In The Dogship

October 18, 2010 -

John Heald

I am used to guest thinking I am much older than I really am. Usually they say 55 and I know that’s because of either my grey hair, my droopy eyes that have celebrity-sized massive Chaelersache bags underneath them or all of the above. I also am aware that being on TV makes you look older and often when I talk to a guest close up they remark “Y’all look much younger in real life.”

As I said, I am used to this but on Saturday while standing at the coffee shop a guest asked me how old I was. I told them I was 45 and her reply of “Nooooo” was very disconcerting. So being nice I asked her what it was that made me look older than she thought. I expected the hair etc etc ……but oh know…..she told me it was my ears.

I stood there open mouthed and stuttered “Myymymy ears?” The lady told me that it was my ears that was compromising my age and being a polite chap I laughed, stirred my crapafrapacino and minced back to my cabin and all the way there I couldn’t think about anything else except my sodding ears.

You think there’s bigger stuff for me to worry about……. my job, how much Heidi is going to spend on new carpet for the living room and whether or not I will ever own an Aston Martin. But all I could think about was my ears….and I couldn’t wait to get back to my cabin and look at them in the mirror. And when I did I couldn’t believe it because she was right, my ears look saggy, stretched and wrinkly, resembling a retired circus elephant’s scrotum. How the hell did this happen. I have never had them pierced so they haven’t been carrying a ton of gold from them yet they were………right in front of me………old man’s ears.

That really pissed me off and I doubt that had I not been on a ship sailing out of California that no guest would ever had mentioned I had ugly old ears……yet on the Carnival Splendor it seems that some of the guests have absolutely no qualms about telling you exactly what they feel. I am constantly under attack from herbal tofu tea eaters who seem to take great joy in telling me that I am fat and round and that unless I drink their tea I will die. And I have noticed at my Morning Show people from California seem to be very OK with writing in about anything at all….not just birthday wishes and anniversary blessings but much much more. You saw the letter I posted on Friday’s blog and this morning show revealed an even more personal letter.

I am not going to post it here because it contains multiple use of a 14 year old boy’s name. So instead, I will give you the basic details of what the letter was about. Let’s call the kid in question Tom. His parents told me in the letter that just a year ago Tom was “eating his way into a hospital bed.”

At age 14 Tom weighed 250 pounds and his vacation last year was to attend something the letter referred to as “fat camp.” It was a tough time for all of them they told me and through all the tears and emotions they promised Tom that if he reached his target weight they would take him on a cruise. So, here he is, weighing 180 pounds and still wanting to lose more. It was a very touching letter and brutally honest…….I mean really, really honest containing aspects of how Tom was bullied at school, etc.

Anyway, I read the letter out as they requested me to do but I have to admit I felt a little uncomfortable doing so because I pictured poor Tom squirming, red faced with embarrassment. There was no doubt that his Mum and Dad were very, very proud of him but……I have to say I was surprised they wanted the whole ship to know. Anyway, I sent Tom some little gifts and hopefully he will stay on the road to healthy living. I did mention on the show thought that if he can do it………….so can I.

Time for today’s Q and A……..are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s go.

Gary Asked:
John, Please reply,

Having just cruised on Paradise I can tell you that I had some serious issues with my cabin steward. One night came back to the cabin to find that he had a towel animal hanging from the curtain line and when we opened the door my wife saw it and screamed because it scared her so much. The ones on the bed were good but this should not be allowed because it can scare you as my wife can tell you. I think you should stop this.

John Says:
Hello Gary

I am so very sorry that this scared your wife. Obviously, this was not our intention and I know that many people who see the monkey that you describe find it very amusing and often take photos with it. However, it is obvious that your wife found this very disturbing and for that I send her my deepest apologies. I hope you had a fun cruise though and hope to see you again soon

Best wishes to you both
John

Beverly Asked:
Hi John (please reply)….

Hope you are doing well. I have 2 comments….one is that my husband and I are saddened they have dropped Dominica from the Carnival Victory itinerary…..we had booked this cruise because Dominica and St. Kitts were “new” ports for us….and because our flights have already been purchased, we cannot change to another cruise. We will have a good time, I am sure, but we are truly disappointed.

Secondly, with our upcoming cruise in March, we were wondering when the new CD schedule will be out?…….just curious. (We just found out that 2 other couples will be joining us…first-time cruisers!….can’t wait!) Thanks, John.

