February 1, 2012 -

John Heald

I love basketball but honestly I put baseball into the same category as synchronised swimming and find it as exciting as watching paint dry. But having been here in Philly the day after the team whose name I can’t remember won the baseball world championship and being around the restaurants here it seems that baseball is still the subject of mass conversation. The other thing that they talk about is the Philly cheese steak sandwich and who serves the best.

It seems that nothing short of their baseball team makes a Philadelphian more proud than a Philly cheese steak and being inquisitive and being fat and because I am staying in a hotel that is as manly as Calvyn’s underpants and serves hummus and drizzled peacock for dinner, I have taken it upon myself to try as many of these buggers as I can. Its guess it’s not a complicated thing to make. It’s a long stick of bread filled with slices of what my Mum would call beef brisket. You then add loads of cheese and if you don’t mind an arse like a chewed orange the next morning ……loads and loads and loads of onions.

Now it’s not the sandwich itself that people argue about but it is who serves the best. Indeed I asked this question on my Facebook page a few days ago and it caused much fervent discussion. The two names that kept coming up were Pat’s and Geno’s and so I went to both, purely for research purposes you understand.

I thought these two establishments would be…..well…….lavish and as trendy as the glowing blue toilet in my hotel room. Not! They are two very basic establishments that have been facing off against each other like two Wild West gunfighters since the 1960s. A local Phiilyperson told me that they stay open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to make sure that one doesn’t sell more calorie-bursting, greasy, and tasty sandwiches than the other. I felt that it was required, as my role Carnival’s Brand Ambassador, to be diplomatic and visit both. One of the people who run the Scenery First operation here in Philadelphia told me that I had to do the “Philly lean” which is where you try to position your body so it’s clear of any bits of beef, cheese or onions dripping on your shirt and that walking around with a cheese steak stain on your shirt was considered by the locals as taboo as walking around with your gentleman’s sausage hanging out.

So which one was best? Well considering both Pat and Geno’s may be owned by Irish and Italian …. ummmmm……“families”…….I have no intention of saying. I don’t want to wake up with a horse’s head in my bed and a cheese steak sandwich with extra onions shoved up my bottom. So I will say ……..they were both brilliant but I wonder if Guy Fieri could make an even better one?

Time for today’s Q and A……away we go.

Terri Kerr asked:

I heard that Kevin Fowler would be doing a theme cruise in August of 2012. Is this true?

John says:
Hello Terri Karr,

Yes he is mate. Click here for information on it.

Best wishes and yeeeeehhhhhaaaaaaaaaa!!!


John Byrd asked:

We have cruised with carnival once or twice in the past few years until we received the PLATINUM VIP level. We just got off of the Carnival Conquest Nov. 12. This was the worst ever of getting off of a ship. They told us at the guest service desk that we could leave bags outside of rooms and that we would get off early and with no problems. Well we were the second people to get off and then waited over an hour and a half to get bags. This is not the way I think Carnival would want the general public to know how they treat their VIP guest. We feel like that we should have been told we would have to stand and wait on bags if we did not carry them off with us. This may have been our last trip with Carnival. Nobody would put their bags out knowing they would have wait on them and stand in line and watch all of the ships passengers unload before you. I would like to know how you feel about this.


John says:
Hello John Byrd,

I am very sorry this happened, I really am. We do give very specific instructions on the TV and in writing that the self assist guests go first and then Platinum and VIP guests who have left their own luggage outside their cabins will leave after the self assist guests. I think there may have been some misunderstanding and that we need to make this far clearer than we did on the ship. I can only apologise for this and hope that you will look back at what fun you had and despite this last concern that we will see you again very soon.

Best wishes.


Luke Pizzaro asked:

I am not one of your cheerleaders nor will I ever be but I do need a favor from you as it seems the norm for people to beg. So under the premise if you can’t beat them join them can I have a gift for me and my wife. We sail on the Carnival Magic on 2.3.12 in cabin 7319. It’s our 12th wedding anniversary

John says:
Hello Luke Pizzaro,

I will be there with you on the ship as CD and I will be very happy to send you something to wish you a great cruise and a very happy anniversary.

