Over 24

April 1, 2010 -

John Heald

Even though seasons 6 and 7 were crap, I felt a huge loss when the West Wing finished and President Bartlett, Josh, C.J., Toby, Charlie, Donna and Leo left my TV screens forever. Then I lost Tony. There would be no more whacking and no more fantastic shots of Christopher Moltisanti and Paulie Walnuts lost in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Tony and I both loved cigars and then……………he too was gone. Yes, I dabbled with The Wire and The Unit and Entourage but when The West Wing and The Sopranos had finished there was only one man I felt an allegiances to………..and that man ………….was a man whose bladder never needed emptying……………………Mr. Jack Bauer.

Yet today I awoke and read that he too is buggering off and that we will never again hear those famous words “Dammit, Chloe — we’re running out of time!” Yep, it was those words that meant one of two things were about to happen.

1. Terrorists were about to detonate a smuggled nuclear/biological device in downtown Los Angeles.

2. It meant that CTU agent Jack “I never need a pee or a poo in 24 hours” Bauer will have no choice but to torture someone to extract the information as to where the nuclear/biological thingy was.

But time has now run out on Jack and Chloe as Uncle Google told me that Fox have canceled the show because of falling ratings.

Amazing isn’t it that Jack Bauer has survived multiple gunshot wounds, having his testicles electrocuted  by the Chinese, heroin addiction, the detonation of nuclear bombs, infection of a deadly virus and, of course, his own death. In the end, however, falling ratings and that the fact that people seem to prefer to watch cooking shows or America’s Next Top Bitch……….sorry……….Model …….was his undoing. Not even Chloe …………. Bauer’s very own Stephanie……….. Could save him.

I shall miss Jack Bauer as his horse whisper demands “Chloe, can you download the schematics of the building to my PDA and set up a perimeter?”

I do have one major criticism with the show and that’s in season 1 and 2 the bad guys had names like Abdul and Mustafa and seemed a true reaction to what was happening in the real world. Then suddenly, many of the villains were English or American ………………. with a few Russians thrown in for good measure. Regardless, most of them found themselves bound and gagged and at the wrong end of one of Jack Bauer’s cattle prods. The article I read this morning on the BBC web site said that former Vice President Dick Cheney was a huge fan of the show and of the Jack Bauer was his favourite TV character. I guess they both had a lot in common because both were fighting the war on terror ……………………………. and both are experts with a gun!

Well, today is April 1 and I couldn’t resist a few pranks. The first was for the guests who at 8:30am this morning I informed over the PA system that today in Grand Cayman the tender drivers had gone on strike and only those guests who could swim could be able to go ashore.

But the best was reserved for my assistant Craig. This morning at 7 am as we arrived into Grand Cayman I had the hotel director and chief security call him to come to the captain’s cabin. There, Captain Sammartano told him that I been discovered at 3 am in a guest cabin, smoking marijuana and ummmm…….having rumpy pumpy with a bunch of college girls and that I had been fired and would be leaving today in Grand Cayman. The office had been informed and Craig would be taking over as cruise director.

I was hiding in the bedroom of the captain’s cabin and expected my assistant who knows me pretty well to stand there, mouth wide open and proclaim “What?  I don’t believe it. John, he would never do anything like this, I am stunned, I can’t take this all in.”

Not quite…….he nodded his head and from the bedroom I heard him say:

“I will need the password to his computer and when should I tell the staff.”

Bastard!

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

Juan & Maria Santana Asked:
John, please reply…

Hi, John! After reading the 1st paragraph of your blog today where you state all of your aches/pains, and old age related problems, we reached a conclusion: It’s time for you to move to a Princess Cruise! As we wrote you a few days ago, we just returned from a 2-wk. Grand Princess Cruise…. well, let me tell you something: on each of the visited ports there was a line of ambulances waiting for passengers to be taken to hospital! The ship looked like a hospice for the elderly…. some were already dead and they didn’t even know it! There were passengers on wheelchairs/electric scooters, using canes, walkers, etc., and they were running around the ship holding ice cream cones and cookies! Instead of so many fancy boutiques onboard, they should have a well-stocked coffin boutique onboard… and you could be the Undertaker and Cruise Director at the same time!

