Health and Safety vs. The Predator

August 12, 2010 -

John Heald

I came on the Carnival Splendor determined to make sure I change some of what I do, add new activities and bring some of the old ones back. Admittedly, I am doing this not just for the guests but for myself, I don’t want to go straight onto auto pilot and just do what I have always done. And while I have been able to change one or two things for the most part I have found it very hard to bring back some of the old style fun because of course………….times have changed.

You see, the problem is that while we weren’t looking, a coup has taken over places like schools, government, television, the police, the armed forces and of course……cruise ships. Yes, it’s not the head teacher or the general or the captain who’s in charge any more……… nope ………. it’s the man…..or woman…….standing in a corner of Lido Deck…….with a clipboard …….. wearing sensible shoes and a high visibility jacket

As a result the bridge of a cruise ship is like a scene from on an old Soviet submarine movie where everyone of us is now under the direct control of a political commissar whose sole job is to make sure that nobody falls over, trips up or hurts themselves while having fun.

So when I mentioned to someone in the office that I would like to bring back a modern-day version of pillow fighting the lights went up, the shutters came down and with klaxons blaring, we surfaced, special forces stormed my cabin and I am now writing this blog from a Siberian jail …………… my underpants.

I had tried to explain to the clipboard brigade that we did this event for years and tried to explain how much fun it was. I had to pause for a few moments while the man with the high visibility jacket grabbed a dictionary and looked up the word “fun.”

I then said that we could buy some big thick mats and use light fluffy pillows for guests to hit each other with but it was to bugger all avail. It would involve they said employing paramedics and buying neck braces.

And I miss the old days before e-mail. Before direct phone lines to the office where if you wanted to try something new that you truly thought would work……you did it……it was better to ask for forgiveness than permission. These days, you have to fill in a compliance form which makes sure that you’re complying with every single piece of safety and PC stuff, no matter how trivial. The trouble is that by the time you’ve done this you have forgotten what your idea was in the first place.

Actually, you don’t even have time to fill in the forms because usually you’re away on a course, watching safety films on how guests should hold the hand rail when climbing the stairs. At the start of the video it showed an actor tripping going down the stairs on the Carnival Fascination. I thought it was the start of a new TV program “Guests Do The Silliest Things”…… but apparently it’s supposed to demonstrate how things can go wrong.

And I guess it’s not their fault. That’s because we live in a world where companies are so scared that people will sue for just about anything. I guess I just don’t understand how in the 1990s we did pillow fighting and the belly flop contest and the male nightgown and and and……..but today ………….we can’t. Maybe the world has moved on, maybe the company has moved on and maybe it’s me that is the dinosaur……………….maybe I am a Megasorearse!

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

Betty Williams Asked:
Dear John,

I have not written to you before but I really enjoy your blog. You are a very entertaining man, I love your sense of humor.

I am writing to ask a favor. We are sailing on the conquest, on nov 7th and we are seated for the early dining. This will be my friends first cruise and my fourth. Would it be possible to be seated along the upper rail at a four top or a two top table if possible? We enjoy meeting new people but some together time would be nice also.

Thanks in advance for your time and trouble, and please always keep your “off the wall” sense of humor.

Betty Williams

John Says:
Hello Betty Williams

Thanks for writing for the first time. It is always nice to welcome new friends to the blog thingy. I would indeed be happy to help you with your table request. Please can I ask that you send me this request again on October 1st and I will make sure I send it onto the ship? If I do so now it may get lost. I hope you continue to enjoy the blog and I hope to hear from you again soon.

Best wishes

Dave Carson Asked:
Hi John! (Please Reply)

Is it likely or even possible that you will be the CD on Carnival Magic’s October 2011 transatlantic crossing? If your answer is in the affirmative, I’ll book it!


John Says:
Hello Dave

Well, it’s funny you should ask because I discussed this very subject with Chris P and the beards at Miami HQ just a few days ago. The answer is yes……….probably I will be the CD. Normally I don’t do the TA’s because ……well…….quite honestly they are very challenging but most of all I hate being at sea for 6 days. Not because I hate being at sea but because I hate being out of contact with my family and should (God forbid) anything bad happen, I have no way of getting to them. It looks though that this time I will because I have to be in Galveston for the first cruises from there and it would seem unfair to have another CD host the TA and then tell him or her to bugger off when they reach Texas. So, I have asked Heidi and Kye to come with me and at the moment it looks like she will and that means that yes………I will be the CD for your Carnival Magic’s trans-Atlantic voyage. Sorry about my rambling there. I am sure you were looking for a yes or no answer but I just wanted to explain myself properly. I am honoured though that you would consider sailing if I was there. I am happy to say therefore that barring any unforeseen circumstances that we shall be there together.

Best wishes,

Wil-da-beast Asked:
John (please reply)

My family and I just got off the Carnival Conquest and everyone had the best time. But first and foremost THANK YOU so much for the gift. We really appreciate your thoughtfulness. Next of importance we have to tell you that this was the first time we did the “any time dining” and enjoyed the experience. Please somehow let all 4 ladies at the podium know how much we appreciated their service. Always smiling, friendly and getting our table for 6 ready as soon as they saw us. Our server De was also the best. Our 2 teenage boys just loved her. After a couple days they would say “we don’t need a menu, we will get whatever De recommends because she gives us the best food” We felt like we were leaving our best friends on the last night. So many hugs and tears and thank you for everything. Won’t take up any more of your time, but please let these special ladies know we will never forget our time with them. And thanks again to you. My very best to you and your family…A&W

John Says:
Hello Wil-da-beast

I am glad you had such a great time on the Carnival Conquest and thank you…….for saying thank you. It was good to read that you enjoyed YTD. I know some are still skeptical about moving from assigned dining to anytime dining and it’s good to read that experienced cruisers enjoyed the flexibility. I will make sure that the staff get to read your testament of praise and once again thanks for taking the time to write and for the kind words.

Best wishes to all.

Charles Iley Asked:
Hey John, (no need to reply)

I really enjoy the blog, and am asking for a little favor after all of these years of reading.

You see, my family and I are former loyal royals and Disney-cruise types that found our way onto the Carnival Glory last year on a lark, and we are stuck on Carnival for good. We have raved about it so much that we have coerced my wife’s friend (who will be celebrating her fiftieth birthday with her first ever cruise) and her family to join us and my mom and her friends on the Dream sailing on September 4.

