Start Spreading The News

November 6, 2009 -

John Heald

It’s Thursday night and I have to finish the blog today as there is bugger all time to write. So, here I sit in my underpants at 10:50 pm having just returned from a long day of meetings of which I will tell you more about later. I returned from the posh meeting in the posh building that used to belong to the newspaper that Superman worked for. While the important people got limos to sleek them back to the hotel, I stood on the street corner along with dozens of other poor and freezing cold bastards trying to get a cab.

Eventually one stopped and in I got and bugger me if there wasn’t a TV stuck into the back seat area……….very posh. I sat there in the back of a yellow cab listening to some middle eastern rap music by Musthafa Pee Diddlyaden pondering the usual questions …………. why does the meter already say $20 when we have only gone 10 feet? Will the cabbie explode if I ask him if I can pay with my Carnival credit card? Why am I am in this cab when the sod next to me is in a black Mercedes 600 looking at me through his blacked out windows thinking “I am better than you fat boy.”………..when something unpleasant happened. There were three loud bangs on the passenger side door as if a horny elephant was trying to hump the cab………. and at the open window appeared the snarling, face of one very pissed off cyclist.
And so I sat there listening to this chap fire of a volley F words and in-between him accusing Mr. Abdul the cab driver of having sexual relations with his Mother it became clear that the cyclist thought that the taxi had been traveling too close.

The cabbie, who had stopped now, disagreed. So the cyclist started hitting his wing mirror until the driver, now somewhat unhappy, got out. It was then that Mr. Bike pulled a padlock chain from his pocket and flung it with force at the cab beating it three times on the hood of the car ………….then quickly sped away on two wheels.

I was now worried that Mr. Abdul was going to drive after him but he didn’t. He just did his window up………and off we went again

One thing I do love about New York though is the delis. I have never seen so much choice. For lunch today I decided not to sit in the stuffy boardroom with the people I will be talking about later in the blog and so I went to a deli, for a sandwich. A simple sandwich. Until I came to ships, I had always thought of sandwiches as a British thingy, like a good cup of tea, spotted dick or Simon Cowell……….the last two being the same thing.

And not just because the term “sandwich” comes from Britain — it takes its name from the 4th Earl of Sandwich, who is said to have demanded a handy-sized meal during games of croquet in days of old but because a sandwich complements so many other parts of British life, from polo to cricket to sitting in a car at a beauty spot waiting for the rain to stop.

To my mind, egg and cress, cheese and cucumber, and cheese and pickle are as British as fish and chips or roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. But then I discovered our New York Deli sandwiches on Lido which are good but different than the Deli I went today.

The menu board at this deli was overwhelming — eight types of bread, 30 pre-named sandwich choices, from the generic Reuben or Philly Cheese Steak to house specials such as “the Frank,” “the Alice,” as well as a host of à la carte fillings from lox and cream cheese to home-made brisket (have no idea what the heck that is), pastrami and chopped liver ……………I stood there …………..having no bloody clue what to order.

It took me at least 10 minutes to approach an American deli counter with even a hint of confidence. And in the end I was too scared to order anything but a BLT on wheat bread which was served to me by a man mountain of a man whose hands were the size of my thighs. Lettuce and tomato. He looked at me and said “That’s it?” as though I have somehow failed to dream up a sufficiently complex sandwich to warrant his time. I said “That’s fine mate” as confidently as I could hoping that he wouldn’t put me in his mincer and serve me on a lightly toasted bagel. I sat and ate my delicious sandwich and sipped on my Diet Coke and read the menu boards.

Apparently (and I made notes about this on my raspberry) the number one sandwich at this Deli was something called a Bahn Mi which is a crusty demi-baguette, lubricated with mayonnaise and pâté, filled with ham, turkey, chicken and pork, and topped with pickled vegetables, lettuce and coriander, peppers and spices. No wonder Godzilla behind the counter was pissed off at my BLT order…………next time I will have the crusty demi-baguette, lubricated with mayonnaise and pâté, filled with ham, turkey, chicken and pork, and topped with pickled vegetables, lettuce and coriander, peppers and spices…………………..and cheese.
I Love New York

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

Andrew Asked:
Hello John (please reply),

I just noticed that the cabins have been re-classified on the Liberty. My 9A aft wrap is now a 9C. Not that it matters much as I like these aft wraps a lot. Just wondering why they decided to change the classifications.

