June 13, 2011 -

John Heald

Obviously this morning I need to talk about basketball and my Miami Heat and their painful loss to the Dallas Ewings. I am sure the city of Miami, the players, coaches and the owner must be feeling angry, let down, sad, disappointed and yet as a wise man said to me this morning ………. “There is always next year.” Some fans will be taking it harder than others, though and one of those is one of the Miami beards who works in the office and is kind of associated with this blog thingy. He is a massive, massive Miami Heat fan with fan being short for fanatic.

He lives, breathes and loves his team more than anything in the whole wide world which is why he is single and has the love life of a dead hamster. That and the fact that this single, 20 something Carnival employee admitted to me yesterday that in his apartment he has a comforter on his bed with the Heat logo on it and a full size picture of Dwayne Wade.

He has in previous conversations with me mentioned that he gets no rumpy pumpy and now I think we know why……..don’t we? One can imagine the scene as he finally meets a girl and brings her back to his apartment. They tonsil hockey their way to the bedroom ready to unleash their passion when suddenly she sees that he has a Miami Heat comforter with Mr. Wade’s face on it which is only a little less dismaying to her than spotting on his bedside table, a jar of crab cream and some penicillin.

And my bearded colleague is not alone. I remember when my best friend Alan first moved out of his parent’s house into a bachelor pad he took with him his Star Trek comforter. Seriously, if you’re over 18 and still have Captain Kirk on your bed, you should ask yourself whether you deserve to live, never mind get any rumpy pumpy which of course he didn’t although that might have also had something to do with the Klingon in his underpants.

I remember the first time I went to see a basketball game. I was 25 years old and went with the cruise director of the Carnival Fantasy, Gary Hunter, and entertainer Tim Harkleroad. We drove from Miami where the ship was spending 10 days before her inaugural cruise……..we used to do that way back when……….now, of course, the ships go straight into service….

Anyway, taking some time off from the travel agent functions etc, me, the young social host, Gary the industry’s top cruise director (and he still is by the way) and ventriloquist and comedian Tim all got into Gary’s Bronco thingy and headed for his home town of Gainesville, Florida, to see his beloved Florida Crocs. It was my first ever live basketball game. So, we arrived after a long drive and I remember how excited I was to see a live American sporting event, my first and being a college game, the stadium would be full of young college girls who would all have long curly blond hair and have names like Brittney and Meadow. They would be dressed in very short cheerleader type skirts and tight T-shirts with their college emblem festooned across their ample breasts. They would, of course, hear my British accent and would fall in love with me their very own Mr. Darcy and that would be me having some college rumpy pumpy under the bleachers.

Unfortunately, the reality was a little different. The crowd were mostly middle-aged men and women and the only young people seemed to be male all drinking beer out of huge plastic cups. There were no young bosoms anywhere. Then a few rows in front of us was a 40-piece brass band who every time the Florida Alligators or whatever they are called touched the ball or whenever they took one of 345 time outs they would strike up a tune, I couldn’t hear myself think and my ears were ringing for days. Disappointed that there were no college girls to stare at and trying to stop myself from shoving my hot dog down the nearest trumpet, I tried to concentrate on the game. It was mind-numbingly dull. On an unbelievably squeaky wooden floor, two sets of unfeasibly tall men ran from one end of the court to the other like baggy metronomes, dropping the ball into opposing hoops. The score rocketed – 29-28 to 74-72 but I’d lost interest. The big TV screen was randomly selecting people in the crowd. If selected they won an all expenses meal at Taco Bell. We left Tim and Gary were buzzing because the Florida Crocogators won and was left wondering what all the fuss was about.

And that disappointment stayed with me for years. Until I went to see a Miami Heat game back in 2004 and from that time….I was hooked and that’s why I have the Monday morning blues about their loss last night. I am sure the players will rebound and will continue a life of fame and wealth beyond our wildest dreams. I have often wondered about sports stars. When they lose a championship game does that awful feeling stay with them as they climb into their Bentleys and head for their million dollar mansions. The feeling certainly stays with us, the fans, as we drive our ordinary cars and head to our ordinary homes. They have the cars, the homes and the money and as scantily clad girls follow these 20 something millionaires around like schools of fish, I hope they realise the one thing they don’t have…… is that championship ring and that next year they will put that right.