The problem that I have is this: we want to make sure that we are all, ten of us, at the same table for dining. We are all confirmed for early dining. I ask you this because we had an issue with not being seated together on the last cruise, despite linking our reservations. This was corrected by the second night on the Glory, but I am concerned that with ten people in the party, there may not be options available to correct any problems that might exist.

If you can offer a double check to ensure that we will be seated together, I will be forever in your debt. If you can offer some sort of embarrassing decoration for Margo, our 50th birthday celebration victim, it would really start the cruise off right!

Thanks for all of your help!

John Says:
Hello Charles Iley

Welcome to the fun affordable world of Carnival and I am so happy to read that you are now “stuck on Carnival for good.” Please don’t worry about your dining assignment as I know the maitre d’s on your Carnival Dream will do all they can to make sure that they seat you together. Margo can also look forward to a little birthday surprise from me. I wish you all a brilliant time.

Best wishes

David Templeman Asked:
Hi John, (Reply if you like)

The following is the summary of my first Carnival Cruise…

I’m not going to write a huge write up on this cruise as I feel that I would be beating a dead horse on some issues. This is my 5th cruise, with my 4 previous being NCL Dawn, RCCL Voyager of the Seas, Celebrity Constellation (twice).

Overall, I’d lay it out like this… and I’ll elaborate as I continue.

Embarkment and Disembarkment… perfect… no issues.

Food and Dining Room service: A-

Cabin & Cabin service: A+

Entertainment and Entertainment Staff: C-

General Staff (Gathering, pool, etc): D

Ship: D-

Ports: A (Enough said)

Food and Dining Room Service: We were in the Scarlet Dining room on the 2nd level all the way in the back near the windows. We had a party of 21… which was tough to accommodate … and my TA screwing up our reservation by not linking our group properly. They eventually straightened everything out to our satisfaction (they had put some of our group in Crimson… but after speaking with the maitre d’ we had it straightened out by the 2nd evening). The food was generally good. Everything was cooked to order, and very promptly served. I especially liked the Filet Mignon. Our wait team was Spectacular. They were on top of everything, even assisting with our other table when their service was lacking. I only gave it an A- minus because of an incident with a Bar waitress that left us all with a bad impression. She was trying to straighten out a bill with sodas, and she was downright rude with us. I’d say Carnival beat out the Dining rooms of all our previous cruises… only edging out Celebrity by a little bit. Carnival beats out NCL and RCCL hands down. We did dine in the Chefs Art steak house one evening, and I would say it was on par with RCCL and Celebrity as far as the food… Celebrity’s specialty wins out based on service. BTW… I had a KILLER Ruben sandwich from the deli… (just thought I’d mention that)

Cabin and Cabin Service: We stayed in cabin 7259 which was an OS category. The room was well appointed. I especially liked the bed. Our cabin stewardess… Sparky from Croatia was the best I have ever experienced. She was great. We shared a balcony with our friends next door. Sparky was able to have the partition between them physically removed… so no banging in the night. LOVED her. Carnival wins here.

Entertainment and Entertainment staff: Let me say this first. I don’t expect anyone to entertain me when I get on board… we had a large group of friends and we made our own fun. BUT… the events that we did attend, I found to be a bit “cheap” and unorganized. Our first taste of the entertainment on board started off with the “Fabulous Welcome Aboard Laser Show”… which the system locked up and the couldn’t get the “Fabulous” lasers to work. They eventually got it started… and I have to say… Lame. The staff tried their hardest to keep everyone entertained… kudos there. We left half way through. A few of our group stayed … only to have the entire mixing board in the pool short out… Major buzz kill. “Fabulous Welcome Aboard Laser Show” Bust. (I would not be attending the “Fabulous Laser Show” any more).

The Dancing in the Street show was very good.

The “Fabulous Marty Gras Gala” was downright dumb. I took it like this… 3 or 4 entertainment staff standing at the pool, chucking beads at us while playing music. Now, ok… I understand the theme involves beads… but 1/2 hour of watching teenagers diving for beads while running over my friends 8 and 11 year old children isn’t my idea of “Fabulous”. A simple announcement from the people running the show to allow others to get the beads after you get one or two might have been prudent. It was cheap and frustrating.

The comedians were good. We really enjoyed them.

The CD Todd was non-existent. I think this was his last, or second to last cruise before vacation for him… so… I understand his absence.

General Ship Staff: Rude and not helpful. In one case my wife went to get a cheese burger, only to be told “No more, I’m closed”… and walked away. Now… ok, I can accept that. You’re out… not a problem. Only when my wife saw others walking around with plates with … you guess it… Cheeseburgers… did she realize that the station on the other side of the ship was still open. What would it take for that person to say “I’m sorry, I’m closing, but if you go over to the other side I believe they are still serving hamburgers.” In one case, chairs were taken from the Circle C room … and my daughters group was told that “if you don’t find out what happened to those chairs, someone in here will be charged”. Rude… Unnecessary. I found that in general, no one was really interested in taking that extra step to make things “better”.

Ship: I was expecting more. As the “latest and greatest” I would expect Carnival to have put more thought into the design of this ship. The Gathering is too small for the number of passengers. Photographer’s are stationed in silly places that caused choke points on the “Dream street” (I spend half my life in traffic… do I need it on a ship?). The pools are WAY too small. The slides… I can’t comment on, because the lines were too long to actually use them. My overall impression is that for the size of the ship, and number of passengers (we sailed at capacity) the ship was poorly designed to handle that many passengers.

Summary: My overall impression of this Carnival was neutral. I found that a lot of “little things” were missed. Attention to detail… Just a little bit of effort from the crew would have made a huge difference. In comparing this cruise to my previous experiences… sure, I might have saved a couple hundred dollars, but… I would have rather had the “extras”. I found the majority staff to be apathetic and un-attentive with notable exceptions. Just stepping in to help … maybe organize a line… offer to bring a plate of food that maybe was missing from the buffet line to a passenger rather than that passenger sitting and waiting. Previous reports of smells… I didn’t smell anything bad.

I would never sail on Carnival Dream again.

Would I sail Carnival again? Maybe… I just feel that I’d rather pay a little extra and not feel like something was missing…

Did we have fun… Absolutely. I didn’t expect “perfect” or “relaxing” … simply because of the time of year we sailed. But, I did expect more.

