Symptoms May Include

September 28, 2010 -

John Heald

I have now committed to being the cruise director on your Carnival Magic. It makes sense for me to do this as I have to host the first arrival events in Galveston and I have let people down the last two times on the Carnival Freedom and Carnival Splendor because my schedule changed. However, as I have been and always will be with you here on this blog thingy, I have to be honest and tell you I am somewhat apprehensive about serving as CD to this wonderful ship.

Now, don’t worry all you “Oh for God’s sake here goes John boring us to death about missing his family” people out there in blog land because that’s not what I mean…..and it is my intention to have them sail with me. Nope, my worry is because………well…………in my opinion…….we really haven’t done our best in terms of on-board activities during past trans-Atlantic voyages. I am sure if you speak to Todd Wittmer and Goose who were the CD’s on the TA’s of the Carnival Freedom and Carnival Splendor both will tell you that these cruises are very challenging indeed.

In short, we must do better in providing more variety for those six long days at sea. So I am already pushing the beards in the office to give me more lecturers, bridge instructors and dance instructors. One particular area I know we must do better in…… the library. Oh how I would love the library that the Queen Victoria has. Two levels with 6,000 books. We have… well ……. less than 600 books and this is one area that we are bound to get complaints about if we don’t do something this time. Now…….obviously we can’t make the library bigger, it is what it is and therefore I have had to concede…….and I hate to have to admit it…………..but it may be time to call upon technology.

As you know, I am not a huge fan of technology and the only Eye Pad I need is one to sooth my tired computer eyes. I also don’t like these electronic book thingies. I guess I enjoy the pleasure of turning actual pages.

Then as I walked down promenade yesterday I saw many of our guests spending a rather chilly first sea day sitting happily…..reading their Kindles and their Eye Pads. And not just people with beards or with lumps of iron stapled through their bottom lip either…..nope every age and demographic seemed to have shunned the paperback and turned to the electronic version……..and that’s when I thought……mmmm………..we should rent these on the trans-Atlantic.

I know that I am way behind the times and I know me and technology are about as compatible as Judge Judy and a thong but it’s time for me to welcome technology with a big warm hug and say “come on in.”

I miss the old days of vinyl and nothing sounds better than my Made In Japan album by Deep Purple played on my record player at home…..yes………I still have a record player. But obviously I can’t listen to it on the ship or in the car or ….well……..anywhere really especially if Heidi is in the house because she hates that kind of music and as Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar wails on Smoke on the Water he is usually told to “turn that crap off” by Heidi.

Of course, these days music is squashed into the size of a flea’s testicle. These days everyone listens to music on their Eyepods and listen to Smoke on the Water on one of those and it sounds like Mr. Blackmore and his mates are playing their instruments at the bottom of a swimming pool.

But the advantages of a Kindle thingy really become apparent I guess when you use one. Yes, there’s no “new book smell,” no folding the pages over, and if you drop it in the bath you’ve buggered, but I understand that these books can store 100 books or more so for a trans-Atlantic voyage of 16 days …….well it makes sense for us to rent them out don’t you think?

And there is another advantage. Because there is no book cover you can download books that you would normally be too embarrassed to read in public while sitting on the deck. Yep, you can read rumpy pumpy novels about Latvian spies who seduce their male counterparts and crush them to death with their thighs and even better…… can download books you normally would never have the courage to buy from shops like How To Be A Better Lover and a Frommers Travel Guide to Paris.

So I will be asking for us to have as many of these things to rent as possible and even though I may not like it…….if it stops Mrs. Moanalot from Fort Lauderdale telling me the only thing left in the library to read is the “exit” sign………..then that’s good enough for me.

Time for today’s Q and A ………here we go

Monica B. Asked:
Hi John, please reply!

First I would like to thank you and the 343 Stephanies as the mystery of the Decadence of Chocolate dessert was solved! (I wrote to you asking about it a while back and within days I had my recipe! THANKS!!!)

But what I’ve really come for today is something Uncle Google hasn’t been able to help me with…let’s see if Uncle John CAN!

I have noticed a random coincidence… The Jackson 5 have three albums which came out in 1978, 1980 and 1984 named “Destiny”, “Triumph” and “Victory” … CCL has the same ship names in that same sequence! …Is this just a coincidental coincidence or are the beards HUGE Michael Jackson fans?? 😉

Hope you can solve this one! Thanks in advance and hope you’re enjoying the West Coast!

