I Am Definitely Not a Dancing Queen

March 21, 2011 -

John Heald

Let me get this over with at the start of today’s blog and I say this with apologies to the many, many Abba fan’s out there, especially my friend Mr Bentley. But my night at the theatre watching Mamma sodding Mia was bloody awful. I was there because of my hippopotamus sized gob (www.urbandictionary.com for the word gob) that in a moment of weakness and a promise of rumpy pumpy I had told Heidi that I would indeed go to the theatre with her. We then had rumpy pumpy and three minutes later when it was over, so too was the memory of my promise.

But Heidi had not forgotten and a few weeks ago she told me she had, without warning, paid for 2 tickets to see Mama Mia in London and that the tickets were expensive and non refundable.

And that was me then………on my way to London to pay outrageous prices to park the car and to sit on an uncomfortable chair listening to a bunch of thespians burst into song for absolutely no reason.

I dislike musicals as much as I dislike explosive diarrhea or the LA Lakers. The Sound of Music could have been a good film but it was ruined by Julie Andrews running around on a hillside taking 20 minutes to sing what could have been said in five minutes with by hiding a machine gun under her habit and just as she started singing “The Hills Are Alive” she would whip it out and shooting the Nazis dead. Now that would have been a great movie. We have to watch it every Christmas in the Heald household, it’s the law. God I hate that film and I am sure those smiling perfectly teethed Von Trapp children are the great grandparents of the little buggers I have to watch every day with Barney.

The difference with a movie to a live show at the theatre is that they are worse, much worse because the actors are actually there, and good manners means you can’t fall asleep or use your Raspberry……..although I did use it to post something quickly on Facebook and got daggers from Heidi and the lady on the other side of me looked at me as though I had just whipped my gentlemen’s sausage out and was dipping it in her popcorn.

I have to admit that I had read what many of you had written on Facebook. You had all said things like “It’s never as bad as you think it’s going to be. You will enjoy it John, it’s fun.”

I consoled myself with these thoughts as I drove the Polar Bear killing machine to London, paid the same as a 3 day cruise on the Carnival Imagination for a parking space and headed listlessly, like a Frenchman into the shower to the theatre.

Yes, there was a surprise in store because…….it was indeed, just as bad as I’d feared and in places it was whole lot bloody worse. I don’t see the point of the story at all. A woman had massive amounts of rumpy pumpy with three men now the daughter was determined to find out which one was her dad. I wanted to stand up and shout “Go on Jerry Springer and get a DNA test done, love, and spare us the misery.” But she has never met her Dad in much the same way it seems that her Mother’s legs have never met.

I was so bored. Yes there are loads of Abba songs and yes the rest of the 1,000 people in the theatre seemed to love it and stood up at the end. But why? There are no jet fighters. Maybe I would have given it a standing ovation if one of the people on stage while singing Waterloo got his arm stuck in his guitar and had to cut it off with a pen knife. I maybe would have stood up if while in the middle of Gimmee Gimme Gimme a Latvian girl enters stage left and does indeed give it to him right there and then. None of this happens. This, then, is a production aimed exclusively at women, metro sexuals and my friend Mr. Bentley.

Oh and it’s a dangerous place as well the theatre you know. Because during the singing of Volez Vous the old lady next to me stood up and started bouncing up and down in time to the music and as she bounced……….that piece of meat that hung down from under her arm would slap me round the side of my head. Then she sat down half way through, exhausted from all that flapping and just as I thought my ordeal was over her huge thighs started banging into my leg in time to Dancing Queen.

So my review of the show is this. If you have breasts and like Swedish pop music then this show is for you. If you have an Adam’s apple…………..go see a Jerry Bruckheimer film.

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

Marcus H Asked:

We recently were on the Carnival Dream where because the Captain could not get into the port of Roatan we had to spend a hellish day at sea and all we got back was a pathetic $20. The sun was shining and the sea was calm so why didn’t we dock. The Royal Caribbean ship made it into port ok but because Carnival wanted to make money in the casino we all got screwed. What kind of BS is this!

