Smoke On the Water – Part 4

November 13, 2010 -

John Heald

I am never cold. I sleep on top of the duvet, have the air conditioning on full all the time and yet as the captain gave the order to flood the engine room with CO2 I shivered. Looking down I saw my arms looked like a freshly plucked chicken. The captain had ordered the evacuation of the engine room and that was going to take some time as there were engineers, fire squads and other personnel down there and every single one of them had to be accounted for before the CO2 could be released.

 I stood by my new best friend, the PA system, and debated in my mind whether to tell the guests this or not. It wasn’t that I didn’t want them to know but I was concerned that maybe this would worry them even more than some or all probably already were. And the problem was that I had nobody to talk to about to about this. You see, after the order from the captain to send the guests to the open decks, everything I had said and done after that was on my own accord. Captain Cupisti was far too busy and I would like to think he trusted me to say the right thing.

 So I stood there by the PA system and as well as feeling cold and as well as making sure I took in huge lungfuls of air to keep myself calm and as I agonised whether to tell the guests we were about to use the CO2 system, I was surprised to find myself feeling …………well…………lonely. I am not sure if that makes any sense and while trying to decide what to say next I have a clear memory of thinking to myself also what a strange job I had.

 Is there any other job in the world where one minute you are trying to make people laugh with what a lady from the LA Times referred to as “lurid” sense of humour and the next minute have the responsibility of keeping everyone calm, informed and passing on instructions that could ultimately help save their lives.  Just a few hours before I was on stage in front of 1,500 guests with a Cougar………..the lady…………not the animal.

 The welcome aboard show often sets the scene for the cruise as far as who I am and to let the guests know that it’s OK to laugh at themselves and each other. I randomly pick 6 guests to come on stage and although the finale of the show is the good old spoon game, it is the interviews that precede it that I enjoy the most. On Sunday night I had 6 great characters on stage including a lady in her late forties/early fifties who we shall call Leah because that is her name. This is how the interview started.








LEAH: ABSOLUTLEY NOT – WE ARE COUGARS AND WE ARE ON THE PROWL (Note: After she said the word “prowl” she gave a mediocre roar and did that claw thing with her hand)



Now, this is all well and good but what got me is after she said this not only did the audience laugh, many of them applauded and I just don’t get that……. I don’t understand why we 1,500 guests were applauding and cheering to celebrate the fact that a late forties early fifties woman had publicly stated that she and her mates were looking for young men. Had the genders been reversed, would they had applauded and cheered? 

Would they have cheered and laughed out loud if I had been the one on stage and admitted that I was looking forward to having rumpy pumpy with 25-year-old girls? Of course they wouldn’t. There would have been cries of pervert and letters to the captain demanding I’d be thrown off the ship and returned to a place where this kind of behavior is acceptable………… like France.

All of these thoughts and memories lashed through my mind in seconds mixed with the decision if to tell the guests or not. A few moments later my thumb resumed its now all too familiar position on the microphone.



That last crew announcement, like all the announcements I made, was put through the emergency system. This meant that unlike during a normal operation where I would talk to the crew in their areas only, all the announcements were being heard by the guests. And actually I wanted the guests to know what I was saying to them……..I wanted all the guests and the crew to be united during these uncertain times…………..I truly felt that this was very important indeed.

Some 15 minutes after Captain Cupisti gave the order to evacuate the engine room, the staff captain reported that all the crew had been accounted for but the captain wanted it checked again. This had to be done right because if someone had still been in that area with the CO2 going off then that someone would most probably die.

A second check confirmed that all the crew was present and after closing the water tight and fire screen doors Captain Cupisti gave the order to flood the fire with CO2.

And now we had to wait. Breakfast was very busy on Lido Deck as all the guests were of course already up and around. At that time the chefs had already prepared some breakfast food so apart from being busy at least some managed to get some usual breakfast fare. I don’t think any of us realised that it was the last proper meal they would have for the next three days.

I kept talking to the guests, I can’t remember what I said during the time we waited to see if the CO2 operation had been a success or not. I am sure it was mostly waffle but as I promised them, I kept them informed with an announcement every 10 minutes even if I had nothing new to tell them.

During this wait and see period the captain wanted to call the command center in Miami. These days we have so many ways of doing this. Internet, satellite phones, cellular at sea all of which need power…….we had bugger all. This meant for the next few days the only way for us to communicate with the outside world was through one phone on the ship. It’s called the EMMASAT and it has its own power system and there is apparently nowhere in the world where you can’t get a signal and make a call………except Arkansas, of course. 

So the captain was on the phone with the command center which because Miami time is three hours ahead was already full of Carnival beards. I want to say thanks to them now because I am sure to forget later. This team was there 24 hours a day and is still there now in fact. Many slept in their offices, including Gerry Cahill, our president and CEO. They kept an open line to the ship and that meant so much to the captain and all of us. Thanks to everyone there……. although telling us you had Tony Roma’s delivered for dinner on Thursday night was just cruel.

Finally, after about an hour and a half after giving the order to disperse the CO2 fire squad Alpha re entered the engine room followed by fire squad Charlie. We waited — the bridge was once again mostly silent. The only noise coming from the fire detection system which kept sounding a constant alarm telling us there was a fire. Then over the walkie talkie I heard the staff chief engineer’s voice.






While I won’t say we all started singing “Oh, what a beautiful morning” on hearing this news, we all breathed a bit easier I think because the words “no fire, only smoke” brought huge dollops of relief to us all. You see until then we had no idea what was at the heart of all of this. Was the engine room a raging inferno or was it just a flameless fire? The only flames the squads had seen had been coming from the cabling but because the smoke was so thick we really had no idea what we would find.

So the captain had given the order to open ventilation doors which would help the smoke rise and pass all the way up and out of the ship and now I needed to tell the guests what was happening.





And some 45 minutes after that announcement and after inspections of the guest corridors had shown that while the smell of smoke was still obvious in some areas, most of the smoke had gone, the captain gave the order for crew to leave their general emergency stations and that the guests could return if they wished to their cabins and that was me back on the PA system again.



When I was 17 I truly believed that Sally Poole would want to have rumpy pumpy with me. She didn’t. She didn’t want to have rumpy pumpy with me so much that she told me I made her vomit. I was naive, I truly felt that she would want to see me naked and in the same way I truly believed that now the threat of fire had gone that we would start the engines and apart from maybe being a wee bit late into Puerto Vallarta that all would be well.

I didn’t realise that in many ways the worst was yet to come and that 45 minutes after telling the guests I wouldn’t disturb them over the PA system again…….I would make an announcement that would mark the start of 3 days that none of us would ever forget.

Join me again on Monday for part 5……Sunday needs to be a day of rest, and laundry, so instead I will be sharing a letter from one of the guests that was onboard the Carnival Splendor. I stayed in a hotel last night and the joy of a hot shower was beyond description and me and my dangly bits are clean once more.

By the way, just before I go, I wonder how the Cougars handled this whole thing. I wonder if they were still dressed as I saw them at the Captain’s Celebration earlier on Monday night. I am sure that when I made the announcement for all guests to go to the open decks that many grabbed what they had been wearing the night before and meant the Cougars were standing on the open decks at 7 am in the morning in miniskirts and you-know-what me shoes.

See you on Monday everyone and thank you all for the wonderful comments. 

Your friend


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.

182 Responses to Smoke On the Water – Part 4

  1. Karly says:

    I’m so relieved and thankful everyone is alright, and feel terrible for everyone on board.
    My whole family took this cruise on the Splendor the summer of 2009 and had a wonderful time. It was the first cruise for my mother, my in-laws, and my step-daughter’s best friend. Splendor is a beautiful ship, the itinerary was excellent, and the crew was the best we’ve had out of our 3 Carnival cruises.
    I hope she’ll be back up and running soon, and my heart goes out to those whose vacation turned frightening.

    • john says:

      what a great story, can’t wait for monday part 5-thank goodness everyone is ok

      • Sarah says:

        Hey John,
        First time blogger
        Big Carnival fan, three cruise a year when we can
        You are absolutely hilarious & this coming from a Scot living in the US is a huge compliment as you know
        Tell that Jenn to get over herself & go unstarch her underwear
        Laughing is the best thing for your soul & you sure make us laugh
        A friend called to say she was happy I wasn’t on the Splendor & I said I wish I was. I know what care you all take care of your guests & woweee all that free booze
        I was so upset with the Media’s reporting
        It’s all gotta be the bad not the good
        Some day we will cruise with you
        Congrats to Carnival and all their caring, couteous & efficient staff

  2. Lindsey S. says:

    can’t wait for the long awaited part 5!!!

