Smoke On the Water – Part 1

November 12, 2010 -

John Heald

Megan walked towards me, the soft glow of moonlight radiating off her naked bottom. Her eyes met mine and I knew that it wasn’t Brad or George or Johnny that she wanted……oh no……….I knew that it was me that her heart was beating for. I motioned her to come to me and she walked seductively towards me and soon her naked body was lying next to mine and she knew that she was about to have the best 3 minutes of rumpy pumpy she had ever had. Megan looked at me and then in the most sensuous of voices said……..”ALPHA TEAM, ALPHA TEAM ALPHA TEAM, DECK 0 ENGINE CONTROL ROOM.”

I awoke with a start and it took me a few moments to get rid of the thought of my idol’s bottom and realise what announcement I had just heard. It was 6:05 am and the officer on watch had just called for Alpha Team, the emergency code for our fire squad to go the engine control room. It was 6:05 am, this wasn’t a drill………..oh f**k!

The following is going to be my honest and open account of what happened. It will be the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth because that is what I always write here and this particular blog thingy must be no different. And besides…….that is what our President and CEO Gerry Cahill told me to write when I met with him today and more about that later.  Just bear in mind that the times cited in this blog are all estimates as it has certainly been a long couple of days.

So, there I am. It’s 6:05 am and the bridge have just called for the fire squad and I knew what was about to happen next. And sure enough it did. I farted.

Next the other thing that I knew would happen next did as well, my phone rang and a slightly breathless voice said “John, come to the bridge immediately.”

So I jumped out of bed and decided that “immediately” probably wasn’t a good idea because a) I was in my underpants and b) I had been in the middle of a dream about Megan’s bottom….. if you know what I mean. Anyway, I threw on a T-shirt and a pair of sweat pants little knowing that I wouldn’t be separated from these clothes for the next 24 hours. I had gotten dressed and started my journey to the bridge in the space of maybe 2 minutes after the call had come and all the while my heart began to pound………this wasn’t a drill………….this was the real thing.

Yet, on my way to the bridge the thoughts in my head were that it was a small fire and that within the next few minutes it would all be over. In fact I guess it’s safe to say that even though I had just heard the Alpha Team call that as I approached the bridge I was as unprepared for what awaited as a Frenchman who has been asked to write an essay on the joys of taking a bath.

I opened the door to the bridge to the sound of alarms screaming from the fire station control which were doing battle with the crackle of walkie talkies and the commands of Captain Cupisti. It’s funny that throughout the last few days how certain things have stayed lodged in my memory as clear as crystal while some things have disappeared from my mind totally. One such memory is of Captain Cupisti’s hair. Whenever I see him he looks like he has stepped off the front page of GQ Magazine but as I walked on the bridge his hair looked like he had slept in a crash helmet which he had just taken off.

I stood there not wanting to interfere but making sure I put myself in the captain’s eye line so that he knew I was there as and when needed. Let me try and explain what was happening. The captain had an internal ship’s chart on the table marking off where each fire squad was stationed, where he wanted the cooling down teams and speaking slowly and with authority into the walkie talkie to the fire teams, the chief engineer and the staff captain.

Meanwhile every deck officer was expertly doing what they had to do from checking the radar to assisting with the fire teams and organizing and putting on alert all the respective parties. What is so ironic of course is that just 24 hours earlier this same captain and officers and the same fire teams had done all of this in a simulation for our United States Coast Guard inspection which they passed with flying colours.

Now remember all of what I have described so far has happened in a space of seconds but still I didn’t realise how serious was this until something slapped me in the face as hard as the time I tried to grope Sally Poole’s breasts behind the bike shed at school. At that wakeup call came when I heard our staff captain’s voice come through the walkie talkie and say “There is thick smoke, thick smoke. We can’t see anything. That was when I said a silent “Oh bugger” and our adventures began.

I now realised it was time for me to talk to the guests all of whom would have heard the “Alpha Team” call which was made through the emergency system. Can I just stop here and mention the following just once because I really don’t want to sound like I am patting myself on the bottom and saying well done John. Because I am not. But I do want to mention a few things here about my role in all of this before the story continues.

I have often written that in cases of unexpected occurrences on a cruise ship that it is the cruise director’s job to inform the guests, truthfully at all times and to do so calmly and reassuringly and as often as possible. This is the CD’s role and although it cannot be compared to the people who were currently in the engine room and on the bridge, it is none the less an important one and I can only hope that I managed to achieve the goals I have just described. So, let’s get back to the story shall we and here is the first conversation between the captain and I as best as I can remember.




And so I pressed the dreaded button number one on the PA system which apart from when we conduct the rehearsal safety briefing on embarkation day is a button that no cruise director ever likes to use because usually it means if you are that you are in the sh*t.


Ladies and Gentlemen. My sincere apologies for waking you up but as you may have heard we have just used an Alpha Team call which is the alert for our fire teams to attend. At this moment the captain has informed me that there is lots of smoke in part of the aft engine room on deck 0. (A side note: I told the guests this in case they thought the engine room may be close to guests’ cabins which of course it isn’t.). Please would all guests remain in their cabins while we investigate and regardless of if there is any more information I will return in 5 minutes with an update. Please don’t worry and I promise I will keep you informed.

I made this announcement as calmly as possible and “breathing” the words so not to sound anxious at all, even though I was.

During the next five minutes it became more and more obvious that this was a serious situation. I positioned myself closely to the captain so I could hear firsthand what was happening and so that he wouldn’t have to worry about if I had understood or not. As promised 5 minutes later and five minutes later after that I repeated my first announcement and told them there was still nothing further to report and highlighted the “Please don’t worry” bit again. I had nothing new to report but as I had promised the guests I wasn’t going to leave them in the dark (although later they would be) and kept talking to them as much as I could.

The next announcement though wasn’t for the guests …… was for the crew……….and in my 24 years at sea it was the first time I had ever had to do so. Here’s what happened.



I looked into my friend Claudio’s eyes and I could see the worry that was there but also the strong conviction that he had no choice.


When a crew member gets on a ship, whatever his or her position onboard, before they are bar waiters or dancers or photographers or stateroom stewards………each and every crew member is a sailor whose primary task is the safety of the guests and themselves. Each of us has a station or assignment to go to and all are well trained in what needs to be done. And so with a lump in my throat, I made the following announcement.




I should point out here that you may have noticed that I have not used the word fire. I heard that one or two guests had told the media that I had never used the word fire. This is not true. I was going to say this is bollocks but I won’t.

However, at this point I had not used the “F” word because the reports from the engine room were that all the teams could see was thick white smoke……no flames…… just thick white smoke. And those words had been repeated to me by the captain when he had me make announcements. He used the word “smoke” not “fire” and so those were the words I had repeated to the guests.

So now the crew were at their emergency stations and when I say the crew I mean every single crew member went immediately because the Carnival crew are brilliant and…..they are not Greek and thus in the lifeboats before the guests.

During the next 10 minutes I kept talking to the guests reminding them to stay in their cabins and did my best to keep them calm. I also spoke to the crew, telling them to remember their training and to also stay calm. And they did, both the guests and the crew did exactly what I asked of them and meanwhile I waited for the captain to tell me what was next. And what was next was that the smoke was so intense and so thick that even with breathing apparatus on the teams could not get close to the source.

I looked at Captain Cupisti………….he looked back at me and shook his head slightly …………… and that’s when I ruined a really good pair of underpants.

Part 2 to follow soon.


Comment Policy

Look, friends — there are a few things you should remember before you comment. The space below is for you to post your comments about the post I've just written above. Now, while I may not be able to reply to your comment below, I do sit in my underpants almost every morning and read everything that is here. So feel free to comment on the comments and then if someone wants to comment on the comment to the comment then go ahead as well. Please be courteous, unless the poster is French...........then you can say whatever you want.

221 Responses to Smoke On the Water – Part 1

  1. Sari B. says:

    Glad to hear from you John and thankful that the passengers and crew of the Splendor are safe and sound! I’ve said this over and over CCL is so over the top in all they do! Kudos to you all….. looking forward to the next part…..

  2. John you guys are amazing. I always feel safe onboard and I know you guys worked your butts off to keep people safe. I know you guys really tried to make the best of a rotten situation. I hope all is well with you and the crew. 🙂


  3. Margie Tracy says:

    I am looking forward to reading the “true” saga of the Splendor and not the hyped-up stories from the media. I can say that most reports have given you kudos for keeping everyone calm and entertained. Many people have also praised the crew as well. Hats off to you, your crew and Carnival Corporation for helping the passengers cope with a not so nice situation. Had I been on that cruise, it still would have been fun because you were there. Hope you enjoyed your hot shower and clean undies.

