Smoke On the Water – Part 2

November 12, 2010 -

John Heald

Welcome back. When you left us the crew was at their muster stations, the guests were in their staterooms listening to my voice that was keeping them informed and hopefully keeping them calm. Meanwhile the fire squads have had to come out of the engine room because the smoke was so thick, the captain is thinking what to do next and I am touching cloth.

It was at 7 am when we started getting reports that the smell of smoke was getting heavier and heavier in the guest areas and so after discussion with the captain it was decided that we should move all the guests from the aft section of the ship to the open decks. The conversation went something like this.




Now remember the aft section is the group of cabins on decks 1, 2,6,7, and 8 that are above the engine room and so these were the cabins that were already smelling the smoke. Now I want to underline the word “smelling” in fact I would underline it if I knew how to on this sodding computer but what I want to emphasize is that these cabins smelt the smoke…..they did not see it. I was asked by a reporter today if reports that smoke was “bellowing down the corridor” were true. No, they were not! And so after a few deep breaths to make sure there was no anxiety in my voice, I made this announcement at just after 7 am.



Now the standby was because suddenly I realised I had made a huge mistake. I looked across at the captain who was busy in conversation with the fire squads and asked him one simple word but it was a word that would make such a difference to the guests. And that word was……. “life jackets.” As in do the guests need to bring them. The captain shook his head and I went back to my announcement.


And they did and as they moved to the open decks I kept talking to the guests and the crew on the PA system. I have no idea what I said, it was mostly waffle but waffle intended to calm everyone and I can only hope it worked. During all this time lots of things were happening all around me and I thought I would list some of the things I remember in a list format only because it helps me remember and I thought you might like to know what happens in such an event.

1. The captain had one of his officers call the Miami office operations manager on duty to let him know what was happening

2. The captain instructs all radio and telephone conversations to be conducted in English not Italian so that when they are played back on the voice recorders installed on the bridge that those listening will understand.

3. The captain instructed the 1st officer to make sure each fire squad recorded their oxygen levels with the bridge before they entered the engine room.

4. Duncan, my great friend and hotel director organised the special needs team whose went to help the guests in wheelchairs and those hearing impaired guests to the open decks.

5. The Chief Engineer Marco told the captain that the smoke was white, not black which suggested an electrical fire and not a fuel based fire.

6. The captain instructed the 1st officer to call United States Coast Guard on the VHF Radio and Satcom phone and told them what was happening and what the ship’s position was.

7. The Housekeeping Manager Rudy reported that the smell of smoke was now obvious across the ship.

It was that last one, number 7 that prompted the following conversation.


And I was just about to do this when I heard for the very first time….the dreaded word……. fire on the walkie talkie, but I ignored it and was about to make an announcement when I also heard that we had lost power to all the elevators…….oh bugger. This changed my whole announcement which now went like this.



I once again waffled on with what I hoped were calming words and which I will not bore you with here.

As I said earlier, Duncan and Rudy were organizing their special needs teams and making sure they were carried down the stairs to the open decks. Reports were that all the guests were calm and doing exactly what they were told. And so my attention turned to the word “fire” that I had heard seconds before making my announcement.

OK, let’s pause here so I can tell you something which regular readers of this blog will already know. I am to technology what Oprah Winfrey is to cage fighting. I can’t even operate the coffee make at home so I am not going to try and explain what happened or what caused it to happen.

Obviously this incident is, as I write, under investigation by a team of beards What I can tell you is that when I first heard the word fire it was because one of the fire teams had seen some electrical cabling was on fire……..and that was not good news at all.

It was then that I suddenly realised something which should have been obvious from the moment I walked on the bridge. We were dead in the water. There was no air conditioning, no lights and now no elevators.

It didn’t take Mr. Scott (Star Trek reference) to realise that there was no power on board ……….. this was getting very serious indeed.

Part 3 soon..

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160 Responses to Smoke On the Water – Part 2

  1. Trapper says:

    Waiting with anticipation. See ya may 1st on the magic

  2. Joseph says:

    Very interesting John. Looking forward to Part 3

  3. Cheryl Barcomb says:

    Wow John, I am at the edge of my seat reading your blogs THANK YOU SO MUCH

  4. Comedy Plus says:

    Very serious indeed. Carnival was sure lucky to have you on board even if you wished you weren’t on board. That’s my two cents in any event.

    Waiting for part III. 🙂

  5. lisa wiggs says:

    Thanks for you honesty on this blog as always, John.

    And kudos to Mr. Cahill who was very visible on TV during these last few days. He stood and answered questions himself, instead of sending a public relations person. I was very impressed to see the CEO of a giant company actively managing the situation. I admire him for being the face and voice of Carnival at what must have been a very diffucult time.

    • Barb says:

      I agree Lisa, Mr. Cahill answering to the media was indeed impressive. Carnival is doing everything they can to make the passengers involved feel compensated for their vacation being cancelled. There will always be those who will be rushing to a lawyer to get compensation for their ‘pain and suffering’. Some people will look at this as a chance to get money from a big corporation. Hope none of them get a dime!! It was an unfortunate occurance and that is all. Just glad everyone involved was OK.

  6. Dan Carr says:

    John it sounds like you and the crew were very well prepared and hanled the situation very well. I would not hesitate to cruise Carnival again. Thank the
    Lord no one was hurt and evertone returned safe!!
    Carnival has done an awesome job with this incident!!!!
    I look forward to my next Carnival cruise!!!

  7. Jane and Tom (The Stalkers) says:

    John, when all Carnival ships leave their home port, they should all play “Anchors Aweigh” (as they used to do) in thanks for all the help you were given by the U.S. Navy.

    Thanks, too, for keeping us all informed, as I know all of your Blogging Buddies are anxious to hear everything you have to say. So happy to hear everyone is fine, and from the sounds of the many they have interviewed, many had a good time on their “adventure”. They surely have a lot to talk about in the days to come.