  3. Linda Hernacki says:

    The Carnival crew, Captain and yourself need to be commended for a job well done! Cheerio my friend and enjoy your time home with your family in the U.K. You have earned it! You deserve it! I do hope your diabetes stayed under control with the limited variety of food available this past week. Stress is not good for diabetes either, so I am glad you are getting some R&R. Give KYE a Big Kiss & Hug from her Auntie Linda & Uncle Mikey from Florida, Linda & Mike

  4. Thank you John for all the Insights.
    Rest Well, Say hello to your Girls
    Take a really WELL DESERVED NAP
    Arnold & Elizabeth

  5. Janice says:

    John, I hope someday I am on one of your cruises just so I can meet you and shake your hand. I hope you know how much you are appreciated by all. Have a wonderful day of rest that is well deserved.

    • Sandra says:

      John was my first………………….Cruise Director that is..LOL and that was in 2005 on the Glory,he is the reason I chose to cruise again and again and again with Carnival,he is top notch and a class act,I luv the guy Carnival corp should be VERY proud to call him the Ambassador for their fleet of FUN beautiful ships,rest John,I tell you should write a book!!
      NB,Canada..Brrrrrr is Cold

  6. Ronda Hensley says:

    Thank you, John, for taking time to fill us in on all the details. I can only imagine how busy you are right now trying to help sort everything out! Take care of yourself and we will be here waiting with baited breath for the next installment of “As the Ship Floats…” Peace, my friend.

  7. Stephanie aka Hockey Addict says:


    Please make sure that each and every crew member know that they are much appreciated! I think it would be an honor to sail with each and every one of them!

    We are glad everyone is safe…. catch up on that rest! Please be sure to let us know how Heidi is doing through all of this as well! We’re thinking of her too as I know she was worried sick!

  8. Maggie says:

    I am so sorry for what all of you had to go through. Having said that, your story saga is so interesting & reassuring! I have a son who works on a Carnival ship and if he is ever to experience a emergency situation such as happened on the Splendor, as a Mom, I will rest much easier having read the ‘behind the scenes’ action of how things are handled. Kudos to the crew, who not only had to experience the same issues the passengers were, but had to continue to work during it all!

  9. Kara says:

    Wow.. It’s crazy to hear the details of what went on. I can’t even imagine what you went through on the trip. I’m sure that you keeping the passengers informed and entertained meant so much to them. The incident could have been a lot more disastrous had you not been on board.. I know there certainly would have been a lot more panic from the passengers. I can’t wait for Part 5. ‘Til then, enjoy your day and get some rest!!

    P.S. If you’re reading this John, I just wanted to say thank you very much. I was on the cruise prior to this and my husband Travis and I celebrated our 6th Anniversary on Nov. 6.. You talked to him in his underwear, remember? haha Anyways, the kind words you said on the morning show and the gift meant so much. You made our 6th Anniversary very special. I tried to thank you in person, but the crew wouldn’t give me any information on how to do so. Therefore I figured I’d try this way. Thank you so much again.

    • Kathy M. says:

      Hi John,

      John, I honestly feel that you were scheduled for this cruise for a reason and I feel that God knew that you were the best and other’s will learn from your example Maybe Mr. Cahill should have you write up some kind of Emergency Handbook for CD’s on how to handle passenger’s in this kind of situation..

      To Kara, If you are ever on a cruise with John, the best way to get in touch with his is to leave a note for him at Guest Services (in fact this applies to all of the CD’s) and then they will get the note to him.

      Kathy M.

      P.S. I think that John should be put up for nomination for The Medal Of Honor. He kept everyone to stay calm and he prevented any kind of uprising . How do others feel about this.

      • Tim Kriebel, MCPO USN Retired says:

        I think you are ridiculous for even suggesting that particular honor. Do your homework and see what folks have done to receive that particular honor.

      • Kara says:

        If you are ever on a cruise with John, then you’ll know that on Morning Show, he reads notes that passengers send to him. (hence, I had already gotten him a note). Like I said in my message, I wanted to thank him -in person-. My thanks couldn’t have been possibly conveyed correctly through a note.

  10. Miriam says:

    What an exciting account of the adventures aboard the Carnival Spirit. I’m looking forward to Monday’s episode. My husband and I are scheduled for a 9 day cruise on the Spirit in January. I’m sure it will be the safest ship out there by then. I really hope you will be on board. I would like to congratulate you personally on how well you and all the rest of the crew handled a tough situation.

    Highest regards,


    • MrDerek says:

      John is on the Carnival Splendor. This happened on the West Coast. Don’t worry the Carnival Spirit is as good as it always is.

      • Miriam says:

        Ah, my mistake, thanks for setting me straight. The Carnival Spirit is scheduled for the same ports in January. I’m sure that’s why I got my wires crossed. Our last cruise in May on the Carnival Valor was fabulous, so I’m looking forward to the West Coast trip.

  11. Maureen Powers says:

    This is the best story I have read in a long time and I read a lot Truely John you have writing talent and I wouldn’t be surprised if a publisher doesn’t make yu an offer.

  12. Donna Costa says:

    John, My husband and I would like to say thank you. Because of you, I think all of us on board the Splendor felt unafraid and well informed. Thank you so much for your calming and hilarious words of encouragement throughout our horrific ordeal. I think you really made the difference between having tired, bored passengers and having stampeding, panicing passengers…Again, thanks so much…
    Donna & Paul Costa

  13. Vicki says:

    Thank you for sharing, John. Sounds like you did a wonderful job. You are a great role model for the other cruise directors and are a valuable asset to Carnival.

    I’m glad you shared the part about announcing the fire. Some news reports had one passenger saying that they were never told there was a fire and didn’t know until they got to port. I found that story quite unusual. Ive been in a situation once on a Carnival ship, and it was handled perfectly, as was this. I can’t see them NOT telling everyone. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out if the ship’s not moving when it should be, something BAD is wrong.

    You enjoy your day of rest. It is well deserved. God bless!

  14. Sadie says:

    I have not read such a smoldering book in a long time. You missed your calling. Your retirement should be as a publisher….

  15. John,
    My husband and I were passengers on the Splender with you. I never had the pleasure to meet you and I really wanted to. I need you to know that YOU AND ONLY YOU got us through this really bad situation!!! If it were not for your humor and calm voice we would of lost our minds. We appreciate you and thank God for you!!!!

    I will keep watching for your new blogs, We love you and thank God for you!!

    Beth & David Chevalier (Room 1-255)

  16. Host Mach from Cruise Critic says:

    It’s a heck of a story, John…

    I, for one, am very glad that you were on board. You and, of course, the entire crew deserve a bit of downtime. Enjoy it.

    Please tell Heidi that Stitch and I send our love.

    Ciao, my friend.

    Host Mach

    • Janey (OKGIRL) says:

      I have to second Mach’s statement. There is no other voice that I would have rather heard than yours if I had been in that emergency situation.

      In fact I saw a video on the tube thingy that brought a smile to my face because you could clearly be heard on the PA making another reassuring announcement.

      Well done John and to all of the crew as well.

