Carolyn and I were seated at a table for two in the Versailles Restaurant on its upper level, enjoying menus not out of place in First Class. But only David gained access to that more privileged part of the ship. He had noticed stewards kicking at the bottom of the companionway door to get through and followed their example into first class.
A lecture about liners was announced in mid-voyage. John Maxtone-Graham, the author of the
book that had sparked our transatlantic crossing, would show slides and describe “the only way to cross.” I still have the program for 2 September, 1974, including the lecture announcement in the
Events of the Day at 10:30 a.m. in the theatre, with a book signing at 6 p.m. in the library
The tall urbane man with the mid-Atlantic accent spoke without notes for almost an hour, his large audience engrossed. Afterwards, I went up to query a slide. He wrote in my copy of his book: “For William Jory and his family who have helped ferret out a flaw in my slides.”
The days went by lazily and all too quickly. The children never went near the playroom again and
stuck to their self-imposed smoked salmon diets. We sat out in the sunshine and enjoyed “mid-ocean, where there is a delightful insouciance, for both Europe and America are still happily two days away.” ( From The Only Way to Cross.)
We got the children up early to see the spectacular entrance into New York. It was a cold bright
early morning in the fall. Overnight thunderstorms had cleared the air, flags were flying, Moran tugs were fussing and we could see the Chrysler Building in mid-Manhattan.
We stood, cold and huddled together, in front of the forward mast. As we nosed into Pier 88, I took a photograph of the starboard bridge wing. The master, Christian Pettre, stood at the far end with one other officer and next to him, the New York pilot with his trademark trilby. Next to them and near us was the ship’s lecturer, John Maxtone-Graham.
Luggage preceded us ashore and we posed for a happy family photograph right at the stern. David
had remembered that Maxtone-Graham had suggested to see off the rest of the family and be in no hurry to disembark. Thus it was that David was the last passenger to step ashore on that last westbound crossing.
France was the last pure transatlantic liner, QE2 and the future QM2 being dual-function ships.
And so David William Jory, aged 10, remains the final passenger of millions to step shore in New York from a pure transatlantic liner. Fame comes in many forms!
We flew home to Vancouver and I put my photographs of the voyage in my album. It crossed my
mind that Maxtone-Graham might like a copy of my photograph taken on the occasion of that early New
York arrival. I sent him an enlargement care of his publisher. He wrote back: “Dear Dr. Jory: You have no idea how much that photograph means to me. My wife Mary and I are arriving in Southampton on QE2 next month. Let us take you out to dinner.”
I wrote back: “Better than that, I can collect you off the ship. We live just 15 miles due north in the Test Valley. Come and spend Easter with us.”
So began a long friendship, initiated on board France. In every lecture he gives, my photograph,
made into a slide, is included.
RETIRED MIAMI PILOT CAPTAIN CARL NETHERLAND-BROWN
About the middle of 1979, there was much discussion at the Miami pilot station concerning the
possibility of the S/S Norway being based at Miami for cruises to the Caribbean. Several of the pilots felt that Norway was too big for the Miami ship channel. Norwegian Caribbean Line went to great expense setting up a simulator that would show that the vessel could get into Miami. Finally, the Miami pilots agreed to give it a try but were still worried.
In an attempt to see how the ship really handles, one of the pilots was sent to Oslo in order to travel back to New York and observe the characteristics of S/S Norway. I was that pilot.
After sailing from Oslo, Norway passed safely through the narrows of the fjord, paused off
Christiansand and then made her way to Southampton. The channel passing Cowes on the Isle of Wight,
makes a tight “S”-shaped turn which Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth could barely negotiate and which
Normandie never attempted. Due to the poor steering of Normandie, France was built with a rudder twice as large as her predecessor.
As Norway approached the turn at a speed of 14 knots, the wheel was put hard starboard. After a
15-second delay, the vessel responded and slowly began her turn. Once she started to swing, the began to rapidly increase the rate until, with rudder amidships, she came into the proper heading. In about five minutes, it was time to make the sharp turn to port, which was done without further concern. The
Southampton pilot, Captain Driver, then laughed and said: “Don’t worry, she is a fine handling ship. She won’t give you any trouble.” I was greatly relieved and so were the Miami pilots.
