Posts tagged: hengist

Hengist, Horsa, Senlac: The Rafina Summer of 2004

Although built together for Sealink, being delivered in 1972-73, the Hengist, Horsa and Senlac never operated together as such, the Senlac being Newhaven-based. There were a few occasions when the Senlac ventured east, with Newhaven-Boulogne even being operated as an emergency service on occasion when Dieppe was out of action. However these were never anything other than temporary measures.

When Hellas Ferries was created in 1999/2000, the ships, by then all operating for different Greek operators, once again came together in one fleet. Agapitos Lines’ Panagia Ekatontapiliani (ex-Hengist) became the Express Artemis, Agoudimos Lines’ Penelope A (ex-Horsa) became the Express Penelope whilst Agapitos Express Ferries’ Express Apollon (ex-Senlac) retained her name.

They remained together in the same fleet, generally operating rather different itineraries to one another, until early 2004, when the former Hengist and Horsa were sold by Hellas Ferries to local competitors – the Hengist to her original Greek owners, Ventouris Sea Lines, and the Horsa back to Agoudimos Lines.

2004 was Olympic year and for that season only Hellas Ferries made the decision to deploy two ships out of Rafina rather than the main but busy port of Piraeus, namely the Express Apollon and the Express Aphrodite (ex-St Columba). Rafina had been the home to the Penelope A/Express Penelope for the duration of her Greek career. Along with the Superferry II (ex-Prince Laurent) there were therefore four ex-Sealink ships engaged in the Rafina-Andros-Tinos-Mykonos trade that Summer.

The ‘H Class’ connection was complete when the Hengist, renamed Agios Georgios, was given a licence to operate Rafina-Paros-Naxos-Santorini sailings, being hurriedly introduced into service on 8 July.

Thus for one glorious Summer, late in their careers, the sisters were based together at the same port. Tasos Papanastasiou was able to capture these unique images of the three ships, once again operating for different companies, but this time coming head-to-head against each other in Rafina. For each picture, click for a larger image.

The Penelope A (ex-Horsa, left) chases the Express Apollon (ex-Senlac, right) into port.

The Penelope A (ex-Horsa, left) chases the Express Apollon (ex-Senlac, right) into port.

At the port entrance...

At the port entrance...


... it's single file only.

... it's single file only.

Together at Rafina

Together at Rafina

Another view of the three sister ships

Another view of the three sister ships

Lastly a unique, never to be repeated view showing five ex-Sealink ships together at Rafina. From left to right: the Penelope A, Express Aphrodite (ex-St Columba), Express Apollon, Superferry II (ex-Prince Laurent) and Agios Georgios.

Lastly a unique, never to be repeated view showing five ex-Sealink ships together at Rafina. From left to right: the Penelope A, Express Aphrodite (ex-St Columba), Express Apollon, Superferry II (ex-Prince Laurent) and Agios Georgios.

Images courtesy Tasos Papanastasiou & originally posted to nautilia.gr.

Picture of the week – 16 February 2009

'Piraeus Rush Hour'. Highspeed 1, Blue Star Ithaki and Agios Georgios (ex-Hengist), 27 July 2007 (click for larger image)

'Piraeus Rush Hour'. Highspeed 1, Blue Star Ithaki and Agios Georgios (ex-Hengist), 27 July 2007 (click for larger image)


Last week's picture

Last week's picture

To Sifnos and back

July 2007
We arrived in Piraeus on board the Theofilos of NEL Lines, all the way from Mytilene, up in the distant north Aegean. Our ship was originally TT Lines Nils Holgersson, direct predecessor of the ship of the same name which went on to become Brittany Ferries’ Val de Loire and is now the current King of Scandinavia. She remains a rather fun overnight ferry, but the highlight was the arrival in Piraeus that morning – dozens of cruise ships and ferries all lined up against the rising sun – a truly spectacular sight. Attention was immediately caught however by a pair of ferries lying next to each other – the Agios Georgios (ex-Hengist) and the Romilda (ex-Free Enterprise VIII).

