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

The SS Norway, of the Norwegian Cruise Line, was 1 of the grande olde ships I had usually required to go on. Their seven-day cruise was around Thanksgiving out of Miami to the Caribbean. It was a Large Band Cruise with dance hosts and four well-recognised swing bands from the past. Ideal — I like the outdated jazz and massive band new music and I really like to dance but usually do not have a superior dance husband or wife. I signed up.

Sailing on the Norway turned out to be a trip back in time. She was constructed in 1960 as the famed SS France, much more than 1,000 toes prolonged, a 110 foot beam, and with about 2,000 travellers and a crew of 900 who arrive from all over the globe.

You felt the grand tradition as before long as you boarded. The Norway however preserved a fashion and graciousness reminiscent of earlier cruising. The ship has been refurbished many instances, 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 extensive promenade deck you felt like you have been cruising someplace back in time. As you dined, you realized you ended up dining exactly where famed stars experienced dined, and you glance at the murals and original artwork works figuring out they have been there in individuals early times when others prior to you sat in this place, considered people very same murals, and engaged in the exact same type of energetic conversations with other people as you might be performing now. Later that night, you fifty percent be expecting Cary Grant, classy in his tuxedo, to stroll down the deck and lean nonchalantly future to you on the rail.

It will take a even though to locate your way close to. The Norway is 10 blocks extended and 12 decks higher. There is an International Deck lined with sidewalk cafes and boutiques on the Olympic Deck is the physical fitness middle with glass walls so you can exercising even though gazing out at the sea on a reduce deck you come upon a decadent Roman Spa that delivers massages, aromatherapy, physique wraps, saunas, steam rooms, and an indoor pool for h2o physical exercise. On numerous decks are two pools, a jogging monitor, 7 bars, six entertainment lounges, one grand ballroom, a cabaret, a significant casino, disco, an ice-cream parlor, library, piano bar, and a theater for first run and old common films. If you want them, there is a hairdresser, laundry, dry cleaner, masseuse, and health care facilities.

The Norway has 1,039 staterooms, just about every with individually controlled air-conditioning, non-public bathtub with shower, Television, radio and mobile phone. Some suites have a individual dwelling space and bedroom in addition to a learn bed room. Most penthouse suites have personal balconies. 1 evening we were invited to a celebration in the owner’s suite. It was breathtaking, with a wrap-around balcony, residing home, bedroom, dressing room and jacuzzi. Our host — a former police officer from Illinois who experienced received a major lottery of many hundreds of thousands and was celebrating. We had a a lot less impressive tiny cabin with a porthole.

Major job every working day — selecting from amid the items to do. There were being Broadway reveals, exercise courses, dance instruction, basketball, golf driving and putting, paddleball, ping pong, shuffleboard, skeet capturing, snorkeling courses and excursions, volleyball, vogue shows, wine-tasting, art auctions, lectures, a tea for grandparents, a mixer for singles, and a champagne get together for honeymooners. There weren’t numerous young children aboard this cruise, but ordinarily there was a youth system with a children’s playroom, young children and teen activities, and particular shore excursions. How can any individual ever say they would be bored on a cruise?

We still left Miami late in the afternoon and the pursuits started off instantly. Some passengers quickly headed for the on line casino, ready for it to open when we bought outdoors the authorized miles. The casino was established up for blackjack, craps, roulette, baccarat, 200 slot machines and a couple new online games I hadn’t heard of. I was content on deck, listening to the tunes, snacking off the welcome-aboard buffet, and observing the shoreline vanish astern.

I was presently happy I experienced manufactured this determination. I felt like a diverse particular person. The vacation hurry on land does not implement in this article. I viewed the waves break along with the ship and the wake path at the rear of. The air was fresh. Holiday getaway exhaustion? — poof. The only site visitors jam right here would be the initial people in line ready to enter the dining place to dig in to another meal. The only conclusions would be regardless of whether to store on board, in port, or both of those, or engage in golf or tennis, go swimming at some tranquil tropical beach front or do the job hard at deep-sea fishing. And tonight I would have to make a decision regardless of whether to have the conch fritters or shrimp, or clean baked bread or blueberry muffins, or stuffed Cornish hen or grilled swordfish, or coconut meringue pie or that ‘death-by-chocolate’ dessert. Or a tiny of each and every. And I never ever would have to seem for a parking place!

By the first night we have been assembly folks, and severe dancing experienced previously started. I have under no circumstances viewed so numerous people in one spot who relished dancing so a great deal and who knew so significantly about jazz and huge band tunes. You could wander from ballroom to ballroom, and in amongst on the Intercontinental Deck you could sit and converse to the travellers reminiscing and comparing memories as they listened to a complimentary 24-hour CD jukebox stocked with choice selections of yrs of jazz and huge band recordings.

