Bar Fight!

July 18, 2014 -

John Heald

On the last day of each cruise, I hold a Behind the Scenes Q&A. This where I give the audience the microphone and they can ask any question they want and, as senior cruise director and brand ambassador, I try and give the answers and have fun doing so. Each week I am guaranteed that four questions will always be asked and, 99% of the time, I am right. Those questions are:

  1. How much time do the crew have off/how many hours a day do they work? The maximum is 10 hours after which they must have a seven-hour rest period. Each crew member must clock in and out and these reports are regulated by Carnival and shown to the United States Coast Guard as well.
  2. What are the roughest seas you have ever had? The aftermath of Hurricane Bitch…….I mean Mitch….on Carnival Triumph. Not pleasant at all and, just behind that, was the Carnival Magic sailing in the Gulf of Leon between Spain and France.
  3. Is there a morgue and a brig on the ship? Yes and we always hope we never have to use either of them.
  4. How did you get started as a cruise director? Story coming up later in the blog.

These, along with the often asked, “How much do you earn, John?” seem to be the most commonly asked questions and, with the exception of the salary one, I always have the answers ready to go. I will, in future blogs, talk about questions 1, 2 and 3, but today I want to talk about number 4.

The reason for that is it involves violence, not something I enjoy or advocate but, honestly, last cruise, I felt like punching something or someone, actually, and it reminded me of that. The person in question was a guest who was so rude, so aghhhhhhh, I can’t even begin to put into writing some of the foul and degrading things he said about American servicemen during the Vietnam War, that I was having vivid thoughts of using my eight years of karate, which I did when I was younger and kicking him hard in the bollocks. The problem with that was twofold. Firstly, there was no way I was going to hit such a small target and, secondly, I can’t get my leg more than five inches off the ground without needing something to lean on …….and some oxygen afterwards.

Anyway, this guest reminded me of the last time I hit someone and I will talk about that after today’s Q&A.

Before I do, a word to our younger readers that Uncle John says violence is not the answer. Yep, as I sit here, in my underpants, I use the keyboard as a sword.  Fighting is not dignified or professional. I mean, you wouldn’t see our President Gerry Cahill leap over the table and do a Chuck Norris-style roundhouse kick on some reporter from CNOXBC for trashing the company he loves with such passion…..would you?

You know, in my job and, indeed, in my life as a whole, I have been made in such a way as to stay calm and carry on. I hate violence. I really do. But the other day as this twenty-something man slandered the people who had fought in Vietnam, I did wonder how it would feel to take my fist and smash it right on the end of his pierced sodding nose.

Time the for today’s Q and A… we go.

Tom Ferdinand asks:
Hello John: I have been reading that Carnival is not a gay friendly cruise line from what others have told me and from what I have read online. I am cruising with my partner, Carlos, on the Carnival Conquest August 10. I want to make sure that there are areas at night only for gays and lesbian passengers to meet that is 100% private. There are more of us than you think!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John says:
Hello Tom Ferdinand

I am sure you are looking forward to your cruise next month. I am not sure where you have read that Carnival is not a gay friendly cruise line because, quite simply, we are. Each ship has advertised nightly LGBT meetings and, although not in a private location, they are held in bars and lounges and give guests a chance to meet new friends. I have no doubts you will have a brilliant time. Best wishes to you both.


Rhonda Burnett asks:
I have been on three cruises in the last two years. I couldn’t believe it took me 50 years to discover cruising, I LOVE IT! Sadly, despite paying perfectly good money like everyone else with a balcony, I was told today that smoking will no longer be allowed on the balcony. It doesn’t make sense to me, as smoking on your own private balcony is less intrusive than smoking on a public deck. I’m just sad because I didn’t know my last cruise was going to be my last cruise.

John says:
Hello Rhonda Burnett

I am so sorry that you won’t be cruising with us again and I truly hope you will change your mind. We live in an anti-smoking world on land and sea and for the well-being of the mainly non-smoking guests and for safety reasons, too, we have joined most other major cruise lines with this restriction. I know you are frustrated and I totally understand and I will work hard to make the smoking areas we do have more comfortable. Meanwhile, I hope you will think about all the great fun you had on your cruises and that we will see you again soon. Best wishes.


Doug Collier asks:
Heald: There was a bog poll taken on Cruise Critic with hundreds of people including members of the 50,000 Club urging Carnival to stop the last night cheesy song by the wait staff in the main dining hall. The bags are packed and leaving on a cruise ship makes me cringe and hundreds of people who took part in this premium poll agreed. Dump it and take the cha cha slide with it.

John says:
Hello Doug Collier

I wish you could have sent me the link so I could see what “hundreds” of people were saying about this and, certainly, I will canvas my readers here to see what they have to say as well. I personally think it’s a nice way to say goodbye but it has been around for many years, so maybe, yes, it is time to look for a replacement. Let me pass this onto some of the beards and Ken, our maître d’ here on the Carnival Miracle, and see what they have to say. Thanks, then, for bringing this to my attention. Best wishes.


Ted Haines asks:
Heald: You say you are a smoker but you are nothing but a puppet. If you had any pull with this company, you would have stood up for our rights and done something. I am disgusted in Carnival and disgusted at you, Heald. There are voices similar to mine all being heard at Don’t say you support us because that’s just bulls*** from your fat mouth. Don’t talk, do and stop treating us smokers like people who live in a third world country.

John says:
Hello Ted Haines

I can see how angry you are and that makes me sad. I am happy to say here loud and proud that I am upset at the decision to not allow smoking on balconies. I am a cigar lover and this was my one form of solitude away from the guests, the staff and from the thousands on social media. It was my 45 minutes of peace. Cigars were my yoga. But I also understand that we are a minority and that Carnival, like most other cruise lines, had to do what was right for the well-being of the guests and for the safety of their vessels. All I can do is assure you that I will work hard to make the areas where we still allow smoking to be more comfortable. I do hope we see you soon. Best wishes.


