Posts tagged: piraeus

Twilight of the Hengist

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Panagia Tinou (most recently Agios Georgios, originally the Hengist of 1972).

Half sunk in Piraeus harbour, July 2016.

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Scenes from a day trip to Sifnos

Things seen – October 2011

  • The Villandry is captured on Youtube in the 1960s in these timeless home movie reels – she is seen at Newhaven here and here and at Dieppe here. The ship also makes an appearance in this video which captures some excellent scenes of Britons at leisure in the 1960s but the star of the show is undoubtedly the Falaise, arriving at Newhaven stern-first.
  • Later in her life, the former Villandry is studied in this video at Kefalonia in 1990 and here arriving at Delos.
  • The Villandry and Valencay, as built, joined the Dieppe-Newhaven car ferry pioneer, the Falaise, and that ship’s first season is captured at the start of this Pathe newsreel, which continues past the ferry operation with a consideration of Dieppe and the surrounding area.
  • The former Heysham steamer Duke of Lancaster remains something of an enigma but the dukeoflancaster.net website now has dozens of past and present pictures which help to answer a few of the questions as to what she is like aboard.
  • The Arran steamer the Marchioness of Graham had a notable career, staying close to home through the Second World War and surviving locally until the late 1950s. Later rebuilt in Greek service, this video documents her launch back in 1936.
  • The Munster of 1968.

    The Munster of 1968.

  • Alongside modern coverage of Stena’s Irish Sea ships, this remarkable retrospective featured on RTE’s Nationwide programme includes footage of and on board B+I Line’s 1960’s Munster. “Form filling and tiresome customs delays have largely disappeared. A visitor only needs a current driving licence, an international motor insurance card and a pass covering the temporary exportation and re-importation of his car…”
  • A couple of years ago the former Hovertravel AP1-88 Double-O-Seven found herself in trouble in her new home of Sierra Leone. On a related theme, James’ Hovercraft website has had an overhaul and is worth a look.
  • The hoverport at Boulogne is captured in its heyday in this video from 1982.
  • Trouble for the Tor Anglia in 1976.
  • The famous Danish motorship Jens Bang, which went on to have a lengthy Greek career as the Naias, lives on in this outstanding model by Per Rimmen which came up for auction a couple of years ago. Meanwhile some classic DFDS views of a vintage similar to the Jens Bang can be found here.
  • This significance of this remarkable video, including close-up views of the open bow visor and ramp arrangements of the Wasa King (ex-Viking Sally, later Estonia) arriving at UmeÃ¥ is self-evident.
  • Was Gothenburg the coolest place on Earth in 1973? One would think so from this video – and if, like the folk seen from 10:15 onwards, you could sail in and out on the Stena Jutlandica, Stena Olympica, Prinsessan Christina and Tor Anglia or jet around on those Finnair or KLM DC-9s who can argue?
  • The Stena Danica of 1965 at Gothenburg.

    The Stena Nordica of 1965 at Gothenburg.

  • The first Stena Nordica burnt out in Venezuelan service in 1980 but the wreck remains off the island of Cubagua where it is popular with divers. The original Stena bow markings are still visible in this shot.

    What, meanwhile, has become of the ‘Nordica”s sister, the first Stena Danica? The ship saw lengthy service after 1969 as the Lucy Maud Montgomery in Canada before disposal in 1999. The most recent images I can find of her are as the Lady Caribe I, laid up in Key West in the early 2000s. In late 2007 Shippax reported her sold to “Dominican buyers” but there the trail goes cold.

  • Jadrolinija capers in Drvenik Mali. The ship is the PeljeÅ¡canka, locally-built in 1971 and based on the design of the earlier trio of ships bought by the company from Greece.
  • It is not always plain sailing in Croatia as this rough weather film taken aboard the Ero (ex-Aero) in the late 1960s demontrates. This ship was laid up several years ago and reported sold for scrap in late 2009; however as of May 2011 she still lay amongst the Jadrolinija reserve fleet in Cres.
  • The Lovrjenac seen during her terminal lay up at Mali Losinj in August 2008. The bridge of her similarly retired fleetmate, the Novalja, can be seen to the left.

    The Lovrjenac seen during her terminal lay up at Mali Losinj in August 2008. The bridge of her similarly retired fleetmate, the Novalja, can be seen to the left.

  • The latest edition of Ferry & Cruise Review includes a picture of the Lovrjenac (ex-Norris Castle) being scrapped at Aliaga, to which she was towed, along with the Novalja (ex-Kalmarsund V) in late May. The Lovrjenac’s Red Funnel and Jadrolinija fleetmate the Nehaj (ex-Cowes Castle) also found her career at an end this year – like the Božava she was scrapped near Venice.

  • With her interlude as a floating bar in Mali Losinj apparently not a success the veteran Marina (ex-Kronprinsessan Ingrid (1936)) has been relocated to Rijeka which will hopefully be better able to support her activities.
  • Although it is hard to establish whether the Middle Eastern operator Namma Lines are still operating, a few months ago the company did post some Youtube guides to two of their ships: the Mawaddah (ex-King Minos) and the Masarrah (ex-St Columba).
  • The sister to the Mawaddah, the former N Kazantzakis/Shiretoku Maru is today the Kowloon-based cruise ship Metropolis.
  • The Lissos.

    The Lissos.

