SS Norway – A Report on What a Cruise Was Like on the Legendary Vessel


The SS Norway, of the Norwegian Cruise Line, was one of the grande olde ships I had generally wished to go on. Their seven-working day cruise was over Thanksgiving out of Miami to the Caribbean. It was a Big Band Cruise with dance hosts and four properly-regarded swing bands from the earlier. Ideal — I like the old jazz and huge band songs and I love to dance but typically don’t have a very good dance lover. I signed up.

Sailing on the Norway turned out to be a excursion again in time. She was designed in 1960 as the famous SS France, extra than 1,000 feet lengthy, a 110 foot beam, and with about 2,000 travellers and a crew of 900 who arrive from all more than the planet.

You felt the grand custom as shortly as you boarded. The Norway however preserved a design and style and graciousness reminiscent of before cruising. The ship has been refurbished a number of moments, but the art deco murals, hand-laid tile mosaics, polished teak rails, and the nautical antiques from cruises bygone have meticulously been preserved, and as you walked the long promenade deck you felt like you had been cruising someplace back in time. As you dined, you understood you were eating exactly where well-known stars had dined, and you glimpse at the murals and first art is effective being aware of they were being there in individuals early times when others in advance of you sat in this place, viewed these exact murals, and engaged in the exact same form of lively discussions with other people as you happen to be carrying out now. Later on that evening, you 50 percent expect Cary Grant, elegant in his tuxedo, to stroll down the deck and lean nonchalantly up coming to you on the rail.

It requires a even though to uncover your way close to. The Norway is 10 blocks extensive and 12 decks significant. There is an Worldwide Deck lined with sidewalk cafes and boutiques on the Olympic Deck is the health heart with glass partitions so you can training even though gazing out at the sea on a lower deck you occur upon a decadent Roman Spa that features massages, aromatherapy, body wraps, saunas, steam rooms, and an indoor pool for water exercise. On various decks are two pools, a jogging monitor, seven bars, 6 amusement lounges, just one grand ballroom, a cabaret, a huge casino, disco, an ice-product parlor, library, piano bar, and a theater for initial operate and aged typical movies. If you will need them, there is a hairdresser, laundry, dry cleaner, masseuse, and medical services.

The Norway has 1,039 staterooms, each individual with individually controlled air-conditioning, non-public bathtub with shower, Television, radio and phone. Some suites have a separate living place and bedroom in addition to a master bedroom. Most penthouse suites have non-public balconies. 1 evening we had been invited to a occasion in the owner’s suite. It was stunning, with a wrap-all over balcony, living place, bedroom, dressing place and jacuzzi. Our host — a former law enforcement officer from Illinois who had won a key lottery of many millions and was celebrating. We experienced a considerably less breathtaking compact cabin with a porthole.

Major position each and every day — selecting from amongst the things to do. There were being Broadway reveals, workout classes, dance instruction, basketball, golfing driving and putting, paddleball, ping pong, shuffleboard, skeet taking pictures, snorkeling classes and excursions, volleyball, vogue displays, wine-tasting, art auctions, lectures, a tea for grandparents, a mixer for singles, and a champagne party for honeymooners. There were not numerous kids aboard this cruise, but normally there was a youth application with a children’s playroom, kids and teen routines, and special shore excursions. How can anybody at any time say they would be bored on a cruise?

We left Miami late in the afternoon and the routines started instantly. Some travellers straight away headed for the on line casino, ready for it to open up when we obtained outside the house the lawful miles. The on line casino was established up for blackjack, craps, roulette, baccarat, 200 slot equipment and a few new online games I hadn’t heard of. I was pleased on deck, listening to the songs, snacking off the welcome-aboard buffet, and looking at the shoreline disappear astern.

I was by now glad I experienced produced this final decision. I felt like a distinct individual. The vacation rush on land doesn’t implement right here. I watched the waves split alongside the ship and the wake trail guiding. The air was fresh new. Holiday break tiredness? — poof. The only traffic jam here would be the 1st men and women in line ready to enter the eating home to dig in to a different food. The only selections would be whether to store on board, in port, or the two, or enjoy golf or tennis, go swimming at some tranquil tropical beach or work difficult at deep-sea fishing. And tonight I would have to choose regardless of whether to have the conch fritters or shrimp, or refreshing baked bread or blueberry muffins, or stuffed Cornish hen or grilled swordfish, or coconut meringue pie or that ‘death-by-chocolate’ dessert. Or a very little of every single. And I in no way would have to glance for a parking space!

By the to start with night we have been conference persons, and severe dancing experienced by now started. I have under no circumstances observed so lots of people in just one spot who liked dancing so substantially and who knew so a great deal about jazz and major band new music. You could wander from ballroom to ballroom, and in in between on the Worldwide Deck you could sit and discuss to the passengers reminiscing and evaluating recollections as they listened to a complimentary 24-hour CD jukebox stocked with preference selections of many years of jazz and massive band recordings.

