Category: Greece November 2010

Piraeus – signs of the times

Piraeus, the city whose vast harbour serves as the port of Athens is, arguably, the greatest port in the world. To the enthusiast, the vast array of passenhger ships of all types lined up right around the Great Harbour is capitvating and almost astonishing. Yet the reality is that Piraeus can also be hot, dirty and, occasionally, somewhat seedy. To the foreign traveller it is a confusing mess of ticket offices, unknown ships and traffic – everyone else seems to know what they’re doing and where they’re going but to the unfamiliar it is almost impenetrable. I remember how once we encountered an exhausted young backpacker with a ticket for the departure, fifteen minutes hence, of the Panagia Ekatontapiliani in tears at the impossibility of finding her ship – although the vessel was clearly visible to us just a short walk away.

The mass of Greek domestic ferry operators has long been as confusing as its primary port. A rise and eventual fall seem almost inevitable for all but the very lucky few – some last a few months, some a few years and some decades, but history suggests that most will disappear eventually through merger, takeover, disaster, bankruptcy or just decline and disappearance. The nature of Piraeus, with its hundreds of ticket agencies and many abandoned office buildings means that memories of those ships and operators which have fallen by the wayside tend to linger. For example, nearly a decade after the 1995 collapse of Ventouris Sea Lines that company’s hoardings and the giant billboard images of their fleet of classic ex-UK car ferries could be seen on display near the berths from which they used to sail. And now, with the numbers of individual operators much reduced from previous decades, as these pictures from last year show many of the dozens of defunct ferry companies and their ships still make their presence felt whilst some of the modern hoardings of today’s operators will doubtless, in due course, become relics themselves.

The Poseidon Express agency in the central ticket block have in recent years proven a reliable source of sailing information and trusted booking agents. They also score highly with this montage of former Agapitos Express and, in previous lives, Sealink ships; Agapitos Express was absorbed by Hellas Ferries (later to become Hellenic Seaways) in 1999.

The Poseidon Express agency in the central ticket block have in recent years proven a reliable source of sailing information and trusted booking agents. They also score highly with this set of posters of former Agapitos Express and, in previous lives, Sealink ships; Agapitos Express was absorbed by Hellas Ferries (later to become Hellenic Seaways) in 1999.

Express Aphrodite (ex-St Columba).

Express Aphrodite (ex-St Columba).

Express Apollon (ex-Senlac), now scrapped.

Express Apollon (ex-Senlac), now scrapped.

A plethora of stickers are displayed on the front entrance. Poseidon Lines and Arcadia Lines are long gone, as are the original Olympic Airways. The little circular GA Ferries sticker gives their fleet as Milena, Daliana, Rodanthi and Dimitra which dates it to 1990.

A plethora of stickers are displayed on the front entrance. Poseidon Lines and Arcadia Lines are reminders of another age, as are the original Olympic Airways. The little circular GA Ferries sticker gives their fleet as Milena, Daliana, Rodanthi and Dimitra which dates it to 1990.

A relic of the original Ventouris Sea Lines before the mid-90s crash. The fleet list comprises the Kimolos (ex-Free Enterprise), Sifnos Express (ex-Cerdic Ferry), Apollo Express (ex-Senlac), Panagia Tinou (ex-Prins Philippe) and Georgios Express (ex-Roi Baudouin). That specific selection of ships pinpoints the date to 1993.

A relic of the original Ventouris Sea Lines before the mid-90s crash. The fleet list comprises the Kimolos (ex-Free Enterprise), Sifnos Express (ex-Cerdic Ferry), Apollo Express (ex-Senlac), Panagia Tinou (ex-Prins Philippe) and Georgios Express (ex-Roi Baudouin). That specific selection of ships pinpoints the date to 1993.

The two Agapitos companies as well as GA Ferries are now long gone.

The two Agapitos companies as well as GA Ferries are now long gone.

Around the corner the former agents for Lindos Lines retains this picture of that company's Milos Express (ex-Vortigern) in pride of place on the booking office wall. Staff advise that the picture remains a great talking point for passengers who remember favourably this stalwart of the Western Cyclades.

Around the corner the former agents for Lindos Lines retain this picture of that company's Milos Express (ex-Vortigern) in pride of place on the booking office wall. Staff say that the picture remains a great talking point for passengers who remember favourably this stalwart of the Western Cyclades.

