Pain In The Ash

April 16, 2010 -

John Heald

Yesterday Iceland farted on the UK.

And as ash spewed from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. This caused the men and women with beards to put on their high visibility jackets and shut down the skies. Al Gore blamed global warming. The Mayan Indians said it was the end of the world and the tofu-eating greens want to tax the volcano because it produces more carbon dioxide than my Range Rover.

My mate Alan wrote me this e mail “John, this is a terrorist attack, not an act of God. The terrorists are going to use this ‘smokescreen’ to attack us…….we’re all doomed” …. silly bugger.

However, it doesn’t look like the planes are going anywhere this morning either and Heidi said that the skies are clear and there are no signs of ash……..or planes and I wonder how it is that the Lovely Lisa my favourite weather person back home usually gets tomorrow’s forecast totally wrong, that she or any other weather chappy will be able to tell when the volcano will stop farting …………….and the as disapissatates (spelt correctly.)

Heidi and I and some of the blogging faithful have been to Iceland on the Carnival Legend in 2002 and we offered excursions to the blue grotto which I remember had views of the volcano which has currently kept Ryanair and their mates on the ground.

Iceland is beautiful and, yet, not of this earth. The people are all amazingly good looking but  spend all winter being frozen to death and all summer realizing that they live in one of the most jaw droppingly awesome places on earth…. Travel outside of the capital Reykjavík and you will have no reminders of the civilization you left behind…..it is not surprising that Neil Armstrong was sent here to train for his moonwalk.

The countryside is beautiful yet weird, the people are mad, the weather defies belief and some of their laws and customs leave you scratching your head.

Recently the country of Iceland was declared virtually bankrupt and I am not surprised. Heidi and I have clear and vivid memories of the dinner we had with the Entertainment Staff that night the Carnival Legend was there. You pay $80 for a bottle of house wine to accompany your plate of moose, reindeer or elk, which will be served to you by a lady who has completely see through skin. However, you will not be bothered by any of this because you will be too baffled that unlike the rest of the world…………..night does not follow day.

As true as we all know that I adore Megan Fox’s bottom we also know that without fail the sun will set and day will become night. But in Iceland, from the end of April to the middle of September night is like turning your living room dimmer switch down a wee bit……and in the month of June it doesn’t happen at all. It’s the most bizarre feeling to have it as bright at 4 am in the morning as it was at 4 pm that afternoon. Then, in the winter …well….blink and you will miss daylight which lasts just two hours.

In the summer months, people from Iceland rarely sleep and on Friday and Saturday nights ….. they do bugger all. They leave work, go home, have a few drinks, get showered, have a few drinks, change, have a few drinks, and then around 10 pm they all go out….I mean ………….. they ALL go out.

This can be quite a shock if you are not from Iceland but from Earth. I remember Heidi and I going out to dinner as I said. It was a Friday night and we left the ship rather late……it was 9 pm. I remember thinking “Bugger, I bet we are too late to get a table.”

But the streets and the restaurants were deserted and, as I sat with my plate of freshly murdered reindeer and potatoes, I noticed that as the night wore on the restaurant became busier and busier.

By 11:30 pm there were lines outside the restaurant we were in and outside every other one as well. So, I asked for the bill, which was so expensive it would have made Donald Trump go “Bloody hell.”

When we left Heidi and I and the staff entered a world like nothing else. It was a huge street party……. they were celebrating something special…….Friday night. I had seen nothing like it. If Latvian women had been handing out free rumpy pumpy and Tiger Woods was standing there holding a sign that said “get it here” and the Queen Mary 2 had arrived……. all at the same time, it would be nothing like Friday night in Iceland.

To put it mildly……..everyone was totally and utterly smashed, soused, hammered, blotto, out of their faces drunk. Their motto seemed to be that it was no use drinking the odd glass of beer now and then, it was too expensive and a waste of time……..So why not wait until the weekend and drink 30 beers and two bottles of vodka?……and that is exactly what they do.

The Icelanders are very much the same as the Finnish and in particular the same as the shipyard workers who built the beautiful Spirit-class ships. Their work was faultless, the men and women who built the hull and welded the decks were the nicest most professional people in the world, and they built stunning vessels …… but come the weekend they turned into binge drinking nutters who would fill Coke bottles up with nine parts vodka and one part Coke……and that was to drink on the bicycle ride home…….some were so pissed (that’s the British pissed) that they rode home on their bikes…….backwards.

