A Career Change

May 28, 2009 -

John Heald

I have decided to leave Carnival Cruise Lines……………..well…………..I will if I get the new job I am going for. Yep, this year may be my last with this great company.

If I get the job it will mean a small increase in my annual salary which will rise to it $36 million a year. It involves two days work a week (with half the year off), and the only skill you need is the ability to be a total bastard who is prepared to be brutally unpleasant to people’s faces. Candidates with a British accent will definitely have an advantage, so that’s me with an advantage then – although they’ll need an American work visa because the job is based in Los Angeles….and I already have one of those as well ……so no problems there then.

Yes, this position exists. In fact, a campaign is already being planned to the find the right person to fill it. It’s like a real-life version of Willy Wonka’s quest to find an heir to his chocolate factory

If you haven’t guessed already, the job is to replace Simon Bowell …….. sorry ………….. Cowell as a judge on American Idol, a $1 billion a year franchise and the most watched television show in the US. Cowell’s contract with the show runs out at the end of next year and negotiations to renew it have stalled according to the news here in the UK.

This is in spite of Cowell being offered what is termed “Oprah money.” There are some who think Cowell’s refusal to sign an extension to his contract is just a negotiating tactic, designed to wring even more out of his employers. ……….the selfish git!

I’m not so sure. America’s “Mr. Nasty” turns 50 this year, and he doesn’t like having to answer to anyone but himself. If he leaves Idol, he can launch his own TV stuff in the US (his existing contract here forbids it), while spending some quality time with the humungous pile of cash he’s about to make from Susan Boyle…..unless he decides to give all the money he makes from the Scottish songstress to charity. And that’s about as likely as Susan Boyle appearing on the front cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit addition.

But if Cowell does leave, it won’t be easy to replace him. Well……..I am the obvious choice but who else is in the running? Cowell has become such an institution on this side of the Atlantic that even the current occupant of the White House refers to him in speeches. Could Idol even survive without him? Or would it be like trying to get people to take a Carnival cruise where the only activities were basket weaving and wild flower pressing?

The makers of Idol have at least one big advantage: when you’ve got a $36 million salary to offer amid the worst recession in half a century, you have your pick of candidates. But who are they likely to approach? Madonna might fit the bill: she’s annoying enough, and even has a British accent fake though it may be. The shock-jock Howard Stern, a long-time fan of the show, would be vastly entertaining and I may start to watch the show myself if he is in it.

And there’s always the unfailingly blunt Gene Simmons, of Kiss who once declared to a female interviewer on the BBC: “If you want to welcome me with open arms, I’m afraid you’re also going to have to welcome me with open legs.”

Nope ……I think I am the best bet for his job and as much as I would cry for at least 30 seconds on leaving Carnival after 22 years I would make sure that at least I wouldn’t tell the young people who audition that they are crap and should go work on a cruise ship ….. because the truth of the matter is……..the majority of them simply aren’t good enough to sing in our shows.

So, I shall be sending Fox TV my resume and who knows…..you may see me next year sitting next to Paula Abthingy telling Porsche from New York that her version of I will Always Love You sounded like a hamster being dipped in acid and she should bugger off home…………………Idol my arse.

Time for today’s questions……….here we go.

Juan & Maria Santana Asked:
John please reply…
Hi, John, would you pls. clarify something for us…. On earlier blogs you mentioned that you would be temporarily the CD on the Freedom starting June 20 or so…. Now on a recent response to a blogger you mentioned July 20. Which is the correct date? The reason we are asking is because we are booked on the 7/18/09 Freedom cruise and weeks ago, thru earlier blogs, we were very happy to hear that we would again have you as our CD. Now we are afraid we are going to miss you for a couple of days! What a shame! Please advise. Thanks.
The Santanas of Miami Beach

