Doctor Judith, Jeans, and Laundry

May 17, 2011 -

John Heald

Last week I mentioned on my Facebook thingy that we were now allowing guests to wear jeans (with the exception of elegant nights) in our steakhouses. I received loads of comments about this directly on the Facebook page and most seemed OK with it. But as always when you publicly proclaim something you are going to get mixed reaction and the following two comments posted to this blog thingy will prove.

Doug W asked:
John,

Please reply when you have time. Let me start by saying thank you for taking care of my parents last week when they celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary on the Legend. How you find time to write the blog and Facebook and be an everyday cruise director is beyond me. Talking of Facebook you said there tonight that you are now allowing passengers to wear jeans in the steakhouse on the ship and I say BRAVO for that. I am from Houston, Texas and we have some mighty fine steak joints throughout the state including the one I eat a lot at called Brenner’s which is the best in Houston and when I eat there I wear jeans as do most people. I have eaten at the steak house on Legend and on Splendor and Dream and they are excellent value for money yet it was a pain to have to get “dressy” to go there. So I wanted to say well done Carnival for seeing sense. Love your work John and thanks for the laughs.

Doug

And then on the other side of the coin there is this one.


Sea2See asked:

URGENT

Carnival’s decision to allow jeans in the steakhouse is another reason to cruise elsewhere. You have let standards slip over the years inviting more and more people with no standards to come aboard your boats. When you do have rules the staff doesn’t enforce them. During my cruise on the Miracle I observed many people in jeans on formal night in the dining room yet the staff did nothing! If you want people with no class on your boats then that’s your affair but don’t expect me to walk up your gangways anytime soon.

So two different opinions, both expressed with passion. I think my view on this is already known and not worth repeating again except to say I think it’s wrong to suggest that people who wear jeans “have no class” and how what someone else is wearing can affect you or what’s on your plate is baffling to me. Anyway, I did a check tonight and asked for some information from our steakhouse hostess. I asked her to count the number of people who wore jeans to the steakhouse tonight out of the 81 covers we had. She said there were 19 people in jeans this evening.

I also asked her to me if anyone complained that people were in jeans and she told me no…..not one. Guests have a choice and I think the more choices we give you the better. There is another point of view of course and that is that some people should never be allowed to wear jeans and one of those people is me. I have one pair in my closet here on your Carnival Magic and they never get worn. It was all right when I was 21 and at a Black Sabbath concert, but they do not sit well on a body swollen by age and one or two too many double cheeseburgers and extra massive fries. I look stupid in jeans and I know it which is why I don’t wear them.

But I am in a minority as for the most part men of all ages, sizes and shapes love wearing jeans. I have to wonder, out of the 19 people in jeans at the Prime steakhouse tonight, I wonder how many were men. Probably most I am guessing.

That’s because women have a great deal of choice when it comes to getting dressed in the morning. They can wear a long skirt, a short skirt, a shorter skirt, a skirt that looks like a belt, a dress, a pair of tracksuit bottoms, leggings, jeans, pants, shorts, Capris, daisy dukes or like the Latvian woman in my dream last night, a long black leather coat with absolutely nothing on underneath. Men, even if they care about how they look, do not have anything like that range of possibilities. A skirt is right out, unless you are Scottish or at weekends call yourself Loretta.

Shorts are only possible if you are an Australian and if you are over 70 must be worn obligatory long black socks with dress shoes. Those long denim shorts that stop just past the knees are unsuitable unless you are a rapper or are hanging out with your house boys making sure nobody comes into your hood. And in the whole of human history, no man has ever thought for a moment that his wife will become aroused if he meets her for a meal at the Cucina de Capitano wearing nothing but a raincoat and a pair of high heel shoes.

I have seen many changes of the years at Carnival and indeed the way people dress is one of them. Ten years ago formal was formal and everyone wore formal clothes. But over the years things have changed. Take what people wear to work. Suits are disappearing as many companies adopt casual Monday to Friday including the beards at Carnival which I think is one of the many reasons we have relaxed the dress code.

