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The Week in Review


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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.

 

Edited by Nick the Greek
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Saturday, December 19th, 2020

 

- It appears as if the charter of the Ariadne to Tirrenia has come to an end and the ship will return to Greece. I guess Onorato can find better use for the cash he's been splashing to Attica for the ship. So the question then becomes what will happen to the ship and how Attica will deploy her in the coming months and summer. While there's a number of scenarios and a domino effect which may follow, there's also a rumour that the Ariadne might end up yet again in Italy, only for the account of a different charterer. Obviously GNV springs to mind as the first option, then again you never know.

 

- The new Knossos Palace, former Cruise Bonaria/Olympia Palace is due to sail from Napoli to Greece within the next few days. The entering into service of the ship will conclude Grimaldi's deployment aiming at increased freight capacity in the Piraeus - Heraklion route. The former Knossos Palace to be renamed Cruise Bonaria appears in the Grimaldi lineup between Civitavecchia and Olbia for summer 2021. It remains to be seen whether she will remain a single ship in that role or if there will be a pair of ferries in that route.

 

- The Iris I (former Goheung Iris, IMO 9207651) is a new addition to the high speed Greek fleet. She arrived earlier in the week carried aboard a heavy lift carrier and was floated off in Eleusis Bay while now she is at a shipyard in the Salamina island area. The owner associated with the ship is called Yalozoglou and he is allegedly also the beneficial owner of fast ferry Cat I(former Alkioni). Allegedly this owner is related to Seajets' Marios Iliopoulos. The strange thing here is that none of the 2 ferries has applied for a domestic ferry route so the intentions of their owner are still a mystery.

 

- Check out Arkoumanis' ferry Golden Bridge in Brindisi. In a surprise move this year, her owners decided not to withdraw her in September but maintain a winter presence in the Brindisi - Igoumenitsa route in direct competition with Grimaldi Lines' Corfu and Florencia. Allegedly the ship is working profitably and has attracted considerable traffic. This is a welcome change for me, at last and after so many years we see some expansion move from a Greek company in the Adriatic at the same time when ANEK and Superfast appear to be waiving the white flag to Grimaldi also in this market.

 

- On the same tone, it appears as if 3 of the massive hybrid roros that Grimaldi has under construction at Jinling shipyard, are destined for the Adriatic sea. One of them will be sailing from Turkey and another 2 who will be named Eco Patrasso and Eco Venezia, will be for exclusive Adriatic service. The fact that 500-trailer behemoths will be sailing in the area shows the confidence of Grimaldi in the Adriatic trades and his intentions not only to compete with DFDS in the Italy - Turkey trades but to dominate them. As for the Greek players? All these years they have been communicating that this particular market is rather dead and not justifying any investment. Well, judging by the moves of Grimaldi, dead is their business sense and alive is their complete lack of vision and strategy. It will not be long before the market washes them ashore and we'll be talking in past tense about them.

 

- Loads of discussion around the intended revival of the passenger element in the Greece - Cyprus ferry connection. The 2 governments have decided to subsidise the said connection and the Cypriot side has been heavily promoting and talking about it. As a result of this, Salamis Lines with either the Akritas or the Alexo are rumoured to be heavy favourites. At the same time there's probably a number of companies who might be interested bearing in mind the subsidy. My 2 cents over this is that there's no need whatsoever for a passenger element in this route and that this is just a waste of money. But anyway, let's see who comes out on top in the end.

 

- The recently acquired Hermes is due to take up service between Corfu and Igoumenitsa some time after the New Year. She is now spotting a red hull, catch a glimpse of her over here.

 

- Vintage roro Pelagitis, only one of 2 survivors of a 15-strong class of ships is due to go in winter lay up on January the first, with a view to her 5-year Class survey which is due. After repeated engine problems she is being handled with extreme care and we have to see what this survey might mean for her future. She will be replaced for this period of time by her fleetmate Armenistis(ex- CTMA Vacancier).

 

- Quite a bit of fuss last week around Levante Ferries and the working hours of her crew. In a surprise inspection on board the Mare di Levante, the Greek branch of the ITF claims to have discovered severe breaches of the legislation. Levante Ferries responded and the jury is still out about who's wrong and who's right. Working hours is indeed a serious problem in the Greek ferry industry over many decades and owners have been known to "conveniently misjudge" the timetables of their ferries so as not to trigger any legal obligation for double crews etc. What it comes down to for me, is the unwillingness of the Coast Guard to enforce the law and the fragmented reactions of the Unions.

 

- A blast from the past in the form of a nostalgic view of the former Spero/Sappho and her starboard bridge wing.

 

- The Magellan, freshly acquired by Seajets appears to have found her first employment. The ship crossed the Suez Canal yesterday and is allegedly headed to Oman where she will take up a floating accommodation role. Rather than laying ships up and waiting for the market to rebound, this employment will probably inject some needed cash to the company. Despite what some people may think/hope, this move of buying several cruise ships is destined to be an asset-play only move. And chances are that Seajets/Iliopoulos are frontmen in this business venture, there's got to be some bigger player backing this up.

 

- Check out a view of the Prevelis in Santorini, keen observers will have noticed the expansion of the port. An expansion which is creating a lot of discussions in terms of how effective it is in terms of really protecting the ferries and of course on the front of the lack of corresponding investment on the appalling road which leads to the port. Some things never change in Greece.

 

- Now in some international commentary, with the Spanish press indicating that Armas has put Trasmediterranea up for sale. Armas is allegeldy in heavy debt and in desperate need of cash. Of course Trasmediterranea with some good fleet units and enjoying subsidies in some routes, is an especially sexy looking bride. The news is that apart from Balearia and Grupo Boluda who are the Spanish interested parties, there are 2 unnamed Italian parties interested as well. I consider it a certainty that Grimaldi Lines is one of these 2 parties, I let you imagine the repercussions for the entire Mediterranean if they make a winning bid. At the same time, if the second Italian company which is interested is GNV, in my mind it's a pretty important sign as to the intentions of Aponte in the ferry sector. And if there's one opponent which is stronger than Grimaldi, it's the Geneva based giant. Personal opinion here is that Trasmediterranea will remain in Spanish hands, patriotic capitalism will prevent the government from selling outside Spain. In any case, for sure a hot topic to watch.

 

- Italian sources name the Mobile Express (IMO 9687306) as the roro that Grupo Grendi is chartering in view of their fleet and network expansion. The ship was headed to the Med and is now at anchor off Cadiz. Grupo Grendi have very recently received a concession to operate in and out of Golfo Aranci in Sardinia so there's interesting developments here. If it's not the Mobil Express, there's bound to be another roro in the fleet sometime soon.

 

- The former Fascination/Carnival Fascination has now been renamed Century Harmony and has been sold to unidentified Asian interests, as Tradewinds reported. The aim is to turn her into floating accommodation although it's not known at the moment if this means a hotel open to the public or accommodation for workers in some construction project.

 

- Another piece of international ferry news is that Arab Bridge Maritime of Jordan, appears to have bought the former Grand Peace and now Daleela (IMO 9001306). The ship is underway to Jordan, flies the Cyprus flag and is currently en route to Colombo, Sri Lanka for bunkers. This is a very interesting ferry of a large scale which demonstrates the confidence of the company in the intra-Red Sea trades.

Edited by Nick the Greek
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Friday, December 25th, 2020

 

Let me start by wishing a very Merry Christmas to everyone! As the season would have it, it's been pretty slow moving but still let's bring you up to date with some of the talk of the town:

 

- The newly renamed Knossos Palace(former Cruise Bonaria) is now back in Greek waters and since Christmas eve she is at the Perama repair area. She will resume service to Heraklion sometime in the new year . I guess the discussion is now shifting to the potential impact of the Finnlines ro-pax newbuildings to the Grimaldi-operated fleet and what will be the cascade effect. One of our members is -not without information and foundation- speculating that we might even see the Cruise Europa/Olympia in Crete. A bit far away still of course but Grimaldi is not a stagnant company and plenty more developments will surely come in the meantime.

 

- A lot of discussion going on about the fate of the Greece - Cyprus subsidised route which is now officially in a tender process which completes at the end of January. The contract is for 3+1+1+1 years duration and prescribes an intermediate call to a Greek island, without the possibility of carrying passengers and freight to and from this Greek island and Piraeus. The latter port and Limassol are the confirmed ports of call for this route, the maximum annual value of the subsidy is in the region of 5 million EUR. Speculation obviously about the potential candidates, the tender prescribes that should the duration of the voyage is above 16 hours, the ship ought to have a minimum of 200 passengers and 140 berths capacity. Obviously the roros of Salamis(Alexo and Akritas) cannot fit this bill, therefore there is speculation that Attica might be interested, as well as Levante using the Smyrna, on which by the way works have resumed. At the same time the process is driven by the Cypriot government so why would they not favour a Cypriot owner? This is definitely one to watch. 