  • ANEK’s Lissos was sent for scrap earlier in the year and her arrival in Alang was captured for the record. The Lissos was an interesting and slightly-awkward looking ship but one I will miss. Certainly the officers of the cargo vessel featured in this near-miss video will not quickly forget her.
  • The final demise of the GA Ferries fleet was extensively recorded locally – here is an interesting video taken on board the Daliana just before her departure for the scrapyard whilst the final, slow, death march of the Romilda out of Piraeus can be seen here. Similar videos can also be found showing the final departures of the Daliana, the Marina and the Samothraki.
  • This 1994 video of Chandris’s The Azur (ex-Eagle) transiting the Corinth Canal shows what an exciting part of any voyage on any ship this is for passengers.
  • Crazy drivers in Piraeus are nothing new it seems – various classic passenger ships make cameo appearances in this clip from the movie The Burglars of 1971.
  • © hhvferry.com

    © hhvferry.com

  • The author of the the guidebook Greek Island Hopping, Frewin Poffley, sometimes appears to be lacking in any real understanding of the ferry business but has managed to carve out a niche selling his book to travellers to the Greek islands. Good luck to him – but repeated requests that he address the unauthorised use of the Aqua Maria image featured here (taken by me on the quayside at Drapetsona on 23 November 2010 and included in this post last year) have met with no response. Poor show old chap.
  • If you are going to plagiarise images from across the internet, then at least there should be the upside of creating a useful resource; this plundered collection of photographs of the Greek Naxos show the ship throughout her Greek career.
  • Another locally-built Greek ship, a few years younger than the Naxos, was the Santorini which subsequently passed to Indian owners, remaining there until apparently being withdrawn earlier this year. The ship is pictured here alongside the former Suilven (now Bharat Seema) in India whilst there are some interal pictures here and an outstanding voyage report here.
  • The Kefalonia.

    The Kefalonia.

  • Since the original company was absorbed into Attica several years ago it has been a rare sight to see more than one Strintzis ferry in port at a time. On the occasion that the current pair of ships of the revived Strintzis Ferries switched routes in July, however, it was possible to view the Eptanisos and the Kefalonia side by side.
  • The state of the Greek economy means rumours fly around regarding the futures of several of the ferries owned by operators in that country. Whilst Endeavor Lines earlier in the year strongly denied those concerning their operations, their Ionian Queen has recently appeared as a ‘premium listing’ on the website of a well-known ship broker. For six years this ships and her sister, the Ionian King, have been the best ships in Southern Adriatic service and the sale of the ‘King’ back to Japanese owners by Agoudimos Lines earlier this year was tempered somewhat by the survival of the ‘Queen’. The departure of both ships would be a sad loss to the ferry operations out of Brindisi and Bari.
  • Endeavor’s other operational ship is the Elli T which one has to think stands a chance of heading to the breakers rather than further service were she to be sold. Leaping back to her original life as the Japanese Okudogo 3, this series of images show what an eccentric but fascinating ferry she was (and to large degree still is) aboard.
  • A ship which sailed from Japan to Greece in 2010 was the 1991-built New Hiyama, purchased by ANENDYK for local Cretan service. The ship, renamed Sfakia I, berthed in the port of Souda (Chania), ostensibly for rebuild, but has remained there ever since – to the intrigue of locals. An interesting video providing a tour of the accommodation has appeared on Youtube.
  • Last but not least:
    Hengist (as Agios Georgios)
    Horsa (as Penelope A)
    Vortigern (as Milos Express)
  • Piraeus – signs of the times

    Piraeus, the city whose vast harbour serves as the port of Athens is, arguably, the greatest port in the world. To the enthusiast, the vast array of passenger ships of all types lined up right around the Great Harbour is captivating and almost astonishing. Yet the reality is that Piraeus can also be hot, dirty and, occasionally, somewhat seedy. To the foreign traveller it is a confusing mess of ticket offices, unknown ships and traffic – everyone else seems to know what they’re doing and where they’re going but to the unfamiliar it is almost impenetrable. I remember how once we encountered an exhausted young backpacker with a ticket for the departure, fifteen minutes hence, of the Panagia Ekatontapiliani in tears at the impossibility of finding her ship – although the vessel was clearly visible to us just a short walk away.

    The mass of Greek domestic ferry operators has long been as confusing as its primary port. A rise and eventual fall seems almost inevitable for all but the very lucky few – some last a few months, some a few years and some decades, but history suggests that most will disappear eventually through merger, takeover, disaster, bankruptcy or just decline and disappearance. The nature of Piraeus, with its hundreds of ticket agencies and many abandoned office buildings means that memories of those ships and operators which have fallen by the wayside tend to linger. For example, nearly a decade after the 1995 collapse of Ventouris Sea Lines that company’s hoardings and the giant billboard images of their fleet of classic ex-UK car ferries could be seen on display near the berths from which they used to sail. And, as these pictures from last year show, with the numbers of individual operators much reduced from previous decades, many of the dozens of defunct ferry companies and their ships still make their presence felt whilst some of the modern hoardings of today’s operators will doubtless, in due course, become relics themselves.

    The Poseidon Express agency in the central ticket block have in recent years proven a reliable source of sailing information and trusted booking agents. They also score highly with this montage of former Agapitos Express and, in previous lives, Sealink ships; Agapitos Express was absorbed by Hellas Ferries (later to become Hellenic Seaways) in 1999.

    The Poseidon Express agency in the central ticket block have in recent years proven a reliable source of sailing information and trusted booking agents. They also score highly with this set of posters of former Agapitos Express and, in previous lives, Sealink ships; Agapitos Express was absorbed by Hellas Ferries (later to become Hellenic Seaways) in 1999.

    Express Aphrodite (ex-St Columba).

    Express Aphrodite (ex-St Columba).

    Express Apollon (ex-Senlac), now scrapped.

    Express Apollon (ex-Senlac), now scrapped.

    A plethora of stickers are displayed on the front entrance. Poseidon Lines and Arcadia Lines are long gone, as are the original Olympic Airways. The little circular GA Ferries sticker gives their fleet as Milena, Daliana, Rodanthi and Dimitra which dates it to 1990.

