John Heald's Blog Fri, 08 May 2015 19:39:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Changes to VIFP loyalty program Fri, 08 May 2015 19:39:21 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Re-posting here for those without Facebook

(May 6, 2015 12:30AM) So here I am in Hawaii, it’s 6:30pm or 12:30am Miami time. I will try and stay up for a while but feel totally drained after two very very long flights. I will be back tomorrow with news and conversation but I wanted to share the news now of a change to our VIFP party.

As a part of our new VIFP loyalty program we have decided to make some changes to the party which let’s face it has become very challenging to service properly.

Now these challenges have come about for great reasons and that is the rapid increase of the number of Gold Card holders. Many of you have seen and indeed many of you have commented on how busy the party has been and in many cases we have had to hold two parties to accommodate the large numbers of invited guests. These numbers can, on some ships pass the 1500 mark which again makes the high standards of service you expect and the standard of service that we strive to provide quite challenging.

The party also loses that intimate feel that a party that is designed to celebrate your loyalty should have and so with these reasons in mind we will 5/15 departures change to inviting only Diamond and Platinum guests to the VIFP party.

Hold on…………..before Gold card holders start to burn effigies of me in my underpants let me tell you this.

To say thank you for your loyalty we will provide each Gold card holder with a drink coupon to the value of $9 which will be usable on the last sea day of the cruise from any bar on the ship on voyages of 5 days or more. This is along with the complimentary bottle of water we already provide. Hopefully you will appreciate and enjoy this amenity and meanwhile let me thank you for your loyalty and I hope soon you will be holding your bright and shiny platinum card and be on your way to diamond.

Now for my platinum and diamond friends, the VIFP party is being revamped ready for this change. Most of the time the count will allow us to hold the party in smaller lounges to the main theater and you can look forward to a more intimate party, details coming soon. The diamond guests will continue to receive their special event with the Captain and there are no other current changes to the VIFP program.

Thank you all for your time and your loyalty, long may that continue



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HAIL TO THE CHIEF Thu, 15 Jan 2015 17:24:37 +0000 Continue reading ]]> It is with great pleasure that I introduce you all to our new President and the lady at the helm of your next brilliant Carnival cruise vacation. Please say hello to Christine Duffy

Christine photo red jacket

I guess we should start off with a simple but  important question………….how do you feel?

Excited, honored and so very proud to be given the opportunity to lead this iconic brand and the Carnival team who serve our guests!

Can you tell us where you are from and about  your employment journey so far?

I started my career as the receptionist at Rosenbluth Travel in Philadelphia after being turned down to be a Pan Am flight attendant.  I had gone through several interviews with Pan Am, and in the end, was told I didn’t meet the height requirement. I then spent 20 years at McGettigan Partners, another Philadelphia agency that specialized in corporate group meeting and incentive travel programs.  After 20 years at McGettigan, we sold the business to St Louis-based Maritz Travel Company in 2001, and I was appointed President and CEO of Maritz Travel in 2004 and served in that role until 2011 when I joined Cruise Lines International Association.

Some of the readers here may not be aware of the superb work that CLIA does for the cruise industry. I think it is very important that we fanfare this and your role there so please could you explain what CLIA is all about and your role there?

I have been President and CEO of CLIA since 2011. CLIA is the trade association representing the global cruise industry. With 62 cruise line members, 275 Executive Partners representing industry suppliers including ports and destinations around the world, and more than 12,000 travel agency members with over 50,000 agents, CLIA is the largest cruise industry association operating under our “One Industry, One Voice” mission. CLIA works to promote cruising by providing training and certification to travel agents and promotional events, like CLIA Cruise Week and the annual Cruise3sixty conference.   CLIA’s Global Technical and Regulatory team represents the industry at the International Maritime Organization in London.  CLIA committees bring cruise line members together on a regular basis to share best practices and implement policies that go above and beyond international requirements in the safety, comfort and care of our guests along with a commitment to continuous improvement around environmental impact.

So here you are ready to take the helm of the world’s most popular cruise line. What are your goals for the first few months in the job?

Listen, listen, listen and learn as much as I can from our guests, from Carnival team members shoreside and team members on board our ships who serve our guests every day. I plan to visit our ships and meet team members and guests on board as much as possible.

I know you and your family just spent a week on the Carnival Breeze. Can you tell us about this experience, what you enjoyed and anything you saw that you feel we can do even better with?

We had our best family cruise ever on the Breeze. It is a FUN ship! I went down both slides in the water park, enjoyed the spa for relaxation, visited the indoor and outdoor fitness areas to work off the calories from the great food on board. From the specialty restaurants to the dining room to Guy’s burgers, Bonsai Sushi and the Cantina we loved it all! The crew was amazing and constantly go above and beyond for our guests. There is so much to do on board and, of course, we had the opportunity to experience great destinations. I can’t wait to do it again!

Do you have a message for the thousands of Carnival customers who are reading this?

Along with our talented team, I am very proud and honored to continue the legacy of Carnival Cruise Line creating lasting memories  for our loyal customers and those who may be sailing with us or cruising for the first time.

And some getting to know you questions.

Sunrise or Sunset ?


Favourite movie?

A Wonderful Life

A port of call you have never sailed into but really want to?


Real books or a Kindle/ E Reader?


Who makes you laugh?

Our son Sean

Finally………..On accepting the role of President, the now retired  Gerry Cahill had to sing a Karaoke song in front of all the shore side employees in the Carnival Cafeteria. He chose “Just A Gigolo.“

This is now a tradition for our Presidents to do this so………………what song can we look forward to hearing you sing?

We are Family!

Thank you Christine and we all look forward to sharing our Carnival journeys with you.




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Thanks Gerry Mon, 03 Nov 2014 15:57:06 +0000 Continue reading ]]> I will be very sad to see our President and CEO Gerry Cahill retire at the end of this month. Now some may be thinking that it’s the sort of thing that an employee with a Facebook and blog read by many thousands of people has to say in public………… but I genuinely mean it.

During his time in the big chair, Gerry had some challenges for sure, including a leviathan of a recession to maneuver through and, of course, the incidents on the Carnival Splendor and Carnival Triumph.

Through it all Gerry was there. I remember how I personally saw him carry guests’ suitcases from deck 7 to the gangway on deck 0 when the Carnival Splendor arrived into San Diego –something he repeated on the Carnival Triumph. The anguish and care he showed every single minute anything challenging happened was absolute and anyone who says different truly does not know the man at all.
There is a side to Gerry that I have seen over and over again through my time on stage with him, my interviews with him and my personal time with him and I wanted to share those thoughts with you. I saw the complete concern and care he had for all of you, our guests. Gerry also showed right from the moment he took the position of CEO that the well-being and motivation of his most valuable assets, his employees, was something he took very seriously.

And in a tough economic climate that Gerry inherited this made total sense. Like all CEOs, not every decision he made was greeted with cheers from some of you. But his skills and his drive and his belief that Carnival was and is the best cruise line in the world made for competitiveness, sustainable growth, investment in much of the fleet with the Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades and the continuing affordable prices you will pay for your next brilliant Carnival cruise vacation.

Gerry is strong-willed and he always talks a lot about the importance of his team. Some of you may think that this is some Heald spin but his colleagues will confirm it – Gerry is devoted to 360-degree feedback from his shoreside and shipboard staff. He also reads what you have to say here and on my blog with your feedback being extremely influential.

Gerry and I had some fun times on water slides, on stage and we faced some challenging times together. I remember when we delivered the Carnival Dream, my first real up close and personal meeting with Gerry. We were in the shipyard in Italy and I was about to have lunch with Gerry Cahill and the Fincantieri executives.

Well ……… I had no idea what to wear. We were still in the final stages of getting the ship ready for delivery and I didn’t have anything overly smart to wear for the lunch and the following press meeting and tour and besides I had no idea what everyone else would be wearing. But I was about to eat lunch with our president and CEO ……………what the hell do I wear?

If I wore a blazer and shirt and dress pants and everyone else was dressed casually I would be perceived as a kiss arse and if I decide to wear casual attire and showed up in sweat pants designed by Omar The Tent Maker and a T-shirt with more X’s in the label than a Latvian porno movie…… and Mr. Cahill is clad in a Giorgio Versacamani suit……I would be on the next flight home for sure.

It was a dilemma. So I called my wife for advice and Heidi said, “Why not call Gerry before you eat lunch and ask him what he is wearing.”  Oh yes, I can see that now can’t you?

“Hello Gerry, it’s John…..John …..John Heald….… senior cruise director……you know…the blogger………..yes, the fat one. Sorry to bother you Gerry but I wondered what you were going to wear for lunch.”

Well I need not have bothered because I can honestly say that Gerry is as down to earth as you could possibly imagine a CEO could be. He was dressed for that lunch as he often is, in a pair of chinos and open neck shirt. Often when we did announcements on stage and press occasions together he would decree these occasions “no tie zones” ………brilliant.

I know people at the top of the Carnival Corporation & plc will be sad too to see him go and despite many conversations and an offer of me becoming Gerry’s personal assistant and to dress in short skirts and high heels every day, Gerry will leave Carnival and spend quality time with his wife and daughters who I know he loves unconditionally.

He leaves behind a cruise line that thanks to his hard work and your support continues to shine brightly and every time you enjoy any of our Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades, think of Gerry and every time you walk into a RedFrog Pub think of Gerry and raise a glass of ThirstyFrog Red and toast the man who all of us will miss, a man who simply wanted you to have the……… best of times.

Thanks for the memories Gerry, enjoy your retirement and never forget…………a fat bloke in socks who beat you down the racing slides on the Carnival Dream.

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2 Family Guys Fri, 05 Sep 2014 16:46:57 +0000 Continue reading ]]> As this will be my last blog for a while. I wanted to cram in as many questions as I can, so let’s start today with some immediate Q & A. Off we trot

Linda Corbett asks:
Hi John!  I am returned from a back-to-back-to-back.  It was wonderful!  My CD was Marcelo Alvarado and, needless to say, he was fantastic – great sense of humor, attention to detail, entertainment.  From the first week, July 26, I would like to recognized my cabin steward Michael. He was very detailed in taking care of me (I traveled solo).  He made me a towel animal zoo, some of which I moved to the next cabin that I had on the following cruise.  A birthday cake made of towels and a monkey bearing a birthday card were the cutest!  In the dining room, Reynaldo from the Philippines and Peter from Hungary, are to be commended. Peter in particular, was the one who ran off to pick up orders and to dance (boy, did he dance!).  But he also knew what I and the others at the table wanted and would note that I had did not have what I wanted and would correct the matter without me saying a word.

Although they were moved around at the end of the first cruise, I would still see these two gentlemen throughout the other two cruises and they would still be friendly and quite helpful.  Mr. V, my maître d’ was great!  He danced, he sang, and ran a tight ship.  Dinner was quickly served and dessert was normally ordered before the dining room entertainment began. The second cruise, July 31, Imade was my cabin steward.  He remained my cabin steward for the third cruise also. He exceeded my expectations.  Kept me supplied with ice, continued my towel zoo, and was always friendly, although he was busy, busy, busy.

In the main dining room, Merwyn, our head waiter, saw to it that orders were correct, and again dinner was normally completed by “showtime.”  Abigael, our hostess, was – the entire time, an angel. I think she knew my name the very first night! She was always very sweet and friendly.  When she thought I had left the ship and she did not get to say goodbye, she was sad; but, as it was, I had not left, and when she saw me, she greeted me with genuine excitement.  She always placed me at a window table for breakfast, brunch, or lunch. I look forward to seeing her on Carnival Freedom in Galveston! Third cruise – I had the same cabin steward.  The dining room crew was led by the funny and entertaining Leonardo.  He was attentive to us all.  When I did not want to eat more, he would take a utensil and spoon feed me.  He also did this to another table mate.  We enjoyed it and his dancing! :-)

Now – overall, as I mentioned previously, the ship is gorgeous.  I look forward to seeing it after dry dock.  I fell in love with the colors and the decor.  The food was hot and it was good.  Inside and out, the ship was clean.  The first part of my cruise, the Past Guest party, just happened to fall on my birthday.  What I treat it was when Marcelo announced that no diamonds were present and that I was on my milestone cruise!  I was blessed to be the one to be photographed with the ship’s officers!  The entire 14 days were filled with special treats and surprises for me.  It was fantastic! Marcelo was terrific in his CD duties, the other officers and staff members were very kind throughout the cruises. But the one that really stood out was the captain!  He told me that he was going to sing down in the Latin Lounge and he kept his word!  It was fantastic.  I was sad that he was leaving before me, but the captain who replaced him is just as cool.  Please thank them all for making me feel like more than just a passenger – more than a guest – but a friend!

John says:
Hello Linda Corbett

What a fantastic review and what a brilliant advert for the Carnival Victory this is. I can tell you that there will be many happy crew indeed when they see this as will the senior managers, as well. I know how much joy and kindness you bring to them whenever you sail and for that I thank you. I hope we see you again very soon and, as always, if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know. Best wishes.


Simon M asks:
Your KAN fans make me nauseous with their begging. What happened to earning a ship on a stick and buying gifts for family not getting licking the supersized cruise director’s backside to do it? Cruise directors are all the same, they sound the same and all do the same tired old jokes. Do not worry Heald because you are my second favorite cruise director AFTER EVERY OTHER CRUISE DIRECTOR CARNIVAL HAS – LMAO.

John says:
Hello Simon M

You’re right, we do have a brilliant group of cruise directors, so thank you for taking the time to mention that they are all your favorites. I am sure that will make their day. I will address the other part of your comment later in the blog, if I may, because I need to give that some serious consideration. I may not be your favourite cruise director but if there is anything I can do for you or your family, please let me know. Best wishes.


Sheila Ashby asks:
We just returned from the Alaska cruise and had a wonderful time. On both of our shore excursions, we were encouraged to give feedback to Carnival for further recommendations. I asked at the shore excursion desk on board how we give feedback and was told to log on to Carnival. However, I do not see a place for feedback. Thank you for directing me as to how I can do this. Finally, you are very funny and we enjoyed attending events you hosted and watching the Morning Show with you and your assistant.

John says:
Hello Sheila Ashby

I hope you did, indeed, have a brilliant time here and I would ask that you send me all the excursion feedback here to the blog. You can mark it as “not for posting” if you wish and I will then send it to our Miami beards in charge of this department. If there is anything else I can do for you, please do let me know. Best wishes.


Cristina Aldaco asks:
This request is for my booking ****** on 10/9 Carnival Liberty. I suffer from serious claustrophobia and have doctor’s letters and evidence to back me up. I have asked for an upgrade to a balcony but have had no cooperation from Carnival. This is terrible care and customer service. Can something be done for me because I just cannot stay in a cabin with no window or with a balcony and cannot afford to book an upgrade to one???

John says:
Hello Cristina Aldaco

I am sorry to read about this and I am sorry that we are unable to offer you an upgrade for free at this time. I do hope you will be able to enjoy the cruise though and if there is anything else you would like to ask, please let me know. Until then, I wish you a brilliant time. Best wishes


Sarah asks:
Can you tell me if the Carnival Magic will go into dry dock before June 21, 2015! We recently booked this ship, and we didn’t realize that it didn’t have a Guy’s Burger Joint. (A very tearful moment) it was our groups favorite lunch spot! I’m sure it’s already a great ship and we will have a blast regardless. Please let me know!! Thanks

John says:
Hello Sarah

At this point, Carnival Magic will not undergo a dry dock before you sail next June, unfortunately.  Regardless, the ship has lots of great places to enjoy wonderful food and I am sure you and your friends will have a brilliant time. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.


Debra Longhany asks:
I am part of a group of 18 cabins booked on the Carnival Conquest 9/21. We are all huge NY Giants fanatics and need assurances that the boat will show the game with the Falcons on 9/25. This would have a serious negative impact on our cruise if you guys do not show this and there will be 32 very angry people. What assurances can you give me that we will have the game shown and shown on the giant screen?

John says:
Hello Debra Longhany

I am afraid I can give you no assurances at all right now. We can only show what our satellite provider sends us and while we do have Fox as one of our stations, it depends on what feed we get if the game is shown. I will be able to confirm if we can or not a few days before the cruise when I will post the NFL games the fleet will show on my  As for the game being shown on the big screen, well that is at the cruise director’s discretion and sometimes we keep to the movie schedule as the movies are, for the most part, more popular with guests and so the game will be shown in the EA Sports Bar. I hope that you will realise that there is far more to look forward to on the cruise and not worry too much about the game.

Regina Washington asks:
My husband has a healthy appetite LOL. Are there any rules on how many items he can order from the menu? We are doing our first-ever cruise August 24 on the Carnival Sensation. I have been told the restaurant has booths. Please can we not sit in a booth? My husband is a big man 350 pounds. He will not fit in the booth. Thank you, sir, for answering and helping me.

John says:
Hello Regina Washington

Yes, indeed, let you husband order what he wishes and I am sure he will enjoy the wonderful food selections as I’m sure you will as well.  I will send a note to the maître d and ask that he put you at a table and not a booth. I hope you have a brilliant time and I am sure this will be the first of many. Best wishes.


Cara asks:
Hi John: Could you please tell me if there is going to be a pirate day on the Carnival Dream in September? I would love to show my pirate pride but will not bring the costume if not needed. Thank you for all you do. Love ya.

John says:
Hello Cara

It will be on September 19 and, if you go back to the blog a couple of weeks ago called Pirates of the Caribbean, you will find all the details there. Thanks so much for the kind words and please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.


Augustus Melchion asks:
Hi John: I’m very proud to let you know that my next cruise on the Carnival Glory will be my 100th Carnival cruise. The caveat is since 1992, I have 65 officially. However, I’ve been cruising CCL since 1979. If I combine all of them, the total is 100. My wife and I have enjoyed every one of them and the special treatment afforded to diamond members. Thanks for your attention.

John says:
Hello Augustus Melchion

Many congratulations and many thanks for your amazing loyalty, it is truly incredible. Do you have any proof of the cruises before 1992 such as tickets, boarding pass, photos, etc.? If you do please let us know at and we will be glad to add those to your cruise days. Please also let me know if there is anything at all I can do for you both and I wish you another brilliant cruise. Best wishes.


John Melvin asks:
I love Carnival and my son and I hope to continue to cruise every six months or so. But on our last cruise on Carnival Sunshine, my new luggage was destroyed in the transfer between check in and getting to my room. The damage and reimbursement was promptly handled by Carnival and I replaced the luggage buying a new replacement in Belize during the cruise. Then when I retrieved my luggage in the customs clearance area upon disembarking, the new luggage was also destroyed. Again, Carnival has promptly handled my complaint and reimbursed the full cost of the luggage. Question: can I cruise using heavy duty garbage bags? Will my experience with this damage be covered with baggage handlers? Are there any negative consequences for the handlers or perhaps some sense of accomplishment for the damage, especially damage going and coming for one guest?

John says:
Hello John Melvin

Goodness me, that is very unfortunate and I apologise for this. It is also very rare and, while I congratulate my colleagues for their fast actions to help resolve this, I am still shocked that this happened to you twice. The answer to your question, I guess is yes, although I cannot remember anyone ever doing this but if you feel comfortable doing so then I guess you can. The chances of this happening again must be minute, though. I hope your next cruise is incident free and if there is anything I can do for you before you sail again, please let me know. Best wishes.


Charles Santora asks:
Hi John,

I have a quick question. Can I buy the Cheers program for myself only? My wife dos not drink and it would be crazy for us to have to purchase two Cheers stickers. I will still drink and be merry either way but it would be nice to have this option.

John says:
Hello Charles Santora

Unfortunately the current rules do dictate that everyone over 21 in the cabin use the Cheers program. Therefore, in this case, it may then not be the best option for you. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes to you both.


Sherrie Talcott asks:
Can you find out who won the hairy chest contest aboard the Carnival Glory, May 31st sailing? We love Carnival and are Platinum members. Our next cruise in September 21 on Carnival Breeze. Thanks for your help.

John says:
Hello Sherrie Talcott

I am afraid I can’t. We don’t keep a register of the winners of this contest. Sorry, I could not help and I wish you a wonderful cruise and thank you for your loyalty. Best wishes.