To our chagrin we later found that the Okeanis (ex-Free Enterprise I) had called into Piraeus main port the previous day, surely her first call in years, supposedly before she sailed to Crete to begin a season day cruises. In the event, we found the ship a week later laid up again in Perama and the only movement she has made since then is to sail into Elefsis Bay where she remains laid up.

The Theofilos arrives in Piraeus

The Theofilos arrives in Piraeus


Agios Georgios & Romilda

Agios Georgios & Romilda


We’d been working on the not unreasonable assumption that the Theofilos would get onto her berth late but as it turned out she was actually rather early and we found ourselves disembarking at about 7.10am. That opened up a whole new avenue of possibilities – we’d intended on spending the day poking around the shipyards of Elefsis and Salamis prior to sailing out to Milos in the early evening on board the Vitsentzos Kornaros (ex-Viking Viscount/Pride of Winchester) of LANE Lines. Instead, a quick hop onto the port bendy bus followed by a lung-busting gallop to our friends at the Poseidon Travel agency saw us grab tickets for the Agios Georgios’ departure at 7.25am and sprint round to her berth. The knot-in-stomach feeling you get when you have a ticket, can see the ship’s stern door 400 metres away but know it could shut at any minute is a sort of recurring Piraeus nightmare – so far our luck has held.

On this occasion we shouldn’t have worried: Piraeus rush hour is when you can soon establish which operators are “in” and which are “out”. Understanding this inside/outside dichotomy is informative to understanding how the Greek ferry scene hangs together. Suffice to say, if you are Blue Star Ferries or Hellenic Seaways you are “in”. If you are, for example, the new Kallisti Ferries, you are most definitely “out”. And if you are Ventouris Sea Lines, you’re somewhere in between.

HSW & Blue Star ships – the insiders get the best berths

HSW & Blue Star ships – the insiders get the best berths


The Agios Georgios and VSL then fall into the “tolerated” category– as in you’re fine but don’t ideas above your station; and know your place. Which, when leaving Piraeus, is after all the Blue Star or HSW ships that want to leave at a similar time have already left. So the Agios Georgios strained at her ropes for a good 20 minutes as the Blue Star ferries sailed all the way out of the inner harbour (they get the best berths, right next to the railway station), past us and out.
We’re away at last! Farewell to the Romilda!

We’re away at last! Farewell to the Romilda!


Finally allowed to cast off, we headed out of the port, passing by both of HSW’s admirable modern sisters, the Nissos Mykonos and the brand new Nissos Chios. The Agios Georgios’ schedule for our sailing was Piraeus-Serifos-Sifnos-Kimolos-Milos. This was the route for many years operated by Lindos Lines and their famed Milos Express (ex-Vortigern), and you can still find this ship on plenty of postcards on her namesake island. In 1999, Lindos were absorbed into Hellas Ferries – the ‘V’ lasted with them until 2003. The attitude of locals on this chain of islands towards Hellas Ferries/Hellenic Seaways was somewhat strained – the real test of a ferry operator for the islanders is what happens in the Winter when the fast ferries can’t run – in this case, HSW latterly took to putting what were deemed “substandard” ships on the route, the poor old Express Adonis (ex-Ailsa Princess) being a particular figure of hate by some accounts. In later years, HSW abandoned the route altogether.

It was this resentment that VSL tapped into when they first deployed the Agios Georgios on the Milos run back in 2005. VSL have a murky past which doubtless makes anyone wary of “relying” on them, but compared to HSW they have reliably operated the lifeline since HSW abandoned the islands from 2006. The glorious Summer of 2005 was a magical one for anyone trying to catch a glimpse of genuine Greek ferry competition as once it was – the Express Aphrodite (ex-St Columba) and Agios Georgios left Piraeus at virtually identical times in the morning and would play island hopscotch with each other, racing all the way to Milos and back, the leader determined not to let the other overtake.

All of which was great fun, but not so good for the Agios Georgios’ engines, which really suffered for a while. Since then, and with a new crankshaft, things have been a little easier and although the core schedule is basically the same, she isn’t pushed nearly so hard which has to be a boost to her longevity.

