Frank's House

November 26, 2010 -

John Heald

I don’t know much about my neighbour. I know his name is Frank and that he owns a chain of dry cleaning stores. I say hello to him when he is washing his Porsche which he does every Saturday morning at 9 am come rain or shine and he replies with a curt nod. I know his wife is even quieter than he is and Heidi says she hasn’t seen her for weeks.

Maybe he beat her to death with a bedside lamp and buried her under the rose bushes in his back garden. I am not sure why he doesn’t like me or maybe he is like this with everyone. One thing I do know for sure is that Frank, although he may be wife murderer and as grumpy an old sod as he is……..he absolutely loves Christmas.

As I sit here in my underpants across the way I am being stared at by six-foot festive snow globe that now sits in Frank’s front. Who the hell invents things like this? How did that conversation in the lab go?

Beard 1- “What shall we do today? Shall we invent a solar powered cruise ship, find a cure for hemorrhoids or come up with some sort of cheap arse snow globe with a Santa in it that will look stupid outside people’s houses at Christmas?”

Beard 2 – “Ooh. Ooh yes, yes. The globe, the globe. I’ll fetch the tinsel and the tofu.”

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a Christmas light or two. I’d happily slow down to look at a tasteful white glow here or a splash of tree in a window there, but Frank’s house is sucking the electricity out of the rest of Essex. If you were to drive toward my house of an evening and then suddenly, as you round the corner, you would be blinded instantly. It’s like someone’s opened the gates of hell during Satan’s office Christmas party and let the contents pour forth all over the brickwork of suburban house.

I bet you could see his house from space. Honestly, it’s like he’s rushed down to Wal-Mart, gathered up armfuls of anything that glitters, rammed it all down a shoulder mounted missile launcher and then fired the whole lot at his house. There are hundreds of red, green, blue, purple and gold lights splattered all over the entire house……..it looks like Walt Disney has vomited over it.

He also has reindeer and a flashing Merry Christmas sign and for some reason, he has a huge blow up Santa’s using a mode of transport with which he’s not normally associated. On his roof he has Santa in a hot air balloon tied to his chimney

In exactly what version of the story of St. Nicholas did he bring presents on a sodding balloon? Is it because he’s trying to set a green example? It simply makes no practical sense because a balloon just wouldn’t be able to cope with the rigorous demands of travelling round the world in one night in the same way as a mystical sleigh pulled by flying reindeer. Santa would optimistically board his balloon with his sack of toys and then get only as far as Alaska to drop Sarah Palin her gift (a book entitled South Korea Good….North Korea Bad ) before bad weather would blow the fat man and his balloon all the way back to the North Pole………balloon my arse. I bet if I were to go to a posh place like Boca Raton or Beverly Hills they have Christmas lights that include Santa getting out of a Bentley. Yep, this year Frank has finally lost his mind and as soon as an opportunity arises I will sneak out and take a photo of this festive monstrosity.

Oh, and while I’m being a bit bar humbug can I also have one other Christmas moan, can people never send me one of those letters or e-mails that are copied and sent to everyone they have ever known in the form of what’s been happening this year? God I hate those……..”It’s been a busy year for the Jones family. In August, Molly, our youngest, got 12 A star passes in her SAT’s. Not bad for a two year old. Callum our middle one saved a surfer from being eaten by a great white shark by poking its eyes out with a pencil while Katie, who turned 10 in October, became the first person to skateboard up Mount Everest.”

Bah humbug.

Time for today’s Q and A……………..off we go.

Sandy & Steve D. Asked:
John (please reply)
Really enjoy your blog, makes our day. We were on the Dream (Stinking Creek) cruise in March & had a GREAT time.

We will be on the Destiny November 29th, 2010.We are platinum & confirmed for early dining. Would it be possible to have a table for two? We are in Destiny cabin # 8116 Thanks in advance.

John Says:
Hello Sandy and Steve D,

It’s funny how two simple words like “Stinking Creek” can bring back such clear memories….. that was one very funny man and he helped make for a fantastic cruise. I have just seen this now and have asked the maitre d on the Carnival Destiny to do his best to help you with your table request. Have a brilliant cruise and thanks so much for your loyalty to Carnival. Best wishes to you both
John

Lou Asked:
Hello John, (please reply)

My husband and I spent two magnificent weeks on our Carnival Dream, ending 9/4/10. Our Carnival Dream truly is a dream! We were on deck 10 and Rodney was our cabin steward. We have never had a better one. He made us feel like family! We were disappointed that we had the same itinerary both weeks because of a hurricane, but we understood. Better safe than sorry!!

