April 26, 2013 -

John Heald

Is it just me or are the words “please” and/or “thank you” being used less and less these days? I have sat here in my underpants and invited my blog readers to ask me questions and to tell me if they need my help and therefore I have to accept how those questions and how those requests are made. But they are such small words to say after all and it’s not like I am asking you to type the Gettysburg Address after asking me for a sodding table for two. Saying “thank you” is easy and I wonder why so many seem not to be able to say it? I was taught by my Mum and Dad that politeness costs nothing and, from an early age, it was drummed into my head that I should say “thank you.” This was OK and I accepted it but I didn’t always like it, especially when it was my birthday as a child when I had to write a thank you letter to everyone who had sent me a present.

Yep, my birthdays were always ruined because instead of being able to go ride my new bike or put my sister’s eye out with my new BB gun, I’d be forced by my parents to sit down and thank my aunts and uncles for their gifts. How, though, when you are eight, can you say thanks to Aunty Margret and Uncle Harold who have just bought you a pair of socks instead of the helicopter gunship you had asked them for?


Dear Aunty and Uncle Bastard,


While your present was totally crap, I did receive a BB gun which I will enjoy introducing your arses to when I see you next.





I have similar problems now and I am old and grey. E-mail has given us a way to not have to put pen to paper to express our thanks for something but we are still expected to have to write one. For example, we have two friends who invite us to dinner as soon as they know I am home from my travels and although they are great friends, I would rather eat the back end of a camel than what they put on the dinner table. The wife who we shall call Hayley, because that is her name, is to cooking what Venice is to snorkeling. Honestly, Stevie Wonder would be better qualified to produce a gourmet meal and, while she is a wonderful person, her food is about as appetising as a genital wart on a baboon’s bottom. Heidi once entrusted me to write the thank you e-mail but it was a one and only time because I wrote “Thanks for a great evening and the wonderful meal which has allowed me some great time alone to sit and read on the toilet.”


By the way, have you actually tried sitting down and writing a letter recently? I did while Carnival Legend was docked in Marseilles yesterday. I decided that I would write a hand-written letter to Ray M who had sent me two wonderful cigars for which I was so very thankful. But I couldn’t……..because it appears I have lost the use of my right hand. You see, I don’t write anything anymore. I type blogs and Facebook posts and schedules and e-mails by the hundred. I tried writing Ray M a letter to give to the people who had delivered the cigars on his behalf, I really did, but I had gotten as far as Dear Ray, thank you for the cig…when I became exhausted and had to have a lie down. Ray will then never get his letter and today my arm feels as stiff as a horny elephant’s……. ummmm…………sausage.


So letter writing and, in particular, “thank you” letter writing is left to Heidi, who, and if you’ll excuse my language ……..lives for this stuff. If someone says “hello” to her in the street, she will send a thank you card. If we go out with friends she will send a thank you card, even if the food tasted like H82SEAUGO’s pancreas. And if they are in her list of best friends, she will not only send a thank you card but a thank you gift, as well. Usually it’s soap…..which I don’t understand because I think it sends out the wrong message and that she may as well send over a can of deodorant with a note saying…….”Use this, you smelly bastard.”  Still, if she is allowed to send a thank you for a lovely time card with a bar of scented crap shoved in the envelope, then I should be allowed to send things to people who I haven’t enjoyed spending time with as payback. Stuff that really says, “I had the worst time, I don’t like you, please never ever invite me again.” Things that shout, “I hate you” like a pair of my underpants or a photo of a lady with a large bow on her head………..oh……..talking of which:


Sent: Thursday, April 25, 2013 7:46 PM

Subject: iCare Case – __________ ******


Good Evening All,


Miss ______– from _________ ordered the Indian vegetarian meal at dinner this evening. It was served to her as she had requested and she told the waiter to return the meal as it was not what she says was authentic Indian food. Team head waiter_______ explained that the chef was from India but she asked for it to be returned. As the THW walked towards the galley to return the food, Miss ____ followed him and tried to walk into the galley. She was asked to leave politely by the hostess _____-who had seen her do this and Miss___-demanded to see the chef. He did come and see her and she told him that she had spent three years in India as an American diplomat and that this was not real food. Chef________ explained that there were different styles or regional cooking. Miss ___has requested a vegetarian dish which chef will prepare for her for tomorrow dinner. Also noted on icare that table 151 have mentioned that they feel very sorry for the THW who they say is excellent and that Miss___has been very demanding on him but that he has been professional at all times.

icare updated


It would be very unprofessional of me to suggest to the Chef that he use just a little bit more spice in Minnie’s curry wouldn’t it?


