John Heald…….Headhunter

June 17, 2014 -

John Heald

Motivating my flaccid arse to go to the Carnival Miracle’s gym is hard enough even though my cabin is on deck 8 and the gym is right above me on Deck 9. Sometimes the wait for the elevator is so frustrating. As a fat chap, I can feel at ease with myself in most walks of life but in a gym there is no disguising it. There are mirrors everywhere that shout, “Hey, you fat bastard about time you spent some time here.”  And that’s what the guests who use the gym are saying — “Look at our chubby CD.” Proof positive of this was yesterday when, on one of the exercise bikes, a male guest dripping with sweat stood next to me rubbed my stomach in a circular motion and said, “You have to start somewhere.” I nodded and smiled and had thoughts about tying his dangly bits to a weight and dropping it off Deck 9 of the atrium.

It’s not the fitness freaks that get to me though as they run at 300 mph on the treadmill without breaking a sweat …….I don’t mind them……no the ones I can’t stand……are the extreme bodybuilders of which there were always some here on the Carnival Miracle it seems. I truly do not understand why men and women want to look like they do.  Don’t get me wrong…….I want to get fit myself and totally understand the concept. As kids they have their dangly bits flicked with a wet towel in the school changing rooms by bullies and so they decide that this will never happen again. They then go to the gym, and start spending inordinate time pumping iron and turning them into a bulging human vein and…..keep going and going and going.

What I don’t get about these extreme bodybuilders is that, to me anyway, they look…. well …..  ugly. Women always say that they don’t find these veiny hunks attractive, but that’s probably the same thing as them claiming that the most attractive thing in a man is his sense of humor. I have found that to be complete bollocks, as well, because I have a half decent sense of how to make someone laugh and, yet, for most of my life, I had less rumpy pumpy than a Benedictine Monk ……….with syphilis. And, sorry, ladies, but if the male version of these extreme bodybuilders is wrong, then the female version is not much better.  Granted, these women are physically fit and beautiful in their own way but it’s just not for me. I can just about understand that some men might want to look like Conan the Barbarian, but what possesses a woman to want to look like that?  It all seems to come down to breasts. While the women lose whatever breastage they had, the men develop huge breasts the size of the Alps.

Anyway, just after the chap rubbed my stomach, two other men in tiny shorts and ripped on steroids started shouting at each other and there was some pushing and shoving ……maybe one had borrowed the other’s baby oil and not returned it. I was about to be the calming cruise director but then again, I thought, bugger it…. and hoped they would beat each other senseless with a dumbbell. They didn’t.  But at least I can say I have been going to the gym most days and walking two miles on the treadmill, riding the bike and using something that apparently will help the small planet that is my stomach become….well………normal. I feel fantastic after my morning workouts…….actually, that’s bollocks…….I feel like death warmed up. What I have tended to do when it comes to the business of being fit is not bother. I eat a lot and then I sit in a chair. Unfortunately, all this now has to stop because I want to be here for Kye for many years to come but every time I go to the gym, something happens.

While the ship is in Skagway and docked in front of Mount Bugger, I have no Internet which means no Facebook and no blog and no emails. So that is the perfect day then to go to the gym. This past cruise in Skagway I was walking on the treadmill and trying not to look how far I had gone until 30 minutes into the regime. After 20 minutes, I could bear it no longer so I lifted my towel to look to see if I had covered the first mile…….well……according to the digital readout — powered by my exertions, I might add — I had covered 200 meters. This was well short of the four kilometers I’d planned, so I gritted my teeth …….. farted…….and on I went.

