John Heald …………………Loser

September 2, 2011 -

John Heald

Ketut has been sick these past two days and I have missed him so much. For those who do not know who Ketut is, I should explain that he is my cabin steward and cleans and tidies my cabin, looks after me, scrapes various objects off the inside of my toilet and washes my underpants. I have no idea what made him sick, but he has been confined to bed by the ship’s doctor for two days and I am lost without him. I do have a replacement, a lovely chap from India whose name is Venkataratnamadam Narisimha Rattaiah……….I call him Bob.

Now Bob is a great guy but he is no Ketut and he actually frowned when he came out of my bathroom yesterday and looked at me as though I had taken a huge number two and forgotten to flush the toilet — which, as it turns out, is exactly what I had done. And while this never used to bother Ketut, it bothers Bob obviously because as I sit here in my underpants he hasn’t been to clean my cabin yet. I guess I can manage without Ketut or Bob for a few days although actually it probably isn’t a good idea. The last time I led a bachelor lifestyle was way before Heidi when I rented my first ever flat (apartment) and it was always piled high with KFC buckets, discarded Diet Coke cans and scattered naughty Latvian magazines. I also had a toilet that was constantly blocked thanks to Colonel Saunders.  So it’s best then that Bob comes back.

Ketut also used to bring me breakfast when I asked for it and would go to Lido to get it for me and would return with eggs, bacon and sausage English-style which thanks to the large number of British guests on board we serve daily. Loads of grease in the morning…..mmmm. Bob refuses to do this for me and I had to ask Calvyn this morning to get me breakfast. It sounds lazy, and yes it is, but if I go and stand in line for breakfast on Lido I will still be there at lunch time answering questions. Yes, that’s my job and I do it when I can but with FB and blogs to write, the early mornings are valuable to me.

So I asked my co-morning show host and entertainment staff member Calvyn to get me breakfast as he was going to Lido anyway. And 45 minutes, later there was a knock at the cabin door. I was expecting Calvyn with my fry up and I could taste the grease on the bacon and the thick, slightly crispy sausages that dipped in my fried eggs would take my taste buds to heaven and back — except I couldn’t taste it because that’s not what was on the plate. You see Calvyn had decided not to bring me this but instead the total bastard had brought me yogurt, muesli, rye bread with seeds and other crap in it and a bowl of fruit.

I looked at him and said, “What’s this?” and Calvyn said, “It’s what I eat for breakfast” and we sat down to eat.  In Calvyn’s mind we were two cowboys sharing breakfast………..oh God, we recreating a scene from his favourite movie…………and it wasn’t Blazing Saddles.

Time for today’s Q and A…… we go.

Brian Asked:
Hi John,

Could you please tell me what Carnival puts in the water/air/food or pillows that makes cruising so addicting? After three perfect cruises in the past two years and two more cruises booked for this winter, cruising is all I can think about on a daily basis. I know there must be something addicting on the ships because I need my fix within hours of disembarking and am usually looking for the next cruise before a week’s end. My coworkers have to listen to me talk endlessly about Carnival cruises and now they’re booking their own! Therefore, while I have never had the slightest complaint about anything or anyone on the ships I must tell you…and I’m sure many on the blog thingy will agree, my only complaint if I were a complainer, well two complaints actually, one is that the cruises are too short because I’d love to stay on board forever and be catered to like a king, and two, Carnival has made me an addict and I need to seek help……..or another cruise to relax (!!!)…….and John, you are enabling my addiction by posting on Facebook and keeping me informed. This is mostly your fault!!!  Thank you so much for what you do.  I am not a Facebook subscriber but I do read your blog daily. Please send a huge thank you to every crew member on every ship for all of their hard work.

John Says:
Hello Brian

Yesterday on Facebook I had a bit of a rant about a negative and cruel comment I had received which include a link to Cruise Critic that had some other comments of the same. I had a mate contact me called Steve who is a Cruise Critic reader and we discussed that there are times when I shouldn’t post links here that are just simply poisonous. And while I will always post most questions, in this case he was right and so I didn’t post it today. I tell you this because having just read that awful and vindictive post about Carnival and more importantly about some of the crew it was a true joy to read your post. I want to say therefore a huge thank you to you for the great words and I promise that we will continue to do our best to bring you the most affordable and most fun on the seven seas.

Best wishes and I hope we cruise together soon.

