Looking For Trouble

May 8, 2014 -

John Heald

Last night was elegant night and that meant some but certainly not all of our guests were dressed formally and that, of course, included some very beautiful ladies………….by the way, remind me to talk about elegant night and what we have to do to make it better please. Anyway, so there I was standing in the lobby with the captain and a few senior officers when this absolutely stunning – I mean drop dead gorgeous – supermodel twenty-something walked past. She was well over six feet tall and her long wispy black hair fell perfectly over her shoulders and down her back. I once dated a girl called Wendy.  She had long black hair all down her back……none on her head………..just all down her back. However, back to the story. This lady was perfect and all eyes were on her as she swished past us and I admit to all the readers of this blog and, indeed my wife, that my head followed her as she strode past.

I wasn’t alone. In fact, everyone, including some women, were doing the same – she was just that stunning.  The entire episode lasted about 10 seconds as I quickly returned to saying hello and shaking hands with guests.  But then, I got my very first bollocking from a guest since starting here as a cruise director ………. it only took two days.

A lady guest appeared out of nowhere and this is how the conversation went:

Guest:  “I saw you staring at that lady – you were very obvious and I think that it was unprofessional.”

Me: “Oops, please don’t tell my wife, ha ha ha.”

Guest: “It’s not funny,” and, shaking her head, she went back to her bar stool. I could see what she thought of me and that really upset me because I realised that she may be right and yet it was ………… well…………..natural. But these days in the PC world that we live in people are expected to become robots, immune to the beautiful sights around them.

I have been thinking about this a lot these past few hours and I wasn’t even sure if it was right for me to sit here and tell you about it in my blog. In my defence, this woman was incredibly beautiful and I was not the only one to admire her beauty and maybe the guest was correct, it was unprofessional of me to stare.

Yep, I should have controlled myself but I’m a human being and this beautiful lady caught my eye. But when I put my name tag on, it doesn’t magically turn me into a Benedictine Monk and I guess I could have and should have been a little less obvious. I actually didn’t think I had been that obvious but according to the guest who complained to me I had been and so irate was she with me that she refused the complimentary drinks I offered her and when I asked for her name and cabin number she stood up and walked away. Yep, I am really making an impression on the guests here — FFS.

So now I feel rotten and wanted to tell you how disappointed I am in myself and that after just two days as a cruise director again I have a guest who thinks I am a sexist, leering, mouth- breathing sex maniac with no more right to live on God’s green Earth than a dung beetle.

I will be looking for this guest and do my very best to use my experience and all the fruit on the ship to turn her around with another sincere apology. Talking of apologies, I also need to apologise to the bar waiter who as the supermodel walked past me, spilled a full tray of drinks ………………….in his accident report he made to our security department, he states that he allegedly, “tripped over the cruise director’s tongue.”  Oops.

Time for today’s Q and A, here we go:

Rob Ince asks:
John: I have cruised with you twice now and find you very entertaining.  I will be cruising on the Carnival Liberty from Port Canaveral on August 22 with my mom and two sons.  This will be my mom’s first cruise and I know she will love it. Her birthday falls during the cruise on August 26 and I was hoping to make dinner reservations at the steakhouse for her, but I don’t want her to miss elegant night either.  Can you tell me which nights are elegant nights on that eight-day cruise as well as when Camp Carnival is open?  My boys are 11 and eight and while they like steak, I don’t think they belong in the steakhouse. Thanks so much!

John says:
Hello Rob Ince

Thanks so much for the kind words and I am glad to see you will be cruising with us again. The elegant nights are on August 23 and 28. I hope this allows you to plan accordingly and if there is anything else I can do please do ask me here or on my facebook.com/johnheald page.

Best wishes to all.


Sarah Marcus asks:
I have now sailed on four Carnival cruises. Each cruise my table assignment gets worse in the dining room. Why is it that I am getting worse locations in the dining room because, on the Carnival Sensation my husband and I were put at a table right next to the exit! I am starting to think that we were put there because of our skin color. Our next cruise will be cruise five on the Carnival Fantasy June 7 so what does a gal have to do to get recognized for a good table in the middle of the dining room?

John says:
Hello Sarah Marcus

Thanks for writing to me and I should point out that table assignment is not based at all on the number of cruises someone has done and certainly not on what you alluded to, that I assure you.

It is a very complicated set of facts and logistics. I think the maître d’s thoughts are that there is no such thing as a “bad table” and, regardless of where you are seated, that you will receive good food and superb service. Please remind me if you can four days before your cruise on my facebook.com/johnheald page about this concern and I will chat with the maître d and see what we can do for you. Have a great cruise. Best wishes.


David Fernley asks:
Why does Carnival allow passengers to sing ultra-religious songs at their talent show? My family and I were subjected to such a thing last week on our family vacation cruise on Carnival Victory. I must say that I am shocked that the Carnival staff allowed this to happen. Religious songs should be banned because this is not the pace for passengers to express and push on others their faith when you have such multi-faithed passengers on the boat. This left me with a bad taste and we actually left the talent show as did other passengers we noticed.

