It’s not like me to start one of my blogs by being serious and not mentioning my dangly bits or moaning about the state of the world but today I feel I need to.

There have been a lot of comments on my Facebook page about our decision to have bottles of alcohol purchased from the shops on board or in the ports of call returned to guests on debarkation morning. The reason we’re doing this is pretty straightforward. Since we are not able to monitor the consumption of alcohol on the last night of the cruise – which can potentially impact the safety and well-being of all of our guests – we will distribute liquor purchased ashore and from the Fun Shops on the last morning of the cruise. While this may feel to some like an action we are taking to generate more revenue, the reality is just the opposite. Our overall changes to our beverage policy are not expected to result in any additional revenue in the end.

Now don’t get me wrong, I totally understand your concerns because, after all, debarkation day is a day that everyone already dreads. The cheery voice of the cruise director who tells you it’s time to say goodbye. The line to get off the ship and then the line to present your passport to U.S. Customs & Border Protection and then that sad journey home as you cling to the memories of fun, food and brilliant friendly service. So to add an extra step to go through on debarkation morning has some of you upset, and I get it, I really do. And the beards get it, too, believe me.

But please, everyone, let us at least try this first. Let the crew work as hard as they always do and let them make the collection of your liquor go as smoothly as possible. If it does, tell me please. If it does not, tell me that, as well, and I will pass your comments and concerns along to be beards. Either way, we have to try this first to see if it will work. I know change is difficult for some and I am happy to remain your pin cushion, glad to have you vent to me and happy to receive the harshest of comments.

Time for today’s Q & A, or as it should be called today, “John Gets A Bollocking” ……………. away we go.

Beverley Munn asks:
I read that Carnival intentionally keeps lines long, tendering processes slow, and rooms unavailable to keep demand for Faster to the Fun high. Is this true?

John says:
Hello Beverley Munn

Ahhhh, conspiracy theories, you have to love them. This is absolutely not true. We only sell approximately 15 cabins for Faster to the Fun and they sell out virtually every cruise weeks in advance. So please, wherever you “read” this, would you let the author know this is incorrect. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

Susan Ellis asks:
John: I researched information on my 11-day cruise on Carnival Dream, about room 8475. Only thing I could find, was a negative post about the black soot on the balcony, and how it covered the chairs and anything else out there! Also, the carpet was dirty due to the soot! Please let me know if this is an accurate problem with the room I have chosen!

Thanks,

Susan

John says:
Hello Susan

I am glad that you have written to me so I can set your mind at ease. The cabin you have chosen is a wonderful cabin on a superb ship. I have no doubts you will have the most wonderful time and please do ask me if you have any other questions or need my help. Best wishes.

John

Troy Powell asks:
Hi John: My family and I are sailing on Carnival Legend in late June.  Any idea when the Hub App will be rolled out onto Carnival Legend?  Thanks!!

John says:
Hello Troy Powell

All though the Fun Hub app is doing brilliantly and proving very popular on the Carnival Breeze I am afraid it won’t be on Carnival Legend in time for your cruise. I do wish you the most super time cruising Alaska and, if there is anything I can do for you please do ask me. Best wishes.

John

Claire Grogan asks:
I so agree with Paulette when she says you have a vendetta against us vegans. You need to realize that there is a trend towards making more compassionate food choices, as people realise they can thrive nutritionally on a plant-based diet. A study showed the number of vegans doubled in 2014. If this trend continues, along with the environmental pressures and human health interests, our food industry is quickly heading in a new direction. The damage animal agriculture is doing to our ecosystem, and the rate it is depleting our supplies of fresh water and other resources is causing some scientists to predict the world’s population will have to switch to a plant-based diet by 2020 as a meat and dairy diet is simply unsustainable. Studies show that animal agriculture is responsible for 50 percent of global warming as well as deforestation, soil erosion and oceans so polluted with billions of tons of animal feces pouring into them that large dead zones are appearing where nothing can grow. I want Carnival to start expanding your range of choices suitable for the hundreds of vegans who cruise your ships and maybe then this will encourage more of your customers to do the right thing and become vegan too!!

