My morning started with tears, lots of tears. Not mine but one of my staff’s. A dancer, in fact, who was unceremoniously dumped by her Italian boyfriend who is home on vacation and told her by email that their two-year romance was over and, when he returned to Carnival Legend in New York, that he would be doing so as a single man. And that was me putting my big brother hat on. Actually, that’s bollocks. The dancer is 25 so I put my dad hat on……oh, FFS, I am seriously old. I felt very sorry for her and my offer of a shoulder to cry on accompanied by a box of tissues, seemed to help a little, but not much. I had seen her looking very sad backstage the night before and sensing something wasn’t right, I said if she needed to talk that she could call me. She did. And the water works began.

 It didn’t surprise me when she told me the reason why her eyes had become Niagara Falls. Breakups happen as quickly on ships as relationships do.  People date for a time and then break up and the worst part is that you have to continue to live and work with these people no matter what.  Some dancers across the fleet tend to fall in love with officers and this is the case in this relationship. Yep, the officers always got the girl, lucky bastards. They are all good looking– seriously, they all are and that’s why I never stood a chance with the dancers (or any other female crew member) when I was younger. They had faces that showed handsome lines and perfect hair and were handsome in that Dolce Vita Mediterranean kind of way. I, meanwhile, had a face like a bag of smashed oysters. They are all young and good looking and live at home with Mama until they are 60 but that’s because they spend all their money on blue suits, red shoes and hair product rather than mortgages.

 

It will certainly be an awkward moment when he returns to the Carnival Legend and my advice to the dancer was to look in the mirror, see how beautiful she was and to make him realize that he has lost something special. The crying stopped I told her the true story about the time that I kissed a girl and she vomited on me and eventually the crying was replaced by a smile, a weak one maybe, but a smile, nonetheless.

 

Before leaving my office, she told me she hated men and would never date anyone on a ship again. I nodded and smiled but, obviously, I know from experience that she was talking nonsense. She is beautiful and will date again for sure. Maybe she will date a bartender from Romania, a waiter from Honduras or a musician from Illinois. But she will for sure date again and quickly because that is how it is on ships……..and my bet is that her new boyfriend’s last name will end in a vowel.

 

Time for today’s Q and A – off we go

 

Timothy Dowder asks:

Need a table, not a booth for our cruise. Going on Carnival Conquest 9/22 and booking number for this is ******. last time out on Carnival Triumph my wife and I were put in a booth and we are both big people but nobody cared and we were uncomfortable the whole time. You are a fatty too, LOL, so I know you will get the point and why we need a table not a booth this time. Can you send us something special because it will be our 18th wedding anniversary and the second time we have celebrated our anniversary of 9/27 on Carnival?

 

John says:

Hello Timothy Dowder,

I can understand indeed that the booths for some are a tight fit so I am glad I saw this post and, therefore, can help you. I have asked the maître d’ on Carnival Conquest to help you and seat you at a table and I know he will do his best for you. I wish you a wonderful cruise and a very happy anniversary. Best wishes.

John

 

Bill OBrien asks:

Does the Carnival Legend have the same tired shows the Brits, Divas, & Motor City that were on the Conquest the last three times I sailed? Sailing November 2013.

 

John says:

Hello Bill O’Brien,

Obviously, opinions vary on each show we have but I certainly would not call the shows you mentioned as “tired” as they have only been on that ship for a year and were first produced just two or so years ago. Carnival Legend has the shows Jazz Hot and Big Easy plus a large illusion and dance show as well all of which I am sure you will enjoy. The ship will get new shows during the dry dock in late January and I will have details of that soon. Best wishes.

John

 

Mandy Meaden asks:

Hey, can you get me and my new husband to play the Newlywed Game on our cruise? We have seen it the last time and we want to play. I want it to be a surprise for Jonathan which will be an awesome thing for our honeymoon. Jonathan and I will be joined by both our parents and my sister and her husband so it will be a surprise for them as well. We are excited to cruise on October 5 from Fort Lauderdale where we live. I hope that you get this done for us, John, and make our honeymoon extra special!!!!!

