May 9, 2012 -

John Heald

Stephen James Caulker asked:

Heald: Urgent!!! On my cruise on Carnival Magic there were no workers checking IDs to get into the Serenity area and I know for a fact that there was a family who was next to me who had a son who was 19 and you said in today’s blog the minimum age to get into Serenity was 21. I know he was 19 because they were talking about what he wanted for his 19th birthday. There must be deck boys checking the ID of all the passengers so that it is 21 which is what you said in your overinflated blog today!!! The sign should say “Teens not allowed!”

So good morning, everyone, and I moved this comment to the top of the blog for two reasons. One, because it is an important subject and two, because its 6:30 am here in Italy and I am really tired and couldn’t think of anything else to write about. So, Mr. Caulker is correct, the minimum age for the Serenity area is 21 and again I am answering this question which was posted on April 4 so I guess he is referring to an “overinflated blog” I wrote some weeks ago.

Two weeks ago, the beards gathered to talk about everyone’s favourite subject — Lido Deck chair saving. The beards came up with some excellent ideas and all agreed that something must be done and decided to reconvene at the end of this week for a follow up. The Serenity area will be a focus regarding seat saving for sure but, suffice to say, we won’t have the staff standing at the entrances checking IDs. If they see a child there, they will ask them to leave, that they have now been empowered to do and in the days ahead, a new seat saving policy will also be enforced.

I don’t think we should allow children into the Serenity area and for the most part we don’t. Yes, occasionally a kid will pop up there to see Mum and Dad which is fine, of course. Granted, there are some kids in their late teens who are well behaved and obviously some who are not. I certainly don’t pretend to understand today’s teenagers but there are some who are certainly different from when I was 18. I used to take the bus to college and would always stand and let an older person take my seat. This rarely happens anymore as far as I can tell, I think, and I am sure if I were to get on a bus in the UK, America, Canada or wherever you’re from, I would see an 18-year-old strapped to his Eyepod, sitting in his seat and texting while a 70-year-old grandmother has to stand and be catapulted to the other end of the bus like one of those Angry Birds each time it brakes.

But are they any worse than the cocktail slurpers or the guests who have come straight from their stateroom without showering and smell like a suburb of Paris? How about the snorers who end up on the sun bed next to you, drooling on themselves and snoring so loudly it feels like the captain just turned the thrusters on?

Anyway, we are working hard on seat saving and we will continue not to allow kids into Serenity areas and are working on making sure that the age restrictions are followed.

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

Dan Walden asked:

Is there any way to get my son a tour of the bridge on the 6/22 Carnival Inspiration cruise without paying the cost of your Behind the Fun tour. Andrew is a member of the Naval Sea Cadets Corps and at 14 years old has already expressed a desire to be at sea for his career. I know other cruise lines allow sea cadets access to the bridge and I hope Carnival will not let me down here as one day Andrew will be at sea serving his country protecting your passengers’ freedom.

John says:
Hello Dan Walden,

Many congratulations to your son and I am sure you are already proud of the path he wishes to follow. Unfortunately, I cannot waive the fee for the Behind the Fun tour or allow private access to the bridge as we follow very strict rules in this regard. I will send a note to the captain though and ask that maybe Andrew can have a photo with him and answer a question or two and I wish you all a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes.


Richard Taylor asked:

The US Carnival website is shouting about “Early Saver” fares where price reductions and on board spend increases are passed on to cruisers who booked before these events. My travel agent here in the UK (co-op) is saying it doesn’t apply to my booking. Could you get the beards to clarify the UK situation, please? Why would my booking be called “Early Saver” if there were no similar benefits?

Thanks, mate.

John says:
Hello Richard Taylor,

Please allow me to apologise for the delay in answering this and I am aware of some shortfalls in the current UK website and I am pleased to tell you that a new dedicated website for our UK guests will soon be here. Meanwhile I have sent this to our UK office and I am sure they will be able to contact you and explain and assist you. Please let me know if there is anything I can do.

Best wishes.


Rose Howse asked:

I don’t know why Carnival even bothers to publish a dress-code for dining as it is NOT enforced. It is absolutely disgusting to have passengers, especially obese ones eating in the Lido area without shirts on. Yes, they come in from the pool area, but Carnival should have someone turn them away at the door unless they put a shirt on. There is nothing worse than seeing obese people standing at the buffet lines. There are outside food venues like the hamburger/hot dog grill, tandoori grill, deli, and pizza that they don’t have to wear shirts. But in the indoor seating area? Seriously???

John says:
Hello Rose Howse,

Well, as a fat chap myself, I certainly would never want anyone to see me shirtless reaching for a piece of fried chicken. However, while I agree with you I must say that this comment comes across as being a bit unfair to those of us who are large. Are you saying that if they have a six pack and a body of a Greek God that it’s OK and it’s just the fat ones who should be made to cover up their bodies? I hope not. I do agree that we should not allow guests to have no shirts on inside the Lido restaurant and for the most part guests do cover up and I will send this to the CD’s to ask them to mention it in the Fun Yimes. I hope you had a great cruise.

