Peter Speaks In Proper English

March 16, 2011 -

John Heald

You may remember in Monday’s blog that I got a bollocking from Geoff N about my use of British spelling in a blog read mostly by Americans. I wanted to answer him by screaming “Who invented the language you apple pie eating bastard” but I didn’t……….as that would have been unprofessional.

However, he wasn’t the only one to administer a bollocking to me about my language because I used the word “trash” instead of “rubbish” while talking to my father on the phone. And being a retired high school principal he turned into William Shakespeare and threatened his footeth wouldeth be forever upeth my arseeth………..if I ever spoke American in his presence again.

But it’s not just me. Kids here in the UK all speak like they are on the set of Glee. “Whatever” ……..“Shuuuuuut up” are the watchwords of today’s British children.

I guess that with Disney’s 24 hour channel on TV there is some excuse for this. But it’s not just the kids. I was with my mate Alan the other day and we were talking about something and he said “that sucks.” Now a 12 year old saying “what ev eeerrr” is one thing but a 46 year old man from Southend on Sea saying “that sucks” is not OK. Surely he must realize (spelt incorrectly Mr Geoff) saying this makes him look like a stupid sod.

My father has always said that American speak is slowly overtaking “proper” English. Well Dad, I am sorry to say it’s not slowly overtaking ………it’s here…….and has overtaken “proper English” like a drag race between an Aston Martin……….and a hamster on a skateboard.

There are so many to choose from. “Can I get…” has replaced “May I have…” when ordering in a restaurant. Estate agents are not called that any more; they are real estate agents and they don’t sell flats any more, only “apartments.”

Biscuits are now cookies, which would have my grandmother spinning in her grave. We don’t go to the cinema, we go to the movies and God help us……the loo has become the restroom. Bugger me……….is nothing sacred?

I’ve nothing against Americanisms when used by people called Hank Yankedoodle. It’s when people called William St John Smyth use them ………. it’s just wrong. But the battle is lost. It’s elevator not lift. It’s vacation not holiday and the way this is going it won’t be long until the Queen is saying “It is wonderful to meet y’all.”

There is one saying that gets the hairs on my ass (spelt incorrectly) standing on end and it happens on the ships to me all the time. And I can’t help myself. I know this is rude but it’s the one thing I just cannot stand and if someone asks me I have to give them the same answer. It usually goes something like this:

GUEST “Excuse me, do you know the best way to get to St Mark’s Square”

ME “Yes”

And then I just stand there……………..staring. I mean, the question was “Do I know the best way to get to St. Mark’s Square” Well…………….yes I do thanks.

If you had asked, “Can you tell me the best way to get to St Mark’s Square?” I would have answered yes, followed by an exactly how to do so. This used to be something only Americans and Canadians would say but now the Brits are doing it to. And it’s a shame.

Still, there’s one US word that we haven’t yet adopted and it’s the one that they use for “arse,” but which we use for something else entirely. Yes, when we start asking, “Does my fanny look big in this?” the empire will have fallen.

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

Joe Garcia Asked:
Hello John:

Please Reply

I was about to book my first Carnival cruise many years and now I am really nervous to do so. The last time I cruised was with my parents on the old ship Celebration and I had a total blast. Now I am married with 2 kids and was thinking about going on the Paradise. We live in Orange County, California and this would be just great for us but I saw the reviews on Cruise Critic and now I am not sure what to do. Here is what folks are saying.

http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm

http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=79317

It was while reading the Cruise Critic boards that I came across your blog and decided after reading it that you would be the best person to ask if this ship was the right choice for me and my family. Thank you for helping me.

Jose

I was trying to remember the name of the Cruise Director on the Celebration. He was a magician and had a lion on the ship and his show was the best.

John Says:
Hello Joe Garcia

Let me answer your last question first. The CD you are referring to is called Rand Woodbury and he did indeed have a cougar that lived onboard. His name was Geo and the show as you said was brilliant. Rand is no longer a CD but does his show (minus Geo, who has retired) on two of our ships. So, welcome back to Carnival and please remember one simple thing. If you were to go to the place on Cruise Critic where they store the reviews, you will find many, many more positive ones than negative. I didn’t read the links you sent me Joe and I want to be honest and tell you that. You see, these are based on opinions and the only opinion that matters is yours. I can tell you that you and your family will have the best of times if you go with an open mind and ready to let the crew serve and entertain you. So, read the negative ones, read all the positive ones and then decide.

Tell you what…………..has any other blog reader sailed on the Carnival Paradise recently and would like to say a few words for Joe? Please do if you are able. Have a great cruise Joe and my best wishes to you and the family.

