The Passenger: How a Travel Writer Learned to Love Cruises & Other Lies from a Sinking Ship

David R. Godine. Jun. 2021. 160p. ISBN 9781567926972. $18.95. TRAV
In March 2019, Korean American travel writer Kwak survived the capsizing of the MV Viking Sky off Norway’s western coast. Kwak’s fluid and evocative prose provides a gripping, moment-by-moment account of his 27-hour ordeal among nearly 1,400 cruise ship passengers and crew. After several hundred elderly or infirm passengers were painstakingly evacuated by helicopter, Kwak and 400 other passengers remained on the ship until it was tugged to Molde, Norway. Interspersed throughout are interesting and poignant stories about Kwak’s family and loved ones, and the ship’s front of house/back of house crew members, entertainers, and rescuers. The narrative is punctuated with historical tidbits about other ship disasters (RMS Titanic, Costa Concordia, and HMS Barham, for example). One long day onboard the MV Viking Sky changes Kwak’s life in more ways than one, and prepares him for the uncertainties of pandemic living, he says, because he has found value in being “alone, in the company of others.”
VERDICT This powerful memoir about making tough choices and finding new directions will appeal to a variety of travel readers.
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