I love my basketball and I love my Miami Heat but not enough to have a Dwyane Wade or LeBron James comforter. Besides what would I do with the one I have now which has a huge photo of Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill on it. He keeps me warm at night.

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

Scott asked:

On our Elation cruise a passenger died. We know this only because our waiter told us. No official announcement was made and we left the boat not knowing what happened. Can you tell me what did happen and what the cause of death was and why more information was not given to the passengers as I think this is bad.

John Says:
Hello Scott,

If a guest is taken ill and we need the services of USCG and it will affect the operation of the ship, we obviously will make sure the guests are informed. However, in the case of a guest passing away from natural causes why would we broadcast that? Obviously Scott this is a very sad time for the family who are on board with the deceased and there is absolutely no reason for us to tell anyone else and allow it to remain a private, family affair.

Best wishes,


Jay J asked:

You need to know that there seems to be something wrong with on-line redemption page for free cruise certificates. I (and others on Cruise Critic) have been trying to place orders online but have not been successful. This is so frustrating and it needs to be fixed now!!!! It will be our 15th wedding anniversary when we cruise on the Pride August 28th. We have a Cruise Critic roll call of approx 50 so can we have a meeting place set and put in the Fun times. This will be cruise number eleven!!!!!

John says:
Hello Jay J,

I think by the time you have read this reply that the system will have been repaired and you should be able to redeem your certificate now. My apologies that this question is 3 weeks old and for the teething problems we had with the online redemption form. I have contacted the ship and there will be a mention of your Meet and Greet in the Fun Times as you requested. Have a wonderful cruise and my best wishes to you all.

Have fun.


Kathy Brownlow asked:

Last summer we sailed on the Carnival Conquest. You were our cruise director. We especially enjoyed all of the quality entertainment and the food was very, very good. This year my parents are sailing with us and we have 2 balcony cabins on the Carnival Destiny June 13th and we want a private table for 4. Our cabin numbers are 6388 and 6292.

John says:
Hello Kathy Brownlow,

I am glad that the cruise on the Carnival Conquest was enjoyed so much that you are back again with us on the Carnival Destiny. I have sent a message to the maitre d there who will do his best to secure your table reservation. I know you will all have a brilliant time.

Best wishes,


Rhonda Kaplan asked:


I love your blog and have read the CD itinerary for 12/2011, I am very disappointed that you will not be on our sailing 12/4/2011. I met you in Dallas for the Beach Ball commercial, and was looking forward to finally having you as a CD. Just a note to let you know you will be missed. I realize that Heidi and the baby need to you too. I am a CC member, but also a BIG fan of your blog thingy, I love your humor 🙂 Keep up the good work.

John says:
Hello Rhonda Kaplan,

I too am very sorry we will not be together and I hope that one day we will. I do know however that you will love the Carnival Magic and you will see why so many people are calling her the best ship in our fleet. Please let me know if there is anything you need before your cruise.

Best wishes,


Petra C asked:

I read your blog this evening where someone called David had mentioned how his Conquest cruise had been ruined by the inappropriate behavior of the Texan passengers. I experienced something similar when I cruised on the Ecstasy and felt that you should know that I also will never cruise with Texas passengers again either. Most were drunk morning noon and night and if they spoke to you and discovered you were not Texan they would treat you with distain. Overall the cruise wasn’t bad. The French onion soup was good. The Indian dinner was great. The prime rib was a very thin slice but was at least rare as was requested and tender, unlike most of the other beef on board. The buffet was not what it should have been. They did have a very good Mongolian grill at lunch time. Over all- the food was very disappointing. The shows were fun and the service very good all spoilt by the Texas people. We have booked the Spirit to Alaska in July and I hope things will be better there.

