John Heald's Blog Tue, 21 Jul 2015 19:02:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 I, Claudia Tue, 21 Jul 2015 19:02:11 +0000 Continue reading ]]> As you know, I have just returned from the Carnival Paradise and I have to say it was so good to be on a Fantasy-class ship again. I was part of the delivery teams for Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Sensation and Carnival Imagination so I have special feelings for this class of ship. I was also lucky enough to stay on in a guest cabin. On Carnival Paradise, I was in an ocean view cabin on Riviera Deck and was a big, spacious cabin for sure. I’ve been traveling a lot recently and I’m always quite surprised by the amount of noise some guests in make when they are walking down the corridors both in a hotel and yes, even on our ships.

Yes, the vast majority of guests are considerate but there are a few who walk to and from their rooms talking as though the person they are with is 400 meters away. And they do this at all times of the night. And then there is something else…..the slamming of doors ……. Again, most people are considerate but there are others who it seems have to shut the door as hard as they possibly can. Maybe the doors are thicker in hotel rooms – thus harder to slam – and hotel guests are just bored out of their minds returning from a conference or the dreadful, overpriced food rather than returning energised from a great show or some laughter out loud moments at the Punchliner Comedy Club as they do on our ships.

Whatever the reason, having been woken a few times by banging doors at 2 am by the Waltons saying goodnight to each other I mentioned to both cruise directors on the two ships that they should consider an announcement along the lines of, “Consideration for your fellow guests, etc., please don’t slam the cabin doors FFS”…………OK, maybe not the FFS bit but you get my drift. When I was a regular CD I always made that announcement and I do think it made a difference, it really did, and I am sure most guests, not all, remembered what I had said and were a wee bit more sotto voce as they walked back to their cabins.

What’s your first act on walking into a hotel room? Me……well after I’ve checked and inspected the bed sheets for ummmmm……..“below the waist shrubbery,” I switch on the air conditioning to full. On cruise ships, air temperature can vary since we’re always traveling outside in the elements and people are constantly moving and opening and closing their doors and balconies. These past few months, our teams have worked hard to get the temperature right and that is not always easy to balance a ship’s air flow especially in these hot and humid summer months. But for the most part we have gotten a lot better and have seen complaints that a cabin or, indeed, a lounge is too cold or too hot.

I love air conditioning because I am, despite my diet, still sweat like a polar bear wearing a North Face Jacket and cuddling a hot water bottle. But Heidi, my wife, has other thoughts about this entirely because to her…..air conditioning is hell. I have heard this speech so many times over the years. “If I want a sore throat and runny nose I will go stand in the rain,” she will moan. We even argue about this in the car. I have to have some air on, especially when I am driving a long distance but this means Heidi has to sit with a vicious jet of cold air drilling into her face. After any long car journey when we have had the air on, I know that the next morning Heidi will wake up and tell me she has glands the size of a yak’s testicles. When we are in a hotel together the air conditioning battle gets nasty. I turn it down and as soon as I am gone she will turn it up. I like a temperature that means I have nipples that could hang a dozen hard hats while Heidi prefers it Amazon hot.

This battle has raged for many years and I have always won. That’s because whereas Heidi can add more layers when she is cold, my promise to remove all my clothing and walk around the room naked has meant that I am the winner supreme in AC wars. That is until six years ago. Because Heidi has a new weapon — our daughter, Kye. According to my wife we need to turn the air conditioning down because apparently a rapid movement of air may damage my daughter’s growth.

Anyway, I would appreciate your feedback on the ship’s air conditioning and please, don’t let the cabin door slam……….and yes, I will add a FFS to that.

Time for today’s questions, here we go.

Shirley asks:
I am retired and like to cruise often. My husband will only take three weeks of vacation a year. We recently moved to Houston and so we don’t have many friends yet. Is there somewhere that I can connect w/other single cruisers? I need a cruise buddy or two. BTW, I really enjoy your blog AND Facebook posts.

John says:
Hello Shirley

I hope by reading this someone will see your post and contact you. May I also suggest you have a look at our Funville pages on I do hope someone can contact you and you can start up a cruise friendship and that we will see you soon. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes


Missy Reynolds asks:
I am a frequent cruiser with Carnival (11 now) and my husband (eight). I was wondering if you could tell me the BEST time to do an Alaskan cruise? I was told by several that September is a good time because of the wildlife. Something about mating season and more will be out in the open to see. Is this true? I personally don’t want to go on a cruise where I need to wear a light jacket or long pants. I want sun, sand, and to come home with a good tan. BUT my husband has always wanted to sail the Alaskan cruise. He turned 40 in May and I’m looking to book one sometime this year. Your help in the planning would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much. Missy

John says:
Hello Missy Reynolds.

I have had the pleasure of doing a full season in Alaska and every single week was astonishing. We saw whales and other marine life every single week between June and mid-September so I really don’t think there is a time when you won’t see them. There is a naturalist on the ship who will tell you everything you are seeing and, personally, I like Alaska when it is colder so the early weeks in June and the last couple in September were my favourite times. I am sure regardless you will have an unforgettable experience and I hope therefore we see you soon. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.


Ian Rees asks:
Hey Heald: I feel the same way about the loud music on Carnival Sunshine. There was a rock band with two VERY loud vocalists who play in the evening at the Ocean Plaza bar. It is difficult to get away from the noise without completely leaving the area and that sucks because we want to enjoy the Alchemy Bar. Get rid of the live music there; have piped in music at low volume. Why does everything have to be so frigging LOUD, Heald??!!!!

John says:
Hello Ian Rees

I am sorry you feel the music is too loud in the Ocean Plaza. I do know the band that plays there and they are so very talented and are a huge draw for the guests but I realise that their music plays right next to the Alchemy Bar. Please allow me to address this with the entertainment director on the ship and see what she can do to look at the volume. Please do let me know if there is anything else I can do for you. Best wishes.


Cindy Larsen asks:
We have cruised with Carnival several times with a cruise director and his first name was Butch. The last time he was on the Carnival Breeze with us. Is he still with your fleet and which ship is he currently on? We are thinking about another cruise and would like to know which ship he is on? Thanks.


John says:
Hello Cindy Larsen

Yes, indeed, the great and so talented Butch Begovich. He is now a beard, meaning he works at our HQ in Miami and is a huge asset there but a huge loss on stage. I hope you will continue to cruise and enjoy some of our other so very talented CDs. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.


Chad Smith asks:
Since we can no longer bring bottles of nonalcoholic beverages on board, can we bring the NEW 4.5-ounce pouches of Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix? We used to bring small glass bottles of the mix but now can’t. Thanks

John says:
Hello Chad Smith

Yes, these are fine to bring on the ship. Let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.


Kelly Farago asks:
Carnival line is way behind current findings as I discovered on my cruise on the Carnival Valor just last week. Sales of gluten-free food have doubled in the past year in U.S. supermarkets and the number of people with an allergy to the protein found in wheat is said to be just 40 in 100. Your gluten-free products were few and far between and often unappetizing, Gluten free people are on the rise and Carnival should produce a menu for them or you will lose 40 out of 100 people who may have considered taking a cruise.

John says:
Hello Kelly Farago

I had no idea the number of people with Celiac or gluten allergies was so high so thanks for sharing that. We have come a long way with our gluten-free choices and I am sure we will get even better as more and more people request this. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I will pass them on to the chef. Best wishes.


Paul asks:
Good day, Mr. Heald! I have a question that concerns something somewhat trivial. One of the friends I cruise with is rather addicted to Diet Mountain Dew. A 12-pack of Diet Dew is a mandatory carry-on item for him and his wife. Still, it’s not unusual for him to run out.

John says:
Hello Paul

I know this is a very popular drink but, unfortunately, it is not made by Coca Cola who we have an exclusive contract with. I am sorry but hopefully you can continue to bring this (cans not bottles) on the ship and maybe replenish in port. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.


Breyanna Mikel asks:
I think it would be great if Carnival offered a Sips ‘N Stroke Step by Step Paint class as an activity on the cruises. Nothing would be more relaxing than painting a whale tail while cruising on the ocean. Perhaps, it could be available with an additional fee like the group exercise classes, The Chef’s Table, and Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast. The canvases could be about the size of a standard sheet of paper (8.5″ by 11″) to make it easier to pack, maneuver, get through customs, etc. Thanks for all you do!

John says:
Hello Breyanna Mikel

Yes, I agree and, in fact, someone else mentioned this and I have discussed with the beards to see if we should consider this on our longer Journey cruises. I will see what happens and, of course, let you know. Please do ask me if there is anything I can do meanwhile and hope to see you soon

Best wishes


Joe Head asks:
Hello, John. This is a request dealing with the new soft drink policy. Canned soda is not my favorite. The wife and I prefer to have twist top bottles for our stateroom so as not to waste unused portions or have it go flat. We normally bring our own (Ginger ale, diet Coke, diet Pepsi, and diet Mountain Dew are my favorites). Is there any way the beards in charge could offer us, and others, some cold twist tops for sale from one of the shops on the ship? I have seen some of the prices at local convenient stores hit close to $2 each, so I would have no problem paying around that price. It’s not that I would be drinking bunches of them; it’s just a nice option to have for that quick drink to take medicine or what not. Thanks, Joe.

John says:
Hello Joe Head

That’s not a bad suggestion. Please leave this with me and let me run this by the bar beard Eddie. The new policy is now in effect, so maybe this will help somewhat. Thanks for the suggestion and I will let you know as and when and if we move forward on this. Thanks again and best wishes.


Kristi asks:
Hi John! This isn’t a question, but a comment. I read a few comments on your Facebook post yesterday about the water bottle policy. I think it is smart that you guys are changing the policy. In all honestly, I have tried to sneak alcohol on in water bottles/iced tea bottles. I’m not proud, but I was young! Anyways… some people were saying it’s all about the money for you guys. I just want you all to know that most people don’t feel that way. There is a thread on the Carnival forums about this actually. You did what you could by dropping the price of water which was very nice! Thank you for your continued work and always keeping things fair!

John says:
Hello Kristi

It is very kind and a little brave as well to admit that you did what some others have done in the past and smuggled alcohol. Certainly we are seeing a huge dip in the number of smuggled items since the new policy came in to play. I am sure you speak for many when you say how much you appreciate the new water prices and we have just this past week changed our brand of water and I have tried it and can report that it is very good. Please do let me know if you have any questions and I am glad your smuggling days are over. Best wishes.


Claudia Crozier asks:
I have never read anyone who is more self-congratulating than you, John Heald. You are no different than ANY other Carnival employee. Your job is just visible for every one of your followers to ooh and aah over…that is the only difference. All this worship minimizes and belittles every other cruise director/hotel manager or other crew member that does there job quietly without all the adoration. I once asked you for a table for two by the window on the Carnival Dream and the table was so far from the window it was ridiculous. Stop blowing your own trumpet, nobody cares.

John says:
Hello Claudia Crozier

You are absolutely correct, having this page and my Facebook page does mean I publicly share all I try and do for all those who ask me for help. Yet the crew on every ship who helps so many guests each and every day do not have a forum like this to show off what they do. So I thank you for reminding me of that fact and I will say now a huge collective thank you to them all. Thanks for being kind enough to remind me of this and I hope you will let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.


And we will leave it there for now and I will be back with more questions here soon and often on my page.

It was interesting reading Claudia Crozier’s post in today’s Q&A because it triggered a reaction I find myself doing often these days and that is seeing if this person is real, if they have a history with Carnival or if they are as fake as a Rolax and as real as breasts on The Real Housewives Of Orange Jersey. In fact, there is no record of her/him ever cruising with Carnival and his/her Facebook page has obviously been created to post on my page and for no other reason but that.

The Internet and, indeed, this blog and my Facebook page have spurned a few people who feel they want and the need to write under a false identity. They may be a suit-wearing stock trader and respectable person by day, but online, they dabble in yak fetish groups or write to tell me I am an idiot and that Carnival is their second worst idea of a great vacation after a camping trip to Chernobyl. ………….and they do so under a fake name.

This has had me thinking though and I am really torn by what’s right and wrong with this. One side of me says that if all posters were obliged to use their real names, it would put an end to most of the ummm………trolling……….I think is the right word. The obligation on Facebook and other sites to use one’s real name would prevent this, wouldn’t it? The vast majority of people who use false names do so cowardly and would shake and shiver at the thought of losing their anonymity that the interweb brings.

But the other side of me says that it would also prevent free and open speech. There are many reasons why people may wish to remain anonymous and some of those reasons could be very personable indeed. And indeed, with identity theft so prevalent these days, I can understand somewhat if people decide to use a fake name. I don’t care that much if they waste my time but I do care if they waste the time of my colleagues who I write to asking for help investigating a complaint or a comment only to find out that the person is a fake as is their complaint.

Yep, the Internet, how did we ever manage without it? Yep, my continuing relationship with the internet has caused me to think what it must have been like to live way back when before ……. well ……..anything was invented.

Imagine if I had wanted to wash my underpants which, back then would have been made out of a scratchy piece of sack cloth, this would have meant that I would have to walk to and from my shack carrying a pail of water back from the village well. And that’s before you’ve tackled the laundering process itself, which consists of hours scrubbing my soiled garments against a washboard and wringing it out. By the time I would have finished ……it’s dinner time…….so after a quick rat on toast, it’s time for bed. Yes, life was simpler back then and stress was a word that wouldn’t be invented for hundreds of years to come, despite the threat of dying of the plague. But in many ways, living back then would have provided a better quality of life than today.

Yes……….computers have helped us on the one hand, but introduced an equal amount of stress on the other. Oh and a quick message to Claudia, I do invite you to step out from behind your computer and shake my hand of friendship and, hopefully, we can work out why you seem to have ants in your pants about me and this great company I work for. You may be scared because some may think you are a troll but don’t worry, we will cross that bridge when we come to it.


Your friend,


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Why 12 year olds should watch Greys Anatomy Wed, 15 Jul 2015 13:39:38 +0000 Continue reading ]]> I met a hero yesterday here on the Carnival Paradise. His name is Alan and he is 12 years old.

It was a meeting by chance after the show last night with his parents, Sally and Anthony, and their eight-year-old daughter, Megan. They came to see me having recognised me from previous cruises. During our conversation I learnt about Alan and what he had done to earn the title I just gave him of “hero.”

It was a story that left me somewhat gobsmacked. Basically, Alan saved his two-year-old sister from choking to death on a piece of popcorn by using life-saving techniques that he’d seen on TV shows. His parents were in other parts of the house and he shouted for them but then realised she could not breathe and, as Alan described it to me, “her face was like a Smurf.” He decided to act and saved Sally’s life.

Listening to his story, I was flabbergasted by Alan’s courage and quick thinking at age only 12.

I mean, when I was 12 the only TV programs I was watching were Space 1999 and Dr Who

Had my younger sister Suzanne been attacked by Daleks I may have been able to save her but popcorn………….ummmmm……………no.

And anyway, what program had Alan watched that enabled him to know what to do. If it was ER or Greys Anatomy all he will have seen would have been a person straddled the victim like a horny yak, making a fist with both hands, then pressing down hard on the sternum while shouting, “Fight, damn it! Come on you bastard, fight! You’ve never quit anything in your life before and don’t start now! Don’t you quit on me, you ungrateful bastard!” until the person springs to life or………they have to tune in next week.

But save her life he did and since hearing that story has had me in awe of him. He was featured in his Indiana newspaper and now here on the blog and tonight he will meet the Captain, have a pho with him and get a goody bag as will his sister………no popcorn, obviously

Time for today’s Q and A………… we go.

Susan Corbett asks:
Hi John: I will be cruising in September on Carnival Triumph as a birthday gift to me. My question is, does Carnival have a photo package? Or is it by the photo? I am working on my budget and need to plan appropriately or give hints for Cruise Cash.

John says:
Hello Susan Corbett

For now we have the package deals on just one ship, Carnival Pride. However I understand that there are plans to add this to other ships in the weeks ahead. I will keep you informed on that and please do have a brilliant cruise and let me know if you need anything. Best wishes.


Chuck Fraser asks:
Hello John: I just read the policy change concerning water being brought on board. My last cruise on Carnival Pride, I brought water and soda onboard and had purchased the same for my upcoming cruise in October. But then I remembered the hassle of lugging it onboard the last time and decided to drink it at home. I purchased a combo water package from the Fun Shops instead. I guess things work out for the best, after all, not that I would have been disappointed. After all, I’m going on an eight-day cruise with best cruise line there is. I’m not going to let a few extra dollars spent take away from a great time. Thanks to you and Carnival for all you do to make for a great cruise experience.

Chuck Fraser

John says:
Hello Chuck Fraser

Thanks for writing and I can tell you that this new policy was met with mostly good reaction; especially at the new price we are selling the water. I hope you have a great time and if there is anything I can do for you please let me know. Best wishes.


Grant O’Donovan asks:
We are back now from a good cruise on the Carnival Fascination. We have one comment to pass on to you and people who may be going on this boat. Our cabin steward _______ was nonexistent. We only know his name from the card on the wall of the cabin. The cabin got cleaned but I wasn’t overjoyed with his service and there was no hair dryer in the cabin, no explanation from him why. I have never removed my tips before and this is my third cruise but I had no choice this time. _________should be removed from the job or demoted because he did not provide the service the other two cruises have.

John says:
Hello Grant O’Donovan

I appreciate you letting me know your thoughts and you are correct, the stateroom stewards are expected to introduce themselves to every guest on embarkation day. Now this is not always possible if guests are out of the cabins which may have been the case here. I should also mention that hairdryers are available upon request. I am sorry to see you removed the gratuity and it is your right to do so despite you mentioning that your cabin was cleaned and tidied. I will pass your comments to the ship’s managers and ask that they work with the cabin steward to help him improve where needed. I hope we see you again very soon and thanks again for the valuable feedback. Best wishes.


Leah Nunes asks:
My mom and me never get to cruise together because she lives in Buffalo and me in Anaheim. We have managed to book a cruise with Carnival on the Inspiration. I am asking for an upgrade because my mom raised me and my brothers with no help from our dad who walked out on her. We have a small inside cabin but would like to have a window room. I work with old people in a retirement community so it would be good for Carnival to give me some kind of reward with an upgrade. Here is the screen shot of our bookings. I am reachable through _________ I cruised with Carnival before in 2010.

