Posts tagged: ANEK

ANEK-Superfast

Olympic Champion

Olympic Champion

The recent news of the combination of the primary routes of Greek operators ANEK and Superfast marks a significant step towards consolidation in the Greek ferry industry. The agreement sees the operators co-ordinate schedules on the domestic battlefield between Piraeus and Heraklion (Crete) together with the main Greece-Italy link, Patras-Igoumenitsa-Ancona.

On the latter route, since the strategic withdrawal of Superfast’s sister company Blue Star in 2002, there has been a period of unprecedented stability. Three operators – ANEK, Minoan Lines and Superfast have been engaged in traffic, each with a fleet of fast, large and modern luxury passenger vessels with huge freight decks, each offering daily peak season departures from both Patras and Ancona. The changes have been upgrades in tonnage rather than in broad nature of operation – Superfast retained a four ship service (up to two daily departures each way) until the redeployment of the Superfast XII to Heraklion and the sale of the Superfast V in 2009. Minoan then replaced their Europa and Olympia Palaces with the new and huge, but not custom-designed, Cruise Europa and Cruise Olympia in 2009/10.

The deployment by Minoan of those vast new ships, allied to the economic downturn which has hit Greece harder than most countries, probably forced ANEK and Superfast to turn towards each other. ANEK’s Olympic Champion will therefore be re-deployed on the Piraeus-Heraklion route where she will co-operate with Superfast XII, leaving a three ship service on the Adriatic – with the Hellenic Spirit running a supplementary service every other day against the ongoing daily departures of Superfast VI and XI.

Superfast XII

Superfast XII

At Heraklion, whilst ANEK have over the years established themselves as a big player in the freight market, Minoan’s two ‘Palaces’ still dominate passenger traffic to the port city in which the company was formed and is still based (albeit now as a subsidiary of the Neapolitan Grimaldi group). The provocative deployment of Superfast XII in 2009 was a strategic move designed to hit Minoan hard in their own back yard, but it does not seem to have been a complete success with much local loyalty to the home town operator remaining. The combination with ANEK can be expected to pack a harder punch.

Hellenic Spirit

Hellenic Spirit

From mid June, ANEK’s venerable Kriti I and Kriti II, now familiar features of the Piraeus and Heraklion portscapes, will be withdrawn in favour of an integrated ANEK-Superfast timetable involving daily return trips. The stage is therefore set for a two-route battle between the new combine, backed by two of Greece’s largest domestic players (all of whose other routes remain outside the agreement) and Minoan, backed by Grimaldi.

In anticipation of this new era, presented below are some images of and onboard the fine, fast, modern ships which in 2011 will operate on these, perhaps the most important ferry routes in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Patras-Igoumenitsa-Ancona

Hellenic Spirit

Hellenic Spirit

Superfast VI

Superfast VI

Superfast XI

Superfast XI

Hellenic Spirit

Hellenic Spirit

Hellenic Spirit

Hellenic Spirit

Hellenic Spirit

Hellenic Spirit

Superfast VI

Superfast VI

Superfast XI

Superfast XI

Superfast XI

Superfast XI

Cruise Europa

Cruise Europa

Cruise Olympia

Cruise Olympia

Cruise Europa

Cruise Europa

Cruise Europa

Cruise Europa

Cruise Europa

Cruise Europa

Piraeus-Heraklion

Olympic Champion

Olympic Champion

Superfast XII

Olympic Champion

Olympic Champion

Olympic Champion

Olympic Champion

Superfast XII

Superfast XII

Superfast XII

Superfast XII

Knossos Palace

Knossos Palace

Festos Palace

Festos Palace

Knossos Palace

Knossos Palace

Knossos Palace

Knossos Palace

Where next….?

Kriti I

Kriti I

Displaced from their Heraklion routings, the two 1979-built ‘Kritis’ are not obviously of use elsewhere within ANEK’s route network, so their future remains unclear; a direct sale for scrap is possible but still does not seem an obvious fate.

Kriti II

Kriti II

Things Seen – February 2010

The Nikolaos, still with a red hull, at Perama in September 2009.

