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on August 7, 2008
I don't intend to write a review rehashing the storyline or details; the official commentary on this site is pretty accurate. Cruise Confidential is a bit of an expose', but, unlike Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, I did not infer any personal malice towards the industry nor its people. Enyoyable for most everyone, but anyone who has ever been on a cruise will best appreciate Bruns' story, not only of the long hours and hard work, but of the nature of relationships in the very special community made up of service workers on a large cruise liner.

This book does deserve special comment, because I am pretty sure that it is largely nonfiction, and it will fill an heretofore vacant niche in travel literature.

In my mind, a good book must satisfy three criteria. First it must be easy to read, second it must be a good story, and lastly it must somehow leave you changed for the better. Cruise Confidential hits the mark on all three criteria.

First, Bruns' writing style is natural and unstrained. I have read too many books during which I feel as if I am working at cross currents to the writing just to get at the story. Here the writing carries you easily along, and you can relax and float (this is about ships after all) along through the challenges, tribulations, and victories of his first year working in service for Carnival.

Second, it is certainly a good story, written in the first person. I started this book and stayed up much later than I should have to finish it. I haven't done that in a long time, and that speaks for all those qualities of writing and subject that combine keep you from setting it aside to finish later.

Lastly, though not a philosophical treatise, if you have ever cruised a large ship, ever plan to do so, or perhaps if you just watch cruising on the Travel Channel, this will substantially change how you view the service staff that appear, seemingly from nowhere, to take care of the customers' needs and otherwise are completely invisible for the rest of the cruise.

I was feeling a bit down as I came to the final pages, wanting the story to continue to his next career phase, but on that very last page Bruns suggest that more of this adventure may follow.
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on May 3, 2009
This book was like a really bad, cheesy movie -- I hated it, was but fascinated to see just how bad it would get. In that sense, I wasn't disappointed.

There was really scant insight into the life onboard a cruise ship, beyond the very limited scope of a small slice of the food service sector. And even then, it was almost entirely the authors myopic and misogynistic take on his personal life. Over and over and over he tells us how every female on the ship, crew and passengers alike, wants to sleep with him and how drunk he can get. Really, that's a god portion of the book. Then he throws in reference after reference to how good looking he is (...I was in truly remarkable shape....)

The biggest problem, though, is that many of his stories are of questionable authenticity. He recounts casual conversations in mind-numbing detail. That's a level of recall that is frankly hard to believe. OK, chalk those up to literary license. But on more than one occasion he gives us dubious recollections that go far beyond that. For example, he draws out a story of waking up drunk and not knowing where he is or how he got there. He can't remember how the evening started or anything about the end of it, including the person sleeping next to him. And yet he then goes on to describe, in exacting detail, an incident that happened in the middle of the drunken binge. Make that excruciating detail, of some impressive (to him) physical feat. It's hard not to think that many of the anecdotes were the way he wanted to remember them, not necessarily how they really were.

And beware the exclamation point. The author loves them. And I mean loves them!!! Five sentences in a row at one point. All part of him being very impressed with himself. That, and an odd habit of replacing the word God with Cat. As in, for Cat's sake, pick another book.
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on July 26, 2009
If you've cruised before, are booked on a cruise, thinking about booking a cruise, or just wondered what it would be like to work on a cruise ship, please read this book. It's an easy read and very entertaining--but sad in a way. I couldn't help but focus on the lives of people who work under the described conditions. It certainly makes you stop and think how lucky we Americans are, no matter where we are on the social ladder. Brian's description of the work days, policies and politics on board made me shiver. I give him and everyone else credit for working under such conditions while giving such incredible service to the cruise guests, some of whom can be very obnoxious. I've always been a good tipper, but, boy, will I be a better one after reading this book. And, I've always enjoyed the smiles and great service of the crew, but now I'll realize how hard it is for them to do it. Only Brian could bring all of the hardships to life in such a funny, entertaining way! You laugh your way through the pages while you read, and then feel sad for the employees when you put the book down and think about it. Read it for the sheer joy of a good laugh and tip away when you get on that cruise!
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on October 18, 2009
WOW! What an eye opener! Cruising is our family favorite vacation so we sail whenever the budget allows. Over the years, we have 'heard' the stories of cruise employee pay, living arrangements/conditions, and hours spent serving the passengers. But, I can honestly say, after reading this book, I look at cruising in a whole different light.