John Says:
Hello Monica B

I am glad we were able to help solve your chocolate mystery and I see you have another one for me today. I checked with some of the old time beards at Carnival, all of whom have been involved in new ship production and they all were as amazed as I was about your posting. Not only were the ships not named because of these albums but we were all thinking that it was strange that none of us had realized that the Jackson 5 had albums of the same name. Now, the only person I haven’t asked is our now retired President and CEO Bob Dickinson who would have had the final say in the names of these ships. I have sent him a message asking if it was indeed a coincidence. It certainly is a great question and one worthy of investigation. If I hear anything that confirms your suspicions I will let you know. Thanks for the kind words and again thanks for the great question.

Best wishes

Harriet Asked:
John(Please reply)

I am thinking of going with you on Magic in July and my husband wanted to ask before if there will be American food on the ship. He is a very fussy eater and he seems to think it will be lots of rich food he won’t like. I really want to go because I will get to sail with you and see the Barcelona where my family originally come from. Thank you and please reply

Harriet and Norm

John Says:
Hello Harriet

Please tell Norm not to worry because although the ship is in Europe we will still serve the food that we know our guests like. There will be all the lunch time favourites including burgers and burritos and a pasta bar and a deli and the grand buffet while at dinner the normal Carnival menus will still be served, enabling your husband to enjoy all of our popular culinary choices. I hope you are able to persuade him to come and thank you for thinking about joining us on what will be a wonderful European adventure on a beautiful and exciting new ship.

I hope to see you both soon

Best wishes

Lynn B Asked:
John needs to see and reply to this!!!!!!!

I do not normally read your blog but I am told that you are Carnival’s brand ambassador and that’s why I want you to know my problem. Me and 25 other cruise critic members sailed on the Miracle and I had sent an invitation to the ship’s captain cruise director and Officers to come. I also asked for fun ship Freddy to come as well because we had children in the party. But guess how many showed up. 1 just the cruise director and he only stayed 5 minutes. What a spit in the face this was to us especially as when I cruised with a group on Norwegian dawn the captain and many officers came as well. I was very embarrassed as I told the members that we were going to get special visitors. What poor service for us Cruise Critic cruisers?


John Says:
Hello Lynn B

Obviously I am disappointed that you are upset and it’s hard for me to comment as I wasn’t onboard. However, I am pretty certain that the reason that the captain and others were unable to attend would have been that they were busy elsewhere. Sea days are very challenging for us all and all I can do is apologize that they were not able to attend and hope that you have lots of happy memories of your time on the Carnival Miracle cruise.

Best wishes

Carrie Asked:
John, (please reply)

My husband and I are SERIOUSLY considering the TA of the Carnival Magic next October. You see, we will have just sent our youngest off to college. This may be the last time we will have enough money to do such an extravagant trip for awhile. This will be my husband’s Platinum cruise and number 12 for me. We have never sailed any other cruise line. I just have one question. If we book a guaranteed inside cabin, how are they assigned? We will hope for Inside Spa, as we loved the spa on Carnival Dream with you last March (Flat Stanley and I had our picture taken with you on formal night). Will Heidi and Kye join you for this cruise? I would love to meet them both. This cruise sounds like a perfect early 25th anniversary present to ourselves, and we can celebrate the 25th anniversary of our first date in 1986!!

Thank you, Carrie

John Says:
Hello Carrie

That’s two posters in a row who are considering a cruise on their Carnival Magic. I am not sure how the cabins are assigned but may I suggest you speak to a travel agent who can really help you with this. I realize just how expensive a college education is and by the time Kye goes to college it will be the same price as a building a new ship. So have a chat with a travel agent and ask for an inside spa cabin which are beautifully appointed by the way. I will be waiting for you on board and hopefully the girls will be to and we can all have a photo once again with Flat Stanley. Please let me know if I can help further.

Best wishes

Ballardite Asked:
John (please read)

I am sure that as Kye gets older, she will understand that although you’re going off to the best job in the world, you still love her more than the job itself. She is getting old enough to be aware that Daddy will be out for more than a couple of hours. ‘Tis better to have a father who loves what he does for a living (and happens to be gone for a few months) than to have one who comes home everyday dejected from a job he does not love. Granted, when she is a cranky, rebellious teen, she might use it as a guilt trip or to leverage ridiculous amounts of duty-free makeup and souvenirs from you…. 😉

Of course, I am biased since I once (still do) dreamed of being a CD (but wouldn’t be able to hear a word of the Bedtime Story). Perhaps ACD would be a more ‘perfect’ job (lol)

ps- Do you (or your readers) know if anyone has taken on the challenge of putting captions on one of the Bedroom Story videos that’s been posted?

