Monday, December 15, 2014

Soviet Cruise Ship



My friend Kristine Gray went on a tour to Europe in 1984 that included a tour of the Baltics and the Soviet Union. She was so smart!

She has always loved history, but how could she have known that I needed the information from her high school era trip for a historical fiction series written thirty years later?





She's doubly smart to have taken pictures and loaded them into a scrapbook. She let me hold onto her book for two years, too. We went out for a three-hour dinner and I recorded her travel log on my phone.

Soviet Cruise Ship, Mikhail Kalinin

I had to show this picture to an Estonian friend who didn't believe me that such a thing existed. See the hammer and sickle? Yes. It is a Soviet cruise ship, devoid of all decoration. This picture captures the name of the ship. It has a wiki page.  Kristine said the accommodations were basic and utilitarian. Beds were made with rough sheets.
The library on board was stocked full of propaganda books about Afghanistan and the joyous Soviet life.




The Baltic Shipping Company.

You were only chosen to work on the ships if you had strong family ties to people who lived under Soviet rule. At port, a worker could only disembark with two other crew members. Defectors must be kept away from opportunity and temptation. The buddy system was a mandatory precaution.


Russian chocolate from the ship gift shop.

stamped bags from the ship gift shop




Kristine snuck some pictures before having to put the camera away. If you bring a camera into the customs area, it could be opened, exposing all the film. I guess the cameras had to be empty. There are areas forbidden to take pictures. Near tourist sites are okay, so you would have to use all your film to be safe.




The port building. Lenin is the first to welcome visitors.




Propaganda everywhere. Look at the happy, happy people pictured.




Only the old, who remembered religion, were in the Russian Orthodox church. The The Communist ideal outlawed religious practices, fearing it would unite people against the regime, and fearing that religion would be a source of power over the Soviet government.

Leningrad memorial in Victory Square.


I don't remember if this is a postcard. There is an underground memorial for all the people who survived the Nazi occupation and isolation for over two years. Roughly a million people died from starvation or bombings.




Above is a receipt for amber beads from Leningrad.




This one is from Tallinn, Estonia. These papers are tissue thin. The darker rectangle on both are from the lid of my scanner.


Kristine Makowski Gray, 1984
Thank you, Kristine, for going on your cruise when you were a teen. Here she is posing with the cliffs of Dover behind her.





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