Posts tagged: vitsentzos kornaros

Scenes from a sailing on the Vitsentzos Kornaros (ex-Viking Viscount)

May 2016 will mark 40 years since Townsend Thoresen took delivery of the Viking Viscount, the last of their ‘Super Viking’ quartet for Southampton and Felixstowe service. We have looked in the past at two of her sisters, the Viking Venturer and Viking Voyager but today the ‘Viscount’ is the last survivor. After passing to TT’s successor P&O European Ferries in 1987 she ended her English Channel days more than two decades ago but continues operating in Greece as the Vitsentzos Kornaros for her only subsequent operator, Lane Lines.

Early days at Felixstowe where the operating company was technically still the Atlantic Steam Navigation Co with their Transport Ferry Service name still in use.

Early days at Felixstowe where the operating company was technically still the Atlantic Steam Navigation Co with their Transport Ferry Service name still in use.

The bar areas, forward and to port, on the Super Vikings were certainly the funkiest spots on any Townsend Thoresen ferry - if not quite the equal of contemporary ships like the St Edmund or Tor Britannia. The aft restaurant was also pleasant but the rest of the ships' accommodation including the Food Fayre self-service cafeteria was largely unremarkable. [/caption]

The bar areas, forward and to port, on the Super Vikings were certainly the funkiest spots on any Townsend Thoresen ferry – if not quite the equal of contemporary ships like the St Edmund or Tor Britannia. The aft restaurant was also pleasant but the rest of the ships’ accommodation including the Food Fayre self-service cafeteria was largely unremarkable.

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The Viking Viscount and Viking Voyager transferred to the western channel in 1986 and the 'Viscount' is seen here arriving at Portsmouth in P&O grey in July 1988. She is still showing her original port of Registry, Dover; this would change to Portsmouth when the ship was renamed Pride of Winchester in 1989.

The Viking Viscount and Viking Voyager transferred to the Western Channel in 1986 and the 'Viscount' is seen here arriving at Portsmouth in P&O blue in July 1988. She is still showing her original port of Registry, Dover; this would change to Portsmouth when the ship was renamed Pride of Winchester in 1989.


The images below are from a voyage in September 2013 on the ship’s regular operation between Kissamos on Crete to Piraeus via the islands of Kythira and its tiny neighbour Antikythera. The ship provides a direct link to the port of Athens for these half-forgotten corners of the Aegean, but it is a somewhat controversial one. The Vitsentzos Kornaros is heavily subsidised – in 2013 at a cost of almost Euro200 per passenger carried making this the most expensive ferry operation that the Greek government supports. The majority of travellers to these islands take the shorter ferry from Neapolis, over 4 hours driving to the south west of Athens, and in late 2013 government tried to withdraw the subsidy which would have seen the Piraeus link cease. An outcry followed and eventually agreement was reached which would see the Vitsentzos Kornaros continue (her scheduled retirement and replacement as outlined in the earlier 2009 contract between Lane and the government appears to have been brushed under the carpet).

It is not really expected that many passengers will sail direct from Kissamos to Piraeus (direct sailings from Chania, 30 minutes away from Kissamos, leave much later and tend to arrive earlier) so most are heading to or from Kythira and Anthikythera. But the salvation of the route was fortunate not just for islanders but also for travellers seeking a sail on a vintage ferry operating one of the most fascinating routes anywhere in Europe.

The Vitsentzos Kornaros at Kissamos.

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Boarding over the vehicle deck. As built the ship had retractable mezzanine decks covering the whole width of the this space but at some stage the sections between the engine casings have been removed.

Two berth cabin on present-day Deck 7 (originally B Deck). Although looking appropriately vintage, this room was installed by Lane when the ship came to Greece having latterly been part of the Club Class lounge with P&O.

Two berth cabin on present-day Deck 7 (originally B Deck). Although looking appropriately vintage this room was installed by Lane when the ship came to Greece having latterly been part of the Club Class lounge with P&O.

Time for a quick look around...

Time for a quick look around...

The amidships stairway on Deck 6, looking aft to the self-service.

The amidships stairway on Deck 6, looking aft to the self-service.

Just forward, the main reception desk is still retains its P&O-era light wood look.

Just forward, the main reception desk is still retains its P&O-era light wood look.

Little bits of original TT green signage have survived.

Little bits of original TT green signage have survived.

Starboard side, looking aft.

Starboard side, looking forward.

And looking forward.

Lounge area right forward, overlooking the bow.

Lounge area right forward, overlooking the bow.

Port side bar area.

Port side bar area.

Heading aft, the self service still bears more than a passing resemblance to its original 'Food Fayre' setup.

Heading aft, the self service still bears more than a passing resemblance to its original 'Food Fayre' setup.

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The forward bulkheads in this area retained their large prints showing scenes of Winchester cathedral by the Sussex artist Judy Strafford until around 2010 but these have now been removed.