  4. Mary says:

    Good to hear from you John. Saw you on the news, you are truly amazing! I know it was you that held everything together. And most of the pax getting off the ship here in SD were in good spirits and had praises for you and Carnival. In fact, one gal wrote a song to the tune of Gilligan’s Island about the adventure (as pax were calling it) and you were mentioned in it!

  5. well john i am crying and laughing at the same time… i knew you’d handle this brilliantly and you did! waiting for more…

    smiles, bee

  6. Stacey W says:

    Eagerly awaiting Part 2.

  7. Aurora says:

    I’m so glad everyone was ok. I was just on the Splendor in September and I’m sad to hear that she had such trouble. Great job, John, I think you and the Carnival crew handled the situation amazingly!!

  8. sue shiny says:

    John I am so glad you are back it was a little crazy for me taking care of your million billion FB fans…!!!!!! glad u r ok and so glad there was no spam..or was that a special request from you? (:

  9. Sharon says:

    John, I feel like I was there with your description. I’m waiting for the next installment. Kudos to you and the entire Splendor team for doing a fine job in this emergency. We’ve watched many, many reports and the majority have talked about how great the crew and especially you were during this situation. Carnival should be proud of their team!

  10. Amy says:

    Wow this is starting to feel like I’m right there…

    (& since I am weeks away from my first Carnival cruise, let me assure you that I do not want to “be there”. Hope you understand.)

    • Bill Cassidy says:

      Sir / Madaam;

      I am preparing to go on my 10th cruise with Carnival, sailing out of Fort Lauderdale on Dec 5 for 8 wonderful filled days aboard Carnival’s Ship the Miracle.

      I have complete Confidence in Carnival, Its employees. & the Safety they provide to thier Guests. This incident that took place could happen on any ship. of any cruise line. Please don’t let this one incident deter you from enjoying Carnival’s Excellent reputation. once again the News Media has over extended themselves on this Incident.. Go & enjoy Carnivals Fun Ships.

      • Linda Hernacki says:

        My husband and I will also be on the 8 day cruise leaving 12/5 on the Miracle going to Aruba, Curacua, Grand Turk and La Romana. I agree with you that this could happen anywhere and John is to be commended for his efforts to keep the entire ship informed on everything that went on. John is a dear friend of mine, have known him since 1998. We will see him on the BC4, can’t wait! Maybe we will run into you on the Miracle, this will be our 21st cruise. You’ll become Platinum on your 10th cruise! Linda & Mike

  11. Tammy Spencer says:

    We are all so glad that everyone is safe & healthy! Please know that cruising with Carnival has been & always will be my favorite way to vacation! Kudos to Carnival! John, darlin….you need a raise!

  12. Jennifer says:

    I hope to get to cruise with you one day, John. I have nothing but the utmost respect for you and Carnival. You all did an outstanding job under the worse conditions.

    Kudos to you, all of the crew on the Carnival Splendor, and it’s passengers.

    I’m so glad everyone is safe.

  13. Margaret (Peggy) Taylor says:

    You really know how to leave a girl in suspense! Hope you have gotten lots of rest and hot showers and tea/coffee. I’m still a cruise addict, hope my next cruise director is as much as a pro as you are.

  14. Mary Ann says:

    Can’t wait for the next part.

  15. Andy says:

    Megan must have an unusual anatomy if you could see the moonlight bouncing off of her moons as she walked towards you. That’s all I have to say about that.

  16. Lou says:

    John –

    You see to have been very involved – I have a question that doesn’t seemed to have been asked or answered yet……why wouldn’t Carnival allowed the lifeboats to be used and brought these people to shore instead of making them spend 2 days without toilets, hot water,and in those conditions?
    We are booked for an October cruise and this basic fact is worrying me. It seems common sense that no one should be exposed to those conditions. It is like sitting on a runway for 3 hours and not be allowed off the plane or out of your seat.
    I am positive you all did what you could do, and the fire was not your fault, but I think the ball was dropped here – no?

    • J.P. says:

      Unless the ship was in danger of being consumed by the fire or in danger of sinking, I’m sure it’s safer for 4,500 people to stay on the ship. They were far from land, and to take all those people onto other rescue ships, I’m sure would be a major task. Just because some passengers complained they had no hot water. From accounts, the toilets were running on backup power, as was cold water. I’m sure it was not a walk in the park. But it looks like Carnival did what any cruise line would do. I am also sure the powers that be have discussed the lifeboats, but deceided not to do it.

    • Linda (Mom of DJ) says:


      Lifeboats are for only life threatening conditions.

      The toilets were up and running after 12 hours.

      So the rest of the time was basically no hot water and no fancy food.

      While not ideal circumstances, far from a life threatening emergency.


    • Frequent Cruiser says:

      Have you ever been in the lifeboat when used as the first tender and every seat is taken? Bad enough in the relatively sheltered run to the port.

      Used as a lifeboat there would be a lot more people on-board for many, many hours, in much rougher water.

  17. sue shiny says:

    you have e really good memory there is no way i would have remeber all the details like you did~

  18. Jim Stranger says:

    First time here, great sense of humor. I will be sailing
    on the Splendor Nov 28. Hope to have a pop tart and
    spam sandwich with you 🙂

    • Nancy says:

      I like your spirit Jim. I’ll be sailing in January on the Triumph. Have a pop tart and spam sandwich for me.

  19. Scott Lara says:

    John….Incredible story….looking forward to part 2.


    • Maureen Powers says:

      Can’t wait for part 2 The suspense is killing me by the way sailing on the Dream Nov 27 and sure would like to see you if the Splendour is still being repaired

    • Lona says:

      This gives me a deeper admiration to the entire crew on a cruise ship. God Bless you all.

  20. Randall Murphy says:

    John. Thanks for the recap! Looking forward to reading part 2! By the way, the NBC, CBS, and ABC mornign shows all had interviews with passengers that were on this cruise with you and they all had great things to say about you and the crew.

  21. Maurene(yes spelled that way) says:

    John, glad you have started to post this. Glad you are back. I usually post on your FB stuff now, not here, but I feel I have to add my thanks for “the rest of the story” ( said in that menacing voice they use on the radio)
    I look forward to the whole thing, including you being the king of SPAM. lol.

  22. Natalie says:

    Cant wait for part 2. I must say that I’ve sailed on Carnival before and all of the crew is very professional. I cant wait to cruise with you guys again!

  23. Gina says:

    John, so glad you and the others are safe on land. Although I haven’t seen you on the news yet, I heard tape of that wonderful voice of yours, which I’m sure was very calming to everyone. The newlyweds on the Today Show even mentioned you by name and stated how great you were during the entire time. Please take some time and get some much needed rest!

  24. Maribeth Kring says:

    Dear John,

    All of your loyal followers have been praying for you, the crew, and the guests. I can only imagine the fear that you and the rest of the crew must have been going through during the moments you just described but according to everything we have been able to hear so far, you all handled everything with the utmost professionalism and are to be highly commended!

    I know that under the circumstances, even though you are back to land, that you must have an incredible amount of work ahead of you. Please take care of yourself as best you can.

    Big Ed’s Little Cousin, Maribeth

    • Steve O says:

      Thank you Maribeth, WELL SAID. John’s description, so far, gives me “chills”……what a situation to be in. Hoping he and the crew are getting some much needed rest.

  25. Jan "Peaches" Silvius says:

    So good to hear the voice of reason in all of this! Sounds like you and the entire crew did an exceptional job and kept to what CCL does best. Insure the safety of the passengers.
    Eagerly awaiting part 2 John, but we all understand how difficult this time is for all of you. ps. have you called home yet? They have to be on tenderhooks awaiting word for you.


  26. Cheryl Renaud says:

    Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Mike Porter says:

      Hah! I knew there would be humor in your explanation. Aside from the obvious professionalism, I am sure that you maintained your usual demeanor. None of us can really imagin what you, Captain Cupisti and the rest of the crew were going through. I look forward to the update and, as all of us fans, a new cruise with the events of the great black out as part of your new repertoire

    • Marilyn says:


      We had the pleasure of having you as our cruise director a few year ago. You did a fine job, and would not have expected less even though you had just been diagnosed with Bell’s palsey. I knew it was a tough week for you — but you made it through with humor and class. I’m sure you did the same in this situation!

  27. Hank H. says:

    As always John, beautifully and truthfully related. My admiration for the entire crew of the Splendor, corporate Carnival, the passengers and the media that portrayed the positive remarks without dwelling on the few negative folk. I believe that this incident has made Carnival our exclusive cruise line going forward. I must agree that your reporting is both factual and completely humorous (also spelled correctly!)

