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  1. After 25 cruises it shocked me that I had not yet sailed onboard Norwegian Cruise Line and I knew I was way overdue to experience "Freestyle Cruising." Fast forward a few months, and I find myself on a train racing toward Grand Central Station to Board the Norwegian Escape to Bermuda! Perk number 1 of NCL departing out of Manhattan, it is the most convenient departure port for New Englanders that is a train, bus or car ride away. With the taxi, Uber and Lyft drop off directly in front of the terminal getting from Port Authority Bus Station or Grand Central Train Station could not be easier and takes about 10 minutes. Once you arrive at the Pier, your luggage is taken by a porter, and you are through security in about 5 minutes. Check-In: After security things got a little confusing, with lines every which way but little signage that directed me to where we needed to be, however, I believe this was because the Escape was very new to New York, I did find my way and was happy to be so close to boarding. I am very used to a check-in process that is different from Norwegians'. Typically my onboard expense account is set up when I check in online 2-3 weeks before my cruise, with Norwegian this is not, currently, an option and your expense account is handled at the pier. This lead to noticeable longer wait times to check in and was clear to me that the expense account was the reason for this, especially with chip cards. After the longer than normal check-in process, Thanks to Norwegian, my friend and I were quickly escorted onto the Escape before any other passengers and then the fun began! Boarding: Stepping onto the ship was that same feeling you get every time that feeling of escape, relaxation and excitement for the week that awaits you. The one thing that I was most excited to see was 678 Ocean Place! The hub of the ship did not disappoint, with a marvelous multi-colored Chandelier dangling in the center, I immediately realized that this was going to be my favorite part of the ship! Booking Onboard Experiences: I have been on quite a few ships that have well over 4,300 passengers and have always been able to make reservations online before sailing. With Norwegian, I realized that there is a significant amount of onboard experience that you can only book once you are onboard. We were lucky enough to be the second people in line and finished booking everything that we needed and even though we just booked three activities it took about 20 minutes for the crew member in the box office to do this and an extremely long line formed behind us, definitely not the way I want to start off a cruise. So I would make sure this is your first stop when boarding to try and avoid lines! Garden Cafe: The buffet area onboard Norwegian Escape, the Garden Cafe, had a lovely relaxed vibe with hand washing stations at every entrance and a large variety of foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night snacks until 12 A.M! Dinner was a different global influence every night, with breakfast and lunch remaining consistent throughout the cruise! Accommodation: We were booked in a Family Balcony Stateroom on deck 9. The stateroom was spacious, had plenty of storage space, a mini refrigerator, hairdryer, television, plenty of outlets included one on each side of the bed and a beautiful view from the spacious private veranda! This stateroom has the capacity of 4 people with a bunk bed that drops from the ceiling and a sofa bed with plenty of room to move around! Freestyle Dining: Freestyle dining was the best, included, dining I have ever experienced on a cruise ship! Being able to choose a different restaurant and time every night was fantastic. I was expecting a different menu in each restaurant; however, most everything on the menu is the same in each restaurant, but the atmosphere is different in each one! For those of you who are unfamiliar with "Freestyle Dining," this is how it works. You can make reservations for one of, typically, three "main dining rooms" in this case we had choices of the Manhattan Room, Savor, and Taste. Each restaurant has the same menu and same times, but you can enjoy different atmospheres, times and wait staff every night! So say goodbye to being stuck in one dining room, at the same table, at the same time for the length of your cruise and hello to freedom to do what you like! For those of you who still enjoy the traditional way of dining with the same place, time and waitstaff you can do that too! To ensure you have the same time place and waitstaff every night go to a hostess at the very beginning of your cruise and let them know that is what you want and they will make it work! Onboard Activities: The Norwegian Escape is the first ship in the Breakaway Plus class of ships, so there are many activities onboard with but unfortunately laser tag and Go Karts did not make it onboard ? #firstworldproblem, am I right?) Waterslides: An absolute must try, my only regret was not trying them sooner. The Escape is equipped with two freefall slides and one "Aqua Racer" which is a nice relaxing slide! So you can opt for the exhilaration of the racer slides or the laid back lazy Aqua Racer slide and have the time of your life on both! Ropes Course: I understand why the Go-Kart tracks have replaced this, it was anti-climatic, at least for adults I can see children from 7-15 enjoying this activity. Is it worth doing, of course, but only once per cruise is fine! Learn More about Norwegian Cruise Line's onboard features here! Onboard Entertainment: While on a cruise that is overnight in a port it is easy to miss the onboard entertainment, but we made it a point to try and get to everything we could! The comedy shows onboard were offered almost every night both for families and for adults only. Of course, we chose the adults-only show and we left Howl at the Moon exhausted from laughter! The on-stage shows offered onboard Escape currently are, After Midnight and For the Record: The Brat Pack. Both shows are can't miss, it is a bit difficult to follow the story but the talent is OUT OF THIS WORLD do not miss one show! The small shows such as the Newly Wed game and similar shows were typically held in the Atrium, each show was unique and had its distinctive flair. In addition to small shows, you can also see cooking demonstrations, dance classes, cruise ship 101 and more in the atrium daily! Learn More about Norwegian Cruise Line's onboard entertainment here! Disembarkation: Although this is the worst part of the cruise, regardless if the process is smooth or not we all know smoother disembarkation is preferred over a prolonged wait for the enviable (reality). Disembarking the Escape was, and I hate to say it, the most unorganized process I have ever experienced. Now I definitely can not place all of the blame on Norwegian because it seemed that customs and the coast guard slowed them down, a lot. So disembarkation was quite horrible, but we were able to get a glimpse of the Norwegian Bliss, so that made everything better! Ratings: The below ratings are based on a 5 "wave" 5 being the best and 1 the worst, and it is waves because why not! These ratings are strictly opinion based and does not necessarily reflect the views of Cruise Ship Crayz TM. Check-in and embarkation: 3 Waves Some improvement is needed on the organizational side at the Manhattan cruise terminal to speed up the check-in process. Security is quick and Easy! Onboard Dining: Included Dining: 5 Waves The food onboard the Escape was some of the best-included food I have had at sea in a long time, and of course, the service was impeccable! Specialty Dining: I can not give a rating because I enjoyed the main dining rooms so much I forgot to try one! Onboard Activities: Solid 4 Waves The wide variety of activities offed onboard the Escape keep you busy all day, but I didn't get that WOW factor from the activities. Onboard Entertainment: 4 Waves As mentioned above The talent was incredible, but I was looking for more of a storyline, still can't miss shows! Accommodations: 5 Waves We loved our stateroom and attendant, and we had more than enough space to spread out and unpack completely! Disembarkation: 2 Waves Disembarkation was horrendous with people coming from all direction to get in a line that I am still looking for. I would opt for the express walk off! Overall I absolutely loved my first Freestyle cruising experience and can not wait to be back onboard a Norwegian cruise ship! I would highly recommend cruising onboard a Norwegian cruise to anyone, especially those with children! Click here to learn more about Norwegian Cruise Line and the Norwegian Escape!
