Talking Cruise Directors

November 17, 2009 -

John Heald

One of the many things we discussed today at the annual Cruise Director Conference was giving each Cruise Director their own Facebook page thingy so that they can stay in touch with the guests who want to keep in touch with their favorite Cruise Directors. Many are already doing this but doing so on their own personal Facespace book thingy which some expressed concerns about as their pages include photos of them maybe doing strange things with a solid gold ship on a stick. It was asked how many would like to have a company sponsored facespace page and while many said yes…………some looked on in horror……one CD had never even seen a Facespace book page.

Before the blog and before public internet pages guests or passengers as you were once known used to write letters………………remember letters…………and each week I used to look forward to these on home port days. Now of course the letter is about as popular as a fart in church and like the newspaper it will for sure die out completely and be as rare as a French war victory. In years to come, when mutated humans are born with cellular phones wired into their brains, it may be perfectly normal to talk with two people at once while texting a friend, checking your Facebook status, surfing the web and taking a poo.

For the moment, however, cell phone multi-tasking is the order of the day. I saw a colleague from our marketing department talking to a colleague, she was also on her cell phone and her eyes were constantly flickering towards the BlackBerry for incoming e-mails. When the CD conference started half the staff were texting under the table. …………… seems our Cruise Directors………….myself included are all showing symptoms of OTD, obsessive texting disorder. In the end it got so bad that our Senior Vice President Roberta Jacoby stated that anyone caught using their Eye phones or Raspberries would be tied to the smokestack, stripped naked and flogged with a wet Carnival beach towel by Fun Ship Freddy…………………….OK……………………she didn’t say that but she did tell us all to switch our electrical devices off……… we did.

All except one Cruise Director who was seated next to me. I saw that he had not actually turned his phone off but put it in his man bag……….don’t even get me started on the man bag thing ………….and I thought I would play a little trick on him. I knew his number and so using the speed-dial on my raspberry I rang the number without his noticing. And so Roberta’s talk on increasing onboard revenue was interrupted by a pop song which seemed to be asking the question “Don’t You Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me?”

Everyone stared…….and with a great flourish he grabbed his man bag, snapped it open, scrabbled through the crap he kept in there and found the phone ………… at which point I hung up. As soon as he put the man bag down, I rang again. On the third time the CD who shall remain nameless was given a massive bollocking by Roberta and all his colleagues at which point George Solano extravagantly switched the phone off………he then threatened to remove my dangly bits from the rest of my body using a pair of nail scissors.

I will chat more about our first day shortly but I must press on with today’s questions that need answering……… we go.

Janet Willis Asked:

John, We are sailing on the Dream 2/27/10. My sister and I booked cabins next to each other-7219 and 7223. Carnival is telling us that the balconies cannot be joined together. We notice in pictures, that we have seen on line, that there seems to be a door that could be unlocked between the balconies. Is this true of all balconies?

This has me very worried, as the ship is so full there are no other cabins to move to.
Thanks so much

John Says:
Hello Janet

I read your post and was a bit surprised so I decided to check with the Guest Relations Manager on your Carnival Dream. Here is what he told me.

These particular staterooms have balcony partitions opening towards main balcony doors therefore we are unable to open them and secure safely as we would. Here is the plan attached.

Thanks Hector. So yes Janet, I am sorry to confirm that the balcony doors cannot open into one large balcony. Please don’t worry though as the balconies really are quite large and will give you lots of great sea views as well as views of life on Promenade Deck.

I asked Hector to take a photo of your actual balcony and here it is.

I am sure you are a little disappointed but I promise you that you will have a brilliant time. Please let me know if you have a follow up question.
Best wishes

Cassandra Asked:
Dear John, please reply,
As I was cyber stalking the Spirit this morning via the San Diego webcam, I could not help but notice she is still equipped with the ugly old lounge chairs on deck! (The zoom capability on that camera is amazing!) Any thoughts on when those might be replaced by the new ones? I hate having to search for one that’s not broken, then fight with it to stay in position all day each time I reach for my Kiss on the Lips!

