Borat, Harriet, and 1,800 Naked People

June 3, 2011 -

John Heald

You may have noticed that these past few months I have been making the odd hamster reference and I thought it was time I explained why. So, just a few weeks before I left home for the shipyard to ready the beautiful ship from which I sit here in my underpants scribing today’s blog to you…….I bought Kye a hamster. I can’t remember if I told you this here or on Facebook but I remember when I did that someone replied “ahhhhh” and someone told me that it was a nice and cheap alternative to a cat and a dog. Well that last statement is bollocks because the sodding thing is costing me a fortune.

Kye first saw a hamster at a friend’s house and the sight of her little jumps of happiness and the way she stroked it lovingly caved in my emotions and we went and bought her one. Now when I say “we,” I really mean that Heidi went and got it and for whatever reason I never asked how much she had paid for it until a few days later. When she told me it was 100 pounds ($170 dollars) I was as mad as could be. Why I asked couldn’t we have got a non-pedigree hamster? Or one that was in a shelter for hamsters that have been abused by a gang of French rabbits.

But no…….we had to get a pedigree hamster and that’s how Harriet (lots of time and energy and deep thought went into my wife choosing Harriet as the name of the hamster) came to live in our back garden. For the first few days Kye loved her but then like I told Heidi would happen, Kye lost interest in her and returned to the love that her Barney gives her.

When Heidi bought Harriett she was a skinny thing with lovely shiny hair and blue eyes and little cute whiskers. And so was the hamster… No seriously, Harriett was a cute thing but in just a couple of weeks she changed because bloody hell she’s gotten fat. She has turned into a morbidly obese hell rat, despite my buying it endless exercise equipment and following it around the house screaming, “Run, you mutant rodent, run before I put you in the toaster!”

Actually a toasted Ham……ster sandwich might be the best thing for us all. Then I wouldn’t have to clean out its stinky, turd-filled cage every five minutes, leave the light on all night so it might notice its wheel, and feel a stab of guilt in my stomach when I think that perhaps Harriet didn’t in fact enjoy being driven around by me in Kye’s remote control Barney Bus.

Then I left for the Carnival Magic and yet Heidi seems to have replaced the love I gave her by spending time and money on Harriet. She must have grown quite fond of the furry thing as she informed me this morning that she has bought Harriet yet another new cage a pink Princess Palace for $100 which has three levels and two huge rollercoaster tubes for it to run through although I already know that like a true Heald she will ignore these as she has done all her excessive equipment and just sit in the corner of her cage, nibbling on a cookie…..watching Animal Planet.

Heidi has also ignored the harness and lead (no, I’m not joking) with which when I was home I would attach to Harriet to walk it round the garden in full view of the cats that live next door. I was hoping that they would “take care” of Harriett and I could go indoors with pretend tears and tell Heidi and Kye “I’m not sure what happened but Harriett is missing, sob, sob.” But the cats ignore Harriet and instead just take a huge crap in my flowerbeds and walk away, tails in the air, their arses looking like pink napkin holders.

I feel sort of sorry for Harriet though. Kye has dumped her, she has no rodent version of Hello magazine to read and actually, her being fat is probably my fault and might simply be down to the bits of Cadbury chocolate I constantly shoved into her cage. Along with the wheat bread, cheddar cheese, Baby Bell cheese, spring rolls, Walkers Shortbread biscuits and carrots – oh, and baked beans. Well, she’s got to have some pleasure, hasn’t she? After all, it’s not as though there’s even a Mr Hank the Hamster on the scene to make her worth keeping her figure for.

I am not sure how long hamsters live but when she dies it will be from lack of movement. Ultimately I may have to invent a pathetic story about how she’s nowhere to be found and has gone to live near a stream in the sunshine, with a family of Latvian hamsters. But then I would be frightened that one day, when Kye is playing in the garden there will be a shriek as she discovers an overweight Harriett lying prone in her cage, and in doing so, exposes my sunshine and Latvian adoption story as utter bollocks.

So, Harriett sits in her cage costing me money and doing bugger all. And so do Number One and Number Two. These are the goldfish we bought for Kye and they are utterly, utterly useless. They don’t come when they’re called, they don’t bark at strangers, they won’t fetch sticks, they’re not cute and being fairground goldfish, I’m fairly sure they wouldn’t be delicious with chips either. Still, at least I got to name the fish and unlike Heidi who gave the hamster a proper name I named Kye’s fish Number One and Number Two. This way if One dies….she will still have Two.

