John and Calvyn… LOL!

August 2, 2011 -

John Heald

The last few days I have started to feel really old. I was invited out by the entertainment staff to go out in Venice and “chill” at a bar but I was too tired so I read a book, had a cup of tea and went to bed. Yep, I am an old 46 year old man……with hemorrhoids.

I have started making weird “old man” noises when I get up from sitting down at the desk and as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, it’s not only the hair on my head that is grey. I am, however, still on my first marriage, haven’t actually lost any hair yet and I’m fit enough not to need a stair lift and although my underpants have more skid marks on them than I-95…….I still have control of my bodily functions. So things aren’t all bad.

Last night before I went to bed I read some of my book. At the moment I am reading Latvian Big Jugs featuring Annuskah who is dressed as a naughty nurse……..oh bugger……. ummmm ………… I mean I am reading a book about the life of Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Airlines. And last night the bearded billionaire says that when you have turned 40 you had to take a really hard look at your life and if you hadn’t got your act together, now was the time. When you get to 50, he said, if you still hadn’t got your act together it’s too late. So that’s me buggered then.

But seriously, I wonder how much longer can I keep working on ships? Kye calls the telephone “Dadda” and obviously I miss my family more than words can describe. But what else can I do? I get asked all the time “Why don’t you go work in the office for Carnival?” Good question. Well my family is in the UK so putting them in Miami is out of the question and besides, my Spanish sucks. The real reason is, of course, that I have nothing to offer. I can tell jokes about poo and write a simple blog and while I like to think I understand what you the guests want and I understand the operations of the cruise industry, I am about as useful for budgets and numbers and costs and flow charts as my friend Calvyn is useful with a pair of breasts.

So what to do? Carnival has an office in the UK from which they operate Cunard, P&O and other European operations. Maybe one day I will be sitting in a booth there watching my beard grow but the thought of doing that makes me feel totally depressed. Maybe one day I can work from home. Blog and Facebook and then travel on the ships for two weeks and come home again. But then I would miss the CD thing immensely. What to do then? Honestly I have no idea. Heidi said in her guest piece last week that she will support me always but I have to think how hard it is for her to be a Mum on her own as well. Yep, some serious thinking to be done for sure.

I think I may be having a mid-life crisis. If that’s the case then shortly I will start dressing like a teenager, which means the next time you see me I will have an earring, a baseball cap on backwards, I will be listening to Flo-Rida and hanging with my house boys…..and my pants will be worn so low down you will see the entrance to my arse The last option is to have an affair with a 20-year-old Latvian……but I don’t think either Heidi or thousands of blog readers would like that very much. I don’t actually mind getting old at all…..… honest. It’s just the next few years that worry me. Hopefully the next chapter of Richard Branson’s book will help me. In fact I think I will have a read now……..but not until I have seen how Nurse Annuskah is doing.

Time now for some Q and A…………..let’s get on with it.

Travel Agent asked:
Hi John,

Let’s see if this one goes through. It won’t load on other of your posts or on Facebook for some reason. Here is what I said regarding what you said about Richard Spacey on RCI: “I recently cruised on RCI with their CD Richard Spacey. I was surprised to see that he got a mention in your blog. Although he was humorous at times, I found much of what he said and did, and the way he frequently acted to be rather immature. And I even put that on my post-cruise comment card. My mother agreed with me, as well about that. Also, as a travel agent, I had a few questions that he (the CD) would have been the best person to answer, about the activities for example, and I was informed that he wasn’t available for the entire cruise. Now, even thought I haven’t cruised with you yet, from everything I’ve read in here and on your “blog thingy,” you actually do make yourself available at just about all hours, despite your already lessened eating and sleeping hours schedule. I truly believe that you, John, are what a true CD is supposed to be. I really do look forward to cruising with you on my next holiday.”

John says:
Hello Travel Agent,

Thanks so much for taking the time to write and I hope you had fun on your recent cruise. I have seen a few videos of Richard’s work and I have to say I thought he was very funny indeed. I have never cruised with him though and it was interesting therefore to read your observations. Cruise directors come in many shapes and sizes and with many different personality types. Some are outrageous and funny, some are calm and leave the jokes to the comedians. Some have acts and are singers, jugglers and comedians and some are just ex-bar waiters who are as talented as dead hamster. All cruise directors though should be, despite how they are on stage, available to gusts as much as possible and I was surprised to learn that Richard was not. Thank you for your work as a travel agent and I hope I will have the chance to entertain your clients and you one day soon and thank you also for the very kind words which I am humbled by.