    A plethora of stickers are displayed on the front entrance. Poseidon Lines and Arcadia Lines are reminders of another age, as are the original Olympic Airways. The little circular GA Ferries sticker gives their fleet as Milena, Daliana, Rodanthi and Dimitra which dates it to 1990.

    A relic of the original Ventouris Sea Lines before the mid-90s crash. The fleet list comprises the Kimolos (ex-Free Enterprise), Sifnos Express (ex-Cerdic Ferry), Apollo Express (ex-Senlac), Panagia Tinou (ex-Prins Philippe) and Georgios Express (ex-Roi Baudouin). That specific selection of ships pinpoints the date to 1993.

    A relic of the original Ventouris Sea Lines before the mid-90s crash. The fleet list comprises the Kimolos (ex-Free Enterprise), Sifnos Express (ex-Cerdic Ferry), Apollo Express (ex-Senlac), Panagia Tinou (ex-Prins Philippe) and Georgios Express (ex-Roi Baudouin). That specific selection of ships pinpoints the date to 1993.

    The two Agapitos companies as well as GA Ferries are now long gone.

    The two Agapitos companies as well as GA Ferries are now long gone.

    Around the corner the former agents for Lindos Lines retains this picture of that company's Milos Express (ex-Vortigern) in pride of place on the booking office wall. Staff advise that the picture remains a great talking point for passengers who remember favourably this stalwart of the Western Cyclades.

    Around the corner the former agents for Lindos Lines retain this picture of that company's Milos Express (ex-Vortigern) in pride of place on the booking office wall. Staff say that the picture remains a great talking point for passengers who remember favourably this stalwart of the Western Cyclades.

    The central block is now dominated by the present Hellenic Seaways head office - for years this property was rundown and neglected but has been restored for its present use.

    The central block is now dominated by the present Hellenic Seaways head office - for years this property was rundown and neglected but it has been expensively restored for its present use.

    The office includes a couple of fine ship models although this one of the Ariadne is itself obsolete - the ship has not actually operated for her owners since 2008.

    The office includes a couple of fine ship models although this one of the Ariadne is itself obsolete - the ship has not actually operated for her owners since 2008.

    Nissos Mykonos.

    Nissos Mykonos.

    The Ariadne also persists on the outside of the building.

    The Ariadne also persists on the outside of the building.

    HSW quayside ticket office adjacent to the berths of the company's High Speed fast ferries.

    HSW quayside ticket office adjacent to the berths of the company's High Speed fast ferries.

    Round to the east a little, Nova Ferries operate to the nearby island of Aegina.

    Round to the east a little, Nova Ferries operate to the nearby island of Aegina.

    Where do you want to go today? Sadly DANE, GA Ferries, Agapitos Lines and Agapitos Express Ferries are all defunct.

    Where do you want to go today? Sadly DANE, GA Ferries, Agapitos Lines and Agapitos Express Ferries are all defunct.

    MAS Travel are the central agents for the reincarnated Ventouris Sea Lines and their single-ship service using the Agios Georgios (ex-Hengist).

    One Superfast agency has this model of the Superfast VII in the window; the ship never saw Greek service and, from later this year, will operate on the Irish Sea for Stena Line.

    The former headquarters of Hellenic Mediterranean Lines, adjacent to the electric railway station, is now obscured by the pedestrian access bridge - a recent and welcome addition.

    The former headquarters of Hellenic Mediterranean Lines, adjacent to the electric railway station, is now obscured by the pedestrian access bridge - a recent and welcome addition.

    In its final years HML ('Elmes') was forced out of its historical headquarters and moved into less opulent offices over the road. The company failed to reappear for the 2005 season but the hoardings promoting perhaps Greece's most famous ferry company remain.

    In its final years HML ('Elmes') was forced out of its historical headquarters and moved into less opulent offices over the road. The company failed to reappear for the 2005 season but the hoardings promoting perhaps Greece's most famous ferry company remain.

    The front door of the HML suite of offices on the second floor (there was no one in).

    The front door of the HML suite of offices on the second floor. A visit here back in 2003 revealed an amazing archive of HML paraphernalia. On board, the company's ships were notable for continually re-using bespoke items from earlier generations, from Aquarius ashtrays to Corinthia menuholders. One can only wonder what became of all this when HML finally closed down.

    Adjacent, an agency promoting the major modern-day Greek operators: Minoan, Blue Star/Superfast, NEL and ANEK.

    Adjacent, an agency promoting the major modern-day Greek operators: Minoan, Blue Star/Superfast, NEL and ANEK.

    Walking round to the western side of the Great Harbour, in recent years various passenger-friendly improvements have been made, including connecting bendy-buses and several handy air-conditioned waiting areas.

    Walking round to the western side of the Great Harbour, in recent years various passenger-friendly improvements have been made, including connecting bendy-buses and several handy air-conditioned waiting areas.

    Taxi prices from the port are supposed to be fixed. Evidently this hasn't met with the approval of the local drivers.

    Taxi prices from the port are supposed to be fixed. Evidently this hasn't met with the approval of the local drivers.

    Zante Ferries are an operator based in the Aegean, specifically operating to their titular island (otherwise known as Zakynthos) but have in recent years deployed the Adamantios Korais to the Western Cyclades where she half-competes with the Agios Georgios.

    Zante Ferries are an operator based in the Aegean, specifically operating to their titular island (otherwise known as Zakynthos) but have in recent years deployed the Adamantios Korais to the Western Cyclades where she half-competes with the Agios Georgios.

    ANEN Lines disappeared several years ago; their single ship, the Myrtidiotissa, is now NEL's Aqua Maria.

    ANEN Lines disappeared several years ago; their single ship, the Myrtidiotissa, is now NEL's Aqua Maria.