The Friday night gathering in Iceland lasts until late Sunday night where people go straight from the bar to work. It’s amazing….the people of Iceland and Finland seem to have developed the sleeping patterns of a turtle…….your awake for four months and then…………….you’re not.

If any country is thinking of invading Iceland, I would suggest they do so between November and February because no bugger is awake……….although you could also invade in June as well because everyone will be too drunk to care.

Iceland has no crime which is easy to understand as it’s either too light to steal anything and in the winter it’s too cold……even now you can find men frozen to the spot with a stolen TV in their arms.

I remember Iceland as a beautiful, barren, place with days of no daylight and nights with no night. At the weekends the people will fall over mid-sentence because they are so drunk and they welcome visitors from around the world with open and loving arms. The place is absolutely crazy and now they have a farting volcano as well. I hope one day we cruise there again.

Time for a spot of Q and A….off we go.

Karen (not a techmom anymore) Asked:
John (Please reply via blog or email)

We too are on the Spirit on May 11th with John & Patty and have booked our excursions already. It took awhile for the them to be available but we are all set.

We are traveling with another couple and they just celebrated their 25th anniversary. Now when the husband booked he booked a suite-boat is pretty full-but thought it would make the trip special. Last night he asked me how to have nice champagne and chocolate covered strawberries in their room upon arrival and I know the Formalities shop handles it but was unsure what to do prior to the ship sailing. That is my question-how can I help him arrange?

Now my husband was standing there as we talked about this and let me tell you he is in REALLY, REALLY big trouble. Bryon (my son) was Sr. Entertainment Tech on the Conquest during my 25th anniversary. We cruised that week with another couple. Do you think my husband or my son thought to have us renew our vows or do anything to celebrate-NO! So he will be in deep poo for the next 25 years! Husbands-take note.

Enjoy the Conquest-we sailed twice on her and loved it.
Karen

John Says:
Hello Karen (not a techmom anymore)

Before we start, please send my best regards to your son, I hope he is well and happy. It is always nice when people want to enhance a celebration like an anniversary by doing something special for their partner. Please direct your friends to the link thingy here which is our Bon Voyage site where he can order some special goodies:

http://www.carnival.com/BonVoyage/Default.aspx

Your husband may have forgotten and your son but if you send me your cabin number…….I won’t.

Have a great cruise and best wishes to all.
John

Kathy M. Asked:
Hi John, Please Reply.

I feel so bad about telling you about missed cruise critic meeting, but I thought you should know. I do know that it has happened more the twice because when I posted it on Cruise Critic that I had written to you about setting the meeting up, I go quite a few emails that said, “Don’t count on the meeting being set up.” I will say that not one of them blamed you at all, they blamed the CD who was on the ship. I will say this though John, if the meeting had taken place, I think you know me by now that I would have sent you the biggest THANK YOU anyone would have seen.

About the noise coming from the Lido Deck I have read on Cruise Critic many times people have complained about the noise coming from the bands, dance floors or the bars, have heard many many complaints about the dragging of the chairs, so I put a question on Cruise Critic that asked about what locations to avoid when choosing my cabin and it surprised me that most said to stay away from decks that are under the public areas. It would seem to me that when they designed the ship they could put extra insulation between the cabin and the floor above them. This is not a new problem that has come up with the new ships, all of Carnival ships are like that as well as other cruise lines.

Please give my love to Heidi and Kye.
Kathy M.

P.S. How is the mole problem? Please update.

John Says:
Hello Kathy M

The moles seem to have buggered off for now but I am sure they will be back…..the little sods. We realize that there are staterooms where the dragging of deck chairs can be heard and we are currently on a drive to train our crew not to drag them and to put rubber stoppers on the legs where possible. I am positive that we will continue to see good results here and less comments from guests. My apologies to anyone who has been in a cabin where this noise has disturbed them. We will do better.

As for the CC meetings. Well, for the most part these all go without a hitch and I encourage everyone who wants one to nominate one person to contact me as often, as happened on the Carnival Miracle last month, I had two different requests for a meet and greet for the same group which meant we had two lounges reserved. I will always do my best to help with these arrangements though and remain at the service of all my friends on Cruise Critic.