I heard on cruise critic about the new safety briefing (life boat drill). Is this fleet wide now?
One last thing. I wrote a message on another blog of yours about the steakhouse. As I stated before I’ll be on the Liberty Dec. 5th for the week. What would you consider a good night to book the steakhouse? It is my g/f’s first time on a cruise and my third with Carnival. I’d love to do something special for her and I think she would be amazed by the steakhouse.
Anything else you can recommend that would be great to. Thanks and happy cruising.

John Says:
Hello Andrew

Thanks for taking the time to post a comment here on the blog thingy. I am checking now into the cabin classification question you answered and hope to have an answer before this blog is posted. So, let me move on to the question on the safety briefing which is indeed a fleet wide obligation now for all guests to attend. The main difference for the guests is that you no longer need to take your life jacket to the muster stations anymore and we have added some more information about general safety onboard the ship. It has been well received so far.

You have chosen a great night to eat at the Steak House and it will be a special and romantic night for you. Why not have a stroll on deck after dinner and enjoy the Caribbean air and with all of this and the possibility of a glass of wine or two……….it may be the perfect night to ask your girlfriend to ………..well…………you know…………..just a thought.

Have a great time and I will hopefully get back to you today about the cabin question…………….in fact, I just got the answer. Here are the new cabin categories for the Conquest class ships.






Best wishes to you both.

RonRN Asked:
Hi John, Reply if you like .

I promised a review of my September Carnival Inspiration cruise, late I know, but that life thing has been getting in the way.

I must say this cruise was even better than the same cruise 1 year previous, service was outstanding, not 1 complaint, what a great crew. The shows were the same, but I believe they were better this year as well. Jacques was filling in for Skippy, and he did a fantastic job. Live music was always great, and numerous venues to enjoy.

One thing I had not seen before was how well the Serenity deck was utilized. This is my favorite place to relax during the day, but there were activities there at night as well. Mojitos and Cigars was my favorite, but every event was enjoyable. Tables were set up and music playing, under the stars. I loved it.

In response to your question about dining, when I cruise solo, I don’t eat in the dining room, I enjoy the alternate dining and the deli.

Wish I could have cruised with you on the Carnival Legend, that life thing again. It is still my goal to cruise with you. Looking forward to my Feb cruise on the Carnival Miracle, only 107 days. Going to look into the Cunard cruise of the U.K., sounds like a great cruise.
Take care,

John Says:
Hello Ron RN

Thanks for posting this great review of the Carnival Inspiration. The new Evolutions of Fun upgrades and the brilliant crew have made this one of our most popular ships and it’s great to hear that you enjoyed the cruise so much. The Serenity Decks are just perfect to relax on and as you said, host activities and events there as well. I love the Mojito service, that’s a great idea and as a cigar smoker it’s always nice to see a cigars under the stars event.

I hope life does give you the chance to cruise again and hopefully we will get to do it one day together.
Best wishes

Chris Zachry Asked:
Hi John, Please Reply…

I just had a quick question for you. My girlfriend and I are booked for the Carnival Dream March 6, 2010 and are excited about this new ship and these ports of call. Since we have not been to neither Isla Roatan nor Belize, we are planning on partaking in the most exciting excursions we possibly can. I have a specific question about the Land Rover and Cave Expedition (in Belize) – The excursion website indicates that all vehicles are manual transmission. This may sound dumb, but if neither of us can drive a stick shift, can we still participate? How does this work if we can? Will we be grouped with another couple?
Thanks for the great work you do! We really appreciate you!!
Chris and Kristie