John says:
Hello Petra C,

I do remember a comment about Texas people some weeks back and I think I said then what I will say now and that is not everyone who cruises out of Galveston is from Texas, just as not everyone who cruises from Miami is from South Florida. And respectfully, your comment that “most were drunk morning noon and night”……..well while I am sure there were some happy guests onboard so make a sweeping statement like that is with respect……ridiculous. However, let’s move away from that and concentrate on your comments on the food which I think are very important and which I will pass onto the chef and that your cruise to Alaska will be something I know you will so enjoy. The atmosphere there will be somewhat different to what you experienced on the shorter cruise on the Carnival Ecstasy and I am sure you will have the most brilliant time. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you and please allow me to say one more time that my time on the Carnival Conquest out of Galveston was some of the best times I have had as CD…

Best wishes,


Ken Newport asked:

Could you please tell me if Musical Highlights (band) is going to be available aboard the Carnival Fantasy to Bermuda on June 16th, 2011?

John says:
Hello Ken Newport,

I asked the CD Ugly Craig and he confirms that the band will be there. I see you are leaving in a few days and so I wanted to wish you a wonderful cruise vacation.

Best wishes,


Morris asked:

I am writing this from the Dream where yesterday (May 8th) nothing was done on the ship to remember holocaust remembrance day. I am disgusted by this. Last year at the same time Holland America Line had a full service of remembrance. You should be ashamed.

John says:
Hello Morris,

I am so sorry you were so upset by this and I can understand that something like the Holocaust fuels so much emotion. Although we have never held a service for this in the past we must never forget the horrors of the Holocaust, one of the worst tragedies in history. I hope you had fun on the Carnival Dream and thanks for taking the time to write from the ship.

Best wishes,


Ali asked:
Hi John,

My boyfriend and I cruised our first cruise with Carnival on the Liberty this past Feb. We quickly became hooked, and as soon as we got home we booked again for next Jan on the magic!

On our Liberty cruise, I had booked the steakhouse 6 months prior to the cruise. However, when we were on the ship, there was a promotion for the week that if you booked on the ship, you received a free bottle of wine with your dinner. Before I book anything for our next cruise (I tend to plan things way in advance), should I wait until getting onto the cruise in case there is a promotion like this? Or was this just a onetime thing on the Liberty?


John says:
Hello Ali,

I love hearing how after people experience their first cruise that they can’t wait for the next one and book straight away. This is a wonderful testament for the company and thanks so much for telling me about it. The wine promotion you are talking about is indeed a fleetwide one that offers a free bottle of wine if you book on line or onboard. However, it is only for the first night of the cruise to encourage people to eat there on the one night that is traditionally not very busy. So, it would be a great night to book. I hope you have a great cruise and if there is anything else you need please let me know.

Best wishes,


Sweet Caroline asked:

There use to be a short plump black lady called Tia that used to do shows on Carnival. I have cruised lots of times with her but have not seen nor heard from her for some time. Is she still with Carnival and on what ship as I love her shows.

Thank you Mister John

John says:
Hello Sweet Caroline,

Why am I picturing you sitting on your porch, in a rocking chair, drinking homemade lemonade? Anyway, Tia was a fantastic act and her voice was sent straight from above. She retired from Carnival recently and I hope she is doing well and still singing somewhere as she is so very, very good.

Best wishes.


That’s all for today.

Well, it’s going to be a busy week and even though Heidi and Kye are here I can’t stay away from the blog or Facebook as there will be some news items that you will need me to be around for including an important one on Wednesday. I will give a bit of a peek on Tuesday. Again, it’s something that many will appreciate and some may not, but regardless I will be here for you to help explain. I think for the most part though…….there will be much rejoicing. So here we are again in Monaco and I haven’t had time to tell you who is sailing with us this cruise so here then are the details.


FRENCH: 108 ………bugger
Children under 18: 641

So less Russians this cruise but we still have a large count of international guests as you can see. More on that later but first let’s see where we are going and who is doing the entertaining:

Sun, Jun, 12 – Barcelona Activities – Tony Esposito/ Don Barnhart
Mon, Jun, 13 – Monaco – Welcome Aboard Show
Tue, Jun, 14 – Rome, MOVIE NIGHT – Tony Esposito/ Don Barnhart
Wed, Jun, 15 – Livorno – Destination Unknown/ Jason Byrne
Thu, Jun, 16 – Naples – Penny Mathisen (West End Vocalist) MARK MILLER CLOSE UP MAGIC NIGHT
Fri, Jun, 17- at sea – Niels Duinker (Juggler)
Sat, Jun, 18- Dubrovnik – Groove Line
Sun, Jun, 19 – Venice – Deck Party
Mon, Jun, 20 – Venice – Sam Jay (Multi Instrumentalist) Hal Spear / Jerry Goodspeed
Tue, Jun, 21- at sea – Marcus Jefferson (Vocalist)
Wed, Jun, 22 – Messina- Win – Hal Spear / Jerry Goodspeed

