Start Your Engines

August 7, 2009 -

John Heald

I met a man today who had asked to see me……he was a very nice man…..but wasn’t a very happy one. This was his 43rd cruise and his first with Carnival. And while he thought the service was excellent and the food good, he hated the decor of the ship and was exasperated that we didn’t provide lectures and other high brow forms of entertainment. He also did not like the fact the ship was so big with so many people on it.

I asked him for his history.

His first cruise was on a Cunard ship called the Vistafjord. He then did a world cruise on the Seabourn Sun (which I think then became one of the Holland America ships….not sure which one……dam) and from then he has cruised on Seabourn, the Pacific Princess and other smaller vessels………and as happy and as honored as we are to have this 70-year old-retired widower on board …….for whom money is no object………….I had to ask ……. why did you choose Carnival…………..he gave me a very interesting answer which I will tell you about shortly.

Until I asked “why” and having heard his list of previous cruises, I had already made my mind up that Carnival wasn’t for him. Sometimes certain people feel comfortable doing, driving, sailing on and wearing different things……….I I mean, would Judge Judy ever be found playing Zombie Death Killer Driller on her Playstationxbox? Would Cameron Diaz turn up for the Oscars wearing a full length tweed skirt and a cardigan knitted by her Great Aunt Betty? ……….Can you imagine me as cruise director of the new Queen Elizabeth wearing a mankini?

People tend to know what suits them……..and what doesn’t. It is rare to find someone who has just finished reading The Complete Works of Shakespeare and has now picked up a copy of Paris Hilton’s biography.

So, there I was thinking all of the above and listening to Mr. Smallship’s tales from his world cruise and how he did not like comedians and big shows and missed the fact that we didn’t have a bridge instructor etc, when I stopped him and respectfully asked …….. why Carnival?

Simple he said……..value for money. And there it was.

This world traveler had realized that even he wanted quality and value for his money. I asked him if he thought that this is what he had received…….and he agreed that yes……..indeed he had. And so for the rest of the 20 minutes we spoke I began to realize that I had been too quick to sum this chap up and that even though he wore expensive clothes and jewelry that he too wanted and deserved value and therefore had turned to Carnival. OK, maybe we weren’t totally his cup of tea but overall he had enjoyed the cruise so far and as we continued to talk about his favorite ports and how much he misses cruising with his wife…….I also realized that he was probably………very lonely.

Time for today’s questions………… we go.

Mark Asked:
John Please Reply
John, I have to mention that many Canadian men and women have given their lives in Afghanistan too. I know that there was no offense meant by not mentioning the Canadian effort, but felt important to let many our blogger friends know that we understand and appreciate the situation in Afghanistan as we are there too.

Like the US Marine you had cigar with I am not sure why any of us are in Afghanistan, but I support the troops whether they be US, British or Canadian. It doesn’t matter the flag patch on their uniform – their willingness to step up and put their lives on the line for our countries demands our respect.

John, I don’t blame anyone for not mentioning our effort in that part of the world. In part that is a failing of our government and perhaps indifference from US and British news media – after all our national population is that of California! : )

John, I really considered if I should or should not post this as I don’t want to sound that I am whining, complaining or sounding like the little brother that feels ignored. Thanks John for opening your blog to comments!

John Says:
Hello Mark
As a British citizen I certainly understand that other countries have paid the price for defending the world’s freedom. Many, many young British men and one lady have died and continue to die in Afghanistan as of course do Canadians as you mentioned.

I certainly meant no offence by not mentioning that these and other countries were fighting the war, it was just that the chap I was talking to was a serving United States Marine and that prompted my thoughts for the day.

I am so glad that you did post this comment as it gives me a chance to say a huge thank you to all the brave men and women who continue the fight for freedom and wherever home is………I hope they get there soon.