Norway has operated safely in and out of Miami for 20 years in all kind of wind and weather. She
is a great and kindly ship. We will miss her when she departs for a new life in the Far East.
(The reassurance of Captain Peter Driver, the famous Southampton pilot, was only to be expected. He knew the vessel wel,l having served as the French Line’s pilote de choix when Norway was France.)
CAPTAIN GEIR LOKOEN
I guess that Norwegians have always felt a certain pull towards the sea and its ships. At least since
the Vikings started to sail across the open waters of the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.
I can’t remember exactly when I had my first ship, a little toy ship that is, but I know for sure that I started early and that I had many over the years. They were all kinds of different ships but I remember very clearly when I started to focus mainly on passenger vessels.
I was 12 years old and I had borrowed a Reader’s Digest from a friend. This was in 1959 and the
magazine had a story about the passenger liner s/s France under construction in St-Nazaire. I fell in love with that ship instantly and for some time I tried to read everything written up about her. I believe that I made a promise to myself that one day I should be on board that ship.
To my mother’s disappointment, I went to sea when I was 15 years old. That was in 1962, the very
same year that France entered service on the North Atlantic. Many years would pass by before I saw her “live” for the first time but I had read everything about her and she had remained firmly in my mind all along.
Then it was 1977. I was a chief officer aboard a bulk carrier that was going to Rouen up the Seine. As we passed Le Havre, I saw France for the first time. I believe I was standing on the bridge wing and looked at her for hours—at least that was how it felt— and I don’t think I uttered a word. Everything about France was beautiful but most eye-catching of all were her two funnels. They were so large and tall, and stand for me like something solid that holds the ship up and carries her through all dangers, like two guardian angels. They even have wings.
But no matter how much I wanted to work on board her, I could never do so as a Norwegian
citizen. But my chance came in 1979 when Kloster Cruises bought her and converted her as a cruise liner. At that time, I was working shore side in Norway but that very suddenly came to an end. I confronted my wife with the fact that my new goal was to become a captain of my dream ship. I have a very understanding wife and back to sea I went.
I got a First Officer’s job with Kloster Cruises and after six months on board M/S Skyward, I joined France in March of 1980. She had been renamed Norway shortly before that and her new flag was the Norwegian flag.
It is very difficult to describe how I felt the first time I stepped on board. I believe only those people who have been on board a passenger ship during a major conversion at a shipyard can understand this feeling. However, the very first thing I did after coming on board was to go to the Sun Deck and look up at the funnels. I was not disappointed. They were really large and tall and I felt very safe.
To make a long story short, I had my dream fulfilled and feel very lucky and privileged to have
been able to spend more than 15 years aboard that fantastic ship. I am one of the very few navigators who has held all ranks on board her and I am also the captain who has spent the longest time as Norway’s master, namely 9 years in that capacity.
I have met a lot of people on board that incredible ship and many of them have become close
friends, both passengers and crew. Norway has given me a lot and I sincerely hope that I have also managed to give her a little bit back. She deserves it and I wish her, her crew and passengers “Fair Winds and Following Sea” in the future.
Director, Oslo Ship Museum
One moment stands out in the midst of the vessel’s Norwegian festivities: As the lights dimmed
and the curtain rose in the Saga Theatre for Sea Legs, I pinched my arm. “this is a moment to remember, something you could not have imagined in your wildest dreams when France entered service. Here you are, in the world’s largest theatre afloat, on the world’s largest passenger ship, flying the Norwegian flag and carrying the name Norway!”
An episode during the press conference at the Museum. I gave an overview of the history of
Norwegian Cruises but most questions naturally focussed on the new ship. A French journalist asked:
“Why did you have to name the France into the Norway?”
Although unprepared, I think I came up with the right answer.
“First, it was a French sine qua non. Second, how could we Norwegians honor the French better
than by renaming France into Norway?” Silence, then applause from the audience.
French sentiment surfaced again when the Museum held an exhibition on Norwegain shipping with
a large model of Norway as showpiece. Francois Mitterand came to Norway and the Norwegian/French
Chamber of Commerce held a reception at the museum. People from the Surete searched everywhere and
found nothing but did suggest that we move the model to a less prominent location during the reception. “It may not mean anything to the President but just in case...” We moved the model.