John says:
Hello Leah Nunes

I am so glad you are able to cruise again with us and bring Mum too. I am afraid I cannot give you an upgrade but I will see what else I can do to make you both smile. I notice your cruise is this coming week so I am glad you sent me this in time and I am sure you will both have a brilliant cruise together

Best wishes


Jaynendel Vincent asks:
John, just wanted to say how much I appreciate all the flack you take from people over everything you post. You must be a saint and your family must be so proud of you. The water issue is brilliant!! I have already ordered water at the original price. When the price went down I called the Fun Shops and was immediately refunded to me. They were very nice and accommodating and it was so easy to order more. Thanks again for all you do. Looking forward to boarding Carnival Legend to Alaska next Tuesday. Wish you were gonna be there!!!

John says:
Hello Jaynendel Vincent

Your support and kindness is much appreciated. I know sometimes we make changes that some do not necessarily agree with and I always try my very best to listen and understand what people are saying. I am sorry for the late reply to this and hope you had a brilliant time in Alaska. Thanks so much again and I remain here at your service. Best wishes.


Morris Freidan asks:
Why does this cruise line not honor the Jewish faith by having a Rabbi on the Carnival ship during high holidays? I was on the Carnival Valor with my family for Yom Kippur and no Rabbi was available, we were above and beyond angry. We will be on Carnival Breeze for the Sukkot festival in September. Will Carnival guarantee my family and other Jewish passengers a Rabbi to help us celebrate ???!!!

John says:
Hello Morris Freidan

Thank you for cruising with us again and I am sure you and your family are looking forward to another wonderful cruise. Currently, we do not have a religious program where Rabbis, priests or ministers conduct services on the ships. However, if you wish me to help you reserve a room for yourself and other guests to meet and hold a service amongst yourselves, I will be happy to do so. I wish you a wonderful cruise. Best wishes.


Charlene asks:
Are there plans to add a Guy’s Burger Joint to the Carnival Valor or Carnival Splendor by next summer? Does the Carnival Sunshine have one?

John says:
Hello Charlene

Carnival Sunshine does indeed have a Guy’s Burger Joint as does the Carnival Triumph, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Breeze, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Pride, and Carnival Glory. And, of course, the new Carnival Vista will have one as well. Have not heard plans for the Carnival Valor or Carnival Splendor, unfortunately, but will let you know if this situation changes. Best wishes.


Harry asks:
John: I just had to write to tell you about our cruise on Carnival Glory. It was our first cruise as Platinum people and we loved the laundry perk and the cabin surprises. The crew was outstanding. I must mention three people. Mike, the CD, was everywhere. His interaction with the guests was never ending, when does he sleep? LOL. Wifey and me love live music and the piano bar. Chris was excellent and his Elvis night was so much fun. What made our experience even more special was the service from the delightful bar server, Jacinta. She made us feel like we were VIPs and had our drinks ready before we even had time to order them. Her smile and kindness will be something we never forget. We had gotten the Faster to the Fun. That worked out great. We got early tenders as we were supposed to. I will share that siting at the table right beside us was an older couple that came across as aghast that us normal people were cruising with them. We work hard and like to wear relaxed clothing at dinner. However, the “lady” to our right made snide comments each night that she obviously wanted us to overhear. It was a fabulous cruise though and the Glory crew was the best yet. We will be back.

John says:
Hello Harry

I never will understand why some people get upset about what others are wearing and how it spoils their food and service. Oh, well. On a happier note, I am so glad you enjoyed the team and I will make sure that those you mentioned get to read this. I know these people well and, in fact, just mentioned some of them in my Carnival Glory report from last cruise. I will make sure they see this and their mangers do too, they will be thrilled. I hope we see you for many more cruises as you head to Diamond status. Best wishes to you both.


And that’s all for today. I will answer more soon but the best way to get a quick response is to write to me on my page. Thanks to you all for the comments and, of course, for reading this blog.

So hello from the Carnival Paradise where I am watching my great friend and someone who many of you know from my Bloggers Cruises and from features here on the blog. I am talking of course, about the Nathan Lane of cruise directors, a man who has a shrine to The Golden Girls in his cabin and a man with the world’s largest collection of pressed wild flowers, Calvyn Sean Champagne Martens.   And what a pleasure it is to see how much he has grown into the job of cruise directing. There are CDs with more energy, there are CD’s with more poise and grace and there are CD’s who can dance the wobble and stand on a bar counter and lead the atrium in a party that shouts the word “fun” out loud. But are there funnier and wittier cruise directors than Calvyn? Honestly, nope, I don’t think so.

I have been helping him learn the finer points and how to play the CD game and, hopefully, this will help him become one of the very best. During Calvyn’s Welcome Aboard show, he had a single chap on stage for some audience participation. He looked to be in his twenties and when Calvyn asked if he “was looking for love” a lady shot out of her seat as though someone had shoved a cactus up her bottom shouting “I’m a cougar, I’m a cougar” running toward the stage as she screamed this. Now it is only in the past few years that I have started to understand what a “cougar” is but I still don’t understand how in July 2015 a lady shouting “I’m a cougar” can bring 800 people to laugh so loudly.

I guess though it is much more acceptable today than in past years. Back in the day, a 40-something-year-old lady dating a 20-year-old man would have been called disgusting or worse. But today….in these modern times, a woman has become a cougar and having rumpy pumpy with someone many years younger than you is as fashionable as a Gucci bag and a pair of Birkenstocks and no one bats an eye.

Anyway, she ran on stage, tried to jump on the poor 20-something guest and it was quiet a picture watching 6 foot 4 Calvyn stand between this five-foot nothing 40-plus-year-old lady and her would-be prey.

These past two weeks, I have seen Mike Pack and Calvyn Martens, part of the future of Carnival’s cruise directors and I feel proud that they have this chance to shine. Now this may seem a bit like I am giving myself a huge pat on my hairy back and excuse me if it does. You see, back before I was a CD, everyone who had that title was a born entertainer. They were jugglers or singers, magicians or comedians, violin players or ventriloquists. Then along came this British guy who was a bar waiter and who had the talent and show business experience of a chair leg.

One of the guys I used to stand back and watch as a bar waiter was a master ventriloquist called Gary Hunter. He was one of the old school breed of CD’s who spent every minute out in guest areas or on stage. There were no other responsibilities that the CD has now and that have been taken away again by the introduction of the entertainment director back then safety was making sure you moved the bed away from the wall so you didn’t bang your head when you were having rumpy pumpy. High visibility meant standing in full view at the crew bar letting the single crew members buy you drinks all night before showing her your Fun Ship Freddy.

These were the days of the Carnivale, Mardi Gras and the Festivale and the days when the kings of the stage were people like Dave Armor, Malcolm Kennedy, Paul Frankie, Bill Panoff, Bob Hamill and Gary Hunter. I was the first CD for Carnival and I think in the industry that was not a proven entertainer and I like to think that I opened that door for people like Mike and Calvyn, Jaime and Matt, Jen and Jason and all the others who proudly wear the CD badge today and I wish them as much fun as I had entertaining you all….the company is in good hands with them leading the fun.


Your friend,


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Reviews, Waiters, Music……….bugger that – let’s just say it’s a blog with loads of stuff in it! Tue, 07 Jul 2015 21:45:13 +0000 Continue reading ]]> I have never been able to understand anyone of the male species who purchases something for practical reasons. I imagine him to have far too much time on his hands and most likely he is wearing a pair of sandals. How can they spend an entire morning reading online reviews of washing machines? But even worse, who the sodding heck can be bothered to write an online review of a washing machine? They’re all the same. They’re white and boxy and after they’ve finished making your underpants clean, they beep, telling your wife it’s time to empty it and put it in the other white boxy thing next to it that dries the underpants so they are ready to wear for another week or two.

How did our parents ever decide what to buy with no Internet? Yep, times have changed because so many people are so very quick to write a review on everything and anything. I keep being told there are now better phones on the market than my Blackberry (Raspberry), and really couldn’t careless less. Yes, they may have better cameras and battery life and apps and I may be a dinosaur but I don’t care how many reviews there are and I don’t care that I am not a member of the Apple cult and don’t know the secret handshake. I love my Blackberry.

But online reviews are very much part of today and, of course, I include the world of cruising in that. People write reviews here and many on my Facebook page as well as on Carnival’s social media page and on places like Cruise Mates, Cruise Critic and other sites. And these reviews are important, I totally understand this. But what I hate……yes, I used the word “hate” there, not a word I often use but I really do despise reading that the occasional post I receive where someone says that they will “not ever cruise on that ship because of a review I read by someone with the screen name SeeBurp.”

Cruise reviews are so important, they provide praise and they provide a way for us to see what you think is brilliant and what you don’t and the “don’t” is as important as anything. But I ask you to always remember that reviews are personal comments, they are a personal view of the cruise and, of course, for every one negative review, there are so many, many more who had the best of times and yet do not write about it. There is concern about the legitimacy of some reviews on some sites, which I often suspect may have been written by people who didn’t actually cruise on that ship or it has been written by a supporter of a rival cruise line.

So I hope that if you do have time, you can post your review on one of Carnival’s social media sites. Good or bad, they are important to us and using your real name gives that review a huge dollop of credibility and, when deciding on what ship to sail on, I would never suggest you base that decision on just one review.

Most reviews are relevant and useful. Some are not and are as pointless as putting turning signals on cars sold to drivers from Miami.

OK, time for today’s Q and A……………….here we go.

Barbara Gray asks:
Good morning. I am a Gold cardholder and I have a couple of questions. Please forgive me if they have been answered previously. I just found your blog after someone recently told me about it while on Carnival Sunshine (which I loved). 1: Can you try an adults-only cruise. I love children and cruising but the wild kids running around are obnoxious. They take over the pool,

They push all the elevator buttons and misbehave at dinner! I would like an over 18 cruise.

2: Smoking on balconies. Can you try to designate some balconies that allow smoking? You want our money in the casino?????

John says:
Hello Barbara Grey

I guess I should start out by saying that Carnival is proud to be the world’s favourite cruise line for families and I honestly doubt that we will ever go to an adults-only ship. In fact, the only mainstream cruise line I am aware of that does have an adults only vessel is our sister company P&O. While I definitely cannot say we will never have an adults-only ship I can definitely say that the days of smoking on balconies have gone, never to return. It is the way of the world and it is the safe thing and the right thing to do and I say that as a lover of fine cigars. I know that this is not the answer you wanted but I hope we will continue to see you sail with us and one day you will hold Platinum and even a Diamond card. Best wishes.


David Newman asks:
Your Wikipedia page should read: John Heald, someone who knows nothing about cruising. Someone who panders to the cheerleaders to promote his over inflated ego John Heald, someone who, if there was a remake of Bonanza, would be a shoe-in to play “Hoss.”

John says:
Hello David Newman

I loved Bonanza; I have wonderful memories of watching that with my father whom I miss very much. Thank you, then, for reminding me of those special times. That was very kind. Best wishes.


Craig Tompkins asks:
I apologize if this is a repeat, I tried to send a message from my phone in San Juan and I have a feeling it didn’t go thru. We were on Carnival Breeze last week and had a great time on our eight-day cruise. I love the ship and Dr. E was a great cruise director. I’ve sailed with you once and I have to say the two of you are the best two CD’s I’ve had. Anyway, I do have a complaint that I feel Carnival needs to look into. My wife and I had late dinning in the MDR and were sat with three other couples. One couple showed up for only one night and one couple showed up for four of the eight nights. It’s the last couple at the table however that I want to mention. While dinner started at 8:15 p.m. they would enter the dining room between 8:45 p.m. (one night) and 9:15 p.m. (two nights) usually right at 9 p.m. I understand that Carnival wants to be as friendly and cooperative to all guests as possible, but their extremely late arrival interrupts the flow of the meal for the wait staff, guests at their table (us) and guests at other tables having the same wait staff. Their delay caused dinner to run late every night. We even missed the ability to get to the 10:15 p.m. shows on time on two nights. 10 p.m. comedy show? We only made it one time and since we could not get in line early we had to stand at the back. The other times our only option was to enter after the show started or skip it. I really wish that after a certain point (maybe 8:30 p.m. – 15 minutes after scheduled dinning) the hostess would not allow guests in. Give them the option to go to anytime dinning or to eat at any of the other locations on board. There are plenty of them for sure. Or maybe let them in the first time and let them know what time dinner starts and the second time move them to anytime dinning. I understand there are a lot of logistics with just moving guests to different dinning times (or anytime) but there has to be a better way than to allow them to disrupt the wait staff and all of those staffs tables.

Craig Tompkins

13 Carnival Cruises

John says:
Hello Craig Tompkins

Thanks so much for the kind words on Dr. E — or Everson as he is sometimes called. I will pass this on to him and he will be thrilled indeed. I have to agree with you. Unless there are circumstances that are unavoidable, being that late for dinner and thus affecting service is something that should not happen. I will apologise to you for that, I can understand your frustration and it will be addressed I am sure by the hotel director to whom I am sending your post. Thank you for letting me know and I hope you did, this problem aside, have a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.


Lynn Corbyn asks:
I need to get the mini bar emptied for our Carnival Magic cruise on the linked booking number ******. DH is a recovering alcoholic. He cannot and must not have any alcoholic beverages that easy to hand. We have 4 cabins booked on this cruise and I am PLATINUM and so are the Colespears in ****.!!!!.

John says:
Hello Lynn Corbyn

Yes, of course, please do not worry, I am happy to help and understand the importance of this. I see you are not sailing with us until September, so can I ask that so I do not forget to send me this request again to my page or here on the blog again two days before the cruise and I will ask the ship to make it so. If there is anything else I can do please let me know. Best wishes.


Marsha Kirby asks:
Can you help me…just wanting to know who the CD is for November 21 Carnival Glory cruise out of Miami….read it thru the grapevine it could be you? I best get my John Heald fan fans made with the spam can. Hahahaha! Thanks for the gifts for the Facebook group cruise a few weeks ago…..everyone appreciated getting them! You rock!

John says:
Hello Marsha Kirby

You are most welcome and I hope you and your Facebook friends all had a brilliant time together and that there will be a reunion cruise soon. I am afraid the grapevine was wrong. It will not be me who has the honour of being your cruise director. I actually cannot say who it will be just yet because of the changes that are ongoing. However, a new schedule is just around the corner and, the moment, I have it I will post it here. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you and hope to see you soon. Best wishes.


Mayte Cardenas asks:
Hi: We have cruised with Carnival and I don’t think we will ever change. I lost a baby seven years ago. He was born four months too early and passed away. I have my baby’s ashes with me and, since we started cruising in 2013, I have wanted to let my babies ashes go into the sea. My question is does Carnival do a small ceremony before we let go of the ashes into sea? And if it’s permitted? And, if so, what are the requiredments? Thank you. Hope to hear from you soon. We plan to book for next year in April 2016.

John says:
Hello Mayte Cardenas

I write this with a heavy heart full of condolences for the tragic loss of your little one. My thoughts are with you. Please know that I am ready here to make all the arrangements should you wish to scatter your son’s ashes. You do not have to worry about anything, just let me know closer to the time and I will make sure all is ready for you. If there is anything at all I can do please let me know and I will be here for you. Once again, my deepest condolences.


Todd Lehman asks:
This will be our seventh cruise with Carnival coming up in October on Carnival Miracle. This, however, will be the first cruise where Seuss at Sea will be offered. By reading comments on Facebook, the breakfast with Seuss is very popular and don’t want my kids to miss it. What I can’t seem to find is how you sign up for it. Can it be made prior to boarding or is it available from guest services upon boarding? Please let me know so I can make reservations for this as soon as possible.

John says:
Hello Todd Lehman

I actually spoke about this with the beards today and during the summer months with high counts of families and children we will, when needed, repeat the breakfast to make sure everyone who wants to attend can do so. I hope you all enjoy the Green Eggs and Ham and all the fun.

Best wishes.


Kathy Mara asks:
My husband and I both use a mobility scooter. Is the 24-hour pizza station accessible to get to on Carnival Sunshine because we have heard it is not .Do you deliver pizza to the cabins. Is there a charge? Our cruise on Carnival Sunshine is July 10. We would need a table, not a booth, and chairs with no arms, please. It will be my husband’s 40th birthday cruise and we are so excited.

John says:
Hello Kathy Mara

Please do not worry all of our restaurants and food areas are accessible to you. Plus I have asked the maître d for a table, not a booth as you requested. We do not though deliver pizza to the room on this ship, although we are testing it on others. I wish you both a great time together and loads of fun. Best wishes.


Tim Hennessey asks:
Hello John. My wife and three children have one of the new family rooms booked on the Carnival Vista from Athens. Today I read a post on Cruise Critic. The author, SeeBurd, says the Carnival Vista has been seized by the Italian government and no work is being done on her and the ship will not be ready in time. Does this mean our cruise may change? This is making us nervous. We have saved hard for this cruise. Can you let us know what is happening, please, John.

John says:
Hello Tim Hennessey

Please don’t worry. I posted on my page just yesterday photos of your Carnival Vista leaving her dry dock and sailing to her wet dock where the work is continuing. The cruises are as scheduled and I am sure you will enjoy this ship, she is going to be totally brilliant. Best wishes.


That’s all we have time for today and my thanks to everyone who has commented and posted questions here. The blog now has 20 million page views since its inception…more than most washing machines review sites, I think.

I would like to say a big hello to a young lady called Adison. She is just six years old and recently sailed on the Carnival Paradise. Her Mother wrote to me here on the blog and told me that she was sailing to celebrate her birthday. Adison is has a rare condition that means she has to inject medicine four times every day and have a blood transfusion twice a month. She never complains, never cries and is very brave. Her Mum’s post really touched me. Her Mum did not ask me for anything except a private table because of the difficulties Adison has eating, however I spoke to my colleagues on the ship who made the cruise so very special for her and I thank them so very much for all they did. This kind of thing is one of the reasons I am so lucky to have this blog. It is a way for people like Adison’s Mum to let us know about a special person who is sailing and allows me to set the wheels in motion to make their Carnival cruise vacation even more fun and even more memorable. Please do let me know if there is ever anything I can do for you or your family.

In a recent blog, I wrote about our commitment to improving our selection of live music and I wanted to give you a quick update on what has happened in the last three weeks. Unfortunately the beards did not like my idea of putting Peruvian Pipe Bands on Lido and instead we have started to add Caribbean duos. We have them on five ships already and more are coming soon. I know many of you will applaud the return of the sounds of the Caribbean, the sound of the places you are going to as you sit in the sun and listen to Yellow Bird, I Shot The Sheriff, Red Red Wine and I Like Big Bottoms, or is it I Like Big Arses, or I Like Big Buttocks or I Like Kim Kardashian?

