July 22, 2014 -

John Heald

My regular cabin steward and friend, Ketut, is currently on vacation but in reality he is in rehab for spending the last three months having to wash my underpants……….by hand. His replacement is Ariel from the Philippines. He really is a wonderful guy, full of life and always sings when he is cleaning my cabin. A few days ago, I noticed he wasn’t singing. I asked him why?  Life on a ship can be lonely, very lonely and sometimes the crew tends to keep their troubles to themselves or is too busy in their work to find time to talk about what’s on their mind. They are encouraged to always to talk to someone whether it is their department head or someone from our human resources department but the fact is many do not………It’s hard to explain why….it’s just ship life.

But I realised that the always singing, always happy Ariel was not himself and I asked what was wrong? The answer, a bastard called Rammasun or Typhoon Rammasun to be exact. This huge mega storm passed to the south of Manila with winds at an unbelievable 200 mph. And while his family were uninjured, his home, the home he shared with his sister and mother and his two-year-old son, was totally destroyed from the foundations up, completely devastated. It was a home that Ariel had help pay to build with his hard work for five years on Costa Cruises before joining Carnival a few months ago. His son was injured, not seriously but enough to have him in a hospital for a couple of days, a couple of days he had spent cleaning the senior officers cabin and making sure I had my 20 bananas a day.

Had Ariel mentioned this to someone, we would have arranged a flight home but, he knew that what he needed to do was to keep working, to keep sending money home, to start again, to help his family who needed the dollars now more than ever…….I have helped him with some extra money because he truly is a wonderful person. Uncle Google tells me that 200,000 homes in Manila were destroyed or badly damaged, so that has me thinking. I wonder how many other of our Filipino crew received similar news from home after the typhoon struck? How many more are cleaning, serving, cooking, entertaining, photographing guests and being the brilliant crew you all know they are? Most won’t say anything, it will be head down, do the work, smile in guest areas and get that salary and those gratuities home as quickly as possible despite inside, hurting like hell. Why don’t they say anything?…….It’s hard to explain……………you have to work on board……….it’s just ship life.

More on that subject after today’s Q and A, which we start right now.

Lenore Oram asks:
I will be bringing my elderly parents on Carnival Ecstasy. We have cabins R90 and R96. I told your customer service folks that I needed one key that would open both cabin doors so that I can look after my parents but was told no. Why is this? We just stayed last week at the Courtyard by Marriott in Merrillville, IN, and they were happy to do this for me, so why not Carnival? Very disappointed. This has ruined my cruise with you before it has started!

John says:
Hello Lenore Oram

I am glad to see that you and your parents will be sailing with us and I am sure you will have a wonderful time. I am afraid we cannot do this because each door has a different electronic signature and only one can be stored on each key card which is also your Sail & Sign card. Maybe you can just take your mother or father’s card and keep it with you. Please don’t worry and just get ready for lots of fun. Best wishes to you all.


Laurie Ryan asks:
Hello: My husband and I are platinum cruisers. We are booked for March 15 on Carnival Conquest of Ft. Lauderdale. We always have a balcony because my husband is a smoker. Given the new policy regarding smoking and not being able to smoke on your balcony, would it be possible to get the outside areas/decks where smoking is allowed. We are looking at switching our room around and get closer to a smoking area which is more convenient for my husband. I did send you and email yesterday but wasn’t sure if I had put my email address in. Thanks.

John says:
Hello Laurie Ryan

I am sure when you booked the cabin it was not just to enjoy smoking from the balcony because there are so many wonderful things to see and experience from it and moments to enjoy together. Carnival Conquest has an outdoor smoking area on deck 10. I hope you keep the cabin and enjoy a wonderful cruise. Please let me know if you need anything. Best wishes.


Sherri Gladbach asks:
A poster by the name of ________posted on Cruise Critic the email addresses for all the cruise directors who work for Carnival. ______ said to take the first two letters of the ship name and add CD at the end. I have been emailing the cruise director on the Carnival Victory over and over but no response. I need help with our meet and greet for 7/31 but no help has been offered because he has not replied. Is this the right email code and why, if it is, has he not replied? We have 35 in our roll call and need the piano bar at 3pm after the sail away from Key West – nibbles, etc. Please respond as a matter of some urgency

John says:
Hello Sherri Gladbach

I am glad you have written to me here because, while these email addresses have been published, they do often go to our spam folder called Postini and also the cruise directors are very busy and do not have time or are they expected to converse with guests by email. I, on the other hand, will be happy to assist with a lounge. I will ask the ship if the piano bar is free and if not they will reserve you another lounge. We cannot provide snacks but I will be happy to send you some raffle prizes. I wish you a brilliant time together and please write to me here or on www.facebook.com/johnheald if you need anything else

Mitchell asks:
Hello John Head: We have heard something about a new smoking policy that is supposed to
start Oct 9, 2014 that no longer smoking on the balcony is allowed. What if I’m already booked and my cruise is Oct 5, 2014, does that mean I can’t smoke on my balcony after Oct 9, 2014, or am I grandfathered into the old policy? Thank you for your rapid response.

John says:
Hello Mitchell

That is correct. The new smoking policy starts on the October 9 so it will be OK for you to smoke on your balcony during your cruise as the new rule will not go into effect until the start of the following cruise. Please let me know if you need anything and have a great time. Best wishes. John

Denise Milazzo asks:
Would like to know if Wee Jimmy, the cruise director, will be on the August 3 sailing of the Carnival Sensation next month? We love him

John says:
Hello Denise Milazzo

That’s so good to know as Wee Jimmy is a great friend and I am very proud of the work he does. Unfortunately, he will be on vacation in August and the CD will be Kevin Donahue who I am sure you will enjoy very much. Please let me know if you have any other questions and I wish you a brilliant time. Best wishes.


