Rules, Cowboys and Lists

April 22, 2010 -

John Heald

Today is Earth Day and all the cruise directors have been asked to say the following over the PA system.

April 22, 2010, marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Celebrated around the globe, Earth Day is an opportunity to learn about the history behind environmental protection, teach others about environmental issues, and share ways to help preserve our precious ecosystems.

Carnival Cruise Lines’ business is directly related to the health of the planet as we have the privilege to take you on vacations to beautiful destinations worldwide. CCL has dedicated personnel both shipboard and shore side to oversee all environmental matters.

By modifying simple things we do every day, we can positively impact the future of our planet.  Here are just a few ways we can do our part to protect our planet both onboard and at home:

Properly dispose of your trash and recyclables in the designated containers so they are not blown into the ocean.

Consider reusing your towels in order to save water.

Adjust the thermostat in your room before leaving to save energy.

Thank You

Obviously I know we have to look after the planet a bit better and I know I’ve been ranting my own feelings on this subject but I have in recent months included energy saving reminders in my daily announcements.

Wow……..when I think about it things have changed so much for me since starting as a cruise director. Gone are the days when I could make an amusing farting noise over the PA system and instead we ask guests to turn their lights out in their cabin. Bloody hell………I can’t even call it a cabin anymore………’s a stateroom of course. I am not saying some of these changes are not needed, no, I am just reflecting on how things have changed these past 23 years. I mean, look at the signs we have all over the ship today.

“No smoking.” ”Watch your step.”  Mind your head.” “No jumping.”  “Swim at your own risk.” “PPE equipment must be worn.” “Separate your garbage.” “United States Department of Public Health has determined that eating uncooked or partially cooked poultry, meat, eggs or seafood may present a health risk to the consumer, particularly those who may be more vulnerable.”

I was midway through a steak sandwich when I read that one and, mid-chew, stopped to see if had been cooked properly.

On land things are much worse.

My Range Rover has a Germanic voice in the bowels of the dashboard that tell me: “You are breaking the speed limit.” Seriously, unless you are a rocket scientist and now how to disable this you are buggered every time you drive over 70mph which in the UK is the maximum freeway speed limit.

How can it have come to this…… A piece of sodding silicone has an opinion on how I’m driving?

I am surprised that this computer doesn’t have a gizmo that says “Stop……..the blog you are writing is crap. Press delete and start again”.

There are rules at the airport where you are made to take your pants off before you are allowed on an airplane. And while the security chap is having a good rummage around in my underpants he misses the man with bits of fuse wire sticking out of his beard?

Then there’s the problem of watching a film at home. In the past, when we had video, we could simply whizz through the adverts and the disclaimers in which the actors and director take no responsibility for what they are saying. Not anymore. Now, if you hit fast forward, it says the operation is not possible. You will watch the disclaimer and if you dare to show this film to more than just your wife, if you dare to invite a group of friends to watch it, an FBI SWAT team will burst through your doors and windows and give you a good tasering.

Yesterday, a staff member sprained his ankle playing ping pong. It wasn’t a bad sprain but an entire Brazilian rain forest has had to be chopped down to allow for the paper work that I, as his department head, have to fill out asking about what shoes he was wearing, the condition of the floor, how many hours he had worked and if Jupiter was in line with Uranus at the time of the incident. I then have to return the rain forest to the security and medical department who then send it to the beards at HQ. This isn’t just Carnival, it isn’t just the cruise industry, it’s the world. Ten years ago there would have been no paper work and the crew member would have hobbled around a bit, still smiling, still doing his job.

So, happy Earth Day and I think it’s good that we inform our guests about this. And I also think we should advise our guests about another important day because on May 8th it’s……….National Outdoors Rumpy Pumpy Day.

Time for today’s questions……… we go.

Alice H. Asked:
Hi John (Please Reply)

I wrote you a month or so ago. We are booked on the Carnival Magic Aug. 14th (our 6th Carnival cruise) and you said you would be on the ship then. I hope that is still true after reading the post from Nina. We had you as our CD on our last cruise on the Carnival Freedom July 4 2009, and had so many laughs you are a great CD. I really hope you will be on the Magic for our 1st Mediterranean cruise and we will be celebrating our 24th anniversary, we honeymooned on the Carnival Festival in 1987. I had also asked you about Pre cruise accommodations and tours for Barcelona since we plan on spending maybe 2 days before the cruise there to see some sights.

