From Russia With Diamonds

October 16, 2009 -

John Heald

Woke up this morning to a major bollocking from someone with a beard at Carnival. You see yesterday I posted the Carnival Miracle‘s new and tremendously exciting return to Aruba. This information had been sent to be our super spy PA 007 who had overheard two senior executives talking about this in the bathroom. He or she was in a cubicle depositing his or her cheeseburger that they had eaten for lunch and while sitting there reading the Miami Herald he or she heard these two chatting about the new itinerary.

And so PA 007 immediately e-mailed me and I of course published the news on my blog thingy.

And this morning a man with a big title and a big beard, reached down the phone and inserted his expensive Italian loafer right up my arse.

You see, there was supposed to be the official announcement about this today and of course instead PA 007 and I broke the news on the blog and not for the first time I got in trouble and the investigation to find our super spies true identity has intensified.

There is though no doubt that the return of Aruba and those exotic cruises have been met with much excitement and I see already that many of you are wanting to book one of these voyages. And, I promise you this. I will be on one of them with you and knowing Heidi’s love of Aruba, I bet she and Kye will be with me as well.

Anyway, please thanks PA 007 for me who is as we speak back in his or her cubicle (the work one, not the toilet one) waiting to break the next piece of news here on the blog thingy.

OK, here we are in Roatan today and the weather is as it has been all week long …………. picture perfect. The new pier facility that Carnival Corporation is building is simply stunning. Today, the Captain has gone in the pilot boat to look at the maneuver he will have to perform when we start going there. The pier and facilities are superb and I will be popping over next week to show you some photos. Carnival ships should start docking there in early November.

There will be of course lots of sparkling new diamond shops on the pier because that’s the law and that’s what people want. And it’s with shopping in mind that I have to show you this comment from today.

Guest: Mr. ——-Ref: 828010252A
Cabin: ____ Booking#: ______ Added-Changed: 10/14/09 – 10/15/09

Guest came to the GSD to say that during the T Shirt sale in the gift shop that another guest had pushed her out of the way to get to the t shirts first. Guest said that she had a bruise on her arm. GSA apologized and said that the Gift Shop Manager would be informed.

Now, let’s set the scene here. This was two six-foot tables set up outside of the shops where upon the shop manager had placed about 300 T-Shirts that were at the end of the line and were therefore reduced by 50%. And I guess they were very popular. But come on, it’s a bloody T Shirt……in fact ………it sounds like there was nearly blood on the T Shirts as guests went nuts for the things…… the way…….the guest that was pushed was 68 years old.

As you know I hate shopping and if I see the word “sale” I run away, very quickly. What is it that makes nice people magically shed their civilized skins and change into rude grabbing bastards who’d gladly head-butt a grandmother if it meant getting the item before anyone else?

Take a look at the facial expression of the average cruise ship shopper in downtown St Thomas and you’ll see nothing behind the eyes. Just trance-like determination and a snarl for any dawdler who delays her……….or him ……….but mostly ……….her.

I remember on the Carnival Splendor when we were coming to the end of the Baltic season, Justine the shop manager had to get rid of every mug, T-shirt and souvenir with the words St. Petersburg, etc. on it and I will never forget how manic that sale was. But it was nothing compared to when she put those Russian Doll thingies out at 75% off ………. oh my goodness me. Guests were using guerrilla tactics as ferocious women linked arms with their battle axe friends to barge through crowds while some used their children’s strollers to create a cordon around the table like lionesses over a freshly killed deer.

Anyway, I spoke to the guest, got her size and bought her a T Shirt…………she said she would have preferred a red one.

Time for today’s Q and A ………….lets crack on

Medic123 Asked:
John, (please reply)

I just wanted to thank you for everything you did for my Foster Daughter and our family while we were on Carnival Inspiration. Skip, the Captain, and George the MD were great to us. Our waiter, Ronaldo, said to say hi. He stated he had worked with you in 1998 (I don’t remember the ship). He was the best, friendly, quick, and always wearing a smile. Our cruise was the greatest and has assured that we will be back on a Carnival ship really soon. Thank you once again and hopefully we will sail with you soon.

John Says:
Hello Vicki

What a wonderful way to start today’s Q and A. I am so glad you had a great cruise and my sincere thanks to the Carnival Inspiration team for all their help. I hope it is not long before you and your family joins us for another Fun Ship cruise.
Best wishes to you all

Nancy M. Asked:
Hi John,

I am a big fan of your blog. Our cruise on the Carnival Dream December 3, will be out third cruise. I absolutely loved the Carnival Glory. We will be a party of four (myself, my sister and of course our husbands and we can hardly wait to cruise on the Dream. I wanted to ask you a favor and am not sure how the dining seating is numbered. We are confirmed for early dining and we would like to request the upper level booth if possible. On the Glory we had table 565 upper level. Our room numbers on the Carnival Dream is 7307 & 7303 Category 12. I love your blog and love seeing the pictures of Kye. Thanks for your help.

