When people become really famous, I am sure there must be times when all they want is anonymity. I bet that with all their fame, money, houses, yachts, Aston Martins and all the Latvian bottoms they can lay their eyes on, people like Kate Middleton, Justin Beaver and Lebron James wish that they could walk into a restaurant or pop out to McDonald’s without being pointed at as well as having the comfort of being able to make a phone call safe in the knowledge that a sweaty reporter from one of Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers isn’t listening.

I am not talking about the reality TV and American Idolxfactor people who live to be famous…..no……I am talking about real stars, those who are household names with a household face of whom the public demand to be told who is rumpy pumpying with who and was that famous movie star wearing women’s underwear last night.

I am not famous but on the ship I am well known, of course, and that can prove difficult at times. There is a very fine line between my social life and my working life and whenever I walk out of the cabin I am “on stage” so to speak. In past blogs, I have written about being photographed in the public restrooms and the many times I have been sitting in a lounge and someone has said sorry to bother you……which they’re not…….and then proceed to share their thoughts, their happiness and of course their words with me. And whether I am sitting at the RedFrog Pub, walking Promenade Deck or standing in the public bathroom, I have to listen and I have to care.

It’s hard to explain what it’s like but compared to real stars who are photographed every single time they walk out of the house, it’s nothing of course. I have no idea how I would cope when the assistant at the Walgreens selling a photo he took of me buying some extra strength hemorrhoid cream.

So yesterday afternoon, I was talking to a couple by the guest services desk. They are regular blog readers and had asked to speak to me. They, along with 14 other cabins, have lost luggage and of course our guest services desk is, as always, trying to recover it for them from the airline. We have given them some toiletries and t-shirts and they are making the best of the situation but one of the problems was that one guest had no charger for her camera and was desperate to take photos of their trip to Florence and Pisa. So she had contacted me and I had managed to sort her a charger to borrow from a staff member (thanks, Sonia) and I was bringing it to her. I was in the middle of speaking to her when a chap tapped me repeatedly on the shoulder and said, “I need to talk to you.” I turned around and politely said that I would be with him shortly once I had finished speaking to this couple and carried on talking. It must have been no more than two minutes and I had finished and turned back around to see that the male guest who had wanted to speak to me had gone………….and I thought nothing more about it.

Well, bugger me with a pitchfork because later that evening, I get a call from the guest services manager who said that she had spoken to this male guest who said that I had been rude and refused to speak to him. Oh, joy……….oh, deep joy.

Of course, I wasn’t rude, I was in the middle of a sodding conversation and asked him politely and respectfully to please wait a moment. But the guest is always right even when they are wrong. I called and I apologised to him and explained the situation about the lost luggage but he didn’t seem too bothered because he had something far more important to ask me……….how much would it cost to get into Rome by train and if I had a copy of the timetable!

And I guess that is what it must be like for someone who is really, really famous. Ignore a fan and they are instant bastards……….a bit like I am now to this guest. If you want a sense of how it feels to be well known, try walking down Promenade naked. Or go to the Cucina del Capitano and demand some sushi. Or better still, sail on Disney wearing a t-shirt of Fun Ship Freddy wearing a hockey mask, holding an axe over Mickey Mouse…….I bet that would make you sodding well famous.

Time for today’s Q and A – off we go.

Darren Cascarino asked:

I too mourn the loss of the cigar bars as you wrote today in your blog. I have been a Carnival fan since I took my first cruise when I was 14 and here I am now at 28 years old still cruising and heading towards my platinum cruise on January 13. I am in awe of your blog and would love to smoke a cigar with you one day. I wondered what your favorite cigars are. I don’t get to smoke too many Cubans as they are hard to get but my first stop when we go to Cayman Island on our cruise will be Churchill’s Cigar shop to stock up. Why does Carnival not have Cuban cigars for sale on the ship because you are in international waters so I would think that is OK to do? Thanks, John, and hope we smoke a cigar one day together.

John says:
Hello Darren Cascarino,

It is great to start off today’s blog with a cigar question and I am glad that you are a fellow cigar lover. Let me answer the question about Cuban cigars first because it is an important question indeed. Even though we do sail in international waters, the current trade embargo with Cuba prohibits any company that operates in the USA from selling anything of Cuban origin. Now there may be ways around this but we do adhere to regulations and we don’t sell Cuban cigars on the ships. I am working to get a better selection of cigars as we really don’t have the best at the moment. As for my favourite………well they are:

  • Cohiba Robusto special edition 2000
  • Artoro Fuente Opus X Torpedo
  • Artoro Fuente Opus X Robusto
  • Monte Cristo Edmundo
  • Cohiba Siglo X1

Thanks, Darren, and I hope you will enjoy your cigar when you sail with us next and I also hope that one day we will get to smoke one together.

Best wishes.


