Miami Herald story on Norwegian Cruise Line†

Quite a while back, the Miami Herald published an interesting article about how the pioneer of modern cruising became and underdog and now a leader again.†

The first thing that really caught my attention was the article’s top-picture, an image of the absolutely prime of naval engineering, the SS Norway in Miami, a photo taken back in February 1984 whilst she was still the pride of Norwegian shipping under a Norwegian flag. I find it utterly tragic that politicians of most political parties since that time, have all actively tried destroying bit by bit the last remains of a proud seafaring nation. †Even today, nearly 700 seamen on board the car- and passenger vessels of Color Line is still left at the brink of being replaced due to Government’s legalized social dumping.†

Click the screendrop to go to article in Miami Herald.†

The article is for me really interesting, and tells the story about the time when Kloster Sr demanded five terminals to be built in Miami, for his ship, within about half a year.†

One of th things I do find off though, is the claim that because of the SS Norway’s start-up break downs, totalling US$15 million in addition to the renovation cost from the SS France conversion, Norwegian Cruise Line was not able to put out a new ship before the Seaward in 1988. I’m not claiming that this isn’t a correct assumption, but this is the first time I’ve heard this. I tend to think that NCL taking over two other cruiselines was more of a factor, in addition to the cost of also running Royal Viking Line. Also, as the article states, the continous change of presidents wasn’t great for the continuity of the product.†

One forgotten fact was the near take-over by Carnival… I remember the talks, the rumors and the fright we all feared back in the 90’s, if this was to happen. I also remember a mock-up picture of the SS Norway in Carinval colors circulating on board - an image I might still have somewhere in my collection. Thank heaven, Star Cruises came in and bought NCL instead. By the time Star Cruises came in as a full owner, I had already left NCL, and ventured on to work for an airline, followed by a return to cruiseships by starting with Crystal Cruises.

Norwegian Cruise Line is a major part of my career. I’m truly thankful, and proud of having worked with them for so many years of my working career. They have indeed a great product, now more fine-tuned than ever - but, there is two things with NCL that annoys me to the bone: exterior-design of their ships have never been their strongest sides, and the handling of the end of my beloved SS Norway. †

Seaward" was a modern - and somehow beautiful cruise ship when she was launched, and having worked on her both as the†“Seaward” and “Norwegian Sea", I got a profound love for her finer details. Believe me, she was not the best ships, but she had a lot of great details all throughout. Her bow for example, is truly spectacular, with a great over-hang. For some reason beyond rational thinking, I also keep thinking of the dedicated air-filling station on the afterdeck, where we used to refill firefighters breathing†apparatus. Most ships I’ve been working on, had this in a location not optimal, and sometimes in a locker not suitable. On the Seaward, the room was there from day one, and was special made for it’s purpose. I guess it’s always (or most of the time), down to the nitty-gritty details.†

But then, Seaward was followed by Dreamward (Norwegian Dream) and Windward (Norwegian Wind)…†ships I only sailed on really briefly, and never felt any attachment to. Roughly said, they were blocks of neatly stacked†steel plates. I know those ships were extremely popular with many, and in Germany, there is even a Norwegian Dream fan-club!†

The really crowning moments of ugly engineering came with the invent of the Pride of America and the Norwegian Epic. I still remember the uproar in web-forums, and the very noisy discussions around their exterior looks. Not only that, when the Epic set sail, it was also the official end of truly masterpieces of naval engineering. To be really talking straight from my heart, it was like replacing a Rembrandt with a K-Mart painting.†

But despite ugly exterior appearances of their ships, NCL have proved themselves as having extremely popular and groundbreaking ships. Who knows, maybe some day in the future, I might even see myself lounging in a sunbed on the upper decks of one of their ships… (just need to get my six pack back… ).†

Comments on my bLOG-entry? I’d love to hear from you!†

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