Category: Farewell to…

Farewell Cornouailles, Havelet, Sveti Stefan

The Sveti Stefan of Montenegro Lines, originally Brittany Ferries’ Cornouailles of 1977, this afternoon arrived off Aliaga in Turkey prior to being scrapped.

The ship had been ordered by Brittany Ferries from the Trondheim Mekaniske Værksted following the company’s earlier charter of the Prince de Bretagne (ex-Falster, later Vega), which had been delivered by the Norwegian shipyard two years earlier. The Prince de Bretagne had lacked sufficient passenger space and was considered prone to rolling in even moderate seas but the French evidently saw enough in the basic design to order a similar vessel for themselves. Although the Cornouailles was built with significantly more accommodation, she did inherit some of the poor seakeeping characteristics of her half-sister and, most notably, nearly sank in an incident off Cork in 1992 when, in one of her final periods of service back with Brittany Ferries, she encountered a “freak wave” and barely made it into port.

The design of the Cornouailles was derived from that of the Prince de Bretagne (ex-Falster). She is seen as the Vega at Corfu in 1999.

The design of the Cornouailles was derived from that of the Prince de Bretagne (ex-Falster). That ship is seen as the Vega at Corfu in 1999; she was scrapped at Aliaga in 2004.

The Cornouailles replaced the smaller Penn-Ar-Bed as the mainstay of the Roscoff-Plymouth route but passenger traffic continued to grow and, in 1984, she was chartered out to SNCF for two years, being replaced in BF service by the Benodet (1984) and Tregastel (1985). Painted in full SNCF livery, the ship replaced the smaller Valencay and served as one of two French ships on the Dieppe-Newhaven operation, alongside the Chartres and the British Senlac.

Returing to her owners in January 1986 she initiated freight-only service on the new Ouistreham-Portsmouth route before being deployed that summer on a new passenger option on the Cherbourg-Poole Truckline operation that Brittany Ferries had acquired the previous year. This proved successful and for 1989 the ship was replaced by the Tregastel and transferred to BF’s other affiliate, British Channel Island Ferries, and renamed the Havelet. There she would begin over a decade of service to the islands, running as second ship to the Rozel (ex-St Edmund) between 1989 and 1992 and the Beauport (ex-Prince of Fundy, Reine Mathilde) from 1992 to 1993. When BCIF was taken over by rivals Condor/Commodore in 1994 she operated in support of the car-carrying catamarans until the arrival of the new Commodore Clipper in late 1999, after which she was laid up.

The Havelet eventually found a buyer in the form of Montenegro Lines, who had inherited the Bar-Bari route of Prekookeanska Plovidba which had maintained a car ferry service since the 1960s. The original ship, the first Sveti Stefan (ex-Djursland) operated on the route for three decades and, for a brief period in the 1980s, was joined by the Njegos – a ship which subsequently followed the Cornouailles in service at Roscoff and Poole as the Tregastel.

In 2003 Montenegro Lines acquired a second passenger ship in the shape of the Sveti Stefan II, originally the third Prinz Hamlet and latterly Polferries’ Nieborow. A shorter derivation of the KEH design that had produced the Gustav Vasa (later Norrona) and Nils Dacke (Quiberon), the ship was deployed primarily on the longer crossing from Bar to Ancona. The two ships operated together for a decade until, in early 2013, the newly-published summer timetables indicated that only a one-ship service would be offered to Bari with the Ancona route closed. The Sveti Stefan II was retained and the smaller Sveti Stefan was sold for scrap. Having maintained the core service through the winter, the ship made her final scheduled sailing from Bari to Bar on 16 April. Arriving the next morning, she was promptly destored and sailed straight for Aliaga just two days later.

I first travelled on the ship as part of a three-day visit to Montenegro in the summer of 2003. The Adriatic ferry scene has changed much in those ten years and most of the old ships we encountered on that trip have succumbed to the breakers. We had disembarked in the morning in Brindisi from the venerable Poseidonia of Hellenic Mediterranean Lines, the most famous of all Greek operators themselves no longer with us. That ship was originally the Belfast Steamship Co’s Ulster Queen of 1967 and we arrived in a Brindisi which, that summer, was served by an array of aged tonnage which once served the British Isles such as the Kapetan Alexandros (ex-Doric Ferry), Media V (ex-Viking I), Egnatia III (ex-Saint Killian II) and Penelope A (ex-European Gateway).

After taking the train up to Bari we walked around the breakwater to inspect the Orestes (ex-Cerdic Ferry) which was enduring the long lay up which preceded her final demise. Not long removed from the port was the abandoned Sirio (ex-Cambridge Ferry) whilst in regular service were the Dubrovnik (ex-Duchess Anne), Marko Polo (ex-Zeeland), Azzurra (ex-Olau West), Siren (ex-Dana Gloria) and Polaris (ex-Dana Futura). The ship which had been replaced by the Cornouailles during her two year SNCF charter, the Valencay (by then the Pollux) was in her final season running from Bari to Albania whilst Marlines operated the sole rival operation to Montenegro using their Duchess M, once the Cornouailles’ Brittany Ferries fleetmate the Breizh-Izel.

The Duchess M (ex-Breizh-Izel) at Bari in 2007 in a picture taken from the pontoon berth used by the Sveti Stefan.

On that first crossing the budget did not stretch beyond a place on deck and, after a brief inspection of the accommodation inside, we set up camp for the night on her port side promenade deck. As we sailed to Bar, the ship encountered what appeared to be tremendous seas, and she rocked and rolled alarmingly through the night. We woke the next morning, with our sleeping bags covered in sea salt, to another beautiful and perfectly calm day and with the Duchess M following us into port. Already alongside was Montenegro Lines’ little freighter the Alba, which in an earlier life had served the UK as the Neckartal on charter to Sealink and, latterly worked for Schiaffino Line.

During our 2003 visit to Montenegro we stayed up the coast at Budva, and were able to stop briefly en-route at the small island town of Sveti Stefan after which the ships are named – well, we were able to stop outside it, for the island itself is a private and exclusive hotel, perhaps not the best situation for one of Montenegro’s most famous tourist sights.

Sveti Stefan itself, 30km along the coast from Bar.

Sveti Stefan itself, 30km along the coast from Bar.

Seven years later I had the opportunity to sail on the Sveti Stefan and Sveti Stefan II once more, the former from Bar to Bari on the night of the 2010 football World Cup Final, which delayed departure from port as the crew preferred to wait and watch the conclusion before setting sail. The pictures below are from that sailing and the ship remained in satisfactory condition given her age and limited size – and certainly a world away from the fairly squalid state of her fleetmate.

The Sveti Stefan and Sveti Stefan II together at Bar.

The Sveti Stefan and Sveti Stefan II together at Bar.

