Johnny Buffet

February 8, 2011 -

John Heald

Last year I answered a grand total of 309,777 comments about power strips and why for safety reasons men in high visibility jackets had decided to ban them. I supported and understood that decision then and I support and understand that decision now. But having stayed in a guest cabin these past 8 days I totally understand why guests would want to bring one along.

In the old days I used to walk onboard with some nose hair clippers and a tube of hemorrhoid cream but now I need to charge the batteries for my cell phone, my raspberry, my laptop computer and my portable DVD player which is the most important as I need to watch Latvian Women In Suspenders 9.

Now all of these of which need a vast array of plugs and because my DVD player and laptop come from the UK I need 278 different adaptors… much so that I now need an extra suitcase just for these. Then of course checkout person at Heathrow asks if you have any electrical appliances in there…….is she having a laugh. I had so many wires I looked like a roadie for a U2 concert.

This has meant that when I travel I need more and more suitcase room. I remember the days when I would travel with just a carry on and had developed a routine where one pair of underpants would last me five days. You wear them the proper way round for the first two days. On day three wear them back to front. Day 4 and 5 you wear them inside out.

Yep…….. If I was president and prime minister in chief of the world I would standardize how to get electricity out of the bloody wall. As I said, I understand why the bearded ones made this decision but it isn’t easy to get everything charged and goodness knows how difficult it must be for a family with kids and their PSPboxes and assorted gaming equipment.

Oh, and while I am being a miserable sod, why can’t hotel elevators be the same all over the world…………why can’t they all have a button that says “G”……….that’s the ground floor, that’s where the reception is and that’s where you know to get off. However, some have “1,″ some have “L” some have “R”….and by the time you have figured out what button to press you have ridden the elevator up and down for an hour before finally ending up in the boiler room.

Europe though as the guests who will be sailing with me on their Carnival Magic in three months time will are learn is certainly not united and while many have adopted the Monopoly looking Euro as the currency they remain defiant that they will not take the best bits of other countries and adopt their polices for themselves.

For example………Spain, France and Croatia will all have strict customs officers standing to meet you when the ship docks in Barcelona, Marseille and Dubrovnik, while in Italy they are certainly more casual……everyone walks through as Officer Luigi fixes is hair and looks at bottoms.

Toilets…….ahh the winners here are the efficient Germans. Never wanting to waste anything they have two buttons on the toilet. One for a regular pee or a pre-dinner poo and a second button which sends down a Niagara style gush of water guaranteed to remove even the most stubborn Richard the Third…….that’s cockney rhyming slang…………

Finally, there should be a European and universal whipping boy to be the butt of everyone’s jokes. The Brits have the Irish, the Irish have the Brits, the Swedish have the Norwegians, the Dutch have the Belgians, Germans have the Austrians and I have the Norwegian Epic. I am not sure who the Americans have or maybe it’s the Canadians. What would be nice if we all had one currency and one socket in the wall and it would be a stronger World Union ………. if we all made fun of the French.

Let’s get on with some Q and A shall we?……………Right………away we go.

Janet Lipmanen Asked:
John-please reply

I was very disappointed to discover today on Cruise Critic that Carnival is leaving the port of Tampa and moving the Legend to Miami. The ship has a big following and all of us will look elsewhere now when booking cruises. We have sailed 8 times on her. Why are you doing this?


John Says:
Hello Janet,

I see from the date you posted this question that I am 7 weeks late answering it. I am sure by now then that you will have seen that this rumor was not true and that Carnival will not be moving the Carnival Legend and that Tampa continues to be an important home port for us. Thanks so much for your loyalty and I wish you many more fun cruises.

Best wishes

Angela Asked:
Hi John… (Please reply)

I saw the piano bar people list and want to know what SE means…I met Barry Miller on my very first cruise on the Fantasy in 1998…it says he will sail on 2/24/2011…I would like to see him again or hear from him…you may share my e-mail address…also let me know where and what ship he will be on…he made my first cruise very memorable… I was living in NY when we met and am in Orlando now…PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE OVER TO HIM…


John Says:
Hello Angela,

That was very silly of me. I posted the piano bar schedule using the abbreviations of the ships instead of their full names. The SE is the Carnival Sensation and my apologies if I confused you. Barry is brilliant and I have now sent him the e-mail address that came with this post. Have a great cruise and some wonderful nights in the piano bar.