Amy Corder asks:
I just read your FB question about recognizing those who have served. On our last few cruises, the CD has recognized military, emergency services (police, fire, and EMS), and teachers. As these are important careers that serve each and every one of us, one of the biggest careers that serve us is not mentioned. Truck drivers bring us almost everything that we use. If one watches the ship as it’s being loaded, dozens of semi-trucks are delivering foods/etc. for the cruise. If it weren’t for these drivers who are away from their family for sometimes weeks on end for the duration of their entire career (20-30+ years), we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the foods and services on our cruise ships. I just wanted to bring this to your and everyone’s attention. I am in one of the professions that get recognized and, as a Pre-K teacher, we rarely get that recognition due to people thinking we are “glorified babysitters.” Thank you for your time! (Oh, and a side note, the July 29 cruise on the Carnival Miracle, one of the radio DJ’s, that helped inform everyone about what was happening during the Joplin tornado of 2011, will be vacationing with a group of family and friends, Chad Elliot Carroz.

John says:
Hello Amy Corder

Thanks for writing and, you’re right, of course, truck drivers supply us all with things that we often take for granted so please let me say here and now a huge thank you to all the hard work that our truck drivers do to keep the country moving. And thank you too for your wonderful work and giving the children in your care a superb start in life. I will look out for Mr. Carroz and I am sure he will have a brilliant time. Thanks again for writing and I hope to see you soon. Best wishes.


Roger Seitz asks:
Was told that the bathrobes in the cabins are not washed or replaced each time but that the cabin boys just hang them back in the closet. True or false ???????????????

John says:
Hello Roger Seitz

I wonder which work of fiction told you this because it is not true in any way. The stateroom stewards replace them with freshly laundered ones every embarkation day. Please let me know if you have any other questions and I will be here to help you answer them. Best wishes.

Laurie asks:
Hi John, hoping you can answer a question for me. We will be sailing on the Carnival Sunshine Aug 9, 2014. This will be the first cruise where we will have some of our children and grandchildren with us and we want them to experience everything. We want to book the steakhouse but need to know what nights are the formal nights on the Carnival Sunshine. Hope you can help me with this. Thank you for your time.

John says:
Hello Laurie

I can tell you are excited about your family cruise on the beautiful Carnival Sunshine. The elegant night is on the 10th and that is the only one on this cruise. Please let me know if there is anything I can help you with and I wish you

Angie Morgan asks:
John: We recently booked Carnival Valor for Sept. 2015 out of San Juan and we are really looking toward to our 10th cruise! I have seen vague reference to the fact that Carnival Valor is scheduled to get the 2.0 upgrades soon. Can you confirm or not on whether it will go to dry-dock before our cruise? It would be nice if we knew and what specifically was changing. Thanks in advance! Hope you are having fun on your new gig in Alaska!

John says:
Hello Angie Morgan

Thanks for writing and, at this time, I’m not aware of any plans for the Carnival Valor to have a dry dock this coming year. As soon as I know any plans to give her the 2.0 upgrades, I will let you know. Until then I hope you will let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.


Linda Vickers asks:
Great news on the new smoking ban. The mongrels can all whine and moan while the rest of us rejoice that their selfishness is at last being punished. Smoking kills – that is a fact.

John says:
Hello Linda Vickers

Certainly, there has been mixed reaction to the news and we will continue to do our best as a cruise line to find a comfortable place for our valued guests who smoke to do so away from those who do not. Thanks for expressing your opinion here and I hope that we see you very soon

Best wishes.


And that’s all for today. Please keep the comments coming. As we start another Alaskan adventure, let’s see who is sailing with us.

Total Guests                            2,602 – very busy
USA                                        2,332
Canada                                                48
French Canada                        9
UK                                          22
Australia                                  10
India                                        18
Guests 2-5                               43
6-8                                           55
9-11                                         85
12-14                                       133
15 – 17                                    134
18 – 20                                    97
Age 90 plus                             2
Diamond Guests                     3
Platinum Guests                      81
Most represented state                        California
Most popular last names         Johnson – 17, Smith 16 and Chang 14.

I want to write more about “ship life” if that’s OK and continue with something that could be the last bastion in today’s modern workplace and that’s teasing, banter and well……..making fun and having fun. But even here on the ships it continues in its most diluted form.

You see, back then, it was a massively male-dominated industry, especially onboard. There were no female crew members in the dining rooms, no female bar staff and no female housekeeping personal either. It was the dancers, the spa and a few casino and pursers who were female. And as you could imagine the “banter” was of a much stronger variety and, obviously, not appropriate in today’s world, that’s for sure. Common sayings back then would get you a one-way trip down the gangway today. Some female crew gave it as good as they got and we all got on with the job feeling neither harassed nor discriminated against. But that’s because it was almost never meant seriously or nastily. It was “ship life.” These days the banter still exists and certainly the racier references have long gone. True sexism, true harassment is disgusting and should get the kick in the bollocks it deserves. But it would be a shame if we got rid completely of the banter that has spiced up ship life – and office life, for that matter – for decades. Because for many of us, that would make life on board……..very dull indeed.

You will hear the term “ship life,” every day, over and over again. It covers a big dollop of subjects. One of those is loneliness and the results that this brings, the crew are away from their families and their loved ones and, while it’s not something that I condone or accept as an excuse it is fact that “ship life” brings people together in relationships who may be would never come about if they worked together on land. Some keep it secret or as secret as they can but the gossip drums beat very loudly on a ship. And it’s not like they need to tell anyone who they are dating because it’s as obvious as posting five photos of naked bottoms on this blog, four being Megan Fox’s and one being mine and asking you to pick the one does not belong to the screen goddess.

They might as well skip down Promenade Deck naked holding signs that say, “We are together, hey, that’s ship life.” They’ll think no one notices that in a darkened corner of the crew lounge after work they accidentally always manage to sit next to each other, legs touching under the table. But behind their backs other crew members are pretending to vomit, grinning at each other because ………… they know.

Just like office romances, on cruise ships there are many similarities to those on land. When a lady starts wearing short skirts with one of those push up bra thingies to work when before she wore long black pants and a blouse buttoned all the way to the top…….she’s definitely getting some post-work rumpy pumpy. A man will wear new cologne and if he is Italian he will walk down promenade like a peacock thinking to himself………… “I am the man!”