John Says:
Hello Ballardite

Thanks for those kind words. As I am writing now Kye is playing with a Jenga puzzle moving blocks from one pile to another. As she does I realize what a lucky sod I really am. Your question is excellent and the answer is at the moment an unfortunate no. But it is something we should do and can do. I spoke to someone in our audio visual department and he told me that the technology is out there and is simple to use. So you have set the ball rolling and I am now going to keep pushing hard to get this accomplished so that if a hearing impaired guests asks for a highlight DVD with subtitles……….we can oblige. Thanks mate for this great idea and I hope that we get to sail together one day so that I can do the bedtime story and present you with a complimentary subtitled copy.

Best wishes

Stephanie (345?) Asked:
John, Please Reply

Hi John,

Please don’t stop talking about your feelings or your family. That is what makes this blog so interesting, and your fans feel so much closer to you because of it. Again, there is controversy at Cruise Critic and I wanted to get your opinion. They are saying not to give anything to your cabin steward or waiters but money. I agree to give them tips and extra tips, we always do, but IF one wanted to give something else to them to let them see how much you appreciate them, what do you suggest? Some suggestions on CC, which some people say no to (just money) are………chocolate, Doritos, phone cards, wine, snacks, pen lights.

What do you suggest they might actually like?

Stephanie (345?)

P.S. What does “Randy” mean in the UK?

John Says:
Hello Stephanie

Thanks for the kind words ant the start of your posting and I appreciate the support so very much. Well, money is obviously the first choice of any service staff member working for tips. It would be silly of me to say otherwise. But if you have left the pre-paid gratuities on your Sail & Sign card and then wanted to give a little gift as an extra then some of the things you mentioned …………minus the Doritos as they get those for 50 cents a bag in the crew lounge……are perfect, especially the phone card idea.

Now, one other thing I would consider is that the staff loves to have something to remember you buy and that is best done by bringing something in advance representing where you are from. The best idea is a baseball cap. They all love these, men and women crew all wear them and if it has the place or a sports team from where you are from then that’s a great way for them to think of you as they wear it. I hope this helps and if you have a follow up please let me know.

Best wishes

Ernie/cruizer4662 Asked:
John: Please reply

After seeing all of the promos on the Carnival Magic, DW & I have booked the TA for next October. As we sailed with you on BC3 we are looking forward to enjoy your hospitality once again. Of course we hope that Heidi and Kye will be on the cruise also. As we celebrated our 50th and will our 51st on the Carnival Dream, we are calling the cruise in 2011 our 52nd Anniversary present.

Please keep the Capers…..Bollocks…..Fun Times printed, that way we will be able to continue to highlight the opportunities that are offered.

Your Friend,

John Says:

That is such wonderful news and I will be there to make sure this is the best cruise and the best anniversary you have both ever had. The Fun Times will be printed and ready and I have already started thinking about what I can do to make this cruise more enjoyable as you can see from the start of today’s blog. It will be an honour (spelt correctly) to see you both next year. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Best wishes

Tom Huddlestone Asked:

I need a reservation for a table for 2 for the cruise on Oct 2 on Dream.  Cabin 6342. Very worried because lots of reports on Cruise Critic that the ship stinks and that service sucks. What can you say about this?


John Says:
Hello Tom

Well, with respect to those who posted a review that says service was not good on your Carnival Dream I send my apologies and hope they had a great time though. However, I have read lots of reviews on the blog that say exactly the opposite so please don’t worry. Go on there with an open mind and have fun and enjoy this hard earned vacation. I will ask the maitre d to do his best to get you a table for two.

Have a brilliant cruise

Best wishes

Nancy Asked:

Count me in a one of those “sad brainwashed people” (from the comment from Anchorman) who read your blog EVERY DAY!!! And I am proud I do!!! I hope you never change who you are or how you write your blog for anyone.

It just makes me wonder why people like Anchorman and all the others who feel such a strong urge to complain about your blog make such a great effort to come on here and comment if the blog bothers them so much.

Well, John, you keep blogging like you do and being who you are, and those of us who enjoy your blog will just keep coming back again and again.

PS – wish you were going to be CD on the Carnival Freedom in mid-January 2011.

John Says:
Hello Nancy

I always sigh heavily when I read comments like the one written by Anchorman. I can understand him not liking me or my blog but I can’t understand if he hates me and it so much why he keeps reading it. Oh well, each to their own. Thanks so much for your kind words and I know that thanks to the many many blog readers like you that Anchorman is a minority. I to wish I could be with you in January so please let me know a month before you sailing date by writing me your details so I can send you a little gift.

