Posts tagged: ventouris ferries

Farewell Svealand, Stena Seatrader, Seatrade

. . .


A couple of weeks ago Ventouris Ferries’ Seatrade departed for scrapping, under the name Sea Project. The ship, originally delivered in 1973, had operated for the Greek company on the Igoumenitsa-Bari route for the past three years, before which she enjoyed a 35-year north European career. For the first 16 years she traded on Sweden-Germany routes, initially as a train ferry, before a sale to Stena Line in 1989 preceded nearly two decades of UK service, as a freighter on the North and Irish Seas.

Shortly before the end I joined the Seatrade for a heavily-laden crossing to Italy. Ventouris Ferries are a peculiar operation who for several years had operated a pair of former DFDS ro-paxes on the Bari route in the Siren (ex-Dana Gloria, 1976) and her lengthened sister Polaris (ex-Dana Futura, 1975). The arrival of the Seatrade for 2009 displaced the Siren, which went for scrap in 2010; the Polaris followed in early 2011. This left the Seatrade, the eldest and, from a passenger perspective, by some distance the least agreeable of the trio and for the summer of 2011 she was paired with the chartered Olympus (ex-Ropax 2).

The realities of the Ventouris Ferries business on the Igoumenitsa route are clear from these moves – this is a company which is predominantly focussed on freight and the passenger market they most enjoy is “camping on board” in which passengers drive their camper vans aboard and, for the most part, stay there. Freight drivers are, of course, welcome but there doesn’t seem to be much desire to cater for motorists, less still foot passengers, and the company website reflects this, barely mentioning the Bari-Igoumenitsa route and instead being almost totally dedicated to the more mainstream Bari-Durres (Albania) operation.

At peak season, and with the limited space aboard the Seatrade, it proved rather difficult to find tickets for her on our crossing but we managed to secure a pair of places on deck. Having observed the ship’s arrival at Igoumenitsa from Bari in the morning we sailed over to Corfu for the day, returning to embark a couple of hours before the scheduled departure time at which point the loading of freight was already in full swing. The difficulties of squeezing a near-full load of freight and camper vans onto the ship were demonstrated by the prolonged period over which this process took – having commenced at around 5pm the ship did not depart until past 10pm, over an hour late.

Below are some pictures from one of the more memorable crossings of 2011.

Link: Stena Seatrader, 1995 profile deckplan

The Seatrade, arriving from Bari in the morning, reverses onto her berth in Igoumenitsa.

The Seatrade, arriving from Bari in the morning, reverses onto her berth in Igoumenitsa.

The offices of Milano Travel, Ventouris Ferries' local agents, where they display a selection of fine images of scrapped Ventouris ships in the Polaris, Athens and Siren.

The offices of Milano Travel, Ventouris Ferries' local agents, where they display a fine selection of images of scrapped Ventouris ships in the Polaris, Athens and Siren.

Boarding the Seatrade over the main vehicle deck with the base of the railway lines still clearly visible. Until very late in the ship's Stena ownership the rails remained intact, with wooden boarding surrounding them.

Boarding the Seatrade over the main vehicle deck with the base of the railway lines still clearly visible. Until very late in the ship's Stena ownership the rails remained intact, with wooden boarding surrounding them - they were removed in 2007.

Embarking foot passengers ascend all the way to the top freight deck - where they find the former aft docking bridge...

Embarking foot passengers ascended all the way to the top freight deck to the former aft docking bridge...

... latterly in use as a reclining seat lounge.

... latterly in use as a reclining seat lounge.

The international terminal at Igoumenitsa.

Seen from the Seatrade is Igoumenitsa's international ferry terminal.

The top deck during loading. This was primarily used for tourist vehicles and, in particular, passengers "camping on board".
Some lorries were also squeezed in here...

Some lorries were also squeezed in up here...

Access forward from the aft bridge area was via this narrow alleyway alongside the camper vans on the port side. It appears a few passengers never got this far - the following morning some who had overnighted in the aft bridge enquired if "there was anywhere else" on board!

In a bid to increase the ship's passenger capacity, a pair of charming "lounges" were added on former open deck space, just aft of the bridge wings - here is the starboard side version.

