Directing the Cruise Fun

“Every day is a fun day…the guests make you laugh…the crew make you laugh.”

A cruise director is the public face of a ship, and the voice heard from above—over the PA system, that is. It’s a job that Carnival Cruise Line’s John Heald says brings great rewards.

“Every day is a fun day,” Heald says. “The guests make you laugh. The crew make you laugh.”

After celebrating 30 years with the company, Heald, a longtime cruise director, is now the cruise line’s brand ambassador and hugely popular blogger.

Heald says the job of cruise director goes way beyond standing on stage. And beyond making people laugh. It is much harder than most people think. Yes, you must be the life of the party. But, you also must be the ship’s trusted purveyor of information, in both good and stormy times. In fact, the job is like Julie McCoy on The Love Boat, only on overdrive.

And like Julie, Heald says he’s doubled as a marriage counselor. “I’ve sat with countless numbers of couples who have had problems on board and want to talk about this or that,” he says.

Raised in the UK, where he still lives with his wife and young daughter, Heald didn’t set out to work on ships. Straight out of university he first took a job at the London Futures Exchange.

“Then one day I was on a commuter train and I couldn’t find a seat,” he recalls. “It was dark, and it was raining, and it was winter, and I thought, ‘There’s got to be more to life than this.’”

So, he answered a magazine advertisement for a bartender, exaggerating his one-week college experience working in a bar. Then, he flew off to Miami to join a ship. Heald admits he was a terrible bar waiter, an equally bad wine steward, and later the “worst assistant bar manager in the world, ever.”

However, noticing his easy rapport with guests, higher-ups handed Heald a microphone and sent him out on stage. That microphone has been the vehicle for many jokes—and some memorable moments over the years.