May 26, 2015 -
Yes, the blog is back.
After ignoring it for far too long, I have decided to put more time and effort into this and so I hereby pledge to you with my right hand on a photo of Megan Fox’s bottom, I shall sit here in my underpants and write as often as I can.
In my defence, the blog received the 20 million page views it has had because it documented my life as a cruise director and because I answered the questions posted there. So I hope that, as I do breathe new life into this page, you will continue to read and comment and although Facebook remains the main course, that a twice-weekly blog appetiser will be to your liking. OK, let’s crack on and talk about…………ummmm…………..me.
Since I last wrote, a lot has changed. I have lost more weight and really have tried to improve my lifespan and live longer by dropping the pounds. I remember waking up one morning last year, aged 49 years old and well aware that, unless I took some serious steps soon, I would be in serious trouble and not be around to tell Kye’s first boyfriend to bugger off or I would cut off his dangly bits with a Swiss Army knife.
It really was awful. I got out of breath pulling on my socks, my knees ached after scaling the four steps from the lounge up on to the stage on the Carnival Breeze, and my stomach was so enormous it looked like I had swallowed a one of those kids’ hopper things.
The cause of this was 29 years on ships. Yep, I blame Carnival and I should consider suing Carnival for allowing cruise directors to have room service. Yep, that was the problem. I would do shows, wander the decks and then shove a huge pile of BLTs with cheese down my enormous gob and then go to bed. There was no exercise, no rumpy pumpy to burn off calories and repeating this over the years, really put the pounds on me……..I was in serious trouble ……… I knew that for sure.
The solution was obvious but impossible for someone with the determination and drive of a vegetablist that has been invited to eat her tofu and kale wrap in a slaughter house. I had tried the gym in the past and it was hopeless. I had tried running on the Deck 11 jogging track but only just made it round one time before collapsing in front of the guests. I just have no sodding will power.
And my pain barrier is so low, only a maggot could get under it. If I were to be captured by some Cruise Critic board readers, I would give up the remaining dancing of the ships information and all of Carnival’s secrets even at the mere mention of the words “nipple clamps.” To me, the notion of doing exercise for the purpose of getting fit was completely bollocks. Running, when I had nowhere to go, and riding a bike to sodding nowhere seemed ridiculous. But I swallowed my pride, endured the looks of the spandex-wearing, muscle-bound guests on the ships who giggled and took photos and video of the fat grey haired man puffing and wheezing on his bike and kept calm and carried on.
Seventy pounds lighter I feel better and my diabetic levels are normal. I am not telling you all of this because I am trying in any way to say “you should do the same.” Oh no, I remember the hell of being chased and harassed by sandal-wearing Herbal Lifers all wanting to sell me their teas which through explosive diarrhea, would lose me 30 pounds. No, this is my diet story and I am sharing it with you because it has been part 1 in the change of my life and part 2 is coming up after today’s questions and answers. Here we go and we start with someone who is also concerned about my health.
Louise Chantell asks:
You are a smoker so you promote smoking on the Carnival ship which is fundamentally scandalous. I’m surprised that nobody has yet advised you to give up smoking. You may not want to, but you can guess that dying of lung cancer is not an attractive option. Stopping smoking is the one most useful thing you could possibly do. Get a life, John. Stop smoking those smelly disgusting cigars. The rest of us are not impressed.
Hello Louise Chantell
You are right. I should give up and maybe one day soon I will but not yet. I have given up bread, pasta, fries, chips, soda, anything with any carbs, chocolate or anything sweet and rumpy pumpy, too. So the only treat I have is my daily cigar. I can’t defend the fact that they are not good for me, I know that but the time is not right for me to stop. I thank you so much for thinking of me, that is very kind. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.
Hello, I am cruising on the Carnival Valor December 26, 2015, on a New Year’s cruise from Port Canaveral. Who will be the cruise director? Thanks!
Your cruise director for this fabulous cruise has yet to be decided. A new version of the CD schedule has just been posted here on the blog and a newer one will be coming soon which will have your CD listed then, so please look out for that. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.
Kelly Varner Clark asks:
John, I cruise often (Platinum) and I have noticed on my last four cruises I have swelling very bad! I drink water all day and if I have a cocktail, I drink water after. My last cruise I took fluid pills 40 mg. Took them every day but still had swelling but not as bad. I NEVER had this before. I have seen online that a lot of people are having this problem as well. So what in the world are they putting in our food? I love cruising but when I go in September, I will eat salad only and see if this helps. This cannot be healthy for people with blood pressure problems. Please get down to the bottom of this. It is not just me, thousands of people have commented on this. Thank you.
