Today’s blog is a little different and will concentrate mostly on how the storm affected some of the ships. So then, without further ado, let’s crack on with some Q and A.

Melanie Russell Asked:
I love your sense of humor, and your blogs. Just one thing, the word poop means to have a bowel movement, and pop means to go somewhere. For example, I am going to pop downstairs, which means you are going downstairs. If it is intentional, disregard this.  I just didn’t know if you were aware of the word. Carry on, regardless!

John Says:
Hello Melanie Russell

I guess I should explain because I really don’t want to offend anyone. I had been writing on my Facebook page that I would “pop downstairs (to the bottom of the page) and answer questions. Then one day and quite by accident I added an extra “o” so it became poop downstairs. Well, obviously everyone laughed and wrote and told me about my mistake and so I kept it in. I hope it doesn’t offend you or any of the readers but it has sort of become standard now on Facebook. Thanks for allowing me the chance to explain and thank you also for those very very kind words.

Best wishes.

Rhonda Brookshire Asked:
Hi John,

I am fairly new to cruising, have only been on one cruise in 2008 (just my son and myself) and am about to board my second cruise on the Carnival Valor on October 2.  I love Carnival and have researched several choices and come to the conclusion I can’t imagine choosing another cruise line. Anyway, I have just recently discovered your blog and Facebook page. I think you’re hilarious!!! I was wondering if you ever sail on any of the ships that dock out of California.  I am in Arizona and Florida departures are a stretch for me (thus, the three years between cruises). I plan on many more cruises, but out of California, and I would love to have the experience of you as the director. Thank you for your time.


John Says:
Hello Rhonda Brookshire

Thank you so very much for those kind words and how brilliant that you have found Carnival and that it is for you love at the first cruise. Thanks a lot for finding the blog and I hope it continues to give you much enjoyment. Last year I had some wonderful months on the Carnival Splendor which sails out of Long Beach and I hope to return there one day. I have no specific dates for this but I really loved the West Coast. I know you have a long way to travel to get to the Carnival Valor and I hope that you have the best of times and loads of fun and that we sail together one day soon.

Best wishes.

JoAnne Asked:
We just came off a cruise to Alaska and I have to tell you of our disappointments. The dining room was really the worst. Not once was the table set correctly. On each occasion we were missing assorted silverware, bread plates or glasses. Even when we asked for the situation to be remedied, it was never quite right. For example, two bread plates and three butter knives missing ……… remedied with the arrival of one bread plate and two butter knives…although we had to ask twice for actual butter………and the bread basket contained four rolls, at a table set for six people.

This may seem petty, but it is a matter of training and attention to detail. Along the same lines …….waiters filling water glasses……..then reaching across to fill the next diner’s glass, dripping water and ice into my meal……..this happened several times. At our one breakfast visit I asked for grapefruit juice and another lady seated with us ordered orange juice. The waiter brought two glasses, placed them in front of us and we both took sips. We instantly realized that the glasses were the wrong way around and pointed this out to the waiter……..who calmly picked up both glasses………and switched them! He then seemed confused when we suggested that perhaps he could get us fresh juice as neither one of us wished to drink from a stranger’s glass. The waiters also seemed incapable of keeping track of orders and so stood at the table holding dishes until someone claimed them. This was especially bizarre when there were only four people at the table! What is there to say about a buffet that runs out of oatmeal at 9 in the morning on an “at sea” day? It also ran out of grapefruit although my husband managed to convince the “juice man” that perhaps he could let him have one. The coffee machines were constantly breaking down. The iced tea dispensers rarely worked and green tea was almost impossible to come by. We never met our steward! Our cabin was well tended in an unobtrusive and professional manner. There was a problem with a non-functioning toilet on our first full day at sea but this was quickly dealt with. Our “beach” towels were not replaced but this was not really an issue. We called housekeeping on our first night and asked for robes so that we could visit the hot tub and they were delivered to our cabin within 10 minutes. We had “towel animals” on 3 nights and enjoyed them very much. The beds are wonderful!!!! Very comfortable and we enjoyed having duvets as opposed to blankets. Lots of nice pillows as well. Overall a very disappointing cruise.

John Says:
Hello JoAnne

Thank you for this very frank and honest opinion of your cruise on the Carnival Spirit. I was though so very surprised about the dining room comments as this is a rare complaint but one that when I forward to the ship’s senior management they will take very seriously. One thing did confuse me was the comment about the bread as we don’t actually place bread baskets on the table but it is in fact a pass round service. Regardless it seems like we have some improving to do and I will make sure that the right people see this. I am glad you enjoyed the Carnival Comfort Bed though and I hope that you will accept my apology for what happened and my assurances that steps will be taken to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Best wishes.

Gene Londergan Asked:
Hi John

This should be an easy one to answer…… do you pronounce your last name?  I need to know so I say it right when I tell people about your great blog!! Is Heald as in “I held my tongue when the amazingly rude passenger asked another stupid question” or Heald as in “In my mind when I read the blog, it’s funnier if you imagine John with a very well-heeled British accent.” Just wondering….

John Says:
Hello Gene Londergan

Thanks for the great question. I sometimes get called John Head, John Herald or Fat Bastard. The name is actually pronounced Heald as in heeled or his injuries have healed. Thanks for asking and I hope we meet one day very soon. Best wishes.


Naomi Willet Asked:

Didn’t get an acknowledgement of my earlier posting so trying AGAIN! My family will be cruising with carnival and on the Pride 11/21/11 and I have some questions and a request. One of the ports is Canaveral and I have seen that you have tours to the theme parks. Why doesn’t Carnival have free transportation to Disney and Universal like RCCL and Disney cruise lines have? I will be with my wife and three kids and it becomes too expensive and is cheaper for me to actually rent a car and drive there then take tours. I also want to make sure that we have a private table for 5 as we have very strict rules at supper time that are nobody else’s business so can you make sure that we have a private table. This is our booking number ******!

