ROLLING IN THE DEEP

February 27, 2012 -

John Heald

It’s only now, on Monday, February 27, that I am starting to feel on the road to recovery following my Ebola/swamp fever and resulting pink eye. Once the doctor had told me my eye wasn’t contagious, I had to make the decision to carry on working and performing despite the fact that I felt like crap. It started off as a normal cold, a bit of a sniffle, and a feeling that the cabin air conditioner had broken because one minute I would be roasting the cabin to the point where Ketut was cleaning my room in a pair of Speedos and the next turning it into an igloo. Obviously when I called Heidi she was very sympathetic, saying “I suppose it’s man flu. Ha. You should try giving birth. Then you’d understand the meaning of true pain you bastard. Kye came out sideways and I was making you dinner 20 minutes later. So get off your arse and go host a show.”

It doesn’t matter what illness I have. A cold, bird flu, stomach cramps, gangrene of the inner thigh, shooting myself in the leg with a nail gun or my head falling off, nothing will ever be as bad as giving birth. Every now and then I read about how it is becoming more and more fashionable for women to give birth at home, surrounded by friends and family. Usually the ladies who say this are wearing sandals, long green flowing dresses and will have some Enya or whale-humping music playing when the contractions begin and who will breast feed until the kid is 11 years old. She is also likely to ask her partner to video the entire event for the kid to be traumatized with later.

Having been through the wonders and the utter terror of child birth, I do understand that it’s painful but come on, ladies, pink eye is no walk in the park either. In the UK the whole birthing process is handled by a midwife and her assistant. There is no doctor unless you have complications. The midwives are mostly middle aged or older ladies and look like Mrs. Doubtfire except that this being the UK they have a Polish accent rather than a Scottish one. I was a bit taken aback by this. I wanted machines that go ping and doctors cloaked and masked and ready to get my baby here now.

I do remember Heidi being in a bit of pain and that she was making loud grunting noises like one of those Russian tennis players Anna Getyourknickersov or something like that. Then as the contractions grew, her moans became howls. Was my wife turning into a werewolf? Kye was born in a strange position which Heidi did, if I remember rightly, blame me for. Her head was facing up instead of down or down instead of up……I can’t remember which. I had my back firmly to the show and as much as I wanted to help Heidi through the pain, I was going to be no bloody good having a quick look downstairs and immediately fainting. I don’t remember much except I really did try to help, honest. I said “Breathe …. in … out …….in……out.” And my normally non-swearing placid partner replied…..”I know how to f*****g breathe, you wanker.”

So from that day on every time I am ill, Heidi tells me it’s nothing how only she knows real pain after she pushed a seven-pound turkey through a mouse hole and my reply that I am surprised I am able to have rumpy pumpy with after witnessing childbirth……. Never strengthens my case.

Men, listen to Uncle John here. Your wife will tell you she wants you in the birthing room for your support and because she wants you to hold her hand and to be there to witness the birth of what will be the most important thing in your life. That’s not the reason, oh no. She wants you there so she can milk it forever and ever, especially when you’re complaining about having a cold. Heidi said men will never understand the pain of child birth. Well, obviously, she has never been kicked in the bollocks, has she chaps?!

Time for some Q and A….off we go

Kathryn Hall Allahyari asked:

Who will be the CD on the April 1, 2012 cruise of the Carnival Splendor? We are taking our three children, their spouses and our eight grandchildren on a cruise for our 50 wedding anniversary, and I would like to do something special for my husband – can you suggest anything really romantic????

John says:
Hello Kathryn Hall Allahyari

Your CD will be the wonderful Todd Wittmer who is one of our most experienced and finest cruise directors. As for romantic, well I would suggest that one night you leave the family and grandkids and just you and your husband go to the steakhouse and have a private meal for two. The food is exquisite and the atmosphere will complement your romantic night perfectly. You can book this through my blog and the ship will then send an email confirmation. Please let me know if there is anything else you need and I wish you all the best of times.

Best wishes.

John

Dennis Odent asked:

You know what makes me LOL? You, Mr. Heald. You pretend to be the friend of the people who read your blog and read your Facebook but be honest the day you leave Carnival you won’t care if they live or die. I am not going to blow smoke up your ass either to get some pathetic free gift but will come right to the point. Will you show March Madness basketball on the Carnival Liberty’s giant screen?