John Says:
Hello Marcus H,

Not a very happy way to start our Q and A today is it and I am so very sorry that you are so upset. I realise that you are disappointed in not being able to call at Roatan, however, please understand that cancelling this destination was done in the interest of your safety and because of the high winds it meant that calling at the island simply was not an option as there must have been a genuine risk involved. Now when this happens Carnival strives to provide guests with an alternate port of call. However, since we were unable to find a substitute port, you were provided with a $20 missed port credit as per company policy. As for the Royal Caribbean ship, well I do know that she was docked in a completely different area of Isla Roatan but what her Captain decides to do and not do is not for me to comment. All I can do is apologise and hope you had a great cruise.

But hold on…….I have to say that I was astonished by your use of the phrase “hellish day at sea” which respectfully is nonsense…….pure and utter nonsense. A hellish day at sea ……….. mmmmm ……… great food, fun, entertainment and all the iconic features that we have onboard……. sorry mate ……..but while I am truly sorry we missed the port and I totally understand your disappointment……….to suggest that we did this on purpose to make money in the casino or that your day onboard was hellish. Well that is something that is beyond ridiculous.

Best wishes,


Nick Howell Asked:
Hello John, Please Reply,

I have a comment, and potentially something that you may conduct a Facebook survey for. I have had the Carnival Mastercard for about 2 years, and from day 1 Barclay’s has been a joke. Do you think the senior beards would ever consider changing banks? Here is my story.. Day one applied on board, and only received a lower 5,000 credit limit….I promise I am not a snob…LOL But I can be proud of excellent credit, and kind of expected more…anyways whatever, I’ll take it, and I did…I am mostly interested in the points.. Well I just use the card for Carnival related stuff as I can get triple points… Well last April I had a payment that missed the online cut off, and was posted the next day (a day late) well this triggered a crazy 30% interest…and although Barclay’s removed the late fee, they didn’t do anything on my interest…I paid it off and so it sat.. a few months later in Sept it returned to the normal APR…well late December it went back up to the 30% not having missed a payment or anything, and still having excellent credit called and was told that when it reduced it was an accident, that it should have remained at 30%… I will add all of Barclay’s customer service people are from India and have no clue what the real situation is, kind of like United Airlines… well as you say bugger to Barclay’s… So now I plan to use it for expenses while on BC4, then cash out my points, and close it… I’m not telling you this to make you feel sorry for me, or to get you to have a beard write a nasty letter to them…LOL But rather to see maybe if others go through this too.. I compare that card with others I have say from Chase, and its a night and day difference…Low APR’s, they wont screw me…well maybe if given the chance…LOL but honestly they are fair.. See many people don’t relate the bad experience with Barclay’s, but rather with Carnival….I’m just wondering if anyone has been upset, and not known the difference and actually stopped doing business with Carnival based on their experience with the Barclay’s.. I look at me, great credit, pay my bills, yet of all my cards this has been the worst experience… Don’t worry about me, although I don’t think highly for Barclay’s, I love Carnival, and continue my quest for 10 cruises by end of this year….okay maybe early 2012… Anyways just food for thought and maybe a worthy topic on Facebook, and something for the beards to see.

Well thanks again John, I can’t wait to meet you on the cruise!!

John Says:
Hello Nick Howell,

You know, I have banked with Barclays for many years and our relationship has been tempestuous at best. It is now very strained and bordering on separation because my local call centre has moved from London to Bombay. I don’t know the specifics of the MasterCard thingy that Carnival offers. I do know it’s very popular so thank you for letting me know about this and I have sent this to a senior beard for her attention. I will ask someone to contact you to discuss this. See you one day on board I hope

Best wishes,


Barbara McQuillanPlease Asked:

Will there be a Behind the Fun tour on the TA cruise this Oct? And is this something that needs to be requested in advance? What is the price–I’ve heard many positive comments about it–so that I’m planning it in addition to the Chef’s Table. Thanks so much! I’ve learned so much here on your blog–in addition to having many laughs!!

John Says:
Hello Barbara McQuillan,

I think we are going to need two or three of these because I am sure they will be very popular. I wish I could reserve them for you ahead of time but they will have to be booked onboard and I suggest you do this as soon as you board. It is going to be a great cruise and I look forward to seeing you onboard.

