June 27, 2014 -

John Heald

This past week, a gentleman posted on Facebook that, because the captain had decided that the winds were too strong for Carnival Liberty to safely dock in Roatan, it was……….drum roll please …………….”the cruise from hell.” Now while I have sympathy for anyone who misses a port, is it really the “cruise from hell?” ……..The worst vacation of their lives? Has this family never had massive arguments because no one remembered to pack the toothbrushes? Have their children not gotten car sick and vomited all over the rental car? Have the kids never fallen over while riding their bikes and spent two weeks screaming as Mum picks gravel out of their knees? Did they all remember their passports? Are none of the children so embarrassed by their parents’ summer outfits as their Dad wears the briefest of Speedos on the beach? Is the air-conditioning working perfectly in every car they have rented and every hotel bedroom they have stayed in? Did nobody get lazy about the sun cream because it was a bit cloudy and then blister like purple bubble wrap? Has Dad never drunk a few too many and spent rather too long talking to the lady on Lido in the G string and with breasts the size of beach balls? Has a camera has been lost? Or an eyephone dropped in a hot tub or maybe Mum and Dad want some rumpy pumpy in the tiny hotel room just for once………you little bastards ………….. it isn’t too much to ask. Can’t you just go and play on your own for a bit like other children? 

I heard the “cruise from hell” sentence last cruise from two guests who wanted monetary compensation for the fog horn disturbing them. Yep, it was, for them, “the cruise from hell.” But no, it wasn’t. The toilets flushed, the air conditioning worked, the service was in full flow, the fun was never ending, the food was fantastic and the Alaskan scenery breathtaking. It is when you speak to people like this that you realise that, just as having your nipple pierced isn’t for everyone……occasionally, you are going to meet someone who doesn’t have a great time no matter what you do. But the worst vacation ever? The cruise from hell? Nope. Sorry. That’s simply bollocks.

Time for today’s Q and A. Let’s crack on.

Brenda Carothers asks:
Just thought you should know that on the Cruise Critic boards your “fans” are “brilliantly” referred to as KANS. ROFLMAO!

John says:
Hello Brenda Carothers

It’s when they stop talking about me on Cruise Critic that I shall start to worry. Best wishes.


Rich Quinely asks:
Good Morning, John: I have a question that I am hoping you can shed some light on. I will be sailing on the Splendor for the second time on Aug 4. I would like to bring along my grandmother who is 85 and is suffering from mild Alzheimer’s disease. She has never been on a cruise but always wanted to. I’m a bit concerned about her getting lost though and I was wondering if you have ever dealt with a situation like this? Does Carnival have any options available to assist with people with memory problems? The other thing I am concerned about is waiting in the long lines at the pier. Is there another place where elderly people who can’t stand long can check in?

John says:
Hello Rich Quinely

Thank you for writing and I am glad that you have asked me. I can tell you that we have various protocols in place should our staff see a guest they may think needs help or is in distress. Obviously, you know your grandmother’s limitations but, rest assured, we are here will do all we can for her to make her comfortable and happy. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.


Stephen Crews asks:
John: My wife and I are taking our third cruise in October on Carnival Elation when I return from Afghanistan and are curious if she is going to be receiving any of the Fun Ship 2.0 additions while she is in dry dock in September?  Thank you.

Stephen Crews

John says:
Hello Stephen Crews

Thank you for your service and please stay safe and well. I am not aware of any upgrades to Carnival Elation but, when and if I do, will surely post them here for you. Thanks, Stephen, and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.


Mark Eckstein asks:
If Carnival is concerned so much, how come they don’t respond to bad experiences? Last cruise, our third, we found dirty clothes in our room, and when we left after our cruise we discovered that one of our new suitcases had a large rip in the bottom that was not there earlier. We filled out a comment card that was sent to our email and never heard nothing back from Carnival.  We are thinking about taking another cruise this fall, but now not sure with who yet.

John says:
Hello Mark Eckstein

We truly do care and I would ask that you send me your report, sailing date and concerns along with your booking number to cclsupport@carnival.com so that myself and my colleagues can help you. I hope we will see you again and I apologise for the concerns you have had. Please write soon. Best wishes.