Anyway, Caribbean music is definitely coming home to Carnival. There are more party bands than before and, by the way, if you are heading to the Carnival Ecstasy you will see Mambo Magic……..a seven-piece…..yes, seven-piece Latin Band with brass, drums and a female singer who is definitely going to provide some Latin heat. So here I am back on the Carnival Glory, a ship I delivered back in 2000 and something and where the assistant cruise director was a young lady called Heidi Heald.

It is always superb to be back on a ship after a few weeks at home and, again, I am, so lucky to be able to have the best of both worlds spending time at home and time on board. The ship looks great and just two weeks ago Carnival’s President Christine Duffy presented the captain and crew with an award for being rated as the “happiest crew” in the fleet, the second year in a row that Carnival Glory has won this. This tells you the caliber of the crew here and it is evident to me just why they have won that award again.

I will be hosting my Marriage Show tomorrow and then a Morning Show and a Q&A at the end of the cruise. I cherish the times I can get the microphone in my hand and entertain again, I do miss that very much.

Regardless of what menu our ships have, one thing that remains constant is that you, our guests, love the brilliant service and fun provided by the waiters in the dining room. And you know, I noticed something last night that I haven’t noticed before, when you order from one of our waiters, they write what you ordered down on a piece of paper. I say that because I have seen a trend recently in restaurants on land where this does not happen and it drives me stark raving bonkers.

Instead they just stand there, going: “Yes. Yes. Yes. Do you want fries with that?” I always say to myself, “Are you going to remember all this?” Then I worry about what they’re going to tell the chef. If they had written it down, they could give the chef the piece of sodding paper, which he or she could refer to thus making sure that I get my steak well done and not waved under a candle for a few moments so when I cut into it me, table mates and I feel like we are in the middle of a Walking Dead episode.

Waiters should have pads or, if they want to be modern, I guess they can have eye pads but Oh FFS, please Mr. and Mrs. Waiter……… write my order down like they do on the ships.

My diet continues here on the Carnival Glory and I am ignoring the delicious Guy’s burgers and saying “bugger off” to the honey glazed rack of pork and “hello” to the salmon and chicken.

I don’t want to look like an underpant models or Matt Mitcham. I know that my bulbous thighs will never look like theirs again. I just don’t want to carry this overhang of fat, this awning of flesh that my wife grabs with both hands and say “so cute” in her baby voice. I yearn for an end to buying pants and having to make the calculations about under or over my stomach. And so every day I am here on the ship, I will go to the gym and face the horror of a room full of mirrors.

There is an unforgettable moment when every man realises he hates mirrors and never looks at one while breathing out. If I ever get surprised by a sudden appearance of a mirror and I am not prepared with my stomach in……I suddenly see a grey blotchy, lumpy, hunched stranger, who seems to be collapsing forward like a hunchbacked yak. When I was home, my wife suggested that this weight loss and gym obsession was worrying her. She said I was having a mid-life crisis………………I was so shocked by that statement, I almost fell off my skateboard.

Your friend,

]]> 33
Making Home Work – Work Tue, 30 Jun 2015 17:03:23 +0000 Continue reading ]]> That great English tradition has started – no, I’m not talking about the weather. I am, of course, talking about Wimbledon, arguably the top tennis tournament in the world. Are you excited? Some of you are and many definitely are not because, for some, tennis is about as exciting as reading 50 Shades of Grey with all the rumpy pumpy bits taken out. Wimbledon takes it to a whole new level. Hundreds of elderly English people with their sunburn and their emergency wet weather gear sit there eating their cucumber sandwiches and applaud absolutely everything.

They clap for double faults from anyone who is taking on their beloved Andy Murray (who is actually Scottish and has posters of Mel Gibson in Braveheart on his bedroom wall) and when the umpire asks someone to turn off their cell phone, the applause reaches new heights.

Unfortunately, what you have to remember is that Wimbledon attracts enormous television audiences from all over the world. I often wonder what these sophisticated people from abroad are going to think of England when they see some hysterical women applauding and cheering because a sodding pigeon has just landed on center court just as Djockitch is about to serve.

The ladies favourite is, of course, Nadal, who most girls belive to be, “a hunk.” That’s why I rejoice anytime he is beaten by some lanky Ubesikkasistahnian. Then there is Federer who although he has won numerous championships I think is as boring as boring can possibly be.

I often wish that tennis players would lose their tempers more and move into the realms of ice hockey where if they lost a point or the other player hits them in the bollocks with a tennis ball, then they have the right to jump over the net and bludgeon the other one with their racket. And, of course, with Wimbledon will come the multiple requests to show tennis on the big screen which, the two finals aside, we are not going to do. Instead, they will be shown in the sports bars and in other areas of the ship.

I had better go empty the dishwasher as I have promised my wife I would do this for the last three hours and, if I do not do it before she gets back from her grocery shopping, I will be in my own tennis match shouting “new balls, please.” So while I do that, you have a read of today’s Q&A, here we go.

Tori asks:
Hello John: There was a contest on Facebook and the link is down about giving free vacations. Was this true? I wanna know how the names would be published for the winners.

John says:
Hello Tori

I am sorry to say that this was a faux Carnival page and not affiliated with us. We have reported it to Facebook. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.


Erik Dobusin asks:
Looking at the photos of your daughter christening Carnival Vista makes my skin crawl and such is the depth of my resentment I am not sure if I can ever cruise on Carnival Vista. Why was this once in a lifetime opportunity given to a child who deserves it like one of the children at St. Jude’s – a charity your company supports? That would have been the right decision. It would have been a decision that would have gotten you far better press than the daughter of some egotistical cruise director with a small insignificant social media page. I am shaking my head in disbelief that Carnival allowed this — disgusting all around.

John says:
Hello Eric Dobusin

That really makes me sad and I hate so much to make any of our guests feel this way. We already do so much with and so much for our charity partners at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and maybe in future days we can look at including someone who has benefited from the extraordinary facilities there. In fact, the godmother of Carnival Magic was Lindsey Wilkerson whose inspirational story took her from a patient at St. Jude to an executive who christened the ship so wonderfully. The photos, videos and my posts on my blog and on my Facebook page of the coin ceremony attracted over 300,000 views and I am sure there were thousands more who watched and read on other news outlets and saw what I think was the brilliant job Kye did ………. and she is only six years old. The actual godmother of the Carnival Vista has yet to be announced and she will actually christen and name the ship officially. What Kye did was just for the coin ceremony and float out. I hope this explanation helps calm you a little a bit and I hope that we will see you on your Carnival Vista, our best ship ever. Best wishes.


Peter Manzi asks:
Heald: Lots of us are on Cruise Critic and the topic of today is about the steakhouse and tipping the servers. It was suggested that an extra tip not be given in cash because it is supposed to be pooled and the servers cheat each other if actual dollars are given and keep the cash. There were also questions why Carnival will not be upfront and clear on what tip is included in the $35 charge if this is indeed the truth Heald. I eat at least once maybe twice on each cruise up at the steakhouse so I deserve an answer, don’t I? Just like the other Cruise Critic members who were asking.

John says:
Hello Peter Manzi

Thanks for thinking of the servers at our brilliant steakhouses, you are very kind indeed. The $35 does include a gratuity. I am not going to disclose how much but there is a gratuity involved in the $35 charge plus the servers are given salary, of course, by Carnival. As for not tipping in cash because “servers cheat each other if actual dollars are given and keep the cash, “that is simply incorrect in every way. The servers work in pairs and as a team and would never do that — it is a job requirement. But it is also just as important to note that when the bill comes and you pay that the wine steward or bartender or the steakhouse manager is the one to bring the check and punch it through, not the servers. So I thank all our guests who do think that the food and service at our steakhouses deserve an extra tip and, most of all, I hope you enjoy many more great experiences at our steakhouses. Best wishes.


Stewart Hicks asks:
Need to know the comedians on our Carnival Dream 7/12 cruise. Who are they?!?!

John says:
Hello Stewart Hicks

You will be brilliantly entertained by Arvin Mitchell, Steven Quezeda, Mark Simmons and Tim Cavanagh. Have a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.


Laura Sergent asks:
Hello, do you have any more info on what ship Kevin Donahue will be on after November?

John says:
Hello Laura Sergent

Thanks for asking, I am sure he will be thrilled to know someone was asking what ship he will be on. We have not yet completed the CD schedule for 2016 and, when I do have an updated one, I will post it here on the blog so please, stay tuned. Best wishes.


Michelle jones asks:
Hello….would like to find out the name and location of pier for my January 2016 Carnival Pride cruise that stops in San Juan…THANKS. Happy sailing to you!!!

John says:
Hello Michelle Jones

I am afraid that docking information is not released this far in advance by the port authority. However, for the most part, she docks at the San Juan cruise terminal north in Old San Juan. I hope this helps somewhat and let me know if I can help you further. Best wishes.


Lainey Adelstein asks:
I am not an experienced Carnival cruiser but I am told you are the man, John – the big cheese, the big kahuna!! Please then can you help me with something because I am trying to repair a friendship so if you can hear me out and hopefully help me out. I want to tell you about my best friend __________. We went to college together at Texas A & M and became firm friends and it stayed that way after we both graduated. Some weeks ago we were texting. I asked her how her boyfriend ———- ————- was doing. Her reply said that he was not her boyfriend anymore.

Without much thought I told her that I was happy he was not her boyfriend anymore because he was self-centered and obtuse. Her reply text said he is not my boyfriend anymore — he is my fiancé!

She has barley spoken to me since and I am devastated. I have tried to repair our friendship but it has been one-way traffic. Her mom told me that on July 5 they will both be on a Carnival cruise on the ship Carnival Magic. She also told me about you and how you helped her John with a problem she had on her cruise and she suggested I write to you with the idea we talked about because she really wants our friendship to get back to the way it was. The idea is that I send a video apology you can play it on the jumbo screen. Is this possible? What format and how do I get it to you???? I feel such a schmuck and am heartbroken. Can you help???

John says:
Hello Lainey

I can imagine how awful you must feel and I think it is admirable that you are trying to fix this situation and rejuvenate your friendship. A video message is not possible and not something we really should as a cruise line get in the middle of, I am sure you will understand why. However, I will send her a bottle of champagne and some chocolate strawberries with a note that simply says: “Sorry, your friend always – Lainey.” Fingers crossed that she will use this to toast what I truly hope will be a friendship reborn. Best wishes.


Jacinda Collymore asks:
Hello, John. Back in 2001 my sister and I cruised on Carnival Triumph and met you and you picked my sister, Jade, to be in a skit with you. She was asleep, remember John? If not see it here because someone filmed it and put it on YouTube. You made my sister so famous that in the islands she was having photos taken. Jade has completed her 10 years in the United States Army and to celebrate our families are cruising on Carnival Fascination on July 9. Thank you, John, for the laughs and for making my sister who will still call Mary a star something she will never forget we wish you were cruising with us.

John says:
Hello Jacinda Collymore

What a wonderful memory and what a star your sister was. Please would you thank her for the service she continues to give and I will make sure I send her something to reflect that. I wish you all a brilliant time together and loads of fun. Best wishes.


Anna Hoult asks:
Bringing to your attention the dissatisfaction on Cruise Critic message boards of giving beggars and cheerleaders ships on sticks when they are not earned. This was recently shared on the Cruise Critic message boards. Who cares if it is a birthday or a graduation blah blah. I am platinum I play by the rules and try and win a trophy, not beg you for one. I guess those of us who play by the rules are punished. Really wanted to win one for my collection on Carnival Sensation cruise but won nothing. But my head is held high because I refuse to beg you for one. You need to stop handing these out because it is upsetting loyal customers!!!

John says:
Hello Anna Hoult

The trophies are still so popular and, after all these years, this is great to read. I do send trophies to people who are celebrating a special occasion and who ask me and it really does no harm in doing so, there really isn’t. It is the little things like this that really can put the icing on the cruise cake, so I will keep doing it because simply, it makes people smile. Please know you can always ask me for one and I want to thank you also for your loyalty and long may that continue. Best wishes.


That’s all for today and thanks so much for all the comments and, of course, for reading my musings here on the blog.

It is actually easier for me to write blogs when I was a proper cruise director, living on a ship for a few months at a time, not just material-wise but because on the ship I have a pattern, a time plan. I used to write early in the morning while most guests were still asleep and dreaming of their next chocolate melting cake. Then I would write after midnight while guests were in the casino, at the Punchliner Comedy Club or gyrating in the nightclub trying to impress young men whose pants are down by their knees and who in turn were being drooled over by herds of cougars. Yep, I found a way to balance writing my blog and keeping up with thousands of people on Facebook as well as making sure I had lots of stage time and I was accessible to the guests.

Working from home is not so easy. It really isn’t. Yes, on paper it sounds good. Some think it is a license to take loads of time off to watch Game of Thrones and The Real Housebitches of Plastic Surgery County. Yep, the boss cannot see what you’re doing so you do what you want, have a two-hour lunch break, take a nap and have mid-afternoon rumpy pumpy. Trust me, that theory is total bollocks.

I think I work harder and for longer from home than I do when I was on a ship. However, as I sit here in my underpants which, of course, if I did in the Miami HQ offices, wouldn’t go down too well with Bianca in accounting. I can’t help thinking if working from home is the future for many jobs, yes, even yours.

With Eye pads and lap tops in most households these days, it means people can work from anywhere, so does location really matter if the job gets done? If Carnival had everyone work from home wouldn’t more work get done?

There would be no being stuck in traffic on I-95, no lunch breaks, bugger all water-cooler gossiping about how Mark in hotel operations has terrible flatulence. And most of all, there is no getting ready in the morning. I get out of bed and waddle in my underpants straight to the computer and not having to dress for success each day would produce another hour’s work for the men and three hours or more for women.

“What about meetings,” I hear you cry? Working from home, you couldn’t attend the meetings. “Bloody brilliant,” I say because the world, including the world of Carnival, has gone meeting mad and if you do insist in having meetings then we have Skype, of course.

I guess though it all comes down to whether your boss trusts you to get the job done from home or not. One of the problems is that changing to working at home does mean agreeing to rules on interruptions. There have, therefore, been no high heels and suspenders moments but it wasn’t for want of trying, but my wife, Heidi, said the suspenders didn’t suit me, and the high heels were a health and safety issue and frightened our dog.

Anyway, on Thursday I will leave the bosom of my family and off I go to Miami and join the Carnival Glory for the July 4 cruise and then onto the Carnival Paradise to see, help, advise and have fun with my good friend and Cruise Director Calvyn Martens. I will be writing some old style blogs from these ships and sharing with you what the guests are enjoying and maybe what one or two are not. So please join me here on my blog and on my page.

I will be sailing a lot more over the coming months with some Carnival Journeys to host plus of course, more Carnival Vista filming, a cruise director conference on September 25 and maybe one or two other ship visits. Meanwhile I will be working on my blog and, of course, on my Facebook page from home and I really do encourage more of you to work from home too. If you decide to do this, here are some of the guidelines I suggest you follow.

 You must do the following

  • Ring your boss from bed as soon as the alarm goes off — all the better if you wake him or her up.
  • Continue to email and Skype your boss at least three times a day, even if you have bugger all to report.
  • Mute the TV before answering a ringing phone. Your boss will not appreciate hearing “winter is coming John Snow” or “and this stunning set of Ginsu knives is yours for only $44.99 if you call now.”

You must not do the following –   Boast that you’ve just watched all five seasons of Game of Thrones in three days

  • Make your six-year-old daughter act as a secretary. It may help you feel like an executive, but she will not be ready for the job.
  • Stand up during telephone conferences — your mostly white underpants will become visible to all.

The other good thing about working from home is you don’t have to worry about what to wear. And although I am often found writing wearing only my underpants, when I do get dressed, I tend to wear whatever happens to be nearest to the bed and don’t really care if my socks don’t match. The other day, by mistake, I went took Kye to school wearing odd sneakers.

That’s it for another blog; the next one will be live from the Carnival Glory as we celebrate the 4th of July and eight days of fabulous cruising together.

First of all, I have to renew my ESTA Visa to allow me travel to the United States. This means I have to state I have no convictions for drug smuggling, that I am not wanted by any known law enforcement agency and that on my trip to Miami that I am not going to be carrying any snails.

It doesn’t mention lions or scorpions or rabid yaks……….just snails. I wonder why? The problem is that it is summer here in the UK and we have lots of snails in our back garden. My daughter loves anything that is an animal and keeps bringing the snails indoors in a box and feeds them bits of fruit. This morning one of her snails who, for some reason, she called Rosie escaped and its whereabouts are unknown. So if you read about a chubby grey haired brand ambassador of a cruise line being arrested at Miami airport by a guns-drawn, anthrax-protocol biohazard suited Defcon 1 lockdown SWAT team…………… will know that Rosie has been found.


Your friend,



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My Dad’s Drawers Tue, 23 Jun 2015 15:25:42 +0000 Continue reading ]]> I know this is supposed to be a cruise-related blog and for people clicking on this page for the first time, I welcome you and assure you cruise-related business is the normal conversation here and I will return to it a bit later in this episode.

However, I hope you will excuse me if I put into words something that has been on my mind these past couple of days. The subject is my dad, a subject that I think about every day, more so this past Sunday which, of course, was Father’s Day. For those who may have just joined me, let me mention my dad passed away a year and half ago leaving his bride of 54 years, me, my sister and three grandchildren missing him more than I have the ability to describe. This past Sunday, I had to go into his office/study, something I have purposely avoided as much as I could over the past months, unless requested by mum, to fiddle and check on an insurance file or some banking in one of the files he kept so meticulously.

The reason I went in there on Father’s Day and I sat for a few minutes in his study – which was a combination sanctuary, office, man cave, shrine to Carnival Cruise Line surrounded by Carnival photos and awards, a shrine to my sister and her achievements, a shrine to cricket — a game I would need three years to explain to my American readers – and, most of all memories of his grandchildren. I realise that in the midst of death, life must go on. But for whatever reason, I have hated, yes hated, to have to go in to his office. It was strange then that I found myself for no apparent reason started to examine the contents of the office. Examine as in – and I feel sodding awful for saying this – throw some of those contents in the garbage and shredding the old bank documents, etc.

As I started to do this, I knew well enough that dealing with these memories wasn’t going to be an easy task for me. My dad, Neville or “Nev,” as he preferred, lived, recorded and archived his life in woodwork and on paper. Not exclusively on paper – he also maintained a mean toolshed: nails and screws of varying types and lengths precisely housed and labelled and a selection of tools, some handmade woodwork planes by a chap called Norris which I know he saved hard for and one I had bought him for his 70th birthday. My Dad could turn a few lumps of old wood into an Edwardian desk that would make anything from IKEA look shoddy and cheap. He was a craftsman and he taught boys how to be a craftsman for 30 plus years at Southend High School for Boys. He tried to teach me woodwork but it would be as pointless as a snooze button on a smoke detector.