Best wishes

Monica cullip Asked:
Dear John, Please reply,

I am not sure it I am posting this in the right spot. We are cruising on Liberty March 26, 2011, there will be eight of us, it will be cruises number 4 for two of us, number 2 for three of us and the first one for the other two, we are counting down the days. I have been reading your blogs since the Splendor incident and I must say you are amazing, you made me cry and the pictures you posted were wonderful. You do a good job everyday as does all the Carnival workers.

I was wondering if at all possible to get a table for eight in the early dining in the centre of the room so that we could all enjoy the waiters as they dance and sing after the meal. They are simply amazing people and watching them perform is the highlight of the dinner hour. If you could help us with this request I would be forever grateful.


John Says:
Hello Monica,

I thank you for the kind words and I will ask the maitre d on the Carnival Liberty to do his best to seat you accordingly. I will though need the names or cabin numbers of all the party so please could you send that again here on the blog thingy and mark it time sensitive.

Hope to hear from you soon

Best wishes

Randi Asked:
John, Please Respond

I know you get many requests and this is a minor one so if you don’t have time for it I will totally understand. We will be on the Glory leaving 3/13/11 and my granddaughters third birthday is the following day 3/14/11. I was wondering if we could set up something for her at dinner that evening (we have the late seating). We tried to do something for her first birthday (this unlucky child has spent all of her birthdays on cruise ships!) and while your message got through to the ship, it never quite made it through to the point of anything happening (no big deal – there are more important things going on at times I’m sure). Anyhow, I thought we might try again if you have time to help us out. Thank you in advance!

John Says:
Hello Randhi,

I am glad you got through to me and I will be happy to try and make your granddaughter’s cruise even more special. Please let me know how it all goes and she can expect a birthday gift from me. I wish you all a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes

Travis M Asked:
John please reply.

I read the blog everyday and I hope to have you as a CD someday, maybe even on Liberty for April 2012? hint hint. I was checking out the cruise director schedule for earlier this year and saw that the CD on my Destiny cruise in Sept 2012 was Brent Loyer, I seem to remember it being Brent Mitchell. Someone had mentioned that it was the same person. Is this true? Why go by 2 names?

John Says:
Hello Travis M,

I am glad that you enjoy the blog thingy and I also hope that we get to sail together one day soon. Brent Loyer and Brent Mitchell are one in the same. You see Brent Mitchell is his stage name ……..not sure why he has a stage name but he does. So too does David Tancock who is Charlie Davidson and so too does Steve Cassel whose real name is Steve Patangbuttocks. You will really enjoy Brent as your CD though and I wish you a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes

Lemurcat Asked:
You won’t reply.

I find it ironic that so many people are discussing journalistic ethics and then pointing to the statements of a public-facing employee of the line in question as being impeachable. I wonder if any of you are actually familiar with the concept of “journalistic ethics,” or if you just want so badly to buy into the “JH is infallible, CCL are heroes, kumbaya, coke-and-a-smile” line that you’re simply overlooking facts as opposed to displaying a certain bias.

John Says:
Hello Lemurcat,

I haven’t posted any of your comments recently but I thought I would do so only to balance out the post above from the radio DJ. I can’t though reply as you requested because quite honestly …………I haven’t got a sodding clue what you are talking about. Do you have a fur ball?

Best wishes

KFBK Asked:

Just found that you had a blog and wanted to tell you that your coverage of the Splendor fire was a fantastic read. My parents were on the ship and they had told me how your calming voice and humor were what kept them going. They are both in their seventies and also said how helpful and caring the crew of the boat was to them. I am a talk radio DJ for KFBK AM 1530 News in Sacramento and I have been telling the listeners all about what happened and how you and the other Carnival folks made sure my parents were well looked after.

Thank you all

John Says:
Hello KFBK,

Well I am way behind in answering my questions and I hope that you are still reading the blog thingy so that you get see how grateful I am to your for those wonderfully kind words. The crew was amazing. I never ever get tired of saying this and it was their hard work and dedication that helped the most challenging of situations a little easier. Please would you pass on my best wishes to your mother and father and I hope that we get to cruise together again in happier circumstances.