    ANEK and NEL. This picture was taken near the end of the former company's attempt to muscle in on NEL's historic North Aegean patch by deploying the Lissos from Piraeus to Chios and Mytilene. After ANEK managed to extricate themselves from their commitments on the route the ship was sent for scrap in early 2011.

    ANEK and NEL. This picture was taken near the end of the former company's attempt to muscle in on NEL's historic North Aegean patch by deploying the Lissos from Piraeus to Chios and Mytilene. After ANEK managed to extricate themselves from their commitments on the route the ship was sent for scrap in early 2011.

    Minoan have large offices just over the road from the port gates, not far from the berths of their Cretan ships.

    Minoan have large offices over the road from the port gates, not far from the berths of their Cretan ships.

    ANEK are just down the road.

    ANEK are just down the road.

    Lastly, adjacent to the ANEK building is this block which served as the head offices of Minoan Flying Dolphins (Hellas Ferries) and later Hellenic Seaways before they moved to their current location in the heart of the port. It was from the top floor terrace that Pantelis Sfinias jumped to his death in the aftermath of the Express Samina sinking. Sfinias was the architect of MFD's rapid-fire acquisition of a variety of established family and local operators in 1999/2000 including Agapitos Lines, then operators of the doomed ship.

    Lastly, adjacent to the ANEK building is this block (seen in 2007) which served as the head offices of Minoan Flying Dolphins/Hellas Ferries and later Hellenic Seaways before they moved to their current location in the heart of the port. It was from the sixth floor terrace that Pantelis Sfinias jumped to his death in the aftermath of the Express Samina sinking. Sfinias was the architect of MFD's rapid-fire acquisition of a variety of established family and local operators in 1999/2000 including Agapitos Lines, then operators of the doomed ship.

    Greece in November: the abandoned ships of Piraeus

    A trip to the Greek islands hadn’t been part of the plan for 2010 – with interesting and untested ships to sail on across the rest of Southern Europe together with a whole host expected to be in their final seasons, the domestic Greek scene, for once, didn’t seem a priority. However, the cancellation of a short cruise on the Island Escape (ex-Scandinavia) in mid-November led to a quick search for alternatives and a five night trip to Greece, out of season, suddenly became very attractive.

    Initial plans to focus on the more interesting ex-Japanese tonnage now in operation were partly scuppered by the recent collision with Piraeus’ Northern breakwater (and subsequent absence from service) of Hellenic Seaways’ Nissos Rodos (ex-Kiso) and by ANEK pulling their Lissos (ex-Ferry Hamanasu) from her sailings to the North Aegean. In the event however it turned out to be a remarkably successful short visit – in many ways, the aforementioned scheduling problems apart, the timing was completely fortuitous: each day was sunny and with none of the strong winds that often lead to Greek domestic cancellations. Meanwhile we just missed the 24 hour (later extended to 72 hours+) strike of Greek seafarers which commenced on Tuesday the 23rd – on the European Express from Chios we were one of the last overnight ships arriving into Piraeus that day, actually berthing an hour or so after the official start of the industrial action.

    The most notable difference being in Piraeus and its surrounding areas in November compared to the peak season is the large number of normally operational ships laid up – both those in seasonal use (mostly fast craft and cruise ships) or those which happened to be out of service for their annual refits. In addition, there remain the ships of GA Ferries and SAOS, operators whose financial troubles have forced them largely out of business. Whilst the SAOS fleet is dispersed across the country, with only their Panagia Agiasou laid up in Piraeus outer harbour, the ships of GA’s passenger fleet can all be found locally – five in the inner harbour and three more adjacent to the ‘Agiasou’. Other than the fast craft Jet Ferry 1 all have recently been offered for sale by the harbour authority which, in one of the less attractive pitches to prospective purchasers, describes them as “dangerous and harmful”.

    I will add more pictures from this trip in due course but for starters here are some of those GA ships and their long-term SAOS co-resident. For the record, the title of this entry is perhaps slightly misleading – the ships aren’t entirely abandoned and it seems that one ship in each of the two batches has at least one watchman on duty with the Rodanthi and Anthi Marina serving as their respective basecamps.

    In the outer harbour, adjacent to the current berths of the Blue Star Rhodes and Crete ships can be found the Anthi Marina (ex-Spirit of Free Enterprise/Pride of Kent), Milena (ex-Ferry Gold), Dimitroula (ex-Verga) and SAOS's Panagia Agiasou (ex-Hakata).

    In the outer harbour, adjacent to the current berths of the Blue Star Rhodes and Crete ships can be found the Anthi Marina (ex-Spirit of Free Enterprise/Pride of Kent), Milena (ex-Ferry Gold), Dimitroula (ex-Verga) and SAOS's Panagia Agiasou (ex-Hakata).

    From a distance the Anthi Marina doesn't look that bad given her two years laid up.

    From a distance the Anthi Marina doesn't look that bad given her two years laid up.

    Up close she is rather more decrepit - although still by far the most likely of GA Ferries' conventional ships to see any further service. A few more images of this ship will be posted in the next week or so.

    Up close she is rather more decrepit - although still by far the most likely of GA Ferries' conventional ships to see any further service. A few more images of this ship will be posted in the next week or so.

    The Dimitroula was originally one of Tirrenia's eight-strong 'Poeti' class - indeed she was the last of the eight ship-class. Like her identical sister the Deledda she was slightly different to the earlier six and was not stretched by her original owners. Thus she was in pretty much original condition when she passed to GA in 1997. Now the last-surviving Poeti, it seems almost impossible she will ever see service again.

    The Dimitroula was originally one of Tirrenia's eight-strong 'Poeti' class - indeed she was the last of the eight ship-class. Like her identical sister the Deledda she was slightly different to the earlier six and was not stretched by her original owners. Thus she was in pretty much original condition when she passed to GA in 1997. Now the last-surviving Poeti, it seems almost impossible she will ever see service again.