So last cruise was a tough one only in the sense that half the ship didn’t understand a word I said. I must though praise the crew whose patience and understanding with the Russians and others whose English was nonexistent was extraordinary. I think everyone had a good time and in terms of complaints from the Russians……well there weren’t many. They certainly could have complained as all the shows, announcements etc were in English. But they didn’t and helped by their past and their new found devil mare care attitude they had a great time. I think the vodka may have helped too.

And yesterday I wrote on Facebook who 32 people from one international group all reversed their gratuities on both the stateroom stewards and the dining room team. As Ken the senior maitre d wrote “Waiters had to jump the line each night, as so many additional orders (not on the menu) had been prepared for them by the chefs, and pre-placed on their tables prior to dinner service, not to mention the amount of appetizers and entrees they ordered every night, on elegant night 32 guests ate 80 main courses.”

As I said yesterday, tipping is an individual thing and it’s a choice we give our guests most of whom are happy to give them the gratuity we recommend, some give even more. Tipping is also a cultural thing with some countries used to it and some not. But for every member of this group to remove the tips is unusual and some would say (myself included) callous and unkind. Anyway, we are now looking at helping the staff out who worked so hard for this group who as Ken said “Didn’t just leave without tipping, they left without saying thank you.”

Yep, tipping is a personal thing and the system Carnival uses now is the best option without a doubt and we don’t want to get into the tipping included thing as I think it has to be earned not expected. But occasionally there are times when it is earned and not given and in this case it was more than earned and the 32 people all decided as one to remove them. That’s not just unfair, in my opinion……’s absolutely despicable!

This cruise all seems well and it’s a perfect start here in Monaco. Heidi loves it here because of the shopping and is of the ship with Kye and her Mum who is sailing. Me……I am here writing to you but I do promise to get off the ship one day this cruise. Mind you it won’t be to go sodding shopping. If you set foot in any of the Monte Carlo shops, you are made to feel as small as a hamsters kneecap because it is immediately apparent you are not Donald Trump, which means it’s immediately apparent you cannot afford to buy a single thing they have to offer. It’s all Herpès and Goochi. Where anyone in Monte Carlo buys essentials like toilet paper and hemorrhoid cream, God only knows.

Of course, you can buy a watch. Some even cost as little as $125,000. Mostly, though, they are much more than that because they all have 16 dials, an entire diamond mind in the bezel, a device that summons an Delta Force extraction team if you get kidnapped by pirates and a button that can tell you the phase of the moon and when Jupiter is passing Youranus….bugger……I mean Uranus.

We used to call this sort of thing the “millionaire lifestyle” but I suspect that to live a yacht filled life moored off Monte Carlo in the summer and the Caribbean in the winter you probably need more than a million in the bank in fact I would suggest that you would need more numbers in your bank balance than you have in your account number. Maybe Dwyane Wade and LeBron James will be here soon, forgetting about their loss by lying on the deck of a mega yacht eating caviar out of a Latvian’s belly button. Lucky bastards.

Well it’s going to be a busy week and yes, there will definitely be some news this week including some that you have been waiting for and some that may be a surprise and either way I will let you know the news as soon as I can and be here to answer your questions.

There were as always in Europe some mind boggling comments and I leave you today with this one which we received last night which I remind you was the first night of this new voyage.

Guest: Mr ———-Ref: 847201639A
Cabin: ————Added-Changed: 06/12/11 – 06/12/11

Mrs__________came to the desk and said she was on the wrong cruise and that she thought the Carnival Magic was a Celebrity cruise line ship and that her travel agent had sold her wrong information on the ship. Guest was very unhappy and wants to disembark in Monaco and for a full refund.

You know………….sometimes words are not necessary are they?

That’s all for today, get ready for a big week of news and now I have to go paint a huge sodding “X” on your Carnival Magic’s funnel.


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.