Nick Hennessy asked:

A warm midwest hello to you, John. First, I would like to say that when I found out Stephanie Meads was retiring, I was deeply saddened as she was one of the highlights on our cruise on the Inspiration. With that being said, there was a young man on that boat that was phenominal at making everything so much fun. His name was TJ and he is from South Africa. He really showed me and my family what the Carnival Fun Ships where all about and even had the pleasure of running into him again on the Paradise where he was teaching new people to become great parts of the entertainment staff. With that being said, do you know if we would have the pleasure of being able to run into him again on our cruise in February on the Magic? If not, is there anyway that we would be able to send him a gift as part of our gratitude that me and my wife would like to express for all he did for me and my family? Thanks again and I’m really looking forward to the Behind the Fun tour on the Magic as I hear she is a wonderful ship.

John says:
Hello Nick Hennessy,

I was just speaking with my assistant Calvyn about TJ and then there you are praising him just as we were. He is currently on the Carnival Ecstasy and won’t be heading to the Carnival Magic but I will make sure that he sees your kind words and I know he will be thrilled. The Behind the Fun tour will be very special on the Carnival Magic and the huge bridge and the complexity of the engine control room are two of the highlights. I wish you a wonderful cruise and if there is anything else I can do for you, please do let me know.

Best wishes.


Simon Chang asked:

I have a big group of 28 people who will be going on the cruise ship Dream on 11/3/2013. WE MUST SIT TOGETHER!! I have no help from my travel agent and she told me that you are the only person who can get this done and she gave me your web address. What do I need to do to make sure this is done? My travel agent says she has all my bookings for my large group on booking number ****** but says Carnival is never granting that we will SIT TOGETHER. Can you make sure we do because we will all be very angry if this does not happen so mail me the confirmation so I can tell my large group that this is all in hand and that we are going to be SITTING TOGETHER.

Simon Chang
Toronto, Canada

John says:
Hello Simon Chang,

Your travel agent is not correct, I am afraid, because for the very most part, if your cabins are linked together, which in your case they are, the maître d’ will seat you in the same sitting and in the same area of the dining room. Now we obviously don’t have a table for 28 so you will be given three larger tables close by each other. I have also contacted the maître d’ on the ship to alert him that your group is coming and to be prepared so please do not worry. I wish you all a wonderful cruise and please let me know if there is anything else you need.

Best wishes.


Angela asked:
Hi John,

My husband and I are going on our fifth cruise this November to celebrate our 9th anniversary (fifth Carnival cruise in less than two years!) Can you tell we love Carnival? We have loved sailing and in the past have appreciated Carnival’s policy that allowed us to bring a bottle of champagne on board to celebrate with.

However, I have recently given up alcohol (for personal reasons), but still want to have something bubbly to toast with. Does Carnival allow non-alcoholic ciders (Like Martinellis) on board? If so, is there a restriction (as with the 1 bottle of wine/person)? Or is it OK to bring several bottles? Is there a corkage fee in the
main dining room? Please advise 🙂

Love reading your blog, and thanks for being, as always, bloody



John says:
hello Angela,

I can indeed see that you love Carnival and thanks so much for saying that and I thank you for your amazing loyalty. We don’t have any non-alcoholic ciders and we really should and I will add this to the beards’ list. There is a corkage charge of $10 to bring this to the dining room and please send me your cabin number the day before you sail if you have Facebook or as soon as possible here on the blog so I can send you something to go with your cider. Have the most wonderful time.

Best wishes.


Simon Asher asked:

Why does Carnival not pay their workers more money instead of relying on us, the passengers, to pay their salary? I just cruised on the Breeze and with a 12-day cruise my wife and I were charged $264 which is offensive. I took the tips off the credit card and paid the restaurant waiters and the cabin boy in cash but the amount I felt was worthy. I have no problem tipping but these rates are not justified by at least 50% based on today’s economy. I ask again, why does Carnival not pay their workers a decent salary and fleece the passengers instead?

John says:
Hello Simon Asher,

Firstly, let me say that I hope you had a great time here on the Carnival Breeze and then secondly, let me say that our suggested tipping amount of $11.50 per day per person is based on an industry standard and is for the most part level with most of the major cruise lines. We feel that this is justified and, of course, as you saw and took advantage of, we do allow our guests to remove gratuities if they feel that the service provided by the dining room team and the stateroom steward (the proper and polite term for cabin boy) is not as expected. I hope that the service you received did indeed meet or exceed your expectations and I thank you for giving them a gratuity in cash. I hope that explains it from our side and, most importantly, I hope you had a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes to you both.


Wanda Macateer asked:

Shame on Carnival for ruining my vacation by having a moron smoker on his balcony puffing death clouds of smoke my way. Smokers are vermin and why doesn’t Carnival do what all other cruise companies and hotels do and ban them for good?