John Says:
Hello Juan and Maria
I am so sorry for my typo and as thick as I am I do put this down somewhat to sleep deprivation ……….and stupidity………and the fact that I have the typing skills of Captain Hook. I join the Carnival Freedom on June 20…have a few days handover with Todd and then spend a few weeks as CD leaving on August 28. So you will indeed get to see me and I will do my best to make sure you have a brilliant time
Best wishes to you both

steveaaaaa Asked:
John, please reply.
A recent blog posting of yours ended up on cruise critic and it was still not clear to some of us and I am hoping you could end a long running debate regarding auto-tips.
The CCL website states…
For your convenience, we automatically charge the gratuities for dining and stateroom staff to your onboard Sail & Sign account. The total amount is $10.00 per guest, per day (our recommended guideline) as follows:
$ 3.50 per Day Stateroom Services
$ 5.50 per Day Dining Room Services
So my question/s is…….At the end of the cruise using the auto-tip method from my Amex credit card, does the room steward get the whole $3.50 per day per person and does my waiter and the assistant waiter get the whole $5.50? Because your website uses the terms “Housekeeping services” and “Dining room services” and not the term “room steward” and waiter/asst. waiter respectively.
So, are deductions for the fees associated with an Amex card or other credit card deducted from the auto-tip and whether there are floor supervisors or chief housekeepers, etc. also getting a small percentage from the $10 per day?
Thank you in advance

John Says:
Hello Steve
It seems that the subject of tipping is quite the topic over on Cruise Critic and apart from the chap who suggested that Carnival keeps a percentage of the gratuities all the questions are very valid. After all, it’s your money and you want to make sure that the right people get the money you have left them.
So, let me see if I can answer your questions as simply as I can.
Let’s start with the $3.50 per day stateroom services. This dollar per day amount is paid to the stateroom steward. He or she is the person who will introduce themselves to you at the start of the cruise and is responsible for the cleanliness of your stateroom and of course all the little extras that make your cabin experience so much fun. Now, the stateroom Steward can be responsible for the servicing of up to 20 staterooms and that as you can imagine is a huge task. Therefore each stateroom steward has an assistant who helps clean and tidy the cabins. The gratuity of $3.50 per day per person is paid to the lead or head stateroom steward. He or she is then responsible for giving a percentage of that money to their assistant. The gratuities you leave do not go anywhere else but to these two people who receive 100% of the gratuity and both positions receive a salary from Carnival Cruise Lines.
The floor supervisors are managerial positions and do not receive any gratuities from the guests.
In the dining room you have the team head waiter and the assistant waiter who are responsible for the service and fun in the dining rooms. As with the stateroom steward the waiter receives 100% of the gratuity that guests leave them and he or she will then give a percentage to the assistant waiter. No other management positions in the dining room receive any of the gratuity money given to the waiter and assistant and both receive a salary from Carnival Cruise Lines.
The only other tipping position in the dining room is the maitre d. He is responsible for the overall service and entertainment in the dining room and tipping them is common in the industry but totally at the guest’s discretion.
I would be grateful if you or Host Mach could post this on the thread thingy and I would like to think that this will now put this subject to bed but if you or anyone else has a follow up question of course I remain at your service to answer it. I am thankful to you for taking the time to write and for not taking the word of someone who obviously is talking out of his bottom.
By the way, I would like to take this chance to remind everyone that the recommended tipping amount for the senior cruise director is $1,000 per person per day.
Best wishes

Kersplott Asked:
I have finally recovered from my month aboard the Freedom (11/08) and 2 months on the Splendor but have gotten the cruise bug again so have booked what now seems to be “Bubbas” last Alaska cruise leaving Vancouver 9/9. Is there any chance you might consider doing your Alaska cruise then? That will be the final cruise into Glacier Bay which is beautiful. Also Vancouver, BC is a beautiful city that you truly need to see. If you were to be on the Spirits last Alaska cruise to call on Juneau for 2009 I would take you and Bubba to the Waffle House at Auke Bay. Yes that is right I live in Juneau, Alaska and I am taking a cruise there which is not unusual………most of us never get tired of the scenery.
Continue to enjoy your little pink bundle because all too soon she will be attending her senior prom.