Eventually, after several hours, I’d made enough electricity to power Cleveland and I’d reached my goal, so I tried to dismount. But it was no good. My brain was so stunned by what had just happened that it had lost control of my legs. I also felt dizzy and sick. The problem, I guess, is that I have been living on a diet of no carbs, which simply doesn’t provide enough calories to reach for the remote control, let alone walk four kilometers. As I walked on the treadmill, a guest appeared and spent the next 10 minutes telling me what I was doing wrong, how he had lost 50 pounds, run two marathons, shot Osama Bin Laden in the face and how he could help me. And because he is the guest and I am the employee I had to stand there panting and sweating with legs slightly weaker than a newborn foal. I don’t know why I sodding bother. Take a look at nature. Nobody looks at a lion and suggests it could catch more wildebeest if it spent less of its day lounging around in the shade. No, really. The thing about nature is that everything has a point. Cows developed udders so they could be milked and we can enjoy ice cream. And humans developed the remote control television so they could spend more time sitting down doing bugger all. Plainly, then, our stomachs are designed to demand food and feed fat to our arteries for a reason. I don’t know what the reason might be but I suspect it may have something to do with global warming………everything else does.

Time for today’s Q and A – let’s crack on.

Veronica Leahy asks:
Where EXACTLY can I smoke a real cigarette on Carnival Sunshine? And are there certain times?  Telling me “designated area” is NOT the answer that I’m looking for. EXACT LOCATIONS ON CARNIVAL SUNSHINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John says:
Hello Veronica Leahy

My apologies if you did not get the answer you needed the first time, so here is the specific answer you need. Carnival Sunshine has smoking areas as follows: Smoking and electronic cigarettes are prohibited in all guest staterooms. Guests in balcony staterooms are permitted to smoke on their stateroom balcony. Smoking and electronic cigarettes are only permitted on Deck 3 port side from forward to aft, Deck 10 port side near the Seaside Theatre, port side of the Sunshine Casino Bar counter, and while playing at designated tables and slot machines. Cigar and pipes are only permitted on Deck 10 port side near the Seaside Theatre. Please note all Cloud 9 Spa staterooms and suites are entirely smoke free, including balconies. Best wishes and have a great cruise.

Lois Blanco asks:
How do you feel you can justify that you charge for cups of cappuccinos and espressos in the main dining room now? Oh, are you frikking kidding me? Don’t blow corporate smoke up my ass just be straight and tell me it’s another cutback.

John says:
Hello Lois Blanco

Yes, indeed, we have for almost two years now added a charge for specialty coffees in the dining room. The coffee we serve has been upgraded to the same coffee we use at the Promenade Deck cafes made by Lavattza and tastes delicious. Just as we charge for these coffees at the cafes, we also charge for them in the dining room. Good coffee remains complimentary and served 24 hours a day on Lido and from room service. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.


Bryant Lonigro asks:
John, will Carnival change their smoking laws? I suffer from the asthma so why should I be forced off my balcony to accommodate the ignorant smokers!!!  I had smokers both side of me on the Carnival Valor and could not use the balcony that me and my partner had paid for. Smokers stink, they are killing themselves and yet they win!!!!!!!!!!

John says:
Hello Bryant Lonigro

I am so sorry that you had these concerns on the Carnival Valor and I do understand how non- smokers feel. At the moment, we do allow smoking on the balconies but will that ever change? Maybe it will one day but for now all I can do is apologise and hope that people will appreciate what a challenge it is to make both smokers and non-smokers happy and we will continue to do our best to make that happen.

Jonathan Moreno asks:
Hello Mr. Heald: Big fan of your blog! I have been on several of your cruises and you were a blast! Just had a quick question, me and my family were planning to cruise of the Carnival Valor in March or 2015 and I was wondering of the Fun Sip 2.0 upgrades will make it to the ship by then! We love all the great entertainment and food options that we have experienced of the Carnival Breeze and Carnival Dream. Thanks in advance!

John says:
Hello Jonathan Moreno

Thanks so much for the kind words. I am sure you are very excited about your cruise on the Carnival Valor and, although there are no plans to refurbish the ship, I am sure you will enjoy all the shows and fun that the ship will have ready for you. If you have any other questions, please do let me know. Best wishes.