John says:
Hello Wanda Macateer,

I am sorry to see how upset you are and I can understand that you didn’t like the fact that someone was smoking on their balcony. Actually, in our defence, I should say that no cruise line that I know of has banned smoking completely and Carnival’s recent smoking rules have made most of our ships non-smoking. We continue to try and make sure we limit the smoking areas but the rules do allow (with the exception of Cloud 9 Spa cabins) smoking on balconies. I do hope that you had a great time despite this and that when you look back, you will see how much you enjoyed the service and fun and that we will indeed see you again.

Best wishes.


Ricky Alexie asked:
Hi, John,

My wife and I are both Platinum guests. We just booked our 19th Carnival Cruise and our 7th cruse with The Music Highlights Band. We’ve heard that it is possible for crew members to visit cabins of guests and family members if it’s approved through Carnival prior to the actual cruise. What are the procedures to accomplish this? We would like the band to have permission to visit us in our cabin. We have been friends since our first cruise with them in 2010.

Please let me know how to get this approval.



John says:
Hello Ricky Alexie,

What a great band they are and I am thrilled that you will be sailing with them again. I have worked with them many times and truly enjoy their music and friendship. I am afraid we have very strict rules about crew visiting guest cabins which they can only do if they are direct family members as in wife, parents, etc. This means we are not able to give them permission to visit your cabin. I hope you have a wonderful time and may I also thank you for your loyalty and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.

Best wishes,


Charles Kinsman asked:

I was on the Ecstasy and I was told by Steve Cassel, the cruise director, that the ship was getting new shows and as I am returning to the ship for another cruise in October I wanted to know if this was the case and I would see the new shows. Can you confirm?!!!

John says:
Hello Charles Kinsman,

Steve Cassel was correct as the ship now has two new Playlist Production shows and the new HASBRO The Game Show as well. I am sure you will enjoy them all and I wish you a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes.


Ashley Carter asked:

I love your blog and was wondering why you have never written about the Costa Concordia sinking or if you have, I cannot find it. I love your writing style and would like to know what you think about this as the Concordia tragedy is part of my paper this term at UCLA. Thank you for your help and my family and I will be cruising with Carnival on the Splendor over the holidays and we are hoping you will be there too.



John says:
Hello Ashley,

I wish I could be with you on the Carnival Splendor but I have no doubt that you and your family will have the most wonderful time. Obviously, with legal proceedings still ongoing, I am unable to say all i want to regarding this awful and tragic event. I did write something a few months ago – here is the link. I wish you much success at university and thank you so much for the kind words.

Best wishes,


Mike asked:
Hey John,

I’ve sailed with you twice in the past, and I must say, it’s one of the best memories I have. I can’t wait to sail with you again. But anyways, I have a question. My fiancé and I were bouncing around ideas for our honeymoon either next year or the year after, so I suggested a Carnival cruise. Are there any shore excursions on any Carnival cruises where you can see sea turtles? As in, actually in the wild? I know there are a few dolphin swims, but I couldn’t find anything else.

Thanks for your time, John, and once again, you are the most amazing cruise director there is, thank you for the wonderful memories.



John says:
Hello Mike,

Thanks so much for those wonderful words and I hope one day we get to sail together again. Please have a look at canival.com and on the excursion page for Grand Cayman, you will find the tour called Turtles, Turtles and more Turtles and I think this will be exactly what you are both looking for. If you have any questions, please let me know and I wish you both a most fantastic cruise. If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.

Best wishes.


That’s all for today.

I have flown into and out of many airports around the world and my worst experiences have been at Charles de Bastard in Paris, being questioned by a Russian immigration lady dressed as a prostitute at St. Petersburg Airport and standing in line for 237 days at Immigration at Miami International. I have to admit, I am not a fan of Miami Airport. I don’t speak Spanish so that doesn’t help and the walk from the arrivals to the rent-a-car pick up point is accessible by what they call Las People Mover which is excellent except you have to walk uno soddingo mileo to get to Las People Mover. Anyway, they are working to improve things; I know this because there is a huge sign that tells you when you enter the airport. And Carnival is doing its bit to make things easier for those guests who are flying into Miami to take a cruise because we have recently opened a check-in desk there and this is how it will work.

Here’s how it works:

  • Guests retrieve their luggage at baggage claim and are directed to their corresponding check-in counter at terminal D or H (based on flight arrivals).
  • Guests check-in for their cruise, receive a Sail and Sign card and a boarding card that reads “Airport Express” (so that we can easily identify them when they arrive at the cruise terminal).
  • Guests who did not purchase our transportation service are given the option to purchase transfers to the pier during their check-in process.
  • All guests must take their luggage with them since we will not be “trucking” any bags to the pier at this time (we are reviewing this additional service for future).
  • When guests arrive at the pier, they are directed to our “Airport Express” security lane for a quick picture ID and Sail and Sign check. Then, they are off to embark pictures, A-Pass and boarding!

Hours of operation for airport check-in:
8:00am – 2:00pm

Based on flight arrivals, our last airport guests should be checked in between 2pm and 2:30pm (no later) to afford us enough time to get them to the pier to meet our departure.

