June 9, 2015 -

John Heald

On June 24, I will be flying to Trieste, Italy, to see your Carnival Vista. I will be joined by Peter the Hair, Jay the Latino and their film crew who will capture the special “coin ceremony” which I will share with you here and on , and I will also be joined by a special guest.

I am getting more and more excited about Carnival Vista and all she will have to offer. This though will be the first ship in many years that has not been delivered by a fat, ugly, bent- toothed, grey-haired cruise director – yep…… And just writing those words makes me feel ….. well………..a bit sad.

I have though been so privileged to deliver…….ummmm………….ummmm……..bugger, I have no idea how many new ships I have delivered as cruise director. Bugger, let me count quickly. There was the:

Carnival Ecstasy

Carnival Sensation

Carnival Imagination

Carnival Destiny

Carnival Triumph

Carnival Glory

Carnival Legend

Carnival Liberty

Carnival Freedom

Carnival Splendor

Carnival Magic

Carnival Breeze

That’s 12 new ships…………bugger me, no wonder my hair is as grey as an old yak’s dangly bits.

It was always a thrill to deliver these ships but I honestly could not do it now, I really couldn’t. While I will miss the banter that a new ship start up team has with each other and the thrill of getting the ship ready in time I just cannot do this, my social media duties and brand ambassador duties and don’t have the never ending energy that’s needed to bring out a new ship. Yep, it’s time to hand over the new ship torch to………..well, that remains to be seen and we will announce who the ship’s cruise director will be in the weeks ahead.

Yep, I will miss the long days and the fun nights in Trieste and Monfalcone eating great food in the restaurants with colleagues. But there will be some things of bringing out a new ship I won’t miss. You have to remember that up until around two weeks or so before the inaugural cruise, the ship does not belong to Carnival. That means that Fincantieri are in control of the ship so they control the air conditioning, which in many cases, they control it by switching the bugger off completely. I certainly will not miss that or the elevators not working or the fact that my cabin office is never ready immediately. For example, on Carnival Breeze I had no office chair for a whole week, which meant I sat there working on the Fun Times and blogging and Facebooking while sitting on my assistant Calvyn. But there is a huge reward to bringing out a new ship and that is the extraordinary sense of accomplishment that you played a part in the start of her life at sea, that you were the first captain, the first chief engineer, the first maître d’, one of the first waiters, the first pastry chef, the first cruise director……..yep, it is an honour to be chosen and even though I know that it is a young man’s or a young woman’s game these days, I also know that I will feel a twang of jealousy when we announce who that lucky sod will be. I will, though be there a week before to help the CD prepare a new ship and to help them with the European talks on ports I know so well and, of course, I will be on your Carnival Vista to share all the excitement of our brilliant new flag ship with you.

Time for today’s Q and A session so let’s crack on.

Laura asks:
My husband and I will be taking a family cruise with our grown children and their girlfriends later in the year.  I recently had weight loss surgery (gastric bypass, to be specific).  I am only able to eat about four ounces of food at a time (about 1/2 cup) and eat six small meals a day. This leads me to my concerns.  I know that there will be plenty of food for me to choose from on the ship. I absolutely love the food choices in the MDR. With the restrictions that I have with the amount of food I will be able to consume at a time, is it possible to take some “leftovers” back to my cabin for me to have later?  I would hate to waste any food and sometimes my taste and that of my husband are different so he may not be able to finish what I don’t eat.  Or…is it possible to request a much smaller portion of a main dish (I will have to skip the appetizers and definitely dessert.)?  Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks again for brightening my days with your humor on Facebook!

John says:
Hello Laura

I am so glad you have written to me and I am able to help you. Please do not be concerned about this because you can order small portions and, if you order the regular portions and you or your husband do not finish it, nobody is going to judge you or be upset, that is for sure. I think taking the food back to the cabin is not a good option, so why not just remind me about this on my Facebook page four days before the cruise and I will let the maître d’ know that you may be asking for smaller portions. Either way, I am here to help you, so please let me know if you need anything at all. Have a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.


