NCL’s SS Norway: Final Transatlantic

In 2008 the SS Norway was cut up on a beach, in India and disposed of. I was lucky enough to take her final Transatlantic crossing on her, on 2nd September 2001, from Miami to Southampton. I have reproduced this review as a tribute to her memory.

SS Norway – Norwegian Cruise Line

Above: The SS Norway in Southampton waters at the end of her final transatlantic crossing


Embarkation 2nd Sept, 2003. (Click to enlarge)

Embarkation Sunday 2nd Sept, 2001. (Click to enlarge)

This was to be the SS Norway’s final transatlantic voyage, from Miami to Southampton. In fact it wasn’t to be, as she returned back to her home port of Miami, a few weeks after this cruise. But then the Grand Dame has made a number of comebacks in her long career.

It was both a cruise and a voyage, of mixed emotions, some high and some low. We were at sea on September the 11th 2001, between North America and the UK, when world changed around us.

Public Rooms

The SS Norway has a reasonable number of public rooms, although none of the rooms themselves are vast by modern standards, but this is not necessarily a bad thing!

There are two main show lounges, one being the North Cape Lounge and the other being the Saga Theatre. The North Cape is a typical non-tiered type lounge with moveable seats packed closely together around fixed tables, encircling a small dance floor. Similar lounges can be found any many older ships. Drinks were served from a bar at the rear, which unfortunately encouraged some people to sit and chat on the bar stools during the entertainment. Smoking is permitted in one half of the lounge. Unfortunately the smoke does not know that it is not allowed to drift into the other half of the lounge. The North Cape was often packed, so I can only conclude that it was too small for the job.

The North Cape backs onto the Photo Gallery which seems to be a rather large space. Maybe some of this could be used to extend the North Cape, with some raised seating being added at the back of the extended lounge? Maybe NCL will pay me a consultation fee?

The charming Saga Theatre has changed little from the days of the SS France, and has a traditional theatre style layout with stalls and balcony seating. It offers a much better chance of a good view, than the North Cape does. Drinks are not served here, so someone shouting ‘waiter’ will not interrupt your entertainment. Smoking is not permitted either.

The sports Bar is a strange multi-purpose room, providing a third medium sized venue. As well as hosting parties, buffets, and having banks of TV’s tuned to , yes you guessed it ‘sport’, a live band often performs on a small stage (designed to look like a locker room) of an evening.

The charming Club International (Club-I to the regulars) at the stern of the ship, is a very sophisticated lounge. It provides a fourth venue for reserved entertainment such as Jazz and the occasional lecture. It must be one of the most charming lounges afloat?

The Windjammer bar was an amazingly intimate (that reads small) bar for a ship of this size. It was charming and seemed to be a well kept secret, so never got very crowded. In fact there was no room for a crowd, there was just enough room for the piano and its player.

Dazzels Disco could do with a major face-lift and was nearly always deserted, apart from a few crew members – pity! I’m told that in the 1970’s Disco era of ‘Saturday Night Fever’ it was always packed to capacity!

There is a small Library/Internet room called the ‘Internet Cafe, but as it does not serve coffee or allow drinks to be taken in, it would appear to be rather misnamed! The number of PC’s available in it is not adequate for our increasingly on-line society. There should have been an unlimited Internet access deal on offer, but NCL could not get their act together on this!

There were a reasonable number of shops, but they mainly sold expensive clothes, expensive perfume or very tacky goods. There was no chance of purchasing a poster or history book of the SS France!

I’m not a Gambler, but the Casino seemed reasonably spacious and reasonably well used.

The internal Promenade decks Fifth Avenue and The Champs Elysees provide a very nice stroll and incorporate several information/reception desks. The fact that the proms are so long and the level of service at these desks so slow, the lines of people can easily be accommodated as they backed up down the proms! When passengers were not lined-up at the desks (only when the desks were shut) the promenade decks would have been the perfect place to sit and watch the Atlantic roll by. However, SOLAS regulations had dictated that most of the furniture was removed. Surely they could put back some light furniture of even seats that tilt and stow themselves?

Although I did not need to use the elevators, I felt sorry for those who did. They were a total nightmare. They were small, slow and not enough in number. If you have mobility problems, this ship is best avoided.