John Says:
Actually…………..you know what……………that might actually be possible. I would love to cruise with Chris “Bubba” Roberts. I have never seen his brilliant Blues Brothers Show and I have never been to Alaska so it would be wonderful to do both at the same time. I hope you never find a cure for the Carnival bug and I hope you infect many more people with it.
Thanks for the kind words and I am relishing every moment with Kye.
Hope to see you soon and best wishes until then

Flynlo Asked:
John Please Reply,
Help us out on the Cruise Critic Board! Do waiters or room stewards get to keep all cash tips, regardless of auto tip reduced, removed etc. Some of us prefer cash tips, but lots believe that waiters or cabin stewards are reprimanded when auto tips are removed. True or not. Thanks for any help.

John Says:
Hello Flyno
I hope you just read the explanation I gave just a few questions ago about tipping. I assure you that regardless of if the tips are left on the guests’ Sail & Sign card or withdrawn and paid instead in cash that the positions you are tipping receive 100% of the money. There are no exceptions to this. Unfortunately it seems that this confusion was started by someone who truly had no bloody clue what he was talking about which is a real shame.
Now, if tips are removed the guest services officer will of course ask why. The most common reason is that people wish to pay in cash and that’s fine. However the guest is always asked if they are removing the gratuities because they are unhappy with the service provided by the stateroom steward or dining room team. If the guest was to say “yes” then the crew member in question is thrown in the brig and publicly flogged…. I guess I shouldn’t make light of this but having read some of the opinions where people really think that if a guest removes the gratuity we automatically reprimand them without investigation is ludicrous.
Now, there are times of course when the service has not been what we or the guest expects and on these occasions appropriate re-training is given and in rare cases the crew member concerned would be given an official warning. The reason we ask guests if they are removing the tips because of the service is one of the ways we continue to find out where our weak links are and thus improve. It is of course also important to remember that some people remove tips ……….well………..ummmmm……….because they just don’t think people deserve them despite the excellent service……..and that’s life.
So once again thanks Flyno for allowing me a chance to set the record straight and if you or Host Mach could add this to the miles of thread on this subject I would appreciate it.
My best wishes

lyleba Asked:
Please reply
Hi John, Heidi and Kye,
I loved the video, pictures of both grandmothers and the stories you have to tell. Make sure you a keeping a journal because time flies by too quickly and you already have many precious moments to treasure!!
I wanted to wait awhile until I wrote about our Fantastic Splendor cruise. We’ve been on Carnival since the early 1990’s and have to say we’ve seen so many talented groups along the way. On the Splendor back to back 4/26-5/10 we had the pleasure to spend most nights listening to a marvellous duo “Summer Breeze”. May and Rey are the singers and they had a standing room only crowd in the Atrium each night. Where have they been hiding? Please tell the CD to keep them in the Atrium! I hope Carnival keeps them around because they already have a huge following. They have to be one of the best we’ve ever heard on any ship! We stapled a letter to our customer comments after our 5/3 Splendor cruise and I just want to be sure they know how much we enjoyed their music. Is there anyway you can check and see if they were read our letter? Thanks. (I wrote it on our Platinum stationery, John and Barbara Lyle). The letter mentioned Maitre D Ken, and all the others that made our cruise fantastic. What a great group on the Splendor!!!!
As for the complaints about noise on the Splendor from the El Morocco I think I can help. The band “Voodoo” I believe has their speakers much louder than they need to be and they sing many songs that border on screaming. If they could tone down the volume, I think it would solve the problem. Louder is not always better.
As for the Victory, I’ve been reading some great reviews so I am glad I convinced my son Michael and his wife , Ashley to be on board the 6/28 cruise for their 2nd wedding anniversary. As you remember I was a bit worried after some reviews I read but now I know it will be great.
Have a great week with your Beautiful Two Girls!!!