John Says:
Hello Naomi Willet

I am very sorry that I missed this the first time you posted it and I am glad I got to see it now. Thank you for booking the Carnival Pride and I know you will love the ship and her crew. We do indeed offer excellent excursions to the theme parks but you’re correct that we do not offer free transportation. I haven’t done a price comparison with excursions that include park admission and car hire but I would point out that the car needs to be collected and returned and that takes time of course. The benefit of our excursions is that you get on, go, enjoy and come back without any hassle. I realize that with five people it can get expensive but we hope you enjoy your time aboard the Carnival Pride and your excursions to the theme park or anywhere else for that matter. I will certainly ask the maitre d to assist you with your table request and I am sure he will be able to help you. Best wishes to you all and have a great cruise.


Cassie R Asked:

We will be sailing with you on the Carnival Breeze next year and wondered if the ship will have a RedFrog Pub like magic. My husband is originally from Trinidad and is very excited to see that you have a Caribbean pub. Can’t wait to see you and the ship.


John Says:
Hello Cassie R

The good news is that yes indeed, just like her sister ship the Carnival Magic our new ship Carnival Breeze will have the massively popular RedFrog Pub in which your husband can enjoy the Caribbean vibes that I am sure he misses. I really look forward to seeing you next year.

Best wishes to you both.

4×4 Cruiser Asked:

Tom and Cheryl are well known on Cruise Critic and your blog today was most unfair to them. They are respected members of the Cruise Critic community and if they say they had a bad experience at The Chef’s Table then trust me, mister, they did. I am sure some will have canceled their Chef’s Table reservation based on their review and rather than ridicule them you should have been professional and apologized and refunded their money.

John Says:
Hello 4 x 4 Cruiser

I understand that you are referring to an answer I gave some weeks ago about The Chef’s Table experience as encountered by Cruise Critic members Tom and Cheryl. I remember this well but what I don’t remember is that I ridiculed them in any way and if that’s how it came across then I truly apologise. The Chef’s Table remains very popular and in fact I just sent 108 reservations made this week here on the blog to the fleet. Once again I apologise to them for the experience which if I remember was a negative one not because of the food or the service but because of the guests they shared the table with.

Best wishes.

Doug Saunders Asked:

We are celebrating our 10-year wedding anniversary on the Carnival Liberty’s November 19, 2011 sailing and was hoping you could surprise my wife with a small gift. We are big fans of yours and it will be our fifth Carnival cruise.

John Says:
Hello Doug Saunders

I will be happy to do this so please can you remind me here in a month’s time or one week before on Facebook. Either way I will do my best to help and wish you a brilliant anniversary cruise.

Best wishes.

John G Asked:
My son was so upset that he wasn’t allowed to go down the big slides on the Carnival Dream. He was told he was too small and I offered to sign a waiver but was told that this would not be possible. This meant I had a crying 4 year old for seven days.

Thanks, Carnival.

John Says:
Hello John G

I am so sorry that your son was upset, I really am but I am sure you can understand that we have very strict rules which are designed only to protect those who use the water park. Regardless of if you signed a waiver or not the fact that he is smaller than the designated height could mean that he could have injured himself. I do hope that despite this you had fun together.

Best wishes.

Lynda Grantham Asked:
Is there any chance that I could ask you for a very big personal favor? I am legally blind in my right eye and have limited vision in my left eye. I will be cruising again with Carnival this time on the Freedom going to Panama and Costa Rica departing on September the 24 in cabin 7298. I need to have seats reserved for the shows that go on as I cannot see anything unless I am on the front row. I am being joined on the cruise by my husband and another couple Jason and Ruth Green in cabin 6355. Please reserve seating for me and they will join me as well. How will I know when this is done?

John Says:
Hello Lynda Grantham

I am glad you were able to contact me and of course we are more than happy to help you. I am going to have our special needs team contact you and they will just need to see medical proof which I am sure you have that states your condition. They will then ask if there is anything else we can do to make you more comfortable during your time onboard. They will then contact the ship and the staff will reserve two seats accordingly so that you can enjoy the shows in the company of your husband. I will though unfortunately not be able to reserve seats for the Greens. Thank you then for getting in touch and someone will be in contact soon. Best wishes and have a brilliant time.



That’s all for today.

Well I hope you are OK. And of course I am speaking to those readers in the Caribbean and in the United States who may have been affected by Hurricane Bastard…..I refuse to call her Irene ………..I had a Great Aunt Irene. She used to give me money to buy candy and a new football (sacccceer) boots and even though I spent the money on magazines called Penthouse and Big Jugs she was a very sweet lady unlike the bastard that ripped through so many places these past 24 hours.

In a way, we have felt a bit disconnected from everything that has happened as in The Med we have been blessed with sunshine and mostly calm seas. I made sure the TV’s had the news on and certainly guests from the areas affected gathered together to watch Andersen Blister and his CNN colleagues describe what was happening. It was I am sure a very stressful time for those who were in the storm’s path and I know many of the thousands of blog readers are from areas that Hurricane Bastard passed through and I hope that you, your families and your property are all OK.

It has of course been a challenging time for some of the ships in the Carnival fleet and over the past 48 hours I did my best to keep everyone updated on Facebook. Let’s stop by and visit a few of the ships and hear what their cruise directors have to say. We will start with Butch on the Carnival Dream.

Hey John,

Before I tell you about the seas last night, I have to say that the Carnival Dream was truly blessed with an amazing voyage despite the crazy tropical weather out there. We started the week not knowing if our itinerary would be OK due to Tropical Strom Harvey, and not sure of our path home due to Hurricane Irene. We didn’t have a drop of rain, barely a cloud in the sky and had smooth sailing all cruise until about 8 pm last night…….we had a pretty bumpy ride home with swells well over 20 feet, what really made the situation interesting is the direction they were coming and the path of the ship. It was a perfect mix to make direct contact causing some huge sea sprays. In almost eight years of cruising I can say that it really wasn’t that bad, mediocre at best, we still were able to do the shows and the only guest service that was compromised is that we had to close the pools early for safety reasons and to avoid deck flooding…..I have been in much worse during the Caribbean winters when the wind causes huge swells. I have vivid memories of Hurricane Jeanne (2004) on the Carnival Glory……….and the cruise director on that ship ….. none other than the great John Heald! I remember the hurricane was headed toward Florida and we were coming from the Eastern Caribbean behind it……it took a turn to go out to sea and all looked good until she decided to take another U-turn and head right toward the coast of Florida……we turned back around and got the hell out of dodge, but not before being caught in crazy 50 mph wind and 40-foot swells……our seven-day voyage turned into a nine-day cruise as we waited it out….in eight years it’s the only time I have ever been sea sick!