We are also booked on the Aug 9th 2010 Carnival Glory (out 5th Carnival) If possible we would like to be put at a table for 6 or so with other couples in their 50’s or 60’s so we will hopefully have other people to do things with. If you can help it will be greatly appreciated.

Send my best to Heidi & Kye. She is a beautiful happy baby, love the photo of her. I hope you will be on the Aug 14 2011 Magic (PLEASE be on it); it would be great if Heidi & Kye could be there also.

Best wishes to you & yours,
Alice H.

John Says:
Hello Alice H

My intention is to stay on the Carnival Magic for the entire time it is in Europe, so that would be from May to October. I may…..may take one cruise off but I am not sure if I will do this and if so when so I am sure that we will be together. The team is working on excursions and pre and post

Best wishes,

Ken Stevenson Asked:
John, (Please reply)

Carnival has worked hard to make dining on a FUN SHIP a real experience. For many of us it is a major factor in a truly pleasurable cruise. Since some folks have preferences, and some like us just plain have needs. That are vital to that end chatting with the Maitre‘d is even more important than lunch at embarkation!! Perhaps Carnival could do a small favor for their most faithful friends, the Platinum card holders, and arrange for prompt attention to them at that time.

We’ll be off on our 15th cruise in a few weeks and no matter how often we’ve “been there, done that” we never fail to get excited at the prospect.

Cheers, John.
Ken and Lorrene

John Says:
Hello Ken and Lorrene

Thanks for writing into the blog and I would hope that your wish for the Maitre D’s to pay special attention to our loyal Platinum guests is already happening. I would be interested if you or any other Platinum member thinks this is not the case.

I hope you have (had) fun on your next cruise and please can you write more on this subject if you feel I am missing the point.

Best wishes to you both

Peggy Winge Asked:
Please reply (if you have time)

We will be taking our daughter on her first cruise next summer aboard the Dream. So excited. She will 6 then. It will be right after her birthday. For her party, I’d like to do a Carnival Theme party. Is it possible to buy Carnival balloons, and t-shirts, etc and have them delivered to our house. She is so excited.

This will only be my 6th cruise, 5th with Carnival, and my only complaint is having to get off the ship and go home.

You guys do an awesome job.

PS, your daughter is BEAUTIFUL.

John Says:
Hello Peggy Winge

Unfortunately we don’t have party supplies available for purchase before the cruise and delivered to a home address. However, you can order from the bon voyage department on and maybe arrange to have your stateroom decorated for when she arrives. I am so glad to hear that your daughter is so excited and if you can let me know a month before you sail I will send her a little gift.

Best wishes to you all

Cheryl in FL Asked:
Hey John – Please Reply!

We are heading on the Dream in 45 days (May 15th sailing)!!! We are sailing with our daughter and her husband for our 29th wedding anniversary (on the 16th!)!! WOOHOO!!! Sure wish you were the CD – but Todd should be good, having been mentored by you!

Anywho – we are scheduled for late dining – I have a BIG request – our last cruise on the Victory we had HORRIBLE seating – we were on the 2nd level – last table in the corner – there was absolutely NO action there and we never even once met the Maitre’ D! Now, I have been watching videos of the fabulous wait staff on the Dream and would really, REALLY like to be on the main dining room floor area, right smack dab in the middle of the fun! Would you be able to arrange that for us?? I would be ever so grateful!!

Blessings to you, Heidi & Kye!

The Letner Family! David & Cheryl Letner / Heather & Alan Lightner (Our name is Letner – my daughter’s married name is now Lightner – how funny is that?!!)

John Says:
Hello Cheryl Letner

It won’t be long now until you are onboard your Carnival Dream with the family and I have asked Mr. Ante the Maitre D to see what he can do to seat you all together as requested. I wish I could be there with you but I know that you will have the best of times.

Have fun and my best wishes to all the Letners and the Lightners.

Jennifer Asked:
Hi John (Please Reply)

Just off my beautiful Carnival Splendor where my husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary with our kids and my son proposed to his now FIANCE!! He did it on the first elegant night and took her to the top of the ship and at sunset he popped the question. She was thrilled and we had a GREAT time.

