Moody Blues

May 10, 2011 -

John Heald

Something has happened to Carnival Cruise Lines these past few years because the beards have decided to add a bit of thrill to the mixture of fun. I say this because the SkyCourse where guests walk high above the deck on a rope has been an extraordinary hit. I know that my shoreside colleagues have for years been trying to get something like this on the ship but for whatever reason it never got off the ground so to speak.

Between bites of tofu and after making sure that we had watch your head/mind your step/don’t jump in the pool or if you do swim in the pool it’s at your own risk signs, the beards came up with the incredible idea of having our guests swing on a rope while enjoying breathtaking and heart-racing views of the sea 150 feet below.

“Let me just get this straight,” I could hear the beards say when they came up with this idea. “You are suggesting that teenagers and Mums and Dads and old people and Latvians should be allowed to play Tarzan on a cruise ship? Ha ha, very funny. Seriously, let me think about that for a moment – you might be on to something. This could be a lot of fun.”

Then some of the senior beards wielded their special powers and put slices of raw cow in their sandwiches and green-lighted this oh so very fun activity. I am so glad they did and so are the 1,000 plus guests who used the rope swing course last cruise. Next up, naked bungy-jumping from the smoke stack.

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

Brad Hodgson (Canuck Cruiser) Asked:

Hey John,

Can you tell me who or what department to contact with regard to updating our cruise history? We are missing some cruises and next Feb. 2012 will be our platinum cruise and we don’t want to miss it.



John Says:
Hello Brad Hodgson,

I have sent your request to a colleague so we can try and work this out for you. We need to make sure your platinum reward is ready and waiting for you next year so please leave this with me and I will have someone contact you. Best wishes.


Craig Metcalf Asked:
John reply please,

We have a large CRUISE CRITIC ROLL CALL for the 5/28 sailing of the Dream. We will need a big area to meet and can you have this confirmed for the 1ST SEADAY at 2:00pm. This will be my second cruise on the Dream and I know the ship well and we DONT WANT THE POKEY ROOM AT THE BACK OF PROM DECK! The PIANO BAR would be ideal. I know Carnival and you are not lovers of CRUISE CRITIC but remember there are approx 100 OF YOUR CUSTOMERS in this group and so maybe a visit by the CRUISE DIRECTOR AND CAPTAIN would be a good business decision.


John Says:
Hello Craig Metcalf,

If I had a time machine I would use it for many things including traveling back in time to just before the chap who invented email realised what he had done and give him the good news with a hammer so when he woke up he would do so with amnesia and email would not exist and I therefore would have more time to stare at Latvian bottoms. I would also travel back in time to search out whom, when or where this boring bollocks of a subject about me hating Cruise Critic came from and stop it from ever festering. I have contacted the Carnival Dream by the way Craig and they just wrote me this message back.

Sent: MONDAY May 9, 2011 8:55 PM
Subject: Re: Cruise Critic Group


I have already booked a group for that cruise at 2 pm in the piano bar as per a previous email. Is this another group? Do you need me to book a separate lounge?



So Craig, please can you confirm is this the same group? I will for now keep the Cruise Critic meet and greet at 2 pm as Butch described and I am sure he will do his best to stop by if his schedule permits. I wish you and all the group a wonderful cruise and hope to hear all about it when you get home. Best wishes


Dawn Asked:
Hi John,

Just wanted to let you know what a great staff you have on Ecstasy in Galveston. The short cruises don’t suit us for a variety of reasons, but Ecstasy is a pretty little ship-I really like her; would like to see her themed somewhere if the business model could stand it. Steve Cassel’s a good CD- I would love to see you- you character!

John Says:
Hello Dawn,

It has been many years since I was a CD on the Carnival Ecstasy and yet I have so many happy memories of my time there. It is great to read that she and her crew are still giving our guests a brilliant cruise vacation and I shall make sure that they see your words of praise. I will hope to sail with you one day as well. Sorry it has taken so long to answer your question. Best wishes


One Step Beyond Asked:

Hello John,

I am an alcoholic and I am very worried about my first cruise experience which is just around the corner. My husband and me will be on the Paradise in May and I need to ask if there are any Bill W meetings and if not if you could please please arrange them for me. I will be surrounded by booze and people drinking and have been clean now for 8 months and this will be my biggest test so far.