However, we do have a few comments–which we didn’t get to make because of no comment cards. Some one said they were coming by email, but we never got them. One of the sea days was a little turbulent and we went down to get some meclizine, and we were charged $3.29 for 4 tablets. Now, really! Isn’t that getting a little chinchy? We have been on 47 cruises of which 20 were on Carnival, and this was a first for us! A sign of more good things to come? I have made a hobby of collecting spoons from every cruise ship we go on, but we were told there was none on the Carnival Dream. Is there a good explanation for why there is none? I was very disappointed.

One other comment–I was shocked that there are no grab bars in the showers. We are not feeble yet (although we did celebrate 60 years of marriage this year), but we feel it would be a great asset to have something to hold on to when entering and exiting the shower, especially when the ship is a little rocky.

Lastly, we and our daughter and her husband are booked on the Carnival Miracle for 10/26 – 11/3/10. We are anticipating another wonderful Carnival cruise. And this time we will take our own Meclizine with us 🙂

We sailed with you on the Carnival Freedom in Europe 10/16 – 11/11/07 Would love to be able to sail with you again.
Thanks for all the good stuff you do—whether while in your underpants or fully dressed! Keep up the good work and keep smiling!

Lou Yeakey

John Says:
Hello Lou Yeakey,

Lets start with your comments. While I was on the Carnival Splendor we had a group of spoon collector’s sail and so I saw firsthand just how popular this pastime is. I am therefore very sorry that you didn’t get to buy one. I have seen them in inventory before so I can only guess that they had sold out and were waiting for further stock but that doesn’t help you does it? So let me say sorry for that again. I have sent your comment about the spoon to our VP in charge of that area. Now the subject of grab handles in the shower. I know some of our ships have them for sure and I do know that we have the staterooms that have handicapped facilities including grab handles so I will check and get back to you. Regarding the charge for seasick medicine, which most importantly I hope made you feel much better. We used to hand out complimentary seasick medicine but as you have seen that is no longer the case and we do indeed charge for this.

I am so glad you had fun and thanks for your understanding regarding the change of itinerary. Changing routes is never something we want to do but as you quite correctly said…….”safety first.” I will make sure that your stateroom Steward gets to see your comments of praise and thanks so much for making them. I also thank you for your kind words and for mentioning my underpants which, I hope didn’t make you feel ill when you typed that word.

I hope to see you soon.

Best wishes
John

Marvin V Asked:
John, reply.

No ice rink, no water show, no dinner theater, no new Broadway musical, no new amazing promenade, bad food, boring ships. That’s why I don’t cruise with Carnival but with Royal.

John Says:
Hello Marvin V,

Not sure why you have written to this blog then. While I respect that you prefer to sail with someone else I think that it’s pretty silly to write to me to tell me so. Isn’t that like writing to ford complaining they don’t sell Chevy’s? Oh and by the way……..you might want to consider putting on a cup……….because I have a feeling your about to get a massive kick to the bollocks now by a few bloggers.

Best wishes
John

Jim and Holli Asked:
Hello John (PLEASE REPLY)

We are very excited to be sailing on the Valor again in January. We sailed her this past December. It will be our 6th cruise. I am very proud to say each sailing we made a donation to a local charity i.e. schools in Jamaica, orphanage in Roatan, etc. My youngest daughter who is 8 years old just asked me who we are helping this trip. I have not even thought that far in advance! Do you have any suggestions? We are sailing to Belize, Roatan, Cayman Island and Cozumel.
We are so proud of our daughters and their desire to help others on vacation and here at home. Would it be possible to do something special for them on this cruise? A simple note from the CD would do.

Thanks in advance,
Holli

John Says:
Hello Jim and Holi,

Thank you so very much for all your kindness. How wonderful that during your hard earned family vacation you take the time to think of those less fortunate. We have a very comprehensive charity program with orphanages in both Roatan and Belize and if you intend to so something there please let me know so I can help you organise this through the team on the Carnival Valor.

