October 4, 2010 -

John Heald

Good Morning everyone. It’s 7:10am on this Monday mooring at sea and I just made the huge mistake of checking my own personal e-mail account. I haven’t done this for many weeks. I have my Carnival John Heald account, my Splendor cruise director account and now my Facebook thingy account as well so my Yahoo has been left unwanted and untouched like Judge Judy in a lineup of naked Latvians.

I don’t know what made me finally check it this morning but I wish I hadn’t because I have 383 unread e-mails. And that’s bollocks because fewer than 10 percent of them have been in any way invited. In fact, not that it will make any difference. I should like to announce to all senders of unsolicited e-mails the following information.  I’m not going to send any money to your bank account in Lagos, I don’t care about your new brand of soap, I don’t want to sponsor your trip across the Sahara on unicycle and, and unless you come up with considerably more compelling clinical evidence than you have to far or you hear directly from Heidi……… I’m going to stick with the dimensions of my thingy as they currently are.

E-mails are one thing but then yesterday I met a guest who in fact used to work for Carnival many years ago as a band leader. We last worked together in 1996 on the Carnival Imagination. “You haven’t changed a bit,” he said. What a lying sod. Yep…..I haven’t changed a bit, just 14 years older and a 100 pounds heavier, totally gray hair and huge bags under my eyes……..he probably said I hadn’t so I would send him a fruit basket.

“Cheers, mate,” I replied……..secretly wanting to beat over the head with his old trumpet for looking so sickeningly fit. Anyway, I was talking to my ex-colleague about what he is doing these days and it turns out as well as still playing his trumpet in Vegas he also installs CCTV cameras in casinos, offices and even private homes. What a brilliant job. I wish he would come and install more CCTV here on the ships. Now we have some in the public areas and I can’t tell you where they are, of course.

You should come to the UK if you want to see real CCTV. It’s everywhere, hundreds of cameras watching you 24 hours a day. In fact near where we live there is a bit of an argument going on because the police are using CCTV cameras to catch people who don’t clear up their dogs’ piles of Brad Pitt…….that’s cockney rhyming slang by the way. I thought this was great news because we take Heidi to play in that park and I don’t want to have to be scraping bits of some spaniel’s lunch of my daughter’s shoes. But obviously the tofu eaters all gathered in their sarongs and complained that it was wrong and that Big Brother had no place watching the blessed animals of God’s Green Earth crapping near the swings. How could anyone object to imposing a fine on dog lovers who leave steaming dog turds for others to step in wearing open toed shoes?

CCTV is a great thing if it helps catches muggers and car thieves and I would love to see more here. Seriously, I would love to catch the little bastards who carved the words f**k and Crips into an elevator door a few weeks ago or the sods who think it’s hilarious to throw ice cream from the top of the atrium onto the band below. I know some would say they feel permanently invaded if we have cameras everywhere. But if it brings an end to these and other acts of stupidity that cause other cruisers and the crew misery……whose going to say no?

Time for today’s Q and A………..off we go.

Amy Asked:
Dear John, (Please reply)

We just returned from our 8/26 sailing on the Fascination and I feel like I’ve finally caught my breath enough to tell you all about our amazing trip.

First of all, I had written to you before our trip requesting a table for 4 by the window for the late seating and you came through brilliantly! Our table was perfect, and we swear that the Maitre D, Dessi knew that we had contacted you. She checked on us every night (sometimes several times) and we loved her fun spirit and her antics. She even had us dancing with her in the middle of the dining room before our cruise was over! Our waiters Valeri and Efrain were also wonderful and made the dining experience perfect!

We were lucky enough to be able to take the Behind the Fun tour and our guide Ross was great. I would definitely recommend the tour to anyone cruising with Carnival. Touring the bow and the bridge of the ship was incredible, and the view from the bridge was worth the tour price.

This was our third Carnival cruise, and once again Carnival didn’t disappoint. Everything was perfect! We had a great time and we’re ready to book our next trip. Hopefully next time you can be our cruise director!!

