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page 33:
Fire on board the S/S Ocean Pearl from French Paquet cruiseline in 1992
with thoughts on freedom of press in France.


S/S France in 1989 (with Eddy Barclay, César, Jacques Martin, Isabelle Aubret, Henri Salvador, Uderzo, Walter Spangero, the CoCo Girls, Pierre Vassiliu, Uderzo, etc...)


The ClubMed II and it's stupid traditions.
I am the official photographer of the inaugural cruise from The Havre (in France, where she was built) to New Caledonia. Djibouti, Australie, Japan, etc.. on the way for advertising). Three long boring months.

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Fire onboard the Ocean Princess in 1992 and the so-called “freedom of press” in France.



The chief engineer had warned Paquet 4 months beforehand, for all the good it did!


The luxury cruiseliner Ocean Pearl has enchanted Asia, a 13-day cruise from Singapore to Bangkok passing through the mysterious Bali.

There is a festive air this evening for tonight is the welcome cocktail party.

The engine room is aflame, the crew tries to put it out by bringing in water through the chimney.

The second in command, Jeremy Kingston, at the foot of the chimney.

The thick black smoke invaded the entire ship, happily following the ventilation shafts. Apart from the emergency lamps, there is no light.

Head mechanic David Harrison sweating in the machine control room.

The alarm is sounded. The thick black smoke has already filled up the stairs and hallways on the lower decks. The passengers, most of them donning their lifejackets, have been evacuated onto the external decks.

One passenger fainted during the wait. Everyone fears that the next announcement will be the signal, “Abandon ship”.

The lifeboats are lowered to deck level, poised for evacuation. Everyone is waiting anxiously. The smoke thickens. Everyone is aware that fire is the greatest danger to a ship at sea, especially if the fire reaches below the waterline, if it propagates through the ventilation shafts, or if it reaches the bunker fuel.

L’alarme est sonnée. Une fumée noire et épaisse a déjà envahi les escaliers et les couloirs des ponts inférieurs

The crew goes back to smiling, even if their uniforms are no longer quite immaculate. Soon they will need to go back to work and take decisions after the events, prepare dinner, clean, and above all re-establish electricity, water, and air conditioning.

The second in command, Jeremy Kingston, and the chief engineer David Harrison head to the bar. Announcements come out one after the other: the fire has been put out but no one is allowed back in. The smoke will take time to dissipate because the ship’s ventilation system has been compromised.

Your humble photographer and narrator Christian Fournier

Nicole making sure her favourite stuffed animal will make it through the fire.

The photographer Christian Fournier and one of the crew’s courageous Filipinos, Rony, in front of a charred door.

Chief engineer David Harrison contemplates the damage in the machine room. Some weeks before, the beginning of fires had already been put out. For the 370 passengers on board, it was the start of their dream vacation: a 13-day cruise from Singapore to Bangkok via Bali. Pieces of the machine, made of steel, had melted, such was the intensity of the heat. If the bunker fuel had been reached, that would have been the end of the ship.

Around 7pm, the passengers were allowed to go back inside. The smoke had cleared, but the smell of burning remained. Electricity was back on but still no water or ventilation. A cold buffet was served at the Orchidée restaurant and the orchestra played in the Marco Polo room. A hot night lay ahead for the passengers: the AC wouldn’t be fixed until the following evening. Most of the passengers would sleep under the stars on deck with their lifejackets behind them.


One cook found a cooler place to pass the night: in the vegetable fridge.

The distress signals had been received. Thank goodness we’ve moved on from the time of the Titanic! The following morning, another cruiseship, the Sea Princess, came around to welcome our passengers on board.

Tugboats came to pull the Ocean Pearl all the way to Singapore, for the ship could no longer propel itself, its engines having melted. The final danger, drifting away on the whims of the ocean current, had finally passed. At the bottom, you can make out the booster generators installed 15 days before to help compensate for the engine’s former deficiencies.
FIRE ONBOARD THE CRUISESHIP OCEAN PEARL

Text and Photos : Christian Fournier

This reportage (text and photos) was bought immediately by the Press Agency Sipa Press in Paris, after faxing them text and photos from Jakarta. Original photos were sent by DHL two hours later. The deal was all done. Sipa returned them 5 days later as unsaleable. This is an indecent procedure in the press world, since the news was then too "cold " to resale. They offered no explanation, no compensation. Two years later, I learned from someone on the French political scene that my reportage showed up on the French prime minister's desk, Jacques Chirac, and was vetoed "NO" because Paquet, the cruise line, was "persuasive enough......." So much for the French freedom of press.......