    • grizel robertson says:

      Hi Host Mach
      Having embarked on 19 Carnival cruises from my home in Scotland since 1992, I have experienced several minor interruptions to my schedules, including earthquake, flight, hurricane & volcanic scenarios.
      Despite these gremlins in the works, I am a loyal Carnival cruiser who wholly endorses your comments & those of us who appreciate that mother nature & electronic breakdowns are part & parcel of our modern society.
      I hope that you will be on BC4 & have the opportunity to meet you face to face.
      Regards, Grizel

  17. Charlotte C says:

    John, you and Captain Cupisti are our heroes! Your skill in developing confidence was outstanding. I posted by 5 page review on Cruise Critic this morning at to try to square away the carping and guessing that people were posting because of the negative media coverage.
    As we said at the end, our hats are off to Captain Claudio Cupisti, Cruise Director John Heald, and the captain of the little tug that thought it could, the Chihuahua. Oh, yes, we do plan to take them up on the free cruise. About the only thing to add is my favorite saying, “Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. it’s the way it is. the way you cope with it makes the difference.” Mike and Charlotte Craven

    • mary & gary says:

      What a wonderful review, thank you

    • Ross says:

      Mike & Charlotte — thanks for your well-written report. Thanks for also recognizing & reminding us of the important role the little hard-working tugs had. Cheers to the crew of the Chihuahua!
      Regards, Ross

    • Deanna says:

      Thanks Mike & Charlotte Craven, for the reminder of the tugboat-s that helped get that wonderful island of a ship to shore safe and sound! I am a 2x past Carnival cruiser and also thoroughly enjoy John Heald’s blogs…this by far has to be the most riveting blog yet. Glad everyone was safe, and that you had a great crew and staff to get you through. Life sometimes throws you lemons…nice to see some of you made lemonade! 🙂

    • Sandra says:

      Bravo,well said!!

    • Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

      What an awesome review. Realistic and honest….

      without the inconvenience, there would have been no adventure….John was blessed to have so many travelers like you.

      Y’all ROCK !!!

      Linda (Mom of DJ)

    • IRL_Joanie says:

      John, Charlotte and Mike,

      I have pasted the links to your Blog and your Review on the Cruise Critic Holland America Line Section as “A Must Read For Everyone, IMO” Thread and just one paragraph Charlotte on the Disabled Cruise Boards section.

      I wish I knew who to contact, Media wise to get both the Blog and the Review to them so they could relay the truth of the matter instead of the worst case scenarios they were portrayting before .

      You all are the epitomy of what I will strive to remember when/if anything happens to us in any situation.

      God Bless all of you, the crew and passengers of Carnival Splendor!!


    • Lisa says:

      What a FABULOUS review Mike and Charlotte….

    • Karen says:

      Mike and Charlotte,

      Had to comment on a terrific concise and accurate account of what we went through on the Splendor. You really nailed it, we also felt the crew was spectacular and CD John was very informative and added enough humour to lighten the mood but not too much as to detract from the gravity of the situation. I believe we had an encouter with you as well, I’m sure it was you who asked my dad to e:mail you some photos of the Ronald Reagan.

      Kudos to you for setting the record straight and helping to get Carnival and the crew the positive recognition they deserve.

      Karen & Dave Wilson

    • Nadin says:

      Thanks for recognizing the role played in this by the Mexican Navy Ensenada Station. In many ways they are the forgotten ones here. The Chihuahua was not the only response, just the most obvious. Kudos to all involved, it was team work and cooperation at it’s best.

    • Sage56 says:

      Excellent! Thanks for sharing.

    • Teanne Gates says:

      We were on deck 8, portside/balcony!! and had 2 cameras snappin’ shots of anything that moved 🙂 I will upload them to photobucket and make a guest album so you can have copies of this very memorable cruise to nowhere 🙂

      Your CC review is dead on, exactly what we experienced too. We even disembarked at noon, luggage tags #29.

      Great review!

      …I’ll send the link to the photobucket album 🙂

  18. Waiting4acruise says:

    Take a well deserved rest.
    I commend the Captain and the crew for a job well done.

  19. A moment of celebration right before reality sets in. I’m so happy that everyone made it to San Diego safely,

    Have a terrific day of rest. 🙂

  20. Melissa Darrow says:

    Though I have yet to be on a cruise, we have one booked on the Magic at the end of November 2011. You have reassured me that all of my “fears” are unfounded. I hope that our CD with be as entertaining and caring as you seem to be. Kudos to you, the captain and the entire crew for all you did to ensure the safety and well being of all on board. I am looking forward to our cruise with Carnival! Blessings to all.

  21. Tobie>>>>on an Island in the Pacific says:

    Great job, John We hope to sail with you on one of Carnival’s great ships.
    Carnival Tropical was our first cruise, back in 1984 (boy, was that a HUGE ship, then. 🙂

  22. Marcus says:


    When I first heard about the fire, I realized that it was your ship and was horrified for the guests, and for you having to handle the chaos. But I quickly realized that if it had to happen to any ship, there was no better cruise director in the business to be aboard and take care of the guests.

    Now everyone in the cruise industry can have a much deeper appreciation for the constant drills for emergency situations. And, no matter how many drills are conducted, there are always details that can’t be fully appreciated until emergencies actually happen, especially with a full ship. Now, you and the crew have had an amazing learning experience, and I hope that each and every crew member will be interviewed to find out what worked best and what needed improvement, and especially what things had never been thought of at all. While the experience was awful for everyone, the wealth of knowledge that it has produced can have great impact on the industry and how it is prepared for the next time. And, personally, you no longer have to wonder how you will react and respond in the face of disaster.

    I do have one question. If the ship had been disabled in the Caribbean, with so many other Carnival and other cruise ships around, would these other ships have been diverted to the stricken ship and the passengers transferred? Is there a way to do such a thing in the middle of the ocean?

    As always, I am amazed at your extraordinary ability to handle your job, which constantly throws new & difficult scenarios at you, and with Carnival’s level of customer care.

    • The Dons says:

      “I do have one question. If the ship had been disabled in the Caribbean, with so many other Carnival and other cruise ships around, would these other ships have been diverted to the stricken ship and the passengers transferred? Is there a way to do such a thing in the middle of the ocean?”

      What a great question! John, I do hope you can answer this.

    • Nadin says:

      Under maritime law any ship in range is obligated to respond, whether that is a carrier, a sea going tug, a cruise ship or a fishing trawler. The Caribean is a well transited area.

      I hope that answers your question.

  23. Girldoc says:

    John. Truly incredible…I am speechless (my husband now loves you beyond words)


  24. Todd Myers says:

    John , we are very happy that you are ok sounds like you done a Excelant job as usual with the Crew and passengers. you are the best Cruise Director we have been with so far, you have made each VIP status cruise for me and my wife very memorable, we will be with you on the Splendor the 5th of Dec. please assure me we not going to STINKING CREEK AGAIN. Sincerly your friend a Illinois Corn Farmer… TRIGGER !! Todd & Vicky Myers

    • Carrie says:

      Were you on the “Stinking Creek” Dream Cruise in March? Can’t wait to cruise with John again, just hope Dick and Anita Little stay home this time! 🙂

  25. Sis says:

    Class act.

    That’s all I can say.

    • Barb says:

      I’ll second that!!! It is just like being there with you John(I was in Sept!) Great writing………looking forward to the next installment.

      • Jennie says:

        I can’t believe Carnival employs a guy who talks/writes this kind of trash.

        “I stayed in a hotel last night and the joy of a hot shower was beyond description and me and my dangly bits are clean once more.”

        Don’t think I’d want him in charge of any emergency situation I was in. This trash might, might, just barely be okay on stage, but not written as a representative of a huge cruise line. Okay, okay, before you say it, I am a prude. But this kind of trash talk would not be tolerated in most businesses.

      • Woody says:


        Tell Jennie below to cram it. Thanks.

      • LadyJag (Laura) says:

        In your haste to quote the “trash” talk at the bottom of the blog, I believe you skipped over the Disclaimer at the top of the page:
        “This is a personal weblog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own (and those of some of the commentators that I have included) and not those of Carnival Corporation & plc or Heidi.”
        Sorry you are offended. Perhaps you shoud stick to the press releases on the official Carnival web site and avoid personal weblogs (“blogs”) from here on out.
        God Bless,

      • Sarah says:

        Jennie, I direct your attention to the following. “Disclaimer
        This is a personal weblog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own (and those of some of the commentators that I have included) and not those of Carnival Corporation & plc or Heidi. This blog has no official affiliation with Sugar free jelly beans”

        In other words, he isn’t writing to represent Carnival. He’s writing to represent himself. If he wants to talk about being clean, he has that right. If you don’t like that, feel free to not read the blog.

      • Kim says:

        Then don’t read it, Jennie. It’s called freedom of speech. You have the freedom to not click on this blog. So take advantage of your freedom.

      • MrPete says:


        A guy calms 3299 pax, plus crew, and that’s your take away?

        I take it you don’t read the classics either.

    • John,

      I cruise all the time. On Princess. I would sail with Carnival just to meet you and sail with you!

