A Blog Full of Non-Alcoholic Sparkles

January 3, 2011 -

John Heald

“Are you an alcoholic?”

I was asked this by a complete stranger at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square during the New Years Eve extravaganza of which I will be writing more later. I was standing at the bar and while the beautiful people of New York were ordering Cosmopolitans and Slippery Nipples I of course had requested a glass of…………yep…………Diet Coke.

Now over the years I have discovered that Americans are never fearful of telling complete strangers exactly what’s on their mind. As you know I have been told by herbal vegetablists that I am a fat bastard and that their tea can help me shed the pounds. However, even I was taken aback when this thirty something bloke at the bar asked me if I was an alcoholic because I had ordered a Diet Coke on New Year’s Eve.

At this point of the evening I was exhausted. It was 1:30 am and I had been pulled from pillar to post by marketing and public relations people all of whom had perfect teeth and were all called Laurie, Lauren or Lisa. The only reason I hadn’t gone back to the hotel yet was because there were no taxis running and with nearly a million people partying outside and me with the directional capabilities of Stevie Wonder……….I was stuck in the Hard Rock Cafe with the rich and famous of New York being asked if I was on a seven-step program.

I could have engaged him with some wit and sarcasm or I could have given him a swift kick in the bollocks and told him to mind his own fu**ing business but as tired as I was I just smiled …… and ignored him completely.

However, I noticed that me ordering a Diet Coke on New Year’s Eve in a Hard Rock Cafe VIP party seemed to have made him uneasy and he wasn’t the only one. Even my Carnival colleagues seemed to be a bit uncomfortable with my not drinking. This is not new to me though because since I stopped drinking in 1995 after arriving on the bridge of the Carnival Imagination at 4 am for a man overboard in a bit of a haze…….people have looked at me as though I am strange. And the chap in the Hard Rock Cafe was like most others and was surely thinking why can’t he just relax, have a few drinks, enjoy, have fun, lighten up?

The drinker eyes the teetotaller the way I look at skinny, calorie counting vegetablists. Maybe they look at me and think if he’s not an alcoholic then he must be a Mormon or a Methodist. Then they may make their excuses and leave to talk to someone with a glass of something stronger than Diet Coke in their hand.

Yep, we non-drinkers get under people’s skin. The question is, why? When we were 12 years old we were all non drinkers. Back then, a balloon animal and a banana split provided buzz enough to get through birthday parties, yet some time in the next eight years most of us signed up to the belief that we can’t function at a party without alcohol. Sure, we can survive social occasions without drinking, but it’s a damn sight easier with it. It’s relaxing, it tastes nice (to some); it makes some people think they can dance and, just for a moment, it takes your worries away. Besides, without it, how would ugly bastards like me ever get any rumpy pumpy? Funny isn’t it that if you tell people that you don’t smoke it is impressive. But tell them you don’t drink, and they ask a million questions. “Aren’t you bored?” When I tell people that I don’t drink, they start looking at themselves. They either start trying to justify drinking, or say “I really must give it up.” Or they’ll tell you a story about how they stopped drinking for three months last year and it felt fantastic.

I haven’t had a drink since I stopped 16 years ago……well almost. During my stag party in Amsterdam my best man Alan and assorted friends bought me a pint of lager with a shot of whisky in it followed by them force feeding me a pair of edible strawberry knickers.

And on that visual it’s time for today’s Q and A………away we go.

Hayley P Asked:
John to reply Request

I need you to understand there is a huge difference between the way Carnival treats cruise critic members compared to NCL. NCL understands the power of cruise critic.

On CCL, they act like they never heard of us which is bull. Even the outside vendors that do excursions are well aware of CC. We’ve had several ask us to make sure to post our experiences here to tell everyone what a great time we had. For instance, Cosol Tours (St Lucia)…Cosol told us himself that because of cruise Critic, he was able to pay off his very first van in no time flat and then proceeded to purchase and pay in full, for eight more. He credits CC for this….the same with the Cave Tubing Tour in Belize that we took…Yhonni was well aware of CC and wanted us to have good things to say when we got back.

NCL has treated our roll calls wonderfully and not only did the Captain and officers show up but they gave us free drinks. Can you imagine Carnival doing that??? I think not. Cruise critic can sway thousands of readers to cruise with Carnival OR NOT and if you looked after us better like NCL does then your profits would most certainly go up.

John Says:
Hello Hayley P

I have said many times before here on our blog that all of us at Carnival appreciate the loyalty to Carnival that many of the Cruise Critic website members have and there is no doubt that it is a very influential website.

However, I would also say that while we will not be giving complimentary drinks to every Cruise Critic group I would like to think that the reason so many Cruise Critic readers choose to sail with us is based on value for money, the fun and service and not the chance of a free cocktail. Whenever possible the cruise directors will visit these roll calls and certainly if someone asks me here on the blog for this to happen I will certainly ask my colleagues to do their best to attend.

I know that some of our social media team in Miami do read what people are saying on Cruise Critic because yes, it is an important website. But it is a site that is opinion based…………..just as this blog is. And while it is certainly influential…………..to suggest that it decides if “thousands of readers cruise Carnival OR NOT”………..is in my opinion………absolutely bonkers.

Best wishes

Craig C Asked:
Hello John, (Please Reply)
A big thank you from my wife and I for securing the two top table on last week’s (10/24) cruise on the Splendor. We had a great time and really enjoyed all of the benefits we were provided on our first platinum cruise. The ship was wonderful and our team waiters Ivan and Asurio (sp?) were the greatest. Our cabin steward “Lucky” cabin 7249 was also a great Carnival Ambassador — we can’t wait to receive the electric comment card to give these people the praise they deserve.
Your shows were great — and your discussion with Santa was hilarious. The only regret we had was not bringing a costume for the Halloween party — what a blast. I also want to thank you for confirming the Chef’s Table for us. Unfortunately it was cancelled because not enough people signed up for it — we were really disappointed. However, we were so impressed when the Chef came out to our table on two occasions to talk with us about the experience — he also sent some nice treats to our cabin after the event was cancelled — what a class guy. On the second time he came out to the table he had just finished making the video with you and said it already had over 30k hits in one day. I’m sure that type of promotion will be very successful for this culinary event — can’t wait to try it on our next cruise.

Here’s my question: We’ll be booking our 2011 cruise very soon and want to secure a spot at the Chef’s Table. Is Carnival going to set up the website to allow booking the Chef’s Table as they do with the Steakhouse? If not, can we still make the request through you?

Thanks again for all you do for your guests. And as I told you when I introduced my wife and I to you at the Captain’s event — we love your Blog Thingy! (Although I should probably stop reading it at work and wait until I get home)


John Says:
Hello Craig

It seems a little strange writing about a cruise on the Carnival Splendor after all that has happened. I am so glad that you had fun and I remember Santa vividly. I also remember that we did indeed have to cancel The Chef’s Table that cruise as only a few people wanted to do it. This is a very rare occurrence and I am very sorry that you didn’t get to experience it. You will indeed be able to pre-book The Chef’s Table for you here on the blog thingy so please just let me know and I will assist you. I think that this culinary journey has been one of the best new additions to our fleet in many years and I hope that everyone seriously considers booking it. So thanks so much for the great review of your cruise and I hope that whether at work or at home that you continue to enjoy the blog thingy.

Best wishes to you both

Kim F Asked:
John- Please Reply!

Hi, I sailed with Carnival on the Splendor on 10-24-10 through 10-30-10. I wanted to say that I absolutely LOVED your shows and I just didn’t want to leave the ship! I was hoping that you could post pictures of the cast of the performances on your blog. I enjoyed their singing and dancing and would love pictures with their names! Thank you and best wishes to you and the rest of the Splendor crew!

John Says:
Hello Kim F

And another Carnival Splendor review. Brilliant. Well normally I would be able to honour (spelt correctly) your request but as you probably know the crew of the Carnival Splendor have for the most part left the ship following the fire back in November. The cast have been reassigned to other vessels and it’s a shame because they were a fabulous cast. I am glad you enjoyed the entertainment and fun and hope we see you again very soon.

