In March 2019, the Viking Sky cruise ship was struck by a bomb cyclone in the North Atlantic. Rocked by 50-foot swells and 40-knot gales, the ship lost power and began to drift straight toward the notoriously dangerous Hustadvika coast in Norway. This is the story by one passenger/travel writer.
... blends maritime history, astute observations of the human condition and eloquent commentary — is often hysterically funny. Readers may want to purchase several copies: one to keep, highlight and reread, and others to give to friends ... Kwak’s keen observations, deeply personal introspections and witty, erudite prose make the book a veritable page turner. Kwak deftly combines the external ever-present high seas high drama he is experiencing firsthand and inextricably intertwines it with his long simmering internal ones ... One thing Kwak beautifully does in The Passenger is to dispel some myths of travel journalism in general and reporting on cruise travel in particular; the good, the bad and ugly ... While Kwak is exceedingly generous in sharing his personal truths surrounding his family, relationships and struggles, throughout the book he is also truly hilarious. Without a doubt, Kwak is precisely the kind of person one can only hope to be seated next to pretty much anywhere ... It matters not a whit if one loves cruises, hates cruises, is a never cruiser or a wanna-be cruiser. Simply put, if you’re looking for a great read, look no further than The Passenger.
... with its bare-bones honesty and dry, cynical humor, reveals that when all is said and done, it’s the little things that matter: small acts of courage and kindness, words of love, and gratitude for the gift of another day.
In this short memoir, Kwak does a lot of things, and he does them all well. He writes a harrowing ticktock of his experience. He augments this with skillful reportage to explain what was going on beyond that atrium. He contrasts the lives of the wealthy white passengers with those of the crew members, many from the Philippines and Eastern Europe. And he reconsiders his life ... His story is definitely worth telling, both as a gripping adventure tale and as a solemn reminder not to wait until we might be dying to think hard about life.