The central block is now dominated by the present Hellenic Seaways head office - for years this property was rundown and neglected but has been restored for its present use.

The central block is now dominated by the present Hellenic Seaways head office - for years this property was rundown and neglected but it has been expensively restored for its present use.

The office includes a couple of fine ship models although this one of the Ariadne is itself obsolete - the ship has not actually operated for her owners since 2008.

The office includes a couple of fine ship models although this one of the Ariadne is itself obsolete - the ship has not actually operated for her owners since 2008.

Nissos Mykonos.

Nissos Mykonos.

The Ariadne also persists on the outside of the building.

The Ariadne also persists on the outside of the building.

HSW quayside ticket office adjacent to the berths of the company's High Speed fast ferries.

HSW quayside ticket office adjacent to the berths of the company's High Speed fast ferries.

Round to the east a little, Nova Ferries operate to the nearby island of Aegina.

Round to the east a little, Nova Ferries operate to the nearby island of Aegina.

Where do you want to go today? Sadly DANE, GA Ferries, Agapitos Lines and Agapitos Express Ferries are all defunct.

Where do you want to go today? Sadly DANE, GA Ferries, Agapitos Lines and Agapitos Express Ferries are all defunct.

MAS Travel are the central agents for the reincarnated Ventouris Sea Lines and their single-ship service using the Agios Georgios (ex-Hengist).

One Superfast agency has this model of the Superfast VII in the window; the ship never saw Greek service and, from later this year, will operate on the Irish Sea for Stena Line.

The former headquarters of Hellenic Mediterranean Lines, adjacent to the electric railway station, is now obscured by the pedestrian access bridge - a recent and welcome addition.

The former headquarters of Hellenic Mediterranean Lines, adjacent to the electric railway station, is now obscured by the pedestrian access bridge - a recent and welcome addition.

In its final years HML ('Elmes') was forced out of its historical headquarters and moved into less opulent offices over the road. The company failed to reappear for the 2005 season but the hoardings promoting perhaps Greece's most famous ferry company remain.

In its final years HML ('Elmes') was forced out of its historical headquarters and moved into less opulent offices over the road. The company failed to reappear for the 2005 season but the hoardings promoting perhaps Greece's most famous ferry company remain.

The front door of the HML suite of offices on the second floor (there was no one in).

The front door of the HML suite of offices on the second floor. A visit here back in 2003 revealed an amazing archive of HML paraphernalia. On board, the company's ships were notable for continually re-using bespoke items from earlier generations, from Aquarius ashtrays to Corinthia menuholders. One can only wonder what became of all this when HML finally closed down.

Adjacent, an agency promoting the major modern-day Greek operators: Minoan, Blue Star/Superfast, NEL and ANEK.

Adjacent, an agency promoting the major modern-day Greek operators: Minoan, Blue Star/Superfast, NEL and ANEK.

Walking round to the western side of the Great Harbour, in recent years various passenger-friendly improvements have been made, including connecting bendy-buses and several handy air-conditioned waiting areas.

Walking round to the western side of the Great Harbour, in recent years various passenger-friendly improvements have been made, including connecting bendy-buses and several handy air-conditioned waiting areas.

Taxi prices from the port are supposed to be fixed. Evidently this hasn't met with the approval of the local drivers.

Taxi prices from the port are supposed to be fixed. Evidently this hasn't met with the approval of the local drivers.

Zante Ferries are an operator based in the Aegean, specifically operating to their titular island (otherwise known as Zakynthos) but have in recent years deployed the Adamantios Korais to the Western Cyclades where she half-competes with the Agios Georgios.

Zante Ferries are an operator based in the Aegean, specifically operating to their titular island (otherwise known as Zakynthos) but have in recent years deployed the Adamantios Korais to the Western Cyclades where she half-competes with the Agios Georgios.

ANEN Lines disappeared several years ago; their single ship, the Myrtidiotissa, is now NEL's Aqua Maria.

ANEN Lines disappeared several years ago; their single ship, the Myrtidiotissa, is now NEL's Aqua Maria.