Sorry for the irreverent humor we are displaying, but remember that we have learned from you to be irreverent! Please don’t get mad at us…. get even!

Bon Voyage Home/best wishes to Heidi & Kye and to you please take it easy and take good care of yourself.

Warmest regards,
The Santanas of Miami Beach

John Says:
Hello Juan and Maria

I could never get mad at you and thanks for the humorous posting. I have been on a few voyages where the average age has been quite old. I remember the trans-Atlantic crossing of the Carnival Legend where we had two guests pass away and a few who were taken ill. It’s good though that older people have a vacation experience as well and with cruising they know that they will receive brilliant service and that there is 24-hour professional medical treatment whenever they may need it.

Thanks for the kind words and hope we get to sail together soon.

Best wishes to you both
John

Shari Asked:
Dear John (please reply only if time permits),

Let the blog thingy remain the delightful concoction that it is! (And the poll concurs!) Your words from the ship are like letters from home.

Having seen others bravely do this, I’d like to join the “Oh please, oh please, a romantic table for two, please?” club. (No gold cards or swanky satin jackets necessary; just a table where my husband Mike and I can be one of those disgustingly dorky hand-holding nothing-murmuring couples. It’s a public service to isolate us, truly it is.)

We just booked our third cruise (ever, and also the third in the past ten months – someone is doing something right), this time on Spirit’s 3/27 sailing. Right now we’re waitlisted for Your Time dining, which we *loved* aboard Elation, but a table for two is our real goal. Not just for making moon eyes over the soup, I admit, but because the thought of spending each dinner in forced conversations with strangers will send us two private folk straight to the buffet for eight nights. (And sure, the buffet is fine, but ohhh la la, the dining room!)

Thanks for any help, and keep thingying!
Shari

John Says:
Hello Shari

I am very glad you are enjoying the blog thingy and I doubt I will be changing it too much over the next few months. I know that right now you are on the Carnival Spirit and I did ask the Maitre D to see if could help with your table request. I hope you are having a great time and let me know how the cruise went when you get home.

Best wishes to you both
John

Tom & Jane Asked:
Please Reply

Hi john

Can we get a change in Tampa?

The Legend & Inspiration both go to the Western

Caribbean,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,boringgggggggggggggggg

We sailed them both a total of 12 times!

And we are “SICK OF THEM”!!!!!!!

Hope the boss at Carnival “”””READS THIS E-MAIL

Please slip in an EASTERN CARIBBEAN sailing

Some time,,,,

we heard it too far to go EASTERN” bull hockey”

NEW ORLEANS DOES

GALVESTON DOES

Maybe I will send the big shots a map,,,,,,,,.

Tampa IS CLOSER THAN BOTH OF THEM,,,,,,,

SO COME ON ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

rotate -east & west E.O.W.

OCHO RIOS — NICE

MONTEGO BAY — SWEET

GRAND TURK –LOVELY

HALF MOON CAY — FUN

KEY WEST ,,,,HELL- WE- SAIL -RITE- BY- IT

JOHN,,,,,,,,,,,, help us we need a change!

Call Carnival and shout at them ,,,,,,,,ok

Loyal Concierge Club Members,,,,,,,,,,,,

& Milestone Rewards Members,,,,,,,,,,,

Tom & Jane
Your Tampa & Orlando Airport Greeters!

John Says:
Hello Tom and Jane

First of all let me say again how grateful I am to you for meeting Heidi at the airport. It was an unexpected surprise for her and she appreciated it so much. I know how passionate you are about Carnival as your posting clearly shows. I also know that the Carnival Legend is a very popular ships and that Tampa is a very popular home port. We recently added a Bahamian and Key West cruise for the Carnival Conquest out of Galveston and I know how much the regular cruisers appreciated that. So, I just wrote to Terry our Senior Vice president who is in charge of our ship deployment and he told me that he would seriously look into this and the pricing and operating costs for a new itinerary.

