Posts tagged: senlac

Funnels: Apollon (ex-Senlac)

The Apollon at Igoumenitsa, July 2008. Click for larger image.

The Apollon at Igoumenitsa, July 2008. Click for larger image.

Apollon: the good, the bad and the ugly

Despite her regrettable demise, one cannot hide from the fact that the Apollon was in rather ropey condition in her final few years. However, if one overlooked the exploding toilets and scratched under the surface the former Senlac was, in fact, probably the best ‘preserved’, in terms of fixtures, fittings and artworks, remaining ex-Sealink ship operating in Southern Europe.

THE GOOD

Starting with the best bits - the ship retained to the end in her forward stairwell the two and-a-half deck high fibreglass mural by the Czech sculptor Franta Belsky.

Starting with the best bits - the ship retained to the end in her forward stairwell the two and-a-half deck high fibreglass mural by the Czech sculptor Franta Belsky.

Rabies warning.

Rabies warning.

The cafeteria with carved-out booth seating.

The cafeteria with carved-out booth seating.

The ship's restaurant, new chairs apart, was larely unchanged from built - the bas relief panel on the aft bulkhead featured stylised scenes of the Battle of Hastings from the Bayeux Tapestry whilst, beneath it, the waiter station is also original.

The ship's restaurant, new chairs apart, was largely unchanged from built - the bas relief panel on the aft bulkhead featured stylised scenes of the Battle of Hastings from the Bayeux Tapestry whilst, beneath it, the waiter station is also original.

One of those original chairs from the restaurant latterly migrated to this former officers cabin, forward, on sale for passenger use as a suite.

One of those original restaurant chairs had migrated to this former officers cabin, forward, latterly in passenger use as a suite.

THE BAD

In contrast, this chair, alas, was now at the end of its useful life.

In contrast, this chair, alas, was now at the end of its useful life.

The ship's bell, inscribed 'SENLAC 1973', disappeared after her Hellenic Seaways service ended in 2005. Seen on board the Apollon in her final years is the now empty mounting.

The ship's bell, inscribed 'SENLAC 1973', disappeared after her Hellenic Seaways service ended in 2005. Seen on board the Apollon is the now empty mounting.

Did I mention the ship had plumbing problems?

Did I mention the ship had plumbing problems?

My old chum Bruce was quicker than I to capture the ship's sewage overflow pipe fulfilling its titular duties. Picture courtesy Bruce Peter.

My old chum Bruce was quicker than I to capture this sewage overflow pipe fulfilling its titular duties. Picture courtesy Bruce Peter.

Courtesy Bruce Peter.

Courtesy Bruce Peter.

I don't know what they were feeding the Apollon in the end but she could, like many of her Albanian consorts, certainly belt out thick, fairly pungent smoke.

THE UGLY
Lastly, we cannot let the chance slip by to have a morbid look at the Senlac’s end in Aliaga, Turkey. The photographs by and copyright of Selim San require no real comment but note that the ship, originally next to the all-black F Diamond (ex-Tor Hollandia) is actually being broken up at a different location having been re-sold between breakers. In the process she has managed to have her port side bridge wing completely ripped off – it can be seen hanging over the forecastle.

Belsky before...

Belsky before...

... and after.

... and after.

This latter, most unfortunate, image did however ring a vague bell – compare and contrast the above with this slice through sister ship Horsa from an early Sealink poster…

Click for larger image.

Click for larger image.

Mediterranean Massacre – Part One

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

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

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

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

Sara I.

Sara I.

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

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

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

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

Ouzoud.

Ouzoud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Castalia as St Tropez.

Castalia as St Tropez (2005).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Farewell Senlac, Apollo Express, Express Apollon, Apollon

With minimal warning, the Apollon of European Seaways sailed for scrapping at Aliaga in Turkey on Thursday morning. Her final scheduled sailings on the Bari-Durres run were in mid-September, after which she retired to Salamis near Piraeus for a final lay up prior to departing one last time.