John says:
Hello Dennis Odent

While it is hard to remember all the thousands of people who cruise with me I do consider many of them friends and if Carnival suddenly decided that they needed a newer, slimmer, funnier CD and brand ambassador then I hope that my friendship with everyone would continue, it certainly would from my side regardless of how cynical you may feel. Anyway, let’s see, ahhh, yes, now that my arse (spelt correctly) is smoke free I will say that the some of the games will be played on board on the Seaside Theatre and some in the EA Sports bar. Have a brilliant cruise and I hope we can become friends one day.

Best wishes.

John

Helen De Veer asked:

There is an obvious short fall when it comes to Carnival and their brand ambassador caring about vegans. We cruised on the Eclipse and enjoyed Seitan main courses (Seitan, pronounced say-tahn, is a wheat-based Asian meat substitute), tomato pomodoro, tofu medallion piccata and many more exotic dishes. On Carnival there was very little that didn’t involve chick peas and it wasn’t for the vegetarian Indian dish in the dining hall then we would have starved. You may mock Mr. Heald but maybe a look in a full length mirror will show you that your perception needs to change and that Carnival needs to have two or three main courses for vegans each night at dinner.

John says:
Hello Helen de Veer

Thanks for the email but I thought I have always heard good things from vegetablists who cruise with us, especially about the dinner options including the Indian dish you mentioned. I do hope that you found some nice options and I will be sending your comments to our executive chef so that he can see what you would wish to see as enjoyed on the Celebrity ship. Thanks for taking the time to write and for the encouragement to change my diet.

Best wishes.

John

John Coren asked:
John —

Is it possible to request a specific waitress when you have any time dining? We were on Carnival Magic at Christmas and had a lovely lady from Romania called Allina (sp?) and she served us the last three nights. I have read since that if you like a waiter then you can ask for them when you enter the dining room. Is this true?

Thanks

John says:
Hello John Coren

Yes indeed it is true however I should mention that it’s not always possible because his or her section may be full. But if you time it right or you are prepared to wait until there is space then yes you can indeed. I hope this helps you and please let me know if you need anything else.

Best wishes.

John

Wendy and Richard George asked:
Hi John,

After sailing on Splendor (with Heidi and you as cruise director) and Carnival Spirit, we are absolutely delighted to know that the powers that be at Carnival are sending Spirit Down under. We are sailing on her first voyage out of Honolulu to Sydney next September and would love to know if you will be here for the arrival of the first Whale Tail into Sydney Harbor. It will be worth it. Bring Heidi and Kye too (No big crocs, dingoes or bird eating spiders here, they are all up north).

Regards,

Wendy and Richard George

John says:
Hello Wendy and Richard George

Thanks so much for those kind words and it’s great to hear from you both. I have seen the welcome that Sydney gives Cunard ships and it would be nice to think that we would get a similar welcome from our Aussie friends. I am looking at the possibilities of being there but we shall have to see what my schedule allows for. It certainly will be a memorable moment and one it would be great to share with you both. Thanks for writing and I hope to see you soon.

Best wishes.

John

John Vanecek asked:
Hello John,

It was nice to meet you on the inaugural cruise from Galveston on the Carnival Magic. I’m glad the mad waiter didn’t hit you with a stick. Please help me with an issue. This was our eighth Carnival cruise, and my daughter and son in law’s first, as they are big time RC cruisers. I did an on boardbooking the first day for 4/14/2013. This will make us platinum (finally) after we sail on the Carnival Triumph next October. So I convinced my daughter that Carnival is great, and to keep sailing with us. She made her booking for the same cruise the last evening. John, it was pure chaos. The poor loyalty rep had no help and the people were lined up in droves to pick up certificates, etc. It took us two hours to book her cruise, and my major complaint is that after several messages to Carnival, with no resolve, they have yet to add the $100 promotional credit to her billing when she logs in to Carnival. I am trying my best to convince them that Carnival will furnish some great cruises as they have for me. They are Wendi and Randy Baldwin and are booked on the Carnival Triumph 11/14/2011 Can you get this simple request done? One other issue is that a lot of folks would love to see Progresso removed from the cruise ports, as the water is no better than Galveston, and you can go to the ruins from any Mexico stop. If I had it my way, I would make the five-day sailings Cozumel and Costa Maya, or Calica, where we went some years ago on the Celebration. The beach there is gorgeous. It was not so bad that the Carnival Magic missed Costa Maya for us, as we are fairly seasoned, but we heard many complaints on the ship about it. I thank you for your assistance, and hope to see you again. Thank you for the wonderful cruises Carnival has taken us on.

