Posts tagged: erotokritos t

That Was The Year That Was – 2010

The Vis (ex-Sydfyn) at Ubli in July. The ship has since been withdrawn from service.

The Vis (ex-Sydfyn) at Ubli in July. The ship has since been withdrawn from service.

In ferry terms, 2010 will perhaps be remembered as a year in which dozens of classic ships from Southern Europe were despatched for scrap. Over twenty ships on which I had sailed headed to the breakers during the past twelve months including some of my absolute favourites such as the former Senlac (Apollon), Mette Mols (Istra) and Svea (Ancona).

On the other hand there were relatively few significant new ferries introduced in 2010, as delivery rates slowed and shipyard orderbooks thinned out – the new Stena Hollandica and her sister proved to be the real highlight of the year in this respect. 2011 promises a little more and the arrival of P&O’s Spirit of Britain this month offers a first chance to see if that company can finally offer anything innovative, followed (definitely maybe) by LD Lines’ Norman Leader.

On a personal level, 75 ships were sailed on and two visited in port, whilst 33 nights were spent at sea. In an effort to make a final farewell to some of those doomed classics, the average age of ships sampled in 2010 was 22 years old compared to 17 in 2009 – and indeed nine of the 2010 ships have subsequently been withdrawn.

Based purely on subjective feelings on those 77 vessels, here are some bests and worsts of the year.

The Stena Hollandica at Hoek in November.

The Stena Hollandica at Hoek van Holland in November.

Best new ferry
Looking at ships delivered in 2009 or 2010 and new to me this year only one vessel really stands out – the new Stena Hollandica on the Harwich-Hoek route. Her sheer size marks her out but she also gives a useful indication of where Stena see the future – a ferry version of “the vision thing” from one of the industry’s leading operators with the deepest pockets. Relatively luxurious and expensively-finished accommodation above huge and flexible freight decks seems to be the answer for an operation which, as with many of Stena’s legacy routes, still has a strong passenger element.

There was not really much competition on the new ferry front – other recently-delivered ships sailed on in the past twelve months were Norfolkline’s Humber Viking (an interesting and efficient ro-ro), Wight Ryder I and II (awful), Minoan’s Cruise Europa (dysfunctional), Nova Ferries’ Phedra (pleasant enough) and Jadrolinija’s Jadran (generic).

The Habib leaving Genoa.

The Habib leaving Genoa.


Best classic ferry and favourite crossing
Four of us travelled between Tunis and Genoa on Tunisia Ferries’ 1978-built Habib in July and, looking back on the year, all agreed that the sailing on this ship was the highlight. Although it still seems uncertain, it is to be hoped that this beautiful ship of state will continue sailing in future years – despite her age, she seems in reliable mechanical condition and her largely original 1970s interiors with dozens of pieces of bespoke artwork are quite remarkable. The Habib is one of the all-time classic car ferries.

The oldest ship sailed on in 2010 was the local Lisbon ferry the Eborense of Transtejo e Soflusa, built in 1954 – whilst she is not and has no need to be a Habib, she is certainly a delightful little ship and, happily, looks set to be retained despite the delivery of new vessels.

The cross-river Lisbon ferry Eborense.

The cross-river Lisbon ferry Eborense.

A rainy day in Gdynia.

A rainy day in Gdynia.


Worst crossing
There was something indescribably horrific about sailing on the Stena Baltica (ex-Koningin Beatrix) between Karlskrona and Gdynia on a wet day crossing in June. This ship received a major conversion to drive-through loading with twin freight decks and a complete refurbishment of the passenger lounges just before Stena’s new enlightenment with regard to interior design. The new freight arrangements seemed to work well enough, but ten hours staring at shiny plastic laminate flooring, wipe-down surfaces and jarring decor would be enough to drive anyone to distraction, never mind the forgettable food and the depressing weather. Wherever she ends up next, hopefully the Stena Baltica will get some urgent attention to revive her passenger spaces which, whilst originally slightly spartan in places, were at least previously coherent and pleasant.

The Sveti Stefan II at Bar in Montenegro.

The Sveti Stefan II at Bar in Montenegro.