ANEK and NEL. This picture was taken near the end of the former company's attempt to muscle in on NEL's historic North Aegean patch by deploying the Lissos from Piraeus to Chios and Mytilene. After ANEK managed to extricate themselves from their commitments on the route the ship was sent for scrap in early 2011.

ANEK and NEL. This picture was taken near the end of the former company's attempt to muscle in on NEL's historic North Aegean patch by deploying the Lissos from Piraeus to Chios and Mytilene. After ANEK managed to extricate themselves from their commitments on the route the ship was sent for scrap in early 2011.

Minoan have large offices just over the road from the port gates, not far from the berths of their Cretan ships.

Minoan have large offices over the road from the port gates, not far from the berths of their Cretan ships.

ANEK are just down the road.

ANEK are just down the road.

Lastly, adjacent to the ANEK building is this block which served as the head offices of Minoan Flying Dolphins (Hellas Ferries) and later Hellenic Seaways before they moved to their current location in the heart of the port. It was from the top floor terrace that Pantelis Sfinias jumped to his death in the aftermath of the Express Samina sinking. Sfinias was the architect of MFD's rapid-fire acquisition of a variety of established family and local operators in 1999/2000 including Agapitos Lines, then operators of the doomed ship.

Lastly, adjacent to the ANEK building is this block (seen in 2007) which served as the head offices of Minoan Flying Dolphins/Hellas Ferries and later Hellenic Seaways before they moved to their current location in the heart of the port. It was from the sixth floor terrace that Pantelis Sfinias jumped to his death in the aftermath of the Express Samina sinking. Sfinias was the architect of MFD's rapid-fire acquisition of a variety of established family and local operators in 1999/2000 including Agapitos Lines, then operators of the doomed ship.

Agios Nektarias Aeginas

The Agios Nektarias Aeginas was built in Elefsis in 1999, and initially served Volos routings as the Panagia Skiathou before soon taking her current name and being placed into service out of Piraeus on the short but already well-served route to Aegina. She was acquired by ANES Lines in 1998, retaining her name and sphere of operation. ANES are one of the traditional, locally-based co-operative Greek ferry operators, whose operations otherwise focus on their home community, in this case the small Dodecanese island of Symi.

The Agios Nektarias Aeginas in white livery (2007).

The Agios Nektarias Aeginas in white livery (2007).

And in the current ANES colours.

Arriving at Aegina in the current ANES colours.

So far, so good; the ship became a familiar sight in the Great Harbour of Piraeus, but never really stood out amongst the dozens of other ships in port. Then, in the December 2009 back page ‘Ferry Tail’ in Cruise & Ferry Info, editor Klas Brogren revealed that the ship was interesting for a most unusual reason: her dummy funnel did not date from 1999 like the rest of the ship but, in fact, had been ‘recycled’ from the 1964-built Apollo of Viking Line, that company’s first purpose-built ship.

The Apollo of 1964.

The Apollo of 1964.

The Apollo was sold to Canadian owners in 1967 as the Manic, before heading to Greece in 1978, where she took the names Ainos, Neraida II, Ydra and, finally, Agios Nektarios, latterly under the Ventouris Ferries banner. Ventouris collapsed in 1996 whereupon she was sold but the ship seemingly never re-entered service and was laid up for years, latterly in Keratsini adjacent to the equally abandoned Theseus (ex-Dundalk, St Cybi). She finally sank in a storm in late 2003, the wreck being raised a couple of years later.

However… when the ship was rebuilt in 1993 her dummy funnel, which had originally contained the captain’s cabin, was removed. It appears to have been put to one side before being installed on the new Panagia Skiathou when she was completed in 1999. That ship later, perhaps coincidentally, also inherited the Agios Nektarias name.

A trip to Aegina is a most pleasant way to spend a day and, in November last year, having made an earlier outbound crossing on Nova Ferries’ soon to be sold Phedra, we boarded the Agios Nektarias Aeginas to see what all the fuss was about.

On the berth in Aegina.

The rather cramped vehicle deck.

The rather cramped vehicle deck.

Up on deck for a closer inspection of the dummy funnel - it was clearly still in use by crew.

Up on deck for a closer inspection of the dummy funnel - it was clearly still in use by crew.

What's behind that door...?

What's behind that door...?