The Nikolaos, still with a red hull, at Perama in September 2009.

  • After many years laid up at Elefsis and Salamis the first of the Sunderland-built Superflexes, the Superflex Alfa, saw service in 2008 as the Nikolaos between Igoumenitsa and Corfu for Ionion Lines, still with her original red hull. There she operated in competition with her former sister, the much rebuilt Pantokrator (Superflex Foxtrot). The operation did not seem to have been a success and for nine months the ship was laid up in Igoumenitsa. In July last year she moved to Perama for attention; however, there she remained, with work seemingly halted. The reports now are that it has been completed and the company’s website offers a glimpse of the new look – the red hull is gone and some new openings on the upper vehicle deck indicate that the changes are more than superficial. With her sister the Gitte 3 (ex-Superflex Delta) having recently departed for the scrappers, time is starting to catch up with this class of ship, most of which have experienced uncertainty and lay up at one stage or another through their fairly troubled history. Hopefully, the lead ship will be able to make a success of her operation this time around.
  • The stylish Swedish train ferries Trelleborg (1958) and SkÃ¥ne (1967) were built for the Trelleborg-Sassnitz service, operated in co-operation with the East German Deutsche Reichsbahn, whose ships were rather more austere.

    Comprehensive pictures of and on board the Swedish pair in both their early years and latterly when they each headed to Southern Europe can be found here:

    Trelleborg and Skåne

  • The sad wreck of the Jassim (ex-Kattegat of 1961) is picked up quite clearly on Google Maps.
  • Rather more haunting is the wreck of the Salem Express, the former Fred Scamaroni and Nuits Saint Georges which sailed direct from layup following her aborted UK service to trade in the Red Sea in 1981. The ship tragically sank in December 1991, taking at least 470 people with her. A deep breath is required before viewing some of these 2005 images of her interior, and of the remains of some of her doomed passengers.
  • The Express Adonis (ex-Ailsa Princess/Earl Harold) rather disappeared off the radar when sold by Hellenic Seaways back in 2006. She has, however, embarked on a new career as a casino ship in Indian waters, firstly under the name New Caribbean Princess and most recently as the New Cambay Prince. Passengers appear to frequently arrive at the ship via tender which provides a few interesting youtube videos. Her operator’s website seems adequate enough but some of the reviews have been less flattering: how’s about “That’s not to suggest that you’re taking a ride in a rat-infested boat (or perhaps the rats have already jumped ship)” for a back handed compliment?

    Meanwhile, the headline ‘Disgusting!’ sums up environmentalists’ concerns about the ship’s alledged dumping of garbage in the Arabian Sea.

  • On the following link, Prince Philip asks some unilluminating questions during the construction of the Finnjet (h/t LandgÃ¥ngen)
  • The cutaway diagram is a staple for ferry operators trying to showcase their newest and best vessels to the discerning public. Most modern versions are fairly sanitised, but let’s look back to the early 1980s and Trasmed’s image of the Ciudad de Badajoz. Zoom in up-close and check out the detail of what the people on board are actually up to. Towelling themselves off after showers, stuck on lifts between floors, but mostly peacock-like showing themselves off to best advantage. And, just to the right of the lift, what is that man doing in the washbasin?
  • Barely a month seems to go by without a current or former Superfast ship changing hands. This picture of the Superfast IX (now Atlantic Vision) in dry dock seems to fit the mood as the Attica fleet seems set into decline – just a sliver of red remains, the vast bulk being extinguished by a sea of blue. The days when Superfast changed overnight and then dominated the Greek international ferry market seem ever more distant.
  • Pilot’s model ships have quite a following with examples passing for not inconsiderable sums on eBay. This website showcasing Bruce Peter’s collection snuck onto the web, unheralded, a couple of years ago.
  • © Bruce Peter

    © Bruce Peter

  • The Nereus was a smart little ship, built as the Scania for Rederi Ab Svea she was later the Scania Express and Polhelm before passing to Agapitos Lines in 1981. In Greece she was deployed on an almost incomprehensible schedule involving 30+ ports, mostly smaller islands with tiny populations. She was lost off the coast of Crete in 1989 and for many years the wreck was visible off Sideros.

