stepped on before served to you. I think Carnival should not be sharing this information with any crew until the cruise is over! Only the head purser and maybe the Captain should have access to such a list during the cruise, I certainly hope you can get things straightened out!

John Says:

I thank you so very much for taking the time to show me this and therefore the chance to reply. First of all, I just want to point out that it is certainly not standard protocol for information regarding which guests have removed the pre-paid gratuities from their shipboard accounts to be provided to crew members during the course of a voyage. Rest assured that dining room team headwaiters and assistants do not receive this information until after the voyage is completed and guests have disembarked. In this particular instance, the information should not have been posted and we have been in contact with the ship to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. As for “Poobear” who posted this on Cruise Critic………”The people cooking your food, know you’ve removed everyone’s tips. That could be bad””………………well to suggest what I think they are suggesting is well………………….bonkers.
I promise and assure you that the service standards we provide in the dining room will always be of the highest standard featuring brilliant service coupled with lots of fun and if any waiter or stateroom steward is not providing this it is vital that you inform the management as soon as possible.
Thank you again for bringing it to my attention
Best wishes

retirementman Asked:
I must be going crazy John. It seems that the entire cruising world or at least though who have cruised with Carnival and those that love you are going crazy waiting for the blessed Thingy. Waiting is a pain. I check your blog as much as I can during the day hoping to see that the baby has been born.
It seems all these people are complaining about the Splendor and Carnival. What about the other cruise lines? Weren’t they also affected by the Mexican affair? Did all the other cruise lines just blow in the air and gave their people beautiful everything? Why is it that everyone is crapping on Carnival? I would like to know.
Also John, on my cruise the ports were to be Cozumel, Belize, Roatan and Costa Maya. If we aren’t able to go to these three ports, how is Carnival going to assist me in these changes? Just wondering my friend. How about St. Kitt?
Paul F. Pietrangelo

John Says:
Hello Paul
As always it’s great to hear from you. I know there have been some very negative comments on Cruise Critic, here on the blog and on our Twitter page concerning the Carnival Splendor and that first cruise when the H1N1 virus. Many of these comments are from people who were from California and were obviously upset when the ship was refused entrance to all three Mexican ports and instead had to call at San Francisco. Carnival is dealing with these concerns and I am doing my very best here to answer any questions from those who contact me and of course our guest relations department is available as well. I can’t comment on other lines except to say that I recently read a blog started by the president of a major cruise line who was also bombarded with comments and concerns about the swine flu changes so it really is not just us.
However, there is no use hiding under the bed. We do have some people who are very upset at us and without going into details of what transpired again I will say that we must do what we can to listen to these comments.
Now mate, as for your cruise…….well, please forgive me but I can’t remember when you are cruising. It seems that the press has other things to talk about and we all hope that in the immediate weeks ahead that all restrictions will be lifted and the cruise industry can return to some normality. Please remind me when you are sailing and looking forward to hearing from you again soon
Best wishes to you and all the family

Irene Garner Asked:
Hi John…Please reply,
I hate to bug you at a time like this when you are waiting so patiently for your thingy to arrive. I just wanted to let you know that as of today, May 12, there’s still no sign of the package that was sent to my grandson. If you get a chance I’d appreciate it if you could check into this for me.
Thanks…Irene Garner

John Says:
Hello Irene
Please forgive me Irene but this was the Trophy you were waiting for…………that’s correct isn’t it? I had asked Stephanie Meads to do this so maybe she forgot. I am so very sorry. Can you please re send the address and I will ask Jaime to do this from Baltimore this weekend? I apologize again
Best wishes

Mary-Jo B. Asked:

John, please reply.
Gee, John, as a born and bred Canadian, I have never and never will live in the shadow of the United States. We are a large and wonderful country with wonderful, friendly and polite people, well, mostly anyways. We have the beautiful east coast with its spectacular scenery. P.E.I. is the home of Anne of Green Gables and the most amazing red earth. It is also the home of our confederation. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have beautiful villages and the Cabot Trail. Newfoundland is like a country of its own. Although small, it has a big heart and great seafood. There is also Quebec, the heart of French speaking Canada and Ontario, home of the CN Tower and Niagara Falls. Also, I must point out that the larger part of Niagara Falls, and without question, the nicer part is also in Ontario, not New York State. We also have the Prairie Provinces. Stand there and look over the wheat fields and you will believe that the world goes on forever. Out west, we have Alberta and British Columbia, home of the spectacular Rocky Mountains, the Calgary Stampede, Banff and Lake Louise, Drumhellar the dinosaur land, beautiful Vancouver and quaint Victoria. Our whole country is one wonderful discovery after another. You will never be bored travelling in Canada. So please don’t refer to us as living in the shadow of America until you come and see all we have to offer. I imagine it must be kind of like telling the English that the best thing to come out of England is the bus to Scotland!! Yes, my family is from Edinburgh Scotland and I have travelled extensively through your beautiful country. I love it almost as much as I love Canada, lol. Anyhow, just wanted to set the record straight. I am looking forward to hearing of the delivery of your wee thingy and can’t wait for those first photos. Good luck to both you and Heidi. We had the great pleasure of being on the Valor at the beginning of March with you as our cruise director. It was our first ever cruise and you made it wonderful. Thank you for all your hard work and your great sense of humour. Your little one will be proud to call you daddy.