John Says:
Hello David Templeman

There are some who think that I never post somewhat critical reviews on the blog but as you can see they are wrong because posts like this are extremely important. It is also important that I start by saying thank you for taking the time to write and by saying how disappointed I was to read your thoughts. You see, most of the reviews I have seen about the Carnival Dream have been glowing with praise. The ship board staff have worked very hard to correct some minor design difficulties and from what I have read they have succeeded. So imagine my sadness when I read that you thought the crew were not friendly. Yes, the lasers didn’t work and the Mardi Gras party was a massive letdown for you and the other things you mentioned can all be fixed……and will be. But to hear that you perceived the ship’s crew to be rude is far more important and far more upsetting. I can promise you that I have already sent this not only to the ship’s senior management but also the three senior VP’s in charge of the areas you mentioned.

I was though glad to see that the food and service and cabin service all received “A” marks and that overall you had a good time. I do hope you will come back to us again and when you and the family sit around the table to decide where your valuable vacation time will be spent that you will remember the good points and the value for money and that you will talk to me before you make a final choice. I would love to help you look for the perfect Carnival ship and itinerary for you and the family. Thanks again for writing and my best wishes to you and the family.


Pnjkeith Asked:
Hey John, Please Respond

Glad to hear the new comedy clubs will be smoking. Any chance cigars will be allowed?


John Says:
Hello Pnjkeith

Even though cigars and the comedy club image sort of go together all the Punchliner lounges will be non-smoking.

Best wishes

Jennifer Asked:
Hi John, Please reply

I hope that you are having a wonderful vacation so far.

My family and I will be on the Carnival Freedom very soon and are very excited about participating in the Behind the Fun tour. However, I am a little worried that everyone in my family will not be able to get a chance to go on this tour since 7 or 8 of us want to do it. Is there a possibility of even having more than two tours for each sailing if the first two become full?


John Says:
Hello Jennifer

Due to the length of the Behind the Fun tour we can only offer two per cruise on longer length voyages. Please don’t worry though as we are usually able to accommodate everyone but it is popular but please go straight to the shore excursion desk on deck 3 when you board so that you reserve your spot for this popular and very informative tour.

I wish you and the family a wonderful cruise

Best wishes

Letiziaam Asked:
John Please Reply

Hello John I enjoy reading your blog. Lots of valuable info, and many funny stories. However I have never written a comment. I hope to someday be on a ship that you’re on, I would love to meet you. I am a Platinum cruiser with Carnival 1st cruise I took with Carnival was on the Festivale it was a much smaller ship but one of my most memorable vacations. I am surprising my husband for his birthday in September and taking him on a 4 day cruise on the Carnival Destiny. He has had a tough few months, He has lost vision on one of his eyes and lost his job and I want to surprise him and maybe have him forget for a few days and have a good time. I would like to ask you a favor if possible, do you think you can maybe sent him a little gift (ship on a stick or anything else). He will be very surprised that Carnival did that for his Birthday. I would really appreciate that. Thank you again.

John Says:
Hello Letizaam

Goodness me how things have changed since the Festivale. I never got to work on her but everyone who has tells me that she was incomparable. I will certainly send him something to cheer him up after the tough few months he has had. I know he will have a brilliant time and with your love and support that he will get through the tough times.

I wish you both a wonderful cruise.


Ryan Asked:

We are thinking of planning an Alaska cruise for next summer. I have my eye on the Carnival Spirit. We have a budget to work on though, and we don’t think we can afford a balcony cabin, even though we would really want to have one to see the sights through. If we end up with just an inside cabin, can we still see the sights up on deck? Or is it always crowded?

Also, any tips for cold-weather cruising? I’ve never cruised anywhere that wasn’t at least 80° before. Have you ever CD’ed on an Alaska cruise?

Have a great week off!

Thanks in advance,

John Says:
Hello Ryan

This is a great question and I can certainly answer some of it. However, I have never sailed in Alaska and my tips for cold weather cruising are limited. I just e-mailed the CD on the Carnival Spirit Stuart Dunn who told me that there is certainly plenty of space on the vast open deck space to see everything that glorious Alaska has to offer.

Certainly, being on a budget is understandable and my advice would be to budget as much as you can on the superb excursions that the ports have to offer. Now, this is where I call upon the many bloggers who have sailed to Alaska and who I kindly ask to post any tips that they feel will make your cruise even more enjoyable. So blogger friends……over to you.

I know you will have a wonderful time

Best wishes

Maurie Morgan Asked:
John (Please reply)

I hope you are enjoying your vacation and I realize that it may be 2 or 3 weeks until I see a reply. I have been reading and watching your replies on your bloggy thingy and I haven’t seen the formal nights for my Carnival Miracle. I definitely want to take advantage of the steak house, but don’t want to do it on the formal nights or the night that lobster is offered in the dining room. How picky is that? We don’t sail until Feb 23, so there is really no hurry, except it makes me feel closer to the time that my Carnival Miracle will be sailing away from the port in Fort Lauderdale.

It will be a special cruise for me as I will be celebrating my 50th birthday, any excuse for a cruise and a celebration. Would love to know who the cruise director will be. I have cruised twice with you as the director. Hope you enjoy your days off with your family. Even the arguing!!

John Says:
Hello Maurie Morgan

I am glad you have been enjoying the blog thingy. Let’s have a look at the elegant nights for your February 23 on the Carnival Miracle.

Wednesday, Feb 23 Ft Lauderdale, FL 4:00pm

Thursday, Feb 24 Fun Day At Sea – ELEGANT

Friday, Feb 25 Grand Turk 7:00am 3:00pm

Saturday, Feb 26 Dominican Republic 9:00am 5:00pm

Sunday, Feb 27 Aruba 12:00pm 10:00pm

Monday, Feb 28 Curacao 8:00am 4:00pm

Tuesday, Mar 01 Fun Day At Sea – ELEGANT

Wednesday, Mar 02 Fun Day At Sea

Thursday, Mar 03 Ft Lauderdale, FL 8:00am

I love this itinerary and how wonderful it is to see the word Aruba there once again. I hope you keep reading and enjoying the blog thingy and why not send me a reminder before you cruise so I can send you a birthday something.

