Island Princess. A personal glimpse

Another ship that I was fortunate enough to visit was Island Princess. She called in Durban on 25 March 1996, and was the first of 3 ships that we visited in a week. I had always taken a fancy to her and her sister, they were very attractive vessels, and of course they were famous for their role in the TV comedy “The Love Boat.”  Originally built as Island Venture (sister was Sea Venture/Pacific Princess) in 1971, she spent most of her early life sailing for Princess Cruises as Island Princess. They were both products of Rheinstahl Nordseewerke, West Germany and had a gross tonnage of 19907 GRT. Principal dimension were 551x79x25, with a capacity of 644 passengers.
Because we were going on a cruise we actually arrived a day early, and managed to wangle a trip out to her with the pilot boat. The weather was grey and gloomy out at sea and sadly the photography was not great.  
We followed her into the harbour, and she was one of those ships that really does look like her images.  She berthed at “N” Shed and then the long wait began to get on board her.

Once on board we set about our mission of exploration. The ship was doing an “Around Africa” voyage and this must have been the first time we had seen a Princess ship in our waters in years. We just hoped that this would become a regular occurrence, I would really have liked to have sailed on her.

The decks were starting to come alive and the buffet on deck was gradually being more frequented. Interior wise the ship was smaller than I expected, although I had heard this from other sources. She also had a very different feel to other ships I had been on, and this had to do with the American passenger market. A friendly steward noticed us and introduced us to breakfast at the buffet. And, I don’t think I have ever tasted such strong coffee in my life! It kept me awake for the rest of that day and most of the night!  
Then it was almost time to leave. We had a visit to the Bluff organised and had to be there to meet our contact. We bid the ship a fond farewell and promised to see her off later that afternoon.  I was particularly looking forward to her sailing as I was less than pleased with the photography that morning.  
Once we arrived at the Bluff and gone through the security we were in an area that had been unavailable to us before. We climbed up into the signal station and the view was incredible. The operator on duty did warn us to avoid photographing too much while we were there as the area was still restricted, but we could photograph the harbour side, and we decided we would wait out Island Princess from there.  It is quite easy to picture the photographer that took so many images of the harbour and vessels like SA Vaal in the channel. It was a spectacular place to photograph from, but being the days of film we could not go crazy the way we do today with our digital cameras.
Then we saw tugs heading to “N” Shed, Island Princess was on the move. It was time to put that long lens to use. 
There was something satisfying seeing her clearing the harbour mouth from this viewpoint. The next day would see us standing on board Rhapsody doing the same thing. I would have really preferred to be on Island Princess though.  

Island Princess was eventually sold by Princess and had a somewhat odd career until she ended up in service as Discovery. Sadly, her sister fell on hard times while operating for Quail Cruises, structurally she was not in a great condition and there was talk of her being sent for breaking up. At the time of writing she was in layup, her future uncertain.

Update August 2013

Sadly Pacific Princess made the trip to Aliaga for breaking up under the name Afic. On the way to the breakers she started to take in water, and by the time she arrived was listing badly. Attempts were made to pump the water out, and two workers lost their lives in the process. The ship has since been stabilised, but is still listing and this may slow down the demolition process until she is stable enough.

November 2014
 And, regretfully Discovery did not outlive her sister by much, and her life ended at the breakers in November 2014. 
DRW ©  2015-2020. Recreated 13/03/2016. Images of Discovery courtesy of Hugh Knapton 

Royal Viking Sun. A personal glimpse

Royal Viking Sun was scheduled to call on 22 November 1996, and we headed down to Durban to see her.  Originally built in 1988 for Royal Viking Line, she was currently carrying the same name, but with Cunard branding. It was a confusing period in her history, but it is better explained on her website

Company Postcard
Company Postcard

As usual she was an early arrival, and I can see we went out on the pilot boat to drop off a pilot.

