THE LEGEND OF LONDON

August 8, 2012 -

John Heald

There is no doubt that the Olympic Games have done wonders for the city of London and the tens of thousands of people who have flown in from all over the world to visit and see huge Russian women with legs the size of truck tires throw a hammer around a field. It’s been great for me because we have had the BBC coverage of the games which I know upset one lady last cruise who felt it was biased to the British athletes but overall the games have been truly enjoyed by the vastly international 4,600 guests. Indeed, when Usaine Bolt won the 100 meters final on Sunday night the cheers from the packed Lido deck were, I am sure, heard in Jamaica.

One thing that the BBC does very well is in between showing tall men jumping into a sand pit and men from Kenya running 10,000 meters without breaking a sodding sweat is that they go onto the streets of London to interview tourists and ask their impressions of what was happening at the games. One such piece caught my eye yesterday as it showed a group of Japanese tourists lining up outside a telephone box………..a red London telephone box. Why, I thought, are people lining up to use a phone box? Everyone has a cell phone these days. And why is the Japanese woman who’s actually using it not using it at all? She’s half in and half out, smiling and giving the V for victory sign with her two fingers. It turned out she was posing for a photograph in the only slice of olde England she could find. And, what’s more, all the people behind her were also tourists queuing to have their pictures taken with it as well. The BBC reporter mentioned that this is one of only a few red phone boxes left in London and this has made me rather sad. How far have they traveled, I wondered? And how much have they spent on this once in a lifetime trip to see London and the Olympic Games? And this – this red phone box that probably smells of urine and is festooned with prostitute’s calling cards – is the only evidence that they are in London and not Los Angeles, New York or Vancouver.

The policemen have replaced their big light bulb looking helmets and happy to tell you the time attitude with Kevlar body amour and M16 machine guns. The major tourist attractions are unrecognizable as they have a ring of steel and concrete around them to stop the bad guys from driving three tons of C4 explosives into Parliament. The pigeons that have been part of life in Trafalgar Square for years have all been shot because nobody wanted to clean up their **** anymore and the absolute last language you will hear spoken on any street is proper British English. The pubs that once served a pint of warm bitter and a slab of toad in the hole for lunch now serve a bottle of Corona and thinly sliced peacock’s wing drizzled with cold strawberry and essence of Yak sauce.

Even the names of these establishments that have stood for over 100 years have had to change their name and appearance to meet the demands of the new London. The Horse and Hound a pub in the city near where I used to work, is now a wine bar called The Broker and whereas these pubs used to have landlords called Dave and Arthur who would greet you with, “Aw right sunshine……havin’ a pint, are ya?”……..you now get greeted by someone called Pierre who probably won’t greet you at all. Yep………it’s a new London. No wonder then that the sight of one of only a few remaining red phone boxes had the Japanese so excited. I can only imagine what would have happened if they had seen a chap dressed in a bowler hat and a pin stripped suit carrying the Financial Times and umbrella under his arm.

Tea Time, the once great and protected tradition of all Londoners, has disappeared, replaced by Starbucks and their craparfrapacinnos. Ask for a cup of tea in there and the Polish lady behind the counter will have no sodding clue what you are talking about. If you are in London and fancy the even older tradition of High Tea at one of the restaurants or hotels be prepared for a shock. I took Heidi to the Savoy Hotel a few years ago for High Tea as this was something she always wanted to do. Unfortunately, we will not be repeating that experience as never again will I pay 50 pounds – $90 – for two cups of Earl Grey and a piece of cake. The tea times on our ships are better quality and, remember, come with no extra charge. However, London is a multicultural city which has had to adapt to the world we live in. There are restrictions on carbon footprints, you have to pay to drive in the city and a billboard advertising women’s Olympics’ fashion have been banned within a five-mile radius of certain places of worship during the games just in case someone gets upset. This is all well and good but will all of this attract the much-needed tourist? I think people still want the pomp and circumstance that makes London London.

You can, of course, still find this if you look really hard. Next year, I hope to be the cruise director on the Carnival Legend which, as you know, will be sailing out of Dover which is about 100 miles or so from London. Many of you will be looking to see London pre-cruise and so, here we are eventually, after all my grumbling with the list of must see places while you are in this great city:

Take a tour of Buckingham Palace where apparently Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, which is on display there, is the second most popular attraction in London these days……after her sister’s bottom, obviously.

See the Tower of London – it hosts the Crown Jewels and the dungeons of the Bloody Tower are not to be missed. The London Eye – the views are stunning and you will get the best possible photos of Big Ben. Kew Gardens – the royal gardens just outside London are beautiful.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

Westminster Abbey

And now you can add the new Olympic stadium to the list as well. And if you want a traditional lunch served in a traditional restaurant with a traditional British flavor……you must go to Simpsons on the Strand…………..the best Yorkshire pudding this side of my Mums.

