July 1, 2013 -

John Heald

 Good morning from this, the last day of our first Baltic cruise. Tomorrow we will be in Belgium and more on that later but, overall, it has been a huge success and the ports, as always, steal the show. I won’t say that there weren’t challenges. I had a guest who hated, truly hated the live German Music and Bavarian Food Party we did on Lido deck. The rest of the guests are still talking about it but this guest is so upset that it’s all I can think about when anyone mentions the words, “oompah” or “bratwurst.” I felt genuinely sorry for him as for reasons I won’t go into here, it was a party that made him so angry, he cried real tears. It’s at times like that you forget the 2,000 and remember just the one and then as a cruise director you find yourself second guessing if doing a party like that was a good choice or not.

 Then we had another guest who was equally upset and this time it was about a joke in one of the uncensored comedy shows. It was a joke that upset this guest so much that he walked out of the Firebird Lounge on deck 1 forward and he then went to the guest services desk and at 11:55pm was there she asking to speak to me as she felt the joke was racist. The fact that it is was performed in an uncensored show is well documented and announced clearly by the show’s host, Taylor, so there was no doubt that the guest was attending a show that would be R-rated with adult material. The comedian involved is one of our British comedians and he is very, very funny. Now I am not saying this because I am British but because I have seen the shows he has performed here as he did on the Carnival Breeze last European season and he is one who gets more rave reviews than most.


His show is old school and contains lots of what we call “joke jokes” which, mixed with the more modern style of situation comedy used by the vast majority of today’s younger comedians really is very popular with our international audiences we have in Europe.  So I spoke to the guest in the lobby this morning and he was very upset, not like the guest who was upset at the German oompah band. I explained that the show was uncensored but he didn’t want to know and told me how angry he was about that joke. Now what I wanted to say was that if he had been at an R-rated show upset for 20 minutes of jokes about rumpy pumpy and jokes that contained swearing and suggestive material. How come that didn’t upset you then?


But as a cruise director, I could not say that and instead and it’s my job not to judge but to manage his anger. So I sympahised and I apologised while gently reminding him that it was, after all, an uncensored show. Comedy is a very difficult subject to write about and performing it is truly very difficult. I mean, you know you are going to offend someone…….fat, bald, black, white, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim…….it’s virtually impossible not to offend even when you have the security blanket that a uncensored show rating brings. Do I feel bad for this guest? Yes, yes I do. Will I tell the comedian to drop that joke and never tell it again? No, no, I won’t. That’s because if I did it would set a precedence that would, after time surely mean that comedy shows on land or sea would be 30 minutes……….of silence. These two guest comments and are part of what makes my life as a cruise director so interesting and sometimes so frustrating.


Time for today’s Q and A………… we go.


Tom Bryant asks:

John – for the second straight year, my wife and I have sailed on the Carnival Freedom. And for the second straight year, we had an amazing time. The food was good. The entertainment was enjoyable. The comedians were even funny. But far and away, we had the kind of MDR service staff that has set a new standard for great service. German (who’s not German) and Ali were simply the best servers we have ever had on our 20-plus cruises on a variety of lines. I hope you will pass this along to the ship’s captain and dining room beards. The Carnival Freedom was an amazing ship and we look forward to sailing on her again.  Thanks!


John says:

Hello Tom Bryant,

It is always great to start the Q&A section of the blog in such a positive way and so a huge thank you to you for this brilliant review. I will send this to the ship’s senior management and I know that they will make sure German sees this. He will be so proud so thanks once again for taking the time to write. I hope we see you very soon and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know. Best wishes.



Dorene Sikorski asks:

I will be on the Carnival Legend Aug 20, 2013. Will you be the cruise director for this cruise? I heard you were, but now I hear you will not. I hope you are as I have been looking so forward to you


John says: 

Hello Dorene Sikorski,

Yes, indeed, I will be there. I will be off the ship from August 8-20 for my vacation but am returning for the Aug. 20 voyage. Get ready for a brilliant time and let me know if you have any questions. Best wishes.