And, then suddenly, just as the relationship started it will end. One crew member will go on vacation or transfer to another ship and there are goodbyes and then the cycle starts over again because yep, you guessed it, that’s “ship life.”

Don’t get me wrong. There are many relationships between the crew that are meaningful and full of love and many end in marriage. There are countless stories of people from all corners of the world marrying but there are others that founded on loneliness to a certain degree and the need to have someone to spend time with. Relationships happen with “ship life” in rapid time because there is no break, no “I will call you and maybe we can get together next week” because you work, play eat and yes sleep in the same places seven days a week for months at a time. Breakups happen as quickly on ships as relationships do.  People date for a time and then break up and the worst part is that you have to continue to live and work with these people no matter what because that is also part of “ship life.”

And yes there are times where the loneliness manifests itself in a ways that I simply can’t condone. Some crew members sail with their significant other and I absolutely hate having to pretend that I don’t know what is going on when I really do. And I should say that there are many who, like me, agree and are faithful and would not do this but there are some who do, it’s just a fact. And, of course, even if I wanted to have some rumpy pumpy on the side that would not be possible considering I have a face like a bag of smashed oysters and despite my diet I still have a small planet under my shirt. Oh, and the most important reason, I love my wife, unconditionally.

And the two words of the day “ship life” also come to mind when world events happen. You are so cocooned in the everyday hectic life that never allows you to close the office door and bugger off home that you feel so detached from the outside world. Take the situation in Ukraine and the tragic shooting down of the Malaysian plane. As I mentioned on Facebook the other day we have lots of crew from that area and I always make a point of talking to any of the ship’s crew when I see their nametag and it shows they are from somewhere the world is talking about. One such person who works in the dining room here on the Carnival Miracle. He comes from one of the areas where the most intense fighting has been happening and his town is just 20 minutes from where the plane fell to Earth killing everyone on board. I asked him how he felt about this and he seemed glad to talk about it. I asked him if he and his fellow shipmates from his country had discussed this but he told me they had not because some have different views, strong views and, yet, “ship life” does not let that interfere with their work. They get on with the job of serving you our guests and as he says, “I will talk about it when I get home to my family.” He believes that vodka, yes, vodka, is to blame for what happened by the way. He told me that drinking vodka is the pastime for some and that it was, in his opinion, it was a vodka-fueled decision to send a single missile …………just to see what would happen. There are always conspiracy theories when anything happens in the world and I was absolutely flabbergasted when he said this and have to admit I have a hard time believing this. He nodded, turned and, after making such a statement he went to the laundry to collect his uniform to wear to serve dinner that night and that is a pure example of “ship life.”

It’s a good life. It’s a very good life. It’s a life that provides families with an excellent standard of living, one that these men and women could not provide, maybe if they worked in their home countries. They do such a great job, don’t they?  But tonight, I think it is important to remember something. When you are watching Wolf Blister and his mates reporting on the latest disaster or world event that even though you may not be able to point to where it is happening on a map that most likely amongst the united nations you find on the Carnival ships there is a crew member who served and entertained you on your last cruise. And he or she will still be serving and still entertaining and still working so hard top exceed our guests’ expectations and will do so with a massive smile on their face. But behind that smile, there is worry and there is hurt. But they won’t let that worry and hurt show though because………. hey, that’s “ship life.”


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.

69 Responses to ‘SHIP LIFE’

  1. Lynie Weeks says:

    John I have a bag of arcade tokens my son was saving from our last Cruise,well ive recently found out the arcade doesn’t take tokens any longer and only uses s&s card is there anything I can do with a bag of tokens or am I just out of luck. Thank u.lynie weeks.

    • Phil DiComo says:

      My daughter brought all her old tokens aboard the Liberty this summer but we were told, sorry, can’t exchange them. Maybe your son will have better luck than my daughter!

  2. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:


    I can not imagine being so far away from the ones you love when such tragedy is going on.

    We have always truly appreciated the staff and crew and show them the upmost respect for the job that they do.

    We also add some cash with that respect to thank them for a job well done.

    Linda (Mom of your friend DJ)

  3. Eugene Conrad says:

    I don’t know how to start this. I am a smoker. I am really upset by the Vitriolic HATE spewing out of the nonsmokers in their gloating over the new smoking policy. We hear about polls and surveys but I’ve been on 12 cruises since 2009 and have never received any kind of smoking survey. Even tho it is apparently too late to count would it be possible to get one? Sad to say I have canceled 3 out of 7 cruises booked thru next year and I am starting to look at other land based vacation options and while I will do the occasional cruise they will NOT be as numerous as I had hoped to do yearly (ie 4-5 weeks a year).

    • LMW says:

      We agree with you. We did NOT cancel our cruise purely due to the new policy. Our decision was made AFTER reading all the vitriolic jubilations of the non-smokers.

    • Len says:

      I am glad you posted this post about the hate being shown by some non smokers. I am a non smoker, but my wife is a smoker I would prefer that she quit but that hasn’t happened yet. We both can see Carnivals side in banning smoking on the balcony’s. But for those non smokers who continue to be so hateful they won’t enjoy their cruise any way because they will now have to find something else to complain about.

    • Goldenfoxx says:

      Being happy about a policy that is way over due is gloating? I am thrilled to sit on my balcony and enjoy my coffee or wine and not have to breathe smoke coming out of someone’s mouth next door to me. We stopped cruising on Carnival because of it, and I just booked another cruise on Carnival because of their change in the smoking policy. Smoking is not only a health issue, it’s a safety issue as well. Look up what happened to the Star Princess because of what a cigarette did to the ship and its passengers. No matter what a policy change is, there will always be someone unhappy about it. The change is for the best for the majority. I applaud Carnival and will enjoy many cruises with them in the future.

