January 3, 2012 -

John Heald

So how did you spend New Year’s Eve? Mine was very different to the ones I remember both on the ship of which we will talk later and certainly different to the ones I spent in my late teens with my best mate Alan. I remember one very well, I think it was 1987. I remember this one because I had just broken up with my girlfriend, Lorraine. I remember Lorraine very well because she was the only girl that didn’t vomit at the sheer sight of me thus she was my only proper girlfriend. It had been a wonderful rumpy pumpy-fueled relationship which had lasted a blissful three weeks but on Christmas Eve Lorraine came to her senses and dumped me.

I was determined to party my way out of post break up depression and find another girl and somehow Alan and I got invited to a New Year’s Eve party and I was ready to go. We arrived to find lots of girls who by midnight would be drunk, have taken leave of their senses and would let me grope their bottoms while dancing to True by Spandau Ballet. However, I kind of accidentally drank pretty much a whole bottle of vodka by 9:30pm and passed out under our host’s kitchen table. I woke up at 3.30am, disoriented, to discover that the whole thing was over and my best mate Alan had left the party without me but not before taking my shoes and socks off and taking them with him. I then had to call a cab which took me home sockless, shoeless and embarrassingly with a wet patch on the crotch of my Levi’s.

Since then the best New Years Eve celebrations have been on the ships and I will be showing you some photos of what happened on some of our ships later. The one I will always remember will be the Millennium cruise on the Carnival Triumph. I remember the emergency meetings we had about Y2K and what we would do when the ship was plunged into darkness and the world came to an end. I remember that every single guest was on Lido and many were wearing grand costumes as we had advertised months in advance that the party would be a costume ball and many were dressed in elaborate gowns…….it was an incomparable night and Y2K went the same way as the world pandemic of bird flu and never happened. What a party that was. My Mum and Dad and sister and family were on board. So were golfers Nick Price and Lee Trevino. It was also memorable because a guest stuck their tongue down my throat. His name was Steve.

So fast forward to this past New Years Eve. Heidi and I decided that we should throw a New Year’s Eve party for some friends, the first time we have ever done this and it was oh so different to when I was young. I am told that it’s when you are in your mid-40s when parties become something you hate. It is also when the desire to have rumpy pumpy buggers off and from feeling happy and frisky all the time you feel like a sunken chocolate melting cake. Whoever said that was pretty much right. There we were, sat stiffly around an immaculately set table. Heidi had prepared something called “gourmet” which is a Dutch tradition where everyone is given a tray of raw meat and everyone cooks them on a grill thingy that sits in the middle of the table accompanied by garlic and other sauces. It is basically a meat fondue and is supposed to induce conversation why you wait for your meat to be cooked.

And as the night progressed I switched on the television. After what seemed like three years, Big Ben bonged 12. “Happy New Year,” we all said. Delicately, lest the glass should be damaged, we toasted the incoming year. Somebody said, “Well, this is a damn good bottle of whatever it was we were drinking.” Then somebody else said “Anybody got any New Year’s resolutions?” and they all looked at me, the fat bloke, expecting me to say I wanted to lose weight so my answer “to get Heidi to dress up as a naughty nurse” shocked them and resulted in the first bollocking of 2012 from my wife.

It was 12:20 am and I just wanted them all to bugger off home. Now let me tell you this. If you are ever in such a predicament where you are tired, you are bored and your wife is massively pissed off at you the take my advice…….stick some jazz on the music system. The sounds of Miles Davis had the desired effect on most of them and they all said what a brilliant time they had and left. But three of Heidi’s friends and husbands remained and when jazz doesn’t work, trust me, letting out some humongous garlic flavored fondue meat farts will.

Time for today’s Q and A… we go.

Dr. David Mensch asked:

Considering Carnival is a Jewish company, I was shocked and bitterly disappointed that there was no rabbi and no effort to hold a Jewish service for Rosh Hashanah on the Carnival Freedom. We live in Fort Lauderdale and have cruised many times with Royal Caribbean and they always provide their Jewish passengers with a rabbi and services on High Holy Days yet Carnival did nothing. You provide priests and ministers for Catholic and Christian passengers but not Jewish passengers. I demand you explain why as my letter to Mr. Arison has gone unanswered?

John says:
Hello Dr. David Mensch,

Thank you for taking the time to write to me so that I have the opportunity to apologise to you that Carnival does not have any programs for its guests regardless of their religious denomination. Now occasionally we may have a guest who is sailing who offers to hold a religious service be it Catholic, Jewish or interdenominational but for the vast majority of the year we do not have religious programs. I apologise that you found us lacking there and I do hope that when you look back on your cruise you will remember the fun times and the value for money vacation you had and I sincerely hope we will see you again soon.