    • Jann Gobble says:

      I second Jane and Tom — “Anchors Aweigh” would be not just appropriate — but especially good to hear. It would remind us that if ever we needed them both the crew *and* the Navy are there to help! Especially as we found out today that the US Navy would not be billing Carnival for $1M USD/day that a aircraft carrier costs to operate — when it intervened to deliver food and aid to the ship. This is the type of situation that I, for one, think the military should help with! As stated in the news: “The Reagan was nearby on a training mission, and responding to the ship was nothing more than a “minor distraction,” said Chief Petty Officer Terry Feeney. (associated press). Please continue this column so we can find out more of what happened from your point of view.

      • Bill Cassidy says:

        I Agree Anchors Away Should be played on every Carnival Ship Leaving a U.S. Port. But for those who don’t understand Maritane Law all ships at sea are required to offer assistance when a distress call is made. & Every Ship Captain is aware of that Law. as for life jackets, each ship as an ample supply at each lifeboat station. as Emergency’s can happen at any time. Remember Murphy’s Law.
        I applaud John for his Wit, along with the Captain & Crew. If the Carnival Ship Splendor were in the U.S. Navy they would be able to display the big { E } on thier Sail.

        Anchors Away. Looking Fwd to our 10th cruise on Carnival.

  8. ayla says:

    dead in the water…

    what an ending to part 2!

    anxiously awaing all remaining bits!

  9. Jodi Davidson says:

    I was on the Splendor with my family in August (I’ll never forget “BAKERSFIELD! I want you! I need you!) I have no doubt that what you say about the crew is true. Our encounters with every crew member on board (with the exception of a jewelry salesperson when we asked for a refund, but whatever) was professional and courteous. All of us agreed that the cruise and everything about it was our best vacation ever. We will be back. My only regret is that we didn’t get the DVD of the shows. Thank you for your part in making our vacation so full of wonderful memories. We will never forget you.

    • Amy says:

      I was also on this cruise, and I will also never forget “BAKERSFIELD”! My husband and I couldn’t believe it was actually the Splendor when we turned on the news. I immediately thought that you guys would handle it great, and I was not let down. I have been on the Splendor twice and have enjoyed every minute! =)

  10. Matt T, NY says:

    Hey John,

    I’m so glad you and every single person from passenger to crew are all safe. As a daily blog reader, I have been thinking of how busy you must have been over the past few days. It felt great reading and seeing on tv all the praise passengers gave both you and the crew. Carnival is really handling this situation that could have happened to anyone extremely well. I’m so glad the crew are being compensated for the loss of tips that they relied on, as they have been working harder than ever. Your comforting announcements and jokes in between seemed to have made the passengers feel much better.

    Your detailed recount of what happened is fascinating, and it’s great having you back on the blog. I’m getting the chills reading some of these detailed descriptions and conversations, and it really is so interesting as to how everything unfolded and how you and everyone handled all of this. I’m looking forward to continuing to read your detailed experience from the past few days. Good job and kudos to you and all of the crew and handling a difficult situation extremely well (as good as you could have) and extremely professional. You are the best, and Carnival is so fortunate to have you as a part of the company.

    -Matt T

  11. Host Mach from Cruise Critic says:

    Hello, my friend.

    I can’t tell you how proud I am of the staff and crew of the Carnival Splendor and, for that matter, the guests.

    As we all know, the WORST possible situation on a ship is fire. From what I have been told and read everyone performed brilliantly.

    All my best to the Splendor Team.


    Host Mach

    • Tania says:

      I agree. I think the Carnival and the Splendor crew handled this very well. It seems that the guests did very well too. I’ve only cruised with carnival once but hope to join them again in the spring and bring some people with. This incident hasn’t changed my mind at all. I’m sorry they all had to go through this but I am very glad that everybody is safe and made it back okay.

      Kudos to all.

  12. bob says:

    such a difference from the hyperbole the media reports had this morning. “smoke in the hallways” “we were told to head to the lifeboats”—thanks John. Can’t wait for the rest of the story

  13. stephanie says:

    I am so glad everybody is ok! I was reading a report and just reading the report you can see everybody’s different personalities. Sometimes I wonder if everybody was on the same boat. We had those who found it an adventure or those who said things were handled as best it could be given those circumstances, andthen you have of course those who say we will be looking for an attorney unless we are compensated how we want to be. The last people I dont understand. You cant always predict what will happen and when you take a trip you have to know somewhere in your mind that however remote something like this could happen. However I dont see the need to run straight to a lawyers office.


  14. Melissa Jurgensen says:

    I am still so very impressed with how Carnival has handled this situation! So professional and caring!!

  15. Amy says:

    I am on the edge of my seat.

  16. Lori H. says:

    I am anxiously waiting for part 3 John!!!

  17. Pete says:

    Read the blog for years, but here’s my first-ever comment:

    Cudos to you and the Carnival exec for posting such a detailed account. It’s very easy to make statements that say nothing and hide behind the ongoing investigations but wise companies know that the truth will eventually emerge and so the best policy is to train your people well and report quickly on exactly what happened when things go wrong.

    Reading the sparse details in the news stories over the past few days I kept thinking that fire at sea, in a compartment filled with fuel, oil, etc has to be one of the biggest threats to a modern cruise ship and the fact that everyone walked off the ship onto dry land and not onto a lifeboat made this a success, even if people were understandably disappointed based on their expectations of a wonderful vacation. From your first two posts, this is seeming to be the case.

    My wife and I will be cruising on the Paradise in a few weeks and I can tell you I’ll be looking at the crew and especially the officers with a bit more understanding and respect after reading this.

    • Deb says:

      Bob I agree with the last part of your post, the crew and officers and all the staff are number 1 and this shows their amazing dedication, I have been following this since it first happened and feel the media has looked for negative in a positive outcome.

    • Melissa Ramsay says:

      Very Well Said!!. I leave tomorrow on a cruise and being my 11th carnival cruise you always see the crew work so hard everytime, but this time is different you just see how much harder they work!

  18. Big Ed says:

    John as we all know how this ends I still wonder if not taking life jackets was the right call. Since you were sending all guest to the upper deck with a “fire” below I think it would have been safer to have them take them with them. IF the fire had got worse it would have been much harder getting back to cabins to get them. With the smoke getting heavier and the lifts not running guest would be running up and down stairs to get the jackets and then go to muster stations if needed.