Slightly anticlimactically, inside the structure there was no luxurious captain's cabin, rather just a simply kitted-out crew mess. Oh well!

Slightly anticlimactically, inside the structure there was no luxurious captain's cabin, rather just a simply kitted-out crew mess. Oh well!

Looking around the rest of the ship, the Agios Nektarias Aeginas really does seem to have been made up of spare parts: her liferaft davits, for instance, have builder’s plates dating from 1987 (supplied by Welin Lambie Ltd in the West Midlands). Meanwhile in the saloons, some of the chairs certainly date back to before 1999 and their Swedish modern look prompts idle speculation that perhaps these too had come over from the old Apollo.

Outside deck.

Outside deck.

Upper saloon.

Upper saloon.

Aft lounge on the main deck.

Aft lounge on the main deck.

Forward lounge.

Forward lounge.

Older-style chair.

Older-style chair.

Greece in November: laid up ships in Piraeus, Drapetsona, Keratsini & Perama

In September each year the Greek tourist season draws rapidly to a close and with it the many ferry services that service both Adriatic routes and the Aegean islands are rationalised for the winter when the year-round traffic of locals and goods can be accommodated on many fewer vessels.

As the weather worsens, almost the entire high-speed domestic fleet is laid up but, except for periods of refit, relatively few conventional ships are withdrawn from domestic service. The Adriatic fleets meanwhile almost all come home for stays of varying lengths, as do ships which have spent the summer on charter to foreign operators (e.g. ANEK’s Ariadne and El Venizelos, Hellenic Seaways’ Express Santorini and Hellenic Wind). Although some ships are this year spending their winter lay-ups in farther flung corners of Greece (such as Agoudimos’ Penelope (Igoumenitsa) and the Express Pegasus and Hellenic Wind (the port of Souda near Chania)) the vast majority of ships make their way to the traditional overhaul and layup berths of Drapetsona, Keratsini and Perama, not far from the port of Piraeus, the hub of the Greek ferry network. Ships in longer-term layup (i.e. measured in years not months or weeks) tend to gravitate to Elefsis Bay where they can be seen clinging to each other in a sort of deathly embrace – for many of them the future remains bleak. Our trip to Greece in November also found many vessels, especially high-speed ferries and cruise ships, within the Great Port of Piraeus itself, often at or near the berths they would use during the peak of the season, but clearly laid up for the duration.

Presented here are a selection of photographs from this visit of ship laid up in and around Piraeus. The picture at the top shows activity at the refit berths of Perama on 20 November. From left to right:
Thomson Spirit;
Princess T (Endeavor Lines – expected to finally enter service in 2011);
Lissos (ANEK – just ended service to the North Aegean);
Erotokritos T (awaiting final voyage having been sold for scrap);
Tulip (ex-Saronic Star, Celtic Mist, Klaypeda);
El Venizelos (summer charter to Tunisia Ferries complete she had just completed refit cover for ANEK’s Cretan fleet);
Nissos Rodos (Hellenic Seaways – under repair having collided with the pier in Piraeus, she shortly afterwards resumed her normal services to Rhodes);
Aegean Heaven (charter to Acciona Trasmed ended, she has received the funnel colours of her owners, the Kostas Agapitos-owned Aegean Cargo who are closely linked with ANEK Cargo);
Macedonia (SAOS Ferries – the ex-Ferry Amami has lain incomplete since work on her conversion was halted in 2008);
Panagia Parou (NEL Lines, ex-NGV Asco; she spent six weeks on charter in the Adriatic to European Seaways this summer);
Archagelos (ex- Fichtelberg, another Aegean Cargo ship);
Aeolos Kenteris (NEL Lines – so pleased were NEL with their association with Greek’s most famous drugs-test missing athlete that there have been a further two high speed craft named ‘Aeolos Kenteris’ but this is the original).

Piraeus – the Great Port

A collection of HSW's red Vodafone-sponsored fast craft: Flyingcats 5, 4 and 2 surrounding the Highspeed 4.

A collection of HSW's red Vodafone-sponsored fast craft: Flyingcats 5, 4 and 2 surrounding the Highspeed 4.

The originally Spanish Phivos of Nova Ferries undergoing annual maintenance. The company's operations to the nearby island of Aegina were being maintained by their second ship, the Phedra, which very soon afterwards was sold to unknown buyers.

