Suffering From Moles And Wind

March 9, 2010 -

John Heald

So Heidi returned to our home after it being empty of her and Kye and me for three weeks. And while she returned to normality in the house……the garden was another story all together. According to Heidi our garden looks as if the giant worms from the movie Tremors have been partying in it and a flame thrower would seem like a better gardening implement than the shovel and rake I have in my shed.

I thought I had gotten rid of these little bastards last year as I played the equivalent of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden in the caves of Afghanistan ……….but with a mole. I realize I know nothing of mole hunting. What is the natural predator of the mole? The local cats and foxes seem uninterested, we don’t have a dog and the local pet store has sold out of giant pythons.

I doubt even a huge bugger of a snake would be any use anyway because this mole has destroyed so much of our garden; I am convinced it is some kind of mutant super mole, the Wolverine of the mole world. But where Wolverine has indestructible, steel claws, Moleverine has a fully operational John Deere digger thingy hanging from his bollocks. Even if the natural predator of the mole was Predator, I truly believe that in the epic garden/space battle that would eventually become Mole v Predator, the mole would kick Predator’s arse…………. no contest.

Old time bloggers may remember that last time this happened. I had gone to our version of the Home Depot which in the UK is called the Home Depot. According to someone wearing an orange apron, they don’t sell guns so instead I bought something called a sonic mole chaser because it sounded like something Predator might have strapped to his shoulder as a weapon. It didn’t work.

The first night it was embedded in the ground, instead of being chased away by the mole chaser, the mole actually worked twice as hard. In fact, the molehill that’s right next to the sonic mole chaser was so large I saw some sherpas and a yak trying to climb it.

Heidi asked me on the phone today what to do? Uncle Googles advice includes boiling water (too cruel……just)………….traps (don’t work)…………gas (too dangerous), poison (not a good idea with Kye crawling now) and mothballs (my Aunty Mad Maggie has those in her closet but she lives miles away)…… I read I wasn’t sure if I was looking at ways to catch moles or a list of the inventory of a Guantanamo Bay interrogation manual.

This makes me angry. It seems human technology can make an App for an Eye Phone that can tell you why babies are crying but they can’t find a way to make this sodding super Mole pack up its John Deere and terrorize someone else’s back yard. It’s honestly got to the point where I’m more than happy to condone North Korea’s nuclear weapons program as long as Kim Jong-il agrees to point one, just a tiny one, at my garden.

Heidi reports there are now seven towering piles, each resembling one of Pamela Andersen’s breasts. Things are developing so fast that by tomorrow I fully expect Heidi will wake up to find the moles have learned to talk and wear armor and ride on the backs of the local dogs and will have captured my wife in a net and have set about jabbing her with sticks. And as I round the corner by the shed where I keep old copies of the Carnival Capers, I’ll find the shattered remains of the Statue of Liberty. You bastard moles! You blew it up!……………. Damn you! Damn you all to hell!

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

Nancy Scrutton Asked:

Had a group of 61 people on the Dream Jan 30…I have not stopped laughing about the Night Time Story. One of my clients bought the DVD and we are having him bring it in so my staff could witness this adventure! Loved the cruise…ships are getting too big…15,000 people in St MAatens is obscene! Funny thing…my comment card disappeared from my room…I know my cabin steward was good, but I am certain he didn’t run it down to the comment box! Wonder if he thinks I said something bad about him…very strange. Thanks for a great time and we’ll be back next year. Allison’s Travel

John Says:
Hello Nancy Scrutton

That is strange about your comment card. I am sure he thought you had written something positive about him and so wanted to make sure it got placed in the box and read by his supervisors. I agree that when there are so many ships in port together it does become very crowded indeed. St. Maarten is the worst-case scenario of this with us and the Monster of the Seas being together. On your voyage we had 3,890 guests and they had 6,000. Add the other ships to this sum and the infrastructure does buckle at times.

However, take yesterday in Cozumel. We were the only ship in port and that was luxury, pure luxury. Obviously this is the heart of the season and come late April many of the ships will head to Europe, Alaska and over distant ports and things then become a lot quieter here in the Caribbean. I am so glad you had a great time and I hope that you will come sail with me again soon.

Best wishes to you and everyone in your office.

Nicola (McCormick) Asked:
John (please reply if possible)

We are booked on the Dream for July but I have just found out that I am 8 weeks pregnant. I think this means that we cannot cruise as I will be 28 weeks pregnant at the time. We have paid a deposit can you let me know if I will get a refund or if I can transfer onto another cruise for next year?