The Norway has a nice walk around external promenade, which is the longest at sea, but unfortunately it’s metal, not teak. Have enlarged fantail with pool is an attractive place to sit and watch the wake disappear over the horizon. There is a basket ball court too, which looks full sized to me.

Food & Service

Although not the finest afloat, the food was very good. The meats were very tender and there was a good selection of vegetarian options. There were a number of theme menus during the course of the cruise. The Gala Dinner was particularly interesting. It featured dishes from the classic French Liners of the past. I had ‘Fillet Mignon De Boeuf’ as enjoyed by Marlene Dietrich & Cary Grant aboard the SS Normandie in 1938.

The only theme that I found disappointing was the Italian one. The pasta I chose could have easily been a convenience/TV meal! The service was friendly and prompt, although our table always was the last to leave the dining room, so we always missed the start of the entertainment. I think this was due to the fact that we talked so much to our charming dining companions, rather than the speed of service?

Passengers are assigned to one of two Dining Rooms. I dined in the Leeward Dining room, which was originally the France’s 2nd class one. It was quite an attractive room, with two levels, located towards the stern of the ship, but it was not at the very stern, like many modern dining rooms. The Windward Dining Room, which was originally the 1st class one, was located midships. The Windward was the more attractive of the two, in fact is beautiful with a domed ceiling and a wonderful original mural on its wall, depicting a hunting scene. Although it only had one level, it is fact noisier and has less space between the tables than the Leeward.

Above: The Windward dining room

Neither dining room has windows, but this made no difference to me. Both dining rooms were largely free of vibration and excessive pitch and roll, unlike many modern dining rooms, which are foolishly located at the very stern over the rudder, drive shafts and screws.

“The Great Outdoors” is Norway’s open-air buffet area, at the stern of the ship. It was very popular, but was always total chaos! I suspect the ship was completely full, which put pressure on this dining area in particular. People would push and shove every breakfast and lunch time, to manoeuvre their plastic trays, plastic plates and paper cups and fight for a space at the often crowded tables.

The tables themselves were very close together. The food would often be cold if you dinned significantly after 12.00. This is not my idea of luxury, it was more like an army mess room!

We preferred the “Great Indoors” – room service. As an alternatively, lunch was also served in the Leeward dinning room, but this was always very busy. I would have liked to see the Windward open for Lunch too to ease the congestion.

Small, often oriental style buffets, were available in the Sports Bar and Casino late evenings, just in case you were still hungry after you five course meal??? I did take a look at the “Chocoholic” midnight buffet, which was held in the Leeward at midnight, one evening. However, just looking at all that Chocolate made me feel queasy.

Le Bistro, was the alternative/intimate French style dinning room. It had a cover charge of $10 per person. However, I was perfectly happy with the Leeward’s food and service. I don’t like the idea of additional charges for meals, so I did not try it as a matter of principle.

The SS Norway has a vast range of cabins. These range from tiny inside cabins with bunk beds (almost steerage) to the Owners suites. However, the price differential between the grades is very reasonable.

For this reason I choose a Pool Deck Suite. Theses were created when the France was reborn as the Norway. They occupy the space that the 2nd class promenades used to. They are not really suites, by modern standards, they are more like mini-suites. They do have three very nice picture windows giving great views of the Ocean and letting in lots of light, which many hotel rooms lack. There were two single beds, an adequate shower, mini bath tub, plenty of cupboard space, Fridge and TV. The only negative aspect about the cabin was that the Air Conditioning positively roared if you had it more than half power and the TV seemed to show the same programs and movies every day. (There was even a French channel).

Many of the older cabins looked shabby (pre the Nov. 2001 refit), but did have items of original furniture – which was a nice reminder of the grand dames heritage. It is important to note that many of the cabins are smaller than you would expect on a modern ship. However, if you can afford them there is the two new upper decks with suites, penthouses and owners suites, some offering balconies. Although these hardly capture the spirit of the France’s great tradition.

There was a good variety of entertainment taking place during the voyage. If you could not find something going on that you liked, you must be dead!

There were countless maritime lectures, which were mostly excellent. I’d like to give credit to NCL for these, but I can’t, because the majority of them were organised for free, by the Historical Steam Ship Society of America. Larry Rudner, who was on NCL’s payroll, was an excellent lecturer.