I would be honoured (spelt correctly) to send something to your girls as they obviously are vey special indeed for thinking of others. Please send me their names and cabin number as soon as possible. Thanks again and best wishes to you all.

John

CLAIRENYNY Asked:
Please reply
John,

Smokers are animals. Why doesn’t Carnival put all the animals on one side of the boat so that they can smoke their cancer sticks without killing the rest of us. I am going on the Dream on November 20 and the reports I have read about Carnival and smoking may mean that this first Carnival experience is my last. I fail to understand why Carnival lags so far behind the rest of the cruise lines and still allows smokers to inflict their poison on everyone else.

I would be interested in reading your reasons why. I hope our cabin cleaner has made sure that there is absolutely no smell of smoke. We are in cabin 2471 so please instruct them. Put all the animals on one side means that they can all puff away on there balconies while those of us who appreciate life can breath properly. Smokers are killers even on cruises.

John Says:
Hello CLAIRENYNY,

I am sure that you had a brilliant time on your Carnival Dream and my apologies for the late reply. There would have though been no need for me to contact your stateroom steward as whether people have smoked in the cabins or not all the staterooms are thoroughly cleaned before the next cruise starts. I am of the belief that we shouldn’t allow smoking in the cabins although I see no reason why people should not be allowed to smoke outside on their balconies as long as they are respectful to those either side of them. Most of the guest lounges and most of the casino you will have seen was smoke free and there is what we consider a good balance for both smokers and non smokers. I honestly don’t think that we would be able to manage and facilitate selling one side of the vessel as smoking and the other as not. It would make sense to do that but logistically I don’t think it’s something we will be doing. I hope that you had a great time and your Carnival Dream experience will not be your last.

Best wishes
John

Karen Spencer Asked:
JOHN – PLEASE REPLY

My sister and I are going to be on the Carnival Magic Transatlantic next year for my {sigh} 50th birthday. I am beyond excited – this will be my 7th Carnival Cruise and my sister’s 10th. Do you know how much the Spa Pass for the cruise will be? Also, is there any possibility of a window table at the late dinner? I LOVE sitting by the window and seeing the ocean while having dinner! Thanks for your Blog Thingy – I read it every morning!

Karen

John Says:
Hello Karen Spencer,

I am also excited as this will be my first trans-Atlantic crossing since Carnival Liberty. I am fairly certain your Carnival Magic Cloud 9 Spa pass will be the same as on your Carnival Magic at $35 a day with a special price for the entire cruise but I will confirm nearer the time. Please can you write back to me in August and I will make sure I do my best to get Ken the Maitre D to help you with your table request. Thanks for the kind words and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog

Best wishes,
John

Fred Asked:
Dear John (Please reply)

I just wanted to write a quick note to tell you that I just came off a wonderful cruise on the Carnival Glory (7 days to New England/Canada).

I wanted to mention a few staff members who went well above and beyond to make our trip memorable. Wilson & “OT” (from the bar staff) and our cabin steward Lolito (we were in cabin 2217) were fantastic.

Thanks for your time John and I am looking forward to sailing with you next October on the Magic.

Fred

John Says:
Hello Fred,

Thanks so much for taking the time to write about the crew members on the Carnival Glory who made such a difference to your cruise. I will now send this to the hotel director so he can personally show them. I look forward to seeing you next year on your Carnival Magic.

Best wishes,
John

Carla & Jim Asked:
John please reply when you can.

As always I would like to thank you for your continued efforts to keep us loyal Carnival cruisers informed as to what is happening. It is greatly appreciated. May I ask a question regarding the “future cruise certificates” – can you tell me why we are instructed to send them certified mail ($5 – $6) in order to redeem them. It seems that we should be able to scan and email them to Carnival (or to our PVP) when we want to redeem them since they have individual certificate numbers and there would be no way of duplicating them on more than one reservation. It is a bit nerve racking waiting to see if Carnival receives your certificate and if it gets applied to your reservation. I feel that with today’s technology this would be a step in the right direction.

I hope that you have a wonderful day!

John Says:
Hello Carla and Jim,

I am afraid that my knowledge of these certificates is pretty basic…..a bit like Sara Palin’s knowledge of foreign affairs. Anyway, I know someone who does know and I will make sure that you are contacted straight away. I am sorry for the late reply to this and thanks so much for the kind words. By the way……..it seems to me that scanning them would make sense.