    • CindyM says:

      I agree with Big Ed in this regard.

      • Sandra says:

        I agree with Big Ed and Cindy..and if I was there with my crew(friends and children)I would have insisted that they take their life jackets…theres no going back if it had gotton worse…

    • bob says:

      there are reserve life jackets by the lifeboats. if the alarm went off during dinner guests wouldn’t be expected to go from the dining room (or casino or showroom) to their cabins before heading to the lifeboats. John’s the expert. No need to second guess him

      • Sarah says:

        I wouldn’t “secdond guess” John..but I have posted elsewhere, that while I remain calm in these situations, I would ahve been calm WITH a life jacket. No way would I have left my cabin without a life jacket and hoped it either worked out, or that I managed to get on a lifeboat in the chaos of 3500 or more people wihtou life jackets. Nope, myself and mine would have taken our life jackets with us. I’m sorry if that means I’m one of “those” people, but my jobi s to protect my family and we w9ould have had a life jacket for each of us. I would have remained in my cabin as requested, but once I’m asked to leave? Nope, I’m taking that life jacket with me.

      • hillary says:

        but is there enough for everyone…i realize people prob would have paniced more if they were told take life jackets,,,but i still think it would have been better safe than sorry…and no second guessing here, just asking!!!

      • Sandra says:

        Being “a mother bear “only relies on my mother bear instincrs when something beyond my control is happening…

      • Traysee says:

        Excellent response Bob..

        John is obviously a highly trained professional who was following directions given to him from his boss.

        I can’t imagine 3200 cruisers plus staff with life jackets on 2 decks of any ship… let alone 4 days..

      • Sarah says:

        I wouldn’t have kept it on for four days! People returned to their staterooms, they didn’t stay on deck for all four days. But, yes, when I am asked to leave my stateroom, I’m taking my life jackets. I know they have reserve life jackets, but I don’t know if they have enough, and I know that people panic, and I would simply have mine with me. I have cruised, they don’t take up THAT much room. If, as Part 3 shows, there was room for people to sit in chairs, there was enough room for people to have on their life jackets. Like I said, maybe that makes me horrible, but I have seen far too many incidents where people died because they followed the instructions (9/11 and the Twin Towers, for one), and those that didn’t follow the instructions (they were told to stay where they were-many left anyway) survived. I don’t know, it’s a very difficult situation, and though I trust that John IS an expert, I’m still going to follow my gut, and my gut says “Fire on a boat…request to leave my stateroom…I’m taking my life jacket.”

    • Roberta says:

      No, I believe he did the right thing. For those of you that never have been on a cruise, You will learn from your “muster station drill” before the ship set sails, that there are life jackets on the life boats. Enough for everyone. If he was to announce “bring your life jackets”, can you imagine what the scene would have turned into??? People running in dark halls, people falling down, getting trampled. No, his call was RIGHT. I’m not a Carnival fan, but I believe so far, they handle a bad situation the best way they could.

      • Sandra says:

        Ive been on many cruises but I still would have taken life jackets of my own for my loved ones..just in case mass rioting broke out…just saying

      • Sarah says:

        I’ve also cruised before, and while I understand there are life jackets on lifeboats-what if people panicked and launched the boats too soon (such as the Titanic)..what if I don’t make it into a boat? What if my boat is overfilled and there are not enough? What if I have to jump before I get into a boat? life jacket is too important for me to risk not having one in such a situation-now, were I already on deck, I wouldn’t try to go to my stateroom to get one, but if I’m in my stateroom and I’m asked to leave? It’s coming with me. I do agree his call was right, but I admit I wouldn’t have followed the instruction and I would have taken my life jacket.

    • Linda Hernacki says:

      I was thinking the same thing Ed, but I wonder if maybe they have a storeroom with 3,000 PLUS jackets just in case of something like this, and they can hand them out if need be. Just wondering! Linda

    • Jennifer says:

      My daughter was on this cruise, she said “life jackets are at all emergency stations plus in the guests cabins” It wasn’t as if they had to go back to their cabins t retrieve life jackets..No matter where they were life jackets were available..So, John’s decision made no difference to passenger safety. He as all the Crew and Carnival should be applauded for the way they handled this unfortunate situation. My daughter her husband and twin 11 year old daughters are already looking forward to the next cruise..This was their first but won’t be their last..They all had nothing but great things to say about Carnival, John and the rest of the Crew.. I add my personal thanks to them all for taking such good care of my beloved family..Thank You!!!

  19. Mark Perez says:

    Hey John i was wondering what is going t happen to all of the crew members like were are they oing to go because i was on splendor on september 26- october 3 and i was talking to lindsay our club director in the O2 and she said she lived on the ship s what is going to happen to her is she gong to stay on the ship or are they moving all of the crewto a new ship?

  20. Rob Griffith says:

    As a passenger on this cruise it is really interesting to hear what you were seeing and thinking up on the bridge.

  21. Mark Perez says:

    Hey John i was wondering what is going t happen to all of the crew members like were are they oing to go because i was on splendor on september 26- october 3 and i was talking to lindsay our club director in the O2 and she said she lived on the ship s what is going to happen to her is she gong to stay on the ship or are they moving all of the crewto a new ship??

    • Liz says:

      I read in the newspaper, that at least temporarily the crew has been moved to hotels, paid for by Carnival. Additionally, they are still receiving their salaries and tips that they would have expected, should this not have occurred.

      • Traysee says:

        Carnival is a class-act. The way they have handled this unfortunate incident needs applauding. I cannot begin to imagine dealing with 3200 people plus staff for 4 days without food, accomodations and running water. Thanks the good Lord the majority of the passengers were understanding although disappointed. It truly shows muster drills are a pain in the *ss, yet needed. Glad Splendor made it back to CA with little minimal incidents with passengers. The Crew and John did a fantastic job!

