Safety First, Comedy Second?

June 2, 2015 -

John Heald

So a couple of weeks ago I mentioned about an incident that happened to me when I was a kid that has given me a pure and utter hatred for anything to do with the dentist. And tomorrow  I have my first dental appointment in….and I am embarrassed to say……20-plus years.

I will pause here for a bollocking from you.

Yes, I know. I am an idiot. An idiot with bad teeth. But, honestly, asking me to go to the dentist would be like asking someone who is afraid of spiders to put their head in a bag of tarantulas and have a bird-eating spider shoved down the front of their underpants and not worry about it.

Yep, I am dreading it even though it is something called sedation dentistry, so I will be unconscious but I have no doubts this will be one pair of underpants that I will never be able to wear again…………not without an industrial wash anyway.

Actually this is not the first time I have been back to the dentist, thinking about it, because some years ago, around the time I delivered the Carnival Liberty, or was it the Carnival Freedom? …… bugger, can’t remember…..but, anyway, it was around 2006 or 2007 that this story takes place.

Years of smoking cigars and drinking coffee have left my teeth looking as though a yak had wiped its arse on them. Heidi mentioned this some years ago and she booked me in for a teeth whitening procedure as a sodding Christmas present. I told her that I would rather sandpaper my own nipples off than go sit in that torturer’s chair ever again. Anyway, Heidi told me that this had nothing to do with a dentist and that it was a painless thing that would be over before I knew it. I thought I knew how cosmetic teeth whitening works. A sexy nurse with huge breasts would smear goo on my teeth, shine some sort of laser at it and that would be that… I would walk out with the nuclear smile like someone from The Real Housewives of New Orange Jersey.

And so I went.

Well, there was good news and bad news for me. The good news was the dental nurse did have huge breasts. The bad news was…. his name was Brian.

I remember emitting a small amount of oily discharge into my underpants because the room I was having this done in looked like a dentist’s room complete with the Spanish inquisition-style chair. The dentist explained my teeth might feel a bit sensitive during the procedure, but so what? I’m no nine-year-old girl. Honest, I’m not. How painful could it be?

The process itself consisted of three 15-minute sessions under the magic light. Session one passed and was OK. I felt a strange tightening sensation in my teeth, but that was it. Shortly into the second session, I felt a sharp, sudden pain. Have you even bitten into an ice lolly (or popsicles, I believe you call them) with sensitive teeth?

Take that sensation and multiply it 1,000 sodding times. Then imagine it lasting far longer and occurring without warning. I writhed in the chair, tears filling my eyes and the sound of, “Oh FFS,” filling the room.

“That’s the sensitivity I was talking about,” said the dentist, patting me on the arm. I wanted to see how sensitive his mouth would be if I put my fist in it but then another shot of pain made me writhe in agony.

The pain gradually ebbed away. “Be a man,” I thought.

By the end I was no longer thinking about “riding this out.” I wasn’t thinking at all… I was a confused animal. I was not of this Earth and the only thing that I vaguely remember was asking myself what I had done to piss Heidi off that was so bad that she had bought me this trip to hell ……. for Christmas. Maybe piss was the answer. Maybe my urinating occasionally on the toilet seat or over that stupid mat that hugs the bottom of the toilet had resulted in this punishment.

As Brian took the light away and removed the clamp holding my mouth open, he said, “Don’t worry, your teeth will only do that for a little while.”

How little? “About 48 hours,” he said. “I’d take some Ibuprofen if I were you.”

I staggered across the road to the drug store. While begging for Ibuprofen, another tooth went off, which meant I actually asked for “Ibuproaaaaaaaaaaaah” instead. For the rest of the day, I sat at home, demented, oral firecrackers exploding at random intervals.

I contemplated shoving my head into the microwave and ending it all. Anything to make it stop. And the end result was that, yes, my teeth were whiter and I could smile at guests without making them vomit. But two months later and a few more cigars and cups of coffee later, they have lost their sparkle and are back to being 50 shades of brown.

But on Tuesday morning I will head to the dentist and, honestly, I am truly scared, truly terrified and I am not sure I can even go through with it. I’d rather smash my teeth out with a hammer than go to the dentist.

Time for today’s Q and A……………off we trot.

