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Shelley Holtmann

Age: 16

Occupation:Student

Number of Cruises: 5

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norway

Sailing Date: April 13th, 2003

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

Most people see an older ship advertised for a cruise vacation and are completely turned off because it does not have a classy nine-deck atrium or a sparkling white exterior. I had the same feeling, but immediately fell in love with the S/S Norway after just one minute aboard the longest cruise ship at sea.

My parents have been on the Norway three or four times and signed our family of four up for a Spring Break voyage. My first four cruises were aboard beautiful modern ships-The Grandeur of the Seas (RCCL), The Century (Celebrity Cruises), The Enchantment of the Seas (RCCL), and Ocean Princess (Princess Cruises). My first cruise was by far my favorite, considering it was my first and everything that happens, happens for the first time.

EMBARKATION:
The S/S Norway left on a Sunday from the Port of Miami. The 80-degree weather in Florida was a nice escape from the 50-degree weather of Maryland, which was a nice switch. The embarkation process was not very long, except for a small misunderstanding at the port about our cabin assignments.

My sister and I were to have our own cabin, down the hall from our parents on the Norway deck. We soon learned that our parents got upgraded to a suite on the Pool Deck, because they were in the Latitudes program, which is when you’ve been on more than one cruise with NCL.

The gentleman we were checking in with got information on the upgrade only moments after we had left the desk and we had to go back and change our paperwork. This required us going to their old cabin and retrieving the luggage once we were on the ship.

CABINS:
Once aboard, we went to our cabin on the Norway deck and were surprised to find the extreme amount of space! Because the Norway was built for trans-Atlantic voyages, the cabins were larger, which really won me over.

The cabin was so large that you could practically do yoga on the floor and have enough room! Our windows were two small portholes that surprisingly let in an equal amount of light as regular windows.

Then we went to look at the suite, which was also huge! It had three windows and was longer than the other cabin. Because the Norway was built for trans-Atlantic voyages, the cabins were larger, which really won me over.

FOOD:
There were several dining options on the Norway. First of all, there were two times that dinner was served. You could go to the main seating, which was at 6:00, or the late seating, which as at 8:30. We chose the main seating. The Outdoor Restaurant was where buffet breakfasts and lunches were served. Halfway into the week, they started serving pizza in the Outdoor Restaurant, which was a great change. Not that I don’t like fancy food, but it tasted good.

There were three different dining rooms for the evening-The Windward Dining Room, The Leeward Dining Room, and Le Bistro. We ate dinner in the Windward Dining Room. Before the Norway, I had never been on a cruise where the food was amazing. There were a few meals that I would definitely want the recipe of. The tiramisu, one of my favorite desserts, was fabulous, as well as the mahi mahi (dolphin), escargot (snail), and minestrone (vegetable soup).

On the second day at sea, the Windward and Leeward Dining Rooms both hosted Chocoholic Buffets, which was attended by most of the ship! A beautiful display of chocolate and ice sculptures added a touch of elegance to the dining room.

KID’S PROGRAM:
Both my sister and myself attended the teen’s club aboard The Norway, which we both found to be extremely fun. The teen coordinator, Trish, led us through fun scavenger hunts, card games, the Hot Tub Club, and Disco parties in the Dazzles Disco at night.
We both got the opportunity to meet dozens of friends that we still keep in touch with, three weeks afterwards. The only thing that was different about the Norway, in regard to the teen’s club, was that there was no designated room for us to hang out in. Different activities were held in different areas on the ship.

On the contrary, the kid’s club did have their own room, which could be found on the International Deck.

ISLANDS:
Because the S/S Norway is an older ship, it was made deeper than the modern ships. At each island, we anchored out in the ocean and tendered ashore with tenders that are carried on the front of the ship. The process of getting in line for tender tickets was tedious first thing in the morning, but this definitely did not ruin the day in the least. This cruise, we did not choose any of the Excursion options aboard, but we still had an amazing time out by ourselves.