  4. Karlien malan says:

    There is also another part to ship life – the fun and laughter and friendships (platonic not couples) that one have. i was a crewmember for 5years, the best 5yrs ever and when i go thru my photos it is amazing to see again what you have experienced in your shiplife years. and 8yrs later i still have some of my shipfriends from all over the world. Still keeping touch. shiplife was fun

  5. John Allen says:

    John well written “Ship Life”. That is why we take a lot of time on board to meet the staff. We treat them as equals and real bond. They will share their life stories as well as we will and have made many friends while onboard. And most of those friends are Crew. It’s Great when on another Cruise they are still on Board. What a great feeling to see Old Friends and catch up. Looking forward to Our Oct 16 cruise on the Fantasy since some of the crew we have met will still be there. More Passengers should take the tome to meet these Fantastic Crew Members.
    By the way off this subject Holly and I are now CCL Stockholders and intend to get involved at Holder Meetings. Like the S…… changes. Hay Does that mean I am now one of Your Beards? And We can dictate.
    Just Kidding, Keep up the Great Work You Do and hope to meet You Heidi and Kye in the Future.

  6. Rob Balmut says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on “ship life”. It was very moving!

  7. Jeff Craft says:

    Re: Rodger Seitz Comment on the robes Being changes on embankment day On our last cruise on the Legend Both robe had skid marks from the past Guest. Not a pretty sight exchanges were made after notification to Guest Services.

  8. Toby Tovar says:

    We agree with the cruiser who commented about Wee Willie. We were on Sensation in early July and had the chance to visit with him and had a great conversation. We had mentioned we met you on BC7 and he gave us a bit of info on you. Something about the time you turned the peep hole in your door around and we are to ask you about paying full fare for a seat for Teddie Bears BEFORE Kye was born. Would you like to elaborate. 🙂 Toby & Donna Tovar.

  9. samantha brower says:

    I have a question for you john. It may be silly but……the water on the ship for drinking, showers sinks ice machines etc….is that water in holding tanks that is already purified or does the ship have a system that purifies the sea water……..actually laid in bed thinking about that last night lol…silly I know and really doesnt matter, but something I wondered about. I am more interested in how the ship functions then some of the complaining, me me me fools that cruise on them lol………have a fantastic day

    • Pat McLachlan says:

      You should take the “Behind the fun tour”. It answers all those questions and much, much more. But to briefly tell you, the beginning of the cruise it is water from the US port you left from. After about a day and a half they begin to use water they purify onboard. I tell you, the Behind the Fun Tour is the best.

  10. Roberta Penny says:

    John, concerning the woman who wants her ship card keyed for her cabin and her parents, she can get another card that is ONLY a key for their room (no charging privileges). We do this all the time when we sail so that we have access to our kids’ cabin and they can access ours. Everyone just has 2 keys. NO problem!

  11. Sharon says:

    I often wonder about ship life and understand it is much like a small city within the ship for the crew members. I also wonder about how difficult it must be for the crew to leave their families for such a long period of time and missing all the milestones their children reach while they are away. Things that we take for granted everyday, they do not get to do because their life is on the ship. Each crew member sacrifices this so their family can have a better life. With those thoughts in mind, I appreciate all the little and big things they do and I hope everyone cruising will do so, too. Thank you, thank you to all the crew who have contributed to the happiness I have received while cruising. You are commended for all your hard work

  12. Robin says:

    Oh, FFS, Lenore, GROW UP! Ruined your cruise before it even started? Get a clue. If it’s really so important for you to have access to your parents’ cabin, have them ask guest services for an extra key card. Are you really so stupid that you didn’t figure that out in advance, and are you really so entitled that you’re complaining about it? John was much more polite to you than you deserved.

  13. I am going to be a 1st time cruiser when we board the Miracle on July 29 sailing!! So looking forward to checking this one off my “bucket list”, and yes, indeed, it is a bucket list. I am a 5 time cancer survivor and battling again once now. I have finished treatment, and being there is not much more they can do for me I am enjoying life and getting on with my bucket list. Although this cruise emptied my “bucket list account” I will just start a new one!! This boy is not giving up just yet!! Look forward to possibly running into you on board next week! Cheers

    • Marie Wolff says:

      Timothy, I too am a multiple cancer survivor. I am sure this will be a great part of your bucket list. I have been on 16 Carnival cruises, and, you will see how wonderful and stress free just being on the ocean is. Not to mention all the good food and times on the ship. Enjoy life a day at a time.

    • Brad Broadbeck says:

      Tim, good luck with your battle! May you enjoy your trip immensely!

  14. Kathleen Baylis says:

    John, with the crisis all over the world is there a fund that guest can contribute to? We all need help and want to help no matter how small the amount !

    Again, I invite you to be CD ON “bringing home the PRIDE ” to Baltimore, 3/15. Thank all your crew for their dedication and loyality to CCL!

  15. Colleen Davis says:

    Good evening John,

    What an amazing tribute to those men and women that you work with. When ever I’m around any of the crew, I will always engage them in some sort of conversation, because I love to know people – all people – and their lives are so fascinating. I admire the hard work they put out each and every day and hopefully, I don’t take advantage of any of them. I try to make their work experience as stress free as I can, because they are doing so much for me. Keep singing their praises John, and please keep reminding everyone how hard these folks work for us. One more thing, shame on those who take tips away from any of them, and who do not give a little extra to those who have really gone above and beyond. Oh, and one more thing I promise, congratulations on losing 60 pounds!!! Now if only I could do the same.

  16. Flo Hill says:

    John, discussing and reading about the new smoking policy, it got me to thinking about the crew members who have to work in the casino and smoking bars. Their health must surely suffer in small areas filled with smoke day in and day out. How do you determine who to schedule for that detail? Do you choose smoking crew members so they are already as risk? If not, what a tough job to have to be subjected. Thank you for listening.
    By the way, you do a tremendous job as brand ambassador – I always enjoy reading your blog and Facebook page. And love the ships and all of the staff. Really great people!

    • Bernard Lis says:

      You see, back then, it was a massively male-dominated industry, especially onboard. There were no female crew members in the dining rooms, no female bar staff and no female housekeeping personal either

      personal or personnel?

      Anyways, I enjoy reading your emails!

