Fun For All?…Well, Just Ask George

October 27, 2009 -

John Heald

It’s a great feeling having your photo taken and being told how much someone has enjoyed your show and that you are a good Cruise Director. It is also rewarding when you can turn a negative into some kind of positive and it is also very much part of the job to have to stand and listen to someone who regardless of what you say is going to want to tell you what I or the company I work for has done wrong.

This is the job of the Cruise Director.

I accept all of the above and even don’t mind when the odd lady puts her Chewbacca sized hand on my arse while having a photo………..this is all collateral damage….. as long as they don’t invade my personal space.

However, there are some guests who cross that sacred barrier, which they must know is there, and invade my territory. Last cruise this happened while I was waiting in the line at the salad bar ………….yes………the salad bar………my diet continues even though eating lots of lettuce and vegetables has left my arse looking like a chewed orange.

Anyway………I digress. I had been talking to all the guests around me except the person behind me who had only acknowledged my cheery grin and hello with a curt nod of the head…….and now this lady began to get closer and closer……….I could feel her breathing on my neck. It was human tailgating; where was her spatial awareness? I stood at the Caesar Salad bowl trying to guide my chubby arm under the plastic sneeze guard and with surgeon like skills manipulate a piece of lettuce into my bowl using the tongs. I could feel her breathing get louder and she then began to tut……”tut, tut, tut”………and then she let out a huge sigh as though I had just taken the last piece of lettuce the world would ever see.

I turned around and gave her smile. It didn’t work. The line moved forward towards the tomatoes and coleslaw……..and so did she this time her breathing was so close I could virtually feel the tip of her tongue on the back of my neck. Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and I turned around and gave her a look that I hoped said what I as a crew member couldn’t put into words…….“Can you take a step back please and while you are at it eat a bloody mint will you?” She glanced over her shoulder and shrugged – as if she had no room to back-up.

But this wasn’t the case. She had plenty of room. What I couldn’t understand is that she had no problem at all with the situation. How could it not bother her? I decided not to confront her further because then, on top of standing too close, she’d be talking too close as well…….and so I waved her in front of me and without a thank you or any kind of emotion she walked around me and started shoveling heaps of potato salad onto her plate and buggered off……….hopefully she wouldn’t choke on it.

I mean, was she angry that I as a crew member was in the salad line. I mean, it was not rush hour and I was entertaining the entire Lido Deck while there and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Even worse than neck-breathers are the guests who are close-talkers. Unless I’m about to stink my tongue down your throat, there is no other reason to be that close.

When I talk to guests one on one I am very conscious not to get to close. This is because I talk a lot on stage, on the phone and well………all day and I know that sometimes my breath can be as rancid as a skunk’s bottom …………..that’s why me and Mr. Sugar Free Mint are such good friends. ………. I don’t want to be able smell what the other person had for lunch and they shouldn’t have to taste mine either.

I’m curious what compels people to get so close in the first place. Were they born on a Tokyo Subway? Or maybe they’re a twin. Once you’ve shared a womb for nine months, personal space might not be such an issue.

The lady in the salad bar line was far too close ………..maybe she was a vampire …….. maybe my neck looked more appetizing than the potato salad……….maybe she had no sense of humor…………… maybe she hated me…….maybe she was a Space Invader ……….. maybe she was just rude……………. maybe she wanted to trim my ear hair for me ………… or maybe………….she was French.

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

Sherry Asked:
(Please reply). I was just curious if you knew if Ken will be the Maitre’d on the Dream’s Christmas sailing – Dec 19-26. We met him on the Dream and were in his dining room, we would love to know if he will be onboard then. If so we would like to try and get our group of 10 assigned to his dining room. Thanks!!!!

John Says:
Hello Sheryl

Ken has a whole army of fans who love his easy going style, Irish wit and of course his Sinatra songs that make dinner in his dining room so memorable. Ken will indeed be on your Carnival Dream for the Christmas cruise and of course if you let me know your details a few weeks before you sail I will do my best to have you seated in his dining room.
Best wishes

Deborah Rosato Asked:

John – below is the group list for the Steak House reservation for some of the “Transatlantic Dreamers” cruise critic group.

If you need my excel spread sheet, of the names/cabin numbers and total count, please advise where I should send. I have told the group that I will re-confirm the reservation with the Steak House 24 or 48 hrs prior, depending on what the Steak House would prefer, just in case there are any cancellations – just let me know.

Regarding our Meet & Greet – that has already been arranged – Thank you and Thank Todd – I was advised via email that we can meet in the Burgundy Lounge 10/28 from 11am – 3pm with Bar Staff – YEA!! Please let Todd know that I did respond to the email with my booking number to confirm – I’m still waiting a confirmation email. We would love to invite Todd to stop in and say HI!! Also, please remind him to post this in the Capers for those CC members, who don’t read our roll call on a daily basis and might have missed the date. – Thank you!!! ((((hugs)))) for all of you!!

