September 14, 2012 -

John Heald

I think the time has come to introduce a solid gold plastic ship on a stick which is presented to those guests who have won an award for being ……well…………..being a bit dense!

After what has happened here with two guests, I think it is something we have to do. We have a husband and wife, in their 50s who in the port of Livorno rented a car, got lost and had to call the police for help. The Italian police called the ship’s agent who called us and, luckily, we were able to wait the extra 15 minutes for them to get back to the ship. The guests were spoken to by the guest services manager and were told how lucky they were that the captain had agreed to wait and that they should probably take a tour the following day in Rome. Guess what happened next? Yes, they ignored her, rented a car again and, yep, you guessed it, got lost and this time we could not wait so they had to spend the night in a hotel and then take a train to meet us in Salerno. It is rare for team members to become upset with things like this but when they called the police this time and when the agent called us, I can tell you that the captain and guest services manager were quite frustrated.

It’s ridiculous and I am sure when they got back, they were welcomed with open arms by our ever-caring guest services team, etc. Personally, I’d have favoured making them dress down to their underwear while forcing them to walk up and down Promenade Deck making them say, “I am the reason guests should take a tour.” These are the type of guests who should be awarded the “Solid Gold Trophy For Stupidity.”

Here is another winner nominated by a fellow cruise director.

Sent: Friday, September 07, 2012 4:39 PM
Subject: Guest Comment Craig

Please be advised that guest from cabin _____ Mr ______ has been in the medical center today with severe sun burn. Guest’s wife has stated that no announcement was made or information given that the sun would be strong today and guest is stating that she should not have to pay for medical charges. Please, can you contact her?

Thank you and best regards,
Guest Services Associate, Carnival Splendor
Carnival Cruise Lines

There must be some of you out there who are thinking that the above comment is a work of fiction. It’s not. I promise, it is not and I would write more but I need to spend the next 10 minutes explaining to a guest that they may get wet if they jump in the pool.

Obviously, allowances must be made for the confused and lonely, but in most cases like this, we should have trophies made and presented on stage in front of all the other guests. So trophies are being made. They will look just like the trophies we have now except they will have the ship’s name on the plaque followed by “OH, FFS!”

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

William C. Lynch asked:

Met you several times on Carnival cruises. Found you a pleasant individual. Wife and I are cruising on the Carnival Legend next year in September. Was wondering who our maître d’ will be?


John says:

Thanks so much for those kind words and I will be on the Carnival Legend next year and the maître d will most likely be Ken Byrne. I will be able to confirm this closer to the time but for now he is scheduled to be there. Please let me know if you need anything before you sail again.

Best wishes.


Jessica Klink asked:

Yes, Heald, Carnival’s ice tea does suck and none of your bull**** spin will prove otherwise. You really make me sick. OK, you don’t drink ice tea, blah, blah, blah, but I am a southerner as are a huge majority of your passengers and ice tea is a frikkin religion. Ice tea is a very important part of a Southerner’s life. Every Southern woman knows how to make it and every Southern family keeps a constant supply of it in their refrigerator. So how come you put a ship like Carnival Fantasy in the south and force us to drink this awful fowl-tasting stuff you jokingly call tea? If you bother to read the comments on your blog, then you will see that everyone agrees with me about this so stop spinning and get your people to learn how to make tea or you will lose my business and many other Southerners, as well.

Jessica Klink

John says:
Hello Jessica Klink,

Madam, you mention “awful, fowl-tasting stufff” — are you suggesting we put essence of chicken in the tea?………..kidding. I see how passionate you are about your ice tea and I am sorry if my previous comments about this upset you. I will promise you that your comments have been passed to the head chef and I have asked him to see what can be done about changing the recipe. I will keep you informed and I hope you will look past the taste of the ice tea and remember all the other fun, food, service and entertainment you had while you were on board.

Best wishes.


Manuel Garcia asked:

I just returned from my first Carnival experience on the Carnival Valor from Miami. I had a good time but was so shocked that the dress code in the restaurant was not enforced and on the formal night many of the male passengers had no jacket or tie and I saw some had jeans on. This really left a sour taste in my mouth as my wife and I are used to cruise ships that enforce a formal dress code. I am asking you then if this is the normal practice for Carnival Cruise Lines or is it because you are a budget cruise line that you do this?

John says:
Hello Manuel Garcia,

First of all, I hope you had a great cruise and while we do have an elegant night we do allow a more relaxed dress code. Male guests do not need a jacket and tie although some still opt to wear one. I am sure that what other guests were wearing did not dilute the service and food quality and I hope sincerely that you will be back with us for another cruise very soon. If you have any other questions, please let me know. Best wishes.

