April 12, 2013 -

John Heald

So Zoe is staying. This was the news that greeted me when we met last night and I must say that I was both happy and surprised. Happy that she had decided not to take the long flight home from Bermuda to Florida but, instead, would be staying with us here on the Carnival Legend.

Zoe and I met for coffee yesterday afternoon and we had a conversation that really tugged at my heartstrings and at one point, this big chubby 48-year-old cruise director had leaky eyes. As you may have read in my blog on Wednesday, Zoe lost her husband some months ago and just before he died, they had booked this trans-Atlantic cruise. She had tried to have other family members sail but due to various constraints, they could not join her and here then she was, alone and so very sad and regretting her decision to cruise on her own.


So, there we sat, on Deck 2 forward, a skimmed milk cappuccino for me and a green tea for Zoe and for the next 20 minutes, she opened up to me and told me about her sadness and I will see if I can do what she said, justice. I know I can write about underpants and bottoms but I am not sure I can even come close to writing about the hurt Zoe still feels. Oh, and I do so with her permission, of course.


When someone you love passes away, Zoe explained, what you forget is the sound of their voice. Their image you can still see in photos, but the conversation has stopped. They can’t hear you, and you long to hear them. Zoe said goodbye to her husband Keith as he headed out of the door to ride his beloved Harley Davidson to visit a friend, Zoe drove to work. This ordinary family parting was their last. Aged just 53, he was killed driving the motorbike he loved so much. He was rushed to hospital that morning but, sadly, he never regained consciousness. Her routine day at work was interrupted by a summons to the hospital where she had to make a decision about the death of the love of her life.


“I made him breakfast. We kissed goodbye, then he wasn’t there anymore,” Zoe told me. At the hospital she said she needed Keith, as never before, but he was gone. But, not completely gone. After an all-night vigil by his side in the ICU, she returned to their home, the same home that was now dark and empty and she sat waiting for her son to arrive from Tampa where he served as a police officer.


It was already a very emotional experience for both Zoe and me and, obviously, I was aware that many guests were walking around, some seeing me started to head over to say hello but mercifully they all saw and probably felt the seriousness of our conversation and so we were left alone and I continued to listen to Zoe speak. So there she sat, in the dark and eventually her son arrived and they cried together before heading back to the hospital where after discussions with the doctors and almost exactly 24 hours after she had said goodbye to Keith as he mounted his motorbike, she made the decision to turn off the machines that were keeping Keith alive and she held his hand as he peacefully slipped away. Zoe was crying as she told me this and, as I mentioned, so was I. I suggested to Zoe that we go somewhere more private than Promenade Deck 2, more for me than her if I am honest but as she wiped the tears away Zoe said, “Don’t worry about me, I’ve lost any sense of pride about crying in public.” It certainly wasn’t my place to tell her to “move on” because Zoe didn’t want that. No, moving away and gradually forgetting the person she most passionately wants to remember was not what was needed to be said.


And so not knowing what to say, I simply listened. But then I managed to change the subject to her reason for staying which is simple. The reason has a name, or names, actually, and they are Alice, Sandra, Loretta and Bernadette. These are the four widows who answered my unusual announcement for help and who have, these past two nights, welcomed Zoe to their dinner table and who yesterday played cards together, laughed at the silliness of Calvyn and my game show together and who in Bermuda today will be exploring the island………together. I am so thankful to these four angels who have taken a stranger into their group. Zoe is grateful to them beyond measure and told me that without them she would have been sitting on a plane heading back to her empty house. I am looking after them and with the help of my colleagues we are making sure they are unashamedly spoiled.


I wish I could do more for her and when the cruise is over and the next one starts and as the weeks progress, I will, I guess start to forget about Zoe. I truly hope though that she will take these days on board as the springboard to making the grief just that little bit easier to handle and I live in hope that these four wonderful ladies will get her smiling again. I hope that she will be able to carry on with life, to enjoy things and maybe…… even to learn to laugh again. And thanks to four ladies who she met on a Carnival cruise ship that might just happen.


Time to answer your questions, here we go.


Kirk Evans asks:
Hi John,
What is “bright star, bright star, bright star?” These words was repeated over and over again early one morning on our cruise on the Carnival Sensation and we never got to know what it was and what happened. Can you tell me please as it has been on my mind ever since. We had a great time and have booked again with Carnival, this time on the Carnival Conquest.
John says:
Hello Kirk Evans,
I am glad you had fun and enjoyed your cruise. The announcement “bright star” is to summon our medical team and our stretcher team to urgently respond and it means a guest or a crew member is in need of urgent assistance. I am unable to tell you anything else about the person who needed help but we hope don’t we that they are doing OK now. Thanks for asking and I hope you have a wonderful time on the Carnival Conquest.
Best wishes.


Debra Mace asks:
We are leaving on the Carnival Freedom on 6/9/13. One port is Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Most everything I read on Cruise Critic warns about the extremely aggressive vendors and downright frightening experience of visiting Ocho Rios. Why does Carnival continue to stop here if so many cruisers have said such awful things about this port? I’m scared to get off the ship now. Even ship run excursions to Dunns River Falls have the same remarks.
Please explain.
Thank you.
John says:
Hello Debra Mace,
Thank you for writing and let me start by saying Ocho Rios is beautiful and is one of my favourite ports. Please remember that Cruise Critic represents a tiny portion of people who cruise and while it is a worthy site it does not always represent the whole story. Each year the cruise industry, not just Carnival, sends hundreds of thousands of guests to Ocho Rios and none of the cruise lines, including Carnival, would do so unless we thought it was safe. Now I do suggest you take an excursion only because you will not have the hassle of trying to barter with a cab driver. You must see Dunn’s River Falls, it is amazing and you will regret it if you do not. Feeling that water gush over you as you climb up is sensational. The people of Jamaica are friendly, although they will try and sell you wooden carvings and other souvenirs from the street. Remember, reviews on web sites like Cruise Critic are opinions, not always based on facts, and the fact here is that Ocho Rios is a beautiful city with lots to see and do. The end. Have a great cruise and if you have any questions or concerns please let me know.
Best wishes.


