Cowboys, Trucks and Texan Girls

March 30, 2010 -

John Heald

As well as the Swedish clog dancers and 600 people called Jose and Maria, we also have a group of 88 people who are obsessed and in love, not with Megan Fox’s bottom………….. but with pick-up trucks…………..and apparently the Megan Fox of the pick-up truck world is something called the Ford F150. I know this because these men (haven’t seen any women) are all wearing T-shirts proudly proclaiming that this truck “kicks arse”….sorry………”kicks ass,” etc.

I don’t know much about trucks except we don’t have them in the UK. I do know that when you have a pick-up thingy, you are not an IT engineer from Microsoft or President of Carnival Cruise Lines. Oh no, you are a frontiersman who likes his beer cold, his deer raw and his music country style as he listens in his Ford F150 about how sad a cowboy was that he drove his Ford F150 off a cliff because Betty Sue had been shagging his brother. You can go to the woods at weekends with your other pick-up driving friends and dream up plans to hide in the woods and survive should the terrorists attack. You have the military-style wheels. You have the military-style haircut. You have the guns. Yep………………you are Charlton Heston.

A pick-up truck to me looks like it is made by nailing a couple of slabs of pig iron onto a chassis, then you simply add leather seats to make it feel like a premium product, and get some man with a very deep voice to advertise it on TV.

It wouldn’t work in the UK. I know they have great big open trunk thingies to put your construction equipment and tools and that’s fine when you are driving across your ranch in Texas. But drive a Ford F150 around the streets of Southend in Essex…….. every time you pulled up at a set of traffic lights, passersby would simply help themselves.

Anyway, the Ford F150 group are having a great time as are most of the guests and the Southern hospitality I felt last week is in high evidence again, in fact, now that they know who I am, it is even more so. I wonder if the following comment made to our Guest Services Desk would have been made anywhere else but on a ship out of the south.

Guest: Mr——— Ref: 830015294A
Cabin: 8264 Booking#: 81Q2T5 Added-Changed: 03/29/10 – 03/29/10

Guest reported to the GSD that he had been in the public bathroom on Lido deck when he saw a male guest use the toilet and not wash his hands. Guest suggested to him that he should wash his hands but was sworn at by the unknown man and told to mind his own business. Mr _______ was upset and wanted to apologize if he had caused a problem but wanted the ship to know.

I wanted to get this story straight so I asked the Guest Services chappy and he said that the guest was more concerned about the fact that he didn’t wash his hands rather than being told to,  well, I don’t know what was said because the guest would not repeat the language used. I think that’s wonderful. And what with this man’s kindness and concern and the chap who didn’t wash his hands………..well………… shows that we have both ends of the evolutionary scale on board this week.

Lets wash our hands of him and move on to today’s Q and A………….here we go.

Barb Lensmire Asked:

A friend of mine told me about this blog and suggested I write to you with a question I have. I was on the Carnival Conquest out of Galveston on February 21st through February 28th. I saw a gentleman on there that looked familiar to me from some twenty years past. If I saw him again I was going to speak to him. I never did see him again and now it is bothering me. Are you able to tell me if a Harrison R. Anderson was on that cruise? He went by Andy Anderson. He lived in Alabama when I knew him, but am not sure if that is still where he resides. Any help would be appreciated. Barb

John Says:
Hello Barb Lensmire:

This is a difficult one because I am not able or allowed to give information like this out. There are certain privacy factors here and, having checked with our legal beards, I was informed that I cannot, I am afraid, give you an answer on this.

If there is any other way you think I might be able to help, please let me know.

I hope you find your friend.

Best wishes,

Glen Asked:

John, I think you are beating yourself up too much over the San Juan incident. A little bit – ok, but I can’t see spending thousands of dollars to send an engineering crew to San Juan with ship measurements for a ONE TIME visit. The Carnival Dream has never (except this once) had San Juan on her port list. Time to continue moving forward with all of the fun and excitent the Carnival Dream offers.


John Says:
Hello Glen:

Thanks, mate. I know you have just gotten on your Carnival Dream so I hope you and your group are having fun and enjoying the amazing ship and her brilliant crew. Thanks for the support and I have to admit that the San Juan Carnival Dream incident was not our funniest hour.

Best wishes to you and the family.