Also, we have quite a group of piano bar fans cruising aboard Spirit on the 19th of Nov., is it possible for you to tell us who the piano bar player will be? We understand the current piano man will be signing off next week & we are dying to know who is scheduled to be next!
Thanks so much, John, for all you do!

John Says:
Hello Cassandra

All the ships will have new lido lounge chairs by the end of the year including the Carnival Spirit. There really should not be any broken ones and if there are they are supposed to be repaired or replaced immediately. It is great to read how you and your friends love our piano bars. They have become a very important part of the entertainment structure on all of our ships and I am sure that right now you are enjoying the music and fun there. I know you will probably read this after your cruise is over but I wanted to say I hope you had a great cruise and to apologize for the late reply to your question.
Hope you had fun
Best wishes

Dan Asked:
John, Please respond to this question.

On the CruseCritic board, some are claiming, complaining that a couple of Carnival ships, (Triumph being one) have NO heating system built into the ship.

I cannot imagine a ship being built without any heat and would guess that it would violate some SOLAS rule.

What say you?

John Says:
Hello Dan

Thanks for giving me the chance to answer this thread thingy question. I spoke to the ship this morning and the Chief Engineer confirmed that the ship does indeed have heating for the cabins. I wonder therefore if you could pass this along.
Best wishes

Angela Guptill Asked:
Please reply:

Thank-you for the touching message you wrote on Mr. Zonis. He reflected the entire persona of Carnival and its employees.

Question: Is there a charge for the thalassotherapy pool and can we book ahead of our cruise as we would for the Spa? Thanks much, Angela Guptill/Dream Feb. 13th/10.

John Says:
Hello Angela

I am glad you appreciated my piece on the incomparable Mr. Zonis. I will be posting a page full of tributes to him later this week. There is indeed a charge for the thalassotherapy pool which also includes all the other private spa facilities. Please have a look at to see all the different packages and then you can indeed pre-book online and reserve the treatments of your choice. I am told the new bamboo massage is spectacular.

If you have any problems booking or need my help with anything please let me know.
Best wishes

Ernie Asked:
John and the many Stephanies,

RIP to Mr Zonis, he must have been a wonderful family man as well as a “mover & shaker” in the industry.

I have a request to make of all of you, we sail on our Carnival Dream on December 3rd, Cabin # 1263. 50 years ago on Halloween, Colleen & Ernie became husband and wife.

Yes, it was Halloween, as Ernie got out of Coast Guard boot camp on Wednesday, Colleen had to work Saturday until noon (we buried her uncle at 2 PM). We were married at 7 PM, had a light snack and left for a 3 day honeymoon as she had to be back to work on Wednesday, and I reported in on the following Saturday.

She joined me at my duty station mid January. She got $100.00 bonus for staying at the bank and $100.00 was big money 50 years ago.

This cruise in December is our gift to us, and is considered to be Our Anniversary Cruise!!!!!
I was wondering if something special could be done for my bride to surprise her. Please let me know.
Thank you,

John Says:
Hello Ernie

I will be seeing you very soon on your Carnival Dream cruise. Please can you leave me a note at the Guest Services Desk onboard the ship reminding me that it’s your anniversary and I will send you a little something to help celebrating your wonderful anniversary……..looks like you married her for her money!

Yours is a wonderful story and I look forward to meeting you both.
Best wishes

Susanne Asked:
John, please respond when you get time.

I just cruised on the Carnival Legend on October 25 and here are my thoughts on the cruise. I know it is long but I tried to cover everything.

• Embarkation was quick and the staff was very friendly. The only suggestion is that it would be helpful if you had a station set up strictly for the handicapped (based on the criteria used by Carnival to bring them to the front of the line that is in queue) since this would make it easier for them and would keep the regular line moving.

• The food was wonderful and most of it was even better than on most of the other ships (except for the greasy bacon on the lido deck—sorry, I do not like bacon greasy).

• The “new” Captain’s Reception was nice and gave you more of an opportunity to speak with the ships staff. The “new” Farewell Party was very good with the band playing with the singers for the entire party.

