August 26, 2013 -

John Heald

 We serve of them on average of 600 portions each cruise here on the Carnival Legend and their popularity keeps on rising. There was a public outcry when due to droughts in Indonesia, we could not source them. Yep, we are of course talking about snails or to give them their posh name…….escargots. If there is such a thing as reincarnation, please, Mrs. God, don’t let me come back as a snail – what a miserable life they lead. You spend your life trying to avoid being swallowed by a bird, crushed underfoot into a shell/slime soufflé or boiled alive, smothered with garlic butter and devoured by Mr. and Mrs. Seaugo in the dining room of a Carnival ship. Regardless, it seems you love them and here is a photo of Sid the Snail and his mates as taken by Mr. Radu.


I am not French. I don’t smoke 100 cigarettes a day accompanied by as many coffees or own a small annoying dog that is allowed to crap anywhere it wants with the owner having no intention of clearing it up, I use deodorant and understand the word soap and oh, yes…….I pride myself on being polite and I do not eat snails. Personally, I would rather eat Simon Cowell’s nose hairs.


Time for today’s Q&A – here we go.


William Starks asks:

Hello John:

I wrote to you last year about a cruise that we were about to take on another cruise line.  Well we took the cruise and now we are back with Carnival.  We have a cruise on the Carnival Dream in October.  We are Platinum members.  I am not asking for anything, I just wanted to let you know that we missed Carnival. The other cruise line was OK but it wasn’t as much fun.  Carnival is far better!!!! We are going to try the anytime dinning since it is just the two of us cruising this time.  Looking forward to the cruise. Love your blog!!!


John says:

Hello William Starks,

What a fantastic start to the Q&A today and many thanks for taking the time to write. I do hope that you had a good time on the other cruise line but, of course, I am thrilled that you are coming home to Carnival. I thank you so much for your loyalty and if there is indeed anything I can do for you before you sail on the Carnival Dream, please let me know. Best wishes.



Raquel Champney asks:

John, Can you tell me why Carnival tends to hire people to serve their passengers whose English skills are less than adequate? Hiring more Americans to serve American passengers would make sense. I cannot tell you how many times DH and I struggled to make the staff, food servers and other incidental workers understand what we wanted and this became a frustration that spoiled our seven days of hard earned vacation time.

Raquel Champney


 John says:

Hello Raquel Champney,

I do hope that despite this concern that you had a great cruise. If though I may respectfully disagree with your comment and say that all our service staff speak English and have to abide by regulations set forth by the United States Coast Guard. English may not be their first language and they may speak with accents but they are able to understand fully what our guests request of them. I hope we will see you again soon and if you have a follow up to this, please let me know. Best wishes.



Ben Phippen asks:

We will be sailing on a holiday cruise on the Carnival Splendor. In your blog that I read today you answered a question about the ship being decorated for Xmas and you responded that it would be. I do hope that the decorations in question will not be overly done in Christian themes and major mention of the Xmas words etc because there will be many non-Christian passengers like me who have chosen a cruise to get away from the such things. Can you set my mind at ease as this has been grating on my mind ever since I read it?


John says:

Hello Ben Phippen,

Thank you for choosing the Carnival Splendor during the Christmas season and I am sure you will have a wonderful time. We do decorate the ship in a Christmas theme and that will include a traditional Christmas tree, etc. There will be a Christmas show and the crew though will acknowledge you all with wishes of Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. There will also be a Hanukah celebration for guests of the Jewish faith with a Menorah lighting service each night. It is a wonderful time to be on board. Please have a brilliant cruise and let me know if you have any more concerns. Best wishes.



Dani Lawrence asks:

We are cruising in December (our seventh) and it is a family cruise. (my daughter and her husband-their second, my mother and father in law- their 27th and 26th, respectively)  I want to know how do we find out if there are any special parties, costumed events on our ship that we can plan/pack for?  Who do we call or ask?  Thanks


John says:

Hello Dani Lawrence,

I am sure you are all excited about your cruise and although there are no special parties or costume events that cruise, the ship will be decorated for Christmas and you will all have a brilliant time. If there is anything at all I can help you with, please let me know and I wish you all the best of times. Best wishes.