She was not a pretty ship, almost a bit top heavy and bulky, I think stretching may have improved her looks. She did however have a well deserved reputation as being a top ship in the world, and the prices for voyages on her reflected that reputation. Royal_viking_sun02

She had been in South Africa before, although on that occasion Royal Viking Line was still in operation.  Once we had completed our pilot boating for the morning we dashed across to Ocean Terminal to do some photography. It can be quite a race to be there before the ship, fortunately they often swung the vessel before bringing her alongside while we would be navigating our way over speed bumps, security guards, railway lines and potholes, all the while trying to see where the ship was.  Sometimes we got dropped off at the quayside by the pilot boat, although that usually meant we would have to hoof it back to where the car was parked.
I seem to recall there was somewhat of a ruction on board the pilot boat because the ship was not flying the courtesy flag, and of course people were muttering about getting hold of the APC and chasing her out of the harbour. The situation was remedied though, so no harm was done.
By now I think we were in the “lets change clothes quickly” mode for when we went ship visiting, and naturally would have used the dirtiest toilets in Durban for the purpose (the smell had to be seen to be believed, it was the sort of smell that had a life of its own, and that held down a steady job and had kids and attended church on a Sunday). Once on board we headed our own way, I know we had seen pics of her forward lounge and there had been a lot of pre-publicity about the ship in the local rag. The one thing I do recall about her was that she had a huge dining room, big enough to seat all the passengers in a single seating. That dining room was one whole deck! 
I have to admit she was beautiful on board, really tastefully decorated and overall well maintained. The promenade deck was an attraction for me because I am a sucker for a prom deck. 

Whereas the pool area did not really do much for me, but then I am not the type who finds lounging by the pool a lot of fun (that’s why we have promenade decks). 

The visit was not particularly memorable, but that’s because you spend so little time on board and it is a rush to see everything as quick as possible, added to that the almost 6 hour road trip ahead of us in the middle of the night. I know, we must have been crazy, but looking back so many years later I can say that I am glad I did saw some of these ships because the amount of classics still afloat is small, at the time of writing she is now almost considered a classic ship.
Royal Viking Line is but a memory, and they had a wonderful reputation for efficiency and service. Their ships were always immaculate, and oddly enough during those dry days when we had almost no callers in our waters there was a Royal Viking Ship calling. I don’t know where they went wrong, it is possible that catering for the market that they did meant that they did not have mass appeal. However, the legacy that they left behind is surprisingly big with all of their ships still afloat and in service somewhere. How many other cruise lines can boast of that accomplishment? 
Then it was time for us to get off as the ship started to embark passengers and those who had gone on tours around Durban.  The weather was still quite good so it did hold out for a semi decent sailing. 
Unfortunately though, the light was going fast as she swung from the quayside, and by the time she came into the channel it was becoming very difficult to photograph her with the low light. 
And then she was gone. And there was no more reasons left for us to remain behind. So we headed off home. 
Since 2002 Royal Viking Sun was operated by Holland America Line as Prinsendam.  She does look better with the darker hull and the bulk is less noticeable. 
Update 2018: 
In 2018 Prinsendam was sold to Phoenix Reisen but chartered back to HAL, and operated scheduled cruises until 1 July 2019.  On 2 July 2019 she sailed to Blohm+Voss in Hamburg for conversion and on 12 August 2019 she left Hamburg for Bremerhaven for her first cruise on 16 August 2019 with Phoenix under the name Amera. 
DRW ©  2015- 2020 originally created 19/02/2015, moved and images recreated 11/03/2016.  