Leslie Asked:

We were just on our fourth Carnival cruise on the Carnival Triumph and found the embarkation people in Louisiana to be curt and downright rude. New Orleans looked like it still had a long way to go before being close to recovery from Katrina and the streets were dirty as was the airport, as well. While we enjoyed the cruise our New Orleans experience was awful and Carnival needs to rethink moving the ships away from the slums of New Orleans and back to Mobile where a southern smile and courteous friendship is assured and promised.

John Says:
Hello Leslie

I was very surprised to read your comments about the embarkation experience in New Orleans and I certainly apologise that our staff did not meet your expectations and I will make sure the right people see your thoughts. As I said, I was surprised as it’s the first time I have read such a comment. New Orleans is one of our most popular ports – in fact, we’re adding a second ship there this fall and returning our capacity to pre-Katrina levels, something that we’re very excited about. Nevertheless, it seems that we have to improve and I will make sure that I pass along your comments to the appropriate people here at Carnival. I hope you had a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes.

Martha Dorries Asked:
I’m going to be sailing on the Carnival Glory in September and I have a special request. My daughter is a classically trained pianist and is attending Julliard. She needs to practice three hours every day even during our family cruise so she will need a grand piano and a private room in which to do so. Our cruise takes us on the Carnival Glory on September 10 and our suite number is 2377. I look forward to your immediate reply

John Says:
Hello Martha Dorries.

I have to admit that I had to ask Uncle Google what Julliard was all about and it seems that it is a very special school for very talented musicians so you must be very proud of your daughter. I see that you are sailing very soon so I have sent a request to the ship for your daughter to use one of the pianos on board. Now while this won’t be a problem she may have to be flexible with the times she can play and the piano is actually a baby grand not a full grand piano. I am sure we can work something out and I have asked the cruise director Josh to be in touch with you when you board. I hope you have a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes to you both

Doug Asked:
Hi John,

First, I love the blog thingy. Very funny and informative. I do have a question for you though, (BTW I’m pretty new to the blog so if you’ve already talked about this previously I apologize) you mentioned your family came to visit you while on the Magic recently.  My son and I were wondering…… does it work when the family of the crew wants to visit their loved ones?  Do they stay in the crew member’s cabin? Does Carnival have special quarters available in the crew area?  Are they given one of the regular passenger cabins?  Do they have to pay for their trip?  For all the hard work you all do and all the time you spend away from your families, I hope Carnival goes out of their way to make a family visit very special.  Just curious.


John Says:
Hello Doug

Thanks for the kind words about the blog thingy and I hope that it continues to bring you some fun and some good information. Each crew member has the ability to bring family on the ship and depending on their time with the company and their position on board they can do so multiple times per year. But each crew member regardless of their position can, at least once, bring family on board. We all have to pay something but obviously it’s a reduced rate and is a great benefit for the crew. They have two ways of doing this. They can buy a category 1A inside cabin or if they have single quarters the family can stay with them. However, many crew won’t use this option simply because even though family may be on board, that crew member still has a job to do and doing that job and having family on board as well can be very tiring indeed. But the benefit is there and it’s an excellent one of many that Carnival offers our crew.

Best wishes.

Philip B Asked:

There is a discussion on Cruise Critic (your nemesis) that is very interesting and it’s all about why we should tip the maitre d’s on the ships. I have sailed this year with NCL twice and with Carnival as well on the Carnival Pride. It’s only on Carnival that the pressure is on to tip the maitre d as it was mentioned in the cruise director’s video. This didn’t happen on NCL. The question is why should we tip the maitre d then? Do they not get paid a salary by Carnival?

John Says:
Hello Philip B

There was a similar question about this in the blog on Wednesday I seem to remember so let me recap what I said then. Every single Carnival employee is paid a salary by Carnival and some employees also receive tips. I think we have a brilliant group of maitre d’s and many make a difference to your time in the dining room. I mentioned some by name yesterday who I have worked with recently and there are others like Yusuf, Drasko, Claudio, Fernando, Jogi, Suresh, Shane, Ricardo, Mersin and others spring to mind. There are many other excellent ones whose names for now escape me and many guests have their favourites. Some are funny, some are crazy and full of energy and some sing and one or two even dance. But it’s far more than that. They provide the ambience in the dining room and they set the tone. They should also, whenever possible visit as many of the tables as they can although as the ships get ever bigger that is not always possible. Tipping the maitre d is standard in the cruise industry and it’s no different to any other tipping position and that is simple. If you have enjoyed them and they have made a difference then yes, please tip. However, from what I have seen in recent years, most of you do.