London has changed and I guess out of all the major cities in the world, it is probably the most unrecognizable from its past but these past few days that the world’s attention has been on London and I think the city and the games has done the world proud……don’t you?

Let’s have a look at the route Carnival Legend will navigate around the UK on Sept. 13, 2013:

• London (Dover), England
• Fun Day at Sea
• Stavanger, Norway
• Fun Day at Sea
• Edinburgh, Scotland
• Invergordon, Scotland
• Fun Day at Sea
• Glasgow (Greenock), Scotland
• Belfast, Northern Ireland
• Dublin, Ireland
• Fun Day at Sea
• Le Havre (Paris), France – oh FFS!
• London (Dover), England

I will be on the ship for this incredible voyage and I hope some of you will be too.

Time for today’s Q and A – let’s get on with it.

Harry asked:

Well, Mr. Heald, you have finally hit the big time. There is a page called John Heald**** on Facebook that is dedicated to people who dislike you and your cheerleaders. I am sure Carnival must be so proud that their brand ambassador has such a page.

John says:
Hello Harry,

I gave myself a few minutes to think about whether or not to post this because I didn’t want to give the page free advertising but I decided to in the end but just remove the nice word at the end of the page title. I am sure this may send some more your way but trust me, I wasn’t one of them and have absolutely no interest in what is being said there. However members or contributors to this page are entitled to their opinion and I shall respect that and say cheers.

Best wishes.

John

Tracey Eric and Luke Wilson asked:

Just want to thank you personally for our first Carnival cruise experience recently. We were on the inaugural cruise of the Carnival Breeze out of Venice on June 3 and we had a most memorable trip of our lives! As you may recall, we were in the minority of the passengers coming from the UK and Carnival went out of their way when Luke won the Hasbro game show and instead of giving us a voucher for Hasbro.com, you converted to OBC!! Wow wow. You and Calvyn are superb and we particularly loved Amy the assistant CD and Sara in the photo department. Also another grateful thanks when you kindly assisted us to alter trips due to the port change that was way beyond Carnival’s control. Lastly the strawberries and wine were much appreciated and the whole cruise and ship are beautiful.

John says:
Hello Tracey Eric and Luke Wilson,

What a wonderful review and I am so glad that you all had such a wonderful time and bravo to Luke for winning Hasbro, The Game show. I will make sure that everyone who is mentioned here sees this and they will love to see also that you had such fun. I really hope we see you again soon and I wish you all the very best.

Best wishes.

John

Jerry Berman asked:

Where is Ryan Fitzgerald? Is he still a CD for Carnival?

John says:
Hello Jerry Berman,

Ryan is no longer a CD but is now working shoreside for our operations department in entertainment and, as you would probably expect, he is doing a fabulous job. I will let him know you were asking about him.
Best wishes.

John

Dave Beal asked:
Hello John,

First off, thanks for the great blog and FB Page. I think your humor is amazing and I truly appreciate the job you do for your customers. My question concerns a past issue that was discussed earlier about the coffee served on the ships. Not the pay-per-cup stuff, but the
MDR, room service and Lido coffee. Has any thought been given to changing to a more enjoyable brand? Honestly, this is really the only issue I have with Carnival is the coffee. It’s just not good, and that is being kind. Please tell me the Head Coffee Beard is working on this?

Thank you so much,

John says:
Hello Dave Beal,

Thanks, first of all, for the kind words and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog and my Facebook page. We have recently changed the Lido and dining room coffee and I have started to hear better reports from guests as we roll this across the fleet. I would be interested to know what you think the next time you sail as we have, I think, improved it. I hope all is well with you and hope we see you on board soon.

Best wishes.

John

Doreen Weidenbaum asked:

