GOING TO THE DOGS

November 16, 2011 -

John Heald

So in a week’s time I will be home in the bosom of my family and it appears that one of the first things I will be doing will be spending my very hard earned money on a dog. Yep, for those who have been long time blog readers, you will know I have tried over the last few years to put it off but Heidi is like the Borg……..resistance is therefore futile.

I argued that when Heidi and Kye come and sail, who will look after the dog? That was always an excellent argument because I played on Heidi’s girly heart strings telling her how lonely the dog would be when we put it in a kennel and how it would be fed yak intestines and have nobody to play with. But then my sister went and bought a house with two acres of land and two dogs and a sodding horse to go with it stating that if we bought a dog it could, “Come and stay with them.” And that was me buggered then.

So we are getting a dog, a German shepherd to be precise, and I will enter the mysterious world of dog owners.

I guess there are many reasons why people choose to own a dog. To stop a wife’s endless sodding nagging; for companionship, as an excuse to take the occasional walk. I met a chap recently who says he bought a dog to replace his wife who had sadly passed away. And I’m sorry but I don’t understand this. I understand the companionship part of it to a degree but how can a dog possibly do that? It can’t cook, or iron, although if it is a smart dog I guess you could train it to pick your dirty underwear off the bathroom floor.

Don’t get me wrong, I know getting a dog will be a good thing for Heidi and Kye and certainly with me away so much a big old German shepherd would give a huge sense of security to our home. But I know that Heidi will pour love and affection onto the little cute puppy because that’s what we humans do and sometimes I think that we love animals a lot more than we love people. And the animal we love most of all is the dog. Dogs make us go all fluffy in the head. No really……..think about it.

Take your average disaster movie……….like 2012. In the film thousands of people are killed by a devastating tsunami. But not to worry because we are treated to a close up of the heroine’s dog boarding a rescue ship just in time. Then you have Armageddon in which giant meteorites destroy most of New York. But this is no problem because when the destruction is over, we see that the dog that we thought had been killed is in fact perfectly all right since it was only people that die a horrible death.

Yep, we love dogs and now it’s my turn to love them as well. I am sure owning one will have its good points. It will bark and growl and bite the head off anyone who tries to do my family harm. In the evening it will lay down on its rug looking all sweet and cuddly. And all it demands in return for its sweetness and its work as a bodyguard is a place to do a crap and a bowl full of food.

But supposing we chose a dog that isn’t like that. Supposing we choose a dog that turns out to be violent. She is very violent. Seriously, I worry about this. Last year my mate Danny bought a dog I am not sure what make it was but it was big bugger with teeth. Danny bought it for basically the same reason as I will be buying one, security for his family as he also travels a lot for business. But in the first year, the dog had eaten the young lad who delivers the newspapers, the mailman and had tried to kill his Uncle Harold. No, don’t laugh, it’s true. His 80-year-old Uncle Harold was visiting and sneezed really loudly and Danny’s dog went for him and when I visited it would always have a face that would say, “Who the f**k are you looking at ?

Basically this dog was Joe Pesci.

I mentioned this to Heidi but to no avail, we are getting a dog and a male dog at that which means we will have to go through the whole leg humping thing and the humiliation of walking a male dog in heat as he tries to do doggie rumpy pumpy with an unsuspecting female poodle. And it won’t just be other dogs he will try and mount, nope, it will be the washing machine, the keyhole in the front door, me, Kye’s friends. Yep, it will hump anyone and everyone’s leg ……………..even mine ………..but like all living things that try and have rumpy pumpy with me …………it will do so with its eyes closed.

Heidi has not thought this through. She thinks the worst thing that could happen is that the dog will unravel the toilet roll or that the cheeky thing may during its toilet training drop a dog turd in my Nikes. No dog breeder or rescue dog center ever tells a prospective customer that one day the cute little ball of fluff in which they’re interested will try to have rumpy pumpy with a vacuum cleaner.

This is the reality of dog ownership. Turds and piss everywhere. Mess. Huge expense and the constant desire to hump something. Actually, thinking about it, why does Heidi want a dog? She’s got me……….there’s no real difference.

Time for some Q and A…..here we go

Joanne asked:
Hi John,

Love your blog and comments on Facebook – you’re a credit to Carnival!
My husband and I recently got married (after 16 years together) on
9/11 – we wanted to make the day memorable for good reasons 🙂 We will be sailing on the Carnival Valor from Miami on February 4, 2012 and I would love to know if there is something special that can be arranged on our cruise. It doesn’t have to be anything big nor costly but I would like to surprise my husband since we will be celebrating our honeymoon on the cruise.
Would you also happen to know who the CD will be on that sailing? Keep writing your honest and hilarious blogs and would love to meet up with you one day if our paths should cross while on board. This will be our third cruise on board Carnival and we look forward to many more.

