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Cruise Confidential: A Hit Below the Waterline: Where the Crew Lives, Eats, Wars, and Parties: One Crazy Year Working on Cruise Ships

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3.3  ·  Rating Details ·  1,073 Ratings  ·  150 Reviews
In Cruise Confidential, Brian David Bruns spills the dirt — or in this case, the dirty water — on those romantic, fun-filled vacations at sea. His hilarious chronicle of the year he spent working for Carnival Cruise Lines takes readers down into the areas where the crew works and lives, leaving readers gasping with laughter as they’re assaulted nonstop with events that ran ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Travelers' Tales (first published January 1st 2007)
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Heather
May 10, 2009 Heather rated it it was ok
It starts well...the author is fun, the people are interesting, and the insider information is great...but slowly you start to realize that he is telling the same story over and over, spiraling into a bitter tornado of drunken, "it wasn't my fault that I lost it" and "I couldn't have had sex with all of them" self-pity. I got over this book after about the first 100 pages.
Tina
Dec 08, 2011 Tina rated it did not like it
Sigh. I don't even know how to say how bad this book was. I cruise a lot, and I was expecting more of a behind the scenes tour. What I got instead was a blow by blow of how drunk cruise employees get and how many people they hook up with and how little sleep they get. The "author" is Brian, supposedly the first American to ever finish a contract in a Carnival dining room. Whatever. First of all, Brian is a spolied, conceited 30 year old. My immediate comparison is the lead on the short-lived NBC ...more
Carrie
May 13, 2013 Carrie rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club, 2013
Two stars because it's not quite as bad as LeBron James' book.
Natalie Corey
Jul 06, 2015 Natalie Corey rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. I started it and finished it, but there were several eye rolls in the process. A lot of the story (and I use "story" literally - a lot of the plot points feel contrived) centers on the author patting himself on the back for enduring the mistreatment he endured at the hands of his superiors as well as his good looks that seem to attract EVERY woman he encounters. This was an easy read, though, and the short chapters made it easy to pick up and put down as time allowed. All-in-all, just ...more
Craig
Jun 27, 2012 Craig added it
Recommends it for: Nobody
Started to read it on a western Caribbean cruise in April. Knew it would be awful, but thought it might give me some insight into the lives onboard of the crew I would spend a week with.

It was bawful (beyond awful). Just no way to finish it. Yech.
Tara
Dec 29, 2011 Tara rated it it was ok
I love cruises. So when I saw this Kindle book for $2.99, I figured it would be worth a read. Plus I spent Thanksgiving in Florida with family, so I wanted something light and easy to read by the pool. Well, it was definitely light reading, but not really what I was expecting.

The full title of this book is "Cruise Confidential: A Hit Below the Waterling: Where the Crew Lives, Eats, Wars, and Parties. One Crazy Year Working on Cruise Ships." Uh...yeah. Longest title ever. Basically, Brian fell in
...more
David
Jan 18, 2010 David rated it liked it
A very interesting book. I work in the cruise industry(on land), and take a lot of cruises, so the book was very interesting. Plus, I could picture exactly on the ship he was talking about since I have been on very similar ships. Two criticisms, however:

1. The author seems to continually mention how many hours he worked and the punishment he took. After awhile it just wasn't convincing-in the end he said he worked many 15 hours a day-yet also said he only slept a few hours a night. While 15 hour
...more
Megalion
Apr 01, 2016 Megalion rated it it was amazing
Loved it!!

Highly enjoyable like the recently read "Heads in Beds" (by a hotel front desk agent) only without nearly as much swearing. It doesn't bother me either way but I know not everyone feels like I do. FYI, the swearing in this book comes from recounting of actual conversations with his fellow crew. After all... they are sailors!

What's particularly fascinating about this "behind the scenes" is that on cruise ships, the crew & staff are all from other countries. First world citizens ar
...more
Liz
Dec 31, 2010 Liz rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
Brian David Brun's memoir follows his year long contract on Carnival cruise ships.His experience was very unique as he was the first ever American server to finish a full contract in a Carnival dining room. His writing style/tone was also interesting. Mr. Brun's tone was that of a confidant if not cocky American, but he also comes across as a very likable, "life of the party" type guy. I still couldn't decide if I loved or loathed him by the end of the book.

As a cruise lover, I was looking for i
...more
Bonnie Morse
Aug 18, 2012 Bonnie Morse rated it really liked it
Shelves: people-be-crazy
I really enjoyed this little memoir of crew life on a Carnival cruise ship. It's definitely a job that only a lovesick man in his twenties would undertake. The hours, the labor, the lack of a reasonable social life sound unbearable, but his sense of humor and relentlessly upbeat attitude left me wanting more. Especially since he left us hanging in regards to whether or not he's still with the woman he endured all this for. I'm hoping there's a sequel.

