Give Me 5

October 13, 2011 -

John Heald

As you will see, we will be talking about the Miami office later and indeed we shall start with some office chat as well. Now I haven’t worked in an office for 25 years. The only time I did was when I first started work for Customs and Excise Branch 1AQ. That sounds fantastic doesn’t it? Like I was some sort of customs agents stopping huge amounts of cocaine flooding into the streets of London. In fact it was the most life-sapping job in the world. If I looked out of the window in the morning there was bugger all to do in the afternoon. All I did was file paper and pick my nose. Now remember this is back in the mid 1980’s and Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were too busy having rumpy pumpy……well Steve probably was…….Bill wasn’t because he wasn’t rich yet and therefore no woman was ever going to find him attractive.

Anyway, there wasn’t a computer on my desk. There was an old rotary telephone and my files ……that was it. The one good thing, though, was that we had a laugh. We would play tricks on each other that usually involved superglue or condoms that were placed in people’s sandwiches. There was no political correctness, the job got done and we had a laugh doing it. Then I moved to the city of London and it was the same there, hard work but fun. We had a bloke with red hair. We called him Duracell. We had a lady colleague who in fact was a brilliant broker and was already moving up the ranks. Her last name was Collins and this being the eighties meant that Dynasty was on TV so of course we called her Joan. I mean everyone called each other nick names, it was the one thing.

Even the bosses called us by our nick names. If I had been the size I am now I would have been called Fattie or Billy Bunter (a Brit cartoon character) but as I was skinny and had a bent tooth they called me B.O…….which was short for Bottle Opener………..yep, I spent two years working for Lloyds of London with everyone calling me B.O. Work in an office today and everyone is called by their Christian names, even if they are enormous or a ginger. Nicknames were everywhere. My best mate Alan had a girlfriend called Crater Face. This is because she had a face like the surface of the moon and looked like a withered old gargoyle. I called her that, Alan called her that and eventually her friends called her Crater Face as well. It was life and there were no tofu eating high visibility jacket wearing people to say it wasn’t.

Now move forward to 2011 and working in an office it seems is very different. When Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant wrote The Office TV series, which I know you all have in America as well, it showed life in an office but really from what I have seen its nothing like that. Take for example the conversation I heard when I was in CCL’s offices last week. It centered around the two most annoying things that happen in one particular CCL department.

Now it would have been great to hear that Jennifer in accounts has terrible gas and one day she was sitting in her cubicle and her desk chair had wheels on it and she farted so loudly it propelled her into the next cubicle crushing her colleague Dee’s foot. Or that one of the senior beards goes to the toilet but doesn’t shake his gentlemen’s sausage properly and so takes meetings with a wet patch on his pants. Those would have been worthy of a conversation. But the one I heard wasn’t quite like that. The things this group of Carnival shoreside people complained about the most were “talking too loudly on the phone” and “never making coffee.” It got a little better when someone said that one of the ladies would eat smelly food at her desk but that’s it. No tricks, no jokes, no outrageous nick names just coffee, food and talking loudly…….that’s it.

Come on Carnival shoreside employees you can do better than that! To the lady who eats smelly food at her desk, if you are reading this keep doing it but eat that smelly food with your mouth open, making slapping noises and finish with a huge belch. Then put the stinking food container in someone else’s garbage bin.

Carnival has Dress Down Friday and if I was the vice president of human resources I would also make Friday Carnival Office Annoy The Bugger In The Cubicle/Office next to you day.

  • Read e-mails out loud in a silly French accent
  • Pick your nose and wipe a huge booger on someone’s computer screen
  • Buy a whoopee cushion and put it on the senior vice president’s chair
  • Come to work in a Royal Caribbean T-shirt
  • Take one wheel off their office chair
  • Forward unfunny e-mail “jokes” to the entire office
  • Stand behind people, reading over their shoulders
  • Take your shoes off, put your feet on the desk and file the dry skin of your feet. It works even better if you do this at someone else’s desk
  • Make all your calls on speaker phone so the whole office is disturbed
  • Take someone’s yogurt from the refrigerator and eat it and put the empty container back in the refrigerator with a post it note attached that says “mmmmmmm”
  • If someone steps away from their desk and has left their computer on send an email from their account to the boss saying “Meet me after work in the store cupboard, I want to show you my spreadsheet.”
  • Pick a word, one word that must be included in every sentence you say to each other like “bollocks.” As in “Gaynor, I need the summary of accounts for September from the Carnival Magic please bollocks.” Or you can include even more than one word like “Do you want fries with that?” Even Gerry Cahill should get involved because if the rest of the 3,000 shore side folks are doing it so should he. That would be brilliant. Gerry calls Micky Arison. “Hello Micky, I got the message asking for me to present the budget proposals for 2013. I have it all here and ready to show you and ummmm………… you want fries with that?”


