Olbia, the primary port of Sardinia, features one of the greatest concentrations of large overnight ferries in Europe – alongside other Mediterranean megaports such as Piraeus, Genoa and, during rush hour, Igoumenitsa. Although Tirrenia continue to operate to both Civitavecchia (for Rome) and the longer overnight route to Genoa, it is the independent operators who are now the serious players: Moby use a fleet of (in the Summer) six passenger and two freight ships with schedules based on the port, offering departures to Civitavecchia, Livorno, Piombino and Genoa. Grandia Navi Veloci operate to Genoa and SNAV to Civitaecchia. Moby’s big rivals, Tourship, (Corsica-Sardinia Ferries) use the nearby port of Golfo Aranci for their own services to Civitavecchia and Livorno.
I spent an evening in Olbia on 2 September before a departure on GNV’s La Suprema to Genoa. The excellent restaurant in the terminal provides a great vantage point of the comings and goings but it is down on the quayside where the real buzz is. Whereas elsewhere in Italy little Mussolinis jump up and down ferociously citing spurious security concerns at the merest sight of a camera (the tragedy of the once-great port of Genoa being the worst example), in Olbia, where all traffic is domestic and mostly holidaymakers, things are much more relaxed and passenger-friendly. Pedestrians, with ticket or not, are permitted to come and go through an efficient security barrier which where bags are quickly scanned. Thus the principle of public access is retained and friends and family members can come onto the quayside to wave travellers off or welcome them home. And almost everyone is happily taking pictures, enjoying a uniquely nautical travel experience in a friendly atmosphere.
Next – a voyage report on board La Suprema.