The Price of Fame

June 1, 2009 -

John Heald

I think it’s because I have hosted hundreds of talent shows onboard over the last 17 years that I have been a cruise director that the thought of watching similar shows on TV has always made me feel like vomiting. Also, I think my hatred of American/British Idol type shows is that, unlike our talent shows on the ships where everyone is a winner, I hate the sight of grown men and women reduced to tears by Simon Bowell and the gang when they are told………….they are crap!

OK……..yes………..I admit that there have been times onboard in the talent shows when I have had to walk out on stage telling the audience how wonderful Sarah from California was with her version of “I Will Always Love You” even though there were dogs howling around the Caribbean …………..and I have to admit that if I ever have to hear “Wind beneath My Bloody Wings” ever again I may have to hurt someone with the microphone.

The worst acts do stay in your mind forever though ………like the man who at rehearsal said he was going to sing “My Way” but between then and the show got so drunk that he walked up on stage and told the audience “Mmmyyyyyyy wiiiffeeee issss a bitch.” …….. myself and Jordan the musical director escorted him of the stage. Or………there was the reason why we don’t allow stand up comedy by guests in the show when a chap …… despite warnings and hearing the material at rehearsal……..decided to add in a joke about a nun and a taxi driver …….and I spent the rest of the cruise apologizing to the guests, the associate union of taxi drivers……….and the Pope.

Saying all of this though I have this week been watching Britain’s Got Talent because ….. it’s the law. It’s as good a way as any to waste an hour and a half of your evening – it beats, say, blow torching your nipples off or gouging your eyes out with a toothpick. Some of the acts are very good and some have the talent of a dead skunk … but nonetheless I watched these people perform and pay for Simon Cowell’s new Rolls Royce Phantom.

And then there is Susan Boyle, though why she should come as a surprise to anyone is beyond me. The world is full of people like Susan Boyle. I saw 100 Susan Boyles perform on the ships in our talent shows – people whose talents have never been realized because they aren’t good looking and haven’t been near a pair of tweezers for many years. To me it shows that in the world of entertainment if you are beautiful and sexy and have legs that go all the way to heaven and back……..and you can sing………it comes as no surprise. However……..put an ugly or overweight person on stage and they can sing …….well the judges are shocked and surprised………would Susan Boyle have been a hit if she looked like Angelina Jolie …………….probably not.

Anyway, I actually spent $1 today and voted for Susan as did millions of others….. but in the end ………she lost to a bunch of hippy hoppy break dancers who do exactly what out G Force (Fun Force) have been doing onboard for some time.

And so the nation is in shock……Susan Boyle lost and now I am sure the wonderful British press who have built her up and watched as she sang for Oprah will now destroy her as they love to do. Look out for stories that she is a Madam of a Vice Den who goes by the name Susan Whiplash or that she is part of a cult that believes sheep will one day rule the earth. I am sure she will get the recording contract she deserves but at what cost?

She was probably happy in her little house in Scotland, pottering about making porridge and singing at her local church. But now she will be watched by millions some of whom are hoping that the paparazzi who are constantly outside her door will snap a photo of her shaving her legs with a lawn mower. Fame costs…….and lets hope that this lovely lady does not pay too high a price for it as she has already been admitted to the Priory Clinic in London suffering from “exhaustion”…….and of course the paparazzi bastards are already hovering like vultures outside……Oh and one more thing that to me sums up how mad the world we live in is…….I just watched the morning news on Sky (Fox) and the leading story was that Susan Boyle didn’t win and that she is in a clinic….. on which the news spent at least 10 minutes…….this was followed by a very brief message that two young British soldiers had been killed by a road side bomb in Afghanistan …. I have no words.