John Says:
Hello Chris and Kristie

I will look forward to seeing you on your Carnival Dream cruise in March where I will be CD with you. The tour you mentioned in Belize is an excellent one but unfortunately all the jeeps are stick shift, none are automatic. Now, you can go with a guide in their jeep but honestly I think half the fun of this tour is driving it yourself. Stick shift really isn’t that difficult though, I am sure you could do it. If you decide not to take this tour based on this information then you really should think about the Zip Line tour. It is thrilling and I promise you will have an awesome time.
Let me know if you have any other questions
Best wishes

Torbelinoblanco Asked:
John (Please reply),

We are looking forward to our January 14, 2010 cruise on the Carnival Spirit in which we’ll be celebrating our 40th anniversary (Jan 16th). I’m trying to set up a dinner at the Steak House but don’t want it to conflict with the first elegant night as my wife wants i.e., expects, lobster on two nights. Since the cruise starts with two sea days the Carnival phone representative was not able to be definitive. Are you able to help me? Thanks in advance!

John Says:
Hello Torbelinoblanco

Congratulations on booking your special anniversary cruise on the Carnival Spirit. The elegant night is on the first of the two sea days so you can book your steak house meal accordingly. Please let me know if you have any other questions and may I wish you a very happy 40th wedding anniversary.
Best wishes

Carol Dooley Asked:
Hi John,(please reply)

Love your blog thingy, I just discovered it a month or so ago. You always make my day with a good laugh!

John, my son and I will be sailing on the Dream on Nov. 15th.

We last sailed with Carnival over 8 years ago. Well John, 8 months ago I quit smoking after 40 years and this cruise will be my reward!

I saved up and made the Dream a goal!

In honor of my achievement and MY dream of becoming a non-smoker, due you think I could be worthy of receiving a “ship on a stick” award?
Yours truly,

John Says:
Hello Carol

The simple answer is yes; of course you can get a trophy for quitting smoking and for rewarding yourself with a Carnival cruise on your Carnival Dream. I will ask James the ship’s Assistant CD to make it so.

Best wishes and thanks for the kind words about the blog.

Herman and Alice Asked:
Hi John,

My wife and I will be on the Dream on 11/15/09. We are looking forward to experiencing the new ship. Pictures look great!!! Appreciate all the information you provide.

Our cabin is 7233 and I would like to know if there is any way to reserve a table for two in the main dining room? We have early sitting. My wife’s birthday is 11/16 so this will just add to how special our cruise will be!!!

Any comments on the cabin or the category (11) would be great!
Thanks so much and we look forward to your reply.

John Says:
Hello Herman and Alice

Your cabin is superb and I am sure you have seen the virtual tour of it that is available on If not, have a look. It will be a great place to come home to after experiencing all that your Carnival Dream has to offer. I will send your table request to Ken on the ship to see if he can oblige. Please make sure you take the time to meet him, he is a great guy.
Have a wonderful cruise.
Best wishes to you both

Karen Asked:
Hi John – Please Reply

I very much enjoy reading your blog daily. Thank you for always keeping us updated. One suggestion that I would like for you to pass on is regarding the perks or lack of them that is included with the suite categories. We are booked on Carnival Dream in a GS as it is now referred to and although Carnival does not have concierge for these levels it would be nice if some extra perks came along with them other than VIP embarkation. I have cruised in suites on other cruise lines and I have to say it was nice to come back to complimentary snacks in the afternoon, SPA bath and shampoo products and limited complimentary sodas and water in the suite. These are just small little touches that I think would enhance booking one of the suites in addition to the extra room. Just a thought that maybe you can pass on to the decision making team.

Thanks again and see you in February – Karen

John Says:
Hello Karen

Ahhhh, the suite life. It is interesting to read that you state other cruise lines do more for those guests who book suites. So, before I pass your thoughts along I wondered if you had some sort of idea of the additions you would like to see for those who do book the cat 12 cabins. I see you mentioned the water and sodas but wondered based on your experience of “other cruise lines “what they do and what you would like us to do as well.

