In Ecstasy

December 28, 2009 -

John Heald

Hello everyone…………..I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Apart from having a rotten cold I had a wonderful time with the family but at this point I have to be honest and say …………..thank goodness it’s all over for another year.

I do like Christmas, it’s just that the lead-up to it is so stressful. Take the Christmas food shopping for instance.

Heidi decided on a dawn raid to our local supermarket the day before Christmas Eve… unfortunately our plans were discovered and the secret was out. We arrived to find that everyone in the entire county of Essex was trying to do the same. The place was jammed with thousands of people. You couldn’t move. There were lines everywhere and it seemed that prices had been increased just because it was Christmas………what with the masses, the lines and the expense at one point I thought that I was on the Mall of the Seas.

It truly was a shambles though. In one corner families struggled for control of the ready to carve Welsh Hams. Elsewhere pitched battles were being fought in the goose fat aisle after Gordon bloody Ramsey had announced that this was what you should put on your roast potatoes this year.

Some people had built shopping trolley barricades and had completely sealed off both the Christmas pudding (very English) and baking areas. We did our best and threw everything we could find into our trolley while I kept an eye out for trolley thieves …………these are the people who spot something in your trolley that they have forgotten and steal it from you…………the culprits are usually the innocent Susan Boyle look a likes or anyone over 60.

After two hours of hell during which my ankles had been bloodied by a lady in her seventies who had driven her shopping trolley into the back of me, we left £200 ($300) poorer and with enough food and provisions to feed the entire crew of your Carnival Dream.

Unbelievably, our plans then got even more crazy. Heidi had decided that we must all drive up to London to take Kye to see the Christmas lights. Heidi loves Christmas and does a fantastic job organizing it all, but this really was one step too far. I tried to refuse but like the Borg………. resistance to Heidi…….. was futile and I, along with the Kye, was forced into the car and off we went. It took us an hour and a half to get to the West End of London and another two hours before we found somewhere to park. And when we did it cost £20 ($35)…….what a load of bollocks.

Kye had slept in the car but when we arrived we had to wake her up to get her out of the Polar Bear killing Range Rover and into her Bentley of a stroller. She was not happy about this and as we marched her off to see the Christmas lights she opened her mouth and did her best Ozzy Osborne impression and screamed her version of Iron Man.

Nobody I know in London ever goes to see the lights; they don’t even go to the West End. Why would you? It’s horrible. I lived in the UK all my life and never saw the lights. Now, here I was…….because Heidi had seen the pretty lights on TV…………doing the tourist thing and feeling like a total idiot.

Once we got Kye to the lights she had stopped doing her Ozzy impression and had turned into Rip Van Winkle…………and was asleep.

However, worse was still to come because even though she is only seven months old Heidi decided that we needed to drive to our local town………..go to the local department store …………and take our child to see Santa Claus.

I should have realized that Santa actually does not live in Lapland but actually resides in hell as soon as we got there. The crash barriers outside should have been a clue. There were badly dressed elves trying to direct the flow of human traffic most of whom seemed to speak Polish.

We were squashed in line with hundreds of other families as we waited to see the bearded one. Finally (after paying our £5 – $10) we walked in to Santa’s grotto which had kindly been sponsored by IKEA.

Santa……..who for some strange reason sounded like Mrs. Doubtfire asked Kye if she had been a good girl………..Kye gurgled…….looked at him with her big blue eyes…………smiled…….and …….. suddenly I found myself saying ” yes Santa, Kye has been a really good girl haven’t you Kye.”

Now considering Kye is seven months old and has the conversational abilities of a ………… ummm ……….trying to think of the equivalent……….ummm………..oh I know…………she has the conversational abilities of a Supermodel and finds it funny when I wear one of her diapers as a hat………..I doubt that she was ready to comprehend the legend that is Santa Claus.

Yet, there I was talking to some fat git from Glasgow as though I truly believed he was Father Christmas.