John Says:
Hello Nicola

First of all many congratulations and I hope your pregnancy is an easy one for you. I think I know the answer to this but I am going to defer to our CARE Team who I will ask to contact you as soon as possible. I am sure they will be able to explain what you need to do and what we can do for you. I am sorry that you will have to postpone your cruise but very happy for you that you will soon be holding your bundle of joy.

John is a great name for a boy by the way………even if it does mean…………toilet.

Best wishes

GC Asked:
John, (Please Reply)

My wife and I are part of the CC 100+ group joining you on the Dream 2/20/10. We are both platinum with CCL and big fans of your blog. Somehow you have managed to avoid us until this sailing. We very much look forward to finally meeting you.

My question is regarding the new CCL Chef`s table how does one sign up for this not to be missed event on our sailing?

Best Wishes,
Gary Collier

John Says:
Hello Garry Collier

Well, here we go again with me answering a question way, way after you have sailed. I hope you enjoyed the cruise and that we met. Did we? And did you enjoy the Chef’s Table experience. It has been a sell-out each week since I joined my Carnival Dream so I have not had a chance to experience the food. But I have seen the set up and read the comments from guests many of whom have said it was the best experience of their cruise. Meeting the chef, eating a specially prepared and exclusive menu and doing so in the galley during full operation is they say “fantastic.” I hope you got to enjoy it and I hope that you and all my friends from Cruise Critic had a great cruise

Best wishes

Sue McMichael Asked:
John (please reply)

Just wanted to say I enjoy your blog exactly as it is. If other individuals don’t appreciate your humour then they should go elsewhere. I don’t think you need to increase your readership – you are already setting records.

Now to my question – I am boarding the Carnival Glory on April 18. I know it is currently in dry-dock and would appreciate an update on the work happening. Is this possible?

John Says:
Hello Sue McMichael

Thanks for those kind words of support and I appreciate them very much. Carnival Glory has returned from dry dock and I am sure you saw the photos I posted on a blog thingy two weeks ago or so. The new Seaside Theatre Big Screen and Circle C have made a huge difference and with new carpeting and cabin upgrades the ship I am told looks spectacular. I know you will have a brilliant time and if there is anything you need before you sail, please let me know.

Best wishes to all

Colin R Asked:

I got your e-mail address from Cruise Critic as I did not want to have to wait weeks for a reply as you are finding it difficult to answer the questions posted on your blog. My son and his new wife will be getting on the Valor on Sunday March 21st and I need a table for 2 for them. They will be in cabin 6386. I think it would be nice if you could send them some champagne as well. May I suggest that if you keep your blogs shorter you would get through more questions? Blogs are supposed to be short. Just a thought.

Thank you for the table and gift.

John Says:
Hello Colin Redwood

I still wonder who keeps putting my e-mail address on the cruise boards. Oh well. As you can see Colin I have replied via the blog thingy as I don’t want to start getting into the e-mail replies as time just does not allow for this. I have contacted the ship and asked them to hold a table for your son and daughter in law and I will send them a bottle of champagne as you requested.

I am sure they will have a great time.

Best wishes

Beth Flynn Asked:
John, Please Reply

I used to travel a lot when my son was a baby. I worked internationally and took him with me (with a nanny of course). I found that a little Benadryl and allowing them to either nurse or give a bottle during take offs and landings was very helpful. I hope it amounts to nothing and you worry for naught.

This year in August we cruise with 2 different groups back to back. The old folks on the first week and the youngsters (40 something’s) on the second week. Can’t wait, but I wish you were to be our CD. Oh well, it will be a blast no matter what. Next year we are discussing a girl’s only cruise and I really want it to be with you. Any idea yet where you might be in spring 2011???? LOL

John Says:
Hello Beth

Heidi will be writing about her flight home with Kye later this week but I think she took some of the advice you gave in your posting although…….she had a complete **** sitting behind her. She will explain.

I will be on the new Carnival Magic in 2011. Which ship do you have your back to back on?

Please let me know if I can help you in any way.

Best wishes

Wayne Asked:

John you are by far the funniest cruise director I have ever seen, and Carnival has the best pizza crust. My question is this, how does Carnival make their pizza crust? We were on the Imagination last month and the pizza guy told us the ingredients, but it was very late and I’m not sure if it’s correct. Could you please get the receipt for me?

Also we are bringing a small group to sail on the Valor October 31 and we are hoping you will be our cruise director. The last time we saw you was on the first voyage of the Liberty which as you know left out of Rome, Italy.

