Pirates used to be fun with their wooden legs and shoulder-based parrots and cries of “shiver me timbers.” Say the word “pirate” and you and I see a salty sea dog with gunpowder smoldering in his beard. They would all wear long black or red coats and have a patch over one eye… unless, of course, they were really stupid pirates and have patches over both eyes… sorry…. old cruise ship joke.

Red Beard, Black Beard, Johnny Deppbeard were all pirates who, despite the plundering and pillaging that was forced upon thousands of innocent victims, have been portrayed as warm and cuddly and about as dangerous as my Mum armed with a toothpick. However, during the last few years, thanks to Tom Hanks, we have come to learn of a new type of pirate …one armed not with a rusty sword but with rocket propelled grenades and machine guns. So before I talk about pirate day I want to make sure that everyone here knows I am talking about the cuddly Disneyesque version and not the bastard hijacking Somali ones. So, for those of you who are on one of our ships on September 19, you will be able to enjoy……….Talk Like a Pirate Day. And here is what we will be doing.

  • Piano bar and lounge bands will play pirate shanty sing-a-long music. Songs will be offered at random times throughout the night to acknowledge Talk Like a Pirate Day.
  • Props will be supplied for piano bar guests – pirate hats, eye patches, etc.
  • Bars will be decorated pirate-style


  • Pirate Last Man Standing
  • Pass the Cannonball
  • Pirate Scavenger Hunt
  • Diving for Pirate Treasures
  • Pirate Impression Contest
  • Best Pirate Joke
  • Pirate Trivia

Lido Sailaway or Deck Party will be decorated pirate style with music, games and contests. Guests will be given pirate-themed bandanas, mini flags, eye patches, blow up swords, hooks, hats and Dive-In Movies will show Pirates of the Caribbean.

Now, obviously, we want our guests to take part, so if you are sailing that week, please bring a pirate costume with you and, yes, you can wear it to dinner. If this is a success then we will give serious consideration to making this a regular attraction and, of course, I will let you know how it all goes and hope those who are on one of our ships during Pirate Day will let us all know too.

OK, time to crack on with today’s Q and A.

Paul Bettencourt asks:
John Heald, would you clarify something for me because there is mass confusion as you will see from the link I have attached. Are the maitre d’s supposed to acknowledge and answer the emails we send requesting table reservations? It appears that most do not with the Carnival Pride being one of the biggest offenders. Seems rude to me and many customers that they do not reply On Cruise Critic________says that “John Heald uses that as an easy form excuse for when his associates fail to follow through with the guest.” What do you have to say?????????? Looks like poor customer service to me.


John says:
Hello Paul Bettencourt

The simple answer is no, they are not supposed to and are not expected to by anyone of the Carnival beards. You can imagine that if every guest did that it would be impossible to manage so we do ask that guests either see the maître d on embarkation day or let me know ahead of time on my Facebook page and I will try to help. They are not being rude neither is it an excuse despite what anyone may think. They are just busy and acting within the parameters that Carnival sets for them. I hope this answers your question and I would be grateful if you would add this answer to the link you sent so others can see as well. Best wishes.


Mary Grabski asks:
John: I just wanted to let you know what a wonderful time we had on Carnival Liberty July 6-11. The service was the absolute best.  Corey was our CD, and he did an outstanding job, however you are still our favorite. Thank you for the care package that was sent to our cabin — much appreciated.  I would like to tell you about one outstanding individual. His name was Lucian (sp) in the EA Sports Bar, what a great man.  He took time and spoke to my 14-year-old son who is sports obsessed.  My son would walk in and Lucian would have a Coke poured for him immediately, he then listened to my son whine and complains about his beloved LeBron James leaving Miami every day of the cruise.  He was such a patient bartender.   My son spent hours in the EA Sports Bar watching ESPN it was a nice addition for the sports lover, only complaint was that the World Cup was not broadcasted.  Anyways, I am looking forward to our next cruise, hoping you will be on it!

John says:
Hello Mary Grabski

I know how your son feels about LeBron, we will all miss him. But, on a happier note, I am so glad you had fun together and I will be sure to send on all your kind words to Lucian and Cory. I know they will be thrilled when they see this and I hope that you will come and sail with us again very soon. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you and…..Let’s Go Heat!

Best wishes.


