May 27, 2014 -

John Heald

I like to think that I am capable of doing most of what life throws at me. I can tell a joke, gently persuade a cowboy not to stab a platinum guest in the face with a butter knife, I know how to drive a car, keep people calm in a fire, and boil and egg. I once even managed to put a piece of IKEA furniture together without having a sodding screw left over. Technologically speaking, I’m not bad, either. But when it comes to technology my knowledge and capability is that of the Dali Lama’s understanding of a lap dancing club. And last week I suffered a serious bout of what I think is called techno rage. I woke up last Thursday morning with a spring in my step and joy in my heart as, dressed in my underpants, I sat down at the computer to discover that, without warning, Mr. Zuckerthingy had decided to completely change the page thus making it impossible for me to see any posts at all. This was like opening up your garage to discover that someone had taken your nice Ford Explorer and replaced it with an incontinent three-legged yak.

 I spent the following hours listening to the tech beards here and in the Miami office explain that I now needed Uncle Google Moan on my computer because Facebook does not recognise Internet Explorer just like this bloody computer does not recognise that recognise is spelt with a sodding “S” not a “Z!” The beards then got to work telling me all the things I had to do and, as I slipped in and out of a coma, I was told that on Friday morning someone would be around to install this shiny new Google thingy on my laptop. And Friday came and, as the ship docked in front of Mount Bugger, the satellite service was like a famous French victory….nonexistent…. and so I spent another frustrating day cut off from the world, unable to talk on Facebook, talk to my family or surf Latvianwomenwholovefatmen.com. And that was me. Bugger all internet, all guests ashore, no real friends to do anything with……I was absolutely utterly and totally bored.com. And so I forced myself to take a walk in Skagway, particularly because I need provisions such as toothpaste, pistachios, shower gel and hemorrhoid cream. So for the first time since being here in Alaska, I dragged my flaccid arse off the ship.

 Skagway is a beautiful and charming old mining town and it was a nice day to take a walk into town. There are no Wal-Mart’s or big stores there but I did find a “convenience store” and set about filling my basket. I approached the one check out lady who smiled a lovely smile but there was a shock waiting for me. It appears that this store would not supply me with a bag for me to put my industrial sized tube of Preparation H and other supplies. So I had to purchase these little reusable bags. I did and they were $2 sodding each and they were so small that, after I had put the hemorrhoid cream and toothpaste in one, there was no room for bugger all else…….so I was forced to buy three of these bags all of which proudly told me that I was “green” and just to make sure everyone knew, there was also a picture of a smiling seal relaxing on a rock holding a strawberry daiquiri in his flipper and a Latvian seal in a G-string bikini by his side. I guess the idea of these bags are that you bring them back every time which, of course, neither I nor anyone else will remember to do leaving all of us forced to buy more bags so that the owner of the convenience store can go on a cruise. More about Facebook shortly but I guess we had better crack on with some questions. Here we go

 Samantha asks:

 I sailed with Carnival many times and love it. Just got off the Carnival Breeze today and I am very interested in working for Carnival, either with the sports and entertainment staff or as a bar waiter, but do not know where or how to start. I would love your help!!

 John says:

 Hello Samantha

I am so glad you had fun and please have a look at www.carnival.com/careers or www.carnivalentertainment.com for details and how to apply for shipboard positions. Wishing you all the very best of luck. Best wishes.


 Daniel Greene asks:

 My wife and I are platinum cruisers and fast approaching diamond status, which should hopefully mean you will be able to get my request done. We are very early risers out of habit getting up at 5 am — even, yes, when on a cruise. We eat big lunches but dinner is either on lido or we order room service and are in bed by 8 pm at the latest. The problem we had on our last few cruises is that we do not get the makeup service and towel animals this is then my request that on our next cruise, which is on Carnival Glory July 5 we want the makeover service and towel animal before 5 pm preferably at 4 pm, just to be safe. Our cabin number is ____ and our platinum VIP number is __________

Daniel Greene

 John says:

 Hello Daniel Greene

It sounds like a nice idea to see the sunrise every morning on your cruise but a shame you never get to experience the fun and food and great service in our dining rooms. I am going to send this to the housekeeping manager and ask that, as soon as the cabin steward comes back from their break that yours is the first cabin to receive the turndown service. It won’t be at 4 pm because your cabin steward will be on a break. You see, they work from 7:30 am to noon and then 5pm to 10pm on average so they do need that break. But I will ask for your cabin to be made first so by 5:30 pm at the very latest it should be ready for you. I do hope that’s OK and I hope you have a brilliant time and thanks for your loyalty. Best wishes.


