February 22, 2012 -

John Heald

I love my daughter Kye very much. However, I don’t apparently love her as much as celebrities love theirs. How do I know? Because they say so – or so it seems. It’s the buildup to the Oscars and I just watched some actress who, honestly, I have never heard of, tell the CNN reporter something that makes me want to smash things to pieces with a large Thor-like mallet. She was asked if she was hoping to win and replied, “I am someone who puts her kids first.” As opposed to what? Ninth? Isn’t it sort of obvious that your children come first? That’s like expecting praise for not pinching a beautiful bottom when you see one in line at the Mongolian Wok. What do they imagine us normal people do, put our children 27th somewhere after the dog and our collection of ship pins? One day, I’d like to see a celebrity say, “My kids? They get on my sodding nerves the little bastards.” Maybe one day a celeb can even tell us what they are really thinking when asked what’s most important in their lives. “Well, the kids are OK, but if I am honest, I’d have to say my Oscar.”

There are lots of kids on the Carnival Magic this cruise, 858 in fact, and it’s interesting seeing them split into the two different groups. Those whose parents want them dropped off at Camp Carnival the moment it opens and a few who for whatever reasons don’t want their kids there. Normally, the reason for the latter is that the kids are too shy to go there as Kye, my daughter, was the first time Heidi and I tried to get her to camp. There are though other reasons that happen from time to time……like this one.

Ref: 21A11987152
DATE: 2/20/12

Guest called the GSD and wanted to have it noted that she was unhappy with Camp Carnival because the children there were loud and that the games were based on parties and not quiet arts and crafts as she had expected. Guest said that her daughter (9 years) is home schooled and doesn’t like to mix with others. She has asked for some coloring books and paints for the cabin.

I read this after, in fact, I had met the family concerned at the captain’s celebration and the Mum spoke to me about this. Now I must say her daughter did not look shy at all and chatted with me and the captain and we all had our photo taken. Now, I would never judge how a parent brings up their child as I hope nobody would judge the way I raise Kye. However, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for this lovely nine-year-old. I have always thought that kids like to hang out with other kids, especially when they are on vacation and on a cruise. But sometimes you see kids on Lido by the pool, their mothers protecting them all in the name of “quality time with Mum and Dad,” a phrase that surely strikes eye rolling dread in the heart of any nine-year-old.

When Heidi and Kye come to the ship, the brilliant Camp Carnival staff are my heroes. When Kye sails now she loves Camp Carnival as staring at Dadda on stage or blogging all day is not what she finds exciting anymore. At Camp Carnival, Kye enjoys all sorts of activities in the company of other kids and she loves it. There are plenty other reasons why Camp Carnival is the answer to vacation harmony. Without the brilliant CC staff….. I would never get to have any rumpy pumpy.

Let’s crack on with some Q and A.

Nicki and Al Petra asked:

I need quick help to let me decide between two excursions in Livorno for when we join you on the Carnival Breeze. We are interested in the Florence and Pisa tour but also are thinking about the Essence of Tuscany because we both love the movie Under the Tuscan Sun. Can you answer this quickly as we both like to have our plans made and don’t want the tours to sell out!!!!

John says:
Hello Nicki and Al Petra,

I am very happy to know you will be joining me on the Carnival Breeze and you are considering some great excursions. Tuscany is simply gorgeous and I know that many people are attracted by this stunning place after watching the movie you mentioned. The excursion takes you through to Sienna and San Gimiano and then to lunch at a traditional country farmhouse, it is simply beautiful. But then so is Florence and the cathedral and the Academia and Uffizi museums and of course the tour, first of the great leaning tower and the village of Pisa make this our most popular excursion. Judging by what you said and by the love you have for the movie Under the Tuscan Sun though……I would go to Tuscany. You won’t regret it. See you soon.

Best wishes.


Martha B asked:

I just returned from a Carnival cruise aboard the Carnival Sensation and enjoyed the shows very much but was surprised that you did not make an announcement for guests like me with epilepsy that there were strobe and flashing lights included in the shows. Strobe and flash lighting can bring on a Grand Mal seizure so I suggest this is added immediately.

John says:
Hello Martha B,

Thanks so very much for bringing this to my attention and I have sent this to our shoreside beards to let them know. Thanks again for letting me know. I will keep you informed. I hope you had a great cruise.

Best wishes.


Anna Petroni asked:

I would suggest that the reason you don’t like formal nights and are encouraging its demise is that like many obese people, you don’t feel comfortable in a suit and find it difficult indeed to find clothes that fit, especially those that fall into the formal category. As a Carnival VIP, I suggest that you don’t punish others who love to dress up just because you may not find it comfortable to do so yourself.

Anna Petroni

John says:
Hello Anna Petroni,

I see that you only posted this yesterday, obviously in response to my blog called RIP Tuxedo. I decided to bring it to the front of the questions to be answered for two reasons. Firstly, I want to make sure that in no way shape or form am I trying to suggest that we do away with elegant night, on the contrary, I think we have to keep it. My point is that we should give people a choice and if someone doesn’t want to wear a suit on their vacation, that this be OK as well and that it shouldn’t bother others what people wear. Secondly…….well, your post is brilliant because you’re so right. Trying to find a good suit off the rack when you have a beach ball shoved down your stomach isn’t easy, so thank goodness, therefore, that my tailor Omar the Tent maker, is able to help.

Best wishes and thanks for your loyalty.


Kim Abbott asked:

Will you tell me why not everyone receives the email comment card after a cruise? I hate there are some hard working Carnival employees out there that don’t get the recognition they deserve from these comment cards. If Carnival wants feedback, I would think it would be necessary to send comment cards to everyone. Also, aren’t these supposed to be entered in a drawing for a free cruise?

