Thrilling…..My Arse

March 29, 2011 -

John Heald

Last night Heidi and I watched a movie. It was probably the wrong movie to watch before bedtime but I had spent 7 straight hours at the computer Facebooking, blogging and paper working so a movie seemed the right medicine to take my mind of everything. The movie we chose was 127 Hours. It was an OK movie I guess but sitting there I felt a little bit weird waiting for the film’s one interesting scene where the ridiculously good looking climber hacks off his arm with a Swiss Army penknife. It was a bit like watching Basic Instinct only for the bit where Sharon Stone crosses her legs revealing for a nanosecond the sight of her lady garden.

In the end I found the film ordinary at best. Of course you have to respect any bugger who spends five days marinating his own arm and sipping on his own urine but why didn’t the silly sod tell anyone where he was going or when he’d be back?

I guess though that me not really caring for this film has lots to do with me being a massive lazy old bugger with absolutely no understanding of thrill seekers. I don’t get why anyone would want to seek adventure by doing things that could end in a phone that says “Sorry to disturb you in the middle of the night Mrs Heald, this is the police and I have some bad news. Your son John was discovered this morning dead, in a cave in Botswana. A large rock fell on him while he was pot holing. He tried to survive by sawing off his own thingy with a toothpick but it was only a tiny snack that quite honestly wouldn’t have given enough nutrition to baby hamster.”

I guess the most dangerous thing I do is smoke a cigar. This will have many hating me and bollocking me saying I am putting my life in danger. But while I get a bollocking, climbers, extreme skiers and the chaps that jump off mountains and high rise buildings are applauded and cheered and have many girls waiting for them at the bottom.

And it appears that we in the cruise industry have realised this and have therefore offered a whole heap of onboard thrills. Rope swing courses, climbing walls, zip lines…….yep………there are now many chances to ruin your underpants on a cruise. It used to be that most dangerous thing you could do on a ship was sitting on the toilet and flushing at the same time…….especially the men.

Yep, now thrill seekers can now come on a cruise and get their daily dose of danger. Whatever happened to just sitting on deck, listening to the sounds of the Calypso duo, sipping a Fun Ship Special, soaking up the sun, reading a book and deciding if it would be just too dangerous to have two chocolate melting cakes for dinner? Thrill seeking…………………my arse.

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

Carroll Asked:
John, please reply

This is my first time posting on here. We have now booked the magic for July 3 2011 and need a table for 2!! The cruise will be celebrating our anniversary and we don’t want it spoiled by having to force conversation with strangers. We are in cabin 7299. I hope this can be arranged without any problems.

John Says:
Hello Carroll,

Please allow me to say congratulations on booking the Carnival Magic. It makes me very pleased to be able to say this. Please get excited as it won’t be long until we see each other on our new ship which I am sure you will find very pleasing. I will do my best via the maitre d’s on the ship to get you a table for 2. See you soon and please send my best wishes to you husband.

Best wishes

John

Janice Mantle Asked:
John. (PLEASE REPLY)

Thanks for the great blogs and now you are on Facebook it is even better and I get more John! We are going to book with Carnival on the Dream for my daughter’s high school graduation cruise, but I am worried about the Carnival smoking policy. I know this is a touchy subject, so I didn’t want to post my question on Cruise Critic as no doubt I will cause the popcorn reference as people line up to flame me. I am very sensitive to smoke and I am worried about finding evening activities where the smoke won’t bother me. I read your response to the smoking question today, but I was wondering if there are any discussions about making some of the bars and areas non-smoking?

Thanks for your enjoyable blog.

John Says:
Hello Janice Mantle,

Thank you for saying how much you enjoy the blog thingy that means a lot. Please don’t worry about smoking. Remember, the restaurants, the theatres and most of the public lounges are totally non smoking. The casino is mostly non smoking with only a small section at the back allowing smoking there. The piano bar is the only indoor area where smoking is allowed so overall I do not think you should have any concerns. Have a wonderful cruise with your daughter of whom I am sure you must be very proud.

Best wishes,

John


George Richards Asked:

John, please reply,

Today, you spoke about “perks.” That topic always generates interest; and makes one wonder what perks can Carnival offer that would make cruisers happy and not cost a ton of money?

We are rapidly approaching Milestone, and have been to most of the places Carnival sails to, and have more than our fair share of picture frames etc.