As I went through each drawer in my dad’s study, I was not in the least bit surprised that all his letters, paid bills and correspondence in the desk he built himself desk were in perfect order until the day he had passed away. After that, the letters and correspondence were in a big pile in the corner of his desk, something that would have driven him stark-raving bonkers. After 79 years of life and the inability to throw away even the smallest item, my dad had amassed a sensational amount of books, model steam trains, photos, letters and enough stationery to stock an Office Depot mega-store. There is a 1997-vintage photocopier. A selection of cricket and steam train videos, not DVDs, videos and 78, yes 78 model steam engines and 45 models of Old London buses beautifully arranged in wooden showcases made, of course, by my dad, with love. I think if the truth be told, my Mum would like the office cleared and turned into an empty room. Dad spent so much time there that I think this room more than any other in her house is the toughest one for her to be in.

So now I have to decide what to do with all of it, and I can’t deny I don’t even know where to start. I was daunted beforehand – and I was right to be. The desk alone – coins, cheque stubs, accounts, photos, camera bits, pens, keys, wallets, you name it – looks like several days’ work that I would have to do. Fascinating work, emotional work. Work I will, however, carry out, as my father’s son, and because he worked hard to accumulate it all, and because if it’s in his office, he will have had a good reason for it to be so.

And to bring light to what was a bit of a dark day for me, in one of his desk drawers, I found a wooden key ring I bought him at the craft market in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. It was beautiful handmade and hand turned carving of a Rastafarian and when you pulled the key chain…….his gentleman’s sausage would pop up. My dad loved it……….actually, no, he didn’t but it is at least another memory of a great man who gave me so much.

Cheers, Dad…………..I miss you.

Time for today’s Q and A……………….off we go.

Lance Hansen asks:
Just off the Carnival Magic and still stunned there was no COUNTRY MUSIC!!! Texas is the heartland of America and mainstream country is the music of America. I found it offensive both to Texans and to the military that there was no country band on the ship. Every ship Carnival has and, I think you have lots, should have a country band.

John says:
Hello Lance Hansen

I do hope that you enjoyed the cruise and that the disappointment of not having a country band playing all country music did not stop you enjoying the food and service and the fun. I know the ship has two guitar soloists and duo and a party band that will play country music by request. It is important when we have these discussions to remember that we only have the cabins we have. By that I mean the entertainment department has a certain budget and that budget is based on the number of beds we have to fill. If we were to add a country band that plays country music all the time, then we would have to remove the party band that plays such a wide selection of music. I hope this explains why we have the choice we do and I will be writing more about live music shortly. I hope we see you again very soon and thanks for writing to me. Best wishes.


Javier Vega asks:
Why do you keep saying how important it is to meet your cabin steward? My wife and I were on the Carnival Fascination in April for our anniversary and our steward was a ghost. The room was clean and tidy and he did everything he needed to do but we never saw him. I wrote this on a Cruise Critic review and there were some answers to me saying how angry that would have made them and one told me I should have complained and asked for some money back!! Why? He was a ghost, but also an incredible room steward. I am interested to see your take on this please. Why do passengers want to actually see their stewards and interact with them? I’m fine talking to them or never seeing them. As long as things go well, I’m happy.

John says:
Hello Javier Vega

That’s a great post and a fascinating question. I will bring this up for general discussion on my Facebook page and see what everyone has to say. I, in turn, will mention that the cabin steward is supposed to introduce him or herself to you on embarkation day/evening as part of his regular duties. After that, it is often down to chance if you see them as it depends if they are in your cabin area when you leave and or return. Most of the cabin stewards have the ability to detect when a guest is leaving and will come out of the cabin they are cleaning if they hear you leave yours. Interacting is important to many guests and so it should be, it is enjoyed by both parties I think plus it would be ridiculous of me not to mention doing so helps with the cabin stewards gratuities. I hope that helps with some kind of answer for you and please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with. Hope we see you again very soon. Best wishes.


Terry asks:
John, you mentioned you would be on the Carnival Journeys and I’m wondering if you mean all of them? We are on the January 31 sailing on Carnival Miracle – would love to cruise with you!

John says:
Hello Terry

I will be on the first two on the Carnival Dream and it is my intention to be on many more. I will confirm my schedule as soon as I can and I do hope to see you there. Please let me know if there is anything I can help with. Best wishes.


Julie Elkin asks:
Hi John. This is our first time on Carnival and we are about to go on Carnival Sunshine. If we do not want to go to the formal nights are there other dining options apart from the chargeable restaurants? Also, when is Carnival Sunshine getting the Fun Hub? Thank you. Juls

John says:
Hello Julie Elkin

Yes, of course, so please do not worry. Remember the choice to dress elegantly is yours as it is your vacation after all. You can wear more casual clothes that night, just no shorts and T-shirts. If you wish, you will have dinner served on Lido from 5:30 – 9 pm and various outlets there providing you lots of choices. I hope you will have a wonderful time…..actually, I am sure you will and if you need anything or have any other questions, I am here or on my page. Wishing you the best of times. Best wishes.


Max Wooten asks:
Do you have to be fat and obese to be a Carnival John Heald cheerleader??? I always see the fatties comments salivating over the burgers and prime rib not asking for nutrition information. Why is nowhere I can find nutrition info for the different meals in the dining room, buffet, etc.? I track calories and macronutrients. I bet you do not even know what they are. They should be available on the menus many of my local restaurants are already doing. Asked on the Carnival Freedom and last week on the Carnival Sensation but nobody knew. Also, the same meal can vary greatly in calories depending on how it is made and the specific ingredients. Carnival this is common sense, really.

John says:
Hello Max Wooten

Let’s ignore the first couple of sentences, shall we, and put that down to frustration on not being able to see the nutrition information on our menus which is happening at some landside restaurants now I see. Meanwhile, on your next cruise, please feel free to ask the waiter for the menu for dinner for the following night, have a think about what you want to have and the waiter will ask the chef for the information you need. I am sorry it was not shared with you on your past two cruises with us. Obviously, there are far too many items for me to list here but if you have specific questions on menu items, please do let me know. Thanks and hope to see you soon. Best wishes.


Dana asks:
Morning John! I’m very excited to share that my husband and I have just booked a cabin (#2222) on the fabulous Carnival Freedom for November 12 this year. It will be our 13th Carnival cruise. Even more special is the fact that we’ll be bringing along our two foster sons, each of whom will be celebrating his birthday aboard! This will be their first cruise, and I can’t think of a more wonderful birthday present for them. One rather important question: During embarkation, will Carnival staff accept our placement paperwork and a good copy of their birth certificates as identification? Foster children rarely have original birth certificates available through Child Protective Services. Thanks for your insight. Dana

John says:
Hello Dana

How wonderful. I have such admiration for any foster parents and I am sure you have given these young men a wonderful life. Please do bring the official placement papers and a copy of the birth certificate and that will be fine. Please also send me your cabin number the day before the cruise on so I can send them a little birthday something. Best wishes to you all.


Carol O asks:
Hello John, Taking your lead, I am writing to you in my underpants. I am a 69-year-old solo woman cruiser who has been cruising for 35 years. I am taking my first Carnival cruise on Freedom, August 29. I will be solo and won’t know anyone aboard. I selected second seating dining (8:15 p.m.) table for eight. Does Carnival arrange for older solo cruisers to dine at the same table? That might be too much to ask for. Just a little concerned at being out of place at my table. Any suggestions? Thank you, love your blog and follow you on FB.

John says:
Hello Carol O

And let me start by saying that my reply is also following your dress code, as well. Thanks for making me smile and may I ask that four days before the cruise via my Facebook page please would you send me your dining request to be seated with others and I will ask the maître d’ to make it so. Thanks so much and I wish you the best of times and am here if you need anything. Best wishes


Dustin McCoy asks:
Hi John, my wife and I are looking to book our next cruise, would you recommend booking with a Carnival PVP or through the website. What are the advantages of a PVP? Thanks!

John says:
Hello Dustin McCoy

I think many people reading this will tell you that the expert advice provided by our valued travel agent partners and our PVPs can make a real difference to your cruise. They are the ears and eyes on specials, discounts and can do all the legwork to find the right cruise for you with the right cabin and so much more. Please have a think about that and if there is anything at all I can do I am here for you. Best wishes.


Karen Sykes asks:
Has Carnival ever thought about holding a teen pageant contest during a cruise? I think this would be an awesome thing to do, like Miss America’s Outstanding Teen. With lots of teens on your boats there would be some big turnouts and what great entertainment for the passengers. You could give free cruises to the winners. Count my daughter in on this when we cruise on the Triumph on August 8. Awesome idea, right? Please respond if Carnival is going to do this so we can prepare.

John says:
Hello Karen Sykes

While I think there would be some who may enjoy this, I do have to respectfully say that this is not something we are able to do. Not only would this be challenging from a logistical standpoint, the cruises are all about fun and however we did this, I think some would take it very seriously and the fun part may be forgotten. I want to wish you a brilliant cruise and there will be a superb variety of entertainment on board and, of course, loads of fun for you and your family. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.


Pat Piscopo asks:
Which ship is Jaime Dee on now? She was on Carnival Sunshine!!!!!!!!!!!! Who will be the cruise director on Carnival Sunshine Feb. 13, 2016?

John says:
Hello Pat Piscopo

Jaime is on the Carnival Sunshine until her vacation in a couple of weeks’ time. She will return to that ship in September. We have not done the 2016 schedule yet, Pat, and as soon as it’s ready I will post it here.


Frank Albauer asks:
Faster to the Fun!! Last year I booked this 10 months in advance. I booked a cruise for February 14 on the Carnival Magic it’s not available yet! It hasn’t been put out yet. Is there a policy change? Thanks, john!!

John says:
Hello Frank Albauer

This should be there now and, if not, will be there by the end of July, so please do keep checking. Please also let me know if you need anything else before you cruise. Have a great time.

Best wishes.


That’s all for today. The blog has received an average of 40,000 views each time one has been posted and that has brought with it lots of comments and questions. I will then try and answer as many as I can as quickly as I can but I remind you that questions can also be asked on my page too.

So tomorrow I will fly to Italy and the town of Trieste where your Carnival Vista is under construction. Please check back here in the next couple of days for some video footage of what will happen and more news on our incomparable ship……….sorry………..your incomparable ship.

I want to introduce you to the name Eddie Castro. He is our new music manager and he and his team under the guidance of our senior entertainment beard Sara are adding more and more live music to our fleet of ships. Eddie worked with me as a musical director and we delivered the Carnival Breeze together and he loves live music………he truly does. I love live music, too, and in that Eddie and I are joined at the hip. Now I should say that Eddie is a proper musician unlike me because after half a lifetime of consistent failure I knew I was not born to be a musician. I suppose I should have seen the signs at the age of eight, when I attended Heycroft Junior School in Essex, UK. Like most of the kids in the UK, we were issued with a Dolmetsch recorder. I remember all the other kids could play a tune, while my own instrument emitted nothing but a sound similar to a constipated mouse trying to take a dump and produced a worrying quantity of warm spit.

The recorder, I decided, was pretty much a girly instrument so, by the age of 11, I was playing with the trombone. Sometimes, I would blow so hard into the mouthpiece that I saw stars and nothing would come out except a sound that can only be described as a wet fart.….you know the one all of us do after sitting at the meal table for hours eating everything in sight and then, finally, we stand up and…..bweeeeeeep. After a while, I laid the trombone aside, consoling myself with the thought that you never saw a trombone player in a rock band. So I took up the bass guitar. One year later I was fired from my mate’s rock band on the not unreasonable grounds that I was the only would be bass guitarist in history who could not play the opening bars of Smoke on the Water. But on the ships we have and always will support live music, however, it worries me that kids of future generations will one day believe all music comes from an Eye Pod thingy and not from the hearts and minds of brilliant live musicians.

Eddie has already overseen the addition of party bands on the ships and returning the likes of those Carnival household names like Blood Power, Music Unlimited and, beginning in September, the brilliant band Blackjack returns to Carnival Dream. There are party bands in the RedFrog Pub and romantic music in the lobby. There is Cuban/Latin music in the Havana Bar and soon you will hear much more Caribbean and Calypso music on the Lido and, indeed, in the atriums as you board the ships.

And as I sit here writing in my underpants to you there is another team currently making their way around the fleet………the sound patrol. This is a group of technicians and music supervisors who are going ship to ship to check the volume of all our live and indeed recorded performances covering the theatre, lounges and Lido. Some of you may not realise that we have standards set by the beards as to what volumes we can run shows, music, movies, etc. We do — sometimes they are full in their volume and, yes, I know that some people don’t appreciate that very much. I am fully sympathetic that as you get older your hearing becomes more sensitive or in my case, disappears. I say disappears but that’s not really true. What I will say is that it seems to me that movies and TV these days are made in such a way that many of us have no idea what the heck is being said. I was on a flight last month from London to Miami and decided to watch an in-flight movie: American Sniper. But even though I was using an expensive pair of those noise- cancelling headphones, I could not make out a single word that anyone said. Every actor whispered.

But back on the ships, our team will check all the levels and will make sure that all of our shows and musical performances are set to a comfortable level for all without losing the energy in the room that a good, solid, full sound always gives. May I give our guests some advice? Before you sit down, in the main lounge especially, look up and if you see a speaker right above your head or on a pole (structural pole not on an actual person from Poland). I would suggest you move away to a different seat if you do have sensitive hearing. Once again, I wanted to say how committed we are to live music and you will be seeing that commitment for yourself on your next cruise.

Well, this time tomorrow, I will be on a Ryan Air flight to Trieste, Italy, to see your Carnival Vista. I will be joined by Peter the Hair who will be filming loads of footage and interviews with me and, of course, and a special guest and I will be Facebooking photos from the ship daily and reporting on the coin ceremony.

Ahh yes, Ryan Air, an airline that should be renamed “Oh FFS Airlines.” Yes, I know they are cheap……………but there are so many rules and so many short cuts that past flying experiences with them have made my hemorrhoids flare. Their sandwiches cost about the same as the flight and are so refrigerated you may as well chew on a lump of frozen yak scrotum.

Yes, you’re right; here goes the chubby grey-haired wanker moaning again about flying. I know Carnival is paying for my flight but it’s not the money I am moaning about……it’s well …. let me explain. I believe that flying with Ryan Air is the perfect way of deterring everyone but the most determined traveler from ever setting foot on a plane. My previous flights with them have me getting off the plane feeling like the unlikely offspring of Charlie Sheen and Lady Ga Ga.

I have in recent flights to the Carnival Pride and Carnival Legend, been able to upgrade to business class thanks to my frequent flying points. So I am aware that something infinitely more agreeable exists in the air. Soft pillows, unlimited bottled water (I am Platinum……..with British Airways) exotic nuts and a good chance of sitting next to Megan Fox in tight jeans. I have mostly flown coach across the Atlantic which is purgatory, no more than a waiting room for the true hell of flying Ryan Air where the only nuts I will be served will be crushed ones, mine ………… I try and fit into a seat designed for Tyrion Lannister.


Your friend,


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A Beautiful Vista of Your Carnival Vista Thu, 18 Jun 2015 17:50:50 +0000 Continue reading ]]> If you had been reading my Facebook page the other day, you might remember someone writing to me and suggesting that, when people are late coming back to the ship in Cozumel that the staff should walk down the pier and check the bars to see if we could spot someone enjoying a bucket of margaritas, oblivious to the fact that big white thing is sailing away without them and their clean underwear.

Yep, Cozumel, Mexico – a favourite port for the cruise industry and the many tens of thousands of guests who disembark there each and every week. I have been going to Cozumel for many years on the Holiday, Jubilee and Celebration, both in the early days and then later and before the word “Carnival” was painted on the hull of Ecstasy and Sensation and then every other ship throughout the fleet. Cozumel has been a port I have got to know so very well.

There have been many changes over the years, though, and the one small shopping complex of maybe six or seven shops has grown into a hundreds of duty free stores, jewelry shops, silver emporiums and T-shirt stores where signs proclaim that “everything is nearly free.” There are also a number of drug stores that some of you may have even visited. There are huge signs that state that you can buy just about anything over the counter, even Viagra. These drug stores seem to be do great business every time I have passed by and I always wondered exactly what people were buying. Back on the Carnival Triumph some years ago I saw one man coming out the shop looking very pleased with himself and I guessed that he and hopefully his wife would be happy with his purchase later that night………..I saw him later that night on the ship and said to him, “What’s up”? Needless to say, he didn’t laugh.

Every time I return to Cozumel, passing by the old shops that have been there since the late 1980s memories came flooding back. In those days the ships would stay until 2am and after I had finished pretending to know about wine in the dining room, my friends and I would rush ashore, jump in a cab and pay $1 per person to go to a club called Neptunos where entrance was free to all the crew and Corona beer was 50 cents a bottle. I have to admit those were different days back then. The sad fact is that now in 2015 I have very few people left to remember those wild times with as most who shared them with me have left the company.

Then there are the taxis in Cozumel, the same ones that will ferry guests to the beaches and downtown this year as they did back in the 90s. I love all things cars and I like to think I know a bit about them, however, over the years I have tried to work out exactly what make of car they use for Cozumelian taxis. I mean, they have four doors, four wheels and make a sort of a car noise but it is as though they have been made by a factory that was too embarrassed to put its name on the vehicle.

One thing that so many Cozumel taxis have in common is the seat covers because the plastic vinyl in so many of these cars have been replaced with old-style Carnival towels……. circa early 1990s. Now, these were given to guests to go ashore and to use at the beach and remember, there was no charge if they didn’t bring them back. There was no inventory back then. I cannot imagine how much money we lost in beach towels back then because many of these, pale blue towels are still in the taxis of Cozumel.

There are guests who sometimes scoff at the fact that we charge $22 for non-returned towels but here these cabs still today is proof positive that we are right to do so. These towels were left in the back of Jose’s taxi many years ago by someone who had just drunk 12 margaritas and was never going to remember who he was and what ship he was on, let alone remember the towel that Jose’s passengers’ bottoms now sit on. It’s strange but today we still have the odd guest who may drink a barrel full of margaritas and, like our 1990’s friends, won’t remember their name or cabin number but you can rest assured they will have that towel with them clutching it as though it had been woven from pure gold, determined never to have to be charged for losing it.

Many people have a favourite restaurant in Cozumel. There is Pepe’s Grill and La Chosa downtown and then on the Puerta Maya pier there is Three Amigos. Of course, Carlos and Charlie’s and Senior Frogs remain very popular. My favourite was always Pancho’s Backyard which can be found inside a massive souvenir store called Los Cinco Soles (they also have one on the Puerto Maya pier too). Los Cinco Soles is of course Spanish for “made in China.”