John says:
Hello Kim Abbott,

I somewhat agree with you. Now, we have stopped doing the free cruise drawing two years ago and the review cards are sent to approximately 40 percent of the guests electronically but that means not everyone who wants one gets one. I will continue to ask the beards if we can change this system and find a way to make sure those who want to give praise and suggestions can do so and meanwhile you have a place to do that here on my blog and on my Facebook page and I promise that if you do, the right people will see it.

Best wishes.


Carla & Jim asked:
Mr. Heald,

My husband, parents, and I just returned from a wonderful Carnival cruise aboard the Carnival Legend out of Tampa. The cruise fully exceeded our expectations, and I’d like to share how. We sailed November 13 and we occupied cabins 6116 and 6120.

First, one odd thing we’ve noticed, on this and several other Carnival cruises. There’s something peculiar about the desserts on the Lido deck: they look gorgeous, they smell great, they have the right “mouth-feel” when you bite into them, but it’s as if all the flavor has been magically removed. I don’t have a clue what’s going on, but this isn’t the first time we’ve noticed, nor the first ship (and we’ve heard similar comments from others). Anyway, that’s a trivial problem easily worked around, especially since the desserts in the dining rooms are always enjoyable; it’s just an oddity.

I went Platinum on this cruise, and we greatly enjoyed the special treatment: the relaxed, friendly check-in (though even the standard check-in personnel always are very friendly and seem genuinely to enjoy their jobs); the canapés and special treats during the cruise; and the free laundry (woo-hoo!). We realize the cruise is already an outstanding value and Carnival needn’t spoil us that way, but it was a treat. Thank you. If the new Platinum program provides nothing but a similar level of perks, we’re happy!

We wanted to highlight especially two Carnival employees who really stood out. The first night dining, we saw a face we thought we recognized from a previous cruise, and sure enough, the next morning, Luis from Peru stopped by during breakfast to say he thought we looked familiar and asked if we’d cruised on the Carnival Legend before. Here’s a fellow who sees thousands of different people every week, and he remembered us from at least a year ago. We had a nice conversation before he went back to work; we weren’t seated in his areas during the rest of the cruise, but he always waved and smiled at the restaurant entrance or when we saw him working the Lido deck.

Aldo (from the Philippines) was our room steward, and he did a wonderful job of taking care of both my husband and me in our cabin and my parents in the adjacent one. They’re getting on in years, and he took extra time and effort to make sure they were comfortable and had everything they needed. Aldo noticed my husband’s CPAP machine on the nightstand the first night, and when we got back from dining there was an (approved!) extension cord waiting for us. That’s the kind of attention to detail that really makes an impression. We never lacked for anything, the room was always immaculate, and Aldo always had a word or a smile for us.

The dining room food and service are always great (in our neck of the woods– Northwest Florida), entrees like the Chateaubriand and the braised beef short ribs are not to be found, much less of that high quality. Likewise (if I can go back and refer to a previous cruise), bravo to Carnival for the Tandoor cuisine stations on some Lido decks; my husband and I were sitting there at lunchtime watching officer after officer walk by with some very appealing food: we traced their path and found Tandoor. I think my husband would have eaten lunch there every day! No Tandoor on the Legend this time, but maybe someday!

Our family had a wonderful time cruising, as we always do. Partly because of the value we associate with Carnival, but also in a very large way because of the friendliness of your employees, we’re already planning two Carnival cruises in 2012.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

John says:
Hello Carla and Jim,

I want to thank you for this wonderful review and I will be sending this onto the ship and the shoreside beards as well. I found your comments very interesting about the desserts especially as being diabetic, I can’t have them. I agree that they look brilliant and tasty so I was surprised, therefore, that you find their taste left a lot to be desired. Rest assured, I have sent this to the chef. He will, I know, act accordingly. It’s so great to read about the crew that made a difference to you and they will be thrilled to read your comments and I was thrilled to read where you stated the reasons why you enjoy sailing with Carnival so very much. We will work hard to do better and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.

Best wishes to you and the family.


Tina asked:


I hope that you are going to be spending more time now answering questions on the blog. It seems you have given your time to Facebook and I don’t do Facebook so that means I have to wait weeks for my question to be answered which IMHO is unfair. My need is such that I am writing three months before we cruise to make sure you get our private table for four request sailing on the Dream 4/10 cabins 7345 and 7367.

John says:
Hello Tina,

I do understand that while I answer Facebook questions within 24 hours that on the blog as you see by your question, I am some weeks behind. Anyway, I apologise for this and will send this to the maître d’ to ask that he do his best to give you a table for four. Have a great cruise.

Best wishes.


Dave Varone asked:

Check in the forum under the subject Carnival Magic and thread Big Disappointment. I was very surprised that so many people found such bad things to say about recent times on the Carnival Magic. When I was with you on the Magic in Europe, it was fantastic, no bugs at all.

What happened? Did they change the entire crew and all the cooks, or what?

John says:
Hello Dave Varone,

It’s interesting reading this because I was sent a link to a cruise site that asked, “What’s Wrong with the Magic?” I won’t be posting this for reasons that I won’t bore you with but it has to do with the source rather than the subject. All I can say is that our guests love this ship, which is truly magnificent and the crew is doing a stellar job. In fact, the Carnival Magic is, as of now, number five in the overall fleet ratings for February which is fantastic news, of course. It’s always important to take reviews with a pinch of salt and remember they represent a tiny percentage of the 4,000 people who sail on this brilliant vessel. Granted, we’re not perfect but from all the comments I have seen and from what the guests are telling me in person, the Carnival Magic is exactly everything we hoped she would be.

Best wishes.


