I would like to blame the guest who demanded that we pay for his cold medicine last cruise for the fact that I now have a stinker of a cold myself but, unfortunately, I had it before I had a close encounter with this Petri dish of a chap. In between his shouting session about how Carnival would “live to regret not giving him free medical care for the cold we gave him,” he sneezed and gave leviathan coughs and both the guest services manager and I both wished we were wearing Hazmat suits. But, unfortunately, I cannot blame my mate Mr. Nyquil because I have had this sodding cold for some days now and each year, since becoming diabetic, I seem to get one like this every 12 months. Bugger!

As I sit here in my bathrobe (I am too cold for my normal only underpants attire), I feel pretty lousy. My throat, ears, teeth, eyeballs, and the actual hair on my head throb are pounding like Calvyn’s heart at an Italian men in Speedos contest. Something has turned my nose so red and bulbous that I look like a sodding circus clown. I don’t know what I have – a sinus cold, a normal cold but I know what it isn’t. It isn’t the flu. I had that some years ago when I was home on vacation. There’s no comparison. You may as well liken stubbing your toe on a chair leg to getting your gentleman’s sausage caught in a mousetrap.

Last cruise, the guest who demanded we pay for his cold medicine and medical care was one of the most difficult guests I can remember in some time and what made it worse was that when the guest services manager and I met him for the second time, he said, as he theatrically blew his nose, that his cold had now turned into “mild flu.” Now obviously we both had to sympathize with him and be professional and we both made sympathetic “ahhhh” noises. But, really, I wanted to shout, “No, you haven’t, you big girl’s blouse, you have a cold, just like I have a sodding cold!”

You don’t get a “mild” flu, just as you don’t get a “mild” pregnancy or “mild” swamp fever. What you’ve got is a cold and not a very bad one, since you’re sitting there demanding free medicine and compensation because, in your mind, Carnival gave you the cold in the first place. If you had flu you wouldn’t be taking notes and making sure our names were spelt right for your “report” to your “legal representatives.” If you had the flu, you would be in bed willing to spend your entire children’s college fund just to get rid of the way you feel.

But he is one of many, I think, who are like this. We will call them the “flu scaremongers,” those who take a few days off the second that the temperatures drop and noses start to drip. Then there are those who walk around their place of work talking like babies. Yep, in comes Dave from sales, saying, “I feel rotten, I have the flu.” Dave will do this mainly to claim that they have influenza so that they get some sympathy and hoping that Susan from accounting will rub some ointment his chest.

But, as we know, with genuine flu, you can’t drive a car, go to work or sit in the guest services manager’s office with a notebook and pen and shout and bang your fist on the desk. Nope, you can’t raise your Macy’s float-sized head from the pillow at all since green slimy discharge is oozing from at least four of your orifices. With the real flu, all you can do is whimper with self-pity under germ infested blankets longing to feel better.

I have a cold. Yes, I feel like crap but compared to how I felt during the Welcome Aboard show on Saturday night I feel somewhat better. I was very close to saying bugger it and have Calvyn host the show but the Welcome Aboard show sets the tone for the whole cruise so I had to battle on. I still have my cold but it is still a cold and nothing else. It’s amazing how we give ourselves free upgrades when we are ill. Ingrown toenails are upgraded to possible foot amputation, headaches to migraines and the word “norovirus” is mentioned anytime someone has a less than solid bowel movement.

One last thing about the guest who wanted the cold medicine paid for. You know, I only ever want to help people and so at our meeting on the last day of the cruise, I brought some of my own personal cold medicine with me. It’s something I brought from home in the UK and it seems to help me. It’s called Lemsip and is a hot lemon drink and something I have been taking for years since my Mum gave it to me when I was a kid. I passed him a sachet of it and you know what, he refused it saying, “Never heard of it” and he lobbed it back at me with distain. It was then that I wished he would cough so violently that he would have what we Brits call “blow through” which I am sure you will understand the meaning of. Still, if he did, he’d cough so hard that blow through occurred, he would probably have expected us to pay to wash his underpants.

