The One That Got Away

September 2, 2010 -

John Heald

On yesterday’s blog a chap asked me how much I got paid. Obviously I didn’t answer him but I can tell him and you that my salary is paid straight into my bank account back home. This means that I have very little cash on me at most times because I have no friends and don’t go off the ship hardly at all. I tip my stateroom steward plus there are tips for the waiter that brings my meals to the cabin and a big tip for Mr. Patu who washes my underpants. But apart from that I have no need for cash.

Bearing this in mind let me tell you that as I sit here in mostly a clean pair of underpants and type these words I do so pissed off………….totally and utterly pissed off.

This is but because I neglected to tell Barclays sodding Bank that I was going to want to use my debit card in a Mexican Wal-Mart and it has punished me by putting a security block on my card. It’s like being a child again. I went out to play without asking permission and subsequently I’ve been grounded. Sorry Mum. Sorry Dad.

I was trying to buy Kye some toys but because of Barclays bank all she will have to play with is one of my old socks and a14kt gold solid plastic ship on a stick.

It’s hard enough shopping at a Mexican Wal-Mart as it is. Obviously they speak little English although saying that they speak more English than the people who work at the Wal-Mart near Carnival HQ in Miami. So you already have the language barrier so imagine how bloody embarrassing it is when a shop assistant hands your card back, smiles weakly and says “no possibla.”

I said “uno mas tryo por favor” and she reluctantly did so while a line built up behind me.

My card was rejected again, this time in front of an impatient crowd one of whom was armed with a nasty looking chorizo sausage. I tried to save some of my dignity by saying something about “calling my bank to bollock them” and as I said this I whipped out my Raspberry as if to call Barclays Bank. I don’t think any of them bought this though and just thought “el fato gringo is brokeo.”

Now if I had been organized I could have called Barclays there and then but I didn’t have the number in my raspberry and I doubted that dialing 192 in P.V was going to get me the number for Barclays Bank Southend on Sea. Back on the ship I’m told by my local bank whose call center as I have mentioned before is in Bombay tell me  I won’t be able to withdraw any money until tomorrow, because it’s night-time in England and the Barclays security team have all buggered off home. Still, it’s thoughtful of them to employ someone to sit at the end of the phone 24 hours a day just to tell me I am totally screwed.

Since I have only $14 on me I know that by the time that Barclays unblock my card we will have sailed from PV and that even though I will be able to get cash out of the ATM machine on the ship, Mazatlan and Cabo don’t have a Wal-Mart and the only thing I will be able to buy Kye is a pair of maracas, a over sized sombrero and a bottle of tequila. Still, at least she can play with the worm.

By now I’m out of my mind with despair, so I call the bank again simply to vent some frustration, and end up being horrible to the man on the other end, who’s only doing his job. This makes me feel so low that I call back a few minutes later to try to apologize, but get put through to someone else, and they just think I’m weird.

Now it’s the next morning and I’m still waiting to discover if the bank’s going to let get some money out. I’ve learned my lesson, OK? It’s protecting my money by stopping me getting my hands on it, just in case I’m not me. And right now I’m not me. The real me would be out buying toys for my daughter to play with but I am still locked out of the ATM. Heidi is going to be mad at me for sure. But what worries me more though is today is the day I am supposed to tip Mr. Patu the laundry manager and last week I had a really spicy curry…….he will be expecting a big tip for washing the underpants I was wearing that night.

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

Long Tall Sally Asked:
Reply and respond

John. Carnival has made some stupid decisions in the past but to get rid of the hamburger is the most stupid to date. Carnival and you should read what the influential Cruise Critic members are saying and then see just how crazy this idea is. How much money do you think you will save to the amount of money you will lose when people stop cruising!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John Says:
Hello Long Tall Sally.

I moved your question to the top of today’s pile because you have won a prize. That’s because this is the last and final time I will answer anymore hamburger questions. Let then for the last time apologize for any anger I have caused by joking that the company will be discontinuing hamburgers. We are not, I promise and I want to apologize to all my friends on Cruise Critic who have taken my silly humour the wrong way. I will though not allow the hamburger to become the new power strip and any other question on this topic will receive the “delete” treatment. Host Mach ……..I know I opened a huge can of worms here so I wonder if you could please post my apology to the good people who write on the boards.