So, your passion has been noted and let’s see what happens.

Best wishes to you both
John

The Cruzin2some Asked:
Dear John PLEASE REPLY.

Quick Question?

On the Gangway commercial, the Rose Colored Glass of the Spirit Class ships where the Steakhouse is located is in view on this TV Spot. Which Spirit Class ship is it that the commercial was shot on or near?

The Cruzin2some
James & Nancy Enslow

John Says:
Hello James & Nancy Enslow

The commercial you refer to was shot on the Carnival Pride while the ship was in Freeport, Bahamas.

Hope this helps.

Best wishes
John

Cynthia Asked:
Dear John, (Please reply)

I know this is long. Maybe one of the Stephanies will edit as they see fit.

For the past several years I have read your blog without fail. Thank you. You, your time, your efforts and your humor are greatly appreciated.

Just over 8 years ago I lost my husband of over 16 years at the age of 40. As I felt I really wasn’t capable of traveling alone, I felt confined. Just over 5 years ago I discovered cruising and my confinement was over. Since then I have had 11 of the most wonderful escapes I could imagine, on 8 different ships, all with Carnival.

Each time I have found someone to go with me (mother, father, brother, sister-in-law, friend) and we have had so much fun and made so many happy memories. The best part of cruising, for me, is that there is something for everyone. I can confidently bring someone (anyone) and we can both have a great time.

Onboard I feel safe and I can do everything from play in the casino, see a show, sing in the Piano Bar or dance in the Disco. I am always without any worries, even if my travel companion just wants to read a book on the balcony. Whether onboard or ashore with a Carnival excursion I have never left alone. That means so very much to me! Thank you, Carnival!

A really big part of the fun and security I feel is more than just all Carnival has to offer; it is the quality people that Carnival employs and trains. From cabin stewards to entertainers and wait-staff, I have always found people that I can talk to and with whom I enjoy sharing time. Even if only for a week at a time, I have new best buds that are appreciated and make me feel that they are glad I’m there.

Well, I’ve done it again! I’ve booked number 12! Woohoo! This time I’ve got 3 others coming with me. Two have cruised with me before and (again) I’ve got someone who has never cruised before to excitedly introduce to Carnival. We sail 18 April on the Carnival Conquest. This will be my 3rd time on this ship.

For the past several years as I’ve read your blog I’ve considered you to be my friend. That has never truly felt quite honest as we’ve never met. I’ve booked this cruise to remedy that as you will be the Cruise Director. I am so very thrilled to meet my friend….you! I am hoping for more than just the opportunity to shake your hand in the reception line at the Captain’s Party. I know you are very busy and have many demands on your time….but I can still hope.

So, why am I writing? I want to do something for you. Something to repay you for all the smiles you have given me. I’d like to bring you something or do something for my friend. With constraints on your diet, efforts to avoid the cigars, and the necessity to be able to pack all your belongings to travel….what could that be? What could I bring, or do, for my friend?

Looking forward to meeting you in just a few weeks! Cynthia

John Says:
Hello Cynthia

What beautiful words and I am so honoured that you have booked a cruise partly because I will be the cruise director. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your husband at such a young age and you have my deepest sympathies. You also have my promise that I will do all I can to make you laugh out loud over and over again. I would like you to leave me a note at the Guest Services Desk when you arrive with your cabin number on there please so I can call you and arrange to meet. I thank you so much for your loyalty to Carnival and that the vacation experience we provide allows you to feel safe and happy and maybe forget a little about the sad times.

As for bringing something for me. Well, the fact that you have booked a cruise to sail with me is a gift enough.

I truly look forward to seeing you and your friends in a few weeks’ time and thank you for all the kind words.

