February 8, 2013 -

John Heald

Just a quick blog today because I have loads on Facebook to catch up on and this weekend I have to drive to Liverpool to film this TV show thing for the beards at Carnival UK. Now many of you from North America drive for days to get somewhere and have no problem doing so. Britain is a small country and it takes around seven hours to drive the length of the country from Lands End in England to John O Groates in Scotland. The drive from my home in Essex to Liverpool will take around five hours and I shall have to use the GPS system or “Sat Nav” as we call it here. That’s because here in the UK we have something you don’t have in America……… corners. I wonder sometimes with immense roads like I-95, why American cars bother being fitted with steering wheels.


Anyway, I digress, as I mentioned, I will have to use the GPS system in my car and the GPS system in my car is, quite frankly, as useful as a snooze button on a smoke detector. It is utterly hopeless and the female voice truly gets on my nerves and never ever does it get me to the destination I typed in the sodding thing. The more I got lost, the more she gets angry with me and I start imagining the female bossy, impatient slightly Germanic voice is, in fact, my wife. “In 100 meters, you are going to shut your window because I am freezing.” And: “I know you’re a man, but it’s been 45 minutes, why don’t you admit you’re lost?” And “If you fart again, you can get out and catch the bus” followed by……”I am going to insist you stop the car, then I will get out, slamming the door behind me, walk away and wait for you to come and apologise, even though you haven’t got the faintest sodding idea what the matter is.”


Let’s try and find today’s Q and A shall we………ahhhhh, here it is. Off we go.


Jean Laviolette says:
Hi John!
I’m trying to plan my Italian and steakhouse dining but don’t want to miss lobster night in the main dining room. I’m on the Carnival Breeze eight-night eastern Caribbean in March.


John heald says:
Hello Jean Laviolette,
The elegant nights on your cruise are on the Monday (first sea day) and the Friday so I hope this helps you plan your evenings at the Fahrenheit 555 and the Cucina del Capitano. Please let me know if I can help further and have a brilliant time.
Best wishes.


Joanna Duncan asks:
Just finished my first Bloggers Cruise. Wonderful! A shout out for Pierre who helped me personally at every turn. We watched him unload a sick passenger very late at night and show up for us at breakfast early the next morning. From showing me the closest bathroom, to making sure we had all we needed, he was wonderful. This was my sixth cruise with three different lines. I have never seen a staff member work so hard and smile so much! Tell the beards he needs a raise!! Also two wonderful sights — the zoo in Nassau where the flamingoes and peacocks roam freely and the flamingoes put on a show. Also, the Botanical Gardens in Tortola were beautiful and a wonderful walk around after too much sun at the beach! More should be said about the
non shore excursion sights. Loved the comedy club. Sometimes it was so full we couldn’t get back in for the next show. How about using the big theater. The last juggler in the big theater was fantastic! Loved it all!!


John says:
Hello Joanna Duncan,
I wanted to bring this review forward to the top of the pile because it mentions Pierre, the hotel director, who was such a brilliant support to me during BC6. I will be passing this to him and all your comments and I thank you for taking the time to write. I know the comedy club gets very busy and hopefully doing four or five performances allows many of the guests to see it but moving the shows to the main lounge would mean we lose the comedy club feel that the comedians and I think the guests enjoy. I am so glad you had fun and I hope we see you on BC7 for more of the same.
Best wishes.


Rita Schenk asks:
while on board the Carnival Magic with my granddaughter I made the mistake of letting her go to the Circle “C” club. One night I passed by the place where they were doing a disco party and heard the person in charge playing rap music and there seemed to be no control at all John on what the kids were doing. My granddaughter is 14, not 24, and I expected there would be more cultural activities and arts and crafts not something that involved provocative and sexual music. I am really upset about this and for the last three days of the cruise I did not allow my granddaughter to go there. Is this normal practice, John?


