The Last Cruise by Kate Christensen
Published: July 10, 2018
Goodreads rating: 3.3 out of 5 (with 1,225 ratings)
Disclaimer: This book is not a good one to read on a cruise or right before you go on a cruise.
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I listened to this book a few months ago, but it has staid with me. Mostly, the ending. However, no spoilers there.
Get your copy here.
With a 3.3 rating on Goodreads, I was a little hesitant. They say do not judge a book by its cover, but in this case I did. I decided to select it because of the cover despite reviews.
Taking place in modern day, the Queen Isabella is setting off on one last cruise before it is being sent to the scrapyard. A 2 week 50s retro cruise is chosen to send the ship off in style. The ship is not filled to capacity and all guests have an outside room. Leaving out of Long Beach, CA, we meet the main characters:
- Christine, a New York journalist turned Maine farmer. Christine left her husband in Maine to come on this girls trip with her fellow journalist friend, Valerie. While Christine is questioning her choices, she also feels out of place now in the world of luxury.
- Mick, a Hungarian sous-chef. He is supposed to be in between contracts and on vacation. However, a last minute change has him being place on Queen Isabella. He knows he has a job after this sailing, but finds out quickly that the staff on the ship are in limbo.
- Miriam, an elderly Israeli violinist. She has traveled the world for decades in a quartet with her ex-husband and two best friends. Miriam and her ex-husband are beyond cordial, even retiring to the same apartment building in Israel. Miriam is poorer than her ex and she even flirts with the idea of just moving in him with him since his place is bigger. The quartet was invited on the cruise by the owners and their benefactors to play a piece the owner wrote.
- Valerie, New York journalist. She was invited on the cruise to report on it. To Valerie, she is more interested in finding out about the staff. She hopes to write a tell-all book about cruise staff and their treatment.
The first part of the book dives deep into the personality of the main characters and the circumstances that lead them to be on this cruise. The structure of the ship is set – from high class guests to the staff. The staff have a hierarchy as well, with everyone trying to claw their way to better jobs.
Then, the unthinkable happens. A fire on a cruise ship, leaving it in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The book examines the break down of the ship’s structure. We find out, everyone is human and no one is immune to chaos.
Like I said earlier, I did really enjoy this book. It took me a little while to get into it. Once I did I found the pace good.
I think the best parts discussed the food. Christensen describes in great detail the food preparation for a nightly menu on a cruise. The buffet is considered a lower job, but has the most flexibility to be creative.
I was befuddled by the ending. C explained the end to me (what he thinks happened) and while disappointing, makes the most sense to me.
Ready to book your own cruise now?
Learn more about my own disaster on a ship. (Spoiler, it’s me. I’m the disaster.)