Everyone going on a cruise has to go through a boat drill. These are international maritime regulations and this exercise is compulsory for all passengers. Even if you manage to skip it, you can be sure that the safety officer on board will have a meeting with you to explain you the emergency procedures. But what about it? The crew is trained with at least one crew drill per week, the ship herself go through a complete inspection every three months by the U.S. coast guards or their equivalent in foreign countries. Why should each passenger at the beginning of the cruise, put on his bright orange life jacket and assemble on the deck areas? What is to be feared? Accidents at sea are rare, but can happen.
The following is a true story:
12th February 1992, 3:30 P.M.: the luxury passenger liner Ocean Pearl from Ocean Cruise Line / Croisières Paquet is sailing the Java Sea. The weather is beautiful and the sea is calm. For the 370 passengers on board, this is the first day of a dream vacation: a 13 day cruise from Singapore to Bangkok. The first activity of the morning was the passenger drill and the excitement is building up for the welcome gala party this evening.
Suddenly, the voice of the British Staff Captain Jeremy Kingston breaks a leisurely started afternoon; The sound of his out of breath and highly stressed voice will be imprinted in many minds:
"This announcement is for the crew only. Crew alert, crew alert. A-team to engine room, A-team to engine room."
The alarm bells start ringing all over the ship. A black smoke has already invaded the lower stairs and corridors. Some passengers are hurrying out to the outside decks. There is no panic but they look distressed. The well trained crew and staff run to their assigned muster station in less than five minutes. Shortly afterwards, the passengers are asked to go to the decks with their life jackets. Inside the ship, the smoke is getting thicker. All power is off except for the small emergency lights. Inside this dark and smoky labyrinth, the slow passengers are shown their way out to the open air. Once the passengers are safe on the decks and counted, the remainder of the crew is ordered to go to their lifeboat stations. There is no panic, just some worried faces staring at the black smoke pouring out of amidships.
Life jackets from the deck containers are distributed to those who could not get to their cabin. All lifeboats are lowered and prepared to abandon ship. Everyone waits anxiously. A lady still wears her hair curlers, having just run out of the beauty salon. A beautician still holds a comb in her hand.
Below decks, engineers and firemen are fighting in the darkness, against the fire, the heat and the smoke. They all know that fire is the greatest hazard facing any ship at sea: especially, if it starts below the water line or propagate through the air conditioning vents or reach the fuel reserves.
The pursers have carried all the passports and documents in bags to the deck, the casino manager carries all the casino funds in her shorts and looks pregnant. Two ships (small cargos) are converging towards the Ocean Pearl: the distress signals have worked. The Titanic times are long gone!
The smoke escaping from upper deck is impressive. The lifeboats are ready for embarkation. Everyone fears to hear the "abandon ship" signal. Nobody knows exactly what is happening inside. The Cruise Director Joe Raad, walking on upper decks, megaphone in hand, explains that the P.A. is out of order and that the "abandon ship" preparations are just a precautionary measure. Later, the Captain himself Pierre Delery go around the decks, megaphone in hand, and announces that the fire is under control; Meanwhile, everyone must stay calmly outside.
Engineers and fire fighters, covered with black soot, soon appear on decks with hoses and start pouring water in and around the funnel in order to cool down the engines below. The two rescue ships sail away after their reassuring silent watch: the situation is under control.
The telephones and P.A. system are turned back on. More announcements are made: the fire is out but everyone must stay out on the decks. The smoke needs time to dissipate from the bowels of the ship since the ventilation is out of order. Everyone now relaxes on decks: the worse is passed. Drinks and towels are being distributed around, many crew go back to their regular duties: there is food to prepare, decisions to make, a lot of cleaning to do and most of all, power, A/C and water to restore.
There are no casualties (just one gentleman fainted: anxiety and/or heat ?). Nothing on board in the passenger and crew areas has been damaged: the fire has been confined to the engine room where it started. By 7:00 P.M., people are allowed back inside. The smoke is gone but the smell of burning remains. Only electricity has been restored: there is still no water and no air circulation but the engineers are working hard on it.
A cold buffet is served in the Orchid dining room and the orchestra plays in the Marco Polo lounge. A hot night awaits everyone on board: the A/C is not operational. Most of the passengers will spend the night outside on the decks. Their fate is being decided over the phone: the ship can not move any more on her own. Finally, the verdict arrives in the middle of the night: all passengers and their luggage, as well as five crew escorts will be evacuated at 5:00 A.M. on board the Sea Princess, another cruiseship luckily sailing a similar route.
The passengers are being woken up at 4:00 A.M. and asked to pack. A very early bird breakfast is served. It is still early in the morning but already hot everywhere in the ship. Unfortunately, the meeting with the Sea Princess is postponed to 10:00 A.M. because of delicate navigation at night for the rescuers. A long wait starts. The shock is over, questions now arise: what is left of the vacation? Pearl Cruises is paying for the flight home, refunding the entire cost of the cruise/tour vacation and offering any future Pearl cruise at half price.
Evacuation starts at 10:30 A.M., using the Sea Princess tenders from one ship to the other. It will take two hours to transfer everybody. The Ocean Pearl will be towed by a tugboat back to Singapore where she will be repaired.
There has been no panic at any time. The passengers who had done the drill the same morning, knew how to get to their lifeboat station, saving precious time. The highly trained crew were there to help the passengers and make sure that the evacuation to the deck was going smoothly. Throughout this incident, all ship's personnel performed extremely well. But most of all, everybody is grateful to the crew, engineers and to those who helped to fight the fire, to have been able to avoid a catastrophe: the intense heat in the engine room could have melted the walls of the fuel reserves.





