John Heald's Blog Tue, 18 Aug 2015 21:54:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Can You Enjoy A Steak In Jeans? Tue, 18 Aug 2015 21:54:42 +0000 Continue reading ]]> So here I am back home again after two weeks of meetings with the beards and some very funny videos that we will have for you soon……at least I think they’re funny. I hope you will do, too. Kye is still on her summer holidays and I have been reading the newsletter (sent in an e-mail obviously) from her school listing the lessons she will be enjoying this fall term now she is six years old. Math, English, art, sports, sex education, music……..hold on ………. what?!… education?! Yep, it’s true. I read it again and there it was in black and sodding white……..this year, they teach my daughter “a basic understanding” of where babies come from and learn “the correct names for parts of the body.” Oh, FFS!……… ridiculous. Look, I know I am old fashioned but this is outrageous.

When I was six, I had just learnt to poo in the toilet rather than my underpants. How do the teachers do this, anyway? Do they all have to undress Ken and Barbie dolls or maybe this will be explained by a character the kids are comfortable with. My Little Pony and the Adventures in the Enchanted Lady Garden. I don’t actually remember sitting through any kind of rumpy pumpy education when I was at school. The closest thing was a biology lesson on rabbit reproduction when we were about 14. The class was taught by “Miss Evans” who had breasts like the Alps…..and we honestly didn’t care about the sodding rabbits when she was teaching a class. No way am I letting a teacher do this……..nope…….I am going to teach Kye myself. Where do babies come from……..well, Kye, they come from three minutes of exercise when Daddy used to, but not anymore, do push-ups on top of Mummy…….and then a baby will pop out of mummy’s tummy…….and that’s where babies come from……unless you are Madonna or Angelina Jolie ……. in which case they come by mail order.


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


Aimee asks:

Can you share the most recent schedule for rolling out the American Table menus? I had been hoping to enjoy the new menus on Carnival Dream in October, but I heard that Carnival Dream might not be getting them this year anymore.

John says:

Hello Aimee

Yes that is right. We just added Carnival Triumph and soon after will be Carnival Pride. We’ll have to check on Carnival Dream and other ships as I’m only aware of Carnival Triumph and Carnival Pride. If and when that changes, I will let you know. Hope you have a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.


Patty asks:

Hi: I messaged you about two weeks ago but I’m not sure if you got the message. If so, sorry for messaging twice. I lost a baby seven years ago and have my baby’s ashes with us. I would like to know if Carnival will let us take my baby’s ashes on board and release them into the ocean and if they do a small ceremony for just my family. Thank you and hope to hear from you soon.

John says:

Hello Patty

I am so very sorry I missed this one earlier and my deepest and most sincere sympathy goes out to you and your family. I would be honoured to help you and please do write to me with the details here or on my page two days before the cruise. Include your cabin number and I will make sure I arrange everything for you. Thank you and my thoughts are with you.


BSB asks:

You seem to mention people you have blocked from the website a lot here…you can dish it out but not take it in?? Interesting.

John says:

Hello BSB

I have, I think, become massively thick skinned to the occasional comment about me that in past years may have had me frothing at the mouth. I have blocked people and it is only a handful, not because of what they have said about me, I truly could not care less but more what they have said about people I work with as they did with my past assistant Emma and last week about my new assistant Jacinta. These “people” who all gather like beetles around a pile of yak poo on another site called Friendly Cruise C…..well, never mind, and then come to my pages do deserve to be banned. Say what you like about me, give me constructive criticism about this great cruise line, fine, but to say what they did about these two hard-working ladies was beyond disgusting so yep……I banned them. I hope that explains my decision. It would be nice if like every other question I have answered here today, you used your real name and not a screen name, it certainly would have given your post more credibility. Best wishes.


Terry Pippen asks:

Hi John: Hope you can pass on some feedback on The Chef’s Table experience. We did our first Chef’s Table on Carnival Magic. We are simple folk from Texas. I think the whole table was from Texas. All of us enjoyed the servers and the free wine but the food was far too fussy. Change up the menu for us Texans, give us wholesome home cooked food. Rest of the cruise was a delight.

John says:

Hello Terry Pippen

I am so glad you found the cruise so much fun and, yes, of course, I will be glad to pass on your comments on The Chef’s table. I must say that the whole idea of the experience there is to try adventurous foods that maybe you have not experienced before and, to dilute it to menu items that are more every day would, I think, be a mistake. The table sells out every cruise on most of our ships so we seem to have found something that so many enjoy. But like everything else, it is never going to be liked by everyone, such is the spice of life. I do hope we see you again soon and thanks so much for taking the time to write. Best wishes.


Sharon Hewitt and Tom Adams asks:

There are many people to thank for making our B2B cruise on Carnival Sunshine in May 2015 such a rewarding one. It was a wonderful family cruise for us enabled by the excellent professional and personalized touches by the staff and events that all made our trip more memorable. We will be exploring a Carnival ship, new to our cruising experience, on June 13 when we begin our next adventure aboard the Carnival Conquest for eight days. We will be celebrating my birthday and our anniversary. It is exciting to celebrate with our extended family, the Fun Ship’s crew and staff. Now to extend personal Kudos… all at CCL:

Lorelei Westberry: Our CCL PVP who is a pleasure to work with when planning our next adventures. Could not do it without you! Entertainment Staff/Cruise Director Jaime Dee: We are huge fans of this young woman and my daughter Ashley was impressed with her many skills She challenged Jaime to a Split Throwdown (attached pic). First saw J.D on Carnival Dream in 2013. From the Sailaway Party and then throughout the ship, Jaime is an inspiration to many and is a key figure in our enjoyment of each cruise spent in her company. Our cruise journeys will continue and made better each time with new vistas of cruising with her at the helm as cruise director. Darnell Brown: Kudos to him. He is a great part of your CD led events like the VIFP Parties and atrium parties. Brittany Boyd: You have put together a wonderful array of talent. We enjoyed many venues of entertainment throughout the two weeks and look forward to more in the future! The dancers/singers were outstanding in the five shows we attended. They have really come together as a well-choreographed and talented group since we were on board in February. They did a wonderful job of including the guests during and after the performances. I have not experienced such a display of energy in many years cruising on a variety of CCL ships. (Well, Lady Antebellum did rock the Carnival Breeze last November…so there was that!) Guest Services: Our trip would not have had the positive outcome it did without the assistance of members of the staff like Guest Services Associate Thelma Rustia, led by a wonderful, professional, caring, and proactive CCL manager Ana Maria Dumitru. Ana went beyond the call of duty as she worked to solve our stateroom concerns and assist with how the changes affected family members who were boarding during the second week of our stay. Our trip would not have been as successful and comfortable without her and her team. (see attached pic) Hotel Director: George Nelson. Thank you and we welcome you to the Sunshine! Global Casino Staff, Executive Casino Hosts and Premier Casino Hosts: Hope to see you sooner than later! Carlos, Lili, Gabi, Zanele, Troy, Martin and several others. I miss not being on board the most recent cruises and look forward to booking other offers soon so I can plan our cruise vacations for the rest of 2015 and the new year of 2016. I wanted you all to know in casino management your Sunshine casino team has been doing a wonderful job improving the casino areas. It is much more comfortable with an improved layout, much easier for every guest and staff member to navigate, especially those of us that are mobility challenged. I saw some work on ventilation which helps with making all guests more comfortable and a little bit cooler. Sunshine Casino Staff/Casino Hosts: Your efforts were so very much appreciated. Your welcome and care throughout our two week voyage was most kind. My children were glad to finally meet the people who take such good care of their parents Fashionista Filipe Duarte: Looking forward to seeing more of you young man! First Class! Angelic Inviting Inna Korol, our unique Ukranian. So very nice to welcome you to the Sunshine! Slot Manager: Ovidiu Unchesel. So glad you are Carnival Sunshine’s gain and a loss for the Carnival Breeze. You are very kind. Slot Attendants: Carina,Nina C. Sánchez and Dinu Florentina my lovely adopted daughters. I will miss you both! Drink Servers: Franco, Iketut Winaya, Where’s my Hurricane Wave? Bartenders: AnnaMaria Nagy, you are a doll! Saowaluck Clalay, Maria Oktavian, Irine Indriani, Lenny Luis, Larry Hilario, Rustam Alfiandi, Main Dining Room Sunrise: Maitre d’ Shane. Thanks for your diligence and attention to our needs and then the needs of our family of six during the second week. You are a breath of fresh air leading a fine staff. We really enjoyed chatting with you. Huge Salamat to all MDR staff especially Head Waiter MARIO Tellez Team Waiter Marsel Asst. Team Waiter Anson Sequeira Head Waiter …Alexander Team Waiters…Edwald Asst: Waiter…Win Zan Brunch was again very much improved in terms of wait time, service and food quality Specialty Dining: JiJi Servers Nian and Hing Kina from India

Cucina del Capitano: Matea. Lovely young woman.

Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse: Chef Jeffrey. Thank you for a delicious and wonderful family meal! My children and dates were impressed!

Madalina Covas and Nicoleta: wonderful service with smiles! Stateroom Stewards: Prompen Somruedee, Jebson Padma

Asst Stateroom Stewardess: Karolina

Thank you for being attentive to all of our needs. Dear Carnival Sunshine HVAC technicians please continue to work on improving the air conditioning for this old gal…I continue to be a puddle of global warming! Pretty Please! My sincerest apologies for anyone that I have neglected to mention. Please know it is not meant as a slight, just an oversight! I am also sad that many of you will not be on the Sunshine when we sail for 21 days in November and December for B2B Carnival Journeys. But I wish you all the very best and hope we cross paths again on another Fun Ship!

Kindest Regards, Sharon Hewitt and Tom Adams

John says:

Hello Sharon Hewitt and Tom Adams

That has to be one of the most comprehensive and superbly written reviews I have read and what a brilliant advert for the ship it is too. I will make sure that every single person you have mentioned sees your words of praise and your suggestions and each and every one of them will be thrilled. I do hope we will see you again very soon and I remain here at your service and with a big sunshine smile on my face after reading this. Best wishes.