Best wishes and hope to see you soon.

John

Margaret Balla asked:
John,

As a past guest from Australia, I recommend Carnival to friends and family, especially for your stage production shows, amongst many other things. Some family members (4), at my advice, recently sailed on Carnival Magic’s maiden voyage out of Venice. They have told me there were no production shows and they were also required to buy their own drinks at the captain’s cocktail party. Are they mistaken? Could this be true? Please let me know as I am recommending Carnival Breeze to other people and would not like to give false information to my friends and family. I am also over the moon that the Carnival Spirit is coming our way and look forward to sailing again on my favourite ship. I also had the pleasure of sailing with you on the Carnival Liberty — what great fun. Looking forward to hearing from you.

John says:
Hello Margaret Balla,

We are very excited that the Carnival Spirit is coming down under and I hope at some point to visit Australia myself. Thanks so much for recommending Carnival and your friends who sailed here are correct. You see, it was the inaugural cruise and unfortunately only one of our big three production shows was ready and this was the magic show Destination Unknown which was performed on the last night of the voyage. This was not what we wanted and of course it was disappointing to the guests and to us. All the shows are now in operation and are fantastic and each and every ship still has at least two big productions, as well as variety shows and our new Punchliner Comedy shows. Approximately two years ago we changed the elegant night complimentary cocktails to a happy hour and served the free drinks at the farewell party on the last afternoon of the cruise. This continues across the fleet although I am hoping I can persuade the beards to change this. More on this in the days ahead. So, I apologise sincerely to your friends that there were no production shows until the last night of the cruise and I hope they had a great time and I hope we will see each other again very soon.

Best wishes.

John

Brandi asked:
Hi John 🙂

First, Love this blog thingy makes me laugh and I have learned a lot about cruising. My fiancé and I will be sailing on the Pride Aug. 21 for our honeymoon as we will be married by then. I do have a question though…one I have not been able to find as yet. Who will the comedians be on this trip August 21- 28. We are so excited!! It will be both of our first cruises and I think I am an addict already! Also his birthday will be on the 23rd while we are on the cruise is there anything special I can do for him? Please help with any suggestions you may have.

Thank you in advance 🙂

Brandi B. (Soon to be V.)
Room 7117 Carnival Pride Aug. 21-28th

John says:
Hello Brandi,

May I wish you many congratulations on your forthcoming marriage and we are honoured to have you sailing with us on the Carnival Pride. Should you wish to get out of bed and see the Punchliner comedy shows you will see amongst others the brilliant Jim Brick and Michael Macy/ I hope you book a romantic table at the steakhouse which on the Carnival Pride is one of the prettiest in the fleet and I will be sending you both a little something to wish you a very happy honeymoon.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Cindy asked:
John,

There has to be a better way to organise who sits with who at the meal table. I just came back from the eight-day cruise on Carnival Freedom and had a good time but it was spoiled by the people we had dinner with. Me and my husband and five children are from Utah and were put on a table with a husband and wife and son who were from South Africa. They spoke English OK but we had nothing in common and they were also heavy drinkers which I felt at dinner was inappropriate for my children to see. I approached Ziad, the dinning manager, and asked to be moved but was informed that if I did I would have to go to the late seating which with five children obviously I did not want to do. Why doesn’t Carnival place Americans with Americans and take the time to learn more about the families cruising to avoid embarrassing situations like this?

John says:
Hello Cindy,

I was pleased to read that you had a fun time Cindy and I am sorry though to read that your dining experience was not what you hoped. Seating 300 guests is not an easy task and our maitre ds do their best to seat people who we think are suited. But the formula for this is based only on age and family demographics and certainly not always on nationality. I guess they put you together because you both had children and I am sorry that their drinking alcohol disturbed you. May I suggest that next you cruise you either contact me so I can arrange a private table or you try Your Time Dining which will allow you to eat either on your own or with different people each night. I will be happy to help you if I can.

Best wishes to you and all the family.

John

Jerry asked:
Hi John,

I would like to thank you for your help in making my wife’s parents 50th anniversary cruise a huge success. They sailed on the Carnival Dream May 14. When they arrived they were promptly helped on board since my mother-in-law had a broken foot. They commented that the care team was phenomenal. We had sent a gift to the room through the Carnival web site and it was there before they arrived in their cabin. They also received a lovely gift and personal letter from Butch stating you alerted him of their arrival. They were very moved by this. They also received recognition from the maitre d’ and he also sent a small gift to their cabin. I can’t thank you enough. I love reading the blog but like you I’m about a week behind. Thanks for all you do and when our new addition to our family is a little older we plan on cruising with Carnival again. We are thinking March for us and in a few years with our little one.