Best wishes to you both.
John

IndyMichelle Asked:
Dear John, (please reply)

Today’s blog is great timing, because I’ve just returned from my first ever solo cruise. I had a lovely time, but I don’t know that I would go by myself again. I was very lucky to have WONDERFUL table mates at dinner, including a mother and daughter pair who went out of their way to make me feel welcome and include me in many of their plans.
One suggestion I have is to improve the “singles meet” on the first evening. On the Carnival Inspiration, it was held at 11:30p in the disco. This was sort of “prime time” for that club anyway, so it was packed full of partygoers, and mingling / conversation was at a minimum. Maybe a smaller, quieter lounge would be a better spot?

The party could always then move to the disco once introductions have been made. On a positive note, I’ve already emailed this to the beards, but will tell you as well. My dining team of Avy and Cris, both from the Philippines, was great! They are both the perfect balance of friendly and professional; I could not have asked for a better team. With the exception of one inexplicably cranky bartender, the entire Inspiration crew were as friendly and helpful as can be. Nearly everyone I passed would take the time to stop and greet me with a smile, it was really amazing! I also had a (relatively minor) medical issue while on board, and all of the nurses were friendly and helpful. I was a bit emotional at one point (combination of traveling alone and not feeling well), and Jaclyn from Australia took the extra few minutes to cheer me up. As I said, I don’t know that I will cruise alone again, but I will most definitely cruise again on Carnival. I’ll just have to increase my efforts to convince a friend to come with me and enjoy the fun!

Lastly, I was terribly sorry to hear about the crew member on the Splendor today, John. It’s a tragedy and my thoughts are with his family and friends.

-IndyMichelle

John Says:
Hello IndyMichelle,

I always have the utmost respect fro single cruisers. I have a loathing of the table for one situation and so I can see how difficult cruising on your own may be. I was glad therefore to read that overall you had fun and were blessed with some great table mates that helped make your dinner times so special.

I will certainly pass your recommendations about the single gatherings along. I guess we onboard sometimes think of the single cruiser as the 18 -20 somethings, which is why the single parties are often held in the dance club. When I am onboard I always hold a second singles gathering for the thirty something onwards in the piano bar. To me this is the best location for this and with one of our great piano bar entertainers in charge it is often a great way for single cruisers to meet. However, I can see how lonely it can occasionally be for the single cruiser which is why I have the utmost respect for those who travel this way. Thanks so much for the praise you bestowed on our crew and I apologise as well for the “cranky bartender.” Anyway, I hope you do manage to persuade a friend to sail and that it’s not too long before we see you again. I will send your comments to the ship.

Best wishes,
John

Judy Asked:
JOHN PLEASE REPLY!!!!

I HAD to tell you about our cruise to Greece on NCL and what a bad ship it was!!! We went on the NCL GEM. The sights were great and shore excursions fine-its the ship! The buffet has the SAME menu EVERYDAY! No changes-same thing day in and out-the 2 dining rooms both have the same menus each day-you would think one would have different than the other but no-both same each day. The 24 hr one had the same menu EVERYDAY! No changes. The outdoors ones were like Carnivals-hamburgers-hot dogs etc. The rest were “speciality” restaurants costing 10 to 25.00 per person. The shows were horrible! They even had to show movies in there-no acts! Somehow sitting thru 45 min of someone trying to be Elton John was terrible!
There weren’t any activities on the ship that didn’t cost money! EVERYTHING had a price to do it. 5.00 a game to bowl, bingo prices start at 20.00 up to 50.00-the Wiii had a cost. No cooking demos or nothing. I was sooo bored! It’s the most I have EVER seen my room! The TV was terrible! It had 2 stations-BBC news and channel E and that was a tape that ran over and over and over each day! The rest were ship stuff. Movies were all Pay on Demand. I happened to be asked by what I thought was a floor manager about how I was enjoying myself-I proceeded to tell him how the ship sucked! About the activities etc-food too! He tried to tell me he used to work on RCCL before coming there and that they were the same-I asked him what did he do to get kicked off RCCL to end up on a suckie ship!! He turned out to be the cruise director! Mexican-couldn’t speak English hardly at all-swore alot and did a few “dirty” gestures on stage. Stuff you would NEVER do!!! Needless to say-we will never be on their ships again! We usually travel Carnival or Royal but neither had the itin we wanted. Glad I have a cruise planned in Feb on Carnival!!!!
We did get to go to Croatia, 8 Greek isles and Turkey, and Venice. My husband got to see what he wanted to see-me I had enough after a week!