Kelvin Hermann asks:
I know you get lots of complaints here about smoking and I have one too and it’s not the usual one. My DW and I had such a fantastic cruise on the Carnival Fantasy but the only thing that we hated was the table next to ours at dinner. There were two adult men who spent the a hole dinner spitting tobacco into paper cups. We were sitting 10 feet away but we could here the spitting noise and see them do it all the time. I should have said something and complained but I won’t because that is not what I do but I am surprised that the waiters did nothing to stop it. It is disgusting and I think Carnival should not allow this. That being said we did have a great cruise John, just saying that’s all
John says:
Hello Kelvin Hermann,
I agree 100 percent and I can tell you that having made sure with a few people first I can confirm that we do not allow this practice in the dining room. It may have been that the waiters did not know what they were doing as this is something they may not be culturally aware of. However, I apologise and I will make sure that a note is sent to all the ships letting them know that we do not allow chewing tobacco in the dining room. I am glad you had fun and I do hope we see you again very soon.
Best wishes.


Adam Painter asks:
I am in the process of planning a meet and greet for our Cruise Critic group on the cruise of 5/19 and, so far, we have 53 in our roll call. I heard you are dishing out door prizes and would like some for our group and, as I have no clue as to how to get this done would like you to tell me what to do. We want to have a private lounge on the sea day and were thinking of the piano bar at 2 pm. On our NCL Dawn meet and greet, the captain and all the senior officers attended and there were nibbles and treats. I read Carnival doesn’t do this and would like to know why because you should know that Carnival is considered to be at the bottom of the pile when Meet and Greets are talked about. My booking number is ****** and I can be contacted at ________ so please contact me with the information and confirmation so I can tell our group.
John says:
Hello Adam Painter,
Thank you for doing the work for your group and I am sure you will have fun meeting each other. I have contacted the ship and asked them to block a lounge on the day and at the time you requested. I cannot promise the piano bar but if it’s available you will be able to have it and if not an alternative location will be found. The CD will place the location in the “Have a great time” section of the Fun Times so you all know plus advise the group’s coordinator. While the captain won’t be able to attend, I did ask the cruise director to stop by if he is able and if he is not busy entertaining the other guests. I will provide you with two bottles of champagne and two of our trophies for raffle prizes, etc., but I am afraid that we won’t provide any snacks or refreshments. I wish you a wonderful cruise and if you have any other questions, please let me know.
Best wishes.


Nancy Sterner asks:
My husband and I are doing back-to-back on Carnival Sunshine 10/17/13 through 11/20/13. We would achieve Platinum status on the second cruise; however, since it is one continuous cruise, would Carnival grant that status upon boarding in Venice for the Med cruise?
John says:
Hello Nancy Sterner,

Thanks so much for writing and for your loyalty. I am sure you are looking forward to these two great cruises and you will receive your Platinum card and the benefits that go with it on the second voyage. I hope you will be watching later today on Facebook.com/carnival for the latest video of the Carnival Sunshine. I wish you a wonderful cruise and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.


Terrie Reuvers asks:
I see that our CD on the Carnival Conquest in October is Gary. I have been reading some not so good things about Gary and would like to get your take on it. We love the trivia games and such throughout the ship and heard that he did not have much of that sort of thing scheduled lately while he has been on the Conquest. Can you help with this? We really enjoy those types of activities instead of just sitting around the pool and hope we are not disappointed.
John says:
Hello Terrie Reuvers,
I wonder where you have been reading this because I have seen no negatives about Gary, only positives. It may sound like that’s an easy defence for me to say but it is the truth. I know him well and if you go ready to have fun that is exactly what he will give you and that is exactly what you will have. So get ready for a brilliant time and enjoy all the trivia contests and all the events and shows. Have a brilliant time.
Best wishes.


Pat McCall asks:
Hi John, I will be attempting to go on my first Carnival cruise since my horrible year last year. I was on the Bloggers 5 cruise, fell and broke my hip and had to be air lifted from Jamaica,
had surgery, then rehab. Unfortunately, two months after that, I was diagnosed with terminal stage 4 lung cancer. I had chemo and radiation, and now am in a remission stage, so I really hope it stays that way so I can go on the British Isles cruise on 9/13, which brings me (finally!) to my question. I know you had mentioned that you would be our cruise director, but when you posted the list of cruise directors, it had someone else listed for us. Will I be able to see you again if I make it to the British Isles cruise?
Thanks, John.
John says:
Hello Pat McCall,
I remember you well and remember how sad I was when you had to leave us. I am proud indeed that you are coming back to us and I will promise to be the CD for you. I will do my best to make sure this is the best cruise ever and I wish you health, happiness and fun. If there is anything I can do for you please let me know.
Best wishes and see you soon.


Mark Chappell asks:
We had gotten off the Breeze Jan 27, 2013. We LOVED the ship. I wondered if there was a problem with the stabilizers. It always seemed to roll side to side, even in calm waters. It was our 10th cruise with Carnival, and even did the trans-Atlantic with the Carnival Magic and never ever experienced this before on any ship. I was with a group of 17 and they asked the same question about the rolling. Thanks and have the next planed Jan 5, 2014 on the Legend. We love the Spirit-class ships.
John says:
Hello Mark Chappell,
I am so glad you had fun and, having checked, I can report that the stabilizers were all working fine and no problems reported. In calm waters, they are not out so I wonder if the swells were larger than they looked. The sea can be deceiving for sure and having spent six months on the ship, I must say I don’t remember feeling her move more than another ship. I am here on the Carnival Legend and I know you will have a brilliant time here. Please let me know if there is anything you need and thanks for taking the time to write.
Best wishes.


