More John Heald: Carnival’s Wayfaring Wag (2)

You will recall last post I promised . . . or was it threatened . . that John and I would be back with more stimulating questions and scintillating answers.  Since I would rather ride bareback on a porcupine in my skivvies than mislead my esteemed readers, here we both are in all our fulgent glory.  John’s glory , at least, is fulgent.  I fear mine, if I ever had any, is starting to fray around the edges.

If you haven’t yet checked out John’s blog, you really need to stop by.  The great thing John Heald Carnival Cruise Senior Cruise Directorabout John’s role with Carnival is that his interaction with all manner of guests provides pretty much a non-stop stream of amusing and sometimes head-scratching anecdotes.  One of his recent posts “We won . . . You Didn’t ….NAR NAR NA NAR NAR”  is a prime example.  Some guests are simply a little obtuse.  Then there are this pair.

John, welcome back to Backroom Banter.

Q.  Is it true that Carnival is hosting a “Bloggers Cruise” next January and can you think of a great travel agency to recommend to book it?   Let me know if you need a hint!

A.  Yes indeed, this is Bloggers Cruise 6 and will be held on the Carnival Breeze on January 19. We will visit great ports like Antigua and St. Thomas plus there will be private shows, events and prizes for all as we get together to enjoy our love of Carnival cruising and fun. I hope many can join me.  Last bloggers cruise I was joined by 450 guests and there is one agency that guests should book with if they want to join us and that of course is Travel Leaders / Main Street Travel.  They are the best and they also give free lollipops and a photo of me in the above mentioned underpants. I really hope to see you there.

Q.  What are some of the dumbest questions you have been asked on your blog or otherwise, not counting these little gems of course.   

A.  The list of these questions is endless and ranges from “How will I know which photos are mine? to “Can you recommend a good brothel in Rome?” The rest will appear in my book.

Q.  If someone wants to cruise with you, how would they go about that?  Or conversely, if someone wants to be sure not to cruise with you (a huge mistake, we would both agree), is that an option?

A.  Well I publish the cruise director schedule on-line on my blog. We are the only cruise line to do this I think and it is interesting to see how many guests want to know who their cruise director will be. I hope people will come and see me on the Carnival Breeze for Bloggers Cruise 6 and then next year I will be on Carnival Legend as we do some of my favourite cruising around the Baltic, British Islands and Norwegian fjords. Check with a good TA and they will tell you more …………… I have one particular travel agent in mind.

Q.  John, you have been an incredibly good sport.  For this last question, I want a straightforward answer (assuming either one of us is constitutionally capable of that).   What should consumers know about the Carnival Magic when choosing their next vacation?

A.  Carnival Magic is one of my favourite ships and was from the moment I helped deliver her last year. This is for many reasons and includes the vibrant décor, the brilliant spaces,Carnival Cruise Lines Magic including the RedFrog Pub (one of my favourites) and the shows, food and the ports. The crew is magnificent and these reasons are why she has been constantly rated in the top three ships in the fleet. If you have not sailed her you have missed out, she truly is Magic. Thanks so much for allowing me some time here with you, mate, and my best to you and all your clients and if there is anything I can do for them or you please let me know. Cheers!

John, thanks so much for a fantastic interview.  A special thanks is due for your kind words about our travel agency.  I must say you delivered those particular lines precisely the way I wrote them!  (Just a little blog humor, dear reader.)   I hope you have enjoyed this first installment of Backroom Banter.  I have several other fascinating luminaries clamoring to be next . . . if you can call arm-twisting acquiescence clamoring.

Take our little poll below!

John Heald: Carnival’s Wayfaring Wag (1)

A wag, according to dictionary.com is a person given to droll, roguish or mischievous humor; a wit.  What better way to inaugurate the first installment of Backroom BanterInterview than to introduce you to someone, if you haven’t stumbled across him already, whose occasionally ribald and frequently irreverent sense of humor has caused me more than one audible chuckle in inappropriate settings?  I strongly suggest you never read his blog in a library, during your sentencing hearing or in a church pew!