John says:
Hello Rita Schenk,
I am very sorry that this situation upset you and I am glad you have brought this to my attention so I can ease your concerns. Please know that the teen director is given very important guidelines on what is and is not allowed and they will always make sure that the teens are happy and safe. We have a whole variety of activities there and that does include a dance party. Now I have no understanding of today’s modern music but I can tell you that we will never play any music that contains bad language of any kind. So please do not worry, your granddaughter was I am sure having fun and I hope the next time you sail, you will allow her to go back to Circle C safe in the knowledge that she is secure and happy and dancing to music that her generation loves. Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.
Best wishes.


Alice and Jo asks:
Hi John:
We are a proud lesbian couple. We live in Piedmont, California, and are used to being part of a normal liberal society. But during our cruise with Carnival we were on the Carnival Elation and we saw that while gay men are entirely were accepted on the boat and gay women are not! The looks we got from the passengers and crew were looks of disgust. Lesbians, just like all your passengers come in all shapes and sizes. I wish Carnival would do what most of society by making sure that gay women are simply treated the same as every other passenger. This did not happen on the Carnival Elation!
Johns says:
Hello Alice and Jo,
I have to admit that I am confused by your post, Alice and Jo. We have a proud tradition of welcoming guests from all walks of life, including gay and lesbian couples, so please write me back and let me know specifically what the problem was so that we can explore this further. Rest assured that your experience is certainly not the norm here at Carnival and I do hope you had fun though on the cruise. Best wishes to you both and I look forward to hearing from you.


Ron Cassidy asks:
We are sailing on July 19 on a nine-day Med Cruise leaving from Barcelona and returning from Venice on July 28. My question is — we have a late evening flight that leaves Venice at 11:30 p.m. local time. Is there a means that we can store our luggage for a period of time so we can enjoy additional time in Venice once the ship leaves Venice? I don’t know if our luggage can be sent to the airlines prior to checking in, or if there is a place to store it dockside and pick
it up later before proceeding to the airport.


John says:
Hello Ron Cassidy,
I am afraid that all the guests have to disembark by 9 am at the end of the cruise but may I suggest that you head to the airport because they can leave your luggage there. This means you can store your luggage for a small charge and then come back after exploring Venice, check in and then fly home. I hope this helps answer your question and please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.
Best wishes.


Ralph Boulanger asks:
Hi John, can you tell me why Carnival does not have any policies on breast feeding? There should be rooms on the ship where the ladies can do this because seeing this on Lido at breakfast and other times was disgusting and none of the workers did anything when I complained. I am sure you would have other passengers agree with me on this.
Ralph Boulanger


John says:
Hello Ralph Boulanger,
I am sorry you were disturbed by this. I have myself seen ladies breast feeding and, mostly, I do not find this upsetting as they usually cover up while doing so. As far as I know we do not have a rule that says ladies cannot do this as I am sure other cruise lines, hotels and restaurants do not stop ladies from doing this either. I hope you had fun on your cruise and please let me know if you have any other concerns.
Best wishes.
Susan Kalinowski asks:
I just booked the Carnival Glory from Boston to Canada for July. I tried to add Faster to the Fun but was told it’s not available out of Boston. Do you think this might change and it will in fact be offered closer to sailing?


John says:
Hello Susan Kalinowski,
We have recently added more ships and home ports to this program and while I have no news yet for Boston, I will keep you informed here and on my Facebook page as well. I hope you have a great time and let me know, please, if you need anything.
Best wishes.


Molly Freeman asks:
Why are these so-called VIP platinum passengers so up on themselves? When did people stop cruising for the cruising experience itself and not the perks? My next cruise will be on the Carnival Glory and it will be my 38th cruise with Carnival and I keep coming back for the fun and the crew and the chance to relax from the day to day stresses of life. I wish others would do the same. Thanks, John, and keep up the great work.


John says:
Hello Molly Freeman,
I just wanted to thank you so very much for your amazing loyalty and I hope that we get to cruise together soon. Have a great time on the Carnival Glory and enjoy all of the Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades she recently received. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.
Best wishes.