Ian Keir asks:
I am not new to cruising. I have 26 now, seven cruises on Carnival. My comments are for your line, plus are relevant to the other lines I choose to spend my money with. It is with reference to your comments on gratuities for your crew we are forced to pay. I have never understood why we have to tip them. I have recently travelled by plane, seen a doctor and a hematology consultant and did not feel obliged to slip any of them a few dollars for their trouble. You shouldn’t need to incentivize your staff to give good service. Pay them a decent salary and, if they give bad service, fire them. Get rid of gratuities; increase the price of the cruise if you have to. Simple math Carnival.

John says:
Hello Ian Keir

Thank you for taking the time to write and I would like to start my response with the respectful reminder that you are not “forced” to tip anyone. The gratuities we take from your Sail & Sign card still need to be earned by the staff through service that meets and, we hope, exceeds your expectations. If that is not the case, you have every right to remove them. Like many restaurants and service industries on land, we do subsidise some of our crew with the gratuities that 99% of our guests give and I am sure that, when you cruise again with us the service you will receive will prompt you to reward the crew accordingly. Thanks again for writing and I hope we see you soon. Best wishes.


Wendy MacDonald asks:
Dear John, I just wanted to pass on our experience with a Carnival excursion we took in Grand Cayman on Carnival Conquest April 29, 2015. We took Cayman by Land and Sea – when it got to the last part of the tour, the undersea boat thingy we finished the boat ride and went to get back on the tour bus only to find there was no more room for us. The response we got from the tour guide was – you can walk back to the port, or I can come back and get you – with 90 degree weather I do not think it was appropriate to tell us to walk back especially never having been to this port. We had to wait 20 minutes for him to come back and pick us up, we were stressed standing alone outside this restaurant where the boat thingy was. I thought you should know that this should be addressed as this is not the way you want your customers to be treated. Other than this, the cruise was brilliant. Thank you, Wendy

John says:
Hello Wendy MacDonald

I am so sorry to hear this. I’ve sent a note to our tour operations department for them to review. I do hope you had a brilliant cruise and, again, please accept my apologies that we let you down. Best wishes.


Jim Smith asks:
Mr. Heald: My wife and I just spent seven wonderful days on the Carnival Sunshine. The ship was fantastic. CD Jaime and her staff were GREAT. The entire crew was wonderful. The only concern that we have is that the food was just okay. The specialty restaurants were outstanding (Ji Ji and Cucina). The main dining rooms were good but the buffet was very disappointing. The food was lukewarm at best. This was the worst of the three Carnival ships that we have been on. Perhaps the heat to the warmers could be turned up. Other than that, it was a fabulous week and we are already planning our next Carnival cruise and we will be bringing our daughter and grandchildren. Thank you for taking the time to read this and look forward to reading your blogs and Facebook posts.

John says:
Hello Jim Smith

I am very glad that you had such a wonderful time and I am sorry to learn about your thoughts on the Lido food. This has been sent to the chef there and the hotel director too and I know that they will work hard to improve this area. I hope we will see you again soon. Thanks for the very kind words and I remain here at your service. Best wishes.


Terri Redfern asks:
Just off Carnival Legend in Hawaii. The service and food were top notch and the entertainment and the band Cyclone Warning who play in the RedFrog Pub were awesome. On the negative side, embarkation was a nightmare; it took around four hours, with only water offered which ran out after two hours. Also they provided seats for only about a third of the people, the rest of us had to sit on the floor. We were one of the lucky ones as we had a wall to rest against! Nobody apologized for this which left us very angry and still does. The worst part of the cruise was the ports. Hawaii is too American which surprised us. We are from California and each stop was just like any place on the coast where we live. I think Carnival should choose the ports better. Having said the above, I would definitely sail with Carnival again.

