At age 70, Maya Angelou is going on her first cruise, arranged by her friend Oprah Winfrey as something of a birthday surprise. "She has been not only secretive, she has been able to cajole and threaten people into secrecy," said Angelou, the best-selling author ("I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" et al.) and filmmaker who is a professor of American studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.

"I know that 150 people are coming, and I know that she has a crew of 150, and she did ask me for my list, so I have invited friends who have been friends of mine for 45 years and some I just met three or four years ago," said Angelou, who for years did not celebrate her birthday, April 4, because it coincided with the date of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.