Steven Babb asks:
How do I find out what nationalities are represented by the crew of the Carnival Splendor sailing out of New York, NY on April, 23, 2013? I would like to have literature in various languages to communicate with them. Thanks for your time.
Steve Babb
John says:
Hello Steven Babb,
It is a great question and, currently, there are 41 different nationalities on the ship. They come from all over the world. The senior officers are Italian, American, Indian and Portuguese and the people who serve you will cover a huge demographic. They all though speak English and will all make sure you have a brilliant time. I hope this helps and please let me know if you have any other questions.
Best wishes.
Oscar Lopez asks:
can you tell me if there is a Latin band on the Carnival Valor. We cruise there in May and this will be important to me and my family.

John says:
Hello Oscar Lopez,
Yes indeed there is. The band is called Malao Tropical and I know you will enjoy them very much. Have a great time.
Best wishes.


And that’s all for today.


And so that’s about it for this blog and I will have a full-sized blog on Monday for you. The cruise is going well and the guests are having a brilliant time. As I sit here in my underpants I do so with a beautiful view of Bermuda and the guests are starting to go ashore. They won’t touch dry land for five days after this so I know they are going to enjoy every moment. There have been a few minor moans and most we were able to accommodate but so far, touch wood, this has been a wonderful crossing so far. One of the things that will help keep the guests happy is the weather and sea conditions which so far have been superb and I truly hope we get lucky and that this continues.


I have been working hard to be as visible as possible and have really enjoyed being on stage again – it is the part of the job I still love the most. The only thorn in my side has been and still is the lady I call Minnie………….here she is in action.


Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2013 5:50 PM
Subject: —–Unhappy with trivia questions and disturbed on Lido


Good evening John,


Would you kindly call Miss_______ who came back to the desk again today? Her comments are that the trivia questions for the 10:30pm TV trivia were wrong and that she should have won the prize. Miss_____ also says that she was disturbed from reading her book on Deck 9 fwd pool by the golf contest that was being held. Miss_____ is only wanting to speak to you John.

Thank you & Kind Regards,

Guest Services Associate , Carnival Legend

I tried to call her but she was out of her cabin and, honestly, I haven’t had the time to follow up on this and if I am honest……..I haven’t had the energy or desire to do so. I will have to though today as I am sure the fact that I haven’t spoken to her will only have made Miss Minnie even more upset.


But I am not going to concentrate on her but instead think about Zoe. You know, I have written some absolute rubbish during my time as a blogger. I have produced an awful lot of words that it would not have bothered anyone should you have not read them. Sometimes I read back my own writing and wonder if I should quit as a CD and blogger and retrain as a bar waiter. There are rewarding times though such as knowing we hit 16 million views last month and there are rewarding times as a CD, too, such as hearing a crowd raw with laughter at a bit of improv I have pulled out of my bottom and reading letters of praise here and on Facebook for crew members who have exceeded all expectations and given the guests the best of times.


And then there is Zoe who for now at least is OK and has started enjoying her time on board with her new friends. This makes me feel good and that is what will refuel me for later today when I speak to Miss Minnie. It’s not easy though, especially with Miss Minnie (ssshhhh, don’t tell anyone but I call her that because of the huge oversized bow she always has in her hair) as I know that whatever I do, she won’t be happy, it’s just the way it is.


I have to, though, be patient. I have to show compassion and I have to show I care and understand her latest barrage of complaints. I have to not be the fat, ugly, sarcastic cruise director and, instead, turn on my Julie McCoy button. But, surely, the world’s most famous cruise director lost it at least once. There has to be a lost episode of The Love Boat where Julie can be heard screaming, “Some of these folks are out of their mind! If I hear one more ridiculous complaint, I’m going to scream! Do you know how many games of shuffleboard and bridge I have organised?” And in the same vain as Minnie shouts at me for the third time this cruise, I will have to stop myself from thinking how it would feel to rip that huge purple bow from her head and tape it over her mouth.



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.

83 Responses to ZOE – PART 2

  1. sandra brooks says:

    John, I am so glad you cared enough to help Zoe. I am also glad she met the ladies who helped her when she needed someone who understood her pain. I have been married 40 years and can only imagine her pain. Bless you for your kindness.

  2. carl Rice says:

    John You are the best….

    My wife and I will always remember Our time with you on the Breeze, Blog. cruise 2012!!

    Carl And Sheila Rice

  3. Joyce says:

    John, thanks for sharing the latest on Zoe. As one who has lost a son, I know some of the greatest comfort has come from other bereaved parents. They have been there and understand how difficult, but necessary it is to go on with life. I’m grateful you were able to find four wonderful women to support her and indeed remind her that Keith would be so happy to know that she continued on what would have, hopefully, will be a memorable trip.
    As for Minnie, I can think of other uses for that hair bow, but let’s take the high road for now.

  4. Eve Sayers says:

    Dear John,

    I am a new follower and this story made me cry 🙁 You have a big heart and went way abover your job duties for this lady and its SO touching to me.There are still great people in this world and you are one of them! Just thought I would tell you that!

    PS…Like i said Im a new follower and I think your funny and love to read what you write..hope to cruise with you one day!!

  5. Jean Paul says:

    Just read the blog and you were not alone with the tears. Was very well written and expressed. Hope Zoe enjoys the rest of the trip a bit more with new friends. You are the best!!!

  6. Carol Hoefs says:

    John, Thank you for sharing Zoe’s story with us. You said there were four angels on board who helped Zoe when actually there was five. The fifth one being you. You made time to spend with her and you let her talk and share. John, you are a very kind hearted and supportive person.
    You say you won’t remember Zoe but I think she will always have a special place in your memories.
    Carol Hoefs

  7. Kimberly says:

    You know, I havent given the SUTA award in awhile…Minnie deserves it.
    I think a pleasant but firm “If you are having such a bad time, and this cruise isn’t for you, I suggest you depart and fly home today. Otherwise the complaints must stop unless they are of a nature that will harm you or others”

    It truly is amazing what some will complain about in this day of “Protect me and cater to me because I surely cant be expected to do it on my own” If you are wanting complete peace and quiet…got o your room. If you dont like the activities, dont do them. If you think you should have won…for Petes sake (pete being you John) be an adult about it..if you truly want a ship on a stick that badly I will send you one of mine!

