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19 hours ago, CGTNORMANDIE said:


We were onboard Norway in 1993 for a fantastic cruise.  We loved the changes that had been made since she was the SS France.  We had one of the newer Sky Suites with floor to ceiling glass.  NCL knew how to treat the suite pax.  We got a call from room service as soon as we entered our cabin.  The man on the phone told us we could order anything we wanted anytime.  Every afternoon around 3:00 there would be a delivery of giant shrimp cocktails...all you had to do was call.  We had concierge service and they sent out written invitations to our cabin cocktail party before dinner.  Room service supplied the ice, glasses and hors d’ouevres.  I supplied the Champagne.  To top all of this off we were upgraded to First Class for the flight down to Miami and the return flight to Boston!  

I got to spend the week with John Maxtone Graham and his wife, Mary.  JMG was the greatest ocean liner historian, author and lecturer.  

 

The Norway was a class act back in the day.  
 

 

Totally agree on Norway I cruised her 7 times starting in 1985 and also had that new  suite in 1991 for our honeymoon, but did not remember service as anything special, they added that extra deck so they could say they were the world’s largest cruise ship again after Sovereign of the seas started sailing.

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CGTNORMANDIE, Marco, ryndam, shipgeeks:  What wonderful memories!  Thanks so very much for posting them!

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On 9/5/2020 at 1:43 PM, ryndam said:

Loved the dual bathroom arrangements, even in the "cheap" cabins: one room with the toilet & a sink; the other room with the shower/tub & a sink.

 

Don't recall that arrangement in my bottom deck outside cabin with a porthole (often covered at night with a deadlight).  Small cabin and a bathroom that had sink, shower, and toilet.  

 

One of the odd memories I have of the Oceanic that in addition to my usual Cabin Steward, there was an older gentleman who was my "Night Steward".  Never experienced that before or since on any ship and I recall I was surprised with being in the "cheap digs" to have such service available.  

 

Food--glorious food--at dinner is another Oceanic memory.  Multi-course dinners that always had a pasta course.  I did gain weight on that cruise!

 

And, I must also mention playing in the Italian Hall was Romy Formica and the Favolosi.  

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20 hours ago, CGTNORMANDIE said:

I got to spend the week with John Maxtone Graham and his wife, Mary.  JMG was the greatest ocean liner historian, author and lecturer.  

 

You met "ocean liner historian royalty"!  I have two of his books which are among my favorites.

 

I enjoy Bill Miller's books and his contributions to Power Ships of the SSHSA.  Twice, for reasons that I don't recall--probably related to ordering a book from him--I spoke with the gentleman and we shared a couple of stores via a long distance phone call.  I'd enjoy meeting him at some point in the future.  

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33 minutes ago, rkacruiser said:

 

You met "ocean liner historian royalty"!  I have two of his books which are among my favorites.

 

I enjoy Bill Miller's books and his contributions to Power Ships of the SSHSA.  Twice, for reasons that I don't recall--probably related to ordering a book from him--I spoke with the gentleman and we shared a couple of stores via a long distance phone call.  I'd enjoy meeting him at some point in the future.  


I have a great story about meeting JMG.  I had all his books and had seen him on TV many times.  John Maxtone Graham was and is considered the Dean of The College of Ocean Liner History.  I wrote a great tribute to him when he passed away several years ago.  If any of you have not read “The Only Way To Cross” I suggest you get a copy and be prepared to be hugely entertained.  
 

We were onboard the Norway in 1993.  We were in a sky suite as previously described.  As we were getting ready for the first formal night in the legendary Chambord dining room, the former First Class dining room, lined with elm paneling and a grand staircase that added to the romance of the room.  As we were getting ready in our cabin I had the TV tuned in to a John Maxtone Graham documentary from The Only Way To Cross.  As that segment ended JMG and Mary MG were dressed in their formals and commenting that they were now prepared to go down to dinner.  Now this was part of the video that was playing on the ship’s TV.  We were ready to go down to dinner and shut the TV off and exited the cabin.  As we were about to descend the stairs I looked up to the floor above and there was JMG and Mary standing at the head of the stairs dressed in their formals!  Of course I did a triple take...LOL.  For a moment I thought that we were a part of the video we had just been watching.  I waited for them to come down and introduced myself.  I explained that I was experiencing deja vu as we had just seen them on TV.  We all had a big laugh.  I told JMG that I had every book he had written and I was an historian.  He said something about liner enthusiasts and I said to him...”who else do you know that owns all the volumes of Kludas?”  (Arnold Kludas is the famous ocean liner biographer.  His books, about 11 volumes, catalog all the passenger liners of the world).  We all had a good laugh.  So that was how we met JMG.  I kept running into John during the cruise and we attended his lectures.  He was a great raconteur and a perfect gentleman.  His liner lectures were the best I ever heard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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16 hours ago, rkacruiser said:

 

Don't recall that arrangement in my bottom deck outside cabin with a porthole (often covered at night with a deadlight).  Small cabin and a bathroom that had sink, shower, and toilet.  