Anyway, let’s do some Q&A please – thank you.


Grace Hytner asks:

Hi John!  We just got back from a cruise on the and have to mention James in the Cinn A Bar piano bar. I am a platinum VIP and have cruised with the best in Ron Pass and Piano Man Bob but James is right up there with them both and I would say in vocal ability, he is better!!!!! He created an electric atmosphere in there each night and I rarely went to any other bar or show because of him. You MUST let the beards know that he should be given a raise because he made the cruise for me and the many passengers that packed the piano bar each night


John says:

Hello Grace Hytner,

That is high praise indeed and James is in great company when you mention Ron and Bob, so bravo to him for giving you such a wonderful time. I will make sure that your kind words are passed on to the right people and any feedback we can get on the piano entertainers is so important. Thanks again and thank you also for your wonderful loyalty and I hope we see you again soon.

Best wishes.



Vicky Ward asks:

Why do Platinum passengers like me not have a separate party like on Princess and Celebrity? We should not have to go to a cocktail hour with non-Platinums and you should adopt the policy all the other cruise lines have. There is nothing exclusive about what I experienced on the Liberty when we were hoarded into a place along with what must have been 400 other passengers. This is not good enough and must change.


John says:

Hello Vicky Ward,

May I thank you for achieving Platinum status and I hope that one day soon you will reach Diamond level. Our Diamond guests have a private function with the captain either on the bridge or in a lounge depending on how many Diamond guests there are. I hope then that it will not be too long before you get to Diamond and, until then, I am here if there is anything I can do for you.

Best wishes.



Katherine Tyson asks:

Hi John,

We went on our first cruise in 2003 and really loved it, but didn’t cruise again until 2012.  The years in between were spent taking land based vacations, two of which were to England and we loved that too.  We finally got back to cruising in 2012 for my husband’s 60th birthday.  We went on the Victory, and it was a great time.  What made it so great was your staff on that ship, and, of course, the food.  Later this year we are going on the Breeze’s southern route and I am

patiently counting down the days until November.  This year, it is to celebrate our 30th anniversary, and we are bringing 12 friends with us to help us celebrate.  I’ve decided that I’m going to have something that needs to be celebrated on a cruise every year.  I want to book a seven- or eight-day cruise for September 2014 to celebrate our son’s 30th birthday, and am patiently waiting for those itineraries to be released.  I check every day, and there is nothing that interests us yet.  When will the full schedule for late 2014 be available?


John says:

Hello Katherine Tyson,

Welcome back to cruising and welcome home to Carnival. I am so glad you are back with us and thanks so much for those kind words about your experience on the Carnival Victory which I shall pass to the ship. I hope that you do book the Carnival Breeze for next year and the dates should be out in the next few days and I will make sure that I post any news on my Facebook page plus you will see them on as well. Please let me know if you have any questions and I will be here to help.

Best wishes.



James Montague asks:

Hi John: First of all, I want to say that I really appreciate what you are doing with this blog. It’s rare and refreshing to see a high level company spokesperson make himself so accessible to the

public, as well as showcase customer complaints and frustrations along with commendations. Kudos. Secondly, I would like your opinion on something. I am on the Carnival Sunshine departing May 5 out of Venice and am going to “pop the question” to my girlfriend of eight years on a gondola that evening (clichéd, I know, but I also know she’ll love it :P). We would be heading into port right after dinner, so I’m hoping to arrange some sort of surprise to be set up during evening turndown service to greet us in our stateroom as we get in from port that night. I don’t need anything elaborate, as I am still a university student and am stretching my wallet thin with this once-in-a-lifetime vacation already, but if there is something you can suggest that would make her evening just a bit more special and how to go about ordering it, I would love to hear a recommendation from a man who’s probably arranged something like this more times than he can count. Thank you so much for your time and advice :).



