Posts tagged: superfast

ANEK-Superfast

Olympic Champion

Olympic Champion

The recent news of the combination of the primary routes of Greek operators ANEK and Superfast marks a significant step towards consolidation in the Greek ferry industry. The agreement sees the operators co-ordinate schedules on the domestic battlefield between Piraeus and Heraklion (Crete) together with the main Greece-Italy link, Patras-Igoumenitsa-Ancona.

On the latter route, since the strategic withdrawal of Superfast’s sister company Blue Star in 2002, there has been a period of unprecedented stability. Three operators – ANEK, Minoan Lines and Superfast have been engaged in traffic, each with a fleet of fast, large and modern luxury passenger vessels with huge freight decks, each offering daily peak season departures from both Patras and Ancona. The changes have been upgrades in tonnage rather than in broad nature of operation – Superfast retained a four ship service (up to two daily departures each way) until the redeployment of the Superfast XII to Heraklion and the sale of the Superfast V in 2009. Minoan then replaced their Europa and Olympia Palaces with the new and huge, but not custom-designed, Cruise Europa and Cruise Olympia in 2009/10.

The deployment by Minoan of those vast new ships, allied to the economic downturn which has hit Greece harder than most countries, probably forced ANEK and Superfast to turn towards each other. ANEK’s Olympic Champion will therefore be re-deployed on the Piraeus-Heraklion route where she will co-operate with Superfast XII, leaving a three ship service on the Adriatic – with the Hellenic Spirit running a supplementary service every other day against the ongoing daily departures of Superfast VI and XI.

Superfast XII

Superfast XII

At Heraklion, whilst ANEK have over the years established themselves as a big player in the freight market, Minoan’s two ‘Palaces’ still dominate passenger traffic to the port city in which the company was formed and is still based (albeit now as a subsidiary of the Neapolitan Grimaldi group). The provocative deployment of Superfast XII in 2009 was a strategic move designed to hit Minoan hard in their own back yard, but it does not seem to have been a complete success with much local loyalty to the home town operator remaining. The combination with ANEK can be expected to pack a harder punch.

Hellenic Spirit

Hellenic Spirit

From mid June, ANEK’s venerable Kriti I and Kriti II, now familiar features of the Piraeus and Heraklion portscapes, will be withdrawn in favour of an integrated ANEK-Superfast timetable involving daily return trips. The stage is therefore set for a two-route battle between the new combine, backed by two of Greece’s largest domestic players (all of whose other routes remain outside the agreement) and Minoan, backed by Grimaldi.

In anticipation of this new era, presented below are some images of and onboard the fine, fast, modern ships which in 2011 will operate on these, perhaps the most important ferry routes in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Patras-Igoumenitsa-Ancona

Hellenic Spirit

Hellenic Spirit

Superfast VI

Superfast VI

Superfast XI

Superfast XI

Hellenic Spirit

Hellenic Spirit

Hellenic Spirit

Hellenic Spirit

Hellenic Spirit

Hellenic Spirit

Superfast VI

Superfast VI

Superfast XI

Superfast XI

Superfast XI

Superfast XI

Cruise Europa

Cruise Europa

Cruise Olympia

Cruise Olympia

Cruise Europa

Cruise Europa

Cruise Europa

Cruise Europa

Cruise Europa

Cruise Europa

Piraeus-Heraklion

Olympic Champion

Olympic Champion

Superfast XII

Olympic Champion

Olympic Champion

Olympic Champion

Olympic Champion

Superfast XII

Superfast XII

Superfast XII

Superfast XII

Knossos Palace

Knossos Palace

Festos Palace

Festos Palace

Knossos Palace

Knossos Palace

Knossos Palace

Knossos Palace

Where next….?

Kriti I

Kriti I

Displaced from their Heraklion routings, the two 1979-built ‘Kritis’ are not obviously of use elsewhere within ANEK’s route network, so their future remains unclear; a direct sale for scrap is possible but still does not seem an obvious fate.

Kriti II

Kriti II

Superfast V: the end

On Friday 12 February, the Superfast V arrived in Patras from Ancona after her last crossing on the route she has served primarily since being delivered in 2001. Later that day she left Patras for the final time, with much farewell horn blowing from other ships in port, and early in the morning of the 13th she was off Syros in advance of a very brief drydocking in the floating dock there prior to handover to Brittany Ferries to become their Cap Finistère.

By the same afternoon the ship had dismounted the dry dock and preparations were in hand for the renaming with the Superfast titles on the hull and the ship’s name painted out. Nikos, a regular on nautilia.gr and resident of Syros, captured the ship as she entered port, and after drydocking with her former identity blanked out.




By the 14th, the ship had lost her Superfast markings...

