June 16, 2011 -

John Heald

Amongst the many hundreds if not thousands of comments I received yesterday
about new smoking rules and regulations I received this one. Here it is:

David Quinnan asked:

You are a big hypacritt. You have spoken about cigar bars and your cigars for months since I started reading this blog but today I find out you have taken them away. You make me sick and if I was there now I would punch that big fat face of yours and straighten that tooth! My wife and I have cruised 3 times with Carnival and my favorite thing to do was to go to the cigar bar after dinner and smoke a cigar. Now you have taken that away and I will take my business away from Carnival.

Well, I think that’s the first time I have ever been threatened with actual violence here on the blog although I am sure David was having an instant reaction to the news of which we will talk more of later. I also think that maybe it’s harder for some than others to except change and to except being told what you can and what you cannot do. Don’t smoke, don’t eat too much red meat, swim at your own risk, keep your dog on a leash, correct change only, hold the handrail you’re on a moving ship, don’t forget to wash your hands. In fact you can spend an entire day getting a bollocking if you want to. My car scolds me with a nagging, irritating alarm if I don’t fasten my seatbelt the second that I have switched the sodding engine on. And, do I really still need Head & Shoulders to give me directions and a help number on my shampoo bottle? The number of instructional signs on board our ships has also grown in recent years. Watch your head, watch your step, no diving or jumping, caution coffee is hot, deck may be slippery when wet, warning Russians in extremely tight Speedos.

Yep, things have changed on board so much since I started 24 years ago. Life changes and we change with it. I think it’s harder for my parent’s generation, though. My father’s VW Golf came with a satellite GPS system but he absolutely refuses to use it. The fact that the voice has a slight German accent may have something to do with Dad hating the thing but mostly it’s because he is old fashioned and spent 50 years of driving reading a map and he has no intention of changing now. Me on the other hand……I love GPS in car systems. It feels better to blame a GPS system than my own crappy map reading skills when I end up in Tampa having intended to go to Orlando as once happened to Heidi and I. Anyway, I digressed again there.

It’s been a difficult 24 hours for me because while I applaud the no smoking in the cabins and I understand and support the piano bar regulations, I am a disappointed that my cigar bars are gone and while many rejoice I do see a problem that the beards have not thought of. The smell of tobacco and cigar smoke has up to now masked the foul odor of flatulence that used to be disguised by us smokers before the cigar bars became smoke free. Guests would come straight from the dining room to the cigar bar having eaten lobster, and Caesar salads and shrimps and steaks and fish and vegetables and 12 chocolate melting cakes. They were full and they were bloated and they would sit back in those leather chairs and under the music of the Latin Trio they would let one rip. Yet nobody noticed because the smell because it was disguised by the aroma of my cigar.

But now even the Latin Trio is gone from the cigar bars and they will be replaced by Karaoke. I understand the fact that we have changed them to non-smoking and in a final one last time mention of the cigar bars that were and with hand on heart, I can say that I would rather listen to great live music and enjoy the aroma of the finest tobacco than sit listening to some 17 year old singing “Slap My Bitch Up” while having to breathe in the smell of an escargot-scented fart.

I am not a hypocrite (spelt correctly David) and I will say this again loud and proud, I wish we still had them and am quite disappointed that they have been taken away. To say otherwise after all I have said and done in previous blogs would be absolutely ridiculous.

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

Wendy Miller asked:

A number of loyal CCL cruisers met on Cruise Critic and became fast friends. We call ourselves the Spirit Dawgs and sail the Thanksgiving cruise. This is year 4, and unfortunately, our last since the Spirit is leaving. We are already in the party planning phase for this year. A number of us remember when CCL led a Pub Crawl as an activity. It was a lot of fun. Whatever happened to it? We would love to see it come back.

Thanks for all you do John.

