The French Line's dazzling ocean liner S.S. France was alone in her class until the arrival of the QE2 in 1967. She was fast, chic, lavishly manned and offered sumptuous dining.
For a dozen years she was a star on the North Atlantic. However, in the summer of 1974, with aeroplanes dominating transatlantic travel, France was withdrawn and allowed to moulder for five years.
Then a miraculous reprieve: the head of Norwegian Cruise Line decided to buy France; the vessel was revamped for warm weather and re-christened Norway. One of the last North Atlantic liners became the Caribbean's first megaship.
The singularity of this incredible hull that sailed in two contrasting modes demands remembrance-she was the pioneering big ship, popularising a scale of cruising then unknown.
As a dedicated passenger during both the vessel's lives, John Maxtone-Graham is in a perfect position to give us this rich, profusely illustrated history of France/Norway.
John Maxtone-Graham is the author of numerous books, including The Only Way to Cross, "the bible of ship buffs", and Normandie, a "richly illustrated, expert account" (Caragh McKay, The Daily Telegraph). He spends six months each year lecturing aboard ships.