Chris Johns asks:
Hi John: We’re big fans of Carnival and just finished our 12th cruise. This was our second cruise this year and we have a third booked for October. We were on the Carnival Victory from 5/22 to 5/26. We booked this cruise last minute which was two days prior to the cruise (a first for us). When we got on board at around 12:30 pm, we went to our room to drop off some carry ons. We were surprised to see the room steward cleaning. He told us that the room would not be ready until 1:30 p.m. I mentioned that we were platinum and usually the rooms were ready. He explained that the information was not passed on to him. Not a big deal, we just wrote it off to our last minute booking. If that was the only issue, it wouldn’t have been a big deal but there’s more. We did not receive any free drink vouchers. We did not receive our ship pins. We did not receive an invitation to the past guest party. We did not receive the platinum snack we usually get. We also booked at a casino rate and we’re supposed to receive free play. We went to the casino cashier several times and were told, “We don’t have your name on the list.” The last day of the cruise, we also had a $66 charge for “Crew Lounge – Deck 0” which occurred at 8:28pm while we were in the main theatre waiting for the show to start. Are these issues normal for last minute bookings? We really like the idea of a spontaneous last-minute cruise but with all these issues, we’re not sure we would attempt it again. Would love to hear back from you. Our booking number was 1Q9MK7. As I mentioned, we are Carnival fans and will continue to cruise with you. In fact, we’re already thinking of booking another cruise before our October Freedom cruise.

John says:
Hello Chris Johns

The answer is a simple:  “No, they are not usual” and I sincerely apologise that you had to go through these avoidable frustrations. Please know that I will make sure this gets investigated properly by the ship’s hotel director and I will also ask a colleague to be in touch with you. I am sorry that these uncommon mistakes happened and I assure you we will continue to work hard to make sure we improve. Please let me know if there is anything else I can help with and I will be here or on my Facebook page for you. I do hope we see you soon. Best wishes.


Tom Piacun asks:
Hi John, Love your writings.  Can’t wait for our Alaska cruise in 30 days to celebrate our 30th anniversary.  I do have one question.  On one of my first cruises, the cruise director was Willie Lee and he had his own song that they played whenever he took the stage.  It was Little Willie.  Do you have your own song?  If not, I would suggest Johnny be Good by Chuck Berry. The the audience can sing “Go Johnny Go” when you take the stage. Looking forward to seeing you. Thanks.


John says:
Hello Tom Piacun

That could be the perfect song for me and many thanks for writing. The thing is with me I have never liked “a stage entrance.” When I start a show, I always come through the side door and chat with the audience rather than the big fanfare of, “Please welcome to the stage,” etc. But Johnny Be Good would be a great song for me. I will see you soon, Tom, and please make sure you leave me your cabin number at the guest services desk when you get here. See you soon.  Best wishes.


David Hitchcock asks:
Hi John,

I have a question about VIP levels. We have been cruising since 2004, just getting ready for our next cruise on the Carnival Sunshine. We are now platinum guests and became VIP’s before they changed to VIFP. At the time after 25 cruises you became diamond level will be grandfather in to this level at 25 cruises? Thanks, Dave, and Carolyn Hitchcock. Fellow cruisers, Limeys and ex pats, cheers!!!

John says:
Hello David Hitchcock

Firstly, may I thank you sincerely for your loyalty and I hope that this will continue for many years to come. If I may mention that there was no Diamond level in the old program: guest’s that reached 25 received a milestone reward. That hasn’t changed; it’s not part of the loyalty program, it’s in addition to. You will reach the amazing level of Diamond when you reach 200 VIFP points. I do hope that this answers your question and please let me know if I can help further. Best wishes.