A close look at the ship's funnel reveals the painted-over original Brittany Ferries' markings.

A close look at the ship's funnel reveals the painted-over original Brittany Ferries markings.

Bar's modern ferry terminal, whose excellent restaurant provides a much superior dining experience than that generally enjoyed aboard the ships of Montenegro Lines.

Bar's modern ferry terminal, whose excellent restaurant provides a rather superior dining experience to that generally enjoyed aboard the ships of Montenegro Lines.

An afternoon scene on the pier in Bar.

An afternoon scene on the pier in Bar.

Approaching the ship to board our evening sailing to Bari.

Approaching the ship to board our evening sailing to Bari.

The ship's compact main vehicle deck with the ramp leading to the upper deck visible.

The ship's compact main vehicle deck with the ramp leading to the upper deck visible.

The upper car deck...

The upper car deck...

...complete with old-style turntable at the forward end to assist with manoeuvring vehicles.

...complete with old-style turntable at the forward end to assist with manoeuvring vehicles.

For this crossing we had booked a four-berth cabin; as with many of the cabins aboard, this had a basin but no en-suite bathroom.

For this crossing we had booked a four-berth room; as with most of the cabins aboard, this had a basin but no en-suite bathroom.

Across the corridor were public showers.

Across the corridor were public showers, still with original signage.

Cabin signage.

Cabin signage.

A Havelet-era safety plan with the present name surreptitiously added by sticker.

A Havelet-era safety plan with the present name surreptitiously added by sticker.

Passengers crowd into the lounge area to watch football.

Passengers crowd into the lounge area to watch football.

Heading out on deck, the Sveti Stefan II was laying over until her next sailing to Ancona.

Heading out on deck, the Sveti Stefan II was laying over until her next sailing to Ancona a couple of days later.

Early the following morning, the ship was back on time and motoring towards Bari.

Early the following morning, the ship was back on time and motoring towards Bari.

Turning into port.

Turning into port.

The port-side promenade where, back in 2003, we had spent the night out on deck, sleeping on the lifebelt lockers as the ship rolled and pitched her way across the Adriatic.

The port-side promenade where, back in 2003, we had spent the night out on deck, sleeping on the lifebelt lockers as the ship rolled and pitched her way across the Adriatic.

Heading back inside, this is the lobby area on Deck 3; the room to the right was serving as an additional shop but was marked on the Condor-era deckplan as a cinema. Other than this, the ship was largely unchanged from her days serving the Channel Islands.

Heading back inside, this is the lobby area on Deck 3; the room to the right was serving as an additional shop but was marked on the Condor-era deckplan as a cinema. Other than this, the ship was largely unchanged from her days serving the Channel Islands.

The rather gloomy kids play area.

The rather gloomy kids play area.

Up on Deck 4, aft was this large seating lounge.

Up on Deck 4, aft was this large seating lounge.

Moving forward, this starboard-side arcade connected the main public spaces - the entrance to the Clipper Restaurant is on the left.

Moving forward, this starboard-side arcade connected the main public spaces - the entrance to the Clipper Restaurant is on the left.

The Clipper Restaurant.

The Clipper Restaurant.

Looking aft in the large space forward on Deck 4, which in addition to the pictured central area was divided into several smaller sections with the Wheelhouse Coffee Bar (to port), Compass Bar (to starboard) and a comfortable seating area forward.

Looking aft in the large space forward on Deck 4, which in addition to the pictured central area was divided into several smaller sections with the Wheelhouse Coffee shop (to port), Compass Bar (to starboard) and a comfortable seating area forward.

Coffee shop serving area.

Coffee shop serving area.

Coffee Shop.

Coffee shop.

Forward seating area.

Forward seating area.

The Compass Bar on the starboard side.

The Compass Bar on the starboard side.

This further reclining seat lounge was located forward on Deck 5.

This further reclining seat lounge was located forward on Deck 5.

Our ship reflected in Bari's passenger terminal.

Our ship reflected in Bari's passenger terminal.

The Cornouailles was a workmanlike, unglamorous ship, almost always overshadowed by her fleetmates. She was rarely given first ranking – whether it be the Armorique, the Senlac and Chartres, the Rozel, the Beauport, the Condor fast cats or, latterly, the larger Sveti Stefan II, she was always a useful second ship, able to economically cover the routes with lower loads and with less expectations. Only when she headed up the Truckline passenger service and her initial period with Montenegro Lines (2000 to 2003) was she the lead ship. Yet this was still a useful function – she was able to set up new operations and, latterly, maintained Montenegro Lines’ services year round when the use of the larger vessel could not be justified. In her final guise, she also played an important part in the recovery of Montenegro’s tourist industry which had been shattered by the Balkan wars.

Time catches up with all ships in the end, however, and in a continuingly difficult economic climate Montenegro Lines’ downsizing meant the Sveti Stefan had to make way. There was a hope that, as with some other ferries, she might get a reprieve, that some entrepreneurial operator might see some worth in her as she sailed past Piraeus for Aliaga. But it was not to be. She sailed on, under her own power and only a couple of days after carrying her final passengers – a workhorse to the end.

Farewell Svealand, Stena Seatrader, Seatrade

. . .


A couple of weeks ago Ventouris Ferries’ Seatrade departed for scrapping, under the name Sea Project. The ship, originally delivered in 1973, had operated for the Greek company on the Igoumenitsa-Bari route for the past three years, before which she enjoyed a 35-year north European career. For the first 16 years she traded on Sweden-Germany routes, initially as a train ferry, before a sale to Stena Line in 1989 preceded nearly two decades of UK service, as a freighter on the North and Irish Seas.

Shortly before the end I joined the Seatrade for a heavily-laden crossing to Italy. Ventouris Ferries are a peculiar operation who for several years had operated a pair of former DFDS ro-paxes on the Bari route in the Siren (ex-Dana Gloria, 1976) and her lengthened sister Polaris (ex-Dana Futura, 1975). The arrival of the Seatrade for 2009 displaced the Siren, which went for scrap in 2010; the Polaris followed in early 2011. This left the Seatrade, the eldest and, from a passenger perspective, by some distance the least agreeable of the trio and for the summer of 2011 she was paired with the chartered Olympus (ex-Ropax 2).

The realities of the Ventouris Ferries business on the Igoumenitsa route are clear from these moves – this is a company which is predominantly focussed on freight and the passenger market they most enjoy is “camping on board” in which passengers drive their camper vans aboard and, for the most part, stay there. Freight drivers are, of course, welcome but there doesn’t seem to be much desire to cater for motorists, less still foot passengers, and the company website reflects this, barely mentioning the Bari-Igoumenitsa route and instead being almost totally dedicated to the more mainstream Bari-Durres (Albania) operation.