Thanks Mark and I hope you will continue to express your feelings here on the blog.
Best wishes

Sheryl Asked:
John please reply
Hi John,
Just wanted to thank you, once again, for getting the Bon Voyage department to sell the sugar free cakes. We will be celebrating my husband’s 56th birthday on board the Carnival Pride on August 31st. I have already ordered him the s/f chocolate cake. I talk about you and your blog thingy all of the time to him and he would get such a thrill (as would I) if you could recognize him on his birthday. Besides living with diabetes, he has also been diagnosed with another illness that will force him to start taking heavy duty treatments when we return from this cruise. I want this vacation to be extra special for him. Couldn’t think of anyone better to make that happen than you!

John Says:
Hello Sheryl
I am glad we were able to sort the sugar-free cake out for you which as you mentioned has now been added to the bon voyage list. I would be honored to send him a birthday wish so please send me the cabin number when you can by posting it here on the blog thingy.
Best wishes to you both

Melissa Jurgensen Asked:
John please reply.
Before I get to my question I have to comment about “Travis” the clueless boy on your cruise. Unfortunately that is the norm anymore it seems. Don’t think I’m an old frump for saying that, I’m only 32!

I have to tell you, a few years ago I worked with a girl who had just graduated college with her teaching license and she did not know who the president of the US was (she was American), the difference between the US’s two major political parties and there were several other common sense things she was clueless about. I shudder at the thought to think she is teaching children now!

Anyway, I recently won on eBay a Destiny inaugural cruise book. You had signed it “To my best Dick ever”…. I really don’t want to know about THAT inscription!

I love the ships and I have bought a few of these books on eBay. Is there ever a chance that reprints of these books will ever be sold in the ships’ gift shops? I would gladly buy them! I love all the pictures and the technical details about the ships! (I’m a ship geek, I know.)

My best to you and your beautiful ladies. Counting the days to my Dream cruise in October. (62 more days!)

John Says:
Hello Melissa
I cannot believe you have that Carnival Destiny book……and you bought it on eBay ……… wow. The inscription was for a character who played a role of Dick Dastardly in the Bed Time story and as I only signed books on the very first cruise, you have a true inaugural book there signed by me. How much did you pay for it if you don’t mind me asking?

The inaugural books are limited in their production. We normally give them to the guests on the first few cruises of the inaugural season but after that they are placed as cabin copies which we ask people not to take home. Maybe as you said we could sell them in the gift shops or in our Formalities shops onboard. You certainly have a collector’s item there and what a small world it really is.
Best wishes to you and the family

I LOVE THE BEDTIME STORY!!! I don’t care if I see it 5 times every cruise, it would still make me laugh! Please don’t ever retire it. You can come up with something to do on another night, but please leave the Bedtime Story alone.

Yeah, tomorrow is Heidi and Kye day . . . I so look forward to Heidi’s blogs and the wonderful pictures of she and Kye. It is so fun to watch Kye grow. Soon you will be home to share in the joy of her! When is it that you go home?

John Says:
Hello Sheryl
It’s funny answering a question about the bedtime story because that’s what I did last night and although the audience was tired I am still sure they loved the antics of their fellow guests. I will keep it going for a while longer then I guess.

I hope you enjoy the photo of Kye today, it’s my new favorite and I will be home to see her myself on August 24th.

Best wishes and thank you so much for the very kind words.

Jeanette Calli Asked:
John – Please reply…
You have convinced me! I am about to be a first-time Carnival cruiser sailing on the Pride August 21st out of Baltimore. I am cruising with my husband and 3 little ones and, after reading all the fabulous info about the steakhouse supper club thingy, I am going to make a reservation. It sounds wonderful, but I do have a question for you. Our cruise is 8 nights and I don’t want to miss elegant nights in the main dining room. What nights are “elegant” on an 8 night voyage so that I can make a reservation for the Steakhouse, usher the wee ones to Camp Carnival, and have a romantic dinner for me and my hubby? We are married 16 years tomorrow, so the cruise is an anniversary present to us! I can’t wait!! Thanks for any info you can provide and for writing such an entertaining blog thingy.

John Says:
You have no idea how it makes me feel when I read that the blog thingy has helped convince someone to try a Carnival cruise for the first ever time. I am humbled by that and I am positive that you and the family will have a brilliant time.