Best wishes,


Catrin Asked:
John (Please Reply),

To the Guest who asked about what life is like as a Crew Member….. I suggest she take the “Behind the Fun” Tour!! This tour was recently a highlight on my 11th Carnival Cruise. We not only got to visit the Crew Areas, Dining Rooms, Lounges, Storage, Galley, Engine Control Room… and most impressive …. The Bridge!

Although my husband Steve and I considered ourselves to be knowledgeable and experienced Carnival Cruisers, we learned so much and gained much more appreciation for everyone who works so hard to make our vacations perfect! We are getting ready to book our 12th … for this August… and then our “LUCKY 13th” for our 20th Anniversary in 2012. Our 1st was on our Honeymoon in 1992 – on the Ecstasy… with you!!

Cathy from Rhode Island

John Says:
Hello Catrin,

Another wonderful recommendation for the Behind the Fun tour which as you said really does give you an insight to what happens behind the crew only door. Congratulations on booking cruise number 12 and I thank you so much for your loyalty. If there is anything you need please let me know.

Best wishes,


BayonneNJ Asked:

We will be going on our 7th Carnival cruise on the Conquest May 8th. Need a table for two arranged. My wife does not like loud obnoxious people and from what I have read on your blog and on cruise critic that this describes the Texans who vacation on this ship. So need that table for two and it’s our 10 year wedding anniversary so if you can it would be good if you sent us something to celebrate our special occasion. We are in cabin 6349.

John Says:

Well, please do not believe what you have read. I know there have been one or two comments portraying the guests of Carnival Conquest in a bad light but I promise you that these comments are not true……….absolutely not true. You will have fun and if you allow yourself to you will meet many new friends and discover that Texans and the other guests who vacation on the Carnival Conquest are brilliant fun. I will send you something and do my best to arrange a table for two for you.

Best wishes and happy anniversary.


Paula Majerus Asked

Hi, just found your blog searching for carnival cruise stuff. I am looking for old commercials. Like from the mid 90’s. I am doing a project on marketing for my high school exams and am talking about Carnival. Do you know if they are online somewhere?

Thanks so much

John Says:
Hello Paula Majerus,

Welcome to the blog thingy we are all glad you joined the 9 million plus readers who have clicked on the blog over the past few years. I think you may be referring to the Kathie Lee Gifford commercials and if so maybe these are the ones you are looking for?

Good luck with your project and let me know if you need any more help.

Best wishes,


Jason Asked:
Hello John (Please Respond)

We are booked on the Magic for its transatlantic voyage. We recently got off the Dream and Butch told us that he might be on the ship, but for the transatlantic voyage only. After looking at the cruise director schedule, it looks that you are probably going to be the cruise director.

Is there any possibility of Butch being on the ship with us? I have always had a fantastic experience with him. If not, we are looking forward to doing the transatlantic with you.

Thanks and see you soon.

John Says:
Hello Jason,

Yep, I am afraid you are stuck with me mate and I can understand if you are disappointed because Butch is a brilliant CD. I will do my best to make the voyage a very special one for you though. See you soon.

Best wishes,


Sean Asked:
John, Post if you feel like it!

I wanted to compliment your response to the pinhead from Hollywood JJ. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to maintain the civility that you did answering to this moron who thinks, like all of Hollywood, that his opinion somehow matters more than yours because..After all…he’s an actor. I love the way he suggested that someday his name will be a household name. What a frickin egomaniac. Pardon me, but as he was so willing to point out to you what’s wrong with one British comedian… I feel compelled to apologize for what’s wrong with America. Very simply….…we’ve become a nation where by the opinions of actors carry more weight than the individual. But because we don’t appear on television, our opinion can’t possible be worthy.

So let’s put Mr. JJ in perspective. He’s probably as talented as some of the low life “reality” stars of our time. People, who help waste our lives by having us sitting around getting fat eating Bon Bons, watching their hapless attempts at creating meaningful entertainment. John, your blog is yours. And because my opinion matters as much as that twits, I’ll spread the word to the people I know to go and enjoy a Carnival cruise with you. Bathroom/underpants humor and all. I’m sure I can reach as many people, and in a more meaningful way, than this “actor”! You may now kiss my ring!!

