Smoke On the Water – Part 5

November 15, 2010 -

John Heald

I had been on the bridge for four hours and on my feet for all of it. But a few moments after I had made the announcement that the smoke was dissapissatating and that the cables were no longer on fire my legs suddenly felt heavy and I realised I needed to take my Metmorphin diabetic pill and I needed to pee. And so excusing myself with the Captain who was back on the phone with the beards back in Miami I went down to my cabin. It would be the last time I would see it for the next 16 hours.

The reality of just how bad the situation was had not truly hit home because the bridge has lots of windows of course and the natural daylight had disguised the fact that where there were no windows…………..the ship was as dark as an Ed Wood movie.

I took my pill and checked my sugar level which was higher than normal because I had taken it later than usual and because stress has the same effect on sugar levels as Megan Fox’s bottom has on other parts of my body. I knew I had to get back to the bridge quickly so I went into the bathroom to pee and that’s when I realised that my state room steward Ketut was not going to enjoy cleaning my cabin. There are no windows in my bedroom or bathroom and although I was eventually on target the first few moments I was off the mark like Stevie Wonder shooting a three pointer……..sorry Ketut.

Seriously though the lack of lighting started the worry bells ringing in my head and then when I pressed the flush button and dint hear the usual sunction noise……………….I began to realise that this was far, far from over.

And so I went back to the bridge climbing the stairs from deck 5 to deck 8 and when I got there I was wheezing like an asthmatic hamster trying to pull an elephant on a skateboard. Again, I started to think if I was out of breath climbing three flights how were all the guests going to manage……………how were all the older guests and children going to manage. These thoughts were still diluted with the hope that the engineers would restore the power and everything would be ok but about 30 minutes later I knew I had to say something to the guests.

The Guest Services Desk had a line of people saying that their lights were not working and their toilets not flushing. So I went to the Captain who was on the phone still with the command centre and asked him to interrupt the conversation so we could have one that went like this:


The Captain looked at me with tired blood shot eyes. Claudio is a handsome man and being an Italian man means he has won the lottery of life. Yet as I stood there looking at him I saw a man who was aging by the second. Obviously being fat and British still made him a thousand times better looking than me though.


The Captain then related my concerns and asked for permission to do this which of course he got. I will say that even if the beards had said “no, wait and see what happens” I would have respectfully ignored them and done it anyway. I had promised from the start of this that I would tell the truth and I wasn’t going to stop now. But my colleagues in the command center agreed with me but the Captain wanted to do one more thing before I spoke to the guests.


The Captain then called on the Walkie Talkie to Chief Engineer Mario.


There was silence for a moment and then a voice that sounded like he was about to tell someone that a family member had been killed said “Captain, the main switchboard is finished………………. he paused…………… and then his voice cracking with emotion he said words I will never forget. I cannot give you anything………. nothing…………. no engines, no power…………… everything is finished………… finished…………. finished.”

I will never ever forget the fact that he said the word “finished” three times and each time he said his voice reached new levels of despair. This was his engine room and now it was a dead place, devoid of life and he was taking this very personally indeed.

And so I trudged over to the PA system again and made an announcement that in some ways was as difficult to make as any of the previous ones.




Then over the next few hours the following things happened……………… and again excuse me for putting this in list form but it is the only way I will remember everything.

1. The Captain was informed by the command centre that the US Coastguard was sending a cutter which would arrive late that evening. I informed the guests of this and how important it was to feel reassured that they were on their way.

2. Approximately one hour after the announcement that the toilet system was not working our housekeeping manager Rudy called to say that people had used the public restrooms on decks 3,4,5 and 9 and that they were no longer in a fit state for public use. The Hotel Director, the Captain and I discussed this and it was decided that we should lock the public restrooms and that I should tell guests that they should have to use their own cabins. The announcement to do so went something like this:


Now it was at the conclusion of this announcement that I decided that from now on, every announcement would include some kind of humour………I didn’t think this through at all and as my attempt at humour continued throughout the next few days I had no idea if it was appreciated by the guests but my heart told me I had to do this and therefore every time I spoke to the guests I would try to say something humourous…………..I still don’t know if they appreciated it or not, or if the majority of the guests were looking at the PA system and saying ” will you shut up you fat annoying bastard.”

And so my announcement carried on.


By the way, my apologies to the travel writer of the LA Times who wrote yesterday that my humour was “overboard.”

3. I spoke to my ACDs Stephanie and Marcello on the radio ( not having phones was becoming a royal pain in the arse) and asked them to get all the entertainment staff together and bring them to meet me at the bridge. They all arrived some puffing harder than others having climbed from deck 3 to deck 8. I thanked them for all they had done and encouraged them to walk the corridors and decks and just talk to people, make sure they were ok and if they needed anything to let me know. I was on the bridge……………..they were my eyes and ears.

4. At 10:45am our Food and Beverage Manager came to the bridge and myself, Duncan and Captain Cupisti had a conference because it was time to prepare dinner and with no power there would be no Mongolian Wok, no Burrito Bar, no Pizza, no Grill………… fact there would be no hot food at all.
And so I paged all 60 plus chefs and cooks to go to the galley and that’s when they set about making salads and sandwiches for 3299 people. Imagine someone calls you and says “hey Mrs Smith, me and 8 friends will be round in 30 minutes, make us a few sandwiches each would you dear.”

And now imagine telling the Chef that he needed to make at least 9,000 sandwiches and had an hour to do so. First of all he had to get the stores from deck 0 to the galley on deck 4……………with no elevators. Then he had to decide what he could put in the sandwiches and then make 7000 of the buggers. This figure is based on each guest taking two each plus feeding 1200 as well. The Chef was as you can imagine was a wee bit stressed.

It took a long time to make these sandwiches and when they were finally ready to be put out it was 12:45am and everyone was very, very hungry. Now the galley is on deck 4 and it made no sense to have to carry them all the way to deck 9 and the lido service areas. This proved to be a big mistake on our part as the lines were horrendous and so much so that I had to apologise and explain the complications of the service and I promised we would do better at dinner time because like the idiot, hope sprang eternal that we would have power for dinner and that everyone would be feasting on chocolate melting cake.

Yep………….the reports you heard about lines for food on that Monday lunchtime are absolutely true. We acted on the fly and although the Chef did an amazing job in preparing them our decision not to open the Lido for lunch was a huge mistake…………..but we would get better. And oh yes,
I will talk about food again in part 239.

I had a problem of my own though because I had missed both breakfast and lunch and my sugar levels were now lower than Paris Hilton’s underwear. I knew this because my hands were shaking and my head was pounding………..sure signs of low sugar. The only time I had felt like this and it wasn’t because of low blood sugar levels was after the bollocking my wife Heidi had given me when she caught me looking at

Yet how was I going to ask for a sandwich when none of the crew had been fed yet. Luckily I found one stick of Twix on the bridge and I am here to admit…………… I stole it. I have no idea who it belonged to and if that person is reading this……… it was me………… I am the thief………….. I was too shy to ask but if I hadn’t eaten it…………. there would have been 260 pounds of British beef on the floor.

It was by the way 2:00pm before we fed the crew and not a single one of them complained. We eventually got sandwiches on the bridge as well at 2:30pm because the Captain insisted that he would not eat until the crew had.

There were lots of decisions to make that Monday afternoon. Some were made between us onboard and some were made by the Miami command centre and yet the one thing we were all waiting for was the one from the Chief Engineer and at 4:15pm he came to the bridge to tell us in person.

His face was as black as coal and his once white overalls looked like they had been washed in a pool of oil and dust. But I will never forget his head. Marco has a wonderful hairless head which now had blue veins pulsating out of it, a true sign of the stress he had been through.

He took the Captain to one side of the bridge and they had a discussion with their backs to Duncan and I. Whatever the Chief Engineer had told the Captain suddenly caused the stress and pent up emotion and the enormous responsibility that had been weighing down on Captain Cupisti’s shoulders, just for a moment got the better of him…………. because he picked up a stool and flung it with all his might against the closet where the ships charts are kept. I watched as one of piece broke off and bounced towards me. Silence ruled the bridge.

We all watched and waited while the Captain stood…………… head bowed. He then turned and picked up the stool, apologizing to all of us in both English and Italian.

He then went and spoke again on the emergency phone to the command centre and we all knew why it wasn’t a good time to be a piece of bridge furniture. The Chief had confirmed that we had no possible way of restoring power to the engines. If we were going to move it wouldn’t be under our own power……………… we needed help………………. and quickly.

It seemed appropriate that as the Captain got off the phone to confirm what was happening that the sun began to set and darkness began to envelop the ship. The command centre had ordered two tugs to come to the vessel and they would tow us like unceremoniously into Ensenada, Mexico where we would arrive sometime late on Wednesday.

The tugs would be here in the wee small hours of the morning and I was going to have to tell the guests.

As I made my way back to the sodding PA system, I picked up the bit that had fallen off the stool after it’s impact with the chart cupboard. I tapped the Captain on the shoulder and placed it in his hand.

“What’s that?” asked the Captain.

I looked at him and said “It’s a stool sample.”

He smiled for the first time in many many hours and job done there……. I went to tell the guests that help was on the way but that tonight was going to be challenging for us all.

Join me tomorrow for the final part of Smoke On The Water.