 

- Newly acquired by Seajets cruise vessel Columbus, has moved from Piraeus anchorage to Elefsis anchorage in order to be laid-up cold. She will await for a positive turn to the fortunes of the cruise industry which will prompt a buyer to pay up, in comparison to her purchase price.

 

- The roro Talos (former Roro Trader, Spheroid, Starmark) has probably fallen victim of the pandemic and due to lack of traffic she probably won't be seen back in action during the winter. However her owners are for sure counting on her for the summer season. By the way, check out some impressive photos of her during some bad weather patch, last summer.

 

- At the same time the Ekaterini P is a ferry that was re-engined during the summer but has not seen any action despite having done in the region of 8 sea trial runs since the summer. Speculation is going on that receiving new engines is not the last of the conversions she will receive, we might see her again on drydock being converted to a pitch system.

 

- For those of you who love Greek landing craft type ferries, check out the vintage Tatiana Agapitou

 

- The Empress of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas have destocked at the port of Souda, Chania and now are drifting again with their change of ownership going full speed ahead.

 

- See the progress of the conversion of the Nissos Chryssi(former Rungholt)

 

- Check out the newly acquired HSC Artemis in Malta from one of our members.

 

- The charter of the AF Marina to GNV has terminated and the ship is back to Durres already a week ago.

 

- What you can also spot in Durres roads, is the Tenerife Car. She is the former Lineas Suardiaz roro/car carrier which appears to be the new bareboat charter of Shega Trans, the Albanian transport outfit which operates the Ravenna - Durres route. Once the conditions allow it, she is due to be the ship which will resume this service following the scrapping of the Ana.

 

- Here you can find a trip report for the Bahama Mama of Balearia and here plenty of interior photos. Apologies but for the trip report you need to use google, impossible for me to translate the whole thing.

Edited by Nick the Greek
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Thursday, December 31st, 2021

 

A short an uneventful week was this last one, so with the last update for 2020 allow me to wish everyone a super Happy New Year!

 

- The biggest discussion over the last 9 months in ferry shipping Greece, has been the almost non-stop subsidy regime to the ferry fleet, a regime which prompted Seajets to offer winter sailings on some of their highspeed craft. Why wouldn't they, they're making money! The debate is obvious: How can a country which embraces the capitalist economy and a "free' market, end up rendering her ferry owners de facto state owned, without at the same time having any say in the way they do things and the schedules/sailings they offer. 

 

Obviously, for an island nation like Greece and especially bearing in mind the fact that the easterly neighbours are not exactly friendly the last few years, it is vital to maintain links with the islands. Add the pandemic on, it becomes an absolute necessity. At the same time from the looks of it, the money is almost free-flowing and seems to be over and above the amount of money the ferry owners would have been making on a normal year. So there are voices saying the whole thing has been completely blown out of proportion. I don't have money data at my disposal. My 2 cents here though, is that from the moment you're subsidising everything, you might as well have a say on what the ferry owners are doing in terms of schedules and deployment, so as to ensure the best possible service to the islands and their inhabitants.

 

- The former Empress of the Seas, now just 'Empress' sailed from Souda Bay to India. Her former fleetmate Majesty of the Seas, is now also renamed to Majesty but still remains in Souda Bay. Won't be long before she sails though.

 

- Check out the Asterion II and how worn out she looks externally.

 

- The Eurocargo Istanbul has been moved to a shipyard in Tuzla, Turkey. Interesting to see what comes out of this move. At the same time, her Visentini-built fleetmates Eurocargo Salerno and Eurocargo Valencia have integrated into the Grimaldi Lines car carrier service in the Eastern Mediterranean. The arrival of the Eco Valencia is already causing a cascade effect.

 

- Have a look at a recent photograph of Arkoumanis' Galaxy in Brindisi.

Edited by Nick the Greek
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Posted (edited)

Saturday, January 9th, 2021

 

First update for 2021, Happy New Year everybody.

 

- The current crop of subsidies has ended on 31.12 and we have a further round of reduced sailings to the islands. The Chios-Mytilene route is left with one ship while on certain days of the week the Syros-Tinos-Mykonos route is merged with the Paros - Naxos - Santorini route, resulting in the ship sailing at 18knots and arriving back in Piraeus at 0500 in the morning. The government is preparing the legal framework for a new round of subsidies to cover the next few months and obviously the ferry owners have extended their hands to receive any money they can get their hands on. Obviously as an island nation, Greece needs to keep the islands supplied and connected to the mainland. At the same time the argument is that the subsidies which are now given, are not calculated according to any objective benchmark such as traffic during the corresponding period of previous years: instead the impression is that the government is splashing the cash out at will and is gifting out money, to a greater extend than they ought to. Then again, where is the news in this?

 

- The "new" Knossos Palace has commenced sailings for Grimaldi Minoan, the Festos Palace now taking some time off. See her in our gallery.

 

- The bid process for the Cyprus - Greece subsidised service is heating up. The companies rumoured to be interested are Grimaldi, Attica, Salamis Lines and Seajets. Very interesting story.

 

- Vintage NEL Lines and Saos Ferries from one of our members

 

- Rumours from the Arkoumanis camp are suggesting that the Prince will be moved to Piraeus in order to be prepared either for service in the Italy - Albania route, replacing the Galaxy, or for a final voyage to the breakers.

 

- Have a look at an Olympus video in our youtube channel

 

- In a personal post on Facebook, the owner of Saos Ferries, Fotis Manousis has confirmed the placement of an order at a Dutch yard for a 108-metre car/passenger ferry for service in Greece. This was rumoured for a long time but now it appears as if there is truth in it. The name of the new ship will be "Melio"

 

- The Cat I is now on drydock in Salamis island, there seems to be serious preparation going on, no indication though about where she might end up.

 

- Check out a postcard of the Saturnus from our collection

 

- The name of the Visentini ship under construction GNV, is rumoured to be "GNV Bridge"

 

- The latest victim of the pandemic from the Carnival fleet is the Costa Victoria, she is to be scrapped under the name St Victoria. She was only 25 years old.

Edited by Nick the Greek
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Friday, January 15th, 2021

 

- The 2nd week of 2021 is behind us and Greek ferry companies are doing what they do best over the last decade or so: beg, steal or borrow for subsidies. While the governmental bureaucracy is delaying the latest wave of subsidies due to the pandemic, they are drastically cutting down on sailings and at the same time expressing their displeasure around the whole process, even arguing that the subsidies are not enough to cover their costs. I don't know what the government has to say about this, little sympathy do they receive though from the enthusiasts and the general public who is occupied with survival themselves.

 

- Increasing is the curiosity about which company will end up getting the subsidy for the Greece - Cyprus link. Italian media report that there are other Italian operators interested, apart from Grimaldi. Very interesting one to watch, the bidding deadline is approaching fast.

 

- There was a very interesting interview in the Italian press by Emmanuele Grimaldi. In bullet points, he considers the port sector as very important for the group and we should be expecting developments there. Special mention was made to the investment the Group has done to their Antwerp terminal which he characterised as the biggest investment in Europe in the port sector. Answering a question about how the gigantic roros will be filled up, he mentioned that 50% of the trade between Spain and Italy is done by sea, his ambition is to get his hands on the other 50%. One thing is for sure, the Grimaldi Group is the biggest newsmaker in Europe and personally I do not think he will stop at nothing else than complete European domination.

 

- Arkoumanis' Golden Bridge suffered an unfortunate encounter with the dock at Igoumenitsa and has remained out of service the last couple of days. She's not been moved to a yard which leads me to believe this is something they can repair on the spot within a reasonable time frame.

 

- The name of the newbuilding TT Line has ordered at Jinling Shipyard, appears to be Nils Holgersson, not surprisingly. 

 

- Today's news confirm that GNV is extending their Napoli - Palermo service to Malta, most probably once a week. The service will be for freight only and will start with the chartered AF Marina.

 

- Former Tirrenia roro Massimo Mura, now in Catania, is now back with her owners Cobelfret following the termination of her Tirrenia charter. The ship has now been renamed Cadena 3 and is flying the Maltese flag, interesting to see where she ends up. It's unclear yet whether this renaming has to do with a fresh time charter or a sale.

 

- The Carnival Group, fresh from announcing a 10 billion dollar loss for cal 2020, is rumoured to have another 4 ships on the block. Allegedly we're talking about the Pacific Princess, AIDAcara, AIDAmira and sadly, P&O's Aurora.

 

- Spanish media are reporting a loss for Balearia for calendar year 2020, final figures are yet to be released but the estimate is anything between 15 and 25 million Euros. Another company ripe for a takeover I presume. Either through them or Trasmediterranea, I believe it won't belong before Grimaldi has his own Spanish subsidiary.