John

Richmond Gal Asked:
please reply

My fiancé and I will be sailing the Legend out of Tampa for our Honeymoon in July. I can’t wait! He… well, he is having cruiser remorse. He’s starting to regret booking the trip because we have cruised together twice before. He feels like our honeymoon won’t be special enough because it will be like a repeat vacation. We will certainly be sitting front row for the Newly Wed / Not-so-Newly Wed Game (that is a souvenir not to be missed if we can make it on the show). We also have a balcony booked for the very first time. I’m looking for other ideas to make this his dream honeymoon. I basically begged to go on a cruise, and now I feel guilty because I think he is going to be disappointed. Any suggestions on how to make this trip different than the others??? So he doesn’t feel like he’s missing out or repeating the other vacations? Thanks in advance– and thank you for your wonderful blog!

John Says:
Hello Richmond Gal

Edible underwear, jello and handcuffs.

Best wishes
John

John Actually Says:
Hello Richmond Gal

Sorry……couldn’t resist the edible underwear joke. I bought Heidi a pair once but I ate them before I got home. Anyway…….I am sure that the staff will make this a honeymoon you will never ever forget. Please book a meal in the steakhouse and that night take a walk on the deck, under the stars and remind yourselves just how much you love each other. The balcony will be perfect for a morning cup of coffee and a late night glass of champagne which if you remind me two weeks before you sail I will send you and…..I can’t promise……….but if you remind me on my Facebook page 2 weeks before you sail I will do my best to get you in the newly wed game and send you a little something as well to help celebrate.

Best wishes to you both
John

Rochelle Phipps Asked:
Hi John,

Reply if you have time

I am a relatively recent reader of your blog. I came across your blog after going on the Carnival Glory last August here in NY. First let say that George was a great CD at first I was surprised at your openness in the blog because I am one of those with a Facebook page with very little info. However, over the past few months I have come to appreciate your candor and I have learned so much from your blogs. I am not a frequent cruiser, having only been on 5 cruises (all Carnival) since 1986 but your blogs have encouraged me to try and change that habit so that I can try out the many things I have learned on this blog from you and my fellow bloggers. I am now trying to get my family to go on the special 8 day Christmas cruise out of San Juan in Dec. And hopefully go to Alaska in 2012.

As a New Yorker, today’s blog about the meeting of the three ships made me feel real great about my city. As the historical person that I am, I spent some of my morning looking at some of your old blogs from the beginning and came across a Q&A from your Oct 11, 2007 blog that dealt with this today’s blog. Below is a copy of the post.

“GREG BALDASARRI – What a good question. What will the gifted people at Cunard do to top the soon to be launched magnificence that is Queen Victoria? Answer, I have no idea but it is going to be fun finding out. I wonder if this blog thingy will be around in 2010? Hope all is well with you mate and thanks as always for another great posting.” Oct 11, 2007.

Over three years later, we are past the year 2010 and Cunard has added a beautiful ship to their fleet and most importantly your blog is still around and going strong. Keep doing what you are doing, but make sure you take care of your family first. Hopefully 3 years from now, I will still be reading your blog and will have had the opportunity to have you as my cruise director.

Rochelle

John Says:
Hello Rochele Phipps

It is indeed very apt that the beards should send me your question to answer today as we have a special Cunard blog coming up in a moment. I am so very thankful to you for taking the time to read my daily musings. I realise that they are not for everyone but when people take the time to tell me how much they appreciate what I do…..well……..it certainly gives me the energy to continue to write each day. I hope that I will still be writing in years to come and that you will be there to read it. And I hope that you get to see Alaska next year and if there is anything I can do to help you please let me know. Best wishes to you and the family and thank you again for the kind words.

John

Jason Buckley Asked:
Hi John,

I am starting to read your blog more and more as I just booked my first ever cruise for April 3rd 2011 on the GLORY, and I decided to go all out with a suite (7329), since 1: its my first cruise, and 2: I am cruising for my birthday April 6th…you better Belize, that I will be in Belize on my birthday!!! Anyways, what I was hearing about was the “chef’s” table that is only offered one day a cruise for only 12-14 people. I have heard from different people I have spoken with 2 different things about booking this. First was from the awesome and nice lady named Heidi who I actually booked through, she said that I need to get a hold of you for the booking. Second, I keep getting a call from a guy named Theo, who says I can only book this once I board the ship…

Who is right? I am a chef by trade out here in the Bay Area California, and have eaten at many fine restaurants at the chefs table and I always absolutely love the experience, which means I really don’t want to miss this chance!!! I have heard it includes a behind the scene tour of the kitchen as well, which would be awesome to see, as I can only imagine what it is like to cook 24 hours a day for thousands of people! I hope that you can help with an advanced booking, and if you can, next time you are in the San Francisco California area, I can get you hooked up at my restaurant! Thanks for anything that you might be able to do in advanced!

