Should I Wake My 5 Day Old Baby To Feed SS Norway – A Report on What a Cruise Was Like on the Legendary Vessel

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

Norwegian Cruise Line’s SS Norway was one of the grand old ships I always wanted to go on. Their seven-day cruise ended on Thanksgiving from Miami to the Caribbean. It was a Big Band Cruise with dance emcees and four famous swing bands from the past. Perfect – I like old jazz and big band music and I like to dance, but I don’t often have a good dance partner. I logged in.

Cruising Norway turned out to be a trip back in time. She was built in 1960 as the famous SS France, more than 1,000 feet long, 110 feet long, with about 2,000 passengers and a crew of 900 who come from all over the world.

You could feel the great tradition as soon as you entered. Norway still maintained the style and grace reminiscent of earlier cruising. The ship has undergone several renovations, but the art deco murals, hand-laid tile mosaics, polished teak railings and nautical antiques from past voyages have been carefully preserved, and as you walk along the long promenade deck, you feel like you’re on a cruise. somewhere back in time. When you dined, you knew you were dining where the famous stars dined, looking at the murals and original artwork knowing that they were there in those early days when others sat in this room before you, viewing the same murals. paintings and engaged in the same kind of lively conversations with others as they do now. Later that evening, you half expect Cary Grant, dapper in a tuxedo, to stroll aboard and nonchalantly lean against the railing next to you.

It takes a while to get the hang of it. Norway is 10 blocks long and 12 decks high. There is an international deck lined with cafes and boutiques; the Olympic deck has a glass-walled fitness center so you can work out while looking out to sea; on the lower deck, you’ll find the decadent Roman Spa, offering massages, aromatherapy, body wraps, saunas, steam rooms, and an indoor pool for aqua exercise. On the various decks there are two swimming pools, a running track, seven bars, six entertainment lounges, one grand ballroom, a cabaret, a large casino, a disco, an ice cream parlor, a library, a piano bar and a theater for first-timers and older visitors. classic movies. If necessary, a hairdresser, laundry, dry cleaner, masseuse, medical facility is available.

Norway has 1039 cabins, each with individually controlled air conditioning, private bathroom with shower, TV, radio and telephone. Some suites have a separate living room and bedroom in addition to the master bedroom. Most of the penthouses have their own balcony. One evening we were invited to a party in the owner’s suite. It was spectacular, with a balcony, living room, bedroom, dressing room and jacuzzi. Our host — a former police officer from Illinois who won a large multi-million lottery ticket and was celebrating. We had a less ostentatious little cabin with a window.

The biggest task of each day – choosing among the things to do. There have been Broadway shows, exercise classes, dance lessons, basketball, golf driving and putting, paddleball, ping pong, shuffleboard, skeet shooting, snorkeling lessons and excursions, volleyball, fashion shows, wine tastings, art auctions, lectures, tea for grandparents, a mixer for the singles and champagne for the newlyweds on their honeymoon. There weren’t many children on board this cruise, but there was usually a youth program with a children’s playroom, activities for children and teenagers, and special shore excursions. How can anyone say they would be bored on a cruise?

We left Miami in the late afternoon and the activities started immediately. Some passengers immediately headed to the casino and waited for it to open once we got outside the legal miles. The casino was set up for blackjack, craps, roulette, baccarat, 200 slot machines and a few new games I hadn’t heard of. I was happy on board, listening to music, snacking on the welcome board buffet and watching the coast disappear behind me.

I was already glad that I made this decision. I felt like a different person. The holiday hustle and bustle on land does not apply here. I watched the waves break alongside the ship and the trail of wake behind her. The air was fresh. Holiday fatigue? — poof. The only traffic jam here would be the first people in line waiting to enter the dining hall to pounce on the next meal. The only decision would be whether to shop on board, in port, or both, or to play golf or tennis, to go swimming at some quiet tropical beach, or to work hard deep-sea fishing. And tonight I’d have to decide whether to have scallop fritters or prawns or freshly baked bread or blueberry muffins or stuffed Cornish hen or grilled swordfish or coconut meringue cake or that ‘death by chocolate’ dessert. Or a little of each. And I would never have to look for a parking space!

The first night we were meeting people and the dancing started in earnest. I have never seen so many people in one place who love to dance so much and who know so much about jazz and big band music. You could wander from ballroom to ballroom, and meanwhile on the international deck you could sit and talk with passengers, reminisce and compare memories while listening to the complimentary 24-hour CD jukebox stocked with a curated selection of years of jazz and big band records. .

