Remembering How To Be A Cruise Director

February 1, 2010 -

John Heald

On Friday I opened my e mails to find out that along with the offer of a bigger penis that I had received an e-mail from a very generous chap in Nigeria asking if I could help him transfer £28 million from his late father’s account into a bank in my home town of Southend On Sea. I’d get £200,000 for helping, which seemed really generous of him. All I have to do is send him £22,000 to set up the transfer. Obviously this is a scam as one of my best mates has experienced firsthand. There is though more chance of me having rumpy pumpy with Judge Judy in a huge vat of Jell-O while Tom Jones sings It’s Not Unusual ……….than me sending money to Mr. Ugabuga.

However…………I think it is time though for me to come up with my own money making schemes. I have realized that although money can’t buy happiness, it can buy a big house with an indoor swimming pool for Kye to enjoy, a convertible Aston Martin DBS, a villa on Lake Como, dinner at Harry’s Bar in Venice and the attention of fake breasted Latvian women who only want me for my money. Which……and some bloggers may call me shallow…………… would make me happy.

So I have decided I want to be rich. The only question remaining is: “How?” Hmm.

Plan A is to invent something like…….ummmm…………..ummmmm………..bugger. The trouble is everything I think of has already been invented the self twirling pasta fork for the non-Italians of this world and the key finder thingy where you whistle and it beeps. I think I have come up (pardon the pun) with a cheap alternative to Viagra which I am told is very expensive. I am going to print out large poster size photos of Megan Fox’s bottom and sell them to men who, if the buy it will receive complimentary blue tack which can be used to stick the poster to the bedroom wall as and when its rumpy pumpy time. I will sell it for $4.99 which is considerably cheaper than a Viagra pill and doesn’t have any side effects………….apart from a kick in the bollocks from the wife.

OK…………maybe there are some flaws to that idea…………….so:

Plan B: I’ll become a dotcom millionaire and build an internet game called “Fun Ship Freddy: Call of Duty ” in which Freddy is armed to the teeth and hunts down Osama Bin Laden. Teenagers with low slung pants have become dotcom millionaires so it can’t be hard. I just need to know how to build a website.

Plan C: Advertise on my blog thingy. Yep, with nearly 6 million hits I am sure advertisers would be crying out to get their brands advertised on my thingy. I am thinking Preparation H, Gas X and Haynes would jump at the chance as would any company I am sure……..except maybe the French Bureau of Tourism……..that might not be a good idea.

Plan D: I’ll establish my 8 month old daughter as a child prodigy in the art world, and sell 50 of her works for $50,000 each. Then, I’ll push her into the world of tennis and she becomes the new Serena Williams……with slightly less muscles and no Adams apple.

Plan F, and I’ll be honest, I’m getting a little desperate here……..robbing the casino. I am formulating a plan with some chaps from Entertainment and others in the Miami office. There is me, Chris Prideaux, Roger Blum and PA 007. We are calling ourselves Oceans 4 and our plan is to run around the casino grabbing as many $100 chips as we can. I mean, they are right there on the table tops. All we have to do is push the dealers out of the way and starting grabbing handfuls of chips. Now they may catch some of us………….but hey ………….that’s gambling.

I guess my plans are total bollocks and if I really want that Aston Martin DBS …………….I suppose I’ll have to help that nice chap from Nigeria after all.

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

Tom Asked:

John, I wanted to chime in on your music topic. I have been on 19 Carnival cruises and love the product.

I notice in all the dining rooms they seem to have pianos but no one is ever playing them. Why don’t they have the piano player from the band play during dinner?
Seems a waste of resources not to use the piano.
Thanks for everything.

John Says:
Hello Tom

That is a great point indeed. Up until recently we would always have live music in the dining rooms. This usually consisted of a piano player or a classic trio. However, we noticed that most guests were unsuited and could not actually see that it was live music and not recorded music. Also, we found that lively conversation and fun seemed to drown out the performers and so it was decided we could better utilize them in other areas of the ship. We do have live music though in the dining rooms during the Tea Times. I do though have to say that the music we sometimes play in the dining rooms is boring. Yesterday I noticed that it was that damn spa music that was playing again and so this week I have a project to provide all the various areas of the ship (lido, dining rooms and Steakhouse) with appropriate music. This means fun, well know songs and not music you would expect to hear in an elevator.

Thanks for taking the time to write and best wishes .

Karen pee Asked:
Reply please

We are heading our March 1 on the Carnival Triumph. Can’t wait.

