Poker Face

October 15, 2010 -

John Heald


Guest: Ms ———–Ref: 842021782A
Cabin: 8272 10/10/10 – 10/13/10


Ms ____ came to the GSD raising her voice loudly. Guest had said that she had gone to the internet cafe and had walked through the cigar Robusto Bar and seen cruise director and the ****** smoking. Guest said that this was really bad and that she demanded an apology from them. Guest has asked to speak to both **** and cruise director. Tasked to cruise director

Well, not really much to say here is there and I will, later today be calling the guest to apologise. However, the one thing that this blog allows me is to express my true feelings on the subject whereas sometimes I am not able to do that in cases like this because obviously the customer is always right.

It has for obvious reasons been a very stressful few days and the person mentioned above and I decided that we would share a cigar together. Now I am not going to name him or give his position away because this is not the place to do so but I can tell you he also has had a very, very stressful few days and as both of us like the odd cigar, we thought that we would have one together. It was Wednesday night, we had sailed from P.V. and there were very few people in the cigar bar. There are some people who drink to delete stress and some who don’t need a drink to enjoy themselves like me. But everyone has some way of relieving stress. A cocktail or ten, a hot bath, rumpy pumpy, punching something or kicking the nearest wall. But none of those things help …..well……..maybe the rumpy pumpy but that’s never much fun when you are on your own.

Nope, for me I enjoy cigars. Very much. I like a cigar when I am happy and I like a cigar when I am sad. Cigars relax me when I’m stressed and it cheers me up when I’m bored. And since you’re all my best mates now I don’t mind confiding that, if it wasn’t for the sodding YOU’RE GOING TO DIE NOW YOU CIGAR SMOKING FAT BASTARD stickers on the cigar boxes and the health reports that have rained on my cigar parade this past decade, I’d probably smoke more than the one a week that I currently enjoy.

Do I feel guilty about this? Of course I sodding do. It’s impossible not to when there’s a different posting each week that, if I have even one puff of a cigar I will have lungs like an overcooked piece of liver and noses like purple sprouting broccoli. Plus strokes, heart disease and eternal damnation.

As I said, I will apologise to this lady but what I really want to say is that we as crew have very, very few chances to relax and the night before we were up for 8 straight hours desperately working our arses off trying to find our crew member and that sometimes we need an outlet, just like you. And after an event like that what are we supposed to do…..sodding yoga? No offence, but sometimes the only body shape I’m capable of making is one where my feet are up and my arm moves the Monte Cristo Edmundo to my mouth and back down again.

Listen, I know that me writing this has upset some of you. I know this is weak and quite possibly sad, but….I admitted it. I can understand people not liking smoke and I can truly understand people who worried about the second hand nature of the smoke……but to take the time to complain just because it was me and another recognizable employee who was smoking….. well that I really do not understand.

It’s been 15 years since I last drank any alcohol and 15 years since I last got drunk…..I mean really drunk……These days, to me, the idea seems as unnatural as someone going to Paris on purpose or wanting to pierce their thingy. Yet I wonder if this lady had seen me having a few drinks, dancing on a table with my underpants on my head……would she have complained. I mean, the chap I was smoking a cigar with had a glass of wine in front of him……she said bugger all about that.

As one of life’s worriers, I like the way cigars blurs edges. I may eat my words when I’m pushing my lungs around in a wheelbarrow, but temporary relief from anxiety can surely sometimes be healthy………can’t it?

Time for today’s questions and my answers….here we go.

Lulu Asked:

John, I too worked in a ‘resort atmosphere’ for many years. I would work at my very demanding job while guests enjoyed their vacations. I did not resent their being on vacation while I was at work, but I did find it frustrating when they did not seem to understand working at a resort is still WORK.

I am not sure why people feel the need to lash out at you. I read your blog because my family has enjoyed three wonderful Carnival cruises (the last one with you as CD) and I want to keep the fun times fresh in my mind. When I am having a tough day, I pull up photos from our cruise and smile.

Too bad others would rather wallow in their own venom.

