August 26, 2011 -

John Heald

Amongst those crew members who have been with Carnival for a good number of years there are a group of guests who make us sweat every time they walk on board the ship. They live to moan and find fault wherever their shark eyes fall. It is their mission to be a pain in the arse and it’s your mission to need an urgent toilet break whenever they come anywhere near you. This is an exclusive group and most guest services managers and hotel directors and some of my fellow cruise directors are aware of them. There is one famous guest we refer to as “Queenie” because she honestly believes she is royalty and she is famous for walking around the ship with a note pad and pen asking other guests if they have any complaints and then taking those comments each and every day of the cruise to the hotel director.

There is a lady whose name I can’t publish but thinks she is the godmother of the fleet……not just one ship……oh no……..the entire fleet, even though she isn’t and although she is loving and giving to the crew she really doesn’t have all her ships in the harbour if you know what I mean. Then there is “The Professor” who I hope doesn’t read this. He is an extraordinary chap who claims he is a professor at Harvard University. Well he isn’t but he is someone who likes to go to the steakhouse and eat his meal……..and eat it all of it……….and then simply say that it wasn’t cooked to his liking and demand a refund. And so we play the game. He eats it, he refuses to pay, we tell him he has to and so he demands a meeting with someone in authority and eventually after wasting an hour of their lives, he agrees to pay.

These guests are infamous and there are others like them but even though we all start to sweat when they walk up the gangway they are mostly harmless and also have two things in common. One is that they are all loyal Carnival customers and two………..they all travel alone and thus it seems to me they seek out attention because quite simply………..they are lonely.

And while these guests are eccentric, give me them any day over the lady who threw her wet laundry at me or the lady this week who demanded her bible be removed from the cabin and is now stating that she wants $200 compensation because my announcement about a medical debarkation of a guest yesterday woke her up.

Time for some Q and A……….here we go.

Kathy asked:
Hi John,

First of all let me say thank you for this blog……..it’s great and I like being able to have my questions that I get from CC answered on here….I have read several posts of where there are no trays on the Carnival Dreams buffet bar………..Could you please tell me if this is true….I am going on the Carnival Dream in September……..Thanks in advance for your help…Keep up the good work

John says:
Hello Kathy,

I am glad you like the blog and I hope you continue to enjoy it as your Carnival Dream cruise approaches. We don’t have those ugly plastic cafeteria trays anymore as they have been replaced with handsome oversized plates that act as well as trays but look much better. Now you may have to go back and collect your dessert separately but overall they are a huge improvement and have been well received here and on the Carnival Dream as well. Have a brilliant time and loads of fun.

Best wishes.


Promese Perry asked:
Hi John,

Unfortunately, there was a traffic accident going into Mobile, Ala., and we were unable to make it to the ship on time. Carnival shows their customers no compassion all they want is your money. They didn’t give us anything back not even a credit. My B’day was July 31; this was the worst B’day of my life. The dock supervisor kept telling us to come on in and we will wait, then we got there he said they just pulled the gate. I hate I ever booked this trip with Carnival. Our salesperson was not informative, everything is done self service. This has been the worst experience of my life. Carnival says that they are sorry but has a terrible way of showing it.

John says:
Hello Promese Perry,

I am so sorry to read what happened and I am sure that by now someone from Carnival has been in touch with you. However, I will pass this onto someone who can talk to you about the situation that happened. Thank you for letting me know and someone will be in touch.

Best wishes.


Nick Harnden asked:
Hi John,

I am writing to express my immense disappointment in my cruise on the Carnival Fascination. I had written to you on Facebook asking for you to arrange a table for two to help celebrate my fifth wedding anniversary and you said that you would tell the maitre d. So imagine my disgust when we arrived to dinner on the 1st night to see that we were sitting at a table for 8 people and 4 of them were loud screaming KIDS!!! I am not impressed with this at all and you should not make promises that you cannot keep. I hope you’re happy that your disservice ruined our vacation and our anniversary.