    A couple of rather charming videos of the ship during her Greek career can be found here and here.

  • Stena Line’s predilection for tinkering with their ships’ interiors shows no sign of abating. Here are some images of the most recent remodelling of the Kiel ships ‘Germanica’ and ‘Scandinavica’.
  • Maritime historian Peter Knego recently wrote about his visit to the Faithful (originally the first Wappen Von Hamburg (1955) and later the Delos and Xanadu) which, after several years where it seemed she was just another old ship doomed to be scrapped, appears to be having one last chance at survival. His pictures make a fascinating contrast to this snippet of film relating the Delos’s maiden arrival in Greece in 1961. (h/t Nautilia)
  • In the last ‘Things Seen’ we touched on one of the Baroness M (ex-Lion)’s more dramatic moments when she was attacked by Syrian gunboats in 1990. For sixteen years after being delivered in late 1967 until sale to the Greek Cypriot Marlines the ship was a familiar sight around the coast of the United Kingdom, and she was once more when chartered for a much commented-upon spell back on the English Channel for British Channel Island Ferries in 1987. In between times however the ship spent one Summer operating for Marlines on a long, once weekly, Ancona-Igoumenitsa-Patras-Izmir routing, via the Corinth Canal and it is during that 1986 season that she is captured here and here looking quite splendid as she passes through the canal with what appears to be only a modest sprinkling of passengers aboard.
  • The Candia.

    The Candia.

  • For years I paid little attention to the Candia and Rethimnon of ANEK, dismissing them as just another pair of Japanese ferries diverting attention from the real Greek beauties, the ex-North European tonnage. That rather narrow view of Greek ferry history still pertains to a degree, but what mustn’t be overlooked is the impact these ships had when introduced – they were virtually brand new and were an amazing contrast on routes to Crete to Minoan’s famed Minos and the Kydon, ANEK’s own original ship. Here, dignatories are shown around the Candia as she is inaugurated in 1973.
  • Comedy capers with a current ANEK ship as this video of the Prevelis demonstrates that the so-called ‘Mediterranean moor’ isn’t as easily executed as it sometimes appears.
  • The remains of the former Sealink Isle of Wight ferry Freshwater continue to languish at the former scrapyard in Garston, Merseyside to which she was sold back in 1996. This fascinating video tour of the ship just before she left Sealink service is a reminder of rather happier times.
  • Lastly, as the ships head towards their 38th birthdays, here is a nice image of the Hengist and Horsa together off Folkestone very early in their English Channel careers.

    For the record, the Agios Georgios (ex-Hengist) had a hiccup with an engine failure a couple of days ago, returning to Piraeus to discharge her passengers. She has since resumed her regular services.

  • The Agios Georgios at Piraeus.

    The Agios Georgios at Piraeus.

    Please send any contributions for ‘Things Seen’ to admin@hhvferry.com.

    The great ports: Igoumenitsa

    Igoumenitsa. l-r: Olympic Champion, Lefka Ori, Europa Palace, Pasiphae Palace

    Igoumenitsa. l-r: Olympic Champion, Lefka Ori, Europa Palace, Pasiphae Palace

    Major ferry ports in the UK and much of Northern Europe tend to be accessible only to travellers; gone are the days when ships formed an easily accessible part of everyday life for anyone who showed an interest. The ferry industry, driven by government regulation, has hidden itself away behind barbed wire and security fences. There is little for the casual observer to do but gaze from a distance at all the activity – but that certainly doesn’t provoke either a desire to join them behind the fence or take much of an interest in the goings on.

    For many passengers, ferry travel forms the bookends to a leisure experience – why should they be intimidated from recording this, oppressed by obnoxious and overzealous security, unable to enjoy these out of the ordinary moments?

    In Southern Europe, several of the major ports have followed the precedents of their northern counterparts; however there remain a great number of very substantial port complexes where free movement is permitted, photography allowed and where one can sit and safely watch the activity.