John Says:
Hello Beverley

I am very much aware that when we dropped Dominica from the itinerary that some were very disappointed indeed and I am so sorry that you will not be going there. However, I do love the fact that you have seen the positives and that you are excited to be cruising on the Carnival Victory. The CD schedule for 2011 is in the works and should be ready for me to post in early November and then you will be able to see who the CD will be. Please let me know if you need anything before you cruise.

Best wishes to you and your husband
John

Debbie Asked:
John Please reply:

We will be on the Splendor in January. Can you recommend some shore excursions? In Mazatlan we are wanting to do the Salsa and Salsa. Have you had any comments on this one? We can’t decide on the other ports. The only thing we do know is that we don’t want to snorkel.

We love your blog. Great job!!

John Says:
Hello Debbie

The Salsa & Salsa tour has sold out every week I have been here on the Carnival Splendor which of course is a wonderful testament to this excursion. So yes, I think the fact that you will learn the true Mexican way to cook salsa as well as learn to dance the salsa and then relax on a gorgeous beach will be a superb day indeed for you. In PV I really must recommend Las Caletas Beach. It is an all day tour to one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen and it comes complete with everything you need. Open bar, a huge lunch, sun chairs, shaded areas, the bluest sea in the world to swim in and lots of safe non motorized water sports. In Cabo…..you have to take the Lands End Island & Shopping excursion. More details on these are available on carnival.com and of course the CD will be hosting an information talk about them all.

Have a think about what you are going to do and then please let me know if you have any follow up questions. I am glad you enjoy the blog and hope you will for some time to come

Best wishes
John

Steve R Asked:
John To reply to

I has asked you to reserve a table for 2 for my cruise on the Valor last week but got nothing and we were seated with other passengers.

I need you to tell me why after I asked this didn’t happen as it was supposed to be a special cruise for me and my girlfriend

John Says:
Hello Steve

I am so sorry you didn’t get your table. I checked back on a search thingy for you name but I can’t find a comment asking for this so probably I missed it or maybe the maitre d’s were unable to provide you with the table. It’s most likely the first reason as most of the times we are able to help with table requests. I hope it was a special cruise for you both and that you will accept my apologies if I missed your request.

Best wishes to you both
John

Lawrence D. Asked:
John, reply or post if you want.

I don’t agree with the people who are saying that you do this blog for you. You do it because you want to do it, not because the people at Carnival are making you do it. Just like they are reading it because they want to read it, not because you are holding your dirty underpants in their face making them.

I see this as an outlet for you, and as a gift to those of us who enjoy reading it with no expectations of anything special other than a good laugh, a cry at the special stories of the guests, and the beautiful pictures of Kye and Heidi.

I travel some for my job as well (but not for weeks or months at a time,) and I, like you hate being away from my family, and I am not married or have any kids yet. I feel bad for you when you have to leave and for Heidi and Kye as well. I am sure that your heart breaks in a million pieces when you have to leave but you are doing what you need to do to support your family. If the haters don’t like it, well maybe they need to try it sometime.

So for the haters, unless you are willing to make the same sacrifice that John makes when he is giving the guests a good vacation, chill out. If you don’t like what he writes, don’t read the blog. If you think his smile is wrong, don’t look at his picture. If you are upset because he helps people on the blog, get a life. I for one am very happy he does what he does and will be happy to one day meet him and shake his hand because he is a good man who loves his family and what he does to support his family. Then he takes the time to let his friends know what is going on in his life like we all do when we go home at night.

I have never cruised with John, but I hope one day I will.
Lawrence D.

John Says:
Hello Lawrence D

Thanks mate. Those were wonderful words of support and well timed. I certainly don’t write this blog for myself and anyone who could see me right now would agree. It’s 6:50am and I have a bloody awful cold and my sinus are flared more than a pair of 1970’s trousers. And as I sit here in my underpants all I can think about is crawling back into bed. So thanks again for what you said and its comments like this that allow me to keep going when I feel as crappy as I do.

I also hope that one day we will sail together

Best wishes
John

Cathy Brennan Asked:
Hi John,

We have cruised with Carnival a couple of times now and are doing two more back to back next April. We will be sailing on the Liberty on April 2-9, 2011 and Valor on April 10-17, 2011 (cabin 7448). We are cruising with my sister and her husband this time (her very first time on a ship) and I want her to have the best experience ever. She asked if I thought that our dinner seating would be by a window at a table for 4 (she is not one for large crowds). Is there a way for me to contact the Maitre’d to make such a request? Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide.

