What's Next

October 3, 2008 -

John Heald

On average during a 12-day cruise, I receive 150 letters. Most are dedications. Some are comments. A few are complaints and then there ones that fall into the category of “what the hell are you telling me this for”?

Here is such a letter.

I read this letter at the Morning Show a few days ago and it was one of those moments where you think “Bugger, I should have read this before I went live.” However, it has had a profound effect on many guests and I have had “super glue comments” wherever I turn…….all from women…….who have written to me and told me in person that along with the milk, yogurt and Pop Tarts……they will now be putting two tubes of super glue in their fridge at home.

Honestly, wherever I walk on this cruise, I am inundated with snide and sarcastic comments from ladies — and even Heidi has said she is going to adopt the “super glue warning” in our fridge here in the cabin. Anyway, the super glue letter has become iconic and if you see a spike in sales of the sticky stuff next week……..you will know why.

And so instead of sitting off the coast of Cannes, France, we are sailing gently along under patchy sunshine and through white-topped waves. The guests have been fantastic ……..I mean really fantastic and, although many are disappointed, apart from Mr. ABCNBCCBSFOX who, even if I had the entire cast of Grey’s Anatothingy perform live in his cabin, would still be a miserable old sod.

The guests seem to be relaxed and although as I said, many are disappointed at missing the port, it seems just as many are happy to have an extra day at sea. One way of knowing this for sure was that the ship was very quiet this morning with breakfast on Lido only getting really busy between 10:30 am and 11:30 am. The only………and I stress……..the only negative comment we have received apart from the one from Mr.ABCNBCCBSFOX is this one.

Guest: Mr ————Ref: 002805050A ————
Cabin: _____Booking#: ________Added-Changed: 10/02/08 – 10/02/08


Mr. __________came to the desk to say that he was angry and upset that the ship would not be calling at Cannes. Guest said that he had this list and he showed purser a piece of paper that had a list of places around the world. Guest said that this was his “Bucket of Lists” and that Monte Carlo was on the list. Mr. __________ said that Carnival should pay for him and his wife to go to Monte Carlo from the next port. Purser explained that the ship canceled the port because of safety and that we were not responsible. Guest then started to get angry and demand to speak to supervisor. Purser said that his comments would be noted. Guest said that he would be speaking to the captain and wanted transportation to be provided to Monte Carlo. Guest then used bad language and swear wording so purser asked guest to please calm down. Guest then left. E-mail sent to hotel director, chief purser, captain and cruise director.

Well, I think the wonderful Russian purser was not familiar with the word Bucket List…………..although I love the interpretation of “Bucket of Lists.” This chap honestly believes that we are going to pay for him to fly to Monte Carlo from Livorno, Italy, tomorrow. Bugger it, lets do it and if the Pyramids are on the list then we will fly him to Egypt afterwards. Anyway, I met with him today and he showed me his list………….Egypt was not on there and while he ranted and raved about missing Cannes, I studied his list which included Australia, Kenya and bizarrely……Guantanamo Bay!

Anyway, I gently explained that we would not be helping him by paying for his transportation but if he wished us to help him book flights and disembark in Livorno, we could. I guess he didn’t need the help because he snatched the list of the table and Mr. Bucket buggered off.

But, he has been the only one and all day today, at the coffee bar, at the shows and events guests have been supportive and happy……..that’s brilliant.

I am so behind with posting the photos so let’s get cracking with some of Vesuvius and Pompeii.

Scenic Naples from the top of Mt. Vesuvius, and you can see the ship from here!

Scenic Naples from the top of Mt. Vesuvius, and you can see the ship from here!

Inside the crater of Mt. Vesuvius

Inside the crater of Mt. Vesuvius

Inside the crater of Mt. Vesuvius

At Pompeii, Troy’s Cathedral where they sacrificed animals to the Gods

At Pompeii, Troy’s Cathedral where they sacrificed animals to the Gods

The town hall or main square in Pompeii

The forum, where the main marketplace stood

These are the plaster molds they did of the cavities where the ash encased the dying people when the mountain erupted. The first is of the ONLY dog found left behind in Pompeii, and the second is of a man covering his face as he ran away. Can’t you FEEL the emotion there in both bodies?!!?

The men’s bath house, with all the ORIGINAL paintings, figurines and wall decorations.

