January 7, 2013 -

John Heald

Social media can be a minefield that, if you are not careful, will blow your bollocks off. For many people, sites like Facebook are all about simply finding someone you had rumpy pumpy with 10 years ago and contacting her asking if there is a chance that you do so again.

But when you have thousands of readers, as I am privileged to have, then it becomes a place where you need to be ready to dodge the slings and arrows thrown at you by people who have a different opinion than yours. Last week, I wrote that I wondered if it would not make sense to make buying semi-automatic rifles and thousands of bullets more difficult so that the slaughter of innocents would not be such a regular occurrence. I didn’t suggest that guns be banned because I don’t believe that but the mere suggestion that they be more difficult to buy, had some of you foaming at the mouth demanding I be fired and sent to a French prison where I would become Jean Pierre’s La Bitch.

It seems though that I am not alone because I have been reading about my fellow Brit, Mr. Piers Morgan, who, from what I understand, has thousands of Americans demanding he be deported. Apparently, during his CNN show, he insulted American gun owners and is now as popular as a genital wart. I was talking to a colleague in Miami about this over the weekend and I was surprised to hear him tell me that, “Piers was rude and that it wasn’t what the American’s expected of a nice British bloke.”

This got me thinking about my own position both as a social media chap for Carnival and, of course, as a cruise director. I am very much aware that I get away with stepping over the line here and on stage because I am British and the “British sense of humour” is, in many ways, a bit of a license to extra cheeky and a little ummm………..well………….off colour. It’s not for everyone, obviously, and often when I speak to people on the ships or read posts here or on Facebook from people who don’t like my humour, it is mentioned that being British, I should be polite and drink my tea with my little finger sticking in the air.

There are some Americans who think we Brits are all perfectly-mannered like a character out of Downtown Abbey. Then along came Simon Bowell……sorry……..Cowell, opened the door for the speak your mind in your face Brit and Gordon Ramsay followed, telling restaurant owners across America that they were total bastards and their Beef Wellington tasted like f*****g h*****t. So while we want Americans to love Mr. Shakespeare and Mrs. Dame Judi Dench, we also want them to love Ricky Gervais and Eddie Izzard.

However, as for Piers……well that’s a different story. I read an interview about the problems caused by what he had said, and his reply was that he “Would much rather you hated me than ignored him.” Personally…………. I have no difficulty in doing both.

Time for some Q and A……………… we go.

Sean Ledger asked:
I was very disappointed that on my cruise on Carnival Valor I had to pay $95 to see the bridge. My son was with me and had graduated top of his class from Arbor High School and as a reward, I wanted him to see the bridge as he is considering a career in the U.S. Navy. I was rudely told by the front desk people that I had to pay for this and there were no exceptions. Why can Royal Caribbean have free daily visits to the bridge and Carnival does not? You let my son down and he left the ship deflated and disappointed and so did all our party!

John says:
Hello Sean Ledger,

Thank you for taking the time to post this and tell me of your frustrations so that I have the chance to reply and hopefully explain. I cannot comment about other cruise lines but Carnival does not have daily random visits to the bridge or indeed other sensitive areas of the ship. The Behind the Fun Tour does have a charge but it gives 16 people a chance to see the bridge, the engine control room and other “crew only” areas. They are accompanied by ship’s staff and security personnel and, it is at the moment, the only way we can offer visits to the bridge and the staff you spoke to were simply stating the current fleetwide rules. So my apologies that your son was not able to see the bridge but my congratulations to him on his graduation and I wish him much success in the future. I also hope you all had a wonderful cruise.
Best wishes.

Jill Ackfeld asked:
Hi John!

We just got off the 11/25/12 sailing of Carnival Conquest this past Sunday and cannot say enough great things about this ship!!! The 2.0 upgrades are AMAZING! I am not a huge fan of burgers but I HAD to pig out on at least two Guy’s burgers a day! 🙂

I had to write specifically to tell you how awesome our dining room (Monet) waiters, I Putu and Vladimir, are! They worked so hard to make us feel like we were their only table and treated us so special! We have a two-year-old (three in January) daughter (as well as a 15-year-old son) and every night I Putu would take time out to hand feed her the majority of her dessert treating her like the little Princess we think she is. 🙂 He also included her in the dances most nights which she LOVED! She is still asking me to sing the “Low, Low, Low song” 15 times a day! LOL! We would love for them to be recognized for their OUTSTANDING service!!