      Bernard Lis

  17. charlie kelson says:

    john we are on the freedom nov. 15, would you know which nights are the formal ones, thanks for all you do

  18. Greg says:

    We are always able to get a room key after we board for our sons room. We just go to the customer service desk with them and ask for a room only key.

  19. Marcia Moore says:

    Hi John,
    My question is, what are the guidelines and rules that are in place for guest and the crew? Are they able to mingle? What if there is a relationship that develops between the two people? How does that work with ship life? I’m sure it happens.

    Thanks for a great story in ship life! I always live hearing about the crew.

    Marcia Moore

  20. A wonderful blog today John. Many of us who cruise on a Carnival ship see the many smiles that these fantastic workers give to us everyday that we are on board but yes, we have no idea what many of their lives must be especially when there is problems in their homelands. Thank you John for expressing what their problems are while they work so hard for all of us. I often wondered what these people must do day in and day out for months until their chance to have a break and go home to see their family members. I have had the opportunity to meet many of these wonder people and they talk, laugh and at times even cried. That is why I always give more than my normal gratuity because they have always given their smiles, laughs and especially respect to me & my wife. Thank you to all the workers on the Carnival ships. They are the true people of Carnival.

    Paul F. Pietrangelo

  21. Leah Carlson says:

    Well said , John.I am from the Philippines and now live in the US and had cruised for a number of years. My husband and I had met CCL staff also from the Philippines and they are hard working and I must say.. most “Pinoys” as we call ourselves ARE hard working people. To add to your knowledge about Pinoys… we keep our problems mostly to ourselves and suffer quietly..as our culture, we do our jobs because of monetary reasons and need and also because we respect people no matter what their station in life are…
    It is true.. Ariel sacrificed going home to work because he needs the money more. Whenever we cruise , we tend to give extra gratuity to some staff especially those that work hard and made our cruise enjoyable.

  22. Judy Morris says:

    Thank you for bringing all of this up. On our very first cruise in 1999 we had a wonderful girl who helped at our table in the main dining room. She was from a country that eventually had to deal with insurgents,political unrest, etc., and I have worried about her to this day. I appreciate it so much that you reminded everyone of the reality of life these folks face while being so kind to the people they help on the cruises. They are amazing individuals.

  23. sharon hewitt says:

    Dear John Heald, Thank you so much for taking more time to talk about “Ship Life”. I have found that connecting with so many wonderful crew members has been a very important and quite a large part of my enjoyment of cruising with CCL. In order to leave my bed and fetal position after being in said position for 3 months after my Father died suddenly, it was a cruise and specifically a group of young ladies in the Spa on board Glory in 2009 who helped me save my sanity and helped me laugh and begin to return to being a person again. I am forever in their debt, wrote glowing remarks on the comment cards of those days and still think of them wishing them the best wherever they are. Your blogs usually make me laugh but tonight I cry with empathy and insight as to how important these, often young, people are to us and to their families across the globe. Thank you for reaching out to them and to me in such a heartfelt way. Cheers!

  24. Janey Winford says:

    John, just to clarify for Lenore who needed a stateroom key for her parents cabin. There is no need to just borrow one of theirs. Guest Services will gladly provide a duplicate S&S card that just unlocks the door and has no charging capability. Lenore and one of her parents need to go to GS together to request this.

  25. Donna Tovar says:

    Great blog today , John
    But seriously – what fool readers to cabi stewards as “cabin boys”???????

  26. Barbara Burns says:

    I realize that changing the smoking policy has left many upset. I am not one of them. I book balconies and am a non-smoker. The last cruise in the Breeze in April the adjoining balcony cabin contained smokers and at times the fumes would come over to my side and on occasion so did their cig butts! In 1998 I sailed on the inaugural cruise on the world’s first non-smoking ship the Paradise and what a wonderful experience to be able to roam free and have one whiff of smoke! We liked it so much we immediately booked again for the following year!

  27. Charlene Trullinger says:

    I am a non-smoker and the problem with smoking is that it involves EVERYONE. If you could smoke and keep all the smoke for yourself, there would be no problem. I do not want to smoke!!! It would be like an AA member required to drink!! I deserve to breathe clean air.

  28. LMW says:

    Linda Vickers comment ( and many more like it on this blog and on the forums) is one of the reasons we just canceled our cruise this November and booked a trip to Key West.

    We switched to e-cigs in September of 2013 but prior to that were considerate smokers. We did NOT smoke anywhere on the ship except our balcony (we always booked the extended balconies and once even the Penthouse). We never smoked if our neighbors were ON their balconies.

    The lack of compassion shown from so many who are jubilant about the strict smoking policy and the classification of those who smoke or vape as second class citizens aboard the ships is just mind boggling.

    When Carnival decides to modify their policy – at the very least not sending the equivalent of an alcoholic in a bar with an apple juice – we will be spending our money elsewhere.

    Let the non-smokers revel in their jubilation. Their compassion and “tolerance” is quite revealing.

  29. Tom Davis says:

    Hi John,
    My wife & I are booked on the Liberty for Aug. 9. 8 nt Cabin 9263. This our 3rd Carnival cruise and sort of long delayed honeymoon. We were first boy & girl friend years ago and after 30 years found each other again! We have a few questions….what nights are formal nights, can we get list of dining room menus in advance so we can schedule our nights at Steakhouse, where is smoking section on deck areas as my wife enjoys her sun time? Also, this is our 1st time purchasing Faster to the Fun. Have read many reviews which all seem good but aside from early boarding, what are other, if any benefits? As my wife is retired she has spent many days researching and found your blog. Loves it I will add. Keep up the good work and keeping it real. Our first cruise ever was on the Miracle in Jan. 05, 2 months after she first sailed! Thanks for all you & all the crews do for us.

  30. Linda says:

    John, for Lenore Oram, just have him go to guest services and ask for an extra card key for the parents cabin door that has no charging privileges attached to it. This is what we did when we took my daughter and friend on a graduation cruise. They did not have to give up one of their cards nor did it interfere with them each having a card with their charging privileges on them. I carried the second card on my lanyard right under my own and was just sure to hand the correct one to any staff that needed to swipe it for charges or getting off and back on the ship. Easy fix.

