Hair Guitar

April 30, 2010 -

John Heald

My Morning Shows are a very important part of what I do as a CD. On the Destiny-class ships the only live feed comes from the Circle C room which means I have to read out dozens of letters while seated on a couch designed for kids which in turn means its three inches off the ground and covered in boogers.

Anyway, yesterday afternoon after leaving Grand Cayman I had to do an extra show such was the vast quantity of letters that I had received. I didn’t want anyone who had taken the time to write a passionate letter of dedication not to have it read out……….I actually had 41 letters for this show only and by the end of the cruise I will have probably read out 300 plus.

Anyway, back to Circle C. When I arrived to set up the show there was one solitary 14 year old (or he could have been 27 as I no longer have the capability to tell how old kids are these days) playing a video game. And so while I waited for the camera people to set up I asked if I could have a go. 14 – 27 year old shrugged his shoulders and passed me the thing he was holding …….  the game was Rock Band: The Beatles and there I stood………..with my guitar thingy.

Now, I know that I am about as technically minded as a slug but I have to ask………… I missing something here.

I can’t see what all the sodding fuss is about. To me, this Beatles video game involves standing in front of a television holding a small plastic “guitar” that has five colour coded buttons stuck on it. On the TV screen a sequence of coloured blobs head toward you. My job was to hit the button on my toy guitar that corresponds with each blob. In short, if you stuck a Beatles album on your stereo and spent an evening playing Tetris, you would have a very similar experience.

The track I chose was “Hard Day’s Night” and off I went. There is an element of competition in the game in that if you are terrible at keeping in time with the music, it stops, and a computer generated voice with a Liverpool accent says “Start Again, You Are Not ready For the Fab Four.” If this was real Liverpool it would say “Sit your arse down, you are a lump of sh*t.”

If you hit the right notes in time with your fellow band members you gain points. I made it through half of the song before Paul, George and Ringo realised that John was totally crap and told me to bugger off. So, I gave the guitar thing back to the 14 – 27 year old who started blazing his way through Twist and Shout.

Somebody once told me that these guitar games are an inspiring way for the kids of today to learn music………..bollocks. Teenagers should be sitting in cold piano rooms learning arpeggios until they think their spotty heads will explode, like I had to. And they should be forced to listen to proper Beatles albums on proper record players………… And not on Eye Pods………….oh and while we are at it can I just say this to all teenage boys “PULL YOUR SODDING PANTS UP.”

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

Chacoee Asked:
John – reply

You do realise don’t you that everyone who starts their postings with how good you are or stuff about your family are just saying that to get you do something for them or send them free stuff. It makes me sick and I know others on Cruise Critic feel the same and shame on you for encouraging them.

John Says:
Hello Chacoee

I am here to help anyone and everyone I can, including you.

Best wishes

Libby Asked:
John Please Reply.

Thank you for all the updates on various ships but the one we are waiting to hear about is The Carnival Magic.

Will we have a Transatlantic in Oct. 2011?

We have already started the roll call for Oct 28, 2011 on Cruise Critic and are waiting to book to go “wherever” whenever she leaves Barcelona the end of Oct 2011.

Please give us hope!

John Says:
Hello Libby

Hope should spring eternal for you and your Cruise Critic group. There will be a trans-Atlantic crossing as far as I know and although I do not have the details or the date or which homeport she will end up at I can tell you that this information will be here soon. Please don’t worry and I hope that I will be with you all for this adventure? Please keep reading the blog thingy and hopefully our super spy PA 007 will reveal all very soon.

Best wishes to you and all your CC friends.

katetroy Asked:
Hello John,

Love your blog. My husband has been on a few cruises with his family when he was a child, but I have never been. The problem is that we do not wish to leave our pooch. Are there any cruises that allow dogs as passengers?