 

- The former Vronskiy has now sailed to Aliaga under the name Damla, we won't see that one sailing again.

 

- Former Monte di Procida - Procide ferry Teseo has been towed to Libya for further service.

Edited by Nick the Greek
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Friday, January 22nd, 2021

 

Bit of a quiet last 7 days in the Greek scene, I guess the hottest topic is the subsidies I mentioned in my previous update regarding which, there is no news. Other than that:

 

- A bit of a discussion this week around the future of Arkoumanis' Prince, which is now laid up in Katakolon. Some of our members are informed that the ship has engine trouble which are too expensive to fix and thus she will be scrapped in Aliaga, Turkey. Other members though are insisting that the ship will be back in action first for some annual maintenance in Perama and then in March as a replacement for the Galaxy in the Brindisi - Valona route. This one is an exceptional vintage ferry and one wonders for how much longer she will be around. We'll find out who's right, soon enough. My personal question though is what Arkoumanis are planning to do with the Brindisi - Igoumenitsa route, which appears to be showing considerable success for them. Will they leave the Golden Bridge alone? Will they pair her with a second ship in that service? Interesting one to watch.

 

- Small ferry Saonisos has been doing some trial runs in the Saronic gulf during the last fortnight or so, achieving speeds ranging between 17 and 18 knots. She is currently under a major refit, receiving extra cabins amongst other things and most importantly a serious engine overhaul. She is due next month to take over intra-Cycladic sailings with Syros as her home port, replacing the Andros Jet. This is a rather spectacular come back in the main Aegean routes by part of SAOS Ferries, albeit in subsidy mode. Definitely a die-hard outfit.

 

- During the last couple of summers, Minoan Lines have been offering sailings to and from Milos en route to Heraklion, sailings that have proved to be most popular for travellers between Piraeus and Milos, manily. The current rumour is that the sailings will be continued, albeit they will be part of the Piraeus - Chania route. This has not been confirmed yet but it looks like a realistic possibility, bearing in mind the Chania service seems to have a lot more garage and passenger space available.

 

- Check out a shot of ANEK Lines' Candia in Piraeus during the 70s

 

- Earlier in the week the Highspeed 4, Hellenic Highspeed and one flying dolphin did a short sailing near Piraeus in order to be aerially photographed, as part of the coming summer's advertising campaign by part of Hellenic Seaways. Hopefully we'll see the first 2 back in action this summer, since the acquisition of Hellenic Seaways by the Attica Group, rumours of an impeding sale have been incessant.

 

- And here is a collector's item photo, it is the current ferry Symi, former Eftychia, under the name of Maria shortly after she was built. You will notice the stern ramp.

 

- You may have seen the news that the Corsica Marina Seconda has started a new service between Cartagena, Spain and Toulon, France under charter to a French outfit. What has not been mentioned in the press is that there seems to be a triangular service in place, the ship having sailed from Toulon to Mostaganem, Algeria. In any case, it's not Corsica Ferries running that show.

Edited by Nick the Greek
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Saturday, January 23rd, 2021

 

I guess today's rumours merit an extra commentary in between the weekly updates.

 

Getting down on it, rumours are suggesting that ANEK Lines will be parting with arguably the 2 best ferries in their fleet, the Olympic Champion and the Hellenic Spirit. The buying party appears to be Attica and the intention is to keep using those ships in the Adriatic. The rumours also extend to the Elyros and the Asterion II who might also become part of the Attica fleet, keeping their current roles in the Adriatic and Aegean sea, respectively. As you can imagine there is a plethora of commentary and discussions around what's truth and what's not, where the ships will be used, under which banner(Superfast or Blue Star) etc. I'd say in this little corner we try to look beyond the colours of the hull and the chatter, and focus on the bigger picture.

 

The facts:

- ANEK Lines is on death row. Huge debt, ageing ships, limited cashflow. As per one of their executives "the Prevelis is the only ship bringing hot cash into out coffers". Bank debt is now long overdue, the banks are calling the shots and are demanding their money. So for sure any sale is at the request of the lending banks.

 

- Attica is considerably better in every respect compared to ANEK Lines but still carries quite a bit of debt and is increasingly dependent on subsidies in the Aegean. Unable to compete against Grimaldi in any shape or form, ended up selling them their best ship. The company has been de facto for sale for many years now and is working on auto pilot really, lacking strategic direction and vision for the future, other than appearing as attractive as possible to potential buyers/investors. Again here the banks have a huge influence on what goes on, the company is administered rather than managed.

 

So what changes if the rumours come true?

- For ANEK Lines, whether 2 or 4 ships are sold, this will be a cash injection and a notable improvement in their balance sheet. Of course this money will end up in the vault of the lending banks, it would be naive to think that it will be used to pay off smaller/other creditors or to grow the company. ANEK would be left with the El. Venizelos, Kriti I, Kriti II, Kydon and Prevelis. Aged fleet for sure, in some cases worn out and in any case not up to competing with Attica or Grimaldi. Best case scenario ANEK keeps operating in Crete and is barely kept alive for political reasons more than anything. Worst case scenario, the remaining elderly ships are scrapped and the banks limit their losses by winding the company up.

 

- For Attica operationally, not all that much changes. In the Adriatic they will get to operate their high speed but ageing fleet as they see fit without a partner and they get a foothold on Venice, if they want it. If they get the Elyros as well, they can pair her up with another strong fleet unit such as the Ariadne for example in order to compete directly with Grimaldi in Chania for example. Do they have this ambition? Very much doubt it. As far as I'm concerned, their biggest change comes in the balance sheet. They get their hands on 2, maybe 4 more modern ferries with established routes and clientele and at a good price. The fleet looks even better and more saleable/useable, in a few words they look an even more attractive bride for someone who'd consider buying them. 

 

What does not change?

- As I said earlier, ANEK Lines remains on death row. Unless someone steps in to settle the debts and start re-building the company, the only way is down. And it will remain so even if they keep their ships. As the old Bonny Tyler song says, "They need a hero".

 

- Attica still has a huuuuge "for sale" sign on their front door. The banks will still be looking for a buyer. The strategic direction will still not be there unless someone new comes in and changes things and more important than anything, they still won't be able to effectively compete with Grimaldi.

 

All in all my personal opinion is that the bigger picture does not materially change. At least not to the degree that the fate of either of the 2 companies changes. 

 

Edited by Nick the Greek
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Friday, January 29th, 2021

 

If you thought last week was quiet, this one was absolutely freaking sizzling with news, facts and rumours. So let's dissect it:

 

- At long last, a new building project from Attica. 3 x new fast ferries of the Aero design. I'm sure you will have seen all the technical details so I won't go into that. The most important side of things in my opinion is not the order itself, replacing the flying dolphins in the Saronic Gulf was long, long overdue. The substance is that this will be new technology that has never been seen in Greece before and I hope this will be the impetus to see more of this new technology with an improved energy footprint that will teach new sets of skils to the seafarers and the local ferry industry. And then of course there's always the hope that we will see a larger scale of investments in the ferry sector by Attica, in a fleet which is crying out for renewal. And an industry which is crying out for someone to spark it back to life.

 

- The developments in Italy concerning Moby/Tirrenia and the possilibity that we may see them belly up by the time summer comes, has apparently lead Grimaldi to make severe changes in their lineup. Nothing is officially announced but it looks increasingly probable that the Cruise Europa and Cruise Olympia will be headed to the Tyrrhenian Sea in order to link Livorno with Olbia. This is prompted by the fact that if Moby/Tirrenia is not there, there will be a big lack of capacity in the Sardinian routes. The domino effect means that for sure the Cruise Ausonia and the Cruise Olbia will be transferred to the Adriatic in order to fill in for their bigger fleetmates. In terms of interior and on board service, I believe they are better than the cheaply made and decorated Italian duo.

 

However they lack the capacity so the rumour is that there will be a third ropax in the Ancona - Igoumenitsa - Patras route for Grimaldi. Which one might that 3rd ropax be, at this point is a matter of speculation. The gist of it is that Grimaldi's fleet is so big and diverse that they can make changes like that on the fly and respond to market opportunities. One to watch out for, we'll be hearing a lot more in the days to come. It will be a bittersweet sight for Greek ferry enthusiasts, seeing several former Superfast and Minoan ferries in the Adriatic, only in Grimaldi blue. In my mind it's a sad reminder as to what it could have been, if the management of the Greek ferry companies had more vision and boldness. And of course, for the first time in decades the Minoan Prince insignia will not be seen in the Adriatic.

 

- For the last couple of months a lot has been written, heard and spoken of the subsidised Cyprus - Greece ferry link. And it all came to nothing. The Cypriot side announced that they did not even receive a single offer. Therefore the tender is officially declared null and void and any future ferry link is to be re-thought of and re-discussed. I would have thought that 5 million was an enticing offer, the owners think otherwise. This explains the presentation of the tender that the Cypriots did to Italian owners a couple of weeks before the deadline for the tender expired. There was just no real interest from Cyprus or Greece. This one has proven to be a big fiasco for the Cypriot government, who had taken the lead in this.