SS France in 1989 (with Eddy Barclay, César, Jacques Martin, Isabelle Aubret, Henri Salvador, Uderzo, Walter Spangero, les CoCo Girls, Pierre Vassiliu, etc...)

From time to time the S/S Norway was rechristened under its original name of S/S France for French cruiseship companies trying to revive some of the old glory ...

Le SS Norway was rechristened SS France for this cruise.

Henri Salvador and his wife.

Pierre Vassiliu et sa femme.

Uderzo
Albert Uderzo, born Alberto Aleandro Uderzo on April 25, 1927 in Fismes, is a French cartoonist and comic script writer of Italian origin. Along with René Goscinny, he is one of the creators of the beloved series Astérix.

César
César Baldaccini (January 1, 1921, Marseille – December 6, 1998, Paris), known simply as César, is a French sculptor from Marseille. He was part of the Nouveau Réalisme movement which began in 1960. He is also notably the creator of the César du cinéma trophy, which is awarded to the best in French cinema.

Jacques Martin et Isabelle Aubret
Jacques Martin (June 22, 1933, Lyon – September 14, 2007, Biarritz) was a French actor, TV and radio host and television producer. His father played seven instruments and he would pass on this love for music and cooking: his son would become a well-known chef on French TV. After a first debut in theatre in 1949, he produced and presented many entertainment shows between 1970 and 1990 including Le Petit Rapporteur, L’École des fans and Dimanche Martin.

Isabelle Aubret (née Thérèse Coquerelle, July 27 1938 in Lille) is a French singer. In 1952 she won the French Gymnatics Championship and in 1962 she won Eurovision for France with her song Un premier amour.

Henri Salvador
Henri Salvador (July 18, 1917, Cayenne, French Guiana - February 13, 2008, Paris) was a French Caribbean singer and comedian. A composer and guitarist, he started out playing in French jazz bands. His long career started off in the 1930s and took a new turn when he decided to become a singer in 1948. Appreciated by many audiences, many of his songs remain popular today: Syracuse; Love sickness ; Le Loup, la Biche, et le Chevalier (Also called “une chanson douce”); The lion sleeps tonight ; Dans mon Île ; Le travail c’est la Santé ; Along came Jones... He and Sacha Distel are the only two French variety singers to make it into the Jazz Dictionary. His grave in the Parisian Père-Lachaise cemetery is close to that of Édith Piaf.

Walter Spanghero
Walter Spanghero (born December 21, 1943 in Payra-sur-l’Hers in the Lauragais) is a former French rugby union footballer. 1.86m tall and 100kg, with gigantic hands, he played equally well in second row as in third row centre and as a flanker.

Henri Salvador

Les Coco Girls
"Les Coco Girls" are a group of dancers and singers founded by the French TV host and comedian Stéphane Collaro. They would participate in the shows Coco-Boy (1982-1984), Cocoricocoboy (1984-1986) then Collaricocoshow (1987). There are always 4 girls, usually scantily clothed and sexy. Often the coco-girls are former cabaret dancers or former Miss like Fenella Masse Mathews, Paula or Alexandra Lorska from Crazy Horse Saloon. In this way they fulfill the criteria sought after by Stéphane Collaro to create the charm of this emblematic 80s show: women of astounding beauty and dancing skill. The band recorded many songs, each time releasing an album, including famous songs like: Coco Girl, Ce mec est too much, Cocoricocoboy, Fais-moi du Chachacha, On préfère les rigolos, Coco Dingo, Touche pas à mon homme, Macho mambo, Flics de chocs.

Les Coco girls

Eddy Barcklay
Eddie Barclay (born Édouard Ruault, January 26, 1921 in Paris, died May 13, 2005 in Boulogne-Billancourt) was one of the most important music editors and producers of French music between the 50s and the 80s. His nickname was "l'empereur du microsillon" (Emperor of the Microgrooves).