I took my first cruise in December 2010 on the Carnival Destiny. Last year’s cruise was on the Carnival Valor and this year it will be on the Carnival Miracle in September and the Carnival Glory in December. As you can tell, I am addicted. But it’s not me I want to talk about. This past year I lost my sister, Gwen, to brain cancer. It was a long year of her being diagnosed as being drunk, having epilepsy, it all being mental and finally it was diagnosed as a fast-growing tumor. During all of that, it was her sister-in-law, Laurie, and her husband, Steve, who were there for her. Her children, her brother and sister me included, all live so far away, it was Laurie and Steve who were there for her. Gwen moved in with them, Laurie took her to all the doctors, and chemo and radiation. It was very hard for Laurie, my sister’s marriage hadn’t lasted but the love Gwen and Laurie shared did. Her daughter, Kathleen, my brother Doug, my sister JoAyn and myself all got there the last few weeks of her life. I was lucky to spend the last days of Gwen’s life with her, Kathleen and Laurie. It was hard for all of us, but we were together. There is no way to say thank you to Laurie and Steve. But my brother and I talked, we decided we would all send them on a cruise to relax and recover from such a difficult year. Because I love Carnival, I planned the cruise. Today, I made the final payment and was wondering, “What else?” and it came to me. I wondered if there could be any way you could send something to them to help to make them feel special – because they are. And for them to get a little acknowledgement from Carnival, what more could say “Yes, you are special.” If it’s possible, that would just top off this whole cruise. Here is their information:

Laurie Kane and Steve Ayling
Booking # ******
September 10, 2012
Jacksonville

Thank you, even for considering this. And someday, maybe I’ll get to sail on a ship that you’re the CD!

Doreen Weidenbaum

John says:
Hello Dorreen Weidenbaum:

What a terribly sad story and I send you my deepest condolences at the loss of your sister. I hope this cruise will be one that will be rejuvenating relaxing and maybe even allow you to laugh again. I would be happy to send them something and wondered as we are a month away if you could send this again here on the blog on September 7 marked URGENT and if possible, someone has a Facebook account, you can do the same that day on facebook.com/johnheald. That way neither I nor the ship will forget. I wish you all a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes to all.

John

Viveck Roy asked:

I am sailing with my daughter on one of your ships, the Carnival Miracle, and our date is 9/3/12. My daughter is very special indeed and won the 84th Scripps National Spelling Bee this year. She is now very famous and I want to have the captain of the cruise ship acknowledge her in a presentation and maybe the ship could award her a prize, as well. The passengers can ask her words to spell and I am sure they would like this very much. She is a champion and the rest of the young people on the ship should learn from her and that is why I hope you will do the needful.

John says:
Hello Viveck Roy,

You must be so very proud of your daughter and I send her my warmest congratulations. I will let the ship know she is sailing and while I don’t think we can ask the captain to get involved here I will ask the cruise director to mention her at his Morning Show and I will also send her something to wish her many congratulations. I hope she has a fun cruise as well and the same to you and the rest of the family.

Best wishes.

John

Joe B asked:
Hey John,

On our last cruise (which was my second with Carnival) we bought a future cruise credit with hopes of booking a Mediterranean cruise with Carnival. When we went to our travel agent, we were told Carnival does not do seven-day cruises in the Mediterranean. I was disappointed to be honest 🙁 We have only cruised on Carnival and wanted to keep it that way, however, with the lack of a seven-day option, we had to book with the Epic. (I know, that’s one monstrosity of an ugly ship). We are cruising in 2013 – do you think there is any chance Carnival will have a seven-day option in the future? RCCL/NCL all do, but I’d cancel in a heartbeat and book with you guys if you had a seven-day available. Thanks John, keep up the great work. Love reading your blog!!

John says:
Hello Joe B,

We had seven-day Mediterranean cruises last year on Carnival Magic but they were the least popular, sales-wise, and that’s why we went back to the longer cruises. I am so sorry that we won’t be seeing you but I am sure you will have a great time on the Epic. I wish I had better news for you but hope one day we will see you again. Have a brilliant time.

Best wishes.

John

Debbie Nieman asked:
John,

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping with an experience of a lifetime! We absolutely loved our evening at The Chef’s Table on our recent cruise aboard Carnival Splendor! We sailed on June 3-10. We just can’t say enough about the experience. Thank you again for helping to make this happen!

Debbie Nieman

John says:
Hello Debbie Nieman,

Thanks so very much and the chef on Carnival Splendor will be thrilled when he hears this. I hope we will see you again very soon and thanks again for taking the time to write these wonderful words.

Best wishes.

John

Kevin Thames asked:
Hi John,

Just a quick question. Will you by any chance be on the Carnival Breeze sailing March 30, 2013? This will be my 13th cruise with Carnival, however you haven’t been the CD on any of them, and after hearing others talk about you being on their cruise, I was really hoping you would be on our next.

John says:
Hello Kevin Thames,

Firstly let me say a huge thanks to you for cruising with us so many times and I promise that you will love this amazing new ship Carnival Breeze. Although I do not know my schedule for sure there is a very good chance I won’t be here in March and that we will miss each other again. I am sorry about that, really I am but the ship herself and the brilliant crew here will more than make up for this. Please let me know if there is anything you need and have the best of times.

Best wishes.