Best wishes

Larry and Debbie Asked:
Hello John (please reply)

First I want to say thank you, (at least I hope it was you that sent us a bottle of champagne and choc covered strawberries) the note that came with it just said thank you. I did e-mail you prior to our Oct 25th cruise on the Fascination. The cruise was fantastic as normal. We are Platinum and this was our 11th cruise all with Carnival and never had any real problems and this cruise was as good as the rest. The Halloween party was a hoot but nobody said anything about it till the day it was supposed to happen and I think that if more people would have known about it there would have been a better turn out. There were quite a few in costume (me and the wife were in that crazy group) and the judging was in the disco and was a lot of fun. The upgrades that were done to her since the last time we were on her were great and we did enjoy the serenity deck for a while till a few people that were enjoying was to many buckets of beer came and the serenity was gone so we left. The food was good and we totally loved the YTD in the dining room and never had to wait for more than a few minutes to be seated. As I said over all it was a great cruise however I do have one req. from about 5pm till 9pm there was nothing going on the Promenade deck, While I’m sure there were a number of people that were getting ready for dinner or still up on the lido deck there was a number of people that were strolling the Promenade deck looking for something to do, after all that is happy hour time and even if there is no discount on drinks a band or some music would be nice to listen to and relax before dinner. I have seen this on several cruises and maybe you can talk the beards to look into this, it shouldn’t cost them any more as the entertainers are there already. By the way the band that they had on the promenade was great and we did more dancing there than the disco. Any way thanks again and looking forward to booking the next cruise and maybe one day catching you as the CD.

John Says:
Hello Larry and Debbie

I guess I had better send the ships some of my business cards so people know who has sent them a little something. Anyway, I am glad that you received the gifts that you asked me for and that you had a great time and enjoyed the new upgrades that the Carnival Fascination has received.

Certainly it is a good idea for cruise directors to get into the habit of scheduling the entertainment on promenade deck in the later hours. After all, the thinking is that while at 6 pm most guests are either eating dinner or getting ready for dinner that Promenade will be quiet. Then at 8:30pm guests are either at dinner or at the main show and Punchliner comedy club. However, with the addition of Your Time Dining this thinking had to change and certainly we CD’s have to think differently when scheduling entertainment. The only concern we have is that the bands and musicians are only expected as per their contract to play 5 hours maximum per day. Saying that though, there is no excuse that you found the entertainment lacking between 5 pm and 9 pm and I will certainly address this with the ship. Thanks for letting me know. I hope we see you soon on another fun for all cruise soon.

Best wishes to you both,

Nick Hammond Asked:
John Please Reply,

Hi John,

Back in May of this year I went on the Carnival Imagination and with just my wife, and left the two kids at home. This was our first vacation minus the kids. We had a great time and experienced great value for our money. I had messaged you asking for suggestions on how to make the trip extra special. The trip was excellent (minus the flight home, which we experienced an 11 hour delay in FLL) and I wanted to thank you again for the Ship on a Stick and the bottle of champagne. It was a nice gesture. We ended up sharing the bottle with our 8 table mates at dinner, and I made sure to tell them it was courtesy of John Heald. We took a snorkelling tour to a living coral reef through Carnival in Key West and also had a nice beach day in Cozumel.

We have decided to take another cruise and are going to try a different cruise line. We are also taking our Kids, Father and Mother (in-laws), and my Sister. It will be my sisters and youngest daughters first cruise (18mths). The rest of us have been on multiple Carnival cruises and also that other cruise line with paint all over the hull. After reading your blog this summer, I really, really wanted to try a Holland America cruise. We are looking for a more traditional cruise line this time and thought the Nieuw Amsterdam looked amazing, and hearing you talk about it sealed the deal. So we are sailing the Nieuw Amsterdam on Jan 16 stopping in Half Moon Cay, Turks and Caicos, Costa Maya, and Grand Cayman. What an itinerary!

Our booking numbers are ______ and ______ and since you have sailed on the Nieuw Amsterdam, I am wondering if you would have any suggestions to make this cruise extra special for my sister and my youngest daughter who will be sailing for the first time. Will my older daughter who is 3 be able to go to Club HAL? What other differences should I expect? Do you know if the Nieuw Amsterdam will have comedians on board? This will be the one thing I will miss most about not sailing Carnival this time if they don’t have a comedy act. I think we will enjoy the more laid back atmosphere on the Nieuw Amsterdam as this cruise we really just need to relax and spend quality time with the kids.
One last question, My Wife has for years made fun of me for reading your blog every night before I go to bed. Recently though, she has been logging onto my Facebook and is constantly updating me about your Facebook updates. She is now addicted LOL. I was wondering if at the end of one your updates if you will put something like “Hi Maggie H from London, Ontario”. It will be hilarious if she notices it. I understand if you can’t do this if the beards will get you in trouble!

Nick from Canada

PS: ATTN those with beards. Why can’t my Holland America cruise counts towards platinum on Carnival. I know you’re operated independently, but ultimately, the profits all go to the shareholders of Carnival Corp!

John Says:
Hello Nick from Canada

I think I replied to you on my Facebook page yesterday and it’s great to hear from you here on the blog thingy. I am also very glad that you have booked a cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam and I promise that you will all have a brilliant time. Although the ship does not have a comedy club it certainly has a brilliant variety of entertainment which includes comedians. Also, you must absolutely without fail try the Tamorind restaurant which I think is one of the very best I have ever eaten at…………….try the Satay sampler.

Your daughter will certainly be able to go to Club HAL and enjoy the great facilities that they offer. You will certainly find a different atmosphere on Holland America as opposed to Carnival ships but I promise that you will love it…..as I did. The two lines do though have separate loyalty programs and there are no current plans to bring them all together. Have a brilliant time and tell your wife to have a look at my Facebook page as I posted a special hello to her just now.

Best wishes to you both

Alicia Smith Asked:
Dear John, (Please Reply)

I just wanted to write and tell you how much we love your blog and I can’t wait to get on the Valor next month. We enjoy cruising so much (and never stepped foot on a boat yet) that we have already booked our 1st family cruise for next year. We will be on the Elation on the last sailing before she heads into dry dock.

I am writing because of what my girls are doing to help pay for our family trip. They have been collecting cans to turn in for recycling. My hubby and I even have a counter and many blog posts about those cans on our blog. We only need 185,550 cans to pay off our whole family cruise for next year. I was wondering that if they come close to meeting their goal if something that Carnival could do for my girls who will be 8, 5, and 4 next year?? They are all about collecting cans. If you are drinking a canned drink, they will sit there until you are done to take it from you. My girls sure are learning to clean up and work together. As a parent I sure will be proud to say that my kids paid for the cruise thanks to empty cans!!

Thanks for taking the time to read this and for the wonderful job that you do!!!

Alicia Smith

John Says:
Hello Alicia Smith

What an uplifting post this was and a joy to read. I am certain that you have all cruised by now as I am way behind in answering my questions. But if you are cruising this month please let me know by return so I can send the girls something to acknowledge their hard work. If you have cruised already would you please let them know that I am very proud of them as I am sure you are and that all of us here on the blog thing salute them for their hard work that enabled you all to enjoy a Carnival cruise. Thanks again for this brilliant post.

Best wishes to you all

Dave Asked:
Dear John: (Please reply)

Had a good time on the Spirit last week to the Mexican Riviera. My main concern was that there were rumors I heard from other passengers about tourists recently kidnapped in Acapulco. The passengers didn’t have any details so I asked our CD for more information. She knew nothing and one of her associates implied that as long as I wasn’t dealing drugs I would be fine exploring the town on my own. I found out later that the rumors were true and in fact the 20 were found murdered and it appears that there is no evidence that their murder was related to the tourist doing drug deals. In fact the mayor of the town had warned people not to be on the streets at night. Carnival never felt it was important to warn the passengers and many of the passengers were out that night. I would think Carnival had a duty to keep passengers informed of any dangers and now I am wondering if they can be trusted about other things.

Other than the Captain’s boorish noontime PA announcements, the trip was spot on. (I hope “spot on” is UK for very good)

John Says:
Hello Dave

Thanks for the great review of your Carnival Spirit cruise. I know that some parts of Mexico continue to have their problems and while it has yet to involve any tourists from cruise ships or resort hotels, we are certainly monitoring the situation very closely as the safety of all our guests is obviously still the number one factor.