  2. Hello All, I'm Joe, and I am the Founder and CEO of Cruise Ship Crayz (cruiseshipcrayz.com) I been working closely with Jason to bring some fantastic content to the incredible cruise crazies community! One topic that I know we all want to know more about is all the new cruise ships coming out! 2018 has already been a crazy year for new ships! Debuting in 2018 we have already had Symphony of the Seas, Norwegian Bliss, and Carnival Horizon each of the ships are the largest in their fleets. With all these new ships coming out and more on the way what are the questions and comments on these ships?
  3. 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: an oft-cited paper by Consumer Affairs in 2002 found medical facilities on ships lacking. They were quite harsh without actually providing much data. For example, they claimed a survey conducted by the American Medical Association found 27% of ship doctors and nurses did not have ‘advanced training’ in treating heart attacks. They did not define ‘advanced training,’ so even a gastroenterologist serving a stint at sea could easily be considered unqualified. Yet these ‘severely lacking’ individuals, as the article called them, have a success rate that puts U.S. hospitals to shame. Indeed, losing merely .000004% of such patients are odds I’ll take any day! Those are numbers cited in that very same article, by the way. The language was damning. The numbers were not. Ship doctors rarely see passengers for anything beyond dehydration or stomach ache. The overwhelming majority of medical issues you’ll have on a cruise will be what you brought with you: heart attacks being most common. Time is the most important issue in treating heart attack, not size of the facility. Still not convinced? Consider: “living on a cruise ship provides a better quality of life and is cost effective for elderly people who need help to live independently”, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (2004). Many elderly, high-risk folks hop from ship to ship, more than satisfied with ship facilities and personnel. A brilliant article from CNN Health explains much of ship doctor training: http://brev.is/pzt3 I’ve met many a cruise ship nurse and doctor. More than a few are American surgeons and nurse practitioners that have taken tours as ship medical personnel for a change of pace. But most ship doctors are not licensed in the U.S. That doesn’t mean they haven’t been licensed professionals for a great many years back home. That home may be from Europe, for example, or Africa. This is where ethnocentrism rears its ugly head. Whispers of witch doctors. I’ve read online complaints (generally from my fellow Americans) of “some African doctor identifying my wife’s ailment as caused by her sins and prescribing a bath in the blood of Jesus Christ.” I find this as plausible as reports of Elvis sightings. Ultimately, cruise lines are not required to provide medical care at all. You are placing yourself under the perceived protection of a corporation; corporations that intentionally pay taxes in one country, register ships in another, hire employees from many, take passengers from yet more, then sail where there are no laws at all. If you have an underlying medical condition or concern, it behooves you to take responsibility for your own care by research and preparation. As ships often mention, their medical facilities are the equivalent of a small town. If a medical emergency emerges beyond the abilities of the ship, you will be helicoptered off to the nearest hospital. If that’s not in the U.S., so be it. If you are that terrified of the rest of the world’s standards, then don’t leave home. By Brian David Bruns, author of national best-seller Cruise Confidential. Pics of the people and places I blog about are on my website and FB pages, join me! www.BrianDavidBruns.com https://www.facebook.com/BrianDavidBruns
  4. 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 & Stripes, which may or may not have been more intimidating than my colleague who covered his rack with superbly drawn, realistically creepy bats. Anyone caught ‘borrowing’ from a waiter’s soiled rack during mealtime faced a severe reprimand. Anyone caught pinching clean silver risked decapitation. At the end of the first seating, waiters would rush their silver to the dishwasher and refuse to leave until the precious cargo was fully cleaned and accounted for. Those who simply hadn’t the time for such protection were forced to rely on the goodwill of the dishwashers to keep prying hands away. Needless to say, dishwashers enjoyed a healthy gratuity for ensuring this “goodwill”. We waiters did not begrudge them, as our less-than minimum wage was generous compared to a dishwasher’s salary. At first, I was disgusted with Carnival’s apparent inability to supply their employees with necessary equipment. Every station was required to have X number of saucers, water glasses, wine glasses, silverware, side plates, coffee cups, etc. Yet there was simply never enough of any of these items. Absurdly, a nightly inventory was required and all items were displayed openly upon the tables for counting. Specialty items in particularly high demand, like butter dishes (because guests stole them, too), were exposed for all to pinch (steal). So after all that hard work serving guests, waiters endured unpaid guard duty over their stations and waited for the appropriate manager to OK their station. After being cleared and departing, thieving packs of waiters descended upon these stations to gather what they needed for their own inspection. For, to pass the inventory, a waiter was