John Says:
Hello Wayne

I love the fact that I have been included in a best of list along with a pizza crust. I have just sent an e-mail to the chef here and hopefully he will answer me before this blog thingy is posted. If not I will make sure I post the answer tomorrow. I hope you have some great memories of our time together in Europe on the Carnival Liberty, I certainly do. I won’t be with you on the Carnival Valor though but if you remind me a month before you sail I will send something to your cabin……….maybe pizza!

Oh and here is the message from the Chef.

Hi John,

We get ready made pizza dough where the specifications and given to the vendor from corporate.  Although the crusts are pre-made we still have to create the pizzas and all the toppings so it’s an involved procedure of thawing, docking, stretching, docking, brushing and baking in the conveyer ovens.

Kind Regards

Does that help?

Thanks again for those wonderfully kind words

Best wishes

TROY I. Asked:
John, reply if you have time.

Don’t know if you are aware of this or not but I found out thru a Facebook friend that the researchers at CIOS (Carnival Institute of Syndromes) have discovered a new syndrome called Rectal Cranial Inversion or RCI for short or head up your butt syndrome (street name). It has become the Institutes sole purpose to get the word out that if you know anyone who shows signs of suffering from RCI, they get help immediately, because if not caught early, people suffering this horrible disease will suffer a life full of needless spending and waiting in very long lines. Also, (the researchers just discovered this a week of two ago) and very sadly, these people will also be under the impression that when they book a cruise they will be looking at the ocean, when in reality, they will be looking at nothing of the such. This is a very sad and unfortunate disease; please get the word out immediately to stop the spread.

John Says:
Hello Troy L.

It is indeed very important that people suffering from this head to the nearest ER immediately. Treatment is based on the recommendations of Dr. Rammitin and his colleague Dr. Longfinger and includes a cruise on the Carnival Dream and daily helpings of chocolate melting cake. Let’s spread the word mate.

Thanks for the medical update

Best wishes

That’s all for today. I am still 3 weeks behind………bugger. Can I take this chance to say a huge thank you to Big Ed and his wonderful wife Pat for their kindness. They were with us last week and as you saw Big Ed was a star and Heidi and I and Kye loved having them with us.

This blog will be 3 years old this week and during its life it has featured interviews with all the industries top executives. In 2008 I featured an interview with Peter Shanks who is now of course President of Cunard. Peter is one of the most respected people in the industry but not only that, he is one of the most genuine and certainly one of the most passionate people I have ever met. His passion for Cunard is only surpassed by passion for a certain film star’s bottom.

Since Peter’s interview he has stayed a true friend to our blog thingy and has taken on the mantel of “our man in London” and given us exclusive access to the world of Cunard. By the way, did you see that stunning photo of the Queen Mary 2 on yesterday’s blog? If not ……….here it is again.

Peter is gearing up for the launch of Queen Elizabeth where no doubt he will once again rub shoulders and shake hands with the rich and tanned and………….who knows………….as is often the case with Cunard ships………….Peter may be bowing before Royalty.

So, how does one of the industry’s top chaps relax……well……let’s find out. Peter ………… over to you.

A beautiful March day in England…………………..

John – what a beautiful weekend in England – so much so that with my responsibilities as your official British Reporter I thought I would share it with you and your bloggers. It does not really have anything to do with cruising at all – other than if your bloggers do decide to join us on the Queen Victoria Round Britain Voyage in July , this little insight into a day in England might tempt them to book.
So how did my day start? Well with a visit to our local butcher of course. We live in a small village and Mr. Turners Butcher is a highlight in our small parade of shops – a dry cleaners, a paper shop, a butcher and a beer and wine shop – well what else do you need. So having dropped of a couple of suits at the dry cleaners, it was into the butchers for a Saturday morning ritual.

As I stood in a small line I began to be tempted by the fresh smell of so many beautiful meats and life was going on around me. To my left a young lady was talking with one of the butchers as to whether her baby would arrive this week or next – her first had come two weeks early and she thought that a beautiful T-Bone steak might get things moving. To my right a rather large gentleman who was ordering so much meat I wondered just who he was planning to feed. As the conversation flowed the butcher got onto the subject of pies. Now John – you of all people will have heard of the phrase ‘who ate all the pies’ – well the butcher was asking us was sort of pies might be popular. I suggested ‘Chicken Curry Pies’ – he is on the case and I will be collecting a couple next Saturday.

So then it was my turn to be served. I had my instructions, a fresh chicken to be cut into 8 pieces for a casserole for the family and 4 juicy lamb chops for myself and my daughter as my wife would be out on Monday. The butcher went to work on my order. You know there is just something very special in ordering your meat from a traditional English butcher. As he completed my order I said – ‘You know there is something very satisfying at coming down to the butchers on a Saturday morning’ – he replied in a flash – ‘It’s the hunter gatherer in you sir’. Perfect I thought as I left the butcher – what a marvelous start to the day.

