DVD Killed The Video Star

October 25, 2010 -

John Heald

Not that long ago we used to have something onboard called Video Diary. This was a concession owned by a man called Scmoolig who put chaps onboard to film what the guests did. They did so using cameras the size of aircraft carriers and at the end of the cruise hundreds…….yes, hundreds …… would buy a copy. I used to go ashore with them and film the ports of call and excursions etc.

One day we were in Ocho Rios filming the river rafting on the Martha Brae. We had the camera set up on a bridge to film him a Rasta Mon punting me along on the raft and as we went by I would wave and shout (no wireless mics back then) “You’re watching Video Diary number 5.” Well it just so happened that the camera operator whose name was Moran but whom we called …….yes…..you’ve guessed it….Moron……..had forgotten to put a sodding VHS cassette in the camera.  This meant we had to ask Rasta Mon to turn round and come under the bridge again.

But Moron couldn’t tell us because he didn’t realize his error until we were way down stream and because this was the Nineties and cell phones barely existed there was no way for him to reach us. So it wasn’t until I met up with Moron some 30 minutes later that he told me of his mistake. It was too late to do the shot again and besides, thanks to me being stuck on a Jamaican raft with Rasta Mon……after smelling his clothes for an hour, I had a serious case of the munchies. So we had to do the shot with me standing by the raft. It was boring.

Back on board and whenever I wanted to see how one of my shows or interviews with a guest had looked I would have to invite Moron to my cabin with the master VHS tape and we would sit in the CD cabin and watch it before it went to the guest TV’s. I would view it. Make notes with a “pen” on something called a “piece of paper” and then pass the “piece of paper” to Moron.

Nowadays, things are different of course and Peter the Hair just e-mailed me the first run of a brilliant video we made for your Carnival Magic. And I can send my thoughts on an e-mail instantly back to him.

You probably saw the Video Diary in action the other day when I posted the brilliant bridge tour that Bill Panoff conducted on the Festivale back in 1983. This was when video diary was in its infancy and looking back at some of then old videos I have at home you can’t help but smile when you see the mullets and all the women who appear to have put their make up on with a high-pressure hose: It looked normal. It looked like it had been filmed yesterday. It looked like we hadn’t come very far in the past 10 years.

But when you actually sit down and think about it, we’ve probably come further in the past decade than in any other decade since the dawn of time. And what amazes me most of all is that we seem to have come further in a direction we didn’t know we wanted to go…

Yep we are now in the electronic age and a world of non-stop “communication.”

Now, and for reasons that are entirely unclear nearly 5,000 people want to know what I am doing all day or what Ketut my cabin steward has found on the bathroom floor. So I tell them via Facebook.

Of course, communication is good when the North Koreans are about to launch a nuclear missile and you need to talk to their president Fu King. Or if you need to sell your NCL shares immediately when you see how ugly their new ship is. Or if you are trying to call a Latvian lady to come to your hotel room…

But this morning, out of the blue, my computer asked if I’d like to be friends with another 11 people. No introductions. No small talk. Click and they are mates. Meanwhile you can see what your teenage daughter gets up to at her parties on her Facebook page, and I can have a look at a man from Kentucky lighting his farts……thanks to YouTube. Apparently, there is more of this to come in the new decade but I can’t help wondering if that’s true. Because the fact is this: sometimes I don’t want you to text me a picture of a dog dressed as Superman for Halloween, and I really do miss letters because letters were apart from bills always something you wanted to get. I never had Postman Pat put a letter in my box that asked if I was happy with the size of my thingy…….yet each and every day various people around the world seem to think that I shouldn’t be and want to give me a new one.

I look at the kids in Circle C and Club O2 who despite the cost text constantly. And I do mean constantly. Why? What are they saying?

I’m not being an old fart here. I love my Raspberry and there are times when I think the internet is the best invention since stockings and suspenders, and Blu-ray films on my home cinema equipment is astonishing.

