The Root Of The Problem

April 29, 2010 -

John Heald

Bugger. I was having a really good morning until a few minutes ago. It was just me, my cup of early morning tea, a bagel smothered with cream cheese and my underpants when I sat down to read my 71 e-mails and noticed at the top of my list was my ticket to Mobile, Alabama …………… and the bugger was because I have to fly again……… economy!

Bloody hell I hate flying. Yes, yes I know exactly what some of you are saying “here he goes again the fat sod, moaning about flying.”  And you are right, I should stop moaning but I can’t. It’s the whole experience I hate not just the fact that I am 30,000 feet in the air breathing in everyone else’s farts as well as my own. I hate flying because it turns the nicest people into selfish bastards. I’m not kidding………..most passengers morph into total shi*s the minute they’re handed a boarding pass. Let me explain what drives me absolutely bonkers

When queuing ….sorry…………..lining up…………. at check-in, why do people always ensure they leave it until the last second to get out their sodding documents out of their carry on.

Why do people always run to get your seat on the plane as if it might get full otherwise ………….. unless you are flying Ryanair in which case your life is already at the bottom of the poo barrel?

Once seated why do people immediately buckle their seatbelt and sigh loudly every time they have to unbuckle and stand to let me get to my seat. Oh and how bloody annoying is it when people take an eternity putting their bags in the overhead locker. And why do I always sit next to passengers who remove their shoes even on a short flight. No one minds the smell of mature cheddar …….. As long as you are comfortable mate

Why do passengers always recline their seat to its fullest extent, particularly when my meal is served.  Oh, and if you want to piss me off never remove your headphones when the cabin crew speaks to you…….. Feel free to stare the stewardesses’ bottoms…… definitely undo your seatbelt the second the plane lands even if the light is still switched on which will mean you get home faster.

It’s time we stopped relying on airline travel as the recent volcano thingy has shown. Come on Fincantieri…………..stop messing about…………..and build us some Ferrari quick ships.  A high speed people carrier that would cover Southampton to New York in ONE day and Miami to Houston in a few hours. We could even use nuclear propulsion as used by aircraft carriers and ice breakers. Would anyone fly long-haul again? ………………would they my arse.

Time for today’s questions…………..let’s crack on.

Irene H Asked:
Hello John, (please respond)

We will be sailing on Liberty May 22-29. We have already been on this ship once before and just love it. We will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and want to make this cruise very special for my husband!! Any ideas? Will you possibly be the CD at that time or will you be in the future?

Thanks for your help. Irene

John Says:
Hello Irene H

I am sorry that I cannot be with you for this very special cruise. Tomorrow, I will be posting the Cruise Director schedule so you will be able to see who will be on your cruise. I am sure you have already booked a meal at the Steakhouse and I would kindly ask that you send one of the 343 Stephanies your cabin number please so I can send you a little anniversary gift. You could also consider a renewal of vows as well hosted by the Captain. Most importantly just tell him you love him and enjoy these 7 days of fun and relaxation.

Don’t forget to send me your details.

Best wishes to you both

Mike & Denise Dick Asked:
Hi John (please reply)

First of all, let me say that I feel the same way about massages as you do. On our last cruise (Conquest 2008) my husband suggested we do the couples massage. Please understand that even if I were in top physical condition (which I’m not) this would be a stretch for me – no pun intended. Anyway, after I stared at him for about 30 seconds, he mumbled something about needing to go check on something and he was gone. I think he truly feared for his life at that moment. You would think that after being married for 23 years that he would know me better than that. Oh well, forgive and forget.

I’m really excited about our 25th anniversary cruise coming up May 8 on the Dream. We didn’t get to go on a cruise in 2009 because my husband’s hours were cut. For some reason, he concluded that eating and not being homeless were more important than taking a cruise (go figure). We have since had a very long discussion on priorities and I’m happy to say he is thinking much clearer these days.

