I’ve mentioned before that my family loves cruises (see my trip report): The magic of staring at the waves at night, the slow pace that is in contrast to the frenetic rat race of this world. Sure, cruising in many ways has become mass market/cookie cutter, but you can still capture the magic with just a little bit of effort. And the best part of non-exclusivity (a word?) is that the prices are affordable for a regular family.
I was looking through my closet and thinking one of these days I will finally organize it and throw away all the junk. It will happen, I know it! Anyway, I came across this map of a voyage on S/S Norway with a special stamp and a signature from a captain of the ship:
I remember paying $20 to acquire it. The year was 2002, and my husband and I set out on our 7-night Eastern Caribbean voyage. We only paid $350 per person all-in, but you should have seen the size of our stateroom. You could not swing a cat in it if you tried. It had bunk beds and a tiny bathroom made for a midget.
S/S Norway was launched in 1960 as S/S France, the last ocean liner designed exclusively for crossing the Atlantic. It garnered a sterling reputation for fine service and French cuisine. Naturally, table wine was included in the fare.
The Jet Age made it difficult for S/S France to turn a profit and in 1979 it was sold to NCl for $18 million, the scrap value of the metal. Several retrofits later, it was still in service in 2000’s, one of industry’s oldest cruise ships. We were told that Alfred Hitchcock was a guest once, as well as some other celebrities. Though, I’m certain they had a bigger stateroom.
Interestingly, S/S Norway was slated to be re-deployed to Asia in September of 2001 but the terrorist attack of 9/11 shook the cruise industry and prompted a return to Miami. And that is how yours truly ended up on the ship. It really did feel like you were in a different era, the time when only the wealthy could afford this sort of experience. To this day, we consider it to be our most memorable cruise.
The ship itself definitely wasn’t the fanciest, more like in a state of an elegant decay. But that’s what made it unique. I imagined Alfred Hitchcock walking around the ship and coming up with a plot of his next movie. It was easy to picture European families crossing the Atlantic to start a new life in the United States.
You can see this beautiful YouTube documentary on S/S Norway with video footage from the sixties, back when cruising was “once in a lifetime” affair. It brought tears to my eyes, I can’t believe it’s been 15 years since we went on this voyage. I can’t believe a beautiful ship like S/S Norway was scrapped for metal somewhere in India.
I hope you give this type of vacation a go. Sure, most ships these days look very similar. But the magic is still there…
OK, maybe not the best photo to make my point!
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.