So come on Carnival office types, let’s make Fridays Fun Fridays. If you’re not reviled by all and sacked by 5 pm………… you will have failed.

Time for today’s Q and A……… we go.


Steve O Asked:
Dear John (please respond when you have time)

Just wanted to drop you a note with a review of my August 11 Carnival Triumph trip. Yes it was my third this summer BUT it is only a 3.5-hour drive and I LOVE that ship and CREW.  As always VIP Check-In was super. I met Robert O. for a moment prior to heading up to laugh with Dolores. It was the first day of a new computer program and we had more “fun” than usual. Both Dolores and Robert are efficient and lots of fun to deal with. I was on the ship early, waved at guest services and Isabel waved back and said, “Welcome Mr. Owen”….so formal and so nice.

Up to Lido for some lunch (love those burgers). Ran into several members of the crew while chomping on my burger. Had a chat with Maitre d’ “Miss Virgil” (from South Africa) as she was on duty on Lido. She’s a super person John, very good with guests and crew from my observations.

Off to my little 4A cabin on Deck “Z”…..oops, it was only Deck 1 but all the way forward and just perfect for me.

Dinner at 8:15 pm in the London Dining Room with Maitre d’ “Mustafa” (from Turkey)….I told him I’d been in Turkey a long time ago and ask him to guess when…..he said “perhaps in the 1970’s?”………..I laughed and told him when I was in Istanbul it was still called Constantinople ….. well almost, it was on my very first cruise in 1966. Yikes!!

During the voyage I ran into several of the nicest dining room hostesses Carnival has …. Nicoleta (Romania); Natasha (Serbia); Dewi (Indonesia) and Svetlana (Russia).  It was kind of embarrassing when I first ran into each of them………they hugged me and welcomed me back to Carnival.  That is impressive John.  It makes me wonder what I do that causes them to remember me.  Perhaps I sail too often?

Lots of laughs at Tex’s Welcome Show….as I’ve said before, that guy knows how to make people laugh and have fun (with perhaps a “tiny” bit of stealing from you?).  Also saw ACD Charlie…..I start laughing when I see him…..…..he’s got that “British” sense of humour (spelt correctly according to you) and you know I love it.

When I got to my cabin that evening my door had been decorated by the entertainment staff…..a big banner that said, “Welcome Home Steve.” photos of them and their names on heart shaped colored paper… took some time to do that.  Is that sweet or what?  They liked it when I told them I had tears in my eyes as I stood there and looked at it.  I carefully removed all of it and brought it home with me.

Even on the little four-night trip I did The Chef’s Table again…..beautifully done by Chef Allan Gomes (India).  There was a family of eight there with four teenagers and, as usual, everything was perfect.  There were even a few plates broken while we were in the Galley (you know I love that).

A highlight of the trip was sitting with ACD Charlie during the performance of Wonderful World. I had teased him about a part of the show a couple of months before and had sent him a special gift to remind him. John, in the middle of the show he leaned over and said, “Do you see your pink parasols on the stage?” Between he and Tex they had worked my “gifts” into the Asian number.  I was floored. It made me tear up.  WOW.

Met another of your fans, Trudy Crowe and her friend Miss Anna.  We had lunch one day, they are really sweet (and lots of laughs).  My tablemates at dinner were just great too….and I hadn’t even requested anything from you (I’m sure THAT was a surprise).

This is too long, as usual, but I want to mention Maitre d’ Victor (Portugal), he is a great guy and so accommodating…..he has had a LONG career at sea and obviously still enjoys it very much.