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

Emily asked:

I will be on the 16 day Trans Atlantic voyage with you and will be traveling with my husband and Amber my service dog. I suffer from severe sleep apnea which is a sleep disorder that can be very dangerous so that’s why Amber must travel with us. I was told to come to your weblog and see you answer questions so here are mine. Amber will be in the dining room with us on early sitting and I want a table that will allow her to have some space. She is not a big dog but she will need to be under the table or on my lap so it’s best we do not have a booth table. Then on Crystal cruises there were staff that would walk Amber three times a day while we are in port. I know we can’t take her off the ship because of stupid European law so I will need a crew member to look after her while we explore. I suggest that it is the same person each time so Amber becomes use to them. This worked well on Crystal Symphony so I hope Carnival will provide the same care for Amber. Finally her toilet needs are very specific and we have a balcony stateroom suite so I need her tray to be placed there. Please confirm by return that my requests have been met.

John says:
Hello Emily,

I had never heard of a service dog that helps assist with the dangers I know that sleep apnea brings and we will certainly do all we can to look after you and Amber and we will make sure you have the best of times. I do though have some bad news and that’s that we won’t have a staff member available to look after Amber while you are ashore. Unfortunately they all have busy schedules and we just don’t have anyone to do this and who indeed can be made responsible for Amber’s well being. Then there is the bathroom issue. We will have a special tray for Amber to use on deck 4 or the poop deck as it’s called……..ha ha ha, just kidding. No seriously it will be there on deck 4 which is the lifeboat deck and she will be able to do what she has to do there. I am sorry but we can’t leave it on the balcony for hygiene reasons not only for you but for those in the balconies either side of you. I have though spoken to Ken the maitre d and we will have a perfect table for the three of you and it won’t I promise be a booth. Please let me know if you need anything else.

Best wishes,


William Thompson asked:


I had the pleasure of sailing on the Victory, 02/13/2011 and attending the repeat guest, the cruise director after it announced they were happy to have 3 couples on board that were MILESTONE Cruisers. He announced the names and how many cruises.

In my 33 cruises with Carnival this was the first time this ever occurred, and it felt good that the company recognized loyalty. This minor detail was very well accepted and would not cost the company anything. I have a few other thoughts on this subject, maybe next email.

John says:

Hello William Thompson,

Thanks so much for writing William and yes, you are absolutely correct we should do this. I just sent this to the fleet CD’s and asked them to start doing this immediately, myself included because even though I mention them I have never read the names out and this is something I will do from now on. Thanks so much for letting me know and mostly thanks so much for your continued loyalty. I am here should you wish to post anymore observations or have any questions

Best wishes,


Christian83 asked:

I went on my first cruise May 2010 on the Splendor and was struck with some pretty awful seasickness for the majority of the trip (funnily enough after I left dinner the first night in search of fresh air, the only complaint my husband had was that the waiter never brought out the food I ordered before I left. He REALLY wanted to eat it.) Grrr… Men. Anyways, my husband, who LOVES cruising, went on the Splendor again in March this year and I foolishly let him take his sister instead of me due to my fear of seasickness. Well he won a seat in the pokerpro final on the Dream this December and we are booked to go. I am so very scared of having seasickness take away from the fun I should have, I was very miserable the first time. I am wondering how the seas in the Eastern Caribbean in December are and if you have any tips/tricks for those of us who get the seasickness?

John says:
Hello Christian83,

I know that the motion of the ship affects different people in different ways – some feel nothing while others feel everything. Seasickness for some can be absolutely awful and I am so sorry to read that you had a bad spell of it on the Carnival Splendor. Now I am sure you are excited to be going with your husband to the PokerPro finals which I hope he wins of course. It’s so hard to predict the sea conditions anywhere so may I suggest that you speak to your doctor about this. It’s better to be pro active rather than reactive and there are some excellent over the counter pills and patches that can help and some that your doctor can prescribe. I wonder if any of the blog readers can pass on their words of advice as well as I am sure they would be very useful and welcome. The most important thing is that you go with the mindset that you will be fine and that you will have fun. Get as much fresh air as you can and I wish you a wonderful calm cruise.

Best wishes,


Viveck asked:

We are going on the Magic June 12 and are wanting a table for 6 private not public and booking numbers are _____ Can you do the needful and arrange Indian vegetarian dishes each night for dinner.