Best wishes.


Sutile asked:

I’m cruising on the Carnival Miracle on Feb. 6 and would like to know who the comedians will be. We cruised on Fantasy last year and both comedians were the worst we have ever seen on our two cruises with you guys and we are hoping that this time the comedians will at least be funny. The comedians only talked about sex and used the F-bomb all the time. Who is it this time?

John says:
Hello Sutile,

I am very sorry to know you did not appreciate the comedians last time you sailed although I think I should point out that the shows you described were from the uncensored adult show that is well advertised as such. This time you have some great comedians including two of our very best in Eddie Capone and Percy Crews who will feature family and adult shows at the Punchliner comedy club. I hope you enjoy their shows and that you have a great cruise.

Best wishes.


Angie and Neil Thorla asked:

We recently completed our cruise on the Carnival Dream – number 16 with Carnival. After this many cruises, we did not expect to find anything to really impress us. We were wrong. CD Kirk and ACD Jaime were fantastic. Their morning show was better than Regis and Kelly, and we know how much you admire Regis! On many past cruises, the CD’s appeared to be reading from the same Carnival script. While Kirk basically followed the script, his delivery was natural and appeared unscripted. Kirk was probably not at the top of his game due to pain from a recent shoulder injury, but being the veteran he is, it did not show. (You need to pay closer attention to the captain’s daily safety message Kirk.)

We just can’t say enough about Jaime. If we were not aware that Kirk and Jaime operate as a team, we would be baffled as to why she still has the word “assistant” in her title. Jaime is one of the unique individuals like you, John, who derives great pleasure in helping others find enjoyment. We had three occasions to have brief conversations with her. While we’re sure that she had more pressing things to do, she made us feel as if talking with us was the most important item on her agenda. If you ever need an Assistant Brand Ambassador, Jaime is the perfect candidate.

We are a couple of old fogies who are skeptical of FB, so we do not know how to contact Kirk and Jaime. Would you please pass this on to them to let them know that their good work is recognized and appreciated?

Best regards,

Angie and Neil Thorla

John says:
Hello Angie and Neil Thorla,

What a brilliant post and thanks so much for taking the time to write. I know that Facebook is not for everyone which is why I think it’s vital that I keep lines of communication open here on the blog. Jamie and Kirk are brilliant and you described them perfectly and we know what a huge asset both are to Carnival. I will be passing on your thanks to them and also let the beards see this as well. I hope we see you again very soon.

Best wishes to you both.


Oladapo Ayodele asked:
Hi John,

I hope you are well. My name is Dapo. I’m a fourth year university student from Canada. I have a specific question for you. Before I ask, I will like to tell you a little bit of by situation. I am majoring in biological sciences at the University of Lightbridge. I will be writing the MCAT next summer as I intend to apply to medical school next summer. Starting in January, I intend to take a few months off school so I can work and study for my MCAT. I am thinking of applying to a Carnival Cruise Lines. Since I know you are the “king” player in this game. I would like to know what you think about this. I don’t know if working on a cruise ship is what will benefit me. You might be asking yourself why I am taking time off school. It’s because if I stay in school and graduate in May, I will have nothing to do until September 2013 when I get into med-school. I want to defer my graduation from May 2012 till May 2013. I want to be fresh for med-school if I get accepted in 2013. I would like to know what you think about this please. Secondly, I have not worked a lot in the hospitality field. I have worked various jobs during the summers. I have worked in positions ranging from housekeeping to construction to sales etc. If I decide to work on a cruise line, are there positions where I will have time (a few hours) a day to myself to study. Please let me know what you think. I need to make decisions as soon as possible.

Have a Good Day.