Paul Murano asked:
Hi John,

We are booked for our second-ever Carnival cruise on the Carnival Breeze June 27th. I remember you commenting on your blog over the summer that people were not too into the cruise elegant nights on the European cruises on the Magic due to the long touring days. Do you have any idea yet on if there will be any elegant nights on the Carnival Breeze? I will be very happy for no elegant nights and lighter luggage certainly works for us.

John says:
Hello Paul Murano,

I will be honest and say no, I haven’t had time to look at the cruises yet and decide how many we will have. But I need to, so I promise to do this in the next few weeks and by the end of March, I will be here to tell you when they are. My apologies for the delay and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Best wishes.


Simon Ruse asked:

Take a leaf out of RCI’s book, scrap the water slides and get an ice rink. It’s the reason our family choose Royal and not Carnival

John says:
Hello Simon Ruse,

There is no doubt that Royal Caribbean’s ice rink and ice shows are popular and I can see why you and the family would enjoy them. However, thousands upon thousands of our guests, young and old alike, enjoy our water parks which have been added to many of our ships. I do hope that maybe you will experience the fantastic water park here on the Carnival Magic and see what makes this one of the most spectacular at sea. Until then, I wish you and your family happy cruising.

Best wishes.


Tofer Keleigh asked:
Dear John,

My family and I had a wonderful time on the Carnival Fascination. I wanted the word to get back to the people that made my cruise such a wonderful vacation. Jen Baxter and her assistant, Adam, were absolutely fabulous, and I had a great time meeting both of them. I wish I would have gotten my photo taken with them as I’ll always remember them. Some of the entertainment staff, particularly Dallas from Dallas, and Phillip (I can’t remember where he’s from) were particularly great as well. Dallas got a nice telling off from a rude lady on disembarkation day, and as someone who works in customer service, I was very impressed by the way he handled it. One more thing, our dining room servers, I Putu and Agus were great as well, and I particularly enjoyed Josef, the maître d’. If you could please pass on this message to them from me. Just tell Jen it’s from the half American half English kid born in Sidcup, she may actually remember who I am. 🙂 Thanks for all that you do!


John says:
Hello Tofer Keleigh,

What a perfect way to finish today’s Q and A. Thanks so very much for taking the time to write and I will I promise to make sure all the people you mentioned see this and they will, of course, be thrilled. Please let me know if there is anything you need from me before you sail again and thanks again for this brilliant review. I am, I must say, particularly pleased for Jen.

Best wishes.


That’s all for today.

There is no doubt that one of the biggest successes over the last couple of years has been The Chef’s Table and more and more this brilliant event is sold out on every ship each cruise. So why is it so popular? Last night I went to see The Chef’s Table here on the Carnival Magic to see again why the guests continue to rave about this. No, I didn’t eat, I had to host the shows and had to make do with my bread and cheese but I wish I could have done so.

The shipboard Chef’s Tables have been around, in one form or another, for some time (I may be wrong but I think Holland America may have been the pioneers of this) but regardless I think it is probably not a coincidence that the rise in popularity of these venues has coincided with the rise of the celebrity chef on television. People want to see the chef close up in person whether it’s Gordon Ramsey, Guy Fieri or indeed, Chef Andrew Marfatia, here on the Carnival Magic.

But there’s more to it, of course. In days gone by, we had a galley tour for all the guests and hundreds would traipse through the galley to see where the lobster and cappuccino pie were created……no chocolate melting cake in those days, I’m afraid. But the problem was that they really didn’t see anything. The galley was more or less empty when the tours were given at 3 pm which means all they saw was glistening counter tops and instead of the wonderful aroma of food being prepared, it was the smell of cleaning products. That’s why the first part of The Chef’s Table experience is so brilliant. It gives you the chance for a great view of the galley at full tilt. You get to see the artistry of preparation, to hear the sizzle of the huge grills as the prime rib hits it and you get to see waiters, assistant waiters, cooks and chefs from 40 different countries in fluid choreography, working in unison to provide dinner for thousands of hungry Carnival guests.

There’s a special feeling, of course, in being served by the ship’s head chef and discussing the dishes. It’s also a great opportunity for our chefs to get feedback about their cooking, which I know is something that they enjoy.

On all the ships, The Chef’s Table starts with a comprehensive tour of the galley during dinner service. It can be quite loud but it’s entirely fascinating and after the chef has proudly shown you his galley and tempted your taste buds with some sensational hors d’oeuvres washed down with a cold glass of champagne, it is time for the main event. For those blog readers who may not know how this works, please let me explain. The same menu will be served to the whole table and he will have visited your table in the dining room beforehand to make sure you had no allergies. This menu gives our chef the freedom to use effects and techniques that he would never have time to do during his normal busy schedule and the menu is, of course, spectacular.

Here is one of our two Chef’s Table menus:

Chef’s Table Dinner
Executive Chef Sanjay Dhall welcomes Mr. and Mrs. Blogger
Aboard the Carnival Dream, February 21st, 2012

Norwegian Salmon Tartar
Avocado Mousse, Salmon Caviar

Fire Roasted Tomato and Poblano Chili Bisque
Grilled Corn, Cilantro Drizzle

Rock Shrimps and Apple Beignets
Tapioca Crunch on Tomato Carpaccio, Garlic Lemon Aioli

Chopped Mediterranean Salad
Shaved Pumpkin, Feta Cheese Crumble

Fillet of Chilean Sea Bass
Wine Stewed Shallot and Chives Vinaigrette, Leeks Emulsion, Peas Risotto

Aged Filet Mignon
Onion Streusel, Homemade Three Pepper Mustard

Your Specially-Made Chocolate Melting Cake
With a Surprise from the Chef

And now there is a new Chef’s Table menu which is being served currently on the:

  • Carnival Destiny
  • Carnival Imagination
  • Carnival Fantasy
  • Carnival Ecstasy
  • Carnival Sensation
  • Carnival Liberty
  • Carnival Magic (it will be on the new Carnival Breeze with more ships to follow).