John says:

Hello James,

I am sure there are many here who are going “Ahhhhhh, so romantic,” plus a few men shouting at their laptops – “Don’t do it, you fool!” Seriously, congratulations and I am so glad I saw this in time. I have sent it to the CD Noonan and I know he will leave you a little something to say congratulations or something to drown your sorrows with if she says no….which she won’t of course. Have a wonderful time and maybe you should think about the steakhouse that night, what a perfect way to finish if what will be, I hope, the most memorable of days.  Best wishes to you both.



Tina Joyner asks:

Hi John I just returned from a cruise aboard Carnival Ecstasy (3/2/13 to 3/7/13) this was my fourth cruise with Carnival and I wanted to tell you what a great job the cruise director Matt Mitcham did.  He was WONDERFUL!!! We will be cruising Carnival again just to cruise with Matt!! He is an asset to the company.  Out of all of the cruises I have taken, this was the best by far.  We looked through the Fun Times everyday to just see where he was going to be so we could participate in the activities he was hosting.  Please keep him on staff as he is GREAT!!! I just wanted to let you know!!


John says:

Hello Tina Joyner,

Well it’s a good thing you wrote requesting to keep him on staff because he was just about to get fired! Kidding, of course. What a wonderful note and I hope you saw that we just promoted Matt to full time CD. I will be sending this to him and also his boss as well and I know he will be thrilled. I am so glad you had such fun and we will be seeing you again very soon. Thanks for taking the time to write.

Best wishes.



April Donnelly asks:

Me and my nonna are on the Carnival Fantasy cruise May 18.  Can you send my nonna a special gift as she will be 65 years old and she paid for my cruise. Our cabin we are in is going to be R88 but I want to get her an upgrade. I need this to be a special cruise for her as she has done lots of things for me and other people to and helped me pay for college.


John says:

Hello April Donnelly,

I am sure you must be very thankful to your grandmother (I hope that is what nonna is) for all she has done for you so please make sure you say thank you to her as sometimes we forget to do so. Don’t we? While I can’t upgrade her I will make sure I send her something to say thank you for looking after you.

Best wishes to both.



Joseph Haddin asks:

There should be a better way to communicate with you because good customer service means instant response not waiting for weeks for an answer. This is the second time I have written to you with this request and with time rapidly approaching for our cruise I need an answer. There will be a total of 10 members representing three generations of the Haddin family on this cruise and I want to make sure we get a table of 10 together and that it is a prominent position where all the action is. We certainly were not afforded this on our last cruise in 2012 on Carnival Dream. The cabin numbers have been linked by my travel agent together but I need clarification that this has been done and that you will make sure the table is in the middle of the lower section and that we have the best wait staff. The booking number linking the Haddin family together is ****** for the cruise of 5/26/13 aboard Carnival Conquest.

Joseph Haddin


John says:

Hello Joseph Haddin,

I do apologise for the delay in my reply as I have so many outstanding questions to answer here on the blog. I do, by the way, have a Facebook page at where I try and answer every question within 24 hours of it being posted. That being said I want to say a massive thank you for writing again so I did not miss this and please accept my apologies, thank you. I have written to the maître d and will ask him to see what he can do for you. I know he will make sure you are seated together and I know he will do his best to place you at a table on the lower section somewhere. I can promise that you will have a superb waiter and that he or she will give you excellent service. So thank you for bringing the family together for what I hope will be a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes.



Kimberley Beyer asks:

First off, a sincere thanks for having a readable verify code.  You can’t possibly know how refreshing it is to be able to actually read the verify code and not have to repost your comment or