If I had a beard and ate tofu, I would suggest that “Platinum embarkation/debarkation” be extended to all Carnival Corp PLC ships. This would not infringe upon the standard perks given to members of each line; it would just insure that cruising dollars are kept within the Carnival plc family. Would we “jump ship” and sail to Tahiti with Princess, or to South America with HAL? Absolutely – we’ve never been there and would love to cruise there – as long as we didn’t have to go through the cattle car embarkation line. I know this sounds self serving, but after all, it’s

Just a thought….

John Says:
Hello George Richards,

And it is a brilliant thought, because while I know there are no plans to incorporate the lines loyalty programs, I think it might make sense to allow priority boarding and debarkation. So, I am going to send this to a corporate senior beard and see what he says about this making sure you George get all the credit. Holland America, P&O, Costa, Princess, AIDA and Cunard and of course Seabourn are all part of the Carnival family and it would make total sense to at least allow a little something for those who have cruised with one multiple times should they decide to try another. Thanks again and I will follow up on this today.

Best wishes,

John

Susan Asked:
John Please reply,

It is now exactly 3 months to the day that we will be joining you for the inaugural cruise of the Magic. I represent the cruise critic group that is 100 plus strong. We will have a sail away party on deck 10 aft at 4pm and I think you should attend please. Can I ask you to bring some prizes with you as well as we will be having a European scavenger hunt during the cruise and I need some ships on sticks and t shirts as well.

Thanks so much for coming to the party.

Susan

John Says:
Hello Susan,

Let me start by apologising first of all for the time it has taken for me to answer this question which I see was posted on February 1st. So I guess it is now just over 1 month until the inaugural cruise of your Carnival Magic. I will be happy to send someone to the party to meet you and bring you some trophies for your scavenger hunt but I won’t be able to attend. I will be hosting the naming ceremony and then at 3:30 pm the welcome aboard orientation talk and at 4:45pm we will have the safety briefing. I would actually suggest that you reschedule your party for after the safety briefings to start at say, 5:15pm. Just a thought. I hope to see you during the cruise and wish you all the most wonderful time.

Best wishes,

John

Ethaldore Asked:
John,

We have just booked our fifth Carnival cruise in just over four years this time on the Liberty. We have enjoyed ourselves on our previous cruises but our concern is now the need for gluten free food this time around and I am finding conflicting answers from Cruise Critic telling me that there is no gluten menu to its only bread and pasta that is gluten free and that I must bring my own perishables on board!!!! Why doesn’t Carnival have a proper gluten menu then? Please respond.

John Says:
Hello Ethaldore,

I am glad that you took the time to write. I am diabetic myself I am therefore well aware of the need to look after our guests who have dietary concerns. We do indeed have the ability to provide a full gluten free menu for you and I have asked one of our special needs associates to contact you so that you can discuss your concerns and provide the help you need. As I don’t have your name or cabin number I can’t send the special needs team any information and so I ask you to please contact that them at specialneeds@carnival.com Have a wonderful cruise and please don’t worry.

Best wishes,

John

Cynthia White Asked:
John – (please reply)

I have noticed a lot of platinum people who have been requesting a lot of perks just for them. Let me start by saying, I know I am not platinum, I am working my way up there. However if we give all these special things to platinum guest, what is left to make people want to come back? Don’t get me wrong, I am a loyal Carnival cruiser that will have 6 cruises (all Carnival) under my belt by the end of this year. I know you can’t please anyone and I am not asking for anyone to do anything special. I was just wondering what is a happy medium with this issue?

I saw on your blog, a Platinum guest would like special seating for the past guest party and you said something about a special VIP guest party. So does that mean that VIP’s wouldn’t be allowed to come to the past guest party? I fear the more we segregate people from “who is most important” to those “not as important”, people are going to start to feel just that… not as important.

It’s just my thoughts/concerns. But let me just say this John…. You are doing an amazing job with all you do. I don’t know how you don’t feel like you are chasing your tail by working Facebook & Blog thingy with also being an awesome CD. Keep up the good work and thanks for asking for our input.

John Says:
Hello Cynthia White,

Thanks so much for writing and expressing your opinions here on the blog thingy. We do value our Platinum and Milestone guests and the perks these programs receive are in my opinion excellent and in fact they will soon get even better. I understand how you feel and I think the majority of our cruisers who sail a lot will understand how you feel and would as I do encourage you to get that shiny Platinum card for yourself and enjoy the privileges it brings. I want to thank you for the kind words and it is so nice to know my many hours sitting in my underpants are being appreciated. I hope we sail together one day soon.

