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Harry Johnston

Age: 46 to 55

Occupation:n/a

Number of Cruises: 6 to 10

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norway

Sailing Date: May 14, 1998

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

These words, spoken by the Norway’s long-time master in one of his sessions with passengers, could apply to any large cruise ship. But they are uniquely applicable to this ship, and in that sense they capture the many strengths and the few drawbacks of the magnificent S.S. Norway. Most readers are aware that she began her life in 1961 as the S.S. France, the last and greatest of the transatlantic liners. But within a few years, the jet age had rendered ships obsolete as a means of passenger transportation, and the French government grew tired of subsidizing her operation. By the mid 1970’s, she lay retired and decaying, seemingly destined for the scrap yard. But in 1980, NCL bought her for a mere $18 million and immediately spent $100 million to refurbish her and adapt her for modern cruising. At 1035 feet long, she dwarfed most other cruise ships of the day, and is still the longest cruise ship ever built. In subsequent refits, NCL spent an additional $60 million to add two new decks of modern cabins and restore her original art deco grandeur.

My wife, Rebecca, and I, along with another couple, Mike & Wanda, had the pleasure of sailing on this great ship March 14-21, 1998, on an eastern Caribbean itinerary. Rebecca and I have cruised twice before, on NCL’s Windward and Royal’s Majesty (just before NCL bought that ship). Rebecca has also cruised with her sister on HAL’s Veendam and RCI’s Grandeur, and this review includes those comparative experiences. Mike and Wanda were first-time cruisers.

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