 

I scanned a couple of pages from the deck plans. All of the semi-suites on Belvedere Deck had the dual bathrooms. Most of the cabins on Restaurant, Atlantic and Oceanic decks also had the dual bathrooms. We always sailed in this type of room, so I guess I never realized there were many cabins with only a single bathroom.

 

I love the classic deck plans where every fixture, every piece of furniture, every closet, etc. was carefully illustrated. None of this detail shows up on any contemporary ships' schematic deck plans anymore.

 

Rob

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Ryndam,  I remember those deck plans very well.  It was important to use them carefully when choosing a cabin (on any ship), because beds were not movable.  Whether one wanted a double bed, or two twins, consulting the symbols was essential.

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Normandie, That is a great story about meeting John Maxtone Graham and his wife.

In 1995 I was given his book "Crossing & Cruising".  It represented the fact that we would be sailing on Norway several months later.  I remember reading every word, and noting things that were mentioned, including furniture in the cabin.

While aboard, we occasionally saw other ships off in the distance.  We consulted the chart of ships of the world, folded inside the book's cover, to identify those other ships.

 

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5 hours ago, ryndam said:

We always sailed in this type of room, so I guess I never realized there were many cabins with only a single bathroom.

 

I love the classic deck plans where every fixture, every piece of furniture, every closet, etc. was carefully illustrated. None of this detail shows up on any contemporary ships' schematic deck plans anymore.

 

I see my cabin on Oceanic Deck.  Can't read its number, however.  It is the first outside cabin immediately aft of the elevator on the starboard side.  It was a small "stateroom".  

 

The deck plans from the past surely did offer details that are almost always lacking now.  Photos of the cabins were sometimes included as well and that helped me to make a selection.  With one exception, every stateroom that I have ever booked was requested specifically by me based upon studying the ship's deck plan.  That one exception was when I embarked the Amsterdam in Italy for the last segment of her 2007 World Cruise.  Segment guests could not request specific staterooms.  (And, I think that has still been the case in subsequent years.)  That time, I did receive a one cabin upgrade however.  The upgrade went from Dolphin Deck to Main Deck.  "Big deal".  Now, I get to hear the patter of large feet walking around on the Lower Promenade Deck above me.  

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20 hours ago, CGTNORMANDIE said:

If any of you have not read “The Only Way To Cross” I suggest you get a copy and be prepared to be hugely entertained.  

 

It's an excellent book!  "Liners to the Sun" is the other book of his that I have.

 

Great story about how you met Mr. Maxtone Graham!

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34 minutes ago, shipgeeks said:

I was given his book "Crossing & Cruising".

 

I recall that book and I am wondering if I don't have it somewhere as well as the other two that I remember.  

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I find it amazing when I look back and think of what things were like in 1972 when JMG first published The Only Way To Cross.  JMG was lamenting the loss of all the great liners at that time.  He likened it to a good friend getting hit by a car while crossing the street.  The list of ships leaving service seemed endless.  Little did we know that a resurgence of ocean liners was on the horizon.  Knute Kloster set the wheel in motion when he bought the SS France to become the NCL Norway.  That one move set in motion the craze for bigger cruise ships.  The Norway became the trail blazer for the cruise lines around the world.  Norway had all the hallmarks of what we see today in the modern cruise giants.  It is amazing how some ships go unnoticed and others become so well loved.  The Norway always stood out and was well loved by those who sailed on her.  

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The next topic up for discussion would be the rise and fall of Regency Cruises.  This is an interesting story that entails what can go wrong when a great product gets taken over by an unscrupulous operator.  
 

More to come! 

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8 hours ago, CGTNORMANDIE said:

More to come! 

 

I'll get my popcorn ready.  Looking forward to what's to come!