Have a great day!

John Says:
Hello Amy

One of the best things I read in your super review was the name Desi. She is our only lady maitre d and from what I hear she is an absolute star, something your review confirmed. I am glad she looked after you and the table request you made happened and that you had a fantastic time. I will make sure that Desi and everyone else you mentioned get to see your words of praise. I hope to see you one day soon and hope you continue to enjoy the blog thing.

Best wishes

H and H Asked:
Hi John, Would like a reply pretty please John?

Is there any way you can give me a ball park figure on how much a ship nurse will earn. I am seriously considering working for Carnival as I am a fully qualified ER nurse but need to see how much the salary is. I have asked around but nobody can tell me. Please can you help?


John Says:
Hello H and H

Well I am sorry to tell you that despite the pretty please I cannot tell you their salary. Not only can’t I post it here on the blog (or any salary for that matter) I actually have no idea how much our hard-working nurses earn. I can tell you that they are definitely some of the unsung heroes of everyday ship life and I hope maybe one day I will have the honour (spelt correctly) of working alongside you. Maybe you can have a look at my hemorrhoids?

If that hasn’t put you off please have a look at www.carnival.com and our jobs section and this should help you if you decide to proceed.

Best wishes

Erik Valentine Asked:
John (please reply as time allows),

First off, once again thanks for all you do and taking the time to have this Blog regularly. It really is a valuable resource for those of us who are “learning the ropes” of the Cruise Vacation.

I was looking through the list of soft drinks on Carnival Ships and was not able to see any type of Root Beer on the list. I know that this is more of an American drink, but does Carnival have any plans of adding it in the future?

I know that I can bring a 12 pack in my carry-on with me (as well as my bottle of wine!), but was just curious as to if this request has been submitted before and if there were any plans to add it as a drink option?

Erik V.

John Says:
Hello Erik Valentine

And you would be correct sir because indeed we do not offer any kind of root beer on the ships. I am not sure if you know that I love diet root beer……I really do and do you also know that I have never thought to talk about getting this with the beards? I guess I thought I was alone in my acquired taste for a good root beer. Normally it is Dr. Pepper that people ask for but I wonder if I were to push for root beer if it would be just be me and you drinking it. Any other bloggers like RB? Let me know and thanks Eric for the idea…….having it onboard would certainly make me happy and judging by what I read on my Facebook page it would make many others happy as well. Let me see what I can do.

Best wishes

Ken Stevenson Asked:
John (Please reply),

I hope some of the Cruise Critic critics are reading the blog they love to hate because we want to say what a great time we had. Just returned from our 16th cruise and had a few after thoughts. Such as how is it that every cruise somehow is even more enjoyable than the last? We managed just fine even without a power strip (replace/recharge in advance, if necessary recharge while at meals, shows or sleeping, set wake-up calls on the cabin phone), there was, of course, ice tea and hamburger – we opted for a cheeseburger. One problem, as usual, is the food. So cotton pickin’ good and so many choices! How do you decide what to eat and what to skip? It’s really agonizing. Had a chance to chat with uber Maitre ‘d Ken Byrne a couple of times before he moves to the Magic next year. You and Ken Byrne together? This could bring a whole new meaning to the term “Fun Ship”. Having made this cruise a few times before, Guest Services had us wondering if they had sipped their own version of St. Elmo’s fire too liberally when they tried to convince us that we would be leaving the ship on a different deck and on the opposite side than ever before. Turns out there was some painting scheduled and the ship did, in fact, dock on the opposite side this time and disembark passenger’s one deck up from the usual. Maybe they could have explained it a little better. We kept trying to visualize how 40 or so VIP and Platinum guests with luggage and some with canes were going to manage from the “wrong” deck and “wrong” side. Once all became clear it worked beautifully just as they had planned. And about asking for help on the blog – the fact that Ken Byrne had us assigned to exactly the table that fits our needs made his acknowledgement of our 60th anniversary dinner all the sweeter which in turn made this special cruise a little bit more memorable. Thanks Ken and thanks John. As Brand Ambassador do you think we’ll sail Carnival again? Numbers 17 and 18 are already booked for January and May of 2011. One point you just might be able to bring up next time you and those responsible are chatting. We all believe the list of perks available to Platinum guests shows Carnival’s appreciation for loyalty with one possible adjustment. The “logo item”. After accumulating 8 or 10 picture frames most of them will probably never be used or seen again. Not much of a perk or display of the logo. Maybe the beards could try a decent sport shirt, platinum color, suitably embroidered. Folks would be proud to wear it and others would want to earn it as quickly as possible. Make mine XXL long.