PS – I am here in the UK. I didn’t want to make a big song and dance about flying home because I feel very guilty that I have left the Carnival Splendor as she is. But, I needed to come home because I feel totally washed out. I will be back in the States at the end of the month to film a piece at St Jude Children’s Hospital and for meetings about the Bloggers cruise number 4. It feels wonderful to be home and being with the girls is just what I needed……. although my wife thought it would be bloody hilarious if instead of the Steak and onions I had asked for……….she would serve me something else.

John Eating Spam

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182 Responses to Smoke On the Water – Part 5

  1. April says:

    Dear John–
    Thank you so much for your updating and informational blog–and I’m happy to read that you are home with the girls—–sorry about the Spam—–for some reason I will now always think of it as the meal I missed out on while I was on the Splendor—
    Selfishly— I’m looking forward to what becomes of your meeting regarding the next Blogger cruise–since thats when I get to see you again–along with my CruiseMates friends–and CC friends as well—
    Thanks for putting a smile on my face too–
    Hugs and cheers

  2. Ducky says:

    Stool sample … Love it.

  3. Sari B. says:

    Enjoy your time home with Heidi and Kye John. you will feel so rejunivated when you come back I’m sure!

    Thanks so much for these Smoke on the Water blogs! As always your writing is so enjoyable even when not the happiest of topics..

    Many happy thoughts coming your way over the pond…..


  4. Kerry H (AKA Fred & Wilma) says:

    Having just left the Spendor on Sunday morning (Nov 7th) I would just like to thank you and your staff for all they have done through this past week. You are a truly remarkable human John. talking to some people that were on this rememberable cruise, they have made mention several time that your calmness made all the difference as well as the professionalism of ALL the staff.

    Thank You for… everything you do to make our trips more enjoyable but mostly SAFE!
    Yaba daba do!

  5. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:


    As I posted on your Facebook….

    Please do not feel guilty about “leaving the Splendor”.
    You were there when the ship needed you.

    Now is the time for the other experts to do their job.
    You have done yours and you have done it well.

    I hope the ship can be repaired in a timely fashion, so that no other cruisers have to miss out on the wonderful opportunity of cruising.

    Rest !!

    Linda (Mom of your friend DJ)

  6. john and patty says:

    john, what else can we say?, except that you were the exact person that needed to be there to get everyone through this problem,i am sure no one could have done it better!

  7. Cliff Switzer says:

    As always, a good job! But I must admit, knowing you are in the UK has put the idea in many heads that you would not be there unless you knew that the Splendor was not sailing the 21st, although no mention of it had been made. One can assume one of two things. You are taking well deserved extra time off and the ship will sail with your ACD’s in charge. Or your time away is no big deal because the ship isn’t going anywhere until maybe the 28th or later.

  8. Wow, what an experience indeed. I’m sure there will be many training sessions on this in the future. Can’t wait for the next installment.

    Enjoy your time with your family. You certainly deserve a break. 🙂

  9. Frank and Bridie says:

    John please please find some time to relax and enjoy your wife and daughter. The spam is hillarious!!!!!

    Big fans As Allways,
    Frank and Bridie

  10. Jeff L says:


    Many others have thanked you for your posts, and add mine to that, but I wanted to tell you I especially respect your candor. You are not trying to ‘spin’ things as is so common today, and more importantly your bosses do not seem to be demanding that of you, something heavily in Carnival’s favor.

    To be honest, we’ve never considered Carnival, but seeing how this is being handled, we might in the future…

    Jeff L

  11. Mike says:

    Other then the apparently stuffed up travel writer, I am absolutely sure the humor was appreciated. It is what we expect from you, information in a humorous manner that makes it palatable. The Message from a Carnival Splendor Guest seems more likely the attitude of the guests.

    Wish my wife and I could take part in the Blogger cruise, alas we working stiffs don’t have the time to allow Carnival to tug us around the 7 seas.

  12. Jennifer says:


    I know the guests appreciated your humor (spelled correctly). I have heard reports as to such. They were definitely lucky to be stranded with you! I hope to be able to cruise with you again in the future. I don’t think a cruise will ever be as good without you! I gotta get a picture with you! My husband and I are huge fans! We sailed on the Conquest with you back in April. The best cruise ever. We have always been Carnival fans and this horrible situation proves why we love Carnival so much! Kudos to you and your team.

  13. April says:

    Opps John I forgot to mention that with all of this Splendor stuff — they should give you a big raise and a bonus too—
    Thanks again for making my day brighter–and give the girls a big hug for me—-
    Sometimes a hug can make all the difference in the world—–

  14. Jen says:

    Hi John,

    So glad you were able to head home for some much-needed time off with your family. I really appreciate your “true” account of what happened on the Splendor as I have been following it in various sources for the past week. I can’t even imagine the stress carried by the crew.

    Happy all are home safe and sound.

  15. Big Ed says:

    John your doing a great job retelling us what all went down during those few days. Enjoy your time with Heidi and Kye.

    Heidi keep feeding John that case of SPAM he stole from the ship, LOL.

    BIG Ed

  16. Canuck Cruiser says:

    Hey John,
    Thanks for the candid report of what happened on the SPLENDOR. I am glad you went home and are getting some well needed rest with Heidi and Kye.
    Be well and take care of your health. Tomorrow is another day and this past adventure will be material for future cruises.
    Be proud of the job that everyone did on the SPLENDOR…….crew and passengers.
    Loved the stool sample joke………..I’m still laughing at that one.
    Keep up the good work on the diet. It shows.

    All the best from Stratford.


  17. Loretta Wampler says:

    The Splendor needs you well rested and so does the St. Jude program.
    God bless you and the crew of the Splendor.

  18. Amy says:

    Thanks for the laugh. Spam!

  19. Nettie Kinney says:

    Welcome home,
    It has been so nice to read your Blogg. I can close my eyes and picture the events that you write about, so clearly. I am schduled to sail on the Splendor on 11-28-10. I know you will not be on that cruise, for that matter maybe I will not either. The repairs could take that long, I imagine. You, the Captain, and all the crew deserve a standing ovation. BRAVO ! ! !

  20. John Drake says:

    John, I must confess that I am not an avid follower of blogs, including yours, but I must tell you how I look forward to each of your installments. The frank detail is not only fasinating to those of us who love to cruise but also refreshing and cudos to Carnival for their support in letting you do what you do. As they say, shit happens, but it always boils down to how you handle it and from all accounts Carnival has done everything right. Good luck to you and the rest of the crew and here’s hoping the Splendor is soon back to give her passengers the cruise vacation of their lives. Cheers.

  21. Linda S. says:

    As a fellow cruiseline employee I am riveted to your story. During the days while the Splendor was at sea, and after it arrived in San Diego, I read numerous accounts in the news of what was happening. One item was never mentioned however – until you included it in your blog.
    And that’s of the name of the captain (or any mention of him, actually) , and the heavy
    responsibility he carried, and that he successfully returned the ship with all safe onboard . The omission by the media was as odd as it was astounding.
    Thank you for your insight into his experience.

  22. Marissa Ortiz-Mena says:

    I nominate John for a Pulitzer prize. Do I hear a “I second that nomination.”?

    John, those of us here on dry ground found ourselves praying for the safety and quick return of the Splendor, its crew and guests. We could only imagin the difficulties and stress you were having to endure.

    Thanks for thaking the time to share your story and clear up much of the misinformation that the media has been broadcasting.

    Do not feel guilty about being away from the Spendor and being home with your girls. Everyone knows that this time with them is very much deserved and you have earned it 1000 times over.

    Rest up my dear CD because we would all like to see you back at sea once again. (Hopefully my family and I will get to see you on January 15th on the Triumph.)

    • Ginny Gordon says:

      I second it – as well as medal for his bravery in facing 3200 passengers in a situation such as this. I sailed with John in the face of two hurricanes (Carnvial Glory) and each port we picked up passengers….John’s announcements brought a sense of ease – especially when he said welcome home. Thank you John for being you!

    • Steve says:

      Second…I’m laughing, I’m crying…it’s a real page turner. You won’t be able to put it down.

      The next question is…who plays John in the movie ????

      Brad Pitt, Liam Neeson, John Cleese ?

    • Linda says:

      I support the Pulitzer prize for John.

      And I think the whole crew deserves medals of honor; John was their voice. And from what I read an incredibly comfortating voice.

      My husband (who does not read your blogs – or any other for that point – but does listen to me when I read them to him) offered to go help out with the engine repairs on the Splendor, if that would help you feel less guilty. He said he would love to get his hands on that engine and help out.

  23. Princess Susan says:

    John thanks for the laugh! I am so happy you went home to rest. I can see it in your face that you are exhausted and still stressed over what you have just gone through.

    Heidi please give John some TLC that you are so good at. THIS time he has earned it.

  24. Jim Stranger says:

    Its OK to sit down when you pee, especially
    when its pitch black. LOL

  25. JMK says:


    As usual you had me laughing and crying at the same time while reading today’s entry. I could feel the stress and heartbreak of the captain through your words and I love that you were able to make him smile with your humor (spelled correctly!)

    As I posted on your FB page, please take care of yourself. Enjoy the down time. Enjoy the time with your girls. You definitely deserve it and have no need to feel guilty.

    Best wishes!