OK, time for me and my blocked nose to start today’s Q and A…………here we go.

Edward Greenslade asked:

Today’s blog featured an article concerning spelling and how you justified the “English” version of words you constantly misspell. The English way is to amend spelling by evolution. It is interesting how slowly English evolves into American spelling over matters such as the letter Z and the “-our” endings you still insist on using. Of course, some great writers have been terrible spellers but as you are not a great writer this is irrelevant and so I must chastise you about your constant incorrect spelling and fifth grade grammar.

John says:
Hello Edward Greenslade,

Thanks so much for taking the time to write. I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, so please forgive me if I am barking up the wrong tree here but I think you are trying to say that you disagree with the way I spell. My spelling comes from what I was taught both at school and at home and I have never adapted to dropping the letter “u” etc., even though I have spent so many years working with Americans. I hope that regardless of how a word is spelled, that you will enjoy the content of my blog. If you have a follow up to this, please let me know and it will be an honour (spelt correctly) to reply.

Best wishes.


Jean & Wendy Bouthot asked:

We are cruising on the Breeze on August 26th for our 25th wedding anniversary, and are more excited than words can say. Anyways, we were just curious as to why the Breeze’s itinerary is different on August 26th than the rest of the summer. Just something no one seems to be able to answer. One more question….do the bars on the Carnival Breeze carry Clamato Juice for Bloody Caesars? Looking forward to seeing you on the Breeze in August!!!

John says:
Hello Jean and Wendy,

It will be an honour (spelt correctly) to welcome you here and I promise you will love this new ship. Your itinerary does indeed start in Venice and it’s the only time after we did this for the inaugural that we will use Venice as a home port. The reason is purely operational and with so many ships sailing in Europe this season, we have to juggle our port sequence around. Actually this season we have many different port sequences which keeps life interesting for us here on the ship. As for your question, I’ve been told that we do not have this on our menu but we do keep in our stock for our Canadian guests especially as they seem to love it, but I’m not sure why. Anyway, we will have it at the bars for you. I will see you soon and I know you will have a brilliant time on the ship and enjoy the splendour (spelt correctly) of these European ports.

Best wishes.


Dvina Besson asked:
Hi John,

Please can I say a thank you to you for helping my elderly parents with their cruise? I had mentioned both used mobility scooters and were concerned about their table assignment in the dining hall. Not only did you get them a table right at the front but the gesture of strawberries and champagne and the ship on a stick made their anniversary so special. They also wanted me to mention that the lady that looked after their cabin which was 2424 on the Magic was so lovely and also made their cruise extra special.

Dvina Besson

John says:
Hello Dvina Besson,

I am so glad your parents had such a wonderful time and my thanks to the maître d’ for his help in arranging their table and a special think you to the stateroom stewardess for all she did. I have sent this to the ship so she will see your parent’s words of praise. I hope we see you all again very soon and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.

Best wishes.


Kim Norwood asked:

Is there anywhere on carnival.com I can post complaints about my cruise last week on the Destiny? I have called and sit on hold for an hour and never got to speak to anyone.

John says:
Hello Kim Norwood,

I am three weeks behind here with my replies so I hope by now this has been sorted and you have spoken to someone from our guest care department. Just to make sure, I have sent this to them to follow up. I am sorry to read that you had some concerns and I will make sure they are addressed. Best wishes and my apologies for the delay in replying.