In a bid to increase the ship's passenger capacity, a pair of charming 'lounges' were added on former open deck space, just aft of the bridge wings - here is the starboard side version.

The recesses beneath the lifeboats provided a small area of traditional outside deck space.

The recesses beneath the lifeboats provided a small area of traditional outside deck space.

Aft of the saloons on decks 7 and 8 were a variety of cabins, many of which had been spruced up by Stena in the ship's 2007 refit.

Aft of the saloons on decks 7 and 8 were a variety of cabins, many of which had been spruced up by Stena in the ship's 2007 refit.

At some stage the ship lost her small sauna, which is seen here in late 2006, before both the final Stena and Ventouris refits.

At some stage the ship lost her small sauna, which is seen here in late 2006, before both the final Stena and Ventouris refits.

Forward on Deck 8 was the former cafeteria, complete to the end with its Stena 'Truckers Lounge' identity.

Forward on Deck 8 was the former cafeteria, complete to the end with its Stena 'Truckers Lounge' identity.

Truckers Lounge bar counter; out of picture to the right is the small cafeteria servery area.

Truckers Lounge bar counter; out of picture to the right is the small, enclosed, cafeteria servery area.

Another view, looking across from the starboard side.

Another view, looking across from the starboard side.

The deck below, Deck 7, featured this lower lounge.

The deck below, Deck 7, featured this lower lounge.

Ventouris installed this small additional lounge, complete with bar and reception desk, aft of the forward saloon on Deck 7.

Ventouris installed this small additional lounge, complete with bar and reception desk, aft of the forward saloon on Deck 7.

Time to head below decks...

Time to head below decks...

The cabins on Deck 2 were used until very near the end in the Stena days but, with Ventouris, they were abandoned and derelict.

Moving back up a deck, Deck 3 was the main freight deck.

Moving back up a deck, Deck 3 was the main freight deck.

This still bore many clear signs that the ship had once been a train ferry.

This still bore many clear signs that the ship had once been a train ferry.

Deck 3 - looking aft from adjacent to the centre casing.

Deck 3 - looking aft from adjacent to the centre casing.

On board the ship during the Stena days, before the railway lines were properly removed.

On board the ship during the Stena days, before the railway lines were properly removed.

Later in the crossing, this view shows the stern door closed with some of the tourist traffic collected in Corfu just in front.

Later in the crossing, this view shows the stern door closed with some of the tourist traffic collected in Corfu just in front.

The second freight deck, Deck 5.

The second freight deck, Deck 5.

In one part of this deck there appeared to be evidence of there having been a lorry fire at some stage during Ventouris service.

In one part of this deck the charred deckhead appeared to indicate that, at some stage, there had been a lorry fire.

Returning to the top freight deck via the funnel casing.

Returning to the top freight deck via the funnel casing.

Some interesting gas cylinders could be found here...

Some interesting gas cylinders could be found here...

... test stamped March 1972.

... test stamped March 1972.

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Seatrade Miscellany

Back on the top vehicle deck, with loading still progressing slowly.

Back on the top vehicle deck, with loading still progressing slowly.

Other, more mainstream, competitors came and went as we slowly squeezed our heavy load of freight on board.

Other, more mainstream, competitors came and went as we slowly squeezed our heavy load of freight on board.

Night fell and the bolted-on plastic seating areas turned a lovely shade of blue, a lighting choice more commonly associated with landlords trying to drive away drug addicts.

Night fell and the bolted-on plastic seating areas turned a lovely shade of blue, a lighting choice more commonly associated with landlords trying to drive away drug addicts.

The engines are ramped up for departure and a huge plume of acrid smoke comes out of the old ship's funnel.

The engines are ramped up for departure and a huge plume of acrid smoke comes out of the old ship's funnel.

The ship's bell.

The ship's bell.

Sunrise the following morning - it comes as no surprise to learn we are running four hours late.

Sunrise the following morning - it comes as no surprise to learn we are running four hours late.

Those passengers who have spent the night wrapped up against the cold on the aft docking bridge wing wake to the first signs of another beautiful day.

Those passengers who have spent the night wrapped up against the cold on the aft docking bridge wing wake to the first signs of another beautiful day.

Down on Deck 5 the difficulties in loading the ship are shown in just how tightly packed together the lorries are.