 

- I think back in October, one of our members had mentioned that there was a possibility the Superferry II would be chartered in by Seajets in order to deputise for the Aqua Jewel and the Aqua Blue during their winter overhauls. Surely these two companies who were fighting tooth and nail for so many years now, can't conclude such a fixture. I mean you could not see Sir Alex Ferguson managing Liverpool FC, could you? Well, money is stronger than pride for both sides so although not officially confirmed the ship will be chartered for a duration of circa 40-45 days in order to perform the subsidised sailings of both ships. We do not expect any change in livery.

 

- Take a peak of the interior of the Golden Bridge, courtesy of a friend of mine who did a crossing a few days ago. Very positive impressions overall, the owners appear to have spent a few bob on the interiors of the ship and she appears to have created some sort of a niche for herself. Lorry drivers are particularly impressed and as ever small details make the difference: while when you board a Grimaldi ferry for a night departure from Igoumenitsa(0130lt) the restauration is closed, on the Golden Bridge the self-service stays open till 0100hrs, offering professional and non-professional drivers a well anticipated late meal.

 

- The 30-year old roro Searoad Tamar had been up for grabs, following introduction of newly built tonnage. Rumours are suggesting that a buyer has been found and that this buyer is Greek. Everybody's mind is I guess turning to Attica and the fact that their initial plan when they bought the Blue Carrier 1, was that there would be a Blue Carrier 2 at some point in the not so distant future. At the same time my personal opinion is that a 30-year old ship might be a tad too old for Attica's liking. In any case, this one is something to watch for.

 

- Check out the progress in the construction of the Trinacria II for Bluferries

 

- Veteran roro Armenistis suffered superficial damage apparently when she hit the breakwater in Mytilene last weekend. The official announcement from the Coast Guard states that the cause of the accident was a malfunction in her bridge controls. This is apparently not the first time she faces the same problem and again she appears to have escaped the accident unscathed for the most part. She was back in action after a couple of days, maintaining a 49-year old ship is not an easy task.

 

- Time travel back to the winter of 1992 in Patras, retro Ventouris Ferries lineup

 

- The trial for the fire on the Norman Atlantic has been concluded at the first instance court in Piraeus. Out of the 11 defendants, 5 were judged guilty receiving moderate jail sentences. We are talking about the President and Managing Director of ANEL Lines as well as 3 crew members. Needless to say the saga will go on at the Court of Appeal and I believe if there's anyone to serve any prison time, that will take place after the appeal is finalised.

 

- And some Vortigern as well, very much loved in Greece as the Milos Express.

 

- Veteran roro Vasaland is headed to Haydarpasha, Turkey. She is due to commence a new roro service between Karasu, Turkey and Constanta, Romania.

 

- Vintage roro Jigawa was spotted headed for Aliaga, I guess that's the end of the line.

 

- Last but not least, our members are wondering what's happening to the Stena Nova, still laid up at Brunei Bay. Anybody able to offer any update on her?

Edited by Nick the Greek
Vasaland
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Friday, February 5th, 2021

 

- No brownie points for guessing which is the burning subject in the Greek ferry scene since the last update. The moves of Grimaldi both in the Tyrrenian and Adriatic sea have swept aside everything else. No real developments since last week apart from the fact that while our sources indicate 3 ships to replace the Cruise Olympia/Cruise Europa in the Adriatic, italian sources are suggesting that in fact it will be 4 ships. One pair plying the Ancona - Patras route while the other pair will serve the Ancona - Igoumenitsa route. Be it 3 or 4 ships, it seems as if Grimaldi want to leave no quarter to Attica and ANEK to bite traffic off Grimaldi's pie.

 

As for the names of the ships, it appears as if the Cruise Olbia and the Zeus Palace are definite movers to the Adriatic, while the other 1 or 2 ships are still a matter of deliberation on Grimaldi's part. The side effect of these moves is the Patras - Igoumenitsa - Brindisi route which appears to be about to be upgraded. Information from our members suggest that we might see the Cruise Bonaria(former Knossos Palace) in the Patras - Igoumenitsa - Brindisi rotation, supported by the Euroferry Olympia in the Igoumenitsa - Brindisi rotation. Whatever the case may be, if the Cruise Bonaria comes to Brindisi, we are talking about a major upgrade in this route. Some of the above moves will most probably go together with renamings to reflect the routes, as well as colour scheme and/or funnel colours changes. The Minoan insignia means nothing in Sardinia while it's the opposite in the Adriatic. The Cruise Olympia is on her way to Malta so we'll know soon enough what this will mean for the Sardinia pair of ships.

 

The bigger picture is of course that Grimaldi is showing not only the versatility of their fleet but also the versatility of their thought process and the quick thinking of their management. They see an opportunity and they're going for it. At the same time the competition in the Tyrrenian Sea is scrambling not to go bankrupt, while in the Adriatic the same is happening with ANEK. As for Attica, all they can do is sit by and watch the trains -or rather the ferries- go by. Unless something dramatic happens, Grimaldi is positioning themselves to become the biggest and most significant ferry company in Europe for the next 20 years. 

 

- The charter of the Superferry II by Seajets is going ahead as planned and she already performed her first voyage to Limnos. Funny how a ship that for 25 years had not seen any other port than Rafina, Andros, Tinos, Mykonos(with a tiny bit of Paros and Naxos), with her charter to ANEK earlier in the year and now to Seajets will visit a vast array of ports in Greece.

 

- The Blue Star Delos is now performing repeated sea trials for her scrubber, both the additional volume on the funnel and the colour scheme look different than the Blue Star Patmos, no uniformity here and it seems we'll be able to easily recognise the 2 sisters.

 

- Have a look at an atmospheric view of the Festos Palace in Malta.

 

- Our members are also reporting that there is life on planet Thunder, the fast ferry acquired by Fast Ferries back in September 2019. Following 1.5 years of being idle, there appears to be conversion/refit work going on in order for the vessel to see active duty in Greece during the summer.

 

- Arkoumanis' Galaxy sailing between Brindisi and Valona, is under detention in Brindisi for a series of detainable deficiencies. The seriousness is such that in all probability she will be allowed to sail to Perama only, in order to rectify the deficiencies.

 

- Check out the Cruise Ausonia in the livery she had for only a short period of time.

 

- Cruise ship Majesty, former Majesty of the Seas, that had allegedly been sold to Asian interests, following a long period being laid up in Souda Bay now proceeded to Piraeus main port. The reason of the visit remains a mystery and there are those who suggest she might be yet another addition to the fleet of cruise vessels bought by Seajets' boss Marios Iliopoulos, in the biggest piece of asset play we've ever probably seen in Greece, in the passenger sector of course. Here she is in Piraeus.

 

- Time travel back to Patras port in the 90s.

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Friday, February 12th, 2021

 

Another news-packed week in Greece in a month which is progressing with a lot of uncertainty. Most of the country is again in a state of strict lockdown(or it's supposed to be anyway) with no foreseeable end in the horizon. The Easter holiday season, if not the summer one too, appear very bleak in terms of travel and tourism possibilities and I think the ferry companies are definitely waking up to the fact that this year too might be a disappointment both in traffic figures and numbers in their bottomline results.

 

- The government has finally managed to formally introduce yet another round of subsidies for the ferry owners that got kicking as of earlier this week, a fact which prompted a number of ferries to come out of their winter sleep at least till the end of the month when the subsidies stop again. The Blue Star Paros, Naxos Jet, Power Jet and the Diagoras were the most prominent members of this group of ships. At the same time, this round of subsidies is causing also many raised eyebrows as Seajets, every government's darling the last 15 years, is receiving subsidies for sailings with her highspeed fleet, sailings that would not have been performed during any other winter. Point here is, in a pandemic-free winter those ships would have remained laid up as there is no need for these sailings due to the lack of traffic. Why would you subsidise these sailings in a pandemic environment? But this is Greece for you, stay away from those government bonds :). Bad news is, nobody can tell with certainty if there's any more money in the coffers at this point in time in order to subsidise the fleet even further.

 

- The Blue Star Myconos suffered a rather serious accident last night while attempting to berth at Agios Kyrikos, Ikaria island. Weather conditions appear to have been pretty bad and in the process of manoeuvring she was blown to the opposite pier, seriously damaging her bullbous bow. After the damage was assessed she was allowed to sail to Piraeus and then she went straight to the repair area of Perama in order to rectify the damage. It looks as if quite a bit of steelwork will be needed. We've all seen this film a number of times in the past, the island small fishing ports we are christening as harbours, are just not safe, especially for the larger ferries. But we are God-loving people in this country, why bother investing on the infrastructure while the all-mighty is protecting us from harm:rolleyes:? Another noteworthy fact here is that this is the latest in a series of serious accidents or (very)near misses we have seen from the Attica fleet during the last 5 years.