I really was not impressed with NCL’s trademark big Broadway production numbers. Firstly I can only recall the cast of 30 singers and dances performing two or three times during the 14 day voyage. Secondly, I did not think that the company’s singers were particularly good. I have seen amateur productions shore-side, featuring a maximum of 8 performers, which were of a higher standard.

Fortunately there were some other very good acts such as Ray Gilato, Sam Moore, Elvy Rose and John Ferrentino. The resident ‘Big Band’ is very good, too.

The Cruise Director was Adrian Lewis, who was not too over the top, when measured against other cruise directors!

The Ports of call were all very good: Miami, New York, St.John, Halifax, Scotland (Greenock), Le Havre, Dublin and Southampton. The excursions that we took to the Royal Yacht Britannia (Scotland, the D-Day Beaches (France)and Powers Court Gardens (Ireland) were all very good indeed, but overpriced, as all cruise excursions are, in my opinion.

The major weakness was aspects of NCL’s Organization. The lines for the purser’s desk and onboard account were constant evidence of this. Also the confusion about Internet charges for a two week cruise, rather than the normal one week. The standards of customer care demonstrated by the Purser’s staff were not always very good, either. In fact I do not think that they knew what was going on, half the time.

A member of the crew told me that other crew members found this ‘special’ cruise confusing, because it broke their routine of one week Caribbean cruises – shame!

The SS Norway is of course too big and deep to fit into many of the world’s ports, so we were tendered ashore by ‘Little Norway 1&2’ the two tenders that live on Norway’s bow. In fact they are not little at all, they hold 450 pax each, resembling D-Day Landing craft. These are both fun and a pain, as it can be a very slow process. It can take 2 hours, or more to get ashore! Once again the less mobile will find that boarding these can be difficult.

Leaving NY
The Norway was assisted by two tugs for our 5.00 pm departure, however she seemed to overshoot and her stern grazed the opposing pier. A lamp and railings were smashed.

I’m told by a reliable onboard source that the Norway effectively run aground trying to leave NY’s Pier 88. The Hudson is not dredged like she used to be in the Ocean Liner era and her 35 foot draft got stuck in the mud!

To get her free the Pilot and tugs applied extra power. When she did shift her stern continued to drift until it hit the opposite pier. The damage did not delay our departure.

September 11th 2001
The USA tragedy was announced by Captain Sverre Sovsdnes of the SS Norway over the tannoy, when we were beginning the Atlantic crossing leg of our trip. You can imagine the shock that was felt onboard! After all were pretty isolated from the outside world.

It was arranged that we were able to receive NBC and BBC News on our stateroom TV’s. As you can imagine, the atmosphere on the ship was very subdued for several days.

The Norway had been berthed in NY, only six days before. We had all taken pictures from the decks of those wonderful twin towers as we cruised down the Hudson river.

Some of the onboard shows were cancelled on the day of the tragedy, out of respect for those that had lost their lives. The Evening meal was a pretty solemn affair too.

The Captain immediately granted every passenger 24 hours access to E-mail and a 5 minute telephone call for free. However, many passengers needed to make several calls to loved ones and I can confirm that these were NOT charged for these. I thought that this was a very nice gesture from NCL.

In addition two rather emotional religious services were held onboard the SS Norway for the victims. However, I am glad to say that the spirits on the ship soon bounced back.

Passenger Mix
For this special transatlantic voyage, the ship was almost entirely full with maritime enthusiasts. Although I did meet one American couple that booked the cruise, purely because wanted to get to the UK without flying.

The biggest non-American, group apart from the British, was a large contingent of French passengers. Unfortunately there was little integration between the French and non-French passengers and I do not attribute this to purely the language barrier!

The entire ranges of personality types were onboard, from absolutely charming to the bloody inconsiderate. Most of the American’s that I met fell into the charming category. I will let you speculate about which nationality had the highest percentage of the inconsiderate.

The age range was varied, but the majority of passengers were over fifty, were veterans of decades of cruising and new their maritime history.


The SS Norway is a wonderful ship to cruise on if you have an interest in the era of the great Ocean Liners. Her hull cut through the swells of the North Atlantic like a hot knife through butter.

Although much of the SS France has been altered, some of her original decor and features still remain. In fact there is nothing more pleasurable than exploring the ship and searching for her original features. It’s like having your own time machine!