We left a few minutes later with Kye’s complimentary Christmas gift that could have been purchased from the Everything’s A Dollar store.

However, the nightmare before Christmas was about to reach ridiculous proportions. There was a huge toddlers play ummmm….thingy at Santa’s grotto. You know the sort of thing. Play mats, bouncy things etc. There was also a large thingy of plastic balls and we say Kye in amongst them and she giggled and laughed and was having a great time. Ahhhhh……I thought………..great photo opportunity here.

And so I got the camera out and was just about to click away when I heard a sudden, unpleasant noise in my ear. “No photographs! No photographs allowed!” shrieked a voice. I looked up to see a security person wearing a facial expression that could have curdled a glass of milk. “But this is my own child and there’s no one else around,” I stuttered. It was no use. “Please turn off your camera now,” she replied in the tone a police officer might use to someone holding a gun.

I know I was concerned when someone put a photo of Kye somewhere it shouldn’t have been but come on……….this was my child………..and as I said………..there were no other kids in the play thingy in which she was sitting.

I looked at the mall cop and was going to tell her what I thought but decided against it just in case she gave me the good news with a tazer.

So I just smiled………….wished her a merry Christmas………and buggered off hoping that someone would secretly take a photo of her and put it on a swingers website.

Christmas though is over……..we spent a fortune and before we know it ……… will be Christmas time again. I know how we’re funding Christmas next year though………… selling off all the stuff we bought for Kye this Christmas that she either actively hates or shows bugger all interest in whatsoever. I include in this the all singing, all vibrating all light flashing baby chair I personally bought Kye. It seems though that my precious daughter would rather be tied to the ceiling fan …………….than ever sit in it.

I used to laugh when parents would say that you buy kids expensive toys, and they end up playing with the box. Well………they were right………..we spent a fortune on Kye…….and she ended extracting hours of entertainment playing and eating the laces on a new pair of shoes Heidi bought me…………..bugger.

Let’s see how Christmas was spent on the Carnival Liberty. Over to you Butch.

Hello John and hello to all the bloggers.

Today I want to tell you about something very important to me, that is especially important during the holiday season. Ever since I was very young my parents have instilled in me the importance of giving back to my community, helping those less fortunate than I and supporting others in their times of need. I have been very blessed to have been given opportunities in my life that have allowed me to give back to others and someday when I have children of my own, I hope to pass down the gifts of giving to them.

This year here on the Carnival Liberty we were given a wonderful challenge from the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) to host a holiday party and gift drive for special needs children in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. After being charge without task, our Youth Director Sanita and I put a plan in motion to host these kids on board the Carnival Liberty during a recent call in Ocho Rios. It would not be easy as there were 150 children assigned to come on board.

Upon our arrival in Ocho Rios, our security staff cleared all 150 children and their teachers to come on board. We hosted them in our dance club where Carnival Liberty team members helped the children color and create their own wearable back packs. A lot of the children had behavior and mental disorders and some of them were autistic and non-verbal, others had Down syndrome. Each of the children was assisted by a Carnival Liberty team member to finish their art project and then we threw a huge dance party for them. Let me tell you these kids loved to dance, but the party was interrupted by a special guest……Santa Claus! Who had brought a gift for every girl and boy in the room! Upon seeing Santa, the kids rushed to embrace him…..something none of us expected, but it was a really joyful moment to see 150 little face light up with happiness.

Each child got time to sit with Santa, be given their gift, and have their picture taken.

After the Festivities, our Food and Beverage manager Junior put on a very special Holiday spread for lunch with lots of kid favorites including pizza, hot dogs, chicken tenders, and hamburgers……but what caught the eye of most of the children was the massive dessert table prepared by our chef Rakesh which was filled with every possible holiday treat imaginable.

The day ended with lots of hugs and tearful goodbyes as the Carnival Liberty team bid farewell to a truly amazing group of children, which were so grateful to have had a holiday party.

