Jackie…1st Class

October 8, 2009 -

John Heald

As I sit here in my underpants staring at Mr. Dell trying to think about what to write about the words of a man with a beard are sloshing around my mind. The bearded one was on CNN International yesterday explaining to the interviewer that the world’s super busy are so often the dullest people because they don’t think, they only “do.”

I can’t remember the figures he was spouting off but he was from some university who apparently had timed pedestrians walking in cities across the world. He and his fellow beards concluded that the speed of life is much faster (can’t remember how much he said)……….. Than in the early 1990s. I do remember that he said people today were to busy for friends……………… preferring virtual Facebook friendship………. to the real thing.

At first I thought “bollocks” and carried on with my Cruise Directing life but it was as I phoned my mate Danny this morning to wish him a happy birthday and he was telling me all about his new business that I realized………..I was writing e-mails throughout the conversation. Clickety click clack, I went while making vague sounds of feigned interest such as “mmm, mmm, sounds great” when he could have just told me he had accidentally trapped his penis in a woodworking vice………..and this is one of my best friends ………….. and after thinking about it…………….I realized I do the same sometimes when I am on the phone to Heidi…………what a complete and utter bastard I am.

I’m like this with my Raspberry as well…………in fact…………I am no better than one of today’s teenagers whose distracted glaze says “if I don’t read that text which probably says something really important like ‘Gr8! lol x’ I might actually die…………dog”.

It’s the way of the world and I see it here on the ships. I see younger guests, usually in their late teens who get so frustrated by ambling older passengers who block the line at the buffet slowing them down on their way to the Mongolian wok, Some probably imagine they are evil sea monsters in a computer game which they could zap with a harpoon because “they’ve got all day to get their lunch whereas I need to back on Lido deck in the sun looking at the babes, OK?”

I cannot judge them though for I frequently fantasize about Tasering people who hold the elevator doors open while they finish a conversation with a friend. Anyway…….I made a promise to myself that I would never talk to Heidi or a friend at the same time again. I used to think I was just multi tasking……….I wasn’t……..I was just being rude.

Time for today’s questions…………here we go.

Beverly (PA) Asked:
I’ve convinced my group (26+ of us – family members that have been cruising together for the past twelve years) that this is the year to try Carnival. We’ve decided the Carnival Dream is the one for us and we are going to book for August 2010 (wish it was sooner). Our travel agent has informed us that the Dream is closed to groups. Why is that?

John Says:
Hello Beverly
I get very excited when I hear that people have booked their Carnival Dream and thank you for trying to persuade your friends from doing the same. I have no idea about the group situation or why this would be so. Please allow me to have someone call you to discuss what we can do about this. Please let me know what happens and I will be here should you need me.
Best wishes

Mary Asked:
We have booked DREAM for Dec. 12. Have “Cove” balcony rooms. Not sure what they are. Is there a divider between rooms that can be opened? What makes them a cove balcony?

John Says:
Hello Mary
Once again, congratulations on booking your Carnival Dream cruise. The cove balconies are cabins that for the first time have balconies on deck 2 which give you amazing closeness to the ocean and spectacular views. The dividers do not open but the balcony has chairs to sit on and you can even fish from there if you want to…………kidding. Seriously, these cabins are some of our most popular and soon you will discover just why.

Please let me know if you have any other questions before you sail.
Best wishes

Bill Asked:
John-Please Reply
I once again need to thank you for providing this service. Your explanation of different and unique aspects of cruising is great. Besides that you make me laugh and that is great. So, on to my question. We leave on October 26th on the Carnival Paradise (real name). I know that something will be done for Halloween while we are on board but we are a bit unsure what that is. So, could you enlighten us all as to what and when happens at the Halloween party. Also, we are taking our daughter (3) on her first cruise. So while we know that she will have a great time at Camp Carnival what will her party be like? Also, does Camp have its own party or is it part of the adult party. I guess I am just asking how it all works.

Our school district has the last week in October off every year so if this cruise is as awesome as we expect it could become an annual event.

