September 17, 2013 -

John Heald

 I started to give up caring what clothes I wore and about fashion as I gradually got fatter during my late twenties, in the same way I gave up on nightclubs, ever seeing my gentleman’s sausage again without the help of a mirror, or downing tequila shots at Carlos and Charlie’s with Calvyn in Cozumel. Even as a kid, I didn’t care and the only time I did care about clothes was during my single and thin twenties when I thought clothes could get me some rumpy pumpy. This proved to be bollocks because you can’t polish a turd……..if you get my meaning. As a cruise director, though, I have to look smart…..ish. My usual attire is a blue blazer, open-neck shirts and nicely pressed trousers and mostly clean underpants. Comfortable shoes are also a must for me.


On elegant night I have a suit and I make myself wear a tie. I probably should wear a tuxedo but I have never enjoyed them. I don’t get the idea of wearing a little bow that looks like it would be at home on one of those little dogs that Paris Hilton carries in her purse. I admit that, on some men, a bow tie looks elegant but when I wear a tuxedo and a bow tie, I look like a 1980’s nightclub bouncer.  Most of my colleagues, though, do wear tuxedos and that’s because most are metrosexual and thin…….the bastards. The tuxedo looks good but with cummerbunds, cufflinks and a real bow tie to fasten and to position under the triangle collar it is easier to understand trigonometry in Mongolian……..than to put one on. Nope, a suit and tie is as far as I go these days and I have often wondered if I came out on stage, to host say a travel talk wearing a pair of sweat pants and huge T-shirt…….would anyone care? Would people listen to me less and buy fewer tours if I wasn’t wearing my usual blazer and open-neck shirt? I wonder.


Time for today’s Q and A………………let’s crack on shall we?


Melinda Gold asks:

There will be lots of people writing to you about this subject for sure because it has angered so many loyal Carnival customers. The fact that Carnival has replaced the comfortable mattresses with cheaper ones made in China or some other third world country and has done this under the radar hoping we would not notice is unprofessional and shows that you have little regard for your customers. What say you to this as complaints, it appears, are happening each cruise on all the ships.


John says:

Hello Melinda Gold,

I have to say that this simply isn’t true. I have no idea where you heard this, Melinda, but honestly, and respectfully, it is absolute rubbish. Our mattresses are the same design and same make and, for years, have been manufactured in Holland. I know we spoke about mattresses here a few months ago and I say the same thing now as I said then. If you think your mattresses are not to your liking please tell your stateroom steward and he or she will do their best to help you by replacing it or adding a topper thingy to it. Most of our guests continue to get a great night’s sleep in our beds and it simply isn’t true that “it appears are happening each cruise on all the ships.” So, please ignore what you may have read elsewhere and know that you will sleep well on board. Please let me known if you have a follow up question. Best wishes.



John Tessani asks:

Hello John from another John – a Texan John, no less. We love sailing Carnival and love the Carnival Magic and have cruised now twice on this ship this year and have another cruise planned in January next year. My only comment is that we are seeing the same shows over and over again and wondered if in January there would be new shows for us to enjoy.

John Tessani


John says:

Hello John Tessani,

I am glad to see how much you enjoyed the Carnival Magic. While on your next cruise you will see different comedians and different variety acts but the three shows featuring the dancers and singers will remain the same. We really can only change these during a dry dock as they are complicated shows that just can’t be changed without the ship being out of operation due to scenery, re-choreographing, etc. It’s quite complicated, believe me. Please let me know if there is anything I can do before you cruise again and I hope you continue to enjoy Carnival Magic. Best wishes.



Trent Gilston asks:

I was the leader and organizer of a Cruise Critic roll call on the Carnival Dream who cruised on 8/10. How come on every other cruise line the captain and the cruise director and other officers attend and stand at the door to meet the roll call members. On our roll call, there was no captain or cruise director or any staff member at all which screams Carnival does not care about Cruise Critic members. We had 40 people attend and it was the focus of the conversation we all had together. It is very upsetting to know that no care or attention was afforded us. Very disappointing!!!!!!


John says:

Hello Trent Gilston,

First of all, I do hope that you and your Cruise Critic friends had fun together. It is not always possible for the cruise director to attend, most will try to if their schedule permits but often they cannot because they are on stage or hosting an activity or working elsewhere for all the other guests. Jaime D would have been your CD during the cruise and I know she always will try and go but the rest of the 3,000-plus guests need to be accounted for as well, I am sure you will understand that. The captains also have their schedules, etc., and most often, will not attend these functions. Each week I help organise a lot of Cruise Critic meetings and provide raffle prizes as well and I hope that shows we do care and we do want you and all Cruise Critic members to have the best of times.