Best wishes
John

retirementman Asked:
PLEASE REPLY JOHN

I only have two questions to have you answer. Since you have a love for the larger ships, do you ever think that you would be a CD on a ship like the Carnival Miracle? (I’ll be on the Carnival Miracle next January 22) and have they decided what port the Carnival Magic will start at (ex: Miami, Ft. Lauderdale or Port Canaveral) and what will be the itineraries for the Carnival Magic?

Just to mention something, the Carnival Dream is a very great ship for everyone. I would recommend to take any cruise on the Carnival Dream. My wife and I still discuss all the fantastic things that took place while on the carnival Dream. I’ve recommend it to all of my friend and I plan on going back to my Carnival Dream. Thank you everything John.

Paul F. Pietrangelo

John Says:
Hello Paul.F Pietrangelo

I have wonderful memories of our time together with Southern Dreams and Charlie on your Carnival Dream. The Carnival Miracle is on the list for the 2011 bloggers cruise and I hope to have more information on that soon. I love the Spirit class and had the most wonderful month last year on the Carnival Legend one of my favourite ships. The home port for the Carnival Magic should be announced soon I would think and I have our Super Spy PA 007 on that case as we speak. Hopefully he/she will be able to let me know what lucky place will be able to call itself the home port of Carnival’s flagship. Regardless of where and when I hope we get to sail together again very soon.

Best wishes to you and the family.
John

Angela Guptill Asked:
Please reply:

Hi John. Can’t stop thinking and dreaming about our Dream Feb.13th. Already have the next cruise plotted out for next year. RE: the Serenity Decks, I absolutely love them but it was a tough go finding a spot. Only actually got to be there once on a cool/semi rainy day but the sun came out for me as I sat wrapped up in my Carnival robe reading my book. This is just one of those suggestions but could you pass it on to “the beards” that the Serenity decks might be a bit bigger or at least try and squeeze in a few more of the cabana style seating thingies. Thanks again for all the wonderful things you and the crew at Carnival do for us. Cheers, Angela 🙂 Guptill

John Says:
Hello Angela

The Serenity decks on your Carnival Dream were as you mentioned a huge success. This adults only slice of heaven is spaced over two decks and unfortunately we won’t have any more space to add a third area on Carnival Magic and on the Carnival Thingy.

I will see if we can indeed add any more cabanas and chairs to the area but from what I remember space was already at a premium. It is a beautiful area and part I am sure of many wonderful memories of your Carnival Dream cruise.

Best wishes to all
John

Pinkbarbie Asked:

Welcome to Texas.

Hope you have fun and enjoy your time on the Conquest. Get it ready for us. I’ll look forward to seeing you in 5 weeks (April 25).

I am trying to find out if a certain employee is still on the ship when we get there. On our last trip, there was a fabulous hostess named Aysu in the Dining Room that my two daughters, Kaylin and Hannah, fell in love with. IF she is still there, they would like to send her a gift. (Strange request I know, but we do strange things for our kiddos).

Thanks
Christy Richardson

John Says:
Hello Pinkbarbie – Christy Richardson

It will not be too long before you are here. As you may have gathered I am having a terrific time here on the Carnival Conquest as I know you will too. Aysu is currently on the Carnival Liberty and if you want to send her a gift here is the address.

CARNIVAL LIBERTY
P.O. BOX #025351
MIAMI, FL 33102-5351

Thank you for your kindness

Best wishes to you and the family.
John

Laura from UT Asked:
Dear John (please reply),

First, I’m sorry that you are now going to have to edit each and every letter written to you (like you don’t already have enough to do!) before reading them aloud to make sure their aren’t any words that might “offend” somebody (curse words I can understand but slave? Really? I think most of us understood what the little girl meant by the context of her letter.)

Second, though I am not a smoker, I just wanted to check out the list of all the Carnival ships and their smoking policies. The ship I will be sailing on in May, the Carnival Paradise, seems to have the least amount of areas in which people can smoke. Is this because the Carnival Paradise was once smoke free? Who sets the policy as to which areas allow smoking? I’m really just curious so don’t worry about being in a big hurry to answer this question.