Thanks again,

Joanne

Johns says:
Hello Joanne,

That is a very special and very memorable day to get married, Jo and I wish you many happy years together. At the time of writing, I don’t have the CD schedule yet. There have been many unexpected changes we have had to make but hopefully this week I can post it here on the blog. I will ask you to post your cabin number a week before you sail on my Facebook page and I will gladly send you a honeymoon gift. Thanks for writing and for your kind words.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Nikki Gazis asked:
Hi John,

First let me say thank you.. I enjoy your posts and blogs!!!! I took my first cruise with Carnival in 2008… I am planning on my 16th Carnival cruise in January and am concerned about the loyalty program and how I will be affected… (Selfish huh?? LOL).. Is there any place that I can read about the new policy???

Thanks so so much!!!!

Nikki

John says:
Hello Nikki Gazis,

It’s absolutely not selfish at all, Nikki, because your loyalty means a lot to you and of course to us as well. I am sure you will have read my recent blogs and Facebook posts that have stated that there will be four levels and while I can’t tell you what those levels will be based on just yet, I can tell you that anyone close to the next level based on the current loyalty program will have their status protected. Please don’t worry and if there is anything else you need before you cruise again, please let me know. There will be more information on the loyalty program very soon.

Best wishes.

John

William Marrin asked:
John,

On my recent Freedom cruise I was severely embarrassed by the cabin boy. My wife and I were in cabin 6398 and had as we do in hotels we immediately put the do not disturb sign on the door. We are very particular people and do not want strangers touching our personal possessions. We do not need bed sheet changes and new towels as we protect the environment we live in. Your passengers should know that new towels every day is a disgrace. The planet needs help now and if we do nothing, then the temperature rise could be 7 degrees within a century, at which point the survival of our species will be in the balance. The reason we were embarrassed though was even though the do not disturb sign was on the door, the cabin boy knocked on our door at 5:30pm while we were resting from our day ashore. We did not hear the knock on the door until it was too late and the cabin boy was inside. We asked him to leave immediately and were horrified and complained to the front desk but nothing was done. I have written to the president of Carnival Cruise Lines and was told to bring this to your attention as well. Do not disturb means exactly that, doesn’t it? I am at this time thinking of never cruising Carnival again and telling everyone I can to do the same unless I receive the proper and correct apology.

John says:
Hello William Marrin,

Thank you for your post and I can understand why you are so upset by what happened. However, I would like to explain the company’s position on this and I am sure this is what you will have heard from the guest services officers on the ship. If a do not disturb sign is left on the door for more than one straight 24-hour period, we will knock and enter the cabin. This is only done to make sure that the guests inside the cabin are well and are in no harm. This is something we are obligated to do and comes from what I can only describe as a harsh learning process. Please accept my apologies but I hope you understand that the stat room steward was only following instructions and only had your best interests at heart. I hope you had a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Monty R. Jones asked:
Hello John,

Just booked our cruise on the Carnival Magic for April 29, 2012 and was wondering if you were still going to be the cruise director then. I know that your life will soon be a Carnival Breeze later next year but sure was hoping that you would still be on the Carnival Magic at the end of April. Sure would like to cruise with you someday. This will be our eighth Carnival cruise and we love Carnival.

John says:
Hello Monty R Jones,

Unfortunately, I will already be in the ship yard in April and so I won’t be the CD during your wonderful Carnival Magic cruise. I am sure you will have a fantastic time and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.

Best wishes

John

Marge Fairweather asked:
Dear John,

My girlfriend and I (both Platinum guests) cruised on the Dream January 1-7,2011. Our CD, Butch, was the BEST we have had on all of our 14 past cruises. We want to cruise again on the Dream in February 2012 for one of those Zero birthdays but I am having a very hard time trying to determine if Butch will still be on the Dream then. I have called Miami and continue to look on the schedule and still have not been able to get any information. Can you please let me know where Butch will be during the month of Feb 2012 so that I can book our next cruise?

Please, please…

Thank you,

Really enjoy your blog – it keeps me smiling! We’ll be on Ecstasy on
Nov.12 but we look forward to sailing with Butch again.