  28. takmom (Ann) says:

    What a scary situation…all accounts I have heard say you and your crew were amazing…great job!!

  29. Steve W says:

    John, you and your team are the greatest. You was on our first cruise on the Glory and made it a great time. I think what you and the crew did was nothing but the best. Give the captain a high five as all the crew and passengers survived. The talking heads in today’s mass marketed news are looking to sensationalize every action everyone done. “Look maw they gave us spam.” So what if it is food and your hungry eat it and say less about it.

    Again you guys did a great job and the company should buy you a round of the god stuff.

  30. Laure G says:

    Wow, amazing so far! And funny. And suspenseful. Looking forward to “the rest of the story.” Glad everyone made it back safely and that Carnival is working hard to make things right for all the guests. Not sure if another cruise line would have handled this so well.

  31. Frank and Bridie says:

    John, I would gladly have been honored to be on the Splendor with you and the wonderful crew! The media is making me sick with there reports of this!

    Frank and Bridie

  32. Dana Thomas says:

    Hi John,
    I was one of your passengers on the Splendor this week. And I will agree with other passengers in saying you never said it was an actual fire (you said only “flameless fire” which we thought was ridiculous and misleading).

    HOWEVER – I think you did a fantastic job of keeping us informed. Trying to coordinate to make things as comfortable and non-scary as possible and to keep a bit of levity in a scary situation (although some of your jokes weren’t appreciated by all. And you can never please them all? Can you John?).

    I thank you and found your lovely english accent to be a comfort. Without it we would have been not only stranded at sea but unaware of how, why or for how long.

    I truly hope the crew get more than their traditional 15% gratuity. They went so far above and beyond their normal jobs to keep the passengers safe, fed, WAITED ON, and entertained. I saw sweat rolling down their faces – and still they had a smile. I saw exhaustion behind their eyes – and still they worked on rigourously. They ARE heros. Selfless heros. They not only had to live the same situation all of the passengers did – but had to WORK through it and take care of not just themselves, but others too. INCREDIBLE – can not even describe the crew. There is no word to describe the crew – and I would cruise with them all again any day. Well – maybe not any day soon – but when I am ready to try it again (this was my first cruise you know).

    Get some good rest John. And prepare to cruise again another day. Thank you for being the voice in the ceiling that kept us informed!


  33. Steffanie says:

    We were just on the Splendor the last week of September. John you truely are amazing. I am glad you were able to keep your humor through everything that happened to you and the guests aboard the ship. I hope that Splendor can make a quick recovery!

  34. Emily Perna says:

    I had the pleasure of having you as my Cruise Director on a Carnival Cruise in Italy. I’m glad you, the staff and the passengers made it home safe and sound!
    Enjoy hot running water and hot meals! Hope you get some time off after that ordeal. -Emily

  35. Steve H says:

    Welcome back John! I can’t wait to learn more of what actually went on. IMHO Carnival and the passengers were luck to have you for a CD on this cruise!

  36. Steve Chaput says:

    John, My wife, Donna & I, have had the pleasure of sailing with you twice and she was on one of your cruises before we met. We wondered about your involvement in this incident and are glad that you and everyone else are safe & back on solid ground.

    We have always enjoyed our Carnival cruises (we’re both Platinum card members) and know the crews to be amazing. Can’t wait to hear the rest of your tale.

    Any idea who will play you in the movie version? 🙂

  37. LOVE IT JOHN!!! Thank you for sharing- can’t wait for part 2

  38. Lindsey S. says:

    can’t wait for part 2.

    great job Carnival Splendor crew!!

    It would have been “an experience” like no other to be on that ship for a situation like this! kind of sad I missed out! I have been on 5 Carnival cruises and can’t wait to go again someday!!!


  40. Dan Carrr says:

    John every report I saw stated that the CD John was outstanding as well as the crew!!! Great job under very trying circumsances!

  41. Comedy Plus says:

    Nothing like reading this first hand. Hubby and I are on the Glory next February on the bloggers cruise, so we’ve been watching this with great interest.

    Empress Bee speaks so very highly of your abilities as the BEST CD ever.

    Looking forward to the next installment. I’m guessing you have to change your underpants first. I love your sense of humor in the face of adversity.

    Have a terrific day and weekend.

    Zane and Sandee Clark 🙂

  42. Jeannette says:

    I can’t wait to read the rest. You are truly amazing. I’m a big Carnival fan and hope to sail with you one day.

  43. Alison says:

    I can’t wait for part 2 already

  44. seletia lewis says:

    John, in my book i think you are a HERO! Can’t wait to hear more. I have cruise with CCL many many times and can’t wait for my next cruise!

  45. Cheryl Barcomb says:

    Thank you John for writing, You are one amazing guy and Team at carnival. Hoping you are taking care of yourself now.

  46. Linda L. says:

    If this had to happen on a cruise, I can’t imagine any other Cruise Director I’d rather be with. We cruised with John in 2009. He was a blast. Ican’t wait to cruise with him again.

  47. Sharon Bowie says:

    WOW! Everyone is so very lucky it was you as CD.
    Looking forward to Part 2.

  48. Rick L says:

    Great story cant wait for part 2

  49. Micah says:

    I am sorry that this happened, and that you, the crew and the guests had to go through this. But I am also glad that you were there to witness it, so now you can tell us what happened. You’re an excellent writer, and we all know you will tell us the truth. I’m glad everyone was ok, and like most of your readers, I am eagerly awaiting the rest of the story.

  50. Chelsea says:

    Holy man. I had goosebumps reading this. I had no idea you were on board. How terrifying. I am so glad it was not a worse situation and that every single person on board made it to shore safely.

  51. Deb P says:

    So glad you are safe, thanks for the blog and all you do.

  52. Big Ed says:

    John since this will end up being your first book why don’t you call them chapters not parts. I’ve been trying to follow the happenings on TV and the internet. I think some of the reporters should be shot. They seem to go by the old addage “negitive news sell” and they only what people who have negitive things to say for their interviews.

    But a lot of the guest said you did great.

    BIG Ed

  53. Dutchman says:

    Im Glad we get to read the facts about this whole cruise, instead of opinions. Sounds like some great trained people were in charge . Hats off to all involved. Waiteing for the rest of the story

  54. LadyJag (Laura) says:

    Wow! Thanks for the recap! anxiously awaiting part 2.


  55. Jan T says:

    When I first heard the Slendor was in trouble, I was so scared for the passengers and crew. When I learned JH was the CD, I knew he would keep everything under control. Carnival is blessed to have John on staff! We love cruising when you are the CD!!!!

    Sorry everyone’s vacation was spoiled; but, so glad everyone returned safe and sound. Can’t wait for Part 2 of your story!
    Mz Jan

  56. Betsy says:


  57. Clair says:

    Hi John,

    Looking forward to reading part 2. Wonderful writing.

    Glad everyone is okay.


  58. Denise Almanza says:

    So glad that this all has a happy ending and everyone was returned safely!! Anxiously waiting for Part II. Sure know how to make us feel like we were really there!! Take care and thanks for all you do!! Hope to be on a sailing w you one day!! Carnival Dream next week!!

  59. Lisa Taylor says:

    Kudos to the Captain, you and the crew for doing a fantastic job of keeping everyone safe.

    It’s refreshing to be able to read about this incident directly through updates from you and the company. The misinformation and drama spewed out on some news stations is appalling.

  60. Lori H. says:

    John, you truly have a gift for the written word!!! I am able to experience your emotions on a first hand basis and grasp how serious the situation really was. I was just on the Carnival Imagination for a cruise this past September and I know that I would have lost my mind if I had ever heard and Alpha Team call or even worse a call for all crew to go to general emergency stations. I am riveted to your story and cannot wait for part 2.

  61. Ira says:

    So – who own’s the movie rights? (It is Cali after all). 🙂

  62. Anne Woods says:

    John, thank you for sharing this riveting account of what you experienced… and I love how it’s punctuated with your own brand of humor. I’m sure that helped you and many of your fellow crew members and guests get through this ordeal. Can’t wait to read more.

  63. Jackie S. says:

    Thank you for the detailed account, John. I am looking forward to reading Part 2, and am so glad that everyone is safe.

    I was watching the Today Show this morning and they interviewed a couple that was honeymooning on the Carnival Splendor. When asked about the crew, they specifically said how wonderful you were. I was so pleased, as if you were a personal friend, even though I’ve never met you! I’m sure that you did an absolutely stupendous job of keeping everyone calm and entertained.