John says:
Hello David Fernley

Thanks for writing to me and I never like to see one of our valued guests so upset so let me start with an apology. It is a very difficult situation because, while I understand what you are saying I would also like to point out that to tell a guest that they can’t sing a song that may have some very special meaning to them would result, I am sure, in further heated conversations. I think the answer is to try and enjoy the music for the few minutes it is performed and then move on and hopefully you will enjoy the rest of the show. This is one of those subjects that will divide opinion as I have seen when I raised the subject on Facebook. Thank you again. Let me know if you have a follow up to this and, of course, I do hope you and your family had a great cruise and that we will see you again soon. Best wishes.


Rebecca Warneford asks:
John: Love cruising with Carnival and was really concerned recently when reading a comment on Cruise Critic concerning my cruise this weekend. This is the last cruise before dry dock. The person on Cruise Critic mentioned she was on one of Carnival’s ship the one before dry dock and everything was closing down. If this is the case I hope buffet and bars will not be closing until the end of my cruise. Could you make a comment about this?

John says:
Hello Rebeca Warneford

I apologise if I am answering this after the fact and you have already completed your cruise. This is not correct as I am sure you saw for yourself and that everything was open and the staff gave you the best of service. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.


Gina Helm asks:
Hello John: My husband and I, plus our family, are cruising on the Carnival Dream out of New Orleans leaving May 18. We usually leave on the Carnival Magic out of Galveston since we live in Houston but we want to go on some different ships. Can you tell me some great things about the Carnival Dream like best dining choices, etc.? BTW, we are celebrating our 12th anniversary on this cruise which is wonderful because our first cruise was our honeymoon on the Carnival Inspiration when it was out of New Orleans back in 2002, so we are very excited. We are working on platinum status and hope to have it by the end of next year! So we will be booking another cruise soon.

Gina Helm

John says:
Hello Gina Helm

Well, she is a great ship — the first in her class and has a brilliant steakhouse which is a must see during your cruise. She has one of the very best shows in the fleet in Dancin’ in the Street and don’t miss any of the Lido areas for lunch including the pasta bar, of course. I want to thank you for your loyalty and please if you can on May 17 send me your cabin number on my Facebook page (facebook.com/johnheald) and I wish you both the best of times. Best wishes.


Scott Eckmyre asks:
Hi John,

Curious is to why, in the buffet restaurants on all Carnival ships, staff refuse to give anything but a “sliver” of prime rib?  My wife and I have been on eight Carnival cruises and have encountered this experience on each cruise. When I approach the server at the carving station I ask (and usually show the individual) for a thicker piece of prime rib but unfortunately I end up with a very thin, small piece?  Why will they not give bigger piece if a guest asks?  Seems ridiculous to make a guest return three or four times to get additional piece of prime rib.  I understand the cost is high with prime rib roast but this is just ridiculous.  By the way, on turkey, roast pork, lamb or just about any other night the server is more than willing to give half the “roast” to a guest without a request?

John says:
Hello Scott Eckmyre

Well, thanks for writing as I have never seen this one before. The simple answer is that the chefs have parameters to follow as do you, I am sure, at work. Now, I just asked the chef here on the Carnival Miracle and he made a great point when he said, “thick cuts are often left and wasted.” But saying that, if you ask for more you should get more and that is definitely our policy. So please do ask and, if anyone refuses, please speak to a uniformed manager on Lido or let the guest services know. We are here to give you as much as you need and I apologise if that has not been the case. Best wishes.


Paul Chettino asks:
John please dump the communist news network that is called CNN. It is an embarrassment to America and should be replaced with FOX News. I am a Carnival junkie with 12 cruises under my belt but am also a news junkie so I struggle when on a Carnival ship. Please consider my request which would be met with many yells of joy from my fellow shipmates for sure. Thanks

John says:
Hello Paul Chettino

I think I have written before how I really find the American news stations fascinating and how diverse and politically motivated they are. Anyway, the CNN channel is part of our package that is provided to us by our satellite supplier and, at the moment, I am afraid we won’t be changing to FOX News. Hopefully you can survive during the cruise on CNN and the other network news. Thanks for your loyalty and I do hope we see you again very soon. Best wishes.


Shari Routh asks:
We’ve nearly always booked Early Saver cruises (seven to date!) because we have to sail when our family of six and their spouses are all able to.  I’ve noticed that Carnival is only lowering the price this time if Carnival chooses the cabin which we early savers are not allowed to price match.  Does this mean that someone who pays $400 less (as of today’s price for Carnival picks cabin) then me will get a cabin equal to mine or even better (like a spa)?  Feeling kind of sad 🙁  Thanks for all of your continued help with our questions!!  We appreciate your blog!  Shari

John says:
Hello Shari Routh

Please do not be sad and let me say that, while I really do not begin to understand the complexities of rates and the different booking options, I know someone who does and have asked them to contact you. I hope that this is OK and you can be happy again and I am here if you need anything.  Best wishes.