Sally, you have won a triple pounder Mclidoburger with free fries and a solid gold plastic trophy for being the last ever person to get their hamburger question answered.

Best wishes

Zacattack Asked:
Dear John, Please Reply.

It’s your teenage friend again, the one who wrote about the Snob of the Seas having some decent hardware, but could never even think about the “Royals” treating me like Carnival treats me. I can never get over the service, the laughs, and the pure fun on a Carnival ship! I look forward to your blog each and every day as it just slaps a smile on my face and gives me something to look forward to after a long summers day of work on the farm… I mean… McDonalds. I appreciate all the effort you put into the blog!

Anywho, saw today that you are posting little tidbits about crew members on board, and I have a somewhat specific request to make while you are onboard the Carnival Splendor. If it has already been done in a previous blog or it is too far out of the way, I completely understand! Please, don’t go crazy over my request. I was wondering if you could do an interview with the Information and Systems Manager person on board, AKA the guy who does everything with the computers. I thought you might know him/her (very well) since you admit you’re not as familiar with computers as you are a fork and knife. It might sound silly, but it is my dream job and I’d love to know anything about it! I’m a computer geek at heart, and I couldn’t imagine a better place to work then on the high seas on a Carnival Fun Ship!

I hope you continue to post more of these crew member profiles and various quirks amongst the Carnival Splendor and I also dream that one very glorious day, I will have the honor of sailing with -The- John Heald. It seems that one could compare such an event to one’s own birth, screaming and crying and… the rest of it.

Thanks so much for all you do, and the smiles you bring!

John Says:
Hello Zack

It is great to hear from you again. Have you joined me as a friend on Facebook yet? I would be very happy to post an interview with the chap who fixes the computers and operates all the hardware onboard. I will do this in the next few days so look out for that very soon. Zack, your posting was very well written and maybe you should start your own blog as you are a great writer. Thanks for all those kind words mate and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog thingy.

Best wishes to you and the family

Kevin Asked:
Dear John, Please Reply!!!!!!!

I experienced my first Carnival Cruise this past March on the Miracle and as a late teenager I am hooked. I loved listening to the show bands and jazz bands and as an aspiring professional trumpet player and I hope to work for Carnival as a trumpet player in the future. I particularly enjoyed the Ticket to Ride show. The musicians were absolutely phenomenal!!!! Now for my question. Is it possible to get a copy of the trumpet sheet music to Ticket to Ride or any of the other shows? I love reading your blog thingy every day. Dad is always wondering what Mom and I are laughing about.


John Says:
Hello Kevin

Look at that, two teenagers in a row writing on the blog, that is brilliant. I am so glad you had so much fun on the Carnival Miracle and that your experience has you hooked on fun Carnival style. I just wanted to make sure that you saw my earlier reply to your question (think it was in Tuesday’s blog) that due to the strict copyright laws I am not able to give you any of our show music. What I can give you is encouragement to keep playing and why not have a read all about the life of a show band musician and what it takes to work onboard on our entertainment web site. Here is the link thingy……

I wish you much success and if you have any other questions please let me know.

Best wishes

Judy Asked:

First I just turned 60 and last year went and got myself a Tattoo of a fairy on my shoulder no less! Husband Loved it!!! Must be an age thing! No dancing on chairs tho-YET.

I was just looking on Carnivals site to help my friend find a cruise for an anniversary. She wanted the one we went on but I can’t seem to locate it??? OR are you not going there anymore??? We went on the Liberty from Rome going to Italy, Spain,France and Croatia. All I seem to find are Spain and Italy and same but 1 day Croatia. Did they take that trip off schedule???

Having a hard time finding her a cruise!!! Only interested in Med Europe and has seen Italy and Greece-what do you recommend??

