A Real Pea Souper

April 5, 2010 -

John Heald

Now and then when time allows I do a Q & A session about life onboard the ship. If it’s done properly it can be a great tool for the cruise director but if you are no prepared you can look a bit silly. And I have seen some of my colleagues do this and not be prepared and thus………look a bit silly.

So I went into this event having in fact prepared thoroughly with all my facts about the length, tonnage, propulsion system, etc. of the Conquest class ship memorized. I always start the Q & A with a bit about myself, how I started with Carnival, how terrible a bar waiter I was, how I was hired as a social host and became a CD 2 years later and how I love with all my heart and soul……Megan Fox’s bottom.

“Now, any questions?” I said.

There were about 150 people in the lounge and the first hand I noticed that shot up was that of a little boy aged between 7 and 9 I would say. So one of the entertainment staff walked over with the microphone and the little boy said “How much do you get paid?” And do you know what…….it completely threw me. If an adult had asked that question I would have told him to mind their own business, respectfully. But this was a kid ……….. and I didn’t know what to say. So I just made a nervous sort of laugh and said something about doing the job for love not money but I knew that he thought I was full of crap and was mad at me because I didn’t answer his questions.

That’s what’s so great about kids. They have no sense that some questions might seem a bit “personal or bordering on rude.” So they ask precisely what’s on their mind, what everyone wants to know, no pussyfooting about.

Anyway, the Q & A had not gotten off to the best of starts. However, it got into a swing eventually of the usual how big, how fast, how and where the crew live, etc. scenario. Then there was a question that I have never been asked before and just like the kid who had wanted to know how much money I earned, this question also had me flummoxed ……….but for an entirely different reason.

The question was asked by someone from Amarillo, Texas. I remember this because there is a song that was popular in the UK about this town by a singer called Tony Christie ………..anyway……….here, word for word is the question……….said live………..on the microphone………….in front of 150 other guests.

“Why do you hire so many foreigners and not Americans? Seems to me you would get better service if you hired Americans and not ………here’s my favourite bit ‘damn foreigners that can’t speak English.’”

Well, I just sat there and looked at poor old Boss Hog because he was now being booed by many of the audience and the ones not booing were laughing. And so I thanked him for his opinion and explained that we did have Americans in some of the departments such as the dancers, musicians, entertainment staff, cruise directors, guest service associates, etc. I was about to explain about the long days and hard work that working on a ship involves when Boss Hog unbelievably shouted out “You could be letting terrorists on this here ship”…………..and with that he got up and to another chorus of resentment from his fellow guests……….he buggered off.

I had two choices here, make fun of him and his beliefs or just move on…………..and so with an apology to the crew ho were serving drinks in the lounge at the time that they had to listen to that ………..I decided to move on.

I thought about the whole thing after the Q & A session had finished and realized that I had handled Boss Hog much better than the seven-year-old kid who had asked me how much money I had earned. Anyway, I realized that nothing I was going to say was going to change his view about our “damn foreigners” and thought nothing more about it ……… until Sunday morning when during debarkation I was handed this letter that was turned in at the Guest Services Desk. It was from Mrs. Boss Hog………..her real name is Jackie …………. here is the letter.

One cannot begin to understand the complexities of the mind and how going through something like the Vietnam War must have permanently scared his thinking and I am so glad I listened to myself and didn’t publicly make fun of him. Even though what he said is wrong, you can’t help but feel deep sorrow for him.

Let’s move on and do some written Q & A shall we……………..here we go.

Mellissa Woods Asked:
Hi John,

I have been home for a week now and going through withdrawls!!!! (Feb20th-27th dream sailing)

I have a couple of questions,

1) When we docked in Costa Maya and got off the ship we noticed a banner on the back of the ship that said “SECURITY WARNING KEEP BACK 500M” what was that for?

2) Also when we left port the man a couple doors down from us had to be take off the ship in Miami, just wondering how he is doing!

3) We were told when we booked that there would be a desk available starting Feb9th that we could buy future cruise certificates, we wanted to book a back to back cruise next year for our 10th anniversary. There was nothing set up is there any way we can do this through the office, we were part of the Cruise critic Group cruise, the Dreamers.

The Dream is a fantastic ship and the staff is awesome!

You are the best CD we have ever had!!

Just wanted to say thanks for the mention on your AM show, we were told the Olympic Hockey would be on the big screen (Canada vs. us) and it was not but you did make an apology to my Dad (BOB). We did ask a few people and they did their best.