4 bands were being playing this 7 days, alternating two each and every night time: the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra conducted by Buddy Morrow, Si Zentner and his Orchestra, the Bob Crosby Orchestra carried out by Ed Metz Jr, and the Harry James Orchestra done by Art Depew. And every single evening in the Cafe Internationale, which turned out to be my favored put, was the band whose drummer made use of to perform the background tunes for the outdated Fred Astaire movies. He still played the outdated acquainted brush drum preparations 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 initial dances.

A few times out at sea the staff members commenced to put up Xmas trees, much more than 50, close to all the decks. A few travellers helped place on some ornaments. In the spirit of the vacations, the online video channel highlighted basic vacation films as nicely as period of time motion pictures, large band performances, and interviews with aged nicely-known large band stars. We all experienced the holiday break spirit. But it is different out below. There is certainly no pressure.

Our very first port cease was St. Maarten/St. Martin. (The island is divided in two, fifty percent Dutch and fifty percent French.) The Dutch port, the place we docked, was Philipsburg. On the other facet is Marigot, with some seaside French cafes. In concerning there is the beach at Mullet Bay with heaps of rock formations for good picture ops, swimming, and exploring. There is responsibility-no cost searching on the two sides, with goods ranging from low-cost t-shirts to costly jewellery and French and Caribbean designer garments. Many shore excursions have been available. In the morning we selected 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 new music in the history, then stopped for a amazing consume on a cafe patio together the ocean, and assumed about the persons procuring in the crowds again residence.

Following stop was St. John, the U.S. Virgin Island that is a secured countrywide park. There are vacant beaches there and some great hiking trails. We chose sailing all over again, although others selected beaching, sightseeing all over the island by safari bus, or went on 1 of many snorkel/scuba dives. Our sailboat took us in excess of to St. Thomas, wherever we caught up with the ship. Most of the people went into city to do some responsibility-cost-free purchasing so their Christmas shopping would be completed when they acquired residence. Other individuals headed for Magen’s Bay, most preferred beach in the location. A further group went snorkeling at the safeguarded reefs of Buck Island, exactly where feeding fish by hand underwater is a emphasize, and other people seen coral and sea life on the Atlantis submarine. We were back again on board in lots of time for a relaxation and a shower right before supper, and extra huge band tunes and dancing.

I have three excellent reminiscences from the next official night time. One particular was the team of musicians sitting down close to the CD juke box, actively playing the outdated things and reminiscing. “That is Significant Holley on bass, with Slam Stewart, 1 of all those excellent moments they played together.” “Who’s the drummer?” “Seems like Oliver Jackson.” “Appropriate. Remember the night time …” I just sat and listened, grinning, delighted to be part of it.

The 2nd memory was the scene at 1 a.m. in the main ballroom. Some of the older persons had been asleep sitting down on the side banquettes, much too weary to dance anymore, but way too stubborn to depart the superior tunes.

It was soon after 2 a.m. when I began back again to my stateroom, getting my normal wander earlier the CD juke box to get a breath of sea air just before turning in. The reminiscing musicians were being long gone, but one particular aged pair were there, trim and very small in their official apparel, with their arms all around every other, missing in memories, dancing to an outdated Tommy Dorsey tune. I experienced tears in my eyes as I walked back to my cabin.

The future day was beach front day on a small island in the Bahamas — Wonderful Stirrup Cay. I made use of to dwell in the Bahamas on just one of the outislands, so it was amazing to get back again to clear turquoise Bahamian waters. I walked the seashore, and remembered my five decades residing in the islands.

At the stop of 7 days, the ship was sparkling with decorations, completely ready for the Xmas and New Year’s Cruise. They were being now totally booked. But, I believed, I can indicator up for upcoming year. But time got away and now she will sail no extra.


The Norway was christened the S.S. France in 1960. Duration: 1,035 ft, that longest passenger ship then ever built. Alongside with Cunard’s Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, she was a single of the grand luxury ships on a regular basis crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

But jet planes came along, and have been a lot quicker and more cost-effective, passenger website traffic turned unprofitable, and sailings had been stopped in 1974. The France languished for various years in the port of Le Havre right up until pioneer of the cruise industry Knut U. Kloster, purchased her for $18 million for his Norwegian Caribbean Line (currently recognised as Norwegian Cruise Line) and renamed her the S.S. Norway. Above the subsequent 10 months some 2,000 staff renovated the ship at the charge of $100 million.

She began her new existence in the Caribbean, sailing her 1st 7-working day Caribbean cruise June 1, l980 from Miami, her new dwelling port, with an worldwide crew of 800 from some 40 nations. In 1990 she the moment extra returned to the shipyard, this time for a $40 million refurbishment, like a 6,000 sq. foot Roman Spa with pampering conditioning, overall health and magnificence systems and two glass-enclosed decks of luxurious cabins, like two with ground-to-ceiling home windows, wraparound balconies, and jacuzzis with ocean look at. In 1993 the ship had a $23 million refurbishing and renovation of the 5,000 square foot casino to a mirrored, etched and stained glass Artwork Deco topic reminiscent of the ship’s famous past.

Her foreseeable future was unidentified for a very long time, but now she is headed to be scrap.