We loved this ship- it’s beautiful!!! This was our first balcony cruise and I will NEVER be able to go back to an Inside Cabin as I am spoiled now.

The food was AMAZING and I honestly loved everything I ordered. My 14 year old wins the award for most adventurous eater as he tried everything including the Escargot which he loved! Our whole table sat with wide eyes waiting for him to take that first bite! 🙂 Our drink waitress (Yowwaluk in the Black Pearl) was a real standout- she was AMAZING! We all had the soda card and she had our drinks memorized and brought them each night with a smile and lots of refills 🙂

Cruise Director Butch did a great job considering this was a rowdy cruise will all the 20 somethings on board for Spring Break. My kids really enjoyed Butch. The real star for us thought was “Just Jack”- I forget what his official Carnival title is. Anyway I hope Just “Jack” becomes a cruise director in the future- we loved him!!

LOVED the ports- all of them and the weather was perfect!! My kids did the Extreme Canopy in Puerto Vallarta and this was their favorite cruise memory. They had an amazing time. Just a really great GREAT cruise and I can’t wait to book my next one with Carnival!

Thanks for all you do and I was SO happy to see your face in the video played in the Spectacular theatre during the past guest party!!

John Says:
Hello Jennifer

Let me start by wishing your son and your future daughter in law many congratulations and I wish them a happy life together. Escargot is an acquired taste and personally I would rather eat my own hair than the leg of a frog……..the frog would probably appreciate that to. I am glad you enjoyed Butch and I have to find out about “Just Jack” as I have not heard that name before. We are truly lucky that we have so many great staff who one day will replace old buggers like me and become Cruise Directors themselves.

I am glad you had so much fun and I will make sure the ship gets to read your words of praise.

Best wishes to you all

Stephanie Vizvary Asked:
Dear John (PLEASE REPLY!),

Love the blogs- great sense of humour! Keep it up! 🙂

I am cruising on the Carnival Miracle on August 11th (Bahamas cruise). This is my fifth cruise with Carnival, and each and every time has been absolutely wonderful. There is only one thing I would want to change. During the last cruise we went on, my husband and I were very newly- newlyweds (we were married the week before) and were extremely excited about playing the Newlywed/Not so Newlywed game- as it is one of our favourite experiences to share together over a couple cold ones in the lounge.

Unfortunately, there was a couple married on board, and we were not able to play (they beat us by five days and we were no longer the newest Newlyweds- on the cruises I’ve been on, the newest are always selected).

When the two of us cruise in August, we will be celebrating our one year anniversary within the duration of it- and we were hoping to somehow participate, because this is absolutely one of the best times on board. We always leave with a smile on our face and our stomachs hurting from laughter. Would you be able to contact the cruise director of our cruise to see if we could somehow be put in the show this time around, because we missed it while we were newlyweds? It would absolutely perfect our already amazing cruising experience with Carnival.

Thank you so much,
Stephanie V.

John Says:
Hello Stephanie Vizvary (Stephanie……….wow……….that’s a most unusual name.)

I am glad you enjoy the blogs and thanks for spelling humour the correct way. The Newly Wed game continues to be a very popular event and while I cannot promise that I can get you in the show, I will certainly ask the cruise director to do his best to do so. Please can you send me a reminder on July 10th and I will do all I can. I will need your cabin number please.

Thanks for those kind words and I am sure that the Carnival Miracle cruise will be your most favorite yet.

Best wishes to you both

Dave T Asked:
Hi John (Please reply),

I’ve tried to post a couple time, but I don’t know if I’m making through the sensors…. lol

I don’t have anything against Jamaica… although our first and only experience with the island left us rather sullied to the idea of going back. Somewhat because, we ended up battered and bruise on a tubing excursion… but we also felt that we were being harassed by some of the rather colorful folks in the port of Ocho Rios… from the time that we set foot on the island… I guess we should have thicker skins, being NY’er and all… but it didn’t leave a good impression. We did forgo Margaritaville, and hit the local restaurants (if you could call it that) and had some fantastic local fare.

