Permanent Passenger: My Life on a Cruise Ship
Reviewed by Wendy Cleveland for Reader Views (6/08)
Ever wanted to know what it was like to live and work on a cruise ship? This is exactly what Micha Berman’s dream was after college which he explains in his memoir, “Permanent Passenger: My Life on a Cruise Ship.” Starting with “Project Random,” he set up a makeshift office in his dorm room, and sent out letters to his friends and fellow college alumni asking if anyone was currently employed on a cruise ship. He also sent out his resume to every cruise line he could think of. He was lucky as his prayers were answered with a phone call from the Entertainment Director of Carnival Cruise Line’s M.S. Ecstasy looking for an Assistant Cruise Director. Not thinking twice, he accepted the job and immediately flew to Miami for his first cruise through the Caribbean. This was just the beginning. When his cruise adventure ended, he had taken over fifty cruises. He goes on to describe various encounters he had with fellow employees and their living quarters, how sleeping with the passengers is taboo, excessive drinking and gambling as well as the sometimes hilarious ship activities like the 70s style Stripes Disco, Hairy Chest and Male Lingerie Competition, and other pool-related events. Even though his life was compared to that of Julie McCoy of the “Love Boat” television series, he described times at sea as somewhat lonely and boring.
Even though I’ve never taken a cruise, I would like to now. It sounds like spring break on water from the various pool parties to the disco dancing. If you were one of the privileged employees, you had it made. I felt sorry for the menial employees who were in charge of domestic services (like cleaning and cooking) as they did not live the luxurious life. This book definitely gives you an inside look into “crew only” areas like the captain’s deck, galley and brig (which was the jail). It includes sections like Crazy Cruise Trivia before every chapter giving you some history about cruising as well as the Ten Commandments of Cruise Life at the end of the book which was hysterical. If you are looking to cruise or have cruised, “Permanent Passenger” is a quick escape from reality. Cruising sounds like fun for a little while, but I wouldn’t want to live there.