The Agios Nektarias Aeginas was built in Elefsis in 1999, and initially served Volos routings as the Panagia Skiathou before soon taking her current name and being placed into service out of Piraeus on the short but already well-served route to Aegina. She was acquired by ANES Lines in 1998, retaining her name and sphere of operation. ANES are one of the traditional, locally-based co-operative Greek ferry operators, whose operations otherwise focus on their home community, in this case the small Dodecanese island of Symi.
So far, so good; the ship became a familiar sight in the Great Harbour of Piraeus, but never really stood out amongst the dozens of other ships in port. Then, in the December 2009 back page ‘Ferry Tail’ in Cruise & Ferry Info, editor Klas Brogren revealed that the ship was interesting for a most unusual reason: her dummy funnel did not date from 1999 like the rest of the ship but, in fact, had been ‘recycled’ from the 1964-built Apollo of Viking Line, that company’s first purpose-built ship.
The Apollo was sold to Canadian owners in 1967 as the Manic, before heading to Greece in 1978, where she took the names Ainos, Neraida II, Ydra and, finally, Agios Nektarios, latterly under the Ventouris Ferries banner. Ventouris collapsed in 1996 whereupon she was sold but the ship seemingly never re-entered service and was laid up for years, latterly in Keratsini adjacent to the equally abandoned Theseus (ex-Dundalk, St Cybi). She finally sank in a storm in late 2003, the wreck being raised a couple of years later.
However… when the ship was rebuilt in 1993 her dummy funnel, which had originally contained the captain’s cabin, was removed. It appears to have been put to one side before being installed on the new Panagia Skiathou when she was completed in 1999. That ship later, perhaps coincidentally, also inherited the Agios Nektarias name.
A trip to Aegina is a most pleasant way to spend a day and, in November last year, having made an earlier outbound crossing on Nova Ferries’ soon to be sold Phedra, we boarded the Agios Nektarias Aeginas to see what all the fuss was about.
Looking around the rest of the ship, the Agios Nektarias Aeginas really does seem to have been made up of spare parts: her liferaft davits, for instance, have builder’s plates dating from 1987 (supplied by Welin Lambie Ltd in the West Midlands). Meanwhile in the saloons, some of the chairs certainly date back to before 1999 and their Swedish modern look prompts idle speculation that perhaps these too had come over from the old Apollo.