I look forward to hearing back from you on this subject and thanks for the kind words about the blog.
Best wishes

David & Lucy Asked:

John, I have a question I’d rather ask in private. I know its unorthodox for you to give out you e-mail address and I perfectly understand, however, if you could reply to me at my address associated with this blog and let me reply back I’d really appreciate it. BTW, it’s not a bad thing, just a dilemma that I don’t know which way to go with.

John Says:
Hello David and Lucy

I have asked Stephanie to send you the e mail address for our social network sight and please e mail her and she will make sure I see it straight away. Here is the address

Please let me know how I can help.
Best wishes to you both

Brian Asked:
Hi John

(Please forward along to anyone you feel appropriate)
My wife and I just got back home from the Carnival Victory (sailed from San Juan the 11th through the 18th). This was our 3rd together (my 4th). While I must admit it wasn’t my favorite ship (that would be the Valor) – it was the best time ever.

I wanted to call out two people that made a difference in this cruise. The service we received from Eugene and Hanna (Pacific Dining Room early seating) far exceeded our already very high expectations.

Having been on three other cruises, I know what levels of service to expect from Carnival. Top notch – above Disney (and that’s saying something).

In addition to remembering who drank what, and who ordered a second ice cream with their chocolate melting cake every night (yes every night) – all of the things a repeat cruiser expects with Carnival – Eugene and Hanna made us felt like they wanted to be there. They had engaged us at a personal level. This was not a job, it was very important to them that dinner was spectacular – and it was.

We filled out our comment cards at the end of the cruise, but I wanted to make sure that someone else knew about it. You never know what happens to a comment card in the bottom of a box. The service was so good. Please forward this to everyone that would value it.

Do you have to put please reply at the top of your message for you to reply?

My first cruise was in May of 2001 on the Carnival Triumph with John Heald as the cruise director. I was in awe of the ship, food, and service. Just wanted to make you aware that 8 years later I still remember how cool the cruise director was. Thanks.
Have a good one…

John Says:
Hello Brian

Your words of praise for the Carnival Victory were received at the perfect time. I had read a comment from a blogger in Virginia who had pasted some negative comments about the ship on Cruise Critic and while some of those comments need investigating it was as always a personal opinion of a passenger and its good therefore to see that we also have guests who had a brilliant time onboard. I will make sure that the right people see your words of praise and the two servers you mention Eugene and Hanna deserve special recognition……………..well done to them.

I do ask readers to mark questions that need me to reply to as “John Please Reply” …………..even though I read each and every comment it just helps the Stephanies and I pick out the ones that need my help. Finally, a huge thank you from me for those very kind words and I hope that you enjoy many, many more Carnival cruises in the years ahead.
Best wishes to you and the family

Jerry Calvert Asked:

John this is my periodic push for an improved interline loyalty program. Pls pass my comments on to the appropriate person in corporate marketing.

We travel all 3 major US lines –Carnival, Princess and HAL. Coming up on # 10 on Carnival Spirit, Have the Sapphire Princess booked and probably will book the Nooordam for next fall.
We need some loyalty program that reflects that.

You did such a good job on the life boat drill, that it thought you might help here.
I have one thought. How about having the “future cruise credit” (Princess term) able to be purchased on any of the lines, but usable on any of the lines. For instance a Princess FCC would be useable on Carnival.

I’m sure the individual lines have their “tunnel vision” profit concerns, but in the end it’s the profitability of Carnival Corp. that counts.

This program would not cause any “blurring” of the distinctions, between the lines. Pass it along, if you would.

John Says:
Hello Jerry

I know that there are many people who cruise regularly and many of those are also regular users of the Internet Cafe’s onboard. I for one will be talking about this during our CD conference on November 16. I truly think we can do a better job in offering better services here and I am totally on your side with this one.

