The empress of ocean liners ends thirty years of service this year. She is the world's largest liner twenty-two miles of deck, its most illustrious, and in view of jet-age economics probably will never be surpassed. The author conducts a tour of the Queen Elizabeth's 424th Atlantic crossing, during which apparently he didn't have much fun as he was busy collecting thirty hours of taped interviews with the officers and crew but no passengers, examining the ship's bowels, and learning about its landing operations. The captain, who writes the introduction, commends Stevens for ""a carefully observed and meticulously detailed account."" Nonetheless, Stevens' book is dry, and although he regularly writes popularizations (The Trucks That Haul By Night, The Ill-Spoken Word), this one reads like institutional literature. Stevens misses the Grand Hotel atmosphere of the liner whose passengers have ranged from David Dubinsky to Billy Graham to the Queen Mother of England. Would that the book were, as the publishers claim, ""a champagne toast to a great lady.