So – after a few more errands – onto the second of my Saturday activities – a game of field hockey. Now your bloggers will be really confused – what on earth is field hockey? No – it is not similar to the ice hockey game – you know the game that Canadians now seem to be better at than Americans. No – field hockey is played on astro turf or grass, 11 a side and has been played in England for many years. In fact, as I write England has just beaten India to reach the finals of the Hockey World Cup- let’s hope. I play in the London Veterans League – and it is a great release of tension on a Saturday morning. Because I have a fairly dangerous s streak in me – I play goalkeeper. So I pull on as much protection as I can, a scary looking helmet and off we go. Well today was a marvelous victory – we played against Wimbledon, beat them 2-0 and in the thick of it I managed to save a penalty flick.

So below is a photo of what I get up to on a Saturday morning – yes I am the one rather foolishly getting in the way of a very hard orange ball. It was a good job we won 2-0 , I have a reputation for getting rather angry if people score against me – so much so that one of my team recently suggested I should go for ‘anger management counseling’ – no chance!

So there you go John, two very English activities in one day – a trip to the local butchers and game of field hockey. That is what we get up to over here. I hope that adds some color to your day. And if you ever want a game – I am sure it can be arranged.

I will be back with a very exciting blog in two weeks. Imagine this – sailing into Cape Town for her maiden call on Queen Mary 2 with a very special guest onboard – none other than Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Can’t wait – and will share the highlights with you.

Best Regards
Peter Shanks

Thanks so much Peter and I am truly excited to experience a Cunard voyage and I know the bloggers who have booked to sail around the UK with me on the Queen Victoria on July 22 are as excited as I am. Maybe others will sail with Heidi, Kye and I and enjoy the Cunard White Star Service and each other’s company. And of course I will be blogging from the ship each and every day so I hope in fact that you will come with me.

Here are today’s very random photos.

I have received other invitations recently as well including ones to attend the naming ceremonies of the Costa Deliziosa and P&O’s Azura. Unfortunately I have had to decline both due to my cruise directing requirements, however I was truly honoured to be asked. I also received this invitation…….which ……..well…..I don’t think I will be going to either.

I think this a trap. I think that Monsieur Jean Claude Nonsoap has read my blog and in the same have invited me just as Joe Pesci’s character was invited to become a “made guy” in Goodfellas………and was then whacked as soon as he walked in the door. So I shall decline this invitation respectfully and be very French…….and runaway…….quickly.

Welcome now to a new feature on the blog thingy. This features Carnival Cruise Lines 344th best comedian Al Ernst…….oh hold on……..scratch that. I have just been informed that we just hired a one-armed comedian juggler so make that Carnival’s 345th best comedian ……..Al Ernst. He spends lots of time on the road and in the air driving and flying to the Carnival ships to entertain Carnival guests with his mundane stories. I asked Al to send me some aspects of his life and so unless you have anything better to do like watch paint dry or re-runs of Petticoat Junction……….here is the first of his reports.

Hey John, back on the road…and the stories and adventures continue…thought you might enjoy this.

Life would be so boring if it all went to plan… the key is not what happens…but how you deal with it.

On my way from Mobile to New Orleans to go from the corporate special event to get on the Carnival Triumph …. A refrigerator fell off the back of a flat bed truck on I-10 Three cars crashed into it and I was far enough back to not to be involved but when going off the road I blew a tire.

Anyway, it closed the Interstate for about an hour…Lots of police and emergency crews …and once I changed the tire, I did not wonder if everyone was OK…I did not care about the damage of the cars…I did not think if I would make it to New Orleans in time for the ship…I thought “boy, that fridge could have held a lot of food…what a waste of a GE Model 24g, a side by side with a optional meat and cheese storage self”.

This brought a real sense of self…when your priorities are in order…you are living the fulfilled life!”

Yes, I made the ship…I always make the ship, as I know that there is chocolate melting cake is on the ship. Ahh…it is good to be motivated.

To find out where Al is going to be performing next so you can make sure you are somewhere far away………………… go to .

This cruise is one with a very diverse demographic with the younger children, spring breakers, families and retired people so anyone who still believes in Santa, the tooth fairy and that Carnival only carries one typical kind of passenger should come here to my Carnival Dream this cruise. As well as a very mixed demographic we also have some interesting people onboard as well and there have been some rather bizarre incidents as well.