John Says:
Hello Lulu

Thanks so much for those words of support. I am not sure why in recent months there have been so many personal attacks here on the blog thingy but I remind myself that they are the minority and that’s why I keep on blogging. I hope you enjoy looking at the photos of your last Carnival adventure and that one day soon you will have new photos of your latest fun for all cruise.

Thanks again for being so kind.

Best wishes

rocknrollgal109 Asked:

John you can’t please all the people all of the time. What people fail to realize that this is your blog and even though you work for the greatest cruise line in the world, it’s still your blog, your thoughts and your feelings? Mr. Gruskin aka Trucker Guy just needs to get over it, get off the road and take a Carnival Cruise. I am sure he will feel a lot better afterwards. Keep up the fantastic work John. There are plenty of people out there who love you and support you and I am one of them.

John Says:
Hello rocknrollgal109

Mr. Gurskin’s post was particularly savage but I guess he had his reasons for writing it. I wish he would indeed take a Carnival cruise, with me, so that I could show him the best of times. I am sure his job as a truck driver is a lonely one indeed and maybe a cruise would be the perfect antidote to his stress. Thanks so much for supporting me and the blog thingy and I am so humbled by your beautiful words.

Best wishes

Tracy Asked:
Please reply

hi john we had a good time on the cruise. But the glory and splendor are still my fav 2. Thanks for the seating n the silver dining room. Kyle the cd was nice friendly. But his entertainment stunk lol. my 2 fav cds still are you and goose. But we had a great time. I have a? Why in the silver dining room their isn’t a kids menu for lunch? We do eat on lido deck but sometimes we want to sit in the dining room and have lunch. And Kyle’s tours talk he didn’t ask?’s after he should of. Hope the girls are doing well u also john.

John Says:
Hello Tracy

Do you know that is the first time I have heard that comment and I had no idea that there was no children’s menu in the dining room at lunch time? I asked the maitre d here and he confirmed this was so and that has inspired me to write to the VP of F&B because there should be even if it’s just the basic chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese, etc. I was intrigued that you wrote Kyle’s entertainment stunk (hopefully you were just joking). Can you tell me more? I am glad you had fun and that the dining room seating worked out OK. I will be here if you need anything before the next time you sail.

Best wishes

Bill Asked:
John Please Reply,

So we are getting ready for our next cruise and we will be sailing on the Carnival Paradise Oct 25.

This will be my 3rd cruise, wife’s 4th, daughters second, and mother out law’s second. Her last cruise was on the carnival carnivale in 1993.

First of all, I wish you had decided to be on the Splendor earlier as we would be on that ship instead of the Paradise. But we trust that you will come back to the west coast in 2013 so we can celebrate our 10th anniversary with you.

Now on to the questions:

1) Last year fun ship Freddy sis not make an appearance on the Carnival Paradise. Will he this year. Our DD wants very bad to meet him.

2) Because of our work and commitment as Salvation Army officers we do not drink alcohol but my wife loved to have wine before she joined the organization. She has recently discovered non-alcoholic wine. What non-alcoholic wine does Carnival have and since you are a non-drinker as well could give us a recommendation?

3) What suggestions do you have for ways for the mother in law to have some fun that does not involve her hanging around with us all the time? I thought about leaving her in Catalina but I think that might not work and I want to enjoy our stateroom without our daughter. That said I know she will drag us all over the ship trying to earn a 24k piece of ship on a stick so if there is anything you can do to bring peace to my heart I would be grateful.

Anyway, I will totally understand if you answer this with a “deep and sincere apologies” but please know that you are my comedic relief even we I see little to laugh at most days in my work with people effected by homelessness and poverty. We save all year to forget the rest of the world exists for a few days each year and we are grateful.

Thank you,

John Says:
Hello Bill

I wish you were sailing here to but I know you will have a great time on the Carnival Paradise. I checked with the ship and Freddy is onboard and so your daughter will get to meet him. We do indeed have non-alcoholic wine. It’s called Chardonnay St Regis which is a Zinfandel and a St Regis Cabernet, both I am told are very nice indeed.