Lynette S. asks:
John, my dear: The hubs and I decided, after a long and massively annoying bout of “weighing options,” to cruise for the second time with Carnival. We are sailing the Carnival Pride on the 20th for out 16th anniversary (six married). We kinda scored with a lucky draw of a handicapped room while booking, solidifying our decision to cruise. I know there must be others who may not need them but have them, how does Carnival choose which non-handicapped cabin to relocate? Can I just refuse until I am forced out? Trying to avoid check-in disappointment…

John says:
Hello Lynette S

If this is the July 16th you are talking about, then there is little chance of you being moved from the cabin. But, should someone who needs it and if there are no other special needs cabins available, you can indeed be asked to move as we do give priority to guests who need the facilities in these cabins. But I am sure all will be well and that you will have a wonderful time. If there is anything at all I can do for you, please do ask. Best wishes to you both.


Richard Hayes asks:
I have a comment and question. When I started to look for cruises for next year (we have a cruise booked plus other travel which cover the last half of the year), my wife and I thought about Europe or the Panama Canal but no cruises listed on your website. So is there a chance there may be some planned later? Also, just saw your new policy about smoking and am bothered by it even if I am no longer a smoker. I can understand why many are upset. BUT the main reason I may not cruise with Carnival next year will be the lack of places to go.

John says:
Hello Richard Hayes

I miss Europe too and that’s why I am hoping that we can return at some point as our guests miss it too. I will keep you informed when, and if, we return. I do hope we see you soon and if there is anything I can do, please let me know. Best wishes.


Sean and Chloe Mendip ask:
Just off the Carnival Breeze and, Matt, the cruise director, was great. He danced every dance at the deck parties and did The Wobble like no other. John, I don’t mean to be rude but this is what we want in our cruise directors, not some old lethargic man telling dated jokes. You had your day, hang up your hat and please let Matt be the cruise director who is on the new ship, meaning Carnival Vista. He deserves it and your passengers deserve to see an energetic party animal, not a cruise director who is a throwback to Julie McCoy. Just sayin’.

John says:
Hello Sean and Chloe Mendip

I am a huge fan of Matt and his energy is extraordinary as is that of many of our cruise directors and, certainly, I do not “wobble”…well, I do but not the dance version. I think Matt has a brilliant future and thanks so much for the kind words about him and let’s see what happens with Carnival Vista. Best wishes.


Steve Hecht asks:
Hi John. You may remember us from the Baltic cruise last year. My wife and I are currently on the Carnival Breeze and I wanted to pass along some observations for you to take to the beards. First off, Matt is one of your best cruise directors (behind you, of course, ha ha) but he really does a great job. The food is outstanding — better than other ships we have been on, and, being platinum, we have been on a few. The negatives: Why is this ship so warm? It seems that the A/C is not up to the task. Many public areas of the ship, the back of the Blush dining room and our cabin are warmer than usual. When we questioned this, we were told it was normal. Sorry but having been on a dozen or more ships, it is warm on this one. The beach pool is a minimum of 20 degrees hotter than any other spot on Lido. I think that is due to the fact that the windows do not open and there is no cross ventilation. With the pool being lower than the rest of the area, you are down in a hole with no air movement. I feel sorry for the bar folks that have to endure the heat. We have cruised the Alaskan waters, the north Atlantic and the Med and we have never rocked like we rock on this ship. Just my observations; just thought the beards should know.

John says:
Hello Steve Hecht

Well, thank you for the kind words and I agree that Matt is a brilliant CD and one who has a very bright future. I am so glad you are having fun (had fun) and I will make sure the ship’s managers see this. I am sorry to read that some areas are too hot, that should be adjusted so please leave this with me and let me make sure the right people see your comments and make changes. I do hope that we will see you soon and thanks again for taking the time to write. Best wishes.


Peter Huber asks:
I am a long standing Carnival customer and shareholder who, like many of the people who write on this blog, think your loyalty program is less than adequate. There should be a lounge open each night only for platinum passengers serving free drinks and exclusive only to us like the Crown & Anchor lounges on all Royal Caribbean ships. This creates a special feeling away from other non-VIP passengers. There should be rows or preferred seating for us at shows– again, a policy that other lines have in abundance. I also strongly affirm what Clara said in her post that we should have a special exit and entrance gangplank on to and off the ship so we are not forced to stand in line with non-VIPs. These additions and more will keep your VIPs loyal. If you do not, you will lose most of us and Carnival will suffer.

John says:
Hello Peter Huber

We truly appreciate our loyal guests and, while I cannot comment on what other lines offer, I think our loyalty program is a good one. We will not be adding any of the suggestions you mentioned but the program, as a whole, is being closely looked at as we speak. I will let you know of any changes as soon as I am able. Until then, I do hope we see you soon. Best wishes.


Lisa asks:
Hi John. I am an agent servicing with Carnival. I had to do many cancellations yesterday because of the new smoking policy. I totally understand it but, obviously, the guests didn’t and many
cancelled. So, in class today, someone made a suggestion we thought needed to be passed on…so you’re the lucky one to get it!! 🙂 How about a hookah bar? Maybe that would draw back the guests we lost or get some new ones. Anyway….a suggestion. Have a great day!

John says:
Hello Lisa

Thank you for all your support and I know it has been a challenging week since we announced the new smoking policy and then NCL did too, so I am sure your work has been even more so. I think there is little chance of the hookah bar ever happening but never say never, I guess. Thanks to you again and if I can ever do anything for one of your customers, our guests, please do let me know. Best wishes.


Charles Murray asks:
Hi John: Have a little problem and maybe you can help. I am a gold level cruiser and heading towards the next level. During my recent welcome back party while cruising on the Carnival Liberty, I was one of the few guest that could raise my hand when ask who in room had cruised on the Carnivale back in 1978. This was the second ship of the Carnival Lines, if I remember correctly. My problem is, I cannot get credit for this cruise since no records were kept back then. I wrote Carnival and told them it was a July of 1978 cruise out of Miami. My 18th birthday was on that cruise. I left for military activity the week after. Hard to forget. Carnival will not give me credit for the seven-day cruise. I don’t have any records of this because I went in the military the week after and have no records. I don’t think anyone would fake something like this so long ago. Being I’m a faithful Carnival customer, can’t something be done? Help. Thank you.

John says:
Hell Charles Murray

I appreciate you telling me this and I will pass this along to the right people. If you had a luggage tag, photo or anything from that cruise, this would really help. But, as I said, leave it with me and I will see if anything can be done. Thanks for writing and hope we see you soon. Best wishes.


