HARRY POTTER AND THE TOTALLY BONKERS BAG LADY

August 4, 2011 -

John Heald

I must be the only man on the Carnival Magic amongst the guests and the crew who does not own a pair of sandals or flip flops. And I don’t own a pair because I despise feet, all feet, with nearly the same passion as I despise hemorrhoids, people who blame me for being fined for buying a fake bag in Venice…….and the French. I’m told some people enjoy the art of toe sucking. How is this possible? How can a man look at a lady, even a Latvian lady, and think “Mmmmmmm, look at the big toe on her!”

I think my hatred of feet began when I was a bar waiter on the Holiday and shared a cabin and dorm-style shared bathrooms with various nationalities who all would shower in their bare feet ……. me……. I wore my Nikes. There’s nothing worse than taking a shower and watching a cluster of hair – and who knows what else — floating over your feet.

In years gone by most men would never wear sandals. The Indonesian, Filipino and Caribbean crew would but never the male guests. But suddenly it became alright for men to wear sandals and flip-flops and they even became a major fashion statement and as soon as the sun came out it meant getting your feet out in flip-flops, sandals and the shoes worn in Jesus’ day at the first hint of a break in the clouds.

Why do we do this? Heat rises. There is absolutely no reason why your feet, way down there at the bottom, should, in shoes and socks get any hotter in summer than in winter. Your top half, sure, but not your feet. And feet are ugly…. Norwegian Epic ugly. They should stay under socks. Men’s feet, in particular, make me squirm…..the color, the sparse hair, the little toe that has been crushed into the one next to it over the years so that it has turned and bent and cuddles up against it like a baby suckling on a nipple…….not the best description I know but I haven’t written the word “nipple” in a blog for a long time and I have missed it. In fact, I think I will type it again for no reason…………nipple.

Back to feet and I also absolutely hate the yellowed, cracked toenails, and the fully blackened one on the right biggy from where a LeBron James-sized chap stood on it a few years ago. How can bringing these out in public be considered acceptable? The sight of such a foot in flip-flops, walking on the Carnival Magic’s Lido Deck, is just so wrong, the plastic sole going slap, slap, slap against the sweaty arch. And sometimes you see people in flip-flops when they come on stage. Seriously, aren’t they worried that somebody will stamp on their toes – either accidentally or, if the somebody happens to be me….. deliberately? And I am no big fan of “mandals” either. You know the shiny Italian type with big lateral straps that metro sexual guests seem to wear.

And sorry ladies but your feet are not much better. They are usually smaller, at least, which is something. And they are sometimes better kept, ready to make a place for nail varnish. Oh, how women love to paint a toe. For most of the year they can only slap brightly colored chemicals over their eyes, lips, nose, cheeks, hair and fingernails. Summer opens up 10 new little canvasses for some nail technician to paint on. And what’s with all these women who don’t really have a toenail on their little toe, just the merest sliver of nail poking out in the middle. Fu Kin the nail technician will though still try and paint the toe around it to make it look bigger?

Surely then the worst job on the ship is the poor sod who sits up at the spa or a salon and spends all day every day doing footacures or whatever they are called. At what point in her life did she wake up and say “You know what Mum, when I leave school I want to work on a huge cruise ship scraping dead skin of people’s feet.” So today I salute…….the ship’s pedicurist the wonderful and amazing Maria Charlene who I am told gives the most fantastic pedithingies in the world …………here she is.

I can’t think of a worse job on board than that…………apart from Ketut’s of course.

Time for some Q and A………off we go.

Penny A asked:
John,

I cruised on Carnival Inspiration and found the passengers to be much less travelled than my cruise on the Carnival Freedom. There have been comments on Cruise Critic that Carnival is purposely down grading its product to attract people who have never cruised before and certainly the type of passenger I saw on the ship proves that. There were people roaming the ship in gangs and many had obviously never used a knife and fork or sat at a table before. Is this really where Carnival wants to go?