John says:
Hello Terri Redfern

I wanted to make sure that I publicly apologised to you for the embarkation experience you had in Honolulu. I did, in fact, apologise on board over the PA system and in the shows and past guest party as well as write about it on my Facebook page but I wanted to make sure you saw this apology which I sincerely make to you and anyone who had to endure those challenges.

As for the ports, well, I was surprised to read that as Hawaii is after all…. ummmm……American and yet I found them to be diverse and extraordinarily beautiful. I do hope we will see you again very soon and if there is anything I can help you with, please let me know. Best wishes.


Sue asks:
When sailing on Carnival Fascination, we wanted to go to steakhouse and have been told there isn’t one on board. But we could order steak from our menus. Does that include other favorites from the steakhouse menu or just the meat selection? Thank you for your time.

John says:
Hello Sue

Thanks for asking this. You can order the filet mignon, New York strip and the lobster tail from the steakhouse menu while on your cruise. I hope that you have a brilliant time. Best wishes.


Bythia Tennyson asks:
John. I am bringing a graduating girl scout onboard for their senior trip.  She has been saving all their cookie money for five years to do this.  This is a first time for me.  My question is. Does the captain ever eats dinner with the crew?  If the captain does, is it possible to get the girl’s put on his possible list for dinner?  Like I said I have not ever been on a cruise before and I am coming with them. But they were talking about it and wondered if it was possible. Thought I would ask.

John says:
Hello Bythia Tennyson

Congratulations to this young lady on at all her hard work. I cannot arrange I am afraid dinner with the captain but if you would let me know her name and cabin number on my page the day before you sail I would be happy to send something to say congratulations on a job well done. I wish you all a great cruise. Best wishes.


Jonathan ONeill asks:
Hi there, John. Wife and kids love Carnival Breeze and we are doing our fourth Carnival Breeze spring break cruise in March 2016. What are the chances of getting a new set of shows and/or comedians? I understand swapping out shows (especially those with large sets) can be done only in dry dock. But I am certain our most recent spring break cruise (March 15, 2015) we had the same shows (the juggler and hypnotist) and some of the same comedians. I understand that we have other choices with Carnival (and other brands)…but like I said earlier, the wife and kids really enjoy Carnival Breeze and it’s another year until we can sail on Carnival Vista in 2017 out of South Florida. Thanks in advance.

Jonathan O’Neill

John says:
Hello Jonathan O’Neill

I am so happy to read how much you and your family enjoy Carnival Breeze and that you will be doing so again next year. We have already replaced The Brits show there with another show called 88 Keys and yes indeed there will be different variety acts and I am sure different comedians too. I hope you have yet another brilliant time and please do ask me if you have any other questions. Best wishes.


Paul Doty asks:
John, I’d like to leave a comment. I’m a VIFP Gold member (**********) and let it go to my head :).  I know everything I tell myself and can book my own cruise without help.  My trusty cruise guy (one Harvey Brister CCL) isn’t needed because this one is just me and the misses.

Normally, I foot the bill for all the kids and their families so Harvey arranges all that perfectly each time. Multiple rooms, flying in from different countries, babies, pregnant daughters, you name it, he arranges it. Everyone is happy and I look like the genius I is. I of course, let everyone know how hard I worked planning it all out :). Big mistake!  I is dum and shouldn’t be allowed near websites with a credit card.  An email to and all good now.  He knows exactly what we like and how we like it.  I highly recommend everyone at least talk to a Carnival Vacation Planner and, if you are lucky, you will get Harvey on the line! Thanks for all you do.

John says:
Hello Paul Doty

Well there is a chap called Harvey who is about to have a huge smile on his face. Thank you for taking the time to write and I will make sure that he and his manager see how much you valued his assistance. I hope that you continue to cruise with us and that we will see you holding a platinum card soon. Best wishes.