    The Dimitroula from astern - as with all these ships, the stern ramp is lowered, but the car deck has been rudimentarily barricaded to prevent squatters or the otherwise curious.

    The Dimitroula from astern - as with all these ships, the stern ramp is lowered, but the car deck has been rudimentarily barricaded to prevent squatters or the otherwise curious.

    Adjacent to the Dimitroula, SAOS's Panagia Agiasou.

    Adjacent to the Dimitroula, SAOS's Panagia Agiasou.

    The Panagia Agiasou from astern.

    The Panagia Agiasou from astern.

    The Jet Ferry 1 (ex-Kattegat) has been seized by the bank which had originally mortgaged her. She is laid up in the inner harbour adjacent to what are normally nowadays the berths of the smaller Blue Star ships - right in the traditional heart of Piraeus ferryport, over the road from the electric railway station.

    The Jet Ferry 1 (ex-Kattegat) has been seized by the bank which had originally mortgaged her. She is laid up in the inner harbour adjacent to what are normally nowadays the berths of the smaller Blue Star ships - right in the traditional heart of Piraeus ferryport, over the road from the electric railway station.

    (Jet Ferry 1)

    (Jet Ferry 1)

    The other batch of four GA Ferries can be found adjacent to the berth of Ventouris Sea Lines' Agios Georgios. From left to right, the Marina (ex-Green Ace), the Romilda (ex-Free Enterprise VIII), the Rodanthi (ex-Virgo) and the Daliana (ex-Ferry Pearl).

    The other batch of four GA Ferries can be found adjacent to the berth of Ventouris Sea Lines' Agios Georgios. From left to right, the Marina (ex-Green Ace), the Romilda (ex-Free Enterprise VIII), the Rodanthi (ex-Virgo) and the Daliana (ex-Ferry Pearl).

    The Marina.

    The Marina.

    The Romilda was one of the last of the fleet to stay in service, but has been in quite poor internal condition for many years.

    The Romilda was one of the last of the fleet to stay in service, but has been in quite poor internal condition for many years.

    The Romilda from astern.

    The Romilda from astern.

    What does the future hold...?

    What does the future hold...?

    The Romilda at night.

    The Romilda at night.

    The Rodanthi.

    The Rodanthi.

    The Rodanthi, Romilda and Marina.

    The Rodanthi, Romilda and Marina.

    The long-term movement of the stern ramp against the quay has in several cases caused some quite notable damage to the quayside - as seen in this image at the stern of the Rodanthi.

    The long-term movement of the stern ramp against the quay has in several cases caused some quite notable damage to the quayside - as seen in this image at the stern of the Rodanthi.

    Daliana and Rodanthi.

    Daliana and Rodanthi.

    Daliana.

    Daliana.

    Daliana.

    Daliana.

    Daliana at night.

    Daliana at night.

    The sterns of the laid up ships are popular locations for local fishermen.

    The sterns of the laid up ships are popular locations for local fishermen.

    Things Seen – April 2010

  • During the 1960s DFDS commissioned three remarkable little ro-ro ships specifically to handle the bacon trade from Denmark into the English port of Grimsby. The Somerset, Stafford and Surrey carried bacon and butter in refrigerated containers over to the UK before taking the “empties” back home again – (the crews complained of the strong smell of rancid bacon in the unwashed containers on the runs back to Esbjerg!). Designed to fit through the narrow lock at Grimsby port, the ships served into the 1980s (the last and largest, the Surrey, remained with DFDS until 1992).

    Thereafter, the ships have had interestingly varied careers, all three surviving into the new century before the ex-Surrey was scrapped in 2005. This vessel had in between times been converted to a passenger ferry by A K Ventouris, under whom, as the Anna V, she was mysteriously sunk by a bomb in Patras harbour. Repaired, she saw sparing further service as the Jupiter, being laid up for a prolonged period in Brindisi and then Elefsis before sailing for scrap as the Pit.

    The Jupiter (ex-Surrey) laid up in Brindisi in July 2003 with the Tirana (ex-Linda Scarlett) astern.

    The Jupiter (ex-Surrey) laid up in Brindisi in July 2003 with the Tirana (ex-Linda Scarlett) astern.

    The Surrey’s earlier sister ships have both met slightly happier fates, although the future now looks uncertain in each case. The Somerset of 1966 became a livestock carrier but this picture from July last year shows her in a very poor condition. Her AIS is still on however and she is currently listed as sailing through Greek waters. On Ships Nostalgia (registration required) there is an astonishing picture of the ship, as the Afroditi, aground near Waterford in the 1980s with huge piles of hay on her after decks.

    The Atlantis laid up, July 2005.

    The Atlantis laid up, July 2005.

    The Stafford (1967) was quite horrifically converted first into a Greek passenger/car ferry (named the Voyager and then the Monaco) and then into a cruise ship for operation out of Miami. She is seen here in her Voyager guise in the mid-1980s and, following her return to Greek waters, as the cruise ship Atlantis at Santorini in the early 2000s. Subsequently sold to American owners, the ship has been laid up for some time in Elefsis, latterly Elefsis Bay.