My question to you:

We have a group of 19 sailing on Carnival Dream in July (Booking: 96HX13). I wouldn’t ask normally but I was wondering if there was any way that we could be seated at adjoining tables for our cruise? I know it may be a tall order, but I didn’t know who to turn to try to accomplish this. It would be nice to have our whole group together… but if that’s not possible, I understand.

It will be my son’s first cruise; he’ll be 4 at the time of sailing. I was also wondering if you could suggest some “kid friendly” shore excursions from the Western Itinerary. We have some ideas, but I wanted to inquire with someone who “knows”…. He’s a pretty remarkable little boy. We first met him when he was 2 1/2 in Novosibirsk Russia. He spent the first 2 years of his life in an orphanage there. We fell in love with him from the day we saw his sparkling big brown eyes. We braved the Siberian Winter to get him home… when we landed there in February 2009… it was -40C … and for the remainder of our stay, it didn’t get above -20C. Let me tell you, you have never felt cold like that.

What better way to assist with the defrost from the Frozen Gulag’s than to Cruise the Caribbean?

This will be our first Cruise with Carnival. It will my 4th cruise and the majority of the people that are sailing with us are seasoned cruisers. Some with Carnival… some not.

I’m really looking forward to the experience, as I am sure that MY Carnival Dream will impress.

Cheers to you, and I hope it make it by the sensors this time.

Your Friend (both here and on Facebook 🙂 ) ,
Dave Templeman

John Says:
Hello Dave T

As I think I mentioned yesterday, some of the chaps in Jamaica can be a little overzealous when it comes to selling stuff from the street. But they are not dangerous and I always recommend to our guests that to see the real Jamaica and to avoid the pressure of having to say “no” dozens of times to taxi drivers…… take an excursion from the ship. By the way, we the tubing excursion is superb, I hope you enjoyed it.

I want to thank you for sharing the wonderful story of your son. What a fantastic thing you have done and what joy he must bring you. I am sure his eyes will be wide open in amazement when he sees his Carnival Dream. In Roatan I think he should go the Gumbalinda Park excursion to see the monkeys and parrots and in Belize………..well maybe a day playing with his new friends at Camp Carnival to allow Mum and Dad to have some time together.

I will be happy to ask for the table request and would you please remind me with a “please reply” posting on June 15 and I will ask the Maitre D for you and I would love to send your son a little something as well.

I know you will love the Carnival experience and if you have any other questions please let me know.

Best wishes to you all

Kathy Asked:
Hi John

Love reading your blogs!!

My husband & I am my son & his girlfriend and my daughter and grandson & granddaughter will be on the Conquest in November – Thanksgiving week – will you still CD at that time? We were on the Conquest Nov 08 and I can’t recall the CDs name. Nov of 07 on the Ecstasy Goose was the CD – and he was AWESOME!!

We just got back from a Splendor cruise (Feb 7th) and the CD was Stephanie – not a good CD at all. Maybe she is new and needs to evolve in the job.

We are having problems with future cruise certificate and have been trying to get the problem resolved through out PVP and Special Programs – but no one seems to want to assist us. Any suggestions?


John Says:
Hello Kathy

Unfortunately I will not be on the Carnival Conquest in November but on the Carnival Splendor out on the west coast. The new Cruise Director schedule is not out yet but it will be soon so you can see how will be the CD.

Thanks for letting me know about Stephanie. She is indeed new and I am sure she will become a great Cruise Director one day soon. Please can you send me the details of your concerns here on the blog? I won’t post them but will ask someone to try and help you.

Best wishes and thanks for the kind words

Bob Asked:
John, Please reply

Not going on a cruise (yet). Don’t need a table by the window in the dining room.

Not celebrating anything and don’t care who smokes where.

Don’t need a ship on a stick or a basket of goodies.

Know how to pick my own cabin Too.

Just wanted to send you a happy Monday!!!

Crazy Cajun, Bob

John Says:
Hello Crazy Cajun, Bob

You made my day mate.

Thanks so much and if you ever do need anything please let me know.

Best wishes

That’s all for today and I will be back tomorrow with more.

I want to apologize for the delay of the blog thingy yesterday. One of the 343 Stephanies posted it but I guess the computer thought it was a cauliflower and it disappeared ……..bugger. Anyway it was posted at 9:20pm and I am sorry if you missed it and please again accept our apologies.

