March 7, 2009 -

John Heald

I normally don’t write a blog on a Saturday as it’s a very busy day. However, I wanted to show you a letter from Jaime but before that I had two other things to share with you. First, it’s time to say hello to Chris “Bubba” Roberts. Many of you will remember his brilliant blogs from Alaska and Hawaii last year and have been asking how he is doing……………….. so, let’s find out.

March 5, 2008

Greetings from the Carnival Spirit. I know it’s been a while since I checked in, so let me catch you up to speed on what’s been happening with me and the Carnival Spirit.

I returned from my vacation on January 15, 2009. I had a wonderful holiday season in my home in Tampa as well as my fiancé’s home in Prague in the Czech Republic. I had the opportunity to enjoy Thanksgiving with my parents at home, and Christmas and New Year with Julie’s family. It was interesting getting to see how a different country celebrates first hand. Biggest difference was what they eat at the Christmas meal. They eat a fish called carp. You buy them out on the street from vendors alive and bring them back home and keep them in your tub until it’s time for the Christmas meal. But that a whole other story.

When I returned to the Carnival Spirit it was business as usual. Kirk Benning, who was my relief during the vacation, had done a great job in keeping the ship in order. He even left all the Christmas decorations up in the cabin for me to take down when I moved back in…thanks Kirk!

I pretty much had a whole new team when I returned. New hosts, new ACD, new dancers, techs, and lots of new musicians. So even though I was returning, it was like starting over again as there were lots of new faces and names to learn. But within a couple of voyages it was like I had never left in the first place.

Pretty much since I returned back I have been preparing for the Carnival Spirit’s spring reposition and upcoming dry dock on March 12. The dry dock for the Carnival Spirit this year will run the length of two voyages where they will do routine maintenance. The big project for entertainment this dry dock is that we will be changing over our production shows. Since the spirit came out in 2001, we have had “Standing Room Only,” which is a Broadway tribute show, and “High Spirits” which is kind of tough to describe.

Well just last night we closed those shows for the final time and our technical team are working on our new shows which will be called “Jazz Hot” and “The Big Easy.” I have seen “Jazz Hot” when I worked on the Carnival Legend, but have not seen “The Big Easy” but have heard lots of great things about it. It is the first time a Spirit-class ship will undergo a show change so it should be pretty interesting. I will send you some more updates as they open up the new shows.

After the dry-dock ends on March 28, we will do one last eight-day cruise followed by a special seven-day cruise and then we will reposition out to Hawaii on April 12. Since I will be going home on the 12th for the dry dock, I am trying to get the Capers and schedules ready for that seven-day and the first 12-day Hawaii cruise now. On March 28 I will begin this year’s fam Trip to Alaska. So when the ship comes out of the dry dock I will not be on board, but my assistant Marky Marc will have the opportunity to try his hand at being the cruise director. He is very excited about it. I should return to the Spirit on April 5.

When I return, I will be on the Spirit for all of the Hawaii/Alaska/Hawaii season. I should be signing off on Oct. 10 when the ship returns back down to San Diego.

I am very much looking forward to getting back to Hawaii and Alaska. There is still so much more there that I want to see. I hope to get to do the helicopter tour in Hilo, Hawaii that flies over the active lava flow, I want to hit up another luau and maybe take a trip on the road to Hana in Maui. In Alaska, I got to go dog sledding this time, since I didn’t get to do it last season, plus I want to go back out crabbing…and in Sitka, I can’t wait to see the CHOWDA man! Where I will destroy a few bowls of that fantastic chowder that he makes.

My fiancé Julie has returned with me to the Carnival Spirit. We are also busy planning for our wedding which will be on Oct. 14, 2009 in Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Both of us are very excited for our new adventure together as when we leave the ship on Oct. 10, it will be for the last time as a cruise director. It’s time that I try something new, what that will be I am not sure yet. Still working on it. I have got a plan A, B, C, D, E…and so on.

My big dream is to hopefully get to purchase a radio station. I have been doing some research on it. I have been a regular guest on WSRQ in Sarasota, Florida, with my pal Al Ernst who I am sure John has spoken of many times. I have thoroughly enjoyed that, and think it would be something I would be well suited for. If not radio then my own business…or you may even see me on a “Fun Ship” working as one of the entertainers as I hope to continue performing my show as well. If you want to check out our wedding website it’s www.julieboruvkachris.com. Stop by and say hi!

Take Care,

Great to hear from you mate and I am sure you will have many visitors to your website. Congratulations again on the great job you continue to do and we all hope you will send us another Bubba Blog soon.

I see a lot of you enjoyed the photos that one of our entertainment staff Gerardo Borbolla shared with us of the Carnival Valor at anchor outside Grand Cayman’s Spot Bay, Well, I then saw his collection and I knew I had to share them with you. So today I will launch a daily addition to the blog by showing you a photo taken by someone who laughingly calls himself “an amateur.”……………Here is the Carnival Destiny docked in Grand Turk.



