Desk Job

August 30, 2011 -

John Heald

“So, how is this cruise going?” I hear you cry. It’s going very well and thanks for asking. I won’t say that there aren’t challenges and I will be discussing one or two of those over the next few blogs starting today with an old chestnut. But overall the guests love the ship and her crew. There are 4,400 guests here which means there are going to be as there always is, one or two ummmmm……….interesting stories.

One such incident involves Michael Jackson and a joke made by one of the comedians that upset a guest so much that she walked out of the Spotlight Lounge on Promenade Deck aft and went all the way forward and down to deck 3 and at 11:45pm she made a complaint that the joke had been racist. And so this morning I had to talk to the guest who was African American as indeed was the comedian who had told it during his uncensored show which means the comedians often make some outrageous jokes. The fact that it is an uncensored show is well documented and announced clearly by the show’s emcee so there was no doubt that the guest was attending a show that would be R-rated with adult material.

The comedian involved is one of our very funniest and one who gets more rave reviews than most. His show includes jokes and observations on rumpy pumpy, getting old, all the bodily functions and political humor as well as this one particular Michael Jackson joke. I know many of you are asking “What was the joke, John”……well this is one that can only be told in a comedy club environment and not here on the blog. So I spoke to the lady in the lobby this morning and appropriately we are in Naples and Mount Vesuvius was in the background because this lady was erupting her anger all over me. I explained that the show was uncensored but she didn’t want to know and told me that it was wrong to make fun of the dead and that the joke was racist. Anyway, long story short. She’s mad, I said sorry, she walked away still mad, she gets fruit. The end.

By the way, one footnote to this. As you know we have a new Carnival Legends show here on Carnival Magic and it is brilliant and I hope it gets around to the rest of the fleet as soon as possible. The new characters and the new dancing with the cast section have breathed new life into a show that was (is) getting a bit tired. However, while we have multiple signups for Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Shania Twain, Neil Diamond etc…….we have on the three occasions we have done the show only had one person sign up for Michael Jackson and each time they have been…..ummmm………well, let’s just say they were sponsored by ThirstyFrog Red and have provided a certain comedy element to the show. I wonder why we have no one sign up to sing Billie Jean. My guess is that MJ is virtually impossible to impersonate because of his incredible dancing and singing ability, not to mention that his voice was truly one of a kind and unless you trap your thingy in the fly of your pants, you are never going to sound like he did. And now — it’s laundry time.

Miss_____Ref: 84810775231A Owner: (——————
Cabin: ———– Booking#: ****** Added-Changed: 08/28/11 – 08/28/11


Miss ——–reported that three pairs of under garments and one blouse had been stolen from the guest laundry. Guest had put in her washing and came back 40 minutes later to find her clothes had been taken out and other clothes of another guests were in the machine. Security has been tasked.


Now, let’s examine this shall we? First of all it is unbelievable that another guest would come into the laundry, stop the machine, make sure no other guest is watching, take out the laundry and walk off with it. Surely this is a mistake right? Maybe they went to the wrong deck and thought they were at the place where their laundry is. Or of course we have 800 kids on board ……… a juvenile prank maybe. Oh hold on, I just had a thought. We also have 140 French on board and they are ladies underwear that is missing……maybe Pierre is in his cabin standing in front of the mirror saying “Sacre blue – mon derriere looks formidable in these oha oha oha.”

I should put a pair of my underpants in the guest laundry and see if any sod takes them. I think we all know the answer to that. And if they did steal them they would find their way back to me ……I have homing underpants. We will solve the case of the missing silk underwear and have called in the help of the Italian Police, Interpol, the CIA, the FBI ……..and of course Calvyn.

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

Denise from Ft. Lauderdale Asked:
Hi John!

We are sailing on October 30, 2011 on the Carnival Valor, which is our ninth Carnival cruise. We are excited about celebrating Halloween on the ship.  We have our costumes ready. It appears that on Halloween, October 31 is also formal night.  My question is, do we wear our costumes for dinner?  I say yes, thinking the wait staff will be wearing costumes, but my husband says no, we should put our costumes on after dinner.  Can you help us answer this question?