This is the most well-preserved part of Pompeii, a bakery. You can see the oven in the background and the wheat grinder at the foreground that donkeys used to turn to make bread. They found exactly 60 loaves at the excavation in 1880!

Here I am touching flooring from the best preserved house in Pompeii that dates back to 200 B.C.!!!!! OVER 2000 YEARS OLD!

The best of both tours in one picture: Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii with the watch tower in the foreground

My thanks to Lauren for those awesome images.

OK, let’s talk about some my favorite ships, the Carnival Triumph, Carnival Destiny and Carnival Liberty. Here is some brilliant news about these fantastic vessels. Have a look at this.


A Number of Cabins on Carnival Destiny, Carnival Triumph, Carnival Liberty to be Retrofitted With Balconies; New Deluxe Penthouse Suites to be Added to Carnival Liberty

MIAMI (October 3, 2008 ) – Underscoring the tremendous popularity of its balcony staterooms, Carnival Cruise Lines will add balconies to a number of cabins on three ships during upcoming dry docks over the next few months.
Staterooms on the Carnival Destiny, Carnival Triumph and Carnival Liberty that currently feature floor-to-ceiling windows will be retrofitted with private balconies, creating a total of 48 additional 230-square-foot verandah staterooms on these vessels.
Additionally, two new 750-square-foot “deluxe penthouse suites” – nearly double the size of the largest staterooms in the fleet – will be added to the Carnival Liberty.
“Balcony staterooms continue to be in great demand – in fact, they’re often the first cabin category to sell out,” said Ruben Rodriguez, Carnival’s executive vice president of marketing and guest experience. “Therefore, we are pleased to incorporate additional balcony staterooms on Carnival Destiny, Carnival Triumph and Carnival Liberty, which will offer guests their own private, relaxing venue for viewing magnificent ocean vistas and scenery,” he added.
Like all “Fun Ship” accommodations, the new balcony staterooms on the Carnival Destiny, Carnival Triumph and Carnival Liberty will offer a host of in-cabin amenities, including the popular Carnival Comfort Bed sleep system with plush mattresses, luxurious duvets and high quality linens and pillows.
Carnival balcony accommodations also include soft terrycloth robes for guest use during their cruise, as well as satellite television, mini bars, hair dryers, ample closet space, and in-cabin amenity kits with a wide array of brand-name products.
The two new 750-square-foot “deluxe penthouse suites” on the Carnival Liberty will be largest in the “Fun Ship” fleet by far and feature a new cabin configuration with a separate bedroom, expansive living area, and two full bathrooms, including one with a bathtub tub.
Located on the ship’s forward section on Deck 9, the deluxe penthouse suites can accommodate up to five guests – rare in cruise industry staterooms – and include two twin beds that convert to a king, a sofa bed and two pull-down upper beds.
The 2,642-passenger Carnival Destiny began a new program of year-round four- and five-day Caribbean cruises from Miami last week.
The 2,758-passenger Carnival Triumph will continue its seven-day Caribbean schedule from Miami through next summer then sail on a series of Canada/New England voyages from New York before repositioning to New Orleans to launch year-round four-, five-, and seven-day Caribbean service in November 2009.
The 2,974-passenger Carnival Liberty, which currently operates seven-day Caribbean cruises from Miami, will reposition to Europe next summer to operate 12-day voyages to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. The ship will resume its weeklong Caribbean program from Miami in December 2009.
The new balcony staterooms on these three vessels will be available for sale on October 3, 2008.
Carnival Destiny, Carnival Triumph and Carnival Liberty are part of the line’s 22- vessel “Fun Ship” fleet which operates three- to 18-day voyages to The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, the Panama Canal, Canada, New England, Bermuda, Europe and South America. The line has two new ships scheduled to enter service between now and 2011.
For additional information and reservations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com.

With these new additions, these three ships are going to be something very, very special. I hope to go and write about them soon.

Well, our stores will be arriving tomorrow in Livorno and among the many containers of food, drink, provisions and toilet paper will be our Halloween supplies. Carnival has the best Halloween parties at sea…….bar none. And not just on Halloween night but for two weeks leading up to the event, with contests, prizes and lots of surprises. In fact, some of the ships will be starting next week and I know that the entertainment team has put a lot of effort into making this a great event.