This is a wonderful addition and it is already in full operation and proving to be most successful. Now the beards have asked me to mention that with 4,000 guests sailing here on the Carnival Breeze each cruise from Miami, that we do recommend to avoid lines and waiting time that as many guests as possible use this system so that you can avoid the check-in at the cruise terminal and head straight onto the ship. Please let me know if you have any questions about this and, personally, I think it is a great addition.

As you may know, Heidi and Kye were with me on the Carnival Breeze last cruise and after they left in Venice, I was feeling really down and expressed so here and on my Facebook page. I was though reminded just this past Monday just how lucky I am to see Kye as often as I do. Let me explain. One of the department heads here on the Carnival Breeze had his wife and his four year old and two year old children join the ship this past Barcelona. He has not seen them for five months as they live pretty much on the other side of the world.

I saw him last night and asked him how his family were and he looked a little sad and when I asked what was wrong, he told me that his four year old wouldn’t let him hold him or play with him……….because……. “he was a stranger.” How absolutely dreadful for him and I cannot imagine how he feels. I am sure things will get better for him as they spend time together but it really had me feeling both sad for my colleague but, selfishly, I felt happy that Kye always welcomes me with a running cuddle. It’s the love of my job that keeps me going and the knowledge that every penny I earn is for the girls. However……..if Kye wouldn’t let me cuddle her because she didn’t recognise me…….well……..I think that would be soul destroying.

Anyway, onwards and upwards. One of the constants this Carnival Breeze European season has been the Russians who have cruised here, over 4,000 of them, in fact. Last night, Calvyn and I met a beautiful young lady from Russia. She was at the RedFrog Pub and as it’s my job to talk to guests, I started to speak to this 20-year-old goddess with a bottom that she had obviously had purchased from Megan Fox.

As I walked around talking to guests, I said hello to her thinking that that Meganov Foxanov would tell me what a brilliant time she was having on the ship and that I made her laugh and would I like to come back to her cabin for some vodka and a look at her iron curtain.
But, alas, when I said hello, she obviously had no sodding clue who I was. Buggerov. She just stared at me and so I smiled and moved on. Now as I did a man appeared and sat next to her. He was Russian too, in his fifties and with a waistline that made mine look like Victoria Beckham’s. He kissed her full on the lips and as if to show Calvyn and me and I that she belonged to him………..he patted her on her Megan Fox like bottom and placed two huge martinis on their table. Bastardov.

He had a huge diamond ring on his finger and his watch was also covered in diamonds and was huge, so huge in fact that it probably had a dwarf living in it to move the hands around.
It is so easy to misjudge people. I am sure they are in love with each other and it would be wrong therefore for me to finish today’s blog by suggesting that later that night in their cabin, the “oohs and aahs” we’re being made by Meganov Foxanov fantasising about her next shopping trip and that new Cartier diamond necklace.

Yep, such is my life. The Russian fat bloke gets to spend the night drinking martinis and talking about reenacting chapter 7 of 50 Shades of Grey with Meganov Foxanov while this British fat bloke gets to have a diet Coke with Calvyn while talking about his love of Sweating to the Oldies with Richard Simmons.

Such is my life.


Your friend,


Comment Policy

Look, friends — there are a few things you should remember before you comment. The space below is for you to post your comments about the post I've just written above. Now, while I may not be able to reply to your comment below, I do sit in my underpants almost every morning and read everything that is here. So feel free to comment on the comments and then if someone wants to comment on the comment to the comment then go ahead as well. Please be courteous, unless the poster is French...........then you can say whatever you want.


  1. Hi John,

    with regards to Mike’s question about Sea Turtles I have this comment.

    They mentioned they wanted to see them in the wild. The Turtles, Turtles, and More Turtles excursion will bring them to the Cayman Turtle Farm. I’ve been there 3 times and it’s great, however I wonder if someone asking to see them in the wild would appreciate the ‘farm’. My concern is they may have a problem with the fact the farm is primarily raising the turtles for food. (they have a restaurant on location that sells Turtle soup for example).

    In any case, it’s a nice place to visit. Swimming in the salt-water ‘pond’ they have there with the turtles and other sea life is really cool. But just a warning to the naturists about the primary intent of the farm may go a long way with keeping folks from hassling the customer service desk. 🙂


  2. Rita Presnell says:

    Wanda Macateer….you are the lowest form of scum on this earth! You are vile and shoud never be allowed to interact with real humans!

    • JTC says:

      You know that the name Wanda Mac???? did not bring anything except this blog post on a google search or or even my people search. So she does not really exist in this world. Sounds like a Troll to me. Smokers will live on with/without people like her. Next time she should book a Spa Balcony (if she can swing it) otherwise she should not breath in….

    • Willey says:

      Yep, she is just one step above “old lady” presnell on the scale of human de-evolution.