Two days later when I was in Miami and called home to check in with my mom, she asked me, “You haven’t told me what you want for Christmas yet.“ I assured her that I already had everything that I needed for the holiday; the image of 150 smiling children ……..the only gift I needed this year had already been received.


Let’s have a look at some photos of this very special event.

What a wonderful story Butch and you and the crew of the Carnival Liberty have proven without doubt that Christmas truly is…………a time for giving. Thank you for sharing that wondrous story.

It’s time for today’s questions………… we go.

Peg Dunbar Asked:

John, I had asked you about reserving a room for the group that I will be sailing with on the Carnival Ecstasy leaving on January 14th.

If we could have a room for 60 on Friday January 15th @ 2:00 pm it would be much appreciated. It is our first sea day so I think that would be a great time to have it. If you could make the arrangements for me I will also send a note to the CD when I board the ship.
Thank you for all you do for us and thank you for taking care of this for me.

We have never cruised in January so it will be a lot of fun and being able to drive to the port is a plus too.

Thanks again John, you truly are one of the good guys.

I hope by the time you reply to this you will be home with your girls and your daughter will be celebrating her first Christmas. You are truly blessed as we are for you allowing us to be in your life.

John Says:
Hello Peg

It will not be long now before you and your friends are sailing on the Carnival Ecstasy. And I think you will be excited to see what’s coming up later in today’s blog. I have sent your request to the Cruise Director and Groups Coordinator and they will provide the room as requested and of course a notation in the today at a glance section of the Carnival Capers for the Cruise Critic group to meet. Please let me know if there is anything else you need.
Best wishes

Ken Stevenson Asked:
John, Reply, please.

Has Jen Baxter retired from the gay, mad whirl that is the life of a CD for life in Liverpool or will she be rejoining the Carnival navy?
Ken Stevenson

John Says:
Hello Ken

The wonderful Jen Baxter is currently serving as CD on the Carnival Legend. She is a fantastic Cruise Director despite being from Liverpool. Seriously, she is a wonderful asset and I hope get to cruise with her very soon
Best wishes

Marshall Asked:
John (Please Reply)-

My wife and I absolutely fell in love with cruising a couple of years ago, and will be taking some first-timers along with us as we take our third Carnival cruise in the past two years this coming April. We’ll be on the April 19th sailing of the Carnival Fantasy, and I have a couple of questions for you. First, I saw somewhere that you take over as CD in May. Will you be on the ship by then? Second, I was curious if the Fantasy has started the Behind the Fun tour or if it will have by then?

John Says:
Hello Marshall

I am so happy to read about your love affair with cruising and that you will soon be on your next Carnival cruise. Unfortunately I won’t be the Cruise Director of the Carnival Fantasy when you sail as I will be on the Carnival Conquest. Your CD will the lovely Risa Barnes and I know you will have a great time. The Behind the Fun Tour is massively popular and is now in place across the fleet. I always remind everyone who reads the blog thingy to book this as soon as you embark the ship via the Shore Excursion Desk as it does sell out faster than photos of me on a trampoline…….naked.

Have a wonderful cruise and please let me know if you need anything.
Best wishes

Kathy Roxo Asked:
Hi John (please reply)

Was a little sad to see that my question from your November 20th blog was the only question not replied to in today’s comments 🙁 I had posted as well on November 27th and my post never appeared in the comments section 🙁 I am not sure if I am doing something wrong when posting blog comments (some appear, some do not) or if it was a simple oversight because everyone involved is so busy and carries the weight of many responsibilities on their shoulders.

At this point, it is probably too late to re-ask for my favour but I, of course, will still comment 🙂

Having a child adds a whole new level of emotion to our systems that I don’t think any of us could really put into words – Becoming a ball full of tears when you talk to Kye is to be expected! You miss her so much and I am sure that when you do talk to her the true level of how much you miss her shows through and if you cry, then you cry, so be it. Kye is your heart and soul and your whole life, and to be a ball full of mush around her is not only normal but also a sign of what a magnificent father you are!