The different brands within Carnival Corporation all have very unique loyalty programs. I have been asked before about combining them and when I approached the subject to someone at a very senior level I was told it would be easier to get me in a pair of 32 inch waist Jeans. Each line is so specific in what they do and what they offer and although it seems a great idea it truly is something very difficult to accomplish. However, the internet, well that’s a different story and I will let you know what happens as I report on the CD conference on the blog thingy.
Best wishes

That’s all for today. There will be more questions answered soon I promise.

Time for today’s photos starting with a collection from you………… great blogging friends as compiled in a photo album thingy by one of the 343 Stephanies.

Ship-Photos 2

And now some more simply brilliant photos from the mater Radu and his visit to Spain while on your Carnival Dream.













Well, as some of you may have seen from watching the Today Show on NBC your Carnival Dream has a very special Godmother. Here is a little video I shot yesterday in case you missed the news.

Last night I met Marcia Gay Harden during our planning meeting. She seems a very gracious person and very down to earth. That may seem like a clishe ………. clishay ……….. clisheh …………. seem like bollocks but I really mean it especially as one previous Godmother some years ago had all the charm and grace of a Baboon’s arse…………..anyway, I am honored to be sharing the stage with her and of course you will get to share in everything that happens.

Tomorrow though I will be attending the Big Book Of Dreams event at Rockafella Center and here is Vance’s official press release about the whole event.

Carnival Cruise Lines Teams Up with Marcia Gay Harden and St.Jude Children’s Research Hospital® to Encourage Children to Dream Big

So, you can see, it’s going to be a wonderful two days and a fun naming ceremony. I will be hosting it and was doing some research work Wednesday around New York. I can’t tell you too much more about the ceremony itself except that it’s going to include a huge dollop of Carnival fun. Tomorrow and Saturday Peter the Hair will be filming lots of things with his cameras and we will be posting them here on the blog thingy for you all to see. I promise to keep you included in everything that happens.

I am also thrilled that Carnival has committed to working with The St Jude Hospital whose care for very sick kids is incomparable. There are lots I can tell you about this organization but for me two things stand out. They don’t turn anyone away………….and it’s the only children’s hospital in the United States with no billing department. I know I can count on all of you to support the shipboard events over the next year and I am sure that we can include a special blogger event as we did for New Orleans.

During the last few days I have been surrounded by people who speak a strange language. A species who hug anything with a pulse and an all who have perfect teeth…………..because it’s the law if you want to work in public relations. I don’t want to be a vet and have to insert my arm in the bottom of a cow “just to look around.” I don’t want to be the person who has to wash my underwear and I certainly don’t want to be the cruise director on the Mall of the Seas and spend my day saying “sorry for the wait” a thousand times. But most of all I wouldn’t want to be a public relations executive. I am not talking about the Budweiser drinking, normal-teethed non-hugging Vance, Jennifer and Tim who work for Carnival’s PR department………….nope I am talking about a different kind of animal all together.

You see, I met with them all today at a huge office in a huge building in New York. These are the fine people who are helping us with the New York events and they are totally professional and their smiles from their perfect teeth are bright enough to make Stevie Wonder squint. But honestly……..I haven’t got a bloody clue what they do but I know PR is a very powerful weapon…… PR works for celebrities and PR put Obama in the White House but I wonder …………how they actually know if what they do has worked… Did the Eye Phone become a global phenomenon because of brilliant PR? Did the Betamax Video Player fail because the PR wasn’t good enough? Maybe. Maybe not.

In theory what you try to do in PR is raise awareness and shape public perception. But in reality what you do is take journalists and famous people out for lunch and try not to look too embarrassed when they don’t turn up.

You spend weeks trying to get a mention of the new self flushing toilet you’re promoting in any publication, no matter how small or insignificant. And you’ll find yourself punching the air in a Red Bull moment of ecstasy when you find that two dozen phone calls, the promise of some rumpy pumpy and six redrafted press releases have got the product on to page 14 of Trailer Park Weekly.