Now I am interested as to why you found the captain’s noon announcements boring. I am not sure who the captain was during your cruise and you certainly don’t have to tell me his name. But I am very interested as to what made it boring. Was it the content, the tone or was it too long …… or all of the above? Please can you write again and let me know as we are currently working on helping the Captain’s with their noon messages. Some are very comfortable doing this and some are not so if you or anyone else has a comment about this please let me know.

Thanks again for taking the time to write and I am glad you had a great cruise.

Best wishes

HandH from Atlanta Asked:
John Please reply

Have just got back from our Elation cruise and had asked you for a table for 2 and free gifts which we never got. You talk the talk but you don’t walk the walk. I advice others not to ask John for anything because he is all hot air and ruined our cruise.

John Says:
Hello HandH from Atlanta

I am very sorry that you did not receive what you had asked me for. I either missed your question due to me being so far behind in answering my questions or I my colleagues on the Carnival Elation were unable to assist me. Either way I apologise and hope that when you look back you will realise that you did in fact have a great cruise.

Best wishes to you both

Brent Slater Asked:
Hi John (please reply)

My now fiancée (girlfriend at the time) were on board the Splendor on the 10/17 cruise a few weeks back and we really enjoyed the time. You made the cruise by shows that you put on and you show that you really care for the guests comfort and to make them laugh. My fiancée wrote a letter to you on Dear John and we are looking at maybe cruising on the magic for our honeymoon next year. Will you be on board the magic for the Caribbean cruises in November next year as we plan on getting married on 11/11/11 and I was looking at the magic cruise on 11/27/11. We both would like to cruise with you again as you made the experience so much more enjoyable


John Says:
Hello Brent

This is great to hear and I will still be on your Carnival Magic on 11/27/11.  I hope you will both be there as well and I promise to do all I can to make your honeymoon absolutely brilliant. Let me know if you book and my best wishes to you both


ZooSue Asked:
PLEASE REPLY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have read some very negative and nasty things about Felipe on the Cruise Critic boards and see that he is going to be our Cruise Director on Splendor in March. Should I be concerened?

John Says:
Hello ZooSue

Simple answer……no…….absolutely not. Obviously I am very protective of all the cruise directors as you would expect me to be. Some are new and some need help and guidance which I am always on hand to give as are other CDs such as Chris, Todd, George, Steve and others who have many years of experience. Some need help with stage presence and some with scheduling and some with the use of the PA system and how they sound over it. Each CD has their strong points and weaknesses……..and I include myself it that for sure. But I think that we have a great group of CD’s now and Felipe is certainly one of our brightest new stars and for every one person who maybe did not enjoy him I am sure there are many on Cruise Critic and here on the blog who absolutely did…….some may wish to comment about him here on the blog today. I am not sure what “nasty” things are being said but I urge you to look at the big picture and go onboard with an open mind and then I promise you will have a great time.

Best wishes

And that’s all for today. I will be back with more tomorrow and will continue to try and catch up as best I can. Don’t forget that the beards are going to be making some excellent changes to the blog soon and these changes will include a special drop box thingy which will enable me to answer your questions and deal with your requests in a much more efficient way.

I was talking about our cruise directors a moment ago and one thing that they all have in common is that with the exception of Steve Cassel each and every one of us came through the ranks of being a social host and then an assistant cruise director. The ACD is so very important to the overall enjoyment of the cruise. Now some CD’s have their ACD as the background person working on the Capers and the comp……..bugger……working on the Fun Times and the computer while they spend more time on stage.

Many though prefer to do this work themselves which means that you are as likely to see as much of the ACD at activities and events as the CD. So it is then about time that I highlighted these great young people remembering that some will be for sure….the cruise directors of the future. So over the next few weeks we will be meeting them and we start today with the ACD on the Carnival Miracle and the brilliantly named Lesley Sparkles.

  1. Name: Lesley Sparkles
  2. Current ship and contract end date and if you know, what’s your next ship? Miracle until the end of April 2011. Not sure of my next ship
  3. Tell us about your journey to being an ACD – background etc: I started with Carnival in 2006 as a host and after my first contract became ACD. My background has always been entertainment. I started as a dancer working in resorts in England, (Pontins /Haven) etc. at the young age of 16. I then became a choreographer and then touring show manager the youngest in the company at only 20! I travelled all round Europe managing the entertainment in hotels for a large UK tour operator and got promoted to regional manager overseeing all hotels in the Eastern Med. My specialist countries were Turkey & Bulgaria opening the 2 largest new build projects they had ever done. In the winter season I worked recruiting and auditioning entertainers and heading up the month long training program to prepare them all for the following Summer. In 2005 I wanted a new challenge so I tried cruise ships. I started as a cruise director for P&O in Europe On the Pride of Bruge and The Pride Of Hull. I decided then that I enjoyed ship life but wanted some warmer climates so I joined Carnival. The rest is history!
  4. If guests sail with you what’s the one activity you host that they must not miss? My favorite activities are open mic night and Quest (Always Crazy)
  5. What’s the best thing about being an ACD? I enjoy the fact that no 2 weeks are ever the same, and to have the opportunity to meet so many great people and visit great places. I have grown so much as an entertainer in my years with Carnival it’s been great to try out new ideas and to constantly try to challenge myself. My latest addition will be my new hypnosis show! Again ships are a great grounding for new material.

Thanks Leslie and I am sure you have a very bright future with Carnival.

I want to thank Eric the Beard, Everett the Beard, one of the 344 Stephanies and of course Peter the Hair for their help in producing, posting and filming all the New York videos you all saw these past few days. Carnival got some brilliant publicity out of this event and it was an honour (spelt correctly) to be part of the event. The Carnival Wishing Wall on which many, many thousands of people from all over the world wrote their hopes and dreams for 2011 was a huge hit and having celebrities such as Andersen Cooper and others read these wishes to hundreds of thousands of party goers was truly brilliant.

As for me………well I did TV and radio interviews including one on Fox Business News where a cute lady with a nice bottom asked me questions about earnings, fuel and, of course, the Carnival Splendor fire. My time on the main stage was short but I did my best…………I hope I did OK.

The host for the night (forgot his name sorry) told me just before we went live that he used to be an assistant cruise director for Sitmar Cruise Lines. He was very nice…..very straightforward …. the model of professionalism. I hope he has a wonderful 2011 right up to around December 28 when he eats a dodgey turkey curry and gets explosive diarrhoea. This would then mean that the organisers of the Times Square New Years Eve celebrations would have to call me and ask if I would emcee the whole bloody thing. Having done the short time on stage I did I want more. I want to host more things like this and I hope Carnival does it all over again next year.

How did I feel standing on stage with New Kids On The Block, N Sink, Andersen Cooper, Ryan Seaweed and something called Kei$ha? How did it feel to look out at close to one million people ready to have the time of their lives? How did it feel to represent a company I love and have total passion for in a place as incomparable as Times Square? Well…..I am sorry to say that this writer is not talented enough to even try and put those feelings into words because any attempt to do so will not do it any kind of justice. All I know is………I want more.

Over the next few weeks I have given myself a target of getting some specific things achieved. I realise that in the corporate world decisions are made at a slower pace than sometimes you and I find frustrating, however I am determined to get the following done as quickly as possible. Oh yes, just before I show you my objectives I should point out that based on the feedback I received here on the blog and on my Facebook thingy page the beards have returned the obviously very popular countdown clock to carnival.com………my thanks to them for doing so.

Anyway, gain based on your feedback I am determined to push through the following.

  1. Provide you all with the details of our loyalty program. By the way, I see some of you have commented on the new Platinum gift of pen and note pad. I saw a comment from Dave and Jo that said they liked it and I wonder what others think.
  2. Introduce a sugar free version of the chocolate melting cake. Now talking of this I see from our awards that this iconic desert was beaten by the crème brulee which was a huge shock. So the question here is then………would you like to see this replace the chocolate melting cake as the dessert that is offered every night? I am sure many of you will say “why not have both?” but I would have to check with the chefs to see if this is possible as I see guests asking their waiter for both……….each and every night. Your thoughts on this please.
  3. Once back onboard the ships at the end of this month I will have all the vessels Fun Times sent to me and posted as permanent link on the blog thingy.