Regarding music–I like music during dinner but I too hate loud music. I like classical and jazz for the most part, but any would be for we all have our likes and dislikes but no music should intrude on our conversationability with each other or our wait staff.

We got a Cat 11 for our cruise. Hope we will be happy up there. Got any hints for the cruise.
Karen pee

John Says:
Hello Karen Pee

You are my number one blogger……….get it………..Pee………..number one? Sorry, couldn’t resist. Classical music has a part to play on some ships but honestly I don’t see a place for it on the fun for all ships. Don’t get me wrong, I love classical music and Dvorak’s Cello Concerto number 2 and his appropriately named Carnival Overture were pieces that I was listening to just this morning. Jazz certainly does have a place here and included in the music I am preparing for the Steak House here on your Carnival Dream is music by Miles Davis, Harry Connick Jr. and Michael Buble.

You will love your suite and enjoy morning coffee on the balcony and a late night glass of something special there. The Carnival Triumph has always been one of my top three ships and I am positive it will be your best cruise ever.

Please let me know if you need anything else.
Best wishes

JoAnn Belmonte Asked:
Please Reply

We are platinum on Carnival. My husband spent $2500.00 for a balcony cabin on the 9 night sailing of the Dream out of Port Canaveral. It was its first sailing out of this port. He booked the cruise because it had a port stop in San Juan, where all of his family lives. The ship was unable to dock there due to the design of the ship. Duh! Shouldn’t someone have known this ahead of time! This ship is the same design of the Carnival Glory. Just more cabins, but no more passenger space. A big disappointment. Our refrig quit working the 2nd nite out and they had no replacements. We could hear deck chairs being pushed around on the deck above even late into the evening. All in all a big disappointment. The ship is no better than the Glory and cost much more…..Beware!!!! Look for it to be renamed the Carnival Nightmare.

John Says:
Hello Jo Ann Belmonte

First of all let me again apologize for the disappointment you and 4,000 other guests experienced by your Carnival Dream not docking in San Juan. I have said many times here on the blog thingy that there are no excuses although respectfully you are incorrect when you say the ship is the same design as the Carnival Glory because it is not. Let me explain. Your Carnival Dream is longer, wider and has the life boats positioned differently to any of our other ships. And this was the problem. The pier had a huge metal cable there and docking there would have meant that the cable would have seriously damaged the life boats which indeed could have meant the end to the cruise right there and then.

I also am sorry to hear that you had some disappointment with the sound of the deck chairs being dragged across the deck. I have already informed the housekeeping manager about this and many thanks for letting me know.

I respectfully have to disagree with you renaming of this brilliant ship and I many, many other guests have said the same. However, please accept my apologies and I truly hope you will join us again on one of our fun for all ships. Your loyalty to Carnival is amazing as you have shown by achieving Platinum status and therefore it is absolutely imperative that we do all we can to make sure we make your next cruise the best you have ever had. Please let me know how I can make this happen.
best wishes to you both

laurie sullivan Asked:
Dear John,

I am going on the Victory – 2/14/09 room 6424 and would like to know if you could help me get a table for two for the 8:15 seating. This is a very special vacation for my husband and I and I prefer to sit alone. Any help would be appreciated. Thank-Laurie Sullivan

John Says:
Hello Laurie Sullivan

I would be happy to try and honour (spelt correctly) your request and have contacted the Maitre D accordingly.
Have a great cruise
Best wishes

Jeri Green Asked:
Happy New Year John, Heidi and Kye,

Our landmark cruise on the Carnival Dream was wonderful. How can anyone criticize this ship? It is beautiful and well planned. Regarding embarkation – we boarded in record time and were there so quickly it felt like it was too early to eat lunch! At lunch if the first dining area on the Lido deck had long lines we simply walked on back and found shorter lines. No problem! We tried “Your Time Dining” and really enjoyed it and never had to wait at all.

Elevators? Never a problem -maybe the guests on our cruise were nicer and more polite. We had a cabin on 10 so we used the elevators a lot!

We also booked the “Behing the Fun” tour and are so glad we did. It was fascinating and a great experience.

The shows were marvelous and the audience all seemed to enjoy them a great deal.
The New Year’s Eve celebration was fabulous. We watched the countdown and balloon drop at eleven o’clock in the Atrium and then went on the Lido deck for the countdown to 2010.
I’m sure I sound like a PR person for Carnival but I’m just an ordinary cruiser who had a great time on the new ship the Carnival Dream.

Now for a “Please Reply” comment:

Todd did a great job of mentioning us on the morning show – at your request. All during the cruise people would come and say that they heard about us and congratulate us on our 53rd anniversary. We saw Todd at one of the ship parties and thanked him. He then said we would also get a bottle of champagne delivered to our cabin. That did not happen! We are not complaining as there was plenty of free champagne on New Year’s Eve, but thought you might need to know this.