Best wishes.

Jay Farrow Asked:
Your weight loss or lack of it as the case may be seems to be a subject that is open for discussion and so I thought as I am cruising with you on September 4 on Carnival Magic that I would hope you would allow me to sit with you and talk about my experiences. One year ago I weighed 430 pounds and today one year and three weeks later, I weigh 290 and by this time next year I will weigh 150 pounds which is my target weight. John, your life will change and I can help you change it. Please allow me some time with you next cruise and I will help you turn from an obese man with no self esteem to a man proud to walk out on your stage looking good and feeling fantastic. I am sailing with my partner and we would like a table for two. Our cabin number is 6232 but we are hoping to get upgraded. Please give me the time John, an hour or more with me could prolong your life by many years.

John Says:
Hello Jay Farrow

Many congratulations on your amazing weight loss and how your life must have changed because of it. My current weight is 50 pounds more that I would like but slowly, slowly I am losing the weight. I look forward to meeting you and although I can promise you a set time I look forward to shaking your hand and telling you congratulations in person and wishing you a brilliant cruise. I have asked the maitre d for a table for two.

Best wishes.

Kat Walker Asked:
Hey John

I’m writing for your expert advice. The Med is on my bucket list and Carnival Breeze has been added as well.  What is the best month to visit for weather? We are from Florida so don’t wanna do hot and sticky. Also flying is a stickler for hubby — how long is the flight from Miami or Lauderdale and what airline could you suggest?? We are going on our 20th cruise September 18 out of Tampa on the Carnival Legend and cannot wait to be sailing again!!!! Thank you for putting a smile on my face daily and some laughter in my heart when I read your blogs…

John Says:
Hello Kat Walker

I think cruising the Med should be on everyone’s bucket list and I am excited to see it on yours. Temperatures in July and August are similar to Florida although for the most part it is less humid. My favourite months here are June and September and those will be warm in the day with temperatures around 70 degrees and around 65 at night…..perfect. The flight to Barcelona is around nine hours and many of the U.S.-based carriers have direct flights. I would recommend if you can to arrive one or two days before so you can see some of beautiful Barcelona. I wish you the most wonderful time on the Carnival Legend and if you have any other questions please let me know and I truly hope to see you on the Carnival Breeze next year.

Best wishes.

Gillian Asked:
The cruise on the Carnival Fascination was good. It was our first and we got the table for four that we asked you to get. The food was good and the shows were too but the problem was that the shower cubicle was too small and I didn’t fit in M114 shower. There should be larger showers for big people. I was also surprised by the lack of entertainment for African Americans and that there was nobody trained to do my hair in the salon. We are looking to book on the Carnival Fantasy next as we are from North Carolina.

John Says:
Hello Gillian

I know that the showers can be a bit of a tight squeeze for extra medium people like me so my apologies if it was a bit of a squeeze. I am not sure what voyage you were on so I can’t look at who the comedians were when you sailed but I would hope that the shows had something for every guest despite their ethnic background. I will certainly pass on your comments to the spa team and my apologies that this happened. I am though very happy to see that the table I helped arrange was reserved for you and most of all that you had fun and you will be returning again soon. You will love the Carnival Fantasy and the fact that it is close to home. Please let me know if you have any other questions before you cruise again.

Best wishes.

Estelle Asked:
Hi John,

First let me say I love reading your blog. We will be sailing on the Carnival Dream May 12, 2012 and this will be our sixth cruise with Carnival. We are booked in a cove balcony. I have been reading the reviews for the Carnival Dream and I would like to know if you can tell me how much the ship rocks. From what I am reading it appears to be a lot. We love Carnival. If you can let the right person know we book with Charlene in the Miami office every time we cruise and she is wonderful. Well keep up the good work.


John Says:
Hello Estelle

I have seen this comment before and I wonder where it comes from because I spent two months on the Carnival Dream and don’t remember her moving anymore than any other ship. Please don’t worry and I can promise you that you will truly love your cove balcony and that the month of May should assure you great cruising weather. Enjoy the close to the water view and if you have any other concerns please let me help you. Thanks so much for those kind words about the blog.

Best wishes.

Lawrence Asked:
Carnival should have singles cruises. I went on the Carnival Freedom and it was full of old people that ruined my cruise because they were all boring and old and there was nobody in the nighclub. Do you do singles cruises?