Best wishes,

John


Wendy Asked:

Love the blog thingy!

We will be on the April 16th Dream sailing in cabin 10243. It will be our platinum cruise and our youngest daughter’s 16th birthday will be on April 17th (formal night). I have gotten decorations for the cabin, door and dining room table. Do you know if the special occasions store (can’t remember the exact name) will personalize a cake or do they just have the standard ones and will I have enough time to order if I do it the first night on board? She’ll have a tiara and banner to wear during the day and at dinner but I’m looking for suggestions to make it extra special for her. We’ll be dining with a family we met on our 2009 Spring Break cruise so they’ll be good with anything at dinner. I believe the morning CD show is broadcast on the big screen and that they do shout outs. How can I get them to mention her? Thanks for any help you can give.

Also wanted to mention that we were on the October 10, 2010 Pride sailing and have to compliment the CD & their staff. In 16 sailings on various cruise lines, they were the best I have ever seen. They worked phenomenally well together and it seemed liked they really enjoyed their jobs.

John Says:
Hello Wendy,

It looks like you are going to be providing a very special week for a daughter you must be very proud of. The Celebrations shop on your Carnival Dream will indeed provide a cake and if you ask them they will put her name on it……there may be a small extra charge for this……..but it will be worth it. I will let the CD Butch know to expect a letter from you which I encourage you to write about your daughter wishing her a happy birthday. Enclosing a photo of her as a baby might be fun as well. Leave this at the guest services desk and he will read it and show it live on the morning show. Hope that sounds OK. Thanks for the kind words for the staff on the Carnival Pride and I wish you all the most brilliant time.

Best wishes,

John

Charlie Wisley Asked:
John Please Reply

What’s the story with Jacksonville John? There are stories going around that Carnival will be leaving for good. Please tell me this isn’t so.

Thanks,

John

John Says:
Hello Charlie Wisley,

I’ve check on this and you can rest easy Charlie as there are no plans to leave Jacksonville.

Best wishes,

John

Thomas M. Asked:
John, Please reply,

My wife and I have been on 4 Carnival Cruises, with a 5th cruise on the Carnival Legend planned in September for our Anniversary, and we have loved them all. Recently we went on a family trip on the cruise line that has the mouse on the side. I must say it did not compare to the quality that we receive on Carnival. Based on value for money we paid nearly double for the mouse boat than we did for our upcoming September cruise. Both cruises are 7 days with a balcony. Naturally when you pay a great deal more for something you expect to receive a great deal more. I will say the theme of the week was, “we wish we were on Carnival.” We skipped the dining room on two nights due to the food being so bland. The best dinner I had all week was room service. It was the first time I have ever been on a cruise and not wanted anything off the dinner menu. One night several members of our group even asked if they could order off the kids menu. It was disappointing because when you are with such a large group of people you enjoy sitting down to dinner and talking about what you did that day. Not having an enjoyable dinner really put a damper on the evenings.

Some perks that the other cruise line does offer is they do offer unlimited fountain drinks on Lido and in the dining room as well as Adults may bring on as much alcohol as they wish. I know Carnival will probably never offer that, but it was a nice perk.

Also, each cabin had 2 mobile phones that you could carry around the ship and use to call or text any other room on board. It was a convenient way to keep in touch with everybody, especially since we had a very large group. Maybe Carnival can look into offering a service like that?

Ultimately, I am very happy we were able to try out another line so that I could see the tremendous value and superior service we receive on our Carnival Cruises. Don’t get me wrong, we still enjoyed ourselves and had a wonderful time. Nothing that happened on board “ruined” our cruise. All it did was make us miss Carnival even more.

Keep up the great work John, I hope one day my wife and I will be able to sail with you. I wrote to you last year before our cruise on the Fascination. You sent my wife a little gift, as it was our first time away from our son. You really thrilled her with your thoughtfulness, and I thank you.

Thomas M.