Alicia Marquez asks:

Hello John, I had a question reference table size in the MDR on the Carnival Imagination.  We will be cruising in Feb and there are approximately 11 of us cruising together.  Are there tables in the MDR that can sit 11?  I just don’t want one couple feeling left out of the group.  On this cruise I booked two cabins as two of our daughters are in their own cabin and whatever happens it’s imperative that our daughters sit with us at dinner.  Thank you for your time.

John says:

Hello Alicia Marquez

Well, the biggest table is actually for 10 but we can fit 11 if you don’t mind squeezing in a little. If you wish me to organise that, please do send me a note three days before the cruise with the linked booking numbers or all the cabin numbers and I will do all I can for you. Please send me this to my page. I wish you all a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.


Alicia Sandhei asks:

This has been bugging me for a while. On our last cruise (Carnival Liberty), we were made to stand in tight rows for a LONG time for the muster before things even got started. I am somewhat claustrophobic and this is hugely uncomfortable to me. But my complaint is that I was carrying my phone to send a few last minute texts and the staff kept telling me to stop. Which I will HAPPILY do. As soon as they start talking, about anything in any way. I am not saying the drill is not important (that is another subject and I realize not in Carnivals hands) but to just stand, close to other people sweating and miserable and not even be able to distract myself. Sorry, for the first time in my 56 years, I knowingly broke the rules and stepped behind my husband to continue to read my phone. I carefully put it in my pocket when something ACTUALLY started. Please can we do what we can to make things as easy on folks as can be? And how come on the Dream I got to sit in a comfortable dining room rather than crowded like sardines on the Liberty

John says:

Hello Alicia Sandhei

I am very thankful to you for raising this subject and I understand that sometimes it can be hot and sticky standing at your muster station. But the simple fact as well as this being maritime law, is that we hold this drill for 20 minutes or so and it can truly could save your life — it really is that simple. And when the announcements are being made and when instruction on how to wear the life jacket is being demonstrated by the crew, we need your total attention. Again, sorry it was so uncomfortable for you and I do hope this reply helps you better understand. Thanks so much, hope we see you soon. Best wishes.


Allan Tew asks:

Hi John. This is the second email to you and the fifth attempt to get an answer from Carnival. I am booked on Carnival Vista October 11, 2016. This will be my Diamond cruise. My question is: what can I expect for a “one time” cabin upgrade. I am currently in balcony 11270 and no one at Carnival is able to tell me what I can expect.   Can you please help?

John says:

Hello Allan Tew

Thanks so much for your loyalty and many congratulations on reaching Diamond status. In answer to your question you can’t use the one time upgrade benefit until after you become Diamond. If you want to use it on that sailing, please do contact the Diamond desk directly to see if this is possible. It is a meta category upgrade meaning inside to outside, outside to balcony but I am not sure it they do balcony to suite. Let me check and ask a colleague to contact you. I do hope that is OK and I hope you have a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.


Amy Clayton asks:

Hi John: We will be on Carnival Sunshine on Oct. 10-18 and are trying to figure out which nights will be formal nights so we can make reservations for the steakhouse. Also, do you know if Jaime will still be the cruise director then? We have read many great reviews and are hoping to have her as our cruise director. On a recent cruise we had Karl with a K as our director and loved him too but have had a few that didn’t really interact with the guest like others from past cruises. We are excited and looking forward to cruising as a family of three leaving baby home since he can’t play in the pools along with four of our closest friends.

John says:

Hello Amy Clayton

The elegant nights will be held on the 11th (sea day) and the 15th after sailing from San Juan. Jaime is back as CD and, no doubt, like everyone else, you will truly enjoy her. Please do let me know here or on my page if there is anything at all I can do for you and I am sure you will have the best of times. Best wishes.


Marleen Kollenbeck asks:

I read your suggestion about letting a special needs kid on the Serenity adult deck and do so shaking my head at your sickly bleeding heart hypocrisy. You see, dear, a rule is a rule. It doesn’t matter how much or how little it impinges on others. It is there for a reason. Cerebral palsy, military, gold medal winner at the frigging Olympics. It does not matter. Under 21 – get out. That is the rule and the rule should be applied. Nothing else to say is there, dear!?

John says:

Hello Marleen Kollenbeck

You are right, rules are rules but there are times when our rules need to be flexible when special occasions arise. The request from the mother to have her child with cerebral palsy next to her on Serenity deck was one of those moments where we have to at least consider relaxing the rules which, of course, is our right to do. In this case, I have left it to the hotel director on the ship to decide with my recommendation that he does allow the child to be there. Thanks for calling me “dear” – that was very sweet of you, darling. Best wishes.


Amy Kobernick asks:

Hey John: Good morning. I just wanted to take the time to personally email you and THANK YOU for all you do. This morning, I am thrilled about the new club for the 18-20 age group. I had emailed you about needing something like that a while back. I cannot express how happy it makes me to know that our input makes such a difference. I know that I was not the only one that felt this age group needed their own thing but it truly makes me feel good knowing that I may have helped do something for these young adults. Again, thank you so much for always helping to make Carnival amazing and for fueling our cruising addiction. Have a great day!!

Amy Wilson Kobernick

John says:

Hello Amy Kobernick

You are so very kind. I know this is something you have been wanting for some time and I am glad to see we have it up and running. I will share the feedback with you and hope that you will experience it for yourself very soon. Best wishes.


That’s all for today…………..thanks to you all for your questions and comments here and on

So for those of you attending the new VIFP party from next week, you will see a few differences. There is a new video, new food and drink offerings and contests including a “Name The Baby “ …………hope you all enjoy it and please do send me your feedback so we know what you think.

Just one more question for today, here it is.

Michelle Levi

Carnival has proven there is not bottom to their pit of declining standards by letting men in the steakhouse in blue jeans. It was not long ago that suits and ties were the dress code for gentlemen to eat there. I and many others miss those days.

Thanks Michelle

Now this is an interesting comment, Michelle, and let me answer first of all from a man’s point of view………not every man………..just this one. Why would I want to eat a wonderful steak with a piece of coloured cloth tied in a knot around my neck, pressing against my windpipe and dangling in my lobster bisque? Having a meal should be unhindered, women always wear comfortable clothes, a jacket and tie is not comfortable at the best of times but in hot restaurants it can be quite uncomfortable. But hold on, there is another side isn’t there. Having a room full of elegantly dressed men and ladies does give a certain something to the occasion. Yep, I understand that. There is then the argument that jeans have no place in our steakhouses. But don’t jeans and steak go together? I think so. Jeans and a sports jacket look OK, don’t they? It’s ripped jeans, stained T-shirts and scruffy sneakers and we never allow guests to wear them. Yet there is still some push back form some of you who seem to hanker for the days when the steakhouse was the supper club and formal attire was a must every single night.

I am hoping that talking about my weight loss will not have a few of my readers reaching for the delete button but having lost the weight of a Mini Cooper I am now able to finally buy a pair of jeans, something anyone who is overweight will tell you are not comfortable to wear. The thing is though that when I last was able to fit into a good pair of jeans that back was when I was listening to AC/DC sing about the Highway To Hell (which I understand was a song about Miami’s section of I-95). Back then jeans were just…..well……..jeans. One type, blue. That was it.

These days is how many types of jeans there were then to how many there are now. Flat front. Pleated front. Slim Fit. Loose Fit. Oh, and to those who pay ridiculous amounts of money for jeans with holes in them can I say this……..holes in jeans are earned, not bought! And even if we do find a pair do we know what looks good without spending hours and hours in a cubicle trying the sodding things on? This – and I’ll take no argument on the matter – is the most miserable thing a man can do. Given the choice of trying on a pair of jeans in a shop or eating yak poo live on Fox and Friends …… then tell the women with the short skirt and manicured thighs that I am on my way over. But jeans are here and while I understand some don’t like it, they are being more accepted on land and at sea and I noticed even last week that some of our beards were dressed in jeans and, honestly, I am not totally sure what I think about that except it is very much part of the Googlefacebook world we live in.

But as far as the steakhouse is concerned, I don’t care and if I was eating in the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse and someone who looked like me walked in, all I would care about was that he wasn’t naked …….. now that would put me off my cowboy steak.



Your friend,


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CONNECTING…………………WITH JACINTA Tue, 11 Aug 2015 14:06:39 +0000 Continue reading ]]> You will have seen that Carnival is rolling out our new Internet programs thick and fast across the fleet. This will be followed by the popular Hub app that is now on Carnival Breeze, next on Carnival Sunshine and by year’s end, on even more ships. These are more ways to connect with people in the cabin next to you or family who are hundreds or more miles away. “Hooray” many of you will say but I would expect there to be some “boos,” as well.

The airline industry is already stepping up its game as I discovered on my flights recently. These days many flight attendants I have met on planes seem to be more like security guards with nice hair rather than the, “Is there anything I can get for you, sir?” attendants of old. This, of course, comes from the world we live in and we have to listen to what flight attendants say in much the same way we ask our guests to listen to our staff on our ships. But things are changing there too. In the past, one of the sure ways to upset Lisa or Dave, the flight attendants, was to use your cell phone while on the plane and anyone found with their phone not in the mysterious “airplane mode,” would be thrown to the floor, beaten over the head with the in-flight magazine and tied to their seat until landing when they would be arrested before being driven to a secret CIA base in Cleveland and accused of being a terrorist. Well, it seems that the idea of your phone being a safety hazard is bollocks because on my flight to Miami last week on American Airlines, they did allow passengers to make use their personal cell phones during this trans-Atlantic flight.  I have heard that they are testing this on select flights, as well, so we’ll see what the future holds.

Now, some of you may be excited by this and will be one of those who, directly after takeoff grab their Eyephone and scream, “Hello Mum, I can see the Brooklyn Bridge. Gee, it looks so small from up here!” Surely, there are very few who will be jumping for joy about this news. I would rather be trapped in an elevator with 10 Frenchmen and a dead skunk before I would wish to be trapped in a metal tube next to someone called SeeBurd screaming down his phone, “I’m on the plane! The food here sucks, the service from Dave and Lisa, our flight attendants, is rude and I will be writing a review about this on”

Personally, I hate this idea and flying does have one respite and that’s I am out of contact with the beards and ship life for a few hours and I sodding love that. Cellular phones rule our lives. The streets where you live and the mall where you shop are now populated by zombies who shuffle along staring at their handsets. Being on a plane and while at sea were, for the most part, the only places left where you were unreachable, where, just for a while, you could relax, watch a movie, stare at the flight attendant’s bottom and do so knowing you were completely disconnected from the world. And, of course, using your cell phone in flight means it’s not just the speaking loudly which will be annoying but remember people can now call you so that means throughout an eight-hour trans-Atlantic flight, we will be disturbed by various ring tones from that eye phone ring most of the world has to the theme from James Bond.