Keith Jarett

Walter Spanghero


Jacques Martin’s team

The paper trimmer. Here on S/S Norway, former S/S France.

Jacques Martin

Don Lewis, cruise director, introducing the Photography Team.

Pierre Vassiliu
Pierre Vassiliu (23 October 1937 in Villecresnes, France – 17 August 2014 in Sète, France) was a French singer, songwriter and actor. At the start of the 50s, his passion for horse-riding led him to become an apprentice jockey. He did his apprenticeship at Chantilly with Jean Laumain, racehorse trainer, for whom he won six races. At the Tremblay hippodrome, by pure chance, he met two apprentice horseriders, none other than Roger Pierre and Jean-Marc Thibault. Once they learned that Vassiliu spent his time out of the paddocks composing and writing songs, Pierre and Thibault dragged him out of the stables to have him sing his texts, as well as those of George Brassens, l’Écluse and l’Échelle de Jacob, two very popular cabarets at the time. From there, his first album that he wrote with his brother Michel, Armand, came out in 1962 and it was extremely successful, selling over 150,000 copies. This opened the doors of the Olympia in Paris to him, where he opened for the Beatles in 1964. He went on to a two-month stand with Françoise Hardy, Jacques Dutronc, and Johnny Hallyday. He released a string of hits, including "Charlotte", "Ivanhoe", and "La femme du sergent", censored because of the Algerian War. His 1973 song "Qui c'est celui-là?" was done partido alto by Chico Buarque; it sold more than 300,000 copies and secured for him a place in the memories of the teenagers of the time. The same year, he signed off on the soundtrack of the four-part television film la Duchesse d’Avila by Jan Potocki. His songs expressed diverse ideas: amused indifference in relation to the world (Qui c'est, celui-là ?, La vie ça va, Armand), but also critique about this same world (La femme du sergent, Dangereux), the fear of remaining a spectator (Film), romance (Amour, amitié), the appreciation of certain universal human qualities (Toucouleur), some healthy eroticism (Le pied, Nuits françaises, En Vadrouille à Montpellier), and a large number of spoonerisms (Alice, Ma cousine, Mon cousin). Pierre Vassiliu also appeared in some movies including La Saignée (1971), What a Flash ! (1972), Périgord noir (1989). In 2002, with Thallia, he sang a cover of Thallia L'Été ou est-il ?, by Boby Lapointe, for the album Boby Tutti-Frutti - L'hommage délicieux à Boby Lapointe, from Lilicub. In 2003, he produced a CD with Senegalese storytellers : the band Kalone, from Casamance, a region in the south of Senegal where he had lived. Pierre had many children. One of his sons is Dimitri Vassiliu, a well-known lighting engineer who has worked with a great many French artists including Mylène Farmer, De Palmas, Calogero, Zazie…
Jacques Martin

Isabelle Aubret




SS France was a Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (CGT, or French Line) ocean liner, constructed by the Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard at Saint-Nazaire, France, and put into service in February 1962. At the time of her construction in 1960, the 316 m (1,037 ft) vessel was the longest passenger ship ever built, a record that remained unchallenged until the construction of the 345 m (1,132 ft) RMS Queen Mary 2 in 2004.
France was later purchased by Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) in 1979, renamed SS Norway and underwent significant modifications that better suited her for cruising duties. She was renamed SS Blue Lady and sold to be scrapped in 2006, and scrapping was completed in late 2008.

Service history as France.
France's maiden voyage to New York took place on 3 February 1962, with many of France's film stars and aristocracy aboard.
On 14 December 1962, France carried the Mona Lisa from Le Havre to New York, where the painting was to embark on an American tour.