Casey Hogan asked:
Hello John,

I hope all is well and that you are enjoying the new Carnival Breeze. I would rather be sailing with you than sitting in my cubicle counting down the days until I cruise on the Carnival Magic (110). Two years ago, my father took me on my first cruise aboard the Carnival Triumph. He has been sailing with Carnival since its founding, first on the Mardi Gras, then Jubilee and Holiday. He was a platinum guest, and only sailed Carnival. He did take one cruise on an unnamed competitor and told me it was as boring as his ex-wife, or something like that. Dad had the means to cruise any line he wanted to, but would only choose Carnival because it was the Fun Ships and the people of Carnival treated him the right way. Loyalty means something in my family. Dad and I had a great cruise, and he has hooked me on Carnival. Since that cruise, I have been on the Carnival Pride twice – another beautiful ship with a fantastic staff. Dad and I always talked about going on the Carnival Magic. He lives in Dallas and we planned on sailing on that beautiful ship this summer. Unfortunately, Dad passed away unexpectedly in April. Don’t worry – I am not looking for a ship on a stick or a private dance with one of the showgirls. The value and level of customer service that Carnival provides us with is all that we need. As a matter of fact, in honor of my father, a few members of our family will be sailing aboard the Carnival Magic on September 23. We plan on having the time of our life – Dad would want us to sit at the lobby bar after embarkation and say hello to all of our new friends. He would want us to sit by the pool and have a few cold ones and hit up the pizza place at 2am. Dad loved Carnival and cruising and was always the life of the party.

However, we would like to take a few minutes to remember him and spread his ashes in the ocean aboard the ship he always wanted to sail but never got a chance to. Can you tell us the procedure for this and how it could be arranged? Also, my mom wants a seat in the dining room by the window so she can see the ocean. I could care less, but you know how Moms can be. The thought of hearing her complain all week could drive me to a Cruise Critic meet and greet, good God. If you can help us get a table for four by the window it would be much appreciated. Thanks for all you do, John, and I hope to see you on the water one day soon.

Casey Hogan
Proud Son of Fred Hogan

John says:
Hello Casey Hogan,

What a beautiful post which has obviously been written straight from the heart. I think what you will be doing with Dad is simply wonderful and I will make sure all is set for you to be able to scatter his ashes as you requested. All I need for you to do is if you are going to drop the urn in the water then please do make sure it’s a biodegradable one but, that aside, we will take care of everything. Now what I need is a reminder of this one week before you sail. Please post it here marked URGENT or even better if you or one of your party has a Facebook account, then please post the reminder on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/johnheald and I will respond within 24 hours. Either way I will make sure all is set. You should be proud, Casey, and I will do all I can for you.

Best wishes


Sammi asked:
Hey John,

When will the CD schedule for the remainder of the year come out? I see it’s out till June, but I am planning to cruise in August and September and would love to know!
PS – Can you please bring Mitcham back to the Florida ports? I see he leaves this month and I am sad. He is awesome!

Thanks, John!

John says:
Hello Sammi,

This is definitely the hot topic of the moment and I was truly hoping that we could get this posted to you all last week. However there have been some last minute “complications” so it will be a few more days yet. I can tell you that Matt (whose bio I featured a few days ago here on the blog thingy) has a bright future. He is currently on the Carnival Fantasy and we shall see where he goes next when the schedule comes out.

Best wishes.


Paula Robinson asked:

We are from the UK and are thinking about cruising in 2013 for our first Carnival cruise to the Baltic ports on the Carnival Legend. I have read many bad reports about Carnival on Cruise Critic UK and that they are party boats. We are a retired couple who are young at heart but are worried that Carnival may not be for us. I discovered your blog when doing research and have enjoyed reading your candid reporting and so I wondered what you thought about this. Is Carnival right for us? Thank you for your time.

John says:
Hello Paula Robinson,

I am very glad that you decided to write to me Paula and with all due respect, the reports you have read are not true. Carnival is all about fun and that comes in many different forms. If fun means, live music from many genres, brilliant live stage shows, activities, events, sensational food and service then we have all of this and much more. The Baltic ports will offer some amazing sights and the guests will be diverse from young families, to many older retired couples like yourselves. So I do hope we will see you and I may indeed be there myself as cruise director. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes.