John Says:
Hello Thomas M,

Thanks for the review and I am so sorry that things weren’t as you expected over on another cruise line. There is no doubt that other cruise lines do many things brilliantly, including the phone idea and I can see just how beneficial this would be. Maybe this is something we could do on future ships although the bringing unlimited alcohol on board…….well I think we would be a little goofy to allow this. I hope you did have fun though and want to thank you for writing about Carnival’s exceptional value for money cruise vacations. I hope we see each other very soon.

Best wishes to you and all the family.

John

LFOD NEW HAMPSHIRE Asked:
John–Please reply,

I just found your blog and decided to write to you and comment on today’s subject of the Conquest. My wife and I recently went on the Conquest and while we had a good time I too have to agree that the Texan people were loud, overbearing and at times just plain rude. An example. We were in the elevator and when the doors opened three passengers pushed in before my wife and I could come out. Then during dinner one night a group of Texans at the table behind us started singing loud songs. I guess the Conquest is not the ship for us or for anyone who wants quality conversation at dinner and decent behaviour. We are going on the Freedom next and hope it’s a better experience but to make sure I am going to need you to arrange a confirmed table for two for May 8th. Our State Room is
number 6348.

Thank you.

John Says:

Hello LFOD New Hampshire,

Well I have to ask a question……….and please forgive me if this sounds disrespectful…..but while pushing into an elevator before allowing people to come out is something I find annoying ……….. how do you know the people that did this………..were Texans? Anyway, I will repeat myself again by saying that not everyone who sails from Galveston is from Texas and that during my time serving as cruise director on the Carnival Conquest I found the people there to be brilliant fun. I wish you the most wonderful time on the Carnival Freedom and I will ask the maitre d to do his best to assist with your table.

Best wishes to you both.

John

And on that note we finish today’s Q and A.

It’s strange to think that in just 6 days time I will be on your Carnival Magic and getting her ready to sail. I will be joined by a wonderful team of entertainment staff who I will introduce you to soon. My assistant on the bloggers cruise Stephanie will not be joining me. She will return to doing a brilliant job as ACD and will be on the Carnival Splendor next month. I thank her very, very much for her support and for being such a brilliant help. I am sure she will one day soon be in the big chair as CD.

My new personal assistant will be joining me in Italy on April 4 and you will meet her then. However, to allow me time to be on stage as much as I can and to blog three times a week and Facebook each and every day I need the best assistant cruise director in the fleet. Now this was a tough choice as there are many brilliant young people worthy of this chance. George or Baby Butch as he is called now, Kevin Darby and indeed Stephanie Ackley are three who I really considered and are three who will one day soon also be CD’s for sure. I would have taken James “Hiyaa” Dunn but he is so, so close to getting a full time shot as CD that to take him away from that would have been wrong. So in the end I went with the advice of my colleagues and therefore its time now to introduce you to the ACD of your Carnival Magic. Here he is.

Since the day I was offered the position of assistant cruise director to John Heald on the Carnival Magic for its inaugural season beginning May 2011 in Europe, things really haven’t stopped for me. As well as managing to cram in a trip to Disney with Jen Baxter the cruise director, a true frost bitingly cold Christmas vacation with my parents at home in England and 4 weeks in the hottest place on Earth (aka Western Australia in January) with my second family; I have also had the pleasure of serving as cruise director on the Carnival Sensation for 6 weeks since the beginning of February and have met some incredible guests who really know how to have fun in style.

The opportunities to deliver a new ship, work with John and spend a season in Europe have been goals of mine for some time now. I am thrilled to be doing all three at the same time, but where did I come from? I was born and bred in West Yorkshire, England, devoting most of my time to tree climbing, lady bird [bug] catching, piano lessons and amateur dramatics. I lost most of my Northern accent studying music at university and then subsequently qualifying as a high school music teacher. I felt very at home in the classroom, however had never left the education system and so decided to take a ‘short’ break to broaden my horizons. Cue Carnival Cruise Lines. My first day ‘on deck’ was on the Holiday in August 2004 as a social host. I then spent time on the Valor and the Miracle. I was promoted to assistant cruise director on the Pride and have since circled between the Glory and the Legend as both assistant to and cruise director.

I am now working hard toward the delivery of our newest and grandest Fun Ship and am excited to help create, mold and run a truly magical entertainment department and Fun Ship vacation experience like no other on the Carnival Magic.

Thanks James and congratulations. James will also be taking over from me when I take a short break in the summer.