Hello Kelly Varner Clark
I am so sorry you have had this concern and I assure you we are not adding anything in our food that would cause this. I am sure if you visit your medical professional, he or she will be able to help you discover what is causing this obviously very uncomfortable condition. I have not seen any other comment about this but I will be here if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.
Abriana Perrin asks:
PLATINUM CRUISER writing. Me and my family need a table for four because last time we were put with a family from Venezuela who spoke no English. This spoiled every meal time and made it so awkward for me and my wife. This time, bringing my brother and his wife so we must have a table for four people. Our cabins are E72 and E86. Booking numbers ****** ****** Carnival Ecstasy 6/26/15
Hello Abriana Perrin
Thank you for writing and I have written now to the maître ‘d on the Carnival Ecstasy who I am sure will do all he can for you. I wish you the very best of times and lots of fun. Best wishes.
How can I find out the new Internet package schedule? Right now, I’m mainly interested in the Carnival Valor, being my next trip is on that ship. Please and thank you.
The new $25 a week social media package is expected to be placed on the Carnival Valor in September. More news on this in the weeks ahead and I wish you a brilliant time. Best wishes.
Donna Huffman asks:
Has Carnival ever considered having a scale available to weigh luggage for flights? I am always stressed out about going over luggage weight limit. So far this year, we’ve been on Carnival Breeze, going on Carnival Legend next month and Carnival Splendor in September.
Hello Donna Huffman
We have scales in the gym which I have actually seen people drag their suitcases to so that they can be weighed. But that aside, and with the movement of the ship it is not something we can offer. However, from someone who flies as much as I do, I totally understand why you want this. Please let me know if I can help further. Best wishes and have a brilliant time on board.
Neil Goodman asks:
On our Carnival Magic cruise, my wife was diagnosed with _________ and had to be medically air evacuated by a United States Coast Guard rescue helicopter. The medical staff was amazing and so kind and, after nine days in the hospital in Houston, she was allowed to come home. I have one comment that has been resting uneasily with me. Why does Carnival not stop passengers from crowding on the decks to get photos of my wife who was seriously ill being hitched to a bed and pulled into a helicopter? The flashes were everywhere. At the time, I did not have a moment to stop and think but, now that I do, I am so angry that the passengers were allowed there to do this and angry at Carnival for not stopping them. This was my wife and I know that if it had been their families, these people would not have wanted the whole frigging thing recorded and photographed. What is your policy on this?
Hello Neil Goodman
Let me start by saying that I hope this reply finds your wife having made a full recovery and that she is doing well after what must have been a very challenging and emotional time. I also understand totally what you have said here because, if it were a member of my family in that situation, I would not have wanted it filmed and photographed by hundreds of people, as well. But while we do ask that guests not take any flash photos for the safety of the helicopter pilots, stopping the guests from being anywhere on the open decks and requiring that they do not take photos would be very difficult indeed. Obviously, we do not allow them close to the rescue center on Deck 10 aft but the guests often want to see the site of a helicopter hovering over the ship. I honestly do not know what the answer is here but I do know that I appreciate your kind words for the medical staff on the ship and I will send this to them. I hope we see you both soon under happier circumstances and I remain here at your service. Best wishes to you both.
Edward Ludford asks:
My wife and I are “lots rusty” in our ballroom dancing. Do you offer lessons on your three- to four-day trips to Mexico from Long Beach? Actually, if you do, we would spend four- to five hours a day in practice and “lessons.” Thank you.
Hello Edward Ludford
I am afraid we don’t offer dance classes but, as the saying goes, I think, “Dance like nobody else is watching” and have a brilliant time. Best wishes.
Henry Cabrini asks:
Your cabin lights are too bright. Hurts the eyes, so put dimmer switches in there like Seven Seas Navigator has. They get hot and put the room temperature up too. Seven Seas Navigator also had better stocked mini-bars and beef wellington and caviar on the menu. Carnival could learn from them.
Hello Henry Cabrini
Interesting point about the cabin lights. I can’t say I have heard that one before but I must admit, I always turn them off when I leave, not only to save energy but, yes, to stop them from heating the room. I do hope you had a great time with us and that we will see you soon. Best wishes.
Sue Laursen asks:
Hi John: My husband and I enjoy the flexibility of Your Time Dining but also enjoy meeting and talking to other guests over dinner. My question is; why do we always have to be seated alone? We do ask if there is a table we can join but have always been told there are none available.