However, if you are not a maritime enthusiast, do yourself a favour and pick another ship. Modern ships have bigger cabins, better facilities, and are simply more comfortable. However, they cannot compete with the SS Norway’s elegance and charm.

The Grand Dame is in her golden years – time is running out. If you have never cruised on her, do so while you still can. You might live to regret it if you don’t!

Malcolm Oliver

42 Responses to “NCL’s SS Norway: Final Transatlantic”

  1. Ralph Bassett Says:


    I just wrote you about the “Jade” and looked on the side list of all your cruises. I will keep your blog site up on my desktop for more interesting reading!

    I was on this final cruise on the Norway with a couple of ship enthusiasts (one being a noted maritme artist Donald Stoltenberg). I am told one of his paintings in on the Jade. was a memorable trip….in so many ways..not all of them happy as you know.


  2. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    Ralph, much of the art work on board the Jade is Hawaiian in style or at least in subject. There certainly are some nice paintings and murals – particularly the ‘Grand Pacific’ restaurant.

    I’m not sure if/where Donald Stoltenberg’s work would be?


  3. Mercer Rhodes Says:

    Malcolm: Great writeup on The Norway. It brought back a flood of memories – but for me as the SS France. I was aboard her for the
    return leg of her maiden voyage to NYC – we went from NYC to Southhampton.

    I was 28 at the time and remember that it was a great
    party going over – I did not fail to see a sunrise – that is prior to hitting my bunk, not “up early” I can assure you.

    The voyage was lightly booked so many of the aristrocrats in first class came down to party with we tourist class passangers. Some of us got smuggled up to First for a late continuation of the party. I remember one
    classy guy in particular, he was going to start Hertz in Europe and was traveling with a high-fashion French model. I also remember that a group of us single guys ran into a group of 13 Canadian nurses traveling together to Europe.

    Strange; but I do remember, almost vividly, the picture you have of the bar. I think my chair was the third to the left from the near end. And of course the picture of the distincitive winged stacks will be forever a memory. I have a number of pictures, somewhere, of those stacks at
    sunrise and 28+ knots. (We were trying to set a record crossing – and claim the Blue Riband – but ran into the fringes of a storm on the third day and had to slow down.)

    Great memories – I think many of the stars and aristocracy from this squib from Wikipedia were returning on our voyage.

    “The France’s maiden voyage to New York took place on February 3, 1962, with many of France’s film stars and aristocracy aboard”.

    Thanks for a great documentary of what big ship cruising was all about – aboard a fantastic vessel.

    Mercer Rhodes

  4. alfred w. bonnell Says:

    my companion and i sailed on the s.s. norway twice,and thank god we did. we loved that ship the first time we sailed on her, and just to think that she was the france made her all the better. well, after that first cruise on her, we just had to sail on her again. and when we found out that they were going to scrap her, we were both devistated.the firstcruise on her we had a tiny insude cabin with bunk beds, but, we didnt care, and we were very comfortable,with that cabin. the second cruise, we were given a marvelous upgrade, whic was a first class cabin on the france, it was an original france cabin.if she was with us today, we would still be sailing on her, rest in peace, beautiful norway, and france.

  5. shannon Giles Says:

    In the late 80s my parents and I sailed the Norway to the bahamas. At the age of 9 or 10 the ship was awe inspiring. Now at age 30 I look back and realize what a beauty she was. My husband and i just got back from florida, where we saw many new cruise ships leaving port. They were pretty yes but nothing compared to my found memories of lady Norway. My father and I were very upset to learn her fate. Their will never be another like her……

  6. Thierry Dufournaud Says:

    The ship SS NORWAY-FRANCE becomes a legend – Result of the auctions – Paris, France.

  7. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    With thanks Thierry. Very interesting!

  8. Laura-Ann Says:

    Sailed the Norway 1997, 98, 99–(backtoback) and 2000. This was my first experience at cruising. I loved it, and spent many a late night sitting by myself on the top deck taking in the quiet, and salty sea air.
    The Norway turned me into a cruise addict, and in the past 12 years I have taken a total of 15 cruises. However, The Norway was truly an amazing experience and none can be compared to it!

