July 13, 2011 -

John Heald

Good morning. It’s 8:45 am here and as I look out of my window, I can see it’s a beautiful day here in Livorno. We have 2,000 guests on tours and as always the staff did a brilliant job getting them ashore. I want to now talk about fishing. Why do people go fishing and often I wonder why they just don’t go to the supermarket and buy a fish? I will explain why I have suddenly felt it necessary to talk about fishing in a moment, but first let me tell you why I hate fishing. I once had a go at fishing or knitting as I call it myself. Me and my friend Alan decided it would be fun.

The first thing after we bought our rods was to get some bait. The man in the shop said the best way to catch fish where I live is to use feathers. Righty-ho. So I should shoot a seagull and use its plumage to catch the fish? Great. But I was actually wrong. Feathers, actually, are little strips of tinfoil, each of which hides a hook. So I bought a packet, tied them to the line and flicked them into the sea where they became attached to bits of rock and seaweed. I would pull and tug and yank until the line broke, so then I went back to the shop and bought some more. Soon this became a routine. Get up. Go to bait shop. Buy feathers. Throw them into the sea. Lose them. Go back to the bait shop. Eventually, however, I met a man with a beard who said I’d be better off with live bait and a float.

This involves a lot of tying things to other things, but soon, I made my cast and watched as all the knots I’d tied came undone and everything just sank. Then I went back to the bait shop again. Honestly, it would have been easier and cheaper to have thrown my wallet into the sea every morning. The shopkeeper said that in 30 years, he’d never known anyone lose so much equipment. And that was before the whole reel thingy came off on one vigorous cast and was lost as well…….bugger. This was a typical day. Get up. Walk to sea. Undo knots. Come home and eat fish sticks from the supermarket.

Luckily, there were many local fishing experts in sandals and with beards on hand to explain what I was doing wrong, which, apparently according the local beards, was everything. Standing in the wrong place, making too much noise, casting incorrectly and wearing the wrong underpants. Eventually, one bloke told me to try spinners, which are shiny pieces of metal with hooks on the end. You toss them into the sea, reel them back, toss them into the sea, undo some knots, reel them back and so on. Until you die. Eventually after about 20 years standing in one place slowly getting frostbite surrounded by men with beards and smoking pipes I caught a fish.

I’m aware, of course, that most anglers free whatever they catch but this isn’t as easy as it may sound, technically or morally. Especially when the hook has gone right through the fish’s left eye. It seemed wrong somehow to pull it out of the sea, blind it and then throw it back again. Life for a blind fish can’t be easy. So I ate it with some chips.

Anyway, that’s not why I am talking about fishing. The reason I mentioned fishing was because this morning as I sat down to write, in my underpants, I flicked through the TV channels and came across the local Italian RAI station. It was typical Italian as the newscaster looked like a supermodel and in between each news item would lick her lips in the most seductive way.

Anyway, Miss Lickylipo cut to a story that had me enthralled. All I can tell you is that an old man was standing by a fishing boat screaming at the reporter waving his hands about as Italians do. You didn’t need to speak Italian to understand he was not a happy man. I watched enthralled and was reduced to fits of laughter when out of nowhere he produced a large dead fish and started to wave it around his head still shouting and screaming. I have no idea what was wrong and why he was so angry. Maybe Silvio Belisconi had sat on it while having rumpy pumpy with a prostitute or maybe he was telling the reporter to bugger off or he would soon be swimming with it…….this is Italy after all. All I know is that it was brilliant TV.

Oh and before we move on with the Q&A, lets welcome David and Victoria Beckham’s new baby into the world. Her name is Harper Seven and many are puzzled by the name “Seven.” Does it refer to the time she was born or her dad’s IQ or her mother’s waist measurement? It doesn’t really matter I guess because let’s face it, this celebrity couple were never going to call their daughter Tracy or Susan. I just wish the family well and hope that the Beckhams have the girl they have always wanted and every time I pick up a magazine I won’t have to see David Beckham wearing those sodding tight underpants with half a cucumber shoved down the front.