John says:
Hello Claire Grogan

I truly have no problems with people wanting to be vegans but to me I think there’s still room for all sorts of diets, both vegan and non-vegan alike. Carnival respects, as do I, the choice to be a vegan and we have certainly improved our vegan options in recent times. If you have suggestions on other ways we can improve with specific menu items please do tell me and I will make sure the chef sees them. Thank you for speaking your mind and allowing me to do also. Best wishes.

John

Jenna asks:
John: I’ve been sailing with Carnival for a while now. I think my first cruise was… well, I know we did the Big Red Boat, and I remember in 1999 we did the Carnival Sensation (I think), but I honestly couldn’t tell you which the first one was. I was really only a kid – maybe eight or nine. But I’ve been very blessed. My parents loved to cruise, and sometimes they even liked to take me along – they took me on nine cruises as a child, up until I was in high school. I wasn’t able to join them in college, as those years weren’t great with the economy, and money was tighter than before. But now, I’m a proper adult with a proper job, and I can afford to take my own vacations.

I was able to convince my partner, my terrified-to-swim girlfriend who was convinced the best vacation was a very dry one, to go on a quick four-day cruise in 2013 so I could catch up with my mom and dad and finally be Platinum before the rules changed on me. (They are probably on their 30th Carnival cruise by now!) I’m so glad we did. We had such a good time, and the little touches of love and appreciation shown by Carnival were such extra cherries on top of a delicious ice cream-y good vacation. (Tell the beards! We love the priority boarding – we’ve decided that, as long as that’s a perk, we’ll never cruise with anyone else. It makes us feel safe, as young adults traveling alone, and very, very special and appreciated.)

Our next cruise is longer, an eight-day on Carnival Sunshine. It’s a special cruise for me. The Carnival Destiny was my parents’ honeymoon cruise, and Carnival Sunshine is where I want to propose to my girlfriend. (I’d ideally like to marry her on Carnival Vista in Europe, but, hey, she has to say yes first!) John, I am just a girl who wants to ask her princess to marry her. I’m not a millionaire, or a celebrity, or even a Diamond cruiser… But I know you care about people, and I hope maybe you’ll care about love. I don’t even know what I’m asking for here, but I’m hoping maybe you can help me in some little way… make this cruise unforgettable. Do you think you could find it in your heart to help me make her dreams come true??

John says:
Hello Jenna

What a wonderful story and it would be my pleasure to help you with the proposal and make those dreams come true. Please would you contact me on my facebook.com/facebook page two days before the cruise and I will speak with the cruise director and, between us, we shall see what we can do. Thank you for sharing your story and I wish you both many years of happiness together. Best wishes.

John

Linda Bailey asks:
Hi John: I recently spent 33 days on Carnival Triumph in February and March.  I noticed that in the casino, the smoke was not as bad as other ships I have sailed on even during the 12-day Premier Club cruise. Carnival Triumph casino had several air filters that were filtering and recycling the air. It really helped keep the smoke level down.  I mentioned how helpful they were to Carlos, the senior executive casino host, and he was going to pass on the positive feedback. That said, with all the controversy on the smoke in the casino, are there plans to put these filters in all the ships casinos? I, for one, would really appreciate it.  Thanks for looking into this or passing it along to the beards.  And thanks for all that you and your brilliant staff of cruise directors do to make every sailing an enjoyable one!  I appreciate your consideration.

Linda Bailey

John says:
Hello Linda Bailey

I hope you had a wonderful time on the ship and may I thank you for spending your valuable vacation days with us. I agree that some of the ships have better ventilation in the casinos than other ships do, so this is very useful information. I will be passing this to all the right people and hopefully we can duplicate what the Carnival Triumph does. Thanks again and I do hope we see you soon. Best wishes.

