The famous MV Liemba was built in 1913 in Papenburg, Germany. She was then deconstructed and shipped to Tanzania in 5,000 wooden boxes. In Kigoma she was reconstructed and finished under the Name "Goetzen" on 5 February 1915, just when the World War I reached the Lake Tanganijka. In an (successful) attempt to save the ship from being destroyed in the war it was sunk on purpose near a river mouth by its builders. Already in 1916 it was recovered by the Belgians. In 1920 (due to a storm) it sunk (once more) in the harbor and it took the British until 1927 to recover it. From then on the MV Liemba is sailing on Lake Tanganyika (with a short interruption from 1970-1976). It is the only remaining ship of the WW1-era German navy still in service. Liemba is the name of Lake Tanganyika in Swaheli language, which several of the lakes adjoining countries share, hence the name.
It had some serious renovation done and took a break for a couple of month in 2014. The first sail after the renovation was succesfully completed from 1 October 2014 to 6 October 2014 (1 day delay). It should now be running every other week on Wednesdays (1 Oct, 15 Oct, etc.) at 4pm (this should not be seen as a precise time).
Try to contact the Liemba office in English (or Swaheli if you can) via email: bm.kigoma`at´mscl.go.tz The name of the contact person is Abel Giliard.
Tickets, prices and itineraries
It seems Mzungus are talked into 1st class. That said, the upgrade cost from 2nd to 1st (and even more so 3rd to 2nd) is very worth the price. There are ten 1st class cabins. Cabin #1 has two additional windows to the front, thus you can watch the scenery from the coziness of your own cabin. Also vibrations of the motor are much less notable than in the cabins further back. There is one more cabin to the front (#2? #6?) which shares these advantages.
This picture is from the office in Kigoma. It shows a price list of 2011. Though prices have increased (see Tickets) this should give an idea on what to expect. Also this may give an idea on the itinerary of MV Liemba.
A round trip starting from and ending in Kigoma on the MV Liemba takes about 5 days (plus the delay). Typical itineraries include the following (and vice versa):
A variety of cold local beer are available for a very reasonable TZS2,500 per bottle. Soft drinks and water are also sold.