September 13, 2011 -

John Heald

This cruise is the first one for some weeks where we have very few children on board – 95 in fact. And while 94 of them are having a brilliant time in the ports of call and at Camp Carnival, Circle “C,” and Club O2, there is one 12-year-old here on the Carnival Magic who is doing none of the above…………and we shall call her Annie.

Here is a message from Annie’s mother.

Ref: 887271222A
Cabin: **** Booking#: ****** Added-Changed: 09/111/11 – 09/11/11
Guest reported to GSD stating that she was unhappy that her 12 year old daughter had not received any education activities at Circle C. Guest expected that she would be taught history about the European ports but it has all been games and dancing. Guest asked to speak with Cruise Director John. GSA offered to call YD but Mrs.______ insisted on speaking to CD.

I am really on a roll this week what with guests trying to sell me diet pills, the reaction to our Sept. 11 ceremony and now this. I can understand why people want to speak to me. Oh hold on, that sounded big headed and I didn’t mean it to be — I just mean that I am the voice of the ship and so the guests have a perception that I am in charge of everything. But in reality it’s the youth director who is in charge of all the three children and teen programming on the ship and the youth director reports to the hotel director. Personally, I find this a little odd as what they provide is as much entertainment as what we do for the adults and I would love to get the CD’s more involved with the program. Anyway, I digress. So even though I am not in charge of the program I met the lady in the company of our youth director and I have to say it has been an interesting cruise to say the least.

Now I have to say that before I headed on down to Carnival Magic’s lobby which is where I hold all my “The cruise director is a fat useless bastard” bollocking sessions that I had some pre-conceptions in my mind about how this lady would be. She would be wearing a caftan, have her hair in pigtails and ready to “teach the world to sing.” Wrong! She was pleasant and just wanted to explain that she had expected her daughter to receive an “education” while she was on board and not have her just “playing all the time.” I apologised and also said that I would take her suggestion that we should include teaching the kids Italian back to the beards in Miami.

Annie’s mother further explained to us that her daughter was “gifted” and was home schooled. I know nothing about “home schooling” and I am sure for many this really works but as she rattled off all her achievements I couldn’t help but look at her daughter as a normal kid who sat quietly, listening to Mum say that she wished she could have learned more about the history of Venice yesterday rather than decorate T-shirts with glitter. I felt sad because her daughter’s eyes looked sad they looked like she would have loved to be at Circle “C” right now having fun with her new friends. Now Kye is two years old and while I would never dare to criticise how another parent brings up their kid, it just seemed sad that she wasn’t allowed to go and be…….well, 12 years old.

All of us wrap up our children when it’s cold. We put them on booster seats in the car and make them wear so much safety equipment when they ride their bicycle it looks like they are doing so in Afghanistan. We strive constantly to keep them out of harm’s way, and then we send them off to school so they can be punched, kicked, and learn how to swear by the time they are five. Maybe this lady is right…………….maybe home schooling is the way to go.

Annie is skilled in mathematics I was told and at the age of 12 she probably is better at math than I ever was or ever will be. Mum told us her daughter, who already speaks fluent Spanish, starts school at 7 am every morning, works with her dad on math and English until noon. Then at 1 pm she works with her Mum on languages including Mandarin Chinese. But before she can collapse into bed she has to do two hours of homework. Facebook? A bit of Glee? Some texting? Forget it. The youth director and I sat there and listened to her daughter who in a strangely robotic voice spoke in Spanish until Mum flicked a switch and she changed to Chinese. She reminded me of Data from Star Trek. It was impressive, though, and it made me think if I would ever home school Kye? Probably not. I respect this choice but I of course could only teach her to tell bad jokes and to say “bugger”…… and much to Heidi’s displeasure I have already taught Kye to say “bugger” which means once I have taught her a joke about poo she will have graduated.

I want Kye to leave school with basic academic skills, enough to get her to $32,000 on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. But more than that, I want her to learn social skills so that she can interact properly with other human beings. I want her to learn to blog. I want her to enjoy life, to have fun. I can’t bear the thought of pressuring Kye so she can be put on a treadmill and have no social skills. School is supposed to prepare a person for life, not wear them out. Yes, I must do everything we can to keep Kye safe. But I should also do everything we can to make her happy as well. But who am I to judge. Maybe Annie was happy. Maybe she wanted to learn multiple languages and maybe she wanted to spend her time touring the art museums of Italy. And maybe she didn’t want to be on Facebook or using the Carnival Magic’s water park and maybe she didn’t want to be meeting new friends at Circle “C” and dancing to Justin Beaver’s new hit. And maybe she didn’t mind that after meeting me and shaking my hand that her mother made her hold out the hand that I had shaken to have it cleansed with some sort of antibiotic wipe she had produced from her bag. Our youth program is all about fun and maybe I am wrong, I hope I am…..but I don’t see Annie’s life so far containing much of the “f” word at all.