We are going to book Feb 2011; do you have any idea where you will be??

Thanks for another fantastic Memory on board Carnival.
Mellissa Woods

John Says:
Hello Melissa Woods

I hope you had a great time with me on our Carnival Dream and as for February 2011, I am not sure yet exactly what ship I will be on. This week I will be posting the rest of my 2010 schedule and will then start to think about 2011 and hopefully we can have a reunion cruise. OK, with regard to your question about the banner, you will find all our ships have these and they are just simple security warnings to small boats not to come within 500 meters of the stern. This is a requirement set by United States Coast Guard and is another example of the world we live in today.

The gentlemen who we took ashore in Miami on the first night of the cruise made a full recovery after receiving the immediate surgery her required. Thanks so much for asking about him and thanks to the shipboard medical team who did an outstanding job in taking care of him until we could get him ashore.

Unfortunately your Carnival Dream did not have the Future Cruise and Loyalty Desk onboard when you sailed. We are slowly now planning to put on every ship and in fact they are here on the Carnival Conquest. While I will not be able to get you a certificate you can use the fact that you are a past guest to get a good deal on your next cruise. I know I let a lot of people down by not getting that first hockey game broadcast when NBC decided to show the skating thingy instead and moved it to MSNBC, a station we could get. Thanks for understanding……….one or two guests were less so.

I hope we do get to sail together again soon and until then I hope you enjoy the daily blog thingy.

Best wishes to all
John

Jan & Larry Ritchie Asked:
John;

Jan I and a group of 16 others will be enjoying the Carnival Miracle sailing Oct. 18 to the southern Caribbean. First, thanks to your blog for the tip of the itinerary change for this ship. As I was looking for a cruise for the group and when I saw this the decision was made. Second, do you know the formal nights for this cruise; as I suppose there will be two, as there are some in the group that don’t like to go formal all that much. I am trying to schedule our dining in the reservation dining room for one of these nights so it is not too hard on them (I don’t know what their problem is as I do enjoy these nights). Lastly they wanted to request a table in the dining room for 10 adjacent to a window at the back of the dining room. This might be early to request but what would be the appropriate time to do this.

Thank you and will keep reading your blog as I do get a good chuckle from it.
Jan & Larry

John Says:
Hello Jan and Larry Ritchie

It’s always nice to hear that as well as hopefully being entertaining, it is also nice to hear that the information I give is useful as well and helps a few plan and organize their cruise vacation. I have written the itinerary of your October 18th cruise and included when the elegant nights will be and included what I think will be the perfect night to eat at the Steakhouse. Here you go.

Please can you send me a reminder for your dining table request around the beginning of September and include the state room numbers.

It sounds like a wonderful voyage.

Best wishes to all
John

David Winakor Asked:
Hi John – Dave here. Please reply if you can.

My family having cruised RCCL 4x are recent Carnival converts. We’re taking our second and third Carnival cruises this year. The big one for us though is 4/11/10 on Splendor. The kicker is that our three great kids and I are SURPRISING my wife of 20 years (Laura) with a vow renewal at sea. We’re celebrating our 20th and her 40th birthday simultaneously. Despite the fact that she does everything for us, we’ve planned out sharp clothes, a night on the Queen Mary prior to sail to watch the Splendor dock, a “new” marriage proposal and a vow renewal booked on Splendor.

She does enjoy you and your humor (we do too 😉 ) and she never asks for anything (we just ask her for everything). Any chance you can sort through all of your important “to do’s” and leave a happy birthday/happy anniversary note for her? We love her to death and we figure, at least once every 20 years, we need to really show it!

Laura and I are going to be in #6448 – the kids across the hall in 6446. Wishing you could join us on Splendor but we’re sure to have a blast.

Thanks as always,
Dave

John Says:
Hello David Winakor

That is going to be one very surprised wife and Mum who will wake up one morning on the beautiful Carnival Splendor to discover that she is about to have that wonderful marriage renewal of vows in what will be a gorgeous ceremony conducted by the Captain.

I wish I could be there but I will send your CD, the terrific Goose to leave her a note and a gift in your stateroom. Please let me know how it all goes and have the most brilliant and romantic of times.

Best wishes to all the family
John

Kathy M. Asked:
Hi John, Please Reply.