Worst maintained ship
No doubting the winner of this one – Montenegro Lines’ Sveti Stefan II (ex-Prinz Hamlet, Nieborow). Bruce has written a bit more about what was a rather sad and run-down vessel in a piece in which the pictures speak for themselves.

Not far behind in this particular race were Blu Navy’s Primrose (ex-Princesse Marie-Christine), Le Rif (ex-Galloway Princess) of Moroccan operator IMTC and P&O’s soon to be withdrawn Pride of Calais. The most dismal single passenger space I saw on a ship operating for a mainstream operator however was another ship near the end of her P&O career: on the Pride of Bilbao what was once the Flash Disco, later a ro-ro lounge, was in use as a smokers’ area with giant ashtrays, ripped sofa seating and fag ash ground into the carpet. Not a pretty sight.

P&O's premier cruise ferry.

P&O's premier cruise ferry.

Best food
At the heart of any great ferry trip lies a decent meal and one operator stood out above all others in 2010 – Unity Line’s Polonia and Skania both provided memorable fare in the restaurants on their route between Swinoujscie and Ystad.

On the downside the Polonia also offered the most unpleasant crew member of the year – a ‘bouncer’ at the entrance to the forward lounge whose main aim in life was to bar entry to anyone who had any luggage with them – including small rucksacks and handbags. Since one cannot get access to the restaurant without passing through this lounge, it was no surprise to find that we were the only diners. As the forward bar stayed empty, all the other passengers could be found cooped up in the rather unluxurious self-service.

Unity Line food - fish soup (Skania)...

Unity Line food - fish soup (Skania)...

... the lamb (Skania)...

... the lamb (Skania)...

... and apple pie for dessert (Polonia).

... and apple pie for dessert (Polonia).

Elsewhere on the food front, the kitchens on Tunisia Ferries’ Carthage rustled up a superb couscous served with lamb, the lunchtime smörgÃ¥sbord on Scandlines’ Hamlet was low in cost and high in quality, SNCM’s Napoleon Bonaparte offered an unexpectedly good buffet whilst the excellent food in the restaurant of Fastnet Line’s Julia almost made up for the somewhat run-down nature of the rest of the ship.

Lunch on the Carthage.

Lunch on the Carthage.

Worst food
Alas, the Sveti Stefan II strikes again; in her restaurant all the main courses arrived still box-shaped.

The restaurant on the Sveti Stefan II.

The restaurant on the Sveti Stefan II.

Forward stairwell on the Eritokritos T.

Forward stairwell on the Eritokritos T.


Best Jap
Former Japanese ferries in Southern Europe continue to receive, perhaps not unsuprisingly, scant attention from north European enthusiasts, but there are some very interesting vessels worthy of attention. In the past couple of years I have mentioned two superbly-converted ships – the Ariadne and the Elyros – but in many respects even more engaging are those which retain elements of their original Japanese design. Japanese ferries have evolved a quite distinct look both inside and out compared to their European counterparts and the Eritokritos T (which has now sailed for scrap) and her sister the Lato showed how intriguing and attractive surviving elements of this can be in the passenger spaces.

That said, although both the Erotokritos T and the Lato had some interesting bits and pieces, probably the most impressive Japanese-built ferry of 2010 was Agoudimos Lines’ Ionian King. Whilst obviously very similar to her sister (Endeavor’s Ionian Queen), this ship has been slightly more impressively reconditioned. A trip on either vessel is to be recommended – they are probably the best ships sailing out of Southern Adriatic Italian ports today. If budgets permit, travelling in one of the super-luxury ‘Emperor’ suites would be the best way to travel.

The Lido deck on the Ionian King.

The Lido deck on the Ionian King.

Lastly, NEL Line’s chartered European Express (ex-Takachiho Maru) wins the award for most laudable onboard signage.

On board the European Express.

On board the European Express.

Mediterranean Massacre – Part One

The revised SOLAS (Safety of Life At Sea) regulations which came into force on 30 September were expected to cause several casualties, but the speed and number of older ferries which have been sent straight for scrapping has still been quite startling.

Although we will take a more detailed look at a couple of these ships in due course, for now here is a quick run down of both the higher-profile 2010 Southern Europe scrappers and a few lesser lights which passed for demolition with little remark or remorse. In a second post there will be a look at those ships which could be next – assuming more haven’t passed over in the meantime.

