The Eagle Has Landed

January 14, 2010 -

John Heald

Sir Michael Caine has always been one of my favourite actors. I think it is because he seems to be exactly the same off camera as he is on. Just an east end of London lad made good. I love his movies apart from Jaws 38 which even Mr. Caine admits was a load of bollocks……….but it paid well. His films such as The Italian Job, Escape to Victory, Get Carter, The Man Who Would Be King, Alfie, The Eagle Has Landed, The Cider House Rules and The Battle of Britain are all in my humble opinion………..simply brilliant.

I am sorry though but I didn’t like the Dark Knight Batman films. They are very far removed from the original television show I used to watch as a boy. For instance, instead of biffing and kapowing his way through supermodel thin plot in a body hugging super suit, our hero is a brooding and complicated character, tortured by inner demons, a sense of his own worthlessness and perhaps a touch of shame about how he once showed Robin his bat pole back in the sixties.

But that’s not why I am talking about my most favourite of actors in today’s blog. Nope……….it’s because I was watching an interview with him last night on TV and he was talking about getting old.

Michael was born in 1933 which makes him…….ummmm………bugger…………hold on ………. need to find a calculator……….I will be right back……………..which makes him 77 years old. He said how difficult it was for “older” actors to get the best roles in today’s cutthroat movie world.

Anyway, I didn’t really think anything off this until after the interview had finished when the host then introduced a British stand up comedian who is quite famous here. I won’t bother writing his name down because you will have never heard of him. However, my point is that having just listened to one of the greatest actors this country has ever produced this supposedly funny 20 something came on the show and did ten minutes of stand up…………about old people.

He is not the only one as I see and hear each and every week our shipboard comedians do the same. It seems that ageism is the only “ism” that a comedian can get away with these days. It is inappropriate to make fun of someone’s race, gender or disability………..but an old person …….. well………….go right ahead

I’ll admit to ageist moments myself, such as when I’m tutting in the line for the ATM machine and the elderly person at the front is bent double over the keyboard slowly pressing every single option key and always, always requests a receipt. Or when I am following an older person ……… ….back up the gangway after a day in port……..desperate for a pee.

But on stage where as you will know I love to have improv fun with guests…….I never make fun of their age……… me it just doesn’t seem right, it isn’t funny to mock the aged.

Except though that it seems nobody cares. I have received complaints from guests if a comedian dares to make a joke about religion, colour or being fat……unless the comedian is overweight themselves of course, then its OK. However, I remember during the election campaign, comedians gorging themselves on the hilarity of ancient John McCain’s age. One of our ship comedians I remember said “John McCain looks like a Wal-Mart greeter or like the guy who brags that oatmeal has lowered his cholesterol”…..the audience on the Carnival Splendor laughed out loud.

It seems that all a comedian needed to do was to mention John McCain and add Viagra, hearing aids, dentures and driving……….and he or she has a guaranteed laugh.

Why does old age give comedians a license to say what they want?

I think I may be feeling like this because my Dad is 75 and every joke this comedian made on the show last night made me think of him.
One day we shall all be old and maybe then I will feel different about this subject. Maybe older people like hearing jokes about themselves………if that’s the case then they won’t mind me saying that the only thing I am looking forward to about being old is being able to fart in public and having those around me who heard and smelt it simply go…………”ahhhhhh.”

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

Marie and Dream Catchers Asked:
Good Evening John, pls respond if you have the time and the room…
My sister and I are on the Dream Feb 20th. as a part of the CC Group the Dream Catchers.
As you have stated earlier, you were going to make it to Our Meet and Greet, Heck, you are probably putting together the time and place for it. I do hope you will stay for a bit. At the end of that M&G Time, My Sister and I are planning on cutting off 8-12 inches of our hair for a Charity call “Children with hairloss” If you stay, maybe you could do the honors of cutting off the braid. If so, and you botch the job, could you get us into the Salon for a quick fix? Just Kidding, how hard can it be to cut off a braid?
Many of the Dream Catchers are donating to the cause by way of Buttons we are making, I can make a special one for you too! After reading about the Liberty Crew and there giving back for Christmas, I am sure this will be a fun thing to do as a part of Our Dream Cruise. (With any luck, I can do it again on my Liberty Cruise Jan 2011) Looking forward to seeing you on the Dream. 53 more days and counting down!