Ken and Lorrene
Platinum Cruisers

John Says:
Hello Ken Stevenson

What an absolutely fabulous review and it’s great for me to see Ken Byrne’s name plastered all over it. He is as you so rightly called him “an uber maitre d” and it will be a true honour to work with him again on your Carnival Magic. As brand ambassador I know that there are always going to be those who wish to knock the company I work for and often the comments they make are justified while other times they are written out of pure spite. I also know that as long as there are people like you, loyal and fun loving Carnival guests who appreciate the price we charge and the fun we provide ……….then my job is a very easy one indeed.

I love the idea of a shirt instead of the photo frame and I am working with the beards on this as we speak. I hope to have news soon. Until then, thanks once again for writing and for being …… well……..you.

Best wishes to you both

Mike Asked:
John– Please Reply

We will be joining you on the first cruise of our Carnival Magic on May 1, 2011. We can’t hardly wait, however, in my research of things to do in Venice, I have discovered that May 1st is the equivalent of America’s Holiday, Labor Day. This being a Sunday as well, I was wondering what effect this may have on the city itself, the vaporetto drivers, the cruise port terminal employees and restaurants on that day? Some websites have said that many shops and restaurants close! What can you tell us?


John Says:
Hello Mike

May 1 is indeed a holiday or bank holiday as they call it in Europe but please don’t worry as all the major sites are open and the vaparettos will run a pretty normal schedule. Now what I will tell you is that on a Sunday in Venice while the restaurants will all be open most of the shops will not.

Hope this helps some and may I recommend you start in…..where else but Piazza San Marco? Admire the pigeons, the tourists and the astronomical cappuccino prices, then head to the water’s edge. You must then go and have a drink at Harry’s Bar one of the most famous bars in the world, birthplace of the Bellini. You wouldn’t expect it to look like a rather downbeat railway waiting room, but it does. No matter, the history of the place and the drinks, ridiculously expensive as they maybe, are worth the trip to Venice on their own. If you can still feel your legs, step outside, buy a vaporetto ticket from the nice ticket-booth lady and jump on the first No 1 you can focus on.

I hope this helps and of course I will be talking more about Venice in a few weeks or so…..if not before.

Best wishes

Cakemaster 99 Asked:

My first ever cruise was on the Celebration in 1992. I remember the Captain really well because during the formal night he took a photo with me. I was only 14 at the time. I have not cruised since but on October 10th my wife and I and our 3 kids will be joining you on the Splendor. I am going to bring this photo with me because I would like you to tell me if the Captain and the Cruise Director who I think was called Randy are still with the cruise line. The Captain by the way has a white beard and is not tall, if you know what I mean. We will be looking forward to seeing you on stage as we read your blog everyday and love your British sense of humour (spelt correctly as you would say.

Thanks a lot

John Says:
Hello Cakemaster 99

It will be great to see you and after so many years away from the Carnival ships you will certainly notice a huge difference from the early nineties. I think the CD you are referring to in your photo is Rand Woodbury. He spent many years as the CD of the Celebration and is still working for us today as a magician. Do you remember his show on the Celebration, he may have had a cougar in it? Does that ring a bell……oh by the way that’s the animal….not the lady who likes young men? As for the captain, well it’s hard to say but based on your description it sounds like you may be referring to the much loved Captain Sartori. He retired some years ago and out of earshot…..we all called him Papa Smurf. Anyway, please bring the photo and I look forward to meeting you and your family in a few days time.

