June 6, 2014 -

John Heald

If I was walking around the Carnival Miracle and saw someone indulging in antisocial behavior, such as sitting on Promenade Deck and putting their feet on one of the chairs or spitting that chewy tobacco stuff into a cup (both of which I have actually seen last cruise), I would simply roll my eyes and keep on walking. If it were something more serious, such as trying to pull a cowboy hat of some poor bugger’s head in the dining room, I would probably even say something. Strangely, however, when I spot someone dropping litter, I am overcome with a sometimes uncontrollable need to perform experiments on that person that involve drills and nipple clamps. I felt like this yesterday. I stood waiting on Deck 8 forward from the elevator to come take me to Deck 2. The doors opened and I watched a man who was around my age, take his plastic cup that he was eating ice cream from and just drop it……yes, drop it — not place it — on the floor of the elevator and walk away. The cup tipped over and a small trickle of ice cream went onto the floor of the elevator. Now, it was 1:30 pm and we were in Skagway, so many guests were off the ship and so he probably didn’t think anyone would see him……..I did, though. Now maybe I should have chased him down and given him the cup and spoon back and asked him to put it on a table or pass to a crew member. Maybe I should have wacked him on the nose with the spoon and poured the remainder of the ice cream down his pants……….but I didn’t. I picked it up and placed it in one of the bar pantries.

Now that is not the most interesting story in the world, is it? Certainly not as gripping as books like Donald Sterling: My Life with Viagra but, for some reason, this silly thing, this little ice cream spill in the elevator, really made me mad. In my role as cruise director and brand ambassador, would it perceived as rude to chase this guy down and return the cup? Yes, it would be and probably very unprofessional, too. He meant no harm I am sure so why did it get to me so much?

As I said, I could have followed him and give it to him but I didn’t, I used self-control. I did not use self-control last cruise. I was talking to the most delightful and wonderful guest who without saying too much was in a wheelchair and despite facing the most extraordinary challenges was the most amazing and exuberant and positive person anyone could wish to meet. As I was speaking to her, a man stood close by and in the middle of me talking to her he whistled at me and, as I looked up, he did the finger wagging thing to say come here. I asked him politely to, “Stand by, sir” and carried on talking to the lady. He did it again, both the whistle and the finger wave and so I looked up, said “Woof woof” and panted like a dog. I then smiled and said, “Sir, just a moment and I will be right with you.” I should not have done that. I really should not have done that and even though I was trying to be funny and use humour, instead of telling him to be bloody patient, I should not have done that. That was quite unprofessional of me for sure. So maybe that has been on my mind and that’s why when I saw that cup of ice cream being casually put on the elevator floor and tipping over spilling out, I didn’t tell him to pick the sodding thing up again.

As Frank once sang………………….regrets, I have a few.

Elaine Carroll asks:
I am a PLATINUM!!  I have been on the Carnival Pride several times. I am on the repositioning cruise in March… please tell me they are changing the decor…The decor is the most depressing I have ever seen.  What are they planning on doing to make it a Fun Ship 2.0 ship?

John says:
Hello Elaine Carroll

Thank you for your loyalty and I am glad to see you have enjoyed the Carnival Pride. She will have a two-week dry dock and will receive many of the popular Fun Ship 2.0 elements like Alchemy Bar, EA Sports Bar, BlueIguana Cantina, Guy’s Burger Joint and more. She will be more brilliant than ever, that’s for sure.  Hope we see you soon. Best wishes.


Rosemary Robinson asks:
I will be on an Alaska cruise in September and I can’t find the shore excursion options from the ship at Tracy Arm. I seem to recall there was a small boat that came alongside the ship and took passengers under the glacier. Is it no longer available and why? It was priced around $190 and I cannot find it on the list.

John says:
Hello Rosemary Robinson

It is indeed available and you will be able to purchase it on board, the price is $183 and it is simply outstanding. It gives you unprecedented looks at the glacier and the marine life that live there. I will tell you more on board. See you soon. Best wishes.


