Famiglia Style

March 22, 2011 -

John Heald

As well as 11,000 plus Carnival fans being able to talk with me and each other, Facebook has allowed some of my old friends from the 80’s to reconnect with me. One of those is a wonderful lady called Samantha who I knew from my days as a spotty 18 year old. Well, she got it in touch with me via Facebook the other day and as soon as I saw her name I could think of only one thing ………………her 18th birthday party held at her house which my mate Alan and I were surprisingly invited to.

Her parents were very wealthy and had a huge house where there would be beer, girls and who knows……maybe enough girls who would be drinking enough beer to want to have rumpy pumpy with me……although that is a heck of a lot of beer. Things though did not turn out how I expected they would and it was though, thanks to Alan, the last party we were ever invited to…. here’s why.

So, there I was dancing away to the sounds of Frankie Goes To Hollywood looking like Richard Simmons with a swarm of bees down his underpants. The beer poured, the music played and every now and then I got to touch a girl called Karen’s thigh as she danced with me. All of a sudden ………..and yes, I swear this is the truth……….all hell broke loose.

I heard laughing mixed with screaming and as I walked into the hallway of the grand house there at the top of the sweeping staircase was Alan…….who had obviously had one beer too many which meant he had had three and now was very, very drunk.

Alan was at the top of the staircase and for some bizarre reason he had his pants and his underpants round his ankles. He then gingerly mounted the banister by swinging one very drunken leg over…….. and at the speed of a geriatric turtle slid to the bottom of the staircase ………and as he did so he shouted “Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.”

Obviously the view was not a pleasant one and when he finally reached the bottom he was met by cheers, laughter, applause and a very angry Samantha. She screamed “What the hell are you doing?” Alan, slowly pulled up his underpants and trousers and in that slightly slurred and oh so familiar voice he said………………….“There was no toilet paper in the bathroom.”

Five minutes later we were on a bus……going home………..never to be invited to a party again.

Let’s better crack on with some Q and A……..here we go.

Karen G Asked:
Dear John, (Please respond)

First, I want to say, I love your blog. I’ve been enjoying going back and reading everything since I discovered the site. Anyway, I am going on my first Carnival Cruise on the Dream on May 21st in I have grown up cruising with my parents on Royal Caribbean, but I’m 23 now and am branching out on my own with my boyfriend and trying out Carnival. My boyfriend has never cruised before and is very concerned because my parents have been telling him horror stories about Carnival They’ve never even been on a Carnival cruise, but there seems to be some competitive loyalty thing going on. I think Carnival will be much more our style and I know we’ll have fun, but I would really like to out-do my parents and come back with a special experience to brag about. Competition can go both ways, eh? One thing I’ve never done is gone on a tour of a cruise ship. I’ve been on a Galley tour, but never on a full ship tour. Is there any way to do a full tour of the ship including the usually restricted areas? I would absolutely love this and it would certainly be a “coup de grace” to my parents!

Thanks John,


John Says:
Hello Olivia and Andrew,

It’s great to know how much you enjoy the blog and next week when I become a cruise director again you will hopefully enjoy the true life stories that the guests provide as they adventure on their Carnival Magic.

Isn’t competitive loyalty fabulous…….especially between family members? I am sure your Mum and Dad have every reason to say they love RCI but to tell horror stories about Carnival without ever actually having taken a cruise with us is surely cause for you to smack their bottoms and put them on the naughty step.

Tell your boyfriend to ignore his mother in law……..not just about this…..but on every subject ……and then to just relax and get ready for the best 7 days he has ever had. We do have Behind the Fun tour which is available onboard and takes a select group of people to the bridge, engine control room and the galley as well as other crew only places. There is a charge for this but it is worth every single penny and then some. So have a wonderful cruise and my best to you and your boyfriend and even Mum and Dad.