questions 10 times before you get the code right.  Now for the real reason for my post.  Three little old ladies from Pasadena are booked on Carnival Conquest, October 27, out of NOLA.  We are three bingo buddies bent on having the time of our lives.  We are even splurging on 9202!  But I just realized that this is a Halloween cruise!  Never thought about that when booking completely passed my mind.  Probably because I’m just one of those who put a giant shipping box full of candy on the porch and hope the children just take a few and it will last the whole evening.  But I digress.  Being three little old ladies from Pasadena, we still like to have fun and we were wondering if Carnival does anything for Halloween?  Is there a costume contest?  If not, there should be.  It would be great to win a ship on a stick, you know.  But I would like to know so I can plan on my costume.  Oh and one last question, and so sorry to monopolize your time, but I am a recent quad and in a power chair.  My charger is quite heavy, too heavy to take in my checked and /or carryon luggage. Can I ship it directly to the ship? Thank you again for listening to my ramblings.  Enjoy your upcoming contract and hope to someday get to meet you on a Carnival ship as I plan to do a lot more cruising in the future.  It’s been too long since I’ve gone on a cruise.


John says:

Hello Kimberley Beyer

Let me start with the most serious part of your post. I would urge you to please contact our special needs desk in Miami. There are dedicated people there who will discuss all your options for your chair. I know we spoke yesterday. In fact, on Facebook so by now I would hope that in fact someone has been in contact with you, if not let me know and I will follow up about the battery and the chair size etc.  Regarding your question about Halloween, yes, indeed, we do celebrate Halloween in a big way and there will be a costume party and the ship will be decorated accordingly. I hope all of you can bring a costume then and join in the fun and I am sure if you remind me the day before you sail I can do something about that trophy for you. I am here and on Facebook if you need me and I wish all of you a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes.



Jon Stanley asks:

John – I just wanted to write you to let you know about our recent cruising experience on the Carnival Conquest’s March 3 sailing from New Orleans. I want to start by saying that I am a Carnival platinum member and I drink the Carnival Kool-Air more than a lot of people. I have taken 10 cruises with Carnival since mid-2007. My wife and I got engaged on the Carnival Triumph and had our honeymoon on the Carnival Conquest in 2012. I follow you and Carnival on Facebook and read the blog. The information I am providing below is feedback from someone who is quite familiar with the Carnival brand. First, I would like to say that I was quite impressed with many of the Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades on the Carnival Conquest. This was my third time sailing on this boat and the upgrades made it much more enjoyable. The addition of the two Lido bars, Guy’s Burger Joint and the Cantina were excellent choices. I have to wonder why Carnival would implement a tropical strategy with the RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Cantina and then take away the Caribbean music and replace it with a guy singing mostly country music. This seems counterintuitive to what your marketing department is trying to do. I have read the Facebook posts and see many others have also had this concern. I can listen to people singing cover songs all day long at home. I go on a tropical vacation to get away from that. What I found on the Lido was either a man singing covers or a DJ that played music so loudly that we could not even have a conversation right next to each other. It made us spend much more time in our cabins than normal and killed the tropical party atmosphere that used to exist. I also ordered a drink from a waiter at the Red Frog Rum Bar name Daisel or Dasiel that didn’t seem to be able to speak English well. Two times I ordered the 19-ounce drink. He made the smaller one. When he handed it to me I told him that it was supposed to be the 19-ounce. He stood in front of me and dumped it into a bigger cup and then charged me the extra $5. He didn’t even try to hide it.  I see that the Punchliner comedy program has really been a huge success. My wife and I enjoy the numerous comedians on every cruise. What we found to be very inconvenient was that Rachel, the comedy club manager, made everyone exit the Degas Lounge after every performance and then wait outside five minutes and then let everyone come back in. This caused people (many who were intoxicated), to run back through the doors and fight to get their seats back. My wife and I got there early the first night (45 minutes early), to get a good seat, only to find out that we would be forced to leave so someone who showed up at the last minute for the next show could have our seats. It should be first come, first served. This procedure made the whole experience unpleasant and caused us to find other entertainment venues on-board.

The biggest issue I had was the lack of recognition of the platinum status. Now I realize there are many platinum guests on-board and I certainly don’t expect to be treated like a king by anyone. However, the main perk of this program is the early disembarkation process (self assist) to allow us to get off the vessel without the long lines, waiting for an elevator and pushing/shoving. The Carnival Conquest sent a later to our stateroom saying that we should be at the Renoir dining room at 7:15 am to start platinum disembarkation. At 7 am, Gary, the cruise director, started the general disembarkation with no regard to the platinum guests whatsoever. We stood in the same line and fought the crowds like everyone else. As a matter of fact, we came down the elevator and the dining room doors were closed and locked. On our way back from New Orleans, my wife Googled that subject and found tons of platinum guests who feel that there really is no perk to being a platinum guest because Carnival does not enforce its policies regarding the perks. I was excited to finally be a platinum (this was my first Platinum cruise) and other than a cheap bag and 4 strawberries, I received absolutely nothing that I couldn’t have gotten with gold status.