Sue McMichael Asked:
John (please reply)

Wanted to let you know that there seems to be something wrong with on-line ordering from the Bon Voyage Dept. I (and others on Cruise Critic) have been trying to place orders online but have not been successful. I know that I can call and place the order (and have) but wanted to let you know as it is frustrating!

Love your blog and am happy that you are getting to spend some time with your favorite girls!!!

John Says:
Hello Sue McMichael:

I spoke to Carol in the office who is in charge of the Bon Voyage department and there was indeed a problem with the ordering system. I won’t bother to explain what happened as the twenty minutes she spent telling me about computer glitches and band width were hideously boring. What I will do is apologize and inform you that all should be well now. Please also send my apologies to my friends on Cruise Critic who were also trying to use the ordering thingy.

Best wishes and thanks so much for the kind words.

Susanne Asked:
John please answer

Since Ken will be joining the Carnival Legend in early April, will he still be there in September? That will help me decide which ship to book in September.

Also, I just returned from the Carnival Fascination on February 25 and unfortunately all of my comments will not be positive. I assume more and more people are driving to the cruise ports with all of the additional fees now charged by airlines that Jacksonville would be the most convenient for a lot of guests.

I do realize that Carnival has no control over the Port Authority in Jacksonville. However, that is the first impression of Carnival (especially for first time cruisers) and it was disorganized and was unlike any other port that I have ever been. I do not think I want to use that port again which is a shame because it is more convenient. It would be good if Carnival could review the procedures here and offer suggestions for improvement. Unfortunately, I heard this same comment from other guests.

The cruise director was okay and it was good to see Tina Nobles again who was the assistant cruise director. She was the cruise director on the Carnival Legend in October 2008 and she did an excellent job then and also as the assistant on this ship. She should be a cruise director.

I was so happy to see the fly-on entertainer Tia since I have not seen her in years–I guess I just was not on the right ships. She is fantastic and hopefully will be on more ships.

The entrance area to the casino was non-smoking which allowed guests to walk through the promenade and breathe which was wonderful. Hopefully, this will be adopted on the other ships.

Most of the food was good but could not compare to some of the other ships, I never saw or met the room steward and the service was not what I normally see and the waiter forgot some of the requests.

I am not telling you any of this to be negative but to review and make improvements where needed. There were a lot of very helpful and sweet staff on this ship and, with the convenience of Jacksonville, it will be how a lot of guests see Carnival and I did not see the Carnival that I normally see.

John Says:
Hello Susanne:

Yes, the terrific Ken Byrne will indeed be on the Carnival Legend in September and as there is only one dining room on the Spirit class ships you are assured of his incomparable entertainment and hospitality. Now there should never be anyone who reads this blog to feel that they need to apologize before being critical of what we do. We are not perfect and if your criticisms help us improve, that is something that we should thank you for. And I do because you have some great points there. My biggest disappointment is the comment about the room steward and waiter and I have forwarded your comments to the hotel director on the ship who will make sure your concerns are addressed. I have never cruised out of Jacksonville and was surprised to read your comments about the embarkation process. We are always trying to find new drive – cruise home ports and Jacksonville is very important to this program. I have sent your comments to someone in charge there and we will do what we need to do to improve.

Tia Thompson has always been a great favourite of mine and it has been many years since we worked together. She is one of a kind. I shall also pass on your comments about her and Tina Noble the ACD.

Thanks for the review and I hope you get to spend a cruise with Ken soon.

Best wishes,

flipflopcruisequeen Asked:

A week or so ago, you dropped a hint that you will be sailing on the West Coast in the near future. I have scrolled back thru the blogs, but have been unable to find that message. I was wondering if you could let all of us “West Coasters” know the details, such as when and which ship? It would be SUPER for all your fans here to be able to enjoy you without having to fly to the East Coast or to Europe. I am secretly hoping that you will be on the Splendor going to Mexico on the sailing the end of November. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE tell us that you will, in fact, be over here with all of us! I could almost bet that any sailings with you on board would be sold out or darn close to it. I don’t think you realize how many West Coast fans you have! Thank you, in advance John, for the information.

John Says:
Hello Sheryl – Flipflopcruisequeen:

I have indeed mentioned this and I am going to be announcing my summer and winter schedule next week, no later than April 11th, I promise. I have never been on the West Coast as a CD so maybe this year I will be. We shall see.