What made me rate it down a star was the way
...more
Jamie Lynn Kiernan
Apr 16, 2015 Jamie Lynn Kiernan rated it liked it
I picked up Cruise Confidential upon returning from my first cruise. The trip had left me wanting to learn more about cruising, and I suppose I was hoping to extend my experience just a little longer (even if only through a book). This book chronicles the first year of the author's experience working on a cruise ship, providing a bit of a behind-the-scenes look into life working at sea. It is an entertaining enough casual book to read, but requires some significant suspension of disbelief. The d ...more
Jan
I have never been on a cruise ship, but I have worked with ESL folks from many different cultures, so I regard this narrative as less reality than wishful thinking. That being said, by regarding it as a fanciful tale full of ego and testosterone, I enjoyed it and laughed myself silly! I mean, come on, he is the best at everything? And everyone is constantly bedhopping? Really, he is NOT James Bond! And no one ever gets mal de mer or Traveller's Revenge? But if you take it as humor, it is hard ...more
Joy
Oct 29, 2011 Joy rated it it was ok
I picked this up after my first Carnival cruise because I didn't pay for the behind the scenes tour of the ship and this looked interesting. Ugh! My fault for not reading the reviews before purchasing it. The writing is horrendous. The dialogue is awful, the author is fond of both cliches and exclamation points, and his habit of using the word cat instead of God (as in cat bless you, or cat-willing) is just plain annoying.

There are a few interesting tidbits about cruise life scattered in betwee
...more
Julie
Jun 03, 2009 Julie rated it liked it
I'd give this a 2.5 if the option was available. I like the author's voice but his story was mostly boring with him getting drunk, being pursued by women and how proud he was of being faithful to his girlfriend, all while surviving on 4 hours of sleep a night. I would have rather read a bit more about interactions with passengers - who makes a good passenger vs. the ones from hell. The couple of stories about bad passengers were really interesting, such as the "Roundells" who ordered 6 entrees ...more
Jenny Brown
Apr 29, 2012 Jenny Brown rated it it was ok
Not a very good book. With some editing it would have made a nice long magazine article, but the author went on and on and on, for hundreds of pages, without telling us anything new. The point of the story seemed to be that he was an alcoholic who was irresistible to women.

To be fair he writes well enough that it wasn't painful to keep reading, once I realized it was just going to be more of the same. Fortunately this was one of those weeks when I needed a nice book to lull me to sleep after a
...more
Llyr
Aug 30, 2016 Llyr rated it it was ok
I was hoping this would be like the behind the scenes of the hotel book, Heads in a Bed, but this was more of a long journal where adventures repeated themselves. I had hoped for more backstories/information on the "cast of characters." Also, it could have used more editing. What editor thinks it's a good idea for all those exclamation marks? It felt like the author was shouting at me almost the whole time.
Colleen Wright
Jan 13, 2012 Colleen Wright rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this book. It is written in a very relaxed, humorous and friendly way. Quick read (8 hours). It was an entertaining read. A well written eye-opener to how hard the staff really works, and makes you remember there really is a "dark side" in every industry.
Joel Neff
Jan 06, 2012 Joel Neff rated it liked it
Recommends it for: travelers and wanna-be travelers.
Cruise Confidential is a fast, enjoyable read. It's lightheartedness reads as sincere rather than mocking and its brevity adds to its charm. For myself, it was a perfect choice for a cold January; the descriptions of warm tropics and lovely ladies provided a welcome relief from the dreariness outside.

The memoir tells the story of Brian David Bruns as he follows his girlfriend Bianca to sea as a Carnival Cruiseline employee and the misadventures he has while living and working on a series of crui
...more
Sherri
Feb 12, 2013 Sherri rated it liked it
If I was a twenty-something guy, I would have liked this book (and the author's narration) better. I don't really care how many women the author could have slept with, nor how increasingly muscular his body became, etc. I did not enjoy reading about the author's ego nor his own weird slang involving the word "Cat," such as "Holy Cat..." What kept this book from dipping into two stars are the details the author provided about cruising.

Evidently the author was the first American in Carnival's thi
...more
Skyring
Jan 25, 2012 Skyring rated it liked it
Patchy. I would have liked less of the office politics and drinking and sex, and more of the nuts and bolts of cruise crew and passenger interactions.

The long hours for low pay wasn't a surprise. I did a long cruise a couple of years back and our dinner waiter on the second sitting would be up at dawn doling out the hand sanitiser at the buffet. The stewards also got to earn their keep.

We would see the crew in their clean uniforms, apparently unruffled, but I got the feeling that there was a lot
...more
Mark
Jul 27, 2014 Mark rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social
Cruise Confidential gives the reader some insights into the ongoings behind the scenes on Carnival Cruiselines. It also give some a perspective of the people who takes these cruises. the information given here is straight forward if not a bit skewed towards the drinking and debauchery of those who work 80-100 hour weeks onboard the ships. Bruns' story is also straightforward: get a job because of a girl, Bianca his now wife.

