Smoke On the Water – The Final Chapter

November 16, 2010 -

John Heald

I sat on the floor of the bridge at 9:30 pm bathed in the glowing emergency red lights that illuminated me like some fat and extremely ugly Amsterdam hooker. My head was pounding and my legs ached. I felt absolutely shattered and I couldn’t help but remember something I had read recently that said that stress has overtaken the common cold as the main reason for taking time off work. I was certainly stressed for obvious reasons and because I hadn’t spoken to Heidi all day and I knew right now she would be very worried indeed.

I am lucky enough to be able to be able to call home every day, sometimes twice a day and because I hadn’t and because it was already 2:30 am back home…..Heidi would be panicking. There was no way for me or any of the guests to contact the outside world and the one emergency phone was constantly open to the command centre. My only hope was that Heidi would have called the office and someone would have told her what was happening and that I was OK.

I was waiting to make my last announcement of the night and I suddenly remember feeling angry. I never get angry, really I don’t. Yet as I sat there nursing the cramp in my legs I distinctly remember feeling so mad. Mad at myself for getting diabetes and mad at myself for the things I should have said on the PA system and for the things I had said but probably shouldn’t have.

But I had to calm down and quickly as I had a big announcement to make and as I sit here in my underpants I remember thinking of people who had handled real stress and to put that into the perspective of what I was doing now. The Chilean miners for example or my grandfather who I never met who went marching off to war armed with a hipflask and a prayer and died somewhere in France. These days being stuck in a traffic jam seems to be an excuse to reach for the Prozac.

But as I sat there on the hard deck I realised what was not helping relive my stress was the fact that I had nobody to confide in, nobody to talk to. I depend on Heidi for this either in person or via the phone but now…..I had nobody…….I could only imagine how the captain felt. Successful people have a history of being able to cope. It’s important in life that you have people in your life that you can confide in when you need them most and as 10 pm came ever closer I had to force myself to not allow stress to become distress.

So, I tried to think of calming thoughts. Kye’s smile……..Megan’s bottom…..the fact that I’m not French …….and then it was time to tell the guests the news and not much of it was good. Here is what I said minus the jokes because I honestly can’t remember what silly stuff I said. I know I tried to intersperse the serious with the ridiculous but for now…….here is what the major points of the announcement were all about.







Now, just before I continue to tell you about the announcement I need to explain something. At this point (Monday night) no conversation had been had with the beards in Miami about what compensation we would be giving the guests as there were far more important factors to consider. Yet we had 150 plus guests who had gone to the guest services desk whose main focus seemed to be what compensation they were going to receive. And of course I was sure this was a major topic of conversation around the ship as well.

So what I was about to say next was one of the things that had been silently building my stress levels up and my sugar levels, as well. But I had made a decision to go ahead with this and based it on the fact that I had the utmost faith that Gerry Cahill our president and CEO and his team would do the right thing and that by me saying so would help calm the guests somewhat as well. And so the announcement continued.








And that was that and I literally slumped back to the floor and started nibbling on a sandwich. I had no idea how the guests had taken that announcement. Was I helping them or was I just getting on their nerves? I had no sodding idea and I hated that. And although I had faith in my bosses back in Miami……had I been presumptuous in saying suggesting Carnival would take care of them?

During the night, while the passengers slept as did most of the crew (more on that later) the engineering team continued to work hard and the bridge remained a flurry of activity as they prepared for the arrival of the tug. Me…….well I just sat there and closed my eyes but as tired as I was, sleep avoided me like girls avoided me throughout most of my life.

It was then at 1:30 am that I had to do what I had been trying to hold off since about 2 pm the previous afternoon. And so I walked off the bridge back to my cabin. There is a bathroom on the bridge which considering 20 plus men had been peeing in it for the last 15 hours without being able to flush….. Smelled really bad. In fact there was a sublime moment as I stood and peed that I will never forget. I had my thingy in one hand, a flashlight in the other and the smell was overbearing. The stench was truly dreadful and trying not to think about it I started to sing ……. and sing really really loud.

I love Paris in the spring time
I love Paris in the fall
I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles
I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles

I love Paris every moment
Every moment of the year
I love Paris, why oh why do I love Paris
Because my love is here

And when I came out of the bathroom………..all the officers and sailors applauded.

But now I needed to do poo and on my to way deck 5, goodness me did I get a shock. First off all the realisation of just how dark the ship was extraordinary and then I saw something else which I had not been prepared for. The main theater which on the Carnival Splendor is called the Spectacular Lounge was full of crew sleeping. There must have been 200 in there with pillows and blankets. Others were sitting in groups talking softly while others were playing dominoes.

You see, while most of the guest cabins had balconies or were larger and were in areas above the water line; many of the crew had cabins below the water line and having felt how hot my deck 5 cabin was I could only imagine how warm the ones on decks A and B were. I also think that the crew had made this area a meeting point for themselves as well. It had become a place to talk about their feelings………….. and maybe their fears.

There were a few guests who slept on deck 9 with their duvets, etc. I took a quick walk up there and saw maybe a hundred or so. I am sure most of these were from the aft section of the ship where there was still a definite aroma of smoke. It was quite chilly though and I had the sudden inspiration to close the retractable roof and was on my way back to the bridge to ask them to do so when I realised we had no power so how the sodding hell were we supposed to close it then John you bloody idiot.

I returned to the bridge where I took my position by the command centre phone and waited for daybreak and the sight of the two tugs that would tow us to the promise land of hot food, hot water, coffee and toilets that didn’t have breakfast, lunch and dinner floating in them.

At 4:15 am I gave in. My eyes had bags big enough for Rosanne Barr to use them as hammocks and I knew that if I were to function properly the next day I would have to go to sleep.

I told the captain I would be back in an hour and that I would have the walkie talkie with me. The cabin was probably 80 degrees but I didn’t care. I flung myself on the bed and the moment I did I was gone…………… was bliss.

Luckily I had realised I might be in a heavy slumber and worried that I might become Rip Van Heald I had turned the walkie talkie volume to the top and placed it next to my ear. It was a good thing because at 6:20am I was woken by an Italian talking in my ear………….something many women dream about of course.






I walked slowly up the stairs from deck 5 to deck 8 and while doing so I felt that this had to be good news. Maybe the chief engineer had managed to re start the engines and we would be back in Long Beach in time for lunch at Hooters. But my hopes of chicken wings and breasts were dashed as soon as I saw the captain’s face. Someone had definitely taken the jam out of his doughnut I thought. And I was right……….someone had.





This was going to be a body blow to the guests who had like me thought “OK, one more day and we can get through this.” But that one more day was now 2 more days.

I looked out to sea. The weather couldn’t make its mind up what it wanted to do. It wasn’t raining but it looked like it really wanted to. I looked at the captain. He didn’t say anything and I had nothing to say either. We both knew what each other was thinking, words therefore were unnecessary.

A few minutes later I was back in the cabin and decided to take a shower. Now I am not one for personal grooming and I have documented here on my blog thingy many times that if you were to open my bathroom cabinet you would find soap on a rope and hemorrhoid cream. But I do love hot showers. They are a wonderful place to escape the phone the guests and the raspberry. It’s just me and my Head and Shoulders.

But of course we had no hot water and if I hadn’t smelled like an elephant’s scrotum I probably wouldn’t have had one. But I did and here I am to tell you that as I washed myself with freezing cold water I tried to take my mind of what had happened and what was going to happen so I thought of Kye and Heidi who were at home and who were no doubt concerned. I hadn’t been able to call them and suddenly under those jets of icy water I felt another stream of water running down my cheeks.





By the way……….just an FYI……..five guests dropped underpants off at the guest services desk …………..and one …………….and yes I swear this is true…………..was a ladies pair. Who knew they made G Strings that big?

And so now we come to the part of the story where I am going to change tact. I realise this is one heck of a long thingy but there is so much more to cover. Over the next two days lots of things happened so rather than flip flop between them I am going to address the subjects that I feel need to be heard about what happened onboard. I have seen and read the breaking news as Channel 7 presents “Ship of death and take us live to San Diego as passengers get off ‘the cruise from hell’” before cutting to a story about a jet skiing dog.

There has been some truth and loads of bollocks written and rumoured and so I want to take you through what life was like onboard and what did and didn’t happen. They are in no particular order and I have included any mistakes I feel I have made and how God forbid if we ever had to go through this again…………how we could improve.

So, you may want to put the kettle on and make a cuppa tea first because ……… we go.

1. Tugs
Well let’s start with one of the heroes and when I first heard the name of the tug that was allegedly coming to our rescue I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or vomit. That’s because as has been well documented………….the name of the tug was the Chihuahua…..named after the smallest dog………in the world. After all we had been through they sent the Chihuahua. Hearing this news was like hearing Mel Gibson is coming to your son’s bar mitzvah. How the heck was she going to pull the Carnival Splendor, 3,299 guests and 1,200 crew? Maybe when she arrived she would look more like a Rottweiler than…..and with apologies to Chihuahua owners ….. a rat.

10 pm arrived and the decks were packed with people wanting to see the massive titan of a vessel that was going to tow us to San Diego. Well, when she arrived I am sure 3,299 guests, 1,198 crew, one Italian captain and one fat British cruise director all probably said in unison…..”Oh ….. my….God.” And as my ex-girlfriend Sarah once said “It’s tiny, how is that going to get the job done?”

As she sat under the bow she dwarfed by the ship. I gave her as much hope of pulling the 113,000-ton Carnival Splendor as a stray Chihuahua dog has of survival after falling asleep outside a Korean restaurant. But I was wrong. After a lengthy hook up procedure the little Chihuahua started to pull and once she got pulled us as easily as pulling a greased stick out of a pig’s bottom. She was simply brilliant and without her and her captain and crew we would…. well who knows. So just in case her captain and crew are reading this let me say a huge “grasyarse” (spelt correctly) because your little Chihuahua became a pack of sleigh dogs and pulled us all the way home. On Wednesday morning we were joined by another tug. I have no idea what she was called because I told the guests her name was the “Shitzu”……and our thanks to her captain and crew, as well.

2. United States Coast Guard
What a fantastic sight it was on Tuesday morning when a 150-foot USCG cutter appeared on our portside. I think I speak for everyone when I say that seeing them gave everyone a lift in spirits. They were there to look after us and to chaperon us all the way to San Diego. While most of us think of the ocean as a place to relax on or eat out of or swim in, thousands of men and women from the United States Coast Guard will board their boats and helicopters, knowing that they may face huge waves, blizzards, gales and sub-zero temperatures. Lives will be saved. When they have finished, they will go home and wait until the next call-out. Remarkably, these men and women will not be expecting public recognition for their bravery. But then, as one of the young lieutenants I met on the Carnival Splendor told me……..”We are not in it for the glory.”

We often talk about the armed services but as often as we do we fail to remember the USCG. Well that didn’t happen last week because as the small boat carrying a dozen U.S. Coast Guard personnel arrived on the port aft of the ship…….a huge cheer (instigated a bit by me) went up for them as they boarded. They were there to advise and to help and their presence and that of the their ship which stayed by our side gave all the guests a wonderful secure feeling. When we arrived back in San Diego I made a few announcements over the PA system thanking many different groups of people……one of the loudest cheers was for them. And as I sit here writing this …………..I am giving them another huge cheer now.

3. United States Navy
If seeing the United States Coast Guard cutter was an awesome sight then having the USS Ronald Regan aircraft carrier 200 meters off the port bow was a sight of biblical proportions. We had been told that a ship from the US Navy was on its way to help us with some supplies and to make sure everything was OK but nothing prepared us for the awesome sight of the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered super carrier. Their crew seemed as interested in us as we all were with them as they lined the decks taking photos of the stricken cruise ship as we in turn took photos of the ship and her crew that has seen much more serious action than their current mission. In the next few days I will be posting some photos of my experiences these past few days and the ones of this ship and her crew will steal that particular show for sure. They of course helped with the transportation of 20 pallets of food and provisions sent by the home office and we all owe the captain and her crew so very much………not just for the day they spent with us………….but for so much more.

4. Toilets and Living Conditions
Well here we go then and let me start by saying that there is no doubt that the living conditions aboard the Carnival Splendor were challenging in many different ways. Obviously the first thing I need to talk about here are the toilets which for all of Monday and the wee hours of Tuesday didn’t flush. And when toilets don’t flush…….they smell. There is no reason to hide this fact because that would be just silly. The stateroom stewards worked so hard to use chemicals to make things better but there is only so much you can do. The toilet system works with EVAC suction. There are 5 units which power the toilets throughout the vessel and with no power….. they simply don’t work. So yes, Monday and Tuesday were very difficult days and all the reports you have read in the press are true with the exception of one person who told Fox News that there were bags filled with vomit lining the corridors. That is a lie. The end.

As I have mentioned before the engineers were making the return of the toilet service one of their main priorities and when they realised that getting propulsion back was not going to be possible Chief Mario and his team worked on the EVAC system. It was 1 am on Tuesday when I got a call from Duncan the hotel director who by the way was totally brilliant throughout this whole situation. Duncan is from the UK and so our conversation was ummmm……very British.







And that’s exactly what I did and it was a difficult announcement to make. Telling the majority of guests that their toilets were working again was tainted by having to tell 200 cabins that theirs were not and to use the public restrooms. The cabins in the aft section were in the same area where the fire was located and so they definitely got the worst of it for sure. The engineers miraculously got EVAC 5 working and that meant all of the toilets were now working. But there is no doubt that when they were not it was very unpleasant indeed and for that I am so very sorry.

Living conditions on a whole were as I said challenging. Walking the stairs was for some people extraordinarily difficult, myself included. Living in an inside cabin in the dark must have been hard. Luckily the outside temperature was not so high but even at 75 degrees, not having air conditioning left everyone feeling hot and sticky with only the thought of a freezing cold shower to look forward to. Obviously there was no power which meant no shows but that didn’t stop my team putting together all day activities which they did through a bull horn. There were trivia contests and games and scavenger hunts and dance classes and the musicians all put on acoustic performances which I am told everyone really enjoyed. I was very proud of my team and I owe them a lot. Overall I think its fare to say that the day time was fine but at night…….well that was the time when I think guests really just couldn’t wait to get to land……..and who can blame them?

5. Food
The chef and his team under the management of Renil, our F&B manager, and Duncan, the hotel director, somehow managed to feed 3,299 people and 1,200 crew under the most extreme circumstances. We had no power which meant of course no hot food so the 80 chefs complimented by the waiters made sandwiches and salads morning, noon and night. Some sandwiches were very good indeed and some were not. But they could only work with what they had and considering what they had was limited at best…….well I think they did a marvelous job. We had no power to the freezers which meant so much food was spoiled and how sad it was to learn that hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of food was written off as spoilage. I read a report on CNN that said we served mayonnaise sandwiches which is not correct.

The fact that they managed to give the variety of cold food that they did was stunning and I salute their work and endeavors. However……I must say that I would rather eat boiled yak thingy ……. than ever have to eat a sandwich again. Subway my arse.

6. Spam
When I was at school I loved Spam. It was offered every day and on Friday things got really exciting as it was offered……in batter. Spam was so popular Monty Python wrote a song about it which I used to sing while standing in line to order Spam for lunch……..Spam was part of my world and I embraced it with open arms.

Now I am older, I hate Spam and if someone put it in front of me just the smell would make me feel sick.

I guess my hatred for this mystery of meats must have been shared by some boffin who when the Internet was invented decided to call all the crap and unwanted e-mails that nobody wants “Spam” and when I returned home from not having any internet on the Carnival Splendor my inbox was full of the bloody stuff.

Now, I am supposed to have a filter thingy for my Yahoo account but it filters bugger all and today when I checked my e-mail I had 56 slices of Spam.

This morning when I logged on to my computer, my inbox was stuffed to overflowing with messages, none of which ever has anything to do with work or messages from friends. Most are from companies offering me Viagra and loans to pay for it. Then there are e-mails from someone I’ve never met telling me that they had sex last night with someone called Melissa.

I also was threatened with violence today by one of those awful e-mails that states that if you don’t forward it on to at least 10 people you will get the bubonic plague…and die. Today’s such threat came in the form of a beautiful waterfall and beneath it a poem about love for your fellow mankind and how we must all embrace our fellow man … then in small print at the bottom were some words telling me that if I didn’t forward this e-mail than I was a complete and utter scum with no more right to live on God’s green earth than a dung beetle……who writes these things?

Anyway the press has made a huge fuss about Spam. Let me confirm that we ordered cold cuts and amongst the baloney, corned beef, pastrami and ham they also sent us Spam. It was never served to guests or to crew and those who said it was are misinformed.

7. Kids
I felt so sorry for the kids. They had been looking forward to pools and slides and fun and games and sand and beaches and swimming and fun. They got very little of any of that. On Monday when the fire broke out everything was happening and I didn’t have chance to think about the kids. But on Monday I opened Camp Carnival, Circle C and Club O2. Yes they were warm and yet just getting the kids playing and keeping them occupied really helped I think and the youth director and her team were fantastic. I also asked the chef if we could feed the kids there rather than have them stand in line. He agreed of course and this really helped although their constant requests for nuggets, pizza and fries made us all feel so sorry for them. While Mum and Dad understood what was happening a four year old doesn’t and that must have been so difficult for the parents to explain. I have to admit that I was giving silent thanks that Heidi and Kye and disembarked a few weeks before all of this happened.

8. The Bars
As soon as the fire was out and the guests allowed to return to their cabins we opened the bars for complimentary sodas and water but no alcohol was served. At that time we had no idea what was going to happen next and if later that day another fire had broken out and we had to put guests at their muster stations the last thing we want is hundreds of people sponsored by free Bud Light. However, once the ship was under tow we made the decision to open the bars on a complimentary basis. And they remained free until we arrived into San Diego. Amazingly we didn’t have any incidents with excessive drinking. Yes, there were some happy people for sure but I think in the back of everyone’s mind was that they to didn’t know what was going to happen next and therefore were pretty responsible.

9. Other Free Stuff
Well I had made plenty of announcements that contained bad news so when I got to tell the guests that they were all getting a full refund, a free cruise to the value that they had paid for the one they were on and a full refund on all transportation costs and that Carnival would provide all guests that needed a hotel on Thursday night with a complimentary room……..well even I could hear the cheers and applause from the bridge.

All Sail & Sign purchases from the very start of the cruise were also waived and the man that bought a Tag Heuer watch from the gift shop must have been one very happy chappy indeed. Carnival didn’t sing its own praises about this but I will…….because it is a very generous thing to have done. The only person who is upset is a certain guest who wrote me a letter that on Sunday night his wife had seen a diamond ring in the gift shop for $2,100. He was going to buy it but his wife said she wanted to look in Mexico first…………oops.

10. Mistakes
Well there is no doubt that as a CD I learned a lot from this experience and as a company I think we learned a lot as well. Obviously as I don’t have a beard I can’t speculate as to what caused this to happen but in time we will all know and this knowledge will help the tofu eaters makes sure it doesn’t happen again and if it does they can find ways to make sure our number two’s disappear when we press the button.

As for other mistakes, well we realised we had made a huge one when we only opened the dining room for lunch and dinner on Monday. This caused Harry Potteresque lines and that caused people to get grumpy. This was a big mistake and one we rectified for all the meals the next day.

There was also mention in the press that I didn’t mention the word fire. Well they are right and wrong. If you remember part one of my memoirs you will remember that the initial reports were that the fire teams could only see smoke………there were no flames. And that was the message I conveyed to the guests. The first time I mentioned the word fire was when the cabling ignited. Maybe some people found this misleading for which I apologise but I was only trying to provide the guests with the facts and not to expand on them or speculate as to what might be.

There are other areas for discussion for sure. Should I have told the guests to bring their life jackets with them when I asked them to move to the open decks? The crew were in theirs after all. Ultimately, they didn’t need them but should I have insisted? I am still second guessing myself over this. As I mentioned, it was very dark with no lighting. Does this mean we should suggest to guests to have a flashlight with them when they come on the cruise? I want to be open and honest here but honestly, I think for the most part everybody, both on board and shore side handled the situation brilliantly.

There were guests that had specific challenges, such as having no power for PAP sleeping machines. There was little we could do about that but we need to look at ways that we can improve here. I read some comments about people worried about medicine, such as insulin, which needs to be refrigerated. I want to insure you that while the cabin refrigerators were not working, the one in the medical centre was supplied by the emergency generator. This meant that we were able to store guest’s medicines for them. If you were on the cruise and you saw something that you feel we could have done better, please let me know.