Richard Perry asks:
In late April, we sailed Carnival Breeze and took along my oldest daughter and son-in-law as their 25th wedding anniversary gift. Everyone had a blast! Carnival Breeze is a beautiful ship and we thoroughly enjoyed the ports of call. We even got my daughter, who is relatively timid, to zip line in Ocho Rios and hold stingrays in Nassau! My youngest daughter’s 25th birthday is in a couple of years, and we would like to treat them to a Carnival cruise as well. Problem is, they are vegans. I know there are salad and fruit bars, and perhaps appropriate dishes at the Tandoori area, but what about the main dining room? Do you have any suggestions as to how we approach this?

John says:
Hello Richard Perry

Please do not worry. We are very much used to providing options for our vegan guests. The best thing I can recommend is that you let our special needs desk in Miami know ahead of time or contact me on my page four days before the cruise with your cabin number. Either way, we will let the ship know and all will be well and vegan options will be made available which, I have no doubts, she will enjoy. I hope you all have a brilliant time. Best wishes.


Alison Nowicki asks:
As a PLATINUM VIP with two cruises booked in 2014, I must say that I was disgusted by your defense of wearing a cowboy hat in the main dining hall. If this man had been at my table, I would have knocked it off his head as well if he had refused to remove it. Standards are slipping at Carnival and, as their ambassador, I am shocked at your behavior.

John says:
Hello Alison Nowicki

Thank you for writing and, of course, a big thank you for your loyalty which has brought you to Platinum status. This was a two-sided story. The young man who wore the hat was a first-time cruiser, someone who had not vacationed on a cruise ship before until the owner of the farm where he worked bought him the cruise. The lady in question sat two tables away from him and at no point did she ask him to remove it. The first time she made a comment at the guest services desk and the second time she walked over and did indeed try to pull it off his head. The guest could have been combative but remained calm and did remove it. I hope that explains the story better and I hope we see you again for another cruise with us very soon. Best wishes.


Rosemary Phillips asks:
John could y’all make all of the cabin stewards know that power strips are allowed to be used in the cabins? Our cabin steward took ours on the Carnival Magic the first week of April stating they not allowed. I tried telling him that I read on the web site that we were allowed but he refused to listen. I was looking at the restrictions and found the exceptions again. I am including the section I am referring to. It is the third bullet confiscated items / exceptions. Electronic devices such as fans, power strips, multi-plug box outlet/adaptors, abstention cords are allowed on board when used with proper caution. However, if such devices are determined to pose a hazard, they will be removed and returned the last day of the cruise.  I hadn’t even plugged anything in yet and he took it. They need to be told about this exception. It really pissed me off that he pretty much called me a liar when he kept insisting that it was not allowed. Thanks.

Rose Philips

John says:
Hello Rosemary Philips

They are indeed and I apologise that you had these concerns. I know that the stateroom stewards have to be very careful to make sure the power strips are in good condition and, if not, to remove them for safety reasons obviously. I am not saying this was the case here but I did want to mention that. I will pass this to the ship’s managers and apologies again for the inconvenience caused. I do hope you had a great time and that we see you soon. Best wishes.


Mark Beeler asks:
I really enjoy your blog, sir. We are sailing on the Carnival Victory July 21 and the CD schedule says that Goose is the CD. I hear he is now on Carnival Imagination?  Can you help me out with this? We will not cancel our cruise because your ships are incredible.  Our last two have been with Goose and it is like losing a friend.

John says:
Hello Mark Beeler

What a wonderful comment for Goose who is indeed a wonderful cruise director. There have been some changes and your CD will now be Marcelo Alvarado who is from Brazil and who will make sure you have the best of times. Please let me know if you have any other questions and I wish you loads of fun. Best wishes.


Cris Connelly asks:
Hi John: I am excited that I have finally found a family member who will cruise to Alaska with me next summer.  My college-age son! My husband and I sail in September out of Puerto Rico on the Carnival Valor and I want to book my Alaska trip while on board to get the on-board credits.  I have never been prepared enough in the past to be ready to book while on board.  Please tell me there is a way to do this on Carnival Valor. One more question, we sailed last on the Christmas cruise on the Carnival Sunshine and The Chef’s Table was exactly the same as we had over a year before on a different ship.  Has the menu changed yet? Thanks for the laughs. I am so excited you will be doing Alaska again next year!