Thanks so much for the kind words and please keep reading for more information.

Best wishes to all,

Lillian Drosche Asked:

There is a discussion on the Cruise Critic site that Carnival does not offer Coke Zero as part of its unlimited soda ticket. Why? Other cruise lines do, so why doesn’t Carnival. We would all like an explanation please.


John Says:
Hello Lillian

Do you know, I have never had Coke Zero. I guess I am a Diet Coke chap. I really don’t like Diet Pepsi at all although I really like Diet Dr. Pepper. Diet Sprite is better than Diet Seven Up although my favourite is Diet Root Beer in the glass bottle………forget the name of it but that’s the Megan Fox of diet drinks as far as I am concerned. Although saying that there is a brand called Stewart’s Diet Root Beer that my much-missed friend Robert used to bring me when he sailed. Is there a diet cream soda? I loved cream soda but have never been able to find a diet one I like. It’s like sugar-free chocolate. Some is gorgeous and some tastes so sweet it is sickly and, of course, eat too much of any sugar-free product and you can guarantee lots of time on the porcelain throne.

Oops, nearly forgot………we have been serving Coke Zero on board for months now and it is part of the unlimited soda package across the fleet.

Best wishes,

Sheryl Asked:
Hi John,

David & I are getting ready to get on the Dream 4/3. I was looking at cruise director’s locations and was sorry to see you got off the ship on the 20th.. I wanted to touch base with you, to make sure that Todd Wittmer would be able to help us with Moms’ scattering. You had said to leave you a note when we got on the ship, is that still what I should be doing?? We are all packed and ready to go!!

Can’t wait to see this new ship! Always look forward to reading your posts. So sorry to hear that you left the Dream and we won’t get to meet you in person.

Thank you so much for all the help.

John Says:
Hello Sandi Del Monte:

I am so sorry that I will not be with you for your cruise. I know it will be one with mixed emotion and I have alerted the ship that you will be doing this. Please remember that if you are throwing the urn overboard that it must be bio-degradable. Once on board, someone will contact you with the arrangements as far as the best time and place to do this. I will be thinking of you.

Best wishes,

Leah Asked:
Hi, John!

My family and I will be sailing the Freedom in April (yay! can’t wait!) and would like to know how we can contact CD Ryan in advance? We’d like to invite him to our Cruise Critic meet & greet at sail-away! We have over 70 active people on our roll-call, and we are in the process of planning a few other get-togethers! BTW, do you have any fun ideas for our cabin crawl? We’d appreciate any ideas from you and Ryan! Thanks so much for replying, John… love your blog!!!

Leah ~ “CruiseVacationQueen” on Cruise Critic

John Says:
Hello Leah:

I have sent this and your e-mail address to Ryan so that he can contact you. As for the cabin crawl, I will ask Ryan to provide you with some trophies as prizes. I am not sure what a “cabin crawl ” is exactly. Maybe we could ask Ryan to come up with a scavenger hunt or have one of the entertainment staff come and have some fun with you. Regardless, we will make sure you all have loads of fun.

Let me know if you need anything else.

Best wishes to all,

Christine Asked:
Hi John,

I’m sorry if this has been answered before, but I wanted to find out whether Carnival is planning to add more itineraries out of Baltimore, particularly Bermuda and/or something shorter than 7 days.

Would be very grateful for a reply!


John Says:
Hello Christine:

Baltimore has proven to be a massive success and the Carnival Pride has found a wonderful home there. The current itinerary is still in the early days, yet due to the success we have had there, I would not be surprised if we offer different voyages from Baltimore. I have no specific details to tell you about just yet but I promise as soon as do, I will let you all know.

Best wishes,

DocF Asked:
John, please reply

I know you agree with me that Jaime is a very special person. That is probably why idiotic people like she encountered the other day upset her so much. When we met her on the Carnival Splendor transatlantic cruise, Dear Wife and I both found a special friend and we think of her that way to this day. Please remind her that almost everyone she meets falls in love with her.


PS: Great work on the a1C!

John Says:
Hello DocF:

She is, indeed, and I know that sometimes it is easy as a cruise director to remember the one person who shouts and screams and not the many more that laugh and smile. I will make sure she sees your words of encouragement.

Best wishes to all,

jeanie rockwell Asked:





John Says:
Hello Jeanie Rockwell:

Thanks for letting me know that you are sailing on your Carnival Dream soon and I will ask James and Katie from the entertainment staff to send your brother a birthday wish.

