November 8, 2011 -

John Heald

As you know Heidi and Kye were supposed to be with me this week, a week I fully had intended to spend with them and to enjoy some wonderful family time. I had booked a nice family hotel called The Loew’s and it was going to be just wonderful. Then Heidi had to go to Holland leaving me to argue with British Airways about refunds. And all of this resulted in my now well documented Grumpypants week.

But as I sit here this morning, in my underpants, at the Marriottintercontinentalhyatt hotel, I realise that if there is one small mercy about the girls not coming it’s that I don’t have to go to the beach. I had booked The Loews Hotel because it was on beautiful Miami Beach and there is no doubt that Heidi and Kye would have loved it. For me, it would have been sodding purgatory.

I have never ever understood people’s fascination with the beach. Yes, places like Half Moon Cay, Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman (build a sodding pier) and other Caribbean beaches are gorgeous to look at but at the end of the day…… me, it’s sand…….loads of ……. ummmm …….. sand. Just think of all the things it is used for, the manufacture of bricks, and as a housekeeping manager once told me it’s used to make abrasive polishing fluids and cleaning fluids. Is that really the best substance to sit on for days at a time? It always used to surprise me that guests would come to see me on the Carnival Magic and ask where the best beaches are in Venice, Messina and Naples. To come all that way and ignore the obvious historical stunning sites to lay on a beach surrounded by Italian men in Speedos? Each to their own I guess.

I understand, of course, that the beach isn’t the point, unless you’re Kye and want to build sandcastles – nope, it’s the sunbathing. I also understand that the sunbathing isn’t the point either because if we are honest it’s coming back to people saying how tanned you look. But surely if God had wanted people to sunbathe he wouldn’t have invented air conditioning. Nope, I hate beaches and I think many adults feel the same. Whether it’s from the sun, or the wind whipping sand into my orifices simultaneously I just don’t like it. How can anything involving sand equal a “fabulous time?” Even toddlers, on discovering that making upside down castles with plastic buckets is boring and so after a few hours hate it too.

Now obviously there is the fact that in Miami everyone is beautiful and on Miami Beach they are even more so and my beach ball stomach would have looked totally out of place against the back drop of toned bodies, six packs and buttocks that could crack open a coconut. I guess my hatred comes from the last time Heidi and I had a beach holiday in Portugal’s beautiful Algarve. Except we didn’t see the beautiful Algarve because Heidi wanted to be on the beach the entire two weeks. My patience ended with beaches after this holiday when I found I’d been lying for two hours on a partially buried human turd. In reality, couples can’t swim in the turquoise water together, gently groping each other under water in a frisky prelude to some rumpy pumpy back at the hotel as the advertising suggests because someone’s got to sit guarding the camera, money and Eyepods. The beach? There is nowhere I would rather go less for a vacation. Except Paris, obviously.

Let’s crack on with some Q and A.

Donna Shower asked:
Hi John,

I saw that on the blog from the 13th you were talking about the new way to purchase photos on board. I was recently on the Dream and they have these machines on board as well. I have a question for you regarding the extent of this technology. Would it be possible to have an option on the menu on the stateroom TV where you could view and purchase pictures from your stateroom? It would be great if every picture you had taken on the ship could go straight to the stateroom TV so passengers could browse through and order them at their convenience. One thing that was challenging was that the photo gallery always seemed to be open when something else fun was going on the ship and then it closed at 11 PM. And the machines were only operational when the gallery was open. So how convenient it would be if we could look at and order pics 24/7 from our cabins. Just a though anyway. Had a WONDERFUL time on the Carnival Dream. Could not have asked for anything better. And a special shout-out to Francisco and Jason in the dining room. Great service!!!

Thanks for all you do, John.

Donna S.

John says:
Hello Donna Shower,

For those who do not know, Donna is referring to the facial technology we now have on the Carnival Dream and Carnival Magic. This uses the photo embedded in your Sail & Sign card to recognize the photos you have taken. You swipe the card through a machine and those photos are displayed there. I am told by the beards that this is just the start to what this technology can do and I am sure we will see things like the photos displayed on your cabin TV and much more. I will say this though, the old fashioned way of guests browsing the stands looking for their photos seems to get guests excited to buy the photos. But we do need to find other ways as well and we will, I am so glad you had a great time and thanks so much for taking the time to write.

Best wishes.