Best wishes
John

Kathy M. Asked:
Hi John, Please Reply

On your March 4th blog you wondered if you should let rest of the passengers know about the death on the ship. In a position like this you have two options, since many of the passengers already know about the death, you could just announce it, but I would think that out of respect to the family (and the deceased) it would the right thing to ask them if you could have their consent to announce to the rest of the passengers of what happened, since so many already know of the death. By doing it this way, you will have the either the family in agreement or they may say” No, we would like to keep this private” then you would abide by their wishes. You could also tell the family that people have been asking you about their loved one and that is why you came to see them.

John, when it comes to your blog, PLEASE DO NOT CHANGE A NOTHING CONCERNING THIS BLOG!!!

It is fantastic the way it is!!!

Please give my love to Heidi and Kye.

From your NO. 1 Bloggy Thingy Fan
Kathy M.

John Says:
Hello Kathy M

You will be happy I think to know that I have decided to keep the blog exactly as it is. A mixture of behind the scenes stories, fun, comments, opinions and help. Thanks for the support as always.

Best wishes
John

Lidolounger AKA Donna Asked:
Please reply!

John – In response to the question about your blog content….I for one don’t want to read more requests etc – I check the blog daily to read about life onboard. I enjoy your humour (spelled correctly).

I understand the need for the occasional question, but have to confess that I look over these quickly to get to the good parts!

I most enjoy hearing about your day to day adventures.

326 days until our first back to back cruises on the Carnival Dream =)

John Says:
Hello Lidolounger AKA Donna

That’s the great thing about the blog; you can skip the bits that you don’t like. However, I hope you do read the Q and A section this time so that you will see me say a big thank you to you for your support and for taking the time to read the blog thingy.

Best wishes
John

TxLadyDi Asked:
JOHN PLEASE REPLY

Okay, before I ask for a favor, take an entire minute for yourself and just rest before replying.

Was that nice?? Now, I don’t really want anything else from you, just wanted to give you a minute to rest, because you work too hard.

BTW, I just booked the Carnival Victory for May, 2010!! I CAN HARDLY WAIT to get back on a Carnival ship!!

Hugs,
Di

John Says:
Hello TxLadyDi

Thanks for that minute off………….I went for a pee and now I am ready to continue. Congratulations on booking the Carnival Victory in May and if you do need anything please let me know.

Thanks again for the time off.

Best wishes
John

Denise Asked:
John (please reply)

I am really saddened by your story of the person who didn’t even say thank you to the Crew member who delivered his room service. I can (almost) put down the not giving a tip to ignorance of the rules, but to not even say thank you is unacceptable.

I was on the Carnival Dream the week of Feb 20th-27th, and while this class of ship will never be my favorite the crew was, without exception, the nicest, friendliest, most efficient and most professional crew I’ve ever had the pleasure of cruising with. We gave an extra tip to a couple outstanding folks, and they were so appreciative! Here was a few dollars that would only mean a lunch out at a fast food restaurant to me, but was like a big pat on the back to these hard working folks!

I am in the midst of writing a letter to corporate to commend several of the staff by name, but wanted to let you know how great I thought the team was!

PS on the Behind the Fun Tour, my husband asked the captain which port was the hardest to sail into and Captain Marino replied “which ever one I am sailing into today!” I really admire the hard work and long training those captains have!

John Says:
Hello Denise

I am so glad you enjoyed the Carnival Dream team and they will appreciate so very much reading your words of praise. The captains are all enjoying the Behind the Fun tours as it really gives them a chance to show what they do.

Thanks again for taking the time to write and I hope you sail with us again very soon.

Best wishes
John

Roxy Lady Asked:
John – please reply

There is a long comment block on Cruise Critic about a lady who wants to complain about the way she was treated by a Carnival PVP. I thought you should know and maybe you can contact the person in question and get her the name of someone she can complain to. Here is the web link to this most important piece of feedback.

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1167970

Roxanne

John Says:
Hello Roxanne

Thanks for letting me know about this and I will send this to our CARE Team for them to research. I appreciate you letting me know.

Best wishes
John

That’s all for today.

Let’s have a look at some photos from our deck party.