Here it is:

Executive Chef Daniel Arulraj welcomes Ms. H82Seaugo
Aboard the Carnival Magic, Tuesday February 21, 2012

Parmesan Core & Olive
Chorizo & Dates, Piquillo Sofrito
Focaccia, Mascarpone Cream & Prosciutto Crudo
Langoustine & Sundried Tomato Jam Fritters

Tomatoes Our Way!
Aerated Tomato Juice, Cocoa Butter Coated, Chardonnay Poached

Tuna Banh Mi
Lemon Bread, Sesame Crisp, Miso Cream Avocado gel

Cornish Hen
Caramelized, Butternut Squash, Sofrito

Spinach, Green Peas, Warm Turnip & Apple Juice

Herb Pesto, Cured Tomatoes, Carrots, Fava, Mushroom Earth, Condensed Beets

Slow Stewed short ribs, Potato Pebbles, Pumpkin Fudge, Tomato Dust

Chef in a Candy Shop

The menus are personalised and yours to keep and whether you eat in the galley itself as on the Dream-class or in a private dining area on all the other ships, it is something that as we read the review cards, each Chef’s Table participant receives that is being described as “the best part of the cruise.” It’s hard to think of anything that has had such a massive impact with foodies than the Chef’s Table.

I had the honour of eating at The Chef’s Table on the Carnival Dream where, like here on the Carnival Magic, you eat in the galley itself. I did so in the secret hope that things would get all Hell’s Kitchen like Gordon Ramsey and that our executive chef would be shouting his head off or swearing at the maitre d’ for not getting the food served quick enough before taking his apron off, throwing it at the food and beverage manager and walking out. But it never happened and in fact, most of our chefs are very soft spoken and don’t have an ounce of Gordon Ramsey in them.

I have spoken to many guests and read on the blog and on Facebook that the highlight of the new menu is the Wagyu beef. Now for those who don’t know about where this comes from, I should mention that the cows are special cows from Japan and they are the happiest most content cows in the world. This, apparently, is the key to the quality of the Wagyu’s meat. Its tenderness is the result of a pampered VIP existence. Wagyu cattle are the supermodels of the bovine world. They must be regularly massaged with brushes made from silk to distribute their fat into the meat, then rubbed with sake to make their coats glow. They eat only the finest hay and their menu is expanded to include gallons of beer………no, really, it is…….designed to give them more appetite and presumably to help them handle the thought of rumpy pumpy with an ugly huge bull which is needed to make more Wagyu cows. This is the king of beef — it’s what other cows want to be. Wagyu is the dining version of an Aston Martin served by a Latvian in suspenders.

The Chef’s Table is simply brilliant from the visit to the galley, the interaction with our head chef who prepares, explains and serves the food, to the jovial hospitality that comes with meeting new friends. The wine pours freely and memories are made. Each and every week, we are receiving 100 plus reservation requests for this epic culinary event and I hope one day that you get to experience it as well. You can reserve a place at your Chef’s Table by completing the reservation thingy here on my blog and the ship will then send you an email confirmation. I will be hosting a very special Chef’s Table on the Bloggers Cruise with guests hopefully buying raffle tickets in order to sit and enjoy this amazing event together, with the proceeds going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Let’s see some photos of the Chef’s Table here on the Carnival Magic. These were taken last night at The Chef’s Table hosted by the ship’s Chef de Cuisine Daniel Arulraj.

It feels strange talking about such gorgeous food and so much gorgeous food at that, considering this cruise I have been the target of the “tea sellers” or chubby chasers, as I like to call them. I know I have to lose weight and am trying. I don’t want to die in my sixties. I’m not saying I want to live forever. But I’d like to have a crack at meeting Kye’s children, my grandchildren. I don’t drink alcohol and haven’t for 16 years now. I eat green vegetables. I have cut right back on Diet Coke, drinking only three per week. I walk the stairs on the ship.

Yes, I smoke a cigar or two each week and, yes, I love red meat but my blood pressure is good, I check it every day on my own machine and my sugar levels are, for the most part, in control. Of course, I have a secret dream of being thin. I’d love to be 200 pounds of muscle with a six-pack and to be able to run marathons and to have women want to ravage my body rather than rub my tummy and ask when the baby is due. I know I am a medium-sized hippo in a blue blazer but you know what? I have a beautiful wife, a daughter that makes me happier than I have ever been and I have a job that, considering I am as talented as drunken penguin, I am so very lucky to have.

One last thing, I cannot believe the amount of e-books that I see here on the Carnival Magic. They’re everywhere with young, old and everything in between using them. I can’t stand them and when I say that to someone, I am met with frowns and sad shakes of the head, as if I am a knuckle dragging troglodyte afraid of fire. I know that they are popular and particularly useful to the elderly because the font size can be enlarged, but I just find them…..well, soulless. Reading an e-book thingy feels to me like enjoying a Wagyu steak in pill form. Real books have that page-turning gratification that cannot be found on the finger sliding e-thingies. Most of all, I hate that with e-books I cannot tell what other people are reading. Unless they are reading Big Jugs True Stories or Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue……in which case it is understandable that they would want to keep that to themselves.


Your friend,


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71 Responses to A SEAT AT THE TOP TABLE

  1. Janet Westrich says:

    Dear John,
    In reference to Jim & Carla’s comment above about the desserts on the Lido, I have to agree. I have noticed that during the last couple of Carnival cruises, the desserts look so fabulous but have so little taste. I thought it was just me til I saw carla’s comment above. Hope the flavor can be improved to match the great eye appeal.