  8. Dorinne says:

    John, you are wonderful for taking the time and effort to help Zoe. Those other ladies are angels for welcoming her into their group and helping her to enjoy the cruise. I hope this is the beginning of her being able to start enjoying life again. I’m so glad to hear they’re being spoiled, they all deserve it!

  9. Becky Smith says:

    Kudos to you John…and also to Alice, Sandra, Loretta and Bernadette. This was an awesome thing for you all to do for Zoe.

  10. beverly says:

    What a wonderful thing you did for Zoe and also kudos to the 4 ladies that welcomed her into their group. I am happy she is staying and hopefully will have some fun with her new friends.

  11. Mike says:

    Steve Babb needs to leave his literature at home. There are 41 nationalities that don’t care about whatever world problem or religious he want to prostalitize about.

  12. Anna says:

    Hi John,
    I am sailing on the Fantasy from Charleston next week. This is the first time on a “small” ship! Really looking forward to it!
    Sailed with you on the April 2009 Swine Flu cruise to San Fran. It still ranks as one ofd the best cruises ever!

  13. Sherry says:

    I think we have all had Zoe on our minds these last two days. So glad she chose to stay on board. Thank goodness for every Miss Minnie, there are many more angels like those four women who are providing comfort to Zoe! You are a very nice man.

  14. Niki says:

    This blog touched me so much. I could absolutely sympathize with Zoe’s horror when she got that phone call. I got a very similar call one morning in December 2009, 5 days after returning from our first Carnival cruise! My husband had sustained a severe traumatic brain injury in a work accident and I had to rush to the hospital ICU where they had flown him by helicopter. Fortunately, my story ends better than Zoe’s. After months in the hospital and several years of physical and cognitive rehab (which is still ongoing), my husband survived and we are going on our second cruise in November. However, reading Zoe’s story brought back the horror of that day like it was yesterday and my heart just aches for her.

    John, thank you for all you have done for Zoe this week. You could have so easily ignored that nagging feeling that something was wrong and Zoe would have flown home from the next port and nobody would have been the wiser. The kindness you showed her this week will always be remembered. You are a good person.

  15. Shanna says:

    John when we go on the Magic we wanted to take my uncle’s ashes and put them in the ocean. In a port is most likely easier. He passed away years ago and never got the dream of going on a Carniavl cruise with us. He wanted to so bad!On the ship would be great but I’m thinking it may be more of a hassel. Please just let me know your thoughts on this. Cheers John!

  16. Debra says:

    John, I am so happy for Zoe that she has changed her mind and decided to stay no matter how difficult it seemed prior to meeting her new life long friends. You on the other hand, had a brilliant idea and although you feel that this moment of Zoe will fade with you….my dear friend, it will never, for a piece has been planted in that huge heart of yours. You are a very compassionate man. God Bless You!

  17. Carol Hairston says:

    John – you will NEVER forget Zoe. This is one person that will stay with you for a long, long time. Thank you again for the person that you are and caring about your passengers. I also believe that asking if other widows were on board was the best thing you could have done to help Zoe. Again, this is why you are the Ambassador CD for Carnival. You truly have a heart and we appreciate you (and I do). I don’t know Zoe, but I want to thank you for her!

  18. Liza Voeltzel says:

    John, I am new to cruising (my first is on the Glory May 5) so I came across your blog in my research. I find it refreshingly candid and hilarious.

    But this story is one that brought tears to my eyes. As a newlywed, I can only imagine the pain that Zoe is going through and her struggle to make it through. Going on the cruise alone is something I could see myself doing in an attempt to honor my husband and make peace with a strange new life. Her struggle after being onboard alone is something I can also empathize with.

    The grace and kindness with which you have handled this painful situation is truly inspiring and I’m sure you’ve made an indelible and positive impact on her cruise and her life. Your memories may begin to fade, but I’m sure the memory of your generosity and kindness during this supremely difficult time will stay with her forever.

    If you speak to her again, please let her know that so many people are sending their thoughts and love to her and I hope that it might be some small comfort.

    This is a story that makes you appreciate all the beautiful moments and people we have been granted in this life. And to always always kiss our loved ones goodbye, as you can never truly know what lies ahead.

    Thank you so much for sharing,

  19. Peggy Dunbar says:

    What a wonderful man you are John. You have a biggest of hearts and you showed it to Zoe. Alone on a cruise because your ass of a husband refused to go with you can be a bit lonely even when traveling with friends but alone because your husband has passed away I can only imagine the pain she is in. How wonderful that she has new friends. Thank you for all you do 😀

  20. Shelley D'Anjou says:

    John, I just finished reading the latest on Zoe…I am so happy that she has stayed on the ship!! I told my husband the story of Zoe and we were both crying as I finished telling the story. We were both so touched by your thoughtfulness and of her 4 angels! God Bless you all for making one lady feel loved and cared for. You are an amazing Cruise Director and person!! My husband and I have gone on 2 cruises, both with Carnival and have been very blessed by the staff and the fellow passengers that we have encountered. We really enjoyed our last cruise on the Conquest from Feb 23 to Mar 3 2013.

  21. Jeanne Dembenski says:

    John…..one Zoe makes up for many “Minnies” We sailed on the Legend in September for our anniversary and loved it, know the transatlantic must be fantastic…someday. I have a feeling the five ladies will be fast friends by the end of the cruise and it is nice that they live close enough to keep in touch easily.