Peggy Atchley asks:
As a platinum VIP passenger with Carnival, I would like that you give people like me priority boarding before the passengers on Faster to the Fun for $50. There should be a 10-minute gap at least so the privilege we have spent thousands of dollars on is not ruined by having to share this privilege with the general population. Does Carnival not value me as a customer? If they do, then this needs to be done.

John says:
Hello Peggy Atchley

We certainly do value your loyalty and I personally hope that it continues for a long time to come. You know, depending on the size of the ship we sell only an average of 15 cabins with Faster to the Fun and yes, Diamond and Platinum guests should embark first – and most of the time they do. But I really do not think a 10-minute pause between the two is needed. What is needed is to make sure that the Diamond and Platinum guests embark first and we work hard to make sure that happens. Please let me know if you have any other questions and I will be here for you. Best wishes.


Crystal Goettle asks:
Hey! If we want to have no room service from the cleaners for the five days we are on the boat, how can we tell you that we do not want this? Who do I get this done with? We are on the Carnival Fascination in August.

John says:
Hello Crystal Goettle

If you mean do you have to have the cabin steward clean your cabin twice a day? Well, no you don’t have to have it done, although I must say this is a very unusual request. If you insist on this, please write to me on my Facebook.com/johnheald page the day before the cruise and I will arrange this for you. Having the stewards clean your cabin is a wonderful part of the cruise, so please have a think about this and let me know if you have any questions. Best wishes.


Kristi Wilson asks:
Hello: My name is Kristi Wilson. To be honest, I had no idea who you were until I kept seeing your posts pop up in my feed on Facebook that some of my friends have commented on. I kept seeing all of this stuff about cruises and some of the stuff you post is pretty neat. I Googled your name and found out that you work for Carnival. I just wanted to tell you that I enjoy reading the things that pop up in my feed that you write and the questions that you ask of people. You seem to have a way of talking to people and can do it nicely which I would imagine would be beneficial in your line of work. I have never been on a cruise in my life. To be honest, I’m a little

scared. I am ashamed to say that I have watched Titanic (I know you are probably rolling your eyes here…LOL) and I just have a fear that something will happen while we are in the middle of the ocean. I have also been told there are certain rules one must abide by when on a cruise, and I’m afraid I would do something wrong and get in trouble by the workers, and most important, I worry about my daughter’s safety while out on a boat in the middle of the water. Before my husband got laid off and my daughter got sick and had to have surgery, we thought about taking our first family vacation and taking a cruise. Needless to say, those plans got put on permanent

hold. My husband is still trying to talk me into a cruise once we get the money, but like I said, I’m a little scared.  In closing, just wanted to tell you that I think you seem very personable and that it’s great you have such a good attitude when dealing with people from all walks of life, and I can tell that you seem to really love your job. Keep up the good work, sir!


Kristi Wilson

John says:
Hello Kristi Wilson

I am so honoured that despite your worries that you still take the time to read my stuff and I’m even happier that you like it. Carnival has safely carried more than 60 million guests in our 42-year history and cruising has proven to be one of safest vacation options around, in addition to being incredibly fun and affordable.  I hope that your circumstances change and that one day we will see you here and meanwhile keep reading and when and if you have questions I will be here for you. Hope to see you soon. Best wishes to you all.


Gerard asks:
I just want say that last year we cruised on Carnival fort third year in row and this year will be fourth…….although I could have gone on Carnival Liberty for an extra day and about $400 cheaper, I chose the Carnival Sunshine and the reason was last year we sailed on the Carnival Dream and Jaime Dee is just that good…when I found out she was CD on Carnival Sunshine this August, it was a no brainer.  That girl is magnificent, worth triple of whatever she earns…….if ever there is a debate about what ship and she is on one them … it will be that ship no doubt……you have a diamond in that girl …can’t wait – I know that ship will be rocking.

John says:
Hello Gerard

There is no doubt that Jaime is one of our best cruise directors and I am sure she will be thrilled when she sees this. She works so hard and has so much energy so it is no surprise that you enjoyed her so much. Hope we see you soon and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.