However, I have to admit I am not a big Halloween fan. I hate dressing up and it’s even though it is an American thing, it has been brought over to the UK to sell more “merchandise” and, worst of all…………. I have to meet my neighbors.

I guess I also don’t understand that having put the fear of God into kids about the dangers of talking to strangers and taking candy off them during the rest of the year, they are then dispatched around the town to knock on strange doors and demand a fist full of chocolate.

Last year, I was home in my little house and had to “greet” the trick or treaters. Heidi was out but had left a huge tub of sweet stuff by the front door and had lit up a couple of carved pumpkins by the gate. ……. I hate answering the door, anyway.

I’m trying to think of the last time that I answered it to anything that resembled good news. It’s always some dodgy youth looking for “gardening” work, somebody selling something you already have, people asking for money, someone from the church, a man selling big boxes of “organic” frozen food (who knows that if he gets Heidi, she’ll buy these from him but he knows when I open the door he’s getting bugger all)……… nope, there’s nothing but bad news comes to my door.

The idea, therefore, of me having to disturb my evening of watching TV to let gangs of kids’ size up my place for burglary purposes while I handed them free sugar was too much.

I nodded away as Heidi left her instructions, with one eye on the telly because Grey’s Anatomy was on and I had missed the last episode because the bastard cruise director on the ship we were on refused to play it…

“Yes” I’d listen out for the bell, I said, “Don’t worry, goodbye, have a nice time…” The moment she was gone I scuttled out of the house, blew out the candles in our pumpkins and turned the outside light off. Back inside I extinguished all the house lights but one and closed the curtains.

I was safe and cozy and happy. I cracked open a fine bottle of Diet Coke and settled down for some peace and quiet. Ten minutes later there was an almighty hammering on my door. I ignored it but it got louder and I could hear a kid screaming, “Trick or treat.”

I suddenly got paranoid about what they might do to if I ignored them and I caved in – I opened the door to a gaggle of witches and skeletons and one kid who couldn’t make his mind up what to be and was dressed half as Batman and half as Superman………he was Superbat……….all were screaming at me – “Where’s your candy? Give us treats.”

I handed over the bucket and their clammy little hands dived in greedily. That was it. I wasn’t answering the door again and they had taken enough booty for me to be able to convince Heidi that loads of people had come round and we had been the perfect neighbors.

I flopped out on to my beloved sofa – Grey’s thingy had finished and I was now watching an old episode of the Love Boat and, just as Julie McCoy was about to show Oscar the bartender her clipboard……. the knocking started again.

I ignored it. It got louder and louder – about seven or eight pairs of devil hands hammering on my poor door. “Bugger off,” I thought. I tried to concentrate Julie — whose skirt was as short as an Italian limo driver’s — but the noise got louder. Eventually I peered out of a side window – it was the same damn kids.

I briefly thought about going upstairs and pouring the remains of the Diet Coke over them but instead I bravely hid behind the front door and started shouting at them: “Bugger off, you little bastards, you’ve had enough, I’m warning you…”

I’d totally lost it. Then the doorbell started ringing. I flung open the door and let rip.

“If you little sods don’t bugger off right now I’m going to give your bottoms the good news with my cricket bat.” Then I noticed a parent among them, looking at me in total amazement.

“You shut the door before the kids had chance to sing their ‘thank you song.’”

I was so ashamed. I stood there, apologized and listened as 10 kids aged five to 10 sang a thank you song to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”

I hate Halloween…………..but if you want to celebrate it like never before……….come and take a cruise with us.

Time for more photos.

Let’s go back to Italy and the beautiful town of Sorrento.

Another day. Another chart listing the best films ever made this one by the BBC.

They included at number four — something called The Third Man, which I couldn’t for the life of me work out why. When I saw it, the movie seemed to be about a man who went to see a friend, who was dead.

In third place it was Brief Encounter in which a man meets a woman in a railway station, and in second we had David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia, which was about a gay man who rides a camel round the desert. And then crashes his motorbike and dies. It took David Lean 141 minutes just to get Peter O’Toole’s camel from one side of a sand dune to the other…………..yawn.

As number one it was Citizen Kane which I would love to tell you about but I have never seen it. Where, though, is The Godfather, Star Wars and Mary Kate and Ashley’s Sensational Mystery co-starring …ummm….me.