    Despite this, she shares top billing on her owners’ enthusiastic website with the Casino Royale, originally HML’s famed second purpose-built car ferry the Castalia. A press release from January 2010 notes that the company is “currently evaluating port locations in East Asia and the United States for the establishment of its initial operations… Each vessel is anticipated to have a capacity of approximately 1,200 passengers and will offer the Company’s patrons a full entertainment experience. Upon completion of the intended renovations, the shipboard entertainment venues on the m/v Casino Royale will include a 100 seat full service gourmet restaurant, a 300 seat buffet restaurant, a casino, a sports bar, a VIP lounge, and a covered outdoor entertainment deck, while the m/v Island Breeze will offer a 100 seat full service gourmet restaurant, a 300 seat buffet restaurant, a casino, a sports bar, a high energy nightclub, a VIP lounge, and a 400 seat showroom. ”

  • 80 passengers lost their lives when the Express Samina sank in September 2000. The wreck still attracts interest however, as these images show.
  • The Caledonian Steam Packet’s little motor ship the Maid of Argylle (1953) ultimately became the Greek City of Corfu and it was under this name that she caught fire and sank whilst alongside her namesake island in 1997. The wreck lay there for many years and was documented in these pictures from 2002.
  • The Penelope A

    The Penelope A

  • Here is a nice video documenting a crossing on board the Penelope A (ex-Horsa) in the Summer of 2008.

    Sticking with the website’s title ships, here is an unusual image of the Vortigern, near the end of her UK career, at Dieppe.

    Lastly the Hengist and perhaps her most famous moment, the grounding off the Warren in 1987, was captured on video. Meanwhile, the ship’s current operators, Ventouris Sea Lines, at last have a proper website, complete with a good selection of on board images of the most carefully maintained veteran ferry sailing in Greek waters.

  • Piraeus remains the world’s greatest ferry port, but perhaps a little of that greatness has rubbed off in recent years as the Greek fleet has slimmed down and speeded up – whilst the place itself has been slightly sanitised. This month’s selection of Greek youtube links present glimpses of the port in days past:

    First up, Piraeus (and surrounding areas) in 1968.

    Some extracts from a 1970s film which highlights some of the quayside structures, including the long gone passenger walkways.

    In Piraeus port 1995, a cast of dozens of classic ships line up for the camera – this was before the demise of Ventouris Sea Lines later that year and the Apollo Express 2 is seen in operation, whilst the Milos Express (Vortigern) is seen just out of refit.

    And lastly the brief but strangely mesmerising Classic ferries of Greece

    At the end of the latter film comes footage of the Sappho (ex-Spero) and scenes aboard this ship feature heavily in these extracts from a 1970s film. It is readily apparent that her interiors were almost completely unchanged, right down to the large map of the North Sea adjacent to the information desk. Some more on board video can be found here (from about 3:25 in & turn the sound DOWN!).

  • The Ryde, October 2006

    The Ryde, October 2006

  • The demise of the paddle steamer Ryde has been long and agonising. There has however been one entrepreneurial idea for a novel form of preservation of at least part of the ship…
  • The end for the Manxman seems just as certain so, if you have half an hour to spare, sit back and enjoy this superb radio documentary, A Day Excursion to Douglas recorded aboard the ship late in her operational career:
    Part One
    Part Two
    Part Three
  • The Moby Vincent (ex-St Brendan/Stena Normandica) has recently received a big ‘duck tail’ extension aft.
  • The Italian train ferry Cariddi was virtually a metaphor for the story of Italy’s railways in the Twentieth Century: constructed in 1932 she entered service between Messina and Villa San Giovanni as the most advanced ship of her type in the world. Diesel-electrical propulsion was employed and the ship reflected the huge amounts of money being poured into the railways and national communications under Mussolini’s fascist regime.

    The ship sank twice – the first time was during the Second World War when she was scuttled in Paradiso Bay, just north of Messina, the day before Sicily fell to the Allies in August 1943. She remained submerged for six and a half years before being raised, rebuilt and restored to service in 1953. Finally retired after a 59-year career, she was sold to the local authority in Messina and intended to become a maritime museum. Neglected and abandoned, she sank for a second and final time in 2006.

    This link, from the Internet Archive, documents the ship’s career and dates to before her 2006 sinking but prophetically notes that “neglect, incompetence, disinterest and abandonment are pulling the Cariddi down again.”

    A more complete history of this route, one of the outstanding ferry experiences in Europe, can be found here.

  • A similar fate, but with rather more tragic consequences, befell the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand’s Wahine which was lost within Wellington Harbour in April 1968. There is little one could like to know about this powerful-looking green-hulled ship and her demise that isn’t covered on Murray Robinson’s outstanding website.

    The website notes that the Wahine’s foremast has recently been placed in position as a monument on the rocks near to where survivors came ashore on the morning of the disaster.

  • The Kalliste - in classic grey livery.

    The Kalliste - in classic grey livery.

  • Le Kalliste – tout blanc!
    Quelle horreur!
  • Mystery still surrounds the future of the Ugo Foscolo (ex-Mikhail Sholokhov) which has been laid up in Zakynthos for over half a decade. The local port authorities seem determined to remove her and one unlikely venture is this proposed conversion to a cruise ship involving Alexandros Panagopoulos, from the family behind Superfast and Royal Cruise Lines.
  • ANEK’s Elyros has been a very popular addition to the Piraeus-Chania route since her entry into service in late 2008. KEH’s earlier rebuild proposal however called for an even more radical silhouette, including a Royal Caribbean-esque ‘Viking Crown’ lounge forward of the funnel.
  • The Stena hotel in Frederikshavn, before its 'tropical adventure'.

    The Stena hotel in Frederikshavn, before its 'tropical adventure'.

  • The previously fairly run of the mill Stena Line hotel in Frederikshavn is now The Reef Resort! As ever, Figura have been entrusted with the interior design work.
  • A fascinating glimpse of the early days of cross-channel car ferrying can be seen in this remarkable series of slides posted to flickr, including a couple on board Townsend’s Forde just before the outbreak of war as well as others aboard the Maid of Kent and Twickenham Ferry. The link goes direct to those images tagged ‘ferry’, but the entire collection is worth a look.
  • This is only marginally related to shipping but: The Sud Express is gone! OK, the name lives on, but the classic 1950s Wagons-Lits ‘UH’ class sleeping cars have been dispensed with and, with them, goes the final vestige of the last of the most famous trains of the Wagons-Lits, so many of which used to commence their journeys at Boulogne, Calais or Oostende in connection with generations of packet steamers.