 

John says:

Hello Mandy Meaden,

Thank you for spending your honeymoon with us here at Carnival Cruise Lines and on the Carnival Freedom. The newlywed game is now called the Love and Marriage game and each cruise director has their own way of doing this. Brad is the cruise director on the Carnival Freedom and it will be his choice if he pre-selects you for the show. Now, I will send him this and ask that he give you serious consideration which I know he will but I did want to make sure that I explained that, ultimately, it would be his choice. I wish you a great cruise and I wish you many wonderful years together.  Best wishes.

John

 

Evelyn George asks:

This is in regards to the Cheers program. My husband and I are thinking about getting this on our cruise when we go April 2014. Does the 15-drink limit include the soda and non-alcoholic frozen drinks or is the 15 drink a day for the alcohol?

 

John says:

Hello Evelyn George,

Thanks for writing and the 15-drink limit does not include non-alcoholic beverages. Please let me know if you have any other questions and I will do my best to help you before you cruise next year. Best wishes.

John says:

 

Shane Doukas asks:

As a native New Yorker, I have to tell you that the pizza on Carnival Breeze sucked badly. Maybe that’s because you have pizza makers from India making them and let’s say it plain and simple that India is not known for its pizza!!! Get a proper pizza chef, then I will be able to eat it. Spoke to hundreds of other passengers, they all said the same.

 

John says:

Hello Shane Doukas,

Respectfully, I will start by saying that our chefs do a fantastic job and are all trained in how to make great pizza and I think they do a wonderful job.  We get great feedback on our pizza but the subject continues to split opinion. For every person who says they don’t like the thinner crisper pizza we have on some ships, I can show you just as many if not more who say it’s the best. I know there is such division between New York and Chicago on this very subject. Anyway, I hope you had a great cruise and by the way, curried pizza is a specialty in Mumbai, you should try it. Best wishes.

John

 

Mary asks:

Hello John, I have really enjoyed your page here and FB. I have a small group I have planned for over a year. We sail on the Carnival Magic Nov 17. Would love excursion suggestions. Also, why does the Cheers program make the 21 over purchase in same cabin? My daughter is 22 but does not drink. So I understand I pay individual for alcohol. Is there also a gratuity added to each drink? Bit confused, but so looking forward to and appreciative of my first cruise of many I am sure. Thanks in advance.

 

John says:

Hello Mary,

Thank you for bringing your group to the Carnival Magic. Please have a look at the shore excursion pages on carnival.com and see what you and the group fancy. Then please send me your questions here or on Facebook and I will be happy to answer them for you. There are certainly lots to choose from and I am sure you will have a brilliant time. As for the Cheers program, we do require everyone who is of drinking age to buy it. I am afraid for now, this is the only way we can control it and not have people using it to buy drinks for others. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you and I wish you all a brilliant time. Best wishes.

John

 

Drew W asks:

I will be cruising on the Carnival Imagination next month on a B2B (yay!).  I am also planning a cruise with some friends in December.  I would have liked to book my next cruise on board so I could get the OBC, but it turns out the Carnival Imagination does not have a future cruise desk!  For people who cruise on those ships, is there any way to get that OBC? Thanks – and thanks for the entertaining blog!

 

John says:

Hello Drew W,

Thanks for the kind words and I am glad to see you enjoy my writing. I am afraid that you are right and, indeed, the Carnival Imagination does not have a Loyalty Cruise Expert. This is the only way to get the OBC as we don’t have this option via the Internet or phone, etc. I am sorry about that but hope you will still have a great time and please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you. Best wishes.

John

 

Franklin Whiddon asks:

My wife and I recently cruised for the first time from Jacksonville, Fla., aboard Carnival Fascination. We had a fabulous time and our suite was awesome. My question for you concerns something special for my wife. We will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary in April. I am planning on booking a Caribbean cruise aboard Carnival Magic. I want to present my wife a diamond ring in a special way. Have you any suggestions as to the most romantic way I can do this aboard a cruise, or is this something that I may can get some staff involved in helping me with? I love her with all my heart and want this cruise, especially this day, to be the most memorable for her.