Dawn Gerundo asks:
We are currently on the Carnival Legend and have just gone through the Panama Canal. I must say it is has been a wonderful journey. I did want to share, because I responded to your Facebook comment a few months back: Have you always been greeted by our cabin steward… and I said yes always. However, not that our room has not been up to par, because it has, it wasn’t until day six was there a card in our room announcing our cabin steward. I found that a little awkward to say the least. We have been well taken care of; just unsure which room service individual was ultimately responsible for our room. I hope this was just a drop in the hat and Carnival is not taking that greeting away, because it was that special touch that always made us feel like we were so welcomed to be here. Again, please note our room has been fine, we had to ask for ice and got a recycled towel animal (two nights in row), and I say that because it was on the counter when we left for dinner and then fluffed and put back on our bed that evening. Please this is not to get anyone in trouble or spoken too, I just thought I would share with you.



John says:
Hello Dawn Gerundo

Thank you for writing and I hope that you had the most wonderful time on the Carnival Legend during this special voyage. This comment is very unusual because we absolutely are not taking the embarkation greeting away as we feel it is a very important part of the service our wonderful cabin stewards provide. I am not sure what happened in this case but I assure you it will be passed on to the housekeeping manager and the hotel director for their review. I do apologise and, again, I hope you had the most superb time. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you. Best wishes.


Billie Ann Beard asks:
I am traveling with Bettye Sue Evans and cousins on Carnival Elation on September 6. We are “the next generation.” I sleep with a C-PAP machine and I need to know if I will find an outlet near my bed. Will I be able to order distilled water for my humidifier chamber? Thank you for any assistance you can give.

John says:
Hello Billie Ann Beard

We, unfortunately, do not have a power point next to the bed but please do not worry. You can bring a good quality extension cord with you or tell your stateroom steward and he or she will provide one for you. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you and I wish you the most wonderful time. Best wishes.


Diane Massie asks:
If Carnival were treating their loyal guests properly, they would not only show concern when service failures occur, but also show proper guest relations to all guests. If Carnival wanted to prove they valued us as a loyal consumer, they wouldn’t devalue your benefits or put a price on your loyalty via programs, such as Faster to the Fun. Get rid of Faster to the Fun and make us VIPS happy again. It is what your customers want if you take the time to ACTUALLY LISTEN TO THEM.

John says:
Hello Diane Massie

Thank you for your loyalty and I hope, on your way to achieving your Platinum card, that you have enjoyed the service and the fun that our crew have always provided and the affordability of the cruise. Faster to the Fun is offered to a limited number of guests so it really does not impact your cruise and please remember that when we added this, we added two more benefits to the Diamond and Platinum guests: express luggage service and your stateroom being ready as soon as soon as you board. We are listening, I assure you, and I am here if you would like to ask me anything at all. Hope to see you soon. Best wishes.


Kayla Turnball asks:
I was on Carnival Miracle with you John last week. I was one of the passengers who complained about the fog horn blasting all night I’m a very light sleeper and, due to my various medical conditions, not getting a good night’s sleep makes me very lethargic. I should have been told that there might be fog when I booked this cruise with my PVP__________. No money was offered to me which I think shows that Carnival does not care about me. I had two nights with little or no sleep which meant that those days I had to nap and miss lots of what was going on. Carnival needs to give this more thought because I am sure I am not the only one who had their cruise ruined by the fog horn and no sleep.

John says:
Hello Kayla Turnball

I am so sorry that your sleep was disturbed and I totally understand that with the medical conditions you have, this disturbance causes you discomfort. I wonder, did you try the ear plugs guest services gave you, did they help? The weather is unpredictable, as you know – fog can happen just about anywhere – and, obviously, we have to sound the horn every two minutes while in fog and do so under maritime laws. Again, I do sincerely apologise your sleep was disturbed and I hope that you did enjoy the fun and the incredible beauty of Alaska. Please let me know if you have any other questions or if there is anything else I can do for you. Best wishes.


Sean Maloney asks:
John: As a long time Carnival sailor coming up on cruise #12, we have never had any issues and loved every cruise. My question is this, a couple of months ago, my wife’s twin sister passed away. She was cremated and we have her ashes in a biodegrable shell urn. We would like to bury her at sea and raise a glass of wine to her in her memory. We will be cruising on 9/28 on the Carnival Dream. Does Carnival permit burials at sea? Thank you.

Sean Maloney

John says:
Hello Sean Maloney

I send my sincere condolences to you for the loss of your sister-in-law. Please know that I am able to help you organise this. I wonder if you would contact me on my page three days before the cruise and I will make all the arrangements for you.  Best wishes to you all.


Alysia asks:
Hi John! Just a few words of praise to maybe help balance out all the negatives you get. I met you on the last bloggers cruise on the Carnival Sunshine. Before meeting you and hearing you speak I had never read your blog. Boy, was I missing out! You were so kind, personable and funny when we met that it led me to check out this blog everyone was raving about. I want you to know just how much you brighten people’s day with it. I look forward to my daily giggles as I am sure many more do. I would LOVE to have you for a CD on all my cruises! Thank you so much for the daily bits of joy you bring to so many people. I’m not really sure why the negative people feel the urge to demand you live your life as they think you should. However, it really cracks me up to see your replies. I don’t know how you are so nice answering these people either. Not many would be. Just know that you have tons of people who love reading this blog. Carry on with the fun! Also, do you know who the CD and the comedians will be on the Carnival Dream the week of 9/5/14? My wonderful hubby and I are taking our first vacation, without any of our four children, for the first time in 18 years to celebrate our 20th anniversary! You, Carnival and all of your amazing employees always go above and beyond to make our cruises wonderful and give my family some very precious memories.

John says:
Hello Alysia

Those are wonderfully rejuvenating words. Thank you so very much for taking the time to write to me and I do sincerely appreciate them. I also hope we get to cruise together one day soon and meanwhile, you will be on the Carnival Dream in a few days. Your comedians will be Dwight Slade, Kyle Grooms, Jeff Jena and Bob Gould. Please let me know your cabin number the day before the cruise on my Facebook page if you can and I wish you a happy anniversary and loads of fun. Best wishes.


George Brust asks:
Would you be so kind as to reassign Ken Byrne, the singing maitre d’, to the January 31, 2015 sailing of the Carnival Breeze out of Miami. I know you have incredible influence with Carnival and we have sailed with Ken several times before and do so much miss his level of professionalism and crooning. Thank you John. By the by, you were our cruise director on our first carnival cruise. That was on the Carnival Triumph in 2004…perhaps you could join us also on the cruise along with Ken.

John says:
Hello George Brust

As it turns out, that is my annual Bloggers Cruise and, indeed, I can confirm that Ken will be the maitre d for that voyage and the one before it on Carnival Breeze. I will see you there for loads of fun. Best wishes.


Laura Oberg asks:
We have enjoyed Carnival but have a big complaint. My sons are 12 and 10 and both are platinum VIPS!!!!!! What am I supposed to do with a coffee cup for them? Kids do not usually drink coffee!!! Carnival needs to get a grip with this because my kids are VIPS too. I would suggest credit for video games and a VIP T-shirt with a cool kids design on it. These are things kids appreciate, not a stupid Made in China coffee mug!!!!

John says:
Hello Laura Oberg

Thank you so very much for the brilliant loyalty you have shown and how superb that your children are platinum at such a young age, how lucky they are. I agree that the coffee mug isn’t the most exciting gift a child can receive and with many younger platinum guests we do need to take a look at what we can do. Leave this with me then and I will chat with the beards. I hope we see you soon and thank you for your continuing loyalty. Best wishes to you all.


Steve McLennan asks:
Hi John: I’m on the Carnival Legend in Grand Cayman prior to the Panama Canal crossing. In August 1914, the Cristobel was the first ship to cross from the Atlantic to the Pacific through the canal, exactly 100 years ago. I’m disappointed that there is no recognition of this event on board (logo wear, lecturer, and even verbal comments by staff). Passengers are generally older and I’m sure they would be fascinated. Having read “Path Between the Seas” before this trip, and the fantastic story of the Canal (de lesseps, Eiffel, Teddy Roosevelt, intrigue, trickery, treachery, disease, engineering) a great opportunity is being missed!

John says:
Hello Steve McLeannan

First of all, I hope you are enjoying this amazing voyage and having the most wonderful time. Because this is a one-off voyage, I guess the company that runs our shops decided not to go to the expense of producing lots of logo wear that may not sell because, if it didn’t, they would be left with merchandise that we would have a difficult time marketing after the voyage. But I agree it would have been nice to have something that stated where the ship had been and I will pass on your comment to the right people. Best wishes.


Esther asks:
John: We just got off the Carnival Miracle today. I do hope new cruise directors learn from you as you have been the most engaging one I have seen so far. Huge thank you to the Circle “C” leader, Courtney, who made my daughter’s experience a blast and Denis, one of the supervisors on the Lido deck for tremendous customer service. In response to the gluten-free post from before, we have a son who is nine years old and was diagnosed with Celiac disease six years ago. One of the reasons we have continued to cruise with Carnival is the ease of feeding him on the ship and the selections he is able to get. When we go to the Lido deck, talking to any of the supervisors and explaining the issue, someone will bring you lunch (or dinner) that is not only tastes good but causes no issues with his diet. Dinner at the main dining restaurant, we saw the menu the day before, it would be ready for him when he arrived. Except for a few specific dishes that specifically are breaded, he was able to have whatever he wanted. A gluten-free chocolate melting cake was and has been his favorite dessert. I would learn how to make it but then we would not have an extra reason to cruise.

John says:
Hello Esther

Thank you, those are wonderful words of praise and I will make sure that Courtney and Denis see this. It is nice to read that our efforts to make those who suffer from gluten allergies have a more enjoyable cruise are appreciated and I will let the chef know how much you enjoyed the selections we served. If there is anything I can do to make your future cruises with us more enjoyable, please do let me know. Best wishes.


Beth Lasky asks:
I find it strange and, yes, insulting actually, that Carnival does not have a private return party for platinum VIPs like me and my DH. We were on the Celebrity Solstice last week and had our first cruise at Elite level and they gave us a private cocktail reception. Compare this with the one on the Carnival Freedom where we were herded like cattle into the big theatre with all the other cruisers who were not Platinum. I saw mostly gold colored cards which was unsettling. I think Carnival should do more for us like Celebrity took the time to do. Just sayin.

John says:
Hello Beth Lasky

Thanks, first of all, for cruising all those times with us and I hope you will keep doing so and therefore reach Diamond status. When you do, you will see that we have a private function for our Diamond guests with the Captain and other senior officers. Until then, we will invite you to join us for our VIFP party which I am sure you will enjoy. Hope to see you soon. Best wishes.


Bill O’Steen asks:
John: My wife and I have booked the Hawaii cruise for November 2015. We did this cruise on the Carnival Spirit in 2011, and, by far, this was one of our most favorite cruises. Our only disappointment was the lack of Hawaiian food offerings on the cruise. With the new American Feast/American Table menus, will more Hawaiian food options be available for this cruise? Also, will they plan a luau for this cruise? Thanks.

John says:
Hello Bill O’Steen

Part of the appeal of our new American Table menu is the variety and, included in that are the Ports Of Call selections. These feature traditional dishes from where the ship is calling but I’m not sure when the new pilot program will be on the Carnival Spirit, so I will have to check on this and get back to you. Have a wonderful voyage to Hawaii and I will let you know more about the activities and events closer to the time.

And that’s all for today.

I want to comment briefly on the subject raised by my good mate, Simon M, that too many cruise directors do the same jokes…….and he may, to some degree, have a point. There are some “stock” jokes that can be heard on most ships on most cruise lines, I would imagine. These usually concern the toilets; the top ten silliest questions asked by guests and other throwaway lines.  That’s why the best cruise directors are the ones who have learned that the star of the show should not be them……..but the guests. Take the Welcome Aboard show. For me, this show is the most important of the cruise. It sets the scene for the entire week and, for a cruise director, it allows a chance to sell ourselves to you…….what do I mean by that? Well, if a cruise director can sell themselves as someone fun, then the following morning, when he or she asks guests to come to the lounge to listen to them talk about the ports and the excursions, they will, hopefully, do so because the guest thinks, “Oh, that’s the fat man who made us laugh last night, let’s go and see what he is doing.”

Or, when the CD comes over the PA system with a rundown of the events of the day, then, hopefully the guest will listen because once again they recognise the voice and know they need to listen. By the way, nobody gives you any training in the use of the PA system and trust me, it’s harder to use than you might imagine. First of all, you can’t hear yourself so it’s hard to judge volume and finding the right time to make announcements and, even more importantly, the right length is also very difficult. Ultimately, you are always going to disturb someone. I don’t mean in the cabins as we only make announcements inside the staterooms when there is something we feel the entire ship needs to hear. What I do mean is that, with speakers in the guest corridors, you may disturb someone who is still asleep at 10:30 am or disturb someone having a nap in the sun or simply disturb someone who was seeking a little peace and quiet.

However, we need to get the information out there. Now, I read the occasional comment that says people think we should not use it all and they don’t care about what’s on sale in the onboard shops or what the drink special of the day is. “You are just trying to make money,” they say. Well, granted, we do like to advise people of the various specials and promotions so they visit our retail outlets, of course – it would be silly to suggest otherwise – but there are lots of people on board who use the announcements to keep up to date with what’s going on throughout the ship.

Now saying that, we should keep the announcements to around three per day. I tend to do mine on a sea day at 10:30 am……1:00 pm…….and 7:30 pm and try my best to keep them three minutes or less……sometimes……and I know this will be hard for you to comprehend ….. but sometimes I do waffle on a bit. I do, though, always try and keep the announcements entertaining and as well as promoting the revenue areas I try to add a big dollop of humor.

And please, either here or on my Facebook page, feel free as always to tell me if the CD on your last cruise was clear over the PA or if the announcements were too long or too short or ……. well, you get the picture. Just as they have been in so many other areas recently your comments are so very important and I look forward to reading them.

Back to the Welcome Aboard show which, as I mentioned, is so very important to me and so very unpredictable…….here is one of my favorite first night memories. So, there I am on the then Carnival Destiny 100 years ago and I have my usual eight people on stage. The show finishes with the spoon game but really it’s all about the interviews, breaking the ice and making stars of the people on board. Well, during the interviews, everyone was wonderful and I managed to find something worth sharing with the audience in them all and things were going well …… except one lady who gave me one syllable answers to every question and, honestly, was as cold as an Eskimo’s dangly bits.  Anyway, we had some huge laughs from the audience for the rest of guests on stage and things were going well. After the interviews had finished I started to explain to the guests how we play the spoon game. For those who don’t know, a spoon is tied to a long piece of string and we pass it down inside the ladies’ blouses and down the men’s pants……’s lots of fun. Now, just before I continue, remember each person on stage volunteered to come on stage. I went out into the audience and asked them to join me and they all said “yes.”

So, back to the game and, as I walked down the line and approached this lady and told her what I wanted her to do, she looked at me and said loudly enough that my microphone picked up her words, “This is why we should have cruised on NCL” — and walked off the stage grabbed her husband by the arm and out of the lounge to mostly silence sprinkled with a few boos from the audience. So, I made some joke…….can’t remember what but I think I recovered and then, of course, I was left with one person short for the game.

I have so many memories of the spoon game over the years. There was the time when one man got the spoon stuck in his pants, he couldn’t get it out so do you know what he did? He leaned on me and then he unscrewed his prosthetic leg and took the leg off! You see, the spoon was tangled in the framework and he untangled it and the rest is just one big blur of uncontrollable laughter and applause from 1,000 people.

The cruise director can, if he or she wishes, really set the scene and that’s why in my humble opinion we have the best in the business with some very young and exciting talent waiting in the wings and here is one of those men who is out of the wing and firmly has established himself as a brilliant cruise director. Here he is.

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What’s your name and where are you from? Cory “Family Guy” Rogers from Memphis Tennessee

Tell us about your work experience and your journey with Carnival Cruise Lines so far? I have been with Carnival almost eight years and have loved every minute of it. I started as a social host aboard the Carnival Ecstasy and worked my way to assistant cruise director and now cruise director. This is the best job I have ever had and I would love to do this for a long time.

What’s your favourite part of your job? Hosting events and shows and making people laugh and smile. You never know what people are going through and when you make someone smile who might be going through a hard time, it really feels good.

If there is one event, show or activity that you host that our guests must not miss, what is it? I actually have a few. My Harry Potter Trivia (I dress up in full Hogwarts gear and pack out the lobby) and Comedy Open Mic night are my two favorite events. I have a lot more that I do and love but those are my favorites.

Please share with us your favourite story from your time on our ships? A few years back, I had a group of patients from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on board from the ages of four to 12 and I made them all junior cruise directors and had them on the morning shows, they helped me co-host activities and events and they were amazing. Their smiles and laughter were so uplifting.

And now – about you

Favourite Movie? Step Brothers and Iron Man (I am a nerd!)

Favourite bar or lounge on one of our ships? I love the EA Sports Bar. Great fun, drinks and video games. What more could a man ask for?

How do you relax? In my off time, I like to take frequent “cat naps” and play video games.

And if you could meet any famous person in the world, who would it be? It would have been Robin Williams. RIP. He was truly an inspiration to us all. He was and still is my favorite Comedian. Nanu Nanu! I would now say LeBron James as I would love nothing more than to challenge him to a game of one on one. I would win!

Thanks, Cory. I guess I will have to watch an episode of this Family Guy as I have never seen it. What I have seen are many wonderful comments from guests who have sailed with you and I am sure that you made them feel part of the Carnival family. Congratulations, mate.

And from one Family guy…………to another………me.

So this will be my last blog from Alaska and how best to summarise my time here. There is so much I could say but in this case I think I will keep it simple and short. Why I never did Alaska before now is something I regret. I have been the cruise director for 12 new ship startups and because we never put a new ship in Alaska after Carnival Spirit, I never got to come here. It has taken 28 years for me to realise that cruising here is something that is quite incomparable. It is laid back cruising, it is whales, glaciers, bears, treks, trains, panning for gold, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, halibut, crab, Yukon, helicopters, sea planes and more WOW moments than I have ever seen from a cruise ship. I will be back here next year on the Carnival Legend……. why not come with me?

At the end of this eight-day cruise, I will hand over the reins to the very talented Troy Linton who will take the ship to Hawaii, California, dry dock and beyond and I wish him all the best. I, of course, fly home for a reunion with my girls and with Mum who needs me more than ever. This has been the longest period of time that I have been without my family since……..well, I don’t remember and I continue to feel guilty for being away from them so much. But this is the life, it is what every crew member faces and I now look forward to being home with those I love so very much.

I will have 10 days off from Facebook starting on September 9 when I have to pack and prepare my handover and reports for Troy. So I will not be answering questions on Facebook but keep the requests coming each day as someone will send me them along with anything urgent. My return date on Facebook and the blog will be September 22 but, of course, you can expect any news items plus some terrible attempts at humour by me each day but, for the most part, I will be on social media vacation.

This is the longest I have been away from my family and I miss them more than words can ever describe. I want to thank Heidi, Kye and Mum for allowing me to continue to do this job I adore so very much and the guilt I feel about being away from them is immeasurable. But this Alaskan season has been one I will cherish forever and I have enjoyed sharing all my adventures with you and I look forward to doing so here and on Facebook in the days ahead.

Thank you, then, for your continuing friendship.

Your friend,

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No Need for Speed Tue, 26 Aug 2014 18:18:41 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Stupid, stupid me. Yesterday, after singing “Let it Sodding Go” to Kye for her bedtime song, I asked my wife, Heidi, in a terrible moment of weakness I asked her if she wanted anything brought back from Seattle because I would be getting off the ship to get some essentials – some hemorrhoid gel and cigars. As soon as I said those new words, I knew I was in the s**t. And it was because she wanted me to shop at a place that we don’t have in England even though the advertising states it’s a British store….. yep……I’m talking about Victoria’s Secret, which is about as British as July 4th and grits. Now, whatever my wife wants she will get because I love her ……..except for one thing and that one thing is underwear.