Thanks John.

John Says:
Hello One Step Beyond,

I don’t drink alcohol at all and as a non-drinker I receive many strange looks when I refuse a drink. However, I cannot imagine how someone who has struggled with an addiction to alcohol must feel when surrounded by those who are drinking. I think you are very brave and even though I don’t know you, I am proud of you. I hope this reaches you before you sail as you didn’t put what date your cruise is. I can understand how concerned you must be so please allow me to assure you there will be Friends of Bill W meetings and these will be listed in the Fun Times which is your daily cruise program. I hope you have fun and I hope most of all you stay strong.

Best wishes to you and your husband.


Sam H Asked:
John – Please can you reply?

First of all let me say I love your blog and Facebook page and I am not surprised you have so many followers as you are a great writer. Now I have been nice can I ask you for a huge favor. We will be sailing with you on the Magic on June 3rd and my son who will be with us will 2 weeks later head for his second tour of Afghanistan with the USAF where he is a helicopter pilot. It will be his 30th birthday on June 7th when we will be in Naples and I wondered if it would be at all possible for you to wish him a happy birthday or play some kind of joke on him in public. His “flying name” is “The Joker” because he is always playing tricks on people and I would love to turn the tables. My sons name is Drake and he will be in cabin 9462 with his wife Jani and son Eric. We are all very excited and if you need anything bringing from the States please let me know.

John Says:
Hello Sam H,

Yes…..absolutely yes. Leave this with me and I will make sure that the tables are well and truly turned on Drake. I am sure you must be very proud of him and I will make sure that after the fun we acknowledge his service as well. I hope you are all getting ready to see this great ship and to have the best cruise vacation ever.

Best wishes to you all and see you soon.


Kathi Liebenthal Asked:

Just returned from my one of the best vacations ever! March 3 sailing on the Carnival Miracle was the chosen trip for 12 retired educators. Every single lady was converted to a Carnival lover! Thank you, John for organizing our dining tables – they were perfect! When I inquired early on the first day about our dinner tables, the maitre d said, “Of course they are what you wanted, I got your email.” Thanks also for organizing a room for our Cruise Critic Meet & Greet. We were blessed with the best cabin steward ever – Daniel Lopez! Every evening we all gathered in our cabin for Happy Hour. Daniel cleaned up after us, and always visited to see if we needed anything else. In the dining room, Bosco and his assistant Mudi were absolutely amazing! They took such good care of all of us! No complaints at all, just a quick inquiry: Why were there no Mardi Gras activities?

Thanks for all you do to help,


John Says:
Hello Kathi,

Thanks so much for the great review and I am going to make sure that everyone you mentioned sees just how special they made your cruise. I know Daniel Lopez and he is indeed a great cabin steward. I am glad the meet and greet went well and I hope Craig Metcalf above has read this. Mardi Gras is a very specific celebration and apart from handing out beads I am not sure what we could do that would make it look and feel like Mardi Gras. Do you have any suggestions? Please let me know. I am very happy you had so much fun and thanks again for writing this great review.

Best wishes,


Starr Willaman Asked:

I know this is information you will be releasing soon but I want to incorporate a red hat group cruise with the blogger’s cruise. Is there any way I can get a date for that cruise so that I can set up my group cruise as well. I know it is an imposition but I really need to get information out to these ladies early. They are all over 50 and some have to budget the funds, me as well.

Thank you for your time.


John Says:
Hello Starr Wilaman,

It’s nice to see your name here on the blog as I know you are also a Facebook reader as well and I thank you for spending your time with me. By now you will have seen the Bloggers Cruise for 2012 will be on the Carnival Magic on March 4. I have cruised with the Red Hat ladies before and I know how much fun they are to have onboard. I truly hope we get to see you and the Red Hats on the bloggers cruise and if you have any questions please let me know.

Best wishes,


Cruise Joe Asked:

I just booked my 7th cruise with Carnival this time on the Fascination and would for once like a table with single women who are not using walkers or wheelchairs. I am a 58 year old single man and my last cruise I was put with three single ladies in their 60s and a married couple from Denver who had been married for 58 years. I read on cruise critic that you are carnivals fixer so get me a table please with younger single women so I can enjoy my meal times. Booking number is ——-

Thank you,

Cruise Joe

John Says:
Hello Cruise Joe,

I have deleted your booking ref number for security reasons and have asked the maitre d on the Carnival Fascination to do his best to seat you with a group of single ladies. I can’t promise this will happen but he will as I said do his best and lucky buggers they will be to. Have a great cruise.