Melvin R asked:

I was very disturbed to read that you had not had the consideration to reply to my sister in laws question about the Hanukah celebrations on our cruise and instead had left it to one of your subordinates to respond. Please explain yourself as it smacks of something very troubling.

John says:
Hello Melvin R,

I have been scratching my head for a few minutes here because, honestly, I have no idea what this is about. Can you tell me something more so I can help you and if I missed a question, then I sincerely apologise but I truly don’t know what you mean about one of my subordinates responding in my place. I will tell you that we have a special Menorah lighting each night of Hanukah and although we do not have a rabbi on the ships, we will make sure guests of the Jewish faith will be able to celebrate this special holiday. Please let me know if you have a follow up and send my apologies to your sister in law for any misunderstanding.

Best wishes.


Rhonda Hendershot asked:

I plan to take my 84-year-old mom on her first cruise, and we are going out of Galveston in the fall. I just read that Ken Byrne is celebrating the launch of the Carnival Breeze. Do you know if he’ll be back on the Magic in the fall? Dinner just won’t be the same without him!

John says:
Hello Rhonda Hendershot,

Ken is indeed incomparable, isn’t he, and he won’t, I am afraid, be back on the Carnival Magic but will remain here on Carnival Breeze. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you or Mum before you sail and I hope you have a brilliant time.

Best wishes.


David T Mendrick asked:

Our son Leo will be celebrating his graduation from high school and expectance on a full athletic scholarship to the University of South Carolina. We will all be on the Fantasy on 8/11 and can you send Leo something to say well done on his outstanding achievements? His half brother Lance also celebrates his 14th birthday on that cruise as well. Our booking number for the cruise is ******. I wish we were going to Half Moon Cay instead of Freeport which is a total dump.

John says:
Hello David T Mendrick,

Many congratulations to your son and I am sure you are very proud of him. I will send him and his brother a little something. I am sure also you will have fun and although Half Moon Cay is something very special, I know you will enjoy your time ashore in Freeport.

Best wishes to you all.


Koreena Ralston asked:
Hi John,

I have a very odd thing to request and I’m not even sure anyone can help. My parents have taken several Carnival cruises and have loved them! In fact, we’re taking one with them in the fall. There was an accident with my Dad’s photo files and they lost every single photo and video from the past several years. Luckily, their Alaska cruise they took last month wasn’t on it, but their October 10, 2009, Carnival Triumph cruise and their January 1, 2011, Carnival Dream cruises were lost. Do you know any frequent cruisers who might be willing to share some of their pictures from those cruises with me? I realize my folks probably won’t be in them (you’d know, my dad’s 6’6″ and my mom is 5’0″, lol). They are just heartbroken at having lost them and I was
hopping I could find a way to do this for them. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.

Happy sailing!


John says:
Hello Koreena Ralston,

I am so very sorry to read this and I hope that maybe someone reading this will be able to help. Meanwhile, can you tell me what kind of photos they are looking for? Is it photos of the ship itself, the ports or maybe events or things on board? Please let me know and I will see what I can do for them and send them some photos. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes.


And that’s all for today. Let’s take a break and continue with our look at our wonderful gaggle of cruise directors and introduce Mr. Brad Calabrese.

I was born on May 30, 1978, which was the hottest recorded day in history for Fredericton NB, Canada……I believe this to be the first step on my path to becoming a cruise director, as I still don’t like the cold and have been able to avoid winter for the last five years thanks to the position I still currently hold with Carnival. I joined Carnival in 2004 on the Glory, signing on with another current Carnival cruise director, Butch, although our paths were different as I signed on as a youth counselor having a background in teaching and early childhood education. I became a social host on my next contract and began the process of learning all areas of the entertainment department on board, which saw me hold titles as karaoke host/backstage manager/light operator/ACD among other responsibilities that don’t have titles, but needed to be done in order for the day-to-day operation to work.

