Who Is Your Cruise Director?

December 8, 2010 -

John Heald

Lets face it, our piped in music system on the ships has needed updating for some time. It was a curious mix of rock, pop and classical with a bit of rap thrown in. This meant that while you were on Lido Deck aft nibbling on a bit of pepperoni pizza there was a good chance you would be listening to Sinatra’s My Way followed by Rhianna singing about her Umbrella that led into Beethoven’s Symphony Number 9 and by the time you were ready for another slice you were listening to Jay Zee singing about how he used to Slap His Bitch Down. I am therefore glad to report that all our vessels have brand new in-house music systems that you will find have a brilliant selection of current hits and past chart sensations…….and it’s all happy music that is exactly what you would find on a Carnival fun for all ship.

This means that there is now bugger all chance of you hearing Kenny sodding G in an elevator which is bloody marvelous news. Please let me know if you notice the difference on your next cruise. We will be playing Christmas music on the ships, as well as Hanukkah music. In fact the Dreidel Song has now been incorporated into our holiday show on all ships.

They could do with some happier music at my local shopping mall because this morning the music that greeted me as I entered was Bob Dylan singing some seasonal Christmas song. I apologise to any Dylan fans out there in blog land but Bob is not my favourite recording artist. Or my second favourite. In fact, he is my 4,397th favourite recording artist, just after Barney.

Some say he is the heart of modern music. But I don’t think he’s even the scrotum let alone the heart. God……..he is one miserable bastard. Even when he’s doing a happy song, he always manages to sound as morbid as a man who’s just run over the family dog and trapped his thingy in his zipper. I can’t understand why he would want to inflict his bad mood on everyone else. If I want to feel miserable, I’ll look at myself naked in the mirror. It’d be better than listening to misery guts Bob churning out more gloom and doom.

But this got me thinking. What is the worst Christmas song of all time? I particularly hate that awful Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, Fairytale of New York which makes my hemorrhoids flare up. There are other’s as well that I don’t particularly like, give me a good old fashioned carol any day…….Oh Holy Night being my favourite as it conjures up memories of family Christmases, turkey, chocolate, Brussels sprouts and my Dad’s arse.

But I think my most hated of the Christmas songs is Bruce Springsteen’s Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. I sort of grew up with Bruce and have always appreciated his brilliant talent. However, The fact that “The Boss,” that hard, blue collar chap who normally sings about broken heroes and Jersey Girls, can be sing about a fictitious fat chap on a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer …………. is total and utter bollocks. What’s your winner for worst ever Christmas song?

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

John Martin Asked:
John (Reply – but not necessary if this kind act can be accomplished – if not, I will understand).

My wife has introduced me to your blog thingy, although I must admit that she has to begin it with….the rumpy-pumpy guy, you know!! You’re an inspiration to us all, dare I say “keep up the good work.”

On to my point here. My wife has been voted on to be the leader of a Meet & Greet (a task which she has taken on with great relish). We’ve only been on one cruise, and I’m proud of her efforts to search out all the answers on how this can be accomplished and to help make this cruise exciting and fun. Do you know if there is any way to make her “VIP” status for this cruise as a reward? I figure this would get her onboard to begin her happy-happy plans.

I know it’s a ways out since we don’t leave until January 16, 2011, but she’s like a steam roller and has already begun the preparations not only for the M&G but for the ship sponsored excursions. Soon she’ll be printing out luggage tags and such.

As I said, if it can be done – thank you so very much. If not, I thank you for your efforts. I know this is way above and beyond and not something that you might want the general public to see, which is why I said that no reply is really necessary.

P.S. You have made some complimentary remarks lately about the U.S. Coast Guard. As a retired Coast Guard Chief Boatswain, I was proud of your remarks having spent 20 years doing Search & Rescue as well as many other duties (including boarding and inspecting ships).

May I wish you fair winds and following seas?

Carnival Legend Jan 16, 2011
John & Margaret Martin – Cabin #4224

John Says:
Hello John Martin,

First of all let me start by saying a big thank you for your wonderful service in the United States Coast Guard. As you will have seen in recent weeks we have called upon their services and as always they were there for us. You sound very proud of your wife and I will make sure she receives something special for her hard work. Please thanks her for me and I wish you both a brilliant time.