      You are an inspiration.

      (An super funny too!)

      Tell us more about how the crew are doing…

      Great job doing a great job!!! Now keep the blogs coming

    • Ruby Stine says:

      John I can only imagine what those three days must have been like spending the time with you. We have cruised with you twice the last being March 6, 2010, on the Dream. My sister and her husband was Mr & Mrs Dick Little, what a great time we had, but it brings me a heavy heart as when we returned from our cruise our family found out that Dick had cancer of the stomach and he passed away in August. I just want to thank you for the wonderful memories you left us with. John you are by far the bestCruise DirectorCarnival has, you are funny and passionate at the same time, again thank you for the wonderful memories.

    • Sailin' Away says:

      What a wonderful Cruise Director! He handled the intense situation wonderfully and his comic relief is perfect. I can’t wait to sail on one of his cruises and say “hello”. And kudos to the “beards” at Carnival for encouraging John to share his perspective with us. Though this was a dangerous situation, John’s post shows us all just how committed to safety that Carnival, and it’s sister cruise lines, are.

    • Chris says:

      So now that the crisis is over and the passengers returned, what happens to the staff? Are they placed on other Carnival ships or are they “stranded” in California until the Splendor is up and running. With staff being international I am curious to know what happens to them now.

  26. Calicruising says:

    Relax and enjoy your time in a nice, air-conditioned hotel. You earned it!
    The Captain, the crew and YOU deserve a nice break.
    Excellent job:)

  27. Marisa says:

    I am so thankful that everyone is okay. Thanks for your quick thinking(as well as others). I have never been on the Slendor but I have traveled on other ships. The carnival crew has always been a wonderful group of people. I know I will be safe when I board the ship leaving Charleston, SC next year Nov.
    I am loving your story….it’s like reading a book that can’t be put down. I’m going to finish cleaning up.

  28. Loretta Wampler says:

    I hereby nominate John Heald and Captain Cupisti for Co Marshalls of the 2011 Tournament of Roses Parade!

  29. Cindy Salmon says:

    John – please reply
    Can you post a picture of the Captain of the Splendor? Sounds like he did an AWESOME job!

  30. Trish Woods says:

    I just returned from a 6 day cruise aboard the Glory on Halloween. We had a wonderful time. I am glad no one was hurt and the crew and captain and yourself need a round of applause for keeping all the guests safe in such trying conditions. My husband and I love cruising with Carnival and this professionalism proves my loyality is in the right place. We will sail again with Carnival real soon.

  31. Shannon B says:

    I had some long drawn out comment, but all I want to say is that you and your crew are amazing. I have cruised many times with Carnival and surly will be again in the future.
    P.S. I am glued to the blog.

  32. Linda Evans says:

    You, the Captain along with the crew can be compared to Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who was hailed a hero after piloting the US Airways flight that landed safely in the Hudson River. You are the Hero of the Sea. You areThe hero’s of the Splendor.

  33. Gary Woollam says:

    Facinating reading…
    John, a book would work , but I hope this blog is nominated for an award, its fantastic account, and more to come !!

    A massive well done to the captain and crew is the least I can offer !!!!!

  34. Taylor says:

    Hey John great job blog I can’t wait next one take care on the Splendor!!:)

  35. rickey willet says:

    John we would like to thank you and the crew for the wonderful way we were treated sorry we never got the chance to meet you in person.

  36. Vila Restal says:

    Well John, if you have problems with Cougars then all you need is a Jack Russell. (See Link :-))

  37. MIchael Smith says:

    Dear John,
    My wife, Jenny & I were on the inaugural cruise of the Splendor w/ you July 2008. You sent us a card wishing us a happy 15th wedding anniversary & a “ship on a stick”. I was also the one who mentioned that when you go to Buenos Aires, you should have some tango dancers come aboard.
    We are both very glad you and the crew made it home safe & proud of your performance as well. Keep up the good work & keep everyone laughing as only you can do.

  38. Hank H. says:

    only thing to say, Brilliant! Thank you John. Cannot wait to meet you on the Magic T/A next October.

  39. Sandy Hanson says:

    Everyone of the crew, the captain and you are to be commended for the outstanding job you did in protecting the people. You made some hard choices, but they were the right choices. Also, thank you for sharing this very personal account of what happened. Please tell your CEO that he is tops in my book for his caring attitude about this whole situation. He looked first to the people and not the bottom line. This is very refreshing and will come back 100 fold in business. God bless each of you.

  40. Julie Seever says:

    I am thrilled to know you are all safe and sound. I knew we would hear the truth from you John instead of the drivel from the reporters. God Bless your crew, your Captain, and especially you John. I love Carnival Cruise Lines and can’t wait to sail with ‘you’ again. Peace and a well deserved R & R. Julie Seever

  41. Sid Servin says:

    Excellent, excellent, John. You epitomize what we passengers expect from Carnival Cruise Lines. My partner and I had the privilege of having you as our CD on our first cruise , this past April on the Carnival Conquest. We are very happy to say that we are again sailing on the Conquest on Jan 23,2011.
    With you onboard, I am absolutely convinced they were in good hands to be kept informed throughout the ordeal. No doubt that CCL is aware of what an exceptional asset they have in their organization. Hats off to you, Captain Cupisti, the officers and crew members for an exceptional performance under stressful circumstances.
    I know that again, we will be in good hands on our upcoming cruise . Sid and Carlos

  42. Brenda Gerkin says:


    I have cruised on many Carnival Ships and I agree with many that you are by far the best cruise director. When I heard the problem with the Splendor and saw that you were in fact on that ship, I knew you would do your best to keep everyone informed and help them all stay calm. I hope to be on another cruise soon and hopefully you will be the cruise director.

  43. bonnie avery says:

    John thank you ,thank you .You were magnificent. You did a great job keeping everybody in good spirits. I was on the cruise with my sisters Virginia and Ruby. We cruise every year since our retirements. This was one of the best informative cruises I have ever been on. All that was going on you kept everybody informed..I hate to hear all the negativity that people are coming up with. People were blessed that we didnt have a disaster like Hatti or China and any or real disastrous catastrophe. Keep up the good work. I wish you could be our cruse director on our next cruse, which will be soon.

  44. Sallie says:


    I just finished reading parts 1, 2, 3 & 4 and I must say that I am so happy that everyone is alright. You and the entire crew of the Carnival Splendor did a magnificent job but then again, I never doubted this. The crew of each and every ship we have sailed on have always been extraordinary. We have also had the pleasure to sail with and meet Captain Claudio Cupisti and in my humble opinion, there couldn’t have been a better Captain in charge.

    I have heard that you will be heading back to England to be with your girls and rest. Brilliant! You definitely deserve it.

    All our love to you, Heidi and Kye. See you next year on the Carnival Magic.

    Sallie & Michael Holland
    Loyal members of Big Ed’s Krewe

  45. Mauirce Katoen says:


    I have been glued to your blog! I have been on many Carnival cruises and I have found the the crew has always been very professional and very good at what they do. From your accounts nothing has changed. May I congratulate you on a job well done! I see they were in good hands. Enjoy your rest! You desreve it!

  46. Ellen T Horan says:

    Thank God, you were the CD on this fateful cruise. I am sure you are the one who kept everyone’s spirits high, and kept them from going absolutely crazy.
    God has given you a special talent. You should think about writing a book on the whole event, you could make it a comedy very easily let at the same time give all the nerve racking facts.
    Enjoy the rest, perhaps you’ll get home to see Heidi and kyle.

  47. LambKnuckles says:


    Your truth is refreshing!!! Thank you CARNIVAL for letting you say it it YOUR WAY!!! Gerry and staff are SMART SMART folks to let us see the whole story and let us hear what happened!!!

    Bless you for being there!!! Bless you for handling this!!! And God Bless Heidi and Kai for sharing you with us — both on board and on blog!!!!

    Love you too too too much!!!

  48. Marty Paul says:

    Wow….I didn’t know that the CO2 had to be released. What a decision that Capt Cupisti had to make! However, with all that smoke and no telling how much of the space was actually on fire (in addition to the electrical cable), it definitely was the right call. The alternative could’ve made a very bad situation even worse, with an out of control fire that was spreading! Better to ensure the fire was out by dumping the CO2.

