Posted February 10th, 2005, 06:52 PM
It's interesting to know more about her.
There's a lot to know about her!
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.)