Thanks for the kind words and I hope you both have a brilliant time.

Best wishes,

That’s all for today, there will be more tomorrow.

Just a quick follow up on the subject of cruising to Nova Scotia and the best excursions there. I asked Robert our director of excursions in Miami to list his top recommendations and here they are.

Saint John, NB

Hopewell Rocks Tidal Discovery

St. Andrews by the Sea & the Fairmont Algonquin

Bay of Fundy Coastal Photography

Bay of Fundy Lobster Cookout


Taste of Nova Scotia Historical Harbor Cruise

The Essential Halifax Tour

Valley & Vineyard Tour

Peggy’s Cove and Titanic

Full descriptions of these excursions can be found at

By the time you have read this, I will have completed a one-hour live travel agent Q and A on behalf of Travel Weekly. It will be live so I have to be careful what I say, of course. If you would like to have a listen, here is the link thingy.*john+heald*

As I mentioned last Wednesday, the Carnival Victory was the third Carnival ship this year to achieve the perfect score of 100 during their United States Public Health inspection. Here is a photo not only of the management involved but every single crew member whose hard work and constant dedication achieved the perfect score.

Many congratulations again to the Carnival Victory team.

So here I sit at 7:20 a.m. in my underpants with a Morning Show, my Travel Weekly thingy, a Marriage Show and two past-guest parties.

Time to say thank you. And I start with this couple here.

This is Carolyn and Don who have cruised seven times with me including all the Bloggers cruises and came especially to see me a few weeks ago on their Carnival Dream and are back here to do the same on the Carnival Conquest. They are a wonderful couple and brought with them my usual gift of sugar free chocolate but also a very special gift for the ship. They drove down with a suitcase full of 60 books which they have donated to the Carnival Conquest library.  How wonderful of them to do this and on behalf of the ship and the guests who will in future days enjoy them………….thank you.

Time also to say thank you to the Texas Business Development Manager for Carnival Cruise Lines, Laurie Mason, and her team of Shannon, Karen, Alicia and another Shannon……….apparently, Shannon is a very popular name in Texas. Anyway, they wanted to welcome me to Texas and did so by buying me a T-shirt with the Texan flag on it and……………..something very special indeed…………….my very own cowboy hat.

I love it and I came across all Dallas and found myself singing the theme song to one of my favourite programs of all time and putting on that Stetson which has made me want to become ……… oil man………..not a cowboy……………..but JR Heald and name our house Southfork…………..I can see it now.

Heidi Ellen Heald………….I’m a bit chilly, JR. Are you sure we can’t eat inside?

JR Heald……… Darn it, Sue Ellen. This is the most sunshine we’ve seen in England for more than 20 years and we’re going to have a barbecue.

Heidi Ellen Heald……….. It’s December, I’m going inside to fetch a light cardigan.

JR Heald………….. Don’t you cross me now, Heidi Ellen Heald. I swear that if I see you in a light cardigan ah’m a gonna kill you.

There is a knock at the door and enter Cliff Barnes.

Barnes:……………JR Heald, you bastard. Your oil field has been drilled in an area that is disturbing the leser spotted greybacked mole and I have reported you to the environmental people with beards. Y’all have gone too far this time and I am going to put Heald Oil out of business, if it’s the last thing we do.

Cue Dramatic Music

Tune in to the next blog to see if Heald Oil survives or after coming out of the shower I realize……………it was just a dream.

Thanks again Laurie and team, I shall treasure the hat always.

Well, I got my first chance to promote our partnership with St. Jude Hospital yesterday by asking guests to take part in the Build-a-Bear activity. It lasts just 30 minutes and we sold 29 bears with the St. Jude costumes which makes me very happy indeed. It doesn’t sound like a lot but considering the language barrier I have this week and that the bears are not cheap, it was a good start and we raised a lot of money for the kids. The big promotion will be on Saturday when I try and get 500 people to wear the St. Jude T-shirt and wrist band. I will let you know what happens.

I met my first upset guest today and as nice as the Galveston guests are, this gentlemen was not. Here is his comment.

