Whether you’re a frequent cruise-goer or someone just embarking on your first trip, reading a novel set on a cruise ship can be a fun way to spend some time while you’re drifting across the ocean and lounging about on the lido deck.
I’ve only been on one cruise (from Seattle to Alaska, which had some really gorgeous views), but my parents are obsessed with cruises and do them all the time. With things finally getting back to normal, they’re antsy to get crusin’ once again, which is what inspired this booklist!
For this list, I’ve rounded up some of the Best Books Set on a Cruise Ship, divided up into genres so you can choose what strikes your fancy.
There’s quite a few murder mysteries of various varieties on this list, probably because cruise ships make for a great environment for that type of story, with lots of strangers stuck together for long periods of time and stops at exotic places in between.
Have you read any of these titles or was there something you were expecting to see on this list that was omitted? Free free to leave a comment if so!
Mysteries Set on a Cruise
What It’s About: Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea…
Publication Date: June 30, 2016
What It’s About: The tranquillity of a cruise along the Nile was shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway had been shot through the head. She was young, stylish, and beautiful. A girl who had everything…until she lost her life.
Hercule Poirot recalled an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: „I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger…
Publication Date: June 18, 2021
What It’s About: A killer who targets lonely women on cruise ships is at the center of Mary Higgins Clark’s newest thriller „You Belong to Me,” a masterful combination of page-turning suspense and classic mystery.
When Dr. Susan Chandler decides to use her daily radio talk show to explore the phenomenon of women who disappear and are later found to have become victims of killers who prey on the lonely and insecure, she has no idea that she is exposing herself — and those closest to her — to the very terror that she hopes to warn others against…
Publication Date: April 21, 1998
What It’s About: When P.I. Regan Reilly attends a class reunion in England, the long-dead body of her former roommate turns up. Clues to the mystery follow Regan as she sails home–and into the hands of a killer.
Publication Date: July 14, 1992
What It’s About: Marine biologist Chaz Perrone can’t tell a sea horse from a sawhorse. And when he throws his beautiful wife, Joey, off a cruise liner, he really should know better.
An expert swimmer, Joey makes her way to a floating bale of Jamaican pot-and then to an island inhabited by an ex-cop named Mick Stranahan, whose ex-wives include five waitresses and a TV producer.
Now Joey wants to get revenge on Chaz and Mick’s happy to help her.But in swampy South Florida, separating lies from truths and stupidity from brilliance isn’t easy. Especially when you’re after a guy like Chaz-who’s bad at murder, great at fraud, and just terrible at getting caught…
Publication Date: May 1, 2006
What It’s About: From a beloved, award-winning writer, the much-anticipated novel about what happens when two families go on a tropical vacation – and the children go missing.
When Liv and Nora decide to take their families on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The ship’s comforts and possibilities seem infinite…
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
What It’s About: The day Adam Dunne’s girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads „I’m sorry–S” sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her.
Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate–and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before…
Publication Date: May 5, 2016
What It’s About: A new side-splitting Meg Langslow mystery from award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of Toucan Keep a Secret
Meg’s grandfather has been booked to give lectures on a cruise as part of the education/entertainment itinerary, and he’s arranged for a passel of family members to join him…
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
What It’s About: Bestselling mystery writer and amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher is invited to travel to London on the grand dame of ocean liners, the „Queen Elizabeth II”, as one of seven guest lecturers. The night they set sail, a fellow speaker is found brutally murdered. Now Jessica has just four days at sea to find the killer before she finds more of her colleagues, or even herself, dead in the water!
Publication Date: October 1, 1997
What It’s About: The Starfire Breeze steams its way north toward the Gulf of Alaska, buffeted by crisp sea winds blowing down from the Arctic. Those on board are seeking peace, relaxation, adventure, escape. But there is no escape in this place of unspoiled natural majesty. Because terror strolls the decks even in the brilliant light of day …
Publication Date: February 20, 2001
Historical Fiction Set on a Cruise
What It’s About: For readers of Kate Williams, Beatriz Williams and Jennifer Robson, a captivating novel of love and resilience during the Great War, inspired by the author’s family history.
As the First World War rages in continental Europe, two New York heiresses, Sydney and Brooke Sinclair, are due to set sail for England…
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
What It’s About: A spellbinding story – by turns poignant and electrifying – about the magical, often forbidden, discoveries of childhood and a lifelong journey that begins unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage.
In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy in Colombo boards a ship bound for England. At mealtimes he is seated at the „cat’s table” – as far from the Captain’s Table as can be – with a ragtag group of „insignificant” adults and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin…
Publication Date: August 25, 2011
What It’s About: A tale of glamour, intrigue and desire about a young English woman’s astonishing journey on a cruise liner to Australia at the brink of the Second World War .
England, September 1939
Lily Shepherd boards a cruise liner for a new life in Australia and is plunged into a world of cocktails, jazz and glamorous friends…
Publication Date: March 23, 2017
Romance Set on a Cruise
What It’s About: Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.
The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position…
Publication Date: January 19, 2021
What It’s About: Shirley Valentine, eat your heart out!
Ven, Roz, Olive and Frankie have been friends since school. They daydreamed of glorious futures, full of riches, romance and fabulous jobs. The world would be their oyster.
Twenty-five years later, Olive cleans other people’s houses to support her lazy, out-of-work husband and his ailing mother…
Publication Date: January 1, 2011
What It’s About: As if it weren’t enough to be cheated on by her husband of ten years, Yorkshire lass Hannah Davis is losing her beauty salon business too. Luckily, her big sister is there to pick up the pieces, but Hannah is determined to find some independence.
Impulsively, Hannah applies for a spa job…
Publication Date: September 15, 2017
What It’s About: The perfect summer story of a girl, several boys, and a cruise ship full of possibilities.
Lindsay has never been on a cruise, but she knows exactly what she wants to do now that she is: climb a waterfall, snorkel, meet lots of cute guys, and look for one perfect guy for a summer fling.
But her to-do list isn’t going according to plan, especially when she discovers that it’s impossible to have a fling-when you’re actually falling in love.
Publication Date: April 27, 2004
What It’s About: Critically acclaimed author Trish Doller’s unforgettable and romantic adult debut about setting sail, starting over, and finding yourself…
Since the loss of her fiancé, Anna has been shipwrecked by grief—until a reminder goes off about a trip they were supposed to take together. Impulsively, Anna goes to sea in their sailboat, intending to complete the voyage alone…
Publication Date: March 16, 2021
What It’s About: Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett are back on the job, settled into a personal and professional relationship built on fierce protectiveness and blistering passion. Now they’re assigned to impersonate two members of an international smuggling ring-an out-and-proud married couple-on a Christmas cruise in the Caribbean…
Publication Date: December 6, 2010
Other Books Set on a Cruise
What It’s About: ‘I will never set foot on a cruise ship again!’ – Åsa Larsson, bestselling author of The Second Deadly Sin and Until thy Wrath Be Past
On the Baltic Sea, no one can hear you scream.
Tonight, twelve hundred expectant passengers have joined the booze-cruise between Sweden and Finland…
Publication Date: September 16, 2015
What It’s About: PEOPLE WOULD KILL TO BE THIN.
Solu’s luxurious celebrity-filled Cruise to Lose is billed as „the best cruise since the Titanic,” and if the new diet sweetener works as promised – dropping five percent of a person’s body weight in just days – it really could be the answer to the world’s obesity problem…
Publication Date: June 1, 2015