John says:
Hello Wendy Miller,

Let me start by saying how much I appreciate your writing to me and how I love to hear how people meet and become friends on Cruise Critic. This is one of the best things about the site and I am glad that you have highlighted it. The pub crawl was a great event and was a lot of fun. It was stopped because…….ummmm…….well let’s just say that it was thought at the time by certain beards that it was an inappropriate event to have onboard. The beard that made that decision has left and now it is back on the table once again. I will ask the beards today of it is something we can bring back as I know if done in a controlled fashion it was something everyone really enjoyed. I will let you know as soon as I know if we can. Please also let me know if there is anything you or the “Spirit Dawgs” need before you sail again.

Best wishes to you all.


Adam N asked:
Hi John,

I am booked on the Miracle cruise of December 21. I am very concerned that the ship will be so busy celebrating Christmas and forgetting that there will be Jewish passengers on as well. Hanukkah will be on December 20-28. What will be done for us?

John says:
Hello Adam N,

Please do not worry. While the ship will be celebrating Christmas, we also are very much aware that we have guests of the Jewish faith and there will be the lighting of the Menorah service each night to celebrate Hanukkah. Have a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes,


TT Cruiser asked:


Following on from your comment on the blog and the comments made by Cruise Critic members about you I suggest that you try and bury the hatchet. I am a Cruise Critic member and have been for some time and it strikes me that people like cruisngator2, carnival platinum cruiser and H82seaUgo who dislike you so much deserve a chance to explain why. I suggest that you speak to your buddy Mach and organize a live online chat with CC members so that these and others can tell you what it is about you that they don’t like. Maybe this way you can make peace. Just a thought from someone who enjoys the blog and Cruise Critic together. Would you consider a live Q and A and give them chance to vent?

John says:
Hello TT Cruiser,

Thanks for taking the time to write and while I have read posts here from Carnival Platinum cruiser, I have no idea who the other two you mentioned are as the names mean bugger all to me. However, if I have upset them or if they have met me and didn’t like what I did then absolutely I would relish the chance to talk to them. However, I doubt they would as I already have two open forums here and on Facebook, both providing ways for people to communicate with me. As I said, I have no idea who these people are but I invite them here and now to give me a chance to open dialogue with them in any way, shape or forum. The bottom line is that if these people are Carnival cruisers then I have to do all I can to make them happy. And after yesterday’s smoking and New York announcements maybe there are more, so yes……..if needed I will be honoured (spelt correctly) to speak to them at anytime. As bored as I am by saying this, I will say it one last time. If anyone ever asks me for anything or has a comment about me or anything I say I will always listen. I am not naïve enough to think everyone is going like me or what I write and the opinions of those you mentioned are their opinions which they are absolutely entitled to and if they ever need my help I will be here ready and willing to do my best to give it.

Best wishes,


Walton asked:

When cruising on the Fascination last week I was very angry to see that there were NO announcements made when we arrived in port like the cruise director did on the Monarch ship. We sat in our cabins waiting to be told we could get off the ship and because nobody did one we missed out tour and were very angry. We had booked it privately and the tour company in Nassau would only give us 50% back. I want the other 50% back from Carnival as you did not tell us we could get off the ship at 8 am when it was docked on the pier in Nassau. Our cabin number was R126 and booking ref was____ and I expect to hear from you about this with a check for $78 immediately.

John says:
Hello Walton,

I am sorry that you missed your excursion and that the tour operator is giving you a difficult time with refunding the full amount. I have checked with our guest service department in Miami and we will not be able to give you a refund for the amount mentioned. We do as cruise directors make announcements when we arrive in port depending on the hour that we arrive. If it is very early, like 8 am, then we normally would not use the PA system as many may still be asleep (and we would invariably get complaints for waking people up). The Fun Times does have the docking time on it and all I can do is sincerely apologise that you missed your excursion and hope that you had a great cruise despite this.

Best wishes.


Kelly T asked:

We had never cruised with carnival until now and what a big mistake that was because our family reunion on the Splendor was the most wonderful experience we have ever had. There was me and my husband Neil, our children Ryan and Sallie and my parents Ben and Amanda who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. The food was the best we have ever had on a cruise and the dining room servers were so wonderful. We had asked you for a private family table which you arranged for us and Miguel the maitre d was so charming and made us feel very special. Our kids had a great time at Club 2 and Circle Camp and it was the best family time. I have not had a comment form so please can you tell Miguel and his team and our cabin steward Chai that we loved them and please thank them for this special time. We are booking again for sure.