Laura

John Says:
Hello Laura

As I think you may have read in yesterday’s blog, you never know what you might say that will upset someone and I continue to do my best to make sure it does not happen. A few weeks ago we posted the smoking policies for the entire fleet and in case you missed it, here it is again.

http://johnheald.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/onboard-smoking.pdf

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Best wishes
John

The Groves Asked:
Please respond

Our first Carnival cruise experience will be on the Valor on May 2nd. I notice that you make table reservations and want a table for my family of five in a prominent position in the dining room and not tucked away somewhere as I read on Cruise Critic happens many times to first time cruisers.

John Says:
Hello the Groves

I would be happy to try and arrange a table for you but will need your full name and cabin number please and as soon as possible. I hope you and your family have a wonderful cruise.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Best wishes
John

Jill Asked:
Dear John, (Please reply)

I am booked on the Carnival Dream to sail in just over a month now on what should be my Platinum cruise. Just booked today! However, my first Carnival cruise seems to have been lost. In what we think was 1986, I sailed aboard the Carnival Holiday with my grandparents (both now deceased) when we think I was 7. Unfortunately after talking to guest services it appears because I have no way of proving my butt was on that ship they are unable to add it to my past cruise records. I am sailing with a newbie friend, I am trying to addict her to cruising (especially with Carnival and not Stuck up of the Seas) is there any way of getting us VIP boarding? Thanks in advance!

PS. Your girls are beautiful and lucky to have you!

John Says:
Hello Jill

I know how excited you are to be so close to your platinum benefits so let’s see if we can help you. Do you have any record of the Holiday cruise? A photo, a ticket receipt, anything? If you do that may stand as evidence and we can add that to your cruise count. Meanwhile I will be contacting the CARE Team to see if there is anything they can do for you. Please let me know when you can.

Best wishes to all
John

That’s all for today, there will be more Q and A soon.

I know many of you have a Facebook page as does Carnival Cruise Lines. In fact their page has been listed in the top 40 most slapped on pages. Have a read of this:

http://blog.thekbuzz.com/2010/04/the-top-40-fan-pages-on-facebook-revealed.html

Congratulations to the 343 Stephanies and those with beards who have made sure that Carnival’s internet marketing is the absolute best in the cruise industry. I was surprised that Svetlana my Latvian friends page didn’t make the top 40……….I am on her Facebook page every day.

I have met so many amazing people this cruise. People like the Wordleys who have cruised 14 times with Carnival………9 times on the Carnival Conquest. This shows yet again the loyalty that people feel to the ships based out of Galveston.

Remember the couple who were swearing at each other on elegant night and then apologized the following night to me? Well, even though I told them that was not necessary they went ashore today and bought me a rum cake and left if the Pursers Office with…….oh bugger …….. bugger ……….the Guest Services Desk with a beautiful card once again saying how sorry they both were.

How wonderful and even though I could not enjoy the rum cake (full of sugar, I gave it to the staff) the fact that they are living in peace and harmony and having fun together is the best reward. I sent them some champagne and chocolate covered strawberries and a note for a continuing happy life together.

The only sad note is the lady who was upset at my “fattest” jokes. I have tried to call her again but she refuses to speak to me and her Mother also seems to feel the same way about me as well because she let me have both barrels. This is left me feeling so sad. I just did a tummy bump ….. and being extra medium myself I am so surprised at this reaction.

But everyone else has I think had the best of times and even with the bad weather in Grand Cayman the smiles, laughter and friendliness are abundant ………it’s what fun for all cruising is all about. And it’s raining hard again today in Cozumel and I do feel so sorry for the guests here and on the Carnival Valor which is docked next to us. I just finished my 9 am Morning Show and even though the guests could see that the sun was not shining they were still so happy and ready to have fun..…..in the liquid sunshine of the day.

Another way to tell how well the cruise is going is by the results at the Cruise and Loyalty desk. As you know this is a desk on the Promenade Deck where guests can talk to someone about future cruise bargains and of course the simply brilliant future cruise certificate. This means that if you have any consideration of cruising with Carnival again within the next five years you must visit the desk. All you need to do is give them $100 as a deposit for that future cruise and they will give you a certificate that assures you of a minimum of $100 onboard credit the next time you sail.

You don’t have to give a date or a ship and……..it is fully refundable. This option is already on over half the fleet and the intention is to have it on all the ships soon. I will let you know when this will be happening soon. This cruise the desk has been very busy. People are grabbing the certificates like hot Krispy Krème doughnuts and making bookings. Next week I have decided to host a 30 minute get together about my experiences in the Grand Med and show some slides and of course…………..talk about the Carnival Magic.