But in our headlong rush to see what can be done, we seem to have lost sight of whether we actually need these things or not. Digital cameras, for instance, are extremely handy but one day, when your laptop crashes – and it will – every single picture you ever took will be lost. That didn’t happen when you had to go to Walgreens or Supersnaps. And as I finish this bit here I return you to Video Diary.

As I said it was two guys, filming everything on an antiquated VHS video camera. They would pop the cassette in the VCR and it would play in the cabins. The quality was average at best yet because they filmed everything and because there was no copyright or worries about what music they showed or men and women with beards telling them that they can’t film this and they can’t film that. The result was hours of brilliant footage and you know what…….we used to sell five times as many video diary cassettes as we do DVD’s on our ships today.

And here’s one of the things they used to film………pillow fighting. Here we see CD Gary Hunter and CD Kenny Day bashing each other with wet pillows……brilliant

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

Don kraeft Asked:

John Please reply.

After reading about the good luck coins on ships I attempted to locate the one on the Conquest last week. I had no luck & asked GSD. They said it was on deck 5 starboard just outside the Toluse lounge. There is a show case with plaques there and the coin looking thingy doesn’t appear to be the good luck coin. Can you find out where it is located as I am sure I will be on the Conquest again. Thanks Don.

John Says:

Hello Don Kraeft

The tradition of welding a coin to part of a newly built ship is something that we have kept on all of our ships. I asked the captain on the Carnival Conquest and this is what he told me. “John, the coin is located Deck 11 fwd, on the wall that the ‘Twister Water Slide’ backs onto.” I hope this answers your question and please let me know if you have any others.


David Davison Asked:

John Please Reply

Hi John. Just wanted to say once again how much I enjoy reading your blog each day. I always get a good laugh reading about your adventures on the ships. Remember, you can never please every person and there will always be someone who will have a complaint, even if they are having a good time.

Last year, my wife and I had the honour (spelt correctly) of celebrating our Honeymoon on the Dream with you and the Bloggers. We had such an incredible time and the Dream is a Wonderful Lady. I still remember a comment you made when we were getting our formal picture with you. Diane and I walked in with big glasses of wine and you said to my wife “Now that’s a big glass of wine you have there”. The picture is great as Diane has a glazed look on her face. Still not sure if it was due to that big glass of wine or maybe it was just being in your presence?

Diane and I will be celebrating our Anniversary on our Carnival Legend leaving on Oct 31 out of Tampa. We have two nights reserved in the Steakhouse as well the Chef’s Table (which we are really excited about).

Would it be possible for you to send something special to our cabin for our anniversary? Our cabin is # 6153.

Thanks again for all that you do and we hope to see you again soon, possibly on the Magic next year for the TA.


John Says:

Hello David Davison

Thanks for the kind words mate and I am glad you are enjoying the blog thingy. I remember you both very well although if I am honest the vat of wine you were carrying is probably the reason I can picture you both now. I would be happy to send you a little something for your special cruise and will ask Wee Jimmy the CD to make sure he does. I know he will give you a great cruise and please send him and my mate Ken Byrne the maitre d my best regards. I hope I do get to see you both on your Carnival Magic cruise.

Have a brilliant time.

Best wishes to you both


JR Asked:

Please Reply (please with sugar on top)

Do you still hear that theme song when I write to you?

Miss Ellie says Hi to Big John.

We are going on our firth Carnival cruise Oct.30th out of Charleston on the Carnival Fantasy. We are taking our granddaughter Frankie age 9 on her first cruise. She is so excited.—–BEWARE ASKING FOR SOMETHING—-

If possible could you have something in room U106 for her? Maybe a picture of you as I’ve shown her your blog and she knows who you are. Just a little something to make her feel special.

She is one of those giggly talkative gal that makes you feel good to be alive and seeing the world through her eyes. In fact if the CD needs some time off she could fill in for him this week.

Thanks for your most enjoyable blog and God Bless,


John Says:

Hello JR

Yep, here it goes in my head now “da dar da dar da dar da da dar dar.” I am sure your granddaughter is going to have a brilliant time and it will be an honour (spelt correctly) to send her a little something. Thanks for all the kind words and have fun on the wonderful Carnival Ecstasy. Best wishes to all.