Tom McTernan asks:
John, what you did for my brother on his return from Afghanistan with the U.S. Marine Corps will be something all of us will never forget. The service on Carnival Splendor was the best we have ever had and the steakhouse meal was one of the best meals we have ever had and we are fussy New Yorkers. Special thanks go to Wyan, our cabin attendant, and our waiters, Lizbet, Mija and Norberto. John, my brother was overwhelmed with the generosity you showed him and the message you wrote which Malcolm, the cruise director, read out loud on his show. We will be back and we will always hope to meet you one day, John.

John says:
Hello Tom McTernan

Thanks so very much for these wonderfully kind words and I will pass on your thanks to those who you mentioned on the ship and they, too, will be very proud. Talking of pride, I can see you have so much of that for your brother and please once again, send him my best. I, too, hope we meet soon and I am here at your service if you need me. Best wishes to all.


Sue Gillette asks:
We will be on Carnival Sunshine December 14, 2014, and would like to put balloons on our table before dinner. Can we make this happen? Also would like to buy a cake, but don’t want anything on top. We will bring a topper but needs to be put on 30 minutes before coming to table need to know how to make this happen. This will make a seven-year-old boy’s birthday one he will remember a long time.

Thank you,

Sue Gillette

John says:
Hello Sue Gillette

Thank you for writing to me and it looks like you are planning a wonderful cruise. The cake is no problem but you will need to order on the ship from Cherry on Top shop on the first day. Explain please what you would like and they will gladly assist. There is a charge for the cake but we will add your topper as requested. The balloons should not be a problem but you need to have them blown up and ready so that when you come into the dining room ahead of time, you can place them on the table. The waiters only have a small amount of time between sittings to re-set tables so they won’t be able to help but, of course, if time allows they will. Please can you remind me of this the day before the cruise via my Facebook page and I will let the ship know. Have a great time. Best wishes.


Marc Wascaro asks:
I have decided to bring my family on a cruise on the Carnival Splendor and amongst our group of 12 is my son. He recently won The National Speech & Debate Association 2014 National Speech & Debate Tournament. This is the world’s largest academic competition. I would like to ask that you add a debate club tournament to your daily program and, if you need my son to assist you organize this, he will be willing to lend his time and help you make this a popular event each of your cruises. We were able to organize something similar on our cruise on NCL’s Jade and I trust Carnival will be just as accommodating.

John says:
Hello Marc Wascaro

Many congratulations to your son of whom you must be so very proud. Now I have to admit that I am not the brightest bulb on the tree and had to ask my Facebook friends what a debate club would involve. Having done so, I do not think this fits into the fun vacation style Carnival is all about, so please forgive me but I will not be able to offer this. I wish you a brilliant time together and if there is anything I can do, please do ask.  Best wishes.


Kathryn Hickman asks:
September 29 will be my first cruise and it is on Carnival Fantasy. My question is about electrical outlets as there are four of us and we all use a C-PAP when we sleep. May I use a surge protector in the electrical outlet so all four can be hooked up at once? I read that there is only one outlet in the room. Will I need to bring an extension cord also? I have searched the FAQ’s and cannot find anything else about this. Thank you for your time and I love your blogs!

John says:
Hello Kathryn Hickman

Thanks so much for your kind words and I am so glad you enjoy these blogs. Yes, indeed, you may bring one. Please make sure it’s in very good condition and pack it in your carry on. If not, we can provide an extension cord on board so please let us know if you decide to do that. Regardless, I am here to help, so please let me know if you have any questions. Have a brilliant time. Best wishes.


Ben Kelly asks:
Hi, John. I have a suggestion that I would love for you to take to the “beards” and see what they have to say. How about awarding solo cruisers who pay 200 percent of the per-passenger rate double VIFP points? I understand the solo supplement is waived on some sailings, and no
one would rightly expect double points for these. But for sailings where I, as a solo traveler, pay double, it would be a nice gesture. Thanks!

John says:
Hello Ben Kelly

I recently had the same request here from someone else asking for this and I did indeed send it to the beards. I know there are certain challenges to cruising solo and, certainly, I think our recent sales have helped. But this is a good point and I will, once again, pass it to the right people. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you and I hope to see you soon. Best wishes.