Best wishes

DD Hillard Asked:
John please reply

I want to comment about the drinking age on your ship. I am from the UK where as you know the legal drinking age is 18. On the Paradise recently I was not allowed to drink because they said the age was 21 and I had to have my parents buy my drinks for me. We will be on the Magic with you which will be in Europe where the legal drinking age is 18. Will it be 18 on the ship as it’s not in America?


John Says:
Hello DD Hillard,

You are correct of course that in the UK the drinking age is 18 as it is in the rest of Europe. However, we will still abide by the U.S. regulations that states you must be 21 to drink and be served alcohol onboard. I look forward to seeing you on your Carnival Magic for a ummmm…… ……….. Diet Coke in the Red Frog Pub.

Best wishes to you all

Tammy Spencer Asked:
John, please reply.

Congratulations on the weight loss! I know from experience how tough it can be! Thanks in advance for any help that you can give me in this matter. We sailed the Conquest 9/12/2010. We had a wonderful cruise. I have a huge problem! I asked a couple of different folks which cruise DVD to purchase because I wanted to make sure I got the one with the Welcome Aboard Show & the Marriage Show! Popeye (Social Host) & a guy up in the Photo area told me to get the Voyage Video DVD. Guess what…neither of those shows was on the DVD. My question is, is there any any any way to get a copy of those shows? I will gladly pay for the DVD….I just want to have them for the memories! I have sent message to the CD Chris Jefferson, but he hasn’t responded. Thank you again for any guidance you can give me with this matter. We are looking forward to meeting you on the transatlantic cruise! My wonderful hubby booked it while we were on the Conquest as a surprise for me! 🙂

Take care!

John Says:
Hello Tammy Spencer,

This is very disappointing news indeed and I will certainly contact the ship although I am guessing that most likely they do not keep copies of each cruise. If this is the case then I will do my best to help you. Please allow me a few days to get the ball moving on this and my apologies for the confusion. I too look forward to seeing you on your Carnival Magic and thanks for the kind words. Weight loss is easy on the ship but at home……….. not so easy at all.

Best wishes

GlendaleCruiser Asked:
Dear John (please reply)

My friend and I are scheduled to go on the Carnival Magic next May and I am wondering if there are plans to have a “Zumba” exercise class. It is totally fun and I have heard that some ships are doing that now. Thanks in advance. I can’t wait to meet you and have you as my CD for the first time.


John Says:
Hello Glendale Cruiser,

Asking me about exercise classes is like asking Judge Judy for advice on cage fighting. I must admit that I have bugger all clue what a Zumba class is but as you seem so excited about it can I kindly ask that sometime in March you ask me again and I will speak to the spa manager for your Carnival Magic. I am very much looking forward to meeting you next year……but not in the gym

Best wishes

Doug in Milwaukee Asked:
Dear John,

Loved your memories of Video Diary. Admittedly dated by today’s standards but my old ones are still fun to watch. 19 years ago this Halloween week I was on the Celebration and might now have to give it a viewing to see things like Captain Ratto and CD Rand Woobury greeting passengers in line on Formal Night like it used to be. Pretty cool getting your picture taken with the Captain that way too! I think we may also have even been “presented” by name as well.

Letters – Something today that’s pretty rare for sure, but I wrote you a real one back in May, the 12th if I remember, although never heard back. In your defence I at that time hadn’t found your blog and seeing what it entails I can see how you’re swamped. It was just a letter outlining my appreciation for Carnival’s staff and my distaste for the ugly comments posting primarily on YouTube videos with CCL ships. Gosh people are unhappy and can be unreasonable. But I’d also just secured getting 3 co-workers convinced to go on the Destiny 9-30-10 with me and was really charged up. I was on the Destiny for her November 1996 Inaugural voyage to the eastern Caribbean (went back in March 1997 to western) and this being the first chance to get away for a cruise, with friends, and on the last ship I’d been on was just so cool! It was only 4 nights but what fun and could have gone for 7.