Paul Downfield asked:

Last year my family cruised on the Carnival Magic when you were the cruise director and we had such a fantastic time. I know you are on the Carnival Breeze now but we are coming back to the Carnival Magic in November and wanted to see if we could have our waitress again as she was the best we have ever had. Her name was Dessie, although, I am not sure that I have this spelt correctly, John. Can you check and see if she will be there and, if so, can I ask please that we sit at one of her tables? Our booking number for the 11/18/12 cruise is ******Thanks for all you do John, and keep up the great work.

John says:
Hello Paul Downfield,

It’s great to read that you are coming back to your favourite ship and I know that once again you will have the best of times. Dessi is indeed a brilliant waitress and she is in fact here with me now on Carnival Breeze. I am afraid she won’t be heading to the Carnival Magic in November though. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you and your family before you sail and I wish you all a brilliant time together. Thanks for the kind words.

Best wishes to you all.


Buck Macklin asked:

Could you encourage the website people to include Half Moon Cay in the destination drop down menu? I am always trying to find the ships that stop there. I am sure I am not the only one. Thank you.

John says:
Hello Buck Macklin,

It wasn’t until I read this that I actually knew that it was not part of the menu. That really does surprise me as Half Moon Cay is one of our most popular destinations. Thanks then for telling me about this and yes, of course, I will pass this onto the beards. Best wishes and thanks again.

Elio Tamayo asked:

I would like to congratulate you on your new pool chair policy. I just read an article about how people hoard the chairs and never use them. As a Milestone member, I applaud that policy. Many times I have gone out to the pool area only to find no empty chairs. I sit and watch as people who occupied the chairs show up around noon or sometimes even later. I have three more cruises already booked and welcome that policy. We were with you on the inaugural cruise on the Breeze. Again, thank you.

John says:

Hello Elio Tamayo,

Thanks so much. Yes, indeed, this policy, which is being rolled out fleetwide, has made a huge difference to what happens on the open decks and I salute those who put this program together. We were surprised to see how much press this got. I hope you had fun on this great ship and many congratulations on booking three more cruises and if you need anything at all, please let me know.

Best wishes.


Mandy L asked:

I totally agree Mary Ann, Carnival’s ice tea is the worst. John, something needs to be done.

John says:
Hello Mandy L,

That is two posts about the ice tea today and, as I mentioned, to the nice young lady above I have passed these comments to the head chef and have asked if we can look at the recipe and see what improvements can be made. I will keep you informed.

Best wishes.


Victoria Dinn asked:
Hi John,

I’ve just got a random question out of pure curiosity!! I notice that when you give the nationality counts for passengers, you separate “Canadian” from “French Canadian” and I’m
wondering why you do this and what constitutes a “French” Canadian for this purpose? Do you base your counts on if they are residents of Quebec versus any of the other provinces or just if they know how to speak French? I’m not sure if you are aware of some of the political discussion that has gone on over the past years between Quebec and the rest of the country, but the topic of their “separation” from the rest of the country has come up. I personally would hate to see that happen and just don’t understand the need to be distinguished from the rest of the country based on their language……… There are plenty of French “speaking” Canadians all over the country, as well as many who speak any number of any other languages. I notice you will count all Americans as just that… why not then French American, English, American, Spanish American etc? Though this is not a topic that is heavy on my mind by any means, I guess I would just like to see all Canadians counted together because we are all, in fact, Canadians regardless of the languages we all speak :o) Love your blog, and after having sailed the Carnival Legend last year with my husband, my sister and her husband on our very first cruise ever, I got hooked! We’ve now booked the Carnival Breeze for January to take our kids and are so excited! You can count us as four Canadians on the roster so far!


Victoria from Alberta

John says:
Hello Victoria Dinn,

This is something I should have made far more clear when I post this so thanks for allowing me to do so here. We list it separately because these guests are from French-speaking Canada and have booked through travel agents and PVPs, etc. and have requested that because some have limited English that we provide French-translated Fun Times and French-translated dinner menus. Having this information allows us to know how many translated copies to have and which staterooms to deliver them to. I hope this explains why and if you have any other questions, please let me know. Thanks for the kind words and hope to see you soon.

Best wishes.


Cecil Beare asked:

I just read that Carnival is trying out “chair hog” monitors on the Carnival Breeze. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. I hope they make this a policy for the entire fleet. From what comments I read on the HuffPost article, everyone agrees this is a great idea.

John says:
Hello Cecil Beare,

Thanks so much and yes, indeed, the Huffington Post and other press outlets both in written media and television all picked up on this story. It has been a huge success and is now being rolled out across the fleet.

Best wishes.