If you have already answered what happens on the Halloween parties then please just tell me to bugger off and have fun as I read every blog. One last question: since you will be on ship for Halloween, what are you dressing up as? You must post pictures.
May your family be blessed.

John Says:
Hello Bill
Halloween is a big event at Carnival and each ship will have parties and events sponsored by M and M……..the candy………not the moody crap……sorry……….rap singer. The Camp Carnival kids will have their special trick or treat events and costume parties which are truly fun for all of them……….especially with loads of free candy.

The bigger kids (you and I) have an adult costume party where all those who have brought costumes will be attending a huge parade. We have haunted stories and shows and lots, lots more. You don’t have to bring a costume to be involved but if you want to, you certainly won’t be on your own as many guests do.

As for me………well……….my costume was going to be very elaborate but after much consideration I have decided just to go as an overweight ugly Cruise Director with gas and hemorrhoids.

Hope you have fun and thank you so much for all your kind words.
Best wishes to you and the family

Diane Asked:
John – please reply
You mentioned that Peter Shanks took time out of his busy day while “enjoying his daily serving of spotted dick and custard.” My curiosity has gotten the best of me…what is “spotted dick?”

I may have come across this rare find in some of my travels but I can’t be sure it was the same that Mr. Shanks “enjoyed.” Will you please expound on this “spotted dick”?

John Says:
Hello Diane
What is Spotted Dick…………ok……………well…………..let me see……………no…………..stop it John………the lady asked a serious question………..don’t even think about it ……………right then. Here is what Wikapediathingy says.

Spotted dick is a steamed suet pudding containing dried fruit (usually currants) commonly served with custard, and a standard part of English cuisine. Spotted refers to the dried fruit (which resemble spots) and dick may be a contraction/corruption of the word pudding (from the last syllable) or possibly a corruption of the word dough.[1] Another explanation offered for the latter half of the name is that it comes from the German word for “thick,” in reference to the thickened suet mixture.

So, it’s a desert, a pudding and one that my Mum makes the best of. Here is her recipe.
350g/12oz plain flour
100g/4oz shredded vegetable suet
100g/4oz golden caster sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
1 orange, zest and juice only
100ml/4fl oz milk
125g/5oz mixture of raisins, dried cherries, dried cranberries and dried blueberries
75g soft brown sugar
For the sauce
125g/4oz butter
150g/5oz dark brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 orange, juice only
handful of marshmallows
. Place the flour, vegetable suet, caster sugar, baking powder and cinnamon in a bowl.
2. Add the orange juice, zest and milk and mix to form a soft dough.
3. Roll out the dough to form an oblong shape. Place the dough onto an oblong of baking parchment.
4. Scatter the dried fruit and sugar over the dough.
5. Roll up from the long side to force a cylinder.
6. Place the cylinder onto a steamer insert and place into a large saucepan of boiling water.
7. Cover and steam for 1-1¼ hours.
8. To make the sauce, place the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and the orange juice in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil.
9. When the spotted dick is cooked, pour the candied sauce over the spotted dick and then place in the oven for 10 minutes.
10. Remove, place the marshmallows on top then put back into the oven until they have just melted
Enjoy and if anyone makes this please send photos of your……….spotted dick
Best wishes

Lisa Asked:
John, RESPOND if you would like.
I just want to thank you for your part in making our first cruise (and anniversary cruise and reward for my husband dealing with his cancer) WONDERFUL! Afterwards my husband said that was the best vacation he had ever taken. That gave me great satisfaction in knowing that I, with some help from you, succeeding in giving him something special.

Imagine his surprise when the cruise director called us directly and wished us a happy cruise. And then we had a “ship on a stick” delivered, all compliments of you. At one time my husband would have looked at that plastic ship and not understood, but he sees how my dad cherishes his ship and knows it was something special. Then to top off the evening, at dinner the matre d came over and talked to us, sending best wishes from him, you and Carnival AND brought us a bottle of wonderful champagne. My parents were with us, and had cruised Carnival numerous times. They were quite impressed too and think that I “know” people. I told them yep, the senior cruise director of Carnival. haha

We had a wonderful time on the Carnival Sensation and any fears I had were immediately put to rest. Thanks again for your part in making this a very special occasion for my husband. He’s already asking about going again. And if his health will hold out a bit longer – I’ll do everything I can to make sure he has another wonderful experience.