John

Linda Sauls asked:

I can’t believe we started sailing with CCL in 1988! Our next two cruises are on the Carnival Breeze, Oct 24 with the TA to follow. Since she’s a new ship, here are my questions. We would like to get off the ship between the cruises in Barcelona and do some sightseeing, but we don’t want to take our “stuff” with us. Our cabins are 6426 for first cruise and 9384 for the second. Can we get off and on at will that day of the turnaround? What time do we need to disembark? I want to make these trips special. Hubby’s 75th, our 25th anniversary and BOTH of us have no cancer recurrence, so LOTS to celebrate. Remember, John…don’t let ANYONE steal your joy!

John says:
Hello Linda Sauls,

We have come a long way since 1988 and you will see what I mean when you see this amazing new ship. Yes, all you need to do is pack your things into your suitcases, leave things you wish to on the hanger and the stateroom stewards will move them to the new cabin for you. That’s all you need do and you can then go and explore Barcelona. I will see you here to help you celebrate all those wonderful things you mentioned and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know and I will do all I can to make this cruise special. Congratulations on winning the battle and I wish you both health and happiness.

Best wishes.

John

James Yaklin asked:
Hello Mr. John Heald,

I have been catching up on your many brilliant posts that I’ve missed. It has made for a very entertaining morning. One thing I learned this morning is don’t read your blog entries while drinking coffee. You and Carnival now owe me for a new computer monitor. 🙂

My suggestion to you, John, is don’t change what you do. I’m sorry you have so many critics out there that do not appreciate your writing and humor. But I look forward to it and I suspect there are many like me and that we are not the minority (I even appreciate your British spelling and idioms). I also want to point out to you that although I am sure the Carnival Breeze is a magnificent, beautiful ship, it is most certainly NOT the most brilliant ship in the Carnival fleet. That distinction would belong to both the Carnival Magic and the Carnival Carnival Triumph. This is for simply no other reason than both of these ships are Texas ships. How could anything else compare to that?

Speaking of the Carnival Magic, my family and I returned from a brilliant cruise aboard this brilliant ship. She is a great ship and we enjoyed ourselves. Try as hard as I can there was simply nothing that just ruined our entire cruise for us (and that’s not to say there weren’t problems because there most certainly were). This was my eighth cruise with Carnival and while I can’t say it was the best cruise (that will always be our first cruise on board the Carnival Conquest), it certainly ranks high.

I know many of your readers write complimentary things about the Carnival crews. I have to say I have always appreciated the crews on board any of the ships we have been on (BTW, in eight cruises, I have to admit I’ve only been on four Carnival ships). But this time, I had awoken early and took a walk on board the ship. While watching the crew doing their morning things, I came to the realization that these folks are working really hard to make sure that I, my family, and the other Carnival guests have a great vacation. But even more than that, they are taking pride in it. I watch as one crewmember diligently polished the handrails on one of the stairwells on the Lido deck. At this time, I had the thought that I have not appreciated all of the crew as much as I should have. I wished that I could go back and thank every crew member that was aboard my two cruises on the Carnival Conquest, my four cruises aboard the Carnival Ecstasy, and my one cruise aboard the Carnival Sensation, and this cruise aboard the Carnival Magic. John, I hope there is some way that you can express my gratitude to all of the employees of Carnival for doing all they do. I know it can’t be easy to be away from their homes and families for the long stretches and yet they are taking so much pride in serving their guests. It is truly remarkable and brilliant.

John says:
Hello James Yaklin,

What a difference between the first post and the last post on today’s Q&A. This is such a special post because it again highlights the most important aspect for me of a Carnival bruise and that is the crew. You highlighted the young man polishing the hand rail and he is just one of the more than 1,300 team members who take pride on the Carnival Magic of what they do and I thank you most sincerely for recognising him. I shall take great joy in posting this on to the crew of the Carnival Magic and, as I always say, they will be thrilled. Thanks for the kind words and support and you have no idea how much I appreciate them. I hope we shall sail together one day soon and if there is anything I can do for you or your family, please let me know.

Best wishes

John

And on that note, we shall finish today’s Q&A.