    Glad everyone is safe & sound and back ashore. Again, I commend Carnival and the Captain & crew (especially the CD!) of the will-be-again Carnival Splendor….

    Marty Paul

  49. Sharon says:

    While I am sure there are many, may wonderful cruise directors in the Carnival system, I am so glad you were on board this one at this time. It’s not that I don’t have faith that the others would have done a good job (I know Wee Jimmy would have) but from reading the account of this I know we wouldn’t have had this insight and I have to say I am truly enjoying this story. Can’t wait for the next installment. I hope you have a restful Sunday!

  50. Dr Roger Callaghan says:

    Just been cruising as a passenger on Dream. I got on board as the story broke – as usual Team Carnival were obviously superb, a pity the american news media missed the whole point – probably the most feared scenario at sea and nobody hurt ! – fabulous job.
    Kind Regards.


  51. well done john, as always…

    smiles, bee

  52. Misty Franklin says:

    Glad your dangly bits are clean now.

  53. Keith says:

    John, good to see your getting a day off. What about the rest of the crew? what are they doing now? We are friends of the Maitre d Miguel Rodrigues is he near by? All the best from “The Boys”

  54. Deborah Rosato says:


    I just got back from Saturday evening Mass and our Priest used the Carnival Splendor as an analogy as to what our expectations are and what God has planned for us. As he was recounting the Splendor’s plight and the anticipation of the guests arriving on the ship and their outcome, he reminded us that God is always in charge and is always with us. God was definitely with you, the Captain, the crew and the guests to get through such an ordeal without injury to anyone.

    Have a well deserved rest on Sunday, I’m sure I can safely say that all of us look forward to Part 5.


  55. Shannan Raucci says:


    I echo others in saying that the Captain, you and the rest of the crew did a superb job, from what we are reading here, and also that your voice would be the one I’d want to hear in a time like that. Thank you for your account of the events. I hope you can get some rest tomorrow. I look forward to your next blog post.



  56. Grits53 says:

    This story is like a novel that you can’t put down! John, although I know you deserve and need a break tomorrow, I can’t wait to read the next chapter in this story. But truthfully, do you want to know the thought that keeps popping into my mind as I read this? I keep thinking, “I can’t WAIT to cruise with John on the Magic next November!” LOL! I can’t think of any CD I’d rather sail with, after the way you’ve handled this situation. Way to go, John!!

  57. Jody says:

    Great blogging John, glad to read a report coming from a person really in there, as over here in Aussie land, I have taken the reports with a grain of salt, as the media misreports all the time, and also over-exaggerates alot of things…
    Glad to know too, that it was you that was CD onboard at the time, everyone was in great hands…
    Having worked for 5 years on Carnival ships (yes you’ve met me but probably don’t remember, left years ago), first thing that went through my mind was the emergency procedures everyone would have had to go through, glad to see that all that training and drills worked perfectly in a real situation. Well done to all the crew on board!
    I look forward to the next part…

  58. rachel says:

    Im so impressed with you and every person at Carnival that Im bookinga cruise for over xmas. I didnt have any intention to go on cruise this year but i love carnival so much iwant to give my support im a carnival cheerleader.
    ps john love your blogs and the cougar story

  59. Marge says:

    Our daughter is a Merchant Marine and often talks about the training and drills they do aboard the ships she works on. She docked this Thurs. and as we were driving her home told her about the fire. She walked us step by step through what would be happening. As we sat today reading your blog she kept saying “see I told you”. This is all very reassuring to a mom who worries about things like fire at sea given her daughter is part of the fire party.

    We have always felt confident of the crews ability to handle almost any situation at sea and can’t wait to sail with you on the Magic next Oct./Nov.

    Our prayers remain with you and the crew.

  60. Marko says:

    Hello John!

    Thanks for the insight.
    I will be waiting on part five of this story

  61. Bonnie Ham says:

    My cruise Monday on the Elation with be my Milestone cruise with Carnival. The crew and staff are one of the main reason it will be my 25th. Some people say Carnival is the “Walmart” of cruises. Just like any business , a cruiseline is only as good as it’s employees. Carnival just proved what a great company it is-and that is because of the way the Captain, his Cruise Director and the rest of the staff and crew handled the situation on the Splendor. I’ll take that over Neiman Marcus anyday. Hat’s off (and hand over heart) to our US Military for the great job they did also.

  62. Pat W says:

    I am SO Glad to hear that everyone is ok. It sounds like the crew of the Splendor did everything in its power to make the best of it all, keeping everyone safe and as happy as possible given the situation. This also makes me feel even better about being at sea with Carnival in charge. My husband and I have sailed on the Fantasy and the Glory and are planning to cruise again sometime next year probably on the Dream. Before i really never thought about the CD, they were just the guy on the PA and the Stage. Now I will pay more attention to these hard working people and I would love to be on a cruise with you, John

  63. Ron Geisler says:

    We travel Carnival at least 10 times now and have thought about trying other cruise lines. NOT ANYMORE. Carnival handled this extremely well and they will have our business forever. Nice Job Carnival

  64. Tnsabellacruiser93 says:

    Hello John I was read your blog about the Carnival Splendo was great arrive homeport safety today! I hope you take care post on the Splendor.. I remember happen many week on the Splendor got fire and Towed.

    I’m am happy the Splendor repair fixed up..

    I can’t wait next part 5!! 🙂

  65. Tracy Gorman says:

    I am hanging on to every word of these posts. After having been on the Splendor just 2 months ago, the ship is very special to our family. Obviously I am glad everyone is OK, and we also hope the ship is OK so many more people can enjoy her in the days and years ahead. Great job John and the Splendor crew! WOW!!! You all are amazing!

  66. Sabrina says:

    John, we got off the Spendor Sunday morning before this mishap, we had a most wonderful time and we are enjoying your Blog. You place us right next to you as you describe every minute in explicable detail. Looking forward to another fun journey with you in 2011.

  67. MissKitty says:

    Hello John,
    I bet that hot, hot shower felt wonderful. I’d also bet that you are glad that your crew is so wonderfully trained to handle these past trying days.

    We have heard previous guests bitch and moan about almost everything on board.

    However, I might add all of the things this ship has provided way beyond the call of duty, and that was the outstanding entertainment. How many other cruises have offered so much helicopter free shows in the past 3 weeks? Cruisers were able to see what the Coast Guard does and how valuable their services are and how professional they are.

    Thank God, everyone is safe.
    John, it is good to have you back – we all missed you, and prayed for your safety and that of the crew and cruisers.


  68. Athena M says:

    John, thanks so much for taking the time to detail the accounts of all that happened from your point of view. A group of 13 of us were on Splendor just two weeks before this happened, and I can say with every confidence that I’m sure the crew did an outstanding job. They were nothing but professional, friendly and attentive on our cruise while things were going well. I’m sure those instincts went into overdrive during a time of crisis. I was so mad while the media kept trying to make it sound horrible. Although I’m sure it was uncomfortable and stressful, I know everyone was well taken care of. Of course, you know there may be some opportunists who will try to make money from this through litigation (I truly hope it doesn’t come to this). Regardless of it all, my group of 13 are now planing our next cruise for Oct 2011. This won’t affect any future business we will give to Carnival, in fact, your blog and my memories only make me want to go sooner! Keep up the good work, to you and to the rest of the Carnival Cruise Lines family.

  69. Cheryl Killian says:

    I’m still on the edge of my seat waiting for Part 5. Thank you John. I can’t express how proud your bloggers are of the job you and the crew of the Carnival Splendor did. You now have a wealth of knowledge to share with your other CD’s. I know that Heidi is relieved as we are that all arrived safely. What a great tribute to Captain Cupisti too for the major responsibility was his and his alone…how alone he must have felt too even with all those with him on the bridge. Please tell him we are so very proud of him too and so glad the he is a Captain for Carnival. Awesome job!!

  70. Spartan Kent says:

    Now it’s over

    A job well done keeping the passengers from panic is a hard thing to do.
    The only thing that could come into question and can never be answered about the way the incident was handled is should the CO2 have been used sooner even the Captain will never be able to answer as hindsight is a wonderful thing
    Well done everyone got home

  71. Lisa in Kansas says:

    please read…no reply necessary
    Just wanted to say congratulations on handling a horrible situation so well. Sailed with you on the Carnival Dream last March. I became a fan as I was looking forward to that trip. (I brought you the Kansas gifts)……Never got the chance to chat in person but thank you for all of your thank yous.

