We have two new activities here on your Carnival Magic. They are open to all guests but obviously it’s the younger generation that seems to be enjoying them most. First we have video games in SportSquare where you can be a Dallas Cowboy or a Green Bay Picker or a New York Yankee or pretend you are Dwyane Wade and LeBron James except this time you win the championship. Yep, it’s a great place and the youth of the ship meet there to play these games and to see whose pants are the lowest.

It’s quite funny seeing the different generations here playing very different games. Yesterday while I walked around the ship it was very quiet with most guests exploring Rome. Yet there were younger guys slam dunking and older guests sitting on promenade playing Monopoly. Ah yes, Monopoly, the game that has no end. The rules explain how you can un-mortgage a property and when you should build hotels on Madison Avenue but they don’t say, and they should, that the winner is the last player left alive.

But as I mentioned we have another new activity, it’s called “Rock Guitar” or something like that. We finally have this on our ships and once again, the teens here of which there are 300 this cruise absolutely “Love it, dude.” I watched one kid as he strummed his way through songs by bands with names like Puke and Zombie Machine Death Arsecrack.

For those of you who don’t know what Rock Guitar is…..let me explain. It’s one of those Playstationxbox games. You have a guitar with various colored buttons on it. You choose a song and press the colored buttons as they appear on the screen. Now, on the screen is a rock band including a very sexy looking girl who is the lead guitarist……you.

So, you choose a song, say “Layla” by Eric Clapton. You follow the flashing lights and if you press them correctly in the order they flash on the screen, you and the rock band get a huge cheer and tons of applause from the crowd. If you screw up, then the song stops in the middle of your “riff” all the head bangers in the audience boo, spit and charge the stage and rip your head off. Monopoly or Rock Guitar then? Given the choice of moving a hat around 42nd Street or becoming Eric Clapton for an hour, they’ll take the electronic option every time.

Whatever happened to jigsaw puzzles? I tried explaining the joy of jigsaw puzzles to my 10 year old nephew once. “Yes, you spend a couple of weeks putting all the pieces together so you end up with a picture.” “Then what happens?” he asked. “Well, you break it up again and put it back in the box.” He just stood there……………staring at his mad uncle.

And it’s much the same story with crosswords. If scientists could harness the brainpower spent every day on trying to find the answer to “Ugly Norwegian is not heroic; majestic; impressively great,” perhaps then maybe mankind might have cured hemorrhoids by now.

Crosswords, like jigsaws and Suckudo (spelt correctly), are not really games in themselves. They are simply tools for wasting time. And that’s not something that sits well in with the youth of today. If the Club O2 Director here on the Carnival Magic listed in her Fun Times that there would be three hours of jigsaw fun, she would be told where to shove her 3,000-piece jigsaw of the Tower Of Pisa.

I wonder what the older guests here make of all these games that kids play with today. Asking a kid these days to do a jigsaw is like asking an 80 year old to spend the day on Playstaion shooting an LA drug dealer in the face.

Heidi and I have a Playxboxstation thingy but we rarely use it. Heidi bought a Wii Wii as well but since Kye came along two years ago it sits in the cupboard alongside the fondue set, the mini disk player and the remote control vacuum cleaner. That’s because Heidi and I love to play cards. There’s no television show, no Internet site and certainly no PlayBox X game that provides you with the same thrill as sitting there, a good cup of tea in one hand and a fist full of bugger all in the other. A game of cards, it seems to me, provides everything you could possibly want out of life. It’s also fun, free, and environmentally friendly and something you can do as a family.

So, how about this? The next time you cruise, tell the kids to leave the Zombies alone for a while, tell them to put down their toy Fender guitar, take a timeout from playing Madden football and sit down on Promenade deck and have an hour of family time and play cards together. Just don’t play charades because one of your family members is bound to give you “Moby Dick,” and waving your thingy around on Promenade deck is not going to go down well.

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

Beth asked:

I read with interest today your article on your blog about dress code and how much you despise it. As long standing cruisers from Boca Raton we see that discounting is spoiling cruising for people who choose to be selective, who pay to be selective, who pay to dress up, who pay to be served and enjoy the dining experience, who pay to enjoy conversation and not rowdy behavior and scruffy, inappropriate dressing. We have recently returned from a cruise on Carnival on the Splendor. It was packed with discounted travelers, and if we had not had the sanctuary of the steakhouse and the ability not to worry about the cost would have got off at its first port of call. Back to Celebrity for these experienced cruisers.

