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The Week in Review

Nick the Greek

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Dear non-Greek speaking members and friends,


Ever since the creation of this website, our aim has been to offer an international perspective and look beyond the Greek ferry scene and its small eco-system, for the benefit of both Greek and non-Greek enthusiasts. To that end and for several years now, we have been producing our Hellas Roundup which is with you at regular intervals. Knowing how some of you go to great lengths trying to decipher and translate through google the admittedly difficult Greek language and the colloquialisms we use, we thought we'd make it easier for you and go one step further.


So we decided to experiment by producing a kind of recap of the ferry news of the week, in English, which follows in the messages below. The idea is not only to offer developments in bullet points, social-media style, but to enrich them with our commentary, behind the scenes hearsay and personal point of view which will hopefully help you get to grips with and understand better the small Asterix's village which is the Greek ferry scene.


As ever, we welcome your comments, suggestions and questions in this depository. Don't forget to browse through our gallery, the vast majority is original content and can be enjoyed without annoying watermarks.


For historical purposes and for you to judge us on what comes out to be right or wrong, here is the archive of this weekly commentary.


Edited by Nick the Greek
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  • 11 months later...

Saturday, November 12th, 2022


Let's go for another trip report today, before my summer travels get old. This time it Grimaldi Lines' Corfu, sailing from Cagliari to Napoli.


But in this case it is also interesting to see the buildup tothe trip. So we start the description at 1430 hours in Olbia, which is about 3 hours away from Cagliari, from where the Corfu departs at 1900 for Napoli on a Thursday night. It is the last day of the previous June. We're driving with no rush, aiming at arriving in Cagliari 1.5 hours before departure. About an hour away from Cagliari, suddenly the motorway freezes, traffic stops, people out of their cars, fire brigade, etc. So someone either didn't maintain their car properly, or had serious enemies:D, resulting in a car being torched on the highway. As a result we lost quite a bit of time there, so we needed to make a strong push and step on it, in order to catch the ship. We did well, so around 1820 we arrive at boarding gate, happy ending. Or so we thought.


Our time comes to check in, the employee sees our reservations, there is a problem. Our car number plate is different from the one shown on the reservation. Quite so, because when we booked the tickets we didn't know what car we were going to have with us. He doesn't accept this excuse at all, he sends us back to the ticket office to change the reservation. Here I must say that the car did not change ticket category, i.e. we had not booked a Smart and we showed up with a Porsche Cayenne. On this particular trip we did 4 sea passages in total and were not checked for a license plate on any of the previous crossings, not even in the past as many times as I have traveled with Grimaldi itself, I have not seen such a thing being checked. Anyway by the letter of the law he is right, so muttering unpleasant things between my teeth:rolleyes:, we turn around and look for the ticket office. With departure time quickly approaching we had to play the Dukes of Hazard, so after dozens of violations of the road traffic code and 2 entrances in a one-way street in the opposite direction, we find the ticket officee which is literally 150 meters from boarding gate. But is only accessible through another gate of the port. Instead of opening a passage for people to be able to walk to the ticket office, one has to make a tour of Cagliari by car to get there.


Stormed into the ticket office, the time is already 1840, and I'm thinking that by the timw they get into the online system to change the details of the license plate, to print it again etc, we'll miss the departure. I tell the employee what I want, she asks me to spell out the correct license plate. And to my amazement she takes a Bic pen, notes the correct lisence plate on the printed reservation, puts a stamp and tells me "ready Sir" :D. All this hassle so that they could insert a hand scribble on the reservation. Whatever, we scramble for the boarding gate. We get there, we are the last in a queue of 2-3 cars. A girl is coming to check us out this time. She doesn't even bother to look at the "renewed" reservation, she only looks at our passports, so basically all this back and forth was for nothing. And here comes the other laugh. Two passengers in the car, one with a shaved head, the other with thick hair. She looks at the passport of the guy with hair, takes a peak inside the car, and gives the passport to the man with the shaved head, telling him it's his passport. They must have heard us laughing all the way to Piraeus. The lady was talented and perceptive, she deserves a career with the forensic department of the Police:D. So all in all, boarding at 1850 for the upper garage which was 2/3 full with cars. Looking at the other outside spaces, the ship has an observation deck and side corridors.