Please let me know if I need to send any further information to confirm both the Steak House dinner and the Meet &Greet in the Burgundy Lounge.

8 more work days and I’m off to Rome – Can’t wait to say Hi to you in Bermuda – You are the best!!

All my best to you, Heidi and Kye,

John Says:
Hello Deb

I will pass your tanks on to Todd and the ship and I am glad we were able to help you with your meet and greet. I am sure it will be a wonderful experience and a brilliant cruise. I have confirmed the steakhouse reservations as you requested and if you could pop on up there at the start of the cruise just to confirm this I would appreciate it.
My best to you all

TIM Asked:
John, Please reply,

What is going on, on the Cruise to Nowhere on November 13 on board the Carnival Dream.? We are booked but know nothing of what’s in store for that weekend. Any info would be great.

John Says:
Hello Tim

Well, I can tell you that I will be there with you. I can tell you that you will see two magnificent shows and experience two hilarious comedians at our comedy club. There will be some travel agent seminars and I think I am hosting some kind of Q & A with our President Gerry Cahill as well as a press briefing. Apart from that you can expect two wonderful days of fun. Hope to shake your hand.

Best wishes and see you soon

Big Ed Asked:
John & Carnival, PLEASE REPLY

You will see from the list below FOX NEWS has the top 10 cable news programs. So why can’t we get it as the Carnival news channel in our cabins or on the BIG screen???? (BIG screen only for important breaking news) Almost all these shows outscore all others added together in there time slots.

(2Q 2009)

John Says:
Hello Big Ed

That’s very interesting and I will pass on your recommendation to our TV folks and I promise I will publish their response. Not sure Mrs. Big Ed would approve of number 10 on your list though.
Best wishes

Carolyn Asked:

Hi John:
I am booked in cabin 8473 on the Dream and read your response to Dave about this cabin not being a wrap around as shown on the Carnival deck plan. I had my TA talk to Carnival who said it is indeed a wrap around. From the pictures of the Dream, the cabin door is in the back of the ship and not on the side.

Have you had any other responses from the Hotel Manager regarding this issue? Thank you for addressing this and warm regards to beautiful Heidi & Kye.

John Says:
Hello Carolyn

Please don’t worry. As you have probably read in the past few blogs these partitions have now been removed. We apologize for the mistake but all is now I think well.
Thanks so much for the kind words
Best wishes

Fred Asked:
Hey John,

Thanks for all you are doing here. You were the CD on my first 2 cruises every – Carnival Ecstasy in 1994!! Was two awesome cruise weeks.

Question I have for you is this; we are sailing on the Carnival Dream on 12/19 – Christmas cruise- bringing our two girls for their first cruise (10, 11) along with 8 other members of my wife’s family. They are all (except me) from Quebec and most only speak French, Is there ANY way you can ensure there are some French speaking crew on board that week? A Cabin Steward who speaks French would be awesome (I can give you room numbers or booking number if you need)… Also, what recommendations can you give us for the influx of kids that will be on board that week for activities that they shouldn’t miss?

John Says:
Hello Fred

The Carnival Ecstasy seems a long time ago and I am very much looking forward to seeing the ship once she returns from dry dock and her evolutions of fun upgrades. Let’s start with the kids. Please don’t worry because Christmas week on a Carnival ship is very special and even Santa will be arriving with gifts for all the kids. Please send me the cabin numbers and I will see what we can do. We don’t have waiters or stateroom stewards from France (I won’t say why) but we do have some from Haiti and the French speaking Caribbean Islands such as Martinique and Ruadalope ……… sorry ………. Guadeloupe. I will certainly do my best. We do have French speaking staff at the Guest Services Desk though plus we will provide you with French menus and Capers translated accordingly.

Please send me your details at the start of December.
Best wishes and mercy bucket

Jane M Smith Asked:
Dear John (please reply)

How come almost every time I write something on the comment wall it keeps saying ‘Your comment is awaiting moderation’. I don’t get it?
Jane M Smith

John Says:
Hello Jane

Sorry about that Jane. Recently, we have started to read the comments before posting them. We do this in case there are any that may have something inappropriate in them. We publish 99% of the comments, including any that may not agree with what I say nor have a negative point to make…..but we have to be careful as I am sure you understand. That’s why the 343 Stephanies approve them before posting and with 200 comments a week it may take some time before yours gets posted…………but post it does get as you will have seen.

