The contemporary thriller, “The Last Cruise,” is a melodramatic story of a nightmarish cruise. The Queen Isabella, a 1950s vintage ocean liner is making her final voyage to Hawaii before being retired and scrapped. The cruise company, Cabaret, has decided to make Queen Isabella’s last cruise a nostalgic one. All of the food, cocktails, and music are vintage 1950s. There is no WiFi, cell phones, or kids' area. Four hundred lucky travelers will travel from Long Beach, California to Hawaii and back, and for two weeks will have no contact with the outside world.
This story is enjoyable because of the characters and how they deal with the numerous problems and disasters that occur on the ship.
Christine Thorne is a former journalist who left the craziness of New York City and journalism to marry a Maine farmer. Christine’s old friend Valerie is still a journalist and has asked Christine to join her on the cruise. Valerie is onboard to write about the cruise and its crew. Christine agrees and uses this time to reflect on her life and marriage.
Mick Szabo is a Hungarian executive sous chef asked to fill in at the last moment. Mick is a topnotch chef looking for more in his life. On the cruise he decides he wants a change in his life. He decides it is time to find a permanent land-based chef job and someone to love. It will be his last cruise.
Miriam Koslow, an elderly Israeli violinist, is part of the Sabra String Quartet that has been hired to perform on the ship. The owners of the Queen Isabella have been long time benefactors of the quartet. Miriam has been divorced from her husband, Isaac, another member of the quartet for many years, and been secretly been in love with Sasha, a longtime member of the quartet.
Now that Miriam is divorced and Sasha is a widower, they decide on the trip that it is time to acknowledge their feelings and move forward. Miriam becomes aware that the quartet members are aging right along with the ship. She is the first person to sense that problems are developing.
Several of the characters work together during a crisis to keep the passengers happy. Problems begin with a fire in the engine room and continue as the ship loses power. Without power water cannot be desalinated for drinking and the plumbing will not work without water either. Add to this other problems, any and everything that can go wrong on a cruise does making this story a bit unbelievable.
“The Last Cruise” does make you feel like you are on a cruise. You can smell and taste the food, hear the music, and see the glamour of the 50s. The story provides you with a glimpse of how a ship runs too. It also is a story of human relationships and how people react during stressful times. I enjoyed this quick read but would not recommend that readers dive into it while on a cruise.