5 best cruise holiday reads

One tradition which many cruisers have in common is the good old holiday read. Whether an avid bookworm or a light holiday reader, there’s nothing like a novel to enjoy on deck or even in the quiet confines of your ship’s library.

Of course, what-to-read guides are always going to be populated by the year’s big hits of the summer, the must-reads and the not-to-be-missed and you won’t have to look far to find out what the hotly-tipped tomes are. Of course, there’s also the option of taking a much loved favourite away with you but in case you’re in need of a little more inspiration, we thought we’d keep things in-theme and take a look at five of our favourite holiday reads which are all cruise-related in their own different ways.

Steam Lion – John LangleySteam Lion by John Langley

Whether you’re cruising on a Cunard ship or not, you’re in all probability cruising at all because of one man. Samuel Cunard is of course the celebrated shipping magnate who formed the British and North American Royal Mail Steam-Packet Company back in 1840 to deliver the nation’s mail. The title of his enterprise became increasingly snappier over the years until Cunard Line was born. This book tells the story of both Cunard and the growth of his company, and as a sometime Cunard ship lecturer and fellow native of Halifax, Langley is ideally placed to bring the pioneer’s story to the wider world.

Captain Cook’s JournalsCaptain Cook's Journals

Even if you’d describe yourself as a serial cruiser, it’s doubtful you’ll have got about as much as Cook, and you probably don’t have a set of islands named after you either.  One of the world’s most celebrated explorers, Cook was also something of a wordsmith and liked to keep a journal of his travels. If you’re exploring the South Pacific on a cruise or even better, visiting the Cook Islands in particular, this is the perfect read and will transport you back to a time when the shores you’ll arrive at where seen by westerners for the very first time.

Venice – Jan Morris

If yoVenice by Jan Morrisu’re cruising the Mediterranean, there’s a very good chance that Venice is on your itinerary and if it is, this book is a perfectchoice. Though it’s regarded by many as one of the world’s finest travel books, it’s not a city guide or a travelogue, neither is it a history book, but rather a little of everything. Morris has a long association with the City on the Water and has managed to craft both a standalone literary work and the essential guide to anyone who really wants to get a feel for the city and all its quirks. It’s perfect if you’re a return visitor too, as Morris has explored pretty much everywhere in this most unique of cities.

Bill Bryson – Down Under

Considering that the wry American single-handedly popularised the travel writing genre throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Down Under by Bill Brsonthere’s a good chance you’ve read some of his work already. Indeed, Notes from a Small Island was on many people’s must-read lists, offering a humorous and accurate look at Blighty and all its quirks. However, it’s this travel-based tome about a much bigger island which should be the essential companion if you’re cruising to Australia. A famously huge country and one which is its own continent, Australia proves to be the perfect foil for Bryson’s observations, and his experiences there make for a compelling and informative read.

The Beach – Alex Garland

They say a picture speaks a thousand words but to be fair, Garland’s exciting and vivid tale of discovery The Beach by Alex Garlandand intrigue sells the Far East island experience just as well as any of the admittedly beautiful pictures you’ll find on this site. Though you’ll be cruising, not backpacking like the novel’s protagonists, you won’t fail to share the all-consuming sense of escapism that this novel provides and will feel like you’re breathing the same air and gazing upon the same beautiful beach vistas.

Have you read a book that would be great to read on a cruise? Let us know in the comments below.




Emma Smith
Emma has more than seven years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for nearly five years. She loves learning about new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Princess Cruises, Cunard, Celebrity Cruises, Virgin Voyages, Avalon Waterways and Royal Caribbean and is looking to get something in her diary for 2024! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

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