Marge Fairweather

John says:
Hello Marge Fairweather,

I love it when guests post their admiration for my colleagues and nobody gets as many words of praise as Butch, he is truly one of a kind. Butch, though, will be on vacation come February and will then return here to the Carnival Magic which will become his ship in March. The Carnival Dream will be in the capable hands of Steve Knicley who is of course a brilliant CD who I know you will really find loads of fun. The full CD schedule will be posted soon. I see you are on board the Carnival Ecstasy so I hope you are having (had) a brilliant time.

Best wishes

John

Zac Porritt asked:

It will be a very special cruise when me and my family walk up the gang plank of the Carnival Splendor on 11/27. My wife works very hard as a nurse and it’s our 10th wedding anniversary. I heard that you do gifts and surprises so would like one delivered to my wife on 11/30 which is our actual anniversary. I didn’t know if you needed our booking number but it’s ****** and if you could decorate our cabin as well that would be a special touch for this wonderful woman. We are looking forward to our cruise and your gifts will make it extra special, I hope.

John says:
Hello Zac Porritt,

Thanks so much for booking your anniversary cruise with us and I know you will have a wonderful time. You can order cabin decorations through our bon voyage department at carnival.com or indeed give them a call and I am sorry that I can’t arrange this for you. I will though, send you an anniversary gift and wish you both the best of times.

Best wishes.

John

Vic asked:
Hi John,

With all this talk of change coming to the Past Guest Program, I wondered if there was any talk of a Carnival Corp program where as a Princess and Carnival cruiser my points would count for both?

John says:
Hello Vic,

Unfortunately, there are no plans for this. Carnival, Cunard, Princess, Holland America, P & O, Costa Cruise Lines, Seabourn and AIDA all have very specific programs and it would be very difficult to factor all the cruise lines into one loyalty program. I hope you continue to enjoy your cruises with both Princess and Carnival and thank you for your loyalty.

Best wishes.

John

Paul Hassick asked:
John,

I have followed you on Facebook and now your blog and you seem to enjoy what you do but you must realize that many of the things you write are X rated and that there are children and people who may find your comments offensive that also read your page and your blog.

John says:
Hello Paul Hassick,

You are absolutely correct and I shall certainly try and remember this and apologise if anything I have written may have offended you.

Best wishes.

John


Denise Draper asked:

First of all, I want to say thanks for all of the grins and giggles (and sometimes grrrrs) that I get from reading the blog thingy and the FB page. I have had the pleasure of semi-coordinating a family cruise on the Magic in February 2012. We’re currently up to 20 folks in 9 cabins.

The real fun is that this is the first cruise for 11 of them!! I can’t wait! I’m a Carnival cruiser through and through and the experience I/we had getting this cruise together just confirmed why.

We worked with a fantastic Carnival rep named Phyllis Elkins. She did a great job keeping all of my tidbits of info straight from when I called her to matching it up to my family members that called to finish up their bookings. All the usual great customer service that I’ve come to know I would get when dealing with Carnival. She didn’t stop there, though. There were little things that were just “wow” moments for me that really made dealing with her a joy. Big example…I was trying to set her up with as much information on each family member as possible so they (especially the newbies) didn’t have to do much more than call up, confirm a cabin and give her a credit card number. During this, I realized that I didn’t know my 15-year-old nephew’s birthday. I was too ashamed to ask my brother…I called myself a bad aunt. Phyllis would get it from him when he called her and she wouldn’t let him know that I didn’t know. A few days later, I received an email with the subject line “for the bad aunt.” She had sent me my nephew’s birthday! It might seem like a little thing, but it really impressed me…a lot!

I would love it if there are any beards in Phyllis’ vicinity to give her a heartfelt pat on the back for me when they walk by. She’s an awesome rep…And not a bad spy, either!

John says:
Hello Denise Draper,

Another wonderful comment about one of our shoreside employees and it’s people like Phyllis that can make such a difference. Please know that I have sent this to the vice president beard in charge of our call centers and I know that Phyllis will be thrilled when she sees this. I will be seeing you on the Carnival Magic and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know and get ready for a brilliant time.

Best wishes to you all.

John

Tommy Lyons asked:

I saw on your blog about clearing out the Punchliner between shows so others would have a chance to see a show. When I was on the Dream and the Fun Dude who I believe was the club manager did clear out the club and he did an excellent job interacting with the guest and maintaining order. He is an excellent manager, comedian and gentleman. I think it would help if he introduced himself on the welcome aboard show where he could introduce himself and talk about the club and let everyone know what to expect.