Bill, I am sure your mother in law will have a great time onboard and enjoy all the trivia contests, games and shows. Just in case she doesn’t win anything I will send her a trophy as a surprise. I think there is a law against leaving your mother in law in Catalina so I think its best you bring her back with you.

I know that your service as officers means that you give your time endlessly to others and so I hope that you have a brilliant and relaxing cruise that brings you Clear Skies (my favourite cornet solo) and loads of fun.

Thank you for all the work you do and I am voting for you to be the next General.

Best wishes to you and all the family

Gordi 1 2 1 Asked:

I recently was on the Liberty and noticed that you had something called Friends of Dorothy meetings in your daily bulletins. I asked a crew member what this was and he told me that it was a gay and lesbian party. I was horrified by this and wondered why a family cruise line would offer such a thing. Please explain.

John Says:
Hello Gordi 121

Well first of all let’s get something straight. It’s not a party but a chance for our gay and lesbian guests to meet together and make new friends. I am sorry you were “horrified” by this but respectfully I do not understand why. We want all our guests to have the best possible time and if we can help them do that then, of course, we will. We have many many loyal gay and lesbian guests, some of which are regular bloggers and some are platinum and milestone cruisers. So, we make no apologies for having these events and I am sure that when you think about it carefully you will agree that us doing so had no impact on your cruise experience at all. I should also add that we have AA meetings and NA meetings as well and when asked we organise other group meetings such as service clubs, military and FMIT meetings as well……which stands for Fat Men In Thongs………usually I am the only one attending this meeting though.

Please let me know if you have a follow up to this

Best wishes

Don Asked:
John, reply if you wish to my review of Carnival Pride

We were in an extended-balcony aft. The stateroom itself was fine. To me, the best part about being in the back of the ship is never getting lost going to the room. I am one that never gets lost on land, but get me on a ship and I never seem to go the right way when we’re going to our room. At least when we’re in the back of the ship I know which way to go every time. We were not overly impressed with the aft balcony. We had the opportunity to move elsewhere on the ship, but I had always wanted an aft balcony, so we kept it. It was nice to be over the wake, but that was basically it. To us, it was great for sail away to be able to be out there while sailing out of Baltimore, under the Key Bridge and under the Bay Bridge…but other than that we pretty much got tired of seeing where we’ve been rather than where we’re going. I know I am in the minority here, but it is just how we felt…we’ll go for mid-ship rooms again in the future. The room itself was a nice size and the bathroom was as well.

The bed was mostly rather uncomfortable. We asked our steward for an egg-crate, but he didn’t seem to know what that was but said he was going to do something to make it more comfortable. We really didn’t find this to help but we told him it was fine but I don’t think he gave a hoot about us.

David’s Steakhouse was rather a let-down. David’s cost more than the Pinnacle Grill on Holland America; however the service and food were not nearly as good. While the food was okay, it was not anything worth paying an additional $30. The service left much to be desired. Many of the clientele on the ship seemed to believe that they were the only people on the ship and no one else mattered. While I agree that everyone is on vacation and can do whatever they want, there should also be a degree of respect for everyone else onboard. I’ll only mention a few, such as the woman who seemed to think it was fine to scream every time that she walked into the pool area or show lounge, the couple from Karaoke who were always VIPs (and I don’t mean that in a good way…Visibly Intoxicated Persons) and basically ran people out of the lounge, the people who believe it is fine to allow their children to jump and swim in the whirlpools and the people who think it is fine to bring their children into the pool in diapers. I can only describe the guests as common and not up to Holland Americas standards of which we are used to.

The food was ok and yes we got the table for 2 we had asked you for.

John Says:
Hello Don

I was very disappointed to read your review of your cruise and I hope that there were many aspects that you did enjoy. I was so surprised to read that you found the bed uncomfortable as normally it is the other way round with people taking the time to write how well they slept and that the bed was the most comfortable they have ever slept in (the beds are so popular in fact we even sell them online).  I don’t have your last name or cabin number so I can check the bed. Please can you write back with this information? We would appreciate it.

