The Last Cruise

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 24 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

I loved all the details in this - about the food and other intricacies of cruises.  I've only been on one cruise in my life, and I'm not sure if this made me itch for more cruising, but it was a compelling mystery that wove together a bunch of threads in a realy enjoyable way.
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THE LAST CRUISE by Kate Christensen is an onboard mystery story involving three characters: Christine, a farmer's wife from Maine, Mika, a sous-chef from Hungary, and Miriam, a musician from Israel. Unfortunately, none are very likeable or presented in a nuanced manner. Christine and Mika seemed to be primarily looking for a physical relationship, and Miriam is about ready to retire.  So, too, is the Queen Isabella, the cruise ship that needed maintenance and should not have left port. Booklist, however, disagrees and gave THE LAST CRUISE a starred review.
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Tropes about cruises and oceans -- I didn't know so many existed, but they are all here! Threat of storms, capsizing(?), sickened passengers, losing contact with the rest of the world in the middle of the ocean, finding love with unlikely strangers, upstairs/downstairs issues that include jerky old rich people, trash islands(?)... It's got 'em all! I'm sure I am missing some. That's not to say I didn't enjoy this book. I read it while listening to "The Woman in Cabin 10" at the same time, by chance (Well, sorta. It is summer so that's why I requested Cabin 10 on Overdrive, but just happened to get off the waiting list at the same time) and, despite Ruth Ware's massive popularity, I think I enjoyed this book more. So far. It's just trying to accomplish a LOT at once, and I'm not sure if that's why it felt like it ended so abruptly or what. If that ending was Christensen's intention the whole time, I'm not sure I found it entirely successful. But it was a FUN read, and that counts for a lot, especially in the summer.
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3.5 stars.    I have been on a couple of cruises and have been fortunate that all has gone well since both were taken during hurricane season. This book gives you the unfortunate insight into cruising when things do go wrong and the owners don't own up to it. Quite an eye-opener and delivered nicely by KC. Read it if you never want to cruise, don't if you do :)

**Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley in exchange of an honest review.**
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Kate Christensen never disappoints. An absolutely perfect summer read - engrossing, but not too light.
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I enjoyed getting to know the characters in this book but that's about all.  I definitely did not like the ending!  All that time reading invested in getting to know these people only to be left hanging.  I feel like it's missing a final chapter.
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I thought the author did a good job creating evocative images of the ship, the food, the weather, the music etc. I liked the character Christine as well as a few other passengers on the ship. I think my biggest complaint is that it felt too predictable. I could sense from the beginning where the story was going although there were a few instances of suspense and drama. I would've preferred a little less melodrama however and a little more suspense. I'd recommend for a fast, light beach read
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In the first half of this book, we embark on a luxury cruise from Long Beach to Hawaii, and are introduced to the book’s main characters, passengers Valerie and Christine, long time friends; and staff, the Sabra Quartet, and Mick Szabo, the newly promoted chef on the buffet line.  Joining  the Queen Isabella’s last cruise before being mothballed is one of her owners, Larry Weiss.  Kate Christensen sets the scene with enticing details of  the ship’s amenities, the food, the ocean breezes wafting over the pool deck, the music accompanying the meals.  She also describes the behind-the scenes working of the ship’s kitchens, with their international staff, arrogant chefs, and huge refrigerators and pantries stocked with food for the two week cruise .

If all is not going precisely well behind the scenes, we sense that the tensions and troubles are part of the routine and not unexpected.  At mid-book, though, one disaster after another begin to strike the ship.  I won’t go into spoiler details here, but the nostalgia cruise turns into a nightmare cruise that tests and reveals the true mettle of each of the characters. 

With both vivid setting and compelling characters, this is a perfect summer read, unless you happen to be cruising.
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This is historical fiction which revolves around the last sailing of the “Queen Isabella” a vintage ocean liner which will make her final voyage from Long Beach, California to Hawaii. The ship company has decided to make this a vintage cruise where passengers will be treated to circa 1950’s food, cocktails and music.

We are introduced to several characters from passengers to musicians and chefs. Christine Thorne has left her farm home in Maine to join a friend on this cruise and make up her mind whether she still wants a career in journalism and to live in New York city. She has decided she will use her time on the ship to make up her mind.

Mike Szabo is one of the chefs. His skills are expert but he has to work under the well known but highly emotional and temperamental head chef. He wants to prove his skill so that he can do more with his career than work on cruise ships. He isn’t prepared for all of the angst that goes into working with a large crew.