And that’s all for today. Thanks to everyone for their questions and comments.

Time to talk about debarkation. Here, on the Carnival Miracle, I will be going to what is known as a “silent debarkation” system. This means just one announcement only from me to say we have started and then I can spend the rest of the morning sitting in my underpants writing blog and Facebook updates. Now the reason we will be doing this is because of complaints from some people who live on the side of a hill that looks right over the ship. These are apparently very well to do houses, a millionaire’s row of Seattle. I can see them from my cabin and they are big mansion-style dwellings with lawns more manicured than Kim Kardashian’s lady garden and with huge flag poles stuck in them proudly flying the Stars and Stripes….…the lawns, not Kim Kardashian. Understandably, then, these lawyers, doctors, business magnates and pillars of the Seattle society do not want their morning coffee and drizzled poached eggs on the terrace ruined by some fat Davey Jones-sounding cruise director telling guests to have a safe journey home and, occasionally, when bored, singing loudly….. “Let It Go.”

So it is time, then, to start a silent debarkation, which will please the people on the hill and, please, if I am honest, the guests as well. You know how it is, right? Everyone has a face like a bowl of curdled milk. A dark cloud hovers over everyone’s head and the gangways echo with deep sighs. It is what is called “post-cruise crash” and I have a question for you, how long does this feeling last for?  Tell me your experiences of “post cruise crash.”

So, as promised, here is the story of how I went from the bar department to the entertainment department. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let me begin. It was 1989, WHAM was singing Wake Me Up Before You Go Go and I weighed the same as my right thigh now does. My hair was as black as coal and I was a sex object, meaning I asked every lady I met for sex and they would all object. I had been promoted from wine steward to assistant bar manager, not because management thought I would be a great manager, but because my knowledge of wine was about the same as the Pope’s knowledge of Lady Ga Ga songs. So they gave me a white uniform and made me an assistant bar manager.

The ship was the Jubilee and, one night, I was sitting at the Gazebo Bar (loved that promenade on the Jubilee) with the bar manager. We shall call him Oswaldo, as that was his name, and he was a total and utter bastard. Hold on, for those of you who are saying that’s unfair and unprofessional, please stand by and you will see why I said that and said it with such ferocity. The entire bar department were scared of him and, indeed, so was I. He was as popular as a genital wart and he ruled the department through fear and intimidation.

Now you have to remember that this was 20-plus years ago and, back then, once the ropes were undone and the ship moved away from the dock, that was it, the ship was its own boss. There was no email, no ship-to-shore phones, there was bugger all and we did have one or two managers in various departments who were real dick…..tators….and Oswaldo was one of these. So there I sat on Promenade Deck with Herr Oswaldo and all that was missing to complete his tyranny was a small moustache above his nose. He was from Spain, not Germany, but the “Herr” and the moustache reference should give you an idea of how he ruled his department.

This was his thing. At 9 pm every night, he would sit with me and watch the business sipping on his vodka cranberry, as normal. So, along comes a five-foot-nothing bar waiter from Indonesia. His name was Aslim and I will never forget him. He was carrying a full tray of drinks and, for whatever reason, he suddenly dropped them and the Promenade Deck was suddenly swimming in beer, wine and slippery nipples. And he had done this right in front of Herr Oswaldo.

I rushed over to help him and I remember even guests — or passengers — as you were known back then – helped, as well. Not Oswaldo, he stood waiting for the debris to be collected and the deck to be mopped and for Aslim to replace all the drinks for the guests and then told me to bring Aslim to the bar manager’s office. I did so, reluctantly, and I could see how nervous Aslim was. Once in the bar manager’s office, I watched Oswaldo explode. He grabbed Aslim by the collar of his burgundy uniform jacket and started to shake him, screaming how he would be taking the cost spilled drinks out of his salary. He kept shaking him and shouting at him repeatedly. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I asked Oswaldo to stop shaking him. He didn’t. So I forced myself between them. He looked at me with an expression of unadulterated hatred. His lip was curled and his brow was sweating as I calmly asked him again to stop and he responded by taking his hand and shoving it hard into my face and pushed me away.

And I am not proud, to say that I reacted as my karate teacher had taught me and threw a huge elbow to his nose followed by a right knee to his bollocks. Oswaldo screamed at me in Spanish and, as he did so, he lifted both hands to his nose and fell onto his desk writhing in agony, blood pumping from his surely broken hooter. And I bet his bollocks weren’t having a good day out either.

I took Aslim by the arm and we both left the office. As we did, I knew my Carnival career was over. I had been there just three years but that was that, there was no way I was going to survive this. These days, we don’t have any managers in any department like Oswaldo but, if anything close to bullying were to happen, there are protocols in place involving the HR director, staff captain and hotel director. Back then, there was none of this and so I found the staff captain, told him what had happened and that was me, confined to my cabin.

We didn’t even have a formal security department back then and, so, to make sure I didn’t do my Bruce Lee impression on anyone else, the ship’s command had deck hand sit outside my cabin all night long. Now all of this had happened on the last night of the cruise and we were in Miami the next day, so I had packed my suitcase and was ready to be taken off the ship, which, when a crew member is terminated, he is taken under guard back to the airport and only given his or her passport once on the plane as their C1 D1 visas are null and void.

That is what I was expecting. Nobody came to talk to me that night and I remember just sitting there, waiting for the inevitable. I had no qualms about what I had done. I hate bullying, always have and always will, and so while it was the end of my career, I felt at peace with myself for having protected Aslim, who had made the simple mistake of dropping a few drinks. The ship docked. Still nothing. It was just me and my best mate, Jose, the deck hand. I wished someone would hurry up and just fire me and get this over with.

Eventually, there was a knock at the door and there stood Roger Blum, now my great friend, the then director of operations. Bloody hell, I thought, I am really in the s**t. But I wasn’t. Roger told me what I had done was wrong but after listening to what Aslim, the bar waiter, had said, the ship and the office people realised I was protecting a crew member and that I had acted in self defence. I was told I had broken Oswaldo’s nose and that his bollocks has shriveled up to the size of almonds and he had left the ship for medical treatment.