Lets do some questions…… we go

Marsha Breen Asked:

Kye is sooooo cute!!!!! We love to see her photos everyday – keep them coming.
In today’s blog you answered a question from Myra (Mickeyspal) asking about how to get invited to the Captain’s table and a previous poster (Ann) who has posted this question to you. Ann was asking if arrangements could be made for 3 people who are sailing on the Legend on 5/31/09 who are currently serving in our Armed Forces, to sit at the Captain’s table. Since you state it is arranged by the Hotel Director, would Ann be able to contact the Hotel Director on the Legend to possibly arrange this???
Second question/comment: You printed a quote in today’s blog by Terry Thornton regarding the cancellation of Mexican ports and stating ” At that time, we advised all existing bookings about the itinerary change and offered the opportunity to cancel without penalty.” We are sailing on Legend on May 31st and we were never contacted (nor the other parties travelling with us) until yesterday when we received a voicemail message stating that our Cozumel stop was cancelled. Since I am an avid follower of your blog, I obviously knew what had happened prior to yesterday, but technically we were not “notified” by letter, email, call from our PVP, etc. until yesterday (5 days prior to sailing). I just wanted to share this info as Carnival may or may not be interested in the fact that not everyone was properly notified of the port changes. Of course we are still going to go on our cruise and have a great time together, but I am disappointed that we were never properly notified.
Keep up the great work!!!

John Says:
Hello Marsha
Thank you, Kye is cute and so takes after me don’t you think?
Thanks for letting me confirm what I wrote about the captain’s table. It is the hotel director who sends the invitations out to people requesting them to dine with the captain but these people have been previously chosen by people ashore in our head office in Miami. The HD will get the list of VIP’s and then send out the invitations. He will then visits with the captain and explain who will be dining with him. So, unfortunately I cannot help here although people who have and are serving in the military are certainly as deserved of this as anyone………my apologies. Anyway, the ship is aware of the service people who are sailing and a special meeting and photo has been set up by Jen Baxter the cruise director.
With regard to your second comment regarding the message about our itinerary changes, I’ll have to look into this and let you know as I believe everyone was notified in advance. I am very sorry and I promise we will look into this. Being away from the office and the ships is difficult because I literally have to hunt around for information as sometimes I am not copied on e-mails, etc. When I am, I try to get the message out to you all as soon as I can.
My best wishes to you and the family

Diane McDonald Asked:

Hi John, (please reply)
If there is ever a picture that needs to be download and preserved for Kye, when she grows up, it is the 2:05 AM picture. You have captured the love between a mother and child (priceless).
Happy B’day to your Mum!
Just returned from a cruise on the Miracle out of NY. This is our 4th out of NY on Carnival and I couldn’t believe the change in embarking. What a pleasure. They have dressed up the embarking area and are now boarding by deck. I did let many Carnival employees at the pier know that the changes were for the positive and they appreciated the feed back.
On to the ship, the Miracle’s staff is far superior to any cruise we have sailed on and we have sailed on 15 cruises (Carnival, Celebrity and Princess and RCCL). They were visible and always interacting with the passengers.
The food was the best we have had on any of the cruises.
For those who want to bring laptop’s onboard because the ship is all WiFi, using your personal laptop to go out to the internet has a very slow turn around time (eats your minutes), yet the computers that are in the library are faster than any of the other cruises we’ve been on.
Disembarking was the usual nightmare. I was curious as to why, so I asked one of staff at the gangway. The answer is Customs. If you taking your luggage off personally and are waiting in long lines, it because customs tells the Carnival disembarking staff when to let a group of people off and how many passengers. Customs is in charge, as they should be. While this is happening, the luggage in the halls that was picked-up the night before is being brought to the terminal, being cleared by customs and sorted by zone. Knowing this didn’t make the process go quicker, but it did help me to understand there is nothing that Carnival can do to speed up the process.
John, I’m taking this off – line. There is a definite problem with mold on the AFT 6 and 7th floor hallways. Room Stewarts may not be able to see it, but trust me it is there. It maybe lurking under the carpets! Please get someone to look into this. Our two suites were forward, but we used the hallways to get from point A to point B and the mold smell was continuously there. Fortunately, the five of us don’t have allergies, but many passengers do and this should be looked into. Someone with Asthma could be sent into a serious asthma attack if one of their triggers is mold.
The best to you and your wonderful family!

