William Miller Books!

Winter 2014

39 Green Valley Ct

PO Box 1463

Secaucus NJ 07094

billmilleratsea@gmail.com

  

POST WAR CANADIAN PACIFIC LINERS:  EMPRESSES OF THE ATLANTIC 

Canadian Pacific was one of the great Atlantic liner companies, sailing out of Liverpool on the St Lawrence route to Montreal and Quebec. With crisp white hulls and their distinctive checkered funnels, they were the 'Empresses of the Atlantic'. Classic, two-class ships, they were also well-known as popular winter cruise ships.

Covering the period from the end of the war until 1971, when the fleet was sold off, the book begins with the renovated
Empress of Canada and Empress of France, taking us through the new builds of the 1950s, including the Empress of Britain, Empress of England and the company's swansong, the beautiful Empress of Canada, constructed in 1961. British, Canadian and American travelers remember the Empresses with fond memories and the ships also continued sailing for other companies, including the fledgling Carnival, now the largest cruise company in the world.  $29.95 plus postage & handling

CLASSIC LINERS: SS NORMANDIE

In the world of ocean liners, those built for French lines were the epitome of style and panache, and SS Normandie perhaps the pinnacle of this. When she entered service in 1935, she was the largest, longest, fastest and certainly the best fed ship of her time, serving the finest food imaginable in a dining room longer than the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. Normandie embodied high glamour and was a firm favourite of many, albeit for a short time. Times were changing and even the French government's massive subsidies to the builders, an attempt to make Normandie a flagship for the drive out of the Depression. could only work for so long, as the Second World War drew nearer. She might have been a valuable troopship, and served a the USS Lafayette for a time, but caught fire at her New York pier in 1942. The great ship was salvaged, but with an expensive restoration in prospect she could not escape being scrapped in 1946-47. Through beautiful illustrations and evocative writing, William H.Miller presents the story of one of the most lavish liners ever to cross the seas.  $29.95 plus postage & handling

 

  

Union Castle Liners -From Great Britain to Africa 1946-1977  

It was one of the most important British liner routes of all - the express run from Southampton to the South African Cape. Carrying passengers as well as cargo, including the all-important mail, it was a byword in travel - 'every Thursday at 4', as one of the big Union-Castle liners set off for Cape Town and beyond. By the late 1950s, these mail ships included the Arundel Castle, Carnarvon Castle, Winchester Castle, Athlone Castle, Stirling Castle, Capetown Castle and two post-war sensations, the Edinburgh Castle and Pretoria Castle. Three new liners arrived in 1959, the last great ships built for Union-Castle. They were Pendennis Castle, Windsor Castle and Transvaal Castle.

                                                             The route was not just to the Cape - for Union-Castle also offered a service down the East coast of Africa and a round-Africa route too. In 1977, with the mail contract and passengers lost to the jet and cargo to container ships, the service ceased in October that year and Union-Castle was no more.   Amberley Publishing, Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK.  $29.95

 

Great Atlantic Liners of the 20th Century in Color (co-authored with Anton Logvinenko;  Amberley Publishing, Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK.  $29.95     

  

 Ile de France and Liberte - France's Premier Post War Liners  The latest in the Classic Liners series evokes the glamour and ambience of two of the most beloved liners of the 1950s Île de France, completed in 1927, was a hugely famous prewar liner, a ship with unique style and character. She was said to offer "the cheeriest way to cross the Atlantic." After wartime service as a valiant troopship, she was restored with what Paris fashion calls a "new look," relaunched in 1949. The Liberté was built in 1930, originally the German Europa, but ceded to France as reparations in 1946. She was de-Germanized and restyled in French Line luxury as the Liberté, recommissioned in 1950. The Île de France sailed until 1958; the Liberté until 1961, and this illustrated book concentrates on their heydays in the glorious, post-World War II years, when they were the largest and grandest liners under the French flag. Both ships were famed for their service and onboard ambience, but most especially for their cooking, and they were said to be the best-fed liners on the Atlantic...$25.00