Two with me were first time cruisers and now they’re hooked, as I told them they would be. The Destiny at 14 I think has aged well in my opinion, having seen her brand spanking new. See if the office might find my letter to you from May as I’d also included about 15 min of the1996 Miami departure footage dubbed to CD that showed the helicopters hovering, tug boats spraying water and horns blowing. An Inaugural or “Maiden” departure is something everyone who’s a cruiser should try to experience once in lifetime. Next year, and although the Magic will have been in operation a few months, I think Galveston on November 14 will be a hit and am trying to round up my group to go. My recent trip on the Destiny brought back such cool memories and still after 14 years I knew my way around the ship like I’d never left, much to the complete surprise of my friends! Hope we can go next year. Thanks for all your efforts and please extend the same to all the staff & crew at CCL. Doug.

John Says:
Hello Doug in Milwaukee,

I am so sorry I didn’t reply to your letter although I don’t actually remember seeing it. But I certainly read your post with great pleasure and it certainly brought some special memories back. I saw Captain Ratto on the inaugural of your Carnival Dream. He has retired now but he still cut a wonder figure on the bridge. Rand is still working for us as a magician and performing great shows. I have said before here on our blog thingy that I miss the old style captains parties immensely. I don’t just mean the free drinks but the old fashioned way of lining everyone up to meet the captain. These days though things are different, which in many ways is a good thing ………….but not always.

I will be passing on your words of thanks to the crew via the senior beards and I truly hope that we will get to shake hands next year on your Carnival Magic.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Best wishes

Patrick Armstrong Asked:

Greetings from Essex! (Please reply).

I am sat on an overly full, over priced and under efficient train on the way to work reading your blog on my phone. Just reminding myself in 5 short months I will be jetting off to California to marry the girl of my dreams.

I had wrote to you about 4-5weeks ago but don’t recall seeing your response? My first ever cruise will be on the carnival paradise as the honeymoon proportion of our trip to California. Do you know who will be the cruise director of this ship in March? What do you think of the paradise? Do you have any recommendations about what I can do for my new bride to make it?

John Says:
Hello Patrick,

I do indeed remember your posting and I think asked you what part of Essex you are from. I calculate that you are on the ship right now in which case I wish you a very happy honeymoon and a wonderful life together. Please write when you are home and maybe as we live near each other we can say hello in person.

Best wishes to you both

William Jordan Asked:
Dear John – Please reply (asking for your help again!)

My wife and I are now about 6 weeks out from our first ever Carnival cruise. We are taking a five night Bahamas/Key West on the Fascination leaving from Jacksonville on December 11th. You already helped arrange reservations for the Chefs Table which we are really looking forward to enjoying. So thank you in advance for that experience.

After years with Royal Caribbean we are making the plunge! We originally booked this cruise as a trial run to see how the lines compare; then all of a sudden we booked our 09/04/2011 anniversary cruise on the Valor and now are trying to talk our best friends into joining on us in February for a long weekend on the Sensation!

When we booked with Royal Caribbean over the past years we requested seating at a large table. We enjoy the “forced camaraderie” with our fellow cruisers and have met at least one and usually multiple couples we enjoy spending time with outside of dinner. In fact with one couple we even coordinated a cruise together a few months after we first met!

So — my too long request boils down to this: will you please request our seating to be at a large table with other guests?

We are scheduled for Late Dining (8:15). Our stateroom is E73. Our ship is Fascination. Our dates are 12/11/2010 through 12/16/2010.

Thanks again for your help and dedication to “our” fun blog!
William & Kim

John Says:
Hello William and Kim Asked,

Thanks so much for taking he time to write and thank you even more for “taking the plunge” and cruising with Carnival………it will be the best plunge of your lives I promise. I have asked the maitre d on the Carnival Fascination to assist you accordingly and I want to wish both of you a wonderful cruise. Hope to hear from you when you return.

Best wishes

Louisiana Joe & Sue Asked:

We recently finished a wonderful 7 day cruise from New York on the New England / Canada itinerary aboard the Carnival Glory. I must say this was one of the best cruises we have taken and this is in comparison to 24 previous cruises on Carnival. The ship and staff were wonderful and we were very pleased. The weather was great for 6 days. On the 7th day we traveled thru a nor’easter where the seas exceeded 13 feet and the captain reported during the behind the scenes tour that the winds had reached 100 mph around 0300 hours but the ship handled it well.