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

John Reisenwitz asked:

We just wanted to drop a note and say what an amazing trip we had. We were on the Magic on the 5/22/2011 sailing. My girlfriend and I could not have asked or wanted for anything more. And you sir, are a delight. Thank you and Carnival for a great and wonderful vacation.

John Reisenwitz and Barbara Hall

John says:
Hello John Reisenwitz and Barbara Hall,

What a brilliant way to start off today’s Q&A and I thank you most sincerely for taking the time to write. I do hope you had fun and that it won’t be long before we see you again.

My best wishes to you both.


Robert asked:

YOU are not going to believe this one! I spoke to a young lady who just got off the TRIUMPH last Saturday. It was her first cruise. She sailed with her Aunt and Uncle and cousin to celebrate her 21st birthday. She had a wonderful time. Really enjoyed it. Love the ship, the crew, the entertainment and the Lido Deck food. She and her cousin had a balcony cabin on deck 6 and really enjoyed that. I asked her how she liked the food. She thought that the French Fries were the best she had ever had. Great. When I asked her about the food in the London Dining Room she told me that she NEVER went to the Main Dining Room — she thought she had to pay extra for that. This was the second cruise for her Aunt, Uncle and cousin. They never told her ALL the food was free. But then she never asked them either.

John says:
Hello Robert,

Ummmmm……..ummmmmm……..ummmmm……..I am speechless. Please tell her how sorry I am that this happened and that while I am glad she enjoyed the fries that I am really upset that she didn’t get to eat in the dining room. Maybe we should have done a better job in letting her know it was part of the price she paid for the cruise or maybe she is…….. ummmmm…… blonde? Seriously, I have never heard this one before and thanks for letting me know. Just when you think you have heard it all.

Best wishes.


Bob & Nimia Dinsmore asked:

What make and model of cigar do you prefer?

John says:
Hello Bob and Nimia Dinsmore,

Thanks for asking me and I love all cigars but obviously with the new rules I can only smoke them during our cigars under the stars events. Anyway, I love Fuente Opus X which are my favourites. I hope I get to smoke one with you one day soon.

Best wishes to you both and thanks for asking.


Simon Powis asked:

I am new to your blog and how angry your comments and attempted humor about the environment and those of us who love our planet make me. Global warming is here and you should face up to it. Data from satellites and surface measurements show that January 2011 was globally the warmest in the 32-year satellite record started. Ocean temperatures are increasing and ocean heat content has increased considerably over the upper 700 meters since 1965, as shown by a wide variety of ocean thermometers. It’s ignorant uneducated people like you whose pea sized brains cannot fathom the damage that is being done to the planet. I have never been on a cruise and won’t for many reasons one being that the boats are obviously staffed by people such as yourself. Does Carnival have an environmental program? My guess judging by what you have written is no! Thousands of scientists (the great majority), hundreds of thousands of data points and literally millions of data sets are unequivocal. Global Warming is real. If you think otherwise you are just another jerk.

John says:
Hello Simon Powis,

First of all, welcome to the blog and I have been sitting here desperately trying to think what I said that had you writing this post. I see your comment was posted on May 29 and I went back to the blogs I wrote around that time but could not see anything that I thought would have spurred you to write this. Anyway, I do have my own opinions and obviously not all of them necessarily reflect those of the company I work for. I should point out that Carnival is at the forefront of environmental protection and each ship has an environmental officer whose sole job it is to see that we adhere strictly and without compromise to the many environmental rules and regulations that are set out by various government and maritime agencies. It’s no secret that there are differing opinions on the subject of global warming. You are correct, I am not the sharpest tool in the shed and having read your remarks about me, it would have been easy to dismiss you with some poor attempt at humour (spelt correctly) or indeed just not post your comments at all. But that’s not what this blog is about. Actually it’s about cruising with a bit of life’s journey thrown in for good measure. But it’s also about opinions and I love meeting and talking to people who think differently to me so everyone can roll up their sleeves and have a sodding good discussion. So thanks for your comments and I do hope that you will consider a cruise…… I promise you will have fun and besides…………we make a brilliant tofu salad.