Best wishes,


Carol Thompson Asked:

I want to apologize for taking so long to thank you for making our November 2010 cruise on the Spirit one of the most enjoyable and memorable. On the night that we celebrated my boyfriend’s birthday at the Nouveau Steakhouse, Jen Baxter brought us a bottle of bubbly, a coveted ship on a stick and a special birthday greeting from the both of you. We also received another bottle of champagne from you that was served to us in the main dining room. John (my boyfriend) was so thrilled that you took the time to acknowledge his birthday. We really appreciate it. Again, I apologise for not thanking you sooner.

We hope to one day cruise with you.


Carol Thompson
John Dobbs

John Says:
Hello Carol Thompson,

It is always wonderful to receive a word of thanks and I truly appreciate you taking the time to write. I am grateful to Jen for following up with my request and I hope that your experience will have you sailing with us again soon. My best wishes to you both.


L.J.Jarvis Asked:

I have been 4 Carnival ships and each time I have been shocked at just how few Americans are working there. The staff you have are from third world countries and speak poor English so why don’t you hire more Americans to serve Americans and get better service in that way then.

John Says:

Hello L.J. Jarvis,

Thanks for taking the time to write. You know there was a cruise line that hired mostly Americans and ran a ship called Pride of America. One of the reasons that it is no longer running is because of the huge turnover of staff. Carnival’s waiters, stateroom stewards and the behind the scenes personnel work so very hard and I doubt I could manage to do what they do for a week, let alone for upwards of 6 months. They work hard because the US dollar (which is the currency they are paid in) is so valuable to them back home and the money they earn supports them and their families which I think is admirable. And now to address the English speaking part of your comment. Well, every single crew member has to pass an English speaking exam as set by various government agencies including US Coast Guard. They have to do this for many reasons one of which is to be able to perform during an emergency. I hope this answers your question and thanks for your 4 Carnival cruises and I hope we will see you for number 5 soon.

Best wishes,


That’s it for today and we will return tomorrow with another blog and more Q and A. Just one more thing……………a reply to a comment yesterday.

Hildegard says:

Oh hello my “little” Johnny,

I was talking with some of my girl pals and was wondering if when people get sick and the ships run late arriving and departing do the guests get refunds for what they missed? I hope they do.

Also we wonder why they are charging so much for chicken wings? Why don’t they just give them away lie they do the rest of the food? Does Carnival need money that bad that they charge for a measly chicken wing? Conchs are cheap and all over the beaches in the Caribbean. Why charge for them too? And charging $10 for that Italian Restaurant is ridiculous. It’s just pasta and should be given away free. Just saying. How much longer are the wife and child going to be on the ship? Does Carnival charge for them and their food on the ship? Looks like she is built like her father and is probably a big eater. Just saying.

Love, Hildegard, the lovable one.

John Says:
Hello Hildegard,

You really picked the wrong day to post a comment. While I would have been prepared to discuss the virtues of the Cucina and chicken wings your comments about my daughter have earned you a permanent ban on this blog and the only time anyone ever sees the name Hildegard will be when I refer to something brown and smelly that I have stepped in.

Best wishes….…my arse


Right…….let’s carry on shall we.

Let’s see who is sailing with us this cruise which is voyage MA12051011


As you can see……….the Brits are coming and we are ready with British bacon and sausages and baked beans for breakfast. Fantastic.

Sorry about that, I really shouldn’t pour my emotions out here but my fingers write before I think. OK, got to go now because as bad as my mood is, I have to host what we call a first call plaque presentation. This is where people with medals on their chests and diamonds on their fingers sit and drink our champagne and nibble on canapés and say nice things about having the Carnival Magic in port, usually in a language I don’t understand. I then make a speech that they don’t understand and then the captain and dignitaries exchange plaques and shake hands. When we go to France there will be lots of kissing and lots of need for air freshener.