Justin Walters asked:
Hello John,

I have so much to say…..….I just love Carnival and all you guys. I love it so much I want it to become my lifelong job. I don’t even know where to start. I have looked at the fun jobs section on the web site, everything there I’m OK with (life at sea and benefits.) I have also put an app. in to cast-a-way but I’m not sure if there is anything else I can do. How do I talk to someone about this?? I can’t find a number anywhere. Any help???

Thank you,


John sayS:
Hello Justin,

Thanks for those wonderful words. May I direct you to www.cclcareers.com and www.carnivalentertainment.com. Both these web pages will help you and I hope that your dreams come true.

Best wishes and good luck.


And on that note, we end today’s Q&A. Cheers.

Many of you reading this have met my assistant and friend Calvyn. For those of you who have not met Calvyn, let me tell you something about him. He looks like the illegitimate love child of Nathan Lane and Bette Milder. He is also very funny — I mean naturally funny as many of you have seen.

Here is a blog entry form my mate Calvyn:

My sister Tammy tells me to call her more. She tells me to write her more. It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s not that I don’t miss her or any of my other friends and family for that matter. It’s not even the nine hours that separate our mornings, noons, and nights. Calling home, well… it makes me miss them even more. My eight closest friends and I have created an understanding that unless it’s urgent, there will be no animosity if our communication is not great while I’m away. Sure, we see each other on Facebook, and send inside jokes through email, and if I happen to look at my phone and think of them and the time difference works out, I will try calling them. For us, our friendship is supported on pillars of history and nothing embodies happiness more than sitting across one another, when I am home, sipping copious amounts of wine filling each other in on our past year. Sometimes it’s not easy hearing about their other growing friendships and there is always that annoying thought in the back of my mind that maybe at some point, I will be forgotten. The feeling does disperse the second they say phrases such as “I’ve told them all about you and they still want to meet you” or “I’ve showed them the video of you doing the merengue at last year’s BBQ” or “I’ve set up a dinner party so you can meet them… can you wear something other than the Got Fun shirt.”

I have so much gratitude for these eight close friends and for their understanding of my career (it wasn’t like that to start with). I’m also very thankful that our friendships foundation was built years before I embarked on my seafarer career and is able to bear the weight of long absences.

The opposite is true for shipboard friends. You know, every time I leave for the ship my friends and family both say how excited I must be to go back and see my ship friends. Besides John, I don’t know who I will be seeing onboard when I go out. Sometimes I’ll walk on and know no one. Usually, though, I will have worked with some people. I will walk into an elevator and recognize a crew member from restaurant service, for example. We smile and hug and ask how long we both will be on for and become instant elevator friends. Because even without a strong personal history between us, we both share a connection of being on a ship, we instantly understand what we go through in a day. We both share the knowledge of what it takes to work on a ship and how important it is to have good solid elevator friends.

I realize that in my combined six years of working for both Holland America and Carnival, there are only a few people that I would consider to be as close to me as my land friends. These friends of mine are crew members that I have worked with on several contracts and even though they come effortlessly in and out of my life, the laughter never stops.

John, of course, is the man whom which I hold most dear. Sometimes it’s hard to decipher the line of when friendship ends and boss begins and I have come to realize that with true friendship there is no line, only respect. Along with any good friendship comes moments of tenderness, concern, and moments of frustration. I can tell you there have been a few heated moments between John and I. Moments that, if we were strictly boss and employee, I am sure would I would have handled myself with a bit more… professionalism, but instead we hash it out as two mates would on the streets of New York – he throws a stapler at my head and I pee in his toilet. After we cool off, it is clear to me that he is only after my best interests and only a good friend would take the time to nurture me and want to see me succeed as a cruise director or any career I may choose.

Cruise Director Butch is also someone I am so proud to call “friend.” My memories of Butch could be summed up in one word: laughter. It’s all we do. We don’t need to worry about each other professionally as we both know the work will always get done and, if not, we know how to troubleshoot the issues. If John cannot be on board as cruise director, then Butch is the closest replacement and this week with Butch has been so much fun. Except for our morning shows where he makes me look 30 pounds heavier as he is sickly skinny….… Some may say even gaunt. His smile radiates a room and his energy (although sometimes way too high for my liking) is infectious. How lucky I am to have such a fun and constant friend.

Aside from John and Butch, there’s Melody De Dios, Ryan M, Ryan Fitzgerald, Jayne and Marcela, and a few others are all within my peripheral circle of shipmate friends and much like my land friends, I may not see them as often as I would wish, but when I do, it is as if no time has passed and if we are not laughing within the first minute of seeing each other the world has gone quiet. John is back now, which means I said goodbye to Butch, again. And so it goes I guess: the life of a cruise liner seafarer. Time now to give John a sponge bath and read him chapter three of 50 Shades of Grey.