Originally the Senlac of 1973 the ship was the last of a trio for cross-channel services to be built by the naval dockyard in Brest. As outlined in The Senlac Story (which will be updated for the final chapter shortly) whereas her sister ships Hengist and Horsa were destined for Dover and Folkestone service, the Senlac was always intended for Newhaven-Dieppe and inherited the convoluted ownership structure of ships on that route. She was, however, resolutely British in terms of operation and manning – at least until January 1985 when the British Sealink sold up and she was transferred to the French flag.

The cover of the shipyard's brochure commemorating the Hengist, Horsa and Senlac.

A sale to Greece in late 1987 opened up the second chapter in her career – she became an incredibly successful and popular ship in domestic traffic with, successively, Ventouris Sea Lines, Agapitos Express Ferries and Hellas Ferries/Hellenic Seaways. For many years she was one of the primary ships on the key route from Piraeus through to Santorini and, after a couple of years away from this role, returned to the service for one last, brief, Summer in 2005. Her final owner was the Arkoumanis family, behind the long-standing fringe Adriatic operator European Seaways. At first she was used on sporadic services between Italy and Greece before, in 2009, being deployed to Durres in Albania out of the Italian port of Bari, latterly alongside the ex-Japanese Ionis. Occasional sailings to Greece continued but the Albanian routes more often than not form the final part of a ship’s career – and so it was with the Apollon.

The ship was latterly in somewhat poor mechanical health and this seems to have forced her owners’ hand – certainly it does not seem to have been a long-planned decision to let the ship go at this point in time. The 2010 timetable on the European Seaways website still shows her reappearing in December to offer additional sailings over the Christmas period. On the newly released 2010/11 schedule, these are now pencilled in for the Arkoumanis family’s other ship, the Bridge (ex-Bass Trader).

The Senlac’s demise can perhaps ultimately be traced back to her sale from Greek domestic service back in 2006 – and in some respects she paid the price for the continuing success of her sister ships. When the former Hengist and Horsa were sold in early 2004 to rival domestic operators, Hellas Ferries were soon kicking themselves as they were used in competition against their own ongoing services. This class of ship is almost perfect for Greek island hopping service and Hellas Ferries were determined, when the time came, to dispose of the former Senlac to an operator who would not use her in a competing trade. Unfortunately the Apollon was never entirely suitable as an overnight ship on the Adriatic and her mechanical fragility sealed her fate. Those intermittent mechanical gremlins didn’t, however, prevent the Apollon sailing to Aliaga under her own power, topping 17 knots at times as she sped to meet her doom.

Presented below are a few reminders of what was, despite the sudden end, the long and memorable career of a very popular ship.

The Senlac swinging at Newhaven.

The Senlac swinging at Newhaven.

Always a head-turner...

Always a head-turner...

Leaving Newhaven.

Leaving Newhaven.

The Senlac’s career spanned a period of massive transformation in the transport networks between the United Kingdom and France. The Newhaven-Dieppe brochure (above) from the year of the ship’s introduction offers passengers a 2202 departure from London Victoria which, via two boat trains and the 2345 Dieppe ferry, will get them into Paris Saint-Lazare in time for an early breakfast at 0625. Cross-channel weather permitting of course. For over a century the Newhaven route remained a key link in transport connections between London and Paris yet today it all seems part of another world.

The Senlac never received Sealink British Ferries livery but this leaflet (above), covering almost the final weeks of her career as a British ship, features the SBF name. By this stage the ship was offering ‘Casino Cruises’ (below) – not available on the French vessels.

The ability of the careers of car ferries to span periods of vast social and technological change whilst themselves seeming to remain remarkably UNchanged can be demonstrated through comparative vehicle deck images. Above is the Senlac in 1973, below the Apollon in 2007.

Although for her early years paired with the French 'V' ships, by 1984 the Senlac's Newhaven-Dieppe partners were the Chartres and chartered Cornouailles.