John says:
Hello Penny A,

I am not sure I totally understand what you’re saying Penny and to be honest am taken aback by your question. Certainly the affordability of the four- and five-day Carnival Inspiration cruise you took will have attracted people who have never cruised before and that is absolutely one of our targets and I think I would say that every cruise line would say the same. I hope you had fun on the Carnival Inspiration and that we see you again soon.

Best wishes.

John

Jack Hamer asked:
John,

I have seen that you were requested in the blog to organize a meet and greet for a Cruise Critic group. I wondered why Carnival does not support this more like other cruise lines. Don’t get me wrong, I like Carnival and have cruised five times with you guys. But at NCL we have meet and greets that are attended by the captain, cruise director, maitre d and other senior ship officials and I wondered why Carnival does not offer the same excellent service.

John says:
Hello Jack Hamer,

Thanks for taking the time to write. Yes, I have been organising some Meet and Greets for my friends from Cruise Critic and when and if time allows I try to go myself and I know my colleagues do, as well. However, this is not always possible and the same is said for the captain as well. Please let me know if I can help you organise one and I hope we see you for cruise number six with us again very soon.

Best wishes.

John

Jane Voyta asked:
Hi John!

I hope that you enjoyed your trip home. I was with you on the Carnival Magic sailing on June 24th out of Barcelona, the cruise before you went home! I am the woman who shared my Pop Rocks with you. I was wondering how you or Heidi or Kye enjoyed them. Did they bring back childhood memories? I have an unlimited supply so if you ever need more just give a shout out!

Be well and safe sailing!

John says:
Hello Jane Voyta,

Thanks so much for the Pop Rocks which did indeed bring back Heidi many memories. We gave a couple to Kye and the look on her face was priceless. My memory of Pop Rocks involved my sister’s cat George. When we were young this cat would allow everyone to stroke and play with him ……except me, of course. I bought loads of bags of Pop Rocks, sprinkled them on its litter tray. Soon, George went on his tray to take a pee and when he did the Pop Rocks started to fizz and explode under the sodding thing’s arse and revenge………was mine. I do hope you had fun and thanks again for your kindness. Hope to see you again very soon.

Best wishes.

John


Barbara Stone asked:

John,

On the 12 bottles of water that you are allowed to bring on board can they be liter size?

John says:

Hello Barbara Stone,

Yes, indeed they can. Rather heavy though I think to carry on the ship? Please let me know if you need anything else.

Best wishes.

John

Mary Anne and Glenn asked:
John,

I am heading back to the Carnival Legend sailing of August 21. I hope that Wee Jimmy is not the cruise director. I found him so annoying and his Scottish/Irish accent was impossible for most Americans to understand. The cruise before that we had Jen whose last name I don’t remember but whose grating voice I can still hear now. I think Carnival’s standard of cruise directors is far below that of Celebrity and RCCL. JMHO

John says:
Hello Mary Anne and Glenn,

I am happy to hear you are returning to the Carnival Legend for what will be a brilliant cruise I am sure. I was surprised to read your comments about Wee Jimmy who by the way is Scottish. You know, no cruise director, myself definitely included, is ever going to appeal to every guest on board. You see, just like a TV program or a film there is always going to be a few who won’t like it despite it being so popular. Wee Jimmy has many fans and is a very successful cruise director. However, I do understand that not everyone has universal appeal and I respect that. Your CD this time will be James Dunn whose energy and infectious smile will be things that I am positive will draw you to him. I have no idea about Celebrity’s cruise directors and I do know some of RCI’s and they are excellent. But I do think that we have a fantastic group of cruise director’s at Carnival and with the new crop of youngsters we have I am positive this will be the case for some time to come.

Best wishes to you both.

John

PS – WHAT DOES JMHO MEAN?