 

- Check out the Blue Star Delos following installation of her scrubber.

 

- Attica has been awarded a subsidy for calling once a week to Thessaloniki. Sailings will commence on the 1st of March. The ship(most probably the Blue Star Myconos) which will be sailing from Piraeus on the Friday to Syros - Mykonos - Ikaria - Samos - Chios - Lesvos - Leminos will then be proceeding to Thessaloniki instead of Kavala. This is a route which was under discussion for years and now it becomes a reality. In general sailings from Thessaloniki make a lot less sense nowadays, from the moment that with the new highway linking Thessaloniki and Kavala, sailing time for the ship to Kavala is greatly reduced, compared to Thessaloniki.

 

- Newly acquired small ferry Hermes sailed today to Corfu, painted in a red livery she will commence sailings between Corfu and Igoumenitsa. A considerable investment in a market that so far is clearly showing preference to the landing craft type ferries, putting clearly price as a deciding factor in front of comfort and speed. So an interesting bet here, would be curious to see in what type of speed she will be sailing. The current fleet of ferries over there sail at more or less 10-11knots, taking a whopping 2 hours for this crossing.

 

- How about a view of the Nissos Rodos on floating dock?

 

- Following the detention of the Galaxy in Brindisi last week, she was allowed to sail to Piraeus where she will rectify the detention items and at the same time perform her annual refit. There is no replacement in the Brindisi - Valona route for Arkoumanis.

 

- Cruise ship Columbus was removed from one of the bundles of ships one can see at Eleusis Bay anchorage. She is now closer to the shore and information from our members suggest she's preparing for her final voyage, most probably to India, rather than Aliaga.

 

- Rumours are circulating that vintage roro Nearchos will be used abroad during 2021. Her owners have business dealings in the Gulf of Guinea area, could this be a possibility? Or are we talking about a charter? Not sure there's a charter market for a 53-year old roro, so if she does indeed sail away from Greece, my money is on the former possibility.

 

- See the new livery of Dodekanissos Seaways

 

- Earlier this week the annual route declarations were published by the Ministry and in them there's a notable high speed craft called 'Anemos'. Our members are speculating that this is the new name of former Aeolos Express/Aeolos Kenteris I that remains laid-up for the last decade and is now property of ANEN Lines, another ghost from the past. This has not been confirmed yet and in the route declarations she has been declared as a ferry between Kyllini and Kefallonia. We don't think this is gonna happen, at least not this year. But the fact she was included in there, makes everybody wonder what ANEN has in mind. After such a long lay up, it would be a colossal effort and expense to bring such a ship back to shape. And -oh by the way- a ship that has never really made any money to talk about in her career so far. But you know what, over the last 10 years we have seen a number of ships come back to life in Greece. So never say never.

 

- In the same declarations, we did not see the Panorama at all. Apparently her owners are not planning to re-activate her and she is up for grabs. In fact, she's been up for grabs the moment she arrived in Greece, her owners were never quite keen on the specific ship that I guess they bought because they could not get their hands on anything better or at least more suitable for her Rafina - Marmari route.

 

- Double ended ferry Damianos will also be part of the 2021 lineup of ferries, apparently she will be used as a ro-ro between Piraeus and Aegina. Or that's at least the intention here, let's see if this becomes a reality.

 

- Attica's intentions for the Ariadne at the moment are Piraeus to Chios and Mytilene, replacing the Diagoras. This was in the cards for the last few years but never quite materialised. It might not materialize this year either, if they find a more profitable employment for the ship, especially a charter out abroad. But I think the intention is genuine, as is the intention to use the Diagoras as a plug and play ship during the summer in routes and islands where they see shortage of capacity. A bit like the sailing the Nissos Rodos used to do during the July weekends last summer.

 

- Have a look at a wonderful retro view of the Aigaion.

 

- Last week we saw the commencement of a new line between Tarragona, Spain and Izmir, Turkey using the Super-Fast Baleares. The line appears to be operated by DFDS, presumably chartering the ship and now it has come to light that EKOL is also loading cargo on the specific ship. Now the rumour as per the ITJ is that EKOL is considering opening another line from Turkey to Morocco. They have the Paqize sitting at anchor in Istanbul for the last year or so, could this be a possibility?

 

- And a series of photos from Malta, where the Cruise Olympia is headed for her annual refit, as well as change of name and livery.

 

- Siem's roro Liekut is on her way to Australia where she will commence service for Searoad Shipping. On her way, she is picking up some cargo from Antwerp which will be delivered to an African port, prior resuming passage to Australia.

 

- Have a look at the Cruise Roma by night in Civitavecchia

 

- And last but not least a couple of nice videos from our Youtube channel. First of all the Posidon Hellas in daytime and then the Blue Star Myconos during night time.

 

Bit of a long one this week but plenty to talk about. Thanks for tuning in!

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Friday, February 19th, 2021

 

After a hectic couple of weeks in terms of news and developments, this one was a bit of an anti-climax one. So let's see the very few things that happened:

 

- It has been discussed in the near past in this forum, again it's clear that Grimaldi Lines is very much interested in taking over the ports of Igoumenitsa and Heraklion. Igoumenitsa is a ferry port basically, while Heraklion is also a commercial port for containers, cruise ships and general cargo. It's not clear whether in the case of Heraklion, Grimaldi is interested in the passenger side of things only, or they want to go full monty. They obviously have the experience to run a port and in my book anything is better than the current state of a slow-moving State-owned port. At the same time, it's certainly a question what this take-over would mean for the competitors of Grimaldi who will then be forced to utilise ports owned by Grimaldi. And whether in their own way, Grimaldi do intend to make life difficult for them. But that's a future discussion I guess.

 

- The Cruise Olbia has now been renamed Europa Palace and is being refitted in Napoli in order to take up service in the Adriatic.

 

- Check out photos of the Cruise Sardegna(former Cruise Europa) in her new Grimaldi livery

 

- The Blue Star Myconos following her accident in Ikaria last week, has received temporary repairs to her bulbous bow and resumed service. Her annual refit is coming up at the end of February so permanent repairs will take place during that time.

 

- Cruise ship Columbus is still in Eleusis Bay and is preparing for her final voyage, apparently she's already been to her breakers.

 

- The Aegean Majesty has been moved from Korinth to Aigion and berthed next to the Aegean Myth. This was done for more safety. Let's see if the gamble of Seajets on these ships, pays off.

 

- Check out some nice views of the Copenhagen 

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Friday, February 26th, 2021

 

Let's see what this week brought in our doorstep, think we have a few interesting stuff going on:

 

- The Searoad Tamar which had been reported sold to Greek interests is now confirmed to be the new fleet member of Greek owner Kallimasias, the owner of the Pelagitis and Armenistis. This probably means that the Pelagitis will be put up for sale, either for further trading or more likely, to be scrapped.

 

- The annual travesty with the Greek ferry companies submitting route declarations with ships that everybody knows will either never be used or are not even seaworthy, continues. Starring the Ministry of Merchant Marine and its various commitees, the Coast Guard and the absurdities of the legal framework. The highlight is the Aqua Solution in the Sporades islands, anyway don't hold your breath. There is a link for those interested but it's in Greek.

 

- Speaking of the Ministry, money for subsidies has ran out yet again so as of tomorrow several ships will stop altogether or change their sailing patterns. Amongst the former most notably the Blue Star Paros and the Diagoras.

 

- The Patras - Igoumenitsa - Venice route will be getting a second ship as of March the 10th, rumour has it the Ariadni will be the second ship, not yet confirmed though. Interesting one to watch here.

 

- A story which was revealed exactly 1 year ago in this forum has now come to the surface once more. It's about a potential sale of the Azores Express(former St Eloi, Channel Entente) to Seajets. Why would Seajets fancy the ship? Because she could fit the bill if they were to go for the subsidised sailings in the Azores, as they have done in the past. Talks are still going on, apparently a deal appears to be closer than ever. Great news if you're a fan of the ship, a footnote in Greek ferry history if you ask me.

 

- Talking about vintage tonnage, the Al Salmy 4(former Chartres, Express Santorini) that has been laid up for something like a couple of years now in Dubai, is also rumoured to have been inspected by Seajets several weeks ago, the logic behind a potential purchase being the same or similar as the Azores Express. As much as I like the ship in question and have fond memories of sailing on her, we live in 2021. And the hot girls in this day and age are Rihana and Ariana Grande, not Joan Collins :D.

 

- Red Star Ferries will have a presence in the Brindisi to Greece market also during the coming summer, the featured ship will be the St Damian. She will be calling at Sami(Kefalonia island) except from Igoumenitsa but not at Zante as used to be the case.