What has also changed is that back when I was listening to Ozzy sing Iron Man is how many types of jeans there were then to how many there are now. Flat front. Pleated front. Slim Fit. Loose Fit. And even if we do find a pair do we know what looks good without spending hours and hours in a cubicle trying the damn things on?

This – and I’ll take no argument on the matter – is the most miserable thing a man can do. Given the choice of trying on a pair of jeans on in a shop or eating yak poo out of Kathy Bates’ belly button …………then tell Kathy to get stripped down because I am on my way over.

The first pair you try never fit. Not even close. You wheeze and you pant and you suck your stomach in until bits of it are pushing against your cerebral cortex and your eyes are 3 inches in front of your face, but it’s no good. So, in a space the size of an NCL single cabin, you take them off again, put your own pants back on and waddle across the shop in stocking feet to get a bigger pair. Which aren’t in stock? So you go bigger still and end up with something that has a waistline broadly similar in circumference to the Pentagon. Get this straight, ladies. This. Is. Not. Fun. No man enjoys trying on clothes. Period.

So jeans are here and while I understand some don’t like it they are being more accepted on land and at sea and the dress codes both at work and not are getting less and less each day. As I said, I don’t care and if I was eating in the Carnival Magic’s Prime steakhouse and someone like me walked in, all I would care about was that he wasn’t naked……..now that would put me off my porterhouse.

Time for today’s questions…………..off we go.

Niki Burgos asked:
Hi John,

I will be taking the Freedom on may could you tell me if there will be a Latin band onboard and the of the band.

John says:
Hello Niki,

Yes indeed there is mate and they are called Latin Fever. They will play all over the ship and if you like Latin music then I promise you will love this band. I hope you have a wonderful time on the Carnival Freedom and enjoy some brilliant live music.

Best wishes.

John


J.S. Hoffman asked:

John,

I sent an email a letter to upper management and I’m trying to get something resolved but they have not seen fit to respond. I saw your name banded about on Cruise Critic so I am bringing this to your attention. I was on the ill-fated cruise of the Dream when we missed Roatan due to what the captain jokingly described as high winds. We as passengers were then amazed to see a Royal Caribbean ship docked and yet there we were heading to sea so that Carnival could make money in the casinos which is obviously what they wanted. I paid for three ports of call and got only two yet my compensation was only $20 which is an insult. I expect and I demand one third of the cruise refunded to me for the missed port. I would rather have not put this on a public internet site but you have left me no choice. I expect an immediate reply.

Thank you!!!!!!!

John says:
Hello J.S. Hoffman,

I am glad you were able to contact me and while I am so sorry whenever we miss a port of call I have to say that as a sailor I never question the captain’s decision to not enter a port. The safety of the people onboard has to be his priority and that responsibility rests on his shoulders. Now, for the RCI ship you mentioned I think (and my apologies if I am wrong) that it was docked at another facility and not in the inside passage which leads to Mahogany Bay where the Carnival Corporation ships dock, the entrance to which has rocks on both sides, hence the danger in high winds. There is one more thing, while I am so sorry that you missed a port to suggest this is done on purpose to make money in the casinos is both preposterous and quite honestly……. totally bonkers. Anyway, all I can offer you is a sincere apology that you did not get to see Roatan and my hopes that you had despite this a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes,

John

Jim Reed asked:
Hello John!

It would be a pleasure to get a response from you. I’ve got three passions when I am on vacation, cruising, photography and amateur radio (ham radio). It looks like the policies for ham radio on Carnival have been loosened over the last year or so. Ham radios are no longer on the restricted list (http://www.carnival.com/cms/faq/default.aspx?faq=restricted) and there is a Ham Cruise coming up in late October on the Conquest.

My niece is graduating from nursing school in October, and by her choice, we are headed out on the Carnival Legend on the October 16 sailing. In order to properly operate at sea, a Ham must have a proper license, and permission from the master of the vessel. Is this plausible to arrange for HF operations for a single cruiser, or only for specialty cruise? Thanks in advance for any help you may be able to give, or any light one of the beards can shed on a policy!