    • Alicia L. says:

      I also agree about the desserts. There are a few I enjoy – the chocolate mint cake, the chocolate fountain to name a couple. But overall, the desserts on the Lido deck aren’t worth it in my opinion. Do love the ice cream though!

    • john pulaski says:

      Ditto!They look great but No taste.Across the board.

    • Dutchman says:

      (all the flavor has been magically removed), we have noticed that also, I don’t bother getting desserts anymore. I get ice cream.

    • Jerie Campi says:

      I agree with the desserts on Lido comments. Now the dinning room- yummm! They look wonderful and taste just as amazing!

    • Lynn in VA says:

      I agree. There are a couple desserts that are really good (mostly the chocolate ones) but the rest don’t have much flavor.

    • J.R. says:

      I also agree, they look great but taste bland . They should excite the palate as much as they do the eyes.

  2. I can completely understand your reticence about e-readers. Personally, I love a good book, and my library at home had consisted of over 750 books of all sorts – fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks, etc. Notice, I say ‘had’ as 18 months ago I bought my first Kindle. I had to buy a second one a couple of months later as my wife had ‘discovered’ how convenient it was. Two months later, I had to buy another as my son came to the same conclusion.

    Then, I took a big step about 6 months ago. I packed up nearly 550 of those tomes sitting on my shelves and sold them to a used book store. It finally dawned on me that I had read many more books with the e-reader. Since I travel often, I could bring a number of books with me all in the same little electronic gadget. It is a great space-saver especially in these days of checked bag fees from hell.

    E-readers aren’t for everyone, but as a staunch hold-out for so many years, I get it now. Cheers!

    • CanuckKaren says:

      I love the comfort of a book… the feel, the warmth, the smell, and I don’t think I will ever give it up. That being said, I have an e-reader that I use for travel. How else can I toss 150 books in my purse? So I love it for that and understand the convenience. But curl up with a cup of cocoa, a warm blanket, and an e-reader on a snowy day? Just not the same. 🙂

  3. Barbara McQuillan says:

    John–Chef Daniel–(in above photos) was our Chef for the Chef’s Table on the TA last fall o the Magic. He was wonderful–and needless to say–his menu fantastic! Thanks for a memorable experience!

  4. Chris says:

    Tell the mother that you don’t allow paint in the staterooms. However, you will be more than happy to provide a bucket of white paint and a brush in every port. She can help the crew who are always touching up the exterior.

  5. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:


    My heart breaks for that little girl.

    Unless her parents wise up, she is going to be ill prepared for the world, when she grows up.

    In our society today, that has far to many “absentee” parents that allow their children to run wild, it is equally sad to see someone go so far in the opposite direction.

    Linda (Mom of your friend DJ)

    • Julie says:

      Why? Because their daughter didn’t enjoy the Club? John himself said she seemed pleasant and talkative. My son wouldn’t go to the kid’s programs but he got up on stage and did an air guitar demonstration during a game. Different people like different things. (and we had our own books, games and coloring books.)

      • Dwayne says:

        I think it is because they could be ill experienced with social skills.

      • Linda (Mom of DJ) says:


        Did you not read John say “she does not mix well with others”?

        It has nothing to do with her not liking Club O2.

      • Mark Thomas says:

        My reaction to it was that the problem was with the mother much more so than the child. The Mom was using “my daughter doesn’t like it” as her crutch to control who her child associated with. May be wrong, but that’s how I read it.

  6. Sharon says:

    Awww John, I love you but I wouldn’t trade my Kindle for anything in the world. I would give up my laptop, cellphone, and tv for my Kindle. In fact we had already boarded the ship in September when I found my Kindle’s screen cracked. Hubby and I went to Guest Services and they told us we could get off and reboard, so we hopped in a taxi went to Target and purchased me a new one and then went back to the ship. Yep, I simply refused to spend 5 days without my Kindle!

  7. MARY H says:

    I agree about the books John. I prefer the old way too and love to collect book marks of places I have been.I usually take a pile of paperbacks with me and leave them behind in the library.
    Now about the Chef’s Table. I have done it twice on the Miracle and the Magic. I preferred the Miracle as I did not like eating in the galley on the Magic. It was far too noisy and thus lacked the fine dining experience. Also seeing all the servers rushing around collecting their trays was a big reminder of the difference between us and them. Not a good experience for me and I would never book for dinner in the galley again.
    I loved the menu both times but did prefer the Miracle menu with the Bass and Filet Mignon.

    • Rita presnell says:

      “the difference between us and them???? What a snobby thing to say! We are no better or worse than them and they are no better OR WORSE than us!,

      • Teddy says:

        Way to go Rita!!! Hope I don’t have someone like Mary H on my upcoming cruise!!

      • Elizabeth says:

        Maybe it was meant that we are much, much more fortunate. We are cruising with family/friends and they are working far from theirs.

  8. Rita presnell says:

    Tina, you are indeed a very rude person. First you chew someone out for not being where YOU think he should be and then you very sternly and rudely demand a favor from this person without so much of a please or thank you! I hope you have to eat in the bathroom!

  9. Dennis Carollo says:

    Hi John:
    Really enjoy the blogs and daily updates on facebook. I will be with a group of 5 others on the Magic leaving 3/25. Not sure if you know or care but on Saturday 3/31 is probably the second biggest sports day in the U.S. that being the NCAA final four basketball games. Will there be any special parties or large screen viewings going on. We were on the Sensation a couple years ago on Super Bowl Sunday and had a great time with the viewing in the showroom and stadium buffet.Just curious. Hope to see you in March.
    Dennis Carollo

  10. Jennifer says:

    My husband and I agree about the lido buffet deserts. We’ve done 6 Carnival cruises in the last 3 years and each crusie has had one or two really good deserts on the buffet (usually they appear only once per cruise sadly) and all the rest look great, but are never good. We get stuff that looks great, take one bite and see it too is gross, and then go hit up the soft serve machine which is always good. I’d rather have a small selection of ugly yummy deserts than 10 beautiful yucky ones. 🙂

  11. Josea says:

    Regarding formal night,

    Bottom line is ENFORCE THE DRESS CODE or eliminate it. I have been on many cruises and the dress code is never enforced on formal night. It is easier for the Maitre D to let them slide in, as long as no one says anything. That is not fair to those that follow the RULES and the dress codes. Eliminate the rules if they aren’t going to be enforced. It is that simple. There is no gray area.

