August 19, 2011 -

John Heald

My beach ball stomach seems to have attracted a lot of attention these past few months here on the blog and here in my inbox from the beards was another one….well….kind of.

Have a read of this…

Casandra Pirret asked:

I have been reading your blog for a few months now in preparation for our cruise on the Carnival Splendor. I was though angry at your negative reference to Richard Simmons who may be a jovial reference to you but not to me. Without him I would not have lost the weight and he brought me from 388 pounds to my current weight of 290 pounds. Maybe you should take a good look at yourself in the mirror and rather than ridicule this great man. Maybe you should allow him to help you lose all that fat, get fit and find an energized new you. I am so upset by your comments that I am considering not reading your blog anymore and writing to Carnival about this!!!

John says:
Hello Casandra Pirret,

Please forgive me. I know that occasionally I reference Richard’s …..ummmm………..personality and I can see how the people he has helped may find that offensive. However, I do know, having sailed with him and his “Cruise To Lose” groups just how much he is respected and how he truly wants to help those who need help losing weight. His energy is extraordinary and his dedication to those who need his assistance is amazing. I can see that he has helped you and may I congratulate you on your weight loss — you should be very proud. If there is anything I can do for you before your cruise please let me know and I sincerely apologise for the upset. I hope that you will continue to enjoy the blog.

Best wishes.


So there you go me and my big mouth and that then means no more Richard Simmons’ jokes.

It was interesting reading those words “Lose fat, get fit and you will find an energised (spelt correctly) new you.” Well, that may be true but short of plugging my shrimp into an electrical socket I doubt even Mr. Simmons can help this fat sod. It takes every molecule of self discipline to get up in the morning and blog and Facebook and be a cruise director.

And the constant reminder of who fat I am just doesn’t come via the blog or by guests here on the Carnival Magic rubbing my stomach asking when the baby is due. Nope, it continues at home as well as my mailbox is flooded with invitations to join local gyms. We have two big gyms near us and both are exactly the same and if I did open a gym membership I would have to be “inducted” by a 20 year-old muscle-bound fitness instructor wearing tight Lycra around his genitals. Honestly, I would rather dip my thingy in a deep fat fryer.

Heidi looks great and apart from swimming with Kye she keeps her shape by…..well I have no idea as all she does at home is play with Kye, watch crap TV and gossip on the phone with her friends. Anyway, Heidi has though wasted money on something which again with much respect to Richard that I have never ever understood…..the celebrity workout DVD. Heidi has bought loads of these things over the years ranging including that annoying chap……ummm………what was his name…..you know the Ti Bo chap…..Billy Bollocks or something like that. I told her it was a waste of money because have you ever tried to do a fitness video in front of your TV? If so you will have noticed the main drawback: you have to do it in front of your sodding TV. Which is in the living room and has furniture in it, so before long you have smashed a foot on side of the coffee table, got carpet burns on your knees and then when Billy Bollocks tells you to “Push it girls, come on, just a few more big kicks”……you give it all you’ve got and smash your foot through the bloody TV screen. Ti Bo……..my arse.

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

Renee asked:


I love reading your blog and I think that you do a fantastic job! I am booked on the Carnival Dream and was looking shore excursions in St. Thomas. I noticed that the excursion to The Baths of Virgin Gorda is no longer on the website. Is this excursion not offered any more? Please let me know at your earliest convenience. Thank you for your help.

John says:
Hello Renee,

Thank you for those very kind words, I am so glad you enjoy the blog. We have canceled this excursion on some ships, not because it is not a good excursion but because there are time restrictions on this and getting guests off and back to the ship on time and not rushing them on the tour itself proved impossible. Therefore we have stopped selling this on Carnival Dream. Have you been to St. John? If not our excursions that go there and in particular Trunk Bay are stunning and I would highly recommend them to you. Have a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes.