John says:
Hello Tommy Lyons,

Jeff, the Fun Dude, is quite a character isn’t he and he runs his comedy club as well as anyone we have in that position. We are now adopting his clearance policies in all our comedy clubs and it seems to be working. I think it’s a great idea for him to introduce himself before at the welcome aboard show and I will ask my colleagues to make sure all the comedy club managers do this. Great suggestion, Tommy, and I hope you had a brilliant laugh at the Punchliner.

Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today.

I have concentrated a lot on the Carnival Liberty and the Carnival Magic in the past few weeks and I was reminded of two big voyages that are upcoming for the Carnival Inspiration and the Carnival Paradise so over the next few weeks I will talk a bit more about them. Let’s remind ourselves of where they are going starting with the Carnival Paradise as she heads to Tampa.

  • Mon, Nov, 28 Long Beach 8am-4pm
  • Tue, Nov, 29 at sea
  • Wed, Nov, 30 Cabo 12pm-7pm
  • Thu, Dec, 01 PVR 11am-7pm
  • Fri, Dec, 02 at sea 10am-6pm
  • Sat, Dec, 03 at sea
  • Sun, Dec, 04 at sea
  • Mon, Dec, 05 Puntarenas 8am-7pm
  • Tue, Dec, 06 at sea
  • Wed, Dec, 07 Panama Canal 6am-5pm
  • Thu, Dec, 08 Cartagena 9am-4pm
  • Fri, Dec, 09 at sea
  • Sat, Dec, 10 Cayman 7am-4pm
  • Sun, Dec, 11 at sea

And now the Carnival Inspiration’s journey to California:

  • Sat, Dec, 03 Tampa dep @ 4pm
  • Sun, Dec, 04 at sea
  • Mon, Dec, 05 Cayman 8am-5pm
  • Tue, Dec, 06 at sea
  • Wed, Dec, 07 Cartagena 7am-2pm
  • Thu, Dec, 08 Panama transit 6am-5pm
  • Fri, Dec, 09 at sea
  • Sat, Dec, 10 Punta Arenas, C.R. 8am-6pm
  • Sun, Dec, 11 at sea
  • Mon, Dec, 12 at sea
  • Tue, Dec, 13 at sea
  • Wed, Dec, 14 Puerto Vallarta 8am-4pm
  • Thu, Dec, 15 Cabo 8am-3pm
  • Fri, Dec, 16 at sea

I will fill in the entertainment line ups and special events soon and both ships will have dance instructors, bridge instruction and arts and crafts as well as other special events. I have never done a Panama Canal crossing but from what everyone tells me, they are very special voyages and I wish all of you who are sailing on the Carnival Paradise and the Carnival Inspiration’s repositioning cruises the most wonderful time.

So what an incredible day it was in Galveston. In days gone past we would have invited a few travel agents on a new ship, given them a few drinks and that would have been it. But there we were in Galveston, opening the doors to 4,000 people to come and enjoy a free concert by one of the world’s top bands. The atmosphere was electric and excitement was equally shared by the residents of Galveston, most of whom were wearing, “Galveston Loves Magic” pins and the Carnival executives who under the charge of our Chief Marketing Officer Jim Berra put together an incomparable day and my congratulations to them for doing so.

Obviously, it was a huge thrill for me to introduce Maroon 5 but I have to tell you I was a bit nervous. There I was, five minutes before the concert, listening to the fans screaming and shouting and chanting the band’s name. Their anticipation had reached fever pitch and they were ready to give the band the most incredible welcome and judging by what a few of the ladies at the front were wearing, they were also ready to give the band anything they wanted and one or two looked like they were ready to spread easier than warm butter.

So the 4,000 people were ready to go crazy for Moves Like Jagger. But first, this fat English bloke was going to come out which would drastically change that mood. So my nerves therefore were based on the fact that my job was to go out on stage and put the crowd back in the mood they were already in before I walked out on stage in the first place. But it went well, I think, and along with the wonderful Justin, our dance contest winner, and some silly jokes the audience seemed to appreciate my 10 minutes and I hope they had some fun. We shot lots of video and in case you missed any of the highlights, here are some of them as shot by Peter the Hair, Jay I Like Guys and Eric the Beard.




 

So what of the band. Well they were not what I expected. What do I mean by that? Well …………… they were …………ummmm……………nice. Really nice, really pleasant and not very ………..well……… rock and roll.

There is a program on Discovery Channel called The Most Dangerous Jobs in the World which shows dangerous careers like tunnel builders, high rise construction, crab fishing, mine clearing, etc. But if you look at years past, being a rock star was surely the most dangerous job in the world.

