Smoking Saved This Blog

May 11, 2011 -

John Heald

Good morning and let me start by saying how very sorry I am about my mood of yesterday. While I made sure my dejection didn’t manifest itself on stage in front of the guests I did expose you all to it and for that I am very sorry. No apology to Hildegard though who can get back on her broomstick and bugger off forever.

So here we are in Monte Carlo or Monaco which considering this is the second smallest country in the world after the Vatican. Are they one in the same thing? The view from my cabin window is extraordinary though as I have a view of the harbor and the famous casino and the Formula One track which in a few weeks time will be hosting the most famous race in Europe. Yep, Monte Carlo is a place like no other but in all honesty it’s not my cup of tea and when I ask guests what their favourite port of call on this itinerary was…….a few will say Monte Carlo. Yes, it’s a place you should see but it’s all a bit too poncy for me……….for a definition of the fabulous English word poncy please go to

Heidi and I were here on Carnival Liberty’s and Carnival Freedom’s seasons in Europe. I remember one time we had lunch in the famous casino which seemed to be full of women who were in the company of men who learned their English from baddies in James Bond films and meet in bars at night to sell one another AK 47s. The staff looked at us and after realizing we weren’t members of the machine gun club or anyone famous, they treated us with distain and total and utter rudeness. The only time our waiter smiled was when he gave us the bill…I truly believe he thought that I wouldn’t be able to afford it….. and he wasn’t far wrong. Yep, this is a playground of the rich and tanned for sure and I am not rich and my thighs are lilly white.

Of course Monte Carlo is where the rich and tanned keep their toys. Steve Apple keeps his yacht here and I cannot imagine what that must be like. You can dock your boat anywhere you want from here to St. Tropez. That would be brilliant wouldn’t it, docking your boat by any beach you want in and there’s no wandering around forever trying to find a big enough spot to sit down. There’s no sand in your sandwiches and every time you wake up you from a nap in the sun you are not confronted by loads of naked people and the unedifying spectacle of a retired French thingy. And no chair hogs either!

You have your own fridge, your own air-conditioned shelter from the sun, you have a bed with sheets for a lie down, and when the sun sets you don’t have to walk back to a superheated car for the 4 mph trudge back into town. You go for an evening cruise. Then, that night, you casually mention to one of the girls in the Monte Carlo casino that you have a boat in the harbor and its rumpy pumpy time.

Once, acquiring the trappings of a billionaire lifestyle was easy. You bought a few houses, an Aston Martin, a Bentley GTC and a Mercedes S600, a Gulfstream plane and a yacht. And not just any yacht. Now you must have a “mega yacht.” These are between 300 feet and 600 feet and come with Latvian supermodel crew and decks made of whale foreskin. Yep, this is a world experienced by the few and unless you are a Trump or a Prince Sultan Bin Aluckysod you never will. But today, amongst all the mega yachts is your Carnival Magic……and today she is the star of the show.

Time for today’s Q and A………… we go.

Fredrick Croucher Asked:

The problem with the blog is that you make promises you cannot possibly keep as shown when I asked you for my table for two persons on my Freedom cruise. This was never responded to nor did we get our table. Today in your blog there was another comment that felt as I do ( and I am positive many more Carnival customers do as well) that you need to stop writing the endless references to your bodily functions and spend more time offering some sort of professional customer service. I will be back with Carnival again in November and am asking you now to arrange a table for two and this time I hope you will have the courtesy to arrange this. Here are my details which I ask are not made public.

John Says:
Hello Fredrick Croucher,

Thanks so much for passing on your observations. I get many requests each and every day both here and on Facebook and I always do my best to make sure they are taken care of. But sometimes they slip by me and I am very sorry that yours did just that and you didn’t get your table for 2. I removed your details as requested but have asked the maitre d on the Carnival Pride to keep a note on file for your table request and I will do the same. At this point I do not see myself changing the current style of the blog and will continue to keep a blend of information, help and fun which I hope you will enjoy.