A HUGE Carnival fan,

John Says:
Hello Denise from Ft. Lauderdale

I am glad to see that you are a “HUGE Carnival fan” and that is great news indeed. Halloween has become a big celebration for us over the past few years and it will be the same again this year. The elegant night is indeed on the 31st and I doubt (although I am not 100% certain) that the ship will change that so as in previous years yes, you and many other guests will wear their costumes to dinner. I will be posting the Halloween schedule for the entire fleet as soon as I have it. Have a great time.

Best wishes.

Bernard Berry Asked:
Hi John.

Don’t really have a question, just wanted to say my June 24 cruise was my best cruise ever.  Thank you and your staff for allowing my wife and I to experience for a week what it feels like to be famous. It was a first for us and it was awesome.  What a fun concept. We are still enjoying the perks we received. We have another cruise scheduled out of Port Canaveral September 17 on Carnival Dream and we know that it won’t top our Carnival Magic cruise. We still are looking forward to it and will continue to choose Carnival for all our future cruises. Keep the new ships coming. You are the best. Thanks again!

Bernard and Carolyn Berry

John Says:
Hello Bernard

How brilliant that you wrote and brilliant describes your performance in the WIN show. Thanks so much for spreading your joy and cheer to the other guests and it was an honour to share the stage with you. I wish you a brilliant time again on the Carnival Dream and I hope that we will get to be together in future cruises as well. I will send my colleague Butch a note for you when you board.

Best wishes to you both.

Robert Chadband Asked:
We are sailing on the Magic on September 25 and need you to help us. We are celebrating our 41st Anniversary with our daughter and son-in-law. Would you get us a table for 4 and a window table for our special cruise? We have sailed on five Carnival cruises before but have never had a window table!!!! Also one of your special anniversary gifts would be nice!!!!!!!!! Here are the details.

Robert and Melissa Chadband in state room 1399

Anthony and Rebbeca Rosetti in state room 1407

We cruised with you on the triumph and thought you were fun.

John Says:
Hello Robert Chadband

It is always nice to see families cruising together and I will certainly ask Ken the maitre d’ to do his best to assist you with your table. I am sure we can get you a table for four but although he will try I can’t promise that it will be right next to a window. I will send you something for your anniversary and wish you all a wonderful time here on the Carnival Magic.

Best wishes.

Suzann L Asked:
I didn’t get a comment card for some reason so I would like to say that the waiter I had on my July 7 cruise on the Carnival Inspiration was the best I have ever experienced in my 18 cruises, seven of which have been with Carnival. His name is Manni and his smile and welcoming nature made our cruise so wonderful. My daughter has special needs and not comfortable around strangers but she took to Manni immediately and still talks about him every day. Carnival has in Manni someone who should be recognized as being the difference between a good cruise and one that will never be forgotten. John I would be thankful if you would pass this to Manni and show his line manager as well.

John Says:
Hello Suzann L

What a brilliant post and one that warms the heart when read. It is indeed crew like Manni who can make such a difference and you cannot imagine how proud he will be when he sees this. I will as requested make sure the shipboard and shoreside managers see these words of praise which I thank you sincerely for taking the time to write.

My best wishes to you and the family.

Christiane Gagnon Asked:
Hello John,

I am booked on the Carnival Magic Sept 4. We are really looking forward to this trip. I read on your blog about the itinerary change on the Carnival Magic this week. We have done 15 cruises and I work in logistics planning. Would it not have been better for everyone to just miss a port rather than change all ports around? I know that this had to be a lot of work for Carnival to re-schedule tours. And I appreciate the work Carnival did for passengers on private tours (you did not have to do it, but I am sure it was appreciated. However, in the future, I think skipping the one port is a better decision. Looking forward to meeting you in six weeks.


John Says:
Hello Christiane Gagon

It’s an interesting question indeed. We discussed this in depth and decided that giving everyone the ports they had flown many miles to experience was the best option by far even though as you mentioned it created a lot of work for us on board. The fact that the ports are for many as important as the ship when booking the cruise was also taken into consideration as this is defiantly destination cruising. The concerns in Italy especially are always there. The feedback we received from the guests when we did the port change was positive even though as you know from the complicated work you do, logistically, it was difficult indeed. I look forward to seeing you soon.