We enjoyed the Emerald Steakhouse which was of high quality and the service was above what we expected. Our friends traveling with us were the raffle winners at the past guests party and received a free dinner for two. Unfortunately for Jan (the winner), she became ill. Being the gentleman that I am, I immediately took her place and joined her husband at the table and was able to enjoy the Steakhouse for a second time.

My purpose of this writing is to let you know that we were extremely pleased with our cabin stewards but did not receive any type of method to compliment their service. Our Cabin # is 1102, Sailing date 10/09/10. Our room steward Leonora and her assistant Howard were the best we have ever experienced. From the time we boarded the ship until the time we exited, Leonora was always available and looking out for us. As Platinum cruises with Carnival we have used the free laundry services that were offered only on the last sea day. Leonora was insistent that she wash our clothes daily (we held out for every 2 days) as she stated we were on vacation and need not be bothered with cleaning clothes. We enjoyed several conversations with Loenora and Howard and really enjoyed their company. Their service was a great representation of Carnival and they performed at a level that certainly needs to be recognized by their superiors.

As Milestone cruises and also carnival stockholders, we wanted to pass on our compliments to you and Carnival for another job well done! From the time we booked with our PVP Karla Muller (who we must say is also wonderful!!) to the time we returned home – Carnival exceeded our expectations!

John Says:
Hello Louisiana Joe & Sue,

First of all let me say a huge thank you to you for your incredible loyalty to Carnival and as Milestone members your opinion is most welcome and wanted. It is frustrating therefore to see that you didn’t get a review card which as you know we are sending our guests online. I wrote recently that you must have ticked the “yes” box when asked if you would like to receive more information from Carnival via e mail. Maybe you didn’t check that box yes or maybe you did because I hear from some that even though they did they haven’t been getting the review cards. I promise we will get better in this regard. I will certainly make sure that everyone you mentioned gets to see your kind words and I ma glad that I can make that so. Please let me know if you need anything at all before your next cruise

Best wishes to you both

Dori Anvinson Asked:
Hi John –

I was just directed to your blog a few weeks ago and it gives me a chuckle each morning.

On January 1, 2011, my whole family along with aunt, uncle and cousins (24 total) will be boarding the Carnival Freedom. We all chose open dining and I realize that due to the size of our group there is no way that we will be able to eat all of our meals together. And, after a few days together, we probably won’t want to. : )

What I am wondering is if there is somewhere I could reserve a table for one evening so that we could eat one meal all together. I totally understand if that is not possible but I just thought that I would ask.

Thank You!!
Dori (Only 66 more days and we are off!!!!!)

John Says:
Hello Dori,

As you can see I am way behind in answering these questions but I am glad that I was able to answer yours before you sailed. You are correct that we don’t have a table for 24 but what I am going to do is ask one of the maitre d’s to contact you and see what they can do to arrange seating as close together as possible on as many nights as possible. I am sure they will be able to do this if of course you all arrive at the dining room at exactly the same time. This way they can seat you as close together as is possible. Thanks so much for writing and I wish you all a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes

That’s all for today and don’t forget on Friday I will be explaining how we are going to improve on how I help you with requests etc. I think you will like what we are going to do. Anyway, as promised here then is the new CD schedule for the first part of 2011. I will talk about some of its content shortly.

Click here to view Cruise Director Schedule.

Now I will ask Eric and Everett the beards to place a permanent copy of this here on the blog thingy for you to check back on at anytime.

Well, what do you think about that? You will notice some CD’s are staying on the ships they are currently serving on. The reason for this is because the old saying of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” certainly comes into play here. Take Wee Jimmy on Carnival Legend for example or Chris Jefferson on Carnival Conquest and the incomparable Steve Cassel continues to rock the Carnival Ecstasy and George Solano has made Carnival Glory one of our most successful ships. They are all doing a great job and have the ships running really well….. So why move them?

Then there are people like Jeff Bronson whose wife had a baby around the same time as Heidi had Kye. They live in California so it makes sense for Jeff to remain on a ship that is based there. Other changes have been made because we want to put the right people on the right ship and certainly it is safe to say that some ships are tougher for a cruise director than others.