required to steal from another that had already been designated as fully stocked. A nasty consequence of this was that waiters arrived at their stations an hour early—off the clock—to steal it back. Or as much as they could, anyway. The whole thing was bizarre, and completely inimical to the cruise line’s insatiable and unrealistic demands for superior service. Only after observing the restaurant staff did I begin to understand Carnival’s policy. The attitude of most waiters was one of extreme indifference towards property. Breakage was exceptionally high because no one cared about the cost. Carnival was a billion-dollar sweat-shop, so why should an over-worked, under-paid waiter care if he dropped a cup? But twenty broken cups a night on each of twenty ships added up in a hurry! By demanding that each station be equipped completely and enforcing it nightly, Carnival threw the responsibility right back onto the waiters. Breakage was thusly low. Frustration thusly high. Any waiter wanting to get tipped by all his guests—his only salary for the whole cruise—had to focus on preventing breakage. How else can you make happy twenty-six guests simultaneously demanding coffee when you only have ten cups and eight saucers? Pinching on the go was mandatory. Yet even legitimate accidents did not guarantee replacement of necessary equipment. The system was brutal but effective; a metaphor for all things at sea. For more back of the house surprises, my book Cruise Confidential is full of them. I ran the gamut of the restaurants, from busboy up to management (and back down to waiter!). Brian David Bruns
  5. Like in any big city, few stars can be seen at night on a cruise ship. Even if sailing black waters with black sky far from mankind, the ships themselves blast so much light pollution that you see nothing but black. It’s just like how stars are not visible from the surface of the moon. I pondered this while at the stern rail, as aft, port, and starboard were impenetrable black. Far beyond the bow, however, the orange glow of oil refineries illuminated the swamps of Louisiana. We were nearing the mouth of the Mississippi River and occasional navigation beacons of red and green popped through the broken surface of the sea. “What happens if I fall overboard?” a man had asked me earlier. It was such a common question that my answer had become habit. “The ship will stop and a boat will pick you up.” But this was only half true. I gazed into the wake of the ship and watched the brown water churn. The waves looked very small indeed from the top decks. If the hundred-plus foot fall did not kill the passenger, he would disappear in the gargantuan swells. Fortunately, it is unlikely modern azipod propellers would chop him into chum. Safety training was very clear in the case of a man overboard: throw a life-ring first, then call the bridge. People assume the life-ring is simply a flotation device, but it is in fact much more. A person’s head will disappear from sight within seconds from the deck of a big ship. After throwing a life ring we were trained to grab someone, anyone, to physically point at the swimmer and not stop until he’s found, no matter how long it takes. That physical act of pointing is paramount, for even if aware of the swimmer, he’ll be lost in less than one minute at sea. But at night? And if no one sees you fall? Goodbye. That very cruise someone had, in fact, gone overboard. Rumors of how and why among the crew and guests were rampant. The leading story among passengers was that two honeymooners were arguing and there was a push. Crew thought differently. Another suicide, most agreed. For suicides were not so rare on cruise ships. More than a few folks intentionally spent their every last penny on a final week of wild abandon and, late on the final night, jumped overboard. What better way to ensure no one will rescue you? How many people are looking aft of a ship at 3AM? It is possible to survive such falls, but unlikely unless you’re a fighter. Though statistically utterly insignificant, unexplained deaths on a cruise ship do happen. Because most occur in international waters, reporting obligations and behavior are decidedly less than altruistic. Cruise lines invariably fudge reporting, because people read headlines, not articles. Whether it’s a suicide or not matters little to critics, who pounce upon any hint of cruise line recklessness. Even if it is a suicide, days can pass before verification from land-based authorities, even with the presence of a note. By then, sensational headlines can blow things wildly out of proportion. On that cruise, nobody knew for certain what happened. An investigation was resolved somewhere on land, as was always the case. The only fact the crew knew for sure was that the man was never found until he washed up on the Gulf Coast several days later. I focused on a floating piece of flotsam and watched it disappear into the night. It was lost to the blackness within fifteen seconds. By Brian David Bruns, author of national best-seller Cruise Confidential. Pics of the people and places I blog about are on my website and FB pages, join me! www.BrianDavidBruns.com https://www.facebook.com/BrianDavidBruns Discover life below the waterline, where dozens of nationalities combine in ways none could have ever imagined. Strange cabins mates, strange food, strange ports, and strange ways (not to mention strange guests!). From the author of national best-seller Cruise Confidential comes the memories, the dramas, and most of all the laughs, of a job unlike anything else in the world. We enjoy vacation. They live adventure.