John Says:
Hello Lyleba
What a fantastic review and I am very much aware of the duo Summer Breeze. It is quite astonishing that the Philippines produce so many amazing musicians and we at Carnival enjoy highlighting their talents. You know, it was a few years after the Carnival Destiny that we started to realize that the atrium was a fantastic place to have late night music in. I started using a duo in fact on the Carnival Liberty during her European season and it was such a success that we now have lobby duos or solo entertainers on most of our ships including the Fantasy and Spirit class as well.
I am sure that the duo received your letter and just in case they did not I am going to forward your words of praise to Duncan the hotel director and Brad the CD to let them know how much you enjoyed them. Thanks also for the information on the speakers in the El Morocco. Following the bloggers comments about the music being heard in his cabin I know Duncan is looking at the scheduling of the entertainment there and will find the information on the speakers very useful as well.
Thanks for the beautiful words about Kye and I send my best wishes to you and the family

stef aka hockey addict Asked:
Hi John!
(Non cruise question, please reply if you want)
Please do not say you are sorry for talking about sweet Kye! We love it! We enjoy hearing your stories about her! Please tell us more! Also, feel free to add all the pictures of your awesome family!
Once again you had me laughing…. thanks again for that!
OK here is my question…. when people in the UK refer to another person as “Poppet” what does that mean?
Thanks for making us laugh and smile today as always!

John Says:
Hello Stef
I am glad so many seem to enjoy the Kye updates and photos and there will be a few words about her later in today’s blog. Poppet – is a very old fashioned English word that is a term of great endearment and affection, used to describe in one word all the feelings of warmth, comfort, kindness, generosity, honesty and strength of character you feel every time you are with that person……….darling would be another similar word. My Mum always called my sister “Poppet” and me……..she called “lazy sod”……oh well.
Hope that helps
Best wishes to you and your Poppets

Stacey Asked:
just curious as to when the next instalment of CD’s will be posted.

John Says:
Hello Stacey
I have the CD schedule here but because of some changes that will be made later in the year that I can’t make public yet I am not able to post it. However, if anyone wants to know who their CD will be up until January 2010 then for the most part I will be able to answer this for them. As soon as Chris has made the final changes I will of course be posting it for you.
Best wishes

Shanenurse Asked:
John, (please reply)
Like others we wish to start by telling you how much we enjoy the pics of and stories about Kye. Your observations are extremely funny, you should consider writing your own “Daddy to be” book.
Our questions, we have two. First, we want to ask about something we have heard here and on the cruise critic site, future cruise certificates, aka booking next cruise on board… We have asked about such things on two different cruises (at the Purser’s desk) and have been told such things do not exist. Yet we still hear about them, even on your blog. We are already booked on two more Carnival cruises (including the Dream’s transatlantic) and have contacted our PVP bout 3 more in 2010, so we would really like to know if this is available.
Secondly, we have now completed 4 Carnival cruises, and have not yet seen a Carnival Currents. We even called customer service and they said we would be put on the list for the next issue, but that was at least 5 months ago (though I don’t know how often they come out).

John Says:
Hello Shanenurse
A daddy book………..mmmmm…………..possibly but only if it came with a scratch and sniff section so the readers could experience what its like to be showered in chicken korma poo. Thanks though for the kind words of support.
We currently have the ability for guests to book onboard on a few of the ships and the cruise certificate you mentioned was one of the promotions they were offering. It meant that for a $100 deposit certificate purchased toward a future cruise we would match the $100 with an onboard credit on your next cruise for the same amount. As you can imagine it was very popular. As I write a team of people in Miami are considering whether to expand this promotion and to see if we should put future cruise specialists across the fleet. I will check into the latest news on this soon and let you all know.
I get lots of requests here to be added to the Carnival Currents mailing list and it looks like we need to do a better job in getting these magazines out to people who request them. They are I think quarterly publications and I am so sorry that you have yet to receive yours. I will make sure that your name is given to the right people so that this is rectified and my apologies for the delay in this happening. Thanks for taking the time to write and if you have any follow up questions please let me know
Best wishes

techmom Asked:
John (do not have to reply but use your powers please)
I have a picture of my husband changing our oldest when he was a baby wearing a mask. Maybe you should get a pack of them from the hardware store. I will say that at the age of 24 the poo doesn’t smell any better!
Two more days of work and off to my cruise on the Pride. Half Moon Cay here I come!! Now I have seen pictures of some cruises from the last few weeks and John, I need your powers to make sure that the weather is bright and sunny every day while we are on our cruise! I know you can control that and I frown heavily on rain and the boat rocking and rolling.
Just yanking your chain-you see I have issues when people blame everything that happens on the cruise line. Yep, the cruise line has control over the weather, someone getting sick, turmoil at a port and the list goes on. Each day you wake up and you don’t know what the day is going to bring. You can control only the things you can control, the other stuff just happens and you make the best of the day that God has provided!
Hugs to Kye!