Sagafjord, a personal glimpse

Having seen Vistafjord before, I was not all that keen to see Sagafjord,  I found Vistafjord very disappointing, and didn’t really expect too much from Sagafjord,  Her arrival in Durban was slated for 14 February 1994 and a ship visit was not confirmed. However, we never really let that stand in our way and we headed off for Durban on the evening of the 13th. We did not go out on the pilot boat to the ship, instead waited her out at North Pier, and looking at my images it seems as if she arrived in the late morning. 
Entering the channel
Entering the channel
She was much better looking in real life than she is in pictures, and she wasn’t exactly small either.  The one issue that worried us was an upcoming march/riot in Durban which was sure to interfere with passengers plans, but we held our breath anyway. Our biggest concern was actually getting on board! 
She was berthed up at “N” shed, and immediately we were on the lookout for our contact. So far the chances of a ship visit were small, but we hung around the ship, trying our best to look inconspicuous.  There was a lot of movement at the gangway and eventually our contact came, he had not been able to organise anything for us, but we were to stick around and he would try his best.
As time passed it became increasingly evident that we would have no joy, however our contact re-appeared and said that he was only able to organise for one person to go on board. Rudi, the person who organised the trip to see her was the obvious choice and we all sat down to wait his return. In fact he returned much quicker than we expected and said that he had asked that his “assistant” be allowed on board too, and I was the nominated assistant. And so it was up the gangplank I went.  On board she was truly magnificent, she had a beautiful dining room and  I will always remember the Caronia model she had on board. It was easy to see how she was always able to rate so highly in the cruising guides. As we roamed the passages we encountered some Scandinavian Stewardesses who asked if it was safe to go ashore. I was not sure how to answer them, the situation in Durban was tense with the march and associated violence, and I couldn’t help but wonder what impression that would leave on the passengers on board this ship. We did try to persuade them to come back to Johannesburg with us, but alas they declined. 
We walked the ship flat, I had a video camera with me and was filming as much as I could, but it turned out later that the camera was an NTSC device and not compatible with our TV system in South Africa, so I never did see that video.  Then it was time to go ashore. I seem to recall that she stayed overnight, and I know we watched her sail because I still have images of that sailing. 
Swinging her to face the harbour entrance
Ready to drop the pilot
As usual we tore through the harbour to get to the North Pier before she entered the channel and then we settled won to watch her sail past us. A beautiful lady, and one that was to lead a long life as Sagafjord, and later as as Saga Rose. Sadly, her ending was not as wonderful and I believe she paused in South Africa for bunkers on her way to the breakers. 
The open sea awaits
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Rotterdam, a personal glimpse

The week of 26-29 March 1996 was a busy one for our group of ship watchers. We had three ships lined up for that week, starting with Island Princess and ending with Holland America’s Rotterdam. In between these 2 visit was a cruise on board Rhapsody, but that isn’t covered in this blog entry. Of the three ships we experienced that week Rotterdam was easily the biggest and most impressive.  Sadly though, she was on borrowed time, this being her last world cruise before she was sold out of the HAL fleet. There was talk of her being bought by Premier Cruises and being renamed “Big Red Boat Somethingorother” but she ended up operating as Rembrandt instead before ending up in layup where her future became increasingly more uncertain.  My notes for her read as follows: “Built for Holland America Line. Launched 13/09/1958. Last in service with Premier Cruises lines as Big Red Boat IV, (apparently she never formally carried the name Big Red Boat IV) was to be re-enter service for Cruiseshares. However, citing forthcoming SOLAS regulations, CruiseShares indicated that they would not be putting her into service and she remained laid up at Freeport until May 2003 when it was announced that she had been bought by the Port of Rotterdam and her original builders who intend refitting her back to 1960’s style and using her as a static museum ship. In mid July 2004 she arrived at Cammel Laird in Gibraltar for further refurbishment before returning to Holland. Since moved to Poland for refurbishment and removal of hazardous material, then to Germany for more refurbishment. Due to enter service as a static hotel/museum in May 2008. This was delayed until 2010 and the ship has finally been opened to the public. ”   Even today her future is still uncertain as rumours abound that she is up for sale.  

On the day we arrived back from our cruise Rotterdam was waiting for us, having arrived the previous night to bunker. Our visit had been pre-arranged so it was just a matter of going on board. Like so many ships you only get to appreciate her size once you see her up close and personal, and Rotterdam was big. She has had a number of different liveries in her career, this time around she was in a dark blue with buff lifeboats, and nary a spot of dirt to be seen. The ship, both inside and out was immaculate.

 In her early years she operated as a two class ship, but clever design ensured that it was not an obvious split. Her interiors seemed to originate from the 50’s and 60’s but it was not a jarring thing, if anything it lent her a lot of charm. This was not some mass market block of flats, but a very tastefully decorated, grand dame from the old days of passenger ship travel.
Promenade Deck
Promenade Deck
She has magnificent promenade decks, and was very well maintained. Our guide was on of the deck officers who was very proud of the ship and its heritage. The bridge was large and functional with a  good view over her foredeck and bows.
Bridge interior
Builders Plate
Builders Plate
Foredeck from the bridge wing
Foredeck from the bridge wing
Aft deck and pool looking forward
Aft deck and pool looking forward

Part of our visit included a trip to the engine room with its shining turbine installation and boilers. At the time of our visit most of the engine room was shut down with only 1 boiler fired to maintain electrical plant. From there we headed off for lunch at the buffet situated aft. The food was stunning compared to the mediocre meals on board Rhapsody.