Christine Ann Playdon asks:
Me and my DH are on the Dream on 3/23/13 and I need to know what the shows will be and what comedians are there. This will be our first vacation in three years as my husband has been involved in a new business venture and so it would be wonderful to have you get us a private table with no other passengers and by the window so we can enjoy the views. We both deserve this vacation and have chosen Carnival for it and if you can send us something to our cabin. We are in cabin 6288 and read your blog!


John says:
Hello Christine Ann Playdon,
Let me start by saying I have asked the maître d for a table for two for you and while I am sure this will be OK I can’t promise one by the window as all the window tables on the Dream class ships are the larger tables. However, I am sure we can seat you together so you can celebrate this much needed vacation. Here is your entertainment line-up:


Sat, Mar, 23


Welcome Aboard Show

dep @ 4pm

Sun, Mar, 24


Get Ready

Hal Spear/Sheila Kay


Mon, Mar, 25

at sea

Max Winfrey – juggler

Hal Spear/Sheila Kay

Tue, Mar, 26

St Thomas

The Street/

Deck Party


Wed, Mar, 27

St Maarten



Thu, Mar, 28

at sea

8 Mores Seconds/ Jimmy Hodge

JR McCollom/Craig Diamond

Fri, Mar, 29

at sea

Carnival Legends

JR McCollom/Craig Diamond


I hope you have a wonderful time and Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for choosing to spend this special vacation on a Carnival ship.
Best wishes.


Holly asks:
Carnival Sunshine — I am so excited about cruising on this ship after all the changes. Just like you did with the Carnival Liberty, will you be posting on YouTube, videos of transformation?


John says:
Hello Holly
Yes indeed, a series of videos are being produced that are scheduled to begin February 22 and promise to be something special. More news on that soon. She is going to be a great ship, for sure, and we are all very excited by her.
Best wishes.


And on that note, we will stop there and thank you all for your comments and questions.


There are many things in the world that when I see them, I can’t help but think why on God’s green earth would someone invent that and why do people actually use the sodding thing. Let me give you a couple of examples. Let’s start with the massage chairs that we had on some of the ships. Now they may still be there on some of the Fantasy-class ships and if they are there does anyone actually use them? All I can remember from when they were on board was when guests actually did use them they sat on Promenade deck in the big leather chair sitting straighter than a meer cat that has just swallowed a Viagra pill shaking like someone had attached their private parts to an electric fence. Most of the time, guests would sit in them and be too cheap to actually put coins in the slot and would use them just to……well……..sit. The upgrade of the massage chair is, of course, those horrendous massage things in shopping malls. Why do people think that putting their shopping bags down in the middle of the mall, shoving their head in a hole and allowing a 20-year-old man with most of Office Depot’s inventory stapled to his face to massage their neck and back while hundreds of shoppers walk by.


Sometimes we put things on our ships that we think will work and that after a few months we realise they don’t. Here is an example: We all love the piano bars and the brilliant fun and entertainment they bring. Well back on Carnival Destiny and Carnival Triumph in 1999 we tried something called Dueling Pianos. This was in conjunction with a company from Las Vegas and we turned the back lounge into a dueling piano bar. We brought in two grand pianos and put them back to back and then hired two professional dueling pianists to entertain there. The idea was for them to go against each other with songs and audience participation and, on paper, it sounded brilliant. It wasn’t!  I was the CD on the Carnival Triumph when we tried this and I don’t truly understand why it didn’t work. We certainly had two excellent entertainers there but their egos were hard to manage and they found living on a ship difficult. Also the piano bars are smaller and more personal and the back lounges’ theatre-style seating did not help either and so, in the end, we pulled the idea and went back to the piano bar style you all enjoy today. Dueling pianos didn’t work back then…………..I wonder if it would work now?