These three things are my priority and I will work hard to achieve them for you.

These are my new years resolutions from a business point of view along with keeping the blog and Facebook as exciting as fun as I can make them. Oh talking about exciting………I may have news for you very, very soon about something that those who have been asking for new ………… bugger……………..better keep my mouth closed…………..for now.

As for personal New Year’s resolutions……..well as always I am going to ignore this trend as I personally think they are a load of bollocks. I will continue to try to lose weight that is an absolute must. This though is an all year round thing not just because it’s a new year. January after all is a bastard. Vacation time is over and all that awaits you is work, cold weather and even colder turkey. Yet the life coaches and Oprahs will tell you to find the discipline that you don’t have the other 11 months of the year and eat celery for lunch…….with 2 litres of prune juice …….. and spending 27 hours a day in the sodding gym.

It’s interesting then that a report I read in the New York Times while flying home stated that one fifth of all Americans will go on to celebrate their 100th birthday. That figure, if accurate, is staggering. Imagine the lines outside Denny’s for the early bird special.

However there was a catch. The paper reported that to achieve this we have to eat only air, not smoke, walk everywhere and if we do we can look forward to many years of playing bridge, sucking a Werther’s Original and urinating into a bag. Is this what you want? If so, then the start of 2011 maybe the time to start working towards this goal. However, why not join me in the alternate New Year’s resolution and abandon all ideas to get fit or eat more vegetables. Make 2011 a year of putting your feet up by the TV with a huge bucket of KFC. Have an extra chocolate melting cake and a 2 crème brulee.

Use the elevator to go from deck 8 to deck 9, not the stairs. Drive everywhere. Never walk. Never jog. Never, ever, drink herbal tea. Most importantly make 2011 a year where you have fun……………..loads and loads of absolutely brilliant fun.

Happy new year everyone

Your friend

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99 Responses to A Blog Full of Non-Alcoholic Sparkles

  1. rats. another cruise critic troll. i am so sick of them john. i have been a member of cc for years and it means nothing. it is a place to share information. period. membership is not elite, anyone can join, it’s free. krap on a stick what makes them think they can tell carnival how to run the most successful cruise business in the world and with bigger profits to boot. ncl does not give them free drinks. another cc lie. pontificating crass troll hayley, get a life.

    on another note, hello john! i am all packed and ready to leave and don’t want anything free on my cruise! just going is enough for me! see you next month too!

    smiles, bee

    • Mary ( Mrs Shy ) says:

      To Hayley P.

      NCL does not provide alcoholic drinks at the meet and greets. They do provide water, orange juice, coffee and tea. To say they provide drinks is misleading as what they provide can be had with no charge elsewhere on the ship as well as on Carnival ships. Don’t know why John and others would assume that you mean alcoholic drinks but I guess that was your intent.

      I have been to a few on NCL and the good turnouts are due to the great organizational efforts of the CC person who arranges it. They send special invitations to the individuals who come . I’m sure if this was done on Carnival, the results may be the same.

      • Linda (Mom of DJ) says:


        Thank you for providing the correct information about NCL.

        How typical of some moron to come John’s Blog and lie about what another cruise line does.

        That does not make Cruise Critic look influential….it makes them look RUDE and STUPID !!!

        Thanks for trying to correct yet another idiot who does not have a clue.


  2. Ross says:

    I’m 28 years old and have never let a drop of alcohol touch my lips. I figure
    if I don’t try it then I won’t know what I am missing. To much pain in my family because of booze.

    • Scott says:

      Great to hear there is another one of us. I am 40 and have never tasted a drop. I watched alcholol ruin lots of loved ones and destroy my family. We have a stupendous time on every Carnival cruise without it and if we want one of the souviner cups, we just order the drink non-alchololic!

  3. lisa Bazylewski says:

    HI John,
    the Troublemakers ( group ) are setting sail January 22nd on the Carnival Dream, could you try to make a point of looking at the web cam at about 1pm EST… We have a surprise for you to see… 🙂

    Happy New Year

  4. Sarah says:

    I would love to have creme brulee available every night. I know a lot of people love the WCMC, but I’m not a fan. I love chocolate and the Bon Voyage Chocolate cake is my absolute favorite, but I just order that to keep in my cabin 🙂 And no, I don’t need silverware!

  5. Janet says:

    John, just wanted to let you know we had an outstanding Christmas Cruise on board the Carnival Conquest! This was our first time sailing with CD James Dunn and we truly enjoyed his style. James and his staff had a very busy week and excelled in their jobs. (as did all the crew on board) Everyone was always smiling, friendly and had time to chat for a minute or two. This was our 19th Carnival Cruise and the 4th time on the Conquest we’re booked again in May to get in one last Cruise before she moves from our homeport of Galveston. May 2011 be a very good year for you and your family!

  6. Jodee says:

    Geez how can someone (H&H from Atlanta) complain that you didn’t get them free gifts.. One should not expect free gifts just because they ask. H&H I think you should give me 1000 dollars.. if you don’t I’m going to get mad at you and write you a mean email!

    • Susanne says:

      I totally agree with you. John goes out of his way to try to accomodate our request which is above and beyond the call of duty–it is because he cares about everyone including his regular bloggers. I can not imagine any other cruise line that would do what John does for his bloggers. Even with the best of intentions, sometimes things just do not happen and if that ruined someone’s cruise, it is sad.

      Everyone who has met John and talked with him knows he is very sincere and the fact that someone would say “You talk the talk but you don’t walk the walk” is so out of line. I also bet they are not regular blog readers.

      Just curious to know if HandH from Atlanta did anything special for the crew like the most of us do and did their original request bother to say please and thank you. Probably not because they sound very selfish.

      • Katie says:

        Susanne, I wholeheartedly agree with you. It is truly a shame that some individuals have such a sense of entitlement. John has always treated each and every Carnival cruiser kindly and continues to do so, especially going out of his way to send tokens of appreciation to us. Last year, John sent a lovely gift to our stateroom on our Carnival Dream, and we were so very appreciative. Thank you, John, for being such a class act. You are truly a major part of why I am an “only” Carnival cruiser.

      • Larry Meador says:

        HandH sounds like a spoiled brat. “Oh, you ruined our cruise, wahhhhhhh”>….. LOL

        • Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

          Larry :

          You nailed it.

          HandH was yet another “entitlement mentality” nitwit that comes on here to BEG for something and then “cries” when they don’t get it…..


    • Karen & Bill says:

      Re: the complainers and John comments……..
      I so agree. We have known John since 1992 when we went on our first cruise, and 4 more as well. He is a wonderful and caring man. Nothing irritates me more then to read some of comments that some people wite (or say) to him. It seems to me these people have no chance of ever becoming any where near a loved human being as John is! AND NEVER be able to handle one day of what this man accomplishes!!!

      It saddens me to see all these kind of notes come from this country. I am embarrassed, but also sorry, John.

      • Karen & Bill says:

        P.S. I meant to say 4 more WiTH John. We try and get on the cruises with him as much as possible… but out of 31 or 32 cruises, it has ONLY been 4! 🙁 We keep trying.
        Love ya John

  7. Gaye says:

    Happy New Year. You did great on New Year’s Eve. As much as I do not want anyone to be ill…. It would be so much fun if your wish came true for next year…perhaps someone with a beard should start a Facebook page “Let John be the host for 2011 New Year’s Eve at Times Square”… it worked for Betty White…why not for you????

    I have a question. I took photos of all my Towel Animals on my December Cruise…. But I don’t know what they are…where can I find photos…with names describing them??? I LOVE my towel animals… I just want to know what to call them….

  8. Penny Francoeur says:

    John, as a member of Cruise Critic, a fan of your blog, a friend on FB and hopefully a loyal cruiser with an ounce and a half of common sense please let me say…… Your answer to Haley P was perfect. Thank you.