Although for her early years paired with the French 'V' ships, by 1984 the Senlac's Newhaven-Dieppe partners were the Chartres and chartered Cornouailles.

The Chartres followed the Senlac to Greece in 1993 and, three years later, the pair were reunited in the fleet of Agapitos Express after the demise of the Senlac's initial Greek owners Ventouris Sea Lines. Together they formed a formidable partnership on the Piraeus-Paros-Santorini chain - as advertised here in the 1999 Agapitos Express brochure.

The Chartres followed the Senlac to Greece in 1993 and, three years later, the pair were reunited in the fleet of Agapitos Express after the demise of the Senlac's initial Greek owners Ventouris Sea Lines. Together they formed a formidable partnership on the Piraeus-Paros-Santorini chain - as advertised here in the 1999 Agapitos Express brochure.

Latterly, the Senlac was also to be reunited with the Cornouailles which, as the Sveti Stefan, was often found on an adjacent berth at Bari in between her sailings to Bar in Montenegro.

Latterly, the Senlac was also to be reunited with the Cornouailles which, as the Sveti Stefan, was often found on an adjacent berth at Bari in between her sailings to Bar in Montenegro.

At Piraeus in August 1999, beneath the bows of Minoan Lines' King Minos.

At Piraeus in August 1999, beneath the bows of Minoan Lines' King Minos.

In late 1999 Agapitos Express was absorbed into Hellas Ferries and by the Summer of 2003 the Express Apollon could be found attempting to fill the shoes of the long-serving but recently sold Express Milos (ex-Vortigern) on the Piraeus-Serifos-Sifnos-Kimolos-Milos run; she is seen here at Sifnos. Ultimately the Vortigern's true long-term replacement would be the Senlac's sister the Agios Georgios (ex-Hengist).

In late 1999 Agapitos Express was absorbed into Hellas Ferries and by the Summer of 2003 the Express Apollon could be found attempting to fill the shoes of the long-serving but recently sold Express Milos (ex-Vortigern) on the Piraeus-Serifos-Sifnos-Kimolos-Milos run; she is seen here at Sifnos. Ultimately the Vortigern's true long-term replacement would be the Senlac's sister the Agios Georgios (ex-Hengist).

The Golden Summer of 2004 saw all three sister ships sailing for rival operators out of the secondary Athenian port of Rafina; the Express Apollon is seen here approaching the port of Gavrio on Andros.

The Golden Summer of 2004 saw all three sister ships sailing for rival operators out of the secondary Athenian port of Rafina; the Express Apollon is seen here approaching the port of Gavrio on Andros.

The Penelope A (ex-Horsa) chasing the Express Apollon into port, 2004. Image courtesy Tasos Papanastasiou.

Link: Hengist, Horsa, Senlac: The Rafina Summer of 2004

The Express Apollon is seen here at Santorini in 2005, her final Summer of Greek domestic operation and back on her original Greek route. This was shortly after she received the new blue hull Hellenic Seaways livery.

At Piraeus, July 2005.

At Piraeus, July 2005.

The cover of the 2010 European Seaways brochure - the ship's final season.

The cover of the 2010 European Seaways brochure - the ship's final season.

A final view - it is July 2010 and the ship is in Bari alongside a fellow former Newhaven-Dieppe ship, the Bari (ex-St Anselm/Stena Cambria). Designed by the same naval architects for the same operators and delivered just seven years apart, the evolution in design is striking.

A final view - it is July 2010 and the Apollon is in Bari alongside a fellow former Newhaven-Dieppe ship, the Bari (ex-St Anselm/Stena Cambria). Designed by the same naval architects for the same operators and delivered just seven years apart, the evolution in design is striking.

The St Anselm and her sisters were not however blessed with the trademark Sealink 'Rogan' funnel, seen here on the Apollon in 2007.

The St Anselm and her sisters were not however blessed with the trademark Sealink 'Rogan' funnel, seen here on the Apollon in 2007.