I’m sure there must be other cruisers who would like some dinner company. Any suggestions?
Hello Sue Laursen
This is a good point and one I wrote about on Facebook last week. It does seem that most people who ask for YTD do ask for private tables, which is why when you ask that question it is difficult for the dining room hostess to seat you with others. Plus, I think our response to this has been to configure more tables for two. I do always recommend to guests that, if they wish to sit with others, then it is best to ask for early or late sitting. Please let me know if I can help with anything. Best wishes.
Laurie Willis asks:
Hi John: I know lots of people write to you with complaints, but I’m writing to say thank you to Carnival. You see, I just got home from a four-day cruise on Carnival Victory. We boarded on April 23, 2015, stopping at Key West and Cozumel. This trip was planned for a while and my husband and I were very excited about it. John, my beloved mother died on April 21, 2015. The day before my mother passed away, she told me not to cancel our cruise, that she wanted us to go and have a great time. I was devastated to lose my mother. I reluctantly went on my cruise. I was upset a few times in the first day and the customer service people in the ship eventually found out about our loss. The entire guest services team checked on us numerous times a day. They took such excellent care of my husband and me. Every crew member we came in contact with seemed to know about me and my situation. The empathy and compassion on that ship was absolutely incredible. I really didn’t want to go on the cruise but I am so glad I did. It meant so much to me that the staff of the Victory went well beyond what they usually do to make me have a good time. Even while handling some very difficult things on the ship. So, John, I’d like you to pass on my gratitude and gratefulness to everyone for me. It really did mean so much to me. Best wishes.
Laurie and Everett Willis
I am so very sorry to read of the passing of your wonderful Mother and I am sure the decision to take the cruise must have been so hard for you. I am very thankful to you for taking the time to write and to praise the crew, all of whom will see this, and they will be so proud. Thanks again and I hope there are many happier times ahead and hope also that we see you soon. Best wishes.
Annette Lautar asks:
Hi John, I am cruising Carnival Valor spring break 2016. My daughter has Celiac and cannot eat wheat soy or milk. (Very severe allergy to wheat, soy milk, causing swelling of the throat, and intestines when digested.) What is the best way to communicate with the Carnival Valor team so my daughter is able to eat without worrying about food? We appreciate your time. Thank you
Hello Annette Lautar
Please do not worry; we are very used to looking after our guests with such concerns. May I suggest you contact our guest access services desk, give them a call and let them know and they will arrange everything? I will also be here and on my Facebook page should you need my help. All will be well and you will have a brilliant time. Best wishes.
Athena Jones asks:
Heald – you have served your purpose: you should surrender your giant ego at the gangway; you are not the star you once thought you were. You will not be missed on the Cruise Critic boards. Goodbye, Heald, don’t let the door hit you in the ass as you leave.
Hello Athena Jones
I don’t think anyone can honestly say that they are in the entertainment business and that they do not have an ego. I certainly do have one, although I think calling it “giant” is a wee bit of an overstatement. Ever since I started writing this blog and until today, I truly do not understand why I am so despised by some who read Cruise Critic and I wish that there was something I could do to change that. Until then I will simply say that I am not going anywhere and will continue to be part of this brilliant company. I hope we see you sailing with us soon. Best wishes.
That’s all for today, I will be back with another 10 on the next blog. I know at this point I should apologise to those who have posted here only to find bugger all answer from me. I did give my full time to Facebook and answered hundreds of questions a week there but I will try really hard to put more time into this blog and help you all I can. The quickest response still though comes through Facebook.
When I had been dropped off at the cabin, I had not been told anything– I was literally just dumped outside the door and told to wait here and, therefore, I had no idea about the communal hell that awaited me.
So let’s get back to talking about me, shall we? I have a feeling that at the end of this blog some of my readers will look like that scene in the movie Airplane when that lady talks too much …………. anyway, part 2 of my changes.
As you may have read, I have decided not to do any more long contracts on the ships as cruise director. This was a very tough decision to make — I mean really tough — and I did not do it without a lot of thought and conversation with Heidi and some of my colleagues.
And, in the end, I decided that for the sake of my family and for the sake of the department, I would stop putting my name on the cruise director schedule, it wasn’t fair on anyone. Did I want to do this? No, I really did not want to stop. Being a cruise director has been part of my life for 24 of my 29 years with Carnival Cruise Line and deciding to stop doing something that has been something that I was so lucky to be doing; well, it was a decision which I wrestled with for weeks.