I have been going to this restaurant for many years simply because it has the best guacamole on the island. The only thing that has changed is the price. The cruise industry has helped Cozumel become a vibrant island full of enterprise. They have lashings of Hard Rock Café and McDonald’s and big gleaming five-star hotels. But the days of having lunch at a restaurant there for under $10 and the days of a lobster dinner for $20 with wine have long gone. Cozumel, like it or love it, has certainly changed.

I have digressed completely from the question at the start of my blog about we should send people to check the bars? Obviously, we cannot do that — time, resources and quite honestly the fact that people should be responsible for their own actions, mean we won’t do this. But even at Carlos and Frogs Amigos things have changed. Margaritas were $2 back in the early 1990s and now they are much, much more. Oh, and one other change, back in the early 1990’s, the legal drinking age in Cozumel was………. I have no idea, could have been anything. It is a fun island and still a massive favourite but if there is one island more than any that has changed in my 29 years in the cruise industry, it is Cozumel. And, honestly, I am not totally sure it has changed for the better.

Time for today’s Q and A……………off we go.

Christy asks:
John: We are sailing on the Carnival Breeze June 28. Do you know the movie line up? We were curious as to what will be playing? Thanks.

John says:
Hello Christy

Not yet I am afraid as this will be the start of July’s movies and I do not have the list just yet. I will publish it on my page as soon as I do receive it. I wish you a wonderful cruise and loads of fun. Best wishes.


John Ryan Johnson asks:
I know it’s a long shot, but is there any way to get Robert Berhalter on Carnival Glory for the March 5, 2016, sailing? It would be awesome! Reunion cruise with several people who met on the Carnival Dream in March 2013 when it was stuck in St. Maarten. He played that week and we loved him.

John says:
Hello John Ryan Johnson

Obviously, moving crew around the fleet on the request of our guests is very difficult as I am sure you understand. However, I will be asking the entertainment schedulers to see if this is something they can consider. I don’t want to raise your hopes but we will try. I am glad to know that he made such a difference to your time on the ship and I do hope you get to sail with him again. If there is anything else I can do, please let me know. Best wishes.


David Mason asks:
On one level, I feel sorry for you, Heald. You are, obviously, going off the Carnival rails but mostly, I have disdain over your inflated ego. Case in point my request to you for a table for two on our cruise on the Carnival Imagination that was ignored. Maybe you did that because I did not stroke your ego enough, right? I will give you a chance to redeem yourself. My DW of eight years and I will be cruising on Carnival Magic in cabin **** on August 9. We do not want to eat with others so again I am asking for A PRIVATE TABLE FOR 2. Can you tell me who the maître d is and what time we can get a first tender to the shore as we have a private excursion at 9:15 am!!! How do we do this? I hope you will show me that you are able to help your customers like you always say you do.

John says:
Hello David Mason

I do apologise that I missed your request. I answer and help so many each week and, occasionally, some do slip through the cracks. I would ask that you remind me of your table request four days before your August cruise via my Facebook page and here on my blog so that this time I am sure to see it and I will do all I can for you to arrange your table. I wish you both a great cruise and my apologies for letting you down. Best wishes.


Christine asks:
Hi John: I have a question for you regarding the new policy and the VIFP party. In September we will be sailing on the Carnival Breeze for an eight-day cruise. When we board we will have 69 days, so during the cruise, we will make platinum. Pending on the date of the party, will we be invited if it’s on or after our 75 day, or because we boarded as Gold, will we have to wait till our next cruise (on Carnival Vista)? Can you clarify that on your Facebook page so others can benefit, as well? Thanks.


John says:
Hello Christine

Many congratulations. You will receive your Platinum card on the first day of the cruise and you will, indeed, be invited to our new VIFP party. Please let your friends know this and if you have any questions I will be here. Have a brilliant time. Best wishes.


Judith Shockley asks:
I wrote you two weeks ago and also to Carnival. I still have not got a reply! We were on Carnival Valor for eight days on April 17. I had an experience with another passenger who kept knocking on my door saying that his key fit my door while I was napping during the day because I don’t sleep well at night. This happened for a couple of days. I went to the service deck and their response was “Oh that must be Bobby.” So I guess I was not the only one he was bothering.  They could not move my room and I wouldn’t anyway but there was no other offer of any compensation for the inconvenience.

John says:
Hello Judith Shockley

I apologise for the delay in writing back to you and I will investigate this with the ship and see what the story is from their side. It sounds to me (and this may be an assumption) that the guest may have had special needs or been a little confused. I will investigate and I apologise if you were disturbed. I do hope you had a wonderful cruise and if there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know. Best wishes.


Walter Carr asks:
I have a request/question. Can you ask the powers that be to start carrying spray starch in the gift shop along with the laundry powders? We plan our travel so that we can generally get to a CVS or Walgreens before we board the ship. If we want to fly in the same day as departure this becomes a chore. You are not allowed to fly with a can of spray starch in your luggage for a reason that makes no sense to me. I guess I may try to break into the cockpit and iron the pilot’s shirts if I have starch with me.  I am one of those anal people who enjoys ironing (have ironed for drinks on a few cruises LOL) and always iron each morning for the day. This was just part of how I was raised.  For non U.S. departures it can be a chore to find starch in a store, and often requires finding a supermarket.  It would seem like this should be a natural to carry on the ship because of this.  I wouldn’t even care if I had to pay $10 for a can of it. LOL

John says:
Hello Walter Carr

I agree, there are some items you can’t fly with that are understandable and some that are absolutely not. I will ask if we can add starch to the laundry rooms rather than the gift shops as it might be easier to get them added there. Leave this with me and enjoy your ironing. Can I send you some of my underpants to press? Best wishes.


Hazel Geering asks:
I sent an email to the maitre d’ on Carnival Valor back in April to make a special request for my large group of 10, but have yet to get a response. I’m a Cruise Critic member with over 5,000 posts!! My request involves a large group, and our plans are on hold. I was told that they respond immediately but nothing has been returned after three e mailings to him. Is this the kind of service we can expect on the ship on our cruise? The booking is linked with ******.

John says:
Hello Hazel Geering

I am sorry that you are disappointed by this but as I have said here a few times now the maitre d is under no obligation to respond to e mails from guests and, with our spam system, there is a good chance that your emails may have gone into his spam box. The maître d gets a very complicated reservation file three days before the start of the cruise and he or she has to fit it all in so getting lots of emails from guests each voyage is not something they need and that’s why the company’s position is one where they are not expected to reply. I am sure having read this that you understand. Now, as you are sailing in September we have lots of time anyway so please on September 18, send me your request and the cabin numbers to my page and I will speak with the maître d on your behalf and see what we can do for you. Thanks again for your understanding and I wish you a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.


Shannon asks:
I am looking at booking a cruise for my mom and myself sailing on October 31. She asked if there was going to be a costume party. I have no clue since I have never travelled on Halloween so I figured I should ask.

John says:
Hello Shannon

Yes indeed there is and I am sure it will be the best Halloween you have both ever had. Please let me know if you have any questions. Best wishes and have loads of fun together.


Lee Shelvey asks:
I think Carnival is letting all the veterans down because your meetings are now badly organized, badly advertised and this leads to a pitiful turnout. My last cruise was on Carnival Breeze. No attendance from the cruise staff member, cruise director or captain. On the Equinox we had free drinks for one hour and the captain gave all veterans a signed copy of the cruise map plus we got a cruise t shirt. I did two tours of Vietnam with the 1st Marine Division. Do I and other veterans not deserve better? Why are we not given the VIP offerings that we deserve on Carnival? I will answer my own question and say no according to what I experienced

John says:
Hello Lee Shelvey

The obvious starting point for my reply is to say a huge thank you to you for your service and the dedication to our country. While we will not be offering free drinks I do think that some of our ships organise this better than others, so very soon there will be a fleet directive issued to all the ships with standardized policies to follow. It is important that we recognise those who have served and are serving so I am sure on your next cruise you will see just that. Best wishes


Scott Shipley asks:
I turned Platinum about a year and a half ago before you changed the program. When I got my boarding pass and saw that I was demoted to gold it really upset me. After a few days on the boat I went and said something at the pursers’ desk. And they said they could note it in the computer. Still kinda sucks my wife gets all the benefits and I don’t and when I take my next cruise without her, I won’t even be able to into the VIP lounge to check in

John says:
Hello Scott Shipley

I am very sorry about this. I checked with a colleague and she said that your email address is not on file and we have a few guests who travel with the same name. Please, then, can you send me an email to so we can get this sorted out. Apologies once again and hope we see you very soon. Best wishes.


Kim O’Neal asks:
Thank you for all of the laughs you send out. I am looking at Carnival Vista. Are the Lido balconies covered? Thank you and have a great day!

John says:
Hello Kim O’Neal

Yes, they are covered and I will be writing about your new Carnival Vista in just a moment. Hope to see you on board and thanks for the kind words. Best wishes.


Elenaor Delmege asks:
This fall my youngest daughter will be attending the International Culinary Center in California. This is a wonderful achievement. To celebrate we have booked the whole family on a cruise. We chose Carnival Miracle and our cruise date is July 11. There will be eight of us. I would ask that my daughter, Anabella, visit with the chef and then use the ship’s kitchens to cook her famous crispy parmesan chicken dish. What a thrill to have her cook for her whole family. We come from the four corners of the United States and it is very rare for us all to be together. The ingredients she will need are there. Thank you for making this important experience happen. Maybe the captain could join us. I bet he would love her crispy parmesan chicken. LOL.

John says:
Hello Elenaor Delmege

Many congratulations to your daughter and thank you for bringing the family on the Carnival Miracle to celebrate. I am very sorry, for insurance reasons, I cannot give permission to Anabella to cook in our galley but I will ask the chef to stop by the table one night and say hello. I wish you all a brilliant reunion cruise. Best wishes.


And that’s all for today. I will be back with more next week so please post a question or a comment and I will help you as quickly as I can. For a faster response you can contact me through my page. And now news on your Carnival Vista.


Largest and Most Innovative ‘Fun Ship’ Set to Debut May 1, 2016, from Europe

MIAMI (June 18, 2015) – Carnival Cruise Line is taking a fun and engaging approach to showcase the construction of its newest “Fun Ship,” Carnival Vista, creating a series of monthly behind-the-scenes videos shot at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy, where the 3,954-passenger vessel is being built. The video can be viewed here (insert YouTube link).

Host Peter Gonzalez – who has traveled to 30 countries to create videos showcasing the “Fun Ship” fleet – takes viewers on his 5,132-mile journey from Miami to Monfalcone, Italy, to document Carnival Vista’s 26-month construction.

In the first video, “Birds’ Eye View,” Gonzalez dons a hard hat and ventures high above the Fincantieri shipyard to demonstrate the incredible size of Carnival Vista while highlighting the painstaking process for cutting and assembling the 150,000 tons of steel needed to build the massive 1,055-foot-long vessel – the largest in the Carnival fleet.

Gonzalez visits Fincantieri’s fabrication bunker where he follows workers as they cut, with expert precision, six-ton steel panels that are conjoined into 1,000-ton sections positioned via crane to form Carnival Vista’s superstructure. Once the exterior build-out is completed, workers will begin installing innovations such as SkyRide, a one-of-a-kind suspended cycling experience, a new 455-foot-long tube slide called Kaleid-o-Slide, and more.

Future segments in the series include preparations, both on board and ashore, to create the line’s first on-board brewery, a below-deck look at the ship’s technical spaces, and the logistics of installing the three-deck-high IMAX Theater, the first on a cruise ship.  

Carnival Vista is scheduled to enter service from Europe May 1, 2016, then reposition to New York for a series of voyages in November 2016 followed by the launch of year-round Caribbean service from Miami later that month.

Cruise fans, those new to cruising and travel partners can get a preview of Carnival Vista at and follow @CarnivalVista for regular Twitter updates.

For additional information, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit

And I will be there next week and will have more videos of this incomparable Carnival ship. You know, I have been in the shipyards many, many times and seen the ships at various state of readiness but, even after all these years, I have no idea how these brilliant ship builders manage to construct something like your Carnival Vista.

All men are created equal so said some wise man who probably had a beard, wore sandals and meditated while sitting on a spike…………unfortunately, he was talking bollocks. You could give me the same ingredients our celebrity chef Guy Fieri uses and put me in the same kitchen with the same equipment and even though we have exactly the same number of hands, fingers and dangly bits, I can absolutely guarantee that I’d end up with a plate full of inedible crap that even a yak that hasn’t eaten in 17 days would turn his nose up at. Cooking is like painting. I know this because I used to try it at school. I would have a brush and some eyes but everything I tried to transpose onto paper ended up looking like a big ugly blob of coloured vomit And, as Heidi will tell you it’s the same story with DIY. My wonderful and much missed father could create an Edwardian cabinet out of two bits of wood and a rusty nail while anytime I have attempted to build anything, it ends up broken and on the floor.

So with just eight months or so to go before the Carnival Vista is ours and, indeed, yours, I salute the men and women who have and will continue to use their brains and their talents to design your Carnival Vista.

You know me, I don’t like to get all “corporatey” and yet I have to tell you this. Carnival Vista will be our best ship yet. Everyone from our President Christine Duffy on down feels that this is the case. There is a certain……..something….. that tells us she will be.

Yes, there will be some teething problems along the way; my experience of delivering so many ships for Carnival tells me that it would be ridiculous to think otherwise. But this ship and her sparkling new features check all the right boxes and when you’ve finished your cruise around the Med or the Caribbean and are back on dry land, you can look back and think to yourself, “That is the most brilliant fun I have ever had.”

Carnival Vista……………..have you booked yet?


Your friend,


]]> 36
Alcohol Collection, the Piano Bar Schedule, Pirate Tours and some Churchill. Tue, 16 Jun 2015 17:59:30 +0000 Continue reading ]]> It’s not like me to start one of my blogs by being serious and not mentioning my dangly bits or moaning about the state of the world but today I feel I need to.

There have been a lot of comments on my Facebook page about our decision to have bottles of alcohol purchased from the shops on board or in the ports of call returned to guests on debarkation morning. The reason we’re doing this is pretty straightforward. Since we are not able to monitor the consumption of alcohol on the last night of the cruise – which can potentially impact the safety and well-being of all of our guests – we will distribute liquor purchased ashore and from the Fun Shops on the last morning of the cruise. While this may feel to some like an action we are taking to generate more revenue, the reality is just the opposite. Our overall changes to our beverage policy are not expected to result in any additional revenue in the end.

Now don’t get me wrong, I totally understand your concerns because, after all, debarkation day is a day that everyone already dreads. The cheery voice of the cruise director who tells you it’s time to say goodbye. The line to get off the ship and then the line to present your passport to U.S. Customs & Border Protection and then that sad journey home as you cling to the memories of fun, food and brilliant friendly service. So to add an extra step to go through on debarkation morning has some of you upset, and I get it, I really do. And the beards get it, too, believe me.

But please, everyone, let us at least try this first. Let the crew work as hard as they always do and let them make the collection of your liquor go as smoothly as possible. If it does, tell me please. If it does not, tell me that, as well, and I will pass your comments and concerns along to be beards. Either way, we have to try this first to see if it will work. I know change is difficult for some and I am happy to remain your pin cushion, glad to have you vent to me and happy to receive the harshest of comments.

Time for today’s Q & A, or as it should be called today, “John Gets A Bollocking” ……………. away we go.

Beverley Munn asks:
I read that Carnival intentionally keeps lines long, tendering processes slow, and rooms unavailable to keep demand for Faster to the Fun high. Is this true?

John says:
Hello Beverley Munn

Ahhhh, conspiracy theories, you have to love them. This is absolutely not true. We only sell approximately 15 cabins for Faster to the Fun and they sell out virtually every cruise weeks in advance. So please, wherever you “read” this, would you let the author know this is incorrect. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

Susan Ellis asks:
John: I researched information on my 11-day cruise on Carnival Dream, about room 8475. Only thing I could find, was a negative post about the black soot on the balcony, and how it covered the chairs and anything else out there! Also, the carpet was dirty due to the soot! Please let me know if this is an accurate problem with the room I have chosen!



John says:
Hello Susan

I am glad that you have written to me so I can set your mind at ease. The cabin you have chosen is a wonderful cabin on a superb ship. I have no doubts you will have the most wonderful time and please do ask me if you have any other questions or need my help. Best wishes.


Troy Powell asks:
Hi John: My family and I are sailing on Carnival Legend in late June.  Any idea when the Hub App will be rolled out onto Carnival Legend?  Thanks!!

John says:
Hello Troy Powell

All though the Fun Hub app is doing brilliantly and proving very popular on the Carnival Breeze I am afraid it won’t be on Carnival Legend in time for your cruise. I do wish you the most super time cruising Alaska and, if there is anything I can do for you please do ask me. Best wishes.


Claire Grogan asks:
I so agree with Paulette when she says you have a vendetta against us vegans. You need to realize that there is a trend towards making more compassionate food choices, as people realise they can thrive nutritionally on a plant-based diet. A study showed the number of vegans doubled in 2014. If this trend continues, along with the environmental pressures and human health interests, our food industry is quickly heading in a new direction. The damage animal agriculture is doing to our ecosystem, and the rate it is depleting our supplies of fresh water and other resources is causing some scientists to predict the world’s population will have to switch to a plant-based diet by 2020 as a meat and dairy diet is simply unsustainable. Studies show that animal agriculture is responsible for 50 percent of global warming as well as deforestation, soil erosion and oceans so polluted with billions of tons of animal feces pouring into them that large dead zones are appearing where nothing can grow. I want Carnival to start expanding your range of choices suitable for the hundreds of vegans who cruise your ships and maybe then this will encourage more of your customers to do the right thing and become vegan too!!

John says:
Hello Claire Grogan

I truly have no problems with people wanting to be vegans but to me I think there’s still room for all sorts of diets, both vegan and non-vegan alike. Carnival respects, as do I, the choice to be a vegan and we have certainly improved our vegan options in recent times. If you have suggestions on other ways we can improve with specific menu items please do tell me and I will make sure the chef sees them. Thank you for speaking your mind and allowing me to do also. Best wishes.


