Start Your Journey

October 13, 2015 -

John Heald

Good morning from the Carnival Dream and today on our Carnival Journeys cruise, where the ship sits in the harbour of St. Martin or indeed St. Maarten. Yep, you visit this island on your cruise and you will buy one…..get one free. St. Martin happens to be the smallest island on the planet that’s shared by two countries. Two-thirds is called Saint Martin and is in the French Caribbean — all sophistication, fine dining, fashion boutiques and rudeness; and one-third is called Sint Maarten, in the Dutch Antilles — with faster food, noisier nightlife and hair braiding.

Folklore has the bickering Euros divvying up the island with a walking race. A Frenchman and a Dutchman left from the same spot at the same time, one clockwise, the other counter-clockwise — the border would be the straight line from where they started to where they met up on the other side. But one spiked the other’s drink, and the resulting handover by hangover saw France score the lion’s share…………sacre bleu!

There are no hard feelings, though, nor any border guards or formalities at all, for that matter — this is cohabitation, Caribbean-style. One moment you’re buying a baguette for breakfast, the next having a Dutch pancake for lunch. The beaches are all wonderful. The ships dock on the Dutch side and there are public beaches close by. To get to downtown and the public beaches, you can take a stuffy taxi van or hop on the water taxis that for approximately $6 per person will provide an all-day transit from the ships to the beaches and shopping and back again.

Carnival offers beach packages which include lunch and drinks so you may want to check those out. It should be noted that on the French side many of the beaches are clothing optional. Unfortunately, there are no signs telling you this but if you walk on to the beach and see strange “drag marks” in the sand, you will know that naked men are just around the corner or the drag marks could be caused by a pair of retired nipples.


Time for today’s Q and A…………here we go.


Brian asks:

When is Carnival going to have a cruise to Cuba?

John says:

Hello Brian

The first of the Carnival Corporation companies to go there will be our newest brand, Fathom, beginning next year. Cuba’s location is favorable for cruise lines, particularly ones that operate many ships in the Caribbean, however, Carnival Cruise Line is not in a position to begin operating cruises to Cuba at this time. However, it is an interesting opportunity that we are all keeping a close eye on. Best wishes.


Bethany asks:

I am on the Carnival Sunshine. Cannot hide my anger and spite at Carnival for canceling our Bermuda cruise on Sunshine and what do we get — a 25% future cruise offer. DISGUSTING. Carnival knew there was a hurricane but you money grabbers would not give us the chance to cancel and get a full refund. If we had wanted a cruise to St. Thomas, we would have booked that. You have not heard the last of this!!!

John says:

Hello Bethany

I know you wrote this from the ship and the cruise is over now so I apologise for the late reply. I also write in hopes that the disappointment you obviously felt to the hurricane being on the ship’s chartered course. The captain canceled the itinerary for your safety, Bethany, and the safety of everyone else on the ship. We actually received many positive comments about the 25% discount even though Carnival cannot control the far more powerful Mother Nature. So I hope that we have indeed “heard the last of this” because you are able to look back on a great cruise full of fun and brilliant service. Thanks so much and I am here if you need my help or assistance. Best wishes.


Nicole asks:

Hi, John. We just finished our family cruise on Carnival Breeze this morning and had a wonderful time except for one incident concerning the saving or reserving of the cabanas on the Serenity deck. We were up there enjoying the sun for 90 minutes, waiting for a cabana to become available. There was one being saved or reserved and we waited the full 90 minutes, wondering where the individual who was saving the cabana was. All they had on the cushion was a towel and pair of sandals to save the cabana. So, after the 90-plus minutes, I very politely folded the towel, placed the sandals on top of the towel and put them both on a small side table beside the cabana. The owner of the said towel and sandals returned 20 minutes later and was irate and very very rude. Security was called and he was escorted off the deck after he decided to verbally abuse us and nearly assaulted my elderly father who was sitting in the said cabana.  Oh, I should note that security took their sweet time getting up there. That should be noted to the beards. In your opinion, was there a better way to handle this? I thought we had been very respectful of his property and knowing the rules of reserving chairs, felt that we handled things well. Instead, it turned into drama and it did mar our vacation because of this incident. Thanks for your input. Nicole

John says:

Hello Nicole

I am so very sorry that this happened and the most important fact here is that no guest should ever behave like this and I am glad that our security escorted him off the deck. I think the staff should have checked and seen that the reserve time of 40 minutes we allow had passed and they should have removed the towel and I will address this with the management on the ship. I am sorry that this happened and we will work harder on this to make sure it does not happen again

Best wishes.