Robert Rochell asked:
Hi John,

Just back from a cruise on the Carnival Valor and it was a fantastic time for me and the wife and our 2 children. Thank you John for arranging the table for four and the trophies for the kids. I want to say that this vacation cruise was so needed as my wife is still undergoing treatment for her car accident. She was hit by a drunk driver and in hospital for two months. The crew were top notch and a special shout out must go to our waiters Andre and Gabriela who the kids are still talking about today. Thanks John and please as we did not get comment cards can you tell “the beards” what a great time we had and a special thank you and a raise to Andre and Gabriela. Carnival rocks!!

John says:
Hello Robert Rochell,

I was so glad to read that you had a fantastic family cruise vacation and after the horrific accident your wife had I hope it rejuvenated her and all of you the months ahead. I will certainly pass on your thanks and praise to Andre and Gabriela and make sure that their supervisors see how much you enjoyed them. Thanks again for writing and I hope we see you all again very soon.

Best wishes to you all.

John

Rick Miles asked:
Hi John,

Hope you are enjoying your time home with Heidi and Kye. You deserve the time away to relax and prepare for the BBQ. I just wanted to say thank you for sending along a gift pack to the young engineer and his wife (Casey & Jenn Gilman) who were sailing with you during the last cruise before you went home to vacation. They were extremely thrilled to get the personal attention and that you actually acknowledged them during your morning talk show. As I guessed, Casey has done nothing but rave about how much fun they had and how beautiful the ship was. He also can’t stop talking about how much more you added to the fun of the cruise. Thank you so much for your special care.

Your Platinum cruising friends,

Rick and Betty Miles

John says:
Hello Rick Miles,

It was my pleasure and I am glad that they had so much fun. Please send them my very best wishes and I hope we see them and of course you again very soon.

Best wishes to all.

John


Hugh C asked:

Hey Big Boy,

When is Carnival going to wake up and change the way Platinum members are treated. They should be welcomed with a certain degree of enthusiasm and “spoiled.” When we go to the platinum check in it’s not much different than the regular line except we don’t have to play the cattle in the lines anymore. On board it’s the same story and Carnival needs to take better care of us or they will find we head off to other cruise lines. Your friend Linda Mum of DJ and other cruise critic readers all wrote how fed up we were with you John and your promises of a new loyalty program. Linda was right, put up or shut up!

John says:
Hello Hugh C,

I am sorry that you are not impressed with the Platinum benefits that we offer and obviously the last thing we want to have happen is for you or any other loyal customer to be disappointed. I know I have been saying this for a long time but there is a new loyalty program on its way and I hope that you and all our Platinum guests enjoy the benefits that will be forthcoming. I wish in hindsight I had not mentioned it as early as I did because apparently I jumped the gun on announcing some of the offerings. I understand everyone’s frustration for this and I sincerely apologise. If there is something specific that you would like to see then please let me know and I will pass on your suggestions to the right people. Thanks again for your loyalty, which I hope continues for a long time to come. \

Best wishes.

John

Lassiter asked:

Message H82seaUgo just posted that you stole your famous Bedtime Story from a man called Dave Armour. So finally we see your true colors Mr. Heald and that you are in fact a common thief.

John says:
Hello Lassister,

I have been umming and ahhing about whether to post this or not. I say this not because I have anything to hide but because I just wasn’t sure whether to give you or H82seaUgo some air time. However, it deserves an answer. Sorry to call you an “it” H82seaUgo, but there are no clues to your gender in your screen name. Anyway, the bedtime story is mine, however the outline of the noises as in the wind and the rain does indeed come from another cruise director ………but it’s not Dave Armor. You see, I never got to work with Dave or see him perform and now that he is entertaining in heaven, I never will and that is something I will always regret.