  31. George Glass says:

    hi John,I leave on my 85th cruise on August 24 on the Carnival Freedom.This is my 18th cruise on Carnival and I love Carnival a lot.I have been on 17 different cruise lines and am yet to sit with the captain at dinner on any ship.I am a Platinum member working my way up to Diamond very quickly.I usually cruise at least once a month.I am not sure I have ever met you but I have heard nice things about you from other guests.Is there anything I can do to ever get to sit with the Captain at dinner or is this reserved just for the top Diamond guests or suite passengers? I am making my way through the entire Carnival fleet as well as most of the other cruise lines.By the way what ship are you on now.I look forward to your expert advice in this matter…..thanks in advance for your assistance..George

  32. Bob Knepp says:

    John, It was great to read about the change in the smoking policy. My wife has a lung disease and it is hard enough for her to breathe in normal air let alone air with smoke. We are in favor of the new smoking policy and hope that people are kind enough to follow it. Thanks.

  33. Rodney Blanchard says:

    I grew up being called a mongrel. Then the civil rights act helped that. Now I’m being a mongrel again because I smoke. Thank you Carnival. You obviously selected this woman’s post carefully to upset people.

  34. Dominic Lacy says:

    Another brilliantly written blog john, it was cool to see part of your perspective of life behind the crew only door

  35. LongintoCruise says:


    Just wanted to say that I always thought you Brits could put on the best ceremonies in the world. Today, 7/23 the Dutch surpassed you. As I’m sure you know total is a National Day of Mourning in The Netherlands for the victims of flight #17. I’ve been watching it on CNN & I don’t know that I’ve ever been quite so impressed by a ceremony. The victims were finally given all the dignity & respect that up until now, has been totally lacking. Hats off to the Dutch!

  36. Cynthia Ravenscraft says:

    Great story about ship life. Reminds me of some of the my husbands sea days in the US Navy. It is a lonely life, hard work and sometimes overwhelming. My heart goes out to any of the Carnival Family that have family at home suffering from disasters, violence and disease. You can’t certainly hear your compassion in this post and for that I am happy to be a loyal Carnival Guest. I had a little chuckle at some of your descriptions about ship board romances and team mate antics. If I had demanded compensation for every joke, antics or harassing comments made to me in my past work careers I could cruise on Carnival non-stop. However, I never too offense. If a man ever told a joke and then realized I was nearby and apologized for saying something like that in front of a lady I always responded with “I am an Ex-Catholic School Girl, married to an Ex-Sailor….. need I say more?” It’s all in the attitude. I must say though on our second cruise on the Carnival Sensation in January 2013. The team from Park West Galleries had one married couple and a young couple on the ship that were dating. We had some great laughs when I told the young man “If he liked it he needs to put a ring on it”. The beautiful young lady had his heart I think and all of us had a great time teasing him just a bit. Sadly, they were on vacation when we went back on the Sensation in November of 2013. Maybe they’ll be back again. I also applaud you John on your dedication to your wife. When my husband went out to sea I would tell him I would understand if something happened while he was gone… He is a man after all but just don’t lie to me about it. Other wives from the ship made it quite clear if their husband ever did anything they would kill them when they got home. Oddly enough those were the men that usually did cheat. My husband never has and he even called me from St Thomas to tell me about a lady that was trying really hard to get him to go home with her but he went back to the ship instead. Well John, Happy sailing.

  37. Pauline Payne says:

    Our first cruise was 11/27/99 on the Triumph out of Miami, and what a cruise it was. Being our first we really didn’t know just how special it was until we gone on 10 since. John was our cruise director and did an awesome job, I often wonder if John remembered Ida and Little Willie, and the fun times that everyone had???

  38. wayne Toogood says:

    Hi John
    I’ve had the good fortune to cruise twice where you’ve been the cruise director Triumph in 2004 and again last year on Legend I usually cruise with a group. Of family and friends ages in their teens to 70s entertainment is our main priority and carnival do a great job.I’ve cruises 6 times this year already and I must say in very disappointed that there is such a lack of live entertainment up on decks now a DJ just doesn’t give the same vibe as alive band I would like to book on legend when it comes to my home city Sydney later this year but us Aussies like our live entertainment with a few drinks well not a few a lot can you tell me what’s will be the case on legend.Thankyou

  39. Angie Martz says:

    Thanks so much for your entertaining blog, I enjoy reading it! We will be sailing on the Carnival Pride on August 24th out of Baltimore. Can you tell me when the formal nights are for this cruise? I would like to schedule the steakhouse for my husbands birthday but want to coordinate around those nights. Thanks so much!

  40. Kirby says:

    John, I loved this blog. I have met many crew members over the course of my time on the ships. One crew member in particular really sticks out when reading this. He and his family were greatly affected by the Tsunami in the South Pacific. It was very interesting, but also difficult to hear of the stories he had to share.

  41. Tricia says:

    We were thrilled to hear about the new “smoke free balconies” policy! After three very disappointing cruises with an unusable balcony, we finally concluded that we wouldn’t waste our money again. The last cruise was the worst since it seemed one of our neighbors spent his entire voyage smoking. Try as we might there was not one time we were able to actually sit outside. Now we’re looking at upcoming cruises with renewed anticipation.

  42. Shelly young says:

    As former ship staff who met and married her soul mate a ships officer, and we both continued to work on board. It is a pleasure and passion working on board, away from your family 9 months at a time, but the smallest compliment or token of appreciation goes a very long way. Our years on board are fondly treasured and we continue to cruise, share our experiences and appreciate your blog !

  43. Steve Makris says:

    John, I have a cruise booked for Nov 1 on tdhe Glory. Its 1st stop is Half Moon Cay. I have my 86 year old brother-in-law with me that needs a walker/wheelchair to move about. Do you recommend try to take him ashore via tender or just remain on the ship on that stop.