Best wishes and get ready for a great cruise.

Michael Chaffin Asked:
John I have noticed over the last few years all staterooms are warmer especially in the middle of the night. Is this a cost savings measure or is my luck of the draw of rooms just bad? I have had maintenance check and they will say the temperature falls in the acceptable range, any idea what that might be.  Thanks can’t wait to sail with you again.

John Says:
Hello Michael Chaffin

Good question. Certainly we don’t turn the air up in the night as a cost saving measure that I can assure you. However there is no doubt that some ships are colder than others and certainly some individual cabins are, as well. Take the ship I am on now, the Carnival Magic. We have certain logs that we keep on board and last cruise we had eight air conditioning complaints about 1,845 cabins and five were that it was too hot and three that it was too cold so go figure. Yet, it’s the same AC system that controls them all and guests have the same thermostat control that allows them to adjust the temperature accordingly. So I guess the answer is I don’t know, maybe it is just personal preference as to how you like the temperature in your cabin. I hope this answers your question and I hope we cruise together again soon.

Best wishes

EPH Asked:
Mr. Heald.

It is unlikely in the extreme that I ever again take a Carnival (and maybe any other) cruise. I have written to Cruise Critic and placed my full review there as I think it is important that others know about me experiences and so I have added this to Cruise Critic. I trust Carnival knowing this will act accordingly. While the personnel were cordial, respectful and hard-working, many were improperly informed and inadequately trained. For one shore excursion (Belize) I was twice sent to improper departure assembly points on the ship. Finally, after some aggressive inquiry, I did find the correct place in time, but it was an unnecessary and unpleasant experience. A planned (and paid) excursion on Grand Cayman was missed when I used my telephone for a waking alarm as I often have. The phone time was correct with ship time when I went to sleep but was changed to later when I was awakened, and I missed the trip. Unknown to me, the time was reset by connection to a cell tower on shore when the ship approached port. Had I been advised of this possibility, I would have been on time for the excursion and the tour company refused to refund my money which is Carnival’s fault……. This was also the first time, in my many overseas travels, when postcards I mailed did not arrive in the US. They were mailed with stamps purchased on the ship and were left in a mail drop which was to be mailed from our current port. Overall the crew was pleasant, but apparently not capable of being very helpful.

John Says:
Hello EPH

Thank you for taking the time to write and I am so sorry that the cruise experience was not what you had hoped for. I know that these days cell phones can and will reset automatically to local time if that function is not turned off and obviously that is what happened with your phone and why you missed the tour. I also have to say that while I understand your frustration in missing the excursion, yours is the first such comment I have ever seen. I am not sure why your postcards did not reach their destination. The cards are given from the guest services desk to our port agent (we have one in each port that looks after us) and they then post it from the local post office. I am sorry that yours did not make it home. I am glad you found the crew “pleasant” and I wish I knew what ship you had been on as it could have been one of two that goes to the ports mentioned. I hope that you will look back at the value for money the cruise provided and the fun you hopefully had and that we will see you again.

Best wishes.

Larry W Asked:
Hi John

Please can you tell me when the new CD schedule will come out. I don’t want to be mean but I am really wanting to book a cruise in January on the Carnival Legend but need to make sure a certain cruise director is not there as if I hear her voice over the PA I think I will go mad.


John Says:
Hello Larry W

I will have the new schedule out in three weeks and will post it here on the blog thingy. I am sure you will be happy. Hope you book that cruise and let me know if you have any other questions

Best wishes.

William D. Starks Asked:
On our last cruise I was impressed on how the Platinum guest was treated.  We really didn’t expect to be treated so great. We thought it was just something in print.  Sorry to say that our next cruise in 2012 will be with RCL.  I have no choice in this matter but we will be back to Carnival after that.  We love Carnival.  So don’t hold it against us for going with RCL in 2012.