Best wishes,


Nancy K Asked:

We sailed on Carnival Freedom 1/15/11. Special Needs Dept. was very helpful before the cruise, since I recently starting using a rolling walker. We had YTD and loved it. Food was excellent. The entertainment was superb, especially Ticket to Ride. Comedian Carl Strom was very funny. The crew members who made our cruise so special:

WIRA, GILBERT, NILO – dining room waiters. Fantastic and funny.
Made dinner fun.

JOGI – Maitre’d, very pleasant, friendly, always eager to help me carry trays in the buffet too (he spoiled me)

AUGUSTO – cabin steward. Did a fantastic job and called us by name.

RYAN – CD. Great job. Loved hearing the updates about events happening on the ship, and his messages were not at all excessive.

DAN – assistant CD. Hope he becomes a CD some day.

CALVIN – very funny, great with trivia.

John, please be sure that these fine crew members are recognized for making our anniversary cruise so special.

Nancy K.

John Says:
Hello Nancy K,

Thanks so much for this wonderful review and I will absolutely make sure that everyone mentioned sees your words of praise. Calvin is here with me on the Carnival Magic and it’s obvious why he is so popular because he is personal, engaging and very funny. I will also pass on your thanks to our excellent and often unheralded special needs department. So thanks to you once again for taking the time to tell me about the people that made such a difference to your cruise vacation. I hope we see you again soon.

Best wishes,


Paula Asked:

Something has been bothering me since my husband Scott’s 42nd birthday cruise 8/14/10. As a present from my daughter I ordered a windbreaker from Bon Voyage in size 2XL. The attached order said 2XL, but they delivered an XL. We were told to contact the assistant Maître’d for an exchange. By the time we found her the ship had sailed. None of the correct size was available. We returned the XL for a refund. We were then told to contact Bon Voyage to have one sent to our home address. We got home, called and were told they couldn’t do that – merchandise was distributed through the ships. I expressed my disappointment and was told that Bon Voyage couldn’t do anything about it-it was the ship’s problem. Getting the picture? The experience wasn’t traumatic (we are cruising with Carnival in May & in August). It has just been in the back of my mind since we (and my daughter in particular) were so disappointed. Thanks for letting me rant.


Paula Clausi

John Says:
Hello Paula,

This is the place to rant and this is just not good enough. If you ordered a size then that’s the size you should get. I truly appreciate you letting me know and I am so very sorry that this was not taken care of and I will make sure it is and that you get exactly what you ordered. Someone will be in touch very soon and please now let me take care of this and you can then relax and look forward to your next cruise.

Best wishes and please send my apologies to your daughter.


Tracy V Asked:

Can you tell me anything about Cruise Director Butch on Dream? We are cruising with him in May and have read some negative stuff about him today on cruise Critic that stated he was over the top and annoying plus other things I won’t write here. We cruised last year with Kirk and Jaime on the Pride and loved them and hope that Butch is better than what people are saying.



John Says:
Hello Tracy V,

I am not sure what you read but I was surprised because I normally hear nothing but great things about Butch. He is quite simply one of the very best we have and a more dedicated and enthusiastic cruise director you will not meet. So rather than me tell you about him, let’s hear from the man himself.


I was born in Spokane, WA and grew up in Stillwater, MN.

I am a graduate of Simpson College in Indianola, IA where I have a B.F.A. in Theater Arts and B.A. in Corporate Communications. At Simpson I was heavily involved in the Theater program as an Actor, Director, and Stage manger and held positions in the undergraduate assistantship program as a Theatre Arts Administrator and Box Office Manager. I was also a liberal arts seminar assistant, helping first year freshman adjust to college life, and a residence life advisor. I am a two time nominee of the Irene Ryan acting scholarship and competed in the Irene Ryan competition for the region 5 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KC/ACTF) in 2000 and 2002. While in college I was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, president of the Interfraternity council, and was named to the Order of Omega, the national Greek honor society. I also have membership in the Alpha Psi Omega national theater honorary society and in 2002 was named Who’s Who Among Students at American Colleges and Universities.

After graduating from college in 2002 I went on to work for Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown, NY as an event coordinator and in 2003 for Apple Farm Arts and Music Center in Elmer, NJ as an Education Outreach Coordinator serving inner city schools in Camden County, NJ.