 


Along the Hudson - luxury Liner Row in the 50's & 60's

In the 1950s and '60s, countless passenger liners called at New York and usually berthed at Luxury Liner Row along the City's West Side.   The cast includes the Cunard Queens, the Ile de France & Liberte, United States, Independence, Gripsholm & Queen of Bermuda.   It is a grand assemblage of great ships -- both large & small.  $29.95

Great American Passenger Ships

The story of American passenger ships over the 20th century -- from the Leviathan to the Lurline, Santa Rosa & America to the brilliant United States.  Interesting text accompanied by lots of black & white photos as well as color.   $29.95.

 

  

  

  

Great Liners Story

A fascinating "little book" about the great liners, those floating palaces, of the 20th century -- from the grand German four-stackers to the age of the Oasis of the Seas.  Mostly color in this hardcover book.   $15.00.  

  

  

  

  

Great Passenger Ships 1910-1920

It was an age of evolution, when size and speed were almost the ultimate considerations. 'Bigger was said to be better' and ship owners were not exempted from the prevailing mood. While the German four-stackers of 1897-06 and then Cunard's brilliant Mauretania & Lusitania of 1907 led the way to larger and grander liners. White Star Line countered by 1911 with the Olympic, her sister Titanic and a near-sister, the Britannic. The French added the France while Cunard took delivery of the beloved Aquitania. But the Germans won out -- they produced the 52,000-ton Imperator and a near-sister, the Vaterland, the last word in shipbuilding and engineering prior to the First World War. They and their sister, the Bismarck, remained the biggest ships in the world until 1935. 

But other passenger ships appear in this decade --- other Atlantic liners, but also ships serving on more diverse routes: Union Castle to Africa, P&O to India and beyond, the Empress liners on the trans-Pacific run. We look at a grand age of maritime creation, ocean-going superlative, but also sad destruction in the dark days of the First War. It was, in all ways, a fascinating period.  $29.95

Last Atlantic Liners:  Getting There is Half the Fun  (Amberley Publishing, Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK, 2011. $29.95

  

RMS Caronia:   Cunard's Green Goddess 

(co-authored with Brian Hawley)  The History Press Ltd, Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK, 2011. $29.95

  

Floating Palaces:   The Great Atlantic Liners    (Amberley Publishing, Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK, 2011. $29.95

  

  

Great  British Passenger Ships  (The History Press Ltd, Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK, 2010). $29.95

  

SS Nieuw Amsterdam:   The Darling of the Dutch  (Amberley Publishing, Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK, 2010). $29.95

  

Cunard's Three Queens:   A Celebration  (Amberley Publishing, Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK, 2009). $29.95

Under the Red Ensign:   British Passenger Liners of the '50s & '60s  (The History Press, Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK, 2009). $29.95

SS United States:   Speed Queen of the Seas  (Amberley  Publishing, Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK, 2009).  $29.95

A View From My Window:
 
     Mother Nature gets up early, in fact very early. And looking due east from my window in Secaucus, she has already taken her golden rod and begun her mix, her plotted recipe, of the day.   She is the stage director, the set designer, certainly the executive producer.  The clouds swirl, as if playing with one another;  the sunlight dances between the towers; and the cityscape of even the greatest metropolis  anywhere is all but humbled by the enormity and might of the heavens above.  
 
     This view, photographed just days ago, is of course Mother Nature in a happy mode. 
     Mother Nature 2012This 
Sat Dec 15th Manhattan:   Stage lights!   Wonderful cabaret show with my dear friend, the extraordinary Marta Sanders-Cooper. Dynamic, talent-filled, funny, an hour-long performance that filled the room.  Huge applause & so well deserved!
 
Mon Dec 17th Blue Bell, Pennsylvania  Holiday lunches, dinners, etc – and today down to rural Pennsylvania for supper at the charming William Penn Inn.   Otherwise, fog & light rain throughout the day add to an enchanting, very English countryside mood.
 