It may embarrass Heidi to find me saying so here, but nowhere near as much as it embarrasses me to buy the stuff. But because I was stupid and because I do as I am told, should I ever want to see her wearing that underwear, this past Tuesday, I spent some 15 massively awkward minutes in a bloody shopping mall in Seattle rummaging around in Victoria’s knickers. For men, shopping alone for women’s underwear is enough to have beads of sweat running down your back and down to who knows where. Every moment, you feel convinced that female shoppers, not to mention security guards, are peering at you in suspicion and disgust. So you look at the lingerie while at the same time trying to look as if you’re not looking. There are so many types. Strings, thongs, ropes……arrrrghhhhh. I had been told to get a particular type and colour but I sure as hell couldn’t find them and that made me even more self-conscious. So much so that I found myself stroking my cheek with my left hand, in the hope that fellow shoppers would see my wedding ring and realise I was in fact buying the red pair of frilly knickers for my wife…… and not for myself. In the end, I gave up and today, my last time in Seattle before going home, my assistant Dee will go for me. When I asked, she jumped at the chance as she loves to shop. Shame she didn’t show as much enthusiasm when I asked to apply my hemorrhoid gel.

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

Kelly Lawrence asks:
John: With the rising popularity of personal drones and remote controlled helicopters and such,
what is Carnival’s policy regarding bringing these on board the ship, flying them over and around the ship? And as a follow-up, how are these issues addressed in ports of call? These questions are starting to be asked more often on certain cruise forums.

John says:
Hello Kelly Lawrence

Good question and you’re right, they are very popular. We do already have rules where these may not be brought on board for obvious safety reasons. It would be fun, though, to fly one over Lido Deck. Thanks for asking the question and please let me know if you have any others. Best wishes.


Ryan Arnado asks:
Just off Carnival Breeze, during it we had a death on the ship of a passenger that happened in public view. There was no announcement as to the passenger’s name or what happened. We were all left in the dark. Not good practices IMHO.

John says:
Hello Ryan Arnado

I am sure you will join me in sending our sincerest condolences to the family of the deceased. We never announce what happened in situations like this or release the name as these things are both extremely private. I am sure you understand. I hope you had a great time. Best wishes.


Simon M asks:
Pointing out to your Kool Aid nation fans that Heald has 60,800 likes on Facebook. This represents a tiny worthless percentage of the millions that Carnival has on their ships each year. Other cruise sites like Cruise Critic give a fairer, more balanced opinion plus have millions of members. You would all do well to remember that. Remember how you promised us a brilliant loyalty program two years ago and look at what a pack of lies that turned out to be!!!!!!!

John says:
Hello Simon M

Thank you for taking the time to write. I am well aware that the 62,000 likes I have on my Facebook page is small compared to Carnival’s Facebook fan page that has well over 2 million likes. Meanwhile I will keep doing my best to help as many people as I can and provide them with a balance of information, discussion and fun. Please let me know if there is ever anything I can do for you.

Best wishes.


Penny Brown asks:
I just entered a contest on a page calling itself “the official Carnival page” but it was not Carnival Cruise Lines, it was just Carnival Cruises. I was wondering if this is legit or a scam? The contest was for a cruise for five and $2,500 spending money. The wording just didn’t sound just right.

John says:
Hello Penny Brown

I am afraid that this is a fake page and we have reported it as so to Facebook officials. Thanks for bringing it to my attention and I am here if you have any other questions or concerns. Best wishes.


Suzie Littman asks:
Are you aware of the video game selection in the games room on Carnival Pride? They all do nothing but glorify death and destruction and I would be surprised if I am the only parent who will lobby Carnival cruises to ban these horrid vile games! Violence and death are trivialized in these games and Carnival is anaesthetizing our children to death by having them available.

John says:
Hello Suzie Littman

Have you played Angry Birds? OK, sorry about that, just thought a bit of humour might help lighten what is, of course, a very serious question. The fact is that these shooting-style games are the most popular, it is what kids, teens and adults play at home and so that’s what we have on our ships. Obviously, the choice as a parent is yours whether your children are allowed to play these games but as I said, they are popular for sure. I am sorry that this has upset you, I really am and hopefully you and your family will join us again soon. Best wishes.


Anita Hickey asks:
Hi John: My family (husband and two daughters), along with my sister-in-law and her family will be cruising on Carnival Freedom in Jan. 2015.  This cruise is what my eldest daughter chose as her grad gift, and my husband and I are very excited to be able to share our love of cruising and Carnival with her and her sister. Right now we are in the planning stages, and I am unable to find any information on the Carnival Live concert series. So, I guess my question is two-fold. One, will it continue into the new year, and two when will a schedule be posted? Any information you can provide would be greatly appreciated.


Anita Hickey

John says:
Hello Anita Hickey

I am sure you are looking forward to this wonderful family time together. Carnival LIVE has proven a huge number one hit and so while I do not have a date just yet for its release I can say that we expect to announce phase 2 over the next several weeks. I will let you know as soon as I can and until then as the planning stage for your cruise continues. Please let me know if you need anything. Best wishes.


LeAnne asks:
Hello John. I am cruising with my family on Carnival Breeze, October 5-11, and would like to decorate my parents’ cabin. We will be celebrating my mother’s retirement. I looked on the Carnival website, but they do not have “Happy Retirement” decorations. Do you know if they are available, or should I bring my own from home and enlist my dad’s help to get into their cabin to surprise my mom? Any help or suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thank you and God Bless.

John says:
Hello LeAnne

We don’t have these — we should but we do not, I am afraid. Please bring your own and on October 4, please would you send me her cabin number to my page and I will see what we can do to make her smile. I wish her a wonderful retirement and wish you all a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.


James Eager asks:
John: Both dive operations that specify a weight limit for scuba diving on your website will accommodate me because I have my own dive gear, and only need tanks and weights from them.  The power of the Internet, and some good guessing on my part, allowed me to contact the two dive operations directly, where Carnival never responded to the question (You personally promised to get someone to find out for me, John, and that was months ago.)  Anyway, both dive operations will accommodate me at slightly more than the max weight (370 with a limit of 350) because I have my own dive suit(s) and BCD, so they do not have to fit me.  Now I can proceed to planning which trip to take next, with no restrictions getting in my way.  If you decide to go with my idea on mail order shirts, then I ask that you get me the address for such mail order.  You can have the idea, I’m not claiming royalties, but it certainly feels like a win for Carnival and your customers, and even a way for Carnival to make a few extra dollars.

John says:
Hello James Eager

I am so sorry; I had passed this over to the shore excursion team in Miami and had expected them to reply to you. Please allow me to apologise and to thank you for your research. I will be passing this to the team and ask them to see what they think but as I know our operators are very strict about the weight, in this case I would go ahead and dive with this operator so you know all is set. Please make sure you send me your cabin number over on Facebook the day before you sail, and have a great dive and a fun cruise. Best wishes.


Doug asks:
Hi John: I’m looking forward to my first Carnival cruise on Carnival Glory on Sept 6.  I’m all set for the steakhouse and have my activities reserved. Out of curiosity, do you know what comedians will be on board? How about the cruise director? Any info about the piano bar would be appreciated too.  I’m excited about the cruise and my work colleagues are tired of hearing me talk about it — that’s a good sign! :)



John says:
Hello Doug

I can see how excited you are about your first and I am positive not your last cruise with us. The comedians will be: Anthony Acosta, Scotty K, Jeff Wayne and Lars Callieou. The piano bar will feature Kyle Bronsdon who I have heard great things about. So get ready for loads of fun and between now and then, if you need anything, please let me know. Best wishes.


Tracey Earl asks:
We just returned from our family vacation on Carnival Liberty and it was great! My DH and I can’t say enough good things about Carnival.  We will be headed out on our third “group” cruise we have sponsored. DH promotes Carnival like he’s an employee. He grins from ear to ear just by mentioning the cruise. On September 27, we will set sail on the Carnival Fascination. We will be celebrating 25 years of marriage (together for 30 years). We are so glad we discovered cruising and are excited to share that joy with others.  I have no doubt I WOULD NOT WANT TO CELEBRATE ANY OTHER WAY. Carnival, keep doing what you do!

John says:
Hello Tracy Earl

What a brilliant post and one that I shall take great joy in sending to the crew on the Carnival Liberty. Please tell “DH” that I appreciate his words so very much and I really hope that we will see you for more celebrations soon. Best wishes to you both.


Carly Devassy asks:
Why has Carnival stopped offering group cruise prices for Cruise Critic groups? This was an awesome way to meet new friends, plus you guys got to have passengers who would write reviews for millions of others to see. NCL still does this and others, so why not Carnival?!

John says:
Hello Carly Devassy

I had to ask for advice on this one because honestly I did not know what you meant by “group cruise prices for Cruise Critic groups.” I am told that most of our guests like to book using Early Saver or past guest fares and we really do not offer specific discounts just for Cruise Critic members. But I often help arrange what is called meet and greets so if you and any other readers need me to do that I am always happy to do so. I hope we see you on board soon. Best wishes.


Kimberley Hansen asks:
Hey big fella – can you hook me up with a private table for two for me and my husband. We are on the Carnival Liberty on August 30 from Port Canaveral. This is important, big guy, as we get very little quality time together because of our work schedules. Happy days!

John says:
Hello Kimberley Hansen

I have written to the maître d’ on the ship and I know he will do his best for you. I wish you both a brilliant cruise and I hope also that you can sail with me one day soon. Best wishes.


Amber N asks:
Hi John, I purchased FTTF on my cruise a few months ago on Carnival Triumph and I have a question about debarkation. You mentioned that there are only 15 cabins that are available to purchase FTTF each sailing. Well, on the cruise (March 1), we received a letter in our cabin that said we could go to the main theatre at 8 am and wait for debarkation. My group went to the theatre a little before 8 and, to our surprise, there were tons and tons of people sitting with their luggage waiting for the debarkation. So if Carnival only allows 15 cabins to purchase FTTF, then why were there so many people waiting where the FTTF people were supposed to wait? When they said we could disembark, it was chaotic trying to exit. Can you please give me some insight on this or let me know where the FTTF people need to be when it’s time to disembark? I already purchased FTTF for my next cruise in May and I’m really hoping we don’t have the same experience trying to leave. Thank you so much!

John says:
Hello Amber N

We do indeed only sell an average of 15 cabins per cruise for Faster to the Fun. I did show this post to the cruise director of the Carnival Triumph who told me that in the same lounge with you were Platinum and Diamond guests and those who had early flights. Now, I think we need to separate these groups and, certainly, we already do this on many ships and I think the Triumph will follow. I do apologise and I do hope you had a brilliant time. Best wishes.


And that’s all for today.  Thanks everyone for your comments and questions and for your continued readership of the blog.

Right, time for another cruise director bio and a young man who can currently be found entertaining on the Carnival Fantasy – here is Eric Brouman.


What’s your name and where are you from?Eric Brouman. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, but for the past five years, have been living in Manila, Philippines.

Tell us about your work experience and your journey with Carnival Cruise Lines so far?
I have been with Carnival for approximately five years. I started here as an assistant cruise director on the beautiful Carnival Pride. I have worked in the cruise industry across the world as a host, assistant cruise director and headline entertainer. I also have performed my award- winning comedy magic act on various cruise ships, theme parks, comedy clubs as well as Fortune 500 companies. I can honestly say that, out of all my years of travels, performing and work experience, being part of the Carnival Family is definitely my most favorite.

How do you feel you, as cruise director can influence the guest experience in a positive way?My goal each day is to make sure everyone has FUN, enjoys their vacation and forgets about their troubles at home. I try to make myself available to the guests throughout the entire day and night and will always ‘be an ear’ for inquiry, even if the questions aren’t relevant to the entertainment department. The world revolves around communication, hence, if someone has a comment or question about another department, then I will contact the respective department head immediately and they will, in turn, get in touch with the guest.

What’s your favourite part of your job?People saying you’ve made a difference in my vacation, or recognizing how great the team is and all the hard work it takes to make a great voyage. Personal acknowledgement makes all the difference. It makes everything worthwhile. Another one of my favorite parts of cruising is that every sailing is totally different, no matter what ship or itinerary. New guests, new experiences and new memories make each one special. I love interacting with people, meeting fascinating guests and also hearing their travel stories as well.  And, of course, traveling the world to destinations I could have only dreamed of.

What do you find the biggest challenge?There are three challenges I face with each contract.  I believe one of the biggest challenges is trying to make each and every single person on board happy.  I only want all of our guests to have a wonderful cruise vacation, and, yes, I am very sincere when I say that because I truly mean it. The second essential challenge is getting the best from my team so guests are happy and we all get the results we’re aiming for. It may be a bit of a cliché, but a happy crew means happy guests. When the crew is happy, it correlates with high guest satisfaction. The third biggest challenge is being away from friends and family for such a long time. When you finally get home and spend the time with them, it seems to go by so quickly. Most importantly, I love my job which makes coming back to work quite easy.

If there is one event, show or activity that you host that our guests must not miss, what is it? Each Welcome Aboard Show is different for me.  It’s an unbelievable feeling to come out on a stage with several hundred or thousand people in the audience who don’t know who you are and judge you the minute you walk on that stage. Within just a few minutes, you have a full room laughing, enjoying themselves and, overall, so happy to be on vacation.  Each time I walk on that stage for the Welcome Aboard Show, it is fresh, exciting and involves improvisation and hilarious interactive audience participation. With my down-to-earth style and easygoing manner this results in a quick rapport with the guests. This keeps each and every show quite different and unique; never knowing what will take place next.

Please share with us your favourite story from your time on our ships?I met a guest on Carnival Pride named Gail.  She was 78 years old, in a wheelchair and sailing alone. We got to know each other after the Welcome Aboard Show on the promenade over a coffee. She discussed here many years on the sea and how things have changed over the past 45 years of her traveling. We talked for over two hours that first night like we have known each other for years.  All my grandparents had passed away before I was seven years old; I think this was a moment where I had wished they were still around. By the end of the cruise after eating dinner with her a few times and even dancing with her in the wheelchair, we both found out that she lives five minutes away from my hometown and parents’ house.  She asked for my parents’ phone number to be in touch. When she got home, she actually called my mother and they went to lunch a few times.  Gail told my mother she has never enjoyed herself more in the past 45 years of cruising than when she cruised with me. I still keep in touch with Gail and every time I stop back in Cleveland, I pick her up, go to lunch and continue to share our wonderful stores about life. She is now 83 years old.

And now – about you

Favourite Movie?That’s quite a tough choice.  All three movies are equally my favorite:  Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, with Steve Martin, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the original with Gene Wilder) and The Producers with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.

Favourite bar or lounge on one of our ships?The Butterflies Lounge on Carnival Pride is my favorite lounge.  It is where I got my start with Carnival as a comedy club manager and at the same time a fly-on performer each night.  The lounge can fit several hundred, yet it’s quite cozy and comfortable and sometimes I think at night when the room is dark and empty, the butterflies come to life.

How do you relax?At the end of each night after being on the floor with the guests till the wee hours, I make my way back to my cabin.  After checking emails again for the 100th time, I get out of my suit and get into my comfy bed with my big white fluffy comforter. I flip through the TV channels as I eat Ritz Crackers and Cheese Whiz till I fall asleep in a sea of salt and cracker crumbs.

And if you could meet any famous person in the world, who would it be?My ultimate childhood wish was to meet Harry Houdini.  I started performing magic at the age of 12 and by the time I was 18, I was already performing my show on cruise ships.  Harry Houdini’s real name is Erich Weiss. He inspired me to be a performer and, for many years, I performed two of his most famous and popular illusions. I have read almost every book about him, and for almost 10 years my Ohio license plate on my vehicle was HUDINI. Once Ohio changed the law to the seven letters, it then became HOUDINI.

Thanks Eric, great licence (spelt correctly) plate, by the way. I have read lots of great reviews about this young man and the energy and fun he brings to the ships he is on and wish him continuing success.

A couple of weeks ago, someone suggested that we have a speed dating activity on the ship and, after asking those on my Facebook page and after hundreds of responses I decided to go ahead and give it a go. And so last cruise was the first ever Carnival Miracle speed dating activity and, if you ask me how it went, the honest answer is I haven’t a sodding clue. Let me explain. We held the event in one of the lounges called Mad Hatter and numbered the table’s one through 20. Remember, we had never done this before, the staff had never organised this before. We were to speed dating what Her Majesty the Queen is to cooking a huge pot of grits. We had decided to put the ladies at the table. Give them three minutes (we all argued about this, some wanted more and some less) and at the three-minute mark we would say “time” on the microphone and the men would move to the next table. This may have been the wrong thing to do, I really don’t know but that’s what we decided. So at 4pm the doors opened and we started.

And what a mixture we had. Let’s start with the dozen or so male guests, mostly in their 50s who looked as if they had come straight out of the 1970s, complete with pony tails and comb overs — there was even a mullet. And then were a couple of men who looked like me complete with grey hair, bags under their eyes and rounded bellies.

There were three male guests who were way into their seventies, one had a walker. We had five male guests under 30 and they included a chap who looked like all he needed to do was stand on Promenade Deck and let his six-pack and chiseled good looks do the talking but here he was anyway along with a few other younger chaps who I think just came for the fun of it and two were dressed as though they had come for a boy band audition. And then there were the ladies. The youngest was maybe 30 and the oldest in her late 60s and there were two women for every one man which surprised me I must say. Most were aged between 40- and 50-something with had full war paint and tight dresses on, proudly displaying gravity-and age-defying cleavage while a couple looked like librarians on a night out.

One thing most of the guests had in common was that they all looked excited as my daughter on Christmas Eve. I explained the rules, well………I explained the one rule of three minutes at each table, asked the ladies to take a seat and quickly added another 11 numbers to tables and seating areas giving us 31 single ladies ready to meet the man of their dreams or, at least, the man of their cruise. And we began. As the event progressed, I started to feel uneasy and started thinking that this may have been a huge bloody mistake. There was not one reason for this — it was just a nagging feeling in my head that ………. something just wasn’t right. As I said, a couple of the lads were doing this for fun but why were the rest here, why were they putting themselves through this? In the past, maybe, they would all have met future partners in a different way — through work or friends. They might have been set up, sat next to other single guests in the dining room or met them in the piano bar. I obviously could not listen in to each conversation but it was obvious from the odd laugh and giggle that a few were at least getting along but it was obvious also some guests were valiantly trying to keep the conversation going while some were unable or willing to make bugger all effort at all.

I had a little laugh myself when a lady in her late 30s sat down with a man who was in his late 70’s and I could see him moving his false teeth around with his tongue…”Oh FFS,” I said silently but then I felt a wash of sympathy for them, this was my fault, I had put them in what was surely a very uncomfortable position. I could hear some talking about their jobs or all about themselves and yep, I saw one lady who every time a man sat at her table would show them that she had a platinum Sail & Sign card.

As the event went on, I could not figure out why on earth anyone would want to spend an hour of their Alaskan cruise doing this? There were so many pitfalls. As nice as everyone was what was the point of a lady in her early 30s talking to a nice old chap with false teeth and who was just a few years away from a possible bed wetting problem?

The guests then went to this speed dating thing we did with different objectives. The women were looking for friendship, maybe the men were too and I am just being skeptical but some of the men, it seemed, to me, were in a primitive way, hoping that the ladies who attended such an activity were up for some immediate companionship, if you catch my drift.

After an hour I blew the final whistle and said that I had hoped friendships had been forged and that if anyone wanted help in rearranging dinner tables so they could spend more time with their friends to let me know. I also asked that if a friendship or even a relationship had been forged during this event to leave a note at the guest services desk and I would provide some champagne and best wishes. I did not receive a single request or any such letters.

Did I make mistakes in my planning? Yes, I most probably did and I am sure some of you will tell me so and one of those you don’t have to tell me is that I probably should have set age specifics and age limits, right?

I did not plan this with romance in mind. I just wanted those solo cruises to meet new people and have a laugh and possibly avoid having to eat dinner on their own but, honestly, I think I failed and because of this I have not scheduled our Carnival Miracle speed dating event since.