Your friend William

John Says:
Hello William D. Starks

Absolutely not. I wish you a wonderful vacation and we will be here to say welcome home the next time you return to carnival. Thanks for the kind words and for your loyalty………..mostly 🙂

Seriously, have a great vacation and hope to see you soon.



That’s all for today.

So, tradition has it that when our ships have been built a coin is placed into a glass box and welded somewhere on the ship. Many of you have had fun finding these coins and have had photos taken with them If that someone is you then you better have a look at this:

So send in those photos of you and the coins and if you are cruising soon then have hunt for the coin and send us your photos.

OK, I know there are certain subjects that probably have some of you going, “Oh no, here goes the fat idiot again.” Dress code is one and so is tipping and of course my dislike for anything French. There is another one though that I need to talk about again because I am getting frustrated and in fact I know you are too. Yep, it’s time to wheel out the seat-saving/chair- hogging subject once again.

These past two cruises we have had 4,500 plus guests on board including many families and for the first time this European season, we have had multiple sea days. And with stunning Mediterranean weather, suffice to say we have had some issues with deck chair saving. There is good news though and that is the pilot system we have started here on our adult only Serenity deck and I can tell you that it works absolutely perfectly. We haven’t re-invented the wheel here. What we are doing is simply enforcing the 30-minute rule wherein if any chair is left for more than 30 minutes, the item is removed by the deck stewards and kept safely until the guests return.

It looks like this system for the Serenity area is working because we have signs there plus it is well advertised in the Capers and …..bugger……..the Fun Times and guests understand and comply. Honestly, we don’t have a problem there and have received no complaints at all. The system works.

Now it works though because it’s a smaller area and we have the crew to monitor and enforce the 30-minute rule. But the vastness of the open decks on 10 and 11 and all around the Lanai on deck 5 that equal hundreds upon hundreds of chairs……..well simply and honestly we can’t do it. We just can’t. And after much discussion with the hotel director, guest services manager and the housekeeping manager we have decided we cannot make promises that we cannot keep. And so while we say in writing and in a scrolling message on the Seaside Theatre Big Screen and in my announcements that seat saving is not allowed, the 30 minute rule has been removed because it is something that we are not able to do. We just don’t have the numbers of staff working on deck. You may think of that as an excuse but it’s not. It’s the truth. The end.

There are, though, other points to mention here and one of those is the blatant disregard by guests who ignore what we ask and plonk towels, books, shoes, children and goats on the chairs as early as 7 am. Take yesterday for example. Normally on the first day of a nine-day cruise we are in Monaco but this cruise as there is no pier available we had a day at sea. So at 8:10am I walked across deck 10 to Lido to get some breakfast and at least 80 percent if not more of the chairs had towels on them, etc. Then at 8:30am after my delicious bowl of All-Bran and some scrambled eggs, I walked down to Deck 5 on The Lanai and at least 50 percent of those had towels and shows and stuff on them as well.

And so I made another announcement on the PA system late that morning and on the Morning Show but I know already that it will make bugger all difference. What has made it even more difficult here on Carnival Magic is the large number of Europeans we have on board and for the Germans, Dutch and British, getting to the chairs first is surely a few years away from being an Olympic sport. But the towel wars have a new champion here on the ship………the Russians. It looks like they have found a way to outsmart everyone by laying their towels in the early hours of the morning after apparently returning from the Vibe dance club and then heading to bed at 5 am.

So what’s the answer? Well I didn’t know the answer to this the last time I wrote about it and I doubt I will have any idea when I write about it again. There may be those who will say that RNL or NCR cruise lines don’t have this problem but that’s bollocks because they do. Any cruise ship and indeed any hotel that has 3,000 people staying there has this problem and until guests stop reserving chairs and realise it is not good manners to do so I expect it will remain a problem for many years to come.