Cathy

John Says:
Hello Cathy Brennan

Of course, it will be a pleasure to try and do this for you and your family. As we are still some months away can I ask that you re post this request in late February or early March and I will ask the ship to honour your request?

Best wishes to all
John

Jennifer Asked:
Greetings John! (Please Reply)

I wrote to you a few months back commenting on my last carnival cruise and I appreciated your response. As a refresher….When I went on the Carnival Miracle in February and the main shows (ex-Beatles) turned out to be the same as my past cruise on the Carnival Freedom.

Anyways, I took your advice and booked my next cruise on the Carnival Dream Feb. 5th 2011. This is going to be my husband and I’s first cruise by ourselves, and since we never had a honeymoon I would like to think of this cruise as one. Is there a way that I can request a table for two?

P.S. Your toilet jokes are what makes your blog enjoyable….so please continue. When I had you as my cruise director on the Freedom my stomach hurt by the end of the cruise from laughing too much!

John Says:
Hello Jennifer

You will love the shows on your Carnival Dream and do not miss the laser shows and of course the incomparable Dancin’ in the Street. Of course, it will be a pleasure to ask for a table for 2 for you. As we are still some months away can I ask that you re post this request in late and I will ask the ship to honour your request? I am glad you are enjoying the blogs and hope that continues.

Best wishes
John

Boston Bruins Fan Asked:
Hi John,

Of course, as they say, no good deed goes unpunished. That’s why I get a kick out of those who complain about your blog when the main purpose of your blog is to help others and provide information.

First, we had a great Med cruise this summer on the Ruby Princess Grand Med itinerary. When we saw that Carnival is back in the Med with the Magic, we thought it was a great opportunity to bring the kids along. While nothing will beat the 12-days of incredible ports on the Ruby, the 9-day Magic Med looks like a great family vacation.

Here’s my question. Princess asked for and held our passports for much of the cruise. At first, I thought that wasn’t a good idea. After the fact, I think it was great. If anyone were to miss the ship, the ship would deliver his/her passport to the port agent. Is Carnival considering doing this on the Magic Med itinerary?

Look forward to the entertainment on the Magic next summer as well as trying the new dining venues. LIKE as we say on Facebook.

Thanks,
Bruins Fan in Boston

John Says:
Hello Boston Bruins Fan

I love Boston by the way…the place, not the Bruins….is that football or hockey or baseball by the way? Anyway, the reason the ship held your passports would have been based on the ports of call you went to. If for example you went to say Croatia and then next to Italy they may have held them because Croatia is a non European Union country where as Italy of course is and they may have asked to see all the passports. Looking at our itineraries we will not need to do this. It will be great to see you next year and if between now and then you have any questions about the ship or the ports, please let me know.

Best wishes and see you soon
John

Orange County Jo Asked:
John. Please reply.

I am sailing on your Splendorous ship on October 24th. This will be my first ever Carnival cruise and no pressure Mr.Heald but I have chosen to bring me and my husband on your ship based only on your blog. I have been reading it since a lady I work with started laughing out loud one day and when I asked her why she directed me to a blog you had written. Since then I have been smitten with you and decided we would leave RCI and come try you and Carnival. My only request is that we have a photo taken together as the lady I told you that I work with will be so jealous. We can’t wait and have chosen some funny Halloween costumes as well.

Thanks
Jo

John Says:
Hello Orange County Jo

Wow, no pressure indeed. Well, all I can do is say thanks and promise that we will indeed have our photo taken with each other and please could you leave a note at the guest services desk when you board so I can give you a call in your cabin. I am truly honoured that you have stepped away from the Climbingwallthatnobodyeveruses of the Seas and are going to try the fun for all Carnival Splendor and I will do everything I can to make this the best cruise you have ever had.

Best wishes to you both
John

Tim (9/11 patch guy) Asked:
John (please reply)

OMG!!! Just for fun we typed nakedlatvianwomen.com and it worked. All this time we thought it was a joke.

