As this was my third voyage aboard the SS Norway (01/27/02), I thought I would provide a more recent assessment of my trip. My immediate family joined me, as did eight other family members and friends. All of us booked our cruise in early October; most securing a $404pp rate on a category I stateroom or $649pp for a category AF suite -kids paying only $144 in port charges. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, most members of my family felt they got a lot for the money. A few others, including myself, felt some of the changes recently initiated by NCL aboard the SS Norway (only) were disappointing. But all in all, everyone came away having had a positive experience, including me. NCL, in general, did a great job refurbishing the vessel this past fall. There is new carpet through out the ship, new upholstery and new bedding, including new matresses in most staterooms. The hallways have new paint (although poorly done) and most bathrooms have new plumbing fixtures. The ship's appearance has changed very little from my last voyage in June 2001. If anything, it seems more polished.Staterooms: Even with a total remodel, I strongly urge you to do a little research before booking a cruise aboard the Norway, as this ship isn't for everyone. It's old and at times, difficult to navigate. The rooms on the lower level floors are the smallest I've seen on any ship. At one time, this ship had both first class and second class rooms. Generally, the staterooms (both inside and outside cabins) on the lower levels of the ship are smaller than those you will find on the upper decks. Many inside cabins on some of the higher decks are double the size of outside cabins (with one small porthole) on the lower floors, and will cost you less money and be more comfortable. Our stateroom this trip was K054, located on the Sky Deck. It had a small sitting area, floor to ceiling windows, a very comfortable king-size bed, lots of closet and dresser space, a refrigerator, large make-up vanity and a bathroom complete with hair dryer and bathtub. Although our suite in June 2001 on Pool Deck (P086) was much larger, our cabin was comfortable and a good size. Cuisine:If there was a disappointing aspect to our cruise, it was the cuisine. Lobster was eliminated from the menu, and no gala buffet was scheduled. The food, although good, wasn't up to par, when compared to other NCL ships. The Freestyle concept is not a part of the Norway; there were two formal dinner seatings; breakfast and lunch were open seating. The buffet lines at breakfast and lunch were long, but the food quality and choice was surprisingly good.Entertainment:With the exception of the Casino, the entertainment was minimal at best. There were a couple of musical shows and two comedy acts. As most passengers on this sailing were over 60, much of the on-board activities were geard towards them. We didn't have a problem with this, as we came to scuba dive and relax. But many of our family members remarked about being bored.Conclusion:As I stated earlier, I have sailed on the Norway two other times, and had a great time, but remember, older ships like the Norway, solicit mixed reviews and I recommend approaching a ship like this with realistic expectations. As more and more cruise lines introduce new ships to the Caribbean and beyond, the many older ships in a cruise line's fleet often will offer deeply discounted rates to attract the first time cruiser or bargain hunter. This is the case with the Norway as well as many other older ships. As long as you know what you are in for, you can have a great experience. Don't forget the old saying that "you get what you pay for." If you keep that in mind, I guarantee you'll have a good time.
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