Yesterday there was a bit of an incident on the Carnival Ecstasy……….here is the official statement

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Yesterday, April 21, at approximately 12.55 pm U.S. central time, the cruise ship Carnival Ecstasy was forced to perform a maneuver to avoid an object in the water which resulted in the ship listing 12 degrees to the starboard side.  The object was a large buoy which was adrift and mostly submerged thereby preventing it from being detected by the ship’s radar.  The Carnival Ecstasy was on the final leg of a five-day cruise that departed Galveston, Texas, on Saturday, April 17 with stops in Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico and was carrying approximately 2340 passengers and 900 crew.

The movement of the vessel resulted in minor injuries to 60 guests who were treated at the ship’s infirmary as well as some minor damage to merchandise and unsecured objects.

The vessel docked this morning in Galveston, Texas, as scheduled.  All proper authorities, including the U.S. Coast Guard have been notified.

Carnival sincerely apologizes for the distress and discomfort this occurrence has caused our guests.  The safety, comfort and care of our guests and crew is our top priority.

I have been in a similar situation and I know how scary a “list” can be, especially thanks to the movie business and Leonardo DeCrapio. Seriously though I hope everyone is OK and the latest news is that injuries were minor. The one time I remember more than ever was many years ago on the Carnival Imagination. It must have been around 1994/5 and I didn’t cause the list because I was skinny back then. I do remember being on stage hosting an afternoon event or game when it happened and literally ended up on the other side of the theatre.

The ship was forced to do a similar maneuver that the Carnival Ecstasy did as another ship had changed direction and were going to be too close. There is no doubt about it that it is situation than can cause many a person to ruin a good pair of underwear but it is important to remember that these lists are tested during sea trials and there are many safety factors in place to make sure that a list……………..doesn’t become ……well………..something much worse.

So, although a list is as scary as seeing me naked in the morning…..or anytime for that matter ……….it is something that the ships of today are prepared for. I did sea trial on the Carnival Triumph and I will never forget it. This was unusual because normally the crew is not onboard when this happens but there were some last minute propulsion changes and so we had a sea trial with the entire ship’s company onboard. We had to tape up the draws and put everything on the floor, I mean everything. And then you think you are prepared for what the list but it still comes as a surprise and is quite scary, even though you know it is being done in a controlled environment.

I think the most “concerned” I have ever been during my 22 years at sea though was on the trans-Atlantic crossing when we brought over the Carnival Destiny.  It was only crew on board and the seas were huge………I don’t remember the figures but I do remember two nights of lying in bed listening to the banging coming from the cabin next to mine thinking how the heck are they having rumpy pumpy in conditions like this.

No…….seriously the seas were violent. The dancers could not rehearse and everyone was sick and I mean everyone and for poor Heidi, it was her first time at sea and I can still remember the look on her face as after one particular massive pitch and roll the ship shook like a dog coming out of water. Everything fell on the floor and …well………it wasn’t nice.

But since that day in 1996 I have never felt worried. I know how strong these ships are and it is still fire that is the most dangerous thing onboard………..that…..and hosting the Male Nightgown Contest in which 40 Boston firefighters dressed in bras and thongs were chasing me around the stage……………..that was totally terrifying.

Anyway, let’s get a view of how the crew handled what happened on the Carnival Ecstasy by asking the Cruise Director Brad to explain in his own words.

Hey John,

It has been an interesting day to say the least, once more I seem to find myself in the center of an unusual situation and once again I am blown away by the incredible people we have working with us onboard… the crew did an amazing job today, reacting immediately to all aspect of the sudden list, from the housekeeping teams checking every cabin to ensure no one felt abandoned or isolated, to the medical staff treating every bump and bruise, to the endless amount of both staff and crew who began walking the ship to talk with guests and answer questions; everyone pitched in to lend a hand and bring the ship back to operating standard, while at the same time being a calming presence for the upset guests. I am so proud to be working with such an incredible team onboard, situations like these really do bring out the best in people and the crew and staff truly exhibited a dedication to our guests today with their professionalism, their kindness, and sincere understanding. We work in an industry that strives to provide guests with memorable vacation experiences, today I witnessed the essence of what this means, as some moments truly test the resolve of this standard, but because of the quality of people that work in this company who make the difference on a daily basis the ship was up and running within a couple of hours…to me that is memorable and many of our guests felt that way as well.