Howard Graham asked:
Hello John,

First I want to thank you and Carnival for making our 9/11 cruise request a reality and the delayed sailing will be great for the people on board, the people of NYC and Carnival, as well. You had emailed me and for the life of me I cannot find it must have used that magic key

I had asked you if you would set up a time and place to present the captain with a challenge coin and plaque and you said you would be honored to I know the sailing is 60 days away but we are planning our time together as a group and would want everyone involved in this to attend. We have a meet and greet scheduled at 2 pm on 9/12 if this would work for the captain or we can even do this on stage the night he addresses the passengers. Also thanks to Carnival for getting a bag piper as we view the lights. WYWT. Also, we have something very special from all of us that we want to send to you when we return from this once in a lifetime cruise.

Could you give me an address I can mail this to that insures you get it quickly? Once again Thank you for all your help and support, from your fans at 911 Cruise Critic Group Carnival Miracle.

Howard & Elizabeth Graham

As a side note people have been asking since we have a delayed sailing will dinner now be open seating. So people who want to can view the sail away.

John says:
Hello Howard Graham,

Let me say a big thank you to you for saying thank you, not to me, I was only the messenger, but to the people shore side who set this up and made this happen. You writing also gives me the chance to show that Carnival really does appreciate the members of Cruise Critic who were the first to ask us to do this because it shows that the conspiracy theories that are spouted by people with names like Ugogolfgator are total and utter nonsense. Sorry about that, I went off subject there. My apologies. It will be I am sure a very emotional few minutes and we are making sure as many who want to see the ceremony can by moving the two dinner seatings accordingly.

Thank you also for thinking of the captain. I have told the guest services desk to expect a letter from you to deliver to the captain inviting him to attend your meet and greet which I am sure he will do. There is really no need to send me something but if you can tell us all about it on a review here, that would allow us all to share in something that I am sure will mean so much to so many. I wish you and all your Cruise Critic Group the most wonderful time.

Best wishes.


Rob Lac asked:

John do you know when the 2012 CD schedule will be posted?


John says:
Hello Rob Lac,

It will be ready to post by September 25, Rob.

Best wishes.


Connie Johnson asked:

I was wondering if you could answer a question I have looked for but can’t find anywhere I’ve looked. We’ve sailed on Carnival twice and other lines as well. Some of them carry Fox News and some do not. The last time we were on Carnival was in 2008 and at that time, Fox News was not available. Could you please let me know if Carnival has changed their coverage to include it? My husband is considering a long cruise this fall and is giving this reason a great deal of, well, consideration! Thank you for your time in reading this, it is very much appreciated!

Connie Johnson

John says:
Hello Connie Johnson,

I am sure I am going to have comments below about this from Fox News lovers but the answer is I am afraid ……no. We have the widest selection of network coverage than any other cruise line with NBC, CBS, TNT, ABC and Fox, as well as ESPN and Discovery but this package comes with CNN. Hopefully your husband will manage for a week without Fox New because you are both having such a brilliant time onboard. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

Best wishes.


Taylor E asked:

Request for table for 2 for cruise on 9/05/11 by the window for 11th wedding anniversary.

Taylor and Grant Edisson

John says:
Hello Taylor E,

Congratulations on your anniversary and I have asked the maitre d on the Carnival Fantasy to do all he can to please please please please please please please please please please get you a table for two.

Have a brilliant time and happy anniversary.

Best wishes.


Christie Derco asked:

We are home a month from our cruise aboard the Carnival Miracle. I’d like to thank you very much for your gifts for our parent’s 50th anniversary. Thirteen of us cruised together and I couldn’t have had a better time! There was so much to do; I couldn’t have done it all in eight day’s time. I guess I’ll have to book another! May I please ask you to do me one more favor? Our room steward, Santika, went out of his way to make us feel welcome. While speaking with him about his home, he mentioned he kept chickens. I love chickens and when he heard, he had a chicken towel animal waiting for me that night. These little things do mean more to me than anything! Our waiter, Rufino, was so kind. Along with suggesting the best of the menu, he stored my cane each night at dinner. Like I said, it’s the little things that make you feel special. Every staff member went above and beyond what one would expect. But if you could please pass along the praise to those in charge, I’d be very grateful. While you’re there, please mention how wonderful Miss Jenny is at getting the teens of Circle C involved. My youngest is shy, but Miss Jenny made sure she had a good time. She also went out of her way to let me know how well behaved my children were. As a parent, you must know how nice it is to hear your child(ren) praised. She’s a gem! I’m going to be saving pennies to take another cruise as soon as I can. It really is the best bang you can get for your buck!

