Lives of the Liners: Like Old Movie Stars, They're Were Old Cunarders. "They're old. They're mechanically exhausted. They're shabby and quite dismal on the inside. They need lots of repairs - and expensive ones. But there's simply no money whatsoever for Ukrainian ships, especially old passenger ships," so wrote my Italian friend, cruise journalist & photographer Antonio Scrimali in the spring of 1997. He was referring to two former Soviet cruise ships, the 22,500-ton Feodor Shalyapin and her sister, the Leonid Sobinov. Both were laid-up at the time, moored in remote Ilichevsk along the Black Sea. The Shalyapin had been there since February 1995; the Sobinov since the following October. Their ownership by then had become rather murky -- the Shalyapin was registered to the Black Sea Shipping Company, based in Odessa, but using a Maltese flag; the Sobinov was listed to the Transorient Shipping Company, which also used the Maltese colors. Both ships had been Cunarders - the 608-ft long Salyapin was the Ivernia and then the Franconia; the Sobinov sailed as the Saxonia and later as the Carmania.
Years before, in August 1993, I tried to go aboard the Feodor Shalyapin one afternoon at the big passenger terminal at Naples. We were visiting, berthed on the opposite side, aboard the otherwise gleaming Crystal Harmony. "I would like to admit you aboard our ship," said a sturdy Ukrainian seamen posted to the gangway. "But I cannot. I am too ashamed of our ship. She is old, dark & dirty onboard." That sailor was also selling empty wine bottles & rusted tools to anyone who walked along the pierside.
Texto e imagens / Text and images copyright Bill Miller. Favor não piratear. Respeite o meu trabalho / No piracy, please. For other posts and images, check our archive at the right column of the main page. Click on the photos to see them enlarged. Thanks for your visit and comments. Luís Miguel Correia