From the moment the fire alarm sounded to the helping the last guests ashore with their luggage, the crew were epic. I saw a 20 year old dancer carrying a suitcase from deck 7 all the way to deck 0 and then she went back to do it again. I saw a line of 50 food and beverage employees form a human chain to supply lido deck with food from the stairs on deck 3 all the way up to deck 9. I saw 4 photographers carry a lady in a wheelchair from her cabin to breakfast, lunch and dinner and I saw spa therapists patrol the corridors at night to make sure everyone was OK. I saw staff members handing out medallions and trophies to children telling them they had won the “Brave Award” and I saw every single crew member give their all. In my 24 years at sea I have never been in a situation like this and I have never, ever been so proud to be part of a team as brilliant and as historic as the Carnival Splendor crew.

Yes, there are those who said they will never cruise again and referred to their 4 days on board as “hell.” But I am sure this was a kneejerk reaction and probably one experience by mostly first time cruisers. I hope they take advantage of the free cruise so they can truly experience what we all know to be the most fun vacation in the world. But overall, the guests were fantastic. They understood, they listened and they were kind to the crew. They were also thankful, I think, to the way they were treated both on board and by the way our shore side team looked after them both with compensation and care.

When I told the guests we would arrive into San Diego earlier than expected there were huge cheers but as they left, people looked up to the bridge and waved and cheered and some blew kisses and some shed tears. It was an emotional time for everyone. A mixture of worry, uncertainty and adventure. I want to take this opportunity to thank those who sailed on the cruise of November 7 and I hope that you will book your complimentary cruise soon and I hope that I am lucky enough to be the cruise director when you do. I have a Bloggers Cruise on February the 27 on the Carnival Glory. Book that one and you get a free sandwich.

The Future
As you can see, today we announced the cancellation of a number of cruises and this will leave many very, very disappointed, for which I send my heartfelt apologies. It is my intention now to join the Carnival Splendor for one week on her first cruise back in service. I feel like there is unfinished business there, so I intend to be her cruise director for that first week back, maybe some of you will join me.

The press were looking for a story, a story of hundreds of angry guests spitting venom towards Carnival Cruise Lines but the only story they could find was Spam and that’s because Carnival, the world’s most popular cruise line, did the right thing. It’s 4 days I will never forget and these memoirs have attracted close to 400,000 views on the blog in the last few days with a over 8 million views overall. I appreciate everyone taking the time to read my musings. Tomorrow, I will take a day off and on Thursday will return with a regular blog about life and the Fun For All cruising so hopefully some will stay with me.

During the fire I did my best, I did my very best to keep people calm, informed and in good spirits. I have no idea if I succeeded but hopefully I did. I can tell you I was scared and worried and through it all, all I could think about was my wife and daughter and how scared and worried they must have been but the ship arrived safe and there were no injuries and nothing else matters.

I like to make one more apology before I go — to Ketut, my stateroom steward, who at the best of times hates cleaning my bathroom. So I can only imagine how he felt when he entered the cabin today for the first time and saw the results of me peeing in the dark. I can only hope he did not call the bridge for the Alpha team to come and put out the smoke, pouring from 4 days worth of unwashed underpants.

I will see you all on Thursday and thank you so very much for being my 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.

365 Responses to Smoke On the Water – The Final Chapter

  1. Pingback: Final Chapter of John Heald’s Carnival Splendor Post | Carnival Cruise Lines News

    • judy says:

      This is why we always cruise on Carnival.People like you working on the ships. Sounds like you truly made everyone feel comfortable and thats a wonderful thing. Well done.

  2. Heidi Yeater says:


    The one thing that was upsetting to me and Carnival could have done better was notify my family what was happening. They never received a call. I know my husband entered our emergency contact information. And I was travelling with my SIL who also entered the same info. My BIL had another emergency contact and she was also not contacted. I really think Carnival dropped the ball here and it would have been comforting for our families to know we were truly ok.

    • Julie Carson Meeker says:

      My family did not receive the call either, nor did my husbands.

    • Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

      Ms. Yeater:

      I find this complaint odd. I was not on that cruise and did not know anyone on that cruise….and I knew (just like the rest of the world) at the first possible moment that everyone was ok.

      The accident happened Monday around 6AM and by NOON …. the news was on Yahoo. Anyone, in the US, that wanted to know about this incident knew about this and that NO ONE had been injured.

      Your husband or BIL don’t own a TV, don’t listen to the radio, don’t read a newspaper or have the Internet????

      There was no specific information that Carnival could have told your husband or BIL . All Carnival could have told them was what was already being reported all over the place.

      Your husband and BIL knew what was important……that you were safe.

      The Miami corporate office had MUCH more important things to do than call someone to give them the same information that an individual could get from 4 other sources.


      • Heidi Yeater says:

        I was travelling with my husband and 5 other extended family members. Monday we were told Carnival would be contacting our family and letting them know we were all safe. I left my three children with my 79 and 81 year old in laws. My 15 year old daughter was scared. When we finally got cell phone reception there were several texts from her to call her immediately, call her at school, call her. I know she was very concerned. Her last message sometime later sounded like she finally got some reassuring news and had calmed down. She said she only knew we were on a ship that was on fire. On Monday night she was at a sports banquet and adults that were there said she was really upset. In fact I truly think she was concerned that we may never return. A call from Carnival on Monday would have been a big comfort to my family.

        And another note John Heald told us that our families would be contacted by Carnival! Why did they say this if they did not have the man power or resources to do it. I have yet to hear from one person on the Splendor whose emergency contacts heard any information from Carnival. John asked to know what Carnival could have done better and this is certainly an area that needs improvement.

        One other area John – since you asked. I was very concerned about families travelling with young children. Early on I was standing in a long line at the MDR (I think for dinner the first night, not sure maybe lunch) In the mirror line (for the other side of the buffet) was a couple with 3 young children (one that was ~6 months being held, one I’m guessing 2-3, and one 4-5. I felt so sorry for them and went up to an officer looking type in the dining room and said some alternate arrangements should be made for young families. He said other passengers may not share my concern and would not be as understanding. In the future there should be a plan to address those with special needs the very elderly, handicapped, those with young children. I hated standing in those lines. I would have been beside myself if I had young children to attend to.

      • Karen says:

        I was on the Splendor with my family and three out of five emergency contacts did receive phone calls. As some replies have indicated they really couldn’t give much more information.

        Having said that I can completely understand the frustration and concern of your daughter. I was travelling with my 16yr old neice and even though her mother recived a call they both were much happier when they finally made contact.

      • Carla says:

        The point is not that they had more important things to do. I was on the ship & my 19 year old daughter, home alone for the first time ever while we were on vacation, watched the news to find out what Carnival SHOULD HAVE told her; She knows her Dad & I are both legally blind & so she was very upset & concerned as to whether someone was looking out for us the way she does; she just needed someone to reach out to her & let her know for sure that we were truely okay. Yes, she can get the info somewhere else, & yes Carnival HQ was very busy; but don’t tell me you contacted my ER contacts when NONE of them got a call, NONE OF THEM. Do what you say you’re going to do, PERIOD. John did ask, & so he got an answer; nobody should be surprised at this particular complaint as that phone call would have meant so much to so many & the majority of people I talked to aboard ship stated that ehir ER contacts were not called either. They just need to be able to call in extra staff or something; I’m not sure of the solution but the calls are important.

        All of that being said; this is the ONLY negative thing I can say about the entire experience. Carnival’s crew did their level best, bar none, to take care of us in every way; I am absolutely certain of that. I have a wonderful story regarding the kindness of the manager of the Lido grille that I am going to forward to Carnival HQ. She definitely went above & beyond I thought; I was very impressed by her & her compassion for my situation. Thank you John & Carnival for doing such a fantastic job over all.

    • Amy says:

      There was enough news coverage of this for family to truely know you were ok. There was no ball dropping on this. All your family had to do was contact carnival or turn on any local news to get their answers.

      • Carla says:

        My daughter did call & got basically dead air or something like that. I think perhaps the system was overloaded or something; I don’t know.

        Again, Carnival did a great job in this situation & nobody will ever convice me otherwise.

    • Marissa says:

      How did your family not know what was going on? It was all over the news.

      • JM says:

        They knew what was going on, that was the problem! They were aware of a fire on a ship that their Mom was on. I’m about to leave on a Carnival Cruise in 2 days, and I’d like to think that the emergency contact information would be used in a similar event, even if it’s just to repeat what has been said. Yes the news said everyone was ok, but apparently the news was saying some things that weren’t accurate also.

        I think that under the circumstances with no power on the ship and no way for passengers to communicate (email or internet) and having been told their families would be contacted, I think it’s reasonable to feel that this should have been done.

      • Carla says:

        The news blew everything COMPLETELY OUT OF PROPORTION. After I finally got cell service (using the tugboats or some other nearby vessels’s cell service I think) & explained to my daughter the truth of things, she was put at ease. That’s how the families didn’t know what was going on, the media exagerates EVERYTHING.

    • Optiron says:

      Hope they had TV or the internet!

    • Sarah says:

      Were they under a rock?

    • Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

      Mrs. Yeater:

      Let’s be realistic….

      A call from Carnival would have gone like this….

      79 year old or 81 year old or worse 15 year old daughter: Hello…

      Carnival: Yes, this is Ms So and So from Guest Services. I am calling to let you know that there were no injuries on the cruise that your family is on and that we will be providing updated information at

      79 year old etc: Are they ok? You know my daughter has (listing every possible illness known to man) and she needs (every possible convenience which they currently don’t have).

      Carnival: There were no injuries and we are currently assessing the situation, Please refer to for updates.

      79 year old etc: But where were they when this happened?

      AND SO GOES THE 9,000 QUESTIONS that Carnival has no answers to.

      Those “emergency numbers” are IF an individual cruiser has an emergency and CARNIVAL needs to get in touch with someone to assist them.

      This was NOT the case.

      If John said Carnival would be calling every single passenger’s family, than I would chalk it up to pure exhaustion.

      Sorry your daughter was upset……but there was adequate news to reassure her that no one was injured.

      And a “call from Carnival” would not have been able to tell her one single piece of information that the other 9,000 sources weren’t already saying.


      • Heidi Yeater says:

        Thanks for your response JM you get it.

        Linda, you don’t give Carnival very much credit, I seriously doubt they would ever leave important information with a child.

        And I do not believe John was too exhausted to understand what he was communicating on Monday. I would be shocked if he did not truly think Carnival would be calling our emergency contacts.

        I have no idea what news was out there on Monday because I was on the ship. My guess is the news Monday was very limited. And more news became available as the week went on. The fact remains my daughter was alarmed on Monday. And I believe a call from Carnival communicating that her parents where safe would have been comforting. And I was told our emergency contact would be called. So I stand by statement Carnival dropped the ball.

      • Nicole says:

        Very well said!!!

    • Nicole says:

      It would be stupid to expect carnival to call everyone’s emergency contacts where no person in particular was experiencing an emergency. Unless your family and friends lived under a rock – they would know you were okay. And if they didn’t hear the number of times the media informed the public that there were no injuries, etc, than how did they even know what was happening. Some people just whine about everything…

  3. Frank and Bridie says:

    John, A very awesome blog as allways! Enjoy your day off! Wow this makes me want to cruise even more now with carnival

    Big fans As Allways,
    Frank and Bridie

  4. Marcus Hebda says:

    Absolutely outstanding!!! I sat on pins and needles waiting for this story conclude. Get some rest. We are sailing on the Triumph in 24 days and cant wait.

  5. Aaron Baker says:

    Hey John,
    I’ve always loved your blog and Carnival, but never more than now! Your tale is fantastic, and I’m thankful Spam was the worst story to come of it. Hopefully you’ll be our CD on our next cruise, have a great day!

  6. IRENE GARNER says:

    Dear John

    I am sure Carnival Cruise Lines are extremely proud of everyone of the crew on board the Carnival Splendor. You all did a wonderful job in difficult circumstances. Anyone with negative comments are only trying to make themselves look important. They should be thankful that the very best was made out of a bad bad situation, and everyone got home safe and sound.

    My concern is for the crew now that the ship won’t set sail again for 2 months. Will they be found work on other ships, or just given a long vacation? Hopefully their families won’t suffer financially over this.

    See you in February on BC4
    Irene Garner (Hooked on Cruising)

  7. Keith says:

    grand job John 🙂

  8. Linda In PA says:

    John, you are the best! Enjoy your time at home with your girls. You deserve it!

  9. Julie Mendenhall (jrmende63) says:

    Thank You John…this has been the most riveting reading I have had the pleasure of reading in quite a while. I am so proud of the Carnival Splendor crew. I know they did their very best. That includes you, John. I am greatful to Carnival for stepping up to the plate! Carnival took something very bad and made it very bearable. I will always sail Carnival.

    • Tracy Gorman says:

      I agree! I have hung on every word, and have be truly riveted. Thanks, John! I hope to see you on a future cruise.

  10. Daisy Day says:

    All I have to say is that I believe that Carnival and John and everyone involved did an amazing job, especially with the circumstances. None of this was planned, none of it was in anyone’s control but God’s and everyone handled it amazing. I hope and pray that John is the CD on my future cruise on the Carnival Magic in January of 2012. I wouldn’t want anyone else to be on that ship in times of crisis!! And to the media, they should all be ashamed of themselves. So many people rely on them for the “truth” and they always have to blow things out of proportion and they add things to their stories that is just plain sad. Kudos to Carnival, John (CD), the Captain and crew of the Splendor, USCG, US Navy and all passengers aboard the Splendor. Might not have been the greatest, but it was definitely a vacation that will never be forgotten. 🙂

  11. Deb says:

    Thanks so much for all the details, John. I loved reading your story – you’re a great, funny writer. Enjoy the holidays with your family.

  12. Barbara says:

    John, you really need to put all of your story into a book! Yes, there will still be complaints–but eveyone is still alive and were treated as well as they could be under the conditions available. Please get the much needed rest you can—we’ll be here for you when you return. Take care of your diabetes–and your 2 girls! Thanks to you and all of Carnival for all you’ve done!

  13. Patricia says:

    Um, the CG Cutter that was with you was NOT 150 feet. It was 378 feet. It is the largest cutter class the CG has and that particular ship is 41 years young.
    As a Coastie wife (and a wee bit proud), I didn’t want the rest of the CG to get angry with you — since you were so complimentary.

  14. slickabrina says:

    I could respond with a long reply but I think 2 words say it best…thank you. :o)


  15. Hank H. says:

    Brilliant! thank you!

  16. William Jordan says:

    I can only imagine how wonderful the night sky was alone in the ocean without all the lights of the ship to obscure the clouds!

    • William Jordan says:

      Shoot — I meant stars!!!!!!!

    • Chris Oeser says:

      Yea it was amazing! Every night my parents and I would go out to there wrap around deck (Lucky) And do star gazing! We would even count the satellites orbiting the earth! It was fun!

  17. Meg Norris says:

    It was wonderful to read about how well everyone pulled together on this cruise.
    It occurs to me that Carnival would really win a lot of hearts if it offered the sailors on the Ronald Reagan and the Coast Guard cutter a discount on a future cruise as a thank you gesture. (And who knows, some of them may become long term customers….)

  18. gail says:

    I’m a diamond cruiser with RCCL and have used them for all my cruises to date. It is hard to change a habit.

    That is going to change.

    I think Carnival has done an OUTSTANDING job in very difficult conditions.

    Thanks to you and beards at Carnival for treating your guests with respect and for the compensation that you gave those who sailed with you. I am beyond impressed.

    So, in thanks for being so fair to your guests our next cruise will be with Carnival. When a business does something right I believe they should be supported.

  19. Peggy Hannaford says:

    Awesome job! You and Carnival handled this extraordinary event in an outstanding way!

  20. Rob Griffith says:

    Just want to day that I was on this cruise and John’s recap of the cruise is very accurate. I want to thank him for keeping us all sane during this very trying time. I hope I can meet him someday to give him my thanks and a big hug! Without his constant updates and witty comments, I shudder to think of what mayhem could have occured. I also want to thank the crew who did a brilliant job. They were awsome and responded to a very stressful time with energy and enthusiasm. I remember them singing and laughing when they were doing the food chain. I hope they know how much we appreciate them! I will definately sail with Carnival again. I KNOW that whatever the situation, they will take great care of me!


  21. Janet Vaughn says:

    John – Brilliant blogging. Thank you so much for taking the time to detail this somewhat historic event. You must be exhausted and I appreciate all you have shared. As a cruiseaholic I have been spellbound and will probably suffer detail withdrawal for a few days since this tale has concluded.. I would love to be on the Splendor’s first trip back but since we have cruised twice with Carnival in 2010 I do not think we can work that out. We are however already booked on the bloggers cruise (quite by accident) on the Glory in Feb of 2011. Heck I had never even read a blog until the Splendor episode. Now (thank you very much) I am hooked. Great job. God Bless! Janet Vaughn

  22. sari b. says:

    John, as I have said before, I have enjoyed reading your Smoke on the Water chapters along with everything else you write. I have had the pleasure of you being my CD on my first cruise in 2004 on the Glory and I am praying that when we cruise on the Breeze in 2012, you will be the CD on her maiden voyage…… you are the best and you are so very loved by all of us that know you! Fondest Regards,

    Sari <3 <3 <3

    • Carolyn says:

      I read this post regarding the Carnival Breeze, I can’t find anything about it. Is there another new ship in the future? If so, where can I find the information on it? Thanks.

  23. Rita Presnell says:

    Right now everyone is my office is wondering why I am sitting at my desk with tears streaming down my face. I just finished reading your last blog and it was inspiriing to say the least. I do not know of any other situation where the professionalism and love for others have been portrayed. I cannot imagine what the guests, you, the captain and crew went through and I know that all of you did EVERYTHING possible to make the situation less difficult for everyone. May God bless all of you. You are truely great individuals and certainly a blessing to all of those on board The Splendor. I have cruised on Carnival 4 times and twice on other cruise lines (uck!), and I plan to book my cruise for next Sept. on Dream right after the first of the year (gotta wait on the Christmas money). It is an honor to cruise Carnival and I hope to meet you some day. Much love and respect to you, the captain and the entire crew of the Splendor. Everyone was in good hands all the way!

    • Kim says:

      I’m glad I am not the only one in tears after reading this. Cruising is close to my heart and it really touched me.

    • amandafromindiana says:

      I too am crying. I love to hear of people taking care of each other. And that’s exactly what they did.

  24. Randall Murphy says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience! The way you mix your humour in with a challenging situation had to be strength on the unexpected cruise to nowhere. I am going to do my best to make sure I’m on the Magic with you sometime next year. I know you always have a busy schedule, but it would be my honour to have a conversation with someone as fascinating as yourself. Hopefully what happened to the Splendor never happens again, but then again things do happen. If and when it does, hopefully the same caliber of you and your crew will be there.

    • Mark Fisher says:


      Amazing story and wonderful how you handled all the stress. We have cruised many times, all with P & O, a Carnival company and never had any problems apart from rough seas.

      I had no idea the Cruise Director was in charge of passenger relations in the case of trouble. You did great.

      I’ll continue to cruise, safe in my mind that if there ever is a problem, there will be a great crew to sort it out.

  25. Host Mach from Cruise Critic says:

    My compliments to you and all of Carnival for handling this event the way you did.

    As always, brilliant.

    God love you all.


    Host Mach

    • Fern says:

      What Host Mach said 🙂

    • Paul m says:

      Sailed on four other cruise lines..never on Carnival. After reading this, our next one will be on a Carnival ship….And hopefully with John!

      Great Job!

    • Georgie T says:

      Another ditto to what Mach said!

    • jeanetteshishido says:

      John, thank you for all that you did to keep our spirts up. My daughters and I booked this cruise to bond and spend some well needed time together. My oldest daughter Angela this was her first cruise, and she was so excited we all had a wondeful nignt on Sunday and were excited about the upcoming days of the cruise. Eventhough that didn’t happen we pulled our selves together and grew as a family. I use oxgeyn and also have a walker, but they always put me first.
      We are booked on the cruise that is going out ij January 16 2011 and are so excited that you will be our director.

    • Deana says:

      Firstly..I sailed the Carnival Splendor back in Febuary of this year. Manuel the room steward, if you happen to see this, Seester and the Big Boss were worried about you and hope you are doing well!

      Then three things.

      I had been thinking about booking another cruise but the fire on the Splendor got me reading the boards and all that and caused me to finally get off my tuckus and book another. Carnival, your fire MADE ME BOOK A CRUISE 😀

      A side an RN..that might be helpful (your mileage may vary) hospital only refrigerates insulin for storage. After a bottle is put in use it is kept at room temperature for up to 30 days. This includes novolog, lanuts and levemir.

      Lastly..excrement occassionally hits the oscilating device. Be glad it was a ship in the ocean and not an airplane in the sky.

      To the staff on the Splendor..YOU GUYS ROCK!!

      • Deana says:

        Oh and one more thing..