Bryce Kautz asks:
I had heard that Carnival employees will pamper you but that was not the case on the Carnival Pride. We are just off the Pride and asked at dinner to our waiter, Sunny, for plates of fries with melted cheese and chili. He told us “NO” and walked away. This upset us so we complained and wrote a letter to the captain and it was not until three days before the end of the cruise that we got what we wanted. We also had to beg for ice in the cabins. PUT ICE BUCKETS IN THERE like basic motels do. This was not the service we expected.

John says:
Hello Bryce Kautz

I do hope that, apart from these two concerns, you had a wonderful time. Let me mention the ice first. We used to put ice in the cabins but so much went unused, that it became an immense waste of water. Now we just put ice in the cabins upon request and all you have to do is ask and the stateroom steward will comply without question. We also try and help with special food orders although they are not always possible. You can imagine if we took special orders from 2,000 guests, the galley simply could not cope. I am glad that we could help you eventually and I am sure you appreciated that they did. I do also hope you had fun and that we see you soon.  Best wishes.


Sally N Inglis asks:
John: I started reading your blog mainly because of your last name. That is my birth name.  I was born Deanna Dale Heald, in Augusta, Maine. I was since adopted, grew up in New Orleans, married in Edinburgh, Scotland; and now live in San Diego. In doing my genealogy, I don’t get back to England until 1568 with a Thomas Heald (if this info is accurate.)  For sure, I’ve proven direct lineage to Joseph Heald in 1806 in Maine.  Six generations proven, seven to go, perhaps 8.  Anyway, love your blog.  Going on Carnival Inspiration in September for the Styx concert.  Looking forward to it.

John says:
Hello Sally Inglis

It is an honour to meet a true Heald and I am sure that, as we follow our lines back, we may have a connection somewhere and from some period of past times. Please send me your cabin number on my facebook.com/johnheald page the day before you sail and enjoy the band and the ship. Best wishes from your long lost cousin.


Gary Warner asks:
John: Disconnections over on your favorite Cruise Critic site posted your email address as _____ I have sent three emails to you about our meet and greet but you have not responded to date which is very disappointing. I am now trying this forum which I hope I have better success with. Our Roll Call for Carnival Magic’s cruise staring from Galveston on July 20, 2015, now has 50 guaranteed people coming. We need a place to meet on the 21st which is the sea day and the time should be 2pm. Our preferred location is the piano bar!!! Can you also have a bar server there for us to buy drinks? I know that Carnival supplies door prizes, so will this be for each person attending because it may go to 60, so please have that as the count of prizes to be supplied. We have three platinum cruises plus me in the roll call!! Thank you!!!!!!

John says:
Hello Gary Warner

I should point out that Disconnections should, when posting my email address, note that most emails not recognised through Carnival’s filter system go to our spam box and that I do not have time to reply to those emails, as well as write blogs and spend the time that I do on Facebook. Maybe you would pass that on. But I am glad to see that you have such a good group of new friends ready to have fun. I will make sure a place is reserved and listed in the Fun Times so you all know where to go. I will also ask for bar service using your own individual Sail & Sign cards and I will provide two trophies and two bottles of champagne as prizes. I wish you all a great time and please do contact me here or on Facebook if you need anything. Best wishes.


April Mellers asks:
John: There are disturbing reports on Cruise Critic today that Carnival has started allowing 20- year-olds to be in Club 02. This is what the OP says is FACT: “I asked where on the ship she met him and she explained that he was in the Club O2 every day hanging out with them. He told them he didn’t like people his own age so he’d go hang out with them.” According to the post, there was another guy the same age hanging out part time in there with them? The scary thing is he is supposedly dating another 15-year-old he met on the cruise and making plans with her to go see her. My daughter decided to tell me about it when she found out the other girl she met and talks to daily is dating him and planning on meeting up with him as soon as she can. It’s very scary to think about. I just wanted to let everyone know our experience so you’re not as trusting of Club O2 club. I should have been more aware of the ages of the kids my daughter was hanging out with. I’m not sure what Carnival’s policy is on age limits or how they enforce it but it was not enforced on our cruise.” If this is correct then I have serious concerns and I bet I am not the only one!! What do you have to say for yourself on this!!

