A Fascination With Skiing

February 4, 2010 -

John Heald

I called my friend Tim Lawrence yesterday. I was his best man at his wedding and yesterday he and his wife Hazel celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. Tim is a very successful accountant which means of course he is boring…….something I tell him all the time. He During our conversation I tried to persuade him to bring his wife and three children on a cruise……..but he won’t………because he said “didn’t you hear, they have raised the terror threat here in the UK and the States , no way am I flying.”

“Oh bollocks,” I replied.

Here is a successful man who employees 30 people and has a huge house and a Mercedes and a Porsche (the bastard) yet he refuses to get on a plane because he thinks we’re about to be attacked by more Abdul and his mates, with their copious beards and exploding underpants!

I had not realized that the threat level had been moved to the second highest level of security alert, meaning that a terrorist attack is now “highly likely” and that the threat to us all is “severe.” Rather than simply “substantial” and with a “strong possibility” of attack which is what it was last week apparently? That term, “highly likely,” is not quite so bad as “imminent,” which is the very highest level according to the FBI, MI5 and IKEA.

My mate Tim is part of a tiny minority who think that when it’s “imminent” that they should all stay indoors hiding under the bed eating canned food and pooing in a bucket. I sometimes get the feeling that the bearded ones in our governments will be happy only when we agree to stay indoors all the time and maybe venture out for milk and Pop Tarts once a week.

Personally, I don’t see why they bother with these alerts. We all know that we are facing greater danger than ever before, but Brown and Obama will not tell you where that danger comes from and you know there is bugger all you can do about it…… other than be more “vigilant.”

It simply makes all of our lives more fraught and less pleasant and especially so, I would reckon, if you are a decent Muslim of which there of course many. I just don’t see why they bother then and dropping these “security levels” would probably make my friend Tim and those like him pick up the phone and book a flight to take him on a cruise. And besides…….the last chap who tried to blow something up managed only to set fire to his testicles.

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

cj Asked:
John – please reply,

Do you have your schedule posted somewhere on this blog? I have been trying to find it. I am thinking of taking one of the Carnival Pride cruises from Baltimore, but will only consider it if you are the CD, as the itinerary is less than exciting to me.

Also, I have been wondering for quite a while if any other CD at any time has done the bedtime story. I KNOW I have seen it before, but I don’t think you were the CD. If no one else has done it, were you the CD on the Carnival Destiny in July, 1999? Trying to remember this is driving me crazier than I already am.

Thanks so much for all the work you put in this blog for everyone.

John Says:
Hello CJ

That’s very humbling indeed. I always feel very proud when people ask what ship I will be on because they want to book a cruise with me. I am scheduled at the moment to join the Carnival Pride in September and I will confirm this 100% in the next few weeks. The last thing I want to do is have you book and then find that I am not there. It is more than likely I will be there from early September but I will confirm that very soon.

As for the Bedtime Story…..well……there are one or two or three CD’s who have ummm ….. borrowed this from me with or without my permission. That’s part of the business ….. people “borrowing’ from others. I was on the Carnival Triumph in 1999 so you must have seen one of the “borrowers” do my bedtime story. I hope you get to see it with me later this year.
Thanks for all the kind words
Best wishes

Doug Asked:
John (Please Reply)

John, I know you have been enjoying your time at home with Heidi and Kye. Time goes by fast, or at least it has been for me, now that I am getting a little older. Hope you’all (you will be hearing that term more when you come to Galveston) had a great Christmas and are off to a wonderful start to the New Year! It’s great that Heidi and Kye will be able to sail with you this year. Sounds like the start of some wonderful adventures together and I know you will enjoy having more time together.