• On Deck 2, to get from the front to the back of the ship, you must pass through the casino which is filled with smoke so this is an area for improvement. The other pass through options are Deck 3 which is crowded at the Photo Gallery or the Lido (Deck 9) which is a bit far to go.

• Also, when I asked for my Platinum Past Guest Pin, I was told that they were out and it was only suppose to be while supplies lasted. I thought this was to be an ongoing perk.

• Our Room Stewart Aldo Morales was extremely nice and full of personality, our team waitress Kobkarn was very sweet and helpful, and our head waitress Valentina was probably one of the hardest working people on the boat because she also ran the lido food area and was constantly on the run.

• All of the staff was extremely friendly in all of the departments so I can see why they were voted the best ship. I was also on the Carnival Legend last October and this was not the case (they were fine but not like this time).

• Debarkation at the ports and in Tampa was also well organized even with the tenders in Grand Cayman and Belize.

• Your assistant, Craig, did a good job on the events that he hosted so I am sure one day he will make a good Cruise Director.

• Your explanation of the comment cards was clearer that the other Cruise Directors—you simply said that the only passing grade is exceeded expectations.

• Please do not stop the chocolates on the bed because that is the first thing that my grandchildren wanted, even before the gifts.

• The Cruise Director (John Heald) was the worst I have ever seen——just kidding, you know that you are the best. I was disappointed that you did not do the Talent Show and the Bedtime Story but I had assumed there just was not enough time because it was a very busy week (and reading the blog now I do see that was indeed the case). I also want to thank you for what you sent me which was very thoughtful and I am sorry we did not get to have tea but maybe next time. If anyone has never cruised with John as the Cruise Director, you need to because what you see of his personality in the blog is magnified on stage, in his announcements, and with his on board television show. He is unique with his sense of humor and his own special touches that you will never see from other Cruise Directors. With your busy schedule changing, I have missed you actually as the Cruise Director except for one time before, so this time I waited to the last minute to book to assure you would be the Cruise Director and even verified it with one of the 343 Stephanie’s. You were great on the Blogger’s Cruise but everyone needs to experience you as the actual Cruise Director. I am confused though on how it was your birthday on this cruise because I thought your birthday was January 22 (the same as my daughter-in-law’s and the day after mine) but maybe this is just part of your show. I was sorry to read on the blog that you were not feeling well and I thought that might be the case but it certainly did not keep you from the well deserved title as being the Best Cruise Director. My favorite ship was always the Carnival Triumph because you were the Cruise Director and made it so much fun but now I might have to add the Carnival Legend to that list. I did hear a lot of comments from fellow guest that you were different and better than other Cruise Directors they had before. Thanks for making it a wonderful cruise for everyone on the ship.

John Says:
Hello Susanne

Thanks so much for this great review of the Carnival Legend. I am so sorry that on this cruise I did not host the talent show and bedtime story as it was replaced by the Halloween Party …………. personally I really missed doing it as well. My birthday is January 22nd, same as yours, but as you saw the staff played a trick on me by pretending it was October 31st ……… Halloween ……….little buggers. On that note would you remind me nearer the time that it’s your birthday as well as mine………… will see why then.

I read with much happiness your words of praise for the staff and crew and I will make sure I send this to Mr. Guna the Hotel Director who will pass it along to those concerned.

Finally I want to say a huge thank you for your words of praise and support for me. They are truly appreciated especially right now as I feel quite tired after all the traveling these past few weeks. So, until we see each other again I send my best wishes to you and your family and hope to see you soon.

Kathy M. Asked:
Hi John, Please reply.

WOW, what a schedule you will have for the next two months, I hope you earn flight miles for all the traveling you do on the airlines (To bad Carnival did not give you a bonus for all the miles you have logged, do you know who many you have logged).

The reason I am writing is, where can someone get that cute bobble head of you, I just love it. I had never seen it before (I saw it on Bill (Zydecocruiser) from pictures on the Splendor). I bet if you sold them through your blog you would make enough to get that Austin Martin car that you want (I know I did not spell it right, but you know which one I mean, your dream car).

Also have you heard yet when the Bloggers cruise will be in 2010, I am hoping it will be while you are on the Carnival Spirit (I keep praying everyday).