Just thought I’d tell you our experience the last 2 weeks!!! Take Care!!

John Says:
Hello Judy,

I am so sorry you had such a bad experience on NCL but hopefully the stunning ports of call made up for it somewhat. I won’t comment on the onboard experience because not only was your brilliantly written post very clear but of course for me to shout “yipeeeeeeeeee” or “Freestyle my arse” would be unprofessional………..so I won’t. Seriously though I am so sorry that you didn’t have such a great time and I hope that when you cruise with Carnival again we will remind you of just why we are the most popular cruise line in the world.

Best wishes,
John

That’s all for today and back with more on Monday.

In 35 days time the Rose Parade will be broadcast live on ABC TV and I know many of you will be watching. I thought some of you might like to see a video of what will surely be……….the star float of the show.

And of course on Monday I will be in Miami. On Sunday I will say goodbye to the girls and fly to Miami where I will be met with a warm and friendly hug by the Miami Customs and Border Protection inspectors.

On Monday and Tuesday I have meetings with beards about the bloggers cruise and with that in mind it is time to do another roll call and regardless of if you booked with the fare code or not it is very important that you tell us that you want to be part of the group. Now to explain what to do we need to have Eric explain this to you. Who’s Eric? I hear you cry. Well…..let’s find out shall we…..here he is.

Eric, please tell us about your background, where are you from and how your journey brought you to Carnival.

In an attempt not to bore all of you to death (and ruin my first impression as the new bearded fellow), I’ll make this first part short and sweet. 🙂 I was born in San Francisco, California, but consider myself a Florida native, since I’ve lived here since the wee age of 4. Since moving here, I’ve lived all over the state, first growing up in South Florida, then moving to Orlando for school (Go Knights!), and most recently living in Sarasota, Fla., while working as the Social Media Manager for Clickbooth,

So how did I wind up in this crazy world we call Social Media? Well, my story actually begins in a place you may not expect. I first got involved in Social Media back in early 2002, to help increase the exposure and online presence of the rock band I was in (I’m a drummer, in case you were wondering 🙂 ). When sites like MySpace, Purevolume, and later on Facebook came about, I immediately saw how powerful those platforms could be in helping bands connect and engage with fans all over the world on a whole new level, and I immediately took advantage of it. Utilizing those platforms, I was not only able to build great relationships with our current fans, as well as prospective fans from all over the world (many of which I still talk to til this day), but also sell a TON of records. 🙂

Since then, I’ve used the same model and approach to help both small and large businesses all over the country utilize Social Media to connect and engage with their customers, expand their marketing reach, improve their all-around customer experience and service…..and most importantly, increase sales and revenue.

Social Media is something I’m extremely passionate about and being able to do what I love for a company I’ve loved and respected for as long as I can remember is truly a dream come true. Plus, now I get to grow a beard… which is pretty sweet if you ask me. 🙂

What does your job here at the world’s most popular cruise line involve?

Since Social Media touches many different facets of the Carnival brand, from marketing support to customer service, and even internal communications, there are a lot of different areas I will be involved in as time goes on. However, some of the main initiatives I’m currently focusing on include: accelerating the growth and user engagement of our biggest social properties (such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Funville etc.), finding new and innovative ways to integrate Social Media into our overall marketing funnel, and of course working with John very closely as we start implementing some exciting new features and ideas for the blog for 2011 and beyond (but more on that below.)

Do you have any plans for our blog and our Facebook page things?

Of course! There are a ton of exciting new things that myself, Everett, and the 344 Stephanies have planned for both the blog and Facebook thingy. While most of it is EXTREMELY top secret (not even Funship Freddy or PA 007 know… well at least I think PA 007 doesn’t know, but no one here seems to know who he/she is), I CAN say that our new plans will bring more of the personality we all know and love about John to his social media thingies. More importantly, our plans also include a variety of new tools and features that will help expand the reach of both the blog and his Facebook, so that John can continue to entertain and touch the hearts of even more people on a daily basis. With that said, if you have any ideas you would love to see implemented on either the blog or Facebook, feel free to email me at SocialNetworking@carnival.com any time. I would love to hear them!

