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October 18, 2011 -

John Heald

There are many of the senior beards that work at Carnival HQ that have known me for years. Beards who used to work with me on board and know me. By that I mean they know and understand my personality, they know my strengths and indeed my many weaknesses and they all know and put up with my faults as they worked with me for many years and had to put up with and my sometimes rancid bottom.

However there are those beards that have joined us recently and don’t really know me yet. They are brilliant. They brought us Fun Ship 2.0 and they have many more surprises in store that will keep us at the top of the cruise line tree and I am amazed at the brilliant new ideas they are bringing to the ships. But we really haven’t gotten to know each other very well. That’s because they are busy and have meetings and then they have meetings and then they have their Blackberries and then they have meetings and then they bugger off home to their families and their 890 fish. So slowly, ever so slowly I am getting to know them and they are getting to know me.

Last night I went out with one of the new senior beards for an after dinner chat and a drink. And as we sat in the hotel bar my bearded friend ordered a glass of Chatenufe Du Crap and I ordered ……yep, you guessed it, a Diet Coke.

“Have a proper drink,” the beard suggested.

“I don’t drink,” I replied.

And then it started. “Oh John……..are you an alcoholic?”

Yep……I knew it was coming. It always does when I say I don’t drink and haven’t since 1997. When I tell people I am not an alcoholic the next question is usually “Oh, are you religious?”

Funny isn’t it? It’s October 2011 and if you tell someone you don’t smoke or eat red meat it comes across as impressive…….tell them you don’t drink……and people think you’re strange. Certainly I think that’s the first thought the beard had last night and if he is reading this and I am wrong I apologise. But I think I am right only because it has happened many times over the years and I am sure there are many guests I have met and many of my Carnival friends who must think I am Bill W’s best mate.

What else always happens is the effect me not drinking seems to have on others. When I tell people that I don’t drink, they start looking at themselves. They either start trying to justify drinking, or say “I really must give it up.” Or they’ll tell you a story about how they stopped drinking for a few weeks and it felt fantastic.

I stopped drinking as I said just back in 1997 when I was CD on the Carnival Imagination. I had been out in the disco or dance night club as we call it now. I would have been grooving to the sounds of Wham and Rick Astley, two artists I insisted that the DJ played anytime I was in the disco. None of that Pee Diddly rap-rave bollocks while I was in there thank you very much.

I think we may have been celebrating someone’s birthday and I had drunk three or four cognacs …….large ones. Cognac was my favourite drink. I am not an aggressive drunk. I usually giggle a lot and tell a joke about a nun and an Elephant. Anyway, I remember going to bed around 2 am but then the phone rang at 4 am and I was told to come to the bridge.

There had been a report of a missing guest and I had to call a full muster. This meant getting on the PA system, waking every guest and crew member up and telling them that the stateroom stewards and department heads would be checking that every guest was accounted for. I was told this by a captain who I can’t name but who had a strong Italian accent. He has retired now and I have to say he was one of the finest navigators I have ever met and so so funny. But his thick Italian accent was difficult to understand at the best of times without my head feeling like Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan were having drunken rumpy pumpy in it.

This is what I remember.

“You zee”……the captain said……”Wake op de passengers and tell dem wea hava to check a them in de beds.”

“Ummmmm……….”What?” I replied

I had flashbacks of the last time he had called me to the bridge to tell me “Johnny…….you zee make on an announcement dat we no go Cayman!”

“Ummm…………”What?”

“Johnny…….you zee make on an anoouncment dat we no go Cayman.”

“Oh OK……why are we not going to Grand Cayman?”

“De oricani come”

“Ummm ………… “What?”

“De oricani come.”

It was just as he was about to repeat it for the third time and just as he was getting ready to explode because I didn’t understand that the staff captain told me “We are not going to Cayman as the hurricane is heading that way.”

But on this occasion it wasn’t just his thick accent that I was having trouble with…..it was my head and my stomach and ……I have no idea how I managed to get through that night. My speech sounded slurred and I couldn’t concentrate and luckily the guest was found and it turned out to be he was ……well……..drunker than I was.

I have no idea how I got through that night and how the guests understood me anymore than I understood the captain but since that night I have never drunk anything on board or indeed on land. It’s been 14 years now and I don’t miss it all.