The Nissos Mykonos

The Nissos Mykonos

The Theofilos

The Theofilos

The first leg to Serifos took a good three or four hours, so plenty of time to have a look around. The ship was pretty well packed – backpackers sprawled across the outside decks where the deck bar area had been completely refurbished before the Summer season. Islanders as ever stayed in the air conditioned interior, mostly asleep with the curtains firmly drawn….
On board the Agios Georgios

On board the Agios Georgios

One of the upper side promenade decks

One of the upper side promenade decks

The upper lobby with the Belsky mural on the right

The upper lobby with the Belsky mural on the right

The aft covered deck space was attractively refurbished in 2006/07

The aft covered deck space was attractively refurbished in 2006/07

The mural on the forward stairwell from Deck 5 ('B' deck in Sealink days).

The mural on the forward stairwell from Deck 5 ('B' deck in Sealink days).

English and French… but the warning wasn’t needed on a Sunny day like this

English and French… but the warning wasn’t needed on a Sunny day like this


The second port of call was Sifnos, a stunning location where the ferries sail between the rocky headland and into the port located between two sheer cliff faces. Some 25 years ago, the Kimolos (ex-Free Enterprise I) ran aground here quite spectacularly, although the damage was mostly to smaller boats in the harbour.
Arriving at Sifnos

Arriving at Sifnos

Next up: Kimolos itself, the little island next to Milos for whom the ex-FE I was named when she was running for Ventouris Ferries.
Kimolos

Kimolos

A little close to the rocks at Kimolos

A little close to the rocks at Kimolos

To Milos!

To Milos!

The great thing about staying on these ships all the way to the final island is that they get gradually quieter and quieter. From Sifnos onwards, the ship became something of a private yacht. I spent half an hour enjoying a drink in the forward bar (once the VSOE lounge).
The forward bar (formerly the VSOE Lounge)

The forward bar (formerly the VSOE Lounge)

At last, we arrived in Milos! By this time it was about 3.30pm. In harbour were the EasyCruise One and the Highspeed 1 which we’d seen earlier in Piraeus and had overtaken us en-route. In between the last two calls, we’d been wondering which island we actually wanted to stay on overnight and Serifos was the preferred option. How to get there…. well the Agios Georgios went back there at 4pm!

So just time for a quick dash off the ship, nip into the quayside ticket agency, and back on board again. This time we splashed out and upgraded to First Class – up in the former Wessex Bar above the VSOE. One of the real pleasures of Greek ferry travel is turning the tables on crew members who look at you, in their eyes yet another bedraggled backpacker, and try and usher you straight out onto deck. One flash of the first class ticket is never enough in these circumstances – they check and double check as if they can’t quite believe their eyes before letting you pass.

EasyCruise One at Milos

EasyCruise One at Milos

Disembarking in Milos before re-embarking again

Disembarking in Milos before re-embarking again

The First Class Bar

The First Class Bar

Out on deck one more time

Out on deck one more time

Final disembarkation at Sifnos

Final disembarkation at Sifnos

The beach at Sifnos in the late afternoon

The beach at Sifnos in the late afternoon

After getting off the ship in Sifnos, we had to find somewhere to stay – that was soon sorted with a room from a nice elderly lady sourced from the tourist office; the room incidentally had on the wall a nice framed photograph of the Express Pegasus on her maiden arrival in Sifnos back in 2000 when she had teamed up with the Express Milos in Hellas Ferries’ first year.

Finally there was some relaxation time – dinner was had at one of the beachside restaurants and a post-dinner stroll to the port followed in the hope of getting pictures of the last arrivals of the day, the Romilda and the Speedrunner II. The latter was headed to Milos before coming back and onward to Piraeus but day turned into night before the late-running ex-Stena Pegasus finally rounded the headland.