So, come on single cruisers, what did I do wrong here?  Please let me know because, after the speed dating was over, I felt like I had let the people down, it just didn’t work and I really have no intentions of trying this again. It was an epic failure.  Bugger.

Your friend,

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John Is A Sexist Pig……….. Part 2 Tue, 19 Aug 2014 20:57:34 +0000 Continue reading ]]> For those who stumbled across my blog by accident while surfing Uncle Google for “I Love Big Fat British Guys Who Blog in a Pair of XXXL Underpants”………..I had better explain the title of today’s musings.

The blog title of “John Is a Sexist Pig” refers to a lady who called me this because I moved my head six inches to the right when a stunningly jaw-droopingly gorgeous Amazonian lady walked past me during the Captain’s Celebration. Another lady, who I shall refer to simply as Ms. X, saw me glance at this lady and hopped of her bar stool to tell me how unprofessional and what a disgusting human being I was. This went on all cruise and, by the time it was over, I am sure if Ms. X had been given the chance she would have gladly cut off my gentleman’s sausage, put it in a shot glass and taken it home her with her to display to her friends at their weekly “Men Are Bastards” meeting.

To be honest what with green graduation caps, fog horns, smoking, scooters, national anthems and the silly life of being a cruise director/brand ambassador, I had sort of forgotten about my label as a Sexist Pig until two days ago when I got an e-mail from a senior beard. Attached to this was a letter Ms. X had written to Carnival that basically fabricated to the nth degree what I had done. Honestly, I had turned my head six inches and maybe, just maybe, I had smiled, that was all. But in her letter, Ms. X basically suggested that I made “lurid facial expressions” and laughingly said that I “licked my lips in a sexual way.”  Oh FFS!

More on her letter to Carnival at the end of today’s blog because she was not content with just me being sexist……………oh, no, she had much more to say.

Let’s take a break and answer some more questions. Off we go.

Nick Webster asks:
John: On my last two cruises (Carnival Magic – Dec 15, Carnival Conquest – July 6) there has not been a volleyball competition! I am a competitive volleyball player, and I played at the collegiate level when I was in college. This has always been one of my most favorite things about cruising. I enjoy meeting others who play volleyball and winning a gold medal!  I have booked another cruise for November 16 on Carnival Magic, and I was wondering if there was any way that you could put in a request for a volleyball tournament/competition.  It would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.


John says:
Hello Nick Webster

Congratulations on all your success, it sounds like you are a superb player. Normally we do not have tournaments but like to keep it fun with groups playing as they wish. But I see nothing wrong with asking the ship to organise a tournament when you sail. Please would you remind me two days before you sail with your cabin number on my page and I will see what we can do. Have a brilliant time. Best wishes.


Bob Evans asks:
All this crap you are writing about cruise directors. What’s a cruise director to me? That annoying voice in the air about $10 watches and beauty seaweed wraps? You ALL recite the same script – if you cruise different ships, you will hear the same exact announcements, just with different accents and phrasing. After a few cruises, one can anticipate what they will say, and how they will try to get you to the next “can’t miss” hoodah. It’s all an approved selling schpiel, that’s all folks! Go on other cruise lines, and most have their CD’s working in the background, without the annoying announcements every two hours. In fact, on some lines, you may hear just one announcement daily, and it isn’t about getting to that oh so important, if you miss this your cruise is ruined, inch of gold sale. You all suck. Learn from NCL and Royal.

John says:
Hello Bob Evans

Thanks for taking the time to express your opinions here. I admit that part of the cruise directors’ job is to let our guests know about what’s going on during the cruise and that does include shopping to a certain degree. Using the public address system is not easy and there are some who are better at this than others, for sure. But there is far more to what the cruise directors do then telling guests about what is happening and, for many, a great cruise director can make a great cruise even better. I realise you are not one of those and so I hope you enjoy all the other aspects of Carnival cruising and that one day I get a chance to shake your hand and entertain you on one of our ships. Best wishes.


Anne Camden asks:
Hi John: I just became aware that early in July, Carnival started serving Cigar City Brewing beers on some cruises out of Florida. I hope this new addition to the beer menu is well received and that the beards will consider doing something similar for cruises departing out of Galveston. I understand that there are several points to take into consideration when taking on a new supplier, not the least of which is can they produce enough of their outstanding products to sate thirsty cruisers (I would hate for a Carnival bartender to get yelled at because they ran out of Karbach’s excellent Love Street Summer Seasonal Kolsch-style Ale).  But Texas is blessed with more than a few excellent craft breweries (St. Arnolds, Real Ale, Karbach) that I think might be able to meet the demand.   If this is the case, then maybe you can use a couple of your FB quick-fire questions to ask: Would you like to see more “craft” beer options (yes or no)? If you regularly cruise out of Galveston, please reply with ONE suggested craft brewery whose beer you’d like to see on board (first response only will be counted). For the record there are also several Texas wineries (Bending Branch, Becker, Grape Creek) and even distilleries (Garrison Brothers, Titos, Balcones) that might also be considered as “suppliers.” Thanks for your consideration!



John says:
Hello Anne Camden

Yes indeed, these beers have been an instant hit on the ships that are now serving them and our Vice President of Beverage Operations Eddie Allen is very proactive and I am sure he will appreciate this suggestion when I send it to him. We have come a long way with the beverage selection we serve across the fleet and have been introducing craft beers in certain markets like Abita in New Orleans and Alaska Ale on our Alaska sailings. Let’s see what happens next. I will, of course, keep you informed. Best wishes.


Frank and Justine Carey ask:
DH and I are considering the Carnival Triumph and Panama Canal cruise. We are both VIP platinum card holders. When the ship goes through the Canal is there a reserved viewing area for VIPs like me and DH. We are nearly at diamond. Just sayin’.

John says:
Hello Frank and Justine Carey

Thanks so very much for your loyalty and I hope you get to book this brilliant voyage. I am afraid we don’t have a viewing section just for diamond and platinum VIFPs but I am sure you will be able to find a place on the ship to view this amazing transit. Please let me know if you have any questions and I hope you do get to enjoy this brilliant voyage. Best wishes.


Steve Krafthefer asks:
Hello John! My wife and I are Platinum guests and love cruising with Carnival. The drawback we have is that to do this, we must fly from Portland, Oregon, to either Miami or Ft.

Lauderdale. The excitement of flying, for me, is LONG gone. It’s the worst part of a cruise vacation. Ah, I hear you saying it now….”Why not try a Mexican cruise?” Well, we did. And brought a number of friends with us. We stopped in Acapulco, Zheuwanteneno (sp), Mazatlan

and Puerto Vallarta (I think). Anyway, because of all the trouble in Mexico, the only stops now seem to be Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. I love both, but that’s not enough to get me on a Mexican cruise. Enough blah, blah, blah on my part. Question: Is there any discussion higher up in the Carnival food chain of re-adding more ports soon or is it still considered unsafe?  This won’t stop us from coming back to Florida for a great cruise, just not nearly as often. Since we’re now simply at the mercy of the airlines to offer fares we can afford. As always, John, thank you and your staff for all your hard work in making our cruise so great!

John says:
Hello Steve Krafthefer

I appreciate those kind words very much and appreciate your loyalty, too, especially with the distances you have to fly. I hate flying too so I know exactly what you mean. We did just announce that the ship I am writing to you from, the Carnival Miracle, is returning to Long Beach next spring after her upgrades to sail on a weekly basis to Cabo, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlán, a port we have missed going to, for sure. I hope we do see you soon and if there is anything I can do for you, please do let me know. Best wishes.


Ruth Gould asks:
Hello John: We will be sailing the week of my son’s 15th birthday. I am wondering if the teen club allows birthday celebrations. I think he would enjoy a celebration with his peers more than a cake delivered to our table during dinner. Please let me know if I might be allowed to surprise him.

John says:
Hello Ruth Gould

Thank you for sailing with us during this special time. We don’t have birthday parties in Club O2, I am afraid, so it would be better to think about arranging a cake at dinner, have the waiters sing happy birthday, etc. Please let me know if I can help any other way and I will be here for you. I wish you all a brilliant time. Best wishes.


Eddie Kirkpatrick Jr asks:
Thanks to you, John, my entire family now calls me farmer Eddie after my Old MacDonald Had a Farm singing at your marriage show on the Carnival Miracle. What a blast we had with you and all the hype we had read was right on because you are the funniest person we have ever seen. John, please would you tell Suki, our waiter, that we miss him. He was perfect in every way and me, my wife and both sets of parents all agree that Suki deserves a raise, so please let him and the people in charge know this. We all had such fun and what a way to start our married lives together. Thank you, John, Suki and all the crew people on Miracle

Farmer Freddie LOL

John says:
Hello Eddie Kirkpatrick Jr

I remember your performance well and as I said on stage, that will forever be your love song, your special song. It was so much fun to share the stage with you and I will also make sure that Suki and his managers get to see your kind words about him. I wish you and your wife oth a brilliant and happy life together and hope to see you all soon. Best wishes to all.


Kristy Klaus asks:
We recently cruised on Carnival Sunshine. Besides some hiccups in the dining room, it was a great cruise. We were surprised to find our cabins did not have refrigerators. Is Carnival planning to remove the fridges from other ships’ cabins and/or eliminate them on the new ships?

John says:
Hello Kristy Klaus

I hope you had a great time and I am sorry to read you had some challenges in the dining room, I do hope they were quickly resolved. The refrigerators were not added during Carnival Sunshine’s conversation from Carnival Destiny and are only available on the new cabins that were added to the ship. We are not removing any and many of the ships have mini-bars in all the cabins. Let me know if you have any more questions or if you need anything. Best wishes.


Samuel Cerezo asks:
I bought a Bella Perina bracelet from the shop on the Carnival Elation and the clasp broke. I called my travel agent who told me to write on this page to get you to fix it. How do I get you to do this and where do I send you the bracelet? Here is the photo. Maybe best you send me a new one but make sure it is the same as the photo is. Get back to me at __________

John says:
Hello Samuel Cerezo

Thanks for writing to me and I am sorry to learn that your bracelet is broken. I am not able to fix this myself but please do not worry. Here is the address;

Starboard Cruise Services, Inc.
Attn:  Customer Service Dept.
9290 NW 112 Avenue, Suite 1
Miami, Fl. 33178

Customer Service Center hours of operation:  Monday – Friday 9 am – 12 pm/1 pm – 4 pm
Toll Free Phone: 1-800-540-4785 or Outside U.S. Non-Toll Free: 1-305-728-4520

Please let me know if I can help further.
Best wishes

Kathryn Chase asks:
Twenty-one percent of Americans have celiac disease but on my last cruise, Carnival seemed oblivious to that fact. Your choices were sparse. I am on my eighth Carnival trip on the Carnival Magic July 10 so I need to ask you for something important. I would like the chef to make me these recipes for dinner meals. I am a paying customer one I feel I have the right to ask for. Celiac disease is a disease — not a lifestyle choice like obesity, John. Americans are learning the dangers of excess food processing, excess sugar and refined carbohydrates, and we’re trying to find a way to get back to healthy eating. Please let the chef have these recipes so I can eat well!

John says:
Hello Kathryn Chase

I did not realise so many people were suffering from this and, certainly, we realise that many do and have really stepped up our selections and offerings. While I won’t be able to ask the chef to cook the four recipes you attached to this post, I will tell you that I think you will find a great selection and, most importantly, if there is something that you would like, please do ask your waiter and he or she will chat with the chef and help you all they can. Given that there are upwards of 4,000 other people on board, we cannot, of course, start accepting individual recipe requests from guests, I am sure you understand. I wish you a wonderful cruise and let me know if you have any other questions or requests. Best wishes.


And on that gluten-free note, we end today’s Q&A.

OK, time to meet another bright young cruise director talent and his name is Kevin Donahue, here he is.

Kevin Donohue

What’s your name and where are you from? Kevin Donohue from Long Island, New York

Tell us about your work experience and your journey with Carnival Cruise Lines so far?
I’ve enjoyed a career at sea for five years. I found my home with Carnival Cruise Lines in 2013 and it has been the most rewarding decision I have ever made.  I started in the entertainment department and my journey has taken me to the cruise director you see now.  Over the past one and a half years, I definitely feel like I am home and I love my new Carnival family.

How do you feel you, as cruise director, can influence the guest experience in a positive way? I think just making guests smile and taking the time to get to know them is the most positive thing anyone can do. I want every guest to step on a ship and feel as though they are being welcomed into our home, not our place of employment. Just doing little things like that can make a guest’s experience 100 times more memorable.

What’s your favourite part of your job? I meet people from all over the world.  I would’ve never had the chance to experience all the different cultures out there living in my little bubble on Long Island. I love my life at sea.

What do you find the biggest challenge? If I am being honest, my announcements over the PA.  You put me on the stage with 2,000+ guests in front of me and I am going to have the time of my life. However, the second I hear that “bing bong” and have to start talking over the PA it’s almost like I am in kindergarten all over again.  It’s quite funny because I make a joke out of it and make everyone laugh, including me

If there is one event, show or activity that you host that our guests must not miss, what is it? Hands down — THE CARNIVAL QUEST.  I love that it gives all the adults a chance to let loose.

Please share with us your favourite story from your time on our ships? I had the pleasure of working a K-LOVE charter.  I wasn’t really familiar with any of the music beforehand. After the first show of the cruise, I was hooked and could not get enough of all the different artists performing. That cruise could’ve gone on for weeks and I would’ve never gotten tired of it.

And now – about you

Favourite Movie? Pretty Woman – only because I’m a momma’s boy and it’s the movie we will watch together every time it is on no matter what.

Favourite bar or lounge on one of our ships? I love watching our production cast work their magic on the main stage. So I would have to say the main show lounge.

How do you relax? I love to curl up in a nice big blanket and watch some Big Bang Theory

And if you could meet any famous person in the world, who would it be? Ellen DeGeneres all the way.  I don’t think I would be able to stop laughing

Thanks mate. Kevin is a newcomer to Carnival but this New York lad is making a big splash judging by the comments I am hearing so start spreading the news, Kevin is here and ready to give you loads of fun

OK, back to Ms. X. In her four-page letter, of which three pages suggested various reasons I should be tarred and feathered before being sent to a Turkish prison, the other page was basically saying that Carnival were a sexist company because, “We have no female captains” and that she did not see any female officers on the Carnival Miracle and therefore “Carnival is a sexist company.”

Well, much has changed at Carnival in my 27 years at sea and there are now many more women in positions of authority than when I started by in 1987 that’s for sure.  Granted there are no female captains but we have female hotel directors, bridge officers, housekeeping managers, maitre d’s, bar managers, a chief security officer, and guest services managers, just to name a few.

Now, off the ships over at Carnival HQ there are many women in leadership positions, as well. The sales department is run by a highly experienced sales professional, Executive Vice President Lynn Torrent. Then you have assorted vice presidents including those in charge of guest care, public relations and other important areas. And one of our top executives is a man Monday to Friday but on weekends, he puts on a dress and make up and calls himself Lilly……so that counts as well, doesn’t it?

I know many of the other cruise lines have top female executives. And this is good news because women have and continue to contribute much to the industry we all love. Plus it doesn’t hurt that one or two are really hot! ……… sorry ….. that was sexist.  I understand that another cruise line does have a female captain and that’s great to hear and I wonder if she will break the obvious male-dominated role and we will see more captains in skirts. Maybe one day we will have a female captain here at Carnival… maybe on the M/S Carnival Vista. It may take her a while longer to dock the ship, the bridge may have some scented candles on it and definitely once a month the boson is going to have to paint a “P” in front of MS.

That wasn’t sexist……………was it?

Your friend

]]> 44
What’s In Your Wallet? Fri, 15 Aug 2014 18:13:51 +0000 Continue reading ]]> It’s hard to think about hurricane season when you are in Alaska and sailing through fjords with lagoon-like waters. Two weeks ago, though, I was talking about hurricanes and storms with one of our newly promoted cruise directors whose bio will be featured in a forthcoming blog. He told me about the difficulties he had recently gone through, thanks to Tropical Storm Bertha, which, by the way, was named after one of my Great Aunties who would kiss me on the lips every Christmas before handing me my present that I knew would be a pair of socks. Anyway, back to the young CD I was talking to on the phone and who had called for some advice from me. Oh, by the way……….he called me “Godfather” which resulted in me calling him a wanker. Do you know, when I started with Carnival this young, good-looking, newly promoted CD was only five years old ……………what a total bastard. Godfather, my arse.

Sorry, I digress yet again. He explained that wasn’t it Bertha that had caused him problems — no, it was a few guests who went beyond the usual disappointment that every guest feels when a change of itinerary occurs and became angry — very angry, actually. This is, as the great Welsh, hip-gyrating Tom Jones says, “not unusual.” Not only on Carnival but on every other cruise line in the world, maybe with the exception of P&O, because Brits never complain about anything in public, and on AIDA, which is our brilliant all inclusive German cruise line and therefore full of Germans who are too naked and enjoy the free beer too much to care if they go to Barbados or Botswana.  But seriously, on every ship that is affected by Mother Nature, there are people who do not and will not understand that the cruise lines make these changes to avoid….. ummmmm ………….how do I put it ………. ummmmm……ummmmm……oh, yes, I know ………….. DEATH!

Most of you are understanding and, although disappointed, completely prefer a change of port over sailing through 100 mph winds and 50-foot seas. And, if you are angry, if you are upset, why, oh, why do a few people (as described by this young, handsome rumpy pumpy attracting total git of a cruise director) take their frustration out on a 25-year-old assistant cruise director from Australia who was screamed at so much it reduced her to tears. Do they honestly think that she can change anything? The decisions to change or cancel ports are taken by very smart people on land and by the captain who will never put our guests and crew in danger.  And, as for the tiny group of passengers who get abusive and scream and shout and call us names, well we as staff should have the right to tell them to bugger off and if that doesn’t work ……..we, the staff, should be able to give them the good news with a cattle prod. But, of course, we can’t and we don’t. Our wonderful staff apologises, takes the verbal tongue lashings and apologises again.

Let’s hope 2014 is a very quiet hurricane season but if we should be forced to change ports of call, then, please, don’t shout and swear at a staff member who only 10 minutes before was hosting the a sodding trivia quiz.

Time for today’s Q and A…………… we go.

Shelby Pearson asks:
Mr. Heald: I will be cruising with my kids and my parents for their 45th anniversary in September on Carnival Sunshine.  I understand our balcony cabins are not adjoining inside but have been told that the partitions on the balconies can be “opened” so they can be adjoining that way.  Is that a possibility and can it be done ahead of time or do we need to ask when we board?  This will be a first cruise for my oldest son, second for my Dad and third for the rest of us. Took us a while to get started cruising but there is no other way to vacation for us now!  Thank you for all you and Carnival do to make our vacations so much fun.

John says:
Hello Shelby Pearson

Thanks so much for writing and I am glad to see that you are now hooked on cruising. Some of the dividers between the balconies can be opened and some cannot. The best thing to do is to send me the cabin numbers and this request again on my page two days before the cruise and I will do all I can to make this happen. Thanks so much and I wish you all the best of times. Best wishes.


David Rosen asks:
I am astonished that you continue refraining from your normal trash about bodily functions when world events like the crisis the Israeli people are facing. There is a place for humor but there is a time when it is inappropriate and that time is now!!!

John says:
Hello David Rosen

What is happening between Israel and Palestine – not to mention in various other parts of the world, including right here in the U.S. – is terrible and let us hope that peace prevails quickly all over the globe. But should we stop laughing at ourselves and each other? No. Not in my opinion. I hope I will never forget about the need for laughter. It is the most universal of languages …….. and one we should all try to speak more fluently.  Best wishes.


Tanner M asks:
Hello John: We are thinking about taking a cruise on the Carnival Victory in December. Is the Carnival Victory going to be going into dry dock before December? We have heard some uneasy reviews of the Carnival Victory.

Tanner M

John says:
Hello Tanner M

Thanks for writing and I’ll have to check on the dry dock schedule for the Carnival Victory and let you know. She is a great ship though and I have no doubts you will have the best of times on her. Please let me know if you have any questions. Best wishes.