Nazma Chowdhury asks:

Mr. Heald: I wish to complain in the strongest terms about our cruise experience on the Carnival Magic. I was part of a group of 12 family members from Dallas but who are all originally from India. My travel agent had told me that there would be Indian food available but what we found was nothing more than repeated dishes not cooked freshly and not using fresh ingredients. Our waiters had no patience with us all and we were always the last to be served. When the food came it was bland and cold and not true Indian food. This is unacceptable and this was not the only thing. We were surprised that we were not given an Indian waiter and we had complained to the manager and waited until the third night before we finally changed waiters. This should have been done before because looking at our names they are Indian and also our travel agent had requested this be done and it was not. These are things that must be corrected should you want our business. Plus Mr. Heald, you should know that Houston has a large Indian population and news travels fast!!


John says:

Hello Nazma Chowdhury,

Thank you so much for telling me your views on the ship and I will certainly investigate this with the senior management on board. Please though may I say also that travel agents or, indeed, anyone booking in other ways, are unable to request a specific nationality of a waiter or any other crew member, for that matter. Maybe we could have seen that the family had Indian names and perhaps we could have thought of giving you an Indian waiter but that kind of specific is very unusual and very hard for the maître d’s to schedule. I was surprised to read the comment on the food though as we usually get such rave reviews on the Indian dishes. Did you try the Tandoor, by the way, on Lido Deck aft? Regardless I will make sure our executive head chef who like the head chef on the Carnival Magic is, indeed Indian, sees your comments and we will do our best to improve. Thanks, then, for writing and I hope we see you all very soon. Best wishes.



Terrie Reuvers asks:

John, I have heard that the navigational channel is no longer available on the TV’s in the cabins. When we went on our first cruise on the Carnival Fascination, we loved that. It was great to see how fast the ship was going and where we were each day. We will be on the Carnival Conquest in October and hope that it is still on that cruise. Please let me know and, if not, why did they take it away?


John says:

Hello Terrie Reuvers,

I am not sure where you heard this but that is not correct. Maybe the person who posted this comment had been on a ship where the computer that displays this was not working but I can tell you that we have not stopped them. Please have a great time on the Carnival Conquest and let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.



D. Clark asks:

OK, the beds Carnival uses have been changed to a cheaper model. That much has been proven. I see you got mad that posters were insisting the mattresses have changed. You yelled back that they were the same “comfort” mattresses as always. I wonder if the “beards” are telling you not to admit that they are a cheaper product which proves yet again that you are nothing more than a big puppet. Simple question if you can for one time be honest and not say what your band of child minded cheerleaders want to hear. Has Carnival gone to a cheaper brand of mattress. YES OR NO?


John says:

Hello D. Clark,

No.  Best wishes.



George Ostrowski asks:

John, you mentioned the Carnival Legend going Down Under. You did not give us enough time when you announced the Carnival Spirit going there. Tell the beards they need a “future” section on the web site for the unusual cruises. For example I am planning on a back-to-back cruise in 2016 on a new ship in Europe. I found that info on the financial site.


John says:

Hello George Ostrowski,

Well, we haven’t announced anything for 2015 or 2016 as far as Europe is concerned yet so it’s interesting to know what the financial site you read had to say (the ship is being built in Europe but outside of that there are no itinerary announcements as of yet). We always try to give updates and news as quickly as possible with adequate lead time but, for sure, I will pass this on to the beards. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.



Suzanne Lewis asks:

Hello john, can you tell me if Carnival Sunshine has live Calypso music on the Lido Deck. I will be cruising on 7/7/13 for my 50th birthday, and would love to hear some Calypso music.


John says:

Hello Suzanne Lewis

Not while she is in Europe as this would make no sense. She does though have a brilliant choice of live music including party band, two superb soloists, the piano bar entertainer and a Latin band that, from what I have been told, are truly fantastic. Let’s see what happens when we get to the Caribbean though. Have a great cruise. Best wishes.



Laura Castelletti asks:

I am doing a back-to-back cruise on the Carnival Imagination in July and need to know who the Captain is and what is his e mail address. My husband is Italian and I want to get us a seat at the captain’s table because in seven cruises we have never gotten to do this. Can you tell me the address and his name so I can write directly to him?