Best wishes

That’s all for today and there will be another 10 questions answered tomorrow. Let’s see what the guests are having for dinner tonight

8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Smoked Duck and Caramelized Oranges
Sliced Beef Tenderloin & Noodle Salad
Fried Mozzarella with Mixed greens
Yukon Gold Potato Cream Soup
Tom Ka Gai
Chilled Cream of Peaches
Wilted Spinach & Portobello Mushrooms with Fresh Bacon Bits
Caesar Salad
Farfalle with Roast Turkey Breast & Green Peas
Assorted Seafood Newburg Style
Grilled Marinated Center Cut Pork Chop
Rack of New Zealand Spring Lamb
Beef Stroganoff
Black Bean & Vegetable Enchiladas
Black Tiger Shrimps
Fresh Fruit Cocktail
Broiled Fillet of Snapper
Grilled Breast of Corn Fed Chicken
Grilled Flat Iron Steak
Baked Idaho Potatoes, French fries or Steamed White Rice
Assorted Steamed Vegetables
Fresh Fruit Cocktail
Wilted Spinach & Portobello Mushrooms
Grilled Filet of Fresh Norwegian Salmon
Dinner Dessert Menu
Diet Coconut Cake – Spa
Bitter & Blanc
Fresh Fruit Plate
Warm Chocolate Melting Cake

The pork chop is sensational but my favourite dish is the Sliced Beef Tenderloin & Noodle Salad. What would you have?

One of the joys of being here on the Carnival Splendor was meeting up again with one of my favourite people………….here he is………………………Miguel…………the senior maitre d.

  1. Where are you from? I was born in South Africa of Portuguese/Irish lineage ……… yes, I know, I am just as confused!?!?! I presently live in Madeira, where my paternal family originates from.
  2. Please tell us about your journey so far at Carnival Cruise Lines. What were your first jobs and how did you end up as a Senior Maitre D for Carnival? Well, too many jobs to mention before joining Carnival on January 19, 2000 on the wonderful Holiday in San Pedro, California. I remember my first day and walking around the terminal at the crew entrance and seeing this HUGE ship….and now in comparison to the Carnival Splendor, the Holiday is sooooo tiny, but will always have a special place in my heart. I started as a headwaiter and progressed from there to where I am today….and I credit all the crew and managers I worked with along the way to making me who I am today. I will always be indebted to them.
  3. Your family must be very proud of you. Do you have a big family at home? I am one of 3 boys, and both my brothers, who are both successful businessmen, live in South Africa with their wonderful families I also have 2 nieces and 2 nephews…who I love spoiling rotten when I am home. I love my family soooooo much and miss them tremendously when I am onboard.
  4. How many crew are in your department and how many different countries do they come from? We have the largest department onboard with 268 crew from 28 different nationalities in the Restaurant Department…with the biggest groups of crew hailing from Indonesia and Philippines. The next largest department is housekeeping with 221 crew.
  5. The reservation system is a mystery to most of us. So, as simply as you can, please tell us how you decide who sits with who and at what table. All guests specify what time they would like to dine when booking the cruise. Should their requested time still be available, they are then confirmed to their requested time. Should the guests not receive their preferred time, then they are given the alternate option or are waitlisted for their requested time. When seating the guests we always seat the guests according to their “category,” e.g. travelling together, groups, families, couples, singles, etc. to assist us in seating them correctly. We then seat couples of the same age bracket together, families with other families, singles with singles, etc. This way the guests have something in common when seated with other guests. It sounds more difficult than it really is ….more like a huge puzzle and I then have to try get the right piece to fit in at the right table.
  6. What do you think the most important qualities that make the best maitre d’s? Personality, charisma and plenty of patience
  7. What have been some of the most unusual requests/complaints you have received? Too many to mention, but the most unusual one was to be a Best Man for a couple that got married on the ship, as they wanted a ship officer in his white uniform………and still to this day do not know who they are, because I never saw them for the rest of the cruise (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, ………say no more!!)
  8. What is your favourite appetizer, main course and desert from our dinner menus? Appetizer: Antipasti on the Lunch Menu in the restaurant, Main Course is Prime Rib and Dessert…..The warm Melting Chocolate Cake WITH a fruit platter on the side. I then dip the fruit in the warm melting chocolate and have my own little chocolate Fondue …….Sinful, but Heavenly!
  9. You are very funny on the microphone and your ability to entertain the guests at dinner is superb. What is your favourite dinner time joke and your favourite song/dance that the waiters do? I don’t really know jokes……well, maybe only for 5 minutes, then I forget them. I love to join the crew dancing and you will DEFINITELY find me dancing on the side stands along with the best of them…and my favourite (spelt correctly) dance is “Shake, Shake, Shake” and the reason why is because I only shake once and the rest just keeps shaking on its own…….like a giant jellyfish!!
  10. And to get to know you better, please fill in the blanks:Your favourite Caribbean port……….Nassau …(because no matter how many times you go there, you will ALWAYS find something new to do) and Half Moon Cay for it’s unspoilt beauty.Your favourite non Caribbean port……FUNCHAL, MADEIRA…..the Pearl of the Atlantic … and HOME!Your favourite wine on our menu……Bin # 275 — Barons De Rothschild Lafitte, Reserve Speciale, Bordeaux. ……..and only $29.00!!!Your favourite restaurant on land and what do you like to eat there……It is on the island of Madeira……a very small restaurant on the cliff overlooking the beach of Calheta with the most amazing views and food. It is called Convente das Freiras da Vinha………as it is in an old converted convent. My favourite (spelt correctly) meals there are the most amazing fish soup (sopa de Peixe) and the grilled Sardines (Sardinhas Assadas), served with an ice cold Sagres beer–which is made in Madeira……!! PERFECTION!And if you were serving a table on the Carnival Splendor who would you choose to sit there?
    • One famous actor……Sean Connery, who I have had the honour of meeting and serving …. THE BEST 007 EVER!!!!
    • One famous actress……Sandra Bullock…..she has the cheekiest smile, a naughty glint in the eye……and is very funny
    • Somebody from the cruise industry…..Mr. Ken Byrne……… mentor.…and he can serenade us at dinner.
    • Somebody to make you laugh…..Comedians Russell Peters and Al Ernst …….OH BOY!! Imagine an Indian and Southern Redneck conversation……and the difference in accents!!! (**,)
    • Your favourite Captain…..ALL the Captains I have sailed under have and are brilliant men, but I must admit to being a little more biased towards Captain Marco Nogara as my all-time favourite (spelt correctly..)
    • One person from history you wish you could meet………Mr. Nelson Mandela……..a true gentleman and icon.
    • ……AND……..we would all be served by John Heald ……….TOTAL CHAOS!