John Says:
Hello Nancy

I am glad you enjoy the blog so much and I know you will absolutely love your Carnival Dream. May I kindly ask that you send me a reminder about your table request on Nov. 12 and I will do all I can to assist you.

Thanks for the kind words and best wishes to you all

Debbie Hansen Asked:
John, please reply…

Hello again. Thanks for your reply to my earlier question. DH and I will be on the Carnival Dream (11/15) celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. I’d like to make reservations for the Steakhouse but am having trouble figuring out which night will be best for us. Is there a place where I can see what the menus will be for each of the nights in the Master Dining Room?

Despite the “bumpy” start, I hope you’re enjoying your time back on the Carnival Leg End.
Debbie (tisdeh)

John Says:
Hello Debbie

Congratulations on choosing to spend this very special anniversary on your Carnival Dream. With regard to the Steakhouse reservation, have a look at this.


Therefore I would choose to eat in the steakhouse on November 20 after leaving Freeport, Bahamas. It’s an early port so this will leave you plenty of time to come from ashore, rest, change and make it a perfect night.
Thanks for the kind words
Best wishes

Des Asked:
Hi John, (Please respond)

Thanks for the great blog, as usual. Are we correct in assuming that you will not be on the great Carnival Dream when it leaves from New York on the 15 November 2009?
Best Wishes
Des & Carol (Cape Town SA)

John Says:
Hello Des and Carol

Yes, and I know that I am letting many of you down by not being there. I will though be holding a 2 pm welcome aboard cocktail party and I will be posting details soon about this.
I truly wish I could be with you.
Best wishes to you both

Rus Franklin Asked:
John, reply if you have time:

Thanks for the information re: your 2010 schedule.

I propose that we West Coast bloggers need to start a campaign for a Nov 20-28, 2010 bloggers’ cruise onboard the beautiful Carnival Spirit where John Heald will already be CD. What a treat for those of us who cruise out of San Diego and Long Beach to get to show YOU a part of the world you haven’t visited yet. The rugged beauty of that part of the world is truly wonderful, and something that the rest of your bloggers need to experience.
Just my two cents,

John Says:
Hello Rus

Thanks for your 2 cents which are worth so very much more. I know that I have been somewhat “invisible” to those of you who live on the west coast and being on the Carnival Spirit next year will hopefully correct this just a little bit.

We are still discussing the Bloggers 2010 cruise and I will put the Carnival Spirit and Carnival Splendor into the pot.

Hope to hear from you again soon.
Best wishes

Thad B Asked:
John, Please Reply

John I sent this letter about our Cruise Director James Charlton to Chris Prideaux and asked if he would reply and have never got a reply. Would you please see that this gets forwarded to him or whoever it needs to go to about Mr. Charlton. He did an awesome job and want to make sure that people above him know about it.

September 24, 2009

Chris Prideaux
Dear Sir:

I am writing this letter to you in reference to Mr. James Charlton cruise director on the Carnival Glory on Sept 12, 2009 –Sept. 19, 2009. This was my first ever cruise. I want to say that I had the best time of my life on the Glory. James does an outstanding job as a cruise director. He is very professional and informative. I went on the cruse with friends that have been on several cruises before so they knew the ropes. I still took it upon myself to go the Shore Excursions session with James even though I had mine planned. He did an awesome job with informing the guests of the shore excursions available to us. He was also very informative on what not to do in the ports. I definitely didn’t want to end up in jail in a foreign port of call. I wasn’t able to attend the debarkment session with him, but I did watch it on the TV in the cabin and that was very informative as well. You would see James always walking around the ship with a smile on his face. He was very personable when you would approach him to ask him a question. I was able to get to speak to him briefly with my friends on the Friday before we got off the ship at the coffee shop. I really appreciate him talking to us and taking pictures with us that afternoon. He also did a great job hosting the shows at night on the ship, and I have to say that the talent show on the last night was awesome as well. I laughed the whole show especially when someone came out as Dolly Parton. I didn’t realize until my drive home on Saturday when my friends said didn’t you know that was James. I guess I was having such a good time that I didn’t realize it was him if in fact it was him. That was probably the best part of the show that night. Very comical act during the show. I plan to take another cruise and would love to be on the same ship as James is due to the fact that we had such a good time. I would also like to say the morning show that he does was great as well. Very informative about the upcoming events for the day and comical at the same time. I have to take a moment also and say that all of the other entertainment staff on the ship did a great job as well. I will name a few that I remember. Island girl and Matt the assistant cruise director. We had a medical emergency about 2.5 to 3hrs when we left St. Maarten, and we had to return to the port of call so that the guest could get medical attention. James was very prompt to notify us of the emergency and let us know that we would have to return. I want to also commend the Capt. and his staff for being able to make up the time we lost and getting us back home on time. Once again THANKS James for making my first time cruise so much fun and entertaining. Hope to sail on a ship with you again. Please send me a reply that you got this email. I am hoping that James gets this to and responds.