John Says:

Hello Diane
I loved that photo too Diane and I just snapped it with my raspberry and it’s now my screensaver…..replacing Jessica Simpson wearing a tight pair of denim shorts and boots washing a Ferrari. Great news about the Carnival Miracle and your positive comments are a joy to read and ones I will pass on to the ship… I especially enjoyed reading how visible the crew were and the comments about the terminal were also good to hear.
It was just as good to read your comments about the deck 6 and 7 concerns. I am not sure exactly what the problem is or was but I have passed this straight onto the ship and our vice president of housekeeping and guest accommodation for his investigation. I will let you know what transpires
Thanks again for the review and I hope that we will see you soon on another Carnival “Fun Ship.”
Best wishes

steveaaaaa Asked:

John, please reply.
A recent blog posting of yours ended up on cruise critic and it was still not clear to some of us and I am hoping you could end a long running debate regarding auto-tips.
The CCL website states…
For your convenience, we automatically charge the gratuities for dining and stateroom staff to your onboard Sail & Sign account. The total amount is $10.00 per guest, per day (our recommended guideline) as follows:
$ 3.50 per Day Stateroom Services
$ 5.50 per Day Dining Room Services
So my question/s is…….At the end of the cruise using the auto-tip method from my Amex credit card, does the room steward get the whole $3.50 per day per person and does my waiter and the assistant waiter get the whole $5.50? Because your website uses the terms “Housekeeping services” and “Dining room services” and not the term “room steward” and waiter/asst. waiter respectively.
So, are deductions for the fees associated with an Amex card or other credit card deducted from the auto-tip and whether there are floor supervisors or chief housekeepers, ECT also getting a small percentage from the $10 per day?
Thank you in advance

John Says:

Hello Steve
Sorry if I was not clear in my earlier answer but I will try to be this time. The tipping amounts of $3.50 and $ 5.50 per day per person are paid 100% with no deductions only to the service staff and not in any way shape or form to supervisors, management or anyone else at Carnival. Any fees associated with using Amex or another credit card are enveloped by the company and not deducted at all from the service staffs gratuities. What you kindly pay is what they receive…….the end.
I hope this clarifies your concerns but if not please let me know and I will be happy to help in anyway I can. My apologies for not being clear before.
Best wishes

Kenny Randolph Asked:

John, (please reply)
Just curious that there has been no talk of the boy who went overboard on the Fantasy last week or so. I am sure that you can’t say anything specific about the case but how about a few comments regarding how to keep passengers on board the ship?

John Says:

Hello Kenny:
Obviously when situations like this happen it is so very sad. Also, it is difficult for me to write about these situations in greater detail but it certainly was a tragedy to hear that someone so young had lost their life during a vacation that was supposed to be fun and relaxing yet has ended is such pain and deep never ending sorrow for the family.
Regarding your question about staying safe on a cruise ship, I can say that the railings on the open deck – which are 44 inches high by the way – are there for a purpose and the results of not taking them seriously are disastrous. I also want to say that I have been at sea for 22 years this August and only more recently have we started to read about people who have come onboard and purposely ending their lives while at sea. That aside ……..simply stay deck side of the railings and the cruise industry will continue to provide the safest way to travel.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family ……….and let us also not forget the people who are missing on the Air France flight from Brazil…………they and their families are in our thoughts as well
Best wishes to you Kenny and your family

hopingtomakethisyearsbloggerscruise Asked:

Why is it that Suzanne got the looks in your family, while you got the flatulencies?
On the topic of your moving to the big city, RATS. I was going to ask to stay with you guys in the country after we either flew over to take the QM2 back or verse visa. Still, I think it is a great move for Heidi – she can use the support systems that are not always available when your house is closer to France than it is to England.
Here’s hopin’ to see you soon enough – it may only be for a brief moment, unless I can get my dream two day contract as the Assistant to the Assistant Cruise Director for the Carnival Dream’s two day cruise to nowhere out of NYC.
Blog with you soon.