Kind Regards,

Butch Begovich


Now we go to Risa Barnes and the Carnival Fantasy. Remember she was supposed to go to Bermuda and probably had the most dramatic of the itinerary changes. This report was received from Risa at 2:15pm on Sunday, Aug. 28

Hey John,

Here’s the update:

Around 5pm on the first sea day the seas calmed and we had a lovely evening of elegance with shows, music and fun. The next sea day Saturday was absolutely BEAUTIFUL…smooth sailing and sunshine all day! Today we are in Cozumel and unfortunately the previous forecast for sunshine was taken away from us and we have had overcast skies and slight drizzle all day, but still the guests are able to get off and explore the shore! So far all is well I will know better what the mood is at 5pm when we have our past guest reception with 1,437 repeat guests onboard!



And here is Malcolm in the Middle on Carnival Miracle which was sent on Saturday, August 27, at 9 am EST.

Hey John,

We have just heard from the captain. Half Moon Cay has sustained some minor damage due to the storm, and will not be ready for our guests in two days. There are no other ports for us to go to. I would imagine many ships have switched itineraries and taking what’s available before we get there. We now have an additional day at sea. The sea swells have kicked up a bit, so we are experiencing some good rocking right now, with considerable splashing along side. We are currently east of the storm now heading south to Grand Turk.

Love You
xxoo J (two more cruises till vacation, Woo Hoo!)


And here is the view from Malcolm’s balcony……..yes, senior officers have balconies on Spirit class ships.


Malcolm's balcony view


And now we go off to Brent, the CD of the Carnival Pride. This was sent on Sunday August 28, at 1:30pm EST, after the ship debarked its guests and was waiting for the storm to pass before taking on more guests on Monday.

Hey John,

Made it!! Well it’s been a long 24hrs mostly for the captain and his officers as he’s been living on the bridge during all this with an espresso being his best friend I imagine. We made it to our anchor point yesterday about 4 pm (with only the crew on board – no guests) and shortly after the weather really came in. The area we’re in is in Chesapeake Bay and about 2 miles from land where it’s only about 25 meters deep which helped cut down on any large waves or swells. We got the full force of it this morning at about 1:30am. Being night time I really couldn’t get any pictures but I can assure you it was seriously windy!! Walking around today everything looks to be in good shape and no damage. Today the wind is still strong but only a few clouds and SUN! Have to really commend Captain Giacalone for keeping us all safe as going through this can’t be easy for any captain!! Not to mention today is also his birthday………poor guy. Here are a few photos of when it just started to hit us (trust me it doesn’t do it justice) and also of Lido where we pulled everything inside and one I took just now showing how close we are to land and how nice it is outside!




And finally the Carnival Glory and her Cruise Director Josh aka “Big Sexy.” Here is his honest report which I received at 2:45pm Sunday, Aug. 28.

Hey John –

I know you’ve been at sea for a long time, but in my seven and a half years with this company and 17 different ships, this is probably some of the worst sea conditions I’ve encountered.  As of right now, the ship is experiencing large swells which basically feels like you’re in a constant roller coaster while sporting a nasty hangover from cheap tequila… It sure takes me back to my old college days….

Yesterday was an adventure in itself too. First off, New York City was eerily calm as the Glory sat at Pier 88 in lower west side Manhattan. There was a mandatory citywide evacuation and all mass transit was shut down by 12 noon (the city felt like something out of the Will Smith flick, “I Am Legend”). Last night’s Welcome Show was also quite interesting, to say the least as it needed to be done without the dancer section given the rough seas.  So, I walked out on stage with an awkward feeling of nausea, jacked up on three Dramamine and feeling like I was kicked in the head by a mule about 139 times, and proceeded (along with the Glory Show band, E-Staff Team and comedian Lenny Marcus) to give a solid 35-minute performance to a crowd who was so drugged up and comatose that a Phish concert would be jealous….

On another note, the New Yorkers sure are tough and seem to be in relatively good spirits (those that are actually out of their cabins), and my Fun Ashore presentation this morning was quite busy (I’m assuming due to wanting to find out more about the weather and our revised itinerary).  The guests are a slowly getting their sea legs but ultimately they are all OK.


Thanks to all my colleagues for sending me updates and more importantly for their continuing hard work and dedication in turning a difficult situation into the most fun possible. Well done to them and of course to the captain and crew of all the ships that have been affected by big old Hurricane Bastard.

While many of the 24-hour news channels played their Armageddon is coming pieces over and over again, there was one area that many thought would not survive and that indeed it would be a catastrophe and that place was paradise or as it is also called……….Half Moon Cay.

And here to tell us how what is for many Carnival and Holland America guests their favourite Caribbean destination. What follows is an interview with Matt Sams, a gentleman whom I have had the honour of knowing for many years. We worked together for some years and I can honestly say that he was and continues to be a great ambassador for cruising. He joined Carnival Cruise Lines in 1985 as an operations supervisor and eventually was named director of port operations before heading over to Holland America.

During his time at CCL, Matt was in charge of all port operations, interior dry dock repairs, major refurbishments and interior designs of existing vessels, shore excursion operations, new buildings of Jubilee, Celebration, and on board revenue. He joined Holland America Line in May 1997, as vice president of Caribbean relations. And he truly is Half Moon Cay. He has nurtured and developed the island and who better than to tell us about what happened. So I sent him a few questions and he responded immediately. Here is what he had to say:

Matt, what preparations on the island were made for the hurricane’s arrival?
Due to an itinerary change, courtesy of Irene, Carnival Miracle called at Half Moon Cay on Aug 23. During the same day, the storm rapidly grew in and became a major hurricane. The staff did a great job installing hurricane shutters, storing lounge chairs, furniture, decorations, etc. The electrical and water plants required shutter protection and shut down. The smaller boats were taken out of the marina and filled with water for weight to avoid them from hitting other vessels or the sides of the marina. The larger boats were roped off in the middle of the Marina so they were free of other vessels and the floating docks. The Half Moon Clipper and the three large passenger tenders were taken to Davis Harbor in Eleuthera as it is much larger than Half Moon Cay and is better protected. The entire crew worked very hard to accomplish all of these tasks. The crew departed at 9 pm. Some of the employees did not get home until after midnight.