The originally Spanish Phivos of Nova Ferries undergoing annual maintenance. The company's operations to the nearby island of Aegina were being maintained by their second ship, the Phedra, which very soon afterwards was sold to unknown buyers.

Hellenic Seaway's most recent introduction, the Highspeed 6 (formerly Acciona Trasmed's Milenium) laid up alongside Aegean Speed Lines' Speedrunner II (ex-Tallink Autoexpress 4, Stena Pegasus).

Hellenic Seaway's most recent introduction, the Highspeed 6 (formerly Acciona Trasmed's Milenium) laid up alongside Aegean Speed Lines' Speedrunner II (ex-Tallink Autoexpress 4, Stena Pegasus).

One of ASL's two other ships was nearby - the Speedrunner III (ex-Superseacat III).

One of ASL's two other ships was nearby - the Speedrunner III (ex-Superseacat III).

Round at the ANEK berths, the Prevelis had just finished completed sailings on her subsidised route which wanders around the Aegean but ultimately goes from Piraeus to Rhodes. Not many days afterwards she headed to dry dock.

Round at the ANEK berths, the Prevelis had just finished completed sailings on her subsidised route which wanders around the Aegean but ultimately goes from Piraeus to Rhodes. Not many days afterwards she headed to dry dock.

Not exactly a laid-up ship, the Hellas Liberty is the former Liberty Ship Arthur M. Huddell and has been set aside for use as a floating museum for the Greek merchant marine. Suffice to say, although the Liberty Ships' connection with Greece is valid in some ways, the Arthur M. Huddell had minimal connections and there were plenty of former Greek merchant ships - most pointedly perhaps the Georgios Express - which would have been equally valid homes for the museum.

Not exactly a laid-up ship, the Hellas Liberty is the former Liberty Ship Arthur M. Huddell and has been set aside for use as a floating museum for the Greek merchant marine. Suffice to say, although the Liberty Ships' connection with Greece is valid in some ways, the Arthur M. Huddell had minimal connections and there were plenty of former Greek merchant ships - most pointedly perhaps the Georgios Express - which would have been equally valid homes for the museum.

Over at the cruise terminal can be seen the Highspeed 5 and ASL's third ship, the Speedrunner IV (ex-Superseacat Four).

Over at the cruise terminal can be seen the Highspeed 5 and ASL's third ship, the Speedrunner IV (ex-Superseacat Four).

Orient Queen and Coral.

Along the quayside, Louis' Orient Queen (ex-Starward) and Coral (ex-Sunward II, Cunard Adventurer.

Another Louis-owned ship, the Aquamarine, is spending her winter alongside the outer breakwater.

Another Louis-owned ship, the Aquamarine, is spending her winter alongside the outer breakwater.

Anchored off port was the Med Vision, formerly the Nordic Link.

Anchored off port was the Med Vision, formerly the Nordic Link.

Drapetsona & Keratsini

The quayside at Drapetsona.

The quayside at Drapetsona.

A series of classically unflattering Drapetsona stern-on shots commences with Aegean Cargo's Aegean Glory.

A series of classically unflattering Drapetsona stern-on shots commences with Aegean Cargo's Aegean Glory.

The Scotia Prince (ex-Stena Olympica) - recently off charter from Marmara Lines.

The Scotia Prince (ex-Stena Olympica) - recently off charter from Marmara Lines.

Plucked by NEL Lines from a seemingly inevitable appointment with the scrapyard has been the  Aqua Maria. Laid up since 2008 the 1975-built former Mirtidiotissa has been chosen to join the NEL fleet - although when and for exactly which routing are still not entirely certain.

Plucked by NEL Lines from a seemingly inevitable appointment with the scrapyard has been the Aqua Maria. Laid up since 2008 the 1975-built former Mirtidiotissa has been chosen to join the NEL fleet - although when and for exactly which routing are still not entirely certain.

Possibly not yet formally renamed...

Possibly not yet formally renamed...

Another of the 'Aeolos Kenterises', this is the Aeolos Kenteris I (ex-Aelos Express).

Another of the 'Aeolos Kenterises', this is the Aeolos Kenteris I (ex-Aelos Express).

