February 3, 2014 -

John Heald

Let’s start today’s blog with a chat about kids and this question posted on my blog over the weekend.


Gary Kemp asks:

Urgent for your IMMEDIATE Attention.

I am VERY disappointed with Camp Carnival. Our boys are six and eight and their group activities were very immature IMO. They are confined to a room – no outside or sports activities – and the most excitement I could imagine is the Wii and PlayStation games for kids that like that kind of thing. My kids are active and love sports or age appropriate games. The camp seems geared toward girls who are generally more passive, enjoy crafts and things. They had musical chairs as one activity. Seriously? They made them sit down and listen to a story!!! This is ridiculous. They are not three year olds. Very unimpressed and this meant no relaxing, casino or couple time for us. The parents who are thinking of using the camp should be warned!!

 John says:

Hello Gary Kemp,

Thank you for taking the time to write. I am very sorry that your children did not enjoy their Camp Carnival experience and I will be writing more about this in a moment. As you will see shortly, there is far more to Camp Carnival than the activities you mentioned but I also understand that not all children like to be away from Mum and Dad and, therefore, don’t want to enjoy what we provide. I am sorry that you did not have the experience you expected and we will work hard on this. Best wishes to all the family.



While I can’t speak for Gary’s case, our children’s programs get rave reviews from the 700,000 kids we carry a year – the most in the cruise industry.  We’re always tweaking the activities and trying to find both indoor and outdoor activities that are fun for the kids. What’s funny is that in contrast to Gary’s comments, some parents think that we should offer more educational activities, so go figure. By the way, our children’s programs – especially for the younger kids – will be taken to a whole new level with the new Dr. Seuss activities.


Interesting subject indeed and it’s important to point out that not all children like a camp environment, either on land or at sea. Take my daughter Kye. At first, she would not set foot at Camp Carnival unless Heidi or I were there with her. But last year on Carnival Legend, she could not get enough of it and wanted to be there morning, noon and night.


The kids really do have a whole variety of things to do including arts and crafts, games, fun, theme days, movies, parties and, yes, they get time on the Playstationxbox as well.  I really wanted to make that clear but as I mentioned before there are certain parents like Gary that just don’t like our kids programing for whatever reason. Of course there is the other side of the coin with some parents possibly thinking is it right to leave your kids at Camp Carnival or, indeed, Circle C or Club 02 for as long as possible during a Carnival cruise so we can have the “couple time” that Gary mentions above?


I have been humming and ahhing about this since I read this comment and I have two answers ………yes…………and ummmm………no.


I am sure that some parents are driven to Prozac and therapy by the slightly French sounding voice in their head that says “Why have children if you don’t want to spend all day with them?”


And I have seen this on the ships from time to time. I will meet families and ask if their kids have enjoyed Camp Carnival and will be told that they haven’t been there because, “They want to spend as much time together ………as a family.” I often think when I see this that it’s the kids that sometimes suffer. While it’s great to be with Mum and Dad, happy, confident children do not need to spend their maximum cruising hours with their parents………..or do they?


From what I have seen during my 27 years on board, is that kids like to hang out with other kids, especially on vacation and especially when they know that they have brilliant facilities like Camp Carnival, Circle C and Club O2. But sometimes you see these poor children on the Lido Deck, their mothers fussing the living daylights out of them, all in the name of “family quality time”…. a phrase that surely strikes fear into the heart of any Justin Beiber-worshipping 14 year old. When parents are on a Carnival ship, face painting and hula-hooping are not top of their agenda. And when kids are on a cruise, lying on a sun bed, having a drink with umbrellas sticking out of it and watching my marriage show is not I am sure what kids get excited about on board.


There is a simple and brilliant solution to all of this……….and that is our three kids and teens entertainment areas. There are plenty more reasons why Camp Carnival is the answer to a perfect cruise vacation for all the family including the most important fact………without Camp Carnival most parents would get bugger all rumpy pumpy.  Youth Directors tell me about parents who would drag their kids to camp screaming: “Do this for me and Dad! We need this time together.” Mom and Dad then disappeared ………probably back to Lido for a pint of ThirstyFrog Red.