By the 14th, the ship had lost her Superfast markings...




... for now however the Superfast flag remains flying.

... for now however the Superfast flag remains flying.

After the ship is finally handed over in Syros, it now appears to be Brittany Ferries’ intention to overhaul and repaint the ship elsewhere.

With thanks to Nikos V & nautilia.gr

Things Seen – February 2010

The Nikolaos, still with a red hull, at Perama in September 2009.

The Nikolaos, still with a red hull, at Perama in September 2009.

  • After many years laid up at Elefsis and Salamis the first of the Sunderland-built Superflexes, the Superflex Alfa, saw service in 2008 as the Nikolaos between Igoumenitsa and Corfu for Ionion Lines, still with her original red hull. There she operated in competition with her former sister, the much rebuilt Pantokrator (Superflex Foxtrot). The operation did not seem to have been a success and for nine months the ship was laid up in Igoumenitsa. In July last year she moved to Perama for attention; however, there she remained, with work seemingly halted. The reports now are that it has been completed and the company’s website offers a glimpse of the new look – the red hull is gone and some new openings on the upper vehicle deck indicate that the changes are more than superficial. With her sister the Gitte 3 (ex-Superflex Delta) having recently departed for the scrappers, time is starting to catch up with this class of ship, most of which have experienced uncertainty and lay up at one stage or another through their fairly troubled history. Hopefully, the lead ship will be able to make a success of her operation this time around.
  • The stylish Swedish train ferries Trelleborg (1958) and SkÃ¥ne (1967) were built for the Trelleborg-Sassnitz service, operated in co-operation with the East German Deutsche Reichsbahn, whose ships were rather more austere.

    Comprehensive pictures of and on board the Swedish pair in both their early years and latterly when they each headed to Southern Europe can be found here:

    Trelleborg and Skåne

  • The sad wreck of the Jassim (ex-Kattegat of 1961) is picked up quite clearly on Google Maps.
  • Rather more haunting is the wreck of the Salem Express, the former Fred Scamaroni and Nuits Saint Georges which sailed direct from layup following her aborted UK service to trade in the Red Sea in 1981. The ship tragically sank in December 1991, taking at least 470 people with her. A deep breath is required before viewing some of these 2005 images of her interior, and of the remains of some of her doomed passengers.
  • The Express Adonis (ex-Ailsa Princess/Earl Harold) rather disappeared off the radar when sold by Hellenic Seaways back in 2006. She has, however, embarked on a new career as a casino ship in Indian waters, firstly under the name New Caribbean Princess and most recently as the New Cambay Prince. Passengers appear to frequently arrive at the ship via tender which provides a few interesting youtube videos. Her operator’s website seems adequate enough but some of the reviews have been less flattering: how’s about “That’s not to suggest that you’re taking a ride in a rat-infested boat (or perhaps the rats have already jumped ship)” for a back handed compliment?

    Meanwhile, the headline ‘Disgusting!’ sums up environmentalists’ concerns about the ship’s alledged dumping of garbage in the Arabian Sea.

  • On the following link, Prince Philip asks some unilluminating questions during the construction of the Finnjet (h/t LandgÃ¥ngen)
  • The cutaway diagram is a staple for ferry operators trying to showcase their newest and best vessels to the discerning public. Most modern versions are fairly sanitised, but let’s look back to the early 1980s and Trasmed’s image of the Ciudad de Badajoz. Zoom in up-close and check out the detail of what the people on board are actually up to. Towelling themselves off after showers, stuck on lifts between floors, but mostly peacock-like showing themselves off to best advantage. And, just to the right of the lift, what is that man doing in the washbasin?
  • Barely a month seems to go by without a current or former Superfast ship changing hands. This picture of the Superfast IX (now Atlantic Vision) in dry dock seems to fit the mood as the Attica fleet seems set into decline – just a sliver of red remains, the vast bulk being extinguished by a sea of blue. The days when Superfast changed overnight and then dominated the Greek international ferry market seem ever more distant.
  • Pilot’s model ships have quite a following with examples passing for not inconsiderable sums on eBay. This website showcasing Bruce Peter’s collection snuck onto the web, unheralded, a couple of years ago.
  • © Bruce Peter

    © Bruce Peter

  • The Nereus was a smart little ship, built as the Scania for Rederi Ab Svea she was later the Scania Express and Polhelm before passing to Agapitos Lines in 1981. In Greece she was deployed on an almost incomprehensible schedule involving 30+ ports, mostly smaller islands with tiny populations. She was lost off the coast of Crete in 1989 and for many years the wreck was visible off Sideros.

    A couple of rather charming videos of the ship during her Greek career can be found here and here.