Best wishes,


Brett H Asked:
Greetings John, (please reply)

Hope all is well with you and the family, back home. Looking forward to my 8th carnival cruise in April. I received a call one day from my Carnival Vacation Planner about a great special for us interline folks. So I got with some co-workers and friends and we planned a little getaway for ourselves. There will be six of us going on the cruise and we are all looking forward to it. We will be on the Carnival Victory, haven’t been on the Carnival Victory but I have been on her sister ship the Carnival Triumph. I would greatly appreciate if there is anything you can do for the guest I am bringing as this will be her first Cruise, also would appreciate anything you could do for us as a group. I see Karl with a “K” will be our cruise director and can’t wait to say hello to him again, he is an awesome CD.

2 questions for you John…

1) Will this sailing have the “Behind the Fun Tour”?
2) Why did Carnival stop giving past guest the Funnel Pins? Since my first cruise I buy the model ship for each Fun Ship and since my second cruise I have collected each Funnel pin. On my last cruise the guest services desk informed me these are now only available to guest after they have sailed 10 times. I understand they may have changed the way they give the pins out to save some money but if that’s the case can they please make the same pin available to past cruisers for purchase? Sorry but the funky pins in the gift shop are not the same.



John Says:
Hello Brett,

I am sure by now that you and your friends are getting very excited about your cruise on the Carnival Victory and I know you will have the best of times and really enjoy Karl with a K. Regarding the pins, we now provide them only to our Platinum guests. More on this though in the days ahead I promise. The cruise will though offer the Behind the Fun excursion and I know you will all love that. If you send me your cabin number a few days before you sail via my Facebook page I will see what we can do for you as requested. Get ready for a great cruise.

Best wishes to all,


BobbieQ Asked:

John, you may wish to rethink your Facebook strategy because as you can read on this link from Cruise Critic Members Boards there are many who feel you post too much


One member wrote “agree…I had to “unlike” because it’s just too much. Too much underwear talk too. I suggest if you have something that everyone needs to know then do post it on FB but otherwise please stop clogging up everyone in box.

John Says:
Hello Bobbie Q,

I think……..and I may be wrong…….but I have either addressed this comment before here on the blog or on Facebook itself………..I just can’t remember. I do apologise that if for some my posts are too many or contain what some may feel as inappropriate underpants talk. However, FB has become a massive customer service tool for me and unless I start seeing my number of friends drop then respectfully, I am not going to change anything. Thanks for taking the time to write.

Best wishes,


HandH from Ohio Asked:
John Please reply,

John, we are taking our second Carnival cruise in April on the Splendor out of Long Beach. I have a few questions. I read somewhere that the Splendor has a “chicken rotisserie” rather than a Fish & Chips selection. Is that true? I’ll be bummed if there are no Fish & Chips. Anyway, my second question is that we have no sailed out of Long Beach for about 3 years. I remember we had to stand in long mega lines outside of the terminal “dome” before boarding. My question is, has that changed? Is there now seating inside the dome similar to the Miami terminal?



John Says:
HandH from Ohio,

You will love the Carnival Splendor and after her trials and tribulations I can promise you she looks fabulous. Yes you are correct. The ship does not have fish and chips but does have a rotisserie which not serves the best chicken but you must also try the wonderful mac and cheese. Did you know we also have a make your own Burrito Bar now? Well, when I say make your own….we do the “making” but you get choose what goes inside. I tried one during my recent trip and it was fantastic. There is also the Tandoor, The Mongolian Wok, The Grill, The Pizzeria, The Deli and the Grand Buffet featuring our daily Taste of The Nations.

The new terminal at Long Beach has been improved with an $8 million renovation and reports from the ship are that the guests board much quicker than in the past but seating is still limited. And it would be dishonest of me to not admit also that the local Customs and Border Protection processing takes a little longer than other ports so a dollop of patience is required during the debarkation process. I wish you a wonderful cruise and have fun.