On a lighter note, my first job was working in an office. It was a summer job, I was 16. I filed bits of paper and if I looked out of the window in the morning I had bugger all else to do in the afternoon. Going to work was a simple business. I would arrive through something called a “door,” punch-in something called a “card” through a “clock” and settle down for 10 or 12 hours of total boredom, breaking off only to eat my cheese and tomato sandwiches my Mum had made or to be beaten about the head by my merciless boss, a dragon lady called Peggy. She had a mole on her face from which sprang four long grey hairs that begged to be cut, trimmed or simply burnt off. So there I sat, at my desk. I had a chair, some files and ………well, that was it.

Indeed when I first started as a cruise director on the Carnivale, my desk looked pretty much the same. There was a chair that because the previous Cruise Director Brett Allen’s was a magician and therefore had the obligatory magician’s parrot, was covered in green dollops of bird crap. And indeed so was most of the cabin. On my desk there were only two things. A telephone which had been there since 1953 when the Carnivale was called the Empress of Something and was so heavy that you had to be an Olympic weightlifter to pick it up. The only other thing on my desk back in 1990, was a typewriter.

You see that’s how we used to do the Carnival Capers. Yep, we did them on a typewriter. I would type out what was happening such as:

2 pm……..Massive Huge Jackpot Bingo with a Prize of $25……….Mardi Gras Lounge

3 pm…….The Sexy Beer Drinking Wet T-Shirt Pillow Fighting Contest……Lido Deck. 

Then I would have to type out the meal choices as:

Lunch on Lido Deck. Hamburgers, Hot Dogs With Or Without Cheese………….Lido Deck.

Then, when I had typed these things out I would take a pair of scissors, cut the bit out, coat the back of it with some glue and, pausing only to squash another cockroach with my shoe, I would stick the paper on a legal size piece of blank white paper. To do this for a whole day’s worth of Capers would take me two hours at least and considering I had never used a typewriter in my life before I can honestly say my Capers were dreadful. Really, really dreadful.

But life was much simpler back then. I had my typewriter, the antique phone and a squashed cockroach on my desk. But today as I look at my desk here on the Carnival Magic I can’t believe how things have changed. Here’s what’s on my desk now.

So that’s:

  • One desk top computer and hard drive and speakers.
  • A Huge PA system in the wall
  • A Walkie Talkie
  • A Lap Top
  • An Eye Pad – more on that later
  • A Calculator
  • A ship’s internal cell phone
  • A Raspberry
  • A Flip Video camera
  • Various Crap

Look at this desk and you would think it belongs to an accountant or someone who works for the CI sodding A. But some people with beards will say, “Stop moaning you fat tub of lard. It’s called progress.” Well they may be right but talk to CDs like Steve Cassel and they will tell you how he would spend maybe two hours a day in the office and the rest walking the ship and hosting events. These days all cruise directors (myself very much included) get comments that say, “We didn’t see the CD anywhere except on stage.” Well that’s because the job has changed so so much. But that’s life and that is indeed progress.

Things have gotten so much more complicated over the years. Take computers and the requirement for usernames and passwords. This used to be manageable, requiring as it did little more than typing in a pass code or a phrase based on your love of Megan Fox’s bottom (ilovemegansbottom) or your random phrase (gerrycahillisastudmuffin).

However thanks to various tofu-eating bastards with beards the process of logging in to work is now as bloody difficult as trying to escape from Alcatraz. The last few days have been very busy for me what with a ship to run and trying to keep up with all the hurricane changes so I can keep you all updated over on Facebook. Therefore the last thing I needed was Mr. And Mrs. IT Beard informing me that password policy was changing and that our office and cabin computer passwords must now be eight characters long, contain a letter in upper case, a letter in lower case, a number, and character thingy ………e.g. ?, *, %, $. Oh FFS!

Meaning that “Bollockstothefrench or “servicedogmyarse” are no longer permissible and that even “Latvianwomen%4me*” will work only for a while as I am apparently required to change my password more often than I change my underpants.

So, there you go. Things were different and so much easier back then and while I miss those days I obviously appreciate email and communication devices that allow me to stay in touch with the girls. Would I swap anything now? Well, it’s nice not to sit in a chair covered in bird crap and I hated that typewriter but apart from that…….no……..I probably don’t. Oh, except one thing ………. the word Capers…………..I really miss calling them Capers.



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.