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

Mary McQuillen asked:
Hi John,

I have nothing but praise for Carnival! I have never had a bad cruise with Carnival but did on a RC cruise. I will never sail with them again! I am getting ready for my eighth cruise with Carnival. My daughter and I are doing our second mother/daughter cruise on Carnival Elation out of Mobile. I would love to do something special for her. This is our second cruise that we have done for her birthday. Leaving the families at home even though our hubbies and her kids are not happy about it! Any suggestions? Carnival is just fantastic with the best “Fun Ships” out there!! This will be my third of four cruises this year. I love reading your blogs and some of the funny requests of some of the guests. All the crew members are great on the ships!

Best wishes to you.


John says:
Hello Mary McQuillen,

I would be glad to send your daughter something for her birthday but I can’t see when you are cruising next. I do hope that I haven’t missed it so please can you let me know. I think it’s marvelous that you are spending some mother/daughter time together and on the wonderful Carnival Elation. I can imagine that the rest of the family are a bit jealous of you doing so, maybe next time you can all cruise together. Please let me know then when you are going either here or on Facebook.

Best wishes to you both.


Gerrit asked:
Dear John,

Our German family of seven will be sailing on the Carnival Magic October 7, 2011 (staterooms 2215 & 2219). While we were very sorry to hear that apparently you won’t be sailing with us (it would have been the third cruise with you as the CD for some of us), we’re really looking forward to yet another wonderful Carnival cruise in the sunny Mediterranean. The kids in particular look forward to meeting “Fun Ship” Freddy, needless to say. May I ask whether it would be possible for you to do our party two favours (spelt correctly):

#1: Through Carnival’s GSA in Germany, we asked for a baby bed to be provided for my younger son Tyler who will be turning two later this month. The GSA responded that it won’t be possible to provide one as my son will be two years old at the time of the cruise and that as a result of that it would be possible that he is too large to fit into a baby bed – which he is not as he sleeps in one at home, as well. Would it be possible for you to arrange for a baby bed to be provided for Tyler? Otherwise, we would have to bring our own baby bed for which the airline would charge us an excess baggage fee (actually two – one for each flight).

# 2: On two previous Carnival cruises, Ivan Lobo from India was our dining room waiter. I understand he’s working on Carnival Magic now. It would be absolutely wonderful if you were able to arrange for our party of seven to be seated at one of his tables during our cruise, if possible.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this and thank you even more for making the before mentioned favours possible – if possible, of course.

Kind regards,

Gerrit from Germany and family

John says:
Hello Gerrit,

I am so sorry that I won’t be here with you but I promise that you will have a brilliant time here on the Carnival Magic. My daughter is two years old as well and also sleeps in a kid’s cot when she is on board so I will arrange one for you to be placed in the cabin. Ivan is currently on vacation I am afraid and doesn’t get back till after your cruise but please don’t worry as I am sure you will truly enjoy the service in the dining room and I have requested your table for you.

I wish you the very best of times and a wunderbar (that’s German by the way) cruise.

Best wishes


Buddy and Guy asked:

My partner of 12 years and I will be on our platinum cruise on the Valor September 25. Each year we cruise with Carnival, I always request a table for two and yet we have never been thought worthy of enough to be given one. I was directed by http://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=162 to come to you to get a table for 2 confirmed for our sailing in cabin 7344 on the late seating.

John says:
Hello Buddy and Guy,

Thanks for taking the time to write and many congratulations on your Platinum cruise on the Carnival Valor. I am not sure what you mean when you said that the reason you have not been given a table for two was because “you were not worthy” but I will certainly do my best this time to make it so. I wish you both a brilliant time and thank you for your loyalty to Carnival. Have fun.

Best wishes to you both.