 Michael Barr asks:

 I am sailing on the Carnival Valor May 2015 and was wondering if it will have the 2.0 upgrades before then? Thank you!

 John says:

 Hello Michael Barr

At this time, I’m not aware of any plans to upgrade the Carnival Valor but will certainly keep you posted on any news on this ship (or any other ships for that matter). Best wishes.


 Terri Lynch asks:

 John, I was wondering about the Voyage DVD that’s made while cruising. I just got off the Carnival Triumph a couple of weeks ago and was advised they don’t do this anymore. Is it just certain ships or have all of them stopped making them?

 John says:

 Hello Terri Lynch

While we are keeping them on a few ships, for the very most part, and including the Carnival Triumph, we have stopped. The main activities are still filmed and placed on the stateroom TVs but we do not sell them. We are going to look at how we can produce a better product and once we have will move forward. Thanks. Have a great cruise and let me know if you have any questions. Best wishes.


 Kathy Morales asks:

 I will be with you with my Cruise Critic group who have a meet and greet on July 1. We have 38 registered and the number is growing fast, John. Just saying to you that meet and greets on NCL are great. I attended one last year on an Alaskan cruise. We met in one of the small restaurants and had finger foods, pastries and there were drinks included juice, milk, tea and sodas. We even got introduced to the captain and had a bridge tour the next day. It was all free. The bridge tour was great so I am hoping Carnival will resituate and do the same or more perhaps. We have arranged to meet at the Gotham Lounge after the drill so would request some door prizes and finger foods for us. If you need contact details, I am the assigned leader in cabin 8186. Very excited to meet all my new friends and hope you can make it even better with arranging my requests and expand on them. Could you ask the captain to stop by and you, too, John?? Thank you for making sure that all of this and more happens.

 John says:

 Hello Kathy Morales

I am sure you and your new friends are very excited about joining us for this great Alaskan adventure. I won’t, I am afraid, be able to arrange a bridge tour or food and drink but I will have someone stop by with four lovely raffle prizes. I am afraid that the captain will be in maneuvers and I will be busy, too, at that time but I am sure together with your new friends you will have the best of times. See you all soon. Best wishes.


Carolin Oder asks:

 Hey – does the Camp Carnival staff on the Carnival Sensation know how to deal with kids with special needs? My son has Asperger’s. Will they know what to do and do they allow him in the camp all day?

 John says:

 Hello Carolin Oder

Thanks for taking the time to write and, yes, indeed, all our Camp Carnival staff are used to looking after children who need special attention. The youth director will speak with you about any signs or triggers that may upset your child but that aside he will be welcomed and I am sure have lots of fun. Please let me know if you have any other questions or you can contact our special needs desk in Miami. Best wishes.


 Sondra Privitt asks:

 I find the posting of current Fun Times very helpful for information regarding what’s going on in different ships.  However, I find that they are not updated very often and there are two year old

postings out there.  Would like to see more current postings to determine activities on ships we may be sailing on.  My sister and I usually do three cruises a year and like to have this information.  Also notice that the listing of cruise directors is not even current, ending with February 2014!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 John says:

 Hello Sondra Privitt

My apologies for the CD schedule. It is very fluid and I am not able to post it as we are making lots of changes. Come the end of July, I will be able to do so though. I have added lots of new Fun Times and will add more as soon as I can. I am always here if you have questions and I hope you and your sister have a brilliant time. Best wishes.


 Jessica Betz asks:

 Hi John! I love your blog and love following you on Facebook. We are going on our second Carnival cruise (well, never cruised with anyone else before) in July. I booked our family of four vacation back in April and paid in full, chose our room. Boom! It was done. Well, due to circumstances, my niece will be staying with us this summer. So my husband called Carnival yesterday to see if we could get her added on. I can’t say how awesome the customer service was. Not only did they help, they gave us a great deal on adding her. I can’t say thank you enough. We didn’t have to pay any change or cancellation fees and they actually gave us a better room location than we had before! I just want to say thank you! Thank you for it being hassle free and not having to pay a ton extra!