Tantara asks:
I love Carnival and love you.  You are so brutally honest and that’s a rare treat nowadays.  We have two cruises booked for 2015 and looking forward to 2016 and beyond.  Do you know when there might be another Panama Canal cruise (2016 – 2017 timeframe?).   Thanks much.

John says:
Hello Tantara

What a lovely name and what a very kind and humbling post. We recently announced that we were adding some voyages on the Carnival Triumph to Panama and Costa Rica and they have proven very popular indeed.  We’ll see what the future holds as we get great feedback on these cruises. I will keep you informed and I hope to see you soon. Best wishes.


Walter Foy asks:
As a platinum VIP passenger with Carnival Cruise Lines, I want to draw your attention to the lack of seating at the comedy shows. I am just off the Carnival Freedom and was frustrated not just by the lack of seating but the negativity shown to me by the manager and by cruise director Skip Lyons when I asked for reserved seating owed to me because of my VIP status. NCL allows me as a VIP their reserved seating at the Second City comedy shows and, as a VIP with Carnival, I think you should offer me the same. It is very disheartening to have to fight for a seat with people who are not VIPs. I hope that you will give this suggestion immediate attention and turn my negative into a positive and quickly.

Walter Foy

John says:
Hello Walter Foy

Let me start by saying thank you for reaching platinum level with us and, while we won’t be offering reserved seating for our platinum guests, we are working as we speak on managing our massively popular Punchliner Comedy shows in a more efficient way. I will tell you more about that in the days ahead. Thanks again and I do hope to see you soon. Best wishes.


Patti Sheehan asks:
We read your comments EVERY day…the only thing missing on our last….my husband’s first …. cruise was a great cruise director….we would NEVER go to Alaska…that being said….who is your protégé….we want the experience you provide…..I understand you have to answer in a politically correct manner, saying all cruise directors are great……but please tell us who can offer what you do….and don’t tell me all do….because ours did not….although she did nothing wrong or offensive….just not fun…engaging and always there….we were on Carnival Fantasy March 28.

John says:
Hello Patti Sheehan

I am sorry to read that your last cruise did not provide the type of cruise director that you would have hoped for. I certainly think all of our cruise directors are primed and ready to give you a brilliant time and why not look at some ships and let me know which ones and I will tell you something about the CDs on each. Hope that helps and I am here if you have any other questions.

Best wishes.


Brenda Booth asks:
Do the mini fridges on the Carnival Dream have a freezer compartment? I ask because this is my first cruise as a diabetic. I recently have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had a rare major surgery, a whipple, that has made me insulin dependent diabetic.  I’ve cruised several times with Carnival but never used the fridge. My insulin doesn’t have to be refrigerated but on port days at the beach, it would be way too hot for it. So I thought I’d take some mini freezable ice packs with me to keep the meds cool but would need some way to freeze them. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me. I’d like to add I love Carnival and although this may have to be my last cruise, I can’t wait to board the Carnival Dream in August. You and all crew members I’ve seen do a wonderful job in making me feel welcomed and special.

John says:
Hello Brenda Booth

Thanks for writing and I am glad you did so I can give you the right information. The mini-bars do not have freezer compartments but we have a special one just for this at the guest services desk. They are open 24 hours and will happily store your insulin for you as and when needed. I hope this helps reassure you and if you have any other questions, please let me know. Thanks for the very kind words about the crew. Best wishes.


Harry Franklin asks:
My family will be cruising on the Carnival Splendor 8/20. I have two children who love to draw and color so can you have some color pencils and paper put in our cabin 6344 for when we arrive. We are platinum members and our booking reference number is ****

John says:
Hello Harry Franklin

I am sure you will be excited about your cruise. I will see what Camp Carnival has to spare but I would encourage you to bring some supplies as well just in case. Thanks so much and I wish you a wonderful time. Best wishes.


Janie asks:
Hello John: My husband and I are sailing on our first Christmas cruise. This will be our 10th cruise with Carnival. I was wondering what the shore excursions will be like in the Bahamas at Christmas. We will be there on the December 24-25 and what shows will Carnival host, will be Vegas style or seasonal? We are VERY happy with Carnival and absolutely love the smoking ban on balconies. Thank you for all your wonderful work with Carnival.

John says:
Hello Janie

The ship will be ready to give you a wonderful Christmas vacation and will be decorated for the holiday season. The regular shows will be featured and will be complemented by a Christmas show as well, as for the excursions everything will be offered as normal so have a look at and see which ones you want to do. I will be here if you have any other questions. Have a brilliant time. Best wishes.


Roberta Stolfo asks:
Need you to URGENTLY CONFIRM the PRICE of the Cheers drink offering. We are considering doing this on our cruise on the Freedom in September!! URGENT URGENT

John says:
Hello Roberta Stolfo

Here are the details you requested. Have a great time and let me know if you have any other questions 

Using the CHEERS! beverage package, guests can enjoy a wide variety of wine, beer and spirits (including cocktails and frozen drinks), along with sodas and non-alcoholic frozen cocktails throughout the voyage at one convenient flat rate plus tax and a 15% gratuity added on at the time of purchase of the package. Pricing will be subject to change depending on duration and seasonality. Accordingly, we will now publish a range of pricing, as follows:

CHEERS! package prices range from $165.00 to $300.00 per person/per voyage (including up to eight-day durations) depending on the length of the cruise. Cruises longer than eight days will have voyage specific pricing. Taxes and gratuities are additional. CHEERS! requires all guests 21 years of age and older in the cabin to purchase the package. 

CHEERS! is not offered on two-day cruises, charter cruises, on ships sailing from Australia (Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend) and beverage purchases made at Half Moon Cay and Little Stirrup Cay in The Bahamas.

Best Wishes


Lora Jackomin asks:
Just curious as to what the word is on the Carnival Vista. I know she’s not due out till 2016 but wondered if Carnival had decided what her USA home port might be. We’re Diamond members and can’t say enough good things about Carnival.  We’ve sailed with you as our cruise director twice and would love to do it again.  You’re the best

John says:
Hello Lora Jackomin

No news yet but hopefully soon we will have all the information which I can tell you will be very, very exciting. Until then I thank you for your loyalty and I hope we see you soon. Best wishes.


Gareth Greenwood asks:
Is the shower gel and shampoo in the cabins for men and women as I read that it was only for ladies? How come?!

John says:
Hello Garteh Greenwood

The complimentary shower gel we use is designed for both men and women. Please let me know if there are any other questions. Best wishes.


And that’s all we have time for today. Thanks to you all for your comments and questions and for taking the time to read this blog. Recently I posted the new cruise director schedule and you will have seen some names that, maybe like a Parisian in a Bath & Body Works, you are unfamiliar with. So over the next few weeks I will introduce you to some of these new generation of cruise directors and today we meet a young man by the name of Robin………… he is:

Robin CD Photo

What’s your name and where are you from? Robin Gardner – Cambridge, England

Tell us about your work experience and your journey with Carnival Cruise Lines so far?
Prior to Carnival Cruise Lines, I worked as an assistant manager for a globally recognized corporation (McDonalds) J. Following that, I worked in a bank for a short time as a retail specialist. I discovered Carnival Cruise Lines through my cousin, Kate, who, at the time, was employed by Carnival as a production singer. After taking a voyage on the Carnival Spirit to visit her I fell in love with life at sea and wanted nothing more than to be involved with it. I went home from that vacation and immediately applied. After being hired face to face by the one and only John Heald, I joined the Carnival Inspiration on June 30, 2008, as a social host. As a host I served on the Carnival Inspiration, Carnival Paradise, Carnival Legend, Carnival Splendor, Carnival Destiny, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Valor and Carnival Conquest before receiving my first promotion to assistant cruise director on the Carnival Fantasy. As an assistant, I sailed on the Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Pride and was fortunate to cover as acting cruise director on three separate occasions. My first extended covering spot was on the Carnival Paradise in 2013 and after rounding out that contract on the Carnival Freedom as an assistant working for the awesome Brad Calabrese, I have now entertained our guests as cruise director on Carnival Ecstasy and Carnival Elation.

How do you feel you, as cruise director can influence the guest experience in a positive way?I often get told by guests that I have a very genuine, caring attitude and this is definitely my greatest strength. My sole aim is to make sure the guests have a wonderful and fun vacation experience and I am glad this reflects across to our guests.

What’s your favourite part of your job?I enjoy meeting and working with talented people from all over the world. I also love interacting with our guests whether it is face to face or from the stage. I am very much a people person and enjoy having a positive influence on our guests’ vacation experience.

What do you find the biggest challenge?Saying goodbye to friends I make over each contract. We get so close working and having fun together and it is always hard to say goodbye. Luckily, though, you often bump into each other later down the line on a different ship, so it’s not always goodbye — it’s more like, see you later!

If there is one event, show or activity that you host that our guests must not miss, what is it?My Love & Marriage Show is always a lot of fun. I enjoy the spontaneity of the show and the challenge of thinking on my feet to react to the couples’ responses.

Please share with us your favourite story from your time on our ships? Believe it or not, my favourite story is more of an experience and it comes from 2010 when I was working on the Carnival Splendor out of Long Beach. I was there when the ship lost power and was stranded at sea. Seeing how well the team pulled together for the benefit of our guests and each other was truly heartwarming and I will never forget it. Although it was a challenging time, everyone worked together to make sure the situation had as little impact as possible on the guests. In those four days I cleaned tables, served drinks, provided entertainment, made sandwiches, served food, carried luggage and more. Every team member stepped outside of their regular roles to go above and beyond to provide an exceptional level of service to our guests when they really needed it. I am so proud to work with these kinds of people and that is what being a part of the Carnival family is all about!

And now – about you

Favourite Movie?Planes, Trains & Automobiles with Steve Martin and John Candy. It reminds me of home as my father and I watch it every time I’m on vacation and laugh til it hurts. Good times!

Favourite bar or lounge on one of our ships?I quite enjoy the aft bar on the Fantasy-class ships as it gives you a nice opportunity to connect with guests on a one to one basis. I have had some wonderful conversations in this more peaceful location.

How do you relax?I play video games in my spare time and I like to spend time with friends and family, good food, a few drinks and lots of laughter. I am also a big nerd and love to collect figures and trading cards.

And if you could meet any famous person in the world, who would it be? This may sound very English of me but it’s Queen Elizabeth II. I always say if I had a choice between receiving $1 million or meeting the Queen for afternoon tea, I’d choose Her Majesty every time. I think she would be fascinating to talk to.

Thanks, Robin. I was there with Robin at the start of his career and, as he said, I interviewed him and his personality shone brightly and I knew he would if he wanted, go all the way and now he has. Well done, mate.

Over the past few months, I have seen a few comments here from our much appreciated and very loyal platinum card guests. Some are decent comments that we should consider, some are not. Their loyalty though has been amazing and long may it continue. I have seen a few of those comments though that lead me to think that for a tiny portion of these guests the perks that we offer and perks that some think we should offer are more important than the cruise experience itself. And surely that should not be. Surely it is the affordability, the fun and the brilliant service that keeps them coming back, not the fact that we wash their underpants for free. Now again, I want to make it clear that that statement is true for the vast majority of our loyal guests but it does seem to me that the wishes and sometimes the demands are more important than …… well …………the cruise itself and that if I may be so bold to say, is a sodding shame. We are still in the process of looking at our entire loyalty program and, as and when I have news on that, I will let you know and we will do all we can to keep our loyal guests exactly that, loyal

I know that many of you love to show off your platinum, milestone and diamond Sail & Sign cards, and why not, so you should and I think it would be great if we came up with a double diamond card as well and have suggested this to the beards. This has me thinking about credit cards though and how some people love to show off theirs. The problem with that is that, occasionally, it’s people with posh credit cards that do have a bit of an …… ummm …. attitude.

I am not a huge fan of credit cards but, obviously, you have to have one in today’s world because it’s the law. I remember when I got my first one when I was 20 years old. It arrived all bright and shiny in the mail and I spent the next few months pummeling it within an inch of its life. I remember I had a 1,000 pound (where the bloody hell is the pound sign on this bastard Dell?) sterling credit limit which, back in the 80’s, seemed like 1 million pounds.

And I bought everything. Clothes, a watch, a new eight-track stereo for my car, a year’s subscription to Big Knockers Magazine, and holidays in Spain and, if I had known about it then, I would have bought a holiday to Latvia, as well. And then I had just enough credit left on my card to buy a new pair of underpants when I discovered how much interest I had to pay. And, of course, thanks to people like me and those bastard wankers …….. sorry …… bankers ….. the economy was hovering on the brink of collapse and little old ladies were having to sell their cats for medical experiments.

But there’s an even darker side to credit cards and it is one rarely talked about. I’m talking about the misery of not having the right one. We’ve all been there. Dinner is over, the check (bloody hell I am an American…….I said check and not bill) has arrived and everyone is chucking their credit cards onto the plate thingy that the leather-bound wallet containing the bad news sits on. It’s a sea of platinum and gold……….just like the ship. And then it’s your turn. And all you’ve got is your regular credit card. Suddenly you have the social standing of explosive diarrhea.

A few years ago, I had dinner with a very, very senior Carnival executive who showed me something called “Black Centurion” credit card. He looked at me, winked and said it, “Gave him certain privileges.” I had images of calling the credit card company and ordering a chauffeur driven Aston Martin full of naked Latvians.  Obviously, I had to have one. So I called, told them I was a senior cruise director, lied about my salary and they told me……………to bugger off. Apparently, my yearly salary was only $2 million dollars short of the required minimum. But they sent me a platinum card instead. It came with a 700-page booklet about all that it offered. Brilliant.

A few weeks later I was flying economy class back to England after some time on one of the ships and found myself sitting in one of those overpriced tasteless fast food Ruby Friday type places at Miami airport. As I was eating my burger (God, I miss burgers, fries and, oh, yes, rumpy pumpy) I remembered the platinum “master key” in my wallet and recalled a bit in the pamphlet that came with it that said it opened the door to airline lounges around the world.

So, I waddled over to the British Airways club class lounge with my cargo class boarding ticket and asked if I could use the facilities. “I’m afraid not,” said the woman cheerfully. “Aha,” I countered, “but I have a platinum card,” producing the thing and holding it over my head like a fishing trophy.  She sneered as if I had showed her a photo of my dangly bits resting on top of a chocolate melting cake…….and she told me to bugger off and that was me back at Ruby Fridays.

Sometime later I was checking in at a hotel in Miami, again, I remembered the card and thought: “I wonder if this will get me a room upgrade?” Bugger me, it did. All I had to do was check into one of the suites at $1 billion a night and I would be automatically upgraded to the Presidential suite, with the enlarged mini-bar and lap dancers at no extra cost. So, off to the room with a view of the runway at Miami International Airport I went.

As the months went by, I kept producing the Platinum card and the result was pretty much always the same. “Non.” “Nein.” And when I was in Holland with Heidi, someone actually said, “What the f***’s that?”……in Dutch. That was the last straw. Having a platinum card is not like having a big yacht, house, car or gentleman’s sausage. They are not useful and these cards exist, solely, to impress. It has no other function as far as I can see.

If I were the sort of person who had “clients” or needed to impress a beautiful Latvian model then maybe it would have be useful……….but as I am neither, I got rid of it. Because at the end of the day, it was as pointless as a condom machine at the Vatican.

Your friend,

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PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN ………….AND GEORGE Wed, 13 Aug 2014 01:25:32 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Pirates used to be fun with their wooden legs and shoulder-based parrots and cries of “shiver me timbers.” Say the word “pirate” and you and I see a salty sea dog with gunpowder smoldering in his beard. They would all wear long black or red coats and have a patch over one eye… unless, of course, they were really stupid pirates and have patches over both eyes… sorry…. old cruise ship joke.

Red Beard, Black Beard, Johnny Deppbeard were all pirates who, despite the plundering and pillaging that was forced upon thousands of innocent victims, have been portrayed as warm and cuddly and about as dangerous as my Mum armed with a toothpick. However, during the last few years, thanks to Tom Hanks, we have come to learn of a new type of pirate …one armed not with a rusty sword but with rocket propelled grenades and machine guns. So before I talk about pirate day I want to make sure that everyone here knows I am talking about the cuddly Disneyesque version and not the bastard hijacking Somali ones. So, for those of you who are on one of our ships on September 19, you will be able to enjoy……….Talk Like a Pirate Day. And here is what we will be doing.

  • Piano bar and lounge bands will play pirate shanty sing-a-long music. Songs will be offered at random times throughout the night to acknowledge Talk Like a Pirate Day.
  • Props will be supplied for piano bar guests – pirate hats, eye patches, etc.
  • Bars will be decorated pirate-style


  • Pirate Last Man Standing
  • Pass the Cannonball
  • Pirate Scavenger Hunt
  • Diving for Pirate Treasures
  • Pirate Impression Contest
  • Best Pirate Joke
  • Pirate Trivia

Lido Sailaway or Deck Party will be decorated pirate style with music, games and contests. Guests will be given pirate-themed bandanas, mini flags, eye patches, blow up swords, hooks, hats and Dive-In Movies will show Pirates of the Caribbean.

Now, obviously, we want our guests to take part, so if you are sailing that week, please bring a pirate costume with you and, yes, you can wear it to dinner. If this is a success then we will give serious consideration to making this a regular attraction and, of course, I will let you know how it all goes and hope those who are on one of our ships during Pirate Day will let us all know too.

OK, time to crack on with today’s Q and A.

Paul Bettencourt asks:
John Heald, would you clarify something for me because there is mass confusion as you will see from the link I have attached. Are the maitre d’s supposed to acknowledge and answer the emails we send requesting table reservations? It appears that most do not with the Carnival Pride being one of the biggest offenders. Seems rude to me and many customers that they do not reply On Cruise Critic________says that “John Heald uses that as an easy form excuse for when his associates fail to follow through with the guest.” What do you have to say?????????? Looks like poor customer service to me.

John says:
Hello Paul Bettencourt

The simple answer is no, they are not supposed to and are not expected to by anyone of the Carnival beards. You can imagine that if every guest did that it would be impossible to manage so we do ask that guests either see the maître d on embarkation day or let me know ahead of time on my Facebook page and I will try to help. They are not being rude neither is it an excuse despite what anyone may think. They are just busy and acting within the parameters that Carnival sets for them. I hope this answers your question and I would be grateful if you would add this answer to the link you sent so others can see as well. Best wishes.


Mary Grabski asks:
John: I just wanted to let you know what a wonderful time we had on Carnival Liberty July 6-11. The service was the absolute best.  Corey was our CD, and he did an outstanding job, however you are still our favorite. Thank you for the care package that was sent to our cabin — much appreciated.  I would like to tell you about one outstanding individual. His name was Lucian (sp) in the EA Sports Bar, what a great man.  He took time and spoke to my 14-year-old son who is sports obsessed.  My son would walk in and Lucian would have a Coke poured for him immediately, he then listened to my son whine and complains about his beloved LeBron James leaving Miami every day of the cruise.  He was such a patient bartender.   My son spent hours in the EA Sports Bar watching ESPN it was a nice addition for the sports lover, only complaint was that the World Cup was not broadcasted.  Anyways, I am looking forward to our next cruise, hoping you will be on it!

John says:
Hello Mary Grabski

I know how your son feels about LeBron, we will all miss him. But, on a happier note, I am so glad you had fun together and I will be sure to send on all your kind words to Lucian and Cory. I know they will be thrilled when they see this and I hope that you will come and sail with us again very soon. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you and…..Let’s Go Heat!

Best wishes.


Tom McTernan asks:
John, what you did for my brother on his return from Afghanistan with the U.S. Marine Corps will be something all of us will never forget. The service on Carnival Splendor was the best we have ever had and the steakhouse meal was one of the best meals we have ever had and we are fussy New Yorkers. Special thanks go to Wyan, our cabin attendant, and our waiters, Lizbet, Mija and Norberto. John, my brother was overwhelmed with the generosity you showed him and the message you wrote which Malcolm, the cruise director, read out loud on his show. We will be back and we will always hope to meet you one day, John.