Jim

John says:

Hello Jim,

Thanks so much for the kind words…….the first here in today’s Q and A so thanks so very much for that. I have to say I had no clue about these rules so I had to do some checking with the beards to make sure I got the facts right. First of all you can indeed bring the radio onboard and I asked the captain here and he said he would have no problem with you doing this. What I would like you to do is to contact me here on the blog thingy on July 16 or on Facebook two weeks before you sail and I will make speak to the captain of the Carnival Legend and make arrangements accordingly for you. I look forward to hearing from you then.

Best wishes to you all,

John


Henry O asked:

As I read your blogs I don’t think you realize that sin is a serious matter and it is not to be played with under any circumstance, there is no space for a sin break in the course of life. What all must grasp is that you are a sinner not by what you do but by how all have entered into this world. Even if you are a morally superior person and follow the laws of God you are still a sinner until your slate is deemed spotless by the all mighty father and He is the only one who can deal with the way all have entered into this world by sin. You can provide information for the cruisers who read your blog but you sin each time you write with your references to sex, alcohol and the other deadly sins. I am on the Trans Atlantic cruise with you and would like to lead you to the mercy seat and make you a better person. Salvation is an individual journey but I can help you.

John says:
Hello Henry O,

I am not sure but I think I have a meeting then. Sorry, that wasn’t funny, was it? I truly appreciate your offer of help but I am comfortable with my beliefs and I hope that God sees that I am just a chap trying to help people and have some fun along the way. I wish you a wonderful cruise and I look forward to meeting you for a chat about the ports and the beautiful Carnival Magic.

Best wishes,

John


Patti V asked:

John,

I need to ask you a question about drinking age in Europe as we will be with you on the magic in June. My daughter is 19 and I know the legal drinking age in Europe is 18. Does this mean she can legally drink on the ship as well s you will be in Europe waters?

John says:
Hello Patti V,

Thanks for writing and I hope you are all getting excited about your cruise. Even though the ship is sailing in Europe we have not changed our rules about the drinking age which remains at 21. I look forward to seeing you soon and please let me know if you need anything else.

Best wishes to you all,

John


Dana Mowe asked:

Hi John!

Love your blog! While we are not sailing on the Magic until January 1st, 2012. We would love drive to Galveston for when Magic comes into the Galveston Port for the first time to welcome her home. We plan to stay overnight and see her off the next day too. Is there going to be any kind of celebration this November when she gets here? We would love to be a part of this special time if there is. Please let me know.

Happy sailing!

Dana M

John says:
Hello Dana M,

Ssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh……….don’t tell anyone but yes…………there will be ……. a big one. Details coming soon……..sssshhhhhh. This message will self destruct in 5 seconds.

Best wishes,

John

Red Roger asked:
URGENT QUESTION

Can you please get me a table for 6 for our cruise on the Splendor Sunday May 22 for cabins 6234 and 6248? We were on the paradise last year and ended up with a couple from Germany who spoke no English and it was embarrassing as they spoke no English and we were so uncomfortable having them there that our cruise was spoiled. This time we want a table just for the family. Can you also tell me who the entertainment will be? Can the table be in the center as well so we don’t miss the dining room shows?

John says:

Hello Red Roger,

I will certainly speak to the maitre d for you who will do his best to get your table request. I am sure it must have been uncomfortable for the German couple as well by the way. Here is the list of the fantastic entertainment you will enjoy.

I wish you all a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes,

John

That’s all for today I think ………..Let’s do some cheerleading shall we? Give me a P……….Give me a L………Give me a E………Give me a A……..Give me a …..S…………Give me a E ………………… what have you got…………bugger all in some cases.

Over the next few days I would like you to meet some of the people who have worked so hard at the start of this brilliant ship’s life. We are going to introduce you to some of the senior officers and department heads and have them tell you something about themselves. So let’s start today with our Senior Ships Physician…………….here she is………..Doc Judith Fisher.