John, I just got a big surprise, my younger brother who is a fan of Royal Caribbean has finally booked a cruise with Carnival. I have been telling him what a fantastic cruise line this is and he keeps saying, “But all they do on their ships is PARTY, PARTY AND PARTY, and you know I don’t like that kind of vacations.” So I told him well at least try one cruise and then let me know what you think. So for his wife’s birthday he booked a cruise on the Carnival Paradise for May 10, but to my surprise he has asked me to go on the cruise with them and it is also going to be a birthday present to me. I am so excited John for two reasons, one I have been finally been able to convince him to try Carnival and the 2nd reason is that since I have not seen my brother and SIL (sister-in-law) for nearly 12 years, that they would invite me as well.

I do need to ask you a couple of favors, could you possibly ask the Maitre D for a table for four, on the bottom floor ( I have a hard time going up stairs using a walker) since I have not seen my brother in over 12 years I would really like this to be just for us. Here is my cabin number E-259, my brother’s cabin number is E-245 and he is also taking his MIL (mother-in-law) as a gift to her for Mother’s Day. My other favor is, could you please have someone leave me a picture of you, they must have a picture of you somewhere on all of these ships. Now I understand if this can’t be done, but I just thought I would ask.

I am so glad to hear that Heidi and Kye got home safely, and BTW, I love the picture you have of her on your computer, that is just darling.

Give my love to Heidi and Kye.

From your #1 Bloggy Thingy Fan
Kathy M.

John Says:
Hello Kathy M

Thank you for convincing your brother to try Carnival and I am sure he will not be disappointed. He will finally get to see the service and fun that makes you and many thousands of others such loyal Carnival fans. I will indeed ask the maitre d to assist with your table request and I will send you a photo as well, it is the least I can do for being such a Carnival supporter and a supporter of my blog thingy. Please write back when you get home.

Have a brilliant time.

Best wishes to you all
John

Elizabeth Asked:
John, (please reply)

I had the pleasure of cruising with you on 02/27. We had a wonderful time. The ship is beautiful. This was my 6th cruise and the best ever. We had your time dining. It was great. Not once did we have to wait. The service was better than any we have ever had. Our waiters (we requested them each night) Christian, Damir, and Roferto were wonderful. Not sure if this is possible or not, but is there a way to get them a gift as a thank you. I would love to send them something just to say thanks. If that isn’t possible is there any way for you to pass my email address and comments along to them. They were truly the highlight of my family’s cruise, and helped to make my mother’s (Catherine) birthday special. Thank you so much for all that you do.

Elizabeth

John Says:
Hello Elizabeth

Thanks for that glowing report and I will be honoured (spelt correctly) to send your words of praise to Donato the hotel director who will show them what you have written and pass on your contact details. I am so glad you had a wonderful time and thanks for taking the time to write.

Best wishes
John

Sharon Asked:
Reply if you can

I sent you a note wondering how to override the “age” restrictions for certain excursions. I have only seen your response on the blog, which did not give an answer, only it will be researched and a response to be received.

We will be on our Carnival Triumph, (which I’m not sure I will enjoy as I like the Carnival Fantasy class better. did not totally like my Carnival Conquest ship, loved the employees, not the ship), April 10 sailing out of NOLA..

Sorry you put the Oscars on the big screen. I found Martin and Baldwin boring. Their lines were good, but the interaction was not there. I miss Billy Crystal. He could put on a show.

Last, why does Jen Baxter get a bad rap?

John Says:
Hello Sharon

I am pretty sure that I did reply to you about the age restriction on some of the excursions we offer. I think I asked for you to be specific and let me know which one you are interested in doing so that I can find out if there is any leeway. Usually, I must admit there isn’t but I will be happy to check for you. Maybe our postings crossed or got lost but either way please let me know how I can help. I see you will be on the Carnival Triumph soon and wondered what  you meant about Cruise Director Jen Baxter getting a “bad rap” ……does she?…………and if so , where? Can someone let me know please? I found her to be superb and her energy levels are unmatched. I am sure you will find her a lot of fun and please let me know if there is anything you need. Just mark your posting “URGENT” as I know you are sailing next week.

Best wishes and have a great time.
John

Clearskies Joe Asked:
John – urgent reply needed

Me and my wife will be on the Valor on April 11. I read on Cruise Critic that the ship is trying a test program and charging for ice tea and have stopped the turndown service and chocolates on the pillows. I wonder why this ship was chosen and why you have not written about it on your blog. It would seem to me to be an item that you should not be hiding from us. I am sure we will have a good time but it is discouraging to read that Carnival is cutting back the little things that make such a difference. I know I speak for many.