Things, however, are rather different if you work in public relations for the cruise industry. Because here you’re not trying to hug the journalists. It’s the other way round. Most young journalists are paid bugger all, which means they have barely enough money left at the end of the week to toilet paper and the chance of coming onboard a Carnival ship as our guest is of course a wonderful treat. Unless you are Gene Sloan and Anita Dunham Potter who eat caviar and peacock every night served by Latvian supermodels and George Clooney look a likes.

Yes, the world of PR is a strange and somewhat foreboding place. Today I tried to penetrate their inner circle but my teeth just weren’t up to it. Seriously though they gave me a media training class. Which really helped me I think. The lady who talked to me explained how I should use the media as much as they (the media) use me and to get rid of this idea that being interviewed by the media is something that is done to you. I can answer the questions and yet get my own message over, provided I make sure before the interview that I know what their key messages are. Now, providing you haven’t already slit your throat with a butter knife because you are so bored, let me share some of the “key messages” with you as I think you may find them very interesting.

1. Big Book and Big New Ship. I will be talking about the world’s largest children’s book which was created in celebration of our Carnival Dream, which is Carnival’s newest, largest and most family friendly ship ever.

2. St Jude Partnership – the book is dedicated to the kids of St. Jude Children’s hospital with which Carnival is embarking on a three year partnership with and we hope to raise them $3 million in that time.

3. Your Carnival Dream is 130,000 tons and will carry 3,646 passengers. It has 19,000 feet dedicated to kids and families.

4. New features include a stunning indoor – outdoor cafe and entertainment area called Ocean Plaza. A two level adults-only retreat called Serenity. A wrap around promenade encircling the ship and a 23,750 foot spa.

5. Your Carnival Dream offers innovative guest accommodations including the now world famous Cove balcony state rooms and guest accommodations for a five person family including two………yes two bathrooms.

6. Your Carnival Dream also features an expansive Water Park featuring the longest water slide at sea.

Those are the main points I will be covering during my interviews with Anita Sloan, Gene Dunham Potter and their colleagues. Plus I have a few of my own………..the shows………..the activities………the new pasta and burrito bars……..the Seaside Theatre Big Screen…………the Fun Hub………….oh and yes………………me………….I will be the CD in February and March.

I also learned something very very interesting today. Did you know that 50% of the population of the United States is only 6 hours driving time away from a Carnival home port? And that figure will increase next year when we sail the Carnival Fantasy out of Charleston. I know this because along with the perfect teeth brigade I was joined by our Chief Marketing Officer Jim Berra who has the most amazing analytical mind………………lucky sod.

Anyway, tomorrow is the first of two very busy days and while I am excited to be doing this I must admit that I am looking forward to flying to Bermuda to join your Carnival Dream …….. by the way Jim also told me that bookings for your new flagship are very strong and that it is the most popular ship in the fleet………………….so I have to ask……….have you booked yet? I will see some of you live for breakfast on Saturday and the rest of you through the blog and videos etc.

I was hoping to go and see our Godmother and Sopranos star James Gandolfini in their play Gods of Carnage but tickets are outrageous and I thought it would be a bit cheeky for me to say hello Marcia darling…….give us a free ticket, love.

I am surprised it’s doing so well. Gone are the days when people would be happy with a bit of chat from accomplished actors. Now they want Abba and masked Phantoms to fly over their heads and for a helicopter gunship to land on the stage. I wanted to go and see the cast perform some true and distinguished acting……………while secretly hoping that half way through scene two James Gandolfini would smash someone’s head in with a baseball bat, have some rumpy pumpy with some Latvian women before whacking the entire cast.

And late breaking news from PA 007 who has told me that he or she heard that the Oasis of the Thingy will be delayed in arriving into Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale due to unfavorable weather in the Atlantic. This proves that being biggest does not assure you of the best ride……although Heidi hopefully disagrees with that statement.

So, while your Carnival Dream is on schedule, looks like RCI’s new ship is arriving a bit later than planned. In the meantime their guests can always go to a shopping mall……………same thing really.

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.