Paula Gomez asks:
Here is my report on my Carnival Magic cruise. The cruise was good – just not the best. It could also be that we’re just not Carnival-type people. We like to dress for dinner and we were the only ones. A Texas thing maybe? One of the best things Carnival has going for them is their mostly excellent staff. We found them to be friendly, courteous, enthusiastic and helpful at all times. Our room steward, Imee, was excellent and we couldn’t have asked for better service from this lovely lady. We had fun but probably are looking at going back to Holland America for next time but Carnival Magic is probably not a bad choice for people who are happy to share their vacation cruise with loud, obnoxious and brash Texans.

John says:
Hello Paula Gomez

I am glad to see that you had a “good” time and I will be making sure that Imee, your stateroom steward, gets the praise she deserves. I also hope we see you again soon and, if not, that you enjoy your cruises on the wonderful ships of Holland America Line.  Best wishes


Andy Landers asks:
Good morning, John! I hope you are feeling better. I have been following you on Facebook

for over a year now and I am really impressed with how you represent Carnival and yourself. My wife and I have fallen in love with cruising. We have yet to be on Carnival as we are trying out all the big cruise lines to see which one we prefer the most. We have found a cruise in which we want to go on. It is on Carnival Breeze in February 2016, going to the Southern Caribbean. One of the things we love about cruising is the laid back atmosphere and love the main dining halls. My “formal attire” consists of a pair of TOMS, dress slacks and a relaxed button up (untucked).  The other nights, I wear a nice pair of linen shorts and a nice polo to match. I have been reading blogs online about my attire being a big “NO NO” on Carnival. Is this true?  Would my attire be sufficient on a Carnival cruise? Thanks and looking forward to trying Carnival out in February! Thanks!


John says:
Hello Andy Landers

Thanks so much for the very kind words and I bid you the warmest welcome to the world of cruising with Carnival. The simple answer is yes, what you described is just fine. The shorts cannot be worn in the dining room on elegant night but what you mentioned you will wear on that night is no problem at all. Your cruise. Your choice. Thanks so much and if there is anything at all I can do, please do let me know. Best wishes.


Tony Gherna asks:
John: Just a question. My wife and I, on our last cruise on Carnival Dream last October, I noticed that the basketball court is surrounded by a net, and I wondered why the mini-golf area didn’t have the same thing. We watched young boys bouncing the golf balls off the ship in Cozumel, I wondered why there was not a net there or any staff or even a camera, just a thought. My wife and family will be on Carnival Conquest in June and I can’t wait, I we love Carnival.

John says:
Hello Tony Ghema

The vast majority of the time the golf balls stay where they are supposed to be so I’m assuming in this case the boys were doing this on purpose which, of course, they should not have done. Obviously there are strict environmental laws about anything going overboard, so we have the nets over the basketball court. The vast majority of the golf balls stay on the putting surface but in this case it appears some naughty boys did the wrong thing (and to be honest this is the first time I’m hearing of such a thing). I hope you have a brilliant time and if there is anything I can do, please let me know. Best wishes.


Andrea Lee asks:
I want to commend a supervisor at the Long Beach cruise port in California. His name is Joseph Rait and was more than helpful, went above and beyond for me, stayed after his shift was over to help and I honestly don’t know what we would have done without him! We booked a cruise for April 19, 2015, get there and, to my surprise, I needed a birth certificate. I’m not sure how I didn’t know that but I missed that. We got held back and were not able to go. Flying in from Idaho I felt stranded with nowhere to go that is until Mr. Rait called Carnival got us on the next ship on 4/20/15, called our airline to get that moved an extra day, called a hotel for us, and helped with transportation. He was a Godsend and a true asset to Carnival. If every business has people like him the sky would be the limit for success!  Please recognize him and ensure he knows how truly thankful we are for having someone as kind and helpful as him. He’s the reason

we will only sail with Carnival from now on!!

John says:
Hello Andrea Lee

I am so very sorry this happened to you and I will, for sure, let Joseph know how much you appreciated his service and his care. I will also make sure his managers know what an asset they have in Joseph. Thanks so much for being kind enough to write and I hope we see you soon.

Best wishes.


