The Grey Man

July 9, 2012 -

John Heald

I rarely pay attention to what other people are reading but over the last few days here on Carnival Breeze I have noticed a pehenomonan………a fernoman………..a phernoma………..something is very, very popular here and it all started with this comment from a guest.

Sent: Tuesday, July 03, 2012 10:59 AM

Good morning John

Just FYI, cabin ________ Mrs.________ came to the desk to say that she was unhappy that we did not have current book titles in the Library. Mrs.______ was looking for Fifty Shades of Grey which she says is the number one book at this time. Guest also said the books were not enough titles. Thank you and best regards.

Guest Services Supervisor, Carnival Breeze
Carnival Cruise Lines

OK, let’s start with the last part. We have a wonderful library here, the best in the fleet and in fact, it is called and branded as the Library Bar. Each time I have walked past the Library Bar at night I have seen the wonderfully pleasing site of guests sitting, engrossed in a good book and enjoying a glass of wine. Then the books. Here we have 800 fiction books and 100 nonfiction and they were chosen and shipped to me by the beards when the ship was still in the yard. These books will stay here with us and occasionally we will get new books sent to us. The Library is open from 9 am – 10 pm each day and, as I said, I think it’s the best library in the fleet.

So, back to this lady’s request for a book called 50 Shades of Grey. I read books. They are about explosions and SAS and Delta Force commandos shooting terrorists in the face and so I have no clue about this 50 Shades book. But apparently I am the only bugger who doesn’t know about this book because it appears everyone else does. Or should I say everyone with breasts is reading this book. I casually asked my staff about this and two of the entertainment staff are reading it and I am told that if I were to walk Promenade deck, that I would see ladies reading it the old- fashioned way by turning its pages and the new way on their Kindlethingies.

OK fair one. The book is popular, so what, no big deal, right? It was only when I began to learn from my staff and learn from Uncle Google that Fifty Shades of Grey is in fact a sodding soft pornographic book or as Uncle Google told me, so it’s called “Mummy Porn”…….oh FFS! So I borrowed a copy from Taylor who is one of the entertainment staff here and in the name of research for you bloggers, you understand, I had a flick through its pages. And bugger me it is indeed page after page of naughty stuff — in fact, it’s one big rumpy pumpy fest! So what makes this book any different to other books full of smut? Well, the big deal is apparently that it was written by a woman, is bought by women and is being constantly discussed by women. Peering inside I see that the hero is someone called Christian Grey who is of course gorgeous, chiseled with a six pack and perfect teeth and hair. His voice is warm and sensuous as a chocolate melting cake. He is rich and powerful and drives a Ferrari and will only wear Armani. What a wanker!

He also has of course an XXXL gentleman’s sausage, which is pointless. Why even bother saying that in the book. All the readers know he was going to be hung like a Mongolian yak. It’s not like he was going to pull down his underpants to reveal something the size of a baby carrot.

This book is from the bits I read total and utter bollocks. Take for example the fact that Mr. Grey has rumpy pumpy twice in one hour which all of us men know is impossible without a nine-hour gap in between. Twice a month maybe. Twice in an hour? Bollocks.

I should point out that the book is seriously steamy and I say that in case some of my lady readers decide to buy a copy. What gets me though is that a guest went to the guest services desk to complain that we didn’t have a copy in our library. Isn’t that like saying “I really fancy reading about whips and chains and explosions of pleasure. What do you mean you don’t have anything to satisfy me? No, I don’t want to read 10 Easy Steps to Basket Weaving instead. Right, I am off to the guest services desk to complain!”

Anyway, when Taylor has finished with her book, I will place it in the library for 2,000 female guests to fight over. I doubt the men will bother reading it……….most men will wait for the film version to come out. Though chances are, we’ll have seen it all before on


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

Peter Wordley asked:

While on Carnival Magic, I met a waitress server who did something I will never forget. Her name is Alinna. On the first night’s dinner she noticed our five-year-old looked very sad and asked what was wrong with her. We explained that she had lost her favorite teddy bear she calls Hugs and that she was very upset as she could not go to sleep without Hugs. The next night when we arrived at the dining hall there, sitting in our daughter’s chair was a teddy bear which was a gift from Alinna. Our daughter was so happy and for the rest of the cruise she took the bear everywhere. She has named it Alinna after the wonderful person whose kindness and thoughtfulness was something we will never forget. We did not get a comment card so please John can you make sure that her bosses know what a gem they have in this lady and we found Hugs and had left him in the car but ever since she got Alinna, Hugs has been forgotten. We had a wonderful cruise made so special by Alinna.