    HandH – if not receiving anything from John ruined your cruise, that’s your own fault for sitting around waiting on it.

    Happy New Year to everyone else!


  9. Laura says:

    John, you must keep the chocolate melting cake everyday. That is one of the many things I look forward to when going on a Carnival cruise and something I love to order everyday.

  10. Lori (parentsof5) says:

    Interesting time you had. My husband and I are not drinkers and have had some of the same experiences. Even with friends. Oh well.

    On to your goals for the next bit of time, more importantly, Creme Brulee. For me personally, I would love to have Creme Brulee every night (whether at home or on a cruise). Since it is probable that both it and Chocolate Melting Cake could not both be on the menu each night, what if it was every other night. That way both groups of lovers could have it more then once on a cruise. I am willing to share. 🙂

    I hope your new year is most excellent for you and your family!! I am looking forward to our “graduation celebration” cruise this March and sincerely thank you for the time you put into keeping everyone updated and entertained!

  11. Sandy Jamison says:

    Please don’t take the WCMC away!!! That is my very favorite dessert and I order it everynight!!! Cya on the Freedom Feb 6!!! Can’t wait

  12. Jodee says:

    Many people love the WCMC.. Personally I find it too rich.. But I do love the White Chocolate Bread Pudding.. I would love that everynight.. but if not.. I would say stick with WCMC every night.. Seems to be the winner among the crowd.

  13. Hi, John!
    I’ve been out of touch with your blog for a little while during the holidays, but wanted to let you know I’m still “lurking” here and on Facebook.

    I have to say, I’m sick of people flinging the “cruise critic” name around like it’s a badge of honor or major award! Seriously, those people need to get a life! (And yes, I’m a member of cruise critic, as well as several other online cruise forums, so I know darn well that CC membership means buggar all.)

    Anyway, here’s to a great 2011, and I can’t wait until our April sailing aboard the Carnival Legend! This makes Carnival cruise #7 for me! Closing in on platinum status!


    • LadyJag (Laura W) says:

      PS – I’m also a non-drinker and understand exactly what you mean about the “stigma!” I will occassionally have a drink or two, but I can certainly go to a party or event and not drink. Actually, I think it’s kind of sad to see people who can’t function at a party without drinking.

  14. Frank and Bridie says:

    John so glad you u had a great time in NYC. We were watching. As for the non drinking. Do not feel bad, I am right there with you I do not drink either. So you are not alone. Hope you enjoy your time with your family before heading back to work. We will be out on the Dream again in March

    Big Fans As Allways,
    Frank and Bridie

  15. lisa wiggs says:

    Please continue to have the warm chocolate melting cake everyday. I ordered it every night. I have tried to make it at home and it was okay, but not as wonderful as the Carnival version.

  16. tracy says:

    i also hate cc. i have been their once. and i will never go back.and i hate drunks. and people who think getting wasted is so fun. but realy can they rember anything they did. id rather have a good time and rember what i have done. i do have a dring sometimes but i never get drunk or tipsy.hope u had a great xmas and new yr. hope u enjoyed the time with the girls.yes please keep the chocalate melting cake. i love it.

  17. Jas says:

    Hello John,
    The reason drinkers don’t feel comfortable around non-drinkers is a matter of trust. We don’t trust you because you can remember what was done, said and who did it all.

  18. Slickabrina says:

    Hi John!
    Please DO NOT take away the nightly melting cake. People think I eat it every night because I love it. Truth be told, it’s the only Carnival dessert I like. I have a feeling I am in the minority on this one but the one thing I do not enjoy on board are the desserts. And as for the Creme Brulee? Had it once and hated it.

    Also, please do not make any changes to the loyalty program until after February 7. I will probably cry if the luggage tags I just printed with “VIP” (my first ones!) have to be reprinted with those letters removed. 🙂

    Welcome back!

    • Kelly says:


      I have to agree with Slickabrina. PLEASE don’t take away the chocolate melting cake every night. It’s the only dessert (except for chocolate ice cream) that I like on the menu.

  19. annette says:

    Happy New Year John and family!
    Can the beards post a clip of your Fox interview and on stage gig at Times Square? I missed it and when watching the re-broadcast, they edited you out 🙁

    Since you are now officially a superstar with your Times Square performance, I can’t see you going back to wearing a Dolly Parton dress on a cruise ship much longer. Hope the Beards read your not-so-subtle hint of wanting more and find a new role for you at Carnival before some American game show comes a knocking and offers you a hosting gig. You are a natural and NYE will no doubt be a turning point for a talent like you.

  20. Margot Wright says:

    Hi, John,
    My husband and I have cruised three times with Carnival (Elation, Spirit and Freedom) but never heard of your blog until the Carnival Splendor accident. We took our two oldest grandkids (ages 10 and 8) on a 6 day Freedom cruise last April over spring break. We never received an email comment card, but I would like to comment on our wonderful dining room servers, Juan and Imade. They paid special attention to the kids and made them feel special. The magician in the dining room was an imspired idea also, since even the best behaved children can get restless after 2 to 21/2 hours at a table. The kids are now confirmed cruisers! We took the family on a (dare I say it) Princess cruise to Alaska in August, which cemented their love of cruising. We are going on another spring break with them in April out of Baltimore. Unfortunately, the itinerary on the Carnival ship sailing out of Baltimore on April 16 is boring to say the least (3 days in Bermuda?), so we are going on the other cruise line (that which cannot be named). But we really love Carnival and feel that the value for money cannot be beaten. Hope to sail Carnival again soon.

  21. Zack says:

    John, I came back from the Carnival Dream 4 days ago, and I did not get an e-comment card. What should I do, and how should I go about getting one?

    • Irene Garner says:

      I was told to expect mine within three weeks. It came within two.

    • pnjkeith says:

      Join the crowd. Last 2 cruises no emails. Have asked many times, I really think Carnival has no intention to send to everyone. They can now be selective on who enters the free cruise drawing ….. Good Luck heres hope you get one.

  22. Don Kraeft says:

    HandH from Atlanta had their cruise ruined because they didn’t get a table for two. That’s so very sad that their lives are so shallow!

    • Irene Garner says:

      I’m glad I won’t ever have to share a table with them. They would have been miserable company.

  23. The Cruzin2some says:

    Dear John,
    Love the count down clock being added back just as I booked my Cruise.

    Chocolate Melting Cake vs, Creme Brulee is a tough one as I love them both so you really can’t go wrong.

    Thirty two days and counting until our cruise with the boys. Nancy & I really need this one as we haven’t had a vacation let alone a cruise since the first bloggers cruise.

    The Cruzin2some

  24. jgeraci says:

    Next time some boorish Yank asks you if you’re an alcoholic, say “Yes I Am, are you?” That should shut them up! Or you could give them a long explanation of how you’re diabetic & the sugar in the drinks will make you go into a diabetic coma, & how they’ll have to call 911 to save your life, & thank them in advance for being so concerned for your well being. By then they should get the point that their question was inappropriate.

  25. crazy cajun says:

    I feel sorry for folks who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning That’s the best they will feel all day. LOL!!!

    • John says:

      So Crazy DO YOU REMEMBER every morning. The next one could get you on the unemployment line. Ha Ha Ha

  26. Sharon says:

    Wow, such a interesting post today. First off, I am not much of a drinker. I have maybe 3-5 drinks a year and that is usually when I’m on vacation and that’s over a couple vacations for the year. Many people ask me all the time why I don’t drink. It’s just a personal choice, I don’t need to drink to have a good time. I realized that many years ago and it still holds true today.

    The WCMH issue, I don’t like it. Sorry but it’s too sweet and too rich. I know many do (my husband included) but I don’t. Of course, I don’t like the Creme Brulee either. The only dessert I truly enjoy in the MDR is the diet Orange cake. The other dessert I enjoy on the ship is the Carrot Cake that I buy at the little coffee bar (at least it was on the Legend). I will pass over dessert in the MDR so I can have my Carrot Cake. I also really enjoyed the white cake with chocolate filling that my husband ordered for my birthday. That was delicious and should be served as a regular dessert!

    I’m sorry you have to deal with jerks (or trolls) spouting off what CC can or can’t do for Carnival. Whatever….just ignore them and maybe they will go away.