  22. JUDY SHARUM says:

    JOHN in reply to debras post aboutOcho Rios–wehave been there acouple times and take shore excursions. DUNNS falls is beautiful and so fun to actually climb up them! theres a village like outside them to browse nd buy things. IN town we were always told to stay around pier are walking. we felt safe walking to shops and only only nnoying was the beggars that line up on one side. another little village is there with margarettaville blasting its music and having fun. so tell her please-shes safe-no pushy vendors around pier only outskirts areas. all you say is NO THANKS and th leave you alone and on to next person.

  23. Terry S says:


    What a touching story about Zoe. I was glad to read that she decided to stay on board. I know you and the rest of the crew will make her cruise an exciting one. I truly feel sorry for you having to deal with Minnie. Sounds like there is nothing this persons likes to do but complain. Hang in their.

    Cheers & Regards,

  24. Dori says:

    Thank you for this wonderful blog! I really enjoy reading about your cruise (work) adventures. I will appreciate my cruise director more on my next cruise November 9th when we take the conquest to Puerto Rico.

  25. L Barnes says:

    John, I just want to say what a great job you are doing taking care of Zoe. You did what helped her most…you listened. I’m sure that meant so much to her just having that friend to talk to about what she has went through. It’s so awesome that her new friends have welcomed Zoe in with them with open arms. I truly hope Zoe will enjoy the rest of her cruise and now that she has some great new friends that maybe she can possibly join them on another cruise in the future. Thanks for giving us our Zoe update and hope to hear more about her soon. As far as Miss Minnie goes….I best not publish what I’m really thinking on here. I will say that I think she needs to stay home where apparently is maybe the only place she might be able to find an ounce of happiness….and really I even doubt she could find happiness there.

  26. cherylc says:

    Where are the West Coast 3 and 4-day Funtimes? I havent seen aything updated for a few years now!

  27. Ralph says:

    John, thanks for the update on Zoe. I’m so glad you were able to introduce her…. to 4 absolutely wonderful ladies!! I’m sure many readers of your blog would like to meet them… and thank them.. for the love, compassion and friendship they are showing Zoe!!

  28. Chris Wright-Steele says:

    John, I spoke to you on your blog about how my dad died when my mom was a young 43, he was only 45. Me, I was only 22 when he died from a tragic off-shore power boat race acciident. Now I”m 48 and still watch a video of him every year so I can hear his voice.Yes its true you get the visual image in your head, but I need the voice, that voice that reassured me my whole life that everything will be OK. I know where Zoe is coming from there! I’m so glad Zoe has decided to stay, and truly believe your actions and attentiveness to her are from a higher power! Thank you again for taking the time and effort to help her grieve AND move on by introducing her to other widows. There is strength in numbers and you just may have saved her life!

    As far as Minnie, these knid of people need to get a life, appreciate the things you have for you never know what tomorrow may take!

    Regards My Friend…..Chris

  29. Donna says:

    John, I have been reading your blog for at least two years and I think this is the first time you made me cry. Thank you for being you.

  30. Teresa Cooper says:

    Oh John, you made me cry and then made me laugh so hard! Carnival is so lucky you were a lousy bar tender. LOL

  31. Scott Lara says:


    My wife and I live in Jacksonville, Fl. We’ve heard the news reports regarding the Fascination. We have sailed on the Fascination many times and will continue to do so.

    Follow me on Twitter @scottlara1961

    Scott Lara

  32. Tom Bryant says:

    I am a pastor and hardly a week goes by that I don’t have to speak at a funeral or break bad news to someone or listen to a widow’s heart ache.
    You did exactly the right thing. There is nothing we can say that removes the heart break of losing a loved one. All friends can do is listen. What you did was perfect and because you took time out to spend with her, will mean more than you know!

  33. Fern says:

    “But I am not going to concentrate on her but instead think about Zoe. You know, I have written some absolute rubbish during my time as a blogger. I have produced an awful lot of words that it would not have bothered anyone should you have not read them. Sometimes I read back my own writing and wonder if I should quit as a CD and blogger and retrain as a bar waiter.”

    What you did for Zoe was just right. I’m sure she will remember how good you made her feel when she was “on the edge”.

    I hope we’ll be able to sail with you someday 🙂 !

  34. Aleece Bradd says:

    If you are reading this Pat, I am glad you are doing okay for now. We met pre-cruise at the hotel gathering for BC5 and I was sorry to hear you had to be airlifted from the ship. Enjoy your next cruise!

  35. Christine says:

    Thank you John, Alice, Sandra, Loretta and Bernadette for help Zoe through a difficult time in her life. I hope you all have a great time and a long lasting friendship 🙂

  36. Nicole Burns says:


    The story about Zoe has touched my heart tremendously. Promptly after reading about her story & how she lost her husband, I got up, ran to my own husband, hugged him tightly, & told him, “I love you.” It is a tragedy that Zoe has to now live her life with only the memories that she & her husband made together. I truly hope she finds peace & happiness.

    As for Miss Minnie, I get a kick out of her. However, I’m sure that you may want to just kick her in the pants. Unfortunately, so e people will be small, no matter their up bringing, no matter what the reason. Some people just don’t know how to have a good time, let the punches roll, & chill out. I, however, am having a fabulous time reading about her latest attempt to drive you to the brink of sanity, unfortunately for you.

    Thank you for all that you do & keeping us updated on the goings on of Carnival.

  37. Karen Youngberg says:

    Just read your post about Zoe and I can hardly see thru my tears. I am sure it was comforting and beneficial for her to be able to tell her story. Bless you for being there for her.
    Just one ?. Can you order room service via tv from the Splendor? Going on 5/9 and I have never, in all our 22 cruises on CCL, been able to order room service because I am deaf…so would be nice to be able to have one of those BLT’s everyone raves about. Course, if I can’t, I won’t go hungry!

  38. Luis R says:

    So glad the story about Zoe seems to be going for a happy ending. Happy as it can be with her situation.

    It never ceases to amaze me how some people in the infinite (lack of) wisdom have the guts of asking a favor while at the same time bashing whoever they are asking a favor. The correct reply to the request for the meet and greet should have been “bugger off”.