    • Steffanie says:

      I was on that same cruise with you 🙂 I believe Carnival is taking care of the crew by putting them in hotels, paying them for time now on the job and also the gratuties that they are out.

  22. Janice says:

    John, You are receiving flying raves on how you handled everything here on Chicago TV. Your name has been metioned on all the news reports! Way to go John, Carnival is getting positive reports because of you! We Love you so much and are so happy you are OK. God Bless You!

    PS You really like Spam don’t you! Too bad they didn’t sent some Dirty Dick (cake in a can) for all to enjoy! Smile 🙂

  23. Mark Rosenthal says:

    It is amazing how smoothly things went, I know training sometimes seems boring for the crew but in times it is needed it really kicks in. Although the life jackets were not needed, thank goodness, maybe the people who complain about the drill will now think twice. Amazing story with what we know a happy ending in that all are on land and safe and our Los Angeles based Splendor will soon be back up and running her normal route. Looking forward to part 3

  24. Denise Almanza says:

    thanks again… waiting anxiously!!

  25. Theresa says:

    John I was on the Splendor 2 weeks ago and I know you and the crew were great. I am sure that what you did was just what these people needed. I am so glad I was not there. As this time I was on crutches and could not do the stairs so God knew to hold the engine a few more weeks.

  26. Patricia "Carole" Holley says:

    Here’s a “Virtual Salute” to you, John, the Captain and all the crew for a job well done. I’m so glad to know everyone is safe. I know that you all were brilliant (as you like to say) at your jobs We’re going on the Dream Dec. 4, 2010 and then on the Elation April 9, 2011. Having more than 25 cruises, we wouldn’t hesitate to take many, many more on Carnival and I’ve been telling everyone who would listen that I knew all would be well since the passengers were in good hands. Glad to hear from you again.

  27. Robert J. Colonna says:


    Like over 10 years ago on the C/V SENSATION in 1997, you are a supreb CD then as you are now, even under emergency situations. You surely are a great asset to the CARNIVAL organization. I also had you as a CD twice on C/V DESTINY in 1998. I have been on about 18 cruises since 1997 (11 on CARNIVAL) and I only wish there were CD’s as good as you are, never found one. You are simply the BEST, BAR NONE.

    I am a retired US Navy Master Chief, and one thing I am surprised about is that it appears that all of C/V SPLENDOR’S electrical generators are in one (1) compartment, is that true? I would think in an emergency situation that the ship engineers could light off a generator located in another compartment so electrical power would not be totally lost and provide confort to the passengers and crew.

    Twas good reading your blog about the emergency situation on SPLENDOR and do hope to see you soon on another CARNIVAL cruise in the future.

    All the best to you and yours and the CARNIVAL organization.

    Bob Colonna, Va Beach, VA

  28. Karin says:

    John – excellent blog – and thanks to the person who posted the video clip – really helps put it all into perspective. I am very Impressed by your calm voice, reassurance, etc. during a very scary time. Kudo’s to you and the entire crew! So glad everyone is safe and I am very much looking forward to cruising with Carnival in the very near future! I know I will be in good hands.

  29. "Brittimbones"/Sally Dagon Head says:

    Incredible….thanks for sharing, John. I’ll keep checking for Part 3 of your review. My, oh my….

  30. tamiloo says:

    thanks for actual updates. nothing like getting it from the horses mouth so to speak…. Jerry is doing a fine job as well. I know the crew would not let Carnival down in her time of need….they also love her as much as the guests that travel on board her.

  31. All of us here at the Travel Agency have been playing Monday morning quarterback and we think that CCL has done a super job in handeling everything. Our BDM stopped by this morning with donuts and she agreed with us. We are all just glad that nobody was hurt and you are ok. BTW I’ve got people on their way in to book a Carnival Cruise! Just because this has happened it doesn’t mean that this incident has dampened anybodies willingness to cruise. You Rock John. Just very happy you are ok.

  32. steven kingsley says:

    i am glad that everyone got out safe. the media ofcourse is trying to put a neg spin on things. my wife is a bit affraid to travel on a cruise now but it will soften over time. we are planing on taking our first cruise. i hope when we do take a cruise we can have u on the ship i want to meet u and shake ur hand

  33. Suzanne Hope says:

    John, I was watching the news and reading the reports from passengers and everything I read and heard said what a remarkable job the crew did during and after the fire. You were mentioned by name several times as not only keeping everyone informed but that you did a heck of a job at keeping the panic at bay. Many even commented on how funny you were. In such a situation, that is remarkable. Kudos to you all!

  34. Trapper says:

    John. Thanks again for sharing with us. My partner and I cruised on the freedom it’s first and only year in Europe. 4 of us are traveling on the may 1st voyage of the magic. We can’t wait to be the first passengers! Is there anything you can do to add to this excitement? We are 4 30 something fun loving cruisers. We would love to do the chefs table. Can’t seem to find your email address anywhere. At any rate I can me reached at Thanks in advance!

  35. Grace says:

    John, Thank you for taking time to write this blog on what must be a very busy day for you. Just wanted to let you know that the interviews we’ve seen on the Today show and local Minnesota news teams all mention what a great job the cruise director John did. While some are whinning almost everyone interviewed tell how great the crew were. Those of us who read your blog know your great at your job, now the rest of the US does too. I hope your wife can see some of these comments.
    Your friend, Grace

  36. Katherine says:

    I have never had a very high opinion of Carnival before but this incident actually makes me want to sail with you! I hope Carnival reads this and realizes how much respect they are gaining by the way they have handled this situation. Kudos to everyone from the staff on the ship to the suits on land. I hope other cruise lines take an example from you….

  37. emma says:

    can’t wait for the next blog! OMG this is like waiting for the release of a new book like harry potter or twighlight. LOL

  38. Dearest John,
    I was on board the Splendor during this whole fiasco and I just wanted to personally Thank You, THANK YOU! For being so completely amazing, and light hearted, and funny, and informative, and just more than anyone could have ever imagined during such circumstances. You were phenomenal, and handled everything just so incredibly well! And the jokes! Oh, how the jokes saved us! Tea-pee! U- boats! Your undies?! Erotic dreams of crispy bacon! How could we not laugh? Thank You! Thank You so much! You are such a blessing! And we are all completely grateful!
    😀 Thank You,
    Stacy Moffatt

    • Steve O says:

      OMG Stacy…….did he mention his infamous UNDERPANTS? They are in a category all by themselves. Thank YOU for your wonderful attitude, YOU are remarkable.

