A March 2003 trip
to Eastern Caribbean by MCJ graduate
Quote: It was our virgin cruise on a grand old maiden---the SS Norway. Although she was several decades old, she still had its luster and ambience about her. Our voyage was to the Eastern Caribbean. We went to St. Martin, St. Thomas/St. John, and Great Stirrup Cay.
We sat at a table for eight. We had four in our group, and four other people joined us (we found out later that everyone was single at the table except my partner’s parents, hence this was done on purpose by the cruise line). The table had the usual fine-dining set-up. It had the white tablecloth and numerous pieces of silverware, dishes, and glasses. The busboy was so particular about setting each piece of silverware in the right place that my partner’s father kept teasing him about it by purposely moving the silverware to the wrong places.
Both the busboy and the waiter were polite and attentive. They both made you feel so special. They were always trying to engage in conversations with you about your family and themselves.
The food served to us was splendid. In fact, it was much better than Carnival’s, even though Carnival does serve you lobster tail. They had a variety selection of entrées to choose from. My favorites were any type of a chicken, fish, or turkey entrée, and my partner always ordered a top-grade steak or filet mignon. Any of these were cooked to perfection. And when it came to desserts, you couldn’t beat their baked Alaska. It was delicate and tasty.
My partner’s father’s birthday was during our week stay on the boat. We mentioned one night that it was going to be his 72nd birthday. The night of his birthday, our waiter brought him over a wonderful cake big enough so that everyone at the table could have a piece of it. Then a group of dining room employees sang him "Happy Birthday." It was a nice and generous display of kindness from the Norway cruise line and their employees.
The last night, we ate at our dining room, the ship had their dining room employees sing us a Farwell song. Then there were even some antics going on with the employees while they were dancing. For example, our waiter balanced a vase of flowers on his head. He was also dancing with our baked Alaska that night. By the time the show was over with, tears rolled down my face. I didn’t want to leave this ship or my tablemates (whom I got to know pretty well), and more importantly, these wonderful people that served us all week. All I can say is that SS Norway might have been old (40 years), but it still had some class about it, with not only French decor (murals/artwork), but also the wonderful dining room employees whom made our dining room experience special and delightful.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 4, 2005
My partner and I thought the shuffleboard tournament was a blast. We had to play with a partner. I lost relatively soon, but my partner ended up wining with a guy she had just met during this tournament. They each received a leather bookmark, a beach ball, and a cup, I think. Although I thought that they could have given them better gifts (like a T-shirt), it was still fun to play this game.
The young woman who was the activity person setting the tournament up was a sweet soul. She was so enthusiastic. She was first "hawking" to get people to play and then boasting what kind of gifts you could win. She was also like a cheerleader. She was always cheering everyone when it was their turn to play.
All I can say is that cruise ships always have something for you to do. You need to just walk around the ship and look for things. If you don’t want to become too active, you can always take in a comedy show or Broadway show or go to one of the lounges and have a few drinks and great conversation.
Our excursion first started out as going through the hilly terrain in a jeep-like open truck with about 15 people. It was a blast just to be in the open air. Then the driver, whom we could understand (good intercom system here), gave a wonderful narration of the views we saw. These included a termite nest/hive in the trees, tropical vegetation, the native mongoose (this is why they aren’t any snakes in St. John), celebrity homes, ruins, etc. He stopped several times for us to take breathtaking pictures and shop at stores. St. John was very beautiful and well kept, unlike St. Marten.
This guide was informative, and most of all, he enjoyed what he was talking about—his native land.
After this part of the tour ended, we were then taken to the Trunk Bay Beach area. Usually there is a small fee to get in, but for us, it was included in the excursion. Along with this excursion, we were provided with a sack lunch. It consisted of an apple or orange, a sandwich, cookie, and potato chips. We ate under the pavilion that was there, and then we walked to the beach.
My partner, Sharon, rented some flippers and a mask and snorkeled there. She followed the underwater trail that was provided for the snorkelers. She said that she saw gorgeous fish, such as the parrot fish and angel fish. In addition, she said she saw purplish coral reefs. Lastly, there was a lifeguard in a kayak paddling around the snorkelers for their safety. While she was doing this, I was sunbathing on the beach. We really liked this whole tour. It was very well organized as well. Everything went like clockwork from the
time we were picked up to the time we were brought back to take another tender to St. Thomas.
We didn’t have long to spend in St. Thomas, so we just walked around and went to the stores around where the tender was to take us back to the ship. I ended up purchasing a T-shirt from Hard Rock Café, and we walked to the Del Sol store to get our free canvas bag (that changed colors) that had the Norway logo on it. From what we saw of St. Thomas, we thought it was well kept and gorgeous.
I highly recommend you take this tour. I can’t remember the price of it, but it had to be under $100 per person since I am frugal about tour prices. The tour provided us with so much information about these islands, and Trunk Beach was magnificent. Lastly, we took some great pictures here.
As I recall it, as soon as the food was all prepared and set up, we ate. There was a variety of food, but we ate chicken, cornbread, cake, fresh fruit, hamburgers, etc. You could eat it at the picnic tables or on the beach. In addition, the waiters would come to you on the beach and take your orders and bring your drinks to you. And you didn’t have to deal with exchanging money because it was billed to your room.
Sharon likes to dance, so she danced with a group of people. While she was getting her groove on to the Reggae music, I was pounding down the Miller Lite beers under my beach umbrella. Then later I waded out in the Caribbean water and Sharon took some pictures of me.
Everyone was having a great time here. The ship had its photographer snapping pictures of everyone. I know they want to make money by selling the pictures, but it is still a nice way to remember your Eastern Caribbean cruise. We ended up buying our pictures.
The shopping here was pretty reasonable too, but the quality of T-shirts at some of the shops was not high (see-through). Therefore, look very carefully at the T-shirts and other souvenirs you may purchase here.
I highly recommend you go here. You will not be disappointed with this place. It is great place to unwind and relax.
The driver tried to narrate what we saw, but it was difficult to hear him due to the intercom system. The narration was cutting out at times and at other times you just couldn’t hear him.
What we saw was poor housing, trash on the sides of the roads, wild donkeys and stray animals looking for food. Then we saw several shops and shop people (hawking for business) along our route. The driver stopped for us to take pictures and shop. We thought this part of the tour was not picturesque at all. And the ride in the bus was pretty uncomfortable because of the heat outside. But then this tour seem to get better when we took to a boat which had a second deck with a submarine-looking compartment. First, we were taken out in the Caribbean waters and had a narration by a tour guide about the locale. Then we were taken down into the second level of the boat to view the tropical fish and the diver whom feed them. Again, we had a narration, but this time it was about the different kinds of fish, sea creatures, tropical foliage, and reefs. We really liked this part of this tour because we could get pretty close to the tropical life without getting wet. We took some wonderful pictures of the diver and the tropical fish. The guide cautioned us to take our photos against the glass of this submarine-looking compartment and not to use a flash. Sure enough, she was right. When we got home, we developed the film and got pretty good pictures this way.
I can’t remember what we paid for this tour in March 2003, but I know it had to cost under $70 a piece for us to go on it, since we are pretty frugal on the land excursions. But all in all, this tour was a decent one, once you were on the Caribbean waters.
German Valley, Illinois