  12. gharkness says:

    John, if it weren’t for those ebooks you hate so much, some of your customers wouldn’t be able to afford a cruise! It’s a great source of income for those of us who write, so let’s have a little appreciation, please! 🙂 Besides, I write about cruising, and my latest has some very flattering comments about Carnival in it.

  13. Karen says:

    Hi John,
    I really enjoy your blog and FB wall. I will be on the Carnival Glory May 15,2012. Will be on my honeymoon! Since my soon to be husband and I have had previous marriages we’re taking my parents with us. Been married 57 years! Boy they would get that Marriage Game going! I would love to suprise my husband to be with the Chef’s Table. I would greatly appreciate if you were to please,please guide me on how to make this happen. Thank you soooo much.

  14. Stephanie says:

    Ate at The Chef’s Table on the Valor last Sept and it was wonderful! I have a few food allegeries(peppers and chick peas) and the chef had special dishes prepared for me since I was unable to eat some of the ones on the menu.
    It is an experience not to be missed!

  15. Carol Hoefs says:

    Hi Calvyn & John,
    John, I loved your comments about The Chef’s Table. My husband and I have done it four times on four different ships of Carnival’s. Each time it has been such a marvelous experience and well worth the money you pay for it.
    You talked about the Chef fitting the menu for special needs. I am one of those people because I do not eat beef or pork. What the Chefs have done for me when they have had to substitute items have always been so wonderful. I also cannot eat cream cheese, so that is another item they work out for me.
    My husband and I talk to fellow passengers about The Chef’s Table and highly suggest it for the experience.
    The Chef’s Table is an experience that you will not soon forget.
    For future cruisers, if you have not experienced it, sign up for The Chef’s Table on your next cruise.
    A loyal Carnival passenger,
    Carol Hoefs

  16. Catherine Thomas says:

    I had the great pleasure of the Chef’s table on the Glory last year. I tell everyone about it. But on the Caribbean Princess this Jan. they wouldn’t let me do it. I am unable to have wheat, alcohol, seafood and kiwi. They wouldn’t make any exceptions for allergies. I am hoping that when my daughter and I go on the Dream in Oct. that I will again be able to do the Chef’s Table. The difference between the 2 ships was that the Glory Chef was excited and took it on as a challenge and gave me a meal to die for. The Princess Chef said he didn’t want to do anything different. What are the chances that the Dream’s Chef will let me do it?

  17. Marie says:

    John, I was a little taken aback when you responded to Kim Abbott that “Now, we have stopped doing the free cruise drawing two years ago and….” because on 10/25/2011(after our wonderful Dream cruise) an email from CCL states:

    “Please, take a moment to tell us about your cruise experience. This feedback aids in our efforts to create “vacations of a lifetime.” And oh yeah, just to show you how much we appreciate your feedback, your returned survey will automatically be entered in a drawing for a FREE* 7 day Carnival cruise.
    You have 10 days to provide your feedback and be entered in the drawing for a free Carnival cruise!”

    Can you clarify?

    • pete morris says:

      You used to get a free drawing of the ship..ie: a picture,drawn of the ship.. used to love them!!!
      unfortunately they dont do them any more

  18. Diane Shepherd says:

    John. Ebooks are great for cruises. You can bring all your books instead of trying to pick and choose which ones to pack. And hope you packed good ones.

  19. HeatherWilliams says:

    I have to say that Hubby and I agree about the desserts…it often tastes like they forgot to add the sugar! I thought it was just us…so it was good to read someone road bring it up!

    It is was that the homeschool mom couldn’t let her daughter let loose. We are homeschoolers and love cruising…my son has the best time in Camp Carnival and always makes friends. It is too bad that mom is taking that opportunity away from her daughter. Kids need to be loud and silly!

  20. HeatherWilliams says:

    Sorry for the typos….darn smart phone!

  21. Steve Worden says:

    Just one comment .. For those that complain about Kids on a Cruise … WE WERE ALL KIDS ONCE! End of comment!

    • Rita PResnell says:

      But, the difference is that when we were kids we were taught manners and how to behave in public. Most kids nowadays are not taught that. They are turned loose on a cruise ship and let run wild with absolutely no supervision. Those are the only kids I hate on a cruise!

    • Josea says:

      I somewhat agree with you. It is not really the kids fault. Kids will be kids if they aren’t given boundaries and disciplined. It is the fault of the ignorant parents that don’t control their kids. They should have never had kids, if they weren’t going to raise them with respect for others. Unfortunately the majority of kids are not well behaved because the parents never held them accountable. What is scary, these kids represent future America, if there is any future for this broke nation. Those same kids that don’t behave, have to pay the bills. Hope they can hold a job.

  22. Phil Grape says:

    You just had to mention chocolate melting cake didn’t you. I have to wait 17 more days before I can have it again. Its one of the things that keep me coming back to CCL. I love it!!!!!!!!!1

  23. Becky Durkin says:

    John, thanks for posting the Chef’s table pictures!!! We were on the Magic last month and enjoyed every minute of the dinner. Everything was wonderful and was so nice to be able to interact with the wonderful staff.