John

Chad Lee asks:
Good afternoon, I just came off of the Carnival Freedom May 2-9. We had Joseph from the Philippines for our waiter in the main dining room. I wanted to give this individual a compliment. He went above and beyond to make sure that we have the best experience possible. He took out the time to get to know us and remembered our names. People like this make the vacation even more enjoyable. Please make sure this gets back to management. Thank you.

John says:
Hello Chad

I will indeed and thank you so much for taking the time to write. I will make sure that not only Joseph sees this but his managers do as well. They will all be thrilled. I hope you had a brilliant time and that we see you again very soon. Best wishes.

John

Robin Ellis asks:
Dear John: I am a Platinum cruiser (in the future, but I always wanted to write that! No complaints at all. I go on vacation to have fun, not to worry about what other people wear or do! I do need some advice, though. My daughter will be getting married on Carnival Triumph in June. We’ve all cruised before, and we are blessed that she has invited all of us to cruise along with them! Carnival’s wedding coordinator and information is very thorough, and it seems like everything will be taken care of. As a mom planning her daughter’s wedding, though, I want to make sure it goes off as smoothly as possible! Do you or your fans have any tips for Carnival weddings? What can we do, think about, plan for, or bring to make this the best day of her life? We’ve been on several Carnival cruises as a group but not for such a special event! Oh, and we’ll try not to bother other people, but if we do, they should either join the party or vacation in their closet, away from everyone in the world! Thank you!

John says:
Hello Robin Ellis

I want to thank you for sharing this most important of days for you and your family with us at Carnival and I know my colleagues on the ship will make sure it all goes superbly well. Please let me know the happy couple’s cabin number the day before the cruise on my facebook.com/johnheald page if you can and I will be sending your kind words to all the right people. Thanks so much. Best wishes to all.

John

Georgie Marino asks:
Hi John: OMG. I have not chatted with you in a while.  I’m a little confused.  I’m getting occasional emails with questions directed to you, but never see a response.   Should I assume that you are no longer answering questions/doing your “bloggy” thing???? Please let me know

Love and kisses.

Georgie Marino

John says:
Hello Georgie Marino

It is good to hear from you and I hope this reply finds you well. I have been away from the blog for a while but it’s good to be writing again. Now, I am guessing you opted in to receive notifications, so you are seeing the comments people post to the blog. If so you can choose to cancel that on your notifications. I am back writing blogs twice a week and answering as many questions as I can, so I am here if you need me. Best wishes.

John

Kelli asks:
Could you tell me if Carnival Triumph is getting the new menus, and, if so, when?  We are sailing on July 9 and I am curious what menus I should start salivating over 🙂

John says:
Hello Kelli

Right now the ship doesn’t have the American Table/American Feast menus just yet but we will let you know when they do. Please let me know if you have any other questions and have a wonderful cruise. Best wishes.

John

Kim asks:
Sailing on Carnival Conquest June 13. Will the new Wi-Fi package be available on Carnival Conquest by then? Are the new menus on Carnival Conquest?

John says:
Hello Kim

The ship is not scheduled to get the new Internet programs until July, I am afraid. Please don’t worry, you will have the best of times I am sure and let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

John

Anthony Redwood asks:
As a platinum cruiser I am in a state of shock. Carnival has banned us from bringing our own water on the ship. Are you kidding me? Carnival is making money from us who have spent thousands of $$$$$$$$ to get to Platinum. There should be a rule that allows Platinums to still bring their water. I know you give us free water but my wife and I only drink the Dasani brand of water and you don’t sell that. Your records will show that we are cruising again on Carnival Victory in September and again twice in 2016. You need to re-think this one and make a quick change before your passengers do!!

John says:
Hello Anthony Redwood.