Donna Jones asks:

I cannot believe I am doing this, but here goes. Why is Carnival not allowing you to cool your cabin to your personal likes? I was on the Carnival Magic this past May and my cabin was so hot we could not sleep. All they would say was that the standard temp is between 72 and 74. That is way too hot for me to sleep. I have never had this problem on any of my previous Carnival cruises. I have actually been sick since the third night of my cruise. I emailed Carnival twice with the only reply is that my cabin was within the normal standard. I have been one of Carnival’s biggest cheerleaders, but if they continue to keep the cabins that warm, I will have to find another cruise line. If you research Cruise Critic, you will see several more passengers were hot in their cabin also. Thank you.
Donna Jones


John says:

Hello Donna Jones,

Please don’t worry about expressing your feelings because that’s what this blog is for. I am afraid I have no time to research Cruise Critic but I did talk about this on my Facebook page recently and I had 1,000 comments or so to the question, “What is a comfortable temperature for you in our cabins?” It was very interesting reading what people think of as comfortable, it was so varied. The ship does have individual temperature controls but it seems that maybe the air flow was not as you would have wished it, for which I apologise. I can tell you that it is absolutely not true that we do not allow guests to alter the temperature on ships that do have the individual controls. I do apologise that the cabin was not to your liking and I am sure on your next cruise that it will be. Thanks so much for taking the time to write and hope we see you soon

Best wishes.



Megan asks:

Hi John,

I am seeing the 2/17/2014 cruise on the Carnival Victory as fully available to be booked on Carnival.com, and I’m interested in booking it, however, I’ve seen some reports that she will enter dry dock that date! Is this true? If so, why is that date still available? Any input would be great, thanks so much! Love the blog!


John says:

Hello Megan,

Carnival Victory starts her dry dock on September 25 so please go ahead and book and let me know as you do if you have any questions. Thanks so much for the kind words and I wish you a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.



Susan Genau asks:

When will LUGGAGE EXPRESS be added to the Carnival Breeze??? Sailing on the 10/26, and really want to take advantage of this program. Have used it on many other ships!! Anxiously awaiting a response!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


John says:

Hello Susan Genau,

I am told by the ship that it will be in place ready to start next week, so by the time you sail it will be there for you. I wish you a wonderful cruise. Best wishes.



David Masenfer asks:

We were on the Baltic cruise with you, John, and have two comments that I want to pass on. The cruise was good and the people who brought our food and serviced our cabins were top of the class but there were two disturbing factors. I found the German party you presented to be very uncomfortable.  As someone who had family members slaughtered in Auschwitz, a celebration of German music, much of which was military marching style music, was offensive to me and I am sure other passengers as well. I understand you did not put this on to upset me but after our conversation on deck that night, I would have hoped you would have canceled further performances but I read that you did not. I then have no choice but to take this to the higher ups Mr. Heald, as you seem to be less than sympathetic to my concerns. The second point I wish to raise is the wait time we had on anytime dining option which on some evenings was an unacceptable 30 minutes. This must be addressed quickly or there will be more negative feedback from more and more passengers.


John says:

Hello David Masenfer,

I remember our conversation well and, as I said then I say now, and that is how very sorry I am that hearing the music played by what we call the German Oompah Band stirred your emotions.  We continued to have the parties featuring this music because the overall feedback was that our guests truly enjoyed it. I, again, apologise most sincerely for the upset this caused you. I understand that at peak times on the Baltic cruises that there were longer than usual wait times for Your Time Dining. This was mostly between 7:30 pm and 8 pm when many guests chose to eat. We will work harder to change this and get better in seating guests earlier. I do hope you had an enjoyable cruise and hope we see you soon. Best wishes.



Bettina Washington asks:

How do I get one of those upgrades that everyone else seems to get? I am a single parent — can you wave the magic wand and get me an upgrade? My booking is going to be on Carnival Ecstasy September 28 and I would like an upgrade to one with a window for me and my two kids which they would just love. Can you do this please, Carnival?!!


John says:

Hello Bettina Washington,

I wish I could but upgrades are not something I have the ability to offer. Most of the time the ships are sold out and upgrades are a rare thing. I have though noted your sailing date and will send you and the kids something to wish you a wonderful time. Best wishes.



Johnny Sophronia asks:

I have a large group of 14 going on the Carnival Glory from New York 9/21. Do you guys show the NFL games? We are all from Pittsburgh and want the Bears – Steelers game to be shown on the giant screen. How do we get that done?


 John says:

Hello Johnny Sophronia,

I am sure you will have a great time on the ship and will have loads of fun. I will have the games being shown on the ships posted on my Facebook.com/johnheald page on Thursday so please check then and I hope the game you wish for will be one of them. Best wishes to you all.