I am so excited, only a little over 2 months to go!!! I hope I can get a response by you in that time!

Take care,
Jason Buckley

John Says:
Hello Jason Buckley

I am not sure who Theo is but it doesn’t matter as I am definitely able to get you a Chef’s Table spot for your cruise. This is an experience that you will truly enjoy and I hope that you can find a few moments to tell me all about it when you get home. It does include a tour of the galley while it is in operation so please let me take care of this for you and you will receive confirmation in a few days. Have a brilliant time.

Best wishes
John

Stephanie AKA Hockey Addict Asked:
Hi John!!(Please reply whenever you get time, no hurry at all!)

Well, our January cruise is officially over and of course we are super sad! I wanted to make sure you knew that ALL of the crew on the Carnival Fascination were fantastic, AGAIN. This was our 4th cruise on her and she is still perfect! ALL of the crew were super friendly and sweet! I wanted to let you know of some of your shining stars on the Carnival Fascination. Some of them we cruised with in October, and some new ones we haven’t met before.

Where to start…. that is the hard part. I guess I will start by saying this was kind of a cruise of firsts for hubby and I. This was the first cruise where we had a female CD, female Steward-ess and assistant Steward-ess, and a female assistant in the dining room!

Jen Baxter…. WOW… I was reading some of the things that were said on Cruise Critic. I of course went with an open mind! I loved Jen. She was very friendly, energetic, funny, sweet and would stop and talk to you any time! It would be my pleasure to sail with her anytime! She is a true gem!

Our Steward-ess’… I know I am going to mess up the spelling of their names but I will try…. Oksana and Alana were super sweethearts. I have never had a monkey towel animal and hubby had gone to Oksana without me knowing and told her that I have never had one and that I really wanted one. One night she made my monkey, AND she also made the frog and a puppy. (the smaller version of the dog) OK so I am a kid at heart and LOVE the towel animals. I screamed so loud when I saw them, I could have sworn that she would hear me all the way down in her cabin! The next morning after breakfast we ran up to our room to drop off our cameras and there was a kitten towel animal! I’ve never had one made for me during the middle of the day and it took me by surprise! This time Oksana was in the hall and I think she heard me scream! She just giggled at me when I went to thank her. Little things like this make me happy and smile…. and both of them put a smile on our faces the whole cruise! I think they spoiled us…. ok, I know they did! They took perfect care of us and I hope we get to see them again one day!

When we first stepped onto the Lido deck at embarkation I told hubby and the other couple that we were sailing with that I had to look for “Ninja”. Ninja is a bar waiter from Indonesia that we sailed with in October. He took such good care of us. When I saw Ninja standing on the Lido deck talking to a group of people I was so excited. I was very happy to see him and I knew that we would have some fun with him on board again with us! Ninja’s birth name is I Nengah. I don’t know how we started calling him Ninja in October but it stuck…. I guess when I looked at his name tag the first time with all of those Fun Ship Specials running through my veins, that is what I saw! He is super funny and friendly and he deserves acknowledgment for running around that Lido deck, making us laugh, and being super sweet!

Amy from Mexico City…. well, that’s what we call her… it’s a long story so I won’t get into it or bore you…. When I walked into the Passage to India bar the first night and saw her in there I walked up to her and asked if she was Amy from Mexico City, she looked at me and got a big grin on her face…. she said… oh my gosh!! Gave me a big hug and she said she was happy to see me. In October she was our Bar waitress in the dining room that always had our drinks waiting for us. She remembered us and we went and talked to her a couple times during the cruise. Her real name is Alny and she is from Thailand. She had one more 4 day cruise before she went home. Her next contract is on the Carnival Splendor. I told her that she is lucky that she is going there and that I thought it was a compliment to her because Carnival seems like they are getting a lot of good people lined up to go there. She blushed and thanked me. She is so easy to talk with and a true sweetheart. I also sailed with Felipe in the past and LOVE him too!

We got really lucky and got to get off of the ship in Half Moon Cay. The crew had told us that they have been unable to tender guests for the past 2 months due to bad seas. In October there was a thunderstorm so we missed it and had a day at Freeport instead. We’ve been there 3 times now and we will never get tired of it! We rented the Cabana and it was worth every penny. The new bar that they added to the beach is really cool. I just hope they don’t add too much more…. I think what is there now is perfect!