Having put so much personal dedication into HMC yourself; you must have been so concerned about what Irene would do. What were your biggest fears?
My biggest fear was the potential damage to the storm was a strong category 3. We were obviously concerned that the storm could close the island for an extended period and also that the marina would be obstructed due to heavy boulders falling into the water. If this were to happen, the Half Moon Clipper and the tenders would not be able to enter the marina to disembark employees, guests, and supplies. Major damage to the floating docks, would also not allow safe passage of passengers and supplies. All of the major mechanical areas were in good shape. If the water plant or electrical generator plant would have been seriously damaged, the delay in reopening the island would have been seriously affected.

So, now you have seen the island what can you tell us about the damage?
As inspections continue, it becomes more and more obvious that we dodged a huge bullet. The south east beach (which is not used) has eroded to bed rock which means approximately nine feet vertically by 40-foot from the shore line by over a mile in length. We are finding isolated electrical shorts due to distribution panels being flooded. There are several small water leaks that are also being dealt with. There is evidence that the island experienced at least one tornado. The ocean is still very rough and erosion is continuing. A beach refurbishment contractor will be here tomorrow (he has rebuilt this beach seven times over the years). Employee housing will need a lot of work. Doors are swollen, a lot of roof leaks, ceiling tile damage.  Half Moon Cay marina is clear and Davis Harbor is being inspected today for some damage to the floating docks. A large water main break also occurred by the Welcome Center. The Marina at Davis Harbor has been inspected and found to be clear of obstructions. We will be dispatching a boat with 23 more staff, bringing the staffing level to 32.

And as you know many were concerned about the horses. Can you confirm they are OK?
All 47 horses were found in great shape.

I know at this early stage it’s probably difficult to estimate but when do you see HMC being ready to welcome Carnival Corp guests?
The island will reopen on September 4.

As I mentioned, the number of people who asked me about HMC on the blog and on Facebook was extraordinary and shows just how much Holland America and Carnival guests love the island. Why is Half Moon Cay loved by so many?
Half Moon Cay is exactly what passengers think of when they think of the Caribbean. Our beautiful beaches, friendly staff, and unique excursions only add to this experience.

And finally, what does the future hold for this slice of paradise?
We get a lot of requests for additional shopping venues. We are looking into this. We are also in the final stages of opening a state-of-the-art spa complex that will be done with an island theme. Stay tuned for further details

Thanks Matt for that personal look at what could have happened, what did happen and for telling us that paradise re-opens on September 4. We are all very grateful.

Let’s change the subject and talk about my daughter for a moment, if we can. Kye was crying yesterday. She wanted her Dadda and kept saying “Dadda gone, Dadda gone” and Heidi sent me an email asking me to call and console her. So I did and said that I would be home with her very, very soon. But actually its 22 days until I am home so therefore I lied to her. Yes, she stopped crying and yes I made her laugh but in order for this to happen I had lied to my 2-year-old daughter. I guess though it’s not the only lie I will be telling her and when she is old she will realise that Mama and Dadda talk total bollocks.

There is no tooth fairy; that strange, obese bloke with a beard does not creep into your house under the cloak of darkness to leave you gifts once a year because he does not exist and, furthermore, his image, as we know it, was entirely created by a corporate fat cat as a means to sell more toys. The fat bastard she may have caught a glimpse of on December 25 was in fact her Dad pooping down to the refrigerator at 2 am for something to munch on.

Also, Kye will eventually learn that she was not delivered into this world by a kindly stork who delivered her to our house. You will not be marrying a prince. The cat that she liked to play with in the garden did not get taken to live on a farm (in the sky) he was sent away for continuing to drop fresh turds on my doorstep and is buried behind the garden shed. As sure as I know that Kye will one day realise these to be not true I also know that anti-aging face creams don’t really do what they say they do yet my wife spends ages putting these creams on and I won’t mention that each pot costs the same as caviar. I also know that despite how strongly I wish for it that there will always be at least one negative comment on the list of 10 questions I answer here on the blog. I also know that I will never own an Aston Martin or ever get to drive one, that Megan Fox’s bottom will never be something I will see up close and personal.

I also know, as now do many thousands of people, that all cruise lines are not created equal …….. especially if your ships sailed and you are left behind in San Juan.



Your friend,

P.S. Here are today’s Fun Times, from your Carnival Miracle.

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72 Responses to Hurricane Bastard, the Carnival ships…… and paradise

  1. Lisa T says:

    Enjoyed the blog as always. 🙂

    Is it so difficult for people to be polite and say Please and Thank You when they’re requesting something of you. It does get tiring.

    Just a quick word on the “comfort” beds. Our bed on the Spirit was only slightly better than a piece of plywood with a sheet on it unfortunately. To make matters worse, we discovered that our well meaning, and wonderful, steward had rolled towels up to boost up the sags in the bed. He removed them at our request and although we slept fine the remainder of our cruise it definitely wasn’t a dream to sleep on.

  2. Diane Shepherd says:

    Thank you Gene – a question I wondered myself and hadn`t gotten around to asking it! I am HEALD!!!

  3. Brad says:

    SO happy to hear all is well with Half Moon Cay! Not sure what I think about a lot more shopping and a spa complex… I’m not against it but I’m not really thrilled to hear about it… Just wondering where it will go since I’ve been there 3 times in the last 9 months…

    Anyway John, thanks as always for your remarkable blog and for putting this interview with Matthew Sams up!

    See you at BC5!

