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.
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.
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.
DRW © 2011-2020. Moved and recreated images 11/03/2016