The steakhouse is simply sensational and to help you decide when to book I have added the itinerary below indicating the elegant nights for you. I hope you have a fantastic time and please let me know how much fun you have when you get home.
Eastern Caribbean:
Baltimore, MD;
Fun Day at Sea;
Grand Turk;
Half Moon Bay,
Nassau, Bahamas;
Freeport, Bahamas; ELEGANT NIGHT
Fun Day at Sea;
Baltimore, MD

Best wishes to you all

The Tuckers Asked:
How good it is to read your blogs as CD again. The pictures from the Dream are great; I’m getting worried that if I keep looking at them the “thrill” will be gone when we finally board the ship in December.
Thank You for sharing your insight/ conversation with the soldier re: Afghanistan & thanking them all for their service.

I am jealous of the DVD’s in the Suites on the Dream. Speaking of DVD’s. I never heard back about a specific NOLA- DVD you were going to check into when you got to Miami in June. Can one of the 244 Stephanies check into that again please?

ALSO Question #2 Will the Dream be Having the Behind the Scene tours when we are on the Bloggers Cruise in December? They sound great and well worth the price.

Empress Bee and Charlie are Great Cruising Ed’s Krewe Buddies and I hope you catch the “Conniving Bike Riders” and Serve them their “Just rewards “as only Carnival will allow…..

Your pictures are showing you winning your fight with the “Diet King” you are looking good and of course Heidi and Kye are absolutely beautiful and I can’t wait for Fridays
Take Care
The Tuckers in Florida

John Says:
Elizabeth & Arnold
I am glad you are enjoying the blogs so much and there certainly is no shortage of things to talk about while I am on board. You know so many people ask me questions that occasionally I forget what it is I have said I will do for people. Such is the case with New Orleans DVD. Are you referring to the Bloggers Cruise highlights or something else. Please can you post me a reminder and my apologies again for not following through with your request before?

The Behind the Fun Tour will indeed be available on your Carnival Dream cruise and I am excited that we are offering this very special look behind the crew only door. I continue to try hard with my diet and thanks for the words of encouragement.

I look forward to sailing with you and all the Evil Krewe again very soon.
My best wishes to you both

Michele MARAGNI Asked:
Hi John, (Please Reply)
I hope this letter finds you feeling much better! my mother and I will be on your Bloggers cruise Dec. 3rd, we are so excited to finally meet you, I will also be cruising on the Dream, Oct. 2nd, 2010 with my husband and son, I am so excited as my husband and I will be renewing our vows, on the ship, after 33 years of marriage, will there be any chance that you might be scheduled to be the CD on this cruise?,( it would be a plus to also have Heidi & Kye!) besides our vow renewal, having you there would make this all so perfect! (Love to Heidi & Kye!) Michele

John Says:
Hello Michele
How super – two brilliant cruises on your Carnival Dream and not only a bloggers cruise but one where you will be renewing your vows……..congratulations. I am still not sure of my 2010 schedule. There is certainly a chance that I may be there and I will let you know as soon as I can.

I will see you for sure in December and by then I will know my 2010 schedule.

Please let me know if you need anything else
Best wishes to all the family

Gina Diaz asked:
(Please Reply)
Hi John,
I want to tell you that TJ and I were so excited about being on the Freedom this coming week with you but unfortunately TJ has been diagnosed with cancer and we have been forced to put off our trip.
We were so looking forward to stalking–ahem– meeting you on the ship, but sadly there are things you cannot control.

We are praying that after the months of chemo that that TJ will have to endure and that once she is fully recovered we can take our much needed cruise.

It just goes to show you that you never really know what life will bring your way. One day you are a healthy person studying for the bar exam and after weeks of nonstop pain and weird doctors exams you are told that you have cancer. I cannot presume to think that I know what my friend is going through and can only offer my support in this very trying time for her and her family.