      Steve O

  39. Dodi says:

    For reference, if you hit Ctrl & U right before you type, it will underline the word. Hit it again to stop underlining. Ctrl + i for italic. Ctrl + B for bold.

    Thanks for the info!!

  40. Dead in the water… buggers. Thankfully, I know all ends well or I’d be quite upset at how you ended part II.

    I can’t wait to meet you on the BC4. Will I get to meet Ketut and your underwear as well? Just wondering.

    Big hugs :]

  41. Girldoc says:

    John I am unable to work. You have my complete attention. Perhaps I should cancel my office?

  42. John awesome cant wait to read on

  43. Pingback: Part Two of John Heald’s Carnival Splendor Post | Carnival Cruise Lines News

  44. Debra G says:

    OMG John I can’t imagine the stress everyone was under. My heart goes out to all of you–and especially you because you were the liaison for the passengers. I think Carnival did a bang up job considering the terrible muddle this was.

    What more could be said? The one thing I am so impressed with is that Carnival has taken such great care of the employees/crew as well. Stand up job, Carnival!

  45. Steve O says:

    Now that everyone is safe we must address your “underpants situation”. I still have friends in San Diego….should I have them bring down a few dozen pair of something that looks like it came from Marks & Spencer? Do let me know 🙂 BTW, how is Ketut doing?

    Your worried old mate,
    Steve O

  46. cheria says:


    Thank you for taking the time to share with us trough your eyes,,, We have missed you .. so glad the Carnival family is safe…

    Thanks again…
    regards, Cheria

  47. Great to get a first hand account of the activities!!! Thanks, John.
    I’m new to the business. After a wonderful cruise in Feb. aboard the VALOR, my wife and I started a home based agency. I’ve learned a great deal reading your blogs.
    The one thing I haven’t heard mentioned is the fact that you John, the SENIOR CRUISE DIRECTOR for Carnival was aboard this ship. I don’t believe in “coincidence”. While I’m sure several of the other cruise directors could have done a good job, your experience and calm (although I’m sure your internal feeling were a little out of sorts) reasoned actions were an important factor in maintaining an orderly response from the guest and crew. I do believe there was devine direction in your placement on this cruise
    John, I’m looking forward to meeting you some time soon in person. Hope to hear you are back on the water soon.

    Anxiously awaiting part 3 !! 🙂

  48. Marjie says:

    My ex sis in law and her husband were on the ship when this happened. I have not had a chance to talk to them yet, but am so glad they are safe along with everyone else. From what I have read and heard Carnival did an excellent job with what could of become mass confusion. We are booked for the Splendor next May and sure hope she is up and cruising. We love Carnival Cruises.

  49. John says:

    I have sailed many times with Carnival and have always been impressed with the courtesy and professionalism of the crew. Carnival should be proud to have you aboard as this blog has exhibited your true care and compassion for the passengers and crew. Please accept my congratulations for a job well done.

    I look forward to my next cruise on the Carnival Valor in March 2011.

  50. John Barbieri says:

    Keep them coming John, very informative and entertaining at the same time!

    Thank God everyone on the ship is OK. I congratulate you and the officers and crew of the Splendor.

    Can’t wait to cruise with Carnival again!

  51. Susan says:

    Can’t wait to hear more – it is amazing to hear from this perspective.

  52. Lisa says:

    I have been so impressed with the way Carnival has handled this. I love reading your blogs and facebook updates. I have been nerves at times about my upcoming cruise because it’s my very first one, but way more excited than nerves. Reading this blog though makes me feel ever safer with Carnival. 🙂

    • rachel says:

      You are going to have a blast . You probably will want to be a cruiser for life . Have a woderful time

    • Mary says:

      Don’t worry a single bit….you are in the best of hands! Be prepared to have a fantabulous time! I only wish I could go again….but I just got back – we were on the Halloween cruise (the one right before the Smoke on the Water Cruise) and I only wish I could celebrate Halloween on a Carnival cruise every year for the rest of my life! We had friends on the Smoke on the Water cruise…..will they be going again? You better believe it!!! They can’t wait!

  53. Betty says:

    John we are so glad that everything ended with you all (crew and guests) back in port safe and sound. We were with you in Sept. and loved our time on the Splendor.
    There was a lot of news coverage of the ship and what was or wasn’t happening on the ship. I am sure some is true and some not.
    I love Carnival and cruising and when someone had a negative to say about cruising or Carnival I stopped and explained to them this could happen on any ship. Bad things just happen sometimes and you have to make the best out of that kind of situation. I was very impressed with Mr Cahill and how he handled the public information on the news. He was the person that Carnival needed to have stand there and tell us all what happen.
    Carnival was very lucky to have you on this ship when it happen because with your humor and common sense you had to have made it easier on the guest and eased their panic.
    I am sure Carnival will learn from this accident . For those out there who say they will never cruise again, think about what you just said. If you get stuck on an elevator are you NEVER going to get on one or if your in a fender bender are you NEVER going to get in a car.
    I hope you have some time to take a deep breath and gather your thoughts and get some rest. Our thoughts and prayers have been with you all during your time “dead in the water” and I just wanted to let you know. Take care John.
    Hugs from Paul & Betty

  54. Alex G. says:

    Just finished part two. I love how the news like to exaggerate everything! I’m am so glad that the people were still in good spirits despite the circumstances. Can’t wait for Part Three!!

  55. Jeannette says:

    reading this, i almost feel like i was there.

  56. Cheryl Killian says:

    Wow, it’s scary just reading this, but especially for the crew.

