You'll Never Walk Alone

April 2, 2007 -

John Heald

Good Evening Bloggers – all 82,000 of you.

As usual here are some quick answers to some of the questions posted.

BIG ED – Thanks for the comments on the blog, mate, and glad you are enjoying the links to the ship. I love the new title Blog Director, just want to make sure they don’t drop the L from Blog!  Keep the comments coming, mate. As for January, I am sorry to say I will not be onboard. I do not know my schedule yet but will let you know as soon as I do. I am with you on the booth thing.
GLCANADA – Welcome new blogger!  I have left a message from you to the Salters and I am sure they will have lots to tell you. Thank you for the nice words about Heidi, she truly is the wind beneath my wings even when I have “the wind!”
GREG G – I can only imagine what your dad was wearing for him to be denied entrance to the contest. Thanks for sharing your Carnival memories and hope we share new ones together soon.
JOSE – The blogs will keep coming a bit longer so hurry up and get here so you can see what we are all about.
KATHY AND PAUL – I know how your husband feels about climbing the tower. Heidi made me do it and there wasn’t even a restaurant at the top.
SOUTHERNDREAMS – I passed your wishes to my Mum and she invites you for dinner anytime. See you in 25 days.
KATHY AND PAUL – Did you ever come to the UK with the ice show. Thanks for the kind words about the crew; they are the best at sea.
EQTY – I am not sure what I would say to Joe. His ships have given Carnival a totally unique look and he is very adventurous with his designs. My favorite lounge on any ship is the cigar bar on here (The Habana Bar). He has created another unique look here on the Freedom and, so far, guests are applauding his designs. Anything else will have to wait for the book……………………………….DO YOU THINK I SHOULD WRITE ONE?
JUST4FUN1 – The Conquest will be a great cruise. As for the non smoking ship, I am sure you will appreciate that 80% of the public areas on all our ships are now non smoking. Thanks for reading the blog thingy.
WAWW – Most guests disembark the ship then stay in Rome for a few days. May I suggest you contact Carnival as they have some great hotel deals for stays before and after the cruise. Personally, I would do it after the cruise. Thanks for reading the blog thingy.
NANETTEALI – Wow, the Ecstasy, that is still one of my favorite ships. I was a bit ummmmmmmm…………..skinnier then! As for Michael Andrew, he was and still is one of the best entertainers I have ever met and has gone onto great things. Here is his we bsite for you to check out what he is doing. His nerd act was amazing and as a double act we had so much fun. Can’t wait to see the photo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
– Thanks for the great photos. I am so happy you got to share that special cruise with us. Inaugural cruises are always a challenge so thanks for your patience and it was an honor to have you onboard.
TERRI910 – Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Spotted Dick…………my favorite. Wait until you try my Mum’s Black Pudding and Haggis! Istanbul is a very special place and leaving the city is a special moment.
Richard and Merrilyn – Good idea on the menus, I will write something about the food which means I will now have to eat everything on the menu before I comment on it………………….what a shame.
Richard – The first Western med cruise will be special, especially sailing into Venice!
Brad and Debbie – Might as well congratulate now on winning the Cricket World Cup. See you soon, mate, and please keep reading the blog.
SIXT132 – We are setting up a special clinic to help those people with blog addictions. See you in October.
PETER AND GLENNIS – The three main shows on each ship have a shelf life of approximately five years. It is a HUGE job to offload scenery and bring in new ones. This is usually done when a ship is in a refit period. The other entertainers are different every cruise as they fly into and out of each port, See you next month.
SANDRA AND PIET TEN BRINK – I hope you are enjoying your new house. Our love to Max, Luc and Sartcha and Jackiexxxx

Each time I write one of these blog things I usually have some idea what I am going to write about before I sit down, however I find myself tonight second guessing myself if I should continue with what I want to tell all my blogger friends tonight………………………………but after chatting with Heidi about it I have decided to go ahead and write it anyway.

One of the questions posted on last weeks blog thingy was “What was the most difficult thing you have ever had to do as a cruise director?” Well there are many humorous stories which I could tell you (and probably will sometime) but when I seriously analyzed that question there is only one honest answer to this and that’s why I am uncertain about writing the answer on this blog thingy. If this upsets anyone, I offer my heartfelt apologies.