I know this sounds harsh on the parents who want a rest, or maybe have some rumpy pumpy, so let me qualify it. I’m not saying people who put their children in for a few hours or so to make ice cream sundaes and shoot zombies on the Playxboxstation while they sneak some time at the Cloud Nine Spa are bad parents, not, not at all. Nope……. I’m talking about those parents who you see waiting impatiently for Camp Carnival to open at 9am and don’t get them again until our Night Owl program finishes in the wee small hours of the morning.


For the most part then I think it’s safe to say that children, crave the company of other kids and I know I am biased but Camp Carnival is the best and safest kids play heaven at sea. So, there is I guess a happy medium where you can find that middle ground providing time at Camp Carnival for the kids….and time for Mum and Dad to go back to the cabin to make them a brother or a sister. And, as you know, we recently announced our Seuss At Sea Program will start on Carnival Splendor and will make its way around the fleet after that. And for those who do enjoy their kids being at Camp Carnival, Circle C and Club O2 I would advise that you watch this space………… there is some brilliant news down the road at some point that I have no doubts that the kids and parents alike will be thrilled about.


Time for today’s Q and A – off we go


Keith O’Shay asks:

Hello John, I have to tell you and the beards about our “brilliant” cruise experience on the Carnival Sensation. We always have a great time when we cruise with Carnival but this was the best of our five so far. We loved cruise director Wee Jimmy. We’ve sailed with Butch and Malcolm and they were good but Wee Jimmy was born to be on stage He was very entertaining, funny and he made sure everything we did with him was hilarious and we had so many LOL moments because of him. I know you worked with him because he told us all about how you had helped him so I thought that I would pass on what a great job he did. It was a great cruise.


John says:

Hello Keith O’Shay,

Please know that I am sitting here smiling broadly because you’re right, I did work with Wee Jimmy and seeing words like this make me gush with pride. I will pass on your kind words and I know that Ralph (that’s his real name) will be over the moon. I am so glad you had fun and I hope we see you again very soon. Best wishes.



Bianca Hennessey asks:

I am booked on Carnival Paradise with husband, booking ****** 2/22/14. I suffer from severe muscle spasms thanks to my ALS which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. For this reason, I MUST HAVE A TABLE FOR TWO. A private table is the only way to go and, not having one, will most likely make it a ruined vacation for us. I do not want to have to eat beside of other passengers! My travel agent said there was nothing he could do and to write to you. Can you do a private table reserved and by the window would be great.

Bianca Hennessey


John says:

Hello Bianca Hennessey,

I totally understand and I have written to my friend Yusuf, the maître d, and I know he will do his very best for you. The tables for two are not next to the window I am afraid as it’s the larger tables that are placed there. But we will try and get you a private table and I wish you health, happiness and a wonderful cruise. Best wishes.



Terry asks:

I have always seen on line about people talking about “gifts” that they got for their group parties from you. I have been doing groups on ONLY Carnival for over 10 years (we are a bowling group) and we have a cocktail party with food for everybody (usually about 100 people). How do we get something to give away at these meeting? I have ALWAYS bought things from bon voyage myself to give away — drink coupons, photo credits, last year I bought over $700 in gift cards…just curious our group is booked on Carnival Conquest 9/21/14 for this year !   Thank you, and PS… Your posts always make me laugh at how stupid some people are!!!  Cheers Terry Leis


John says:

Hello Terry,

Your group sounds interesting indeed and I am sure you will all have a brilliant time together. I will be happy to send you two trophies and two bottles of champagne to your party so please remind me here or preferably on Facebook ( two days before the cruise, reminding me where and when the cocktail party is. Thanks so much and have a great time.  Best wishes.



Ann M. Bigelow asks:

I just want to thank you, so much, for the extra little attention, and gifts you sent to my husband and me.  (We were on the Carnival Breeze, November 17, cabin #2289). It surely made our day and made the cruise extra special and it meant so much to us, that you would even do such a nice thing for just us, and the time you took to do this for us.  You are such a dear man, and I do hope one day to have the honor to meet you!  You are so cute!

Ann and Richard Bigelow


John says:

Hello Ann M. Bigelow,

I wanted to say a big thank you for those very kind words. My thanks to my colleagues for helping with my request for you and I do hope we see you again very soon. Best wishes to you both.