Anyway, debarkation…… we did our first debark in Barcelona today and it went really well, I mean really, really well. Of course we had 247 vice presidents and directors onboard all of whom wanted to get a handle on what we do and that meant we had to have 129 meetings about something that boils down to clear announcements from me and careful documentation by the guest services folks who by the way are brilliant on the Carnival Magic. It went very well. We started at 5:50am and by 9:30am we had 3,870 guests ashore and on their way home.

One area that has improved and that the guests took advantage of is the new transfer to the airport. This is where guests leave their luggage outside the stateroom and we collect it during the night. The guests are then given one of the first numbers to attach to their luggage which is then placed outside of their cabin door and they will be one of the first people to leave the vessel. When they do they do not have to collect their luggage from the terminal building as it’s already on its way to the airport. Once the guests arrive at the airport they will find their luggage already laid out close by their check in area. The cost of this is $29.99.

Now yes, a taxi will be cheaper especially split between 2 or 3 people but…….and I am not just saying this……….today when I walked Heidi and Kye out to get a cab we had a 45-minute wait for one. That’s because Barcelona is now a major home port for cruise ships. Today there was the Carnival Magic, The Climbing Wall of the Seas and the Costa Pacifica so taxis were at a premium and the wait was as I said…….45 minutes. Heidi paid 35 Euros by the way.

So overall debarkation was excellent and I just finished the welcome aboard travel talk which was not excellent. I say this because our cruise this week is very port intensive and I felt rushed having to cover 5 ports in just 40 minutes before the boat drill/safety briefing started. Anyway, I did my best and here as I am talking about it is the itinerary and the entertainment the guests will see.

There you go, what a fantastic cruise and let’s hope the winds are normal so we can get into Monaco tomorrow. Now guess who else is with us in Barcelona………any guesses………..well have a look at this photo taken from the ship with my Raspberry camera so I apologise if it’s not exactly Radu quality.

Yep, it is the ship that was the Celebration that is now the Grand Celebration owned by Ibero Cruises. The changes our Spanish friends have made have been remarkable and it’s no wonder she is a huge success in the Spanish market. And, for the thousands of you who have many happy memories of your cruise on the “Cele” — as she was known — will no doubt like me be happy to know that she has been able to continue providing enjoyment to her new passengers.

My talk went well and I think between the information on the ports in Europe I managed to have a bit of a laugh with them as well. And it was while I was walking on Promenade just now to my staff meeting that I was stopped by a young lad who had seen the talk and said how funny it was. The lad seemed to be from a less privileged background and had decided to spend the family money on a cruise. This meant that there was no money left over to buy new pants that fit so he was wearing his Dad’s instead which meant that his underpants and indeed the crack of his arse was fully on display.

My friend and Entertainment Staff member Christian who was walking with me told me these are called baggies and it was “fashion.” Fashion my arse or in this case his arse. How can advertising that you cannot afford pants that fit be fashion? How can showing you underpants be fashion? If I was to stand up by the rope swing course with my underpants showing would that be fashion or simply disgusting?

Now this lad had his two cousins with him and they also were unable to afford clothes either. These girls had arrived on Carnival Magic with a belt on instead of a skirt and my father had caught my sister going out in a skirt like that, well you don’t even want to know. Honestly, they were only young were these girls but their skirts were so short it was…… well…….you know. My problem is I have reached the age where I am no longer able to tell how old kids are. I had no idea if the guests I spoke today on the Carnival Magic’s Promenade Deck were18 or 8 ……I didn’t know whether to talk about “Glee” or….”Slappin’ My Bitch Up.”

I am going to stop now. I feel tired and somewhat miserable and that Hildergard comment has my blood pressure up and I can only hope on her next cruise she gets seasick and lockjaw at the same time. Well, I feel like total crap today. The reason I am feeling blue is of course because this morning I stood outside the terminal building here in Barcelona and watched as my girls drove off to the airport in a taxi, Kye’s hand waving at me but her face distraught because she knew that Dadda wasn’t going with her…….again. There are times that I feel like a selfish bastard for doing the job I do. It will be 4 weeks and 4 days before I see them again……..that’s nothing I hear some of you say. Well you may be right but to me its eternity…….and when you have been used to giggles and laughter in a cabin that is now quiet and lonely.

I will be fine tomorrow I know but every time I say goodbye to Heidi and to my darling Kye ……..…. ….. they take a little piece of me with them. So I will say goodnight now and apologise for my moody blues. It’s just that……well………….I miss them terribly.


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.