Best wishes to you all

Darlene Asked:
****Please respond****

Hi, John, we are home from our wonderful vacation on the Carnival Splendor (sail date 8-29-10). As far as doing a review, I’m not very good at that, because I simply don’t remember details real well. I can tell you, however, that everybody in our group had a great time!

My first impression of the ship was “Oh MY! This is very bright!” I got used to the décor, as the week went on. The crew was delightful, with the exception of our dining room server. You received a note, regarding his service, while we were on the ship. I didn’t go to the Maitre D immediately, because it was little things, and I thought “Oh, well.” However, the little things added up. Everyone in our group has cruised with Carnival numerous times, so we knew the level of service to expect. Having said this, it did not ruin our cruise!

Now I would like to mention a couple of people who were exceptional! I spent a great deal of time in the casino, and had several opportunities to visit with Vlad. What a nice young man. Please tell him that Darlene, from Texas, says Hi. The other person who stood out was Ronald, the bar server in the Grand Piano. He took real good care of our group!

I would like to thank you, again, for the nice gifts that you sent to our cabin. You are so thoughtful. Thank you for all the laughs you provided, during the week. The bedtime story was hilarious. You do have a knack for picking the right people to participate on stage.

My one question… According to my records, my next cruise will be platinum, and it will be on the BC4! Who can I contact to verify this information?

When catching up with your blog, I read about the donation of the mattresses, while in Puerta Vallarta. How wonderful!

Also, regarding missing our port at Cabo San Lucas. Our cabin was located directly above where they were trying to secure the platform/tender. The Captain absolutely made the right decision! For those who say that they booked the cruise just to go to Cabo, they should have flown there! Problem solved!

Let me end by saying how happy I am, knowing that your girls have joined you! All is right in your world!


John Says:
Hello Darlene

Welcome back home and thanks so much for taking the time to write this great review. I will certainly make sure that the people you mentioned get to see your testimony of praise and I want to also thank you for your understanding concerning our missing Cabo. I remember that day well and while the vast majority of the ship understood that the captain based his decision on their safety there were a few who truly felt that we had the power to change the weather and one guest said we were missing it on purpose so that we can make more money onboard. This, of course, is ridiculous.

I am sure there are a few who are saying the same things on the Carnival Conquest this past weekend just where they missed two ports. I remember the situation with the waiter well and I am very glad you chose to let me know so I could tell the right people who I can promise you took the appropriate steps. My sincere apologies that he did not meet your expectations. Anyway, enough about that and I really am glad you had so much fun and until you are ready to cruise again. I hope the blog thingy keeps you going.

Best wishes

Jane M Smith Asked:
Hi John (please reply)

First of all I think Tom needs to grow up! Missing family is hard, I know my son is on deployment.

Anyways I have a couple of questions I would like to ask you. We are going on the Freedom on 10/23/10. There was suppose to be 8 eight of us, but now we are down to 4. My mother in law was going to take her 4 boys and spouses on a cruise for her last wish, she was diagnosed with cancer. Anyways she cannot be with us because of not being strong enough to travel and others will not go because she is not going. My mother in law and father in law were both going with us last year on the Glory, but my father in law passed away in June of 2009

Now for my questions, when we booked the first seating was full for the 8 of us so we got my time dining. It there a certain dining room that we go to for this or can we chose each night were we want to go. Also could you please let me know what nights for formal. My husband and I always do them, but not sure of the others since this is their first cruise. This will be our 4th or 5th. The funny thing is that the day we get off of this cruise is exactly 1 year since we got on our last cruise.

I see that Ryan in the CD, loved him on the Glory last year and enjoyed the comedy club. Can’t wait for the cruise to start, but wish everyone would be with us.

Enjoy your time with Kye and Heidi.
Jane M Smith

John Says:
Hello Jane M Smith

I can imagine how much you must miss your son and also how proud you are of him as well. We wish him a speedy and safe return home.