John says:
Hello Nick Harnden,

I am so sorry to read this and that my request to seat you at a table for two was not met. I must say in my defence though that I never promise that it will be, I simply say “I will do my best” and most of the time the maitre ds are able to help. But occasionally they can’t or they forget or other factors come into play. I hope that there were many aspects of the cruise that you did enjoy and that we will see you again soon. Please accept my sincere apologies.

Best wishes,


Mary Van Nurden asked:
Hi John,

Hope you are having a GREAT DAY and GREAT CRUISE this time out. My question if you please is a two-parter. We are sailing on Carnival Magic on January 15, 2012, out of Galveston, my better half Ken (like you) loves to enjoy a good cigar on occasion. We have a cove balcony, and I understand that he can smoke there, but I wondered if all Carnival Magic interiors are now non-smoking as far as cigars go, also outdoors where can he indulge? I smoke, but can wait to get to my private balcony, if necessary. Other part of my question. I think I read about a cigar shop that you frequent in Cozumel. Would you re-post name as he will be looking for a few quality cigars to supplement his supply while on the cruise. Thank you very much for replying to this and for all you do daily. I read your blog thingy and follow you on Facebook. You are the best, also love that you are from the area in England as my great grandparents ESSEX! Would love to go to England one day 🙂


John says:
Hello Mary Van Nurden,

The cove balconies are superb cabins and of course from December 1 guests will not be able to smoke inside the cabins but only on the balconies. On the Dream class ships (unlike all the other classes) the only place to smoke cigars is outside on the beautiful Lanai – under the stars. Now while I admit I continue to miss the big comfortable leather chairs that the cigar bars provided, smoking a cigar under the stars is something quite special. On this ship the port side of the Lanai is smoking from the Ocean Plaza down to the RedFrog Pub. The cigar shop I use in Cozumel is the Casa De Habana at the Forum shops in downtown Cozumel. Please be aware that there are many, many fake cigars for sale in Mexico but Casa de Habana has the real thing. I am glad you enjoy the blog and Facebook and maybe one day I will meet you walking around the streets of Essex.

Best wishes to all.


Laurna Zambretta asked:

I am surprised your wife hasn’t said something to you about your weight John. Does she not care that her child may not grow up knowing you because you have no respect for yourself and are obese? I see that even today in the blog where Richard tried to help you with dietary advice that you rebuked him and made fun of him which shows you to be the man that most of your sad supporters can’t see. I cruised with you once and seeing you on stage and that huge stomach bulging from that blue jacket made me physically sick. I guess you have no self esteem.

John says:
Hello Laurna Zambretta,

I actually considered deleting this post but then decided against it so I could simply say that I owe you an apology if my appearance made you feel ill during your cruise because that is not good at all and I am truly sorry. I am on a diet and am losing weight all the time albeit very slowly. So thanks for taking the time to write and I hope the next time you see me I don’t have to make sure there are vomit bags in the show room.

Best wishes.


Brenda Lanthier asked:
Hi John,

Will you be on the Magic Feb.19, 2012 out of Galveston TX?

John says:
Hello Brenda Lanthier,

Yes indeed I will be and I will be the cruise director of the Carnival Magic from January 29 until the end of March/beginning of April. I hope I see you there and if you have any questions please do let me know.

Best wishes.


Valerie asked:

Do you ever “moonlight” on any of the other carnivore…….er……Carnival brands? I tend to cruise with Princess or Holland America and not often with Carnival so I have not had the pleasure of meeting you. I think they should share the wealth……..…and pass you around their other lines from time to time.

John says:
Hello Valerie,

While I do occasionally get to sail with the sister companies it is only as a passenger or to write about the ship for the blog but never to work. I would love to do a guest spot for Princess, Holland America or Cunard maybe although I am not sure the feeling is mutual as my…..… ummmm ………. style……..or lack of it may be a little different to what they are used to. They are both brilliant lines and I can understand exactly why you are such a fan of them both as I am too. Thanks for those very kind words and I truly hope we can sail together one day soon.

Best wishes.