Starting in the west and the Sara I (ex-Djursland II) was despatched by COMARIT before the Summer even began. She spent her final years owned by El Salam but, on charter, she was a regular on Moroccan routes until the end.

Starting in the west and the Sara I (ex-Djursland II) was despatched by COMARIT before the Summer even began. She spent her final years owned by El Salam but, on charter, she was a regular on Moroccan routes until the end.

Sara I.

Sara I.

Of the four ferries Stena had built in Yugoslavia in the early 1970s now only one, the Scotia Prince (ex-Stena Olympica) survives. 2010 saw the end for the Euroferrys Atlantica (ex-Stena Jutlandica). Slightly grim towards the end, her teak-lined promenade deck was still one of the best in the business.

Of the four ferries Stena had built in Yugoslavia in the early 1970s only one, the Scotia Prince (ex-Stena Olympica) now survives. 2010 saw the end for the Euroferrys Atlantica (ex-Stena Jutlandica). Slightly grim towards the end, her teak-lined promenade deck was still one of the best in the business.

For over 20 years the Ouzoud (ex-Fedra, Peter Pan (1974)) was one of the most recognisable ferries in Southern Europe. 15 years with Minoan Lines was followed by a sale to El Salam where she remained on charter to COMANAV for their Tangier-Genoa line. As with the Sara I, the COMANAV-COMARIT tie-up allowed the ship to be returned to her owners, who immediately sent her for scrapping in India.

For over 20 years the Ouzoud (ex-Fedra, Peter Pan (1974)) was one of the most recognisable ferries in Southern Europe. 15 years with Minoan Lines were followed by a sale to El Salam, who chartered her seasonally to COMANAV for their Tangier-Genoa line. As with the Sara I, the COMANAV-COMARIT tie-up allowed the ship to be returned to her owners, who then sent her for scrapping in India.

Ouzoud.

Ouzoud.

The Giulia D'Abundo (ex-Nils Dacke, Quiberon) had a strangely quiet end to her career. No longer required after owners Medmar ceased their longer distance services, she saw intermittent charter use but after 2007 was permanently laid up in Naples before passing to Indian scrappers in early 2010 as the Abundo. She is seen here in July 2008.

The little Redentore Primo (ex-Langeland, Solidor) was latterly one of Medmar's local ferries serving the bay of Naples area. She had an interesting career, from her initial role as a duty free day trip link between Germany and Denmark to the pioneer Channel Islands-France car ferry. Her final 20 years were spent in Italy, from where she headed for Aliaga in September having seen only limited seasonal use in recent times.

The little Redentore Primo (ex-Langeland, Solidor) was latterly one of Medmar's local ferries serving the bay of Naples area. She had an interesting career, from her initial role as a duty free day trip link between Germany and Denmark to 12 years as the pioneer Channel Islands-France car ferry. Her final 20 years were spent in Italy, from where she headed for Aliaga in September having seen only limited seasonal use in recent times.

In a remarkable twist of fate, the two pioneer ships of North Sea operator Tor Line were beached near to each other in Aliaga days apart - nearly 35 years since they had last operated under the same ownership. The delightful Baia Sardinia (ex-Tor Anglia. 1966), seen here off Palau, was the older of the pair and much less altered than her sister.

In a remarkable twist of fate, the two pioneer ships of North Sea operator Tor Line were beached near to each other in Aliaga days apart - nearly 35 years since they had last operated under the same ownership. The delightful Baia Sardinia (ex-Tor Anglia, 1966), seen here off Palau, was the older of the pair and much less altered than her sister.

The Baia Sardinia's sister, the former Tor Hollandia of 1967, was latterly the F-Diamond. After a very successful second career in Greece, her final years were rather miserable: painted in an all-over black livery as a party ship for Fashion TV she was later abandoned in Genoa, before finally being sold at auction. She is seen here in July 2010, with the similarly forsaken Italroro Three astern.

The Croatian state operator Jadrolinija have tended in the past simply to place redundant ships into prolonged layup rather than immediately scrap them. This was not the case however with the Istra (ex-Mette Mols) which, after 29 years service with the company, arrived in Aliaga in May. She is seen here arriving in Split in 2007.