John Says:
Hello Karen
A mask – why didn’t I think of that…….although judging by the smell from this morning’s evacuation I think I may need a full hazmat suit like Dustin Hoffman wore in Outbreak. I have spoken to God about the weather and she said………it will be perfect weather for you to enjoy the delights of Half Moon Cay.
Have a fantastic time and please write and tell me all about your cruise when you get home
Best wishes for calm seas and sunny skies.

That’s all for today and the next group of questions marked for my reply will be answered tomorrow. Please keep the comments coming. I enjoy reading them so much as do most of the senior people at Carnival who truly listen to what you say here.

OK, time for me to take a break and cuddle Kye giving her plenty of opportunity to poo on me again……..so while I change a diaper……….I will leave you I the company of Jaime.

May 26, 2009

Dear John,

Despite what anyone says, I swear from the bottom of my heart that I was not trying to poison the cruise director!

Let me explain, Monday morning, 9:30 am, cruise director Kirk complains of being hungry, I offered him a vast selection of different granola bars that I had purchased from the friendly local Baltimore Wal- Mart. He selected the bar labeled “Sweet & Salty Peanut.” I went to bingo, and Kirk met me backstage before the Travel & Adventure Talk. When he arrived on deck 2 Kirk’s forehead appeared slightly redder and blotchier than usual. He was scratching his hands like a maniac. Plus, he was sweating profusely through his shirt – this was especially odd because he never perspires… as you may have seen from the pictures he is practically an Olympic athlete in his spare time.

I simply got him a bottle of cold water and prepared his podium so he could begin the talk. I went and sat back down to balance the bingo funds, and as Kirk was rounding the corner to tell me that it may be necessary to call the infirmary, he collapsed to the ground instantly. Seriously, I have not seen a fall like that since the whole Nancy Kerrigan-Tanya Harding experience… It was just like that only far less graceful and slightly lumpier. I jetted over from my bingo table, and one of the male dancers helped Kirk up. Even under these intense physical conditions Kirk opened his bloodshot eyes, and delegated that dancer Ruben would escort him to the infirmary and I would be doing the Travel & Adventure talk, in my blue Domino’s Pizza uniform, without going over the notes.

Apparently after getting a few shots and having an IV in his arm for 2 hours in the infirmary, Kirk suddenly recalled that he had a similar reaction to peanuts about 6 months ago while cruise directing on the Spirit. Nevertheless, he has greatly enjoyed eating nuts several times since then without any life threatening physical reactions. You will be happy to know that after being incoherent from the injections for a good 6 hours, he bounced back and blamed his friendly Assistant Cruise Director (that’s me) for his reaction to the poison nuts.

Earlier in the week, before Kirk tried to give me my second attempt at accidental acting cruise director, he did something extremely kind, loving and honorable by helping guests make their wedding dreams come true. Kirk helped Rodell, one of our Carnival Pride guests, set up the perfect proposal for his girlfriend Lee Ann. Kirk began by calling the couple and informing them that they had “won” a romantic evening for two. He coordinated the Food and Beverage, Housekeeping, Photo, Audio/Visual, Entertainment and weather optimization departments in order to set the scene for a perfect romantic evening. Kirk organized a candlelit dinner on the terrace right outside David’s Steakhouse, the beautiful sunset was blazing in the distance, one of our finest acoustic guitar soloists serenaded the couple as they fed one another chocolate covered strawberries and the finest French Champagne we have… which was made in Italy.