The lady afraid of her own shadow (hangers) should have stayed home! There’s lots of bells and whistles and noise on a ship-hope she stayed off the lido deck at midnight!!!! (Buffet and party)

John Says:
Hello Judy

Congratulations on your first tattoo and a belated happy 60th birthday to you. The cruise you are talking about is available next year on your Carnival Magic. We have 7, 9 and 12 day voyages with the only difference being that we are using Barcelona as a homeport and calling at Civitavecchia as a port of call which allows you to explore the imperial city of Rome. Here is the site where all will be explained I hope your friend comes and joins me and maybe you as well so I can see your newly tattooed shoulder. Thank you for taking the time to write and if you or your friend have any questions please let me know.

Best wishes

Maria & Juan Santana Asked:
John, please reply…

Hi, John! Guess what these cruise-addicted Miami Beach bloggers did yesterday! We booked a 1-wk. cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam sailing from Port Everglades on Nov. 28. Surprised? Surely not! After all, it’s your fault! Besides being the world’s best CD, you are also an excellent salesman! After reading all about your visit with Heidi & Kye to Holland America’s newest ship last month and now in recent days about Mr. & Mrs. Arison’s visit, we are hooked. Never mind the excellent ports-of-call (Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, Grand Cayman & Costa Maya), which we have visited before…. You sold us the ship! It will not be the 1st time for us on Holland America. Many years ago we sailed with our son Alexander (11 yrs. old at that time) and another couple from the Florida Keys on the Statendam from Miami on a 12-day Easter Sunrise Cruise of the Caribbean. It was an excellent cruise. As you know, the Statendam is still cruising. Well, we are looking forward to have lunch/dinner at the Neiuw Amsterdam’s Tamarind Restaurant which you highly recommend.

Warmest regards to you and Heidi & a big kiss to Kye.
The Santanas of Miami Beach

John Says:
Hello Maria and Juan

Oh my goodness how you are going to love the Nieuw Amsterdam. As you know I was just there and had three wonderful days enjoying the amazing service and one of the most friendly crews I have ever met. You must also try the Tamarind Pan Asian Grill and in particular the satay sampler……ohhh I could eat one of those right now. I know you both love cruising and we all enjoy reading your reviews when you return and I hope you will write all about your experiences this time as well. It makes me feel really good to know that my report on the ship tempted you to book. Have a brilliant time.

Best wishes to you both

Joan Erickson Asked:
Please Reply John:

I have heard about you for years and just recently began reading your blog – you are so funny!! Thanks for brightening up my day (s)!

A simple request, hopefully. My husband, two children, and two friends are on the Carnival Splendor on 10-10-10 ant are in cabin 8221 and 8223, early dining. We booked this cruise a while ago to celebrate my 50th birthday, and since then, our business has taken a turn for the worse and we are financially having difficulties. We looked everywhere for ways to save money and after much soul searching, decided to go on the cruise anyway, dammit. It might not be the responsible thing to do but while I am rotting away in debtor’s prison next year I will have those wonderful Splendor memories to keep me sane.

Since this might be our last cruise for a while, we would love a nice table for 6 by a window if possible, please. And if you stopped by to say hello to the Erickson party, that would be even more spectacular!! Our kids would talk about that for years to come!! Thanks so much for brightening the days for some people that lately don’t seem to have too many bright days…..

John Says:
Hello Joan Erickson

Welcome to the blog thingy Joan, you are most welcome. I am so very sorry that you have had some hard times recently and I promise I will do all I can to make you smile and maybe forget about those difficult days if just for a short while. Can you please write me a note with your kids’ names and cabin numbers when you board. Please leave this letter at the Guest Service Desk on deck 3 and I will make sure I do something special for the kids. Thank you for the kind words and I look forward to meeting you all soon.

Best wishes to you and the family

Corene Foust Asked:

I have recently become acquainted with your Blog Thingy. I have laughed so hard at some of the amusing things that happen to you onboard and some of the people you have to deal with.

I have a question for you. Can you tell me when the Valor will be have the Captain’s dinner? My husband and I will be sailing on the Valor October 17th to the Western Caribbean. We will be celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary and I thought that would be a nice addition to the cruise. But I saw your list of those ships that had the Captain’s dinner and the Valor was not listed. Do you know if the dinner will be coming to the Valor by that time?

Thank you so much for all you do to make cruises special for all of us.

