Saying Thank You

March 8, 2011 -

John Heald

When you have been sitting next to a woman on a plane for 8 hours who is wearing so much perfume that your lungs are on fire, and the stench of her Camel Scrotum Number 5 is flooding into your eyes and just when it can’t get any worse a ladies voice belonging to senior flight attendant called Darren, tells you that the planes in flight entertainment system works less than Charlie Sheen……then eight hours is like 700 years.

There are other things that stretch time too. Debarkation in Long Beach. Being stuck in traffic on the freeway. Sitting on the toilet after eating a huge chicken curry. Waiting for this sodding computer to start in the morning. Waiting for my wife to find something in her handbag. Waiting for security staff who has had to hold up the rest of the guests while they deal with Mr. and Mrs. Smuggler who have a bottle of rum shoved down their underpants. Trying on a pair of jeans in the cubicle of the Rochester Big and Tall shop in Miami in a room that is neither big nor tall.

And worst of all: writing a thank-you letter. I wrote one last weekend and it took exactly 14 million years. And worst of all sitting here, at my slow starting computer, in my underpants, trying to come up with a thank you blog to all the incredible bloggers who sailed with me last week………but nothing I seem to write seems to do them justice.

Thank you letters have always been a massive pain to write. I remember when I was little, my birthdays were always ruined because instead of being able to go ride my new bike or shoot my sister Suedrip in the head with my new bow and arrow, I’d be forced by my parents to sit down and thank my aunts and uncles for their gifts. How though, when you are eight, can you say thanks to Aunty Maureen and Uncle Les who have just bought you a new ruler and pencil set for school instead of the GI Joe Machine Gun you had asked them for.

Dear Aunty and Uncle Bastard,

While your present was totally crap, I did receive a bow and arrow which I will enjoy introducing your arses too when I see you next.

Love,

Your Nephew John

I have similar problems now I am old and grey. E-mail has given us a way to not have to put pen to paper to express our thanks for something but we are still expected to have to write one. For example, we have two friends here in Essex who invite us to dinner and although they are great friends I would rather eat the back end of a yak then what they put on the dinner table.

Heidi once entrusted me to write the thank you e-mail but it was a one and only time because I wrote “Thanks for a great evening and the wonderful meal which has allowed me some great time alone to sit and read on the toilet.” By the way, have you actually tried sitting down and writing a letter recently? I did, last week on the Carnival Glory. I decided that I would write a hand written letter to Mr. and Mrs. Kilmartin who wrote me a beautiful letter on their platinum note paper that deserved a similar reply. But I couldn’t……..because it appears I have lost the use of my right hand.

You see I don’t write anything anymore. I type blogs and Facebooks and schedules and Fun Times. I tried writing them a letter, I really did, but I had gotten as far as Dear Mr and Mrs Kil ………when I became exhausted and had to have a lie down. They never got their letter and three days later my arm feels as stiff as Tiger Wood’s thingy.

And there’s another thing…….since blogging and Facebooking has taken over my life….. my hand writing is worse than a drunk chimpanzee’s. I may even sell myself to the CIA because I could write down all the secret information, absolutely safe in the knowledge that if my letter is intercepted by the bad guys, no bugger will have a sodding clue what it says.

So letter writing and in particular “thank you” letter writing is left to Heidi who and if you will excuse my French ……..lives for this sh*t. If someone says “hello” to her in the street, she will send a thank you card. If we go out with friends she will send a thank you card, even if the food tasted like a baboon’s pancreas. And if they are in her list of best friends, she will not only send a thank you card but a thank you gift as well. Usually it’s soap…..which I don’t understand because I think it sends out the wrong message and that she may as well send over a can of deodorant with a note saying….”Use this, you smelly bastard.”

Still, If she is allowed to send a thank you for a lovely time card with a bar of Dove soap shoved in the envelope, then I should be allowed to send things to people who I haven’t enjoyed spending time with as payback. Stuff that really says “I had the worst time, I don’t like you, please never ever invite me again.” Things that shout “I hate you” like some IKEA flat pack furniture, a pair of my underpants……..in a frame. Or a cruise for two on the Norwegian Epic.