John Says:
Hello Joe

I was going to say that whoever wrote this on Cruise Critic was talking out of their buttocks ……… but I can’t say that because it would be rude. Instead I will simply say that you will have your turndown service complete with chocolate mint and that the ice tea served on lido continues to be complimentary as will the steak in the dining room and your sandwich from room service.

Have a brilliant time.

Best wishes to you and your wife.
John

Sara D. Asked:
Hi John! (Please reply)

I just got back from the Freedom and wanted to let you know I had a fantastic time (despite the motion on the ocean)! I really appreciate what you did for me and my group of friends. The first night, we were taken to the back of the Posh dining room where we sat right in front of the aft window, just like I asked. Thank you!

Not only was it a great seat, but our waiters were FANTASTIC! Our head waiter, Monchilo, was so nice, and the bar waiter, Bojan, was a hoot! Both of them are Serbian, and they really worked well together. Their enthusiasm was contagious! And the other waiter, Malvin, was great with my friend Kim. She was in the U.S. Army and knows Tagalog, the Philippine language. Since Malvin was from the Philippines, they would chat every night with each other. It was awesome! And the bar waiter at the wine bar, Bronco, was great, not only serving us great beverages (awesome cosmo!), but also showed us some great magic tricks.

I have been on three Carnival cruises, and I can say, without a doubt, that I had the cruise of my life. The Freedom has set the bar way too high! 🙂 And all of the first-timers that went with us were blown away by the experience, and I know that they will cruise Carnival again.

So again, John, thank you not only for requesting that table, but also thank you for introducing us to four new friends.

Sara

John Says:
Hello Sara D

It isn’t always the case that people take the time to say “thanks” when something they have asked me for is arranged. So, thank you for saying thank you and I promise that your next cruise will be even better. I remain at your service and will pass on your words of praise to the hotel director on the Carnival Freedom who will show it to the great crew you mentioned.

Best wishes
John

Gary Asked:
John, Please Reply.

I read with interest about the now 9-day cruise of the Carnival Dream over Christmas and including New Year’s Eve. Will this be a special onetime only cruise (encompassing 2 holidays), or will it become a yearly event? Will this be billed as a Holiday Cruise? I haven’t seen it billed this way as of yet. Either way, this cruise looks to be very appealing and so is the price!

I must also comment on So Belle 129 – Leslie. She should buy her client the steak dinner at the steakhouse. She is the travel agent and (I read both posts) it seems to me she was the one that slipped up, not Carnival and you, John, certainly cannot be expected to provide compensation.

Gary

John Says:
Hello Gary

For those who may not know what you are talking about I should explain. Your Carnival Dream will embark on December 23 on a nine-day voyage calling at Nassau, Cozumel, Roatan, Belize and Costa Maya with three sea days………including Christmas Day at sea. This definitely will be a Christmas cruise with all the trimmings and the price is as you said, brilliant. We changed the previous cruise to a 5-day to allow guests not to have to embark and debark on Christmas day and the price of this nine day is so good that I am told it is selling very, very well.

I hope you decide to go and I know Todd and his staff will do all they can to make it a terrific holiday experience.

Thanks for the kind words of support.

Best wishes
John

qqmelodia Asked:
Dear John, please reply.

First, I would like to say that we had the pleasure of sailing with you in Mar 2007, right when you started this Blog that was a cruise to be remembered for a long time to come. I personally have been a constant follower of this blog and I find it very helpful and very funny, so please don’t change a thing.

Second, I just booked a Carnival cruise today, Carnival Glory, Sept25, 2010 sailing. I am wondering who would be the CD on that cruise; do you know by any chance? Also, I will be traveling with both mother and father-in-laws, and my dear daughter of 2 years old and my husby. I am hoping that we may sit together in the main dining and I wonder if you would be so kind to pass along my information so that they can arrange it for me? Rm# 6432 and 6422.

Third, being a new mom, I totally understand what you are going through. It is hard not to be able to see your child everyday. But you have to do what you need to do. One thing I learned along the way, is that I won’t try to be the BEST mom, but I will always do my best within my capability for my child. 🙂

Thank you very much John. Keep up the good work!!!!!
qq

John Says:
Hello qqmelodia

Thanks so much for those wonderful words of support. It has been quite a journey hasn’t it and the blog has changed a bit over the last three years but I think I am happy with the formula despite some who do not like it so much. It may evolve naturally into something else of course and there will come a time when I run out of things to say and you all get bored with me. Until then I will do my best to keep you informed and entertained.