Of course, I know these surveys are supposed to prompt debate. I know that listing the top 10 coolest windmills and the top 10 animals with the smelliest bottoms are all meant to be the start of an argument, not the end.

However, there is one list that you can’t argue with……………the leading cruise lines of the world………….here they are on their splendid new Web site.


Who knows……..membership of this exclusive club is still open…..I wonder who will join us next?
Let’s catch up with Chris “Bubba” Roberts who as you may know is on his way to Hawaii on board the Carnival Spirit. Here is his latest report.

The Hawaii Reposition Sea Day 3

Well, this morning we reached the point of no return with no problems…we are now closer to Hawaii than the main land. Got up this morning and looked out the window and there was this bright shiny object in the sky and I had to advert my eyes…we finally found the sun and, if by magic, the temperature was no longer cold. The wind has not let up yet….so there’s still a strong breeze blowing across the deck. The ship still has its gentle rock happening because of the wind. But nothing too strong.

I sat down in front of my computer this morning and found an entire day’s e-mail waiting for me as we are now five hours behind Miami, so the office was busy sending e-mails around. I got about two e-mails into the day and the phone started ringing. It was the chief of security telling me to come to the crew bar as I was late for a security drill. To be honest, I knew about the drill, but wasn’t really sure if I was supposed to. But since they called me, I decided to go. The reason why I wasn’t sure if I was going because in any and all drills, here are my responsibilities…..

In case of fire – report to bridge for announcements
In case of man overboard – report to the bridge for announcements
In case of medical emergency – report to the bridge for announcements
In case of collision or major damage – report to the bridge for announcements
In case of power failure – report to the bridge and yell really loud.

So, as you can see, in all situations I have the same responsibilities. So when I get called to these I am not always expected to turn up since I have to do the same thing in all scenarios. So today’s drill was a security drill where we discussed what to do in the case of certain scenarios. So I got to listen to the staff captain tell all of the deck officers and department heads what the procedures we follow for those events.

Once that was done I headed back to the computer to finish what I started. Once I got through the morning e-mail. It was back to the Caper grind. I had to rearrange the final sea day schedule because the HD and I decided we were going to try something different for the repeaters party.

Normally, the repeaters parties are done pre-dinner with cocktail and dancing music. But after having a chat the other day with the HD and the bar manager we are going to try doing the party in the afternoon to give it a different feel. So needed to just make some adjustment to the other activities to fit the party in. We have about 1,100 past guests sailing with us during this voyage.

So the decks were pretty lively today. People seemed to be very relaxed and enjoying themselves.

We were able to run the Chicken Olympics today since yesterday the deck was too wet. It went over pretty well and tomorrow we have alligator wrestling which is one of my favorites. Today I got to host the Newlywed & Not So Newlywed Game which is always fun. Today our newest newlyweds had a great story. They got married here on the Spirit in Vancouver prior to our departure. The first question I asked is “Where and when did you first meet?” Their answer was cool because they had met on the Carnival Spirit in 2005…and decided to come back and tie the knot. I thought that was pretty cool.

Other behind the scenes highlights included trying to resolve an issue in some of the entertainment cabins of the A/C was not working so well. I guess now that we are in warmer weather the temperature on the ship is getting harder to control. It only seems to affect the dancer’s corridor and some of the staff who are in the same area. I got a hold of the chief refrigeration officer and he told me that they will come and have a look tomorrow in all of the cabins that were having problems. Cruise director’s job is not always glamorous…sometimes we are the entertainer, sometimes we are the superintendent.

Tonight is Hawaiian Dress night. Hoping to get everyone in the mood. So everyone is out in their Hawaiian best. We are having a little cocktail party along the promenade and live music. It’s nice seeing everyone getting involved in the party.

Right now I am sitting backstage during the show. Tonight our very talent production singer Rudy Lowe is performing his own show. It’s a tribute to some classic R&B. Lou Rawls, Ben E King, Barry White & more. The people are eating it up! Rudy is one of our longest running production singers.

Not only can he sing and dance….but he can work that crowd. It’s such a pleasure to see him do his thing. Tapping my toes to “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine.” It’s one of my favorites.

The days are going by pretty quick. We’ll be in the islands soon. Just two more days. Aloha for now. We’ll let you know how sea day 4 progress.