Yep, flying already is s**t from those bastards who recline their seats immediately after takeoff to those whose arse smells so badly it probably has a tooth growing up there. And now we are close to providing the same service in the cruise industry and many will rejoice. But please, don’t become a cruise zombie. Don’t be shuffling up and down Promenade deck wuzzupping with your friends to tell them, “Had a kiss on the lips, wow – LOL.” Don’t be spending dinner face down in your Eyephone and forgetting to spend the meal talking about the fun you have had and the fun still to come. By the way……whatever happened to the humble postcard? I kind of miss it, don’t you?

Time for today’s Q and A, off we go.

Larry Worrall asks:
Stop stop stop force feeding everyone this drivel on how well you are doing on your diet. Whatever you say Mr. Heald, how can you force a depressed person to eat salad? Should responsible waiters refuse to serve passengers more food if they look morbidly overweight like you once were and maybe who knows again saying: “Chocolate melting cake? No, you’ve had enough?” That would set up some pretty awkward main dining room scenes. Think about what you write before you write it!!!!!

John says:
Hello Larry Worrall

I am sorry if my reports about my continuing fight to lose weight upset you. It is my diet and nobody else’s and I would never try to impress on anyone that they need to drop the weight or how they should do so. I have been on the receiving end of that for many years, so it would be massively hypocritical if I did the same. I hope this explanation and my apology will be accepted

Best wishes.


Randel Raison asks:
John, we go on so many cruises each year that we have become quite friendly with many of the officers and staff.  When the staff moves to a different ship, it can be a sad event. But, we use, which is a handy way to find out what other ships will be in a particular port on a particular day. We have found this to be very useful, and have passed it along to staff, as well, and they love it. Maybe the Facebook readers would appreciate knowing about this handy website. Best regards.


John says:
Hello Randel Raison

I am sure many others will find this useful too and indeed one person who does is me as I had no idea about this site so a huge thank you for sharing it. I hope we see you on many more cruises to come. Best wishes.


Beverly Smith-Hansen asks:
I can only cruise in the summer so, as an educator, my choices are limited and the prices high. What really is unfair is how Carnival does not provide an adults-only ship so that teachers do not have to spend their vacation time surrounded by noisy brats just as we do the rest of the year. An adults only ship would be jumped on by teachers across the world. Teachers should get discounts too just like you give soldiers.

John says:
Hello Beverly Smith – Hansen

I have said many times here how much I respect teachers and I know, from my Dad being a teacher the challenges they face each day and indeed when it comes to holiday time. However, I am afraid the chances of us ever having an “adults-only” ship are not good as we are proudly a family cruise line. I do hope we see you soon for what I assure you will be a brilliant time and thank you for all the work you do. Best wishes.


Sharon Obrien asks:
John: Just off a quick five-day getaway on Carnival Triumph…my 19th cruise, 18 of which are Carnival (the other was HAL to Alaska)! Also booked on the Carnival Dream in August with my granddaughter, 11 days in October on the Dream and 15 in January 16 to Hawaii! LOVE Carnival!! Great things first… Christie at the Future Cruise desk was FAB! Chalanta and team in dining were FAB! Oscar and team in housekeeping were FAB! Just another great cruise with Carnival! Concerns – this was the “maiden” voyage for my mom’a new scooter. We specifically bought it for the January cruise to Hawaii and this was a test cruise to confirm its usefulness; you see, mom is now 83 and having so many mobility issues, we were afraid that she was going to have to stop cruising! Long story short, the ONLY issues we had were the ramp angles getting on and off the ship-it has a very low profile and bottoms out! Let me also say that there were at least four more of these on board with us as it is a popular brand/style. Mom cannot get up and walk over the ramp which also creates problems. So, my thoughts… Could Carnival staff have access to a secondary style ramp to replace the primary one when they are loading/unloading scooter bound guests? Something that has a longer ramp with less height on the profile? Just a thought! We also sailed the Carnival Freedom repositioning cruise to Galveston and there were a substantial number of scooters on board as we had about 800+ diamonds and platinums! Carnival needs to really look at keeping these older folks happy for obvious reasons!!

John says:
Hello Sharon OBrien

I want to thank you for this post, not only the terrific words of praise but for the excellent feedback on the ramp. This is something I am sure we can look into and improve on and I shall copy this to all the right people. Sometimes these things need to be shown to us from your perspective, otherwise, we assume everything is as it should be, so a huge thank you once again. Please do let me know if there is anything else I can do for you and I hope we will see you soon

Best wishes


Danette Geltz asks:
I have booked a cruise for next year. At what point does Carnival issue the initial FTTF offer? I would think there has to be some trigger. Thank you very much.

John says:
Hello Danette Geltz

Thank you for booking with us and please do keep checking on Faster to the Fun. The average time we have this available on is 90 days before the cruise but often it will appear before that. Please let me know if you have any other questions and have a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.


Rhonda Stine asks:
Does Carnival have any of the bed wedges available for passengers? It’s a triangle pillow that elevates the head and neck area. I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and am still in
the midst of a reconstruction process, so it is very difficult for me to sleep without a bed wedge. I thought I’d look ridiculous carrying my personal one through the embarkation process. My husband has booked three cruises with Carnival for this summer! Yay! So…I’d thought I’d ask. I love your blogs and the information that you provide. Keep us laughing!

John says:
Hello Rhonda Stone

I am so sorry to read about what you are going through. I am afraid we don’t have these available on board so I would suggest you do bring your own. Meanwhile if there is anything at all I can do to make you more comfortable, please do let me know here or via my page. I wish you health and happiness and many more fun cruises with us. Best wishes.


Paul Belardinelli asks:
You keep using the words “Mr. and Mrs. – mom and dad.” This is America, you may be living in the Stone Age but AMERICA IS NOT.

John says:
Hello Paul Belardinelli

I do often forget to keep what I write gender neutral and do so for no other reason that old habits die hard and sometimes I simply forget. So for the times I have and the times in the future when I might again, I apologise. Best wishes.


Thomas Foote asks:
I have recently booked a cruise on April 2016 on the Carnival Splendor. My cruise is going to a new port Amber Cove. Can you send me some information on the best beaches to go to.
Does the Carnival Splendor have Guy’s Burgers?

John says:
Hello Thomas Foote.

Let me say firstly that the Carnival Splendor does not have a Guy’s Burger Joint nor are there immediate plans to install one in the near future. The good news is that the first call to Amber Cove will be taken by the Carnival Victory in October and I will have a full report about that here so please do watch for that. It is going to be a fabulous port of call and I wish you a wonderful time there.  Best wishes.


Pam asks:
John we need more activities on board on sail days. I want Carnival to do a piece on ship life. Let us get a glimpse of what life is like working on a cruise ship pictures, Q&A, fun facts, etc. ….. We went on another cruise line several years ago and they did this. Captain came and spoke and told about what he does. Really enjoyed it. Can’t Carnival add to its list of things? Love the Game of Love and Hairy Chest Contest. Need more things like that.

John says:
Hello Pam

I am glad you have written because we are starting to do more of these kind of things on our ships. In fact, on our Carnival Journeys cruises, there will be behind the scenes get-togethers with the captain, chief engineer and cruise director, as well as people like the laundry manager and food operations personnel and the chef. We will see how these go and how popular they are and maybe we can introduce to other ships too. Thanks for the input, hope we see you soon for more fun. Best wishes.


Rachel asks:
Hi John! I just wanted to comment on the changes for Gold VIFP cruisers. We will hit gold on our next cruise this August, and I have to say I was really looking forward to finally getting an invite to the party. Of course, I understand the changes due to logistics, but it’s still a disappointment since I was excited to finally be “in the club,” so to speak. There are so many perks for Platinum cruisers, and it seems not very many for gold now. It won’t stop me sailing, but it just seems kind of silly for there to be all these “tiers” of VIFP when really there’s no difference until you’re Platinum. My other comment is regarding the bottled water. I’m so very glad that Carnival is reducing the price to buy it on board. I hate lugging bottles of water with me, and I’m not really fond of the tap water on the ship, so this is a perfect solution for me. Now if you could just lower the price for the canned sodas we can purchase online ahead of our cruise that would be excellent! Until then, I’ll be buying my 12-pack of diet coke for $2.99 and lugging it through security with me. Thanks for all you do, and for keeping me entertained during my breaks at work!

John says:
Hello Rachel

Thank you for your loyalty and I know the changes we made to our program did not sit well with some of our Gold members. I do hope though that you will enjoy the complimentary drink we give you for the last night of the cruise. I understand all your points and I will send them to those who need to see what you have to say. I do hope you reach Platinum status soon and I remain here at your service. Best wishes.


Andrea Gregson asks:
I was in line at the Lido buffet on the last sea day of my cruise last week, and this miserable old hen was claiming that Carnival refuses to do anything about balcony smoking. In fact, it was so bad that they were giving her a free cruise as compensation.

John says:
Hello Andrea Gregson

As you know smoking is strictly forbidden on the balconies and, if guests are caught, there is a fine for them to pay and the possibility that they will be disembarked. As for us giving a free cruise to someone who had someone smoking on the balcony next to them, I would say that this was utter nonsense. Hope that helps and please do ask me if you have any more questions. Best wishes.


That’s all for today.  I will be back here soon to answer all your questions and back on to do the same.

Well, it’s Tuesday and I will, by the time you have read this, spent the day filming with many of the top Carnival beards and you will have a chance to see all those videos soon here on the blog.

I have also spent the last day getting my new personal assistant, Jacinta, trained, ready to take on her new role. My previous PA, Emma, decided to leave the job and look after her family at home and I will miss her a lot. And so, it was time to hire a new one.