I have read many, many times here on the blog thingy just how much Miguel is adored and why so many ask me to be seated in his dining room. It was also wonderful to see that he refers to his mentor as Ken Byrne, because I see so many similarities in their levels of hospitality and there absolute commitment to making sure that the guests have the very best of times in their dining room. If you are cruising on the Carnival Splendor then try and make sure you meet Miguel…. he is absolutely brilliant.

On Tuesday we had the past guest party and out of the 1,400 past guests I would say that a total of 800 or so showed up between the two parties which we hold at 4 pm and 5 pm. The rest are probably children, it’s amazing how many children you see with Platinum cards. Anyway, I made some changes to the entertainment during the parties and had our beautiful and so very talented Production Singer Adrianne Hall entertain the guests along with the superb Jimmy Boore Big Band. They finished with a beautiful ballad called “I hope you dance”….and as you will see here………….they did.

Still, we have some work to do with this past guest party and we must make a new video. The one I made that the ships show now and that you have all seen is a bit old……we even still have a computer generated video of your Carnival Dream. So, I have asked the beards to see if they can look at making a new one, adding your Carnival Magic and the Carnival Breeze. The loyalty program is so very important to us and to you of course which is why it continues to be a subject of great importance and a special group of people at Carnival continue to look at ways we can make it even better. I promise to let you know how they intend to do this as soon as I can.

So last night (Wednesday) I was woken around 2:30 am by a very loud noise. It took a few moments for me to register what it was because I had been dreaming about a huge plate of Tony Roma’s ribs served by a Latvian wearing very tight shorts and long black socks……..I know …….. I need help. Anyway, at first I thought it was my arse…….I had a vegetarian curry for dinner ……. but then realized that not even I could produce such a sound.

Then I realized…… was thunder. I new this because suddenly my cabin was lit up as though 2,000 paparazzi had seen Megan Fox’s bottom had a tattoo on it that read “This is for you John ” on it. Anyway, I have been at sea 23 years next week and I have never seen anything like this. The storm was over the ship for a good 40 minutes. There was no wind, just torrential horizontal rain and massive claps of thunder and outrageous bursts of lightning. You would have to drunk 29 shots of Tequila or be dead not to wake up from this storm.

In fact, it’s what all the guests are talking about today………and one more than others.

Guest: Ms ————Ref: 842020749B
Cabin: ———– Added-Changed: 08/12/10 – 08/12/10

Scared by storm

Gst came to the desk holding her life jacket very upset. Gst stated that she had heard the thunder and the storm outside and wanted the Captain to make an announcement that everything was good and the ship was not in danger. GSA advised that everything was OK and that we could not make an announcement as it was very early in the morning. It was 2:40am when gst came to desk. Gst stayed in lobby and spoke to GSA until storm stopped. Nothing further.

I read this when I woke this morning and recognized the cabin number straight away. Yep, it was the lady who had been scared of the coat hangers and the towel animals and if she was going to be on edge about these two things I knew that the storm must have upset her. So, I called her this morning and asked if she was OK. She had indeed been very scared and I calmed her saying that the ship was never in danger and that everything was OK. Changing the subject a bit I asked if with all her concerns if she was having a good time on the ship. Oh yes she said, I am having a great time, the staff are wonderful and last night I won $900 on the slot machine. I guess the noise of machines paying out $900 doesn’t make her nervous then. Anyway, it was a very big storm and fascinating to watch out of the window.

So the other day I was doing my Fun Ashore, Fun Aboard talk and mentioned that the film Predator had been filmed in P.V. Actually, that’s not what I said. What I actually said was that the movie Predator starring Arnold Schwarzenegger………and when I did…………….at least 20% of the 800-strong audience………booed……………I had no idea he was so unpopular.

I made an apology to the audience and then pretended to cough stating that I needed to go back stage and get a glass of water and as I did I said…….”I’ll be back”……..OK, it was a pathetic joke but it cleared the air.

I know bugger all about state politics in America. The only thing I remember about Governor Arnold was seeing him on the news a year or so ago terminating text books from schools saying that they were old fashioned or something like that. I also know that he once referred to opposition politicians as “girly men” which I have to admit I found very funny. But I guess rising unemployment and house prices that are falling quicker than the bad guys in some of his movies …………….Arnold is not exactly Mr. Popular.

So, what will he do when his political life is over and one of the “girly men” takes his place? Will he go back to being a movie star? Will he star in Predator 9? Surely not. Not even the Spielbergs of this world are clever enough to write a film where the universe’s most advanced hunters who look like Whoopi Goldberg have trouble outwitting a rich old bloke with a dodgy German accent.

If they do re-make the movie and Arnold stars in it, I think the plot will have to change a bit from the original. The Predator has given up hunting humans and skinning them alive. Instead it has become a door to door salesman selling nonexistent life insurance to the elderly… but he picked the wrong vulnerable old man in Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Then, rather than coat himself in mud as he did in the original movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger accidentally defeats the Predator’s heat vision by popping his colostomy bag, skidding about in his own urine until he’s covered in it and lying there for three days. He won’t be saying “I’ll be back” but instead will be shouting “Oh, my back”…….waiting for Bruce Willis or Sylvester Stallone to him help him up again.

One thing’s for sure………..I won’t be mentioning Arnie’s name again.

Hasta la vista…………baby.

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36 Responses to Health and Safety vs. The Predator

  1. Stacey W says:

    John (PLEASE REPLY),
    I wrote a month or two ago regarding the Carnival webcams (and didn’t see a reply yet) and also a few months prior to that (where you stated you thought the webcames were in working order, but in actuality, although there was a picture, it was from this fall and nothing recent- and you told me to contact you again if there were issues with them).

    I know a lot of the people from Cruise Critic, and I’m assuming others as well, enjoy viewing the webcams and it’s (in my opinion) a valuable marketing tool (“Look…see all these people having a fabulous time onboard?!”). I’m confused as to why they’re not, and haven’t been, working consistently for the past 9 months or so (the Freedom and Liberty…Freedom has a picture that has the date on it from last month, and the Liberty has the correct date but no picture, just a little red “X” at the top left corner of both forward and aft cams).