Thanks,
Tim

John Says:
Hello Tim

Bloody hell…………….it works…………….really?
I’m off ……..bye and best wishes

John

That’s all for today and thanks to Tim for the brilliant news. I will be back with more tomorrow.

So the Queen Elizabeth is on her maiden voyage and the passengers will be forever able to boast that they were the first ever passengers on this most famous of ships. I had a quick e-mail from our man in London, Cunard’s President Mr. Peter Shanks, who said they discovered a guest who worked on the first QE when he was 16 working as a “boy seaman” and his job was to raise and lower the ensign – so he will be doing that one morning with Captain. Can you imagine that, a 16 year old working on the original Queen Elizabeth and here he is many, many years later as a guest on the new Queen Elizabeth……..that’s a brilliant story.

You know, Alistair Greener the ship’s entertainment director has done a brilliant job with his blog at www.wearecunard.com. But even he has been infected by a blog disease called Chumpinitos. I suffered from this last year you may remember and I have recently noticed the symptoms returning to our blog thingy these past few weeks with a few dubious posts and reviews. I saw one on Alistair’s blog stating that the shows on RCI were better than those on the Queen Elizabeth and he referred to a show called Chicago and how good it is on RCI.

Umm…..Mr. Chumpion……..one small point…….that show is on the new ship, the Allure, which hasn’t even come out yet. By the way, Alistair reported that the shows on Queen Elizabeth have all been packed and that were met with great appreciation and that afterwards he received many positive comments.

It looks like the Chumpions are back so let’s all be vigilant and if you see one………..hit them with what they fear most……….the truth.

Here’s one more example of some brilliant Chumpion writing.

PHJ808
John REPLY SUGGESTED

We are Royal Caribbean fans but were persuaded by friends to go with them on the Pride. We boarded and made our way to the cabin, with no guides for help as has always been on Royal. One of our big problems was that the cabin was dirty and not tidy. Service and cleaning during the week was spotty at best. Our cabin steward was elusive and never answered his phone, we called one day 21 times and he never answered. We paid for a cabin with a view, but we got a cabin with dirty windows and balcony furniture so dirty we could not and would not sit on them. A very sticky spill was on the desk counter and was not cleaned all week. The phone programming, such as the “wake up call” button, did not work. The TV remote also did not work but was replaced on the second day, after I complained at reception. Dining was still another problem. We were constantly rushed at dinner and loud intrusive music with dancing in the aisles was played during dessert ruining the meals. One last word about the passengers cruising with us. They were low class, ignorant drunks for the most part. I have never been anywhere with so many unkempt people weighing over 300 pounds in my life and never hope to be again!

If you want to cruise with 3,000 fat ignorant slobs, this cruise line and ship are for you! If not sail on a class line like RCI like me and my family will be

John Says
Hello PHJ808

You know, most of the time I am polite and respectful but there are times when it’s very hard to be. First of all I am not even sure if you were actually on the ship or indeed that everything you have written isn’t total and utter bollocks. If this was a serious review you would have posted your real name not some coded nonsense and how are we supposed to improve if you don’t include your cabin number and sailing date? Oh yes, you say you called your cabin steward 21 times and he never answered……..sorry, but my guess is you were calling the wrong number. As for your final comment about the passengers who sailed, well that reading that proves to me that this is written by someone who sits in a darkened room, naked, with a little piece of drool dribbling down their chin as they get excited about the thought of writing something like we have just read. If I am wrong and you did actually sail on the ship and you can re-post with your name and your cabin number and date of sailing, then I will eat a massive piece of humble pie and sincerely apologise. But my gut instinct tells me this isn’t going to happen.

John

Usually at this point I would recap last week but obviously there is really no need to do so and if it’s OK with you I am going to talk about this cruise as…..well…..I personally want to try and forget about last week and just move on.

So with that in mind, here is who is sailing with us on SL7101710

GUESTS                                 3,393

NON US                                  457                  101 FROM MEXICO

PAST GUESTS                       1,289

Under 2 Years 22
2-5 Years (Camp Carnival) 68
6-8 Years (Camp Carnival) 64
9-11 Years (Camp Carnival) 70
12-14 Years (Circle “C”) 69
15-17 Years (Club 02) 57
18-20 Years 49

Now this cruise we also have 11 Seeing Eye Dogs….yep, 11. These amazing animals are escorting their owners around the ship and I can’t help but marvel at the extraordinary work they do. Now it has though presented us a problem which I am not sure whether to tell you about as I am absolutely positive that it will provoke massive outcry and condemnation from many of you. So, I will tell you but please, let’s not make this a sounding board against anyone or any religion ………because yes, it is religion that this comment is based on………..here it is.