Tue Dec 18th Manhattan:   Interview (for 4 hrs, no less) with 80-yr old Brian McAllister, the patriarch & owner of McAllister Towing Company (with 75 tugs, lots of barges & $200 million in overall assets).   I'm writing the firm's glossy 150th commemorative. Happily, Brian has immense, quite extraordinary recall. 
 
Wed Dec 19th Secaucus:  Coal in my furnace!   Busy time – new books, new lectures, schemes & future planning.   The hours fly by – and altogether just loving being at home & being busy!  (PS:  A last minute commission to do a book on the Union Castle Line ships that once sailed between England and Africa.)
 
Thu Dec 20th Secaucus:  Hometown news!   I read today that Eileen O'Leary had passed away.   She too was from Hoboken and was one of the luncheon aides in the Hoboken public schools, one of the fondly dubbed "lunch ladies".   She had a warm personality, kind & generous and was a huge fan of many things related to Hoboken and especially of Frank Sinatra.   Eileen has an added notation:  Chris Spina was my 6th grade student back in 1986, but couldn't grow – he was a little person.   His legs could no longer support his weight, however, and so needed a $25,000 operation.   His family did not have the money. We tried to help.  Eileen suggested that I write to Mr Sinatra.   She even had his home address out in Palm Springs. So, that night, I wrote – a typed letter telling him of Chris Spina. Two weeks later, a check for $25,000 from the Frank Sinatra account at the Wells Fargo Bank arrived.   There was no letter – just the check.   Eileen was the "angel," the connector of this wonderful deed. God bless her!
 
Sat Dec 22nd Secaucus/Brooklyn:  Sailing from Red Hook-Brooklyn this afternoon on the Queen Mary 2 – a wintery day with fierce winds (a contrast to our upcoming Caribbean destination). Blasts & gusts of frigid air out on the open decks. 
 
50 years ago!  I've attached a photo of the very same Red Hook terminal, but back in 1964 when it handled only cargo ships.  Denmark's mighty Maersk Line was then the prime tenant while others included the likes of the Philippine President Lines, the Polish Ocean Lines & the Prudential Lines.  Closed in the 1980s, it was renovated as a cruise terminal and reopened in 2006.   Presently, mostly Cunard and Princess ships use it.
 
The beginning of 28 days on Cunard – 14 lectures in all, 12 book signings and 4 TV interviews.  But all great fun! Travelling alone this time, which of course has its perks.   And typically on Cunard ships, lots of familiar & friendly faces aboard – the big Holiday party at sea, on this floating palace. 
 
Sun Dec 23rd At sea  Lots of parties tonight & so chatter with lots of interesting people. 
 
But sentimental news!  During the Captain's Party, a senior officer came over & all but whispered some sad news:   Word  has just been received up on the bridge that the legendary QE2, sitting out in Dubai since November 2008, has been sold (for a whopping $30 million) to the Chinese for scrap.  And things are evidently moving quickly:  Last Friday, 20 Chinese crew boarded the 44-yr old liner out in Port Rashid, replacing the long-standing 60 caretaker crew.   A last minute plan to makeover the 70,000-ton ship as a moored hotel in London has failed.  The QE2 is much loved – that officer looked very sad.  (PS:   Cunard later publicly denies this news while other "blasts" suggest she is in fact going to Singapore for further "employment".)
 
Booming holiday business!   The Queen Mary 2 is all but top-heavy on this sell-out Holiday cruise – 2,630 passengers (out of 2,644 maximum beds) with some 1,100 being American, 800 British and then the likes of 100 Germans, 80 Canadian & 50 Japanese.  There's also 1,233 staff & crew onboard. 
 