John Says:
Hello Mary Jo B
I realize now how the words “living in the shadow” may have come across and I apologize for any offense caused. I have not seen enough of Canada but hopefully from my blog you will have seen that the parts I have visited were magnificent. I wanted to thank you and the many pother bloggers who have been trumpeting the city of Vancouver and the other areas of beautiful Canada and hopefully in the years ahead I can visit some of them for myself.
Thanks also for the kind words for the Thingy and Heidi and hopefully I will have some great news to share with you all soon.
My best to you and the family

Waiting4acruise Asked:

John, Please reply.
Waiting for Thingy to be born has to be as bad as waiting for your cruise countdown clock reach 0 days.
I predict Thingy will be born on my birth date, May 14.
I have one question. Why do the Carnival cruise ships only show ESPN on the TV in the lounges and not in the cabins?

John Says:
Hello Waiting4acruise
I hope both yours and my waiting will be over soon. Anyway, per our agreement with ESPN we’re allowed to broadcast their station in a public domain such as the sports bar and the Seaside Theatres but not for private viewing on the in cabin televisions. Strange ……..but very true.
Hope this helps and I hope you have a fantastic cruise

Kevin Stover Asked:
John, please reply
I sailed with you on the Carnival Splendor on July 2, 2008. I was very honored to be one of the first to sail on the ship. The ship and staff were amazing and that is probably the best time I have ever had in my life. You made me laugh every day and then I came home and started reading your blog thingy and you are still making me laugh every day and I would like to say thank you for that. I have just booked my 11th cruise on the Freedom in September and cannot wait for it. I have heard so many wonderful things about the ship.
My question is (and this may be a strange one). In the new fun director commercials the guy is wearing a red, white and blue jacket and pants, do you know where I can get those from. My friends make fun of me because I have a complete Carnival wardrobe, what can I say I love Carnival.
Thanks for everything.

John Says:

Hello Kevin
Thank you so much for highlighting your cruise with me on the Carnival Splendor. I also want to thank you for taking the time to read the blog and I do hope it will bring you more fun and information in the future.
The Fun Director is wearing a special outfit designed just for the commercials and as yet they are not available for purchase. However, it does seem popular and you are certainly not the first to enquire about them. I am going to send a note to my friends who run the on board shops and suggest that they had this to their inventory.
I hope you have another fantastic cruise on the Carnival Freedom and if there is anything I can do for you please let me know
Best wishes

Bob Boles Asked:

John please reply,
I keep reading comments about the Splendor cruise on 4/26, I was there and Carnival did the only thing they could do as no matter what they did it was going to be wrong with the guests! I would like to make this observation, We never saw the senior officers/cruise director out and about I understand that this was Brad’s first cruise as the cruise director and he took care of things that the rest of us never observed, but with the lack of interaction this was not a Fun Ship cruise. He could have used some help. This was my fourth Carnival cruise and has to be ranked as the worst. You/Carnival are more than welcome to contact me if wished.

John Says:
Hello Bob
I appreciate you taking the time to write to me about your concerns which have been well noted. It was a difficult cruise for everyone and especially Brad who as you mentioned was sitting in the cruise director’s chair for the first time on the Carnival Splendor. In situations like this it is very important that the CD and the senior officers be visible as this can make the difference when problems occur.

It was definitely a learning curve for everyone and I will make sure that I send this onto Brad and the hotel director who I know will be interested to read your feedback. If you have any other observations please let me know them here via the blog because constructive criticism is so very important to us.

Best wishes and hopefully cruise number five will be the best ever and I will be here to do what I can to make it so.