William (Bill) Geick asks:
Hi John, just something I thought you might run by the beards concerning the VIFP program. I believe this suggestion could generate some new excitement into the program. The amount of points between Platinum and Diamond status (125 points) could be segmented. Say at 100 points you would become a “Platinum one-star” and receive a Platinum pin with one star somewhere on the pin. It would also have a small perk, something like an additional drink coupon good for any day during the cruise anywhere on the ship (this is just an example of how small the perk could be). The pin and perk would be something to acknowledge your continuing dedication to Carnival. At 125 points, you would receive a “Platinum two-star” pin and small perk. And the last one before Diamond would be at 150 points a “Platinum three-star” with pin and perk. I believe the new pins would generate more enthusiasm and pride into the VIFP program. It could also generate questions about the loyalty program from other cruisers new to Carnival when they see the pins that I’m sure would be worn by the Platinum members. Whatever, we are still loyal Carnival cruisers and the next cruise in September on the Sunshine we will be half way to Diamond. Also looking forward to meeting you on the Bloggers Cruise in January. Cheers, mate.

John says:
Hello William (Bill) Geick

This is very interesting indeed. I know that the beards are very much in the middle of looking what do with our loyalty program as we move forward so, as requested, I will of course make sure that this excellent suggestion is read by them. I want to meanwhile thank you for your loyalty and I hope you will let me know the next time you are sailing with us which I see is on the Carnival Sunshine. Have a great cruise and send me your cabin number the day before the cruise on my Facebook page.

Terrie Reuvers asks:
John: I don’t question Carnival’s policies, but I think you should know and should alert the beards that the one constant complaint I see about Carnival is inconsistency when you talk to reps and on the ships. For example, you can call Carnival and ask a question, and then call back and ask the same question to another rep and get a totally different answer. Some have reported calling repeatedly until they get someone that will give them the answer they want (which might or might not be the correct “policy” answer for the question). That is not right and certainly not what you want to have folks tell new Carnival cruisers. Same with on the ship. I use the dress code for the MDR and steakhouse as an example on the ship – we all have read the dress code
and yet it is inconsistent on the ships as to what the maitre d will allow in the dining room. Some have reported being able to wear shorts in the steakhouse. Thought the STEAKHOUSE was to be more like “cruise elegant?”

John says:
Hello Terrie Reuvers

Thanks for the post and I will certainly forward this to the right people. I have not heard the comment before about phoning our guest services team in Miami but I will as I mentioned send it to the right people. The dress code is monitored as best we can but, with so many people entering the dining room, some do get through who maybe should not. Thanks, then, for bringing this to my attention and I remain here at your service. Best wishes.


Alaya Borski asks:
If I book a cruise on the Carnival Splendor over the holidays can you confirm that Xmas celebrations will be muted bearing in mind people of other faiths will be there? This is very important to me and my family.

John says:
Hello Alaya Borski

We do celebrate Christmas on board with the ship being decorated and there will be a Christmas show, carols and other Christmas music. However, we also have a Hanukah service each night with the lighting of the Menorah. This is a great time to spend on the ship and I hope we see you on board. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

Klara Ruiz asks:
I am new to your page, Mr. Heald. I have never cruised with your company and came here to research the possibilities of an internship but, after reading about the meat that you publicly display on your boat, I will not be sending you my resume. Putting meat on public display is like a horror show for so many people and I am not surprised to read that your customers complained. I had no intention of wasting my time in writing a comment but then my blood boiled over when I saw Carnival serves veal!!!! If you accept that animals have rights, raising and killing animals for food is morally wrong. Serve the meat. OK I accept this but to display what was once a living breathing thing to your customers is horrific. An animal raised for food is being used by others rather than being respected for itself. In philosopher’s terms, it is being treated as a means to human ends and not as an end in itself. What Carnival does by displaying meat and serving up veal is a clear violation of the animal’s rights. I know Carnival has children on their boats so imagine how those children feel when they see the flesh of dead animals. Imagine how upset they would be if they had pets!! I will not be tendering my resume to Carnival cruises as your actions have left me no choice but to look elsewhere and not to recommend your cruise line in any way. Shame on you, Mr. Heald, for being a blinkered spokesman who has not it appears from the grinning headshot at the top of this page, has not had a relationship with healthy living.

Klara Ruiz

John says:
Hello Kara Ruiz

Thanks for writing. Let me reply to you by starting out with the fact that I respect your opinion and my reply is going to be based on what I hope you will think is considered conjecture. As long as I can remember, the steakhouses being on ships and the cuts of steak being displayed during embarkation in the atrium never been a negative comment that I’m aware of.  Now that does not mean that some may have been upset but just didn’t report it on board. Plus, you’ll have to agree that Carnival is not the place where cuts of beef are displayed – it’s a very common practice land-side steakhouses and restaurants not to mention other cruise ships. There are many things in life that each of us do not like – from smoking to sports to keeping up with the Kardashians — but we accept that others do and move on. As for the comment about children who see our steakhouse meat being advertised because “they had pets,” again I have to disagree. Talking from personal experience, I remember as kid going to our local butcher shop before the huge supermarket chains forced most of them to close and just like today’s supermarkets there were cases lined with all sorts of sausages, chicken, steaks, etc., and my sister and I made absolutely no connection between what we saw at the butcher shop and our family pet. As I said, I hope you can appreciate our differences on this subject and I wish you nothing but luck in your future endeavors. If there is anything I can do to help on behalf of Carnival Cruise Lines, please do let me know.