I also have to tell you, regarding dinner that we had an extra special treat in that SANTA was sailing with us this trip and was seated at the table right next to ours!!! Lilly (our two-year-old) was SO EXCITED! This was also the first cruise (out of three with her) that thanks to Santa we were able to all stay at dinner through the entire meal together and my darling husband didn’t have to leave with her in the middle of the meal because of her behavior. Santa was a FABULOUS incentive!! LOL!!

I also want to brag on our wonderful room steward, Randy. We participate in the “Elf on a Shelf” tradition every year at Christmas time. We brought our “Buddy the Elf” along on the trip with us and on the first night explained him to Randy. He was eager and excited to help us out with him. 🙂 Every night when we came back to our cabin after dinner, he had done something new with “Buddy” for Lilly to find and be surprised with. She quickly caught on to the game and would run into our cabin squealing excitedly after dinner each night. 🙂 So a special thank you to Randy for helping us build memories that will last a lifetime. 🙂

And finally, I have a question… My husband, daughter and I got interviewed on the first elegant night and my niece was in the first episode, my nephew in the second and my sister in the third of Hasbro the Game Show. So we all REALLY wanted to buy the video from the week but got so busy with all the wonderful activities that we all forgot to stop by the Shore Excursion desk and purchase it. 🙁 Is there ANY way to purchase it now?? It would be FABULOUS if we could!!

Thank you so much for all you do! We can’t wait for our next cruise which will hopefully be the 9/28/13 Breeze sailing…my birthday!! 🙂 Blessings to you and your family!

John says:
Hello Jill Ackfield,

What a brilliant review and a huge thank you to you for taking the time to write. I know that many others reading this will have enjoyed it as well, especially for those who will be cruising on the Carnival Conquest this year. I promise to make sure that all the people you mentioned see your kind words of praise and I know just how proud they will be. I did check with the ship but I am sorry to say that they no longer have copies of the voyage. I am so sorry about that. So I hope we see you again soon and if there is anything you need before you sail again, please let me know.
Best wishes to all.

Robert Galitz And Timothy Haas from Tampa asked:

We sailed with you and Heidi in 2006 and 2007 in the Mediterranean. Please extend our warm greetings to her. Just came off the Carnival Legend and loved it. What a fantastic ship. So much so, we have booked a suite on the 9/25 sailing to bring her back to the U.S. What an exciting itinerary. We are looking forward to spending a week in London beforehand. I see you will be spending a few months on the Carnival Legend during her time in Europe this summer. Will you be on this sailing also? Best wishes and Happy Holidays,
Robert and Tim 🙂

John says:
Hello Robert Galitz And Timothy Haas,

I am so glad you had such a wonderful time on the Carnival Legend and I will be there with you in the summer. It will be a wonderful voyage and maybe you will see Heidi again as well as she will be sailing with me. We both send you our best wishes and look forward to seeing you soon
Best wishes.

Wayne Amobie asked:
I am platinum with 14 cruises and cannot believe my eyes when I was given a piece of plastic reinforced glass as the gift to thank me for my 14 cruises and many thousands of dollars that I have spent to get me to VIP status!!!!!!!!!!!!1 A Tervis tumbler! RUFKM? Free internet, upgrade to a suite, those are what you get with other lines but you guys reward me with a plastic cup!

John says:
Hello Wayne Amobie,

This was a surprise for me to read because since we introduced the Tervis tumbler I have spoken to many guests on the ship in person and read comments here as well from our Platinum guests saying how much they enjoyed and appreciated this token of thanks. I am sorry you did not enjoy it. To avoid guests who cruise a lot each year from getting multiple gifts that are all the same we will change the gifts again in the coming months and I hope that you will enjoy the new one. Until then, I do thank you for your loyalty and I do hope you had a great time on your last cruise with us. By the way, the Tervis Tumblers really are excellent and very useful indeed. I hope you will agree. I am off to try and find out what RUFKM stands for.
Best wishes.