John Says:
Hello Katetroy

I know that there are many who agonize about leaving the family dog at home while they enjoy a magnificent cruise experience. Unfortunately the only dogs we allow onboard are service dogs although Cunard does allow dogs to travel on their Trans Atlantic cruises. I thought you might like to read more about this so here is a link to my friend Alistair’s blog. He is an Entertainment Director for Cunard and this blog entry tells you about a “dog’s life “onboard.

I hope you enjoy it and I hope regardless that one day you will get to experience a cruise together.

Best wishes to you and your husband and woof to the dog

Bill Asked:
Hi John – please reply.

I am going on a cruise on June 5 on the Dream. Is there a way that my daughter and her family can visit us on the ship before sailing? We are trying to talk them into taking one next year on the Freedom for my wife and mine 40th anniversary

John Says:
Hello Bill

I did check with the people onboard but there is still a strict no visitors policy I am afraid. I know Princess is doing a package for pre cruise visitors with lunch and I will remind the beards that this is very popular and maybe something we should consider. My apologies and I hope you have a wonderful time on your Carnival Dream.

Best wishes

Mary M. Asked:
Dear John (Please reply),

My family (8 of us in all) is booked on the Carnival Legend in August. We just received word that the itinerary has been changed…Belize & Roatan have swapped days and our time in Roatan has also been adjusted.

It doesn’t really matter to me which day we are in which port…but I was just curious what prompted the switch? (Sorry if you have already mentioned this…I don’t always read all of the letters.)

I am most looking forward to our visit to Roatan (been there once on the Paradise years ago)…but sadly it is the shortest day of all four port stops. With the new Mahogany Bay I wish Carnival would decide to extend the hours that the Legend is in port there. Any explanation why the visit is so short (11:00 am to 6:00 pm)?

Thanks again for the time you spend on this blog to entertain us. One of the first things I do when I get home from work each day is sit down and see what you’ve got to say…and you never fail to make me smile!


John Says:
Hello Mary M

We did switch the days for Belize and Roatan on the Carnival Legend.  This was done for operational reasons and allowed us to minimize the number of days where two ships are in the port on the same day. You will really like our new Mahogany Bay facility in Roatan and you will see a lot of changes have taken place since you were last there. The times the Carnival Legend arrives in port are all based on distance and speed. The ship has a four port itinerary and is at full speed for most of the voyage, hence the 11 am arrival. I hope you have a lot of fun and a great cruise and please write and tell me what you thought of Mahogany Bay.

Best wishes and thanks so much for the kind words

Steve Asked:
Dear John (Please reply)

Sir, I have been following you Bloggy Thingy for about 2 months now. I really don’t know how I found it probably from the hours that I spend every week looking at the next cruise we will take. I guess I have no life. That being said I do love it. I love it don’t give up the Bloggy Thingy… On to the more serious things. My future wife Beth (we will be married on May 1) are cruising on the FANTASY on May 03, to my wonderful surprise you will be on that ship as well. This will be her 3rd and my 2nd cruise and would not think of any other cruise line. My hats off to you. I am writing this for a few reasons. A) You and you PEOPLE (Carnival Cruise Lines) are the best. B) As in all things there are concerns. I first sailed with you exactly 1 year ago on May 3 on TRIUMPH it was the greatest experience of my life. Thanks to my loving wife to be we do it again. I have only one concern, as they say bigger is always better Fantasy is a much smaller ship than my previous trip. Guess I just want that warm fuzzy feeling. Hope bigger is not always better…. C) We sail to Calika don’t know if spelled right but who really cares lol. Really I do Beth and I had booked a deal at XEL-HA and I am concerned about transportation due to the fact that there were no excursions to it, Just want to be sure I get back. (DONT WANT TO MISS SUPPER). Hope you can give some info on Transportation (PLEASE)). D) IT is my honeymoon and want to do something special for my lady have tried to get a table for 2 for supper but don’t have a lot of confidence in my PVP. That being said He is a great guy (BRIAN VITOW) thanks Brian. But I need more ideas and you being the man that you are I think you can help (thanks John). Sorry for taking so much time of yours cause I know you are busy, hope we get to meet on the Fantasy. OHHHHHHHHHH 1 more thing on my cruise on the Triumph I had the greatest time doing the hairy chest contest (thanks to Natasha (I think that was her name It has been a year) The ACD SHE WAS THE BEST. My future wife wants me to do it again… Got medal last time shooting for ship on a stick (thanks Jorge). Does Fantasy do this contest? Please let Triumph they are the best. Thank you for your time John. Know this is short notice but I think you can handle it. Look forward to seeing you on the Fantasy.