Michael Follain asks:

My DW and I will be spending Valentine’s Day on the Carnival Breeze. Can you do something special for her? Maria works very hard as a serving police officer, plus raises our three kids and never has any time for herself. I thought maybe you could send her flowers and chocolates or something to make her cruise special. The last cruise was on the Dream when we had to stay in Saint Martin because of the engine breakdown!


John says:

Hello Michael Follain,

I am sure that your wife does indeed deserve a rest and deserves some fun which she will, of course, get both of during her cruise. Please send me your cabin number on the 12th on my Facebook page please ( so I don’t forget. I can’t send flowers but I am sure I can find her something to say welcome aboard. Have a brilliant time together. Best wishes.



Virginia Hughes asks:

Do you think Carnival will bring back the cruise certificates? I have purchased them before and found booking that way more enjoyable. There is no line at my desk to book it and I can schedule the time off from work before booking, eliminating having to cancel if my vacation is not approved. Thank you.


John says:

Hello Virginia Hughes,

I am very much aware of how many people were disappointed that we stopped these certificates some time ago. I have mentioned this to the beards on a few occasions and, so far, I can tell you there are no plans to bring them back. I do hope that we get to see you soon and if there is anything I can do for you, please do ask. Best wishes.



Steven Pawlak asks:

I cruised on the Carnival Sensation, my second cruise, and first time I have been told I have to wear shoes in the buffet. It’s supposed to be a beach area, isn’t it, on Lido so how come I was told to do this two times on Carnival Sensation and never on Carnival Fascination and why do I have to wear shoes because nobody told me why? Just to put them on in front of my wife and kids. WTF is this – customer is always right, not at Carnival


John says:

Hello Steven Pawlak,

We do have rules about this with all guests asked to wear shoes in the Lido restaurant for health and safety reasons as we are really trying to reduce accidents on board and wet floors and bare feet simply don’t go together very well. It is also not nice to see a minging ( pair of feet while you are waiting for your Mongolian Wok or if another guest dropped a baked potato or a huge fully loaded burger on your little toe, that would be very painful indeed. Seriously, though we do have these rules and we are going to be working hard to make sure the staff all know to enforce them. Flip flops, tennis shoes, sandals, steel capped work boots, Uggs, flippers, and oversized clown shoes are all OK but bare feet are not. I do hope that you will put this one little thing aside and that you had a great cruise which means we will see you again. Best wishes to you and the family.



Charles Parker asks:

We just got off the new Carnival Sunshine and had a great time.  I wanted to comment on a few things, starting with the crew. Jamie was a great CD and we talked a few times. We had the most interaction with Lexi, who did trivia all week!  She was a blast and very funny. And I finally won a ship on a stick after 8 Carnival cruises! Also, our team at dinner, Marko, Dusan, and Zeljko not only remembered what drinks we preferred, but our breads and “extra” butter.  There were a few things that were different in the theater for the production shows.  The backdrop with the bright changing lights, well were very bright. The live band was missed. We missed many events due to filled areas, Red Frog Pub too small for karaoke, comedians missed due to Limelight too small, and the live band in the Ocean Plaza, too small, even with overflow in the Alchemy Bar area.  If you did not get to these locations 30 minutes before show time, you would have to stand, which blocked views from everywhere except the main seating areas. All in all, another awesome cruise.


John says:

Hello Charles Parker,

Thanks so much for taking the time to write and I have just sent your review to the ship. It will be interesting to see all of this for myself when I take close to 700 bloggers on the ship and the flow and use of public spaces will be something I will play close attention to. I also miss the live orchestras at the shows very much but certainly not having them there means we are able to utilize them for music and dancing in the lounges and especially at the Ocean Plaza. I think we have learned a lot from the first cruises and since you sailed two months ago. We have increased the karaoke sessions and have added more live music. I want to thank you for taking the time to write because it is through comments like this that we listen and learn. I am glad to see that you had fun and I do hope we see you soon. Best wishes.