        Whip our your handy dandy windows calculator and multiply an average of 2k per passenger for their cruise, sign and sail and airfair for that voyage. Now add on a free cruise ( x 3200 passengers). Then throw in the ship repairs, the cost of taking care of the crew, the cost of putting up those passengers who wished to stay a night in San Diego..

        Carnival definitely gave till it hurt to make this right by their customers. Ouch indeed.

  26. mrdannyk says:

    Great series of posts John. Nothing like hearing the real story. I think most people who watch the news knows that they dig hard for dirt. They gave up after a day or two. Enjoy your time with your family. There’s nothing better.

  27. Wow, that a fantastic ending. Sums it up very nicely.

    We will be sailing with you on the BC4 in February. I don’t want a sandwich though. Just saying.

    Have a terrific day. 🙂

  28. Cheryl Barcomb says:

    Thank you John , Your input on the happenings has just been Amazing. Please get some rest, and you have MANY FRIENDS, I have been one since we sailed with you 8 years ago!

  29. Maurene(yes spelled that way) says:


    Thank you so much for your honest explanation of what happened. Like most of the world I was glued to the TV and internet for any news of what was going on. Knowing that you were on there I knew they would all be laughing about it on board, but still was worried.
    I am glad to see Carnival taking care of all their guests in the way they have and if you have been catching up on Facebook comments, I had a few that I left. Mostly against the negative idiots who say they will never take a cruise because of this. As I told them, you are more likely for something to happen when you are flying in a plane, driving in a car, swimming in your pool or walking down the street.
    I will back Carnival no matter what because my husband and I have cruised twice with you and would never want to go with anyone else. Both times were excellent and we felt that we were the most important people on board.
    I am glad the crew all came together and helped out, that is another reason why Carnival is so great. In the face of adversity they all came together to help the guests.
    I just wanted to say thank you and great job, keep doing what you do. Even though you get alot of people complaining, a million more of us are sitting here and grinning thinking of what we would say if OUR cruise director told us that the engineers were number one for our number 2.
    have a great time with your family, I am sure you are squishing kye and heidi with hugs and they are dripping from your kisses. Make sure you wash your lips to get the dirt off from where you kissed the ground when you got off this ship!

  30. Fraser Muir says:


    Absolutely amazing,

    First, you really should right a book about all this, you truly a skilled writer. I will stand in line to buy your book.

    Second, Do not second guess yourself, this was a trying situation at its best and better people (if any exist) would not have done any better

    You, the Captain, the Crew of the Splendor, the US Navy, US Coast Guard and of course the Chihuahua.

    I stand and applaud each and every one of you for a job well done!!!!

    Carnival, you did right by the guests and that is why I choose to sail Carnival.

  31. Dee and Jim says:


    All we can say is “Well done!” to you and to the entire crew of the Carnival Splendor who we had the pleasure of cruising with on October 17th…..kudos to the Tugboat Crews, the crews of the US Coast Guard ship and the US Aircraft Carrier and to Carnival for showing up and doing what was ‘right’ when the going got tough.

    Dee and Jim

  32. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

    John: (no reply needed…just wondering)

    DJ just asked me an interesting question….

    since you could not flush the toilets, why didn’t folks (at least the guys) pee in the sink or down the shower drain?

    He said that would not have taken care of problem number two, but should have removed problem number one?

    I told DJ that I did not know the answer….

    Linda (Mom of your friend DJ)

  33. Deborah Rosato says:

    Thank you John for telling it as it really happened. I’m so proud to be a Carnival Stock Holder and Cruiser. What a brilliant truthful description of what you and the guests went through.

    I hope some of the guest choose to join us on the BC4 cruse – that would be great. I also hope some of them return to the first cruise of the Carnival Splendor – it’s always good to get back on the horse as quickly as possible.

    Enjoy your time at home.

    (((hugs))) to you Heidi and Kye


  34. DASTARDLY DAVE says:

    Enuf said! You all did Carnival proud and are to be commended one and all!

    I can’t wait to sail again and THANKS for being you.

  35. Julie Carson Meeker says:

    Oh John,

    You brought me to tears with this conclusion. I was there with you and this blog has taken me right back.

    The mention of all of the hard work of the crew, the Servicemen and women who were of aid to us (and those who were not-I salute you all), and the passengers for not acting crazy (except the few dillholes-you know who you are), and the accurate descriptions of the situation made me cry.

    Thank you.

    (I have a facebook album and ‘review’ open to the public-search Julie Carson Meeker

  36. Big Ed says:

    John, some my have called this the “cruise from hell” but this post was the POST TELLING ALL. I was reading the post out loud to Pat and I could not stop to even get a sip of coffee. You had me glued to every word. Like many have said you need to put this all in a book.

    Thank you for telling us the real story.

    BIG Ed

  37. John,
    WOW WOW WOW. What a story you have to tell to your grandchildren in the future. Flowing the story last week was like watching our family in trouble. We were glued to the internet for updates by the hour.
    When you hired on with Carnival those many years ago little did they know what a great Cruise Director/Person they had hired.
    Like the Pilot who landed his airplane in the Hudson river said ‘ I have been banking experience for all these years and I just took a big withdrawal.’ That is what you did. Thank you from the Travel Agent community.

  38. I have had the pleasure of cruising with John twice,and it was a pleasure.kudos to carnival for the splendid care given to the guests on the splendour I am a loyal carnival cruiser,been 7 times in 5 yrs, we dont even look at the competition..carnival is the best!!

  39. Sharon says:

    All I can say is BRAVO! I want to book another cruise (Carnival Legend!) right now..but I just got off one on the 13th so I’ll have to wait. Get some rest, John, job well done!

  40. Laura Gallagher says:

    Dear John, Thank you for your time putting this blog together reliving the moments to give an honest first person account. of the events that unfolded. Unfortunately, for many, they will get their accounts from the various sensationalized news outlets, whining, self absorbed & pompous passengers … not to mention the ambulance chasing (or in this case tugboat chasing) attorneys out to make a buck.

    In hindsite, I read that one of the cruiselines has put into effect that the lifejackets were being kept at the muster stations, not in the staterooms. This could alleviate the feelings of whether to ‘bring them or not’. I know this is trivial, after all that everyone endured on the Splendor, but might be something to think about in the future

    Keep up your great work. Hopefully I can get to sail on one of your cruises in the near future.

  41. Ry Jones says:

    Well done. Thanks for being so open about what happened!

  42. Tammy says:

    What a wonderful account of your ‘adventure.’ THANK YOU for sharing this with all of us and ‘setting the record straight’ about what did and did not take place during those three days.

    May you have a restful and relaxing time with Heidi and Kye and enjoy your time at home. Maybe have a turkey leg next Thursday in honour (spelled correctly) of your American friends at Thanksgiving. :>))

  43. Tara Gallagher says:


    Thank you for posting the full story. You did a magnificent job! I hope to one day cruise with you as my CD once again.

  44. Jen says:

    John, I just want to thank you for sharing this experience with us in your own words. It’s nice to read a true account from someone who was there.

  45. Jeri Green says:

    John, You did a fantastic job and we are all so very proud of you!!! Now rest up and enjoy your time at home. Jeri and Larry

  46. Shannan says:


    I’m so proud of the Captain, you and the rest of the crew! I’m in tears after this last post. I truly love Carnival even more, now. Enjoy your day tomorrow!


  47. heidi says:

    Dear John
    you are amazing. reading your account brought tears to my eyes. its very apparent how much you and the crew love the company you work for, and how you all go above and beyond to make cruising fun for everyone, even under the worst possible conditions. i applaud you all. i have just completed my 3rd cruise with you, on the Sensation, it was wonderful, and i definitely will be booking another one as soon as possible.
    i see on your fb thingy that the Splendor is out of commission til january. i think its a brilliant idea for you to be the CD on her first journey back.
    take care and dont let the negative people get you down
    heidi (best name ever! don’t you think?)

  48. Tamara says:

    All I can say is that you brought tears to my eyes. Reading how proud you are of the crew and reading of all the great things they did during this trying time; I felt your pride, just like a parent’s pride when their child does something special.

  49. Mike says:

    I have been glued to your blog for the past couple of days. I laughed and just about cried for you all. We heard all sorts of wild things here in San Diego, but I was waiting for you to get back so we knew the truth of it. My hat is definately off to Carnival. Class act the whole way. It was a tough situation, but you guys really came through well. We will be on the Carnival Spirit towards the end of January (again) and we are really looking forward to spending time with our Carnival “family” again. My wife only made one comment and she said “I sure hope that doesn’t happen again”, I told her not to worry, John would make sure we got a free cruise if it happens to us! LOL! Seriously though, you guys are just the best. The issue has been the talk of work lately and I’ve been able to make corrections quite often since you started writing this. I’ve heard a lot of “Wow! That’s customer service!” type of comments. You are all number one (no toilet humour intended) in my book!

  50. David Wyatt says:

    Great job to you John and all the Carnival Cruise line Staff!

    By the way, My wife and I always cruise with a flashlight……

    • Hammer says:

      HOOAH to the great job the ships crew did.
      John, this was the most I have read in years, and loved it.
      Hope to have you as a CD one time when DW and I sail.

  51. ShaRee Hirschi says:

    Thanks for the report John! We look forward to cruising with you again someday.

  52. Dee says:

    John, I have kept up with your blog and I can say-u r great ! The crew did a great job and I am very proud ! U r so funny and it would b a pleasure 2 travel with u. I have taken 2 cruises and have a new one planned 4 next Oct on the Liberty. I can;t wait and again-u and the crew did awesome !!

  53. Joel Richter says:


    As a Past guest (5) sailing on Carnival plus one on Princess and having you as a CD on the Triumph (spelled correctly) I am so proud of you and all the people that are on the Carnival Cruise lines. I know there where a lot of challenges for you to face and I am so glad everyone made it out safe and sound. I am looking forward to being able to cruise with you again in the future and hope that something like this will never happen again. ( I think that this unfortunate incident was a reminder of what can go wrong) but I also think that it was a great learning tool on how if something happens that you all can make it better. God speed to you, your wife and daughter. Once again I hope to see you again on a future cruise!!!!!!

  54. Ira says:

    Thank you for allowing us to come along on this amazing adventure. While I am sure it was not fun, it is experiences like this that make up a life. The easy stuff is not memorable…it is the difficult that will always stay with you.

    Great Job – John.

  55. Mary Neubauer says:

    You John, are a magnificant person, and I am proud to say I have sailed with you on the Splendor. Keep up the fabulous work! I hope to be able to have you as CD on one of my future Carnival cruises. Thank you so much for taking the time to provide so many with an insight of what really happened. I cried and laughed at the same time! Take care of yourself.

  56. Steves542 says:

    You are the man John.

    Thank You

  57. Brian Gale says:

    John- Great writings here, thank you for setting the record straight and for your guidance during that cruise.
    You were one of my first CDs when I first started working for Carnival in 2000 on the Triumph.
    As to your “second guessing” yourself about should you have told the guests to bring their life vests. Remember, there it the light on the vest that they could use for a little light to get to the muster stations.
    Anyway, thanks again and I hope to work with you again someday.
    Brian Gale
    Crew ID# 251670

  58. Piraflambe says:


    I was on the Splendor for this fateful event. Several times you mention you weren’t sure of your attempts to making us feel calm and safe – I can assure you they did. I looked forward to what ever your ending humor would be. My best girl-friend and I were to celebrate our birthdays (hers was the 12th and mine is coming on teh 26th) – and although we didn’t get to celebrate on board – we still had an adventure. I do hope that we can have you as a CD in the future. Although our “free” one will be on the itinerary this one was originally scheduled for 🙂 Thank you again for the great commentary during the ordeal. We appreciated it!

    Sharon Ruesch
    Splendor SR# 6435

  59. Kimberly Espina says:

    I really enjoyed reading your accounts of the Nov 7th cruise. I think you and Carnival did an amazing job taking care of the guests and crew to the best of your ability. I actually think you went above and beyond in my personal opinion! Thank you for being great at what you do and for helping put everyone at ease! We are booked on the January 16th sailing and I am so relieved that the ship will be ready by then!! I am sorry for those whose cruises were cancelled, that would be so dissapointing. But I wanted to tell you that before all this happened I was sad that your time on the Splendor was to be over in December and you wouldn’t be our cruise director, since I think you are AMAZING!! So although I felt many emotions reading your memoirs on your blog thingy, the one that literally had me yelling and cheering was the fact that you will be joining us for the January 16th cruise! I feel so lucky that both the ship will be ready in time for our cruise and that you will be my CD! What a happy day indeed!! I can’t wait to meet you, but for now enjoy your time off and the time with your family. I’m sure I speak for many when I say you have truly earned it!
    Thanks again and see you in January,
    Kimberly Espina

  60. Nancy Bradford says:


    I have been reading your blog for awhile now and these reports of the problems the Spelndor had make me wish more that one day I get to sail with you and tell you in person how much I admire you.

    I do not need a reply to this but if you want to just show it as some one who enjoys your blog then do it.

    We have been on 3 Carnival cruises and am going on the Liberty on Nov 27th then next year on the Fantasy.

    Enjoy your time home with Heidi and Kye.

    Nancy Bradford

  61. Sharon says:

    Great story! What an adventure! I am glad most took this trip in stride and will continue to sail Carnival. You made me “almost” sorry that I missed it!

  62. Lisa says:

    Oh my gosh you had me crying, laughing and crying because I was laughing in parts. It broke my heart when you talked about your wife and daughter, and how you missed them. I am a sucker for anything sweet and romantic. LOL You can truly see how much your girls mean to you and I love that.

    You so should write a book you are a brilliant writer. I just love your blog thingy. You are a very very funny guy but so honest and down to earth too. There is just so many good things I could say about you I am a huge fan. 🙂

  63. Kamilla Camilo says:

    I could even hear your voice while reading the Splendor saga lol
    I think this was an event that could have destroyed Carnival’s reputation with bad public relations but instead lifted the company to a higher level of customer service. Yes, when cruising everybody wants to have fun, be comfortable and enjoy but most of all they want to feel safe and that’s what they felt, and that’s for marketing is priceless.
    I believe you keeping the guests informed at all times made a huge difference, as when we don’t have the facts we tend to assume the truth and that’s when all goes down.

    I have read many articles and watched a few videos about the incident and what I noticed from the journalists in general was that they were looking for the worst, and that happened in several different news stations around the world. Even the interview here in New Zealand with a Kiwi who was onboard and had just left Christchurch to take a break from the never ending aftershocks following the 7.1 earthquake we had, the reporter kept pushing him to say he was in a cruise from hell and etc but all he said was he had his emergency kit ready and took it to the cruise just in case, here we go at least one guest had a flashlight lol, but anyways they want to hear guests saying they would never cruise again and that Carnival was horrible, incompetent but as they didn’t find those stories they made up a few. Which included the eating spams 24/7 which been an ex crew member I find really hard to believe the ship would ran out of food in 24h and I knew these stories were incorrect.

    I am sure however that things as you said were changeling and that sometimes felt unbearable and here goes a big praise for all crew onboard and yes I can only imagine how would be if I was still there and how would be nonstop lines at the purser’s (ops guest’s services) but as you mentioned there were hundreds of guests at the desk and if was not for your announcements I’m sure would be thousands. I have followed the whole adventure since I heard about the incident via you page on facebook, for many people was just a “ship caught fire blabla” not for me. It was my last ship and I remember every little detail about it and I felt your pain and every crew member’s pain.

    I am now even more proud to say that I worked for Carnival, and the Splendor was my last ship.

    Great job 🙂 John and crew

  64. Kim says:

    Thanks for the real story. I sailed the Spendor on its time in Europe and have such fond memories of the ship. I will be glad to see it repaired and back in service soon. Sound like you did the absolue best that you could in a very difficult situation. Enjoy your time off!

  65. Deb says:

    I have to say I laughed , I cried, I giggled and smiled at this post, if I had been on this cruise I would have been glad that you were the CD. I hope on one of my future cruises with Carnival I get to meet you and Thank You for giving us the best details of what happened. The media I didn’t believe for a minute, but coming from you I know its the closest to the truth that it can be. Thanks should go out to all the crew the captain and all the staff that helped everyone stay safe. Enjoy some rest and I hope to meet you one day as I have many more Carnival cruises to plan.

    • Barb Britt says:

      I have never read these “thingy’s” but was glued to this once I found it on a CC board. I hope someday to be on one of your cruises. The passengers just had to know they had the best possible CD during this whole experience. We are on Carnival in February, and I am so glad we made that choice.

      One question: why couldn’t you all be tranferred to another ship?

  66. Princess Susan says:

    Thank you so much for telling this story! It’s nice to hear what really happened and not the spin the press put on it.
    Don’t be so hard on yourself. If you made any mistakes, I am sure you were doing what you thought was best at the time. I have been told you can’t live your life with the “if only” thoughts running through you mind all the time.
    The one thing the press seemed to get right is how much the guests appreciate all your announcements and how in the mist of things, could make them laugh. I would say by that alone, you did your job well!

    I would love to hear a little from Heidi when and how she found out you were ok. I hope she didn’t worry to much, but knowing her, she did. Thank goodness Kye didn’t know what was going on.

    I sure hope Carnival knows what a gem they have in you!
    I am going to give you the biggest hug on the BC4!
    Enjoy your time with Heidi and Kye! Please give them my love!

  67. wonderful conclusion to the trip john. i am so proud of carnival and you and all the crew and the guests too. i would gladly endured all of it to have been there when the ronald reagan pulled up! man, what a sight that must have been. cheers to y’all!

    smiles, bee

  68. Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! John, I can’t wait to meet you, your underpants, and the good Lord willing, Ketut, the keeper of your underpants, on the BC4 cruise. Big hugs :]

  69. Fern Modena says:

    John, I’ve never had the pleasure of sailing with you, but I have to tell you it sounds like you were brilliant during the ship’s difficulties. Taking command, calming people down and telling them what to do at difficult times is not an easy task, and not one you can plan for. You either have it, or you don’t. You, sir, have it. I know; I was one of five people in charge of radio communications for San Francisco after the earthquake of 1989.

    Thanks for taking the time to do the blog thingie and let us know how it was inside. And I love your humour (spelt like you would).


  70. Elliott (USCG Retired) says:

    Good night John, you deserve a good rest… Job well done…

  71. Cleo 8332 says:

    HI John,

    Thank you for giving all of us the real story about what happened onboard the Carnival Splendor. I was tired of only hearing about the “cruise from hell” in all the media reports, so hearing about all the small things that the crew did to help the passengers was awesome.

  72. Jan Bode says:

    Darn it John – ya made me cry!!!

  73. Ara says:


    I’ve had the pleasure of having you as a CD multiple times. I feel given the situation you handled it as best as you could have. Congratulations!

    I’m looking forward to seeing you on a boat soon. I’m sure you’ll have a larger stash of underwear?



  74. Frank says:

    John, bravo to you , the crew, and CCL. You did your best to make a tough situation bearable. Enjoy your time off with your family. We’ll be looking forward to sailing on Carnival next year with Holland America friends Brad and Nick….I think we may be on the Dream for Brad’s birthday and Michelle and my anniversary the 1st week of October. If we knew what ship you were on at that time we’d try to sail with you. CCL did an outstanding job trying to make the affected passengers whole.

  75. Mike says:

    Really enjoyed your blogs. Glad everyone is safe!

  76. Alan & Chris says:

    Hello John,
    I haven’t posted in a while, and honestly, I haven’t been reading the thingy as regular as I used to. Everything you have written about here is exactly why I am a Carnival Cruiser (not the ship catching on fire though). We sailed the Med with you on the Freedom and we are sailing the Caribbean for a New Years Eve cruise on the Miracle. The crew was spectacular on an “uneventful” cruise, and it obviously makes you proud on how they operate under pressure. Cruising, as with any vacation, always has some amount of risk, but with the caliber of the crew, from the Bridge to the Engine Room, and everywhere in between, along with the safety features that you put into your fleet, there is no doubt as to why Carnival is the leader in the industry, and the favorite for us.

    Enjoy your time off with Heidi and Kye. You’ve earned it.

    Alan & Chris from Boston

  77. Sandy Stalter says:

    John — our daughter is a member of the entertainment staff aboard the Carnival Splendor, and like your family we had some scary moments when we heard the news about the fire. It’s been great to read your blog — you gave us much more details than we got from her! Coincidentally, we recently booked a cabin for the Jan. 16th cruise, and we’re so happy to hear that it’s still a go, and that you’ll be aboard — we look forward to meeting you!

    • Linda (Mom of DJ) says:


      Please tell your daughter how much we Carnival cruisers appreciate the way she and the other staff and crew went above and beyond.

      I hope we get to sail with her one day.