I can not forget our fabulous dining room staff and Maitre D’. It’s had for me to admit that I can’t remember his name. I always remember stuff like that. I guess I am getting old! His theme song is 007… you know who that is, right?!?! Just kidding… anyway…. he was all over that dining room every night talking to all of the guest’s. He was the first Maitre D’ that I have seen that got up and danced with all of us. Very professional and fun! (Sensation dining room)

Anytime Dining. This was the first time that we have chosen Anytime Dining and we will always choose this from now on. It’s perfect for us. I am so glad that Carnival added this! And of course the food was excellent every meal in the dining room, Lido and those early morning BLT’s from room service!

The first night when we went to the dining room we had asked for a table for four. (2 couples) We were told it would be a short wait and they gave us one of the beeper thingy’s that could be used anywhere on the ship except our rooms. About 10 minutes later the beeper thingy went off and we headed to the dining room. There we met our 3 servers. Tri, our head waiter, Antonius our Team waiter and Ni Made our Assistant waiter. I asked Tri if all 3 of them were going to be taking care of us and he said yes…. I soon saw why…. they have quite a few tables to take care of at the same time and Tri needed the help of Ni Made and Antonius. Let me tell you, these 3 are the BEST. They are another perfect example of why we love Carnival and will never go to another cruise line. They made our dining room experience so memorable and I will never forget them. After the first night in there we asked for them every night. We didn’t care if we had to wait 2 hours. We had to have them serve us. I couldn’t say enough nice things about them. Ni Made even got me to get up and dance with her! That doesn’t happen much! And of course…. I teared up like a baby saying goodbye. =(

Eli was our Assistant CD. He hosted the comedy club, I think you call it something else now, and was very funny. He also was in the Liar’s club. All 5 of the crew members that participated in the Liar’s club was fantastic. We laughed the hardest during this show then any of the comedian’s! I wish I could remember all of their names, there goes that old age setting in again!

That is all that I can think of for now…. if I think of anything else I will pop you a note on Facebook. PLEASE forward all of these people to Carnival for me. I haven’t gotten an online comment card via email and really want them to know that all of the crew were perfect and the ones I mentioned above are true stars in your Carnival family.

Thank you for being here for all of us to answer our 1,000,000,000,001 questions. I appreciate you, and I know so many others do too!

Wishing you, Heidi and Kye all the best!!

I hope this wasn’t too long!

Steph

P.S. We am still wanting to sail with you. We have to see where you will be late 2011!

Oh! I almost forgot! Don’t be upset that you wrote what you did about your late night phone call! (I saw on FB that you were feeling bad about writing it) That was uncalled for! They should have never done that in my opinion! That’s crazy!!! Some people just think they are special I guess!

John Says:
Hello Stephanie AKA Hockey Addict

Brilliant! What an absolutely brilliant review. Let me start by saying a huge thank you for sitting down to write this. I know it must have taken a long time to do so but we all appreciate you telling us about your cruise. I want to say a big thank you for telling me about Jen Baxter. I am very happy to read that you found her to be an excellent CD. The crew you mentioned are the shining example of what our crew are all about and each and everyone you mentioned will all receive a copy of this via the hotel director and the Fantasy class vice president and that I can tell you will make their day. I hope we get to sail together one day soon and I thank you for your loyalty to Carnival and your kind words of support for me and the blog. It was as I said a brilliant review. Best wishes to you and yours.

John

Seth C Asked:
John,

I have to tell you how sick to the stomach I am of you sending free gifts to people on demand. I am a Platinum cruiser and why have I spent thousands of dollars on cruises when all someone has to do to get a table with the Chef, fruit baskets and other gifts is to tell you that its their anniversary etc and you send them whatever they want. It is not fair and I GUARANTEE other Platinum passengers will agree. REPLY TO THIS PLEASE

Guarantee

John Says:
Hello Seth C

Let me say first of all a big thank you for your loyalty for Carnival and congratulate you on your Platinum status. I hope you are enjoying all the benefits this brings. I am sorry though that I have to say how me sending someone a bottle of champagne or a few apples to someone to help celebrate a special occasion hurts or affects you? I try to help as many people as I can and if you were to ask I would be honoured to help you as well. I can assure you that nobody gets a free place at The Chef’s Table from me though. I hope we get to sail together one day soon and if there is anything I can do for you please let me know.

Best wishes
John

Helen Asked:
Hi John

I have a question for you… for all of us that are not American citizens, (Aliens) disembarking in Miami is a breeze, fill out the form on board, go to a separate line to clear customs but my concern is Tampa, I have booked Legend and thinking of cancelling and leaving out of Miami instead for the following reason. I have been told that on the last day of the cruise I will have to show up at 6 30 in morning to clear customs while on the ship in the likes of the theatre. Why is that we can not get through USA customs like we do in Miami? It makes our last day of the cruise very long, considering most of have a very long trip to get home. IE last cruise I was off the ship by 9:45 in morning and arrived back in Canada and to our home at 8:30 at night. Can not anything be done to ease clearing customs in Tampa? I know customs is not a Carnival job but can Carnival work with them to come up with something better?

