Posts tagged: minoan lines

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

Picture of the week: Europa Palace

Europa Palace leaving Venice. Click for larger image.

Europa Palace leaving Venice. Click for larger image.

Previous image

Previous image

Picture of the week 19 April 2009: Festos Palace

The Wonder of Ships: Festos Palace, Piraeus, July 2007. Click for larger image.

The Wonder of Ships: Festos Palace, Piraeus, July 2007. Click for larger image.

Last week's picture

Last week's picture

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.

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