    Presented below are some recent pictures taken from the quayside of Igoumenitsa in Greece. Crossroads of all Italy-Greece ferry sailings, Igoumenitsa ranks as one of Europe’s most exciting ports for the enthusiast, with the morning rush hour in particular being a rapid fire succession of major passenger shipping. For me it comes second only to Piraeus for the sheer joy to be experienced simply by being in close proximity to the wonders of working ships.

    The early evening departures ex-Brindisi and Bari, heading for Patras, call at Igoumenitsa in the small hours of the morning. Seen here is the Ionian Queen of Endeavor.

    The early evening departures ex-Brindisi and Bari, heading for Patras, call at Igoumenitsa in the small hours of the morning. Seen here is the Ionian Queen of Endeavor.


    An early morning departure for Blue Star's Blue Horizon

    An early morning departure for Blue Star's Blue Horizon

    The Hellenic Spirit

    The Hellenic Spirit

    Igoumenitsa was traditionally a stopping-off point between Italy and the southern Greek port of Patras. In more recent years for many ships the leg down to Patras has been abandoned and Igoumenitsa is the Greek terminus, being conveniently the starting point of the new Egnatia Highway.
    The big competition is on the routes from Ancona to Patras, where ANEK, Minoan and Superfast deploy big, impressive, fast purpose-built ships year-round. ANEK and Minoan also offer Venice services. From Southern Italy, the historic departure point of Brindisi, shorn of its equally historic ‘legacy’ operators, HML and Adriatica, has seen some turbulent years with a variety of operators trying to make money on what had become a very marginal business. At Bari Agoudimos, Ventouris Ferries and Blue Star/Superfast each has its own rather different niche.
    For ships calling at Igoumenitsa en-route to or from Patras, the calls can be sometimes quite chaotic, lasting as little as ten or fifteen minutes in which time cargo and passengers must be assembled, unloaded and loaded with military precision.
    Minoan's Pasiphae Palace (Venice service). This ship has subsequently been sold to SNCM.

    Minoan's Pasiphae Palace (Venice service). This ship has subsequently been sold to SNCM.


    The Apollon (ex-Senlac) of European Seaways' Brindisi service. This operation has been discontinued for 2009.

    The Apollon (ex-Senlac) of European Seaways' Brindisi service. This operation has been discontinued for 2009.


    Igoumenitsa's morning rush. l-r: the Corfu ferry Achaios, Minoan's Ancona ship Europa Palace, ANEK's Lefka Ori and Ventouris Ferries' Siren.

    Igoumenitsa's morning rush. l-r: the Corfu ferry Achaios, Minoan's Ancona ship Europa Palace, ANEK's Lefka Ori and Ventouris Ferries' Siren.


    ANEK's Olympic Champion (Ancona service) and Lefka Ori (Venice service) depart for Patras and Venice respectively

    ANEK's Olympic Champion (Ancona service) and Lefka Ori (Venice service) depart for Patras and Venice respectively


    The Europa Palace and the Siren

    The Europa Palace and the Siren


    l-r: Hellenic Spirit, Siren and Lefka Ori.

    l-r: Hellenic Spirit, Siren and Lefka Ori.


    The Europa Palace

    The Europa Palace


    The Europa Palace

    The Europa Palace


    The Europa Palace

    The Europa Palace


    Minoan's Pasiphae Palace (Venice service) and Europa Palace (Ancona service).

    Minoan's Pasiphae Palace (Venice service) and Europa Palace (Ancona service).


    Pasiphae Palace, Hellenic Spirit and Agoudimos' Brindisi ship, the Ionian Spirit (ex-Roslagen/Viking 3).

    Pasiphae Palace, Hellenic Spirit and Agoudimos' Brindisi ship, the Ionian Spirit (ex-Roslagen/Viking 3).


    Unloading the Europa Palace

    Unloading the Europa Palace


    Igoumenitsa Classics: the Apollon and the Ionian Spirit

    Igoumenitsa Classics: the Apollon and the Ionian Spirit


    The Polaris and the Elli T

    Awaiting their evening departures: the Polaris and the Elli T


    The local ferries to Corfu depart from the old port - here is Ionion Lines' Nikolaos, ex-Superflex Alfa, the very first of her class. She spent several years laid up before entering service in her current trade. The Apollon is also seen at lay by during her hesitant start to the 2008 Summer season.