      Linda (Mom of DJ)

  78. mary & gary says:

    Bravo and well done mate. I just booked the bloggers cruise and will be on the Carnival Magic Oct 16 & 18 b2b 28 glorious days- 6 straight at sea, NO WORRIES here and enjoy your down time with the girls.

  79. Jennifer Pazmino says:

    BRAVO to all at Carnival. John your blog and story had me in both tears of laughter and joy. Thank you for the insight and the back-stage view. Cant wait for my Carnival Freeedom to leave on Feb 20th.

  80. Ryan says:

    Wow. Thank you so much for sharing all of this. I really felt as if I were on the ship right with you. You and the crew did an amazing job keeping every one safe and sound. My wife and I will be back on a Carnival cruise as soon as our wallets allow (we just got off our Valor Oct. 31).

    Bravo John and Bravo Carnival

  81. Mike says:

    Just one work <<<<<>>>>> ok two

  82. Chuck Adams says:

    John –

    Thanks for such an open and honest account of this bad situation! I am very impressed with your candor and know in the long run this experience will greatly benefit Carnival. Companies that treat their customers right when things are bad will always be remembered. I for one, will not hesitate to take a Carnival cruise when the opportunity arises.

    best regards,

    Chuck Adams

  83. Dawn says:

    When I heard your voice during one of the morning shows interviewing a newlywed couple, I had to smile. If I was to be stuck on a Carnival cruise, I can’t think of a better person to be the Senior Cruise Director. Good job Carnival and even better job for John.

  84. gina says:

    I have to say that was a very interesting story…my heart goes out to you…i hosestly said to people i wish i was stuck on that cruise because i know carnival would treat you good during and after this a avid cruiser and love carnival..i know you are probably still getting slack for this ..remember it wasnt your Fault and you did the best you could under the circumstances and id be proud to sail under your command…if you cant get anyone to fill cabins let us know my brother owns a cruise agency cruisedeals4u…we would said with ya anytime! god bless and keep up the good work and good humor

  85. Jana Kenyon says:

    Ohhhhhh I am so sorry you went thru all that, but you tell a dang good story. I just spend 3 days on Carnival Paradise and I woulda loved for some issues like you had. It was just not long enough vacation for this Minnesota gal. And BTW.. if yer still in need.. im sure there are some corn fed gals around here that could send ya some 3x

  86. Jennifer says:

    Brilliant John. You should write books for a living. You are so well spoken and witty. I am confident that you and the crew and the Officers did their very best, as evidenced by the majority of comments from guests aboard. Kudos to you all…..

  87. Jim Meyers says:


    My wife Trina and I were on the Splendor with you. We found it interesting to read what was happening on the bridge while we were down below. While this was a real experience, we decided to enjoy it. We would rather not go through this again, but we on the most part enjoyed our trip. The employees were fantastic and you could not have expected them to do any more than they did. We are looking forward to our next Carnival cruise.

    Jim & Trina Meyers

  88. Maureen Ulakovic says:

    I was not on the cruise mentioned above but I have taken a Carnival cruise and loved every minute of it. The people working on the ship were wonderful. As for you, John, I think Carnival is very, very lucky to have such a great representative as you working for them. Keep up that great sense of humor please. I never thought I would be laughing at what happened on this cruise, but I did. Having a sense of humor such as yours is what gets us through the tough times in our lives.

  89. If I had to be trapped on a ship floating aimlessly about it would be with you. I have been fortunate to be on more than one cruise with you as director. My fondest was with you and Wee Jimmy. But I digress. I was scheduled for the 12/26 cruise. One of many I have already taken and I will take more. My family is a for-lifer Carnival Cruiser. We have never come away from a cruise not feeling we got 125%. We have made many friends from on these cruises. The majority of our new friends are crew members. We go as far as to book a cruise because of a cruise director or a crew member. Keeping tabs on where they end up next. I have enjoyed your blog posts over the years and I really liked how you wrote the good the bad and the ugly. I cannot wait for the next cruise I am on where you are the director. Maybe perhaps it will be the January 16 voyage on the Splendor.

  90. Laura Harlin says:


    I want to tell you that I have been glued to your blog for the past several days. I’m not much of a book reader, but if this was a book, I wouldn’t have put it down until I finished the entire thing. Each day when you finish that day’s entry, I just wish you had written more and I felt like each day was the season finale of my favorite show that just threw in a huge cliff hanger in the final minutes.

    I was on the Splendor back in April and truly love that ship as I do the rest of the Carnival fleet. My husband and I are already booked on two Carnival cruises for 2011 and I really hope that you might be the cruise director for just one of those.

    I hope you enjoy your time relaxing and I look forward to reading all of your blogs from here on out!

    Laura Harlin,
    Mt. Juliet, TN

  91. Sandra says:

    Bravo!!! You my friend are a wonderful man …You truly are the best Ambassader Carnival Corp is TOPS in my book always has been always will .You should be knighted :),,I will ring the Queen..though she may be busy with wedding planners 😉 but thats neither here nor there..I hope to be with you on a Carnival ship soon one that you are CDing ..I want to shake your hand..Fabulous!!!!XOXO
    NB Canada(Brrrrrrrrrrrr)

  92. Mary says:

    John, My family & I were getting ready for our week long cruise on the Valor when we heard what had happened on the Splendor. All I can say is that I pray that the CD & the rest of the crew on our cruise are as awesome as all of you who handled this “setback” with the Splendor.

  93. DIANE says:

    Who will be the cruise director on the the Glory 4/03/2011?

  94. John W says:

    John, I got this email from my ex-TA (now) about the Splendor: (reply if you want)

    > Just wanted to give you a head’s up on a super deal for the Carnival Splendor as soon as it gets back to port.> (she was being a smart ass).

    When I told her I would be most happy to sail on the Splendor with this crew any time any where she replied with this:

    >You’re braver than I am. With this last episode & 2 suicides in 2 years or so, they say it’s haunted.>

    At this I informed her that her services was no longer needed and that I would deal directly with Carnival from now on.

    FYI, no I have never been on the Splendor (I’m East Coast – CCL Glory, mostly) but with this crew and Captain and their brilliant performance, I would feel completely comfortable sailing with them – anytime, anywhere. And this from someone ex-Navy who spent most of his time on aircraft carriers in the repair parties.

    Again, damn good job to you, the Captain and all the crew!

  95. Brandi Jones says:

    I have read every day of your Splendor Blog and I am beyond amazed at how well the whole situation was handled! My husband and I are taking a Carnival cruise on December 4th and we have no doubts about the company. This will be our 4th cruise- all Carnival and every time our expectations have been outstandingly exceeded. I fully believe Carnival did better than the best they could do in this situation! GREAT JOB CARNIVAL!

  96. tracy says:

    wow carnival staff are the greatest. so is carnival.just glad it wasnt worse then it was. john u did a good job. and as for brininging flashlight with u when u travel i always do. u never know when u might need it.john get some rest.

  97. Marie Wolff says:

    Well done. You made me cry for you, the wonderful Captain Cupisti, and, the fantastic crew. I also would like to commend the passengers for making the best of a very bad situation. They were wonderfully behaved, and, did not complain like a bunch of losers. It is a journey all of you can be proud of. Finally, the Chiauah,sp? was along with the Coast Guard and the Ronald Regan were a powerful addition to your success.
    Best regards to you Heidi and the beautiful Kye.
    Marie and Bob Wolff

  98. Colleen says:

    John I had the privilege on cursing with you on October 31st. You are truly a remarkable man.


  99. Tyler says:

    Sorry I was not there to be of assistance, but I am not surprised at all that the team pulled together like that.
    The ship has great leadership!

  100. Kelly Servatius says:

    John – Thank you so much for detailing a historic cruise. You brought comfort and details in a very uncertain time.
    I was curious, given the current cancellation of several Splendor cruises. Is it known who will be the CD director for the splendor on the February 27, 2011 cruise?
    Thanks you again for your brilliant handeling of the details for this cruise.

  101. Debbie James says:

    An amazing story – movie of the week material!

  102. Athena says:

    Thank you so much for your “musings”. Having been on the magnificient Splendor the week of October 17th, I felt as if I was there with you while reading your accounts. This last posting made me cry, as I can only picture the lovely smiles on each and every crew member that served us so attentively on our cruise, and how I’m sure they continued to give their very best during this “adventure”. I’m saddened and angered that the attention will go to all the inaccurate reports that make for a “better story”. That there will be people who will be willing to fabricate lies to sell their stories for monetary gain. Nothing can be done about that, and I hope that Splendor’s crew will not be discouraged by any negativity. That they always remain proud of how they as a united crew made a difference. Can’t wait to get back on Splendor again one day…she, her captain and crew were, and continue to be, magnificient.

  103. Theresa K says:

    John I truely enjoyed reading your blog. I went with you on the Splendor on the 16 of Oct. You are great as a CD.

    Carnival is my favorite cruise line I have tried the others but no one can match you. I can not wait for my next cruise it will be number 10.

    I wish I could have been on this one with you. Cheers to the crew for all of there hard work. Cheers to John for his great blog.

  104. Chris Yust says:

    John, you are the cat’s meow; the icing on the cake, the cherry on the sundae, the baby’s smile, the best of the best!

    You make me proud and you make Carnival proud.
    Can’t wait to meet you in Galveston on the Carnival Magic next November! We will be proud to be sailing with you. Why else do you think we booked that particular cruise? Because of YOU!
    Thank you, your loyal subjects and fans,
    Chris and Charles

  105. Ron says:

    What a story. Have cruised Carnival Elation twice this year from it’s homeport in Mobile, AL; my homeport as well. May God bless Carnival Cruise Lines and a special blessing for Cruise Director John.

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  107. Vickie Watts says:

    Thank you for the enjoyable read. I was a first time cruiser in October and will continue…Already making plans to cruise in Feb and Oct. 2011, with Carnival…sure hope you are our CD.
    God Bless you and the crew of Splendor…
    Wonderful job.

  108. Jan Reem says:

    Hey John!
    Excellent series, thank you so much for taking the time to give us all the real story. Once again, if anyone wants to give me their voucher for a free cruise…well you know.

    Jan in Michigan

  109. Jill Arslanian says:

    I have found your blog riveting, and couldn’t wait for the next chapter. I can imagine being on the ship and being upset as a passenger, and can appreciate the adventure you have made it. You took great care of the guests and your staff was fabulous. To those passengers that are unhappy, how would they feel if they had to get in the lifeboats, or worse? I am utterly amazed at everything that happened, how urgently decisions were needed and made, and happy everyone returned home safely.
    I am currently planning my next cruise vacation and it will be with Carnival for sure. I can only hope it will be on the one you are directing.

  110. I am so glad I chose Carnival to take me and my family on our 1st cruise. Seeing what you and the Splendor crew did in adversity I feel 100 percent safe that we will be in the best hands in the business. I will be on the Valor in April. Thanks for a great read and so glad you are back home safe with your family.

  111. Steve O says:

    Dear John,

    Thank you so much for your amazing story of what really happened. You are such an terrific man, so kind and generous always…..not to mention BRILLIANTLY funny.

    It’s been nice to read that so many of the Carnival Splendor’s guests mentioned YOU and how much they depended on your announcements and your humour (spelt correctly, according to you).

    Section by section this story made me go from tears to laughs and back again. You may have missed “your true calling”…..perhaps you should be a writer? Though I would not like thinking that I couldn’t cruise with you again.

    I’m certainly looking forward to BC4. Can’t wait to see you…….and yes, I will probably give you a big hug 🙂

    A big “hello” to Heidi and Kye. I know they’re super happy that you got home to them ahead of schedule.

    See you on February 27th,
    Your old mate,
    Steve O

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  113. Jennifer says:

    I am a fan, a new one at that. You are pretty amazing. I love your candor, wit and, well, pretty much everything else that i have seen about you. I hope i have the occasion to meet and sail with you someday. Keep up the good work.

  114. Svetlana says:

    Thanks, John, for all the truth.As Ex-CCL member i felt so lucky, as this could have happened to any of us. I’m glad its all over for all the crew and guests.
    I had no doubts that Carnival would take care of all the guests, what about crew,those who are on gratuities, will Carnival take care of them, as they did a lot for Carnival to be proud of them???
    thanks once again for your story. Hope you or anybody else will not have to experience it again!!!!

  115. sue says:

    We were on the Splender the week before and enjoyed every minute of it. From you, John, to the crew, captain, food and Carnival. We assumed that you all could not do any better, well you did. From your blogs to all the reponses. We cannot wait til our next cruise in 2011 and hopefully with Splendor and you as CD.

  116. Doug Alden says:


    Thank you for sharing your story. I worked for Carnival briefly a few years ago and had always heard that you were the best CD that they had. I think this blog and how you were able to keep the guests as well as the crew as calm as possible proves that you really are the best there is! Since my time working there I’ve taken a couple more cruises on Carnival and will be doing another one or two next year. Do you know your schedule for the 2nd half of next year yet? I’m really hoping that I can arrange my schedule to get on a cruise that you’re on.

    I only became aware of your blog a few days ago because of this incident, but I’m definitely planning on being a regular reader now – I’m hooked!

    All my best and I hope you enjoy your precious time at home.

  117. Jeff says:


    I raced home today to be able to read the last segmant of your story. You truly are a hero!! I have been on 2 carnival cruises and recently went on my first NCL cruise. I will enjoy my 40th birthday on the Carnival Dream the week of June 11th, 2011. I can only hope that you will be the Cruise Director on that trip because I would love to shake the hand of a true hero. Enjoy some time off because you have earned it.

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  119. KJune says:

    Bravo John, Carnival and the wonderful crew of the Splendor! I think you all did a great job under trying times! It’s an experience that I’m sure you will never forget, but never want to repeat! This is why Carnival gets my business!

  120. Linda Hernacki says:

    John, Thank you for telling your story, I am sure 99% of those passengers appreciated your complete honesty in this situation. There will always be the 1% that will b_ t _ h and moan about their life threatening cruise! Job well done John! You are truly our hero along with the rest of the Carnival staff, and crew. God Bless you all. So, one question if the SPAM wasn’t served what will Carnival do with it now? Donate it I hope? You get lots of rest, and enjoy your stay with your girls! Post some pictures of the 3 of you or a video on the blog. Your friends from Florida, Linda & Mike

  121. Calicruising says:

    Oh John.. you are amazing and truly a treasure! As I sit here crying and then laughing from how and what you write and express yourself, I find myself lucky to have found your blog prior to this Adventure because I knew what kind of a man you were. The excitement that you felt when Kye came into this world and how you would tell us everything that was going on. I really looked forward to reading then, but this blog thingy about the Splendor deserves a prize. How you handled the situation on the ship, with the passengers and crew and even while you were messing your pants and not sleeping, you were there for everyone on the ship and they knew it. I know that you will never forget the Carnival Splendor’s “Smoke on the Water” cruise, but know that the guests, their friends, their families and all of us that read your blog thingy will never forget YOU and all that you gave to the situation:) Thank you for remembering us and writing this so that we felt that we were there with you and trying to support you too.
    We love you John. Take it easy and enjoy your girls.
    I hope to someday sail with you…and I will be happy to rub that belly of yours:)


  122. Stacy says:

    hi there,
    I had been on the Splendor back in Feb for my 30th birthday. And it was my first cruise ever! I was so saddened to hear of what happened to the Splendor (which I refer to as “my ship” lol) on its latest voyage. I still upon reading your blogs John, cannot even imagine what you all went through. I know first hand the crew of the Splendor are all absolutly amazing people, and this just proves it! Carnival did an above and beyond thing about giving all passengers there monies back in full as well as future trip and airfare home. My mom works for and even she was WOW’d by the customer service of carnival. We all know things can go wrong on a cruise and they couldve said oh well it was an accident and not done anything about it. But they didnt! Bravo to Carnival! I cant wait to cruise with them again!
    Oh and John some words of encouragement; brittish accents are hot! Use that to your advantage 😉


  123. Joesph Kyle says:

    John, this was a truly wonderful, sincere and honest depiction of a very serious situation. Any of us that have had the honor of sailing with you can actually picture you doing and saying what you did. You have a gift of expressing the obvious using your great since of humor, even under bad circumstances.

    Your praises for the Captain and the entire crew is well deserved! I am sorry for the first time cruiser who may never take the opportunity to enjoy the FUN of sailing on another Carnival Cruise. Carnival really did go above and beyond industry standards to try and compensate folks for a very difficult time, but I would not have expected anything less of Carnival. There is a reason I and so many others are platinum members.

    I do think you need to put a picture of Ketut on the blog as well as whichever room steward is having to clean your cabin in the future as a reminder how hard these folks work for each of us when we are on our cruises. They are just part of the unseen heroes on board that really work hard to make a fantastic impression.

  124. judy says:

    This is why we always cruise on Carnival. Its people like you and I guess everyone else who was working on that ship who make folks like us come back time and time again. Thanks. I really enjoyed reading everything you had to say.

  125. Wanda Montgomery says:

    Hats off to you, John. I’d say you did a wonderful job in such a time of crisis. My husband and I both enjoyed our very first cruise with Carnival in June of this year and fully intend to do it again. You’re wit and charm made your blog a pleasant and totally enjoyable read.
    I look forward to more of your blogs.
    It just goes to show what a wonderful captain and crew Carnival has and how well everyone works together.

  126. Tana says:

    John as I was reading my eyes were filling with tears.. Thank you for sharing this story I so wish it could be read by everyone. I saw all the negative things on the news and all I kept thinking was I know the crew will do everything possible to take care of their guests. And by your account they went above and beyond!!! I have cruised carnival 4 times before and I am planning number 5 next year…can’t wait to get to 10! Thanks again for sharing and Kudos to you and the crew!!!

  127. Captain Bob says:


    Outstanding job telling the story for those who were not there. You could turn this into a book ….or movie. I think there will be a lot of lessons learned from this for the whole industry once they figure out what set off this chain reaction.

  128. Boston Kat says:

    Thanks John! Your account of the events is fascinating. It is amazing under extreme circumstances how resourceful and selfless people become. Hats off to you and the crew!

  129. Kelly says:


    Thanks for sharing your experience. It is a breath of fresh air to hear the real story and not the stuff the media feeds you. Glad to hear that out of everything that everyone endured on the Carnival Splendor that everyone remained safe.

  130. Debbi Walker says:

    I got to get to know about you and your humor during our cruise on the Splendor the week prior to this one. Don’t know but maybe we broke the ship with all the fun we were having??? Anyway, after sailing with you and the crew just the week prior I know that the crew were awsome people. I starting reading your blogs because of our cruise and now with “Smoke on the Water” I am a total fan. Wish I could go on the bloggers cruise. Three of the four cruises we’ve gone on were on the Glory. I think Carnival did a wonderful job dealing with such a hard situation. Was it all done perfectly? I’m sure not but how can you plan for this type of situation without having gone through it before. John you and the crew have set the bar.
    Thank you!

  131. Mary C says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you John!!!!!!!!

  132. Karin says:

    Hello John,

    What a story and so well written. I have cruised Carnival over5 times we have been on 40 plus cruises total, and just last week booked a 2 week cruise on Princess Grand Princess, and are leaving on Dec 4th for NCL to Mexico and Jan 2 to Southern Caribbean on Grand Princess. I give you my stats for the sole purpose of giving credibility to my post. I have never seen harder workers than on a ship! Bar none. On my Carnival cruises we had a great time and wonderful crew..It is a monumental job to keep things flowing smoothly on a ship!

    Your crew and staff are some of the nicest best trained I have ever sailed with! KUDOS to Carnival for handling a horrific situation with class and grace. The most important thing people tend to forget is that the ” safety ” of the guest is the “premier ” job of the cruise lines and their crew! That is their first concern. And Carnival did that!

    In my opinion the people were well compensated!!! And believe me not all cruise lines would have been so generous!

    How wonderful to rad what actually happened in true form, it was like we were there with you.we were on the Glory when she got stuck in Mexico, due to the tide….We did have a balcony!!! We missed our flight and spent another day at seas getting back. The crew did what they had to… We did not get any compensation for lost flights, higher flight cost on way home or reimbursement for a hotel due to fact we were stranded. We didn’t expect anything! They fed us took care of us and handled it all very well.

    When you travel you go with the flow! We have had worse done to us by the airlines! I get really mad at people who comment and have no idea what they are talking about!

    We again will cruise with Carnival when our schedule allows. Hope to see you on board!

    Blessings to you and the crew, and thank you to god for keeping you all save!

  133. Gerry says:

    John, Job well done.I been on many cruises Carnival mostly. I was on a cruise about 10 years ago witch you were CD. I never laugh so much at your jokes it brought tears to my eyes. After reading your Blog once again so funny. I know the Splender mishap was not something to laugh at. But you and all crew did a great job, also Chihuahua, Coast Gaurd , Navy.Looking forward to seeing you again some day. THANK YOU!