The Croatian state operator Jadrolinija have tended in the past simply to place redundant ships into prolonged layup rather than immediately scrap them. This was not the case however with the Istra (ex-Mette Mols) which, after 29 years service with the company, arrived in Aliaga in May. She is seen here at Split in 2007.

The Istra's little fleetmate, the Vanga (ex-Bastø III, 1968) found her way to the beach in a more roundabout fashion, passing from Jadrolinija to a Slovakian buyer, supposedly for further use. This was not to be the case however and she was at Aliaga by September. The Vanga is seen here leaving Split in July 2005, with the cruise ship Jason arriving in the background. One of three ships built by the Italian government as post-World War 2 reparations to Greece, the Jason passed for scrapping in late 2009 after a brief final period as the Ocean Odyssey in India.

The Istra's little fleetmate, the Vanga (ex-Bastø III, 1968) found her way to the beach in a more roundabout fashion, passing from Jadrolinija to a Slovakian buyer, supposedly for further use. This was not to be the case however and she was at Aliaga by September. The Vanga is seen here leaving Split in July 2005, with the cruise ship Jason arriving in the background. One of three ships built by the Italian government as post-World War 2 reparations to Greece, the Jason passed for scrapping in late 2009 after a brief final period as the Ocean Odyssey in India.

The Guglielmo Mazzola, seen here laid up in Bari in July 2010, was originally built as the Vittore Carpaccio. Her final two decades saw sporadic, almost random service: very briefly she ran as a car ferry from Brindisi to Corfu, an attempt was made to use her to break into the Elba ferry market whilst by 2005 she was serving as a party ship at the South Italian town of Gallipoli. Abandoned in Bari for several years, she was scrapped at Aliaga.

The Guglielmo Mazzola, seen here laid up in Bari in July 2010, was originally built as the Vittore Carpaccio. Her final two decades saw sporadic, almost random service: very briefly she ran as a car ferry from Brindisi to Corfu, an attempt was made to use her to break into the Elba ferry market whilst by 2005 she was serving as a party ship at the South Italian town of Gallipoli. Abandoned in Bari for several years, she was scrapped at Aliaga.

The Grecia and Venezia (top) were two of a class of four ships built for Adriatica in the 1970s. The pair passed to the Greek-controlled Halkydon Shipping who operated them from Italy to Albania but were sent for scrapping, in Turkey, straight after 30 September. They are survived by the other two sisters - Hellenic Seaways' Express Pegasus and Adria Ferries' heavily-rebuilt Riviera del Conero.

The Athens (right) of Ventouris Ferries was built in Australia for domestic coastal service as the ro-ro Brisbane Trader in 1969. She came to Greece in 1986, acquired additional passenger accommodation and was an Adriatic regular for the next 23 years, passing for scrap in April. She is seen here alongside Adria Ferries' Riviera Adriatica (ex-Orion, Daedalus) at Durres, Albania in September 2009.

A slightly more surprising Ventouris Ferries casualty was the 1976-built Siren (ex-Dana Gloria). Displaced from her place alongside stretched sister Polaris (ex-Dana Futura) on the trunk route from Bari to Igoumenitsa by the Seatrade (ex-Stena Seatrader), in 2009 she served as a third ship on the Bari-Durres route. Through the Winter of 2009/10 she marked a Ventouris return after many years to Brindisi from where she operated to Igoumenitsa. With Ventouris forming a partnership with Agoudimos for 2010, this was not to be a permanent operation and the Siren was sent to be scrapped in Alang.

Although it has been many years since she operated in Europe, mention should be made of the former Castalia which this year went for scrap under her final name, Casino Royale. Arguably the most stylish Greek-built ferry, she was completed for Hellenic Mediterranean Lines in 1974 and served them until a sale to American owners in 1988.  HML's similarly-styled cruise ship Aquarius (1972) survives and, having also left the Greek fleet in the 1980s, has recently been sold for further service in Cuba.

