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MOST TRAVEL BOOKS are written after the fact. But this one is an enticement, not memorabilia.
The enticement is unabashed: “The Cunard Line and Thos. Cook & Son, pioneers extraordinaire of new routes and innovations in travel, offer the ‘Franconia’ Cruise of 1929… a World Cruise without precedent… modern travel plus.” Here in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow are tidbits gleaned from this book, together with my usual Internet sleuthing and recollections of my global travels (albeit, not continuously circumferential ones).
RMS Franconia. This particular ocean liner, sailing from 1922 to 1956, was the second of three Franconias. Her summer routes were between Liverpool and New York; remaining months were devoted to world cruising.
“The ‘Franconia,’ the book describes, “ranks as a super Cruise Ship… she was especially constructed for World Cruises… she is replete in equipment for every latitude. When she leaves New York in January huge coal fires dance in the grates of her libraries… her ‘Punkah Louvre’ system of ventilation transforms tropical nights at sea into breeze-laden comfort.”
Amenities. “The ‘Franconia’ sports space occupies some 5000 square feet… there is a Pompeiian swimming pool… a gymnasium fitted with every indoor sporting apparatus and every kind of health equipment… the squash court is the envy of landlubber professionals… The card rooms and writing rooms have large windows which frame turquoise seas and approach white ports with an impartial artistry… The main lounge and the quaint old English Smoking Room have an air of informal luxury which is reminiscent of a rambling country house.”
“On both sides of the ship garden lounges spread out in the manner of a Riviera terrace… The floors of these lounges are transformed during the tea hours and after dinner into the most perfect dancing floors afloat.”
How do I sign up? Where do we go?
How Much? Though not cited in the book, “The fares as shown on the Special Cruise plan of the ‘Franconia’ range from $2000 upward. While stateroom berths at the minimum fare are necessarily limited in number, a wide range of excellent accommodations are available at a moderate figure.” The minimum fare is equivalent to $33,183 in today’s dollar.
The Atlantic Crossing. The voyage begins on January 15, 1929, with a departure from the Cunard piers at the foot of 14th Street, North River. The Franconia then arrives in Funchal, Madeira, in the 23rd.
I suspect her berthing at the dock is rather less adventurous than the Funchal airborne approach.
On to Gib. Two days later, we arrive at Gibraltar. “The town is built on the Atlantic side of the rock which slopes gradually down to the water, while the Mediterranean side is steep and inaccessible. Gibraltar is connected with the Spanish mainland by a narrow sandy isthmus recognized as neutral ground. The Southern tip of the rock, called Europa Point, is eleven and a half miles from the African Coast.”
Monaco. The Franconia visits the Principality on January 28 and 29. The book notes, “No more lovely spot than this could be imagined! ‘A gem, basking, glowing in the sunlight….’ During our stay at Monaco automobiles will be provided for the beautiful drive on the splendid Corniche Road to the old Roman town of La Turbie and then on to Nice.”
Maybe one can tip the chauffeur to drive the Monaco Circuit; see my adventure of “A Monaco Lap.” Instructions would have been necessary during our January visit, as the first Monaco Grand Prix didn’t take place until April 14, 1929.
By which date we and the Franconia would be in Shanghai. More on this tomorrow in Part 2.
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022