    The Sud Express was established in 1887 and ran through to Lisbon from Paris and Calais (later it was just Paris to Lisbon and later still Paris to Hendaye/Irun, change trains, and then Hendaye to Lisbon). Alas, it’s not just a case of “another one bites the dust” – this truly was the last of the great loco-hauled Grand European Expresses. The Sud outlasted the remnants of the (real) Orient Express by a couple of years. The Nord Express, the Train Bleu, the Peninsular Express, the Oberland Express etc all fell by the wayside long ago. The relevance of these long-distance luxury train connections to the ferry industry died out decades ago with the onset of mass air travel, but the train/ship/train link was before then vital for anyone who wanted to travel significant distances in Europe.

    And just how useful would the Paris/Oostende-Oslo cars of the Nord Express (via the Nyborg-Korsør and Helsingør-Helsingborg train ferries) be today for ash-bound Continental shipowners wishing to get to the Shippax conference starting on the Color Magic on Tuesday…?

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

    Funnels: Agios Georgios (ex-Hengist)

    Agios Georgios. Click for larger image.

    Agios Georgios. Click for larger image.

    Blast from the past: British Ferries’ Orient Express

    The Orient Express at Venice

    The Orient Express at Venice. Click all images for a larger version.

    The arrival yesterday off Piraeus of the Arberia (ex-Wasa Queen), newly acquired by Halkydon Shipping (see pictures from shipfriends here and here), marked a belated return to very familiar waters for the ship. Built in 1975 as Bore Line’s Silja ship the Bore Star, she later passed to Silja partners Effoa but remained on the Baltic routes until a sale in early 1986 to a company within the Sea Containers group. Although subsidiary Sealink British Ferries were in need of replacement tonnage on several routes, it was announced that the vessel would be deployed under the name Orient Express on a ‘cruise ferry’ service on which the ship performed a weekly round trip on the circuit Venice-(Corinth)-Piraeus-Istanbul-Kusadasi-Patmos-Katakolon-Venice. Painted in a modified Sealink livery, the ship met with a degree of success and operated for five Summers in this trade (1986-90 inclusive).

    Bridging the ferry-cruise ship divide (although back then for smaller ships it was still sometimes more real than imagined) proved a challenge. Different markets received different messages; for example, the 1988 brochure for the Venice Simplon Orient-Express (the luxury train) carried the following text in a one page summary about the ship’s services:

    NOW THE MV ‘ORIENT EXPRESS’ STARTS WHERE THE TRAIN LEAVES OFF
    The Orient Express passenger to Venice may now extend his journey not only to Istanbul, the train’s original destination, but far, far beyond.
    By sea.
    The mv ‘Orient Express’ commissioned just two seasons ago sails from Venice every Saturday evening. With three bars, four restaurants, two pools, sun decks, a beauty salon, cinema and casino, dancing and cabaret, even a children’s playroom, the eight gleaming decks are dedicated to your convenience and pleasure.
    Every cabin, from the simplest to the grandest, has air conditioning and en-suite shower and WC.
    The Captain and Officers are British, the crew multi-lingual, the service – like the food – superb.
    And the itinerary, whether you prefer simply to cruise, with excursions, for seven glorious nights or stop off for a week (or two, or three) at one of the ports and rejoin the ship on a later sailing, matches the ship herself.
    The breath-holding squeeze at dawn between the vertical walls of the Corinth Canal; Piraeus and the Parthenon, the teeming pleasures of Istanbul; Kusadasi for the beaches of southern Turkey and the fabulous excavations at Ephesus; gentle, undiscovered Patmos to see, perhaps the cavern where St John the Divine wrote his Book of Revelations; Katakolon for Olympia and back, of course, to Venice.

    Entirely missing from that account of the ship’s operations was the ‘F’ word, which presumably might not have entirely been what VSOE passengers had in mind as a continuation of their journey, other post-train options in the brochure including the 5 star Hotel Gritti Palace, or Michael Winner’s favourite, the then Sea Con-owned Cipriani. On the other hand, they had just been willing to overnight on an excruciatingly expensive train with no en-suite facilities whatsoever.

    The Orient Express and the Venice Simplon Orient Express together at Venice.

    The Orient Express and the Venice Simplon Orient Express together at Venice.

    Sliding through the Corinth Canal.

    Sliding through the Corinth Canal.

    In contrast, the main brochures for the ship herself brought the matter to the forefront and the 1989 version contained the following as its very first paragraph:

    When you think of a car ferry, you think of a vessel that provides, essentially, a service. When you think of a cruise ship, you think of carefree, sun-filled days punctuated by the pleasures of the table, the entertainment and the ports of call.

    When you consider mv ‘Orient Express’ you must start again and think of both.

    For both is exactly what she is. Below decks a car ferry, her hold lined with the cars of travellers and holidaymakers bound for Athens, Istanbul and the beaches of southern Turkey. Above, a fully stabilised, uncompromising 12,500 ton cruise liner equipped to take you – with car or without – on a very special voyage.

    The Orient Express: part car ferry...

    The Orient Express: part car ferry...

    ...part cruise ship.

    ...part cruise ship.

    In 1987 the US brochure for the ship had included some interesting comments amongst a series of passenger testimonials:

    “Some of the cabins are a little small. Typical of a North Sea ferry. But what you’ve done to the rest of the ship is just amazing”
    “We didn’t know what to expect. A cruise ship that carries cars? But you never see them. They just sit in the hold keeping the prices down.”
    “They say the (VSOE) train is far more elegant than the ship. It’s hard to believe. These are some of the loveliest public rooms of any ship of its size.”
    “A British-run ship. It’s just what they needed in these waters. No one does it with as much class as the British”.