Fay Branton asked:

I don’t think I have ever been more disappointed than I was when I read that you won’t be the cruise director for our Trans Atlantic cruise. Why have you not told the people who made the decision to move you what an impact this will have on the trip. I am so angry at you and at them because one of the reasons we booked this cruise was that you would be the cruise director as we sailed with you to Istanbul on Carnival Freedom and you were excellent. Will Carnival be offering some kind of compensation for this trouble? This is just not acceptable!

John says:
Hello Fay Branton,

I was so sad when I read this because I know that there are as you said one or two others who feel the same and I hate, absolutely hate, letting people down. Like most people I work for a company with a command structure and the people at the top of the Carnival tree felt I could be better served elsewhere during this period. I realise again that by doing so I have disappointed you and for that I sincerely apologise. The compensation comes in the form of my replacement James Charlton whose bio I featured in the blog on Friday. He is young, tireless and energetic and I know he will make sure you have a brilliant entertainment and activity program. I wish you a wonderful crossing and I am so sorry I cannot be with you.

Best wishes.


Simon Freijland asked:

I agree 100% with the comment made by Greg today about the language barrier between your passengers and the Carnival crew. It is extremely frustrating to have to repeat over and over again what you want from room service and despite doing this the order still arrives late and incorrect. Case in point: on my recent cruise on Carnival Sensation I ordered a ham and cheese sandwich on toasted white bread and repeated the order again to the foreign speaking telephone operator. The sandwich arrived 40 minutes later and on WHEAT bread. I sent it back and had to wait another 30 minutes. Staff seemed to have no idea how to answer my questions and this was because none of them had any education in English and so were unable to answer. Greg said he found this very frustrating and I wanted to echo his thoughts and bet there are thousands more of your customers who would agree.

John says:
Hello Simon Freijland,

I am very sorry that your room service order was wrong as that is something that should not happen. However, I do disagree with your comment because as I think I probably mention to “Greg” when he posted a comment here that every single one of our crew must have an understanding of English as demanded by United States Coast Guard operating under the SOLAS agreement – SOLAS stands for Safety Of Life At Sea. It may not be their first language but they all speak English and while some definitely speak it better than others none of them should have concerns in answering your questions. However, if as you say they did, well again I apologise. I hope you had a wonderful cruise and that we see you again soon.

Best wishes.


Kathleen Stutchman asked:
Hello John!

Recently, my family and I cruised to Alaska on a Holland America ship (after 11 Carnival Caribbean cruises). When I first sailed on the Carnival Inspiration in 2001, passengers were allowed to go to their cabins upon boarding. Now, as you know, we must wait until 1:30 to have access to our cabins. When we sailed to Alaska we were allowed in our cabin as soon as we boarded since HAL recently made that option available. Anyway, what I would like to know is do you think that Carnival will consider making the changes like HAL did so that we can go to our cabin when we board? It really is a pain to carry around our carryon luggage. The reason that I don’t check in all of our luggage like I did on my first cruise is that I don’t like my make-up, and hair stuff, etc. crushed on the bottom of the huge luggage bins to leak all over my clothes. If Carnival can’t make that option available to everyone, maybe add it as a Platinum perk? Thank you for taking the time to read this, I don’t really know how you are able to do all that you do and keep up with this blog and Facebook too! You were on our 3/2011 cruise getting ready to take over from Chris Jefferson the following week-I got to see you around the ship-just not as CD. Really looking forward to having you as CD on our annual Spring Break cruise on the Magic 3/18/12!


John says:

Hello Kathleen Stutchman,

Thanks for taking the time to write and I was very interested in hearing this about how Holland America allows guests to go straight to their staterooms. I recently sailed on Princess and on P&O and they had the same restriction of going to the staterooms at 1 pm. I wonder, was debarkation over extremely early in Alaska as I am curious as to how they managed to get the staterooms clean and prepared in time. Please if you have a moment could you let me know what time you boarded and went to your cabin? There are no plans at the moment to have this as a Platinum perk as the stateroom stewards need all the time in order to get your cruise home looking its best. I can’t wait to show you the Carnival Magic and if there is anything you need before you sail please let me know.

Best wishes.


Margaret Green (Margie) asked:
Hi John!

My husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary on the second sailing of the Carnival Magic. We had such a wonderful time and met so many interesting people on board. We are sailing on the Carnival Magic on the first sailing out of Galveston (yes, we are Texans…but don’t get me started) and we were wondering if our favorite wait staff would still be on the Carnival Magic? We discovered Vladimir and Jarovic (Jay) in the ‘Anytime Dining’ and requested to be seated in their section every night. We enjoyed Vladimir’s wicked sense of humor and excellent menu suggestions and we loved conversing with Jay in the dining room and many other times we saw him on board. We can’t wait till we can sail on the Carnival Magic again!