We had a wonderful cruise on the Carnival Ecstasy last month. Captain Cilento and his crew did a fantastic job and took good care of us. Lots of fun and a great time was had by all. Thank you for helping out with our dining request. The Maitre D came to our table, introduced himself, and said that you had asked him to look after us, which he did. He came by to personally check on us every evening, and made sure we were well taken care of. I feel bad because I do not remember his name, please forgive me. We were in the Wind Song Dining Room, Table 369, Early Seating, December 17th Sailing. Our Waiter, Luna, was the best Waiter we have ever had! He called us by name every evening, provided an excellent survive, kept us well informed about things that were going on, told funny jokes, and took a real interest in getting to know us. He took what is a great dining experience anyway, and made it even better! The Ship looks great and I could go on and on, but will wrap this up by saying that once again I got to see Carnivals commitment to safety on the seas. During our sea day Sunday as we headed back to Galveston, we passed an empty life raft. We turned around and spent several hours looking for anyone that might be in the water. We then resumed our course for Galveston. The next day was my birthday and I thought I would be starting the day by having to disembark this beautiful ship first thing in the morning. However, due to our turning around the day before, I got to spend the morning onboard, had a great breakfast in the dining room, and it was a beautiful day with seas as smooth as glass as we approached the Texas Coast.

I see you get to do one of your favorite things on your birthday, flying. When I was a boy and my parents would ask me what I wanted to do for my birthday, I would tell them that I wanted to go flying, and have been at it ever since. I am flying domestic right now so unfortunately will not get to say welcome aboard on the 22nd. Once my Daughter is out of High School next year I may bid to fly International out of Miami. It would then be my pleasure to welcome you aboard. And when that time comes, if you will send me your booking information, I will send you a little something.

John; Enjoy the rest of your time at home, have a good trip over the pond, and thanks for flying American. Also, thanks for all you do for us Carnival fans!

John Says:
Hello Doug

Thanks for all the kind words at the start of your posting and I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday season. Thank you also for that great review of your Carnival Ecstasy cruise vacation. There is no doubt you met a Captain with a totally unique personality and Captain Cilento has always been one of my favourites. I don’t think he knows how funny he really is. I am glad your table request worked out and my thanks to the Maitre D for that and I will make sure he gets to see your words of praise. It seems you had a fun and somewhat eventful birthday cruise and I hope it isn’t too long before we see you again on one of our fun for all ships.

I hope one day I get to fly with you Captain and until then safe travels and thanks for sailing Carnival.
Best wishes to you all

Barry Asked:
John, Please respond (privately if you choose)

First an update and then a request.

After 12 weeks on my diet, my glucose has dropped from 115 to 98, weight is down from 234 to 207, my cholesterol triglycerides have dropped from 185 to 106 and my HDL increased from 35 to 39. Protein Power works! I have been rather strict about the 30g carbs/day and it is worth it. I actually eat MORE food now because of increasing my protein intake and loading up on low carb foods. I hope you have the same success.

Request(s) – I’m taking my martial arts teacher and his wife (Dan Anderson and Marie) with me on the Carnival Liberty sailing Feb 27th. This is the one where I tried to schedule training but it didn’t work out. Our booking numbers are 99LR10 and 99LR71 (cabins 6258 and 6254). This is their first cruise and I want it to be fabulous (guess why I booked Carnival). I owe this man a lot for both his teaching and friendship. Would you mind letting the Maitre’d know that we would like to be seated together for dining?

Second item is I see that the CD has been changed from Butch to Kevin Noonan. I would like to bring a small thank you gift for him and the captain. Could you tell me if they like a particular wine, liquor, cigar, chocolate or something? I want to bring something they can use and will enjoy rather than a t-shirt or souvenir they don’t have room to store anyways. As always, appreciate any assistance and the smile your bloggy thingy gives me every day. Megan Fox does indeed possess a world-class bottom.

John Says:
Hello Barry

Congratulations on your blood sugar control. I just had my 6 month review and my AC1 was 6.5 and my cholesterol was excellent at 3.9, that’s a UK level, not sure what that is in the US. My sugar levels average between 5.0 and 7.0 through the day and I am off carbs pretty much all together. I am taking B12 tablets as well as multi vitamins and a cinnamon tablet twice a day along with my Metmorphin……..my pee is a very interesting colour indeed. I wish you continuing success as well mate.