John Says:
Hello Marie and the Dream Catchers
I would be honoured to come to your Meet and Greet. Has someone asked me to put together a time for this. Excuse me for not remembering but I do get asked to do a lot of these. Please let me know and I will make sure that it is mentioned in the Carnival Capers. What wonderful things you have planned for the charity you mentioned and I am not sure you want me to be cutting your hair but if you want me to I will be happy to do so. Please have someone contact me via the blog thingy to make sure that all is arranged and that I don’t forget to come along and say hello to all my Dream Catcher friends.
Best wishes to all

Irene Garner Asked:
Dear John….Please reply
I am so excited, as today I booked another cruise. This time I will be taking my daughter and her fiancé, my son and his wife, and my three grandchildren. We are sailing on the Carnival Imagination on November 29th, 2010. We have a long time to wait, 333 days in fact, and I’ll be counting down every one of them.
I tried to click on the link to see who will be the CD at that time but it won’t open. Mind you it says it’s only up to June, 2010. Are you able to tell me who the CD will be In November, 2010?
I would also like to know what the name of the show will be on the Carnival Imagination, as we seem to have had the luck to see the same shows even though we pick different ships and different places to sail to. For example, the show my daughter saw on the Carnival Spirit, sailing to Alaska in September 2009, was the same show we saw in August, 2008 on the Carnival Freedom, sailing to the Mediterranean.
This will be the first cruise for my son and his family, and I’m sure they’ll get the cruising bug too.
Best wishes for the New Year,
Thanks…Irene Garner (Hooked on Cruising)

John Says:
Hello Irene
Congratulations on booking your next cruise and I hope this blog thingy will keep you going until it comes along. The Cruise Director schedule should now open with no problems and I won’t be able to tell you who the CD is on the Carnival Imagination in November for a few months yet. Hopefully by the spring I should be able to do so. I am glad you like the shows and the ones on the Imagination are superb and include the award winning Shout and Living in America, both of which are superb. Thanks so much for your continuing support of Carnival and if there is anything you need before you sail, please let me know
Best wishes

cruisingeagle Asked:
Please reply
Hi John,
Enjoy your time with Kye. She will grow up faster than you realize.
My middle child is getting married on January 30, 2010. She and her husband are cruising on the Carnival Triumph on February 1, 2010 for their honeymoon. They would love a table for 2. They are confirmed for the late seating. Please contact the Maitre D and see if he can arrange for them to have a table for 2 for their honeymoon cruise. They became engaged on the Carnival Imagination on July 14, 2008. Yes, it has been a long engagement but they wanted to finish school before getting married.
Thanks for your help John for the table for 2.
I am looking forward to our cruise on the Carnival Triumph on June 5, 2010. May have to try and work in a cruise on the Carnival Fantasy while you are the cruise director.
Enjoy being back on a ship and being a cruise director. When will Heidi and Kye get to sail with you?
Thanks for continuing the blog. It does keep me going between cruises.

John Says:
Hello Cindy
I have sent your dining request to the Maitre D on the Carnival Triumph who I know will do his best to help your daughter and soon to be son in law to get the table they desire. I wish them both a very happy honeymoon and I am sure you must be very proud of them both. I will cross my fingers and hope that we do indeed get to sail together on the Carnival Fantasy. Best wishes to you and all the family.

Kathie Geistler Asked:
Hi John, (please reply)
This is our 17th Cruise. Our Group sailed with you on the Destiny Feb 2 1997, we love that ship. One of my all time favorites and you couldn’t have made it more enjoyable. I have been on all class ships in the carnival fleet. We will be on the Dream Jan 23, 2010 our group is the BOOZECRUISE we were hoping that you will be CD that cruise, I understand if your not as you have a whole lot of places to be, but we have always talked about our cruise with you as CD as it was the best! Looking forward to our DREAM!!! Have a wonderful New YEAR!
Thanks Kathie

John Says:
Hello Kathie
I also have wonderful memories of the Carnival Destiny and I am sure you and your friends will absolutely love your Carnival Dream. I will be onboard but won’t be the Cruise Director as I will have a one week hand over period with Todd. Hopefully though we will get to meet and I hope you all have a brilliant time. Best wishes to all

Mike M Asked:
John, (respond if you want)
Just read the latest Blog. I can definitely relate to the shopping thing. I felt for ya Sir…Hope you and your family had a Great Christmas together.
My heartfelt appreciation to Butch and the entire staff of the Liberty. That’s what a kind hearted person and a Company like Carnival would do with out hesitation…some type of staff you have there Sir. Hope to sail with him.
In regards to the ”Stupid Flippin,” trying to be polite and something a child could read, “Idiot” who tried to blow up the plane, You are definitely correct. My Wife and I definitely don’t mind standing in line at the airport or boarding a ship if it means we will be safe…Again, Been there, done that… More power to the passengers who took him “OUT” and made him Naked
Mike M