So we pop into the lounges of the ship minutes before departure. Weird picture, crew in disarray, running around like headless chickens. Passengers with luggage standing in the aisles, children crying, passengers shouting and protesting. The whole scene reminded me of colonial era movies, where a liner is tied up in the port of Bombay and dozens of stevedores and servants are carrying suitcases, loading goods, and generally there is a chaotic situation. What had happened? The ship had sailed to Cagliari in the morning of the same day at 1000, so she had spent the whole day alongside. Well, the crew hadn't cleaned cabins, changed sheets etc during the entire day, this was done at the same time as departure. With the consequence that passengers are obviously embarking and there are no cabins ready for them. A blatantly unacceptable situation, I have never seen this before in my ferry travels. Why this happened, I don't know. With my suspicious mind, I assume that because we are in Sardinia and there's beaches all around, the crew had spent the day in one of them. That's pure speculation on my part of course. Whatever the case may be though, the scenes that we saw when boarding the ship were a disgrace.


The ship's aft part of the accommodation block has more spaces compared to other Visentini, being one of those where the upper garage fits cars and not trucks. This includes the Reception, notice the complaint box in the photo, it's full of papers that apparently none of the crew have been bothered to collect:D. There is also a blind area with some chairs and a vending machine. Amidships one can see the main lounge with the only bar, the photo is from the next morning. If you observe well, you will see how dirty the place is from the remains of breakfast, no crew member was cleaning the area and at the same time the passengers themselves were not bothering to throw their litter inside the bins. I remember that the table where we sat was littered with rubbish, a very ugly sight. There is also a small shop, as well as another lounge that closes late in the evening.


At the forward part of the accomodation block we have the a la carte restaurant on the left and the self service on the right, notice exactly the same seats in both of them, as happens with the seats in the rest of the ship. By the time we went to sit down for dinner, the self service was completely full so a la carte was the only option. The food was pretty decent both in terms of quality and quantity, of course along with some Ichnusa beers it cost about EUR 30 per person if I remember correctly. Here too there was fun to be had. One could only pay with a credit card by going to the self service cashier. I went there too, by the way the entire crew was speaking between them the Neapolitan dialect which is a very distant cousin to mainstream Italian. To the point where I wondered if they would understand me. I asked to pay by card, turns out there is only one crew member who knows how to handle these requests:P but he had gone inside the kitchen. The other crew members started then shouting his name and making an unbelievable amount of noise, it felt as if one was in an open air market where sellers are competing in who's gonna shout louder and sell his products.


Time for bed though, we take the stairs to the cabin which takes us out into the corridor with the worst quality laminate I have ever seen. When we made the reservation if my memory serves me correctly, the system did not give us the option of a 2-bed cabin, maybe because they don't want to leave beds unused. So not wanting to risk the possibility of sharing our sleep with two other strangers, we made the investment in a lux cabin, I think the ship has two of these in total. And as far as I remember it wasn't at a terrible extra cost. Don't imagine something luxurious, in terms of equipment and finishing it reminded me of a cheap Chinese bulk carrier. Luckily these cabins are not sold very often on that ship so it was ready for use when we embarked, we didn't have to wait like the rest of the passengers. Buying this particular cabin also offers some awesome benefits:rolleyes:, free croissant or small sweet from the bar during breakfast.


This trip took place the night after our Genova - Olbia trip on the Rhapsody, so comparisons were inevitable. Of course we did not expect anything similar to Rhapsody, the choice of the Corfu on this trip was clearly made because it suited our travel schedule. Having the experience of traveling on the Corfu, I can unequivocally say that there is absolutely no reason to choose this particular ship for your trip, if you have another choice. As far as the interior and spaces are concerned, it is as Spartan as possible. And fair, decoration and materials is in the eye of the beholder and a judgement based on someone's aesthetics. Laminate may remind me of dodgy karaoke bars in the Philippines in terms of decor quality, but I can understand someone who might consider it Buckingham Palace level. What does not fall into the realm of personal aesthetics is the whole image of the ship, crew and overall travel experience, on and off the ship. This company is absolutely incapable of inspiring any feeling of trust and respect in you. On the contrary, especially observing the crew and the modus operandi on and off the ship, you feel that everything is left to their own devices and that as a passenger you're treated slightly better than cattle. I hope that in the coming years there will be a quality alternative to the various lines they operate in, so that no one is forced to travel with Grimaldi Lines.


Best wishes,

Nikos, Piraeus

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