Kreg Hahn asks:
I agree that your staff should not be allowed to eat and play in passenger places. You would never go to Disney World and see that and I should know because I work there. I cruised on Carnival Dream last year and was shocked to see the workers in elevators, bars and taking up places that should have been for customers only, at tables on the top deck where the food is served. Why is this allowed? Not cool at all

John says:
Hello Kreg Hahn

First of all I hope you had a great cruise and what a privilege it must be to work for the brilliant Disney organisation. We allow only a select group of officers and staff to be in guest areas and they have strict rules as to when and what they can do. I think many guests appreciate seeing them there and have a chance to interact and ask questions. But the bottom line is guests come first and that is something our two companies have in common. Thanks, Kreg. Hope we see you soon. Best wishes.


Mandi Crago asks:
John: I have been reading your Facebook suggestions for almost two weeks. I feel that there are a few people who enjoy Carnival…but not the fun. (I am definitely not one of those people).  Can you take one ship, on one itinerary, make it nothing but tables for two for dining (if there are families of four or six, the tables can be moved)…close off the basketball courts and extend the Serenity area. Make vegetarian meals in the steakhouse. Don’t host games on sea days. But keep the nightly entertainment….ya know…….make a fuddy duddy ship…and send all your complaints to that ship for their next port of call and allow those of us who enjoy Carnival’s ideas the way they are.

John says:
Hello Mandi Crago

I think there is a cruise line that caters to that and it’s……….never mind. Thanks for the great post and I hope we see you again soon and if there is anything at all I can do for you, please do let me know. Best wishes.


Ted Caffyn asks:
John, we are on the Carnival Liberty August 30! Question is I want to do the behind the scenes tour. I know it is limited, so why can’t you book it like an excursion rather than when on board? It’s easy to get caught up in the fun and, by the time I get to guest services, it is sold out. Any ideas? Hope you are enjoying Alaska but wish you were sailing with us in August. Stay safe my friend, Ted.

John says:
Hello Ted Caffyn

There must be a good reason why the beards do not allow this but as I sit here answering this, I really have no idea why. Let me ask and see what we can do because I agree, I think it would help. Let me get back to you when I have news and please let me know if there is anything I can do before your next cruise. Have fun Ted. Best wishes.


Bernadett Froysland asks:
We were surprised to see thongs allowed at every pool and not just the adults area. Does Carnival have rules about this? I know you are not allowed topless sunbathing but should thongs not also be banned?

John says:
Hello Bernadett Froysland

We do not have rules on thongs, except the one that says I am forbidden to wear one. We do not allow topless sunbathing and, to be honest, I have never given this much thought………thongs? Well, I can understand your point but how do we police that? And should we? Certainly one for discussion so I will put this on my Facebook page and see what your fellow cruisers have to say. Please do let me know if you have any other questions and hope we see you soon. Best wishes.


Dorothy Goss asks:
I read today that you will be on the Carnival Legend in Alaska next year. Having crossed the Atlantic both ways on the Carnival Legend last year and being disappointed that Carnival has abandoned Europe, Alaska may be the next item we tick on our bucket list. However, a seven- day cruise is just not worth the flight from the UK.I tried to find where the Carnival Legend was going after Alaska thus giving us the possibility of a back to back that doesn’t just go to the same places again, but could not find this information on the website. Is it just that the schedule is not decided or am I thinking too far in advance? Thank you for amusing me on a regular basis and I look forward to travelling with you again.

John says:
Hello Dorothy Gross

I totally understand, it is indeed a long way to come. We have not announced this yet but I would think there will be a Hawaii cruise coming up. Maybe that would be the perfect cruise for you to do and I will let you know as soon as everything is confirmed. Let’s see what happens and, regardless, I really do hope you can cruise with us. Please let me know if I can help further and hope to see you soon. Best wishes.


Kyle O’Neill asks:
On Carnival Elation can you smoke at the back of the ship on the Lido deck? Also before you leave port, can you smoke on the outdoor decks? If not, where can you smoke?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John says:
Hello Kyle O’Neil

Thanks for writing and here is the exact answer as per the notification in the ship’s Fun Times:


Smoking is prohibited in all guest staterooms. Guests in balcony staterooms are permitted to smoke on the stateroom balcony. Smoking is permitted in the casino while playing at designated slot machines and table games, the Drama Bar (limited to designated area), the Jekyll & Hyde nightclub and Lido Deck main pool starboard side. Cigar smoking is only permitted at Lido Deck main pool starboard side and stateroom balconies only. Smoking is not allowed when the ship is bunkering or refueling in New Orleans and an announcement will be made when it is safe to do so.

Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.


Wanda Schwieger asks:
John, your ice tea is undrinkable. Love Carnival — HATE your ice tea.

John says:
Hello Wanda Schwieger

I am very sorry to hear that and, again, I will pass this to the beards. I took a poll on this recently on Facebook and I think while many said it had improved and that they really liked — many said they did not. I will pass this along and I am also so glad to see you “love Carnival.” Long may that continue! Best wishes.


Joe Bowers asks:
John: I read today’s blog and am amazed. I’m in my apartment and I actually screamed “OH FFS!!!”  I can’t believe someone wrote to CCL about your political correctness or lack thereof or whatever. If they have such a problem with you, why are they reading your blog?!? The simple thing is to not read it. I love your blog and your Facebook page. I look forward to your posts EVERY day. I look forward to the humor, the stories, the insights, and most importantly…..your unvarnished honesty. I have taken two cruises on Carnival and have three more booked. Part of my loyalty is because of you. For my second cruise, it was supposed to be my friend and me. It ended up being a group of six of us, one of which was my aunt. I had spoken with you here about it and you made the trip extra special for my aunt and me.  Your acts of kindness and generosity do not go un-noticed. I have three cruises planned. My next is in September on the Carnival Dream. Then we are going on the Carnival Fantasy for the third time in April and then next August to Alaska. We are hoping you do choose to do the Alaska season next year. I want to cruise with you, shake your hand, give ya a big hug, and personally thank you for what you’ve done for me and CCL in general. You are a GREAT man. You do GREAT things. You are an ASSET to Carnival. Keep your head held high and be proud of what you do.   Wish I was there


John says:
Hello Joe Bowers

What a wonderful way to end today’s Q&A. May I please say a huge thank you for your kind words which are both uplifting and rejuvenating. I try my best to make sure that everyone has the best of times and I will keep doing just that. It would be great to see you in Alaska with us and, if there is anything I can do for you please let me know. Thanks again for your kindness and hope to see you very soon. Best wishes.


That’s all for today. Thanks to everyone who takes the time to post here on the blog. In a blog last week, I spoke about dress codes and cowboy hats and elegant night being a choice. Of course, it never used to be but it would be futile to say that times have not changed, because they have.

The event that used to kick-start elegant night or formal night was the captain’s party which is what we now call the Captain’s Celebration. Yep, by 5 pm half the ship would be dressed formally and the other half would be dressed the same by 7pm. In those days, everyone dressed formally, it was the rule and it was tradition. Today, it’s all about choice and the freedom to wear what you want to wear on your cruise vacation. Who are we to tell you otherwise? But there is no doubt that the Captain’s Celebration has suffered a bit, attendance wise. Yes, yes, yes, I know we served free cocktails in thimble-sized glasses but that can’t have been the only reasons people came out of the sun, got dressed in elegant attire and came to the party…………can it?

These events used to be huge. I remember serving the drinks as a bar waiter and watching Captain Sbisa and Cruise Director Gary Hunter shake hands with the passengers and, before too long, I was Gary Hunter. I don’t mean I became a brilliant ventriloquist and spoke with a southern accent and went to work for Crystal Cruises…….I mean, before too long I was standing at the door with the captain shaking hands with the passengers. Back then we had the Carnivale, Mardi Gras, Tropicale, Holiday, Jubilee, Celebration and the Fantasy. All of the captain’s parties were held in the main theatres and a ship’s photographer would stand at the entrance and take photos of guests as they shook hands with the captain.

Now, back then, much like today, our captains were truly welcoming and enjoyed the social aspect of their jobs. However, there were one or two captains back in the day who us cruise directors would dread having to do these parties with. There was one captain, who I am sure was a superb navigator yet he had graduated from the Donald Sterling Charm School. I will call him Captain Fanarovino. Anyway, they did not suffer fools gladly and they would make it pretty clear who they thought were fools. Let me explain.