    When I heard which ship the fire was on and knowing you were the CD, I knew that the worst of all situations was in the best of hands.

    Get some rest, John! Best wishes to the crew and to your family!

    Lisa in Kansas

  72. Lelan says:

    Brilliant writer! Funny to no end whatsoever.

  73. Jennifer Roy says:

    Praise God that you and all the guests and crew are safe and sound – and that YOU were there to handle this situation. Someone above said you missed your calling – but I think you are exactly in the right place – and it must be very comforting for the Captain to have someone like you to depend on in a situation like this.

    Rest, shower (please, lol), and talk to your girls – I’m waiting for the rest of the story – and there’s nobody I’d rather hear it from

  74. sammmana says:

    This is all so inspiring. John, you and the crew, and Stephanie H, who kept us bloggers posted, and wonderful Captain Cupisti, are truly amazing. You should all be so very proud of yourselves.

    And I really hope now that your blog entries end up in a nice book. It will have everything – comedy, romance, psychotic professors, Cougars, the end of the world, suspense, adventure, engine room fires – i can’t think of a better read.

    We will now enjoy your cruise on Spirit next week all the more knowing what could have happened. My heart goes out to those who lost their vacation, but Carnival has really gone above and beyond to compensate them.


  75. Once again John, congratulation to you all for doing such a tremendous job. I’m very proud to say they that I have met you, know you, care for you and your family and very happy to have been involved with the Carnival family. Well done for all involved.

    Paul F. Pietrangelo

  76. Jeffrey Cooper says:


    I don’t know you, but was on the oasis of the seas a couple months ago. Your blog and descriptive experience of the horrible situation that you and the crew handled is truly exceptional. It is almost like waiting for the next Harry Potter book to come out. I will check in the next day.

    However, kudos to Carnival in not riding your ass in publishing your account of this event.

    You can tell Carnival that they have gained a potential passenger. The support you received by the crew and management is extraordinary. Such a catastrophic event and you it appears everyone acted with integrity and honesty and professionalism. Thank you and carnival for the apparent exceptional training, prevention, fire suppression, and safety systems that kept all the passengers and crew safe during this event.

    I await the next chapter and will certainly look for you and the captain at carnival on for my next cruise adventure.

    This will be my only post.

  77. Janet Espinosa says:

    So glad that everyone is OK. Your blog is wonderful – you are a fantastic storyteller and really give a great insight to what was going on. We were on the Splendor in August and the entire crew was great. Carnival has done a great job of taking care of her passengers and worked hard on PR to keep their good name as well. We drove by the Splendor in San Diego this afternoon – she really dwarfs everything in the bay.
    Thanks again for your accounts of what happened. Looking forward to Monday’s edition! Enjoy the San Diego area!

  78. Vi Smith says:

    John –

    Am I weird or what? I wanted to experience the melodrama!!!!!

    After hanging onto your every word in all your articles I suddenly realized that you had completely captured my imagination – and I could envision being on that ship – to see how a cruise director could command passengers and crew with such calm and orderliness.

    No drill or dummy run could ever prepare you for handling the unknown. Dealing with people, unlike inanimate objects, is like opening a box of chocolates -you never know what you’ll find inside (borrowed that one from Forrest Gump).

    Wish I could have been there to witness a perfect ending to a perfect storm.

    We were on your cruise to the Med. a few years ago – my husband forgot our 39th anniversary – you woke him up and put him on the radio – made him write me a love poem – then sent us a bottle of champagne – I still have the poem (not the champagne).

    Happy cruising………………..

  79. Alex G. says:


    Well said. Can’t wait for part 5. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. At least you don’t have to wear the Dolly Parton dress tonight, LOL! Thank you for sharing! Take care!

    Alex G.

  80. steve + pam holt says:

    John my wife and i have sailed with you three times. The first on the Holiday (93) , the last on the DREAM (09)but the best was on the SPIENDOR(09) in EUROP when Splendor was spankin NEW by far our best cruiz of 15. We were sad to see all the negative news reports : we know better. we know how the crew trains and how professional you all are , as soon as we see the SPLENDOR up and running, we are BOOKING. WE love Carnival as the best. nice job Captain, crew. JOHN your the best

    • Cinderella says:

      We were also on the Splendor as well in Europe great trip just needed more time to see all. And we were blessed with John and his crew. Thank you for the memory’s. Cant wait to cruise again. I am having withdraws. God Bless.

  81. yvonne says:

    John Great to hear the full story well done all of you in the Crew and the majority of the passengers who made the best of it and did not moan all the time Carnival have done splendidly for them all

  82. Londoner says:

    WOW – This is incredible, you cold not make this up!
    How refreshing to hear it from the ‘horses mouth’ A job well done, the captain, crew and yourself should be commended – you are a credit to Carnival.

  83. JR says:

    Thanks John for the great report. I wonder how much paperwork this has caused to be transmitted. Probably a forest.

    We are all so happy this had a happy ending. Get some rest and enjoy all the complements coming your way.After some of the bashing you have been taken on the west coast it nice to hear some good stuff being sent your way. It sounds like the entire crew should be feeling very proud of themselves.

    God Bless,

  84. Sandy Volpe From Wilmington MA says:


    You were the CD on our second cruise on the Triumph. YOU made our trip memorable. When I heard you were on the Splendor I knew everyone was in good hands. I usually don’t read blogs but my husband forwarded it to me. I read it because it was done by YOU. I have read every word and look forward to Part Five and so on. I feel like I was right there with you. You have done an amazing job reliving this whole experience. I know people were put out, their vacations were ruined, but when a movie is made about this, we know it will have a happy ending. No matter how many times I see the Titanic there is always that little glimmer of hope that it will end the way we want it to end, but it doesn’t. Carnival has always been my favorite cruise line and will continue to be. I wasn’t there but I still thank you and the whole crew for how everything was handled. You are all amazing. Sandy Volpe from Wilmington, MA

  85. Adrea says:

    Assuming all is going well on the Splendor, we look forward to sailing with you on the 28th!

  86. Tabatha Bettencourt says:

    John- I along with my husband, sister, brother in law and my parents were on board the splendor (room 6418). This was my husband and my first cruise. My parents planned a trip to celebrate their 60th birthday with great family vacation (without kids). We were ao tired the first night we decided to get some rest and enjoy the rest of our trip well rested. Little did we know that we would be depriving ourselves of any true experience of a cruise. I awoke bright and early to what felt like an earthquake (we were in the aft section of the boat). The next few minutes I had fear that I had never had before. Your blog is giving me an insight to the behind the scenes that I suspected but never knew for sure. Well we both know how the cruise ended but what I want you to know that while I didn’t get the memories we had anticipated we got a lifelong memory of being together. You and the entire crew are to be thanked over and over for your hard work. Thank you. By the way I would recommend carnival consider putting flashlights on the ship in the event of such emergencies in the future. Also maybe a reconsideration and training to the chef and kitchen staff on how to ration food better and just make simple foods. I’m not complaining just suggesting. Thanks again.

  87. Donna says:

    Thank you John for these insights. I love reading them and can’t wait for the next part.
    I am booked on the Splendor for Nov. 28th and not only hope that the ship will be ready, I hope you will be on board! I’d love to meet you.

  88. Auguste says:

    Whoa, what an adventure !!!
    I anxiously followed the events ever since they started talking about it on the radio. And I thought of you John and prayed everyday for you and everybody on board. This ship is so special to me. I did the cruise on it last year and just this past September with my wife, and enjoy watching you so much, I was on the September cruise in which a guess “Marie” got on top of you !!!
    My wife and I were planning on celebrating my 8th “platinum” cruise next year on the splendor again, and hope to see you John, again.

    Best regards

  89. stuart says:

    John, Your account of the situation is so good to hear compared to the media’s. I was on the cruise the week of Oct 9th when we had the unfortunate loss of a crew member, and you handled that extremely well as I see you did hear. Great job to you the crew and the Captain again, I will sail on Carnival again any time. Keep up the good work and get some rest.

