SS Norway Sails Final Journey to Scrap Hub

May 9, 2006

We've heard from Internet reports that Norway, the beloved 1960's classic ocean liner that last flew the flag of Norwegian Cruise Line, is on its final journey -- a trip from Port Klang, Malaysia, to Alang, India, a destination otherwise known as one of the world's cruise ship "scrapper" hubs.

An e-mail requesting confirmation from the folks at Star Cruises, parent of NCL and current owner of the ship, did not net an immediate response.

It was just over a year ago that Cruise Critic covered an announcement by NCL on Norway's fate. The company said then that it would transfer the ship back to its parent noting that Star Cruises "intends to utilize the ship in a new venture, details of which will remain undisclosed for the time being."

Indeed, they remained a secret for over a year until Maritime Matters, a Web site that focuses on ship history, reported last Friday that Norway had set off from Port Klang for Alang, which it says is a shanty town located on the Gulf of Cambay, "a place few tourists will ever see. For those who love ships, it is both hellish and holy, for Alang contains a 10-mile stretch of beach where these magnificent creations go to die." (For more on a writer's fascinating tale of a trip to Alang, click here.)

Cruise Critic contributor Douglas Newman writes that rumors of Norway's demise have been abuzz ever since (if not before) a tragic accident occurred on May 25, 2003. Norway experienced a boiler explosion while in Miami that killed several crew members and injured others. Following the explosion, she was brought to the Lloyd Werft shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany where it was expected that it would be repaired. However, it was found that it would not be cost-effective to repair the ship, and finally in April 2005 Norway was bought to Port Klang, home port of NCL's parent company Star Cruises, as they deliberated her fate.

After Star determined that there were no qualified buyers other than scrap brokers, it was put up for sale to be scrapped. Despite some controversy over the large amount of asbestos used in her construction and the resulting danger to ship-breaking workers, she has finally been sold and is expected to arrive at Alang around June 1.

The legendary ship was built in 1961 for Le Havre-Southampton-New York service as France, the French national flagship -- the largest ocean liner built after World War II and the third-largest ocean liner in the world at the time after the original Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. After Queen Mary became a static attraction in 1967 and Seawise University (the former Queen Elizabeth) sank in Hong Kong harbor in 1972, France became the largest ocean liner in the world.

In 1974, the French government withdrew the ship's operating subsidies and she was laid up at the quai d'oubli, or "quay of the forgotten," at Le Havre. There she remained until in 1979 she was sold to Knut Kloster, owner of then Norwegian Caribbean Lines (now Norwegian Cruise Line). She entered service on seven night cruises from Miami to the Caribbean in 1980 and quickly became the pre-eminent Caribbean cruise ship. As the only very large ship in the Caribbean, she became the prototype for modern mega-ships. Norway lost its title as largest passenger ship in the world to Sovereign of the Seas in 1988; then regained it after having new decks added in 1990. She lost it again to Sun Princess in 1995 but continued as the longest passenger ship in the world until Queen Mary 2 entered service in 2004.