John Says:

It was not an easy choice to make …….the barn was our dream home but it was purchased before that night on the desk when Kye was conceived and thus Heidi and a new baby living in the middle of nowhere was just not practical. I hope I do get to see you and Mrs MTSFP this year. It would be great to see your smiling face beneath your funnel hat again.
I will be on the Carnival Dream for the two-day cruise and I hope you will be as well
Best wishes

Michael Tomlinson Asked:

John, (Please reply if you would like)
I love reading your blog everyday…..I also love hearing the stories about your two beautiful ladies. You have a wonderful family. My wife and I and our two sons sailed on Fantasy in October of 2006. A lot of her family also cruised with us on that cruise. There were 13 of us in all. It was a vacation that I will never forget. My wife was in remission from ovarian cancer and the cruise was our first….I had been on two cruises before I met my wife back in 1977 and 1978….We had always talked about going on a cruise but the time never seemed right until her remission from cancer. The cancer returned in March of 2007 and she passed away in May of 2007. We had been married 27 years.
In May of 2008 some friends of mine asked if I wanted to join them on a cruise out of New Orleans in June of 2008. While it had been over a year since my wife had passed away, my youngest son and I decided to go with them. He was 17 at the time. I currently live in Jacksonville, FL and my friends live in Birmingham, AL so we do not get to see each other much. We are all from New Orleans and we all have family still living there so we were able to visit with family before going on the 5 day cruise. This cruise was also wonderful. My friends and I have decided that we are going to go on at least one cruise a year. We are leaving on May 30 on the Liberty out of Miami for a 7 day cruise. We are already talking about going on the Dream in 2010…..
As you can imagine I cannot say how much it means to me that my friends are including me and my son on their cruises each year….If it was not for them, I may have never cruised again. They are some very special friends. They will be in cabin — and their last name is —–….It would be wonderful if you could have something special sent to their cabin. Their grown daughter is also joining us on the cruise. My son and I will be in cabin —-.
Thanks for all that you do to make people happy.
Mike Tomlinson

John Says:

Hello Mike
I am so glad you enjoy the blog and I hope it continues to bring you some laughter and some good information. I am sure laughter must not come easy and I wish I could write something now that will help ease the pain of losing your beautiful wife after 27 years of happiness. All I can say is that I hope you have some wonderful memories of your cruise with her and her beloved family and please know that each of the many thousands of people who are reading this will be thinking of you as I am.
I am sure that the following cruise was one of mixed emotion and I know that as I write this you are boarding the Carnival Liberty for another “Fun Ship” vacation. I know you will all have a great time and I will of course send them something as you requested.
Please write when you get home and tell us about the fun you had
Best wishes to you all

Bill Russell Asked:

John, (Please Reply)
It’s been about a month or so that I told you that after 5 cruises on Carnival I was not getting the Carnival Currents.
You said that you would have it sent as well as the past year. Never happened.
Bill Russell

John Says:

Hello Bill
I was in a pretty good mood until I read this. All I can say is sorry and that I promise that I will investigate this personally and make sure you get the copies and back copies as well
This is not good enough and I am sincerely sorry

Jake Silverberg Asked:

Are you really considering leaving?

John Says:

Hello Jake
No mate…….it was a silly joke…….unless Simon Cowell offers me a job or Carnival fires me for being too ugly, I will be here for as long as I can
Hope you are well mate

That’s all for today……………..oh………………except these two.

Jeff Taylor Asked:
Hello John, Please reply. Do you know who will be the CD on the Pride in July?? We sail on the 24th of July. Thanks a bunch.

John Says:
Hello Jeff
Thanks for writing and I am happy to tell you that the cruise director for your cruise on the Carnival Pride will be Dan Ghilardcucci who is one of young and upcoming stars. I have yet to meet him but reports are that he is very funny and I know he will give you a fun time. Please let me know what you think when you get home and if you have anything else you need please let me know
Best wishes

Christopher Terrill Asked:

Reply if you want!
I am surprised that you never mention anything about the Holiday leaving the fleet. She is Carnival’s only ship that still offers a good experience. She may be old but she has atmosphere and elegance unlike the rest of the cookie cutter Carnival ships that give the passenger the same old tired format. Keep the Holiday and get rid of the rest.

