Cruises may bring to mind days of relaxing on a sunny deck, amazing food, and ample drinks, but in these novels set on cruise ships, characters find themselves doing everything but unwinding. From harrowing shipwrecks to shocking murders, ocean-liners in literature seem to serve as the perfect backdrop for suspense, intrigue, and disaster. These novels may not convince you to take a cruise for your next vacation, but they will definitely keep you reading until the last page.
9 Tales of Intrigue, Suspense and Disaster Set on Ocean Liners
While aboard a luxury cruise, Lo Blacklock, a travel journalist, witnesses a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for, and the cruise continues as if nothing occurred, all while Lo attempts to convince the rest of the passengers that something is terribly wrong.
A travel writer assigned to review a luxury cruise vacation witnesses a terrifying murder. But all the passengers remain accounted for—and as the ship sails on, she must attempt to convince the other passengers that something has gone terribly, terribly wrong.
For those who loved MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, detective Hercule Poirot returns in this Agatha Christie novel, this time to solve a murder on an ocean liner. Set aboard a Nile cruise, Poirot is pulled away from his vacation to identify an heiress’s killer.
Deb Gardner and Keller Sullivan are Antarctic researchers who also serve as tour guides. When Keller ends up on a ship that’s slowly sinking into the ice, Deb’s role changes from researcher to rescuer. A love story, a cruise ship voyage to the Antarctic, and penguins . . . what more could you want?
An unforgettable love story that pulls readers deep into one of the most remote places on the planet. Deb and Keller are researchers with a complicated history who spend a few weeks each year studying penguins in the Antarctic. When Deb discovers Keller is trapped aboard a sinking cruise liner, her role changes from researcher to rescuer as she sets out to save him.
When it comes to mystery, Mary Higgins Clark never disappoints. In this novel, readers are taken onboard the Queen Charlotte, where Celia Kilbridge, a gems and jewelry expert, finds herself investigating the murder of 86-year-old Lady Emily Haywood, the immensely wealthy owner of a priceless emerald necklace.
Unlike the previous novels on this list, the cruise in THE GERMAN GIRL is not for pleasure. Based on a true story, while the Jewish passengers aboard the SS St. Louis are treated to lavish masquerade balls and exquisite meals, they are also haunted by the war they left behind in Europe and the asylum the St. Louis once promised in Cuba.
Until I found THE MIDNIGHT WATCH, I was convinced there were no new ways to tell the story of the Titanic. In this novel, the focus is no longer on the great “unsinkable” ship itself. Instead, we view the tragedy from the crew of the SS Californian, a ship that sat idly a few miles north while the Titanic plunged into the sea.
In 1928, aboard the Cap Polonio, Max Costa, a thief hired to dance with unaccompanied passengers, and Mecha Inzunza, the wife of an accomplished composer, begin an affair that will stem over decades. While the entire book does not take place on an ocean liner, there is no doubt that this tale of romance and espionage would not be the same without the Cap Polonio.
For those who are looking for a more traditional story of the Titanic and wish to go beyond the romance of Jack and Rose, A NIGHT TO REMEMBER is the classic, minute-by-minute fictionalized account of the Titanic’s sinking. Originally published in 1955, this novel still serves as one of the most detailed explorations of what occurred that fateful night.
On a luxury ocean liner crossing the Atlantic in 1921, the lives of three women—a first-class passenger, a second-class passenger, and a steerage worker—intersect. This novel paints a stunning portrait of the grand ocean liners of the early twentieth century and the class divides among their passengers.