I am so sorry to hear about your family members who cannot join you on your Carnival Freedom cruise. I am sure there may be some mixed emotion during your time onboard but please do your best to allow the crew to serve and entertain you and relax as much as you can. Your Time Dining is held in the forward dining room (sorry can’t remember the name) and on the deck 4 upper level. You will enjoy this option I promise.

Here is the itinerary, entertainment and the elegant nights:

As you can see you have a great line up of shows and while I have not seen Richi and Hal, I can tell you that you will love Frank and Percy, they are two of the very best.

Have a brilliant cruise and please send my best to Ryan who as you said, is a fantastic CD.

Best wishes

Richard G Asked:
Dear John – reply if possible

You have mentioned the opening of the Red Frog Pub.
I think it’s a great idea if it is more than an oh so clever marketing idea. Is Carnival going to include draft beer preferably brewed on board? Is there going to be decent sports channel available? If not then you’ll have a cute name but not much else.  Absolutely love your blog and for those who demand you address all possible ills here – tell them to have their own blogs.

John Says:
Hello Richard G

Yes mate, the Red Frog Pub will offer so very much including our own branded beer and souvenir pint glasses. Specialty Caribbean finger food, plasma screens to watch the Miami Heat win the NBA championship and so very much more. As the CD of your Carnival Magic I intend to make this a hub to rival the Ocean Plaza. Will I be seeing you there?

Thanks for the kind words of support, they mean a lot.

Best wishes

Stephanie (345?) Asked:
John, Please Reply

Hi John,
I know you are enjoying your girls visiting you this week. I am very happy for you. Hope the weather is accommodating.

I have to say something……I don’t understand why people come on to your blog and read it and then complain about it. PLEASE, don’t come to John’s blog thingy and write bad comments about him. He shares himself with us, and we love him for that. John does not have to do this, it is done on his own precious time. (And in his underpants) Think what you may, and then move on. We don’t need the negative comments here.

Now, as you ask that requests are one month in advance, I have a dining request, please. We are sailing Carnival Dream on Oct. 16th, and we have a fitting problem, literally!!
My husband is “extra medium”, so we would like to request a table for two in the dining room, not a booth. We are confirmed at early seating. Celebrating our 34th anniversary, so really want to just have the two of us at our table if possible.

Thank you John,
Stephanie (345?)

John Says:
Hello Stephanie # 345

Welcome to the Stephanie club and thanks for the kind words for Heidi and Kye who are having a wonderful time. Please also accept my thanks for the kind words of support. It seems that recently I have been the flavor of the month for those who enjoy being spiteful but I have learnt for the most part not to let them get to me……..and move on. I will be honoured (spelt correctly) to try and help you with your seating request. I know how uncomfortable the booths can be for extra mediums so please don’t worry as I have contacted the maitre d on your Carnival Dream accordingly. Have a brilliant cruise

Best wishes to you both

That’s all for today and for any new comers may I bid you welcome and remind you to please mark your posting “John Please Reply” in the heading if you have a question or need my help. Cheers.

It’s a week today that Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth will name the ship that carries her name. I thought you might like to see what she looks like inside and read about the official handover ceremony. Here is the link thingy:


Let’s see who is sailing with us this cruise

GUESTS                                             3,377

NON US                                              503





Under 2 Years 23
2-5 Years (Camp Carnival) 84
6-8 Years (Camp Carnival) 89
9-11 Years (Camp Carnival) 116
12-14 Years (Circle “C”) 84
15-17 Years (Club 02) 86
18-20 Years 47

A few moments ago I was writing an answer to Mike’s question about Venice and this has gotten me excited again to go back there. Over the next few months I will be talking more about the European ports your Carnival Magic will be calling at but just to whet your whistle and mine, let’s remind ourselves just how beautiful Venice is. And we do this through the camera lens of our amazing senior photographer Radu Ursu……….have a look at these.

Last week was excellent with more great weather and mostly very pleasant and fun guests. Just before I move onto this week let me just share with you one more comment from a guest from last cruise.