Cindy asks:

What is the date of the bloggers’ cruise on Carnival Sunshine out of New Orleans? You mentioned February 2014 but no date in your blog today.


John says:

Hello Cindy,

The registration for Bloggers Cruise 7 is now available on the top of this page. I hope to see you on the Carnival Sunshine on February 16 and if you have any questions, please let me know

Best wishes.



That’s all for today.


Good morning from Dublin, Ireland, where our guests are enjoying Irish hospitality and enjoying tours through the gorgeous Irish countryside and to see its castles and, of course, quaff a pint of Guinness. We have an excursion to the brewery where the famous black beer is made and it is sold out, both departures full of guests from the Carnival Legend. Once they have explored the brewery, and drank their two complimentary pints of Guinness they will be taken to a true Irish pub for a fish and chips lunch and yep…..another pint of Guinness.  I am sure there will be a few of our guests returning to the ship today with their liver as hard as the Blarney Stone singing their own unique versions of Danny Boy. It is great to be here and, despite some showers yesterday in Glasgow, and one early this morning here in Dublin, there is no doubt that all the guests are absolutely enjoying this wonderful cruise……………well, nearly all.


Sent: Monday, September 16, 2013 9:26 AM
Subject: Request for a meeting with you John – Mr _________ cabin ****


Good Day John,

Mr ——– has requested a meeting with you. He will not tell me what he wants, just that he is unhappy with aspects of the cruise. Please can you organize to meet Mr_________ at your earliest time?

Thank you and kind regards,

Guest Services Supervisor, Carnival Legend

Carnival Cruise Lines


And so after sailing from Glasgow last night I met with this guest by the coffee shop. I have recently moved my meetings with guests from the lobby to the coffee shop. This was a tactical move on my part. You see, I meet the guests and offer them a coffee and a huge cookie which I hope will break the ice and make it a more casual meeting. I met this guest, who I knew instantly was not a happy chappy. Funny, isn’t it, that after all these years doing this I can tell straight away who isn’t going to want to give me a hearty handshake and say, “Who cares about the rain? We are having a brilliant time.” Yep, when he approached me, I knew from his body language that I was never going to be on his Christmas card list.


So, what can I tell you about this chap? Well, he’s American and lives in Anaheim, California.  This cruise on Carnival Legend is his first-ever Carnival cruise but it is his 14th cruise. I know this because he produced a piece of paper from his pocket with a list of the ships he had been on before. There were some Xs, a dollop of the something of the seas and the last three cruises had been on Crystal.


So, what did he like about the Carnival Legend?  Well he thought the crew was friendly and his stateroom steward he said was “excellent.” What did he not like about his Carnival Legend cruise? Well, he despised the decor of the ship, did not like the food, any of the food at breakfast lunch or dinner or anything in between. He also made a point of saying he did not like the guests who were sailing here, saying that they were “not what he had expected.” He didn’t enjoy the shows and was disappointed that I had not provided more historical lectures about the ports of call.


I had to ask then why he had broken away from his usual cruise history and his answer was simple, “The price.” He had seen the cruise advertised, booked last minute and here he is.

But even taking the brilliant value for money into the equation and having heard his list of previous cruises, it was obvious that quite simply Carnival wasn’t for him. Now some of you may be expecting me to launch into my usual rant about this and defend the company I love like a knight would defend his king. But not this time. You see, I spent 20 minutes listening to this chap.  He didn’t shout, he didn’t want anything, he just wanted to tell me Carnival was not for him. He simply wasn’t comfortable here.


Sometimes certain people feel comfortable doing, eating, sailing on and wearing different things. I mean, would Oprah Winfrey buy her pursers from the $10 sale at our onboard Fun Shops. Would LeBron James drive a SMART car? Would Megan Fox turn up for Oscars wearing a full length tweed skirt and a cardigan knitted by her Great Aunt Molly? Can you imagine me as a CD for Cunard telling the jokes I tell and being………..well………me?


People tend to know what suits them……..and what doesn’t. It is rare to find someone who has just finished reading The Complete Works of Shakespeare and has now picked up a copy of 50 Shades of Grey. So value for money is what brought this chap to Carnival but even that wasn’t enough to put a smile on his face. I will keep trying as, of course, will all the crew here. I have changed his dinner seating as he did not care for the people he was seated with and they now have a table for two. But 26 years of experience tells me that this will be his one and only Carnival cruise.