Jerry

John says:
Hello Jerry,

I must admit that it’s always nice to receive a thank you note following on from something I have helped arrange. I will pass on your thanks to Butch and the Carnival Dream team for their outstanding efforts. Please pass on my best wishes to your parents and I send the same to you and your family whom I hope to see on board very soon.

John

Lassiter asked:
Hi John,

I will be on the Carnival Miracle for the 9/11 cruise from New York City. I will not win any popularity contests here but I could not care less. I understand that it was an awful thing that happened but to interrupt the start of my vacation which I have worked hard for and deserve just as much as the next person with talk and remembrance of death and destruction is not right and I am disgusted that you are doing this. I vacation to get away from the bad news we are constantly bombarded with so to know that you are stopping all the fun and music has me very angry. That’s my opinion and I would hazard to guess it’s the opinion of others as well who are afraid to stand up and be counted. And I should say I am from Brooklyn.

John says:
Hello Lassiter,

I can understand how you feel to a certain degree and I apologise that our decision to do this has upset you so much. You have worked hard and yes, you do deserve a vacation to get away from the sometimes stressful world we live in. I truly believe that the few minutes we take out of the cruise to stop, pause and remember will not affect the fun that will start immediately afterwards and neither will it spoil your overall enjoyment of the cruise. And maybe I can be bold and say that you as a New Yorker may even appreciate this remembrance service once it is underway. I wish you a wonderful time and thanks so much for choosing to spend your vacation with Carnival.

Best wishes.

John

Mary Jane asked:
John,

Already gave deposit for an upcoming cruise from a “promotion” to Mexico. Then I read about the fire the Carnival Splendor had…they told me it was a new ship. Should I be concerned?

MJ

John says:
Hello Mary Jane,

Absolutely not. I was on Carnival Splendor when she had her unfortunate incident and I was on her again when she was re-launched after the repairs and can promise you she is a brilliant ship with a fantastic crew and looks superb. Carnival Splendor will give you a fantastic cruise vacation I promise. If you have any other questions please let me know.

Best wishes.

John

Susan asked:
Hi John,

I just started reading your blog about a month before we sailed on the Carnival Conquest (May 2011) for my middle son’s high school senior cruise. Now I can’t wait to read it every day! I’m so glad you are part of our life! HA! We’ve now taken the trip on the Carnival Conquest (my 3rd on that boat!) and had a splendid time. And, of course, I am anxious to book my next cruise.

So, we have now booked the Carnival Triumph for April 2012 and are taking my parents to celebrate their 80th birthdays. You see, 21 years ago, my dad took all of us on a cruise to celebrate his retirement. I was pregnant with my first child at the time, and we sailed on the Holiday. Now, I am returning the favor and taking them on a cruise to celebrate the big 80. It’s been 21 years since we have sailed together and my oldest son is looking forward to actually being alive, not in my tummy, for the cruise! Long story to get to my point, sorry. My dad has Parkinson’s Disease — a dreadful disease. We have booked cabins 6461 and 6459 (right next to each other). I am trying to find out if the balcony divider between these 2 cabins can be removed. I have searched Cruise Critic and Carnival forum and am not getting a definite answer. We’ll take turns spending time with my dad in the room when he isn’t up to walking the ship, so I’m trying to make sure it is as comfortable as possible. John, thanks again for all you do for all of your loyal followers. We’ve been on several different cruise lines, but I have to say that your hospitality is second to none! Looking forward to your answer. Thank YOU!!

John says:
Hello Susan,

Thanks so much for telling me the story of your past cruises and it was wonderfully written. Someone very, very close to me has Parkinson’s and I know how difficult a disease it is to live with. I have checked and yes, we can open the partitions for you so please remind me a month or so before you sail here or a week before on Facebook and I will help you get this done. And if there is anything else we can do for Dad please let me know.

Best wishes to all the family.

John

MonkeyHead Alan asked:
John,

I have a group of 40 going on the Carnival Ecstasy and want to know Carnival’s policy about togas. we all want to wear togas to the last night dinner and then the disco, etc. we were allowed to do this on Royal Caribbean so I hope we won’t have a problem on the ecstasy ship.