Dorothy Lamont asked:


My daughter and I just returned from our cruise on the Carnival Valor and I need to express my disappointment for the tea time that was served on the sea days. While the pastry selection was adequate, the dress code was not. My daughter and I always dress for tea on Celebrity cruises as did the other passengers but on the Carnival Valor there were people in shorts and T-shirts and one lady wore a sarong through which you could see everything! If you are going to have a dress code then it should be enforced as this left a very bad taste in our mouths and has us thinking about returning to Celebrity.

John says:
Hello Dorothy Lamont,

Tea time is a very popular event on all our ships and I am glad that you mentioned it as it’s not something we talk about here on the blog. I have to point out that we don’t actually write a dress a code for tea time as its mid-afternoon and I don’t really think a dress code is applicable. I also have to mention that two weeks ago I attended tea time on the Cunard ship Queen Elizabeth which is about as grand as it gets and there was someone there in shorts, as well. It is designed to be a relaxed break from the sun and I hope now that you know this, you will understand that none of your fellow guests were breaking any kind of dress code. I also hope that you had a brilliant time on the cruise and that we will see you again very soon.

Best wishes to you both.


Trisha B asked:

On September 2 my family and I will be on the Carnival Paradise in cabin U57. It’s our anniversary of 12 years and my birthday will have just gone by.

John says:
Hello Trisha B,

I am wondering if there is a part of your posting that accidentally got deleted and if that’s the case and you see this reply please let me know what I can do for you. However, I am guessing by the way you mentioned the cabin and the celebrations you are having that you may be hinting that I send you something. If that is the case then message received loud and clear. If not, please let me know ASAP. Have a great cruise.

Best wishes.


GoLucky Cruiser asked:

Dear John,

My wife and I will be with you for the inaugural cruise from Galveston on the Carnival Magic and we are both very excited. I have read a lot about the Cucina restaurant and wondered if you could help me with a reservation there for two people on the 17th at 7:30pm for cabin 12002.

Thanks so much.

John says:
Hello GoLucky Cruiser,

I am excited too about our first cruise from Galveston, as I am sure it’s going to be a brilliant experience. The Cucina del Capitano is indeed a superb experience and with a price tag of $10 is extraordinary value for money. Unfortunately I am not able to take reservations here on the blog. I know I do for the steakhouse and for The Chef’s Table but I really don’t want to start with Cucina just because I won’t be able to handle the extra workload. You can book as soon as you board the ship from a direct line in your cabin or by visiting the Cucina on deck 11 aft. I will see you soon and I promise you’ll love the Cucina experience and love this brilliant ship.

Best wishes.


And that’s all for today and a huge thank you for all your kind words and comments.

Now here is Mr. Breezie’s latest adventure:

Now, let’s take a break and post as requested by someone on Facebook the new recipe for one of the new Comfort Foods on the menu – the delicious Bacon Mac & Cheese.

Macaroni and Cheese
Yield = 10 Servings

Brie Cheese 8 oz
Mozzarella Cheese 8 oz
Pasta Macaroni 2 lb
Sour Cream 1 lb
Mascarpone Cheese 8 oz
Parmesan Cheese 6 oz
Swiss cheese 6 oz
Half- &-Half Cream 1 pint
Heavy cream 1.5 qt
Cheddar 12 oz
Apple wood Smoked Bacon 2 lbs
Chicken Breast 3 oz 10 ea.
White pepper to taste

Heat pan, add cream and half- &-half; bring it to boil. Slowly fold in brie, mascarpone, Swiss cheese, (half the quantity) cheddar cheese and, and sour cream. Season well. Boil macaroni in salted water drain fold in the cheese sauce. Add cooked bacon to the macaroni. Pour 6 oz of pasta in the center of the pasta bowl. Arrange dices of fresh mozzarella on the top of the pasta.

Hand chop rest of the cheddar cheese and mix with grated parmesan, and sprinkle it over the macaroni. Place for two minutes under a broiled to gratinate. Serve with grilled chicken breast and garnish with a crisp rasher of apple-wood smoked bacon and a parsley sprig.

My thanks to our Fleet Executive Chef Peter Leypold for sending me this recipe and I am sure I will feature more of his creations from the new menus during the weeks ahead.