Wendi Martis-Shaw asks:

Hey big guy, hook me up with a table for two, would ya? Me and Stuart cruise on Carnival Conquest September 8 under booking number ******. Nice to eat alone and have quality time together.


John says:

Hello Wendi Martis-Shaw,

I have asked the maître d’ to reserve you a table for two and I know he will do his best to do so. I wish you both the best of times and enjoy all the 2.0 upgrades the Carnival Conquest has. Best wishes.



Daniele Roch asks:

Where can I find the cruises you’ll be on for the following year? I’m from Montreal and our first cruise with Carnival was on the Carnival Triumph with you as cruise director and it was our favorite one. You’re simply the best, thank you and even if we are French-Canadians, we enjoyed ourselves and understood your wonderful jokes


John says:

Hello Daniele Roch,

Thank you – I am truly humbled by those words. I will be on the Carnival Miracle next year from May – August sailing in Alaska and it would be amazing if you could join me there. I hope so and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Hope to see you soon. Best wishes.



Jason Little  asks:

Hi John, I am cruising for the first time with my wife for our 10 year anniversary on the Carnival Liberty 9/7/13, and I was wondering what brand/ brands of soda does Carnival provide on board? I am a strict Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and Dr. Pepper drinker.  (I don’t like Coke and admit I am picky and I don’t drink alcohol). I called customer service three times and I can’t get a clear answer. Do you at least offer fruit punch and other juices? Hope I’m not stuck drinking water all trip, LOL. Thanks!


John says:

Hello Jason Little,

Well, I am afraid you won’t be happy because we have a contract with Coke and have all their products on board and no Pepsi products. We do though have Dr. Pepper and root beer and please remember you can bring 12 cans of soda per person on the ship so that should keep you going. I am sure this will be the first of many cruises and if there is anything at all I can do for you please let me know. Have a brilliant time. Best wishes.



Mike asks:

Hi John,

I so enjoy reading your blog and I’m a huge fan of the product Carnival provides.  We are lucky enough to be cruising on the Carnival Legend Sep 13. I’m really looking forward to meeting you; and your style of comedy will thrill my father (travelling companion).  We both love Fawlty Towers…timeless classic. This is a big trip for us and kind of a birthday trip for me as it’s on the 11th.  I’m not looking for anything special here; Carnival already provides a great product of value.  Meeting you would be cool for me.

Onto the question.  We love those fresh baked cookies that can be purchased before the cruise.  My question is: can these be purchased during sailing (after embarkation)?  I ask in case our cool travel agent is already going to surprise us, but if not I’m going to buy some because these are best cookies ever, hands down.  Thanks for your time and keeping this blog going; I enjoy it so.


John says:

Hello Mike,

It will not be long until you are here with me on the Carnival Legend and I will do all I can to keep you laughing and having fun. The ports are going to be fantastic and so will the shows and events here. Those cookies can be purchased each day from the Coffee Shop on deck 2 forward so I am sure I will see you there. If there is anything at all I can help you with, please let me know. Best wishes and see you soon.



D. Clark asks:

I think it is very unprofessional of you, Heald, to have paid for someone to write and spin a positive review about the Sunshine. (Name deleted) also asks for contributions to his website here. Double standard should be your middle name


John says:

Hello D. Clark,

I can honestly say that I do not have a sodding clue what you are talking about. So I will simply mention that I have read many positive reviews on this wonderful ship. Maybe you should come sail yourself and see just how superb she is. Best wishes.



Victor Mendoza asks:

I hope the Carnival Breeze has a Latin Band for the Hispanics who live in Miami. We cruise soon!!!!!


John says:

Hello Victor Mendoza,

Yes indeed, there is a duo on the ship that will play Latin music for you. I am sure you will have a brilliant time and enjoy this great ship and all she offers. Best wishes.