John says:
Hello April Mellers

Thank you for bringing this to my attention.  Your post contains no specifics on the ship or the name of the guest who allegedly had this concern, but I can assure you that Carnival has very strict policies regarding who can participate in our youth programs and we would simply not allow this to happen. Anyone participating in our youth programs has their dates of birth checked from our guest manifest and other official listings. We do not allow anyone outside of the designated age brackets to participate in our youth programs when our supervised activities are being run — it is that simple. If a 20-year-old was trying to participate in Club O2, he would have been asked to leave immediately by the Club O2 director.  Further, since all kids who are registered in the program by their parents are the only ones who are allowed into program, we place a special sticker on the kids’ Sail & Sign cards so it makes the process easier to identify who is allowed into the teen venues and who are not (we have different stickers for each of the teen programs).  Carnival is the top-rated cruise line for families for a reason and safety is our number one concern, particularly as children are concerned.  Please feel free to write to me with any other questions or concerns. Best wishes.


Heather Smith asks:
We sailed on Carnival Sunshine on May 10-17. It was our first cruise, and we loved it.  We are already looking forward to booking our next cruise.  The only negative comment I have is that

when we went to the Epic Rock show on Friday night, it was incredibly loud – so much so that we left after 30 minutes.  Maybe we are the only ones who felt that way, but could you mention it to the appropriate people?  It promised to be a good show and we would’ve really enjoyed ourselves and stayed for the duration had the volume been at a reasonable level.  Thanks!

John says:
Hello Heather Smith

I am sorry you left as it’s a great show. I will certainly pass this very important post from you on to those who need to know because we need to monitor volumes very carefully and I am sorry that you found it so uncomfortable. Thanks, Heather, I do hope you had fun and hope we see you soon. Best wishes.


Thomas Nurman asks:
John. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for the wonderful care you gave my father on the Carnival Miracle. I know you have lost your father in past weeks and the fact that you sat and listened to his stories and laughed at his jokes made his 80th birthday so special. The gifts you sent to him were enjoyed by us all but the highlight was when you personally had the audience applaud and thank him for his 34 years in the United States Marine Corps serving God and Country. You should be proud, John, and we love you for what you did.

John says:
Hello Thomas Nurman

It was a true honour and a privilege to meet your father and help celebrate his birthday. I think you saw from the audience reaction just how much they appreciated and applauded his service. I hope you all have many wonderful memories of the cruise and that we will see you all again very soon. Best wishes to you all.


Anne Nikanovich asks:
John, why does Carnival not have a more extensive program for interns working on your ships? Ridiculous that this huge company offers nothing to graduates like me. How idiotic!!

John says:
Hello Anne Nikanovich

Good question. The simple answer is that space is limited for crew and every bed we have is filled by crew who are here for a full contract. Plus there really is not any position on the ship that warrants an intern program, I am afraid. Please do check cclcarrers.com and see if there is anything shoreside that you may be interested in and I am here if you have any questions. Best wishes.


Denise Greenberg asks:
Will Carnival have a dry dock and upgrades for the Carnival Fascination!! Please respond!!!

John says:
Hello Denise Greenberg

We’re just finalizing the dry dock schedule for 2015, so I will let you know once I hear anything. Stay tuned and best wishes.


Todd Belue asks:
On Cruise Critic there is a disturbing review of the Carnival Liberty’s steakhouse and how the steak was incorrectly prepared and that the service was abysmal. I sent this to Carnival management and they have not responded to my email. We have a roll call of 22 experienced cruisers some of who have booked the steakhouse. We are now very worried if the chef cannot even cook a piece of rib eye steak correctly. Why has Carnival not addressed this? Cruise Critic has millions of members. It is the number one cruise site in the world with thousands of people reading every report, every review, yet Carnival does not even respond despite knowing this. Cruise Critic readers are saying that the flat iron steak in the main dining hall is better than the meat at the steakhouse Do you want my money at the steakhouse or not? We sail in October!!!!

John says:
Hello Todd Belue

Thank you for writing and I am very sorry that the people who had the problems mentioned here had such a negative experience and if I knew their real names or had their information I would write to them and say just that and see what else we could do. Each and every week we have thousands of people who enjoy the most wonderful meal with amazing service at the steakhouse and I am sure you will too. I wish you the best of times on the ship and have my favourite, the cowboy steak.


That’s all for today.  Let’s talk steak shall we.

The comment about the flat iron steak (as good as they are) being better than the steaks we serve at the steakhouse is, respectfully, utter nonsense.  There are people though who will always tell you that they have had better meat. These professors of steak are always just back from New York or Argentina or Miami Beach’s Prime 112 ready to lecture you about cows that were massaged by Latvian women in stocking’s and suspenders. They tell you (the steak experts, not the cows) about the cut, the taste and that Kobe beef is the best and……and, oh, shut up ……..You went to a restaurant and ordered steak. The end.

