July 25, 2014 -
The title of a blog I wrote last week was “Smoking…..the last word.” Obviously, that title meant nothing because here I am, sitting in my underpants, talking to you about it again. I realise that along with politics, religion, reasons to dislike the French, and if I would look good covered in whipped cream and chocolate, that smoking is a subject that stirs the soul and divides opinions. But I have an inbox with over 200 comments alone on the subject of smoking. I will as you will see in today’s Q and A, be accused of “covering up the issue” and “sweeping it under the carpet” which, of course, is not true because, embarrassingly, I have not swept anything anywhere well….. ever. I also realise that I am in a no-win situation if I continue to discuss this here or on my Facebook page but after the new rules were announced and then another line (the one with graffiti over their bows) announced the same, I am afraid I have bugger all choice. But before I do, let’s go back in time.
A decade ago, smoking in offices was still common. You could light up on a bus or a plane and enjoy a cigarette in our dining rooms on board. In fact, you could smoke pretty much anywhere you wanted. These smokers’ pleasures have all but disappeared and smoking is banned just about anywhere in public. Next, I think anyone caught smoking will be waterboarded and locked in a small room and forced to listen to non-stop Celine Dion songs. Now, regular readers of the blog will know that I despair how far things have gone in certain aspects of society, which wants to ban smoking and force everyone to wear a high-visibility jacket 24 hours a day………just to be safe. Now, I smoke cigars and yet I understand that people ……many people…….hate the smell of them and cigarettes and they hate even more sitting on their balconies and having a cloud of my Monte Cristo smoke waft over them. I understand why people hate that — it’s the same way I would hate to sit on my balcony next to a group of guests who haven’t taken a shower all cruise………..which is why I never go to Paris. But seriously, you can’t smoke anywhere these days. There is a blanket ban and, in the years ahead, who knows how far smoking bans will go. We still allow smoking on board, including the casino. Yes, the casino is mostly nonsmoking, yet, rather than tell smokers to bugger off completely as in Las Vegas, we have a smokers section which covers all the major gaming and slots. However, the remainder of the casino is smoke free allowing, once again, for choice.
But that’s not enough and let me explain why. You see, it’s the non-gambling smokers who are using the casino as their personal smoking room and chasing out the non-smoking gamblers. This is hopefully a good compromise for the casino’s customers. Gaming smokers will have their tables and slots and hopefully nonsmokers will have a bearable environment. What we need to do is make sure that non-gambling smokers have a better place to smoke…….does that make sense? So, how do we do that? As I mentioned previously, I think we really must look for ways to make smokers’ areas inviting for smokers. Let’s face it, with the exception of the superb Lanai area on the Dream-class, which is perfect for smokers, the other smoking areas are adequate at best. We are looking into upgrading our smoking areas, so please be wee bit patient and I will share the results as soon as I am able.
Oh, yes……..last night, I had a cigar on my balcony and enjoyed the Alaskan night air and reflected on how much I will miss it. I like the way cigars blurs the edges. I may eat my words when I’m pushing my lungs around in a wheelbarrow, but temporary relief from anxiety and the stress of my job can surely sometimes be healthy ………can’t it? Thanks for all your opinions on this subject. It has made for some fascinating reading and let’s see if there are any more as we head into today’s Q and A.
David Bailey asks:
John: Is Carnival no longer cruising to Europe? Any chance for a future cruise? I so, want my 5th Carnival Cruise to be to Europe. If not, which cruise line would you recommend?
Hello David Bailey
I miss Europe very much and, at the moment, because of high air fares to Europe from North America, we do not have any ships there in 2015. We are all hoping that we return some day as our guests and crew really love sailing European waters. Meanwhile, I have cruised on Princess Cruises in Europe and they have great ships and wonderful itineraries. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.
Lee Nason asks:
I have an important question. Do you use the same humor that you write on this blog as a cruise director in shows? It is uncensored and quite cutting and, as a Christian, I find a lot of what you say to be extremely offensive. My concern comes from the fact that we are on your boat, the Carnival Miracle, for our cruise to Hawaii, so if you answer in the affirmative, then my wife and I shall give serious consideration to not attending your performances. I am sure that other practicing Christians have similar concerns about you, so I think this is a question the masses need answering.
Hello Lee Nason
Thank you so much for writing; I am really glad you did. The good news is that I will not be the CD for that voyage, it will be Troy Linton who is a marvelous cruise director but definitely not as, ummm, “cheeky” as I am. I think it is important though that I mention that I do try to adapt to each situation I find myself in on stage and, at times, and depending on that situation, this blog is an extension of my onstage personality. But at all times, I am aware that we have a family audience so my experience tells me, most of the time, when I should or should not say what comes into my head. I do apologise for anything that I have said that may have offended you and, most importantly, I wish you a brilliant cruise to Hawaii.
