Sailing the Seas in First Class


Destination: Cruises

Book: First Class: Legendary Ocean Liner Voyages Around the World (2009) by Gerard Piouffre


Sailing the Seas in First Class

If you think today’s mega-ships represent the zenith in cruising accomplishments, don’t be so sure. A look back in time will introduce you to ocean liners, exotic routes and luxury that rivals anything on today’s seas.

First Class: Legendary Ocean Liner Voyages Around the World, published by Vendome Press , does just that. The elegant book documents luxury cruising history through photographs, sketches and first-hand accounts of six famous sea routes and the ships that sailed them.
Author Gerard Piouffre sets the opulent scene with descriptions of drawing rooms, formal attire and a behavioral code that would send today’s casually dressed cruisers overboard in relief. A sepia-toned photograph of two women walking arm in arm on the deck, wearing long morning dresses topped off with extravagant hats, proves the point.

Filled with historical detail, recalls the earliest days of cruising as steam-powered ships replaced sailing vessels, eventually making traveling the seas appealing to the well-heeled traveler. Imagine sailing on the Cunard Line’s Mauritania as she races across the Atlantic to win the Blue Riband, an award for the First Class: Legendary Ocean Liner Voyages Around the World fastest Atlantic crossing by a passenger vessel.

Although the stories and historical minutiae are fascinating, it’s the photographs that capture my imagination. Viewing black and white snapshots of women lounging on the deck in 1940’s bathing attire or couples dancing to an officer playing an accordion, I feel as if I’m browsing through a well-preserved family album. Copies of menus, ship programs, luggage tags and cruise tickets add the ultimate personal touch.


If you’re a cruise fan or a history buff, reading about the Routes of Ice and Gold (the beginnings of theHurtigruten Coastal Express and Alaska cruises) or the long journey through the Suez Canal to the Far East will have you picking up the phone to talk to your travel agent about your own sea exploration. Just don’t expect to bring 12 pieces of luggage or be greeted with a crowd throwing streamers in the air as the ship leaves the dock. That, my cruising friends, was another era that’s only available to you in First Class: Legendary Ocean Liner Voyages Around the World.



Tucson-based writer, Donna L. Hull, has accumulated over 200 days on cruise ships so I knew that Donna was the perfect person to compare these bygone cruises with today’s cruises. Thanks so much, Donna.

The photo on the right is from Wiki Photos. The book was donated by Vendome for a review.

Are you a cruise afficiando? Do you yearn for the old 14-suitcase days with confetti send offs? Tell Donna all about your experience, or ask her opinions if you’re a novice cruiser. And if you liked this post, please share with friends by clicking on one of the buttons below.

About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

8 thoughts on “Sailing the Seas in First Class

  1. Thanks to all, glad you enjoyed the review.

    Actually grand voyages still exist today. They are called World Cruises. My husband and I traveled on the first two legs of a World Cruise (from LA to Hong Kong). Travelers who take the entire cruise come on-board with lots of luggage. Many of them travel on the same line’s world cruise every year, making friends that they reconnect with on each world cruise. In a way, they are their own community.

    I’ll never forget when Alan and I were sailingin the South Pacific on Regent Seven Seas Voyager. We were eating breakfast on our balcony and became mesmerized with a school of flying fish. We watched in complete silence, the only sound being the rush of water as the ship cruised through the ocean. Before we knew it, we had spent the entire morning watching those fish. It remains one of our most peaceful travel memories.

  2. I’ve only been on small private cruises like the gulet sail boat that we took around the Turquoise coast, but I love the old fashion sense of slow travel by boat and “Grand Tours” over many months.

    We’ve loved taking cargo ships on our open ended world tour which to me does seem to bring back some of those old fashion images in some ways. No crowds, many suitcases, big shows or confetti, ( since very few are on these ships) but the silence and purity of slow sea travel.

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