John says:
Hello Cris Connelly

Yes, indeed, there is, Cris. There is a loyalty cruise expert on the ship and he or she will be able to give you the best advice and make sure you have lots of choices when booking your cruise. We are now very close to a new Chef’s Table menu. In fact, I spoke about this with our VP of culinary operations just a couple of days ago. I do not have a start date yet but, as soon as I do, I will let you know. Have a great time and please do let me know if there is anything else I can help with. Best wishes.


Sharon Wolfe asks:
John, in the last few months, I have followed your blog daily. It saddens me daily to read rude remarks by passengers.  People, we are all cruising for the same reason – to enjoy and relax.  It must be so hard to sit in your cabins thinking up things and comments to spoil the fun.   One lady today talked about her being so much better than others because she isn’t wearing jeans in the dining room. Or the time that they need to be in the dining room to sit and enjoy a last cup of

coffee.  Another didn’t like a man wearing a hat, others upset because people had to sit at their table at a meal. Sadly, that John was being normal and looking at an attractive woman.  I will be on the Carnival Splendor in September and already instead of thinking of all the wonderful things we will see and do, I am concerned that I will offend someone with a platinum badge. (Funny, I don’t read of many other badge colors complaining). I have never seen so many picky snobby people.  I actually hope they will chose another cruise line.

John says:
Hello Sharon Wolfe

Thanks so much for the very kind words. I have become massively thick skinned recently and will continue to work as hard as I can to do my best to help everyone have the most fun on our ships. I do thank you so much for your support and if there is anything I can do for you please do let me know. Best wishes.


Diane Gannon asks:
I am trying to book a cruise on the Carnival Dream that falls through my birthday of 9/2/15 but a cruise is not showing then. Why is this, John?

John says:
Hello Diane Gannon

I checked on this and, apparently, the ship will be in wet dock in New Orleans for some scheduled maintenance September 1-4, 2015. I do hope that you find another cruise, Diane, and if you need help with anything at all, please let me know. Best wishes.


Eddy Verhine asks:
John, please would you tell me who the comedians will be on Carnival Elation 7/17 cruise? We had so many laughs at the comedy shows on Carnival Triumph last time out so hope to have the same again. Thanks for all you do for your thousands of fans, John.

John says:
Hello Eddy Verhine

Thanks so much for the very kind words and I am sure that you will be laughing out loud again with comedians Mark Hawkins, Lance Montalto and Billy D Washington. I wish you the best of times and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.


And that’s all for today.

It was another wonderful cruise and today the guests left with many memories of their seven days on Carnival Miracle. And so here we go again. Let’s see who is sailing with us as we start another Alaskan adventure:

Total Guests
USA                                        2,387

Canada                                                11

French Canadian                     4

UK                                          20

Australia                                  18

China                                       14

India                                        9

Mexico                                    7

Taiwan                                                7

Men called Robert                  21

Diamond                                 4

Platinum                                  157

Guests under 18                      393

So as I mentioned on Facebook the other day, we will soon be starting our rollout of the brand new and very shiny position of entertainment director which is the cruise directors’ old job minus any contact with the microphone or the PA system. It is designed to get the CDs out with the guests more and pass the desk responsibilities, departmental management responsibilities and the hemorrhoids that come with all of that to the new position.

This was the brainchild of a past cruise director, a young man some of you still write to me about asking where he is — that boy-band-loving chap, Ryan Fitzgerald. He has been the force behind this upgrade in the entertainment department and it has been a journey full of hard work and some challenges but in the next few months he will see all of that hard work pay of dividends. And more importantly, so will our guests. Yes, indeed, Ryan has a bright future as a beard and, no doubt, despite his love of the Back Street Kids On the Block, he will rise up the bearded tower. Ryan, you should be very proud and I know all the CD’s appreciate the care and attention you give them. Congratulations and despite the fact that you are a moisturizer-using metrosexual, you should be very proud of what you have and what you will achieve.