Lloyd T. Bowman

John Says:
Hello Lloyd.

This is absolutely fantastic and a joy to read. James Charlton is one of our rising stars and I am sure it won’t be long before he obtains full cruise director status. I know he will be thrilled when he reads this and I will make sure he and Mr. Prideaux both get a copy of your words of praise immediately.

Many thanks for taking the time to write
Best wishes

Marianne Walker Asked:
John (or Craig) – please reply!

I was in a group of three couples that had the pleasure of sailing with you on the Liberty in July 2006; the fabulous itinerary included Venice, Dubrovnik, Naples, Palermo – it was just great. Last year we enjoyed a cruise on the Triumph, and next month my husband and I will be taking two of our three children (daughters age 28 and 17) on the Freedom cruise starting November 21. Some time ago I asked your opinion on what you might consider a “don’t miss” on this cruise, but I didn’t say “please reply” and I can’t even find that earlier post, so perhaps I didn’t do it correctly. Anyway, I now have a request, if it is in your power and you are not too backed up responding to all your fans. We are confirmed for the late seating; would it be possible to be seated at a table for four? It would be nice to spend this quality time with our girls. I wish I had more time to read your blog; sometimes I laugh out loud. Thanks for all the things you do, both for Carnival and for its guests.
Best wishes to you and your family,
Marianne Walker

John Says:
Hello Marianne

I am glad you decided to post another comment with a John Please Reply added to it. There are many don’t miss things on the Carnival Freedom which has always been a favorite ship of mine. Please take the family to the steakhouse and enjoy some time together enjoying the amazing menu. Don’t miss any of the shows especially the Beatles tribute called “Ticket To Ride” and anything involving your Cruise Director Wee Jimmy. Please attend his Fun Talk on the ports of call and ask him or the shore excursion team any questions about what is right for your family. As for the dining reservation I will indeed ask the Maitre D to do his best to accommodate you accordingly.

Have a wonderful cruise and my best wishes to you and your family.

Cruisin’ Librarian Asked:
Hi John, (Please reply, or if anyone else knows….)

Hubby and I couldn’t take much more of your descriptions of the new ship, so we booked the two day cruise to nowhere on MY Carnival Dream out of New York next month. We loved our cruise with you on board Carnival Freedom two years ago in the Med and there was the most wonderful guy who worked the piano bar. I think his name was Ron Pass? Does he still work for Carnival and if so where is he? Any chance we’ll see him on *my* Carnival Dream? Sorry we won’t get to cruise with you again this time, but perhaps next year when you’re on Carnival Pride.

John Says:
Hello Crusin Librarian

Congratulations on booking your Carnival Dream out of the Big Apple. I will be there for this cruise with you and hopefully we will see each other. The man you refer to “Ron Pass” is one of our premier Piano Bar entertainers. I think he is currently on the Carnival Valor or maybe the Carnival Splendor but I will check. The Piano Bar entertainer on your Carnival Dream is a chap called Damien who is absolutely brilliant as you can imagine being chosen to be on our flag ship.

I hope you will spend some time listening to him and enjoying all the facilities of this incredible ship.

See you soon
Best wishes

Maribeth Kring Asked:
Dear John, Please Reply,

I was just wondering where Carnival got the misinformation that most land based casinos were non-smoking? I have yet to go in a single one here in the States that doesn’t allow smoking.

John Says:
Hello Maribeth

That’s very interesting because I was told the same thing that most of the Vegas and Atlantic City casinos were mostly non smoking. I apologize if that was incorrect information. Has anyone been to Vegas recently and can confirm or deny? What are your thoughts Maribeth on the cruise industry and smoking? I would appreciate your comments.
Best wishes

Peg Dunbar Asked:

It was Friday, no pictures of Kye 🙁

I remember when you were Dolly Parton in the Legends Show on the Splendor, you were fantastic. I can’t imagine anyone else doing Dolly Parton now 😀

Could you please have the CD on the Carnival Ecstasy on your blog? Mike and I are going on a group cruise on January 14th; leaving out of Galveston. I would love to know all about the CD and the Carnival Ecstasy. This will be the first time we have gotten to drive to the Port instead of flying. I was also wondering since she is now in Dry Dock will she have WIFI in the cabins then? I like to take my laptop and use it in the Stateroom and upload all my pictures. I was also wondering if there could be a place for our group to meet on one of the sea days. There are about 60 of us.