Before I reinvented the Bedtime Story to what it is today, it was performed under a different title and a different ending. I think the original sketch was performed by Bob Goss, a terrific CD from what I am told. The first time I ever saw it was when Gary Hunter my mentor performed it. So while I kept the audience participation noises I took three characters and had them…….well many of you know and for those who don’t……. I won’t spoil it. So please pass onto H82seaThingy my kind regards and thank him/her for allowing me to write about the incredible man that was Dave Armor who we all miss very much.

Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today. And yesterday I was going to finish right there. I was so frustrated, so wound up at some of those questions and comments that I really felt I couldn’t write anymore. But later, I realised that this was wrong and that the majority of the 15,000 to 20,000 daily views we have mean that you…….yes, you deserve better. My great friend and Carnival colleague PA 007 wrote to me suggesting it was probably people loyal to other cruise lines who are responsible for some of the comments and he/she is correct I am sure. It’s hard though to know which comments are which especially if they hide behind some silly screen name. Anyway, I am here to take the rough with the smooth and report on the good, the bad and the French. So let’s get on with it.

We have about 247 guests on board this cruise all of whom I have to say are absolutely stark raving bonkers. We had pushing and shoving and moaning and complaining that the Ocean Plaza wasn’t big enough for this grand event so we had to move it to the Showtime Theatre. James the ACD called me and told me of the problem we had and so I went along to the lounge and couldn’t believe my eyes. In fact, I had Calvyn do a head count and there were 247 people there.

I took the mic from Christian, the entertainment staff member who was hosting the event and could not help myself. I said, in a sort of playful, good-natured way, “What the heck is wrong with you all? It’s only a sodding Trivia Quiz. You are all nuts………totally nuts.” Can you really get so excited about a trivia quiz? Can a trivia quiz really be your reason for all this commotion? Normally we have 30 to 50 people take part in trivia quizzes here in Europe. But not this one.

Now I know there will be angry postings following this. I know that people will make plump voodoo dolls that look like me and shove pins up my arse but I have to speak out. The influence of these books and the movies has become altogether much, it is ruining our world and taking over the Carnival Magic on a sea day afternoon. And yes, I wish I was talking about a book about the end of the world or a coffee table book with over 1,000 photos of Megan Fox’s bottom or even the Bible…..but I’m not. Because the reason 247 people were playing trivia…. is because it was a Harry bloody Potter trivia quiz.

I don’t mean to be cruel because I haven’t a bad word to say about J.K. Rowling in Money. She works with charity and is sort of like an extension of The Queen with a bit of Kate Winslet thrown in. I saw the original movie but I never could get into it. Maybe because I was in my 40s or maybe because private school kids on a broomstick don’t really do it for me. And since then I have seen clips of the other 3,900 Harry Potter films and they are all the same. The kid with the glasses will be nervous all the time, and the kid with the red hair will keep falling over and wondering what that funny feeling is every time he straddles a broomstick. There’ll be some reason why they’re worried about being expelled, but they won’t be. Then there’ll be some sort of witch or wizard who is controlled by a British actor with a beard which they triumph over and still neither of them will have the bollocks to stick their tongue down the back of Hermione’s throat.

But it seems that I am in a very tiny minority group because the spotty wizard had guests as young as 10 and as old as 71 there. Yes, we asked the youngest and the oldest to stand up and it was a 10 year old boy from Vancouver and a 71 year old lady from Anaheim, California. They and the other 245 people were asked 30 H .P. questions and while neither the 10-year-old or the 71 year old were amongst the winners……..a staggering 18…….yes, 18 people got all 30 questions right. And not prepared for this eventuality meant that the staff had to give away 18 solid bloody gold sodding plastic trophies…….18!

There is no escaping then that this is a popular event and we will be better prepared for this next cruise both with location and some bonus questions. Maybe we should branch out with more specialty themed trivias. Star Trek, Star Wars, Friends, Seinfeld, Great French Military Victories. Do you have any suggestions? One thing is for certain and that is Team Potter continues to be the most popular franchise in the world……especially here on the appropriately named…..(Carnival) Magic. Potter my arse.