I have to leave this section with my favourite story about what people do when they have had too much to drink. My best friend Alan was working in the city of London some years ago. It was Christmas time and he had been at the office party. Now this was back in the early 90s when times in the city were good especially amongst the bankers of which Alan was one. Anyway, the champagne had been guzzled all night and Alan somehow caught the last train back to Southend on Sea. There were a few people on the train and most were in the same comatose state as Alan was.

The train ride from London Fenchurch Street to where we live is around 50 minutes and it was halfway through the journey with the train rattling and rolling along that the 17 glasses of champagne and the chicken vindaloo curry started to curdle and Alan woke up knowing he had seconds to act. He knew there would be a toilet on the next carriage but he also knew he would never make it. Now remember, this was the early 90s. There were no lap tops and Eyepads ……… everyone carried around something called a “paper” and they did that in brief cases. And so Alan knowing he was about to vomit reached up above him, grabbed his brief case off the rail and deposited champagne de vindaloo into his briefcase. The other few passengers were either pretending not to notice and had their eyes tight shut because they didn’t want to see the contents of Alan’s stomach or………..they were as I said before in a drunken coma. Anyway, Alan closed his eyes feeling pretty sorry for himself and some 30 minutes later he got off the train. Collected his briefcase and walked the short distance to his home. Once home and knowing that he would be as welcome in his bed where his wife was sleeping as Mel Gibson is welcome in a synagogue …………he went to the spare room and went straight to sleep.

The next morning he woke up. And as he began to rise he remembered what had happened on the train and looked down at the briefcase knowing what was inside. He took the briefcase into the bathroom and prepared himself for the hell that was about to greet him as he opened it up. One click……two clicks……it was open.

But….there was nothing inside apart from his paperwork. He couldn’t understand. Had he dreamt the whole thing? He then realised he hadn’t dreamt it. He had projectile vomited last night on the train……..but he had done so in someone else’s briefcase. And that someone was probably thinking, “What the hell did I do last night?” as he scraped bits of diced curried carrot off his spreadsheets. Brilliant.

Time for today’s Q and A………….let’s get going.

Luke Bevan asked:
I will be celebrating my 30th birthday on the Carnival Dream October 29. I am young and single and want to make sure the dining room people don’t put me with old people. I need to be with single women. I am in cabin 1419.

John says:
Hello Luke Bevan,

Thanks for letting me know your request. I will send this to the maître d who will do his best to place you with people just like you. Have a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Judy Harrison asked:
Hey John,

Family and I have been on the Carnival Conquest three times now and CANNOT wait for the Carnival Magic. Question — The entrance to the Lanai will it be accessible for guest with special needs? Hubby is so much like you and enjoys a good cigar in the morning and after dinner. We SO did love to go to Alfred’s on the Conquest (every night of our cruise back on May 1, 2011). Enjoy yourself and for the thousandth time THANKS for all you do.

John says:
Hello Judy Harrison,

It’s great to see you getting excited about the Carnival Magic, what a brilliant ship she is. Please tell your husband that he will be able to enjoy his cigar on the port side of the Lanai as it is indeed wheelchair accessible. I hope you have a brilliant time and if there is anything else you need please let me know.

Best wishes.

John

Cathy Burk asked:
John,

Thanks so much for all you did to commemorate my dad’s 90th birthday on the Carnival Splendor 8/14/11. We loved the chocolate-covered strawberries you sent and Todd also sent a bottle of champagne, a ship on a stick and a medal. We also talked to Todd on the morning show! Of course the dining staff also took very good care of us!

Thanks again for adding to this wonderful cruise!

Cathy

John says:
Hello Cathy,

That’s my pleasure and I hope Dad had the most wonderful time and that we will see you all again very soon. Thanks for taking the time to write.

Best wishes to you all.

John

Tim Rinehart asked:
Dear John:

I have just been reading your blog and I am amazed by some of the things people write you to complain about. My wife and I will be taking our eighth cruise on carnival in December and I have only the greatest of praise for the staff of your ships. These people go out of their way to make sure that all the guests have the best cruise possible. The complainers need to realize the problems they had are things they should have taken care of directly themselves instead of crying that carnival should have done it for them. Although you treat us like royalty we are not. TAKE RESPONSIBILTY PEOPLE!!! I salute the Carnival staff and thank you for memories that will last us a lifetime.