John Says:
Hello Mike M
Just wanted to write back to you and thank you for taking the time to write that fun and honest comment. I am very proud of Butch and will make sure that he and the staff of the Carnival Liberty get to read your words of praise. I hope the blog continues to bring you some fun and information and continues to inspire you and others to post their feelings about cruising and the world we all share. Best wishes to you and the family

Jeanette Asked:
John, please reply
My fave maitre’d is still on the Liberty, but a little bird told me he put in for a transfer to the Glory for January. My friend from the Liberty (Sept 08) and I will be on the Glory sailing January 17th. Please can you tell me if Alex (Alex K) is going to be the maitre’d on the Glory and if he is PLEASE pass on our info that we want to be where he is! We’re both single and we need the eye candy. The reservation info is —–
Another question is what is the cost of the Cabanas at Half Moon Cay?
Thanks John!

John Says:
Hello Jeanette
If you need Eye Candy I will be happy to send you a photo of me dressed as Tarzan! If not then you will be happy to know that Maitre D Alex is indeed currently serving on the Carnival Glory and I have sent him your information. Have a wonderful cruise and hopefully by the time you read this I will have had a reply from the Shore Excursion Manager on the ship to tell me how much the cabanas are at Half Moon Cay. If not, then I will add the information to tomorrow’s blog thingy. They are beautiful though and should be reserved as soon as you are on board as they do sell out very quickly.

Have a brilliant cruise.
Best wishes

MSQPON – Jo Myerly Asked:
John, Pleasereply
Hi John, Dave and I are really looking forward to sailing on the Carnival Elation as she sails through the Panama Canal starting April 30, 2010. I am curious about several things. Do you know who the cruise director will be? Is she going to go to dry dock for any upgrades before we cruise? Does she have a seaside theatre or is she getting one. I think this is going to be an exciting trip. Come on clue us into some of the things Carnival has in store for us on this trip.

John Says:
Hello Jo
I will be featuring the Carnival Elation in a forthcoming blog and featuring her public lounges and entertainment areas. She does not have a Seaside Theatre but as you will be able to read on this link thingy she has so much to offer.

The Cruise Director will be Steve Knisley who is a great CD and I know you will really enjoy him. Please keep reading the blog and I will make sure that as promised I feature the Carnival Elation and her pending Panama Canal voyage soon. Best wishes to you and Dave

Mike Asked:
I was a passenger on the new Carnival Dream two weeks ago 12/12/2009… I really enjoyed the Kakoakee Hostest MOUNA CRANE….. She is the best!!!!!! I have been on three (3) Carnival ships with her and my wife and we both I really enjoy seeing her, she is very amazing. The next cruise for us will be # 10 yes VIP members and I hope to see Mouna again. Please Respond…

John Says:
Hello Mike
Anyone who meets Mouna never forgets that they have done so. She is truly incomparable and I know she has many fans on this blog thingy of ours. I will make sure she reads your very kind words and thank you for taking the time to write them. Congratulations on reaching your Platinum status and hopefully Mouna will be there to celebrate with you.
Best wishes

Mel Asked:
Dear John (Please reply):
I sailed aboard the Liberty with the one and only Butch Begovich Dec. 12-19 for the Eastern Caribbean run. The last time I sailed with Carnival was last year aboard the Freedom and I thought nothing could top that experience. I was very wrong. The only word I can use to describe the cruise is amazing. Embarkation quick and smooth, guests and staff equally working together to move the lines. The ship has the friendliest staff and best service of any ship I have ever been on (including other companies and other Carnival ships). You would see Butch around the ship, at all the shows, the themed nights, and always accessible to the guests. He and his staff were all about making the trip fun for everyone (he has a great disco dancing class and his part in the fun hop was great as well). He had two hosts that really made the trip great: Rosie and Rick. You could see that they were all about fun and making sure everyone got into the spirit. The staff in the Golden Olympian dining room were great as well. It seemed as if it truly was what Butch said all along: every member of the crew was working together as one big family.
The only “bad” experience on the trip was the steam room in the ladies spa area being down most of the trip. I say “bad” because it did not make or break the overall experience on the cruise. What got to everyone, guests and even the crew who were use to it, was how rough the water was. On the last evening we hit a rough storm and the ship really rocked. Butch came on and told everyone that everything was okay and to please exercise caution.
John, a quick comment related to the posting of the CD list: I am looking for a cruise for next December and I have narrowed it down to either the Valor, Liberty or Freedom. I have had a good time on each ship, and, in this case, it would come down to who is the CD on the ship. If Butch was on one of them I would pick his ship in a heartbeat! He is a great cruise director and an amazing person. You can tell how much he loves his job! All three ships are great, but the CD does help make a vacation that much better 🙂
Hope everyone had a great Christmas, and will have a happy New Year as well.