John, keep doing what you are doing. You’ll always have the critics and the skeptics, but if a simple phone call and plastic ship can give my husband so much joy, then you’re doing everything right!

P.S….Cruise director Paul also joked about farts. Is that a Carnival thing or a British thing? haha

John Says:
Hello Lisa
I just wanted to drop you both a line and say how happy I am that you and your husband had such a wonderful time. I wish you both health and happiness and I will send your compliments on to the ship……………..oh and yes…………..the fart is much loved in the UK.
Best wishes

Matt Asked:
Hello John,
Cruised with you back on the Liberty and Freedom in 2006 & 2007. I’m sure you don’t remember me, but anyways… I have got the craziest ‘personal’ request to ask of you. If you can personally e-mail me, I’d like to share my issue and see if you could assist.
Thank you in advance,
Matt Holden

John Says:
Hello Matt
I will ask one of the 343 Stephanies to e mail you and let’s see what we can do to help.

Ralf Asked:
Hi John,
(please do reply)
Great pictures of Kye again.
I told you some months ago (may) I am sailing on TA C-Dream the fourth crossing always meeting a Lady, US citizen living in Italy many years older than me (53) again. I do want to ask for a favor. No table for two, no window seats (stupid at the end of October after 8 pm). Please, if possible, we would like to sit at a large table seating 8-10 English speaking people/US citizens, talking to fellow travelers inside Ken’s dining room. Both of us wanted and got it confirmed: Late dining seating. My name Ralf Trahe, sorry only got her Name: Miss Blandine Allin. She is platinum as well.

I am one of the many arriving into New York City, after our crossing booked on late flights, hoping Carnival offering any tours. I booked transfer to JFK airport and only got it insisting when doing my final payment. Only 31 days and counting.

Bad news: Many of us bloggers were hoping Carnival would announce coming back to Europe in 2010. Please tell PA 007 to do the very best. I am waiting bookings do open.

Good news: Hooray, took the chance booking Carnival Elation Panama Canal cruise next year. One of my Dreams. Cutting down the cruise by one day leaving in Tampa. Better flight connections across the pond.
TA C-Dream: 5018 miles
Panama Canal C-Elation: 4918 miles
Thank you very much

John Says:
Hello Ralf
I remember your other posting very well Ralf and I will of course pass on your request to my friend and yours Ken the ship’s Senior Maitre D. I know many of the blog readers are hoping for news on Europe but I am pretty certain that 2010 will not see us return there. However, hope springs eternal about 2011 and although I have not heard anything to confirm this I can tell you that PA 007 is on the case.

The Carnival Elation‘s Panama Canal cruise is also going to be a very popular voyage and I hope you get to experience a transit for yourself.

Now, I am still in conversation with our Shore Excursion department in Miami as I have had many requests for a New York tour once your Carnival Dream arrives into the big apple on the 12th. I will continue to try and organize this for you all and hope that I am successful. I will keep you informed here on the blog thingy
Best wishes and please keep reading the blog thingy.

Juan & Maria Santana Asked:
John, pls. reply….
Hi, John! Just a note to tell you we’ll be away again for a wk. but we’ll try to stay in contact with the blog. Please, whenever you have time, don’t forget the bio on CD Wee Jimmy…

The latest pictures of Kye are absolutely precious! We enjoyed enormously your water slide adventure competition with Mr. Cahill….

Regarding Cunard…. we know that they are on a class of their own…. Years ago we were on the Cunard Princess & in Jan. of this year we sailed on the Queen Mary. Absolutely magnificent. But, we have to recognize that nothing compares to the fun that we have sailing on Carnival — especially if you are the CD!! We are looking forward to sail with you again early 2010 on the Dream. We know that you’ll be on the Dream until March 20th… Correct? Although we live in Miami Beach and we truly regret that the Dream doesn’t call the Port of Miami or Port Everglades home, we’ll probably drive to Orlando first to make a “pit stop” before driving to Port Canaveral.