ST. MAARTEN:
In St. Maarten, we rented a car and drove around the island ourselves. If a taxi is needed, though, there are plenty of taxi drivers waiting to drive you around. Because St. Maarten is driven by tourism, everywhere you look there is a ready driver standing by a taxi-van. The rent-a-car process was not all that hard except for we needed to take the water taxi over to the pier where the other cruise ships were docked. We tendered off to a different dock than the other cruise ships.

We have a favorite beach that we’ve been to a couple of times, which is located on the Dutch side, called Orient Bay. Orient Bay is a beautiful beach, though it does get more and more crowded every time you go. You also have options on how to spend your day. You can go parasailing, water-skiing, windsurfing, or just relax on the beach. Restaurants and mediocre showers and bathrooms line the beach as well. On the French side of the island, in Marigot, we have a favorite restaurant called Le Bar de la Mer. After a fun day, we returned the rental car and once again boarded the Norway again.

ST. THOMAS:
We also rented a car in St. Thomas, which was tedious because the rent-a-car place was in a different area as well. My Dad had to get a taxi to take him to the rent-a-car place, while the rest of us waited for his return and shopped a little. After we got the car, we drove around the island to the famous Magen’s Bay.

When we got there, the clouds started to gather and shortly after getting out of the car, it started to rain. St. Thomas is our favorite island, and it was the first time that it had rained while we were there. It wasn’t a big deal to us, but maybe it was to our friends that got stuck in the rain in an open jeep, on the ferry back from St. John.

Because the rain was supposed to get heavier as the day went on, we decided to get lunch in the Outdoor Restaurant back on the ship. Many of the tenders that came back from St. Thomas later in the day were filled with soaking wet passengers.

GREAT STIRRUP CAY:
Of the three private islands we’ve been to, CocoCay, Princess Cay, and Great Stirrup Cay, we found Great Stirrup Cay to be the prettiest. It’s lush wooded areas and beach combined to be a great getaway for the last full day of the cruise. A buffet was served for lunch and a bar was also on the island.

The snorkeling on the island was amazing as well. Many people came back raving about the hundreds of fish and a couple stingrays.

ENTERTAINMENT:
Because the teen club kept me so active at night, I did not attend the shows in the Saga Theater, except for the first night when the singers and dancers did a welcome aboard show. The cruise director, John Anderson, was very friendly and couldn’t help telling a joke or two. Even my father, who is not a fan of musicals, enjoyed the singers and dancers.
The North Cape Lounge was the place to be during the day and at night. BINGO was played during the day, as with other ships, as well as “port talks.” At night, comedians came to the North Cape Lounge for two shows, one for the main seating and one of the late seating. The Talent Show, “The Newly-Met Game,” and “The Weakest Link” were also geld here. I did attend two of the comedy shows, and they were hilarious! Definitely do not miss the comedians!

The new Sports Bar was also the place to be at night. A band was played there and on two of the nights, Karaoke was held. That is also something you don’t want to miss! The Sports Bar also had a pool table that could be used, by paying for a designated amount of time.

CONDITION OF SHIP:
The condition of the S/S Norway was amazing, considering it was built decades ago. The Norway recently has gone through hundreds, if not millions, of dollars in renovations and carpenters are still seen, painting walls and fixing tiles on the International Deck. The workers however, were never in the way of having fun, though!

AS A WHOLE:
I would recommend the legendary S/S Norway to anyone looking for an amazing cruise! The Norway combines style and class together to make an amazing getaway. I couldn’t help but complement the cruise director on the wonderful job he and his colleagues had done to make this cruise as wonderful as they did. The S/S Norway is the only cruise so far that I have taken, that I want to go back on. One family that I met on our cruise booked a cruise, while on the ship, on the S/S Norway in September of this year. I look back and ask myself, why was I apprehensive in the first place?

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