Poster advertising France's 1965 Christmas and New Year's cruise to the West African coast.
She sailed the North Atlantic run between Le Havre and New York for thirteen years. By the beginning of the 1970s jet travel was by far more popular than ship travel, and the cost of fuel was ever increasing. France, which had always relied on subsidies from the French government, was forced to take advantage of these subsidies more and more.
Using the ship's versatile design to its full potential, the CGT began to send France on winter cruises, which was off-season for the Atlantic trade. One design flaw was revealed when the ship reached warmer waters: her two swimming pools, one each for first and tourist class, were both indoors; the first class pool deep within the ship's hull, and the tourist class pool on an upper deck, but covered with an immovable glass dome. The latter, perhaps, was the more aggravating in hot weather. She also had limited outdoor deck space, with much of what was available protected behind thick glass wind-screens, useful on the North Atlantic, but frustrating when blocking cooling breezes in the tropics.
Nonetheless, France's cruises were popular, and her first world cruise took place in 1972. Too large to traverse the Panama and Suez Canals, she was forced to sail around Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope. That same year, with the destruction of the Seawise University (former RMS Queen Elizabeth) by fire in Hong Kong, France became the largest in-service passenger ship in the world.
Still, as the opening years of the decade progressed, the cruise market expanded, seeing the construction of smaller, purpose-built cruise ships which could also fit through the Panama Canal. Worse, in 1973 the Oil Crisis hit, and the price of oil went from US$3 to $12 per barrel. When the French government, at the end of the Trente Glorieuses, realized that keeping France running would necessitate an additional ten million dollars a year, it opted instead to subsidize the then in-development Concorde. Without this government money, the French Line could not operate, and with a press release issued in 1974 it was announced that France would be withdrawn from service on 25 October that year.
At that, the crew decided to take matters into their own hands: an eastbound crossing on 6 September, her 202nd crossing, was delayed several hours while the crew met to decide whether to strike then and there, in New York, or six days later outside Le Havre. Le Havre won, and the ship was commandeered by a group of French trade unionists who anchored France in the entrance to the port, thereby blocking all incoming and outgoing traffic. The 1200 passengers aboard had to be ferried to shore on tenders, while approximately 800 of the crew remained aboard.
The strikers demanded that the ship be allowed to continue to serve, along with a 35% wage increase for themselves. Their mission failed, and the night of the takeover proved to be the ship's last day of service for the CGT. It took over a month for the stand-off to end, and by 7 December 1974, the ship was moored at a distant quay in Le Havre, known colloquially as quai de l'oubli - the pier of the forgotten.
By that time France had completed 377 crossings and 93 cruises (including two world cruises), carried a total of 588,024 passengers on trans-Atlantic crossings, and 113,862 passengers on cruises, and had sailed a total of 1,860,000 nautical miles.

First decommissioning

 

Norway leaving Lloyd shipyards in Bremerhaven after conversion.
The mothballing of France was met with dismay by much of the French population, resulting in a song by Michel Sardou, titled "Le France".
The ship sat in the same spot for approximately four years, with the interiors, including all furniture, still completely intact. There were no plans to scrap the ship, or to sell it. In 1977 Saudi Arabian millionaire Akram Ojjeh expressed an interest in purchasing the vessel for use as a floating museum for antique French furniture and artworks, as well as a casino and hotel off the coast of the south-east United States. Though he purchased the ship for $24 million, this proposal was never realised, and others were rumoured to have floated, including bids from the Soviet Union to use her as a hotel ship in the Black Sea, and a proposal from China to turn her into a floating industrial trade fair.
In the end, the ship was sold in 1979 to Knut Kloster, the owner of Norwegian Caribbean Line for $18 million for conversion into the world's largest cruise ship. Just before France was renamed Norway one last marriage was performed aboard the ship at the quay in Le Havre. The wedding was performed by Reverend Agnar Holme, the Norwegian Seaman's chaplain. Greg Tighe, Director of Research and Corporate Development for NCL, was married to Lorraine Anne Evering in France's chapel. Witnesses included the ship's Captain, and several members of NCL's management team. This marked the last marriage to be performed aboard France, which had hosted hundreds of weddings over her transatlantic career.
By August of that year Norway was moved to the Lloyd shipyards in Bremerhaven, Germany, where she would undergo renovations to the cost of $80 million.
Service history as Norway