I Joined Carnival in March of 2004 as a Social Host and was honored to be a part of the start up team on the Carnival Liberty in the summer of 2005. On the Liberty I was promoted to Assistant Cruise Director and in the spring of 2007 was promoted to Acting Cruise Director. I received my full CD promotion this past August on board the Carnival Glory.

Now for the fun stuff…….I am a huge Minnesota Twins baseball fan. I love the Theater and the Opera and try to get to as many productions when I can. I collect hats… fact, when I am not working you will rarely see me without a hat on. I also collect vintage cuff links. I am obsessed with 80’s pop culture…..the music, the clothes, the hair……well, maybe not the hair, but I love all things 80s. I am most comfortable in t-shirts and jeans, but I rarely get to wear them on the ship as I am always in a suit. I love my job and cannot imagine doing anything else with my life right now!

In addition to my job as a Cruise Director, I sit on the Alumni Board of the Theta Lambda Zeta chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, am a Certified Coach for the Impact Leadership program and am a Mentor for the Joseph T. Charles Mentor Leadership Program.

Thanks Butch and please Tracy, don’t miss his dance classes, they are historic! Have a great time and tell us all about it when you get home

Best wishes,


Henry O from Canada Asked:
Please answer

Are you washed in the blood?

In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?

Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?

Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

John, I pray every day for your soul to be cleansed.

John Says:
Hello Henry O from Canada,

I was going to say that my underpants are not white as snow but that is probably something I should keep to myself. I am not sure exactly what you mean by that I “should to be cleansed” but I thank you for thinking of me. Sometimes I need all the help I can get so thanks for your prayers.

Best wishes,


Dan Yarosh Asked:

If you haven’t picked a ship yet for the next Bloggers Cruise. How about the Miracle, 2/22/2012 departure. I’m packed, booked and ready to go; (ok to out of 3) it would be a great way for my wife and I to celebrate our 35th. I blew it last bloggers and missed getting on, we still laugh about the bloggers out of New Orleans we took with you, Tex and the other bloggers.

Best to you and the girls. Hi to all the Stephanies and 2nd cousin Al 4th time removed.


John Says:
Hello Dan Yarosh,

As you probably know by now the Bloggers Cruise number 5 will be right here on your Carnival Magic. I hope one day to be the CD on Carnival Miracle as I never have been and regardless of what ship you cruise on next I send you my best wishes for a very happy 35th wedding anniversary. I do hope though that we cruise together again soon and that we create some more wonderful memories.

Best wishes to you both,


Ken Fargnoli Asked:
Hi John (please reply when you have time)

Just wanted to make sure your great staff got recognized. Just got off the Spirit on Sunday March 6th. Great cruise made especially perfect because of your amazing staff. My Waitress Alexandra Nikolova Ivanova was awesome, friendly, and professional. A couple of the people at our table were challenging and she maintained her great attitude. We loved her. One of the best I have had in our 14+ cruises. The bartender Olivia Alfonso was great too and very friendly and personable. Please let their supervisors know. As you would say “bloody brilliant”. Already booked our next cruise in September on the Glory. One other thing. How about we get the Key Lime pie on the Carnival classics right alongside the Chocolate melting Cake? It’s the best I have ever had including Key West. Best regards.

Ken Fargnoli

John Says:
Hello Ken Fargnoli,

Thanks for the brilliant review and I will make sure everyone gets to read this and thanks for taking the time to send me your thoughts. Key Lime Pie……yep, it’s a classic and maybe we should add it on more nights. I wish you could taste the one here in the RedFrog Pub, I am told it’s outstanding. I will pass your suggestion to the beards and thanks again for taking the time to write and let me know if you need anything before you sail on the Carnival Glory.

Best wishes,


Rebecca Howell Asked:
Hi John,

I truly have enjoyed your blogs and look forward to you being on the Magic for the 6/3 sailing. Question? With all the unrest in Libya right now, will be stopping at all ports planned? Will that area of the Med be safe for cruise line travel?