John says:
Hello Peter Wordley,

What a brilliant way to start today’s Q and A and I promise to make sure that Alinna’s supervisors both ashore and on board see this wonderful story. This is what makes our crew the best at sea and I thank you for taking the time to tell us this uplifting tale. I hope we will see you all again soon. Best wishes to you all……even Hugs.


Edith C. asked:

Is this the right place for requests for anniversary gifts because I am getting the run around from Carnival customer care? I will be on our 25th wedding anniversary cruise on Carnival Dream 8/25/12 on booking ****** This will be our first experience with Carnival but so far it has not been a good one. I am trying to get a table for two confirmed and also register for the free gifts that anniversary couples get. I was told you are the only person who can get this taken care of which is crazy. On RCCL and Celebrity, all anniversary couples get free cocktail vouchers and other gifts yet getting this with Carnival is a real chore. Can you make sure we get that table for two as this is a special cruise to mark 25 of years marriage? My husband owns a successful law practice on Hilton Head and needs this special time!

John says:
Hello Edith C,

I had no idea that other cruise lines offer complimentary gifts for all anniversary couples that must keep them very busy indeed organising that. Anyway, while I cannot promise to guarantee you a table for two, I certainly will ask the maître d’ and will also send you a little something to wish you a wonderful anniversary cruise. I hope you have the best of times and that this will be the first of many cruises with Carnival.

Best wishes to you both.


Lisa asked:

I am going on the Carnival Liberty Aug. 25, Western Caribbean. I emailed and am confirmed for steakhouse reservation on Tuesday, Aug. (the third night of cruise) and also reserved The Chef’s Table already but they never gave a specific day. What days do they have the elegant/formal dining for this cruise because I would like to attend one of those nights and reserve the specialty dining for other nights?

John says:
Hello Lisa,

Look at that, Edith C posted above and is cruising on the 25th and so are you, just on a different ship, the Carnival Liberty with all her 2.0 additions. The Chef’s Table will be held after departure from Cozumel with the elegant night the evening before. You will receive written confirmations for both locations when you board so all should be set. Have a brilliant time.

Best wishes.


Jean Marie asked:
Hello John,

What is the best show you have seen in the ships? I ask this because I saw the show Dancing In Street on the Dream and it was incredible! I am sure there can’t be any better than this can there?

John says:
Hello Jean Marie,

Yes indeed, Dancin In the Street is a brilliant show and one of my favourites for sure. The new Playlist Production shows here are also fantastic with Divas being my favourite, however, my personal favourite show featuring the singers and dancers is the Beatles tribute called Ticket to Ride, which, in my opinion, has the best finale of any show we have. I hope you get to see it one day and thanks so much for this wonderful post.

Best wishes.


Steve Mavrelos asked:
Hello John!

I am fresh off the 5/19/12 sailing of the Carnival Freedom. My wife, our two friends, and myself had a wonderful time as expected. This was our third cruise, and we were thoroughly impressed, as usual, except for the quality of the pizza on this particular ship. In the past on the Carnival Miracle and Carnival Pride, I found the pizza to be very good, especially when it was fresh out of the oven. Unfortunately on the Freedom, the Margherita pizza was often unevenly cooked and seemed to lack tomato sauce. It also had an over abundance of cheese. On the first day I summed it up to being really busy, but each day I tried the pizza it was the same thing. Hopefully you can give this feedback to whomever is in charge of the pizza station. Also, I wanted to commend our waiters from the Chic dining room, Herman, Leslie, Dadam, and Sumatra….they were exceptional servers and really made our cruise special.

Thank you.

Steve Mavrelos

John says:
Steve Mavrelos,

So noted and your comments regarding the pizza are on the way to the chef. I will be talking more about pizza over on my Facebook page this week and it will be very interesting what people say. I am so glad you had fun and I will send your words of praise for the dining team to the ship as well. I hope to see you soon and I am sure you will see huge improvements on the pizza front.