And then came the shocker. I wasn’t just not fired, I was told that, under the circumstances, it would be better if I became a social host. And so later that morning, I took my packed suitcase, moved cabins, and, to my utter joy, it had its own private bathroom so my days of peeing in the sink were over and my days of entertaining the guests and using a microphone had begun. I never saw Oswaldo again as he and Carnival came to an agreement that it was best that he go home to Spain and he never returned to Carnival. I hope he is today living in peace and happiness with a nose as bent as a dog’s back leg.

I should have been fired but thanks to Roger and the other Carnival executives of the day, I wasn’t and they gave me that chance and I hope that this now fat, grey-haired cruise director hasn’t let them down and I will be eternally be grateful for the chance they gave me. So children, remember Uncle John’s words of wisdom. If you want to succeed, find a manager and break his nose, it means guaranteed promotion.


Your friend,

Comment Policy

Look, friends — there are a few things you should remember before you comment. The space below is for you to post your comments about the post I've just written above. Now, while I may not be able to reply to your comment below, I do sit in my underpants almost every morning and read everything that is here. So feel free to comment on the comments and then if someone wants to comment on the comment to the comment then go ahead as well. Please be courteous, unless the poster is French...........then you can say whatever you want.

60 Responses to Bar Fight!

  1. Janice Robinson says:

    John. I love Carnival. Just started cruising last year after my husband died. Never did it before because I thought cruising was for the rich. Boy was I wrong. Anyway. I am a smoker but I do not cruise to smoke. I smoke when I cruise. I also follow all rules and if the rule says no smoking on balconies then I won’t. I have stood at the casino bar five deep with people trying to get to the four available stools for smokers while most of non- smoker stools were empty. I have taken my coffe and walked up to 10 or 11 deck in the rain to smoke where it was allowed and when I get there my coffee is cold. No complaints. I bought a coffee mug to keep it warmer longer. I’ve only smoked at casino machines where smoking is allowed. But please don’t say you did all this for health and safety. Cigarettes are not healthy but neither is alcoholism. Or gluttony. If you want to stop smoking on balconies. Just say its a new policy. If you want to take on the health of all your passengers, start serving only fat free meals because high cholesterol is a killer. And alcohol is a killer. And if you still say it’s for health, why not stop it altogether. Surely you know that smoking on a balcony is not as unhealthy as crowded at a casino bar. But again. I love to cruise and I will do it as long as I can without any complaints.

  2. Martha Carter says:

    I too cringe when I hear that song in the dining room, but not for the reason as Mr.Collier. Just makes me sad that we are leaving the next day.

  3. Rob Holloway says:

    Good on you John
    That young man I hope will be taken to task when his family find out what he did, I cannot believe his attitude to a country that allows him freedom of speech and a nose job with earrings. I guess he did not learn about manners and respect.
    I can remember being told I was going to work at 16 as I lived in a Boy’s Home not a Boarding School as my mother was head to tell her friends. First few days on the job and some guy said something to be about someone so I took him in the stairwell and punched him. That was my upbringing defence method. Thankfully my boss was an older wise person who knew about the home and told me not to do it again and told the victim if anyone asked he had tripped ,, words to that effect.
    I can relate to standing up for a person , very few times are we called but we know.
    Your wife must be proud of you
    Mind you I still have stories I do not share with my family … shock therapy 🙂
    I knew someone would bring up the hookah bar type request . funny
    As to the person who wants all these privileges they forget that they are part of a group who enjoy benefits from the company. Entitlement seems to be some peoples dreams above rest of us. If hey can do it then charter their own ship or buy shares in ‘The World”

  4. Joanna says:

    I do not understand the constant wining of guests who feel because of their repeat business, the deserve to be treated as better than others. Special seating,front of the line for tenders and lots and lots of free stuff.
    We cruise Royal, Disney and Carnival depending on the age of the kids, which side of the family, and where the boat is going. We pay each time just like every one else. Free laundry I get, but not putting anyone in front of others. The cruise lines are all great and some of us don’t want to see anyone treated as a lesser person. Please hang tough and don’t b
    ow to these stuck up folks.

    • DeJuan says:

      I agree 100% I am a gold member and as I love the party that carnival gives gold, diamond, and platinum. I feel that everyone should be treated equal. I understand priority boarding and a designated spot at guest relations and all the other small perks. I think thats more than enough. Keep up the great work carnival.

  5. Sandee says:

    I just finished reading about how you went from asst. bar manager to social host. I have been following your blog for months and I enjoyed this post more then any of the earlier ones I’ve read. It was interesting, informative and humorous. I was hoping you were going to put those karate lessons to good use on Oswaldo. Anyway, bravo for standing up for Aslim all those years ago. Looking forward to sailing with you one day.

  6. Mike Hawkins says:

    Wow, the people who are all in a snit because of the new smoking policy. They say they will never again cruise with Carnival but, I guess they will never again cruise, period, with a cruiseline within the USA as they all follow the same policies now.

    To the good Mr. Haines, I wonder if you have stood up to your employer, assuming you work for someone else, and demanded that you and others who smoke should be allowed to do so at your workstations. Try it yourself and let us know how that works out.

    To the good Mr. Hayes, a company that does business in an environment that does not provide a profit does not last. So, why should Carnival go to ports of call where there is no profit? I love Carnival and I wish to see the company succeed.

    To the good Mr. Huber, why would you, as a stockholder in the Carnival Corporation, wish to drink up all of your profits? If you want to throw your money away, I am certain there are many non-profits who would enjoy accepting your money. I speak as a shareholder of Carnival Corporation myself, my friend. PS, those drinks are free wine and sodas. Alcohol is discounted at 25%.

    So disheartening to see so many write derogatory messages here. Carnival Corporation is a great company and the Carnival Brand and staff are outstanding. Enjoy yourself on a Carnival cruise and do not get all up in a dander.

  7. Sharon wernery says:

    John: my husband and I both get a kick out of reading your blog. You have to have the patience of Jobe to put up with all things you handle. We are amazed at the things some people complain about. We are cruising on the Miracle Sept 2 to Alaska and are so looking to meet you. Keep up the good work.