Then there is Miriam Koslow, an Israeli violinist, who along with her husband is part of the quartet that works on the cruise ship. The owners of the ship are their benefactors and they do many of these cruises. This cruise is forcing her to determine what she really wants to do with her talent for the rest of her life.

There are many other characters but they aren’t as well developed. Usually I enjoy rich detail but there was far too much time spent on the food and the music for my tastes. I would have preferred to meet more of the characters in depth as they play a part in the ending.

As we all know pretty much from the start, things start to go wrong on the cruise quite suddenly. There are health issues, food and water problems and if that weren’t enough, storms threatening. 

I don’t want to give away more of the plot so I will stop here. For me this was a slow moving book and would have been better had it been edited of some of the details. However if you want to know what it would be like to be a passenger on a cruise ship which is in trouble, this is the book to read. 

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.
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The things that happen in this book are so, so mundane. I kept waiting for something to happen. Eventually something did, but it was that the ship ran out of power. It was stranded in the middle of the ocean.

The only reason I finished this book is because it was a lazy Sunday and I was being very lazy and didn't look for another book to read.

This was five hours of my life I will never get back.

Extra star given for author's time.

Thanks to Doubleday Books and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
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Title:   The Last Cruise
Author:  Kate Christensen 
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:   4 out of 5

The Queen Isabella is making her last voyage, a two-week retro cruise to Hawaii and back, before being scrapped. No internet. No cell phones. No children. Everything is vintage and classic, from the food and drinks to the entertainment.

Christine Thorne, a journalist before becoming a farmer, is along to keep her friend company, and to experience a life of luxury. Mick Szabo, a Hungarian chef added to the crew at the last-minute, sees it as his chance to impress his famous boss and land a prestigious position. Miriam Koslow, a violinist for a string quartet for years, wants a peaceful trip.

But the voyage is marked by animosity among the crew and signs of cut corners by the cruise company. Soon the Queen Isabella faces its greatest challenge yet, leaving passengers and crew sinking in the turmoil.

The Last Cruise sounds like it would be a fast-paced thriller. It’s not. Instead, it moves slowly and languorously, allowing hints of trouble to peek through its glamourous façade. The odd assortment of characters just works together, and, along with the slow pace, helps cement the sense of low-lying dread that permeates the pages. The ending is not the most frustrating one I’ve ever read…but it’s on the list.

Kate Christensen is an award-winning author and memoirist. The Last Cruise is her newest novel. 

(Galley provided by Doubleday in exchange for an honest review.)
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Right.... well, this made me want to go rewatch “Titanic” & probably just never gonna cruise ship ever again! A definite original tale but I found it to be a bit of a slow read, I’m afraid.... it wasn’t BAD - I just wasn’t excited to carve time out of my day to read it. 
I do appreciate the ARC from netgalley & publisher though & just might try this one again later.
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The Queen Isabella is a vintage cruise ship from the 1950s set to take its final voyage: a retro, 1950s-themed trip to Hawaii. Christine Thorne is a former journalist and exhausted Maine farmer. She was invited by her former coworker Valerie, who is working on a book about oppressed workers. Christine hopes to clear her mind and relax on the cruise. While enjoying this rare time without constant farm chores, Christine is coming to some realizations about her life and marriage that leave her with more questions than answers.

Miriam Koslow is a violinist and, along with her ex-husband, a member of the acclaimed Sabra quartet. Their wealthy patron is an owner of the Cabaret cruise lines, which operates the Queen Isabella. He and his wife have hired the quartet as entertainment for the cruise. Miriam is forced to confront her feelings for a fellow quartet member and the potential repercussions for the group.

Mick Szabo is a recently promoted executive sous-chef. He wasn’t supposed to be on this cruise, but fill the position at the last minute. He’s on edge working for a tempermental high-profile chef and wants to make a good impression. Tired of life on the cruise line, he’s regretting the choices he’s made. When tensions arise among the kitchen staff, Mick is unprepared to navigate these tricky waters.

When things on the ship take a turn for the worse, the cruise becomes less about relaxation and enjoyment and more about survival.

This was a character-driven book, told in alternating points of view, and its exploration of people in different positions on the ship makes for very interesting comparisons. The reader is quickly drawn in to the story and the drama unfolding between the characters, and with the fate of the cruise.

This is an enjoyable read with just enough meat on its bones to make it thought-provoking and powerful. Bust let me just say, definitely don’t read this on a cruise ship!
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if you love cruising like I do, then you've inevitably had a conversation that goes like this: "I just came off the best cruise, I can't wait to go back." and your friend says "oh I could never go in a cruise, that's my nightmare. what if..."