John Says:
Hello Sean,

I just had to post this as it gives me a chance to say a huge thank you for your kindness and I hope that you and get to sail together one day soon.

Best wishes,


That’s mostly all for today with the exception of one more which I will post at the end.

Now and then I get the honour of sharing the stunning work of our senior fleet photographer Radu Ursu. He will be joining me on your Carnival Magic and that means you will see some spectacular photos of the ship and the ports of call. Radu is currently on the Carnival Glory and I wanted to share the photos he took of the moon three days ago from the top deck of the ship. I think you are going to be flabbergasted by these……………….so here they are.

Brilliant photos …………I hope you enjoyed them.

And here’s my mate Vance to tell you about some exciting news that took place over the weekend in Jacksonville.

An Arkansas eighth grader starting her spring break vacation with her family on the Carnival Fascination became the one millionth passenger to embark on a cruise through JAXPORT’s Northside terminal this weekend.

Emily Wilt of Siloam Springs, Northwest Ark., drove 12 hours with her parents and older brother to board the ship and was identified as the one millionth passenger by the terminal customer service crew shortly after embarkation began.

Emily received a number of gifts and perks from Carnival and JAXPORT, including a commemorative plaque and special VIP treatment throughout their five-day cruise, which includes stops at the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay and Nassau.

“I was really excited about our cruise before, but now it’s going to be even better,” Emily told reporters following a short ceremony outside the cruise terminal.

Carnival Fascination Hotel Director Andrew Mace welcomed the Wilts aboard, recognizing Emily and the important milestone being reached. JAXPORT Senior Director David Kaufman thanked Emily and her family for choosing to cruise through Jacksonville and JAXPORT’s cruise terminal.

The JAXPORT cruise terminal opened in 2003 and the Carnival Fascination launched the port’s first year-round cruise program in September 2008.  The 2,052-passenger ship offers four-day cruises to Freeport and Nassau in the Bahamas, and five-day cruises to Nassau and Half Moon Cay or Key West.  Carnival carries an estimated 170,000 passengers annually from Jacksonville.

I got a postcard today from a friend who is on holiday in Australia. You remember postcards don’t you and it reminded me to tell you some news one of the beards told me last week. It appears we are seeing more postcards being mailed through the guest services desk than we have for many years. I find this brilliant news.

Most of the people writing out the postcards could e-mail instead, or send a bloody text on their sophisticated Eye Phones but no…… they choose the postcard instead.

Perhaps it’s a form of bragging ……..“I’m on a cruise and you’re not” type of thing but it is also a long overdue and welcome return to the poetic art of putting pen to paper. There is nothing nicer than receiving a communication that involves ink and a stamp – it’s like finding a tiny present in the mailbox of a morning and it hardly ever happens any more. Even love letters are delivered via e-mail and all the mailbox has to offer most mornings are bills and menus from the local pizza joint.

I hope that this newfound love of the postcard eventually translates into a rediscovery of the joys of letter writing because whatever you can say in person, or electronically, is 100 times more wonderful if it’s written down – even if it’s only………”Wish You Were Here.”

Now I want to turn things over to my friend and fellow CD Big Tex who has a wonderful tale to tell…………over to you mate.

Hey John,

First off, let me apologize for the tardiness of this e-mail. I probably should have done this a week ago, but, it’s been a busy time. Nevertheless, I had to tell you about two very cool ladies I met last cruise.

As always, on the first night, I work my way through the crowd meeting and talking to people at the Welcome Aboard Show. There are always lots of interesting stories and lots of interesting people. But as I got to the end of the front row, I met Jan and Carolyn. Jan and Carolyn are two friends, whose sons grew up playing sports and going to school together. After their boys grew up, they became travel buddies. That’s not what made them interesting though. What made them interesting, is that there last cruise was on the Carnival Splendor leaving Long Beach on November 7, 2010. As you know all to well, that cruise was, well for lack of a better term, quite eventful.

Almost instantly I got a lump in my throat as I readied for an uncomfortable moment in front of 1,200 or 1,300 people. Instantly, as a defense mechanism, I made some joke that wasn’t very funny, and just made things more uncomfortable for me.