  9. sandra goldin Says:

    Hi I worked for Casino Austria on the S S Norway being the very first ship ever to have a casino aboard. This was in the early 80s. Will never forget that ship, the staff and all the crew, it was the most special time. We worked long hours and hard, but we played hard too. Dazzles was full every night, and i swear John Travolta danced with me most nights till 4.00am I went on to working on many more cruise ships, but this had to be the best. All our staff made a pact to remeet aboard ten years later, but sadly it never happened. What a shame such a grand ship is now no more.

  10. Elizabeth Arts Says:


    I have enjoyed the beautiful write-up and all the comments so far. Thank you !

    This past week (March 2-7) marked the 48th year of family travel on the SS France. We were on the return leg of its maiden voyage to NYC. We were headed back to Le Harvre. Our family of 7 was headed to Asia where my father was assigned a new post with the UN.

    I was only 15 at the time, and the oldest of 5 children. We travelled in First Class and the memories are still there ! The huge staircase met you once on board. We had an official “Bon Voyage” party with many family and friends attending. We occupied 3 rooms; with my parents in a huge stateroom. Our first night called for “room service” which was ham sandwiches and crepes suzettes made to order in our room.

    My sister and I shared a table in the First Class dining room with an assigned place and time to eat for our meals. I can close my eyes and see exactly where we sat … to the right when you came down the stairs. Each morning we would find a gift of Christian Dior lipstick or nail polish or perfume waiting for us. Of course we “dressed” for each meal and loved the part we played. The pages or bellhops were French, so cute, and we were hoping to be noticed. When the seas got rough there were brackets on the table to hold the plates and glasses in place ! There was a menu for each meal, and it was written in French. We got to experiment with many new foods and learned a little French and how to order the courses.

    There was a soda fountain with a juke box for the teens. And, a nursery with attendants for my younger sibs. I also think there was a separate dining room for anyone under !2.

    We hit the tail or front end of the worst storm on the Atlantic. My parents reported 40 foot waves. The electricity went out at one point; it was hard to walk in the hallways; and many passengers were at the infirmary as seasickness was all about. The captain asked all to stay put, which is hard to do for kids. My brother and I went to explore only to find huge amounts of water thrashing around one of the glass enclosed pools.

    Sweet Bird of Youth was playing at the movie theatre and my sibs and I saw that movie all day long, without parent approval. Meanwhile, my mother could be found at the beauty parlor, or playing bridge, and my father was in the Library. Later on they were having cocktails and diner and socializing with everyone.

    I remember the luxury, the beauty, the freedom, the attention to you as you were a guest, not just a passenger. There were no phones, except ship to shore; no internet; and maybe a TV in a lounge. The ocean was beautiful.

    As we pulled into Southampton, my brother and I climbed up in front of the big neon SS France lights. We were waving our arms, as if to send a signal to the harbor. Yes, forbidden territory again, but 48 years later, it makes for a great story.

  11. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    Thanks Elizabeth, a very nice story. Probably the only ship today which will give you that ‘Ocean Liner’ feel is Cunard’s ‘Queen Mary 2’, be her a modern Ocean Liner (not just a cruise ship).

  12. thor Says:

    do you know what happened to ss norways 2 tenders? just courious.

  13. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    Hi Thor, ‘Little Norway’ 1 & 2 (the two landing craft style SS Norway tenders) they are both being used as tenders on one of the Caribbean islands. I can’t recall which island.

  14. Lillian Spike Says:

    I have an a/p of the s.s.norway by artist whose name is Jones. That is the name on the print. I am not sure if that is the name, but it appears to be. Can you give me any information about this.
    Thank ypu so much
    Lillian Spike

  15. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    I have no idea about this? Anyone?

  16. Antoine Estienne Says:

    Very nice and interesting page, thank you so much!

    I’m french and I was too young in 2001, I was just 16, to do the last transatlantic voyage on board and the french farewell of SS Norway. I regret a lot. She was the only one, the most beautiful ship ever and she’s gone…
    Thank you.

  17. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    Thank you Antoine, she was a very special ship.