At peak season, and with the limited space aboard the Seatrade, it proved rather difficult to find tickets for her on our crossing but we managed to secure a pair of places on deck. Having observed the ship’s arrival at Igoumenitsa from Bari in the morning we sailed over to Corfu for the day, returning to embark a couple of hours before the scheduled departure time at which point the loading of freight was already in full swing. The difficulties of squeezing a near-full load of freight and camper vans onto the ship were demonstrated by the prolonged period over which this process took – having commenced at around 5pm the ship did not depart until past 10pm, over an hour late.

Below are some pictures from one of the more memorable crossings of 2011.

Link: Stena Seatrader, 1995 profile deckplan

The Seatrade, arriving from Bari in the morning, reverses onto her berth in Igoumenitsa.

The Seatrade, arriving from Bari in the morning, reverses onto her berth in Igoumenitsa.

The offices of Milano Travel, Ventouris Ferries' local agents, where they display a selection of fine images of scrapped Ventouris ships in the Polaris, Athens and Siren.

The offices of Milano Travel, Ventouris Ferries' local agents, where they display a fine selection of images of scrapped Ventouris ships in the Polaris, Athens and Siren.

Boarding the Seatrade over the main vehicle deck with the base of the railway lines still clearly visible. Until very late in the ship's Stena ownership the rails remained intact, with wooden boarding surrounding them.

Boarding the Seatrade over the main vehicle deck with the base of the railway lines still clearly visible. Until very late in the ship's Stena ownership the rails remained intact, with wooden boarding surrounding them - they were removed in 2007.

Embarking foot passengers ascend all the way to the top freight deck - where they find the former aft docking bridge...

Embarking foot passengers ascended all the way to the top freight deck to the former aft docking bridge...

... latterly in use as a reclining seat lounge.

... latterly in use as a reclining seat lounge.

The international terminal at Igoumenitsa.

Seen from the Seatrade is Igoumenitsa's international ferry terminal.

The top deck during loading. This was primarily used for tourist vehicles and, in particular, passengers "camping on board".
Some lorries were also squeezed in here...

Some lorries were also squeezed in up here...

Access forward from the aft bridge area was via this narrow alleyway alongside the camper vans on the port side. It appears a few passengers never got this far - the following morning some who had overnighted in the aft bridge enquired if "there was anywhere else" on board!

In a bid to increase the ship's passenger capacity, a pair of charming "lounges" were added on former open deck space, just aft of the bridge wings - here is the starboard side version.

In a bid to increase the ship's passenger capacity, a pair of charming 'lounges' were added on former open deck space, just aft of the bridge wings - here is the starboard side version.

The recesses beneath the lifeboats provided a small area of traditional outside deck space.

The recesses beneath the lifeboats provided a small area of traditional outside deck space.

Aft of the saloons on decks 7 and 8 were a variety of cabins, many of which had been spruced up by Stena in the ship's 2007 refit.

Aft of the saloons on decks 7 and 8 were a variety of cabins, many of which had been spruced up by Stena in the ship's 2007 refit.

At some stage the ship lost her small sauna, which is seen here in late 2006, before both the final Stena and Ventouris refits.

At some stage the ship lost her small sauna, which is seen here in late 2006, before both the final Stena and Ventouris refits.

Forward on Deck 8 was the former cafeteria, complete to the end with its Stena 'Truckers Lounge' identity.

Forward on Deck 8 was the former cafeteria, complete to the end with its Stena 'Truckers Lounge' identity.

Truckers Lounge bar counter; out of picture to the right is the small cafeteria servery area.

Truckers Lounge bar counter; out of picture to the right is the small, enclosed, cafeteria servery area.

Another view, looking across from the starboard side.

Another view, looking across from the starboard side.

The deck below, Deck 7, featured this lower lounge.

The deck below, Deck 7, featured this lower lounge.

Ventouris installed this small additional lounge, complete with bar and reception desk, aft of the forward saloon on Deck 7.

Ventouris installed this small additional lounge, complete with bar and reception desk, aft of the forward saloon on Deck 7.

Time to head below decks...

Time to head below decks...

The cabins on Deck 2 were used until very near the end in the Stena days but, with Ventouris, they were abandoned and derelict.

Moving back up a deck, Deck 3 was the main freight deck.

Moving back up a deck, Deck 3 was the main freight deck.

This still bore many clear signs that the ship had once been a train ferry.

This still bore many clear signs that the ship had once been a train ferry.

Deck 3 - looking aft from adjacent to the centre casing.

Deck 3 - looking aft from adjacent to the centre casing.

On board the ship during the Stena days, before the railway lines were properly removed.

On board the ship during the Stena days, before the railway lines were properly removed.

Later in the crossing, this view shows the stern door closed with some of the tourist traffic collected in Corfu just in front.

Later in the crossing, this view shows the stern door closed with some of the tourist traffic collected in Corfu just in front.

The second freight deck, Deck 5.

The second freight deck, Deck 5.

In one part of this deck there appeared to be evidence of there having been a lorry fire at some stage during Ventouris service.

In one part of this deck the charred deckhead appeared to indicate that, at some stage, there had been a lorry fire.

Returning to the top freight deck via the funnel casing.

Returning to the top freight deck via the funnel casing.

Some interesting gas cylinders could be found here...

Some interesting gas cylinders could be found here...

... test stamped March 1972.

... test stamped March 1972.

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Back on the top vehicle deck, with loading still progressing slowly.

Back on the top vehicle deck, with loading still progressing slowly.

Other, more mainstream, competitors came and went as we slowly squeezed our heavy load of freight on board.

Other, more mainstream, competitors came and went as we slowly squeezed our heavy load of freight on board.

Night fell and the bolted-on plastic seating areas turned a lovely shade of blue, a lighting choice more commonly associated with landlords trying to drive away drug addicts.

Night fell and the bolted-on plastic seating areas turned a lovely shade of blue, a lighting choice more commonly associated with landlords trying to drive away drug addicts.

The engines are ramped up for departure and a huge plume of acrid smoke comes out of the old ship's funnel.

The engines are ramped up for departure and a huge plume of acrid smoke comes out of the old ship's funnel.

The ship's bell.

The ship's bell.

Sunrise the following morning - it comes as no surprise to learn we are running four hours late.

Sunrise the following morning - it comes as no surprise to learn we are running four hours late.

Those passengers who have spent the night wrapped up against the cold on the aft docking bridge wing wake to the first signs of another beautiful day.

Those passengers who have spent the night wrapped up against the cold on the aft docking bridge wing wake to the first signs of another beautiful day.

Down on Deck 5 the difficulties in loading the ship are shown in just how tightly packed together the lorries are.

Down on Deck 5 the difficulties in loading the ship are shown in just how tightly packed together the lorries are.

Time to get the camping stove out and cook breakfast...

Time to get the camping stove out and cook breakfast...