John Says:
Hello Rebecca Howell,

There was a lot of unrest at the time you posted this Rebecca but I just want to advise that we have no plans to alter our itinerary as we sail in the Med and nowhere near the areas where there have been issues. We will continue on our planned schedule and you will therefore get to see some amazing places. I will see you soon and thanks so very much for the kind words

Best wishes


Scott J Asked:

Just gotten of from the Freedom and had a fantastic time and our waiter Jo and our steward Martins were the best ever. The one down side was the smoking. It was everywhere and the cigar bar stank of smoke and getting to the internet station was impossible. Smokers are killing themselves and others and if I had my way they would be banned from any public place and if they continued to smoke be put in prison. This may seem radical but it would stop the death of millions many of whom are not smokers but breath in the second hand smoke. I could not use the internet all cruise long and that is just not acceptable. Then there is the damage to children. I don’t want my kids subjected to seeing people smoke and the fact that Carnival openly promotes and supports this is disturbing as sights like this will only lead to my children asking about smoking and doing it themselves. Carnival seems to be the only place where smoking is tolerated!

Please respond John.

John Says:
Hello Scott,

We certainly could have and probably should have placed the internet cafes in a better location rather than have guests walked through the cigar bars to get there. I know the beards are really looking into this and let’s see what they come up with. I am so glad you had fun and I will make sure that Jo and Martins see your words of praise and thanks for taking the time to write. I am very sorry about you not being able to get to the Internet Cafe and we will continue to do our best to find a happy solution that pleases both smokers and non smokers alike. I will chat more about this later in the blog Scott.

Best wishes,


Russell Godin Asked:


In 1992 I was on the Ecstasy with two friends and you were the cruise director. During this cruise I meet Donna who was the most incredible woman I have ever met. When I saw her one night in the tight black dress, I fell to my knees, and at that moment I knew this was the woman I was going to marry. She live in Canada and me in the U.S., this made a very interesting relationship. We married in 1994 and have been happily married since. We are currently booked on the Magic with two other couples on the Sept 4th sailing date. During this trip I would like to surprise my wife and ask her to renew our vows on board. I would really like to ask her in front of as many people as possible, I hope she says yes. I have provided my work email address. Oh the reason I am writing to get the chefs table one night. Crap she is coming please let me know

John Says:
Hello Russell Godin,

What a brilliant ending to your post………did she discover your fiendish plan? Please drop me a line when you arrive onboard and leave it at the guest services desk and I will make sure I contact you quietly and we arrange this for you. I am sure she will say yes and I will do all I can to make it special for you both

Best wishes,


That’s all for today. Before we get started let’s take a look at this from my mate Vance in PR:

Carnival’s newest “Fun Ship,” Carnival Breeze, is set to debut in June 2012, introducing Caribbean-inspired interiors and staterooms that take their cue from the region’s cool island breezes and warm tropical sunsets.

Carnival Breeze’s staterooms offer a distinctive island-inspired design theme offering a dramatic combination of bright colors and soothing pastel hues, with iconic images of palm trees and other tropical elements adorning hallway corridors. Contemporary furnishings and light fixtures enhance the stylish atmosphere.

Aside from a colorful new interior design, Carnival Breeze will feature popular “Fun Ship” amenities such as the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub, action-packed SportSquare recreation complex, Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian restaurant, a wrap-around open-air promenade called The Lanai with whirlpools that extend over the ship’s sides, the expansive WaterWorks aqua park, and Ocean Plaza, a stunning indoor/outdoor café and live entertainment venue. More exciting features unique to Carnival Breeze will be announced in the near future.

The stateroom renderings, as well as images of Carnival Breeze’s many features and facilities, are showcased on a special web page at

Carnival Breeze is scheduled to enter service June 3, 2012 with a special one-time voyage from Venice to Barcelona, positioning the vessel for a summer schedule of 12-day Mediterranean voyages through October 25, 2012. Following a 15-transatlantic crossing from Barcelona to Miami, Carnival Breeze will launch year-round six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises from Miami November 24, 2012.

These renderings are brilliant and the Carnival Breeze looks like she’s going to be just spectacular. We’ll be featuring more news on this ship in the months to come.

