July 15, 2011 -

John Heald

I have mentioned before that my only concern since the Carnival Magic started sailing was that the voyages are all port intensive and that the seven- and nine-day cruises only have one sea day. One of the problems this causes is that I only have one travel talk which is held on embarkation day at 3:30pm. I then have 45 minutes to cover Monaco, Rome, Livorno, Naples and Messina. This means that after my welcome, a few audience interviews and the general how and where to get off the ship stuff and other orientation matters have been covered, I have very little time to actually talk about the ports themselves. I think I do an OK job in getting the main points across which is to let everyone know about the top three tours in each port and to help guests not on an excursion discover how to get around. But for some guests I obviously don’t do a good enough job as you will see here.

Guest: Mr_________-Ref: 122954177A
Cabin: ____ Added-Changed: 07/14/11 – 07/14/11 ____ – MORE HISTORY ON PORTS
Mr_________- called the GSD Office from his cabin to say that he was disappointed that the cruise director did not talk more about the history of the ports. Guest said he wanted to talk to cruise director.

My travel talks are not historical talks. I certainly try and give as many facts as I can about each site we visit but with limited time and the fact that I am as intelligent as a farm yard animal means this is not always enough. Anyway, I met with the guest yesterday afternoon and it was a somewhat challenging meeting. I knew I was in trouble straight away because he had a beard and as soon as I sat down I noticed he had a thick notebook with him. Oh joy.

Now some may feel that the cruise director’s job is one full of constant joy and fun and for the most part they would be right. Except on occasions like this where I spent the next 35 minutes being told the error of my ways and listening to Mr Historychannel tell me all the things that I should have mentioned in my talk which, because you all have better things to do, I won’t mention here. I know he is a paying guest but honestly, he talked in such a monotone voice that it took all of my will power not to slip into a coma. Every time he mentioned something he would cross it off the list on his note pad.

“You mentioned Pompeii but not Herculaneum where in fact the town was also destroyed by Mount Vesuvius but interestingly enough not by the ash and lava but by the following tsunami. This occurred………..” I sat there listening as best I could trying to resist the urge to grab the pen out of his hand and stab him in the eye with it. At one point I saw his beard grow in front of my eyes. His wife was with him the whole time but said not one word. Maybe she had lost the will to speak, maybe she was in a coma or maybe she was dead, I will never know because after 35 minutes I could take no more. Mr. Historychannel still had Messina to cover and so I asked to be excused just for a moment and went to guest services desk and whispered for Sabrina the supervisor to “please call my phone” and with a nod and a wink I sat back down. Sure enough she had gotten the message because just as he had turned the page on his sodding note pad my phone rang and it went like this:

John: “Hello captain” (obviously it was Sabrina), “Yes captain, of course sir I will be there straight away sir.”

Yes, I know it’s cruel and rude and a lie and all that but honestly I had already apologised to the guest and explained why I didn’t have time to talk about all the things on his notepad and to have to sit there for another 30 minutes would have driven me to violence. So I got up and made my apologies leaving the two sitting there. One scribbling something in his notepad the other bereft of any movement. Later I felt guilty and so I sent them a fruit basket and a signed copy of the Carnival Magic inaugural book from the captain which made me feel better about myself. Right up until the time I got this note.

An hour! FFS!………………..Maybe it’s time to start drinking again.

Time for today’s Q & A……….away we go.

Michael Clark asked:
John (Please Reply if you have time).

I just returned from my 15th Carnival cruise on the Freedom this past week. I want to thank you for setting up our Chef’s Table reservation for us. It was one of the best meals I have ever partaken of and Sanji was just the best. I do have one rather odd request that you may be able to help me with. I have a spreadsheet where I keep track of all my cruises (because that’s just who I am). I started this after my 6th or 7th cruise and went back to my Capers (they were still Capers then) to get the captain and cruise director of all my cruise. Unfortunately, one set of my Capers went missing and now I have a big??? Under “Captain” and “Cruise Director” for one of my cruises. If you could tap your vast archives of Carnival data and tell me who the Captain and Cruise Director were on the Carnival Destiny on 5/3/2003 I would be eternally grateful. So far I don’t have “John Heald” in the CD column but hopefully soon that will be rectified. (I have however, had your current captain, Capt. Giovanni Cutungo on three of my cruises).