Guest: Mr.———–Ref: 842081598A
Cabin: ———–Added-Changed: 10/17/10 – 10/17/10

C ———–NOT HAPPY WITH DOGS BEING IN THE DINING ROOM

Guest stated that close to his dining table in Black Pearl DR there are a group of dogs. Guests say that he should not be seated near these as according to his religion they should not be there. Guest is stating that he wants the moved to another part of the DR. Tasked to Maitre D

Well, that’s a first and the obvious emotion is to feel angry and upset……how can this guest dare to suggest we remove the and certainly that was my first impression. I asked one of the technical staff here on the ship who is Muslim to explain why this guest is so offended by this and that they regard the saliva of dogs as impure. Well, the dogs are trained to focus solely on their owners but I understand that we have to be respectful to all our guests needs. So, in the end we found a nice table for this family from Anaheim to move to which they were happy to do thus leaving the sight impaired guests and Amber, Cookie, Cleo, Nyia, Hamlin, Hayley and Rosie …….. undisturbed.

Well I started today’s blog by talking about how my Californian friends are very outspoken and highlighted the lady who said my ears made me look old. Well last week was the first week that Heidi and Kye were not with me and what with the tragedy of Tuesday night and this sodding cold I think my emotions were totally buggered. So just as many of the guests seem to take comfort in telling me what they feel I guess I have to treat this blog a bit like popping bubble wrap and tell you calmly what happened last night.

It’s not easy to do though because what I am about to tell you is one of two things that men should be afraid of admitting. One is that they have, at least once, probably recently, asked Uncle Google to take them on a journey to Latvia to see its women…..preferably those wearing only a smile. Secondly, men should never admit that they cried

I was listening to some music while getting ready for the Welcome Aboard Show. It was a CD (yes I still have CD’s…..Eyepod my arse) of some of my favourite music and just as I was sitting on the bed, in my underpants, putting my socks on a song started to play……it was Con te Partito, Time to Say Goodbye, sung by the extraordinary Jose Carreras and the ex-wife of old rubber face, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sara Brightman.

I had actually written a blog last week with a title from this song in reference to my girls flying home and what with me missing them, my eyes and nose already slightly watery and with thoughts of our poor friend who gave his life to the ocean……something happened….. I found myself choking up……..big, snotty man tears came……..and today, Monday October 18, 2010 I freely admit to you all….. it felt good. Obviously I had to go on stage in 30 minutes so I dried my eyes, blew my nose and turned Jose and Sarah off and replaced them with some Jethro Tull.

The UK is 8 hours in front of Splendor time so at 1 am just before I went to bed last night I decided to call home and told Heidi about my tears, expecting her to say how much she understood and congratulate me on showing her my sensitive side. After all, the last time she saw me shed a few tears was when Kye was born. Do you know what she did? She laughed at me and told me not to be a soppy sod.

Flicking through women’s magazines like Cosmocrapitan and Men Are Bastards Weekly you’ll find countless articles asking, “How sensitive is your man?” They want us to be more emotional, but they don’t know what to do when a man starts blubbing, do they?

My Dad never cried. I estimate more than 90% of male blog readers never saw their Dad cry like a big girl. And rightly so. Dads are supposed to be rock hard. My Dad accidentally cut most of his index finger off while making something in his shed, but he didn’t even moan about it. He just pushed it back on, stuck a bit of gaffer tape round the join and then went back to work…. he was my hero.

But these days men cry. They cry if they win the NBA championship and they cry if they lose. They cry if they build the biggest something in the world and then see that even with all that  “mine is bigger than yours” bravado they still make much, much less profit than the competition.

It’s OK to cry under these circumstances. And it’s ok to cry if you sit and think how much you miss your daughter and your wife.

It’s OK men to cry if you a horse kicks you full on in the bollocks……..oh and of course it’s OK to cry when you have dimmed the lights in the cabin and are prepared for a night of romance and you discover that those tofu eating beardies at Carnival HQ have blocked you from logging onto www.latvianwomennaked.com.

Goodnight
Your friend
John

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