Four bands played this week, two alternating each night: Tommy Dorsey’s Orchestra conducted by Buddy Morrow, Si Zentner and his Orchestra, Bob Crosby’s Orchestra conducted by Ed Metz Jr. and the Harry James Orchestra conducted by Art Depew. And every night at the Cafe Internationale, which turned out to be my favorite place, there was a band whose drummer played background music from old Fred Astaire movies. He still played the old familiar brush arrangements for ‘Stepping Out with My Baby’ and ‘Top Hat and Tails’. I met the six gentleman dance hosts in their navy blazers and white pants and had my first dances.

A few days at sea, the crew began placing Christmas trees, more than 50 of them, around all decks. Several passengers helped put on some decorations. In the spirit of the holidays, the video channel featured classic holiday movies as well as period movies, big band performances and interviews with old big band stars. We were all in a festive mood. But it’s different here. There is no pressure.

Our first port of call was St. Maarten/St. Martin. (The island is divided into two parts, half Dutch and half French.) The Dutch port where we docked was Philipsburg. On the other side is Marigot with several seaside French cafes. In between is a beach at Mullet Bay with lots of rock formations for good photography, swimming and exploring. There is duty-free shopping on both sides, with goods ranging from cheap t-shirts to expensive jewelry and French and Caribbean designer clothes. Several shore excursions were offered. In the morning, we chose a cruise on a 12-meter racing sailboat that competed in the America’s Cup. In the afternoon we walked from store to store in the sun with calypso music playing in the background, then stopped for a cool drink on the terrace of an oceanfront restaurant and thought about the people shopping in the crowds back home.

The next stop was St. John, a US Virgin Island that is a protected national park. There are empty beaches and some great hiking trails. We chose sailing again, while others chose the beach, a safari bus island tour or went on one of several snorkelling/diving trips. Our sailboat took us to St. Thomas, where we caught up with the ship. Most people went into town to shop duty free so they could do their Christmas shopping when they got home. Others headed to Magen’s Bay, the most popular beach in the area. Another group went snorkeling at Buck Island’s sheltered reefs, where hand-feeding the fish underwater is a highlight, and others viewed the coral and marine life on the Atlantis submarine. We were back on board with plenty of time to rest and shower before dinner and more big band music and dancing.

I have three wonderful memories from the second formal night. One of them was a group of musicians sitting around a CD juke box playing old stuff and reminiscing. “That’s Major Holley on bass with Slam Stewart, one of those great times when they played together. “Who’s the drummer?” “Sounds like Oliver Jackson. “Right. Remember the night…” I just sat and listened, smiling, happy to be a part of it.

The second memory was the scene at 1am in the main ballroom. Some of the older people slept and sat at side feasts, too tired to dance but too stubborn to leave the good music.

It was after two o’clock in the morning when I returned to my cabin, the usual walk past the CD juke box to get a breath of sea air before turning around. The commemorating musicians were gone, but there was one older couple, slim and petite. their formal clothes, arms around each other, lost in memories, dancing to an old Tommy Dorsey tune. I had tears in my eyes as I walked back to my cabin.

The next day was a beach day on a small island in the Bahamas – Great Stirrup Cay. I used to live in the Bahamas on one of the headlands so it was wonderful to step back into the clear turquoise Bahamian waters. I walked along the beach and remembered my five years living on the islands.

At the end of the seven days, the ship glittered with decorations, ready for the Christmas and New Year voyage. They were already fully occupied. But I thought I could apply for next year. But time has passed and now it won’t sail any more.

HISTORY OF SS NORWAY

Norway was christened SS France in 1960. Length: 1,035 feet, the longest passenger ship ever built. Along with Cunard’s Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, she was one of the large luxury ships regularly sailing across the Atlantic Ocean.

But jets arrived, which were faster and cheaper, passenger service became unprofitable, and the cruises stopped in 1974. France languished in the port of Le Havre for several years until cruise pioneer Knut U. Kloster bought it for $18 million for his Norwegian Caribbean Line (now known as Norwegian Cruise Line) and renamed it SS Norway. Over the next 10 months, about 2,000 workers renovated the ship at a cost of $100 million.

She began her new life in the Caribbean, sailing her maiden seven-day Caribbean cruise on 1 June 1980 from Miami, her new home port, with an international crew of 800 from some 40 countries. She returned to the shipyard again in 1990, this time for a $40 million renovation, including a 6,000-square-foot Roman Spa with pampering fitness, health and beauty programs and two glass-enclosed decks of luxury staterooms, including two floor-to-floor. floor-to-ceiling windows, wine balconies and jacuzzis with ocean views. In 1993, the ship underwent a $23 million renovation and a 5,000-square-foot Art Deco themed casino was renovated with mirror, etched and stained glass commemorating the ship’s storied past.

Its future has long been unknown, but now it is headed for scrap.

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