It’s strange to think that in a few weeks time I will be moving away from the Carnival Conquest and off I will go to the Carnival Fantasy and take her up to Charleston. Well Peter the Hair went ahead of me and shot this great bit of film to get me and everyone else excited about the Carnival Fantasy’s new home. Here it is:

http://www.carnival.com/Funville/media/p/538113.aspx

Great job as always Peter.

And so here we are in Grand Cayman and here we are once again tendering guests ashore on the same bits of 2 by 4 with a motor on the back as we were in 1987 when I was a skinny but very handsome bar waiter on the Holiday. Still, at least the weather is nice and sunny again and apart from the language barrier between me, the Mexican and Swedish guests it has been a smooth operation so far.

Thank goodness we have a Mexican trio here on the ship and they have meant that the cigar bar is packed and I mean packed with a full dance floor every night. Apart from that I feel that we have little to offer them. They don’t speak English and my Spanish is pointless outside of telling someone there is not enough toilet paper. I can only hope they are having a good time. The Swedish and Norwegian guests are definitely having a good time and apart from the numerous comments that our bathroom cabinets and bedside tables are crap and we should have gone to IKEA, they are in line dancing heaven.

I often talk about the exceptional value and brilliant food we serve in the Steakhouse but I often forget to praise the food in the regular dining room. I was reminded about this today when I spoke to two first time Carnival cruisers and avid NCL fans who were raving about the food here on the Carnival Conquest. I was also reminded because I asked the maitre d to send some food to my cabin last night. Now this is a rare thing and is a luxury that my position affords me but one I never take advantage of. It just doesn’t seem the right thing to do and so I eat in the officers’ dining room as I should. However, my groin is hurting and I felt a bit tired last night so I had an hour nap between 6 pm and 7 pm and that meant by the time I had done my evening announcements and gotten ready for the show that I missed dinner. So I called Hassan the Maitre D and he sent me a Caesar Salad and something called short ribs. Now, I have not had them before but they were delicious and so very tender. So, as we remember just how brilliant the food quality is on today’s Carnival ships………….make sure you also remember to try the short ribs.

Well, as I expected would happen we are starting to get a few comments on Easter and Passover. Here is one of a few we have received.

Guest: Mr. ———-Ref: 830781619A
Cabin: ————- Booking#: ____Added-Changed: 03/30/10 – 03/30/10

CHURCH SERVICE INQUIRY

Guest came to the GSD to ask if there would be an Easter Mass on Friday. GSA called the Cruise Director who said that there was no Priest onboard. Guest wanted GSA to document how upset he was and that this was not what he had expected and that there was on Holland America a mass.

Yep, there probably was a Mass on Holland America because they put a lot more emphasis on their priest and rabbi programs then we do. Is this something we should do better at? Well, I am not sure. Personally, I would like to say that I do think we should have someone from the clergy onboard to conduct a service during the most important Christian and Jewish holidays….Easter, Christmas and Passover etc. But I can see that Carnival may feel different about this and put resources into other areas that are more ……. well……..fun I guess. So, with that in mind I asked the fleet who has a priest sailing for Easter. In fact the Carnival Miracle does as does your Carnival Dream…….but that’s it.

And I think it’s important we get your feedback on this so I am going to ask one of the 343 Stephanies to put a poll thingy together asking this question.

And of course please add your comments as well.

Meanwhile I will be asking the guests here to see if there is anyone who is prepared to host a Good Friday service and if anyone of the Jewish faith can help us with a Passover service. So far I have had no offers.

Just one more comment to show you today…….actually, let’s do this the other way around and show you the comment after I explain what happened. So at 10:50am yesterday while we were docked in Jamaica I received a call from the Guest Services Manager Caroline. She asked me to page a guest whose 11 year old daughter and 14 year old son had not seen their mother since 10 pm last night and she had not come back to the cabin. The girl was crying and thank goodness the son had told the stateroom steward who had called the Guest Services Desk.

Well, you think the worst don’t you……I mean she could have…….well let’s not go there.

And so I paged the lady through the emergency system and this is exactly what I said.