John says:
Hello Tim Rinehart,

Yes indeed, it does seem that more than any other section of the travel industry that cruise ship guests do tend to comment on some quite extraordinary things. I often wonder if that’s our fault and had we not been so apologetic in years gone by would they feel that commenting and expecting something back be as rampant in the industry as it is now. That door I feel will never be closed and of course I guess I do encourage it somewhat here on the blog thingy as well. Thanks for your kind words and for your loyalty and if there is anything you need please let me know.

Best wishes.

John

Beth Trewin asked:

I had a good time with you on Carnival Magic but I do have a comment about the Cucina. I ordered the pasta carbonara and it was so al dente I couldn’t eat it and sent it back. The second time it was served it was exactly the same and I refused it. Then the next day at the steak restaurant my fillet was supposed to be cooked medium rare and it came to the table medium and I sent that back as well. It came medium rare the second time but by then everyone at the table had finished their meals so I left it and couldn’t believe it when I was charged the full $30 and it was only after complaining that I got my charge removed. Not good enough John.

John says:
Hello Beth Trewin,

I was so surprised to read this as I think that is the first ever comment I have seen like that for the Cucina del Capitano. We do get the odd comment around the fleet about the steaks not being cooked to perfection though and that’s why we are always prepared to change it for our guests although again I must say this is very ummm……….rare……if you will pardon the pun. I will send your comment to the head chef of the Carnival Magic and I know he will take your comments to heart. Thanks for letting me know and I do hope that you had a brilliant time.

Best wishes.

John

Judy Modrick asked:
Hi John,

I love your blog. You are a fantastic writer and I hope you really will write that book one day. It would be a bestseller for sure. I read your blog today John and you mentioned that one of the ships had a veterans gathering. My DH and I will be on the Carnival Inspiration over the Thanksgiving holidays and I would ask that you help me arrange one then. DH is a Vietnam vet and although he is not one to stand and shout about this I know he loves meeting others who have served their country. Is this possible John? Can you arrange this please?

John says:
Hello Judy Modrick,

Thanks for those kind words and one day I will sit down in my underpants and write that book. Please would you pass my regards and admiration onto your husband and thank him for his service. There will be a veterans meeting on all the ships each and every cruise and just to make sure I will follow up with Stephanie the cruise director to make sure she has one and sends a personal invitation to your husband. I wish you both a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Stacey asked:
John,

I LOVE your blog! I see people post, “I am a platinum member”….what does that mean? May seem a nutty question – but it is driving me crazy! Looking forward to cruising the Glory in Feb 2012 ; )

Thanks,

Stacey

John says:
Hello Stacey,

I am sorry to say that your question doesn’t even come close to entering the “nutty” section here on the blog. Platinum members are guests who have been loyal to Carnival and have cruised between 10 and 24 times. For doing this they receive a special service such as first on and first off the ship, confirmed dining room seating and free laundry to name just some of the benefits. Then we have Milestone guests who have cruised 25 times or more and they get discounts as well when they cruise — 25% off for cruise number 25 and 50% off for cruise number 50. I hope one day you reach Platinum status Stacey and if you have any other questions nutty or otherwise, I am here to help.

Best wishes.

John

Yolanda Garcia asked:
Hi John!

We are joining you on the Carnival Magic cruise on November 14th and are excited to see the new ship. We are from Houston and my daughter is coming with us. She is a country singer and has a voice like you have never heard before and I want her to sing on stage for my birthday which is on the 17th. She is bringing her music for your musician to play from and this will make my 50th birthday very special. We are on first seating dinner time and are in stateroom number 7387.She is the next Taylor Swift for sure John. Hope you can do this.

John says:
Hello Yolanda Garcia,

It seems your daughter is very talented and although I don’t know who Taylor Swift is (I will ask Uncle Google in a moment) I will do all I can to have your daughter sing. Now it won’t be on the 17th in the main lounge as we have a show there that will not have a place for her to do so but I will arrange with one of the musicians at the Ocean Plaza to see if we can work something out. As I will probably forget between now and when you cruise please may I ask you to drop me a note at the guest services desk when you are on board and remind me and as I said, I will do all I can.