    • Tim Kriebel MCPO USN Retired says:

      And you Wanda, are the same for spewing this vitriole!!!!!! Clean up your own act before castigating others…..

    • Tim Kriebel MCPO USN Retired says:

      Sorry, meant you Rita!!!!

    • Craig says:

      You’re interacting with him just fine and I am sure that you are human….there is no need to quite so serious.

  3. Koreena Ralston says:

    In regards to Angela’s question, I have the exact same one. I didn’t see the answer regarding the limits of bottle for non-alcoholic wine. Is it the same, or is it part of the 12-pack soda rule?

  4. Wanda Macateer,

    I’ve had it with people like you. Smokers are not “morons” or “vermin” as you say. It’s the VERY FEW radical non-smokers that think they rule the world. Most non-smokers coexist with smokers. They have family, friends and co-workers that they share their space with. So while your out on a balcony you are not going to get cancer from a wiff of smoke that has been already mixed with all that fresh air around you. Oh and don’t try to tell me you have no family or friends that smoke. If you do you must live a sheltered life. Now I’m going to rinse my bloody mouth out because I bit my tongue trying not to call you vile names as you did.

    • JTC says:

      Ed – Her name is really MUDGULE. Since she claim to be nice. So let me say it for you. Oh.. She not worth the time either…

    • Roger Tollerud says:

      Well said Big Ed–well said!
      Roger T

    • Willey says:

      No non-smokers hang out with smokers. They stink and it’s just plain embarrassing being seen in public with them.

      • Willey, well I guess you don’t have to many friends.

      • Craig says:

        Hey Willy,
        I did for many years….right up until Grandma Died at 78 years old. Some of us are just a little more tolerant of others and their habits. I am sure that you are perfect though and therefore would not understand.
        Have a nice day.

  5. Robert Lasoff says:

    Im on the Disney Fantasy this December on the Breeze in February get me a 2XL Funship Freddy Axes Mickey Mouse T-shirt or better yet Tank top & Ill wear it! lol

  6. Julie L says:

    This is in response to the non-smoker who complained about the person sending the death cloud her way. First let me say, I am a non-smoker,but what she is asking for is legalized discrimination. Second, maybe Carnival should set aside a ship for the non-smokers then the smoke wouldn’t bother them, oh wait(slapping my head)Carnival did that and it doesn’t exist anymore! Guess you are just going to have to put up with the smokers smoking in the spaces the PAID for!

  7. Dutchman says:

    OK, another deal that people will think they can board before VIP and that other deal. If this is done before embarkation starts they will not go right thru and board. This will be the 3rd group to board unless they get there after boarding started, you can’t be promising everybody they will be first.
    •When guests arrive at the pier, they are directed to our “Airport Express” security lane for a quick picture ID and Sail and Sign check. Then, they are off to embark pictures, A-Pass and boarding!

  8. Donna Ryan says:

    John a group of 10 will be sailing this Dec. 2nd on the Legend out of Tampa. This is the second cruise for 6 of them and 1st cruise for one couple. They are a little apprehensive about the large ship and getting lost on it, becomming sea sick, getting locked out of their room etc.
    My question is: Does the Legend have dining tables that will seat all 10 of us? If so how do I go about arranging this? I feel if they can see how relaxed my husband and I are that it will be easier for them to enjoy their cruise. We are all connected into my booking number of 560MH0.
    This will be my 10th cruise and the group is looking to me to make sure all goes smoothly. I think I will need a vacation after this cruise is over. Would love to be on the same Carnival ship as you someday.
    Thanks for leading me in the right direction.
    Donna Ryan

  9. Allan from Canada says:

    Hey Simon Chang,

    Please and thank you mean a lot in today’s world. LEARN how to USE them, at least we know you can use the SHIFT button…


    • Craig says:

      Hey, Yah….we are Canadian’s and we are suppose to be polite Damn IT!!!!!!

      Oops, Sorry about the Eh. 😉

      • cindy56 says:

        I was hoping that other fellow Canadians (Ontario) would reply to Simon Chang about not saying please and thank you to John. One thing I am always told by people from other countries (especially Americans) is how POLITE we Canadians are!! Thanks for setting him straight!

  10. Cruiser Dave says:

    Some thoughts on tonight’s blog:
    One, as a Canadian, I must apologize for Simon Chang’s SHOUTING. It was very unbecoming, and contrary to our character. He should learn the difference between MUST and PLEASE. And to threaten anger if he doesn’t get his way? Absurd.
    Second, with reference to the smoking on balconies, I would suggest that the beards seriously look at designating one side of the ship as smoking balconies, and the other side as non-smoking. That should satisfy all but the late bookers who cannot get their preference, but it would resolve most complaints like Wanda’s.
    Lastly, Simon Asher, who figured that carnival’s tipping scale was too generous, does not seem to realize that he shorted all the people behind the scenes who would have shared in the automatic tips. As such, he hurt the most needy people, and he placed a black mark against the records of the waitstaff and stewards. Shameful.