I recently ate in Holland America’s Pinnacle Grill on the Nieuw Amsterdam and while it was fantastic I have to say that I think our steakhouse is even better, just my opinion and I will certainly let the chef know that you were not impressed.

I am happy to hear that you got your table for 2 and I hope that you enjoy your next cruise much more.

Best wishes

Milie Maxi Asked:
John – Please reply.

Am sailing with you on the Splendor on October 31st which is Halloween. Are we having the party that night of on the 1st. Can’t wait.


John Says:
Hello Millie Maxi

I can sense your excitement and you will be happy to know that Halloween will be on the day it is supposed to be, the 31st. The ship will be decorated and there will be a late night costume contest and much, much more.

See you soon.

Best wishes

Leon Biesiadecki

John, we just got back this week from the Carnival Glory and want to thank you for the table for two. It was a different experience and we enjoyed the change of pace of being semi alone for dinner. Since we don’t get the comment cards anymore, and I haven’t seen anything in my in box, I’d like to thank members of the crew for making the trip very enjoyable. Maitre D Victor, waiters Roger and Armand (table 347), and one person that usually wouldn’t get mentioned, Anda in the gift shop Jewelry section. She went out of her way to make sure we had the information we wanted to make a purchase, when a different person in that shop looked at me and figured there was no way I’d be interested in buying diamonds. My wife got some blue diamonds on that trip for our anniversary to go with a few other items we’ve bought on other cruises.

Also, the two at the Future Cruise desk, Bryan and Meagan, were very nice and convinced us to book another cruise, this one being the Carnival Inspiration Panama Canal trip 3 weeks after we get back from the Magic T/A trip.

I did notice the passengers on this cruise, most from New York and New Jersey, were a bit more “aggressive” than what I’ve seen on West Coast cruises, but the different itinerary and passengers is part of what made the trip so interesting.

On the negative side, on this cruise and a few others we’ve done from the East Coast, it seems they can’t make a decent cup of coffee up on the Lido. On the Carnival Glory, Victory, and Triumph, we’ve had to mix a half cup of coffee with a half cup of hot water to cut the stuff down where it was a pretty good cup. On the ships out of the West Coast, this has never been a problem. Maybe they use a different measuring device back east than what we have here in California?

Looking forward to our next 9 cruises!

John Says:
Hello Leon Niesiadecki

Yes, the coffee is one subject that divides opinion with some loving it and some not. I will certainly pass on your comments that you found it too strong to the beards in Miami so thanks for letting me know. I must admit I am spoiled with coffee because I get mine from the Coffee Shop or from the bridge where the Italian officers make the most wonderful espresso.

You should be getting a review card by e-mail if you haven’t already but thanks so much for taking the time to write about those that made a difference to your cruise and I will make sure they get to see your words of praise. I am glad you got your table for 2 and I hope you let me know if there is anything I can do for you when you come sail with us again.

Best wishes

Pnjkeith Asked:
Hey John, Please Respond

Home today (9-15) from the Carnival Spirit. Alaskan Glacier Bay cruise was GREAT!

Want to say thanks to you for requesting a table for 2, which Fernando did for us. You always make this happen for us and it is appreciated. .

Chefs Table with Chef Stanley was OUTSTANDING. This is a must do on every cruise for us now. It took approx 3 1/2 hours to finish all the food and wine. Was delighted that dinner included 7 courses plus appetizers. Also included pictures, cook books, all the wine (red and white) you wanted and a magician to boot.

Steakhouse on first elegant night was very good, except for baby crawling on floor during our meal. I think my wife told you on Facebook the mother also treated us to a breastfeeding show during dinner. Will probably skip steakhouse from now on as we do not feel that children of that age should be allowed to roam and be distracting during diner. Let’s hope they do not start going to Chefs Table too.

The Carnival Spirit seems to always have the best servers and room stewards of all the ships. That’s our opinion and we are sticking to it.

Comment cards are gone? We would like for you to pass on to the beards that Vernon (Headwaiter) and I Knoman (assistant) were great. Rohan (Room Steward) was outstanding. They would have received exceeded our expectations!

