Retrospective Shipwatch: Kazakhstan II

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

Operator postcard from onboard

Originally one of five sisters of the Belorussiya class (Belorussiya, Gruziya, Azerbaizhan, Kazakhstan, Kareliya) built by Wärtsilä Turku Shipyard, Finland in 1975–1976 for the Black Sea Shipping Company, 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).  They were also operated by CTC at one point and that may be why one was in Cape Town. 

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 under-dressed. 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.

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.

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 they are still out there. I know she was renamed Delphin in 1996, but Delphin Kreuzfahrten went insolvent in October 2010.  (See update of 16/03/2022)

In late 2011 she was reportedly sold to Vishal Cruises Pvt. Ltd. and in February 7, 2018, MV Delphin was reportedly chartered by the first cruise line in the Argentine Republic, Alteza Cruises, to operate from the Port of the city of Buenos Aires with various itineraries including Patagonia, southern Brazil, southern Chile and Antarctica. ( The latest rumour that I have read is that the ship was laid up with “technical issues” at Rijeka in Croatia. (

Update 16/03/2022

The Delphin was sold to Turkish breakers on 4 March 2022 following the bankruptcy of her previous owner. All 5 of the sisters have now sailed into history. 

DRW © 2015-2022 Created 16/02/2015, moved and images recreated 11/03/2016. Moved to Musings 20/02/02021, updated 16/03/2022.

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