Thanks John,

Michael Clark
Las Vegas, NV

John says:
Hello Michael,

I am so glad you enjoyed The Chef’s Table and that you had a great cruise. I think it’s great that you keep records like this and when you look back at them that you are able to see all those memories. So your captain was Captain Angelo Los and the cruise director was Greg Kneele. I hope this helps complete your records and if there is anything else you need please do let me know.

Best wishes.


Eric G asked:


I want you to read this link from Cruise Critic Jewish members. As you will see we feel that out of all the cruise lines that Carnival does the least for our faith and that is simply not good enough. I suggest that you work harder to put Carnival’s level of service for its Jewish passengers to that of lines like Holland America and RCCL.

John says:
Hello Eric G,

I apologise that time does not allow me to open and read through the link but I think my time is better served asking you or other guests of the Jewish faith what it is we are not doing and what you would like to see us do that we are currently not. I do know that we don’t have a rabbi visit the ships as indeed we don’t have a current priest program for Christian and Catholic guests. But outside of that please can you tell me what you would like to see and I promise to give it my full attention.

Best wishes.


Monica B. asked:
Hi John!

In regards to the today’s blog about the classical music not going well with embarkation of guests (totally agree!) … has CCL ever thought about a steel drum band playing as guests walk onboard in the atrium lobby? How Caribbean would that be!? That would have people in such a good mood! Just a suggestion to pass along to the beards.


John says:
Hello Monica B,

We had a big discussion about this sometime ago and it was felt by the cruise directors and the beards that while a steel drum band is nice for a short time, after a while it all starts to sound the same. We are currently working on changing some of our live music and looking at the results of the poll that we placed on Facebook. One thing is for certain and that’s we love live music and will continue to support it. Thanks so much for your suggestion.

Best wishes.


Kelvin Bercow asked:
Hi John,

It’s going to be my DW 12th anniversary when we cruise on the Inspiration august 18. I need you to secure me a table for 2 by the window as it’s our anniversary and my wife’s birthday later that week. We were on the Legend last year and had Jen as the cruise director. We didn’t care for her at all and hope the one this time is better. Can you tell me who it is? It would be nice if you were to send us a gift to help celebrate these special occasions.

John says:
Hello Kelvin Bercow,

I was surprised that you didn’t think Jen did a great job as cruise director and I hope you will enjoy Stephanie Meads who will be on the Carnival Inspiration with you. I have asked the maitre d to help you with your table request and hopefully he will be able to help you. Have a wonderful cruise and it will be my honour, my absolute unbridled honour to send you and your darling wife something special. Have a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes.


Pen asked:
Hello John,

We were just on the Carnival Magic on the May 22 sailing and had the best vacation EVER! Europe, the ship and the crew were all amazing! Our favorite place onboard was the Red Frog, and on the last night I saw a t-shirt there that I wanted but it was out of stock. It was long sleeve with the ports all listed on it, my question is there any way I can order one? Thanks for your help!

John says:
Hello Pen,

I am so glad you had fun and enjoyed this beautiful new ship and her brilliant crew. Here is the customer service information for the company that runs our onboard shops and I hope they will be able to help you get your shirt.

Toll Free Phone: 1-800-540-4785 or Outside U.S. Non-Toll Free: 1-305-728-4520
Fax: 786-845-1112

Best wishes,


Tina P asked:

I just got back from our cruise on the Splendor. Nice time but I have to say that Carnival has to do something about people with bare feet at the buffet lines. It was DISGUSTING and nothing puts me and hundreds of other passengers off their food then the sight of bare feet. A staff member should stand at the entrance to the lido buffet and stop anyone from entering unless they have shoes on. This is what they do on RCI, NCL, Princess and NCL. Why doesn’t Carnival adopt such a policy? Hygiene and good manners dictate it surely Mr Heald.