Calvin H Asked:

John to send reply to this message

I have read on Cruise Critic that there have been multiple cases where passengers on a tour to see the monkeys have been bitten. Is this correct because I have booked this for my Valor cruise in January and now I am thinking it may be too dangerous. Monkeys spread terrible disease.


John Says:

Hello Calvin H

The tour you are referring to is the Pirates and Monkeys of the Caribbean excursion in Roatan I think. I have promoted this tour many times to thousands of guests who have raved about the experience.  I do remember an occasion a long time ago when an overexcited monkey pecked on a tour participant, nothing serious, just a nibble as monkey was reacting to an offer of food from the guest. I can assure you that if there were multiple incidents and if these animals were any danger to our guests we would not send them there. So my advice is go, the most common comment I hear about this excursion is that it is really superb. Please let me know if you have a follow up to this.

Best wishes.


Lani Asked:

Please reply

Can you tell me the starting salary for a Carnival Cruise Director? I am thinking of applying as I am a CD for another line. I would like to know what you earn and what Christmas bonus and vacation pay is. I am sure you can’t publish this on your blog but e mail then if that’s the case would you. I have been a Cruise Director for 11 years with a major cruise line but think it’s time for a change.

Thank You


John Says:

Hello Lani

Congratulations on your 11 years as a cruise director and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I obviously can’t discuss any salary here on the blog or on e-mail but I hope you continue to enjoy your time as a cruise director and maybe one day we will get a chance to meet.

Good luck and best wishes


Tracy Van Der Voort Asked:

John please reply

I will be sailing with you on the Carnival Splendor Oct. 31- Nov. 7. Could you make sure that my group is seated together, please? My Cabins are 6405 and 6407 it is my husband and two kids, Cabin 1251 family of 4 new cruisers and cabin 1261 also two new cruisers. I am hoping to get both of these families hooked on cruising like my family and I are.

Also could you please post each ports local time compared to the ships time. I know some times the local time for a port is not the same as the ships time.

Thank you very much for taking the time to do this.

John Says:

Hello Tracy Van Der Voort

I know you have been a friend of mine on Facebook so just in case you missed my reply there I am happy to let you know that I have asked the maitre d to assist you in your request.

We have two clock changes during the cruise.



This still has us one hour behind the Mexican times so all our arrival and departure times are based on ship’s time all the time. I will see you very soon.

Best wishes


G H K Asked:

I was advised to put please reply

Never read your blog but was told that I should send this to you.

I need you to pass this on to your head office. I doubt they will do anything though. For what it’s worth here is my review and why you have lost my business


John Says:

Hello GHK

I was so disappointed to read that review and I will certainly send this on to the ship and our Miami office. For now, please accept my apologies that you did not enjoy your cruise. Someone will be in touch soon

Best wishes


H and H Finders Asked:

I am writing an article about on my blog thingy and am trying to find out which ships you have been on as Cruise Director when they have been new. Can you help? I will send you the article as soon as I have done it. I also write in my underwear.



John Says:

Hello H a H Finders

What an honour to have you write about me on your blog. Here are the ships I have delivered from new.


The following as CD:










And next year I will be the cruise director of your Carnival Magic. I look forward to reading your blog and I hope your underpants gives you the inspiration to write as it does me …… well …….my underpants of course……..not yours.

Best wishes



John!! (Please Reply)

We will be using the last of our Carnival Vacation Club points on the Oct 24th Cruise on the Legend. This will also be our first real Platinum Cruise. We have confirmed First Seating. Would you ask Ken if he could seat us at a table with other cruisers, as we have had booths the last few cruises and they are tight for me? Also if the wonderful Katerina followed Ken from the Dream could we have her as our headwaiter?? Our room No is 7280. We certainly have enjoyed our Cruises especially when you were the CD. BC3 on the Dream was truly a cruise of a Lifetime. Many Thanks MIke & Linda Rhone

John Says:

Hello Big Mike

Congratulations on your Platinum cruise. You won’t be seeing this I am sure but just in case you do I wanted to tell you that I have asked Ken to assist you mate. Have fun.