Lisa and David asked:

We are platinum cruisers and during cruise number 14 on the Carnival Ecstasy we were told that the behind the scenes tour to the bridge was sold out. Platinum passengers should get preferential treatment on this as we were very upset that we could not go. Our next cruise number 15 will be on the Carnival Valor 1/8/12 so I need you to reserve two places for Lisa and David – BKG ******. My travel agent told me about your blog and that you take care of requests like this. I think we cruised with you on the Carnival Glory back in 2004 when we had to have an extra day at sea because of the Hurricane.

John says:
Hello Lisa and David,

I do indeed remember that cruise very well and our extra day at sea before returning to Port Canaveral. Thank you so much for your loyalty and while your travel agent is correct in the fact that I do try and help many people here with requests, I cannot reserve you both a spot on the Behind the Fun tour. We value our Platinum guests greatly however in this case we need to have this available to all our guests. May I suggest that you book the tour the day you board as that way I am positive you will be able to get spaces as it is very rarely sold out that early in the cruise? Thanks again for your loyalty and if there is anything else I can do for you please let me know.

Best wishes to you both.


Michole asked:
Hi John,

We returned home yesterday from My Carnival Inspiration. What an experience!!!! I had previously written before our cruise, and we had ended up with some wonderful chocolate covered strawberries in our cabin and the cabin our daughters were in. Thank you so much this meant a lot to everyone and enhanced our total experience! We had an awesome time, for four of the six of us traveling together, it was our first cruise, and first Carnival cruise for one. We are already planning out our next cruise together! I would like to say that the CD Stephanie and ACD Michelle were great. We all enjoyed the shows and the entertainment staff was great! I especially want to give a shout out to our cabin stewards Iryl and Joe, and our dining room waiters Jose and Asta. They were also a great enhancement to our whole experience, so kind and whatever we needed they were right there. Thank you again for all you do, I will continue to enjoy your blog, and thanks for the goodies in the cabins.


John says:
Hello Michole,

I had to look twice to make sure I had spelt your name correctly, Michole, I think that’s the first time I have seen that name and it’s a very pretty one. Thanks so very much for this great review which I have just sent to the ship and they will be thrilled to see that you have taken the time to write about them. I hope you all will return to Carnival for your next family vacation and if there is anything I can do for you please let me know.

Best wishes.


Sasha Grey asked:
Hello John,

I love your blog, you are a wonderful writer and I hope I get to cruise on a ship with you one day. I live in California and want to take my family and friends on a cruise on the Carnival Splendor in March. My parents love cruising. There will be nine of us and we have a lot to celebrate with my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary, my brother’s 30th birthday and I have some personal career achievements to celebrate as well. My question Sir John is that saying all of this we are a very private family and would like to be guaranteed a private table at dinner. This may sound extremely pretentious but for reasons I cannot explain it is vital that we do this. I researched this and found your blog and saw that you help people so I am asking your advice as this will determine if we cruise or not. We are all in LA and I would love for my family to experience a cruise but the table situation at dinner is a deal breaker. I hope to hear from you very soon.


John says:
Hello Sasha Grey,

How kind of you to consider bringing your family and friends on the Carnival Splendor next year. You will really love the ship and she is a perfect place for you to celebrate your parent’s anniversary and your brother’s birthday and your own career achievements. I will say that while I cannot 100% guarantee a private table I think I can say that 95% I will be able to help you so please, book the cruise and enjoy seven fabulous days on the Carnival Splendor with your family. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

Best wishes.


Jerry Cole asked:

I will be on the 1/29/2012 cruise on the Magic with my wife. This is our fifth cruise. I understand that you will be our CD and we are looking forward to seeing you. Will Mutzie be on this cruise as well? Saw him on the last cruise and think he is the best. On our last cruise for our anniversary I ordered the banner for our cabin and they put up the honeymoon one by mistake. Not funny at the time but being 58 on a honeymoon would be interesting. Otherwise have enjoyed the five previous cruises immensely. I’m not happy with the further smoking restrictions but this is happening everywhere and I’ll deal with it.


Jerry Cole

John says:
Hello Jerry Cole,

I will indeed see you on the Carnival Magic and she is a brilliant ship which I know will give you a brilliant vacation. The comedians schedule for January has not yet been completed so I can’t tell you if Mutzie will be there or not. I do know that I am looking forward to seeing him next week, this will be the first time I have done so and I hear from many other guests that he is very funny indeed so I am looking forward to seeing him perform. As a cigar smoker I realise that the world is changing and the new restrictions are tough, there is no doubt about that. However, you still have locations where you can smoke on the Carnival Magic including the Lanai where you can do so listening to the sounds of the sea. I will see you soon and get ready for a wonderful week.