Jenna asks:
John: I’ve been sailing with Carnival for a while now. I think my first cruise was… well, I know we did the Big Red Boat, and I remember in 1999 we did the Carnival Sensation (I think), but I honestly couldn’t tell you which the first one was. I was really only a kid – maybe eight or nine. But I’ve been very blessed. My parents loved to cruise, and sometimes they even liked to take me along – they took me on nine cruises as a child, up until I was in high school. I wasn’t able to join them in college, as those years weren’t great with the economy, and money was tighter than before. But now, I’m a proper adult with a proper job, and I can afford to take my own vacations.

I was able to convince my partner, my terrified-to-swim girlfriend who was convinced the best vacation was a very dry one, to go on a quick four-day cruise in 2013 so I could catch up with my mom and dad and finally be Platinum before the rules changed on me. (They are probably on their 30th Carnival cruise by now!) I’m so glad we did. We had such a good time, and the little touches of love and appreciation shown by Carnival were such extra cherries on top of a delicious ice cream-y good vacation. (Tell the beards! We love the priority boarding – we’ve decided that, as long as that’s a perk, we’ll never cruise with anyone else. It makes us feel safe, as young adults traveling alone, and very, very special and appreciated.)

Our next cruise is longer, an eight-day on Carnival Sunshine. It’s a special cruise for me. The Carnival Destiny was my parents’ honeymoon cruise, and Carnival Sunshine is where I want to propose to my girlfriend. (I’d ideally like to marry her on Carnival Vista in Europe, but, hey, she has to say yes first!) John, I am just a girl who wants to ask her princess to marry her. I’m not a millionaire, or a celebrity, or even a Diamond cruiser… But I know you care about people, and I hope maybe you’ll care about love. I don’t even know what I’m asking for here, but I’m hoping maybe you can help me in some little way… make this cruise unforgettable. Do you think you could find it in your heart to help me make her dreams come true??

John says:
Hello Jenna

What a wonderful story and it would be my pleasure to help you with the proposal and make those dreams come true. Please would you contact me on my page two days before the cruise and I will speak with the cruise director and, between us, we shall see what we can do. Thank you for sharing your story and I wish you both many years of happiness together. Best wishes.


Linda Bailey asks:
Hi John: I recently spent 33 days on Carnival Triumph in February and March.  I noticed that in the casino, the smoke was not as bad as other ships I have sailed on even during the 12-day Premier Club cruise. Carnival Triumph casino had several air filters that were filtering and recycling the air. It really helped keep the smoke level down.  I mentioned how helpful they were to Carlos, the senior executive casino host, and he was going to pass on the positive feedback. That said, with all the controversy on the smoke in the casino, are there plans to put these filters in all the ships casinos? I, for one, would really appreciate it.  Thanks for looking into this or passing it along to the beards.  And thanks for all that you and your brilliant staff of cruise directors do to make every sailing an enjoyable one!  I appreciate your consideration.

Linda Bailey

John says:
Hello Linda Bailey

I hope you had a wonderful time on the ship and may I thank you for spending your valuable vacation days with us. I agree that some of the ships have better ventilation in the casinos than other ships do, so this is very useful information. I will be passing this to all the right people and hopefully we can duplicate what the Carnival Triumph does. Thanks again and I do hope we see you soon. Best wishes.


Chad Lee asks:
Good afternoon, I just came off of the Carnival Freedom May 2-9. We had Joseph from the Philippines for our waiter in the main dining room. I wanted to give this individual a compliment. He went above and beyond to make sure that we have the best experience possible. He took out the time to get to know us and remembered our names. People like this make the vacation even more enjoyable. Please make sure this gets back to management. Thank you.

John says:
Hello Chad

I will indeed and thank you so much for taking the time to write. I will make sure that not only Joseph sees this but his managers do as well. They will all be thrilled. I hope you had a brilliant time and that we see you again very soon. Best wishes.


Robin Ellis asks:
Dear John: I am a Platinum cruiser (in the future, but I always wanted to write that! No complaints at all. I go on vacation to have fun, not to worry about what other people wear or do! I do need some advice, though. My daughter will be getting married on Carnival Triumph in June. We’ve all cruised before, and we are blessed that she has invited all of us to cruise along with them! Carnival’s wedding coordinator and information is very thorough, and it seems like everything will be taken care of. As a mom planning her daughter’s wedding, though, I want to make sure it goes off as smoothly as possible! Do you or your fans have any tips for Carnival weddings? What can we do, think about, plan for, or bring to make this the best day of her life? We’ve been on several Carnival cruises as a group but not for such a special event! Oh, and we’ll try not to bother other people, but if we do, they should either join the party or vacation in their closet, away from everyone in the world! Thank you!

John says:
Hello Robin Ellis

I want to thank you for sharing this most important of days for you and your family with us at Carnival and I know my colleagues on the ship will make sure it all goes superbly well. Please let me know the happy couple’s cabin number the day before the cruise on my page if you can and I will be sending your kind words to all the right people. Thanks so much. Best wishes to all.


Georgie Marino asks:
Hi John: OMG. I have not chatted with you in a while.  I’m a little confused.  I’m getting occasional emails with questions directed to you, but never see a response.   Should I assume that you are no longer answering questions/doing your “bloggy” thing???? Please let me know

Love and kisses.

Georgie Marino

John says:
Hello Georgie Marino

It is good to hear from you and I hope this reply finds you well. I have been away from the blog for a while but it’s good to be writing again. Now, I am guessing you opted in to receive notifications, so you are seeing the comments people post to the blog. If so you can choose to cancel that on your notifications. I am back writing blogs twice a week and answering as many questions as I can, so I am here if you need me. Best wishes.


Kelli asks:
Could you tell me if Carnival Triumph is getting the new menus, and, if so, when?  We are sailing on July 9 and I am curious what menus I should start salivating over :)

John says:
Hello Kelli

Right now the ship doesn’t have the American Table/American Feast menus just yet but we will let you know when they do. Please let me know if you have any other questions and have a wonderful cruise. Best wishes.


Kim asks:
Sailing on Carnival Conquest June 13. Will the new Wi-Fi package be available on Carnival Conquest by then? Are the new menus on Carnival Conquest?

John says:
Hello Kim

The ship is not scheduled to get the new Internet programs until July, I am afraid. Please don’t worry, you will have the best of times I am sure and let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.


Anthony Redwood asks:
As a platinum cruiser I am in a state of shock. Carnival has banned us from bringing our own water on the ship. Are you kidding me? Carnival is making money from us who have spent thousands of $$$$$$$$ to get to Platinum. There should be a rule that allows Platinums to still bring their water. I know you give us free water but my wife and I only drink the Dasani brand of water and you don’t sell that. Your records will show that we are cruising again on Carnival Victory in September and again twice in 2016. You need to re-think this one and make a quick change before your passengers do!!

John says:
Hello Anthony Redwood.

The most important part of my reply is to thank you for your loyalty and I am sure despite the disappointment of our new water rule, you will continue to look at the fun you have had and the fun that is still here waiting for you. Although there is a perception that this is being done to make money, the reality it’s being done to enhance guest safety and avoid delays in embarkation. With the new water regulations we do not anticipate any increase in revenue as a result of this policy change, particularly given the significant reduction in price we have instituted for 12 packs of bottled water. Plus, as you mentioned, as platinum VIFP you get free bottled water from us anyway. So I hope that gives some perspective on what this is all about and I am here if you wish to address any other concerns. I do hope we see you soon. Best wishes.


And that’s all we have time for today. Thank you all for your comments and questions

It is good to see that, as we unveil more entertainment options and new shows that there is one area of entertainment that remains so very popular. I am, of course, talking about the piano bar and the brilliant entertainers who work there. Here is their latest schedule.

Carnival Breeze

6/14/2015        6/28/2015         Jeremy Ray Borders

6/28/2015       8/23/2015         Jonathan Thompson

8/23/2015       9/20/2015         Robert Berhalter

9/20/2015       11/15/2015       John Gregson

11/15/2015      1/10/2016         Jonathan Thompson

Carnival Conquest

5/10/2015        7/4/2015           Tom Grable

7/4/2015          8/31/2015         Milburn Dumas

9/5/2015          10/31/2015       Jeremy Ray Borders

10/31/2015      12/6/2015         William Brawner

12/6/2015        2/6/2016           Kenneth Giordano

Carnival Dream

4/12/2015        8/23/2015         Barry Henricus Meijer

8/23/2015        9/20/2015         Michael O’Quinn

9/20/2015        9/27/2015         Ron Passalacqua

9/27/2015        10/25/2015       William Brawner

10/25/2015      2/7/2016           Matias Nahuel Sanchez

Carnival Ecstasy

5/4/2015          6/29/2015         Jorge Ramirez

6/29/2015        8/24/2015         Matias Nahuel Sanchez

8/24/2015        10/19/2015       Stephen Dooks

10/19/2015      12/14/2015       Roger Concepcion

Carnival Elation

6/13/2015        8/13/2015         James Steven Finn

8/13/2015        10/8/2015         Patrick Duffy

10/8/2015        12/3/2015         Zdrazko Spassov

Carnival Fantasy

4/27/2015        6/20/2015         Elizabeth Setzer

6/20/2015        8/15/2015         Deborah Macaluso

8/15/2015        10/11/2015       Robert Crucilla

10/11/2015      12/5/2015         Kenneth Giordano

12/5/2015        2/1/2016           Reynold Senn

Carnival Fascination

3/28/2015        7/18/2015         Roger Concepcion

7/18/2015        9/17/2015         Tom Grable

9/17/2015        11/12/2015       Tom Grable

11/12/2015      1/7/2016           Christopher Porcelli

Carnival Freedom

5/16/2015        6/20/2015         Timothy Lyles

6/20/2015        7/18/2015         Robert Berhalter

7/18/2015        11/16/2015       Anthony Ward

Carnival Glory

5/16/2015        7/11/2015         Daniel Christopher Schnatter

7/11/2015        8/1/2015           John Gregson

8/1/2015          9/5/2015           Martin Lucas Vince

9/5/2015          10/3/2015         James Steven Finn

10/3/2015        11/28/2015       Elizabeth Setzer

Carnival Imagination

4/2/2015          6/18/2015         Mark Johnson

6/18/2015        9/3/2015           Todd Fugate

9/3/2015          11/19/2015       Timothy Lyles

11/19/2015      1/10/2016         Mark Skowronek

Carnival Inspiration

4/27/2015        7/13/2015         Patrick Duffy

7/13/2015        9/28/2015         Elizabeth Setzer

9/28/2015        12/14/2015       Hailey Morgan Wiebe

Carnival Legend

5/18/2015        6/30/2015         Christine Hetfield

6/30/2015        8/25/2015         Adam Sayer

8/25/2015        9/15/2015         Mark Johnson

9/15/2015        12/1/2015         Adam Sayer

12/1/2015        12/20/2015       Christine Hetfield

Carnival Liberty

6/14/2015        8/30/2015         Jordan Heppner

8/30/2015        11/15/2015       Peter James Thompson

11/15/2015      1/10/2016         Jorge Ramirez

Carnival Magic

5/10/2015        6/28/2015         Jeffrey Abbott

6/28/2015        8/16/2015         Timothy Lyles

8/16/2015        11/1/2015         Greg Alcock

11/1/2015        12/13/2015       Michael O’Quinn

Carnival Miracle

5/16/2015        7/11/2015         Peter James Thompson

7/11/2015        8/29/2015         Jeremy Ray Borders

8/29/2015        10/17/2015       Roger Concepcion

10/17/2015      12/13/2015       Benjamin Tyler Gentry

Carnival Paradise

5/30/2015        8/13/2015         Hailey Morgan Wiebe

8/13/2015        9/28/2015         Gustavo Garcia

9/28/2015        1/14/2016         Robert Berhalter

Carnival Pride

4/26/2015        6/21/2015         Anthony Ward

6/21/2015        8/16/2015         Christopher Porcelli

8/16/2015        10/11/2015       Andre Mieux

10/11/2015      12/6/2015         Todd Fugate

Carnival Sensation

4/23/2015        6/18/2015         Gustavo Garcia

6/18/2015        10/8/2015         Agustin Villarin

10/8/2015        12/3/2015         Gustavo Garcia

Carnival Spirit

5/27/2015        6/30/2015         Kristilee Ransley

6/30/2015        8/16/2015         Jade Leonard

8/30/2015        10/14/2015       Benjamin Tyler Gentry

Carnival Splendor

6/17/2015        9/6/2015           Edmond Holz

9/6/2015          11/22/2015       Christine Hetfield

Carnival Sunshine

5/29/2015        8/21/2015         James Sullivan

8/21/2015        10/10/2015       Craig Quiter

10/10/2015      1/24/2016         Agustin Villarin

Carnival Triumph

4/25/2015        7/9/2015           Michael O’Quinn

7/9/2015          9/26/2015         Scott Casey

9/26/2015        12/10/2015       Barry Henricus Meijer

Carnival Valor

6/6/2015          7/25/2015         Martin Aucoin

7/25/2015        9/19/2015         Reynold Senn

9/19/2015        11/14/2015       Mark Johnson

11/14/2015      1/9/2016           Robert Crucilla

Carnival Victory

6/4/2015          8/22/2015         Zdrazko Spassov

8/22/2015        11/5/2015         David Lovett

11/5/2015        1/9/2016           Tom Wolf

As always, I hope you will send me your feedback and tell me which of the names above made your cruise even more superb with their mixture of music, song, audience engagement and, of course, fun. My thanks to all of them for their dedication.

I am getting very excited about my visit to the Carnival Vista on June 24. On June 25 I will be hosting the coin ceremony with a special guest and I will have a video here for you that night so you can see your ship and the ceremony itself.

This will definitely whet my appetite for our return to Europe and, even though I will not be the cruise director, (we will announce who that will be soon) I will be on the ship a lot and will also host the first cruises travel talks so I can share my knowledge of the ports that I have gleaned over the seven seasons I was there. And in the weeks and months ahead, I will be talking about the glorious wonders of the ports of call that make these destinations some of the most incomparable in the world. However, one subject that I want to stress is that, as we discovered on previous Europe seasons, is the so-called “pirate” excursion industry that has manifested itself in Italy, Spain, Greece and other ports of call. I remember a tour operator who had parked its buses on the pier in Civitavecchia (Rome) and picked up some guests who had made arrangements via the internet to provide an excursion around the city.

Just as guests were boarding, the police arrived and escorted the buses and the guests to the police station where the company involved was fined thousands of euros. Of course, the guests lost their excursion and the money they paid to see the Vatican and other sites. The police asked the guests to get off the buses, but some of them refused to do so. The officers then escorted the five busses to the police station, with the guests who had refused to cooperate, so that further investigations could be made. The guests were asked to give their personal details and explain how they had booked and paid for the tour. The police brought charges against the tour operator on account of their failure to comply with port security regulations and false advertising.

And that was their day in Rome completely ruined and there have been similar concerns in other European ports. I know there will be skeptics that think that I am saying this just to get you to buy shipboard excursions…..well…….bloody right I am! European laws are massively strict about what companies can come on to port property and it is very important we get the word out to everyone that it is our recommendation that you book your excursions through the cruise line.

The companies we use have been completely vetted and have all the necessary documents to avoid what was a distressing day for those guests whose excursion buses were escorted to the police station. There is no better word for these companies than pirates and trying to save a few dollars by using one of these companies will no doubt result in a day to forget……rather than a day to remember. You have flown a long way to get to Europe so why not have the same comfort and assurance that you feel from the crew of the Carnival Vista extended to your full day of seeing some of the most amazing places in the world? The European tours for your Carnival Vista will be available on line very soon and I will always be available here and on my page to help answer any questions you may have.

And now a trip down memory lane. I still remember that when I was a cruise director on the ships and I used to smoke my Monte Cristo Edmundo in the cigar bars, I would get looks of pure hatred and utter amazement from guests as though I was sitting there naked with a baby yak on my lap. And this brings me to my hero. While Prime Minister Cameron and President Obama may be thought by some to be excellent politicians, they are somewhat boring, just my opinion, but that’s what I think. Imagine then if we had someone like Winston Churchill in power today. A cigar smoker. A big, big drinker. A man given to saying what he felt in parliament with great quotes like, “I may be drunk, miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly.” Brilliant!

But sadly a politician like this, under the glare of the paparazzi and the press…he wouldn’t last a week. But if he were running for office today, in 2015, he would never be elected and would probably be arrested for speaking his mind as he did back when he gave those epic speeches.

It is so easy these days to upset someone as you will shortly see in today’s Q & A session. You can be ostracized by your neighbors for putting your refuse in the wrong-colored trash can, you can have your car vandalized if it has four-wheel drive and doesn’t have the word Hybrid on it, and yelling at your child after he has super-glued his sister’s face to the television is guaranteed to get you 10 years hard labor and a spot on Dr. Phil’s show.

As senior cruise director and brand ambassador, I have to not smoke my cigars in public and watch what joke I write here and on Facebook in case I offend anyone of any age, any sex, any religion, any creed, any color, any nationality, any height, any weight, of any …… well …….. thing. It’s bloody hard. That’s why, when I am on vacation, I smoke a cigar every day and tell all the jokes I could never tell on the ship to my wife and my friends.

There is, obviously, a time and a place for it but I do worry that naughty behavior is being erased from society, and that, unless the trend can be reversed, somehow we’ll all have to go through life like those Stepford Wives……..robotic and all programmed to do the right thing all the time. But I will not give in; I will fight on in the name of fun because laughter is a brilliant antidote to the stresses and worries of everyday life…..suddenly, I feel all Churchilian

We shall go on to the end, we shall laugh on the ship, we shall laugh on the seas and oceans, we shall laugh with growing confidence and growing strength, we shall defend our right to laugh, whatever the cost may be. We shall laugh on Carnival Fantasy, we shall laugh on Carnival Breeze, we shall laugh at ourselves and with others, we shall laugh when we want to about what we want to. We shall never surrender the fun.

I wrote that in my underpants and with a large cigar in my mouth, just like Winston Churchill.


Your friend,


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Water in a Bottle, Hilary on a T-shirt Thu, 11 Jun 2015 15:42:32 +0000 Continue reading ]]> I bet right now most of you reading this are wearing a T-shirt. Yep, T-shirts, we all have them, we all wear them and we all wear them on our cruises. Most are plain or have a fun pattern or logo on them. The T-shirt is the most popular daytime thing to wear and I, of course, love it when I see people wearing Carnival logo wear. It does make me smile when people wear T-shirts with a place they have visited on it, particularly if it’s the exotic-sounding name of somewhere far, far away from where you are at the time. There are some people who do think it’s alright to wear another cruise line’s T-shirt on a Carnival ship and this always makes me giggle.

Some T-shirts, as indicated in the letter below, are to some guests………..very offensive.