Four bands have been taking part in this week, alternating two each and every evening: the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra done by Buddy Morrow, Si Zentner and his Orchestra, the Bob Crosby Orchestra executed by Ed Metz Jr, and the Harry James Orchestra executed by Art Depew. And every night time in the Cafe Internationale, which turned out to be my favored position, was the band whose drummer employed to engage in the background tunes for the outdated Fred Astaire films. He nonetheless performed the aged familiar brush drum arrangements for ‘Stepping Out with My Baby’ and ‘Top Hat and Tails’. I fulfilled the 6 gentlemen dance hosts in their navy blazers and white slacks and danced my initially dances.

A couple of days out at sea the staff began to put up Xmas trees, additional than 50, all over all the decks. A couple of travellers aided set on some ornaments. In the spirit of the holidays, the movie channel featured vintage holiday break films as well as interval motion pictures, large band performances, and interviews with outdated perfectly-regarded major band stars. We all had the vacation spirit. But it really is distinct out listed here. You will find no pressure.

Our initial port halt was St. Maarten/St. Martin. (The island is divided in two, fifty percent Dutch and 50 percent French.) The Dutch port, the place we docked, was Philipsburg. On the other aspect is Marigot, with some seaside French cafes. In involving there is the beach front at Mullet Bay with plenty of rock formations for very good photo ops, swimming, and discovering. There is obligation-totally free browsing on each sides, with merchandise ranging from economical t-shirts to highly-priced jewellery and French and Caribbean designer garments. Quite a few shore excursions ended up provided. In the morning we chose to go sailing on a 12-Metre racing sailboat that experienced raced in the America’s Cup. In the afternoon we wandered along from store to shop in the sunshine with calypso songs in the history, then stopped for a great drink on a cafe patio alongside the ocean, and considered about the persons buying in the crowds again household.

Future halt was St. John, the U.S. Virgin Island that is a protected national park. There are empty beach locations there and some great hiking trails. We selected sailing yet again, when other individuals selected beaching, sightseeing all around the island by safari bus, or went on a person of several snorkel/scuba dives. Our sailboat took us over to St. Thomas, wherever we caught up with the ship. Most of the individuals went into city to do some responsibility-totally free procuring so their Xmas shopping would be accomplished when they acquired home. Many others headed for Magen’s Bay, most well known beach in the region. Another group went snorkeling at the secured reefs of Buck Island, where by feeding fish by hand underwater is a emphasize, and many others viewed coral and sea daily life on the Atlantis submarine. We were back again on board in lots of time for a relaxation and a shower before meal, and a lot more big band music and dancing.

I have a few great memories from the second formal evening. 1 was the team of musicians sitting down about the CD juke box, actively playing the outdated things and reminiscing. “That’s Major Holley on bass, with Slam Stewart, just one of individuals superb times they played collectively.” “Who’s the drummer?” “Appears like Oliver Jackson.” “Appropriate. Recall the evening …” I just sat and listened, grinning, pleased to be element of it.

The next memory was the scene at 1 a.m. in the major ballroom. Some of the more mature men and women had been asleep sitting on the side banquettes, much too exhausted to dance anymore, but much too stubborn to depart the good audio.

It was just after 2 a.m. when I started off back again to my stateroom, using my regular wander past the CD juke box to get a breath of sea air ahead of turning in. The reminiscing musicians were being long gone, but a person elderly few ended up there, slim and very small in their official garments, with their arms about every single other, lost in reminiscences, dancing to an aged Tommy Dorsey tune. I had tears in my eyes as I walked back again to my cabin.

The subsequent day was beach front day on a tiny island in the Bahamas — Terrific Stirrup Cay. I applied to are living in the Bahamas on a person of the outislands, so it was amazing to get back to transparent turquoise Bahamian waters. I walked the seaside, and remembered my 5 decades living in the islands.

At the end of 7 times, the ship was glowing with decorations, ready for the Christmas and New Year’s Cruise. They were being previously fully booked. But, I imagined, I can sign up for subsequent year. But time got absent and now she will sail no additional.


The Norway was christened the S.S. France in 1960. Size: 1,035 toes, that longest passenger ship then at any time designed. Alongside with Cunard’s Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, she was one particular of the grand luxury ships regularly crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

But jet planes came together, and have been a lot quicker and cheaper, passenger visitors became unprofitable, and sailings had been stopped in 1974. The France languished for quite a few years in the port of Le Havre right until pioneer of the cruise market Knut U. Kloster, acquired her for $18 million for his Norwegian Caribbean Line (right now known as Norwegian Cruise Line) and renamed her the S.S. Norway. In excess of the upcoming 10 months some 2,000 employees renovated the ship at the expense of $100 million.

She commenced her new life in the Caribbean, sailing her first 7-day Caribbean cruise June 1, l980 from Miami, her new household port, with an intercontinental crew of 800 from some 40 nations. In 1990 she when additional returned to the shipyard, this time for a $40 million refurbishment, which include a 6,000 square foot Roman Spa with pampering health, well being and beauty packages and two glass-enclosed decks of luxury cabins, which include two with floor-to-ceiling windows, wraparound balconies, and jacuzzis with ocean perspective. In 1993 the ship had a $23 million refurbishing and renovation of the 5,000 sq. foot casino to a mirrored, etched and stained glass Artwork Deco concept reminiscent of the ship’s legendary past.

Her upcoming was unknown for a very long time, but now she is headed to be scrap.

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