  18. Becky Christman Says:

    Our family loved the Norway. From the late 80’s through the 90’s there was no other choice for us. She was like magic! The ambiance, the upscale mood, the special entertainers, like Rosemary Clooney and Dizzy Gillespie, WOW! It’s what cruising was all about. Nothing, will ever compare to the International Buffet special event. All the wonderful ice carvings and mellon artistic displays. There was so much talent in those days in every way. The chefs I remember were fantastic. I remember the regular table service of Cherries Jubilee or Crepes. No other ship today does any of this. The magnificent shopping onboard rivaled the shopping at port. The glorious lounges and music drifting on deck. Sailing on the Norway was an incredible experience we will never forget and still today compare all the new ships to her. They can’t compare.

  19. Patience Gibson Says:

    The Norway was the first ship I ever cruised on as a child and then she was the first ship I was fortunate enough to be a Social Hostess aboard. I will always have a special place in my heart for her. I was just on The Oasis of The Seas but I don’t know what it was but there is still something extremely special about the Norway! My first working cruise was the first transatlantic cruise by to France. It was an unbelievable experience. I only wish i had taken more pictures. If anyone has any pictures from then please send them my way I would love to have them. I would also love to catch up with all of my old friends I worked with while on the Norway and Majesty. Bottomline, The Norway is unreplaceable and she will always be missed in my heart!

  20. Rymberthus A.A.Andrikus Says:

    I was working on board S/S Norway in the year of 1990 a month before the ship went for dock in Germany. I followed the ship to Bremenhaven when they added two decks up. It was nice memory and I really enjoy when we were in Germany. They installed the two decks once we enter the shipyard and the S/S Norway has to through the canal with assistance by the tag-boats and train.

    Once the ship docks and the dock was closed. Immediately the water lhas been dumped out thus S/S Norway was totally above the dock and dry. I have the chance to go down make the movie with approval from Staff Chief Engineer. I was working in the Dining Room as Waiter and helping Ast. Maitre’d job, because Dining Room Manager and Maitre’d were on leave. Our duty is to serve the crew who still on board and all mess are closed.

    Hotel Director was Gunnar Mikkelsen and F&B Manager was Arnold Exner. I was lucky to have the opportunity when they add two decks and they re-open the second floor of Leeward Dining Room. I assist the dock worker in installing the waiter stand. After couple days in Germany our bosses from Miami come to Germany, namely; Arturo Guerrero, Tommy Powell, and Mr. Simon Worgotter.

    Becuase of Norway I have the chance to visit the Berlin wall and it was the same year when the Russian tear down the Berlin Wall. From Germany we cross the Atlantic Ocean comes to New York City. She is always as my favorite ship. I was working on board S/S Norway twice and she is my special ship and my last position on board S/S Norway as Ast. Chief Housekeeper.

  21. Paul Biddle Says:

    It is such ashame that this vessel could not be saved, like the SS Rotterdam. All we have left is the SS United States, which is the forerunner of the SS France. Ironic that the SS Norway took the fall for the Big U. I never had the chance to sail onboard her. I have always dreamt that the ship would be restored back to the SS France. But NCL’s extensive changes to the ship made that impossible, even if the engine disaster never happened.

  22. Guy Marrese Says:

    I worked on the Blue Lady in 1981 in the galley.
    So sad to see her scraped. I always wanted to take a cruise on her but never got to.
    The first week on the ship I got lost down below and just started climbing stairs.

  23. Tesa Peacock Jektvik Says:

    So many memories! The Norway will always be the light of my life. She was and is THE most beautiful ship I have ever seen. In work and in play she is always the best!!

  24. NOËL Says:

    Yes , many memories on this cruise …
    It’s everyday hard to think my ship is gone forever …
    Perhaps end of this year , we build a New France …

  25. Simon Garrett Says:

    My first cruise was on the SS Norway in 2002. Because of this grand and elegant ship, I have not only become an avid cruiser, but a ship enthusiast, especially the liners. Thank-you SS Norway for being my first, for the memories and for a new passion. I will be forever grateful. Rest in Peace.