 

John says:

Hello Franklin Whiddon,

How lovely and what a beautiful way to celebrate this special milestone. My suggestion would be a night at the steakhouse and a beautiful table for two. Now you can present it there and indeed the waiters will help bring it with dessert, etc. Or maybe, after dinner you can take a stroll on the open deck and accompanied by the sounds of the sea and the twinkle of the Caribbean stars, you can tell her what these 25 years have meant to you and present her with the ring. I hope this helps and, of course, I am here to help you any way I can. Best wishes to you both.

John

 

Jason Thomas asks:

I plan on booking a trip on Carnival Pride in December and, while I would prefer two adjoining staterooms, I don’t see any available. Can the balcony dividers be removed on the Carnival Pride? Also, can one smoke on the balcony? If not, can you let me know where all the smoking areas are so I can select a stateroom accordingly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

John says:

Hello Jason Thomas,

We don’t have the adjoining rooms but, yes, most of the dividers can be opened so if you let me know, I will arrange that for you. Smoking is allowed on balconies and there are no current plans to change that that I’m aware of. Have a great cruise and let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

John

 

Ken EZ4 asks:

There is someone who writes on this blog and used to on Cruise Critic where he has been banned because of his behavior. He has two different names and uses them both to say that Carnival can do and has never done any wrong. His name is ___________ and his other name is _________ . Are you paying him? If you are, then you should be reported and fired. You are a miserable excuse as an ambassador to Carnival.

 

John says:

Hello Ken EZ4,

While I can’t and won’t comment on what happens on other websites as that is none of my business, I will say that we are not “paying” anybody to write reviews or comments and if someone is having great things to say about this great company, then that is because that is what they think. And, as always, we welcome opinions and, positive or not, that is how we continue to learn what our guests want. Please then continue to express your opinion and I will be here to listen. Best wishes.

John

 

Becky Below asks:

Hello John! I just returned from a cruise on the Carnival Breeze and wanted to say that we had the best dining room team we have had on any of our cruises. We were in the Blush dining room with Leodan, Adrian and Marwin. They were fantastic! Another thing I really enjoyed was the strawberry bisque appetizer! It was my favorite thing I had on the cruise and am dying for the recipe! I have seen you post soup recipes before and would absolutely LOVE to have this one.  Any way you could make that happen for me and I am sure the others who have had the joy of tasting this soup? Thanks for the laughs!

Becky

 

John says:

Hello Becky Below,

I am so glad you had fun on the Carnival Breeze and I will be sure to pass on your kind words to the waiters you mentioned and they will be thrilled. I have been posting a lot of soup recipes recently on my facebook.com/johnheald page and they are very popular for sure. Here is the one you requested that I hope you enjoy making at home.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups strawberry (frozen)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • fresh mint (flavor and garnish)

 

Puree strawberries, milk, whipping cream and sour cream in blender or food processor until smooth. Stir in sugar. Chill eight hours or overnight in refrigerator before serving. Best wishes.

John

 

And that is all for today.

 

I love cigars. I don’t drink any alcohol, I work hard and I love my wife and daughter unconditionally. But I love cigars, they relax me and I enjoy being around the people who smoke cigars with me. My true life hero smoked cigars and they were the mark of Winston Churchill. He was rarely seen without one. And let’s face it, the cigar smoking fraternity (think Sylvester Stallone, Jack Nicholson, Mark Twain, Michael Jordan and the assistant coach of the Miami Heat who wears a bow tie and loves cigars and whose name I have no sodding clue of) is pretty cool. Smoking is not a subject that I enjoy talking about because it is always going to cause emotion and differences of opinion. But smoking is being talked about again because the company that operates the Various Things of the Seas announced that they will not allow smoking on their balconies come 2014.