I guess that’s about it. Debark was smooth, ship was late due to river traffic…..and I was the first guest off the ship….and I wasn’t even trying to be.  All in all, another TERRIFIC voyage on the beautiful Carnival Triumph…..and yes, I am going one more time before I head to Barcelona for the TA.

See you in Galveston on November 13.  I wonder if “transvestite Barney” will be there?  Oh, that’s right, Kye has him in Essex doesn’t she?

Your OLD mate,
Steve O

John Says:
Hello Steve O

That was the most brilliant of ways to start the Q&A session today and I am thrilled to read your report. I know how passionate you are about your cruises and how wonderfully you treat the crew which I thank you so very much for. I will be passing all this onto the staff and the people in the Miami office as well because this is the kind of review that they love to read. Thanks Steve O and I hope it’s not too long before we see each other again. I loved what Tex did for you ……. fantastic.

Best wishes.

Maggie Leake Asked:
I want to inform you Mr Heald of an encounter with your customer service team. I called the 1-800-CARNIVAL number because I was thinking of booking a cruise on the Carnival Splendor over Christmas. I asked three basic questions. Is the ship decorated and will Christmas be celebrated for all passengers as I am not a Christian. Then I asked what cabin temperature was as I have allergies and need a certain controlled temperature and then I if soy milk was available at all meals and she told me no. I later found out it is from another forum. It seems that the customer service people you employee have no idea about your product. I have now found your help page Mr Heald and need you to answer the questions quickly and correctly if Carnival does indeed want my business.

John Says:
Hello Maggie Leake

Let’s start by answering your questions and I see you posted this three weeks ago so please accept my apologies for the lateness of the reply. While the ship does indeed celebrate Christmas, we also offer a menorah lighting service for those of the Jewish faith as well. The standard temperature in the cabin is set at 70 degrees but with the individual controls in the staterooms you can bring that down or up as you require. Soy milk is available at all meals and if you can’t find it on Lido deck just ask a waiter and they will bring it to you. I hope this helps and I hope you are able to book and please let me know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes.

John Says:

Hello John I would like to know if the Carnival Magic will have a cigar under the stars party during the November 14 cruise which me and my wife will be on with you. I am like you a big cigar smoker.

Thanks John

John Says:
Hello Chandra

There certainly will be a cigars under the stars event and it will be outside on The Lanai. Please keep an eye open for this in the Fun Times and I will look forward to sharing a cigar with you then.

Best wishes and see you soon.

Larry Ritchie Asked:

My wife and I are booked on the Carnival Paradise’s Panama Canal cruise Nov 28. I understand why Acapulco port was cancelled and appreciate Carnival keeping both of us safe. Now my question – do you know when Puerto Vallarta, Mexico excursions will be added to the cruise specific excursions under “manage my cruise” for this cruise?

Thank you in advance.

John Says:
Hello Larry Ritchie

I just spoke to the shore excursion department and they told me that some excursions are now on line for PV and the rest should be there by the end of next week. Please let me know if you have any questions and I wish you a wonderful voyage.

Best wishes.

Barry W Asked:
My family and I will be cruising on the Dream booking ______ and with me will be my son Jared who is going to be starting his training in the Marine Corps next year. Can you send him a free gift as he will not have the chance to cruise again as a family and will be away from us for the next eight months?

John Says:
Hello Barry W

Please congratulate your son and thank him for the service he is about to give. I will indeed send him something and I wish you all a wonderful cruise this Saturday. I just caught this in time so have fun.

Best wishes to all.

Victor Olgen Asked:
Although I do enjoy your blog I wonder if at least once a week you could cut away from the humor and concentrate only on answering questions as I am positive more readers would come your way if they were guaranteed that you would answer their questions. Just a thought.

John Says:
Hello Victor Olgen

Yes you are right, I should try harder with the questions but then I am also worried that there are many readers who enjoy the ship stories more than the Q&A bit in the middle. I answer around 40 a week here but probably 400 a week on Facebook as well so for now I will keep the blog as is. I was actually considering stopping them altogether here. Thanks for saying you enjoy the blog and I hope you will continue to do so.

Best wishes.