    The local ferries to Corfu depart from the old port - here is Ionion Lines' Nikolaos, ex-Superflex Alfa, the very first of her class. She spent several years laid up before entering service in her current trade. The Apollon is also seen at lay by during her hesitant start to the 2008 Summer season.


    ANEK's Sophocles Venizelos departs for Patras.

    ANEK's Sophocles Venizelos departs for Patras.


    Leaving Igoumenitsa on the Superfast VI headed for Ancona.

    Leaving Igoumenitsa on the Superfast VI headed for Ancona.


    Outbound from Igoumenitsa, with a landing craft type ferry headed for Corfu.

    Outbound from Igoumenitsa, with a landing craft type ferry headed for Corfu.

    Funnels: Olympic Champion

    Olympic Champion, 14 July 2007

    Olympic Champion, 14 July 2007

    That was the year that was

    The Scania of SSC at Heltermaa, January 2008

    The Scania of SSC at Heltermaa, January 2008

    It’s been another memorable year of ferrying – here are some high and low-lights from a year which saw the demise of Speedferries, the end of the Finnjet, Black Watch, Caledonian Princess and (we think) St George, the further growth of LD Lines and Tallink and, perhaps, the final end of the Europa I, one of Europe’s few remaining British-built international car ferries.

    Off the top of my head, the latter point reduces the total to just four of note – the Pride of York (ex-Norsea), Ibn Batouta (ex-St Christopher), Le Rif (ex-Galloway Princess) and Kapetan Alexandros A (ex-Doric Ferry). Make it six if you count the operational HH Ferries Superflexes.

    Farewell to Speed Ferries

    Farewell to Speed Ferries

    The Á la carte restaurant on Tallink's Star

    The Á la carte restaurant on Tallink's Star


    Best new ferry
    I can only assess ships which I’ve sailed on this year but based on that Tallink’s Star is the consummate new delivery of the past 24 months. Stylish and efficient, her introduction together with the Viking XPRS swept away any need for separate fast ferries on Tallin-Helsinki. But she is more than just fast – she is big, stylish and beautiful. Tallink have their detractors, (my main suggestion to them would be to keep the Tallink brand away from Silja as much as possible because it seems to only do harm there amongst Finns and Swedes) but you have to admire them when they produce newbuilds of this standard.

    The Star's Sunset Bar

    The Star's Sunset Bar

    The Dubrovnik (ex-Connacht/Duchesse Anne) and the Ancona at Split

    The Dubrovnik (ex-Connacht/Duchesse Anne) and the Ancona at Split


    Best classic ferry
    I think the Ancona of SEM/Blue Lines will win this every year. The ironic thing is that she was pretty much anachronistic when delivered, with sub-optimal vehicle decks and slightly old-fashioned passenger spaces. Yet perhaps her biggest strength has been the almost old-fashioned quality of her build, which sets her apart from many of her 1960s contemporaries. A good compare and contrast is with her fleetmate the Split 1700 – same year, same designers but a world away in style. SEM seem to know it and the Ancona is their undoubted flagship, a ferry every enthusiast should try and sail on at least once if they can.
    Sunset in Split, from the Ancona

    Sunset in Split, from the Ancona

    The Ariadne at Piraeus.

    The Ariadne at Piraeus.


    Best Jap
    We tend to be slightly dismissive of Japanese ferry conversions, but I think the reality is that the dismissal should be on the conversion, not the Japanese. Pre-conversion they are incredibly fascinating ships to sail on but since almost all of the ships that come to Europe sail into the hands of the Greek shipyards, their charm is obliterated (see amongst others Prevelis, GA’s Marina, Rodanthi etc etc). Done well however and things can be different – so the best for me this year was ANEK/HSW’s Ariadne, which is virtually a newbuild and the epitome of modern Greek shipboard design. The Ionian Queen of Endeavor was also pretty good. For an unchanged Japanese original, check out Jadrolinija’s Lubenice or Brestova.
    On  board Jadrolinija's Lubenice

    On board Jadrolinija's Lubenice

    Dinnertime on the Ariadne.