I have been talking about the Punchliner Comedy Brunch on Facebook recently and a few times have had to pour a huge bucket of ice cold water over some posts on you know where that suggested we had completely done away with lunch in the dining room. We haven’t obviously. Some of the ships have the Comedy Brunch which from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. serves a brilliant menu that includes breakfast items such as eggs Benedict and other breakfast traditions and one of my favourites “huevos rancheros”…………I love huevos rancheros and so does my assistant Calvyn. Oh and the little Yorkshire pudding things they serve as pre-meal bread are historic, do not miss them. The menu also has lunch items such as pasta, salmon, steak and much more so have we stopped serving lunch in the dining room?  Yeah, right, just like how we now offer guests free use of the slot machines in the casino. I have to admit that there are some inherent challenges of doing comedy while people are stuffing their faces full of bacon mac and cheese. The brunch is fantastic and the comment card scores we receive on this backs that statement up completely but what do you think about the comedy aspect? Do you appreciate it, do you enjoy it? Let me know, please.


Later today I have a conference call with all the cruise directors and the beards. One of the subjects we will discuss is an immediate refresh of our program for the 18- to 20-year-olds. At the moment we really don’t have anything specific for this age group but that’s not for want of trying but we need to try harder for sure. This is a difficult age group to entertain as they tend to come in two types. Some spend spring break catching syphilis on a beach in Cancun. But some are shy and need us to help them make new friends and have fun and that’s why we are working on this and I will let you know what we decide to do because, as I said, we really need to improve here.


Talking of spring break there is still some misconception that our ships are some sort of mini Daytona Beach. OK, go back 20 or 30 years when we had no age restrictions in the cabins and our security team consisted of a chap called Jose and a Paul Shark-wearing junior officer called Rocco then yes, it was ummmm……….interesting. These days, spring break is completely different.  Granted there are a few people with names like Britney and Summer who drink too much and that’s actually not a bad thing because we don’t see them again until mid-week as they hibernate under the Carnival Comfort Bed duvet promising, “I will never drink again.” I don’t know how some of these young people afford the cruise though and some seem to be from a less privileged background and have decided to spend the family money on a cruise. This means that there is no money left over to buy the boys new pants that fit so they were wearing Dad’s instead which meant that their underpants are in full view at all times.


Still, I know how they feel. I come from a poor family and my parents could not afford a school uniform so they bought my school uniform from an Army surplus store. This meant between the ages of seven and 12, I went to school dressed as a Japanese admiral. We couldn’t afford laxatives either. If my sister or I were constipated, my mother would sit us on the toilet and tell us ghost stories. Those two jokes were from the joke book of the much-missed and brilliantly funny Carnival kilt-wearing cruise director, Malcolm Kennedy.


Anyway, we will work harder on the 18- to 20-year-old age group and more on that soon. Oh by the way, is it just me or is it difficult for you as well to tell how old kids are these days. When I meet a kid on board, I have no idea if they are 18 or 11. Do they read Harry Potter books or 50 Shades of Grey? And what’s with the way kids dance, grinding and twisting like that at just 14 years of age? The only time I moved like that when I was 14 was when my sister Suzanne put itching powder in my underpants.


And, on that note, I need to crack on as I have a busy day and then off I go to Liverpool where no doubt, I will get lost trying to find the city itself, the hotel and the TV studio. As I mentioned the GPS system in my car is crap and, as I am a man, there is no way I am going to pull over and ask someone for directions because this would imply that I am as thick and that they are more intelligent than me.


Women, on the other hand, will always ask for directions just as they will always read the instruction manual that comes with any electrical appliance. Forget the, “We just want to be held after having rumpy pumpy,” it’s asking for directions and reading instructions that make them so very different. I expect even Oprah Winfrey can be found lying on her stomach in front of her TiVo thingy recording device with the manual ensuring that when she gets back from making Lance Armstrong cry, she will have recorded Jersey Shore, Family Guy and the Jerry Springer show to see if Pete really did marry his own sister, Lucinda.



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.