I know I have been slow to post the CD schedule past June. Chris our director who does this is back in the office on Monday after vacation and I will ask him to send me the finalized copy which is about ready to go. I will say that I am pretty certain that your CD will be George Solano who is in fact two CD’s for the price of one as he does all my jokes  🙂

I will though confirm this later this week.

It will be no problem for me to arrange you all to be seated together but please can you resend this request in early August so I can pass it to the Maitre D at the time onboard the Carnival Glory.

Thanks for the kind words of support.

Best wishes to you and the family.
John

Tiggerlvr Asked:
John (please reply),

I downloaded the AIDAvita app you mentioned a couple weeks ago. Even though it’s in German, I love it! It’s a blast! I love the 360 views and the deck plans. Do you think the bearded ones at Carnival (and your sister lines) will have an app soon?

John Says:
Hello Tiggerlvr

I don’t have an Eye Phone and I think I must be the only person in the world who doesn’t. I haven’t seen the AIDA app thingy at work but I am sure like everything else AIDA does I am sure it simply wunderbar. I have suggested to the men and women with beards at Carnival that we should do the same and I think it is safe to say that they are giving it serious consideration.

Vorsprung Durch Technik……….as they say at AIDA………and Audi.

Best wishes
John

That’s all for today. I see your comments are pouring in. There are 180 comments currently awaiting moderation. I know I repeat myself again here when I say how important everyone’s opinion is and please keep them coming.

Before I tell you about this week lets recap last week as I didn’t get to speak to you on Friday. Well, I loved my first week here on the Carnival Conquest. She is a great ship and has a great crew and boy oh boy the Texans, Louisianans and the Arkansasians are fiercely loyal to the ship and to Carnival. I have to say that they love to laugh as well. I did find myself altering my delivery a bit. There is still a canyon sized difference between British and American humour and I have found that here specifically. Just slowing down my timing and being a little more direct with what I say has helped I think. Anyway, I am waffling and all I really need to say is that the people last week loved to laugh and it was a joy to be amongst them.

Yes, we had as always a few “strange” people but all were for the most part decent folks. I cannot say that about the lady who left her kids alone all-night while she allegedly went off for some horizontal entertainment and had the nerve to scream and shout at me for calling her name over the PA system. She was lucky I didn’t say “Would Mrs. ___ please put her knickers on and go take care of the kids you left alone all night and are at the front desk crying because they think something terrible has happened to you.”……..but of course I didn’t. But I have to say that more than any recent guest I have met….she really got under my skin and I still cannot stop thinking about what kind of life she gives her kids.

Apart from her, I loved the people and so much fun with them. Of course, there was the extra challenge of 600 Mexicans and 400 Swedish and Norwegians who loved the line dancing (who new that country music was so popular with the Vikings) but I have no idea if they liked anything else. The Mexicans did not come to any of the shows and enjoyed the casino and the Latin band and the extra Latin nights I scheduled in the dance club.

On that note I mentioned there may be some changes with these cards and there will indeed be very, very soon. But while we have them I have to say that it puts a little extra pressure on me. You see, the expectations of the department heads here is that I will come onboard and lift whatever ship I am on to the number one spot in the fleet. Wow, that sounds like I am being a true big head and saying “look how great I am.” I am not, honestly I am not.

What I am saying is that in the same way Miami Heat fans expect Dwayne Wade to score 40 points every night the expectations that I will propel the ship to the number one spot is not an expectation I can always meet……..but I always do my best………and if I can get an audience of guests who all understand me and with the great crew here on the Carnival Conquest I think this ship should be………number one in the fleet.

I wanted to share a few “screen shots” from last week’s Talent Show. First up are the girls from Louisiana State University who are a dance, kicking team and they were superb.

Then there was Keith who played the villain in the bedtime story. Keith is 6 foot 9 inches tall and here and I are.

By the way, Keith works for the IRS!

OK, that was the week that was…………..here is this week as we sail on the alternative route to Key West, Freeport and Nassau.

Voyage: CQ704041O

Total Guests   3,488

Non U.S – 604

371 from Mexico, 59 from Canada

Past Guests – 2019

AGE GROUP TOTALS
Under 21 280
Under 18 60
Under 15 (Hotel Tracking) 251
Under 12 (Camp) 176
Under 6 59

So as you can see, another busy week and probably the last with such a high kid count. I am sure the Mexican guests had a great time last week and I feel a little more prepared this week for them and the little extras they need to have a great time.

