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Review: The Truth About Cruise Ships by Jay Herring

I really like reading books about other people’s jobs. I don’t quite know why I’m attracted to this type of book, but I almost always really enjoy them. So, since this was an Amazon best-seller, I thought it was worth a try. Unfortunately, this proved to be an exception to the rule.

Herrring gives an account of working as an IT officer onboard a number of cruise ships. He talks a little about his job, though these sections quickly become repetitive as he describes the same processes on several ships. He tries a bit of amateur anthropology as well, drawing conclusions as earth-shattering as discovering that people from the same country tend to stick together, as do those with the same job. But, perhaps surprisingly, the bulk of this book is about his sex life.

Now, I have nothing against books like this discussing sex. Clearly, to Herring, the the promiscuity that he and his fellow crew experience during their time working onboard cruise ships was a large part of the experience, and so it would be most unusual not to discuss it. But this goes far beyond that: this isn’t discussion of the general point, this is bizarre description of individual sexual encounters.

In fact, he times a number of the sexual encounters and reports their length to the second. As someone reading to find out about other working lifestyles, I can honestly say that I have precisely no interest in the fact that his sexual encounter with a youth counsellor from South Africa lasted only 91 seconds, nor that his encounter with a Lithuanian lasted two minutes and three seconds. Frankly, I’m amazed that anyone was interested enough to publish these sections!

The doctor in me is a little bit disappointed too that massively excessive alcohol consumption is discussed throughout with little regard paid to the consequences. There is a brief description of someone who has a physical dependence on alcohol, but little discussion of the wider problem, and no mention at all of any long-term negative effects of daily excessive consumption.

There is also a frankly bizarre chapter on booking cruises which appears to have been sponsored by a cruise provider, but isn’t clearly marked as such, which is a bit disappointing.

I don’t want to give the impression that this book is all bad. I did make it to the end of the book. There are some revealing insights in there. There are a few moments of humour. But my overall impression was one of this being a deeply bizarre and flawed book. The content could probably be edited and re-worked into a reasonable feature for a Sunday newspaper magazine – but in its current form, I really don’t feel able to recommend this book.

The Truth About Cruise Ships is available now from amazon.co.uk in paperback and on Kindle.

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