  64. Kathy Helm says:

    I can’t believe the way your story started. I was LOL! Not to mention the description of your covered body as you were “jumping” out of bed. Your are so funny and do such a great job as a CD. Kudos to everyone on board the ship. Looking forward to your next part. And you have got to tell us how your “story” ends. 😉 Welcome home! I sure hope I get to cruise with you some day, it should be loads of fun.

  65. Raymond Wheeler says:

    Your courage sprinkled with humor keeps us glued to the blog waiting for more.

    We know how it ends but the “Middle Bits” are still a mystery to unfold

  66. Nj Cruisin' says:

    Claudio is a good friend of mine and an amazing captain. If anyone knew what to do it was him!

  67. Dana T says:

    This is so much better than listening to the news clips. Thanks, John, for posting this, and really looking forward to the next part…Although I’ll be at sea on the Spirit tomorrow and may not spring for the internet access!! So may have to get the updates after my cruise. I’ll be looking for you on the Splendor when we board the Spirit today–the San Diego news channels have been showing the ships side by side in the port all morning!

  68. George Mckay says:

    John, I cannot think of a better person to have in this position. You are a great CD and human being. To keep your wits about you is vital in this situation and you acted brilliantly. I am proud of you and the entire crew.

  69. Starrfish says:

    wow, this is amazing! I was on the edge of my seat reading this! I’m so glad everyone was ok. I know this was a very scary event, and yet everyone held it together so well. Congratulations to the Splendor crew for doing such a great job!

  70. mehyder says:

    Great to hear from you. From all reports a great job all around. Looking forward to the rest of the story.

  71. Lori says:

    Thank you so much for the first-hand account. It’s hard to know what to believe on the news. While the situation on the Splendor was unfortunate for everyone involved, I have to say that the passengers on board were so very fortunate that they had you as their CD. No doubt your experience and dedication (and comic relief!) made a terrible experience more bearable. I’m anxious to hear the rest of the story, and hope you and the rest of the crew are able to get some much-needed R&R in the next few days!

  72. Lauren says:

    John, my husband and I knew the first time you were on our cruise that you are definitely a unique person. Love the story thus far and can’t wait to read part two. We are cruise junkies and this will, in no way, hinder us from cruising again (which is next weekend :-)). Great job to the Carnival Splendor team, and the US Navy!

    By the way, can you please remind people that the guests did NOT eat spam?!

  73. Joey Joe says:

    Me & my wife were on this cruise ship back in Sept. for our Honeymoon. It was both of our 1st experience on a cruise ship. I was so impressed with how smooth of an operation the ship & crew members presented themselves that I felt 100% safe & knew if there was an event of this magnitude or greater, we were in good hands.

    Without hesitation, even after hearing of this accident, I eagerly await our next cruise whenever that may be. You guy’s are great, amazing & so much more. I eagerly await part 2 of this story & I can totally see this happening through your words John with your excellent & humorous description. Thank you for posting this.

    Be safe & Godspeed.

  74. hillary says:

    john i am so happy that you are going to write on this, and be honest!!! cant wait to hear the rest! so happy u all made it home safe and sound!!

  75. Platinum Jack says:

    Great post, John.

    I wonder how many caught the reference to the Oceanos?

  76. Janet says:

    I am so impressed with the ENTIRE Carnival Staff, Crew, Officers and Guests! I just took my 10th Carnival Cruise October 31 and took the “Behind the Fun” Tour which helped me understand exactly what you were talking about. I have been through 2 hurricanes on Carnival ships and never worried. I also sell cruises part-time and will continue to promote Carnival and brag on the abilities to handle any emergency. Thank you for ALL you do!

  77. Great Job John, crew & captain. Your professionalism made the situation much better for the passengers.

  78. Thank you for sharing your account. Sending hugs and love to you and your crew.

  79. Cheryl Cohen says:

    I am SO happy that everyone is safe and back on dry land. Can’t wait for the ship to be repaired and for you to be sailing once again.

  80. Walter Harper says:

    John, amazing narrative. Can’t wait for part 2. I think I would’ve still enjoyed the cruise.

  81. jami says:

    Thanks for sharing!

  82. Skip says:

    Interesting to not use the word “Fire”. After 20 years in the Navy, I have seen my share of fires, and fortunately they were all small fires. Of course, any fire onboard a ship is serious business. The thing I remember most about these fires though, is the amount of smoke they generate. Some of these fires were so small a single CO2 fire extinguisher could put them out, but the smoke!!! Oh boy! Yes, it quickly gets to the point that you cannot see anything. So, it is fair, at this point in the story, to not use the word fire. This could turn out to be anything.

    John, thanks for writing this. I am on the edge of my seat, and I cannot wait for the rest of the story!

  83. Jackie C. says:

    Hi John!
    I am a travel agent who travels on and books customers on Carnival on a regular basis. First I want you to know that you, the crew and passengers of the Splendor were in my prayers during this difficult journey. I knew that Carnival and the crew of the Splendor would do everything in their power for their passengers, first and foremost keeping them safe. My second thought was, they are so fortunate that John Heald is their CD. I haven’t had the pleasure of sailing with you yet but many of my customers have and are always thrilled to do so. The piece of Part 1 of your story that hit me the most is when you say that the crew, wait staff, room stewards etc are sailors first. That is something that I will keep in mind from here on out when I speak to unsure cruise passengers in the future. Thank you for reminding us all of that. Best of luck to you as you move forward. I anxiously await Part 2!

  84. Myra Bushnell says:

    Hey, John,

    Glad you and all concerned are safely back on land.

    I found the following comment in an AP article and am sending it just in case you missed it.

    “But Klinge complimented both the crew and Cruise Director John Heald, saying they maintained their professionalism despite trying circumstances.

    “The best was John … he kept everyone calm and even kept us laughing,” Klinge said.”

    I can’t even imagine how miserable everyone must have been, especially because of the “smelly” conditions, but everything I’ve read or heard so far indicates Carnival employees went well out of the way to serve the needs of your passengers. Kudos to you all.

    Your Pal (who hasn’t wrtten in ages),

    Myra (Mickeyspal)

  85. Mary Fairbanks says:

    Wow, what a story. I can hardly wait for chapter two. On: Sign on San Diego there is a live web cam- North marina web cam- that shows the C. Splendor live and in the next dock over is the C. Spirit. Take a look they a beauties.
    Looking forward to the Carnival Magic with you in Europe and TA, Oct 2011
    Take care friend.

  86. Maria says:

    John you did sound nervous.. I was so scared.. I cried every morning : ( However, you kept us laughing with your jokes. I hope you will be on our ship when we reschedule our cruise.. Thanks again for getting us home safe.. Thanks for the wine and we took care of the crew.. We did tip them and said thank you for doing a great job. Thanks again John! Can you deliver me a lobster dinner? : )

  87. Ray Griffie says:

    Hi John,
    I’ve never posted b4, but have sailed on Carnival 9 times and we are returning on the Dream in June of next year. Congrats on a job well done under the circumstances which would become a very trying time for both you and Carnival —

    “We don’t want to work, we just want to bang on our drums all day …..”

    Of course, I wish I was there when the bar was open …. 🙂 — ok, maybe not……

  88. Juliana Barker says:

    so glad you are all well…. Was interesting we kept hearing your name on the news and they even mentioned your blog… so you might be getting a lot more hits… 🙂

  89. Will Johnson says:


    Great to here everyone is safe. Having spent 27 years in the RN and unfortunately experienced fire at sea on 2 occasions the Captain, officers and crew should be filled with pride for the way they reacted. This could have been much worse.

    As an aside will they be serving spam fleet-wide – I am particularly fond of the the Glaswegian version- deep fried in batter

  90. kiciaski says:

    John, Glad you, the crew and the passengers are all safe and able to be on land once again. I know everyone wants a hot shower and hot food. Thanks to you, the captain, staff and crew for keeping everyone safe. Can’t wait to hear more.

  91. Becky says:

    John, we’re so glad to hear from you and to know that you are safe and sound! Many prayers have been with you these last few days, and will remain with you as Carnival and the NTSB and I’m sure many others work through what happened and how to get Splendor back to ship-shape. You must be exhausted today and we appreciate you taking the time to update us. I Know I speak for many of us when I say we’ve been starting to have withdrawal symptoms without our daily dose of John. Welcome back, friend!

  92. JR says:

    I am so thankful that this tragic story turned out so well.
    You had me laughing out loud with your comments.
    I think this is your best written blog yet.
    I hope Carnival will give all of you that were the crew some time off and recognition for the great job that you did according to the passengers.