    • sue says:

      Ditto, do not feel gulty. Just keep bloggin’.

    • Robert Flynn says:

      John, I was on board the Splendor and wish to extend my Thanks for a job well done. I wrote a brief account of the inceident for and was told it was very good. I thought that your readers would be interested in my comments. Unfortunately, I am not very computer literate and am unsure of how to forward it to your blog. But the artice can be found at cruise, Thanks again as you do an excellent job under very difficult circumstances.

      • Elizabeth says:

        Robert, I read your comments on CC yesterday. It was truly an excellent review. Anyone who has not seen it should be sure to look for it.


  26. Susan says:

    Please continue your story! I can’t wait till the next section! Your writing is wonderful and it makes it so you can almost picture the scene where it is taking place.

  27. I loved the “stool sample”! Genius!

  28. Dodi says:

    Thanks so much for the witty humor! I enjoy following your blog.

  29. Ron Pope - Seabee22 / USN Retired says:

    JOHN —

    Glad that you are at home with your Girls ………after all “just being with Family” is the best cure for what ever the word throws at you……ENJOY THE TIME …

    You truly deserve the best………………………

  30. Waiting4acruise says:


    Thank for you candor account on what happened on the bridge.

    Now get some rest at home with your girls.

  31. Lucinda says:

    On Friday evening when I discovered that you had finally started telling your story I was reading your blog on my phone while waiting for my hubby to come out of his office so that we could go home. He doesn’t read your blog but allows me to ready excerpts out of it to him. When he came out of the office I non-chalantly stole his Ipad out of his backpack and my aircard out of mine, he knew I was up to something but waited for me to speak. I brought up your blog on the Ipad and read the first paragraph of part one outloud to him. When I looked up from that hubby was laughing so hard he couldn’t keep the car straight on the road; all I could get out between my laughter is I cannot wait to meet you in person! I proceded to read all three parts of the blog to him and finished just as we were pulling into our driveway. I think that was the best commute I have ever had!

    I am so glad that everyone is safe and sound and that you are getting a much deserved break; I bet kye was so excited to see you.

    Our first cruise with Carnival is in January on the Valor and our second will be with you on the Magic in October.

    Get some rest and have fun with that adorable little girl.

  32. sheri says:

    John, I fell funny saying this, but I have really enjoyed reading your account of this mishap on the Splendor…and I mean that as nicely as possible, considering all that you, the crew and guest went through.
    A very difficult and dangerous situation, that you all seemed to handle splendidly …(pun intended) ..we had the pleasure a few years back on the Liberty to have you as our CD, and I am sure a good sense of humor was in order….so happy everyone was safe, maybe not happy…but safe…enjoy your rest……

  33. Randall says:

    It looks like your wife has a great sense of humour just like you! By the way, even if Spam had been served, I don’t see what the big deal is. Even though I don’t like Spam. I would eat it if I were hungry enough.

    I hope you get a chance to recharge yourself while at home!

  34. John –
    Thank you for your recent blog – it is informative and your very appropriate wit must have helped your passenger’s state of mind. Well done. .

  35. Nancee Stimple says:

    Hi John,
    I was one of the many guests on the Splendor during this incredible adventure. And, I am the one that became engaged; what a time for a proposal!
    I wanted to personally thank you for your continuous updates. Your voice and your humor had a calming affect on all of us. I’m quite sure things might have become ugly without you. We wondered what the tension must have been like on the bridge, and your blog is answering that question. Thanks for doing this as well.
    I am very sorry to see such negative reports in the media, and wonder at how out of 3300 guests, they managed to interview those few who wanted to complain. Carnival did a great job of making us as comfortable as possible in an uncomfortable situation. My only complaint is that I DIDN’T get any Spam, I personally love the stuff!! Thank you again, see you on a future cruise!

  36. Lisa says:


    It has been so enlightening reading the experience from your point of view. I must say, from what I’ve read from passengers, I’m so impressed with the ship’s crew. Your tales have increased my respect for the officers, as well–the Captain not eating until after the crew is admirable. Many passenger accounts I’ve read state that your calm and humor were instrumental in making the trip bearable. I’m glad there were no complications with your Diabetes.

    I’m encouraged to hear that you will be visiting St. Jude! If you are staying for a bit in Memphis, may I suggest 3 other visits that you will not regret: The National Civil Rights Museum, built on the property of the Lorraine Motel (the site of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s final days), the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum across from the FedEx Forum, and the Stax Museum on McLemore. Graceland is always worth a visit, of course; but if time is limited, then I would recommend the first three for a real feel of Memphis history. Even if you only have 2 free hours, the Civil Rights Museum should not be missed.

    Enjoy the time with your family & congratulations on a job well done!

  37. hillary says:

    john u have done whaqt no other has had to do, and for that u totally deserve time with ur family, and a everyone else!! i love reading your blog, mainly because i know it will be the truth and not something te media has created….thank u for all ur hard work..cant wait for the last part!!! hang in there

  38. Boston Kat says:

    Relax and enjoy your time with the girls!

  39. William R. Warren says:

    The ability to offer calm and insightful assistance in trying times is a gift. The ability to do so with humor and grace is a miracle. I have cruised many times (MANY, MANY TIMES) with Carnival and will be departing in January for my next adventure on the Liberty. My experience with Carnival told me before the situation was resolved that the crew and the cruise line will make this as bearable as possible and if anything needs to be done, it will be. As we say here in the heartland….. Ya done good!

    By the way, I plan on stealing that stool sample line so be prepared when I show up with a tee shirt printed with the story.

  40. Calicruising says:

    Hi John,
    I was hoping that they would get you home after your ordeal. No reason to hang out in California or Miami waiting for the Splendor to be repaired.
    I feel bad for those that planned a Thanksgiving cruise aboard the ship since it appears that the Splendor will probably not be sailing at that time. I am sure glad that my clients chose the Spirit for Thanksgiving instead of the Splendor, just to get the different ports!!! I wanted them to go on the Splendor though because YOU were on it and I knew that they would enjoy you so much.
    Enjoy your time with Heidi and Kye. After an ordeal like this, being with your family is what you need:)
    Big Hugs to all,

  41. Dobbs Family says:

    We still love Carnival and will keep cruising with them…bad luck does happen every once in awhile,and you still performed professionally.

  42. Mark Jacobson says:

    John … We were on the ship with you and very much appreciated your sense of humor and calming effect. Carnival and the entire crew did everything humanly possible to make the best of a bad situation. I have posted some videos of the good things that were happening including the trivia games, dancing etc. for my family and friends to see (what the news didn’t show).
    Thanks again for a job well done!
    Mark and Ellen – stateroom 1348

  43. Cheryl Barcomb says:

    Hi John, so glad you are home with the girls. You made me laugh and cry through out these blogs about the fire. Your writing is just so great, it puts us right there. We have cruised with you twice and if any ship were to have a mis hap like this, you are the CD to make sure everyone is at ease. Your humour and knowledge is insumentable. Please rest up hoping you will have Thanksgiving with your family in the UK.

  44. Deb P says:

    I see a movie in the works here. Wonderful story as others have said it is riveting we are just waiting for the next part. Enjoy your girls and rest.

  45. Host Mach from Cruise Critic says:

    Brilliant picture, John… love it!

    I’m glad you were able to introduce a bit of humout (spelled correctly…) into the situation. I know it made it easier for the passengers.

    Tell Heidi and Kye that Stitch and I send our love.


    Host Mach

  46. Mark Rosenthal says:

    enjoy your time at home, you deserve it and I know it will do you wonders seeing the family. Los Angeles looks forward to welcoming you back soon.

  47. Terri says:

    Hi John, I’m so glad that you are home safe and sound. Enjoy your time off. I watched the news reports from Carnival Triumph. I felt guilty eating fresh food, and sipping on cold beverages. I am so proud of you and Carnival for acting in the manner that you all did. If I would have been on that ship and someone with a news camera came at me, I would have told them that this is just an adventure, and that I would never leave Carnival as my vacation venue. All of you who work for Carnival are great!

    Just so you know, my cruise with Carnival Triumph was perfect and above and beyond what I had expected for my 2nd cruise. We have another cruise booked for June on the Destiny, and my understanding of the 4th cruise in 2012 will be on the Conquest.

    Thank you so much for all you have done for us. You are a very very special and wonderful person. Keep up your wonderful writing. I always look forward to reading your blog and love your pics of you and your girls.

    Hugs to you and Carnival,

  48. Shelly C says:

    OMG! “Stool sample” – you are killing me!

  49. Angela says:

    hi john

    glad you are home…you need it…hope I will see you again on my next cruise…saw you on the Dream last year from NY…you are the greatest CD I have next cruise is number 11…wouldn’t want anyone else in a situation like that…hope to find out which ship you will be on…

  50. Denise says:


    I was one of the passengers on the Splendor during this time and I want to Thank You once again for your honesty, humor, compassion, etc. You helped me make it though a very hard time. I was in cabin 9261 alone I had other friends on the ship but they were on deck six. As I read your blog I remember where I was on the ship during each and everyone of your announcements. When you were speaking you could hear a pin drop and than when you made a joke everybody would laugh. The parts about what happen on the bridge is so interesting!! You deserve to rest with your family!! Job well Done!!!

  51. Cheryl Killian says:

    I love this photo!!!