Devin Westhause asks:
Hi John: Not a question, but just a quick word to comment on yet another wonderful Carnival experience. I type from my deck 9 balcony on the Carnival Breeze, surfing for another cruise this December. My wife and I have spent the last few days talking to the many repeat cruisers we’ve encountered this trip, and a common theme has emerged. Carnival is an amazing value for the dollar, and there are some things that just make the trips great. First, the service. Everyone claims to care about service, and many do it well, but Carnival excels in this area. Each and every employee we encounter is friendly and seems to care tremendously about us as guests and about their company. The pride that they take in their work is very nice to see. Second, is the food. I don’t walk past many opportunities to eat, and, on this trip, I’ve been blown away by the included opportunities and several of the a la carte options. Please pass on kudos to the entire dining department just how good their food is. Like many people, we have lots of options on where to go and what to do with our precious vacation time. We keep coming back to Carnival because it’s a great value and a guaranteed great experience. Thanks for all the work the entire company puts into delivering such a good product.
Hello Devin Westhause
Well, I have to say that this was an absolute joy to read and I thank you sincerely for taking the time to write from your beautiful balcony on the Carnival Breeze. We do strive to give the most affordable cruise possible and, once on board, to complement that with the best of service and the most fun. It seems that we are managing to do both. I have sent this to the senior beards and I know they will be as thrilled as I am. I do hope we see you again very soon and if there is anything I can do for you, please do let me know. Best wishes.
Kim Dean asks:
John: I just wanted to tell you that I love reading your blog and your comments on Facebook. My best friend and I are booking a cruise October 4 on the Carnival Fantasy (our second time on this ship). This cruise will be a bit bittersweet as we have always cruised in the past with our spouses. We will be cruising without them this time as I am now divorced and she is a widow. We both love Carnival and can’t wait to cruise! Thank you and Carnival for all the wonderful memories of the past and the ones to come!
Hello Kim Dean
I am so sorry to read of the passing of your best friend’s husband and of your troubles as well. I do hope that your cruise will rejuvenate you both and that you will have some wonderful times together. Please send me your cabin number the day before you sail to my facebook.com/johnheald page so I can see what I can do to make you smile. Best wishes to you both.
Mark Montgomery asks:
I see the non-smoking Nazis have won. You caved in big time, Heald? There are hundreds of your customers on our Carnival smokers Facebook page all saying that we will boycott Carnival and go to other cruise lines and all-inclusive resorts. You will see just how powerful a lobby we can be. You should be ashamed. Carnival and you should be ashamed, Heald, because you say you smoke. You only publish the letters from the anti-smoking Nazis but won’t have the guts to publish this I bet!!!
Hello mark Montgomery
I, too, am disappointed and, obviously, I am caught between a rock and a hard place here. I will miss being able to smoke a cigar on my balcony but I also totally understand that the well-being of other guests, the majority of whom do not smoke, is important. My job now is to get the smoking areas we do have, improved and made more comfortable and, hopefully, this will get you back home with Carnival. I certainly hope so. Best wishes.
Austin Hawkins asks:
HEY! What about the people who still smoke, what are we supposed to do? You guys realize, don’t you, that there will be hundreds of smokers in the casino now? Those of us that had our morning cigarette and coffee will now be all at the casino and then watch the complaints roll in Jabba. ROTHLMFAO
Hello Austin Hawkins
I understand how passionate you are about this and, while respectfully saying “hundreds of smokers” is a large exaggeration, there is no doubt that we will be looking at increasing the ventilation in our indoor smoking areas. This, along with our commitment to making the outdoor smoking areas we already have more comfortable, should elevate any of the concerns you raised. After all, the reason you enjoyed smoking on the balcony was, I think, because of the sea air and sunshine, both of which you will enjoy while smoking in our outdoor areas. Best wishes.
Andy Parrish asks:
Hi John, I wanted to sincerely thank you for the care package you sent to us on the Carnival Elation last week. It was much appreciated! I also wanted to write down my thoughts about the Carnival Elation, as recently, I have read some unpleasant reviews of this ship and its crew. Firstly, I do realize that she is one of the older ships in Carnival’s fleet and, therefore, the decor is slightly dated compared to newer ones, and she shows a little more wear. That being said, nothing I saw while on board that would indicate that this ship is not receiving the best care and attention from her crew. There was always someone cleaning. The entire staff was friendly and courteous from Robin, the CD, all the way down to Phakchira (Pat), our room steward. The comedians were on point and the shows were great. Bartenders Liliana (Drama Bar) and Rowena (Gatsby’s Great) were personable and attentive. The person who made the most impression on us during the cruise was our head waiter, Rodney. He was constantly full of laughter and made sure our every need was seen to. We ate dinner in the dining room every single night and not once were we disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed yet another Carnival cruise and even berthed two more cruisers in the process this time. I look forward to making Platinum status so I can bitch and moan about the lack of free perks like so many others before me…ha! Keep writing, my friend!