Best wishes.


Sally Rydell asked:

How can I find the previous posts on Smoke On the Water? My friends and I were on that cruise. I wanted to print all of the notes for us to enjoy together before we sail again on the Magic on January 22, 2012. We are hoping that you will be there with us. Because of your wonderful personality we came home from the Carnival Splendor and told everyone how much fun we had even with all that went wrong. You are an exceptional person and we want to meet you in person. And yes my email address is correct so I expect another exciting trip with you.

Sally, DJ, Jennifer, Sharyl, Brenda and Michael from Sacramento, California

John says:
Hello Sally Rydell,

It will of course be the anniversary of the Splendor incident. I wasn’t actually going to mention that but how ironic that your question should appear today, it is quite uncanny that it has. I wonder if the beards held back on this until today……mmmmmmmm. Anyway, I wish I could be with you all on the 22nd but I don’t join the Carnival Magic until the 29th, I am so sorry. I want to thank you for your understanding and good nature during those very difficult days on the Carnival Splendor. It was three days of mixed emotion that I tried to sum up in my Smoke On The Water Blogs. There were five parts and you can find them all here.

I hope your cruise on the Carnival magic is one full of only fun and sun and if there is anything else I can do for you please let me know.

Best wishes to all.


Eddie Peabody asked:

I am trying to find a cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale in November 2012 and the only ship I can find is the Carnival Freedom which I have been on several times. Please tell me if another Carnival ship will be sailing out of Ft. Lauderdale next November? Thank you

John says:
Hello Eddie Peabody,

We don’t have any other ships outside of the Carnival Freedom sailing out of Port Everglades next year I am afraid as the Carnival Miracle will be sailing year-round from New York. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes,


Philip Callan asked:
Hi John,

Love the site, we were on the Carnival Magic in August and had a fantastic time, love the Breakfast Show with yourself and Calvyn. My wife and I have just booked on the Carnival Breeze for June 27, 2012 and were wondering if you will be the cruise director for the ship when she enters service. It would be great to see you and Calvyn again.



John says:
Hello Philip Callan,

Hosting the morning show with Calvyn was one of my favourite things to do and I am so glad you enjoyed it. The good news is that we will all be together again on the Carnival Breeze and I promise that you will enjoy her so much and that there will be new spaces on her that we are very excited about. See you soon Philip and thanks for the kind words.

Best wishes.


Allan Medin asked:

Hello John! I just booked a cruise on the Carnival Breeze for 12/2/2012 (cabin# 11268) and was wondering if you will be aboard as cruise director? You are hilarious and I enjoy both your blog and Facebook. This will be my third cruise with Carnival and I hope to meet you sometime. Keep up the good work.



John says:
Hello Allan Medin,

Thanks for those kind words and my aim is to stay on the Carnival Breeze for that cruise and leave mid December. Now hopefully my plans will not change as they have this year and that will mean we can sail together. I certainly hope that is the case. Thanks for the kind words mate and I hope to see you next year.

Best wishes.


That’s all for today.

Here then is the latest piano bar entertainment schedule which I thank bearded Rob from our entertainment department for sending me.

  • Carnival Fantasy Hrvoje Knezevic 11/28/11
  • Carnival Inspiration Jafar Curry 12/03/11
  • Carnival Magic Ron Pass 12/04/11
  • Carnival Pride James Quigley 12/04/11
  • Carnival Valor Brad Alexander 12/11/11
  • Carnival Paradise Richard Yerkes 12/12/11
  • Carnival Spirit Keith Turner 01/06/12
  • Carnival Miracle Peter Brenner 01/13/12
  • Carnival Freedom Marty Gast 01/14/12
  • Carnival Splendor Jim Morris 01/15/12
  • Carnival Legend Pollyanna Jones 01/15/12
  • Carnival Victory Jerry Selix 01/22/12
  • Carnival Sensation Barry Miller 01/26/12
  • Carnival Destiny Robert Crucilla 02/20/12
  • Carnival Triumph Lorraine Ingle 02/23/12
  • Carnival Liberty Robert Berhalter 02/25/12
  • Carnival Glory Tom Riccio 02/26/12
  • Carnival Dream David Filsinger 03/03/12
  • Carnival Conquest Larry Maconaghy 03/04/12
  • Carnival Ecstasy Frank Glenn 03/22/12
  • Carnival Fascination Milburn Dumas 03/31/12
  • Carnival Imagination Dana Honey 04/02/12
  • Carnival Elation Tom Grable 05/05/12

The dates next to the names are the day they leave and I see a few new names there as well. I am sure the President of the Piano Bar Entertainers Association Laura AKA “Divetrash” will be able to tell me who the current favourites are and of course I thank all the piano bar players for their fantastic entertainment. If you have cruised with any of them recently and you have a comment to make please do so as your feedback is invaluable.