For those who do not know, Jacinta comes from the bar department as did I. I really wanted to give someone else a chance to progress, just as I was given that chance and so at the recommendations of the managers she has worked with and because of the vast amount of amazing comments she received from our guests I decided, rather nervously, if I am honest, to hire her. And, so far, she has been terrific.

So, I thought you would like to meet her and listen to her story in her own words as she answers my questions.

Here then is Jacinta.


Jacinta, welcome aboard.

Please can you tell us something about yourself? Where are you from and how did your journey with Carnival start?  Hello, everyone. My name is Jacinta and my family is from Romania. I started with Carnival in 2012 as a bar waitress. Leaving my family was the most difficult thing I had to do. Working on the ship has meant I can support and look after them

What was your favourite bar to work in and why? I love the piano bar. It is so much fun, because the guests have fun there and the singing and the atmosphere. I was not just a bar waitress there I was helping entertain and I was also being entertained by the piano bar players, as well as the guests who have such a good time there.

If a guest said “recommend me a cocktail” what would you suggest to them? My favorite was a “Show Stopper Martini.” It is champagne with strawberry puree and Absolute vodka citron. It is amazing, all of our guests should try one!

Did you ever receive any unusual requests from guests? The one drink that people always asked me for that we did not have was sugar free diet ginger ale. I was also asked if I live on the ship. I once had some guests shout at me because they were not allowed to come into the crew only party.

What has been your favourite ship so far and why?  That’s easy, Carnival Sunshine. The managers and crew were so like family. There were difficult times when the ship came from dry dock but the people were all amazing. I love the piano bar and the guests – yes, my favorite ship

So, what are you looking forward to about your new position? I was very nervous when my bar manager asked me if I would be interested in working with you. Everyone knows Mr. John, all the crew call him that and everyone loves Mr. John. I am looking forward to working hard, learning new things and helping him with all I can do. I am very happy for this chance.

What is your favourite movie? The Notebook (John says “Oh, FFS”)

Who has had the most influence on your life so far? My mother – she has such love for her family. I have the best mum in the world.

Do you know what Preparation H is? No. What is it?

I think Jacinta is going to be wonderful and look out for her own Instagram page for you to follow soon. Time for me now to get on with her training…….starting with educating her on the soothing aspects of Preparation H and how it should be applied.

I just want to go back to the phones on a plane subject if I may because having sat here in my underpants, I suddenly thought…….hold on, will passengers be allowed to use their cellular telephones while the plane is taxiing?  So why were the flight attendants telling us to “turn your phones off now” the whole time? Surely, this is madness. We all definitely understood that if we switch on our phones while we’re on a plane taking off in Miami, even when it is trundling along the ground at 5 mph, it will immediately veer onto I-95 ……without using its turning signals.

Now, it appears we may be allowed to use our phones, after all, which means pilots may one day be in the cockpit talking to their family or looking at Think about it.  To make sure the plane does not crash or explode, passengers are told to place their hammers and bows and arrows and toothpaste in the hold. And before they are even allowed into the departure hall, they must pass through a machine that allows security personnel to have a look at their dangly bits and their lady gardens. So I reckon these days, using your phone on a plane is no more dangerous than hosting the pillow fighting contest on the flashback day during our Carnival Journeys cruise…… but, apparently, according to the safety vest and hard hat-wearing beards……I am not allowed to do that either.


Your friend,

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DEBARKATION MORNING WITH KETUT Mon, 03 Aug 2015 20:10:28 +0000 Continue reading ]]> We start today with this comment:

Robert Lang
I have always felt that after tip night, we were treated like second class citizens and made to feel like you no longer matter and the way you are pushed off the ship by the endless announcements is degrading to me. My cabin steward could not wait to get us off the ship. He knocked on our door TWICE!!

Thanks, Robert, and although I absolutely disagree with your suggestion that service from our brilliant crew diminishes on the last night, I can sort of understand what you mean by the announcements and the whole debarkation process…………..oh, by the way, the gratuities you so graciously leave our crew via your Sail & Sign card are not paid on the last night of the cruise but collected by the crew two days after the cruise is over.

But I can see Robert’s point about the announcements. Usually the cruise director will get on the PA system as early as 7 am, earlier if you are in Europe as your Carnival Vista will be. Now let’s face it people. You are not in the best of moods on debarkation morning. You have to fly which means facing the joyless security check as you get a bollocking for having a tube of hemorrhoid cream in your carry-on. You will then be searched by people with iron-on badges who are so busy checking you don’t have any other creams or gels or that deadly pair of nose hair scissors that they will miss the chap with wires sticking out of his underpants.

You are in a mood because after the brilliant and fun service that you had on the ship from Alena your waitress, Jacinta your bar waitress waiter and Ketut your cabin steward, you know that once on board the plane you will be met with a growl from the premenstrual flight attendant whom if you attempt to joke with or look at the wrong way will have you handcuffed and dragged off the plane for a spot of waterboarding.

You are in a mood because for the last seven days you have stretched out in a hammock on Serenity deck and enjoyed the luxury of the Carnival Comfort Bed and now have to look forward to sitting in seat 45C which would be a tight fit for an anorexic hamster. And, of course, the man next to you will smell like a Frenchman’s jockstrap and want to be your best friend. You are in a mood because you have to go back to work on Monday and because instead of the Guy’s burger and Warm Chocolate Melting Cake you have dined on each day, you have nothing to look forward to but your wife’s cooking which you find as appetizing as eating deep fried yak testicles and it won’t be served by a friendly smiling Filipino waiter but by your wife who is angry at you for peeing on the toilet seat and not having Ketut there to wipe away the stain.

So you are in a stinking mood and what happens at 7 am? Bing bong, “Good morning ladies and gentlemen, what a beautiful day it is here in Miami. This is your Cruise Director Matt Dee here and it’s time to wake up, rise and shine and make your way off the ship. Don’t forget your customs card and let’s wish Lisa from cabin 2269 a very happy birthday. We look forward to seeing you again on another Fun Ship cruise. Woohoo.”

And you are all thinking………………”Woohoo, my arse.” Yep, I can well imagine that hearing a CD’s bright and cheery announcement at 7 am when you don’t want to get up and go home because you had a few too many ThirstyFrog Reds last night. I can understand why these announcements do get on some guests nerves and even tempt a few to scream, “SHUT UP YOU CHEERY BASTARD.”

But the announcements are necessary and, after our Q&A session, I will tell you why they are.

Beth Smith asks:

Hello John: I just wanted to let you know how excellent our service was on Carnival Breeze. We were on the Carnival Breeze for the May 19 cruise. Let me start with Dr. E. He is the best cruise director I have ever cruised with. I would also like to mention my cabin steward Ryan he was very friendly and attentive. Now for our MDR staff, the only thing I can say is that they are the most hard working, wonderful people. Our head waiter was Fahmy – he was the best I have ever had. His assistants were just as great. I hope you can pass along my good words to the beards and let them know how great and hardworking they are. I would gladly cruise with all the people I mentioned any time. Thanks!!

John says:
Hello Beth Smith

This is the perfect way to start today’s Q& A. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this wonderful review and I am going to make sure all those you mentioned see your kind words. They will be thrilled. I hope their superb efforts mean we will see you again very soon. I am here if you need anything. Hope to see you soon. Best wishes.

Anne Robey asks:
John my whole family are mega fans of yours. We cruised back to back with you on the first cruise of the Carnival Magic in Europe from Barcelona and we will never forget the fun and laughter you gave us. Our next cruise is back on the Carnival Magic during which mom will be celebrating her 95th birthday. She is an inspiration to me and my sisters and brothers. I know you occasionally make people’s celebrations with a surprise or two. Her name is Norma Bonis. We will be on the Carnival Magic on August 9 and Norma will be in cabin 62**. I wish you could be there with us. Thank you John for all you do for so many people.

John says:
Hello Anne Robey

I too have wonderful memories of our time in Europe on the Carnival Magic and how super it is to see that you will take Mum on the same ship to celebrate this extraordinary milestone. I wish I could be there with you too but I will do all I can to make sure Mum has the best of times and an unforgettable birthday. Best wishes to you all.

Barnacle Bill Castellano asks:

Will you be sailing in the Carnival Dream for the Halloween cruise departing New Orleans, October 25, 2015? I will have a small group of senior funsters on board to participate in all the Halloween activities. The group would like a photo opportunity with you in your latest underpants.

John says:
Hello Barnacle Bill Castellano.

I am so sorry that I will not be there for your group and that photo. However, please do let me know if there is anything at all I can help you with and please send me your cabin number the day before the cruise on my page if you can. I wish you all the best of times. Best wishes.

Steven Caragolis asks:
I will be on the Carnival Sunshine with 14 friends and family. The cruise leaves on September 6 but the important date is September 10. This is the first NFL Thursday night game of the season. We are all big Steelers fans and they play the Patriots that night. It would be criminal of Carnival not to have this on the giant screen. If this is not played the passengers will riot because this is a tradition that Carnival — an American company — must not refuse us!! I hope Carnival does the right thing and puts the game on. We will all be very vocal if this does not happen.

John says:
Hello Steven Caragolis

First of all let me say that I am grateful to you all for booking this wonderful cruise and I am sure there will be many highlights from the service and fun on the ship to the superb ports of call. Unfortunately I have to tell you that we will not be showing this game or most of the NFL season on the Dive In Movie big screen, which is reserved for our blockbuster movies which we feel the vast majority of the ship want to see. However, if this game shown on the major networks there is an excellent chance it will be shown in the sports bar and on the cabin TVs. Have a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.

Cyndy McKee asks:
Hi John: I know other cruise lines reciprocate with their other lines (sister companies-RCI with Celebrity, etc.) That is if you are platinum on RCI, you are platinum on Celebrity. Why doesn’t Carnival do the same? I am platinum on Carnival but I am stuck because if I try any other Carnival line- Princess, etc. I have to start over to gain any perks. We have just about exhausted all itineraries with Carnival, some twice. So now we are looking for different ports or different 
itineraries but the only way to do that is to go to another cruise line or a sister company of Carnival and start over to get perks. Carnival may be the only cruise line that does NOT allow the same perks company wide. I have 15 or so cruises with Carnival, I just don’t want to start over. So while Carnival is revamping things, maybe Carnival should think about revamping this too. 