John says:

Hello Viveck,

I have asked the maitre d to assist you with your table request and he will seat you all together which I take it is what you meant by “private not public.” There is an Indian vegetarian option every night for our guests so please just let your waiter know and he or she will serve it for you. Our head chef is Indian and you will love his food.

Best wishes and see you all soon.


Tia Evans asked:

My cruise on the sensation was bad because I was fined $100 by Carnival for taking three apples of the ship. Nobody told me I can’t and they were served at breakfast so why did I get fined. It is not fare and I have written to carnival but nobody answers me yet. I am very angry and tell people not to cruise Carnival because of this.

John says:
Hello Tia Evans,

Thank you for taking the time to write to me here and I am sorry to read you were fined for taking fruit of the ship. I should point out that the fine was imposed not by Carnival but by the United States Agriculture Department who specify that no fruits or nuts are allowed of the vessel. This is clearly written on the customs card you completed, explained by the cruise director during the debarkation talk, and included in the Fun Times in your stateroom on the last night of the voyage. So please remember that it was not Carnival that gave you the fine but the US Government. Hopefully this will allow you to remember what a great cruise you had and that’s what you can tell others as well.

Best wishes,


Kent Van Nurden asked:
Hi John,

My wife and I are relative new to cruising, only having gone on 2 Celebrity and 1 Carnival (Spirit) cruise. We had not heard good things about Carnival, to many young people and children, to many party people, and such. I must say that we enjoyed the Spirit cruise to Mexico in 2008 so much that when we were looking this year we decided on Splendor. I understand that as a newer and far bigger ship things might be different, but will the important things such as spaces to find quiet, alone time be on Splendor also? We are going to Mexico on the November 13th cruise and really excited about the prospects. We are a couple ages 63 and 54, not heavy drinkers or partiers.

Thank you so much for all you do.

Kent & Mary

John says:
Hello Kent Van Nurden,

I am very glad that you have written to me so I can let you know that you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Your experience of the Carnival Spirit will I promise be repeated and in fact enhanced on the Carnival Splendor. You know, it’s so annoying that people still think of Carnival as a party ship as you described it. We need to continue to work hard to let people know about our own brand of fun and move away from this old stereotype. Fun comes in many different ways. It could be reading a book on deck 3 outside in the quite area or the adults only deck on the Carnival Splendor which is called Serenity. You will also enjoy the shows, don’t miss Vroom and the food and don’t miss the steakhouse. I don’t know when you are sailing and or the number of children who are onboard at that time but I want to assure you that you will have a brilliant time and that you will see that Carnival isn’t what others would have you believe. So have a wonderful time and I hope this cruise is your best ever.

Best wishes,


Travis D asked:

There are no words to describe what a wonderful cruise we had on the beautiful Triumph. The staff was the friendliest we have ever seen and the other passengers were so much fun and made for a great atmosphere onboard. John, you may remember that I had asked you to help me with a table for two so I could spend time with my wife after my 9 month deployment in Afghanistan with the United States Army. The table was as you promised ready for us and the chocolate strawberries and champagne you sent was so kind as was the note from you as well. Thank you John for making a difference to our cruise and thank you to the staff of the Triumph for giving this soldier the most needed and most wonderful vacation.

John says:
Hello Travis D,

Some people still hate the fact that I help people and ask “Why does he do it?” The answer is simple…..Travis is why. Thank you for your service and thank you for those wonderful words which I will pass onto the ship.

Best wishes to you both.


Zoe asked:

I am putting together a scavenger hunt for my group of 28 all of who are cruising with you on the magic’s cruise of August 26th. I will need three ships on sticks for the winners and for you to present them at their table at dinner. We are all from Albany NY and have three birthdays and a wedding anniversary so can you send something to their cabins to help celebrate. David Kelser in cabin 8222 has a 5oth birthday, Sarah and John Fernley celebrating 25 years in cabin 7432 and me Zoe Zamarack with a birthday in cabin 8379. We have private tours in all the ports that leave when the ship arrives so can you arrange for us to be first off the ship?

John says:
Hello Zoe,

The scavenger hunt is a great idea and I will be happy to give you three trophies as requested. I can’t promise I can send present them but if my schedule allows I will of course be happy to do so. Please can I ask that as this cruise is some weeks away that you leave me a note when you board with a reminder of the celebrations and about the trophies? See you all soon.