William Baines asked:
Hello John,

A few days ago I received the Facebook post from Carnival regarding the contest that Carnival is running. There were numerous replies from unhappy people in that you must be a resident of the U.S. to participate. This is not the only thing that non-U.S. citizens cannot participate in. The other program being the Carnival credit card and points system. You must also be a U.S. resident to obtain the card and collect miles or points. Not sure what can be done about the contest rules, but there are many cards around the world that I am certain Carnival could partner with the allow folks around the world who cruise to participate. I asked these same questions on the Carnival FB page and haven’t seen a reply. Perhaps you could look into it for myself and many others who also commented about being left out! I would also be curious to know how many non-U.S. citizens cruise Carnival each year? Thanks.

John says:
Hello Bill,

I know how frustrating this is and I have also seen others who feel the same. Please note that this is not a Carnival regulation but a regulation that comes from countries such as Canada and the UK that do not allow their citizens to enter online contests based out of the United States. There are reasons such as tax, age limits, etc. As for the points card, well, for now MasterCard, which offers the credit card, will not allow non-U.S. Citizens to apply. I know how disappointing this is and I hope one day we can get this resolved. Please let me know if you have any other questions.
Best wishes.

Norm asked:

I want to take this time to thank you so much for the blog. This is something that is new for me, but I am looking forward to perusing and learning more and more about Carnival. I am a VIFP member, and just this past week celebrated my 40th birthday on the Carnival Paradise. On my first cruise back in 1998, you were my cruise director on the Carnival Destiny. Being in customer service my whole life (well, since age 14), and currently working for the last 15 years as a funeral director, I’m a stickler for detail. I wanted to pass along how much I enjoyed every Carnival cruise I’ve been on, and wanted to recognize the job Steve Cassel did this past week. He was personable, organized, and talented. Steve is a credit to your organization.
Thank you again,

John says:
Hello Norm

Thanks for the email. Your profession reminds me of an old Vaudeville joke about funeral directors being the “last person to let you down.” It is with great pleasure that I read this comment about Steve Cassel who I consider to be a brilliant entertainer and who carries the mantel of one of our best cruise directors. I shall take great joy in sending him this wonderful comment which I thank you for taking the time to write. I am glad you are enjoying the blog and hope we see each other one day soon. Thanks for your loyalty and please let me know if I can help in anyway. Best wishes.

Debbie asked:
Why can’t I get an answer to my question? I was on hold with Carnival customer service for 15 minutes and when the lady came back she told me she didn’t know and hung up the phone. I was as mad as hell! I called again and was told to contact you so I had to register on this web page and waste time doing so. My question is on Carnival Splendor cruise to the Mexican ports, does the ship stay on California time as we have PRIVATE TOURS!!!!!! I hope the cruise will be better than the poor customer service I have gotten so far!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John says:
Hello Debbie

My apologies for the delay in my response and for you not getting an answer from our customer service department who I thank for putting you in touch with me so I can help you. The answer is that we remain on ship’s (LA) time until we dock in Puerto Vallarta and then move on our back after sailing. We then move one hour forward back to LA time after sailing from Cabo. Hope this helps you and again please accept my apologies for the late reply. Have a wonderful cruise
Best wishes.

Chuck Kiger asks:

Have yet to enjoy the pleasures of one of the Dream-class ships, but will be on the Carnival Breeze next year. I remember when the Dream came out, there was a lot of talk about the laser show with music on Lido. I don’t remember hearing/seeing anything about this with the Carnival Magic or Carnival Breeze, is this on those ships as well or did it get shelved?

P.S. – Just got off the Fantasy this week…..”Orlando Magic” was a trip!……he may be young, but I see an excellent cruise director in him for the future. Thanks.
Chuck Kiger

John says:
Hello Chuck Kiger,

The laser show was something we tried on the Carnival Dream and to be honest, it really didn’t work. We tried lots of different was to make the lasers more visible but it simply wasn’t to be so we have taken them off and have just decided not to bring them back I am afraid. The Carnival Breeze, though, will have lots to surprise and entertain you and so I wish you a great time there. I will also pass on your kind words for Orlando. Thanks again and let me know if you have any other questions.
Best wishes.

Mike Boyce asks:
Will you show the Super Bowl on the Carnival Liberty?

John says:
Hello Mike Boyce,

Yes indeed we will be and will have it on the big screen. There will be a special big game menu served on deck as well and it will make for a great evening. Enjoy the game and enjoy the cruise.
Best wishes.