I was really hoping to post the new CD schedule today but as they say “The best laid plans of mice and men.” Or where I come from we say “Bugger, not another sodding delay.” Ummmm ………yes. This is because of a few factors. We have had to swap some people around because of situations that I can’t mention here as they are personal to the cruise directors involved. It does involve three ships and hopefully by the end of today Chris P who has done about 37 rewrites of the schedule will be able to send it to the CD’s and I can then post it to you. I can tell you that Kirk Benning had to leave the Carnival Dream on Saturday for personal reasons, nothing serious but I wish him well. He was due to go on vacation in two weeks time anyway and for the next two weeks his wonderful assistant Jaime will take over as CD and she will I am sure do a brilliant job as she has on other ships recently. Then on the 19th Gary Brierly will take over as CD on the Carnival Dream and he as you know is another rising star. So with many apologies to those who are waiting for the CD schedule, I hope to have it ready for you soon.

So, tomorrow my fat arse will be wedged inside a seat on an American Pringle Tube flight to Freeport. Yep, I have to fly and I am doing it three times in the next three days. There and back to Freeport and then on Friday to Houston. And as I hate flying in the same way I want to wait for Maroon 5’s lead singer Adam Levine to walk off the Galveston stage and lick his back clean. God I hate that American Eagle plane. There isn’t enough room for anyone with shoulders or legs, the seat belt would be tight on Kate sodding Moss’ waist and both times I have flown to Freeport the plane has been as bouncy as a small dog at dinner time.

However, I have to go, I need to go. I let so many people down by not being on the trans-Atlantic that it is absolutely the right thing to do.

Here is the letter the guests got heralding my arrival and trumpeting two other wonderful additions.

November 7, 2011

Greetings folks!

We hope you are enjoying your transatlantic cruise aboard the magical Carnival Magic.
I just need a moment of your time to provide you with some information regarding the next few days.

So, we thought we’d kick things up a notch on Wednesday and Thursday and treat you to the following:

• Complimentary round trip shuttle service to Port Lucaya Market Place
o 10:00AM to 5:00PM on Wednesday
o 9:00AM to 3:00PM on Thursday

• Hat Trick Casino will be open while in port on Wednesday from 7:00PM to 3:00AM

• The Fun Shops on board will be open for business

• Our Chef de Cuisine is preparing a special lobster dinner for you that will be served on Wednesday evening in the dining room

But wait! That’s not all. Drum roll please….our very own beloved Senior Cruise Director John Heald is flying in from Miami just to be with you. He will be hosting Wednesday evening’s shows in the Showtime Theater.

We hope you enjoy these extras just for you. Most importantly, we thank you for being part of this historical crossing of the Carnival Magic.

Captain Giovanni Cutugno

So the guests get free transportation to downtown which considering the fee is usually $10 per person I think that is a great add on for the guests. Indeed the ship has stores being transferred from another Carnival ship in Freeport tomorrow (Carnival Sensation I think) including lobster for everyone, a second time this voyage. Yep, Carnival is really trying to put its best foot forward ………..apart from my fat arse coach on American Sparrow obviously.

I wonder if the guests will be pleased to see me. James the CD has told me that there are a few who are a little grumpy. One group has been arguing amongst themselves in front of the captain who had attended their function and one lady I am told has said she will be “waiting for me on the gangway” as she has a list of comments she wants to give me. Oh joy. Regardless of all of this I hope most will enjoy seeing me as much as I am looking forward to seeing and for a while on stage entertaining them as well.

Talking of entertainment I have to tell you something that I am embarrassed to mention. But, we are all friends here and I think I can tell you anything, right?…..I hope so because I am really worried about what I have to tell you. So much so that it gave me a sleepless night and this morning I am seriously considering going to see a doctor……..I feel sick, I can’t eat and I have explosive diarrhea……….again. I am sure once I tell you this many will cancel their subscription here on the blog and by the end of the day I will have zero friends on Facebook. So I come before you with a heavy heart and a runny bottom to tell you that yesterday……..I …… please, please don’t hate me……………………….because I am here to admit that yesterday……..I watched………. Live: With Regis and Kelly.