    • JTC says:

      Guess the Tipless guy never understood where all the money goes. He forgot the sheet washers, the bathroom attendants, the MDR staff (hostess,etc). And that he really underpaid for his cruise by not doing the auto gratuity charge. He is a HeartLess lame cruiser.

    • The smoking side will fill up first because those non-smokers that can coexist with smokers will want to be by their friends and family.

    • Craig says:

      Simon actually was complaining about the extra cost of the auto gratuity. He seems to think that Carnival should pay them more so that he can pay less. However, like many, he fails to understand that if Carnival paid the service staff ANY wage the cost of the cruise would go up and he would have to pay more anyway.
      Let’s just say what really happened….Simon is cheap and used this as an excuse to be cheap. Simon, just pay the gratuity, smile and have a good cruise.

  11. Kathy G says:

    Dear John,

    Imagine my dismay, when I read that 28 very rude people will be on my sailing on the Carnival Dream Nov. 3! I am so very happy that I have YTD, because I wouldnt want to accidentally sneeze in their food….

    I have been remiss in thanking you and Steve for the wonderful surprises delivered to our cabins on the Sept. 1 sailing! So Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Please give a huge shout out to our wait staff, Vijay/Saw/Ramil for excellent service! We requested a table in their area every night. The YTD hostess was excellent as well. I will be requesting Vijay again in Nov. and will be excited to hear that he will be on that sailing!

    Our cabin steward, Maut, also took very good care of us and everyone called us by name! I really noticed how they made the effort to greet us by name each and every time!

    I also want to send a BIG thank you to the omelet chef, poolside on the Lido! He remembered my son-in-law every day! And he was always smiling and friendly!

    One thing I would like to mention is the lights on the balconies. We had a neighbor who would turn on their light and then leave the room, each and every night! I really wish there was a way to disable those lights at a certain time, or put them on a motion sensor or timer! I love to sit on my balcony and enjoy the sea and the stars at night. Of course this is hard to do with glaring lights next door. I wonder if anyone else feels this way?

    So again John, thank you to you and Steve and Carnival for another excellent cruise! The next 30 days cannot get here soon enough and then on Nov 3 if you could just stop the time for me that would be great!

    Your friend,

  12. I pictured the movie 2012 as you were describing the russian couple..funny how those things happen. I think the only older man I would be with would be Sean Connery, or Collin Firth! Those I could not turn down! So forget the fruit basket and just have one of them for me on my ship I will be the happiest carnival cruiser ever and will forever sing your praises to all I meet!

  13. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:


    I have to say that I do not understand people like Simon Asher. They complain about the Wait Staff (or cabin boy as that pompous arse called them) salary without doing 10 seconds of research to find out why … BEFORE they just stiff the crew.

    They just complain and use it as an excuse to prove what tourist scum they are by stiffing the crew half in this case ( or sadly ALL far to many times ) what they have EARNED.

    I doubt it will change Simon’s mindset, since those who can not afford to tip properly will just find another excuse, BUT there is a reason all the mass market cruise lines handle it this way. As I understand it, you are dealing with US tax law on a foreign flagged ship.

    What. Mr. “pompous ” is forgetting is that IF Carmival simply paid a straight wage, then our cruise costs would go up accordingly PLUS the cost of the tax implications.

    So why add additional cost to our cruise vacation just to pay extra taxes? That makes no sense. The way it is handled now, the wait staff get the SALARY they earned AND we get the lowest cruise cost possible. So it is a win win….

    The bottom line is that there is a simple way to just make their SALARY part of the cruise cost….just prepay them when you book the cruise.

    That way it is part of the cost of the cruise without any of the additional cost of US tax implications.

    But for the love of Pete…people need to .stop using these ignorant excuses to justify their stiffing the wait staff.

    If someone wants the privilege of cruising, then they need to accept the RESPONSIBILITY of paying the wait staff’s SALARY in the manner that is in place.

    Anyone who stiffs the wait staff are unreasonable cheap tourist scum that does not deserve the privilege of cruising.

    If you can’t afford to tip…..stay off a ship!

    Linda (Mom of your friend DJ)

    • Canuck Cruiser says:

      Just more bus riders Linda………….sad that they can’t see how harmful their behaviours have become. Glad I’m not sailing with them.

    • Well said Linda. I cannot understand how someone can take down a tip for service while they have been served hand and foot.

  14. C Zuinig says:

    Dear John:
    I wanted to get your opinion on this before my next cruise. After looking over the tipping policy and Simon Asher’s letter, I have decided to remove my tips and tip in cash.
    So that I don’t shortchange anyone, I am making use of the information regarding how tips are distributed.
    The $3.70 per day stateroom services is no problem. I see may cabin Stewart and his assistant and will be able to tip them directly.
    The $5.80 for dining room services is also not a problem as I will tip my waiter and his assistant directly.