Josie Kane

I will preface my comments by saying that I usually cruise on NCL. I have heard positive comments about Carnival so opted to try them this time and cruise on Carnival Liberty. On the positive side the ship’s staff is definitely superior, courteous, friendly and efficient. The veranda stateroom was clean, the bed comfortable and the food of good quality. The experience in the steakhouse was very good, first class, actually. My number one, chief complaint was a situation on which following on from my numerous complaints nothing was done about. Each morning we would play the trivia competitions. This is something mom and I always do together. Each morning the same group of 50 or so would play. Among the passengers was an elderly man who each time would be wearing the most offensive, sickening T-shirts I have ever seen. I took photos of him and sent them to my travel agent. I cannot seem to be able to send photos on this page. Is there a place I can do this? You must see what the passengers are wearing. His shirts said things like:

“Stay away from me people! I am running out of places to hide the bodies”

“Anyone but Hillary 2016″

“Come for my gun and you had better bring yours as*****.”

This shirt he was wearing at 10 in the morning in public had a very offensive photo of our awesome president on it.

How could Carnival allow this????? I complained to the staff people running the trivia and the front desk and wrote a letter to the captain but still this man was seen all over the ship wearing these sickening messages on his shirts. My travel agent ______ ______ from _______ suggested I bring this to you. Are there rules against this because it is disgusting and terribly wrong that Carnival did nothing to stop it? Is this acceptable and legal to Carnival??

I will be replying to Josie personally but I also wanted to address this here as I think it is a very interesting subject.

I can understand why this has upset Josie and her mother. But, obviously, there is no way that the staff on board can control what other guests on the ship wear. If this guest had been staying at a hotel in Las Vegas and seen this chap sitting at a poker table at Caesar’s Palace would she have gone to the front desk and complained or told the dealer not to let him play. I think the answer is probably no. It’s a cruise industry type of complaint – something our industry has opened the door to many years ago

However, Josie has asked an interesting question. Should we have allowed these guests to wear those T-shirts on board? I guess the answer is yes. I mean, in all the years I have been at sea I do not remember asking a guest to remove a T-shirt because it offended some of our guests.

Is it appropriate? Well, I guess it all depends on what offends you. I mean if there is obscene language or nudity, I think you and I both agree that’s a no-no but someone’s opinion of a presidential candidate or a somewhat off-color attempt at humour, I don’t think there’s much we can do. I think it also depends on the setting. If someone who wears an offensive T-shirt to tour the Vatican or to a wedding or funeral he should be asked to leave. But on a cruise ship trivia quiz or on Lido deck, then who are we to stop him?

It will be interesting to read your thoughts. By the way, I am wearing a T-shirt that says:

“Oh FFS – It’s Cabin Steward – Not Stewart “

And next week maybe I will go on NCROYALEBRITY Cruise Lines wearing a T-shirt in Carnival colours that says

“Go Fun Yourself”

Time for today’s Q and A, here we go.

Frank asks:
So gold members will now only get a free drink, on the last sea day? That’s the thanks we get for being loyal with over 25 days? I have 35 days at sea with y’all. Five seven-day cruises. All that’s worth is a free drink and it’s only on the last sea day? Sorry John, we’ve been loyal since 2006, when we stopped cruising on Royal Caribbean. Even thought about going back a few times. However, Carnival always was loyal to us and loved the parties and the new FTTF. Now Carnival says, “Gold means nothing to us, but a free $9 drink, which cost us way less than that.” So, now since y’all are no longer loyal to guests that have between 25-75 cruise days, there’s no reason to be loyal to Carnival. Sad day when you’re told that your 35 paid sea days mean nothing to the cruise line. There’s a reason y’all have so many good members. Y’all were loyal to them. Now you’re not. Bye

John says:
Hello Frank.

Thank you so much for writing and I am disappointed to see how upset you are by the change to the party. The complimentary drink and the complimentary bottle of water is our way of saying thank you for sailing with us. I know that not allowing Gold card holders to the VIFP party is something that some have disliked but, honestly, service was a massive challenge with so many, over 1,000 often, eligible to attend. I hope that the reasons you cruised so often — great service, brilliant fun and all at affordable price will be the reasons you come back and not the fact that you get one, maybe two more free drinks you would have at the party. I am here to help in any way I can and I hope to see you soon. Best wishes.


Tom Anthony asks:
John. I am so sick of hearing about your diet and how much weight you have lost. Stop ramming this down our throats because it is VERY CRUEL!!!!!! I am 370 pounds. Yeah I am big but comfortable in who I am. Your health is becoming your new religion to bash us over the head and make us larger people feel guilty. I cruised with you on Carnival Liberty in 2006 when you were very big. I was on a diet at the time but never tried to force it on you! You may have changed every single aspect of your life all at once: when, what and how you eat, drink, exercise. That is a lot to ask of anybody who is already seriously unfit, overweight. Think about what you say before you say it!!!

John says:
Hello Tom

I am so very sorry to have upset you and I totally understand where you are coming from. In my defence, I have always said that this is my diet, not anyone else’s and I have never purposely meant to force it on anyone. I wish you all the very best and I wish you health and happiness. Apologies once again. Best wishes.


Mandi asks:
John, I saw a YouTube video of a cruise ship playing “Seven Nation Army” with its horn ……. consequently, I watched more videos of cruise ships having horn battles. Are you familiar with this? Does Carnival ever battle?

John says:
Hello Mandi

I have seen this video, too, and it is quite spectacular. Yes, Carnival ships will do this when other Carnival ships or ships from the Carnival Corporation family are in port together. There are some ports of call where this is not allowed though but when it does happen, it is simply brilliant.

Best wishes.


Gregory McCallum asks:
Just got off an amazing cruise on Carnival Sunshine (4/25 sailing). We have to thank Ana (guest services) and Jaime Dee for helping us with a difficult situation finding a way for our 17 and 18 year old to have fun when not being allowed in the same club. I have written a glowing letter about all they did for us and would like to know who I send it to get them recognized and is it possible to get a copy to Ana or Jamie since my wife and I put personal messages to them in it?

John says:
Hello Gregory McCallum

Thanks so very much for taking the time to write this to me. I will ask that you send the letter to: John Heald, Brand Ambassador, Carnival Cruise Lines, 3655 NW 87th Ave, Miami, Florida, 33178. Someone opens my mail there and will scan it immediately to the ship. Alternatively, you can attach it to an e-mail and send to Thanks again, I hope you did have fun and that we see you soon. Best wishes.


Caitlin Weber asks:
Hi John! Your posts on Facebook make my day! I am a frequent Carnival cruiser and love that you care about our opinions and make sure that we are involved! I have a question for you regarding an experience on my last cruise… What is the protocol with children being in the piano bar? Although our singer Natalie was BEYOND amazing, and one of the best piano bar singers I have ever encountered in all of my time cruising, I felt as though I couldn’t fully enjoy the experience because every night there was a little girl sitting up at the bar into the wee hours of the night. Some nights she didn’t leave until almost 1 am……. I’m wondering what the protocol is, as the Piano Bar is an actual bar where children shouldn’t be – in my opinion.

John says:
Hello Caitlin Weber

Thanks for the kind words and I am so glad you had fun. Some years ago, we had a rule that after 10 pm children under 18 were not allowed there but over the years, I guess this has slipped away. Let me address this with the beards and see what they want to do moving forward, so please leave this with me. Thanks so much, sending you my best wishes and hope we see you soon. Best wishes.


Yadira asks:
I have sailed four times with Carnival and each time there seems to be less and less entertainment for black Americans!! Our cruise we are just back from was on Carnival Freedom. There were four comedians and not one of them was black. There were many black passengers but they were not catered for. Have you seen BET??

John says:
Hello Yadira

I want to thank you for cruising with us once again and I do hope you had another brilliant time. Please, may I point out that our comedians are hired based on talent, nothing else, just their ability to make guests laugh. As for their scheduling, again, these ladies and gentlemen move from ship to ship and so on their ability, again, nothing else. We have many very funny African American comedians who work on our ships each week making hundreds of our guests laugh. Once again, I hope you had a brilliant cruise and that we see you soon. Best wishes.


Carrie Farrar asks:
In May we went to on Carnival Conquest. My daughter and I were in the pool. A guest took a photo of his children also in the pool. I could tell that, as my child was right next to his, she would be in the photo too. I asked the man who took the photo to show me but he refused. I was furious. I went to the bartender and told him what had happened but he laughed it off! The front desk did the same. I spoke with _________ there to speak to the man and to make him delete it. There is a law about this in America. I am a child-minder, so it’s drummed into to me all the time about not ever posting pictures of other people’s child!!! Why was nothing done? It has totally freaked me out!

John says:
Hello Carrie Farrar

Let me start by saying I hope you had a wonderful cruise despite this situation. I am sure that the chap who took the photo meant no harm and was, as you mentioned, taking photos of his children in what I am sure was a busy time in the swimming pool. I know that some of the pools I have taken my daughter to have a no photo rule but, really, I don’t think we need to adopt this rule. I really don’t. I will, though, send this to the beards for their thoughts and, meanwhile, I thank you for taking the time to write. Best wishes.


Steve Janzen asks:
Good evening John. I feel I know you, as do so many others, as I have had the honour of sailing with you a few times, and, more importantly, I get to experience my wife giving me a daily update of your life. Yes, I have the daily pleasure of my wife updating me most evenings as to your whereabouts, your lovely British way of speaking, and, of course, the rumblings of Cruise Nation. I needed to say something today as I feel saddened that there are some many ungrateful individuals out there that have made it their duty to take their anger out on you. There seems to be the thought out there that every time Carnival decides to change their policies or directives, that you somehow were personally and solely the person that brought about that change. I am grateful for what I am given, and I am also very grateful when I am able to enjoy my vacation time with my wife. Having said that, we should all be thankful for what we have today. Stand tall, be thankful, and never take any of the attacks personally, as those who complain are not worth the energy. We look forward to sailing with Carnival again in November, January and November 2016 again. We will connect soon. Proud to be Platinum on Carnival, proud to be Canadian, and loving life.



John says:
Hello Steve Janzen

Thank you for this rejuvenating post, I truly appreciate it. I have realised never to take what is written personally. Most of the time I succeed but occasionally, I don’t and I have to try harder there. I love Carnival, this company has stood by me for almost 30 years and I have done my very best to help the company succeed and I hope that we have a continuing relationship for many more years to come. Please make sure you send me your cabin number before the cruise via my page and I wish you another glorious cruise. Best wishes


Riclop asks:
More John Heald BS. You say your page has the “latest news” and, today, the latest news was Obama drinking a beer before noon. Waste of time and space is what you are

Cruise Critic 5000 + club

John says:
Hello Riclop

I am sorry that you don’t enjoy my page. I will continue to work hard to improve and please let me know if I can help you at any time. Best wishes.


Mike asks:
Just wanted to drop you a line regarding the reception for Gold members. We rarely ever went to that and it really is not a deciding factor in choosing a cruise. What I would like is an answer to when we will get a seven day option out of Tampa again? We are lucky we still have Carnival Paradise here but we really miss the seven-day option on a larger ship. Enjoy your time on Carnival Legend. I just missed you when you left her in New York. She was a lot of fun to cruise on and someday I hope she returns home here again in Tampa. Mike

John says:
Hello Mike

Thanks so much for being so positive. The dancing of the ships is far from over and I hope to share news that will make you smile very soon. Thanks for your patience and I hope we see you on another cruise in the weeks ahead. Best wishes.


Conor Hanlon asks:
Hey – when will you tell us the movies for the giant screen for our cruise on Carnival Breeze for July 4th? Why have you not told us yet so we can plan what we are doing? If you are supposed to be the voice of Carnival, then you are a big disappointment. What is going on here!!!!!!!!!

John says:
Hello Conor Hanlon

I will release the movie titles on my Facebook/johnheald page around June 25, which is when I receive them from our Miami office. I hope you enjoy the movies and have a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.


Peter Kenwood asks:
G’day from Australia John. Quick question about Carnival Spirit. Is she having her dry dock in Sydney or Melbourne? I want to come down and take photos of the ship for my collection. Is this possible? We love Carnival.

John says:
Hello Peter Kenwood

And a very G’day to you mate. The ship will have her August dry dock in Singapore so I am guessing that is a little too far for you to go and take photos, no? I do hope you get to see her though after dry dock. She is going to look simply brilliant. Best wishes.


That’s all for today and as always a big thank you to you all for your comments and questions.

Just a quick addition to my July sailings because on July 11, the day I disembark Carnival Glory I will jump on a plane and fly to Tampa to get on Carnival Paradise. A certain Calvyn Martens is the cruise director there and I am going to help him as much as I can and write about a Fantasy- class ship here and on Facebook. Here, then, are the two cruises I will be doing:

Carnival Glory

July 4 – Miami

July 5 – At sea

July 6 – Cozumel

July 7 – Belize

July 8 – Isla Roatan

July 9 – Grand Cayman

July 10 – at Sea

July 11 – Miami


Carnival Paradise

July 11 – Tampa

July 12 – at sea

July 13 – Grand Cayman

July 14 – Cozumel

July 15 – at sea

July 16 – Tampa

I will be hosting some shows and, as always, writing about the experience. I hope some of you reading this will let me know you are coming too and maybe some of you reading this will decide to join me – that would be brilliant.

So let’s talk water and, for those who may have missed the announcement, here it is — the letter that was distributed to our guests and travel agent partners:

While your bags may not be packed just yet, we wanted to let you know about some changes to our Liquor & Beverage policy which is being modified effective with sailings departing July 9, 2015.

Often times, we find guests transporting alcohol onboard through unauthorized means resulting in unmonitored consumption of alcohol. Unfortunately, this has led to behavioral and safety related concerns. We have also found that bottled beverages are frequently used to transport alcohol and the screening measures needed to validate the contents delay the embarkation process for all guests. For these reasons, we find it necessary to modify our Liquor and Beverage policy, including restricting guests from bringing bottled beverages aboard our ships.

To avoid any potential disappointment at the start of your cruise, please familiarize yourselves with our new Liquor and Beverage Policy below, which will be strictly enforced.


  • Guests are prohibited from bringing water, sodas and other non-alcoholic beverages onboard that are packaged in bottles.
  • A small quantity of non-alcoholic beverages (i.e., sparkling water, sodas, juice, and milk) packaged in cans or cartons may be brought onboard on embarkation day only in guests’ carry-on luggage.  A small quantity is considered a maximum of 12 sealed, unopened cans/cartons of 12 ounces each or less per person.
  • Guests are prohibited from bringing alcoholic beverages on board with the following exception:


o    At the beginning of the cruise during embarkation day only, guests (21 years of age and older) may bring one 750 ml bottle of sealed/unopened wine or champagne per person in their carry-on luggage.


o    A $15 corkage fee (a charge exacted at a restaurant for every bottle of wine served that was not bought on the premises), per 750 ml bottle, will be charged should guests wish to consume their wine or champagne in the main dining room, steakhouse or bar. 


  • All liquor, beer, other forms of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages outside of the exceptions referenced above are strictly prohibited in both carry-on and checked luggage and such items will be confiscated and discarded and no compensation will be provided.


  • All alcohol purchased in ports of call or in the Fun Shops will be returned on the morning of debarkation.


  • Guests are prohibited from bringing large coolers onboard since screening and movement of large coolers through embarkation is an impediment to the boarding and security process. However small, personal-sized coolers, no larger than 12”H x 12”L x 12”W for the purpose of housing small quantities of non-alcoholic beverages and/or medications are permitted as carry-on luggage.


We know some of our guests are accustomed to bringing on their own supply of bottled water so as part of this new policy we have significantly reduced the pricing for spring bottled water which will be conveniently delivered directly to your stateroom. Pricing is as follows:  


  • $2.99 (plus tax) for a 12-pack of 500 ML of bottled water for pre-cruise purchase. Please visit to place your order before your cruise to ensure we have an ample supply onboard.  


  • $4.99 (plus gratuities) for a 12-pack of 500 ML of bottled water for purchase onboard.

We sincerely apologize for any disappointment these changes may cause however, we firmly believe this will result in a safer environment while also improving the embarkation process and the overall guest experience. 

This has been coming for some time and while Riclop on the Cruise Critic boards spend their time jumping up and down in their mother’s attic saying Carnival is doing this to make money let me say here and now, we are not, it’s that simple but let me say that again, this is not based on revenue at all. In fact, we do not anticipate any increase in revenue as a result of this policy change, particularly given the big reduction in price we have instituted for 12 packs of bottled water. This is all about safety and, although I cannot mention any specifics, it does not take Sherlock Holmes to realise that in life on land and sea, serious incidents can occur as the result of unmonitored alcohol consumption. So while Riclop looks for the voodoo doll that looks like a cross between me and Gomer Pyle so they can insert pins in my buttocks…….. let’s talk some more about water and soda, shall we?

Everyone has a bottle of water or a soda at their desk or at home or where they work or in the gym or in the car or by the side of the bed. Why and when did this happen? I am very much aware that people with perfect teeth who work for marketing companies have convinced us all into believing that we must drink water from exotic places like, Switzerland, Iceland, Fiji or Cleveland.

Yes, we must all have bottled water in our lives and when we don’t……we get moody. I am sure not everyone will read the various forms of communication Carnival has used to get this message out. That means if you are in embarkation at any home port in the coming weeks as you approach the port security you will see the forlorn look of those guests who have their bottles taken away from them. Some will be upset because they have to dispose of their water. Others will be upset because their bottle cost $10 to fill up because it is full of Grey sodding Goose.

Ten years ago, less even, the only people who carried a water bottle hooked to their belt were explorers or someone who was heading to a forward operating base in Iraq. Now…….we all do it, including myself. Water is made even more enticing if it’s not been filtered by volcanic rock or from a hidden spring high in the Alps next to a Toblerone factory or bottled at source from an ancient and natural spring.

People want a quick easy fix to whatever they believe is ailing them. What could be quicker and easier than drinking water? People come in to work carrying a two-liter bottle of water. “I really overdid it at the weekend. I went to the gym for three hours, had a marathon rumpy pumpy session with the wife, in a hammock and then ran a marathon before bedtime……….. I’m going to drink this whole bottle today!”

Sometimes you just have to congratulate bottled water companies, they extract water which originally fell over five thousand years ago and that during the thousands of years under the soil has gone through some of the greatest filtering processes known to man, passing between limestone and rocks full of minerals and goodness. And even though the water is from a 5,000-year-old spring, there’s an expiration date on it! But for those who do not want to drink our water provided at every meal, we are now selling water on board for close to the same price you pay at Walkaygreenmart and not have to carry a case of it off the plane, onto the bus or taxi, through the lines at embarkation and onto the ship to your cabin sweating like a yak in a microwave. So we have your bottled water waiting for you or you can order online. We will now be very strict in homeports and all ports of call in stopping anyone with plastic bottles, regardless of what is in them.