Thanks

John Says:
Hello Helen

I am sorry to say but Carnival has no control at all as to how our guests are processed through United States Customs and Border Protection. They decide when and how and it is different in each home port but non US citizens do not have to disembark any earlier than others. You will be called off by your tag or zone number which you will receive from your stateroom steward on the last day of the cruise. Please don’t worry. It’s going to be a long morning of travelling regardless but the Carnival Legend is a magnificent ship and she will give you so many memories to look back on during the journey home.

Have a wonderful cruise

Best wishes
John

Paul S Asked:
John Please reply

My wife and me will be with you on the Magic in July and are trying to decide what tour to take in Dubrovnik. I am thinking about the country home tour in Konavle. Have you done this and is it any good. Thanks so much

Paul and Terri

John Says:
Hello Paul S

Ahhhh the Country Home Tour in Knovale. This was always one of Heidi and my favourite tours………anywhere. It is a pure example of how they used to live and how they live now ….. and you will see that there is very little difference. The home is situated deep in the heart of the Croatian countryside and has seen five generations live there. They have seen good times and bad times and the bedtimes of course meaning the early 90s when civil war saw many thousands perish. The family were forced to run to the hills and the Bosnian forces actually overtook their home and it was only when the war ended that they were able to return. The family are virtually self sufficient as they have always been and they will show you how they grow their own vegetables and still use donkey power to press the olive oil that is made there.

After a tour of the countryside and gardens and the house itself you will sit down as a family and enjoy a traditional Croatian lunch remembering everything…and I mean everything is grown or raised right there. The family is also musicians and…..… well ……. actually ……hold on ……. I am going to stop there because I don’t want to spoil the surprises. Let me just say this ……….. you will never forget this trip and the families’ amazing hospitality. It is so nice to offer to bring a gift but it really is not needed. Just the fact that you are visiting them and of course the money they take from us when you buy the excursion is more than thank you enough. Take a photo with them or just shake their hand. They have been through so much yet as you will see…….they are a family united ……….and oh yes………watch out for grandma and her bottle of potato vodka!

See you soon

Best wishes to you both
John

Carnival Platinum Cruiser Asked:
John,

Reply:

One subject which I read on Cruise Critic all the time is the desire among Platinum cruisers for a “Platinum Past Guest Party” – or similar get together. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity do one so why not Carnival? It seems that Platinum rewards compared to other lines are poor. Look what CC members said when I asked

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1309742&highlight=brandonlees

We would all be interested to read your reply and defence!!!! Probably though like all my posts you will ignore it and instead to continue to bask in the glory your pathetic cheerleaders give you.

John Says:
Hello Carnival Platinum Cruiser

I will start by saying that once again, I didn’t read the link. I can’t talk about other cruise lines and what they do but I can say that I agree that we should absolutely hold a separate past guest party for our Platinum and Milestone guests and I continue to promote this idea to the senior beards. Let’s see what happens when the loyalty program changes are announced. I wish this would be soon because I have been talking about this for far too long now. Anyway, I would love to discuss this more with you but I am off to so some basking…………naked. Best wishes and thanks again for your loyalty

John

Alison D Asked:
Hi John,

Please reply.

This is rather a strange request but if anyone can help with it you can. I want to propose to my girlfriend. Yes, I am a girl too and that’s my dilemma. You see my partner has always wanted a romantic proposal and I thought that while we are on the Dream I would make her Dream so to say come true.

My question is that if I was to ask you to help me arrange this during a show or on a stage in front of the rest of the passengers, could you and as important do you think that the rest of the passengers would be uncomfortable. We live in Orlando and two lesbians walking the street hand in hand is nothing unusual but I am not so naive to think that this is accepted everywhere. So I am in your hands Mr John. We cruised with you on the Legend and were part of the Goth group which I am SURE you will remember. We cruise in August and I know I am way ahead of myself here but I have read that you are months behind on answering your questions so I thought it best to write now.

Thank you so much

Alison

John Says:
Hello Alison D

Well I certainly do remember the Goth cruise, especially the man that had wings, black eye balls, sharpened front teeth and his wife who had no problems showing the rest of the ship her 2 new purchases………..if you know what I mean.

I would be happy to help you arrange a public proposal during or just before a show. Maybe elegant night would be good and if this is something you are interested in please let me know.