  • Stena Line’s predilection for tinkering with their ships’ interiors shows no sign of abating. Here are some images of the most recent remodelling of the Kiel ships ‘Germanica’ and ‘Scandinavica’.
  • Maritime historian Peter Knego recently wrote about his visit to the Faithful (originally the first Wappen Von Hamburg (1955) and later the Delos and Xanadu) which, after several years where it seemed she was just another old ship doomed to be scrapped, appears to be having one last chance at survival. His pictures make a fascinating contrast to this snippet of film relating the Delos’s maiden arrival in Greece in 1961. (h/t Nautilia)
  • In the last ‘Things Seen’ we touched on one of the Baroness M (ex-Lion)’s more dramatic moments when she was attacked by Syrian gunboats in 1990. For sixteen years after being delivered in late 1967 until sale to the Greek Cypriot Marlines the ship was a familiar sight around the coast of the United Kingdom, and she was once more when chartered for a much commented-upon spell back on the English Channel for British Channel Island Ferries in 1987. In between times however the ship spent one Summer operating for Marlines on a long, once weekly, Ancona-Igoumenitsa-Patras-Izmir routing, via the Corinth Canal and it is during that 1986 season that she is captured here and here looking quite splendid as she passes through the canal with what appears to be only a modest sprinkling of passengers aboard.
  • The Candia.

    The Candia.

  • For years I paid little attention to the Candia and Rethimnon of ANEK, dismissing them as just another pair of Japanese ferries diverting attention from the real Greek beauties, the ex-North European tonnage. That rather narrow view of Greek ferry history still pertains to a degree, but what mustn’t be overlooked is the impact these ships had when introduced – they were virtually brand new and were an amazing contrast on routes to Crete to Minoan’s famed Minos and the Kydon, ANEK’s own original ship. Here, dignatories are shown around the Candia as she is inaugurated in 1973.
  • Comedy capers with a current ANEK ship as this video of the Prevelis demonstrates that the so-called ‘Mediterranean moor’ isn’t as easily executed as it sometimes appears.
  • The remains of the former Sealink Isle of Wight ferry Freshwater continue to languish at the former scrapyard in Garston, Merseyside to which she was sold back in 1996. This fascinating video tour of the ship just before she left Sealink service is a reminder of rather happier times.
  • Lastly, as the ships head towards their 38th birthdays, here is a nice image of the Hengist and Horsa together off Folkestone very early in their English Channel careers.

    For the record, the Agios Georgios (ex-Hengist) had a hiccup with an engine failure a couple of days ago, returning to Piraeus to discharge her passengers. She has since resumed her regular services.

  • The Agios Georgios at Piraeus.

    The Agios Georgios at Piraeus.

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

    Brittany Ferries & the Superfast V

    It was confirmed today that Brittany Ferries have acquired the Superfast V from Attica – for what purpose remains to be seen but the speculation is that the ship will be used to consolidate the company’s Spanish routes, particularly after the success of the Cotentin’s freight sailings to Santander.

    It is undeniable that Brittany Ferries have acquired a splendid ship; for speedy freight sailings she will most likely be a success. On the passenger side, however, they need to be careful to use her specific capabilities to best effect. She is not, and should not be sold as, another Pont Aven. The ship has a notional passenger capacity of 1,600 of which 842 are berthed in cabins. The remainder in Superfast days have been accommodated partly in a pair of modestly-sized windowless reclining seat lounges, partly through staying in their caravans via ‘camping on board’ but mostly on deck. Given that, for Spanish service to all intents and purposes the capacity will have to be limited to not much more than 900. Even with that many aboard, the ship might feel busy when the weather isn’t good. The two outside bars, huge sheltered seating areas, lido area and promenades on two levels which effectively soak up the passenger loads in her current operations will prove of modest value in a Winter gale.

    That said, and depending on what refit work BF carry out, the ship and her sister, with a light passenger load, can be delightful vessels. The layout is slightly eccentric at times – with servicing routed along the centreline, main deck circulation is via parallel alleyways which cut through the otherwise attractive à la carte and self service restaurants giving them something of a corridor feel. The forward bar is compromised by a large centrally located casino area. The pièce de résistance, the twin level aft bar, is not as impressive structurally as it might appear from outside – the decks are carried right aft so there is no actual mezzanine fronting the double-deck glass window. However there is a double height area with spiral staircase adjacent to the bar counter and in the evenings this bar becomes the focus of on board life. It is not, however, a show lounge in any sense.

    Click above for a Superfast V General Arrangement plan (passenger decks only)

    Click above for a Superfast V General Arrangement plan (passenger decks only)

    The Superfast V at Ancona.

    The Superfast V at Ancona.