Margaret King Asked:
Hi, John,

We have a family boat in Barbados that we use for lunch and dinner cruises, and would like talk to cruise lines about adding it as a shore excursion. How do I go about doing that? Please point me in the right direction.


John Says:
Hello Margaret King

Thanks for writing and I have sent this to our shore excursion folks here in Miami and asked them to contact you.

Best wishes

Patricia Asked:
We are going to be choosing Carnival for our James J. Ferris High School reunion and will cruise on the Miracle next year. There will be 32 of us and I need to MAKE SURE WE ARE ALL SEATED IN THE SAME SECTION OF THE MAIN DINING HALL. How do I make sure this done??????????? URGENT!!! URGENT!!

John Says:
Hello Patricia Hallstrom

Thanks for booking this wonderful reunion with us and you will all love the Carnival Miracle I am sure. I need to know if you all booked through a travel agent or a PVP or online. If you used an agent or a PVP please collect all the names and cabin numbers together and ask your TA or PVP or call Carnival if you booked on line and simply give them all the names and ask for them to be linked together at dining. They will then do their best to help you and if you write to me here a month before you sail or two weeks before on my Facebook page then I will check with the ship and make sure it’s been done. I wish you all a brilliant time.

Best wishes to you all.

Max B Asked:

Does Carnival carry non-alcoholic wines and beer aboard? If so is it a big selection of wine or just one or two brands? BTW, love the blog and Facebook thingies. You make me smile every day! Thanks.

John Says:
Hello Max B

Thanks for the kind words and while we do carry them, it’s not a very wide selection. Thanks again for the nice words and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog thingy.

Best wishes.

Valerie A Dunlap Asked:
O.K., odds are that you won’t see this before tonight’s Legends performance, but thought I might “throw it out there”, just in case…  My husband, Keith Dunlap, is playing the “Bruce Springsteen” part tonight… Now, here’s the catch: we just received word yesterday that his father had passed.  Keith wants to do this, partially because he is a local musician, and partially because he knows that his father wanted him to enjoy this vacation, as they talked by phone at every available port moment.  I know that this is totally against the “guy code of ethics and proper conduct,” but he really is a great guy and does deserve an evening of support, love and diversion before we return to the realities of home.  Thank You!

John Says:
Hello Valerie Dunlap

I know this is a month overdue but I just saw this now and I wanted to pass on my sympathies to your husband and all the family. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been to be on stage singing and having fun under such difficult circumstances. Thanks for writing; I hope you had a great cruise and once again my sympathies for your terrible loss.

Best wishes to all.


That’s all for today. Yesterday the blog passed 12 million views with between 14,000 and 20,000 daily views. Thanks so much everyone and I thank you for your continuing readership and your continuing friendship.

It was interesting reading the comment about the guest services team because I have received so many positive comments about them in recent months that to hear a negative one is somewhat surprising. As we are talking about the office a lot today I should also say this. It is very challenging for the ladies and gents who answer the phones for you to know absolutely everything about what we do onboard and how everything works. While their knowledge is excellent and their desire to help you is remarkable unless you have lived and worked on a ship for at least a few weeks it is impossible to know everything. The same is said for me. I get questions about Early Saver and price drops and I know as much about this as Paris Hilton knows about keeping her legs crossed. That’s why both shoreside and myself have started to work much closer together in an attempt to better serve our guests. We have a huge social media program, the best by many a mile in the cruise industry and indeed I would say the travel industry. Look at Carnival’s Facebook page with over 1 million likes…….that’s incredible. I have 19,000 on my Facebook page and as I said, many thousands of daily views here on the blog thingy. Plus we have Funville and all these online areas give you the guest a chance to ask questions. Plus there is the old fashioned way……yes I guess it is old fashioned these days………of picking up a phone and calling someone.

The brilliant team ashore led by Vice President Vicky Rey is determined to make sure we continue to have the best guest services team in the industry and as I said we are now helping each other. I ask them for help and if one of their team get a shipboard question they don’t know, then they ask me. I must highlight one lady called Mischelle who some of you may have spoken to on the World Wide Web thingy. She has been at Carnival for 20 something years and her knowledge is extraordinary. She is our online community manager and I have to publicly thank her for all her sterling work. So bottom line is that we will continue to work hard for you to get your questions answered as quickly as we can. Please let me know if you have any comments on this.