The servery area is very P&O however.

The servery area remains very P&O.

On the port side of the self service, looking forward.

On the port side of the self service, looking forward.

At the stern is the former restaurant with the pictured section originally a cocktail bar.

Heading back upstairs, this is the midships lobby on Deck 7; Club Class was just forward of this.

Heading back upstairs, this is the midships lobby on Deck 7; Club Class was just forward of this but has now been reconverted into an area of cabins.

Up another level are a pair of reclining seat lounges of which this is the forward one.

Up another level are a pair of reclining seat lounges of which this is the forward one.

The aft lounge is the former cinema and was not an original feature of the design, being added to all four ships very early in their careers.

The aft lounge is the former cinema and was not an original feature of the design, being added to all four ships very early in their careers.

Officers' mess.

Crew mess.

Down to Deck 5, this is the midships lobby. This deck housed the bulk of the passenger cabins as built (with the upper garage aft). These are all now given over to crew.

Down to Deck 5, this is the midships lobby. This deck housed the bulk of the passenger cabins as built (with the upper garage aft). These are all now given over to crew.

Back on deck to watch departure.

Back on deck to watch departure.

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A few hours later, we approach Antikythera.

A few hours later, we approach Antikythera, which has a year-round population of less than 50 people (rather more stay there during the summer).

The ship has to execute a tight turn in the tiny bay to present her stern ramp to the quayside.

The ship has to execute a tight 180 degree turn in the tiny bay to present her stern ramp to the quayside.

After a call of no more than 10 minutes we are away again.

After a call of no more than 10 minutes we are away again.

Things are a lot busier downstairs after the first port of call, but the majority of the ship's passengers have still to board at the next island call, Kythira, which is another two hours sailing away.

Things are a lot busier downstairs after the first port of call, but the majority of the ship's passengers have still to board at the next island call, Kythira.

Kythira.

Kythira.

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Up early the following morning finds us slowly approaching Piraeus - we are running late so must wait off port as the morning departures make their exit.

An early start the following morning finds us slowly approaching Piraeus - we are running late so must wait off port as the morning departures make their exit.

The Pelagitis sweeps past en-route to the ro-ro terminal.

The Pelagitis sweeps past en-route to the ro-ro terminal.

Highspeed 4 leaving Piraeus.

Highspeed 4 leaving Piraeus.

Blue Star Delos.

Blue Star Delos.

Jetferry 1.

Jetferry 1.

Spongebob Squarepants (left), Agios Georgios (background) and Flying Dolphin Athina.

Spongebob Squarepants (left), Agios Georgios (background) and Flying Dolphin Athina.

Speedrunner III.

Disembarking via the upper garage ramp.

Disembarking via the upper garage ramp.

The present day Deck 5 was originally D Deck before the mandatory renumbering of decks on passenger ships was enforced.

The present day Deck 5 was originally D Deck before the mandatory renumbering of decks on passenger ships was enforced.

Things seen – October 2012

  • We start once again in Newhaven and a pair of remarkable films from the SNCF archive showcasing the Villandry and Valencay:

    Chateaux sur mer
    and
    Car Ferry des années 70

  • Newhaven port has fallen some way in importance and in maintenance since those halcyon days of the 1960s and, as these urban explorers discovered, the grade 2 listed former marine workshops are in a sorry state.
  • Fifty years later, and just before the end of the final incarnation of SNCF’s ferry fleet as Seafrance, the crew of the Seafrance Rodin were captured at work.
  • Few Dover-Calais car ferries of the 1990s remain in that service but reminders of what was, at times, a slightly tawdry era were recorded by a Frenchman with a camcorder:
    Stena Invicta

    Stena Empereur

    Stena Challenger

    Seafrance Renoir

    Pride of Kent

    Pride of Dover

  • Pride of Burgundy

  • Not being in a position to mock others for their obscure interests, one can only salute Beno and his Youtube Elevator Tours.

    Whilst it is noted that the Pride of Burgundy has nice Lutz lifts, the reviewer is more impressed with the “really retro 80s Lutz lifts on the Pride of Dover”.

  • Beno’s website also has some images of abandoned and decaying Folkestone harbour.
  • Thoresen’s overlooked freighter, the Viking IV, was a product of the Trosvik shipyard in Norway and she had a sister ship, the Mandeville, which was owned by A F Klaveness & Co, who would later become one of the three founder companies of Royal Viking Line. The Mandeville had an interesting career, tramping across the North Sea and seeing initial service on charter to Grimaldi and operating to Libya.

    Both ships ended their days as livestock carriers, the Mandeville as the Murray Express prior to being scrapped in the late 1990s. The Viking IV met her doom in more unfortunate circumstances: as the Guernsey Express she was caught by Super Typhoon Dale as it swept through the Pacific in November 1996. The ship sank, taking nearly 1,600 helpless cattle down with her in what became one of the most controversial reference points in the debate about Australia’s live export trade.