 

- Check out another veteran, the Galaxy, on drydock in Piraeus

 

- The Europa Palace(former Superfast VI, Cruise Olbia) has come back to Greece for the first time in 8 years and commenced sailings in the Adriatic. A very welcome come back, even in Grimaldi colours.

 

- Not a ship that can be met too often, the Marfret Niolon underway.

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Friday, March 5th, 2021

 

Last week saw this website's 16th anniversary on the web. In the age of very small and easy to translate messages a-la-social media, we're actually proud to still be part of a community which is focused on a more analytic and structured approach to things, away from cheap promotion and advertising. Comes at a cost though, in order to catch a glimpse of the Greek news, you need to read my long rumblings on a weekly basis :D. So let's see what this past week brought upon us.

 

- The freshest piece of news comes from the front of Attica and the Blue Star 1. Actually it's not news because there has been no official confirmation as yet but let's say that there's a good probability that the story is true. Since a few days now, we had heard rumours that the Blue Star 1 was in the charter market having been laid up in Piraeus since early September. In the meantime she underwent a drydocking which was strangely performed in a hassle. For a ship that was laid up for so long and from the moment Attica has plenty of ships at her disposal for their Greek commitments, that was a bit odd. And so the rumour has surfaced and was published here earlier today that she might be seeing action in Ireland under charter to Irish Ferries. Not sure what Irish have in mind here, presumably a reinforcement of their presence in the Ireland - France trades to Cherbourg. For Attica this is great news, she is a ferry that was laid-up and suddenly she will be bringing some hard cash into the company's coffers. As I said earlier, plenty of ships to go around for Attica now so no problem in the Adriatic or Aegean seas.

 

- Speaking of Attica, their name was mentioned by the Italian media in relation to Sicily, oddly. The withdrawal of Moby/Tirrenia from the services to Sicily(with the exception of Napoli - Palermo), has caused talks about a possible 2nd operator entering the freight-only routes ex-Catania. The Italians are speculating that DFDS might be one possibility(fair enough) and ANEK-Attica might be another. Personal opinion here, these chaps(ANEK-Attica) have far bigger problems to deal with than the Sicilian lorry market. The Greek companies did not dare enter the Italian market when they were at the height of their might 20 years ago. Doing this in 2021 in my mind falls in the pub joke category.

 

- Have a look at the newly converted Nissos Chryssi(ex- Rungholt), due to commence sailings in Crete later this summer.

 

- I think most of you may have seen the pictures and videos from the inauguration ceremony held by Grimaldi Lines on board the newly delivered, Eco Livorno. Obviously I'm not going to comment on the cliches and the corporate mumbo-jumbo. I will comment on the juiciest part of the event which came out of the mouth of Guido Grimaldi in Italian. And this is that work has already started on the next generation of Mediterranean ferries the company intends to build for their fleet and their multitude of routes in the Med. If you look at the fact that their younger jumbo ferry in 2025 will be a good 15 years old, while their fleet of milennial ships will be 25 by that point, my guess is that over the next couple of years we should be expecting a sizeable order with a 2025 delivery horizon. And it will be full of technological innovations, big question of course is what type of fuel Grimaldi will opt for.

 

- A couple of days ago there was an incident in Chania with some mooring line becoming entangled with the bow thrusters of the Festos Palace. The sailing was delayed by a couple of hours and it seems the damage was a lot bigger than initially thought as the ship is at the Perama repair area since Thursday morning, repairing the damages. The Kydon Palace is currently substituting her.

 

- When the changes in the Adriatic were announced by Grimaldi earlier this year, some eyebrows were raised with the Cruise Bonaria(former Knossos Palace) being used in the Brindisi - Igoumenitsa route. Well these eyebrows are still raised because even if the Cruise Bonaria has been removed from the Brindisi schedules, what appears to be replacing her is a ship called MN_OLBIA_DD. So the obvious question is which ship may this be? As for the Cruise Bonaria and if memory serves, she is penciled in for service between Civitavecchia and Olbia.

 

- A bit of a mystery around the subsidised sailings to various Cycladic islands from Syros. The Caldera Vista has completed her sailings and as of March the 1st this service ought to have been performed by SAOS Ferries' Saonissos. Problem is, this small ferry is still at the repair area of Keratsini, apparently not ready to commence sailings and still trying to secure the necessary certificates from her Class. SAOS' past in this respect and about the specific ship is far from stellar so "what's gonna happen" it's actually a very good question. Both SAOS and Seajets have been government darlings in the past, so a very interesting situation here.

 

- The Satoshi is back sailing towards the Med from Colon, Panama. Destination is Malta, one to follow here.

 

- Last but not least here is a trip and ship review I did on Tallink's Victoria I. Needless to say, I cannot possibly translate this whole thing, Google can help you if you're curious. At least you can have a look at the photographs of the interior.

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Friday, March 12th, 2021

 

Internationally and across all types business, one can feel the climate of uncertainty and the need for businesses to be adaptable and fast moving, in order to survive the storm. This is the case in the Greek ferry scene, which produced another week rife of speculation and intrigue. But before anything, join us in electing the best ever Strintzis Lines' ferry, you can still vote here.

 

- For the second week in a row Attica Enterprises is the centrepiece of attention around how they will deploy their fleet in the coming summer. Starting with what we reported last week, the situation around the Blue Star 1 is still muddy. There's all sorts of speculation around the proposed duration of the charter to Irish Ferries, ranging from a very short duration to 1+1 years. Obviously what happens in the end will massively impact how the Attica fleet will be deployed in the summer, especially if we are talking about a longer term charter. Should that prove to be the case, it would underline the intention of the company to show preference over the cash that a charter out will bring, compared to servicing their own routes. The fact of the matter is that for the time being the Blue Star 1 remains on drydock in Perama and there are no formal announcements yet. My personal impression is that Attica will not mind at all over a longer charter duration, it's the cash they're after.

 

- Another Attica ship which collected a lot of speculation is the Nissos Rodos and her potential deployment in the Brindisi route according to other Greek websites. This is not something which makes too much sense in my mind, for a variety of reasons. The company has never been active in the Brindisi route and I just don't see why suddenly they would attempt to enter a route where Grimaldi Lines and Arkoumanis are well established. Even if they were to sail only between Brindisi and Patras, Grimaldi is doing this 2-3 times a week already. Is there such a market to render a ship with the capacity of the Nissos Rodos profitable, during this economic climate? And then of course there is the question of whether they would be potentially competing against their own ships in the Bari - Igoumenitsa - Patras route. My opinion here is that the only way a possible entry in the Brindisi route would make sense, would be if it were a Brindisi - Patras service while at the same time the Bari - Igoumenitsa - Patras route would shed the Patras part. In any case, I just don't see why Attica would open a front there, right now. At the same time, let us not forget that Grimaldi is still short of 1 ship in the Brindisi route, could it be the Nissos Rodos is chartered from Attica? It would not surprise me at all.

 

- Staying in the Adriatic, there has been speculation about ANEK/Attica doubling up the Asterion II at the Venice service. Right now one can only see the usual summer help of the Olympic Champion and nothing else. I do not see why ANEK/Attica would do this, especially in a summer period which will still be covid-restricted.

 

- Last but not least concerning Attica, information from one of our members emanating from shipyard and not Attica sources, suggests that Attica are shopping around for 2 x 145m LNG powered ferries. It makes sense for this to be happening, Attica badly need to renew their fleet on one hand and of course the designs of the Nissos Mycokos/Blue Star Delos classes proved to be very successfull indeed. Of course shopping around for a good design and an offer is not a firm order, in order to place a firm order you need the finance to back it up and to what extent this is available is a questionmark.

 

- On the subsidies front, a new wave of subsidies is rumoured to be ante portas. Until that point of course there are laid up ferries and diminished services which lead to supply problems for the islands. We have seen in cases several lorries being left out during the last couple of weeks, not an ideal situation. The whole situation is also causing severe friction within the ranks of the Union of Greek Ferry Owners. Reportedly during their last meeting there was a huge outburst of Marios Iliopoulos, owner of Seajets, against the president of the Union, Attica's Mihalis Sakellis. Apparently they stopped very short of a brawl and Iliopoulos announced his withdrawal from the Union, rumour has it that he is preparing a separate Union for owners with interests in the fast ferry sector. Allegedly this rift is not something new, it is something which has been brewing for a year now and the disagreement seems to lie on the perception of Iliopoulos that the Union is not doing enough for their members, especially the ones who own fast craft. Iliopoulos is an explosive character, I'm predicting a soap opera here.

 

- Relative to something we reported last week on the Al Salmy 4, former Charters/Express Santorini, her AIS transponder is now active again following 5 months of inactivity. Could this mean something? One to watch.