Best wishes.


Clair Vine asked:

I had asked you to help me with some free stuff to be sent to my parent’s cabin during their 25th wedding anniversary cruise but nothing was sent. I am not sure if it was you who let me down or the people on the Inspiration but either way I will have second thoughts about cruising with Carnival again.

John says:
Hello Clair Vine,

I am so very sorry that this one slipped through the cracks. Between here and Facebook I try to help so many people out and depend for the most part on my colleagues help. I am so very sorry that your parents did not get anything and I will investigate to see where the problem was. Please wish them well and I do hope they had a great cruise.

Best wishes.


Jets Cruiser Mike asked:

Hi John,

Can you tell me if Carnival will return to cruising in Europe in 2013. I know the Breeze will be there next year but we want to do a Carnival Europe cruise in 2013 for my 50th birthday. Love the blog.

John says:
Hello Jets Cruiser Mike,

I can’t say for certain but I certainly hope so. This year your Carnival Magic has proven to be a huge success in Europe and we’re looking forward to introducing the Carnival Breeze in Europe next year. So as it stands now we have no information on our 2013 Europe deployment but will let you know as soon as we hear.

Best wishes.


Shelby asked:
Hi John,

Who in your opinion is the best cruise director? I ask this because I have read a thread on Cruise Critic where people have been writing who they think is the best and I wondered who you think deserves that title. We have never cruised with you but hope to someday soon

John says:
Hello Shelby,

That’s a really hard one to answer and I have to be careful because I know lots of my colleagues read this. I can tell you that the best CD Carnival ever had and probably ever will have was Gary Hunter who is now with Crystal. We have lots of new stars and again I don’t think it’s fair for me to pick a favourite but I will say that I also think Graham Seymour and Richard Spacey, both of whom are on the Something of the Seas, are brilliant and right at the top of their profession. So my apologies for not naming who I think the best is all though I do have three favourites for sure. I will say that I think our current crop is as good as we have had in many years.

Best wishes and I hope we sail together one day soon.


Becki asked:
Hey John,

Can you tell me who the cruise director will be on the Magic when you leave? I was hoping you would be there for the Christmas cruise but see you won’t be.

John says:
Hello Becki,

I am sorry I won’t be with you but fear not as the CD will be James Charlton who is here with me now and will do a brilliant job in making sure you have the best Christmas ever. If you have any other questions please let me know and I hope we sail together soon.

Best wishes.


Bee4 asked:

I have to tell you John that your morning shows with Calvin on the Carnival Magic were priceless and please can you look into doing some videos or podcasting them? The whole ship was talking about how funny they were. I am an executive with Disney and I can say that Carnival is very lucky to have you. Had a great time.


John says:

Hello Bee4,

Thanks so much for the kind words and it is a thrill for me to receive such praise from someone in the entertainment industry. I am glad you enjoyed the morning shows and certainly Calvyn is a treat to work with and I love hosting the morning shows with him. I will certainly ask the beards if posting them is possible and also about the podcasts……..whatever those are. I do hope you had fun and thanks again for sailing with us.

Best wishes.


Mikey Brown asked:
Hey John,

Another brilliant blog as usual and I am not just blowing sunshine up a dark alley if you know what I mean. Anyway, while back when you introduced us to the Magic’s Medical MD on board, Dr. Judy, I had mentioned that she did not look old enough to be a grannie let alone a great grannie. You said you would pass along my comments and I was wondering what she said? Just curious! BTW – 270 days to BC5 and hoisting a pint with you! Cheers mate!