  24. SherryBee says:

    I felt the exact same way as you about e-readers, John, UNTIL. . . .I realized that I could take 500 books with me on a cruise and leave the extra suitcase at home! I read about 130 books a year, and my enjoyment is in no way lessened by my reading them on my Kindle. It only felt a little weird at first, and that feeling went away within a week. The finger swipe across the screen now has the same feeling for me as turning a page. Try it. . .you MIGHT like it!

  25. Jeanette says:

    John, I live in Canada where it is cold half of the year. I have a frozen lake a few minute walk away where I could ice skate if I wanted….which I don’t…..No, the ship doens’t need ice rinks and ice show….stuff em!!!!

    the Magic’s waterworks is awesome!!! I loved the drainpipe and the big slide….ya, it can feel a little claustraphobic for a few seconds, but once ya get going…WEEEEEEEE!!!

  26. Brenda Booth says:

    As much as I hate to say anything negative about Carnival, I must agree the desserts look great but definetly are lacking in taste. They dont taste sweet or really have any flavor at all. Although the theres no such thing as a bad one in the MDR.

  27. Julie says:

    Camp Carnival–my very social and outgoing ten year old boy wouldn’t go after the first night because he also said it was too loud and crazy. Oddly, his brother who really dislikes loud places enjoyed CC a lot. And yes, we were quite sad that he wouldn’t go.

    • mike ceglio says:

      We were on the Carnival Legend in October and agree with many of the replies that the desserts at the Lido buffett were not good at all. Amazing that so many of the cakes could look beautiful and yummy on the outside but tasted like a wet rag on the inside. Never found this to be true in the MDR. With so many having the same thoughts it really should be looked into.

    • Gail C says:

      Agree about Lido Deck deserts. Other than last day with Chocolate Buffet, there is nothing that is yummy tasting. Anything chocolate has something on or in it that ruins it. I wish you would bring back chocolate melting cake back to the buffet at dinner.

  28. Eric Bunch says:

    John ,
    Raising kids is just plain hard !! And I will never compare my ability to raise my kids to one of the movie star status !Because My kids will never own a corvette or a BMW without buying it there self with hard work or a lottery win fall. Please understand I am not saying they cant do a great job but lets find the ground . My kids have to work really hard helping there old dad raise organic market tomatoes just to go on vaction . Not because Im a bad Dad Just a grounded one that realizes that kids need more than IPODS and video games And I really want my children to understand the value of a dollar!(Not that the Ipod is not cool Ive got one )!

  29. Manuel says:

    Hi John, Just want to comment on the deserts on the Lido deck. I have been on several Carnival cruises most recently on the Dream. I have to agree that while the deserts are a delight to the eyes,they are a severe disapointment to the tastebuds. The taste is non existant. That is the only negative I have. The Carnival cruises is the best value on the market. The crew is always polite, friendly and extremy helpful. I have never encountered a crew member who was not willing to “go the extra mile” to help a guest or brighten someone’s day. I am really looking forward to my next cruise on the Dream in July as my daughter is getting married onboard. We hope to book The Chefs Table at least one of the nights.

  30. Martha says:

    John – I agree with Jim and Carla’s comment. We found the same thing on Splendor in September.

    We truly enjoyed the Chef’s Table and plan to do it again on our next cruise.

    Love my ebook. Took some time to get use to, but the first time I brought it on a flight and did not have to lug a big old hardback I got over it. :0)

    And to Tina – Please can you and thank you so much. Two phrases you should learn to use.

    Have a great day all!

  31. Henrietta Lala (Granny Lala) says:

    Desserts got prettier and prettier and more and more tasteless. However, there is one particular chocolate cake that is served the first day and then regulated to room service that I love, so I order it each day from room service. The cheesecakes taste like they are all made with gelatin instead of good solid creamcheese which is a shame since that is one of the easiest things in the world to make-

  32. Josette says:

    Anna Petroni!

    What a grand and humourous (spelt correctly) reply John gave you. Your nerve is exceeded only by your stupidity. What a poor excuse you used to insult him?

    Nobody, especially not the Brand Ambassador for CCL, is trying to do away with formal nights. You see you pompous “Carnival VIP”, was it really necessary to accompany your insulting/demeaning uncalled for remark by mentioning your status on Carnival?… As a VIP, don’t you know that the great thing with CCL is that you don’t have to dress up if you don’t want to.

    I am really fed up with those who insult John.


    It’s your choice to get on Facebook but don’t complain because John is active. With over 80 million members, he should spend some time there…get with the times or quit complaining!

  33. Larry Meador says:

    I agree with your praise of Camp Carnival. My oldest kids (now 23 & 25) started out there many years ago. My youngest son (12) has been going since he was 2 and he has loved every day of it. It really gives the kids an opportunity to enjoy “their” vacation in a setting that is more appropriate to them. One thing we always have done though, is make the decision to go to Camp Carnival “theirs” to make. My youngest will look at the activity planners for his age group and then pick and choose the times he wants to go.

    John, it’s great to see the blog back in full swing. I like facebook but I really love the blog. Keep it up!

    Your friend from Texas,

    Larry Meador

  34. Sue D. says:

    Hi John,
    Love this site and the FB page but I must agree with the others about the desserts; they are beautiful but definetly lacking taste.
    Also, I have a Kindle and LOVE it!!