Best wishes.


Brent Farrington asked:

There are many people from the Caribbean who travel on Carnival Cruise Lines. Most ask why on the breakfast buffet line there are no chicken, turkey, mutton, fish sauce or stew with Johnny cake? I think it will add plenty to the menu. Thanks.

John says:
Hello Brent Farrington,

I love Johnny cake but I feel, as do the chefs, that the number of guests who would enjoy this as a breakfast choice would be limited, so I am afraid there are no plans to add this to the current selection. Thanks for taking the time to write.

Best wishes.


Lynda McKendree asked:

I’m one of those cruisers who are getting hosed by the new loyalty program. I have seven cruises. My eighth is July 22 and my ninth is Dec. 6 – they’re booked and paid in full. Still, because I don’t sail until 27 days after June 25, I’m not going to make platinum status for YEARS!

John says:
Hello Lynda McKendree,

I am sure you will have seen by now that you will be grandfathered into Platinum status if you board your tenth cruise by 12/31/2013. I hope that is something that can happen and thanks so very much for your wonderful loyalty.

Best wishes.


Shayne O’Brien asked:


We had the best Chef’s Table experience in November 2010 with Chef Biju on the Carnival Conquest. We are considering itineraries for the fall and would like to know if he is still the chef on the Carnival Conquest. If not, is it possible to find out what ship he’s on? We would consider sailing on that ship just for the food! BTW….my wife and I sailed with you as cruise director on the Carnival Freedom in Europe in 2008, I believe. Still the most fun we’ve had on Carnival.


John says:
Hello Shayne O’Brien,

What a tremendous advert for The Chef’s Table and the wonderful Mr. Biju is on vacation at the moment and is set to return to the Carnival Glory in September. Now this could change, of course, so please check back with me and I will let you know where he ends up. Thanks so very much for this.

Best wishes.


That’s all for today.

Let’s take a break and meet another cruise director. This young lady is a unique individual and I know of no other CD that has more passion for making sure her guests have the best of times then the incomparable Jen Baxter.


I was born in Liverpool, England, in 1973 and joined the Everyman Youth Theatre at age 12 in Liverpool where we put on many productions throughout my teenage years. I lived in Chicago for two years when I was 20, where I did quite a bit of touring theatre. Following that, I worked for a British Holiday Company – Thomson Holidays – for three years as an entertainer in Spain. My next jaunt was touring theatre in the North of England and Scotland which I did for two years. In July 200I, I started my career with Carnival on the lovely Carnival Ecstasy as a social host. I was a host for four years before being promoted to ACD. I was officially promoted to cruise director late in 2008 (after calling thousands of bingo games and feeling far too many hairy chests……). I have been the CD on the following ships: Carnival Legend, Carnival Spirit, Carnival Triumph, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Destiny, Carnival Elation, Carnival Splendor, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Valor and Carnival Fascination and Carnival Triumph (where I currently reside).

Fun Fact: I LOVE Dogs…….


Thanks, Jen. and I know she is a favourite of many and her royal wave and her laugh are things that guests always talk about. She is a great asset to Carnival and I send my congratulations to her for the brilliant work she does.

And as a new adventure begins, let’s see who is sailing with us.

French Canadian 163
Russian 229
Italian 2
German 45
Dutch 103
Portuguese 38
Japanese 75
Spanish 162
Australia 50
Canada 592
Ireland 30
Israel 156
Norway 64
United Kingdom 589

Total Guests Under 21: 1,089

And here is where they will be going;

Mon, Jul, 09 Barcelona 5am-5pm
Tue, Jul, 10 Marseilles 7am-4pm
Wed, Jul, 11 Livorno 7am-7pm
Thu, Jul, 12 Rome 7am-9pm
Fri, Jul, 13 Naples 7am-7pm
Sat, Jul, 14 at sea
Sun, Jul, 15 Dubrovnik 7am-7pm
Mon, Jul, 16 Venice Overnight Arrive 2pm
Tue, Jul, 17 Venice Depart 7pm
Wed, Jul, 18 at sea
Thu, Jul, 19 Messina 7 am – 4 pm
Fri, Jul, 20 at sea