The most important part of my reply is to thank you for your loyalty and I am sure despite the disappointment of our new water rule, you will continue to look at the fun you have had and the fun that is still here waiting for you. Although there is a perception that this is being done to make money, the reality it’s being done to enhance guest safety and avoid delays in embarkation. With the new water regulations we do not anticipate any increase in revenue as a result of this policy change, particularly given the significant reduction in price we have instituted for 12 packs of bottled water. Plus, as you mentioned, as platinum VIFP you get free bottled water from us anyway. So I hope that gives some perspective on what this is all about and I am here if you wish to address any other concerns. I do hope we see you soon. Best wishes.

John

And that’s all we have time for today. Thank you all for your comments and questions

It is good to see that, as we unveil more entertainment options and new shows that there is one area of entertainment that remains so very popular. I am, of course, talking about the piano bar and the brilliant entertainers who work there. Here is their latest schedule.

Carnival Breeze

6/14/2015        6/28/2015         Jeremy Ray Borders

6/28/2015       8/23/2015         Jonathan Thompson

8/23/2015       9/20/2015         Robert Berhalter

9/20/2015       11/15/2015       John Gregson

11/15/2015      1/10/2016         Jonathan Thompson

Carnival Conquest

5/10/2015        7/4/2015           Tom Grable

7/4/2015          8/31/2015         Milburn Dumas

9/5/2015          10/31/2015       Jeremy Ray Borders

10/31/2015      12/6/2015         William Brawner

12/6/2015        2/6/2016           Kenneth Giordano

Carnival Dream

4/12/2015        8/23/2015         Barry Henricus Meijer

8/23/2015        9/20/2015         Michael O’Quinn

9/20/2015        9/27/2015         Ron Passalacqua

9/27/2015        10/25/2015       William Brawner

10/25/2015      2/7/2016           Matias Nahuel Sanchez

Carnival Ecstasy

5/4/2015          6/29/2015         Jorge Ramirez

6/29/2015        8/24/2015         Matias Nahuel Sanchez

8/24/2015        10/19/2015       Stephen Dooks

10/19/2015      12/14/2015       Roger Concepcion

Carnival Elation

6/13/2015        8/13/2015         James Steven Finn

8/13/2015        10/8/2015         Patrick Duffy

10/8/2015        12/3/2015         Zdrazko Spassov

Carnival Fantasy

4/27/2015        6/20/2015         Elizabeth Setzer

6/20/2015        8/15/2015         Deborah Macaluso

8/15/2015        10/11/2015       Robert Crucilla

10/11/2015      12/5/2015         Kenneth Giordano

12/5/2015        2/1/2016           Reynold Senn

Carnival Fascination

3/28/2015        7/18/2015         Roger Concepcion

7/18/2015        9/17/2015         Tom Grable

9/17/2015        11/12/2015       Tom Grable

11/12/2015      1/7/2016           Christopher Porcelli

Carnival Freedom

5/16/2015        6/20/2015         Timothy Lyles

6/20/2015        7/18/2015         Robert Berhalter

7/18/2015        11/16/2015       Anthony Ward

Carnival Glory

5/16/2015        7/11/2015         Daniel Christopher Schnatter

7/11/2015        8/1/2015           John Gregson

8/1/2015          9/5/2015           Martin Lucas Vince

9/5/2015          10/3/2015         James Steven Finn

10/3/2015        11/28/2015       Elizabeth Setzer

Carnival Imagination

4/2/2015          6/18/2015         Mark Johnson

6/18/2015        9/3/2015           Todd Fugate

9/3/2015          11/19/2015       Timothy Lyles

11/19/2015      1/10/2016         Mark Skowronek

Carnival Inspiration

4/27/2015        7/13/2015         Patrick Duffy

7/13/2015        9/28/2015         Elizabeth Setzer

9/28/2015        12/14/2015       Hailey Morgan Wiebe

Carnival Legend

