End of the road for the Delphin, as former Soviet cruise ship sold for scrap

Practically every cruise ship that ever set sail could tell a tale or two. But few can have such a history as Delphin. Once the dream destination for the Soviet elite, she somehow survived the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Finally, however, the years have caught up with her and Delphin’s next voyage will be her last.

Cold War luxury

Belorussiya was the first of five vessels originally built as Black Sea ferries in the mid 1970s. The luxurious passenger space and limited car carrying capacity led to the decision to transform them into luxury cruise ships for the Soviet elite and their families in the 1980s. Belorussiya had the work done in 1986 in Bremerhaven, Germany, and was renamed MV Delphin.

In this modern age of Unibet live casino games that we can play on our smartphones, we are a little blasé about playing roulette or baccarat for real money. 40 years ago, it was a different story, and the casino onboard was a place of mystery and intrigue as Delphin plied her trade, operating between Sydney and the Pacific Islands during the Australian summer and around Europe during the remainder of the year.

The post-Soviet years

When the Soviet Union collapsed, Delphin continued to sail under a Ukrainian flag till the mid 90s, when she went through several changes of ownership in a short period of time. She was refitted around the turn of the millennium and sold to an Argentine operator who aimed to provide cruises taking in a variety of South American destinations.

Unfortunately, that business went bankrupt before it could even get off the ground. Despite the costly refit, Delphin never welcomed cruise passengers again. At some point around 2010, she sailed to Rijeka in Croatia, and there, she served as a floating hotel for shipyard workers until 2017.

Delphin’s final voyage

Rijeka Commercial Court confirmed that Delphin has been sold by auction to pay off debts for electricity, water and so on that are outstanding from former owners. Five bids were submitted, and the winner was a recycling shipyard in Turkey. The buyers now have 30 days to pay the bid amount of €3.6 million. Assuming they do so, Delphin will make her final voyage to Turkey, where she will be broken up for scrap.

The rest of the fleet

As for Delphin’s sister ships, all followed similar paths throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s, starting out as Black Sea ferries and being converted to casino cruise ships. Gruziya was renamed Salamis Filoxenia in 2009 and is the last of the fleet that is still in use, cruising the Greek islands. She was fully refurbished in 2019.

Azerbaizhan went to the USA where she was renamed Enchanted Capri. She ran aground last year and her future is uncertain. Kazakhstan was sold for scrap in 2011, as was Kareliya, which is expected to be broken up this year having sailed casino cruises out of Hong Kong for the past two decades.