Calvyn Shawn Champagne Martens
Senior Executive Assistant to John Heald

For those who don’t know Calvyn, here’s a hilarious video he did with our friends Doug and Matt at Cruise Radio.

Hosting the Morning Show with Calvyn is an incomparable experience and he will be with me on Bloggers Cruise 6 and the trans–Atlantic crossing. Talking of the trans-Atlantic crossing, I am starting to plan for this exciting voyage. I know it’s going to be a challenge, they always are and I am determined to make this one the best yet. Why are they a challenge? Well it’s because some of the guests seem to get grumpy during the five days at sea we have crossing the Atlantic. I never quite understand this as it is five days of fun, great food and entertainment and, of course, exceptional friendly service from the crew.

Anyway, this will be our best crossing yet and I do though have one extra challenge to face and that is because we will have 900………yep, 900 guests who will have been on the previous cruise, as well. It is wonderful that 900 guests will be able to spend 28 days on the ship with the 12- and 16-day cruises back to back. But that in itself possess a problem and that is that they will have seen the production shows and will have eaten from the same menus they will be served etc. So my job is to make sure we have different movies, different events and while I can’t change the production shows, I need to make sure we have different fly on entertainers as well and that is what I am working on at the moment. I am looking forward to hosting this voyage and will have more information soon.

Yesterday, I met a wonderful couple at the marriage show. They have been married for 61 years and both Len and Winnie spent 35 years each teaching at the same school in Indiana, how fantastic is that? Married 61 years, teaching for 70 years between them. Here they are:

As we spoke about their lives together, they both talked about their love for each other and their love for teaching and I could imagine them being the caring teachers all of us wish we had.

For the most part my teachers at school were good, kind and pleasant but there were exceptions. Take my English teacher, Mrs. Mungo — or Mungo the Mole — as we used to call her out of ear shot. We called her that because Mrs. Mungo had a huge mole on her face with three hairs protruding from it that used to give me nightmares. I would like to say a few nice things about Mrs. Mungo……..but I can’t…..she was a tyrant who used her ugliness to scare us kids and we were 12 years old at the time. This was back in the day when teachers could, if they wanted, practice corporal punishment to advance their education. Today, a teacher just has to look at a kid in the wrong way and the teacher is immediately fired and burnt at the stake.

Mrs. Mungo used her chalkboard eraser to hit us over the head with when we spoke out of turn. Her biggest pet hate was yawning and anyone of us who yawned, would receive the good news with the chalk board eraser.…..I became great friends with it and can still feel her rancid breath as she breathed “Heald, did you just yawn?” and then her huge hand would bring the eraser for a close up meeting with my head. She was though not the worst teacher because there was one who we all feared………and his name was Mr. Waknen–Reynolds, the double barreled bastard!

He taught biology and his favorite weapon of choice was a slipper, an old leather thing which probably belonged to his great grandfather and which he used on our bottoms whenever he could. I would like to say that his strictness caused us to listen and learn more ….but it didn’t ……….it just made me hate biology and it’s his fault that until the age of 16, I thought babies really were delivered by a stork.

But the mole and the double-barreled bastard were the exception because most of my teachers were simply brilliant. Teachers can, and do, change lives. They can determine the life you lead. They can influence career choices. They can inspire. As the son of a teacher, I know how hard they work and how little they are paid but a great teacher can be a role model and I am sure all of us can think of one now who made a difference in our lives. I have two. Mrs. Bright whose history classes were full of excitement and whose care for her pupils was extraordinary. And then there was Miss Grover, our drama teacher………. who had breasts bigger than my head.

Finally, today, I send my congratulations to Carnival Cruise Lines who yesterday were voted the Best Cruise Line at the Cruise International Awards in London. This was the first time Carnival had been nominated and I am sure our UK Managing Director Adolfo Perez and his team must be thrilled. I wish I could have been there to see the moment Carnival won. There’s a moment in all award ceremonies when the nominations have been read out and you’re sitting there waiting to find out whether you’ve won or lost. And then the host says, “And the best cruise line goes to…….Carnival Cruise Lines.” Now at this point Adolfo and his team have got to look proud, a little bit startled, coy and happy, but not air-punchingly delirious.

Adolfo and our head of sales, Erin, had to walk on stage, collect the award knowing that people in the audience with a climbing wall fetish…….. were absolutely hating them at that moment. I understand from those that were there that Adolfo had to be physically restrained from grabbing the microphone and telling the other cruise line chaps, “We won, you didn’t – nar, nar, na, nar, nar,” before making a huge farting noise down the mic.

It was a brilliant win for Carnival and the beards are very happy indeed today. Oh, and yes, I nearly forgot. This blog won Best Cruise Line Blog for the second year running. Thanks most sincerely to everyone who voted for me and I share this award with all of you.


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.