Best wishes

retirementman Asked:

Hello John. I hope you are doing well. I have one question one statement.

1. The statement is I hope that you can stay as a CD for many years or if Carnival can have you do something on the ship, like walk around and just talk with the many guests that would enjoy your humour or your love of cruising. Do some comedy or acting on stage. Just about anything that would allow the guests just enjoy you as a wonderful person and maybe Kye would see what a fantastic character you are.

2. This year Carnival changed the excursion arrangement of trying to set one up. It was simple before but this time it’s hard to find. Normally I would just click on the place like Cozumel and choose which excursion I wanted. Now I can’t do that. I find this new method confusing and hard to find. Why did they change it?

I was once one of those cruise rookies and yes I was shocked and amazed of what I saw as I entered the Carnival Legend which was my first cruise ship. But to tell you the truth I always feel the same way and even more excited each time entering a Carnival ship as I begin my cruise. It’s just something about seeing that beautiful ship before you enter her and then I get more excited as I enter the atrium. As I go on my fifth cruise ship in January, I know I will be excited again but I won’t be a cruise rookie but an excited guest. You John is one of the reasons why I am so excited every time I go on a cruise. Thanks for that excitement my friend.

John Says:
Hello Paul F. Pietrangelo

As always it’s great to hear from you. Thanks for saying those humbling words and I think back to our time together with great fondness. I have to say I agree with you, the navigation of the shore excursions is not as easy as it was once and I will make sure the beards and tofu munchers know. It was certainly simpler before and simple is good isn’t it? Let’s see what they can do to make it more so. I truly hope that it’s not too long before we see each other again so we can create some more fun for all memories. I am sticking around for as long as I can so hopefully we will sail together soon. Best wishes to you and the family.


Bobby Jean Regnault Asked:
John, please reply ASAP

I posted this before but I am not sure you got it because of the message on the post:
Hi John – Please reply

I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your bloggy thing. I can’t believe how rude some people can be and then turn around and ask for favors. You are always gracious. I give you lots of credit for that.

Since Carnival doesn’t have records before 1992 I had to do a lot of searching but I did find an old scrapbook that held pictures/tickets/etc. from a cruise on the Festivale in 1989. This has put me in Platinum for my next cruise on the Miracle Oct. 18. I am excited to have reached this level.

I will be cruising with friends & family. While on the cruise, my sister (Gerri McLaughlin cabin 5212) will be celebrating her 70th birthday on 10/20. I would appreciate it if you could provide her some sort of birthday “surprise”. She will probably kill me for asking for this, but she deserves it. She has been on over 50 cruises and always does the work to arrange our family/friends cruises.

I thank you in advance for anything you can do.

Bobby Jean Regnault
Cabin 5201

John Says:
Hello Bobby Jean Regnault

Thanks for the kind words Bobby and thanks for the loyalty you have shown to Carnival over the years which has resulted in your Platinum benefits which I hope you enjoy on your next cruise on the Carnival Miracle. I will be honoured to send your friend a birthday wish and surprise.

Have a fantastic cruise.

Best wishes to all

That’s all for today and I will be back tomorrow with more. Now time for a break. Oh and one more thing before our break about the bastard we threw off the ship on Sunday in Long Beach for thumping a crew member. I should have explained that his girlfriend volunteered to leave with him, she had done nothing wrong and it was her choice to leave

I haven’t mentioned my mate Radu lately. For those who do not know this brilliant young man I should tell you that he is the fleet’s senior photographer and one of the most talented people I have ever met. He is just about to join the Carnival Fantasy and before he did he took these amazing photos in Portland, Maine.

Once again I think you will agree that these are absolutely stunning. Thanks Radu ….. please …… send more.

Well, as you know we had a medical debark on Sunday evening and I can tell you now that it was in fact a crew member. Obviously yesterday we were still informing his family and I felt it best to not disclose this then. I can tell you that he is in a serious condition and that all of his shipmates are very worried about him and are keeping him in our thoughts and prayers. He is a very popular crew member and we all hope he makes a full recovery.

You know as I watched him being winched up to the helicopter late on Sunday night I realized how lonely working at sea is. Here is this chap, being flown to a hospital in San Diego and whose family are many thousands of miles away. Carnival is flying his wife to be by his side and a Care Team member will be there for support but……right then and right now as he waits for his wife’s arrival……….he must feel very alone………..and very scared.

What made this whole situation more dreadful was finding this in my e mail in box this morning.