Best wishes to you all.

John

Bob Amersfort asked:

Can I ask you to help me John? I did not get a comment card following my cruise on the Carnival Glory but I must make mention of the bartender at the wine bar at the back part of deck 5. She was outstanding and like the old man I am I have forgotten her name. She never forgot mine though and as soon as she would see me she would start to make my favorite dirty martini. Her smile and conversation made the wine bar the best place to be on the ship and I wanted to make sure the “beards” as you call them know this. Thanks John

John says:
Hello Bon Amersfort,

This is a wonderful post and I will make sure that the young lady in question gets to know what a positive influence she had on your cruise. Thanks for telling me Bob and I will indeed make sure the beards see this and that it makes its way to the bartender in question.

Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today.

While you are reading this I will be in Freeport reporting back on the progress of the Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades. I can tell you work is going well and one big job already completed is the Seaside Theatre Big Screen which now has the same high definition screen we have on the Carnival Magic.

Actually, let’s talk about movies as obviously they are very popular and I should explain a few things. First of all we can only play select movies as in ones that we have ordered and paid the copyright for. If we were to play a movie that we had not paid the copyright for then we could be fined a large sum of money. This happened to another cruise line recently. They were playing a movie that they had not been contracted to play. They basically shoved a DVD in and played it. Someone who worked for the film distributor was on board and obviously reported it. Big fines followed.

Now most cruise lines order their movies through one vender who provides certainly all of the Carnival family of ships that have big screens. The movies are similar to the ones that you will find for $14.95 plus tax in the hotel room I am staying in at the moment and we pay a large sum of money for these movies to be shown on the ships. They are current, maybe a few weeks behind the hotels but certainly we get them before Netflix and Blockbuster do. They come in digital form, not DVD form and are chosen not by the cruise directors but by one of the beards in the Miami office.

Choosing the right movies is not easy. We have an operating budget for each ship and different movies are different prices. A blockbuster like Cowboys and Aliens which is one of our current big screen movies is one price where a lesser known movie will be cheaper of course. So, they are chosen to comply with the budget, that’s step one. Step two is to choose movies that will suit a family audience and that’s harder than it sounds. Animation and chick flicky things, that’s no problem but choosing a movie that has Bruce Willis shooting someone in the face or a rumpy pumpy scene featuring lots of breasts and bottoms and lady gardens is not possible. That’s because we can’t monitor who is out on the Lido deck watching and there have been occasions when mild rumpy pumpy or an exploding head has caused Mum or Dad to head down to the guest services desk to administer a bollocking.

Now the Carnival Magic is of course going to be starting her trans-Atlantic cruise in 10 days time and we have extra movies being shown there. Some of these will be shown as matinee movies as there will be four of the six days at sea in the middle of the voyage where it will be chilly at night. We have chosen some “classics” as well as you will see here with the Seaside Theatre list for the trans-Atlantic crossing.

  • Casablanca
  • The Godfather
  • Roman Holiday
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • Nanny McPhee Returns
  • Shrek 4 EverAfter
  • Source Code
  • The Little Fockers
  • You Again
  • The Dilemma
  • Casino Royale
  • Harry Potter
  • Secretariat
  • Gladiator
  • Megamind
  • I Am #4
  • Tron Legacy
  • The Green Hornet
  • Tangled

For the month of November movies will include the following and will be sent to all the ships to be shown either on the Seaside Theatre Big Screen or on the cabin TVs or indeed both. I don’t have the full list yet but I can tell you they will include: Captain America, Friends With Benefits, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2, The Zookeeper, Cars 2, Cowboys and Aliens and Latvian Women Go Nuts in Stockings and Suspenders.

As I mentioned the other day the Carnival Liberty will be doing something very different. This is because we have the RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar with live music and entertainment happening there. We also have two big new deck parties planned of which I will be writing more about when I get on board.

We are going to be theming these nights and here is how we are going to be doing it:

A NIGHT IN THE TROPICS

  • Pirates of the Caribbean (the new one)
  • Dr No.