    God Bless,


  93. Berniece Redmond MD says:

    Hi John,
    This may sound silly but all thru your adventure, I just knew it would be ok. Remember how you had never been on the east coast to cruise and how you have been challenged on the Splendor at times? I just figure that God knew you had to be there for the crewman that took his life and now for a disaster on the ship that ultimately brought everyone home safely. God knew they needed you one these days in these times. And I could sit back and smile knowing that all was going to be just fine, knowing you were there to calm, encourage and persevere thru all of it.
    love ya John, Prayers are with you
    Berniece (ob doc)

  94. Max Parcells says:

    As a former Crew Member aboard a Cruise Ship (NCL) I can tell you first hand we are all trained for this. This is quite a common occurance just as the occurance May 25, 2003 when a ships engine room exploded because an engine room employee left a drum of Diesel Fuel next to an Open engine which wasn’t shut off (during PM).

    From one employee to another this is an isolated occurance and yes (we always had spam aboard!)

  95. sharon harrington says:


    You make me feel as if I were right there on that ship with you, your detail is amazing. They could make a HOLLYWOOD MOVIE out of your blog!

    I am glad you are safe and that all was good in the end.

  96. Debi Hammonds says:

    Thank You so much John for your account of the terrible situation on Splendor~I can only imagine how scared the passengers and crew were. The way it was handled keep everyone calm and keep it from turning chaotic. Carnival has done a first rate job on this and I am proud to say I am a Carnival cheerleader.

  97. Sage56 says:

    John: Kudos to you, the entire crew and the Carnival corporate offices.. I am glad you are all safe and hopefully getting some much deserved rest.
    Looking forward to the rest of the story.

  98. Bearded Bill from Boulder says:

    Wow. This reads like a fantastic piece of fiction/thriller/suspense … can’t wait for the rest! Maybe there’ll be a Lifetime movie?

  99. Sandra says:

    Amazing!!!!!Hats off to You John and of Couse the captain and all the crew!!!!!The guests were in excellent hands…John you should REALLY write a book about your life…I would SO buy it .Sending Hugs and warm wishes to all employees of Carnival Splendor…proving once again why I only choose Carnival Cruise Lines when planning my Vacations!!
    NB Canada

  100. Dean Westerman says:

    Funny how the only people calling this the nightmare cruise, vacation from hell, and so on, are news people who were not on the ship. I’m not surprised that the real passengers are giving positive feedback on the experience. BTW, tomorrow I’m on the Liberty, and I know it’s going to be great.

  101. Jake Geffre says:


    This story just reiterates to myself how safe I feel on a Carnival ship. Thank you for sharing with us what happened and I look forward to the next part of the story. What a nightmare situation, but everyone walked away safely which is most important.

  102. Marivonne says:

    John.. Kudos to you and your excellent crew.. Enjoy your well deserve rest and we are eagerly waiting to have you back with us in the blog thingy and Facebook. I commend you guys for such an amazing job!

  103. ayla says:

    Holy crap John! I neeeeed to read the rest of this story! You’ve got me riveted, I can’t wait to find out what happens.

    Seriously, I’m imagining what it must have felt like and I’ve got jitters just thinking about it!

    Great story-telling, thanks for being so honest about this event. I think it’s important for people to know how it went down so anxious-type ppl like me can’t freak out in the future.

  104. Russ Flynn says:

    We have always been impressed by all of the Carnival crew members. From making the gangways safe in small ports to cleaning up evey spill on the ship. However, fire aboard any ship is the worst. The Splendor’s crew was tested and from all reports went above and beyond. Congratulations to all.
    We think you have a book and a movie in this story. We will be on the Splendor July of 2011. We feel we are part of the “Carnival Family” and can’t wait to read the rest.

  105. hirschifam says:

    Yeah, John is back!

    We sailed with you on the Splendor Sept 26, 2010. I was a little worried that after this mess was over you would come back to the blog thingy with a beard written report of the week. Would we get your humor filled version? I was super thrilled to read your report start with your rumpy pumpy dream (did I just write that?). I respect you and Carnival even more than before knowing we will be getting the real John’s report, not the beard’s version.
    So glad that all are safe!
    ShaRee Hirschi

  106. Rob Griffith says:

    Just for everyone out there in blog land, we were on the splendor and John’s recounting is spot on. His calming voice and humor really helped to keep eveyone calm and focused. My true belief is that he is largely responsible for keeping the passengers from panicking. I am so glad he was there. He is the best CD of any ship anywhere!

  107. Peg Dunbar says:

    Thank you for reporting to us John, I am glad that you, your guests and staff are now on land. I look forward to “hearing the rest of the story”.

  108. Katrina H says:

    John and Carnival Crew,

    You did a wonderful job handling a bad situation. My husband and I are cruising on the Freedom Nov 28th and we fell we couldnt be in more capable hands. Glad you are all back safe and sound! Big hugs to you and all of your crew.

  109. Joseph says:

    John so very nice to hear your wit and humor again. So thankful that this all had a good outcome. I knew that the folks coming off the ship saying that they had no idea there was a fire on the ship were full of S**T. Hats off to you and the crew of the Carnival Splendor for a truly OUTSTANDING job.

  110. Shari says:

    Our family cruised with Carnival once on the Glory. After being introduced to you by way of Facebook and Blog, I can honestly say….I WANT TO CRUISE WITH CARNIVAL AGAIN and I want to CRUISE with you as CD! Thank you for this blog!

  111. Can'twaittocruiseagain says:

    John – It’s great to hear from you. We were all a little worried for you, the crew & the guests. Your account of the early minutes of the emergency read so well that it feels almost like I was there. Thank you for sharing it with us.


  112. Lily Potter says:

    I was on the Splendor on October 3, and it was my first cruise. I had an amazing time, (and I was part of the elevator people 🙂 ) and have loved receiving updates through your Facebook thingy, and Blog thingy ever since. You are very professional at how you handle everything, as were the rest of the crew. It is horrible that this happened, but I am glad that you were all safe and everything is being taken care of. I can’t wait for part 2 🙂

  113. Marissa Ortiz-Mena says:


    I am glad all are safe. That is what is most important, not whether or not Carnival served Spam to its guests. Everyone disimbarked. And everyone can hold tight thoes they love dearly.

    But leave it to you to recount a stressfull time with humor. (Spelled correctly.) I will look forward to hearing more about your adventures out at sea, I just wish for the sake of everyone on board that these were not the type of stories you would have to share. I had been expecting things along the lines of, “Pat the Magician called for a volunteer during tonights performance. Mr. Smith talked his wife into volunteering. Pat made her dissapear and she has not been seen since. Mr. Smith does not seem to concerned as he has been seen enjoying the hot tub up on the Lido Deck with his new bikini wearing friends.”

    This is not the vacation I would ever hope for, not for my family or anyone else but that will not keep us from boarding the Carnival Triumph in January. Why? Because I know that with Carnival, my family will be in good hands. You all have proven that a thousand times over this week.

    Marissa Ortiz-Mena

  114. Linda Bravo says:

    I am an experienced cruiser and I wanted to do something special for my family. I bought them all a cruise on Carnival Splendor Jan 2 for Christmas. There will be 12 of us. My sons and their family have never cruised before. My daughter and her family have. I KNOW that we will have a wonderful time and the CD is a very important part of a good time. It sounds like you are a super CD and I look forward to meeting you. Here’s hoping the ship can be repaired in a timely manner and all is well again on Splendor. Looking forward to part 2. God speed John. Linda Bravo

  115. Boston Ket says:

    Good to hear you are ok John. Those passengers and crew should consider themselves lucky to have been in your’s and the captain,s capable hands! BRAVO JOHN!

  116. Tara Gallagher says:

    My husband and I, as well as 19 of our family and friends were on the Carnival Splendor Oct 24-31. All of us agree 110% that the entire ship was extremely lucky to have you as the CD for this unfortunate voyage. You truly are a breath of fresh air and Carnival is very fortunate to have you as an employee.

  117. Theresa Taylor says:

    Thank-you for keeping us informed. If I had been on that ship at that time, I would have known the professionalism and skills were superb of the crew and everything possible was being done…. and trusted. You are ALL HEROS.

  118. Kerry Toner says:

    First and foremost I am glad to hear that everyone is well and glad to see the ship back. As a previous Carnival employee I know how everyone must have felt. Your heart sinks at that moment. Even being away from ships as soon as I heard I felt the need to follow cause I know there are still plenty of crew members who were like family on those ships. I am proud to hear reports on how good the crew did. No amount of drills ever really get you ready for the feeling that comes over you. I learned that first hand on my days on the Tropicale. It is something that stays with you. But you get back up and cruise again.