John Vanecek

John says:
Hello John Vanecek

I am thinking that as I am so far behind in my blog questions that this has been resolved but just to make sure I have just sent off a note to my colleagues who will make sure that is the case. I am very sorry you had to go through so much trouble and we will do better with this in the future I am positive John. I will also pass on your thoughts re: Calica. Thanks again and please drop me a line if you can on my Facebook page a week before you sail and include your cabin number.

Best wishes to all.

John

Sandy W asked:
Hey John,

Need your help getting me and my wife a table for two at dinner. We are Mennonites and deeply religious and mealtimes are a sacrament for us. We are on the 3/1 cruise on Carnival Paradise cabin M101.

Thank you

John says:
Hello Sandy W

I am very thankful that I saw this in time as I see you are sailing next week. I have asked the maitre d to do his best to assist you with this and I wish you a wonderful time.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Susan Horn asked:
Hi John;

I was wondering if you could tell me when formal nights for the April 13, 2012 Carnival Spirit to Hawaii are. I heard they were both on the way to Hawaii and was wondering why they wouldn’t do one each way?? Also really looking forward to seeing the new Carnival Spirit after her facelift.

Thanks for any info.

Sue Horn

John says:
Hello Susan Horn

The ship looks great and I hope you have seen Mr Radu’s photos recently here and on Facebook. Let’s have a look at this brilliant voyage, shall we?

  • Fri, Apr, 13 San Diego dep @ 4pm
  • Sat, Apr, 14 at sea
  • Sun, Apr, 15 at sea ELEGANT
  • Mon, Apr, 16 at sea
  • Tue, Apr, 17 at sea
  • Wed, Apr, 18 Hilo 10am-7pm
  • Thu, Apr, 19 Kahului 8am-11pm
  • Fri, Apr, 20 Honolulu 9am-11pm
  • Sat, Apr, 21 Kona 8am-5pm
  • Sun, Apr, 22 Nawiliwili 7am-4pm
  • Mon, Apr, 23 at sea
  • Tue, Apr, 24 at sea
  • Wed, Apr, 25 at sea ELEGANT
  • Thu, Apr, 26 at sea
  • Fri, Apr, 27 Ensenada

I have marked the elegant nights for you and as you can see you have one each side of the ports. I hope this helps and I wish you a brilliant time.

Best wishes.

John

Gwen Smith asked:
John,

First let me say what isn’t said enough on this blog – THANK YOU!! I had posted a message to you on Facebook and you delivered, as promised! My parents really enjoyed the goodies you sent them. I promised I would send you a little review of our recent trip on the Liberty. It was the first trip with our children, ages 10 and nine. They are now hooked on cruising and can’t wait to go again! We just had the best time! Butch was fabulous as our cruise director. We listened to the morning show that he and Amy put on and my son actually won a teddy bear from Fun Ship Freddy. Let me tell you, nothing starts a nine-year-old’s day off right like having Freddy personally deliver a bear to your room!

I was worried that my son, who is a picky eater, would have trouble with the food on the cruise. I couldn’t have been more wrong. He loved the pizza and our waiters in the Silver Dining room spoiled him to death. They did everything they could; including tracking down my parents anniversary cake, to make sure that our experience was amazing. There were plenty of activities for everyone to do. I was glad I brought some post-its as that was the only way we knew where everyone was on the sea days. My parents had a great trip, a trip of a lifetime they said. However, that can’t be right, because they are looking to go again in February! We did have one small issue, and that was with our service staff at Harry’s steakhouse. We didn’t feel like we were as taken care of in regards to drinks. There were a couple of times during the meal that drinks were empty, even after a request had been made for a refill. This was a very small thing and in NO way ruined our cruise or will stop us from eating at the steakhouse again. There were no complaints from any of the six of us about the quality of the food. We left stuffed!

Finally, I have to let you know how hard our room steward, Jay, worked. We had four people in an ocean view room, so it was cluttered, by our own doings. My son also got sick one night. We had to call housekeeping at midnight for a fresh change of sheets. They were there in no time and happily took care of everything. Jay came in the next morning, freshened everything up, gave our son a new mattress and made our room good as new again! He was always leaving the kids’ bears in cute places and just couldn’t have been better. Sorry for making this so long, but please pass on our thanks to everyone for making this an excellent cruise and thank you again for all you do!

Gwen

John says:
Hello Gwen Smith

There is no need to apologise for the length of this review as it was just perfect and a joy to read. Before I forget, the post it notes was a brilliant idea, well done. I shall be sending this to the ship and those mentioned will be thrilled, I promise. I shall also make sure they the see note about the drink service in the steakhouse which sounds like we need to improve on and we will. Thanks again and thank you for the kind words at the start of your post. I hope we see you again very, very soon.