Niki Agnew asks:

Dear John,

We are booked for our first family cruise with the kids on the Carnival Splendor, Jan 20, 2014.  I have been looking at the cruise director schedule for this month and no one is posted.  I do not see you listed anywhere on the schedule for this month, is it possible we may be lucky enough to have you as our CD on this sailing?  That would make this cruise so special for us.  My husband and I read your blog and your Facebook page, I love how you answer all of the questions, you make me laugh out loud literally.  I will be hoping and watching to see who will be cruising with us as CD on the Splendor in Jan, 2014 and looking forward to your next blog entry. Thank you for everything you do for all of Carnival’s guests by answering questions and taking time to keep us all informed. Take care and happy cruising.



John says:

Hello Niki Agnew,

I am honoured that you were hoping that I would be the CD for your first family cruise together on the Carnival Splendor. I am though sorry to tell you that I won’t be there, I am afraid. Now as to who the CD will be, well, all will be revealed in the new CD schedule that I should be ready to post in a few weeks’ time here on the blog. Once you see it please let me know if you have any questions. I am sure this will be the first of many cruises together and if there is anything at all I can do for you, please let me know. Best wishes to you all.



Michael Tookes asks:

Booking Ref#******

I am asking for special dispensation for my son to be allowed not to have to be charged for the Behind the Fun tour that we are wishing to take when we set sail on the Inspiration. My son is serving with the U.S. Air Force and this will be our only time for a cruise together. I am hoping Carnival will allow a 21-year-old who is serving his country free access to this. Please do the right thing by us. The


John says:

Hello Michael Tookes,

I would like to start by saying a huge thank you to your son for his service and you must be very proud. I would love to say that along with the military booking discount we offer that we could waive the charge for the Behind the Fun tour. However, due to the fact that we have lots of military personnel cruising each week across the fleet, if we were to do this there would be no room for others as it is limited to just 16 guests. I see you are sailing in three weeks’ time and so I will be sending your son something to thank him for his service and to wish you all a wonderful cruise. Best wishes.



And that’s all for today and thanks again for all the questions and comments.


I know that some of you have recently received letters informing you that your cruise has been changed due to our ships going into dry dock. I wanted therefore to apologise to those whose plans have had to change and please know that our staff are on hand to help you change your bookings. Now the next question all of you will ask is “What upgrades, etc. will the ships be getting.” Well for that news you will have to wait a while longer. We have already announced the upgrades for the Carnival Legend and there will be more on the other ships soon. However, I will say that there are indeed some very exciting times ahead and I will of course keep you updated on everything that’s happening.


This cruise has gone well so far although there were some challenges today here in St. Petersburg with the city being readied for the G20 summit next week. This is where the world’s leading economic powerhouses come to discuss current events and to take the piss out of the French. Anyway, traffic diversions were already in place so it took some extra time to get the buses out of the terminal area and across the bridge but, in the end, all was well.


The other main challenge this week has been with one Mum and her 18 year old son. I have been writing about this on Facebook these past few days and the saga does continue, I am afraid. For those not up to speed, there is a guest here with us who has been asking for my help for her son to meet new friends of a similar age. We had an 18-to 20-year-old meet and greet and the two times we did this attendance was four or less. So the Mum, who obviously cares for her son very much, asked that I provide an entertainment staff member to walk her son around the ship and for this staff member to introduce her son to new friends. And so Keeley, one of the wonderful team I work with here did so and it was as she said “ very awkward.” Going up to people of his age group and saying, “This is (name); he is looking for someone to hang out with” was not easy and I am afraid to say, not successful. This seemed to upset Mum more than her son and she let me know in one of three conversations I have had with her that “I had let her son down.” In my last conversation after the show yesterday Mum told me more about her son and that he was “gifted” and that he had graduated from his school in Virginia top of his class etc., etc.