Thank you for all you do for all of us! Jeri and Larry

John Says:
Hello Jeri and Larry

Having just replied to a blogger above who called my Carnival Dream a “nightmare” I was thrilled to read your review and I have already taken the time to send it along to the ship’s management here. It sounds like Todd and his staff gave you a New Year’s celebration to remember. Now, in answer to your question I also have to say how disappointed I was that you didn’t receive the bottle of champagne. That is simply not good enough and I will make sure the next time we are together that I send you what you are owed.

Thanks again for the great review and congratulations on 53 super years together and here’s to the next 53.

Best wishes to you both

Leigh from Missouri Asked:
Please Reply

Hey John! Enjoy reading your blog. My husband and I are “Cruise Virgins” and are going on our first cruise in Feb. 2010 to Cozumel and Playa del Carmen. 🙂 We heard that the time we will be in port at Cozumel is during their Carnival Festivities. Are you familiar with that, if so, what’s to be expected??

John Says:
Hello Leigh from Missouri

Congratulations on booking your first ever cruise. I am sure you must be very excited and I am sure this will not be your last. There are indeed the Carnival celebrations throughout February in Cozumel. I am not sure what day in February you are sailing but I thought you might like to look at this web site which will tell you more about what is happening and when.

I have seen the Cozumel Carnival many times and it is very colourful and loads of fun.
Have a brilliant time and let me know your impressions of your first fun for all Carnival cruise.
Best wishes

Carmen S Asked:
John, (please reply)

I have been on 4 Carnival cruises and loved all of them. Also went on a cruise with my mom that was on another line and did not enjoy it. I’ll never stray again.

I’ve been reading your blog faithfully for several months now and enjoy every minute of it. I’m so glad to have found this. I hope you continue to provide this for some time.

I am currently booked on the Carnival Dream on Jan 23rd for my 30th birthday. I can’t wait to go. Having trouble with the prospect of turning 30, I decided that being in Cozumel was a million times better than facing my family/friends. Since you are no longer my CD (as I originally thought) I was hoping that I might still see you around on our cruise during the activities and such. And maybe, just maybe you could do us the honour of being able to see your Bedtime Story in person. Surely Todd would enjoy a little break one night.

Can’t wait till the 23rd!!! See ya there and let’s just pretend I’m still 29 when I disembark. After all if you can’t remember your birthday it didn’t happen, right???

John Says:
Hello Carmen S

I am so pleased to read that your straying days are over and thanks so very much for your kind words. I will try and keep writing as many blogs as I can and hope you continue to enjoy them. I met a lot of people this last week and I hope one of them was you. Did we meet? I think we did and I also hope you had a brilliant time despite missing Costa Maya due to the weather.

I did ask to do the Bedtime Story but unfortunately Todd had a full entertainment schedule. Maybe next time you sail I will have the chance to do this for you.

Anyway, I truly hope you had fun
best wishes and a belated happy birthday

robtx100 Asked:
Hi John, (Please Respond)

We met you at the big ball drop in Dallas. I’m happy to say that we will be sailing January 31st on the Conquest and have finally made it to Platinum with this cruise. We love Carnival because of the great service we receive and the great staff and crew. This is our first cruise without being involved in a group and we are looking forward to the alone time. (I know, going on a cruise for alone time???) Anywho, on to my ? We have confirmed early dining and requested a table for two. The Carnival resi website shows confirmed, Is this Confirmed early or Confirmed table for two?

Also, long shot here, many of us have much loved pets we leave behind while we cruise. Any chance during refurbishments that we could get kennels added much like the QM2 has to bring the pets along? I already spend a large amount to board them with day play added (usually $64/day). Might be a good money making idea for Carnival. Not to have them roam the ship, but confined for the duration in a small area with a potty patch and walking area like on QM2. Mine already have doggy passports.

Thanks for taking the time,

John Says:
Hello Robtx100

Dallas and the big beach ball was lots of fun and thanks for coming down to support us. And many congratulations on reaching Platinum status and I am sure your cruise which is already underway is the best ever. I have sent this to the Maitre D and asked him to do his best for you with regard to the table for two. I know the Queen Mary 2 has tremendous facilities for dogs during their voyages however I don’t expect to see Cocker Spaniels and Shitzus (spelt correctly) on the poop decks of our ships. We don’t have the facilities here although I understand how hard it is for owners to leave their dogs at home. I hope you have a great time and please send me your review.