Manny asks:
Hi John: I am writing today only to say… I knew Carnival was the cruise line for me from day 1. With that said, I took advantage of a low cruise price on a competitor that starts with R. After 10 Carnival cruises I felt a little change would be good. Boy was I wrong… The little things Carnival still does are truly something I can truly appreciate. Here are the things I missed on this cruise that I love about Carnival:

Turndown service

Pens in the cabin

Cabin Steward that learns my name

A true vacation dress code

Deck parties

Multiple options for entertainment

Cruise directors that get involved with guest

I can go on for days… But I won’t. My email is to say, I appreciate Carnival for always being a good value, but offering so much more! From the water park onboard to the great entertainment. Carnival will always be my cruise line… For that, I applaud everyone at CCL! You always approach everything with the guest in mind and the words FUN!

John says:
Hello Manny

I want to thank you for this post, it really made me smile and, while I hope you still had a good cruise on whichever line that was, I am so proud to see that you missed us and you will be home to Carnival soon. I will send this to the beards so they can see this too. Thanks again and I remain here at your service. Best wishes.


And that’s all for today and thank you again for all the questions and comments you post here, I will keep cracking on and answer as many as I can as quickly as I can.

It’s a busy time for the entertainment department with two new shipboard entertainment directors joining Carnival and some more cruise director changes coming, so I will have a new schedule for you a little later this month. For those of you sailing in the Caribbean in the weeks ahead you will be hearing a lot more Caribbean music from the moment you walk on board into the lobby and for those sailing in Alaska, you will also be experiencing something very special entertainment wise and I will have more about this soon.

So while it has been a hectic week for the entertainment shoreside team and the hundreds of people who work on our ships entertaining you, it has also been a week full of bitter sadness.

As those who recently sailed on the Carnival Sensation will already know through a letter you received on board, we lost a member of our entertainment team this past week. She was part of our Playlist cast of singers and dancers and her sudden, unexpected and tragic passing has affected so many, most of all, those who sang and danced alongside her. The guests were informed last cruise and on the current cruise that due to the loss of one of the performers that the Playlist shows would be postponed and, in their place, variety entertainers would be performing. Obviously, the cast specifically were overcome with grief and sadness as I am sure you can understand.

The shock has been immense for everyone on the ship and, as usual, in circumstances like this a Carnival CareTeam was sent to the ship along with grief counselors to offer support and assistance. And it was great to see that the CareTeam was joined by our vice president of entertainment and many of the shoreside entertainment team all of whom grieved together.

And to her mother whose heart will forever be broken at this loss of her beloved daughter, I want to say this.

Although you are going through something that is so tragic and sad, I want you to know that your daughter was loved, yes, loved by her colleagues and those who worked with her. Cruise ships bring those that work together so close together and her passing has left so many feeling hopelessly sad. But Mum………..I also want you to know that your daughter was a beautiful talented artist who has left a lasting legacy on those she performed on stage to and every single person who met her both on and off stage. She will always be remembered, never forgotten, by her Carnival family.

I spoke to someone on the ship, a friend and your daughter’s colleague, who told me, “I just can’t believe she is gone, I have been watching a DVD of her amazing performances in the shows with tears in my eyes, she was a fantastic talent, and we will miss her so much.”

You were a star, Amanda, and in heaven your star……… will shine on.


Comment Policy

Look, friends — there are a few things you should remember before you comment. The space below is for you to post your comments about the post I've just written above. Now, while I may not be able to reply to your comment below, I do sit in my underpants almost every morning and read everything that is here. So feel free to comment on the comments and then if someone wants to comment on the comment to the comment then go ahead as well. Please be courteous, unless the poster is French...........then you can say whatever you want.

27 Responses to Amanda

  1. Sue Weiss says:

    On August 11 I am taking my family on cruise to Alaska on the Legend. My oldest granddaughter will be 13. Can she use the gym?

  2. Mary Dagostino says:

    I am so sorry to hear this tragic news about Amanda. <3

  3. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:


    Our hearts go out to Amanda’s family and friends. Entertainers like Amanda bring such joy to so many with their incredible performances. May the memories created during her lifetime be of comfort during this time of loss.

