July 17, 2013 -

John Heald

I was talking with a fellow cruise director a few days ago and as we chatted on the satellite phone — me in Dover, UK, and my colleague just waking up in the western Caribbean — he told me about the difficulties he had recently gone through, thanks to Tropical Storm Chantal. It wasn’t the storm that had caused him difficulties — no, it was a couple of guests who went beyond the usual disappointment that every guest feels when a change of itinerary occurs and became abusive and angry. This is, as the great Welsh, hip-gyrating Tom Jones says, “not unusual.” Not only on Carnival but on every other cruise line in the world………maybe with the exception of P&O because Brits never complain about anything in public. But seriously, on every ship that is affected by Mother Nature, there are people who do not and will not understand that the cruise lines make these changes to avoid ……..ummmmm………….how do I put it ………. ummmmm……ummmmm……oh, yes, I know…………..DEATH!

 As we all cruise into hurricane season, we should not forget that 99 percent of the people who are on a cruise ship are eating, dancing and having fun in perfect weather and sunshine. Unless, of course, they are stuck up a climbing wall and suddenly develop explosive diarrhea ………… cruising will be the best vacation they have ever had. Yep, most cruise ship passengers are understanding and, although disappointed, completely understand and prefer LIFE over sailing through 100 mph winds and 50-foot seas. And, if you are angry, if you are upset, why, oh, why do a few people (as described by my CD colleague friend) take their frustration out on a 22-year-old entertainment staff member from Toronto who is on her first contract with Carnival and who gets screamed at and sworn at by two grown men?


Do they honestly think that she can change anything? The decisions to change or cancel ports are taken by very smart people on land and by the captain who will never put our guests and crew in danger.  And, as for the tiny group of passengers who get abusive and use verbal or physical violence …. well……we as staff should have the right to tell them to bugger off and if that doesn’t work ……..we, the staff, should be able to give them the good news with a cattle prod. But, of course, they don’t. Our wonderful staff apologises, takes the verbal tongue lashings and apologises again.


Let’s hope 2013 is a very quiet hurricane season but if we should be forced to change ports of call, then, please, don’t shout and swear at a staff member who only 10 minutes before was hosting the hairy sodding chest contest.


Time for today’s Q and A – here we go.


Liz McGrory asks:
Hi John, can you let me know if the Carnival Sunshine is doing the all-inclusive drinks package? Thank you


John says:

Hello Liz McGrory

Yes indeed, the Carnival Sunshine does have the Cheers program. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.



Lennie Secker asks:

As a VIP platinum guest with 18 cruises now, I do expect those extra touches to insure that the next time I decide on a cruise, it is with Carnival and not with other cruise companies. I was then extremely disappointed on my last cruise on the Carnival Paradise. I asked the waiter for chili mayonnaise for my baked potato at dinner and a few minutes later he came back to tell me it could not be done. Could not be done? Let me get this right. The chef could not make some chili mayonnaise? Bull****! I do not know if the waiter actually asked or couldn’t be bothered. This is a prime example of how Carnival has little regard for its VIP passengers. I guess I have wasted my money.


John says:

Hello Lennie Secker,

I want to start by saying how much we really do value your loyalty, truly we do, and I hope that continues. I am sure the waiter did ask the chef and maybe he was busy during meal service and preparing the menu items. If you asked the night before for something like this, usually the chef will be more than happy to help you so may I suggest that next time you please ask before dinner to give the chef the chance to make this. Thanks so much and I do sincerely hope we see you soon. Best wishes.



David Gregson asks:

Hello John, thanks for a fantastic cruise on the Carnival Legend and you and Calvyn should I swear, have your own TV show. Who needs GMA when we could have you two? The ports were amazing, especially Dubrovnik, as were the shows and it is great to see that you have a show every night unlike the Carnival Freedom which I cruised on back in February and they had a night with no shows and one of the nights was a talent show. I can see that you have stepped up the entertainment because Brett, the piano entertainer and the female impressionist (Katie or Kathy) were unbelievable and hilarious and the Welsh juggler was the best I have seen. The show about New Orleans was amazing and we saw most of the comedians and they were all LOL funny, John. Great cruise, great time and great cruise director and you are still the best in the business.


John says:

Hello David Gregson,

I am blushing, thanks so much for those very kind words. Yes, indeed, I am very proud of the entertainment here and I am a huge believer that we should have as much live and professional entertainment as possible. I think there is still room for a talent show or our Carnival Legends show but only to complement professional shows. I have been very lucky here on the Carnival Legend to have been able to have a very strong hand in whom the entertainers will be and, so far, they have proven to be all superb acts. I want to thank you for cruising here and I am so glad you had fun. Hope we see you again very soon. Best wishes.



John Keswick asks:

I want to thank you, John, for the wonderful kind gesture you gave my brother during his cruise. As you may remember, he had been seriously injured in a motorbike accident and this was his first vacation spent in a wheelchair. The staff on the Carnival Valor was outstanding and all the extras you did for us including the private table for the four of us made the experience so much easier. This was Liam’s fourth cruise so you can imagine the emotions he was feeling not being able to do the things he used to do so everything you did John and everything the crew of the ship did made a big difference. Thanks again from the four of us, and especially Liam. We will be back.