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The many faces of the Senlac.

The ship's bell - which disappeared after her final spell of Hellenic Seaways service in 2005.

The ship's bell - which disappeared after her final spell of Hellenic Seaways service in 2005.

Picture of the week: Apollon (ex-Senlac)

The Apollon at Brindisi (click for larger image)

The Apollon at Brindisi (click for larger image)


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Previous image

More on the Senlac

Nigel Best has come to the rescue to complete our update of the current status of the ‘H Boats’ with recent images, from owners European Seaways, of the Senlac, now the Apollon, operating between Bari and Durres.

The Apollon at Bari.

The Apollon at Bari.


The Apollon's bridge.

The Apollon's bridge.

Starboard side lounge.

Starboard side lounge.

The Franta Belsky 'Senlac' mural at Boat Deck level.

The Franta Belsky 'Senlac' mural at Boat Deck level.

Mention was previously made of the volume of competition on this route, with perhaps the most competing ships on any overnight crossing in the world. In full, to the best of my knowledge, the complete line up is as follows:

  • European Seaways: the Apollon & Ionis
  • Ventouris Ferries: Rigel, Siren & Athens
  • AGEMAR/Halkydon: Arberia, Grecia, Venezia (also sailing to Trieste but the ships rotate between the two routes)
  • Adria Ferries: Riviera Adriatica. The Riviera del Conero (ex-Egitto Express) appears to be remaining exclusively on the company’s original route between Durres and Ancona this Summer.
  • Tirrenia Divisione Adriatica : refurbished Strade Romana class Domiziana & Flaminia
  • G Lines: Santa Maria I (although the company’s website makes no mention of it, the ship is also making some sailings Barletta-Durres)
  • Lastly the sole fast ferry on the route, Virtu Ferries/Venezia Lines‘ San Gwann
  • Not operating to Durres, but on an optimistic new route from Bari to Shengjin in Albania’s north are Azzurra Line and their peripatetic Azzurra.

    Down the coast on the parallel Brindisi-Vlore route the demise of the Kapetan Alexandros A has done little to change the nature of operations with Medglory Shipping’s Veronica Line and Red Stars‘ Red Star I competing with the Agoudimos replacement the Ionian Spirit. Although Red Star seem to be Skenderbeg Lines reborn, the latter’s name has joined Palmier Ferries, Rainbow Lines, Prosperity Navigation etc in defunct operators on this route. The Europa I remains in Brindisi, where she has been laid up now for more than a year after the failure of last year’s Otranto-Vlore operation.

    The most notable names missing from the list of Albanian operators are Marlines and their Duchess M, the former Breizh-Izel of Brittany Ferries. Marlines’ final years were a cruel betrayal of their glory days (pre-Superfast), but they seemed to have found a niche in a market more akin to the Greece-Italy routes of that halcyon era. The company has not, however, returned for 2009 and so one must wonder if this is to be the end of another of the Adriatic’s most famous names, with HML and, to all intents and purposes, Adriatica already gone. The Duchess M, for now, remains laid up in Elefsis.

    The future for the ex-Senlac is almost as uncertain. The Arkoumanis-controlled European Seaways have boldly expanded into the Durres market, from their first sailing less than ten months ago to now having a two-ship rolling schedule. Whether this has been a success or not time will tell, but for now the Apollon, the most original but also the most mechanically tender of the three Sealink sisters, continues to provide valuable service to one of the Adriatic market’s bottom feeders.