Guest: Mrs———Ref: 820522188A
Cabin: ——-Added-Changed: 09/27/10 – 09/27/10


Mrs. _______ came to the GSD to say that last night she had been woken by an announcement about a helicopter coming to the ship. Mrs. ___ stated that she had come on the ship to relax and not to be woken up in the middle of the night. GSA apologized and explained that we needed to let guests know what was happening. Mrs.____ then asked to speak to GSM as she feels she should be compensated for one night of the cruise as she says she could not sleep again. Meeting arranged with GSM and CD

I sympathized with her……right up to the bit where she asked for money. I just want to clarify that I did not make the announcement inside the guest cabins but on the open decks, lounges and corridors only. Obviously she will have heard it outside her cabin and I am truly sorry for waking her up. But suggesting she deserves money………well that’s just ridiculous…….well in my opinion it is anyway. I had to let the guests know why a huge helicopter was hovering over the ship ……… I mean I did…………didn’t I?  It was 11:15pm………did I do the right thing?

Anyway, I have a meeting with the guest later today and I will apologize and hopefully she will understand. However, the fact that she is asking for one day’s full refund……..makes me think that there is bugger all chance of her understanding at all.

Well, it’s nearly time for me to run………..well not really run……….but walk rather slowly. You see my back is still hurting since my wonderful friend from the Bahamas decided to use me as a sofa and then ride me like a bucking bronco. If you have no idea what I am talking about here one last and forever final time is what I am talking about.

I know I joked about it but ever since then my lower back has been in some pain, especially when I am sitting down. I tried explaining to Heidi that I was fine but she wasn’t putting up with my facial gestures of pain any longer so she made me go to the doctor, who suggested I take a muscle relaxer. OK, that’s fine I thought but as Dr. Longfinger gave me the packet he told me that there were many different instructions he needed to give me about taking them. Now I have been diabetic for four years now and take three pills a day so what the heck was the Doc talking about. You swallow them with a glass of water……unless you are French, in which case you push them up your bottom. The French ingest everything up their bottoms. I’m surprised they don’t eat this way as well.

Anyway, Doctor Longfinger told me that there may be side effects. I asked him what and he said …….”nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, vertigo, a rash and unexpected diarrhea.” Now, call me crazy if you like, but on balance I think I’d rather have a bad back than host the Welcome Aboard Show while interviewing guests on stage with diarrhea and vomiting and a face covered in spots.

This then is the world of today’s medicine where even ship’s doctors have to make sure they tell you all the possible side effects just in case I decide to sue Carnival should my bottom produce an oily discharge while talking to guests at the coffee shop. Nyquil can it says cause you to have nightmares and run naked down the promenade deck imagining you are being chased by Fun Ship Freddy holding a meat cleaver.

But the best of course is ……Viagra. The latest commercial says that taking a pill will cause your thingy to ……well… know…….enabling you to have rumpy pumpy ……..but who the heck is going to want to do that? Because, according to the commercial, it will need to be someone who’s turned on by a man who might be bleeding from his eyes and his nose and as other potential side effects claim……….induce nausea and sudden death.

Who needs that? You have a nice dinner at the Steakhouse, a walk on deck and kiss and a cuddle and while the lady slips into something more comfortable the man takes his Viagra and prepares for a wonderful night of in cabin of rumpy-pumpy. A few minutes later the lady is lying on the Carnival comfort bed covered in vomit………with a dead man on top of her………..I haven’t taken the muscle relaxers…..think a good old aspirin might be the best thing for me.

And finally tonight I have to tell you that I was just seconds away from telling a guest to bugger off and that……would have been a huge mistake. I had just finished introducing the second show of The Beat and went to the guest services desk to collect my Morning Show dedication mail. As I stood waiting for the purser to…….bugger……as I stood waiting for the guest services supervisor to collect the letters I saw two teens walking towards me. Both were dressed like Snoop the Dogg — baggy trousers and huge chains with more gold than the Mr. sodding T.

Their pants were so low on their hips I could see their man gardens from the front a great place to swipe my Sail & Sign card at the back.

Anyway, as they walked passed me one looked at me and said “you’re fat.” I was just about to tell him that he looked like a total wanker in those pants and that his face looked like it had come off second best in a fight with a staple gun when I remembered that he didn’t mean I was fat ………he meant I was “phat.” So I stopped myself from telling him to go and have rumpy pumpy with himself and said thank you mate. He then did something quite unexpected……..he hugged me…..and told me I was a “bad arse” …………and walked into the showroom leaving me to stare at him and the crack of his arse.

This job of mine………it never ceases to amaze.

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.