  134. Peggy Lindsay Brousseau says:

    John, I am so proud of you and your crew for all you did for everyone on the Carnival Splendor…Thank you for sharing your experiences…God bless you all. Many people who know Gene and I cruise only on Carnival have asked about the situation. Many are now reading your blog. Thoughts and good wishes to you and yours. I am proud of Carnival for all they did. You need not worry about what you could or should have said, you will always be my favorite cruise director & Ifrom what you have wr itten your sincere love for what you do came through for you on the Carnival Splendor.
    ( We last saw you on the Carnival Dream.You made our Carnival Dream Blogger Cruise last December wonderful…great memories) Love and Congratulations for a job well done during a difficult time!!!! Peggy

  135. John ~
    Thank you for sharing your amazing story. My husband and I were on the Splendor in August and had a wonderful cruise, you must have come to the Splendor sometime after that. I do hope to have the pleasure of a cruise when you are the cruise director. Your words tell me what a compassionate man you are and it would be a such a great cruise to be on your ship. I would like to know how to find out what ship you are sailing when it is time to book our next cruise (and there will be many more Carnival cruises because after reading all of your blogs no one does it better than Carnival).
    Thank you again for sharing such raw emotion and courage in your final chapter.
    Happy Cruising, hope to meet you someday.
    Patty Chandler

  136. Paul says:

    This was a great series of blogs giving us what happened from your viewpoint. It was very inspiring to read. In fact I think it should be required reading for all Carnival employees if not all employees of every cruise line. I feel much safer knowing that my safey on a cruise ship is the hands of such capable people. (By The way I was surprised that the tug Chihuahua was named for the little dog. I would have thought it would have been named for the state or city – both of which were huge in Mexican history… just as the tug played a huge role in the rescue.)

  137. Ken Wilson says:

    What a wonderful first hand account. I am so happy to have the full story. That should shut up some of the facebook haters 😉

  138. Cheryl Killian says:

    There has been so much praise for you, the captain and crew of the Carnival Splendor that it is hard to find words to add much more. A job well done by anyone’s standard. Your quick wit in any situation is truly a gift that is so valuable in your position and makes you quite an asset to Carnival. You could tell Gerry that your reward for doing such a great job in a horrible situation would be to present you with your beloved Aston Martin!

    Hats off the Gerry Cahill for letting you write the events as they were..the good, the bad and the ugly. It is rare anymore that a any corporation steps up to the plate and goes above and beyond what is expected of them. Carnival hit a home run here I believe. Just evidenced by the number of views you noted, people really do want to know the truth. I do hope that Carnival does something equally as nice for the crew who endured so much.

    Best quip: John to Captain: “It’s a stool sample”
    I think we could all picture the Captain’s smile as you described it and in turn the relaxing of the terribly tense muscles he must have had for so many hours. Well done Captain & well done John!

    Crew member who deserves a medal: Chief Mario
    Without him, things would have been so much worse

    I was so sad thinking of the beautiful Carnival Splendor being so disabled. I spent more days on her than any other Carnival ship and the first cruise I took my grandchildren on so it holds a special place in my heart. I look forward to seeing her back to normal operations soon.

    Enjoy your much deserved time with your girls.


  139. Tim Martin says:

    You are a credit to your profession. Cruise Directors get a bad rep and, as entertainers, some have earned it. Your entries over the last few days have cast your job in a new, serious light. It seems like all fun and games. Even on a normal day, making it seem like fun and games is a ton of work. You have demonstrated that it is so much more. Thank you for your openness and good humor (spelled correctly).

  140. Harvey Greck says:


  141. Ashley says:


    If you handled the situation on board anything like how you handle your blog (talk as you write) – I am sure you achieved what you are uncertain of.

    After reading about the guy who wanted to wait to see what was in Mexico – well – those are normally the people who never buy or if they do its the $200 ring that looks like the 5k ring! 🙂 So – they get what they would have went home with anyways – nothing!

    Well – I am a half way to platnium cruiser and on my next cruise I will make sure I buy everything on day 1 for that “just in case” factor.

    I had a friend that sailed with you a couple months back and said you were one of the highlights of the trip. I only hope that some day I will have that priveledge.

    I took the Splendor when she was detoured to Canada (we booked last minute for an absolute AWESOME deal!) — I hope for her speedy recovery.

    Sincerely a forever Carnivallian,

  142. Derrick says:

    This hasn’t turned me off from crusing with Carnival at all. Things happen, but it is how we react to those things that define us. You and your crew are shining examples of all the good things people look for when crusing. Excellent work John!

  143. Cheryl Killian says:

    Oops, I forgot that you had mentioned flashlights and I saw a guest interviewed who said that her only complaint was that the cabins didn’t have flashlights. News flash…hotel rooms don’t have them either.

    Travel safety is something that is also the responsibility of the traveler whether it’s on a ship, excursion or hotel. I always travel with a flashlight and keep it next to my bed in the cabin or hotel room. Another ritual is to count the number of hotel or cabin doors to the stairwell. Just part of precautions for someone that travels frequently for both business and pleasure.

  144. Catherine Jarr says:

    I have followed all of the Splendor Reports and news stories from day one. Have read all of the “Smoke on the Water” blogs as well. All I can say is, God Bless You, the Crew and all at Carnival.

    You are my Friend,

  145. Beth Rivers says:


    When I heard about the Splendor on the the news, the only thing that came to my mind was “please God, let it be John out there with those people”, and indeed it was! We have cruised with Carnival 10 times – our first cruise with you on the Sensation so long ago. Whether those guests on the Splendor knew of you before they arrived or learned of you as you all went through this incredible experience together, they all now know what so many of us already knew – YOU, sir are the best! It has always been easy to see that you are so much more then the guy who tells a great bedtime story and makes people laugh until it hurts. Your true colors and true value to Carnival have now been fully revealed! Those 4 days would NOT have gone so smoothly without you. ASK FOR A RAISE – whatever they are paying you, it isn’t enough!!! God bless you, John and Heidi and Kye.

  146. Can'twaittocruiseagain says:


    What an incredible story. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing the details with us. You have a great gift for writing. I look forward to new blogs everyday. I hope to cruise with you someday and shake your hand. You did an incredible job with this emergency.


  147. John H says:

    John – Your reporting was absolutely brilliant. Thanks for all the information and for a job well done. We are all looking forward to your pictures from the cruise.

  148. Jennifer Weston says:

    Thank you so much for all the blog updates. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog daily, but was even more appreciative that you and your partners kept us up to date during those trying days. I had the pleasure of having you as my CD on my very first cruise in 2003 on the Triumph. I loved your personality and your humor then, but even more so now after seeing how you took the passengers and crew under your wing, and went above and beyond to make sure that their needs were met, and that everyone was kept safe and informed. I know that Carnival surely thanked you, but you will never know just how much you mean to us “cruisers”. Keep up the good work, but most of all….just continue to be yourself John. We love you just the way you are!

  149. Mike says:

    Reading Today that Splendor will be out of action till mid January. A great shame to lose such a wonderful ship even if it’s just for a few months.

    John, I reckon you should stay on Splendor for another stint as a sort of goodwill ambassador. Help her back on her way.

  150. Ruth says:

    I had the pleasure of sailing on the Carnival Splendor last summer, as with any of Carnivals cruise ships the crew is amazing under normal sailing conditions. I don’t have any trouble seeing them arising to this difficult situation with smiles on their faces. I have only ever cruised on Carnival and I can’t wait to cruise again with them. I know as difficult as this situation was everyone was taken care of and safe. Thank you Carnival for proving once again why you are an industry leader.

  151. Jackie Triguero says:

    I am sure you getting soooo many messages, so I will keep this brief and to the point: THANK YOU!! You are amazing! You are a gift, and someone I hope to have the opportunity to meet in person someday!!! (Sailing the Dream President’s Week…..any any any chance you might be with us????)
    Thank you again for all that you did, and for your amazing account of what happened on the ship. Enjoy the time with your family!!! xo

  152. The Flying Dutchman says:


    Bravo! You and the exceptional crew of the Carnival Splendor did a most phenomenal job during that very challenging time.

    Much appreciation for accurately and humbly recounting this ordeal and for dispelling many of the mis-truths which that media loved to propagate! The huge amount of traffic to your Blog Thingy again shows the tremendous value that you bring to CCL. Carnival is very fortunate to have such an exceptional senior cruise director in their employ.

    Tongue-tied and twisted just an earth-bound misfit…
    The Flying Dutchman

  153. Sara says:

    I was on the cruise ship with my sister the week before and reading John’s blog brought tears of laughter for me as well as feelings of pride. My daughter served on an aircraft carrier and I know how seriously they take their job whether it’s nearby or overseas. Go Navy!! My sister and I enjoyed our cruise and the best part wasn’t visiting the ports but meeting and interacting with the crew every day in the room, dining area, casino and even the shows – and especially with John who made us laugh until we cried with every show he directed. I am very proud to say that the same crew that took care of us in the best of scenarios took care of the next group in the worst of scenarios. Good job all and we are already planning our next cruise – hopefully with John as our cruise director again.

  154. LambKnuckles says:


    BRILLIANT!!! Your honesty. Your vulnerability. Your saga!!!

    THANK YOU!!! How wonderful it happened with the crew as skilled and trained and rehearsed as they are!! But I know this would be the case on EACH and EVERY Carnival Cruise!!!

    Bless you and CARNIVAL!!!

  155. BrendaAgain says:

    You know, you are a hero to lots of people. I can almost see you in your hero suit…tights, cod piece, hero decal across your chest, maybe a cape, and something for your head…oh, something like a mask or flashy whale tale hat maybe. But now on a serious note…you truly are a hero of sorts and YOU ROCK!!

  156. Waiting4acruise says:


    I want to thank the Splendor crew for all their hardwork they did during this ordeal.

  157. Mona says:

    Thank you John for sharing your experience. So many people were closely watching & praying for you all every step of the way. A friend of mine was in San Diego whey the Splendor arrived. She is not a cruiser and I will say she can be very critical & I fear one of the big complainers had she been on the ship. She told me that she didn’t hear any negatives from passengers who many shared a hotel with them Thursday night. She said they told their stories but only had the good things to say about how Carnival handled everything.
    I do hope that one day my friends and I will be able to sail with you. We will be aboard the Carnival Miracle on Dec 5th. & I think I will have an extra thank you for each and every one of the Staff and Crew.
    Thanks again John & Carnival for keeping everyone safe and getting everyone home & thanks for telling us all how it was.

  158. John –

    As always, the crew of any Carnival ship deserves kudos – but this crew deserves KUDOS for the great job that they performed.

    Some of your imagery in unimaginable – for example, the dancer carrying the luggage. I presume, for a moment, that this dancer is female and, knowing the dancers as I do (I am observant), she probably weighed less than the suitcases she was carrying.

    A human chain to the Lido deck to get the food to the passengers – what a picture.

    There is only one description for this crew and its fine leadership – PRICELESS.


  159. Beverly says:

    Thanks so much for taking the time to write the Splendor story……as I always say, you are the best! Enjoy your time home…….

  160. Jeff Branson says:

    I started reading your blog about the “spamship interprize” and I got engulfed. I couldn’t wait for part 2 and 3 and so forth. You really cracked me up and I truly enjoyed reading it. My wife and I went on our first cruise 3yrs ago and we have been on one every year since. We both really enjoy cruising and this event hasn’t changed our mind to go back next year. I would really like to go on one where you are the Cruise Director. How do I know which ship you are going to be on? We usually go around May or September. We like to go before school lets out or after it starts. We love and have grandkids of our own, but enjoy the peace and quiet from time to time. I am sure you understand that. Anyway, Just wanted to say thanks and I am glad everyone is ok. P.S. I don’t put much stock in the news broadcast and what they have to say, People here in American think that if it is on the news, It haaas to be true. To my knowledge this is the first time this has happened on Carnival and I am sure through it all they will be able to be more prepared next time for such an event, But it sounds like you all did an outstanding job. Can’t wait to sail on Carnival again.

  161. Ann says:

    Since my family and I sailed with you I have thought you were the best but now I know you are the best.
    with deep respect

  162. Kelly Caruso says:

    The Carnival Splendor fire has resulted in a cancellation of our Dec 19 cruise. The company is offering a full refund and 25% off next cruise but will not move us to the Spirit cruise that has open rooms and sails the same time/same place without us paying an extra $800. Prices have nayurally gone up since we first booked in June but you would think they would honour our booking and just move us to a different ship since the availablility is there. Very disappointed in the customer service.

  163. Bob says:

    Who could have written these blogs in such a professional and interesting way better than you. No one. You have succeeded beyond any and all expectations in communicating these tension filled hours. It is easy to feel a huge degree of comfort understanding how everyone from the Captain to the 1200 crew who stepped up to the challenge and performed flawlessly. We sail on the DESTINY in 2 weeks, (our 5th CCL cruise) and for sure we will appreciate Carnival and all its crew for everything and I mean everything. You are the best John and you and the crew deserve a huge commendation for a job well done.

  164. Jeanette says:

    John, please, no sandwiches on the BC4….I want BURGERS!!! yes, burgers….

    Excellent conclusion, and to the man who bought the Tag watch, well, he is one happy Camper and I am sure, deispite this incident, Carnival willb e his cruiseline of choice as he checks the time on his beautiful Tag watch….

  165. Ray McTeague says:

    Dear John,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for being you, for delivering what we who know you to be an honest account. Been with you since a Destiny sail in 2000, many more since, know your sincere, serious and heartfelt humour helped all those Carnival Splendor guests…during this adventure many onboard didn’t know they were sailing with the very best, they’ll over time reflect and come to realize WOW what a great ending to a very challenging few days.

    And Thank You, Thank You, Thank You to all the CREW of the Carnival Splendor who rose well above, you are all the unswung heros in what promises to be a lasting memory.

    Cheers and THANK YOU!

    Ray & Deb

  166. Maureen Powers says:


    I really think you should board the Dream on Nov 27 and have a relaxing holiday. I couldn’t wait to read your blog even after working 12 hours. Great writing:)

  167. Theresa from NJ says:

    Hi John,

    Just wanted to let you know I was on the Dream the same time this was happening with the Splendor. It was shown on the big screen on CNN what was going on. When the crew was asked, they replied very caring and professionaly about your situation. Also, they shared their concern about the ships wellfare and were always telling guests that they were very grateful that there were no injurys.

    Just stating that Carnival has a very caring and professional staff across the entire fleet. Hats off to all the crew on all the ships.

    I will return sometime later to let you know how our Dream cruise was.

    Take care and God bless,
    Theresa from NJ

  168. gina says:

    All i can say is simply amazing! i have cruised Royal Caribbean, Disney and Carnival and i can say have had some mixed feeling about Carnival until know. i know they definently know how to take care of their customers and with that said i will be cruising again. I am so sad i have never had the pleasure to meet you John as i was on the Jan 08 Sailing on the Freedom and you had just left the ship. Maybe when you are back in Florida i might book a cruise with you. To all the people on the Spleandor I know this was probably a dream cruise that many looked forward to because our 7 night southern caribbean we went on was booked almost 1 yr out. but you definently seem like you were in good hands and well taken care of. John i really enjoy your blogs and keep telling my wife when we get a bit older we are going to take one of your blog cruises. Enjoy your time off and the time spent with your family.

  169. Donna says:

    I just want to say Thank You! Even as upset as my mom was, she had such praise for you and your crew! I am 1 of a large family and we were all “crazed” during this rough week, worried about my mother and her friends. Even though we knew she was safe, we knew she was dealing with a very difficult situation. When we were finally able to speak to her it was such a relief and we were grateful she was on a ship with such a wondrful crew!

  170. Girldic says:

    Dear John

    That was an incredible story. You deserve some real time off with your family. Enjoy them and for just a few days don’t worry about us fans! We’ve got to start thinking about our trip ‘home’ to the Carnival Miracle in a couple of weeks and can’t wait to get there!!

  171. Lizzie says:

    Hi John –
    Reply if you would like.

    I’m a first time writer to you!

    First and foremost, I wanted to commend you, the crew, and Carnival for an excellent job during this unfortunate circumstance. I’m so happy and proud to be a loyal Carnival cruiser and will not hesitate to book another cruise with Carnival.

    I just recently started reading your blog about a month or 2 ago and I am HOOKED! I love your sense of humo(u)r, your wit, and your stories. You make me feel as if I am right there on the cruise with you! I happened to be on the December 3rd sailing of the Carnival Dream which was my and my (then new) husband’s honeymoon – 9 days of amazingness. It was seriously the best vacation I have ever had! Turns out you were there as well on the blogger’s cruise! If only I had known about this blog back then! Well, I was bored last night and decided to read your blog entries for each of the 9 days that we were with you on the Carnival Dream. As I reached the bottom of your post on December 8, 2009, I noticed you had posted some pictures just below Captain Scala’s post (wow I just said post a lot!) of the ship and as I looked closely at the 3rd picture (of the whirlpool off the lanai) I noticed – 2 of the people in the whirlpool are me and my husband! I showed that to him and he was like – hey that’s us! I feel famous!

    Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough. Unfortunately we do not have any cruises booked at the moment. The husband was recently laid off, just before our Labor Day Weekend cruise aboard the Carnival Miracle (another fantastic time!!), so we’ll have to live with those memories as well as those of the Carnival Dream last December until we can afford another cruise. Hopefully it will be with you and you can bet your underpants that it will be on a Carnival Ship!

    Thanks for all you do!

  172. Helene Barnes says:

    I have never read your blog before and I must say I will be from now on a HUGE FAN. You write brillantly. As for the way this went down and the way Carnival handled the situation all I can say is BRAVO. I have cruised many times with Carnival and I will never cruise with another line. Our family is booked on Splendour for October of 2011 and we are looking forwarded to it. We know we will have a great time and now I also know that if an emergency does arrive my family will also be well taken care of. TY to the entire Splendour crew for taking such good care of your guests in what must have been a horendous situation. God Bless all of you!

  173. Andy Andreasen says:

    John, we have been cancelled from our 11/28 sailing but my wife and I look forward to rebooking on the Splendor. could you give us an idea when you will be back for a season? (prefeably a warm one) Carnival has earned our loyalty on this one — i am a quality manager and i Carnival has responded in a quality way during and after the entire incident.

  174. Simon says:

    Hi John

    I am a, of the seas cruiser, and while I have not yet sailed Carnival am interested in all things concerning cruising. I have been rading your blog for a while and watched lots of youtube videos showing your antics as CD. We have been considering Carnival for a while now, it’s difficult to stray from something you have done 30+ times and try something new, but following your blog and watching youtube had us close to booking. Having read reports from Splendor passengers and your blog we are now 100% going to give Carnival a try, the way you and the company have been so forthcoming with information etc about the problems on Splendor, which by he way should be SPLENDOUR!! has really convinced us. From one brit to another…Cheers mate, hope to sail with you soon

  175. Mike T says:

    Thank you so much for your detailed account of the events. For those of us not there, your writing style and candor go a long way to helping understand what really happened.

    I must admit that while I’m definitely not a Carnival cruiser (I prefer Celebrity and Cunard), seeing what you as an employee and Carnival as a company did for the customers on this cruise does make me a bit jealous. When Celebrity’s Century pulled up with gimpy rudders, Celebrity gave the passengers one night to gtfo, offered one night of accommodations, and little else. While circumstances were definitely different, being laid up in port versus hundreds of miles out at sea, I would like to think that it was corporate responsibility, not bad press damage control, that drove the outstanding response.

    ALL of the other cruise lines can learn lessons from you and from Carnival about how to do right by the customer, even in a difficult situation.

  176. Sheri Meigs says:

    My family is going on Carnival Conquest in April and we are so pleased that Carnival has such wonderful staff to take care of us and keep us safe. That’s what is most important, isn’t it? Not all the comps although they are generous and inspiring! I have no doubt the cruise will be the best and have full confidence in my safety being a top priority! Thanks, John, for telling your story!

  177. cruise lover says:

    The handling of this situation makes me proud to be platinum. Way to go all crew. John, you did a great job with what you had to deal with. You should be proud.

  178. Marivonne says:

    Dear John.. you have the amazing ability to make someone cry and laugh at the same time. You, Capt Cupisti and your crew did a wonderful job keeping everybody safe and sound, and at the same time in good spirits. Then Carnival response and compensation was more than fair, and most important, there was no bragging,, they did what they thought it was fair.
    Please enjoy these next day with your family and then again enjoy the Holidays with them, and rest, take care of yourself and charge batteries.. and may the New Year bring you many blessings and good moments so you can share them with us through your musings. We are your friends, we love you and we will always be here for you.
    Marivonne Diaz

  179. Debi says:

    John – We are loyal Carnival Cruisers and will remain so mainly based on the way that Carnival handed a very difficult and stressful situation.