I have been on 14 Carnival ships, currently calling Carnival Freedom my home, sailing out of Ft Lauderdale doing six- and eight-day cruises with varied itineraries that take me to beautiful places such as Aruba, Curacao, Antigua, Cozumel, St Thomas, Panama to name a few. I enjoy having the opportunity to work not only with so many talented people in the entertainment department, but also with staff and crew who come from all over the world – to share in their experience and to ultimately highlight their varied and creative talents to enhance our guest experience on board. Being a cruise director is one of the most engaging positions I’ve ever held and I appreciate the perspective it grants me and the positive effect it can allow me to have for so many people on a daily basis.

Marked Events over the last eight years:
2004 – Carnival Glory: signed on with about 30 Romanians just before Christmas and after the first couple of weeks every time they saw me around the ship they would say “Hey Brad” and put their arms over their heads in the shape of a triangle…I would respond in the same way and thought it was a traditional Romanian greeting, where they would laugh and walk away. This went on for some time until I finally asked one of them what it actually meant and he told me that in Romanian language, “Brad” means Christmas tree……that moment has always reminded me that there is always something to be shared between different cultures and a smile is part of a universal language.

2006 – Carnival Inspiration: I met Chris Roberts, cruise director and he changed my life and is the reason that I am a cruise director today. I learned how to be a better manager, how to get the most from the people you work with, how valuable consistency is as a character trait and to appreciate humility – especially every visit to Cozumel playing mini golf and watching your mentor triumphantly throw down his club, drop his pants and mock you openly. Classic.

2007 – Carnival Inspiration: Met Jeremy ‘Tex’ Mayes, an occurrence that has angered a lot of people and widely been regarded as a bad move – it has been a friendship that has been cemented by respect, laughter, and love of meat.

2009 – Carnival Liberty: I met a dancer named Chanelle, who is now my wife and from that first meeting has been the best part of my day and is my inspiration to be a better person every day.

2009 – Carnival Splendor: Having the opportunity to sail around South America, from Ft. Lauderdale to San Francisco, it has been to this day the most incredible experience from the people who I had the chance to work with, to the places we visited like Ushuaia, Cape Horn, Uruguay…absolutely incredible and truly gave me the sense of how special this job really is.

2009 – Carnival Splendor: Being fully promoted to cruise director.

2011 – Carnival Freedom: Being given a home to call my own.

Brad has certainly made the Carnival Freedom his home and has many fans who return to see him and who consider him a friend. Well done, mate.

OK, we are in Livorno today and three days into the cruise so I had better tell you who are cruising with us and where we are going.

We have a total of 2,791 non-U.S. Guests including these countries with the highest counts:

French Canadian: 284
Russian: 420
German: 82
Dutch: 167
Portuguese: 19
Spanish: 196
Australia: 51
Canada: 401
Israel: 261
United Kingdom: 1,180
USA: 1,890

It is, of course, very rare to see the U.S. guests represent this small a portion of the total guests on board and along with the guests mentioned above, we have guests from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Japan. Obviously, there are challenges with this with getting information across to many whose English is not their first language. It is, at times like this, when I wish I had the skills of Costa cruise directors who can give information and who can be funny in multiple languages. I can’t be funny in any language except English which some would argue I fail at as well. Oh, I do know how to tell a joke about an elephant and a nun in Dutch. I told it during my speech at my wedding which is why many of Heidi’s family don’t speak to me. Everywhere you walk this cruise you will hear so many different languages spoken and even in my welcome aboard show I had guests from Belgium, Surinam and Costa Rica. What is also interesting was that in Monte Carlo yesterday when I checked the number of guests on board the ship at 1 pm I was surprised to see that we have 1,457 guests who were still on board the ship. This happened last year on Carnival Magic I seem to remember with the European guests using the ship as a resort and not caring as much as the North American guests about seeing the ports.