    I will venture to say that the latin band name is most likely Melao Tropical, not Malao.

  39. June Stevens says:

    John, you are the most caring wonderful man with a lovely way at looking at things. Thank you so much for taking Zoe under your wing and showing her a wonderful vacation. That’s just some more jewels in your crown! God bless! June

  40. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:


    Just wanted to let you know that Gary is a great CD.

    We started cruising with him when he was a Social Host and have sailed with him about 10 times

    Even review after review on Cruise Critic about Gary has been extremely positive. ( and as everyone knows, they don’t like anyone).

    In fact, we booked a cruise in May just to sail with him again!

  41. nick palermo says:

    Kudos to you John for what you have done for Zoe. All that good Karma will help you through the issues with “minnie” who sounds like a very unhappy soul.

    To Adam Painter, calling something bottom of the heap and then asking that entity to do something for you is about as counter-productive a statement as I can think of. and why are you sailing on the bottom of the heap, doesn’t seem to bright to me, then again after your letteer that should have been apparent.

  42. Pat Walters says:

    John, It has been so nice to read of your help with Zoe. I was in almost the same position on my last cruise. Thankfully, my son and his family changed their plans and cruised with me. My husband paid our cruise off on a Tuesday and passed away on Saturday. The great folks at customer care handled everything with the greatest decorum. It eased our trip as you have done with Zoe. Great job!

  43. Your last two blogs have made feel wonderful – Zoe but at the same time frustrating – Minnie. I’m so glad that you were able to make Zoe feel so much better as well as having four fantastic women to assist Zoe.
    As far as Minnie, just give that bit$# her money back and tell her to get the _____ off the ship. How much crap must you take from this crazy woman? If she’s so unhappy with what’s going on from this cruise, tell her to go on any other cruise ship other than Carnival since nothing seems to be good. I have no good feelings about a woman like Minnie who does nothing but complain. UGH! Sorry about that John but that’s how I feel at this moment. As fa as Zoe, you are an angel John. Have a great cruise my friend.

    Paul F. PIetrangelo

  44. Kathy says:

    John, that was just the sweetest thing you did for Zoe. I lost my husband of 52 years in Oct. We’d booked a cruise the August before he passed away. Since my daughter and son-in-law had also booked I didn’t feel like I could cancel. It was a very sad cruise but I know Bill would have wanted me to go. I was going to scatter his ashes on the cruise but just couldn’t do it at this time. Maybe on the next one. Again, thank you for caring even though it made me cry.

  45. Bonnie says:

    John-you are a ole softy sweetheart. I am sure you touched Zoe with you kind heart and words.
    That was so sweet to take the time to talk and listen to her-and even take your time to find her some cruising buddies. While I have never lost a spouse, I know from when my FIL passed away a lot of the time my mother in law just needed someone to talk to and lift her spirits for a little while.

    Thank you John for being the kind person you are.

  46. Randi says:

    Perhaps the Minnie’s of the world were never fortunate to have a compassionate person in their life and thus never learned compassion themselves. Miss Minnie now operates out of anger and depression and may never find her way out of her unfortunate cycle (without medical help!). It’s very sad really. On the other hand, miss Zoe is an individual who is open to the live of friends and family and she will be a survivor. In fact, I would bet she will be reaching out to others one day herself, repaying the kindness you all have shown her. So see, you have indeed made the world a better place the last few days. We should all use miss Zoe as an example and be kind to someone today.

  47. WCJ says:

    Good Evening John,
    The question about Jamaica Got me. We just was there Last December on the Valor. I have always wanted to go there since I was a Teen.(to tell the truth it was after I seen that other British Gentleman, Named James Bond as played by Sean Connery in Dr. No) Anyway after booking that trip because it was where I wanted to go, I started hearing all those horror stories about Jamaica. I was very worried wondering what in heck I got us into.
    Well after we visit there it has become My Wife,s favorite Port, Both as far as scenic and shopping goes. And we found the natives to be some of the friendliest people we have ever meant. Of course there will always be aggressive sales people, Most of their earnings come from Cruise Ship passengers, And their time is limited. But she keeps asking when we are going back.
    So just enjoy the port and of course as always be Safe.

  48. Jim Lanigan says:

    Hi John,

    We took a family cruise on the Magic on 2/24/2013. We had 20 friends and family members, 18 of which chose the early seating, while my wife and I chose YTD. We wanted to join them on the first elegant night but there was no extra space available. We left and went down to the lower level and got in line. 5 minutes later, the maitre d, Terrence, pulled us out of the line and took us to our family and friends. They made room for us. I can tell you that his commitment to his guests was very much appreciated. He did not have to do this for us and obviously went out of his way to do this for us. He made us feel special. I have been in the hospitality industry for 32 years and his actions show he truly cares about his guests. Cheers

  49. Tiffany Wasmer says:

    John, we have been so touched by your blot this week. You have been blessed with the gift of outreach and I’m so very glad you and Zoe found each other!
    We are currently onboard the Conquest and have loved Gary and George as well. You might have heard about our refugee rescue this afternoon… Gary kept us informed at every status change and did a magnificent job of still carrying on as normally as possible in this situation.
    As my first cruise comes to an end I must say that I have been impressed all around with the Carnival staff and can’t wait to cruise again 🙂

  50. Sue in Nebraska says:

    Your Zoe story brought tears to my eyes. You have done the right thing, and she will forever remember this trip, what you did for her, and I’m sure she has now made some lifelong friends. At first I thought, how sad that she and her husband planned this trip and could not take it together (which IS sad), but, then I thought, you know…she was MEANT to be on THIS particular cruise, not only to meet you who helped her during a very sad time, but also so that she met and made 4 new, very important friends in her life. Forget about Minnie….just keep Zoe in mind….that’s the important things in life!