Lee Ann looked simply stunning, and her soon to be husband was dressed in his favorite cut off Bill Cosby look-a-like sweater. I am certain they had an extremely memorable evening. Rodell got down on one knee, looked into Lee Ann’s soft brown eyes and explained he had “been thinking about it for a long time, and I want to marry you.” It may not have been the most eloquent of proposals, but it was simply perfect nonetheless.

On another bright note we had our friends Mike and Rich from the DuPont Safety Team sailing with us last week, meeting with several teams of crewmembers about how to identify different safety-related situations, what to do in the even of an emergency and the new safety positive reinforcement program that the company is beginning at the end of the month. The opening of Mike’s presentation was him telling the story of a housekeeping team member named Putu watch as a man struggled on Lido deck to make it across the pool tile floor to the elevator area. After the man took only a few steps the crew member rushed over to help the elderly gentlemen and personally escorted him arm in arm to his destination. After witnessing this heroic endeavor, the safety representative awarded this crew member the very first Guest Safety Dollar. The crew member thought nothing of the act of kindness he had extended to the guest; he was actually quite surprised that he was being commended for something that was part of his daily routine. But similar to this guest safety dollar, a reward system is going to be put into effect fleet wide in appreciation for acts of kindness being displayed by crewmembers. I believe this is a great way to praise positive actions.

Sailing out of Baltimore for the past weeks has been nothing short of wonderful. I am here for a few more cruises before heading over to the Freedom to work with John. The guests here are so incredibly friendly and appreciative, and it has been great meeting so many bloggers along the way. Hello to Barbara and Valentine who were just here last week!

The Carnival Pride Entertainment Team
The Carnival Pride Entertainment Team
Ben, Mel, Jaime, Kirk, Matt, Steven and Donna

The Carnival Pride docked in Grand TurkThe Carnival Pride docked in Grand Turk

Mel - who will be on the Freedom soon, Kirk, Jaime, Barbara and Valentine!
Mel – who will be on the Freedom soon, Kirk, Jaime, Barbara and Valentine!

Looking forward to meeting you soon…
All the best,
Your friend,
Jaime =)

As Vance, our mate from PR, said yesterday……….”Jaime, you can really tell a story” and he is so very right about that. It sounds like you and Kirk is having a great time together and that you are on top of things! I hope you both get to work together soon as it seems you have built quite a relationship that I know every one is enjoying……except the people in the cabin next to you. Seriously, thanks Jaime for another brilliant Dear John letter and we all send you and Kirk and all the Carnival Pride Team our very best regards.

I know many of you enjoyed the photos from Paul our PVP mate …………especially those from Half Moon Cay. Here then are some of the pictures he captured during a recent Carnival cruise to Nassau.







Cheers Paul for those great photos more of which I will share with everyone tomorrow.

It seems only yesterday that some of us were enjoying the bloggers cruise on the Carnival Fantasy. I thought you might like to read this brilliantly written article as featured in the industries top cruise magazine “Porthole.”

To read the article click here.

Well, that brings back great memories and certainly wets the appetite for the Carnival Freedom Bloggers cruises and the one for 2010 which I hope to have information on soon. A special thank you to our friends Lynn and Cele Seldon who are a great team and whose articles and opinions are treated with the utmost respect by those in the cruise industry………..oh yes……….and they are also wonderful people.

Well I must say I huge thank you to all those people who took the time to write about their babies’ experiences with colic. Heidi and I read them all and we have learned a lot from them. Heidi has changed her diet and cut out all citrus based fruit and juices as well as cauliflower, garlic and onions. We also read how one blogger wrapped their child in a “swaddling” fashion and held her like a football and we tried this and it certainly helped because she had a much better night and cried much, much less and slept from 2 – 6 am which made her and us very happy. It seems that she may have had trapped wind because so far today she has been her serene self and even found time to poo a river of something that looked a little like a pina colada…….I had to fight the urge to stick a little umbrella in her diaper.

Anyway, thanks again for your care and concern and if Kye does indeed have another colic session we both are a bit more prepared to handle it……..well Heidi is anyway ……. I am sure I will still find the whole thing totally distressing.