  119. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:


    As far as the word “fire”… it sounds like you were reporting exactly what the Captain was being told.

    Smoke does not mean visible fire. Smoke simply means “something” is burning. You can cause smoke from cooking something incorrectly in your microwave with no visible “fire”.

    I think most people understand that extreme heat can be generated (causing smoke) without producing visible flames.

    And since there were no visible flames, the Captain (and you) used the correct terminology.

    It is very reassuring to know the hours and hours of training (and more hours and hours of practice) that all cruise crew go through paid off !!

    Linda (Mom of your friend ~ not one bit worried about his 2 cruises coming up this month~ DJ)

  120. Lari Shank says:

    Parts of this made me laugh out loud, and parts brought tears to my eyes. I wasn’t there, but sounds like Carnival, you, the captain, the crew, handled it brilliantly, and THANK GOD THIS IS TAUGHT AND PRACTICED…

  121. Capt Bill says:


    From one professional to another, I have to congratulate you and the crew for the great job you did during the emergency. I am sure that the crew up to and before this all said that these drills are boring, and time consuming, and a waste of time…. I am sure that they all are now saying the opposite. Having been in an emergency situations before with having a person fall overboard from my boat and the crew doing there jobs to get the person back on board, all the training we went through paid off. As I am sure it did with your crews.

    Please pass to the crew my congrats on a job well done under pressure

    Capt Bill

  122. Jonathan says:

    Kudos to you my man! I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts, and when I heard you were CD on board this ship for that particular voyage I knew all was in good hands.

    I have been anxiously awaiting your story, and it gave me chills.

    Please, be fast with part two! I cannot wait to hear more

  123. dwa76 says:

    Hi John!
    Its so wonderful to hear from you and i can’t wait to hear more.
    I commend you for being cool under pressure and handling the situation.
    Even though Carnival may have suffered a little bad publicity this week, it can at least be proud knowing how well the crew stepped up in a very difficult time.
    Thanks for keeping us informed!

  124. Brent says:

    Incredible recount of everything that happened. I am curious if Spam was actually served. Of course there are various stories on this. Cant wait to cruise with you as my Cruise Director again. Actually I cant wait to cruise Carnival again as to me there really is no better cruise line. Hope you get to relax just a tad this weekend.

  125. ClaraM says:

    We were on the Splendor the first week of October this year. We’ve been following the story all week and were shocked at the extremity of the situation, but amazed that it was handled so well. I had thought I’d be finished reading your blog after we finished our cruise, but I guess not. This is really great writing and I hope you can get the story published somehow when you are finished.

    We would sign up for another cruise on the Splendor next week if it were repaired. My husband did the behind the scenes tour and met the captain and some of his crew and was so impressed with their professionalism (and, of course, how they could all be on the cover of GQ).

    We didn’t see you at all that week when we were on the cruise, except once on the TV. I think you might have been lying low a bit because Heidi and Kai were there and I think you were all sick.

    Thanks for writing your blog and keeping us up to date with the saga.

  126. Jo Myerly says:

    Hi John, Now might be a good time to remind people about how important it is to go to the boat drills at the beginning of every cruise and to pay attention. Knowing what to do can save your life. Dave and I have sailed on the Splendor seven times. When I saw the ship on TV I felt like I was there with you. I know they will take good care of her. Jo

  127. Eric Holen says:

    That was an exciting read. I am looking forward to the book and movie, of course staring Robbie Coltrane as the dashing and daring John Heald.

    Yvette and I are still looking forward to our upcoming 7th Carnival Cruise, now less than 30 days away. Your posting simply confirms the professionalism that all Carnival employees exhibit. Thank you.

  128. James W says:

    The passengers on this cruise were lucky to have you John. I took my first cruise with you in April out of Galveston and you were a real hoot! I am sure your prefessionalism coupled with your great sense of humor kept the passengers from feeling absolutely miserable considering the circumstances. Carnival should also consider themselves lucky to have you!

  129. NYSchauer says:

    Glad you, the crew and passengers are back safely.
    You and the crew did an outstanding job in the worse of situations.


  130. Andrew Bruemmer says:

    I cannot emphasize how much the fact that you are giving us an honest account of events and that Carnival does not prevent you from doing so is important. As someone about to sail on the Imagination and Miracle next week and the Splendor for 2 weeks in February the honesty is very much appreciated.

  131. Suzy V says:

    So glad everyone is safe!

    Let me know if there is anything I can do for you, John, like buy you some new underpants.

    Look forward to P2.

  132. Holden Caulfield says:

    I hope the appropriate government authorities are keeping a record of what is said on this blog.

  133. Soomi says:

    Hi John,
    My friends and I cruised the Carnival Splendor on October 10, 2010 to the Mexican Riviera. Due to the fact that you were our Cruise Director and made our vacation so fun….. I would cruise again on the Glorious Carinval Cruise Ship with absolutely no worries whatsoever.
    You and your crew memebers are the Best !
    Thank you for the great memories….. 🙂

  134. hi john—I have never written before but now I can say how proud I am of the crew and staff on the SPLENDOR– I know some of you personally and know that your are a “carnival family”” I am very proud to say I have sailed Carnival for 25 years and will keep on “singing your paraise” to all my clients. Iw will be sailing myself in February–you will be off the ship but am sure it will be in excellant condition. take care “Jamaica”

  135. Melissa Jurgensen says:


    Wow is all I have to say. Thanks to everyone for their heroism and staying calm in this situation.


  136. Trapper says:

    Great story john. Looking forward to sailing with you may 1st on the magic!

  137. Girldoc says:

    I am on the edge of my seat waiting for more!!! Only you John can have me scared and laughing at the same time! So glad you are well!!! Kudos to you AND the crew. I feel honored to have sailed with you all!

  138. JP Kraus says:

    HOLY crap. I get shivers down my spine just from reading your account. I’m one the (voluntary) Emergency Response Officers for my company, yet I can only imagine the emotions you and the crew must have gone though. From what I’ve learned, you’ve handled this situation brilliantly. Looking forward to chapter 2.

  139. Excellent account of a job well done. I look forward to reading part 2.

  140. Excellent account of a job well done under very dangerous circumstances. I look forward to Part 2.

  141. Sandy Ritter says:

    Looking forward to reading the rest of the story. Sounds like it was a crazy time. You were the CD on our very first cruise in 1997 and we will be going on the Splendor this March 2011. In watching all the coverage of this I have thought oh my what would we do in this situation as my husband is paralyzed from the neck down, well no elevators would have been a problem. But I know the great crew of the Splendor would help us. Looking forward to our cruise in March.

  142. Deborah Rosato says:

    I’m so thankful you, the crew and the guest are all safe. Reading your description of how the entire event happened put me right there. I anxiously await the next part of the TRUE adventure.
    I have to say from what I have seen on the news, most guest have mentioned you by name and have given high praise for how you kept them informed and even made them laugh 🙂

    What I would like to know is how did the magicians help out to entertain the guests during this terrible period? I hope they were a God send to all on board.

    Glad you’re home safe and sound – All my best to you and the wonderful Splendor Crew!!


  143. Sally Poole says:

    Couldn’t help but read your blog after the SP reference. Absolutely love it – and your style. Keep up the good work.

    Best regards from a different Sally Poole

  144. got2bachef says:

    YAY! our John is back! What a blessing for Carnival that you where the CD on when this happened…you are a natural to handle such a situation!

    I have to honestly say I am addicted to you John, I was wondering if The nutty professor had got to you when I didn’t receive any FB updates on Monday.

    But hearing you and Megan are still having your live affair, lets me know all is well!!!

    Great Job!!! to you and the crew of my Magnificent Splendor…you all have been through a lot in the last month, with illness and the death of a crew member…now this…it can only get better….and you are all stronger from it.

    your biggest fan

    Deborah Pitones

    P.S. Shove a bun and make way for my Spirit..we sail in just 15 days!!!

  145. cruisinggrandma says:

    I’m so tired of the media, but I am looking forward to reading the “true” saga of the Splendor from you. I can say that most reports have given you praise for keeping everyone calm and entertained. Many people have also praised the crew as well. Hats off to you, your crew and Carnival Corporation for helping the passengers cope with a bad situation. Hope you enjoyed your hot shower and a hot meal.

    Hugs & Kisses.

  146. Doug says:

    John….we were on the Splendor several weeks ago..Sept 2010….the crew was fantastic on our cruise, and from what I have read, the crew stepped up and handled this crisis professionally as did Carnival Corporate. You should all be proud of yourselves.
    Stay well…take care.