    As for the jerk who didn’t get what he requested. Apparently he doesn’t realize it was a REQUEST, not a promise. Again, what a JERK!

    Have a wonderful evening John and glad to have you back. Good luck with your Carnival resolutions and on your weight loss trials.

  27. Kevin Tapee says:


    What I noticed most about the Cruise Critic members on our most recent Carnival Dream cruise (12-18-2010) is that they took the word critic to heart. I heard them welcomed aboard, recognized at a show and they were given a lounge to meet and greet. From then on I heard nothing but negative from the few I ran into. “The ship is too big, the lines are long, the food is just OK” I personally had a wonderful cruise with my family and friends, Our server (Tatijana – Lithuania) and Asst. Server (Lito-Indonesia) were simply the best. The food was good, the lines were not long at all and I was really impressed with Butch and his staff. So to all of you who are cruise critic members… take a minute and look at the big picture instead of nit picking everything. Give my best to Heidi and Kye.

  28. beth says:

    We got back Dec18 from a cruise on the Liberty and got our e-mail comment card.last weekend. I definitely like the old comment cards you got the last night of the cruise. We had a super head watress and room stewart, but I could not remember their names. Seemed alot easier the old way. I

  29. Steve B says:

    Hi John!

    I am *so* with you on the drinking comments. I’ve been a teetotaler since I was 10 (long story), and am constantly being asked questions like “You don’t drink?” To which I often reply, “Sure I do. I drink water, diet soda, tea, and juice… Oh, did you mean alcohol? Ugh. Tastes terrible. Don’t know how anyone can drink that stuff. Worse than coffee.”

    If I’m on a cruise when this happens, I also point out to them the big advantage that my onboard account is going to be a *lot* less than theirs by the time the cruise is done — just to rub it in a bit. 😛

    Aside to Jas: You’re right not to trust us. We not only remember what you did when you were drunk, our photos of it are actually in focus. 😀

    Aside to Crazy Cajun: There are plenty of better ways for a teetotaler to feel better after waking up in the morning. I believe in indulging in them… 😉

    John , I’m not a big fan of the Creme Brulee, so stick with the WCMC. As for the CC comments – every community, especially internet ones, has good elements and bad. I’ve been on CC for years, and find it a useful tool for getting information, but it’s hardly the stick that these dimwits seem to think it is. Ignore them.

    Finally, alas, my dreams of finally staying in the elusive Cabin TBA for my upcoming cruise on the Pride (Mentioned in an earlier comment a few weeks ago) have been dashed – I’ve instead been reassigned to a very nice interior cabin on the Verandah deck. Ah well, maybe next time I’ll manage it… 😀

  30. Kathy B says:

    John, I voted for the creme brulee. However, I don’t think it needs to be on the menu every night. I’d settle for twice on a 7-day cruise.

  31. Dave Myerly says:

    About the deserts…..
    If the Creme Brulee which I like is only offered one or two times each cruise and it beat the WCMC for the most liked desert even though the WCMC is offered every night……….
    then the winner , Creme Brule should be offered every night.

    The Evil Crew has spoken and the CCs can stand around with their panties in a bunch because many of them take themselves way to seriously

    About the COMMENT CARDS
    The problem of cruisers not receiving these via email automatically
    has gone on far too long. They MUST be sent to each cruiser within
    LESS THAN ONE WEEK following the day you leave the ship.
    Som MANAGER who is now RESPONSIBLE FOR HAVING THIS DONE probably at MIAMI HQ, should have his beard and head shaved and FIRED for this not being resolved yet.

  32. Dave Myerly says:

    Jo and I have received Chocolate Covered Strawberries and other things from time to time while on various Carnival Cruises that come with NO CARD OR MEMO telling us who sent them. We thought they probably came from the MaitreD, or the Food and Beverage Manager or maybe you, or we received them in error. If they came from you we thank you but had no way of knowing.
    Last weeks cruise on the MIracle was the same, Strawberries but no card. Again of they were from you, thanks they wee greatly appreciated.

    I believe nothing should ever be put into a stateroom as a gift without some card or memo telling the recipient who it came from.

  33. Marilyn DeVille says:

    My husband and I will be on the Spirit sailing Jan 30-Feb 6. We were originally scheduled for the Splendor (bummer… my daughter and I were on the Splendor 2 wks before fire and had an awesome cruise) but have been transferred to the Spirit. It is an anniversary cruise. Is there something special that can be arranged? This is my husband’s second cruise (my 7th) and I would like to make it special for him. I’m not familiar with the the Spirit and what it offers. THANKS

    • Patricia says:

      You should probably resubmit this marked *Urgent* John please reply – if it doesn’t say “please reply”, you may not get a response.

  34. Lynn in VA says:

    Happy New Year John! Please don’t take the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake off the nightly menu. I eat it almost every night.

  35. Alicia says:

    HandH should be ashamed of himself for writing that note to you and saying his cruise was ruined due to requests not being fulfilled. Mr. HandH, if you look at this blog, do you SEE how many requests and comments John receives? He does his best and tries very hard to respond to as many as he can. You must be a very petty and selfish person if your cruise was ruined due to these reasons!! John, on another note, the Chocolate Melting Cake is to die for. Please keep it on every night! 🙂

  36. Tina says:

    I have a weird question. Why would someone be selling debarkation luggage tags on ebay? Is this even allowed?

    Here is the link:

    • Laura Harlin says:

      They’re selling the first debarkation zone. That’s the only reason they’d be worth selling. I guess there isn’t anything stated saying you can’t sell them. Not something I’d buy. I enjoy staying on as long as I can 🙂

    • Katie says:

      They’re group 1, so theoretically you would have priority debarkation with VIP guests. Honestly, I’ve been on three cruises in recent time, and debarkation moves so quickly, I probably wouldn’t even move fast enough to disembark with that group even if I had them. And really, most people want to stay as long as they can, especially if they have a late flight. It’s a matter of preference, but don’t waste your money. Book a later flight, have an extra cup of coffee, and watch all the crazies who are rushing to disembark.

  37. Cheryl says:

    Great job John on the New Year’s Eve program and a great job for Carnival. Great idea about writing the wishes. Sorry you didn’t get to have the girls with you. Happy New Year.

    Nah on the creme brulee every night in place of the melting cake. I’m still shocked that the creme brulee finished in front of the bitter and blanc too. It is good but just doesn’t give you that “chocolate fix”.

    AND we start a new year with the rude from Cruise Critic and from Atlanta…HandH…this is my home town and I don’t like people to think we don’t have manners here but you definitely need some lessons. If not receiving gifts ruined your cruise, it wouldn’t have been a good one had you received them.

  38. Jeff says:

    Never, EVER get rid of the chocolate melting cake on ANY night! It’s the only reason I cruise! 🙂

  39. Nick Hammond says:


    Thanks for your reply on facebook and here on the blog.

    I just wanted to let you know that since I sent in my question for you at the start of November regarding status on Holland America, I have been made a 1st star mariner on HAL for my upcoming cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam. This happened automatically when I did the online check in as I believe Carnival and HAL are somewhere along the line linked together. HAL gives 1st star mariner status to those who have sailed it’s sister cruise lines previously. I had no idea that this happened. 1st star mariner lets me enjoy embarkation lunch in MDR as well as a champagne brunch sometime during the week on board by invitation only.

    Just thought I would let you know this for other previous Carnival cruisers who try HAL


  40. Happy New Year John. I drink only Pepsi. My last alcoholic drink was in 1977 just before I had my stroke. Since that time I drink Pepsi or orange juice. Since I’ll be on the Carnival Miracle on Jan. 22, I’ll be looking forward to seeing Lesley Sparkles. What a beautiful lady. See you later John.

    Paul F. Pietrangelo

    • Canuck Cruiser says:

      Hey Paul,
      Bet you’re counting the days now until Jan. 22nd eh?
      Let Miss Sparkles know that more crazy Canucks will be sailing with her in Feb as well.
      Hope you enjoy your long awaited cruise later this month. Started packing yet? LOL
      All the best,

      Your friend from Stratford.