John Says:
Hello Lawrence

While we have singles groups sail with us we don’t have a ship or a specific cruise dedicated to single guests. Carnival carries the most varied cross section of people than any other cruise line and I am sorry that the nightclub was not busy during your cruise. I don’t know how old you are but I would mention that spring break on certain ships will be busy with many younger single singles people you may enjoy sailing at that time.

Best wishes.


That’s all for today.

Every now and then I am asked for a recipe over on Facebook and the latest request is for one of our wonderful pasta dishes that I remember the lady who asked for it said was a dish her kids raved about and wanted Mum to cook at home. So thanks to Executive Chef Peter…….you can. Here it is:



OK, time for a special guest blog from Carnival’s 359th best comedian Mr. Al Er……..oh hold on. I have just been told we have hired a new comedy show where a lady with a terrible gas problem farts Abba songs on stage while her service dog tap dances alongside her………so here then is a special blog from Carnival’s 360th best comedian………..Mr Al Ernst.


The E Man’s Top Nine Comics! David Letterman does a top ten list, there are lists everywhere.


After 21 years in the business, I thought I would give you my top nine comedians or funniest entertainers.  Why? Because it is different than the standard list of 10, and my favorite sport is baseball, so I thought I would do them by position. The most asked question by others:  Who makes you laugh? I have never done a list, but I thought in honor of this anniversary maybe I did have a few favorites. To be honest, I hardly ever watch Comedy.  It is my passion, but I really think that you cannot be your best unless it comes from you. But there are some people I have seen, come across, or worked with that have genuinely made me laugh. I am sure I am forgetting someone, and it is a flexible list, but here we go.


Right Field: Louis CK  Just caught him on a channel flipping night on Conan. Clearly the funniest comic working at present.


Left Field: Billy Crystal  Enjoyed him more in movies than stand-up. Watch the movie titled Mr. Saturday Night, he wrote, directed, and produced. This is as close to a real life career comedian that has ever been done.


Center Field: John Heald  Yes, it may seem like I am kissing up here but there is not an entertainer on this planet that has the sense of stage and comic timing.  When I write for him, his material is pretty good too. Most of you know John is the top cruise director for Carnival. I have watched, and shared a stage with him.  He is a real talent.


First Base: Jay Leno  I worked with Jay on a number of shows in the 1990s when he was hot on Letterman.  I am not about the politics or the interview skills, but a pure stand up and a writer, and a guy who can deliver a perfect joke……well, he is the best.


Second Base: Bill Cosby  He is a storyteller.  He is able to take the hardest audience, and does the thing that is most important in the business…bring the crowd to him, and not pander to them.


Short Stop: George Carlin  He got a little bitter late in his career, but he is a guy who wrote all his own stuff, and had a unique style that worked for him.


Third Base: Johnny Carson  Showing my age here, but those of you who remember him, knows that he made funny out of saying nothing.  He could take the hokiest material and make it funny by the audience NOT laughing.


Catcher: Richard Pryor  Probably goes without saying; many people were offended and laughing at the same time. No one gives him the credit he deserves for doing stories and not just jokes.


Pitcher: Steve Martin  This man has forgot more talent than any 100 comics will ever have.  He walked away from actual stand up, because he said all he could. He wrote movies, stories, books, musical talent.  It is just amazing.


Yes, I know, if you are reading this, you have come up with at least 20 others. I probably would have a different list tomorrow. The only southern comic that I would list as honorable mention is Ron White. I also stayed with celebrities. One day I will give you a list of the funniest comics you never heard of.  Of course, I did not include myself on the list, because I am one of a kind!

Make sure you continue to laugh…and send me any well wishes or presents you might like to honor the fact that I have stayed out of jail, out of debt, and away from a day job for 21 years.


Al Ernst



Thanks Al and I think you know that you are the people’s choice and continue to be one of most requested and laugh-out-loud funniest comedians and I am truly humbled by your kind words. Hope you get to see Al perform soon… will recognise him as he will have a small brown patch on his nose.

This cruise has been excellent and it’s hard to believe that the next time I write a blog, it will mark the start of my last cruise for a while as CD of this Carnival Magic. There will be plenty of time to reminisce I am sure and next cruise we have the potential strike in Italy which should make it interesting and I, of course, will be reporting about it live on my blog and on Facebook.