Profits down!  Meanwhile, Carnival Corporation – the parent of Cunard & 13 other cruise lines and owners of as many as 105 passenger ships at last count – announced that 2012 was the worst year in their 40-yr history.   Amidst higher operating costs (particularly with fuel oil costs), a drop of bookings, discounted fares and a decline in passengers' onboard spending, the tragic loss of the $600 million Costa Concordia last January has been "a nightmare". Added to that was the well-publicized breakdown for several days of the smaller, older Costa Allegra in the otherwise sweltering Indian Ocean.   Expectedly,  Costa Cruises has been hard hit – and this includes the monstrous, year-long, $500 million-plus salvage costs for the 114,000-ton Concordia.  But business goes on – super-rich Carnival is looking to the future, to better days, and is in fact building some of its largest ships yet:  a 144,000-tonner, the biggest yet for P&O Cruises; a 4,900-bed ship (the Costa Diadema) for Costa; a 99,000-tonner for Holland America; and a 5,000-berth ship for Carnival Cruise Lines.   And just in case you're counting, that represents over $3 ½ billion in new tonnage!  
 
Mon Dec 24th At sea:  Anniversary!  Long chat with Ray Rousse, the dean of cruise directors and, while now "officially" semi-retired, he is subbing on this Cunard voyage (it seems the prior cruise director has fallen madly in love, wants a house, a dog & a garden back in England, and so abruptly resigned).  The gloriously dynamic, terrifically charming Ray is also celebrating 40 years at sea, having begun back in 1973 on the Victoria of the long bygone Incres Line (he later went to Cunard, Royal Viking, Costa, Royal Caribbean & then back to Cunard for the QM2's inaugurals back in 2004).
 
Mighty blast!   Unusually, the ship's most powerful steam whistle was sounded at 12 noon – in kind recognition, it was activated from the bridge by a fellow passenger who is celebrating his 100th birthday today. 
 
The Great White Way!   Steve Rivellino gives an excellent talk on the Business of Broadway, the financial problems of the current day theatre business in Manhattan.  These days, production & operating costs are through the roof – the average stagehand, for example, pulls in $298,000 a year and as much as $344,000 for a prop master at Lincoln Center.  Superstars such as Al Pacino receive over $175,000 a week.   This all makes things quite pricey – the average ticket is now $150 when considering that premium seats now fetch as much as $500.  Meanwhile, the likes of American Airlines pays some $900,000 a year to have its name on a theatre marquee.  And something else I didn't know:   Hamburg, Germany is now the 3rd biggest theatre city after New York & London. But all is not lost – there are still big profits to be made.  In New York, Disney's Lion King is the all-time record-breaker by having earned $6.1 billion since its opening.
 
Tue Dec 25th At sea  Glitter & gold!   The ship looking especially gorgeous – lights, carols and an enormous Christmas tree in the lobby.  Captain's Service (with more carols) in the Royal Court Theatre – and we all prayed to God and for the Queen!   An excellent Christmas show after dinner:   dancing elves, carols with trumpets, sentimental readings & even falling snow. 
 
Freedom voyage!   Lunch today with a lady who escaped the Nazis in 1940, even after the War had started, went into hiding, made her way across Europe and finally finished-up in neutral Lisbon.  Being Jewish, her life was saved – she finally managed to get passage on a rare wartime passenger voyage to New York aboard a Portugese ship, the Nyassa, which had neutrality status.
 
Taking great care!  Cunard has imposed more visible & stricter rules to avoid the dreaded Norovirus.  There's little if any self-service, for example, in the Kings Court Restaurant, condiments have been removed from tables & teams of cleaners are almost constantly wiping down facilities & furniture.   The virus has become one of the biggest problems for the cruise industry – yesterday, the Crown Princess reported over 100 cases and, just last month, P&O's Oriana had 417 cases out of 1,700 passengers.   The virus knows no limits, of course, and can strike any ship, any line, any location.  (PS:  Later today, precautions are heightened – even all doors on Deck 7 are opened to "flood" the ship with fresh air. Soft breezes fill the ship -- it has all become like some tropical P&O liner, say in the 1920s, on a voyage to sizzling India.  Armies of crew are wiping, cleaning, sanitizing.  Even a single use of the those leatherette-covered menus in the dining room – ordering even dessert at the beginning – and of course salt, pepper, etc all removed.  And strongly suggested, even urged, that we wash our hands up to a dozen times a day.)
 