Best wishes.


John says:
Hello Christie Derco,

How wonderful for the family to be all together like this to celebrate 50 amazing years. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this review and the crew you mentioned, as well as the ship’s senior management will all be thrilled when they see it. Miss Jenny sounds quite the character and I will also make sure she gets to see this. I hope it’s not too long before we see you again and if there is anything you need before we do please let me know.

Best wishes.


Dave Quinn asked:


Loved the Carnival Magic and you and Calvyn were so funny. Could you do me a favor though and tell me if the beer at the RedFrog Pub is ever going to be sold on land. I am from Boston, the beer capital of America, so I know my beers and the ThirstyFrog Red is as good as I have tasted. It would be sensible of Carnival to sell it on land as it would make a fortune. Thanks John for the great cruise and this wonderful blog.

John says:
Hello Dave Quinn,

I am so glad you had fun here and hosting the Morning Show with Calvyn has become something I always look forward to. I think the popularity of ThirstyFrog Red has taken us all by surprise a bit. We hoped guests would like it but I don’t think we would ever have expected it to be this popular. Even the 101-ounce, self-serve tap tube thingy is so popular we have had to order more. I have no idea if we are planning to sell this on land but I will certainly ask for you and let you know what the beards say. I also have to mention that until I read your posting that I had no idea that Boston was the beer capital of America. I hope we see you again soon and just so you know we have put ThirstyFrog on many of our ships for even more of our guests can enjoy.

Best wishes.


Lisa Green asked:

I must start by saying I enjoy your FB and blog very much. I found it just a while back. It has been four years but I must tell you about an experience we had on the Carnival Triumph sailing the western Caribbean in May of 2007. This was our first cruise on Carnival and one person TRULY stood out. His name was June and he was our dining room waiter. I have no idea if he is still with CCL but if he is I hope he is moving up within the company. I thought you should know this because as FATE would have it and not in a million years would I guess what would happen three months later.

Our son then 18 got picked up to play for a baseball team in St. Thomas. We flew down there in August 2007 for the week to watch him play. They had the day off from playing so we went into town and seen the Carnival Triumph in port. NO WAY right? We were walking down the street someone was calling our names. It was JUNE! Three months and thousands of passengers later this fellow remembered us. All of three of us. Now that is a true employee. We talk about all the time… …..remember that time we ran into June in St. Thomas, he recognized us? He spoke to us? He could have just kept going but he actually took his time to speak to us. He will always hold a place in our hearts that is for sure. Since that time we have sailed on the Carnival Inspiration, Emerald Princess, booked on the Carnival Liberty for this October, (we are taking both our mother in laws who have never cruised ,they are 71 and 76 both our dads passed away over the last two years) and the Carnival Fantasy for April 2012. Our new goal is to sail on every ship Carnival has to offer throughout the company. Thank you for all you do keep up the good work!!! Oh by the way our son’s team won that tournament!!

John says:
Hello Lisa Green,

What an absolutely terrific story and one that I am sure everybody here enjoyed reading. I checked our records and I can’t see a June listed so I am going to send this to a colleague in personnel who has more ways of tracking him down than I do. Rest assured that if he is still with the company that we will send this to him and somehow get you in touch with each other. How brilliant that he remembered your name and that is exactly why Carnival’s crew is the best at sea. I hope we see you aboard a Carnival ship again and who knows, maybe with June serving you once again?

Best wishes to you all.