John says:
Hello Mikey Brown,

Thanks for reminding me mate and I have sent these again to the Doc and here is her response:

I will always respond to flattery. I am 72 years old, have 12 grandchildren (though four steps) and one great grandchild – Grace – who is six months old, but I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting her. What else does this delightful person want to know? I look young because I LOVE my job on Carnival and as well as waking up looking forward to my life every day.

Senior Physician, Carnival Magic

Hope you are well and thanks so much for blowing some sun up the dark alley……love that phrase.

Best wishes.


ckirk88 asked:
Dear John,

First off, I am tickled to be writing a “Dear John” letter. This has been an unusual dream of mine. I am however, sorry that you are my victim. 🙂 Anyway, on to my question! My husband and I will traveling to Progreso and Cozumel, Mexico. We are very interested in buying a few Cuban cigars to smoke while in port and on the ship. I know we cannot bring them in the U.S. What I am wondering is, do you know where we could find some good, real Cuban cigars? I am guessing there will be an endless amount of people selling imitation Cuban cigars. It would be nice to know we are smoking the real deal! Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

John says:
Hello Ckirk88,

I am so glad that I could help you realise your dream and to point you in the direction of the Casa de Habana located at the Forum Shops in Cozumel. This is the only place that sells real 100% authentic Cuban cigars. Cozumel and Progresso are notorious for selling fake cigars so please be careful. A regular cigar smoker can tell by the colour, the wrap and the feel of a cigar but one way to know is the price. If a medium-sized Cuban cigar is selling for anything less than $25, it’s a fake so my advice is stick to Casa de Habana in Cozumel. Have a great time and please feel free to write a Dear John letter anytime.

Best wishes.


That’s all for today. And now another guest comment:

Guest: Mrs. ———Ref: 848021919A Cabin: _____ Added-Changed: 07/12/11 – 07/12/11

Mrs.______ stated she was very disappointed with the cruise. Guest said that the number of people onboard was not what she expected and she was disappointed that her state room did not have a bath tub. Guest also mentioned that she had expected a “different type” of guest to be on the ship and that she was also disappointed because there were no staff available for dancing with as they had on Holland America. Guest also mentioned that there were not enough choices of books in the library and that the dining room was too loud.

So what struck me here when I read this was the use of the word “disappointed” which after checking with the purser …….yes, yes the guest services associate…….I discovered was exactly the word she used time after time…….disappointed. The guest is traveling with another lady, both are in their early 70s and while we are not a perfect cruise line and while we continue to need to improve, in this case there is little we can do.

You see, I think that in some cases disappointment is a word for people who don’t think ahead. Like when I was 20 years old, my bank manager wrote to say he was disappointed that I had a 1,000-pound overdraft. This made him look a bit silly, because I was 20 years old and being “disappointed” because I had spent all my money and some of the banks as well on beer, clothes and entrance into clubs to meet girls for rumpy pumpy is like going to Paris and being disappointed that people were rude. Or watching a Jean Claude Van Dam movie and being disappointed it’s absolutely crap.

If an 80 year old multi millionaire comes home to find his gorgeous 21 year old wife having rumpy pumpy with the pool cleaner, he cannot claim to be “disappointed,” because surely, if he had any brains at all, he’d have seen it coming. I guess my point here is that if this lady had done any planning she would surely have known that we don’t have dance hosts onboard and that there will be 4,500 guests on the ship. And didn’t she check to see if the stateroom she had booked had a bathtub? Obviously this lady had a wonderful time on Holland America which is great to hear but to say that she is disappointed because our product is not the same as theirs completely baffles me. Being disappointed in the service or the food quality or the shows is understandable but surely in this case…….. it’s simply bad planning.

But I guess I should feel sorry for these ladies, though, shouldn’t I? I mean they don’t seem to be having a good time and so I have sent them a few things to try and cheer them up and followed this up with a phone call. Our conversation can be summed up by saying that the ship is too big and there are no single older people (men) for them to dance with and that “the ship is designed for young people.”