Best wishes,


Steven Burnside asked:

Reference today’s blog. So you are a cigar smoker John are you? Good for you. Kill yourself and see if I care but you and other smokers are taking me with you. You described smoking a cigar in your story today as and I quote “a pleasure that relives the stress of the day.” How about adding that your stress reliever is killing you and all those around you. The fact that Carnival allows its employees to smoke in public is a disgrace and you would never see this on other lines. I won’t cruise Carnival until you banish all smokers from your ships and provide a clean and healthy environment for those of us who value living. Smokers are a plague and a plague that one day God willing will be eradicated.

John says:
Hello Steven Burnside,

I am very sorry that my mentioning my love of a fine cigar has upset you so much especially when you state that you won’t cruise Carnival until our ships are all smoke free. I do understand your principals even though I may not agree with them and I should point out that if I do smoke a cigar onboard I always make sure that I am in the cigar area, that those around me are OK with me doing so. I will add that often when I have a cigar that guests see this and come and sit with me and we talk about cruising and life in general as a cigar is always a good conversation starter. But smoking continues to be a contentious subject and we at Carnival continue to work hard to provide as many smoke free areas as we can while still allowing the many thousands of people who wish to smoke a place to do so. I truly hope that one day we will see you on one of our ships.

Best wishes,


Linford asked:

There is a discussion on Cruise Critic that the tips we give the waiter and cabin stewards are taken by Carnival and that they don’t get the full amount. Is this true.

John says:
Hello Linford,

I think I answered another question similar to this the other day so obviously it’s a popular topic on Cruise Critic. The answer is a 100% absolute no. Every penny you give goes to the crew and not one single penny goes to Carnival. Please can you post this on the thread thingy so that anyone else who may have doubts can see that they absolutely shouldn’t? Many thanks.

Best wishes,


And that’s all for today. Thanks so much for all the great comments this week…
So here I sit, in my underpants having been woken by my raspberry alarm at the ungodly hour of 4:45 am to start debarkation at 5:30 am. I awoke with a crashing headache that felt like Charlie Sheen and Lindsey Lohan were on an all night bender in there and were now having rumpy pumpy on top of a bass drum. Then to make matters worse my Miami Heat gave up a lead to the Dallas Ewings and lost the game.

It was the perfect end to a cruise that has been a very challenging one indeed. There were some very interesting people on this cruise and none more so than the lady that refused to leave the ship. You see she felt that it was our duty to provide her with the right to stay on the ship until the afternoon because she had a late flight or provide her with a free hotel room. She had threatened not to leave her cabin and when we made last call for guests to leave the ship it was obvious that she was going to carry out this threat because she was still in her stateroom. In the end we had to literally threaten her with calling the Barcelona police and only then, 30 minutes after the last guests had gone ashore, did she and her sister leave the ship and in a last defiant action she threw her cabin key at Calvin the entertainment staff member. And Calvin being Calvin brilliantly picked it up and said “Mrs_____ you seem to have dropped your key.” She then suggested to Calvin that he might like to have rumpy pumpy with himself and once again Calvin was himself and said “That’s why I am doing yoga.” I also just found out that she removed her gratuities and was beyond rude to many of the crew.

But as always it’s important to remember that 99% of the guests had fun and that they love the ship and her crew. The one theme that continues to be heard is that the Carnival Magic is the best ship in the fleet. They love the decor, the new areas and the overall “feel” that she has and this is wonderful news.

Last night we also opened Win, the last of the three brand new shows. This show is also on the Carnival Elation but it has morphed into something much grander here and we have for the first time included a guest in a full production show. The guest plays a series of game shows and each time he or she wins a prize the dancers do a full number on stage. It’s a terrific concept and the only downside………is that I have to host it which means guests have to see me in a jacket that reminds me of Richard Simmons underpants.

Have a look:

Well, that was the week that was. Let’s see who is sailing here with us this cruise



Well, there you go. 424 from Russia and unbelievably we have KAZAKHSTAN. What do you know about Kazakhstan, probably the same as me……..buggerov allov. And one has to ask, how the heck did we sell 258 cruises there? I have never seen anyone from Kazakhstan on our ships before and now we have this big group. It will be fascinating to meet them and see if any of them look like or dress like Borat which of course is Kazakhstan’s most famous person.

For those of you who don’t know who Borat is is a totally fictional character from a massively popular movie. The skinny reporter is the invention of Sasha Baron Cohen, an actor who has never set foot in Kazakhstan and who would be shot on sight if he did I am sure. He portrays the people of Kazakhstan as having no manners, huge prejudices and that they enjoy the ummmm …….. company…..of horses. I personally didn’t like the film but I know many did and I wonder if the people of Kazakhstan did. Probably not which is why I mentioned they would probably shoot him on sight………….but should they?