Vee Gangley asked:
Hi John,

First, I must state I enjoy reading your posts/blog. Your writing style is humorous and often entertaining. You can’t please everyone with your style or approach to things, I wouldn’t suggest that you try. You are accommodating to those who send requests to you, including those with rude and demanding tones. I think people often forget that the requests that you grant within your power are not things that have to be done, but I believe you do it because you are a good sport and not just because these are things that people think they are entitled to receive from Carnival and you give it to them. I have a general question. This will be my fourth cruise on Carnival in February. I usually travel later in the year, but I will be traveling on the Carnival Breeze for my birthday and also for Valentine’s Day. Are there any special activities or differences in the menu in the main dining room for Valentine’s Day? I am trying to decide if I want to go to the steakhouse or the main dining room on this day. Thank you John, and keep on writing as you do!

John says:
Hello Vee Gangley,

I want to thank you so very much for the kind words at the start of your post. I do my best each day to help as many people as I can and provide a bit of cheeky fun n the process. Anyway, thanks again for the kind words and I am thrilled you are sailing again. We don’t have a special menu for Valentine’s Day but there will be a little gift for the ladies. I hope this helps you decide and if there is anything I can do for you please let me know. Thanks once again.
Best wishes.

That’s your lot for today.

There are some great cruises coming up and I thought I would share the itineraries with you and show you who will be entertaining them. Let’s start with the Carnival Splendor and her voyage to Hawaii.

Sat, Jan, 19 Long Beach Welcome Aboard Show dep @ 4.30pm
Sun, Jan, 20 at sea The Beat John DiCrosta/JeROME
Mon, Jan, 21 at sea MARCUS RAYMOND – comedy juggler John DiCrosta/JeROME
Tue, Jan, 22 at sea NED RIFKEN – singer
Wed, Jan, 23 at sea Guest Talent Show
Thu, Jan, 24 Hilo JERRY GOODSPEED – ventriloquist Merl Hobbs/Kim Harrison 10am-7pm
Fri, Jan, 25 Kona Greg Gleason – comedy magic Merl Hobbs/Kim Harrison 7am-8pm
Sat, Jan, 26 Maui Polynesian Show 8am-11pm
Sun, Jan, 27 Honolulu Activities/Dark Night 8am-overnight
Mon, Jan, 28 Honolulu JAC RENE – hypnotist overnight-3pm
Tue, Jan, 29 at sea Vroom Seth Buchwald/Stanley Ullman
Wed, Jan, 30 at sea Jerome Dabney – singer/entertainer Seth Buchwald/Stanley Ullman
Thu, Jan, 31 at sea Fiesta Latina
Fri, Feb, 01 at sea Carnival Legends
Sat, Feb, 02 Ensenada Activities 3pm-8pm

Speaking of Carnival Splendor, the ship will have to overnight in Puerto Vallarta for repairs after the seals on the propulsion shafts were damaged by some fishing nets. Of course, there are a few folks who have put on the tin foil hats and conspiracy theories abound. One or two of the comments I received are not worthy of posting because we, of course, are “covering something up,” even though we notified more than 3,500 guests and gave them the option of cancelling. Hardly any did. The long and short story is that the seals on the shafts were damaged and we need to be docked for two days for the underwater repairs to be completed. The end. Now if only there was a web site where the cruise ship conspiracy theorists could meet and plot and discuss their theories with other people who still live in their parents basement ………….. oh, hold on……………..there is!

Let’s move on to the bloggers cruise which I am very excited about. Here is the entertainment lineup and my thanks to the comedians who answered my personal call to come and entertain.

Sat, Jan, 19 Miami Welcome Aboard Show/Latin Nights dep @ 4pm
Sun, Jan, 20 at sea Latin Nights/Brits Al Ernst/Tommy Drake
Mon, Jan, 21 at sea Brits/Divas Al Ernst/Tommy Drake
Tue, Jan, 22 St. Thomas EDGE – juggler and comedian 7am-6pm
Wed, Jan, 23 Antiqua Guest Talent Show Deck Party 7am-6pm
Thu, Jan, 24 Tortola Hasbro/Hasbro Percy Crews/Mutzie 7am-3.30pm
Fri, Jan, 25 at sea Divas/Latin Nights Deck Party
Sat, Jan, 26 Nassau Hasbro/Divas/Brits Percy Crews/Mutzie 1pm-8pm

I will be hosting private Hasbro game shows for the bloggers which will be fun and thanks to the ship’s CD Butch who is allowing me to perform my marriage show to the entire ship. Other bloggers activities will include a private morning show with Calvyn and me, private tea times, cigars under the stars and lots of other surprises.