Athena Jones asks:
Nothing has declared the real you better than the fact that you admitted that you scorned your daughter for using the word elevator and not for spewing out the word crap!!!!!!!! Lousy dad, lousy brand ambassador!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John says:
Hello Athena Jones

Thank you for sharing your opinion with me. I do the very best I can to be a good father and a good brand ambassador. I realise there are times when I fall short on both but will continue to work hard on both counts. Best wishes.


David asks:
Our recent, much-anticipated cruise vacation to the Southern Caribbean on the Carnival Conquest became a nightmare, a cruise from hell, due to the constant disruption of our sleep at all times by the screaming and crying of a two-year-old in the cabin next door. That “experience” was compounded by the unpleasantness and lack of professionalism of the guest services staff in dealing with what should have been a routine issue. Their attitude, until we created a major incident very late in the cruise, was one of “we-do-not- care, nor can be we do anything about your ruined vacation!” Once we made it clear that their lack of action was totally unacceptable and a public shouting match where the guest services manager participated, we were finally assigned a room where it was possible to actually sleep, with two days remaining on our eight-day cruise. We were also reluctantly “invited” to a dinner and a bottle of wine at the steakhouse, something we would have preferred to do without in the interest of having the problem resolved earlier and in a professional manner. We called them to get them to have the parents stop the baby from crying or to relocate our inconsiderate neighbors. We were told there was no cabins going spare for them to be moved to and were offered earplugs and no compensation. This is no different than having a barking dog every night at the house next door where you would continue to call the police until they do something to quiet it.

John says:
Hello David

I am sorry that you had a crying baby in the cabin next to you and I am sure that the parents were feeling terrible about this situation as well. I will send this to some people for their review and I do hope you still had a wonderful time Apologies again and hope to see you soon. Best wishes.


Bradford Welton asks:
John. Did they stop serving shrimp cocktail at dinner?

John says:
Hello Bradford Welton

No, sir, shrimp cocktail is available every night, so please enjoy. Best wishes


Katrina Ramos asks:
Hi John: My daughter has started a collection of ships on a stick from each new ship we sail on. If she is unable to win one on our upcoming cruise on Carnival Breeze, is there a place on the ship that I could purchase one? Thanks so much! PS. You are an amazing writer and I adore your sense of humor.

John says:
Hello Katrina Ramos

You are very kind indeed. Please send me a note on Facebook (   the day before the cruise with her name and cabin number and I will see what I can do to make her smile. Have a brilliant time. Best wishes.


Angela Baricelli asks:
In reply to the person who was offended by the comedian on your ship that made jokes about Italian Americans, I sympathize and agree. I would have walked out but would have made sure the comedian got a piece of my mind first!!!!! Why did he not treat Italian Americans with the similar sensitivity to that shown to Jewish, African and Native American passengers? Shame on that comedian and on Carnival for not terminating him for what he said.

John says:
Hello Angela Baricelli

When you say “terminate”…….do you mean have the comedian whacked?  Sorry……..too much Sopranos. I can only say again that comedy is subjective and we are never going to shackle our comedians, especially in the uncensored shows. Comedy is very difficult, as I probably just proved with my silly joke, but we have to try and laugh at each other and ourselves as life really is too short not to. Please come and sail with us soon. Best wishes.


Nicole Stewart asks:
Just got off Carnival Pride today for a seven-day cruise to The Bahamas. Traveled with my husband and my two teenage sons, one of whom turned 15 during the cruise. On the second day of the cruise, I stopped at Cherry on Top to order a cake and asked for it to be sent to the dining room on May 2 which was my son’s 15th birthday. I wanted it during dinner since we were traveling with my sister and brother-in-law and cousin and his wife. When I ordered it I made sure to repeat that we wanted it at dinner and she wrote down my cabin number. That worried me, so I said again, not to my room, to dinner and she said yes, she understood. As the week went on others were being sang to during dinner for their birthdays and my son wanted no part of this attention on him, so I was getting more and more excited because I was picturing the excellent wait staff bringing him his cake that he didn’t expect at all. So as the dessert menus came out my husband tries to ask our server without being caught by my son. They had no idea about the cake. This started to upset me. So they called down and the lady had no idea about this! My cousins wife then ran down to the candy store to ask about this and the lady that ran the store could have really cared less and turned her back on cousin’s wife.  Very unapologetic and rude and dismissive about it and my cousins wife asked for a manager and was ignored. She walked out and went to customer service. A manager talked to us at our dinner table and apologized. I have to say that the dining room wait staff went above and beyond and came out with two slices of cake and candles and sang to my son anyway and totally made up for the bad experience. Everyone on your cruise ship works nonstop and is so polite! Everyone except for the lady running the sweet spot! Very rude and if she would have just done what she said she would do the whole situation could have been avoided and my son would have been surprised like I pictured in my mind.