Laura Castelletti,


John says:

Hello Laura Castelletti,

The captain’s name is Captain Donato. I am afraid that I am unable to pass on his e-mail address and I also have to apologise that most of the time these days we do not have a captain’s table and when we do the people who sit there are pre-assigned by our Miami office. Your husband will for sure get to meet him though on the elegant night at the Captain’s Celebration and I am sure he will enjoy talking to him. If there is anything else you think I can do for you, please let me know.

Best wishes.


Richard Wilkie asks:

Hi John
Can you tell me what bands are on the Carnival Legend ship for Oct 10/13.  We were on the Carnival Dream back in February and they had a good rock and roll 50s/60s/70s band which I enjoyed.


John says:

Hello Richard Wilkie,

I am here now on the Carnival Legend and by the time we get to October many of the musicians here will have changed plus we are making musical changes across the fleet. There will be a four-piece band playing party/rock/pop music and I am sure you will enjoy them. If you ask me again in September, I will have the specifics for you. Have a brilliant time on this great ship. Best wishes.


Thanks for all your comments and questions and I will be back with more later in the week.


I am seeing more and more requests for tables for two here and especially on my Facebook page. These requests, for the most part, are for romantic reasons and not because guests do not want to sit with other guests and make new friends. A table for two though does come with its own perils, right chaps? How many times have you been out with your wife or partner and your lady opts for the salad. Your heart skips a beat and you let out a huge sigh……..because you know she will be stealing your food moments after its arrival. My wife, Heidi, is the master of this. The phrase “just get what you want and I will have a little taste” is very bad news for men because you know you will be lucky to get three mouthfuls as her pretty lady-like hand suddenly turns into a John Deere tractor scoop and takes the lot. One idea though men is to deliberately order something that tastes the same as the inside of H82SEAUGOS thighs….do that and she may never take your food ever again.


Oh, yes, and as we are talking about dinner and restaurants, I have one other moan. If a group of five men go out for dinner the check is split five ways because there are five of them. Five women have something to eat together and it is a little different. Once the check arrives they spend the sodding next hour carrying out complex mathematical formulas because Tracy didn’t have an appetizer and Jennifer only had the salad and should, therefore have to pay less than Stephanie who had a extra fries with her ribs and a dessert…….the bitch. Jennifer had some wine but Lucy didn’t and Nancy didn’t have anything at all except water but she did have an appetizer.


If Jesus’ disciples had been women the last supper would still be going on now because Jesus had turned water into wine but Jennifer had an extra glass of wine and Doubting Tracy had bugger all. Anyway, I will continue to help as many of you as I can with your table requests and hope that the old cruise ship tradition of meeting new friends does not stop as that would be a real shame.


When our guests are planning their Baltic cruise, I am sure they get very excited at the prospect of visiting Russia, Germany, Holland, Denmark, etc., but I wonder how many were excited to see …………Belgium. Well, probably not many but that’s a shame as it’s a fascinating country. I was there last weekend and it’s really very lovely. Our tours will visit Antwerp, Bruges and Ghent and as I am sure Mr. Radu’s camera will show you tomorrow, they are gorgeous towns. The food is excellent. You must try the Belgian fries which are huge and cooked until they are crispy and simply sensational. Oh and the chocolate………well it remains arguably the best chocolate in the world. And yet Belgium seems to be ignored by tourists and……. comedians. As we have seen at the start of today’s blog if one of our Punchliner comedians makes a joke about any nation on earth, he or she will be thought of as a racist. People from Belgium though have nothing to worry about because nobody ever makes fun of them because they have no ….. well ………. ummm …….. ummmmm………….nothing. You can tell jokes about the English and their love of tea and their bad teeth. You can tell jokes about the Germans and their lack of humour and their sausages. You can joke about the Dutch and their “coffee” shops and their clogs and red lights and about the Scottish for being as tight as a camel’s arse in a sandstorm. There are hundreds of Irish jokes and jokes about the French and their………..well…..everything. Belgium, then has three lovely towns, makes great chocolate and is the seat of the European Union. And what best sums Belgium’s problem better than everything else is that the country’s most famous person is Jean Claude Van Damme and its most famous tourist attraction…… this little fella:





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.