 

Upon reading this, hundreds of you wrote on my blog and on Facebook immediately asking if Carnival was going to go the same way. And those questions always had an opinion added with words like “I will never cruise Carnival again if you ban smoking on a balcony” to “I hope Carnival bans smoking as well so I can enjoy my balcony and not be subjected to the stench of cigarette smoke.” Yep, those are two quotes verbatim from guests proving that opinion is indeed divided. So let me state that, as per the senior beards at Carnival, as of now, there are no plans to ban smoking on the balconies at this time. That’s not to say that our smoking policies are constantly evolving but Carnival will continue to allow you to smoke on a balcony, never in the cabins themselves and never on a spa cabin balcony.

 

Now, some of you may be wondering why not, why don’t we copy others, why do we and NCL allow smoking on a balcony? Now I am not a beard, I am not intelligent enough to understand what the senior beards base their decisions on, decisions that have kept Carnival at the top of the cruise industry. So this then is an opinion, based on bugger all fact, just me, sitting here on the

Carnival Legend in my underpants trying to think this through. The answer to me is that if a family or a group books a cruise and just one person smokes, Carnival will not be a vacation choice. They will end up going to places where you can smoke like ummmm ……. mmmmm …….Moscow or Chad. Smoking is only allowed in a few select areas and most of our ships are smoke free but there is still choice and, that, I think is maybe what the beards are thinking.

 

Lots of people ask me why we can’t have one side of the ship smoking and the other non-smoking. If only it were that simple, it’s not for many reasons. But there is one thing we can do and that is have respect for those who don’t smoke by bearing them in mind when and if we are outside having a smoke and maybe waiting for them to leave before continuing. Yes, I know that’s not a popular idea and some will be suggesting I have rumpy pumpy with myself but respect of your fellow guests may lead to a happy medium and allow smoking on balconies to continue. I am very lucky here on the Carnival Legend as my crew quarters have a balcony and one of the treats of sailing through the fjords has been being able to enjoy the lush green scenery accompanied by an Opus X Lost City. But I would stop immediately if the guests on my left-hand side came out to their balcony. I would remain sitting there in my mostly white underpants…..but I would stop smoking.

 

So bottom line. For now, there will be no changes to the current smoking program that has most guest areas as non-smoking. But something tells me that this will not be the end of the story.

I am writing this morning while the ship is docked in Hamburg and guests are ashore exploring the city in what is unfortunately a wet and grey day. While we had stunning weather for our Norway trips, the last three days of this cruise here in Germany, tomorrow in Holland and the day after in France look to be wet and grey……Das Bugger……Van Der Bollocks……..and Le FFS
But the guests are not worried and continue to have a wonderful time and this afternoon after sailing they will have the splendid experience of three hours of river cruising as Captain Donato takes the Carnival Legend down the River Elbe.

 

The guests loved, I mean really loved, the Norwegian ports although many told me that they had no idea it would be so expensive to shop and eat there and they are right, of course. The high standard of living and high salaries mean that day to day living is expensive and makes Grand Cayman look cheap. One guest told me how she had paid the equivalent of $48 for a bowl of pasta with bits of fish on it. Sorry, but unless it’s served by naked Norwegian supermodels and comes with a complimentary Aston Martin…….that’s just bollocks. But with the exception of one lady who was upset that she was served slices of Bambi………the guests loved the Norwegian ports and I really hope that my plea to the beards to return here in 2015 will be heard.