  57. leah blickensderfer says:


  58. Deb says:

    From my cruising experiences, you can’t avoid the “old” people! I can say that because my 77 year-old mother complains about them too! These people expect everything in life to be about them–their comfort, their right-of-way, first in line, etc- totally them! These people would not have been satisfied if all had gone well. Of course, they’ll be the first also to make their voice heard to everyone who will listen (especially the media…).
    I work with the public everyday–there are those that you can never please. They must be hell on a ship!
    I can’t wait for my next Carnival cruise!!!

  59. Randall Murphy says:

    You’ve probably been sent this a few dozen times, but just in case…

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

  60. catmama044 says:

    Hello Dear John.

    First I have to say you have done an outstanding job. But, those of us who know you would expect no less. This incident has even made our local news in Ohio. I have heard many first hand accounts, with 99% of those being positive. You, the Captain, the Crew and the entire Carnival team are to be commended on a job well done – and done above and beyond expections – even in (no) light of a very serious situation.

    We will be sailing a similar itineray on the Carnival Spirit in February and I am very confident that we will have an excellent cruise and that above all else, Carnival will be working double-time to ensure everyone on board is safe.

    Looking forward to reading Part 3!

    Lori of the Evil Crew

  61. Micah says:

    I happen to be working from home today, and I’ve got CNN on in the background. I was quite startled to hear John’s voice coming from the TV! They’ve gotten ahold of some of the video shot by people on the ship, taken during the initial announcements. I find it remarkable that what you are reporting you said here on the blog thingy matches the video they played.

  62. Audra Schultz says:

    I have sailed with Carnival before…I think
    Carnival handled this situation perfectly…thank god everyone is safe…I love Carnival…planning a cruise in April out of Miami with my husband and two kids and defiantly booking Carnival!

  63. Cindy says:

    I am so impressed with the way Carnival handled this crisis, and how they are compensating their passengers and crew. For those thinking of suing, shame on you! An unfortunate incident occured, but thanks to Carnival, no one was hurt and everyone is being well compensated in my opinion. I’ve only cruised once in my life (with Carnival) and now I see I made a good choice! I will sail with them again next month, and whenever I can afford to vacation again. This whole incident reinforced the great image Carnival already had with me!

  64. jeff says:

    Thanks for being the person you are and providing us with these updates.

  65. greer says:

    I am glad everyone is safe. As a long time Carnival cruiser[ first was the Mardi Gras!!]-I am glad that the company refunded the cruise etc.
    My real surprise is that with no proper sanitation[ HOT water] and no refrigeration that there was no food poisoning outbreak, no norvo-virus etc. Makes me wonder about the veracity of such on ships where there IS proper sanitation–humm?
    Thinking of retirement after this adventure?

  66. Bob Elliott says:

    Thank you John

    I am extremely disappointed that my wife and I are not getting ready for our cruise (we were scheduled for next week on the Splendor for our 49th anniversary).

    As I read your description, everything is just as I envisioned it. All I can say is that the passengers were fortunate to have John Heald as their CD.

    While I will miss seeing you for our 49th, we will be with you for our 50th next year on the Magic.

  67. Marty Harrison says:

    To the crew of Carnival Splendor and in the great traditions of seafaring men and women–WELL DONE!

    To the leadership of Carnival Corporation–your actions during this event will serve as an example for corporations all over the world as to how to “get out in front” and take care of your passengers and crew in a truly classy manner. Another WELL DONE. I have cruised with you in the past and I plan to cruise with Carnival someday in the future.

  68. rachel says:

    Looking forward to part 3 . As I said n part 1 . Carnival is the best . Carnival has always made safety of the passager priority this is why no one was hurt .
    I swear reading your blog makes me want to get on one of the ships now . I know I sail with you I’m safe .
    I was on a RCL cruise & there was a fire but they kept it huss huss . You & the CARNIVAL team can be trusted . I’m really thinking of booting a cruise this weekend for xmas to show my support to Carnival
    P.s Its also a great excuse to cruise on the best cruiseline . Cruise #26

  69. Marci says:

    Long time loyal fan of yours and Carnival –

    Thank you for your candid and honest assessment.

  70. Ballardite says:

    John, thanks for mentioning how the situation was handled with the deaf & hearing impaired passengers as you might understand. It can be frustrating hearing the voice on the PA, and not having a clue as to what is being said- and that is with the normal ‘day at sea’ announcements, not an emergency situation.

  71. Cindy Jones says:

    Now maybe all passengers will take the muster drill more seriously and pay attention! It is so embarassing that the crew knows just how serious these drills are, when passengers want to joke, hide out, use their cell phone and bring drinks. Yes, it is your vacation, but safety folks!

  72. Frank says:

    OMG …. this is something that you would see in a MOVIE. John ….. can’t wait for Part 3.

    This could very easy be made into a Hollywood Movie.

    From what you have said so far …. I am very Impressed with Captain Cupisti.

  73. Helen says:

    We love you John! You handled it very well! We are so proud of you! So glad everyone is safe!

  74. John, This is VERY informative. Walking the general public through this event should inspire confidence in the professionalism, dedication and ability of the Carnival (and Carnival sister companies who operate under the same proticol) and give them confidence that their safety and the safety of the ship is of prime importance on a cruise, even for jolly old (kinda) cruise directors. In a horrible situation the Carnival crew performed as trained and expected. As the Aussies say, “Good on you!” Who ever said the Entertainment Department was all fun and games!

    Regards, Richard

  75. Fraser Muir says:


    you and everyone at Carnival are true professionals. This could have been much worse and I pat you on the back for the work you, the captain and your crew did during these trying times.

    I urge everyone to not listen to the idiots who are looking for there 30 seconds of fame or a reason to get rich quick. Carnival was very generous in the offer of a refund and a free cruise, all they had to do was a refund. They also opened the bar come on that would make any bad situation better.

    way to go john and the crew of the Splendor

  76. Gary says:

    John; This is sounding more like a best seller and less like a blog. While I read this I can actually feel your sense of poise and determination. Your unruffled professional stature during your announcement has me just scratching my head and thinking wow this guys good. No, both he and his team are very good. Hat off and god speed. Now I have to try to set sail with you. Is there any MAGIC left in your bag of tricks?