 John says:

 Hello Jessica Betz

It’s not always the case that I read positive comments about customer service because usually people do not take the time to write when they have something nice to say. So it is a pleasure indeed to read this and I will be passing it along to all the right people. I hope you all have a brilliant time and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.


 James Chouinard asks:

 Will be on the cruise to Alaska with you in June and need to know if there is a weight limit for the helicopter and glacier tours. Me and the wife have a combined weight of 500 pounds so we really want to know before we book. Can you help us because we do not want carnival to embarrass us?

 John says:

 Hello James Chouinard

When you get here, please come to the shore excursion desk on Deck 2 in the lobby. I have let Sean, our shore excursion manager, know to expect you and he will sit with you and go through all your options. I hope that’s OK and I will be here if you have any other questions and I will see you soon. Best wishes.


 Rachel Hetzler asks:

 Hello John,

I just got back from a cruise on the Carnival Dream (May 11-18) and, overall, it was a great trip! I’m writing you this e-mail really just to provide general comments and suggestions, but first, I must take time to commend my stewardess, Camilla, and her assistants. I was in room 9329 and they did an incredible job! Also, our wait staff in the dining room was top notch! We had late seating in the Scarlet Dining Room (table 665). Anton was our head waiter and he was always

professional, friendly and very informative of things we should know for the next day. Also, I must give compliments to the staff working the bar on the Lido deck at the rear of the ship. On the first night, I ordered a Riviera Delight, which is not on the current bar menu, but a drink that was listed in the Carnival cocktails book from the 1990s that I have at home. The bartender didn’t know what was in the drink, but he made a phone call to someone, found the recipe, and boy was it delicious! Now to some general comments/suggestions…

 1) I really enjoyed the lunch at the deli at the back of the ship, but what would’ve made it even better is if there were individual bags of chips to go with the sandwiches. There were pickles, which were nice, but there’s nothing like some chips to go with a sandwich. Maybe something Carnival could consider in the future?

 2) Our room was directly underneath the pool deck. I expected to hear some noise from the chairs being pulled across the deck, etc., but this was happening at 3 am, which made it nearly impossible to sleep some nights. I think it is perfectly acceptable for staff to organize the chairs and everything for the next day, but maybe they could at least wait until 6 am or so.

 3)The last night of the cruise when we were heading back to New Orleans on the Mississippi, I noticed there were several people smoking on their balconies (not sure if this is allowed or not).

Anyway, I don’t think this is a problem as long as people properly dispose of their cigarettes when they are finished smoking. I noticed, however, at least two people who threw their cigarettes overboard, and this was very concerning to me, as I was afraid that they could blow back on the ship and start a fire. I don’t know if there is a way to monitor this, but if there is, that would be great.

 4) The music on the Lido deck was absolutely horrible except for when the DJ was playing or when there was live music. There was a guy who played the guitar on sea days that I really enjoyed, but the generic music played over the speaker was not good at all.

 5) The beer wasn’t cold enough. By the end of the week, we finally started ordering a bucket of ice with our beers (we had the Cheers program so we couldn’t order a bucket of four at a time). And we would wait five minutes and order another so hopefully by the time we finished the first one, the one in the bucket would be cold, but even then, the ice was melting pretty quickly. I’m not sure if it’s possible to turn the temperature down in the refrigerators or maybe keep the beer on ice at the bar. Just a thought.

 6) As I mentioned earlier, we had late seating for dinner, and one thing we missed out on this cruise, were the shows. They were always closer to 7 pm before dinner. It sure would’ve been nice if the shows were after dinner, closer to 9:30 pm. The reason we always choose late dining is so we can get extended time in by the pool on the Lido deck, head back to the room around 6, take a nap until about 7 and then shower and get ready for dinner and all of the evening’s festivities. I’m sure there must be a reason the shows for late seating are before dinner (maybe you’ve tried having them after dinner in the past and had low turnouts), but just something I wanted to comment on, as I was slightly disappointed that I missed every single show. Even if you alternated times for the show (maybe one night before dinner and one night after), that would be pretty nice.