Dorothy asks:


First comment to you. Just got off the Carnival Dream a few days ago. It’s our 14th cruise and we ONLY go on Carnival. Wouldn’t you think when we ask for a large table of guests to sit with, we would get it? Seems we always have issues with our table and need to change. We were changed to 406 in Scarlet dining room and those waiters were the worst we have had. We were ALWAYS the last to get served and always the last to leave. It was frustrating. We hardly ever saw his helper and they didn’t joke or bother much with the whole table which was very disappointing. We were on the Carnival Dream last Sept. also and it was worst. They stuck us in a corner facing wall and we changed, and was disappointing. Is it just the Carnival Dream?


John says:

Hello Dorothy,

I am very sorry to read this and it is indeed a very unusual comment because, for most people, the service and fun they have in the dining room is one of the highlights of the cruise. It looks like the servers you had are in need of some help and management so I thank you so much for taking the time to tell me about this. I do apologise and assure you we will work on improving their service and I am sure like all your other cruises, that your next one will be back to the very high standard you expect. I thank you so much for your loyalty and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know. Best wishes.



David Murnaghan asks:

We were on a cruise on the Carnival Valor and heard an announcement by I think the captain that said bravo bravo team. There were no more announcements about what this was which we found to be very odd. Can you tell me what it was all about, Heald?


John says:

Hello David Murnaghan,

I checked on this and, apparently, the crew was holding a training drill thus the “Bravo Bravo Bravo” announcement was made over the PA system. It is a signal to the crew for a missing passenger or crew member and we hold these and many other drills on a regular basis as part of our ongoing safety training practices. I do hope you had a great cruise and thanks for asking the question. Best wishes.



Gabriela Hipolito asks:

Can you tell me who the comedians will be on our next cruise which is coming on February 9 on Carnival Glory? I was hoping for a Hispanic comedian because you have George Lopez in your headers but no Hispanic comedians. You seem to only provide comedy for African Americans and Southerners but nothing for us Latinos and, cruising from Miami, most of the ship are Hispanic. I hope this time it is different and you do not discriminate


John says:

Hello Lola Hipolito,

Let me start by saying that you have four wonderful comedians next cruise in Percy Crews, Lowell Sanders, John Wessling and Doug Willams. We certainly do not hire any comedian based on their background, colour or heritage but only on one simple fact — are they funny? If the answer is yes then we hire them. We do actually have some very funny Latino comedians such as George Solano and Al Romero, among others.  I am sure on the Carnival Glory next week that our four comedians will have you laughing out loud so please do not miss any of their shows. Have a wonderful time. Best wishes.



That’s all for today and, as always, I thank you very much for your comments and questions.


It will soon be Valentine’s Day………oh, joy. I say that because Heidi and I have not celebrated Valentine’s Day since her father passed away on February 14, 2005. I wonder In fact as I read this if with my Dad passing away this past December 18 if Christmas will ever be the same again for me?


Anyway, I say “oh, joy” about Valentine’s day also because I have always hated it ever since I was a teenager and I stood by the door waiting for a card to fall through the letterbox telling me that someone loved me. But they didn’t and February 14 was just another reminder that I was as ugly as a pair of putrid feet at a Lido buffet and there was as much chance of me getting a Valentine’s Day card as there is Pine Bluff becoming President of


But for many this special day of loooooovvvveee is very important and we will be celebrating on the ships as well. We will be doing the following:


–          A special “Chocolate Valentine” dessert will be offered at dinner.


–          A red carnation will be handed to each female guest during dinner (this includes those guests selecting the alternate dining and the steakhouse and other specialty restaurants).


–          “Free Valentine’s Day Hug” stations around the ship.


–          Ships with Seaside Theater big screens will be provided with Kiss Cam graphic box.  Focus on random guests whose smooch will be projected on the Seaside Theater.


–          There will also be a Romantic Trivia Quiz, the Real Romeo Contest, and The Romantic Crooner Karaoke Contest. There will also be date night movies shown on the big screens and cabin TVs. These include The Vow, People Like us, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and The Proposal.


There will also be a romantic hour in the nightclubs after dinner with the DJs playing these songs.