The book was hard to put down. It was well written, with a good sense of humor in all the right places, and an easy style. I now have a whole new appreciation of the thousands of employees of the cruise industry that make my choice of vacations as enjoyable as they have been. I would recommend this book to any current & future cruise ship passenger. Especially those passengers that aren't as appreciative towards the ship's crew as they should be....and I have noticed far too many of those over the years. If you love cruising, this book is for you. The author offers great insight & a good story. Like I mentioned above, it will give you a whole new appreciation towards the cruise industry.....positive & negitive
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on January 19, 2012
I am a current Carnival employee and I have been working for the company for nearly 6 years. All I can say about this book is it is complete rubbish. There is absolutely NO way that the author could get away with being drunk on duty, fighting in the dining rooms, threatening management. He would instantly have been fired. And the way he makes it look like management is out to get him is complete rubbish.

Its a nice work of fiction but life on board is nothing like he has written.
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on August 26, 2013
You should always beware of a book with four titles. It should send up a red flag that no editor of substance was involved with the work in question. And indeed, I'm not sure what editor would have allowed this racist, misogynist, Mary Sue of a story to come to fruition.

The story boils down to the following: Cruise workers go to parties, drink, vomit, have public sex, pass out. Rinse and repeat. The descriptions of the parties are no more detailed or titillating than the 22-year-old at work who clumsily describes his Saturday evening. The "love story" at the heart of the tale is lifeless and incomprehensible.

I can only hope that the author himself is not as racist and misogynistic as his literary counterpart. I have a high tolerance for offense, but his repeated descriptions of a black man as a monkey and mocking his ape-like appearance and behavior was downright indecent.

Though the author was purportedly enduring his employment for love, he wastes no time evaluating each woman in the book on her attractiveness and the size of her rear end. Some women are never mentioned without making sure we, the readers, remember exactly how large her buttocks are. Again and again. He also ensures that we're clear... every single woman in the book wants him sexually. Every. Single. One.

Overall, there is little real insight into how a cruise ship runs. A sprinkling here and there of dining room workings that would have made a great ten-page pamphlet, but were unfortunately it was buried in this stinker of a story.
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on November 24, 2012
I had high hopes for "Cruise Confidential," but was very disappointed. My wife and I love to cruise, I and was expecting "Cruise Confidential" to provide some good detail about how a cruise ship runs behind the scenes. Unfortunately, I was only able to read about half the book before giving up on my expectations.

I can summarize what this book was actually about in three sentences:

1. The ship's crew is very horny and, at every possible opportunity, drinks and fornicates.

2. The author is a very personable and good looking guy, and female crew members and passengers are hitting on him all the time, but he always resists temptation out of loyalty to his girl friend.

3. Repeat sentences one and two ad nauseum.

Well, perhaps the last half of the book was different or better. But I couldn't stand the content (or the repetition) in the first half of the book, so I gave up reading.
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on September 24, 2011
I have cruised with Carnival a few times, so I read this in hopes of getting a "fly on the wall" glimpse into the life of the crew. There are some interesting tidbits, but mostly I felt like I needed to take a shower after reading this book.

A few descriptions of living conditions, galley procedures, and work schedules were interesting and rang true. But I'm not sure it was worth wading through the juvenile writing, grammatical errors, and repetitive stories to get to the good parts.

The author is extremely full of himself, inordinately proud of his work ethic and sex appeal, despite the fact that he is severely intoxicated on almost every page. Add this over-inflated ego to an equally big sense of entitlement about his career path, and you have a pretty unlikable narrator.

His repeated tales of other crew members' sexual escapades, and nightly drunkfests in the crew bar, get a little old after the first ten times. I think there may have been just a wee bit of hyperbole involved in his story-telling. I'm sure the crew indulges in plenty of adult beverages and hook-ups but, come on, there are only 24 hours in a day.

If you are curious about shipboard life for the dining room staff on Carnival, you could read the first 75 pages and pretty much get the whole picture as presented in this book. I wasn't very invested in the author, so I didn't care too much about how his story unfolded. The first few chapters would have been enough for me.
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on October 11, 2011
I hate myself for having wasted the time reading what is essentially the same day in the life of a cruise worker repeated over and over and over again. The writing is cheesy and pathetic and frankly, the level of detail given to conversations, events, and his co-workers appearances is unbelievable. There is very little insight given to the inner workings of the cruise ship, maybe a chapter's worth sprinkled throughout the entire thing. The rest of the book is same crap, different day. The author says he gets 3 to 4 hours of sleep a day but he has plenty of time to get drunk, visit ports, write reports for superiors that weren't even assigned, write a book (I won't be reading that one for sure), and emailing with his girlfriend. Oh, and the ego on this guy! Ugh. Save your money and your time. Please.
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on July 5, 2009
I am not an avid reader but this book kept me interested the whole time, to the point that I finished it in 3 days. I always take a long time to read book, but not this one. The author is so funny. If you are thinking that working in a ship is all glamour..think again!
I totally recommend this book!
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