Kate Christensen took every one of those conversations ever to exist and put them in one book. the likely hood of all of these things happening all at the same time time is so incredibly rare. but, it makes for good fiction I guess. I just hope it won't deter more people from trying a cruise.

I will say, though, that she isn't wrong about the crew. their rooms are tiny, they get very little break, and it's customer service at it's most intense. treat your cruise crew with respect and tip well. they deserve it!

the story was good, but just over the top for me. also, I'm a little curious what the author has against a lasting marriage because not a single one made it. I felt a little bad for the pre-established relationships in this novel. and Valerie? her roller coaster was just unnecessary.
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3.5 stars

  As we enter the middle of summer what could be better than a book about a favorite vacation activity- cruising?  I have been on a number of cruises and luckily none of the events that happened on the Queen Isabella's final voyage, a trip to Hawaii, has ever happened to me, thank goodness.  In honor of her long life, the cruise will have a 1950's theme which appeals to a diverse group of people.

  The story is told mainly through the eyes of Mick-a Hungarian chef,  Miriam-a member of an Israeli symphony quartet and Christine, a Maine farmer's wife traveling with her friend, Valerie, who is researching the conditions of employment on the cruise ship. The owner and his wife are on board and the passengers settle in for menus full of iceberg lettuce with Thousand Island dressing, Lobster Thermidor and Baked Alaskas. 

  Then a part of the crew does a work walkout, there's a fire in the engine, power goes out, sanitation fails and food starts to run out. The ship is stuck in the middle of the ocean with no Internet, cell phone connections or basic necessities, the reaction of the people on board is quite interesting. The tugboats that come to rescue them break down. What else could go wrong? Plenty. 

  The ending is fantastic and very unexpected. It's a fun read that kept me amused and reading. It was much better than I expected which is a nice surprise. Thanks to Net Galley for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.
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I was drawn to this book because I do love cruising. On our last cruise to the Caribbean, we were offered an interesting tour of the inner workings of the ship--the galley, the laundry, the sanitation area, the engine control room and finally the bridge. Very eye-opening as to the enormous work that is going on belowdeck while passengers are enjoying themselves.

This novel also gives the reader a bit of that insight into the inner workings of a cruise ship and the people doing the work. It is the story of the last cruise of the ship Isabella, sailing from LA to Hawaii; afterwards, she will be retired. The theme of this cruise is retro-50ish, the era when the ship had been built in France, and the menu, clothes and entertainment fit that era.

The story is very much character-driven and revolves around Christine Thorne, a Maine farm wife, and her friend, Valerie, a NYC journalist who hopes to add a chapter about working on a cruise ship to the book she is writing; Miriam and the other elderly members of a string quartet from Israel who will be performing on the cruise; and Mick Szabo, one of the ship's top chefs. 

At first, all goes well, with bright, sunny days, delicious meals and fun entertainment. But then some members of the crew lead an insurrection and everything goes downhill swiftly from there. Think of some of the worst cruise ship disasters that have hit the headlines in recent years and you will have a good idea where this heads. Maybe a few TOO many of those disasters happen here to actually to be believable. 

What makes this story interesting is how the aformentioned characters deal with the problems in the face of disaster but certain aspects of the story became a bit tedious. I found the ending strange...one of those situations where you turn the final page and think, That's it??

I received an arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
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Just about anything that could happen on a cruise happened in this book which seemed to be too much for the plot and somewhat far fetched.  However I enjoyed the way the characters were intertwined as they encountered each other on the cruise.  I read the ending three times trying to make sense out of what could have happened and I’m still not sure.  This book will either make readers pleased or angry with the ending.
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Good storytelling and three strong characters made this a winner for me.  Christine, Miriam and Mick are all in different stages of life and positions on the cruise ship Isabella.  Christine is a farmer from Maine traveling with her friend Valerie, a journalist looking into working conditions across a variety of industries.  Miriam plays violin in a long established string quartet on board to play for the owners; she's divorced from another member of the group.  Mick is a chef, who landed on this cruise because the original chef had to drop out. How they cope when things go very bad= first the crew revolts and then the ship loses power- is at the heart of this tale.  These three do well, work with others, and keep it together, unlike some others but it's not easy.  This is well written and engaging.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  This was especially interesting because I've been on cruise ships but you don't need to have sailed to enjoy.  Two thumbs up!
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Did not enjoy this book at all. Kept reading it hoping it would get better & it did near the end but the ending was a great disappointment.
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I like Kate Christensen's books but this was not my favorite. Is it possible to like characters but not the story they're in? Well, that's what happened here. The individual story lines were interesting but the overall story was just okay. It did not help that I read so slowly and would have to reread a bit each time to remember what was happening with each person.
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