Best wishes,

John ………..writing this topless.

Lisa May asked:

Hi John,

My husband and I have sailed on Carnival around five times, yet we never get perks, upgrades etc. I hear people referring to platinum status, how do you get in on this? I hope to meet you on the March 17 cruise. I just learned about your blogs and they are nice to read…

John says:
Hello Lisa May,

Welcome to the blog and I hope you are enjoying them. Platinum status means that you have cruised 10 times or more with Carnival although the new loyalty program which reverts to the number of days sailed. Upgrades happen rarely and are based on many different formulas depending on the ship, the cruise and what staterooms are available. I hope one day you get an upgrade and I thank you for your loyalty and hope one day you get to your platinum status

Best wishes,


Simon and Grace Bradman asked:

We were very nervous taking our cruise because it was our first Carnival cruise and we had read so many bad reviews on other sites about the food. I am a picky eater and most of the food even in the buffet was excellent. I never went hungry though so they were doing something right! We had anytime dining which was great but there was a 30 minute wait on the formal night. The best food we have every eaten was had in the Nouveau steakhouse. So worth the money!

John says:
Hello Simon and Grace Bradman,

I am so very glad that you had such a great time and enjoyed our wonderful food and I will pass this on to the ship which I think from your mention of the Nouveau steakhouse is the Carnival Spirit. Online reviews are very useful but it’s always good to go on the ship with an open mind remembering that reviews are based on personal opinion. I am glad therefore that your opinion is that the food was excellent.

Best wishes to you both.


Milly May asked:

My husband and I will be celebrating 50 years of marriage with you on the Carnival Breeze’s first cruise from Venice, Italy. I have always wanted to go in a gondola but am worried that with my bad knees I won’t be able to get in it. Tell me if you can, John, what you think for me to try this, please.

John says:

Hello Milly May,

First of all, many congratulations on your 50 years of marriage and I will do everything I can to make this a very special cruise indeed. The step down into the boat is very easy and there will be a strong Gondolier to help you in and out and so I would say yes, absolutely you should do this as it’s something you have always wanted to enjoy. Have a great time and I will see you on board

Best wishes and see you soon.


Rhonda Kight asked:

We are taking granddaughters two teenage girls on the Carnival Magic July 22. They wanted me to ask if you are going to be CD on that cruise. We’ve been reading your blogs, they love you said feel like they know you.

John says:
Hello Rhonda Kight,

The CD will be Butch Begovitch who will have just returned from the Carnival Breeze. I am so very sorry I can’t be with you but you will love Butch and his incomparable energy. I send my best wishes to you and all the family and I hope one day to sail with you.

Best wishes


Jewels of Da Sea asked:

There seems to be a problem with Carnival’s number one dessert — warm chocolate melting cake……..I have heard this from other cruisers many times and have also experienced it myself on many cruises. The way it is made is inconsistent – one night it’s goopy and runny, and sometimes baked the right way with a cake like top and then chocolate sauce under the cake. When I get it baked the wrong way I tell the maitre d and ask him to talk to the chef. Then the next few nights are fine. This is something all ship’s chefs should be aware of. Striving to keep the chocolate melting cake the award winner that it is.

John says:
Hello Jewels of Da Sea,

So noted. I will make sure that I send this to our fleet executive chef. We will make a note of your comments as we want you to continue to enjoy the best and most popular dessert at sea.

Best wishes,


Ian Reading asked:

Please can you tell me how often the lifeboats on your ships are actually put in the water as it seems to me the only time this happens is in an emergency which isn’t enough is it!!!

John says:
Hello Ian Reading,

Thanks for taking the time to write. The lifeboats are lowered to the water and spend time circling the ship every month during our monthly full crew only evacuation and emergency drills. Each ship has a dedicated lifeboat maintenance crew who spend each day working on the engines, cleaning and testing the boats so I am glad to say that God forbid we should ever need to use them…………they will be ready.

Best wishes.


Robert Durao asked:


Please can you tell the beards that the two bartenders at The Alchemy Bar on Carnival Liberty are incredible and should be given a raise. I don’t know if it’s all the alcohol we consumed or the fact that I am now 65 and my memory is shot but I can’t remember their names just that they were fantastic and we spent many wonderful evenings in their company.

Thanks John.

John says:
Hello Robert Durao,

This is a fantastic post and I am so happy you enjoyed these two wonderful people who will indeed be thrilled when they see this. I am not sure who is there now and don’t want to write their names in case it’s not them but if it’s who I think it is I know they are indeed brilliant. Thanks for taking the time to write and I hope we see you soon on another Carnival cruise.

Best wishes.


Victor Buskirk asked:

Can you tell me who the comedians will be for the five-day cruise on Carnival Triumph May 26. I have asked Carnival’s help desk but they told me to come here so can you tell me as I am frustrated by the lack of help I have gotten!!!!