I read with so much sadness the story of a three-year-old girl in California who accidentally shot her younger brother dead with a gun found in her home. The girl is believed to have found the .45 calibre semi-automatic handgun under her parents’ bed. I cannot possibly imagine the pain and suffering that the family must be going through today.

This morning at 5:30 am I arrived at Heathrow Airport……..or hell as it is known here in the UK………..to collect my sister Suzanne who has flown in to celebrate Mum’s 70th birthday which is today. It’s great to see her and we certainly get on much better than we did when we were both living at home and she gave me a big hug this morning despite that fact that when she was 16 and a boyfriend came to collect her I told him she had been rushed into hospital because all her hair had fallen out and she had diarrhea ……….. she was actually upstairs getting ready……and we never saw him again……. good ……. because he wore leg warmers and was certainly far too comfortable with his feminine side.

Anyone with brothers and sisters will have intense memories of sibling crimes committed against them. Suzanne has also forgiven me for the time I urged her to drink a glass of “strawberry juice,” only for her to discover it was blood drained from raw meat lurking in the family fridge. And my mother still remembers the time I stuck bubble gum in her hair which had to be cut out……I did that by the way because she had dared to play with my GI Joe.

Of course I have always loved to play practical jokes on people and for many years Suzanne was my principal victim. Do you remember when Sarah Palin was had over by a DJ? In case you have forgotten a few days before Election Day a Canadian comedian/DJ person telephoned Mrs Palin pretending to be Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France. For quite a few excruciating minutes she spoke to a man using a comedy French accent not unlike Inspector Clousseau’s his wife Carla Bruni’s sexual performance and, at one point, broke into song, yet she suspected nothing fishy, possibly thinking that “zis is how all ze Frenchies are in zair ‘ome country of Finland.”…………..“Du rouges á levres sur une cochonne” (lipstick on a pig….as translated for me by Heidi). Perhaps it would be useful if all politicians seeking high office were targeted for harmless pranks, for then we would have a better idea who was clever and who was as thick as the hull of the Carnival Dream.

My sister got her own back for the years of torture I had given her by getting a friend of hers from work to call me last year saying that he was Lloyd Fernley a TV producer from the BBC and that he had discovered my blog and wanted me to come down to Television Center in London because they wanted to discuss the possibility of me hosting a chat show.

I fell for it hook……..line……and sinker. Three days later …….two days before Christmas 2008 there I was standing on the platform of the local railway station at 7 am ready for my 9 am interview. I was excited, nervous and ready to prove that I could be a talk show host. I had told my Mum, Dad, Heidi, Alan and many other friends and the only reason I didn’t put it on the blog was because I was worried what Carnival would say …….and besides……..I wouldn’t get it anyway……….would I?

My train was due at 7 am and just five minutes before as I stood in the Baltic conditions of a British winter freezing cold my phone rang ………it was my sister …….. laughing hysterically ………..and then I realized……………..I had been had. If it had been me and the roles were reversed I would have let her go all the way to the BBC studios

Hello – I have an interview with a Mr. Fernley at 9 am
A Mr who?
Sorry, we don’t have anyone here by that name
Yes you do – he called me – a Mr Fernley – he’s going to make me a star
Bugger off

That was her revenge as was the time when she cruised with me when I was a young CD on the Holiday. She got all my staff to empty my room of absolutely everything including the mattress, chairs and all my possessions and clothes. My instinctive reaction was to cry like a baby with colic, call them all immature bastards then demand that they put all of it back exactly as they found them, please. But I knew that, in this split second, I’d be forever judged as a “big girl’s blouse” if I said what I really thought, so I threw back my head and shrieked with fake laughter, all the time worrying what they’d done with my underpants.

So tonight, we will have a birthday meal for Mum here at the house with Dad, Suedrip, Heidi, Kye and Heidi’s Mum Ria. We have already arranged for gourmet Indian food to be delivered. My sister has asked for a mild chicken curry…………..but ……… by accident I ordered instead an extra hot vindaloo………….oops!

Here is Suedrip and Kye


Your friends
John, Heidi and Kye

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.