|Its all about ships
NORWAY PHOTO ESSAY
The SS NORWAY began life as the FRANCE. Built in 1962, the FRANCE
was designed to be a showcase of French design and technology. At 1035 feet,
she was the longest ocean liner ever built - - a record she held until the QUEEN
MARY 2 went into service in 2004. Between 1962 and 1974, the ship did 377
transatlantic crossings. However, the coming of the jet airliner made it financially
difficult to offer this service and when the French government ended its operating
subsidy, the ship was withdrawn from service and laid-up.
At first, the ship was sold to Akram Ojjeh, a Middle Eastern businessman, who
had tentative plans to turn the ship into a hotel and/or casino. However, nothing
came of these schemes.
Then, in 1979, NCL's founder Knut Kloster, purchased the ship for $18 million
in order to convert her into a cruise ship. This was a bold move because the
common wisdom in the cruise industry was that a cruise ship should be small
(about 20,000 gross tons) in order to navigate the small, shallow ports of the
Caribbean and because there was not enough of a market to fill a larger ship week
after week. At over 60,000 gross tons and with a passenger capacity of
approximately 2,000, the FRANCE was altogether too big.
However, what Kloster realized was that a large ship had more space for
entertainment facilities and activities to attract more passengers. Furthermore,
there would be economies of scale in a larger ship. This visionary thinking has
been validated by experience and today the industry is dominated by large ships.
NCL had the FRANCE towed to Bremerhaven, Germany where she underwent a
$65 million transformation. Two of her four propellers were removed, reducing
her top speed from 33 knots to 25 knots. Five thrusters were added to make the
ship more maneuverable. Passenger capacity was increased to 2,181 from 2,040
and, to economize, the crew was decreased from 1,100 to 800. The air
conditioning system was upgraded and swimming pools were redone and a new
one added. Various other changes were made throughout the ship to make her
more in keeping with cruising than the more formal atmosphere of a transatlantic
crossing. Also, large tenders resembling military landing craft were hung on the
bow for use in shuttling passengers to and from shore.
After paying calls in Oslo, Southampton and in New York, the ship, now
renamed the NORWAY, took up residence in Miami. From there, she did
weekly cruises to the Bahamas, St. Marteen and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin
Islands. The new NORWAY became quite popular.
Throughout her career as NORWAY, there were repairs and refits. In 1980,
diesel engines were added to power her auxiliary machinery. But, the most
ambitious of these was in 1990 when 135 cabins were added by placing two
decks atop the superstructure around the forward funnel and one deck around the
aft funnel. This in creased passenger capacity to 2,565 and her gross tonnage to
At the turn of the century, plans were announced to transfer the ship to Star
Cruises which would operate her as a gambling ship in Asia. A farewell
transatlantic crossing quickly sold out. In fact, it was so popular that it was
decided to do it again the next year. NORWAY would stay with NCL
throughout her service career.
Her career finally came to an end when there was an explosion in the boiler room
in May 2003 that eventually killed eight crew members and injured several others.
At first, the plan was to repair the NORWAY and she was towed to Germany for
that purpose. However, in the end this proved not to be a viable option.
In 2005, NORWAY was towed to Malaysia where she was sold to scrap
dealers. However, plans to break up the ship, now called the BLUE LADY, in
India were put on hold because of legal proceedings about asbestos and other
hazardous materials allegedly in the ship. The ban on the demolition was lifted in
2007 and the ship was broken up at Alang, India.
Norway's bow was designed to
cut through the rough seas of
the North Atlantic.
Norway in New York in 1997.
Letters spelling Norway replaced the
word France during the 1980
transformation. However, the sign
returned to the original name for two
voyages in the 1980s.
A striking contrast in design, towards the end of her career, Norway
with a Royal Caribbean Vision-class ship.
Above: Norway in Miami in
Below: Norway's stern.
Norway in 1992
Seven years after the France went
into service, Cunard's Queen
Elizabeth 2 entered service. The last
two transatlantic liners of the ocean
liner era would often pass and salute
each other in mid-ocean. The special
relationship continued on an informal
basis after France became the
Norway and it was always a special
occasion when the two ships would
meet during QE2's occasional
Upper left: Norway with QE2 in the
foreground. Upper right: Norway at
anchor from QE2's Boat Deck. Left:
Norway seen from over QE's bow.
Right: Norway passing QE2 at sea.
Below: QE2 and Norway in 2000.