Tracy asks:
Why do you allow these holy righteous sub-humans tell me what I can and can’t do because I am a smoker? They attack in packs and should be put down! Why do you let them do this. Do they speak for Carnival cruises?

John says:
Hello Tracy

There have been some very personal attacks from both sides of the smoking argument and I have really not enjoyed them at all. It is a very passionate subject and all I can do is hope that people will get their point across without being cruel which is why I deleted the last two sentences of your post. I do hope you understand and I hope we see you soon. Best wishes.


Tamara Crutchfield asks:
Dear John: I love reading your blog and your Facebook page. Your sense of humor is definitely my style! We are planning an Alaskan cruise next summer and hope to cruise with you. My question has to do with my upcoming 8/31 cruise on the Carnival Sunshine. I have always enjoyed being seated with other people in the dining room. I am cruising alone with my four-year-old grandson. When he and I cruised last fall, we were always seated by ourselves, even for lunch and breakfast. I understand some people are easily annoyed by young children and that is probably the reason. However, I would really like to be seated with another single cruiser with young children, or at least with another family. Years ago, when I cruised with my 10 year old daughter, we were seated at a table with another mom and daughter. It was really nice for us both to have somebody else to talk to at dinner and we ended up doing some other things together on the ship. Is there a way to make sure we have tablemates? Thank you!

John says:
Hello Tamara Crutchfield

I totally understand and I think we can help you meet new friends. Please would you send me this request again, if you can, five days before the cruise and I will be sure to request this from the maître d. the address is facebook.com/johnheald. I wish you the most wonderful time and please let me know if I can help further. Best wishes.


And that’s all for today……….actually, there is one more question.

Let’s meet one of the new generations of cruise directors and introduce you to Carnival Sunshine’s CD George Roberts.

George Roberts

What’s your name and where are you from?  George William Roberts – from the countryside county of Yorkshire, England. Home of the Terrier, the Pudding and Emmerdale Farm. And no John, I don’t live with a bunch of sheep! How to describe Yorkshire?…. Cold, wet and grey but extremely beautiful. Full of lakes and wildlife and people walking around with nothing but hiking boots. We call them the naked ramblers. Not a hobby of mine!

Tell us about your work experience and your journey with Carnival Cruise Lines so far?
I started with Carnival in 2006 on the Carnival Fascination at the young age of 18. My cruise director at the time was Danny Blake and my assistant cruise director was Dominika Zaremba who remains a good friend of mine. I was absolutely terrified when I first arrived but after that first month fell in love with everything about Carnival, the ocean and the stage. I got promoted to assistant cruise director in 2008. My first ever time covering as CD was on the Carnival Imagination in 2010 when the entire CD team came to sail for a conference. Imagine that welcome aboard show, me on stage and 26 CD’s all stood on the stairs with John Heald at the top staring down on the stage, I about peed a little back stage. Then in early 2013 I was placed in the CD rotation and have loved every second. I have been very lucky in my career with Carnival, I was given the opportunity about three years ago to join the production team and help build Hasbro, The Game Show and install the show throughout the Carnival fleet. This show is something I care about so much and love being able to host something I was part of creating. Most of you know about our adventures in Philadelphia and Italy from reading John’s blog.

How do you feel you, as cruise director can influence the guest experience in a positive way? My passion is making people laugh and making people smile. As a cruise director, I manage to do this a lot and really believe that if anyone is having a bad moment, hour or day that I have the power, through my energy, humor and genuine care to turn that moment of negativity into a moment that you will never forget in a positive way. I also love to help people realize that you should always be yourself.  If you want to dance around on Lido deck in a grass skirt whilst drinking a monkey head cocktail, do it, if you want to laze in the thalassotherapy pool and read a trashy romantic novel, do it. As long as you are bringing fun and happiness to your life, who cares what people think?!