With all due respect to NCL, no Norwegian passenger ship has enjoyed a similar universal appeal
to the Norwegian public in general since the heyday of the NAL’s Stavangerfjord, Oslofjord and
Bergensfjord back in the late 1950’s and early 60’s. A Norwegian tour operator and the Norwegian
Broadcasting Corporation made a joint stroke of genius when Scandinavians filled Norway on annual swing music theme cruises 4 or five years ago. I cannot imagine anything more square-headed than flying from Norway to Miami for Scandinavian dance band music in Caribbean waters but chacun a son gout. From what I have heard, nobody was happier than Captain Haakon Gangdal, who obviously enjoyed a national breakaway from steel bands and American country and western.
JANET TOWNSEND DYRDAL
It was September 5th, 1983, and I was joining the Norway in mid-cruise as the Hostess. From the
plane, I gazed out the window and caught my first glimpse of this majestic lady anchored serenely just off St Thomas. She was a beautiful sight to behold. But I didn’t really appreciate her until my tender ride out to the ship aboard Little Norway I. I studied her sleek, elegant lines and elongated bow, such a commanding presence against a cloudless sky. She was breath-taking, awesome and massive, like no other ship I had ever seen before.
The adventures, excitement, challenges and friendships that resulted from the years that I served as Hostess, Shore Excursion Manager and Assistant Cruise Director could fill pages. But one experience stands out above all others for it changed my life forever.
Just 48 hours after stepping on board, I was watching the cruise staff show. I was so focussed (I would have to participate the following week) that I never noticed someone approach and stand directly on my right. A deep voice interrupted my concentration.
“Hi, you must be the new cruise staff member on board.” I turned to see a tall, handsome figure dressed in white looking down at me.
“Yes, I’m Janet Townsend.” “Well, welcome on board,” he replied. “ My name is Tor Dyrdal.”
Our relationship blossomed, through the typical ups-and-downs to the serious stage. Two and half
years later, Tor presented me with an engagement ring. Now, only one special occasion remained to be
choreographed. Where would it take place? On board Norway, of course!
On November 1st, 1986, while the ship was tied up in Miami, the Club Internationale was
transformed into a wedding chapel. Two hundred family, friends and fellow NCL personnel gathered for our wedding. A reception followed in Checkers Cabaret and at 4:30, we set sail along with 57 of our wedding guests who had decided to join us on our “honeymoon cruise.” That evening, the bride and groom hosted a lavish wedding dinner in the Oslo Conference Room.
What a magical day! From that chance meeting three years earlier in the North Cape Lounge, I was
now Janet Townsend Dyrdal.
To all who have walked Norway’s decks or been privileged to serve on board, she is a legend, an
elegant lady, sleek and graceful. But for me, her significance goes much further. She touched the very depths of my soul in that she played a pivotal role in my life, charting my entire future. For that reason, she will always hold a very special place in my heart. I will forever be “in love’ with the legendary S/S Norway!
DR ALLEN HYMAN
In 1964, my wife Valerie and I crossed eastbound on board France to take up a year’s residency at
Oxford University. In the ship’s hold were all our household possessions and we treated ourselves to a passage in first class.
On the first night, we entered the dining room and were seated at our assigned table. The captain
presented us with a daunting menu, so elaborate that we were momentarily at a loss as what or even how to order.
Then I noticed a passenger at an adjoining table who, when asked to order, waved aside the menu
and produced from his pocket a sheaf of scrupulously printed 5 x 7 cards.
“This,” he said, handing the captain the top one, “is what we would like for dinner tonight. And
here” —the second card was proffered—“ is what we would like for lunch and dinner tomorrow. And the
rest are all in order, if you would be so kind.”
My dilemma was instantly resolved. Summoning the captain, I suggested: “We’ll have what
they’re having, please.” The captain nodded. There followed throughout that memorable crossing a succession of Lucullan dishes, each one more lavish and richer than the last. By the last night, my wife confessed that she was feeling a little queasy and would just like a poached egg for dinner. Needless to say, it arrived at the table under a great domed silver dish, several exquisitely poached eggs blanketed with sauce hollandaise, a dish as impeccably prepared and presented as every other course we had enjoyed in that glorious dining room.
After taking one look at her “poached egg,” poor Valerie was hastily obliged to abandon
the table for her cabin.