Tense moments on the bridge

//Tense moments on the bridge

Back home in Essex, John Heald is continuing his dramatic account of last week’s Carnival Splendor saga. The cruise ship was left drifting off the coast of Mexico last week after an engine room fire left it without power and cruise director John was the man responsible for keeping passengers informed throughout the ordeal.
In the latest episode he describes how a visit to the bathroom in his cabin, four hours after the lights went out, brought home to him how serious the ship’s plight had become.
“The lack of lighting started the worry bells ringing in my head and then when I pressed the flush button and didn’t hear the usual suction noise, I began to realise that this was far, far from over.”
Back on the bridge, after a breathless climb up the stairs because the lifts weren’t working, John discussed with Captain Claudio Cupisti what announcement could be made to the passengers.
The captain consulted with his chief engineer by radio, and this is John’s account of his reply: “‘Captain, the main switchboard is finished.’ He paused and then, his voice cracking with emotion, he said words I will never forget. ‘I cannot give you anything…nothing…no engines, no power… everything is finished…finished…finished.’
“I will never ever forget the fact that he said the word ‘finished’ three times and each time he said his voice reached new levels of despair. This was his engine room and now it was a dead place, devoid of life, and he was taking this very personally indeed.”
John also describes another tense moment later in the day, when the chief engineer came to the bridge.
“His face was as black as coal and his once-white overalls looked like they had been washed in a pool of oil and dust. But I will never forget his head. Marco has a wonderful hairless head which now had blue veins pulsating out of it, a true sign of the stress he had been through.
“He took the Captain to one side of the bridge and they had a discussion. Whatever the chief engineer had told the Captain suddenly caused the stress and pent-up emotion and the enormous responsibility that had been weighing down on Captain Cupisti’s shoulders, just for a moment got the better of him, because he picked up a stool and flung it with all his might against the closet where the ships charts are kept. Silence ruled the bridge.
“We all watched and waited while the Captain stood, head bowed. He then turned and picked up the stool, apologising to all of us in both English and Italian.”
John’s wonderful wife Heidi – they met on board ship, of course – had a special treat for his return home. Instead of the steak and onions he had requested, it was a tin of the Spam that Carnival say none of their passengers had to eat, even though it was airlifted in from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan. You could have opened it, John !

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:16+00:00 15 November 2010|Cruise News|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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