OK, here is Vance with the official press release on what’s happening on November 13 in Galveston.

Carnival Cruise Lines and Maroon 5 To Rock Texas for Carnival Magic’s U.S. Debut

So as you can see we released the news today about the event in Galveston and let me say straight away how brilliant it is that we are doing this. In days gone past the ship would have arrived at Galveston, a few thousand travel agents would have toured the ship and a few hundred would have stayed the night and seen a show and drank a few vats of wine. Now we are holding this concert with this brilliant band called Maroon 5.

OK, I admit that I know only a few of their songs but when I mentioned it to people — particularly women — they either fainted or started singing a song about Mick Jacking moving house or something. Anyway, hopefully I’ll have the honour of introducing them onto the stage and that means it might be time to get my tight leather pants out of the closet.

Now I know a lot of you want to watch the Carnival Magic sail into Galveston and of course you can and I will confirm the time a few days before. However it will be early, somewhere between 5 am and 6 am which means it will be dark. Why so early I hear you cry? Well there are lots of reasons including traffic in the channel and of course the fact that the ship has to disembark 3,800 guests and then go through various inspections, etc. Then in the afternoon we do have travel agents boarding the ship and a few lucky people who have done the trans-Atlantic and who are staying for that cruise on the 14th. So it’s a busy day.

Now you may have also seen the contest that we launched that will award two people an all expenses paid trip to see the incomparable Maroon 5 in concert. If you didn’t, here is the link to enter and here is the video:

So, exciting times and I really hope some of you can come and join me. And indeed some of you will be able to get tickets and here is Eric the Beard to tell you how and with information on how and where we can all meet.


Hello Bloggy People!

So before I get into how this whole ticket giveaway is going to work, let me share some very important information that you need to know before entering.

The only thing we are giving away here on the blog are tickets to the event. You will need to provide your own transportation to and from the event in Galveston, as well as hotel accommodations if you decide to stay overnight. If you do decide to stay in Galveston, I also recommend that you make reservations ASAP, as hotels are selling out very quickly.

Also, please enter only if you truly plan on attending the event. We have a very limited number of tickets and want to make sure that bloggers who really want to go can go.

Now that that’s out of the way, here is what you need in order to enter this giveaway:

The FIRST 50 BLOGGERS (that’s you!) to leave a comment below this post, with the following information, will receive TWO tickets to the Carnival Magic/Maroon 5 event in Galveston, Texas on November 13th:

  • First and Last Name
  • Mailing Address (No P.O. Boxes)
  • Email
  • Why you want to attend the event
  • The correct answers to the following two questions: 1) Which is John’s favorite car maker? 2) In which department did John start his career off at Carnival?

Note: You MUST provide all of the above, including the two questions, in order for your submission to be considered.

I will keep all of your information private. Only the names of the winners will be posted, so that all of you can see who the first 50 people are. (Update: I realized a lot of you might not want your names posted publicly either so I’ve decided that no entries will be posted. If you are a winner you will receive an email in the next few days.  Thanks – Eric the Beard)

Again, just to be clear, there will be a total of 50 winners and each winner will receive TWO tickets to the event.

All winners will be contacted via email with further details about the prize, as well as the blogger meet-up that will also be happening on November 13th.

So good luck to all, and may the rest of your day be filled with lots of tofu, eye-gadgets and thick, luscious beards!

Eric the Beard

I hope to see some of you there as I have the true honour of introducing this brilliant band and hanging out with the dudes backstage. I wonder if they have any spare groupies for me.

By the way I have to tell you about my flight back from Freeport to Miami and this was witnessed by Peter the Hair, Jay the Recently Married and my assistant Mel. On my American Eagle plane sitting next to me was a man whose relationship with soap and deodorant was the same as my relationship with tofu and the gym. He was talking on his Eyephone as he boarded and he kept talking on it until the flight attendant threatened to remove him from the plane. He was talking loudly about oil as though he was a sodding Ewing. I am sure it was all an act and he was probably on the phone with his wife getting a bollocking because she found out he had been logging onto


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.