  52. Barry says:


    I am really enjoying reading your commentary about the Splendor fire. It is the only thing now available that has any real credibility. I am an Electrical Engineer and am responsible for electrical maintenance at a large nuclear plant. I am very interested to understand what happened. If you can, please comment on the following questions.

    1-News reports indicated a catastrophic diesel failure (crankcase rupture) yet your comments indicate a major switchgear fault. Did the diesel failure indeed occur and how did it relate to the switchgear (electrical) fire?

    2-I understand the Splendor has two electrical plants, each with three diesel generators. Why did a failure in the aft plant effect the ability of the undamaged forward plant from supplying both hotel and limited propulsion power?

    I certainly understand you may not be able to address these questions but these are obvious questions a lot of people are asking.

    I am glad this entire event had a happy ending for everyone except the insurance companies. Even one person being seriously injured would have made a huge difference. I also think your outstanding people skills made a significant difference in how well the guests coped with the event itself and its uncomfortable (no A/C and cold food) aftermath.

    I am glad I was not aboard. I do not think I would have been very disturbed by the fire but I would have been absolutely beside myself not being able to participate in the reentry and recovery phases. For years I have held positions where I am deeply involved in dealing with major electrical equipment failures and problems. Being just a passenger in this type of situation would have frustrated the hell out of me.

    Thank you for taking the effort to write such an informative blog.


  53. Ellen T Horan says:

    John, Happy to see you are home in the UK. As I said in a previous reply, you should think about writing a book about your ordeal. You have a wonderful way with words.

    Too bad Ken Byrne was not the Maitre-D, at least the guests would have some wonderful entertainment.


  54. Jeanie Partington says:

    Dear John:

    I’m so glad that I happened onto your blog. I live in Houston and I am saving for my first cruise out of Galveston on the Conquest. Reading how the Captain and crew of the Splendor handled the emergency just confirms that Carnival is the line I want to cruise with for my first outing. Reading the guest letter with information of what Carnival did financially, i.e., forgiving and charges put on cruise cards, free pictures, free alcohol, and a free cruise within two years after the refund for this cruise and paying all of the transportation costs to get the cruisers home… Carnival handled the emergency and has gone far above and beyond. Carnival has proved that they should be my first choice of line to cruise with. Kudos to the Captain and Crew of the Splendor and to Carnival Cruise Lines.

  55. Lisa says:

    I have read many of the news accounts of this “adventure” but was most riveted reading your account, John. When I learnt (spelled incorrectly) that you were the CD on this cruise, I knew you were the man for the job. Love your sense of humour (spelled incorrectly). “Stool sample” made me fall off my chair laughing. Best wishes to you, yours and the Carnival family.

  56. Mary Fairbanks says:

    OMG stool sample…
    I have really enjoyed the “smoke on the water” series on the sea. You really do need to write a book mate.
    Enjoy your time with your girls.
    See you on the Carnival Magic in Europe and TA
    Your friends in Cali

  57. Lisa says:

    John, you didn’t “leave” Lady Splendor. You put her in the hands of those who are able to fix her up as good as new. And I’m happy that you are in the hands of those who will fix YOU up as good as new too. Enjoy your time at home and I can’t wait for tomorrow’s installment. Cheers!

  58. Odette Dunn says:

    Thank you so much for sharing the story with us. It makes me laugh and it makes me cry! Our family (24 of us) was on the ship on October 24 sailing and we just love you!

    Enjoy your time at home with your family.
    Thanks again.

  59. Michelle says:

    “Stool sample”–literally had sprite squirting out of my nose!!!!!!!!

  60. Erika Whitley says:

    I’m an avid cruiser and Carnival Platinum past guest. Watching the daily news reports gave me chills as I cannot even imagine what everyone (guests AND crew) had to deal with. Thank you, John, for giving us some insight into life on the Splendor during that time, and what really happened. Thank God all are okay. 🙂

  61. Kathy from Savannah, Ga. says:

    John, I love to cruise, and Carnival is my favorite line. Now that I have read your (delightfully informative) account of the events that occurred on the Splendor, I am even more dedicated to the Carnival experience.

    Thank you and God bless!

  62. People forget the “responsibility” the captain has for a ship like that. Most cruises don’t have that much go wrong on one sailing! But the Captain did what he could.

    Carnival did a wonderful job.

  63. Brian Thomas says:

    Love this installment. I see Marcello was one of yoru assistants?? Is this the same Marcello from the Crazies Cruise on the Conquest last September? Next time you see him tell him the Human Christmas Tree says hello.

  64. Robin in New York says:

    John…seriously, I know even this event will not get cruising out of your blood, but have you considered stand-up comedy or writing for television? You really are a hoot….stool sample….enjoy your rest, well deserved.

  65. joan mccarty says:

    As a fellow diabetic God was watching over you during this time. Between eating foods that we shuldn’t eat as diabetics, I know the result stress can produce on us. The best thing you did for your health was to go home to your loving family. That’s better then all the meds in the world.

  66. Jim Folz says:


    If you are filming at St. Jude that probably means you will be coming to Memphis. Let us know if there is anything that you need, even a referral for a restaurant. (If you come to Memphis you must try the BBQ ribs!) I don’t think we have ever sailed with you specifically but the Carnival staff has always treated us so well that we would certainly go out of our way if you need anything or have any questions about our city.

    And thanks for supporting St. Jude’s. It sounds like you did a wonderful job last week. I think people should realize that no matter what the media says, most of us are safer on a Carnival Fun Ship than in our own houses. Last time I checked our house sure did not have a sprinkler system, a CO2 fire suppression system, or 24/7/365 security. Although, sometimes on the cruise ship one must to put up with a Cruse Director and his unique sense of humor! 🙂


  67. Chere Willet says:

    Even as a passanger of this voyage, it is great reading about your encounters, we as guests know what we went through personally, the trials of no toilets, no hot food, the blasted stairs, and keeping the children entertained. We in my group of 19 completely appreciated it every time you came on over the PA, and looked forward to your humor. we took over the red room, it is the room on the fifth floor that on sunday the floor lit up for dancing. Anyway it was a great place for the small children, we shut the doors and the little ones could run and play and we did not have to worry about them running off. We are proud to say we are Carnival Cruisers and plan on going on more cruises soon. Everyone worked so hard to keep everyone happy. we even opened our working bathroom to others that did not have one.

  68. Lisa says:

    “It’s a stool sample.” LMBO That had me dieing. I just love reading your blog thingy.

  69. catmama044 says:

    John, as always a HUGE thank you for your honesty. It is a rare occurence these days. You rose above and beyond the call of duty, as we would expect no less of you. I have to repeat what others have said, and also as I’ve posted on your FB page….DO NOT FEEL GUILTY. Take care of yourself! Relax and enjoy your beautiful girls. We are, as I’m sure Carnival is very proud of you!

    Sending hugs to you and the girls,


  70. Jason Jerome says:

    Ketut wishes you just sat down, especially after realizing he had to clean it up in the dark.

    When you’re in Memphis at St Jude, I’d love to show you where to find the best Barbeque is. If not, I’ll see you next year in Europe! The details of this ordeal give me more confidence in the professionalism and training of Carnival’s crews.

  71. Dixie says:

    Look forward to all your installments on the dead in the water Splendor Cruise. Sometimes things happen but at least they had you and your wonderful humorous attitude. Feel sorry for all that everyone went through and am glad you have taken a break and are home. Need to keep your health in check for sure. Absolutely LOVE the SPAM photo! Best Wishes Dixie

  72. Anne says:


    Why? Why? include inappropiate sexual crudeness in this very serious blog?

    Seems like you did a great job during this incident, too bad its lost in your usual juvenile behavour.


    • Big Ed says:

      If you don’t like John’s great humour look up to the top right and just Click on the RED X and POOF it’s gone. We that have been following John for 3 years love his humour. BUT it’s your dirty mind that reads things into what he writes. John my say rumpy pumpy but your dirty mind changes it to —-ing. So I say to you GO HAVE RUMPY PUMPY WITH YOURSELF.

      BIG Ed

    • Michelle says:

      Anne–why why read and comment if you know the kind of humor John uses? stay away and let the rest of us enjoy his dry acerbic wit and and occasional low bawdy humor. after the week he just worked through, he is allowed pretty much anything–with heidi’s permission of course.

    • Sarah says:

      Get over yourself & learn to laugh You’ll find it’s fun

  73. Bill Heck says:


    Now that you are home and no doubt need some stimulating comments to keep you on your toes, I thought it was time to splain to you why your LMNO satilit phone will not work in Arkansas. You seem to care as you said it would work all over the world except for Arkansas. You happen to be right.

    Its real simple, we don’t want it, we didn’t sign the agreement.

    Who wants that call in the middle of the night that the fuse has blown and the engines won’t start? No one here John! Pull up your under pants and deal with it.

    We refused to sign up because as you know, no news is good news. Also, what would you expect us to do if your fancy pants satilight phone did ring through? We don’t work on eyetalian cars, let alone eyetalian ships.

    So call Finandfeather ,who built the ship, on your fancy cell phone and ask them how to fix it, we read english John, so we couldn’t even read the owners manual, which is maybe why all of your ships officers are eyetalian, they can read it.

