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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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  • 6 months later...

The heat is on, literally and figuratively, in the Greek ferry sector and it never gets boring. Let's see what has transpired over the last couple of weeks:


- Seajets is at the forefront of the news, unfortunately for them for the wrong reasons. While traffic figures are perhaps encouraging what is not encouraging is the general chaotic impression you get about their services. In many routes nobody knows which ship will be performing even tomorrow's sailing. Already we're in the middle of June and we have had ships like the Sifnos Jet with persistent engine issues. She was subbed by the Supercat Jet which is also limping, as is the Caldera Vista. The Aqua Blue suffered a blackout in the middle of the Aegean, while nobody understands why the Superrunner Jet is still out of action. This is painting a rather grim picture for their services and image, I would say the WC Jet is probably the one that flies the flag high, not only in terms of reliability but perhaps in terms of profitability as well.


All their fast craft but in particular the Champion Jet 2 are also attracting very negative comments about the practices they follow during embarkation and disembarkation. In order for them not to lose time in ports, extend the voyage time and then face additional fuel consumption and perhaps even a double crew on board, this is what they do: in every port, the cars are loaded first. As soon as the cars are in, the passengers are allowed in through the main garage door. The actual entry to the passenger areas and the control of the tickets is performed usually at the bow end of the garage where appropriate entrances exist. What this accomplishes is that instead of checking tickets for 400 passengers at the aft passenger entrances, all 400 passengers embark in 1-2 minutes and you can sort them out while the ship has let her lines go and is sailing. Clever yes, not safe at all though. Because when the fast ferry starts rolling and pitching and with zero ventilation in the garage, the atmosphere gets really stuffy and people get seasick very easily, something that can lead to injuries. Let alone that then in these conditions they have to climb on flights of stairs in order to reach the passenger areas.


Conversely, for disembarkation passengers and drivers are called upon to descend to the garage at least 10 minutes before the actual arrival of the ship. Again the same effect and unsafe practice, aimed at the ferry not wasting one minute more alongside. I mean you cannot call them passengers one might argue, you call them a herd because this is how Seajets treats them. Whichever way you look at it, it's a blatantly unsafe practice. Of course the glorious Hellenic Coast Guard turn their heads the other way, as always. It's amazingly scandalous, the amount of direct or indirect support Seajets gets from every single government over the last 15 years. Just unbelievable. To add insult to injury, one of the presenters of the Greek version of Masterchef and a very popular celebrity in Greece, travelled on the Superstar and bought a cabin for his trip. The state of the cabin turned out not to be exactly stellar, something which prompted bad publicity in social media from the presenter and an avalanche of reproductions of these shameful images on the SuperStar.


- The horrible practices are not a monopoly of Seajets of course. During at least the last week or so, when the roro Kapetan Christos is calling Mykonos, it is a "joy" to watch the local webcam. For reasons unknown to me, the ship is not enjoying any linesmen service from Mykonos port, the photos speak for themselves. This results in the elderly ship approaching the dock very cautiously and many times using her stern ramp as a break in order to prevent the aft part of her hull to hit the dock. Then the sailors jump out carrying the ship's lines in their own hands and tie her up. Again here safety goes out of the window. And again the local Coast Guard are picking their nose and chewing the result. You cannot have a ship berth like this. Either you prohibit them from berthing in Mykonos until the issue is resolved, or you force the linesmen to handle the ship.


- On more positive developments, Attica/HSW have taken delivery of the Aero Highspeed 1 and 2 so I believe we'll see them both in action during this summer, even if only in August. Clearly the most technologically advanced and environmentally friendly ships in the Greek fleet, we shall see what their reliability and performance is very shortly. It would have been a massive blow if in the end Attica had not taken delivery of these ships, in an industry which is crying for fleet renewal.


- Check out a couple of old friends, featuring in some old photos. Here is the Vergina and here is the Santorini. Bonus coverage is the Ella that finally departed for the voyage of no return.


- There's also another category of ferries right now in Greece, ferries that were supposed to be sailing but aren't. The Smyrna di Levante is one of these, she ought to have been sailing between Thessaloniki and Smyrna already since last April, if one were to believe their unofficial press officer. So you do call this a blunder as far as the time horizon is concerned. Fair enough though, the ship will sail in this route  according to all accounts. Apparently the ferry is being worked upon in 2 shifts per day in order to commence sailings the soonest possible, it is only a matter of time. And then I think we will have plenty to talk about. There is even a rumour going around that Levante might charter in the Kriti II as either a replacement or a partner to the Smyrna di Levante.


- Another case like this is the Nissos Aegina who finally got converted into some kind of craft, however she cannot secure the permission to sail to Aegina island, as originally intended. The how and why is a cloudy issue, the resume is she's laid up and her only chance at seeing action is what is rumoured to be a charter out to an operator in the Ionian Sea. Mind you, chartering of landing craft type ferries in Greece, ain't that common so not sure what is the degree of truth in this. 


- The Daleela is in her first voyage from Limassol to Piraeus as I'm writing these lines, I never thought I'd see the day. There's an inauguration ceremony in the cards when she calls Piraeus, very interested to see whether the tax payer's money were a complete or partial waste. We should be subsidizing energy consumption and not our shipowner friends.


- Work is progressing on the Andros Queen, check out the latest.


- Same story for the Santa Irini, former Almudaina Dos. She is being drydocked in Piraeus these days. I think that her new owners will do the absolute minimum they have to in order to get the ship sailing as soon as possible and then we'll see if during the winter they perform any extra refit, especially in what concerns her interior.


- Contrary to what has been rumoured over the last year or so, the Kriti II is back in action following a refit and renewal of her certificates, in her usual Piraeus - Heraklion route.


- Check out Visentini's ML Freyja during one of her recent calls in Rotterdam.


- Last but not least, the Olympus is being towed from repair berth to repair berth in the vicinity of Piraeus with no clear sign as to when she will be activated. On paper she is due to take over from the Prevelis on July the 11th, according to the local press though it is still not possible to place actual bookings in the system for these dates. And the local communities who are looking forward to a good tourist season, are very stressed and suspicious about this. Rumour on the street is that the owners of the Olympus are strapped of cash and have resorted to getting a bank loan for working capital to get the ship started, using the subsidy award as collateral. My friends in the banking sector are telling me that at least in Greece accepting the subsidy as a collateral is a highly debatable practice. But it goes a long way to tell you the type of State support these chaps appear to be enjoying. There are two things for sure: one is that the Olympus saga will have many more saucy episodes and two that dumping the Prevelis and ANEK over a company that nearly went bust 3 months ago, ought to have already attracted the attention of law enforcement. In normal countries that is, and not in the European version of Colombia.


Take care,

Nikos, Piraeus.

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