Let’s see how many we can list from days gone by. OK…………….here we go. Jimi Hendrix, John Bonham, Jim Morrison, Marc Bolan, Eddie Cochran, Brian Epstein, Duane Allman, most of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Keith Moon, Cozy Powell, Alex Harvey, Ricky Nelson, Pete Ham and Tom Evans from Badfinger, Tim Hardin, Phil Lynott, Janis Joplin. Bon Scott from AC/DC, half of the Grateful Dead, Chas Chandler, Johnny Kidd, Rory Gallagher, John Belushi, Elvis, Patsy Cline, Brian Jones, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Sid Vicious, even Karen Carpenter.
Suicide, plane or helicopter crashes. Car accidents, drowning in their own vomit, or in their own swimming pools. Picking up a guitar back then it seems was as lethal as picking up a rattlesnake.

Look how many of those stars died so young back then. Coming home from school and saying you were going to fight in a war would have prompted a sigh of relief from your parents, “Well thank God you’re not going to be in a band.”

Now, though, things are different. With the notable and noble exception of Kurt Cobain, who killed himself with a shotgun, and the sad demise of the brilliant Amy Winehouse and of course Michael Jackson who I don’t think we will ever truly understand, today’s rock stars seem to be in good health.

Last time I looked, Justin Beaver hadn’t smoked a palm tree and driven his skateboard into his swimming pool and drowned.

Perhaps this is the problem with music today. Back when I was a teenager, I would rush to see a band like Black Sabbath, The Who and Iron Maiden partly because I loved their music and because I had a feeling that they would all be dead by the following week.

You certainly don’t get any of that from Adam Levine. I watched him perform and while the bloke has a brilliant voice and the girls all want to see his gentlemen’s sausage there was no sense that he might be found the next morning in a Galveston hotel room full of naked women with vodka bottles all around.

I have to admit, though, that I really liked their music, I mean I really did and that surprised me because I don’t like most modern music. There was talk of us bringing in the Red Hot Chili Peppers for the Galveston event, who, so far as I’m concerned, could not make a worse sound if they spent an hour shoving cattle prods up their bottoms.

So here we are, the Carnival Magic has started her cruises from Galveston and I have to say something really important. The steakhouse is sold out every night with a waiting list of 80 names and the Cucina del Capitano will have served 600 by the end of the cruise. RedFrog had a quiet first night but is now the center of attention with the so very talented Ron Pass packing the piano bar. The atmosphere is fantastic.

As you may have read on my Facebook page, the ship had to cancel the port of Costa Maya and head instead to Progreso. This allows us to continue and complete the maintenance and repair of the starboard aft thruster and having the ship overnight in Progreso allows us to do this. Now obviously a change like this can cause some concern and some complaints. But do you know how many formal complaints we have had…………seven. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that there are others who haven’t voiced a formal complaint but it’s still pretty amazing that just seven comments stating that they didn’t like the itinerary change. The current group of guests on the Carnival Magic seem like a relaxed easy going bunch which is what I’ve found in general about our Texas-based ships. They’re just here to have a good time no matter what. Guests here love the ship, they really love the ship and 99% of the guests have accepted the change and are continuing to laugh, have fun and enjoy their vacation and that’s simply brilliant.

But it’s not just those on the ship. You see I stayed in a hotel for two days and listened to people talking in the restaurants and around the streets of Galveston. They were all speaking with huge pride that the Carnival Magic was there and indeed that they felt that the Carnival Magic was theirs. Texans are fun, Texans are spirited, Texans want everything bigger and that’s why Galveston is therefore the perfect home for the Carnival Magic. Fun for y’all…………….y’all for fun.

My only disappointment so far is that I haven’t seen one cowboy hat, not a single one. How can this be? It’s the inaugural cruise from Texas and we didn’t have any cowboy hats. I met loads of blog readers, many from Texas but none were cowboys. Where were the rough, tough, cowboys who sleep under the stars and fart around the camp fire?

I wanted a tobacco chewing, snakeskin boot wearing, howdy partner saying dude who grew up on a diet of country music and who could teach me how to rope cattle and ride bucking horses. I wanted to meet a real cowboy, but there were none.

But then suddenly, last night I met one. He was in the RedFrog Pub and he had a cowboy hat on. He wasn’t though quite what I had expected. His jeans were four inches too short, his stomach seven inches too fat and along with his cowboy hat, he wore a t-shirt with a picture of a Harley Davidson that said, and I quote: “If you haven’t seen God… it’s because you’re not going fast enough.”

See y’all after supper.

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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