And while I am talking about moody guests, I might as well tell you about this letter I received a couple of days ago. You may remember that we had to skip Belfast and call at Liverpool instead due to the weather conditions. For the most part, guests handled this very well and they absolutely loved Liverpool yet once again some guests’ expectations of what should happen when we miss a port are completely different to most. Here is what I mean:




I discussed this on Facebook yesterday and I will mention it again here. You see, in my opinion, the guests that wrote this letter know deep down in their hearts that we are not responsible for the weather. They know that to suggest that they be compensated because we missed Belfast is not going to happen. What they do know though is that if they shout loud enough someone will listen and maybe, just maybe, they will get something, anything, for throwing their toys out of the stroller and have a good old scream. Oh and it’s not a few bits of fruit in a straw basket they want, it’s money.


In this case, the shore excursion manager, guest services manager and I met with them briefly and while being sympathetic that they missed the tour they wanted to do so much we explained that there were no grounds for compensation. There were then the veiled threats of never cruising with us again and mention that another cruise line had given each passenger $100 credit when they missed a port. But what got me was the surprised and indeed shocked look on their faces when they were told they were not getting any money. They had come into the meeting expecting not everything they had asked for but were confident, I think, that we would cave and give them something. But we didn’t, not this time at least.


It is funny how some guests moan at me and other crew members about the weather. It’s a cruise ship thing, that’s for sure. If I book a week at Disney and it rains, I would never dream of standing in line at the front desk of my Disney hotel to tell the receptionist with the perfect teeth and that perfect Disney smile that I was pissed off because it was raining. So why is it that people do this on cruise ships?


The other day I asked on Facebook what the readers thought the toughest job on the ship was and 844 of you posted your answers. There were many different thoughts on this from dishwashers, environmental or garbage separators and some said cruise director which I totally agree with, naturally. But seriously, to me, one of the toughest jobs on the ships has to be one that on the Carnival Legend is done by a young lady from South Africa whose name is Michelle.


Yep, Michelle is the Carnival Legend’s pedicurist and I could never ever do what she does, not for all the money in the world and unlimited rumpy pumpy with Latvian models. OK…….that is, of course, bollocks but for anything less than all the money in the world and unlimited rumpy pumpy with Latvian models, I would never be able to do what Michelle does. You see her entire day is spent holding feet, other people’s feet, and just the thought makes me want to vomit. You see ladies and gentlemen, I despise feet, all feet, with nearly the same passion as I despise waking up to find a huge boil on my gentleman’s sausage, people who blame me for being for the weather, guests who rub my stomach…….and the French.


I’m told that there are secret places in basements where people go just to partake in the art of toe sucking. How is this possible? How can a man look at a lady and think, “Quawwww, look at the big toe on her!” I think my hatred of feet began when I was a bar waiter on the Holiday and shared a cabin and dorm-style shared bathrooms with various nationalities who all would shower in their bare feet ……. me…. I wore my Wellington boots. There’s nothing worse than taking a shower and watching a cluster of hair float over your feet.


In years gone by most men would never wear sandals. The Indonesian, Filipino and Caribbean crew would but never the male guests. But suddenly, it became acceptable for men to wear sandals and flip-flops and they even became a major fashion statement and, as soon as the sun came out, it meant getting your feet out in flip-flops, sandals and the shoes similar that Jesus would take off before he went for his morning stroll on the water.


Why do we do this? Heat rises. There is absolutely no reason why your feet, way down there at the bottom, should, in shoes and socks, get any hotter in summer than in winter. Your top half, sure, but not your feet. And feet are ugly…. think of me-naked-covered-in-baby-oil ugly.

Back to feet and I also absolutely hate the yellowed, cracked toenails and the fully blackened one on the right from where a LeBron James-sized chap stood on it a few years ago.


How can bringing these out in public be considered acceptable? The sight of such a foot in flip-flops, walking on Lido Deck is just so wrong, the plastic sole going slap, slap, slap against the sweaty arch. And sometimes you see people in flip-flops when they come on stage. Seriously, aren’t they worried that somebody will stamp on their toes – either accidentally or, if the somebody happens to be me……. deliberately?


And, sorry, ladies but your feet are not much better. They are usually smaller, at least, which is something. And they are sometimes better kept, ready to make a place for nail varnish. Oh, how women love to paint a toe. For most of the year, they can only slap brightly colored chemicals over their eyes, lips, nose, cheeks, hair and fingernails. Summer opens up 10 new little canvasses for some nail technician to paint on. And what’s with all these women who don’t really have a toenail on their little toe, just the merest sliver of nail poking out in the middle?


Surely, then the worst job on the ship is Michelle’s who sits up at the Helen of Troy spa all day every day, holding slabs of cheddary feet. At what point in her life did she wake up and say “You know what Mum, when I leave school, I want to work on a huge cruise ship scraping dead skin of people’s feet.” So today I salute Michelle, the Carnival Legend’s pedicurist, who is pretty, talented and professional and has been blessed by God with bugger all sense of smell. And here she is doing what I never could.





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.