And for the last question. Any news on the Magic and Europe in 2011? I am not very patiently waiting for news. Our friends, and I (Mike will probably be dragged once again ; ) ) want to go, but they do not want to wait until 2011. I keep telling them that Carnival will hopefully be going back in 2011. To be honest I have looked at other lines but nothing appeals to me. Carnival makes it so easy and we know how we will be treated and what to expect. There is a lot of interest on CC about Europe and I do believe you can fill that ship up and we can all be happy once again 😀 Please use all your charm and love for Europe and Carnival, to once again go there and your love for being on a new ship. Did I lay it on thick enough for you LOL?

Keep smiling John, you truly are one of the good guys.
My best to Heidi and Kye

John Says:
Hello Peg

I hate that dress and I hate the pendulous fake breasts……..even though after taking the dress of……I still have pendulous breasts………..bugger.

Your Cruise Director for January will be the incomparable………..and I mean ……… incomparable Mr. Steve Cassel. I posted his bio on this blog thingy.

The ship will indeed be receiving Wi-Fi during her Evolutions of Fun upgrades. Please could you remind me mid December that you would like a meeting point for your group and I will be happy to help arrange this for you?

I know that many people (myself definitely) included are hoping that Carnival will announce a return to Europe in the future. Nothing has been confirmed or denied as yet although I do have our super spy PA 007 on the case and as soon as he knows we will know.

Thanks so much for the kind words.
Best wishes to you and your family

That’s all for today and I will be answering more on Monday.

Just a quick note. A regular blogger forwarded me a thread thingy from the Cruise Critic Boards about me and the blog. I won’t post the actually comments as I have not had permission from the authors to do so. Basically it discusses how some are mad ………… no…………that’s too strong a word…………upset……….yep, that’s better ………….upset at me for continuing to assist with requests etc here on the blog thingy.

I am not going to say much except I am simply doing my best to help as many people as possible and while some requests are somewhat direct, most are written politely. And there are many requests that I have been able to assist with that truly have enhanced the cruise. I am not sure if I understand why this upsets others as I try and help everyone who writes to me and I think this blog thingy is unique in the industry for doing so.

Anyway, I apologize to those who are upset at me for helping others and maybe they are right……………bugger…………now they have me second guessing myself. Anyway, for now I will continue to help as and when I can and have a read of the thread thingy and let me know, if you want, your thoughts on this.

OK, let’s move on.

Do you remember the scratch off lottery tickets we sell onboard? $1 for a chance to win anything from $1 to $1,000? Well, they are no more. ‘They have passed on! This scratch ticket is no more! They have ceased to be! They have expired and gone to meet their maker! ‘They are a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘they rests in peace! Their metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘They have kicked the bucket, shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-SCRATCH TICKET.

Bugger – slipped into Monty Python there, sorry about that.

Anyway. The ticket is being rolled out by a new and exciting one. Have a look at this:


The tickets are now called Cash Craze and come in a pull tab form rather than the old fashioned scratch thingy. The tickets will be sold for $5 each, and will consist of 4 pull tab tickets, and 1 raffle entry.

Each of the 4 pull tab tickets will have 3 separate tabs for a total of 12 chances to win per ticket with prizes from $5 to a huge $1,500. Hidden behind each of the 12 pull tabs are three symbols. These will be revealed when the tab is peeled back by the guest. If the 3 symbols are the same, the ticket is a winner and the guest will be awarded the cash amount as detailed in the legend printed on the ticket.

Now, at the bottom of each Cash Craze is a raffle ticket. You fill the ticket out and drop it off in tombola thingy in the Casino. On the last day of each cruise a ticket will be drawn and the winner will have his or her bar bill paid off up to the amount of $500……… oh ………and you win a photo of me in my underpants.

These pull tabs will I know already, be so much more popular than the old ones. The tickets will be available from the Casino, from the Bar Staff and the Entertainment Staff. Good luck everyone.

Let’s take a break and have a look at some gorgeous photos of our sister ship the Carnival Valor who was anchored with us today off the coast of Belize.