    Linda ( Mom of your friend DJ)

  4. Sue March says:

    Jaime D for Vista CD.
    Truly, the MOST energetic cruise director I have EVER had the pleasure of sailing with. She “almost” got me up dancing and that is a temptation that I had never been faced with before or since.

  5. Carolyn Perkins says:

    I heard the CD on the Vista is down to Jaimee and Malcolm. Our vote is for Jaimee. Many of our friends feel the same way. Hope she is chosen for the Vista

  6. Bonnie Tift says:

    Beautiful tribute to Amanda. May she rest in peace and may God bring comfort to her family.

  7. Bobbi Davis says:

    Great post John. Change is hard for all of us but thank goodness you knew it was time to make one and also that CCL recognizes the gift they have in you. Look at it this way, when Vista is released to CCL, you’ll be there but don’t have to do the grunt work. Also thank you for the kind words about Amanda. Blessings to her Mother and family. I too lost a child under the same circumstances. Hopefully folks will stay in touch with her and continue to offer her love and support. She will need it for a long time. Thanks for everything you do for us each and every day.

  8. Terry Tamborello (@txaggie76) says:

    Aw, I got a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat. What a wonderful way to remember the crew member, Amanda.

  9. Dan K. says:

    My condolences to everyone at Carnival Sensation and Amanda’s family. How awful to lose someone so young. A parent should never have to bury a child.

  10. Ellamae Hunter says:

    John, after reading all these comments I am wondering if these folks or any cruisers take the time to respond to the survey when a cruise is completed. That being said, what happens to the responses? Is anyone really paying any attention, and if so ..,what is the biggest change in response to the survey?

    • Cynthia Ravenscraft says:

      I received a reply to my survey and email to their customer service team after our last cruise within a week or so. If there is an issue they act very promptly. My only complain on all of our cruises was mold in the bathroom on our last cruise and the lack of help on the ship but was very pleased how responsive the customer service team was. I am very certain this problem will not happen again on a ship. We already had our next cruise on the same ship booked before I even got a response. That is how much we love Carnival. Every business has pitfalls now and then but Carnival goes above and beyond to fix it. Even if it does not seem immediate.

  11. Annie Mascarenhas says:

    Prayers and thoughts for Amanda’s family.May she rest in peace. Yes we are a big family. I am a ex carnival crew.

  12. sharon hewitt says:

    I just had the pleasure of reading your post. The feelings and experiences you wrote regarding your CD experiences were so loving and yes, it will be hard to leave that time in your life with CCL as a CD, I felt that way when I retired from teaching High School students for 35 years. I understand. The comments about Amanda and the words you shared with her mother…palpable to all lucky to have known her. A kind man you are John Heald! Cheers!

  13. Rick Williamson says:

    John didn’t you do Carnival Dream when she was new? This would make the number of ships 13 right?

    • Mike J. says:

      I think the first CD on the Dream was Todd Wittmer who was there when my wife and I were onboard for our first Carnival cruise in June 2010.

  14. Robin says:

    Jaime Dee for the Vista! She’s terrific. I’ve been on over 50 cruises total and she is the best Cruise Directer we have ever had. She made our cruise fun, as a “Fun Ship” should be. Again….Jaime Dee for the Vista.

    • Kathleen Michel says:

      Our prayers go out to Amanda’s birth family and her adopted family on Carnival. It is heart breaking to lose such a young person. Not to be rude and change the subject but we fill out a questionnaire after every cruise and are sure to write ccl/support to recognize the great and offer advice for improvement. We also whole heartily endorse Jaime Dee for Vista cruise director.

  15. Lori barber says:

    Hi John, awesome blog! Our condolences to the entire Carnival fleet for the loss of a very special lady. Thank you for all you do!