For years I would never order a steak in a restaurant because…….well, it was a steak, a steak that, if I wanted Heidi would cook me at home. But then I discovered the Carnival steakhouse and I discovered that it wasn’t just a fact of throwing a piece of a cow on a hot grill and adding a dollop of ketchup next to it…….nope, it was much more. It’s the saltiness, that deep, juicy redness revealed when the cut halves of the meat are peeled open and shoved apart; that moment when you pause the fork in front of your nose to breathe in the amount of fine beef just before it enters the mouth. Coupled with the fact that there are amazing appetizers, salads and desserts and that the price is only $35, makes a meal in our steakhouses simply unforgettable.  I now consider the steakhouse to be a fantastic place to eat and the one here on the Carnival Miracle to be as good as any I have ever eaten in. Oh, I do have to admit that the chef hates me because I ask for my steak well done…….very well done.

Just last week, someone posted a copy of the Carnival Sensation’s Carnival Capers………yes Capers not Fun Times…….on my facebook.com/johnheald page. Inside, it showed we were offering trapshooting which involved the possibility of giving a 12-gauge shot gun to someone who had drunk the equivalent of three Cheers programs, pillow fighting where couples and strangers would beat the living crap out of each other with a 20-year-old pillow that was as fluffy as my inner thigh while sitting six feet off the ground on a slippery pole. And should they fall off, they landed on a mat that was so thread bear and thin it was basically a towel. All of this along with the beer drinking contest, the lovely legs contest, the belly flop contest have gone thanks to new world order, men in high visibility jackets armed with clipboards and, of course….global warming.

Back then, our advertisements featured people with perfect teeth and perfect breasts as the song “If you could see me now” played in the background. But times have changed and today’s commercials need to be short, sharp, hip and cool and that is, I think, what Jim Berra, our marketing genius, brought with the last few commercials. The water slide ad that played during the winter Olympics was a huge success as was the Moments That Matter campaign that featured all the great photos from you, our guests.

Nowadays, many ads tend to be ironic and funny just on their own but on the other hand there these days, it seems, anyone will endorse anything if the price is right. I would be a represent a company in an ad – but I have my limit as I like to think I still have principles. Let me explain. If Gerry Cahill, our president, personally asked me to host a charter of the National Association of Incontinent Farmers or for phase two of Carnival Live, I was asked to play the part of the “bitch” in a Jay Z video then I would say, “Yes, boss,” of course. Whereas, if our president asked me to host a charter for a certain herbal tea company, I would say, “No, sorry, you’ll have to find someone else.” Sorry, I draw the line and spending seven days with people chasing my fat arse around Lido Deck screaming “I lost 30 pounds big fella, ask me how.”  I know how — your teas give you constant explosive diarrhea so of course you lose weight, FFS!

But, I wonder……….there are many celebrities who, when offered a bucket load of cash, asks the question “Where do I park my wheelbarrow” followed by “Will it buy me a vacation villa next to Kim sodding Kardasian?” In the UK we have Samuel L. Jackson, Ewan McGregor, Angelina Jolie, Hugh Laurie, Dame Judy Dench, Dame Helen Mirren and Dame David Beckham, all of whom are people who have surprised me by lending themselves to the ad man or woman. I mean, Brad Pitt is selling Levi’s for God’s sake. Do people buy Levi’s because Brad wears them?……..the fact that he probably wears Versace or some other Italian designer jeans is probably missed on most people.

So, no I don’t think a celebrity is needed to advertise Carnival Cruise Lines like we did back in the “If You Could See Me Now” days but if we did ever go that way again…….who would you like to see as the star of the commercials?….It would be interesting to read who you think is right for the role……. hhmmmm…..Megan Fox’s bottom on Lido Deck …….now that would make be buy a cruise.

But hold on, how about we relive the good old days. Yes, Jim and the beards, I have the answer for our new commercial which I’m sure would be a smashing success. Let’s dust off that old song and have me hurtling down the water slide singing “If you could see me now” while eating a Guy’s Burger in a pair of speedos. I could even be singing my own version of the song, staring down over my immense stomach at my gentleman’s sausage singing, “If I could see it now.”


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.