  77. abby lea says:

    I have cruised several times on Carnival and would not hesitate to go again. Nothing is risk free and they seemed to handle it the best they could. I’m sure they learned lessons if it happens again but I still think cruising is the greatest way to travel!!

  78. Emma O'Neill says:

    Cant wait until the next installment. But credit to the team of the splendor for dealing with a very difficult situation.

  79. Tim says:

    I am a loyal Royal Caribbean customer. That being said, a big THANK YOU from ALL CRUISERS to the STAFF whether on this ship or not. It seems all acted professional, caring, and DID THE JOB THEY WERE TRAINED TO DO!!! My hat is off to all of you and CONGRATS!!!


  80. Hello John, reading your blog gives me goose bumps all over my body. I was on the Slpendor in 2008 12 day cruise of Italy. One thing I do know if I had to expeirence an incident as such, NO other Crusie line I rather be on then a Carnival Ship. Six trips so far and couting. God Bless you and my vacation family.

  81. Jan Bode says:

    John – if this fire was the week before and my sister and I were on board, there is no one I would have wanted to be there with than the crew of the Splendor. They were all VERY professional, especially during the Coast Guard ship-to-air rescue. Carnival truly trains it’s staff well. Thank you.

  82. Pat Murray says:

    While on board the Carnival Dream heading for Barcelona, we experienced a storm at sea. The Captain made the decision to change course for the safety of the passengers, crew, and the ship. We were very disappointed not to be going to Barcelona but extremely pleased that the Captain was not about to take any chances with our lives. I will continue to cruise with Carnival.

  83. Larry Forbes says:

    John, I have been following this since news about it came out Monday. Question, why no life jackets, had it been worse the Capt. would have had to ask all those guests to go back into a harmful situation to retrieve them?

  84. Sharon H says:

    I am not a blog reader but this time I read and am anxiously awaiting part 3. I have cruised with Carnival on many occassions and will again. I think John, the crew, the captain and the passengers all deserve a round of applause. Everyone cooperated and that’s why things were not caotic. It seems the most people were complaining about was the smell of the rancid food. Unfortunately that couldn’t be helped. But maybe now Carnival will stock up on non-perishables as well. Maybe some beef jerky, peanuts, crackers, pretzels, stuff you would pack if you were going camping. Or maybe they can splurge and stock up on food from NASA. 🙂

  85. Mark Goldberg says:

    Appreciate your approach to customer communication and the catharsis of writing a blog. You provide an fascinating insider’s view behind the scenes, without the distortions of mainstream media.

    We are on the Dec 26 sailing of the Splendor; I’d like to enjoy a single malt or two with you then.

  86. Millyj says:

    Thanks John for all the updates! I’m awaiting part III anxiously! Carnival is the best! I dont care what ANYONE says! Very professional and the crew did the very best that they could! GO CARNIVAL! (9/2011 – Liberty for me!)

  87. Jebediah says:

    You were all fantastic! Thank you for doing such a great job, see you again soon

  88. Kathy Helm says:

    I’m waiting for part 3. This is good, but I also wonder perhaps it would have been a good idea to take the life jacket.

  89. Brian says:

    Well done you did the job, I hope that you get the praise that the any CD in that position would have got….

  90. itfitz says:

    Someone said nobody’s cell phones worked either? that true? If so why?

    • itfitz says:

      If that is true then what caused that? Someone suggests a China warning? They did something? Nice Theory but very very interesting if true? I think my friend is nuts that suggests something amess>

    • Calicruising says:

      They said that it was due to be out in the water and away from cell sites. I do not know the logistics, just passing it on.

    • Bill Heck says:

      The shipboard cell was down due to the power failure. No shore based cell towers in range, until the ship was towed to shore.

  91. Marty Paul says:


    Thanks so much for your detailed & candid account of what occurred out there. The actions of Carnival, te Splendor’s capatian & crew and yourself, just confirm my belief all along that Carnival is a class company and does the right thing, even under such trying circumstances.

    Standing by for Part 3 AND, pleae get back to sleep so you can finish the Megan Foxx dream…even if for it is only for 3 minutes…

    Marty Paul

  92. Elsine says:

    I hope that something like this never ever happens again but I am absolutely certain that the man upstairs knew what he was doing when he picked you and Captain Casputi to take care of things. The passengers and crew couldn’t have anyone better to be in charge. Even passengers quoted in my local newspaper said the CD John Heald did a great job iof keeping everyone positive. Great job to all the Staff and Crew of the Carnival Splendor

    • Mary says:

      Yes, John is a very entertaining guy! I would watch his broadcasts on the TV in our room and he was hilarious! The way he explained what to do and what to see and what to avoid when getting off at each of the ports in Mexico was informative and educational and at times downright hilarious! I was on the Halloween cruise, a week before this one, first one for me and my husband and we had the best time ever! Another friend who was on our cruise said of all the cruise lines she has been on, this cruise line was right up there with the best of ’em! Bravo for a job well done! I’m a fan!

  93. Calicruising says:

    What an amazing job that you and your crew did to try and keep everyone calm. Here is part of a story in today’s Daily News. Our local California paper.

    “We slept all day, the first day,” Geoffrey Klinge, who was honeymooning with his new wife, Sabrina Klinge, said Friday on NBC’s “Today” show.

    Passengers on lower decks had to climb as many as nine flights of stairs to get to the cafeteria only to meet long lines that stretched on for hours. By the time those at the end got to the food, they were left with tomatoes and lettuce, Haslerud said.

    Some passengers carried food to those who used walkers and canes and couldn’t climb stairs to reach the food lines.

    “We have not had a hot cup of coffee in four days,” said passenger Fahizah Alim, 26, of Sacramento, who ate at night by flashlight. “This was my first cruise and it was no luxury, no fun.”

    On Thursday morning, people clutched those cold cups of coffee and cheered when the San Diego horizon came into view.

    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.”\

    And there you have it:) Hip Hip Hooray.