I will of course send a request to the Liberty Maitre D with your table request and you will still in fact have Butch as your CD. Risa Barnes had to take a leave of absence from the Carnival Fantasy so Noonan is CD there now for a few weeks until Risa returns. How kind of you to think of Butch and the Captain both of whom love baseball caps of any kind. Maybe you could bring them one from one of your local teams? Have a wonderful time and if you have time please send me a review
Best wishes

Jeff Steinberg Asked:

John, I just wanted to drop a quick note; I have been reading the blog for a few months now and can honestly say I love it. It’s great to follow the new and exciting things that develop with carnival. I will be cruising on the Carnival Valor on Feb 7th, is there any way to specifically request a table on the 2nd level of the Washington Dining room? I wasn’t sure if there is somewhere to email with dining requests.

John Says:
Hello Jeff

I am glad you are enjoying the blog so much and I have sent a request to the Maitre D on the Carnival Valor to see if he can accommodate your request.

Have a great time
Best wishes to you and the family

Susan Asked:
Dear John, (please reply if you get a chance)

I say let the guy fish! Although I wonder if the fish are able to swim fast enough to keep up with the moving ship, because obviously if you’re on a moving ship, then your reel will be moving at that same speed. But I’m not about to knock how much money somebody spends on their hobby, I’ve thrown down $800 for a pair of ice skates, and I’m certainly no Olympian. As for not being a DIYer, I find that a shame. After having worked in an ER, I can tell you those people that try to do everything themselves usually give us the best stories to laugh over. Although really, who hangs up a picture frame with no pants on? 😉

Stay warm until you leave. Make sure to watch wear you step and not to slip on ice! I already did that a few weeks ago and broke my wrist. Seeing as how I still went on the Liberty to the Eastern Carib. With said broken wrist, I can tell you it’s not a very comfortable experience, having a broken bone in a hot climate.

Anyway, I wish you a safe flight. Now my question is just how much do you pack for each trip? Do you just take enough outfits for 7 days with as many changes per day as needed and just wear the same thing for months on end week after week? Not sure why I wonder this, but it got me thinking.

John Says:
Hello Susan

That’s a brilliant point. I never thought to think of if the fish could swim at the same time as the speed of the ship. Anyway, regardless it was very funny to think of a chap on lido …… fishing. Heidi and her entire family skate. Not the girly triple salco style of skiing but the speed skating that is so popular in Holland. Having the balance of a drunk penguin on stilts means I am useless at skating.

Packing……I hate packing and would rather clean Judge Judy’s toilet with my tongue than pack. Sometimes I wish the CD’s did have a uniform so we didn’t have to travel with suits and jackets and shirts and all the other stuff. I have a trunk that goes from ship to ship along with two suitcases which I travel with. One day I hope I am given the Carnival Presidency so I never have to pack again.

Thanks for the kind words and my best wishes to all

Bearded Bill from Boulder Asked:
John – (Please reply if time permits – if for no other reason than to let me know you’ve read this)

I’m convinced when you were but a wee child like your dear Kye that Charisma visited you in your crib and showered you with the gift of Life that flows from you and out to so many, spreading joy and happiness. You are blessed – as are we that you dutifully share your gift so freely.

It’s far too late at night and I have far too many important things to concern myself with to be responding to a blog thingy proffered to the ether from across the pond. Alas, when I read your post this evening I was roused from my bed, compelled to add to the chorus of support for your exhortation to live each day. That’s right – not to exist each day, not to get through each day… but to LIVE each day. Life is a precious gift we must not squander on a gamble for future returns. Rather, we must thankfully embrace each breath and return it with vigor: with a chuckle, a gasp, a shout or a whisper… whatever the offering, it should be from the heart and should flow freely.