But, Jan and Carolyn began to talk, and as they talked, all the tension eased. Because even though these women had plenty of reason to be upset, all they could do…..…was brag. Brag about the crew of the Carnival Splendor, brag about how Carnival handled the whole situation, and of course brag about the great job the cruise director had done in the face of crisis.

When the fire happened, I (selfishly, I admit) was glad that it hadn’t happened on the Carnival Triumph. Of course, I thought about you, Captain Cupisti, the crew and the guests onboard the Splendor. But even though I knew many people over there, the whole thing seemed very distant. Throughout the course of the voyage, I spoke at length with my two new friends. Not once ……. even one tiny, little, bitty time…did Jan and Carolyn have anything negative to say. That’s when I realized (again) why I love working at Carnival. Meeting people like Jan and Carolyn. They’re why we do the job. To make people happy. And finally, the Splendor fire seemed not so distant anymore.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know that even now, months after the event, the spirit of the crew, the generosity of the company and the calm of the cruise director still lives on. But what’s surprised me even more, is how the spirit of our guests…….still inspires me. In fact, it’s inspired me to not complain about not being able to grow a proper beard! I’ve attached of photo of the ladies and me (which will help you understand the beard comment, which has since been shaved).

I would like to tell you one last thing though, Jan wanted to let me know, that she never, not once …..….even one tiny, little, bitty time…had to eat Spam. She did say that she had a Pop Tart, but she wished it would have been strawberry because that’s her favorite flavor.

OK, I’m lying, she didn’t even complain about that.

Take Care,


Thanks mate. I am truly humbled by what Jan and Carolyn had to say and thank you so very much for taking the time to share their story with us all. I hope you stay inspired for many years to come and thanks for all the brilliant work you do as CD. Cheers mate.

Well, I have one more question I need to answer and here it is.

Oliver K Asked:

I am an occasional reader of your blog and would like to suggest that during all the sadness and misery that has happened to the Japanese people that you think about refraining from your normal talk about bodily functions etc. There is a place for humor but is there not a time and a place when it is inappropriate? This is not a statement it is a question and here is another. Where you on a Carnival vessel during 9/11 and if so did you continue your shows? I have never sailed with you but I am guessing your on stage persona is similar to your writing style and if that is the case, did you continue to try and be “funny” then? I would be grateful for an answer.


Oliver K
Cape Girardeau, Missouri, United States

John Says:
Hello Oliver,

Well obviously I have moved your posting to today’s blog as it is certainly relevant and I thank you for taking the time to write it. I have been sitting here at the computer for the last 30 minutes typing my answer and then deleting it again because I was not happy with my answer…..because your question deserves the best answer possible.

You know, last week my newspaper had a photo in it that I cannot get out of my mind. It was of an elderly Japanese man. He was probably in his seventies. About my Dad’s age. The camera lens had caught him in close up. I could see every detail of his grief and despair as he faced a life that would never ever be the same again…..a life that was for the most part…….over. I don’t know him but it really got to me and writing about bottoms really didn’t seem the correct thing to do.

Yes, I was on the Carnival Triumph during 9/11and it was a quite impossible decision whether or not to try and continue with the shows and entertainment. Do so and be branded as inappropriate and offensive. Cancel the shows and well…….the bastards have won. On land late night talk show hosts cancelled their broadcasts and the comedy clubs were deserted. I think it was the first time I had thought there might be a moment when people gave up on smiling. In the end, we carried on and the response to the shows and the feeling of togetherness on board was to this day, incomparable.

I remember visiting the ground zero about a year after that terrible day and amongst all the other emotions I felt I remember seeing a sign in a nearby restaurant. I can’t remember the name of it but I remember the sign in the window that simply said: “Osama Bin Laden missed us. Don’t you make the same mistake.”

So Oliver, there is no definitive answer to your question. The earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, the conflict in Libya and the mostly unreported hell that happens each and every day in Africa are terrible………but should we stop laughing at ourselves and each other? No. Not in my opinion. I grow more serious as I get older as I worry for Kye’s generation, but I doubt I will forget about the need for laughter. It is the most universal of languages……….. and one we should all try to speak more fluently.


Your friend,


Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.