John says:
Hello Tom McTernan

Thanks so very much for these wonderfully kind words and I will pass on your thanks to those who you mentioned on the ship and they, too, will be very proud. Talking of pride, I can see you have so much of that for your brother and please once again, send him my best. I, too, hope we meet soon and I am here at your service if you need me. Best wishes to all.


Sue Gillette asks:
We will be on Carnival Sunshine December 14, 2014, and would like to put balloons on our table before dinner. Can we make this happen? Also would like to buy a cake, but don’t want anything on top. We will bring a topper but needs to be put on 30 minutes before coming to table need to know how to make this happen. This will make a seven-year-old boy’s birthday one he will remember a long time.

Thank you,

Sue Gillette

John says:
Hello Sue Gillette

Thank you for writing to me and it looks like you are planning a wonderful cruise. The cake is no problem but you will need to order on the ship from Cherry on Top shop on the first day. Explain please what you would like and they will gladly assist. There is a charge for the cake but we will add your topper as requested. The balloons should not be a problem but you need to have them blown up and ready so that when you come into the dining room ahead of time, you can place them on the table. The waiters only have a small amount of time between sittings to re-set tables so they won’t be able to help but, of course, if time allows they will. Please can you remind me of this the day before the cruise via my Facebook page and I will let the ship know. Have a great time. Best wishes.


Marc Wascaro asks:
I have decided to bring my family on a cruise on the Carnival Splendor and amongst our group of 12 is my son. He recently won The National Speech & Debate Association 2014 National Speech & Debate Tournament. This is the world’s largest academic competition. I would like to ask that you add a debate club tournament to your daily program and, if you need my son to assist you organize this, he will be willing to lend his time and help you make this a popular event each of your cruises. We were able to organize something similar on our cruise on NCL’s Jade and I trust Carnival will be just as accommodating.

John says:
Hello Marc Wascaro

Many congratulations to your son of whom you must be so very proud. Now I have to admit that I am not the brightest bulb on the tree and had to ask my Facebook friends what a debate club would involve. Having done so, I do not think this fits into the fun vacation style Carnival is all about, so please forgive me but I will not be able to offer this. I wish you a brilliant time together and if there is anything I can do, please do ask.  Best wishes.


Kathryn Hickman asks:
September 29 will be my first cruise and it is on Carnival Fantasy. My question is about electrical outlets as there are four of us and we all use a C-PAP when we sleep. May I use a surge protector in the electrical outlet so all four can be hooked up at once? I read that there is only one outlet in the room. Will I need to bring an extension cord also? I have searched the FAQ’s and cannot find anything else about this. Thank you for your time and I love your blogs!

John says:
Hello Kathryn Hickman

Thanks so much for your kind words and I am so glad you enjoy these blogs. Yes, indeed, you may bring one. Please make sure it’s in very good condition and pack it in your carry on. If not, we can provide an extension cord on board so please let us know if you decide to do that. Regardless, I am here to help, so please let me know if you have any questions. Have a brilliant time. Best wishes.


Ben Kelly asks:
Hi, John. I have a suggestion that I would love for you to take to the “beards” and see what they have to say. How about awarding solo cruisers who pay 200 percent of the per-passenger rate double VIFP points? I understand the solo supplement is waived on some sailings, and no
one would rightly expect double points for these. But for sailings where I, as a solo traveler, pay double, it would be a nice gesture. Thanks!

John says:
Hello Ben Kelly

I recently had the same request here from someone else asking for this and I did indeed send it to the beards. I know there are certain challenges to cruising solo and, certainly, I think our recent sales have helped. But this is a good point and I will, once again, pass it to the right people. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you and I hope to see you soon. Best wishes.


William (Bill) Geick asks:
Hi John, just something I thought you might run by the beards concerning the VIFP program. I believe this suggestion could generate some new excitement into the program. The amount of points between Platinum and Diamond status (125 points) could be segmented. Say at 100 points you would become a “Platinum one-star” and receive a Platinum pin with one star somewhere on the pin. It would also have a small perk, something like an additional drink coupon good for any day during the cruise anywhere on the ship (this is just an example of how small the perk could be). The pin and perk would be something to acknowledge your continuing dedication to Carnival. At 125 points, you would receive a “Platinum two-star” pin and small perk. And the last one before Diamond would be at 150 points a “Platinum three-star” with pin and perk. I believe the new pins would generate more enthusiasm and pride into the VIFP program. It could also generate questions about the loyalty program from other cruisers new to Carnival when they see the pins that I’m sure would be worn by the Platinum members. Whatever, we are still loyal Carnival cruisers and the next cruise in September on the Sunshine we will be half way to Diamond. Also looking forward to meeting you on the Bloggers Cruise in January. Cheers, mate.

John says:
Hello William (Bill) Geick

This is very interesting indeed. I know that the beards are very much in the middle of looking what do with our loyalty program as we move forward so, as requested, I will of course make sure that this excellent suggestion is read by them. I want to meanwhile thank you for your loyalty and I hope you will let me know the next time you are sailing with us which I see is on the Carnival Sunshine. Have a great cruise and send me your cabin number the day before the cruise on my Facebook page.

Terrie Reuvers asks:
John: I don’t question Carnival’s policies, but I think you should know and should alert the beards that the one constant complaint I see about Carnival is inconsistency when you talk to reps and on the ships. For example, you can call Carnival and ask a question, and then call back and ask the same question to another rep and get a totally different answer. Some have reported calling repeatedly until they get someone that will give them the answer they want (which might or might not be the correct “policy” answer for the question). That is not right and certainly not what you want to have folks tell new Carnival cruisers. Same with on the ship. I use the dress code for the MDR and steakhouse as an example on the ship – we all have read the dress code
and yet it is inconsistent on the ships as to what the maitre d will allow in the dining room. Some have reported being able to wear shorts in the steakhouse. Thought the STEAKHOUSE was to be more like “cruise elegant?”

John says:
Hello Terrie Reuvers

Thanks for the post and I will certainly forward this to the right people. I have not heard the comment before about phoning our guest services team in Miami but I will as I mentioned send it to the right people. The dress code is monitored as best we can but, with so many people entering the dining room, some do get through who maybe should not. Thanks, then, for bringing this to my attention and I remain here at your service. Best wishes.


Alaya Borski asks:
If I book a cruise on the Carnival Splendor over the holidays can you confirm that Xmas celebrations will be muted bearing in mind people of other faiths will be there? This is very important to me and my family.

John says:
Hello Alaya Borski

We do celebrate Christmas on board with the ship being decorated and there will be a Christmas show, carols and other Christmas music. However, we also have a Hanukah service each night with the lighting of the Menorah. This is a great time to spend on the ship and I hope we see you on board. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

Klara Ruiz asks:
I am new to your page, Mr. Heald. I have never cruised with your company and came here to research the possibilities of an internship but, after reading about the meat that you publicly display on your boat, I will not be sending you my resume. Putting meat on public display is like a horror show for so many people and I am not surprised to read that your customers complained. I had no intention of wasting my time in writing a comment but then my blood boiled over when I saw Carnival serves veal!!!! If you accept that animals have rights, raising and killing animals for food is morally wrong. Serve the meat. OK I accept this but to display what was once a living breathing thing to your customers is horrific. An animal raised for food is being used by others rather than being respected for itself. In philosopher’s terms, it is being treated as a means to human ends and not as an end in itself. What Carnival does by displaying meat and serving up veal is a clear violation of the animal’s rights. I know Carnival has children on their boats so imagine how those children feel when they see the flesh of dead animals. Imagine how upset they would be if they had pets!! I will not be tendering my resume to Carnival cruises as your actions have left me no choice but to look elsewhere and not to recommend your cruise line in any way. Shame on you, Mr. Heald, for being a blinkered spokesman who has not it appears from the grinning headshot at the top of this page, has not had a relationship with healthy living.

Klara Ruiz

John says:
Hello Kara Ruiz

Thanks for writing. Let me reply to you by starting out with the fact that I respect your opinion and my reply is going to be based on what I hope you will think is considered conjecture. As long as I can remember, the steakhouses being on ships and the cuts of steak being displayed during embarkation in the atrium never been a negative comment that I’m aware of.  Now that does not mean that some may have been upset but just didn’t report it on board. Plus, you’ll have to agree that Carnival is not the place where cuts of beef are displayed – it’s a very common practice land-side steakhouses and restaurants not to mention other cruise ships. There are many things in life that each of us do not like – from smoking to sports to keeping up with the Kardashians — but we accept that others do and move on. As for the comment about children who see our steakhouse meat being advertised because “they had pets,” again I have to disagree. Talking from personal experience, I remember as kid going to our local butcher shop before the huge supermarket chains forced most of them to close and just like today’s supermarkets there were cases lined with all sorts of sausages, chicken, steaks, etc., and my sister and I made absolutely no connection between what we saw at the butcher shop and our family pet. As I said, I hope you can appreciate our differences on this subject and I wish you nothing but luck in your future endeavors. If there is anything I can do to help on behalf of Carnival Cruise Lines, please do let me know.


Tracy asks:
Why do you allow these holy righteous sub-humans tell me what I can and can’t do because I am a smoker? They attack in packs and should be put down! Why do you let them do this. Do they speak for Carnival cruises?

John says:
Hello Tracy

There have been some very personal attacks from both sides of the smoking argument and I have really not enjoyed them at all. It is a very passionate subject and all I can do is hope that people will get their point across without being cruel which is why I deleted the last two sentences of your post. I do hope you understand and I hope we see you soon. Best wishes.


Tamara Crutchfield asks:
Dear John: I love reading your blog and your Facebook page. Your sense of humor is definitely my style! We are planning an Alaskan cruise next summer and hope to cruise with you. My question has to do with my upcoming 8/31 cruise on the Carnival Sunshine. I have always enjoyed being seated with other people in the dining room. I am cruising alone with my four-year-old grandson. When he and I cruised last fall, we were always seated by ourselves, even for lunch and breakfast. I understand some people are easily annoyed by young children and that is probably the reason. However, I would really like to be seated with another single cruiser with young children, or at least with another family. Years ago, when I cruised with my 10 year old daughter, we were seated at a table with another mom and daughter. It was really nice for us both to have somebody else to talk to at dinner and we ended up doing some other things together on the ship. Is there a way to make sure we have tablemates? Thank you!

John says:
Hello Tamara Crutchfield

I totally understand and I think we can help you meet new friends. Please would you send me this request again, if you can, five days before the cruise and I will be sure to request this from the maître d. the address is I wish you the most wonderful time and please let me know if I can help further. Best wishes.


And that’s all for today……….actually, there is one more question.

Let’s meet one of the new generations of cruise directors and introduce you to Carnival Sunshine’s CD George Roberts.

George Roberts

What’s your name and where are you from?  George William Roberts – from the countryside county of Yorkshire, England. Home of the Terrier, the Pudding and Emmerdale Farm. And no John, I don’t live with a bunch of sheep! How to describe Yorkshire?…. Cold, wet and grey but extremely beautiful. Full of lakes and wildlife and people walking around with nothing but hiking boots. We call them the naked ramblers. Not a hobby of mine!

Tell us about your work experience and your journey with Carnival Cruise Lines so far?
I started with Carnival in 2006 on the Carnival Fascination at the young age of 18. My cruise director at the time was Danny Blake and my assistant cruise director was Dominika Zaremba who remains a good friend of mine. I was absolutely terrified when I first arrived but after that first month fell in love with everything about Carnival, the ocean and the stage. I got promoted to assistant cruise director in 2008. My first ever time covering as CD was on the Carnival Imagination in 2010 when the entire CD team came to sail for a conference. Imagine that welcome aboard show, me on stage and 26 CD’s all stood on the stairs with John Heald at the top staring down on the stage, I about peed a little back stage. Then in early 2013 I was placed in the CD rotation and have loved every second. I have been very lucky in my career with Carnival, I was given the opportunity about three years ago to join the production team and help build Hasbro, The Game Show and install the show throughout the Carnival fleet. This show is something I care about so much and love being able to host something I was part of creating. Most of you know about our adventures in Philadelphia and Italy from reading John’s blog.

How do you feel you, as cruise director can influence the guest experience in a positive way? My passion is making people laugh and making people smile. As a cruise director, I manage to do this a lot and really believe that if anyone is having a bad moment, hour or day that I have the power, through my energy, humor and genuine care to turn that moment of negativity into a moment that you will never forget in a positive way. I also love to help people realize that you should always be yourself.  If you want to dance around on Lido deck in a grass skirt whilst drinking a monkey head cocktail, do it, if you want to laze in the thalassotherapy pool and read a trashy romantic novel, do it. As long as you are bringing fun and happiness to your life, who cares what people think?!

What’s your favourite part of your job? The favorite part of my job is looking at hundreds of smiling, laughing faces in the audience and knowing that at that exact moment in time, one comment I have made, punchline I landed or funny face I pulled has made any bad memories, negative energy or even sadness disappear. I love making promises I can keep, and I promise every time I meet a guest for the first time that they will have the best vacation ever. Knowing that I can keep that promise and be part of it makes every day better than the last.

What do you find the biggest challenge? The biggest challenge for me is knowing when to stop talking. I am a chatterbox and my Mom always says, ‘If talking was an Olympic sport, you would win gold!”  Ha ha!

If there is one event, show or activity that you host that our guests must not miss, what is it?? Hasbro, The Game Show, not only do I love this show because I have been such a big part of the Hasbro journey but it is honestly a great interactive and fun for all ages show time. And I get to pretend I’m on the TV. I am also a huge fan of the Morning Show — there is no better way to wake up in the morning than with a laugh in the first 30 minutes. And even if I’m not funny on a morning, my hair usually is!

Please share with us your favourite story from your time on our ships? A year and a half ago, I met a young girl called Stacy, who was cruising with us. Her parents told me how she was battling a life threatening disease and they thought it was the last vacation she would possibly get. This was on board the Carnival Ecstasy on a five-day sailing. I and the entertainment team gave her “extra special” fun with backstage tours, a private function with the cast and Fun Ship Freddy and treat her like a celebrity. This morning on the day I am writing this, a young lady came running up to me after my talk and gave me the biggest hug and said “I am so glad you’re our cruise director again. I love the Carnival Sunshine and I love you.” It was Stacy and her family. She has just had her last batch of treatment and things are looking up for her and her family. Today, I have the biggest smile I have had in my entire career with Carnival.

And now – about you

Favourite Movie? Pee Wee’s Big Adventure – “tell ‘em Large Marge sent ya”

Favourite bar or lounge on one of our ships? Alchemy Bar/Ocean plaza – Carnival Sunshine

How do you relax? Shopping

And if you could meet any famous person in the world, who would it be? Kathy Griffin

Thanks, George. It is very appropriate that George is on the Carnival Sunshine because with his sparkling bright and shiny personality, he can turn the darkest mood into one full of laughter. Yep, it is safe to say that as a cruise director, George has a bright and shiny future.

The weather was not good last cruise with rain in Juneau and because of heavy seas and fog the late arrival into Victoria, BC. Most guests had a great time. Yes, there were the usual “we only took this cruise to see Victoria” — and no we have little time there which as always is a comment based on frustration rather than fact. But the crew was, as always, amazing and overall I think the guests had a brilliant Alaskan experience.

Let’s hope that the weather is better this cruise and let’s see who is sailing with us;

Guests                                     2,599
USA                                        2,294
Canada                                                96
French Canadian                     7
China                                       65
UK                                          22
Trinidad and Tobago              21
India                                        19
Top Three States                     California/Texas/New York
Diamond Guests                     4
Platinum                                  82
Guests with wheelchairs/scooters – 27

We have a big group sailing from Nokia and Microsoft and they have meetings and events through the cruise.

Guests under 18                      412

At the end of my Facebook posts, I always finish with the letters “WYWH” which I am often asked what they mean? They, of course, stand for “wish you were here” and my love of these words comes from the old days back in the UK when friends and family would send postcards. I will pause a moment to allow those readers under 30 years of age to ask Uncle Google what a “postcard” is. Most of you will though remember postcards. These days they have been replaced by e -mail instead or people send a bloody text on their sophisticated eye phones.

And I am no better. But I would seriously welcome the return to the poetic art of putting pen to paper. There is nothing nicer than receiving a communication that involves ink and a stamp – it’s like finding a tiny present in the mailbox of a morning and it hardly ever happens any more.  Even love letters are delivered via e-mail and all the mailbox has to offer most mornings are bills and menus from the local pizza joint. I am going to urge myself to rediscover the joys of postcard writing because whatever you can say in person, or electronically, is 100 times more wonderful if it’s written down – even if it’s only………”Wish You Were Here”

And for now and as this wonderful ship sails from Skagway to Alaska through some of the most jaw droopingly savagely beautiful scenery in the world, please consider this blog your postcard and one that truly does…………..wish you were here. Right, time for me to take Kara Ruiz’s advice and lead an ecological, tofu-eating, sandal-wearing high-visibility, lifestyle and hit the steakhouse……”Not had a relationship with healthy living” ……………my arse J.

Your friend,


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CRUISE DIRECTORS………….THE NEXT GENERATON Fri, 08 Aug 2014 15:12:49 +0000 Continue reading ]]> In the old days every crew member from the captain on down were paid in cash. Every two weeks we would go down to stand in line at the paymaster’s office and get our envelopes with our salaries in it. Usually my contained loads of $1 bills, I think the paymaster must have thought I had a lap dancing fetish — and if I find out who told him I will use a blow torch on their nipples.

These days things are different.  Crew members have two choices — they can have their salary paid directly into their bank account or have it placed on an internal debit card belonging to a very popular American bank. Most, including me, included take the debit card option. We have two cards: the primary card which can be used like a debit card in shops, ATMs and lap dancing clubs anywhere the “Maestro” sign is displayed and a secondary card held by another family member. Heidi has my main card (shocker) and transfers money from it to our English bank account. This turnaround day in Seattle, I asked Heidi to transfer some money from her main card onto my supplementary card so I could withdraw some cash to tip Ariel my cabin steward, buy a few cigars and some hemorrhoid cream. But bugger me, I could not find the card anywhere. I searched high and low and low and high and both Ariel and my personal assistant Dee and Calvyn helped me. We turned my cabin here on the Carnival Miracle inside out but couldn’t find the card anywhere. I had last used it some weeks ago to buy stuff the one time I had gotten off in Seattle so it was now somewhere either in Big Bubba’s clothing store hidden between two pairs of XXXXL trousers or someone from Nigeria was using it to buy some oil drilling equipment.

Obviously, I had to cancel it. This meant phoning a very happy bank phone system that asked me to say my 16-digit number. I read it out. But it didn’t understand. So I swapped my now English-American voice that 27-plus years on ships, has left me sounding like a cross between Davy Jones from the Monkees and Tony Soprano and used my best Hugh Grant voice and tried again. It still didn’t understand. And then the ship’s satellite phone decided to drop the signal and let out a huge “OH FFS.”  Eventually, after tapping 7,477 sodding numbers into the phone, I was transferred to a nice man who asked me my mother’s maiden name, my date of birth, my postal code (zip code), what I had for dinner on May 18 and how big my gentleman’s sausage is. Eventually he said he would cancel the card immediately…….along with all the others in my name.

“Excuse me,” I said. “What? No, you can’t do that.” Canceling all the cards would include cancelling the main card my wife uses for food shopping and for petrol (gas) and for important items like milk, Kye’s stuff, dog food for Breeze and essential items for Heidi herself like gossip magazines, throw cushions and scented sodding candles. The chap on the phone was very understanding and said he was very sorry but went on to say that if I cancelled my card, then my wife and my daughter and my dog would starve and there was nothing he could do about it as the computer only allowed him one option, cancel everything. He explained that someone could find the card and use it buy a 50 Shades of Grey starter kit or a washing machine. I decided to complain using the skills our guests had taught me these past years and a supervisor came to the phone……..and told me there was bugger all she could do either .

There was no social media page for me to write to and no fat blog with a Facebook page to write to. It does make me think that at Carnival we give you so many different ways to tell us what you enjoy (or what you didn’t) and many ways for you to ask for help and I know you all appreciate that along with our help desk and guest services people in Miami who truly do care that in Mischelle and myself you have a place to ask for help, vent your frustration and, of course, to tell us why you love sailing with us ……….and one of us will answer wearing only underpants.