Best Wishes


Sarah Blacklock Asked:
Hi John,
More and more often I am reading the angry comments about the H1N1 virus and its unpleasant disruptions. You so patiently comment and attempt to calm these people, yet I doubt it does any good. Let me give you another opinion about the unfortunate situation. Maybe this one won’t sound so much like an ass with his bits being pulled off…
I was on the Splendor that fateful week all hell broke loose. It has taken me this long to come to terms with the fact that the vacation I worked so terribly hard for wasn’t meant to be. I heard the chants…”we want Brad! We want Brad!” and walked by on my way. I saw the line for the pursers’ desk, coiled like an angry snake. I saw the tears, from disappointed a woman sluggishly making her way to her cabin. Myself, I was upset, devastated, somebody took something from me that frankly CAN be replaced, but just not in the near future. That however did not give me an excuse to treat the crew like crap like those rowdy people did. They make me sick just thinking about it, looking down at the stupid mob embarrassing themselves. I was not accepting the changes gracefully, but had to understand the decision made. While I understood Brad trying to make the ship our vacation destination, it is a mindset I was not prepared to accept. I didn’t choose the cruise just for the ship, I chose it for the destinations. I chose to debark early that week. I made my way off the ship as fast as possible. I just wanted to go home. I wanted my money back, I didn’t want to go to San Francisco because I live just south of there, after all they had more cases of the flu than any of our ports, I…………….well I was being terribly selfish.
To Captain Cupisti, Brad, the poor girl from Romania in the gift shop who was working a 15 hour shift on her day off when she should have been sunbathing in Puerto, and all of the other crew members (except the grouchy night pizza guy)…I thank you, for doing everything you can to make a disaster something pleasant. Your hard work did not go completely unnoticed. It may be a while before I can cruise again, but I will.
I hope I didn’t anger you by bringing this up yet again. I feel like you deserve to hear something positive about it. I just really got tired of reading this and that about what somebody thinks Carnival should have done. Get over it, suck it up, you win some you lose some. Chalk that one up for the other team.
Can’t wait so see some new family pictures with your baby.
Thank you and best wishes,
Sarah Blacklock

John Says:
Hi Sarah
Even though you did not ask for a reply I wanted to do so. There is no doubt that the cruise of 4/26 was one where some guests left with a bitter taste in their mouth about their experience. There is also no doubt that we must address those concerns and hopefully anyone who has comments will have contacted Carnival by now and again, if they still wish to do so I am here to act on their behalf.

The reason why I wanted to reply was firstly to say that you must never apologize for writing what you feel. I never get angry………….except on yesterday’s blog when someone dared to suggest that getting to a port was as important as saving a life …………….so it is important that you and everyone else who may feel that we at Carnival need to know what we must do to continue to improve or if they have a problem that I am hear to listen.

The main reason though I wanted to thank you was for taking the time to mention the crew. Even though you were upset and disappointed you have taken your valuable time to remind us all of just how wonderful the dedicated crew of the Carnival Splendor was during this unfortunate voyage. …………..except the grouchy pizza guy who I now will be spoken to immediately. I will pass these words of yours to the ship and the senior people at Carnival and once again may I take the time to apologize for what was obviously a disappointing end to your cruise.

Best wishes

As we have been talking a lot about the Carnival Splendor let’s remind ourselves how beautiful a ship she is as you will see here as she enters the vibrant port of Vancouver



Just a quick note. I watched an interview with President Obama this morning where among talking about important issues such as the economy, the Middle East and the family dog he also admitted…….he was a Star Trek fan……….yep POTUS is a Trekkie. And then it struck me…………..all he needs is to get his wife to pull on the ends of his ears for a few days and………..he will become Spock…………President Spock ……. fascinating.

In my continuing endeavor to be as much prepared for the Thingy’s arrival I turned last night to Dad magazine. While flicking through the 53 pages, most of which are given over to ways of me spending more money on various toys and baby equipment I came across an article about Dad’s writing down a list of advice that they should give their sons and daughters. The examples were: Love one another, love the earth, be good to your Mother, don’t drink or smoke etc., etc………..so I decided to write down my top ten pearls of wisdom for my Thingy (if it’s a boy) to live by………..I will write the ones for if the Thingy is a girl soon…………..anyway…………….here are my top ten words of advice from Father to Son.

1. Never put off until tomorrow what you can persuade someone else to do today.
2. Before sending a bitchy email, double check you are not sending it to the person you are bitching about.
3. Lavatory seats go down as well as up. Basic stuff, but worth remembering if you don’t want to get in the doghouse
4. The secret to a happy marriage? Do as you are told
5. Don’t marry a vegetarian who wears sandals and has a beard…………you will be eating nut cutlet for the rest of your life
6. Briefs, not boxers
7. Don’t ever start a blog
8. While it may seem funny at the time to photocopy your genitals at the office Christmas party, it may hinder your chances of promotion
9. Your wife WILL grow up to look like your mother in law
10. Anyone from Paris smells

We are now off to hospital to see if Heidi needs to be induced. She is having painful contractions but her waters haven’t broken yet.

While I am at the hospital I might as well ask for a nice new XXL straight jacket and a nice padded room

Thanks for all the support – it means the world.

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.