    I’m also curious as to why Carnival doesn’t have direct links to the ship’s webcams on the corresponding ship’s webpage (I’m looking at this website: OR a page on the website for all the webcams. ???


  2. hostmach says:

    Thunder and lightning and bears, oh my!! Poor woman. I suspect that she lives in a Cold War era fall out shelter somewhere in the mountains of California… how sad.

    The menu, as always, looks brilliant. I believe I’d join you in the tenderloin and noodles. Sounds perfect.

    We do need a new video for the Past Guest party. I remember when you announced the production of the current video on the blog! Has it been that long??? Amazing.

    Speaking of the Past Guest party… we need some more excitiment… I don’t have a clue what but we need something to get the blood flowing! I remember several years ago when Butch whipped the crowd into a virtual frenzy of cheers and whistles!!! I really miss that.

    BRING BACK THE NIGHTGOWN CONTEST!!! If I had to do it on the Fantasy then others need to suffer as well!!!

    As always, our best to your wonderful girls…


    Host Mach

    • divetrash says:

      Trust me Mach, you weren’t the only one that suffered that night. First row, your tap pants…’nuff said…



    • Big Ed says:

      Host Mach.

      NO NO! we don’t need to see you falling out of your teddy again.

      I hope no one tells her tomorrow is Friday the 13th. She will be at the desk all day asking for John to save her.

      BIG Ed

      • jetskier says:

        Now Ed, you know you liked me rubbing on your leg. LOL.
        For those who missed it go to and search for Male Nightgown Contest.

      • slickabrina says:

        Having met both of you gentleman, I know you are kind individuals with big hearts. Have you stopped to consider this individual could really have something wrong? It’s very easy to make light of these actions but it is obvious that she has some issues. Be thankful you are both healthy, aren’t afflicted with any of her issues and perhaps be a little more understanding?

        Happy sailing…

    • Snoozeman says:


      Not so sure I want to see that………………

    • Janey - (OKGIRL) says:

      I think is was actually Dave falling out of his teddy, but Mach was stunning in leopard print tap pants!!!!!

  3. Stefani says:

    Your blog always brings a great laugh… thanks.

    Hey anyone out there that has posted a request … how long does your comment say “Your comment is awaiting moderation” ?


  4. Janet Sammons says:

    Hi John!! I hope you are are enjoying the west coast!!
    I have a few tips on cold weather cruising.
    1. Dress in layers, the weather can change quickly
    2. Make sure you have a warm coat, gloves and a hat. Especially if you are viewing glacier bay. It gets cold but man, it is so worth it!!
    3. Don’t forget the sunscreen. Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you won’t burn.

    I hope this helps your blogger with their cruise to Alaska!

  5. Cherie Perron says:

    I like the video at the past guest party… Well most of it anyway. My favorite part is the end when everyone says welcome home

  6. ann mccleskey says:

    dear john
    very glad to hear that your wife and daughter will be on the carnival magic. little kye will be such a big girl by then. looking forward to meeting you all.
    ann from texas

  7. Susan says:

    John, you need to stop posting the menus, I’m having food envy. I just ate my dinner which consisted of an over cooked chicken and undercooked potatoes. So instead of eating spinach and portebello mushrooms, followed by seafood, Newburg style, topped off with my absolute favorite dessert ever, Bitter and Blanc, I ate something not quite as tasty. And now I’m jealous of all those lucky people.

    Actually, you can post the menu as long as you can provide me with my very own Carnival chef cooking those same dishes in my kitchen. And then we’ll be even.

  8. Dave says:

    Chilled cream of peaches and turkey for me!

    I feel bad for the lady who’s afraid of everything. I’m glad she won in the casino, and it’s good to hear you’re checking on her and she’s enjoying herself otherwise


  9. Glen says:

    Ahh . . . . the pillow fights. The first time I saw that slippery pole was on the Celebration in 1988. There it was . . . . tucked away in a corner on the Lido deck. My immediate thought was “gymnastics? No way am I here for that”. Things have changed quite a bit since then. However. . . . . you could bring back the beer drinking contest. Just a thought!

  10. GlendaleCruiser says:

    Yes, please update the video for the Past Guest Party. I’ll be on the Magic and I am having a great time watching her being built. Thank you for thinking of that. Cannot wait to meet you and Heidi and Kye. So glad to hear that they can join you.

  11. Jeanette says:

    John do me a favour!

    Do say Hi to Miguel for me. I dunno if he’ll remember me, but I spent seven days aboard the Splendor last September celebrating my 40th birthday! He arranged for a table with singles and unfortuantely I had to fend off more than a few unwanted offers from one of the single men (sweet but creepy) at the table until he was medicaved off the ship in Mazatlan (I was relieved!) the day before my brithday . Miguel is awesome, he was the maitre’d on the Liberty for Sept 09 (along with Alex *sigh* ) and then again again a year later on the Splendor.

    I’ll be on the Liberty for my birthday tis year (back to Half Moon Cay and Grand Turk) and due to what you noted on Friday’s blog (Aug 6) I guess I won’t be having as much (clean) fun as I could have….oh well, sometimes the hot n handsome ones go young while they still have their good looks, alas, it would have been nice to know his age, cuz I never did find out……

    Ps my fave Captain is Capt Cutugno. He can be chatty, but a very sweet and happy man who loves what he does!!!!

    I look forward to meeting you on the bloggers cruise in February!

  12. Ballardite says:

    Alaska Advice:

    Janet’s 3 points are good (dress in layers, bring warm clothes for glacier bay, and bring sunscreen).

    After my 4th cruise to Alaska, I’d add:
    Binoculars (for the wildlife & glaciers),
    telephoto lens (if you have it–no need to spend $$ on that),
    a change of clothes for 80-90 degree weather just in case embarkation port is warm or for a heat wave in Juneau (75 degrees!)
    bug repellant (there’s a reason why the mosquito is Alaska’s unofficial state bird) even though it is unlikely they carry malaria.
    Rain jacket- I know some fashion snobs ridicule parkas and say umbrellas are better—but when you’re juggling your camera, bag, and umbrellas, you know instantly why the natives of Alaska and Seattle wear jackets and ignore/give-a-one-fingered-salute-to the fashionistas.
    If you care about frizz-free hair, bring every anti-frizz tool in your arsenal, or just give in…it’s not the humidity, it is the mist of rain.
    Learn the difference between light mist, showers, rain, and heavy rain in the forecast- and be prepared for different weather…. Locals dress accordingly….