Warmest regards to you and Heidi. Kisses to Kye.
The Santanas of Miami Beach

John Says:
Hello Juan and Maria
I am sure by now you are on the Carnival Freedom enjoying some fun with Wee Jimmy. I am jealous that you have experienced the Queen Mary. I must experience this for myself and it’s certainly on my bucket list of things to do. I will see you next year on your Carnival Dream and it will I promise be your best cruise ever.
Have a wonderful time and I wish I could be there with you.
Best wishes to you both

That’s all for today and I am I think slowly but surely getting closer to where I want to be in regard to answering your questions. Me and my underpants will continue to answer as many as we can.

Just before I continue, can I send my thoughts to someone who has been reading the blog right from the very first day I started writing. Empress Bee (Southern Dreams) recently cruised yet again with me and you may remember the incident with her electric scooter. Anyway, her husband Charlie who like Bee is a Platinum Milestone cruiser has been battling a very serious illness and is currently very poorly indeed in hospital. Bee, I am thinking about you and please would you send our best thoughts for a speedy recovery to your Prince Charlie………..these thoughts and prayers I am sure are echoed by many reading the blog.

Let’s do the news.

One of the new additions to the entertainment line up on your Carnival Dream has been the laser show on lido. I saw this for myself and found it difficult to describe just how awesome it was……………….so instead of me whaffling on about it……………have a look at these brilliant photos.




A few days ago a blogger asked me about the passage through the Straits of Gibraltar and what time this will be etc. I asked your Carnival Dream‘s Captain…..Carlo Queirolo and here is what he told me. First of all though………let’s look at the chart he sent.



Residual Speed from Malaga to Las Palmas is 20.2 and there are 80 Mls up to Tarifa, Leaving at 5 pm from Malaga with FWE at 5.30 pm we will be in Gibraltar Strait at approximately 8.30 pm.

Thanks Captain. I hope you and the crew are well and congratulations on the success of your Carnival Dream.

I have been following Holland America’s blog about the Niew Amsterdam and you have to see the photos of the propellers which have now been installed. Just have a quick pop over to

And talking of great photos I thought you might enjoy these taken yesterday of the Carnival Imagination, Carnival Legend and ………a last look at the Holiday.

Holi (2)

Holi (1)

Holi 3 ships

Holi 1





Well, its time to meet one of our acting Cruise Directors. Many of you may know this young lady as she was with us on both Bloggers Cruises and became great friends with many of you as she did with Heidi and I. Despite living in a trailer and eating nothing but grits and chitins for breakfast, lunch and dinner, she has proven she has what it takes to be a great Cruise Director. Here is someone then with a very unusual name ………. Stephanie.



1. Please tell us about yourself and your journey to the Cruise Director chair.
My name is Stephanie Meads and I am from Richmond, Virginia.  I have been with Carnival for 7 wonderful years.  I started as a Social Host on the Carnival Ecstasy.  After a couple of years I was very lucky to work with some guy called John Heald (still don’t know why he is so famous) on the Carnival Glory.  Then he asked me to be part of the start up team on the Carnival Liberty.  Then he loved me so much and did not want to get rid of me so he is asked me to be the Asst. Cruise Director on the Carnival Freedom inaugural.  Which was an honor to be asked to do a start up of another new ship and my 1st contract as an Asst. Cruise Director on a brand new ship.  Then he just really loved me and said he could not continue his career with Carnival without me so we continued on the Carnival Splendor Inaugural.   I was honored to be part of 2 Bloggers Cruises (still do not know why people bow down to him but they do).  This last year has been so amazing.  I have worked on 10 ships this Contract.  Then in May I was asked to step in and be Cruise Director on the Carnival Destiny and loved every moment.  After that I realized that this is what I am supposed to be doing and I love every moment of every day.  I am currently Cruise Director on the Carnival Sensation and then I will Cruise Director on the Carnival Legend for the month of November.  This has been such a great journey and I am so grateful everyday to be where I am now!