We also have 1,180 Brits on the ship and that’s wonderful to see. We are really working hard back in the UK to attract more and more Brits and we have a new team led by the wonderful Adolfo and his team who has swapped South Beach for Notting Hill and is leading Carnival’s charge to promote the affordable fun we offer………and it seems to be working. I love it when the Brits sail because…………well……….because…….I am embarrassed to say ……….. ummmm ……….. it’s food related. Oh, ok, I will tell you. I love it when the Brits sail because we serve a full English breakfast on Lido deck and that means:

• English Bacon
• Bangers (English breakfast sausages)
• Gammon Ham – smoked
• HP sauce
• Colman’s Mustard
• Marmite
• Baked beans
• Grilled Tomatoes

Have any of you ever had Marmite? As we say in the UK………. “You either love it or you hate it.” Me…………I would rather fry the snot that is dripping from my nose and eat that on toast…… than eat Marmite. So the Brits being here means I have a nice breakfast to enjoy and with 400 Russians here I have some bottoms to enjoy.

Anyway, let’s see where we are going.

  • Sat, Jul, 21 Barcelona Welcome Aboard Show / Motor City 5am-5pm
  • Sun, Jul, 22 Monaco The Brits / Latin Nights Chas Elstner/ Lowell Sanders 9am-8pm
  • Mon, Jul, 23 Livorno Motor City / The Brits Chas Elstner/ Lowell Sanders 7am-7pm
  • Tue, Jul, 24 Rome Hasbro Deck Party 7am-9pm
  • Wed, Jul, 25 Naples KYLE ESPLIN (high energy piano act) Austin Knight/ John Lory 7am-7pm
  • Thu, Jul, 26 at sea Latin Nights / Divas Austin Knight / John Lory
  • Fri, Jul, 27 Dubrovnik RICHARD GRIFFIN (comedy/magic) 7am-7pm
  • Sat, Jul, 28 at sea Motor City / Latin Nights Liars Club
  • Sun, Jul, 29 Venice EMILY REED (vocalist) Blue Iguana Deck Party 7am-7pm
  • Mon, Jul, 30 at sea Hasbro / The Brits / Divas Carl Faulkenberry / Tommy Drake
  • Tue, Jul, 31 Messina Guest Talent Show Carl Faulkenberry / Tommy Drake/ 7am-4pm
  • Wed, Aug, 01 at sea Hasbro / Divas

So, no overnight in Venice this time and one extra sea day which will be very nice indeed. Great acts, six hilarious comedians and one brilliant cruise. Wish you were here.

What a terrible event in Colorado. Truly tragic. I really feel for the victims and their families. A one off nutter who thought he was the Joker. Psychological testing for gun licences would be the only way of possibly preventing nutters getting guns. That’s my two cents on the matter …………. but what do I know.

Shopping in Europe does make some of our guests go nuts, totally nuts and the one area I am afraid I just don’t get is the mad dash to buy fake goods. They are everywhere, especially in the Spanish and Italian ports. This past cruise, we had a lady who was fined 350 Euros for purchasing a replica Chanel bag. She was caught by undercover police officers and spent two hours at a Venetian police station which, from what I heard, was not a pleasurable experience. I guess I don’t understand the need to buy replica goods. Yes, they look like the real thing but my thoughts can never be far away from a BBC program I saw once about Bangladesh factory workers who in terrible conditions made these replica bags and clothing and were paid maybe $1 a week to do so. It’s a thriving business and I know it’s nice to have something that looks like the real thing …..but…….if she had seen the program I saw that Chanel bag might sit a little less comfortably on her shoulders if she knew that it had been made by a 12 year old girl who was beaten if she didn’t do a good job.

But women, you love to shop right? I once read that shopping, for some women, is better than rumpy pumpy. I doubt that would be the case if the rumpy pumpy was with Johnny Depp, right girls? But I suppose if the man heaving about on top of you is me with my XXXL white underpants round my ankles, then, yes – getting a charm bracelet on sale for half price in our gift shop would inch ahead as the more pleasurable experience.


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.