    We were not on the cruise however, if we ever are stranded at sea; I do hope to have you as the CD!

    Thanks for sharing your experience

  180. Charlotte C says:

    John, , We were on the cruise. You rose to the occasion magnificently and your leadership skills shone. You were our Voice of Authority, and even those of us who are used to snapping to and taking charge sat by, eagerly awaiting your next update and instruction. You had us all in the palm of your hand.

    Believe me, your humor was appreciated, and your exhaustion & emotions were not evident. When you told us that you would never lie to us and that you would report news to us as soon as you learned about it on the bridge, you earned our complete trust and we would have done anything you asked.

    The one thing I has mpt been mentioned is your impeccable timing. I laughed when the NBC Evening News showed the ship coming in, decks filled with passengers clapping and cheering wildly; the reporter saying this was how happy we were to be back. Little did he know that not once, but three times, you asked us, just aat that time, to show our thanks to the Coast Guard, to the Captain and to the crew. Of course we clapped and cheered wildly!

    Again, I’ll close with the ending to the lengthy writeup I posted on Cruise Critic from these two passengers’ perspectives, “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, and we’ve already taken up the offer and booked our free cruise, same time next year. 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 & Charlotte Craven

    • mary & gary says:

      Mike and Charlotte what a wonderful review you had on Cruise Critic. I printed it out and it made me laugh and cry, THANK YOU. You gave a very special review.

  181. Sue says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write this blog informing all of us who were not on the Splendor, what was really going on. I am so happy that everyone is safe. I love Carnival, I have sailed 3 times with this wonderful cruise line, and I can’t wait to book my next cruise. Enjoy your time off!

    May God Bless you my friend.

  182. Jill Fritz says:

    WOW!!! And people ask me why I won’t ever try another line after 16 cruises with Carnival and three more booked???? I think this makes it obvious. There is no other line that would take care of their guests in this manner. God bless each and every one of the Carnival Splendor crew! Thank you!!

  183. Patrick says:


    Kudo’s to you and the Splendor crew. I cruised Splendor last year to Canada and this past March to Mexico. You guys did a fantastic job on both of those cruises and reading your blog, the crew stepped up during this event.

  184. Anne says:

    Wonderful blog John..its obvious you did a great deal to help a very bad situation.

    But John, the good things you and the crew did are lost in your usual sexual talk and juvenile hygene references. That sort of thing, from a man your age, takes away from the true good you and the staff did.

    I hope Carnival will reimburse the US Navy for all they did.


    • Bill Heck says:

      What did the Navy do that cost any extra money? I mean they steam around, fly missions every day. They were able to help several thousand AMERICANS in need. Are you thinking the Reagan can be a profit center?

      Do you think the police should send a bill to a stranded motorist for calling a wrecker or ambulance?

      I prefer this use of the carrier over blasting villages into the stone age. Whoops, got carried away there, sorry.

  185. David Krampp-Jameson says:

    John, I was a “blog virgin” until now! Thank you for being my first! I feel like I was there with you and everyone else while reading your most excellent description of happenings. It was a pleasure to hear the “real” side of this story rather than the media based fairy tales that we are exposed to on a daily basis.
    I am curious why they didn’t have a “pee” stations for men to just urinate overboard and save the toilets for women and children. Might sound odd but just my first reaction without knowing the legalities of the sailing.
    I look forward to seeing the photos on future blogs.

  186. Judy Weber says:

    WOW!! Loved your story. I have sailed on Carnival a few times before, my favorite The Valor, I just can’t imagine all you and your crew have been through. I don’t know what I would of done. Yes, been angry, scared, cried. I’m just not sure, and then hoping the next one is a little better.

    I know that I don’t know you and you don’t know me, (hi, My name is Judy, nice meeting you ) but after hearing everything you did, I will be taking a cruise with you someday.

    You wrote a fantastic story. I think you should continue and write a book. I would, and I know alot of others would purchase this book. I encourage you to do this. Your words are very inspirational. You made me worry, cry, laugh, but most of all feel safe.

    You are great!! Take Care and hope everything in your life is the best from here on out!!


  187. Troy Fischer says:

    Hello John,
    Thank you for what you have written. My family of 4 was on that cruise with you, and it was refreshing to get a behind the scenes look at what was going on in the heads of those on the bridge. (wish I could have been on the bridge when you gave the captain that stool sample) I personally feel you did a perfect job. The tea-pee joke may have been a little much, but I did laugh as I did at much of the humor you mixed in. I returned to Las Vegas to read articles in my local paper speaking of a “black market” among passengers, a lack of food, and probably the most disturbing, poor treatment by the crew. I wrote a letter to the editor (which was never printed) detailing why what they had printed was simply rubbish. (maybe why it was never printed?) I can’t imagine a crew from the newest employee on up to the captain doing anything more with what they had to work with. I am already looking for my next cruise. Thank you for keeping 4500 people calm and informed in a situation that could have gotten out of hand.

    Troy Fischer
    Las Vegas

  188. Sean B says:

    First off, well done to the crew great job John, the captain and the entire crew.



    John, I know you will probably never see this comment and this isn’t your fault but my god….How does Carnival go from handling this situation so well to then sticking it to customers like that. My god, as Brand Ambassador you must really feel ashamed for the actions of some little beard wearing bean counter hiding in a corner office at Carnival HQ. Disgusting.

    • Big Ed says:

      I bet the cruise that was cancelled and you are comparing this new price to was booked way back and maybe even with a Early Booking Discount. So you are comparing apples to oranges. I bet if you tried to book a cruise on the Splendor at the same time next year the price would almost be the same.

      BIG Ed

    • Bill Cassidy says:

      Carnival Corporate Address is: Carnival Place.
      3655 NW 87 Avenue Miami Fl 33178-2428

  189. Jena Jennings says:

    The part about the crew giving the kids medals and trophies as a “brave Award” totally made me tear up. Kudos to the crew for an Amazing job!!!!

  190. John Scott says:


    Thank you for sharing your experiences with the world while you were aboard the Carnival Splendor. Your story was most inspiring and demonstrates how well you the rest of the crew of the Carnival Splendor performed as a team under many stressful situations that you had little to no control of. I have sailed with Carnival six times so far, and have all great experiences. Carnival demonstrated through there actions that they have guests not just customers.

  191. donna says:

    Great job. Fascinating reading. Best of luck to you.

  192. retirementman says:

    My compliments to you John, Captain Cupisti, his officers, the entire crew and Carnival. You all handled this situation with strength and determination. Carnival has shown that they care for the people that cruise with you. Compliments to you all. To the people on board, sorry for your cruise but I commend you all for the way you handled the situation and caring for all the crew of Carnival. Suddenly all of you, the crew, the officers and the guests were thrust upon a situation and became a true family. Congratulations to you all.

    Paul F. Pietrangelo

  193. Caryn says:

    John: Bravo to you and the entire crew!

  194. Chris says:

    I also noticed the media were trying to get people to say what a horrible experience it was and to basically badmouth Carnival. But they would not do it.

    After reading your account and the accounts of others, I am even more convinced to cruise with Carnival. I’ve been on one Carnival cruise and have another booked. People who know have been teasing us and asking if we like SPAM (we don’t). We just tell them that even though chances of something like that happening are really slim, if it did, we would get through it. Especially if the crew on all your ships are as fine as the ones on Carnival Splendor.

    Thank you for your account and we look forward to our next Carnival cruise (33 days!!)

  195. James (from MN) says:


    Again, I believe that this ship was blessed to have you serving as Cruise Director! Your wit and humour, your dedication to your passengers, your ship and to Carnival, made you the perfect CD to make what MIGHT have become a “cruise from hell,” into a much better experience than it could have easily become! And because you take the time to update your loyal fans with “what really happened,” we are all left with an even more positive impression of the professionalism and excellence of Carnival crew members at all levels!

    Thank you for all that you do, and I hope that you realize the impact that you have on the thousands and thousands of cruise passengers that you interact with, including those whose faces you never even see! And thanks to Heidi and Kye for sharing such a wonderful man with us all, on cruises and here on the internet!

    I look forward to enjoying your continued adventures on “this blog thingy,” and to joining a cruise with you as CD in early 2011!

    Your friend,
    James (from MN)

  196. Lizz says:

    Bravo John to you, the Captain and crew of the Carnival Splendor and thank you for sharing your “John’s Eye View” of the November 7, 2010 sailing.

    I’ll be on board January 16, 2011. See you then!

  197. Sandra says:


    You are the best! Thank you for sharing your experience with us. With you as CD I would always feel safe and protected. Carnival and all of the employees are always looking out for their customers that is why we love you so much. Best to Heidi and Kye. I know they are happy to have you home for a few days. Get some much needed rest my friend.

  198. Is a very exciting experience. The boat in the sea.

  199. LadyJag (Laura) says:

    Dear John,
    What can I say? Your story brought tears to my eyes.
    Thank you for sharing and for your honesty.
    Now get some rest! 😉

  200. Marianne says:

    As I have said on carnival posts since this all began…I am a travel agent and think evryone went above and beyond and carnival is doing more then their fair share for guests as well as the crew…superior job and wld recommend and sail on carnival before any other cruise line

  201. grannyanne says:

    wonderful telling of the truth and all. i really enjoyed reading it and it could be a good “feel good” movie/book. thank you for sharing!

  202. Lynn says:

    We sailed on Carnival Conquest in July and had an amazing time. We will continue to sail with Carnival in the future and would have seen the trip on the Splendor as an adventure. Thanks for your insights John and for keeping the guests informed and secure during this challenging time. God bless you.

  203. Carolyn Perkins says:

    John, it sounds as if you, the crew, and Carnival did (and continue to do) all that could be done under the circumstances to make the situation better. It’s one thing to take care of the paying guests, it’s another to take care of the staff. The way Carnival treated the staff shows their commitment to ‘doing the right thing.”

    Also, I want to thank you for your commitment, and that of Carnival to Saint Jude. I grew up in Memphis and we are proud of the work that St Jude does. It’s through the support of companies like Carnival….and their many guests……that St Jude can continue to find cures and save lives.


  204. Pat Lind says:

    First cruise in two weeks. Looking forward to it even more so after reading your blog. Carnival, of course

  205. Mary Clendenen says:

    I am so grateful that no one died or was even hurt as I have heard. I was on the cruise before and I saw the quality of all the staff.

    I hope the Splendor is going out again for Halloween because I plan to be on it.

    Many blessings on all.

  206. Bill Heck says:

    Hello John:

    I hope writing this amazing story allows you to let it go. I think I know how you must continually review everything you did in your mind, worried that you did not do everything possible for those around you. But you did John, you did help everyone around you make it through this difficult three days. You also helped motivate the crew to take good care of the guests, again I too was gob smacked when I saw a video of the crew handing watermelons up flights of stairs.

    By staying on the bridge and telling the guests that crew would be patrolling the decks to answer questions and give aid all night long and if they didn’t know the answer to call you on channel 7 because you were going to stay available all night, well that is very reassuring and is strong, brilliant leadership.

    You have a huge heart John, that is what we know about you and what is most special about you. You must have some Italian blood in you mate.

    Take care of yourself for a couple weeks. You can probably beat the diabetes as you continue to shed a pound here and there, so one problem solved.

    With Highest Regards,

    Your Friend

    Bill Heck

  207. Tracy says:


    Thank you for the updates. I have never cruised with Carnival before, but after seeing/hearing how well you and the crew took care of the guests, I will be a future guest of Carnival! I only hope that John will be our cruise director!

  208. Diane says:

    Dear John, I have read every stinking word on your blog thingy about the Splendor ordeal and I have to say it is a most amazing behind the scenes account of what it took to get through the hand you and each crew member were dealt, as it were. If a roll was taken, I’m sure each of you would have chosen to fold and live with your losses with the hopes of a better next hand…maybe a pair of twos next time? But, you weren’t playing poker so that wasn’t an option, huh?

    Reality sinking in that you had no control over the situation and were smack dab in the middle of it yourself had to be a really nasty bummer of epic proportions. Then, not being able to sullenly moan and groan your own demise, you had to impart the nonstop bad news to the passengers that you are normally entertaining:

    “Uh, John, we’re going to have to ask you to be the bearer of all the crappy (pun intended) news and, please if you will, do it with a calm voice and throw a couple of jokes in there that won’t offend anyone. And, we don’t care how bloody tired or stressed you are….just do it.”

    You and the entire crew of the Splendor were heroic in what you did during an unbelievable set of circumstances. I applaud all of the crew! Indeed, I must also applaud the passengers who stepped up to the plate and pitched in to help. And, to all those passengers who chose to experience an adventure rather than a “cruise from hell” — y’all are the kind of people I’d love to cruise with any time.

    Thank you for this fantastic report of “the rest of the story.” Enjoy your downtime, replenish your soul, snuggle with your girls, eat hot food, take hot showers and when you flush the working toilet…..LAUGH OUT LOUD,

    When I’m having a bad day at work, I’m going to think of you. Nothing could compare to what you went through and the classy way you performed. BRAVO to you, John.


  209. Thomas O'Sullivan says:


    I truly enjoyed reading your entries the past few days regarding what happened on the Carnival Splendor. I just cruised with you on the October 3rd sailing. This was my second cruise on this ship and my family and I had a great time.

    The Carnival crew is wonderful and I am sure they performed as you described. Last year when our ship was diverted due to a hurricane near Puerto Vallarta, several guests immediately began asking for refunds or compensation. The Carnival team did an awesome job by remaining calm and scheduling us to go to Ensenada instead. The company could have easily kept us at sea an extra day, but scheduled the port WITH excursions.

    On this last trip, there were no problems, but the staff was awesome.

    Thanks for the story. I wish I could be on the ship when she returns to sailing next year, but lack of money prevents that. I am scheduled on Paradise for 04/04/11 and Magic on 01/01/12. Hope you will be CD on that latter cruise.

  210. Kim says:

    I am so THRILLED that you will be our Cruise Director for our January 16th sailing! I have been reading your blog and feel like I sort of know you- You handled everything so splendidly. The crew and guests are lucky to have had you on board to help them through that horrible time.

    Thank you for keeping us informed- I am sure it has helped to talk about it. Enjoy your time off. You deserve it!

  211. Mike says:

    Well done, it is a shame more people in the travel industry do not realise how important sharing news, good or bad with their customers is.

  212. CruisinSue says:


    Thank you so much for such a riveting truth of what really happened during this accident. There are rumors and untruths as we all know. It was an unfortunate event, but as I would expect the Captain, yourself and the entire crew worked hard to make it as comfortable as possible for the guests. This type of commitment by CCL is the reason I cruise CCL exclusively. If I had to experience anything like you just did, I would want you and that crew with me. Don’t fret over any mistakes you think you made. It is never a mistake if you do what you feel is the right thing.
    Enjoy your day off, spend precious time with your girls. The bloggers will be here when you return.

    Hugs to all

    Gloria aka Sue

  213. JP Kraus says:

    Absolutely brilliant. Stuff of legends.

  214. Nichelle says:

    I was scheduled to be a guest on the Splendor’s December 12th voyage. I literally teared up when I opened my e-mail this morning and saw ‘cancellation notice’ in big, red letters.

    I have been following this story closely from the initial report and I can honestly say that this incident and how incredibly it has been handled has made me want to take a Carnival cruise more than ever. How often do you run across a company whose CEO sleeps in his office during a crisis? One whose employees all go above and beyond to these levels?

    I am very impressed with Carnival. I am impressed with Gerry. I am impressed with the crew. I am impressed with you! While I am greatly disappointed that I no longer get my vacation in 25 days (I’ve been counting down since May), I will be re-scheduling with Carnival as soon as I can! Maybe I can get on the February 27th Blogger’s Crusie…it embarks on the day of my 26th birthday!

  215. Ingrid says:

    Impressive! Both the blog and the actions all crew members took! Hope to see you, John, on the Magic next year in June!

  216. Gail Sanders says:

    Great job Carnival. Carnival has always been resourceful. Our first cruise had bad waves the last day and a half. The crew moved everyone off of the decks and planned other activites for everyone, even Disney movies for the kids. They were not able to perform the finale show because they would have fallen off the stage but, there was still entertainment. We didn’t miss a thing. As far a the CPAP’s needing power, that has always been a problem that the CPAP companies need to address. We live in hurricane country and I was told that if we lost power just plug it into a generator so that you can sleep. Who can sleep with a generator going? They need to develop battery packs for these things. We will continue to sail with Carnival and will be on the Legend in June.

  217. Beth Flynn says:

    Loved it!!! Sorry you had to go through it, but I am glad it was you taking care of those people. Tell Gerry that it could have happened to anyone, just his bad luck it was Carnival’s. I still cant wait for my next cruise in June. 🙂

  218. Karen says:

    I have really enjoyed reading your account of “the cruise from hell” I laughed and I cried.

    My heart went out to everyone on board when I first heard of the fire on board, 2 weeks prior we were on the Carnival Pride. When I heard that you were Cruise Director on the Splendor, that put my mind at ease some. I was on two cruises that you were cruise director on and I knew you would be able to keep the guests as happy as possible.

    Hope you are able to get some rest and relaxation. Take care.

  219. Dana White says:

    BRAVO!!!!!!!!! As I read this blog I don’t know what I expected to learn. But I am happy to say that under the circumstances the crew and passengers did a brilliant job. What I didn’t expect to do is cry. When you mentioned the lil tug, i won’t attempt spelling it, i’ll just call her lil C. The story about lil C was great i laughed then i cried off and on through the end of the story. I can’t imagine how everyone on board felt. But I sure am happy about the end results! I have cruised twice with Carnival and will do again next year. God Bless you all.

  220. Bryna says:

    Well done !!!! We are so proud of Carnival and the way they took care of the guests in such a hard situation. We will always be Carnival Cruisers ~ Valor 1/23/11!!

  221. Nova Scotia Neil says:


    My wife and I were actually cruising on the Freedom last week with friends, when I first heard of the issues of the Splendor. As a regular blog reader and an unofficial Carnival spokesman to everyone I know :> I knew you were on the ship as the CD. I thought if anyone was up to a challenge such as that, it would be you.

    Like I said last week we were on the Freedom and it was our 5th cruise in 4 years with Carnival and not to knock any of the other CDs (as they are all great as well) you by far are the MAN.

    Just thought I’d let you know that and keep up the good work! I’m sure everyone here appreciates it.


    Nova Scotia Neil

  222. Big Ed says:


    I’ve put all the parts of this on one page on my blog. It will make it easier for anyone wanting to print it out as one document. Just copy and paste to where ever you want it.

    Here is a link to that post,

    BIG Ed

  223. John Whalen says:

    John – It would be our honor to sail with you any day. The job you and the crew, including the officers, did is stellar.

  224. Bill Cassidy says:

    Yesterday November 16 I left a Comment for you on this space, but apparently the moderators didn’t approve of the content. to my regret. so again i will attempt . I / we havent seen you since the Christmas Party on the Splendor, When it was in Port Everglades. & then we missed you while on the Freedom. You Sir are a True Blessing to everyone you come in contact with, & are an Example of What Carnival stands for. John I am seriously concerned about your stress level. Thier is a product on the market that can help. it is called ELEVIV tm of the XANGO. Corp. for more info plz contact me. or go to the following web site I give this info but not to advertize but for Your health reasons only. & as well ELEVIV can also be purchased in England as well. ” God Speed. Enjoy your well deserved time off with your Family. Hope to see you Soon.
    Bill Cassidy

  225. M says:

    John, I was very fortunate to be at portside and help the guests to their destinations. All of the guests were amazing. Their outlook and demeanor could not have been better. They were very thankful to the staff, and said that hearing your voice kept them calm and gave them a feeling of security. They knew that you were honest with them and open. All were gracious and just wanted a hot shower, a piece of meat, and a gallon of very hot coffee. Take care, you guys had an amazing team.

  226. BlingBling says:

    Hi John, Thank you for sharing and acknowledging all who assisted in Splendor’s difficult situation.

    Luv’d sailling with you in Europe on Splendor, and know you were a godsend on this cruise.

    Simply said, you’re the best!
    Your Coastie friends…. with memories for a lifetime!

  227. cruisin'lovebirds says:

    Hi John and welcome back to dry land and hot showers. I appreciate the details you provided. Here in Florida we’ve lived through hurricanes safe in our own home but without electricity and fresh food. The safety issues were the most interesting, but I also applaud the Coast Guard, the Navy, and the tug crews along with the Splendor’s crew!