This is my second posting on our cruise coming up but the last one was my first (try to figure that one out) and I think I forgot to add “please reply” and I want to hear from you. Your blog is hilarious and very informative. You are a lovely person and you have a lovely family.

btw, I know it is a lot to ask but could you arrange a meeting for me with Robert Pattinson? He is from London so I’m sure you know him. Lol I just would like to run my fingers through his hair (that’s it, I swear). I’ve tried it with my husband but as he’s hair challenged, I’m thinking it won’t be the same.

Seriously, we are planning on a cruise on the Conquest next year. I hope you will be the CD on our sailing and we get to meet you in person. Until then, my friend, I guess you will have to put up with my postings. I’ll try to limit them to 7-8 a day. I’m sure all the Stephanies will be glad to hear that!

Take care.

P.S. I actually DO eat the little mints on my pillow plus Mike’s and any I can bribe my room steward to give me. Hey here’s an idea: maybe you could arrange to have a few thousand sent to our stateroom for our anniversary? Thanks in advance.

Love your blog thingy.

John Says:
Mike & Denise Dick

I am glad to read you enjoy the blog and as I mentioned recently your pillow will still offer you your chocolate treat before bedtime. Thanks for the story about the couples massage, I can just picture your husband’s face as he ran away…….very quickly. I was sorry to read about how tough 2009 was for you and I hope that the years ahead are happier and more prosperous for you and for us all.

I have to admit that I had no bloody clue who Robert Pattinson is and so I had to ask Uncle Google who told me that he is a vampire so run your fingers through his hair if you want to but he might take a chunk out of your neck if you do.

While I can’t promise a meeting with him or that I will be the CD on the Carnival Conquest next year I can promise that you will have a brilliant time on your Carnival Dream and that you can expect a little gift from me. Have a great time and thanks for the fun posting.

Best wishes to you both

Marcia Asked:
Dearest John, (I don’t like “Dear John” – it sounds like I’m breaking up with you!)

I will be sailing with a large family group (23 people in 11 cabins) on the Carnival Spirit (notice the full name) on June 1st. The VIPs are my husband’s brother’s wife’s parents (whew!) and they are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Their names are Bob and Beverly. When they found out we were cruising to celebrate our 20th anniversary, they invited us to join them and their friends.

The cruise will be a bit melancholy for Bob – his best friend since kindergarten who was booked on the cruise with us died suddenly in February. His wife will still be joining us but I’m sure there will be times when we all remember Walt, sometimes with tears and sometimes with a smile.

So here is the favor I am asking of you, Dear John. We have 3 large tables in early seating. These tables are supposed to be near each other. Could at least one of those tables be near a window? Also, could the CD (I believe it is Stuart Dunn) send a note to Bob & Beverly? And for me–All I want is a solid gold plastic ship-on-a-stick. 😉 Whatever you can do will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for doing your blog thingy and making me laugh. Keep up the good work and say hi to your girls for me! Kye is really the cutest thing with the sweetest smile! (I hope to see you on a bloggers cruise someday – maybe on the West Coast)


John Says:
Hello Marcia

I was sorry to learn about the sudden passing of Bob’s best friend and it sounds like a cruise on the Carnival Spirit is just what the doctor ordered to allow everyone to celebrate his life and the 50th anniversary of your friends. I have sent your information to the Maitre D on the Carnival Spirit and Stu the brilliant Cruise Director who will definitely do their best to help with your requests. I wish you all a wonderful time and please …….never break up with me and thanks for the kind words about my beautiful daughter.

Best wishes to all

Paul T Asked:
John (please reply),

A friend of mine told me I should write to you on your blog.

I recently got back from the Sensation. It was my first Carnival cruise and while I had a good time I was angry as a Christian that Carnival seemed only interested in plying you with drink and forcing you to gamble. Even the shows were full of erotic costumes certainly not suitable for a family audience. My children are aged 9 and 11 and we had to take them out of the show.

Our waitress Jessie from the Philippines was very good and we spoke about my evangelical work I had done in Manila.

I was interested to know your thoughts about my comments. Why is Carnival all about the pleasures of sin and not more about family clean and healthy fun. I have read a few of your blogs and I must say even your humor is boarding on pornographic at times.

