I think it is hard for anyone who appreciates ships not to have a soft spot for Norway and
What makes Norway so special? That is a hard thing to pin down. I think the first thing you would
have to do is consider her heritage. After all, she was/is France, the last of her type ever built. Which leads us to the next point, she was built for the North Atlantic and one must remember that shipbuilding back then was done basically without computer technology. There was no computerized answer for what elements lay out there on the Western Ocean. The result is that wonderfully strong, graceful hull that is Norway today! To look up at that hull with its rows of portholes interspersed with an occasional sideport, one can only marvel and rejoice. To be sure, several heavily riveted strakes of shell plating only enforce the sense of strength and security.
Once you step inside that wonderful thick shell plating, the sensation of a ship that is alive hits you; there is the low hum of machinery, the hiss of air conditioning exiting the ductwork and the general chaos that envelops any ship just before sailing, whether it is the likes of Norway or a containership. On board Norway, there is a feeling of being on board the real thing. Some of the sensations that I enjoyed the most were wandering through the ship in the wee hours of the morning. Standing at one end of Viking Deck and enjoying the magnificent sight of the passageway that runs a good portion of the ship’s length. Another pleasant memory is sitting in the Club Internationale, martini in hand, relishing the grandeur of the room as I watch the large mirror over the bar tremble pleasantly. Perhaps the most fond is one that I have of any ship I sail on, be it for work or pleasure, is that of crawling into bed, dead tired, and listening to the creaks and low rumble that are the trademarks of a great ship as she steams onward through the night.
That about sums it all up! It’s too bad you can’t make the last trip but it sure must be nice to have
so many commitments that you must enjoy immensely. I hope you can use some of my ramblings. It is
always a pleasure to hear from you. Hopefully, we shall meet one of these days. Sincerely,
(Sutton is an officer who serves on board a containership.)
I just read the special Norway issue of the Ocean Liner Gazette and enjoyed it very much. My wife
and I sailed on the Norway in 1983 and 1988 and are sad that she will no longer sail in nearby waters.
We were also sad when NCL added the two upper decks and messed up the grand ship’s sleek
profile; I swore that I would not sail on her again. However, that vow is soon to be broken. Since a
scheduling conflict prevents us from participating with OLM in the transatlantic farewell crossing in
September, we have joined up with a couple of friends and booked a western Caribbean cruise in May as our personal farewell outing on Norway. By the way, to illustrate what has happened to cruise fares
over the years, I checked our records from the 1983 cruise, and it turns out that it will cost a bit less for our upcoming week aboard Norway than did our 1983 sailing—and for a cabin four grades higher!
But I’m getting off the track. Obviously, I am too late to have the following included in your
special issue but I wanted to share it with you anyway.
Our 1983 Norway cruise found us anchored at St. Thomas on November 15th. Also at anchor was
Queen Elizabeth 2. Our captain, Ragnar Nilsen, came on the public address to tell all of us passengers what an historic occasion this was: The first time that these two great liners were in port together. With great joy, Captain Nilsen proceeded to regale us, in his delightful Norwegian accent, with lots of statistics about the “grand” QE2, e.g. “The QE2 is quite long at 965 feet but of course our Norway is 1035 feet.” For every statistic quoted for the Cunarder, Norway was always just a little bit bigger and better! The captain’s remarks gave a new, more literal meaning to the phrase “oneupmanship.”
We were scheduled to depart St. Thomas at 4:30 p.m., the Queen at 5:00. As we got underway,
we pulled fairly close across the still-anchored QE2’s bow, and nd the Queen responded in kind.This precipitated a rather prolonged honking contest between the two
ships—I believe Norway had the “last word”—with such sonic reverberations that we thought there would
surely not be a window pane left intact in all of Charlotte Amalie. A truly memorable experience on a great ship, one not likely to be duplicated on any of today’s comparatively soul-less megaships.
I am very grateful for receipt of your Gazette today. And that is not concerning my contribution but
that your special issue commemorated an historic ocean liner and famous cruise ship, s/s Norway and also
your prediction for a not-so-grandiose future for this beautiful lady. Among the testimonials in praise of France/Norway, the words of Captain Geir Lokoen and Bard Kolltveit were highly appreciated and I agree with Bard in that the appeal to the Norwegian public has been absolutely great, not least of which the Bergen calls. Solvar and I are very happy that we used the opportunity on that occasion and with Crossing & Cruising in hand, explored the ship during an unforgettable transatlantic crossing.
Your Gazette will be kept among my collection of your books. And many thanks for your kind
recommendation for a return visit to New York, preferably some time before completion of the Guggenheim
This is not the greatest piece. I am not one for looking back much, for better or for worse, and my
memory seems to be slipping.
I remember Norway arriving on her maiden call in Oslo in May 1980. She was escorted by a flotilla
of private sailing and motor craft, and she was met by thousands of people who were waiting in line to tour the ship. Not only were people ashore struck by the size and elegance of the liner, I remember the Caribbean crew on board being equally awestruck by their reception.
For hours, the citizens of Oslo marched through this magnificent ship. To my knowledge, no
cruise line has ever opened up a ship in this manner before or since. But shipowner Knut Kloster wanted to share his dream with the Norwegian people.
Earlier that same morning, Norway had anchored in Son, a small village some 30 miles down the
fjord from Oslo to pick up VIP guests and friends who would join for the remaining triumphant miles up to the capital. I spent summers in Son when I was growing up and I remember how the ship towered over
everything I had previously thought of as large.
Later that same day, Norway’s sovereign, King Olav V, and the royal family, visited the ship. I still
have a photograph of the owner’s wife, Trine Kloster, kneeling to greet the king.
That night, Norway was a big party. It was the place to be, bubbling with Norwegian celebrities
from television, theatre and movies.
I also remember those incredibly cold days in Bremerhaven while France was being transformed
into Norway. And I remember the enthusiasm of the executives, officers and crew. They were all
tremendously proud of the ship. There were tears in everybody’s eyes as Norway finally maneuvered out the narrow channel from the yard to open sea.
My little task at the time was to take care of some 400 members of the press who were on board,
from most European countries and the United States. Twenty-odd years later, Norway’s interiors look a
little tired and she is top-heavy with all the suites that were added. But the lines of her body are as sleek and curvaceous as ever.
I owe this lady a lot. She opened up a whole new industry and subsequently a whole new career for
(Mr. Mathisen headed a public relations firm handling Norway’s debut and is now the publisher of Cruise Industry News.)
Mae and I took four memorable Caribbean cruises on the France from New York. Not only was
this a more convenient departure point but in those days, we could invite friends to the ship for bon voyage parties.