Best wishes,


Missie Susan Asked:
John please reply…

I need some help organizing a meet in greet on our cruise on the Legend. There are about 150 of us that have met on the cruise critic message boards. We are booked on the April 10th sailing of the Legend. We will need a room to meet in and have the Captain stop by and will require bar service. I am not sure if I am going about this the right way but have been elected the spokeswoman for the group. Can you put the details in the Funtimes so the whole group can see where it is.


John Says:
Hello Missie Susan,

I will indeed ask the groups coordinator on the Carnival Legend to accommodate you with a reserved room. You didn’t mention when you wanted this so I have taken the first sea day afternoon and asked for the piano bar or similar lounge to be held for you. This will also appear in the Fun Times as you requested. I am sorry that I cannot promise the captain will be able to come but I am sure you will have fun regardless. Please let me know if there is anything else you need.

Best wishes


Mike from VA Asked:

I cruised on the Carnival Fascination the week of 11/5/10. I have been patiently waiting on my email “COMMENT CARD.” This was by far the BEST of my 9 Carnival cruises and I wanted to let the “beards” know it by my comment card……. oh well. Does everyone now receive an “E” comment card or only a select few? Enjoy your blog and looking forward to my “PLATINUM” cruise this year. Best of everything to you and your girls!

Mike from VA.

John Says:
Hello Mike from VA,

The answer is I am sorry to say that the computer program we have randomly selects only some of the people who have cruised and have elected to receive electronic mail. In my humble opinion, this is not a good thing as I know many want to express their views and are not getting cards. Please, if you or anyone do not get cards and have words of praise or indeed suggestions for improvement, please use this blog or Facebook and I will make sure the right people see them. I am so glad this was a great cruise and many congratulations on your Platinum status.

Best wishes to you and your family


John Gatto Asked:
John (please reply)

Researching The Chef’s Table I was under the impression that the experience offered cocktails (wine included) as described below. Information on CC indicates that only wine is included and that a pre-dinner cocktail would cost extra.

So I come to the one who knows all 😉 (Or can find out) to get the real story!

A search on Carnival’s news site (http://carnival-news.com/) turns up this:
Carnival Cruise Lines has completed the fleetwide rollout of its exquisite and exclusive fine dining experience, The Chef’s Table, which is now available on all 22 of the line’s ships.

Launched as a pilot program last year, this one-of-a-kind culinary experience includes a sumptuous multi-course dinner hosted by one of the line’s master chefs along with a private cocktail reception and a personalized tour of the galley.

With The Chef’s Table, a select group of 12 guests enjoy cocktails and hors d’ouevres hosted by the ship’s chef de cuisine. The chef then takes the group on a tour to see the galley in operation, providing participants with a unique perspective on Carnival’s extensive food and beverage operations.

The evening concludes with a sumptuous full-service dinner with delicious appetizers, entrees and desserts created by the line’s master chefs. Depending on the vessel, the meal takes place in non-traditional dining venues throughout the ship – the galley, library, conference center, etc.

The program can be booked on board through the ships’ guest information desk. The cost is $75 per person.
Keep up the great blog thingie!



John Says:
Hello John Gatto,

Yep, this was a bit of an error by the beards and was recently pointed out to me by someone on Facebook as well. It has now been changed to champagne and hors d’ouevres with the word cocktails being taken out. Sorry for any confusion and I hope you get to experience this brilliant event very soon.

Best wishes,


Cherrie and Lionel Asked:
Hey John ,

Is there ever anytime where there are no children on the Carnival boats. My husband and I are retired and do not want to be around lots of annoying rug rats during our vacation. We live in Sarasota and are looking at the Dream from Port Canaveral or the Legend from Tampa. Is there a time you can GUARANTEE there will be no kids on the ship? You should do a kid free ship, it would be full every week. There are lots of people like us who just don’t like children! Thank you in advance for your prompt reply.