  4. Sharon says:

    Great blog tonight John and a huge thank you to all the CD’s and Matt for checking in and answering questions. We have never cruised another line and to be honest, I don’t know that we ever will. We discovered Carnival, then your blog and FB pages and we’ve been hooked. You are better “advertising” than any of the money Carnival spends on actual ads. The fact that you help people (even rude people) and post updates as they are happening is beyond unreal and much appreciated by all. Have a super day!!

  5. Rev Barb in Canada eh? says:

    Hi John. Just read your comment to JoAnne the Alaska cruiser. Nothing major, but you do actually put baskets of bread on the table at dinner. Every night last cruise on the Magic a lovely basket of white rolls and baqettes appeared to spoil my lovely dinners. But I did get a butter knife and plate and if I moved a spoon it was put back in its place shortly. Nobody spilled water on my meal or switched juice glasses. And every time they gave me what I ordered. Darn, how come I can’t get something to complain about! Brilliant, mate.

    • CathyWolfie says:

      We had baskets of rolls on the table on only one cruise (can’t remember which one now, could have been the Spirit), but usually the waiters bring them around. So it does happen, but not frequently.

    • John C says:

      Rev – That lady only wanted to complain cuz she was lonely. THe staff is well trained and very hard to do it right but that lady sound like a critic of anything not her way…JMO

      • Valerie says:

        John C – how do you know that about her?

        And by the way, the staff is not necessary trained. While we had wonderful waiters during our cruise on Spirit over New Year, we were not so lucky during our cruise on Legend in August.

        Assistant waiter, the one who brings water, ice tea and lemonade to the table, could never remember that one of our table mates always drank ice tea during dinner. Several times she could only request ice tea half way through the dinner, because that was the first time time when assistant waiter would visit our table with water.

        Our adult entries never were served at the same time (we usually had 3 adults and one child at the table for 6). The child rarely ordered from the kids menu, but when she did her entire order would come before all adults were served appetizers.

        Every time I ordered lemon with my coffee at breakfast, I was getting lemon after my breakfast served and my coffee was cold.

        The list goes on and on. Those are small issues, but together point to lack of staff training and quite frankly do not do Carnival’s reputation any favors.

    • Michael says:

      Well if you had a bread basket on your table, then your wait staff made a mistake. Carnival, as a rule, does not leave bread baskets on the table. Not in the 11 cruises I have been on, including the innaugural cruise on the Magic on May 1st. Just figured I would point that out.

      • Paige says:

        Right, we didn’t have bread baskets on Dream, either. The assistant waiter handed it out when necessary.

      • David says:

        They are placing the bread baskets on the table here on the Triumph this week, at least in the your time dining section. I would prefer it that way and it seems to make more sense than a staff member having to constantly stop what they are doing to get people like me more bread several times during the meal…they should consider making a change.

        • Tom-n-Cheryl says:

          I can see where that makes more sense for bread lovers. In my case however, I pretty much stopped eating the bread about the time the sun dried tomato bread vanished (at least I have not seen it in dozens of cruises). I usually have my hungry eyes on a tasty prime rib or other entree and don’t want to lose any space to bread! I wish I could eat like I did decades ago! 🙁


    • Ashley says:

      My very first cruise I got a basket on the table of bread (I think) probably 4 years ago on the Elation or Paradise, forget which now. However each cruise since then I have not and a waiter has asked me which one and placed my choice on my plate. I have NEVER had them put my knife back however if moved out of place. Nor have I ever had someone drop anything on me. I also have never had anyone reach over me. As a waitress (past) that is a HUGE NO NO!!!!

  6. Host Mach from Cruise Critic says:

    What can I say? Carnival once again distinguished itself by going above and beyond for their guests and I-don’t-give-a-crap-about-you of the Seas left their ‘cherished’ guests in a lurch… or San Juan… pick your poison. The cruising press got it right… the applauded Carnival and roundly bashed RCCL. It’s about time. No ‘WalMart’ of the seas comments… no ‘uncouth Texans’ comments… no ‘fat bastard’ comments just the truth. Carnival did the right thing… something they contractually did NOT have to do but did regardless.

    Bravo. I’m proud to be a loyal Carnival guest.

    All the best to the girls, John. 22 days isn’t that long.


    Host Mach

    • Jodi says:

      Hallaluah Matt, isn’t it amazing! Hope that for the end of all time that Cruise Critic Members are NOT all troglidytes with NO manners and the cruising press ISN’T always ONE sided! Yeah for Carnival! Who in MY onsided opinion seems to ALWAYS do the right thing for it’s guests.

    • Paige says:

      Host, what happened? I haven’t seen what you’re talking about.

  7. Lance Bosarge says:

    Hi John,

    I love reading your blog. I have a couple questions. Can we read your blog when we are on our cruise or do we need to buy an internet package to do so?

    And second we ar eleaving this week for the Mexican Riviera on the Splendor. This is our make up cruise for the one that got cancelled because of last years fire. We are so excited about it! My son will turn 7 on sept 9th while on the boat. Is there anything special you can do for him? We are in rooms 1205 and 1206.

    Thanks again and keep up the good work. We can’t wait till you are our CD.

    • David says:

      I’m not John, but I’ve been killing some of the downtime this week on the Triumph reading his blog for free! Just let your computer hook up to the wireless (or go to the internet center) and it will be on a Carnival Page showing free areas you can enter on the right. John’s blog is listed there…just click and go! Don’t sign in if you buy a package, or if I know Carnival, they will charge you to do what everyone else can do for free.

  8. Marylou Hansen says:

    stay home JoAnne!

  9. Michael Teixeira says:

    I would hate to see HMC turn to a big shopping port. There are many of those already. What it could use are more cabanas!!

  10. Lisa Mc says:

    Hey, Mr. John, thanks for the comment on facebook. Wanted to tell you how much I love Malcolm and in less than 5 days will get 2 weeks with him. Going to post a picture of me with him during the Miracle problematic hit of the dock in St. Kitts (I believe). Love you, and love the blog

  11. Carolyn Perkins says:

    I was surprised at the comments about the dining room on the Spirit. We did the repo from Honolulu to Vancouver in the spring and we had the best wait staff (Alex & Now) we’ve had in 45 cruises. I guess it depends on who waits on your table, but ours was outstanding!