And now, here is a very sad Dear John letter from Jaime

March 6, 2009

Dear John,

This past 24 hours has provided an intense gambit of emotions for many of us sailing currently on the Carnival Splendor. On a bright note, today celebrates my one and a half year anniversary working for Carnival Cruise Lines. Only one day and six months behind the anniversary of the blog-thingy! I would never have imagined I would have come this far is such a short period of time…

For me, this day has brought upon an incredible amount of first time experiences along with the extreme highs and lows that correspond with any type of intensely emotional experience. The morning began with my first walk around the Splendor track as we provided “walk-a-mile with the entertainment staff” to our guests. The skies were overcast and the pleasant breeze made for a nice relaxing beginning to the day. Brad, our assistant cruise director joined me up on the track and we had a wonderful opportunity to bond and discuss how we started working for Carnival, the challenges of being an ACD and just life in general.

As we rounding the track, we heard the guest services personnel make an announcement that we were in search of a guest, and asking that he could “kindly contact the desk by dialing 7777 or reporting to the deck three lobby.” By this time, security was on deck 12 with a picture in hand, asking Brad and myself if we had seen the missing gentlemen. Not long after these first two clues, Goose reported from the navigational bridge that we had reason to believe a gentlemen had gone overboard within recent hours and when we had further information it would be shared. The traveling companions of this man were already aware of this situation.. I watched people rush to the edge of the ship, with open hearts and binoculars in hand to aid in the search for this missing gentlemen.

Within minutes, our cruise staff team, as well as the musical director, dance captain Claire and senior technician met in Goose’s cabin to participate in an extensive search . As per the procedure, we thoroughly checked all of our areas on the ship. He was no where to be found. By this time, we were informed that we were heading back to the area where this man was last seen, which was our traveling area at 4:30 am the previous morning. When we finally arrived at this location we sailed in an east and west box pattern until after sunset. Helicopters and rescue boats from the Chilean navy searched the area as well. This is the first time that this type of situation has ever occurred on any ship I have been sailing on. Perhaps that’s why myself and others had such a difficult time dealing with this harsh reality. Goose was extremely comforting to the guests and our team in this situation. He gave me a warm hug, and I surely needed that.

My job is to make sure people are enjoying their vacation and having fun. Today, I had a hard job. Brad, the assistant cruise director, is right, we have one of the most exciting and fun jobs in the world. However, it is ever changing and we have to be ready to adapt to whatever situation arises. We keep smiling and stay positive.

On top of this tragedy and the feelings of sadness and disappointment that correlate with this occasion, those of us who were looking forward to going to Maccu Picchu realized that this dream that we had may no longer be a reality. We were originally scheduled to fly to Cusco early the next morning. We all tried to stay hopeful that Paul, our shore excursion manager and his team would be able to find an alternate flight or a private charter so that we could all experience this wonder of the world.

We received this email from Paul at 6:20pm:

HI All,

I am very sorry to say that tomorrow the planned Machu Picchu tour has been cancelled as we could not re-schedule a flight at a later time despite many efforts.
All guests and crew will be notified this evening and will receive a full refund.

Thank you and Regards,
Carnival Cruise Lines | Shore Excursion Manager |

As everyone knows, John has an incredible ability of making every situation, even challenging ones seem light hearted and jovial. Now, I have not yet refined this ability. My heart and prayers go out to the family and friends of this gentleman who was reported missing yesterday. All of us crew members feel immense sorrow for the family of this man who we saw just a few days earlier happily doing puzzles in our library.

We received a letter from the captain this morning explaining that the wife of this gentleman had found a note that suggested a planned suicide and that representatives from the ship’s CareTeam were with the wife and accompanying friends providing emotional support during the very difficult time. This was shared with all of our guests.

Even though the sun is shining as we arrive in Arica, Chile today… it is still a day of remembrance, prayer, hope and love on board the ship.

The 47 guests and 25 crewmembers that had planned a trip of a lifetime meant to depart from Arica will not be climbing Machu Picchu during this trip. I am still confident that tomorrow will be a better day =)

What a perfect opportunity for my future husband to sweep me off my feet!

::keep smiling::

Thank you Jaime.

A wise man once told me that the cruise industry appears to have become, without warning, the new Golden Gate Bridge. I have been at sea for 20 years and until recently I never heard or witnessed this sort of thing before.

Why do people choose a ship to end their days? Is it to have a last few days of comfort or even dare I say……… fun?………….I don’t know.

Some say that love is holding on, and some say love is letting go. Death is a natural event; we demand control of everything else.

We are human and if we take a first breath we have to take a last one sometime and the choice must be individual and whether we think of it as right or wrong……….. it must be respected.

Our thoughts are not only with the family he leaves behind but also with the guests and crew of the Carnival Splendor who will no doubt be looking out to sea the next few days and thinking about their fellow guest who choose to offer himself to the sea.


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.