 

- Speaking of old friends, the Theofilos(ex- Nils Holgersson) has now been towed from Eleusis anchorage to a yard in Salamis island. What happened here is that her owners(ANEN) were forced to remove her from the anchorage by the local port authority and she needed to find a new home. Could this also mean that she will be prepared to be towed to the breakers? Highly likely. As much as I thought she was a royaly impressive ship while she was active, she is simply too old and too neglected for too long, in order for anything else to make financial sense.

 

- A similar case for me is the Smyrna which is receiving an impressive facelift in the hands of Levante Ferries, the intention still being to use her in a route between Thessaloniki and Izmir, Turkey. By the time such a route commences which could very well be 2022, she will be 45 years old. For the life of me, I just don't see what type of financial sense it makes for a ship of that age to receive a face lift which will have lasted over 2 years and her owners having spent cumulatively millions plus the cost of purchase, plus the cost of being idle. Granted, she was an active ship and not a floating wreck like the Theofilos but still it blows my mind on what basis so much money is spent on her.

 

- Check out our Ionian Sun gallery

 

- Again this week I cannot translate the trip report, but you can still see the interior photos of the Sassnitz.

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Friday, March 19th, 2021

 

After a couple of eventful weeks, this last one proved to be a bit of an anti-climax so not that much to report this week.

 

- No formal announcements yet on the Blue Star 1 which by the way is without Blue Star insignia now. We think it's a done deal though and it's just a matter of one of the parties announcing the details. Our members insist we're talking about a 1+1 year deal.

 

- The Speed Cat I(former Adriatic Jet) is now berthed at Piraeus main port. She's definitely an upgrade in terms of the ship profile in the Saronic routes compared to the existing fleet, what remains to be seen is the quality of the product and the reliability. Around the name of her owner, Agapitos, if you are an older Greek ferry fan there is a certain ring, tradition and nostalgia. But that counts for zip in 2021 and he is in for some strong competition.

 

- The Rigel VII in the Bari - Durres route has been sailing near the coastlines of Italy and Albania during the last few days, sailing as far south as Lecce in order to change course for one of the two ports. Initially this was thought to be a result of bad weather and her not being equipped with stabilisers but it turns out this was a Class requirement in order to allow her owners Ventouris to do maintenance to her MES system without operational stoppages. I've not see this before personally.

 

- News from Italy report that the Italian government will support the renewal of the Italian fleet which is attached to public interest routes, with a package amounting to half a billion euros, aiming at purchasing or building a total of 22 ferries(traditional and fast craft). If you're a Greek ferry fan and/or an islander, all you can do is smirk in disappointment when you realise that nothing of that sort is probably even conceived in Greece. The country with the largest commercial fleet on the planet, is left with a rapidly ageing fleet and with no possibility of renewal in sight. 

 

As I was commenting in last week's update about the feud between Iliopoulos and Sakellis, it is a sign not only of the times but also a demonstration of the quality(or lack thereof) of the executives the Greek ferry companies have. Their agenda is extorting as much cash they can from the State, now, today, taking advantage of the pandemic. There is just no tangible vision and plan for the future, they are trying to compete using practices of decades past. And guess what, that's not working..

 

- Check out our vintage and contemporary ferry advertisement gallery.

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Friday, March 26th, 2021

 

Another rather quiet week went by, Greece's national day and the pandemic developments are rather overshadowing everything else.

 

- As far as ferries go, obviously the Blue Star 1 is the hot topic of the last couple of weeks, we now know the route she will be used in and the fact that the charter is for a period of 1+1 years, as we have mentioned shortly after the news came out. The cash will be hot and Attica is more than happy to accept the fact that one of the best pieces of their fleet will be going away. Ariadne as a replacement is more than adequate in everything but the speed, plus for the eye of the enthusiast she's definitely more pleasing that the Blue Star 1. All in all it makes sense for Attica because they will improve their cashflow without compromising their Greek services. Let's hope the fleet stays healthy in terms of breakdowns during the summer. And as ever when a Greek ferry goes abroad, it will be interesting to see the results of the first PSC inspection in Ireland or the UK.

 

- The Aqua Blue which was fresh from her annual refit last week had a very eventful time in her first couple of sailings, suffering blackouts both off Andros and at Myrina port in Lemnos. It's almost certain though that these were due to poor quality of fuel, something which is consistent with the problems being reported relative to the new fuel type across the industry.

 

- Speaking of veteran ferries, one of our members caught a glimpse of the Prince in Katakolon, sadly she looks a bit worn out and no maintenance work is currently being done on her. Very doubtful whether she will be seeing any action this summer. In general, the more the vaccination process is being delayed and the more the virus is not really under control, the bigger the probability we will see a bit of last year as far as summer goes.

 

- There is still time to vote over which ferry you liked more, between the sisters Rodanthi and Mytilene.

 

- While you can enjoy a number of photos of the Nearchos on drydock, it's highly likelywe won't see her in the Aegean Sea this summer. She is hotly tipped to be off to some employment in Nigeria, without further details as to how and what. In fact I wonder whether we'll see her in Greece again at all, West Africa has a hang of swallowing all the ferries that go there.

 

- Interesting to note that a big part of the German roro operator Ernst Russ is now simultaneously in the Mediterranean, doing different charters. The Elisabeth Russ doing Marseille - Algeria(dunno for who's account), the Caroline Russ on charter to GNV from Genova both to Palermo and Tanger Med and then the Pauline Russ on charter to Flota Suardiaz, sailing between Barcelona and Tanger Med.

 

- Last but not least, Italian media are reporting that GNV are hot on the heels of the Pride of York and Pride of Bruges. For me this choice is a bit of a disappointment. I mean granted, the company has a tradition of going for ferries of a rather older age from northern Europe, which are economical to operate and buy. At the same time, when you have the clout of MSC and Gianluigi Aponte behind you and when your competitor Grimaldi is heavily investing on new and highly advanced technologically ferries, is this your response? Even the purpose-built GNV ferries from the mid-90s are gradually due for replacement, or are they? Every way you look at it, GNV's strategy is not clear to me at all.

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Friday, April 2nd, 2021

 

This past one was a somewhat strange week. On one hand you have mostly great weather, Orthodox Easte(2nd of May) approaching, a period which normally signals the final sprint for the summer season for the ferry companies and the general public. At the same time the numbers around the pandemic in Greece leave not much room for optimism for the summer.

 

- A measure of the type of situation I described above is the fact that the government is forced to splash another 12 million of their cash plus take other secondary measures in order to support the Greek ferry industry. The money is in the process of being distributed, therefore the companies await the official green light in order to resume more frequent sailings. At the same time, through their Union(the one no longer supported by Seajets as we have seen in earlier updates), the ferry owners have sent a letter to the relevant Minister, demanding even more support. The tone of the letter is very polite but at the same time there is an underlying threat throughout. What I personally find very funny and contradicting is that when the seafarers' unions are demanding things from the owners, they are demonised as employing blackmailing tactics and being of a strongly communist character. Of course when the owners employ more or less the same tactics towards the state, holding the general public hostage, this is a just fight for their problems. In the end, there's nothing more communist than a capitalist economy:D

 

- In addition to the above, I wonder what is the extent of the legitimacy of the Union when the 2nd biggest Greek company in terms of number of ships is no longer part of it. Speaking of Seajets therefore, there are signs that they are getting ready for the new season with the Power Jet and Champion Jet 2 receiving attention in Chalkis Shipyard. The Speedrunner III is also due to commence sailings next week, my general impression is that the ferry owners are slowly getting ready for the season albeit in a wait and see mode, relative to the developments around the pandemic which has reached record heights in Greece. My best guess here is that one way or the other the country will open up to international tourism, the economy cannot afford another year like the last one. So I think overall there will be more traffic compared to last year, to what extent we will see.

 

- The ferry enthusiast community said farewell but not goodbye to the Blue Star 1 which sailed to Ireland during the past week. At the same time we welcomed back the Ariadne after several years abroad, entering service in the place of the Blue Star 2 from Piraeus to the Dodecanese islands. The Ariadne is a great ship, she does present some differences with the Dutch-built Blue Stars though. Her speed is not as high and her maneouvrability is not that great especially in ports like Kalymnos. Another issue is the fact that she has only 1 stern ramp which is a rather narrow one at that. The result is prolonged port stays, earlier in the week she spent an entire hour in Syros. Early signs therefore are that the total voyage duration will be noticeably longer, at the same time she will be able to accommodate easily the traffic. It will be interesting to also see how they manage their summer schedules to the Dodecanese, there's a good chance the Diagoras will come in as a support. By the way check the gallery of the Blue Star 1 with plenty of material of the ship in her new outfit.

 

- By the way you can still vote for the best Ventouris Ferries ship.