    Take care. Janet

  228. Cliff Switzer says:

    Again, Great Job! Too bad I couldn’t shake your hand on the Splendor (28 Nov 10) :(. I do think that the beards knew a bit sooner that they were going to cancel a bunch more cruises. Other than that we were taken care of. I think we actually got lucky getting booked on the Freedom (our first ship) sailing on the 28th and we didn’t have to pay an up charge that I have heard several state. Hopefully one day, I will get a chance to meet you in person and shake your hand. Look forward to your continued humor and writings. Book in the making?

  229. Jay says:

    What a well written and fascinating documentation of the unfortunate events of the Splendor. This is a must read. The media tends to sensationalize the negative. We don’t often get to see the positive and professional way this situations was handled. I booked a Carnival Cruise for January. If the cruise director and staff on my cruise is even a fraction as professional as John and his crew I’m in for a great time.

  230. Rebecca says:

    Thank you for taking the time to right these very detailed blog entries “Smoke On the Water”. My husband and I have cruised Carnival before and loved it. We are taking our son (who is 1) on his first cruise (on Carnival Dream) in January. Part of me was worried after this incident. My husband and I would be fine; we are adults and can find fun on vacation just about anywhere. But I was worried about our one year old. If something like this happened on our cruise I don’t know what I would do with him. After reading your blog I feel so confident that we would all be fine. The part were you said the crew handed out trophies to the kids because they won the “Brave Award” brought tears to my eyes. I’m sure these entries were very time consuming but I want you to know how much this mother appreciates you taking the time to do so.

  231. Gina W says:

    John, you my friend, are just brilliant! Thank you for your candid account of the Splendor incident. And thanks to the whole Carnival team for doing what they do best, taking EPIC care of their guests, in good times and in bad. Enjoy your time with the girls, and well deserved time off. We will be here when you get back to your blog thingy. Cheers mate!


  232. dwa76 says:

    Thank you John for the unbelievable recap of all the events.
    When i saw the announcement yesterday of them taking the ship out of service until mid-January, I knew how serious this issue truly was.
    At least you’re home now and get to spend some quality time with the family. You truly earned it.
    You did a great job during a truly difficult situation and the company should be very proud of its employees onboard.
    Take care!

  233. Kathy Reilly-Berman says:


    Thank you for sharing your experience with us. It is truly an amazing story and you said it best at in the end of your last blog. Everyone arrived home safe and their were no injuries. Happy to hear you are home relaxing. This had to be hard on Heidi as well being home waiting to here from you.


  234. Patrick Armstrong says:

    truly a great story told, thanks for sharing and hope you are enjoying your well earned rest here in sunny essex! lol

  235. Deborah Proctor says:

    As I sit here writing this, it is with tears in my eyes. As an 8 time past cruiser of Carnival, I love cruising, but most of all, I love Carnival. I cannot imagine what you, the Captain, the crew and the passengers went through. At times while reading your 6 Blog posts about the incident, I felt like I was there (well. . .almost. You know what I mean.) It sounds like despite the “mistakes” as you refer to them, the situation was handled with class and the utmost concern for EVERYONE on the ship and KUDOS TO YOU!!! You should be so proud. It’s currently 66 days until my next cruise (Carnival LIberty) and I can’t wait!!!

  236. Bob Haack says:

    John I thought your blog was fantastic. I dont do carnival, but if you ever do a HAL let us know. One thing they should definitely look into, to have a ship go completely dead in the water should not be able to happen. There shoud be more than one failsafe system to get around this. I’m not a ship designer, but a lot of airplanes can fly with one engine, the same shoud be applied to cruise ships. There should be back up generators capable of running at leat 50% of the ship. LIghts and toilets should be running no matter what. If this would have happened in a bad weather situation, it would have been a disaster. I am not blaming carnival, they did all they could do, but I am blaming the the ship design. Some of this will probably come out in investigation of what happend.

  237. Ann Rainey says:

    John…I read every episode and thoroughly enjoyed them all. Thanks for an honest account of an incident that has riveted the nation and perhaps the world. I look forward to 10/16/11 when I will be aboard the Magic and can give you my thanks in person.

  238. alex says:

    Great Blog John. Great Job overall. Well done to you and the whole crew. x

  239. aly says:

    I congratulate Carnival for a great job. And John you are the best. I hope someday I can sail with you.

  240. John says:

    John –

    I have to tell you, I have had the pleasure of cruising with you on the Imagination, and then again on the Destiny (during it’s inaguaral year). In fact, it was on that cruise on the Destiny – where you helped me out, by calling me up on stage (just prior to the talent show), and I proposed to my wife.

    It was your personality, your humor, and ability the ability to somehow integrate that with being a professional cruise director that started me off being a very happy Carnival Cruiser. In fact, frankly, you are the ONLY cruise director I actually remember the name of after all the cruises I’ve been on.

    The folks at work know that I’m scheduled to be on the Carnival Glory in a group of 32 guests, on February 20, next year. So, when newsof the Splendor suffering the tragic issues it had, word around the office (especially amongst the cruise-virgins) propogated, and eventually people started asking me (the cruise veteran) what I thought.

    When I saw that you were the Cruise Director on the Splendor during this tragedy, I have to tell you – I actually felt every passenger and crew member were in the BEST HANDS they could have been. Your series of blogs only proved that fact.

    While all the news was being broadcast, I kept telling everyone in the office, friends, and at home with my wife, that the people on that ship were LUCKY to have you as the Cruise Director. That you have a way about you that would manage to make the situation with the passengers tolerable, and even fun. And sure enough – you did. Bye-the-way, my wife accused me of having a man-crush on you based on my confidence in you. So, of course, after that point I had to stop praising you. (until now – lol)

    So, from a past cruiser with you, and I’m sure for the folks at Carnival that you call ‘beards’ – you deserve accolades. You did an exemplary job, which you always do.

    I do have a couple of questions for you – I know you’re travelling on the Glory on Feb 27 for the blogger’s cruise. Is there any chance that you’ll be on the ship the week before (Feb 20)? It would be great for us to see you again.

    We’re travelling with a group of 32 people, and I was wondering if we could block off some time with some personal music in the disco. Who would I have to talk to about doing this?

  241. Nanette says:

    John, I’ve enjoyed reading the many chapters of your adventures at see and I must say that you handled everything brilliantly! You can have all of the experience and training in the world when it comes to emergencies at sea but nothing can actually prepare you for the real thing! You are the best! There’s just no one better!

  242. John Heald, Thank you for ” Smoke on the Water” & giving us all clear insight on what was actually taking place on that fateful trip Nov. 7!
    I applaud the Crew & Passengers of the Splender as well …Job Well Done!
    As CD John, BRAVO! You held it together & did an amazing & outstanding job…as the saying goes ” Life Throws You Lemons ~ Make Lemonade” !

  243. Courtney Reed says:

    My husband and I first sailed with Carnival on our honeymoon in 2009. It was by far the best vacation that we ever had. Upon seeing everything in the news last week all we could do was get upset at how materialistic everyone was acting when really they should be grateful it was not a more tragic experience. I am so proud of how the carnival team took care of this situation. People ask me all the time if I am ever worried on a cruise that something will happen. My answer is no….I am not. Because Carnival is amazing and knows exactly how to take care of me. You and your crew proved me exactly right last week. Way to go!!!

  244. Josh M. says:

    John ( PLEASE READ )

    First things first! You and your Crew are the Best. I was not on the ship nor had anyone that I knew on the ship. Reading your Blog, and the comments from Clients and other agents ( I am a travel agent ) that were on the ship shows the NON STOP hard work that was done during the 4 days with out power. Some of the beards ( as you call them ) are making some (most) travel agents think that Carnival no Longer cares about us, which makes us want to go to other brands. However it is not the BEARDS that have me continue to send my Clients and family on your Beautiful ships, It is the fantastic work that the Crew does on the ships. It is the fact that the Men and women that work their butts off just to be able to help make Passengers to Smile and make any situation a good situation. John, you are probably one of the BEST CDs out there and I wish and hope that before you retire back to the UK that I will be able to sail with you as my CD. You have many good CDs working at Carnival ( Todd W. and Trevor B) being two of the best!) but I see where they learned the best things from. You truly care about making people happy. Keep up the GREAT work and I hope to personally meet you one day and give you a proper thanks 🙂

  245. Stacy says:

    What an amazing story. John, you are “brilliant”!

  246. chris says:

    Simply brilliant. Add me to the list of people that will be cruising Carnival in the future. As noted above, when a company does something right, I like to reward them.

  247. Anne says:

    John, you succeeded. Not one-hundrrred prrrocent, but thrrrree hundrrred prrrocent!!!

  248. Susan says:

    Hi John,

    Susan from the West Midlands here. Had to write to say how glad I am everyone was safe following your stressfull couple of days. I first read a brief newspaper article about the incident here in the UK but did not realise how serious it was until I read your blog and other reportson the internet as there has not been much news coverage over here. You have a brilliant way of writing it was such a serious incident but you have managed to convey the events with humour and emotion which I think is fantastic and I think you and all the crew have dealt with the situation in an amazing way. I think everyone at Carnival should be proud on how this has been handled. Enjoy your time at home with the girls and see you next year on the Magic.

  249. Steve Hughes says:

    To the crew of the Splendor ….I want to say thank you for doing all that you could in a difficult situation. We will all have this memorable journey to remember for the rest of our lives…and John thank YOU for your constant updates with humor mixed in…it really did help to calm everyone. You have a wonderful way with people. We were fortunate to see the show on Sunday night…with Dick Little and Anita Little…that was soo hilarious !! We got a taste of what a cruise is supposed to be like….until we all woke up on Monday morning to “Alpha team to the engine room”! John, we would really love to cruise with you again sometime because we are shipmates with a common bond…one we all will never forget! God bless you and the crew of Splendor! Steve+Joan Hughes

  250. Richard & June Koutch says:


    Thanks for telling the truth. We were on the Legend with her first three week Atlantic crossing. Carnival and you were extraordinary then and you still are. Your blogs are well worth reading. We are signed for two (2) more Carnival Cruise trips. Hopefully many more.

  251. Luis Vargas says:

    Hello John,

    Thanks a lot for the great blogs given to us this last couple of days that kept my self and others in front of the computer screen to see how things were onboard.
    I was a Purser for 2 years, and I can only think how the poor Purser were working with the passengers in making things a little bit better for them. My self and some of other former Purser we were in contact with eachother to see if anyone had more information of what was going on, and we all read your blog and some tears came out as well and we were proud to know that we in some way or another were part of CCL and how well they were not only with the passengers but with the crew as well, and to this day I am still proud of saying that I worked for Carnival Cruise Lines as a Purser where I learnt and met many wonderful people.!


    Luis V.

  252. Debbie Moore says:

    Again, not a cruise I wish I’d been on, but what an amazing situation to work through and survive. I am sure there will be some complainers. That’s human nature. But for anyone who has ever cruised before, as my husband and I have, you will earn tips of the cap all around. Congratulations on making the very best of the very worst. And thank you for sharing the story with us. Hope we catch you as our CD on an upcoming cruise.

  253. Kathryn says:


    That was an amazing read, I take my hat off to you and the whole Splendor crew. I worked for Carnival a few years ago and when I heard about the emergency it certainly took me back to our FEMA charter after Katrina. The crew are like family and will always pull together when times are tough (and not so tough). So awesome job by all of you, I just wish the media all over the world were more interested in the amazing job everyone did rather than wanting to find the drama and bad side of it all.


  254. Angela says:

    John. I have just finished reading your latest update on the trauma of last week and could not resist a comment. We sailed on the Splendor the week before and had a fantastic time, you are clearly a person who is passionate about your job and the safety, welfare, enjoyment and satisfaction of others, Thank you so much for all you did and well done on the safe arrival of the ship, guests and crew to San Diego last Thursday. Our next cruise is for a friends 50th in 2011 and will definately be with Carnival, hope you’re our Cruise Director then too. Keep up your marvellous work and take care, Angela & John Holden, Leeds, UK.

  255. Lacy says:


    Thank you so much for sharing this story! I have truly enjoyed it (althought I’m sure you didn’t enjoy it while it was happening!). We were on the frist cruise out of Charleston SC on Carnival Fantasy in May and you were our director. (My husband actually assited the juggler on stage one night). You were FABULOUS! It was our first cruise and definitely won’t be our last! We have you to thank for that, as well as the wonderful crew and staff at Carnival.

    Thank you again!!!

  256. Sandy B says:

    I would not hesitate to sail on the Splendor after she is repaired. Kudos to John and the whole crew.

    Peachy hugs,
    Duchess Sandy in GA

  257. Joanne says:

    I followed this whole story with near obsession as it unfolded last week. I can’t emphasize enough how impressed I am with the way that Carnival handled the situation. Carnival (and John), you’ve won over this traveler… in a big way! I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself when it became apparent that the media was not going to get the horror stories they so desperately wanted. Congratulations on your adept handling this unfortunate turn of events.

  258. Carolyn says:

    John, your stories have been amazing and profound. My husband and I have a cruise booked for the 6th of Feb. on the Splendor. At first we had our doubts, then we read that the cruises were cancelled until Jan. 16th. That made us a little more nervous about going on the Splendor. But after reading your blogs and hearing about the crew on the Spendor, I can’t think of any other ship I would rather sail on right now. We just got off the Dream on November 6th and that was our 4th Carnival cruise. This 5th one on the Splendor appears to be the one that will outdo that one. Can’t wait, wish we were meeting you on that cruise. Again, great stories, thanks for all that information.

  259. Alan says:

    John and the Splendor crew, you make me proud to work in this great industry. Above and beyond the call of duty springs to mind. Crying with laughter here at some of the anecdotes

  260. Jack and Jane Spear says:

    Hey John…
    We too were aboard the Splendor for this once in a lfetime (hopefully) adventure.

    Your handling of the whole event deserves more than anyone will ever be able to bestow on you!!!!! DO NOT look back and second guess yourself… you and the crew were spectacular… you all dealt with an event that no one has ever envisioned or experienced….

    We are Platinum members and this cruise will not taint our opinion of Carnival.

    Regards, and we will see you again

    Jack and Jane

  261. hillary says:

    john, i agree, u need to write a book…thank u for telling us about ur experience, as it is very unique! i hope to cruise with u some day!!!
    the only way i think carnival needed/needs to improve on this, is its future guests, who now have no vacation…those trying to book last minute ones, cause their cruise has been cancelled, only to find prices jacked!! Maybe carnival should offer their guest who dont want a refund, a switch, meaning, put them on another cruise at the same time, for the price they paid. time off is very hard to get for people, and they shouldnt have to pay carnival 200 or 500 or in one case 3000 more to enjoy a cruise on the time they booked off. Customer service is very important, in a time where money is tight, and there are many cruise lines…

  262. Alex G. says:


    Thank you for this amazing story! Bravo to you, the crew, the USGC, the Navy, and the Chihuahua tug boats for all your hard work. I think the situation was handled wonderfully and despite the long wait times for food, I am glad that everyone (well most of them) were in good spirits. The news don’t know what they’re talking about because they weren’t there to experience it themselves. This is proof that no other crew team can compare to the crew that Carnival has! You guys are the best in the business! Blessings to all! Enjoy your well deserved time with the girls!

    Alex G.

  263. c124zy1v4n says:

    that’s good can I copy it?

  264. Karen says:


    You should not second guess yourself on how you handled this situation. If I may borrow a word you frequently used for the crew and passengers, you were “brilliant”. Your voice was always calm and your messages clear and concise. Lots of people greeted the beep that signaled another announcement with”Hi John” myself included. You used enough humour to lighten the mood but never detracting from the seriousness of the situation. My family and I are very loyal to Carnival and will remain so. We brought a freind of my 16yr old neice with us and it was her first cruise and she can’t wait to go again. I would say that’s a job well done my friend!

    I would also add my voice to your praise for the Carnival crew and staff both on board and on land. Without question we could not have been taken care of any better by anyone else!

  265. Nicole says:


    You are AWESOME! Thank you for sharing this with us. My husband and I were on the Splendor Oct 16-24 and we just love you!!

  266. Laure G says:

    As much as you disparage France and Frenchmen, I am surprised that this was your song of choice when you finally got to pee. 🙂

    I loved reading your account and I hope that I will meet you one day on one of my Carnival cruises. You did an excellent job and the kudos are sure outnumbering the complaints by far!

  267. Renee Short says:

    It looks like Carnival took wonderful care of their guests. I wouldnt expect anything less. I’ve been on 6 Carnival cruises and I’m looking forward to #7. I was just wondering-what has Carnival done for the wonderful staff who worked so hard to keep the passengers safe?

  268. Cindy McClain says:

    You need to write a book!!! I have only read this section of your blog….but it’s worth a book! We are frequently Carnival cruisers and always will be!! After reading this it would be great to meet you some time.

    Let us know if you publish a book!!!

  269. Barb says:

    John, enjoyed your musings very much, thank you for sharing, but glad we were not on this one. Couldn’t wait for the next part from day to day. You did a great job on this cruise and you should be rewarded. You are soooo funny!!

    You really need to put a book together about all your CD experiences! You have a gift.

    We were on the Victory July 18 cruise with our two teenage sons, it sailed smoothly and we had an awesome time. We had Karl with a K as our CD, he was hilarious! Our only regret was we didn’t make it for the informal Q&A chat with the CD because we were too embarassed to be late. It would have been fun.

    The crew was wonderful, especially our pacific dining room servers, Rudy (delightful personality/sense of humor, Milan (caring, catering, professional, handsome young gentleman, and Pursa (service with a smile always). I would order creme brulee even if it wasn’t on the desert menu, Rudy would make me happy and make arrangements with the chef so I got my favorite desert a couple extra nights.

    Our teenage boys looked forward to the dining room seating, they would have gotten their dinners on a different deck but due to the wonderful servers they wanted to eat with us every night!!! It was the highlight of our day seeing our servers smiling faces and interacting with them. We were so lucky.

    After disembarking in Puerto Rico, we watched with tears in our eyes from the Sheraton’s roof our ship sailed off into the night with new passengers while we were missing our crew!!!!

    Carnival hires the nicest crew!

    One question for you John, my son had an eye infection after leaving his contacts in all night so he went to the infirmary twice. The receipt I got is not adequate for our insurance company for reimbursement. How do I get a receipt with appropriate service codes and the provider of service (Carnival’s SS# )?

  270. tammy williams says:

    this year is the first time i have ever cruised and i have took two, and i have never meet a crew that goes beyound there job. and if it was me on that ship all i would want is the truth as you told it day by day as you got it. i thank you and every one need to no how special you all are. hope to be on your ship one day.lots of blessings and big hugs to you all.

  271. Joseph and Victoria Morin says:

    We’ve done 4 Carnival cruises and have enjoyed them tremendously and are looking forward to our next cruise this coming January. The fact that no one was badly hurt during this unfortunate incident only reinforces our faith in the crew of all Carnival ships, knowing that you folks really do have our safety in mind at all times. Although all of our cruises have gone off without a hitch, my wife and I know that we will be in good hands should anything happen.

  272. Alanna Farnsworth says:

    I am a frequent cruiser of Royal Caribbean and have cruised once with both Disney and NCL. I never had a hankering to take a Carnival cruise but after reading your account of the Splendor’s adventure, I will be sailing with Carnival sometime in the future. The professionalism of the staff and that the head office did the right thing by all these passengers, makes me want to be associated with such a company. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with all of us. Happy Cruising!

  273. Holly says:

    Hey John. FYI: Insulin no longer needs to be refridgerated. It is good for 30 days at room temperature. People like the drama. Sounds like you all did an amazing job. I can’t wait to go on our next cruise (number 6) Carnival is awesome!

  274. Ron says:


    As you were having your “Smoke on the Water” experience, I was on the Caribbean Princess cruising the Caribbean. All the while, I was glued to my laptop reading your Blog of what was happening on the Carnival Splendor.
    Your words brought chills to my spine, thinking it could be our ship that was dead in the water as you were.
    After reading your words, I could almost feel what your guests and crew were feeling.
    Knowing the training that all cruise line crews must go through, I am sure everyone was in great hands during the days of “Smoke on the Water.
    Thank you for sharing.


  275. Betty Blalock says:

    I heard a comment (on the Fox news) from a lady on the cruise, after they returned. She said “If it weren’t for our wonderful Cruise Director it would have been a lot worse. His name was John.” From past cruises I knew his last name had to be Heald.
    John, you did just great, as usual!

  276. love to cruise carnival says:

    My thoughts are if they took the time to call each and every family, then there would not have been time for them to rebook flights, hotels and transportation. Suck it up babe and if your family was that worried, they could have contacted the travel agent who booked them or better yet, called carnival themselves. Where is your families responsibility in all this. They could not have been that worried.