Hello Andy Parish
Thank you sir for this wonderful review and one I know that every single person you mentioned on the ship will be thrilled with. It is great to see that so many of the ship’s company exceeded your cruise expectations and I do hope this means we will see you again very soon. I hope also that you make Platinum soon and if you need anything, please let me know. Best wishes.
Paul Renaud asks:
My partner and I will be on the Carnival Victory for the cruise that starts on 8/14… I am going to ask him to marry me on the cruise. I want to do this in public during a show. We saw this done on our last cruise on a Royal cruise. Can you get this done and hope your passengers can handle a gay proposal and if they are offended- tough cookies LOL. I am not sure if this is the best way to get this done and I am anxiously awaiting your reply.
Hello Paul Renaud
Thank you for getting in touch with me here so I can help you. I will pass this to the cruise director whose name is Marcelo so he can have a look at what is possible. If there is a chance of a stage proposal, I am sure he will arrange this and, regardless, he will be in touch when you cruise next month. Please leave this with me and I wish you both the very best and hope you have many wonderful years together. Best wishes.
Loretta Jollymore asks:
John, I am very excited about my dream cruise to Hawaii on Jan 17, 2015. We are trying to plan excursions but there are none listed yet. We are getting a little concerned about the possibility of another itinerary change. Can you let me know what the scoop is? Thank you and I really enjoy your blog.
Hello Loretta Jollymore
Please do not be concerned, all is in hand. The shore excursion team are putting the tours together and we will have them all posted no later than the end of September for you. Please let me know if you have any questions and I wish you a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.
Kristen Peterson asks:
Dear John: My family and I just got off of the Carnival Freedom on Sunday. We loved every minute of it! I was nervous because many comments on my Facebook page were negative and we did an eight-day pack and go. We had to get 2 rooms because our daughter’s bf came and we were on two different levels but it was fine We are gold level and working our way to platinum. We usually go on the smaller ships, so this was also a concern. We do like the smaller ones better– just a personal preference– but we enjoyed this one also. We had misplaced an iphone with important and confidential emails. We went to guest services, no one had turned it in so they filled out a report and immediately contacted NCL which was the other ship in port with us. By the grace of God, a passenger had found it on the ground in the cruise area in port and had guest services contact us immediately to verify it was his J My daughter’s boyfriend had wanted to win a ship on a stick so bad that we went to every contest/trivia that was offered, by the seventh day no ship but my husband and son heard about the ship building contest and ran and built one and won! (Of course, they were the only ones that entered.) Skip Lyons and Ashley were so gracious, they gave us two ships, a medal, a bottle of champagne, and a wonderful thank you letter :):) For the first time in 21 years, my husband and I will be leaving on the Carnival Fascination in November with no children, NEVER have I ever left them. I would plan and then cancel. Our daughter will be 20 and our son is 15, I am very nervous. This is our honeymoon as after we were married my husband had to finish a few courses to get his degree. I want to surprise him with a behind the scenes tour but want to make sure I understand it. He was in line to be a harbor pilot/captain in NYC but lawsuits changed it and he had to find another career. His grandfather and uncle were both captains and expected him to be one, so I wanted to know if this tour will take us on the bridge? Thank you for all you do!
Hello Kristen Peterson
What a wonderful post and bravo to the person who handed your phone and bravo to both sets of ships’ guest services people for arranging to get it back for you. It seems like you all had a brilliant time and that is wonderful to know. I am sure this next cruise will be very special, being just the two of you and if you would like me to try and arrange a table for two, please do contact me four days before on my facebook.com/john heald page. Yes, the Behind the Fun Tour does go to the bridge and you will meet with the captain, so I think your husband will really enjoy that. Thanks again, then, for writing to me and if you need anything else, I will be here. Best wishes.
Tom Fauland asks:
HI JOHN, my wife and I and my best friend & his wife will be sailing December 7 on the Carnival Dream. This will be our fourth cruise together. Back in January, my mom passed and in June, my best friend lost his mom too. The plan is to have a nice little toast to our mom’s on the Dream with maybe an ice cold drink. I enjoy reading your blog. Thanks. Ttom
Hello Tom Fauland
I send my sympathies to you at the loss of your Mum. Please send me this message again to my facebook.com/johnheald page the day before the cruise and include your cabin number.
I wish you all a great time. Best wishes.