The more I spoke to her the more I realised that she was doing what all Mums do and that is do their best for their kids. All of us wrap up our children when it’s cold. We put them on booster seats in the car and make them wear so much safety equipment when they ride their bicycle it looks like they are doing so on the streets of Syria. We strive constantly to keep them out of harm’s way, and then we send them off to school so they can be punched, kicked, and learn how to swear by the time they are five.


I sat there listening to what this lady had to say about her son and two thoughts crossed my mind. The first was that when we had our conversations about how it was my responsibility to find her son a mate that he was never present at those meetings. Then I could not help but to think about my own daughter and how I want Kye to leave school with basic academic skills. But more than that, I want her to learn social skills so that she can interact properly with other human beings. I want her to learn to blog. I want her to enjoy life, to have fun. I can’t bear the thought of pressuring Kye so she can be put on a treadmill and have no social skills. School is supposed to prepare a person for life, not wear them out.


Yes, we must do everything we can to keep Kye safe. But we should also do everything we can to make her happy as well. And that is what I think this Mum wants as well, for her son to be happy. I have to admit that when I first met her that I thought she just wanted to detach her son from her coattails and have some fun with her sister who she is also traveling with.  Then I began to realise that her frustration and, I have to say at times anger, with me was caused purely because she felt bad for her son and wanted him to make new friends.


It is an awkward age for sure 18 to 20 and so I was thrilled when another guest approached me last night at cigars under the stars. He had read my Facebook posts and offered to help. He is British and is also in that age bracket and said he would gladly welcome this young man for a chat etc. And so tomorrow night after we sail from St. Petersburg, I have arranged for them to meet and I hope they become mates, even if it’s just for a few days. I will let you know.


Yep, Kye has been on my mind more than ever these past few days ever since I drove away from home eight days ago to the sound of her hysterical crying and shouts of, “I want a Dadda that stays with me.” Those words have resonated around everything else I do here on the Carnival ship. But I am lucky, I will see Kye in a couple of months and, of course, although I have been away from her a lot, it is nothing compared to the crew members who serve you during your cruise.


And with that in mind, please meet my cabin steward………no, not Ketut who retired for health reasons which he blames on my underpants……but the wonderful I Komang




Oh, before I continue, I must apologise for the quality of the photo. While Mr. Radu understands cameras and how they work, I do not. My little Olympus camera takes a picture about two years after I press the shutter button. My photograph album these days is full of snaps of chairs, taken after the person who was sitting there has got up, gone home and died.


Anyway, back to the story. Yesterday as I Komang was cleaning my cabin, I noticed that the usual smile that beamed from this young man from Indonesia was missing and so I asked him if he was OK. He told me he was happy but also sad. You see, four days ago, his lovely wife gave birth to their first child, a son. He was happy that his son and his wife were healthy and, well, but sad that he could not be there. In fact he won’t get to be home until December and I could see from his face just how sad that made him. I asked if he had some photos of the baby, maybe on email etc. But he doesn’t because in the Hindu religion, of which I Komang follows, it is forbidden to take photos of a newborn until they are exactly one month old.


So here I am complaining and feeling sorry for myself and while it doesn’t make me miss Kye any less, I do realise how lucky I am that I will see her soon and that I was there for the magical moment she came into our lives. And despite the nail marks in my hand, being called a bastard in seven different languages and seeing the alien arrival of the placenta thingy…… is an experience that I will never forget and would never have missed for anything.


Some of you may be asking why I Komang wasn’t home for the birth of his son. Well he is here on the ship and needs to be because like so many of the brilliant crew who look after you during the cruise, he is here to earn money to support his wife and his new son and give them a better life.


Today, I gave I Komang my phone and asked him to take it, sit on my balcony and call his wife and he did……..After the call his smile had returned and so I asked him what his son’s name was and here it is:


I WAYAN AGUS EKA DARMA PULRA…………………or Bob, for short.


Each crew member has a story and I encourage you on your next cruise to find out about the people behind the name tag. I think you will be surprised at some of the stories they have to tell.



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.