John says:
Hello Cyndy McKee

Thanks for writing to me and I am afraid at the moment that there are no combined loyalty programs between Carnival and the other cruise companies within the Carnival Corporation. Their loyalty programs are vastly different with some based on cruise days, and others the numbers of cruises. However, never say never and we are certainly not discounting this in the future. I want to thank you for your loyalty and really hope we will see you soon. Please let me know if you have any further questions. Best wishes.

Hendrik van Loon asks:

I recently took a cruise on the Dream. I did two things that I have never done and wanted to mention them. The first was The Chef’s Table. I can’t describe how wonderful that experience was. The food was five star and the information that was given was really superb. The other special thing was Behind the Fun. It also was excellent. I am a platinum cruiser but didn’t find out about this until recently. Why is this not an option as an excursion on the carnival website. I also wanted to mention on this last cruise that I lost my iPhone. I had left it on deck. I went to guest services with little hope of its return but happily it was there. I asked who returned it and it was a crew member name Randy. I went to my cabin to get some cash to reward this employee and was assured he would receive this token of appreciation. While on my Behind the Fun tour I noticed near the crew quarters a bulletin board with this crew member as the employee of the month. I also noticed that they post for the crew to read some of the comments that cruisers make on the survey that we fill out post cruise. Good job, Carnival!

John says:
Hello Hendrik Van Loon

You have highlighted two of the options we offer on all of our ships and they are two brilliant ones as you mentioned. I am so glad that you highlighted them and indeed Randy who obviously exceeded your expectations. I will be passing all of what you have said to the ship and your feedback will be wonderfully received. I do thank you and I do hope we will see you sail with us again very soon. Best wishes.

Jeff Seymour asks:

Hi John: We want to book the cruise from Galveston to Puerto Rico, and rather than fly home we thought we would do what we love to do and book the return cruise from Puerto Rico back to Galveston. When we do book we obviously would like to book the same cabin to and from, but my questions are: What are Carnival’s policy on debarkation when we get to Puerto Rico if we are booked on the return Cruise in the same cabin? Can we leave our luggage in our state room if we are getting off and right back on? Do we get another Sail & Sign card? If you have any insight or steer me in the proper direction it would be appreciated.

John says:
Hello Jeff Seymour.

Yes indeed you can. The guest services will speak with you before the end of the cruise and explain the debarkation system but you can, once cleared through U.S. Immigration, go and explore beautiful Old San Juan and leave everything in the cabin. Have a brilliant time and please let me know if there is anything else I can help with. Best wishes.

Hector Ramos asks:
It is ridiculous that Carnival does not put what pier number or address the ship docks at, Heald. I have friends who want to meet us when Carnival Elation docks in Cozumel. They are staying in a hotel there but it does not say what pier the ship is on for our cruise. The ship is in Cozumel August 15. I have called Carnival and spoke with someone and after being put on hold for a stupid amount of time was told that they did not know. How can this be the case?? What pier is the ship at?? Why can’t anyone tell me!!??

John says:
Hello Hector Ramos

I am so sorry that this has you so obviously frustrated. In the defence, though, of the person who you spoke to at Carnival that information is not given to anyone but the ship’s captain and often given just a few days or even hours in advance. The Cozumel port authority controls this and often pier availability changes so to publish this information months in advance would be pointless. There is a good chance that the ship will dock at the Puerta Maya Pier but that could change to the International Pier or even the one directly downtown which is called Punto Lagosta. The best thing is to tell your friends to tell the taxi driver to go to the Carnival Elation, the drivers will for sure know where to go. I wish you a wonderful cruise and I am here if you have any questions. Best wishes.

Tyna Redmann asks:
Why does Carnival keep toilet brushes in the staterooms, John? The sight of toilet brushes makes me feel sick. I bought those clip on flushable toilet brush thingies which I think are more hygienic and pleasant approach to getting rid of the marks at home. There is no need for a toilet brush to be put in the cabins. It is the cabin attendant’s job to clean them, not the passengers. Toilet brushes are vile, germ-breeding things and should be removed from the staterooms IMHO

John says:
Hello Tyna Redmann

Interesting. I thought over the years I had covered all the possible toilet issues but here is a new one. I guess I had never really thought about this much and it will be interesting to see what others feel about this. For now please when you cruise again let me know on my page a couple of days before you sail and ask for the brush to be removed I will make sure it is. Thanks so much and thanks for sharing an interesting perspective
Best wishes

Maureen Reffkin asks:
Hi John, I cruise on Carnival all the time. I have enjoyed just about all of your cruise directors. One in particular is not that entertaining and seems so full of themself. While at the CD Q&A 
they had to mention to us about five times how Carnival wants them to stay on the Carnival ____ and he is the best of the best! REALLY? You never see them out and about and the way they signs off after any announcement is so annoying! Even the bartender at the Alchemy Bar says it’s annoying. I’m back on the Carnival ________ in September but would like to know when this CD will be replaced.

John says:
Hello Maureen Reffkin

Although this particular cruise director has legions of fans – you’re not one of them, obviously – I will forward this along to let them know your thoughts. I do hope that we will see you again soon and I do appreciate you taking the time to write. Best wishes.

William Gunn asks:

Can you organize a Shriners meeting for August 22 Carnival Glory cabin ****. I want to meet other people who are Shriners like me. Can you provide me with the email address of the captain so I can get this organized? Will Carnival provide free drinks for us as we do such great works? I would expect 100 plus to come as we are all over the US.

John says:
Hello William Gunn

I will certainly ask our groups coordinator and the cruise director to help with this and arrange a time and location for you to meet. I am afraid that we cannot provide free drinks but I am sure you will enjoy meeting fellow members. I wish you a brilliant time. Best wishes.

That’s all for today and many thanks for all the comments and questions, they are such an important part of this blog.

So what were we talking about…………ahhh yes, debarkation. Well, ask any crew member which day is the most stressful for them and they will for the very most part tell you it is homeport day and here are a few of those behind the scenes moments that I wanted to kindly point out to you.

The Debarkation Process
Let me start by saying that whatever we do once the ship ties up at the homeport we do under with permission from the agency that is in charge and that is of course our good friends from United States Customs and Border Protection. We cannot take anything off the ship — crew, guests, stores, luggage, anything at all without the guest services manager getting permission.

So we plan debarkation, we start debarkation when CPB because at the end of the day, just like they do at airports, it is their job to keep everyone safe and make sure the borders are indeed protected. We need to make the debarkation process as comfortable as possible and the buck for that stops with the management and their teams on board and there is no doubt also that some ships do this better than others and we have to keep working hard to be more consistent here I think.

But it is a long day for the crew and let’s be a little more specific here shall we and concentrate on the work that the stateroom stewards. On home port day Ketut your cabin steward will wake up at 5:30am. After his shower he will grab a quick breakfast in the crew mess which is open from 5:30am on debarkation morning. Then it is straight to his section where he hopes, truly hopes, that you will all be on self-assist and have leave the ship as soon as Jaime Mitchum says that CBP has given permission for guests to disembark.

That’s because he has anywhere from 15 to 22 cabins to clean and only one assistant to help him and when I say clean he has to:
– Deep clean the cabin, bathroom, toilet and storage spaces.
– Change the sheets, duvet and pillow cases
– Clean the shower curtain
– Check the safe has been emptied and left open
– Check everything is working properly
– Place the new Fun Times and shore excursion sheets in the cabin
– Make sure the previous guests did not steal the remote control or the toilet brush.

And Ketut has to do that to every cabin and finish by 1 pm at the very latest…………and if Ketut has some Diamond/Platinum cabins or Faster to the Fun, he has to do those first because they now have express cabin service. So do the cabin stewards want guests off the ship as quick as possible? Absolutely they do. But not because they are not grateful for everything you did for them but because they want to be able to give the next group of guests the same Carnival service that are based on delivering that feeling of “family” that only a Carnival cruise can. Oh and they also want to finish because they hope to have an hour to rush to Walgreens, call home or simply sleep………..ready go again later that day when they are back in their sections ready to say “welcome aboard” to their new guests.

In future blogs I will tell you about luggage collection, stores and other factors that make a turnaround day such a hectic one for so many of the crew.

So I understand Robert’s point, debarkation morning is not one full of smiles and laughs. We do need to continue to work hard to make it as easy an experience as possible and I should also mention here that we are monitoring the liquor return policy very carefully as I know this has added to an already bust morning for you.

Do we want you to leave? No. Do you have to leave? Yep, you do and please if you can, spare a small thought for the crew who have to prepare the ship ready for the new guests who want to find the ship as welcoming as you did days earlier.

I want to finish by going back to the post from Anne who wrote about her mother who would be celebrating her 95th birthday while on the Carnival Magic. I will, of course, be doing all I can along with my colleagues on board to make it the most special of days for her. I also can’t help but think about my own old age and if Kye can’t look after me what will happen? I hope I poop off before Heidi because without her or a cabin steward like Ketut, there is no way I could look after myself. I don’t know how to cook, clean, operate a washing machine or where the new roll of toilet paper comes from. I also don’t want to go to the type of retirement home where you’re left to marinate in your own urine, while the “helpers” stand around texting their boyfriends, waiting for you to die but preferably not on their shift. I am sure everyone here dreads ending their days in a home for the nearly dead wearing someone else’s false teeth. If I am lucky enough to reach say……80 years of age I think I may hasten my departure. Because if Kye says “Dada, we have found you a nice spot at The Sea View Retirement Home,” I will start drinking again, smoking 20 cigars a day and eating nothing but animal fat and raw yak meat. Maybe, on all of our ships. we should have a have a happy hour for only those over age 75 where with pints of ThirstyFrog for $1 and free shots of Slippery Nipple. You may spend the rest of the cruise in bed but surely that’s better than ending your days wasting away on a wipe down chair wearing a diaper ……………..right?