And now while I poop downstairs and make a cup of tea I will leave you with some amazing photos of one of the ports of call your Carnival Magic will call at. Here then is Dubrovnik, Croatia seen through the eyes of Radu our senior photographer.

Brilliant Radu……….simply brilliant.

The generosity of our guests really is quite extraordinary as was shown on the Carnival Glory during BC4 and each and every week on all our ships as we continue to raise money for the children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Here is another story of what our guests have achieved, as told by the cruise director of your Carnival Dream……………….Butch

John-

I wanted to share with you the generosity of some wonderful guests that we had sailing recently here on the Dream. In honor of the NCAA March Madness college basketball tournament (which is huge here in the US) and wanting to support our “Care to play, Carnival for St. Jude Kids,” John Seacrest and his lovely wife from Nebraska, who read you blog and are Facebook friends with you challenged me to a free throw contest. The rules: I was to be given a chance to attempt 100 free throws and for every one I made, John and his wife would donate $5 to St. Jude Children’s Hospital…………. Now, while God has blessed me with many talents, and many people think that because I am tall I might automatically be a basketball star……I can say that sports in general are not my strongest suit. Much to my dismay, I only made about 12 hoops out of the hundred……..but here is the best part……..John and his wife wrote a check for $500 anyways on behalf of Carnival to St. Jude, and we had a great afternoon of laughs and fun attempting to show off my lackluster b-ball skills. I have attached some pictures.

Butch

Wonderful and I can see you playing for the Minnesota Basketball team………..the ummmm ……… the Beavers? Is that right? Many thanks to John and his wife who have helped the continuing work at St Jude as they battle to find a cure that will end childhood cancer.

Heidi and Kye will be away from me for three weeks and will though join me for the first cruise on their Carnival Magic. Heidi, like me loves the European ports, especially Monte Carlo which she describes as “magical”…….magical my arse. It is my least favourite of the European ports, mainly because of Heidi’s love of shopping along the French Riviera and particularly Monte Carlo. Mind you, if you or I set foot in any of the Monte Carlo or St. Tropez shops, we would feel as small as a hamster with no legs because it is immediately apparent we’re not Donald Trump, which means it’s immediately apparent we can’t afford to buy a single thing they have on offer. It’s all Herpès and Goochi and Versacke……….where anyone in Monte Carlo buys essentials like toilet paper and hemorrhoid cream, God only knows.

Of course, you can buy a watch. Some even cost as little as $75,000. Mostly, though, they are much more than that because they all have 16 dials, an entire diamond mind in the bezel, a device that summons an Delta Force extraction team if you get kidnapped by Somali pirates or you are trapped in an elevator with Charlie Sheen and a button that can tell you the phase of the moon and when Jupiter is passing Uranus….of course wearing a watch like this makes you look like one of the planets I just mentioned……and it’s not Jupiter.

We used to call this sort of thing the “millionaire lifestyle” but I suspect that to live a yacht filled life moored off St. Tropez in the summer and St. Kitts in the winter you probably need more than a million in the bank……….in fact…………I would suggest that you would need more numbers in your bank balance than you have in your account number.

Well last night we watched a movie I choose which was as I mentioned a big mistake and so the next time we have a movie night Heidi has already told me it’s going to be Pretty Woman ……….. again. If I am on my own I would usually flick past this film quicker than a hamster on jet powered roller skates. But my wife adores this movie………me……..well apart from the Lotus Esprit Turbo Dick Gere drives…………I think it’s a load of old wimpy fairy tale bollocks.

I would have shot the movie differently. In my version she would end up back on a street corner. She would have kept the gloves that went with the red dress but that was it. She’d have sold the jewelry for a Big Mac and fries. The last scene would be her sitting on the sidewalk in ripped fishnets and Payless shoes (one of which has dog poo on it crapped by a hound called Jimmy …. Jimmy Poo) when Richard Gere drives past………does a handbrake turn………jumps out of the car and has rumpy pumpy on the hood with a naked Megan Fox.

I would also rewrite Heidi’s other New York favourite Sex and the bleeping City. Carrie ends up in her apartment depressed, angry, in debt and unable to trust a man ever again marries a girl called Loretta who works in a charity shop and eats tofu. The only other one whose name I can remember is Samantha…..the one who only wears underwear to keep her ankles warm …. she, in my rewrite……does what she does best….laying on the floor employed by Carnival as a bean bag toss board.

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.