During these hectic days on the Carnival Magic when most days I am working 15 to 17 hours a day I often pause and look forward to the time when life is simply my big leather recliner, a cigar, a plasma TV, a nap and a rumpy pumpy dream about Megan Fox’s you know what. Right now, though, I spend most of my time on this bloody computer. It’s one big blur…….200 e-mails here, a need a bigger thingy there, Facebook, check Mr. Arison’s twit, a Viagra sale, check the headlines, check the e-mail again, log off, log on……..when will it end?

Well never……not even as we get older. That’s because it appears that even Holland America is giving the greatest generation a chance to become computer savvy. They have teamed up with Microsoft to provide Texpert classes and I have a guest here on the Carnival Magic who was telling me that he recently sailed on a HAL ship and who thought these classes were amazing. He tells me he can now use the internet and send e-mails and log onto and he was disappointed we didn’t have similar lessons here. By the way, the guest was in his late 70’s which I found fascinating.

This being Friday’s blog, I will try and stay away from the heavier subjects of seat saving and hurricanes and concentrate more on ………well me. Now because Ketut is in bed with a man cold or underpantitus or whatever he has I have pretty much had to fend for myself and last night I discovered my refrigerator was bare and I was out of bottled water. And so I traveled down to deck 0 to the crew lounge. This is where the hard working men and women unwind after cleaning the cabins, serving and cooking the food and the rest of the crew go to relax. There is a large bar, a huge giant TV, foosball, darts and more. There is also a table tennis table. Now as I may have mentioned before I have the sporting skills of a drunken penguin but I do love a game of ping pong. And as I entered the crew lounge I saw that the table was empty and there were very few crew members around and so I asked Calvyn who was with me if he wanted a game.

Now, I admit here and now that I asked Calvyn for a game because…..well……..because I thought I could beat him. And I admit that I thought I could beat him because he is …… ummmm ……… well extra medium like me and that in my mind I expected him to have the athleticism of Rosanne Barr. And so we played.

And before I knew it the score was 2 to 9 and I was losing big time. How was this possible? It’s my job to be better than him as I am his boss and the athletic equivalent of Richard Simmons was kicking my arse.

Then it was 2–10 and then soon 3–11. I stopped the game and pointed to my suit and work shoes and the fact that my opponent on the other side of the table had casual clothes and something called TOMS which he wears with everything and I mean everything and he wears them all day everyday and sniff one and you will either think you’re in Paris or you will faint.

Anyway, I was at a disadvantage and so I told Calvyn to wait and I am ashamed to say I was now taking this game so seriously that I went back to my cabin, changed into a T-shirt, sweat pants and my Michael Jordans. Then I went outside on deck 5, took some deep breaths and came back a new man. I may have even been growling a bit shouting “Come on you fat tub of lard, come on, don’t let Lurch beat you.” I returned to the crew bar to find that there were now many more crew in there and all were waiting for me to finish my game so they could play and they were all waiting to see who would win.

It was my serve and using my special sliced double action deep back spin serve I sent it right into his chest and it spun away of the edge of his bat. “Yes!!!” I shouted, punching the air, my face contorted as though in the process of pushing out last night’s stubborn dinner. And the game continued and I smashed the ball at one point so hard it hit Calvyn in the head and this gave me great pleasure and I danced around the table like a man possessed. It was now 19 to 20 with Calvyn leading…..first to 21 wins.

My life hung in the balance. If I messed up, I would have lost to my assistant and I would have lost to my friend and I would have lost to someone who listens to Cher. I focused. I coughed and snorted the sludge from my nose onto the crew lounge floor trying to get as much oxygen into my lungs as I could. Tension was everywhere, the entire crew lounge was watching. I gripped my bat more tightly. Calvyn served. The ball came, I sent it back, and then Calvyn returned it to me with some height. This was my chance. I concentrated on the white ball as it came toward me; my whole world was focused on smashing back as hard as I could to take the game to a tie. I arched my body like a coiled tiger ready to spring and then “BANG” I smashed the ball back to Calvyn’s side. And it missed the table completely and instead flew past, hitting Patel the soup cook in the side of the head.

It was over. I had lost. The crew applauded, some laughed. I had been beaten by the man with ridiculously long arms and posture that would make Quasimodo look straight. There are many days when I feel old but last night was the worst. I ache this morning and I have had to endure Calvyn’s taunts as he reminds me that he beat me. Even crew who were not there are pointing and laughing that the senior cruise director and brand ambassador was beaten at table tennis by someone who looks like Barbara Streisand. That’s why while the ship was in Palma De Majorca today I demanded a lunchtime rematch. And he beat me again. Bugger.


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.