Lester Dent must have been feeling successful. On March 18, 1933, Lester and Norma took a cruise on the RMS Mauretania. The ship left New York harbor on March 18, 1933, on its way to six different port calls before returning to New York on March 30, 1933. The ship’s registry shows Dent’s place of birth as “La Plata, Wisc” while Norma Dent’s is listed as “Carlton, Mass.”
RMS Mauretania was launched in 1906 as part of the Cunard shipping line. She was the largest ship in the world until 1910 when she was surpassed by RMS Olympic. RMS Mauretania was a sister ship to RMS Lusitania, and RMS Aquitania. The Mauretania left Liverpool, England on her maiden voyage on November 15, 1907, bound for New York City. On her return voyage, she set a speed record for an eastbound crossing.
During World War I, the ship served briefly as a hospital ship before it was converted to a troop transport. The vessel carried thousands of Canadian solider to fight in Europe. Then in 1917, she began carrying American Expeditionary Forces to Europe after the United States declared war on the Central Powers. The British Admiralty renamed her HMS Tuberose during her listing a military vessel.
RMS Mauretania returned to passenger service in 1928. In 1930 she transferred from transatlantic duty to a cruise ship travel between New York City and various romantic destinations.
An article in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle dated Sunday, January 22, 1933, reported that the cost of a twelve-day cruise on the Mauritania started at $155 per person.
On Friday, March 17, 1933. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that the Cunard liner Mauritania was sailing on its sixth voyage to the Caribbean. The liner departed from Pier 54 on the North River which is the old name for the Hudson. Pier 54 has a lot of history around it. In 1912, it was the destination of RMS Titanic on its ill-fated maiden voyage. In 1915, it was the departure point of RMS Lusitanian which a German U-boat sank with the loss of 1,198 passengers.
The Mauretania departed from Pier 54 on Saturday with Lester and Norma Dent on board.
- Saturday, March 18 – RMS Mauretania departed New York City
- Monday, March 20, 1933 – RMS Mauretania arrived at Trinidad
- Wednesday, March 22, 1933 – RMS Mauretania arrived at La Guaira, Venezuela.
- Thursday, March 23, 1933 – RMS Mauretania arrived at Curacao, Dutch West Indies.
- Friday, March 24, 1933 – RMS Mauretania arrived at Cartagena, Colombia.
- Saturday, March 25, 1933 – RMS Mauretania arrived at Colon, Panama.
- Tuesday, March 28, 1933 – RMS Mauretania arrives at Havana, Cuba.
- Thursday, March 30, 1933 – RMS Mauretania arrives New York City
The turnaround time was quick. An advertisement in the Delaware County Daily Times on Thursday March 23, 1933, listed a seven-day cruise on the Mauritania departing on April 1. The ship was visiting Bermuda and Havana during the cruise. The cost was $75 per person.
Dent’s financial notes show that he paid $370 to the Cunard Steamship Company on March 10. 1933. It appears the Dents were enjoying the financial success that their association with Doc Savage had brought them. Source: WHMC Folder C3701_f2130
A little examination of the stories and one can see that the Mauretania cast a long shadow on Lester Dent’s Doc Savage stories. Two of the stories Dent submitted before his West Indies cruise featured big ocean liners. In “Pirate of the Pacific,” the ship was the Malay Queen. “The Polar Treasure” centered on the wrecked ocean liner Oceanic. Could the travel brochure and Dent’s pending trip have provided a little inspiration in his writing?
After his cruise, Dent went on the write “The Sargasso Ogre.” This was another adventure that featured a larger ocean liner, the Cameronic. In this story, pirates hijack the ship to steal the large gold shipment it is carrying to the United States. The Mauretania had a history of carrying large gold shipments between the United Kingdom and New York.
- Mauretania Brings English, Turkish, and Indian Gold – July 14, 1921
- Mauretania Brings Gold – April 22, 1922
- Mauretania Brings Gold – July 14, 1922
- $12,000,000 Gold on Mauretania – May 10, 1923
- Mauretania Brings Gold – October 27, 1923
- Mauretania to Bring Big Gold Shipment ($9,700,000) – October 21, 1925
- Mauretania’s Gold Cargo – Nearly Nine Million Dollars for New York –February 13. 1929
- $1,800,000 In Gold on Way to America – July 27, 1932
- Mauretania carrying £2,000,000 to New York – December 29, 1932
- Big Shipment of Gold Arrives on Mauretania – January 4, 1933
It was not just the gold and treasure the Mauretania carried. On November 19, 1930, the Cunard liner made a desperate dash to rescue the sink Swedish cargo ship Ovidia. At 2:30 am the Mauretania received the distress signal and immediately changed course. The ship plowed through rough seas until she arrived at the site at 11:00 am. At noon, the Captain of the Ovidia gave order to abandon the ship and the rescue operation began. The “Speed Queen” rescued twenty-eight people from the rough seas.
The Mauritania did not long survive after the Dent 1933 cruise. Here last cruise was on September 26, 1934, when she left Pier 54 for the last time. She was moored at the docks in Southampton, England until she was sent to the scrappers in Scotland in 1935.
The “534” was simply the yard number where the new liner was constructed. The new boat was launched in September 26 as the Queen Mary. It would not enter commercial service until May 1936.