John Says:
Hello Mel
What a fantastic review and it is already winging its way through cyber space to Butch and the senior management of the Carnival Liberty who I know will relish reading it. My apologies that the steam room was out of order but again your positive outlook on life is to be commended and the fact that you did not let this spoil your hard earned vacation is exemplary. I am not sure who the Cruise Directors will be on the ships you mentioned this winter and I don’t want to guess in case you book based on this and then find we have changed the schedule. Can you wait until April? We should know more by then. It is though superb that you wish to sail with a particular Cruise Director as this once again cements the fact that we do have the best in the business.
Thank you for all the kind words. Best wishes to you and the family

That’s all for today and there will be more questions asked on Friday.

OK, I was asked about the stunning cabanas available on the private island of Half Moon Cay. I thought that as they are so popular that I would post the information here for all to read.

The Private Cabanas are $225 and can accommodate up to 8 guests.
Full Day Rental
Enjoy the ultimate in luxury during your stay on Half Moon Cay with the use of your own private cabana. After being the first to tender ashore, you will find your cabana outfitted with a refrigerator, ceiling fan, air conditioner, table and chairs inside, as well as deck chairs and misting shower on the private terrace. You will be provided snacks and an assortment of soft drinks and bottled water to quench your thirst. You can pre-arrange rentals through our Staff onboard at the
Shore Excursion Desk, please see the desk for availability. “

And the Private Oasis is $1395 and can accommodate up to 25 guests.
Full Day Rental
Enjoy your day on Half Moon Cay with family and friends in your own Private Oasis, a 1,620 square foot grand cabana. Perched on a point, partially over water, with a walkway into the crystal clear turquoise water, this grand cabana offers 1,620 square feet and includes a large covered deck and comfortable sun deck with an eight-person hot tub. Features include a barbecue area, full wet bar and refrigerator, indoor teak dining table seating six people, outdoor teak lounges and bar stools accommodating 12, massage table, iPod music system, multi-colored Bahamian tapestries, men’s and women’s changing rooms, indoor and outdoor showers with heated fresh water, 100-foot walkway with misting stations and privacy gate. Your package includes the services of a butler, personal chef, bartender, cabana Steward, and lifeguard along with the following: Whole fresh fruits, Chips & Salsa Beverage package with Domestic and Imported beers; house pouring ‘wine by the glass’ (Red, White and White Zinfandel); Cocktails (Bahama Mama, Rum Punch, and Yellow Bird); frozen tropical classics
(Pina Colada, Strawberry Daiquiri, Banana Colada, Margarita); mocktails (Virgin Pina Colada, Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri, Virgin Banana Colada). BBQ Lunch Buffet with selection of two salads, grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, fresh island fish, barbecued chicken, brownies and cookies. NOTE: The base rate is applicable for up to 12 guests. Only one guest need purchase the reservation for the 12 guests. For groups with more than 12 guests, an ‘extra person surcharge’ for the Private Oasis at Half Moon Cay must be purchased for each additional person from 13-25 guests.”

So there you go…………pure luxury…….on an absolutely fabulous island………go on………..treat yourself.

Have a look at what I am talking about

Here is an e-mail from my friends the Bentleys who are currently sailing on their Carnival Dream.

Hello John
Just finished a meal at the Steak House and it was amazing. The service and the food were both outstanding and every table was full which should make Carnival very happy indeed. Thank you for the bottle of wine you sent us even if it was the cheapest on the menu.
The Bentleys

Well……….let me firstly say………ungrateful sods. I always thought a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 goes well with a superb porterhouse steak.

I have heard that the steakhouse on your Carnival Dream is indeed one of our very best and very popular with the guests. I also realise that there are some readers of the blog thingy who may have never experienced a meal there and realized just what $30 can get you. So for them and for all of us who love the steakhouses on our Spirit, Conquest, Splendor and Dream class ships……………..lets have a look at what’s on offer……….through Radu’s magnificent lens.