I took the Behind the Fun tour. Wow, Dana H was great and very informative. Captain let us stand beside the wheel and took pictures with us, but would not let us steer the ship, maybe next time.

Another happy customer, and looking forward to Carnival Conquest (4th time) in February.
Preston n Judy

John Says:
Hello Preston n Judy

A few weeks ago we had a blog about the steakhouse and if children should be allowed. I think I wrote that they should certainly be allowed to eat there providing they were well behaved and respectful to other guests. Allowing your baby to crawl around the tables is not really appropriate, is it?  Please don’t not go because of this because I can see how much you enjoyed it. And yes, The Chef’s Table. What a fantastic addition this has become to our program and I am so glad that you enjoyed it so much. I know that the Carnival Spirit is a favourite of many and I can see you agree and I will certainly make sure that everyone here gets to read your words of praise.

Please let me know if you need anything before your cruise in February.

Best wishes to you both

Laura Kyle Asked:
Good day John,

I have been following your blog since my parents went on a cruise with you. (You might remember them, at least my mother as she became famous after the show). She was known as the Polecat as my dear father compared her.

Anyways I have been on a few cruises with them and their friends and I will be going on a short cruise with a friend of mine. It took a good while to convince her that a cruise is the way to go (FORGET VEGAS) for her birthday. She has never been on a cruise before and I didn’t know if there was anything you could arrange for her on short notice. We will be on the Ecstacy – M83.

I cannot wait for my next cruise!

Thanks again!!

John Says:
Hello Laura

Of course I remember your mother as your father made her very famous and we became good friends. Can you tell me your sailing date and cabin number and her name please as I will be glad to send her a little something special? Have a great time and please write with the information as soon as possible. 

Best wishes to you and all the family.

That’s all for today and once again thanks for the well over a hundred comments of thoughts and prayers for our missing crew member. The captain said the same thing here on the ship over the PA system thanking everyone for their understanding and help……applause could be heard from bow to stern.  Now one last comment to answer and it’s a very current one indeed. I was sent this today and usually I don’t post second hand comments because if the person who originally wrote wanted me to reply they would have sent it directly to me. But this one…….well I felt I just had to say something.


John, the tragedy of the crew member who fell overboard has become a big topic here on CC and with most saying how sad this was. But there was one who didn’t and wrote this.

No offense…but I don’t feel sorry for the crew member who jumped. It was his choice to take his own life. I feel sorry for his family, the people whose vacation was tainted by        this guy’s selfish act and I feel even more sorry for the fellow crew members who     witnesses this and now have to deal with what they seen. I personally deal with suicides often with my job and it really is unfortunate that someone can be so selfish and not care about anyone’s feelings but their own.

We all got on his case and thought you should see it and the rest of what people are saying.

We hope the ship and crew have happy days ahead

Hello Sam

I have been thinking long and hard about how to reply to this and all I can do is add my personal opinion which I hope you or Host Mach will add to this link…….oh and before I say my piece can I thanks all the Cruise Critic members who wrote messages of support on their site. It shows that the vast majority of people who use Cruise Critic are wonderful, caring people. But I was quite astonished when I read what one poster had said.

To describe this situation as selfish does in my mind display a shocking lack of understanding. At 23 years old when one of my best mates took his own life. I was home on vacation following my first ever contract on a Carnival ship. He was never the most happy of chaps and it was well known that his father had used physical violence on him following the death of his mother in a car accident. Just before I left for my second contract I remember speaking to him and him asking me, “If this is the life I have, what is so bad about dying?” I probably should have worked harder in trying to persuade him that life was worth living but when I returned from vacation I heard this was still the conclusion he reached because he had killed himself.  One can never truly understand the despair that people have and we must have nothing but sympathy in our hearts and hope in our souls that they are in a better place.

I need a break so while I go rub my eyes and pop to the bog, why don’t you read this letter, one of many I received for the Morning Show. It’s very funny and ………ummm……..a little strange. Here it is.

Now, yesterday I received a message from my great friend Host Mach from Cruise Critic.

Here it is.