  44. Karyn says:

    We were on our first cruise in ’09 and about to take our next w/ our 8 year old this time. We so much enjoyed getting to know the crew. We have names of each of ‘our’ crew members and the country they were from written down and saved. We wanted to remember them, and when I looked at their names again after your blog post, I could see each face and smile, and hear them talking with us. I can’t wait to have new memories with ‘our’ next crew. I am beyond grateful for the people who are willing to serve us… and I can’t wait to show my son how amazing the Carnival Crew is.. Cheers


  45. Lourdes Solana says:

    Hi John
    I had the pleasure of sailing with you several years ago while the Magic was in Europe. It was a wonderful cruise. I enjoy very much your blog and it is great way to keep all you loyal customers up to day with the updates at Carnival. We love cruising and Carnival.
    I have notice that on the newer vessel class the pool at the spa it is only for those at the spa or spa level cabins. As Platinum member it will be great to have the access to this pool as one of the perks.
    We will be cruising again August 16 on board the Breeze to celebrate our wedding anniversary. It will be great to see that my suggestion has been consider.
    Keep your blog going and hope to see you in one of our future cruises.
    Lourdes Solana


    I know you are very, very tired of hearing about the smoking ban. Please humor me just this once. I was a bit taken aback by the comment from Linda Vickers referring to smokers as “mongrels” I have been avoiding Cruise Critic because I am disgusted with the name calling and general disrespect coming from both sides. Points can be made without being so degrading. It is childish. I am getting ready to go on my 9th cruise on Carnival, the Freedoms repo and can’t wait. I was disappointed in the smoking ban but I can live with it. I wanted to quit anyhow. I have been cigarette free for about 3 weeks by using the E-cig. It has been a lifesaver. But I am very, very concerned about having to go to a small place where all the smokers are. It’s almost like sending an alcoholic into a bar and locking the door. I don’t want to be around all that smoke. Is there any chance of some kind of concession with the E-Cigs? Thank you for all you do!!!!

    • sharon hewitt says:

      Well said and I do so hope that the anti-smokers learn that there is a difference in smoking cigarettes and exhaling smoke as opposed to exhaling harmless vapor. Their perceptions are not a legitimate reason to ban e-cigs from balconies…

  47. Cynthia Ravenscraft says:

    John, great story about ship life. It truly isn’t an easy job for you and all of the crews on the ships. On our first cruise (the Fascination in May 2012), the cruise director talked about some of the strange questions she is often asked. One of them was….. Does the crew go home after their shifts or stay on the ship. Oh if it were only that easy. We take going home at the end of the day for granted in this country. You can’t just up and leave the ship whenever you want. My husband was in the Navy for almost 12 years and was out to sea 8 months out of our first year of marriage. He had a young bride (23) and a new stepson (3) when he left on his first 6 month cruise (with us as his family) and my son and I were across the country from our friends and family. We met while he was stationed at Moffet Field Air Station in the San Jose, CA area and we married in Las Vegas on our way to Charleston, SC. unfortunately for our bank account California is three hours behind us so when I could not go to sleep it was still early out there so I could call friends and family to chat. Having to deal with a broken finger that need to be surgically repaired and the birth of our first child (together) alone because he was out to sea I can certainly understand how your team feels. My heart goes out to all of them and especially those that may have suffered immeasurable loss with natural disasters and violence around the world. I will certainly remember this the next time we cruise and will be sure to reward our stewards and wait staff a little more than usual. I also want to commend you John for your faithfulness and loyalty to your wife. It is all too easy to forget that commitment when you are thousands of miles away from home for months at a time. God be with all of you on each and every trip.

  48. Carolyn Heidkamp says:

    I am so glad you told us about your cabin steward and his situation after his family’s home was destroyed and the fact that he stayed onboard to earn the money to start over. It made me think about all the bad situations around the world. the wars, natural disasters and plane crashes. I felt so bad for those people but how these events effect not only the people living in those areas but those who had family and friends effected by those events. Why I hadn’t considered how the staff aboard the cruise ships escapes me. I will now be more cognitive of those crew members and where their homes are when I come in contact with them on our cruises. Thank you for your blog.

  49. Dalia Lemus says:

    I have never met you but I like you! I sail only with Carnival Cruise Line. My last cruise was on June 21th 2014 seven (7) days, on the Sunshine which I had sailed on before when she was called the Carnival Destiny.( I believe , please correct me if I am wrong) This ship is beautiful. but than they all are ! My Question to you which is very Important to me as a Carnival Lover is! When can we look forward to the seeing and receiving the sailing brochures, that all the other cruise line still have but Carnival has quit printing. I know you can see it all on line but tell your boss that there are tons of people out there that do not compute! Mainly the Seniors!. They are losing these people to other lines. ! have one that is 17 years old!! very out dated