Thank you though for taking the time to answer me.

Paul T, Hilton Head
South Carolina

John Says:
Hello Paul T

Let’s start with your words of praise for Jessie your waitress which I will make sure she sees and thank you for taking the time to write.  I am glad you started your posting by saying you had a good time because that is very important. I was though sorry to learn that you didn’t enjoy the shows because of the dancers’ costumes, which are similar to what you see in other production shows on cruise ships and in Las Vegas.  Still, maybe we need to do a better job advertising the fact the shows do contain “showgirl” style costuming and I have written to the CD on the Carnival Sensation to ask him to do so. As for the gambling and drinking, well, certainly we have bars and a casino but also offer lots of other fun stuff including games, trivia, live music, karaoke, water slides, pools and of course fantastic food and fun service, all of which I hope you enjoyed.

Carnival carries more families and 650,000 children a year – more than any other cruise line — and we do this by assuring that we have the right mixture of fun and entertainment for everyone. I wonder, did your children try Camp Carnival? I hope they did because our award winning children’s program really is something we are very proud of and I hope they got to experience it.

As for my blogs “boarding on pornographic at times”……well, I guess I do get a little racy at times but as a Christian myself I believe God has a sense of humour.  In fact I know he does …………..I have seen myself naked.

I hope you did have a good time and please let me apologize if you found the shows not to your liking try and remember the good times your family had and if you consider cruising with us again, please let me answer any concerns or questions you may have before you book.

Best wishes to you and the family

Carrie Reardon Asked:
Hello John,

I will be going on my third Carnival Cruise, with my DH for our Honeymoon, we will be on the Liberty May 1 and traveling with our friends, we are in cabin 7334 and 7336, my question is when we booked the rooms we booked them at the same time, but we would like to make sure we are sitting together at dinner, we both asked for late dinning, but would like to make sure we are sitting together. How do we go about doing this?

John Says:
Hello Carrie Reardon

Have a wonderful cruise on the Carnival Liberty and I have asked the Maitre D to seat you and your friends together.

Best wishes to all

Elizabeth & Kenneth Johnson Asked:

John, we sailed our first cruise ever on the Dream Dec. 3, 2009. Never did get a chance to meet you, it was always something. I’m sure we’ll cruise on a ship where you are again our CD. My question is: My husband is legally blind/disabled with only about 3-5 degrees of peripheral vision left (gets worse every day). He had a terrible time making it through the crowds with his coffee/coke/juice without spilling or bumping into others on the last cruise. This time, we have informed Carnival he is Vision Impaired but never quite got a solid answer as to what accommodations he could receive on our cruise on Dream May 8-22 (back to back, yeah). He doesn’t expect to be waited on hand and foot but it would be nice when I am not with him if he could have his drink (coke, coffee) brought to him in my absence. This would not only benefit him but protect others from him accidentally spilling hot coffee, etc… On them. Can you tell me where to get a direct answer before we sail? Or do you already know what we can expect?

Thank you for all you do and have done as the Best CD! I knew you would do all you could to help us find a solution to our dilemma, and we thank you so very much!

Love to your sweet family.

John Says:
Hello Elizabeth & Kenneth Johnson

I am sorry we never got to say hello to each other on your Carnival Dream. It was my bloggers cruise and I was very busy but hopefully one day we will get to meet in person. Please do not worry about your husband this time. I have sent your details to the Hotel Director who will make sure that the crew is alerted to your husband’s needs. However, please tell your husband this. If he is seated on Lido and needs a drink please tell him to ask any of the staff there. They will for sure help him. Anyway, for now, just look forward to your cruises and let the brilliant crew of your Carnival Dream take care of you both. Thanks so much for the kind words.

Best wishes to you both

Msqpon – Jo Myerly Asked:
John, Pleasereply

Hi John, Sometime when you get a chance I would love to see a list of which Carnival ships have the future cruise certificates and which ones have the photo machines like the Carnival Splendor and the Carnival Dream. We are going on the Carnival Elation thru the Panama Canal at the end of this month and the Carnival Miracle in December. Please check this out for me.

