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About this blog

Laughs, dramas, and data from below the waterline. From author of national best-seller Cruise Confidential, Brian David Bruns.

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Extreme Cruise Ship Fire Training

Extreme Cruise Ship Fire Training

Cruise ships are floating flaming death traps of incendiary Hell, according to the media lately. Since nobody has actually died during all these cruise ship fires, they’ve switched to reminding us that after all these cruise ship fires good people are left stranded in cabins full of feces. We cruisers know how absurd all that crap is (pardon the pun). But fire is indeed the greatest threat to safety on ships, now as it has always been. Allow me to share the extent of fire team training on ships:

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

A Bridge Full of Surprises

A Bridge Full of Surprises

Most cruise ships restrict access to the bridge. In this post-9/11 world, you don't want just anyone traipsing up there and playing with the controls. One would think such restrictions equate a higher level of on-sight security and maybe, just maybe, a higher level of discipline and professionalism. I'm happy to relate that such is not always the case. My first visit to a ship's bridge in an official capacity revealed an entirely different scene than I had predicted. I was ordered to report to t

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

Haunted Cruise Ship

Haunted Cruise Ship

I swear I'm not turning morbid. I am, however, turning 40. Maybe that's why this and my last post are a bit on the 'end of life' side. Here's a selection from my new book, Cruise a la Carte. *** “I saw a ghost.” “Mm hmm,” I replied. “Really, mate!” Rick insisted. I looked up from my magazine, waiting casually for the flood of profanity sure to follow. I need not wait long. “A bloody, f@*#ing goddamn ghost!” he continued. His brow furrowed deeply and he stared at the

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

Does the cruise have to end?

Does the cruise have to end?

When you, dear passenger, step off the gangway for the last time, you are filled with a despondency that is barely tempered by the memories of good times. Why, oh why, you lament, does the cruise have to end? Ah, but it doesn’t have to end! Now you can book a cruise that is the last you’ll ever need to arrange. For you, the cruise will never, ever end. Indeed, it’s for eternity. Cool, huh? Not really. You’ll be dead. My Final Cruise specializes in arranging details for those who have ‘moved

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

Rumble Yell: Discovering America's Biggest Bike Ride

Rumble Yell: Discovering America's Biggest Bike Ride

Hello all! I'm not dead. I promise. I greatly appreciate the inquiries about where I've gone. I've been insanely busy with preparation for my new book, Rumble Yell. This will be released this summer, but before that there is a big ol' project that I'm launching with Kickstarter to get it into my fan's lovingly greedy little hands sooner. So with all necessary apologies for this blog not being about ships, I would like to share with you an adventure I had, which led to surely my funniest book.

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

My Second Most Embarrassing Moment

My Second Most Embarrassing Moment

Funny how nobody wants to hear my wisdom gained from years working at sea. No, the biggest response I’ve gotten was from my most embarrassing moment! Being blackmailed into performing a strip-tease was indeed embarrassing, though assuaged by a kiss from a pretty lady. The following moment, however, was embarrassing front-to-back. It involved singing. I had only been aboard as a manager-in-training a very short time when Legend scored a mighty 98 out of 100 on its USPH health inspection. Thi

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

Carnival Blames Passengers

Carnival Blames Passengers

People can be annoying. When on vacation—especially on a cruise ship—they can be even more annoying. Perhaps some people figure anonymity makes rude behavior OK. Perhaps some people are just so relaxed, or so centered on their hard-earned focus on self, they let little things slide. Perhaps some people are just assholes. (just being honest) Sometimes guests misbehaving is small. The most annoying thing I recall from my four years working on cruise ships was quite small. I think that’s why i

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

Triumph Isn't the Grossest Ship at Sea

Triumph Isn't the Grossest Ship at Sea

The Carnival Triumph safely returned to port after an ordeal at sea. I’m happy to say that, during the intense media coverage on CNN and other networks—which I was corralled into—passengers unanimously praised the tireless hard work and positive attitude of the crew. There were many horror stories about poor sanitation on the crippled ship. Alas, these are not always relegated to disaster. Allow me to share a particularly gross ship I worked on for months. We crew endure this for you, dear passe

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

What You Don't Know About Norovirus

What You Don't Know About Norovirus

You need to know two things to understand the norovirus issue that plagues us every year (pardon the pun). Surprisingly, neither covers how to avoid getting it, though the second point is absolutely the single most important overlooked fact in understanding the issue. First: norovirus is not just a ship problem. In fact, it’s barely on ships at all, compared to how many land-based institutions are struck every year right in your own city. Norovirus is common throughout all of North America

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

Titanic Dining Returns to... Where?!