Aft decks and pool looking aft
Aft decks and pool looking aft
Looking aft from the bridge wing
Enclosed Prom deck
Enclosed Prom deck

Sadly though, it was soon time to leave this beautiful ship as she prepared to sail.  We were promised 3 blasts on her whistles when she sailed past the North Pier, and we watched them single her up and prepared to take our last pics.


The light was perfect and made her superstructure glow as it faded. She looked majestic as she made her final turn into the channel,

And as she came abaft of us, her whistle blasted her farewell, we answered with our puny car hooter, and from the bridge wing a solitary officer waved his farewell.

She would never again grace our shores, and if ever I get to Holland she is on my list. Ironically one of my friends who was on this visit was able to see her in Rotterdam and he said that she was still magnificent. 
Official postcard
Official postcard
 DRW © 2010-2020. Moved and recreated images 11/03/2016

MV Doulos. A personal view

I was fortunate that when I returned from my first cruise on the Achille Lauro in January 1987, there was another ship in the harbour to visit before I headed off back to Johannesburg.
While the Achille Lauro is no spring chicken, this oldie made her look young, built in 1914 as the SS Medina, the MV Doulos was the oldest active ocean faring passenger ship in the world until she was retired in 2009.
She was under the ownership of GBA (Good Books for All), a German Christian based charity that operates floating bookshops. Calling in Durban, the Doulos was berthed at Maiden Wharf from 11 Dec –  6 Jan,  and I was fortunate enough to go on board her. However, once again I was restricted by how much film I had, so images are scarce of this oldie. But, I think the pics I took on that occasion are probably the best.
GBA Official postcard
GBA Official postcard
There is no way that you could look at her and not see how old she was, inspite of the numerous alterations she endured over the years.
That beautiful old stern was a definite give away, it was the type of stern usually associated with sailing ships.
Doulos did not always look like this, she was originally built as a cargo ship in Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, and launched on 22 August 1914 and she survived both world wars! She first entered the passenger trade in 1948.
In 1952 she was acquired by Costa who re-engined and refurbished her, putting her back into service as the Franca C. Dolous is not a large vessel, and the Franca C soldiered on until disposed of in the 1970’s.
She was acquired by GBA and from then on she roamed the world, welcoming thousands of visitors wherever she went. She not only sold books though, but missionary teams went out into local communities to do their work and to bring a message of hope to the people that they encountered.
She was crewed by an all volunteer crew who paid to work on board her, and it was a very successful union between an old ship and an eager and dedicated workforce.
Once on board you could see her age, her lifeboat davits definitely being from a previous era. It was also said that in parts her plates were very thin and you could literally put your finger through them, but somehow I doubt it. American built ships were built very strongly, and she was very well maintained even though there was a limited budget available. I know I bought books on board her that day, and when I left I had a feeling that just maybe one day our paths would cross again.
My next encounter I cannot date positively, although I do recall the trip. My trusty ship book gives the date as 11 November 1993, but she was only in Durban from 24 November till 13 December, which means we probably saw her on 2 December when we were there for Marco Polo.
It was an important year for Doulos too as she was in Cape Town from 28 April to 15 November where she had major electrical work done, converting her from DC to AC as well as a much welcomed drydocking. The work was probably done by volunteers too, and she was often waived port duties by port authorities.   In total she spent 9 months of the year in South African waters.
The images I have of her are not as good as those I took before, in fact the difference may be related to the weather.
It was hard to say whether anything changed on board. I do know that the South African courtesy flag that she was flying would soon be on its way out.
She came to South Africa three more times before she was withdrawn from service in 2009, and her statistics are very impressive for the time that she was in service with GBA. Sadly though she would be doomed by SOLAS 2010, and faced with a large repair bill it was decided that the venerable ex freighter had reached the end of the line.
Or had she?
On March 18, 2010,  she became the property of  BizNaz Resources International
Pte Ltd in Singapore who planned to preserve the ship under the name Doulos Phos,  (Servant Light), In September 2013, she was towed from Singapore to  Batam, Indonesia to be refurbished before being  moving to the Island of Bintan to be part of a hotel resort. Whether these plans ever come to fruition, it is difficult to say, but somehow she may surprise us all, after all, she has been around over 100 years!
© DRW 2010-2018. Moved and recreated images 11/03/2016