  6. *Warning: profanity implied within (only implied, but we’re talkin’ about sailors here…) New York Stock Exchange on a Sunday night. Bourbon Street on a Monday morning. Cruise ship kitchen on a galley tour. All are silent, empty sights unable to convey the absolute bedlam and pandemonium perpetrated there daily. The echoes have died, the detritus of maelstrom removed: ticker tape swept, bottles recycled, grills scraped. I understand the desire to join a galley tour, but it really is useless in understanding the function of the place. For cruise ship galleys are not about equipment, nor layout, nor routine. They are not about the useless statistics guides boast of, of zillions of dishes served in mere minutes, etc. Cruise ship galleys are about the workers sweating and swearing and stealing within. Swearing and stealing? THAT never happened at the chef’s table inside the kitchen, you say. Yeah, and I’m sure your teenage kids behave exactly the same when you’re gone as they do when you’re watching. Galley tours are organized groups pulsing through shiny stainless steel corridors like blood pumping through a healthy heart; meal times are a violent cardiac arrest, with bodies straining against blockage. As time ticks by the heart palpitates and everyone and everything pushes harder, louder, more erratically. But bodies pooling by the front line have nowhere to go. Pressure rises and things turn ugly. Eventually at every meal something will rupture and waiters will scamper and steal every which way, like internal bleeding. Too graphic a metaphor, you think? Hardly. It’s a jungle in there. Cruise ship waiters squabble over hash browns like hyenas fighting for scraps stolen from a lion’s kill. It’s survival of the fittest. I will never, ever forget the first time I was assigned to pick up the hot food at breakfast in the dining room on Carnival Conquest. I had been given sixteen orders simultaneously. So had everyone else. Simultaneously. “Hi, chef,” I began, “I need, uh, six orders of eggs over-easy, two with pancakes, one with bacon, one with pancakes and bacon, two with sausage and bacon, and one with pancakes, sausage, bacon, and hash browns. I need two orders of eggs over-hard with pancakes and sausage, and…” “New boy, out of my way,” interrupted another waiter. He bellowed, “SIX OVER-HARD, PANCAKES, BACON, BROWNS! Let’s go!” “Hey, Filipino,” an Indian waiter chided. “Leave the guy alone. Chef, ignore him and the American. Help a fellow Indian. Give me four scrambled, two with browns, four with….” “Rasclat, get your hands off my pancakes!” “Hey!” everyone cried as a Bulgarian butt in. “Those are my hash browns, you bastard! I need four scrambled, two with bacon, one with sausage, and one with browns.” “F@*# you! Chef, are those my hash browns?” “Kiss my ass, Euro-boy. Colonize someone else!” “Hey, why are you giving him my eggs?” I asked. “America never colonized anybody.” “You bomb everybody. Take my oil but not my eggs!” “What blood clot took my over-easies? Chef, lay those eggs faster!” “Do I look like a chicken to you? You know any black chickens, motherf@*#er?” “Get your f@*#ing jelly off my tray, a$#hole!” “How you say chicken in your white-monkey language?” “F@*# you!” “No, f@*# you!” “F@*# you both. Were are my sausages? Not the f@*#ing links, the f@*#ing patties, blood clot!” At that point everyone dropped civility and the language turned truly ugly. The kicker? Breakfast in the dining room involved only about 10% of the waiters aboard. Enjoy the tour, ‘cause you sure as Hell don’t wanna be in there during a real dinner.
  7. 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: I was asked by the captain of Wind Surf to simulate a dead passenger in a shockingly real scenario.... Via the crew stairs the second officer escorted me deep into the forward bowels of Wind Surf. We passed all manner of hallways and storage areas I had not known existed. After a several twists and turns, Barney stepped into what was obviously once a crew bar. Now it hosted a raucous pile of tables, chairs, and rolling desks. “Lay down and play dead. Easy. Don’t freak when the lights go out. Things will get nasty, but you won’t be hurt.” Seeing me raise my eyebrows, he explained further. “It’s a surprise fire drill made as realistic as possible. The fire team won’t know if anyone is below decks or not and will systematically search every room for unconscious victims. Don’t hide in the cupboard or anything because that’s not realistic, but staying in the back is better for the drill. What makes this drill more accurate is that you’re our first American.” “Why does that matter?” “The fire team only has experience hauling out other crew members, and they’re all Asian. In a real fire, a guest passed out from smoke inhalation won’t weigh ninety pounds. You weigh about two hundred pounds, so you’re helping us create a much more accurate scenario. When they come for you, don’t make it too easy for them. Be dead weight.” I carefully picked my way through the detritus of the dead crew bar to become a dead crew member. Propping my back against a cupboard, I splayed my legs out. With a satisfied nod, he snapped off the lights. Darkness swooped in, solid, tangible. This was not the absence of light, but the presence of a thing. Just a few minutes of such absolute black made even an egomaniac feel small. Not scared, but small, insignificant. This was not a place for living men, here, deep below the surface of the sea. I strained my hearing to pick up a sound, any sound, but there was none. Not even the slap of waves descended down here, in the pit where I lay. I fancied I was in a sensory deprivation tank, but for the sharp tang of back-bar alcohol and solvents stabbing my nose. After an interminable time, my ears tickled with the muted call of the ship’s intercom announcing to passengers the impending fire drill. Don’t panic at the alarms, the muffled voice said. Don’t panic at the smoke. Smoke? A minute later, another sense tickled. The air became chemically dense. The smell was not of smoke, but something equally unpleasant. I mulled over what it could be when I was scared out of my wits by the sudden alarm. Hearing the ship’s horn blasting the fire alarm was nothing new—I’d heard it every cruise for years—but hearing the alarm in my current situation was something else entirely. It was downright unnerving. Red emergency lighting snapped on, pushing back the black from below rather than above. Though dim, the illumination was sufficient to see the hallway outside. The red opening pulsated in a rapidly thickening haze. Smoke curled into the chamber, first slow, soon robust. Tendrils of white crawled across the ragged carpet, claiming more and more of the room. Behind the vanguard was a supporting wall of swirling grey, gradually thickening until I could no longer clearly see out into the hallway. The red remained, somehow undefinable. Very slowly did time tick, tick away. The simulated smoke became hard to breathe. Not only did the unceasing klaxon urge me to rush into the red, so did instinct. The sensation was so powerful my legs twitched, itching for action, escape. I had to consciously fight the urge, for I had