If you have never sailed to Alaska, Hawaii or indeed with Bubba then I encourage you to do so…The Carnival Spirit, Alaska and Hawaii and Bubba….that’s a recipe everyone should try.

Twenty-one years ago I walked up the gangway of the M/S Holiday into a world I knew nothing about. Not just because I had lied in my interview by saying I knew everything about wine and cocktails, but the world of cruising…..something I had absolutely no contact with in my 22 years.

As the years went by, I left the bar department and discovered something called a microphone. This was also a foreign object to me — and at first I tried to be the same as others I had seen using it………and I failed. Then, I realized that it just made my voice louder and I relaxed, was myself and……….people responded with laughter.

And so, I became a cruise director and at that time it would have been easier for me to join the Chippendales. Cruise directors didn’t look like me. They were handsome or beautiful or both. They sang, made things disappear, juggled, danced or all of the above. Cruise directors were not ugly looking ex-bar waiters who were less talented than a table lamp. Yet, someone gave me a chance — and now 90 percent of our cruise directors are not necessarily from an entertainment background………in fact, this is now industry wide and I am sure most cruise lines have top cruise directors who do not have a specific “act.”

And so, my journey has been one of fun and each and everyday I pinch myself as a reminder that I am the luckiest sod in the world.

Why am I talking like this?

Well, I have been asked to spend the next few months helping Carnival, the company I adore…….the company that gave me a chance to find the entertainer that was hidden under the ribs and pies…..Carnival………the cruise line that leads the industry ………. the cruise line we all love………… have asked me to spend the next few months working on a number of exciting projects.

Now, I can’t tell you too much about what I’ll be doing but it’s part of an initiative that will ensure Carnival remains yours — and everyone else’s — favorite cruise line in the world.

The fact that I have been asked to participate in these projects is a very proud moment in my career and, as you can see, I will also be doing lots of other things, including sailing on the Fantasy to plan the best Bloggers Cruise in the world. It also includes being part of a team that will enhance the onboard product.

You will be with me every single step of the way. I will blog each and every day. You will be the first to hear all the news about what is happening. I promise that I will keep you up to date daily on what’s happening in the fleet…..the blog will continue in every way, shape and form and with the addition of a new and exciting look behind the scenes.

Obviously, I am very concerned about leaving the vessel before the crossing. Oh, the ship will be fine without me, it’s not that. It’s the people who were looking forward to sailing with me on the final Greece/Turkey cruise and the crossing. I am so very sorry we cannot be together…………I truly am.

But I serve at the pleasure of the company and this was an opportunity to which I could not say no.

What about next year? Well, that also is rather complicated. I will be coming back in January where I will be starting my Carnival Caribbean tour sailing on as many ships as I can. Not only will I be blogging every day on the product and the people but also helping launch some of the new events that will involve you……….yes, you…………as one of the many new initiatives that have been specially designed for the bloggers.

Then, I have the Bloggers Cruise which we now have the hotel, the charity and the timetable set for. Stephanie will be posting this information in the next 48 hours….I promise. I know I have been dragging my feet on this and I am sorry but the red tape thingy has buggered off and we are set to go. Stephanie will be advising you about this shortly. I can tell you now….it’s going to be an unbelievable five days…….it’s not too late to join us.

Then, after the Bloggers Cruise I will continue my Caribbean journey returning home to the UK sometime in early April.

I wanted to be on the Carnival Liberty as she begins her journey from Miami to Dover to start the 2009 Baltic season. This, though, will not be possible as I will explain in a moment.

I am though a cruise director and the plan is to rejoin the Carnival Liberty in June/July for the remainder of the season. I have no idea what Carnival has planned for me but I hope at least one more time I will be able to return to the stage and spend six months onboard doing what I love.
So, there you have it. I will still blog each and every day……..even the days when I sit at home on my well-proportioned bottom doing bugger all. ……I hope this is what you want.

Oh, by the way…………..remember the super glue letter. Well, I just looked in the fridge and Heidi has indeed lived up to her promise and there is super glue as a warning …….. that’s bad enough………. but I am really upset because instead of two whole tubes …….Heidi has only half a tube ………………and she says she will still have some to spare…………….Bugger.

Still, she can’t say too much because …………….she’s pregnant.

Yep……..you are all going to be aunties and uncles…………….on May 15 we are going to have a little……ummmm…..thingy.
Your friends
John, Heidi and ?

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.