    Look at a map John, Arkansas is not on the ocean. We have no deep water port that could dock the Splendor anyway, talk about having to tender in Grand Cayman, here you would have to tender about 1,000 miles up the old Missississipi (spelled correctly) river. We do have cruise ships here though, the Delta Queen used to go all the way across the state to Fort Smith on the Arkansas river. But that was steam and a sternwheeler.

    Have a grand time with your girls. You are what you are John, a very capable CD, probably the best ever, and a very sincere, intelligent person. And you earned your keep last week. Enjoy your time at home.

    Give my best to Heidi and Kye.

    Your Friend

    Bill Heck

  74. John, Our family is scheduled on the Splendor Jan 30, 2011. I have to say I am sad you will not be on board (Or can I talk you into that one before the bloggers cruise). Along with our family, we have 40 others coming along. We have followed with interest this whole story, but I especially have enjoyed each installment of Smoke on the Water (Singing the song too). This will be our FIRST Carnival cruise and no one has cancelled because of this adventure. Keep up the good work. I hope we shall cross paths soon.

  75. Shannan Raucci says:


    I’m glad you got to go home for a bit to relax and see your girls. That was a nice end to today’s entry.

    Thank you again for posting the account of what happened last week. Your “stool sample” comment had me laughing and crying (at the same time) after the stressful description of the Captain’s reaction to the Chief Engineer’s news. I can picture all of this in my mind, and I’m grateful for you posting all of this.

    Hugs to you,


  76. hildegrd says:


    When are you going to answer me about paying the U
    S government back for all they did for a company that pays us no taxes?

    • John says:

      I will respond… John is quite busy at the moment.

      First, type a little more carefully and second please stop SHOUTING!

      Now. One of the primary missions of the US Navy and the US Coast Guard is to render assistance to ships at sea.

      Moreover, all ships at sea are required to render assistance to other vessels in distress. This is a long standing (read: hundreds of years) tradition among all seafarers of all nations in addition to being the right thing to do. Failure to do so is considered to bring misfortune upon yourself.

      Given that many if not most of the passengers were US Citizens, who do pay taxes, what would you be whining about if the fine men and women of these services had NOT responded.

      Warmest regards,

      John (spelled correctly – it means ‘toilet’)

    • Big Ed says:

      I don’t know where you get that “pays us no taxes” That’s just BS. There offices are right here in the USA not offshore like some companies. If you win big in the casino the IRS wil be your newest friend.

      Plus if you read John’s blog you would know how to ask a question to get a reply and how long it takes to get his answer. BUT I sure hope John just sends you to file 13.

      BIG Ed

    • Hogarth Kramer says:

      When the rest of the flipping world does.

    • Steves542 says:

      Hildegard ???? My advice is to go in your kitchen, get a tall tall glass. Pour some alcoholic concoction into the tall glass. Drink said concoction. It will make it easier to get the wooden object out of your rectum.

  77. Laura P. says:

    Thank you for all your honesty and great humor. The crew did an awesome job and all their efforts are appreciated. We hope to hear you on the speaker again during next year’s cruise!

    Enjoy your family and glad that you are doing well 😉


    -The Perez and Lopez Family

  78. John Shallo says:

    Hi John, This account is amazing and your humour is brilliant. Thank you so much for sharing this with the public and Cruise Addicts like myself.

  79. Matt says:

    John and Captain Cupisti:
    I was on the Splendor during the famous voyage last week. I have to write and tell you both that you were AMAZING! I am sorry that some of the media and guests are reporting discouraging stories. I, for one, had a wonderful time. The food was excellent. The communication from the Bridge was outstanding. The Crew went beyond my wildest expectations! Your hospitality was out of this world! Thank you so much for making a difficult situation a lasting memory!
    And…last of all…I hope the next cruise I go on has John as its Cruise Director! You are witty and the best! I hope you get a $100,000 Christmas Bonus!!! You deserve it, as does the Captain. Tell the Beards I said so!
    Gilbert, Arizona

  80. John
    Your retelling of the CCL Splendors’ crisis is outstanding. I cannot wait till the next installment. I said it before and I’ll say it again. You can take your blogs and have one HECK of a BOOK. All this toilet humour just makes me think of your cake from thenlast Bloggers cruise (sorry) I bet when the captain threw that stool. you could have heard a pin drop on the deck.
    Hugs for Heidi & Kye
    Take Care
    The Tuckers
    Arnold & Elizabeth

  81. Bearded Bill from Boulder says:

    “the Captain insisted that he would not eat until the crew had.”

    Would that all leaders were as humble and selfless. CEOs, coaches, professors, pastors, middle managers – anyone who enjoys the privilege of rank would do well to follow this example.

    “To serve, not to be served.”

  82. Liznphil says:

    I can hardly wait for the next part !! I will be sitting on the edge of my “stool” waiting

    Thank you John

  83. Sheila says:

    Congrats on a job well done!!!!! Thought you were going to be on Splendor New Years 2009 with us. I was on Freedom with you to Panama Canal last year. Freedom this summer just was not the same without you. If I had to be stranded on a ship, you are the Cruise Director I would choose to be there with.

    Here’s to you! Cheers!

  84. Jim says:


    You have to turn this into a book! This is just too good of a story to only be read by the few (hundreds/thousands) who follow your blog!!!

    By the way, a small group of us (29 in all) were on the Splendor just 2 weeks before this adventure and had a great time. Some of us took the behinds the scenes tour and got to meet the chef, chief engineer, and captain so your descriptions of them really come to life.


  85. Jaci Harris says:

    You’re hilarious! Lots of love to you and the Carnival Cruise Line!

  86. john the evil crew and big ed are all handling that la writer, don’t give her another thought! she is a misinformed pig. hi to the girls!!!

    smiles, bee

  87. grizel robertson says:

    This is the first time in over a week that I have managed to wade through all of the comments on your Blogs.
    I have thought about purchasing some Carnival PLC shares for a long time as they sit nicely in the FTSE 100 but highly priced at £26 each. A couple of cynics (who have never cruised) suggested to me last week that now was the time to buy as the price would bottom out as a result of the C Splendour incident.
    Well, they certainly didn’t take into account the John Heald Effect & the honest accounts you have posted combined with the speedy customer care approach that Gerry Cahill & other senior company executives took to recompense their guests for the incovenience suffered as a result of a freak accident.
    The bad news is that I can no longer afford to buy Carnival PLC shares. The good news is that I can trust Carnival to ensure my safety & intend to be loyal to the cause as long as I am fit & able & will continue to indulge in my love of the product that has seen the realisation of many of my Dreams.
    Your Blog tonight had me in stitches. I don’t know if it is the Heidi & Kye factor, however, you nearly blew me off my seat with your mention of the “Stool Sample”. Your humour seems to be at it’s best when you are at home in the UK. Your comments reminded me of my Scottish history lessons when I learned about Jenny Geddes throwing a stool at the over elaboratedly dressed clergy in St Giles Cathedral Edinburgh when she tossed a stool at a bishop. (I am sure your mother can fill you in on this) .
    John, we all have breaking points & those of us who are passionate about the care of our customers & staff often fall foul of higher authorities who do not understand our commitment to these causes. I do believe that Gerry Cahill appreciates your input on this occasion & I pray that you will be rewarded accordingly for such a positive input into a situation that may have resulted in a downward trend in Carnival’s performance on the market.
    Thank you for being such a great ambassador for Carnival & thank you for encouraging me indirectly to flag up through my management chain how disjointed the British system of referrals to the Top Officials is flawed by people who consider their Grade entitles them to enforce their authority on all subjects.
    Enjoy your time in Southend with your girls. I am really looking forward to meeting you & your two girls on BC4.
    You are deserving of an MBE for your input to the Cruise Industry. I do not have a claim to match that of yours.
    My only input to the nation is 108 donations of whole blood as an O Rhesus Negative donor. You deserve an award for promoting Carnival as a worldwide product to be enjoyed by people who want to enjoy fun & excitement & fulfillment in their lives.
    Heidi & Kye should be justly proud of your acheivements, you are Carnival’s promotions kingpin.
    My best wishes to Heidi, Kye & you, make the best of a well earned break.
    Your friend, from freezing Scotland, Grizel

  88. Don H says:

    Wonderful blog of a trying time. I’ll be sailing on the Splendor in 139 days on our Platinum cruise and I can’t wait to sail with such a great crew. Too bad you’ll be rotating off but you were our first CD and someday we’ll be on the same crew.
    Best of luck to you and yours.

  89. Ivars says:

    nice job John!
    im reading this with tears in my eyes…
    although the part with ( was funny 😀
    because im Latvian 🙂

    p.s. i’m working as storekeeper at Carnival Cruise lines.


  90. Mary C says:

    Brilliant blog! Can’t wait for the next installment.
    Mary C

  91. Sue Muller says:

    What a story! You, Captain Cupisti, and all the staff and crew are heroes in you own right. Rest up and relax, the ocean will always be there. I can only Imagine, how low your blood sugar was if you were shaking and had a pounding head.( been there done that!) Anyway, just glad that you are home and safe with Heidi and Kye. Love and muchos huggos,
    Suefrm narrowsburg

  92. ZeeMac says:

    Just started tuning in to your blog to read about the Splendor mishap. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I’ve ever cruised with you or with Carnival for that matter.