John says:
Hello Oladapo Ayodele,

I wanted to wish you much success in your continuing education and your career path. While we don’t offer an intern program I do encourage you to check our and see if there is anything there you can see yourself doing. I hope there is.

Best wishes.


Jen Reynolds asked:
Hi John,

My parents, three children and I just returned from cruising on the Carnival Victory to celebrate my daughter’s 16th birthday. This was what she wanted to do and where she wanted to go, having been on the same cruise in March 2010. For my parents, it was their first experience cruising, and I have to say, we had a fantastic time! Our wait staff and bar waitress in the Atlantic Dining room were phenomenal. My four-year old also cruised with us and the wait staff and hostesses treated her like a princess, which she loved! They made napkin bunnies, lobsters, and swans, and brought her extra French fries every night. The one night we didn’t go to dinner because she was very cranky, they commented on how much they missed us the next night. And if we saw them during the day at the buffet, they made her feel so special because they singled her out. So I want to acknowledge them publicly and ask that you tell the “higher ups” how wonderful they all were. Agapita, Panitan, and Sukhadin (I’m sure the spellings are all wrong, but they were from the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia, respectively). We sat at table 300 in the Atlantic Dining room for dinner. Our bar waitress, Natalya from Russia, was just as lovely and attentive, and she even put up with my dad’s long-winded stories. We had ordered a cake for my daughter’s sweet 16 and of course they delivered it and sang loudly to embarrass her, which we loved. I can only hope we are able to meet up with all of them again sometime soon because they provided such good customer service that I don’t think any place we go here in the States will ever measure up. I wanted to make sure I found a way to publicly acknowledge them because we didn’t get any comment cards or any other way to let their supervisors know before we left. Obviously, we did show our appreciation to their superb service monetarily 🙂

The only small, disagreeable part of the cruise was the fact that in the level 8 hallways, mid-ship, it really smelled like lavatories. I don’t know why, and it was only mid-ship on the even- numbered cabin sides, but when we walked through there, we had to hold our breath.

Otherwise, the whole trip was wonderful and the room stewards were also fantastic and helpful – Edzell and his assistant, who unfortunately I can’t remember. And my 14-year old and 16-year old were completely entertained with the two clubs for teenagers. This is my third cruise out of San Juan with Carnival to the Southern Caribbean and I hope to continue doing so. Keep up the excellent work!

Jen Reynolds

John says:
Hello Jen Reynolds,

Thanks so much for this great review. I can see that so many crew members made this a wonderful time for you and they will be thrilled that you have taken the time to write about them. The crew you mentioned are shining examples and I am so proud of them. I promise the problem with the odor you smelt has been addressed and my apologies for this happening. I hope you and the family had so much fun and that you will be back with us again very soon.

Best wishes to all.


Norm Vanraman asked:

Will Carnival be sending another ship to New York as we have an old ship in Carnival Miracle. We deserve better than this rust bucket.

John says:
Hello Norm Vanraman,

I would hardly call the Carnival Miracle an old ship Norm and she has proven to be a very popular ship and the New Yorkers are loving her.

Best wishes.


That’s all for today and many thanks for your continuing support of the blog. I know I am not posting as regularly as normal but once back on the ship I will of course return to a minimum of three blogs a week.

Let’s take a break and while I learn how to play the Hasbro Game Sorry Sliders I will leave you with some stunning photos from Mr. Radu of the Carnival Pride.

Thank you Mr Radu for once again for sharing your amazing skills with us. I may have mentioned this before and apologies if I have but Mr. Radu will be holding a seminar exclusively for those signed up on Bloggers Cruise 5 and I hope we can persuade him to do this each week on whatever ship he is on.

OK, time to move to the piano bar. I have mentioned that we will have some exciting news regarding this and it’s almost ready to be told. I can tell you that we are really focusing on these brilliant and fun bars and our intention is to make them even more fun and exciting by supporting the piano bar players that entertain there. So look out for more news on this very soon and until then let’s see who will be playing in the piano bar on the ship you will be sailing on. The dates listed next to the names are the dates the performers will be leaving the ship.