Do you like tofu? Believe it or not, Tofu is one food I have yet to try. Am I missing out?

Favourite Music: I love almost every genre of music except country :-). Some of my favorites include: The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Incubus, Jay-Z, Eminem and a slew of others. I’m also a big advocate of local music, and I try and support the local music scene as much as possible. Some of my favorite local bands are: No More Kings, Aranda, Soular, and Bushwood.

Favourite Movie: One of my favorite comedies of all time is Dumb and Dumber. If we are talking about Action, then I would pick Boondock Saints, hands down 🙂

Mac or PC: I got a Mac 3 years ago and you know what they say: once you go Mac, you never go back. 🙂 Also — hey John, you’ll love this — I’m currently considering an eyePhone!

And now that we know more about the man who is going to keep this blog and our FB page alive and kicking, make sure you tune in Monday when Eric will share exactly how roll call for BC4 will work.

I am really excited about BC4 and I will tell you all about what I have planned next week as well.

Now, let’s meet someone else as we continue our look at some of the brilliant piano bar entertainers. Today we head on over to the Carnival Legend and meet Roger.

Here is what Cruise Director Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee Jimmy has to say about Roger.

Name: Roger C Concepcion

Hometown: Malolos, Bulacan Phillippines

Bio: Roger joined Carnival in 2002 as guitarist and singer in a lounge band. He made the switch to piano bar entertainer 4 contracts ago. Roger’s style ranges from easy listening to modern rock. He usually starts the night playing soft music. When the crowd loosens up and starts to sign along, Roger picks up the pace. He focuses on playing any and all requests thrown at him. He is never pushy or obnoxious. He is simply a talented musician and entertainer.

Most requested song: Piano Man, Sweet Caroline and a few songs by Journey.

Best Part of being a Carnival Piano Bar entertainer: Roger feels the best part is when guests react to a particular song. Sometimes guests cry, laugh, sing a long, or just feel happy in response to hearing their favorite song. When guests tell Roger that he made their cruise or want to take a photo with him it just gives him more satisfaction and drive to do his best each cruise.

I hope you are enjoying these interviews and I will feature more soon.

I also know that my Smoke on the Water blogs had close to 500,000 views in one week. Since then many of the people who joined us for the story have buggered off but many have stayed as well. I know this because we still averaged 20,000 views a day this last week and therefore although some of you may have joined during the difficult times I wanted to say a huge thank you for staying with us. The idea of this blog is to provide you with fun and information and when I am onboard a close look behind the scenes at the life of a 45 year old fat, bent-toothed and cruise director…….and his underpants. If there is anything you need from me please contact me on the blog with a post marked JOHN PLEASE REPLY and as soon as I can …….I will.

So thanks again for joining us here on our blog thingy dedicated to you and Carnival…………the world’s most……………well ………….you know.

I am really waffling today……..have you noticed? Anyway, I spoke to Chris our entertainment director just now and he has nearly……..nearly finished the CD schedule for the first half of 2011. Obviously a lot of you are waiting for this and it should be ready very soon and as soon as it is I will be posting it here. I have to find a ship for myself before the Bloggers cruise. I intend as just mentioned to be on the Carnival Splendor for her January 16th cruise and then I have to find a ship before BC4 on the Carnival Glory. I am thinking of the Carnival Miracle…..Carnival Freedom ………..or Carnival Ecstasy. I will let you know.

Well yesterday why my American friends were stuffing themselves full of turkey and pumpkin pie I had a family day with Heidi and Kye. Now originally we were supposed to go to some kids petting farm but because it was so sodding cold and because I didn’t fancy Kye having her hand bitten off by a rabid Shetland pony we decided to go to the circus. Yep……the circus was in town …….the Moscow Touring Circus to be precise and so off we went. Now I had been to a circus in the American Airlines Arena ……home of the Miami Heat who we shall not mention except to say things will get better.

Anyway , that circus was both lavish and professional and spectacular while the one me and the girls saw yesterday…………ummmm…………..wasn’t.

When I was a kid we always went to the circus as a special treat. I don’t remember much about them except the clowns…….I hated the clowns………..they scared me and made me wet my bed. My Mum said it wasn’t the clown’s fault and that as much as they scared me it wasn’t normal for a 17 year old to be peeing in the bed…………..I still hate clowns to this day. I also remember a little about there being animals at the circus. I certainly remember the news some years ago that the British government had banned most circuses from having animals in them because someone was rude to a monkey or something. This probably was a good idea I am sure.