John says:
Hello Kelly T,

What a brilliant review and it makes me so happy to read that three generations of family had so much fun together on a Carnival cruise. I will make sure that those mentioned get to read your words of praise and I am glad that my great friend Miguel was able to help with the table request. I hope we do see you all soon and if there is anything I can do for you please let me know.

Best wishes to you all.


Tivis asked:

Buongiorno John!

Si prega di rispondere. I traveled on the Carnival Freedom in Aug of 09 with my family while we cruised the Caribbean’s and chased a hurricane (very exciting, oh and Mr. D. Little. was in our presence lol). We loved having you as the CD. We will be traveling with you again in Aug on the Carnival Dream for my brother’s 13th wedding anniversary. I have 2 questions, 1st the website it shows you can book excursions in Venice on the 22&23. The itinerary shows that on the 23rd the ship leaves at 630am. Is there an error on the time? What will happen to the people who booked for the 23rd? Can you please verify that the info is correct? We would appreciate it! Second question is, when will the formal nights be? I would like to know in advance so I can plan something special for my brother and my sister-in-law, maybe chef’s table/steakhouse. Thanks again for your time and we all look forward in seeing you in August!!! Arriverderci!


John says:
Hello Tivis,

Thanks for the kind words and I am very much looking forward to seeing you once again this August. I take it you are booked here on your Carnival Magic and not Carnival Dream as you wrote. However, as you mentioned Venice then I think it’s safe to say you are coming here. Let me show you the itinerary.

Sun, Aug, 14 Barcelona, dep @ 5pm
Mon, Aug, 15 Monaco, 9am-8pm
Tue, Aug, 16 Savona, 7am-8pm
Wed, Aug, 17 Rome, 8am-10pm
Thu, Aug, 18 Naples (chefs table) 7am-7pm
Fri, Aug, 19 Messina (chefs table) 7am-4pm
Sat, Aug, 20 Dubrovnik , 12noon-8pm
Sun, Aug, 21 at sea (elegant)
Mon, Aug, 22 Venice, arr @ 7am
Tue, Aug, 23 Venice, dep @ 6am
Wed, Aug, 24 at sea (elegant – chefs table)
Thu, Aug, 25 at sea

As you can see I have listed the elegant nights for you and you are correct that we do sail at 6 am on the 23rd which means you have spotted an error as we should not be selling excursions on the 23rd. Thank you so much for pointing this out. If you need me to help you book The Chef’s Table please let me know and I will be honoured to assist. I look forward to seeing you soon and thanks for letting me know about this important error.

Best wishes,


Des Reid asked:

On the Ecstasy cruise June 25th cabin M12. Need a table just for me and my partner only. No others. Big rib fan so want the ribs every night. Can you tell management?

John says:
Hello Des Reid,

I will certainly ask the maitre d if he can provide you a table for 2 and as for the ribs I will ask him if they have any ribs spare…….get it? Ribs……spare…….spare ribs. Anyway, please have a great time and please enjoy the ribs and please tell us all about it when you get home please.

Best wishes,


Donna Galli asked:
Hi John,

I have recently come across your blod through Cruise Critic and am enjoying it very much!

I was wondering if you could tell me why the, “Carnival Dream” is not participating in the “free drinks card” at the casino, when you reach 1500 points? Originally I see that it was and now seems that no longer is the case. I will be on the Dream in October to celebrate my 50th birthday (the day we embark YAYY) and had planned on spending quite some time in the casino! Also, do you know if I will receive any special “goodies” to celebrate my special occasion? Would be great if that could happen!!

Thank you very much! Have a blessed day!!