John says:
Hello MonkeyHead Alan,

Thank you so much for bringing your group on the Carnival Ecstasy. We will be thrilled to have you there but unfortunately we will not allow you to wear the togas in the dining room. You can wear them in the dance club assuming they are appropriate which…….I am sure they will be. Have a brilliant time.

Best wishes.

John

Eddie F asked:
Hello John,

Thanks for the fantastic time we had on the Carnival Magic. Everything was amazing but I have to single out Ken, the singing maitre d. Is there any way he can sing next time when we sail in February in the big theatre with the live band? I am sure the passengers would love that. Thanks for a great cruise John and as always you were the best CD on the seven seas.

Cheers mate

John says:
Hello Eddie F,

Thank you so much for this great review and yes, Ken is amazing. I have tried many times to get him out of his comfort zone and on the big stage but he is a little bashful about this. I will renew my efforts to get him on the big stage because you are correct, many guests would really appreciate it. Thanks so much for the kind words and hope to see you again soon.

Best wishes.

John

Sandy asked:
John,

August 28 my wife and 2 kids on the Carnival Victory. Can you get us a table for three by the window? Charlotte’s birthday the 29th and she will be 16. That’s the day we are in St. Thomas so can you arrange to have her cabin 2310 decorated so it’s a surprise when she gets back. This is our 8th Carnival cruise.

John says:
Hello Sandy,

Thanks so much for taking the family on the Carnival Victory and I know you will have a great time. I have asked the maitre d to do his best to get you a table as requested and as for the decorations you can arrange to do this through www.carnival.com/bonvoyage or from the Formalities shop on board. I will be happy to send a gift to Charlotte though whom I wish a very happy birthday. Have a great cruise.

Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today. Back with more tomorrow.

Every now and then I get asked for a recipe of one of our dishes served on the ships. Last week I was asked for one the seared tuna so here thanks to Chef Sanjay is how to prepare it.

Seared Ahi Tuna

Yield = 4 Servings

Ingredient                                                                               quantity

Tuna ahi sashimi grade                                                           4 oz

Pepper – black whole                                                              ½ tsp

Kosher salt                                                                             ½ tsp

Pink peppercorn                                                                     ½ tsp

Soy sauce – tamari                                                                   2 tsp    

Vinegar – rice wine                                                                  ½ tsp

 

Procedure

  • Trim Tuna loin into strips with 1 inch height and width.
  • Roast and crush both pepper corn mix with kosher salt and crust tuna loin strips with it.
  • Heat the flat top to 250 degree F.
  • Sear over the flat top for 10 sec on each sides.
  • Mix tamari and rice wine vinegar and Marinate loin for 1 hr
  • Portion out Tuna as required.(1 oz per portion)

 

Let’s talk pizza. I want to start by mentioning that now and then some of the beards in the Miami office poop (spelt correctly) on over to Cruise Critic and read what people are talking about as they do with my blog, Facebook and over Internet-related cruise sites like Cruise Mates. They also read www.IworshiptheMac.com, www.1000waystocooktofu.com and www.geeksinsearchofrumpypumpy.com.

Anyway, whenever the beards find a subject that they want some response on from me or they feel that the senior management beards need to know about they will pass it on. One such subject dropped into my inbox from Eric the Beard yesterday…….and that subject was pizza. This apparently is a hot subject at the moment on Cruise Critic and worthy it seems of my thoughts. Now I won’t slap the link on because I don’t feel it’s necessary but I will say there is some healthy opinion on this subject ranging from Carnival’s pizza is fantastic to it’s the worst I have ever had…….which unless your pizza is being topped with cheese, salami and my underpants is certainly not true. What do you think of our pizza?

Maybe me writing about this wasn’t such a good idea. You see, since being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes which as we know from yesterday’s blog is because I “ate like a pig,” I have been avoiding carbs in the same way I avoid the French. I am afraid there is simply no other way for me to control my sugar level and my weight. Yes, I know I am fat but if I ate carbs I would be even bigger and would walk down Promenade Deck looking like a half inflated balloon, swaying and wheezing. And so pizza is just one of those things, along with white bread, any kind of potatoes, pasta and chips that I just don’t feature in my life any more. Cigars, Megan Fox’s bottom and huge lumps of well-done steak, yes. But carbs and seeing myself naked in the mirror…………..no way.