Anyway, I will find the right words to say thank you but first it’s time for some Q and A.

G.R from N.Y. Asked:

You have been talking a lot about smoking on your blog today and I want to point out something that as a smoker I found to be humiliating. Let me start by saying that I am a past Carnival passenger with my recent Miracle cruise being my third. I like the food and the service and always respect the rules when it comes to lighting up on the ship. But this notice on your cabin TV made my blood boil. It said SMOKING AREAS ONBOPARD. CHECK YOUR DAILY FUNTIMES FOR WHERE YOU CAN SMOKE. SMOKING CAUSES CANCER BETTER NOT TO SMOKE. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this. Is Carnival now part of the anti smoking establishment. If I go to Royal Caribbean’s boats will I be told I might get cancer during my vacation? As you can see, this has really made me mad and that’s why I have written to you as brand ambassador.

Thank you
G.R.

John Says:
Hello G.R. from N.Y.,

Well, let’s start with an apology first of all to you and all the other people I will be answering today for the delay in doing so. I also need to apologise for doubting you……….because that’s exactly what I did when I read this. “Yep………..bollocks, this is not true.” I did some checking, though, and have been told that it was not a company-authorised sign and was taped to the in-cabin TV by a crew member on one ship without authorisation. The sign has since been removed and the crew member had been reminded never to post such a sign again. While we have smoking rules onboard, it is not our place to lend advice to if or not they should smoke. So please accept my sincere apologies and my thanks to you both for letting me know about this.

Best wishes

John.

STILLMissingthesmokefreeparadise Asked:
JOHN – PLEASE REPLY

If Cruise Critic says it, it must be gospel. No lobster, eliminating turndown service, towel animals running loose around the ship, will it ever stop? I honestly find your ability to take all this absurd bovine defecation as calmly as you do astounding. You are, without a doubt, one individual who can take a punch and turn the other cheek. So, please do not eliminate your toilet humour (spelt incorrectly) or your beautiful je ne c’est quoi (pardon the French reference) that makes you the wonderful individual that you are. Your blog is a unique view into the world at large and the cruising industry in particular. You are a credit to this world. Continue their good work.

Your friend and comrade at sea,

JustJon (who STILLmissesthesmokefreeparadise)

John Says:
Hello STILLMissingthesmokefreeparadise,

It is a shame that one or two do tend to write things just to look like they are “in the know” when they are in fact to cruising what Charlie Sheen is to mental stability. Thanks for the kind words mate. We missed you at the bloggers cruise and hopefully we will get to see you next time.

Best wishes to you and MrsMissingthesmokefreeparadise.

John

Janet S Asked:

One reason that we avoid Carnival is the annoying overhead announcements. And it’s one reason that we enjoy Celebrity. When we docked at the port the Cruise Director would announce when we had been clear to get off the ship and what time we needed to be back which was what was needed. I am though forced to cruise with you for our class of 71 high school reunion group on the Freedom and need assurances that I won’t be disturbed by constant PA announcements pimping bingo and drink specials like the last time. I will be on the ship on March 12 so can you advise the ship not to make announcements.

John says:
Hello Janet S,

I have never considered myself to be a pimp but if that is the case I think I need to go and get a long purple coat and silver cane. I am sure that the announcements won’t disturb you Janet and I hope you and your high school friends have a wonderful time.

Best wishes,

John the Pimp

Nitalutjens Asked:
John, (Please answer when you get the time)

We are thinking about booking cruise on the Magic the week of Dec. 4, 2011. My birthday falls during this week and my fiance’ thought it would be a great gift. Of this, I do agree. One thing I would like to know is if the ship will be decorated for Christmas at this time or will it be too soon after Thanksgiving for this? We so enjoyed our FIRST CRUISE aboard the Carnival Conquest in Oct. 2010. I was ALOT nervous after getting on board but once things started, I was much impressed. I could not have asked for a better vacation as it had been years that either one of us had gotten away. I will continue to tell family and friends that they should plan a vacation around a CARNIVAL CRUISE. Glad that you are feeling better and send my best regards to Heidi and Kye as I know she was the best nurse ever!