John Says:
Hello Corene Foust

My main reason to write this blog is to help people and to try through my silly and sometimes ummm……slightly rude humour (spelt correctly) so it is great to see that you are enjoying it. Let’s have a look at your itinerary and I will mark down the elegant nights for you.

Now by captain’s dinner to you mean The Chef’s Table? If you do it is already under way on the Carnival Valor. If this is not what you mean and you were talking about the Steakhouse well I would suggest that Belize night would be the perfect evening to eat there and celebrate your anniversary in style. Please let me know if you need anything.

Best wishes

Cardassian Asked:
John, (Please reply)

There was a report of a crew member taken off the Splendor boat who was arrested for sexual charges but as usual your blog didn’t cover this. That’s why so many people don’t read it because you only tell us about how good Carnival is along with your childish jokes. Tell us know then and grow a pair.

John Says:
Hello Cardassian

I am as thick as two short planks of wood I know that…….but if you don’t read my blog how do you know what I write and what I don’t write?

Best wishes

Jamie Asked:
Dear John,

I am the leader of a small group cruise called Cigars and Tiki Bars leaving Tampa on Nov 7th.

This trip has been planned since Aug 09. First on the Pride, but switched to the Legend due to unforeseen dry dock. Much broo-ha and grumbling amongst the group about adding airfare but I got it smoothed out by pitching the better (IMHO) ports. Then the fracas about cigars and cigar smoking came along, with a name like Cigars and Tiki Bars it was a big concern among our cruisers. But I was able to put out that fire also. I was able to assure them that the Sports Bar allowed cigar smoking. That made them happy because, being from North of Pittsburgh, our beloved Steelers are playing that Monday night. Be on the lookout for a loud group of black and gold wearing fanatics!

Through all this I have remained the cheerleader. I mean isn’t that what a group leader is suppose to do? What I was wondering is(and I really hate to be so bold as to ask) could you send along something like hats, shirts, drink coupons, key rings, can coozies… anything to help me show these folks how great Carnival can be and help me ramp enthusiasm back up? Some of our folks are still stinging about the switch from driving to Baltimore and flying to Tampa. $50 pp onboard credit helps but compared to $200 flights, they feel falls short.

I have no doubt this will be a great cruise. My hubby and I have been on eight cruises, five with Carnival and find them to be the best product out there. I am trying to convince these other folks as well. We have 18 people total and 12 are totally new to Carnival.

Anything you can do would be so appreciated.

Thanks so much,
Jamie Dailey

John Says:
Hello Jamie

Well first of all let me thank you for being the cheerleader and keeping the spirits of your group up. I can confirm that cigar smoking on the Carnival Legend is allowed in the sports bar so that should please your group a lot. Please can you send me a reminder on October 1 and I will see if I can send you something to help you out. I know you will love the Carnival legend and my apologies for the change of ships but I promise you will all have a fantastic time.

Best wishes to you all and don’t forget to write.

Portland Mollie Asked:
Hi John, Please reply

What is the minimum age you can work on a Carnival ship. My daughter wants to be a dancer

Thanks in advance

John Says:
Hello Mollie

The minimum age is 18 and I would advise that you and your daughter have a look at which has information and audition dates for young men and women who want to dance in one of our fabulous shows. I wish her much success.

Best wishes to you both

That’s all for today and I thank you so much for all the comments.

One comment I received directly by e-mail today was very strange. It was from someone who threatened me with violence. Yep, it was one of those awful e-mails that states that if you don’t forward it on to at least 10 people you will get the bubonic plague..…and die. Today’s such threat came in the form of a beautiful waterfall and beneath it a poem about love for your fellow mankind and how we must all embrace our fellow man… then in small print at the bottom were some words telling me that if I didn’t forward this e-mail than I was a complete bastard with no more right to live on God’s green earth then something that feeds of elephant poo… who writes these things?

OK, here are a couple of reminders. First of all the Red Frog Pub contest closes September 7 and I know many of you have entered. However if you haven’t remember this is a chance for you to leave your mark on what is I expect going to rival the Ocean Plaza for the place to be on your Carnival Magic. Here is one of the 344 Stephanies to remind you how to enter.