John Says:

Dear Christopher:
Well…………..that’s quite a comment and as there were no please’s and thank you’s in there and with the abrupt ending I think its fare to say you are a little angry. Well…….before I answer I will remind you and everyone that what I am about to say is my opinion and not necessarily that of Carnival’s……and Mr. Terrill I say this with total respect. I love the Holiday………it was my first ever ship and when I walked onboard her in 1987 she was one of the biggest and most modern, cutting edge ships in the cruise industry ……. but she isn’t anymore. She has given and will continue to give passengers a memorable vacation (both while she’s in Mobile and when she moves over to our sister company IberoCruises) but like most things ……….time marches on.
Let me give you an example. Take one of London’s most iconic features………..the red phone box. It was cramped, draughty, prone to vandalism and used mostly as a toilet. So we should have rejoiced when cell phones made it redundant. But oooh no. “You can’t get rid of London’s red phone boxes” said people wearing sandals and who had beards.
And there’s the problem. If we form an emotional attachment to every single thing that comes into our lives, pretty soon the whole country will become clogged up with stuff that……well…….. Doesn’t work any more.
The QE2 was a classic case in point. When it was announced that the Queen Elizabeth 2 was going to leave the Cunard fleet, everyone ran around saying it should be saved because she was “traditional.” Yes she was but……. she was old and just as we no longer want to see Joan Collins naked as once we may have done…… was time for her to be graciously retired, leaving Cunard with the youngest fleet in the industry and us with the memories of a ship we shall all never forget…….but whose time……like all things …. had come.
You should look around your house for more examples of this type of sentimentality. For sure, your dining-room table may have originally belonged to your grandfather. But if the legs have woodworm and the surface is scratched beyond all recognition, then why not replace it with a new one? I know one day soon I will be replaced with a newer, funnier model and although one or two people may shed a tear on Sunday…….on Monday they will be saying how funny that new cruise director Kye Heald is.
I understand that you love the Holiday and are sad to see her go…………so am I but we must stop getting teary-eyed about things or something we hold dear. The West Wing. The traditional ketchup bottle. The VCR…….and in my case……..rumpy pumpy and a good night’s sleep.
The Holiday and her crew will make sure that she continues to give her guests the best cruise vacation ever and then we shall say goodbye………but at the same time we say hello to the Carnival Dream and that surely is cause for much rejoicing. I wish the Holiday only the best and I’m sure that she will continue to provide excellent vacations for the IberoCruises guests who will sail upon her.
As for the other ships being “cookie cutter” etc., etc……….well………let me ask you this. What ships have you sailed on and if you tell me what you would like to see on board? Then maybe I can chat about them with you so that hopefully your anger about the Holiday saying goodbye will turn into something positive and then………I can show you just what our new generation of ships have to offer. Have you been on the Fantasy-class since the Evolution of Fun upgrades? Have you sailed on a ship with a supper club or Seaside Theatre big screen? Let me know sir and as I would respectfully enjoy carrying on this conversation.
I will be writing a goodbye story about the Holiday soon.
Best wishes

And talking of the Holiday…………’s amazing how some things just fall into place …….. here is a photo and a Vance press release heralding the news we have all be waiting for.

Click here for the photo and to read the press release

That’s all for today. Now, there may be a short delay in the next series of answers as I am flying to Italy tomorrow to see the Carnival Dream but I promise to answer them as soon as I can so please keep the questions coming and I will answer them as quickly as I am able.

Misprints…….there have been some crackers over the years. The Guardian which is a British newspaper once wrote an article calling President Bush “a gland-handing good ol’ boy,” when it meant the rather less naughty……..“glad-handing.” The Australian newspaper’s 2004 apology for misquoting a politician denouncing Syria as “a bastard state” as the correction pointed out, the National Party senator had in fact said: Syria is “a Baathist state.” the one I will always remember is the one shown live on ABC News’s World News Tonight, which informed viewers that Alan Greenspan, then Federal Reserve chairman, was “in the hospital for an enlarged prostitute,” when he was being treated for his prostate……….although I am sure he would have preferred the former.

The reason I mention all of the above is that there appears to be a misprint in the current issue of Carnival Currents. It states that the Carnival Glory will be sailing out of Galveston from November 2009…….this of course is a misprint as the Carnival Glory will in fact be staying in Port Canaveral unlit late this year when she will of course be moving to Intercourse, Pennsylvania………or Miami.