I will never forget that day as I am sure none of you will either. We were aboard the Carnival Triumph, I was in the cabin, in the shower, when Heidi walked in the bathroom and said, ”  think you had better get out of the shower, something terrible has happened”. My immediate thoughts were “family” and as I jumped out of the shower I could see that my usually calm wife was ashen white. I looked at the television as like millions of others, I watched the world change. I sat, aghast, watching the image of smoke pouring out of the top of one of the familiar Manhattan buildings. I sat glued to the images coming via satellite across the Pacific. On CNN – or was it a feed from NBC? I forget – the commentators were speculating wildly about the cause. Several minutes passed. Then in a blur, a small dark object flashed in from the right of the screen. The second tower belched flame and debris from its middle.

Oh, no…

Oh, no.. Please no.

This can’t be real. This mustn’t be real. It is too hideous to imagine.

My wife joined me watching on the main television changing between the four live transmissions from the US that the ship’s satellite was receiving.. They showed the second impact again — in slow motion.  How many people were there in the buildings? Who was doing this?
Then CNN crossed live to a new picture. I don’t know how much time had passed. It was the Pentagon, they said. It was billowing with gray smoke. War.
I sat holding Heidi’s hand hoping that any minute that someone would say that this was a trailer for some Hollywood action picture…….but they never did. I seemed to be in a trance, then Heidi looked at me and I will never forget what she said…..John, you need to tell the passengers.
It was just after breakfast time and the Carnival Triumph was sailing the Western Caribbean spending the day at sea heading to Grand Cayman. I was due on stage in an hour to tell the guests about the fantastic beaches of Cayman and the fabulous Dunns River falls in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. I called the Captain, one of my best friends, Angelo Los, and told him what was happening and that I was heading to his cabin. I remember walking out of the cabin to the elevator passing crew members who also had no idea what was happening each greeting me with a cheery “good morning ” which I tried my best to reply to.
I reached Captain Los’s cabin and we both for some reason ” hugged ” we spoke no words. just hugged………It was one of those moments where it seemed the natural thing to do. I headed for the bridge to make the announcement. I imagined everyone having breakfast on Lido, sunning themselves in the already searing Caribbean heat, laughing and joking with their families or having a late morning in the cabin after a night of fun in Cozumel. I was about to change the memories of their vacation forever.
I pressed the emergency button which sends the announcement into every guest and crew cabin and every public area…………….The bing bong of the PA sounded…………………………………………and I told 3,000 guests and 1,000 crew.
A lot of what happened after that is a blur, but here are some random memories.
I had the news playing all day on the big screen in the main lounge as guests watched, cried and prayed together.
I remember sitting with the Cabrini family from new York who were on the cruise to celebrate an anniversary. Their son was a New York Fire Officer, they were inconsolable as they tried to contact him……….I never new did find out but will always remember sitting with the family in their cabin, 6242, a cabin that if I ever pass now on any ship the memories return.
I remember how hard it was for the families onboard like the Cabrini’s who because of the flying restrictions could not get off the ship.
I remember calling my Mum and dad who were worried about me.
I remember holding a Q and A session in the main lounge and one guest wanting to “arm himself ” and buy a gun in Jamaica because we “are at war.”
I remember arriving in Cayman the next day and most guests not getting off the ship. They just watched the TV’s and waited.
It was then that I had the most difficult choice I have ever had to make as a cruise director. Should I continue with the program of shows, fun and activities or like Letterman and Leno or cancel the shows. I agonized over this for hours and finally I made a decision. I called all the guests into the main showroom after sailing
From Cayman and before dinner….it was 5 pm. Every seat was taken, guests were standing and sitting on the floor and the stage. I was very nervous as I said that it was my belief that if we canceled all the ” FUN SHIP ” entertainment that indeed whoever had committed these horrendous acts would be the winners and in a  miniscule way they would have beaten us. I asked the audience if they agreed……….I had no idea what their reaction would be……the answer? STANDING OVATION.
And so the cruise continued and even though the tears continued every show, every joke, every piece of music was greeted with applause and laughter like I have not heard since. I wish I had the names of every guest who was with me that cruise so I could say thank you for helping me get through this most difficult time I have ever had as a cruise director.
I apologize to anyone of my blogging friends who may have found this depressing. Morbid or not, what this fun blog should be about but it is an honest answer to a question.
I leave you with the song that was sung at the memorial service we held on the last day of the cruise and it was the only time I have ever sung as a cruise director and you will all be happy to hear I never will again. Thanks for listening and see you all in the morning

When you walk through the storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
There’s a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of the lark

Walk on, through the wind
Walk on, through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone

Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone

Your friends

John and Heidi

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.