  94. heidi says:

    Dear John,
    i have been following this story ever since it first broke. i am glad to see you are home safe. as a former flight attendant, and currently an airline safety professional, i enjoyed your blog thingy very much, your posts were very informative and touched with just enough gallows humour(spelt correctly). i applaud your calm demeanor, and i’m sure you were a rock for all of the passengers. we will probably hear a lot of other stories in the next few days, thank you for sharing yours. kudos to you and the crew, stay strong!
    sincerely heidi (the best name EVER!)

  95. Tracey Jason says:

    So glad everyone is safe and back on land. When reading Johns story my son (14yrs old) new the name Rudy he was are cabin stewart some cruise back ( We have been on 8 Carnival).Rudy was one of the best cabin stewart we have ever had.Love Carnival will be sailing them in March. Thanks for keeping everyone safe.

  96. I am not surprised at the professionalism of the Carnival crew. Since retirement I have had many cruises out of Tampa. Great job everyone. See you soon. John, I have sailed with you – you are thoroughly enjoyed by all.

  97. I am not surprised at the profesionalism of the Carnival crew. Since moving to Florida I have had many cruises out of Florida – some with John – and I cannot say enough good things about all Carnival members. They are the best.

  98. Erik Bauernfeind says:

    Wow, what a great blog. Some friends and I are scheduled to go out on the 21st of November, I am not sure it looks good at this point. Sounds like the damage may be extensive.

    Oh well, if we do get to go on time it will be nice to know that the crew has been there, done that, and made it back.

    Look forward to part III.

    Take care, Erik

  99. Shelley Stewart says:

    I am so glad that everyone is safe. I think the passengers were truly lucky to have you on board. You are one of the funniest people I have ever met (on Freedom the one with Willie Banger and Anita) and I am sure you made the trip more bearable than anyone else could. Can’t wait for the rest of the story.

  100. Keeley Higgins says:

    Great Job John & ur crew

  101. Mary says:

    We got off the ship on Sunday….as we got off, who would’ve thought that the next cruise would become what it did. We also had friends who did go on the “Smoke On The Water” cruise so talk about “Survivor Guilt”….We had an absolutely wonderful time….the best vacation ever for me as I truly got to let all my hairs down and just enjoy! I was shocked (!!) to hear about what happened afterwards but in speaking with our friends…who in the telling of their story had me absolutely howling with laughter…it sounds as if many people were able to take an unfortunate event and make the best of it….God bless every single one of you….I never stopped thinking of all of you!

  102. Luggy says:

    Going on the splender dec.5 I hope it’s ready by then. There telling us we will sail. If something happens I will have my life vest in hand.

  103. Calamitygirl says:

    Sounds like you did a fine job of keeping passengers informed and calm! Not an easy task considering the situation!

  104. anne black says:

    so you were dreaming of a female with a glowing bottom while the ship was burning in the lower aft? spooky!

  105. John you and the crew were great I just got off a cruise last month on the carnival Dream and I am booked on the magic
    next year. Carnival has a great training program for their crew

  106. JOEYG says:

    Cudos John Heald I cannot wait for part three. Last week I read every possible article I could with reguard to the Splendor. It was good to hear all were fine, the arrangements made by Carnival for the guests. If ever I was in that same situation I would hope the officers and crew on my ship were of the same breed as the ones on the Splendor. Of course thers John I think in any situation he makes you aware of all thats going on and keeps the situation under control. I look forward to my next cruise with Carnival and hope I can at some time sail with John.

  107. jojo says:

    Anxiously awaiting to hear part 4. I am so impressed with your actions and the rest of the crew. We learn from every emergency incident. Don’t be too hard on yourself for the “should of’s and could of’s”. The Captain and crew are heroes to me – everyone came home safe. That is what counts.

  108. Steve C. says:

    I can understand why some folks would insist on taking their life jackets with them, but also agree that John & the Captain made the correct decision. Thousands of folks running about, mostly with life jackets off and dangling, would have had people tripping and getting in each others way. Witness some folks after any standard drill before leaving port. I’ve been lucky not to go tumbling down a flight of stairs cause some half-wit was dragging his jacket behind him. Now imagine this in semi-dark hallways and stairwells.

    Each lifeboat is equipped with jackets and extra ones are available at the stations. People who have seen TITANIC once two often should recall that that disaster is one of the reasons why ships now have enough liferafts & jackets for the entire number passengers & crew.

  109. Spartan Kent says:

    Now it’s over lets look at it again

    When you see two lobster pots hanging from the mast it does not mean that you are fishing

    No power, adrift, not nice at all, no engine noise, no power, no lights until the emergancy lights come on

    This is were passengers start to really worry and we see if the training of the crew is up to par

  110. Tulay Brumback says:

    I am just happy that every one was safe , and i am sorry that you all had to experience this.Tulay

  111. Mac says:

    So by telling everyone not to bring their life-jackets, You were sure they would never need them? what if they did and were unable to return to their cabins?

  112. Doug Parker says:

    I have always stalked your blog and secretly read all your musings. Props though — you and the team did an excellent job. Props to Carnival Corporate and Public Relations too. I dang sure wouldnt want to put out all these media fires (pardon the pun)!

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  114. Dawgdaze says:

    I am scheduled on a jan. 15th Carnival cruise which is my first.. I have to admit, I was more than a little concerned when I first started hearing reports of a fire on one of their ships and being “dead in the water” for days.. But after reading your well written and very entertaining blog thingy I am no longer that concerned.. It’s clear we will be in good hands. Thanks for your candid account..

  115. RESPECT to all OF you Chief !!!

  116. Stephanie says:

    I am a bit concerned that you referenced your crew is not “Greek” and therefore not in the lifeboats before the guests. HMMMMMM I come from a Greek seafaring family and I can assure you that no self respecting Greek sailor or Captain would EVER do that sort of thing.
    Many of the ships Captain and Officers that ply the waters that your ship’s sail are Greek. I am sure that they would have been the first to come to your aid if they had been nearby.
    I am Greek, proud of it and have been offened by your Blog.

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  118. Harvey Greck says:


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