  50. John I said I would write you something positive for once. And Thus I have. I Started the below while on the Carnival Legend. I just returned home today from that cruise I will have some more say about it in another writing. But THIS I Wanted you to know and see that credit is given to my Dining Room Waiter.. You’ll see that There is a couple of lines in this that I could not finish because I did not see this man again, and perhaps he will provide it for you… SO HERE IT IS….
    July 20-27, 2014
    John – SUBMARINER FREIND HERE… Writing you with a situation…a VERY positive situation… As I sit here on the balcony of the Legend in Cozumel… awaiting those who have gone ahsoreI to come back so that we can get underway to Belize .,., I have time write you about a crew member.
    After, well after this cruise, 8 curises on Carnval since 2010 and one on Princess (which I believe that Carnival has its hand in the till on that Cruise Line) I have met many people and many cruise members.
    My wife Bonnie being the type B personality, which is very frinedly and tends to ask people questions that I think are…well invasive at the most, and which you won’t catch me doing. tends to talk to everyone.
    First .. about Crew members.. My wife tends to ask “Where are you From?”, “How long have you been with Carnival?” and to me the most revealing question “How do you like your Job?”
    The answer to the last question is can be a tell all of one’s felling of job satisfaction. Of all the cruises I have taken I have only heard one “I want off here and want to go home!” Next type of crew member answer is after a 5 or more second intospective pause the anserser is ” I like it!’. That tells me they really have’t decided yet or may be home sick or whatever. Not a bad thing.
    The third answer I have gotten is stated without any hesitation – “I love it, I wouldn’t be doing anything else!”There are two people who work for Carnival who are exemplery when it comes to this type of reply. They not only do not hestitate in there answer but are eager to tell me that they could not see themselves doing anyting else. I have mentioned them to you before ..Kristen Thomas, my PVP, and Jamile Dutech (CD and Assistant CD along side of Kirk benning).
    Today I add a third…
    His name is EARL (and I don’t yet know his last name). He is either a team leader or a lead of a team that deals with the food service part of the ship.
    Last night, despite my desire to reject it, but upon a very strong encouragement form the Boss (A.K.A. wife) I dressed up for elegent night and went to the dining room.
    Earl was the main man wating on us.
    He, as all crew members tend to do, immediatley remembered my name.
    He did a great job.. and we appreciated his hospitatlity and kindness and concern for our needs and desires.
    We had dinner from about 6 p.m. till about 7:30 P.M.
    Today at about 11:30 a.m we went to lunch in the Buffet area of the ship.
    There was Earl..Cleaning up and watch other around him. I thought he might have been the one waiting on us last night, but since I am 61 it seems everybody is somebody I have seen before, I wasn’t sure.
    My wife and I sat down, after getting our food… and Earl looks at me and says “Hi Stephen”. He looked at my drink and said “you had a double Johnny Walker on the rocks last night, is that a LONG ISLAND ICE TEA your having today?” in which I repled in my most porfound polished way .. “YUP!”
    We then began to have a five minute or less conversation —
    I ask him, as either I or my wife askes many crew members .. “How long have you worked for Carnival?”
    Reply “Since 1990!’
    I said “Did you say one nine “NINE ZERO?””
    Reply ” Yes!’
    I continued (like a dummy): “well how do you like your job!’
    Reply without any hesitation at all: “Got to love it!
    I told him of a conversation Bonnie and I had at the dinner table last night in which I mentioned don’t that I didn’t think I could work on a cruise ship and do his job. I told him that our discussion revolved around what I saw in the dining room and I pointed out the postive attitudes of all the crew members around the hundred or more people in the Turffels Dining Room at that time.
    I said to him “You are on the ship on Sunday and meet all kinds of people and you are positive, smile and treat everyone like they are special. Then comes the next saturday night and sunday morning where everyone is a bit down and sad because it is over and even though that attitude is contagious you treat them with same respect they deserve… AND THEN Sunday after noon you do it all aver again!”
    I continued with “Just how, after all these years, do you keep doing this over and over again?”
    He said to Bonnie and me ” You must understand that people are indviduals. There are those who complain about the weirdest and strangest things; there are those who compalin about things that done’t even exist; and there are those who don’t. You must remember they are all people, and you treat them equal and with respect and you serve them to the best of you ability. In the end, it all equal out.”
    We continued with our conversation. One of us asked Earl where he grew up. He proudly told us … Costa Rica.
    He mentioned that Costa Rica was unique .. “We have the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean and everything elses in between”. And then in his native language he said … “_______________________”, which means “_________________”
    Earl -The person who waited on us in the Truffles Dining Room of the Carnival Legend. A great waiter and better yet .. An Extremely Awesome Human Being.
    Unfortuantley it is seldom you find a person who posses all the Human Qualities that the Good Lord intended for us. But Earl … Well he’s Got it. And Carnival Cruise Line is very f ortunate to have a person like him serving its guest since 1990.
    To Earl … Thank you for talking with us, thank your for your splended service, and thank you Earl for being Earl.
    God Bless!
    Stephen H Worden
    Bonnie C. Worden
    Cabin 6234
    Carnival Legend
    July 20 – July 27 2014

    • Cynthia Ravenscraft says:

      Stephen….. great letter. Our staff on the three cruises we have been on have been exceptional as well. We cruised on the Sensation in January 2013 and again in November 2013 and we were able to get switched to Livia’s (from Hungary)section and that made our trip so memorable. If only all service people in the world were as pleasant as Carnival Team Members are we would live in a much happier place.

  51. Mary says:

    I have thought often about those that work on the cruiseships and wonder how they manage to have any home/family life when gone continuously for long periods of time. Is it acceptable to engage them in conversation regarding their homes/families when you are a passenger on the ship? Not only do I love talking to those from other places/lifestyles/etc., I would hope that being able to talk about it might ease their loneliness some. My husband and I and 2 other couples will be cruising in January so I hope to talk to some at that time.

    • davej says:

      Mary, have been on over 20 cruises total, 14 on Carnival. Have made many friends that are crew members. They will absolutely Love the opportunity to talk about their family. From the Cabin stewards to the waiters, to the Bartenders, and any others you make friends with, and asking about their families will make you an instant friend. Still communicate with many past crew members via the internet.

      • Cynthia Ravenscraft says:

        That is so sweet. We have spoken with some of the crew members on the ships we have been on and love to learn about their families. My husband being Ex-Navy and him being out to sea 8 months of our first year of marriage helps us understand their life but they seem to go above and beyond any kind of service you get on any land based vacations. If I had my choice all of my vacations wills be one a cruise ship the rest of my life.

  52. Laura says:

    Hi John
    your crew mates have a hard life I work in a hotel ( housekeeping) and no matter what is going on you go to work you smile, all of the ships crews deserve a big thank you for what the do day in and day out it is not a easy job serving the public cause some times they don’t see that person or give a thought about them they are just there to serve them. I think if most of the guest even went with a thank you or a please it would make life so much better for all who serve them on the ship, and remember before you yell about something going wrong don’t start on the crew who have no control go find a boss to yell at and go find a boss when the crew do some thing great too

  53. Would absolutely love to see a port back in Mobile, are there any plans yet?

  54. Lucinda Owen says:

    Trying to find out what sip Malcolm Burn is on. Who is the CD for Liberty sailing Nov. 28, 2014. I would love to go back on a ship that Malcolm is on, he is absolutely by far the best CD I have had.

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