The Last Voyage of the Andrea Doria: The Sinking of the World’s Most Glamorous Ship

The Last Voyage of the Andrea Doria: The Sinking of the World’s Most Glamorous Ship by Greg King and Penny Wilson was virtually identical to Desperate Hours: The Epic Rescue of the Andrea Doria in spite of its different Dewey Decimal call numbers, with this book at 910.91634 (falling under geography and travel) versus the earlier book at 363.12309 (lumped in with “other social problems and services”). I can imagine that the cataloguers took one look at the word voyage in the title and decided it had more to do with travel than with the “social problem” that shipwrecks are. I cannot offer much in the way of a separate review when it felt as if I was rereading the book I had just read. This was another can’t-put-down read, however it offered more survivor testimonials as well as shipwreck salvage stories.

The authors made me laugh out loud with two quotes about cruising:

“Seasickness among passengers had always been treated as something of a joke by those who made their living on the sea, regarded with a kind of ‘bemused tolerance bordering on outright ridicule,’ as John Maxtone-Graham wrote.”


“Overeating is the most popular Atlantic sport.”

King and Wilson quoted these passages from The Only Way to Cross, Maxtone-Graham’s history of North Atlantic cruising. I think I have a future interloan request.

Passenger Dun Gifford offered a poignant perspective as he waited for rescue:

“The ship didn’t settle over gradually. It did it in little tiny, perceptible lurches. And these caused fear.”

If I hadn’t read that observation, I would have thought that as water entered the ship, it leaned over at an imperceptible rate. Gifford made it seem that every so often he would feel a lurch, as the starboard side inched closer to the water. Indeed, those jolts would rouse fear in the passengers, believing that each lurch could be the one to finally topple the ship.

The authors offered a different story in regards to the accident that befell three-year-old Norma Di Sandro. While she did die after lapsing into a coma after hitting her head on the side of a lifeboat, the circumstances that led to that accident differed in this book. King and Wilson claim that Norma’s father did not throw her overboard in a panic to save her life. Instead, a survivor reported that Tullio Di Sandro was lowering himself to the lifeboat with Norma clinging to his back when another passenger leapt overboard, knocking Norma off her father. A tragic accident it still was, yet in this version of events Norma’s father is freed of the guilt he otherwise would have had to live with, inasmuch as a parent can absolve himself of guilt when it comes to losing a child.

This book was supplemented by two glossy photo inserts, many of them in colour. The final photos showed items recovered from dives to the sunken shipwreck.

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