    The picture of you eating Spam for supper tho is priceless!! HA


  93. Dirk from San Diego says:

    Stool sample — I love it!!

  94. geek says:

    On the bright side you have enough material and stories for the rest of your career, although the cruise line might not like that.

    Great that no one was hurt, especially the crew down deck.

    On the plus side at least you were on a ship. Try being stuck on a plane for 10 hours, with no toilet, food, a/c and stuck with 100 passengers and no one with your sense of humor.

    Glad all is well, when can we expect the book, TV series with Sarah Palin cast in your roll?

  95. Janice Spencer says:

    I’ve been following ‘smoke on the water’ like an addictive novel, Sunday I was suffering withdrawals lol but the Spam picture had me rolling. Thanks for the hands on story…anticipating the next part!

  96. Barbara says:


    I had no idea of the responsibilities the “cruise director” has. I thought all you folks did was introduce people, have fun, and look cute. I don’t think I’ve sailed with you so I can’t confirm the “cute” factor.

    And….no “John” jokes after this blog.

    I am a travel agent and, as I was sitting in my office hearing what the media was portraying…and arguing with co-workers about what was truth and what wasn’t…..thank you for this blog. Not only have you set me straight about the huge responsibility you have but the rest of the crew as well. When I heard it was a Carnival Cruise ship, I knew they were in good hands. We love Carnival and once again you have proven the crew goes above and beyond in any situation.

    Looking forward to my next cruise in June!


  97. Mike J. says:

    Here is a good description by a professional sports team coach who makes the best of the situation.

  98. Gina W says:


    Enjoy your well deserved time with Heidi and Kye. And thanks so much for your humour (spelled correctly) and candor in your blog thingy. Cheers to you mate.


  99. Beth Selinger says:

    Ships can be repaired, empty stomachs can be filled, jangled nerves will calm and be replaced by interesting stories, but nothing, absolutely nothing could replace lives. John, what you the Captain and the entire crew of the Splendor did was nothing short of miraculous and from an 8 time cruiser of Carnival ships, I am so very grateful that Carnival has such amazing people working for them.
    Thank you and God Bless.
    Please take care of yourself.
    Beth S.

  100. Bill Laidley says:

    I was on a cruise you were CD on. I think you are great but a word of advise to Carnival. If they ever want to sell out a cruise at record speed tell the public you will be on that cruise. I commend you on your part and how you took all in stride with this incident. I hope to travel with Carival again soon Bill

  101. Wayne says:

    From a retired US Navy sailor. You are one Great Individual. and Carnival is very lucky to have you.

    Your leadership prooves your importance to Carnival, and I’m sure they appreciate your devotion to your career.

    And Kudos to Carnival.
    Enjoy your well deserved rest at home.

  102. Mike M. says:

    I think you may have been the CD on a cruise my family went on back in the early 90’s on the Sensation. If it was you, then you will remember the Bedtime Story with Mary (who almost killed you) and “I’m going to kill you with venom.” the funniest thing to this day I have ever seen. Your sense of humor has not been lost. Extremely riveting reading.

  103. Jill Fritz says:

    John… happy to hear you are in the UK with your family as that’s where you should be after all of that!! You did a fantastic job as did the whole Splendor crew. I really enjoy reading your blog and understanding all that everyone went through. Thanks for posting! Take care!

  104. SANDRA says:

    It is a shame that as a socal host I never got to work with such a hilarious and great man like you!!!!
    You made me laugh if I could go back to ships I would do it only if I could work with U (and my husband who is on the Elation GSM and my baby) not easy!!

    Enjoy your family and I hope to meet you some day, my man is still on board so there is still a chance…

  105. SANDRA says:

    on the previous comment the mail was wrong ihihihihi!!
    All the best
    Sandra G.

    • SANDRA says:

      i didnt see the previous comment I made and I think you should know that iif it was’t cause i gt married I would looove to work again as a social host with uuuuuuuu!! your spirit pushes you to be humorous and hope fr the best congratulations for all the great work and profesionalism and I am sure you have fun with everything you do even when things feel stressy once is solved a smile on your face most express I made it and was always with some type of good humor and good attitude. Wohooooooooooooo!! J H !!!!!
      i was in a hotel during a huracan and i was the only one with your kind of attitud and it is exausting when all points towards to shouting and screaming your lungs out and in stead
      i hope to meet you some point my hubby is still crew on the elation GSM and there is still a chance to see u!
      Enjoy your Family!!
      I can’t wait till tomorrow for the last part !!!

      All the Mexican love


  106. Optiron says:

    Glad your home for some R&R. I guess Mr.
    Cahill will be contacting an Aston Martin
    Dealer. Seems fair compensation for the
    positive press you created for Carnival-
    Good Luck with that!!

  107. Tracy Gorman says:

    John –
    I love this stuff. Thank you for taking the time to take each of us to the Splendor the way that you’re doing. This means so much to each of us. Hope you’re enjoying your family. God bless!

  108. leslee miller says:

    Dearest John,
    First off, I must say Thank You!
    I was on the ship & as I have said to everyone that has asked…”if the crew was that amazing in such an unfortunate situation, I cannot wait to get back on a ship that works!”
    Thank you for being our voice of calm & your humor was greatly appreciated…please extend my gratitude to the crew as all of their hard work was nothing less than Amazing!
    ….boxers or briefs? Id like to send an “emergency bridge package”…just in case (;

  109. NYSchauer says:


    Don’t worry about that LAZTimes reporter and what she said. You are writing your account of the unfortunate incident being yourself. We love you as you are and love your blog just as you write it. You probably have more readers than she does anyway.

    Hugs to Heidi & Kye. I know they are happy you are home.


  110. Alex G. says:

    LOL, I love SPAM! (The food not the junk mail) Loved the stool sample joke! Well, at least you can spend some time with your girls! To be able to throw in some humor despite the circumstances is remarkable! Looking forward to part 6. Have a good night! Say hi to Heidi and Kye for me!

  111. Stephen H Worden says:

    I spent some years in the Submarine Service. Losing some of our systems, regardless of whether system critical or creature comforts, caused much stress, and on occasion I had to stay awake during there repair for three days, under water, no windows, no light of day, no fresh air. Fatigue tends to go from tired to stressed to a point of frustration, and then, while still maintaining a serious approach to getting things fixed, every thing becomes humorous. And some of the things that cause uncontrollable spontaneous laughter, when told later to other, result in the phrase – “Well you would have had to been there!” Humor is God’s Given Stress Formula. You would have been a asset to my crew!

    Footnote: Remembering the Election coverage when Dan Rather over killed with odd euphemisms I wonder if perhaps you are related to him. Probably not – your much better at it!

  112. Marie Wolff says:

    I am so glad you are home with the girls. There is nothing you can do for the Splendor, and, your health is more important. Your girls need you, so does Carnival, and so do we your blogger friends.
    Again, I want to congratulate you and Captain Cupisti, and, the great crew of the Splendor. You have done Carnival proud and have gained many friends and future passengers.
    Marie and Bob Wolff

  113. Luggy says:

    Thanks for the blow by blow action. I’m going to be on the splender dec. 5 if it’s ready why can’t carnival tell the truth. Like you did?

  114. Robert says:

    Hi John,

    I doubt most of the Carnival Splendors guests realize just how lucky they are to have had you aboard at the time of this unfortunate accident at sea. I’ve sailed twice on the Splendor, as recently as August 29 of this year, and you were on board at that time. You have a fun, charming personality and always made the passengers relaxed and happy. Never missed your morning show for a good chuckle. We were unable to visit Cabo San Lucas on the last trip due to the swells and the unsafe conditions when using the tenders. Was that disappointing? Yes. Did we make the best of the situation? Yes. We’re you there, on the spot with the latest information and a witty comment? YES! And I know you must have be more than up to the task during this stressful situation.

    I’m looking forward to my next sailing aboard the Splendor (my 6th with Carnival Cruises) and I hope you are on board once again.

    Cheers John


  115. Stacy Baxter says:

    Class act…love the humor!

  116. Chuck says:

    John, I have to hand it to you and thee entire crew. You are a man of many “GREAT WORDS” While I was reading all parts of your dedicated service and the crew members service,I could accually play it like a movie in my head while I was reading.If there was a metal to be given to Men & Women who were involved in this smoke on the water, This would be the time to do it! And as for you Mr.John Heald. You deserve without a dought 100,000,000, aplauses,as so does the crew and captain.By the way,I forgot to mention in my last reply,Thank You so much for reserving the aft of the dinning room. Right by the window for my wife and I.We were on the Liberty on Sept.25th – Oct.2nd. For our 12th year wedding anniversery of this year.Many Thanks! See You In Feb. ON GOOD OLE GLORY!! Respectfully, Charles Sanner

  117. Myra Bushnell says:

    So glad you’re home safe and sound with your girls! What an ordeal you’ve been through. And poor Captain Cupisti. And the engineer. How awful for them to have their “girl” so disabled. Anyway, you all did an amazing job and any media creeps who dis Carnival should be forced to cruise on a garbage barge to nowhere.

    Any word yet on how extensive the damage was to the Splendor? Sure hope it’s minor and she’ll be plowing the seas again soon.