Thanks for all you do.
Jo Myerly

John Says:
Hello Jo Myerly

The Future Cruise and Loyalty desk can be found onboard all our 7 day or more ships and will soon be on the Carnival Imagination as well and is already onboard the Carnival Elation.

I am a bit confused about the photo machines you refer to on the Carnival Splendor. Can you please let me know which ones you are referring to? I know you and Dave will have a great time on the Panama Canal cruise and hope to hear all about it when you get home.

Best wishes to you both

Charlene Szwec Asked:
Hi John, Please reply

I’m having so much fun reading the blogs from so many different people. Your answers and comments are great and I tip my bonnet to you for being a much better person then those who complain. I really admire you and your staff.

I blogged you a while ago and received my answer in a very quick time and I thank you for your help.

My husband and I are going to be on the Carnival Dream for a back to back June 12 – June 26 for our 40th anniversary. We signed up for the open dining and we are wondering if the menu for this is the same as the early and late seatings. Not that it really matters because no matter where we eat everything is always wonderful. Everything about Carnival has always been top notch. This will be out 9th and 10th cruise and you were the CD on two of our other cruises. You were wonderful then and I know you are still a wonderful CD.

I have another question. Did you meet Heidi on Carnival and wasn’t she a Carnival dancer? Is Heidi also English or is she American? I’m just being curious.

Keep up the great job doing this blog. I really appreciate it as I know many of thousands of others do also.

Take care and thank you very much.
Charlene Szwec

John Says:
Hello Charlene Szwec

Thank you for the kind words and I am glad I was able to help you. You will really enjoy YTD (Your Time Dining) and the menu is indeed exactly the same as the guests who book early and late sitting will enjoy. I wish I could be with you to help celebrate getting your shiny Platinum card and thank you for your loyalty. Heidi is Dutch and she will be thrilled to learn you thought she was a dancer but in fact she and I met off ships, at a restaurant in Holland. She had never heard of Carnival or had taken a cruise but it was love at first sight……..well… sponsored by Heineken……and then eventually she came to work with me onboard the then new Carnival Destiny in 1996 as a Youth Staff member. Then she became my assistant and the rest is history as they say.

I am very grateful for your kind words and hope we you have a brilliant time on your back to back Carnival Dream cruises.

Best wishes to all.

Anne Martin Asked:
John Reply Please

I am a big fan of your blog and Cruise Critic and while I was reading reviews of Carnival ships I found this comment from someone called “fancymeetingyouhere” which I thought you should read. His review of the Dream is not very good but the bit that struck me was what he said about you

The cruise director John Heald (not sure if I spelt his name correctly) was an absolute scream. He is absolutely hilarious – I wish he made an appearance more often (perhaps tear him away from the buffet once in a while) as I don’t think I could ever get sick of this guy – funny funny funny. If you want to see this guy you better hurry as he is a heart attack in the making as he is enormously huge.

I think maybe you should be aware of the passenger’s perception of you and if you think you need to take steps to change

Love your blog.

John Says:
Hello Anne

Thank you………..I think………for sending me this comment… Why could he not just say I was funny which is hopefully the main perception that guests who meet take with them.

Strange, I don’t think of myself as “enormously huge”…….oh well.

Best wishes

That’s all for today……………..boy, that was a mixed bag of questions wasn’t it? I think I need to calm down and try and try and feel better about myself why don’t I leave you with so more wonderful photos from Radu of the Carnival Elation.

Tomorrow we gaze through Radu’s magical lens at Catalina during the ship’s last call there.

Yesterday I mentioned the new karaoke live activity which we call Rock Star. I thought you might like to see the official logo and poster we are using for this along with some examples of the songs that you yes you, can sing with the live band.

Regarding the list of things of prohibited items, there is a meeting in Miami on Monday where people with beards will script a final list of what can and cannot be brought onboard our ships. I will report back to you on this next week and meanwhile if you have any thoughts or questions please let me know…………………

There is a blogger called Charlie Sedtal, who is sailing this week with me here on the Carnival Conquest who had 4 bottles of beer confiscated. Except it wasn’t beer. It was Stewarts Diet Root Beer………….and it was for me.