I also send my best wishes to you and all the listeners of KFNK AM 1530

Best wishes

Patricia T Asked:
Please reply John,

Love your blog and your Facebook messages as well and would like to ask your help with my cruise on the Freedom on the 20th Feb. I am an ER nurse at a busy hospital in Atlanta and would like to visit with one of the ships nurses while I am there. I am 29 years old and thinking of moving to a career at sea. Please can you help me with this request

Thanks so much

John Says:
Hello Patricia T,

Of course I can and I will speak personally to the nurses onboard the Carnival Freedom where I am now. What I will need you to do is leave a note when you get on the ship at the guest services desk addressed to the senior nurse. Please include a copy of your post and your reply along with your last name and cabin number so that they can call you to invite you for a chat. Have a great cruise and I wish you much success. Who know, maybe one day we will work together.

Best wishes

That’s all for today and I will be back with more tomorrow……fur ball…..that was a bit rude of me wasn’t it?

So last night I was hungry. It was 11:45 pm and I had finished watching the show, got back to my cabin and checked my sugar which was a bit on the low side. I won’t tell you how low because if I do it will insure a massive bollocking from Heidi who is of course reading this blog. Hello Heidi………… you.

Anyway, knowing I needed some food I had a choice of the 24 hour pizza, room service or the late night snack served on Promenade. I would have loved to have had the pizza which so many many guests have told me is the best this side of Costa Cruises and many have said that RCI’s is the worst. That’s not be saying that because I have never tried it so they might be wrong, maybe it’s really good……..but according to many I have spoken to ………..Carnival has the best pizza.

Anyway, as carbs and me aren’t best mates I decided to ignore the pizza and the craving for a BLT with cheddar cheese and extra mayo and go check out the late night snack on Promenade and it got me to thinking about how different late night dining is now compared to when I first started. The highlight of my most recent late night snack was the Jamaican beef patties. I know this because I was a naughty boy and using the excuse that my sugar was low………..I had one ……………and it was a spicy triumph of flavours and zest ……………. bloody hell I turned into Gordon “Fu**ing ” Ramsey there.

Back in the old, old days when there were midnight buffets served in the dining rooms on every ship from midnight to 1 am. Very few current Carnival employees remember this as we stopped them in the early nineties and started serving crepes and other late night munchies on Lido Deck as guests tastes changed over the years.

But I remember them and so here for my amusement and maybe yours was the seven day midnight buffet themes as I remember was last served on the Fantasy when I was CD back in 1991.These were all self service from the center tables set up in the dining room.

Saturday: Beans and Bones – We called it this amongst the crew because it was basically huge portions of spare ribs and gallons of baked beans. My personal favourite.

Sunday: Pasta Buffet – Various selections of pasta with the Carbonara I remember being everyone’s favourite dish that night.

Monday: Asian Buffet – The chefs created Indonesian and Chinese food including sweet and sour chicken, satay sticks of pork and loads of rice.

Tuesday: Dessert Buffet – A slimmed down version of our now brilliant chocolate buffet.

Wednesday: Pizza Buffet – Remember this was before the 24 hour Pizza and its popularity spawned what is now standard on all of our ships.

Thursday: The Gala Buffet – Remember this one? It was then moved to the Lido and involved picture taking first then came the eating. The thing was though that while the food carvings were extraordinary there wasn’t that much to actually eat.

Friday: Quiche and Steak Sandwiches Buffet – and if that wasn’t enough we would serve bacon and eggs from a station on Promenade Deck between 1 am and 2 am…………….or if you were on the Holiday………we would serve it from a bus.

Now obviously we stopped doing this as over the years guests really weren’t into eating so much late at night and the food waste was extraordinary. I have clear and present memories as I write this of loads of plates piled high with uneaten food. Our choice at lunch cannot even compare to what we serve now and I also have to say one more thing here. I think back then people stayed up later. I remember the 1– 2 am eggs and bacon thingy being packed with guests. Something tells me that this would not be the case today.

