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Better than KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL
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.