I hope you have been enjoying the bios of our cruise directors and we continue today with another one and today we feature a firm favourite with so many of you. Here is Malcolm:

Malcolm “Woo Hoo”

I was born in the Bronx, New York, Parkchester, and my mother raised me along in Kingston, New York. I joined the Boy Scouts and became a troop leader and camp counselor for about three years. I was a summer counselor for first aid and canoeing for two years for Troop 275. I love theatre and acting, also involved throughout school with track & field, and many community clubs. My mother and I relocated down to Tampa where I finished school and started out as a casino dealer with Empress Cruise Lines. After working for Ocean Gaming/Empress Cruise Lines for a few years, I developed a close working relationship with the owners. I dedicated all my time and creativity with this line, bringing ideas and acts to their onboard night club, and incorporating theme cruises. Three years with Empress came to an end when Hard Rock Café opened several casinos on various Indian reservations in Florida. I then ventured into the executive recruitment arena with Armand Power Jullion & Jackson in Tampa, working my way from assistant to recruiter and finished in 1999. I then worked as retainer within the sales and marketing department at Dell, Callaway Golf, Disney & Tech Data. In January 2000, I started with Carnival as a social host on the Carnival Fantasy. I worked for eight months on my first contract from Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Paradise, Carnival Imagination then finishing on the Carnival Victory inaugural. I became assistant cruise director in 2003, standing in as CD from 2003-04 on the Carnival Triumph. After much hard work, I became full time CD in 2007 promoted on the Carnival Victory out of New York. I have been working the New York crowds since 2006, and love it. I love the attitude, and they enjoy my humor. I am a spicy, animated character. I love old-style comedy, “Charlie Chaplin,” “Our Gang,” and “Laurel & Hardy.” My inspiration is “Flip Wilson,” “In Living Colour,” and “Saturday Night Live.” I want to bring this style comedy to what I do….

Malcolm has been on the Carnival Miracle for some time and he is one of the reasons that the ship has done so well. I know many love his “woo hoo” zany comedy and his genuine care that the guests have the best of times. Congratulations Malcolm, keep up the great work.

Club O2 is teen heaven….Xstation 3 and Wee Wee games……special activities and most importantly, parents and anyone who can’t sing the lyrics to “Slap My Bitch Up ” can’t come in. This cruise there has been a special visitor in a young man called Harrison. Readers of my Facebook page will know that his mother contacted me in hope that I could introduce him to some new friends. Now Harrison is older, 19 actually, but suffers from Asperser’s Syndrome, which I am told is a form of autism. This was rather a difficult one for me to know how to deal with so I asked my Facebook readers for advice as some have family members with similar concerns. Amongst the kind advice was that although Harrison was 19, he probably had a “younger mind” which his mother confirmed was correct admitting that many times he had the thinking and behavior of a 12 year old. So, Circle C may be an idea then except no, that wasn’t going to work because although Harrison may think and behave like a 12 year old, he is 6 feet tall and looks very adult. So, thanks to the wonderful cooperation of the youth director here, I invited Harrison to Club O2 our 15 – 17 teen club. Now I admit, my knowledge of his condition is limited and as I met Harrison and his mother and walked them to Club O2 I was nervous. I was nervous for two reasons actually and while the first reason was would Harrison actually go and secondly how would the other teens accept him?

When I met Harrison he seemed, well, normal. I hate using that word but I can’t think of an alternative to use. His mother had explained that he finds it difficult to make friends. He avoids direct eye contact and can take statements absolutely literally. She gave an example of if she said it was “raining cats and dogs,” he would expect a downpour of pets. He sticks to familiar routines and can get very uncomfortable when these routines are broken. So this all made me a little nervous as I said but those nerves were unfounded because two days later, Harrison is having fun, loads of fun and the other teens who I was worried may not accept him, have not only done that but reports are that the are having fun WITH him and not avoiding him which had been my concern. That Harrison has made new friends makes me very happy indeed and I think his parents are truly appreciating the valuable time they now have together. I have spent some time talking with his parents about Harrison and his condition. He lives in a world where sounds are too loud, lights are too flashy and everything involving crowds of people seems unbearably chaotic. But here on the Carnival Breeze, he seems to be simply having fun……and that is a reason to rejoice.

So in five days time, I will be heading home for 15 days rest and, of course, a visit to the hospital for surgery on my arm and to hopefully get rid of this sodding carpool tunnel thingy. Everyone knows that men hate seeing doctors and I am definitely one of them. If my colon suddenly fell out of my body had dropped on the stage in the middle of the Bedtime Story, I would probably apologise to the audience and say, “I’ll take a Tylenol before bed and see how it is in the morning” and carry on with the show. What am I afraid of, I hear some of you cry? Well, let me tell you. The reason I would rather French kiss a camel with gingivitis than see a doctor is that I believe that all doctors everywhere wish to put a gloved finger up my bottom. Even when I’ve gone in complaining of earache, I have experienced the touch, the feel of latex and I am sure that on August the 16 when I go to see Doctor Ramitin who will perform the surgery on my arm his first instructions will be for me to bend over so he can insert his finger right up my chocolate starfish. Think of me, won’t you, on August the 16 as I experience my own FTTF………Fastest to the Finger! 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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