John says:

Hello John Keswick,

I am so glad you all had this special time together and let me join you in congratulating the staff and crew of the Carnival Valor for what they did for you and the family, especially Liam. I am sure this was a very emotional cruise for Liam and for you all and I appreciate you taking the time to write to me to let me know that all went well. I will be here if there is anything I can do for you if you decide to cruise again and I send my warmest regards to Liam. Best wishes.



George Roberson asks: 

Where can I sign up for the BC7 bloggers cruise activities? I am booked for the cruise, but can’t find a signup sheet. Thanks.
George Roberson


John says:

Hello George Roberson

The BC7 registration will take place in the weeks ahead. I will post something here for people to sign up and then start letting you know what will happen. I am so glad you will be joining us and get ready for a brilliant time. Best wishes and see you soon.



Zander Vasquez – Teja asks:

Mr. Heald, please hear my comment about the cruise my partner and I took on your Carnival Glory cruise ship. We went along to many of the shows and quizzes and contests and everything the entertainment director or his staff said was referred to a man and a woman like Mr. and Mrs. or husband and the wife. No mention was made of same sex partners and we and other members of the gay community who were on the ship too were offended by this. I thought American society had evolved towards greater understanding of same sex relationships and marriage but it seems to us that Carnival has yet to realize this.


John says:

Hello Zander Vasquez – Teja,

I am glad you mentioned this as certainly myself and our other cruise directors make a point of adding the word “partner” when we host activities like the marriage show, etc. I will indeed remind my colleagues to include this information and thank you kindly for bringing this to my attention. I do hope you had a great time together and that we will see you soon. Best wishes.



John Hendrickson asks: 

I’ve been trying to book “the Best of Antigua” tour that is listed on the shore excursion list for that port. But when I log in and try to book it for my booked cruise, it doesn’t show up on the list. We are booked on the Carnival Freedom out of Ft. Lauderdale sailing on 19 April 2014. Is that excursion going to be available or not? Thank you for your answer.


John says:

Hello John Hendrickson,

Yes indeed it will be. I checked with our shore excursion department and it will be online in the weeks ahead and no later than the end of October. It is one of our most popular tours in Antigua and one I know you will enjoy. Please let me know if there is anything else I can help with and I wish you a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.



Laszlo Toth asks: 

John: First, I am very disappointed that you did not reply to my last two posts here. The most important was about Matt Mitcham becoming a regular CD. We sailed with Matt twice and we had the best of times on those two cruises. I did have his e-mail address but lost it. I’ve asked you to find out his e-mail address so I can congratulate him. He is just so energetic and a kind thoughtful person that I wish I knew the ship he is on so I can book another cruise with him. Please let me know what ship he is on and how to contact him.


John says:

Hello Laszlo Toth,

Firstly, my apologies for the delay in replying. I am as always way behind in answering my blog questions. I try my best here and on Facebook to answer as many questions and help as many people as I can as quickly as possible while trying to run a ship as well. Secondly, you will be pleased to know that a few months ago Matt became a full-time CD and, from the reports I have read, it is well deserved. I am afraid I am unable to give you his work or personal e-mail address as these are private but rest assured I will send Matt this now so he can maybe contact you. Thanks for taking the time to write and I apologise again for the delay in writing back to you.

Best wishes.



Diane Busby asks: 

Just wondering of you will possibly be the CD on the Carnival Sunshine’s repositioning cruise in April 2014? We just had to book this one after reading about it in your blog!


John says:

Hello Diane Busby

I am afraid I won’t be there for that, Diane, but please do not worry because the ship is fantastic and Noonan, the cruise director, will make sure you have the best of times. It will be a great cruise and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.



And that’s all for today


The other day here on the blog we reached and past 17 million page views and I continue to be humbled by just how many of you continue to read my silliness. Thank you all. This though will be the last blog here for the next 12 days or so. The beards need to do some re-design on it and are also looking to do some kind of …….ummmm…….ummm……..beardy stuff to make the blog open faster and to be more user-friendly. I will, of course, be on each and every day until my break on August 8 so if you have any urgent questions please let me know there. Thanks for your patience with this and, hopefully, I will be back in blog land quickly.


Now in the blog last week I also shared with you some of the comments that we received on our online survey — or TGEM, as we call it. And it’s not only the ship and the people who work on her that you our guests write about bit also the ports as well and reading the comments here on the Carnival Legend, it seems that the most popular three ports are Warnemunde/Berlin, Tallinn and in first place and with no surprise for anyone………it’s St. Petersburg, Russia.


Yep, there is no city like it and the Carnival Legend allows our guests to go back to the days of the tsars and tsarinas and WWII when, under its old name of Leningrad, the city was under siege for two years and over a million people died………..mostly from starvation.


Then the remnants of the days of Lenin, Stalin and the one with the funny oil patch on his head will be up close and personal as the last throws of communism will be there for all to see.