So why did I decide to do this? Why did I decide to stop being a full-time cruise director? Well, for the seven of you who have not buggered off to watch paint dry or have gone over to the Cruise Critic boards to write about a door “hitting me in the ass,” let me explain.
Many of our ships now have the entertainment director position and he or she now being in charge of meetings, meetings, more meetings, the Fun Times, scheduling, meetings and department affairs (not the ones with the Italian officers, I mean general every day affairs) the cruise director is now free to host far more events. In fact, it is now his or her job to host these events and it is expected of them.
Having an entertainment director on the ships has been such a great improvement for you ……… yes, you, the guest and this is being proven by the comments I read on Facebook and by the internal ratings numbers we get from our TGEM report. TEGM stands for ummmm ……… ummmm …….well, buggered if I know……but it shows the ratings based on the review cards some of you complete and those ratings show that ship’s with the entertainment directors have high ratings, higher in most cases than the ship’s that do not.
The ratings are high because the cruise director is free of all the restraints that was changing the job from being a on stage, front of house, always there for the guests position to a job that because of e sodding mails and more red tape than a factory that makes red tape…….the cruise directors were spending more time with Mr. Dell then with the guests.
And so the new position of ED has allowed the CD to be hosting everything, morning, noon and night and I know that you all appreciate that so very much and for the very most part, the cruise directors prefer this as well, after all, they choose to be a CD because of their love of people. It certainly took a chunk of time for the CD to accept they were no longer the department head, something that I understand completely. Some of you may think that this had something to do with my decision but I can tell you honestly, it had absolutely nothing to do with it. Certainly for the last four or five years, I had chosen very strong assistant cruise directors who as anyone who worked with me will tell you, really ran the department anyway.
That’s because my social media and brand ambassador duties were such that it was difficult for me to be a CD and keep up with Facebook and this blog. The toughest time was bringing out the Carnival Breeze which had me on four or five hours sleep a night………not a good thing.
And so because I can’t dance the Wobble and because I am 50 years old and can’t be bouncing off the walls like a Mattjamiestumikeweemalcolmjasecorygeorge can, I knew it was time ……. time to pass the torch of fun to our brilliant crop of CDs.
I want to pause here because I see Carnival has put a link to my blog on the main page of carnival.com. That means some of you may have clicked on this having no bloody clue who I am.
So with that in mind, I will give you a quick look at my career so far.
I joined the Holiday as a bar waiter, aged 22 years old and not knowing the difference between a Pina Colada and a Slippery Nipple. That first day, I was shown where my cabin was and that was it. No training, no big welcome as we give all our crew now and, as I sat on the one chair in the room, I realised that there was no shower and no toilet. I didn’t think it could get any worse; I was alone and no clue what to do next. It was then that my cabin mate entered the room. He was a wine steward and he was from Portugal and we will call him Manuel Quencho because that was his name
He was the perfect cabin mate, if you were looking for someone who never took a shower, peed in the sink, yep — he peed in the sink — and smoked 20 cigarettes a day…..in the truly tiny cabin we both lived in. You would expect that upon meeting someone who is going to be sleeping a few feet below you, I would have received a warm welcome but he was a complete and utter bastard……and I spent the first week crying and wishing I could simply go home ……..and that if Manuel was going to pee in the sink that he would move my toothbrush out of the way first.
What saved me was that Manuel left a week later and I had a new cabin mate who was absolutely fantastic. His name was Bican, a wine steward from Istanbul and we became firm friends. Bican taught me to love Turkish tea, which he would boil in the cabin every day. After work, all the wine stewards would get together and cook ……yes……cook….in the cabins on little portable stoves.
I am not sure how I got through those first few weeks, which were a cross between being in the army, boarding school and prison. Nowadays, it is, of course, so much different. The crew are welcomed with open arms and given a full orientation before they start work. Many of the crew will have had to pass through what we call Carnival College specific to their job before they join their ship and there is a dedicated department on board who is there to assist with training and crew welfare. My training was Bar Manager Colin Campus handing me a tray and a menu and off I went to serve drinks I had never heard of before and when a male guest asked me for “sex on the beach” I ran back to my cabin locked the door and hid under the bed.
APRIL – SEPTEMBER 1988
I had completed my contract as a bar waiter and, surprisingly, I decided to come back for another eight-month contract. This time, to the Jubilee where amazingly I was given a job as wine steward. Now, if I knew bugger all about exotic cocktails, my understanding of wine was comparable only with Kim Kardashian’s understanding that her bottom does not look sexy covered in so much oil and that she is lucky that Exxon didn’t set up an oil rig between her cheeks. But a wine steward I was. Back then I did actually drink the odd glass but most of the wine I did drink, came with a screw top and had a picture of a Blue Nun on it or if I was really living the lifestyle of the rich and tanned, I would treat myself to something with a cork in it.