Norway at Velsen, the Netherlands
Norway was registered in Oslo, given the call sign LITA (literally meaning "small"), and was re-christened on 14 April 1980. She was the first (and only) purpose-built transatlantic ocean liner that was remodeled to be employed exclusively in luxury cruise service. Her hull form, bow design, and accommodation layout had been designed specifically for the rigors of crossing the North Atlantic, year-round. In her remodeling for cruise service, she was given a more generous accommodation, as well as larger and more numerous public spaces for the cruise-type recreations. Mechanically, the four screw propulsion plant was reduced to two screws. And in a bid for economy, she was given a complete set of bow/stern thrusters to give her the flexibility she needed to bring her into harbour; and, to dock, without resort to the expensive pilot and tugboat operations that were standard procedure in the heyday of the transatlantic express liners. When her re-fit was completed; and on her maiden call to Oslo, Senior Steward Wesley Samuels of Jamaica, in the presence of King Olav V, hoisted the United Nations flag as a sign of the ship's international crew.
She began her maiden voyage to Miami that same year, amidst speculation about her future in the cruise industry. France had been built as an ocean liner: for speed; long, narrow, with a deep draft, as well as an array of cabin shapes and sizes designed in a compact manner more for purpose travel than languid cruising. But Norway proved popular, and made the notion of the ship being a destination in itself credible. Her size, passenger capacity, and amenities revolutionized the cruise industry and started a building frenzy as competitors began to order larger ships.
As cruise competition attempted to take some of Norway's brisk business, Norway herself was upgraded several times in order to maintain her position as the "grande dame" of the Caribbean. In September and October 1990, there was the addition of two decks atop her superstructure, adding 135 new suites and luxury cabins. While many ship aficionados believe the new decks spoiled her original clean, classic lines, the new private veranda cabins on the added decks were instrumental in keeping Norway financially afloat during the later years of her operation, as these became a common feature throughout the cruise industry. She received additional refits in 1993 and 1996 in order to comply with the new SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) regulations.
Competition eventually overtook Norway, and she even started taking a back seat to other, newly built ships in NCL's lineup itself. No longer the "Ship amongst Ships", NCL severely cut back on her maintenance and upkeep. She experienced several mechanical breakdowns, fires, incidents of illegal waste dumping, and safety violations for which she was detained at port pending repairs. Despite the cutbacks, the ship remained extremely popular among cruise enthusiasts, some of whom questioned the owner's actions in light of the continuing successful operation of Queen Elizabeth 2, which had become a well-maintained rival still operating 5-star luxury cruises and transatlantic crossings for Cunard. In spite of this, the cutbacks continued and problems mounted even as the ship continued to sail with full occupancy. A turbocharger fire erupted on Norway as she entered Barcelona in 1999, which pulled her out of service for three weeks. During one of the following cruises to Norway she broke down in Bergen with leaks to one of the propeller seals delaying sailing until repaired.

Norway in Flåm Norway 1999
Slated for retirement, Norway sailed out of Manhattan's west side piers for the last time on 5 September 2001, on yet another transatlantic crossing to Greenock, Scotland, and then on to her home port of Le Havre, France. Her passengers would learn of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington six days later, while in mid-ocean. As the cruise industry reeled from the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, her owners decided to place her back into service - operating bargain-basement cruises from Miami, after a brief cosmetic refit that failed to address her mounting mechanical and infrastructure problems.
On 25 May 2003, after docking in Miami at 5:00 a.m., Norway was seriously damaged by a boiler explosion at 6:37 a.m. that killed eight crew members, and injured seventeen, as superheated steam flooded the boiler room, and blasted into crew quarters above through ruptured decking. None of the passengers were injured. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that "the probable cause of the boiler rupture on the Norway was the deficient boiler operation, maintenance, and inspection practices".
On 27 June 2003, NCL/Star decided to relocate Norway, and she departed Miami under tow, although at first NCL/Star refused to announce her destination. She headed towards Europe and eventually arrived in Bremerhaven on 23 September 2003. NCL announced that constructing a new boiler was not possible but boiler parts were available to make the needed repairs. In Bremerhaven she was used as accommodation for NCL crew training to take their places on board the line's new Pride of America.

Former itineraries as Norway.
NCL originally planned for Norway to sail empty from Germany to Miami, but a pre-inaugural cruise was added, with only a select number of passengers allowed to sail. Starting from Oslo, Norway, stopping at Southampton, England, and ending in New York City. A 6-day cruise to Bermuda was planned but cancelled at the last minute in favor of fixing some problems. She set sail on her first inaugural cruise from Miami, Florida, on 1 June 1980, a 7-day cruise with only two stops, one in Little San Salvador then followed by a stop in St. Thomas, USVI. The other days of the cruise were sea days as Norway was the destination itself. This remained her main itinerary from 1980 to 1982 until NCL announced Nassau, Bahamas was added. By 1985 St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles was added. In 1987 her new itinerary was introduced: a 7-day cruise from Miami stopping at St. Maarten, St. John, USVI; St. Thomas and Great Stirrup Cay. Her Western Caribbean cruises later introduced were 7-days stopping at Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Roatan and NCL's private island Great Stirup Cay. Between regular cruising in the Caribbean and dry dock periods, she sailed many cruises to Western Mediterranean, Western Europe coast, Northern Europe, the British Isles and the Norwegian fjords.
Her official farewell cruise was a 17-day transatlantic cruise from Miami stopping at New York; Halifax, Nova Scotia; St John's, Newfoundland and Labrador; Greenock, Scotland; Le Havre, France and ending in Southampton. But a decision was made to keep Norway sailing bargain-based Caribbean cruises out of Miami. This continued until her demise in May 2003.

Second decommissioning.

