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.
We never saw her for a few years until we got to Durban one day and she was alongside. It was 1994, and we went on board and there was Alex once again, and his plan was almost ready to happen.
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 the mid 2000’s
Additional info available at Simplon Postcards, further information on her career, and photographs courtesy of Jonathan Boonzaier.
© DRW 2004-2018. Page recreated 14/12/2008, moved to blog 02/03/2015
The long laid up Royal Zulu was resident in Durban harbour for many years. Originally brought across to Durban she was destined to become THE party ship, operating short cruises and with a disco, gambling, partying and all manner of what were nefarious activities to the previous government.
Royal Zulu in happier days
Alas, she fell foul of the licensing authorities and ruffled quite a few feathers. She was promptly arrested after very little service and ended up alongside a disused quay at the far end of the container berth where she slowly decayed for many years. She was eventually joined by the dormant RA Leigh, and the pair of them rusted away in silence.
Built as Santa Maria de la Nieves, she was one of 3 sister ships (Santa Maria de la Candelaria, Santa Maria de la Nieves, Santa Maria del Pino ) built in 1967 by Union Naval de Levante, Valencia, for inter-island services in the Canary Islands and the Balearics for Trasmediterránea of Spain.
Royal Zulu as built
Eventually she was sold for breaking up and we heard a story that one of her lifeboats eventually found its way to Johannesburg. In April 1987 we got on board her and it was a very strange feeling to be board this dead ship. Everything was as it was left, and I climbed the mast and poked around inside her, but we could not get below decks or onto the bridge, I always looked out for her I was in Durban, because realistically she was a part of Durban.
More information on Trasmediterránea man be found at Simplon Postcards
© DRW 2004-2018. Recreated 02/04/2015