Thank you,

Nita

John Says:
Hello Nitalutjens,

I do hope you book the cruise on your Carnival Magic. I can’t wait to show you our new ship and yes, she will be decorated that day in fact for Christmas. We can’t do it before as she will have just returned from her trans Atlantic voyage. I hope I get to see you onboard Nita and if you have any other questions please let me know.

Best wishes,

John

Simone Hart Asked:
Please respond.

My daughter auditioned for Britney Spears” in the Legends show but was not chosen. Not only was she clearly the best singer but the person who was chosen was a big fat girl and looked nothing like Britney. My daughter was so upset about this and has says she will never cruise with your company again. Tania will be auditioning for this coming season of American Idol and when you see her in the final Carnival is going to look so stupid. The people in your shows should be chosen for who has the best voice and looks the part and not by a bunch of drunk passengers.

Simone

John Says:
Hello Simone,

I have to start by saying that I think that it is somewhat cruel to say that someone does not deserve to be in the Carnival Legends show based on their size. Anyway, let me say how sorry I was to read that your daughter was so upset, please let her know that I apologise that this happened. Our shows are all about fun and we ask the audience to decide who will be best for each spot and while drinks are served, to suggest that the audience were all drunk is, respectfully ……..wrong. Anyway, I wish your daughter Tania all the best in her audition on American Idol and I hope that we do see her in the final.

Best wishes,

John

CRUISE CRITIC MEMBER Chief8 Asked:
John — Need a reply and answer to this!!!!!!!

My first cruise on Carnival for some years was overall OK and the food has certainly gotten better than my last visit on the Destiny in 1997. But I have A MAJOR COMPLAINT. The cabin next to us had 2 kids the oldest was about 10 years old and the youngest looked to be about 7. They had 2 cabins and left the kids by their selves in one and the parents stayed in a cabin about 6 doors door the hall. The parents would go to the shows and drink all night and leave these kids by themselves unsupervised from after dinner until after 2 am. Any other cruise line would have done something because the noise they made was disgusting and they had the TV on so loud I had to bang on their door every night to tell them to SHUT UP and go to bed. I have written to Carnival but so far have gotten no answer. I deserve compensation for this!!!

John Says:
Hello Cruise Critic Member Chief8,

Well the positive from all of this is the fact that you feel the food has improved since your last cruise. This is great to hear. I am so sorry that these children disturbed your rest. I didn’t see in your posting that you called the guest services desk or security to tell them what was happening. Did you do this? It certainly is not and should not be your responsibility to have to bang on the door. It is hard for us to control the actions of parents, though, and I must admit that it seems unfair to leave children on their own. So, I will certainly ask someone to contact you.

Best Wishes,

John

Pinkbarbie Asked:
Dear John, please reply when you have time (no hurry)

I hope all is going well since I last saw you on the Carnival Conquest. I hope your daughter likes her cowgirl hat with the tiara we gave you. My husband still says you’re the best CD we’ve had on all of our Carnival trips. I am writing because I have a fairly simple question that you may be able to answer because my PVP was unsure. I am coordinating a group of ladies and girls to go on the Nov 6 sailing on the Carnival Conquest. We will be celebrating my mother’s retirement from many years of teaching. Since this will only be a six day sailing instead of a seven day, will there still be two elegant nights, or just one? We want to be prepared. Thanks and can’t wait till I get a chance to sail with you again

Christy Richardson

John Says:
Hello Pinkbarbie,

Like it…………she loves it and thanks once again for your wonderful kindness. There will be one elegant night on your cruise as below

Sunday, Nov 06- Galveston, TX 4 pm
Monday, Nov 07 – Fun Day at Sea – ELEGANT NIGHT
Tuesday, Nov 08 – Fun Day at Sea
Wednesday, Nov 09 – Grand Cayman 7 am 4 pm
Thursday, Nov 10 – Cozumel 10 am – 6 pm
Friday, Nov 11 – Fun Day at Sea
Saturday, Nov 12 – Galveston, TX

I am sure you and the ladies will have a great time and if you have time to drop me a note on my Facebook page a week before you sail so I can return the kindness you showed Kye that would be great. My best wishes to you and your husband.