    Hengist, Horsa & Senlac, Summer 2009

    Although Ventouris Sea Lines’ unprepossessing website gives little away, the Agios Georgios (ex-Hengist) remains the key conventional ship on operations from Piraeus to the Western Cyclades. New competition has emerged this year in the shape of the rebuilt Adamantios Korais of expansion-minded Zante Ferries which has effectively replaced the Romilda, but the Agios Georgios remains the only conventional ship to offer daily departures from Piraeus. There are also regular calls at Milos by ANEK’s passing Prevelis which has taken over a roundabout Piraeus-Rhodes circuit similar to that previously operated by the Vitsentzos Kornaros. Fast ferry connections are offerred this year by the Speedrunner IV (ex-SuperSeaCat Four) and Hellenic Seaways, having long left the conventional sailings to the Agios Georgios, provide a daily round trip with the Highspeed 3, whilst Sea Jets‘ passenger only Super Jet daily connects Piraeus-Milos-Folegandros (-Santorini-Amorgos-Koufonisi).

    Peter Kidman sends these pictures of the Agios Georgios, taken in July. VSL made further investment during the ship’s refit earlier in the year, which resulted in the addition of eight rather unsightly square windows on the starboard side forward enclosed promenade (part of the First Class accommodation).

    The Agios Georgios loading in Piraeus

    The Agios Georgios loading in Piraeus

    Arriving in Serifos.

    Arriving in Serifos.

    At Serifos.

    At Serifos.

    At Serifos.

    At Serifos.

    At Serifos.

    At Serifos.

    A similar view of the ship at Milos before the recent modifications.

    A similar view of the ship at Milos before the recent modifications.

    Over at Athens’ secondary port, the Penelope A (ex-Horsa) remains on the Rafina-Andros-Tinos-Mykonos route she has maintained ever since she first came to Greece in 1992. Competition on this routing remains hot, but unchanged from last year, with Blue Star’s Superferry II (ex-Prince Laurent) theoretically perhaps the main rival, with the insurgent Aqua Jewel and Theologos P of Alpha Ferries and Cyclades Fast Ferries (sic) respectively also competing. The Seajet 2 and Highspeed 2 also buzz around in and amongst the conventional ships.

    Patrick Vandeputte has sent these recent images of the Penelope A at Tinos.

    The third sister, the more elusive Apollon (ex-Senlac) has been in service for European Seaways throughout the Summer, operating alongside the rather less appealing Ionis between Bari (Italy) and the port city of Durres (Albania). The Dover Ferry Photos Forum has recent pictures here (registration required). These are but two of at least thirteen conventional ships operating on the Bari-Durres route this Summer, of which the most notable to North Europeans perhaps are the Rigel (ex-Baltic Kristina/Ilich/Bore I) and the Arberia (ex-Wasa Queen/Orient Express/Bore Star).

    With thanks to Peter Kidman and Patrick Vandeputte for the 2009 pictures of the Agios Georgios and Penelope A respectively.

    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.

    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.

    The Southern Adriatic – a new Golden Age?

    Igoumenitsa Classics

    Igoumenitsa Classics

    Michele Lulurgas’ epic 20-year trek through the ferries of the Adriatic highlights what in many ways can be seen as the sad decline of the area’s ferry operations as an oligopoly of large operators, hewn both out of once-proudly independent concerns such as ANEK and Minoan, alongside newcomers Attica, rose to the top.

    It is true that many of the famous ferry names of the Adriatic’s original car ferry era are mostly gone: concerns such as HML, Fragline, Adriatica and Marlines and an indepedent Strintzis, all have long since ceased to operate on the Greece-Italy trade that once they dominated. Yet looking at the Southern ports of Bari and Brindisi in the Summer of 2008, no less than 31 conventional ships were to be found, from 15 different operators and only two of those ships came from one of the ‘Big Three’.

    Those glory days of the late 1980s/early 1990s when the vintage ferry enthusiast wouldn’t know which way to turn as he faced choices of the Countess M (ex-Leopard) or the Corinthia (ex-Duke of Argyll), the Lydia (ex-Koningin Fabiola) or the Queen M (ex-Rangatira) will never return. Yet there remains enough within the current fleets to appeal. Perhaps the biggest difference now is that the journey will involve heading to Albania or Croatia or Montenegro. This should not deter since, as destinations, these countries offer as much if not more than Greece with spectacular scenery, relatively favourable exchange rates and varying degrees of ‘unspoilt’ and ‘undiscovered’.