  8. Karen Raiche says:

    I would like to respond to Rhonda who paid perfectly good money for her balcony cabin. I too have paid perfectly good money for a balcony cabin in the past and have been unable to use said balcony because of people smoking on their balconies. Due to a history of asthma I have a negative physical reaction to cigarette smoke. It’s one of the reasons you won’t find me in certain lounges, or areas of the casino on the ship. I realize that smoking is an addiction and that some people really enjoy it but unfortunately others sometimes pay the price for this. It is one of the reasons that I am hoping that Carnival will allow people to use the e-cigarettes on the balconies and in the smoking areas. I have been at events where people have used these devices and they do not effect my breathing as cigarette smoke does. It might not be the perfect solution but it might be a good compromise.

  9. Steve Hecht says:

    Where is Calvin??????? I thought you stated he would be joining you this summer???

  10. Kathy Baylis says:

    John, I have also been on the “big red boats”. Carnival, festival and MARDI gras, to get credit for those cruises I had to send copies of boarding passes(they were paper back then ) or an official ship picture with the date on it, so I have pictures but the dates are not on them. So if that gentleman has the boarding pass they will get credit ! John. The non smoking policy is on all cruise lines for balconies and now on RCI you can only smoke in casino if you are actively gambling
    I do applaud you for protecting your coworker! I feel as people call you to step down for a dancing, more energetic CD, that is not what YOUR position is for! I want to again extend an invitation for “bringing home the Pride” repositioning cruise on march 2015!

  11. Doug Collier and his ” “hundreds” of people”,

    You and your “hundreds” are so full of it. I love it when the waitstaff sings it. I even get a tear in my eye thinking that I got to leave in the morning. They make that song sound so personal that they will hate to see you go.

    I think we got a Club Of Millions that like it.

  12. John Allen says:

    John, Get on with it and write the book. I’ll be one of the first to purchase it and recommend it to all Cruisers I know.

  13. Cynthia Ravenscraft says:

    Wow John, that is one amazing story. I for one am glad you stood up for that young man and the higher ups saw your talents and compassion as an asset to Carnival because I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog and FB posts.

    As for some of your Q&A posts today I must say they one that disgusts me the most is Peter H…… Okay, you have cruised a lot and have reached a high level. Get over yourself. I am willing to bet you did not cruise countless times because you wanted free drinks or a special gangway. Give me break, you obviously cruised that much because you had fun, enjoyed the food, and had a great vacation. You certainly would not have continued cruising if you did not enjoy your trips. Having to wait in line for others that have not cruised as much as you should not be a problem. You should take that time to make friends and make them feel welcome enough that they may want to cruise multiple times. I suppose you think all of the airlines should allow you to be the first on the plane, all the cars should move out of your way on the freeway and everything you want should be handed to you on a silver platter. Just shut up and be thankful that you have enough money to go on these cruises. Life could have turned out so different so instead of being a jerk be thankful for all you have…… Besides your poop comes out the same hole as everyone else.

  14. Kathy G says:

    Hi John – I hope all is well with you and the family.
    I wanted to let you know that Ted Haines, who posted so rudely above, is not a member of the Carnival Smokers and Friends of Smokers group, unless he is not using his real name here, or in our group – which we both know is highly probable! If he is a member, and we find out who he\she is! they won’t be for long. Our group tries very hard to keep people from being rude, or disparaging others. Our mission is to formulate ideas to help you and Carnival work on better conditions for the smokers. We also strive to keep others informed regarding the smoking areas on each ship – as that also varies.

    The group was formed long before the decision by Carnival last week, and we have seen membership in the group explode. We don’t like to read all the nasty and sometimes hateful “anti-smoker” remarks on other pages, therefore we do our best to discourage nasty and hateful remarks in our group about people as well. Now the “topic” of the balcony ban – yes – we bash that topic pretty good!

    Mischelle has been an angel helping us getting our thoughts and ideas to Carnival, and to you, I hope! So far the top three are:
    1) comfortable sheltered areas outdoors with shade, windbreaks, comfy loungers, tables, chairs and ashtrays (think Dream Class Lanai – on all ships! On two decks – one where we can participate in Lido activities, and one more quiet relaxing area)
    2) allow electronic vaporizers on balconies and in cabins
    3) indoor space that is comfortable, has coffee and bar service, is open 24 hours, and has some entertainment at night (think the Cigar Bars on steroids) I know that you would enjoy this area as well, even though you too will lose the privacy you so desperately need at times.

    Thanks for listening!
    Your friend, Kathy G

  15. Ada Gallo (Port Canaveral. Embarkation Agent) says:

    Oh Bless You John, you are GREAT!
    1- Ted Haines is in need of Ann Landers book of etiquette(remember what happened to Oswaldo!)
    2- Sean & Chloe Please borrow Ann Landers book when Ted is finished with it!
    3- Peter Huber. Private VIP Lounges just for Platinum guests will just not work! Want to know why? Well many VIP’s will INSIST their “non-VIP friends” be allowed to accompany them because they brought them on and introduced them to Carnival
    I’m sure you will have to “edit” my post and I certainly understand… Just know that I UNDERSTAND JOHN, I REALLY REALLY DO LOL! And when the day comes that I cruise with you I will be sure to Wobble with you!

  16. Rob Davis says:

    Hello John,

    I have a message for the infamous smoker, Ted Haines. Get over it. Your powerful Carnival Smokers Facebook group has 391 members…not enough to demand anything.

    Smokers like you are a big problem. Cruise ship balconies are “private” only when it comes to who can see you there. They are not hermetically sealed, so that you cancerous stink is only sucked into your half dead lungs.

    I for one applaud Carnival for taking the right stand on balcony smoking. My parents were both smokers and I was forced to choke on their fumes every morning at breakfast and while in the car. There’s nothing worse than your fresh air supply being taken away from you by inconsiderate smokers.