John

The Plastows Asked:
JOHN!!!! PLEASE REPLY!!!

My DH and I are going to celebrate our 25th anniversary on the Conquest. We have been looking forward to what will be our 5th cruise but we are both very concerned because of what we have read on cruise critic. Here is what I am talking about

http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=75436
http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=74343

We also read on your blog and on cruise critic comments that the Texan passengers were rude and obnoxious. So you can see that we are concerned and so I need you to our minds at rest. Have we made a big mistake?

John Says:
Hello The Plastows,

No! Absolutely not. While I respect the fact that everyone has an opinion, that is exactly what they are, opinions. I have to admit that I didn’t open the links you sent me, I didn’t see the point.

What I can do though is tell you that if I was to have the time to search Cruise Critic I would find 10 positive reviews of the Carnival Conquest for every one negative……..at least. I was there last year and had a fantastic time and as well as my personal recommendation let me also tell you that in our guest review rating system Carnival Conquest is right up there in terms of favourable comments from guests. I have no fear in promising you that you and your DH will have a wonderful cruise and a wonderful anniversary.

Best wishes,

John

Larry and Angie Asked:
John ~

Will there be a repositioning / transatlantic cruise offered from the West Coast to Sydney in 2012 on the Spirit? Would love the opportunity to experience that vacation!

John Says:
Hello Larry and Angie,

Yes indeed there will be and I will be announcing details on this very soon.

Best wishes,

John

And that’s all for today. I will continue to answer as many questions as I can here on the blog but if its time sensitive, remember, you always have Facebook.

And so let me try and say thank you to those who cruised with me last week. Well, in my humble opinion it was a……a huge success. I shall of course wait to see what you all felt but hopefully it will be all positive. There were lots of familiar faces and lots of new ones as well. The activities were fun and the gifts of a free 8×10 photo, photo album, T-shirt, baseball hat, bloggers bag and the last of the bobbleheads were all enjoyed I think.

There are too many people to thank personally but I would like to thank all the beards from Miami: Jordan the Sandal, Eric the Beard, Jay the Recently Married, Peter the Hair, and Stephanie the Porterhouse. Also my assistant Stephanie, Chris Prideaux, Al Ernst and Lewis Nixon and Stephanie Herrera in the office who put the whole thing together.

And of course I must thank Captain Rassello and the brilliant crew of the Carnival Glory who all shone brightly and received glowing reviews from the bloggers, many of whom are Platinum and or Milestone guests. I was very very proud of them.

Thanks also to George Solano who allowed me to do the Marriage Show and to be on stage again was just fantastic.

Then the bloggers………well you were all wonderful and gave me so many reasons to be cheerful. Thank you all for your fun and for your kind words and support and ……. well ……. you know…… just thanks for being you. A special thank you to Big Ed and his Evil Krewe………….here’s why.

Great job and along with wonderful personal donations from Carolyn and Linda and from Kye Heald……. the ship sent over $5,000 to the children of St. Jude last week. And that was the icing on the cake.

The blog and the Facebook page have spawned so many friendships and those friendships were cemented once again last week. Thank you so very much everyone. I hope we can do it all again next year. Carnival Magic anyone?

So it feels good to write a blog again and even though this week will be disrupted a bit. Tomorrow I travel to London to do some filming for Carnival UK and the Sky Travel Channel here in the UK. This means I will be relegated to Facebook only tomorrow but will return in full force on Thursday.

Next Monday the blog will have a new look, a look we introduced to the bloggers last week and a new look blog which received a thunderous round of applause from those gathered. They are sworn to secrecy and have been threatened with having to wear the pair of underpants I wore for 8 hours on the flight home yesterday …….as a hat……..should they divulge anything.

What I can tell you is that Eric and his beard have made a brand new site that I know you will love. It is full of gimmicks and gadgets and yet keeps the basic recipe that has gotten this blog 9,200,000 views. That recipe is that I write a blog and you can post a comment telling me you like me or that I have a large white arse, bent teeth, the talent of a dead hamster and that you would rather walk round the main square in Tripoli holding a sign that says Colonel Kaddafi Has Rumpy Pumpy With Camels…..then ever be on the same ship as me. Yep, that will all be there but the other features are truly brilliant and feature……..yep…….John Heald ring tones. The world has truly gone mad.