Best wishes.


Bobbye Ghea asked:

I have heard a lot about the new loyalty program. I am one of the many that cannot afford to cruise near as often as I would like to, getting in about once or maybe twice a year. Took me 20+ years to convince hubby to cruise, so I got a late start. My cruise in January followed by the one in December would make my seventh cruise. I have never cruised less than a five-day cruise, otherwise the travel time makes it not worth it in all. I would love you to stay at the 10 cruise limit for platinum, even if you weed out the one-to four-day cruises (hopefully the five- and six-day cruises will still count). But please don’t put a dollar amount on it. I cannot afford, and many many others the high price rooms. I love to cruise, and would almost live on a cruise ship and visit home…

John says:
Hello Bobbye Ghea,

You know the fact that you have discovered cruising after 20 years of other vacations and have now completed seven cruises is testament that once you have taken a cruise other vacation choices pale in comparison. Thanks so very much for your loyalty and I promise the new loyalty program will be based on a simple formula that you will appreciate for sure. I understand totally that many can only afford to cruise now and then which is why we are determined to continue to provide the best and more importantly the most affordable and fun vacation in the world. Thank you for your loyalty and if there is anything I can do for you please let me know.

Best wishes.


Henry Bray Jr asked:

I have heard nothing but bad reports on a place that you won’t mention about Cruise Director Jen Baxter and as we are cruising with her in the New Year I wondered if you could settle my nerves and tell me she isn’t as bad as she is described.


John says:
Hello Henry Bray Jr.,

I know that Jen has a few people on the cruise boards that have sailed with her who wrote some pretty nasty stuff and of course that’s their opinion which they are entitled to express of course. It is though important to mention that for every negative there are many more positives. Now the main point that people mention is her voice over the public address system which they said they found annoying. I should explain that Jen is from Liverpool and has a very strong “scouse” accent and this may be what people are referring to. However I will say this. There is no more caring, passionate cruise director in the fleet and her desire to make sure that each and every guest has fun is unmatched. She is always out and around the vessel and loves to talk to the guests and all I ask is that you go on the Carnival Fascination with an open mind, ready to have fun and I have a feeling that you will be one of the many who count Jen as their favourite cruise director. Have a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes.


Macy asked:
Dear John,

Last May we cruised on the Celebrity Eclipse and they have a new beverage package system where specialty beverages, bottled water, soda and all alcohol are included. It was fantastic in that it made things so easy and also we didn’t have to worry about our bar bill at the end of the cruise because we had paid for the package up front. I really enjoy Carnival and I am hoping that your company will develop a similar all-inclusive beverage program. I was really hoping it would be a part of Carnival 2.0, but since it’s not, could you please pass this idea to the powers that be? Many thanks in advance for your attention to this suggestion.

John says:
Hello Macy,

Yes, I am aware that Celebrity is doing this but as you are aware Carnival currently does not offer such a program. However, I will pass along your comments to the appropriate folks here and I will also talking about this on Facebook later today.

Best wishes.


Terri Mullins asked:
Hi John,

I do not have a question or a request. I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy your blog and Facebook page. I have only sailed once and that was on the Carnival Fantasy May 2010. I was very excited when I found out you were going to be our CD that cruise. I had researched the heck out of cruising beforehand so therefore had kept up with your blog. But some last minute changes left Risa as CD, and even though you were on the ship I did not get to meet you. But I loved Risa and we had an absolutely incredible time.

And I cannot brag enough on Carnival and the experience we had. My husband and I work in the entertainment industry and really just wanted tons of relaxation, in which we got. In fact, after 14 years of marriage it was the most relaxed I have ever seen my husband. But at the same time if we wanted entertainment, we got it.

I broke my leg last year, so life was put on hold for awhile. But the husband and I are booked in February on the Carnival Paradise. I am once again glued to your blog and counting down the days until we are on the ship.

I suppose the main reason for me rambling on like this is just to let you know that among all the complainers and Debbie-Downers there are people who appreciate the information you pass on along with the entertainment you provide while doing it.

Good Job! And hopefully we will be on the same sailing again and I will get to meet you!

John says:
Hello Terri Mullins,

I am so sorry we didn’t get the chance to meet and I hope that following your accident that you are well on the road to recovery. It is always wonderful to read comments like this because every now and then it’s nice to know that people do appreciate what I do and comments like yours refuel me for the challenges ahead. Thanks so much and if there is anything I can do before you cruise again please let me know. I hope we meet one day soon.