  17. Diana Treichler says:

    LOL, I love you John, you have had a great life. You handle so many different things day in and day out, never the same and always the right way. You have the best insight of anyone I know, keep being you. Bulling is one of the worse things we have in our world and I am proud that you feel the same and stood up to “Herr” asshole so many years ago. Keep being your wonderful self, you have a very very hard job!! Enjoy life 🙂

  18. Dan Watson says:

    John, I just wanted to thank you for the Champagne, chocolate covered strawberries (love them)the cookies & most of all the Ship on a Stick trophy that you had sent to my room on the Miracle last week. I can only assume it was for posting some of my pictures on the Facebook page. It was a great surprise & a Brilliant (using your word) addition to what was a great cruise for me & my wife. I tried to thank you personally, but as I stood up to tell you thanks you raised the mic to our mouth, So I did the brave thing and sat back down. Again Thank you and I hope to sail on your ship again. PS tell Dick Little hi for me.


  19. sharon hewitt says:

    Dear John Heald, Absolutely loved this and having lived through a few management types as John described…I say Bravo to John Heald and it was an elbow and kick Oswaldo had well earned!

  20. Gary Frenson says:

    Hi John, I have just a few comments about the posts above. 1) As an ex smoker I feel bad for the smokers….BUT….Did any of them quit their job when they weren’t allowed to smoke at work.Did any of them quit going to their favorite bar when they couldn’t smoke there….etc.. 2) Less than 20% of Americans smoke so why should they dictate policy, though I do agree Carnival should make areas for smokers nicer. 3) As far a the loyalty program goes it does need some changes. We are 14 days from being Platinum and can’t wait..But please don’t do things to segregate people like RCL does. These people think they are better than everyone and that is not right.Everyone pays for their cruise so why should anyone have the best seats at the Theater or a special line to avoid the “riff raff”, we are all just people. This is one of the reasons we don’t sail RCL anymore ( besides their lido food sucks & Carnival is more fun). So I don’t know exactly how to change it but try not to have a class war. Thanks for listening, Gary

  21. Greg Babstock says:

    Right on John!!!! Wish I had the “bollocks” to do that sometimes…. Cheers!!! g.

  22. Ralph says:

    Ted Haines,
    Does your mommy know you’re writing bad stuff on the computer. You’re gonna get a whippin’ and grounded to your room…again!

  23. Stephen Clark says:

    First, I enjoy your blog. That said the smoking discussion has been interesting. My wife and I are non-smokers and always book a balcony. The occasional next door smoker is no big deal to us but I can see where it might offend others. I understand Carnival has the right to change its policy but think it might have been wise to apply it to new bookings rather than pick a specific date. Of course that would make initial enforcement difficult. On your blog I saw a suggestion that certain sides of the ships be reserved for smokers. That makes sense to me. To add to that I would suggest that certain cabins near smokers be designated non-smoking but cost less than similar balconies further from smokers. Balconies reserved for smokers could be more expensive. Given that the current situation and the new rules do not directly affect me you probably wonder why I am wasting your time with this suggestion. Very simply, we like the casino and I see it becoming an even greater haven for smokers with the new policy. The problem there is that the casinos are supposed to be non-smoking except for people who are gambling. That rule is rarely enforced on any of the ships I have been on and I am guessing it will get worse. Thanks for the blog and for listening. Steve Clark

  24. Darrell says:

    Enjoy reading your syories but must say I am always surprised at the nastiness of some people. I could never have done your job as I couldn’t be as diplomatic. The other thing that just appals me is the multiple cruise passengers not wanting to assocuate with those with less experience, as well as those who obsess over what someone else wears to the dining room. Part of the joy of cruising is meeting new people and other cultures.

  25. Teresa Cooper says:

    John, you make me laugh no matter what is going on. My hubby is in the hospital right now and I am exhausted with the lack off sleep and long hours sitting up in uncomfortable chairs. But you put a smile back on my face.
    For those VIP Platinum guests who think they are too good to use the same gang plank as the rest of us how bout one that is just a few feet short of the pier? And a special lounge with free drinks? That’s just ridiculous. If they want such status treatment perhaps they might find it on Seaborne or some other luxury cruise line. And they will pay a kings ransom for it too. You don’t get tons of freebies and fancy loyalty gifts if you want to pay budget rates.
    I love Carnival. It suits me. I like my prices low and I don’t need you to kiss my behind if I should ever be so blessed to reach Platinum status. My reward would be all those memories.

  26. ramiro says:

    My wife and my self are cruising with carnival freedom , we are wondering why is there no shows at night . Is it because of budget cuts?
    I also agreed with previous , some cruise directors just dont have the energy ,and they should ask new questions in the newlywed shows

  27. Barbara says:

    Hi. John. Wow great story and kudos to you for standing up for the bar waiter umpteen years ago.!!! Talk about good karma – leading you straight to your long illustrious, and successful career with carnival!!! Coincidentally my very first cruise was on the jubilee back in July 1989. You were probably the CD? We sailed to the eastern Caribbean. There were four of us girls booked in an outside cabin. You can imagine with all of our luggage outfits shoes hair products etc etc our cabin was quite the challenge for our cabin steward. But did we have a blast. After many many many cruises later with other cruise lines… just this spring I finally tried carnival once again for a 3 day trip to Ensenada. Amazingly my very good friend who was on the jubilee with me 25 years ago (ouch) and I were looking for something fun to do while my husband was off to vegas with the guys for march madness. And déjà on a fluke we decided to try the carnival 3 day cruise to Ensenada. To tell you the truth our expectations were not too high being the age of the ship and with the only port being Ensenada But once again 25 years later we had a blast on carnival so much so that over the 4th of July weekend I talked my husband into going back with me for another 3 day cruise on the imagination We booked a grand suite and had a most excellent time again – loved the shows and the comedy club. Seems I cannot get enough of carnival now. This next Tuesday my daughter and my 10 yr old grandson will be joining you on the miracle to Alaska !!!! In my grandson’s third grade class this year he was assigned the state of Alaska as his state for a report, an art project and an essay on a famous person from Alaska. My daughter being the great mom that she is helped him with his Alaska projects and they both became amazed with the wonders of the great state of Alaska. And finally I was able to convince my daughter to take a cruise to this beautiful most amazing place. Yeah!!! We are really looking forward to getting out of the AZ heat and some cool sailing on the miracle. Oh and so my husband won’t feel so bad since he can’t go on this Alaska cruise we booked the breeze for the Halloween Cruise to the southern Caribbean. So, doing the math, If I were able to get past credit for my 1989 jubilee cruise I would make gold by the end of our October Breeze cruise and that would be awesome!! Question .- if I were to bring some pics in next week from my 1989 jubilee cruise could you help me to get credit for that cruise? We will be in os6258 Thanks and really look forward to meeting you ….. Again….? Barbara

  28. RickWilliamson says:

    To Peter Huber, that kind of thinking is why you paid more for a cruise on RCL then Carnival. My wife and I don’t drink, so what are you going to do for us instade of the free bar? I hope to become a stock holder someday. But the fact that you are one makes me question why you would want a free bar for you just because you are Platinum as are me and my wife. The more free stuff Carnival gives away the less profits. There by the value of your stock. You can’t have both.

