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Cruise Confidential: A Hit Below the Waterline

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  1,161 Ratings  ·  160 Reviews
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 range fr ...more
ebook, 386 pages
Published February 24th 2009 by Travelers' Tales Guides (first published January 1st 2007)
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May 10, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club, 2013
Two stars because it's not quite as bad as LeBron James' book.
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 28, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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 Kiernan
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
Oct 10, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 03, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nikki Pennell
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
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Saga of of man's year of working on a cruise ship while seeking a woman on another ship becomes boring and repetitive quickly and is about three times longer than it needs to be. It may be summed up thusly: American workers are extremely rare on Carnival cruises; cruise ship workers toil for many hours a week; when they're off, cruise ship workers party heartily. Rinse, repeat!
A writer with some talent but rather full of himself. I doubt that his description of life on a cruise ship is quite as he describes it--virtually no sleep, rampant sexual escapades by various crew members, and his ongoing chastity. But I found it a somewhat engaging read nonetheless.
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, not-for-me
As someone who has been on several cruises, I loved reading this behind-the-scenes look. The author even spent time on two of the exact Carnival ships that I have been on!
Mike Randrup
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a fun look behind the scenes on cruise ships.
Joel Neff
Jan 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 07, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 22, 2014 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
Bill Paton
May 12, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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 vivi ...more
May 30, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
More about Brian David Bruns...
“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
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