    Here we assess the 2008 Southern Adriatic operators and ponder the future in a market where short-lived operators have long been a fact of life.

    The Apollon (ex-Senlac) at Corfu

    The Apollon (ex-Senlac) at Corfu


    European Seaways
    Poor old European Seaways – just as they were getting a foot in the door with a second straight season running the Apollon from Brindisi to Igoumentisa, Agoudimos and Endeavor have a huge fall out and almost double their previous Brindisi-Greece capacity.

    If you are going to operate a veteran ship in these waters, the Apollon has a strong pedigree – but she’ll never pass muster as a real overnight ship and seems one of the more mechanically troubled of the ex-Sealinks.

    Over the Winter Mr Arkoumanis has deployed his ship in the Albanian trade and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her stay there next Summer. If the Veronica Line fails to reappear for 2009, what chance the Apollon filling the third Brindisi-Vlore slot?

    The Ionian Spirit (ex-Roslagen/Viking 3) off Brindisi

    The Ionian Spirit (ex-Roslagen/Viking 3) off Brindisi

    Agoudimos
    The partnership with Endeavor on the Bari-Patras route lasted from 2005 to 2007 but never seemed entirely happy and for 2008 it came to an end. Agoudimos pulled out all the stops, increasing their Greece-Italy fleet from two ships to four. Yet Shippax statistics show that for double the sailings, they took around half the passengers compared to 2007. Ouch.

    Might Agoudimos follow the lead of famiy rivals GA Ferries a couple of years ago and withdraw completely from the Greece-Italy market? One feels that the net result could be the end of the Albanian veteran the Kapetan Alexandros A (ex-Doric Ferry). A freed-up Ionian Spirit would make a decent enough replacement.

    Ionian Queen at Brindisi

    Ionian Queen at Brindisi


    Endeavor Lines
    Who would have thought that the backpacker market out of Brindisi wasn’t dead after all? Indeed, who could have guessed that there was a market for parties of American tourists who needed to sail from Southern Italy to Greece? Working in co-operation with the former HML Italian agencies, Endeavor appear to have inherited the Brindisi Inter-Rail/Eurail concessions. Aware of the ongoing strength of the brand they also include the HML logo on the cover of their brochures.
    All round, it seems to have been a storming year for Endeavor who will add the new Princess T to their fleet next year. At present, there has been no indication that one of the existing trio will drop out.

    The Rigel at Durres

    The Rigel at Durres

    Ventouris Ferries
    Ventouris’ three-ship strategy from Bari to Albania seems to have been calculated to kill off one or more of the competition. That hasn’t really happened and the benefit of adding the Rigel in capacity terms seems questionable. As a ship however she set high standards and raises the question as to why any discerning traveller would sail with any operator other than Ventouris or Adriatica on the Durres route. But they do.

    To Igoumenitsa, the Siren and the Polaris, their vehicle decks crammed with freight and camper vans, plod ever onwards.

    The Cesme at Ancona

    The Cesme at Ancona

    Marmara Lines
    The sole remaining Italy-Turkey ferry operator. Demand still seems strong enough for the not insubstantial fares they charge; but it has to be a declining market, so will they be back for more in 2009?

    Red Star I at Vlore

    Red Star I at Vlore

    Red Star Ferries/Skenderbeg Lines
    Who are Red Star Ferries? Who are Skenderbeg Lines? I don’t know, but the former has taken the latter’s slots in Brindisi and they share a website. Skenderbeg’s venerable Europa I was supposed to sail from Otranto to Vlore this year but never set sail after the authorities intervened. She has remained laid up in Brindisi ever since. More happily, the Red Star I has established herself as market leader on Brindisi-Vlore.