  29. Brian R. Fey Sr. says:

    Hello John,

    I read about your adventure with Oswaldo and was wondering about your Karatedo study; was this Shotokan and how far did you advance?


  30. The “post cruise crash” actually starts just as I’m going to bed the night before debarkation. Then it lasts all the way until I book another cruise. Then the fun starts again.

  31. Ronald Moyer says:

    For Peter Huber. My response to a similar spoiled Arse earlier in the week also applies to you!:
    My Response:I am SO Sick and Tired of people like Megan Kates and the self entitlement issues. Who gives a damn about how many cruises you’ve already been on? I bet with certainty that when you were on your first 4 or 5 cruises, you didn’t like the Platinum’s peoples’ attitudes of thinking they are so much better than you are. But now that you are “Platinum”, you are so much better than we are? That you shouldn’t have to be in the same gangway or row in the theatre as us Non-Platinum people? When did your Sh%t stop stinking? When did you become such royalty that you don’t deserve the trials and tribulations of having to be around the very people you were a part of just a few cruises ago? Take your Spoiled arses to Crystal cruiselines. Your type disgust us “Common Folks”.
    I am so sick of reading these spoiled ass jerks demands!

  32. Linda C says:


    I am tired of these groups who want a special and private spot for their “groups”. Gay? Who cares? Christian? Yes I am one – but I know how to set up a meeting with my “people”, even on a daily basis. Smokers and non-smokers? Get over it, please!

    We have always said the friendliest people we meet are on a cruise ship. They and/or we can be not so nice on land, but when the majority of us step onto a ship, we are near the point of singing kumbayah together. Helpful, smiling, friendly!

    I have never seen anyone ask for a totally heterosexual meeting place. I am tired of those who come to a place where there are people from all walks of life but want to be set apart. Just venting.

  33. Linda C says:

    Sean and Chloe Mendip just wanted 15 minutes of fame. I can assure you they are horribly flawed. Anyone who would be so insulting has a bad attitude, a black heart, and only feel better by trying to hurt others.

    John I am so sorry you are subjected to people and words like this! When ignorance and Stupidity show up they do not care who they speak through.

    I will see you and Ken on Vista!!

  34. Jennie Barchet says:

    Although I don’t approve of violence either, this guy had it coming! My hero, John!!!

  35. Leonard Vavra says:

    The “last comment on smoking” The wife and I are Platinum with Carnival[16] and 2 more booked. I do not smoke but the wife does. She is very disappointed that she can not have her cigarette on the balcony any more. We understand why Carnival was forced to do this. Can Carnival at least find some place outside on deck that will at least have a couple of tables and some chairs for the many smokers that are left. Clearly sign this area as smoking allowed so the non smokers can stay away if they are so put off by smoke. As a final note we find the song sung by the dinning room staff and crew to be a little “hokey” but we like it.

  36. Richard Hayes says:

    John; Thank you for your answer regarding trips next year. Guess the wife and I will have to wait and see what is available when we decide to cruise next year. Another question, does Carnival still have the lobster night? When we were on the Miracle for the Hawaii cruise last year, to the best of my knowledge they didn’t have one. I might be wrong but that is what I remember. We will be on the Breeze Starting 8/31 and we are both on pins and needles waiting to see the ship, we have heard so much about it and a lobster dinner will be icing on the cake. Also will be on it for my birthday (not say how old as I quit counting at 65 🙂 So as you can see cruising is for everyone.

  37. Barb says:

    John, What are the other changes to the smoking policy? The first thing I had to do when I boarded the Miracle, was find out where smoking was allowed so, I could avoid those areas. The casino was one of those areas and my friends spent a lot of time in there. I am a former smoker but, now smoke triggers severe migraines in me.

  38. Ronald Moyer says:

    My response on July to Megan Kates also pertains to you, Peter Huber! My Response:I am SO Sick and Tired of people like Megan Kates and Peter Huber and the self entitlement issues. Who gives a damn about how many cruises you’ve already been on? I bet with certainty that when you were on your first 4 or 5 cruises, you didn’t like the Platinum’s peoples’ attitudes of thinking they are so much better than you are. But now that you are “Platinum”, you are so much better than we are? That you shouldn’t have to be in the same gangway or row in the theatre as us Non-Platinum people? When did your Sh%t stop stinking? When did you become such royalty that you don’t deserve the trials and tribulations of having to be around the very people you were a part of just a few cruises ago? Take your Spoiled arses to Crystal cruiselines. Your type disgust us “Common Folks”.

  39. Ronald Moyer says:

    John, I am happy to see that you prevailed in that instance at the beginning of your career. The fact you were ready to accept the punishment that others had received shows the true character you have. So glad that justice prevailed in this matter. Makes me sad though, for the ones before you or after you who were sent home without an impartial hearing on their behalf. Who knows how many more very good people like yourself, John Heald, that Carnival lost due to bullies like Oswaldo? Glad you are here with us.

  40. Eileene says:

    John, I thoroughly enjoyed this blog, rude letters notwithstanding. We’ll sail with you next month, and I’m looking forward to experiencing you in a CD role, as opposed to the BC hosting role. Thanks for being you!

  41. Jeff says:

    John, on the comment made by Peter Huber on having a lounge just available to platinum passengers for free drinks nightly away from the non VIP passengers, like RCCL does. Its not for platinum passengers, its for their diamond and diamond plus level. I’m platinum with 1 day away from the emerald level on RCCL and platinum on Carnival. Theres a big difference on the 2 lines rewards programs.