  13. Krhpee says:

    John you can reply if you want but enjoy at least.
    I have a picture of my husband– the one who had the heart attack on the way t the Triumph last March–in a nightgown in the old contest. As a matter of fact— he won. CD told him he looked like a bouncer in a whore house, His son– who was 11 at the time- now he is 35– is also dressed in a nightgown. We were not married then but I still love the pictures. So sorry we can’t do them now.
    We are going tomorrow to book our make up cruise. Planning on January 2011 out of Ft, Lauderdale on a Back to Back Cant wait. Didn;t get to cruise in 2010 First year no cruise in 14 years. Love ya and your blog. Hope to be on board with you some day.

  14. Krhpee says:

    John — sorry I forgot, I love Miguel. He is the bomb!!!!!

  15. Kim G says:

    I just need to say this: I’m so glad to see Russel Peters on the Maitre D’ Miguel’s list..! he is such an amazing person, and awesome comedian. I’ve had the pleasure of having met him several times early in his career, back when he was still doing shows at colleges (we booked him a few times for our students when we were on council!) and at the yuk yuks here in his home province of Ontario.

    I vote for him to make a few appearances on Carnival! ..I bet THAT’D get my husband trying harder to book another crusie! 😉

  16. Bruce says:

    The pillow fight is one of my best memories from my honeymoon trip 20 years ago. I loved it, me and the new wife beating the crap out of each other and NO ONE GOT HURT. It was great. I’ll be on the Splendor on Dec the 19th, I’m sorry I’ll misss you.

    Bruce the flyer

  17. Sally Hardeman says:

    Hi John–

    Love your blogs-they are great. Will be sailing with you on October 17, 2010 on the Carnival Splendor. This is my 2nd cruise with Carnival, first being on the Pride the year it first sailed-wonderful ship and vacation. I will be traveling with my friend Ann and are booked in Cabin 1058 on the Panorama deck. Currently we are on the waitlist for early seating-would it be possible to get a table with maybe 4 others by a window-would really appreciate it. Looking forward to meeting you and also a great cruise!!

  18. pj says:

    Poor Miss Fraidy Pants, it could have been worse though if she had booked a spa treatment (in the brig.)

  19. Lynda Ulrich says:


    We need to be mindful that some people have fears that they can’t control. I have a grandson with adhd, asbergers and a few other mental disabilities. He is afraid of all rain storms. He is sure a tornado will hit him if there is any rain with wind, thunder and lighting. No matter how much we try to reason with him, we can’t change his fears. Carinval has been great with him. He’s been on 5 cruises with Carnival and once there was a meltdown and he locked himself in his cabin. It was handled very well.
    I, too, laughed when reading the blog about her. It is funny sometimes to people who don’t have fears. And you handled it very well, as you always do.
    Keep up the good work.

    See you in September.


  20. Janey - (OKGIRL) says:

    John, (please reply)

    So much to smile about in today’s blog. My 1st two cruises were on the Festivale in 83 and 84, sadly I don’t get credit for one of them as my embarkation photo was lost in a fire 🙁 But you are right she was incomparable. And the Italian officers in their speedo’s lounging by the pool made this country girl drool.

    I am thrilled to hear that you and the girls will be on our Carnival Magic for her TA crossing. This will be a 1st for sister and I and I can’t wait for those 6 days at sea. We booked as soon as the schedule came out.

    Since Galveston is my homeport I’m thrilled to be sailing our new ship back home. I am disappointed though that the ship is going to overnight in Galveston and then sail on Monday for a special 6 day cruise.

    I wanted to B2B with the 1st cruise out of Galveston. Any chance that we can overnight on the ship and/or be part of the festivities that will be taking place in Galveston on Sunday?

    Anyway, my menu selections would be Wilted Spinach & Mushroom salad, potato soup, Lamb and Bitter & Blanc.

    Happy cruising, we’re 43 days out from our Conquest Crazies Cruise!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Bill Heck says:

    Hello John:

    Please Reply

    The planets are in alignment and we will take a family cruise on Carnival Conquest, Western Caribbean. We have a grandson that will be 15 months old and is coming along. There will be eight of us. Four cabins.

    The Carnival website advises that babysitting is available from 10 PM until 3 AM. Hmmmmm.

    I am wondering if there are any arrangements that can be made for babysitting during the evening dining?

    I plan to have one night at the Steakhouse with the gang and don’t know how a 15 month old will fit in. He is on the verge of speaking American English and has a great set of lungs. He and his pit bull wrestle for a talking ball he has.

    It is a lot of fun to review the day and plan the evening over the evening meal and everyone needs be included. But, apparently one person has to stay with the infant and miss the party. Maybe we can rotate.

    Your Friend

    Bill Heck

    PS. I still use the mouse pad with the two fat bastards and the good looking woman on it.

  22. David Templeman says:

    Hi John, (Reply if you like)

    I just wanted to follow up on your response.

    First, I have to say that I really wish that I would have had the chance to sail with you as our Cruise Director. It seems that you have a particular brand of humor (spelled correctly) that I would enjoy. I’ve been reading your blog now for a while and I find it both informative and funny.

    I have to be fair in my review of “your” Carnival Dream and say that there were some real innovations that I found refreshing. First, the ability to view your pictures at those picture viewing kiosks (forgive me if there is a better naming convention for them). As a tech nerd, I think that it is a really cool idea that is long past due. Now… your placement of said kiosks needs some work. Why on earth you put them at the end of each picture display? People gather around them to see their pictures…. and where are they gathering???? that’s right, in the walkway around “The Dream” (or atrium… whatever you want to call it…). I think you could expand on that idea and maybe add the photo link to say an “intranet”… viewable from your cabin or something like that. It does raise some question about “theft”, but a good programmer would be able to write a nice interface to prevent that.

    The Pasta bar was to die for. My wife is 100% Brooklyn Italian… and even she was extremely impressed with the food that came out of there (she’s a bit of a “sauce” snob).

    The following is one of the “Little things” that I was referring to in my original trip report. One suggestion I would make, and I think it would add a lot to the “friendliness factor”. Upon our return to any other ship we’ve been on, when you walk aboard there was a bunch of smiling faces waiting inside that gangway with a quick “Welcome back, how was your day?” . Even when you are dripping with sweat, sand in your shorts… etc. that really sets a tone for the rest of your day. Not ONCE did we hear a “welcome back” from the security, or any other staff upon return (that is until we saw Sparky our star cabin stewardess). It’s just an observation that me, and all my friends made.