  90. Pete says:

    Actually, John already did — back in September which is apparently when he took over command of the Splendor! (scroll about 2/3 of the way down)

  91. Gina says:


    Thank you for your honesty and for all you did to make the best of a very stressful situation on the Carnival Splendor. Clearly the situation would have been worse without your experience,care and professionalism. I have cruised with Carnival now 6 times and I am proud to say I will continue to do so. I look forward to sailing with you someday. Best of luck.

  92. Barbara Aitchison says:

    John: My husband and I were fortunate to cruise with you while crossing the Atlantic Ocean. It was 16 days of pure fun, as you quickly became our favorite cruise director. We sailed the Splendor last April for my husband’s Bday and I wish that you could have been on that cruise also. I have read your blog of the events on board and feel compelled to comment. I only hope your passengers realize how fortunate that they were to have you as the CD. I also would like to know if it has been mentioned to supply all cabins with flashlights on future cruises. I know that there will be two packed in our luggage for all future cruises. Here’s hoping that we wil be fortunate to sail again with you . . .

  93. John,

    I don’t know if you read all your replies, however I wanted to THANK YOU (along with the entire crew of the Splendor) for your outstanding performance under very serious conditions.

    I am a Veteran and I remember my instruction of “when under fire, remain calm and be alert”. You certainly fulfilled that advice I received almost 50 years ago.

    My thanks to the US Coast Guard, US Navy and the Tugs (Chihuahua & tshitzu).

    I look forward to cruising with Carnival in the future.
    I have been on 3 cruises before that were great!

    David Russell Ohrn Stateroom 2331 11/7/10

    p.s. Any chance you can get me upgraded to a VIP card?

  94. Deborah Pratt says:

    Hi John,
    I am enjoying your accounts of what happened on the Splendor. I thank God no one was hurt or killed.. But I mostly thank God for your courage, compassion, and the love of your passengers for being so professional, and calm during a stressful, scarey and confused moment. I thank you and the crew of the Splendor. I have cruised on several Carnival ships .. Just off the Carnival Pride in October 3, 2010 . I will look forward to our next cruise on Carnival.. Keep up the great work. Thank you!!!

  95. Princess Susan says:

    I have goose bumps reading your “Smoke on the Water” blog 1,2,3 and now 4. I can’t even imagine what the Captain, crew and you have been through. I applaud all the hard work, quick thinking, and the great training of the crew of the Carnival Splendor. I’m glad you got a hot shower and a good nights sleep! Please take care of yourself!

  96. KarenN says:

    I’m so pleased that I chose to follow the story here and on the Carnival site. I live in Canada, but thanks to the magic of digital TV, I can watch TV stations from all over the US and Canada. So, with the details from here fresh in my mind, I was rather dismayed to see how the news reports were sensationalizing all this. One newscast referred to the ship “floating aimlessly in the ocean for days” and repeatedly mentioned the “nightmare” and “horror” the guests endured.

    Thanks for your blog and for Stephanie’s clear and honest updates.

    One question … why is the Splendo(u)r spelt incorrectly? *wink*

    Keep up the great work!

  97. MF says:

    Hi John,

    I am new to your blog and just began reading it as I have followed the news about the Splendor this past week.

    First I must say you are one of the funniest people! Your humor is top notch and so is your writing, and I wanted to thank you for managing to lighten up my day when I go through your prose.

    I am going backwards with my reading (after starting with the “Smoke On The Water” series) and have now gotten to the beginning of September 2010 and the issue with Kye’s toys.

    Have you ever thought of maybe taking a bag with you on board (when your family will be present) where Kye can keep a few things and then you don’t have to worry about packing anything when Heidi is coming to visit, or having to go to a store in a foreign port to purchase something?

    There are many things you can store that won’t take up much room but can provide hours of fun – things such as stuffed blocks of all sizes, pillow dolls, maybe a special blanket for her to cuddle with at night, or anything similar?

    I am someone who thoroughly enjoys making these sorts of objects, and as such I have been doing so for my niece, who is now almost ten months.

    And because there are so many babies being born in my family (none for me yet but hopefully within a few years), I have therefore gathered quite the collection of children’s fabric and I give away gifts all the time as it is a passion of mine.

    I would love to take some time and make Kye a set of toys of your choosing – and going along with the theme of “ship toys,” I can do a set of blocks and a pillow doll for her, a blanket, etc.

    The fabric I have is as follows: Winnie the Pooh, Strawberry Shortcake, Curious George, Disney Princess, Tinkerbell, teddy bears, dinosaurs, Thomas the Train, Mickey Mouse, Paddington Bear, hearts, flowers, stripes and plaids, Clifford (the big red dog), Sesame Street, jungle animals, and much more.

    When you have a chance (and if you would like to take me up on the offer), please let me know yours and Heidi’s favorite of the list and I will then get to work on your beautiful little girl’s new toys! I also need to know where to send them so they make it to the ship you are on once they are finished.

    Thank you so much John, and as many others have said: ignore the haters and the negative comments, these people have no other outlet and so they take their woes out on others with no regard that words do hurt and have an impact.

    I am glad you and the crew from Splendor made it back safely, and I hope you have a wonderful voyage for your next one on board.

    And I will be booking a cruise with you soon – I just need to find a cure for my seasickness (and vertigo) first! Yet I have heard that getting a centralized cabin makes the pitching and rolling less severe…

    Looking forward to hearing your choice for Kye’s toys!


  98. Gia says:


    You are the best. Your story brings a tear to my eye. I am so glad that it was you as the cruise director on this sailing. You handled the crisis with dignity and class. I am also shedding tears for the Splendor as I sailed on her two years ago and after 13 cruises, she quickly became one of my favorites. I am hoping that people still choose to sail on her and not give her a bad rep that she truly doesn’t deserve.

    Fondly yours,

  99. Anni says:

    Hi John,
    I’ve been on two cruises with you in the past and enjoyed them tremendously. I was on a Princess cruise that avoided tragedy during a hurricane by sailing elsewhere that made some passengers upset.
    My thought to the public is this;
    We just celebrated Veterans day here in the states.
    So many men and women have lost their lives so that we can have the “freedom” to be free!
    Please appreciate your freedom and all of those who protect you in your daily ventures!
    Please thank all of the crew members for keeping you safe.
    I’m glad this story has a happy ending.
    I will be cruising with Carnival again, because they care about the safety of their passengers.

  100. Cinderella says:

    John I heard your voice on the news. Sorry you had to go through this ordeal. We were on the Freedom with you in Europe and it was great to have you. Take care

  101. Chris K. says:

    I want to pass my kudos on this blog. I’ve never sailed Carnival, but reading Smoke on the Water has actually made me consider booking up. Perhaps we can share a cigar and appreciation for Megan’s arse at some point in the future.

  102. Doug Parker says:

    Speechless. I got a chance to talk to two people who just returned off the Splendor and they said the crew and the staff went above and beyond. I tip my hat to Carnival Cruise Lines and its great staff on aboard.

  103. Shane Huston says:


    If at all possible, could you inform us of the cause of the fire, once it’s determined?

  104. Jodi says:


    I’ve been cruising with Royal Caribbean for the past few years however you make me want to come back to Carnival! Great job by the Captain, you and the crew!

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  106. Laurie says:


    What lucky passengers to have you as their cruise director. We are scheduled to cruise on the Splendor next Sunday (the 21st) and are anxiously awaiting the news of whether we will sail or not. Fingers crossed that we will be meeting you soon!!!!

    ~Laurie in San Diego

  107. Sharon Dover says:

    John keep up the good work; see you in June on the Magic. You are what makes Carnival Cruise Line what is is!

  108. JR says:


    Just saw a video on You tube that had you announcing for the quests to come up to the outside deck.

    You are good. No one would have ever known you had soiled your underpants if you hadn’t told us.

    Good job,


  109. Gerry says:

    I have a new mantra for whenever I get in a bad situation in the future, What Would John Do!

  110. Bob Tinevez says:

    Incredible… professional… and commendible!! You and your staff did a superb job and kudos to the whole Carnival Team!!

  111. I’m on my tip toes waiting for part 5! As a Medical Officer working for CCL for the last three years, I know that waking up to a “pling” or a “pling plong” annoucement over the PA is never a good thing.
    We’re all glad everyone is safe aboard the Splendor and that no one got injured. Accidents do happen and that’s why we train so much and why every cruise we have drills and safety briefings.

