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Thursday, June 13, 2024


Sept. 24, 2001 – There's a silver lining for the Virgin Islands in the dark economic clouds on the horizon as a result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks: The S/S Norway will be returning to St. Thomas and St. John for another year of service starting the last week of this year.
Norwegian Cruise Lines and its new parent company, Star Cruises, had announced plans to reposition the Norway to Asia beginning with the winter season. Its "farewell Atlantic crossing" sailed out of Miami on Sept. 2, bound for Southampton, England, with arrival on Sept. 18. But with the global unrest now, NCL/Star Cruises has decided to continue homeporting the ship in Miami for Eastern Caribbean cruises calling at Sint Maarten, St. Thomas and St. John, and the privately owned Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas.
The Caribbean itinerary will begin Dec. 23 and continue "through at least December 2002," according to a release from The West Indian Co. The Norway will call in the territory on Thursdays, beginning Dec. 27.
"This is exceptionally good news in light of events of the last few days as we attempt to stabilize our tourism economy," Edward Thomas, WICO president, said in a release Monday. "The S/S Norway has been an economic staple, especially for Main Street, and its return for the peak of the season bodes very well for all of us."
The Norway has a passenger capacity of 2,032 and carries a crew of 900. With a draft of 35 feet, the ship is one of the few that has never docked at St. Thomas, instead anchoring in the outer harbor and transporting personnel to and from the waterfront aboard two large tenders that are carried from port to port aboard the vessel itself.
Before entering back into service in the Caribbean, the Norway will be in dry dock in Europe for the next three months undergoing refurbishing.
The bright blue vessel with its familiar twin smokestacks has been calling weekly at St. Thomas for two decades. In the 1990s, a morning drop-off stop at St. John was added, with passengers allowed to disembark, see St. John, then travel to St. Thomas by ferry to board the ship from the Charlotte Amalie waterfront in the afternoon. The ship, the longest in the world until megavessels began making their appearance in the '90s, was built in 1962 and christened the France. It re-emerged as the Norway in 1980 and last underwent refurbishment in 1996.

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