  26. Genie Williamson Says:

    I was aboard the SS Norway for the first time in 1970 (when she was the SS France) as chaparone to 10 teenagers enroute to Europe for our “Grand Tour” – what a way to begin! My sister and brother sailed aboard her on her last westbound voyage as SS France. So when we heard she was going to take her final trip across the pond in Sept of 2001, we convinced our 80 year old mother (who had travelled back and forth to Europe many times, though not aboard this particular ship) that she should take my sister and me on this voyage.
    To say this trip was the most memorable ever for me is an understatement. The nostalgia of sailing on this grand old lady aside, the trauma of 9/11 was softened a bit as we arrived at the ports of Ireland, Scotland, LeHavre and Southhampton and received the genuine outpouring of sympathy from the locals. Not knowing what our travel situation would be at the end of the trip, one passenger contacted friends in Southhampton and within 24 hours there was an outpouring of offers of places to stay upon our arrival, if needed! Thankfully, it wasn’t but, being from the US South, we were pleased to know there was Southern Hospitality in England as well.
    It was after this trip that my mom hung up her passport. She had said it before, but meant it this time when she said this was the best trip of her life and nothing would ever compare to it. When she dies 11 years later, she still maintained that our Last Voyage on the SS Norway was beyond comparison.
    We all three loved the tradition of the old steam powered liners and were saddened by the circumstances of her demise.
    Thank you for this blog – brought back some really great memories!

  27. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    I nicee story Genie. Few ships can compare to the France today. I suppose the QM2 is the nearest to providing a ‘traditional’ Ocean Liner experience.

  28. Leif Roar Næss Says:

    I am happy to report that BOTH Little Norway’s still in operation at Great Stirrup Cay. That was in des. 2008.

  29. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    Great news!

  30. David Brain Says:

    Thanks for the memories, Malcolm. It was from the decks of the SS France that I first saw England in 1973. I’ve just realised it was exactly 40 years ago today we were on board the France for my first visit to England. We would return to Canada two weeks later on the QE2, via New York, of course. Certain aspects of the service left much to be desired, but the food was good – as one would expect – and we were pleased we had taken a crossing on the France because she was withdrawn from service a year later. I wish we could have gone First Class instead of Tourist (which was called Left Bank class at that time) but you do what you can manage. Many years later the ship, as the Norway, came into Halifax, Nova Scotia, when we were there on holiday and we were able to get very close even though we could not go aboard.

  31. Colette Capobianco Says:

    Enjoyed reading your article on the SS Norway . My husband and I had the pleasure of sailing on Her in 2003 on the sailing the week before Her fire . She was beautiful ! We also were in a mini suite with the three big windows and breath taking views . How I wish they could of saved her . Thank you for sharing your story . Colette Capobianco

  32. Kem Mitchell Says:

    Great Article on The SS Norway. My husband and I used to live in Miami and would go down to watch her sale by on Saturday afternoons. Better yet was actually sailing on her three times (once during the Holidays) and she was all decked out for the Holiday. We have been on many ships since The Norway, but none compare. The Norway will always have a place in our hearts. We too, as so many others, were devastated to hear she would be scrapped and have seen many photos and a video of her being dismantled (very sad). During one of our voyages on The Norway, my husband purchased a gold charm of her for me. I wore that charm for many years, then one day sold it along with other jewelry to make a much needed house payment… Over the years I have searched to replace that gold charm and am delighted to have just recently found and purchased one. I will hold on to my new charm and wear it close to my heart with all my other good memories of The Norway.

  33. t reeder Says:

    I have been on many ships since The Norway, but none compare. The Norway will always have a place in our hearts. We too, as so many others, were devastated to hear she would be scrapped and have seen many photos and a video of her being dismantled (very sad). During one of our voyages on The Norway, I proposed to my wife. I felt like I was on the Titanic. There will truly never be a boat like this one. Talk about history, and the floating dock ships of today have none.

  34. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    T reeder: The Norway has a special place in my heart too. Even after NCL’s conversion to a cruise ship, she still felt like a ship of state, an Ocean liner. RIP.

  35. Monroe Frey Says:

    I too was on that supposedly last sailing of the ss Norway, Sep ’01. My girlfriend, at that time, and I were escorting a group of about 80 from a radio station in Clearwater, FL, WGUL. I remember the shock of waking to CNN’s coverage of the attack on the World Trade Center that day as we sailed toward Europe. I also remember docking in Scotland and finding a group of Scots welcoming us and extending their support. That scene was also repeated in Le Havre and in Southampton. I also remember motoring up to Edinburgh and the 3 minutes of silence as cars, trucks, and busses pulled to the side of the highway for that observance. It seemed the entire continent was happy and eager to display their support for the USA. Thinking of it today brings back warm feelings. I’m about to take my next cruise on NCL, Monday 2/17/14 on a newer ship, the Norwegian Sky. It’s a short, 4 night excursion to the Bahamas; not a vacation but a short getaway from the awful weather we’ve been having. I was interested to learn of the disposition of that great liner although it is sad to think of her being cut into scrap. Thanks for writing your interesting and memorable review.
    M Frey
    Spanish Fort, AL

  36. George Taylor Says:

    Everything you write about brings back such wonderful memories. Some of your observations postdate my experience on the vessel, but others you describe were as I had known them when I was onboard in Bremerhaven for a period of about 6 months during the conversion to the SS Norway.