John says:
Hello Beth,

This is a hard one to answer but then again you didn’t actually ask any questions did you? Well, I hope you had a great cruise despite your obvious dislike at the rest of the guests. My view on dress codes is not one that is shared by other bloggers or even Carnival. I have always felt it preposterous that we tell people what they can wear on their vacation. However, while some may not like the fact that we allow jeans in the dining room I think most would agree that your review oozes snobbery which is one of the reasons……I hate dress codes. I do hope you had fun, enjoyed the steakhouse and your future cruises wherever they may take you.

Best wishes.


Mike Underwood asked:

Love ur blog. Will the new Breeze have a rope course like the Magic? My kids loved it and so did I. We are thinking of booking the inaugural Breeze cruise. Thanks again for a wonderful time. The kids miss your morning shows.

John says:
Hello Mike Underwood,

That’s great to know you enjoyed the ropes course which I am glad to tell you will indeed be on Carnival Breeze. Plus……there will be a few other surprises that will have you jumping for joy. I hope to see you there and please say hello to your children.

Best wishes to you all


Clarissa Pickles asked:

When I went to the Carnival website to do some research, your blog is prominently featured and since I have heard it referenced frequently in both a good and often in a bad light on Cruise Critic, I decided to see what the accolades were all about. After reading a few of your blogs are whatever they’re called, I was surprised to read about peeing, pooing, mail regarding a bigger penis and so forth. I guess if I just ran across this independently it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but with these types of references I question if it should be featured so prominently on Carnival’s site. Some of your references are crass in my opinion.

John says:
Hello Clarissa Pickles,

I realise that my kind of humour is not for everyone and if I said something that offended you I sincerely apologise. I am very lucky that Carnival allows me a free hand in what I write and again even though there is a disclaimer I am aware that I still represent this great company. The reason I continue to spend hours each day writing is because I am allowed to be myself and if and when I am told that can’t happen and that I have to be more “corporate”…..I shall stop. So please allow me to apologise for any offence I may have caused. By the way…….I decided to buy the offer of a bigger thingy……..it arrived in the mail yesterday. It was a magnifying glass!

Best wishes,


Susan O’Brien asked:

Were wondering if you could tell us how to reach Stein Kruse through email. We are professional ballroom dancers, who have worked on the ships before, but not tried Holland yet. Would love to give him our history and see if he could direct us. I know it seems like a person rather high up for such a question, but we have found in the past that we waste a lot of time writing to the wrong person, only to be switched to another “WRONG person.” Besides we have many years experience on board many lines. A lot to share with the wrong person. Would appreciate you help. Usually it doesn’t take the CEO long to direct us to the appropriate person.


Susan O’Brien

John says:

Hello Susan Obrien,

Thanks for writing to me and while I can’t post the president of Holland America’s email address here, I have sent your details to the right person within entertainment at HAL who I am sure will be in touch soon. I wish you much success.

Best wishes.


Gaynor asked:

Does Carnival seat people at dinner according to race and color? This may seem like an odd question but on the Fascination cruise ship last time they had seated all us black people on one side of the food hall.

John says:
Hello Gaynor,

Please let me assure and promise you that this is something we definitely never have and never will do. There are many parameters that the maitre d’s use when assigning people to tables at dinner but race, creed, colour and religion are not any of them. I hope you had a fun cruise.

Best wishes,


Kristy asked:
Hi John,

Is there any way to know who is going to be the cruise director on a ship prior to the sail date? You know when you have a good one, it makes a world of difference!


John says:
Hello Kristy,

I know some don’t really care who the CD is when they sail but it is always nice to know that many others do. At the bottom of the blog is the schedule for the cruise directors for the remainder of 2011 and in September I will post the one for the first half of 2012. I think we have a brilliant team of CD’s and I am sure you will enjoy yours immensely. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes,


George Mallea asked:
Hi John,

I have asked 3 people at carnival and got three different answers. I am from Miami and going on Valor. I need to know if I can have him visit or come on the ship with me but not cruise. It is my brother and he wants to see the ship. Is this something we can do for him. His name is Nino and how do I do this?