Also, the new Funville Times is now ready for your viewing pleasure and Stephanie………put that tofu sandwich down will you and place the link thingy here.

Tomorrow I will feature a report and photos of our orphanage donation which was a brilliant thing to be part of. But now the main news of the day and news that will get those who are always wishing for longer cruises very happy indeed. Here’s why:

Carnival Inspiration to Reposition to Long Beach, Carnival Paradise to Tampa in Fall 2011

I have lost count of the times that people have written about how they would love more Panama Canal cruises so here you go…….you have 2 options now. This also means that both the west coast and the east coast get what will be for them, new ships. Both with the upgrades that have had so many people talking about just how superb the Fantasy class is.  So, for those who love those kind of voyages …………get booking.

I woke up at 6:30am this morning. I haven’t been sleeping well these past few days as I am worried about poor Heidi spending 11 hours with Kye in economy on a British Airways flight to LA. I am worried also that Kye will look at me and go “who the heck are you” and start to cry.

Anyway, I decided that after my shower I would take a walk to Lido and get a bagel. I don’t usually eat breakfast but for some reason I really fancied a toasted bagel and cream cheese. As I wandered across the lido the ship was still an hour and a half away from arriving in Mazatlan. I said good morning to the guests who were already up and chatted with some about their plans for the day. I stood by the poolside talking to one couple who were talking about how they loved the Rhythm of the Night excursion in P. V. but while they talked my mind was distracted by something that I had read about but never actually seen before. You know, I sometimes post comments about the more ridiculous statements a few guests make but here at 7:15am, poolside I was seeing one that on each ship I had read about in the incident report………dragging deck chairs across the deck and the noise being heard in the cabins below. Yep, that’s exactly what the deck crew was doing and I could imagine how the noise could be heard in the cabins on deck 8.

I am not blaming the deck stewards. Oh no. These chairs are very heavy indeed and awkward for one person to carry from the stack across to its place on the open decks. But, we tell them they have to try and I guess that this particular morning they had forgotten. Once I returned to my cabin and while munching on my bagel and the three pieces of bacon that had somehow accidentally ended up on my plate, I called the housekeeping manager and told her what I had seen. She sighed…..and promised to re-address what she has no doubt told them a few times before. It is easy to sit here and write about the bizarre and the ridiculous but sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and admit that yes………..we make mistakes.

While we are talking about ways of improving I met a Platinum guest recently who told me he had 9 picture frames which I guess is the gift we give our Platinum and Milestone guests. It seems like that we might need to change this and so I have sent one of the most senior beards an e-mail kindly requesting he looks into this. Just thought you should know. Some of you will have received an online survey about our loyalty program so please take the time to complete them, they are very important.

After my day of rejected debit cards and Wal-Mart humiliation I decided to go to the cigar bar with James Bore the musical director here on the Carnival Splendor. I had just finished a few minutes of joking on the stage at the end of the Mexican Folkloric show and had gone to enjoy my first cigar in a long, long time. It will also be my last for 5 weeks now Heidi and Kye are coming.

Anyway, as we sat there and chatted I met a fantastic guest, although I doubt he will remember me. I knew straight away as this guest weaved his way toward me that he had been enjoying the P.V. nightlife and most likely Senior Frogs or a similar venue. He was a young man in his 20s and he was walking erratically and was, not to put too fine a point on it, incapable of either coherent thought. For those who don’t understand the word coherent or would like a simpler explanation……..he was pissed as a fart.

He came up to us………and he just stood there…..swaying gently from side to side …….just staring at me.

I waited for him to say something and after three seconds of just being stared at I said, “Good evening sir, are you having a good time?” He looked like he’d been asked to explain the atomic properties of plutonium. He had the IQ of a dead hamster and the conversational ability of a sock.

Still nothing.

And then……..bizarrely…..he leaned forward inches from my face and said “I Love You Man.”

Well….at least that’s what I though he said as it came out” I loooowee you, man” and just as I wondered if he was about to ask why he loved me…….he turned around………and staggered away.

He left me broken hearted, alone and never knowing why he loved me……………did we truly have a future together?

As he walked away I realized that I would never know the answers to these questions ……………. and I don’t mind admitting……………I cried.

Your friend

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