  41. Carla says:

    Hi John,

    I love the creme brulee and would like to have it at least 2 nights on a 7 day cruise. I would love it if you hosted the New Years in NYC this coming December how can we make it happen i’ll write to anyone requesting you to be the host 🙂
    Alicia I think it is awesome that the kids are collecting cans for the price of the cruise and i’m sure they are so happy to know that thier efforts is paying for the cruise 🙂
    HandH I’m sorry that you think that because you didn’t get a table for 2 or free stuff that YOU asked for wasn’t there it ruined your cruise and you think it was Johns fault… hardly his fault if he didn’t get the request in time it is a bit hard i mean come on he did have to help deal with a fire on the Splendor and worry about the people on that sailing and he along with the rest of the crew did a wonderful job. He does his best to have his coligues(sp?) help with ALL the requests he gets but some are just not able to done it shouldn’t ruin your cruise. If thats all it takes to ruin your cruise i’m glad I never have to cruise with you.

  42. Inner says:

    Hi John.

    Is true what you said about the not drinkers… I work on a Staff position on a Ship and if you don’t go to the Crew Bar or the Disco every week then you are socialy akward…

    What is wrong with people?? Alcohol is not the answer to everything…


  43. Ted K says:

    As a proud Cruise Critic member, I want to thank you for your hundreds and thousands of requests that you have filled for all of us. I apologize for the few that feel that they can push you around with some mean words and showing their Cruise Critic badge. It is unfortunate that these people expect that you will fulfill their every request. The funny thing is… you usually do!

    I am so thankful for all the time that you do take to make this bloggy thing happen. I am sure that on top of your regular schedule that this is a full time job. When I read it, it makes me want to jump onboard again. Every time I get off a Carnival vessel, I want to get right back on. My 3 year old daughter asks every day when we can go on the Boat Hotel again. Thank you for making Carnival our cruise line!

  44. Dorothy says:


    I wish I was a drinker at this time, but I’m not, just have one or two while on a cruise. This year has started off with a bang, but the wrong way. We are about to lose our home, the cable got shut off, had choice of paying electric bill or cable. Then to top it all off, my daughter in law had a miscarriage this morning. I thought last month was terrible with my hubby losing his mom, then all of this to happen within the first few days of the new year, makes me wonder what the rest of the year is going to be like. I have decided that I will keep my head up and try to keep going on, I will not let this get me down, I will not cry, I will be strong for my hubby and our sons, I will Survive.
    I just want to say thank you for your blog, it keeps me going. Please do not let the negative people or comments get you down, you are a better person than they will ever be, in so many ways. Thanks for the laughs, the tears and most of all thanks you for being you. I hope to met you some day and say thank you in person. Good night my friend and God Bless you.

    • John says:

      Dorothy – Let me Say “Behind every good Man(family) is a Strong woman” these are word my mother would tell me when I was down, I can truly say that My Wife of 27 yrs as been the reason I get up each day and survive the week. May the Lord hear your Prayer for strength. The year will be brighter.

  45. Courtney Ann says:

    Please oh please do not get rid of the warm chocolate melting cake each night!!!! You may think I’m crazy… but that is one of the main reasons I will not try another cruise line. It is the best dessert I’ve ever had.

  46. Kathy M. says:

    To Hayley P,

    I have cruised on your favorite cruise line (on my very first cruise) and nothing like that happened for our cruise critic group. We had asked for the Captain or one of his officers to join us and they could not be bothered and as for free drinks, that never happened either. So my impression of you is that you are nothing but a troll trying to start something here on John’s blog and as for how great the other cruise line is, well my opinion is far different then yours.

    To HandH from Atlanta, I can say for a fact that when someone asks John for a table for 2 or a gift to be sent to their room, that they WILL GET IT, I know I had asked John on 2 different occasions, one was to set up a greet and meet for our cruise critic group and the other was a table for 4 because I wanted some special time with my brother and his wife who I had not seen in over 11 years. I will say that the first request was not done, but I did not blame John for it, I blamed the CD who was on the ship at the time, but I was able to spend the time with just my brother and his wife at dinner because of John and that meant a lot to me. I did request a picture of John, which I received, along with other gifts that I did not ask for.

    So Mr.HandH from Atlanta, you need to apologized to John for being so rude to him, because he did not deserve those remarks and I know that many others on this blog will agree with me that 99.99% of the time, any request that you ask John for, you will receive.

    • Mary ( Mrs Shy ) says:


      What Hayley P.said is true on most NCL cruises. However, they are not alcoholic drinks as she would have you believe. She just omitted what kind of drinks and everyone just assumed she meant alcoholic drinks. Word for word, she was correct but she knew others would read something else into her words. ( read my reply to the 1st posting addressed to Hayley ).

      2 out of the 3 Meet and Greets that I attended on NCL ships, the Captain, 2 or 3 officers, the Hotel Director and the CD did attend and stayed for about 30 minutes for Q. and A’s. However, these great M &G’s were a result of the organizational efforts of roll call members.

      ( Platinum on Carnival )

      • Mary ( Mrs Shy ) says:

        I should clarify what I said about the word by word statement in the above post. I meant that only for her Meet and Greet comments. I have no knowledge as to the rest of her comments.

        I can say though that I have heard from several sources that Cruise Critic members only account for 1% of cruisers so anything positive or negative said on CC does not have that much an impact whether someone cruises on. Carnival or not or any cruise line for that matter.

  47. Mike says:

    Lesley Sparkles is more atractive and talented than Megen Fox will ever be !!!!!!!!!

  48. Darby says:

    John…my wife and I rarely drink and we find that people often treat us the same way that you were treated. It’s amazing people think you have to drink to have fun. I always tell people that I get to watch them make fools of themselves and tomorrow I will remember everything….and I’ll have the pictures. 😉

  49. Colleen Roe says:

    Love the WCMC and the Creme Brulee…I told my husband I’m going to order both this time around (January 15th-The Dream) when they are offered together! My youngest son, 19, loves the WCMC and couldn’t resist every night last time we cruised. My opinion, keep the WCMC every night. Counting down to our cruise next week! Thanks for all you do, and if you don’t have time to get to my prior request by the time we cruise, I promise we will still have a great time!

  50. Jean Morgan says:

    I am a cruise critic member and find it invaluable for getting general info about ships, ports etc and for answering questions others have about ships I have sailed on. I do not like the way some members behave and much of the criticism levelled by some is beyond ridiculous to a normal person. You need to learn which posts to read, which to ignore and to not get involved when someone criticises your beloved line for something trivial or minor.

    I find the blanket criticism of cruise critic members by some posters here to be as silly as some of the criticisms levelled on cruise critic at the cruise lines.

    Having said that I feel I need to clear up exactly what NCL does for Cruise Critic members. If someone on a roll call wishes they can arrange a meet and greet for cruise critic members. NCL will allocate a room at a specific time and provide coffee, tea,water, juice and a few danish pastries. Definitely no alcoholic drinks on the house. The event is usually attended by several senior officers such as hotel director, cruise director, housekeeper, food and beverage manger and occasionaly the captain might attend.

  51. Ann says:

    While I’m a member of CC…I find many of the folks who post there think that somehow they are “masters of all cruisers”. I wonder just how few CC members there really are on any ship (not just Carnival) at any given time!
    I must confess I’m not a huge fan of Carnival, although the times we’ve cruised on her the crew has been outstanding, and the newer Carnival ships have some of the most spacious handicap-accessible cabins I’ve yet found (I use a wheelchair; a handicap accessible cabin is a necessity). If Carnival should ever change interior decorators and tone done at least some of the glitz and flash, we might consider cruising her again.

    Thanks for a great blog thingy. I hope you’re becoming a model for all future cruise directors — who really care and pay attention to their passengers as you do.

  52. Marsha Breen says:

    Love the creme brulee and would love to see it offered more than once on each cruise. It’s not easy to make at home so having it on the ships when we cruise makes it extra special. Glad to see that you had such a good time in New York and best wishes to you and your girls for the coming year!

  53. Brad Swenson says:

    Please keep the chocolate melting cake around every night, it is a classic for all ages! The Crème Brulee is fancy, but one night is enough!

