May 31, 2016 -

John Heald

Good morning from Civitavecchia and our call to Rome which, thanks to busy port traffic this morning, was delayed by 30 minutes. That meant that instead of docking at 7am, it was 7:30am before the ship was alongside and another 15 minutes before the gangways were out. And because of the delay, Captain Lubrano gave permission to extend the call by 30 minutes, meaning guests have to be back on board at 8pm rather than 7:30pm as advertised.

We have close to 2,000 people on Carnival excursions today and they were all seated in the lounges waiting for the gangway to be set. Meanwhile, on the deck 1 forward stairs and down to Deck 0 where the gangway is located, guests on independent tours were huffing and puffing despite Matt’s superb announcements advising guests to please not come down until the gangways were set. Having been in this position countless times myself, I knew what to expect and, sure enough, when I went to the gangway area myself to help, I saw how some people have not been blessed with any patience whatsoever.

I have just finished answering a load of questions, including a comment from Alice that I should not “throw people to the wolves” and that my comments should only be ones based on the good that happens on the ship.  And I respectfully replied that not everything in the garden was always rosy and that it is my belief that, because I write about the good, bad and ugly here, means this page is as busy as it is. And this morning I saw the “ugly” as a group of 40- something guests, all in one group, from one country, shouted at anyone wearing a Carnival name tag that “if we missed our train, there would be consequences.” So introducing myself, I explained to the group that the port authority had asked the captain to wait outside the harbour entrance and only when they gave permission could the ship dock. It was then that the quote of the day was shouted at me and word for word it went like this.

“Someone will lose their employment for this. I am good friends with the owner Micky Arnison.”  And as he said that, he stuck his boney retired finger in my chest. Look, I know things were running late and Matt, the staff and I had apologised but it really was not something we could control. Yep, they may miss their train to Rome but shouting and screaming in English and in their own language at the staff was not going to change anything. And calling Micky Arnison wasn’t likely to change anything either unless unbeknownst to me, during the night, someone called Micky Arnison had bought the company. Anyway, the guests got off the ship at 7:50am and I hope they miss their train……………bugger, I mean I hope they don’t miss their train. But this group was the exception because everyone else understood and was ready to explore the Vatican and the rest of this extraordinary city.

My wife and daughter are here and are currently enjoying the pool and WaterWorks. I will try and spend time with them later this afternoon. Kye informed me last night that she wanted to be a “fashion designer” and design new uniforms for Carnival. When I was Kye’s age, I wanted to be a police officer tearing around in my red sports car with the big white stripe down the front like Starsky and Hutch shooting criminals with my big gun. Obviously, that would never have happened because I lived in the UK and police drive Ford Escorts and they don’t carry guns, meaning that the only way I could have stopped the bad guy from stealing something would have been to threaten him with a good nipple flicking.

Anyway, as I got older, I wanted to be a vet, a spy, a soldier and then back to being a police officer again. My mates were the same. They wanted to be a stockbroker, a pilot, a lawyer and one guy I went to school with called Jeffery Grace wanted to be a dancer and, despite the verbal pounding he took from the school bullies, he did in fact become a dancer for the English National Ballet.

Now, obviously, even back then, my mates and I all had rock star fantasies but they involved singing into our sisters’ hairbrushes in the privacy of the bathroom. I remember my sister Suzanne getting quite cross at me one day as she was busy looking for her hairbrush only to find me singing into it, in my underpants, doing my best Ozzy Osborne impression singing about Electric Funerals and War Pigs.

But it was only a dream then and one that none of us kids honestly believed would be a dream that could come true and so we never took it seriously.

Fast forward to today and bloody hell……what a difference. Kids today don’t only want to become famous actors or pop stars instead of plumbers or truck drivers. They want to be these things even if there isn’t a tiny hint that they actually have any talent. You only have to look at the evidence of the American Idol auditions to prove that statement to be true. When I was a cruise director, the talent show was a huge performance and, along with my now-retired Bedtime Story, it was one of the busiest of shows and standing room only and, on a personal note, my favorite night of the cruise…………..I miss those days — I really do.

Anyway, enough of my self-pity and back to the point. During my time hosting these shows, I met so many parents who demanded that their young children who were Kye’s age sing in the adult talent show. I knew that they believed in their hearts that their kids would truly be famous one day. Most of the time, I had to say “no” because with so many children on the ships, how could I let one and not the rest. The seven-year-old girl I said “no “ to, could indeed be the next Adele, the next nine-year-old boy could one day be as famous as 25 Cent or Pit Dog or indeed ……. they could just be kids who had a nice voice and go on to lead normal, non-famous lives.

These parents believed that their children are destined for stardom and that I was an evil bastard for not allowing them to reach their destiny by singing in the talent shows.

So Kye wants to design fashion and that’s great and I will help her with her dreams. But if she ever says “Daddy, I want to be famous,” I shall explain to her right there and then that she most likely never will be.

We think we’re being kind, loving and supportive when we tell our children they can be anything they dream of being, but reality can certainly take over sometimes, can’t it?  Maybe she will love cruising so much that she will become a Carnival Cruise Line cruise director or brand ambassador. Meanwhile, her Dad will be writing this Facebook page from his retirement me wearing a slightly damp pair of underpants.

Cheers and wywh.

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.