Posts tagged: corfu

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.

Blast from the past: Appia

The Appia of 1961 was the first car ferry of the Italian state-controlled operator Adriatica. She joined the equally new Greek (Hellenic Mediterranean Lines)-owned Egnatia on a ground-breaking joint service from Brindisi to Corfu, Igoumenitsa and Patras, the Adriatic’s first proper car ferry operation. The ships, which proved a great success, took their names from the two Roman roads which, on their respective sides of the sea, connected Rome with Constantinople (Istanbul). We will return to the Egnatia and HML at a later date – unlike their Greek counterparts, Adriatica still exists, in a much denuded form, as a small and seemingly unwanted division of Tirrenia. The failure of either operator to properly build on the early success of the Egnatia and Appia has to be viewed as something of a tragedy given the possibilities that existed in the Adriatic market, as exemplified today by the modern and heretofore broadly profitable services of relative newcomers like Minoan Lines, ANEK and Superfast.

The Appia was as far removed as can be imagined from the current speedy leviathans yet, at her introduction, she was fairly revolutionary – Italy’s first drive-on international car ferry. Her inaugural brochure proclaims “a new, comfortable and fast means of conveyance; she is the answer to the requirements of modern tourism, of which motoring is so great a part. The crossing between Brindisi and the west coast of Greece takes approximately eight hours and can be made in comfort at remarkably little expense.

“If desired the crossing can be extended to take in the sea trip between Igoumenitsa and Patras – this trip, always made in daylight hours, is of the greatest interest, the island scenery being unfailingly beautiful”.

The ship in size and speed seems quite puny now – her two Fiat diesel engines providing a 17 knot service speed which powered her 706 overnight passengers on the 19 and a half hour (with a following wind) through crossing to Patras.

A pre-construction imagining of the Appia...

A pre-delivery imagining of the Appia...


... and the real thing as delivered.

... and the real thing as delivered.

Later Adriatica brochures would detail her onboard delights: “a one class ship with dayroom, bar, restaurant, swimming pool, lido, snack bar, promenades and sun decks. There is also an information service on board, a shop, automatic dispensers of hot and cold drinks and – an entirely new idea – telecinema equipment which transmits to various parts of the ship normal television programmes, films and live entertainments and reportage. No effort has been spared to make the passenger comfortable, the decor especially demonstrates the designers’ desire to capture the holiday mood, without sacrificing any elegance or convenience.”

That decor was very slightly more staid than might have been expected had the Appia been built slightly further into the ’60s but it was not unattractive and the traditional Italian pegboard ceilings and polished linoleum floors could be found throughout. The ship’s nicely-detailed circular swimming pool featured an eminently photographable water slide which slotted in between a gap in the mainmast. Cabin space was for just 200, the balance of her passenger load being accommodated on deck or in the various reclining seat lounges, the largest being located just beneath the bridge. The relatively small vehicle deck (for up to 100 cars) had cabins running alongside at the upper level leaving a small centreline area astern for up to six coaches to be carried in an area aft of a very wide centre casing.

The ship's tightly-packed car deck, which would prove restrictive in the ship's later years.

The ship's tightly-packed car deck, which would prove restrictive in the ship's later years.

Astern on the lower of the main passenger decks, Deck C, was the main restaurant, as conceived (above) and completed (below).

Astern on the lower of the main passenger decks, Deck C, was the main restaurant, as conceived (above) and completed (below).

The restaurant was linked to the lobby, amidships, by this starboard-side arcade.

The restaurant was linked to the lobby, amidships, by this starboard-side arcade.

The main C Deck lobby.

The main C Deck lobby.

On the deck above, B Deck, forward was this large observation saloon filled with reclining seats.

On the deck above, B Deck, forward was this large observation saloon filled with reclining seats.

Astern on this deck was the “Sala Soggiorno” or Living Room, seen here as visualised in the inaugural brochure.

Astern on this deck was the “Sala Soggiorno” or Living Room, seen here as visualised in the inaugural brochure.

The same area as completed.

The same area as completed.

Aft on A Deck, the outside decks were served by this lido bar.

Aft on A Deck, the outside decks were served by this lido bar.

A pre-delivery image of the ship's shapely swimming pool and slide, aft on A Deck.

A pre-delivery image of the ship's shapely swimming pool and slide, aft on A Deck.

The pool in use mid-crossing.

The pool in use mid-crossing.

The ship offered seven "Deluxe" two-berth cabins with private facilities including a full bath as well as one suite on C Deck, complete with private sitting area with TV and radio, as seen here.

The ship offered seven 'Deluxe' two-berth cabins with private facilities including a full bath as well as one suite on C Deck, complete with private sitting area with TV and radio, as seen here.

The sleeping area of one of the deluxe cabins.

The sleeping area of one of the deluxe cabins.

The bulk of the ship's cabin accommodation comprised Pullman-style rooms without facilities, which could be converted to night (above) or day (below) use.

The bulk of the ship's cabin accommodation comprised Pullman-style rooms without facilities, which could be converted to night (above) or day (below) use.

Unloading in Brindisi.

Unloading in Brindisi.

The Appia gave Adriatica loyal service for over 30 years, finally being sold to Indian interests in 1992 who briefly operated her as the Fibi before she headed to Alang for scrapping in 1995.

Her famous operators still had a few good years left, but their final conventional purpose-builds for the international services, the incredible trio of flops the Palladio, Sansovino and Laurana, were a dangerous warning sign that all was not well. Ships and time-honoured routes were quickly shed as the operation lost its independence and fell under a seemingly disinterested Tirrenia management in Naples. In 2010, the year in which perhaps Adriatica’s most famous ship, the ex-Ausonia, finally headed for scrap, there are further serious doubts about the future of the sole remaining service, from Bari to Durres in Albania, of what is now simply Tirrenia’s Divisione Adriatica.

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