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

Jason Adams asks:
Good Evening John:  I just wanted to drop a line to thank you for the hours of entertainment you provide us on your blog and Facebook. I would like to commend you on how you handle some of the “people” you deal with and the things they complain about.  As I just sat and read the recent post about “Ship Life” you discussed the crew members that make our trip so unforgettable and the “people” they have to put up with (and I know the majority of your guest are not like some) and do so with a smile every time (without fail in my experience) to take care of US.  My family and I will be on Carnival Dream March 2015 and will be celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary and will be sure to show the staff that will be catering to our needs that we appreciate them. I hope to get to cruise with you one day as I would like to sit down and chew the fat with you. Have a GREAT day and I wish you fair winds on all your travels.


Jason Adams
Retired Firefighter
Concord, NC

John says:
Hello Jason Adams

May I start this reply by thanking you for your service as a firefighter and I hope you have a long and happy retirement. I also want to thank you for your wonderful words and I am so glad that you enjoy my daily musings. Please let me know if there is anything I can do before you sail and I will be here for you. Thanks again and I hope to shake your hand one day soon. Best wishes.


Regina Grannan asks:
I agree with Kimberly Dittman and her comment that passengers be told at the start of the cruise what a platinum VIP card stands for. We got off the ship in Half Moon Cay and got taken to the front of the tender line as is our right but the looks of hatred we got from passengers who did not understand we were VIPs was quite scary. I second Kimberly’s suggestion and a blow up of a platinum card on the giant screen on Lido with some wording under it may help also, John Heald

John says:
Hello Regina Grannan

Thanks so much for writing and for your loyalty and long may that continue. I really don’t think that the looks the other guests gave you were that bad, maybe they just don’t understand. As I mentioned I think to Kimberly, I really don’t want to segregate the guests that way as my job is to make everyone feel like family and for everyone to have fun. If anyone asks you please proudly tell them you are a platinum card member and that should be enough for them to understand why you have tender boarding privileges. Please let me know if you have any other questions and I hope to see you soon. Best wishes.


Derrek Guidry asks:
John – I see you are struggling to lose weight and I get it, I have been in that position, I feel your pain. But help is just two weeks away. On 9/19, my brother and his wife and kids will join your cruise ship and he has been telling me about you and I am sending help with him. John, what does your body actually need to lose every excessive pound you have at the moment?

1) Lower appetite
2) Better metabolism
3) Ability to burn fat cells with the aim of transforming them into pure energy.

Our new formula will ensure all those points for you on condition that you take the product I am sending you a sample of regularly. Please once you get these free samples call me so we can discuss your future. Obesity kills. Stop it, John, before it stops you!

John says:
Hello Derek Guidry

Thank you so much for thinking of me, that is very kind. I will though graciously say no to your offer as I am working hard to lose the weight through simple diet and lots of gym time. I agree with you that I need to work harder and I will but without the use of any substances I am afraid. Please do let your brother know I look forward to welcoming him here for what I know will be a great cruise and I hope we see you here soon. Best wishes.


Eugene Goings asks:
John, what type of room do you stay in on the ships? (O/V, inside or what?).  Thank you.

John says:
Hello Eugene Goings

On this ship I am very lucky to have a balcony cabin with a small office as well as the bedroom and bathroom. Sprit-class ships like Carnival Miracle is the only class where cruise directors have this sort of arrangement and I enjoy it very much. Thanks for asking and please let me k now if you need anything. Best wishes.


Gary Sarmiento asks:
I cruised on Carnival Sensation and found the passengers to be much less travelled than my cruise on the Oasis of the Seas. There have been comments on Cruise Critic that Carnival is purposely downgrading its product to attract people who have never cruised before and certainly the type of passenger I saw shows that to be true. Is this really where Carnival wants to go attracting people LIKE THAT?

John says:
Hello Gary Sarmiento

I am not sure I totally understand what you’re saying Gary. Certainly, the affordability of a short cruise on Carnival Sensation will have attracted people who have never cruised before and that is absolutely one of our targets and I think I would say that every cruise line would say the same. But are we downgrading our product? No, absolutely not and in fact we are spending millions of dollars on upgrading many of our existing fleet. I am still not sure what you mean when you say “people like that” but hopefully this has helped answer your questions.  I hope you had fun on the cruise and that we see you again soon. Best wishes.


Dominic & Frances Cangelosi ask:
Hi John: If you were here, we would both hug you.  We sailed on the Carnival Dream June 22 celebrating our 50th anniversary and it was MAGNIFICENT.  Thanks for getting us reservations at The Chef’s Table.  Chef Allan was such a gracious host and the food and experience was wonderful.  Frances is platinum and I am gold heading to platinum.  Frances and two of her lady

friends have reservations on the Carnival Dream for the August 10 sailing. They used to go to the beach every year but lately it’s been cruising with Carnival out of New Orleans since we live in Baton Rouge.  That’s why Frances is platinum.  We totally agree with your comments about the Carnival employees. They are all the best in the world.  We’ve sailed on other cruise ships but Carnival is the best by far. Our waiter, Elder, was the best we’ve ever had. Keep up the good work and, thanks again for our wonderful Chef’s Table experience. We love your blog. We will be back on Carnival soon, if the Good Lord is willing.

John says:
Hello Dominic & Frances Cangelosi

Well, that was a joy to read and thank you so very much for posting it. I know Chef Allan very well and he is indeed a wonderful chef and a great host. Thank you also for mentioning the crew, they do work so hard and are so dedicated to giving our guests the best of times and it is an honour to be working with them. I hope we see you again very soon and if there is anything I can do for you please let me know. Best wishes.


Lynnette Howard asks:
Just off the Carnival Freedom where in the same area of the main dining hall I was with was a lady with her pet dog that was with her every meal. Our waiter said it was a service dog but I know for a fact that it was a pet because I have the same breed of dog and know exactly how the Löwchen breed behaves and he was no service dog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Does Carnival check the proper paperwork – obviously not, I think? The issue is does Carnival check that a dog is trained to mitigate an ADA-covered disability. That’s how service dogs are defined. This is civil rights not entitlement legislation. My sources tell me that 90% of the service dogs that go on Carnival are PETS.  Seeing this woman with the same dog I have and because of how much I missed my dog ruined my cruise and I have doubts I will come back to Carnival

John says:
Hello Lynette Howard

Thank you for writing to me and I can see that you are frustrated by this and that saddens me. I hope that this really did not “ruin your cruise” and that as you look back you can think of all the fun you actually did have. I meet many guests during my time on board that rely on these amazing animals and I actually wrote about one in my blog a few months ago. They truly are life savers and all I can do is say that the paper work required to bring a service animal on board is looked and checked extremely carefully. I hope that you are able to sail with us again and I am here if you need anything. Best wishes.


Bettye Evans asks:
It has taken 60-plus years to get eight of us Lady Cousins together. I just can’t wait until Sept. 6 in New Orleans as we step aboard Carnival Elation. We are from Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. My last Carnival Cruise was on Carnival Valor. LOVED IT!!! Now for my comment!















John says:
Hello Bettye Evans

Wonderful! What a wonderful verse and I think it shows off just how excited you are to be sailing soon on Carnival Elation. Please would you be so kind as to remind me via my page two days before you sail and give me your cabin number. Thanks so much and I wish you all the best of times together and loads of fun. Best wishes to you all.


Kia Bowkett asks:
Will Carnival stop selling cigarettes in the ships now the new ban has come online? I hope so. If just some of the millions of smokers in America smoked e-cigarettes instead of tobacco, we could save up to 10 million deaths. Why would anyone argue with that?

John says:
Hello Kia Bowkett

Interesting statistic that and I am not sure where you got it from but it is fascinating to read. We are still looking at our rules regarding vaping and e-cigarettes and I will let you know if and when make any decisions. Thanks for taking the time to write and we will continue to sell cigarettes ion the on board shops. Best wishes.


Melissa Lohman asks:
Hi John: Just a quick question for you. I’m confused. My boyfriend and I are sailing on the Carnival Pride in May 2015 out of Baltimore. I was told it was going to be dry docked for them to do upgrades on the ship. Is this true?  If you could give me any info I would be most thankful. Thanks for your time.


John says:
Hello Melissa Lohman

The ship will be in dry dock from October 19-November 9. This means when you sail she will have all her exciting Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades and that means the fun is going to be extreme. Have a great time and please let me know if you need anything. Best wishes.


Derek & Vanessa Childers ask:
What’s taking so long getting the cruise director postings out for the end of the year? Royal Caribbean and Norwegian have theirs on line already so again Carnival is playing catch up. We are trying to decide if to book on the Carnival Breeze or Carnival Glory and it will depend on who the cruise director is as we don’t want ______ again. Why so long, Heald??

Derek & Vanessa Childers

John says:
Hello Derek & Vanessa Childers

I am sorry that I have not posted the schedule past September yet but hopefully in the next few days I will do so. There are some last-minute changes due to illness, a family tragedy and the introduction of our new entertainment director position. But I will have it posted very soon. By the way, I had no idea other lines did post their CD schedule and thanks for letting me know they do. Also, as you can see I deleted the part about the CD. I can understand when someone does not like their entertainment style or ability as a cruise director but to base your opinion on what you said was not worthy of print I am afraid. The CD schedule is below and I hope you enjoy who you will have entertaining you.  Have a great cruise. Best wishes.


Venice asks:
Are there any plans to allow reservations to the MDR for Your Time Dining?  The ability to confirm when, where, at what table size, and with whom to dine can be useful at times.

John says:
Hello Venice

Not at the moment and honestly with the program getting more and more popular I do not see us doing this any time soon. Please do let me know if you have any other questions though. Best wishes.


And that’s all for today. Thanks everyone for your comments and questions.

OK, here finally is the cruise director and entertainment director schedule for the rest of 2014 and the start of 2015.

CD Schedule UPDATED 8-6-14

So there have been changes with lots of new names and the addition of the entertainment director position. We said goodbye to Risa Barnes and then Noonan, Butch and James Charlton are working on special projects in the Miami office. The position of ED has allowed for some new names to be given a chance and I am sure you will enjoy their work and that they continue to make your cruise even more fun. So, thanks to you for all the support you give the cruise directors and thanks to them for the fun they put into your cruise. I will finish this segment by saying as I always do when I post the schedule that I continue to believe fervently that a good cruise director truly can make such a difference to your cruise. I will feature some bios of the new cruise directors in the weeks ahead here on the blog and let’s start with the man who has been given the job of entertaining the guests of the Carnival Legend as she makes her way across the Pacific to the land down under that is Australia, Mr. Eli Sharplin

DT0A3894 (2)  DT0A3619

What’s your name and where are you from? Eli Sharplin from Auckland New Zealand

Tell us about your work experience and your journey with Carnival Cruise Lines so far?
I started with CCL in 2001 and have traveled to so many amazing places and met and worked with thousands of incredible people from all over the planet. I started as a social host and have covered as both a backstage manager and also a dancer. I was made an ACD on the Carnival Spirit and have had the honor of installing the SportSquare on Carnival Magic and Carnival Breeze as the company’s first sports director. I started as cruise director on Carnival Splendor out of NY in December of 2013. I am now on the Carnival Legend and looking forward to the journey ahead.

How do you feel you, as cruise director can influence the guest experience in a positive way? I have always prided myself in being the same person on stage as I am off of it. I have a pretty sharp sense of humor and enjoy sharing it with those who want to listen. I enjoy everything that life has to offer and am certainly a “jack of all trades.”  I get out of bed every morning with a smile on my face. I believe that laughter keeps you young and I love sharing that philosophy.

What’s your favorite part of your job?  Making people laugh.

What do you find the biggest challenge?  Getting enough sleep.

If there is one event, show or activity that you host that our guests must not miss, what is it?? Old McDonald had a farm – Eli Eli Oh

Please share with us your favorite story from your time on our ships?  There has been so many….. In 2013, the Carnival Spirit cruised in to Auckland New Zealand and I got to bring my family including my 94-year-old grandmother on board to see the ship. Every time I turn on my phone I see my screen saver, a photo of my Nan in her wheelchair at the helm, with her hands on the wheel. Priceless.

And now – about you: Well, I was born and raised in New Zealand. I grew up enjoying the outdoors and spend my time in NZ fishing, hunting, diving and making the most of one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I have always enjoyed doing many different things with my time and I will always say yes to experiencing something new. I studied architecture and design, along with food and nutrition, in college and had my own landscape company for 10 years. I also enjoyed tree surgery, music, theatre, film and television and taught dance for twelve years. For the last eight years I have had a business teaching visual arts in schools in NZ which is something I enjoy when I am home. I teach drawing classes on board ships and would like one day, to tour and teach some schools in the USA. I started studying osteopathy and massage several years ago and I also enjoy fixing houses in my spare time. Like I said, I enjoy it all.

Favorite Movie?  Saving Private Ryan

Favorite bar or lounge on one of our ships? Punchliner Comedy Club

How do you relax?  Sleep… and if I have time, a movie. During which I tend to fall asleep.

And if you could meet any famous person in the world, who would it be? Richard Branson.
I would have loved to have spent some time with the late Sir Edmond Hillary.

Thanks mate. I know Eli well and he will be a huge asset to the long voyage to Australia. I am very proud of him and wish him all the best…………..if you sail with him please demand he puts on the “crocodile hunter shorts.”

And here is that incredible trans-Pacific cruise Eli and the Carnival Legend guests will be experiencing together

Aug 30, 2014 (Sat)        Long Beach                                      9 AM               8 PM
Aug 31, 2014 (Sun)       At Sea
Sep 01, 2014 (Mon)       At Sea
Sep 02, 2014 (Tue)        Puerto Vallarta, Mexico                   8 AM               8 PM
Sep 03, 2014 (Wed)       At Sea
Sep 04, 2014 (Thu)          At Sea
Sep 05, 2014 (Fri)            At Sea
Sep 06, 2014 (Sat)         At Sea
Sep 07, 2014 (Sun)        At Sea
Sep 08, 2014 (Mon)       At Sea
Sep 09, 2014 (Tue)        At Sea
Sep 10, 2014 (Wed)       Papeete (Tahiti), Polynesia      8 AM               6 PM
Sep 11, 2014 (Thu)        Moorea, Polynesia                8 AM               5 PM
Sep 12, 2014 (Fri)            Bora Bora, Polynesia         7 AM               4 PM
Sep 13, 2014 (Sat)         At Sea
Sep 14, 2014 (Sun)        At Sea
Sep 16, 2014 (Tue)        Cross the International Date Line
Sep 17, 2014 (Wed)       Suva, Fiji Islands               8 AM               4 PM
Sep 18, 2014 (Thu)        At Sea
Sep 19, 2014 (Fri)         Noumea, New Caledonia       9 AM               5 PM
Sep 20, 2014 (Sat)         At Sea
Sep 21, 2014 (Sun)          At Sea
Sep 22, 2014 (Mon)        Sydney, Australia             6:30 AM

What a fantastic voyage.

OK, let’s talk about me. As you can see there has been a change to my schedule and I will now fly home on September 10. I know that I am letting a heck of a lot of people down here and for that I sincerely and honestly apologise. I have not seen Heidi, Kye or my Mum for six months and words are impossible to find to describe how much I miss them. On September 14 my Mum needs me. I cannot say why at the moment but I cannot and will not let her go through what has to happen without me by her side, I really do hope you understand. This has been a wonderful contract and I love Alaska but family has to come first because for the last few months…… has not. Thanks to you all for your understanding

I will fly have three weeks at home then to Las Vegas (my first ever time there) on October 1 for a conference to speak about audience engagement and social media and then on October 3 fly to Miami. I will be there to shoot some video and to meet with the beards about Bloggers Cruise 8 on Carnival Breeze and then home again on October 17. I will have a brief break off social media but any requests you have will be honoured as always.

Thank you all for your support and friendship. Last week on Facebook I spoke about the “x” at the end of e mails from people you hardly know and how some men (my Italian officer friends mostly) like to kiss me. But there is an extension to that. Is it me or has every man under the age of 40 has decided that the handshake is no longer acceptable? Everywhere I look male guests now form their hands into a fist and touch knuckles with one another while saying “What is up my dog” or something like that.

But it’s not just the younger generation doing it, oh no. Each and every cruise I meet men who have been reading my blog and Facebook page who feel that shaking my hand is simply not enough. This is OK if you are expecting it because I can lean back but if it comes out of the blue and a guest suddenly seems me and grabs me in his arms I end up for a few moments experiencing the guest rubbing up against me……and that’s not what I signed up for 27 years ago.

But this cruise there was one far worse and yes Nathan, I am talking about you. This Facebook and blog reader from Texas saw me at the Captain’s Celebration, took me in his arms and kissed me on the cheek just because I sent him a bloody ship on a bloody stick and a bit of fruit. I saw him a few times during the cruise and each time I do I run away. Thank God I didn’t send him champagne as well; I am not sure what he would have done. So please, when we meet on a cruise gents can we just go back to the handshake. It’s simple, it says, “Hello friend, please to meet you” and, there’s no contact between each other’s dangly bits.

Your friend,

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TIPS ON BEING A DEEJAY Fri, 01 Aug 2014 20:39:29 +0000 Continue reading ]]> One of the hardest jobs on the ship, as far as pleasing you, our guests, is that of the disc jockey – or DJ – to give them their MTV-style title. To many, they stand behind a record player or, these days, something with a picture of an Apple on it, wear ludicrously large headphones with one side on the ear and the other not, nodding their head to the beat while “mixing” the latest tunes.  Top DJs like Dutchman Arnie Van Something and The Miami Heat’s own DJ Irie are not just DJ’s, they are stars and people pay lots of money to hire them and they, in turn, get lots of money and lashings of rumpy pumpy. DJ Irie is the professor of cool, master of his trade and, despite, I am sure, shoving a cucumber down the front of his pants before each gig ……..Irie is one of the very best DJs – not to mention one of the nicest guys – around.  That’s why we went to him to train our DJ’s and he has done a brilliant job in doing so, but, I still say that our ship DJs have one of the toughest jobs on the ship trying to make everyone happy. We have a brilliant young lady here called DJ Electra, strange name for her Mum to christen her but I guess moments after giving birth, Mum realised her daughter was destined to spin the discs, so that’s what she called her. She is wonderful and, as I said, she has a very tough job.

Now some of you may be sitting behind your computers or holding your eyepads saying, “What does this fat bastard know about it?” And you would be right. My knowledge and understanding of today’s music and club scene is consistent with someone from Paris having knowledge and understanding of what the inside of a Bath & Body Works shop looks like. And I will talk more about this shortly but, first, back to the DJs.

It’s different from the DJs here on the ships than a club DJ. Let me explain. Yes, the principles are the same but the difference between being a club DJ and a ship DJ is this. If you go out on a Saturday night to a club with some hip name, then you already know what kind of music the DJ is going to play. You will be expecting the latest dance hop hip rap bass ga ga rap rave. You will not expect or request that after the DJ has played the latest Jay Dogg Trousersnake song to hear AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” followed by the Electric Sodding Wobble Slide. But that’s what the DJs on our ships are expected to do. You see, the demographic in a club on land is that the girls are all young, wearing short skirts with boy band good-looking young men with manscaped chests and dangly bits. On a ship, we have all age groups and all demographics and that means some want to hear the latest tunes but some want country, some want rock, some want 70’s, some want 80’s and some want thrash metal. And the DJ has to accommodate them all………….except anyone who requests Abba…………they can sod off.

Yep, it’s not easy and the complaints we get are consistent and have been in all the years I have been doing this and that is simply, “The DJ did not play the music we wanted to dance to.” So, we are adding more theme nights and trying to alleviate these comments but do I think we ever will …………….nope………….I do not.  Just like our guests, music is diverse and it is so difficult, when it comes to music, to get people dancing to please everyone.

Why am I talking about the DJ’s? Well, anyone who works with me will tell you that there is more chance of finding Donald Sterling dating Beyonce than there is finding me in the dance club. However, I was forced to go there last cruise because two of our entertainment staff members got engaged and had a gathering and I was asked “Oh, please, please come” which translated means, “Oh, please, come, John, and buy us some drinks.”