2. What ship are you currently serving on?
Carnival Sensation until September 6th.

3. Before we talk about you lets talk about the ship. What are you favorite areas of the vessel and what is it that makes your ship the best in the Carnival fleet.
I have the best Entertainment Staff in the fleet, everyone gets along so well and are all here to entertain the guests and make sure they have an amazing time.  One of my favorite places on the ship is Michelangelo’s Lounge.  It is the midship lounge on the ship and we have a great band called Music Power.  They know I love Journey and anytime I walk in they start playing it.  Also the Fantasia Lounge is great as well.  That is the main show lounge and all the Fantasy class ships the stage is so big and I like how the layout of the lounge is.

4. Can you tell us about your itinerary and please pick your favorite shore excursion from each port and tell us why you like it so much.
The itinerary is very simple.  We do 3 and 4 day cruises out of Port Canaveral.  The 4 day we go to Freeport, Bahamas and then do an overnight in Nassau Bahamas then a day at sea.  The 3 day cruise is an overnight in Nassau Bahamas and a sea day.  My favorite excursion in Freeport has to be the Junkanoo Beach Party – this is only for Carnival guests, the beach and surf are amazing.  Activities going on and a great lunch buffet.  It is not too overcrowded and just a great day at the beach. In Nassau by far my favorite is Atlantis.  It definitely is the number 1 attraction in the Bahamas.  My favorite excursion there is Atlantis Dolphin Cay Deep Water Swim and Aquaventure.  You get to race alongside the dolphins using a hand held scooter, get pushed by the dolphins and play with the beautiful mammals as well.  Then you have the rest of the day to play at the famous water park or at the beach.  It is just an awesome day and I try to go there at least once a week.  

5. If someone were to ask you “what does a Carnival Cruise Director do” how would you reply?
Carnival Cruise Director is responsible to make sure that the guests have a very enjoyable and memorable vacation.  They are the main person that the guests see and the Cruise Director is responsible for Entertainment onboard.  They are there to keep the guests informed to make sure they have a fulfilling and exciting vacation.  There are so many different places and types of vacations that people can choose and for them to choose Carnival you want them to remember it and want to come back again.

6. What is your most favorite part of the job?
When you are out there onstage and a guests laughs at your jokes or when a guest comes up to you and says that you are so good at what you do and we are having such an amazing time.  That makes you feel that you are really doing a great job and that they had a great vacation.

7. If we were to sail on a ship where you are the CD what would be the must not miss activity or show that you host.
Either my Country Line Dance Class which I love doing or My Newlywed Not So Newlywed Show.  Both are very different but lots of fun.

8. What is the hardest and or most challenging part of the job of Carnival CD?
You are the person the guest always comes to, so if there are any issues or problems they are coming straight to you because most people think you can fix all issues.  For any job on Carnival it is being away from your family for so long.  I still find that one of the hardest to get used too.

9. If you could sail on any other cruise ship (not Carnival) what ship would you like to sail on as a guest and why
Maybe the Queen Elizabeth or Queen Mary 2 because these ships are so elaborate and why not be treated like royalty and stay in a cabin that is the size of your house.  Maybe Seabourn too.  You have so may people pampering to your needs.  Sounds good to me!!!

10. Finally – please fill in the blanks


JENNIFER ANNISTON (Would love to be her)

Fast hip hop music to run too

Anything Chick Flick

Not John Heald (Hahahahaha)  Catherine Tate

Butch:  We worked together for a long time as Social Hosts and he is fantastic at what he does on and off stge.  The crew respects him and the guests love him.  You should be the same person on and off stage.  He definitely is!!!

Sleep and stay on someone’s mega yacht and watch them sail the seas!!!