The Ionis of European Seaways has somehow outlasted her fleetmate the Apollon (ex-Senlac) and is due to report back for duty on the company's Bari-Durres service in mid-December. Here some of Drapetsona's ever-present canine population bask in the winter sunshine at her stern.

The Ionis of European Seaways has somehow outlasted her fleetmate the Apollon (ex-Senlac) and is due to report back for duty on the company's Bari-Durres service in mid-December. Here some of Drapetsona's ever-present canine population bask in the winter sunshine at her stern.

Fresh back from her latest Azorean charter, the Express Santorini (ex-Chartres) has recently been deployed on refit cover for owners Hellenic Seaways - she is presently operating out of Volos.

Fresh back from her latest Azorean charter, the Express Santorini (ex-Chartres) has recently been deployed on refit cover for owners Hellenic Seaways - she is presently operating out of Volos but returns to the Azores in summer 2011.

After her failed Albanian operation, the Santa Maria I (once Adriatica's Sansovino) has been renamed Adriatica King. For what purpose has yet to be revealed but the ship has, since this picture was taken, retreated to Elefsis Bay for further layup.

After her failed Albanian operation, the Santa Maria I (once Adriatica's Sansovino) has been renamed Adriatica King. For what purpose has yet to be revealed but the ship has, since this picture was taken, retreated to Elefsis Bay for further layup.

The cruise ship Daphne, rebuilt from the Port Sydney of 1955.

The cruise ship Daphne, rebuilt from the Port Sydney of 1955.

With the Daphne in the foreground, ANEK's Sophocles V can be seen undergoing annual refit at Keratsini. She is normally deployed on the Venice-Igoumenitsa-Patras operation in the Adriatic.

With the Daphne in the foreground, ANEK's Sophocles V can be seen undergoing annual refit at Keratsini. She is normally deployed on the Venice-Igoumenitsa-Patras operation in the Adriatic.

The Rio (ex-Southward).

The Rio (ex-Southward).

HSW's Apollon Hellas, usually to be found operating on the short crossing between Piraeus and Aegina.

HSW's Apollon Hellas, usually to be found operating on the short crossing between Piraeus and Aegina.

The Adamantios Korais has in recent years adopted a schedule running from Piraeus to Santorini via Milos, half competing with the Agios Georgios (ex-Hengist).

The Adamantios Korais has in recent years adopted a schedule running from Piraeus to Santorini via Milos, half competing with the Agios Georgios (ex-Hengist).

Moving round to Keratsini, the Mega Jet is the former Cat-Link I.

Moving round to Keratsini, the Mega Jet is the former Cat-Link I.

Laid up for nearly a decade now, the little Alkyon (originally the 1965-built Gotlandia of Rederi Ab Nordö) quietly rusts away. She was first sold to Greece in 1979.

Laid up for nearly a decade now, the little Alkyon (originally the 1965-built Gotlandia of Rederi Ab Nordö) quietly rusts away. She was first sold to Greece in 1979.

The day cruise ship Anna Maru and the Cyclades Express (ex-SeaCat Scotland).

The day cruise ship Anna Maru and the Cyclades Express (ex-SeaCat Scotland).

Perama

The vantagepoint of the Pireaus-Salamis/Perama passenger ferry gives a good view of the Perama lay-up berths but also of any ships berthed on the easternmost branch of the island of Salamis. One such vessel on this occasion was the Strofades IV, perhaps best known in her former guise as the Roseanne. She had just days before been involved in an internationally-reported story involving a disputed and aborted aid run to Gaza after which her captain and owner were arrested.

The vantagepoint of the Pireaus-Salamis/Perama passenger ferry gives a good view of the Perama lay-up berths but also of any ships berthed on the easternmost branch of the island of Salamis. One such vessel on this occasion was the Strofades IV, perhaps best known in her former guise as the Roseanne. She had just days before been involved in an internationally-reported story involving a disputed and aborted aid run to Gaza after which her captain and owner were arrested.

The former Japanese cruise ship Delphin Voyager (ex-Orient Venus). She had, in her latter Japanese days, fallen under the same management as the Shin Nihonkai Ferry, former owners of the nearby Lissos and several other well-known Greek ferries.