John Says:
Hello Cherie and Lionel,

The simple answer is no. Carnival is proud to be the most popular cruise line for families and therefore we always welcome them to our ships. I will say that some periods of the year there are more children travelling than other times but at no time do we not have children on board. Honestly though, I don’t think that they would affect your enjoyment of the cruise would they ……………. really? The entertainment facilities we have for them these days are wonderful and they are really occupied throughout the cruise. Please let me know if you have any more questions.

Best wishes,


Doctor Kent W Asked:

John (please reply) –

I am new to this blog and am so glad I found the link on Cruise Critic! Your name is mentioned a lot over there you know. I was reading back to a posting from a few days ago where you directed someone else to applications for entertainment positions. I was wondering how one applies for a position as a Doctor? I am resident in a hospital in Toronto, Canada and am thinking of spending some time at sea and where better than Carnival?

John Says:
Hello Doctor Kent W,

Welcome to the blog. They are unsung heroes for sure on cruise ships and one of those is the medical department whose Doctors and Nurses save so many lives. If you go to www.cclcareers.com you will find all the information you need on possibly joining this great company. If you have any further questions please let me know and if this site is not clear then also let me know and I will direct your information to the correct people.

Best wishes Doc,


PS – if I get you a job will you have a look at my hemorrhoids for me?

Charlie Franklin Asked:

I have a question we did 12 cruises so far with Carnival and we are planning one day to do a world cruise but we never took Cunard does pass guest counts as a Carnival cruiser? Or do we have to cruise on Cunard to qualify as a pass guest before we book our world cruise to get a better deal.

Thanks Carole Mace

John Says:
Hello Charlie Franklin,

12 Carnival cruises, that’s brilliant and let’s start by saying thank you so much for your loyalty. And now it seems you are ready for the most amazing cruise voyage possible…..a World Cruise. Well, unfortunately even though Cunard are part of the Carnival family our loyalty programs are very different and therefore are not interchangeable. Please though don’t let that stop you taking this once in a lifetime voyage. If you would like more information on current rates and details of the ships would you let me know and I will have a mate from Cunard send you the details or call you for a chat. Let me know and I remain at your service

Kind Regards,


Patty Klein Asked:
Hi John – Reply if you have time

I am currently aboard the Carnival Freedom and have only 10 minutes left of expensive internet time to type on your blog thingy. I have to pass on a message to you from my husband. Today he played in the Blackjack tournament with Ryan, our CD. My husband was very happy to report to me that although Ryan is an excellent blackjack player (Ryan said to say that), my husband beat him by $100. We are so excited that we get to take home a beautiful whale tale bank/cup in carnival red white and blue. Of course we would rather have a ship on a stick, but this is supposedly a rarer find.

It has been a wonderful cruise. Our dining times were messed up the staff made it right. The ports were fun and a bit educational. I have to commend the whole Carnival staff for their professionalism and concern since we made 2 adjustments to this cruise because of passenger illness. We have a large population of older Veterans on board and they sure deserve the best care. We had an unplanned stop in Grand Cayman tonight to get attention for someone. I am pleased that Ryan asked for prayers for this passenger over the PA system. I hope everything turns out ok. I am probably paying by the minute now, but wanted to let you know that our 4th Carnival cruise is another vacation success!

Patty Klein

John Says:
Hello Patty Klein,

It’s posts like this that give me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Thanks for writing from the ship and my apologies for the delay with this reply. Ryan loves to host the blackjack tournament and I do here he is quite the player. But not as good as Mr Klein and that is something I congratulate your husband on. We have recently added a veterans meeting on each and every cruise and it is so very, very important that we acknowledge their service, which allows all of us the freedom to cruise. I hope you had fun.

Best wishes to you both


So, let’s talk Italian food shall we. Obviously I have been privileged to travel to many parts of Italy with the various ships and being in the ship yards and eating with Italian captains in their dining rooms on board has given me a wonderful insight to their culture and their food. I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of Italian cookery though. Two reasons why. First of all there is the pasta which when you are trying to lose weight and when you are diabetic and need to control carbs …………..well Italy and her pasta are not your best mates. The second reason I am not a fan is garlic. I hate garlic. I would rather eat a dead hamster that has been marinated in my underpants for a week…………then eat anything with garlic in it or on it.