If there is one question that has been consistently asked over the years it is one addressed to the captain and it goes like this:  “If you are here………who is driving the boat?”  This question is usually followed by a laugh as though they are the first person ever in the entire history of cruising to ask that question. Now, these days our captains usually answer it with a pretend laugh or the answer of “my chauffeur”….or the more serious captains would give guests the professional answer of, “Well, there are two officers on the bridge at all times. Right now, we have Rocco Carbonora and Luigi Cannoli who are on the bridge along with two highly qualified, trained and competent mariners. The ship is on auto pilot, a system developed by the shipyard in Finland where the ship was built in 2004 at a cost of $400 million. The auto pilot system uses a double capacitor warpness cell based on the Jean Luc Picard scale and………” By then, the passenger had probably fallen asleep.

Anyway, regardless of what answer the captains gave, they certainly would never, ever say what Captain Fanarovino used to. It went something like this:

Guest: “Evening Captain. If y’allllllllll are here, who is driving the boat? Ha ha ha ha ha.”

Captain Fanarovino: “Is a stupid question, why you have to say stupid things like that – pah!” And then under his breath “porca Madonna masaria testa da minkya” which by the way is not Italian for “enjoy the party.”

Honestly, I used to cringe and do my best to find the guests in the lounge after the hand shaking bit was finished and apologise to them. Some thought that captain was being funny, some were truly offended. Oh, and God help any man who tried to introduce himself to the captain before his wife. He would then receive both barrels from the master, “You needa to lerna that de man introduce the lady to the capitano firsta” and this time not under his breath, ”Porca Madonna masaria testa da minkya.”

Captains Fanarovino is no longer with us, of course, and one thing that has also disappeared is the photographer taking pictures of you and the captain. This is a real shame and there are two reasons this happened. One is the sheer numbers of people. When we did these parties on the smaller ships we had far less people. Now we have 3,500 or 4,000 guests on the Dream-class and the sheer logistics of getting the guests where they need to be, next to the captain, smile, oh, you blinked, let’s do another, means that it would take forever.

Gone are the days of the ship photographers standing there shouting, “Hold it, hold it hold it” …… “Squeeze together, squeeze together.” These days, if people want to meet the captain and want a photo, they take it with their own cameras or eyephones. But it seems less and less people want to meet the captain or at least make an effort to do so. I wonder why? It is a shame because Captain Luca Lazarino, like many of our captains, is a warm, sincere, genuine person who truly enjoys meeting guests. Maybe we need to work harder to find a platform for him to do that from.

Alaska is amazing and I have now officially run out of words to describe how…….. bugger ………. it is. And I have now confirmed with the beards that starting from the Vancouver to Seattle cruise, I will be on the Carnival Legend for the season in 2015.  I am writing this on Thursday afternoon here in Skagway and, because of Mount Bugger, I have no satellite connection and the guests have no TV reception either. That means in one hour when the NBA finals start we will miss watching the Heat demolish the Spurs.

The Miami Heat is Carnival’s team and the connection between the two organisations is obvious. From Micky Arison, the team’s owner and our chairman, to hundreds of crew members around the fleet, Carnival employees love and cherish the Miami Heat. There is one chap I know who is a senior beard at Carnival who is a massive fan. He lives, breathes and loves the Heat more than anything in the whole wide world which is why he is single and has the love life of a Benedictine monk. That and the fact that this single, 30-something Carnival employee admitted to me that in his Miami Beach luxury apartment he has a comforter on his bed with the Miami Heat logo on it and a full size picture of LeBron James. He has in previous conversations with me mentioned that he gets no rumpy pumpy and now I think we know why……..don’t we? One can imagine the scene as he finally meets a girl and brings her back to his apartment. They tonsil hockey their way to the bedroom, ready to unleash their passion when, suddenly, she sees that he has a Miami Heat comforter with LeBron’s grinning face on it which is only a little less dismaying to her than spotting on his bedside table, a jar of Preparation H and some penicillin.

Let’s Go Heat!


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.