So as I munched on my superb Jamaican patty I sat and thought about those late night buffets. And while I understand why we don’t do them anymore………I realised that me and my stomachs ……….really missed them.

Yesterday I posted the Carnival Capers for the Carni……double bugger…….. yesterday I posted the Fun Times for the Carnival Freedom and today we go to the Carnival Fantasy to see what brilliant fun they are providing their guests on the 5 and 7 day cruises from gorgeous Charleston

Enjoy the Fun Times, guys!

Remember that Eric the Beard will be creating a drop box for these and the rest of the fleets Funtimes which I will continue to post as and when I can. Carnival Ecstasy is next.

Let’s follow up to the couple who were so angry at me for not being the cruise director and had demanded a 50% refund. I know again I should be careful here because they may be reading this but I feel I need to let you know that they were not given any refund and when confronted with the fact that they had booked their cruise way, way before I had any idea I would be on this ship ………well…….they refused to accept the evidence and I am afraid that I will be de-friended on Facebook and despite the fruit basket and other gifts I have sent them……..I may have cost Carnival 2 guests. ……………and that’s not good is it?

On a much lighter note it is a beautiful day in Key West and I am sure that while many are ashore already just as many are nursing serious headaches. The happiest person on the ship last night was not a Green Bay Packers fan but the bar manager who must have had a record revenue evening.

Dan is doing well and we went through a couple of notes from his show last night but the main fact is that the audience responded to him well and as he walked down Promenade last night many were saying hello and telling him they enjoyed the show. It was great to see his face light up every time someone said this and the pride he felt was obvious……..and I can tell you it’s a feeling you never grow tired of.

I am starting to get questions as to who the godmother will be for your Carnival Magic. Well I can’t tell you who just yet but I am sure that I will be able to tell you soon. We were looking at Lindsey Lohan but we were concerned she wouldn’t let go of the bottle……….anyway more news on this as soon as I have it.

Well on April 3 we will say goodbye to Chris Jefferson who has told us he is retiring to spend time with his wife Emma……..and their new baby. Yep, Chris is going to be a daddy and has decided to hang up his microphone. I will be saying a proper goodbye to Chris in a later blog and will tell you who will replace him as CD of the Carnival Conquest. But for now, please join me in wishing him and beautiful Emma and their own little thingy…….all the luck, joy, health and happiness in the world.

Well I have 9,100 friends on my Facebook page and we are close to 9 million views on the blog thing and I hope this does not sound pretentious…..but since writing regularly on Facebook all of a sudden more and more “old friends” have started to get in touch and some have called me.

These calls all take the same form……”Hello mate how are you?………”Its been too long”…..”I see you have a daughter, she’s beautiful?”………”I am doing fantastic” ……… “Really miss you”…….”We should get together”………..”Love your blog and Facebook updates” ……… ”Come for dinner”…………and oh yes, “Can I have a free cruise please?”

There is one chap whose name I won’t mention who has started to call me after many years of silence…….which was just fine with me. Let’s just say that on the list of people I would call to spend a night out with he comes just after Mel Gibson………and anyone French. If I saw him coming towards me in the street I would start touching his bottom and trying to kiss him on the lips until he buggered off and if that didn’t work I would throw myself under a truck. So, just now, I sat with my raspberry in my hand about to delete his name and number. He has called me endlessly and wants to come and cruise. We were friends many years ago but now as I just described I can think of nothing worse…….however, I just couldn’t bring myself to delete his information…….I felt a huge stab of guilt as I remembered the good times we had way back when. I felt like I was in one of those relationships we have all had…..the one where you realise you don’t want to be with that person anymore……….but you are too scared to ditch them …. so you sit there hoping they will ditch you.

But I know that’s never going to happen and this old friend of mine will keep calling and calling and pushing and pushing to come and cruise ….for free. He has even been specific and said he wants to do the Carnival Magic 12 day on July 24.

I therefore have only one choice……….and that’s to call the British police and tell them that in 1984 he stole a Mars bar and a can of Guinness from Mr. Patel’s corner shop in our home town of Shoeburyness.

And that aged 14 we went to see James Bond’s The Man with the Golden Gun at the cinema and that he touched me inappropriately while reaching for a handful of popcorn.


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.