The Romilda at Sifnos

The Romilda at Sifnos

Sifnos Sunset

Sifnos Sunset

The Speedrunner II

The Speedrunner II


The following day we had a nice long lie in before wandering down to the portside area for some breakfast – a simple croissant and a cup of coffee sufficed, but it wasn’t too long before it was time to get the rucksacks on again and head back down to the ferry port. This time it would be a quick lunchtime hop to Milos, a stop for some afternoon tea there before getting the Romilda back to Piraeus. To get to Milos, the handy connection was provided by the Speedrunner I (ex-Hoverspeed Great Britain) and she arrived and left bang on time – something that would later prove challenging to the Romilda. The ‘HGB’ was pleasantly filled on this short 50 minute leg and hasn’t changed very much since she has been in Greece, still retaining a model of herself in Seacat colours with an explanation of the Hales Trophy win.
A peaceful morning in Sifnos…

A peaceful morning in Sifnos…

…interrupted by the arrival of the Speedrunner I

…interrupted by the arrival of the Speedrunner I

Speedrunner I

Speedrunner I

Speedrunner I

Speedrunner I

On board the Speedrunner I

On board the Speedrunner I

On board the Speedrunner I

On board the Speedrunner I

On board the Speedrunner I

On board the Speedrunner I

On board the Speedrunner I

On board the Speedrunner I

On board the Speedrunner I

On board the Speedrunner I

On board the Speedrunner I

On board the Speedrunner I

There still just isn’t something quite right about seeing this flapping around on a Greek island ferry.

There still just isn’t something quite right about seeing this flapping around on a Greek island ferry.

On board the Speedrunner I

On board the Speedrunner I

On board the Speedrunner I

On board the Speedrunner I

The Speedrunner I leaving Milos

The Speedrunner I leaving Milos

The ship promptly arrived in Milos, unloaded and quickly reloaded before disappearing into a characteristic cloud of exhaust fumes. We had only one job before dinner… purchase tickets for the Romilda back to Piraeus. This wasn’t as easy as might be imagined: some times ticket agents care just that little bit too much about their customer’s welfare! The agency adjacent to the berths in Milos (not affiliated to any company in particular) was convinced we were just simple tourists who needed a favour doing when we asked for tickets for her sailing – we were politely told, “no, is no good, dirty, bad ship. The Agios Georgios is faster, cleaner”. All of which was true and, in fact, quite a persuasive argument – although the A.G. was scheduled to depart Milos a little later she would get into Piraeus somewhat earlier, mostly but not entirely due to her more direct routing. We persevered however and eventually and somewhat reluctantly were sold our tickets.

Just after lunch a booming horn indicated the arrival of the Agios Georgios which arrived on her morning sail from Piraeus, backed onto the berth and sat there for her half hour turn around. She then left again as swiftly as she had arrived. There was still no sign of the Romilda which was scheduled to have left 20 minutes earlier. Finally, about an hour later than timetabled, she hurried round the headland, her great belches of smoke giving even the Speedrunner I a run for her money.

The Agios Georgios at Milos

The Agios Georgios at Milos

The late-running Romilda arrives at Milos

The late-running Romilda arrives at Milos

The long wait of the Romilda’s passengers in the Milos ‘cattle pens’ is over!

The long wait of the Romilda’s passengers in the Milos ‘cattle pens’ is over!

On board the Romilda

On board the Romilda

On board the Romilda

On board the Romilda

On board the Romilda

On board the Romilda

On board the Romilda

On board the Romilda

The builder's plate

The builder's plate

On board the Romilda

On board the Romilda

On board the Romilda

On board the Romilda

On board the Romilda

On board the Romilda

The upper car deck

The upper car deck

On board the Romilda

On board the Romilda

Farewell to Milos…

Farewell to Milos…

Slow but steady progress

Slow but steady progress


The Romilda really is a slow old thing nowadays (or is run slowly), and was noticeably taking a little longer than the Agios Georgios had between the same island pairs the previous day. Most passengers crowded either on the outside decks, or laid flat out on the sofa seating inside. And woe betide anyone who decided they might need to use the toilet facilities in passage. Suffice to say, it was possible, but only if you really were desperate.

The best thing to do was settle down with a book in a quiet corner (preferably out of the way of funnel smuts) or have a snooze. If the heat became too much, it was time to head inside and snuggle down in one of the reclining seats on the upper deck. Time soon passed, and the sun was setting as we arrived at Kythnos.