John Says:
Hello Steve

I am honoured (spelt correctly) to welcome you to the blog thingy and I hope it continues to bring you a mixture of fun and information. It looks like I will be seeing you on May 3rd. I won’t be the CD but will be onboard so hopefully we can meet and I can wish you a Happy Honeymoon. In fact, please leave me a note at the Guest Services Desk with your names and cabin number would you please so I can send you a honeymoon gift.

I have not taken a trip to Xel Ha from Calica so I don’t know exactly how much a taxi will be but I will find out for you and tell you once onboard. I need to speak to the Shore Excursion Manager there to see what the best way for you to get there is. Please don’t worry about anything, we will look after you. I have emailed the Maitre D for a table for two for you and I know he will do his best to help you with your seating request.

Good luck with the Hairy Chest and I know that you will love the Carnival Fantasy and I know it will be a brilliant honeymoon for you both. Best wishes and see you soon and most importantly………have a wonderful wedding day.


retirementman Asked:

Hi John. It’s been awhile since I’ve commented on your blog. That was quite a kiss you gave the officer. Was his new bride upset? Ha,ha,ha.

As I said MaryLou & I will be on the Carnival Miracle next Jan. 22 for an 8 day cruise. Why not have your” Bloggers Cruise” then? Just an idea.

Since we will be at the ports of Aruba and Curacao would you please giving some special areas that I might be interested for an excursion?

I agree with Heidi. YOU NEED TO GET OFF THE DARN SHIP ONCE in awhile. Why not take that massage that was offered to you? Don’t worry about one little fart. You’re allowed one little fart.

The story that you gave us about that little girls that so ill and how Carnival treated her and later they called to see how she is the reason why I always choice Carnival for my cruises. I can TRUST Carnival and you my friend.

Rest, got off the ship once in awhile and think about the Carnival Miracle for your” Bloggers Cruise”. See you.

Paul F. Pietrangelo

John Says:
Hello Paul Pietrangelo

I just read this having decided to have the Bloggers Cruise on the Carnival Glory. I am disappointed that you both will be unable to join me but I know that you will both have a brilliant time on the Carnival Miracle.

Thanks for the kind words. I have not been off the ship at all since I joined the Carnival Conquest, except one time I think in Cozumel. I just don’t have the time what with the blog and my other duties…….plus I really don’t have anyone to do anything with. Anyway, I am sorry I didn’t choose the Carnival Miracle for the Bloggers Cruise and as always it is great to hear from you.

Best wishes to you both

Jerry Calvert Asked:
Pls reply:

You people on the ships are so visible and responsive. The people in the office in Miami are without faces and able to pass the buck.

We (like us 30+ carn corp cruises in 9 yrs) need human beings to talk to as a last resort.

here’s an example:

Carnival legend 4/25/10.

New bookings able to get Dp3 (past Pass) rate for two people on 3 person cabins. Already booked, although we paid more can’t have these cabins. Customers who book thru travel agent have no one at CCl to appeal to. Even if you booked direct, no one who is willing to listen to reason to talk to.

You give us those surveys to fill out on each cruise. If Miami had these they’d get 2′s.

We need help!!