John says:
Hello Tina P,

I will start by saying that I hate feet as well. I hate my feet and your feet and everyone’s feet and I can understand how many people don’t like to see bare feet. I don’t think we will ever stand at the many entrances to the lido deck for the many hours that food is served there demanding that guests put something on their feet. We don’t have the staff to do this and I was surprised that the other cruise lines you mentioned all do this as I have never heard this before. Anyway, we must do a better job in making note of this and getting the message across but honestly, people do come from the pools and while we must, absolutely must make sure they all have cover ups and or T-shirts on, I am not sure we will ever get to the place where everyone has shoes on. I will remind my colleagues though and thanks for bringing this to my attention.

Best wishes.


James Montague asked:

Hey John,

My girlfriend and I just finished our first cruise ever. We live in Canada so we chose the May 30 sailing of the Miracle leaving out of New York so we could drive down and save some money. We didn’t know what to expect, but I’m happy to say that this cruise wildly exceeded our expectations. The ship, food, shows, and staff was all fantastic, but there is one person who needs to be recognized. Our headwaiter, Miljenko from Croatia, was absolutely terrific. He was polite, knowledgeable, helpful, but above all, he was friendly. He told us what the best things on the menu were and sometimes steered us away from ordering things we may not have liked (the face he made when one of our table mates tried to order the diet pumpkin pie was priceless). His recommendations were spot on and he wasn’t afraid to have some fun with us. If you could please make sure he gets this thank you, I would truly appreciate it. I hope he remembers us, because we will remember him, he is one of the main reasons I look forward to my next Carnival cruise.


Early Seating, Table 179
Bacchus Dining Room

John says:
Hello James Montague,

This is a fabulous post and within the next 24 hours there will be a young man called Mijenko who will have the biggest smile on his face and I thank you most sincerely for making this happen. It’s crew like this that will ensure people return to cruise with us and I thank you once again for writing.

My best wishes to you both.


Joe 99 asked:
Hi John,

I just read on Cruise Critic that you will arrange the emptying of the mini bar in our cabin. I would like you to do this for me as I will be bringing my own sodas and water. I am going on the Conquest ship July 31 and will be in suite 7349 and can you ask the dining manager for a private table for 2 as we have never been lucky enough to have one.

John says:
Hello Joe 99,

I am sorry to say that the information you read about the mini bars is not true. I can only make such arrangements only for those guests who need space to store medicine such as insulin, etc. I am sure you realize that if I empty the mini bars for people bringing on their own sodas and drinks that I will be inundated with such requests and honestly I don’t want to open that door. I hope you have a brilliant time on the Carnival Conquest.

Best wishes.


Sundip asked:
Hi John – Do you earn more money than the captain and I know you can’t tell me how much you get paid but can you tell me if it’s more than $100,000 a year. I have a bet with my wife you see. I say you get $80,000 and she says $100,000. Can you at least say who is right? She also says you must weigh 300 pounds but I think it must be 320 so who is right on that one. We have a bet so please answer as I want to win.


John says:

Hello Sundip,

Well, not sure how to answer that one and short of mind your own sodding business, I will say that I weigh 277 pounds and as for my salary obviously I can’t discuss that in anyway except to say not enough to own an Aston Martin.

Best wishes.


And on that note, we will finish for today. Thanks for all the great comments and questions.

There is no doubt, absolutely no doubt that those who said that the RedFrog Pub would “just be another bar” were totally wrong. Right from the first cruise it has been the place to be. The crew simply refers to it as “The Frog” which upsets those from France. And it’s a place that has two faces. During the day people come in to have a drink, enjoy the $3.33 delicious food items and play shuffleboard, darts and put their favourite tune on the video juke box. This is the laid back Caribbean vibe that the beards wanted. However, we have all been surprised at how that vibe changes at night because as the sun goes down the RedFrog becomes a place of animated, excited conversation and fun. Much of this is a credit to the bar staff who, for the most part, are from the Caribbean and their Jamaican, Trinidadian and Guyanian personalities shine through. Then there is Danny Black, the RedFrog’s principal performer who, along with Tim Pierce, provides music that is simply perfect. You will often hear the guests singing along to their music and in fact it has become an extension of the piano bar and the atmosphere they create.