What’s your favourite part of your job? The favorite part of my job is looking at hundreds of smiling, laughing faces in the audience and knowing that at that exact moment in time, one comment I have made, punchline I landed or funny face I pulled has made any bad memories, negative energy or even sadness disappear. I love making promises I can keep, and I promise every time I meet a guest for the first time that they will have the best vacation ever. Knowing that I can keep that promise and be part of it makes every day better than the last.

What do you find the biggest challenge? The biggest challenge for me is knowing when to stop talking. I am a chatterbox and my Mom always says, ‘If talking was an Olympic sport, you would win gold!”  Ha ha!

If there is one event, show or activity that you host that our guests must not miss, what is it?? Hasbro, The Game Show, not only do I love this show because I have been such a big part of the Hasbro journey but it is honestly a great interactive and fun for all ages show time. And I get to pretend I’m on the TV. I am also a huge fan of the Morning Show — there is no better way to wake up in the morning than with a laugh in the first 30 minutes. And even if I’m not funny on a morning, my hair usually is!

Please share with us your favourite story from your time on our ships? A year and a half ago, I met a young girl called Stacy, who was cruising with us. Her parents told me how she was battling a life threatening disease and they thought it was the last vacation she would possibly get. This was on board the Carnival Ecstasy on a five-day sailing. I and the entertainment team gave her “extra special” fun with backstage tours, a private function with the cast and Fun Ship Freddy and treat her like a celebrity. This morning on the day I am writing this, a young lady came running up to me after my talk and gave me the biggest hug and said “I am so glad you’re our cruise director again. I love the Carnival Sunshine and I love you.” It was Stacy and her family. She has just had her last batch of treatment and things are looking up for her and her family. Today, I have the biggest smile I have had in my entire career with Carnival.

And now – about you

Favourite Movie? Pee Wee’s Big Adventure – “tell ‘em Large Marge sent ya”

Favourite bar or lounge on one of our ships? Alchemy Bar/Ocean plaza – Carnival Sunshine

How do you relax? Shopping

And if you could meet any famous person in the world, who would it be? Kathy Griffin

Thanks, George. It is very appropriate that George is on the Carnival Sunshine because with his sparkling bright and shiny personality, he can turn the darkest mood into one full of laughter. Yep, it is safe to say that as a cruise director, George has a bright and shiny future.

The weather was not good last cruise with rain in Juneau and because of heavy seas and fog the late arrival into Victoria, BC. Most guests had a great time. Yes, there were the usual “we only took this cruise to see Victoria” — and no we have little time there which as always is a comment based on frustration rather than fact. But the crew was, as always, amazing and overall I think the guests had a brilliant Alaskan experience.

Let’s hope that the weather is better this cruise and let’s see who is sailing with us;

Guests                                     2,599
USA                                        2,294
Canada                                                96
French Canadian                     7
China                                       65
UK                                          22
Trinidad and Tobago              21
India                                        19
Top Three States                     California/Texas/New York
Diamond Guests                     4
Platinum                                  82
Guests with wheelchairs/scooters – 27

We have a big group sailing from Nokia and Microsoft and they have meetings and events through the cruise.

Guests under 18                      412

At the end of my Facebook posts, I always finish with the letters “WYWH” which I am often asked what they mean? They, of course, stand for “wish you were here” and my love of these words comes from the old days back in the UK when friends and family would send postcards. I will pause a moment to allow those readers under 30 years of age to ask Uncle Google what a “postcard” is. Most of you will though remember postcards. These days they have been replaced by e -mail instead or people send a bloody text on their sophisticated eye phones.

And I am no better. But I would seriously welcome the return to the poetic art of putting pen to paper. There is nothing nicer than receiving a communication that involves ink and a stamp – it’s like finding a tiny present in the mailbox of a morning and it hardly ever happens any more.  Even love letters are delivered via e-mail and all the mailbox has to offer most mornings are bills and menus from the local pizza joint. I am going to urge myself to rediscover the joys of postcard writing because whatever you can say in person, or electronically, is 100 times more wonderful if it’s written down – even if it’s only………”Wish You Were Here”

And for now and as this wonderful ship sails from Skagway to Alaska through some of the most jaw droopingly savagely beautiful scenery in the world, please consider this blog your postcard and one that truly does…………..wish you were here. Right, time for me to take Kara Ruiz’s advice and lead an ecological, tofu-eating, sandal-wearing high-visibility, lifestyle and hit the steakhouse……”Not had a relationship with healthy living” ……………my arse J.

Your friend,


Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.