Welcome to Cruise Critic! If you'd like to participate on our forums by joining in the conversation, please Register Now! Be sure to visit our FAMOUS Roll Call forums, where you can meet other cruisers sailing with you and share a tour or shore excursion and SAVE MONEY!
What Ever Happened To........???A place to discuss the glorious past of cruising...the ships, the people, the cruise lines, the ports that bring back those wonderful memories.
NCL sold her to Festival Cruises (marketed as First European in the US) in 1995. They renamed her BOLERO and operated her until they went under in 2004. Subsequently she was laid-up at Gibraltar. She has since been renamed ORIENT QUEEN and was reported sold to Lebanese interests, though her registered managers are now an Austrian firm in Cyprus. She has left Gibraltar but I have not heard any news of her since... I'm going to dig around and see what I can find out as she seems to have just "dropped off the radar".
I went on the Starward in 1988 for my honeymoon. It was the first cruise I had ever been on and the ship was the biggest thing I had ever seen. I couldn't even find my way around it. I don't think there is ever anything like your first cruise. I've been on a bunch since then and of course get even more lost.
Life's too short for wasting, for ifs and might have beens,
Life's too short for wondering if you could have lived your dreams.
She's a very historically significant vessel, as some claim that she was the very first purpose-built Caribbean cruise ship, ever. Personally I attribute that to her sister SKYWARD, because I consider STARWARD in her original form to have been a cruise ferry (and indeed her designer, Tage Wandborg, describes her as "a cruise/ferry hybrid") and thus ineligible for the title.
Most passengers never knew it, but in her very early years (from her entry into service in 1968 through the mid-1970s), STARWARD had a car deck. She was an evolution of the very first NCL ship, SUNWARD of 1966, which was originally built by Knut Kloster (whose family controlled NCL until their mid-1990s financial crisis) for a cruise ferry service from Britain to Spain and Portugal, a venture called Klosters Sunward Ferries. This did not work out and Kloster teamed up with Ted Arison (who later left and founded Carnival) to form Norwegian Caribbean Line. SUNWARD ran a 7-night cruise/ferry service from Miami to various Caribbean ports, carrying both cruise passengers and, on her car deck, trailers with cargo bound for the islands. The larger STARWARD was indeed built for the Carribbean, but as she too had a car deck, I do not consider her to truly be the first purpose-built Caribbean cruise ship. SKYWARD was built without the car deck, and by the mid-1970s NCL was out of the business of carrying trailers, but the design of the ships clearly carries on the legacy of ferries. Modern cruise ships, in their design, owe far more to ferries than to the ocean liners of yore, and ships like SUNWARD, STARWARD, and SKYWARD are direct links between ferries and cruise ships. (The design history of ferries and cruise ships continues to be intertwined to this day, to the point where it is almost impossible to say whether the cruise ship evolved from the cruise ferry or vice versa - it's almost a "chicken/egg" dilemma with each one borrowing from the other with 40 years of cross-incubation.)
The mamouth Caribbean/Florida-based cruise industry we have today, what I call the Golden Age of Cruising, was birthed by these really wonderful early ships that came on line in the late 60's and early 70's. They were wonderful, beautiful, dream-like ships the likes of which we had not seen before.
I have been cruising since I was a lad, starting in 1964 or 65, and I still have a warmer place in my heart for these early ships than I do for the fabulous ships we sail in today.
It is great fun to come here, read about them and share experiences about them. Thanks,
My first cruise was on the Starward in 1981. I remember thinking that the cruise was great but I probably wouldn't want to do that again. This October I will go on cruise No. 25 on the Explorer of the Seas. I guess cruising just gets in your blood.
One thing I remember about the Starward is that there were no TV's in the cabins, and the Starward had a large movie theater (which I believe was later converted into cabins). The cruise was in September, and it had to go about fifty miles off course to avoid a hurricane.
I just found this thread and had to add my two cents. My first cruise was on the Skyward in 1969 and I don't remember too much about it. I do remember the dining room with a nice window by my table and my cabin with twin beds and a window (not porthole) between them. I really thought it was something then. I wonder what the tonage was? Fun to compare to the Voyager class today.
Thanks for the STARWARD history Doug. I just came across this thread and it's quite timely! Sailed on her for our honeymoon 17 years to the day! It has been our only cruise up until next month when we take the kids to Alaska. Great site and "boatloads" of information.
It seems that she has indeed been sold to a Lebanese firm, as her destination after leaving Gibraltar was Beirut, where she is now laid up. At this time it is not known what her future holds.
Just to add a little bit more to what Doug has so expertly reported : The Orient Queen, former Starward, is supposedly operated by Merhi Cruises out of Lebanon and is also supposed to be cruising between Beirut and Dubai via the Suez Canal.
Take care and be safe
__________________ Total days onboard:
Holland America Line: 1,163
Royal Caribbean International: 83
Princess Cruise Line: 31
Cunard Line: 15
Carnival Cruise Line: 10
STARWARD was our first cruise and even though the ship was old, small, and run-down, we loved every minute of it --she was able to do a more exotic itinerary due to her small size (st. bart's!). It seems that most of her former passengers have fond memories. I remember we were so low in the ship that the waves splashed on our porthole! Our room was no small that two people could not get dressed at the same time....sounds awful, but you know what? She will have a special place in our hearts always...
Wow, I love hearing about the Starward. When I was 16 in 1976, I went to work on the Starward for the summer as a deckhand. I do remember driving cars off in Haiti. We unloaded other cargo as well in this port. She was a great ship. I use to think it was such a huge ship but compared to the ships of today, its doesn't have enough space to hold the crew of today's ships. Thanks for all the posts on her, I am not sure I would like to see today pictures of her today as alot of these older ships don't get the money they need to keep them looking good. Hope the old great Starward is doing well.
Our first cruise was on the Starward in 1983 for our 25th Wedding Anniversary. We paid $900.00 per person for a small room with a porthole.
In Oct. we go on the Mariner of the Seas in a balcony room for $845.00 per person. We loved the Starward but no comparison between the two ships.
Cruising not only gets better and better but, to us, is the greatest value in the travel industry; have 27th and 28th booked. We are addicted.
For images of the Starward in her original (NCL) and later (Bolero, Orient Queen) incarnations, check out this postcard site...it has up-to-date pictures.
Also, for Skyward, her names have been Shangri-La World, Asean (or Asian) World, Fantasy World, and now Leisure World. She is operated out of Singapore by New Century Cruises and she is one of the oldest passenger ships still afloat.
I too am visiting this thread for the first time; & I have so much enjoyed hearing you all talk about your early experiences w/ NCL. My first cruise (at the age of 17) was on the Starward in 1969. My second was a year later on Skyward. Coming from landlocked TN, I thought the idea of a "floating hotel" was a dream come true. We had a suite, which by today's standards would be a tad smaller than your average Carnival cabin. And how cool were those bamboo basket chairs hanging from the ceiling by the pool? Years later (1986) I was sailing on Carnival's Jubilee when we were docked beside the Starward in Cozumel. I was amazed at how terribly small she looked next to the Jubilee. And in today's world, she wouldn't even warrant a second glance. But she was special indeed!
Becky (Naples via Memphis, TN)
everything from Carnival, RCCL, NCL, Sitmar, Princess, HAL, American Hawaii, Cunard, Royal Viking, Orient, Crystal, Oceania & Radisson-Seven Seas