Next up, we will be coming down hard on herbal tea drinkers for the damage they do to the ship’s plumbing system.


Your friend,


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Amanda Tue, 09 Jun 2015 20:01:26 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 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.


]]> 27
John’s alternative “OH FFS FAQs” Fri, 05 Jun 2015 14:19:33 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Let’s leap in straight away with today’s Q & A – here we go.

Jean Reid asks:
Dear John: I am traveling with my children on the Pride in August. My daughter has a severe peanut allergy. We always travel with EpiPens and we both are very careful to quiz staff about ingredients in her food. I am aware that I need to let Carnival know before we sail about her allergy, but am unsure of that contact information.

John says:
Hello Jean Reid

Please do not worry as we are well prepared to help all we can here. I do advise that you send this to the guest access services department in Miami and also if you can send me a reminder on my page the day before the cruise with your cabin number, I will let the ship have one more reminder. Please let me know if there is anything else at all I can do for you and I will be here. Best wishes.


Leighanne Zdobysz asks:
Hi John: I just got off Carnival Breeze this past Saturday and it is one of my favorite ships. I have cruised on it twice in the last two years. (FYI: Matt Mitchum is so beautiful- love him and the entertainment team). Excellent cruise and had such a good time. Love Carnival. My question is this: Awesome taco and burrito bar at the BlueIguana Cantina.  Where are the chips??? The food is amazing, the salsas are superb but no chips. Yes, I am an entitled American but figured I can’t be the only one who wants chips for the fabulous salsa provided. Chips, salsa, tacos, burritos, makes sense, right??? Thanks John.

John says:
Hello Leighanne Zdobysz

I see you are a fan of Matt Mitchum and there are many that would agree with your comments, I will pass them to him. The salsa bar is for toppings for the wonderful tacos we serve from the BlueIguana Cantina and serving chips from there is a very messy process as well. However, there have been other comments asking that we add this, so I will again address this with the beards. Thanks so much and I hope we see you sailing again very soon. Best wishes.


Jack Gandy asks:
We are just off Carnival Miracle. There was a small group of deaf passengers. The staff had reserved seats for them at the big shows. There were interpreters standing directly in front of the stage so we could not see anything because of them. I know they were trying to help but their waving around their arms like that spoiled the enjoyment for us and other passengers. Carnival should have planned this better IMHO.

John says:
Hello Jack Gandy

The interpreters of today are amazing as they do not just sign the show they “live” it and doing this enables those who can’t hear the music to really feel part of what is happening on stage. The theatre is big enough that there are good seats for all and I hope you had a brilliant time despite this concern. Best wishes.


Cassandra Gabris asks:
Is it true that as a PLATINUM VIP I can no longer bring my two sisters to the private party? I have cruised with them now twice both on Carnival Triumph and they have always been able to come. If Carnival has changed this policy, I will consider moving my money to another cruise line that will let me bring them in to a party held for its VIPS. My sister has every right to attend this party. She is a single mom who has raised two children on her own, so Carnival is going to stop her from having a few drinks? How can you justify this?

John says:
Hello Cassandra Gabris

Yes, this is correct. The party is now strictly for Diamond and Platinum card holders. The reason we have changed the party rules is because they were simply overcrowded and service was definitely an issue. So I hope you will continue to cruise with us. You and your sisters have obviously had fun with us before and those fun times are waiting again. Please let me know if I can help you with anything else. Best wishes.


Phillip Castelucci asks:
Dear Sir: My lovely wife, Angela, tried for many years to get me to take a cruise to no avail. I am a retired law enforcement officer, due to injuries suffered in the line of duty, and use a cane as walking is a bit difficult for me. Last year, I finally gave in and, with many misgivings, we went on Carnival Victory for our first-ever cruise. Busted up retired cops aren’t the easiest people to be around, much less please, but that cruise was a life-changing event for me. You unpack one time, you’re pampered, waited on hand and foot, eat fantastic meals, see great entertainment every night, don’t have to drive, and all this while your luxurious resort is taking you to wonderful places. Even a gimpy old man like me can walk to the dining room, Lido deck, theater, bar and Serenity deck, but if you are a little too sore one day, you can soak in the hot tub while a waiter brings you drinks! What a concept!

As you can imagine, I have been converted. We just got off the Carnival Valor after an eight-day and we’re making plans to take my wife’s parents with us on our next cruise later this year or early next, depending on their schedule. I would like to say how great our trip on Carnival Valor was, especially due to the superb staff. Borislov, our head-waiter in the MDR, assisted by Paolo and Mohammed, made every evening a dining pleasure, as poor Effendi tried to have our drinks present almost before they were ordered. Our room steward, Sudi, kept cabin 1062 spotless, turned down our sheets, and made us look forward to see which member of the towel
menagerie would join us next.

When my wife was concerned about plugging in a CPAP machine, he magically made an extension cord appear. The entertainment on board was extraordinary! The Las Vegas-style dancers and singers in the Ivanhoe theatre amazed me (how do they change clothes so fast, it takes me longer to change shoes?). We enjoyed the music and singing of Tom Vincent, and TJ provided one of the trip’s high points with the best rendition of the song
“Hallelujah” I’ve ever heard. It gave me goose bumps. I still can’t believe a man can juggle flaming knives and ride an 8-foot unicycle, all while making a crowd roar with laughter, but I saw it! And what a privilege to have an opportunity to chat and get to know Calvyn, the cruise director, who has probably been returned to the psychological ward by now. Mr. Heald, on the days when everyone seems to complain and says they’re unhappy, please keep in mind that for every one of them, there are probably a thousand people like me, who are quietly reminiscing, showing photos and bragging to their friends, all while anticipating the next voyage on a Carnival Fun Ship. I thank you, and I thank every one of the Carnival employees who makes this all possible.

Phillip Castelucci

John says:
Hello Philip Castelucci

Thanks for making my day brighter with this brilliant review. What a tremendous joy it was to read this and what a joy it will be to send this to the ship. There are many people you mentioned that will be so proud to know that they made such a difference to your cruise vacation so, again, thanks so much for taking the time to write. I do hope there will be many more cruises like this in your future and, if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know. Best wishes.


Myleen Fernley asks:
If I give him the bottled water, will the cabin attendant make me a bucket of ice from it?? We do not like the taste of the ship water. Will they do this?????

John says:
Hello Myleen Fernley

I actually don’t think we can, unfortunately, because we have our ice made in industrial machines, not individual cubes.  Have a brilliant time. Best wishes.


Tom Sorrells asks:
John first I want to thank you for many hours of entertainment reading your blog and I follow you faithfully on Facebook, your writing is a never-ending source of amusement. Now my question. The changes in loyalty program are understandable. The parties are overcrowded and not enjoyable but the opportunity to meet the crew in a controlled environment and speak with them one on one is the only reason my wife and I attend them. We are Gold VIFP cruisers and ask for nothing as a reward for having fun on vacation, but what will happen when we Gold card holders reach Platinum? The numbers at parties return to where they are. Just like the past loyalty program, when the goal is in sight, it is moved back. Why? I am not saying that we will stop cruising with Carnival because we will not but we certainly have lost respect for a company that we thought respected and appreciated returning customers. So what is the plan? As more of us get close to Platinum, you raise the number of days to put that out of reach? I know you are tired of the complaints and I sincerely apologize for this note but this really bothers me. Hope you can get an answer and let me know what the plan is and possibly explain to the folks that make these decisions that the only reason there are so many Gold members is because you do things right. Also, I bet there are a lot of us Gold card carriers that have cruised more than some of your Platinum members. On our last cruise I met a couple that were Platinum, with only 28 days cruised, because they reached it under the old program and they cruise once every few years.

John says:
Hello Tom Sorrells

Thank you for writing to me and doing so passionately and honestly. I realise that, when changes are made like this, there are going to be those who are disappointed, those who are upset and angry, even. But, as you said, the parties were overcrowded and made service a huge challenge for the crew and resulted in occasions where we did not provide the service expected. For now, we are going to offer Gold card holders a complimentary drink coupon redeemable from 5pm on the last sea day at all the bars and lounges. We feel that giving everyone the evening is enough time to enjoy, but we will monitor this and evaluate any changes we need to make. I hope, also, you will reach the Platinum level which will entitle you to many more benefits. You made some great points in your post and I thank you for doing so. I hope we see you soon and if there is anything I can do for you, please do let me know. Best wishes.


Joe Cefola asks:
John, when is the Carnival Sunshine going to be in dry dock?  I see it was last remodeled in Nov. 2011.

John says:
Hello Joe

Thanks, but according to our records, the ship underwent the full Fun Ship 2.0 refit in 2013.  Have not seen a schedule for any upcoming renovations but will advise if and when I do.

Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.


Norma Pruritus asks:
Traveling with my eight-year-old who has Asperger syndrome can be full of challenges. I was a nervous wreck but let me tell you that our cruise on Carnival Paradise was exactly that —  PARADISE. This was thanks to all those people at Camp Carnival who were caring and fun and I cannot thank them all enough. A huge shout out goes to the young lady from Belarus whose name is Alena, although I may not have gotten that spelling right. She never forgot my son’s name. She always made sure he got his banana split with whipped cream and one night she gave him a special photo of the ship signed by the captain. I had not asked for this but this gesture meant so much to him. I will cruise many times again with Carnival because of people like this.

John says:
Hello Norma Pruritus

This truly brought a smile to my face and will be passing this to the Camp Carnival staff, their managers and, of course, Alena, too. I do hope we will see you and the family again soon and please can you let me know if there is ever anything I can do for you. Best wishes.


Andrew Reinke asks:
I just got off the Carnival Magic and am very angry at what happened to me. I have taken part and won the auditions to play Frank Sinatra in three Carnival Legends show. This time, I entered the auditions and I was not chosen. This was because the man who won was 90 years old but was not a good singer. He was terrible; he didn’t know the words, could not even hold the tune of the song properly. I was disgusted and so were other passengers. He won on sympathy, not because he was the best singer. The rule needs to be the best singer wins!!! I will not be taking part in any more Legends shows because of this.

John says:
Hello Andrew Reinke,

I am sorry to read how this has upset you. I understand that you were disappointed but I will also say that the winner of each audition is decided by guest applause. And, in this case, I am sure despite this 90-year-old gentleman not being the best singer, I am sure he was a wonderfully spirited chap to get on stage and perform and it was this that won the audience over. I do hope that we will see you cruise again and I do hope that you will audition. Best wishes.


And that’s all for today. Thanks, everyone, for your comments and questions. It’s good to be back blogging wearing only my…………..well……………….you know.

Last week, a lady called Mischelle, who is in charge of Funville and Carnival’s Facebook page, put together a new FAQ list on our web site that is simply brilliant and includes a new search function that saves quite a bit of time. However, as brilliant as the new FAQ section on, I feel it is my duty as your Brand Ambassador to offer some of my own FAQs or as I like to call it, “John’s FFS List.”

You are going on a cruise FFS, not a sodding Amazon expedition. Don’t over pack by taking at least three shirts you don’t need (men) or a dress that you “bought for the vacation” to add to the 17 other dresses that you’ve “bought for your vacation” every year for the past decade on your way to being a Diamond guest (women). And you certainly don’t need that many shoes. Pair of flip-flops x 1. The shoes you’re travelling in x 1. That’s it. Furthermore, it won’t be “cold in the venings on the Carnival Breeze,” – you’re in the Caribbean for crying out loud – so take out the five fleeces you’ve packed “just in case.”

Mosquito Spray
There are some ports where Carnival suggests you bring mosquito spray to protect you against everything that these little bastards of nature can hurl at you? Get bit by the wrong mosquito and, according to Dr. Google, you can experience vomiting, headaches, fever, a rash, and who knows what else. Of course many of these cases are not reported because even though men have all these symptoms, they refuse to admit anything’s wrong and refuse to see the doctor. Pack it. Use it.

Arrival to the Ship
You are travel-tired; you have flown from Cleveland, Ohio, to Miami having gotten up at 5 am to make the flight. You have been reclined on, charged $10 for a sandwich on the plane; you’re tired, grumpy and just want to get to the ship. It is a 30 minutes away in a taxi driven by someone called Jean Pierre who refuses to turn the air conditioning on to save fuel and the cab smells like the inside of yak’s scrotum, FFS. All you crave is your cabin, but you can’t have it, because, on arrival at embarkation, you are told the cabin is not ready yet and won’t be until after 1 pm. And, as you wait to board, people breeze past you wearing shiny cards on their lanyards. Why do they have shiny cards when you have a blue one and why are these bastards allowed on the ship before you and why does one man have loads of Carnival pins on a hat? And why does one man have an inflatable kangaroo on his back? You have finally begun the walk to the ship dragging your carry on and your family behind you. And there she is– your ship of dreams. You look like hell, you smell like hell and then, suddenly, out of nowhere, someoone whose name tag says his name is Ketut says he will take your picture. You politely refuse but your wife overrules you, so you stand there with hair looking like you just stuck your finger in an electrical socket and lakes of sweat seeping from your armpits having Ketut take your photo knowing you will have to buy the sodding thing before anyone else laughs at the sweaty chap with the Don King style hair. Oh, FFS. But finally you are on the ship and a polite and friendly bar waiter whose name tag says his name is “Ketut” ……….is everyone called Ketut?…………gives you  a “welcome aboard drink.” By one sip, reveals it to be a rum filled tropical drink that is already easing away the stress……..ohhh, lovely……….oh, hold on a minute. Why is Ketut asking me for my Sail & Sign card? What is my Sail & Sign card? Oh, hold on. He wants my blue thing. Why? Oh FFS, it’s not a free drink. I thought it was………..Oh well, who cares. It’s doing the job, I am smiling for the first time in many hours. “Hey, Ketut, one more please.”

Your Cabin
It’s 1p m and time to go to your cabin. You are confident you know where to go and so you lead your family to the elevators. Someone is smiling at you. They are wearing a bright red shirt that says “Just Ask” but you don’t need to ask because your brain has a built-in GPS system. “Just Ask,” my arse. You come out of the elevator and walk confidently to your cabin which is 7324. Ahh, 7321, 7323, so the next one should be……..Oh FFS……7325? What? Where is 7324?

Your wife looks at you. You know that look so well. It means- you are a stupid bastard and that you will not be getting any of that rumpy pumpy that you have been fantasing about. Your wife takes charge. She marches the family back to the elevator lobby where she finds a “You Are Here” sign, realises that your built-in GPS has led them to the wrong side of the ship and, thanks to her, you finally arrive in your cabin. That bed looks so inviting but the kids want to explore. They want an ice cream and a pizza and……..hold on; someone is knocking on the cabin door. It’s the cabin steward. But his name isn’t Stewart, it’s ummmm……….Oh, another Ketut. You will come to know Ketut, the cabin steward, very well. He will turn your towels into art. He is amazing, friendly and your family will love him and that $100 you had budgeted for the casino, will be taken from you by your wife to give Ketut because your family “loves him” and it will be his “extra tip.” Ketut’s specialty will be taking bathroom textiles and turning them into swans and elephants. At least once, when alone, you will try this for yourself. It won’t work. Rather than a beautiful swan, you will create something that looks like road kill. FFS.

Cruise Ship Sun
Please bring sun cream. It is so very important and failure to do so will result in pain worse than anything seen in a Game of Thrones torture chamber. You know that sun cream is important, so you pack lots but you will also discover that you are from Cleveland and, unless you live in Hawaii, that sun cream is the most annoying substance on earth. It is either too thick and viscous or too runny and thin. And, because no one ever puts the same factor on their arms as on their Cleveland-living pasty torso, you will need several bottles of the horrible, greasy stuff. By the time you have applied it all correctly, at all the right levels in all the right places, a Caribbean rain storm will have swept in and you will have to sit under the RedFrog Rum Bar on Lido bar reeking of Coppertone. The solution? Stay in the shade, reading a book or go play Harry Potter Trivia because your kids have made you watch every movie 50 times and you may just win one of those strange solid gold trophies you have seen. So you play trivia. You lose. Because the person with the hat on with all the Carnival pins on it wins and seems to know the answers before the question is asked.

If you have young children, please send them to Camp Ocean. The brilliant staff is there to entertain them and let you relax with that book. If you do not take the kids to Camp Ocean, there is sod all point in packing a book at all. You will get two paragraphs in and just as Mr. Grey is about to tickle her lady garden with an ostrich feather, you will be required to swim, use the WaterWorks, get them an ice cream, use the WaterWorks again, swim, more ice cream, take them to the loo, trudge back to the room because of a forgotten cuddly toy or try, at their insistence, to make a towel elephant which ends up looking like a deformed Yak. Taking your child on a Carnival cruise is an amazing experience. They will be full of life, energy. But then, like an eye phone which is down to the last one percent after battery level, one minute your kids will be functioning normally, singing and dancing and bouncing on the cabin bed, cuddling the towel monkey Ketut has made and the next, they will be gone, screen blank, functionless. But charging, slowly, sucking in whatever it is sleep gives kids, ready to go full charged to enjoy another brilliant day on the Carnival Breeze in the morning. If, however, you have the luxury of no children, then your poolside reading material should be chosen to impress. You do not want to be the person everyone else refers to in hushed tones as “the one reading a sex book” If you must read 50 Shades of Grey, FFS, get a Kindle.

The Cheers Program
If you buy our Cheers program, so you’re debating with yourself whether or not it’s acceptable to have a Bloody Mary at breakfast (it is), then a Sex on the Beach at noon and because of you taking the family to the wrong side of the ship on embarkation day, you realise that it is the only sex you are getting……so have one. You’re on a cruise, so enjoy it.

Going Home
Do not be the person travelling back to a cold, rain-soaked Ohio in your cruise clothes. If you are the person getting off the plane in Cleveland, clinging onto the last vestiges of your cruise by wearing flip-flops, shorts that show your sunburnt radish legs, a I Have Been To Hell T-shirt from Grand Cayman and a straw hat that you haggled for at the Jamaican craft market, then you are the person everyone hates. Don’t do it. I will have more of John’s FFS advice in the weeks ahead as I cover the topics of meeting new friends at dinner, elevator etiquette and how going to the guest services desk on embarkation day and asking for an upgrade from an inside cabin to a balcony is as plausible as J.C. Penney giving you a pair of Calvin Klein underpants……. when you’ve only paid for a pair of Fruit of the Loom tightie whities. Oh FFS.


Your friend,

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