Hi John,

My name is Gogo (from the South African for Granny, amongst the nurses and some crew) but otherwise Dr Judith or, more formally Dr Judith M (for Mary) Fisher. I had an interesting journey to Carnival. I had spent my medical career in the UK (apart from a short period as a locally employed Army doc while my ex was a military doc). I first did family practice then moved across to Accident and Emergency at the Royal London Hospital with the chopper and trauma unit. I dealt with all sorts of injuries from bombs etc, so when I was thinking of coming to the USA, Homeland Security asked if I could do some work with them (after 9/11) and facilitated a high speed visa (18 months rather than several years).

A colleague of mine knew me from the UK Disaster scene and suggested I tried working on cruise ships. I had never been on a cruise ship but took the plunge. My first contract was on Conquest when we were refused entry to the Mississippi due to Katrina, and spent time waiting in the Gulf of Mexico, with many sea sick passengers. However, I was hooked those six years ago and now work part time (I am 72, and want to spend time with family).

I love working here. If I was not working on board I would be working harder for The World Association for Disaster medicine. I am now vice president, responsible for conferences and a present I am arranging a disaster congress in China from 30th May. I go on a work break for three weeks next weekend and hope it will go well.

As for my favorite destination, I think Curacao was my favorite port, but these Mediterranean ports are changing my mind.

Regarding my favorite film, I am a Golden Pond sort of movie watcher – do not like shocks or science fiction. I cry easily – very cathartic.

I really miss my 12 grandbabies and my one great grandbaby when I am away. We keep up on Facebook, but the hugs are missing.

Well, now you know most of my history – I will leave out the medical bits!

All the best,

Dr Judith M Fisher O St. J MBBS FRCGP FFAEM FIMC(RCSEd)

Thanks Doc. I should point out that Doc Judith has become a friend to so many of the crew here and having a Doc like her here is such a bonus for them and of course for the crew as well. She is accompanied by another Doc who you will meet in a later blog and of course assisted by some fantastic nurses who continue to be a group of people whose praises are not heralded enough. A ship’s doctor is someone I hope none of you ever have to meet but if you do I know that Carnival has some of the very best at sea and that in Judith you will meet someone who as well as a being a fabulous medical professional…………………is someone who truly cares.

Well it’s the day the guests have probably been waiting for more than any other. And while they may love the charm of Dubrovnik and the extraordinary architecture and history of Rome and the uncollected festering heaps of garbage in Naples…..the one place that the guests on their Carnival Magic cruise were most excited about was of course the city of lights, the world’s most romantic city ……..Detroit……bugger…….I mean Venice. And as we entered the port today every guest was on the open decks listening to my commentary and Pavarotti Nesun Dormaring on the Seaside Theatre big screen. Yesterday in Dubrovnik it was wet and dreary and today we were welcomed by blue skies and sunshine that encased this glorious city on the water and the city with some of the worst service in the entire universe. Yes, the universe, because if there was a restaurant on the planet Sodof populated that served a species called the Hildegard which are one eyed creatures that look like a turd on legs…. it would still be better than the service in Venice.

Many guests ask me where to eat in Venice and I always shudder with fear when they do. That’s because while it’s easy to recommend a place here that serves delicious food, it’s bloody impossible to find anywhere that offers the type of service offered on board our ships. Don’t get me wrong, I love Venice and there is no more jaw dropping sight in the world than sailing into this incomparable city…….except seeing me standing on my head, naked, with a rose sticking out of my bottom, going up and down in the glass elevators in the Magic Atrium……….obviously.

Anyway, as I said, Venice is a place you must visit and doing so on a cruise ship is the best way to enter and enjoy that special feeling as you sail past St. George’s Cathedral, the Doges Palace and the domed Church of Mary and Health. However, over the years on Carnival Liberty, Carnival Freedom and now Carnival Magic, I have had many meals ashore and while the food is great, the service can leave something to be desired.