    Dinnertime on the Ariadne.


    Best food
    Theoretically ferry food has come on leaps and bounds over the years, but some operators just don’t seem to have cottoned on. SNCM’s Napoleon Bonaparte was a good (bad?) example, which makes an interesting counterpoint to their main rivals Corsica Ferries where I’ve always found the food pretty good – the buffet on the Mega Smeralda (ex-Color Festival/Svea) in particular was excellent.

    Other good meals were had on the Mariella, Seafrance Berlioz and breakfast on the Oleander. The to-order pancakes on SSC never disappoint (the Ofelia being good this year) but for an overall experience the Ariadne again proved hard to beat. Prices for the waiter service were literally about 20 Eurocents more than the self-service yet the experience was unbeatable and rounded off by the waiter delivering complimentary rounds of Ouzo. Now I’m not a big fan but didn’t want to appear ungrateful so downed it, at which point he promptly filled the glass up again, and again. So that ended up being a very long night…

    Room for one more? Squeezing them all in on the Duchess M.

    Room for one more? Squeezing them all in on the Duchess M.


    Worst ferry
    It seems a little harsh but there are always going to be some howlers. The Duchess M (ex-Breizh Izel) of Marlines was dirty, overcrowded and miserable. The interior passenger spaces were restricted to an upstairs bar and a downstairs self-service and when the latter wasn’t open you weren’t allowed in. Passengers without a cabin had a truly miserable time and since the cabins were fairly grotty that’s saying something.

    However I’ll forgive that ship a little simply due to her age. To me even worse was the much more modern Blue Star Ithaki. Ill-advised by guidebooks such as Frewin Poffley’s Greek Island Hopping, backpackers subject themselves unnecessarily to hours of torment on ships that are too small for the operations they are used on – or perhaps more pointedly, the loads they take. It was a case of find a seat and cling to it for the entire voyage. Painful, miserable and, since it’s an everyday occurrance, unforgivable.

    The Boughaz and Banasa at Algeciras, May 2008. The latter remains probably the best ferry on the Straits of Gibralter, but on our sailing the catering standards were notably inferior to the former.

    The Boughaz and Banasa at Algeciras, May 2008. The latter remains probably the best ferry on the Strait of Gibralter, but on our sailing the catering standards were notably inferior to the former.


    Worst food
    I’ll usually eat pretty much anything but the Red Star I (ex-Thoresen’s Viking III) was truly awful. And, after a superb meal in the restaurant on COMARIT’s Boughaz in 2007, the Banasa in 2008 plumbed the depths, including plastic plates, knives and forks. And food come to that.
    What was particularly galling was that the freight drivers had full service and a full menu in their section, served by the same staff, from the same galley. Since we were pretty much the only non drivers on board it wouldn’t have been hard to go that bit further.

    The Penelope A

    The Penelope A


    Biggest Disappointment
    It’s doesn’t feel right saying it but Agoudimos Lines’ Penelope A (ex-Horsa) was in pretty squalid condition this Summer. The new furnishings given to the ship last year in the forward two bars were already ripped and worn. Since it took 20 years for the previous fittings installed by Sealink to fall into similar disrepair I think we can draw some conclusions. The 2007 refit was carried out primarily by the ship’s crew during the Winter and it doesn’t appear to have been of the highest quality, the best intentions of the crew notwithstanding. The company and the ship still have a loyal following on the Rafina-Andros-Tinos-Mykonos run but the competition is stiff and often superior. The Horsa’s sister, the Agios Georgios (ex-Hengist) in contrast is in superb condition so it shouldn’t be too difficult if Agoudimos had the intent.

    So that’s it – hopefully 2009 will offer as much variety and fun as 2008. Things have shut down a little for the Winter, which gives scope to write up a few voyages from last year. Starting, perhaps, with the Ancona herself.

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