I would like to pass on a piece of news to the guests who are sailing on the Carnival Miracle for the 9/11 cruise and specifically those who had requested a coin presentation to the captain. Here is an email I received from the hotel director:

Good afternoon John,

I spoke with Captain Vincenzo Alcaras regarding a suitable time/place for Mr. Howard Graham presentation of a challenge coin and plaque to the captain and we would like to suggest the following:

Date: 09/12
Venue: Phantom Theatre (main lounge)
Time: 10:45am

This is the scheduled time we have for the captain to be introduced on stage, followed by his introduction of his two most senior officers. We can include this special presentation on the announcement made by CD via PA system on the day if necessary.

Please let me know if this plan is acceptable in order to confirm with Captain Alcaras.

Thank you and regards,
Carlos Santos de Melo
Hotel Director, Carnival Miracle

So for Howard (and my now good mate Steve Z) I hope this is OK and if so please can one of you drop me a line on Facebook so I can confirm.

Talking of 9/11, I took a poll on Facebook about what we should do on this date to recognise the 10 years that have passed since this tragic event happened. After much deliberation it was decided that on each ship there would be a brief speech made by the captain plus a few moments pause as we remember those who lost their lives.

Well, it has been ridiculously busy for the beards as they juggle around all the ships that have been affected by Hurricane Bastard. The complexities that this involves are extraordinary and as always our team in Miami have done a brilliant job finding new ports, getting the message to the guests and most importantly making sure that the fleet is 100 percent safe.

But help was on hand for those left standing on the pier and it came in the shape of our brilliant shoreside team. You know, after the Carnival Splendor fire huge praise was lavished on the crew for how well they coped and what brilliant and dedicated service they gave during the incident – and rightfully so. But probably not enough was said about the magnificent way Carnival’s shoreside folks sprang into action and made hotel and flight arrangements for each and every guest. And they did the same in San Juan on Sunday. They were there to assist, explain and arrange all the various travel options for each and every guest regardless if they had air booked through Carnival. Now at this point you are probably going to expect me to mention what other cruise lines did or didn’t do but that would be unprofessional of me, wouldn’t it?

The only sad point was that guests had to fly to Barbados in order to meet the ship and some could not because they didn’t have passports with them. I know there are different opinions about this but my view that in today’s travel world I think everyone should get a passport as you never know when you may need one as this situation proves. Anyway, from what I have read, Carnival efforts in San Juan have been applauded and I think we can safely say yet again that our shoreside care team is simply the absolute best in the business.

So back here then to the Carnival Magic where it’s 6:18am and here I am in my underpants writing to you. I have been doing my best to keep everyone updated on Facebook regarding Hurricane Bastard plus run the ship as normal. It was an excellent cruise and the British guests had a brilliant time. I did talk to some Brits about tipping which to cut a long story short, the guests felt that although the service from their dining room team and stateroom steward had been really good they felt that the tips should be at their discretion and not pre-planned by Carnival. They told me they would prefer to pay the tips in cash. Anyway, I told them what to do and thanked them hoping that they would honour what they had said and tip the service staff. You see, Brits and tipping just don’t go together. But we are changing. The culture of tipping is spreading fast and gratuities are now expected in countries where they were previously unheard of or, at least, not generally expected and that includes the UK.

We had our usual concerns with the language problems that such a high international count brings but apart from that and a lady who hated bibles, red lights, and announcements about medical debarkations and me everything went really well. The decision to go to Venice early was absolutely the right one and overall I think the voyage was one of the best. But it’s done and the guests are leaving and by 9:15am debarkation will have finished. Then at 10:30 am, we start all over again and here is who is sailing with us this cruise…….wish it was you.

Total Guests: 4,405

International Guests –


So fewer British guests this cruise but still a high count nonetheless and 152 Germans, as well as the regular Russians. And this is where we are all going and who is entertaining them.