    The $ 2.00 USD – Per Day Alternative Services: distributed to kitchen, entertainment, guest services and other hotel staff members may be a little more tricky. But, I have devised a plan.
    As this is a 7 night cruise, I will be bringing along $14 in quarters to hand out in increments equal to $2 per day. When I go to the Lido buffet I plan to seek out the following people that I figure have taken care of my dining:
    There is always someone behind the breakfast line taking care of the bacon and pancakes, etc. I will give that person a quarter every morning when I get my biscuits and bacon.
    Beverages: I figure 25 cents each time I go to breakfast or lunch and get a drink from the dispensers. I always see someone taking care of that so I will give them a quarter at breakfast and a quarter at lunch.
    Omelet station: This one is a little more tricky. This person is actually cooking my food at breakfast. I will give that person two quarters since I think they work harder than the person that just restocks the breads.
    Desserts: I only see the person cutting up the cakes and I will give that person two quarters each day at lunch and ask that they give the other quarter to the pastry chef.
    Waiters: I always see a waiter clearing plates and restocking the rolled up silverware. I will give that person 25 cents as well as they do a good job keeping the tables clean. (But if they take my plate before I’m done, no quarter for them. I may have to bring some dimes so they’ll know when they haven’t done a good job.)
    I am now up to $1.75 and the additional quarter to total $2.00 I will give to the person behind the sushi bar as I do enjoy the sushi every afternoon before dinner.
    I figure this is all fair and this way the $2 per day actually gets distributed to the proper people. As far as Guest Services go, I have never had occasion to talk to them. If I do, I will bring some extra quarters with me just in case.

    C. Zuinig

    • Cruiser dave says:

      Tipping the little guy – priceless. lol

    • dave j says:

      Why go through all that trouble, just let the ship personnel do it for you. By trying to tip everyone yourself, you will run out of time to enjoy your cruise.

  15. Greg Madrid says:


    I enjoy reading your blog and the various responses to people’s questions. I am cruising again on the elation on October 15th out of New Orleans. One of my high school friends and I are belatedly celebrating our 50th birthdays with this trip. Could you please assist us in getting chef’s table reservations if they are avaialable for this trip?

    We are in cabin E87. Thank you in advance for your help. Keep on blogging!


    • Cruiser dave says:

      You can’t expect a response in this forum. You need to ask for favours (spelled correctly) under the “Ask John” heading at the top right of his blog page.

  16. Linda Park says:

    Yep, another gem! Thanks John. 😉

  17. Stacy R McDanile says:

    John, hello. Quick question about the new check in at the Miami airport. I purchased the faster to fun is it going to be necessary now that you have the new airport check in? I don’t think I know need it.

  18. Ingo Rahn says:

    Hi John,

    Great blog… my wife and I are currently on the repositioning cruise for the Carnival Spirit (Hawaii to Sydney).

    This is our first Carnival cruise, having only cruised on Princess (elite members) together up until now, we’ve always wondered what a Carnival cruise would be like, and I’ve got to say we are loving it so far 🙂

    I only really have a couple complaints/requests/suggestions though…

    Firstly, what’s the deal with the (as Seth Buchwald so aptly called them) “pod people” in Serenity?! I’d heard that these cabana/pods are already all taken by 6am and these rude pricks will hog them for the rest of the day.

    I thought surely that couldn’t be, but I got up at 5am this morning to find out for myself, and already there were only 2 left with the other 4 or so taken… some people looked like they’d been camping out in them all night; In fact, I’d say some of these people must be sleeping there more than in their cabins… At least 2 of them had people sleeping in them!

    I’m recognizing the same people, in the same ones each day too!

    There really should be some kind of reservation system or sign in book (like with the towels etc) with a time limit (an hour or two?) … I mean, if the comedian starts putting jokes in his act about these pod people who live out there, never giving up their precious pod… well it’s pretty clear something needs to change to force these inconsiderate … people to get a grip.

    Sure I could have grabbed one of the last 2 remaining pods at 5 am… but, I guess… I’m just not that pathetic… not yet anyway 😉

    Who knows, by the end of the cruise, maybe I will be 🙁 … but one thing’s for sure I wouldn’t be that low as to hog one all day.

    That’s the end of that rant 😉

    My only other wish would be some better vegetarian dishes… I’m still a meat eater, but specially on these longer cruises, I like to have a few healthier days 😉 but the vegetarian lasagna I had in the dining room the other night was inedible… it was quite literally a mountain of melted cheese, with a few sheets of pasta, and even fewer vegetables hidden inside that cheese.