Titanic Dining Returns to... Where?!

1912, North Atlantic Ocean 1952, Trianon Palace Hotel, Versailles 2012, Lake Las Vegas What do these three locations have in common? A sunken unsinkable ship. Duh. We’ll all heard of the ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic. We all know she was built for the super-rich, having the most elegant designs, the newest technologies, the oldest wines, and Europe’s finest chefs. We’ve all seen the movie—unless you’re a heartless communist. (Just kidding). Many of us know the immortal names associated

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

My Most Embarrassing Cruise Moment

My Most Embarrassing Cruise Moment

My last cruise as a waiter on Carnival Conquest was one to remember. My section was filled with twenty coeds just graduated from college: all 22, brainy, and beautiful. These women wanted to party and indulge in every aspect of the Fun Ships they could. This meant lethal flirting with their hapless waiter, even in ports (accompanying pic is with them in Cozumel). I was in heaven. At the end of the first dinner, my ladies remained long after. They asked a flurry of questions, like “Are you s

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

Are You a Cheap Tipper?

Are You a Cheap Tipper?

Do you ever wonder if you are merely cheap or actually a horrible person? Tipping is highly variable from culture to culture, and even gratuity-savvy passengers are lost at sea on cruise ships. What tips are expected, what’s appropriate, what’s… ‘normal’? Confusion surrounding this issue was intentionally created by the cruise lines themselves. The open secret is that the majority of staff is paid hardly anything at all. Cruise lines hide this behind gratuities. Especially with the rise to

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

Is Cruise Ship Security Corrupt?

Is Cruise Ship Security Corrupt?

Yes, cruise ship security is corrupt. Not paid off to smuggle drugs or anything—oh no. Something far more criminal… 2AM. I nervously entered the crew cabin way down on B Deck. Victorio, a serious-looking Filipino, motioned me to sit. Both bunks already held two or three men, the bathroom door opened to reveal several more. The floor of both tiny chambers was fully filled by coolers. I wiggled in beside the others. Victorio asked, “You bring it?” A flash of nerves jolted me. Shaking my

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

How Dirty Are Cruise Ships?

How Dirty Are Cruise Ships?

Some people go to great lengths to ‘protect’ themselves from cruise-borne germs. I’m not talking about the obsessive-compulsive disorder folks who have a legitimate obsession. I’m talking about the sheltered, paranoid freaks who no longer enjoy the benefit of healthy immune systems because they have utterly destroyed every bacterium on their persons with anti-bacterial gels, creams, and probably suppositories. Many a cruise guest enters his/her cabin and promptly wipes down every conceivable wel

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

Why You Bribe Cruise Agents

Why You Bribe Cruise Agents

Congratulations to my latest cruise book, Unsinkable Mister Brown, which won the bronze at the London Book Festival. This marks the second international award for the book, (also took the silver medal in Paris). For those not familiar with my Cruise Confidential series, Unsinkable Mister Brown is the third book, but actually a prequel and a good starting place. I say an excerpt is in order! Here’s how to get a job on a cruise ship: persistence, bribes, and a lot of lies! An hour later we we

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

The Truth About Life Raft Survival

The Truth About Life Raft Survival

If your ship sinks and you’re stranded, without food or water, with only an open boat and your own resources, can you stay alive? Sure! This was proven in rather dramatic fashion by Frenchman Alain Bombard, who believed people could survive such trials. On October, 19, 1953 he voluntarily set off from the Canary Islands to cross the Atlantic in a 15 foot rubber boat. He intended to make it to the West Indies. Not a scrap of food. Not a drop of water. Just his clothes and an inflatable

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

How Often Do Cruise Ships Collide?

How Often Do Cruise Ships Collide?