His name is John Heald and this brief self-introduction from the “Meet John” page on his wildly popular blog www.JohnHealdsBlog.com should suffice to acquaint you with the gravitas and solemnity which permeates his entire blog.

He writes, “I started this blog when a lady called Stephanie said “Oh John, please write a blog, it will only be for a week and won’t take up much of your time.” That was back in 1492 and here I am still writing in the same pair of underpants. I am Carnival’s Senior Cruise Director and Brand Ambassador, and I am here to share my life with you in all its boring and sometimes toilet-based glory.”

If you think my “Fool Disclosure” page is a little weird (and that does seem to be the general consensus among my readers), you should check out John’s “Disclaimer Thingy”.   John’s 15,000,000 views and counting make my page views look like a rounding error.   When you consider he began blogging, by his own admission, in 1492 and my humble blog is still swaddled in a preemie blanket, it is probably juvenile of me to be gripped by this insane blog envy I’m feeling.   I ask you, dear reader, would it be too much to ask for John to loan me, say, half-a-million page views until I get on my feet?   He would never miss them.  Heck, that’s just a couple of good weeks for John.

But enough about my own fragile psyche.  Let’s catch up with John and see what he the heck he is up to these days.

Q.  John, tell us a little about your upbringing.   Have you managed to squelch that ugly rumor knocking about (no pun intended) that you are the illegitimate love child of John Cleese and Margaret Thatcher?

A.  I was a cesarean baby which is why every time I get out of the car I go through the sun roof. OK, after that stupid joke I should say that I have been very lucky. I worked as a commodities broker and for Lloyd’s of London in England. Then In 1987 and much to the distress of my parents I answered a magazine (remember magazines?) article for cruise ship staff and began working for Carnival Cruise Lines as a bar waiter. I did not know the difference between a Pina Colada and a Slippery Nipple so the beards gave me a microphone instead and told me to be a social host. From there I became a cruise director in 1991 and senior cruise director in 2004. I was recently given the title of Brand Ambassador, as well. I am one lucky sod! I was a huge Thatcher supporter and Cleese is my idol so that is actually a compliment.

Q.  What was your first job with Carnival and in which century was that exactly?

A. I flew from Heathrow to Miami in 1987 to take up the position of bar waiter on the cruiseJohn Heald of Carnival Cruise Lines' Facebook Page ship Holiday. When I landed I had to find my own way to a hotel which was called the Colonial Hotel. It made a Turkish prison look like the Ritz. I was there three nights waiting for the ship to arrive in Miami and it took every bit of my will power not to leave. But that Saturday the MS Holiday arrived and on I went. My training as a bar waiter was intense. The bar manager gave me a tray, a pair of white gloves for formal night and said “go and serve drinks.” That was it. How things have changed today and I am proud to think that I am still probably the worst bar waiter Carnival ever had.

Q.  Would you describe a typical day in the life of John Heald?  Reader alert:  If references to a grown man working in his underwear are apt to make you queasy, skip to the next question.

A.  It sounds like a cliché but there really isn’t a typical day. With 4,000 different guests on board the Carnival Breeze each cruise there are new challenges each day. However I do mix my day between managing 70 staff, 4,000 guests, writing a blog, answering an average of 50 Facebook questions a day and most importantly being on stage and out with the guests which is still my favourite thing to do by far. One of the reasons I keep going is that no day is really the same and you never know what is round the corner……..and yes…..I blog best when I am dressed only in my XXL Marks And Spencers underpants.

To Be Continued . . .

As a shameless ploy to lure you back to this highbrow discussion, I am postponing the rest of my Q&A for John until my next post.  Now don’t go all mopey on me!   I promise John and I will be back before you can say “Honestly, there’s no rush!”