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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

(Cruise Confidential #1)

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  1,380 ratings  ·  184 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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3.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,380 ratings  ·  184 reviews

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May 10, 2009 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.
Dec 05, 2011 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
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club, 2013
Two stars because it's not quite as bad as LeBron James' book.
Jul 28, 2009 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
Oct 10, 2011 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
Jul 06, 2015 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
Aug 20, 2009 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.
Nov 06, 2011 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
May 13, 2013 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
Dec 27, 2010 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
Bonnie Morse
Aug 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jamie Lynn Lufrano
Feb 28, 2015 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
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 no ...more
Jun 03, 2009 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 a ...more
Jenny Brown
Apr 29, 2012 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
Llyr Heller-Humphreys
Aug 30, 2016 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 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.
Lynn Smith
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I found this book on Amazon and chose to read it due to my love of cruising and the mostly high reviews. The book did not disappoint. The writer is both engaging and entertaining with his stories of living and working on a Carnival cruise ship for a year. The stories are mostly humorous and thankfully the author didn't feel the need to delve in more detail into the sexual misadventures of the crew. My largest complaint with the author is his seeming need for affirmation. He mentions far too ofte ...more
Read half the book and gave up. I give it two stars for the beginning chapters which give some insight into the inner workings of a cruise ship. After that, the story devolves into a continual drunken sleep deprived near orgy. Ugh. This guy is absolutely the worst. He's a complete narcissistic pig who pats himself on the back on every other page just because he had the moral compass to not sleep with EVERY woman on this ship while he was in a committed relationship. And the title says "Cruise Co ...more
I really enjoyed the book despite a few obvious flaws. Learning about the workers' life on the ships was interesting while meeting yet another sexy Eastern European co-worker of Brian who, of course, was attracted to him (they all were) got old after a while. He didn't succumb to all their advances by the way, staying true to his girlfriend. So, yes, I would cut the repetitive scenes of partying, getting drunk and having sex on the dance floor, not because I am a prude but these scenes were basi ...more
Nikki Pennell
May 09, 2017 rated it liked it
This was an enjoyable book to read but I feel like the writer was a bit too conceited. I kind of got sick of hearing about how every woman he encountered wanted to sleep with him. I would have preferred less of the drinking/partying/sex aspect and more of what it is actually like working on a cruise ship - like interesting guest encounters and stories. As an example, at the back of the book the author includes a list of "stupid questions" guests have actually asked. I would have really loved to ...more
Marsha Johnson Davis
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
I finished this book while on my 9th Carnival cruise. This book is written by and about the experience of an American, Brian Bruns, who worked on a Carnival cruise ship in the dining area. Though it did give a bit of an insight about how hard these employees work, I do think there was some exaggeration on the amount of drinking or at least I hope so. These workers do too good of a job to be that intoxicated the way the authors makes it out to be. But the title does detail what the book is about. ...more
Steve Webster
Sep 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Having just been on a Carnival cruise I was curious about what it is like to be a lowly crew member on such a ship - even more interesting to hear if said crew member was American. Life consisted of work, sleep deprivation, unfair treatment and excessive partying. The question he was asked throughout, "are you crazy or just stupid?" is probably best answered, "a little of both". His story shows that with optimism and sticking up for yourself, you can succeed anywhere and maybe you can find true ...more
DK Briggs
Sep 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Eye opening and alarming all at the same time! As an avid cruiser I found this to be slightly disturbing, entertaining and almost unbelievable. The author did an amazing job recalling conversations and completely documenting his entire cruise life experience. It seems criminal how they can control and work people the way they do, yet every cruise I've been on I have yet to encounter an employee that was disgruntled or unfriendly. Very easy to read and a page turner for me. I had a hard time putt ...more
Sleepless Trudy
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have been on several cruises and wondered how many hours a day did the staff work? This book gives a very realistic view of how hard the crew works. The ships are not American ships and don't fall under U.S. labor laws. The crews are from all over the world and many from very poor places and the money they make is sent home to support their families. The question everyone wants to know is why would an American work on a Cruise ship?
Brian Wallis
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you've ever been on a cruise you've probably wondered how the staff lives and works on the ship. While not a comprehensive look Brian Bruns gives a entertaining account of his time working on Carnival. I do think this is a true account from Brian's perspective (as they say there is my version, your version and the truth - it would be interesting to find out what the other crew members thought of Brian).

I recommend this book if you are obsessed with cruises like I am!
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very interesting look into life onboard a ship as an American crew worker. As a fan of cruising, it was interesting and at some times funny to think of the crew and the shenanigans behind the scenes. If you are a fan of cruising or just want to know what all happens "below deck" then you should check this book out.
Dawn Brookes
Starts off well and provides an interesting insight into the lives of those who live below the waterline on a cruise ship. It unfortunately loses its way in the middle and the author becomes a little bit too narcissistic and one becomes unsure about the reality of the events that unfold afterwards. It is nevertheless quite entertaining, particularly the first half.
Jul 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Here is a first hand account of what happens on cruise ships that the public does not see. Sounds like very little sleep, lots of work and lots and lots of alcohol is involved. I had no idea. I love going on cruises. I think that I have been a "good" guest, but will be even more aware in the future!
Amy Ogle
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cruise Confidential is not your typical "Behind that Scenes of a Cruise Ship " book. It is a day in the life of a American Cruise Worker. The details of the working conditions, the challenges, and rewards to working on a cruise line were expressed vividly. It was an easy read with a fresh perspective.
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Brian David Bruns has adventured in over 50 nations to gather material for his bestselling books. He has won over 20 literary awards, including the USA REBA Grand Prize. He has been featured on two separate occasions by ABC's 20/20.

After several years residing in Dracula’s hometown, he and his Romanian wife now live in Las Vegas with their two cats, Julius and Caesar. Since 2013 he has volunteered

Other books in the series

Cruise Confidential (4 books)
  • Ship for Brains
  • Unsinkable Mister Brown (Cruise Confidential)
  • High Seas Drifter
“Everyone, from every corner of the globe, was horrified to learn Americans intentionally destroy the entire nutritional value of salads by smothering them in thick condiments made of buttermilk and sugar.” 0 likes
“I always put the pretty ladies on the dessert station,” he continued. “Guests love it. I only want women sweeter than sugar.” 0 likes
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