As for if this would upset anyone. I will admit it would be a first for me but I honestly don’t think it would upset anyone so let’s move forward with this shall we? Please let me know if you wish me to start arrangements. Best wishes to you both

John

That’s all for today. Let’s take a break and this week all the cruise line presidents are gathered at recently renamed Cruise Shipping Miami Convention — it will always be Seatrade to me — for the annual pretend we like each other festival. One of those there is Cunard’s President and our man in London Mr. Peter Shanks. Here is his latest blog written just for us and I know as always that you will enjoy and appreciate his passionate writing.

Here then is Peter.

Queen Mary 2 at her best…

I do so much enjoy spending time on Queen Mary 2. Over recent months understandably many of us at Cunard Line have been nurturing Queen Elizabeth into her new career at sea. Spending time back on Queen Mary 2 has firmly reminded me of just how special she is. I joined in Sydney, and I have already written about the very special Service we had onboard for Australian Veterans. Leaving Sydney we sailed to New Zealand, spending a day in Wellington and I write this as the sun sets and we will arrive in Auckland in the morning. I have just snapped the view from my balcony;

This leg of the voyage has become especially poignant following the tragic events in Christchurch. We were meant to sail into Christchurch but had to go to Wellington instead. There was a lot of compassion onboard for Christchurch and rightly so. Whilst I was discussing with the Hotel Manager how we should start a collection for the Relief Appeal, one of the reception team came into the office to say that a guest was asking how they could donate to the appeal. So we were at one with our guests and we have since been collecting. On arrival into Wellington, and unbeknown to me , our Food and Beverage Team unloaded 5,000 bottles of water, and through the Port Agent arranged for it to be collected by HMS Canterbury of the New Zealand to be taken down to Christchurch. I say unbeknown to me — I was aware we were looking at doing something — but the F+B Team know me well enough that they did not have to ask.

What a lovely city Wellington is. It was a Sunday and many people were out on the beautiful harbor front. I took the shuttle bus into town and sat down over a coffee with the local paper and read of the distressing events in Christchurch. I have always admired New Zealanders — I hate to admit it but they are very good at Rugby and for a nation so far away from everywhere — they are very resilient and very successful. As we sailed out of Wellington there was a full rainbow to the port side of Queen Mary 2 — and I had a strange sense of the power of nature, nature that can deliver tragic consequences through earthquakes and at the same time reveal its true beauty.

I had two reasons for being on Queen Mary 2 — not that I normally need reasons. Firstly to spend time with our guests and the Ship’s Company and secondly to walk every area of the ship in preparation for the refit we have coming up in November of this year. And over the last few days I have been reminded of many of the special things about Queen Mary — and I thought I should share them with you. So, in no particular order, here come of the special things about Queen Mary 2 that I have witnessed over the last few days…

Secret of the Library — Up on deck 8 forward you will find our Bookshop and Library with over 16,000 books in many languages. I came across a delightful Australian couple who had found the secret — four white leather chairs and sofas that have a panoramic view over the bow of Queen Mary 2 — they looked so happy, so relaxed – and told me so — marvelous.

Jazz — Walking past the refurbished Chart Room, a classy jazz quartet playing, dancing, laughter, clink of champagne glasses — a wonderful night out to match any jazz venue.

Hosting the Captain’s Table — I will let you in to a secret. I think the Senior Officers like me to host a table as it gives them a night off — and why not. I had a lovely table, delightful guests from around the world. Not many of us are lucky enough to sit in that seat, with three decks above us, surrounded by guests in black tie having a wonderful dinner. Let’s not forget just how awesome the Britannia Restaurant is on Queen Mary 2. It does not recreate how it used to be on ocean liners of the past — it is how it used to be only much, much better — it is the real thing and no other ship comes close (although her little sisters Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth are pretty cool too).

Lunch in the crew mess — I will always eat in the crew mess once when I visit the ships. Gives me a chance to be seen out and about, ask how things are and of course make sure that our crew is happy with their food. I think they are — there have been some real efforts by Chef and his team recently to add variety. Sometimes I will have the ‘sticky rice and salty beef, or ‘fried chicken’ – but this time I went down the European line and had Cottage Pie – it was fine.

Canyon Ranch — well it was a Sunday so I was allowed some time off. Six times round the deck (two miles) — and then time in the amazing Canyon Ranch indoor pools, Jacuzzis and steam rooms. I find that so relaxing and it is always good to experience just how good the Canyon Ranch Spa is. When you go into the shower, one of the team will rinse out and dry your trunks and when you approach your locker, miraculously a towel is laid out on the floor for you to stand on as you get dried and changed — nice touch.