John says:
Hello Margaret Green,

Coming back to the ship in Galveston will I am sure feel like coming home and that’s simply brilliant. Both Vladimir and Jay are here still but both are leaving on vacation between now and November and so they won’t be here when you sail again…..sorry. I am sure you will find their replacements just as good and if there is anything you think I can do for you before you come home please let me know.

Best wishes.


Melissa Royal-Cleveland asked:
Dear John,

I just wanted to tell you about the wonderful time my husband, very active two year old, in-laws, and I had on the July 19th sailing on the Carnival Spirit. My husband, two year old, and I were in cabin 1185 and our room steward was the best EVER!!! I would also like to tell you about our wonderful dining room servers (I don’t remember their names but we ate in the Empire dining room at 7:45 table #392). They always had a chocolate milk and a fruit cup waiting for my son when we got to the dining room, and when one night I left the dining room early because the very active two year old was getting restless and I didn’t want him disturbing other guests at dinner our serves went to the maitre d’ to see if they could have my meal delivered to our stateroom. While on the Carnival Spirit my husband and I took my father in-law on the Behind the Fun Tour. He loved IT!!! When we got back to our stateroom later that evening we had a note from our behind the fun tour guide stating that she was missing some of the passes, we knew that we had turned ours in and the note did not have any contact information on it so we assumed that it had gone out to all of the tour members and we didn’t think anything of it. Well we were wrong because around 9:30pm our phone rang and it was the tour guide wanting to know where her passes were, my husband tried to tell her we didn’t have them. This phone call woke up our very active two year old causing him to be up until 1:45am. My only suggestion is using caution when calling a guest stateroom after 9pm.


John says:
Hello Melissa Royal-Cleveland,

Let me start by saying how sorry I am about that phone call. I know how two year old kids are when they have been woken up unexpectedly and we should take this into consideration and I apologise. I will also send this to the ship. That aside I see you had a brilliant time and I will make sure that all those mentioned get to see your praise. And many congratulations on booking more cruises and I hope that you will let me know if you need anything at all before you sail.

Best wishes to all the family.


Judi asked:

Really no suggestions…I just wanted to say (as so many do) that you crack me up! I sit home on my lunch hour and laugh till I cry! I love the honesty. I’m taking my first cruise ever with my
family next June on the Carnival Liberty. I’m sure we’ll have a blast. Thanks for the smiles.

John says:
Hello Judi,

I just wanted to say a huge thank you for joining me on the blog and on Facebook and yes, you will have a brilliant time on the Carnival Liberty and if there is anything you need please let me know. Until then I will do my best to give you as much fun here and on Facebook as I can.

Best wishes.


That’s all for today, back with more tomorrow.

I had a note from Senda Schultz who recently cruised here on the Carnival Magic. She told me that she had included Carnival in her Vacation Bible School. Here she is:

“John, Our VBS was themed ‘Beach-Blast’ so what a better way to have a beach blast than with Carnival? It turned out really cute…Carnival cups and all…if you can see them! :)”

Let’s have a look shall we?

Fantastic, Senda. We are truly honoured that you did this and I thank you for taking the time to show us all. I send my best to you and all at your church.

Well as I said it’s been a cruise with some interesting characters on it but compared with what this hurricane season has brought so far, it’s been an easy ride here on the Carnival Magic. In the past couple of weeks in the Caribbean, there have been thousands of cruise ship guests who displayed an understanding and sympathetic attitude to the changes forced upon us by Hurricane Bastard and Tropical Storms Bastard 1 and Bastard 2. My fellow cruise directors reported the usual small percentage of guests who did not understand why the ship didn’t go to all the scheduled ports and demand that they be given 12 free cruises and a Aston Martin because they had to sail on a revised itinerary or spend an extra day at sea.

At the forefront of making sure these guests do understand and make sure that all the passengers remained informed, happy and content were the cruise directors. They were making constant announcements, and were making sure that the fun continued regardless. So, I salute my colleagues in the Caribbean whose positive attitude and ability to turn a complaint into a smile is what makes them the best in the business……well done all of you.