5/18/2015        6/30/2015         Christine Hetfield

6/30/2015        8/25/2015         Adam Sayer

8/25/2015        9/15/2015         Mark Johnson

9/15/2015        12/1/2015         Adam Sayer

12/1/2015        12/20/2015       Christine Hetfield

Carnival Liberty

6/14/2015        8/30/2015         Jordan Heppner

8/30/2015        11/15/2015       Peter James Thompson

11/15/2015      1/10/2016         Jorge Ramirez

Carnival Magic

5/10/2015        6/28/2015         Jeffrey Abbott

6/28/2015        8/16/2015         Timothy Lyles

8/16/2015        11/1/2015         Greg Alcock

11/1/2015        12/13/2015       Michael O’Quinn

Carnival Miracle

5/16/2015        7/11/2015         Peter James Thompson

7/11/2015        8/29/2015         Jeremy Ray Borders

8/29/2015        10/17/2015       Roger Concepcion

10/17/2015      12/13/2015       Benjamin Tyler Gentry

Carnival Paradise

5/30/2015        8/13/2015         Hailey Morgan Wiebe

8/13/2015        9/28/2015         Gustavo Garcia

9/28/2015        1/14/2016         Robert Berhalter

Carnival Pride

4/26/2015        6/21/2015         Anthony Ward

6/21/2015        8/16/2015         Christopher Porcelli

8/16/2015        10/11/2015       Andre Mieux

10/11/2015      12/6/2015         Todd Fugate

Carnival Sensation

4/23/2015        6/18/2015         Gustavo Garcia

6/18/2015        10/8/2015         Agustin Villarin

10/8/2015        12/3/2015         Gustavo Garcia

Carnival Spirit

5/27/2015        6/30/2015         Kristilee Ransley

6/30/2015        8/16/2015         Jade Leonard

8/30/2015        10/14/2015       Benjamin Tyler Gentry

Carnival Splendor

6/17/2015        9/6/2015           Edmond Holz

9/6/2015          11/22/2015       Christine Hetfield

Carnival Sunshine

5/29/2015        8/21/2015         James Sullivan

8/21/2015        10/10/2015       Craig Quiter

10/10/2015      1/24/2016         Agustin Villarin

Carnival Triumph

4/25/2015        7/9/2015           Michael O’Quinn

7/9/2015          9/26/2015         Scott Casey

9/26/2015        12/10/2015       Barry Henricus Meijer

Carnival Valor

6/6/2015          7/25/2015         Martin Aucoin

7/25/2015        9/19/2015         Reynold Senn

9/19/2015        11/14/2015       Mark Johnson

11/14/2015      1/9/2016           Robert Crucilla

Carnival Victory

6/4/2015          8/22/2015         Zdrazko Spassov

8/22/2015        11/5/2015         David Lovett

11/5/2015        1/9/2016           Tom Wolf

As always, I hope you will send me your feedback and tell me which of the names above made your cruise even more superb with their mixture of music, song, audience engagement and, of course, fun. My thanks to all of them for their dedication.

I am getting very excited about my visit to the Carnival Vista on June 24. On June 25 I will be hosting the coin ceremony with a special guest and I will have a video here for you that night so you can see your ship and the ceremony itself.

This will definitely whet my appetite for our return to Europe and, even though I will not be the cruise director, (we will announce who that will be soon) I will be on the ship a lot and will also host the first cruises travel talks so I can share my knowledge of the ports that I have gleaned over the seven seasons I was there. And in the weeks and months ahead, I will be talking about the glorious wonders of the ports of call that make these destinations some of the most incomparable in the world. However, one subject that I want to stress is that, as we discovered on previous Europe seasons, is the so-called “pirate” excursion industry that has manifested itself in Italy, Spain, Greece and other ports of call. I remember a tour operator who had parked its buses on the pier in Civitavecchia (Rome) and picked up some guests who had made arrangements via the internet to provide an excursion around the city.