Down on Deck 5 the difficulties in loading the ship are shown in just how tightly packed together the lorries are.

Time to get the camping stove out and cook breakfast...

Time to get the camping stove out and cook breakfast...

Finally the great port of Bari is in sight; we are headed for the modern terminal used by the Greek ferries and cruise ships but on the berth at the older terminal are vessels on routes to Albania, Croatia and Montenegro. From left to right: Bari (ex-St Anselm), Riviera Adriatica (ex-Daedalus), Ionian Sky, Ankara and Sveti Stefan (ex-Cornouailles).

Finally the great port of Bari is in sight; we are headed for the modern terminal used by the Greek ferries and cruise ships but on the berths at the older terminal are vessels on routes to Albania, Croatia and Montenegro. From left to right: Bari (ex-St Anselm), Riviera Adriatica (ex-Daedalus), Ionian Sky, Ankara and Sveti Stefan (ex-Cornouailles).

The Superfast II, deployed on Bari-Igoumenitsa-Patras route, overtook us shortly after sunrise and is already fully unloaded by the time we approach our berth.

The Superfast II, deployed on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Bari route, overtook us shortly after sunrise and is already fully unloaded by the time we approach our berth.

Embarkation of the Bari pilot.

Embarkation of the Bari pilot.

Safely on the berth - four hours, forty minutes late.

Safely on the berth - four hours, forty minutes late.

Fin.

Blast from the Past: Norwave & Norwind


Norwind & Norwave, “grandmother and grandfather to today’s ferries”, especially for Timo Selkälä.

The early and mid-1960s saw a series of very notable, independently owned car ferries introduced on services around the British Isles. We have previously looked at the introduction of the ‘Thoresen Vikings’ and I stand by my suggestion that these were perhaps the most significant of all – they were the first drive-through ships and showed directly what modern ferry design could do on areas of operation previously dismissed by the establishment as unprofitable.

Amongst the other significant independent British-based car ferries of the 1960s however were Townsend’s Free Enterprise, Normandy Ferries’ Dragon and Leopard, Burns & Laird’s Lion, Tor Line’s Tor Hollandia and Tor Anglia, Lion Ferry’s original Prins Hamlet and not forgetting Svenska Lloyd and Rederi AB Svea’s paradoxical Saga and Svea.

Somewhat easy to overlook amongst this cavalcade are North Sea Ferries’ (NSF’s) tiny Norwave and Norwind. The former entered service on the new Hull-Rotterdam (Europoort) service in December 1965, followed three months later by the Norwind and, to celebrate the new operation and its new ships, the celebratory brochure shown here was produced (see also the ships’ deckplan here). If the term has to be used then these were truly Britain’s first ro-pax ships – the ASN vessels, prior to the Europic Ferry, were really freighters which carried passengers whereas NSF offered a true tourist passenger service alongside the freight operation. Only 109m in length, the pair had revolutionary twin enclosed freight decks which could accommodate 47 12m lorries plus 70 cars – a remarkable feat for ships of such limited hull size (the Hengist and Horsa of 1972, virtuous and modern passenger, freight and car ferries of not dissimilar dimensions but a slightly later generation, could only carry three fifths of the NSF sisters’ freight load).

The ships were victims of their own success, fast becoming too small for the route they were designed for. Replaced on the Europoort operation by the Norland and Norstar of 1974, then the world’s largest car ferries, the original pair remarkably survived until 1987 on the secondary Hull-Zeebrugge route where they latterly required permanent backup with parallel sailings by dedicated ro-ro ships.

Beyond NSF, the sisters were sold to Ventouris Ferries (George Ventouris). Alas, both vessels were caught up in the mysterious happenings that afflicted the Ventouris family’s shipping operations in the 1980s and 1990s: the Norwave (renamed Italia Express) lasted only one season before being sunk during refit at Drapetsona following an explosion caused by limpet mines attached to the ship’s hull; the Norwind (Grecia Express) survived until 1994 when she was also sunk in equally mysterious circumstances whilst laid up in Perama (see pictures here). This was a sad end for a pair of revolutionary and much-loved early car ferries which operated in tandem throughout their respective lives and died almost predictably parallel deaths.

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