  42. samantha brower says:

    You asked about the post cruise crash. My first cruise was last year September on the Paradise to Cozumel. I was certain beyond a shadow of a doubt I would hate cruising. Why you ask, well I dont like being “stuck”, I like to do what I want when I want and not have a schedule or a place I am stuck to. So with that in mind I went on this cruise with a group of 20 friends. I packed about 6 suitcases, because you never know what you may want to wear, it all depends on weather, event and mood dont you know lol. I made sure I did every single thing available to do on that ship, the day we got there it was tour the ship, I had to know where everything was, mind you took till the last day to learn it by heart and get around without a map. I loved every second of our trip.

    So to the post cruise crash. It hit me the day we got home. I get to the house and it’s about 11am and still in cruise mode I decided a cold beer is in order. Sit by the pool for a bit and then decided on a nap. Got up from said nap wanting a reuben, ya well there was no reuben. The next morning, there was no coffee made, my bed wasnt made and there was no breakfast ready to go. This was my realization I was no longer on the ship lol…..Now when I cruise, and I am coming up on my third one with you in december, I know going in that all that wonderful stuff will be gone when I get home so I enjoy it as much as possible when I am there.

  43. chris gill says:

    Understand that smokers are rapidly becoming a minority. And the nation is heading toward a non-smoking society, But we are not there yet.
    I am wondering why Carnival did not do this in steps. say smoking aft only and charge a fee for said balcony’s. That way non-smokers fumes don’t overwhelm the nonsmokers. Also what is being refreshed on a balcony that warrants the $150? The room I would understand but the balcony?

  44. Angie says:

    Hi John,
    I was suppose to be taking my husband on the Carnival Pride this week for his 40th birthday but our daughter injured her knee and had to have surgery so we had to postpone the cruise until August 24th. I ordered the birthday celebration package but I was wondering what else I can do for my husband on the ship especially since we will be celebrating a month late? Thanks so much for your time, Angie

  45. Norma Kelly says:

    Hello John, On the last night of our cruise, we came in late only to discover and gorgeous plate of well dressed strawberries and a bottle of champagne… with your compliments.

    I called to thank you but no one seemed to know about it or why we received the gift. I couldn’t even find out who it was that delivered to my cabin.

    In any case, I want to express my thanks to you… it was truly a lovely & delicious surprise that made us feel welcome & special.

  46. debbie reid says:

    on the miracle 10 sept in from seattle. want to know what is special about the steakhouse? better steaks? less people so more individualized service? can’t wait to meet you.

  47. Kathy Beck says:

    Hi John,

    My husband and I were on one cruise where you were there. You had us hysterical with laughter. I can’t be quite sure, but I think it was on Glory. You had a couple participate for the entire week, they were from Plant City, Florida. Never heard of it before the cruise, but it has come up quite often in the news and when we hear it, we think about our cruise.

    Thanks for making ours a great one!

  48. John Fegan says:

    John, Takes for not letting smokers control the ship. I pay good money for balcony’s and when I can’t sit out on the balcony because of the person in the next cabin is smoking, it puts a downer on buying the balcony, so we end up on the next cruise getting an inside cabin. BUMMER!!!!

  49. mike says:

    I’m going on my sixth cruise I December on valor out of san juan. I am a smoker and have a aft wrap around on 8th deck. Really the smoking policy is fine with me has long as I still have one place to go and smoke. To all those that are not cruising because of new policy, I say GET OVER IT AND MOVE ON. This will now be like airlines and prices they all will follow then what no more cruising. I highly doubt it. So come to terms with change and move on.

    Look forward to many more cruise with ccl.

  50. Courtney says:

    Good morning! My husband and I are crusing addicts. We have been married for 4 years and have cruised once a year every year. We are on our 4th cruise now, on the Carnival Victory. Back in 2010, we went to Montego Bay, Jamaica. We instantly fell in love. I wish that there was an “All Jamaician” cruise….for example it would go to Ochio Rios, Falmouth, and Montego Bay. We would sign up for that cruise TODAY. Unfortuantely, it seems like every cruise goes to Cozumel or the Bahamas. We are not big fans of either. We do like Half Moon Cay, went yesterday for the first time, but we don’t care for Nassau too much. How can we get a cruise for 5-7 days to different parts of Jamaica? Thanks for your help.

    • Courtney says:

      By the way, I am super excited about the new non-smoking policy. I used to be a smoker about 3 years ago, but quit when I found out I was pregnant with our first child. Now I cannot stand the smell of smoke. I usually get an instant headache. Way to go Carnival!

  51. Robert Clough says:

    Wow! This is the first blog of yours I had the pleasure to read. This first of many..

  52. Randall says:

    Read with interest your elevation to social staff in 1989 at the expense of a wounded bar manager. In 1991 December 15 sailing of the Ecstasy my wife and I were married. You were our cruise director. We met you at the honeymooners game where I was the only person more obnoxious than you to the distress of my family and my new in-laws. However, they became great fans of Carnival and particularly the Neon Bar. We will soon go on the Ecstasy again to celebrate. Hopefully, we will still be around and the Ecstasy as well. We have been on many cruises since and are now retired and cruise at least 6 months a year now. Last saw you on the Sunshine Trans Atlantic Crossing. Your words to me that morning were: “Bless you my son.” I admired the way you interacted with Jamie and Shorty and the way you treated your crew members. Few knew you were onboard, I know. That was Jamie’s first assignment as cruise director and she was brilliant as was Shorty. We were on that ship 44 days. The crew thought we worked there. Great cruise, great line, great crew. Your new crewmember from Croatia and her work partner saved me from a dangerous fall outside the casino where the floor was wet. They didn’t have to try to save me, but they did it and I am still grateful. They also could have been injured but they risked their own safety to help a passenger who they did not know. I am 2 meters tall (six feet six inches) I think they were both about 5 feet tall and less than 100lbs. I think of that often fondly and hope to meet them again on a Carnival Cruise so I can once again reward them properly as we did then. You have done a good job over the years, Mr. Heald. Please know, we noticed. Randy and Karen Anson

  53. John Fegan says:

    We are going on a cruise to Barbatus and we want to know if we have to get our Yellow Fever shot? We received a letter giving notice about it, but it was very vague if we need the shot or not

    We are from Texas and have been to Cuba and Peru in the pat year.

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