John says:
Hello Donna Galli,

Welcome to the blod…….sorry couldn’t resist that. Welcome to the blog and I am glad my friends at Cruise Critic put you in touch with me here. Carnival Dream did have the Drinks Are On Us Program and then stopped for a while as part of a test. It was only a temporary test though and they have just started the program again and it will be there when you cruise. We don’t normally send people gifts for birthdays as a rule but as a friend of the blog I will certainly send you something to help celebrate. I will need you to remind me here please a month before or on Facebook a week before you sail. Have a great cruise and once again welcome to the blod.

Best wishes,


Tampa Tom asked:

Can you confirm you will be the cruise director for the first cruise of the Breeze. Hope you say yes.

John says:
Hello Tampa Tom,

“Yes.” Hope to see you there mate.

Best wishes.


Arvind and Prafula Patel asked:




John says:
Hello Arvind and Prafula Patel,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me and I was so sorry to hear that you were taken ill. I hope that you are feeling better now and I am pleased to see that the care our medical team gave you was of such a high standard. I will make sure they see your comments as I will the chef sees your thoughts on the Indian food served. Thanks so much for letting us know about these two important items. I truly hope you had fun and hope we will see you again soon.

Best wishes to all.


That’s all for today.

Yesterday there must have been over 1,000 comments and questions and remarks on my FB page mostly about smoking and some about our announcement on New York. The overall feeling was that many were excited about the Carnival Miracle although a few were disappointed in the winter itinerary. But overall there is much excitement for those who we have made it so much easier to take a cruise in the tri-state area. Before the announcement was made so many were asking for year-round cruises from New York so I’m happy that we’re able to provide these cruises. I am so pleased for New York and the comments I have read are mostly ones expressing their excitement. I did get some not so complimentary comments including a brilliant one from Tim K (hello Tim) who referred to me on Cruise Critic as “The Big Brit Bloke sure has a way of getting everyone hyped up, then let down with his less than exciting news from the ‘beards.’ When will we all learn……he’s somewhat like a Sears Catalog…..big, thick, and full of cheap crap!!!!!” …….. I thought that was hilarious and typical of the grumpy old sod who I met with pleasure on a bloggers cruise and whom I hope I meet again soon.

It was interesting yesterday because in the middle of all that was going on I received an email from Cunard’s President and our Man in London Peter Shanks. Actually……he wasn’t in London. He was in New York from where he sent this message.


Hello from your official British reporter. I just happened to be in New York on Cunard business for a couple of days. I heard the exciting news this morning that your good ship Carnival Miracle would now be based in New York year round – and what should I see when I opened my hotel room this morning but the Carnival Miracle. Better than that – as I was attending a travel agent event we were all invited onboard for lunch. We had lunch in a rather strange – but fun – dining room. It seemed to be designed around a bunch of grapes. The food was very good, we had a warm welcome from your Captain – and in true Carnival style the waiters sang us a song. Well – what could I do to top that – well perhaps with a top hat? So to celebrate your miraculous News – here is my humble – but fun – contribution by way of a photo.

Never let it be said that one of our brands is shy of promoting one of its sisters.

Best Regards,


Brilliant. Thanks Peter and how fantastic that as I was writing about New York and the Carnival Miracle that you were there and wearing the Funnel Hat. Ladies and Gentlemen, there are very few cruise line presidents who would have done that and I say once again that Peter’s enthusiasm for the business all of us love is incomparable. Peter now has his own blog as you know at and please stop by when you can as it is a brilliant read.

One group of people who I can say are very happy today are the piano bar entertainers who now get to perform in a completely smoke-free environment. I have read a few comments from people who said yesterday that these bars would be empty now since they’re smoke free. Honestly, that’s not true. We had a smoke free piano bar on the Carnival Splendor and it was hopping. And I expect it to be the same across the fleet and if the bar is empty it will be because the performer in there is not of the usual high standard that our piano bars demand. That also will probably not be the case especially with these performers on hand to make sure they continue to be one of the ship’s hot spots. Here is the current list and expected leaving dates:

Dream: Justin Abrams 06/25/11
Glory: Peter Brenner 06/27/11
Fantasy: Michael Smith 07/16/11
Liberty: Brad Alexander 07/16/11
Freedom: David Filsinger 07/16/11
Fascination: Dana Honey 07/23/11
Spirit: Tom Riccio 07/26/11
Pride Roger: Concepcion 07/31/11
Sensation: Adam Saxe 09/01/11
Conquest: Walter Boik 09/04/11
Victory: Tom Grable 09/04/11
Destiny: Seth Gibson 09/10/11
Miracle: William Barclay 09/11/11
Triumph: Lorraine Ingle 09/22/11
Elation: Bruce McGhie 09/29/11
Paradise: Jordan Heppner 10/07/11
Valor: Robert Crucilla 10/16/11
Legend: Hrvoje Knezevic 11/13/11
Magic: Chris Novak 11/14/11
Inspiration: Angela Johnson TBA
Splendor: Jafar Curry TBA
Imagination: Lizl Strauss TBA
Ecstasy: Agustin Villarin TBA

My thanks to them all and to all of you for continuing to enjoy the atmosphere these lady and gentlemen provide. as always I call upon our President of the Piano Bar Appreciation Society Miss Laura Divetrash to post this over on Cruise Critic where I know they have overwhelming support.

And that’s it for smoking. I am not going to write any more about it as it is what it is. I will finish this section by saying that I hope you realise that you still have smoking options onboard both inside and outside and that I believe Carnival still has the most accommodating smoking rules in the industry. But as we still offer places to smoke and I truly hope that over the next few days you will take a moment to remember why you cruised Carnival. Was it to smoke or was it because of the price, value for money and most of all the fun? Just think about it…that’s all I ask.

Well I haven’t had much time to tell you what’s happening here on the Carnival Magic have I? Well the weather has been amazing and the guests are very different this cruise in the fact that they are mostly North American which I think is the first cruise where this has been the case. I have met some interesting characters though including the lady who complained that the ship had not docked close to the Vatican which she assures me someone at Carnival had told her. Now obviously we dock in Civitavecchia which is about an hour from Rome by train and longer by road. Yet this lady insisted she had been told we would dock within walking distance of the Vatican. So, the pursers spoke to her and …….bugger…….the guest services associate spoke to her but she insisted that she speak to me.

Now yesterday I wasn’t in the best of moods for reasons I have described already and after umpiring the feud between non-smokers and smokers on Facebook I really wasn’t in the mood for this lady’s nonsense. So after the first magic show I went to meet the lady ready to tell her that her suggestion we dock close enough to the Vatican for the Pope to pop over for a quick go on the Twister waterslide was absolutely ridiculous. I was steamed up ready for battle.

But what I found was a lovely lady, in her seventies, traveling with her husband who had recently had a stroke and was on a motor scooter. Yes, she still insisted that Carnival had said this but instead of telling her she was wrong I felt nothing but sympathy for a lady who was so disappointed that she and her husband could not see the Vatican. After a few moments we started talking about the rest of the ports and what we could arrange for them and with the help of Magda, the shore excursion manager, I spent 30 minutes planning what they could do. As they left she thanked us for helping them and…….she gave me a hug and I felt like the biggest piece of crap in the world. I had made fun of her comment on Facebook and yet I hadn’t taken the time to consider the source and check out who had said it. I was so worked up trying to appease everyone about the two announcements you see and now I bitterly regret my actions. Obviously she doesn’t know and hopefully the gifts I send them will make them happy. But it doesn’t hide the fact that I was wrong to judge and for that I apologise to her and to all of you who read it.

However…….there was something that made me smile. It was this comment…….made by a lady in her late forties and her son who is 18.

Guest: Ms ——–Ref: 842741872A Owner: (MCSHEXMGR) Magic Shore Excursion Manager

Cabin: Added-Changed: 06/14/11 – 06/15/11


Guest stated CD John in his presentation mentioned to be aware of pick pocketers in Rome and not to carry valuable items, therefore she and her son took no cash ashore when they went on the Rome On Your Own which is transportation only. In Rome gst realized she had to pay to get into Coliseum and Vatican and other areas. Guest said they went all the way to Rome and came back seeing nothing and want compensation. John please call the guest asap.


I need a cigar…………….oh bugger.


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.