John says:
Hello Nicole Stewart

Well that is disappointing and I am sincerely sorry that somewhere along the line, we dropped the ball. I will investigate this further with the ship’s hotel director. I am very glad that the waiters worked hard to make sure they looked after the situation and I will, for sure, make sure they see your kind words. Please let me know when you cruise again and I will send your son a little something to make sure we make him smile.  Best wishes.


Heidi Doose asks:
Hello John: Happy Sunday to you and yours! I am a happy Carnival cruiser who appreciates all the hard work you and every crew member put forth on each cruise! Thank you for your devotion to righting wrongs and laughing at the ridiculous 🙂  I’m curious if you received the personalized book that I sent to Kye? I sent it in January, after being directed to send it to your office in Miami. I have not heard if it made it safely into your possession. Just a yes or no would truly be appreciated. I hope you both enjoyed my book!

Heidi Doose,

Author, “As the Sun Said Goodnight”

John says:
Hello Heidi Doose

Thank you for writing and I understand from my colleagues that the book is there in Miami waiting for me. I will be back there in July, so will look forward to collecting it and reading it to my daughter. Thanks again for your wonderful kindness and I wish you and your book great success. Best wishes.


Larry Cooper asks:
John: I know it’s early for this question but here goes anyway, will you be on Carnival Vista for her crossing? Thanks,


John says:
Hello Larry Cooper

Yes, indeed, that is confirmed and I look forward to seeing you there. Best wishes.


Simon Yang asks:
I’ve now been on five Carnival cruises and on every cruise there’s been a LGBT or Friends of Dorothy Meeting listed on the Fun Times. There’s always been one listed for every day of the cruise, but my husband and I have never seen any signage or Carnival staff to organize the meeting at the specified spot. There should be staff there to introduce gay and lesbian and trans-gender passengers to each other and provide us with some kind of party. Please consider this as we are a huge market.

John says:
Hello Simon Yang

We do indeed have LGBT meetings listed most nights in the Fun Times. However, we do make this an unsupervised event just as we do other meetings on board. I am sure that you will continue to meet new friends at these gatherings and, if you have any other suggestions on how to make these meetings better, please do let me know Best wishes.


Robert Wolfe asks:
Carnival could and should do more for the gold members in the VIFP program. Suggestions should be sent directly to John Heald. My suggestion would be one free drink on the first and last day on any length trip. My last suggestion would be up to 50 percent off the all you can drink non-alcohol cruise package aka as the “bottomless drinks”. Hopefully you will respond to this message.

John says:
Hello Robert Wolfe

Thank you for taking the time to write. I have read many hundreds of comments about this and I understand the frustration Gold card members feel. One new benefit that we’ve added recently is a complimentary Appreciation Drink coupon valid at any bars or lounges after 5 pm. I hope you will enjoy a cocktail or a specialty coffee and complement this with some great music, a Punchliner comedy show or great conversation with family and new friends. I have added your comment to the others I have sent already to the beards so they understand your thoughts. I do hope we see you soon and I remain here at your service. Best wishes.


That’s it for the questions.

Let’s start with an invite to our VIFP’s for a special hush hush photo project, here is the message from the beards to our Diamond and Platinum members.

“You’ve got experience having our kind of fun… and have the photos to prove it. Post some of those old photos to Instagram or Twitter with #VIFPCarnival or email them by June 10 to

This year, we will be making July 4th a very special night with a huge party on Lido. And while we don’t have fireworks, there will be a brilliant atmosphere on Lido and in the atriums and in the days ahead, I will bring you full details of how you will celebrate your independence from us redcoat wearing British bastards. And if you are on the Carnival Glory for the July 4th cruise then you will notice one of those British bastards on Lido with you…….a chubby, grey haired, bent toothed chap……..yep, I will be there with you on the Carnival Glory for that cruise so I look forward to that very much.