I hope you enjoyed this slide show and my sincere thanks to Radu once again for sending them to me.

I have been chatting with you about the comment cards quite a bit here on the blog thingy. You will know that I am not a big fan of the “exceed and met my expectations wording” and I have not given up hope of getting that changed. However, there is no doubting how important they are to us and to our guests. Obviously there is a lot of competition amongst the fleet to be the best and while the demographics of our guests and the type of cruise each ship offers are different, each ship wants to be at the top of the ratings tree. Each year Carnival hands out a special award to the ship that has had the highest overall ratings throughout the year and for 2009 ………………. the winner is…………once again…………………..the Carnival Ecstasy.

Yep……………our second oldest ship in the fleet gets to keep the Crystal Eagle Award which they won last year. I send my congratulations to The Captain and the crew of the Carnival Ecstasy and to the people of Galveston and beyond who took the time to fill out their review cards and rated their cruise vacation so highly.

Here is what our President and CEO Gerry Cahill had to say to the Captain and his officers, staff and crew:

It is my pleasure to inform you that the Carnival Ecstasy has won the Guest Carnival Crystal E.A.G.L.E. Award for 2009!! As you know, this award is presented to the vessel that achieves the highest guest comment card rating for the year.
This is the first time that the same Carnival Crystal E.A.G.L.E. award has been awarded to the same vessel four times. Congratulations on this historic achievement!

The award stands for:

E xceeding expectations
A nticipating needs
G oing the extra mile
L asting memories
E xcellence in every aspect

This is a tribute to all the officers, staff and crew who worked onboard the Carnival Ecstasy during 2009.

I will be personally presenting this award to the Carnival Ecstasy and we will advise once the schedule is finalized.

Please pass on my congratulations to your entire management team.

The entire fleet should be proud of our collective efforts in 2009. We look forward to even more success in 2010.

All the best,


Thanks Gerry and we can see from your words just how proud you are of the Carnival Ecstasy team.

I would also like to send my personal congratulations to the ship’s Cruise Director Steve Cassel. For those of you who may have not sailed with Steve let me tell you something about him. He is our longest serving Cruise Director. He is the fiddle playing star of the X-treme Country show and his performances are guaranteed a standing ovation. Yet his performance on the violin of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons somehow crosses over and has guests again on their feet, some, in tears at his moving performance.

I guess one of the reasons for this is because it is so unexpected. You see, Steve portrays this goofy somewhat nerdy character at the start of the cruise. Yet, after he has played his violin and performed his very funny juggling show……..well………..he has the guests eating out of his hand.

Here he is with the much coveted Crystal Eagle.

So, congratulations to Steve and everyone on the Carnival Ecstasy……you should all be very proud.

By the way………..did you know that Carnival also has their crew members complete a crew comment card? This asks the crew to judge their life onboard and the hospitality shown by the senior management. This was won by the Carnival Legend last year and I will let you know who won it for 2009 very soon.

I try not to bore those of you who think stories about my daughter are about as interesting as watching paint dry. However, I do want to finish today with a concern I have about Heidi and Kye coming on the ship…………….breast feeding………….in public.

I was thinking about this morning when Kye started to get a bit moody while we were in the High Street in Southend buying me a new pair of shoes………….more about that in a future blog.

And so we popped into Starbucks and while I ordered a decaf crapafrapacino for Heidi and a cup of tea for me…………….Heidi sat down and gave Kye her mid morning snack.

As Kye had a good “drinkies” as we call it I couldn’t help but think of a comedian we have onboard who in his show says that women who need to breast feed in restaurants were just “too lazy to plan ahead” and in his show he says that a breast feeding lady said “it’s natural”……..his reply which obviously the audience laughs at every time is……..”well so is masturbating but you wouldn’t do that in public.”

I guess he is only saying what quite a lot of people secretly think already. Heidi uses something called a Mamaflage that allows her to breast-feed without offending people who think its still 1950s……………..and people staring at her boobies.

As she fed my beautiful daughter I still got the feeling, though, that the people around us were not happy and I imagined that if Heidi were to do this on your Carnival Dream’s Promenade Deck that the comment cards may be full of “the fact that I saw the Cruise Directors wife breastfeeding ruined my cruise and I didn’t even get a fruit basket.”

Well, I guess I shouldn’t worry about it although I must admit that my thoughts on this have changed. Before we had Kye I was probably one of those who thought it was a bit strange to breast feed in public and that the only ladies who should get their boobs out in restaurants …………….were Latvian lap dancers

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.