Finally the great port of Bari is in sight; we are headed for the modern terminal used by the Greek ferries and cruise ships but on the berth at the older terminal are vessels on routes to Albania, Croatia and Montenegro. From left to right: Bari (ex-St Anselm), Riviera Adriatica (ex-Daedalus), Ionian Sky, Ankara and Sveti Stefan (ex-Cornouailles).

Finally the great port of Bari is in sight; we are headed for the modern terminal used by the Greek ferries and cruise ships but on the berths at the older terminal are vessels on routes to Albania, Croatia and Montenegro. From left to right: Bari (ex-St Anselm), Riviera Adriatica (ex-Daedalus), Ionian Sky, Ankara and Sveti Stefan (ex-Cornouailles).

The Superfast II, deployed on Bari-Igoumenitsa-Patras route, overtook us shortly after sunrise and is already fully unloaded by the time we approach our berth.

The Superfast II, deployed on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Bari route, overtook us shortly after sunrise and is already fully unloaded by the time we approach our berth.

Embarkation of the Bari pilot.

Embarkation of the Bari pilot.

Safely on the berth - four hours, forty minutes late.

Safely on the berth - four hours, forty minutes late.

Fin.

Farewell Viking Voyager, Pride of Cherbourg, Banaderos, Barlovento, Samothraki

The Samothraki leaving Mytilene in July 2007.

The recent arrival of the Samothraki (ex-Viking Voyager) at Aliagia in Turkey for scrapping was perhaps not in itself a surprise but her demise, together with that a couple of years ago of her stretched sisters (the former Vikings Valiant and Venturer) leaves only the present Vitsentzos Kornaros (ex-Viking Viscount) of the quartet of ferries delivered to Townsend Thoresen in 1975/76 by Aalborg Vaerft in Denmark.

Somewhat surprisingly, the class has actually been out-survived by the generation of ships they were designed to replace – Thoresen’s original Viking trio of which two remain, only the pioneer Viking I having been dismantled, in 2008 after a legendary 44 year career. Her sister, the Viking II, later Earl William, now somewhat battered, survives in static use at Chaguaramas in Trinidad. The Viking III of 1965 meanwhile remains in service on one of Southern Europe’s more notorious ferry backwaters – the route between Brindisi in Southern Italy and Vlore in Albania.

The careers of these seven Vikings show just how the destinies of individual ships are affected by acts, if not quite of luck then certainly by events outside which the performance of an individual vessel can have a substantial impact. I last sailed on the Samothraki in 2007 and she was in perfectly good order and one would have bet on her running on her operations in the North Aegean for many years to come. The sudden and spectacular demise of her owners, SAOS Ferries, and the laying up of essentially their entire fleet in late 2008 saw her decline through neglect from serviceable flagship to unwanted scrapper.

Through whatever channels SAOS had managed to build up their network of subsidised routes, things came crashing down around the company and the Samothraki ended her days in Greece virtually abandoned in Alexandroupoli. One found it hard to imagine that this well-built and reliable ship would never operate again but the decay which sets in quickly in such circumstances evidently overtook her. The dismal state of the Greek economy meant local buyers with cash to invest were few and far between and it eventually became apparent that the ship’s future lay only at the scrapyard.

The Viking Voyager and Viking Viscount were originally delivered for operation on Townsend Thoresen’s Felixtowe-Zeebrugge service and they remained there until 1986 when, replaced by a pair of converted Stena Searunner class freighters, they moved West to operate from Portsmouth alongside their recently-stretched sisterships, the latter pair covering primarily the Le Havre run with the unstretched sisters operating to Cherbourg. Renamed Pride of Cherbourg in 1989, the ship was sold to Lineas Fred. Olsen for Canaries service in 1994, with her sister going to LANE Lines of Greece.

Fred. Olsen looked after the ship well, but after bearing the names Banaderos and Barlovento, she was replaced in 2005 and acquired by SAOS and renamed Samothraki, effectively replacing the former Vortigern in their fleet. In her initial summer season, still with a white hull, the ship could be found regularly in the Port of Piraeus, not too far from the berth of her sister. Thereafter however the Samothraki was focused on operations in the far northern Aegean, and by 2007 one could island hop around these relatively remote islands on the SAOS local fleet including the Samothraki, the Express Limnos (ex-Prins Philippe) and the rather less agreeable Panagia Soumela (ex-Lady of Mann) – a ship whose own final voyage to the scrapyard is imminent.

It is in this busy time, not long before the sudden end, that I will remember the ship. I made three sailings on her in the Summer of 2007 as we explored the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samothraki and Limnos and the onboard pictures below were taken during this period. Although in the late 1980s P&O subjected the original, quite funky, interiors to an overlayering of light wood veneers, pastel seating and conservative decor, the ship’s basic layout changed little over the years. She retained the bulk of that P&O-era look until the end, with a few Fred. Olsen tweaks here and there. As the Vitsentzos Kornaros, the ship’s sister operates with some minimal subdivision as a two class vessel but SAOS never tried to implement this on the Samothraki and passengers were given a free run of the ship.

Seen from the departing Panagia Soumela, the Samothraki at Kavala on July 18, 2007.

Seen from the departing Panagia Soumela, the Samothraki at Kavala on July 18, 2007.

Looking aft in the forward section of the main passenger deck, with the bar and seating areas.

Looking aft in the forward section of the main passenger deck, with the bar and seating areas.

A little further aft and here is the reception desk area with the old shops, little used in SAOS service, to starboard.

A little further aft and here is the reception desk area with the old shops, little used in SAOS service, to starboard.

The self service seating area, amidships on Deck 6 (originally C Deck).

The self service seating area, amidships on Deck 6 (originally C Deck).

On the starboard side, with a playroom now installed in the former drivers' area.

On the starboard side, with a playroom now installed in the former drivers' area.

Food doesn't seem to be served here very often...

Food doesn't seem to be served here very often...

Right aft, the former restaurant with its associated cocktail bar - an arrangement which, as built, was similar in concept to the forward Smörgåsbord restaurants of other 1970s ferries such as the Gustav Vasa, Nils Dacke, Prince of Fundy and Prins Oberon.

Right aft, the former restaurant with its associated cocktail bar - an arrangement which, as built, was similar in concept to the forward Smörgåsbord restaurants of other 1970s ferries such as the Gustav Vasa, Nils Dacke, Prince of Fundy and Prins Oberon.

Right aft.

Right aft.

Moving upstairs to Deck 7, forward was the former Club lounge, installed by P&O in what had originally been an area of cabins.

Moving upstairs to Deck 7, forward was the former Club Lounge, installed by P&O in what had originally been an area of cabins.

Up on Deck 8 were a pair of lounges, the forward of which is seen here. This originally housed an open area of couchettes but latterly was a reclining seat lounge with P&O.