John Says:
Hello Jerry Calvert

I am not sure I understand exactly what your concern is but I do understand that you seem very frustrated and that is not good. So, I have sent your posting to someone in our CARE Team who I will ask to have a careful look at your posting and see how we can help. I am glad that I can be “the face” and hopefully you will use me to try and help you when you need it.

Best wishes

wil-da-beast Asked:

John …please reply..Sorry to bother you but need advice. Since you are on the Carnival Conquest and the Key West-Bahamas itinerary, what night would you suggest for the steak house reservation? I want to do something for my daughter and son-in-law. No need to bore you with the details, but want this to be a special cruise for them. They’re not going until July so that should be enough time for a reply. Appreciate your thoughts or any other suggestions for a cruise that will give them happy memories……Thanks ever so much for your time. My best to you and your family…… The beast….

John Says:
Hello wil -da-beast

If you remind me a few weeks before you sail I will be honoured to send your daughter a little gift. Looking at the itinerary I would suggest that they make a reservation at the Steakhouse on Thursday, the night before Freeport. This will be the perfect time to enjoy a very special meal there. You are never a bother and I remain here at your service.

Best wishes

Theresa Asked:

My husband and I took a 5 day cruise out of Tampa, Florida last spring (2009) as an experiment cruise. We had a wonderful time and as a result we are booked to cruise to Alaska in August 2010. We would like to be booked at the 6 seating in the dining room. Presently, we are on a wait list. I have sent several messages via…computer, called several times, etc to have this changed as my husband needs to take medication with his evening meal (a few hours before he retires for the evening). This is not being “fixed” and I am worried it will ruin the cruising experience if we cannot be seated in the dining room. We prefer not to do the dining on your own time system if at all possible. Can you help?

John Says:
Hello Theresa

I will send a request to the Maitre D on the Carnival Spirit to see if we can help you. I will need your last name and state room number please so if you can send this information I will do my best to assist you.

Best wishes

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

I was a bit upset yesterday after the comments from Paul and Anne about my pornographic blog and the fact that I am so huge that this may be my last ever blog as I am apparently due a massive heart attack. Obviously, I have to be respectful to their opinions and I can’t really say what I want to say because……..well………..that wouldn’t be nice. I know I put myself in the firing line each and every time me and my underpants express a view here on the blog and God help me if I say something that someone else does not agree with.

You don’t have to be famous to be verbally lynched by the public any more. You just have to say or do something with which they don’t agree. Then you are accused of having a face that could curdle milk and a tendency for having romance with sheep……and there’s bugger all I can do about it.

Still, I have to understand that people are allowed opinions just like I am……I just wish that if they are going to say that I am a fat bastard who is about to die that they would sign their proper name rather hide behind screen names like “Chacoee” or “fancymeetingyouhere.” A funny screen name is fine if you are just asking a question or want to say hi. But if you are going to publicly castrate someone then have the guts to write your name…….not doing so is ….. well …….. just cowardly.

I see from the comments yesterday there are still some questions about the prohibited items and next week I promise once and for all I will post the exact list which is being discussed and confirmed in a meeting in Miami on Monday. I will be back with more on this then.

Let’s take a break and while I get a cup of tea I will leave you to look at these amazing photos of the Carnival Elation and her last time in Catalina.

Radu………… are a genius mate, thanks for sharing those gorgeous photos with us.

And now it is time for another installment from our 348th best comedian Mr. Al Er…….. oh hold on……….I just remembered that we hired a one legged mime act called Jake the Peg ……. so it is time for another installment from our 349th best comedian Mr. Al Ernst and his Aliver’s travels.

‘Be so good that they cannot ignore you…’ As I was on the plane back from LA, I began to listen to Steve Martin’s book Born Standing Up. After listening to this, I would say to anyone who has an interest in entertainment to get this book.

Although we each have a unique story, it really gives the reader great insight as to how people that are truly dedicated to a craft. It inspired me to find more interviews of Steve Martin as a real person, not the ‘character’ you see on stage.