Cassandra Nelson asks:

Hello: I was wondering if you could tell me when May/June 2017 cruises will be available to reserve?

Thanks, Cassandra

John says:

Hello Cassandra Nelson

You can expect these cruises to start being announced at the start of 2016 and I will keep you informed of all the news. Please let me know if you have any other questions here or on my Best wishes.


Kathleen asks:

People are saying they take hammocks and tie on their balcony, even posted picture. Is this allowed? Seems like it would be a safety issue?

John says:

Hello Kathleen

Thanks for raising this point and allowing me a chance to tell you and everyone reading this that we strictly do not allow this for obvious safety reasons. Anyone seen using a hammock on our ships balconies will have them removed and held until the end of the cruise. Thanks again, Kathleen, and I am here should you have any other questions. Best wishes.


Ramon Rodriguez asks:

Heading out on Carnival Breeze next month. What is the longest we can leave our kids at the Camp Ocean? My wife and myself both have stressful jobs in law enforcement and don’t get to spend time together so we want the twins to have fun at camp so we can chillax. We have anytime dining so I need to know if we go to eat at say, 7:30 p.m.? Wish you guys had 24 hour sitting service.

John says:

Hello Ramon Rodriguez

It sounds like you really do need some “we time” and, provided your children are aged over two years old, we can look after them until 1 am. This is because we have what we call our Night Owls program where they are entertained and looked after by our professional youth staff until 1 a.m. There are charges for this and the youth director will explain all of this at the orientation meeting which is held on embarkation day and which I would suggest you attend. I am sure all of you will have a fantastic cruise and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.


Michael Rossi asks:

John: You are awesome. Sending our two children a ship on a stick each made them feel so special. I cannot thank you enough, you are a wonderful man. The children had a blast, us adults enjoyed delicious beverages by the pool, Dr. Seuss created special memories, we received a preview of the next season’s spectacular Welcome Show…. Food was amazing….. I could go on …….A memory for our entire family was made and a love for cruising with Carnival has begun, as most had never sailed before. Thank you, Carnival, and thank you, John. The Carnival Freedom and your incredible staff rock!!!!

John says:

Hello Michael Rossi

What a brilliant review and I thank you so very much for taking the time to write it. I am so glad the kids had fun and enjoyed the Dr. Seuss program and indeed those trophies. I will pass on your kind words to the ship and they will be thrilled. I hope we see you all again soon and if you need anything please let me know. Best wishes.


Christian Fowler asks:

Veganism is a philosophical belief and principle of conscience. American human rights law does include respect for the beliefs of vegans and you are breaking that law. Vegans are entitled to a standard of living adequate for their health and well-being, including food. Carnival is breaking that law and you, Heald, are a bully. You may still mock me for the choices I’ve made but I am not breaking American law — you are!!!!!! And I am not the one who is obese and unhealthy am I???? Look in the mirror!!

John says:

Hello Christian Fowler

I am not sure what laws I may have broken and, if you felt I “mocked” you, I apologise. We have worked hard to improve our vegan choices and I hope you and other vegans will come on the ship, have fun and experience all that is a Carnival cruise. Best wishes.


Don Curry asks:

Became a Platinum member during Carnival’s grace period change from # of cruises to # of days, will be at 23 cruises by the end of this year! Do I become Diamond at the 25th cruise or do i have to wait till the 200 day rule?

John says:

Hello Don Curry

I am afraid you would have to wait for the 200th cruise day. We did not offer Diamond prior to the new program so you will have to wait a while longer. Thanks so much for your loyalty and I hope we see you soon and that Diamond card becomes yours. Best wishes.



That’s all for today and thanks to everyone for your contributions here on the blog.