    Keep us updated… I want to know for how long you were wearing those underpants!

  112. Chris says:

    We have really enjoyed this story and the confidence we have in Carnival Cruise. We had returned from a Mexican cruise in October on the Spirit and had a chance to meet the crew. We had such a great time we have now booked a cruise on the Splendor in July 2011. I hope all repairs will be made by then and that you are the cruise director. Would love to meet you.

  113. LeaAnn says:

    Again, kudos to you, John – and as Sandra’s comment above – John you should be the “Ambassador of Fun Carnival Style”! Glad you are home safe, give Heidi and Kye big hugs from Arkansas!
    Chris and Lea Ann

  114. Scott Lara says:

    Doug Parker and Matt Basford of Cruise Radio interviewed two passengers who agree that Carnival did a great job…

  115. Joe says:

    Good job.What’s a vacation without the slight possiblility of something going wrong? Heading for my ninth cruise on the Carnival Spirit, late December. Cheers.

  116. k says:

    LOVE reading this. Thank you! Great writting!

  117. Jason Bell says:

    Let’s not forget Duncan the Hotel Director, who John, the entire Hotel staff, Food and Beverage and Guest Services work under. The HD would have been the person giving the orders to opening up the bars and give away the photos etc…in addition to organizing and managing the crew.

  118. Maria & Juan Santana says:

    Hello John!

    Congratulations to you, the SPLENDOR crew, the Capt. & Officers and the whole Carnival organization for the way they handled the fire situation during and after the fire. Whatever happened was extremely unusual, but as we say: “shit happens” , it did happen, and considering the circumstances, you all handled it very well.

    Your loyal fans and cruise lovers,

    The Santanas of Miami Beach

  119. C. White says:

    Very much looking forward to another installment of Smoke On The Water. Ive been waiting to hear your take on the cruise since we first heard of the fire. Sounds like most everyone on the Splendor was amazing. Im sure there were some who complained the whole time, but heck, the last cruise we were on (and nothing went wrong) there were people complaining the whole time. We love Carnival and have even more respect for them after this.

  120. Calicruising says:

    To Jennie, who said the following, and for some reason does not have a REPLY button.
    “Jennie, on November 14, 2010 at 1:01 am said:
    I can’t believe Carnival employs a guy who talks/writes this kind of trash.

    “I stayed in a hotel last night and the joy of a hot shower was beyond description and me and my dangly bits are clean once more.”

    Don’t think I’d want him in charge of any emergency situation I was in. This trash might, might, just barely be okay on stage, but not written as a representative of a huge cruise line. Okay, okay, before you say it, I am a prude. But this kind of trash talk would not be tolerated in most businesses.”

    It is apparent that you you only came onto John’s blog after the Carnival incident. I would suggest that you not come on here again.
    John is the epitomy of what a Cruise Director should be. He is who you would want to be in charge because he would, as he has shown, use his humour(spelled the John way) to keep you from freaking out.
    I understand that you are a prude, but even still, to say that he should not represent Carnival, you need to get a full understanding of what John is like, and you do not now. We adore him and the way that he writes and how he is up front and honest. We love that he speaks from the heart and that when his baby was born that we got to hear every detail. John is very special and I hope that I have the opportunity to sail with him some day.
    You, need to forget your prudish ways and realize the enormity of the situation and choose if you would rather be talked to by a caring, compassionate man with a sense of humour, or a drill sargeant. I choose John, as I am sure that the majority of those on this board would as well.
    Enjoy your day Jennie… and try not to think about John’s Dangly bits.. LOL

  121. Ed & Barb Saari says:

    John – my wife and I have sailed with you a number of times. When we heard that you were the Cruise Director we knew that you would be doing a great job. The news media attempted to make this problem something it was not and you did a great job on the ship. Thanks a lot for the great blogs, it sure gives us a great feeling knowing what can and cannot happen in an emergency situation.
    We have always felt that the crew would do a great job in this type of situation and it sounds like they did. Our next trip is back on the Freedom on January 1 and we will be sailing knowing that we are on a safe ship with a great set of officers and crew.

    Again – great job – hope you are on one of our future trips.

    Ed & Barb

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  124. Melissa Jurgensen says:

    Well done John. The captain and crew of the Splendor should be commended. (Including you!) Thanks for the insight.


  125. Andrew Rogers says:

    We are Royal Carribean people with five cruises in the last two years…after reading your blog and observing how Carnival handled the incident we are very impressed. Carnival here we come. Nice job.

  126. michaeledits says:

    I remember when somebody posted “My favorite song is Deep Purple, Smoke Under Water.”

  127. Keith says:

    John, How about jumping aboard the Dream on December 23rd for the holiday and New Years. 9 days, should be a grand trip. Booked it over a year ago and we can’t wait.

    Bring Miguel Rodrigues (Maitre’d) with you.

    3 cheers for you and the team.

  128. Holly says:

    Hi John,
    I just started subscribing to your blog with all the hub bub happening on Splendor. I must say you are freakin hillarious. Also, I love cruises so much, I actually would have rather been on the Splendor with no power than at home with my 2 and 4 yr old boys. How bad can no hot water, no lights and cold food actually get? Thanks for your honesty on the mishap. We are planning a cruise in February and considering the Splendor so we can experiece your C.D. abilities.

  129. Thom Ross says:

    Hey…hey…hey.. lay off Arkansas now. Lol…I really enjoyed your posts…you really should consider writing a book.

    And John…you have my personal invitation to visit us in Arkansas anytime…one of the nicest states and some of the nicest people you’ll find anywhere in the world.

    Thom Ross

  130. Rob says:

    Great reading what actually happened. We have cruised with Carnival 3 times on 2 different itineries and John has been the director on all of them (I personally think he’s stalking I always thought John was a great director and person and this shows it plus much more. Having the pleasure of meeting you has only become more honourable and we will definately be cruising with you and Carnival again soon!

  131. Fred says:

    John, am a travel agent, but I have never sailed with you YET. You are a fine example of how a fine company treats their guests and their fellow staff.

    I am happy to read your accounts, because I am already very tired of most of the media painting a very unclear and unfair picture of the Splendor and this emergency this past week.

    I hope you and the crew of the Splendor know you are greatly admired for your actions. You all did it “square on right”. Thank you and I hope to sail with you soon.

  132. Jennie,

    Get a life will ya? It’s a blog and you don’t have to read it. It’s called a sense of humor, either get one or don’t read it.

    John I think it’s great how you ALL handled it. You guys are amazing and I love your blog. I hope you guys all get a lil break and that the Splendor is back up and running soon.

  133. John L. says:

    John –

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blogs about the Splendor fire.

    I enjoy the amount of humor you put in… I do have a question though….

    When you refereed to the EMMASAT I became confused. I had never heard of that; I said to myself “Maybe he meant INMARSAT?”

    INMARSAT is the major company that provides Satellite communication to the Maritime industry.

    Is EMMASAT an inside joke over the way some folks pronounce it?

    Thanks again for your blog!

  134. Upandadam says:

    “Dangly bits”?

    Man, that’s funny.

  135. Ann says:

    My disclaimers: I have not sailed Carnival and may not since I am not sure it is a good fit for my family, and I am definitely a prude. Yet I have to say:
    1) I would want John on a ship in case of emergency. It sounds like not only was corporate stand-up in how it handled help and compensation for those on board, but also that the crew, all the way from captain down (including John) did an amazing job.
    2) I can’t believe you were hard on yourself about the blankets and people waiting on deck 4 by the muster stations. Hind sight is so much clearer. You did an amazing job in a very trying situation. If you quotes are anywhere close to what you said, you told people to dress warmly, you told them to go to decks 3 and 9 or above. You can’t know how everyone will interpret your word and react.
    3) I have a much better of opinion of Carnival after this situation that I had before.
    4) As others said, this is a personal blog. Even though I don’t usually like potty humor, this blog has so much good information, I read it and even smile and snicker fairly often. 🙂

    Congratulations to the crew for all they did. I would hope that as the crew was working so hard to get food and supplies to all, hopefully some guests also stepped forward to offer help.

  136. micah says:

    Hey John,

    I am on the Nov 21 cruise. Are you going to join us?
    If not who will be our cruise director?

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