Working midnight buffet, I sensed something was wrong. Ketchup bottles slid to port. All of them, in unison. Any sharp turn was amplified up here on deck 14, but Conquest continued to list further… further…. Silverware bundles tumbled off tables. Then plates. The ship keeled more. Waiters were ordered to the dish room to manually hold up stacks of plates and saucers. Glasses were deemed safe in their washing racks. But it was too late. Sharp crashes cried entire stacks of plates were gone… one…

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

Cruise Cabin Cage Fight

Cruise Cabin Cage Fight

One would think that having my own, personal cabin would protect me from unwelcome surprises due to strangers. One would be wrong. First sight of my cabin on Sensation was a doozy. It was an interior guest cabin with beds against two different walls. The room reeked of fish. “What’s with the separate bunks?” I asked my departing counterpart, Robin. “Aren’t you here with your girlfriend?” He was about to answer when a very tall, attractive woman entered. She was six feet tall and, while plea

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

Diary of an Overwhelmed Cruise Ship Employee

Diary of an Overwhelmed Cruise Ship Employee

I stumbled onto this blog by “Crewbar Queen,” begun on two separate sites several years ago. She obviously held a staff position, based on the ease of her entry into ships. She didn’t see it that way. Her words, filled with anxiety and confusion, moved me. All crew can relate to her every word. Below is her only post. “It’s Sunday and I joined the ship today. I am already exhausted. I look around as I type this, staring at the four walls of this closet size cabin with four beds in it. Soon

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

Anatomy of a Conch

Anatomy of a Conch

The anatomy of a conch is a curious and unnerving thing. “Yeah, mon,” said the Bahamian in the conch shack by the sea. “Take da skin and eyes right off, den trow dem in da water. Dey live by demselves for two more days.” My friend Laureen leaned over the counter to get a better look. In Donny’s hands was a large conch shell and a knife. “No, uh, gills or organs or anything?” I asked. “Just the skin? Living?” Donny demonstrated. Experienced fingers pulled from the shell a floppy, p

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

Are Cruise Ship Doctors Safe?

Are Cruise Ship Doctors Safe?

Few things bring out fear, prejudice, and ethnocentrism more completely than medical care on cruise ships. We’re all subject to a bit of this. After all, when ill, who doesn’t prefer mom’s chicken soup over an injection, regardless of how credentialed the medical professional may be? Alas, mom’s not on the cruise, so we have to rely on the ship’s medical staff. But is he/she credentialed? Yes. Is he/she what you are used to at home? No. Does it matter? Probably not. First, the scare-tactics

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

Halloween Crew Party

Halloween Crew Party

Halloween is the one glorious night where you are not only free, but encouraged, to embrace that which brings fear and loathing into the hearts and minds of common man. A cross-dressing man fits into that category as snugly as, say, Freddie Kruger or H.R. Giger’s Alien. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Gathering a Halloween costume of any kind while sailing the Mediterranean is no small task, but even more so on the Wind Surf. Though the world’s largest sailing ship, she was st

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

Cabin Swapping

Cabin Swapping

The ringing phone woke me up and a woman unceremoniously asked, “Are you ready?” Her voice was husky, accent sexy. Surely this was a dream…? I blinked and rubbed my sleep-stung eyes. “Cabin swap,” she explained brusquely, squashing any fantasies. I asked her what she meant. That was a mistake. “You not ready yet?!” she exploded angrily. “We only have hour before check-in! What the Hell you been doing you #@%$& lazy %#&$*!” “I’ve been sleeping!” I retorted, waking fast. “I work

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

Crew Survival Training

Crew Survival Training

Survival training is an amusing label for watching a few videos on watertight doors and garbage separation, followed by quizzes on how many kilojoules of energy each survivor on a life raft was allocated per day. Still, the films are far from boring. These are shockers reminiscent of what I saw on graduation day at my high school driving class. ‘Blood Flows Red on the Highway’ becomes ‘Blood Flows Red on the High Seas.’ There were simulations of sinking ships and drowning people more intense tha

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

Why Your Waiter is a Thief

Why Your Waiter is a Thief

The shortage of necessary materials in a cruise ship dining room is a serious issue, but not for the reason one might think. Each waiter is assigned a specific amount of silverware and a single rack to hold it. Fanatically guarding your silver is a matter of course on Carnival ships, and every rack is profoundly labeled. Because names are extremely confusing on ships (what, with 60 nationalities aboard), many draw pictures instead. As the only American waiter in the fleet, I drew the Stars &

BrianDavidBruns

BrianDavidBruns

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