Best wishes


David X Asked:

John Respond to this

Is impossible not to notice how much effort is put into trying to get us to spend more money while on board the Carnival ships, the attempts come way too often. So with that in mind we have to mention the cost of using the Internet which is so out of line and computer users should be aware of. It’s 75 cents a minute or a special with 250 minutes for $100 which then translates to 25 cents a minute. The service is satellite and therefore so slow this time will used up super fast. If Motel 6 or Starbucks can offer free Internet so can Carnival. Then there is the safe. Royal Caribbean’s are big enough to store laptops but not on Carnival. Another reason not to cruise the “fun ships”

John Says:

Hello David X

I don’t want to sound disrespectful David but while I will agree that the internet aboard ship is more expensive than on land, the reason the establishments you mentioned offer free Internet is because they don’t have to use a satellite. Most of the cruise industry uses the same satellite provider which is why most charge exactly the same. However, I will agree that it can be slow and the people with beards are working on ways to improve this. I would also hope that when you decide which cruise line to spend your valuable vacation time with you won’t base that decision on the size of the sodding safe but on the value for money and the experience etc.

Best wishes


That’s all for today. Can I just kindly remind everyone that as the viewing figures are on the rise to an average of 9,000 views a day, that I am getting further behind in my replies. Please therefore can you give me plenty of time to reply to time sensitive requests because I hate it when I am too late to help people? Thanks so much.

Well last cruise was a good one weather wise and as always full of fun and of interesting people. Do you remember the guest who had complained that I had refused to have my photo taken with her because she was African American? Well I called her on Friday evening to apologize but she didn’t give me chance to because as soon as I said “Hello, it’s John” she started to cry and tell me how sorry SHE was that she had suggested that I was a you-know-what. I won’t go into details here but it turns out she had a lot of sorrow to carry around on her shoulders. We chatted for a while and left as friends and on Saturday we had our photo taken together. It was a happy ending indeed.

Now let’s take a break and before we talk about this week let’s look back to the Guest Talent Show of last week and a see a big man with a big voice and a huge ………….well everything.

That’s the thing about talent shows, you never know what you are going to get. Sometimes we have singers that are bad….really bad. A few weeks ago we had a lady who sounded like an angry squirrel trapped in a shoebox, butchering the heart and soul out of Somewhere Over The Rainbow.  Her incessant piercing squawk was enough to make me want to slice my ears off and hurl them into the audience. And then you get people like Thomas. That’s a cruise ship talent show for you.

Well that was the week that was. Now let’s see who is sailing with us this week for voyage SL7102410

TOTAL GUESTS                               3,392

NON US                                          503 – 134 from Mexico – 56 from South Korea

PAST GUESTS                                  1477

Under 2 Years 28
2-5 Years (Camp Carnival) 79
6-8 Years (Camp Carnival) 62
9-11 Years (Camp Carnival) 63
12-14 Years (Circle “C”) 65
15-17 Years (Club 02) 52
18-20 Years 42

As I mentioned last week, we also have the quality assurance team from the Miami office sailing with us until PV. Here is what we will be doing with them.

5 pm                            Captain’s Invitation to Bridge for Sailing

6 pm                            Team Meeting – Coffee Bar – Promenade (QCC team)

6:30pm                        Informal Meeting with Captain – Captain’s Cabin (discuss QCC agenda)

8 pm                            Dinner @ Leisure – “Your Time Dining” – Black Pearl restaurant meet in                                                Atrium Bar (QCC team)

Monday, October 25th – At Sea – Cruise Elegant Evening

AM Free

12 pm – 1 pm              Lunch Crew Mess

1 pm – 3 pm                Department Head Meeting – The Cool

8 pm                            Senior Officers Dining Room – Dinner with Senior Management