I don’t mean for this to be a completely negative review. Overall the cruise was pretty good. The housekeeping staff did a great job and we had excellent waiters. Gary did a pretty decent job although, George was much funnier. The boat was clean and the food was good. I just feel that as the brand ambassador, you should be aware of these experiences by loyal customers. I may have a harder time convincing my wife to spend our vacation time and budget on another Carnival cruise after this experience


John says:

Hello Jon Stanley,

Firstly, may I say thank you for taking the time to write this review and as brand ambassador I am very keen to learn what our loyal customers think. Let’s start with the debarkation and I am surprised that this happened. We do on all our ships give priority to Platinum guests however we do start with self-assist guests, guests who carry their own luggage. Then when the luggage is in place we start calling the numbers with number one first. I would like to find out if you had self-assist or you had placed your luggage outside so if you can let me know I would appreciate it. Regardless, there should not have been any pushing or shoving and that disturbs me so I will make sure this is investigated. We truly value our Platinum guests and along with the strawberries and the tote bag you received, I hope you also took advantage of the past guest party and the complimentary laundry and enjoyed boarding the ship first. I say this only because it highlights other perks we offer, of course. I will make sure that I send this to the person in charge of the program as your comments need, though, to be heard.

The new 2.0 Lido with Guy’s and with the two competing bars have really changed the whole feel of Lido Deck and I am glad you enjoyed them. Certainly the guitar players are not meant to play country but a selection of popular music from yesterday and today. I will address this issue with the ship directly and I will say we are looking very carefully at what music is played on Lido. I am glad that you had some enjoyable experiences and these too will be passed along to the ship. So thank you for this review which I assure you will be read by all who need to see it and I also assure you that we will continue to work hard to make sure that we get better and that way, we will be able to welcome you back many more times.

Best wishes



Jessica Hunt asks:

I am set to sail on the Carnival Breeze in September. I know it is a while to go. I heard that if I book a cruise while on a cruise, I can get some sort of perks. I want to go to Alaska next year for my husband’s birthday and, from my understanding, the 2014 Alaska schedule should be out in April or May. My question is this: Is it better to get booked sooner to make sure I can get a room I desire or is it safe to wait until September to book and I should still be able to get a room I desire? I’m pretty picky about where I sleep. Thank you in advance for your help.


John says:

Hello Jessica Hunt,

May I suggest that you book early using the Early Saver option – get the cabin you want and the rates will be protected if they go down. Please make sure you read the restrictions and, that aside, I think this maybe the one for you. Have a think and if you have any questions, please let me know. Best wishes and hope to see you on the Carnival Breeze soon.



That’s all for today and I thank all of you for your comments and your questions.


I am writing this from Livorno, the gateway to Pisa, Tuscany and Florence. It is 10:10am local time and only 51 of the 2,200 guests are left on board. The cruise is going well, very well in fact and the guests are very happy indeed and starting to give me verbal praise for the crew as I walk around the ship. I did have one lady very upset at me yesterday and its one of those where as a CD you say something, thinking it’s funny and while the audience laugh the person you said it does not.


I was ready to introduce the Jazz Hot show and was walking through the audience interviewing guests in the five minutes before show time. It’s a nice thing to do and I think the audience likes meeting some of their fellow guests. Anyway, I spoke to one couple and said something that made the whole audience laugh out loud, can’t at this point remember what to be honest but everyone laughed. That included the lady sitting a few feet away from me and she was laughing so hard she was crying tears of laughter. So I pretended to mop her tears away with my suit jacket sleeve and as I did I said “Oh, you have a booger there; I am not getting that.” She laughed even more and I went on with the show. And this morning I got this letter.




