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.
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:
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.