  277. Barry says:

    The world wonders; how did an equipment casualty, albeit serious, in the aft generating space also completely disable the forward electrical plant? Since so many people are asking this question, and nothing has been heard from Carnival in this regard, it really leads one to believe, maybe incorrectly, that carnival is hiding something.

    This blog is probably not the most appropriate place for this question but this is as close as I can get to Carnival’s ear.

    Carnival and the ship’s crew obviously did a thouroughly professional job taking care of the needs of both the passangers and the crew. But, what happened? Bad design, improper equipment alignment, human error, inadequate damage control, etc? A loss of all electrical power simply is not a credible design basis accident on a modern vessel with damage ostensibly limited to a single compartment, yet it did here.

    I have no intention of taking away from all the very positive and well deserved kudos in the previous messages but the engineering community is really starved for an explanation. Carnival, if your listening, please put something out. Eventually all will be public anyhow when the investigating agencies publish their reports. Waiting just makes one assume there is something to hide.

  278. paula says:


    You my friend are a true legend of the seas!! I first worked with you back on the Celebration in 1989. Your sense of humour is of pure gold.
    Your diary and account onboard those difficult few days recently on the splendour made me laugh and cry. You were born to sail, and only cruise enthusiasts and crew alike will know what its like to endure situations at sea like fire. You are a credit to the company and a fantastic funny human being. I may not be at sea any more, but reading your blogs every day keeps my seafaring memories alive.
    The cruise ship industry is a better place with you in it, and that hilarious british sense of humour is a credit to you, so take a bow my friend….you are the BEST !

    Paula Amaro

  279. Stephen H Worden says:

    Final Comment: As a Navy Veteran, I have been in some uncomfortable situations, having to do without various Creature Comforts and seeing the light of day. Having followed the news reports (which I tend to believe about 0.001% as being total true fact) I (and this is the honest truth) wish I would have been their to help out. Your attitude, sense of (guessing British) humor, dedication to your job and concern for the people is just one of the many attributes that make Carnival Cruise, the FUN SHIPS. My first Cruise, other than the Navy, was in Aug 2010 on the Destiny (and their CD was awesome), and my Next Cruise is in Three days (if you don’t count today) on the Pride. Regardless of the situation, I have no desire to go to sea on anything but Carnival. However, I’m gonna play the slots in hopes of winning, and by pass that watch purchase!

    All My Best and Thanks for the Great Documentary!

    Just curious, when should I expect, “Carnival Splendor Imax 3D” movie to come out? Can’t wait to see how they portray your dreams.


  280. Scott N. says:

    John, as a veteran Carnival cruiser and having actually sailed on the Carnival Splendor in the past, I want to thank you for the insights and vivid imagry of this adventure. While this may fall into the category of “be careful what you wish for”, I kind of wish I was on this cruise — what a collection of stories one would have after this.

    And I remember talking to you when you were CD on the Carnival Dream. Putting this all together and I can almost imagine being there.

    From your posts on these events and all the posts I have read from other cruisers, I know we will continue to remain brand-loyal to Carnival. What a classy organization Carnival is and this feeling of mine is even more deeply seated now.

    It is amazing to me how much the media coverage has tapered off since those news wolves have been unable to really get and “dirt” — good news in no news, it seems.

    We will be on the Carnival Glory the first week of April 2011 and are working on what our Carnival crusie after that will be. I hope we get to see you on one of those cruises in the future.

    Kindest regards,

  281. Malinda says:

    Thank you for your honesty and humor.
    Reading about the chihuahua, you had me laughing harder than I have in my entire life.
    You are amazing as well as all of those involved in this adventure.
    God bless you!

  282. lyleba says:

    John, having cruised with you, Captain Cupisti Duncan, all senior experienced crew, I knew the Splendor had the best onboard when I heard familiar names mentioned. You and the Splendor crew deserve much appreciation and gratitude! Your handling of the situation made the difference!!! I hope to see you on the Magic in Barcelona next year and personally extend by gratitude for all you do! Carnival and Gerry Cahill are lucky to have had you onboard during this cruise!!! You’ll have to have a new repertoire of cruise crisis jokes for all the CD’s to have just in case they need them!!!

  283. GrumpyFan says:

    Great work John and to all who worked behind the scenes on this incident to keep guests safe. It really bugs me to see the media and their attempts at demonizing this into something much worse than it was. I’m sure the conditions there were not pleasant, but they were safe, and they all made it home alive thanks to all of your efforts.
    I’ve never cruised before, but really want to, and hopefully will soon, probably on Carnival. I must admit my impression of Carnival was not very high prior to this, but reading you postings has changed that. This thing could have been much, much worse, but you and the crew and even the “beards” made a bad situation tolerable.

  284. Tim says:

    First time reader. After reading over the four days onboard, it has given me new appreciation for Carnival. Never sailed on a Carnival ship but plan to do it shortly. As a travel agent I never thought to do business with Carnival, but will be doing that shortly as well.

    Be well.


  285. Debbie B says:

    I thoroughly enjoy all of your blogs. I didn’t realize that you were on this cruise!! I don’t really wish I was there, but having cruised with you, I know there were many hilarious moments, and that the cruise would have been a lot worse without you. Thank you for making me laugh, as always, even with all the not so funny events you were writing about.

  286. Dr. Deany Cheramie says:


    I have no intention of canceling my upcoming cruise, nor of changing to another cruise line. Carnival has been my choice for the past seven years, and it will remain so.

    Thank you for your splendid service and dedication.


    Dr. Deany Cheramie

  287. Nelda Dunaway says:

    I look forward to seeing you on January 16, 2011 on the Carnival Splendor… I am a travel agent and have a group of 52 that are not worried at all and can’t wait to board….. This will be our 2nd cruise on the Spendor… Thank you and the staff for the great job you all did for your passengers… and I know the news never tells the truth

  288. Darlene Kruse says:

    Very well done John, Crew and Carnival……. You make me proud to be a past and future cruiser with Carnival. You did everything possible to ensure the safety and well being of everyone on that ship. Bravo!!

  289. Kittie says:

    I was on this cruise and I must say I am glad it was not my first cruise because I would be a bit skeptical to get on another cruise – no matter what cruise line it would be. It was unfortunately my bf’s first cruise and he did mention at the beginning that it was his last cruise, however after we reached San Diego he did change his mind and said we will redeem the free cruise. His plans on this cruise was to propose to me and he had to re-think it because it wasn’t exactly the most romantic atmosphere. The smell of urine and feces pouring out of the public bathrooms would not be the best memories of him getting down on 1 knee. Also the boat was rocking so much, I was actually sea sick and not in the happiest of moods so I might have used some choice phrases once he pulled the ring out. He would be seeing the middle finger rather than the ring finger. But after we arrived in San Diego, we went home (to Orange County) and took a nice long hot shower and went out for a romantic hot dinner which did not consist of hot dog sandwhiches – filet mignon and lobster! Then he popped the question and glad to say we are going to cash in our free cruise for our honeymoon next year!
    All in all – it’s an experience and an adventure I will never forget. Sad to say though, my parents were calling the hotline every few hours for updates and status reports and a few times they did receive poor service and rude people. Im sure the Carnival reps were overworked with this ordeal, yet you can’t take it out on the worried family members. Thursday morning, my mom called the hotline to see what time the Splendor should be expected for arrival in SD so they can drive down from OC to pick us up and she was told mid-day – my mom then questioned because she knew they were in FL and shes in Cali – is it mid-day Eastern Time or mid-day Pacific Time and thats when the tone changed. The lady then got an attitude and rudely said between 12-4pm PST. This was a little after 6am PST. My mom then turned on the tv and the news was on with live feed of SD port and she was seeing the Splendor being towed in by the tugs. She then called the hot line back and asked to speak to the same rep (she kept track of all the names she spoke to) and advsd her that she provided inaccurate info and the ship was being showed on the news being towed in. The rep (not gonna mention her name) then told my mom in another attitude tone that the news was incorrect. Instead of providing customer service that the customer is always right, she should have apologized if she didnt know the correct info and that would have been the end of the convo.

  290. Karen says:

    Wow – you have a way with words. I have followed this story the entire time as I just got off the Miracle the week before. Is there a way to check your schedule b/c I’d really like to cruise with you?

    And thanks for keeping so calm. I’m sure it helped a lot of people.

    Cheers and thanks for being MY friend!

    Karen from St Louis

  291. DChamp says:

    Amazing story… amazing people, amazing person.

    Well documented. Carnival should be very very proud of you.

  292. Jeff says:

    I was on the Splendor a few weeks before this infamous run and watched all the news available including this great blog and tried to project myself in those passengers positions over the several days the ship was hobbled.

    Regarding inconvenience, what are the restroom and dining accommodations on the lifeboats? Just curious.

  293. CL Dennis says:

    A salute and bow to the entire crew. Job well done under days of constant duress. It’s called humanity looking after itself.

    Though I have never sailed Carnival (i’m on the other cruise line) , you guys did alright! A fire can happen to anyone at anytime. I have learned something from your unfortunate experience. 1.- book a balcony, 2.- Bring a torch, 3.- scout out a quiet spot on Lobby deck to hang your backside over the edge.

    Oh and I won’t forget the matches for my free Tag Heuer!


  294. John, I have loved reading your story about the Carnival Splendor. You really need to write a book. Thanks for the true and accurate story.


  295. Logan says:

    Hi John,

    I’ve sailed on Carnival before to the Caribbean and also out of Long Beach and San Diego to Mexico. I have to say that your sense of humor is 2nd to none. I was born in England but have lived in the USA for 38 years. There is nothing like a dry sense of humor to nullify a very tense situation and you did a wonderful job. I’ve been very impressed by Carnival’s willingness to compensate and take care of each passenger in the way that they did. The cruise industry and travel industry in general is very hard nosed usually but thankfully someone in Carnival recognized the severity of what happened to people’s hard earned vacations and made them whole…If Carnival would continue to take this kind of customer service as their corporate mantra, I think they would have cruisers loyalty for years. I hope you can document all of these things for your fellow colleagues and remind them of the power of doing the right thing with the customer in mind. More power to you!!

  296. Laura Cavanaugh says:

    As a former Holland America Hostess it is such fun to read your blog and the situation you handled so well is every staff persons nightmare! Simply missing a tender port of call can be complete torment! Well done! You are a pro and it did bring me to tears to hear about all of the different departments pulling together. That brings a new meaning to crew bingo and the disembarkation song we used to sing, ‘Love in any Language!’
    Happy Sails,

  297. Betty Sellers/Tallahassee, Fl says:

    Very interesting account. I just want to say as a wife of a retired military officer, we appreciate the fact that Carnival Cruise Lines allows us to use Interliner rates if they are available. Even if we don’t use them because the dates are not right for our travels, etc., it is heart warming to have you offer this priviledge. I certainly will consider this whenever we make a cruise. Whenever we get in a tight spot, it is reassuring to see the U. S. Military come along. These young men and women spend many years away from their families and often in dangerous situations. I never was in danger as a wife, but I did run the show alone at home for over three years all together and had to move and furnish 26 homes. This benefit makes me very, very happy. Thank you, thank you to your CEO and all the staff.

  298. Vickie Watts says:

    Can you tell me more or anything about the Breeze Cruise in 2012? I did’t know there was such a ship. I saw someone else posted about it.

    PS..Still following your blog after your Smoke on the Water story. Loved it…

  299. Stephen says:

    John, what an awesome job you have done, not only on the Splendor through this adventure, but in your informative and humorous postings. What a joy to read “what really happened” instead of all the negative hype put out by the media. I have cruised with 8 other cruise lines, then tried Carnival, and out of the last 18 cruises, 14 have been with Carnival. Our daughter started working with Carnival 3 years ago and has been karaoke hostess and social host, and loves her job and the wonderful people she works with. Also, we have cruised on the Splendor 3 times, and had a wonderful time, each time, on Carnival’s “pink” (correct spelling) ship. On each and every Carnival cruise, we always have a great time. The level of professionalism and hospitality on Carnival ships is amazing, as is the food and the entertainment. I hope to be able to someday say we’ve been on 100 Carnival cruises, and I also hope to someday cruise with you on your ship. I commend you on your incredible dedication, to not only keeping everyone safe and informed, but also in inserting a little humor to make everyone feel safe and secure. If we were ever to experience something like this, we would hope that you would be the cruise director to get us through this ordeal. Carnival should be very proud of you and the job you do! Thank you John, for being a truly GREAT cruise director!

  300. MIKE HART says:

    Thank God no one was injured and all were safe ! Although I am sorry anyone had to experience this ordeal, I am glad those people had YOU ! They could not have been in better more capable hands. You are truely an amazing individual at what you do.

    Mike in Virginia

  301. Dave Broderick says:

    Hi John, I have never met you, I hope I can some day. I would like to thankyou for being there, I have heard first hand of the brilliant job you (and the rest of the crew) did on those difficult days, one of my best friends is Lorraine, the lead nurse on board (she is still there bless her). Keep up the good work, loving the humour!


  302. NVRhonda says:


    It’s nice to see the face of the voice that haunted me for four days off the Mexican Coast aboard the Splendor stranded in the Pacific Ocean.
    There were times I wanted to hunt you down and choke you because of comments like the Taco Bell helicopter. However, I must admit I did not panic and did not need my anxiety medication until we learned we may go to Mexico and then get bused to the USA. I was unable to get a passport. A crew member put me at ease when he told me that there would be no problem. And I have to admit my mind went to seeing people on buses in Mexico in the movies always with chickens on board. I said, “I don’t want to ride a bus with chickens.”

    I actually didn’t get home until Thursday, November 25th. I have family in the L.A. area and had planned to spend a week AFTER my cruise with them. We had some set plans for the 18th so I was kind of stuck. I live in Carson City, Nevada, which is Northern Nevada, by the Sierras. Well it snowed. I tried to go home on Saturday but couldn’t get very far out of LA because of fog/heavy rain. I got as far as Sacramento on Tuesday the 23rd and waited for the chain requirements to be lifted over Hwy I80E. My drive home on Thursday was a breeze.

    Here is a little BLOG I did on My Space;


  303. Tracy Dearing says:

    Dear John,
    This is not a dear John letter…lol. I sailed on the Carnival Glory this past Nov and had the best time. I make Jewelry and a crew member was interested in my talent so i took her info down and told her i would email her my website when i got home but i have misplaced her info. Therefore, i need your help getting in touch with Elena Gueorguieva on Carnival Glory, she is the bartender at the casino bar. My cruise planner Javier referred me to you…hope you can help

  304. anna says:

    ANy news on the Splendor? is the repairs coming to an end, will it be ready to sail on 2/20/2011?

  305. Freddy B says:

    Hey John,

    I am a screenwriter and currently writing a script that takes place on a cruise ship. I am modeling the ship after the Splendor (unsing it’s layout, deck plans).

    I was wondering, if when I have questions about things like ship’s protocol, security, or other technical things regarding passengers, crew, and procedures, if I could drop you an email.



  306. ashlie vest says:

    I was on the Carnival Spendor this week of Nov. 7 2010. I have to say THANK YOU! !!! You and the staff onboard were amazing. There was always someone there to answer all my questions. Of course it was the honeymoon I was expecting, but my husband and I sure have some wonderful stories to tell our children someday. I can’t be thankful enought with the great job you and your crew did that week.

    Ashlie Vest

  307. Sharon and Harry Cole says:

    John please reply.

    You did everything perfectly on the Splendor. You were exactly right in not telling us to take our life jackets. That would have caused us to panic!

    My twin sister and I were celebrating 70th birthday on November 8th. My husband and I will be sailing on the Magic September 4th cruise to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary! I was so looking forward to your being on the ship but I am not sure whether you will be with us or not. Will you?

    We have always said to people that the cruise was okay. We may not have gotten to the ports but we had a cruise we will never forget. You were a big part of that.

    Thanks so much for your concern and caring.

    Sharon Cole

  308. Ronnie says:

    I have traveled Carvinal only twice and I do like their ships. The crew was great on both ships and I will be booking a trip soon. I would be very happy to have you onboard for my trip. You did a very good job and people should be very thankful they had you on board to keep them up to date on what was happing.Even though this happened awhile ago we should remember that this can happen at anytime and that the Coast Guard is also there for everyone that needs help on the waters anywhere. God Bless everyone.

  309. Linda Krause says: did an excellent job as far as I can see. I actually would have survived the ‘smells’ and cold food and showers, just to be able to have those extra days on board Carnival!! We absolutely HATE the days we have to return…hence our 2nd back-to-back coming up in 18 days!! haha
    Again…I personally think you all did a fantastic job with what you had to work with.

  310. valerie allen says:

    thanks John for all your informative and at times wacky info during our ill fated cruise. My husband and I were with our newly married son and his wife for their honeymoon, (it was also her FIRST cruise ever)…my husband used to be a boyscout and did bring flashlights (thank god), that he could have sold again and again. It took alot of calming for the honeymoon couple, but fortunatly we brought a deck of UNO and played by the dim lights of the showroom amongst many sleeping crew members having hours of fun in an emergency situation. Carnival did good by us with the comps and we are looking forward to our makeup cruise tomorrow on the splendor 10/30/11 for our kids first anniversary. P.S. I think we’ll wait till the first cruising morning to unpack!!!

  311. arob says:

    I find it quite ironic to read your SMOKE ON THE WATER blog posts for the first time from the Carnival Spirit Internet Cafe – nearly one year after our unfortunate experience on the Splendor. We have had a great time on our 9 Day Spirit, Carnival’s “make it right” penance. My husband and I were celebrating a 5 year anniversary that fateful trip and as “challenging” as it was, we all survived, learned, grew, witnessed and certainly have the BEST story “topper” at any social gathering. I really enjoyed reading your side of the story. Of course, everyone has their own experience to retell. For us, I can tell you that some of your insecurities about the coulda, shoulda, woulda are “rubbish” (had to get a little Brit on ya). You did a fine job communicating to us passengers, quelling fears and even keeping the mood light with some of those (TERRIBLE) jokes. Your updates were factual and fair. Dare I even say that sometime by day 3, your voice (and those TERRIBLE jokes) were even somewhat comforting!? It wasn’t until seeing about 30 media satellite trucks on the San Diego Pier did we realize the severity of the situation. There should be no question in your mind that you served your duty properly and Carnival is very lucky to have you do so on thier behalf. As for learning experiences, I would suggest that Carnival consider emergency glow sticks on board – like the miltary – enough for every passenger for 2-3 nights. Also, encouraging packing flashlights isn’t a bad idea either. Maybe I missed the announcements of some of the alternative activities that were planned… or they were only for those that were already out and about. For a couple sticking to themselves and thier cabin, I thought there could have been more done to pass the time. I thought of a book swap or magazine swap. I know I had some spare for an even exchange. Or organized card games, etc. But again, maybe that was happening and some of us were oblivious. Thanks for clearing up the Spam sitch – because I could swear I had some of the diced stuff wrapped in a tortilla… or was that hot dog… no matter. I’m with you, I’m still affected by the thought of sandwiches!
    All said and done, and one year later, it still remains my opinion, as one of those 3,299 passengers, that the Carnival Crew, Staff and “Beards”, are a class act. Their dedication to a crisis situation was unwavering. There were sights that I saw and experienced too that really makes one examine human nature and compassion. I probably took about 20 trips up and down stairs carrying walkers and wheelchairs for strangers. I don’t know why we do it… we just do. I don’t think anyone will ever really understand what happened for those 5 days outside a small group of us, and some of us with maybe a little PTSD to get through, but Carnival did right by all of us and that’s really all any passenger should expect. The most impressive was probably the disembarkation process. The flawless execution of the ground logistical staff was something to marvel. And we can’t complain about the hotel accomdations afterwards either (in which two Carnival staffers stood posted in the lobby for 2 days making sure everyone was taken care of – class act). In closing, thank you John, Captain Cupisti, and thank you Carnival. While I can’t emotionally take the trip again with the Splendor, I’m happy to experience the fully-functioning Spirit and the Paradise next year. But let’s just say, for these past 9 days, I’ve skipped the Deli line and savored every sip of the hot coffee. You know what I’m saying. 🙂

  312. Michelle says:

    Hi John,
    I just discovered your blog from a link on Cruise Critic. I just read this part of your blog on the Splendor fire. I definitely was watching the news during this time. I loved reading your information on this. So very interesting and I found myself in tears when I read this part:

    When I told the guests we would arrive into San Diego earlier than expected there were huge cheers but as they left, people looked up to the bridge and waved and cheered and some blew kisses and some shed tears. It was an emotional time for everyone. A mixture of worry, uncertainty and adventure.

    I’m so looking forward to reading more blogs from you.

  313. Great job, nothing else needs to be said.

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