  12. Hans Sickles says:

    I have been an avid reader of your blog for quite some time now, and a recent follower of yours on facebook too. My wife and I are cruising on Carnival Legend in about 7 weeks for our 5th wedding anniversary. We cruised on Carnival Glory for our honeymoon and got hooked on cruising and are very happy to be back once again. Keep up the good work, and look forward to booking a cruise with you as our cruise director hopefully in the near future!

  13. Jennifer Weston says:

    I remember our very first cruise on the Triumph is 2003. We caught the tail end of hurricane Hugo. It made for an interesting couple of days. (1) Whether you were drinking or not, you staggered down the hallways. (2) No matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t keep from rolling side to side in the bed. (3) I’ve never seen so much vomit in my whole life! But the most amazing thing to me was the number of people who would eat at the buffet, run to the bathroom to throw up, then turn around and eat again! I couldn’t believe it! Besides all that, it was an amazing cruise!!!

    • Marilole says:

      Excuse me Jennifer, you must be confused. Hurricane Hugo was in Sept 1989. I know because I am from Puerto Rico and that Hurricane destroyed my little island. Maybe you were referring to another hurricane?

      • Jamie Coder says:

        actually Marilole, there are several hurricanes, and it is possible 2 hurricanes to have the same name several years apart. and yes there was in 2003 named hugo. she did not state that it was near your island, but i am sorry to hear it was damaged during that hurricane you speak of. names of hurricanes are named alphabetically and over the years the names will at times reused.. take care

      • Jennifer Weston says:

        It may have been Fabian. It’s been a long time ago, but I thought that was the name. Sorry.

  14. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:


    I can not imagine how difficult it is to be away from Kye.

    Just know that when she is old enough to understand, she will be very proud of her Dadda!

    Linda (Mom of your friend DJ)

  15. Becky Smith says:

    I am SOOOOOO very happy that the hurricane did not do considerable damage to HMC, but I’m also quite sure that the Holland America staff are working at a feverish pace to get things back up and running. On behalf of my clients AND from myself, thanks to you all for working hard to restore paradise.

  16. Peggy Dunbar says:

    Oh John, you made me cry when I read about your precious Kye. You will be with her and even though you will not be on my cruise on the 25th I will know that you are with that sweet little girl and of course Heidi. I hope you have the most wonderful holiday with them.

    BTW, not only will you lie to her but guess what, when she becomes a teenager she will learn the act of lying. How can you tell when a teenager is lying? Her mouth is moving. Well, perhaps she will be a sweet as she is now but she will occasionally lie for one reason, so she won’t get into trouble but then when you find out….

    Those pictures are amazing, she was an angry sea last week. I have only been in one hurricane, it was horrible. I am glad that Carnival has such an excellent crew that they knew what they were doing.

    I have only one comment about frick and frack from CC, they do not need help when bashing you, they do very well on their own.

    Keep smiling John; you truly are one of the good guys.

    My best to Heidi and Kye.

  17. John, I’m so very proud to be Carnival cruiser. Carnival took care of the the people in San Juan. The Asses of the Sea treated the people as jerks and I hope now people realize which company is the best, Carnival. Hip,Hip Hooray.

    Paul F. Pietrangelo

  18. Joanne says:

    Its coincidence that my name is also Joanne…but I agree with JoAnne’s post above. We were on the Spirit in Feb this yr, and experienced darn near the very same problem in the dining room, never met our room stewart, and was rather disappointed with our cruise on the Spirit, not to mention the one guy working on Lido clearing tables and drooling over women in bathing suits…OPENLY. John is right though…noone ‘puts’ a bread basket down on the table, I’m guessing she meant that perhaps they had only 4 rolls, or lack of variety when they offered her a roll. It was NOT our best experience with Carnival….but off we go Saturday on the Splendor for a B2B…Still love Carnival..

  19. Jen B says:

    Really, JoAnne?!? You were cruising in one of the most beautiful, pristine, areas imaginable, and all you can do is complain about (minor) problems in the dining room? Did you ever even look out your window?

  20. Chris Pulos says:

    “Not created equal if left in San Juan”…..hahahaha SO True, and just Brilliant!

  21. debbi rose says:

    sorry going to the ask john page(head bowed in shame cause i didnt read instructions…..debbi

    • robert says:

      My wife and I took a Carnival Cruise aboard Liberty last week to celebrate our 27th anniversary. On day one they lost our luggage with all our dress clothes. When they finnaly figured out where it was at on day two our bags were soaking wet and some of the color had washed out on the clothes ruining several shirts and rendering my suit unwearable so cancel the formal stuff. Now we are home from the cruise and I find that my debit card has been double charged. They took the money out for each idividual time i used my sign and sail card and then after we checked out they billed my card for the grand total all at once. I will NEVER book another cruise with Carnival and I am trying to find every blog, website etc. that I can to warn others.

  22. Observation:

    “And here is the view from Malcolm’s balcony……..yes, senior officers have balconies on Spirit class ships.”

    Cruise directors are not officers as far as I know. How did Malcolm hornswoggle that?

    • Jodi says:

      Bill – CDs ARE officers and on many cruise lines still wear the uniform,they simply do not on Carnival. I don’t know about the sister cruiselines, but I can’t imagine Cunard not having everyone in uniform, even their CDs. They don’t have to horswaggle anything. If only I could have that job!

      • Jodi says:

        oops sorry, my finger missed the n hole, hornswaggle.

        • Catherine Pierce says:

          Thanks Jodi for clearing that up. CD are officers and I’m sure a lot of people don’t realize that they are in charged of ALL entertainment aboard ship. They are hard workers and deserve all the hoopla they can get.

  23. John Mercer says:

    Glad to hear that half Moon Cay dodged the bullet…we’re on the Fascination cruise that is supposed to stop there on Sept 5th, and I honestly thought we’d be diverted.