My wife and I just spent tonight’s ration of the precious few hours we have together each evening discussing so many “important” things – money, budgets, goals, life choices… all to surmise we intentionally spend an extraordinary amount of time carefully savoring very ordinary moments. We are not at pace with the Joneses (they’re far richer and busier than we); nor have we received any awards for our civic achievements (with three small children we consider clean noses and bums great victories); we’re not getting ahead so much as we are getting by… in so many ways we are just not buying into the American dream. But we have mortgaged our lives to love. And that, my new friend, is all that we need.

I’m thrilled to hear Heidi and Kye will be joining you on the Dream. I’m hopeful our families’ paths will cross as me and my brood of 5 will be on board 20-27 March. I know we’ve not met so I hope you won’t find it forward (who am I kidding – I already know the condition of your plumbing, of your insomnia, leg aches and caboose fetish – ok, so maybe you’re not shy) but anyway I hope it’s not too forward to offer the support and friendship of my family to you and yours as we endeavour (spelt correctly) to carpe some diems together aboard our Carnival Dream. My little princess is not far ahead of yours in age and I’m sure they’ll find themselves splashing in the same pools and frolicking about; reminding us all what it means to live in the moment.

John, yours is an important role and you do it well. Life without joy is simply not worth living. You glorify your Creator each and every day as you spread humour, happiness and good will to all. The world is a better place with you in it.

Please let me know if there is anything we can do to help your Heidi and Kye enjoy their time with you. Be it space, spare nappies or a Pina Colada and a sympathetic ear – it would be our pleasure to give back just a smidgeon of the love you give out so freely. I pray your time together will be filled with love – and lots of little moments for you to soak in, fun for all and all for fun.

We are making every day a Carnival day … and having a cruise to anticipate makes it so easy!
Peace and love,
Bearded Bill

John Says:
Hello Bearded Bill

There are some posts that ask questions that I have to think about my reply for a few minutes. Then there are posts that require even more thought and then there is yours. How do I reply to such exuberant and passionate words? All I can say is that having Kye has changed my life and my priorities and …….well……….everything I do. I truly look forward to meeting you and your wonderful family and please drop me a line when you board and leave it at the Guest Services Desk.

Thank you for those amazing words and I will see you and your beard very soon.
Best wishes to you and the family

The Mincavitch Family Asked:

I understand from Cruise Critic that you will make table assignment requests. I need a table for five in the big dining room on the lower level by the window. We will be sailing on March 28th.

How will we know if you have done this for us?

John Says:
Hello the Mincavitch family

Please can you tell me what ship you are sailing on and your cabin or booking number please and I will be happy to try and help you.

Best wishes to all the family

Chuck K Asked:

Please clarify something for me regarding the many times asked question of past guest pins. I just cruised on the Imagination in December. The only ship (funnel) pins for sail were larger and on a dull silver / pewter base versus gold. The gift shop employee advised that these were the only ones they had and that they had just gotten them in. I did not buy one as they did not match the previous pins at all. Are the pins for purchase and platinum guests the same as always and just not yet available on my last cruise…where can I get one? Hope that the pins I saw are replacements…hard to collect something that’s not uniform. Not platinum status yet (6 and counting…Destiny, Triumph, Conquest, Freedom, Imagination, and Miracle (04/2010)). Thanks

John Says:
Hello Chuck

The pins that we sell in the onboard shops are indeed a different design to the ones we have used previously at the past guest party. I am sorry you didn’t care for them. I must say they have been very popular with many ships selling out quickly. Does anyone else have a comment on this because maybe as Chuck says we need to change the design? Please let me know.

It won’t be long until you get that shiny Platinum card Chuck and please remind me a few weeks before your Carnival Miracle cruise.
Best wishes

Margienj Asked:
John Please Reply

Hi John, We are so excited to learn that not only will you be our CD on our Dream cruise on 2/27/10 but that Heidi and Kye will be joining you as well. The next 46 days cannot pass quickly enough. We have been sailing on Carnival every year since 2004 and had the pleasure of having you as CD on the Freedom in 2008.