Joe T asked:

I have heard that Carnival does not show college football games on their boats. I will be on the Carnival Legend for thanksgiving and I need assurance that Carnival will show the Alabama-Auburn game otherwise me and my family will be very upset indeed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John says:
Hello Joe T,

Ahhh yes — the Alabama Red Tide vs the Auburn Suncreams……..a classic matchup. Joe, while I can’t promise that we will show this I can say that if it is a game on network TV then there is a good chance we will have it on for you in the sports bar. Have a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes,


Alison asked:
Hi John,

My daughter and I travelled on one of your cruises in the Caribbean about four or five years ago (my husband was ill at the time so she took his place), and we never laughed so much. You had been following round a police officer the whole week and made him do some very funny things. He was such a good sport. So glad that when my husband and I come on board the Magic on 4 Sept you will be the CD, so he can experience your fun too.

John says:

Hello Alison,

I will indeed be here with you on the beautiful Carnival Magic and I promise to do my best to make it as fun as it was last time. I hope to meet you onboard and so glad to hear that your husband finally gets to experience a Carnival fun vacation.

Best wishes to you all and see you soon.


That’s all for today and thanks for a great week of comments, many of course of which have been about the menus. Some have asked for the rotation on the three- and four-day cruises and here they are for you.

Three-day cruises: D41, D42, D44

Four-day cruises: D41, D42, D43, D44

I know, bugger, I forgot the desert menus and will slap them up next week.

It has been a brilliant cruise so far and after the difficulties of the last one this has been a breeze. And talking of which and just in case you missed the news yesterday, here is the press release about your new Carnival Breeze web sites.

In anticipation of the debut of the new tropical-infused Carnival Breeze, Carnival Cruise Lines today launched Live the Carnival Breeze Life, a fun campaign to inspire people to enjoy and celebrate the island mindset year-round, while also offering fans a first look at this spectacular new “Fun Ship.”

By visiting the new Carnival Breeze tab on the company’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/carnival), fans can enjoy a fun and engaging social experience with exclusive opportunities, videos and giveaways – all while learning more about the new 130,000-ton ship, which sets sail in June 2012. The tab includes a “Meet the Carnival Breeze” area with detailed renderings offering a sneak peek at the ship’s stunning public spaces.

Just as Carnival Breeze is designed to provide guests with the breezy feeling of the tropics, the Live the Carnival Breeze Life campaign encourages “fun-atics” to infuse that fun Caribbean spirit into their everyday lives. By visiting the Carnival Breeze tab on the company’s Facebook page, fans can declare “I Will Live the Carnival Breeze Life” to join the movement while also raising money for a great cause. For each person who joins, Carnival will donate $1, up to $20,000 total, to its charitable partner, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®, one of the world’s premiere centers for the research and treatment of pediatric cancer and other catastrophic childhood diseases.

While on the new Facebook tab, visitors are also invited to enter the Carnival Breeze Great Flip-Flop & Cruise Giveaway through September 1, 2011, to be among the 1,000 randomly selected entrants to receive a pair of special, limited-edition, red, white and blue Carnival Breeze flip-flops. From those lucky winners, one Golden Flip Flop grand prize winner will have the ultimate opportunity to Live the Carnival Breeze Life on a free cruise vacation for two aboard the Carnival Breeze.

“As we gear up for the introduction of our tropical-inspired Carnival Breeze, we encourage Carnival fans to celebrate the spirit of the Caribbean in their everyday lives,” said Jim Berra, chief marketing officer for Carnival Cruise Lines. “With the end of summer quickly approaching, there’s no better time to start to Live the Carnival Breeze Life – whether it’s donning flip-flops to a business meeting or adding a drink umbrella to your morning orange juice. We invite visitors to regularly explore all the fun, interactive experiences and videos about Carnival Breeze and island life on our Facebook page and celebrate the tropical lifestyle whether they’re on board a ‘Fun Ship’ or in their own backyard.”

A Carnival Breeze Preview
The new Carnival Breeze sets the stage for unforgettable fun in an environment that will bring people together and deliver the carefree feeling of the Caribbean. The ship will feature many open areas to bring in the sun, sea and sky with colorful interiors and stunning public spaces that take their cues from the region’s cool island breezes and warm tropical sunsets.