My life as a wine steward was short lived probably because I didn’t know anything…….and I mean anything…….about wine. The only thing that got me through it was a bit of banter and a few jokes, plus the fact that many, if not most, of the Carnival guests during the late 80s knew even less about wine than I did.
SEPTEMBER 1988 TO FEBRUARY 1989
It only took six months for the management on the Jubilee and the Carnival shoreside bar beard who was called Barbara, the bar beard, to realise I was a terrible wine steward and asking me to recommend wine was like asking Stevie Wonder to be a golf caddie. And so they promoted me to assistant bar manager.
Ahhhh yes, 1989. WHAM was singing Wake Me Up Before You Go Go and I weighed the same as my right thigh now does. My hair was as black as coal and I was a sex object, meaning I asked every lady I met for sex and they would all object.
I had been promoted from wine steward to assistant bar manager and they gave me a white uniform. I won’t spend too much time on this because I wrote a blog about this last year but, basically, the bar manager, an evil bully called Oswaldo, physically assaulted a bar waiter called Aslim and when I tried to stop him, he put his hand in my face and pushed me away. I should have called security. I didn’t. Instead, I broke his nose and fractured his jaw.
I hate bullies.
I was fired.
I was hired two days later in a position newly created for me…………they called it “social host.”
And so later that morning, I packed my suitcase, moved cabins, and, to my utter joy, it had its own private bathroom, so my days of peeing in the sink were over and my days of entertaining the guests and using a microphone had begun.
I never saw Oswaldo again as he and Carnival came to an agreement that it was best that he go home to Spain and he never returned to Carnival. I hope he is today living in peace and happiness, growing olives and doing so with a nose as bent as a dog’s back leg.
I should have been fired but thanks to the Carnival beards of the day, I wasn’t and they gave me a chance. So children, remember Uncle John’s words of wisdom. If you want to succeed, find a manager and break his nose — it means a guaranteed promotion.
And here is what happened next.
Social host, working for Carnival’s best-ever cruise director, Gary Hunter – delivered the Carnival Fantasy
Promoted to cruise director – first ship, TSS Carnivale
Delivered Carnival Sensation – the first of 13 new ships I have delivered as cruise director
Promoted to senior cruise director
Received my first hemorrhoid
Started this blog that has over 19 million page views
Hosted my first “Bloggers Cruise” on the Carnival Fantasy
Promoted to Carnival Cruise Line’s brand ambassador
Gene Sloan, the wonderful writer from USA Today describes me as “famously irreverent” and “known for his candid, funny and sometimes outrageously inappropriate daily missives about life at sea”
Delivered my last ship as cruise director – Carnival Breeze
So, after all of that, I am probably down to just one person reading this – hello, Mum. It has been a brilliant ride and I am not ready to get off yet. I will still be very much part of this great company, the best cruise line in the world, Carnival. I will be sailing every other month on ships and hosting shows and telling inappropriate jokes and not doing the wobble.
I will be on the Carnival Journeys voyages. I will be hosting Bloggers Cruises 8 and 9. I will next month, be in Italy filming your Carnival Vista and will be on her inaugural cruises and the trans-Atlantic. And I will be here on the blog, twice a week, and every day on Facebook, helping, listening, making more “outrageously inappropriate” posts and, despite what Athena Jones was hoping would happen …………..“letting the door hit my ass on the way out.”
I want to thank Carnival. The beards have been so flexible and allowing me to do all of this shows that they still have belief in me which is, after all these years, so very humbling. I also want to thank my family for the times they stood at the window, waving goodbye to me and for allowing me to follow my dreams. I wish Dad was here so I could thank him one more time, he was and always will be my role model.
I have more laughter to share in me and I look forward to many more years of sharing that laughter with you both on the ships and here on the interweb. I love my job, I really do and I consider myself to be one lucky, lucky man.
Right, that’s enough about me, let’s talk about something else………the movement of ships between…………oh, bugger, I am out of time. Sorry, you will have to wait a few more days for that.
I have 30 seconds left, so I will say thanks for reading this blog and I promise the next one will not be “all about me.”
It will, instead, be about a sponsorship deal we have signed for our entertainment directors. Their uniform polo shirts will read “ED – sponsored by Viagra.”