  16. colin thomson says:

    JOHN, as a survivor of my nephew”s suicide,I offer my prayers of compassion &understandingto her parents,friends & co-workers.It is a pain beyond description.Everybody grieves at a different pace.There is no one way to do it.I hope that CARNIVAL has,in place, a support system for everyone.Amanda you will be in everyone HEARTS always.I wish that there was a way to send HUGS&understanding to the family.They will need as much support as they can get.IT is times like this where LIFE really gets put into perspective. AGAIN, sending prayers of peace,love, hope & understanding

  17. GSA Leader says:

    “I am bringing a graduating girl scout onboard for their senior trip. She has been saving all their cookie money for five years to do this.”

    As a Scout Leader, this comment concerns me, not some much the part about wanting to eat with the Captain, but with the use of cookie money. People purchase cookies knowing that the funds are used to support Scouting activities.

    Is this a Scout trip that the girls have used five-years’ worth of fundraising to afford, or is it one girl using all of the Unit’s fundraising money to pay for her personal trip, or is it just someone mixing singular and plural forms in a funny question to get a response from John?

  18. Karl says:

    Hi John,

    Sorry to hear you won’t be on the Vista. My wife and I were on the Breeze crossing with you and thoroughly enjoyed our trip.

    In recent months, we have had two cruises on the Sunshine and, while both were great, our May trip was exceptional. I credit this to Jaime Dee, our Cruise Director. We have been on over twenty cruises, mostly with Carnival, and can’t remember a more engaging Cruise Director (except for you, of course). Jaime’s high energy and interaction with all age groups (especially the children) was something special to witness. It was great to see someone so completely enjoy their job. She is such a great ambassador for Carnival Cruise lines.

    Next year we have several cruises booked on the Vista, including the crossing and, while we are very excited and expect a great sailing, it could only be better if Jaime Dee were the Cruise Director. My wife and I would also like to volunteer our services to join you on the Vista from June to May to help get the ship ready from a guest perspective. We are totally serious!

  19. Cynthia Ravenscraft says:

    We love the Sensation. Already have our 4th cruise booked on that ship.

    I don’t recall exactly which performer was Amanda because I just don’t always remember those things or may not have know her name. In all honesty we did not watch some of the shows our last trip because we were having too much fun buying art at the gallery.

    I would like to pass along these words to her colleagues and family.

    When you feel a gentle breeze on your cheek that will be her kiss.

    When you feel the warmth of the sun on your back that will be her warm embrace,

    When you feel raindrops falling on your head know that are her tears because she misses you too.

    When you see a rainbow spanning the sky that is her bridge for you to join her in heaven but don’t be in a hurry. Just enjoy the beautiful colors.

    She will be waiting for you when you are ready.

    She is happily entertaining all in heaven.

    God be with you all.

  20. Sandra says:

    Very heartfelt blog regarding the loss of Amanda. I could tell the crew is close knit by the way that they interact. Just left the 8 day repo from SJU to NY, Malcolm Burn was the picture of professionalism and truly loves his job and wants each guest to have a memorable cruise. Unfortunately, a guest became ill and had to be evacuated by the coast guard which caused y concern, worry, and delay. The crew was excellent. Malcolm put on a performance at the Legends show which lifted the mood and morale and had my face aching from smiling. I hope Malcolm gets the Vista CD position, it would truly be Carnival’s gain.

  21. Myrl aka Merle Anderson says:

    We sailed on Sensation May 10th. I think I remember Amanda as the entertainers also do other tasks. We are very sorry and send our condolences to her family.

  22. William O'Steen says:

    In response to Ian Keir, you claim Carnival should eliminate the gratuity and just charge more for the cruise. Why don’t you just do what most guests do and consider the prepaid gratuity a cost of the cruise. We do, but will provide additional personal tips to specific crew members based on their performance.

  23. Rurh Ann says:

    Terri i know this is a late comment and you probably won’t see this but last time I checked Hawaii became “American” in 1959 when my mother (born and raised on said island) was a teenager….and was a territory for a good long time before becoming a state, I wonder if you would go to Alaska and complain that it too was too “American” … I’m just shocked that anyone would refer to a state of the United States would say that the state was “TOO” American ….. I’m just in utter disbelief!!!!

Copyright 2011 John Heald. All Rights Reserved