John says:
Hello George Mallea,

Thanks for writing and I think I am right in saying that you are cruising on the Carnival Valor and are asking if your brother can get a visitors pass for the day? If that is the case I am sorry but unfortunately we do not allow any visitors on the vessel due to security reasons. I hope one day he can sail himself but for now I am sorry he will not be able to visit. I wish you a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes,


Lisa Trimble asked:
Hi John,

I LOVE reading your blog thingy every day, it cracks me up. Last November was my very first cruise on Inspiration with the girls. (My mother, sister and our daughters) This year we decided to let the men join us, lol we will be cruising on my husband’s big 50th birthday and would love to do something special for him. His birthday is November 13th and we will be on the Liberty Nov.12. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

John says:
Hello Lisa Trimble,

Thanks so much for all those kind words and yes of course I would be happy to send your husband a birthday surprise. As we are some ways off from your cruise can I ask you to send this again 5 weeks before you sail or one week before on my Facebook page? I know you will have a wonderful time.

Best wishes to you both.


Bob Etingoff asked:


My wife, Beth and I love your blogs. We were married on the Freedom 12/18/10 and love cruising and Carnival. I am a platinum guest with carnival. We are looking at booking our next cruise. I believe I read that you would be on the newly out of dry dock Liberty on the October 22, 2011 sailing as the CD. Is this correct? While I have never had the pleasure of you as CD, we would love to experience this. You seem close to Lenny Holiday, who retired, but for my money was the best CD on the water. Our decision to take this cruise as opposed to a different sailing hinges on you being on it or not.

Thanks for a quick response,

Bob and Beth

John says:
Hello Bob and Beth,

Let’s start with Lenny who was an old-style CD who for me was indeed one of the very best. He loved his job and loved being with guests and hated the computer and the paper work and all the other stuff that he saw change during his years…..and I know how he feels. Anyway, he has retired and is enjoying his family. I will indeed be on Carnival Liberty for her first cruise out of dry dock although I won’t be the CD. That honour (spelt correctly) will go to Kirk Benning who as always will do a brilliant job. The ship will have many new and exciting features which I will be there to highlight and write about. However, I am hoping Kirk will allow me a little time on stage as well. I do hope you will book this cruise and I want to thank you for those marvelously kind words. I truly hope to see you both soon.

Best wishes to you both.


That’s all for today and I will return with more tomorrow

So last night I gave Stagemom what she wanted, well mostly, and allowed her 11-year-old prodigy child to play the flute in Ocean Plaza accompanied by Razvan, the Showtime orchestra’s brilliant pianist. I had placed a one-line advertisement in the Capers and at……oh bugger………the Fun Times and at 7 pm the slight figure of someone we shall call Mia arrived to play her flute.

The day had started long before that though because unlike all the other 11-year-old girls who were ashore seeing the wonders of Rome, Mia was practicing with Razvan. Stagemom had asked for this to happen at 11 am which Razvan graciously agreed to and for an hour she played the 10- minute piece over and over again. Then at the end of the rehearsal Stagemom still was not happy with either her daughter or Razavan who she scolded for not having his syncopation correct. Yep, she was scolding a man that has a master’s degree in music and accompanies all of our brilliant fly on entertainers and was chosen to be here on the Carnival Magic because he is the best pianist in the fleet. He is a very calm man which is lucky because I know other musicians that would have shoved that flute somewhere where the sun doesn’t shine. Anyway, Stagemum was not happy and called me as she wanted another rehearsal that afternoon but only after Mia had had her nap. So……..they rehearsed again at 3 pm.

I feel so very, very sorry for this young girl and I am sure what I have seen here on board is a mere taste of what her Mum expects of her each and every day. When I was a kid, I was also anxious to please my parents but considering I was not exactly the smartest bulb on the tree, that didn’t always happen. I remember so well the mornings when I’d come downstairs to find my school report had arrived and the way it made me and my bottom feel. When asked I always told Mum and Dad that I’d been working hard, and that the small fire in the science lab had been nothing to do with me. But there, in the report, was the absolute proof that I hadn’t been working hard at all. Even today, some 30 years on I can remember word for word the comments from the Deputy Headmaster (Deputy Principal) Mr. Doug Hounsell (RIP) who said when at the age of 15 I took my practice college entrance exams or “O Levels” as we called them in the UK “Even if, as John claims, he had diarrhea during his exam, it looked like it had been written by someone who was trying to be deliberately stupid. Or who was 8 years old.”