Just before we get a bit more serious I have to tell you that after the show last night I went up to the deck party. I was standing by the bar with the Hotel Director and watched as a group of vampires………sorry……….guests………….stood in a line at the bar and drank Tequila slammers. Talking of drinking…………don’t drink a Tequila slammer down in one. This is surely the most overhyped cruise ship drinking experience ever, which merely makes guests pull a face like they have just seen Judge Judy and me having rumpy pumpy on a trampoline……. before……….eventually……. vomiting.

I wanted to thank you all for your support regarding the comment that was made suggesting that I was selfish for leaving Heidi and Kye. I must admit it has been playing on my mind these last two days and I think affected my job performance here on the ship and the blog I wrote that day was about as boring as I have ever written………who cares about bloody taxis? Yes, I know I shouldn’t let this get to me but unfortunately it’s too late……….it has. And it couldn’t have come at a worst time because today of course is Kye’s birthday……………she is 5 months old.

You know, I actually considered going home. This is not a play for sympathy, it is though the truth. I see many of the ship’s officers, staff and crew who have missed seeing their sons and daughters growing up. They have missed seeing their first smile, their first word, their first walk and their first….well………everything. This was brought crashing home to me yesterday when I went for dinner with the Captain and Senior Officers. One of the Senior Officers has his 2 year old son onboard. He has not seen him for 4 months and while I was talking to his wife she told me that for the first few days he wouldn’t let his Daddy hold him or play with him……….because he was a stranger. I was already feeling low but this…………well you can imagine how I felt. Somehow, I got through the Bedtime Story that night and it was a show that had the guests laughing out loud, very loud and their huge standing ovation for the three guests who were the stars was of massive proportions………..yet I have to admit, as funny as the show was, my heart really wasn’t in it. And that is not right and not fair to the guests and I was so very pissed off with myself.
I have now though told myself that I am not selfish and that the salary Carnival pays me is a salary that will support my wife and daughter. Am I selfish…………maybe……..does Heidi think I am……..absolutely 100% not. I will hope that they will cruise with me as often as they can next year and that will definitely help. I love being a Cruise Director. I love the sound of laughter and I love reading the comments from those who have appreciated my entertainment and I love writing and communicating through this blog.

And it’s the love of my job that keeps me going and the knowledge that every penny I earn is for the girls. I will not let comments suggesting that I am selfish get me down because I am not……….and life will continue. However……..if Kye wouldn’t let me cuddle her because she didn’t recognize me…….well……..I think that would soul destroying.

My apologies for sharing these thoughts but this comment really got under my skin and that’s not easy as I am …… you know……….quite thick skinned.

Well, we can’t finish today’s blog like that, not on such a depressing note. Oh, talking about depression. The ship’s doctor told me that being type 2 diabetic means that I am guaranteed to suffer from depression…………….oh joy.

Let’s finish on something a bit happier shall we……….I mean………..really happy. Last night I met a beautiful young lady from Russia. She was at the coffee shop and as it’s my job to talk to guests I started to speak to this 20 something stunner. She was talking in Russian to the Coffee Shop server who is obviously also from the former Soviet Union. She said hello to me and how much she was enjoying her time onboard and that I made her laugh. As she spoke I couldn’t help but think of her as a Russian spy from a James Bond movie.

By now I had been joined at the Coffee Shop by the Captain, my great friend Alessandro Galotto who has recently joined the ship. We had arranged to meet for a coffee and a chat. Anyway, I introduced him to Miss Pussy Galoroev and I could see that he too was instantly charmed by this lovely lady. However, neither of us were prepared for what was about to happen because she looked at me and said “You make me feel so hot, let’s have rumpyov pumpyov.”…………OK, that’s not what happened. What did happen is that a balding man in his late fifties whose waistline made mine look like Kate Moss’s waddled over, kissed her full on the lips and as if to show the Captain and I that she belonged to him………..he patted her on her Megan Fox like bottom.

I tried not to be fazed by this and stuttered some kind of introduction to myself and the Captain……..I might mention at this point while I handled the situation quite well, Captain Galotto stood there, with his mouth open wide making it abundantly clear that he was thinking “what the f***?”

While Miss Galoreov was very kind I must admit that her husband (they had been married for a year) was a touch obnoxious. He had a huge diamond ring on his finger and his watch was something that only he and Pee Diddly would wear. He told us that he was a self made multi millionaire and that they were staying in the Penthouse and he proudly boasted to the Captain about his house on Lake Como in Italy.

It is so easy to misjudge people, I am sure they are in love with each other and it would be wrong therefore for me to finish today’s blog by suggesting that later that night in their Penthouse……… the oohs and aahs coming from this millionaire’s bed …….. were being made by Miss Galoreov fantasizing about her next Chanel purse.

See you on Monday.

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.