There are loads of restaurants and when people do ask me I always am generic saying that if they walk off St. Mark’s square to the right (facing the water) that there is a long street of restaurants that serves good food but I also warn them about the Fawlty Towers levels of service and the quite outrageous prices they charge. Often more than not the one place everyone asks me about is Harry’s Bar. I know lots of people who say that Harry’s Bar is their favorite restaurant in the world. What’s even more astonishing is that a fair proportion of them are Italian.

For those who don’t know about the place let me tell you. The menu, including the fabled risotto and carpaccio costs the same as I spend on new clothes in a year…..including underpants. Heidi and I went twice, once with our friends the Bentleys which was fantastic because they are “known” there and the service was OK and of course they paid which was good considering I would have to have sold my body on the streets of Venice to help pay the bill.

We went back a second time without the Bentleys and it was just the two of us. Suddenly the service became …….well……..hostile…..and then the bill came….I didn’t leave the waiter a tip….…I left him a spoonful of risotto………65 Euros……….for some rice and some sauce ….… what a load of Il Bollocko.

The good thing now though is that I have the perfect answer to “Can you recommend me a great Italian restaurant in Venice?”……….because suddenly the answer is obvious “yes,” Cucina De Capitano” right here on board…….and it’s only $10 and the service is magnifico.
I mentioned on my Facebook page yesterday that a lady who I am calling Rain Mamm went absolutely berserk at me that it had rained and soaked her clothing. She insisted we do her laundry for free stating that other cruise lines gave free rain ponchos to every guest. You know, over the many years I have done this job I have been shouted at, had my tie yanked down from my neck, been prodded by guests fingers in the chest and in the middle of my head and called every name possible including my still all time favourite “sperm of the devil.” All of these never fazed me, I never lost my temper and I never ever let my true feelings known remembering that it wasn’t personal and that these were just guests who were having a bad day.

But yesterday was different. I had gone to the lobby at this guest’s insistence and I found myself as close to the edge as I have ever, ever been. It wasn’t that she swore at me, or that she called the company I love the most disparaging names…….nope…….it was the moment this 5-foot-tall New Jersey resident who had an hour previously had reduced one of the guest service girls to tears, thrust a plastic bag full of wet clothes in my chest and said “get this done” and then made this noise………with her lips……..a sort of sucking noise ………and walked away. It was that noise, it was that tongue between the lips pursing noise ………..aggghhhhhhhh……….and suddenly I could feel the blood boiling inside me and I found myself starting to walk after this poisoned dwarf and tipping her sodden clothes over her head and telling her to get her short arse down to the laundry and wash them herself the rude arrogant rhymes with ditch.

But the override switch kicked in and I checked myself, walked away and arranged for her washing to be done and today, as I examine what happened more closely I find I am angry again ………………at myself.

Ninety-nine percent of our guests are wonderful and never ever rude to the crew and any that I have met that are, I think I have handled with compassion and understanding and most of all with patience. Yet this one, this small lady and her smacking lip noise got to me. Why? Well after a bit of self analysis I think it’s safe to say that Hildegard manifested itself in this lady and that’s not a good thing because that means I made this complaint personal. And it wasn’t. It was just some lady who wanted her laundry done for free.

It is funny though how quickly things change. There I was yesterday with ill feelings toward this guest when later at the show I had a Mrs. Mary Quinn on stage with me as 1,000 people sang happy birthday to a lady who was celebrating 95 years of life, her first time ever leaving the United States, her first cruise and realising her lifetime ambition to visit the Vatican. And as myself and the guests sang a rousing happy birthday to Mary, the little tear that trickled down her cheek reminded me that life is good, life is rewarding and that my job as cruise director continues to be the best job in the whole wide world. Except Megan Fox’s massage therapist of course………lucky bugger.

I did do something though and I know I shouldn’t have……….and yes…….I really did this ……….. I put a pair of my underpants in the bag of laundry she gave me so when they have done it and her state room steward returns it to her cabin……….Rain Mamm will find a nice pair of white (mostly) XXXXL Fruit of the Looms on her bed.

Goodnight.

Your friend,

John

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

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