This comes as you drive through the suburbs past the old cars and faceless grey buildings where some people still have to queue for a loaf of bread. You see, in Russia, there is no middle class ………’s the haves and the have not’s, although there seem to be just as many haves these days. You can see them everywhere, stepping out of their big Mercedes and range Rovers under the watchful eyes of ex-KGB bodyguards who have tattoos of H82SEAUGO on their arms


The comments back from the guests who took the Grand Tour are all, yes really they are, all positive with words like “fantastic” and “unforgettable” being written on TGEM. The restaurants we use on this tour are actually quite funny. They are gaudier, with more camp and flash than Calvyn’s underpants and are oozing with gold ornaments and massive sterling silver cutlery. You will be welcomed with a glass of vodka which you should drink in one shot…..not do so is considered rude. Then and still before any food is served, you are given a glass of Russian champagne. Your guide will make a toast and again she will explain that Russian tradition states that you must drink this glass, again….in one long gulp.


So you have had a shot of vodka and a huge glass of champagne all in five minutes and so now you’re drunk………. The reason they do this is because the food is crap…….and you will be so drunk that you won’t care what you’re eating. I’m kidding, of course. The food is surprisingly excellent and will feature a local borsch or vegetable soup which is delicious and that’s followed by a big potato salad and either chicken or meat or fish with lots of spice…….it’s superb and we have had nothing but excellent remarks on the tours food stops.


Our first cruise we encountered a Russian heat wave and that wasn’t as nice as it sounds because the last place you want to be in hot temperatures is the Hermitage museum. It is one of the wonders of the world but with no air conditioning and 10,000 visitors a day it’s as hot and sweaty as Mr. Pete, the polar bear, in a sauna wearing his sister Paula as a fur coat. St. Petersburg should be a must on those of you who have a bucket list. It’s another country, mostly living in another time. St. Petersburg is a living version of a Tom Clancy novel and I absolutely love it. The city is as intense as Ben-Gay on your dangly bits. St. Petersburg is magnetic, mesmerizing and from what I have read on our TGEM comments and from what guests here on the Carnival Legend have told me, they think it’s absolutely brilliant! To finish with today, I want to share with you the list of current shows around the fleet. Here they are


Carnival Fantasy – The Brits / Motor City           


Carnival Ecstasy – The Brits / Motor City


Carnival Sensation – Far From Over / Curves


Carnival Fascination – Divas / Motor City


Carnival Imagination – Epic Rock / Divas


Carnival Inspiration – Studio VIP / Divas


Carnival Elation – Win / Just Rock


Carnival Paradise – 8 More Seconds /  Shout


Carnival Triumph – Wonderful World / Big Easy / Magic Show / Kiss Goodnight


Carnival Victory – Livin’ in America / Vroom


Carnival Spirit –  Big Easy / Jazz Hot / Singing with the Big Band / Magic Show


Carnival Pride – Wonderful World /Vroom / Jazzin


Carnival Legend – Big Easy / Jazz Hot / Magic Show


Carnival Conquest – The Brits / Motor City / Divas


Carnival Glory – Latin Nights / Motor City / Divas


Carnival Miracle – Ticket to Ride /Generations / Singing with the Big Band


Carnival Valor – Far From Over /  Nightclub Express / Magic Show


Carnival Liberty – Wonderful World / Just Rock / Singing with the Big Band


Carnival Freedom – Big Easy /  Ticket to Ride / Jump Jive & Wail


Carnival Splendor – The Beat / Vroom / Fiesta Latina


Carnival Dream – Dancin in the Street / Get Ready / 8 More Seconds


Carnival Magic – Destination Unknown /  Groove Line / Win / Kiss Goodnight


Carnival Breeze – The Brits / Motor City / Divas  


Carnival Sunshine – Latin Nights / Motor City / Studio VIP / Epic Rock



And here are the ships that currently have Carnival Legends.


Carnival Spirit

Carnival Pride

Carnival Legend (U.S. departures only)

Carnival Miracle

Carnival Valor

Carnival Liberty

Carnival Freedom

Carnival Splendor

Carnival Dream

Carnival Magic


You may notice that the shows I have listed for Carnival Inspiration and Carnival Imagination are not the shows that are on there at the moment. However, this fall, both ships enter dry dock and during this time, they will receive the new shows I have listed above. Carnival Legend will also get new shows but no final decision has been made for her or indeed for any of the other ships that will have a dry dock next year. I will, of course, let you know as soon as I do though.

Thanks to the cast and crew who each week are entertaining nearly 90,000 guests on our ships and thanks to you for the huge applause and standing ovations you continue to give them.


Well the sun is shining here in the Baltic and Lido looks like the Carnival Legend is on a Caribbean cruise. But can I remind all male cruisers of some important rules?


If your feet have fungus-filled nails and yellow zombie-like skin, please, don’t wear flip flops, especially when I am in line for my lunch at the buffet.


Men, please stop starring at the gorgeous ladies by the Lido pool. Nobody likes to see your neck swiveling around like a ventriloquist’s dummy………remember, that’s why dark sunglasses were invented.


And, most importantly, only Italians and Daniel Craig can wear Speedos. For everyone else, there are shorts. Please, FFS…………wear them!



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.