That quote…’Be so good that they cannot ignore you…’ Now comes to my mind all the time. Simple, obvious, and not earth shattering…just the truth!

I find in this world of blogs, Twitter, YouTube, and text, that we spend more time in trying to get attention, rather than doing our passions. As much as I enjoy being a communicator of funny…It needs to ‘be’ funny. It extends to all that a person does in their life. The expectation of instant feedback sometimes is in total conflict with learning in the present.

One of the challenges of a comedian is new material. It is also one of the biggest expectations of audience members. There is a reason the ‘bigger’ stars have writers to help them with the product on stage. To be really good at the comedy craft, the development of new material separates the comics who will be good…to the ones that will really excel. I know I really wanted to get to that next level.

As I travel from the Pride to Harrisburg, Penn., for a charity show, I decided that I would stay off the phone, iPod, and computer to really take in the sights and sounds of a giant cruise ship, a ground trip to the airport and finally the flight to Harrisburg. That was the best decision I ever made, as I didn’t even have to think…just absorb…Maybe some of that new material WILL begin to appear…

As we signed off the ship at Port Canaveral, my first ‘funny’ was there for the taking… the US Customs Officer who was on the X-ray machine for our luggage said to me…”That’s a lot of electronics for a comedian”…of which I replied…”I did not know about the ‘comedy electronic law’… was that something I missed in the Patriot Act?”

So everyone in the room laughed, but the Officer…Of course, I was on a roll…so I said “I don’t want to be one iPod over the limit” I moved on, quickly, and quietly, as I did not want to be detained for further inspection…

The trip to the airport, the taxi driver was Russian, who spoke in some type of English –Russian or “Russish” the entire trip. Of which I became a bobble head, just moving my head like I agreed with everything. I thought I may have agreed to join the KGB.

At the airport gate with a huge sign that read Delta 720, DETROIT, 12:30, I witnessed at least five people in 13 minutes ask the agent if this was the 12:30 flight to Detroit…who smiled and said yes each time.

Now had I been the agent, by the fourth person, I probably would have said…”NO, this flight is going to Miami, but we put the up the sign that says Detroit, because that is where your luggage is going.”

There is funny everywhere…you just have to get off your cell phone to see it.

‘Be so good that they cannot ignore you’…Might be rewritten… ‘If you pay attention to the now, you may have a great future’

Until next time, your buddy Al…will continue to travel, and if I don’t answer my cell phone, it may be because I violated the “Comic Electronics Act”…or I am just finding another story to tell.

Thanks Al. If you see his name in the Fun Times please make sure you go. He has a natural charm about him and coupled with the fact that he is brilliantly funny you will not want to miss his show. Please don’t use flash photography due to his show because it effects his medication.

So, here as promised is the new Cruise Director schedule. It is pretty much set and apart from the unexpected happening this is who will be your CD for your next cruise. I must say a huge thank you to Chris Prideaux our Director of Entertainment for allowing me to post this. As far as I know we are the only cruise line who is making this public. There are certainly some great cruise directors in the industry. Alistair Greening and Ray Rouse at Cunard, Roberto Ferrari at Costa and someone I am always hearing about, Lisa Ball at Princess. Then there is my old friend Graham Seymour once of Carnival and who is very funny but now unfortunately works on the Something of the Seas. I also hear that on the other Something of the Seas there is a chap called Richard Spacey who is also superb.

But, I think the best collection of Cruise Directors are the ones about to appear on this May – December schedule. They are all dedicated to giving you the best cruise vacation ever and are the fun providers that will truly make a difference. My thanks to them all and I am proud to be part of their team.

Here is the schedule which I will ask one of the 343 Stephanies to place as a permanent link thingy where the old schedule was.