The pictures of the Dream are amazing as always! We will be visiting Tortola on our Freedom cruise that sails on January 2nd and I can only hope to get pictures that are half as beautiful as the ones in today’s blog!
Take care John!
Kathy Roxo : )

John Says:
Hello Kathy

I am so sorry that I replied to your comments later than I should but I did reply and I hope you saw my response. I apologize again for the lateness of doing so. I said then and say again now how much I appreciate your kind comments. Being here with the girls is a truly wonderful experience and even thinking of not being with them makes me feel…….well……words cannot describe. Have a wonderful cruise on the Carnival Freedom and look out for a little gift from me.

Thanks again Kathy
Best wishes

Courtney Harper Asked:
Please Reply

My husband and I will be celebrating our 5th anniversary aboard the Glory 1/3/10. Is there a way to get contact the Maitre d’ beforehand to request a table for two, as I was told there are usually only a few available? Thanks so much 🙂

John Says:
Hello Courtney

Thanks for taking the time to write and I will be happy to ask the Maitre D to assist you with your table request. Have a brilliant cruise and a very happy anniversary celebration.
Best wishes

Mike Brown Asked:
John Please Reply!

Another wonderful blog today! No worries about the tears mate! The only men who don’t shed one from time to time are telling a story! LOL! Sorry to hear that the ship missed Nanni! I know the Evil Krewe will be planning some evil now.

No to my please reply portion…I say in one of your responses to a guest that you said ” We couldn’t have had any guests onboard because of the Jones Act which states that guests cannot sail from one US port straight to another.”

How can this be true as we just sailed the Dream from New York with our first port being Port Canaveral and the Pride was with us leaving Baltimore and stopping in Port Canaveral with us. Is that not one US Port to another. I know we joke that Miami has moved from the US, but Port Canaveral too?

Hope the rest of the cruise goes without incident and that the Evil does not get to bad for missing San Juan!

Happy Holidays! Our love to Heidi and Kye! Cheers my friend!

John Says:
Hello Mike

First of all thanks for those words of kindness. It’s nice to see that a man understands where I am coming from and that shedding a tear or two isn’t so bad. Now, you asked about the Jones Act. It is quite complicated but basically debarking guests at two different U.S ports is not normally allowed under this regulation. However, in certain circumstances a cruise line can ask for permission for this to be waived as in the case of the two ships you mentioned. Now, the question I am asking myself here is who asks for that permission…….and who do they ask?

Honestly………….I have no clue. But I will find out for you though.

Hope this helps for now and thanks again for your kind support.
Best wishes to you and your family

Sara Asked:
Hi John, (Please Respond)

I don’t want to ask a favor, per se, but is there any way to guarantee you get to be in a certain dining room? My husband and I are going on the Freedom February 27, 2010, sailing and we have three cruise-newbies coming with us. I really want to WOW them at dinner by sitting in the Posh dining room, hoping that we get one of the tables by the window. My husband and I were seated in the back on our last cruise on the Destiny, and our favorite part of the day was coming back on the ship and having the most gorgeous view to go along with dinner. I just want them to feel the same way we did!

Thank you so much for all that you do. I think you are fantastic, and you make my waiting for my cruise that much easier! 🙂

P.S.: I am keeping my fingers crossed that you are going to be our CD. 😀

John Says:
Hello Sara

Thank you for bringing some first time cruisers to the Carnival Freedom and I am sure that they will be “wowed” by the service, the fun and the entertainment that the crew will provide. I have sent your request to the Maitre D and I know he will do all he can to help you with your dining request.
Have a wonderful cruise and please send us your review.
Best wishes

That’s all for today. Now obviously because you allowed me a few days off I am way behind. Those questions I answered were posted on December 8th and 9th and I have more from that timeline to answer tomorrow. Please bear with me as I try to catch up.