There’s a video on YouTube from a guest on the Carnival Dream who claims there’s a          hidden camera in the door lock mechanism. It’s about 2:50 into the video.  Here’s a link:

There’s a thread about this and it’s stirring up a great deal of conjecture.  I didn’t see this      on our cabin door on the Dream.

Now since receiving this post I have had three questions on my Facebook thingy and I am sure the Stephanies have received comments from the folks on Cruise Critic with the thread thingy Mach mentioned attached. So, let me answer this now and avoid a heap of extra work. Do we have secret cameras in the cabin doors……..yes…..of course we do and let me just say to the chap from cabin 7490 here on the Carnival Splendor this week that walking around the cabin dressed in a diaper and sucking on an oversized pacifier is just weird. To the lady in cabin 2103, ordering 11 BLT’s and tipping the room service chap nothing was both greedy and cruel. And to the man in cabin 9377………….does your wife know?

OK, seriously, of course we don’t have cameras in the doors and what Mr. Spielberg captured on camera was explained to me by the ship’s command a small hole that allows access for tools to remove the cover and change the battery for the cabin locking system – and not a hidden camera.

Now…….if I had written a blog about poker just a few years ago I would have thought of it as portrayed in movies. A game that takes place in the dingy, dimly lit back room of a bar. But oh my ………how things have changed. Poker has gone upscale and is quite popular now. I know very little about the game but I have seen enough of it on TV and of course here on the ships to know that the game has changed so very much. Poker is now accepted as a game of skill instead of luck and the World Series, played over five days of No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em, is supposed to be the one tournament that can only be won by the very best and most experienced.

It’s not quite the same as winning the NBA Championship or the World Cup…..but it’s close. Our poker pro tournaments on the ships are massive hits and often there is a line waiting to play. Well, in recent months many of those players have been trying to win the specific ship tournaments to try and get into the grand final. There is a prize of $35,000 to be won and there is also an added incentive as one of the most famous names in the……ummmm…….sport has agreed to play. Here is the official word.

PokerTek, Inc. and Carnival Cruise Lines are pleased to announce that poker legend Chris Moneymaker will play in the third annual Carnival PokerPro® Challenge poker tournament onboard the Carnival Destiny the week of January 29, 2011. Moneymaker, a World Series of Poker Main Event bracelet winner, has officially entered the tournament and will play alongside players in the event for a chance at the $35,000 guaranteed first place prize.

“We’re pleased to have Chris Moneymaker as part of the Carnival PokerPro Challenge tournament this year,” said Rodney Dofort, Senior Vice President of Casino Operations for Carnival Cruise Lines’ parent company, Carnival Corporation & plc. “This is the third year we’ve hosted this tournament, and it has grown each year with more players and benefits. We believe Chris Moneymaker’s participation takes this event to the next level for guests who are scheduled to play.”

The tournament will be played on PokerPro tables, which are the only poker tables offered on Carnival’s 22 “Fun Ships.” PokerPro’s new tournament software will facilitate the event, with the new Tournament Leaderboard giving players and spectators access to tournament status, player rankings and chip stacks.

Players interested in participating in the event still have time to qualify by winning a satellite tournament onboard all Carnival “Fun Ships” and at participating PokerPro land-based properties taking place through November 30. Players who sail on the Carnival Challenge cruise in January can also buy-in directly for $750, subject to availability.

So, looks like this is going to be a great competition and I will report here on the blog who has emerged as the winner…or not……because I might be bluffing. Obviously I can’t leave this bit of the thingy without mentioning his last name is Moneymaker. Is that his real name or a “poker stage” name? If it is, it’s a brilliant name and absolutely spot on because he won the World Series in 2003 and won over $2 million.

I suspect he changed his name and if he did then maybe that brought him luck……maybe I should change my name then to John Iwanttofeelmeganfoxsbottom or John Astondriver or John Loadsofsoddingmoney.

Oh and there will be a poker tournament on Bloggers Cruise 4……it’ s strip poker of course …….. but so far only me, Gerry Cahill and Judge Judy have signed up.

See you on Monday
Best wishes

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.