You have to remember of course that my father was a high school principal at another school and as he thumbed through my school report he would shake his head and then simply tell me that he was “disappointed.” My mother meanwhile being my mother simply said she would make us all a nice cup of tea which is what all British mums do. Your leg falls off………let’s have a cup of tea …….her son proves to be the thickest boy at school and burnt the science lab down…..don’t worry ………let’s have a nice cuppa. I love my Mum and I love my Dad for not beating my arse with a frying pan after reading my report.

What’s strange though is how things come full circle and in a few years I will be the parent looking at Kye’s first school report. I am guessing her preschool years will be OK. I will get a report (although these days it will probably come on email – right?) that Kye has managed to decorate a lovely piece of cardboard with paint and glitter without cutting her head off with the scissors.

But then as common entrance approaches, everything changes and I think this may be what’s happening to Stagemom, more of that in a moment. What I mean though is that as a parent, I am sure that I will think Kye is the greatest, most brilliant and most popular human being in the whole of human history. Her cardboard glitter art was the most amazing thing a 5 year old has ever done. I will picture Kye, on stage, thanking the Nobel academy. But then, suddenly, along comes a report that says that, actually, she’s well…..normal…….or if she takes after her Dadda …….. a bit thick.

I think Stagemom has huge aspirations for her daughter and maybe hasn’t seen the reality. You see she played her piece, it was a classical piece of music that seemed at times too challenging for Mia. She stood there and played it well and yes, it was good, maybe very good but……..and hey I am no flute expert …….but it sounded like an 11-year-old girl…….playing the flute. It could not have been easy for Mia either because as well as the 50 or so guests who were listening, her Mum was standing stage right, arms folded, scowling every time she made a mistake. I felt so sorry for her. But maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe she will go on to be a world-renowned flutist or is it fluteist or flautist?) But my guess is as soon as she is old enough she will snap her flute in half and take up nightclubbing and having fun. Because fun is definitely what this 11-year-old girl is not having.

So I have Kye’s first report card to look forward to and as a parent I shall be as nervous as can be about it. You know, it made me think. Maybe our bosses at work should send report cards to our kids on how well we are performing in our jobs. Can you imagine? “Second Officer Mario has made pleasing progress on the bridge this year and we’re encouraged with his efforts to stop looking up the dancers’ skirts. But he must try to avoid referring to the bow as the sharp bit at the front or he won’t get a promotion any time soon.”

I remember I gave Heidi a report card once. She asked me what I thought of a new dress she had brought. I was honest. I gave her an honest report and said it made her arse look huge. And was she pleased? It took me three weeks before I could walk without a limp.

And on another topic.

Sent: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 9:09 PM
Subject: Cabin —– Bidet broken.

Good evening all,

Please be advised that the bidet in cabin ____ had a broken pipe that resulted in water flooding the bathroom. Special clean team had the floor clean and dry and the pipe was repaired. Start time was 7:35pm and finished at 8:50pm.


Housekeeping Manager ’Carnival Magic’

It’s funny that after all these years working on cruise ships that I never knew that we had bidets in the suites. Not that I have ever stayed in a suite but I honestly had no idea that we had them. Two things here. One, the team as always did a brilliant job in repairing the pipe and cleaning up the bathroom. Secondly, why do we still have bidets? I mean, do people still use them…….Have you?

I have……..once……many years ago. Now, you will be happy to know that I am not going to tell you how a hot jet of water spurting up my bottom feels like. But I will tell you that I will never ever use one again. You see, what the people who invented the bidet tell you is that after depositing a spicy curry, there is nothing better than a good session on the bidet…. OK, that’s fine. But what they don’t tell you. As I found out while staying at a posh hotel in London is that some of the water that spurted up your chocolate starfish may reappear hours later and that is exactly what happened to me.

It was a romantic night that I had planned and had taken Heidi to London to see Harry Connick Jr and a posh dinner afterwards. Before we left for the evening I used the bidet in our hotel room. But it was as we were walking to the restaurant after the show that I suddenly felt an oozing sensation around my bottom area. Now some of the water from the bidet must have been trapped and had now decided it was Steve McQueen and the Great Escape was on. There is no more embarrassing feeling than having to walk through Piccadilly Circus with your hands clasped behind your bottom hoping that the people in the restaurant will not notice the now perfect circle of dampness appearing on my arse.
So, forget the bidet. It’s a nasty vicious invention which could have only been invented by the French. If you insist on using one, save your money, and use your neighbors sprinkler system in their front yard…they won’t mind.

Or, do a handstand in the shower.


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.