  • Staying briefly with livestock carriers and it is interesting to see images of the Linda Clausen, which must be the only Cunard passenger ship ever so converted. Originally the Cunard Ambassador, the ship sufferred an on board fire when just two years old in 1974. Declared a total loss, the wreck was rebuilt and served for a further decade before a further fire in the engine room saw her head for scrap in 1984.
  • The fates of the three Wappens Von Hamburg continues to be played out. The trio were built as successive passenger ship generations in 1955, 1962 and 1965 for HADAG service to the small German archipelago of Helgoland. The youngest was the first and, so far, only one of the three to go for scrap. Here is a somewhat distressing video of the ship being demolished by a digger in Esbjerg.

    The first and second HADAG ships of this name survive but the future in each case remains uncertain. The 1955 version remains laid up in the United States, now under the name Aurora. Her owner’s website contains some more information, together with a plea for donations.

    The Wappen Von Hamburg of 1962, which briefly saw 1960s service with Stena as the second Stockholm-based “Jatten Finn”, soon returned to HADAG and remained with the company until the 1980s. She continued to serve Helgoland until 2000 but now finds herself named the Supper Clubcruise 2, laid up in Istanbul.

  • The third “Jatten Finn” was Stena’s own Poseidon and this picture of the little ship is worthy of reference, if only for the oustanding backdrop. To complete the story of Stena’s early escapades in Stockholm, the very first ship to be bestowed with Jatten Finn titling was another HADAG ship, the Helgoland which was chartered in 1964. She returned to Stena in 1972 as the Stena Finlandica having been chartered in between times to the Red Cross for use in Vietnam as a hospital ship – in which guise she was covered in the harrowing 1970 documentary Nur leichte Kämpfe im Raum Da Nang. The Helgoland/Stena Finlandica survives as the Galapagos Legend.
  • The same Esbjerg scrapyard which dealt with the 1965 Wappen Von Hamburg also scrapped five Wightlink ships in recent years, including the Our Lady Pamela.
  • The Vitsentzos Kornaros at Piraeus

    The Vitsentzos Kornaros at Piraeus

  • Time for a quick look inside the engine room of the Vitsentzos Kornaros (ex-Viking Viscount).
  • The ‘Viscount’ also features in this collection of recollections from the Townsend Thoresen era.
  • Michele Lulurgas has written a fine appreciation of his personal favourite, the Ionian Island (ex-Albireo, later Blue Island, Merdif 1) on the Adriatic & Aegean Ferries website. An intriguing image of the ship in her final guise can be found here.
  • Car deck difficulties for the Penelope A.
  • It is difficult to imagine any company which had a more interesting passenger ferry fleet than Sol Lines, the Cyprus Liners, who operated for less than a decade from the late 1970s. The company acquired second hand ships with all sorts of backgrounds, starting with the remarkable Sol Phryne, originally the 1948-built Taisetsu Maru and followed up with the Sol Express (Sealink’s Dover), Sol Olympia (the first Stena Britannica), Sol Christina (Trasmed’s Juan March) and Sol Olympia II (Trasmed’s Santa Cruz de Tenerife).

    The website of Solomonides Shipping has an excellent section which details the Sol Lines era. All ships are covered through the ‘History’ menu but particularly recommended are the pages covering the company’s general history, the Sol Phryne and the ill-fated Sol Olympia II which burned in dry dock in Elefsis in 1985 and brought the entire operation to an end.

  • The Sol Olympia’s time as the Wickersham is remembered in this blog post.
  • One ship which has survived a near-death experience is the 1962-built Ambriabella. For many years she could be found rotting in Elefsis as the Panic but a couple of years ago she was discovered by a group of Italians who sought to restore her as a luxury yacht. The ship was originally built for Italian north Adriatic coastal service before heading to Greece in the 1970s. Her new owners have launched a website and restoration of the ship is planned to take place in Trieste.
  • The sister to the Ambriabella is the Dionea and several years ago this ship was similarly converted to a yacht.
  • The despatch of the Scotia Prince for scrap has provoked a fair amount of remorse in North America. The ship’s final period of operation in Europe saw her working for Marmara Lines in their final season between Italy and Turkey; she is seen here passing through the Corinth Canal.
  • The first of seven interesting pages of archive of material relating to one of the Scotia Prince’s Portland-Yarmouth predecessors, the Prince of Fundy, can be found here (click ‘Next’ to proceed).
  • The Nindawayma laid up in Montreal, June 2006

    The Nindawayma laid up in Montreal, June 2006

  • The Nindawayma (ex-Manx Viking) was reported to be finally scrapped a couple of years ago. The ship lay unwanted in Montreal for seven years before being towed to Sault Ste. Marie where she lay for some time, although a certain amount of work was done to enable both stern and bow doors to be properly opened.