It took Charlie a few minutes to explain to our staff that this was not beer…….it was soda but I guess root beer is not too popular in Slovakia and Bombay. Anyway, it was all sorted and there are now two bottles of Diet Stewart’s root beer in my refrigerator. My thanks to Charlie and Robbie for their wonderful kindness.

Here we are back in Grand Cayman and it is a lovely day. Usually at this point I call them cheap for not building a pier but as I said last week it appears that they are finally going to call Bob and get one built.

The guests have been terrific this cruise as seems to be the norm here and after the magic show I walked down Promenade to see the new band I had requested to come to the ship. It took me about 45 minutes to get from the main lounge to the casino bar as people stopped me, took photos and took the time to say “y’all are very funny.”  One lady told me that she had “peed her pants” at the Marriage Show and my offer for her to have a pair of mine as an apology was rejected.

We still get some comments of course. A few noise complaints, AC too cold or too hot and a few about staterooms not being what they thought they had booked. But here, on the Carnival Conquest the Guest Services Incident report is just a few pages……………..although this cruise 50% of those pages belongs to my old mate ……………Mr. Celebrity.

He hates me, hates my jokes hates the shows, hates the steakhouse, hates the food and now as you will see, he has turned his attention elsewhere.

Guest: Mr ———-Ref: 830016175A Owner: (CQCHPUR) Conquest Chief Purser
Cabin: ——-Booking#: ____ Added-Changed: 04/28/10 – 04/28/10

Guest came to the desk demanding to speak to the Captain. GSA asked what was wrong. Mr_____ said that he had found a dark hair on his pillow that was not his as his wife had dark hair and he had no hair. Guest had the black hair with him taped to a piece of paper and would not leave the desk until he spoke to the Captain. GSA called GSS to come and speak to the guest.

Guest has multiple comments: see pages 4, 5, 6 and 7 of IR

He taped the hair to a piece of paper, good grief! There are times when you just have to laugh and there are times when you feel like suggesting to Mr. Celebrity to bugger off and never come back. Obviously we apologized for “the hair” and of course, surprise, sur-bloody-surprise he has demanded compensation. We have now added Mr. Celebrity’s name to our warning list so that if he ever cruises with us again we will be prepared. It’s not often you will hear me say this on the blog thingy but honestly, the way he has spoken to the crew ……..Brand X are welcome to him ……………….hair my arse.

Everyone it seems is growing a beard. Two previously senior vice presidents at Carnival have grown them and today, a fly on comedian who I have not seen for a few years arrived sporting a full face of hair.

And it’s not just Carnival chaps either it seems. Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, Sting and even the most famous lady soccer player in the world David Beckham have been telling their razors to bugger off. Of course it’s not just the young and tanned that are doing it. The new Carnival beardists are my age and I wonder that along with the Porsche, the leather jacket, the gym membership, the wine cellar, the Very Big Plasma TV and the Eye Phone, the beard is a classic response to, and symptom of, a mid-life crisis………………….maybe I should grow one myself.

One thing that is not growing anymore is Chris Jefferson’s plant. For those who do not know Chris, he is the permanent Cruise Director of the Carnival Conquest and I am ship sitting for him. Amongst the instructions he left me was to look after his house plant he has proudly sitting by the cabin office window. I remembered to water it the first cruise but ummmm………..I seem to have forgotten these past few weeks. I thought it looked a bit sickly and so I asked a few people to come and have a look at it including Doctor Jason the ship’s senior physician who said ………… was dead. I didn’t believe him. I’ve watered it, read it poetry, played the sodding thing Celine Dion records even crushed up a Viagra pill and sprinkled it on the soil. But it’s hopeless …………….Chris’ plant is dead……………the cabin has become the Killing Fields…………..the leaves are brown and crisp as withered as my thingy after seeing Judge Judy naked.

Chris won’t be happy.

Neither will Mr. Celebrity……….when he finds it on his pillow.

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.