Guest: Mr———Ref: 830901524A
Cabin: 7367 Booking#: 87JH77 Added-Changed: 03/29/10 – 03/29/10


Guest reported that he had placed his shirt over the railing by the mini golf place and that it had been stained because of the bleach there. Housekeeping reported that there was not bleach but the oil used to protect against the salt. Mr ____stated that his shirt cost $180 and was a designer label. GSA checked but there was no label in the shirt. Guest was very angry. Cruise Director assisted and suggested the laundry try and remove the stain.

This is not normally something I would get involved in, however, I happened to be standing in the lobby with the captain and senior officers waiting for the introductions we do in the lobby. I heard this young man raise his voice and noticed that he was shirtless………..on elegant night, not that is not appropriate, and so I went over to see if I could help and ask him to put his shirt on. That’s when he unleashed both barrels about how his shirt had cost $180 fu**ing dollars and that this fu**ing ship was responsible and he wanted a refund right now……….well you get the picture. I calmed him down. I told him that Ketut the laundry manager was a magic man when it came to stains and that we should let him try to work his wonders on his $180 shirt, which by now he was wearing again and yes………….it did have a huge brown stain on it.

Now, I have to admit that I had no idea who the laundry manager was but I needed something to calm him down and telling him that we had an Indonesian Stain Doctor called Ketut on board did the trick and as I write his shirt is in the laundry manager’s hands………..oh, his name is Wayan by the way…………..and I hope he is good with stains. I am confident as he did wonders with my underpants last week.

Seriously, though, it was our fault and although his anger and bad language was way over the top, I can understand his frustration and that’s why we will do what we can to resolve this. I will let you know tomorrow if the stain came out.

So we have the Swedish Cloggers, lots of people named Jose or Maria, 88 people with a truck fetish and, of course, spring breakers including a wild, but fun group from Texas Tech Red Rangers  University. I know this because like the Ford F150 chaps the spring breakers were, as they boarded the ship on Sunday, wearing their school’s name proudly on their chests…………..and their chests are much more pleasant to look at than the truck chappies.

Anyway, while on your Carnival Dream, spring break was a little more subdued, here on the Carnival Conquest ……… is not. Goodness me, these kids can drink. When I say kids I mean these 21 plus year olds……….not 8 year olds slamming back Woo Woo’s.  What I mean are the college kids who despite government beardies telling them that alcohol rots your liver, makes you impotent, gives you stomach ulcers and turns your skin into something that looks like a lizard’s scrotum……….they are truly going for it.

I mean this group is really getting stuck in hosing back the cocktails until the room begins to swim and their bambiesque legs seem to be on backwards. As you can tell, the group I am referring to is all, ummmm……….girls………..ummm………ladies………………….and wow, they are all jaw droppingly beautiful. If Tiger Woods was here, he would think it was a buffet. Last night after the show, I was abducted by a group of “very happy” Texas Tech girls who wanted a photo with me. And as nice as it was to be surrounded by ravishing beauty, I was quite light headed afterwards due to the amount of alcohol that was oozing through every pore of their bodies……………..and by the way much of their bodies were on display to the rest of the ship, it would have made a good dog break its leash.

As I have bored you with before, it has been many years since I have had any alcohol and as I am a cruise director and not a spring breaker, Paris Hilton, Mel Gibson or in public relations, I haven’t had a good old binge drink in many years. And when I did, and just like the girls from Texas Tech, I did so with others, it was a group activity.  Normal pain, such as a toothache or a fiery hot hemorrhoid, is a lonely and solitary pursuit, but a group hangover is a problem shared. Like when you land with 300 other passengers in Paris after a long flight and have to face the rudeness that lives there……… everyone’s in it together.

I met one young lady called Amber (she was never ever going to be called Jane or Susan) a 21- year-old who told me how much she and her friends had laughed at the Welcome Aboard show which they had watched on TV. Now remember, we met at 7:45 p.m. and she was already very, very happy. If she had been asked to give blood it would have had ice and lemon in it. I mentioned that she and the rest of the Red Rangers were already very happy. She said they had been drinking beer and mojitos throughout the afternoon and they were ready for martinis.

Normally I would rather do time in a Turkish prison than spend time with someone who is absolutely drunk or as we say in the UK ” totally wankered ” but these girls…………were charming……………drunk………..but charming.

I think it was their charm, their smile and their Southern-style manners that, despite the fact that they could hardly talk, really endeared me to them.

Or, it could have been their breasts.

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.