Now I can see some of you bloggers sitting there, in your underpants, saying “John, you are an idiot, garlic is wonderful.” No………..it’s not……….it’s revolting. Not just the taste…..but the smell. God, the smell. Try coming onto the bridge of a ship early in the morning and have the Captain talk to you inches from your face after eating a huge dish of pasta de garlicbastardo the night before . I’d rather be sprayed in the face with Mace or have a cattle prod shoved up my arse.

Well, I guess I have to say that I am probably in a minority when it comes to garlic and I am sure also that there is going to be lots of it at a very special restaurant on your Carnival Magic. Yep, I am talking about Cucina del Capitano, the new family style Italian restaurant on your Carnival Magic.

Now I will be publishing a full version of the menu soon but here is a small taste of what you will find there.

Appetisers will include:

  • Calamari Fritti (fried calamari)
  • Arancino and Parmigiana de Melanzane (eggplant parmigiana).

Sample entrees include:

  • Pollo Parmigiana de la Cucina (chicken parmigiana)
  • Gamberetti Pizzailoa (shrimp pizzaiola)
  • Brasato Al Barolo (braised short ribs)
  • Spaghetti Carbonara
  • Nonna’s Linguine & Meatballs
  • Salmone Griglia (grilled salmon)
  • Bistecca alla Griglia (grilled steak)
  • We are also offering a unique spaghetti and clams entrée named Il Baccio del Mare by past guest, Ted Fazioli, who won our online contest.

Desserts include (but are not limited to):

  • Tiramisu
  • Sicilian Canoli.

Now here is the best bit, the cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children, which is quite a bargain.

Reservations will be open via the blog but not yet…………please don’t send them in yet as I need to post opening times and get a little more information on this once I am onboard.

Now the idea of this is not just to serve the best Italian food and the most absolutely ridiculous price anywhere……..in the world……….but for you to sit around the table and eat it family style. And that just doesn’t mean that we will serve the pasta in big steaming bowls, no, it means that if you are the Smith family from Florida, you have to become the Rossi family from Florence. If there’s a nation that knows how to enjoy good food better than the Italians, I’ve yet to meet them. Nowhere else have they made the family meal such an art form?

You’ll find whole generations from the grandmother in her black shawl to the babies being passed from lap to lap sitting around the same table chatting and eating, and eating and chatting, the noise of their conversation increasing with every course. Being an Italian family also means that you all have to have at least one argument at the table……because in Italy…….that is the law.

You know, Italians often sound as if they’re having a vicious argument, even when they’re discussing football, cars or rumpy pumpy. Yet these arguments are not really arguments, they are conversations spoken passionately.

It strikes me that in Britain and America we’ve lost that ability to have a proper heartfelt, and yet still civilised, disagreement. When we fall out with a stranger on the blog, Facebook or on Cruise Critic our two modes seem to be either simmering moody resentment, or all out nuclear F-word attack. Silence or aggression…………..that’s it.

Anyway, I encourage to think Italian when you are at Cucina del Capitano and that also means that your clothes cannot match and as the ship sails from Naples to Venice you pinch yourself about the delicious food you are eating on such a beautiful ship and that your family are the most important thing in your life. After the meal you take a walk on the deck. The summer breeze blows gently across the Mediterranean. Life is good, life is in fact wonderful at the moment because you are together on a wonderful ship with wonderful people. The kids are having fun at Camp Carnival and now you stand by the railings and hold hands, silent, no talk is needed because you both know how lucky you are. And then as you look into your wife’s eyes, passion takes over and you lean in to let your lips meet hers. And then suddenly you pull back…….and vomit over the side of the ship ……. “Bloody hell woman,” you say…………”will you eat some sodding Tic Tacs?……….you breath stinks of garlic.”


Your garlic free 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.