Your friend,

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PET-SHOP Sat, 01 Aug 2015 11:08:49 +0000 Continue reading ]]> So next week, I will be back in the office, meeting my new assistant and meeting many, many beards. I am very lucky that, in my role as brand ambassador for Carnival Cruise Line, I am afforded health insurance through the company and for that I am very grateful although I hope that I will never need it. My only experience of American hospitals was when I was a cruise director and Heidi and I rented a villa in Orlando and she trapped her finger in the sliding doors that led out to the pool.After I had called her a clumsy bastard, I noticed that her finger looked like Tom’s after Jerry had given him the good news by dropping an iron on it. And so we went off to see if George Clooney was working at the Orlando ER. Heidi was denied treatment at the hospital because the receptionist’s computer refused to acknowledge that the United Kingdom existed. Even though I had a wad of cash and a wallet full of credit cards, she was prepared to let Heidi’s finger explode all over her desk because her stupid sodding software only recognised addresses in the United States.

I was very angry as you can imagine, and had to use all my charm and the promise of a free cruise on the Carnival Triumph and a fruit basket and a ship on a sodding stick to get her to let me see a doctor. I did. He told Heidi she had broken her finger, gave her some pain killers and put a peg thingy on her finger, smiled and gave me a bill for $475 ……..I kid you not…….$475.
After telling Heidi she could forget seeing Mickey and his mates at Disney, that week and writing my address as 25 Bollocks Street on the hospital payment form, I expanded my coverage to the U.S. The British National Health (BNH) system is brilliant and it is also bloody awful. When Heidi had Kye, I could not fault the BNH them in anyway and our Mrs. Doubtfire midwife was a true angel from heaven. She held her hand, and agreed while Heidi was “pushing” that I was a complete bastard with no more right to live on God’s green earth than a dung beetle.

With any huge bureaucratic system, there can be challenges like wait times — ask any Brits and they will tell you their own stories. My friend’s 12-year-old daughter fell off her horse and badly damaged her knee. Things started well. The ambulance arrived promptly, the knee was strapped and off she went in a big, exciting van with flashing lights. Now, we are all used to a bit of a wait at the hospital in a room full of people with swords in their eyes and their feet on back to front. But nothing can prepare you for the yawning chasm of time that passes in a British ER room (or A & E – accident and emergency as we call it) before the healthcare system actually does any healthcare. I do not want to get political here but I hope the outgoing president’s healthcare plan is good for the country. Obviously I am a cruise director and not a political commentator or don’t have a mind capable of understanding the complexities of a health care plan on the massive scale of the one in America. But I can say this. Britain’s National Health Service is truly brilliant but has its challenges, of course. Hopefully the U.S. can improve upon what we already have in place. We’ll have to see, I guess.

Time for today’s Q and A – here we go.

Paul Power asks:
John: We are doing a back to back on the Carnival Glory in September to celebrate our 30th anniversary and I was wondering if we are allowed to bring two bottles of wine each as we are doing a back to back.

John says:
Hello Paul Power

Yes indeed you are if you have both boarding passes printed and ready to show at embarkation. I wish you a brilliant two cruises on this wonderful ship. Best wishes.

Marilyn Hertenstein asks:
We are cruising in August on Carnival Sunshine. I have leg troubles and cannot walk long distances. I am thinking of buying and bringing a wheelchair along with us to use in the ports when getting around the towns to shop and sightsee. Will the crew be able to help me get the chair on and off the ship if we use a tender? Or is this a bad idea?  I can walk short distances, and my husband can push the chair, but I worry about getting it on and off the ship.  What are your thoughts?

John says:
Hello Marilyn Hertenstein

Yes, they will, so please, do not worry. Motor scooters are a challenge but regular wheelchairs will be able to be used on tenders and the crew will assist you as and when you need. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you either here or on my page.
Best wishes and have a great cruise

Bobby Pethan asks:
We have been loyal Carnival cruisers for eight years, and have taken 11 cruises on Carnival. We have had a blast on every cruise, and have made a lot of great friends… including two captains. We are taking our 12th, and, sadly, our last Carnival cruise in January 2016 back to Hawaii. Dawn drinks a sparkling water called Sparkling ICE, but, unfortunately, it only comes in 17oz plastic bottles… so, we will be saying goodbye to Carnival and going to Princess where she will be allowed to have her ICE. Carnival lost us because of this asinine rule – ashamed much?

John says:
Hello Bobby Pethan

I am so disappointed that after 11 wonderful cruises with us you have decided not to return. I hope that this was a kneejerk reaction to the new rules on bringing on plastic bottles and that you will have had time since writing to remember all the reasons why you cruised with us and were as you said “loyal” to the fun cruise vacation we provide. I did ask our bar beard if the Ice product you mentioned was something we could offer but, as it’s not supplied by the Coca Cola company, we have a contract with I am afraid we don’t have any plans to add this. I hope you will have second thoughts and I hope truly we will see you soon. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.

Kathy Maiorana asks:
Dear Mr. Heald:
First off I’m not a diamond, platinum or whatever… I think I am jolly old red, maybe blue, I don’t know I can’t keep that craziness straight. But seriously it doesn’t matter. I just laugh at all the folks that start off telling you that they are platinum cruisers.  It has no bearing on what I’m about to tell you, frankly, does it ever? I read your Facebook posts every day. I know you probably get a ton of “unpleasantries.” I, too, have written you about a few “mishaps.” John, I have a happy story to tell you. Well somewhat happy. My husband and I were married June 15, many moons ago, well not too many moons. We always traveled on our anniversary; we vowed to never be home for our special day. We traveled from shore to shore, did a few cruises and hit Vegas too many times to count. Our favorite trips were always wherever the “salty air” was.  My husband died in 2003, after serving 17 years in the USAF. For the last 12 years our four kids have carried on mine and Mark’s tradition. Our two older boys, grown now, no longer want to travel with their “old mom.” But my two girls and I have found our niche. We’ve been cruising now the last 5 years, the last three with CCL on our anniversary. My girls, now 11 and 13 (I was pregnant with the baby when Mark died), understand the importance of our cruises now. It’s not where you go, but who you go with. We will be headed out again next week for a fun filled time, too many piña coladas, too much sun, and making some new memories. Hopefully not having the exploding toilet like we did last year on the Carnival Dream, but whatever it made for a memorable trip. I wanted you to know people aren’t all the complainers you probably normally get. We are firm believers in the old adage “a crappy day at sea is better than a good day at home.”   Cheers and happy cruising!

P.S. I hope your teeth aren’t still hurting. And I am glad you are getting to spend more time at home with your family. Enjoy every single minute of it. It doesn’t take but an instant for it all to change. Treasure the moments, sometimes that’s all you have left of them.

John says:
Hello Kathy Maiorana

Thank you sincerely for this wonderful heartfelt post. I enjoyed reading it all so very much and this quote is my favourite from it: “Understand the importance of our cruises now. It’s not where you go, but who you go with.” That is so true and so uplifting and I thank you again for being so kind and so positive. I do hope I see you on one of our ships very soon and if there is ever anything I can do for you, please do let me know. Best wishes to you and all the family.

Carl Birch asks:
Your anti-hunting comments were dangerous. Who the hell do you think you are? I am a hunter, if i need food, I have the right to go get it, in Mississippi. If I have a right to go get it, I’ve got to have the right to keep and bear arms. We have open carry protection in Mississippi too. Thanks to the Almighty. One thing is for sure, that if you don’t have a right to hunt or fish when you need to, it is cruelty to mankind, and to your neighbor.  No one should take that right from a man who is a citizen and you, Heald, are not a citizen

John says:
Hello Carl Birch

I guess you are talking about my comments on the dentist who killed the lion in Zimbabwe – I was not referring to hunting or hunters in general, only this specific case. I am not going to waste your time or the readers trying to reason with you or explain myself except to say that I was referring to this one incident and not hunting or hunters as a whole. Thanks so much and I am here if you need anything. Best wishes.

Graham Targus asks:
If you are going to have a ping pong tournament, then you should provide a professional referee or someone who knows the rules of the game!! I got through to the final round on my Carnival Paradise cruise but was cheated out of winning. My opponent had his hand on the table at 15 points all and won the next point. I complained to the dancer who was there. What does a dancer know about ping pong? I am 38 years old and the winner was not an adult and the daily program said it was an adult contest. He was 15 if he was a day! I complained to the dancer and he would did not care. A contest is just that — a contest — and should be run professionally by the ship. I deserved that ship on a stick and Carnival needs to make me happy and send me one. My address is ————————-

John says:
Hello Graham Targus

I thank you for writing to me and I can tell how frustrated you are and, for that, I do apologise. I will make sure that this is addressed by the cruise director on the ship. I will say that the ping pong tournament is based more on fun than it is a serious contest but if we say “adult” in the Fun Times then I agree, adult it should be. I do hope that this is not the only memory you have from the cruise and I hope we will see you again soon so you can win that trophy. Best wishes.

Moreen Culp asks:

John says:
Hello Moreen Culp

Yes, indeed you can. The new rules still allow for you to bring one bottle of wine per person. Have a brilliant time and enjoy beautiful Alaska. Best wishes.

Joanna Blais asks:
Question: I will be traveling w/ a large group, the Rontourage w/ Ron Pass, on the Carnival Dream 9/20. I am in charge of decorations, etc. for “Island Night?” What are we allowed/not allowed to do? What can be put up on the piano and around it? We don’t want to be in violation of anything and it seems other folks have done this sort of thing and had very different experiences, depending upon the ship. Some were allowed much more latitude than others. Please advise.

John says:
Hello Joanna Blais

I know this group is going to be lots of fun and I am sure it will be a wonderful cruise. Please contact me on my page three days before the cruise. Let me know what day you want to decorate and I will liaise with the ship. There are some rules so bring what you wish and I will have a staff member there to show you what you can and cannot do and lend assistance should it be needed. I do hope that’s OK with you. Have a great time. Best wishes.

Dana asks:
John, my father died on May 15 this year, 2015, just shy of 81. June 13 (his birthday) and June 21 were very sad days, could not even check email without the constant reminder. I feel your pain. My dad was a big Frank Sinatra fan, so is my mom (they were at one of his last live performances in Richmond, VA in March 1994). She is 74 and she and i cruise together often, as you know. I was wondering will Ken still be the maître d’ on the Carnival Pride’s September 13 sailing? Does he only sing in the dining room for scheduled seating or does he sing at specific times and venture to the Your Time Dining area? I don’t want my Mom to miss him, we have anytime dining, stateroom 7311. Thanks John, take care.