Norway moored in Bremerhaven, Germany, February 2004
"The Norway will never sail again," it was announced on 23 March 2004, by NCL Chief Executive Colin Veitch. The ship's ownership was transferred to NCL's parent company, Star Cruises.
Due to large amounts of asbestos aboard the ship (mostly in machine and bulkhead areas), Norway was not allowed to leave Germany for any scrap yards due to the Basel Convention. After assuring the German authorities that Norway would go to Asia for repairs and further operation in Australia, she was allowed to leave port under tow. It was reported that the art from her two dining rooms, children's playroom, stairtower, and library were removed and placed in storage, to possibly be utilized on board a revitalized SS United States, or another ship in the NCL fleet. Later photos of Norway at the scrapyards of Alang, India, would prove this statement to be untrue. Norway left Bremerhaven under tow on 23 May 2005, and reached Port Klang, Malaysia on 10 August 2005.
In fact, the ship was sold to an American naval demolition dealer for scrap value in December 2005. After eventually reselling the ship to a scrap yard, the ship was to be towed to India for demolition. In light of protests from Greenpeace, potentially lengthy legal battles due to environmental concerns over the ship's breakup, and amidst charges of fraudulent declarations made by the company to obtain permission to leave Bremerhaven, her owners cancelled the sale contract, refunded the purchase price, and left the ship where she was.
Blue Lady.
Norway was sold in April 2006 to Bridgend Shipping Limited of Monrovia, Liberia, and renamed Blue Lady in preparation for scrapping. One month later she was again sold, to Haryana Ship Demolition Pvt. Ltd., and was subsequently left anchored in waters off the Malaysian coast after the government of Bangladesh refused Blue Lady entry into their waters due to the onboard asbestos. Three weeks later, the ship began its journey towards Indian waters, though it was announced that she had left Malaysian waters for the United Arab Emirates for repairs and to take on new crew and supplies.
Upon learning of the ship's destination, Gopal Krishna, an environmentalist and an anti-asbestos activist, filed an application before the Supreme Court of India to ensure that the ship, reportedly containing asbestos, complied with the Court's 14 October 2003 order which sought prior decontamination of ships in the country of export before they could be allowed entry into Indian waters. On 17 May 2006, Kalraj Mishra expressed his concern to the Indian Parliament over possible hazards Blue Lady presented, and requested that the government put a halt to the ship's entry. As the Indian Supreme Court had lifted any ban on the ship's entry, Blue Lady was anchored 100 km off the Indian coast in mid-July, coming from Fujairah, UAE.
This also cleared the way for her scrapping at Alang, in Gujarat, pending an inspection of the on-board asbestos by experts from the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB). After GPCB chairman, K.Z. Bhanujan, said the Board had constituted an experts' committee for inspection, Blue Lady was docked in Pipavav, Kutch District. On 2 August 2006, after a five-day inspection, the experts declared the ship safe for beaching and dismantling in Alang. This prompted a fury of controversy over the legality of such an act, including a press release from the NGO Platform on Shipbreaking that critiqued the technical report, alleging that the Technical Committee was under undue pressure to allow the ship to be beached, and had failed to follow the Basel Convention and the Supreme Court of India's order that ships must be decontaminated of hazardous substances such as PCBs and asbestos, and, in any case, must be fully inventoried and formally notified prior to arrival in the importing country. No such notification was made by either Malaysia (last country of departure) nor Germany (country where the ship became waste).
The NGO Platform on Shipbreaking also announced that it was prepared to launch a global campaign against Star Cruises and their subsidiary Norwegian Cruise Lines for corporate negligence in this case.

Blue Lady at Alang, India, awaiting scrapping.
Photos from Alang revealed that Blue Lady was still partially afloat off the coast; her bow on dry beach at low tide, and the ship fully afloat at high tide. The photos also showed that neither NCL nor Star Cruises had removed any of the ship's onboard furniture or artworks (including the murals in the Windward Dining Room and Children's Playroom, and the Steinway piano in Le Bistro), as had previously been reported.
Fans of France became concerned about the future of the art pieces, both due to the ship lying at anchor in a very humid environment without power for air conditioning, and due to lack of concern for preservation on the part of the scrappers. Still, it was stated that as of early September 2006, the ship's owner had signed contracts with various buyers, including auctioneers and a French museum, to sell the artworks. Other fittings were to be sold by the ton.
Gopal Krishna again moved an application seeking compliance with the Basel Convention, and three days later the Indian Supreme Court decided that the scrapping was to be postponed, stipulating that the Technical Committee, which earlier approved the scrapping, were to write a new report to be submitted before the Court's final decision. That decision was reached on 11 September 2007 (the 33rd anniversary of France's last day on the Atlantic), when the court ruled that Blue Lady was safe to scrap, a decision that was received negatively by environmentalists.
By 4 December of the same year, it was confirmed that the tip of Blue Lady's bow had been cut; a ceremonial move done to most ships that end up in Alang just prior to the full-scale breaking of a ship. It was confirmed on 20 January that Blue Lady had commenced scrapping. Scrapping began on the forward part of the sun deck. The suites added during the 1990 refit were gone by March, briefly returning the ship to her pre-1990 profile.
By 12 July 2008 the bow and the stern of the ship had been removed, with little of the ship's famous profile still recognizable. By September 2008, most of what remained above the waterline had been cut away, and the ship's demolition was essentially completed by late 2008.