Let’s start with the atrium. We have had an issue with the lighting at the top of the atrium and this has needed to be checked. Therefore from Saturday until yesterday in Cozumel we have closed off the atrium dance floor and rigged netting over the deck 9 ceiling. This was for obvious safety reasons. There was a team of what are called “Sky Hangers” who came on today to do the maintenance and we needed to protect the guests below from anything they may drop. Here are some photos of the netting being rigged.

So, this netting is here to protect our guests and I can understand that some may wonder what it’s there…………….some more than others though.

Guest: Mrs. _____ Ref: 846906878A
Cabin: ____ Booking#: _____Added-Changed: 03/08/10 – 03/08/10

Guest called the GSD wanting to know when the Trapeze Show would be. GSA said she did not understand and guest then said she had seen nets in the lobby. GSA reported that this was not for a show but for safety.

Her assumption that we would have some high flying Russian trapeze artists in the lobby was not a silly one as I know AIDA does this in their Theatrium as may some other cruise lines as well. I wonder if other guests think the same?

You see that comment is a good one. We did something, we didn’t explain why, guest makes their own assumption. Fair one.

But then there are comments like this that make you go “Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ”

Guest: Mrs. ———Ref: 836071826A
Cabin:  Booking#: ____ Added-Changed: 03/08/10 – 03/08/10

Champagne at Art Auction Was Not Good

Guest came to the GSD very intoxicated saying that the free champagne served at the Art Auction was not real champagne. Guest said that it was sparkling wine and that she had given up her chair in the sun to go and that now someone else had taken it. Guest was very loud and had to be asked not to shout.  Guest then started to laugh very loudly and had to support herself on the counter not to fall. GSA called security who escorted Mrs. ______ to her cabin

Well, the champagne may very well be Moet Crapdon but it certainly did the trick on her didn’t it. You have to feel for the guest services folks. They really are the front line and every now and then they get silly people like this. Being on the night shift for police, nurses, and firefighters is probably I would think the toughest shift of them all and that’s the same for the guest services people on our ships as well. They expect to meet people who are really ummmmm………..happy……….but it’s strange to meet a guest so ummmm ……… happy…………at 4 pm.

As you may know, I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol for 14 years now. When I did drink it was usually beer. That’s English beer……..dark……and warm. In fact and please except my apologies if I offend anyone here either with the reference I am about to write of the hint of the language contained therein……to me and my mates American beer and the like was not beer. We used to say that “drinking lite beer was like having rumpy pumpy in a canoe……….fu**ing close to water”…………sorry.

But I also enjoyed a glass of cognac and just as our happy lady above…….I loved a glass of champagne. And more than beer, cognac or any other drink……it was the bubbly stuff that got me happy.

It has been my belief and that’s a belief based on 22 years on ships that there are three types of people who have lots to drink……. the happy, the sad and the ones who will smash your face so hard with your fist that when you wake you will look like a cross between Judge Judy and Ernest Borgnine……. if you look at them a bit funny by the Lido Deck pizzeria.

I’m pleased and very grateful to say that, bar a couple of unfortunate champagne related incidents which involved me and the French Police, I used to belong to category one.

I only don’t drink now because of the job and when you don’t drink for months onboard a ship…….you can’t be bothered to drink at all……I did used to enjoy it though. Not in the Mel Gibson kind of way but like the gift of being able to look at the Norwegian Epic without vomiting.

I can understand why champagne is so popular though. I mean good champagne ……… Cristal, Krug, Mad Dog 20/20 etc.

I never smoked cigarettes or did drugs and now my only vice is a good cigar…….oh and Megan Fox’s bottom of course.  People who remember me when I used to drink say I was more fun to be with and maybe they are right. Without the wonderful qualities of booze, I would probably never have had my photo taken by the ships bell on the Carnival Ecstasy …………naked…………..and never put cling film over Captain Fonari’s toilet.

Well, it’s a beautiful day but windy and that wind has buggered our call to Roatan. The captain just called me and because of high winds we have been forced to cancel our call to Roatan today as has the Princess ship behind us as well. There is a very narrow passage into Mahogany Bay and the shipwrecks on either side of the entrance show how dangerous it can be. Nothing………nothing is more important than the safety of the ship and the people onboard and that’s why we will now have a day at sea and head to Belize.

Well, it’s now just after 12:10 pm and I just did my Morning Show. The guests seem to be understanding although I do have three cabins meeting me at 2 pm in the lobby ……… whom I am told by the Guest Services Desk are very upset. So, I will let you know what they had to say tomorrow although I think I can probably guess…………..can’t you?

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.