Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lemme take you on a sea cruise

Believe it or not, we are only two months away from the annual summer occupation of our docks. In the spirit of the approaching tourist season, I would like to offer up a new book: Cruise Confidential: a hit below the waterline by Brian David Bruns. Bruns spent a year working restaurant duty for Carnival Cruise Lines. To truly appreciate this feat, you apparently have to know that there is a rigid international hierarchy on board ship, and that the job you have on board is usually directly related to what country you're from (Brits and Americans are always Entertainment). You also have to know that in the entire 30-year history of Carnival Cruise Lines, Bruns is the only American to stick out his entire 8-month contract as a waiter.
The book is a little like an expose, in that it details the seedy side of life aboard the ship (heavy drinking, promiscuous behavior, petty squabbles that erupt into fistfights....and that's just the passengers). Bruns also gets a crash course in international relations and diplomacy as he works against the stereotypes of Americans harbored by the crew. Some of these stereotypes are perfectly justified...he's the only member of the staff who is not multilingual and he's shocked to find that he is sharing a hotel room when he arrives in Miami for training.
I was personally interested in the book because my cousin has spent the last two years working for Holland America (he's Canadian, so naturally he's in Entertainment). When he docks in town this summer, I will be sure to ask him if he's read this book and if everything is true to form. Somehow, I suspect that there is very little hyperbole here....anyone up for a career change?

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