So here I am back on a ship again and this will be the longest time I have been on board at one time since I was on the Carnival Legend in Alaska. And on these Carnival Journeys cruises,Top of Form 1

I have sort of been a bit of a cruise director again and I have enjoyed that very, very much.

A year or so ago, I handed in my badge, and, I must admit at first it was a bit of a shock. For more than 25 years being a cruise director had been my life, completely. It was an all-consuming entity and I loved my job with a passion. I loved it like my own child, which in many ways it was until my daughter Kye came along. But then, one day, I was in a cruise director conference on the Carnival Breeze and I realised it was time to give my job to someone else. I felt sick the day I told the then Vice President of Entertainment and my great friend Adrian Fisher (now VP at Princess Cruises) and the recently departed Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations (now with …..well, who cares) that I was going to hang my cruise director hat up because being a cruise director had been everything to me. I woke every morning worrying about every single joke, announcement and worrying about every single guest. And I went to bed at night worrying that the jokes, announcements and conversations I had during the day were bad choices and may have upset someone. Friends would talk to me when we were out and, though I could see their lips moving, my mind was always on the job. I was comfortably numb.

But I knew the time had come when the new job description came out and it included words like “energy, wobble, dance, always out, morning, noon, night, dollar dollar dance, deck parties, nightclub and free hugs” ………….yep, I was doomed and I seriously contemplated retirement, saying goodbye to the company I loved and one I had given the best years of my life to. But what the hell would I do?

Golf? Really? Walk around some grass in a pair of shoes with spikes on them wearing a pair of ridiculous trousers? No sodding way.

Tennis? Not at my age because before I become any good, my ankles will explode and my ears will fill up with hair.

Fishing? Ummmmmm. I’m not certain, when you’ve spent 25 years bringing out new ships and standing on stage making hundreds of people laugh that I can fill the hole by sitting on the bank of a river, in the rain trying to catch a fish.

At my age then I am in a limbo land where time is simultaneously with you and against me. I am too young to put my feet up but too old to start anything new, which is why I have made a decision. I had lost my first love, being a cruise director but I shall create another and so my current job was born.

What is it? Well it’s social media, it’s being here and on for you and it’s helping people have the best of times, the best of fun on our ships. And it’s a job that thanks to Christine and the beards that occasionally allows me to pick up a microphone and relive the glory days, something I hope to do many more times in the years ahead.

Well, it has been a wonderful Carnival Journeys cruise so far and I have met loads of great people and lots of crew I have not seen in years. The guests have loved these longer voyages and I am sure that all our Journeys cruises will be as superb as this one has been.

Yep, I have met many guests who I have gotten to know over the years and the ladies have hugged and even kissed me. But they are not alone. In America, the handshake goodness knows why, but when you have known a guest for some time a handshake is considered to be a bit formal. So what the male guest does now is take me in his arms and give him me almighty bear hug. The trouble is that you don’t know when in your relationship this will happen: you shake hands with someone for maybe a year and then, one day, he bats your greeting away, envelops you and gives you this giant hug.

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So here I am, still with Carnival and still loving the job, loving life and appreciating the hundreds of photos I take with guests and the kind words I receive from them. My diet continues and my lifestyle is now set for the rest of my life but I still am enjoying some of the naughty things in life. I know I could pack in the cigars and banish all red meat; I could deprive myself of all the things that make my life fun — but life later on will not be the same as it is now. There will be arthritis and leakage and pain and disability and, one day, I could walk onto a stage on one of our ships and not know why I’m there or what I am supposed to say.

But until then, I will keep doing what I do, writing, helping, performing and reminding everyone just how brilliant a Carnival cruise is. The world we live in is full of fantastic places full of people you want to meet and things you would like to experience and things you simply must experience. There are places to go and things to do and stuff you would like to try. But your time here is extremely short, so why not cruise with us now, why wait? If you do, you are depriving yourself of a memory. You are wasting an opportunity. You are making a life that could be bright and vivid and full of fun simply beige and dreary.

Oh and please never say no to anything. Except kale……….obviously.

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Your friend,

JohnBottom of Form 1


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.