There are also new names on the schedule. Stephanie Meads has been promoted and many congratulations to her. It’s also nice to see Gary Brierly, Josh “Big Sexy” Waitzman and Mr Noonan as permanent additions to the schedule. I am very proud of them indeed. Butch keeps your Carnival Dream and having read how well he is doing there that is no surprise. And Kirk Benning remains on Carnival Pride. I hope some of you get to sail with him soon as he has so much passion for the job. There are other CD’s that time does not allow me to mention but they are all brilliant and once again I feel that we have a truly strong herd…..gaggle…….flock……or whatever a group of CD’s are called.

Now, Felipe Cortu gets Carnival Splendor (more about her shortly) and that’s because he has proven to be an excellent young CD full of energy and that’s exactly what that ship will need after all that ship has been through recently. Although it’s not mentioned on the schedule I have every intention of being on the Carnival Splendor for her first voyage on January 16.

One last thing re the schedule……it is very strange to see my name down as CD of the Carnival Fantasy. The last time that happened was in 1991. I am used to being on the newest ship …..and in May I will be on our “most mature” ship……….and quite honestly …. I can’t wait.

I want to thank Chris Prideaux our director of entertainment for allowing me to post this. As far as I know no other cruise line allows guests to see which CD is on what ship ahead of time …… I may be wrong……but regardless I think it’s great that we allow our guests to see this schedule don’t you? I wish all the cruise directors the very best of luck. Be yourself, be on stage more than you are behind the computer……. have fun and remember….you have the best job…in the world.

Well, let’s talk about me shall we. As you will have noticed I am on the Carnival Freedom for three cruises before I go to the Carnival Glory for Bloggers Cruise 4. I had considered doing the Carnival Miracle and Carnival Ecstasy in February as I had been requested to do so by some of my blog and Facebook readers plus Host Mach has his group sailing on the Carnival Ecstasy as well. But that would have meant that Steve and Gary would have been ship less and that just wouldn’t have been fair to throw them off their ships.

And so I was asked to cover the Carnival Freedom which I will be honoured (spelt correctly) to do of course. Then I will leave and spend the night before BC4 in Miami and meet any bloggers who are already there at a location we can talk about later. Once BC4 is over I will then return home to the UK for three weeks before heading to Italy……….and your Carnival Magic. As always comment and opinion on the CD schedule is welcome and I would kindly ask that Host Mach post this on the Cruise Critic pages.

Yesterday I showed you some wonderful photos of your Carnival Dream in all her Christmas spirit. Today we look at the Carnival Inspiration.

My thanks to Stephanie for sending me those great shots.

As we are talking about the Carnival Inspiration lets meet the piano bar entertainer there. Meet Peter

Name: Peter Brenner

Hometown: New Brunswick, NJ

Short Personal Bio: Peter Brenner has been performing with Carnival since 1993. He has had the pleasure of being a piano bar Entertainer for most of those years, but also performed occasionally as a cocktail Pianist in his early years with the company. Prior to that, he earned a master’s degree in “Studio Music and Jazz” at the prestigious University of Miami. Peter takes great pleasure in honoring a variety of requests from pop to jazz, as well as rock and country. He also performs sing-a-longs and hosts musical trivia.

Most Requested Song: “Brown Eyed Girl”

What’s the best part of being a Carnival Piano Bar entertainer? The best part of being a Carnival Piano Bar entertainer is meeting people, travelling, and learning new songs and styles.

Thanks Peter and thanks for all the fun your provide our guests.

OK, nearly time for me to go and update my Facebook page on which I have 8,050 mates. Now I have to admit something to you……..you see……..I used – wrongly I might add – regard Facebook people as a bit… ummmm………sad. I wrongly imagined someone “socially networking” was that of a lonely, teenager dressed in black writing their latest thoughts about the Eye Pad, or giggly women in their early twenties, pointlessly filling pages and pages of Facebook with pictures of their night out at South Beach, captioned “MIAMI NIGHTS” under photos of three nearly naked women doing shots of slippery nipples.

But obviously I was mistaken because I am now on the damn thing and so is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth although I cannot imagine her typing “ROFLMAO!” under pictures of a carrot shaped like a thingy.

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.