So I was surprised yesterday to see that the Moscow circus had animals……loads of them. Now the animal lovers and I are not normally in agreement as I believe it is every animals divine right to end up on my plate surrounded by a mountain of fries. However, I have always hated cruelty to…….well……anything and what I saw yesterday seemed cruel. First of all there were tigers who were so lethargic that if someone had gone up to them and attached a clamp to their bollocks they wouldn’t have even growl. Now I have no proof to back this up but to me it looked like either these tigers had been fed something….ummmm……soothing…………or these were Jamaican tigers.

The elephants looked like they had eaten their own dung and as they trotted around in a circle holding each others tails I felt desperately sorry for them and I felt very sorry for myself as I had paid £25 for the three of us to see this. I guess I saw the word “Moscow” and had hoped that there would be a few Latvian showgirls. But there wasn’t.

There was though two dwarfs juggling chainsaws and a couple called the Romanoffs. Mr Romanoff spent 20 minutes standing on one leg while balancing Mrs Romanoff on his nose ……………… that would have been good once ………but he did it over and over again. The finale was when he changed from standing on his left leg to his right leg.

Then there was the tightrope walker. Now I understand that taking your pants off on a tightrope suspended 50 feet in the air is amazing………..I can’t even take my pants off in the bathroom when I am desperate for a poo with out falling over. However, as he walked across the rope which was so high up that none of us could see that it was probably 4 feet wide I couldn’t help but think of some of the acts we used to have back in the old days at Carnival. they wouldn’t have been out of place in a circus and most were sodding better…….much better than the Moscow Crapov Circus I saw yesterday.

One of my all time favourites was a chap called Robert. He worked on our ships for many years and his strength and agility made him one of our most popular acts……..ever. Here he is back in the old, old days as a young man performing on a ship. Have a look at this and wait until you see his finale with the champagne bottle

Robert was always the CD’s first choice of entertainers and Robert and I brought out the Carnival Sensation, Carnival Imagination and Carnival Destiny together. Hailing from Australia I can honestly say that Robert was one of the most sincere and caring blokes I have ever met and he was very very funny. He probably still is but I am sad to say that after he and Vicky returned to Aussie we lost touch. However, he is still performing as you will see from this video. Here they are in Australia’s Got Talent.

During his time with me he met, fell in love and married one of the most beautiful dancers I have ever seen. Her name is Vicky and here they are

Robert is only four years younger than me…….and still has a body like that…….the bastard. I wish he and Vicky much success and hope one day we can persuade them to return for an encore performance with Carnival. Do any of you remember Robert the Great Excelsior?

Of course there were other great acts as well. Here are some of my other favourite.

JEAN CLAUDE – A foot juggler who despite having the handicap of being French was a brilliantly talented performer. His show featured his partner Heidi and his two little dummies – Mike and Tony who would have the audience in stitches. He was a great act who entertained Carnival audiences for many many years. I understand he is home in France relaxing and eating horse.

MANUEL ZUNIGA – I am sure many of you know Manuel and will have seen him or his nephews Manuel Jr and Victor. It was Manuel who set the scene for many of the acts these days and a double bill of Robert the Great Excelsior and Manuel Zuniga was what every CD dreamt about having. The Zunigas are still with us today and if you see the Zuniga name you will be guaranteed astounding juggling skills…………….and jokes about Taco Bell.

Of course for every Robert, Manuel and Jean-Claude there was an act in the old days that was quite simply dreadful. The one that sticks out to me was onboard the Holiday where I was a social host at the time and Gary Hunter was the incomparable cruise director.

The Wing Brothers were two Chinese plate spinners who had an incredible show. They erected poles on stage and to stirring classical music would spin plates on top of ten feet poles …… on a moving cruise ship. The audience sat with their mouths open right up until the point where the plates stopped spinning but stayed on top of the poles. That was probably because the plates had a hole the size of a Yak’s anus in them………it was their one and only performance with Carnival.

Anyway, that’s all for today. I will write from my hotel in Miami on Monday. I am flying with Virgin……….I hope they go all the way

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.

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