Look, we have 258 of them coming today and in a sense Borat has placed Kazakhstan on the map which considering most of the staff here (myself included) have difficulty in spelling its name and have only a vague idea of where it is. When I ask Uncle Google about Kazakhstan, Borat’s name comes up along with that “Nearly two million Kazakhs died as a result of Stalin’s forced collectivisation of agriculture.” It will be interesting to see how they enjoy the facilities and fun of their Carnival Magic and of course, I will let you know. It will be a challenge for us this cruise with so many Russians onboard who will speak no English and won’t wait in line anywhere. Can’t blame them really can you. They have spent their much of their lives lining up for nine hours for a potato…… and they have no intention of doing so for a burrito. Anyway, with close to half the ship non-English speaking it’s going to be a challenge for sure and should provide for some interesting blogs.

This is where they are going and who is entertaining them.

Fri, Jun, 03 Barcelona Will Marfori \ Jerry Goodspeed
Sat, Jun, 04 Monaco Welcome Aboard Show
Sun, Jun, 05 Livorno Destination Unknown/ Jason Byrne Will Marfori / Jerry Goodspeed
Mon, Jun, 06 Rome Activities / Deck Party
Tue, Jun, 07 Naples Groove Line
Wed, Jun, 08 Messina Suzi Woods (Vocalist)
Thu, Jun, 09 at sea Goronwy Thom (Comedy Juggler) Tony Esposito/ Don Barnhart
Fri, Jun, 10 Mallorca Win Tony Esposito/ Don Barnhart
Sat, Jun, 11 Marseilles Sam Jay (Multi Instrumentalist)

I want to leave you know with one more question and it’s a great one.

Dee Simonds asked:

I am a huge fan of yours and have yet to have the pleasure of sailing with you which I will rectify when my husband Charlie and my two daughters Hayley and Carly see you on Magic over Thanksgiving. The question I have for you is this. In 1994 my then new husband and me sailed on a Bare Necessities cruise on the Celebration and we are trying to figure out if you were the director. We remember on the last night of the cruise the director came out for the show wearing only his Carnival tie and even though he then ran of stage after a few moments it brought the house down. Was this you John as my husband says it was?

Thanks and can’t wait to finally meet you.

John says:

Hello Dee,

First of all let me say that I am pleased to hear that you like the blog and I too look forward to seeing you soon. And now let me absolutely 100% categorically state that it was not me. Would I have exposed my gentlemen’s sausage and sagging arse to 1,800 guests and a gaggle of crew members? Yes…….in the same way I’m up for marinating my bollocks in a white wine sauce. Nope, it wasn’t me and honestly I would love to know who it was. I will talk more about this in a moment but for now let me say that I will see you soon and my best to you and the family

Best wishes,


Nope, it wasn’t me but I have though been an assistant cruise director on one of the nude charters on the Holiday way back when and it was interesting to say the least. I’m a liberal, fairly unshockable, modern kind of chap and I’m mostly not disgusted by the human form because I have to look at myself naked in the mirror every day. But nothing prepares you for these cruises ………nothing. The people are wonderful Dee just like you and your husband are but pardon me if I say this but you are wonderful and naked.

Let me explain. It’s hard……..oh no that’s not a good choice of words ………. unmmmm …………….. it’s difficult to host a morning trivia to 30 naked people. It’s not easy serving a cocktail……. again bad choice of words…….it’s not easy serving a drink to a naked lady spread-eagled on a sun lounger like a yawning hippopotamus.

Now Dee, don’t get me wrong I respect your right to be naked but I could never do it and the world should rejoice on that fact. I’ve got no problem with public nakedness on a cruise ship but anyone who says, “Hey, so what?” is talking nonsense because everyone can’t help but stare at others flaccid dangly bits.

On a nude cruise, it’s not the dangly bits themselves that are funny, but the polite exclamations of “Good morning!”as if we all stand in line on Lido Deck to get our morning cornflakes while displaying our thingies. It’s very difficult to talk to a guest about how to find their dining room when you are at eye level with their naughty bits. And of course the worry is always where they have been carrying their Sail & Sign cards and………….has it been swiped yet?


Your friend,


PS No hamsters were harmed in the making of this blog

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.