Stephanie is currently on the Carnival Splendor where she will be taking over from Goose as Cruise Director this coming Sunday. I know how proud her Mum and Dad must be………as are Heidi and I. It will be great to hear all my jokes told in a southern drawl. Good luck Steph…….and put that Italian officer down.

Well, the good ship Carnival Legend has arrived today in Belize. The weather is gorgeous yet again and the guests are being tendered shore. Most people who book their cruise already know that the ships have to use tenders to get ashore………..or do they?

Guest: Mrs. ——–Ref: 828380164A
Cabin: _____ Booking#: ________ Added-Changed: 10/08/09 – 10/08/09

Mrs. _______- called the guest services desk at 9:10am asking to speak to the Captain. GSA asked what her concern was and guest said that she did not want to use the tender service to go ashore. Guest said she was in Belize on a RCCL ship last year and the ship docked. Guest felt that Carnival was to cheap to pay docking fees. GSA apologized to the guest and said her comments would be passed onto the correct people.

Now, I am not the brightest bulb on the tree. I am not the sharpest tool in the shed. I don’t have all the dots on my dice. I am one sandwich short of a picnic…………but am I not correct in saying that there is no pier in Belize capable of handling a cruise ship. I certainly know that the pier in Belize City can’t take one?

It also always strikes me as bizarre that people call the Guest Services Desk and demand to speak to the Captain for something like this. Can you imagine doing that on a plane? What do you mean you have no more chicken? I got the chicken on Delta so why not on American. I want to speak to the Captain………..I don’t care if he is flying the plane. Go get the Captain.

I am still dealing with the aftermath of me bringing the guests on stage……..you know ………….the ones who are serving in the military. As you know we have a guest onboard who is hopping mad at me for doing this and at them for wearing their uniforms.

Anyway, I thought I would tell you about one of the young ladies I had on stage. Her name is Private 1st Class Jackie Whitwell and she has just returned from Afghanistan where she served in the US Army as a supply person.

I interviewed her in my afternoon show yesterday and she shocked me with what she spoke about. My heart goes out instead to the thousands of backroom soldiers she spoke about. Their life, far from the fighting, behind the blast-proof walls and the razor wire and the guard dogs and the sentries, is about as horrible as it’s possible to imagine. Unless you have to wash my underpants.

Some was based in the middle of the desert. The view she said is always grey and bleak. You look over a vast grey camp with grey buildings to the grey concrete walls and beyond to the grey desert that blends into the dust-choked grey sky. There is no green. There is no yellow. Jackie is from Virginia and said how she longed to see the countryside full of vibrant colors that was her home.

And at night she said……. it’s cold. Bitterly, numbingly cold………cold………that surprised me ……….since when does a desert get cold.

Being me I asked her about the toilets. She told me the toilets were communal, long rows of outside latrines with doors, which someone erected four inches from the bowl. This is fine said Jackie if you are a small person, but everyone else has to leave the door open.

I’m sorry but doing your number twos in plain view of everyone is only all right if you are a cow……but is that really the best we can do for our troops?

So a typical day for Jackie who along with her colleagues keep the frontline troops fed, watered and armed is……..get up…….scrape ice from your nose…..take a crap in front of your mates. Shower your left foot……walk to office…….do work…….walk to cookhouse. ……walk to tent when tired. Repeat seven days a week and…………..it’s dry totally dry ……..meaning even on Christmas Day………there is no wine and no beer.

And it’s bloody hard work. Jackie said that every day the planes and the trucks are bringing in kits and she has to sort it. Jackie is 24 years old. She is married and has a two year old daughter. On November 1st she will return for another tour of duty. That’s another 6 months spent serving her country in an alcohol-free sea of grey.

It was an honor to interview her and it was one of the best afternoon show segments I have ever done. Although………I doubt my friend who complained about me recognizing the serving military personal onboard thought so.

Oh, and just one more thing. It seems some of you were mad at me because I mentioned that I sent him a fruit basket………well I assure you that I said that in jest. While I listened to his comments and opinions respectfully ………………….he was never going to get a piece of fruit from me………….although I did have thoughts of doing something with a banana.

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.