    My design firm was contracted originally to “translate” all of the existing signs aboard the France into English for use in the new cruise environment. Early survey of the ship in Bremerhaven quickly demonstrated how impractical that idea was. We ended up completely redesigning every onboard signage system – Cabin Identification, Directories, Wayfinding Directionals, Fire and Safety, Evacuation, etc. – all in all, in excess of 15,000 signs. After a long and difficult design process, nearly all were fabricated in Oslo and installed by my staff, ranging in size from 10-12 to more than 25 at times. We sailed with the ship to Oslo – then to Southampton and on to New York and Miami – a memorable maiden voyage, rife with power outages, rough seas in the North Atlantic, squabbles over accommodations and, were it not for the enormous amount of work we had to do everyday, what doubtlessly would have been periodic boredom.

    Nonetheless, the ship was magnificent in an historic way, even after the renovation. Much of the original art from the France was left in place, our office onboard was in the De Gaulle Presidential Suite, complete with it’s leather upholstered walls. And of course, just the flavor of the ship itself; the narrow passageways, outdated elevators and all of the cabin furnishings which so desperately sought to hang onto their Art Deco flavor even as that period of design faded further into Modernism. The history was all around you.

    Our work required that we be in every part of the ship for installation of frame number signs, fire and safety signs and evacuation directionals. From the depths of the engine rooms, the forward anchor deck, astern below to where the massive shafts slowly turned the two remaining screws and all the way to the top inside the funnels – we saw it all!

    Apart from countless photographs, I have two small mementos of the experience: a large “Gallerie Lafayette” sign face from one of the France’s original shops and two small watertight door signs. But mostly, I have fond memories of a small piece of history that was with us for just a moment and now lives on only in the memories of those of us who were fortunate enough to have been part of it. No doubt, those who cruise on today’s behemoths have a wonderful time, but they will not have had some of the visceral maritime experience that the France / Norway gave it’s crew and passengers. I will always be sad that someone couldn’t have stepped up to preserve such a wonderful ship for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. Her memory is strong.

  37. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    Thanks for the great memoirs George. I can’t image how may signs an Ocean liner has!

    NCL’s new ships are a million miles away from the SS Norway experience.

    One of the few modern ships with some soul is the Cunard’s Queen Mary 2.

  38. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    Thanks Monroe for your observations and compliments!

  39. brinton Says:

    Hey Malcom I was working that day on 911 but I don’t remember were I was .was it Scotland or Germany. Also do you have the itinerary were we all went to .I will appreciate to get a copy or post

  40. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    Brinton, I have now added the itinerary to the review. See:

  41. brinton Says:

    Thanks Malcolm great job.

  42. Dennis Says:

    Me and my wife were also on that “Farewell Cruise” and reading this brought back so many memories. The departure celebrations we received in every port was special, it made you realize you were part of a very special event. The incident in New York was due to the current of the river if I remember correctly. At least that is what the Captain had told us. Now I wish I had gathered up some of the “Norway Diamonds”, the term they used for the broken safety glass when we hit the pier. I also remember many hoping for really rough seas during the Atlantic crossing just so people would see the difference between an ocean liner and a modern cruise ship. We did experience a day of rough seas, but the ship handled it smoothly. Yes, after 9/11, the atmosphere changed dramatically, the events taking place in the world put a damper on the joy of the cruise. We were greeted in Scotland by heavily armed military, and we knew then just how much the world had changed . I still consider it the trip of a lifetime, and I’m so thankful we made the trip. My wife id gone now, but the memory of that cruise together will always be with me. … Dennis
    Note, we were the ones that took part in the “Anniversary Game”, and she gave the “rubber dingy” answer to a particular question which they replayed over and over during the entire cruise. LOL


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