Anyway, time for me to take a break and I pop to the bathroom…….I just had a cup of coffee and it has built an instant road through me. So, while I go provide my toilet with some shock and awe I will leave you all in the company of Carnival’s 345th best comedian ………..oh hold on………I just remembered, we hired a 83-year-old man from Mongolia who makes amusing animal noises………so I will leave you in the company of Carnival’s 346th best comedian………..Mr. Al Ernst as he continues his Alivers Travels.

Alivers Travels…

Third grade was the scene, and I had stayed with Cub Scouts long enough and earned enough “badges” that my mom let me get an “official” Cub Scout uniform…

So off we went to Sears, the official outlet for scouts, and the minute the sales clerk saw me, she said we would have to go to the “husky” department…I had no idea what that meant…until I got there, and saw the larger size clothes.

Husky, big boned, “healthy”…call it what you will, I have always been designated to the “special section”… Even at my best fitness…and actually running regular 10K road races (slowly)…I still was “husky.”

Age and comedy and cruise ship buffets brought me to my 48th birthday, and the scale read 345 pounds, and “husky” has turned into flat out “fat guy”…

So do I get my own reality show? Go on one of the “biggest loser” type cry fest shows? Or just accept it?

I want more than “fat” jokes on stage, and at least go through the buffet line without breathing hard…or the dreaded “You cannot fly cause you are too fat” dream I kept having…

Without the fanfare of a big pronouncement, I just decided that something needed to be done…and it had to be a lifestyle change.  That’s where the Carnival comes in.

As I flew out to each ship, I took the time to talk to some of the fitness staff in the spa.  To a person, they have been some of the most understanding and informative people I have met on or off ships.  The reputation, because they are a business, is that their motive is always to “sell” something- product or service…I found different  side, and what I think was real…people who really care, and want to help you make changes…but YOU have to want to make the change.

Yes, I have made it past to the Lido buffet every day to the gym and spa. (Why do they have to put it at the top on every ship?  So many temptations!)  No formal program…but just action…and support, as the fitness staff would take the time to talk to me, offer help and ask how it was going.

They would also stare at me in the crew dining areas …message received…But the greatest thing was what they are NOT saying… Never, “how much did you lose?” or “what’s your goal weight?”  They asked…”How’s it going?” “How are you feeling?” “Do you need some help with your diet/exercise?”

So as of today, I am on the Carnival Dream, and just finished my workout, and getting ready for my shows this evening…I weighed in at 306, a loss of 39 pounds.  Not “biggest loser” numbers…but I am very happy, and so are my clothes…and I did not need a seat belt extension for the first time in at least 9 years when I flew out to the ship yesterday.

Do I have a goal weight? No, not really…do I want to make a big deal out of this? No.  Do I want to make it a “life habit?” You better believe it!  Why? Just cause I feel SO much better.  It does continue…and it will!

Yes, I am still a “fat guy” and probably will always be…but I want to be a “fat guy” who “knows on the inside” that I am working … Not just watch my life go by… now, I continue to live a better life of gratitude to the fitness staff on the Dream, Triumph, and Pride…Thanks to all of them…

Everybody who is my position wants tips… mine are REALLY different than the “diet gurus.”

1. Weigh in ONCE a week…this really is not about the scale…too many times on the scale cause too much anxiety.

2. Treat this as a “life habit”…not a program

3. Do activities you enjoy in addition to your exercise (I like to hit baseballs…so I go to the batting cage every day I am home…wish they would build some on ships!)

4. Treat yourself to non-food rewards like new clothes or a CRUISE!

5. Just cut back on your portion size, and don’t eat mindlessly…know what you are eating and enjoy it instead of looking much your eating.

6. Find someone who will “coach” you, not “humiliate” you…and LAUGH about it…don’t cry.

Yeah, not too funny this week…but even comedians are people… I want to be around to always be Carnival 345th best entertainer for as long as they will have me.

Till next week, chugging back to Port Carnival… Your Buddy…The E Man, AL ERNST

Inspiring words mate and thanks for sharing them. Al has agreed to join me on the Carnival Fantasy out of Charleston and as always it will be so much fun to be working with him again………..although if I did discover that the Mongolian chap can do an impression of the Lesser Spotted Bog Yak……….then that may change things.

You can visit Al at anytime on www.alernst.com

I am feeling detached from my family at the moment and it hurts a little. You don’t mind me saying that do you? I know I am supposed to be as happy as Tiger Woods who has just hit a hole in one and has another 17 to go before dinner………..but sometimes I feel sad and yesterday was one of those days. It was Easter Sunday. Heidi has her Mum over from the UK my sister and brother in law and my niece and nephew are all home from Hong Kong……….and they were all round my Mum and Dad’s for Easter Sunday lunch. I called them and heard Kye’s infectious giggle and everyone gathered around the table for lunch………and there was I……….sitting alone………..in my underpants.