But here’s the gist. In between TJ’s spinal taps and chemo and surgery schedule we have been on the phone with Carnival trying to get a refund or a credit of our trip. Unfortunately we did not get the insurance (we did not get it on our last cruise in March–why would we need it for one in August?–why indeed). We booked the cruise in June and she was diagnosed at the beginning of July and with all of TJs doctor’s visits and the doctors not wanting to commit to a diagnosis we didn’t get to contact carnival until two weeks ago. TJ booked it, so she needed to make all the calls and I was a mess with praying and hoping that all would be well with my best friend, if you knew me you would know how I can get. I will most definitely not go on a cruise when my best friend is being treated for cancer. We were told that we could write a letter to carnival and it would be at their discretion if whether or not they gave us a full refund or credit. We have written the letters and are sending them to Carnival. Is there something else we can do to ensure this? I am honestly shocked at the fact that we have to go through so many hoops to ensure that our trip is not lost. Please reply with any suggestions you may have.

I wish you all the fun ever on the Freedom and please keep TJ in your prayers.
Much love,

John Says:
Hello Gina
What a sad way to finish today’s Q and A session. Let me start by saying that I have sent this to the very top and I hope they will be able to do something for you. Please let me know the outcome and if you need anything else please also let me know.

Most importantly I would ask that you tell TJ that thousands of people who daily read this blog are thinking of her and that our thoughts and prayers are with her at this time. I am sure that one day soon you will be both sailing with Carnival……..stalking me.
Please send me an update when you can

I am slowly catching up with all the comments and hopefully I will be answering yours shortly. Please forgive my tardiness.

Now, as promised here are today’s photos of your Carnival Dream and as promised we go behind the scenes for an exclusive look at the engine room and the engine control room?

First though some facts and my thanks to her Chief Engineer Stefano Gazzolo for providing me with the following.


6 Diesel Engines WARTSILA NSD 12,6 MW (equal to 16896,8 Horse Power) each engine

6 Alternators (Electric Generators) 14000 KVA – 11 KV
Active Power 12, 3 MW each Generator

5, 80 Meters = 19.02 Feet – 6 Blades Mass 26900 Kilograms

H.F.O. (Heavy Fuel Oil) Max Capacity 3981 Cubic Meters at 100% – 3901, 3 Cubic Meters at 98%
Diesel Oil Max capacity 255, 1 Cubic Meters at 100% – 250 Cubic Meters at 98%
Diesel Oil is used for Emergency Diesel Generator, Boilers Pilot Burner, and Incinerators and for Diesel Engines in Emergency situation. For a 12 days Grand Med cruise we will approx use from 1,400 to 1,500 Metric Tons This was the consumption of the Freedom and Liberty. It varies from many factors and condition of the ship’s hull and weather therefore is approx.

During the Official Sea Trial the ship reached 23.95 knots at maximum speed.

And here is where the chief spends most of his time onboard















And now here are some terrific photos of the captain and senior officers photographed together, for the first time, inside and outside of their Carnival Dream.




Fantastic shots………and did you see that top speed? 23.95………that’s Ferrari quick. On the next blog we will be sharing some amazing photos of the atrium on your Carnival Dream………..have you booked yet?

There is no doubt that the sight of a magnificent ship gets the hairs on the back of my bottom standing on end…………….and none more so than the Queen Mary 2 seen here leaving Hamburg, Germany yesterday.

Queen Mary 004[1]

I remember the first time I saw the Queen Mary 2 I damn nearly wet myself with excitement. I was on the Carnival Triumph in St. Maarten and when I saw this incomparable liner I ran around the bridge clutching at my private parts with one hand, pointing with the other and screaming at the top of my lungs down the PA system to tell the guests to get their cameras out.

That’s how you will feel when you see her for the first time and when you see your Carnival Dream …………well…………..depends!

Here are some letters from my Morning Show.

Letter 2

Letter 1

Letter 3

Letter 4_Page_1

Letter 4_Page_2

So all in all it’s been a good cruise but we have definitely had some challenges as I have pointed out here in the blog thingy. Yesterday in Panama one of the boats we use for the Panama Canal excursion broke down resulting in a one hour delay for some guests returning to the ship. The back on board time was 3:30 pm but about 200 guests did not return until 4:30 pm. We will be looking after these guests accordingly and more than anything else it was another prime example that if you are on a Carnival excursion, we know where you are and what’s happening…………..this way you are never going to be somewhere…….panicking …….wondering if the ship will be disappearing over the horizon when you finally make it back to the pier.