Ladies and gentlemen. I have met many difficult guests over the years. There was the five-foot nothing lady who karate kicked me in the bollocks because there was no mah jong game on board. There was the lady who thrust a bag of wet laundry in my chest and said “wash them.” There was the man who on the gangway of the Carnival Triumph in New York called me the best name any guest has ever called me when I told him the ship had yet to be cleared and he could not go ashore………..and that name was “Sperm of the Devil.”

There was the lady who threw an orange at me, there was a man and a woman who accused me of being a racist because there were no African American dancers in the show and were so angry at me that the woman actually tried to slap me. There have been people here on the blog who have called me fat, obese, untalented and all sorts of names and yet none of these…..none of them have gotten me so frustrated, so uptight, so……… ARRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH ………… as Mrs. Chanel.

Why? Well she really believes that I owe her 400 Euros and she is using every opportunity to tell me, including waiting for me at the bottom of the stage steps when I walked out for the show last night. Yep, I walked out to introduce entertainer Philip Brown and there she was ready to pounce. I politely explained that I was going to introduce the show and for some reason she decided to answer with a loud “he screwed me.” Yep, that’s what this 50 something lady said …… “He screwed me” and most of the downstairs section of the lounge heard it. Now this had me in the most embarrassing of situations. Did the audience understand that her accusation was that I had somehow screwed her out of money and not an accusation that I had thrown over my shoulder, carried her outside and had rumpy pumpy with her in lifeboat number 7?

Thank goodness that there were two staff members there packing up the pre-show bingo equipment as they hurried over and “escorted” her to the back of the lounge. I quickly introduced the singer and off I went to meet her and was presented with a piece of paper with 20 signatures on it from alleged other guests that she said felt that she should get the fine paid. She has been to the desk nine times. She has written to the captain and she has had three meetings with me and the guest services manager and through all of it I have remained calm and I have remained professional. But I lost it last night.

Maybe it was the questions on the blog today, maybe it was the fact that on Monday I had to stand next to a staff member who had been asked to call home immediately and watch him as he was being told that his younger brother had suddenly and tragically passed away. Maybe it was while I was arranging for him to leave the ship immediately and go home to his family that the guest services desk called to say that Mrs. Chanel was at the desk screaming and shouting and maybe it was because as we stood at the back of the showroom while Philip Brown sang “Your My First My Last My Everything” that she poked me in the chest on every syllable as she continued her rant. Maybe it was all of these things that made me suddenly and without warning simply laugh out loud for a few seconds then turn on my heels, walk through the crew only door and closed in behind her, no doubt leaving her opened mouth in disbelief.

She, of course, went straight to the guest services desk to complain that I did that but you know what, I did everything I could and apologized as much as a human being possibly can. I just don’t think we’re responsible. I am always sure to mention that buying fake goods is illegal in Italy but because it was not written on a huge neon sign on the gangway she blames Carnival and specifically me. Obviously it’s not my fault that she lost the 400 Euros and her fake Chanel bag which was probably made by some poor 12 year old girl in Pakistan.

I should be sitting here feeling mad at myself that I turned and walked away. I should be feeling pissed off at my unprofessional act. But you know what. I’m not as upset as I thought I would be. I actually feel surprisingly good about it. Now don’t worry. I won’t be making a habit of this but everyone has a bad day at work and this is one of very few I have had in 24 years. I have a feeling it’s not the last I will hear of this though. Maybe she is reading this now and in some respects I actually hope she is. And if that is the case madam I make bugger all apologies for what I did. I was nice and listened the first three times but the petition, the poking in the chest, the name calling and the accusation of screwing you in front of the guests was just too much.

On that note it’s time to say goodnight but oh yes…….one more last thing for the bag lady ………… apparently someone put a Carnival plastic bag on her bed with the word Carnival crossed out and replaced in big red marker pen by the word “Chanel.” What kind of immature bugger would do that?

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.