Best wishes to all.

John

Stephanie Oliveira asked:

We will be taking our daughter on a cruise on the Carnival Magic on March 11, 2012. So excited. She will be eight then but will turn nine in August and I would like to do a Carnival theme party. I will need Carnival balloons, and T-shirts, and some of those famous trophies enough for 30 of her friends. It would be a great promo for Carnival as well. Can you provide these and have them delivered to cabin 1377 on our cruise?

John says:
Hello Stephanie Oliveira

Unfortunately we don’t have party supplies available for this but it is a great idea I must admit. I will send your daughter something on the cruise which is just two weeks away now and I wish you all the best of times.

Best wishes.

John

And that’s all for today.

So off we go on a new cruise and let’s see who is sailing with us and where we are going.

TOTAL GUESTS 4,143
TOTAL GUESTS UNDER 21 483

Non US 81 Canadians; 19 Mexico

Sun, Feb, 26

Galveston

Welcome Aboard Show

dep @ 4pm

Mon, Feb, 27

at sea

Grooveline

Anthony Acosta/ Tony Esposito

Tue, Feb, 28

Cozumel

Activities / Deck Party

Anthony Acosta/ Tony Esposito

8am-4pm

Wed, Feb, 29

Cayman

Destination Unknown Jason Bryne

A Kiss Goodnight

9am-4pm

Thu, Mar, 01

Montego Bay

Marcus Monroe

 

9am-6pm

Fri, Mar, 02

at sea

Win

Al Ernst/ Mutzie

Sat, Mar, 03

at sea

Carnival Legends

Al Ernst/ Mutzie

I will tell you one thing, Carnival Magic guests love with unbridled passion our karaoke parties and I could have Lady Ga Ga supported by a naked Garth Brooks appearing at the Ocean Plaza and Ron Pass and Elton John on dueling pianos in the piano bar, but it would be karaoke that would be the busiest. There is no doubt that karaoke continues to be one of the most popular activities on our ships. Every day our guests come on stage and do horrible things to Adele, Mariah Carey and that awful Summer Nights song from Grease.

I cannot go into the karaoke lounges on the ship because people see me and try to get me to sing and honestly, I would rather have “I Love H82Seaugo” tattooed on my buttocks than sing a karaoke song. I bet though that next week on BC5 I won’t have a choice when we hold our private Superstar Live event which is of course even worse as its live karaoke with the band. Oh, bugger!

People think I don’t like karaoke because I don’t like music. On the contrary, I don’t like karaoke because I’m a music lover. Granted, there are some people who are genuinely talented but being subjected to a chap who has been enjoying the company of Jack Daniels all night singing some drunken version of Grooves Like Jagger is not my idea of a good night out.

I’ve concluded that karaoke singers collude with each other, ignoring how horrible their mates sound because they fear with good reason that they sound as bad. Me, I know it sounds horrible when I sing, I know that dogs will be howling back in Galveston and I know that my voice sounds as flat as Kate Moss’s chest. I make people vomit when I sing………so I don’t. Yes, occasionally you get some great singers and yet ask the guests and they will tell you that for some rather bizarre reason that they enjoy listening to the bad singers as much as the good ones.

Last night I went to check up on our Karaoke Host Melvin who, by the way, I promoted from photographer to now one of the best karaoke hosts in the fleet. Sure enough, the moment I walked in, I was spotted and guests started to chant my name and one tried to thrust the microphone at me. Making a break for it involved running the gauntlet through overexcited, slightly intoxicated women grabbing at me from every direction…..it was like a zombie movie.

However, now and then, as I said, you do get someone who is simply brilliant and the Musical Director Alan had seen this young man perform at karaoke and so we had to put him in the talent show last cruise. Here then is Ben, age 11, singing Adele’s Rolling In The Deep.

Now there is a young man who has a great voice, a sparkling personality and is going to ruin it all by becoming a cruise director. Still……better than becoming a lawyer.

As some of you know late Saturday night we had a man overboard incident.

Here is what happened as reported on my Facebook page yesterday: It was 10:25 p.m. Elvis was in the building and looked magnificent. He was thin Elvis and I was the fat emcee. There were 1,000 people in the audience and just as I was preparing to go on stage and introduce The King of Rock and Roll, the PA system suddenly shouted, “Bravo Bravo, Port Side,” which all of us crew know is the coded wording for “Man Overboard.” Oh, by the way, I am sure that someone wearing sandals and who will be eating tofu on toast for breakfast will tell me I should say, “Person Overboard” in these PC times, but it’s 6:45am and I have had just four hours sleep so bugger that.