The bow exhibited in Paris, after having been sold by auction
In 2009 the tip of the bow of Blue Lady was returned to the country of her birth as one of a catalogue of auction pieces removed from the ship before scrapping commenced. The auction was held on 8 and 9 February. It is now on public display at Paris Yacht Marina, Port de Grenelle, Paris 15e.
In January 2010 one of the two sets of neon letters which sat atop the superstructure of France before her conversion was restored and put on display. The letters, which spell "France", were displayed at the Musée national de la Marine in Paris. After this they were returned to Le Havre and presented to the Musée Malraux, and now face the front of the harbor.



Sous le paquebot France, îles Vierges Américaines.
Les arbres d’hélice ne tournaient pas rond. Je suis employé pour photographier les ébréchures afin d'évaluer les dégâts. Le majestueux paquebot S/S Norway, ex paquebot FRANCE est au mouillage au large de Saint-Thomas. A part la masse impressionnante du navire en face de nous, il n’y a rien d’autre que du bleu profond. Je passe ma main gantée sur le pourtour des hélices et, quand je repère un accroc, je le photographie proprement, en macro, incluant une petite règle graduée dans le champ et j'en dessine la position sur mon ardoise. Il y a une vingtaine d’ébréchures sur les huit pales.
Le courant nous pousse fortement et nous devons tout faire une main accrochée à l’hélice. Il n’y a aucun poisson et que du bleu infini tout autour du bateau.
C’est très impressionnant. Du bleu et une énorme machine de métal. Je me sens petit et fragile. Privilégié aussi, de pouvoir plonger sous le plus beau paquebot au monde. Ce reportage a été publié dans tous les magazines plongée francophones. Nostalgie du SS France ?
De la plongée peu ordinaire ? Mes photos magnifiques ?


J'ai revu le S/S Norway lors du festival de Cannes en 1998.

Une bien triste photo: S/S BLUE LADY, ex S/ S FRANCE, S/ S NORWAY à Alang, en Inde, 21 janvier 2008, pour son démentèlement final. Bye bue S/S France.

The bow of the France at the Port de Grenelle. The stem of the former cruiseliner France now adorns the quai de Grenelle in Paris (in 2017).
Once upon a time, in May 1960, it was the world’s largest ship. Yet the economic crisis got the better of the ship nicknamed “The Prince of the Seas”. The ship’s deficit reached 100 million French francs per year and Valery Giscard d’Estaing declared its end. The France was laid up in 1974.
The upper part of the ship’s painted steel stem with its guardrail and front hawsehole. Restored in its original paint, black hull, white collar. Ship’s cradle in lacquered steal. Weight : around 4.1 tonnes.


Dommage que la France n'ait pas su le faire fonctionner comme paquebot (trop de grèves à répétition) alors que les Norvégiens l'ont fait pendant 20 ans. Dommage qu'on ne l'ait pas gardé comme musée ou hôtel non navigant







The ClubMed II in 1989 and it's stupid traditions. I am the official photographer of the inaugural cruise from The Havre (in France, where she was built) to New Caledonia. Djibouti, Australie, Japan, etc.. on the way for advertising). Three long boring months.

Le Club Med 2, l'un des plus beaux palaces du monde, est une goélette à cinq-mâts et à voiles d'étai dont la construction commence en 1989 aux chantiers navals du Havre (Société nouvelle des Ateliers et Chantiers du Havre). Il est lancé en 1992 et passe les six premières années de navigation dans le Pacifique, pour finalement alterner par la suite principalement entre la Méditerranée et les Caraïbes.
Ce voilier est le sister-ship de l'ex-Club Med 1 (1988), devenu depuis le Wind Surf en 1998. Le Club Med 2 est le plus grand voilier cinq-mâts naviguant.





Le canal de suez
Ce "bizutage" Club Med II lors du passage de l'équateur m'a choqué. J'avais déjà vécu ça à bord d'autres paquebots US, en sympa et amusant, mais ici on se serait cru dans un passage à tabac très malsain. Les Français se défoulent de manière très agressive sur les autres. Cela m'a rappelé la tonsure que j’ai subie au service militaire. Complètement différent sur les bateaux américains où le seul but était de rire.


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