Finally here is Carnival Destiny’s trans-Atlantic voyage at the end of which of course………….she will become the Carnival Sunshine.

Mon, Feb, 04 Miami Welcome Aboard Show dep @ 4pm
Tue, Feb, 05 at sea Voila Paris KARAOKE
Wed, Feb, 06 at sea TOMMY DRAKE – JUGGLING SHOW Lance Montalto/Mark Evans
Thu, Feb, 07 at sea Peter Gross – Comedy Magic Lance Montalto/Mark Evans
Fri, Feb, 08 at sea Guest Entertainer TBA KARAOKE
Sat, Feb, 09 at sea Rudy Lowe – Singer HALF WAY DECK PARTY
Sun, Feb, 10 at sea Larry Omaha – Comic Larry Omaha/Tommy Drake
Mon, Feb, 11 at sea Guest Talent Show KARAOKE
Tue, Feb, 12 at sea Nightclub Express Larry Omaha/Tommy Drake
Wed, Feb, 13 at sea Peter Gross – Hypnotist We Made it Deck Party
Thu, Feb, 14 Malaga SP VARIETY ACT TBA 10am – 6pm
Fri, Feb, 15 at sea VARIETY ACT TBA
Sat, Feb, 16 Barcelona Dark Night/Activities 8am – 5pm
Sun, Feb, 17 at sea Emily Reed
Mon, Feb, 18 Livorno IT VARIETY ACT TBA 7am – 7pm
Tue, Feb, 19 ROME Deck Party 7am – 8pm
Wed, Feb, 20 at sea VARIETY ACT TBA Comic #6/Comic#7 R Rated
Thu, Feb, 21 at sea John Lorry – COMEDIAN Comic #6/Comic#7 R Rated
Fri, Feb, 22 Venice 8am

The TBA entertainers will be filled this week through the entertainment agency we use in the UK and who provided the brilliant acts this past season on Carnival Breeze. I will let you know who they are soon. For those who love sea days, there are nine of them in a row and I know that the CD Noonan and will make sure there is lots to do and that fun will be had by all.

I am not French. I don’t smoke 100 cigarettes a day accompanied by as many coffees or own a small annoying dog that is allowed to crap anywhere it wants with the owner having no intention of clearing it up, I use deodorant and understand the word soap and oh, yes…….I pride myself on being polite. Clearly, I am going to have my work cut out if I ever want to live the Frogdom lifestyle. One other aspect of French life I do not partake in is the enjoyment of nibbling on some snails which after all are slugs without the shell. Yep, escargot, so many people love them and in the dining rooms on our ships they are a popular order indeed. So then it is with sadness that lovers of the little slimy bastards that I have to tell you that due to more terrible droughts in Indonesia where they are sourced from, Carnival and other major cruise lines have had to take it off the menu for now. We have enough for our steakhouses but not enough for the hundreds of orders per week across the fleet. Now our Fleet Executive Chef Peter tells me a new source is on its way, and before the end of the month, it will be available on all ships again. I am sure that will please many to know that escargot will be back soon and you will be sitting in the dining room enjoying a portion of snails topped with garlic so you will indeed for that moment be as French as the Eifel Tower. I have only had escargot once. It was many years ago during my last ever trip to France. I tried them and hated them although knowing I was English, I am sure that Pierre, the waiter, replaced the snails with strips of sheep testicle.

I am preparing for the bloggers cruise and my return to the Carnival Breeze and meanwhile my daughter Kye has gone back to preschool. I have grown used to her being around the house over the holidays and wow, she really is growing up fast. This morning she asked me “Where do the stars go during the day?” And my answer of “Ummmm………ummmmm………..they go to sleep” probably wasn’t the right one. But as she grows up, there are many questions I dread far more than that. Not least: “Mummy, why was Dadda on his computer looking at ladies with no clothes on?”

Obviously there are some questions Kye will ask that have no satisfactory explanation: “Why do people eat snails?” for instance, and “Who’s Piers Morgan?”

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.