There are, I guess, different ways to look at this letter but the only one that matters is that the guest is upset and embarrassed at what I said and that is the only thing therefore that matters. It is never ever my intention to upset anyone but in comedy there is always a chance that this may occur. Usually, I am a good judge at who can take a joke or not and the fact that the lady was laughing at my previous joke was, in my defence, a sign that she was enjoying herself and maybe able to have some fun with me. But I was wrong, very wrong. So I have written her a letter of sincere apology and sent some wine and strawberries with it and tonight when they return from their time ashore I will speak to her and apologise in person. I misjudged this situation and will do all I can to rectify it.


That aside and apart from our friend Minnie, I think this first of our European cruises is going well. In past seasons we have had the same department heads and the same crew move from each new ship to the next one but here on the Carnival Legend, most of the crew has never been to these ports before and the excitement they have about being here is palatable……….and the guests can feel it to I think.


One crew member who has never been to Europe ever is a bloke I have known for a long time and whose service to Carnival makes my 26 years look like I started only yesterday. So meet Ivor Glenford Price from Montego Bay, Jamaica – who this week has been with Carnival Cruise Lines for 36 years




I asked Ivor a few questions and here are his answers which I think you will enjoy


What year did you start with Carnival? I started in 1976 on the Carnivale


How long was your first contract? We did not have contracts in those days. I joined the ship in Nassau and didn’t go home to Jamaica for two years. Every time the ship was in port I would send money home to my mother and father. Communication and money transfers were limited to port, and it took three weeks for messages to get home from the ship. There were no phones or TV’s for crew use.


What’s the biggest difference in life on board and how it was when you first started?  Today I share a nice clean cabin with one other person and we have our own toilet and shower. On the Carnivale the crew had dormitory-style cabins. My first contract I shared a cabin with 10 other bar department crew and shared shower and toilet facilities with 20 or more crew. Our room constantly flooded and there was no ceiling just lots of pipes. We all got along well and would sing and drink beer and play cards and cook.


Cook? Yes, we would cook. There were no rules not to so we would cook. Most of the room I was in was occupied by Jamaican and other island boys and we would buy fish in Nassau from the market and cook at night after work. We also had a pet Iguana that we found in Cozumel as a baby and kept it in the cabin. Its name was Pepe. We kept him until he was too big for his cage and also had to let him go because he started to smell and bite us.


What about the job. How many cabins did you have to clean and what else do you remember about the early days?  I had 15 cabins to clean on the Carnivale and today on Carnival Legend I have 21 but I have an assistant which I never had back then. I remember there were some months in 1977 when we were not getting supplies so stewards bought everything such as soap and even toilet paper for them in port, and paid using their own tips. Those days, stewards hoarded whatever they could to provide their guests with the best supplies they could scrounge up.


What’s the funniest thing you have seen while cleaning the guest cabins? On the Jubilee I had two lovely ladies whose cabin I was in charge of. Every night they looked beautiful with long flowing dresses and legs to heaven and back, mon. I worked hard for them and the last night they gave me a big tip. The ship got back to Miami and that morning on debark time I saw two men come out of their cabin and I thought they had been in there “visiting” their lady friends.  I smiled and the men and they said, “Thanks Ivor, you were excellent and we will miss you.” I didn’t know them and I was wondering who they were when I realised that these two men were the two ladies who I had been serving all cruise and I never knew!


Tell me about your family.  I was married in 1986 and have three sons, two daughters, and five grandchildren.


What has working for Carnival all these years meant for you?  I have watched this company grow and have been very proud to watch that happened and help in my own small way. I thank Mr. Ted Arison and Mr. Micky Arison for the standard of living Carnival has given to me and my family.  My daughters now live in England. One is a nurse, the other a child psychologist. My sons are doing well, too. And that is all thanks to Carnival Cruise Lines and the passengers who are now called guests who have given me tips. I love my job.

What a fabulous interview. I have not seen Ivor for many years but remember his smile and indeed his wisdom. He is greatly respected by the crew and his shouts of “Yea, mon” can be heard down the guest corridors as he greets his guests. People like Ivor are the foundation this company was built on and I am sure you will join me in thanking him for his brilliant years of service.  An iguana in the cabin……..I wonder if Minnie would like one?



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.