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Gregg & Marcia

Age: Over 50

Occupation:Retired

Number of Cruises: 5

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norway

Sailing Date: May, 1999

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

OUR CABIN
We were eagerly looking forward to our cruise aboard the Norway. When we called our agent, he said the only way he would book us on the Norway was if we booked a suite. He told us most of the cabins are antiquated but the Suites starting with category S 2 were part of the two new decks that were added a few years ago. The two upper decks are like being on a new ship, whereas the rest of the ship reveals it's age. We booked SK 024, on the Sky deck, and our friends the Berteles were in SK 026. (The price of a suite is approximately in the range of what you would pay for an outside cabin on a lower deck of one of the mainstream cruise lines.) The stateroom was the most attractive of any of our cruises. It was slightly over three hundred square feet. The wall facing the ocean was all glass, from floor to ceiling. It was a breathtaking view, especially in the morning when we opened the curtains and the suns rays filled the room. The bathroom was double the space of a normal bathroom. It had a marble tub and a good shower, a hair dryer and all the little goodies our wives like to collect. It was a very attractive and comfortable cabin. The steward was excellent. We never saw him, but everything was taken care of. That's the way we like it.

We had a TV but no remote. I called and told them we didn't have a remote and they said I should go down to the purser and I could sign for one. I went to the purser and asked for a remote and he said they didn't have any. I asked him how come they didn't have any remote controls and his reply was that people take them. I asked him if he expected us to get out of bed and walk across the suite each time I want to change a channel? After a number of very poor answers he said he would see if he could hunt one up. It took two days before we got a remote The day we were disembarking, our cabin Stewart reminded me to turn in the remote or they would charge my account $60. This should give you a fairly good idea of NCL's public relations skills. We thought it ridiculous we had to endure this nonsense.

The cabin was beautiful but not well insulated and it was very noisy. You could hear the mumble of conversation on both sides of us and we could clearly hear the TV in the other cabins. During romantic moments I had to be careful not to raise my voice for fear our neighbors would hear me.. There wasn't a switch in the room we could turn on to hear the public address announcements. Being we live in Florida, we were especially anxious to hear the captains reporting on hurricane Floyd. When I could discern that an announcement was being made, I would run and open the door so I could listen. On one such occasion, I ran to the door in my skivvies and as I opened it, I was greeted by two couples in the hallway. Not exactly the proper dress for meeting people. Embarrassing to say the least..

ELEVATORS:
The elevators were impossible. Some of the elevators do not go all the way down or do they go all the way up. It's all according to what elevator shaft your at. There are no lights to indicate the elevators location or if the elevator is coming or where it's going. Elevators 1&2 have barely enough room for four couples. The entire system is so antiquated that even the Norway loyalists who have sailed on the Norway many times, were losing their patience. Each elevator shaft presented a new challenge with some added surprise.

WINDWARD DINING ROOM:
We were assigned a table for four in the Windward Dining Room. A waiter walked us to our table and it was the same as walking through a maze. There wasn't a discernable isle, just table and chairs. The food was very mediocre. It was not unlike eating in a diner. The waiter and the busboy were completely out of sync and on a number of occasions, one thought the other had done what he was supposed to do and the result was it wasn't done at all..

The Windward dining room is not a very attractive room. If you have a touch of claustrophobia you'll have a problem. Also it was very noisy. It was so noisy in our area that it was hard for us to hold a conversation. Thank God I remembered reading that the Norway had an alternative restaurant. The first evening after leaving the dining room, I went straight to the Le Bistro and made a reservation for the following night. The food was just fair but at least it was quiet. We never went back to the dining room. We made reservations at the Le Bistro for the remainder of the cruise. (The food was only slightly better than the dining room but at least it was quiet.)