  24. Darby says:


    No need for a response or even to publish this response, but wantes to let you know that you comment about bread not being in baskets on the table is not accurate on all ships. I am curently on the Carnival Liberty and was in the dining room tonight and we did indeed have a basket of bread on our table for dinner. There was the last night we were there too. Just wanted you to know. – Darby

  25. Eliot D says:

    Coming back on the dream following behind the hurricane, I have to commend the staff and crew for an outstanding job. The shows continued although a little rocky, but it did provide for some open seats in the comedy club that final night. Yes, it was a rollercoaster up on deck 11, but the 8 foot wave was what really caught my eye since it came out of the lido deck main pool! I Heald onto my matress and woke up safe and sound in Port Canaveral in the morning although I had really hoped for an extra day at sea!!! Incredible service from Rodney and Toshi in the main dining room and they served the bread to us from the basket every night, brought silverwear to us as needed and was always a step ahead of our requests the entire week. Again I have to say THANKS to John for the incredible table and the entire DREAM family for making it a incredible and safe cruise.

  26. Donna Gregory says:

    I also know, as now do many thousands of people, that all cruise lines are not created equal …….. especially if your ships sailed and you are left behind in San Juan.

    Brilliant, John! Just brilliant! Carnival has the best team on the seas, especially to be so uplifting in their messages. I have to tell you some of those pictures were scary! I’m so glad everyone survived Hurricane Bastard with typical Carnival flair!

  27. Donna Gregory says:

    Oh. Forget to say…don’t worry about lying to your sweet Kye. One day, when she’s a teenager, she will pay you back. And she will not feel the remorse you do. Unless, of course, she gets caught. 🙂

  28. Michael S says:

    Enough with Tom and Cheryl and Cruise Critic! I read their “review” and that was NOT what it was. They have provided useful information on other topics, but this particular “review” was a lesson in morality. Tom and Cheryl and every other VIP Cruise Critic member should keep their judgments to themselves and let others enjoy their cruise experience as they see fit.

    • Cruise4Music says:

      Could not agree more. I thinks it’s time to stop posting Cruise Critc questions on the blog. The folks in question seem to mostly complain about everything Carnival. Respect? I don’t think so.

      Cruise Critic is a very, very small but very loud part of the Cruising community. Give the rest of us a break and jut stop posting Cruise Critc stuff.

    • Tom-n-Cheryl says:

      Our review was just that, a review of our experiences those three days. I can only speak for myself and what we encountered.

      John and I have discussed the “non-issue” with regard to the person who posted on here several weeks ago. It’s “all good”! 🙂


  29. Jim Naysmith says:

    We are looking forward to joining you on September 16th as I am finally fulfilling my 38 year old promise to my then girlfriend, now my wife, to take her to Europe. We love cruising with Carnival and when the chance to cruise in the Mediterranean on the new Carnival Magic arose, we jumped at the opportunity. In reading your musings regarding what we tell our children, we of course can relate to the white lies. Our children are now older and we now watch our daughters, with the two of us providing encouragement, tell the same white lies to their children. Just makes being a child a little magical, and your daughter will always remember face time with daddy and not the fact that daddy was away at work a lot.

  30. Rick N says:

    John, with all due respect to the comments of 4X4 cruiser regarding Tom and Cheryl, don’t let it concern you. There are a myriad of people on Cruise Critic, including Tom and Cheryl, who have racked up a huge number of comments posted in a very short period of time. I have seen numerous posts from those boasting 10,000, 15,000, 25,000, 40,000, even 50,000 posts, which contain a total of one word – yes, or no, or yup, or even two words such as, try searching. I’m sure these posters good people, yet many have been members for less than five or six years. Having been a Cruise Critic member myself for over 10 years, I’m still working on 700 posts. I am aware of one individual who joined CC in March 2011 and already has posted over 5,000 times. A woman who joined in February 2011 has already posted over 3,000 times. People on CC are well known for flaming others who dare criticise what they say so I’m quite sure there will be a number of negative responses to this one. That’s okay. I guess that’s what a forum is for. Simply put, don’t let what others complain about bother you.

    • Tom-n-Cheryl says:

      I have been a member on CC for about 8-1/2 years. In that time, I would say that a good portion of my posts were more than a simple few words, though I do acknowledge that there are some who are “pros” at one liner “hit-n-runs”!

      As of today, my statistics:
      Total Posts: 13,981
      Posts Per Day: 4.49

      While 14,000 posts may seem like quite a lot (have a look at some of the OFFICIAL CRUISES threads!), when it is broken down to less than 5/day – it does not seem quite as “obsessive”.

      I feel that a vast majority of my posts are informative, and if not – at least somewhat humorous! I attempt to balance quality AND quantity 😉


    • Cruise4Music says:

      5000 one line post plus maybe one cruise makes you Cruise Critic cruise expert (sort of).

  31. hguet says:

    Talk about negative comments…you never know…maybe Megan Fox will finally come around and wag it in front of you…don’t be a downer…be positive!!
    And a side note…the last cruise we were on…April 2010…they did not leave the bread basket…we were asked the type we liked and then they put it on our plates(the last night my husband did ask them to bring one, but that’s because he decided bread was his thing that night)….Don’t you love being waited on!!

  32. Jodi says:

    John, thanks for the pronunciation guide, I’m afraid I’ve been doing it wrong from the get-go. I guess I’ll have to stick with Fat Bastard from now on. But in a loving way of course! Thanks too for the update on the hurricane. I’ve been trying to think of a good name for it because my mil’s name was Irene and my daughter is named after her. Glad to here the ‘casualties’ were minor and affected things that can be fixed and NOT people. Also glad to hear that Carnival, true to form, is the leader in taking care of their guests.

    As for sweet little Kye, I have to agree with everyone, she will eventually figure it all out yes, as well as how to talk utter bollocks herself. Especially when she wants something from “Dada”. It’s a shame they can be so sweet and charming and utterly devious at the same time! You will perservere(sp?) though.

    Have a great week!

  33. Erik Valentine says:

    John (please reply privately if you’d like),

    I have a strong feeling that both Heidi and Kye will never be far from you in spirit, since you clearly love them so very much.

    Telling your 2 year old daughter that you would be home very, very soon isn’t something you should consider a Lie, but rather a Promise.