As I said, we are in Monte Carlo today which has not pleased one guest at all.

Guest: Mr ————Ref: 100305050A ————
Cabin: _____Booking#: ________Added-Changed: 05/011/11 – 05/11/11


Mr. __________came to the desk to say that he was angry and upset that the ship was in Monte Carlo today because he had arranged to meet his brother and family in Livorno. Guest said that the itinerary he had received with his tickets showed Livorno as the port today not Monte Carlo. GSA asked to see the ticket but guest said he had thrown it away. Guest is very upset as his brother and family are on the Royal Caribbean ship that is in Livorno and they had arranged to meet. Guest wanted Carnival to pay for transportation to Livorno. GSA advised that we could not do this and guest left desk using bad language loudly. Mr. ______called the desk from cabin ____ 5 minutes later and demanded to speak with Cruise Director. John will contact guest

And I did, literally 10 minutes ago. Poor chap, actually feel sorry for him as his brother lives in the UK and he lives in North Carolina and they haven’t seen each other for 2 years. Anyway, I let him rant and rave at me for a few minutes and luckily I had let all my frustration out on Hildegardogpoo yesterday as this chap was quite mad. Toward the end though I think he realised that he had made a mistake and he became resigned to the fact that he wasn’t going to get to see his brother.

I arranged for him to use the phone to call his brother which he did and the sad thing is we are in Livorno tomorrow and they would have seen each other. I didn’t want to say that if they wanted to see each other so badly and they were both cruising the same week…….why didn’t they do it on the same sodding ship ……….. preferably this one and not the climbing wall of the seas?

Ron Pass is as always doing a brilliant job in the piano bar here on your Carnival Magic so let’s see who else is entertaining in the piano bars around the fleet.

There you go and on behalf of Laura Divetrash the President of the Piano Bar Entertainers Association I thank each and every one of them for the great job they do. All I have to do now is decide who comes here after Ron leaves……….who deserves the job any suggestions?

Ok, I must be mad. I must be as mad as the maddest thing ever to be mad. I am a nutter. I am one sandwich short of a picnic. I do not have both oars in the water. I do not have all the dots on my dice. Yes I am crazy, I should be given a padded cell and allowed to sit there dribbling on myself Why…….because I am going to talk about smoking……..again. “Oh dear,” I hear you cry. The fat bastards done it now, here he goes again. Quick someone shoot him in the head now and spare us the misery.

You see, I can’t stop thinking about that comment from Scott J who was quite rightly upset about having to pass through the cigar bar to get to the internet cafe. This as I said was a dumb bit of planning on the beards side and we have to find a better place to put the computers. But it wasn’t that which got me typing away once again about smoking, it was the fact that he suggested smokers be put in prison if they didn’t stop. Pretty radical thinking and obviously both wrong and impossible but…………that’s not why I am writing this.

You see, I have been at sea 25 years this August and I have seen so many changes during my time and one of those is to do with smoking. I don’t just mean that in the 80’s and 90’s that you could smoke everywhere, the dining rooms, all the bars and lounges and even in a lifeboat if you wanted … I mean that people’s tolerance to smoking was far greater back then. I was speaking to a colleague about this the other day. He is now a beard with a VP title but worked on ships for many many years and neither of us could ever remember a complaint about smoke or another guest smoking.

Now then we have the comment from Scott about children witnessing others smoke and that this is a terrible thing. And why as always I respect the right to opinion I cannot agree with his …….. so here’s mine. Does a kid seeing a guest smoking really mean that that night at dinner a 10 year old is going to demand a pack of Marlboro Lights with their chicken nuggets? I wonder if Scott allows his kids to see 101 Dalmatians, Peter Pan or Alice in Wonderland in case they imitate Cruella De Vil, Captain Hook or a stoned caterpillar. Anyway, we should be actively forcing kids to watch smoking on screen. A few minutes of Lindsey Lohan puffing on a Camel in a prison cell and, trust me……. they’d never touch a cigarette again.