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Thank you RK,

The story of Regency Cruises is an interesting one.  The line was started by two partners who had been with Paquet Cruises which was a French company.  The concept behind Regency was to take older ships that had been famous on the transatlantic run and turn them into cruise ships.  The main idea was to offer a cruise at a reasonable price that featured a First Class experience recalling the glamour and quality of the transatlantic era.    
 

I was able to sail with Regency in 1988 on board the Regent Sea.  She was originally the iconic Gripsholm of the Swedish American Line.  She had been built in Italy in 1957-58.  I was attracted to the ship because she had been an early dual purpose ship built for longer Cruises.  The interior of the ship was classic.  The old First Class cabins were really beautiful.  They were laid out in blond mahogany with lots of closet space and special shelves for shoes.  Each stateroom had a large bathroom with a full bathtub and there was an extra sink in the connecting hallway.  These were large cabins and extremely comfortable.  The passenger reception area was decked out with fresh flowers.  There were fresh flowers everywhere throughout the ship.  The ship fit like an old pair of your favorite Cole Haan slippers.  The public rooms were real classics.  The forward observation room was the entire width of the ship decorated in a cool green with lots of plant.  That room was one of the nicest I had ever seen and very enjoyable to sit in. There was a smaller room behind that was called The Living Room.  It was a paneled room with a giant screen TV and long couches.  They would play VHS movies at night...again very comfortable.  To top this off the cruise began in Montego Bay, Jamaica.  We were able to spend a few days in Mo Bay.  We had a hotel room that opened onto a garden that bordered on the sea.  
 

The dining room was the star of this show.  The walls were lined with banquets...very romantic.  The catering was supplied by Apollo and it was some of the best I ever had.  The chefs were French as was the Maitre D’.  Our waiter was from Spain and had worked In some of the great hotels.  He was excellent.  The culinary effort was Olympic.  Every plate was art...the menus were exemplary.  The quality of the food was second to none...prime rib, steaks, fish, etc.  including Beluga caviar.  Every night there would be a themed Midnight Buffet.  One night would be Italian, another night there would be NY Deli and so on.  It was some of the best I had ever had.  The Grand Buffet at the end of the cruise featured an entire roast pig!  
 

Regent Cruises was very successful from the get go.  So successful that the owner of the ship took over the operation about 4 years later.  Antonios Lalikas was the villain in this drama.  He took over Regent Cruises and drove it into the ground.  There is no telling where the company could have gone if the original partners had been allowed to continue operations.  Their original product was one of the best I ever experienced.  

 

 

 

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We also sailed on the "Regent Sea".  Once in the Caribbean, and I think that was our first partial transit of the Panama Canal, and once in Alaska, with the 5 day land add-on.  Both trips were more reasonably priced then other lines, while offering comparable quality.  Sorry to see them fold.  If memory serves me correctly, the ship had no inside cabins.

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When Regency Cruises went bankrupt the vessel was laid up in Tampa, Florida. New owners expected to convert the vessel into a casino ship sailing from New York. The ship was renamed the Sea. Work began on gutting the ship when New York City political officials decided to change the rules for gambling ships – making the operation from the Big Apple almost impossible. All work stopped immediately on the Sea and little was done to protect the outside elements from entering the ship. Laid up for years and ridden with mold and water damage, the ship could only be sold for scrap.
 
On the tow to Indian Breakers, the ship pulled off shore of the African Coast to avoid a storm. While riding out the storm, the ship was ransacked by locals taking anything they could.   It is believed that the opening of hull doors to remove the stolen articles compromised the seaworthiness of the hull. After resuming the voyage - on July 6th the vessel began to list to one side in rough seas. The tug captain was seeking the closest port to have the listing ship repaired but the Sea was denied entry into Algon Bay because of her threat of sinking.
 
On July 12, 2001, the Sea began to list further and then eventually rolled on her side and sank ending her 44 year career.
 
 

sea2001.jpg

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Ah, the beautiful Gripsholm/Regent Sea/Sea.  We long had hopes of sailing on her, but it was not to be.

We flew to Tampa in 2001 for a cruise on Noordam.  As we approached the airport, Mr. Shipgeek spotted Sea tied up somewhere below.  We couldn't see her once we were on land, but hoped that we'd pass her as we left the port.

Noordam was to depart at 5pm, but that got later and later.  Finally, at 10pm we felt the movement, hurriedly left the dinner table, and went outside.  When we passed Sea she was completely dark, but we could see her elegant lines.  My journal notes that I had a lump in my throat.