Boyz II Men I’ll Make Love To You
All-4-One I Swear
Art Garfunkel I Only Have Eyes For You
Backstreet Boys As Long As You Love Me
Bad English When I See You Smile
Bee Gees How Deep Is Your Love
Berlin Take My Breath Away (from Top Gun)
Bette Midler Wind Beneath My Wings
Bon Jovi I’ll Be There For You
Bryan Adams (Everything I Do) I Do It For You
Carpenters (They Long To Be) Close To You
Celine Dion Because You Loved Me (from Up Close And Personal)
Celine Dion My Heart Will Go On (From Titanic)
Celine Dion And Clive Griffin When I Fall In Love
Chicago Will You Still Love Me?
Dean Martin That’s Amore
Diana Ross & Lionel Richie Endless Love
Doris Day When I Fall In Love
Edwin McCain I’ll Be
Elton John Can You Feel The Love Tonight
Elvis Presley Can’t Help Falling In Love
Frank Sinatra My Funny Valentine
Frank Sinatra The Way You Look Tonight
LeAnn Rimes How Do I Live
Nat King Cole Unforgettable
Natalie Cole As Time Goes By
Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack Tonight I Celebrate My Love
Stevie Wonder I Just Called To Say I Love You
U2 With Or Without You
Vanessa Williams Save The Best For Last
Whitney Houston I Will Always Love You
Mariah Carey Hero


And, of course, the DJs will take your love song requests.


The person in charge of scheduling and running these activities is, of course, the cruise director. I mentioned the other day that we are working on the schedule still as to specific dates for some of the ships. I will, of course, have the full and very specific schedule posted here after the CD conference but wanted to keep you informed as to what is happening that we know of so far. Have a read of this:


–          Butch Begovich will be joining us shoreside for the majority of the summer to work on some very exciting new projects for the fleet. He will be missed on board but I want to assure all his many fans that he will be back in the CD chair again later this year.

–          That means we need a new CD for the Carnival Breeze and I am happy to tell you that this will be Matt Mitcham who will join the Carnival Breeze after his vacation. I have not had the chance to watch Matt at work but I hear from many of you that he is a great cruise director blessed with a great personality and dashing and hansom good looks…….the bastard. Congratulations then to Matt and I am sure he will do a superb job on the Carnival Breeze.

–          Brad Calabrese, who is currently on the Carnival Freedom and who has done a fantastic job there for some years now, will be moving to a floating role as cruise director.

–          Skip Lyons will be moving to the Carnival Freedom and guide the vessel through dry dock and the upgrades that we will be announcing soon. Skip is another great CD and has just completed the Panama Canal cruise on the Carnival Imagination and reports here and on Facebook show that he did a super job.

–          But don’t worry Carnival Imagination fans, because you are soon getting the one and only Goose Neumann who will be heading to the West Coast to take over the Carnival Imagination. And as we all know, Goose is one of our best CDs and will as always put his heart and soul into making that ship the best in the fleet.

–          Jen Baxter certainly had adventures while serving on Carnival Triumph. She proved herself to be calm and assuring in the most difficult of circumstances and has taken Carnival Triumph since her dry dock and 2.0 upgrades to the number one ship in the fleet according to your online surveys. Jen will be packing her extraordinary dresses and moving off Carnival Triumph to take a floating role and spread her joy and fun to many new Carnival guests who will like so many find her adorable.

–          The new CD of the Carnival Triumph will be one of our most experienced CDs and congratulations to Kirk Benning will move to the Carnival Triumph out of Galveston. Kirk and I are old friends and he has a personality that makes him so comfortable on the microphone and his humour and love of what he does means that the ship is in the best of hands as he brings his huge experience and special brand of fun to the ship.

–          That means that another very experienced cruise director, Brent Mitchell, will move to Carnival Pride. Brent is a perfectionist and is loved by his staff and the guests that sail with him. He is a very unusual person because he is funny and he is Canadian!………OK, kidding ………..but he really is very funny and I know that as the Carnival Pride gets her full list of 2.0 upgrades that she will have a brilliant person in the CD chair.