It was an accident, honest it was. I was sitting in my hotel room, in my underpants and had the TV on. The news channels which I normally watch were going on about someone called Herman something who apparently is a Republican and has asked loads of women for rumpy pumpy and not as it is alleged in a very nice way.

Anyway, as Fox and CNN rattled on about this I flicked down a channel or 20 and suddenly saw my mate Regis and he was on with Robert De Niro who for some reason was kissing him and giving him flowers. As I wrote the blog and listened to what was happening my mind went back to 1996 and the Carnival Destiny and my one of two occasions where I met Mr Philbin.
Now as many but probably not all of you know, back in the 90′s Carnival’s spokesperson was the wonderful Kathie Lee Gifford. I met her on many occasions during new ship launches and I always found her to be warm and kind and even though she didn’t see me for many months between new vessels she always remembered my name……………I thought she was brilliant.
Then there was Regis. Now unfortunately my two memories of Regis were not so warm and wonderful. The first came when Kathie Lee Gifford was hosting a charity event on board the then world’s largest cruise ship the Carnival Destiny during her inaugural season in New York.

The evening started with a lavish dinner which the rich and tanned paid hundreds of dollars for with all proceeds going to Kathie’s charity for underprivileged and sick children. After dinner it was Showtime and Kathie was to perform along with Marvin Hamlisch, Clint Black and others. The evening started with me going out on stage and welcoming everyone and then introducing Kathie Lee and Regis who were going to sing the old classic “You say Potato……Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off.”

A few lines into the song we started to have a few ………….. ummmmmmmmmmm …………. technical issues with Regis’s microphone which started feeding back when he sang and high pitched whining noises started coming from the speaker that sounded like two cats having rumpy pumpy against an electric fence. It was pretty bad. It didn’t last very long, maybe a few lines of the song and while Kathie continued to smile and sing Regis stood on stage with a face that looked like someone had pissed in his cornflakes. Yep, he certainly did not hide his emotions, he was angry and Mr Arison, Donald Trump (yep the wigged one was there as well) and the rest of New York’s socialites knew he was bloody furious.

Well, being well heeled, the audience applauded and cheered at the end of the song and Kathie stayed on stage to continue the show. Unfortunately Mr. Philbin was not so forthcoming and as soon as he entered the backstage area he said a few words that rhymed with luck and hit and then in a final act of rage………..he threw his microphone at me. Luckily his aim was not good and the microphone just missed my head and crashed to the floor behind me ……………and that was that………he demanded to be shown off the ship and we didn’t see him again that night.
This had not been the first problem Mr. Philbin had encountered on board one of our ships. The first was on board the Carnival Sensation.

He was sailing with his wife and of course staying in the penthouse. Well, formal night (as we used to call it) came around and about 6:30 pm the Chief Purser Ron Ness was asked to go to the penthouse to see Mr.Philbin.

Arriving there Ron was asked by Mr. Philbin to help him on with his tuxedo which had just returned from the ship’s laundry. Ron thought this to be a rather strange request but as he was a huge celebrity and a guest of the company Ron had to comply. Mr. Philbin pointed toward his expensive designer tuxedo which was hanging in the closet, thinking that maybe he may have a bad back or something which is why he couldn’t put it on himself. Ron started to take the jacket off the coat hanger………..and there inlay the problem………he couldn’t ………. because unfortunately the laundry had pressed the jacket with the wire coat hanger still inside and had welded the thing onto it. I don’t think you need me to say what happened next.

By the way, the day after the microphone throwing feedback disaster, Regis went on his show and apologised to the millions of viewers about the state of his voice which was due to “the worst sound he had ever experienced and that the sound man must have been deaf.” Now that sound engineer was a young man called Adam who during the crossing had been given the nickname Creamy Head. Poor Creamy was devastated and a few months later he resigned. It wasn’t just because of the Regis thing, of course it wasn’t but it hadn’t helped.

I later saw that Regis went on to host “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” Thinking about it now as a 46 year old man I think I would have done things a little differently. When he threw the microphone at me I was a young and inexperienced cruise director who thought it was OK to be treated that way. But now when I look back I wish I had been brave enough to ask him to apologise. And I think if he had done that to me today, the ex host of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” may have to phone a friend……to pull the microphone which would have been sticking out of his bottom.

Anyway, as these thoughts came rushing back to me but as I watched Bobby De Niro, Joan Rivers and Matt Damon all pay homage to him on his retirement from the show, I realised that I was watching a man still entertaining, still making people laugh and still be loved by the public and doing so at the age of 80…………….I should be so lucky. Enjoy your retirement Regis.


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.