Please send my love to Heidi and Kye.
From your #1 Bloggy Thingy Fan
Kathy M.

John Says:
Hello Kathy M

I am about to give those silly bobbleheads away again on the Bloggers cruise on December 3rd. We have lots left so they will be an extra gift for the people sailing with me. If we have ones left over…………and I expect we will…………I will find away to sell them online………maybe we could give the proceeds to the St. Jude Children’s Hospital? Anyway, I will keep you informed about this and I want to say a special thank you for being your usual kind and considerate self. I am always very happy to see your posts.
Best wishes

Scotty Asked:
John (please reply),

My wife and I have decided to celebrate her 30th birthday with our first cruise on the Carnival Dream (Jan 30 – Feb 6). We are more than excited to explore the ship and also the ports of call.

Any ideas/tips to make a special b-day ever more special on the Dream?

John Says:
Hello Scotty

This will be your birthday cruise and my first one as Cruise Director so we will both have lots to celebrate. Make sure on the night of your birthday you eat in the fabulous Steak House, you really must not miss this. Then you must not miss the Laser Show on lido deck and in fact none of the shows. However, on your birthday, after enjoying the Porterhouse Steak or the Maine lobster tail you will need to laugh off all that super food and so a trip to the Carnival Comedy Club should do the trick. Your Carnival Dream has a host of new facilities and on the morning of your birthday try the slides………..all of them…………..including the Twister. This will be a birthday you will never forget. Oh and don’t forget to have your wife write a special birthday celebration Dear John letter for my live morning show so I can tell the ship about your special day and maybe send you a little gift as well. If you have specific questions about the ports please let me know. If not………..I will see you soon.
Best wishes

David Asked:
Hi John. -Please Reply-

You are always so accommodating whenever any of the readers make special requests, so I figured I should give it a try. We sail on the Carnival Dream, March 27, 2010. Could you please make sure we have sunny skies and calm seas? Your help is appreciated!
Seriously, just a couple questions about My Carnival Dream.

If you choose assigned late dining, can you decided once on board to change to anytime dining?

Also I know it’s far in advance, but do you have any idea when the behind the fun tour will be offered? Is it the same day each cruise, or is it up the CD when it’s scheduled?
As always…..THANKS!

John Says:
Hello David

If I was to discover a Genie in a bottle who gave me three wishes I would ask for an Aston Martin DBS………a date with Megan Fox’s bottom and that as a CD I could control the weather. Until I meet the elusive Genie I will do what I always do and hope and pray for clear skies. As far as dining is concerned the time you are assigned is what you will have to keep for the entire cruise, meaning you can’t switch out to anytime dining on a random night. Obviously the reasons for this are all about scheduling tables and servers etc and this is something we need to do way in advance of the cruise. If you would like me though to help you with a dining request, please let me know. The Behind the Fun tour is now available on every ship in the fleet and is always scheduled for the last day of the cruise, usually to start between 9 am and 10 am. It is a great look behind the crew only door and I hope you get a chance to take it.
Best wishes

That’s all for today, more of course tomorrow.

You know the power of the blog, the twitter thingy and as mentioned at the start of my musings today, Facebook………… extraordinary. Have a look at this story which originated on Princess Cruises’ Facebook page and was picked up by the national TV stations.

Golden Princess Cruise Ship Makes A Daring Sea Rescue (click here to read the article)

Congratulations to the Captain and crew for rescuing both the couple and their trusty dogs and I am glad that this story was picked up by the networks……….it’s a sad story with a very happy ending and thanks to the internet it’s a story we can all share.

I wish Princess Cruises had a blog though.

Usually I write my blogs to you in my underpants early in the morning. Today I write to you in my underpants in my cabin here on the Carnival Imagination …………… 12:20 am.

It’s been a long day of talking and listening as Roberta and JC, the two folks in charge of Hotel Operations and Entertainment both set our their vision for the Cruise Directors. Before they spoke we had a visit from the people in marketing some of which had beards and all of which used words that had most of the CD’s doing their Scooby Doo impression……..”uhhhh.”