Through dramatic artist renderings, fans can get a first look at Carnival Breeze’s design on Facebook and at www.carnivalbreeze.com. From the sun-splashed ambiance of the Lido Marketplace restaurant and a palm tree-lined indoor/outdoor café and live entertainment venue called Ocean Plaza to the Lanai outdoor wraparound promenade with sweeping ocean views and the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub, Carnival Breeze brings the outdoors in, with a seemingly endless variety of ways to relax and have a great time. The breezy tropical surroundings even extend to the ship’s staterooms which incorporate a palette of pleasing pastel hues and a striking new design.

Even More Fun on Facebook and Online
When fans need a respite from their everyday routine, they can turn to the Carnival Breeze Facebook tab where each Thursday from 3-4pm EDT the company will feature an hour-long Carnival Breeze Break. During these weekly breaks, Carnival fans can chat with each other and the Carnival team to share their tips and stories of fun, and receive a giveaway – from island-inspired food and drink recipes to Carnival Breeze desktop wallpaper and more.

The new Facebook tab also features an exclusive photo gallery where Carnival fans can showcase how they are inspired to live in the spirit of the Carnival Breeze. Here, visitors will also find tips to Live the Carnival Breeze Life, and a comedic Web series featuring “Mr. Breezie,” a character who is transformed by the enjoyable Carnival Breeze lifestyle.

Mr. Breezie: Volume I: Breezy Beginnings


Mr. Breezie: Volume II – Parking

Carnival enthusiasts and cruise rookies alike can learn even more at www.carnivalbreeze.com, where they’ll find a “How It’s Made” section featuring a construction timeline, and images and videos of the shipbuilding progress. The site also offers a countdown clock for the ship’s U.S. arrival, consumer testimonials, port-of-call and itinerary offerings, and information on the many dining, activity and entertainment choices available.

Following an inaugural 12-day cruise from Venice departing June 3, 2012, Carnival Breeze will operate a series of 12-day Mediterranean voyages from Barcelona through October 25, 2012. After its trans-Atlantic crossing, Carnival Breeze will sail year-round from Miami beginning November 24, 2012, offering port-intensive six- and eight-day cruises that showcase the best the Caribbean has to offer.

Thanks to Vance in PR for sending this and many congratulations to Jim and his marketing team for these two great sites and good luck with the contest……….oh and apologies yet again to those outside of the United States who due to various federal laws are not allowed to enter. We are all very excited about the new ship and there are things we haven’t even begun to tell you about this fantastic fun for all ship.

This cruise has been so much better than the last one despite the large international count again here. The guests are much friendlier and actually talk to you when you say hello. Last week I would say “hello” to people and they would look at me as though I had just asked if I could borrow their wife for some rumpy pumpy in lifeboat #7. The British are here in numbers and are loving it…….really and truly loving it.

When I was a child, British people didn’t go on cruises or even leave the UK for the most part, they would just holiday on the British coast. Only “rich people” left the country in the 1970s. They’d go to the south of France and Spain, while the rest of us went to places most of you have never heard of and stay in hotels that would make Fawlty Towers look like the Savoy.

One of the many reasons the British cruise to the Med is for guaranteed sunshine because for the most part the British summer lasts as long as an All You Can Eat Shrimp Buffett would on a Carnival ship…….apparently. As I said, as a kid and then a young teen all I remember on our holiday’s with my Aunty Margaret and Uncle Don and family or my Mum and Dad’s friends the Smiths, was whether it was Torquay in Devon, or Tenby in Whales……it would rain……..every single one of the seven sodding days we were there. I learnt by the age of 14 that the key to surviving a British holiday was to lower my expectations to somewhere lower than a snake’s testicles. It was worse when Dad decided we would go camping and I would rather eat Meatloaf than go camping……..oh by the way that’s Meatloaf the singer I would rather eat…………not the meatloaf on the new menu.

It would always take my Dad three hours to get the tent up and when it did (sorry Dad) it always looked like a cheap piece of crap compared to the other tents. And the Smith’s were rich so they had a caravan.