I want to talk about the way guests purchase photos here on the Carnival Magic but first because I can never just stick to what I am talking about I have to write about technology. Now, I know that I am to technology what the French are to deodorant but I am positive that none of the stuff designed to make our lives better actually bloody well works.

My new Raspberry keeps flashing me a message about if I want to connect it to my car via Blueteeth even though I am on a cruise ship in Italy and my car is home in the UK. And even when we are together in the same place as in my fat arse is sitting in the driver’s seat, it is still impossible. And this is because Blueteeth attempts to connect things using the air. That doesn’t work. If you want to join something to something else, you need a screw, or a nail, or some wire. And, because Blueteeth uses air to connect you there are going to be things in the air to stop that happening.

For example, for some strange reason the Blueteeth connection never works after I have had a curry. My Raspberry also says it can access the interweb but it can’t and in Europe it keeps dropping the signal together. That’s probably due to the ludicrous names the telephone companies have. In the US and the UK we have Vodaphone and AT&T. In Italy they have I TIM and Pop Star and in Spain they have……….well they have bugger all because whenever the ship is in Barcelona my raspberry never works. What else? Aggh yes, the self check-in consoles at airports ask a million sodding questions then tell you to bugger off to see a human at the end of a six-mile line. And some people moan about waiting 15 minutes for a fresh plate of Mongolian Wok to be cooked…………..I just don’t get it.

The machines that answer phone calls in Bombay haven’t a clue what you’re all about. Then there is the digital camera I use to post photos here and on Facebook. Mr. Radu understands it and it works perfectly for him but not for me. Mine takes a picture about two years after I press the shutter button. My photograph album these days is full of snaps of chairs, taken after the person who was sitting there has got up, gone home and died.

Today, you have a video iPod and a wafer-thin television set. You have a portable satellite navigation system, Tivo, a digital camera, a widescreen laptop, a rampant rabbit, automatic sprinklers on your lawn and a cell phone that plays the sound of the ship’s horn when anyone calls. At home I even have a coffee machine that is programmed to deliver an espresso in the morning, a mellower blend in the afternoon and big cup of girly decaf after six in the evening. How cool is that?….except you have to have a degree in astrophysics to just get it out of the box.

All of these things have created a new type of person. The gadget freak. And slowly some of these gadgets are arriving onto the ships and the latest comes in the form of the facial recognition thingy. It’s simple. You have your photo taken as you board the ship as normal, you know the one that’s embedded in your Sail & Sign card and the one our security team checks when you leave and when you return to the ship. Well now it has a second use as well because a bearded tech wizard for our Q branch in Miami…….actually it’s Miami so that should be our Que branch …….has designed a facial recognition program. All you do is swipe your card. It then recognises the photo and in turn puts all the photos you have had taken by our 23,989 photographers and you choose which ones you wish to buy. Simple. It has proven to be a big success here and I asked the head photo beard if there were plans to put it on other ships as well and was told that they are pursuing further development of facial recognition and other technologies that helps guests to find and sort their cruise memory photos more easily……which is beard talk for ummm …….maybe, could be.

Anyway, here is what the machines look like.

Finally today, one more question to answer.

Harvey S asked:

All Carnival brand ships look the same and yet you dare sit there and judge. RCI ships and NCL ships are unique yet Carnival makes multi-brand ships as I am sure we shall see soon when a Dream-class ship goes to Princess or Holland America. Same old same old, just stretched and painted different colors. Maybe you should look in the mirror before casting your tactless wit on other cruise companies.

John says:
Hello Harvey S,

I am sorry that you feel all Carnival ships look alike. You are right though as so successful is the Dream class that we will proudly give one to Costa Cruise Lines in 2014 who have completely different plans for her interior. Each of our brands is different, with their own identity and this is one of the many reasons why individually, Carnival, Costa, Cunard, Princess, Holland America, AIDA and Seabourn are so successful and why together they form the strongest alliance of cruise companies in the world that is Carnival Corporation. I hope one day you will discover this by sailing on one or more of our ships where you will discover just how brilliant the respective ships are.

Best wishes.


Actually, no………sorry I can’t leave it there Harvey. You see my arm hurts and it’s been a long few months so let me say this. All Carnival Corporation ships do look alike? Actually you’re right ……but only if you drink 12 pints of ThirstyFrog and sniff a pair of my underpants. Then maybe the Queen Elizabeth looks exactly like the Carnival Magic. And while you’re there have a good look at me because I will look just like LeBron James.


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.