Obviously before diabetes joined my life I ate pizza. Of course I did. I am fat, so pizza and I were mates but Mr. Pizza was not as good a friend to me as a huge bucket of chicken fried in Kentucky or a massive plate of chips (fries) covered in mayonnaise, onions and ketchup was. And, anyway, pizza to me has always just been pizza. No big deal. I ate a great pizza once in Naples once. Heidi and I went with our friend Adolfo and had pizza overlooking the harbor and with Mount Vesuvius as company. And as I mentioned in a blog a few days ago as well, I got off the ship in Civitavecchia and had a pizza that was as hard as deep fried elephant scrotum served in pizzeria that offered service that would have been more friendly in a Turkish prison… That’s it though, I have no great pizza stories……….it’s just …….well pizza…

But I know that I am a minority and for many of you pizza is the king of all foods. I listen to my Italian and New York friends and my great mate Mr. Bentley talk about how you need great dough to produce the perfect balance of crispiness and chewiness that a pizzaholic demands from their pizza and that success is down to the heat that only a wood burning oven achieves. What’s funny though is talking to Italians, real Italians — not someone who watches the Sopranos and walks around the house saying “fuggedaboutit” — find the global obsession with pizza a bit strange because to them its pizza……..commonplace and something not to fantasise about. Probably because they are too busy fantasising about bottoms. Then there are the New York guests who state that nothing can compare with the mysterious and magical pizzas of New York pizza, and they’re probably right.

So back to Carnival’s pizza and your thoughts about it. Do you like it? Well, certainly judging from what happens here on the Carnival Magic, people really like it. I asked Chef Sanjay who told me that we make approximately 450 whole pizzas on a sea day and are constantly filling that “nothing but pizza will do” cravings that seem to afflict many of the guests 24 hours a day which of course is how long our pizzeria is open for. Now some of the comments on the Cruise Critic link state that our pizza is not any good and so I come to you to add your opinions to the pizza story. Is it good and if so what do you like about it, apart from the price? How does it compare to other cruise lines and if indeed it needs to be improved as the case may be, how should we improve it? I look forward to hearing from the pizza experts.

You know, while writing this I suddenly became aware that my reference to Cruise Critic may be construed by those who live in their parent’s attics that I am trying to pour scorn again on the members of this fine site. Honestly, I am not. They have highlighted a valid point which is why the beards sent it to me. But because of some of the things said here and on my Facebook page I feel I need to write more on this subject. I like Cruise Critic. I like the way it sets people free to talk about their cruises and give advice and opinion. A cruise line says “the best food at sea” — they say “we have eaten better road kill.” The reason I don’t read it apart from not being a member is that there are, just as there are on my Facebook page, a few…….ummmmm…….rude people. You know them. The ones whose postings drop down like a roll of toilet paper, thousands of words bitching about what is basically bugger all. The types who start their “review” with, “The Cruise from Hell” or “Never Again on Carnival.” As I said, it’s not just Cruise Critic, it’s Facebook and as you see now and then, they can be found right here on the blog as well.

Look, it’s absolutely fair to comment on a rude staff member or an excursion that didn’t do what it was supposed to or air conditioning that didn’t work. We have to know these things and now that only a certain percentage of guests get a comment card, sites like Cruise Critic and to a lesser degree my blog and Facebook page are even more important. But let’s face it……some of these people would moan about the fluffiness of their cloud in heaven.

Cruise Critic is 99% fuelled by the generosity and kindness of cruisers who write informative reviews after their voyage and reviews that are hugely helpful to others. But like any opinion site it is has become a magnet for fakers and I am being very careful that the blog doesn’t become the same. I think though I am losing the battle because every now and then the beards and I find a post that when I check the name or the supposed sailing date……they don’t match. It’s only one or two a month but enough to prove that the “trolls” are out there and scarily they have time to kill.

Each sea day I host a morning show. It’s one of my favourite things to do because I get to read dedication letters and have fun with live phone-ins.

Now normally I do this on my own but as you have seen in my blogs recently I have had a co- host in the shape and form of Calvyn “Champagne” Martens. He is so funny and has a sharp wit. He also has an……ummmm…….unusual posture. He is 6 feet 7 inches tall and moves his head down so it’s around his chest and this, along with his flamboyancy was captured in a drawing. Now the drawing was made by a 5-year-old girl named Dana who captured my obvious roundness and Calvyn’s ummmmm………Calvyn-ness. Here is the drawing so see for yourself.

Now, for some reason this drawing and the fact that in this five-year-old’s mind this is how we looked, caused us to laugh…………and then we couldn’t stop. See for yourself.

It was unprofessional of us to lose it like that live on TV…….but for some reason we both found it very, very funny. And if that’s how a five year old sees me then it’s definitely time for that mid-life crisis………and a Latvian.

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.