So, do you have a question? Please let me know.
Best wishes

Judy Asked:

Hello John please reply know you are missing your little one had to write, we and our son and daughter-in-law are taking our one year old great granddaughter on a cruise for her first birthday, silly she won’t remember but we will! Any suggestions to make it easier for her and everyone else. We have seen small children on other cruise even part of the time on the 49 day South America cruise, so we are excited. We think we can handle her since its four of us, we are leaving her parents at home. Thank you in advance we leave on the Glory Oct 31 also we are Platinum can we take our family with us to VIP room? hugs Judy

John Says:
Hello Judy

I think the most important advice I can give you hear is don’t worry and if you need help with your great granddaughter, please ask a staff member. If you need assistance in the dining room or anything in the cabin please ask. Don’t be shy, we are here to help.

I am sure the young one will have a great time. By the way, I met a couple this cruise that also had a young baby onboard. They brought him to all the shows and told me that just to be safe they had him wear ear plugs as the music etc can be loud for his young ears….. just a thought.

So, have fun and if you have any specific concerns please let me know.
Thanks for all the kind words and best wishes to you all

Avi Asked:
For John to answer

I have a simple question. Do you use the same humor you manifest on this blog while in your capacity as cruise director? I ask this because it is at times uncensored and quite cutting. I must admit to it being “not my cup of tea” as you Brits would say and wondered therefore if I could expect more of the same from you if I was to be on your boat and have you as our director?

John Says:
Hello Avi

Thanks for taking the time to write and yours is a very difficult question to answer. All I can say is that I do try to adapt to each situation I find myself in on stage and I guess that maybe yes………..this blog is an extension of my onstage personality at times.

Maybe bloggers who have sailed with me can answer this better than I.

Anyway, I hope you do come and sail with me and if you do I will try my very best to put a smile on your face and give you the best cruise vacation ever.
Best wishes

Tony M Asked:
Please Reply

We just returned from a great cruise on the Freedom and wanted to send you a huge shout out about the Cruise Director Butch. Next to you he is by far the best Cruise Director we have seen on our 11 Carnival cruises. He told us he owes you a great deal and thought you would be proud to read how well he is doing.
Keep up the great work.

John Says:
Hello Tony

Thanks for those glowing words for Butch. I receive a lot of great comments about him and indeed I am so very proud of him. I will make sure that he and the Miami office get to see this
Thanks again for taking the time to write.
Best wishes

That’s all for today………there will be more tomorrow……….bugger………….still 15 days behind………….bugger.

I also want to reply to this comment which one of the 343 Stephanie’s sent to me today

Bob Asked:
Recently, I posted an e-mail that was lively and full of fluff, but questioned whether John should have sent champagne to underage kids. That comment never saw the light of day and John’s post was edited by some Stephanie to delete his reference to his behavior, however well meaning, in violation of Carnival rules if not local law.

That said, I love this blog and think John is a character. I am a committed Carnival customer and hope to meet John one day.

John Says:
Hello Bob

Thanks for taking the time to write and please allow me to promise you here and now that no comment is edited or not posted providing it is fit for general viewing. Any post that is questionable is sent to me for my approval and apart from one last week that was a personal and vicious attack written by an ex-Carnival crew member I have not forbidden any comments to be posted. I certainly will post criticism of me as I did on Friday when a lady wrote saying she did not like my comments about Prince Charles’s wife Camilla …. oh and the fact that I posted this comment today.

Sometimes, posts get lost. You will have to ask one of the Stephanies how and why this happens. Anyway, please resubmit your comments and hopefully I will get to see it this time. I am curious about the comment that I gave champagne to underage kids. When did I do this? Please let me know.

Thanks Bob and thank you for your kind support of the cruise line and the blog.
Best wishes

The comments I found most interesting are the ones about the dining room. It seems that it is a rare thing to have people eat on Lido Deck every night and never go to the dining room. It also seems that more of you are coming around to the Anytime Dining option and that’s a good thing because choice…as we know…is king. Anyway, please, as always, keep your comments coming and I will be here to answer those that I am asked to.

Well last cruise finished off as it started with a mix bag of sun and showers as we sailed back to Tampa. All in all the guests had a great time I think………let’s have a look at the ratings compared to the previous cruise shall we.

And on we go to this cruise. Here is who is sailing on LE7051009.
26 – UK
Under 2 Years 3
2-5 Years 12
6-8 Years 14
9-11 Years 18
12-14 Years 27
15-17 Years 18
18-20 Years 22

Amongst the guests this cruise are a group of 243 gay and lesbian guests plus we have a group of 55 fire fighters from Chicago. These past few weeks have gone so quickly and I have had a wonderful time here. Anyway, there will be time to reminisce later this week.