Boy, are the deck areas in great shape — you see Queen Mary 2 is a proper Ocean Liner. When you walk around all the deck areas — you walk on real teak and you pass brightly painted white steel. Despite now being 7 years old — I would argue the external areas of Queen Mary are in better shape than any ship at sea — and that is a credit to every member of the deck team. I asked Deputy Captain to briefly gather every member of the Deck Team the next morning — along with their supervising officers. I thanked them and shook each of their hands. In doing so I told them they should be proud keeping the most famous ship in the world in such great shape.

Regular coffee fixes — Coffee has moved on so much these days and on the ship Sir Samuels now offers proper coffee — either in a lovely china cup or in my case in a take away cup. No matter which way you take it — it is always served with a smile.

Queens Room — Picture the scene — 1,000 guests in formal dress, champagne all round, canapés and classical music. Commodore Warner introduces his Senior Officers and tells his joke (I have suggested he develops a 2nd joke but the one he has seems to work every time). I was able to say a few words of welcome. As I always do — I asked our guests to applaud our White Star Ship’s Company. I mentioned that we were — for our Ship’s Company — going the wrong way around the world with the clocks going back in time. So far we have lost 18 hours and 18 hours of sleep for our hard working staff. Good for our guests — they responded with warm applause for the staff — and the good news is that now we have reached New Zealand (which by the way is bloody miles from everywhere) — the clocks will start to go back the other way and they will get some extra rest.

It’s Sunday — so let’s go to Church — Commodore led a very nice service and the Theatre was quite full. Our thoughts were with those in New Zealand as we sailed along their shores, I read the lesson and it was a moving occasion — and we always feel better for a little prayer. Going to church on Sunday is something many people do and it’s rather nice to do so on Queen Mary 2 on a Sunday — and if you like you then go on to have a rather nice Sunday lunch — a perfect day.

Standing room only — we have recently started to give computer lessons on how to use Apple Macs, iPads and iPhones. I popped down to see it — and was surprised to see every computer station full and many standing at the back of class. We are going to extend the area used for this. When you think of it — technology can be daunting. So to have the time and ability at sea to go to lessons is a great way of learning. The ship also now has Wi-Fi service and full internet access so once you have mastered it you can try it for real. I wonder just how many emails have been sent that start with the words ‘I am sending this email from Queen Mary 2 in the Pacific Ocean….’ We are all so used to fast internet access at home and at work we do have to remind guests that as we are in the middle of an ocean and at the mercy of satellites — they need a little more patience than usual.

I had forgotten about Tom Hanks — Well who else would you get to narrate the Planetarium shows. They are a fairly short 20 minutes — but to sit in a full size planetarium whist at sea listening to Tom Hanks tell you about outer space is something that has to be done.

We turned out the lights and — I spotted in the daily program that our Astronomer Lecturer was going to describe the night sky up on deck 13 at 2200 hours. So there were about 200 of us, it was a clear night; we were sailing about 25 miles off the New Zealand coast. The astronomer had a neat little green laser gun. As we waited for the deck lights to go off — we were not sure what we might see. When the lights went off — there was an audible gasp. We often talk of how Cunard delivers unique experiences — well I had happened across one of those moments. The night sky was incredible — I have never seen so many stars. The Milky Way stood out so clearly, we were asked to look at one star and it was clearly a bright red color — I have never seen the color of a star before. Then — to some surprise — the astronomer let out a shriek. He had seen a far away galaxy with the naked eye for the first time. We could all see it as a distant cloud — he told us the name which seemed to use every letter in the alphabet at least twice — and his evening was made. I stood back from the gathering — and made a note to remind as many people as I can as to the many special experiences on this fine ship.

Knackered and Proud — On arrival in Auckland, and after taking our 700 plus Full World Voyagers out for a special dinner, my time on Queen Mary 2 was over and ahead of me was a 27 hour journey back to Southampton. I had a really clear idea of what work we need to undertake in our November refit , I had really enjoyed spending time with so many of the ship’s company and of course meeting so many of our guests. But overall I had two overwhelming feelings. The first was one of being ‘knackered’ (British technical term for being rather tired). I had been away for Two weeks, Two Ship Visits, Two Queens in Sydney, Two World Voyage Dinners and One Earthquake. The other feeling was one of pride — pride in everything that the ship’s company on Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2 were doing to look after our guests. And if you would like to experience some of that pride, and some of those special moments — then please do come and sail with us — they happen every day, 365 days a year………….