All of the above makes for a brilliant atmosphere but hold on……I would be rather silly if I didn’t also mention that there was also another reason for the fun, vibrant feeling that can be found in “The Frog”…..the beer. Yep, there is no doubt that the ThirstyFrog Red is a massive hit and is by far the best selling beer there. So I thought you might like to see some of the pub’s own private label being served so let me turn things over to Mr. Radu and his camera as we pour you a pint …… or more…….of Thirsty Frog.

red frog pub

red frog pub

Yep, the RedFrog is the place to be and is a massive, massive hit here on your Carnival Magic. Cheers!

I have been here on Carnival Magic for four months now and I am still discovering things about the ship. For example, I had not, until last night, been on the Serenity area at night and had no idea how many people use the bar up there for a drink, peace and quiet and a place to sit in the oversized chairs and watch a stunning Mediterranean sunset that stretches across the entire horizon. The Spa Manager Mia had told me that this was happening and so I decided to go take a look and even without any advertising there were 50 to 80 guests there. Now my dilemma is having seen this should I add some live music, maybe some jazz or do I just leave it alone? I think I will leave it alone and just let the only sound be the clink of the martini glass as couples relish in the glorious sunset and their love for each other. I don’t think we utilize our Serenity areas at night enough though and I am certainly going to look for ways to improve on this.

There is another place onboard that I had never been to before either until recently and that’s the public bathrooms on deck 5 aft next to the steakhouse. I am not sure who designed the public bathrooms located there but I bet he was one skinny bastard. I say this because any normal-sized man cannot fit in the space provided between each cubicle and if you, like me, are extra medium, you’re totally buggered. All the other bathrooms I checked are fine, but take heed men unless you are a stick insect or can urinate from six feet away, avoid the steakhouse bathroom. I tried to wedge myself into the stall I realised that there was more chance of Mr. Historychannel getting his own HBO Comedy Special then me having a successful call of nature. So, as the urge to go just seconds away, I went into one of the cubicles.

Normally us men only do this because all the urinals are being used (or have been designed by a nine year old) but as you know there are always certain risks involved. A man can take perfect aim at the toilet, and still manage to hit his left pant leg which goes onto his shoe. As soon as I got married, Heidi started to train me as we were constantly involved in the seat up/seat down battle — a battle that all men eventually lose. Therefore I’m no longer allowed to pee like a man, standing up. I am required to sit down to go. She has convinced me that this is a small price to pay. Otherwise if she had gone to the toilet one more time at night and either sat on a wet seat, or fell into the toilet, then my life would have been over.

Now another thing us guys don’t usually like to talk about, but because you and I have become such good friends and you think I’m a classy guy, I might as well be candid with you because it’s a real problem, and you ladies need to be understanding. I won’t get into specifics but let’s just say that most mornings us blokes wake up with two things — a tremendous desire to pee, and a situation in which you feel as if you are able to cut a hole in the side of the Carnival Magic. It really takes its toll on your aim. To combat this situation, Heidi said to “Sit down like I told you to do all the rest of the time” but that doesn’t work. I have found the only effective maneuver to deal with this morning urinary dilemma is to assume the flying superman position laying over the toilet seat.

You know we have Valentine’s Day which I hate for many reasons. I hated it at school because February 14 was a day I was reminded I was an ugly sod and that absolutely no girl would want to see me naked. And even now I am married I still hate it as we men are expected to get all lovey dovey and as mushy as a litter of Labrador puppies. But it’s time for us men to join together.

Therefore, I have decided that this February 13, 2012, the day before Valentine’s Day will be Men’s Liberation Day and I decree that all men should and must have a day when they can do whatever they want. Leave work late for the hell of it and don’t bother calling to tell her. Go to a restaurant with a male mate and have an entire conversation without mentioning feelings. Go to a restaurant with a mate and have a meal without bugger all conversation. Watch end-to-end episodes of The Sopranos while eating a bucket of KFC and wipe your greasy fingers on her scattered cushions. Go to the toilet and leave the toilet seat up and go over the scented candles if you want to. And when you go to bed, hog the comforter and fart freely.

Who’s joining me?


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.