Up on Deck 8 were a pair of lounges, the forward of which is seen here. This originally housed an open area of couchettes but latterly was a reclining seat lounge with P&O.

Heading aft again, this lounge was added to the ship early in her career and previously served as a cinema.

Heading aft again, this space was added to the ship early in her career and previously served as a cinema.

Looking over the ship's prow in the mainland port of Kavala.

Looking over the ship's prow in the mainland port of Kavala.

The forward outside deck area.

The forward outside deck area.

Aalborg builder's plate.

Aalborg builder's plate.

Starboard side promenade deck.

Starboard side promenade deck.

The view forward on Deck 9.

Astern on Deck 7.

Astern on Deck 7.

Foot passengers disembarking by the stairs aft, accessed via the upper vehicle deck.

Foot passengers disembarking by the stairs aft, accessed via the upper vehicle deck.

The demise of the Samothraki, the impending scrapping of the Romilda (ex-Free Enterprise VIII) and the abandonment in Vlore of the Veronica Line (ex-Free Enterprise V) leaves just the Vitsentzos Kornaros from Townsend Thoresen’s early/mid 1970s newbuild programme within easy reach. These ships, whilst in some ways less stylish and built nearer to the margins than their Sealink rivals, were and are representative of the market-dominating private ferry company of the age and helped lay the foundations for the ongoing strength of P&O today – albeit now shorn of both the Western Channel and Belgian routes that the Super Vikings were designed to operate.

Although her demise was prolonged, the end of operations for the Samothraki was rather sudden. And, whilst the Vitsentzos Kornaros has now operated reliably for ANEK-controlled LANE Lines for nearly as long as she sailed from the UK, the state of the Greek economy means that nothing is certain anymore. Indeed, LANE’s current three-year subsidy agreement (agreed in 2009) supposedly requires at some stage the replacement of the ‘VK’ – therefore anyone who wants to experience one of these James Ayers-designed ships really should try to sail on her sooner rather than later.

The Vitsentzos Kornaros in dry dock in Piraeus, November 2010.

The Vitsentzos Kornaros in dry dock in Piraeus, November 2010.

The Samothraki departs.

Mediterranean Massacre – Part One

The revised SOLAS (Safety of Life At Sea) regulations which came into force on 30 September were expected to cause several casualties, but the speed and number of older ferries which have been sent straight for scrapping has still been quite startling.

Although we will take a more detailed look at a couple of these ships in due course, for now here is a quick run down of both the higher-profile 2010 Southern Europe scrappers and a few lesser lights which passed for demolition with little remark or remorse. In a second post there will be a look at those ships which could be next – assuming more haven’t passed over in the meantime.

Starting in the west and the Sara I (ex-Djursland II) was despatched by COMARIT before the Summer even began. She spent her final years owned by El Salam but, on charter, she was a regular on Moroccan routes until the end.

Starting in the west and the Sara I (ex-Djursland II) was despatched by COMARIT before the Summer even began. She spent her final years owned by El Salam but, on charter, she was a regular on Moroccan routes until the end.

Sara I.

Sara I.

Of the four ferries Stena had built in Yugoslavia in the early 1970s now only one, the Scotia Prince (ex-Stena Olympica) survives. 2010 saw the end for the Euroferrys Atlantica (ex-Stena Jutlandica). Slightly grim towards the end, her teak-lined promenade deck was still one of the best in the business.

Of the four ferries Stena had built in Yugoslavia in the early 1970s only one, the Scotia Prince (ex-Stena Olympica) now survives. 2010 saw the end for the Euroferrys Atlantica (ex-Stena Jutlandica). Slightly grim towards the end, her teak-lined promenade deck was still one of the best in the business.

For over 20 years the Ouzoud (ex-Fedra, Peter Pan (1974)) was one of the most recognisable ferries in Southern Europe. 15 years with Minoan Lines was followed by a sale to El Salam where she remained on charter to COMANAV for their Tangier-Genoa line. As with the Sara I, the COMANAV-COMARIT tie-up allowed the ship to be returned to her owners, who immediately sent her for scrapping in India.

For over 20 years the Ouzoud (ex-Fedra, Peter Pan (1974)) was one of the most recognisable ferries in Southern Europe. 15 years with Minoan Lines were followed by a sale to El Salam, who chartered her seasonally to COMANAV for their Tangier-Genoa line. As with the Sara I, the COMANAV-COMARIT tie-up allowed the ship to be returned to her owners, who then sent her for scrapping in India.

Ouzoud.

Ouzoud.

The Giulia D'Abundo (ex-Nils Dacke, Quiberon) had a strangely quiet end to her career. No longer required after owners Medmar ceased their longer distance services, she saw intermittent charter use but after 2007 was permanently laid up in Naples before passing to Indian scrappers in early 2010 as the Abundo. She is seen here in July 2008.

The little Redentore Primo (ex-Langeland, Solidor) was latterly one of Medmar's local ferries serving the bay of Naples area. She had an interesting career, from her initial role as a duty free day trip link between Germany and Denmark to the pioneer Channel Islands-France car ferry. Her final 20 years were spent in Italy, from where she headed for Aliaga in September having seen only limited seasonal use in recent times.

The little Redentore Primo (ex-Langeland, Solidor) was latterly one of Medmar's local ferries serving the bay of Naples area. She had an interesting career, from her initial role as a duty free day trip link between Germany and Denmark to 12 years as the pioneer Channel Islands-France car ferry. Her final 20 years were spent in Italy, from where she headed for Aliaga in September having seen only limited seasonal use in recent times.

In a remarkable twist of fate, the two pioneer ships of North Sea operator Tor Line were beached near to each other in Aliaga days apart - nearly 35 years since they had last operated under the same ownership. The delightful Baia Sardinia (ex-Tor Anglia. 1966), seen here off Palau, was the older of the pair and much less altered than her sister.

In a remarkable twist of fate, the two pioneer ships of North Sea operator Tor Line were beached near to each other in Aliaga days apart - nearly 35 years since they had last operated under the same ownership. The delightful Baia Sardinia (ex-Tor Anglia, 1966), seen here off Palau, was the older of the pair and much less altered than her sister.

The Baia Sardinia's sister, the former Tor Hollandia of 1967, was latterly the F-Diamond. After a very successful second career in Greece, her final years were rather miserable: painted in an all-over black livery as a party ship for Fashion TV she was later abandoned in Genoa, before finally being sold at auction. She is seen here in July 2010, with the similarly forsaken Italroro Three astern.

The Croatian state operator Jadrolinija have tended in the past simply to place redundant ships into prolonged layup rather than immediately scrap them. This was not the case however with the Istra (ex-Mette Mols) which, after 29 years service with the company, arrived in Aliaga in May. She is seen here arriving in Split in 2007.