 

Best Regards,

Peter Shanks
President and Managing Director
Cunard Line

Those planetarium shows sound so brilliant and having Tom Hanks voice those shows is quite an achievement. I never fail to appreciate how marvellous it is to have the president of the world’s most famous ocean liner company write just for our blog thingy and each time he does ………..we all get to feel what it’s like to experience a Cunard voyage. Thanks Peter.

Yesterday I posted a question on Facebook that asked a simple question. Why do you choose to sail with Carnival? Well 381 people replied instantly and here is what they said:

http://www.facebook.com/JohnHeald#!/JohnHeald/posts/185209044854998

Fantastic answers and it is obvious that for many it is the value…….pure and simple…… what you pay and what you get is excellent. The comfort level is also important as well because when you pay for the cruise you know exactly what you are going to get. Included in the price are amazing food with more variety than ever before, the highest level of friendly and fun service, shows, activities and music from the wee small hours to the ummmmm…..wee small hours ….. towel animals on your bed, no cleaning, no cooking, relaxation, swimming, fun, and more fun.

I guess that’s why chain restaurants are so popular for tourists in foreign lands…….whether you walk into one in Moscow or Manila you know that your Big Mac will taste exactly the same…… unless of course you are in Korea when that funny taste may be because you are eating a McSpaniel.

As I said, that’s what I love about Carnival. You know what the extras are ….. drinks ……… shore excursions…..spa etc. But that’s not the same with other things in life. It’s because companies have made it so impossible to find out the actual cost of their sodding products. Honestly, unless you have a beard and like math……..you are buggered.

Let me explain. Heidi called me and told me that our internet provider which is British Telecom has told us our contract is up for renewal and sent a whole menu of new…….. ummmm …… broadband thingies.

In ancient times, you didn’t have to worry about broadband because it didn’t exist. But then it did exist, so you had to phone one of about two internet service providers who offered simple contracts at a fixed monthly rate. When they answered they were in the UK not Bombay and all you had to say was “Hello, I’d like the internet to be put into my computer,” and they’d say “Fine, that will cost $30 a month.” And they’d put the internet in your computer and you could start booking a cruise, book a cruise, see videos of Charlie Sheen waving a machete around and Latvian women lying naked on the deck of a billionaire’s yacht.

Now, it’s sodding impossible to work out how much anything costs. British Telecom is now offering Heidi and I broadband for £18 a month. That’s $30 in Uncle Sam money. “Woo hoo” as my friend Mr. Bentley would say………..oh, but hold on…….. because that’s only for the first six months. It then goes up to £28 pounds a month which is $42 and I should point out that it mentions this in a significantly smaller and less colourful font. Oh and right at the bottom in words that are smaller than my thingy…………and that is really small…………it tells you that you’re locked in to an 18 month contract. That means the average cost is £27. So why not just say that…………you utter bastards.

This trend has spread to cell phone contracts and has mutated. You now require a crystal ball, several weeks of spare time and the mind of Professor Stephen Hawking to work out which deal is right for you.

I saw a commercial recently where one provider has resorted to animals in their TV commercials to show you the way. If you want unlimited texts, you’re a dolphin (even though dolphins don’t have thumbs). Beavers, as we know, enjoy unlimited calls to landlines and if you go for the premium package of unlimited everything, you get to be a grizzly bear……..what a load of bollocks.

But how am I supposed to know whether I’ll need 500 texts a month? Or 350 anytime minutes? And then, there’s another worrying thingy, you get more minutes/texts/haemorrhoids if you sign up for a longer contract. Twenty dolphins get 75 texts on a 12-month contract but 300 on 24 months. Is that good? Is that even English? And if it is, will I need 300 texts a month in two years’ time? Will we still be texting in two years? Will cell phones and raspberrys exist or will we all them implanted in our arses and have rolls of toilet paper shoved up there in case someone sends us a fax?

I’m obviously taking this to the extreme but it’s only a matter of time before you won’t be able to read this blog thingy on a daily basis. Eric the Beard will give it to you free for three weeks, then it will be $10 a hit for a month, after which he will send you a John Heald bobble head if you send us photo of you naked…….. but only if you don’t have a beard ………and it’s a Thursday. Of course, I am kidding. I would never let this happen…….but you get my point.

We are not like this at Carnival……….that is………….ummmmm…….unless you buy the early saver thingy which I can’t seem to grasp case and feel as confused as baby in a topless bar. Honestly, every time I get asked a question about this I get a new wrinkle as I worry about how to answer it. It’s obviously a massively popular program but my understanding of it is equal to bugger all. I have so many wrinkles now that these days………… my face looks like an elephant’s scrotum.

Goodnight

Your friend
John

P.S. Here are the Fun Times for today, for both your Carnival Dream and your Carnival Splendor! —Everett

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.