Although it has been many years since she operated in Europe, mention should be made of the former Castalia which this year went for scrap under her final name, Casino Royale. Arguably the most stylish Greek-built ferry, she was completed for Hellenic Mediterranean Lines in 1974 and served them until a sale to American owners in 1988. HML's similarly-styled cruise ship Aquarius (1972) survives and, having also left the Greek fleet in the 1980s, has recently been sold for further service in Cuba.

Castalia as St Tropez.

Castalia as St Tropez (2005).

The fate of the Apollon (ex-Senlac) has been covered on this website in some detail. She is seen here leaving Corfu in July 2007 - her first season for her final owners, European Seaways.

The fate of the Apollon (ex-Senlac) has been covered on this website in some detail. She is seen here leaving Corfu in July 2007 - her first season for her final owners, European Seaways.

Strintzis' Ionian Island and Ionian Galaxy caused a sensation on Greece-Italy operations when introduced in 1987/88. Converted from the Japanese Albiero and Arkas they set new standards of luxury in the final years before the advent of Superfast. After the Iraq War, both ships were sold and used to institute a service between Dubai and Iraq as the Merdif 1 and Merdif 2. Whilst the latter for now survives, the Merdif 1 was despatched for breaking in India in the Summer of 2010 but is seen here in happier days as the Ionian Island in August 1999.

Strintzis' Ionian Island and Ionian Galaxy caused a sensation on Greece-Italy operations when introduced in 1987/88. Converted from the Japanese Albiero and Arkas they set new standards of luxury in the final years before the advent of Superfast. After the Iraq War in 2003 the two ships were sold and used to institute a service between Dubai and Iraq as the Merdif 1 and Merdif 2. Whilst the latter for now survives, the Merdif 1 was despatched for breaking in India in the Summer of 2010 but is seen here in happier days as the Ionian Island in August 1999.

The Menhir, seen here laid up in Amberlaki in 2007, was built for Skagerrak use as the Christian IV in 1968 but whose career went on to encompass use as a troop transport, and later again as a ferry in Madeira. Displaced from this in 2003 she spent her final five years laid up in Greece before being reported sold for scrap in September 2010.

The Menhir, seen here laid up in Amberlaki in 2007, was built for Skagerrak use as the Christian IV in 1968 but her career went on to encompass use as a troop transport, and later again as a ferry in Madeira. Displaced from this in 2003 she spent her final five years laid up in Greece before being reported sold for scrap in September 2010.

The Panagia Hozoviotissa, seen here leaving Sifnos in 2005 in A K Ventouris colours, was sold by final operators NEL Lines for demolition in Turkey in May. Locally built in 1977, she spent all of her career in Greek waters except for an unexpected mid-life break in the Balearics where, as the Isla de Ibiza, she became one of Balearia's first ships.

The Panagia Hozoviotissa, seen here leaving Sifnos in 2005 in A K Ventouris colours, was sold by final operators NEL Lines for demolition in Turkey in May. Locally built in 1977, she spent all of her career in Greek waters except for an unexpected mid-life break in the Balearics where, as the Isla de Ibiza, she became one of Balearia's first ships.

Sold out of the Greek fleet in 2006, the Express Adonis (ex-Ailsa Princess, Earl Harold) spent her final years as a bottom of the market Indian cruise ship, the New Caribbean Princess. Broadly unchanged from her mid-life Sealink 'Sunliner' refit, she was sold to local breakers in April but is seen here towards the end of her Aegean career, in 2003.

Sold out of the Greek fleet in 2006, the Express Adonis (ex-Ailsa Princess, Earl Harold) spent her final years as a bottom of the market Indian cruise ship, the New Caribbean Princess. Broadly unchanged from her mid-life Sealink 'Sunliner' refit, she was sold to local breakers in April but is seen here towards the end of her Aegean career, in 2003.

The Erotokritos T of Endeavor Lines had, in her 19 year Southern Europe career, become one of the most famous Greek ferries. Built as the Japanese Ishikari in 1974, she was acquired by Minoan Lines in 1991 and converted for Adriatic use. Endeavor Lines acquired her in 2007 and she maintained their services out of Brindisi until the end. A classic of her type, her forward accommodation block was mostly intact Japanese from her original incarnation, including an intricately executed grand staircase.

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