I wanted to really like this book because Bruns' tales are indeed intere
...more
Bill Paton
Jun 04, 2011 Bill Paton rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Cruisers
Recommended to Bill by: No one
I bought Cruise Confidential to read on our May 2011 Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Dream. This book is based on the authors experiences as an American crew member aboard another Carnival cruise ship based out of Miami. The author is the only American crew member that has ever managed to complete a contract aboard one of these cruise ships. The difficult working conditions are such that the crew is made up mostly of Asians and Eastern Europeans. The book is interesting in that I could ...more
Lisa
Jan 06, 2011 Lisa rated it liked it
As a veteran cruiser (20+ years) and budding travel writer, the topic of this mini-memoir caught my eye while browsing through a bookstore. I had heard of the book and had read its mixed reviews, yet thought I would judge for myself -- and have my own mixed review to report. In most ways, I was not surprised -- I knew the general aspects of the crew's living and working conditions by talking with various waiters and cabin stewards over the years. Still, the picture painted by the author was ...more
Jenna
Jun 06, 2010 Jenna rated it it was ok
Shelves: travel-lit, memior
Cruise Confidential takes readers on an tour of the life of cruise ship workers. Brian, the author, is an American who decides to become part of the crew on Carnival cruise line to follow a woman. Everyone asks him, "Are you crazy, or just stupid?" He is the first American to finish a full contract working in the restaurants on Carnival.

As an avid cruiser, I was excited to read this book because I was curious about the inner workings of a cruise ship. How much does it really take? What does the
...more
Robin
Jun 15, 2009 Robin rated it really liked it
Good vacation reading but probably not best for when on a cruise. :)

Update: This was a revealing look at the behind-the-scenes life aboard a megaliner, in this case a Carnival cruise ship (Conquest, I think). The author becomes a dining room waiter aboard a Caribbean run and chronicles what really happens in the staff quarters and in the dining room. Brian writes about working 17-18 hour days and some of his rants are a little hard to believe (near the end he talks about a supervisor making him
...more
Rob
May 09, 2012 Rob rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, travel
It's not great. To an extent, it's interesting to look behind the scenes of a big cruise ship operation and find out how the crew is treated by management, how they all interact with one another, and all the things the general public might not know, but all that is overshadowed by the author's constant commentary about beautiful women and their physical attributes, drunk men, and the former having sex with the latter in stairwells. After a while, it just gets old. There was also a lot of ...more
Nikki
Dec 27, 2014 Nikki rated it really liked it
As someone who currently works on ships, I found this book incredibly entertaining, if slightly inaccurate. There are clearly either lots of things that have changed since Mr. Burns worked on ships, or more than a few things made up, but I believe the spirit of the book is true. For the most part, his stories about the parties are pretty exaggerated. There is just no way anyone on ships could show up to work hammered and still have a job five minutes later. Also, the hours he works makes me ...more
Wwmrsweasleydo
Oct 19, 2015 Wwmrsweasleydo rated it it was ok
Two and a half stars by the end, I think, but I thought it was going to be lucky to scrape a single star when I started it.

Be warned: Bruns is not a good writer. His prose is poor. He is not an immediately engaging person, though I warmed to him somewhat by the end of the book. He thinks he's terribly charming and amusing, which is unattractive enough, but a lot of what he says is predatory and demeaning to women, relies on negative racial stereotypes or is whiningly self-pitying or a judgement
...more
Amanda
Apr 16, 2012 Amanda rated it liked it
Cruise Confidential by Brian David Bruns is a laugh-out-loud introspective about life aboard a cruise ship. Most people only see these ships for a week or two at a time, living the glamorous life as experienced by guests. Bruns shows the behind the scenes accommodations and lifestyle as experienced by the crew.

The details provided in Cruise Confidential focus more on the story rather than the characters. It feels like Bruns was attempting to fully chronicle the one year he spent working for Car
...more
Crystal
Sep 19, 2015 Crystal rated it it was ok
R-rated, so I can't recommend it. It reads like a novel, because it probably is mostly fictional or exaggerated to the point of almost abandoning the truth. The author has a massive ego, so it is difficult to identify with him and sympathize with his plight. His purposes for being on the ship are completely unclear. No attractive, single, young man is going to endure the sweatshop of ship life for a woman who scorns and ignores him. It's down right laughable. But the author is an interesting ...more
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Mr. Bruns is an internationally award-winning author with books lauded by the Travel Channel, Today Show, and USA Today. He has contributed to The Travel Channel, The Daily Beast, BBC, and CNN. His Cruise Confidential series has on two separate occasions been featured by ABC 20/20.

Bruns has thrice won national Book of the Year honors. His pen name for fiction is B.D. Bruns: look for it on Goodrea
...more
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