We have always chosen early sitting for our dinner (leaves time to digest so we can eat again after the shows). We have only been on the main level in the dining room twice since 2004. All other cruises we have been on the upper level.

I have never asked for anything so far but this time I am asking if there is anything you could do to help get us on the main level in the dining room. My husband is hard of hearing and misses out on the entertainment unless he can see what is going on. It may be a few years before we can save enough to cruise again due to the economy. We so want to cruise as much as some of these people we meet. I personally would like to retire to a cruise ship. Anyway thank you for all you do and we hope to actually meet you up close and personal this trip

John Says:
Hello Margienj

Yes indeed both Heidi and Kye will be here when you walk on your Carnival Dream. I have sent a request to Ante and Claudio the Maitre D’s here who will do all they can for you.
See you soon
Best wishes

That’s all for today and there will be more tomorrow of course. Thanks to you all for yesterday’s comments and support for both the bedtime story and those who wrote telling me to relax and stop worrying about Heidi and Kye’s visit….I am trying … really I am.

Ok, let’s talk about Holland America because over on their blog www.hollandamericablog.com you will see they have been very busy indeed. First the beautiful Veendam has arrived in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics which we will talk about more in the coming days. Plus there are brilliant new photos of the Niew Amsterdam which is of course their beautiful new ship which is due out later this year. Holland America always have superb blogs and today is definitely a day you should pop on over there.

I hope you enjoyed the video shot by Peter the Hair of the Carnival Fascination in dry dock. Well, she is on her way home now and of course we have to call her the Carnival Fascination now because she has been upgraded and rejuvenated thanks to the brilliant work by many. Of course she has had the additional balcony cabins added to the aft section of the ship as well as new cabin interiors and guest areas. So, without further waffling from me …………..let’s have a look at the new Carnival Fascination through the use of one the 343 Stephanie’s slide shows.

I just looked at the prices on carnival.com for a cruise on the Carnival Fascination and they are absolutely ridiculous. I know the people with beards in marketing don’t like the word cheap but in this case I am going to use it. I mean…….have a look and you will see what I mean. A cruise for those prices…..on what is essentially a brand new vessel …… wow!

Thanks to the ship’s CD Trevor Block for sending me those and a special mention to Trevor because his wife Jessica had a beautiful baby boy called Evan just a few weeks after Kye was born. I know therefore how he is feeling having had to say goodbye. Thanks Trevor and congratulations on both your newborns……….Evan……….and the Carnival Fascination.

Let’s have a look at the comment of the day.

Guest: Mrs. ——–Ref: 846028676A
Cabin: ____Booking#: _____Added-Changed: 03/01/10 – 03/01/10

Guest called the desk wanting to have a meeting with the Cruise Director. GSA asked if there was a problem and guest said that she was not happy with the entertainment on board and that a comedian had insulted her during the show.
Tasked to CD

And so I called the guest and as I hate talking over the phone I asked her to come and meet me. She had made the comment at 7:20 pm and I called her at 7:45 pm but she said she had already gone to bed for the night……..mmmmm…….now that’s an early night. So we arranged to meet at 8:45 am before my Morning Show which we did and it was a very interesting meeting indeed.

I had expected the person who she had allegedly said had insulted her to be one of our Carnival Comedy Club performers because we allow them to perform well, advertised, uncensored comedy. Except it wasn’t one of them……….it was me. Unfortunately the Guest Services chappie who had taken the information from her had misunderstood ……..and when she said it was me that had done the insulting……I must admit she caught me completely off guard.

The lady who I upset was in her late sixties I would guess and her face sort of rang a bell but I couldn’t think from where but I was soon to find out.