We have had 5,200,000 hit thingies on the blog so far and some of those hits belong to the Mums, Dads, Brothers and Sisters who have Sons and daughters, Brothers and Sisters working onboard our ships. Many have told me how this blog gives them a look at what they do and that makes me feel good. One of those readers is the Mum of our Senior Technician Nick Herring. Nick and his colleagues are the unsung heroes of the shows, music and live entertainment onboard our ships. They manage the lighting, sound, special effects and the huge backstage operation all of which is such an important part of the shows and without which the show would definitely not go on. Unlike the dancers, singers and musicians these ladies and gents never get to take a bow. So, Mrs. Grouper ……… sorry……..Mrs. Herring (fish joke) you should be so very proud of Nick and I have enjoyed working with him so very much………..I can’t believe he is only 19 years young.

Anyway, let’s have our techs take a bow and here they are then:


From left to right that’s
Matthew Greek – Entertainment Technician
Scott Spear – Audio Technician
Adam Randall – Back Stage Manager
Nick Herring AKA “Mummy’s Boy “………Senior Entertainment Technician
Kyle Smith – Audio Technician
AnnWalker Schroth – Back Stage Manager

My thanks to them for the great job they do each and every week here on the Carnival legend and to their colleagues across the fleet.

Also in the news is Roatan and the new pier facility I mentioned last week. It is superb and here to give you the latest news on this our mate Vance who by the way…… mourning another heartbreaking loss for his beloved Miami Dolphins.

Vance – over to you

Ski-Style Chair Lift Debuts at Mahogany Beach Cruise Center in Roatan

I really wanted to get off the ship yesterday in Tampa as I have done in every time we have been here but yet again my destiny was to stay onboard. Last week it was United States Public Health and yesterday it was a 90-day United States Immigration check for all crew members and a Travel Agent function to host. This means that I had to let down some friends Tom and Jane who so wanted to visit the ship….I hope they will forgive me.

It was strange being in Tampa yesterday though because back in my home country the New England Pirates were playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at football……at Wembley Stadium.

I didn’t realize this until I was reading the local paper which had this wonderful editorial ……“Britain gave us The Beatles, James Bond and Shakespeare. And, in return, we are giving them the Bucs? What did the English ever do to deserve this?” Now, I know bugger all about American Football but I don’t need to be Jim Marino to know that this comment means ………ummmm……….the Tampa team are …………. ummmm ……..not very good and when your local paper apologies to an entire country for them then they really must be really, really bad.

I know that American Football is like Rugby except that the players wear more body armor than a Delta Force commando and they stop for a rest every 20 seconds. I know that it’s called football even though the skinny one is the only chap to use his foot. However, it seems my fellow Brits like it because Wembley Stadium was sold out as 84,000 saw a close game in which the New England 49ers beat the Tampa Buccaneers ………35-7…..guess the local paper was right…but could Tampa beat Vance’s Dolphins?

Just a couple of things before I go. I had to buy a new finger pricker today. I use this lancet to stick my finger and test my sugar levels. So, I asked a colleague to get me one during their trip to Wal-Mart in Tampa yesterday. He returned with one and I couldn’t help but notice the warning labels on the box. “Keep away from eyes and children. Use extreme caution.”

Keep away from eyes……….well that’s usually where I want to get a blood sample from …….my retina! My favorite is on the vacuum cleaners we use around the ship ……… they have a clear warning sign that says “strong suction……..keep away from your body.” I know these labels are to protect the manufacturer , should I decide one day to insert a vacuum-cleaner pipe up my bottom to remove a stubborn piece of last night’s dinner ………….but …….bloody hell……….the warning label world we live in is out of control.

You know, something’s been on my mind recently. It was a comment made on the blog some days ago about how a hard working travel agent was struggling to persuade a client that Carnival ship’s were not, as she imagined, to be full of college kids, drinking, partying and vomiting into the pool…………that image is of course……………total bollocks.

Analysts at Carnival will put down their tofu wrap and tell you that Carnival carries more seniors, children, families etc than any other cruise line but…..I keep thinking what I can do to persuade the few snobs who have never sailed on Carnival and don’t because of a false reputation. The term “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it” comes to mind. This is best summed up by the first person who saw white liquid coming out of a cow’s dangly bits and thought “mmmm, I am going to drink that”…………he was probably French.

So, here is a little video from last week’s Talent Show which I hope shows that Carnival truly does have Fun for All……..regardless of age …………as demonstrated by George.

What a exuberant voice and what a sparkling personality George has……and singing a song dedicated to his late wife………well………you don’t need me to tell you there were many a damp eyes out in the audience…….and one chubby CD had to fight from blubbering as well.

So, to all the skeptics and to all the people who have been told that Carnival is not for them, I present you George………..spirited, fun and 81.

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.