  147. Nancy says:

    Hi John. So glad you and the crew and passengers are all back safely. What an ordeal. Word is that you did an AWESOME job out there. We knew you would.

    To John, the crew, and CCL, you guys did a fantastic job handling a very difficult situation. And we knew you would. That’s why we cruise Carnival.

  148. rlm-Ohio says:

    John, whatever your next ship is, I want to be on it! You were our cruise director on the Carnival Destiny back in 1997. When I heard that you were the CD on the Splendor during this difficult time, I knew that the passengers were in very capable hands indeed. Thank you for sharing your story, your humor, and most of all, your professionalism. CCL handled this with the utmost class, and I can’t wait to sail with them again.

  149. Jeanette says:

    This is funny and serious all at the same time, I am glad to see the crew and senior staff handled it calm and professionally…

    As for the underpants tell me what size and I’ll get you a pair when I see you on the bloggers cruise…..

  150. Kim Venturo says:

    That is where training and rehearsing pay off. You hope you never have to use it but in emergency situations it is essential. Although the media has been doing their best to discredit the cruise line and the cruise line industry in general, they have not succeeded very well. Passengers have been praising Carnival and the crew members up and down. The true test of excellence isn’t when things are going right; it is when there is a crisis. Carnival showed the world how it responses to a crisis and the world, applauded. Except the media. 🙂

  151. Alex G. says:

    Well said, John. I remember hearing that Alpha Team to deck 0 call once on the Carnival Triumph. I don’t remember if it was last year or 2007, but we didn’t lose power or anything serious like this. We were just moving slower than usual. My memory is very faint right now, so I don’t remember everything that happened on that cruise since nothing major happened. Heading to part two now…

  152. Redonna says:

    I am so glad everyone is okay. Nice work crew and staff. I have sailed with Carnival 4 times and have enjoyed every one of them. By the way, I heard that some of the passengers didn’t want the “free cruises” after this happened…well I know alot of people that sailed with me on previous carnival cruises that would be glad to have ’em….

  153. Kathy Reilly-Berman says:

    John, I knew you would tell us the whole story about what had happened. Thanks for your complete honesty. Carnival should be so proud of you and the whole crew of the Splendor. A job well done.

  154. TheDuuuuuude says:

    Rumpy Pumpy?????

  155. Roger Tollerud says:

    Save this blog as a chapter in the book you should write at the end of your service. The pictures you paint from the bridge are vivid and truly amazing. My wife and I left the C. Splendor on 7 Nov so we have fresh memories of you, the Captain and the wonderful crew and we are glad you are all safe. We hope you, all of you, are able to get some much needed and deserved rest.
    By the way, as a career US Air Force guy, I can tell you that there is no better way to respond to an emergeny than to have practiced for it over and over again. When on board I watch the drills that you folks perform and this time your hard work ahead of the emergency served you and your guests very well! WELL DONE!!!
    Roger T

  156. Crazy cajun says:

    Glad to hear from you SMOKEY (spelled corectly)
    I sure hope they give you and the rest of the crew a few days to unwind. After running on adrenilan for 24 hrs or more the body and brain need time to recycle . Don’t need any PTSD cases from this.
    Great job by the whole crew and kudos to the passengers for not making the situation any worse than it was.

  157. Bill Heck says:

    Hello John:
    I read the first few lines and thought about lighting a cigarette, but I don’t smoke. You have brilliant dreams.

    Your words reinforce the benefits of training. You now have national name recognition, calm and yet entertaining in the face of danger.

    Fire is the four letter word at sea. The hard part is putting it out without sinking the ship. Obviously the Splendor is well designed and allowed the teams to get the situation under control.

    Thanks for telling the story.
    Your Friend

    Bill Heck

  158. Paul Epp says:

    clear and humorous as always

  159. Lynn Enzolera says:

    John, glad everything is going to be okay!! We have been honored with your presence as our cruise director 3 times, each one better than the first!! Sounds like you had your hands full!!! I do feel sorry for any of the first time cruisers, all of our experiences have been wonderful, and theirs should have been too!! Hope to have the pleasure of cruising with you again, our Platinum cruise will be booked soon, and on the Splendor!! We are not afraid to cruise Carnival again!! We Love you!! The Enzolera’s Belleve NE

  160. Chuck Bolnick says:


    I am an avid cruiser with CCL. You were the CD on my Glory cruise and we had a blast with you. Matter of fact the other night we watched the video of the talent show and bed time story where you were rode like a “bucking bronco”.

    My entire family was shocked by what happend on the Splendor, but know from experience that the Officers and Crew did an awesome job under the cricumstances. We are pleased to hear what Carnival has done for the passengers.

    In March my entire family and friends will be cruising out of Baltimore on the Pride too celebrate my wifes birthday. This will be my 7th CCL cruise. We are proud to be loyal CCL guests and always look forward to a cruise with CCL.

    We hope the Splendor can resume her sailings as soon as possible. Kudos too you, the staff of the Splendor as well as Carnival Corporate for getting everybody back safley.

    I am glad you still have you great sense of humor.

    Job well done CCL


  161. Tim Howard says:

    John: it sounded like you and the crew had a hell of a job to do,
    and the entire crew did a hell of a job.
    thank the lord that no crew as well as passengers were hurt.
    I hope the ship is not down long and some of the people that made some comments that were wrong will see the truth of all that went on from the time of the fire and until she made it to the dock.

  162. Russ says:

    We have always felt that the Carnival Crews were the best. The care taken making gangways safe in little ports to cleaning up every little spill on the ship. However, fire aboard ship is the worst. The potential for panic and rumors is grand. The Captain, Officers and managers must be very proud of their “sailors” today. We feel we are part of the “Carnival Family” and will be happy to be on the “Carnival Splendor” next July. Congratulations to you and everyone else involved. We can’t wait to read the rest.

  163. cynthia haro says:


  164. Rena says:

    Yes John you are Amazing!! we were on the ship 10-10-10……. We were so happy you were our CD…
    Thanks for keeping us up on the info as you always do… Rena 🙂

  165. Steven O. says:

    My wife and I met John in ’92. It was our one year anniversary, we were on the Ecstasy one year to the date of its one year anniversary. It was our first cruise with Carnival. He is a very personal cruise director that we ever met. He does the best he can at his job. We aslo ran into John on the Sensation and on the Glory. When John leaves a ship to move on to another ship, he always makes sure whoever replaces him, they can fill his shoes. His replacement on the Glory was Mark Price who follows John’s way of dealing with the guest to a t. John is the biggest asset to Carnival Cruise line and really goes over and above the call of duty. Sincerly, Steve and Amy

  166. hi,
    dear sir,
    i was work in casino.i was seen every photo of carnival crue i loveed carnival cruse.
    i want to work in so many friends in carnival.
    because i loved carnival nice .

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  168. lorraine flower says:

    All i can say is John you are amazing.

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  170. Mike Marseguerra says:

    Thank you John in your thong.. Laundry at our home any time in Monterey, CA

  171. R.A. Curtis says:

    I was on the Carnival Pride Oct 17-24 for my first cruise, had a wonderful time, and am wanting to do it again when I can. That said, I’m glad I wasn’t on the Splendor…I grew up in the Army and have had plenty of SPAM already. Any thought as to stocking MREs for future situations?

  172. Jaimee Holdgate says:

    My family and I were fortunate to have John Heald as our Cruise Director on our 2007 cruise in the mediterranean. He made us laugh daily and left us with many great memories from our trip. Our trip was a memorable one because of John…you are a good man I hope one day we can meet up again!…It was an unfortunate incident that happened but I believe that the reason people did not FREAK OUT was because of the kind of person John is……Kudos to a stellar Cruise Director.

  173. Lex says:

    Thank you for these blogs. I have read through day 4 now and will be back for the remaining ones. Excellent job done by all. While I have heard your name mentioned numerous times in the Cruise Critic threads I can now appreciate the many compliments I have read about you. I know this was extremely serious and would have been scary but reading this now, knowing everyone is safe, I am cracking up. Your sense of humor is excellent. Again, EXCELLENT job. It was nice to hear about the hotels and money for employees, guests were taken care of, and offering refunds and vouchers for another cruise. I know some will complain and I am sure things were not perfect (they usually aren’t in situations like these) but Carnival was prepared and brought everyone home safe and sound.

  174. Spartan Kent says:

    Now it’s over lets look at it again
    .”they are not Greek and thus in the lifeboats before the guests.”
    It’s just not fair to say that the crew did not act like Greeks. We British would have thrown the women an children overboard and retired to the bar to drink G&T and the band would have played on. We would have formed a que and said to the person next to us in a load voice someone should complain about this.