So what was it that I had said that had upset her so? Well, during the Welcome Aboard Show her husband had gotten out of his third row seat and left to go to the bathroom. Obviously I had a bit of fun with that. Once I saw him go into the bathroom at the back of the lounge I ran off stage and quickly took the lady by the hand and sat her three rows over in the middle section and replaced her with a 20 something lady. This meant when her husband came back he walked down the row looking puzzled and perplexed that his wife had been replaced by a 20 year old blonde bombshell. The audience was in hysterics and the husband took it to a new level by shrugging his shoulders and sitting down next to the girl………and put her arm around her.

After the laughter had died down I took the lady back to her husband and that was that. However, it seems that the audience, unlike me, never forgets a face because all week long guests have been coming up to her husband and asking where his girlfriend was. I remember saying something in the show like “you have a new girlfriend” or similar and that is what made his wife so angry.

Now I only said this because I saw that the man was playing along with it but to quote the wife “you have ruined my cruise.” I felt so sorry and so upset with myself that I had done this ………right up to the point where she told me that she deserved a refund for the entire week’s cruise.

I have to admit…….that’s when my sympathy for her dropped a whole lot…….it seemed this was about money. Anyway, I explained that I couldn’t do that but offered her my deepest apology which sadly she didn’t accept and she left. I am sure this is not the last I will hear from her.

As usual in these cases I sit here second guessing myself.

What did I do wrong?

Should I have done that skit?

Can I ever do it again?

Probably not.

I like to consider myself a good judge of character and I think I know when someone doesn’t appreciate my humour. But in this case……the husband was laughing and playing along yet know I find out that they are both upset at me. All I can say is sorry, send them some champagne and chocolate covered strawberries and see what happens next.

Comedy……….who said it was easy?

And here is a special message from one of the 343 Stephanies about some Team style fun.
Stephanie – over to you.

“Hi All – Steph H. here. I am excited to announce Team Fun. What is Team fun you ask? Well, Team Fun is Carnival’s Athletes of the Cruising Games. As a proud sponsor of the Winter Olympic games we are giving regular, ordinary people, a chance to declare their love for a cruising event. Upload a photo and send the link to your friends. It’s also a chance to appear in a Carnival ad which may appear live on the NBC Olympics website.

Here is the link to the site: www.carnival.com/teamfun

Be sure to participate.

So, the Veendam is at the Winter Olympics and Carnival will show off its new commercial to millions of viewers who will have tuned in to see Canada win the gold medal at ice hockey and the British win bugger all.

The most popular event though will be the men’s downhill skiing thingy. We will listen to the NBC commentator talking us through the brilliance of some tanned and muscular young man from Sweden or Norway and we will marvel at how he makes it look so easy, his skintight suit revealing all his muscles and as we English say………whether he was a cavalier or a roundhead…… you will have to Google that one I think, Mr. and Mrs. Blogger. But let’s be honest, all of us, really……..are waiting for the poor sod to fall over.

We all love the falls…………oh come on……..don’t pretend you don’t……….they are the best accidents a man can have without actually exploding, and they always went on for hours, a tangle of flesh and ego bouncing down the mountain until it crashed into the crowd in a Technicolor explosion of joy, Spandex and snow……….brilliant.

I am sure the more ski crashes there are the more people will watch and that means the more people will see the Carnival commercials and more people will book a Carnival cruise. That means that right now our fantastic Chief Marketing Officer Jim is on his knees praying that Sweden’s Stefan Ikeason will fall on his arse and tumble down the mountain.

What always gets me is that after the Canadian paramedics have collected all of the limbs and hosed most of the blood off the piste, you were going to get it all over again in super-voyeur slow motion.

NASCAR, INDIECAR and F1 drivers have the most amazing protection and safety equipment with their helmets and neck braces padded suits. The ski chaps are going at 100 mph and as far as I can tell…….they are protected from the forces of nature by nothing more substantial than a large condom.

Your friend

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.