I handed the microphone to my assistant Hennie who was backstage with me and ran to the elevator and luckily it was on the way up which is a good thing because by the time my fat arse had made it up the stairs from deck 3 to the bridge on deck 8, the guests would have heard nothing on the PA system except my labored heaving breathing and not even my wife likes that.

So on the bridge; the well-practiced rescue procedures for man overboard were underway. Details were sketchy and as the brilliant Captain Cutugno began to turn the vessel to head back to where the reported incident had taken place, I knew I had to let the guests know what was happening. The “Bravo Bravo” call had been made through the emergency system so they knew something was happening and I have always felt that information is king…….OK, Elvis is The King but the guests needed to know what was happening. And so I told them what I knew. “Ladies and gentlemen, the announcement you have just heard is that we have a reported man overboard. The captain and crew are now doing what they need to do in order to search and let us hopefully rescue this person. I promise to keep you informed.”

The next 15 minutes were very tense on the bridge as the captain turned this leviathan of a ship as quickly and as safely as he could back to where the man had reportedly gone overboard. While he did that I called the U.S. Coast Guard on my cell phone. This obviously was under the instructions of the captain who asked me to keep them informed. And I did and I want to thank the brilliantly professional petty officer who helped me as I gave our position and details. She informed me that a helicopter would be scrambled immediately to our position.

As the ship finished her turn I think all of us expected the worst because those of us who have been in this position before all knew that it was very rare that these events ever had a happy ending. However, suddenly the huge spotlights that we were using to search the still choppy waters suddenly showed a blinking light in the distance….hold on……..there were two blinking lights. We knew that one of the crew members who had seen this person go into the water had thrown a life ring in and that it would have an emergency beacon but the second light, what was that? I was then told that the person who had gone into the water was allegedly wearing a lifejacket which we all know also has a light on it designed to attract attention in the water and it was doing exactly that.

We were too far still to see if there was a person inside the lifejacket and even with the bridge officer’s powerful binoculars, we just couldn’t tell. The captain gave a precise course and speed and we headed toward the lights. At the same time Captain Cutugno gave the order to lower the portside rescue boat, just above the water level and ready to be deployed.

I made announcement number two explaining to the guests what was happening. What we knew they knew. During all of this, Elvis continued singing and even though half his audience had chosen to watch the rescue rather than listen to his great music and watch his pelvis gyrate, the show went on.

At 10:52 pm the captain ordered the rescue boat into the water and Officer Diego and his crew raced toward the lights. At this point the ship had come to a stop around 300 meters from the lights and remained stopped, the captain using the powerful thrusters to keep us in position. Now all we could do was wait for the rescue boat team to tell us what they found.

There were probably 400 guests or so lining the Deck 5 Lanai and hundreds more on their balconies all looking at what was happening, some looking for that YouTube moment no doubt such is the world we live in.

And we waited.

And then through the static of the radio we heard these words, “We see one person; I repeat we see one person, we will rescue from the water.”

And we waited.

“We have rescued one from the water, one from the water, he is alive, repeat he is alive.”

There was no time to jump for joy, not yet anyway. The captain ordered the rescue boat to return to the ship and for the starboard side shell doors to be opened and the automatic stairs to be lowered to accept the return of the boat and to bring the person back on board as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile, I told the guests and then I phoned my new best friend at the Coast Guard and told her the great news. She canceled the helicopter and shared her good wishes to the captain and crew. Meanwhile the person was brought to the ship and taken immediately to the medical center where he spent the night in the excellent care of our doctors and nurses. I thanked the guests and wished them a good night.

And that was that. I can’t speculate why this crewmember jumped overboard wearing a life jacket but thanks to the brilliant work of the captain and crew last night and that little light on his life jacket, he is alive today. It was quite an evening……all to the soundtrack of Elvis Presley.

I know I posted this on Facebook but what I didn’t say was this. You know, the young crew member is alive today because of the brilliant work of Captain Giovanni Cutugno and his officers and crew. The code for man overboard is “Bravo Bravo” and today I stand up and applaud and shout “Bravo, Bravo” to the captain and crew of the Carnival Magic whose brilliant professionalism saved someone’s life. And it feels great to write that this story has a happy ending and it also feels great to stand up and shout the praises of our Italian captain and his wonderful and dedicated crew.

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.