Alexander Seward asks:
John, my question is about the mini-bar/refrigerator. On my upcoming cruise in June on the Carnival Freedom, I was thinking about either purchasing a drink package or simply bringing water on board. I have looked everywhere, but can’t seem to find the answer. If asked, can the room stewards empty the mini-bar so I can put in the water, or is there someone else that needs to asked this? Thanks for any assistance.

John says:
Hello Alexander Seward

The Cheers package is superb and we are seeing more and more people take this option. I have always thought that lugging on a case of water is such a chore to save a dollar or so but, hey, that’s just me. Please, can you write to me the day before your cruise on facebook.com/johnheald and I will be happy to ask the stateroom steward to empty the mini bar. Best wishes and have a brilliant time.


Ron price asks:
John:  My wife and I are loyal Carnival cruisers. I have been trying to get her to go on an Alaskan cruise as we live 60 kilometers east of Vancouver, BC. I have also introduced her to your Facebook posts which she loves reading daily. The issue is we live surrounded by mountains and ocean and she is really a big fan of the southern heat destinations. Could you help me to sway her? I have used the no flights angle already and I think it moved us closer. Thank you.


PS our son has joined the crew aboard the Carnival Pride as a DJ. He loves it…we miss him:-)

John says:
Hello Ron Price

I do hope that your son is having fun and totally understand how much you must miss him. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you or for him. Alaska is amazing, stunning and like no other cruise I have ever done. I hope you and your wife will both read my Facebook page and see the photos there which will show you what I mean. I hope then to see you here in Alaska and if you or your good lady have any questions please let me know. Best wishes to you all.


Jesse asks:
Hi John: We are in the process of planning our next cruise and was just wondering what ship you will be the cruise director for?  I know you are doing the Alaskan cruise but for how long?

John says:
Hello Jesse

I will be here until the last Alaskan cruise in September and it would be brilliant to see you here. Please let me know if you have any questions. Best wishes.


Alina Calderin asks:

I am curious what exactly will be added to the Carnival Victory during its 2014 dry dock. I am getting conflicting information from the general booking staff. Most tell me the refit will be fresh carpet and a few added venues, but on Cruise Critic, someone posted that it will a big refurb similar to the Carnival Sunshine, and that there might even a renaming. What’s the true story?

John says:
Hello Alina Calderin,

It is interesting to read this because the speculation on Cruise Critic is certainly incorrect and nobody should be saying anything because we haven’t announced anything just yet. I’ve asked the beards this very question last week and they are still deciding what upgrades the ship will receive. She will be in dry dock for only two weeks starting March 26, 2015 so she will not get the same work as we did on Carnival Sunshine. I promise to let everyone know as soon as a decision is made as to what she will receive.  Until then…Best wishes.


And that’s all for today. I will be back with more on Friday

So here I am, back in the saddle again and trying to remember, after seven months away, how to be a good cruise director. Certainly as the drum rolled and Julian, the musical director, introduced me on to the stage for the welcome aboard show there was a moment of squeaky bottom time but once I was out there under the lights and with mic in hand it all seemed to go well. I heard laughter and my flow and timing, although rusty at first got better as the show went on. With the Welcome Aboard show my object is always to make stars out of the people on stage. I want them to be recognised and become part of the cruise story that I tell and tell each week. And there were some great characters on stage with me and I was actually more nervous about my travel talk for Alaska, because when you talk about ports your information needs to be correct and given in such a way that the guests see your passion for them that they decide to book a tour and experience these excursions for themselves. Now this is easy for me when I am talking about ports I have been to numerous times but I am still learning about Alaska so I think with time my talks will get better. Certainly guests are buying tours and seem to be sharing my excitement and I will share some of their highlights with you over the coming weeks.

Michelle, the naturalist is the cream on top of what I do and she is someone whose knowledge is worth so much and really does enhance the cruise. I will thank her for all the help she has given me so far by sending her a huge basket of tofu and buying her a new pair of sandals. Yesterday she jumped on the PA system and told the guests that there were four hump back whales on the starboard side very close to the ship. I was in my cabin, which is on the port side and, as I was deep into Facebook and in my underpants, I couldn’t be asked to go over to the starboard side to see a few fish.

It looks like I wasn’t the only one who didn’t want to move:

Sent: Wednesday, May 07, 2014 3:27 PM
Subject: ICare tasked to our attention Cabin #5299

Good Afternoon

Please note the following ICare case, Please update the ICare notes accordingly.

C – Mrs.——–came to GS upset that the whales seen today could only be seen on the starboard side. Mrs____has a suite on the port side and feels that the ship should have been turned so that all the ship could see.

Mrs. _____kept stating how much she had paid for the cabin and that she should have been able to see them . It was explained that the ship has to keep going to the first port and that we could not turn each time and that there were plenty of chances for her to see whales. Guest would like to speak with Captain or Cruise Director. Task number 29811A61

And so I start my four months as cruise director and I do so by upsetting a guest who didn’t like the fact that I was admiring a stunningly beautiful lady and making another mad another because Moby Dick was on the wrong sodding side of the ship.

I really have nothing else to say but…………………Oh, FFS!

Wish you were here.



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.