Over on Facebook I have tried to keep the news current and hope that you have been appreciating and enjoying those updates.

Talking of updates it’s going to be an exciting few weeks. We will be releasing the remaining 2012 itineraries and that includes the Carnival Spirit repositioning cruises. And over the coming weeks we will also be releasing some exciting the news about your Carnival Breeze…….and I can tell you now……….that is going to be news you won’t want to miss.

As I write I am shoving a piece of cold roast beef and a lump of cheese between two slices of wheat bread down my gob (www.urbandictionary.com) all washed down with a cup of tea. I was thinking of how nice it would be to have a job where regardless you had an hour for lunch…..or more. When I worked in London many years ago lunch was never hurried and often included a beer or three.

I then realized that those days have gone. I was in the Miami offices as you know the week before the bloggers cruise and saw that all the beards eat at their desks or in their cubicles…….. every one gets their lunch from the Grab ’n’ Go cafe. They then return to their cubicles and offices to eat their tofu on toast while continuing to check e-mails and look at spread sheets. When they “reach out” to someone to talk about some “blue sky thinking,” they do so in between bites of a sandwich.

However…….you won’t find this in other countries or for that matter. Do they have Grab ’n’ Go shops in Italy? Mama Mia…..of course not. I will be heading to the shipyard in three weeks to collect your Carnival Magic and over there things are very different. Over there, they’re still downing a couple of bottles of wine at lunchtime, and then sleeping it off until six. I have noticed during the few times I have been in the Carnival offices that if they do go out for lunch it’s only an excuse to get some more work done. And so is dinner, and so, increasingly, is breakfast. In fact, they seem to be running out of meals over which Gerry and the Carnival executives can have meetings. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have decided where the Carnival Breeze will homeport over a midnight feast.

And who drinks at lunch time anymore? I was talking to a Carnival senior beard about this and was told that at a recent lunch meeting a company old-timer ordered a glass of wine and a deathly hush descended as though they had just farted…….. Very loudly.

It wasn’t so long ago that you finished work at 5.30 pm irrespective of what you happened to be doing at the time. Ruben Rodriguez, our executive vice president could have been on a very important call with our President Gerry Cahill: “You see Gerry, my plan for the Carnival Breeze is to replace the disco with a Latvian Lap Dancing Club where for $20 and a Fun Ship Special the girls will……oh sorry Gerry, it’s 5:30 pm, time to go home, can we pick this up tomorrow?”

And get this. My friend Chris, our director of entertainment said he didn’t use 5 days of vacation time owed to him last year and that is normal these days.

Normal………my arse. You always took your vacations and if you sneezed………. you went to bed ….…. for a month. These days if you catch some dangerous tropical disease, you must get the deal done before your lungs liquefy and your testicles drop off. I expect to work seven days a week, every week while I am on board and the Carnival shoreside people do, as well.

They go out at night with Borg-style cell phone headset attachments in case the office wants to get in touch and of course they all have their Eyephones and or Raspberries. At least though most if not all turn theirs off when they go on vacation and when they do they leave an “out of office message” You know the type of thing:

“I will be out of the office for the next 2 weeks with limited access to e mail.”

I find these very annoying. In the old days we wouldn’t need to do that. We would be on vacation and that was that. But I am not one to talk of course as my raspberry is always on, 24 hours a day every day. However, I will be turning it off tonight because Heidi has promised me some rumpy pumpy and due to the fact I haven’t seen her for 5 weeks I am very excited and am making all necessary preparations. This includes, buying a new pair of underpants and dropping a couple of Nyquil’s in Kye’s bedtime milk. And I promised Heidi I would turn my Raspberry off as well during the event and if anyone e mails me they will get this message:

“I will be out of the office for the next 4 minutes.”

Goodnight.

Your friend,

John

P.S Click here for the Carnival Conquest Funtimes.

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.