Best wishes to you both.


Marsha Probert asked:

We are a lesbian couple and have a comment to make about our cruise. Until the second night of our cruise we had not met our room steward. We had taken off our tips as we prefer to give it to them in cash. So when we met him awe tipped him $10 and had fully expected to give him more at the end of the seven days. He was nice and left towel animals in our room almost nightly but on night four, we went to dinner but had to wait for a table so we went back to our room to use the restroom and freshen up as the restaurant was very busy. When we walked up our room steward was standing at our closet with the door open. He hurriedly closed the closet and stumbled to tell us that he was counting hangers for inspection. This left me feeling a bit violated and worried about what else he may be doing in our cabin. I complained at the front desk but nothing was done and we decided we didn’t want him in our cabin anymore and asked for a female room steward instead .This was a terrible incident and I feel disgusted that this happened.

John says:
Hello Marsha Probert,

Thanks for writing to me and I will have to look at your records as I have no idea what ship you sailed on. I can understand your concern but the stateroom steward was doing exactly what he said he was doing and checking to see if you had too few or too many hangers or was also likely cleaning the closet which is well within his job parameters.
I do hope you had a great time.

Best wishes.


Pia Nillson asked:

My family will be cruising together on the Carnival Splendor 2/1/12 and are celebrating our parents 45th wedding anniversary. They are very special people and as well, as raising me and my brother they have also provided foster care for 34 children many of who all put money in to pay for this cruise for them. Can you send them something please and if it is possible can they be upgraded to a suite. Thank you

John says:
Hello Pia Nillson,

You must be very proud of your Mum and Dad and how fantastic that the support and love they gave to so many children over the years is being rewarded b y a cruise on the Carnival Splendor. I am afraid I won’t be able to upgrade them but I will send them something for sure as a thank you for all they have done. I wish you all a brilliant time.

Best wishes.


That’s all for today…

If time allows I will talk about my new year’s resolutions later in the blog…….I will be writing one tomorrow and again on Thursday by the way. But one thing I want to cover now is my resolution to try and not let certain comments and questions get under my fingernails and set my three hemorrhoids flaring. Comments like this one which was posted to me yesterday. I moved it ahead of the rest of the many questions I have outstanding as it deserved to be answered. I think.

Here it is:

Esther Peck asked:

We just came back from a cruise on the Carnival Ecstasy where we missed the port of Freeport because of supposedly high winds. I have been told by someone else on the same cruise that a meteorologist was monitoring the weather and states that Carnival should have known and changed ports. Don’t captains or Carnival monitor the weather and do their best to request/adjust routes to steer clear of weather fronts wherever possible? Why keep heading into an area of bad weather? I am also told that the Costa ship did dock so why did we miss it? I seriously question Carnival’s decision not to give us the port we paid for and I can tell you I am not alone. Was the Costa captain braver than the Carnival Ecstasy captain? If that is true then Carnival owes me and the rest of the passengers’ compensation for the port of call we had booked to visit.

Esther Peck

John says:
Hello Ester Peck,

First of all I understand your frustration in missing a port. It’s never easy to accept when this happens but I can tell you these decisions are never made in haste and always made in the interest of guest safety. I know from personal experience that when we miss a port our guests wonder who makes the ultimate decision whether to dock or not. Being “brave” has absolutely nothing to do with it and there are many important considerations to be made. As to whose decision it is. Well, there is a two-part answer to this. If the port authority says the port is closed then that’s it, the end. However there are times when the port is open even in inclement weather so whose decision is it to dock or not? Well, some people think that it’s a beard in the Carnival office who decides and I am here to tell you that it is ultimately the captain’s decision. He will decide if the ship can dock safely and if he says it isn’t safe, then that’s it, the end.

Now if we miss a port then it is the beards who will see if a replacement port is possible but once those mooring lines are let go, it is the captain who has the ultimate responsibly for the vessel and those on board. The captain will always try and dock up until the moment his years of seagoing experience tell him not to. The bottom line is that the captain made his decision based on your safety Stefanie and to question his “bravery” is, quite simply, ludicrous. I have been at sea for 25 years and have learned to always trust the captain’s decision. I truly hope that you understand and I also hope that when you look back at your time on board you will realise that you had a great time. Please let me know if you have a follow up to this.

Best wishes


Was the captain of the Costa ship braver? Those are the sort of statements that I am determined in 2012 not to get the hairs on my arse standing on end.

