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Copyright © 1995-2002
Linda Coffman

S/S Norway ~ Norwegian Cruise Line
January 27, 2002

by CruzNut

Five experienced cruisers sailed on the Norway January 27, 2002 at 4:30 (only half hour late) - AND again at 10 PM. We were given/heard several reasons for this. A man had heart attack and had to be Mede-vacced; two passengers were in a fight and the ship had to return to territorial waters; and/or two of the pier workers didn't get off in time. In each case we lost time and they used up a great deal of fuel.

We had seen on the various Message Boards about the vibrations on the lower, aft decks. That is true re the higher decks, too, specifically Sky deck... perhaps, because they were trying to make up the lost time and were racing.

Monday we tried the Great Outdoor buffet for breakfast. It was the only time we did because the food was awful. Everything was precooked and kept on steam tables. There was no hot cereal or eggs made to order as on other ships. The dining room for breakfast was somewhat better except for the cold toast and the hard egg yolks where they should have been soft.

I tried the first trivia contest and came in fourth... nevertheless everyone who attended got a deck of playing cards. We all entered other contests and the "prizes" were 25 cent coolies for the top winners, 10 cent leather bookmarks (again for everyone). What is the purpose of a contest if everyone wins, particularly when they're cheap prizes? My last cruise in October, I won very attractive ball point pens, a ceramic mug, umbrella, and a leather & brass key chain.

Everything that's been written about the Windward dining room is true as to the noise factor. Additionally, 30 minutes into the meal, they turned off most of the lights. Turned off NOT dimmed... startles you every time. The food was average to mediocre to awful - ham knuckle bone found in crab/lobster bisque, hair found (twice in one day) in soup. Most things were covered up with sauces. And, they only had about 3 to 4 entrees per dinner. Only good things were the special desserts (Bananas Foster, Cherries Jubilee and Baked Alaska) and cookies.

For lunch at the outdoor cafe, more steamed table fare plus hot dogs and very well done hamburgers on stale buns. The dining room had dinner type meals at lunch, again, heavy on the sauces.

Monday evening no vibration because we were almost becalmed in the water until well into Tuesday. Seems there was a "minor" problem with the engine which took 24 hours to repair. (We heard they had this same kind of problem on the cruise the week before.) The Captain announced because of this "minor" problem we would not be stopping at St. Maarten but we would have more time in St. John (5 hours vs 1 hour) and they acted like they were doing us a big favor. Heaven forbid that they would cancel their private island where they save on the port taxes.

They supposedly spent millions this past fall on refurbishing. Couldn't tell where; certainly not on the engines nor in the public rooms. International Deck is where most of the activities take place. They have a slate floor throughout which has been there forever. You can see in a very few places where it once had been shiny but now is all worn away. At the Sky Deck pool, they have rubberized mats which are not lying flat so it's easy to trip on them. The elevators were antiques - supposedly held 12 people. Most that could cram in were 8 - and the lights showing which deck you were at were mostly burned out so you had to guess if you were at the right deck. It ended up that we took an elevator no matter which way it was going to be sure of getting on.

The one decent bar/dance floor/band is the Sports Bar and they choose to have the rip-off art auctions there morning, afternoon and evenings. The day we sailed they had the AFC/NFC playoff games on the 30 plus screens in this room, but they turned them all off for the fire drill. If you wanted to watch sports there at other times, you couldn't hear because of the auctioneer.

The crew and officers were something else. On other ships they're very friendly - on this one nothing... not a hello, a smile - nothing. (The only exception was our waiter who went out of his way to make things pleasant for us.) If you were walking along on the deck and a crew member was coming at a 90 degree angle to you, they invariably walked in front of you with no apologies. Just downright rude.

As you probably know, you have to take tenders into the ports and supposedly they would run every 30 minutes. It was more like an hour. For the private island, we had tickets in the 330s and the Social Director announced that they would load numbers 1 through 350. When we got to the tender deck, an officious junior crew member decided he would only load from 1 to 325 and the rest of the 25 people had to line up at the side - just like a bunch of prisoners. Finally a more senior person came along and let us board. The "private" island (also shared by Celebrity and RCCL) hasn't changed at all. If you want to see the Straw Market, you still have to walk over jagged stones and pebbles... seems like they could have put in boardwalks by now (Princess did). You line up for food and if you don't guess the right line, you miss the pizza - and you have to line up again. A new addition were the sand fleas - still itching from their bites.

Of the 9 bar bills I signed for only 2 were totaled, so when I bought one of the guys and myself a beer on the beach, I thought the two cost $4. Nope, it was two times $4 plus tip for $9.20!

All in all this was the worse cruise I've taken in over 30+ cruises (six of which had been on NCL and this was the fourth on the Norway). They have let everything go to pot - the ship, the motors, the public rooms, the cabins, the morale and friendliness of the crew and officers. They just don't care anymore. We were all anxious, for the first time in many years of cruising, to get off this ship and never sail with NCL again. The only exception in passengers were the first time cruisers who had nothing to compare this cruise to. Fortunately I met a couple who had planned on taking a Christmas cruise on the Norway, where, wonder of wonders, they would get two portholes! After I explained what you get with other lines, I'm pretty sure they'll not be going with NCL at all.

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