The thing that I hated about camping more than the cold, more than sleeping on the floor or having to poo in a bucket or after some undercooked hamburger pooing in an empty bottle of Coke …….was the fact that all that kept me from being eaten by a werewolf or attacked by the camp site’s resident slasher………..was a zipper. And that tent zipper would never ever do up all the way. There was always a little gap in which Jason could stick his cleaver through. In the world of tenting, every single zipper gets stuck all the time and I have clear and present memories of my Dad who would only ever swear when we went camping. He would be outside in the freezing cold putting the tent up, jiggling the zipper thingy backward and forward, knowing that with each tug, and each muttered “Bugger and bollocks” and “For f**k’s sake,” more and more of the tent was being swallowed by the fastener.

Eventually, and often with the help of a knife, he would get through and me my sister Sue Drip and Mum and Dad would jump into our sleeping bags because it was so cold. But once in there we would yank the zipper and instantly the entire bag disappears into it. And we could not fish it out because our fingers were numb from the cold. To warm them up, Dad would light the camping stove. Simple, you might think. In the civilized world there are many burners that light at the touch of a button, or with the merest hint of a match. But this is tenting and we were poor, so the stove we had was designed to not light at all for two hours, and then when it does it would usually blow up in your face.

The thing is that some people find these aspects of tenting stimulating and the harsher and more uncomfortable the better…….….it puts you in touch with nature say people who wear sandals and have beards……..nature my arse. The British vacationer today has shun camping and is now cruising and can be in touch with nature from their cabin when without having to unzip anything they can call the steakhouse and be even more in touch with nature by ordering a nice big porterhouse.

I still hate zippers today. For most of my life I have raised and lowered the zipper in my pants without getting my king prawn caught in the fabric. But now I wear dresses. Last year it was the Dolly Parton one and this year it is The Supremes’ purple monstrosity they make me wear and trying to zip it up and down is bloody torture and no………I am not asking anyone to help “unzip my dress” — a man has his limits you know. The worst thing though is coming back to the cabin and finding yourself covered in glitter. This new dress is all glitter and bugger me if it doesn’t get everywhere. I turn out the lights and my shrimp is glowing like it just got back from Chernobyl …………I hate that dress, I hate zippers……..and oh God I hate myself for not being able to complete more than a couple of sentences without using the word “shrimp.”

Anyway, I digressed there and as I said the Brits are having a great time and are starting to love Carnival. I think Carnival Magic is the perfect ship for them as well as it’s a destination. I saw so many on board these last few days while the ship was in Rome and Naples and Monaco. They tell me they love the food, the service and the RedFrog Pub…..wow, do they love the RedFrog Pub. It’s great to see the British hugging the Carnival product and I hope that continues for a long time to come. Oh one thing they don’t like is the toast. British people like their toast ………. well…..toasted and I guess the toast we put on the line is……….well, just bread.

Why would anyone want to live to be 100? I have been asking myself that question these last couple of days. The chances are you would be deaf, perhaps blind, probably incontinent, immobile, reliant on others, alienated from a world that you no longer recognise, maybe senile, waiting for the inevitable that comes to all of us sooner or later. But then I see Old Man Wigle and I know that there is hope, hope to grow old like this man. Just the fact that he won’t let anyone call him anything but Old Man Wigle is testament to that, we even have written on his Sail & Sign card. I have met him on a couple of ships but haven’t seen him for a long time. I can tell you that he is an extraordinary man and a man who has served his country in WWII and continues even now to explore what life has still to offer. I remember as I am sure those who have cruised with him will also know that he has a phrase which you will hear him say time and time again. “You are only old when you use age as an excuse.”

So, let’s meet the man himself shall we. He was on Carnival Triumph to celebrate his 100th birthday, an age he has reached with grace, dignity, courage under fire fighting for his country and by simply having fun. Here are some photos of Old Man Wigle celebrating 100 brilliant years on the Carnival Triumph.

My thanks to Captain Angelo Los and Cruise Director Tex for making this a day he will never forget. Happy birthday Old Man Wigle. One hundred years old and still having fun and still cruising …………… we should be so lucky.


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.