I really miss my family.

Back in a minute.

Sorry about that.

Come on John CHEER UP!

Right, well, I must also say that I really miss the tradition that is Easter Sunday lunch. I don’t know about North America but Easter Sunday lunch in the Heald household has always been a huge deal. Most nights I shovel food into my mouth with one hand while using the other to stab away at the remote control, desperately trying to find something on television that isn’t about Al Gore and his sodding Polar Bears.

But on Easter Sunday, just like Christmas Day the television is turned off, the whole family gathers round to gorge on a feast of my Mum’s roast beef, gravy and what fake British pubs in Florida and P&O cruise ships call………“all the trimmings.” Just in case you don’t know what that is its roast potatoes done in goose fat so they are as crispy as a dead bat. Then you have carrots, peas, broccoli, roasted parsnips and of course Yorkshire Pudding all topped off with lashings of gravy and horseradish sauce so hot that it gives you something my Father refers to as “ring sting.”

The fun all starts with something I have never seen in America and that’s something called “a butcher’s shop.” Do you have them in America and Canada? Every town and village in the UK will have a few specialist shops that just sell meat and where I live the next topic of conversation after which neighbor is a swinger and having rumpy pumpy with the local rugby team…….the conversation is always who is the best butcher.

My Mum has always used a chap called David Harrison and so now do Heidi and I and all my friends back home. His meat is Steakhouse quality and he is a great character as well……here is his website http://www.qbutcher.com/……stop by and tell him hello from me.

Obviously my Mum will be a little stressed. She always wants the meal to be perfect but with Kye always choosing to take a crap just as dinner is being served and my 9-year-old nephew and my 7-year-old nice wanting to stay watching a man light his farts on YouTube, by the time she gets everyone to sit at the table the broccoli is in desperate need of some culinary Viagra for it to become firm again.

Despite the chaos the atmosphere would have been wonderful and the food out of this world as my Mum’s cooking always is. And after dinner the kids can return to their laptops, my Dad and Kye can battle it out to see who falls asleep first while the rest of the family watch a documentary about how Susan Boyle is so rich now, she can afford someone to give her a professional shave every morning.

I really was not feeling good on Sunday and thanks to my friend “M” who gave me her valuable time to talk me out of my stupor and by 10:30 pm and the Welcome Aboard Show I was all smiles again.

Well, yesterday was a challenge to say the least. I knew something wasn’t right when at 6:15 am I heard the sound of the anchor being dropped. For those of you who have had a stateroom at the front of the ship when we have dropped the anchor in Grand Cayman (build a pier you cheapskates) you will know it makes one heck of a din. I got out of bed and waddled in my underpants to look out of the window and there it was…. fog ……….. thick and white……….just like Paris Hilton.

So, I waited for the captain to call me and sure enough a few minutes later the phone rang and I headed up to the bridge. My hair looked like I had just rented a moped and I smelt like we all smell in the morning and because of the huge Caesar’s salad I had eaten for dinner the night before ………….I gave the elevator a good crop dusting on my way up.

So, then it was time to let the guests know what was happening. Now, we have a huge file of pre-written announcements ready for the cruise director and or captain to make which covers every scenario possible. This includes man overboard, fire, missed port, technical problems and an escaped tiger lose on the lido deck……..OK, the tiger one is bollocks but pretty much every other situation is prepared for.

These have been written by our guest care team and they are basic to the extreme. Some CD’s will read them word for word and leave it at that, which is fine. I on the other hand find them a little ummmm……….well……..cold………so I like to add my own bits and pieces as well. Anyway, here is the announcement that is pre-written.

Ladies and gentlemen.  This is ___________ speaking, may I have your attention please.

As you may have noticed, we’ve encountered extremely dense fog.  Due to poor visibility we’re unable to make a safe entrance into the Port of Galveston.


I wish I had better news, but we’ll have to wait for conditions to improve before we can safely proceed.  I will keep you informed of any changes as they develop.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

OK, so I based my announcement around that but there is so much more to add.

1. Please don’t come down to the lobby with your suitcases. This is important as even once we raise the anchor and get underway we are still 1 hour at least from the port entrance. I certainly don’t want the guests sitting in the lounge or along Promenade surrounded by luggage.