Yep times have changed for sure and not just for the guests but the crew as well. You should have seen the ship’s bridge back then swathed in a cloud of smoke as captain and officers lit up continuously. Now they are non-smoking of course. Yep, times have changed and I am sure much of this is to do with the information super highway thingy and beardy research. It’s different also here on the Carnival Magic as we don’t have a cigar bar. As an occasional cigar smoker, I still do not understand why we cigar smokers are forced outside every time we want a cigar while cigarette smokers get two areas inside to smoke. Yes, I know that the Dream class has the nice areas at the Lanai but I would be a massive lily white thighed liar if I said I liked it as much as the indoor cigar bars and their oversized leather arse comforting chairs.

So anyway, this leads me into a bit of a squabble I had with the beards about the RedFrog Pub. You see, I wanted to allow cigar smoking outside the RedFrog Pub as well as further forward at The Lanai. “No” said the beards, “cigars must smoked only in the designated area.” Honestly, their reaction was so abrupt it was as though I had asked to sit on a bar stool naked pained red going ‘ribit, ribit, ribit.” And as you know last night I was a bit moody and I decided at 10 pm last night to go to the RedFrog Pub on my own. It was quiet, no guests were outside as it was a bit chilly and in a moment of defiance I lit up a cigar. Immediately, though, I knew that I shouldn’t be there and I quickly moved down to The Lanai in Ocean Plaza which is just 30 sodding feet away. I had a pretty bad day overall and the calming effect of the wonderful seating they have outside on this ship that made me take out a Monte Cristo Edmundo and I sat there thinking of the girls and life, feeling my blood pressure drop ……….ahhhhhhhh. …….My sweet smelling, hand rolled on a Cuban ladies luxurious thigh cigar did just the trick.

I don’t want to give you the impression that I support smoking because I don’t. I am just giving my point of view that’s all. I wonder if one day they will event an electronic cigar? One chap I know who we will call Eric because that’s his name has an electric cigarette. Sucking on it delivers a hit of nicotine and causes the tip to glow blue. It’s like the real thing in the same way that a blow up doll is like Megan Fox but he always brings it out when he is onboard as he is on the Carnival Magic now. But it has helped him kick a thirty cigarettes a day habit and that is to be applauded. Cigar smoking onboard this ship then, has become like a cult or a Masonic Lodge. We have our secret signs. Our equivalent of funny handshakes and code words. We use tricks and nods and winks to establish a bond with other smokers. We coerce them into lighting up first, to gauge the reaction, and then we huddle around the lone ashtray outside on the Lanai, feeling somehow strengthened by one another’s company.

I want to finish today with an apology and I should make it plain that I’m not a mean man but Hildagarddogpoo really got to me which I am sure as it reads this makes it very happy. You see Kye was crying so hard when I said goodbye to her and this had me thinking all sorts of things and I admit right now that there were thoughts, strong thoughts about hanging up the microphone and keyboard and saying goodbye to the job I love and the company I adore. I have never had these thoughts before but they were there last night and wouldn’t go away. But as I sat and smoked my cigar in the fresh Mediterranean air I began to realise that these thoughts would pass and …….they did. You see then even though I know smoking is bad for me and I should stop, I can seriously, hand on heart, promise and swear on all I love that smoking one last night saved me from making a phone call today to Gerry Cahill to say goodbye.

But enough of that because I am back and maybe I was suffering from the Mid Life Crisis thingy and that means it’s OK I guess to be a moody, miserable sod…

Except that its bollocks, isn’t it? Everyone in middle age knows what happiness is. It’s not being twenty something, that overrated era when you have to go clubbing and dating and living in college dorms with roommates who leave marks in the toilet bowl. “Fancy going the Vibe Dance Club?” is something that no one asks you when you’re a 46 year old cruise director and that’s just fine with me.

Who’d go back to still trying to be cool……… the broken hearts after a girl has dumped you for a chap with a six pack and a thingy the size of broom handle. And now they can’t light up their cigar whenever they want, they can’t get jobs or credit. Yep……… today ……………we really did bugger it up for them, didn’t we?

Just to be on the safe side, I ordered a piece of lamb cooked rare – just in case.


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.