It's a ship's life out there

Sometimes cruise ships can be like convicts. They have a lot of aliases.

It's not criminal for ships to undergo name changes, although sometimes it might seem criminal for a great old ship to become known as something else, and something else…

Like the Song Of Norway.

One of the people we encountered told us he started his career on Song of Norway. This is a ship with a rich history and we didn't know much about it, so we wereintrigued. Besides the fact that it now has at least eight aliases, we think you'll find this as interesting as we did.

Let's start with the fact that it was the first ship made for Caribbean cruises. That was in 1970, when the cruise clientele was just a fraction of what it is today. Song of Norway was Royal Caribbean's first cruise ship…so how many passengers do you think such a vessel would be built to carry in 1970?

Try 724.

This first ship to service Labadee, now Royal Caribbean's private port in Haiti, became a vital part of the expansion of cruising. By the time she was only eight years old, she had to be lengthened by 85 feet to accommodate the mushrooming crowd of people who wanted to go on a "Caribbean cruise."

That increased Song of Norway's capacity by 65 per cent…to 1,196 passengers.

The ship stayed with Royal Caribbean until 1997 when, at the age of 27, it began going under cover…isn't that what happens when people (or ships) need an alias? It was sold  to Sun Cruises and became the Sundream. Then the Dream Princess…the Dream…the Clipper Pearl…the Clipper Pacific…the Festival…the Ocean Pearl…so many names, in so many places.

What started in the Caribbean ended, more or less, last year when her owners — by then Happy Cruises — unhappily filed for bankruptcy and ceased operations. Today, you'll find "Song of Norway" in the water near China, where she is, of all things, a floating casino.

Her name, alias number eight, is Formosa Queen.

Celebrity Millennium
17 nights
November 20, 2013
Sydney, Brisbane, Airlie Beach, Cairns, Darwin, Benoa, Singapore
Inside: $1,399
Cost per day: $82
www.celebritycruises.com

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