In this maritime-industry travailathon, a giant luxury liner--plagued by the monstrous expenses of its maintenance--prepares to put to sea once again, and David Bowen knows he's the right man to be her skipper. But the plum job goes to Commodore Johnny Everett, an aging naval hero whose name could raise funds to save the ship, while Bowen, as Staff Captain, does the real work. During the S.S. Columbia's renovation, the reader learns everything he may even vaguely have wanted to know about modern cruise ships, and Bowen falls in love with Gloria Willoughby, the boat's interior designer--whose independence drives him into the arms of a dull and doting nurse. Along the way Bowen forestalls a fund cut-off by inviting the entire House of Representatives for a jaunt: the congressmen succumb to a superb dinner. If real-life cruises were as over-ballasted as this, every ship would be sunk.