Sunset from the Romilda

Sunset from the Romilda

Sunset from the Romilda

Sunset from the Romilda

Kythnos

Kythnos


Somewhat inevitably, the Romilda lost more time en route to Piraeus and it was well past midnight before we finally disembarked; just before getting off, I did a quick tour to grab images of those places which had been too busy to photograph mid-crossing. The upper deck lounge (latterly Club Class with P&O) remained resolutely locked – this seems to be the near-permanent situation and in the past couple of years they’ve also locked off the aft outside deck on this level.
A final look around

A final look around

The upper bar

The upper bar

The main lounge, forward

The main lounge, forward

Adjacent, the main bar is still 'The Peninsular Bar'

Adjacent, the main bar is still 'The Peninsular Bar'

Postscript
As of February 2009 the Romilda and Agios Georgios remain operating for GA Ferries and Ventouris Sea Lines respectively.
The Speedrunner I was sold by Aegean Speed Lines in early 2008 and spent that year’s Summer running day cruises out of Rethimnon in Crete under the name Sea Runner; ASL continued operations with the Speedrunner II operating alone.

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.

Happy New Year

Season's Greetings

Season's Greetings

Happy New Year & Welcome to 2009!

With special reference to the website this blog is supposed to support, I suppose I should mention that this is the 40th year since the Vortigern first hit the water. At some stage I might do a retrospective over how much has changed in those 40 years, but the volume of change is so immense it perhaps isn’t even worthwhile to compare the eras.

The launch of the Vortigern, March 5 1969 (courtesy Roy Thornton collection)

The launch of the Vortigern, March 5 1969 (courtesy Roy Thornton collection)

However one slice of optimism for the New Year which the Vortigern herself might relish is the return, in fully-fledged conventional form, of the Dover-Boulogne route the ship was built for. Allied to the revival in recent years of her ‘other’ route, Dover-Dunkerque, with ships which match the ‘V’ herself for their dilemma-ridden mix of earnest contemporary style and occasional inherent impracticality, and in some ways the good old days are back.

One thing that romantics like myself will miss however are the terminals on either side of La Manche: the Dover train ferry dock is gone; in fact the entire Western Docks is now devoid of ferry traffic – for the time being. Meanwhile the cosy Eastern Docks of 1969 is replaced by a thunderous lorry pit-stop and, by Summer, the Gares Maritime in both Boulogne as well as the old Dunkerque will have regressed into memory as ferry terminals.

Looking ahead rather than back for a moment, 2009 promises a host of new ferry adventures – the main website itself will relaunch, fully updated and with the largest collection of ferry deckplans on the internet as a new feature. And I hope to sail on more classic ferries – top of the list are the Apollon (ex-Senlac), Rigel (ex-Bore I) and Isla de Botafoc (ex-St Anselm). And, time permitting, three of my all-time favourites may be sailed on once again: the Ancona (ex-Svea/Hispania/Knossos), the Agios Georgios (ex-Hengist) and the Penelope A (ex-Horsa).

But one thing HHVFerry has always stood for is a simultaneous appreciation of the best of the new as well as the best of the old. Today’s top-end newcomers are tomorrow’s classics, so we hope to venture to sea this year on the new Armorique, the Mega Express Five and the Elyros, all of which give great hope for being models of contemporary style and modernity.

Just as the Vortigern herself was, forty years ago this year.

The Okeanis (ex-Free Enterprise (I))

The Okeanis (ex-Free Enterprise (I))

A last word on hopes for the New Year; my thoughts turn to those classic ferries which are still clinging on in the face of adversity: the Georgios Express (ex-Roi Baudouin), the Royal Iris and the Okeanis (ex-Free Enterprise) are all at death’s door. Three more different but more significant ex-UK ferries you couldn’t hope to find. Let’s hope each of them is still with us in 12 months time.

Matt

The Georgios Express (ex-Roi Baudouin) laid up at a scrapyard in Elefsis. Having evaded the scrappers in 2008, merely surviving 2009 is yet another challenge for perhaps the most beautiful of all of Dover's car ferries.

The Georgios Express (ex-Roi Baudouin) laid up at a scrapyard in Elefsis. Having evaded the scrappers in 2008, merely surviving 2009 is yet another challenge for perhaps the most beautiful of all of Dover's car ferries.

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