2. It is important that they know that all information will come to me via the Captain and not at the Information Desk. There is no point guests standing in line for nothing.

3. And of course there is always a need to add the human touch and include words of sympathy with a splash of humour…..in this case by saying the fog has not yet disapissatated!

I then asked the youth director to open Camp Carnival, Circle C and Club O2 and we put movies on the big screen and in the main lounge and had activities going in the lounges on Promenade. We had karaoke and fun and games and music and praise be for the wonderful guests who were totally understanding.

Announcements were made in Spanish, Swedish, English and American……….and then it was just a case of sitting…….well in my case you can add an “h” to that word thanks again to the Caesar’s salad…….and waiting for the fog to bugger off.

Well, we finally started moving again at 2:20pm. Now, this next bit is where I say something that starts with a reminder that it’s my blog and that there is a disclaimer that states my words are not necessarily the words of Carnival Cruise Lines. I say this because a very wise friend of mine who has many years of experience in the maritime industry mentioned that the technology onboard the ships of today would have allowed the Carnival Conquest to enter the port in the fog that we encountered. Indeed, I could see how frustrated the captain was all day and I am sure that had the port not been closed that he would have gone in. And when we did start moving……..and this is just an observation ………….visibility was just as bad if not worse than this morning. I know I am a bit thick ………….but I don’t quite understand why we could go in when we did in the SAME weather conditions as when the port was closed.

And so we arrived alongside the pier at 4 pm and here is the time line from then on.

DEBARKATION STARTED AT 4:15PM

DEBARKATION FINISHED A7 7:30PM – YEP – IT TOOK FOREVER AS WE HAD 1,000 NON U.S CITIZENS WHO HAD TO PASS THROUGH UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION AND IT WAS A VERY LONG, SLOW PROCESS

Here is a capture from the web cam at just after 7 pm…………as you can see, the fog was coming in again.

EMBARKATION STARTED AT 8 PM

EMBARKATION FINISHED AT 12:50 AM

WE SAILED AT 2 AM

Now, due to our late sailing we have had to change our itinerary to the following:

Apr 4/4/10 Sun Conquest Galveston, TX 4:00 PM Midnight or before
Apr 4/5/10 Mon Conquest “Fun Day” At Sea At Sea At Sea
Apr 4/6/10 Tue Conquest “Fun Day” At Sea At Sea At Sea
Apr 4/7/10 Wed Conquest Nassau 10:00am 8:00 PM
Apr 4/8/10 Thu Conquest Freeport 7:00 AM 4:00 PM
Apr 4/9/10 Fri Conquest Key West 7:00 AM 3.00 PM
Apr 4/10/10 Sat Conquest “Fun Day” At Sea At Sea At Sea
Apr 4/11/10 Sun Conquest Galveston, TX 8:00 AM 4:00 PM

I am off now to do my Fun Ashore Fun Onboard talk……..except I am not. You see I am not going to talk about excursions and how to spend money….not yet. I need these people to know it’s OK, that everything is going to be just fine and to know that it’s ok to laugh. So, this morning I am going to do my Welcome Aboard Show…….at 11 am and see what happens. I will let you know. Time to go, back soon.

OK, it’s 11:50am and I just got back. There were 1,000 people in the room plus I played it on the big screen. I started with an apology and told them to blame me…….don’t blame the man who serves you dinner or the lady who cleans your cabin or the staff behind the guest services desk…….blame me. I told them that if anyone had any concerns to write me a note and that we would talk one on one.

All I asked of them is to remember that they had worked hard for this cruise and to enjoy to the full and move on from yesterday ……. because they deserved it. They all applauded and cheered. And then I got some guests on stage and we had fun and when I left the stage I told them that I promised that the crew would make sure that this was the best vacation they had ever had…..and I thanked them for their patience and understanding ….. and as I left…………..many stood and cheered. Unbelievable!

I guess then that not talking about tours and other revenue areas was a good move. I will do that tomorrow. And once again I am enthralled by just how nice the people who board the ship in Galveston truly are………even if it is after waiting to do so for 12 hours.

One last thing, do you remember the piece I wrote in the blog about how security experts were worried that women suicide bombers recruited by al-Qaeda are known to have had the explosives inserted in their breasts under techniques similar to breast enhancing surgery? Well, as I was prancing about on stage in the Carnival Legends show……in a dress …….. on Saturday night………….. to the tune of Nine To Five………….. I couldn’t help but think how I hope Dolly Parton never decides to become a terrorist.

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.