 7) Finally, there were many areas of the ship that were so hot. We had the A/C in the room turned on the coldest it would go, but it was still burning up. Basically, if you did anything other than stay in bed completely still, you would sweat instantly. The family we sat next to at dinner had a room that was so hot, they ended up switching rooms halfway through the week. The MDR at the back of the ship was really hot and stuffy, too, especially on formal nights when all the men were dressed up with their suit jackets and ties.

 I hope I didn’t overwhelm you with comments, and I would like to assure you that, overall, we had a great time. My comments/suggestions above are just minor things that could’ve made my cruising experience that much better, and hopefully these things will be taken into consideration in the future for the benefit of both myself and future cruisers. I know you are very busy and I very much appreciate you taking the time to read this e-mail.


Rachel Hetzler

 John says:

 Hello Rachel Hetzler

I want to thank you most sincerely for taking such time to write this detailed and superb report. I often say this and will again because it’s absolutely true and that it’s because of reviews like this we learn and improve, so thank you. I will then send this on to all the right people so the praise and the suggestions can be seen. I am so glad that you had such a great time and I assure you that we will work hard to get even better. Thanks again and hope to see you soon. Best wishes.


 Charissa Ersland asks:

 I am not a drinker, I’m more of a soda drinker, however, my husband does like to indulge in adult beverages, especially when we are on vacation. Are they going to be making exceptions for the Cheers program so that not EVERYONE in the cabin has to purchase it????

 John says:

 Hello Charissa Ersland

At the moment, there are no plans to change the current rules on our Cheers program so in your case, it would not be worth doing. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes to you both.


 Scott Sanfilippo asks:

 Dear John,

I never thought I’d be writing one of “those” letters, but at least we’re not breaking up.  Actually, this is more like a “Hey, let’s get to know each other” Dear John letters. Unlike others who follow your exploits, I’ve never been on a Carnival ship.  Yeah, you’re sitting there in your underpants in balmy Alaska reading what I’m writing from the beach in Boca Raton saying, “FFS, Scott, why?” Well, I’ve always looked at the Carnival product as one that appeals to the “spring break” type crowd who loves belly flop contests, buckets of beer that lead to rumpy pumpy on the balcony, and dipping their gentleman’s sausages in the chocolate fountain after a day of partying. I’m a guy who has racked up 30+ cruises on Holland America, Regent, Crystal and Cunard, rather than Micky’s flagship line. In fact, I was once quoted as saying, “They would have to drug me, tie me up and drag me on a Carnival ship.” Well, guess what? The time has come for me to experience all that Carnival has to offer.

 A few friends have pleaded with me to join them on June 15 for a short trip on the Carnival Liberty out of Port Canaveral (booking number 97KCS1) and, after much deliberation, arm twisting and convincing myself it can’t be all that bad, decided to join them. In all honestly, I’m looking forward to the trip and seeing what Carnival has to offer, although it’s going to be a little different from what I’m used to.  But hey, it can’t be that bad, right?! Since we’re both brand ambassadors for well-known companies, these are the letters we like to receive.  After all, it’s our jobs to convince people to use our product, and have the best experience while doing

so.  Unlike others who write you and ask for a specific table in the dining room, or a bowl of salted almonds served at 3:37 pm each day, I’m not asking for a thing – although a ship on a stick would be nice.  I’ll even send you one of my company’s coveted bobble heads in exchange!

I’m just writing to say that, in addition to curiosity and arm twisting, your daily musings are another reason I’m taking the leap!

 I don’t want the few minutes I have your attention for to go without a few questions, so here it goes.  Does Carnival offer “status match” with other CCL lines, such as Holland or are there any

“perks” that my status on HAL will get me?  And as someone who travels solo all the time, because my idea of a vacation is to get away from everyone, are there ever special offers for us solos that make the dreaded “single supplement” a little more palatable? Doesn’t hurt to ask right?  Because you never know… I may come off the ship with an entirely new view of Carnival… and at the end of the day, isn’t that what we both want to happen? Cheers!

 P.S. Next time you’re down the road in Miami, I’d love to buy you a beer when you’re staying at the Hyattintercontinhiltonsuites. 

