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Twenty-Five Years before the Mast

In this fascinating study encompassing a period of rapid growth and change, a cruise director looks back over a career that spanned twenty-five years on some of the best-known luxury ships of the second half of the twentieth century, including ten years aboard Cunard's famous ocean liner Queen Elizabeth 2.

Peter Longley fell into the industry by accident in 1978, at a time when it could be said that cruising was exclusively for the rich and famous. Longley traces this form of travel from its imperial passengers sailing the lifelines of empires to the fabulous world cruises that attracted eccentric passengers. Here, life and challenges both above and below decks are explored on these floating cities at sea that still hold myths of the past as they leap into the future.

From gala buffets to labor disputes, from entertaining royalty to evacuation at sea, Longley takes you there. You will go from dry docks to exciting ports of call, interspersed with anecdotes of an extraordinary lifestyle. You will also witness murder at sea, stowaways, and the sorting of garbage.

See how technology changed shipboard pastimes, and how the jet plane changed itineraries and entertainment, and how the computer changed everything. Finally, take a look at cruising today with over four hundred ships plying the seven seas. Learn how a few corporations now run the industry, and vacations range from voyages on mass-market mega ships to luxury river cruisers.

--Peter Longley

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