In August, I will be looking to cruise on the Carnival Fantasy from Charleston. I think it is very important that I sail on a Fantasy-class ship as it has been a while since I have and I’m really looking forward to it. Carnival Fantasy was one of the first ships I worked on so lots of great memories there. I also want to sail on the Carnival Sunshine to see a brand new cruise director who will be covering for the incomparable Jaime Dee while she is on vacation. This chap will be new to the company. We are excited he is joining us and I will tell you more when I introduce his bio here soon.

I will also be tying down my schedule to sail on as many Carnival Journeys as I can. I am confirmed already on the Carnival Dream but want to do as many as possible. The first two voyages are on the Carnival Dream in October should you wish to come and join me for what will be two very special cruises with extra special entertainment, events and, of course, our flashback day to 1987.

Remember, embarkation is in both New Orleans and San Juan. I really hope to see you there.

I will on the Carnival Journeys, be hosting lots of the shows and my own favourite events. And I will also hope to do the boat drill or safety briefing which leads me nicely into the subject of, if the words “safety” and “humour” have any right to be in the same sentence together.

It started a couple of years ago with Air New Zealand’s escape from the normal, mostly dreary preflight safety videos then hired the brilliant Richard Simmons in full retro campfest mode to update the instructions on seatbelts, oxygen masks and tray tables that, let’s face it, are largely ignored by many passengers. And now it seems other airlines, like Delta, have hired celebrities, models, dancers, comedians, singers, kids and cartoon characters for their safety videos. Is it then time to put some kind of humour back into our safety briefing?

One of the things I guess I won’t be doing too many more times now that I am not a long-contract CD is the safety briefing and for those of you who have heard my speech in recent months, you will know that I always added some kind of humour. This was done without permission from the beards and sometimes was done to the exasperation of one or two of the captains. But I never had any guest complaints, only compliments and I will also say proudly ……..the crew enjoyed and appreciated it too. The humour was subtle. It was not enough to distract from the important “how to save your life in an emergency” but enough to have the guests laughing.

Now Amber Jones (who it seems enjoys multiple use of punctuation) may be saying, “How do you know the guests were laughing?!??! You were on the bridge you grey-haired chubby idiot, how could you possibly know???????????????” The answer is that not only did the crew tell me the guests laugh but I could see that this was the case on the monitors. Yep, the muster station cameras rely straight to the bridge, so I would always watch you live during the drill.

So what was some of the attempted humour from me? Here are a few examples from my drills last year on the Carnival Miracle in Alaska.

Before I started speaking and while the guests were all at the muster stations I would tell all the gentlemen that “for the purpose of this drill and in accordance with United States Coast Guard regulations, all gentlemen must remove their baseball caps.” And as the TV monitors showed me………….they all did.  And when I told them I was joking, most would laugh……….one or two would mouth extremities.

Then during my description of the lifeboats, when I explained that they all had “adequate supplies of water, food, first aid and signal equipment, ” I would add that “lifeboat number 7 has flat screen HD TVS, a hot tub …………and a Hooters.”

In Alaska, I explained, “Some of you may be concerned about icebergs and having seen that movie with Leonardo De Crapio, you are worried we may hit one” and would then go on to explain that the most dangerous thing to a ship was fire and explain how to avoid that etc.

And, finally, after explaining that the guests were on a moving cruise ship and if they used the stairs they should grasp the handrail in case there was a sudden unexpected movement of the ship. I would immediately follow this with a reminder that guests must wash their hands often and with soap and water to prevent gastro illness. And failure to do so may cause them to have ……… an unexpected movement.

OK, none of the above is brilliant cutting-edge humour but I felt it was humour that was needed to be embedded along with all the very serious and very necessary information  There may be some of you who think there is no place for this. There may even be some of Carnival’s new high visibility jacket-wearing beards who as I write are putting plans together to make sure I am never allowed near a PA system again.

Your safety is the most important aspect of your cruise; it has to be, of course. But if the airlines have realised that to get their passengers attention and to make sure they truly are listening, they have to change, have to include humour or some kind of gimmick, is it wrong for us to do the same on our ships?

Right, time for me to make a phone call to Virgin Atlantic Airlines to offer myself and Megan Fox to make a video warning of the potential dangers of attempting to join the Mile High Club.


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.