    Thank you very much for you offer to help us choose another cruise. This is why I keep coming back to your blog…. you’re a nice guy.

    I’m researching another cruise for the 2012 summer season. Our friends and I agree that we all want to sail from NYC this time around… so we’ve been watching and waiting for the 2012 itineraries to be announced for the various lines that sail from NY… I really like the looks of the itinerary that the Caribbean Princess is doing (I know… it’s not a “Carnival ship”… but is still “Carnival”… right?)

    Sending our best to you and your family,


    David Templeman

  23. Judy says:

    we took the cruise on Carnival Spirit and had a GREAT time! We did do the balcony and it was worth it! We went in late august towards end of season(cheaper) but alittle chilly-sweatshirt is needed. We drank Hot Chocolate on the balcony and watch the icebergs go by. We also went up on deck-not crowed-and had our picture taken by a guest just as a WHOLE wall of ice fell!!! Was soo cool! Had that in back of pic! The ports were great! We had rain in Ketacan(sp) but ponchos and umbrellas do the trick and we walked on. Saw a stream soo full of salmon you could reach in and have your fill. Went “goldmining” and realllly enjoyed Sitka-russian town-people never left after the US took it over and was very interesting. We took the McKinley train out of anchorage and stopped in Denali Park overnite. I went horseback riding into the park!! My husband went white river rafting and saw many different aminals on shore. We rode train on up to Fairbanks which was alittle disappointing as we arrived at 8pm and everything was closed cept for acouple eating places. we flew next day back to Anchorage to come home. Would I do it again-YES! we left out of Seattle-passport is needed because of Vancover.
    The Spirit ship is smaller which we enjoy-not so many people to trip over-and it does as well a job as Princess etc others.
    Hope that helped!

    JOHN!!! You really need to do new scripts! Pick a new nursury rytheme or something. Different names to call people. In todays world its a sad shame that everyone wants to SUE people! Lawyers make a mint and live well. No un-employment for them. It someone gets hit with a pillow-they will certainly yell whip lash!! and if someone just falls down(drunk!) theres another law suit! The company is protecting itself from these idiots but at same time taking all our fun away.
    SUGGESTION: How about a big dance party???Just a come as you are(done at different times) and limbo? or something no one can get hurt? I’d like to see dancers showing us how to do the steps-salsa,chacha etc and have a dance! For those physically challenged-how about a eating off your belly contest!? They have to eat food off the big bellys without hands!! while reclining in a lounge chair!!! Or a trivia contest of movies on the big screen-guess what movie it is. How about a BEACH party??? Move the lounge chairs out of way and bring out the towels! Beach balls etc-get the band going.
    Just some thoughts!!! Enjoy!!!

  24. Florence says:

    For Ryan. Definitely go to Alaska. It is the most beautiful place. Hubby and I have sailed on Carnival Spirit in Alaska twice. GO FOR IT!!!

  25. Dana T says:

    My husband and I, along with another couple, sailed on the Splendor last November and were fortunate enough to be seated in Miguel’s dining room. On our first night, there was a mix-up with our table as some YTD folks were seated there; Miguel fixed things up right quick as if we were the most important guests in the room, but I’m sure with finesse toward the other folks. We loved the shows with all the wait staff because the wait staff was wonderful, but also because Miguel participated right along with them–I’ll never forget him standing on a table wearing his blinking light sunglasses. I got photos, but they are just too blurry to share.

    When it came time to distribute our tip envelopes, we somehow missed Miguel on our last night. But it was important enough that I searched high and low for him the next day, but to no avail because, well, because I’m sure everyone is very busy on debarkation day. Eventually I found the friendly crew member who had hosted the music trivia contest and she said she would make sure he got his tip envelope. It just was that important that he know how much we appreciated him.

    At this time, we are anxiously awaiting my husband’s 4th and my 5th cruise on the Spirit, again in November. I know we’ll have a great time (although we won’t have John as our CD, nor Miguel as our maitre d’) because we always have a great time on our cruises!!!

  26. Vivienne says:

    Dear John,
    ( Please Reply )

    I asked a question about 3 days ago, and even included (Please reply), but somehow it finished up in the Comment section. So I will try again.

    Will the beards consider reinstating the “Guarantee Share” programme? I did use it, and loved it.
    Princess Cruises provides “roommate matching” upon request, which led me to ask this. I have sailed with Princess, but as you know, I am a Carnival person.

    Stay the way you are;

  27. Karen(formerly Techmom) says:


    Haven’t had time to read the blog or comment in a while. The company I worked for was sold and as the CFO the last two months were a little stressful. Now I have all kinds of time on my hands! A little scary not having a job but what have I done-I booked on the Carnival Legend for August 28th with a friend. I needed a break and could not wait until our Carnival Miracle cruise in December.

    My question to you or anyone-what is the Chefs Table? I wouldn’t want to do it on the Carnival Legend because my friend is pretty picky about her food but may like to do it on the Carnival Miracle cruise.

    I believe I saw on the CD list that Ralph is on my upcoming cruise. Had him on the Carnival Conquest when my son worked for Carnival so will see if he is still doing the same things.


  28. Ron Pope says:

    John :
    So happy to get confirmation that YOU are indeed going to be the CD on the MAGIC – T/A…….. We are so looking forward to seeing you there, as we sailed on the Liberty with you out of Rome… and truly love you…
    The Pope’s from Plano, TX
    ( Guy from the QV )

  29. Roger Tollerud says:

    My wife and I are sailing to Alaska again next week on the C. Spirit. She is our favorite ship in the fleet. If you are on a budget Alaska is a great place to go because the scenery is so beautiful and you can watch from the deck FOR FREE!!!! If you save up for a shore excursion I would recommend the White Pass and Yukon Railway train trip in Skagway. It is a little pricey but it is about 4 hours of absolutely beautiful mountains, rivers and meadows!
    Roger T

  30. Suzanne says:

    John, no you are not a megasorearse! Too bad we don’t have enough water around Canada for you to sail in…because we have a major pillow fight in the city of Toronto every year..

    That was last year…it’s tons of fun.. really no more belly flop competitions…

    Keep trying to bring back some of the lighthearted fun..we’ll all sign wavers before we take off our swim suits…

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