been charged with death. After twenty minutes came a flicker of a different color. A beam of yellow wandered across the reddishness of escape, then left. Eventually it returned with a companion. Then both vanished. Disappointment flashed through me. They had had overlooked my room. Yet a minute later the glow materialized two phantoms of black. Backlit by blazing red, each cut a dramatic figure in full-on fire gear, complete with oxygen tanks and full face masks. Thickened by heavy layers of fire retardant gear, they seemed to move in slow motion. Beams from handheld searchlights roamed the smoke-dense room, lighting across old, clustered junk. Revealed in streaks were fallen stacks of chairs and tables upended upon each other, cobwebs flashing. I felt exactly like I was watching a movie: the heroes had just discovered the killer’s creepy lair. Then a beam of light fell across my legs. Another zeroed in. Two bulky forms pushed through the thickness directly towards me. Heavily gloved hands grabbed me by the shoulders to haul me bodily from the floor. I drooped and flopped as awkwardly as possible, feet dragging uselessly on the floor. Undeterred, they slung my arms over their shoulders and hauled me out from behind the bar. Between the deafening klaxons their respirators labored. Though much taller than my saviors, both men worked as a single unit to compensate. No words were exchanged. None were needed; both knew what the other was supposed to do. Don’t think for a minute that cruise ships leave fire safety to waiters playing with fire hoses. The ordeal fire teams maintain as routine is most impressive. But then, to be honest, I always wanted to be a fireman. They’re totally badass. Brian David Bruns Author of national bestselling Cruise Confidential www.cruiselit.com
  8. 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 my roommates will be off work so I am glad I was able to shower before they get back. One bathroom, four beds, one tv, one other Canadian, a Filipino Girl and a Romanian. I can't remember their names yet. The Romanian girl seemed stuck up as hell. In fact, so did most of the Romanian girls I met today. “I wonder what I am doing here. From the second I stepped onboard today, I have been pulled in every direction, fitted for an ugly red uniform, thrown into a boring three hour safety class which pretty much has me fearing a Titanic-like experience now, and I have been lost three times. “I am starting work tomorrow. I will just stand alongside some girl who seems to struggle with the English language, and learn as I go. 2000 guests got off the ship today and another 2000 got on. I am feeling a little overwhelmed at the amount of knowledge I need to have. Everyone here seems so intense. The Safety Manager flipped out on me and this other Canadian girl when we were late for class today. He actually threatened to send us back home before we left port. I never realized I would need to know how many lifeboats a ship carries, or how to evacuate the passengers. Isn't there a captain and some sort of safety squad for that?? “I kind of miss home. I packed my life into cardboard boxes in less than a week and left every comfort zone I was sheltered by. The small voice inside of me that I normally ignore finally spoke loud enough to get me here, and now it's still trying to talk me through it. This is supposed to be a chance to see the world and an opportunity to grow. “Later - My roommates are back and I am sitting in bed. The Romanian girl’s name is Alina. She hardly said two words to me when she got here, but she sure is full of conversation for this guy in her bed now. All I can hear is her giggling and his deep Caribbean accent. I guess he's her boyfriend. I didn't realize we could fit another body into this cabin. Wait...is she really....what the f@#$, they are screwing! “Does she not realize two other people are in this room? Does she seriously think this curtain that closes around each bunk is sound proof?? I open my curtain and look across at the bunk next to me where the Filipino girl, Carmella, is sitting. I look at her as if to say, "is this really happening?". She smiles obliviously and keeps staring at the TV, slurping her instant noodles. Clearly, this is something she is used to. I'm logging off for the night. I'm not to used to falling asleep to live porn, I think I'll pop in some of these ear plugs they gave us to drown out the sound of the engine and try to get some sleep.” By Brian David Bruns, author of national best-seller Cruise Confidential. Pics of the people and places I blog about are on my website and FB pages, join me! www.BrianDavidBruns.com https://www.facebook.com/BrianDavidBruns
  9. 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 pleasantly slender, still built solid. Her long hair was naturally blonde, but the last six inches were dyed black. She wore a cowboy hat and boots over snug blue jeans. Vanessa was her name. She answered, “He stinks. He belches all night, so I want as much distance as possible.” “You like cod liver oil?” she suddenly asked, prompting me to reply, “You asking me on a date?” She gestured broadly to the room. “We’ve got plenty for ya. I’m sick of ‘em. If I smell one more damned pill, I’m gonna puke. Loverboy here don’t eat no food, jus’ lives off cod liver oil.” A quick glance proved Vanessa wasn’t kidding. I counted no less than four bottles of cod liver pills of varying sizes. A fifth bottle lay on its side on a bunk behind where Robin sat, looking suspiciously as if it had dumped its contents between the cushions. A family-sized jar with a wide mouth was currently open, the smell of heavy fish oil almost visually emanated from it. “Aren’t you supposed to refrigerate those once opened?” I asked in wonder. Robin scoffed, “Bah! You Yanks always worry about stuff like that.” “So’d you tell him yet?” Vanessa asked Robin. He ignored her, but she pressed the question. Robin reacted strongly, and suddenly both were glaring at each other, postures frozen in defiance: she tall and leaning willowy-strong over him, he looking up to meet her with bulldog neck tensed and fists clenched. He finally spat, “Shut up, woman!” Offended, Vanessa snatched up the nearest bottle of fish oil pills—the family-sized jar sans lid—and hurled it at him. Delicate globules of smelly fish oil sprayed wide, bouncing off Robin to clatter off the walls, the desk, the bed and everything else until they found every last corner. Robin snarled, reaching for her. She gamely bounced back, but this was no game. They exchanged all manner of insults, voices rising until she screeched and he bellowed. Finally he muscled his way in to give her a solid slap across the face. The sound was shockingly loud. Violence in person is completely unlike anything in the movies. It was immediate, intimate, horrible. “Oh!” she cried in surprise, hair flinging wild. I leapt in between the two of them, now shouting myself. I had no idea what was going on, even as I sensed this was not an unusual occurrence between them. Indeed, before I could interfere they both whirled upon me as one. “This is none of your business, Yank!” Robin bellowed. “I can handle this myself!” Vanessa echoed. She was already returning her attention to her adversary, adding, “I’m from Texas!” Vanessa delivered a tremendous blow of her own, a wallop that sent Robin reeling. Before he had a chance to recover, she shoved him onto the bed. Next came a sharp crack of head hitting the bulkhead, and Robin collapsed. He gave a low moan, and Vanessa was atop him. Then they began madly kissing, passionately rolling across the tiny bunk… and grinding cod liver pills into my future mattress. Excerpted from Ship for Brains [Cruise Confidential, Book 2] by Brian David Bruns (World Waters, 2011)