Scott Sanfilippo

 Johns says:

 Hello Scott Sanfilippo

Thank you for this brilliant post and I am thrilled indeed that you will be experiencing all the Carnival fun. Your cruise experience is going to be an interesting read so I do hope you will take the time to send me a review afterward. Before I forget, the day before the cruise, please, can you send me your cabin number on Facebook? Unfortunately, with the Carnival companies being so different it has so far not been possible to match the loyalty programs. I wish then there was something I could do to help with that single supplement but that one is a little out of my reach. But, please, send me that cabin number and I wish you the very best of times as you experience the Carnival style of fun. Best wishes.


  Edythe Lemaster asks:

 Just off the Carnival Pride and very disappointed that the new gift for us platinum loyalists is a stupid coffee cup. Princess is giving free Internet and RCI give T-shirts and free wine with dinner EVERY NIGHT. So we get a coffee cup for our 14 cruises with Carnival. I doubt anyone has thought what happens if, like me, you do drink coffee DUH! Not impressed, not happy.

 John says:

 Hello Edythe Lemaster

Let me start by thanking you for your loyalty and I hope that you had a wonderful cruise on the Carnival Pride. I have actually seen some very positive comments about the new coffee mug and having seen it, I must admit I think it’s rather nice. Hopefully you can use it for other beverages such as tea or milk. I cannot comment on what other lines do but I can say that I hope we see you soon and that one day you will be a diamond member with us. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you. Best wishes.


 Steve Toth asks:

 Greetings John: We will be on our 14th Carnival cruise on Oct 25, 2014 (not bragging, though) it will be on the Carnival Glory, our fifth Halloween cruise. We loved every single cruise on Carnival. We can’t come up with a single negative thing to say about our times on the ships. A couple questions for you: will Matt Mitcham be our CD? We’ve sailed with him twice and he is the very best Carnival has. Also, what shows will be on the stage? I need to sneak one more question here: what band will be playing at the casino bar? (Music Power or the Music Highlights Band?). I know our favorites are not going to be there (Blood Power) they are going on the Valor. I would really appreciate the information on these requests.


 John says:

 Hello Steve Toth

Thanks so much for your loyalty and for your very kind words. The CD for your cruise is still up in the air, I am afraid. We are making changes as we go through the next few months but come the end of July, I should be able to tell you. The shows will be Latin Nights, Motor City, Divas and Epic Rock plus a variety act and four comedians. I don’t have the band schedule, it shows TBA at the moment so, please check with me in August here or my Facebook page and I will have that for you. Have a brilliant time and loads of fun. Best wishes.



That’s all for today, thanks so much for your comments and questions.

 So back to my time alone in Skagway last cruise. After my shopping trip and carrying my bag made of tofu, I decided it was time to cheer myself up with some Alaskan salmon. So I stopped at a nice looking waterside restaurant and sat down at a table. Now I have always had the greatest admiration for the single cruiser because I, personally, could never vacation alone. Just asking for a table for one made me feel sad so I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for solo cruisers to see all those couples and families walking along the promenade together.

 I know there are regulars here like Peggy, Sally, Leon and others who cruise on their own and I think they are very brave to do so and, of course, we do all we can to make sure they have fun. But single traveling is not for everyone. I also know that there are those who have cruised on their own and hated it. I spoke to one man back on the Carnival Legend when we were in Europe last year. He had just gotten divorced and decided to take a cruise on his own. He wound up drinking a bit more than usual just to get it over with quicker. He said he would never do another cruise on his own ever again. It was fine during the day because he went on tours and walked the sites of the Baltic but in the evenings I remember him saying, there’s not much he could do except eat alone in or sit alone in the lounges and bars. And in Skagway I understood how he felt. As I said, a table for one is about as much fun as getting seasick and lockjaw at the same time. My solo dining experiences have been me sitting there, reading my Raspberry while couples walk past thinking “I’m not surprised he’s alone, the ugly fat bastard.” So, eventually, you’ll get so lonely you’ll start talking to yourself as I often find myself doing in the cabin actually.