    Veronica Line (ex-Free Enterprise V) at Brindisi

    Veronica Line (ex-Free Enterprise V) at Brindisi

    Medglory Shipping
    The company are called ‘Medglory Shipping’, but the ship is the Veronica Line.
    They did operate from Otranto but it wasn’t to their liking so they started from Brindisi instead.
    The ship was detained repeatedly in Brindisi and later retreated to lay up in Naples.
    On the face of it, the omens for a 2009 return aren’t good.

    Sveti Stefan II

    Sveti Stefan II

    Montenegro Lines
    For a while Montenegro Lines followed the herd and sailed curiously to Albania as well as their home nation. That has now stopped and the ‘Svetis’ both sail to Bar again, from both Ancona and Bari. A nice pair of interesting ships they are too, although the crews can be mildly eccetric.

    The Azzurra (image courtesy Ann Haynes)

    The Azzurra (image courtesy Ann Haynes)

    Azzurra Lines
    Who sails with them? Why do they do it? Nobody knows, yet Azzurra have survived for eight seasons now so they must be doing something right. The Azzurra herself is a real classic from the 1960s Golden Generation of Scandinavian car ferries, albeit one now thoroughly refurbished.

    Venezia at Durres

    Venezia at Durres

    Ilion Lines
    The Venezia and Grecia continue on the Bari-Durres and Trieste-Durres routes. For enthusiasts, the fact that this class of four Livorno-built ships is now approaching classic status is a bit of a shock. The Ilion ships’ sisters, the Express Pegasus and the former Egitto Express (now the Riviera Del Conero and a regular visitor to Durres herself) have proven interesting in their own right so perhaps I owe this overlooked pair a sail. Former Adriatica fleetmate the Santa Maria I (ex-Sansovino) also made an appearance on Bari-Durres in 2008 for newcomers G Lines before retiring early to Piraeus with engine problems.

    Flaminia off Bari

    Flaminia off Bari

    Adriatica
    We shall continue to call them ‘Adriatica’ – no matter that they say Tirrenia on the hulls, as long as the winged lion remains on the funnels they retain a glimmer of former glories. And, truth be told, the old company doesn’t scrub up too badly on the Albanian run. The Flaminia and Domiziana offer a good quality operation – albeit with something of the old school of service, the retrofitted surroundings are nice and modern, on the Flaminia at least.

    The Duchess M

    The Duchess M

    Marlines
    So it’s come to this: one route, one ship. The Duchess M had a plentiful supply of German and French tourists amongst the full load when I sailed on her this August. No one seems to have told them that Marlines aren’t quite the top ferry operator they once were, or that the Duchess M is no Crown M. It was worthwhile to see what they had done to an ex-English Channel stalwart (answer: a lot, not much of it good) and worth it to say I had sailed with this famous old company. Had I only done it twenty years earlier….

    The Liburnija

    The Liburnija

    Jadrolinija
    The Liburnija and Marko Polo continue to maintain sailings to Dubrovnik out of Bari for Jadrolinija and a more perfectly preserved and maintained pair of classic ferries you couldn’t wish to find. Catch the sweet little Liburnija on a quiet sailing and she really captures the imagination. The ‘MP’ is more businesslike but together they offer a memorable way for the enthusiast to sail into or out of Croatia, one rivalled only by the Ancona up the coast between Split and Ancona.

    Where next for the Blue Horizon?

    Where next for the Blue Horizon?

    Blue Star/Superfast
    Last but by no means least, the only one of the ‘establishment’ operators to sail out of Southern Italy. The new Superfast I and II will be in operation together by the end of 2009 – which leaves a lingering question mark about what will happen to the existing ships. The Blue Horizon will stay until the arrival of the ‘II’ but already, with the return of the Blue Star 1 to the fold, at least two ships seem surplus to requirements. On the face of it these are the Superfast XII and possibly the Diagoras; SNCM may be a potential purchaser, looking around as they are for a new ‘Navire Mixte’ although the ‘XII’ might be too much of a passenger ship for their taste (never mind the price tag) whilst the Diagoras is probably too old. Perhaps a further reshuffle could free up Blue Star 1 or 2.

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