The Thrill Theatre and the Dive in Movies on the Seaside Theatre Big Screen are two very popular areas. We also have two complimentary movies a day on the stateroom TVs and the most comprehensive TV station list we have ever had for a European season. It includes a Sky package, that means guests can watch Sky News, Fox News, CNN International, ITV, BBC entertainment channels and more. This means we have had Wimbledon and will soon be showing the Olympics, as well. We also have interactive movies that come with a fee, of course but these also seem very popular. I don’t have access to these movies and indeed it’s interesting how the movie world has changed. For example, each and every crew cabin here on the flagship and on every single ship in the fleet come with a TV and DVD player supplied by Carnival which we are all very grateful for. However, finding anywhere that sells a sodding DVD really is difficult and, in fact, in Europe it’s bloody well impossible. So what Carnival has done is ship over to the Carnival Breeze 500 DVDs and box sets so that the crew can rent movies for free which they truly appreciate.

Now back in the “old days” this was one of the many “black market” industries that happened below Deck A. My how things have changed – you could essentially buy anything you wanted. One crew member, usually Korean, would sell things called Bowl Noodle Hot which were plastic bowls of spicy noodles. Then there would be the crew members who would rent videos. Their cabin would be festooned with them and most were pirated. To this day, I have no idea how crew members like Mr. Pak or Mr. Choi (who were what we used to call the purser bellman) would get these movies from. But they did and if you wanted to see a movie that had just come out, Mr. Choi’s cabin on the Holiday was the place to get it from. You could also get (allegedly) …… ummmm …………….ummmmmm……..rumpy pumpy movies allegedly with titles like Saving Ryan’s Privates and H82Seaugo Does Dallas.

Yep, you could get it all. Toiletries, a haircut and if you were in with the Chinese laundry guys, you could get the best food on the ship. They had their own galley and they would cook some of the most amazing food I have ever eaten. You never saw them you know. They would come on the ship for the start of their contract, head down to deck B to the laundry and you would not see them for the entire time, unless there was a casino in the ports we called at and then every single one of them would be there, playing and usually winning. They had their own galley and their own community and it was a sight to see. But now they have gone and so has all the black market activity that we used to allow and while I certainly understand why this had to happen, I have to admit, I do miss it, especially that freshly made Chinese food.

I also miss renting videos because renting a video is much, much quicker than the alternative we have today …… the DVD. At least, with a videotape you could press the FF button and miss through all bollocks at the beginning. And then back up a bit, because you’d gone too far to the actual start of the film. Try this with a DVD and you get a little message on the screen telling you that the operation you have requested is not possible.

Yep, these days, before the actual movie starts, you have to sit through hours of warnings about what might happen in the film, and how the views expressed therein may not be in accordance with those of the distributor. And then you are told who the producers are. Usually, there are many, because these days, every single film seems to be produced by 27 companies and executive produced by the star’s wife, who gets a credit, too, along with all the people she approached for money. Couple all this to the time your machine takes to decide whether the disc is in the correct format and was bought in the right region, and the time taken from you turning the player on to the start of the film is about 10 hours. There are some films that are made in less time than it takes them to start. And of course do not ever show the DVD to more than a few people at a time or try to copy it because if you do an FBI SWAT team will fly in from a helicopter, throw a stun grenade into your living room and, once detained, send you to prison for 300 years.

Now I am sure there will be those bloggers who will tell me about the joys of downloading but this is pointless. Asking me to work out how to download something is like asking Calvyn to unhook a ladies bra. In the old days, I used to go to the audio visual manager on board and ask him for a copy of the pay-per-view movies that you get in the cabins and, for a case of beer, Dario would oblige. However, this also has come to an end because the movies we show in the cabins and on the big screens on Lido are all digital………whatever that means.

OK, time to go as it’s a busy embarkation day. Last cruise went really well. Yes, we had some comments that gave us reason to think that we need to better do in some areas but the guests loved the ship for sure. Right, it’s time to get ready for the travel and adventure but first I want to continue working on my new book. It’s an erotic tale about a fat British guy and his underpants. It’s called 50 Shades of Brown.


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.