 On Facebook last week someone asked me if we had a page where single cruisers could meet up and find each other and maybe share a cabin. We used to do this some years ago but, to be honest, we really didn’t get a lot of folks to take advantage of this program. I know there are some folks who don’t mind traveling solo and having a roommate that they just met but there are others, like me, who don’t want to be rooming with a stranger. What if a really annoying jabbering, bearded bloke with breath straight from Satan’s armpit latches on to me on the first day and decides I’m his best mate and won’t leave me alone? Then I’m stuck with him in the cabin and he asks me if, “I want to cuddle” and then I feel his beard tickling my face and then I repeatedly bludgeon him over the head with the bedside light and have to hide the body in the safe. So, as I said, I have a lot of respect for the single cruiser. You will see Carnival have more single cruiser deals in future days and as always, if you would like my help with being seated with other single cruisers please let me know by contacting me on facebook.com/johnheald and I will do all I can for you.

So today we start a new cruise and, as usual, I would like to share who is sailing with us.

 TOTAL GUESTS                                                                   2,244

USA                                                                                        2,123                                                  

CANADA                                                                               44

FRENCH CANADIANS                                                         8

UK                                                                                          26

AUSTRALIA                                                                          9

CHINA                                                                                    3

PEOPLE WITH THE LAST NAME WOO                            2

GUESTS UNDER 21                                                              265

PLATINUM GUESTS                                                            155

DIAMOND GUESTS                                                             11

 I wonder if we will have any cowboys on this cruise? Certainly, last cruise a cowboy hat caused all sorts of problems which I have documented discussed and hopefully won’t have to again. The owner of the hat whose name was Lee, was a real farmer and, although I didn’t ask him, I would bet my favourite pair of underpants that he owns a pickup truck. Yep, he was a frontiersman who likes his beer cold, his deer raw and his music country-style. He was a really nice chap and I wanted to make sure I mentioned that here despite some folks ridiculing him for not taking his hat off. Having met him and spoken with him, I can assure everyone he was a nice guy….in a hat.

 It was a strange sort of cruise not because of the situation in the dining room or the cruise itself. The weather was wonderful in the ports, we arrived on time in Victoria, BC and the guests were wonderful and I think had a brilliant time. No, it was just the other stuff, little things here and there and, of course, a whole day and nights work wasted because of my Facebook problems. The I/T beards in Miami were very helpful but I am sure they are sick and tired of me. I was being shown how to download Uncle Google Moan and, even as I listened to the on-hold stuff, I was already dreading the conversation with the IT guys who were going to give me instructions on what do while scribbling the words “thick as ****” on their work pads. But Uncle Google Moan has been downloaded and Facebook is back……………and I have to ask, am I the only one who wants to beat Mr. Zuckerberg over the head with my keyboard for changing the page without warning?

 Yep, I missed not having Facebook for those two days. You see, going out in port, even in a region as beautiful as Alaska when you’re on your own, really is simply not my cup of tea and that’s why I need to keep busy and that why the social media avenues I have are so important. And in Skagway last week as I waddled back to the ship with my white hemorrhoid cream in my green bag I suddenly realised that, not having Facebook and not being able to answer your questions and chat about this cruising life we all love, I was a wee bit lonely. It’s a funny thing Facebook. I sometimes find myself lulled into a false sense of security by the ease with which I just knock out a few paragraphs of silliness and then…….click. At once, there it is, out there for all to see. Remember, I do mean “all.” There’s a big difference from you sitting at your computer and then finding what you just wrote being instantly visible to the entire world. Try to think of it as like stepping out of the toilet with a wet spot on your pants to find yourself standing in the middle of Promenade deck about to have Mr. Radu take your photo.

 So for anyone thinking about starting a Facebook public page like I have, let me say this. Write from the heart about the good the bad, the ugly and the French and, if you do, the readers will come. Once they do, many will stay. You will acquire regulars. You’ll get to know them. If they stay away for a while, you’ll miss them. You’ll feel somehow responsible for and to them. This is weird, I know, but then good things start to happen and suddenly you have a huge group of family and friends scattered across the World Wide Web. This, combined with the relief that comes with the ability to get something instantly off my chest, is what keeps me writing there every day. There are days I want to quit, I really do. I dream of going cold turkey. But I never do and I am lost in Facebook and, of course, this blog both of which………….. I truly adore.


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.