The former Japanese cruise ship Delphin Voyager (ex-Orient Venus). She had, in her latter Japanese days, fallen under the same management as the Shin Nihonkai Ferry, former owners of the nearby Lissos and several other well-known Greek ferries.

Flyingcat 3.

Flyingcat 3.

Aegean Heaven.

Aegean Heaven.

Archagelos and Aelos Kenteris.

Archagelos and Aelos Kenteris.

El Ven. and Nissos Rodos.

El Ven. and Nissos Rodos.

Lastly, a trio of former Japanese ferries. The Erotokritos T (right hand side) is effectively being replaced in the fleet of Endeavor Lines by the Princess T (left), assuming her rebuild is completed before next summer. In between, the Lissos lives to fight another day.

Lastly, a trio of former Japanese ferries. The Erotokritos T (right hand side) is effectively being replaced in the fleet of Endeavor Lines by the Princess T (left), assuming her rebuild is completed before next summer. In between, the Lissos lives to fight another day.

Up close: Anthi Marina


Delivered 1979 as Spirit of Free Enterprise to Townsend Thoresen for Dover-Calais service.
Renamed Pride of Kent 1987.
Lengthened and rebuilt 1991/92.
Renamed P&OSL Kent 1998.
Renamed P O Kent 2002
Sold to GA Ferries and renamed Anthi Marina 2003 and rebuilt for service between Piraeus and Rhodes.
Laid up in Piraeus, Greece following GA Ferries’ financial problems since late 2008.

Photographed 20 & 23 November 2010 in Piraeus outer harbour.

'P&O'

Greece in November: the abandoned ships of Piraeus

A trip to the Greek islands hadn’t been part of the plan for 2010 – with interesting and untested ships to sail on across the rest of Southern Europe together with a whole host expected to be in their final seasons, the domestic Greek scene, for once, didn’t seem a priority. However, the cancellation of a short cruise on the Island Escape (ex-Scandinavia) in mid-November led to a quick search for alternatives and a five night trip to Greece, out of season, suddenly became very attractive.

Initial plans to focus on the more interesting ex-Japanese tonnage now in operation were partly scuppered by the recent collision with Piraeus’ Northern breakwater (and subsequent absence from service) of Hellenic Seaways’ Nissos Rodos (ex-Kiso) and by ANEK pulling their Lissos (ex-Ferry Hamanasu) from her sailings to the North Aegean. In the event however it turned out to be a remarkably successful short visit – in many ways, the aforementioned scheduling problems apart, the timing was completely fortuitous: each day was sunny and with none of the strong winds that often lead to Greek domestic cancellations. Meanwhile we just missed the 24 hour (later extended to 72 hours+) strike of Greek seafarers which commenced on Tuesday the 23rd – on the European Express from Chios we were one of the last overnight ships arriving into Piraeus that day, actually berthing an hour or so after the official start of the industrial action.

The most notable difference being in Piraeus and its surrounding areas in November compared to the peak season is the large number of normally operational ships laid up – both those in seasonal use (mostly fast craft and cruise ships) or those which happened to be out of service for their annual refits. In addition, there remain the ships of GA Ferries and SAOS, operators whose financial troubles have forced them largely out of business. Whilst the SAOS fleet is dispersed across the country, with only their Panagia Agiasou laid up in Piraeus outer harbour, the ships of GA’s passenger fleet can all be found locally – five in the inner harbour and three more adjacent to the ‘Agiasou’. Other than the fast craft Jet Ferry 1 all have recently been offered for sale by the harbour authority which, in one of the less attractive pitches to prospective purchasers, describes them as “dangerous and harmful”.

I will add more pictures from this trip in due course but for starters here are some of those GA ships and their long-term SAOS co-resident. For the record, the title of this entry is perhaps slightly misleading – the ships aren’t entirely abandoned and it seems that one ship in each of the two batches has at least one watchman on duty with the Rodanthi and Anthi Marina serving as their respective basecamps.

In the outer harbour, adjacent to the current berths of the Blue Star Rhodes and Crete ships can be found the Anthi Marina (ex-Spirit of Free Enterprise/Pride of Kent), Milena (ex-Ferry Gold), Dimitroula (ex-Verga) and SAOS's Panagia Agiasou (ex-Hakata).