Just as guests were boarding, the police arrived and escorted the buses and the guests to the police station where the company involved was fined thousands of euros. Of course, the guests lost their excursion and the money they paid to see the Vatican and other sites. The police asked the guests to get off the buses, but some of them refused to do so. The officers then escorted the five busses to the police station, with the guests who had refused to cooperate, so that further investigations could be made. The guests were asked to give their personal details and explain how they had booked and paid for the tour. The police brought charges against the tour operator on account of their failure to comply with port security regulations and false advertising.

And that was their day in Rome completely ruined and there have been similar concerns in other European ports. I know there will be skeptics that think that I am saying this just to get you to buy shipboard excursions…..well…….bloody right I am! European laws are massively strict about what companies can come on to port property and it is very important we get the word out to everyone that it is our recommendation that you book your excursions through the cruise line.

The companies we use have been completely vetted and have all the necessary documents to avoid what was a distressing day for those guests whose excursion buses were escorted to the police station. There is no better word for these companies than pirates and trying to save a few dollars by using one of these companies will no doubt result in a day to forget……rather than a day to remember. You have flown a long way to get to Europe so why not have the same comfort and assurance that you feel from the crew of the Carnival Vista extended to your full day of seeing some of the most amazing places in the world? The European tours for your Carnival Vista will be available on line very soon and I will always be available here and on my facebook.com/johnheald page to help answer any questions you may have.

And now a trip down memory lane. I still remember that when I was a cruise director on the ships and I used to smoke my Monte Cristo Edmundo in the cigar bars, I would get looks of pure hatred and utter amazement from guests as though I was sitting there naked with a baby yak on my lap. And this brings me to my hero. While Prime Minister Cameron and President Obama may be thought by some to be excellent politicians, they are somewhat boring, just my opinion, but that’s what I think. Imagine then if we had someone like Winston Churchill in power today. A cigar smoker. A big, big drinker. A man given to saying what he felt in parliament with great quotes like, “I may be drunk, miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly.” Brilliant!

But sadly a politician like this, under the glare of the paparazzi and the press…he wouldn’t last a week. But if he were running for office today, in 2015, he would never be elected and would probably be arrested for speaking his mind as he did back when he gave those epic speeches.

It is so easy these days to upset someone as you will shortly see in today’s Q & A session. You can be ostracized by your neighbors for putting your refuse in the wrong-colored trash can, you can have your car vandalized if it has four-wheel drive and doesn’t have the word Hybrid on it, and yelling at your child after he has super-glued his sister’s face to the television is guaranteed to get you 10 years hard labor and a spot on Dr. Phil’s show.

As senior cruise director and brand ambassador, I have to not smoke my cigars in public and watch what joke I write here and on Facebook in case I offend anyone of any age, any sex, any religion, any creed, any color, any nationality, any height, any weight, of any …… well …….. thing. It’s bloody hard. That’s why, when I am on vacation, I smoke a cigar every day and tell all the jokes I could never tell on the ship to my wife and my friends.

There is, obviously, a time and a place for it but I do worry that naughty behavior is being erased from society, and that, unless the trend can be reversed, somehow we’ll all have to go through life like those Stepford Wives……..robotic and all programmed to do the right thing all the time. But I will not give in; I will fight on in the name of fun because laughter is a brilliant antidote to the stresses and worries of everyday life…..suddenly, I feel all Churchilian

We shall go on to the end, we shall laugh on the ship, we shall laugh on the seas and oceans, we shall laugh with growing confidence and growing strength, we shall defend our right to laugh, whatever the cost may be. We shall laugh on Carnival Fantasy, we shall laugh on Carnival Breeze, we shall laugh at ourselves and with others, we shall laugh when we want to about what we want to. We shall never surrender the fun.

I wrote that in my underpants and with a large cigar in my mouth, just like Winston Churchill.

Goodnight.

Your friend,

John

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.