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      #2507 - 09/14/00 10:04 AM (

a few months ago we booked a cruise on the ole norway out of miami, sailing to st. martin, st. thomas(st. john) and ncl's private island. we are florida residents and got a really, really great rate, averaging approx. $55 per day for my husband and i and didn't expect much. we set sail on august 26, just after debby had gone thru the caribbean.
the ship - remember this ship is at least 40yoa but has gone thru renovations that has kept it as updated as possible without losing its original ambiance. the dining rooms are beautiful, but just as noisy and bustling as any other cruise ship. pool areas adequate, we preferred the pool on the sun deck which was less crowded, both pools are saltwater. the sports bar is great, large, up to date, and you can even get draft beer! club internationale is definitely from the past. it has the old time beauty of the ships first years at sea, you can almost see fred and ginger flying around the dance floor. both these bars are on the international deck where the promenade is. the shops were very nice, but we usually don't purchase much on ship anyway. we loved the promenade being glass enclosed great for people watching before supper and having a few drinks. we didn't have any problems with the layout of the ship as some people did, just get the stair/elevator system figured out and you'll be ok. all in all we thought the ship was lovely.
our stateroom - now, as i said we didn't pay much and didn't expect much. we didn't get much. it was really a hoot.after our initial shock we took a self tour around the ship. there were alot of elderly people on the ship and apparently from florida where they got the same rate we got. now the statements were heard coming from some rooms could have been taken various ways but when you hear "oh my god harry, it's so small!" you know she was talking about the size of the room only. it took a little getting used to but we adapted, at night i just told my husband i had to go up to my room. we have been on 9 other cruises on various cruise lines including, princess and holland america, i can tell you that by far our room steward was the best we had ever had, he was wonderful. very unintrusive, but completely efficient. we had brought some beer along, as we always do, he found it and whenever we came back to the room in late afternoon some would always be iced down for us. as a matter of fact, it think the staff on the norway as a whole was probably the best we've ever seen on any ship.
dining rooms/food - we're not much of breakfast eaters so we always took breakfast at the great outdoor restaurant(gor). adequate, but always a ton of fresh fruit and pastries. yes, it can get crowded, but just take your food and go inside to eat, not a big deal. lunch, we usually took at the leeward dining room, excellent, excellent, excellent, food and service. my husband would request a table for two, always got it and it was quiet, could order as much or as little as possible. we always left a tip at lunch, i'll explain why. first night for supper we were in the windward dining room, it is beautiful, but again bustling and noisy. we had requested a table for two, i know we sound anti-social but it was the first time we had ever gone anywhere without our son now 16yoa, and we wanted to be alone, anyway we didn't get it. don't get me wrong we seated with a lovely couple, but we wanted to be alone. the food for supper was good, just good. le bistro is where we ate the remaining suppers. now tell me where you can get escargot and filet mignon every night for supper, a table for two by the piano, an attentive waiter, and a barmaid that is waiting with drinks when you arrive. first class service, first class food. here you tip(at the ships request not mandatory, and we saw people not leave tips) every night. we always left more that what was recommended and this is why we tipped for lunch in the dining room. if you go on this ship, try the bistro you won't reqret it.
ports - as i've said this was our ninth cruise, st thomas, been there/done that to death. got off in st. john rented a car and did their beaches. beautiful and peaceful. ncl private island, we live in florida, i see crowded beaches all the time, been there/done that. now st. martin, what a jewel. we had in advance arranged to rent a car thru marius at st. louis rental, he said he would be at the dock, with our name on a board, right. we shmoozed the tour director into letting us get off with the tour group and sure enough there was marius. he is wonderful, beautiful car, great rates and a very personable, hard working guy. we are going to st. martin over thanksgiving and have already rented thru him. if you need a car email or call him, very accommodating. this was our 1st time to st martin, as i said we are going over thanksgiving and wanted to see flamingo where we are staying, loved the facility and simpson area. then took off for orient, what a beautiful beach, area and day myhusband and i where able to share. we loved the island so much we bought a week at the pelican! can't wait to see it at thanksgiving. when we fried enough we headed back to town and there was marius waiting for us just like he said he would be. loved, loved, loved the friendly island.
embarkation/debarkation - i should have mentioned this earlier - we arrived at miami port at approx. 12:30pm there were no crowds and embarkation probably took 10 minutes, set up your on shipboard credit as soon as the credit office opens if you wait the lines are long(on the international deck). debarkation - this was the longest we have ever waited to get off a ship, it was probably 10:30am before we actually left the ship, but ncl does not require you exit your room at the crack of dawn. you are welcome to stay in your room up until debarkation and many people were.
final thoughts - we loved the ship even if it didn't hit any port and would not hesitate to sail on her again as a matter of fact we're trying to for october, if i can get cheap rates again. just remember the norway is not one of the new mega ships and go in with an open mind, i'm sure you won't be disappointed.

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