Royal Viking Queen. A personal view

The Royal Viking Line is no more, but the legacy of their ships does live on. They were an upmarket cruise line and had very modern and pricey vessels. They also called in South Africa, usually on round Africa voyages. One of their new buildings was Royal Viking Queen, and we had an invite to see her. 
Company postcard
Company postcard

My trusty ship visit book lists her as calling in Durban on 28 November 1992, and we were there when she arrived. 
First impressions were of a small modern ship, and not really the sort of ship that would appeal to somebody like me who prefers something more traditional. She was built as one of 3 sisters, for Seabourn Cruises, (Seabourn Pride and Seabourn Pride), but she ended up being completed for Royal Viking instead as Royal Viking Queen. 
She had not been in service very long either, so we would get a good look at her workmanship too. The visit had been arranged beforehand, and we were well prepared with a plaque to present to the Master on the occasion of the call, and I often wonder if it still exists somewhere.
Once on board our jaws dropped because she was stunning. Very modern, but done with good taste. We had been given a small press pack to aid us on our walking tour of her, but as usual we headed down below and worked our way upwards, 
The one pervading memory I have of her was a lobby that was painted to resemble a four funnel liner, if you looked forward you would see 2 funnels, and if you looked aft the remaining 2 funnels. It was very well done and I really regret not having pics of it.
Her upper decks were clean and shiney with chrome and glass and light woodwork, there was more of a feel of yacht to her as opposed to a ship, and I believe that was the original intention.
On her foredeck was a Jacuzzi that must have been quite nice although it was literally on the front porch of the bridge and the forward suites. She also had a platform that could be lowered from her stern for people to enjoy water sports in ports where she did not go alongside.

She was really a pretty ship inside, but I think she may have been somewhat stuffy for anybody that did not come from the right background. The master was impressed with our plaque and handed us each a Royal Viking keyring as a memento, but alas, a burglary in 1999 saw most of my collection of those mementos stolen. I also recall that he had injured his hand and was very apologetic about the many plasters that his hand was covered in.

And then it was time for us to leave, and we hung around to watch her sail. The sun was starting to go down by then so we got those low light shots so beloved of Durban in good weather. 
She was quite a sight sailing from Durban, the sort of ship that you wish you could sail on, but know you will never be able to afford to.


I never saw her again after that, however in 2008 while in Hong Kong, I saw her sister: Seabourn Spririt.

She is still afloat somewhere, and as far as I am aware sailing under the name Seabourn Legend, having returned to the company that she was originally ordered for. She is due to enter service with Windstar in May 2015. Royal Viking Line ceased to exist in 1994. However, all of their ships are still in service.

DRW. © 2015-2020. Created 10/02/2015,  Moved and images recreated 10/03/2016

Kazakhstan II, a personal view

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
Operator postcard
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.  

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 there are still out there.
DRW © 2015-2020 Created 16/02/2015, moved and images recreated 11/03/2016.

Estrella Do Mar

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 2005.

Additional info available at Simplon Postcards, further information on her career, and photographs courtesy of Jonathan Boonzaier.

DRW ©  2004-2020. Page recreated 14/12/2008, moved to blog 02/03/2015

MV Royal Zulu

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
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
Royal Zulu as built

Eventually she was sold for breaking up (possibly in 1992) and 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 may be found at Simplon Postcards

© DRW 2004-2020. Recreated 02/04/2015

MV Infanta

It was very rare that we got a visit to a Safmarine vessel, and when the invitation came to visit the Infanta in Durban we jumped at the chance. Unfortunately I do not have a date for the visit, but I suspect it may have been at the same time as our Thor 1 visit. (01/05/1988) as I have an image of Infanta taken from Thor 1.

Infanta alongside
Infanta alongside

The image above may have been taken in 1988 too. I do recall she had a very long gangway and one of the people visiting with us went backwards down the gangway. She was very well appointed inside and her crew facilities were excellent. The ship was built in 1983 as MS Taurus (OIPU, LR/IMO 8122830) for Finland Steamship Company Ltd and that could explain her accommodation. Initially I did not find out too much on the ship, but I was contacted by Hans Heesakkers in December 2016 who pointed me to where I could find more information and close the book on her.

She did have a long life (and a number of names and owners) and was finally sent to the breakers in 2013 under the name Aalborg. Her sister: Recife, similarly has a history page, and she too was broken up in 2013.  