    Hoping to see you on the Carnival Magic March 2012,

    Erik E. Valentine

  34. Jes says:

    Great blog, loved hearing from the other ships! I sailed back in May ’01 from Boston to Bermuda on one NCL ships & we had a nasty little spring storm on the way down, luckily I don’t normally get sick, but being the only one out of the 5 of us in my family being the healthy one was a bit loney. I don’t think the on ship stores were harly open because of the danger of things falling & a good portion of the ship flew home because of how sick they were. Their loss because we had a nice smooth ride home.

  35. Minina says:

    I must say I took a cruise with carnival on May, and I am still HAVING A HARD TIME GETTING MY MONEY back from my “future cruise certificate”.
    I had been calling since May 22nd,2011, I am still waiting.TODAY IS SEPTEMBER 30!,2011!.Thanks.

  36. Sandy Sebert says:

    Hi John
    I do hope I am writting to the right place. Last Oct my sisters and I took a cruise out of Galvastion and I wrote you asking for a favor, well you never answerd me and no favor was given. I know that you are a busy man so I am asking again. We are sailing on the Inspiration Oct 17 out of Tampa. My sister Linda who has beat brest cancer , and my other sister Cindy who has had a stomack bypass is in cabin E72.I will be in E70 with my dughter, and I will be haveing my 65 birthday on the 19. the girls have also asked for a table of 4 if that is possible.I know I am asking a lot but these are the best sisters anyone can have and they have been though so much ( and my daughter is pretty great too, but don’t tell her I said so). I am always telling them something funny that you have said on your blogg thiny so I just hope I am not disapointed this time, Than You So Much, sandy

  37. Jodi says:

    Regarding the lady that couldn’t find much right with the Spirit to Alaska, I wished I could have taken her place. I’ve been on 20 plus Carnival cruises and even if I had something to complain about, I probably wouldn’t. The cruise is what you make of it. With regard to bread baskets, I find that if I am in assigned seating, they do not leave bread baskets, but if I am in anytime dining, then they do leave a basket. Whether they do or don’t, what’s the big deal. If you want/need more bread, ask your server. Does the number of eating utensils really mean that much? Give me a fork and knife and I’m pretty happy. If I don’t have a bread plate, I’ll survive. Can’t people just find a way to have a good time, or is that too much to ask. I swear they just want to complain and CAN’T be happy. I can’t imagine what they are like when it’s NOT vacation. Ugh.

  38. Roger Tollerud says:

    My wife and I sailed on the Spirit 2-9 August and our experience was wonderful. Meals great, beds comfortable and as usual the crew was exceptional. We hate to see her go to Australia!
    Roger T

  39. Pete Turner says:

    Hey John, from North Carolina-
    Love ya bunches and always thoroughly enjoy the blog thingy… I know you have probably already answered this like a thousand times, but if so, I guess I have missed it…
    We will be on The Dream Jan 14, 2012 for our tenth cruise and our 34th anniversary. We have definite plans to do the Supper Club, one night BUT AM WONDERING, does The Dream also have The Chef’s Table? We just got off of The Fascination Aug. 25 (Half Moon Cay 2 days before the fun!) heard lots of great comments about the Chef’s Table, so would like to do that also if it is offered on the Dream.
    One other question, do we become platinum members for our 10th cruise or is it AFTER I.e. The 11th cruise. Sure hope it’s the tenth.
    Have a great vacation … You all earn it in spades. FIRE A VOLLEY! Pete Turner

    • Tom-n-Cheryl says:

      Yes,they do – we enjoyed it (immensely) on two sailings. Since the Dream is large enough, the Chef’s Table is actually IN the galley. It’s quite the treat, don’t miss it!


    • Zoogrl says:

      You will be platinum DURING your tenth cruise. Enjoy!!

  40. john i completely understand about leaving kye and please know that she will grow and be a strong person, understanding and loving. heidi is doing a great job as are you my friend. i remember when sarge left for korea once, our youngest was nine months old and he was gone a year! a year! no internet, no computers, no phone calls, only letters that took weeks to arrive. i don’t say this to make your time away seem less but rather to tell you that they become strong and loving and understanding in the right environment (which she has). don’t fret my friend. it’ll be fine. i promise.

    smiles, bee

  41. Jenifer says:

    I’m so glad to hear that HMC is ok. We went to HMC last month for the first time and it is by far my favorite port out of all the ones I have visited. My family was talking about a cruise to Alaska but after visiting HMC we all need to go back.

    BYW John the website does not allow me to search for cruises by the ports that they visit 🙁

  42. Michelle says:

    John, I am currently on the Glory and we are headed back to New York on beautiful, sunny, calm seas. As Josh mentioned, it was a really rough ride up to Halifax (my poor niece in bed most of Sunday seasick) but it has still been a great cruise thanks to the staff who despite rocking and rolling with us all over the deck, go out of their way to make sure everyone is comfortable and entertained. Now I am headed out to Love and Marriage–always entertaining!! WYWH, Michelle Irons, MD. Toledo, Ohio

    • Sandy says:

      I was also on the Glory during the hurricane. The staff went out of their way to make us a comfortable as possible. Because so many people cancelled, my husband and I were upgraded to an aft balcony from an ocean view. We had a blast once the seas calmed down late Sunday.

  43. cruisin'lovebirds says:

    Dear John, Gary and I are carefully watching the newest possible hurricane, Katia. It might go toward Bermuda. Risa just took the Carnival Fantasy south instead of the special sailing to Bermuda – we are on the 9/15 sailing to Bermuda and we are so looking forward to it!

    But, if we end up in Key West and Cozumel, we will at least be on board and away for six nights.

    Hoping to sail with you again sometime! Janet B. in Orlando

  44. Pam and Sam Pritchett says:

    We are 2 of the guests that did not get to Carnival Glory because of the airlines cancelled our flight at 8:30, 7 hours before we were to be at the airport. Has Carnival decided if they are going to help us???

  45. Ashley says:

    John – I do not think you lied to your daughter. 22 day is not that long and that is a perception issue. SO if you do not think it is that long, you did not lie. If you think that is long (which as a mother I know it may seem that way) is a long time.

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