Obviously I apologised and pointed out all the different entertainment options they had and places where they could relax and enjoy peace and quiet. As I said, the ladies are in their early 70s and this has me thinking. It used to be the words “old people” and “cruises” were mentioned in the same sentence like Charlie Sheen and nuts, rumpy and pumpy and the French and running away, it was a stereotype that thanks to Ted and Micky Arison has been dispelled.

These two ladies are part of that stereotype — the few that still want no noise, shuffleboard, dance hosts and a cup of warm milk before bed. But mostly what I see on Carnival ships are a new generation of mature adults. This generation is now a bloody sight fitter than they used to be in the early days of cruising when I was a young bar waiter and Micky Arison had a Mick Jagger hairstyle.

My Dad is 70 million years old but there’s not a hint of incontinence yet. He spends hours in the garden and when Mum lets him he will spend days on end in the “dog house” which is his workshop where he will build world class furniture and if I am as fit and as coherent as my role model father is than I will be one lucky man. Elderly people, then, are no longer content with some prunes for breakfast and a nice view of the sea. They want to get down to the local DIY superstore for paint and a large hammer. On cruises it’s the same thing .the days of sitting on deck wrapped in a blanket, reading Shakespeare and sipping cups of warm cocoa before going to bed at 7 pm have been replaced. Now, they are on deck, sunbathing….some still wearing bikinis and g strings…..Shakespeare has been replaced by Jackie Collins and no longer do they want to hear In the Mood but want to twist and shag to the sounds of the Beatles and Motown. Yep, cruising for seniors has come a long way and the Carnival brands have something for every type of retired person. I just wish these two ladies had done their homework before they booked so that they wouldn’t have come here and been “disappointed.”

So today we start rehearsals for the new Carnival Legends show which will debut here on your Carnival Magic before going fleetwide. I know this has been a long time coming and I have seen quite a few comments from people who have said that while they still love the show they are a bit bored with the artists and songs. The same can be said about the dancers’ portion of the welcome aboard show which you will also be happy to know is being replaced this year, as well.

So on the cruise of August 14 we will open the new show and here is what you can expect to see your fellow guests entertain as in the order that they will appear:

1. Tina Turner What’s Love Got To Do With It
2. Cher Turn Back Time
3. Neil Diamond Sweet Caroline
4. Gloria Gaynor I Will Survive
5. Garth Brooks Friends in Low Places
6. Shania Twain Man I feel Like a Latvian Woman
7. Bruce Springsteen Born In the USA
8. Michael Jackson Billie Jean
9. Elvis Jailhouse Rock/Hound Dog
10. Frank Sinatra My Way

Now there will also be an addition to the show that will feature a couple who will have won our “Dancing with the Dancers” contest. We will take guests who have never learnt to dance before and they will get one of the dancers to practice with. They will perform a cha cha or a ummmm ……….a Bosafavor……..or Rumba Pumpy…………or whatever these dances are called and the day before the Legends show we will have the final and the winners will perform in the Legends show. Oh and there will be a special performance by the some of the entertainment staff that can only be described as brilliantly outrageous.

Sounds fantastic doesn’t it? Fantastic my arse! Because our director of production entertainment and my ex friend Kerry has replaced the Dolly Parton bit I had to do with something else. Putting that Dolly Parton dress on with its pendulous breasts made me feel sick every time. Now though that sick feeling has been replaced with explosive diarrhea.

I can’t tell you what it is I will be doing but let me say this……I would rather weld a huge pole half way down the Carnival Magic’s twister slide and go down it at full speed with my legs wide open than do what I have to do in the new and improved Legends show. There are certain signs that come along that tell you it’s time to move on…… and what I am going to be doing in the Legends show is one such sign. Sometimes there just isn’t enough vomit in the world.


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.