Fri, Aug, 26: Barcelona Chas Elstner/Percy Crews dep @ 5pm
Sat, Aug, 27: at sea Welcome Aboard Show
Sun, Aug, 28: Livorno Destination Unknown/ Chas Elstner/Percy Crews 7am-7pm
Mon, Aug, 29: Rome Activities / Deck Party 7am-10pm
Tue, Aug, 30: Naples Win 7am-7pm
Wed, Aug, 31: Messina Sam Jay (Multi Instrumentalist) 7am-6pm
Thu, Sep, 01: at sea Groove Line Jeff Jena/Jerry Goodspeed
Fri, Sep, 02: Mallorca David Deeble Jeff Jena/Jerry Goodspeed 7am-4pm
Sat, Sep, 03: Marseilles Carnival Legends 8am-6pm

Bloody heck……don’t kids go to school anymore?

I now have an extraordinary 17,786 mates on Facebook and 11,500,000 views on the blog thingy but it seems Mr. Micky Arison already has more than 17,000 twits following him and he only started twitting a few days ago. I still don’t totally understand this twit thingy but from what I have read from Mr. Arison he is basically answering the question “What are you doing?” And it seems he is supposed to tell people the answer to this as many times as he possibly can each day ………bugger that. Especially since the status updates are limited to 140 characters or less, including spaces. I love that. Who types without spaces? Regular readers of the blog thingy already know it takes me 140 characters to say good morning. I couldn’t Twitter, I would be panicking thinking do I really need this space? Is this question mark important? I would have to discipline myself. Where’s the fun in that?

But it is obviously working for Carnival Corporation & plc’s Chairman and CEO and I think it’s brilliant that he is doing it and answering questions, as well. It’s certainly worth following him because maybe one day we will get a “tweet” from him while he’s sitting in the boardroom. “Trying to decide if I should give a new ship to Carnival or Princess what do you think?” Anyway, congratulations to him on the instant success he has had with this and it’s a great read so stop by and be one of his twits.

Well, at the start of today’s blog I revealed some of the names that we have for some of our more colourful guests but there is a name that we used to have for our guests back in the late 1980’s and early 1990s. Yes, we used to call them passengers not guests but there was also another name. The vast majority of today’s crew has never heard this term and it’s only the old timers like me that remember this. It started way before I joined in 1987 has been lost as the years have come and gone.

Its history is derived from the times when we used to have theme nights in the dining room. This would involve a menu matching the uniform the waiters would wear and included Caribbean night, Italian night and one night with a New Year’s Eve theme. Now this included the waiters singing Old Lang Syne and no expense was spared in creating a brilliant party atmosphere in the dining room. Well…….ummmmm…..yes actually it was spared because all we did was hang four balloons above each table and each place setting there would be a noise maker and……..a hat. Every guest had a hat. It was one of those small cone-shaped hats with sparkly bits on them and guests would put them on as soon as they sat down. What was remarkable was that every guest would put the hat on…….every single one. I know because remember I used to work in the dining room as a wine steward. Yep, the dining room was full of guests in hats blowing their noise makers. But once dinner was finished the guests would leave and head to the shows, the bars and their cabins (not their staterooms, as we call them now)…….still in their cone-shaped hats and would continue to wear them all night long and many would wear them the next day of the cruise as well. And so for a few years back then in the days of the male nightgown contest and beer drinking competitions……..we called the guests……..coneheads. It was a term of endearment and one made in the spirit of fun and in jest. These days you are guests and we are not crew………we are team members. How things have changed.

I was confused yesterday during a telephone conference call with nine ladies and gentlemen with beards about an upcoming project. During the call a beard said something that made me want to reach down the phone and give them a wet willie!

This person said that they would “Have to accomplish this P2P.”……..everyone seemed to agree and before I could cover my mouth I said, “What the hell is a P2P?”

There was silence……and it was as though I had just asked “Where do babies come from?” Then one of the beards said it means pillow to pillow which in turn means flying in and flying out the same day, which is just about the most ludicrous bollocks I’ve ever heard.

And so I said:

“Well, I am sorry but I have to go as I NAS”

“What’s NAS?” said Eric the beard

“Need a s**t,” I replied.

And with that, the conference call was over.

Pillow to pillow, my arse.

Goodnight Mr. and Mrs. Cone.

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.