And then we were leaving, and I know we never saw her sail, so I am afraid the story ends there. But my all pervading impression of bland still stands, but I am glad that I did get the opportunity to go on board, because even though she was one of 5 sisters, she was still a successful ship in her own right.
I have 14 February 1994 down as being a good day for shipwatching in Durban because there were two interesting callers in the port. The first being Sagafjord, and the second: Kazakhstan II
Originally one of five sisters of the Belorussiya class (Belorussiya, Gruziya, Azerbaizhan, Kazakhstan, Kareliya) these ships were quite rare to see in South Africa, although there is a post card of one of them in Cape Town, (date unknown).
The Kazakhstan II was interesting because in October 1992 she had an accident while in dry dock and it was thought she would have been broken up, instead she was refitted and re-entered service as Kazakhstan II. Originally launched as Belorrusiya in 6 March 1974, the sisters were more cruise-ferries with car decks than dedicated cruise ships. At the time of her call she was being operated by the German operator Delphin Seereisen on a round Africa voyage.
We were fortunate to go out on the pilot boat to bring her in, and she was somewhat of a boxey ship with an unattractive funnel. In fact I was not sure what to make of a German operated, Finnish built, former Soviet flagged cruise-ferry!
Looking at pics of her now, she wasn’t an unattractive ship, but definitely in a different league to Sagafjord! Her stern door was still there from her days as a cruise-ferry, and maybe it is the lack of curves that did gave her an almost severe and business-like look.
Looking back at my pics, most of what I took were of her at sea from the pilot boat, but almost nothing of her coming alongside, which probably means I did not have too much film left to mess around with. In the old days it was expensive to take pics, and you were limited by how many rolls of film you had with you, I also used to shoot slides so it is also possible that I did not scan too many of the images of her.
It is also very possible that I had shot too many images of Sagafjord, or was saving my shots for Sagafjord. It was a long time ago.
Once on board we did the grand tour, and I seem to recall not being too impressed by her interiors. She looked almost bland compared to some ships I had seen, functional, but not fancy. I also remember that we were served drinks by a stewardess and we all remarked to each other that that she seemed very tired and somewhat underdressed. I also have a feeling there were restrictions on our photography on board. But I have an image of her aft deck to squish that theory.
It is possible that she is still afloat somewhere, I know, the ships did not really seem to settle into regular service, and Kazakhstan was beached in Jan 2012 for breaking up. However, it could be that SOLAS 2010 did add a nail into their careers, but it is also possible that there are still out there.
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