Carnival Freedom Doug Ross 02/19/12
Carnival Destiny Robert Crucilla 02/20/12
Carnival Triumph Lorraine Ingle 02/23/12
Carnival Splendor Ron Passalacqua 02/26/12
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 Liberty Robert Berhalter 04/28/12
Carnival Fantasy Jordan Heppner 05/04/12
Carnival Elation Tom Grable 05/05/12
Carnival Victory James Morris 05/20/12
Carnival Magic Jerone Howard 06/03/12
Carnival Inspiration Seth Gibson 06/04/12
Carnival Paradise Del Woodman 06/11/12
Carnival Valor Brad Alexander 06/17/12
Carnival Pride Roger Concepcion 06/27/12
Carnival Legend Alan Brown 07/15/12
Carnival Spirit Keith Turner 07/17/12
Carnival Miracle Brennan Villines 07/25/12
Carnival Sensation Currently in Drydock

Thanks as always to these great performers for all they do and to Laura aka Divetrash for looking after them and for the fan club she runs. If anyone deserves a fan club it’s the piano bar entertainers. I look forward to working with Ron Pass on BC5 and on the Carnival Breeze.

I want to apologise to those guests who were expecting to see me on the Carnival Magic this week and I was really disappointed that I could not join the ship, not just to meet them but also because I was looking forward to being a CD again. And there is another change as well because this morning the beards asked me to fly to London to look at some British comedians for our upcoming Carnival Breeze cruises this summer. Let me explain why. Carnival has created a lot of interest and excitement in the UK and certainly last year on Carnival Magic and it seems that during the height of the summer when Brits take their vacation that we have high counts again of my fellow UK citizens. They love the product, they love the food the fun and they definitely love mixing with our North American friends and I think it’s fair to say that the North Americans love mixing with the Brits, right? Anyway, the one thing that we did find was a challenge was the Punchliner Comedy Club. And while the Americans and Canadians laughed out loud, the British guests sat there with faces like an Amish chap at Radio Shack.

You see, comedy about American sports, the Deep South and other specific subjects went over with our British guests like a fart in church. Now we are not canceling our American comedians, they will remain. What we are doing though is adding to the program and hiring some British comedians who mid-cruise will host a British night in the comedy club. So, the beards have hastily set up some auditions for me to attend and that’s my arse, in coach, flying to London.

My schedule now looks like this:


So, I am going to be knackered ( but it’s important that I do this although again I apologise to those I am letting down and I continue to look forward to being a cruise director once again.

What is the difference between American and British comedy? I honestly don’t know the answer to that. Obviously material is one thing because while Brits might not understand and laugh about a joke about rednecks and while Americans might not laugh at a joke about the Scottish, most will laugh at jokes about a man getting his thingy caught in his zipper or a huge pair of pendulous breasts and indeed the suction toilets on the ships. There is though a difference between British and American sitcoms. The British sitcoms are all about failure and Americans about success and so few translate across the ocean. “Friends” is the most popular imported sitcom in the UK but ask a Brit to name five American sitcoms most would struggle. The two I remember growing up were Benson and Soap but I have to admit, I am not a fan of most of the American sitcoms. I am sitting next to an American right now here in Philly and I asked him to name five British sitcoms. His answer was Monty Python and…..ummmm…..ummmmm……. So let’s see if the Americans who come to the British comedians’ sets on the Carnival Breeze will laugh? I am sure they will because the word “arse” said in a posh British accent is after all ……… hilarious.

OK, I have to go because the Game Show rehearsals are ongoing and tomorrow I have approx 50 of my Facebook and blogging friends joining me. I just read that Madonna is providing the half time entertainment at the Super Bowl…….God, PLEASE let this year bring us another wardrobe malfunction! I’ll convert to whatever you want me to believe, promise!


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.