DATE NIGHT

  • 50 First Dates
  • Notting Hill

BEST PICTURE (OSCARS)

  • Shakespeare In Love
  • Forest Gump

SUPER HEROES/COMICS

  • Iron Man 1
  • Iron Man 2

FAMIL NIGHT AT THE MOVIES

  • Gnomio and Juliet
  • National Treasure

These movies will change every month. There will be two deck parties so that’s two nights when following the live music at the two competing bars we will continue the excitement and fun by going straight into the two deck parties. And I should point out that the more current movies will be shown on the new flat screen TVs that are in all the Carnival Liberty cabins. The family movie night will start at 7 pm. Oh and one more thing with the big screen. Throughout the day and night bar waiters and staff will be taking random photos of you on Lido and as they do those photos are projected immediately up onto the Seaside Theatre Big Screen which will be brilliant fun. But please………no Stars and Stripes Speedos. So there you go – some information on how we chose the movies and what’s happening next month. I will try and remember to post the new movies for the following month here on the blog thingy.

The other day I had a post on my blog from someone in the submarine service. I had been complaining about there being no air conditioning on the Carnival Liberty while in Freeport and he remarked that I really had to work on a submarine to appreciate hardship. The poster was right of course and I have felt guilty ever since. I must say that I know bugger all about the submarine service except that it is I am sure one fraught with difficulties and challenges. However, I think that if I was to join the armed services then it would be as a submariner. The infantry involves too much running around, lying in mud, crapping in a ditch and getting shot at while you are doing it. However, I can imagine myself as a submarine captain and if the world got a little too dangerous I could park the sub under a tropical island where it could not be seen by a satellite and spend the war drinking Mai Tai’s with my new girlfriend Rum Pi Pumpme. Then, when the trouble was over I would sail home and say my sun tan was due to the reactor getting a little hot. I have always loved submarines and any movie that involves one is bound to be on my favorite list.

  • The Hunt for Red October
  • Das Boot
  • Crimson Tide

I love the sneakiness of a submarine. The fact that you can creep up on the target, blow it to kingdom come and sneak away just in time for dinner. Mostly though my love of submarines came from seeing a clip on the news. It showed the submarine rising silently out of the water and suddenly there it was……..this incredible machine filled with brave men (are there any women?) who were there, silent and waiting, ready to protect us all.

So guess where I am going on January 5? I got told yesterday by wife and notice the word ……… told. We are going with our friends John and Lucy who have three young girls one of which is Kye’s best friend……to Disneyland Paris. I couldn’t believe it when she told me. My reaction was the same as if she had told me she was having rumpy pumpy with Stuart the Gardener……..in fact my reaction was worse. Yes I know Kye will love it and yes I know I should do things as a family with me being away so much. But come on. It’s Paris. I don’t ever want to be in Paris. I would rather be in Judge Judy than in Paris.

OK, at this point some of you will be saying here he goes again making fun of the French …… but bear with me….it’s not just the French because I have been to Euro Disney before with Heidi pre Kye and it was truly awful on a biblical scale. Now you Americans are good at grinning and smiling and saying” have a nice day” but this simply doesn’t translate in France. Most of the staff I encountered had a Z in their name indicating that they were from Poland, not France, and boy did they look pissed off. Rightly so. You spend your entire life fighting the perils of Communism and your reward is dressing up as Donald Duck.

However, after I had spent hours queuing for rides that made me vomit and that you could only go on if you were 18 foot tall. Putting up with this and the rude staff I at least could look forward to a fully loaded cheeseburger or turkey drumstick. with gallons of fries and ketchup …… nope ………..this was Disneyland Paris……..this meant I had a choice of smelly cheese served by smelly people or a McHorse Burger.

Worst of all were the kids….thousands of them……….and unlike the ones in Disney America where you can hear the words “awesome” echoing around the parks …… here ………it was mostly French kids shouting ”Oh la la” pushing and shoving everyone all the time.

Some say the entire world’s evil lives in something called Pandora’s Box. They are wrong, the entire world’s evil lives in Disneyland Paris and in my underpants
The last time I was at Euro Disney I changed the words of that famous song to “It’s a smelly world after all.” And I am heading there in January. Oh FFS!

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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