  175. Shawna says:

    John, I was on the ship this week. Just wanted to let you know that you were wrong. We were not sick of hearing your voice. Your calm, charming voice is what kept us sane in this situation. I hope you enjoyed your omlette.

  176. Greta Marler says:

    Was a passenger on the Carnival last week and am so thankful you were our CD – thankful you are sharing your thoughts and “behind the scenes” happenings. I loved so your humor – and professionalism. My favorite was the new webster word you created “disapisatated”. Also, your announcing 2 reuniting stations for family members and then realizing “oh no – that’s silly – just meet under the big screen.” Our travel agent had said in our cocktail party Nov. 7 evening that people will choose cruises based on whether you are the CD. Now I understand why. You are truly the best – at the risk of being schmaltzy – Perhaps stressful situations create new found relationships – this passenger now knows a CD named John Heald – You have brought tears to my eyes with thankfulness that you were the one that God put on our ship on our cruise. Thanks so for your blog – your truly are best! Greta Marler

  177. Doug Parker says:

    Oh boy. The only thought that was going through my mind after reading this was ” Thank God” you were on this sailing.

  178. Jackie says:

    Hi John,
    May God Bless you for all your hard work in a situation that was handled very professionally. When I realized you were the CD I knew how fortunate the cruisers were they had you with them.
    We have been on several cruises with you, including bloggers.We look forward to see you again in Feb. We are booked and looking forward to sailing with you again.
    All the best,
    Your New York friends
    Jackie and Stu

  179. Julie Ginsberg says:

    John – Cabin 7-246 November 7th

    Thank you so very much John. It’s still so surreal to me. Fortunately I was not effected by the smoke or the overflow of toilets and my experience was a good one.

    Thanks for the facts and thanks for keeping it light and entertaining after that. My favorite was your important message and for everything to pay attention cuz you had to tell us that Kurt Warner had been kicked off DWTS. You made me laugh at a time that wasn’t very funny.

    Thanks again and I look forward to having you as my future cruise director with Carnival.

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  181. Janice Iwanylo says:

    Good Job by you and the crew.

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  183. Phyllis Wray says:

    I cruisied w/John in 2007 on the Carnival Freedom in Italy, Greece and Turkey, and again on Carnival Splendor arriving back on Sun Oct 7/2010. It was a wonderful cruise and a beautiful ship, but glad I was back home when that happened. Especially since I can have motion sickness.

    I know John did a wonderful job and he is one of my favorite cruise directors. Just wonder where all the crew will go—home or on another ship?

  184. RWB says:

    Yeah, we get it – you’re a straight guy in a field dominated by gay men. You don’t need to focus your on your dreams about women’s breasts and having a boner. Jeez……….talk about self-hate and over-compenstation.

  185. Sherri says:

    looking forward to part 2

  186. Ryan says:

    I’m trying to understand something in your statements regarding the word “fire”. While you may have never said there was fire. You did say, “…have heard we have just used an Alpha Team call which is the alert for our fire teams to attend.” Now though you didn’t say there was a fire. You mentioned the fire team. That implies a fire situation is happening. You can’t fault the guest for putting those pieces together. When you see a fire truck with the sirens on you naturally assume they are going to a fire, not rescue a kitten from a tree.

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  188. Harvey Greck says:

    John, I was on the Splendor, and I must say You, the CREW, and the officers did one helluva job not only keeping us informed , safe and feed under extreme conditions, yes the cold showers sucked , and I still haven’t seen my best friend and his two buddies yet, but I’m sure eventually they will come out to play again soon.
    I would also like to say that as a company, Carnival Miami really came through once we left the ship, and headed to our flights, buses or hotel’s that CCL selected for us, and they were not motel 6’s . I was put up in the Grand Hyatt San Diego and could have stayed as long as I wanted, but I stayed 2 days and nights, got feed well, cleaned up , relaxed ,and all on Carnival without a hesitation, and then flown home to Ft.lauderdale first class,
    For years I have always told people that Carnival is the best of the mass arket cruise lines, and I’ve worked as a crew member and sailed as a passanger on other lines , and I still say Carnival out does them all.
    RCCL may have the biggest ships and gadgets, but NO ONE has crew members like Carnival, they are the warmest,friendliest, and most accommadating there is on the Big Blue Ocean, not only during normal operations, but now I learned you do it under the most extreme conditions too, Thank You Carnival, thank You John, but most of all THANK YOU to the CREW of the Carnival Splendor, see you all again soon on a fun ship.
    Harvey Greck
    Hollywood ,Florida

  189. Jorde Angjelovik says:

    Hi John, i just heard about what happened on Splendor and glad that everyone on board were safe and sound.
    Carnival is the best i know that, i worked for almost 5 years for CCL and i met you on Liberty.
    I was Audio Visual Staff and we worked almost 2 contracts and then you left for the Freedom if i am not wrong (hope you remember me)

    take care and miss Carnival 🙂

  190. Johnny says:





  191. JC says:

    Great story! nice to know everyone was ok at the end

  192. Steve Chaput says:

    I really don’t think that John is giving anything away by using the Alpha Team code. Everybody on the ship heard it and if it wasn’t common knowledge before, it certainly is now. In addition, as a Navy vet, I would not have been confused by the designation and I’m sure there are a number of other vets reading this blog. Having sailed with John and meeting him I know he would never give out information he thought would endanger the passengers or crew of the Carnival fleet.

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  194. Doxakis Nikolaos says:

    After reading the bellow email, I felt very upset for a comment made in regards to the Greeks Merchant Marines…”So now the crew were at their emergency stations and when I say the crew I mean every single crew member went immediately because the Carnival crew are brilliant and…..they are not Greek and thus in the lifeboats before the guests.” I am a Greek citizen, with a 20 years experience at sea, and I have always worked with so many nationalities, and this is the first time that I read such a dreadful comment with no foundation.
    I want you to understand that it is a racist comment, and I ask you to write a public apology and to remove such a sensational realistic statement.

  195. Doxakis Nikolaos says:

    .”they are not Greek and thus in the lifeboats before the guests.”
    It’s just not fair to say that the crew did not act like Greeks. We British would have thrown the women an children overboard and retired to the bar to drink G&T and the band would have played on. We would have formed a que and said to the person next to us in a load voice someone should complain about this.

  196. Doxakis Nikolaos says:

    After reading the bellow email, I felt very upset for a comment made in regards to the Greeks Merchant Marines…”So now the crew were at their emergency stations and when I say the crew I mean every single crew member went immediately because the Carnival crew are brilliant and…..they are not Greek and thus in the lifeboats before the guests.” I am a Greek citizen, with a 20 years experience at sea, and I have always worked with so many nationalities, and this is the first time that I read such a dreadful comment with no foundation.
    I want you to understand that it is a racist comment, and I ask you to write a public apology and to remove such a sensational realistic statement.
    Thank you for your understanding on this important situation.

  197. ashlie vest says:

    I want to tell you John that you were amazing with keeping us up to date the whole time while being onboard the Spendor that week. The crew was amazing and did the best they could to make sure we were all safe and comfortable. I give huge kudos to you. I know it couldn’t have been easy for you that week. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.

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  200. David - Splendor 6/26 says:

    John, you are a brilliant CD and your legacy will always be the superb manner in which you handled the Splendor fire. Your ears must have been ringing recently because I talked to many crew members about you during my recent Splendor cruise and all agree you ate indeed the best. David Bailey, Weatherford TX.

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  204. Linda Krause says:

    Did I miss Part 2 of this intriguing story? Please tell me where I can find it!! Thank you!

  205. Barbara Jones says:

    HI John, I am reading this for the first time. I was on the Splendor for this trip. You’re comments are very accurate. The information you supplied to us, the passengers, was informative and funny. I really looked forward to hearing from you onboard. I AM TAKING MY FIRST CRUISE FOR THE SECOND TIME THIS WEEK. I’m sure all will go very well. See you Sunday.

  206. Mary Jones says:

    My husband and I were there!!! John,
    We have been waiting to take our “replacement” cruise until now so that we could be on the Carnival Magic’s “maiden voyage” out of Galveston. We live in Houston, and only heard rumors that there was going to be “some kind of party” on November 13th. I just found out only minutes ago about the Maroon 5 event and am wanting SSSOOO bad to be a part of it as we’ve been waiting patiently for information about the celebration. I’m willing to pay for tickets, but need to know how or where I could possibly get them!!!! Please let me know how I can do this!!! PLEASE help!!!! Thank you! Mary Jones

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