  10. 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 were sitting in the office of Ovidiu, the Romanian recruiting agent for Carnival Cruise Lines. He was a slender man with a handsome face, a very handsome wardrobe, and an extremely handsome office. His suite comprised the entire second floor of a brick building, featuring numerous windows looking into a lush interior court. Light filtered in through an angled glass skylight and past his mezzanine entrance, making it look like a bridge over a jungle. “Americans can’t handle ships,” he said. “So I hear,” I replied, giving Bianca an amused look. She sat in the chair beside mine, looking relaxed but serious. “What is it you think I can do for you?” Ovidiu asked. “I am a recruiter for Romanians, not Americans. There are no American recruiters, of course.” “So I hear,” I repeated. “Why is that?” “Because none apply,” he replied thoughtfully, leaning back. “Why would you want to? The work is very hard, and the money is very small.” Bianca raised an eyebrow, and Ovidiu hastily added, “For an American.” “I’m not thinking big,” I said. “It’s just a waiter job. I’ve been in restaurants for a decade.” “Not on ships, you haven’t,” he pointed out. “Do you know computers?” “He knows computers,” Bianca interrupted, before I could protest. “Other than doctors, who are supernumeraries anyway, and entertainers, who have their own agencies, the only position I can even think of for an American would involve computers.” “I just want to be a waiter, man,” I repeated. Ovidiu leaned forward skeptically. “Why?” “My reasons are irrelevant.” “No, they’re not,” Ovidiu insisted. “Why would they bother with someone who will just quit? They’ll want to know your story before they even think of meeting you. And believe me, they’ll need to meet you.” “I want to be with Bianca,” I explained. “If we have the same job, we can be together. That simple.” “I see,” he said, nodding. “Well, in my ten years at Carnival, I’ve never seen even one American. I would not even talk to you, but Bianca is a good employee and a friend. Again, what is it you think I can do for you?” “You can think Romanian-style,” Bianca answered for me. “Not American-style.” Ovidiu thought for a moment, frowning. “No, that won’t work. The bribes are to convince me, and you don’t need to worry about that. Really, Bianca, I would sign him on if I could. I can’t.” He opened a drawer from his desk and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. We declined his offer, so he casually lit one for himself. He leaned towards me, elbows on the desk. “You want to know why Bianca doesn’t need to bribe me?” “Suddenly I’m not so sure.” “Bianca is the only one who almost beat me. Almost, of course.” I looked at Bianca, but she said nothing. Her delicate wiggle of satisfaction was corroboration enough. “As agent to cruise ships, my job is to screen people. If I like them, and there is a job opening, I find the right place for them. Bianca applied for the restaurants. That’s the highest paid job, so everybody applies for it first. It is also the toughest, so I don’t let them by easily.” He paused, grinned, and offered Bianca a cigarette again. This time she accepted, leaning forward to accept the light with a creak of leather skirt. “She said she worked at a certain restaurant. I called the owner and he said, ‘oh, of course, she has worked here for years!’ That, of course, only meant she could lie and bribe. Romanian-style. Turns out, she only volunteered there for a summer.” Bianca shrugged, explaining, “I needed to learn restaurants.” “I knew she was lying, but couldn’t catch her. She was too smart. She had asked all of her waitress friends penetrating questions and listened close. I asked her this and that, and of her experiences here and there. She had an answer for all of it. The performance was amazing.” Bianca laughed, and added, “Until Ovidiu pulled his bloody secret weapon from the filing cabinet!” Reflecting upon what I knew of Romanians thus far, I presumed this meant a large knife. “A linen napkin,” Ovidiu clarified. “I told her ‘You said you know half a dozen napkin folds. Show me.’ She wilted before my very eyes, like a Gypsy had spit in her ice cream. I told her to relax, go have a cigarette, then come back. I had her paperwork done by then.” “All that to be a waiter?” I asked. “It’s not rocket science.” Ovidiu leaned back again. He casually blew his smoke into the air, then looked me in the eye. “You have no idea what you’re getting into, do you?” The London Book Festival awards ceremony will be held Jan. 24th in London. Until then, the most popular formats of Unsinkable Mister Brown will be 50% off. See my website for details at http://brev.is/mS94
  11. 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 prominence of Carnival Cruise Lines—catering to overwhelmingly American and, thusly, gratuity-expectant guests—cruise lines realized they can get a whole lot more staff for a whole lot less money. This wage model was adopted by nearly every major cruise line, in many ways fueling the explosive growth of the industry throughout the 80’s and 90’s. Prior to that, cruising was exceptional and reserved for the well-to-do. Now it’s a common vacation open to anyone budget-minded. When I was a waiter on Carnival, my monthly salary was around fifty bucks (US $50). That’s for working 12-15 hours a day, seven days a week. Tips kept me alive. (True, tips added up to less than the U.S.’s average minimum wage, but that’s a completely different subject.) Ah, but how much to tip? Even tip-savvy passengers had no basis from which to quantify their appreciation. In America, 15% gratuity is standard for acceptable service, 20% for good service. But on ships, individual meals were not broken down so numerically. So what’s 20%? In my case, Carnival created automatic gratuities for passengers to opt in on for the whole cruise. Waiters knew any passenger who opted out of this service, whatever their reason, invariably skimped on tips. We hated those people. They almost never tipped enough. Especially in my case, because I was a terrible waiter. (if you want to see how bad, read my book Cruise Confidential!) Over time, some services became auto-tipped and others not. Yet every crew member was clamoring for tips, even those without any reason whatsoever for getting any (read: maitre D’s). And what about room stewards, who had no inferred costs for their services? Well-intentioned passengers were confused all over again. Cruise lines used this confusion to their advantage. A great example of this comes from P&O Cruise Lines. Prior to 2012, their