 

Oh, I nearly forgot …………..Merry Christmas everyone and here are the dates that the ships will receive their festive decorations:

 

DATE:

SHIP:

PORT:

Sunday, November 17, 2013

GLORY

MIAMI, FL

Monday, November 18, 2013

IMAGINATION

MIAMI, FL

 

 

 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

PARADISE

TAMPA, FL

Sunday, November 17, 2013

LEGEND

TAMPA, FL

 

 

 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

FANTASY 

FREEPORT, BAHAMAS  (POC)

 

 

 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

FREEDOM

FT. LAUDERDALE, FL

 

 

 

Monday, November 25, 2013

FASCINATION

JACKSONVILLE, FL

 

 

 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

SUNSHINE

NEW ORLEANS, LA

Monday, November 25, 2013

ELATION

NEW ORLEANS, LA

 

 

 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

VALOR

SAN JUAN, PR

 

 

 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

LIBERTY

MIAMI, FL

Sunday, December 01, 2013

CONQUEST

MIAMI, FL

 

 

 

Sunday, December 01, 2013

MIRACLE

LONG BEACH, CA

Monday, December 02, 2013

INSPIRATION

LONG BEACH, CA

 

 

 

Saturday, December 07, 2013

BREEZE

MIAMI, FL

Sunday, December 08, 2013

VICTORY

MIAMI, FL

 

 

 

Friday, December 06, 2013

SPLENDOR

PT. CANAVERAL, FL  (POC)

Saturday, December 07, 2013

DREAM

PT. CANAVERAL, FL

Sunday, December 08, 2013

SENSATION

PT. CANAVERAL, FL

 

 

 

Saturday, December 07, 2013

TRIUMPH

GALVESTON, TX

Sunday, December 08, 2013

MAGIC

GALVESTON, TX

 

 

 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

PRIDE

PT. CANAVERAL, FL  (POC)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

ECSTASY

PT. CANAVERAL, FL

 

 

 

Sunday November 24, 2013 

SPIRIT 

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yep, Christmas will be coming to our ships and the trees will be decorated and the holly and the ivy will adorn the Promenade Deck. The fleet’s decorations will not be done by the crew but by “Professional Christmas Decorators” who have beards and sandals and love green things and who make a living by decorating other people’s Christmas trees. Don’t you find that amazing? That someone has persuaded a bank that there is a demand for such a thing, let alone such a volume of demand that it would overcome the extremely seasonal nature of the business? I can only presume that they charge Carnival a huge amount of money and, although the decorations look good, it is surely something the crew of each ship could do themselves …….and probably make it look good…..and having fun doing so. I don’t want to sound all “bah humbugish” but some of these decorations will go up on November 17, 2013 …. is it me or is that too early?

 

When I was a kid, the decorations went up in our house the week before and, of course, Christmas shopping started on December 20……….not in sodding July. And the moment those decorations go up, the ship’s music system will start blending in Christmas music and the elevators will be filled with the sound of Mariah Carey singing “All I Want for Christmas is You.”……..Oh, FFS. Thinking about it, maybe I should hire these professionals to decorate our house at home. And thinking about it some more, I could have popped off the ship in Oslo yesterday and picked my own Christmas tree, it would certainly be a lot cheaper and less hassle than what I usually have to do. Heidi insists that we must have a real Christmas tree and visit many garden centers looking for the perfect specimen. Then, as usual, I will have to carry the sodding thing to the car, it will be too big and we will not be able to close the trunk and then I will have to tie the trunk lid to the bottom of the car to allow half a Norwegian rainforest to stick out the back.

 

Then, I will have to carry the tree in the house and will no doubt cut myself on the pines and, while blood is dripping from my wound, I will be assigned to the doghouse because I have either bent one of the branches during transportation or allowed too many of the pine needles to drop on the floor. Of course, the pain and suffering will continue as I have to stand holding the damn thing while Heidi examines the tree from all angles to make sure it is not leaning to one side.

 

Then, once the tree is straight and Heidi has approved the position, the real hell begins as we start to decorate the tree. My job is to stand holding the box of balls and things which we have once again spent a billion dollars on …………..again.

 

I did once ask why we cannot use the same ones every year and I was told that Christmas tree decoration is like fashion…….it changes every year and I was about to tell Heidi what a load of bollocks this was when she gave me that look………that said shut up or it will be your chestnuts that will be roasting on an open fire. I can’t believe we are talking about Christmas in sodding September. The world has gone mad and so have I.

 

Goodnight.

Your friend,

John

 

 

 

 

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.