–          Lastly and on behalf of Ryan Fitzgerald, our manager of entertainment and the person in charge of the CDs, I am very proud to announce the full promotion of the following gentlemen to cruise director:  Hennie Van Heerden, who will continue floating and assisting in filling gaps in the CD schedule. He is the Jim Carey of CDs and whose facial gestures and comedy style have propelled him to a quick promotion. Well done mate.

Then we have Marcelo Alvarado, who will be taking the Carnival Victory later this year as his core ship. Marcelo is from Brazil and is known affectionately as Marcelo Marshmallow by the guests. I know him well, he was with me on the Carnival Splendor during the difficult times we had there and he is a natural leader and someone who has one of the most important and most difficult to obtain qualities of a CD…….instant likeability. Congratulations to Mr. Marshmallow.


Now please don’t ask me yet for dates when these changes are happening because I do not have specific dates just yet. When I do………so will you. There will be other changes as well to some of the other ships and, again, I will let you know these soon and will I promise to have that complete schedule soon. There will be some changes coming soon as well for the job itself which will be fascinating. Thank you all for supporting the best group of CDs in the business, I know they all appreciate it very much

There have been so many changes already to the job since I became a cruise director back in 1492… Gone are the days when I could make an amusing farting noise over the PA system. Instead I have to make sure the guests are aware of our rules and regulation “No smoking.” ”Watch your step.” “Mind your head.” “Shoes must be worn in the Lido restaurant.” “Dry yourself off after coming out of the pools and hot tubs.” “Separate your garbage.” I still make mistakes and call the crew “crew members” and not team members as the beards decree and yep, even after all these years, I still say the word “Capers” instead of Fun Times.


The problem these days though is that as things changed so did the amount of time the CDs have to actually be on stage and out with the guests. Paperwork consumes so much of their time; it’s not an excuse, just a fact. Let me give you an example. When I was on the Carnival Legend this past year in Europe one of the dancers sprained his ankle during one of the shows. It wasn’t a bad sprain but an entire Brazilian rain forest has had to be chopped down to allow for the paper work that I, as his department head, have to fill out asking about what shoes he was wearing, the condition of the stage, how many hours he had worked and if Saturn was in line with Uranus at the time of the incident. I then have to return the rain forest to the security and medical department who then send it to the beards at HQ. This isn’t just Carnival, it isn’t just the cruise industry and it’s the world. When I first started, there would have been no paper work and the dancer would have hobbled around a bit, still smiling, still doing his job ready to dance again in a few days.


This is just one small example of the job description of your cruise director and it should not be that way. It should be stage, stage and more stage with lashings of one on ones with the guests. And that’s what it will be again. More news on that after the CD conference in March. I am very much looking forward to working as a CD again in Alaska on the Carnival Miracle. I will be reunited with an officer I have not seen in many, many years. In fact, the last time we worked together was ummmm……….interesting. It was on the Carnival Liberty in 2006 and he found out that I had chosen the movie Titanic to show on the Seaside Theatre and, trust me……. he went absolutely bonkers. His arms were flapping around and he started screaming and jerking his body like someone who had just had a cattle prod placed on his dangly bits. He was shouting words like “minkya” and  calling me “stunard ” and touching his dangly bits as Italian superstition dictates. We only showed it that one time and Leonardo DiCrapio (spelt correctly) never again appeared on the Seaside Theatre big screen. I understand his superstitions and he was after all, the captain. But the chances of seeing a sodding iceberg sailing between Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios were as plausible as actually seeing Pine Bluff actually on a Carnival ship.


And now the captain and I will be reunited and I wonder if he will have forgiven me? I am feeling a little tired today as last night I stayed up to watch the Super Bowl and watch the Seahawks slaughter Denver. My wife stayed up with me and I did my best to explain the game to her as best as I could. The idea, Heidi, I said is for the big players to knock the small ones over and try and get the quarterbacker fired…….or sacked as it’s known in America. The quarterbacker passes the ball to a running backer or wide catcher who then has to run with the ball into an area known as the M zone. It is then the law that the player who reaches the M zone must do an impression of either a Michael Jackson dance routine or go down on his knees and say a prayer. Heidi lasted about 20 minutes and then went into the kitchen, turned the TV on in there and watched a program, Real Hoes Wives of Beverly Hills…… it’s sometimes known.



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.