In the outer harbour, adjacent to the current berths of the Blue Star Rhodes and Crete ships can be found the Anthi Marina (ex-Spirit of Free Enterprise/Pride of Kent), Milena (ex-Ferry Gold), Dimitroula (ex-Verga) and SAOS's Panagia Agiasou (ex-Hakata).

From a distance the Anthi Marina doesn't look that bad given her two years laid up.

From a distance the Anthi Marina doesn't look that bad given her two years laid up.

Up close she is rather more decrepit - although still by far the most likely of GA Ferries' conventional ships to see any further service. A few more images of this ship will be posted in the next week or so.

Up close she is rather more decrepit - although still by far the most likely of GA Ferries' conventional ships to see any further service. A few more images of this ship will be posted in the next week or so.

The Dimitroula was originally one of Tirrenia's eight-strong 'Poeti' class - indeed she was the last of the eight ship-class. Like her identical sister the Deledda she was slightly different to the earlier six and was not stretched by her original owners. Thus she was in pretty much original condition when she passed to GA in 1997. Now the last-surviving Poeti, it seems almost impossible she will ever see service again.

The Dimitroula was originally one of Tirrenia's eight-strong 'Poeti' class - indeed she was the last of the eight ship-class. Like her identical sister the Deledda she was slightly different to the earlier six and was not stretched by her original owners. Thus she was in pretty much original condition when she passed to GA in 1997. Now the last-surviving Poeti, it seems almost impossible she will ever see service again.

The Dimitroula from astern - as with all these ships, the stern ramp is lowered, but the car deck has been rudimentarily barricaded to prevent squatters or the otherwise curious.

The Dimitroula from astern - as with all these ships, the stern ramp is lowered, but the car deck has been rudimentarily barricaded to prevent squatters or the otherwise curious.

Adjacent to the Dimitroula, SAOS's Panagia Agiasou.

Adjacent to the Dimitroula, SAOS's Panagia Agiasou.

The Panagia Agiasou from astern.

The Panagia Agiasou from astern.

The Jet Ferry 1 (ex-Kattegat) has been seized by the bank which had originally mortgaged her. She is laid up in the inner harbour adjacent to what are normally nowadays the berths of the smaller Blue Star ships - right in the traditional heart of Piraeus ferryport, over the road from the electric railway station.

The Jet Ferry 1 (ex-Kattegat) has been seized by the bank which had originally mortgaged her. She is laid up in the inner harbour adjacent to what are normally nowadays the berths of the smaller Blue Star ships - right in the traditional heart of Piraeus ferryport, over the road from the electric railway station.

(Jet Ferry 1)

(Jet Ferry 1)

The other batch of four GA Ferries can be found adjacent to the berth of Ventouris Sea Lines' Agios Georgios. From left to right, the Marina (ex-Green Ace), the Romilda (ex-Free Enterprise VIII), the Rodanthi (ex-Virgo) and the Daliana (ex-Ferry Pearl).

The other batch of four GA Ferries can be found adjacent to the berth of Ventouris Sea Lines' Agios Georgios. From left to right, the Marina (ex-Green Ace), the Romilda (ex-Free Enterprise VIII), the Rodanthi (ex-Virgo) and the Daliana (ex-Ferry Pearl).

The Marina.

The Marina.

The Romilda was one of the last of the fleet to stay in service, but has been in quite poor internal condition for many years.

The Romilda was one of the last of the fleet to stay in service, but has been in quite poor internal condition for many years.

The Romilda from astern.

The Romilda from astern.

What does the future hold...?

What does the future hold...?

The Romilda at night.

The Romilda at night.

The Rodanthi.

The Rodanthi.

The Rodanthi, Romilda and Marina.

The Rodanthi, Romilda and Marina.

The long-term movement of the stern ramp against the quay has in several cases caused some quite notable damage to the quayside - as seen in this image at the stern of the Rodanthi.

The long-term movement of the stern ramp against the quay has in several cases caused some quite notable damage to the quayside - as seen in this image at the stern of the Rodanthi.

Daliana and Rodanthi.

Daliana and Rodanthi.

Daliana.

Daliana.

Daliana.

Daliana.

Daliana at night.

Daliana at night.

The sterns of the laid up ships are popular locations for local fishermen.

The sterns of the laid up ships are popular locations for local fishermen.

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