The Croatian state operator Jadrolinija have tended in the past simply to place redundant ships into prolonged layup rather than immediately scrap them. This was not the case however with the Istra (ex-Mette Mols) which, after 29 years service with the company, arrived in Aliaga in May. She is seen here at Split in 2007.

The Istra's little fleetmate, the Vanga (ex-Bastø III, 1968) found her way to the beach in a more roundabout fashion, passing from Jadrolinija to a Slovakian buyer, supposedly for further use. This was not to be the case however and she was at Aliaga by September. The Vanga is seen here leaving Split in July 2005, with the cruise ship Jason arriving in the background. One of three ships built by the Italian government as post-World War 2 reparations to Greece, the Jason passed for scrapping in late 2009 after a brief final period as the Ocean Odyssey in India.

The Istra's little fleetmate, the Vanga (ex-Bastø III, 1968) found her way to the beach in a more roundabout fashion, passing from Jadrolinija to a Slovakian buyer, supposedly for further use. This was not to be the case however and she was at Aliaga by September. The Vanga is seen here leaving Split in July 2005, with the cruise ship Jason arriving in the background. One of three ships built by the Italian government as post-World War 2 reparations to Greece, the Jason passed for scrapping in late 2009 after a brief final period as the Ocean Odyssey in India.

The Guglielmo Mazzola, seen here laid up in Bari in July 2010, was originally built as the Vittore Carpaccio. Her final two decades saw sporadic, almost random service: very briefly she ran as a car ferry from Brindisi to Corfu, an attempt was made to use her to break into the Elba ferry market whilst by 2005 she was serving as a party ship at the South Italian town of Gallipoli. Abandoned in Bari for several years, she was scrapped at Aliaga.

The Guglielmo Mazzola, seen here laid up in Bari in July 2010, was originally built as the Vittore Carpaccio. Her final two decades saw sporadic, almost random service: very briefly she ran as a car ferry from Brindisi to Corfu, an attempt was made to use her to break into the Elba ferry market whilst by 2005 she was serving as a party ship at the South Italian town of Gallipoli. Abandoned in Bari for several years, she was scrapped at Aliaga.

The Grecia and Venezia (top) were two of a class of four ships built for Adriatica in the 1970s. The pair passed to the Greek-controlled Halkydon Shipping who operated them from Italy to Albania but were sent for scrapping, in Turkey, straight after 30 September. They are survived by the other two sisters - Hellenic Seaways' Express Pegasus and Adria Ferries' heavily-rebuilt Riviera del Conero.

The Athens (right) of Ventouris Ferries was built in Australia for domestic coastal service as the ro-ro Brisbane Trader in 1969. She came to Greece in 1986, acquired additional passenger accommodation and was an Adriatic regular for the next 23 years, passing for scrap in April. She is seen here alongside Adria Ferries' Riviera Adriatica (ex-Orion, Daedalus) at Durres, Albania in September 2009.

A slightly more surprising Ventouris Ferries casualty was the 1976-built Siren (ex-Dana Gloria). Displaced from her place alongside stretched sister Polaris (ex-Dana Futura) on the trunk route from Bari to Igoumenitsa by the Seatrade (ex-Stena Seatrader), in 2009 she served as a third ship on the Bari-Durres route. Through the Winter of 2009/10 she marked a Ventouris return after many years to Brindisi from where she operated to Igoumenitsa. With Ventouris forming a partnership with Agoudimos for 2010, this was not to be a permanent operation and the Siren was sent to be scrapped in Alang.

Although it has been many years since she operated in Europe, mention should be made of the former Castalia which this year went for scrap under her final name, Casino Royale. Arguably the most stylish Greek-built ferry, she was completed for Hellenic Mediterranean Lines in 1974 and served them until a sale to American owners in 1988.  HML's similarly-styled cruise ship Aquarius (1972) survives and, having also left the Greek fleet in the 1980s, has recently been sold for further service in Cuba.

Although it has been many years since she operated in Europe, mention should be made of the former Castalia which this year went for scrap under her final name, Casino Royale. Arguably the most stylish Greek-built ferry, she was completed for Hellenic Mediterranean Lines in 1974 and served them until a sale to American owners in 1988. HML's similarly-styled cruise ship Aquarius (1972) survives and, having also left the Greek fleet in the 1980s, has recently been sold for further service in Cuba.

Castalia as St Tropez.

Castalia as St Tropez (2005).

The fate of the Apollon (ex-Senlac) has been covered on this website in some detail. She is seen here leaving Corfu in July 2007 - her first season for her final owners, European Seaways.

The fate of the Apollon (ex-Senlac) has been covered on this website in some detail. She is seen here leaving Corfu in July 2007 - her first season for her final owners, European Seaways.

Strintzis' Ionian Island and Ionian Galaxy caused a sensation on Greece-Italy operations when introduced in 1987/88. Converted from the Japanese Albiero and Arkas they set new standards of luxury in the final years before the advent of Superfast. After the Iraq War, both ships were sold and used to institute a service between Dubai and Iraq as the Merdif 1 and Merdif 2. Whilst the latter for now survives, the Merdif 1 was despatched for breaking in India in the Summer of 2010 but is seen here in happier days as the Ionian Island in August 1999.

Strintzis' Ionian Island and Ionian Galaxy caused a sensation on Greece-Italy operations when introduced in 1987/88. Converted from the Japanese Albiero and Arkas they set new standards of luxury in the final years before the advent of Superfast. After the Iraq War in 2003 the two ships were sold and used to institute a service between Dubai and Iraq as the Merdif 1 and Merdif 2. Whilst the latter for now survives, the Merdif 1 was despatched for breaking in India in the Summer of 2010 but is seen here in happier days as the Ionian Island in August 1999.

The Menhir, seen here laid up in Amberlaki in 2007, was built for Skagerrak use as the Christian IV in 1968 but whose career went on to encompass use as a troop transport, and later again as a ferry in Madeira. Displaced from this in 2003 she spent her final five years laid up in Greece before being reported sold for scrap in September 2010.

The Menhir, seen here laid up in Amberlaki in 2007, was built for Skagerrak use as the Christian IV in 1968 but her career went on to encompass use as a troop transport, and later again as a ferry in Madeira. Displaced from this in 2003 she spent her final five years laid up in Greece before being reported sold for scrap in September 2010.

The Panagia Hozoviotissa, seen here leaving Sifnos in 2005 in A K Ventouris colours, was sold by final operators NEL Lines for demolition in Turkey in May. Locally built in 1977, she spent all of her career in Greek waters except for an unexpected mid-life break in the Balearics where, as the Isla de Ibiza, she became one of Balearia's first ships.