  54. Lynda Ulrich says:

    To HandH,
    OH BEHAVE. Very few people without a staff of thousands can do what John does. A fw things slip by. But you have no right to be upset about something you asked for that was not given. John doesn’t have to give anybody anything. We also cruise RCL and if I asked for a table for two and a gift in my room I’d be laughed off the ship. Get a life.

  55. Liz says:

    Cruise Critics , get over yourselves, Like it or not, you don’t rule the cruise world, and in fact some of you (and you know who you are) make all of us cruisers look like we go thru our whole lives thinking and speaking negatively. Do you honestly think you are the only ones that get the VIP treatment? I don’t kow of any large group that doesn’t get a cocktail party.
    It’s like watching CNN .(Constant Negative News) in real life. If you really need something in life to make yourself stand out from the crowd become a celebrity or something that puts you into the spotlight. Don’t come onto the boards and force your opinions on the rest of us. We , unlike some of you, like to have fun and laugh our way thru life. It is way to short to go thru it with a chip on your shoulder or thinking you are way more important then the rest of the cruise world.
    If you don’t like CCL, then just stay away. I am sure it won’t bankrupt without you and the rest of us don’t have to put up with the negativity you release with your very presence.
    To the smiling folks from CC, I apologize, I know there are many.

  56. Rochelle says:


    I was raised as a non drinker and in my adult life, I have continued that tradition. Once a month, at company meetings, alcohol only drinks are provided. My co-workers regularly ask me do I want a drink. They seem not to get that I don’t drink even though I tell them. I know buy my own drink and bring to the meeting so I will not continually get request “Do I Want A Drink?”. Have a happy new year and please continue the good work you are doing.


  57. Laura Harlin says:


    In response to your question asking if we’d prefer to have crème brulee or the melting cake every night…I definitely vote for the crème brulee 🙂 I was lucky on my last cruise that our waiter was able to special order me the crème brulee on most nights, but I haven’t always been that lucky. I’d love to see it as an option each night 🙂

    Thanks again for the great blogy thing!

  58. Kevin says:

    Hello John,

    My wife an I were on the 12/26 sailing of the LEGEND, and we had a wonderful time. Wee Jimmy and his staff did a great job keeping us entertained throughout the week, but especially on our “Emergency Sea Day” as our stop in Grand Cayman was cancelled. New Year’s Eve was fantastic. We loved the 10-story balloon drop!

    I wanted to give a special thanks to you for arranging our Chef’s Table reservation. What an amazing experience! Chef Jai and his team really outdid themselves.

    One last thing – Keep the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake! We love it.

    Thanks again,
    Kevin N.

  59. Monica B. says:

    Please don’t take our NIGHTLY Warm Chocolate Melting Cake away!!!! I will CRY!!!!

    I asked for it so much that at the end of our cruise our waiter came up to us with the recipe for it!!

    It IS that good!!!

  60. Barb S says:

    Pen and note pad? I just came off of the Carnival Legend on December 12th and all I got was one piece of stationary with my name printed at the top right where I would put the date if I actually used it to write a letter and the envelope to go with it. Recycle fodder.

    Sugar-free chocolate melting cake would definitely be my selection over crème brulee. Speaking of desserts, I spent the last two years anxiously awaiting the chance to have another slice (or two) of your wonderful chocolate cheesecake. It was like a huge hunk of dark chocolate fudge on a crust. How disappointed I was to find the new version of chocolate cheesecake to be a pale colored, airy mousse-like, and flavorless. (I couldn’t even get my sugar-loving husband to finish it.) To me, it seems like they fixed something that wasn’t broken and I found it very disappointing.

  61. Brahmani says:

    I love the rèmce brulee, but have never had it on any of the 5 day cruses I have taken (6). I have had it on 6 day or longer cruises. I have had the soufflé on the 5 day cruises, but not the creme brulee. I would love it if they would offer the crème brulee on a 5 day cruise just once. I think it’s the best dessert ever!

  62. Sean says:

    Catering to CC members sounds like a bunch of BS to me. Although it might be nice for any cruise line to aknowledge special groups on board their ships on any given cruise..These folks sound as if they think they should be treated as the company president or owner!

    My 80 year old father will be traveling on the Fascination with my fiancee and I on February 19th. He directed a marching band for 25 years. Jeez John..I’d talk real nice about you on CC if you could arrange the Ohio State Buckeye marching band to greet us at the pier in Jacksonville!
    What?? You can’t do that?? Guess I’ll try the White Star line instead! 😉 LMAO

  63. Kate Daley says:

    Hello John,

    Just back from a New Year’s cruise on the Victory and had a wonderful time. Great time all round. Staff, as always, was amazing. I managed to give Customer Service a postcard without an address on it. Katy (sp?) the Customer Service Detective somehow connected some dots and figured out it was me, held the card out and called me to come correct my error. I was amazed and grateful.

    Regarding your questions…

    My husband Gil and I are what you might call crème brulee snobs as he makes, without doubt, the very best crème brulee in the world. And we usually don’t order it when dining out. Really. Now, with that out of the way, we always have the crème brulee on Carnival and it ranks right up their with Gil’s! How CCL Chefs can make such a demanding dish for so many people and nail it every time is beyond us but every night would be a great in our book.

    The new gift, while nice enough, didn’t “wow” me. Probably because I’m more of an electronic rather than paper type of person. Personally, while I have quite a collection, I liked the frames because I always come home with at least one portrait.

    And finally….

    We enjoyed the Chef’s table for the first time and it was a wonderful experience. It will be on our list for future cruises – our next being the Magic and I will have a group with me. So I can promote this properly, could you tell me the maximum number of people that can be seated at the Magic’s Chefs table and if the cost will be $75.00 per person? Which, btw, my husband thought was a bit steep before we ate and well worth every cent when we were done. Excellent service, inspired presentations and darned good food and wine.

    Best Wishes to you and yours for a Happy and Healthy New Year!

  64. Cheryl Harvey says:

    I vote for the sugar free chocolate melting cake. I love the regular stuff, but can no longer have it.

  65. CruzinMan says:

    Liz ,
    Your comments saved my typing fingers.
    Cruise Critic members actually think they own the ship.

    Very rude people indeed.

    What ever happen to Cherry Jubilee ?

  66. Diane Shepherd says:

    If you do get rid of the EVERY DAY metting cake – you had better make if VERY clear on the day it is on the menu — you do not want your guests to be crying over missing it!! I will be one of them. I MUST have it at least once (ok – I`ll admit I don`t have it just once – except back in the olden days when it wasn`t under the Classics).

    and as for drinking – on vacation, yes. at a party – maybe one. At work, we got together to toast the season recently – everyone asked me why I DON`T drink – I simply said I prefer to EAT my calories, thank you very much – pass the chocolate!

  67. MissKItty says:

    I rarely drink, and I am not in the least embarssed to order a coke or “virgin”. Someone looks like that want a reason, I give them the bare assed truth – “my mother was killed in a car accident, by a drunk driver when I was 4 years old – BTW – the drunk driver was my father.” No more stupid looks or questions.

  68. Kathy Locke says:

    John please don’t let them take the nightly warm melting cakes away! I just sailed on the RC ship in Nov. 10 out of Galveston and it just wasn’t the same as the Carnival ships that I have sailed on ,the last time out on the Conquest in March with you as our CD. My group really missed that cake on the other ship and there are some that would love it to be sugar free so they wouldn’t have to cheat on their diet.
    We are booked on the Magic 11/27/11 and can’t wait to have you as our CD again. I don’t even remember the name of the CD we had on our cruise on the “other” ship a month ago. It was nice to have a Calypso band with “real” steel drums on that ship. Hope Carnival will lean toward that kind of entertainment on the Lido and maybe some diferent ports of call.

  69. James says:

    We have been dieting and working out to get into better overall shape over the past year and a sugar free version of the chocolate melting cake would be a great choice. If not we will still have our nightly chocolate metling cake please don’t take it away. Tried the crème brulee but it was not for us. Cannot wait to get to see the Fun Times for the Liberty when they are posted. Hope you are feeling better.

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