Ok, I confess. A zillion or so years ago when I was in junior high school I used to watch The Love Boat every Saturday night and always thought how neat it would be to work on a cruise ship. Apparently, so did author Brian David Bruns whose Cruise Confidential is an engaging memoir of a year spent working aboard the ships of the Royal Carribean cruise line. After falling in love with a Romainian woman who worked as a waitress on the ships, Bruns goes to a great deal of trouble to get himself hired on as a waiter, ignoring the repeated warnings that no Americans work on the ships and that the job is far, far more demanding than any in the United States.
The work indeed seems brutally punishing and demanding, with work days often extending from five or six a.m. up until well after midnight. The workers, who sign contracts agreeing to work for periods of six months to a year, are not subject to US labor laws and are protected only by an international seamen’s union, which seems to insure only that they are paid very low wages. Life “below the waterline”, on the lowest levels of the ship where the crew live in very cramped cabins seems to be a combination of strict regimentation and wild debauchery. Parties for the crew on days when no guests are aboard are extreme drunken orgies. I found it fascinating to learn about crew life, and Bruns’ memoir certainly cured me of any desire to ever work aboard ship. If you are a cruise ship or Love Boat fan, Cruise Confidential is Highly Recommended. Buy now $14.95