John says:
Hello Dana

I am so very sorry, I know and understand your pain and the sorrow you are feeling. Please would you remind me of what you have written above two days before the cruise? I will write to Ken and ask him to sing a song and dedicate to Dad. I know he will be honoured to do so. He rarely dedicates songs in the dining room but I know he will be happy to do this. Please then remind me on my page if you can three days before the cruise and let me take care of this for you. My sympathies go to you all

Kendra asks:
John I will be sailing on Carnival Dream in October and just found out that they do not have a Guy’s Burger Joint – my husband’s favorite lunch. I was wondering when the Carnival Dream will be updated to include a Guy’s?  Thanks and look forward to meeting you on the Journeys Cruise in October.

John says:
Hello Kendra

I am not aware of a plan to add a Guy’s Burger Joint to the Carnival Dream but I have no doubts you will still have the most wonderful time. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you and I will see you soon for a brilliant voyage. Best wishes.

Orlando Suarez asks:
_________ (IN SPANISH). Bring on Latin music, the most popular music culture in the world. Next cruise on 8/23 Breeze – is there any?!?!

John says:
Hello Orlando Suarez

Thanks to Google Translate I understand that you ummm……..don’t much care for Caribbean music. It is good news, then, that there is a Latin band and they play some wonderful music in different areas around the ship so I know you will enjoy them as you will the cruise. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

That’s all for today, more questions answered on the next blog and through the week on

I want to talk to you about our on board shops or “The Fun Shops” as they are now called. We think our onboard shopping experience is excellent but I wonder what you have to say about it?
The people at Starboard Services have recently brought in a huge selection of jewelry and fine luxury items while keeping faith with the old faithful like the charm bracelets, the watch sales, Inch Of Gold and other daily specials. So, with this in mind I wonder if you might take the time to write your thoughts about your onboard shopping experience. Now, I could ask specific questions but I don’t want this to be too regimented.

Maybe you could tell us the sort of merchandise you always buy when you cruise. Do you think they have a good selection and do you have any suggestions on what you would like to see for sale in the shops the next time you cruise? We want your onboard shopping experience to be the best and we can continue to make sure this happens through your comments and suggestions so let’s see what you all have to say.

Again, this will help us, of course, but ultimately, it well help you all enjoy your onboard shopping experience that much more.

I look forward to reading your thoughts………….oh and just FYI, you asked for bigger sizes and we now have 3X clothing and I am asking them to offer 4X as well. Anyway, let me know what you think of your onboard shopping experience and I will make sure the right people see it.

I can’t believe I am going to write this but there is serious, very serious discussion in the Heald household about getting another dog…………..a sister for our German shepherd, Breeze. When I say serious discussion, I mean Heidi is having it with Kye – I, obviously, am not involved.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Breeze, he barks and growls in all the right places and I feel happier when I am away knowing he and his razor sharp teeth are there………..but two dogs? Oh FFS!
When I was a spotty kid I owned two goldfish when I was young. They were called number one and number two so if one died I would still have two…..but they died within a week of each.
I had a hamster called Dave. He died when I was five years old – Dave the hamster died when he fell asleep at the wheel……so sad.

Yesterday I posted a question on Facebook about a couple who left their cruise on the Carnival Miracle early because their dog had sadly passed away back home in Philadelphia and I asked if others would do the same………………many said they would and I understand why. I love Breeze but I am not sure another dog is the right way to go…………..we shall see. Time for bed and I am really tired.

As I mentioned on Facebook, I didn’t sleep well last night. I counted sheep…………then I counted dentists……and I counted the lions that sprang out of the bush and ate them.

Your friend,

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DRESSING THE CAPTAIN Tue, 28 Jul 2015 18:02:21 +0000 Continue reading ]]> I am going to start today’s blog by opening a huge can of “Whoop John’s Flaccid Arse” because I am going to once again and for the 708,757,877 time …… talk about elegant night again. I know this subject may bore some people and I know that the CC artist formally known as H82SEAUGO now rejuvenated as SeeBurd will enjoy sticking his tiny, miniscule sized pin in my voodoo doll again but here I go anyway. I also have to mention that this is my opinion, not Carnival Cruise Line (noticed we have now officially dropped the S so now it is just Line) and, in this case, I am speaking for me, the chubby Brit cruise director with a bent tooth and hemorrhoids the size of a baby yak. You see, on my Facebook page these past weeks, I have read lots of comments about elegant night and the changes that have been made.

So, let’s talk about it shall we? With the new system, the captain and senior officers walk around meeting lots of people and taking photos, The atmosphere can be excellent and most captains (not all, it’s fair to say) enjoy shaking hands, chatting and having photos taken with the guests. But there are some challenges as some of you have pointed out. You see, regardless of what you think about dress code, there are those who love dressing up and those who do not. It is certainly not like the old days when seeing someone not, dressed in formal attire would provide looks of shock and horror from the guests. These days, its split down the middle with some dressed like characters from a James Bond movie and some dressed as casual as French rumpy pumpy. I have read on line and spoken recently to guests during my recent cruises on Carnival Pride, Carnival Legend, Carnival Glory and Carnival Paradise who expect something different. And what is fascinating about that is the very vast majority of guests who were disappointed in new system and the way other guests were dressed were past guests who have cruised many times before. Now what they were saying is that they don’t like where we do it and how we do it.

But……….if you really examine everything, there is only one thing that has changed ……. complimentary cocktails. We still have the music, you still meet the captain, you still are invited to dress elegantly and you still have 309 different photo stations from which to have a beautiful portrait taken. All that’s missing…….are the free drinks. Everything is exactly the same. So one has to ask, is that what this all about, the free drinks? The atmosphere, the music, the place, the photos, the meet and greet with the captain is the same…… without the free drinks.
The reason I ask this is because if that is what would make people happy then a) they need to admit that and b) they think we need to go back to what we used to do or c) reconsider other alternatives. I am going to be in Miami on the August 4-15 and I will be talking to the beards and see what we can do to make this very special evening the best it can be.

Personally, I think we should also have to get the captain and senior officers back into their white formal uniform. I understand why we did this when we changed from formal to elegant but having them in blue uniform makes it harder for the guests to tell who the captain is. You see, from the back, it looks like a blue business suit which was fine when the captain was positioned at the entrance to the lounge, shaking hands, but when he is wandering, people, I think, do not realize he is the captain. And, I think the senior officers should be dressed differently to other management. The white uniforms looked great in photos and truly show that, yes.….he is the master of the vessel. And the good news is that, on our Carnival Journey cruises, the captain, chief engineer and hotel director will, on the flashback to 1987 elegant/formal night once again be adorned in those white formal jacket uniforms.

Would a free drink bring more people out on elegant night dressed in their Sunday best? Would people want to take more photos? Good questions and smarter people reading this and those who work for Carnival will have the answers and I appreciate, as always, your thoughts on this.

Meanwhile lets crack on with some Q and A……off we go

Cassandra Washington asks:
John: I don’t have an issue with purchasing water on board as we usually purchase distilled water each cruise.  I do however need to bring G2 aboard because I suffer with a couple if illnesses that require I keep my electrolytes in check.  IBS and SVT both require maintenance of electrolytes and being diabetic as well I cannot drink Gatorade.  G2 is a sugar free form of Gatorade.  Is there going to be exceptions for such required drinks?  Can there be exceptions for G2. I know I can’t be the only person who has to manage electrolytes but I really need to know before my 15 day cruise in November of this year. That will be too long to chance going without it and I will be asking for trouble.  Your help with this matter is appreciated.

John says:
Hello Cassandra Washington

Thanks for getting in touch with me. Although I’m not entirely up to speed on Gatorade/G2, I would ask you to please contact our special needs desk in Miami so that they can assist you in this area. If there’s anything else you need, please do let me know and have a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.

SeeBurd asks:
It appears to me and to readers of the Cruise Critic boards (still the most influential information pages in cruising) that you are often misinformed or don’t know what’s happening so you make it up as you go along. Look at the debacle with the BonVoyage liquor price which you said would not go up and then next week what do you know — it did. Then there was the “brilliant” loyalty program which was far from that and made you a laughing stock yet again, “mate.” I suggest that if you are going to continue to strut around saying you are the brand ambassador, then you should get your facts straight. If it were up to me, another member of Carnival would put your lightning back in the bottle.

John says:
Hello SeeBurd

Yep, I screwed up with the Bon Voyage thing and all, though it happened three-plus years ago now, I will once again publically apologise for that. I had asked a “beard” who told me there would be no rise and then a more senior beard decided there would be. No excuses though, it was a mistake on my part and I apologised then and will do so again now. I do my very best to pass on the information I have and will keep doing my best to help, assist and exceed the expectations of as many guests as I can both via social media and when I am on the ships. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.

Timothy Matthewson asks:
After 151 days with CCL, I have a pain I want to get rid of. It’s wasting paper (Fun Times). Love the tear off section but there is only one rip part. Could a second one be added to it so my wife and I can have room steward brings us an extra Fun Times and can guest services provide only the rip off section by itself ? They have the regular paper but I hate to tear off just that 1 section and have them get rid of the rest.

John says:
Hello Timothy Matthewson

I want to say a huge thank you for your loyalty and I hope there will be many more cruising days ahead for you. There is a new Fun Times coming, a tri-fold with a tear out meaning that you will have the best of both worlds. Also, as we roll out our shipboard app, the information on the Fun Times will be available free of charge on your mobile phone. I do hope that you will enjoy this and I will let you know when we will start with all of this. Please let me know if I can help further. Best wishes.

Kerri Spencer asks:

I am cruising for my honeymoon on October 3, 2015 on Carnival Glory. We are officially addicted to cruising! Are there any perks for those celebrating their honeymoon? We took advantage of using the wedding registry on Carnival, so hoping the family picks up on that!

John says:
Hello Kerri Spencer

Many congratulations and many thanks also for choosing Carnival for this special part of your lives. Please would you send me the cabin number a day or two before you sail on my page and I will see what I can do to make you smile. Wishing you both much happiness.