The following information about the Infanta was kindly sent to me by Cameron Mackenzie:

O.N. (18360-Li) 17848-88/IMO 8122830 Call Sign: 3EHE6 Port of Registry: Panama.

Tonnage: 24 518g/11 709n/37 425 S.Dwt Dim: 182,5 x 29,5 x 16,00 m / Draught Maximum 11,53 m. 5 Hold (9 hatch, 1 x single/4 x twin) general purpose ice strengthened 1104 TEU vessel fitted with 1 x 35/4 x 25t cranes, strengthened for heavy cargoes. Grain Capacity 42 012m³ / Bale Capacity 40 276m³

Engines: two stoke single acting – 6 cylinder 660 x 1400 Sulzer 6RLB66 12 820bhp (9 430 kW) Four blade controllable pitch propeller – 15 knots – 35,5 tonne fuel/d. 114 mt (do) / 1802 mt (hvf) Engine built by Sumitomo Heavy Industry Ltd., Tamashima/Japan. Fitted with 1 x 1080 kW shaft generator/2 x 1000 kW diesel generators.

01/12/1982 Keel laid as “TAURUS” (Y.N. 84) by Nippon Kokan K.K., Tsu/Japan for Finska Angfartygs A/B (EFFOA) (Finland Steamship Company Ltd.) Helsinki/Finland.

25/02/1983 Launched.

01/07/1983 Completed by builders Nippon Kokan K.K. Tsu/Japan as “TAURUS” (FIN) (Y.N. 84) (Call Sign: OIPU) for Finska Angfartygs A/B (EFFOA) (Finland Steamship Co. Ltd.,) Helsinki/Finland. Under the management of Oy Finncarriers AB Helsingfors/Finland.

1987 Transferred to Bahama registry, same name “TAURUS” (BHS).

20/01/1988 Acquired by South African Marine Corp. Ltd., Cape Town for $16 million from EFFOA and placed under the ownership of Argonaut Shipping Company Inc., Cayman Islands, renamed “INFANTA” (PAN) in Lisbon.

09/02/1988 Arrived in East London ex-Lisbon dry-dock to commence loading for the Safbank (S.A. – U.S.A) Service.

13/12/1994 Sold to mainland Chinese interests for $14,5m. Dry-docked 16-17/11/1994 in Bethship Beaumont, USA for inspection and handed over 16/12/1994 to Sinotrans (Wah Tung Shipping Agency Co. Ltd., Hong Kong), under ownership of Great Trans Shipping Inc., Panama, renamed “GREAT TRANS” (PAN).

1999 Time chartered to Egon Oldendorff/Lübeck/Germany, renamed “LEOPOLD OLDENDORFF” (HKG) , and transferred to Hong Kong registry, under ownership Great Trans Shipping Inc., Hong Kong.

04/2001 Renamed “GREAT TRANS” (HKG) by Great Trans Shipping Inc., Hong Kong.

24/07/2001 Sold to Navalmar (UK) Ltd. (,Navalmar (UK) Ltd., manager) London and renamed “TAURUS” (GBR).

04/2003 Transferred to Cayman Island registry, same named, “TAURUS (CYM).

06/2005 Transferred to Panamanian registry, under ownership of Kensington Shipping Corporation, same name “TAURUS” (PAN).

06/2005 Sold by Navalmar (UK) Ltd., Cayman Islands to Filscan Shipping Inc., Manila/Philippines (Roymar Ship Management Inc., TBS Ship Management Inc.,) and renamed “MAYA PRINCESS”(PHL) under Philippine registry.

13/03/2007 Transferred to Panamanian registry under ownership of Kensington Shipping Corporation, same name “MAYA PRINCESS” (PAN).

14/03/2007 Sold by Filscan Shipping Inc., Manila/Philippines to Dannebrog Rederi A/S, Rungstedt Kyst, (Dannebrog Rederi A/S, manager) Denmark) under ownership of Kensington Shipping Corp. Gibraltar (British), and renamed “AALBORG” (GIB).

20/10/2009 Management transferred to MACS Maritime Carrier Shipping, Hamburg/Germany.

10/01/2010 Management transferred to Vineta Bereederungs MBH, Hamburg/Germany.

13/04/2013 Arrived Alang/India having been sold for demolition. 15/04/2013 Beached and dismantling commenced.


