Another interesting vessel that came to Durban was the small passenger ship/ferry Estrella Do Mar. She was usually up in Mozambique and Mombasa as far as I recall, and only headed South for repairs or dry docking. We managed a visit to her when she was still at the repair berths and she was a real surprise with her dormitory accommodation and forward lounge. The owner, Alex Costazos, was very friendly and he hinted that when the charter ended she may end up in South Africa doing short cruises.
She was built as “Santa Maria de la Caridad” by Union Naval de Levante, Valencia, Spain, for Compañía Trasmediterránea. Delivered March 1967. Lpp 59.50 m, width 11 m, draught 5.18 m, 1199 BRT. She served Balearics and Canary Islands traffic until 1982 and was sold in 1984 to Pyrgi Chios Shipping Co., Greece, together with “Santa Maria de la Paz” and “Isla de Menorca”. After that her history becomes clouded until she turned up in Durban for a refit and mechanical work.
She did however, get a new lease of life and was sold to a Danish/Filipino company and rebuilt into a cruise ship for island hopping expeditions around the Philippine Archipelago. Called the Coco Explorer No 1, it was far from luxurious but lots of fun.
In 2005 she was replaced by a larger, more luxurious ship called the Coco Explorer No.2, another former Spanish ferry that is best known for its stint as the Greek Islands cruise ship Arcadia. The former Estrella do Mar was thus retired and sent to China for scrapping in 2005.
Additional info available at Simplon Postcards, further information on her career, and photographs courtesy of Jonathan Boonzaier.
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