Throughout the cruise industry the holiday season was celebrated in many different ways. I thought you might like to check out a video on Holland America’s Eurodam Christmas decorations which is accompanied by a traditional Dutch children’s song. Also you will see the latest panorama video taken onboard the much anticipated Niew Amsterdam.

Here is the link thingy:

Now, I have been talking a lot in recent days about your Carnival Dream and it’s easy to forget that we have 21 other ships. And so I would like to highlight with you one of the ships that I don’t talk about much here on the blog thingy. She is our second oldest ship……….she is a ship where I served as Cruise Director in 1992 just two weeks into service after the original CD resigned and became a monk………and it is a ship upon which I worked with many people who are now in senior positions onboard or in the office……………such as:

ROGER BLUM………………He was the Hotel Director and is now a Vice President.

KERRY STABLES…………She was the Dance Captain and is now the choreographer and Director of many of our brilliant production shows.

ROBERT KING…………….He played the saxophone in the orchestra and is now in charge of all the fleet’s musicians.

CARLO QUEIROLO………Carlo was Staff Captain and is now of course the Captain of your Carnival Dream.

DOMENICO CILENTO………….Domenico was the Safety Officer on the ship and is now…………..the Captain of the very ship I am talking about.

It was then and still is one of the most popular ships with our guests and of course the ship I am talking about is………..the Carnival Ecstasy. As you know she has recently been the benifishery ………..the benifitierary……..the benifactior……….she has received her new and sparkling multi-million-dollar upgrades and I asked my old friend Captain Cilento to send me some photos of the upgrades. Here they are.




















Doesn’t she look amazing? And there will be more photos of her in tomorrow’s blog. As I said just now, it is easy to forget that with all the deserved hype about your Carnival Dream that there are other ships in our fleet as well…….and those photos show that it is important that we don’t. I wish that the Carnival Ecstasy was on my list of ships to visit next year but she isn’t……but I do have her sister ship the Carnival Fantasy to look forward to and I hope some of you are going to be coming with me.

As you know we had lots of fun on the bloggers cruise and Jordan and his beard took some amazing photos of the ship and the fun we had. Here is a link to a quite brilliant slide show.

Well, thanks to some chap called Umar Farouk Abdulbastard all of us who fly trans Atlantic are now once again subject to stricter security regulations. For those of you who have been living in a cave or haven’t turned the TV on recently let me tell you what’s happened. Umar was overpowered as he tried to detonate explosives apparently sewn into his underpants. He emerged from the toilet, put a blanket on his lap complaining of an upset stomach, then tried to detonate the bomb. Passengers and crew restrained him as flames leapt from his clothing. Obviously it is wrong to make jokes about this situation so I will refrain from mentioning that every time I fly there is always an explosion in my underpants.

Obviously security has to be tightened and not just at airports. I am told by my fellow Cruise Directors that this past Sunday United States Customs and Border Patrol just as vigilant. Ryan, the CD on the Carnival Glory told me that his guests were subject to individual checks as they disembarked. This meant that each and every guest ID was scrutinized very, very carefully.

So, I think the message is that whether we fly or cruise……..we will…….thanks to Umar Abdulbastard………..have to swallow a large dose of patience as we embark and disembark.
As this is my blog I am allowed I think an opinion on what happened and all I want to say is, why is it that someone who is on the watch list can get through yet Heidi’s mother who couldn’t look less dangerous, gets manhandled and fondled every time she flies?

There is only one answer …..and I think the FAA, the CIA, the FBI, and MI5 should take my suggestion really seriously. The only true way to make sure that people like Umar and his mates don’t get to bring anything on to the plane is to allow no carry on baggage at all……..and ………all passengers must fly naked. Yep…….naked…….now you may get lucky and get to sit next to a Megan Fox lookalike…….but of course you are more likely to sit next to me……….which isn’t so bad…..because although not pleasant to look at naked……I do make an excellent flotation device.

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.