Well, it’s noon and I am still sitting here in my underpants (which scared the hell out of Putu my cabin steward when he walked in a few minutes ago) writing to you. The ship is in Cozumel and I know I should be ashore having fun and eating Mexican food but ………well…….same old story really……..just hate eating alone. I also have to think about packing again. I feel a bit tired today, that’s probably because I spent 1 hour and ten minutes early this morning along with the Hotel Director listening to Mr. Celebrity tell us that in his expert opinion the food, the service, the passengers, the ship, the air, the pillows, the toilet paper, the entertainment etc, etc are all better on Celebrity.

He demanded this meeting and we obliged him and I have to be honest that in the hour and ten minutes we were with him in the Hotel Director’s office he talked for an hour of the time. And he talked in a flat, monotone voice only stopping to look down at the note pad he with the list of what was wrong with the Carnival product and how it compared to Brand X.

What was so extraordinary was that next to each item he had listed a dollar figure of the amount of compensation he felt he deserved which totaled…….shockingly……..roughly the same amount he had paid for his cruise.

My favourite bit was when reminding me how fantastic the Cruise Director was on the Celebrity ship and reminding me that I was crap, he looked at me and said “I am sure you are grateful to me for telling you how you can improve.”

“Yes I am,” I said bowing slightly…….grateful in the same way that a turkey is likely to give you a high five on Christmas Eve.

Anyway, he left with an apology from us that he did not have a good time but his pockets were as empty as when he arrived for the meeting. We had not charged him for the Steakhouse meal that he said was so bad and the small black hair he found on his pillow did not warrant a full refund……..he showed us the hair by the way……………still taped to a bit of paper.

I just do not understand why if Celebrity is the best cruise line ever why he cruised with us ………. oh hold on………….yes I do……’s because of the affordable price and the brilliant value for money. Oh and one tip, Mr. Celebrity………X my arse.

So on Sunday off I fly to Mobile, Alabama. I have a 5-day boring handover staying in who knows what cabin, trying to find somewhere to write my blog. I am though very much looking forward to being back as cruise director on what is now the oldest ship in the fleet. I have so many memories of the ship from the first time that I arrived to see her in Miami as a social host. I remember the Cruise Director Gary Hunter and I driving into the port both breathless and the sheer size of this massive vessel. I remember my first week as cruise director onboard her in 1992 when during the captain’s introductions I forgot his name and stood there like a total idiot until the chief purser shouted me his name…………..Captain Francolla has never forgiven me. Neither has the chief engineer I worked back with all those years ago on the then Fantasy.

It was another time at the Captain’s Party and after shaking hands with the guests I walked over to the corner of the main theatre where all the senior officers were gathered for the introductions on stage. I noticed an older lady standing next to the chief engineer, so trying to be polite I asked “Is your mother enjoying the cruise?”……he looked at me ………and said “This is my wife.”


We have had a somewhat frosty relationship ever since.

So, that’s that then. After looking forward to coming to the Carnival Conquest for so long, suddenly, it’s all over. This is a great ship and I have been so massively impressed with her crew. However, just as impressive are the people that sail on her. They are all fiercely loyal to ships that sail out of Galveston and fiercely loyal to Carnival as they past guest count has shown each and every week.

As I mentioned in a past blog thingy though, unlike other home ports I have sailed out of the vast majority of those repeat guests have sailed time and time again out of Galveston on either Carnival Ecstasy or Carnival Conquest. That’s why I hope that Carnival continues to invest in this market. The guests love the Carnival product and …….I say this respectfully ……. more  than some other markets, they just simply want to have a fun.  This makes for a very special and easygoing atmosphere around the ship. Again……….respectfully……….I have to say that people on this ship talk to each more. In elevators, on lido and around the ship it seems that they never want anyone to meet a stranger.

I would recommend that everyone sail on a Carnival ship out of Galveston, it truly is a unique atmosphere and quite probably the most fun group of people I have entertained in my 22 years onboard.

Thanks then to the captain, officers, staff and crew of the great ship Carnival Conquest and a big thank you to the guests………………y’all have been brilliant.

See you onboard the Carnival Fantasy.

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.