I went. I hated it. I stood there by the bar while the guests smiled at me, some came and said hello while the younger guests looked at me with a combination of pity and disgust. I spent the entire time with the expression of a man about to be sentenced to life in a Turkish prison. “I am too bloody old to enjoy this,” I thought. And then remembered that I have always felt this way about clubs. And I mean, all clubs, from the awful ones back home in Southend On Sea. Clubs like Tots and Zero Six that smelt like a bucket of vomit to the posh ones on South Beach.

I didn’t like them when I was 20 and I certainly don’t like them now. I just don’t have to pretend anymore. Nightclubs are hot and cramped and play music so loud you can’t even hear yourself or anyone else fart. I watched the 20-something guests sharing panting pelvic thrusts with someone they just met. Yes, everyone was having a great time. Even the bar staff were having fun working. Me…I just couldn’t wait to get out of there…and I realised that, at that moment, I would rather be anywhere in the world than the hell I was in now– except Paris, obviously.

After I had wished the newly engaged couple well and, yes, bought them drinks, I turned around and headed to the exit leaving the guests to gyrate themselves and each other to the sounds of the hippy hop music and for the men to stare at the female guests and the thongs that stick out of the waistband of their jeans, and went to bed…feeling really, really old. And just as my head hit the pillow, I had a brilliant idea on how to stop the, “DJ didn’t play decent music” complaints we get on every ship……….shut the nightclubs down and make them a cigar and jazz bar…………simple.

Here are today’s questions and my answers.

Kimberly Dittman asks:
Reading all the comments from others, who like me and my DH, are platinum passengers and VIPs, one of the problems is that I think the other passengers do not know the different levels. Example of this from our last cruise– we were on Carnival Conquest and had priority tendering which is part of our VIP benefits. We were escorted to the front of the line and got such dirty looks from passengers, that we almost went back to the cabin. DH held up his platinum VIP Sail & Sign card above his head to show them but it made no difference and I could hear some remarks that are not suitable here to write. My suggestion is that on the first show or sometime early each cruise, that the cruise director explain to the passengers that if they see someone with a Platinum card, they are VIPs and can come to the front of the line for tendering. Some education may stop the embarrassment DH and I felt that day.  Just saying.

John says:
Hello Kimberly Dittman

Let me thank you for your loyalty and I hope we will see you many more times. I really would feel uncomfortable starting a cruise out by defining who is who and who is a Platinum or Diamond guest. The idea at the start of as cruise is to make everyone feel like a family, all ready to have fun together and this would dilute that extremely. I do acknowledge all our Platinum and, indeed, our esteemed Diamond guests at the VIFP party, of course. And please don’t worry about what the other guests say. If they have any questions, there is a staff member there to answer their enquiries that you have earned the right to board the tender first. I do hope that helps your concerns and if you have any others, I will be here. Best wishes to you and DH.


Steve Chase asks:
John, I love the Indian food served on Carnival, and eat it as often as it is served. I also like Chinese but find the Mongolian Wok too difficult to use. I asked for Kung Pao Chicken on my last cruise, and they wanted me to tell them what the ingredients were? I faked a list of what I thought went into Kung Pao and created something inedible and wasted all that food. I don’t cook, but I can read a menu. Why doesn’t the wok have some set dishes on a menu, so patrons can enjoy the cooking without having to know how to create it? Thank you.

John says:
Hello Steve Chase

The Mongolian Wok is very popular and the secret to its success is that it is indeed cooked fresh and that the ingredients are chosen by the guests. I am afraid that the chefs work flat out to cook so fast using two woks at a time and this is not one of the places where they can go off menu. If you like Chinese, you should try a Sprit-class ship as we have the Chopsticks venues and they do a brilliant Kung Pao chicken. Let me know if you have any more questions. Best wishes.


Jeremiah Lewis asks:
Both cruises my wife and I have been on without our children had AWESOME cruise directors. Most recently on the Carnival Ecstasy in July of 2013, George led the most fun we have ever had on any vacation. When we have had our children along with us, the cruise directors have not been as active around the ship and nowhere near as much fun. We are sailing September 13 on the Carnival Sunshine. Do you know for sure who the cruise director is?  Please let George know that we think he is the best Carnival has in the cruise director department.

John says:
Hello Jeremiah Lewis

I am thrilled to tell you that you have Jaime Dee and, like George, she will have boundless energy and will be sure to give you the best of times. I will make sure George sees this and he will be thrilled. He is on the Carnival Sunshine now, actually. So have fun and enjoy every moment on this great ship. Best wishes.


Thomas Kristovich asks:
Reading your blogs where you complain about fake names and posts by trolls are getting boring, John. If you want to stop them, then take a page out of the Cruise Critic boards. They have moderators who suspend people or ban them even. Why don’t you do this???? It works on Cruise Critic and they have millions more readers than you ever will. If you do this, then the trolls will be banned. You do not have to write about them and we do not have to read the same old tired BS and we can get back to talking about cruising.

John says:
Hello Thomas Kristovich

Thank you for writing and this is a very interesting subject indeed. Let me start my answer with the last part of your question, if I may. I have no idea how many readers Cruise Critic has and how many moderators they have but I am sure they have a very busy time keeping track of who is writing what. This blog gets an average of 60,000 to 100,000 views each time I post and hundreds and hundreds of comments and questions. Facebook has, well, thousands of comments each day both on the wall and under each post. I work closely with some colleagues in Miami who help me with these two pages but they have many other jobs and so do I, so time is a factor. But it is not the most important one. In the world of online sites like this, we’re all free to say what we like, no matter how ridiculous it is. I would rather run the risk of my feelings being hurt  than have a reduction in free speech. I feel that strongly about it. There are the rare times when we press the delete button. Some messages include personal or vicious attacks on other readers but I have not banned anyone in many, many months, not even the person who wrote awful things about my daughter. Yep, Randy has the right to post again and I have the right to ignore him or tell him to bugger off– hat is free speech and that is what this page and my Facebook page are all about ……………..Oh, and cruising too. Please let me know if you have a follow up or if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.


Austin & Tiffany Plackemeier ask:
Greetings fine sir! Tiffany and I find ourselves cruising at a minimum of once a year. Lately it has been two to three times per year. Not that it is really an issue, but why does Carnival not save my passport info in my login so that I don’t have to fill it in every time? I don’t see how it would be any different than, say, PayPal or eBay keeping my credit card on file. Cheers.


John says:
Hello Austin & Tiffany Plackemeier

I am so glad you have discovered the world of cruising and I hope there are many more in your near future. The reasons we do not save all that information are because of the concerns of Internet fraud and identify theft. We have a very secure website but, these days, well, you never know. I realise that it is more work for you but it is because we want to make sure a lady called Lucinda doesn’t suddenly start calling herself Pine Bluff. Please let me know if you have any other questions and I will be here or on my page for you. Best wishes to you both.


Gloria Barracosa asks:
I read a very disturbing report today. It stated that someone had discovered a camera on the front of their cabin TV shown here in this photo. Someone suggested that people bring Post-it notes or thick tape to put over it to stop any invasion of privacy. If Carnival Cruise Lines does do this, then it is illegal for sure!! An explanation should be given immediately before I cruise again.

John says:
Hello Gloria Barracosa

Well, there is no need to worry and no need to pack Post-it notes or tape because they are not obviously cameras. The red light you see is for the interactive remote control unit for the TV. I hope that settles any worries you may have and please let me know if you have any more questions and I will be here to help you. Best wishes.


Jody Motes asks:
John: No questions for you today, just a comment. After reading some of the comments and questions the others have left you, I am shocked and astounded as to how rude people are!

My husband, myself and some friends will be cruising from New Orleans on October 5 and I couldn’t be more excited! All of our cruises so far have been amazing and I am sure this next one will be too. The staff is always top notch and make us feel cared for and pampered. So, just to be refreshing, I think Carnival is great and you are very funny and entertaining. Keep up the good work!  Oh, wait….. I do have one question after all. Are there any plans to expand Guy’s Burger Joint to the other ships? We really enjoyed it on our last cruise but will be missing it greatly on the Carnival Dream. Thanks much!


John says:
Hello Jody Motes

You know, if it was not for the soothing music of Enya, I have no idea how I would cope. Seriously, thanks for the very kind words and, certainly, there are times when deep breathing is needed but there are far happier times and one such time is reading your post. Thanks so much for taking the time to write such wonderful words and you will be glad to know we certainly have big plans to add the best burger at sea to other ships, beginning with the Carnival Pride this fall. Best wishes.


Alex Mathison asks:
Reports on Cruise Critic are that another cutback has happened and there are no more goodie baskets!!!!! Is this true?!!!! Urgent response needed!!!!

John says:
Hello Alex Mathison

I had to ask on Facebook what you meant by “goodie basket” as I had not heard the amenities we put in the cabins referred to that way. We have not stopped them, so please don’t worry. However, sometimes we do not have inventory on board for a particular product so the basket can, therefore, be a bit random. We have them here this week on the Carnival Miracle and they include anti acid tablets, toothpaste, feminine razors and some kind of hand lotion. I hope you get one on your next cruise. Oh, I read the link and saw my old mate, Pine Bluff, chipped in with a comment or two……. Please tell him I saved some feminine razor blades just for him. Please let me know if you have any other questions and thank you for allowing me to get the right answer to you. Best wishes.


Barry G asks:
My apologies, John, for writing so long after the cruise. I was on Carnival Miracle cruise with you when that last night we had a helicopter rescue by the Canadian Coast Guard. I was embarrassed for you, John, that you had to repeat the announcements not to take flash photography. It was foggy too. How can people be so dumb? John, we had an awesome time, so, please, would you thank the following people for us because we did not get a review card again. Our room steward Louie made a special towel animal for my daughter, which made her laugh so hard we were all laughing. He was amazing. We chose anytime dining– our first time with this and it was great but one waiter stood out and that was Conrado. We asked for him again and, even when he could not serve our table, he made a point of coming over and making a frog for my daughter. We had dinner at the steakhouse one night and our server was Erica. She was lovely and spoke with us in length about our day and her duties and answered all our questions with patience. And then there was Ben from your staff who made us laugh at every trivia quiz we attended. John, thank you for the trophy for my daughter and for the kind words you had for my loss and, as you lost your father recently, I know you understood my pain. You are a diamond. We had the best of times. We love Carnival Miracle and still talk about the cruise every day.

John says:
Hello Barry G

What a delightful post and one that I shall take great pride in sharing with all the people you mentioned here. We have a brilliant crew and they remain such an important part of the cruise experience. I will make sure that they get the praise they so deserve. Yes, the helicopter announcement. I was on the bridge and the embarrassing thing was the pilot having to ask a second time for the photos with flashes to stop. I hope that maybe the guests did not hear or understand my announcement rather than choosing to ignore it completely. I again send you my deepest condolences and, I understand, of course, how you are feeling. On a happier note, I hope we see you all again soon and I am here if you need anything. Best wishes to you all.


RJ from NJ asks:
John: Just completed third the Carnival cruise on Carnival Glory (July 12-19) in an OS. Once again, had a great time, but….I’m just curious on why the ship no longer caters to the late dining guests as they do the early sitters. Because we had the 8:15 seating, we missed the Welcome Aboard show (9 p.m.) on the first night and the Epic Rock show on another night – they never repeated the shows. Even though I tried changing to an early seating for the Epic Rock show, the lady at customer service said no need to, ‘cause it will be repeated later in the week to accommodate late eaters. It wasn’t!!! Every other Carnival cruise we’ve been on, they’ve always doubled up on shows, but on this cruise, they seemed to have catered to the early eaters – any reason why? We enjoy the sun too much to eat that early, that’s why we eat late, but now we are missing shows we wanted to see, including Hasbro, which was shown twice, but both times during our late dinner. My wife and I really enjoyed our time on the cruise once again, but, understandably, are a bit perturbed about getting shafted out of a few shows and will be cruising again next year and hoping the same thing doesn’t occur again. And, one more thing: the portions at dinner seem to be getting smaller, especially the apps – is that true, and why? Not as big a deal as the shows ‘cause I just double up on the apps, just curious. One thing is for certain, the productions of the shows, coupled with the Punchliner Comedy Club, are outstanding and the choreographers and performers should be commended – Broadway-like quality!!! Thanks for all you do.

RJ from NJ

John says:
Hello RJ from NJ

I have to say that I have no idea why the show is at 9 pm and I can understand your frustration because of this. I am sure there are other events after that the CD has planned and maybe it is to entice you to go to them. But I agree, 9 pm cuts our late sitting and that is not good. Let me speak with the cruise director and discuss this further. Thank you, then, for bringing it to my attention and I hope you had a great time.  Best wishes.


Lee asks:
John: Love the blog! So glad that Carnival has given you this outlet. Today, as I was doing some cleaning around the house, I rediscovered an old VHS tape with a ship’s video of the Celebration. We ordered this before our cruise in 2000. It got me to wondering as to whatever happened to the ship-specific videos. It may not be possible to produce them for distribution anymore, but could ship-specific videos be produced by Carnival and posted to Carnival’s You-Tube channel? Watching that old video had me fondly remembering our cruise on that “Fun Ship.” Thank you in advance for your reply.


John says:
Hello Lee

Thanks, mate, for the kind words. Wow, what a great memory and, yes, I do indeed remember the videos we made and we sold loads of them. But, now, as you said, we have You Tube and I think it would be great to post more specific videos from the ships. I will suggest this to the beards and see what we can do in the future as, certainly, I think others would appreciate it too. Thanks again and I hope to see you soon. Best wishes.


Jason Adams asks:
Good evening, John: I just wanted to drop a line to thank you for the hours of entertainment you provide us on your blog and Facebook. I would like to commend you on how you handle some of the “people” you deal with and the things they complain about. As I just sat and read the recent post about “Ship Life,” you discussed the crew members that make our trip so unforgettable and the “people” they have to put up with (and I know the majority of your guest are not like some) and do so with a smile every time (without fail, in my experience) to take care of US. My family and I will be on Carnival Dream in March 2015 and will be celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary and will be sure to show the staff that will be catering to our needs that we appreciate them. I hope to get to cruise with you one day as I would like to sit down and chew the fat with you. Have a GREAT day and I wish you fair winds on all your travels.

John says:
Hello Jason Adams

Thank you for writing about the crew. I have watched this company go through the best of times and through challenging times as well and one constant has been the dedication and brilliant friendly service of the crew. Thank you for recognising them, have a wonderful time on your anniversary cruise and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.


That’s all for today. I will be back with more Q and A soon.

I just got back from having lunch on Lido Deck and more about that in a moment. I know we don’t have Guy’s burgers and all the trimmings yet but the food choices here are superb and the Chopsticks place does a wonderful stir fry, they really do. It was though in my thoughts that Heidi, Kye and I had just given our yearly donation to the Save the Children organisation to feed children across Africa and other parts of the world that there was so much noticeable wasted food. I hate waste and I was brought up to eat whatever is on my plate and, if I didn’t, my Mum and Dad would say that, “Children in China would be sent to my house to eat it for me.” Today, I saw the staff cleaning up so many discarded plates that had huge piles of uneaten food, untouched slices of pizza and various other plates brimming with food that we can’t do anything with……except discard it all. And that is such a shame, isn’t it?

Anyway, back to my lunch today. I went with my friend and ACD and soon-to-be cruise director of the Carnival Magic, Calvyn Shawn Champagne-Martens, and we took a booth at the back of the Lido Deck. I say booth only because, in past weeks, my diet has allowed me to do this without my beach ball stomach being squeezed against the table. We were eating and talking about the usual things Calvyn likes to talk about– the art of pressing wild flowers, Cher and various other subjects, and, without warning a guest plopped herself into the seat next to me and her husband next to Calvyn. She said a quick hello and then started to talk about our previous day’s voyage through Tracy Arm Fjord and how our naturalist had gotten some of her facts wrong about how a glacier is formed. You might think you know a bore. You may once have sat next to one on a long flight. You’ve probably watched one of one of my travel talks or watched paint dry. You may even have been forced as a child to read Shakespeare. But trust me on this: you do not understand the true meaning of boredom until you’ve had lunch with a glacier/Alaska fanatic. You may like glaciers but this lady loved them like she was married to the damn things and I am sure, given the chance, she would have rumpy pumpy (by herself) on top of one and, when she passes away, will want her ashes scattered on top of a glacier.

I waited for her to pause or ask a question before I carried on eating my chicken stir fry because I thought that would be rude of me but she never once paused long enough for me to be able to say, “Well, nice talking to you, I am going to eat my lunch.” After 10 minutes, I began to feel truly annoyed. I wanted to stab her with my fork for turning my valuable lunch time break into a lecture on glaciers……but I couldn’t because I felt all tired and drowsy………….. I had been hypnotized by glacier lady!

It’s my job to talk to guests and I enjoy that part of the job, second only to the time I get on stage. But this was different. I was trapped and there was sod all I could do about it. I guess it was the way she sat down without even the slightest worry or concern that she was disturbing me while I was eating. To her, I had a huge sign around my neck that said, “Please come and annoy me and tell me about lumpsof ice.” And the fact that she did was weird and what was even stranger was that during the whole time she was talking to me…….her husband sat next to Calvyn and did not say a word. She never referenced him, he never mentioned her and he never moved. He just sat there, waiting. Maybe he was used to her doing this or maybe he had died. My chicken stir fry was as cold as a sodding glacier by the time she got up and left and joined the rest of the wasted food and I went back to my cabin, locked the door, closed the curtains, put on some Enya and banged my head gently against the wall over and over again.

So let’s talk about something else, shall we, apart from glaciers……..I know………smoking. Hold on, before you reach for your Enya CD and the Prozac, let me be more specific. You see, on the same day we announced the new smoking regulations, we also announced the new gratuity amounts but I have seen so few comments about that I think Captain Hook could count them on one hand.

Having been a bar waiter for Carnival, I understand the mentality of tipping and how important it is and so I am probably one of the most generous tippers there is. That’s not a, “Hey, look at me and how good I am” statement. It’s just a fact. I enjoy tipping and, having been on the receiving end of working my then skinny arse off and getting bugger all for it, I always take care of those who take care of me.

I remember once when I stayed in a posh hotel in New York when we announced Carnival LIVE and the concert with Jennifer Hudson. The marketing beards had put me on the red eye which meant I had arrived at the boutique hotel very late. The concierge-type person insisted on carrying my suitcase on a trolley even though it was small, had wheels and I could have easily managed it. He showed me into my room. He showed me how to turn on a light and how to open the door to the mini bar and then started to hover. I had been in such a rush that I hadn’t picked up any American currency and had used my credit card to pay for the taxi from JFK to the hotel. I was now in the embarrassing position of trying to explain that I didn’t have a single dollar to offer as a tip. “Nothing?” said the concierge-type person. “I’m sorry,” I said in my best Hugh Grant impression and offered to leave something for him at the front desk in the morning. He said something under his breath that definitely wasn’t “sleep well” but probably included the words “fat” and “bastard.”

Anyway, I digress yet again. So for those who may have missed the new amounts because of the haze of smoking comments, here they are;

Voyages departing October 9, 2014, onward; the total amount is $12.00 per guest, per day and the breakdown is as follows:
• Stateroom service team                 $3.90 per day
• Dining room service team              $6.10 per day
• Alternative services team*             $2.00 per day
(*galley, entertainment, guest services and other hotel staff members)

Well, it has been about three years since our last increase and I can talk about how it’s in line with other cruise lines, etc., but I won’t. What I will say is that I hope you all think that our crew deserves this raise. Obviously, you can always adjust the rate up or down if you’d like. Gratuities have to be earned and should not be expected by any of our crew but I hope that if they provide you with professional service mixed with a huge dollop of fun, you will continue to reward them as you always have done. Through the best of times and through challenging times, our Carnival crew have continued to be the heartbeat of our ships and I thank you all for the rewards that you have given and I hope will continue to give them. On their behalf, I say………..”thank you.”

Your friend,

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