Delphin is seen entering the port of IJmuiden at the 7th of may, 2014. Although Delphin Kreuzfahrten, for whom she was named Delphin was declared bankrupt in 2010, she is still sailing in their colours.
In the beginning of the 1970's, there were just a few cruiseliners built. Most ships sailing cruises were converted freighters or out of work liners from the declining Atlantic trade. There was a great surplus in passengerships so the need to build new ones was simply not there. Of course, every rule has to be broken by someone, and that someone in this case was the Sovjet company Black Sea Shipping Company. The Sovjets did very well in the passengertrades in the 1970's, especially with their five-ship Ivan Franco class of 20.000 tons from the 1960's. Those ships were designed for the Atlantic trade, but easily able to adapt to cruising too, and the last ships of the class were only used as cruiseliners. In the early 1970's, Black Sea Shipping Company was to upgrade their ferryservices in the Black Sea and a class of five 16.000-ton cruiseferries were ordered from the Wätsilä Wharf at Turku, Finland. The first of the class to be launched was named Belorussiya and all following four were equally named after Sovjet states or Autonome regions. Belorussiya was launched at the 6th of march 1974 and she was followed by Gruziya in the following october, Azerbaydzhan in april 1975, Kazakhstan in october 1975 and Kareliya in april 1976. Although they were designed for the Baltic Sea ferryservices, they were harly sailing any. It seemed far more lucrative to place them into cruiseservice in the same region, as well as in the Mediterranean Sea. The ships were far too luxurious for ferryservices and their cardecks seemed to be to small too.
Belorussiya, which became the later Delphin, measured 16.631 tons when she was introduced and had a lenght of 156,27 meters. She is 22,05 meters wide and is propelled by two screws powered by two 18-cylinder diesel engines that were designed by Wärtsilä. She could sail at as speed of 21,3 knots and was designed for 504 passengers in cabins and 505 deckpassengers. On her many cruises, this number was reduced to just 350 so those people had a lot of space available. Also, the cardeck had place for 256 cars or 23 trucks and there were 191 crewmembers aboard. She was delivered to Black Sea Shipping Company at the 15th of january 1975 and started her cruises in Europe under the flag of the Sovjet Union, homeported in Odessa. In 1980, the ship was chartered out to the British based CTC-Cruises for a scedule that brought her over to Australia. She and her sisters were mostly sailing charters for Western lines from the 1980's onwards, a very lucrative business for the Sovjet company to earn hard-value cash. In was somewhat strange, that those ships catered for the West mostly during those years of the Cold War. For the Sovjet crewmembers, it was also a chance to look beyond the iron curtain and get in touch with the enemy first-hand.
Above, Delphin is ready to dock at the first IJmuiden cruiseterminal at the 7th of may 2014.
In 1986, the ships cardeck was finally done away with, when more cabins were added here. Now, she was purely used as a cruiseliner for 650 passengers. The rebuilding took place at the Lloyd-werft at Bremerhaven, Germany and afterwards, she was again brought in western cruiseservice. Of course, a big change came in 1991, when the Sovjet Union broke apart in independent states and Odessa, the home-base of Black Sea Shipping Company, became a Ukrainian port. So now the ship flew also the flag of her new homecountry, although her homeport did not change. Her name was slightly changed though, she now was the Byelorussiya.
On the 25th of october 1992, there was an accident while she was in dock at Singapore and the ship capsized. She made water up to her boatdeck and it seedes that she was lost. But she was salvaged and rightened at the end of 1992 and afterwards she sailed for the Lloyd Werft at Bremerhaven to be rebuilt where she arrived at the 17th of may 1993. It was decided to totally rebuilt her interiour and also totally update the ship. So the accident was really the start of her new life, you can say. At the following 9th of december, she emerged with a new tonnage of 16.214 and a new capacity of 590 passengers and 210 crewmembers. She also recieved a new name, she now became Kazakhstan II for a charter to the German-based Delphin Seereisen.Her first cruise for them started at the 22nd of december 1993 and brought her from Genoa in Italy around Africa.
With all financial problems BLASCO faced in those years, the ship was bought by the Cyprus-based company Lady Lou Shipping and her new homeport became Limassol. Her charter to Delphin Seereisen was not ended, so for her not many things changed. At the 19th of may 1996, she was again sold, this time to Sea Delphin Shipping, based at Valetta, Malta. She also recieved still a new name, breaking with her Sovjet background as the Delphin. Sea Delphin Shipping was in fact Delphin Seereisen, so she now was owned by her former charterer.
From august 2003, she was chartered to the Israelian company Diesenhaus for cruises from Israel, but this only lasted for two months, when her charterers failed to pay the bills and the ship was arrested in Haifa, Israel. From december 2003 onwards, the ship was brought over to Hamburg, Germany and laid-up. A new charter came in february of 2004, when she started sailings for Hansa Kreuzfahrten, still under the name Delphin, as she was still owned by Delphin Seereisen. her first cruise from Bremerhaven started at the 10th of may 2004 and she kept sailing for Hansa untill 2010, when Delphin Seereisen was declared bankrupt. She was sold to the Indian company Vishal Cruises afterwards, but chartered out to the again German based Passat Kreuzfahten, for whom she sailed untill september the 2nd of 2014, when also Passat Cruises was declared bankrupt. Meanwhile, there also came in stories about the Delphin replacing the Athena in CMV Cruises charter to sail that companies Australian season, after the owner of the Athena, Classic International Cruises, went into administration. But because the ship had to be chartered on a very short notice, the sceme was abandonned even before it had taken place.
From january 2015 onwards, the Delphin has been chartered to the US Navy as a housing vessel for the crew of the USS Mount Whitney at the Viktor Lenac shipyard in Rijeka, Croatia. The US Naval ship was at that wharf for a long-term maintainance and overhaul to lenghten the 1969-built ships life untill 2039. USS Mount Whitney is the flagship of the Sixth Fleet. The charter had originally been signed untill august of 2015, but she was there untill the spring of 2016. In may 2016, Delphin was chartered to the Turkish company Etstur for at least three months in the summer for cruises out of the Turkish port of Izmir replacing the Aegean Paradise.