The Panagia Hozoviotissa, seen here leaving Sifnos in 2005 in A K Ventouris colours, was sold by final operators NEL Lines for demolition in Turkey in May. Locally built in 1977, she spent all of her career in Greek waters except for an unexpected mid-life break in the Balearics where, as the Isla de Ibiza, she became one of Balearia's first ships.

Sold out of the Greek fleet in 2006, the Express Adonis (ex-Ailsa Princess, Earl Harold) spent her final years as a bottom of the market Indian cruise ship, the New Caribbean Princess. Broadly unchanged from her mid-life Sealink 'Sunliner' refit, she was sold to local breakers in April but is seen here towards the end of her Aegean career, in 2003.

Sold out of the Greek fleet in 2006, the Express Adonis (ex-Ailsa Princess, Earl Harold) spent her final years as a bottom of the market Indian cruise ship, the New Caribbean Princess. Broadly unchanged from her mid-life Sealink 'Sunliner' refit, she was sold to local breakers in April but is seen here towards the end of her Aegean career, in 2003.

The Erotokritos T of Endeavor Lines had, in her 19 year Southern Europe career, become one of the most famous Greek ferries. Built as the Japanese Ishikari in 1974, she was acquired by Minoan Lines in 1991 and converted for Adriatic use. Endeavor Lines acquired her in 2007 and she maintained their services out of Brindisi until the end. A classic of her type, her forward accommodation block was mostly intact Japanese from her original incarnation, including an intricately executed grand staircase.

Farewell Senlac, Apollo Express, Express Apollon, Apollon

With minimal warning, the Apollon of European Seaways sailed for scrapping at Aliaga in Turkey on Thursday morning. Her final scheduled sailings on the Bari-Durres run were in mid-September, after which she retired to Salamis near Piraeus for a final lay up prior to departing one last time.

Originally the Senlac of 1973 the ship was the last of a trio for cross-channel services to be built by the naval dockyard in Brest. As outlined in The Senlac Story (which will be updated for the final chapter shortly) whereas her sister ships Hengist and Horsa were destined for Dover and Folkestone service, the Senlac was always intended for Newhaven-Dieppe and inherited the convoluted ownership structure of ships on that route. She was, however, resolutely British in terms of operation and manning – at least until January 1985 when the British Sealink sold up and she was transferred to the French flag.

The cover of the shipyard's brochure commemorating the Hengist, Horsa and Senlac.

A sale to Greece in late 1987 opened up the second chapter in her career – she became an incredibly successful and popular ship in domestic traffic with, successively, Ventouris Sea Lines, Agapitos Express Ferries and Hellas Ferries/Hellenic Seaways. For many years she was one of the primary ships on the key route from Piraeus through to Santorini and, after a couple of years away from this role, returned to the service for one last, brief, Summer in 2005. Her final owner was the Arkoumanis family, behind the long-standing fringe Adriatic operator European Seaways. At first she was used on sporadic services between Italy and Greece before, in 2009, being deployed to Durres in Albania out of the Italian port of Bari, latterly alongside the ex-Japanese Ionis. Occasional sailings to Greece continued but the Albanian routes more often than not form the final part of a ship’s career – and so it was with the Apollon.

The ship was latterly in somewhat poor mechanical health and this seems to have forced her owners’ hand – certainly it does not seem to have been a long-planned decision to let the ship go at this point in time. The 2010 timetable on the European Seaways website still shows her reappearing in December to offer additional sailings over the Christmas period. On the newly released 2010/11 schedule, these are now pencilled in for the Arkoumanis family’s other ship, the Bridge (ex-Bass Trader).

The Senlac’s demise can perhaps ultimately be traced back to her sale from Greek domestic service back in 2006 – and in some respects she paid the price for the continuing success of her sister ships. When the former Hengist and Horsa were sold in early 2004 to rival domestic operators, Hellas Ferries were soon kicking themselves as they were used in competition against their own ongoing services. This class of ship is almost perfect for Greek island hopping service and Hellas Ferries were determined, when the time came, to dispose of the former Senlac to an operator who would not use her in a competing trade. Unfortunately the Apollon was never entirely suitable as an overnight ship on the Adriatic and her mechanical fragility sealed her fate. Those intermittent mechanical gremlins didn’t, however, prevent the Apollon sailing to Aliaga under her own power, topping 17 knots at times as she sped to meet her doom.

Presented below are a few reminders of what was, despite the sudden end, the long and memorable career of a very popular ship.

The Senlac swinging at Newhaven.

The Senlac swinging at Newhaven.

Always a head-turner...

Always a head-turner...

Leaving Newhaven.

Leaving Newhaven.

The Senlac’s career spanned a period of massive transformation in the transport networks between the United Kingdom and France. The Newhaven-Dieppe brochure (above) from the year of the ship’s introduction offers passengers a 2202 departure from London Victoria which, via two boat trains and the 2345 Dieppe ferry, will get them into Paris Saint-Lazare in time for an early breakfast at 0625. Cross-channel weather permitting of course. For over a century the Newhaven route remained a key link in transport connections between London and Paris yet today it all seems part of another world.

The Senlac never received Sealink British Ferries livery but this leaflet (above), covering almost the final weeks of her career as a British ship, features the SBF name. By this stage the ship was offering ‘Casino Cruises’ (below) – not available on the French vessels.

The ability of the careers of car ferries to span periods of vast social and technological change whilst themselves seeming to remain remarkably UNchanged can be demonstrated through comparative vehicle deck images. Above is the Senlac in 1973, below the Apollon in 2007.

Although for her early years paired with the French 'V' ships, by 1984 the Senlac's Newhaven-Dieppe partners were the Chartres and chartered Cornouailles.

Although for her early years paired with the French 'V' ships, by 1984 the Senlac's Newhaven-Dieppe partners were the Chartres and chartered Cornouailles.

The Chartres followed the Senlac to Greece in 1993 and, three years later, the pair were reunited in the fleet of Agapitos Express after the demise of the Senlac's initial Greek owners Ventouris Sea Lines. Together they formed a formidable partnership on the Piraeus-Paros-Santorini chain - as advertised here in the 1999 Agapitos Express brochure.

The Chartres followed the Senlac to Greece in 1993 and, three years later, the pair were reunited in the fleet of Agapitos Express after the demise of the Senlac's initial Greek owners Ventouris Sea Lines. Together they formed a formidable partnership on the Piraeus-Paros-Santorini chain - as advertised here in the 1999 Agapitos Express brochure.

Latterly, the Senlac was also to be reunited with the Cornouailles which, as the Sveti Stefan, was often found on an adjacent berth at Bari in between her sailings to Bar in Montenegro.

Latterly, the Senlac was also to be reunited with the Cornouailles which, as the Sveti Stefan, was often found on an adjacent berth at Bari in between her sailings to Bar in Montenegro.

At Piraeus in August 1999, beneath the bows of Minoan Lines' King Minos.