  51. Joko Joan says:

    Dear John:
    I am one of many participating in a meet-and-greet (from you know where) on our 7/15 Baltic cruise on Carnival’s Legend. It boggles my mind of the charge of $20./pp for the 2-hr. meeting with dry snacks. When we had our M&G on our Holiday cruise on HAL’s Veendam there was no charge and it included finger foods. It seems like such a vast difference in policy especially when not everyone is a drinker….i was just curious….

  52. What we have here this week is an example of the power of the Legend Triangle as she sails through the Bermuda area. On one apex are the angels Alice, Sandra, Loretta and Bernadette on the other point is Zoe and the catalyst at the crown is our CD John.

    Everything happens for a reason, this particular one was John listening to his heart and helping a fellow traveller in need then reaching out to the angels to assist him in lifting a woman’s spirit.

    Kudos and big hugs to the angels, Zoe and John

    Good things do happen to all who sail on the Legend during her Transatlantic voyage.

    “Fair Winds and Following Seas”

  53. Jules says:

    RE:”When someone you love passes away, Zoe explained, what you forget is the sound of their voice. Their image you can still see in photos, but the conversation has stopped. They can’t hear you, and you long to hear them.”
    This for me is the saddest part, and one of the biggest frustrations for all people of all religions and creeds when going through the stages of grief. Yet I hope Zoe reads this or you guide her to appropriate reading that it is well known and experienced by many that the deceased spirits can hear us, and do try to contact us via smells, signs, picture frames going wonky, electrical gadgets going off etc. It’s just not regular conversation for fear of people thinking you are going nuts, only those who’ve experienced it will encourage you to talk to your lost loved one. Zoe will never know how lucky she is to have had that chance meeting with you, and the coincedence that you are the CD on her sad cruise – which in itself is a pure miracle. I first met you 20 years ago, and knew you in your early days of wooing Heidi, it is wonderful to see what an incredibe and sincere person you have become, yet remain so modest, humble and outrageously funny.

  54. capt Bill says:

    Hi John,
    I want to write to you to tell you how moving you last Blog was. First off as a person who has lost their spouse recently (around the same time as Zoe) I must tell you that you did the right thing, sitting there listening is sometimes the best medicine. It is not easy losing your best friend and companion suddenly, and sometimes it takes a while to get over it, and then there are others who move on faster. I am sure there are going to be people who will say she should have stayed home and mourned her husband….. never should have taken the cruise, but there are those of us like me who applaud Zoe for what she has done. I believe that you need to do what the other person would want you to do. I know in my case my wife would have told me to get my fat butt up the gang way and try to have fun on the cruise we planned, even though She could be there. I know Zoe’s husband is right beside her having fun and laughing with her… just as I know my wife Sonja is with me every day. We have to make the best of every day because you never know when it will end.

    Thanks again for being there for Zoe, and for the countless others who you have helped laugh and cry over the years. Thank you for being a friend. Yes a friend, as you are to everyone you meet. You make everyone feel at home (well most everyone, Mini excluded). Please don’t get discouraged when one of the FEW disrespect you….. you bring so much light into people lives, please continue to do what you do. And when you speak to Zoe again please pass along my sincere condolences and tell her to keep the faith that she is doing the right thing (I suspect that her new friends are already telling her that) and I will be following her on my own cruise that my wife and I have planned for years and I am going to take, because I would not want to disappoint her.

    Capt. Bill

  55. Judith says:

    I don’t think you Will forget Zoe… It’s such a special story. One to tell over and over again. Would only my mom met ladies like these four, i think it would have been a lot easier back in 2006 when she lost my dad (only 63 years old and leaving my mom a window at 56)… thank you John for charing!

  56. Richard Medlin says:

    Mr. Heald, Thank you for what you do, I do not mean the funny silly stuff although I do enjoy that as well. But the fact that you are willing and concerned enough to listen, and hear the pain of someone like Zoe, and then to act to try everything in your power to just make a little difference in someone life. To make them feel happt again even if just for a few minutes, until the pain hits again. You and crew members like yourself is what keeps us coming back to Carnival. I hope your day is blessed keep up the good work, Richard

  57. Dolly Masoner says:

    Loved the bands Love Souljaz and The Blackjack Band (both performing in Ocean plaza on different ships). They were one of the highlights of the cruise. Interaction with them was a great personal touch as opposed to the aloofness of the show band. They really made the trip much more enjoyable than it would have been without them. On the flip side we absolutely hated the main show in the theatre aboard the Breeze. Talked to many passengers about it and found no one who liked it.

  58. Eileene Plummer says:

    SO glad you helped Zoe decide to keep cruising, John – the distraction can only be healthy. I’m also glad I hadn’t put on my makeup yet when I read about her. 🙂

    As for Minnie, I just said a quick prayer that she starts seeing everything in a happier light. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that she’s the type who craves attention – so the more she gets, the more she’ll come back for. You’re a good man to put up with it, John.

  59. Presley says:

    Thank you for this blog. It was beautiful and needed right now. A friend of the family, who is only 49, had a massive stroke Wednesday night. He has a wife and 3 kids that are 18 and under. They will be ending his life support on Sunday if nothing changes. The compassion that you show for Zoe is amazing, and gives me hope there are still good people in the world. Thank you for all you do.

    • Ranjit Cordeiro says:

      Dear John (no pun intended)
      I am rawing with laughter, in the same vain. Are you using voice recognition or somebody educated in the US to type your blog. Please clarify.

  60. thank you john for what you did for our friends john n sue parlo. you are one good guy . hope some day to meet you .would like to buy you a drink .keep up the good work .bob n eileen migneco ps if you get time please tell john n sue that we miss them .

  61. Jo Ellen says:

    This is the best story EVER. I need a Zoe story fix. Please keep us updated on her journeys. I love a rescue story

  62. Pam Wagner says:

    I am so glad you updated Zoe’s story — it brought tears to my eyes. My husband and I have been married almost 42 years, dated for 4 years before that, so we’ve been together a long time. The older I get, the more I realize that one of us will be the first to go in the not so far-off future. Everyone, hold on to your loved ones — you don’t know when they will be taken from you! Hoping we can get a lot of cruising in before it happens!

