The on-line blog by Carnival Freedom Senior Cruise Director John Heald continues to grow in popularity and, last week for the first time, achieved a top 25 ranking among the more than one million blogs of WordPress.com, a leading blog-hosting service. Heald’s blog has been on a steady climb since it was introduced some 12 weeks ago. It first broke into the top 100 in mid-May and by early June it had moved up to number 23. During this time, the blog has attracted more than 300,000 visitors.The blog, which is located at carnival.com/freedom, was launched in conjunction with the entry into service of the new Carnival Freedom in early March.
“We thought the blog’s popularity would probably peak during the first month from the curiosity over the new ship and then gradually start to decrease over time,” said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president and CEO.
“In fact, the exact opposite has happened, which is a testament not only to John’s unique personality but also the work he puts forth in keeping his blog fresh and exciting for his readers,” he added. Heald, too, is surprised that the popularity keeps climbing. “I envisioned the blog as a simple recap of the day’s events. However, it really has turned into more of a sounding board – not only serving as my own personal diary but also an open forum for readers to convey their own cruise experiences. To me, it’s the perfect illustration on why cruising attracts such a diverse group of people. I consider the blog an extension of my cruise director duties and really cherish the opportunity to interact with readers on a regular basis.”
“Readers from all over the world have been attracted to Heald’s blog and, according to posts, some are even booking cruises because of the blog. “That’s been the most surprising thing,” noted Heald. “This includes bookings on Carnival Freedom, other Carnival ships and even on some of our sister companies’ ships. Among these are many first timers.”
The blog has proven so popular that it has even inspired the “John Heald Bloggers Cruise” hosted by the popular cruise director aboard Carnival Freedom round-trip from Miami Jan. 19-26, 2008.
Through his blog, Heald provides a lighthearted account of life aboard the Carnival Freedom, with fascinating, humorous and sometime poignant tales of the guests and crewmembers he comes in contact with each day, all with his trademark wit and self-deprecating manner.
In keeping with Heald’s vision of the blog as a forum for an open discussion on a wide-range of areas, a popular feature on the blog is a question-and-answer section in which he personally answers readers’ queries about working aboard a cruise ship, the Carnival vacation experience, and various other cruise-related topics.
Heald’s blog also shares stories about life aboard the Carnival Freedom with his wife, Heidi, the ship’s assistant cruise director and occasional blog contributor. He also offers his own travel tips and recommendations, along with personal photos from Carnival Freedom’s European cruises and even a recent trip to visit his parents in the UK.
One of the most popular cruise directors in the industry, Heald joined Carnival in 1986 as a bartender and, after transferring to the entertainment department, was named a social host three years later. He was promoted to cruise director in 1990 and in 2004 was named senior cruise director – currently the only individual to hold that position within the Carnival fleet.
Carnival is currently accepting reservations for the “John Heald Bloggers Cruise” aboard the Carnival Freedom, which will operate round-trip from Miami Jan. 19- 26, 2008, and will visit three of Heald’s favorite ports: Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.
For additional information and reservations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com.