Wed Dec 26th  Basseterre (St Kitts):  Warm Caribbean sunshine!  The huge Queen Mary 2 is virtually empty as passengers clammer ashore in this, the first of 5 ports of call.  For me, I'm scribbling away – doing that new book on the Union-Castle Line ships that sailed, until 1977, between England & South Africa.   They were a huge company – they had as many as 14 liners in 1960.   And they are still well remembered.  "We had some very wealthy passengers in first class," recalled Charles & Jean Darnell, who were the dance instructors aboard ships such as the Windsor Castle, Pendennis Castle & Edinburgh Castle. "Travelling between Southampton and Cape Town, we had lords and ladies, even royalty, as well as industrial barons and actors & actresses.   Many travelled with those big trunks and some had their cars in the ship's hold, including Jaguars and Rolls Royces.   It was all very, very formal – dressing almost every night for dinner.  During the day, it was all very leisurely – with games of shuffleboard, table tennis, sunning & swimming, and even a cricket match between the officers & the passengers.   Our job was to do after-dinner shows and to teach dance – and to socialize."
 
 


Christmas QM2

Looking Back Over 50 Years of Travel, Travel by Ship & Travel Photography:
 
     Christmas on the Coastal Express, aboard the Midnatsol,  to the very top of Norway, 1991. 
 
     We sailed from Bergen northward to the very tip of the country, to Kirkenes & the North Cape.   It was of course the seasons well reversed from the "long days" of Norwegian summer -- we had 20 hrs of darkness each day, stopped at 15 ports (some for no longer than an hour & remembering it is the mail & supply boat as well) and saw a magically lighted setting of Christmas trees & glowing little houses.   We were given a box of chocolates and a Bible as gifts from the Captain during the Christmas Eve ceremonies and of course had reindeer meat dinner on Christmas Day.   With lots of the roads impassable in high winter, ships like the 2,500-ton Midnatsol (that's about 125 times smaller than, say, the Queen Mary 2) serve as local transportation -- Norwegian families would join the ship for a day or two, their big, furry dogs included.   Indeed, it was a different kind of sea journey.
 
Christmas in Norway 1991

 

Celebrating More Than 50 Years of Travel, Travel by Ship & Travel Photography:
 
     Bleak, far-off outposts & postings:   A dozen weather technicians were based in this pinhead spot in Antarctica ... we couldn't visit them & so they came to us, aboard the Crystal Symphony (January 2004) ... we sailed down from Chile and were deep in the southern Hemisphere & so therefore it was, for them, all but idyllic summertime ... a chill wind blew and I recall, despite the bright sun, the temperature that day being a scant 25 degrees ...  the team had lunch aboard & then gave a talk ... they were informative:   they worked in 2-3 year contracts, in year-long cycles with 10 months of Southern Polar darkness ... they lived as well as worked underground, in specially-constructed and insulated stations, rarely venturing out and away from the average winter temperatures of 30-40 below zero & winds that oftenb blew to well over 100mph ... of course, they were young, very bright, indeed highly dedicated to their work ... and yet in the end, while to them the luxuries of the Crystal Symphony was much like a fairytale, they preferred their Antarctic assignments.
 
Southern Waters

 

Celebrating Over 50 Years of Travel, Travel by Ship & Travel Photography:
 
The Isle of Capri in summer ... suntan oil, sweet wine, laughing children ... and those sapphire blue Mediterranean waters ... it was August (1973) and, typically, all of Italy seemed to be on vacation .. the gift shops were crammed, the cafes & outdoor restaurants overflowing and word spread that Jackie Onassis was shopping just down the street ... Europe seemed to bemore exciting, even happier then ...
Summer Vacation

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