Tuesday, October 26th – At Sea

9.30am – 10.30am      Walk-Thru – Part 1

11:00am – 1 pm          Crew Presentation with Q&A – Morocco Lounge

1 pm – 2 pm                Lido Lunch

2 pm – Finish              Conclude Walk-Thru – Part 2

8 pm                            Dinner @ The Pinnacle Steakhouse

A busy three days and as you can see we are trying to let the team see the ship through both the guests’ eyes and the crew’s as well. They will be meeting with the crew and giving them a chance to have their say about life on board and their experiences. You will also notice that they will be having a meal in the crew mess where they will eat deep fried yak testicles…..I’m kidding ….. where they will eat with the crew and see how they live. There is lots to talk about and some of the things I will be talking about are:

–        Improving the Captain’s Celebration

–        The new review card and how not everyone who wants to complete one has been receiving it.

–        Platinum gifts – we need a new one as soon as possible

–        A raise for my cabin steward Ketut who has to pick my underpants off the bathroom floor. He deserves more money and his own hazmat suit

Also on everybody’s agenda will of course be smoking and I have gathered all the recent comments you have all made here on the blog thingy and will use these as references as we continue to find ways to improve this situation to suit everyone’s needs. I will keep you posted throughout the time the beards are onboard.

In Long Beach yesterday I decided I should get off the ship and by a new pair of pants. That’s trousers not underpants. There is no need to buy any underpants as I already have three pairs. Anyway, I have been working hard on my diet and have started to lose weight on places other than my nose and my ear lobes. So much so that one pair of grey pants I have look like I should in a circus wearing a red nose and tipping a bucket of water down my crotch. But as the beards from the office were coming and because I have to look reasonably good I decided it would be better to go and get some new ones. Now I may have lost weight but still aren’t able to go to a regular men’s store unless it’s to buy a tie or a pair of socks. But as well as getting some dress pants I also thought I might treat myself to a pair of jeans.

I haven’t bought or worn jeans for a long time because the fashion pages of GQ and QG and Mens Health and FFS magazine tell me that once you reach the age of 45 you should never, even if nobody’s looking, wear jeans. It was all right when you were 20 and at an Iron Maiden gig. But they do not sit well on a body swollen by age and one or two too many Porterhouse steaks. Blah blah blah.

Now look. It’s all very well for women to say this kind of thing, because women have a great deal of choice when it comes to getting dressed in the morning. They can wear a long skirt, a short skirt, a dress, a pair of tracksuit bottoms, leggings, jeans, pants, shorts or – if they are coming over to my cabin…….. a long leather coat with nothing on underneath except stockings and suspenders.

Men, even if they care about their sodding grooming, do not have anything like that range of possibilities. A skirt is right out, unless you are Scottish, and Scotsmen, as a general rule, don’t give a toss about what they wear. Just so long as the vomit washes off easily after a night on the brew.

Anyway, regardless of GQ Magazine’s warning that people would laugh hysterically if I were to walk down the Promenade deck in a pair of jeans, I decided I should say bollocks and go and buy some and some new dress pants as well. But then I realised something…….this would mean doing something that surely is one of the most miserable things a man will ever have to do. Given the choice of trying on a pair of trousers in a shop, or being beaten to death by an African tribe that wants to eat my genitals on toast, I would take being dinner …..OK a snack……for the Ugabouga tribe.

I hate hate hate hate hate hate trying clothes on. The first pair you try never fit. Not even close. You wheeze and you pant and you suck your stomach in until bits of it are pushing against your cerebral cortex and your eyes are 5in in front of your face and then the shop assistant asks through the door “Are you ok in their sir”?

But you’re not, are you? That’s because you are in a space nearly as small as one of those tiny cabins on the Epic so you take them off again, put your own pants back on and waddle across the shop in your socks to get a pair 3 sizes bigger…….which of course are out of stock.

So, I didn’t get any new pants or any new jeans and yes I look like a clown on stage but you know what…..I also realized I have at least four more waist size measurements to go down so why buy new pants now. So meanwhile my apologies in advance that I look like I do and even though I could fit a pair of baby kangaroos in my pants….I feel bloody marvelous that I am finally losing some weight.


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.