Was she also the Navarino?  If so, she graces the cover of "Monarchs of the Sea".

Thank you for the words and pictures of her.

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On 9/15/2020 at 7:20 PM, CGTNORMANDIE said:

Regent Cruises was very successful from the get go.  So successful that the owner of the ship took over the operation about 4 years later.  Antonios Lalikas was the villain in this drama.  He took over Regent Cruises and drove it into the ground.

 

Why did he do so?  Why did the original owners sell?  Is there a "back story" to what happened?  

 

 

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15 minutes ago, rkacruiser said:

 

Why did he do so?  Why did the original owners sell?  Is there a "back story" to what happened?  

 

 

Hi RK,

I suspect that the original founders were the victims of a short term lease on the ship.  I remember that Lalikas forced them out and took over.  I’m sure there was a good story behind the scenes.

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Thank you Marco, Shipgeeks and Ryndam for you pics!  Indeed the Regent Sea, ex Gripsholm and ex Navarino was a beautiful ship.  The ship had one feature that I found extremely enjoyable.  The gym had a beautiful Swedish steam sauna made of teak wood.  The sauna was open 24 hours per day!  You could enjoy an incredible sauna experience after a night of complete debauchery...even at 2:00 AM.  Needless to say I was witness to some interesting participants in those wee hours...lol.  
 

I also remember a wonderful experience.  It was my habit to take a walk after dinner and stare at the sea as the ship sailed along.  The Regent Sea had a complete Promenade Deck that wrapped all the way around the ship and was partially enclosed on both sides.  I was in the enclosed deck looking out through an open window and a man came along and stood by me also looking out.  I could tell right away that we were both lovers of the sea and enjoyed the simple pleasure of watching the sea pass by as the ship moved along.  This man then lit a large cigar...something else that I enjoyed on rare occasions.  I commented to him how nice and peaceful it was just to watch the ocean.  He readily agreed and went on to tell me of his experiences.  I found out he was Cuban and, as a young man, had driven trucks to South America during WW II.  He told me he now lived in Miami having escaped Castro’s Cuba.  I then commented on how nice his cigar smelled.  It really was a nice cigar...my nose never lies.  He then offered me one of those great cigars.  I thanked him profusely as I had forgotten to buy a couple when we were in Jamaica, another good place to buy cigars.  He introduced himself as Neilo and then told me he was the horse trainer for the Partegas family.  Partegas cigars are famous.  He told me Senior Partegas gives him boxes of these cigars.  Needless to say, Neilo and I became good friends for the duration of that cruise.

 

 

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5 hours ago, rkacruiser said:

Great story, CGTNORMANDIE!


Thanks RK.  Funny thing...I don’t smoke cigars on a regular basis but I won’t pass up a good opportunity either.  The last cigar I smoked was in October 2017.  We were onboard MSC Divina and had stopped in Jamaica.  I got off and walked over to a group of concession stands and found some great cigars with a few select Cubans among them.  I bought two and got back onboard.  The Divina has a beautiful smoking lounge beside the casino.  I went in and smoked my cigar while sitting in a very comfortable chair and while admiring the old world motif and faux wood paneling.  It was so relaxing that I actually dozed off and did not awaken until another cigar aficionado came into the room to smoke his cigar...lol.  It’s a shame that beautiful room goes unused.  I have written to MSC management and suggested they turn the room into an exclusive “high roller room” as an  extension of the casino next door.  The room would have a craps table and tables for Texas Holdem poker as well as machines with 10 dollar minimums.  It already has a beautiful bar.  Of course there would be a minimum entry fee to keep the room from overcrowding.  😁

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19 hours ago, CGTNORMANDIE said:

  Funny thing...I don’t smoke cigars on a regular basis but I won’t pass up a good opportunity either

 

I am not a smoker, but have had many friends who were:  cigarettes, pipes, and cigars.  I don't object to the aroma of pipe tobacco or of cigars.  The aroma of some smelled good.  

 

I assume you enjoyed the Cubans that you bought in Jamaica before you disembarked.  😉

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2 hours ago, rkacruiser said:

 

I assume you enjoyed the Cubans that you bought in Jamaica before you disembarked.  😉


You have that right!  I don’t know of any other line that offers such a commodious smoking room as the Fantasia Class ships of MSC.  That room is just perfect for relaxing.

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