    Winter months were generally spent either on charter or operating cruises around the Canary Islands, including calls at Agadir in Morocco. It was at the latter port that I had the unexpected chance to visit the ship in 1988, having espied the distinctive funnel colours from across town on the beach near to the Hotel Europa, harangued the family into jumping into a taxi and taken the chance to ask for a look around. She was certainly an interesting vessel, and had most definitely been spruced up for service in her cruise-cum-ferry role. Significant sums had been spent on refurbishment, including the installation of a moderately-sized outside swimming pool, and a look around the facilities showed that they were clearly more luxurious than Sealink’s English Channel norm.

    Orient Express - 1989 deckplan

    Orient Express - 1989 deckplan

    Insert to the 1987 brochure.

    Insert to the 1987 brochure.

    Deck service.

    Deck service.

    On Deck 7, in an area previously occupied by conference facilities, eight new staterooms were constructed, named after eight of the (then) ten carriages in the British Pullman rake which formed the UK side of the VSOE. The Lucille and the Vera suites were found on the deck below.

    On Deck 7, in an area previously occupied by conference facilities, eight new staterooms were constructed, named after eight of the (then) ten carriages in the British Pullman rake which formed the UK side of the VSOE. The other two, the Lucille and Vera suites, were found on the deck below.


    The ten staterooms featured 'TV and video... for those who want to enjoy the Mediterranean in real style'.

    The ten staterooms featured 'TV and video... for those who want to enjoy the Mediterranean in real style'.

    A more compact 'A Category' cabin.

    A more compact 'A Category' cabin.

    The second-lowest grade, 'C Category' cabin, inside but above the car deck. Fares per person for the seven day cruise in this class of accommodation were as high as £510 for the seven day trip in 1989, and £200 for a Venice-Piraeus single, excluding car. Twenty years later, a peak-season sailing in equivalent accommodation (via Venice-Patras using the Zeus Palace) costs approx. £185 per person.

    The second-lowest grade, 'C Category' cabin, inside but above the car deck. Fares per person for the seven day cruise in this class of accommodation were as high as £510 for the seven day trip in 1989, and £200 for a Venice-Piraeus single, excluding car. Twenty years later, a peak-season sailing in equivalent accommodation (via Venice-Patras using the Zeus Palace) costs approx. £185 per person.


    The Sultan's Bar could be found on Deck 6 amidships.

    The Sultan's Bar could be found on Deck 6 amidships.


    The Sultan's Bar.

    The Sultan's Bar.


    The à la carte VSOE restaurant, starboard side on Deck 6.

    The à la carte VSOE restaurant, starboard side on Deck 6.

    The floor show in the Olympia Bar, aft on Deck 6.

    The floor show in the Olympia Bar, aft on Deck 6.

    Shipboard prices were in sterling and in 1988 a Gin & Tonic in the Olympia Bar would set you back £1.40, a Tia Maria £1.30 and a cup of tea, 50p.

    Shipboard prices were in sterling and in 1988 a Gin & Tonic in the Olympia Bar would set you back £1.40, a Tia Maria £1.30 and a cup of tea, 50p.

    The small library, starboard amidships, deck 5.

    The small library, starboard amidships, deck 5.


    Meals in the Savini Restaurant, aft on Deck 5, were included in the price of the fare.

    Meals in the Savini Restaurant, aft on Deck 5, were included in the price of the fare.


    The outdoor swimming pool, at the stern on deck 5.

    The outdoor swimming pool, at the stern on deck 5.

    Down on Deck 1, the ship had been built with a swimming pool and sauna complex, and these were retained for use in the new service.

    Down on Deck 1, the ship had been built with a swimming pool and sauna complex, and these were retained for use in the new service.

    Shuttle service in Istanbul.

    Shuttle service in Istanbul.

    The Orient Express at Kusadasi, alongside the Aegean Dolphin.

    The Orient Express at Kusadasi, alongside the Aegean Dolphin.

    There was some surprise that, when Sea Con acquired the ship in 1986, she was not deployed on Sealink's core ex-UK routes (although it is debatable which she would have been suited for, she would certainly have been a formidable presence in the passenger market on the Western Channel). She did however make a cameo appearance, mocked up in full SBF livery on the cover of the 1987 car ferry guide. complete with her cocktail-drinking passengers.

    There was some surprise that, when Sea Con acquired the ship in 1986, she was not deployed on Sealink's core ex-UK routes (although it is debatable which she would have been suited for, she would certainly have been a formidable presence in the passenger market on the Western Channel). She did however make a cameo appearance, mocked up in full SBF livery on the cover of the 1987 car ferry guide. complete with her cocktail-drinking passengers.

    The marginal nature of the business and Sea Con’s need to generate cash urgently to fend off the Temple Holdings (Stena & Tiphook) takeover bid saw the ship sold in late 1989 back to Effjohn (formed by a merger from the ship’s former owners Effoa and Silja partners Johnson Line). One final season as the Orient Express preceded a brief period in Singapore operation before returning to the Effjohn fold as the Wasa Star for subsidiary Wasa Line in 1992. The ship was significantly rebuilt but remained in service through the merger of Wasa Line into Silja in 1993 and remained back with her original operators until 2001. Sold to Star Cruises she forged a new career operating out of Hong Kong, latterly on gambling cruises. Displaced from this role in 2007 she spent a brief period sailing in Malaysian waters but was purchased from lay up by Halkydon for operation between Italy (Trieste or Bari) to Durres in Albania.

    Picture of the week 10 May 2009: Blue Star Naxos

    Blue Star Naxos off Piraeus. Click for larger image.

    Blue Star Naxos off Piraeus. Click for larger image.

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    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.

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