Best wishes to everyone with two and four legs.

Samuel R Asked:
John – reply to this question needed

How much do you pay your service staff such as cabin boys and waiters? I heard you don’t pay them anything and rely on your passengers to pay them. Is this true?
Samuel R

John Says:
Hello Samuel R

I am sure you understand that I am not at liberty to discuss salaries here on the blog and I am sure if I asked you how much you earn that you would be reluctant to disclose that information as well. However, I can tell you that while gratuities are added to guests’ onboard Sail & Sign card that each and every Carnival employee is paid a salary and that includes the dining room staff and the stateroom stewards. I hope this helps answer your question.
Best wishes

dianecruzin2 Asked:
John…Please reply

I was just wondering why Carnival did not tender passengers ashore in San Juan when it was discovered the Dream could not dock.

John Says:
Hello Dianecruzin2

Well that’s a good question. The answer is that although we had four tenders we could have used to do this the port of San Juan had no tenders to offer us and so it would have been impossible to tender 4,000 guests ashore. Also, the channel there is buys with commercial traffic and I am not sure I have ever seen any ship tender guests ashore in this port. Once again please allow me to apologize to all who missed the call due to bad planning on our part.
Best wishes

That’s all for today. I am still some 2 weeks behind and once again can I thank you for your patience as I continue to answer them as quickly as I can.

I received a link thingy to a thread thingy from our friend Host Mach at Cruise Critic which I wanted to share with you. It has 40 or so comments about Carnival and well …………..have a read for yourself. I think that like me you will find this very interesting.

Thanks Mach for sharing this thread thingy with us and I don’t think I need to add anything else to this subject as the words that people have written speak loud and clear for themselves.

So here I am back in the big chair again and it’s just super to be here. I haven’t been a Cruise Director since November and they say that’s it’s just like riding a bike and they are of course right………….it is………….except I wasn’t dressed in elbow pads, thigh pads, knee pads and a helmet like kids today who look like they are going cycling in Afghanistan.

Anyway, my first job was moving from my guest cabin to the CD cabin which has, since the ship came out, been occupied by Todd Wittmer. This means the cabin smells like a bottle of Dolce and Armani for men and that the bathroom cabinet has more creams and products in it than Paris Hilton’s. Luckily I have decided this contract not to over pack and so once I had hung up my suits and blazer and shirts and put away my two pairs of underwear I was ready to go.

Every Cruise Director………and I mean every Cruise Director will come onboard and say “I am not going to make any changes.” This is of course total and utter bollocks because even if a ship is running perfectly and has guest comment card ratings higher than Lindsey Lohan on a Saturday night…….the incoming Cruise Director will always feel that they can do better. And I include myself in that. That’s why I have had Craig, my brilliant but ugly assistant, prepare new Carnival Capers and add activities that are ones that I hope will enhance the ship even more and allow me to put my own personality into the vessel. Before I tell you about those let’s have a look at who is sailing with us this week.

NON US AND CANADIAN – 384 with the largest group being from the UK (88) and from Germany (31).
Under 2 Years 12
2-5 Years 65
6-8 Years 49
9-11 Years 67
12-14 Years 53
15-17 Years 53
18-20 Years 37

PAST GUESTS – 2,241………..yep……………..2,241

We also have a group of 220 pole dancers with us this cruise……… oops……. sorry ……… that should have been 220 POLKA dancers and not POLE dancers. That was wishful thinking on my part. They have private functions throughout the week and I guess will be Polkaring up a storm these next 5 days. I see from their schedule that they have private dances every night which are scheduled at the same time as our shows. I hope they get to see some of them. It would be a shame to come all this way and do what they probably do every week at home anyway…….and miss everything onboard. Regardless, I hope they have fun.

Just a quick note to apologize to Linda, Frank and Bridi who were meant to visit me today. Unfortunately we had a surprise safety inspection and that meant I was tied up most of the day. Hopefully I will see you soon.

So, on Saturday my day started with a travel and fun talk about Nassau and I have to be honest……..I was a little apprehensive as I haven’t done this in awhile. I wouldn’t say I was nervous but there was a little flutter in my stomach before I walked on stage although that could have been the fried eggs I had for breakfast. But once on stage the words seemed to flow and I was somewhat back in the groove. I always start with a quick wander around the audience to have a chat with one or two people to see who is onboard. One of the people I introduced to the audience was Lillian from Montreal………..just my luck I thought…………a Frenchie.