    Fotunately, one astute photographer managed to completely document the ship as she was just before leaving Montreal.

  • Some radio controlled ferry models:
    Polaris
    Towada Maru
    Norsea
  • Jumbo Ferry's Ritsurin II

    Jumbo Ferry's Ritsurin II

  • Japanese operators love nothing more than to promote their services through catchy jingles and accompanying videos. Here are a couple of the very best from over the years:
    Jumbo Ferry (as played on board at all port arrivals)
    Higashi Nihon Ferry Rurururu Rurururu Car Ferry…
    The original Sunflower
    More Sunflower – a classic
  • The ship depicted in the last video is the Sunflower 11 which went on to operate for the ill-starred Sulpico Lines as the Princess of the Orient for whom she sank in The Philippines in 1998 with the loss of 150 lives. Film of a dive on her wreck can be found here.
  • Lastly, rough weather affects ships all over the world and a few videos have caught the eye in recent months:
    The Hamnavoe is seen caught in heavy seas leaving Stromness.

    A difficult arrival at Mikura-jima for the Camellia-Maru.

    Rough weather for the Theofilos at Lemnos.

    The Corsica Express Three leaves a trail of destruction in Samothraki during her brief Greek sojourn.

    The Cruise Olympia in difficulties at Ancona.

    The Olympic Champion rolling into Heraklion harbour.

  • A few hints on using the conditions to your advantage can be taken from the skipper of this small passenger ferry on the Mekong River in Thailand.
  • Things seen – August 2009

    The Split Prvi at Supetar in July 2005.

    The Split Prvi at Supetar in July 2005.

  • Remember the Split Prvi? She was the eleventh Superflex ship, the Supeflex Kilo, and after a typically intermittant North European career was finally brought to Southern Europe by SEM in a brave but troubled and ultimately futile attempt to provide a rival cut-price service between Split and Supetar to that of the state operator Jadrolinija. She was sold to Kazakhstani owners for conversion into a floating workshop in 2008 and renamed the Ersai 4, joining the Ersai 3 (ex-Vikingland).

    An image of the ship undergoing rebuild earlier this year in Italy can be seen here. Any further details of either of the Ersai ships’ current whereabouts or progress on the work are welcome!

  • An interesting series of pictures of the Jadrolinija fleet from the past couple of years by Hans de Graaf can be seen here, 2009 pictures confirming that the former Red Funnel pair Nehaj (ex-Cowes Castle) and Lovrjenac (ex-Norris Casle) remain laid up at Cres and Mali Losinj respectively. There are also recent images of the Marko Polo at the new Rijeka ferry terminal. On the subject of the latter, with admirable optimism (if that is the right word), an artist’s impression shows both the new terminal and berths together with an HSS alongside at the old ferry berth. What a story that would be.

  • The two unstretched ‘Super Vikings’ are having contrasting Summers in Greece. Caught up in the troubles of her owners SAOS, the Samothraki (ex-Viking Voyager/Pride of Cherbourg) is laid up in Alexandroupolis – image here.

    Meanwhile the Vitsentzos Kornaros (ex-Viking Viscount/Pride of Winchester) has returned Rethymno on Crete to mainstream ferry service. On a weekly schedule which takes passengers to some delightful smaller towns and islands, the ship calls at the Cretan port on Saturdays and Sundays, restoring a direct link to Piraeus. One of the islands she calls at is Antikythira (year round population 45) and a striking image of the ship there can be found here. The restoration of conventional Piraeus-Rethymno operation by LANE Lines was the cause of much debate – a local press report stated that, if the link continues, “the company is considering seriously the possibility of perhaps changing to another modern ship, aged about 10 years, speed over 20 knots, modern hotel amenities and sailing between Rethymno and Piraeus three times a week.”

  • Lastly Christopher over at the rather wonderful Sjöfartsbloggen has posted a voyage report on the Stena Nautica (ex-Niels Klim), A fantastic trip with the “LegobÃ¥ten” to GrenÃ¥ which includes some shots on board the ship alongside similar ones on her (slightly) less mutilated sister, the Color Viking (ex-Stena Invicta/Peder Paars). (Google translate version here).

    Reference is made to the ship’s mast being ‘snipped’ to ensure clearance beneath the Älvsborg Bridge when she visited Gothenburg for urgent repairs following her near-sinking in 2004, which calls to mind the legend that Stena bought the sister ships only to discover they could not fit under the bridge which is upriver of the terminals at their home port. This is one company which is not averse to ship surgery however, so it seems unlikely that this is the real reason neither have ever seen operation out of Gothenburg, but it remains a great story of Stena’s fallibility and certainly precluded the ships from operating there as cover for the permanent vessels.

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