Anyway, it was a very productive day and although there are one or two things I can’t share with you just yet I can let you know some of the things we spoke about ………….here they are in no particular order.

1. The photo department is experimenting with some new and exciting features for purchasing photos. On the Carnival Dream and soon to be rolled out on other ships, is a camera capturing your excitement as you come down the water slide.

2. The Cruise Directors have been charged to use the open decks more at night including using the Serenity Decks. This is already successful on the Carnival Inspiration who feature a Mojito Madness Party, a Cozumel Sunset Sailaway and Cigars Under The Stars. Expect to see more activities then at night out on deck…………..I personally think this is brilliant as we don’t do nearly enough to utilize our open spaces.

3. It was confirmed that as of November 21st ships that hold Past Guest parties will be providing our Platinum guests with their pins and that by the same date the onboard shops will have them for sale. This includes the 3 and 4 day ships that do not currently hold repeat guest functions.

4. It was confirmed that the widget has been replaced by the Carnival funnel as the symbol of the most popular cruise line in the world. You can expect to see all of our collateral materials changing over the coming months. This will include all the signs and onboard printing.

5. By the end of January you will see a new version of Carnival Capers across the fleet. I can’t tell you too much more about this just yet but I saw an early copy today and I know that you will all love this upgrade. Stay tuned for more information on this.

6. We spoke in length about our partnership with St Jude children’s hospital for sick children. We came up with two very exciting ways to get you involved. I wish I could tell you more but the men and women with beards will want to cross the I’s and dot the “T’s first but as soon as they do I will make sure you are all the first to know. I already told the bearded ones that just as you did for the On the Deck for the Cure walks………..they can expect the full support of this wonderful blogging community.

8. As mentioned earlier the Cruise Directors mostly ……………….not all……………….wanted a Facespacebook page. So, let me ask you all………… many of you would like to see our Cruise Directors have their own page on Facespace ? Please let me know.

9. Finally today we spoke about what makes a great Cruise Director. I thought about telling you what the people at the top thought were the top three requirements but instead I thought I would ask you…………..what do you think the top three things you look for in a great Cruise Director are. Please let me know.

As we are doing a quiz……….let me ask you two more questions.

1. Which CD is this?

2. Which of our current crop of Cruise Directors used to be a miner specializing in explosives?

Tomorrow we start the day with a Q and A session with our surfing, break dancing President Mr. Gerry Cahill. I of course will be bringing up some of the points you have asked me to and will be reporting back to you on what we discussed.

One thing we will be discussing tomorrow is the Carnival Legends show which is still very popular. I thought will be pushing for a revamp of some of the Legends the guests portray including the removal of Brittney Spears.

I personally don’t think she has the right to be on the stage with Frank Sinatra, Elvis and Aretha Franklin……….true legends of course.

I know that thanks to Vance Gulliksen-like brilliant PR we are led to believe that Britney Spears is totally normal again despite the fact that the last time I saw her on TV her eyes had the look of a sheep in the back of the slaughterman’s truck. Who to replace her with though…………..that is the question…………….any suggestions?

Time for bed. I am in an inside cabin and I must admit the old curtain over the window that isn’t a window is pretty cruel…………….it’s a window…………..bugger………….it’s a wall. However, the new upgrades the cabins here on the Carnival Imagination are fantastic. In fact, they look just as good as the cabins I have stayed in recently on your Carnival Dream and Carnival Legend. The bathroom is larger and the flat screen TV and the fittings really do look stunning.

However……………let’s have a look at the Penthouse or Owners Suite…………….which remember is now available for purchase.

Lots of stars have slept in that bed. The Back Street Boys, Motley Crue’s Vince Neil and of course one can only imagine the various assorted females and farm yard animals that accompanied them.

However, they are not the only ones as one time ………….the Penthouse was being prepared for the arrival of our Chairman Mr. Micky Arison.

The door was open and so I grabbed Heidi and we sneaked into the cabin for some Penthouse rumpy pumpy…………….Heidi was worried that we would be caught………….I told her not to be worried………… I would be in and out in three minutes.

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.