managing director Carol Marlow was promoting P&O's value-for-money by pointing out that unlike some of its competitors, their company did not automatically add tips. Then, in April 2012, P&O began requiring auto-tips of £3.10 per person, per day. To explain the complete reversal, Marlow said,“Tipping has always been an integral part of the cruise experience but sometimes our passengers tell us they've been confused over whether or when to leave a cash tip for their waiters and cabin stewards. Our new tipping policy aims to remove this confusion in much the same way as most restaurants these days add a suggested gratuity to the bill.” Nowadays, the majority of cruise lines ‘take care’ of their staff with mandatory tipping. Good! If and when a cruise line offers pre-paid gratuities—and you have a soul—do it. Concerns about the line failing to properly distribute the money are rising, but that’s step two. Step one is getting the cash out of the hands of us passengers (ships are great at that!). The best thing, of course, would be for cruise lines to remove tipping entirely. Basic wages should be enhanced to reflect that and the cost built into the basic price of a cruise. Crew could rely on a regular, guaranteed income. We’ve all had to slave away for absolutely no money at one time or another due to bad service outside our own arena. Plus it’s easier on guests because tips are a hidden cost. Here’s a rough breakdown of current rates (US dollars, per day): Carnival Cruise Lines $10.50 Celebrity Cruises $12-16 Costa Cruises $8-10.50 Cunard $11.50- 15 Disney Cruise Line $12.50-14 Fred Olsen Lines $6.50 Holland America Line $11.50 MSC Cruises $8-10 Norwegian $12.50 Oceania Cruises $14.25-19.50 Princess Cruises $12-12.75 Royal Caribbean Int. $12-14 By Brian David Bruns, author of national best-seller Cruise Confidential. Pics of the people and places I blog about are on my website and FB pages, join me! www.BrianDavidBruns.com https://www.facebook.com/BrianDavidBruns
  12. 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 single?” “Can you party with guests?” “Show us your cabin!”. The question that got me in trouble, however, was unexpected. “Why don’t you dance during dinner like the other waiters?” “I’m management next cruise,” I explained. “They don’t want me looking like a fool in front of staff I’ll be in charge of.” “No fair!” they cried. “We want you to dance for us!” “Only if you dance for me,” I retorted. The gauntlet thrown, all twenty rose and I was surrounded by spinning, whirling, and gyrating bodies. I looked on helplessly, realizing I was surely to be out-done by these women. “Come on! Join us!” Realizing they wouldn’t take no for an answer, I jokingly counter-offered, “I won’t do dinner dances, but I’ll do one better. My last day as a waiter, I’ll do a striptease.” Their applause indicated my jest was not taken as such. The final night came. As always, serving the graduates was not work, but pleasure. They were patient for all things barring wine service. We laughed and flirted shamelessly. All week they had tried to kiss me in the dining room. The kiss became a game for us all, a silly little prize that both sides refused to relinquish. The challenge was spearheaded by a pretty lass named Jessica. The night drew to a close, but they remained to finish their wine. Neighboring stations emptied, leaving us a solitary island of gaiety. “Last night!,” Jessica called. “Where’s our strip tease?” All twenty cheered and began chanting, “Strip! Strip! Strip!” “I can’t,” I replied lamely, fishing for an excuse, “I would need a stage. And there’s no music.” “Regina!” they cried to my neighboring waitress. Though busy readying for the morning, one table had been forgotten and was completely empty. Only then did I realize it had not been forgotten at all: Regina yanked the table cloth free to reveal an ideal stage. “But there’s still no music,” I observed gratefully. Smirking, Regina signaled a hostess and suddenly ‘I’m Too Sexy’ blared through the restaurant at tremendous volume. I had been set up. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I leapt onto the table and began a bad dance, whipping off my bow tie and flinging it around my head. With surely the most awkward moves ever witnessed, I flung off my vest and began unbuttoning my shirt. Cheers roared from the graduates. Applause echoed from waiters. Hostesses leered. Chanting to the beat rose from everywhere. Then the maitre D’ entered the room. I stopped mid-swing, stunned. But the coeds were just getting started. They rushed from their seats to yank me off the table. Hands tore at my chest. Buttons popped out, flying in all directions. My shirt was half ripped off before I could stop it. I had heard that women got far wilder then men at strip clubs, but this was ridiculous. I even felt my belt slipped free! Quickly I gripped my pants before they were yanked down. I began bellowing, not unlike an elephant seal under attack. Alas, there was no denying the authority of dozens of red-tipped fingernails. Here I was living my fantasy since puberty, yet was fighting like mad! One would think the action would stop with the approach of the maitre D’. One would be wrong. He just grinned and let it flow, reserving the moment for future blackmail. By Brian David Bruns, author of national best-seller Cruise Confidential. Pics of the people and places I blog about are on my website and FB pages, join me! www.BrianDavidBruns.com https://www.facebook.com/BrianDavidBruns
  13. 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 and Europe, being most prevalent in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and children’s day care facilities. It strikes every year. It’s so regular, in fact, it no longer incites headlines. Those are now reserved for the unusual, the exotic, such as “PLAGUE SHIP!” An illness transmitted from your children isn’t nearly as alarming as “RATS SPREAD DISEASE!”. But you get a cold or flu from your kids all the time. That headline wouldn’t sell many newspapers. Yet the land numbers are far, far greater than the sea numbers. There have been 2,630 confirmed reports of norovirus so far this season in the UK, for example (as of several weeks ago, no less!), but for every reported case there are likely to be a further 288 unreported sufferers. That’s according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA). Recent figures from the HPA show that more than 750,000 people could be affected by the 2012 outbreak of norovirus that has swept the UK. It’s so bad, in fact, that they’re closing hospital wards and denying visitors access to the buildings. Take Birmingham City Hospital, for instance, which closed three wards due to norovirus infection, or Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals, which actually tweeted, “Please don’t visit hospital until at least two days after last symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea. Stay home, rest, and take fluids.” But nobody thinks about infected hospitals down the street. They think of cruise ships. They think of sensational headlines. Take the media frenzy surrounding the P&O liner Oriana, dubbed ‘a plague ship.’ “It’s a living nightmare.” “Scores of passengers laid low by virus.” “People were falling like flies, yet the crew were trying to insist everything was fine.” Oh, the drama! The sick have vomiting and diarrhea a few days, tops, and possibly stomach cramps. If that’s your definition of ‘a living nightmare’, you suffer from a serious lack of real life. You’ll note the hospital referred to above even told sufferers to stay home and they'd be fine. Subjective perceptions of severity aside, let’s look at real numbers. More importantly, what’s behind them. It’s not what you think at all. An outbreak, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, is 3% or higher of reported passengers or crew being sick. Please note the inclusion of ‘crew’. When one crew member is sick, ALL of his/her cabin mates are automatically quarantined and counted as sick. Thus, the number of infected is artificially inflated by double or more from the very beginning. This directly affects passengers, however, because things snowball rapidly as remaining crew shoulder the additional workload (with no increase in pay, of course). As a rule, all crew members are already overworked and nearly all live in a state of near-exhaustion. It is not surprising, then, that many crew members jump on the bandwagon and call in sick just to get a glorious eight hours of sleep—something which they probably haven’t had in ten months (yes, really). So what does this mean? It means that an official outbreak on a cruise ship could potentially involve a mere 1% of people or even less! I don’t know about you, but I don’t think 1% of the population being sick during cold and flu season to be the definition of ‘a living nightmare.’ By Brian David Bruns, author of national best-seller Cruise Confidential. Pics of the people and places I blog about are on my website and FB pages, join me! www.BrianDavidBruns.com https://www.facebook.com/BrianDavidBruns
  14. 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 galley deck. I was about to mock him, but chose instead to bite my tongue. Rick was shaking his head slowly back and forth, eyes staring at the floor… staring at nothing. With all those curls piled so high on his head, he reminded me of a fuzzy cat watching a tennis match on television. He was truly distraught. It was very late—I was only in the galley because my evening art auction ran exceptionally late—but I sensed he was too agitated to retire. “You’re serious?” I said. It wasn’t really a question. Of course he was serious. Rick was serious about everything that didn’t matter. Had this been an issue of business, safety, or protocol—not that the latter matters too much—Rick would have been flighty and distant, if not downright disdainful. But things that implied secrets, cover-ups, conspiracies, and knowledge beyond the ken of man? Oh, Rick was serious about those, all right. “I’m not biting,” I replied, returning to my magazine. “I really did,” Rick mumbled quietly. Quietly? Rick was never quiet. Even when he was performing a massage—he was the spa manager—he wouldn’t shut up. Made a babbler like me seem mute. Now I was paying attention. Rick continued to stare at the floor, back and forth, back and forth. “I saw it last night, too,” Rick continued. “But I wasn’t sure. I’d been hearing stories from Natalie for weeks, but blew them off. She drinks too much…”—he ignored my snort of derision—“…but then Claudia said she saw something, too. And now I have.” “In the spa?” I asked, now intrigued. The spa was deep in the bowels of Wind Surf, down near the waterline, back near the marina. At night it was a very quiet, very lonely place. Strange that such a small ship utilizing every cubic inch had locations that felt… well, abandoned. Everything was clean and tidy, of course, but I’d always felt that hallway to be somehow… different. “I’ve noticed things moving behind the desk a lot,” Rick said. “Hard to tell when bloody f@*#in’ staplers move on their own when you have four employees, though. But you know the melon slices we keep in the urn of drinking water? I heard a gurgle or something and looked up in their direction. In the blink of an eye—in the blink of a bloody eye—they vanished! Then—splat! Right in front of me, right in the middle of the desk, the melons reappeared. Soaked all my paperwork and everything. Bloody f@*#in’ weird, if you ask me. But even that wasn’t enough to convince me the spa was haunted. Not ’til now. “I was doing paperwork. It was about midnight. A bloody f@*#in’ guest walked right past me. I saw her clearly as she passed. Middle-aged, long brown hair, and a T-shirt that made her look chunky. I told her we’re closed for the night, but she just walked through the spa and into Natalie’s massage room. I followed right behind her, calling out. I was angry, actually, because I’ve had a bad time with stupid passengers complaining all bloody f@*#in’ day. I was going to give this lady a piece of my mind. When I got to Natalie’s room I flipped the light switch on… and nobody was there!” Rick was clearly shaken. While he and I had had some pretty knock-down, drag-out fights about whether or not UFO’s were parked in the center of the Earth—coming and going through the holes at the north and south poles, Rick insisted—I sensed he was genuinely scared. This, from a former Australian special forces operative who’d been in the middle of genocidal atrocities in East Timor. In fact, Wind Surf had more resident ghosts than merely in the spa. The cruise director and shore excursion manager both swore they’d seen an apparition floating in the hallway outside the purser’s office, mid-ship. The specter was a shadowy, yet overt, outline of a man from the waist-up. Both knew instinctively it was male, though no features could be seen on the hazy head. Both had offices with doors open to the haunted hall. Several times while doing paperwork in their respective offices on different occasions—though always late at night—they had sensed someone approaching their office. Looking up and out into the hall, they’d be shocked to see only half a man. Once spotted, the unbidden guest always faded back into the dark. Not so with the purser, however. The Filipina had run to her office to retrieve copy paper for a busy purser’s desk. It was in the middle of the afternoon, sunlight streaming through her office window to flood the hall. Arms laden with said reams, she rushed out of the office and ran smack-dab into the phantom. She shrieked, at first thinking she had accidentally run into a crewman. But it wasn’t a crewman—or at least none from the present. A caucasian man of average height regarded her skeptically… then vanished in a blink. The whole scenario happened so fast that, when pressed by the others, she couldn’t answer if she had seen his legs or not. “But he seemed quite real, quite solid,” she stated resolutely. “I looked into his eyes. I saw surprise and something else… a sense of hopelessness. Though it was sunny in the hall, it felt very gloomy, very sad.” Brian David Bruns For more tales like this, be sure to check out my new book Cruise a la Carte. You can't go wrong, it's only three bucks! http://brev.is/TRG5
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