    What next for Superfast? The introduction of the two new ro-paxes Superfast I and Superfast II on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Bari run this year had released the Blue Horizon and Superfast XII. Whilst the future for the former is uncertain, the latter traded, with seemingly moderate success, between Piraeus and Heraklion this Summer, bringing Adriatic-style competition to the home island of ANEK and, moreover, the home port of Minoan. To maintain frequencies, the ‘XII’ could be brought back to the Adriatic as a direct replacement for the ‘V’. Conceding so soon on the Cretan route seems unlikely to me however. Instead my best bet is that the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Ancona service will drop back to just two ships and the duplicate sailing three times a week is abandoned – it had always seemed a little lavish, more so now that Minoan have upped capacity with their new vessels. Unless there are further redeployments, those two Superfast ships will be the slightly mis-matched Superfast XI and ‘VI’. Maybe to even things up the ‘VI’ could be sent to Heraklion and the ‘XII’ back to the Adriatic alongside her sister?

    Whatever happens, it is seems that the very best days of Superfast’s “cruise-paxes” are over. The new Bari ships, reliable freighters as they may be, lack the ambience even of the Blue Horizon. Whilst it is unlikely that the more tourist-oriented Ancona route would be well served by such vessels, the future for the whole operation must seem a little uncertain right now.

    This Summer, I sailed on the Superfast V out of Ancona and the pictures which follow were taken on board. The ship was relatively quiet as it was ‘against the season’ as it were – in late August the traffic is predominantly northbound as North Europeans return home from their holidays. Watching her arrive and discharge however, it was clear that, inbound, she had a heavy load of freight, camper vans, cars and foot passengers.

    The interior design of the Superfast V was by AMK.

    A quick turnaround at Ancona: foot passengers, freight and cars load and unload simultaneously.

    A quick turnaround at Ancona: foot passengers, freight and cars load and unload simultaneously.

    Foot passengers, boarding over the stern ramp, are whisked up to the passenger decks by escalator.

    Foot passengers, boarding over the stern ramp, are whisked up to the passenger decks by escalator.


    At the top of the escalator is this small lobby area, just aft of reception (seen in the background).

    At the top of the escalator is this small lobby area, just aft of reception (seen in the background).


    Reception.

    Reception.


    Continuing forward on the port side, next is the à la carte restaurant.

    Continuing forward on the port side, next is the à la carte restaurant.


    The design is slightly weakened by the fore-aft alleyway which cuts through the area, giving it something of a 'corridor' feel.

    The design is slightly weakened by the fore-aft alleyway which cuts through the area, giving it something of a 'corridor' feel.

    Amidships is the casino/bar. The forward third of this deck contains cabins and a small shop. The centrally located casino area is concealed behind the dividers to the right.

    Amidships is the casino/bar. The forward third of this deck contains cabins and a small shop. The centrally located casino area is concealed behind the dividers to the right.

    The forward stairwell at Deck 9 level.

    Turning around and heading aft along the starboard side, after passing a small childrens' play area, the self service restaurant can be found.

    Turning around and heading aft along the starboard side, after passing a small children's play area, the self service restaurant can be found.


    Right aft is the twin level main bar.

    Right aft is the twin level main bar.

    The upper level, looking across from the aft starboard quarter.

    The upper level, looking across from the aft starboard quarter.

    The bar at night.

    The bar at night.


    Other than the upper level of the aft bar, Deck 8 is given over to overnight accommodation. The same applies to Deck 9, other than this partially covered deck bar astern.

    Other than the upper level of the aft bar, Deck 8 is given over to overnight accommodation. The same applies to Deck 9, other than this partially covered deck bar astern.

    The view from Deck 9.

    The view from Deck 9.

    Looking forward on Deck 10 at night. Just out of sight on the right is an area of covered bench seating which, matched on the port side, provides nearly 300 seats.

    Looking forward on Deck 10 at night. Just out of sight on the right is an area of covered bench seating which, matched on the port side, provides nearly 300 seats.

    The pool and lido area, amidships on Deck 10.

    Builder's plate, Deck 10.

    Builder's plate, Deck 10.

    Lastly, the partially enclosed Deck 5 is the location of the 'camp on board' facility, where passengers can sleep in their caravans or camper vans. Toilet, showers and free electricity are provided.

    Lastly, the partially enclosed Deck 5 is the location of the 'camp on board' facility, where passengers can sleep in their caravans or camper vans. Toilet, showers and free electricity are provided.

    Unloading in Igoumenitsa.

    Unloading in Igoumenitsa.

    Picture of the week: Superfast VI

    Superfast VI off Ancona. Click for larger image.

    Superfast VI off Ancona. Click for larger image.


    Last week's picture

    Last week's picture

    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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