So what ships are we starting with the ED position on. Let’s have a look, shall we?

Carnival Freedom                               July 26
Entertainment Director                       Jocelyn “Shorty” Blandford
Cruise Director                                    Jen “Nearly as Short” Baxter

Carnival Breeze                                   July 27
Entertainment Director                       Brent Mitchell
Cruise Director                                    Matt Mitchum

These will be the test ships and, after that, it will be the turn of Carnival Sunshine and then a gradual roll out across the fleet over the next two years.

Now obviously there will be lots of our current crop of cruise directors who will be and want to be entertainment directors. Personally, I can’t understand why because, to me, that’s like driving the Formula 1 car and then suddenly becoming the mechanic. I would never want to give up the microphone but again, that’s just me and I am sure many of my colleagues will become the very best entertainment directors.

We will invest in our on-board talent and the assistant cruise director position that will cease as we roll out the new entertainment director positions. This will mean that we have a wonderful current crop of young ACD’s who will have the opportunity to apply for both CD and ED.

But we will also hire for this position from other recruiting pools, as well, and, for the first time, we will make an active effort to hire some cruise directors from outside of Carnival. Now we have a brilliant stable of CDs with some very bright stars of the future but now with more cruise director jobs available and the position being purely entertainment related, there may be some established entertainment and show business professionals in other industries who may want to know more. And, as a headhunter, I get 15% commission ……. kidding.

Let’s change the subject and talk about music. Our jazz and cigars under the Alaskan skies event last cruise produced the best turn out we have had so far with 80 guests attending. OK, that doesn’t sound like a lot but those 80 guests enjoyed the backdrop of Alaska and wonderful live jazz from the rhythm section, brass and woodwind sections of our show band. The age of the big band is coming to a close and I mourn its loss. And it is not just happening on Carnival ships but across the industry. We have a musician here who recently joined us from another cruise line where their entire fleet has gone from an eight-piece orchestra to a five-piece.

I realise times change and people of other generations are, for the very most part, more likely to want to hear some Jay Zee, Beeoncay or Justin Trousersnake as they are Glen Miller’s In the Mood or Bud Powell jazz classics. And our new show bands are designed and rehearsed to bring more popular tunes to the masses and are a massive hit with our guests for sure. But for someone who has been here as long as I have and remembers the days of the 10-piece bands playing big brassy overtures, I will miss their passionate big sound in much the same way I miss our old cigar bars. I realise then that my planning of a jazz and a cigar night is my way of hanging on to the past and, eventually, I will………..have to let go………………oh FFS…………I am singing it again………..”Let It Go………Let It Go…………Do you want to build a sodding snowman?”

Last Sunday was a very difficult day for me. It was the first Father’s Day since……well……I don’t have a Dad anymore. And the sadness I felt about that was made much worse by Kye my daughter crying her eyes out saying, “It’s not fair Dadda, all my friends have their Daddas with them for Father’s Day.” What do you say to a five-year-old who says that?  I know many of you sent me kind messages on Facebook but it is hard to think you are a good father when you hear things like this. I always battle with myself every day I am away from the family and have to remember that I am doing what I think I was born to do and am doing it to support them. Let’s face it, I am no good at anything else and unless a chain of strip clubs opens aimed at the female market who love fat ugly men gyrating on a stage dressed only in a pink and blue thong made only of peacock feathers, thrusting a huge oil-rigged sized flaccid thigh out to beg women to put dollar bills in my G-rope……. then a cruise director I shall remain. But, oh, how I miss my Dad and, oh, how I miss being a father to Kye.


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.