“Good morning, I have very important message for guest ________- Please could you call 7777 which is the Guest Service Desk. That’s guest ___________– please call 7777 as we have a very important message for you.”……….end quote.

Well, she called………..from another cabin and you don’t need me to explain anymore about that do you. And I thought, that was that. No it bloody wasn’t.

—-Original Message—–

From: CONQUEST GUEST SERVICES SUPERVISOR
Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 4:27 PM
To: CONQUEST CRUISE DIRECTOR

Subject: Mrs._____ Cabin _______-

Good Afternoon John

I received a call from Mrs. ____- who you may remember is the mother of the children who reported her missing this morning. She wanted to make a complaint about you announcing her name to the ship as she felt it was embarrassing. I explained that her kids were worried and her daughter was in tears but she would not listen. Would you mind calling her as she is demanding to speak to you?

Thanks
Claudine

Isn’t it funny how certain things can press that button that make your teeth itch. I mentioned the one yesterday when the odd guest says “I will never cruise with Carnival again” over something so obscure that it begs belief.

And my reaction to this e mail was the same, worse in fact because I had to stop myself from marching down to her cabin and despite my groin strain which really hurts still …… kicking her cabin door down and using Jack Bauer’s techniques to get her to admit that she is a selfish bastard.

She’s embarrassed because I paged her at nearly 11am……..her kids were upset ……….. they hadn’t seen her for over 12 hours………….they woke up to find her not there ……….. they had no idea what had happened to her………………..and she’s mad at me because I asked her to call Guest Services. What a load of bollocks.

And I doubt she was at bible class when I made the announcement either!

Anyway, I have tried calling her twice. The first time there was no answer and I tried again this morning at 9:35am and the son answered telling me that she wasn’t there. I will try again later but honestly, I hope I don’t get to speak to her. I also hope her son and daughter enjoyed the solid gold trophies and chocolate covered strawberries I sent along with $20 worth of tokens each for the arcade.

Calm down John………calm down……………think of nice things…………………Megan Fox’s bottom……….on my pillow…………. ooohhhhhh ………………….. ahhhhhh …………………. happy thoughts.

I mentioned my groin strain yesterday and thanks to those who sent sympathy messages and no thanks to those who had a good laugh at the expense of my thingy and the garden in which it grows.

I concentrated on that yesterday and forgot to tell you about the wonderful couple I met at the Marriage Show. Their names are Len and Francis and they have been married 62 years. During their time on stage with me I asked about how they met. Len told me that he was at a dance to say goodbye to his unit which was flying to England in World War II. He saw Francis dancing with another soldier and walked over to him. Len was a lieutenant and the soldier was a private and Len told this young chap that he had to report back to his platoon sergeant for urgent orders. And so off the private ran leaving Len with a salute and Francis. They danced the night away and three days later he flew to the UK and was part of the invasion of France.

They stayed in touch and when the war was over they were married……….and have been now for were married and have been now for 62 years. What a beautiful story. I wonder though how much longer I will be able to share the stage with people like Len, a WWII hero who is part of the greatest generation.

Well it seems many of my bearded friends in the Miami office along with many of you will be off on vacation tomorrow or taking the day off work. This means there will be no blog tomorrow. I will be back with a full week of blogs on Monday and until then wish you all a Happy Easter and a joyous Passover.

Oh, one more thing.

At the start of today’s blog I wrote about Jack Bauer and maybe one of the other reasons he is hanging up his 9mm and his PDA is that he can’t keep up with the new ways those bastard terrorists are trying to wreak havoc.

Apparently women suicide bombers recruited by Mr. Al Qaeda are known to have had explosives inserted in their breasts under techniques similar to breast enhancing surgery.

They would, apparently, be virtually undetectable by airport security.

Well, I guess the airports are going to have to do body searches and we shall have to do the same here on the ships as well and I think that it should be the cruise directors job to carry this out. And I think I should start now…….with those Texas Tech girls…….time to look for booby traps.

Goodnight
Your friend
John

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.

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