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the entire high-speed domestic fleet is laid up but, except for periods of refit, relatively few conventional ships are withdrawn from domestic service.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:
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
Anchored off port was the Med Vision, formerly the Nordic Link.
Drapetsona & Keratsini
The quayside at Drapetsona.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
The Rio (ex-Southward).
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).
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 NordÃ¶) 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 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.
Archagelos and Aelos Kenteris.
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.