  35. Carole says:

    John, it seems that they have downgraded so much on the Chefs’ Table. Why would people want to pay 150.00 per couple for chicken and salmon when you can get it in the MDR for free? I’m just not feeling this new menu, where I adored the last one and would eat the CT every time if the menu stayed the same.
    Why downgrade this experience for people??
    Thanks, Carole

  36. Anne Seitz says:

    We just returned from another amazing cruise on the Carnival Miracle.
    It was my husband’s birthday the first day of the cruise ( Feb. 14th ) and our friends had asked if you could do something special for him. I was hoping for a ship on a stick. Imagine how delighted I was when Malcolm as you requested had a ship on a stick, a bottle of bubbly and chocolate covered strawberries delovered to our room. You are the greatest John. I don’t know how you keep up with it all.
    We will be joining you on the Breeze for her first ever trip. We are looking forward to seeing you.
    As the trip is a celebration of our friends’ Carl & Sylvia’s 50th wedding anniversary I will contact you closer to that time to see if we can have something special done for them.
    Ourdining room staff , Liza and Gerard were amongst the best we have ever had. They should be commended for their outstanding work.
    See you in June.
    Anne Seitz

  37. Amanda Joy says:

    You should give the Kindle Fire a chance! I read A LOT, 4-5 books a week and twice that if I’m on vacation, it’s much easier to just bring my Fire than carry 18-10 big heavy books around. Plus we have Peppa Pig and Thomas the Train on it for my kids to watch and it holds enough Latvian videos to keep DH set for a year!

  38. Luis R says:

    To Simon Ruse,

    The day all cruise lines start being copycats in their attractions it will surely become boring as hell. If I want to do the ice skating or ice shows then I would choose Royal Caribbean just like you did. If I want the water slides I would choose Carnival. If I want to be free from schedules and have more dining options then I would choose Norwegian Cruise Line. Each line has its own attractions and cater to different people. Why would Carnival add an ice rink just because RCI has them? Why would RCI scrap the climbing walls just because Carnival has water parks?

  39. David Bertzfield says:

    I find it hard to believe that so many folks complain about the darnest things. My wife & I have been on quite a few cruises with carnival & are there to enjoy ourselves. We have had the desserts & didn’t find them distasteful. Looking forward to our B2B on the Miracle Mar.17 until Apr. 2 to celebrate my 75th birthday. Also checking into a future fall cruise. All the crew members have always treated us great & maybe it is because we treat them with respect. They sure work hard day in & day out.

  40. Jessica says:

    For the record – I think a drunken penguin would be endlessly entertaining : )

    You’re awesome, John! We can’t wait until our next cruise, and your blog is a welcomed treat daily as we count down the minutes until we’re on vacation!

  41. Alice Harlow says:

    John we had the second Chef table menu on the Magic in Europe and it was simply delicious. ( I even ate things I probably wouldn’t have) Thanks for sharing the picture. It brought back some fun memories..We are hoping to do the Chef Table again when The Legend is in the Baltic.(hope you are there with us again in 2013.

  42. Susan M / Please reply says:


    I have to agree about the deserts on the lido deck. They are great to look at – but not on taste.

    And I just got me a nook. Like others have said it is so much easier to take many books on the e-reader. I still read actual books at home. I do love being able to turn the page.

    Thanks for all you do (even if there are a few ungrateful people who never say thanks). There are many of us who appreciate you very much.

  43. Jes says:

    Loved the Chefs Table, really enjoy the entire meal, loved the personalized menues and the photos we’re given at the end of the meal.

    I would loved to have gone down the slide, but ran out of time on the cruise. I would have never thought of using a skating rink.

  44. Nancy Letchford says:

    Hi John..as usual, loved the Blog. regarding the ice rink, I can understand the draw for some, but as a Canadian, the last thing I want to do is skate on my vacation. We have local rinks, ovals…lakes, ponds, and after the weather coming tonight, my driveway will be a rink in the AM. Love love love the waterworks. In fact my kids saw the green monster video and screamed that they pray one is on the Breeze. We could all use a good water wedgie..lol. Thanks for all you do. See you in July…and as long as the weather is above freezing, we will be the ones in the pool…lol

    • Melanie says:

      We did a RC cruise last year and the ice rink was cool, but they only do 2 shows and you have to wake up really early one specific morning and stand in line in hopes of getting a ticket. I’ll take the water slides! We’ll be enjoying them on the Magic March 4th!!!!!

  45. Hello John,

    I LOVE Carnival Cruise Lines! I’ve been on 11 cruises and I’m so anxious to book my next cruise!

    I understand you are serving as Cruise Director on the Carnival Magic now. I’m giving you a warning! You better be prepared for what’s coming up on your very next sailing. You will be joined Sunday, Febuary 26th with a bunch of Cajun’s from Lafayette, Louisiana. Let me tell ya’, these folks are crazy and the Magic will never be the same! You guys have fun and please don’t throw any one overboard. Oh, you guys might want to bring on extra liquor!!

    Be safe!! Wish I were going!!

  46. colin thomson says:

    I am booked on the BREEZE JAN.5/13.I called CARNIVAL last evening to book the captain”s table.I was told that this is no longer available.Is this true? If so, I am very disappointed.BUT it is not a deal breaker.I have always enjoyed my previous 5 cruises.I am looking forward to another visit to my carnival family.Are you going to be the CD on the BREEZE in JAN.

  47. Cheryl C. says:

    Hello Mr. Heald. I completely agree with you regarding e-books. I am an IT Director and have access to all the latest technology and gadgets. However, I am also an avid reader, and find there is no substitute for getting a new book, opening it to page 1, and turning page by fresh page to make it to the end. I won’t give up on my books, even if it’s not cool. I think it’s cool that I can read on the plane when e-readers must be turned OFF.

  48. ali says:

    John when I got back from my cruise I received one of those comments email. Once completed, the email said I was entered into the win a free cruise raffle so I think they are still going on? (I just got back a month and a half ago)

  49. John And Mary Jo Marshall says:

    John please help me get a table for two we sail the breeze aug 26 2012 room 2309 thanks

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