John says:
Hello Victor Buskirk,

The help desk does not have access to the movement of our fly-on entertainers as I do which is why they could not answer you. I am glad you asked me though and that I am able to give you the answer before you sail. You will have Chad Elsner and Tim Young both of whom I know you will find very funny indeed. Have a great cruise.

Best wishes.


And that’s all for today. Yesterday I discussed the remaining cruise director schedule with Chris Prideaux who has been working on which CD’s will be going where and when. First of all, one just wanted to acknowledge one our longstanding cruise directors Trevor Block who has left the company and I wish him well in his future endeavors and I also wanted to let you know that we have decided to add the cruise directors to the core service teams. I already wrote in the blog some months ago how the three major figures on board, the captain, the chief engineer and the hotel director are now assigned together on the same ship for at least two years to provide much needed stability for that vessel. Well, now we have the cruise directors added to these teams so we are finalising which ships they will go to in order to become part of that team.

One change already decided is that next week Wee Jimmy will leave the Carnival Paradise and head to the Carnival Sensation. Carnival Paradise will have the lovely Laura Sparkles as CD for a few weeks before the incomparable Steve Cassel takes over as CD where he will, of course, continue to be the star of the brilliant Extreme Country show which showcases his fabulous fiddle playing. Anyway, I will have the full schedule ASAP. Now talking of cruise directors, I wanted to highlight one today and I thought you should have a read about a CD that is very much in focus at the moment due to the Carnival Spirit’s pending journey to Australia.

Here then is CD extraordinaire Mr. Stuart Dunn:

As cruise director now for eight years and having been on many Carnival ships over the years I would have to say that the last couple of years have been the best. I have been on the Carnival Spirit since October 2009 which currently sails the Mexican Riviera, Hawaii and the ultimate itinerary, Alaska, every summer. Well that is all about to change, as I am incredibly lucky to be doing a first for Carnival Cruise Lines, sailing the Carnival Spirit to Sydney, Australia, October 2012. Sydney is my home and I will be able to welcome Australian guests on board just as I have done for many North American guests over the years. With time and age, I feel a greater desire to learn more about my own country’s geography, history and culture, and as I do I will be sharing my passion for cruising with the people of Australia. I could not be any happier.

Thanks, Stuart, and we all look forward to hearing more from you when the ship heads down under and thanks for all the brilliant work.

So more and more Carnival crew are arriving in Italy and the move on day for the crew remains the 11th and all of us who have been living in hotels are looking forward to that very much. The cast are rehearsing the shows and the Hasbro team is battling for time in the lounge and Ken and his dining team are slowly beginning to arrive. I am waiting for confirmation on the 12-day cruise menus which are being finalised and some changes are being made. I know many who are cruising here want to see them and I will post them as soon as I have them. Work is in progress and as usual it will be a mad dash over the finishing line which is May 29, delivery day, but as always we will make it and the ship will be ready for you all. Once on board and once the areas are ready I promise to post photos galore.

I booked myself a ticket back to the UK today, just for an overnight trip but I promised myself and my family that I wouldn’t miss another of my daughter’s birthdays and I am going to live up to that promise. Kye’s birthday is on the 15th but she has her birthday party on Saturday the 19th and so on Friday the 18th I will take a flight home and return on Sunday morning and I should add a huge thank you to the beards for allowing me to do this.

Obviously, it is important for me to be here but I have Butch to cover for the 48 hours I will be away and so far everything is on schedule. I have missed Kye’s 1st and 2nd birthday because of my commitments as cruise director and brand ambassador and as I said, I promised that I would not miss anymore.

The one downside to all of this is the fact that I have to fly on Ryan Air which, as some of you may know, make other low cost airlines look like Rolls Royce’s I believe that flying Ryan Air was the good Lord’s way of deterring everyone but the most determined traveler from ever setting foot on a plane. Those who have not been killed en route by thrombosis or poisoned by what they refer to as “food,” emerge at the end looking and feeling like the unlikely offspring of Calvyn and Judge Judy. Just once, I would like to experience first class with soft sheets, fine wines, exotic nuts and a good chance of sitting next to Megan Fox. But I’ve discovered that economy class was merely purgatory, no more than a waiting room for the true hell of flying: Ryan Air where the only nuts I will be served will be crushed ones…….. mine……..as I try and fit into a seat designed for Snow White’s seven best friends. Anyway……..get this. A return flight to Trieste, Italy, costs 34 pounds. Let’s break it down, shall we?

Adult: 34 GBP
Online Check-In: 10.00 GBP + Taxes
Fees: 31.77 GBP
Total Price: 75.77 GBP

Fees….what fees? I was the one who sat here in my hotel in Italy in my underpants using the Europalace’s internet and electricity………so what fees………..fees my arse. They also charge for food on board and for a “priority” boarding pass, which gives lucky holders the opportunity to take part in a “priority” scramble for seats, which — presumably through sheer spite — are unallocated……..which means I will be jockeying for position with old Mama Isabella, an-87-year old from Trieste, for that converted row one with the extra room……..Watch out mama….the fat man’s coming.


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.