Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Truth About Crusie Ships - Herring

A supposed finalist in the "Global eBook Awards", The Truth About Cruise Ships by Jay Herring is a behind-the-scenes look at cruise ships, their crew, and the reality of how cruises run.

Herring, who signed on for several contracts with Carnival Cruise Lines, worked as the ships' IT manager during his time with Carnival. An officer level position, this role allowed him access to just about every location and situation on board.

The book offers an engaging explanation of how Herring got interested and hired into cruise work and how the world of such "contract" positions works. It offers a fairly clear view as to how some cruise lines mistreat and overwork their staff, doing so under the guise of registering their ships outside of U.S. territory, making it legal to make staff work ten to fourteen hours a day for months on end with no real scheduled time off and to provide crew with poor living conditions including no windows/fresh air, loud rooms above vibrating machinery, and the like.

Herring offers entertaining stories of dealing with senior officers and mixed personalities, as well as both good and bad experiences dealing with passengers. He shares his experiences in a hurricane situation, as well as the excitement and stress of dealing with other high seas emergencies. Ultimately, Herring met his wife, who was also a crew member, and the two left cruise work permanently.

Beyond that, the book was a bit less entertaining. Herring talks repeatedly about the extensive sex, limited relationship building, and excessive drinking on board, which no doubt occurs. But I cannot believe that every crew member would chose to live as he did during their time on board. Herring, who originated from a small town in Texas, admits to having lived with his parents and remained a virgin until he shipped out. Perhaps this affected his decisions.  In fact, I am not so sure even he lived the way he suggests 24-7, I have to assume that a bit of his "memoir" was bravado and self back-patting. Another reviewer called him a "narcissist bigot trying to fluff his feathers [while] acting as though he was a well educated Casanova".

To me, it was clear the book was self or small-publisher published. It was poorly organized, with every chapter returning to the issues of sex and drinking. Had the book benefited from a good editor, it would likely have been organized with a chapter focusing on sex and relationships, one focused on drinking and partying, one on the hurricane and such emergencies, one on his work duties, perhaps one on the ports he visited, etc. This would have made the book more enjoyable. Or maybe Herring just misjudged his audience, assuming teen boys were his readership. Again, a good editor could have really helped him. As well, he/she would have likely caught one of several grammatical issues (a pet peeve of mine, though thankfully they are limited). Overall, this book was an enjoyable read, though in a "reality-tv-show-I-can't-believe-I'm-reading-this" sort of way.  

2/5- Just okay.  Choose with extreme prejudice.