This week I will be posting photos of how some of the ships celebrated New Year’s Eve which is one of the most exciting times to be on board. Today we feature the Carnival Splendor and here are the photos as taken by John Ruiz, the ship’s photo manager.

Fantastic and as you can see Todd and his staff throw quite a party with the lobby and the lido deck packed with guests having brilliant fun. What a way to welcome 2012. Wish you were there? Maybe next New Year’s Eve?

As I mentioned the start of the New Year means the dreaded New Year’s resolsoddinglutions. I hate them. I mean, why wait until the start of the year. I am full of praise for those people who make a resolution and then stick to it…….me……I never seem to be able to which is why I guess it’s easy for me to say that New Year’s resolutions are a load of bollocks and that way I don’t have to make any. However, things in the Heald household are a little different now with Kye being nearly three years old which is why I have been thinking hard about resolution or resolutions………..I need to make.

And they are:

  • I’ll give up smoking cigars.
  • I’ll take up exercise.

I never make resolutions. I always break them. The last one is the one I have always made. I won’t even try to hoist my fat, cigar smoking carcass off the sofa because I know I will fail. The trick therefore, surely, is to give up something achievable, even if it’s just a tiny little thing.
For example, I could give up emailing or texting people to say, “On our way. We’ll be there in 20 minutes,” when we were still at home, with Heidi madly looking for objects like she’s on a treasure hunt. This year I’m considering further improvements and I am not going to moan or complain at other Heidi-isms.

I shall also not tut when she says, just as I’m getting into bed, “Have you checked if the alarm is on?” I also resolve to get into bed first once a week. On that occasion, if she mentions the alarm, I shall be within my rights to say, “No, but I am already in bed so you can bloody well do it.”

I’m also going to immediately pinch beard’s nipple (male or female) really hard if they are caught saying “reach out.” I vote this to be my most annoying word of 2011 and while in 2010 it was used by only Carnival’s senior beards it is now such a virus that it has spread to everyone from Gerry Cahill to the mailroom and oh bugger me…….it’s on the ships now as well with cruise directors and hotel directors all saying that we should “reach out” to the guests. Look, let’s get this straight. You can reach out if you are one of the Four Tops, but if you use reach out as in you mean to call someone on the telephone I shall indeed twist your nipple until your breast picks up the BBC Worlds Service.

I am also going to refrain from posting dates on my Facebook page as in “there will be exciting news about something on whatever date.” I’m an idiot for doing so because when Carnival delays an announcement I look like an idiot and it gives huge dollops of fuel for Hugo and his girlfriends on other cruise web site to say “Look at the fat bastard saying there is news and then nothing happens.” And in a way I understand why they would be a little frustrated so when I know that news is coming, I shall just say the word “soon” rather than be date specific. By the way, there is some exciting news coming soon, very soon. The one date I don’t have yet even if I wanted to post it is the exact start and release dates for our brilliant new loyalty program which I know many are waiting for and I will let you know any more news on this as soon as I have it and tell you roughly I (not date specific) when it will be out.

However, as I said, Kye is nearly three and I want to spend at least another 40 years with her. So, I have to continue to try and lose more weight. This will help me in so many ways. I won’t need a seat belt extension on American sodding Eagle and it will give me a chance to see my thingy. While I was having my carpool tunnel surgery I asked Doctor Longfinger that I had problems seeing my thingy because of my stomach. “Why don’t you diet?” he asked. “What colour is it now?” I replied. Yep, I have to continue to lose weight as I would love to host the naming ceremony of the Carnival Breeze without doing fat jokes about myself.

You know I just had a thought that many of you, except those living in sunny places may agree with. Let’s move New Year’s resolutions to July? I mean, why do we do it in January? We have spent money we don’t have on presents, trees and plastic glowing Santas and have eaten the equivalent of a baby elephant. Yet up runs the New Year we must get fit resolution and tells us that you must put on your Nikes and summon up the determination that eludes you the other sodding 11 months of the year. And eat only lettuce for lunch. Drink three liters of water. While jogging. When it’s minus 10 bloody degrees outside. What a load of bollocks.

Cold weather promotes sitting by the fire eating a hearty plate of dead animal not running around the icy streets in weather so cold it shrinks your thingy down to the size of a baby carrot. So let’s say bollocks to the New Year’s resolutions and join me in mid-year resolutions when the sun will shine, encouraging us to put on our tight jogging shorts exercise. This will be followed by a crisp salad in the shade for lunch. Those in favour say “Yes John” and join me in protesting New Year’s resolutions by eating a huge bucket of KFC.


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.