Guest: Mr. ______Ref: 842022186A
Cabin: ———– Added-Changed: 09/30/10 – 09/30/10


Mrs_says that the washing machine on deck 7 fwd destroyed her blouse and pants because when they came out they were ripped. Guest is demanding total $120 compensation.

Note: Inspection carried out by hotel engineer and no loose parts or damage inside machine found. No other similar comments from guests.

Now I am not suggesting that this guest may be telling porky pies (cockney rhyming slang) but it is strange that after the inspection the machine seemed to be in perfect order and that no other guests reported their clothes coming out looking like a hungry tiger had been having a go at them.

Then again, I know bugger all about washing machines. Buying a cell phone is easier than buying a washing machine because some of them are really ugly which makes choosing which one you buy easier Washing machines all look the same. Some eat bigger loads or have a more ummm…….options……what exactly I don’t know because of course I am a man.  But I bet it’s all bollocks.  I bet there’s only one type of washing machine in the world, and they’re all shipped from the same warehouse in slightly different packaging and sold at randomly generated prices.

Heidi and I bought a washing machine recently and as I was paying I chose it in much the same way I order wine in a restaurant, even though I don’t drink I know my table mates do so I avoid the very cheapest on the basis that it will taste like camel piss, avoid the second cheapest on the basis that it’s probably even worse, avoid the expensive options at the top of the list on the basis that they can’t possibly be worth it, and picking something from the middle instead.

Anyway, I went off subject there didn’t I so let me just clarify that we don’t feel that our washing machine on deck 7 made her clothes look like they had been swimming with a great white shark and the guest I can tell you is not happy. Whereas we are quick to hold our hands up and apologize when we do something wrong, there are times when we have to say “no.”

Well I have been offered a job this cruise, a host on the Home Shopping Network. It was a very generous offer and I appreciate the senior vice president of the company who gave it to me. He was sailing last week and met me on the last sea day and made me quite an offer. While I was humbled by his generosity and the fact that he felt I could do it, there was no way I could spend my day selling stain remover and sterling silver Ginzu knives. Everyone it seems is in show business and many of the guests I speak to here are connected somehow. And this can cause problems as you can see from the e-mail I woke up to this morning.

Sent: Saturday, October 04, 2010 8:04 AM
Subject: Cabin ____- DOES NOT WANT TO BE ON SHOW TV

Good morning,

Please be kindly advised that the guest from the cabin _________ Mr. ________ wanted to meet with you. He said that he was in the show last night and that he had seen himself on the TV in the cabin this morning. Mr ____ wants the show taken off because he is a professional actor and unless we are going to pay him the show must be removed from channel 2. Mr._____ then showed me a card showing he was a professional actor. He was very upset John. Please contact him soon.

Thank you and regards

Oh F F S!

Let me just cut to the chase and say that I have asked the audio visual chaps to edit the show taking his introduction and interview out. But I am sure as heck not going to take down the whole show based on his say so. There were 5 other guests on stage and they were all very funny indeed. In fact I have a video of one very funny moment to show you later this week. So…..there was no way am taking the whole show off the TV. And what surprises me is the man in question was great. He is here with is “significant other” and he was personable and fun even to the point of referencing my previous joke about my name meaning “toilet” by calling me Mr. Toilet over the microphone…..anyway, it’s 9 am, I am going to call him now……….hold on.

OK, I have spoke to Mr. Cloonpitt and he has advised me that he is something called a SAGY or something like that and any appearance he makes on TV must be compensated and he gave me the name and number of his agent. I told him that I have edited his part of the show out but as expected he wants the whole thing taken down. I have politely refused stating that all speaking parts he had are removed. Mr. Cloonpitt remains rather upset ……..I doubt this is the last I will hear on this subject.

Finally today it’s time to honour some of the crew here. Each month the management chooses their employee of the month and rather than finish the blog with tales of my bowel movements I thought you might like to join me in honouring (spelt correctly) September’s employees of the month.

The crew…………….still the epicenter of the fun for all Carnival experience.

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.