    I imagine Heidi and Kye were extremely glad to see you, and somehow…I can’t quite believe that plate of Spam was Heidi’s idea.

    Take care of yourself and be sure the diabetes is under control before you head out again.

    Your pal, Myra

  118. Barry says:

    Since “Smoke On the Water” has been a huge success do you anticipate a sequel?

  119. Hill6 says:


    What an experience you all went through. Looks like you had your own Spamalot.

  120. Glenn Hughes says:

    Oh Dear John – what a remarkable job you are doing in recounting the events of this historical event.This doucmentation will serve as a point of reference for every cruise ship company. I cannot wait for your next blog – your humor – and factual events and ‘real life’ encounters helps us all to learn to remain calm when faced with such situations. It is people like you that has made the DOZEN carnival cruises I have been on exceed my expectaions! Keep writing my friend!

  121. Bob Elliott says:

    I hope Carnival fully recognizes what you have done, John.

    Through your superb handling of a disaster and now displaying exactly what happened in an excellent fashion, you have managed to turn a huge “black eye” into a real plus for the Carnival Cruise Line.

    Anyone who has kept up with John and his blog has to be deeply impressed with Carnival.

    Carnival compensate him accordingly!!

  122. Sarah says:

    Thanks again John for making me laugh out loud
    I know if I had been on that cruise your wit would have made me laugh despite the inconveniences
    BTW Spam & Stool Samples will always remind me of you

  123. David Allen says:

    Dear John,

  124. Barbara Emmanouilidis says:

    John, I have been riveted to your series of Smoke on the water. I cried and laughed and thought, what would these passengers have done if John Heald wasn’t the cruise director on their cruise. I will admit I was very worried when you took the metformin without taking it with food (you are NOT supposed to do that, I take it as well)…I also was worried that not eating could have put you in a coma, not safe, you should always carry glucose tabs in your pocket. My other thought was thank goodness Heidi and Kye had left the ship a couple of weeks earlier. I definitely think they should make a movie out of this whole incident, and you should star as yourself. God Bless you for doing what you do, and hats off to the captain for doing an outstanding job as well as the entire crew. I think Carnival did a fantastic job and praise the entire Carnival family for their great care of the passengers.

    p.s. the spam joke and the stool sample had me falling on the floor laughing. Thanks for being you.

  125. David Allen says:

    Dear John,
    Please don’t worry about the beautiful Carnival Splendor…..those of us here in San Diego will take great pride in returning her to you soon. Of course you may have only 5/6 engines, but we’ll make it work. You deserve a few weeks home with the girls, and as a group we might be disappointed 9 months from now if you don’t have a new family member. Thanks for the honest truth about the ship’s mishap last week, and continue to be positive.

  126. Michelle says:

    as i said in a reply to a post by anne…witty and ascerbic absolutely describe your sense of humor. i’m sure you drew on every ounce of professionalism and humor last week to make sure you delivered all information and updates to your guests and crew. thank you so much for your honest and pithy accounting of the ultimate “cruise to nowhere”. relax with heidi and kye. your ship is in good hands. when you’re both ready to return to the sea all will be well again.

  127. Ann says:

    What was the reason for going to San Diego instead of Ensenada to disembark passengers sooner? Was it because all passengers did not possess passports?

  128. john and patty says:

    Job well done keeping everyone informed!
    You deserve the time to recharge, reflect and re-energize with the two most important people in your life. Thanks for all you do for all Carnival Cruise line guest!
    John & Patty

  129. Maria says:

    You brought tears to my eyes… You were wonderful on the ship.. You kept our spirits high…

    Enjoy your time with your family.. Do you still feel like you are swaying?? I do!

  130. LYNDA says:

    Dear John, Thanks so much for the truth and nothing but the truth.. You made me laugh on the Cruise and you make me laugh now.
    Have a great week ahead!

  131. Lisa McBride says:

    I was on the Splendor and very much appreciated the way you worked tirelessly to help us feel calm and safe. Thank you so much for your blog. It was very interesting to get a small glimpse of what was going on behind the scenes. I feel that the untold story of the Splendor is how admirably the crew worked and behaved in the face of such a crisis. I wish I could thank each one of them personally. Enjoy your holiday, you deserve it!

  132. chris says:

    you are amazing! love to the girls and ask Heidi to give you a back rub. it does wonders for stress! hugs!

  133. Carla Ratton says:

    I loved your humor; it made the bad news more pallitable. Good choice. I am glad you were able to lift the Captain’s spirits in such a dark time for him. You are all my heroes!!

  134. Karol Traviss says:

    For once we don’t mind being Spammed.

  135. Kathy Smith says:


    We disembarked the Carnival Splendor just 18 hours before this horendous experience. I have to say that after spending a week with you and the rest of the crew the week before, I know that the guests were well taken care of. You were by far the best cruise director I have ever cruised with and can only imagine the burden put upon the captain and the rest of the crew. I am so glad that everyone was brought back home safely and shame on anyone for saying one bad word about how this crew handled the situation. You guys are awesome.

  136. Sarah says:

    Your story is so detailed ! makes me feel like i was right next to you! Maybe ill see you on my next cruise ship ! Loved your humor & the picture of you and your spam can!

    Take Care!

  137. Leslie says:

    John: My husband and I had the pleasure of sailing with you on the Splendor when it was cruising the Baltic with the memorable experience of seeing the dancing tugboats when we docked at the port that serves Berlin. From reading your detailed accounts of the Splendor’s experience last week I have to say that the passengers were very fortunate to have had you as their CD and your providing them continuous and most important… honest and detailed updates. Your calm manner and humour (spelled correctly) represents what a wonderful CD and excellent asset you are to Carnival Cruise Lines. I loved your reference to the medication we diabetics take as Metmorphin (spelled incorrectly)…(my humour). Its real name is Metformin. I thought the picture of you eating Spam was priceless. I’ve never had the desire to ever try eating Spam although I did enjoy the play Spamalot. I’m a big Monty Python fan. Enjoy your time at home with your girls as you deserve the much needed time with your family and getting good food and plenty of rest. The Splendor’s captain deserves being thanked for the terrific job he did during the cruise. Also all of the Splendor’s crew and the excellent jobs they did deserve a big thank you as well. I applaud Carnival’s way in which they handled the situation and how all the passengers were taken care of and Carnival’s not being concerned with the loss of revenue. I don’t know how many other cruise lines would have treated the passengers to what was in their cabin mini bars, covered their casino losses and provided the passengers with “open bars” throughout the ship. I’ve always had a very high opinion of Carnival but this past week’s handling of the crisis raised my opinion of the company even higher. All of Carnival deserves a standing ovation. Looking forward to the time when we can sail with you again. Lots of hugs and tons of Spam….Leslie

  138. Sarah says:

    John, I have been on so many cruises on different lines and you are the only fun cruise director ever. I booked carnival splendor for the 28th of november. If the ship sails will you be the director??? In 2000 the carnival truimph i cruised on you were the director and my husband and I will never forget the wonderful experience on that ship. Thanks for making our 2000 cruise a cruise to remember. I have been on so many other cruises after that and we wont forget the one you directed. Please let me know if you will be the director??

  139. Vila Restal says:

    And here’s a picture for everyone. (I comes from Pundit Kitchen a site where people paste funny captions to pictures in the News.) I looked at this picture and thought “This must be the rations being shipped out to the Splendor” 🙂

  140. Sarah says:

    Hi John, will you still be the director on the nov. 28th sailing?? please let me know. thanks

  141. mary says:

    wow nice job John! our next cruise is on the new magic in may. I hope you are our CD. I’m very impressed with how Carnival handled this terrible situation. My hats off to you and the entire crew!

  142. Richard Mathias says:

    I very much enjoyed your blog,, but I am wondering if we will be able to follow the ships repair and what of the crew what do they do, cleaning the ship I’m sure. I never sailed with you but Ive been on several carnival ships..Thank you for your honest report Rich

  143. Kim says:

    Thanks so much for making us laugh in the midst of a disappointing situation on the Splendor, your humor reminded us to keep a positive attitude during our 3 days at sea. Hope you get some rest at home, you did a great job keeping us all informed and remaining calm. We are looking forward to our next cruise which we have already booked on the Spirit for Christmas week. Carnival did a great job handling this situation. We looked at the whole thing as an adventure…one we will never forget. After all, how many people can say they were rescued at sea?

  144. Lanie (TexasCruzrs) says:

    Hi John…..I’m one of Mach’s Crazies and I was just wondering if there is any way that you could pop over to the Ecstasy for her Feb. 5, 2011 sailing? The Crazies have a very large group going that week and we would love to have you join us!

  145. Steves542 says:

    Thanks John for your tales but I got that stupid Deep Purple song stuck in my head now

  146. Sue Knoll says:

    Hi John,

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for sometime now. You always seem to make me laugh & smile.

    My husband & I had the pleasure of sailing with you a few years ago and I can’t even remember which Carnival ship. It looks like my group of 22 will be the first to sail on the Splendor Jan 16, 2011. I’m looking forward to it even more now than before! I’m up for a good adventure.

    I know your on Holiday.. but couldn’t you come back for just this one sailing on Jan 16th???

    Please??? Please???

    Thanks again for all your blogging.. it’s most enjoyable!