    I seriously tried, but couldn’t eat more than one fifth of it before feeling like I was going to hurl! And when asked by the wait staff how our meals were, and then telling them this, they responded with an “oh well” and walked off… nice…

    But to end on a positive note, while dining in the restaurant on princess is hands down much better in both service and food… I still prefer this cruise so far, as I can deal with taking care of things myself & the casual dining options have WAY more variety on carnival as well as better quality compared to princess… specially the pizza 😉

    By the way, the always available steak I had a couple nights before was great! … really tender & perfectly cooked.

    Also the entertainment on this cruise is SO much better than our last couple of princess cruises… the comics are awesome as are the singer’s in the stage shows etc.

    To sum up, would I cruise carnival again? most definitely! 🙂

  19. Bill Heck says:

    Dear John:

    Regarding the comment about the high auto tips on what was likely a 12 day cruise.

    All of the money comes from the guests. The End.

  20. Allan says:

    I was wondering if you can use the MIA airport check in if you were to fly in the day before your cruise boarding… My wife and I are booked on the Carnival Freedom (sailing from Fort Lauderdale) in April, and are planning to fly into Miami the day before our cruise departure. (Flights from Halifax to Miami are less expensive than Fort Lauderdale) So, would we be able to get our sail and sign cards and check in the day we arrive at the airport, then go to our hotel in Fort Lauderdale, and then proceed to the “Airport Express” security line at the cruise port the day of the cruise? Just wondering.

    • Rick Williamson says:

      Sounds like your not a VIFP and don’t want to stand in the long line to get your sail and sign card. I would think he will tell you no. You have to play the game like the rest of us. Besides what if you lose it before the next day?

  21. Craig says:

    It’s not just Meganov Foxanov that love the Rubles you know. Money might not buy happiness or love….but it will keep you from being alone.

  22. dave j says:

    In regards to all the jackwagons who remove their tips, STAY HOME! I not only pay the recommended tips, I usually give extra to the Cabin Steward and his assistant at the start of a cruise and it makes a big difference as far as when asking for certain things to be done. I also usually will hand out extra tips to bar staff members who have been fun and professional during my cruise. The cost of a cruise is very reasonable and so are the tipping charges, considering the excellant service provided.

    • Rick Williamson says:

      Dave I agree with you totally. In fact we just got off Glory this past Saturday 10/6. We had the best group of people serving us we have ever had period! And besides the Auto tip we gave them extra tips and a hand shake with a personal thanks for their service. It’s to bad some people are so cheap. They are most likely the ones under the old system that didn’t showup the last night at dinner. So they didn’t have to hand out the envlopes with the peoples tips in them also!

  23. Ernest & Colleen Ortenburg says:

    John, just returned from a 5 day Western on the Carnival Paradise. This was a very friendly crew on this ship, everyone greeted us as if we were long lost friends, we were very impressed.
    We would like to recognize a few of the crew: Abby who welcomed us who works in Club CC; Rahmat our room steward; Ionel waiter & Hernando asst. waiter, Kathy Lee, entertainment; Wayan at the deli; and Migle who was the Guest Service Mgr. All of these crew members went out of their way to make sure we had what we wanted. I figured that I would mention them as I probably won’t get a on line survey. The staff at the Shoppes also were very great and willing to talk to me.
    John, we will be with you on the October 25th sailing on the Breeze celebrating our 53rd anniversary. We sailed on the Bloggers 5, also celebrating our 50th which always falls on Halloween, if I remember right you found it quite funny for it falling on that day. Booking 289RJ1, we hope to meet both Heidi and Kye, if they are on the last European cruise with you.

    Also posted on Face Book!!!

  24. Marina says:

    John, I am on the Breeze right now, you’ve sent me such a nice gift, so I wanted to thank you million times, it made our wonderful cruise even better! I will for sure book another Carnival cruise again!

  25. Yagudin, Alex says:

    i join healdite 2013, i get kick out group. i give money for john heald and kid here? thank.

  26. Yagudin, Alex says:

    please delete my post its surprise i confused. thank.

  27. Mark W says:

    Dear John,

    You are the funniest cruise director on
    Carnival! My family and I are on the cruise with you on the Carnival Breeze and we are having a great time! This trip is special as we all live in different countries. I flew over from the US, my mom and brother flew over from Malaysia, and another brother from Australia. This is a rare 2nd reunion in a year. 

    A huge complement to the dining staff as the service provided is outstanding. We hope to enjoy more jokes from you before the end of the trip.


  28. Arizona cruisers says:

    We just returned from the Carnival Glory (our 13th CCL cruise) and I wanted to make a quick comment about ACD Matt Mitcham…he is AWESOME! We met him on the first night in the steakhouse…we had a problem with one of the dishes. Matt stopped by on his way out, since he had overheard, and wanted to make sure that we were happy with how this was handled (which we were). During the week we saw him everywhere and he always had a great smile and a few words for us. He is very enthusiastic, high energy, caring, and funny. It seemed that everyone on this cruise enjoyed Matt!

  29. Sam says:

    Just come across this blog. I am enjoying it immensely. Hoping to sail with you one day. Cheers

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