Linda Farrell asks:
John: I have posted this to you on FB and asked my Carnival cruise planner. I’d like to order bottled water in advance of my cruise, however, my question is this: is this water spring water or purified water? There is a difference. Joe, my cruise planner, called Bon Voyage and they have no idea! Thanks, John. Have a good day!

John says:
Hello Linda Farrell

The new water we will be serving is called True Essence and it is purified water. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

Julie Anne Husbands asks:
John: I have a couple of questions about an upcoming cruise. My father, sister, her boyfriend, and I are cruising on the Carnival Conquest August 2. We are wondering 1) will the new internet packages be available at that time and 2) will we be on the American Table menus, or the traditional? Thanks.

John says:
Hello Julie Ann Husbands

Your cruise will feature the new Internet plans which went live this cruise, actually. The ship will serve our standard menu, not the American Table, just yet. Please let me know if you have any further questions and I wish you a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.

Betty asks:

Hello John: First, I want to say that I am a true Carnival fan. I have been on eight Carnival cruises and two other cruises each with a different line. Carnival is by far my most favorite and is now the only line that I will cruise. That said, there is only one concern that came up on my February 2015 cruise on the Magic out of Galveston. It appears that the toilet paper is getting thinner and coarser. Have you guys changed vendors? I am looking forward to meeting you on the Bloggers Cruise February 2016 out of Galveston! Thanks for taking the time to address questions on the Blog and Facebook.

John says:
Hello Betty

Ahhh, finally a subject that I am an expert in………..toilet paper. I have to say that I have not noticed any changes in quality but I will certainly bring this to the attention of the right people and get to the bottom of this, so to speak. I can say that the texture of the paper has to be compatible with the suction toilet system we have on the ships so as not to cause a blockage of the pipes. I will be on a ship soon and will test this out personally, as well. Thanks so much for spending so many days with us on board and I do hope we see you soon. Let me check into this.
Best wishes

Libby Harsdorff asks:
Hi John. My daughter is about to take part in the National Baton Twirling Contest in Beaumont, Texas, both in the solo and pairs event. In August we will be on Carnival Magic. We have four cabins booked. I would very much like to have her show her talents to the passengers at one of the shows. I am not sure what form to bring her music on. I have it on an iPod and on disc. Hope that is OK. What night will she perform? So many questions LOL. Can your message me on _________. Would love to get this all squared away quickly, Can’t wait to cruise. Thanks

John says:
Hello Libby Harsdorff

Congratulations to your daughter, you must be very proud. I will speak to the cruise director on the ship and see if there is a spot to have your daughter perform. I make no promises as there is a full schedule of professional entertainment and there may not be a place for this. But let me ask and see what we can do and someone will be in touch when you get on the ship. Please bring both copies of the music just in case there is a place for her to do this and I wish you all a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.

That’s all for today. Thanks to everyone for all the comments and questions. I wanted to share my schedule with you for the next few months, here it is.

August 4 Fly to Miami
August 5-15 Miami offices

I will attend meetings to arrange the Bloggers Cruises. I will record video interviews with senior beards for you all to enjoy via the blog and my Facebook page. There will be meetings with the marketing department and assist them in some exciting new projects you will all be very much a part of.

August 16 – fly to the UK
August 16 – September 9 – Blog and Facebook from home
September 9-11 – I will be in Monfalcone shooting more video of your Carnival Vista and taking you inside the ship for the very first time
September 11-19 – Blog and Facebook from home
September 20-25 Fly to Miami to attend the cruise director/entertainment director conference
September 25-October 3 – Miami office, meetings and more video shoots
October 3 – Fly to New Orleans
October 4 – Join Carnival Dream for 24 days to host the first of our Carnival Journeys voyages

That’s the schedule for now. I am also going to host a Carnival Journeys cruise in November and January and am working on finalising those and will confirm them as soon as I can. Also, when I fly to Miami at the end of next week, sadly, I will have to hire and train a new personal assistant. That’s because my previous one, the lovely Emma, has decided to leave and set some roots down back in the UK. She really did a wonderful job and I will miss her and wish her nothing but happiness.

Now some of you who may be thinking, “Why does old chubby chops need a PA?” Who does he think he is, Micky Arison or Kim Kardashian?” Well, let me answer that if I may. I am very lucky that the Carnival beards allow me to have a personal assistant and over the years this has happened, I have enjoyed the company and appreciated the hard work of Ugly Craig, Stephanie Ackley, Mel de Dios, Stephanie Erb, Calvyn Shawn Champagne-Martens, Delia Brandon and Emma Charge. Those who were with me in this position are now cruise directors or knocking on the door to become one and, outside of Emma, they have all been past crew members and are all still there doing a brilliant job.

Now there are two schools of thought about the role of PAs:…… the first being that their duties should be strictly restricted to fixing appointments, making travel arrangements, screening phone calls, doing e-mails and so on. The second being that they should assist with anything and everything, up to and including washing my underpants and buying my Mum a birthday present. I thought I’d find it difficult to palm off menial tasks on someone capable of so much more, but by the end of the first day I had a PA, phrases like “Can you do me a favor?” and “Could you hold on to that?” and “A cup of tea would be nice” were tripping off my tongue as easily as “bugger and Oh FFS.” But for me it wasn’t having someone around doing menial tasks that made the real difference. The thing that made the real difference was simply having another human around. You see, I spend a lot of time alone. Yes, there were lots of people around but for most of the time I am working on my own when not at home. When I am on the ships or staying in the Intercontinentalmarriotthyatt in Miami, I am alone.

This is something that makes one prone to taking unnecessary daytime naps, having long, unnecessary conversations with anyone you can, going to bed early, talking to yourself, loneliness and watching reruns of Game of Thrones. But having a PA is not only an antidote to the isolation, not only does it mean there’s someone around to laugh at my jokes, but, crucially, it forces me to behave sanely and not spend hours with just Netflix for company. So who will my new PA be? Many years ago, two senior beards, Roger and Brendan, gave me a chance to improve myself and told me to put down my bar tray and handed me a microphone. So this time, I have decided to do the same for a crew member………..not from the entertainment department as before but from bar or food services or another on board department. I am interviewing currently and think I have made a decision and will announce the person to you all later this week.

I feel good about doing this. Whoever I choose will have a chance to travel, see so many different ships, visit your Carnival Vista in Italy and meet all the top beards plus get to work sometimes from their home with their family close by. I was given a chance and 29 years later, here I am……it’s time then for me to give someone else their chance to move forward. I hope whoever I choose will enjoy the job and I hope he or she doesn’t read the small print of their contract too carefully and notice it says they have to trim my nose hairs and rub Preparation H on my hemorrhoids.

Bet you wish you had the job………right?

Your friend,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time for today’s questions, here we go.

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

John says:
Hello Shirley

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


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

John says:
Hello Missy Reynolds.

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


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

John says:
Hello Ian Rees

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


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


John says:
Hello Cindy Larsen

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


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

John says:
Hello Chad Smith

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


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

John says:
Hello Kelly Farago

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


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

John says:
Hello Paul

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


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

John says:
Hello Breyanna Mikel

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

Best wishes


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

John says:
Hello Joe Head

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


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

John says:
Hello Kristi

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


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

John says:
Hello Claudia Crozier

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Your friend,


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time for today’s Q and A………… we go.

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

John says:
Hello Susan Corbett

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


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

Chuck Fraser

John says:
Hello Chuck Fraser

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


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

John says:
Hello Grant O’Donovan

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


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

John says:
Hello Leah Nunes

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

Best wishes


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

John says:
Hello Jaynendel Vincent

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


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

John says:
Hello Morris Freidan

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


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

John says:
Hello Charlene

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


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

John says:
Hello Harry

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Your friend,


]]> 26
Reviews, Waiters, Music……….bugger that – let’s just say it’s a blog with loads of stuff in it! Tue, 07 Jul 2015 21:45:13 +0000 Continue reading ]]> I have never been able to understand anyone of the male species who purchases something for practical reasons. I imagine him to have far too much time on his hands and most likely he is wearing a pair of sandals. How can they spend an entire morning reading online reviews of washing machines? But even worse, who the sodding heck can be bothered to write an online review of a washing machine? They’re all the same. They’re white and boxy and after they’ve finished making your underpants clean, they beep, telling your wife it’s time to empty it and put it in the other white boxy thing next to it that dries the underpants so they are ready to wear for another week or two.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John says:
Hello Barbara Grey

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


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

John says:
Hello David Newman

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


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

Craig Tompkins

13 Carnival Cruises

John says:
Hello Craig Tompkins

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


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

John says:
Hello Lynn Corbyn

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


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

John says:
Hello Marsha Kirby

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


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

John says:
Hello Mayte Cardenas

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


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

John says:
Hello Todd Lehman

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

Best wishes.


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

John says:
Hello Kathy Mara

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


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

John says:
Hello Tim Hennessey

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your friend,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John says:
Hello Tori

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


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

John says:
Hello Eric Dobusin

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


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

John says:
Hello Peter Manzi

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


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

John says:
Hello Stewart Hicks

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


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

John says:
Hello Laura Sergent

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


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

John says:
Hello Michelle Jones

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


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

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

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

John says:
Hello Lainey

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


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

John says:
Hello Jacinda Collymore

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


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

John says:
Hello Anna Hoult

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 You must do the following

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Your friend,



]]> 18
My Dad’s Drawers Tue, 23 Jun 2015 15:25:42 +0000 Continue reading ]]> I know this is supposed to be a cruise-related blog and for people clicking on this page for the first time, I welcome you and assure you cruise-related business is the normal conversation here and I will return to it a bit later in this episode.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers, Dad…………..I miss you.

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

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

John says:
Hello Lance Hansen

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


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

John says:
Hello Javier Vega

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


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

John says:
Hello Terry

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


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

John says:
Hello Julie Elkin

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


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

John says:
Hello Max Wooten

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


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

John says:
Hello Dana

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


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

John says:
Hello Carol O

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


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

John says:
Hello Dustin McCoy

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


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

John says:
Hello Karen Sykes

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


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

John says:
Hello Pat Piscopo

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


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

John says:
Hello Frank Albauer

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

Best wishes.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Your friend,


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