Thanks to Host Mach for bringing this to my attention as it appears another thread thingy has been started on the “boards” so please allow me to apologize for this.

If anyone cruise line gets more than their fair share of famous people onboard their vessels it is of course Cunard. I was glancing over at Alistair’s blog and as the entertainment director of the Queen Mary 2 he has certainly had the chance to meet many of them. I thought you might like to have a look at his latest entry that describes a chap who was recently on board names Peter Asher. His name may not be familiar but when you read that as a record producer, Peter Asher has worked with such diverse artists as Diana Ross, Neil Diamond, Ringo Starr, Cher, Robin Williams, The Dixie Chicks and Billy Joel. I am sure you will want to read all about his Queen Mary 2 experiences. By the way, I want to congratulate Alistair on some excellent writing and make sure you pop on over to to find out more and to check in on all our family of bloggists……….is that a word?

One of the little known advantages of having a baby is that, although your days may feel longer, more stressful, and more likely to end in tears from bugger all sleep, it does make you appreciate the little things.

Now this blog has in recent days been little more than a soppy love note to my brilliant, wonderful (not to mention difficult, uncooperative turbo pooing …) daughter, so you probably think that, by little things, I mean the smile that she almost made when I made farting noises at her, or the way she’s taken to staring in astonishment at the wonders of Heidi’s breasts as his father did some 12 years ago……But I don’t ……. Not this time.

No, by little things I mean the 10 minutes I can grab behind a locked toilet door with my newspaper. A year ago, this was routine. Now, it’s blissful. Heidi talks about the joys of a shower that lasts more than three minutes, and how she savours every warming, soothing jet. Her friend mentions the wonderful moment when her baby falls asleep and she can eat a huge bar of chocolate without fear of interruption. Me……….I love the peace and tranquillity of taking a crap…….just me and my Arab friend………….Musthafa Shite

There are other things as well. I had a coffee at Heathrow airport today while waiting for Roger Blum to arrive. I had time to savour each and every sip without being told to pass the nipple pads or to go out and buy more diapers…… It was a revelation. But …….bloody hell…..dreadful news for us men. Early this morning around 2 am while Kye was enjoy a pint of titty milk I was watching a program on The National Geographic Channel. Apparently, they’ve discovered a species of ant that has dispensed with the need for males altogether. They’re called Mycocepurus smithii (yes, I made notes…..are you impressed?) and they live in the Amazon ……….. all of them females.

Men, this is a disaster. Women around the world having seen this program are passing this information around excitedly. “If ants can do it, maybe we can,” they whisper, hardly daring to believe. But come on……..I mean, you can’t just get rid of us. Imagine, for a minute, what life would be like without men. Yes, okay, so there would be no wars or PlayStationsxboxes or Simon Cowell or remote control envy or constant, unreasonable pressure to be thin, wear make-up and totter around on stilettos. And okay, yes, stockings and suspenders…….would cease to exist.

But some things that were designed for men, women have come to love. Like, umm, microwaves and, you know, some other things. More importantly, wouldn’t you miss the men in your life? Think of all our lovable thingies. Who would spend the whole of the weekend watching sports……selflessly warming the sofa for you, just in time for Dancing with the Stars? Who would insist that he was perfectly capable of putting up a shelf in the living room before pretty much destroying the living room even though it wasn’t his fault? And who would refuse to stop and ask for directions even though he knew he was definitely lost and then, when he finally did stop and ask, he didn’t listen beyond the second “turn left”? Don’t you love us for that?

Fine, maybe these bloody ants have a point. But a world with only women? Think of the gossiping, the bitching, the incessant chocolate melting cake eating. Think of the lines at Macy’s. You know the pleasure you get from dragging your poor husband around the mall? Gone. And there would be no one to lie when you ask if this dress makes your arse look big. No one at all. Just other women, cackling cruelly. And who, might I ask, would put the garbage out? Did the ants even think of that? Of course they didn’t… ants my arse.

I am off to Italy to show you your new Carnival Dream…….and will be sending the first group of photos tomorrow………just to whet your appetite…….here are a few that the yard sent me of the water park and big screen.


DSC02285- Dream


Your friends
John, Heidi and Kye

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.