At Piraeus in August 1999, beneath the bows of Minoan Lines' King Minos.

In late 1999 Agapitos Express was absorbed into Hellas Ferries and by the Summer of 2003 the Express Apollon could be found attempting to fill the shoes of the long-serving but recently sold Express Milos (ex-Vortigern) on the Piraeus-Serifos-Sifnos-Kimolos-Milos run; she is seen here at Sifnos. Ultimately the Vortigern's true long-term replacement would be the Senlac's sister the Agios Georgios (ex-Hengist).

In late 1999 Agapitos Express was absorbed into Hellas Ferries and by the Summer of 2003 the Express Apollon could be found attempting to fill the shoes of the long-serving but recently sold Express Milos (ex-Vortigern) on the Piraeus-Serifos-Sifnos-Kimolos-Milos run; she is seen here at Sifnos. Ultimately the Vortigern's true long-term replacement would be the Senlac's sister the Agios Georgios (ex-Hengist).

The Golden Summer of 2004 saw all three sister ships sailing for rival operators out of the secondary Athenian port of Rafina; the Express Apollon is seen here approaching the port of Gavrio on Andros.

The Golden Summer of 2004 saw all three sister ships sailing for rival operators out of the secondary Athenian port of Rafina; the Express Apollon is seen here approaching the port of Gavrio on Andros.

The Penelope A (ex-Horsa) chasing the Express Apollon into port, 2004. Image courtesy Tasos Papanastasiou.

Link: Hengist, Horsa, Senlac: The Rafina Summer of 2004

The Express Apollon is seen here at Santorini in 2005, her final Summer of Greek domestic operation and back on her original Greek route. This was shortly after she received the new blue hull Hellenic Seaways livery.

At Piraeus, July 2005.

At Piraeus, July 2005.

The cover of the 2010 European Seaways brochure - the ship's final season.

The cover of the 2010 European Seaways brochure - the ship's final season.

A final view - it is July 2010 and the ship is in Bari alongside a fellow former Newhaven-Dieppe ship, the Bari (ex-St Anselm/Stena Cambria). Designed by the same naval architects for the same operators and delivered just seven years apart, the evolution in design is striking.

A final view - it is July 2010 and the Apollon is in Bari alongside a fellow former Newhaven-Dieppe ship, the Bari (ex-St Anselm/Stena Cambria). Designed by the same naval architects for the same operators and delivered just seven years apart, the evolution in design is striking.

The St Anselm and her sisters were not however blessed with the trademark Sealink 'Rogan' funnel, seen here on the Apollon in 2007.

The St Anselm and her sisters were not however blessed with the trademark Sealink 'Rogan' funnel, seen here on the Apollon in 2007.

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The many faces of the Senlac.

The ship's bell - which disappeared after her final spell of Hellenic Seaways service in 2005.

The ship's bell - which disappeared after her final spell of Hellenic Seaways service in 2005.

Farewell Mette Mols, Balkanija, Istra

A few weeks ago, Jadrolinija’s Istra was sold for scrapping in Turkey. As the Mette Mols, Mols Linien’s very first ship, she was the lead vessel of what became a very successful class of four completed by the Aalborg shipyard between 1966 and 1969. Passing to Jadrolinija in 1981, initially as the Balkanija, the Istra is the first of the quartet to pass for scrap.

Her demise is not entirely unexpected: for most of the past decade there have been rumours that every season may be her last. Her engines were in notoriously poor shape – one wonders if the engine room explosion which forced her passengers to flee in the lifeboats back in 1970 had any long-term impact. The Croatians made her work however and, although long since relegated from the coastal express or international services, she was still a local favourite as she chugged slowly along from Split to Stari Grad, Hvar Town, Vela Luka or Ubli.

On board she was a time warp: although she had been modified in places over the years, particularly with the addition of a Duty Free shop and a small number of cabins in part of the aft cafeteria, she was in many places still that pioneering little Danish domestic ferry right to the end and was maintained in pretty good general condition, all things considered. In her final seasons, even the former first class restaurant on the upper passenger deck was tidied up, the Italian rosewood panelling polished, white tablecloths laid and the tiny galley pressed into action to produce some unexpectedly good lunches.

The Istra's main lobby.

The Istra's main lobby.

But one knew it couldn’t last – with the local shipyards churning out new double-ended ferries at an alarming rate, supplemented by some second-hand Greek acquisitions of dubious quality, Jadrolinija’s fleet expansion was outpacing even the growth of the Croatian tourist industry and the older ships have, after decades of reliable and memorable service, finally started to make way. The Ivan Zajc was dispensed with for last year and even the glorious little Liburnija, the pride of the fleet, now faces an uncertain future.

After 29 years, one civil war, several post-war refugee sailings and the odd mishap, the Istra, one of the “legends” of Croatian coastal shipping, left her lay up berth in Å ibenik on 6 May bound for Aliaga.

Farewell Doric Ferry, Kapetan Alexandros

At Vlore, July 2008

At Vlore, July 2008


Quietly, the Kapetan Alexandros A ex-Doric Ferry, last of the ships of the Atlantic Steam Navigation Company, left her lay up in Keratsini under tow of the tug Christos XIV bound for scrapping in Aliaga. In service between Brindisi and Vlore through the past Winter, her lay up after being withdrawn was to be mercifully brief.

A final image of the ship in Greek waters, under tow for Turkey, can be found here.

Farewell Roi Baudouin, Georgios Express

The legendary Georgios Express, the former Belgian/RMT Roi Baudouin of 1965, set sail on Monday, 23 March, under tow to Aliaga in Turkey for scrap.

The ship had been laid up pretty much since 1995 when Ventouris Sea Lines went bankrupt. She was brought back into service for two glorious Indian Summers in 1999 and 2000 but was laid up again, latterly in Elefsis, in 2001. The last of her generation, the final survivor of all the beautiful pre-ro-ro Oostenders, she deserved a better fate than this but her condition and the economic climate conspired against all efforts at preservation, either in Greece or back in Belgium.

Here we recall the ship in her earlier days, as one of the fine fleet of Dover-Oostende passenger and early vehicle ferries.

Loading in Dover

Loading in Dover


Out on deck

Out on deck

De Luxe cabin

De Luxe cabin

Couchettes

Couchettes

Cafeteria

Cafeteria

Restaurant

Restaurant

Bar

Bar


Side lounge

Side lounge

In her final years of lay up, the ship was an increasingly decrepit sight and it was sadly clear that there would be only one final journey, no matter the personal feelings of the Ventouris family for the ship or the efforts of enthusiasts to preserve her.

Laid up, 20 July 2005

Laid up, 20 July 2005

22 July 2007

22 July 2007

Images of the Georgios Express being towed away from Elefsis in her funeral cortege can be seen here on Dimitris and Manos Photosite.

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