Last night I once again put my body on the line for Micky, Queen and Company as an extra medium sized Mary decided to throw me down like a sack of feathers.

When I recovered I found a piece of Mary’s hair stuck in the strap of my watch. Here are some photos of said event


Show 2

Show 3

It’s Friday and so …….here is Heidi……….oh ………..actually it isn’t………………it’s Kye.

Hello Bloggers,

Mummy asked me to say a few words as she was too busy with Oma, sitting in the garden enjoying the sunshine……..

It has been very hot again the last few days so I am sitting (mummy said I forgot the H) here in my nappy (diaper).

I am doing really well, I am smiling and making lots of funny noises I didn’t even know I could make and mummy keeps pulling funny faces which makes me laugh even louder.

Today Oma and mummy took me for a walk along the beach. I heard them saying how lovely it was etc. but I don’t think they realize that from my ”car,” the sky looks the same wherever we are….the breeze was nice though and I am sure I will sleep well tonight. I have been sleeping really well and this morning I confused mummy as she woke up at 5:30 am and then she was not sure if I had woken her up in the night…..but I didn’t. I slept from 8 pm till 5:30am! Not sure if I will keep doing this though, I like to surprise her and I like our “meetings” in the night as she sings to me.

I miss my daddy very much but mummy says he is coming home soon. Yippee!
I like it when he calls and mummy puts the phone by my ear and he talks to me.

Mummy keeps getting me presents and then tells me that they come from aunties and uncles that read the blog thingy.

Mummy has explained to me a little bit what a Blog is. I am not sure I understand yet but I keep getting presents so it must be a good thing 🙂

My wardrobe is now so full that mummy and daddy might have to buy me another one soon or maybe they can move into my room and I can move into theirs.

Well, its bedtime now and mummy says I have to stop so I better listen.

Bye Bye Bloggers!


Ahhhhhhhhhhhh………..Kye’s first blog! I truly can’t wait to see my girls again.

Last night at the Talent Show I had a crying baby on the third row and my Daddy instinct took over and I wanted to cuddle him or her. However, it kept crying and crying and crying and then the infant began howling like a rabid wolf. It was like a car alarm had gone off. Everyone in the show was disturbed by it. Even the other babies…… The quiet ones….. were pissed off. The parents did nothing. They continued to sit there immune to the judgmental looks and head-shaking from the other guests around them.

And this made me think. When I was last home Kye was house bound, but now she has a social life and so once again does Heidi and that means we will be going to restaurants again………what if Kye starts crying……what do I do? I mean ……….why should everyone else be subjected to it? There are laws to protect people from second-hand smoke ……….. why not second-hand noise? I guess some would say “live and let live”……but this answer only goes so far. If I decided to strip off my clothes stand on a restaurant table and started singing “I’m A Little Tea Pot” would people just say “live and let live?” …….. would they bollocks.

What if I lit up a cigar, that’s living too? But no one would let that happen. People would go bonkers. It’s different, I know, because it’s a health hazard. But what if someone has high blood pressure and the stress from a wailing baby puts them at risk of a stroke? That can’t be healthy.

When it comes to how parents handle their children, it’s never a good idea to interfere. It’s okay if you interrupt to tell them how adorable the baby is, but anything else is risky. People have no problem asking a stranger to go outside to talk on a cell phone. But asking a parent to take their baby outside…. You’ll be beaten to death with a bag of diapers.

I’m not sure what the best thing to do is, but I know what doesn’t work. The disapproving look. This look does nothing and last night by act three of the talent show I was seriously concerned that the guests were getting really upset and the constant crying…….and so I took action.


I invited Mum and dad and baby Jasmine on stage….I sung her a lullaby ……….. and ………she stopped crying…………… was a miracle…….and as her eyes closed and she buried her head in her Dad’s chest……and fell asleep …….1,800 people started to applaud and cheer……….and woke the little bugger up again.

Your friend

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.