Brad Calabrese
Cruise Director
Carnival Ecstasy

Superbly written Brad and please convey our thanks to all the team there. You should all be proud.

Back here on the Carnival Conquest the weather has been 100% perfect. No clouds, no waves just sun and smooth seas. Today we are in Grand Cayman and as I sit here in my underpants you are no doubt expecting me to have a good old rant and moan about the fact that we are having to tender guests ashore and that the cheap bastards won’t build a pier. Well, we are tendering guests ashore but it seems that things may change. That’s because according to the Cayman Compass newspaper the government have decided to build 2 “finger” piers which should be complete by the end of 2012 and then finally………finally the archaic way we transfer you ashore will change. I wonder if me calling them “cheap bastards” every week helped them come to that decision …………………..yes………..of course it did.

And while the vast majority of guests will go ashore today to swim with stingrays and shop with Visa some guests will remain onboard and many of those will be reading a book. For some Carnival guests cruises are for reading.  “Yes, Dunn’s River falls, lovely. Oh, look, there’s more food. Mmmm, must go in the swimming pool later and then watch that fat English bloke tell stupid jokes. But if you don’t mind, for the time being I am just going to sit here on deck …………….. and read.”

And it seems that the young and the old are reading electronically these days because wherever I look I see these electric computer book thingies. As you know I love to read and my suitcase always struggles to find room with all the books I pack. If I don’t read before I go to bed I think about shows, e mails, blogs and Megan Fox’s bottom …..none of which are good for my health so reading is the answer.

The Kindle thingy looks like a brilliant device. Supermodel skinny lighter than a hardback book and as one of the bloggers Carolyn was telling me you can keep around 200 books on the machine at a time. Why then have I not got one? Well, I just don’t know if I could not get used to holding a book, to turning the page and whether I could be bothered to have yet another sodding thing to have to plug into the mains to charge overnight. I wonder if Cunard has them for hire onboard. Their libraries have 6,000 books. I wonder if they have gone digital? I see so many guests with these things here on the ships that I am sure it will eventually become slayer of books in the same way the Eye Pod slayed the compact disc. And I am equally sure that this slice of electronics will one day have librarians looking for work elsewhere…….and that is such a shame.

The only disappointing thing about my time on the Carnival Conquest has been the serious lack of cowboy hats. The first cruise I was here there were a few but since then there have been bugger all. So this cruise I made a concerted effort to find a real Texan cowboy. So with my faithful Fujithingy in my pocket I scoured the ship looking for some Stetsons………..I found two.

This is a chap how actually is a faithful blog reader and calls himself the “Benz Cowboy” ………. because he doesn’t drive a truck………..he drives a Mercedes. I met him and his wonderful family and they were so friendly………….but Mr. Benz Cowboy was not what I was looking for.

Then I found this guy.

This is the only other chap in a cowboy hat I could find. Please meet Roland Pedding who is from San Antonio and ……………he is a dentist………..a sodding dentist.

I wanted a rough, tough, cowboy who sleeps under the stars and farts round the camp fire with his cowboy mates. I wanted a tobacco chewing, snakeskin boot wearing, howdy partner saying dude who grew up on a diet of country music and who could teach me how to rope cattle and ride bucking horses. I wanted to ride around in a pick-up truck and listen to Box Car Willie. I wanted to meet a gun-toting cowboy redneck, but they seem to have ceased to exist. Instead I met a chap who drives a Mercedes ………………and a dentist.

Oh, one last thing. The UK is flying again. My cousins are as I speak about to land in London following a 8 days of unexpected delays in Miami. Virgin, British Airways and other airlines have lost billions of pounds and dollars because of our Icelandic farting volcano but all the airlines it seems are going to be Carnivalesque………and do the right thingy by their passengers. Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, allegedly said he would defy European law which obliges carriers to pay the hotel, food and phone costs of those whose flights are canceled.  This is no shock coming from the man who is going to charge 1 euro to use the toilet on the plane ……….. I hope his face is on the toilet paper.

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.