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With Reuben Goossens
SS Norway / SS Blue Lady
Surreal times on the SS France
© 2006 Patrick Jackson - BBC News
SS France departing from
Although this page and its contents is now long in the past, details found in this article and the comments towards the bottom are certainly interesting and it reminds us what a wonderful ship the SS France / SS Norway really was!
Project SS Norway – SS France
and ecologists are battling to prevent the scrapping of a former French ocean
“The great French Line SS France, became one of the world most popular cruise ships owned by Klosters/Norwegian Cruise Lines which was later taken over by the Malaysian Casino giant Genting Corp. Currently she is owned by Bridgend Shipping/Haryana shipbreakers and she is currently at anchor off Alang.
If the ghost of Salvador Dali appears
off the coast of
remembers another sound: the smack of a champagne bottle smashing against the
hull on a fine May Day in 1960 to launch the new liner in
It was released by Madame de Gaulle, accompanying the French president who was "as ever, on form and delivered a forceful speech" to tens of thousands of onlookers, Mr Coune says. Jean Coune knows a thing or two about the hull: at 83, he is the last survivor from among the engineers who built it.
Salvador Dali travelling with his pet ocelot-
During those years it saw many weddings, as well as hosting famous passengers preferring the majestic five-day Atlantic crossing to a plane trip.
It was quite a time, recalls Bruno Rabreau, who as a receptionist in the 1970s had dealings with Dali and his entourage including his formidable wife Gala, his friend Captain Moore - and the cheetahs, of course.
The first time Gala came to book a phone call, he remembers thinking she looked very plainly dressed, and he found it hard to believe the "old maid" was the spouse of the great surrealist artist.
"She told my chief that I was not very pleasant, then she came back and gave me five dollars and said 'I will tame you'," he says. "That's when I knew she was Madame Dali!"
Luckily for the ship, the cheetahs appear to have been tamed in advance, as Bruno recalls:
"They took those two big beasts for a walk around the ship and on the outside desks too - it was not a real panic but almost!"
Dali, as far as Bruno remembers, did not do any painting on his trips aboard the SS France but not only did David Bowie perform - he played for the crew.
Travelling as a first-class passenger,
the rock star was not scheduled to play aboard the
"We enjoyed more than 10 songs and especially Space Oddity which was the first one, and a few crew members took instruments too and played with him," Bruno says.
"It was a really, really good time. He was a very ordinary person and very friendly to us. We really enjoyed it."
'A corpse for cormorants'
In recent years, crew and passengers alike have been remembering the SS France on a French web site, Souvenirs de France, which teems with postings as poignant as they are affectionate.
also a receptionist on Le
Back in 1975 there was already
nostalgia for the liner, which had just been decommissioned and was in port at
the quai d'oubli
(the Quay of the Forgotten) at
Four years later, the liner returned to
service as the SS Norway and ended up cruising off
Now renamed the SS Blue Lady, it is the
subject of a preservation battle. If the breakers do not win out, there is a
proposal to convert it into a floating hotel off a
Campaigners in the France Liner
Association want to see it moored in its "its birthplace
"The SS France is part of
"For a French person, scrapping le
France is like dismantling the
Do you have any pictures of The France? If so, you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. All photographs used will receive credit as instructed.
SS France was indeed a piece of maritime art!
Comments (Obtained by Patrick Jackson)
I was on board during Sept. 11th. with many friends. It was a very surreal experience.
Definitely a keeper!!! Obsolete ..yes, of a by-gone era ...yes, expensive
travel...yes. Anything comparable now.......NO. That's
good enough reason to preserve her. May her hull always lap the waves of her
I journeyed from
During 1968-70, before I reached my
teens, my family lived in
I sailed on the SS France from
Does she not hold the record for the
fastest crossing of the Atlantic at a staggering average of 41 mph.
Unfortunately a bygone era; nowadays
people get excited by the Airbus A380, quite the opposite. I have childhood
memories of a cousin of my father, Capt. Christian Pettre,
telling stories over dinner about the ship he was in command of (he was I
believe the last captain of
I was a passenger in 1994 when she was
the SS Norway, my wife and I did a wonderful two week cruise from
I sang and had dinner on board for the
commemoration of the
I first saw the SS France in October
1973 alongside the pier in
I remember visting
the SS Norway whilst in
This ship must be saved
! As a child I crossed the
In March 1981 (I was only 21 and very
newly engaged) I spent the most fantastic week on the Norway, my husband won
this trip from his then company, there must have at least 50 of us in the
group. I had never been to the carribean then - and
my word I can still remember the ship, it looked stunning in the harbours of the
islands we visited, and the food and the crew were fantastic. The most
memorable night was Captains ball, and the waiters came down a spiral staircase
with 'Baked Alaskas' singing....
I travelled on Le
I can remember sailing on the SS France
and the magnificent cuisine and that was not in first class!
I was a Customs Officer at Southampton
in the late sixties/early seventies and 'boarded' the
Peter Hayward, Haywards Heath
Never a passenger, sadly, but I
remember as a child standing at the harbour entrance in Le Havre as she steamed
out with a replica of the Statue of Liberty forward of her bridge. It was being
filmed for a film called "The Brain". A beautiful ship...
I went to
I was a waiter on
the SS Norway during 1980. Nineteen years old and saving my
tips to pay for University. Left Bremenhaven
and moored in
Dr Tim du Feu, Jersey, CI
I was on the SS France in 1964 at the
age of 11. It was absolutely fabulous. The food was incredible, the service was
magnificent and the facilities were amazing. She was a beautiful, elegant ship.
What a way to cross!! I have Great memories of a wonderful, long gone way of
life. We also traveled on the SS. United States
(destroyed in the late 70's). It would be a real pity if the SS France was
destroyed too. I hope she will live.
Page One … SS France
Page Two … SS Norway
Page Three … SS Norway – Blue Lady
Photo … QE2
Photo … Photographer Don Tremain presents his experience and four photographs
shares his photographs of the
Photo … Michael and Lee Ann Pavlick honeymoon cruise in 2002
Photo … A series of photographs of SS Blue Lady in Alang
Story … Pauli Dangerousli describes his 1997 cruise on the SS Norway
Story … “The Ship that Saved my Life” – The Karl Henrik Henriksen Story (2 pages)
Article … “Surreal times on the SS France” by Patrick Jackson
Visit the “Save The Classic Liners Campaign” page
I trust you have enjoyed reading this page on this fine and much loved passenger liner. If you have sailed on her I would like to hear from you, and if you have any photographs I would greatly appreciate some, especially those of the interiors and out on deck. Email Me!
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