Hopefully this will excite guests into joining me. I am waiting for permission to do this from the beards and hopefully I can as I said start this next week. By the way, please take the time to read the blog I posted earlier today about “excursion pirates.” It is a stark reminder that whether you are in Naples or Nassau, Civitavecchia or Cozumel…..take an excursion from the ship you are sailing on. Let me know your thoughts.

And talking of new things I returned an old one to the program on Tuesday night. Now, I used to host this when I was a both a social host and a young, thin and dark haired CD and always enjoyed it as did the audience. I don’t know what made me do this but I thought “Bugger, let’s give it a try.” And so I did and even though the last time I did it was probably 1995/6 it was a huge hit and so very funny. I am talking of course about the Men’s Knobby Knees Contest.

There is no finer site on the ship than 10 men with their pants rolled up or in one case because their jeans were too tight, around their ankles. I choose a different lady to judge each pair and describe how they feel and then before the audience make their minds up and applaud for the overall winner…………..it’s time for a bit of River Dance as we line the guess up to do some Michael Flatley. It was very funny and even though it had been so many years since I had done this it all came flooding back, the jokes, the timing………everything. The audience laughed out loud and at I began considering bringing back the Male Nightgown Contest…………..my arse!

So, all in all a great week and I am already sorry that I only have two left here. I see that many of you seem happy that I am heading west next contract and thanks to all who are planning to come and see me. I am sure we will have some splendid fun together.

Kye was 11 months old yesterday and on the 28th of April Heidi will be ** years old. I will miss her birthday as I will my beautiful daughters. I considered flying them out to the Fantasy but the business class ticket is nearly $3,000 and I just paid that for her to be here on our Carnival Dream. And so I will miss Heidi’s and Kye’s birthday and missing Kye’s already has me feeling sad, angry and guilty. I just can’t think about it.

Anyway, I will see you bright and early in my underpants on Monday morning as we continue our adventures together here on the Carnival Conquest. Until then………..for those who like to find out what my girls have been up to………………here they are.

Hello everyone!

It’s been a while so a little update was due I think as Kye will be 11 months in a few days.

Since we came home from the ship it took a little time to get back to normal. Kye had her first real cold with sickness and fever which was really horrible. It took her a good 10 days to get back to her happy self. It doesn’t matter what the doctor says, you worry and you feel so helpless as all you can do is cuddle her. For me, it was getting back to normal as well. I kept looking around our house but on none of the floors did I find a buffet with friendly staff and delicious food, certainly not the pasta bar….ohhhh, I miss that!

Kye has been developing rapidly the last few days. On April 4th she decided she didn’t have to hold on to things all the time anymore when standing up which was amazing to see. It looks like she is on a surf board, standing with her arms wide, riding the waves. Then there is the clapping, which, she most of all, finds very amusing! On the talking front we haven’t come any further than DADA yet, which is just not fair.

There is an advert here in the UK in one of the Mother and Baby magazines that goes like this:

You lose your figure, you lose your job, you lose your sleep and the first thing they say is DADA…..

Oh well.

We are having a spell of nice weather here at the moment so we are off for a walk on the seafront this afternoon. Mum is visiting us for a few weeks and she loves the English seaside………..I have to say, I prefer the beaches and seaside towns in Holland but as Tony Soprano would say: “Wadda you gonna do?”

Talking about Holland. John and I have decided for different reasons that I won’t fly out to the ship for Kye’s birthday.  Therefore, Kye and I are boarding a different ship to sail to Holland for her birthday and celebrate her special day with her Dutch family.  My Dad will smile from above to his little granddaughter who shares his birthday with him.

She will actually have more celebrations than most birthday babies. First she will have a “shared birthday party” with all the babies from the antenatal group, then her party in Holland and we will celebrate again with Grandma and Grandpa when John gets home.

When we come home from Holland it won’t be long before John will be home…….the 3 weeks on board went waaaaay to quick and next time we will sail we will stay a lot longer! Thanks so much to all of you for the beautiful things you say all the time about Kye and a special thank you to Pat and Ed and Carolyn and Don who came on the ship to see Kye.

I am so looking forward to a nice summer together and Holland winning the World Cup.

Bye bye for now,
Heidi and Kye

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.