ENTERTAINMENT & SHOWROOM:
The two productions shows were sensational. It would be very hard indeed to find a more talented group of dancers and singers. Most shows have two featured singers, this ensemble had three male and two female vocalists, and all of them very good. For Mary & I, the highlight of the show was when the dancers unexpectedly broke into the River Dance. It was breathtaking. One very disappointing aspect was the show room itself. This is the only showroom that we have been in that we didn't have a drink holder or table to set our drink on. If you brought a drink to the showroom, you had to hold it in your hand until it was finished. Then the only place you could put it was on the floor under the chair. A very bad arrangement.

Another annoying and nonsensical practice was not being allowed into the showroom till 10 minutes before show time, even when there was nothing going on in the showroom. It didn't make any sense. Throughout the cruise we got the feeling that things weren't as organized as they should have been. Nothing quite came off as it should have.

One final thought concerning the showroom. Every cruise ship we have been one has a full orchestra that provides the music for the show. This is not a fact on the Norway. On the Norway they have a piano player and a drummer that accompanies canned music. Either they do not have enough room or there trying to cut expenses. We missed the sound of a full Orchestia.

NORTH-CAPE LOUNGE:
A entertainer that deserves our accolades was the comedian-ventriloquist Ziegfield. He excelled as both a comedian and a ventriloquist. He was really great. He won over the room in quick order and they rewarded him with ovation over ovation. He brought the house down. We could easily have listened to him for another hour. The appearance of his dummy, and the way he manipulated her was really fantastic. But once again the facility, the room itself, detracted from the performance. The tables and chairs are all pressed together, so that there are very few walking isles in the room, and very little accessability to the tables. They had various dance sessions in this room. If you were lucky to get a table, when you got up to dance, it was a battle to get through the maze of tables and chairs to reach the dance floor. In our opinion, the Norway does not have large enough public areas for the passengers they now carry.

INTERNATIONAL LOUNGE:
We had heard a lot about the International Lounge and were looking forward to spending a lot of time there. We had read that it had changed very little since the glory days of the S.S. France and that it was an elegant and wonderful place to dance. We did not find it be the way it was described. I know I might make some traditionalists made, but the room did not impress us. We find that in most lounges they use lighting to create a proper atmosphere for different times of the day. In this room the lighting never varied. It was bright when you walked in and it stayed bright all night. The area where the band played was not defined in any way. There was no bandstand, the musicians just set the instruments on the floor against a blank wall. The combo was called The Porto Fino Trio. They featured the drummer as vocalist. He had a deep, guttural voice that did nothing to elevate the mood of the people in this room. They were mediocre at best. We and the couple with us enjoy dancing and we intended to spend a lot of time in the famous International Lounge. Unfortunately after three evenings we had enough. We thought the International Lounge was going to be one of the highlights of our cruise, but it wasn't. It was very disappointing. rarely was it even half filled.

THE OVERALL DRESSING ABOARD SHIP:
We have always enjoyed formal night. Our society in general is becoming more casual, and we find it especially nice to see couples dressed for formal night, even if it is just a suit and tie. On both formal nights, there was more casual dress then on any cruise we have taken, including Carnival. Even when we were having dinner in Le Bistro, I felt out of place wearing a jacket and tie. This is not what we expected aboard the former elegant, S.S. France.

SUMMARY:
In our opinion, the Norway does not stack up very well against the other major cruise lines. This was once a magnificent vessel, the talk of the industry, the very best in the world. This once great ship is now just a shadow of it's former self. We could tell you about many other things that were very troublesome but I think you have a pretty good sense of what our cruise was all about. It was very disappointing. The people we talked to aboard the ship were as disappointed as we were. We have become avid cruisers because we thoroughly enjoy being pampered and catered to. Sorry to say, this was not the case with the way we were treated by the crew of the Norway. The crew in general was not very friendly or attentive. If this is an example of what NCL had to offer, we doubt if there going to fill cabins unless they give huge discounts.

We're afraid the former elegant, great lady of the Sea, the S.S. France has become a tired old lady. Everything about this cruise was very disappointing.

We would be happy to answer any questions you might have, especially those from first time cruisers.

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