Taken from another ship
Taken from another ship
Ready to go on board for our visit
Ready to go on board for our visit

I was not able to visit her sister Recife, although she was somewhat of a regular in and out of Durban.  

Once again Cameron Mackenzie provided me with the following on Recife:

O.N. (18347-NY) 18244-89 / IMO 8122828 Call Sign: 3EGR6 Port of Registry: Panama

Tonnage: 1988 – 24 891g/11 816n/37 425 S.Dwt. 1996 – 25 005g/10 741n/37 425 D.Dwt. Dim: 182,5 x 29,5 x 16,00 m / Draught Maximum 11,53 m

Eng: two stoke single acting – 6 cylinder 660 x 1400 Sulzer 6RLB66 12 820bhp (9 430 kW) Four blade controllable pitch propeller – 15 knots – 35,5 tonne fuel/d. Fuel 114 mt(do) / 1802 mt(hvf). Engine built by Sumitomo Heavy Industry Ltd., Tamashima/Japan. Fitted with 1 x 1080 kW shaft generator/2 x 1000 kW generators. 1104 TEU vessel fitted with 1 x 35/4 x 25t cranes, strengthened for heavy cargoes. Grain Capacity 41 012m³ / Bale Capacity 40 276m³. 5 Hold (9 hatch, 1 x single/4 x twin) general purpose ice strengthened

27/04/1983 Keel laid as “TELLUS” (Y.N. 85) by Nippon Kokan K.K., Tsu/Japan for Finska Angfartygs A/B (EFFOA) (Finland Steamship Company Ltd.) Helsinki/Finland.

12/09/1983 Launched. 

31/01/1984 Completed by builders Nippon Kokan K.K. Tsu/Japan as “TELLUS” (Fi) (Y.N. 85) (Call Sign: OIPV) for Finska Angfartygs A/B (EFFOA) (Finland Steamship Co. Ltd.,) Helsinki/Finland. Under the management of Oy Finncarriers AB Helsingfors/Finland.

1987 Transferred to Bahama registry, same name “TELLUS” (BHS).

08/01/1988 Acquired by South African Marine Corporation. Ltd., Cape Town for $16 million from EFFOA and placed under the ownership of Argonaut Shipping Company Inc., Cayman Islands, renamed “RECIFE” (PAN) in New York.

31/01/1988 Arrived in Cape Town from New York on the Safbank (SA – U.S.A.) Service.

01/02/1988 Naming ceremony in Table Bay Harbour by sponsor Mrs Gillian Van As.

10/09/1991 Safbank Line announced that a fire on board the “RECIFE”(PAN) on 07/09/1991 is believed to have started in a sealed container. Spreading, causing damage to both ship and cargo. Fire sustained by ship’s personnel without injury, vessel proceeding to the scheduled port of Wilmington(USA), where ship and cargo will be surveyed. In the interest of cargo, the vessel’s owners have declared General Average.

12/1995 Transferred to Safbulk and commenced conversion into a tar carrier, installation of two 3000 mt cargo tanks for liquid pitch with heating coils fitted for carriage at 220ºc with a pump rate of 300mt/h.

09/02/1996 Renamed “NTABENI” (PAN) by Mrs. Judy Barbour, wife of Alusaf M.G. Rob Barbour, general cargo ship / tar carrier with 4 holds / 2 holds with wing tanks fitted with heating coils, 2 holds.

07/04/1999 Acquisition of South African Marine Corporation Ltd., Cape Town (SAFMAN)(Non-Liner Division) by Enterprises Shipping & Trading S.A. Piraeus/Greece, sale back dated to 01/01/1999, “NTABENI” (PAN) sold. 11/2000 Transferred to Niagara Marine S.A. (Enterprises Shipping & Trading S.A. Piraeus/Greece) Panama, same name “NTABENI” (PAN).

11/2001 Transferred to Wexford Maritime S.A. (Enterprises Shipping & Trading S.A. Piraeus/Greece) Panama, same name “NTABENI” (PAN).

27/03/2013 Arrived Alang/India for demolition. 28/03/2013 Beached Alang and dismantling commenced.

Sister ship Recife underway in Durban
Sister ship Recife underway in Durban

© DRW 2015 – 2018. Created 30/03/2015, updated 06/12/2016 and 18/12/2016. Special thanks for Cameron MacKenzie and Hans Heesakkers for additional information.