    Take care,

  147. Bruce & Debbie Warnock says:


    We were on Splendor for its first cruise from Dover, England in July 2008 to the Baltic states. Of all the many Carnival cruises we have taken, this was one of the best. While we were not on this cruise, our compassion goes out to the crew and passengers who endured this misfortune.

    We will be back with Carnival for sure, and hope to see you on Magic, June 3, 2011.

    God speed and thanks for your outstanding service to the cruise industry and Carnival in particular.

  148. LonnyS says:

    As a passenger on this adventure I can’t thank you enough for the way the Captain, officers, crew and you handle this whole event. We loved all the comic relief you provided in your announcements. It absolutely helped reduce the stress and anxiety many passengers were feeling…GREAT JOB Sir!
    IDEA… Lets suggest a Splendor reunion cruise. All the “grumpy grumps” and complainers probably won’t come, but all of us that made the most of it and had good attitudes about it will, therefore making the reunion cruise a real blast….er no pun intended. Thoughts?

  149. Lidia says:

    Hi John

    Just wanted to let you know that you made the New York Daily News.. They wrote in the article what you said in your blog the day you arrived about Splendor.

    You and the crew were complimented on you good work done during the difficult time which was stated in the Daily News article and on ABC new york news. On ABC news a passengers who was on the Splendor praised that even though it was difficult at times she did have a good time and that the crew all tried to do there best..

    Again well done to all of you.. By all the comments have read and hear you all did a great job during that difficult time. I know you all made the best of it

    I am glad you explained that the captain and engineers spoke in English.. I was wondering how you understood them since they speak to each other in Italian.. I am italian and always enjoy going on the Carnival because I am able to speak to the captain and some crew in Italian.. It makes me feel like I am back in my home town..

    I hope you are getting plenty of rest while the Splendor is being fixed… Hopefully you can start your vacation now instead of December 1 when you were suppose leave the Splendor.

    Take care of yourself. I am enjoying reading your blog.. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving…


  150. Barbara Bassett says:

    I can only say how lucky the passengers on the Splendor were to have you as their cruise director. We cruised on the Carnival Valor in February 09 with you as the cruise director. We will never forget you. We have been spoiled by you and no other cruise director in our future will be able to fully satisfy us as you did. We hope to see you again sometime on a future cruise.

  151. Lidia says:

    Hi John

    Glad to hear you are back home and resting.. You need it after reading your blog.. Get pleanty of rest…

    Being withou lights and no power on the ship was a terrible ordeal for you all. I am so glad you all made it through it safe

    I remember in 2003 I was on the Carnival Pride Cruise to Nowhere and the power went out on the ship.. It was pitch black on the ship.. This was my first time on a cruise ship.
    I remember my brother and I where in the casino and all I heard from my brother when the powere went out was “My money” from my brother.. He was winning. . My thought was on my godson who I left in Camp Carnival. I think the power was out in the entire ship for about 5 to 10 minutes before the generator lights went on.

    All I can remember was running in the dark ship from the casino to Camp Carnival in the dark to find my godson who was probably afraid.

    Thank God that the engineer was able to get the power back on in the ship and the ship started moving again. Can’t remember what the captain said why the power went out on the ship.

    My ordeal was only lasted maybe 20 minutes in total before the power came back fully and the engine resumed, but I can fully understand how scared everyone was not knowing what would happen.

    I know that I was a bit scared since it was my first cruise ever and worring about my godson who was small and probably afraid..

    Oh my brother was happy that when the lights came back the slot machine resume like nothing happened and he saw his money that he one which he cashed out right away.

    Just heard on the radio as I was typing the blog that the Carnival Splendor won’t be back running until January…

    Well again take care of yourself.. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

    Well done again for everything you and the crew has done.


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  153. Brenda & Pete says:


    I never went on your blog, sorry I never did but we are Carnival big cruises…and have been on 3 cruises with you as the cruise director. We were actually on your last cruise that you were on before you married Heide…We were so happy you returned to Carnival..and we were on the Liberty with you in Europe..

    I had more people call me about the problems that were happening on the Splendor. Some of our friends know we travel with Carnival a far 15 Carnival Cruises and 10 others…we love Carnival the best…and I always say, if you can book a cruise with John Heald as your cruise director, you will have a fantastic time NO MATTER WHAT! The first thing I heard was that you were on the Splendor..and I said, if the passengers could only know how lucky they were to have you on board…No second guesses…you are the best…you could make a person laugh thru thick or thin.
    I had no doubt that the catain wouldn’t have his ship back to the US safely…It’s his ship and no matter what.. he will bring it home safe.

    Yes, the cruise wasn’t the usual “fun time,” but with you on board…you certainly kept the passengers calm..which was very important…the word “fire,” could have caused so many other problems…So, no hot food…not a big deal…no showers…could be worse, yes, the toilet flushing was certainly the problem, but…then again…not much you could do about it…Everybody was safe….most important…and the crew from what I have read…did a wonderful job….they…had to contineue to work thru all of this and keep calm and pleasant…One terriific unforgetable job..

    Carnivl shoud be very proud of the great job they did…safety was the “final destination.”

    We just were on 2 Carnival cruies with in the past 2 months…Nobody does like Carnival…
    Hope we can be able to book a cruise on the Magic…and that you are “on board.
    Take care of yourself…and rest… deserve it!


  154. Rick says:

    Had the pleasure of sailing with you on the Splendor on Oct 17-24. You made everyone feel so happy. I am so sorry that the cruisers missed out on such a great cruise. It was our second trip on the Spendor and we will be back again. I commend you for keeping everyone informed during such a terrible situation. I feel bad for the cruisers but even worse for all the wonderful employees of the Carnival Spendor. I hope they will not be unpaid for the duration of the repairs. Every member of the crew was outstanding. One last request, the slot machine next to the bar (THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD) needs to be made a lil looser while in wet/dry dock, that sucker took my wallet and next of kin lol.

  155. Bahama Papa says:

    I want to add my praise to what you have written here in the last few days. As I have sailed with Carnival several times, but never had the pleasure of sailing with you, I want to thank you for your dedication, leadership, and humor in a daunting situation. I like to think that could have happened on any ship in the Carnival fleet and would have been handled just as expertly. Not to say that you aren’t the greatest, but a shining example of all that Carnival represents. Great job. Feel very proud of yourself and the people you work for.

  156. Juanita Sehorne says:

    Thank you John for the wonderful update..I can not think there is anyone better than you at your job …
    I love rhe one about the stool sample.
    the staff have always been the best…
    When the chips are down This is when you find which is the best.
    enjoyed you on the October 2008 cruise in Rome…

  157. Thank you for your blog.

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  159. Tom says:

    John, When the news broke of the SPLENDORS situation,people were frantic and quickly making judgment calls. As I’m sure you have read. Mostly from “OTHER” company guests. As if, this couldn’t of happened on any ship.
    The SPLENDOR is a machine! MACHINES MALFUNCTION….it’s unavoidable. End of story!
    You, the Captain of the Splendor and the Crew, handled this situation as I would of expected you to, In true CARNIVAL form.
    And that is why I will never cruise on any ship but a CARNIVAL ship. KUDOS, to you and the captain, my friend…you did a fantastic job keeping things under control….rest well.

  160. Charlotte C says:


    A friend, who is a retired Admiral, sent me this report he found on why the USS Ronald Reagan was in our area.

    USS Ronald Reagan completes COMPTUEX

    By Source: U.S. Navy
    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 completed a successful Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) in the Pacific Ocean Nov. 14, following three weeks of drills and exercises in preparation for an upcoming deployment.
    COMPTUEX is the intermediate phase of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG) Inter-Deployment Training Cycle (IDTC), designed to hone warfare skills with the rest of the strike group while maintaining unit proficiency.
    “It’s the final exercise to prepare a ship to be ready for deployment,” said Capt. Thom Burke, USS Ronald Reagan commanding officer. “We’re working with the full strike group conducting combat exercises across battle spaces in the air, surface and sub-surface.”
    COMPTUEX is designed to bring every intricate part of a strike group together to effectively and efficiently work as one cohesive unit. ”

    As with the weather, the calm sea, and lack of intestinal problems, this was just one more fortunate thing that gave us a tale of adventure, instead of a horrific one.


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  162. Neona F. Daugherty says:

    Dear John,

    Having been on several cruises with you as Cruise Director, I can think of no better person to have been on the Splendor during their crisis.

    Allen and I have sailed on the Splendor twice, once in Europe and once from Florida. It is a beautiful ship.

    Look forward to being on another cruise with you at some time in the future.

    You are the greatest CD.


  163. Karla Quiroga says:

    I knew on the cruise that there had to be something REALLY wrong. But having worked in hospitals and answering 911’s, I understood the need to keep everyone calm. Those of us who had been in the Navy in my group knew that it was going to be a long way home when you said tug boats.
    You and the entire crew did an amazing job and EVERYONE that I talked to during our adventure felt the same way. And we all LOVED your humor!!!! Tell that reporter to….. well, you know .
    And BTW, your wife should meet my mother! They have the same sense of humor! That is EXACTLY what my mother tried to do to my sister and I when we got off the boat. Fortunately, my cousin took pity on us and NIXed the idea.
    Take Care and I really hope that I run into you on another cruise.

  164. mary says:

    where can I find parts 2,3 &4? Thanks! 🙂

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