Michael Kaiser asks:
My son has been out of work for eight months. He finally got a job after months of hard work and lots of rejection. We had booked for him to cruise with me and my wife and our daughter but now that he has a job, he cannot go. I called Carnival to get a refund and was told it was past the date for this and there was nothing to do. Carnival has no heart. This 19 year old has been in a terrible state since losing his job and now that he has one, Carnival will not help. This will not be a cruise now we will enjoy.
Hello Michael Kaiser.
Firstly, many congratulations to your son on getting this job. I am sure he will do very well and be happy once again. I will make no promises but please do let me speak to a few people about this and see if anything can be done. I wonder also if your son has actually asked his new employer to see if they can give him the time off. Anyway, leave this with me and, regardless, I do hope you all have a great time. Best wishes.
That’s all for today. Thanks everyone for your contributions.
I just made an announcement from my cabin and was thinking how simple the PA system is here compared to the ones I had on our newest ships, Carnival Breeze and Carnival Magic. Here on the Carnival Miracle, the PA system looks like this.
Now have a look at the one on the Breeze:
Yep, the PA system there is so much more complicated than the one I have here. The one on the Carnival Breeze has more buttons than there are on the bridge, including one ominous red button that has a label on it that shouts STOP MSG EMERGENCY and I still have bugger all idea what that means.
I often think how pleasant it must have been to live in the Stone Age….…in a cave……….in your underpants ……waiting for your wife to cook you a Megasorearse steak over an open fire..…ahhh…..those were the days.
The smoking topic was, for the most part, discussed calmly and rationally and, even when passionate responses were called for, most of the many hundreds who wrote, did so without getting personal or using abuse. But there are a few exceptions as this subject brought out a few who spend their days and nights going online to insult a bunch of people they’ve never met. Most of the time, I ignore these comments but, occasionally, I get upset. There was one just yesterday that I will not honour by posting it but who suggested for the second time that I was “the worst kind of father” and that I should “put my daughter up for adoption because she will have a better life.”
God, I was fuming when I read what this Randy chap had written. Honestly, I had clear and present thoughts about doing something to his dangly bits with a pair of bolt cutters. But, of course, I couldn’t because, firstly, I don’t own a pair of bolt cutters and, secondly, because Randy is, of course, not using his last name and a first name that is most likely false, make him, basically…….anonymous. He could live in New York or New Hampshire, New Brunswick or New Mexico, who knows. But because of this being the second comment he has written about my daughter (the first in the Q and A section of the blog last week or so) I have asked the techy beards to block him/her/it using the IP address to recognise his/her/its computer. I have no idea if that works or not, we shall see.
So Randy, mate, if you are reading this, please don’t bother posting anymore because even if your post gets through the anti-Randy fire wall, I shall ignore you completely because your comments are as pointless as a snooze button on a fire alarm. I wonder, though, Randy, would you come up to me in person and say, “Your daughter should be put up for adoption?” No, of course, you wouldn’t. And yet you see nothing at all wrong with doing so on the my blog and on my Facebook page where I know you lurk as well. If I say something that offends someone on stage or here on the blog or on Facebook, you know where I am. You can find me. You can demand an apology and you will get one or you can write to Gerry Cahill and demand I be fired. But the person who writes outrageous and absolutely disgusting things about my family and posts them on a public page…………well, that is sad and there is nothing I can do about it.
But there should be, I really do think there should be. When people write stuff that is so cruel or so hateful, then I should be able to get their details from Uncle Google.
Obviously, that is never going to happen, is it? But why is it fair that Randy No-mates can say what he/she/it dislikes about me knowing that he/she/it will get away with it. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be famous and have thousands of people Twitter how much they hate you. I know someone who has a huge following on Twitter and is very much in the public eye and very much a household name. He gets constant hate posts. Why? Because that person is rich and has worked hard to get where they are, yet social media has opened a whole new door for jealous bastards to pour their jealousy on them.
Look, I’m not suggesting for a moment that people with multiple screen names, like Lucinda Lace has, should not be allowed to tell me the new smoking ban sucks or that Carnival is the worst cruise line in the world and they would rather cruise on a bit of driftwood down the Amazon with their gentleman’s sausage dangling in the water waiting for a school of piranha to swim by. Go ahead, that’s free speech.
I don’t care if someone makes fun of my use of the word “brilliant” or that I am an idiot. Who am I to say that person doesn’t have the right to post that in his opinion? But the interweb should have a worldwide rule that people have to use their real names and we should ban web anonymity. That way, I can visit the person who said the most repulsive things about my daughter and use a ship on a stick and a fruit basket as a suppository.
And to the rest of the many thousands of people who each week read this blog and my Facebook page, I remind you to please keep your opinions and comments coming. We may not always agree but I am here always to listen.