However, the reason I choose her was because she had four drink umbrellas stuck in her hair. I asked her why………….and she told me that she would continue to do this every time she had her favourite drink which was a frozen margarita. Now, considering she had only been on the ship two hours and already had four umbrellas sticking out of her head I think by the end of seven days she will probably run out of room.

Here is a photo of Lillian (from the back) and one of me shaking hands at my 2:30pm travel talk with a chap called Dennis who is on his 68th Carnival cruise.

I promoted the Chef’s table at my travel talk and soon after both nights were sold out and I got this nice e mail from the F and B Manager.

Sent: Saturday, January 30, 2010 9:50 PM
Subject: RE: Chef’s table – Sold out!!!

This is a record that it got sold out on the first day!

It is pretty easy to sell something you truly believe in and this experience of sitting with the Chef, in the galley, eating an exclusive menu prepared for them by the Executive Chef will be something that they never forget. There are products and departments that as a Cruise Director I enjoy promoting and there are one or two that I do not. And for obvious reasons I can’t mention them here on the blog thingy……..not today anyway.

And then there was the Welcome Aboard Show. This is, to me, the most important show of the week for me personally. It gives me a chance to set the tone for the cruise and most importantly make starts of some of the guests. Obviously, this being my first week the ship had to push its way through 40 knots of wind making it a little bumpy. However, I met some great characters and even though my timing was a little rusty ………..judging by the laughter ……….I think it went well. I hopefully made stars out of the 6 guests I had on stage as well as Lucas………..this wonderful 5 year old lad who came on stage with me to win a prize. I asked him where his Mum and Dad were and in the cutest little voice he said “I don’t know.” Well, they were not at the show and Lucas was there with his “big sister.” I asked him how old his big sister was and Lucas told me she was 12.

I gave Lucas his prize and then told him that as his parents were not at the show that he might get another prize in 9 months time!

Here he is.

One of the things I like to share with you here on the blog thingy are the comments made by guests. These are either to me directly or made at the Guest Services Desk which are then listed in our daily incident report. Now, before I share these with you during the next few weeks I want to kindly remind any new readers to the blog thingy of a few parameters that are involved. Obviously I never include the guests name or cabin number and I also protect the name of any crew member as well. All the comments are 100%. I also wanted to mention that I will be also talking about, when appropriate, the things that we could do better and any mistakes I make because for sure……….I will make them.

Well, here is the first such guest comment and while my first two days onboard have been brilliant and the guests in great spirits , as always, some seem to have found things they don’t like already………….as you will see here.

Guest: Mrs.————Ref: 846002940A
Cabin: ——– Booking#: _____Added-Changed: 01/31/10 – 01/31/10


Guest came to the GSD saying that she had been unable to sleep because she had been scared that the sea would come into her cabin. Mrs. _____ is in a cove balcony. Guest said that she had expected deck 2 to be higher and not so close to the water. Guest requested a balcony cabin on a higher deck but was told the ship is full. Guest said that she would be writing a letter to Carnival because she should have been told deck 2 was close to the water.
Note: Guest has left a letter for Captain Marino which has now been delivered.

There isn’t much I can say about that except on the Carnival Magic deck 2 will be one deck below deck 9.

But that aside I have to say again what a great ship this is and as I walked around these last two days talking to guests I am inundated with positive comments and many of these comments are from past guests. Yes, a few have mentioned the lines on lido although most have said that while there are lines that they were not as long as some of the posts on the cruise boards and on the blog thingy had made out. With that in mind I will be heavily promoting the brunch menu in the dining room this lunch time and I will let you know how it goes.

I see that my good friend Anita Dunham Potter has placed a video on her website. I should warn viewers that this video contains graphic scenes of ugliness and two young brats being paid much more at the age of sodding eight than I will be paid in my entire life.

I am not sure why Anita put this on her website but revenge will be mine….. so… look out for a video of her dancing a tango with USA Today’s Gene Sloan (……… wearing only a smile.

The Cruise Director’s cabin here on my Carnival Dream is the same pretty much as the cabin on the Carnival Splendor…..but with one huge difference and one that I completely forgot about until it was too late. You see, on my Carnival Dream guests and crew can walk around the entire outside of the ship on deck 5. My cabin is on deck 5. During the sunshine of the day the glass is tinted and guests can’t see in. At night they can see everything as I discovered when I walked from the bedroom to the office as naked as the day I was born…..and bent over to get a bottle of water out of the refrigerator……… and realized as I stood up that a guest was looking right at me. His face showed the horrors of someone who had just seen me naked, bending over and as I closed the curtains in true panic I knew that his cruise………..indeed his life……….would never be the same again.

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.