  63. Patty Martin says:

    You have the biggest HEART in the world..NEVER CHANGE! So do those ladies!KUDOS TO ALL

  64. Patty Martin says:


  65. John says:

    Ocho Rios is a wonderful place to visit have never had any problems us just have to say no thank you. Looking forward to our next visit !

  66. Amanda Galli says:

    John, I have had the pleasure with sailing with you as the CD on two occasions, the first on Carnival Triumph in 2004 and the second on Carnival Liberty in 2007. I knew from these past experiences and from your blog that you are a very funny and entertaining man, but you’ve also shown with the kindness and consideration you’ve given to Zoe that you are a very compassionate man as well. Cheers, and God bless.

  67. Darlene says:

    I loved hearing about Zoe. It was so kind of you to listen to her when she needed someone. The ladies who took her into their group are just wonderful. It reminds me that there really are a lot of good people in this world.

  68. Giù Mancuso says:

    This Story started because you noticed this woman was alone and something sad was in her eyes..Sometimes we are instrument for something greater than us.She needed a friend to help her going on..and you have been that friend. I say you thanks because that day you could see this lady sad and go on with your job, but you didn’t. You’re not only a great man in your job..but in your life!

  69. Hank Brote says:

    God Bless you for the wonderful things you have done for Zoe. You are, without a doubt, a wonderful guy, with a big heart. As my wife would put it “You have gained Heaven Points”. Hopefully we will me some day on a upcoming cruise but for now we are getting ready for our upcoming maiden voyage of the Sunshine and ready to get going.
    Keep on being YOU……

  70. Jeffrey Rotz says:

    Good evening John,
    As usual it is a pleasure sailing with you onboard the Legend. This is my 26th Carnival Cruise and I have noticed a few things that have puzzled me. 1- The dining room menu is no longer published on the TV and 2 – They have taken Calzones off the menu at the Pizzeria. Yes John, we have plenty of items to choose from , but I sure miss the calzones. Thanks Jeff-

  71. Cathy E says:

    We are sailing on Sunshine May 5th. I’m looking forward to it and am worried, is ship going to be finished in time?

  72. Martha Fields says:

    John — I really can’t add any more to your wonderful ability to relate to people. I am certain there are many more guests you have spent time with and helped just by being you. You are a wonderful person and Carnival is so lucky to have you as their ambassador. Most important is Heidi and Kye are so lucky to have you as their husband and father.

  73. Elizabeth says:


    I thank you for your posts regarding Zoe, your compassion towards her and her situation have really touched me. Three weeks ago I sat in room in the ICU ward and watched rather helplessly, as my Mom made, what I would imagine to be, the same decisions in regards to my Dad. I am so thankful you were there for Zoe, and even more thankful that through you, she has found 4 ladies who are able to share and support her on her trip.

    Wishing you fair winds and following seas,

    Elizabeth Dykstra

  74. Alex Reyentovich says:

    After reading about Zoe I must admit, I shed a tear too… I will be going on my first ever cruise on may 4 on the Liberty with my wife and 2 kids. I am no CD, but if I saw someone like Zoe I would ask if she wanted to join us on our excursions if she had nothing planned and if she felt ok with doing so. Its wonderful what you did, its something she will always remember 🙂

  75. Troy says:

    I think you should introduce Minnie to Zoe, and when Zoe goes through her mad stage of grieving, make sure they are; 1.together,and 2. real close to the rail, next to the water and finally, 3. Make sure it’s dark, really really dark. And that will give the old hag something to complain about.

  76. We are leaving on Saturday to meet the Carnival Legend in Barcelona on April 22. We are so happy to learn that you will be the cruise director as we have sailed several times with you. We find you both charming and hilarious and look forward to some really fun experiences listening and watching you.
    I do so love the story of Zoe and hope she had a great trip and made many new friends. We wish her happiness.
    Kittie Lea

  77. Cynthia Rizzo says:

    John, I believe that while sitting in your underpants you are also wearing angel wings! Your care and compassion for Zoe touched a very special place in my heart. Having lost a son, I know the mind numbing pain of grief so strong it takes your breath away and becomes a physical ache. Talking about it truly helps and meeting others who have been through it and who can love and support her is the biggest blessing she can receive. You’ve given her both the gift of your time and the gift of friends. And while you say you will go on and maybe forget, I doubt it and I can promise you Zoe will never forget you and what you’ve done for her.
    My husband and I will be joining you on the June 21st sailing. We look forward to seeing you then. Take care and keep up the great work!

  78. jenn says:

    Good on ya John – pairing Zoe and those women up was genius. Is there any way for me to send them something while on board? I’d forgo a bottle of champagne on our cruise in 2 weeks and would like to pass it to them

  79. Sheryl says:

    Happy to hear that Zoe decided to stay onboard. I know how hard it is to lose someone dear to you. We lost my dad just a year and a half ago, and it seems like it is getting harder instead of easier on my mom as time passes. Mom, my sister and me are leaving on Mothers Day on the Magic. Hopefully she will have a relaxing trip. There will be no “Minnie’s” in our group!

  80. Pat Nordmark says:

    You may feel free to use my mantra: “I don’t look good in prison orange outfits. I don’t look good in prison orange outfits. I don’t look good in prison orange outfits.”

  81. Paulette says:

    John dear–
    I cried about Zoe and worried about her and was relieved to read that she remains on the ship. Good for you and good for her to be around others now.
    Please provide me with your encouragement and put in a good word for folks troubled by the latest Triumph cancellations. We’ve booked late June for many rookies who are in a state of confusion now. It would be so much more reassuring if we could see videos of her progress and POSITIVE press rather than that of late. Is there any way you can whisk yourself aboard to show and tell us she will be back in great shape June 13th. We Texans would be much beholding to you!

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