 

- The Searoad Tamar is getting ready to sail from Australia to Greece under the ownership of Ainaftis Shipping Co, the owner's name is Kallimasias. What I found refreshingly nice is that the company's Facebook page is having fun with the comments we're making about the ship, teasing us that we're all talking about her but we don't yet know her name. I find this a very open and fun approach, compared to the stiff and rigid attitude the vast majority of other companies have. I mean the purchase of a new ship and the renewal of your fleet is a great event to be shared and advertised. It's not a secret, it's not illegal, it should not be treated like something that only a select few should know. Come on Greek ferry companies, be extrovert and take a lesson from Ainaftis.

 

- Have a look at the landing craft type Antigoni, receiving a major conversion all winter and due to enter service in the summer. And at the same time check out an old but impressive lady which is no longer with us.

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Friday, April 9th, 2021

 

Bit of a quiet week this one, the main event being the government splashing the cash to the ferry companies, resulting in most of the ducks quacking happily:D. Like I have said in the past, for an island nation like ours you need to ensure you maintain the lifeline to the islands and your territorial sovereignty thus the subsidies are indeed necessary. What is outrageous is that the money seems to be spent without clear and concise criteria about who gets how much.

 

- Other than that, check out an aerial view of the Polaris, voted Ventouris Ferries' best ferry ever by our members.

 

- Easter is approaching, the pandemic situation is remaining consistently bad and loads of discussion is taking place about whether people will be able to move around freely during this period. In attendance of what is going to happen, Seajets is preparing some of their high speed craft and there's back and forth between Piraeus and Chalkis Shipyards which is the company's preferred yard. The news here is the Tera Jet which was towed out of lay up to Piraeus, her last commercial voyage took place back in the summer of 2019. Early signs are that we'll see the ship back in action during the summer. As I was saying last week, the country cannot afford to open her gates to foreign tourists, so I think all these moves have this as a background.

 

- Still on the high speed craft space, the government has issued a tender for a subsidised service between Sitia and Rhodes via Kasos and Karpathos. This is the same type of service which the Express Pegasus did for a short while last summer and then was replaced by the Hellenic Highspeed. Attica are interested obviously, having the Hellenic Highspeed in mind. But Seajets are also interested and there's hot gossip around which ship they have in mind for this service. The Paros Jet would be a good bet but at the same time there's rumours going around that we might have a surprise ship there, under the umbrella of Seajets were they to win the tender. And obviously we're talking about a ship which is not in their ownership right now. Let's see who wins the tender to start with of course. One other juicy detail here is the fact that the Minister for Shipping comes from and is elected in the prefecture of Lasithi, of which Sitia is one of the most important towns. So you see, nothing happens by accident :D.

 

- The poor Pelagitis did a French kiss to the berth of Souda port earlier in the week. And I'm saying poor because anyone who's seen her perform berthing manoeuvres will have noticed that she's being handled like a fragile, old piece of Chinese pottery from the dynasty of Han:D. That's a testament of how precarious is her engine condition is and i'm betting my mortgage this had something to do with the incident. At the same time I believe the Searoad Tamar is due to sail from Melbourne to Greece tomorrow, so the cavalry is on the way. I just cannot fathom how the Pelagitis will remain in service for her current owners once the Searoad Tamar is up and running in Greece, beieve that's the end of the line for her in Greece, if not in general.

 

- This week it was confirmed that Grimaldi will maintain their calls in Milos during the coming summer. The change here is that rather than the Heraklion ships doing this, it will be the Chania ship, Kydon Palace. If you ask me, it makes perfect sense. The Heraklion ships are filling up regardless of calling in Milos or not. So why not use the Chania ship there which is rarely full and has plenty of garage and passenger capacity? In general these summer calls to Milos have proven to be a great success both for Grimaldi and the connectivity of the island of Milos both to the mainland but also to Crete. And this is another example of how Grimaldi are a creative bunch compared to ANEK who is traditionally not good at thinking out of the box. And in the rapidly changing conditions of this market, you gotta be able to move quickly and adapt.

 

- Last but not least, I'd like to draw your attention to something which has not happened yet but if it does might change the Mediterranean ferry landscape. And that's the ongoing struggles of Moby/Tirrenia/CIN or whatever they are called these days. Apparently there is a court hearing on the 15th of April in terms of a salvage plan for the ailing company, at the same time though there's nothing out there to suggest that a solution with the creditors has been found. The facts are that 1) the company is not viable, 2) the company going belly-up is not to the benefit of the creditors and 3) that the Italian government will not want to see so many people lose their jobs. So chances are there will be a solution even at the last moment if you ask me. In case there isn't one and we go into a bankruptcy process, there's gonna be a big fleet which will be up for grabs and I think Grimaldi will be waiting in the wings for the modern units. Under normal circumstances a possible collapse of Moby would also mean that there's a gap to be filled in the Tyrrenian Sea, thus a good investment opportunity. But with the Spanish companies losing money like no tomorrow and the Greek companies struggling to consolidate their dominant position even in the Piraeus - Aegina:D route under threat from Grimaldi, I think the latter will be presented with a great opportunity to create a Mare Grimaldicum in the Sardinia and Sicily trades.

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Friday, April 16th, 2021

 

Another week where the pandemic numbers are soaring and at the same time the country is opening up with a view to Orthodox Easter(May 2nd). As one of the tele-doctors pointed out, it's as if you're very fat and you start to eat even more in order to lose weight:rolleyes:. Anyway, we survived yet another week so let's see what took place:

 

- A lot of back and forth with the various seamen's unions for ANEK Lines and Levante Ferries during the past week, with a 24-hour strike being declared in May. As far as ANEK Lines is concerned, the unions are claiming that the ships are sailing with less crew than Safe Manning in the sense that there is a winter and a summer Safe Manning Certificate with ANEK Lines using the winter one instead of the summer one. The company I don't think is denying this but at the same time it looks as if according to the letter of the law they are entitled to do this, even if they are the only company who does so. For Levante Ferries the complaints have to do with the working/rest hours of the crews. This is a recurring theme with Levante Ferries who appear to not only overwork their crews but also man their ships not according to a normal ferry safe manning certificate but according to safe manning standards consistent with short-sea ferries such as for example a Portsmouth - Isle of Wight service, to put it in an English context.

 

I don't have an opinion about the validity of the unions' claims against Levante, one has to note though that these complaints are coming up all the time against Levante. My objection has to do with the way the unions handle this. Making public announcements and pinpoint the problem is very easy. They are there to act though, not comment. Their usual action is a strike which in my humble opinion is a measure that is rather ineffective and over the years is considered rather like an obligation if you want to remind people you exist as a union. They need to be more creative and act in a meaningful manner. Especially in the Levante case, if the unions think they have a case, they should be pushing the Coast Guard and the Ministry to act and make proper controls. And for me proceeding to court against the Coast Guard with the questionmark of neglect of duty on their part, is the only way of making them buckle up and do their jobs.

 

- For those of you who are translating the posts we make in Greek, you will have noticed during this week but also the previous one, that the Superruner, Supercat and Superspeed have all performed sea trials. Yet at the same time, they are not scheduled to start sailing anytime soon, so what on earth is happening? Let's stop beating around the bush and say that there is lots of speculation around the future of these 3 ships. Anything between Seajets chartering the Superruner if they win the Sitia - Rhodes subsidised service tender, to Seajets buying all 3 ships from Golden Star, together with one of their two conventional ferries. Obviously there's nothing concrete and in the end nothing may come out of this. But definitely these sudden sea trials were not done by accident.

 

- The Searoad Tamar is finally underway to Greece, like they did with the Armenistis her owners will be renaming her in Greece when she arrives around the 10th of May. Earlier I had reported that she will be the successor of the Pelagitis, somehow this does not look certain though. It could well be that she is the 3rd ship of her owners in the Aegean, we shall see.

 

- The summer timetables of the Ariadne in Dodecanese service have been published, she will have 3-4 sailings per week from Piraeus depending on the time of the year. Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday(1800) will be her basic sailings to Kos and Rhodes with Samos as her first port of call(twice a week) and once per week with Santorini as her first port of call. During July and August there will be also Saturday morning sailings to Paros, Naxos plus Patmos, Leros with a direct return to Piraeus. The sailings are basically the same as the Blue Star 1 of the last few years, albeit with slightly lower speed while the Saturday sailings are the ones that the Nissos Rodos was performing during summer 2020.

 

- We also have a timetable for the Olympus which by the way still remains laid up in Salamis island. Anyway she is supposed to commence sailings on April 28th and this year she will not be sailing to Rethymnon, a good move if you ask me as she will probably be slicing her fuel bill by something like half. So this year her basic route is Piraeus to Sifnos, Milos and Santorini with one call per week to Thirassia(small islet opposite Santorini) and Anafi. This does not change the bigger picture of one more year, another bet for this ship and her owners.

 

- On another ship which resembles the Olympus in terms of her idle time, the Saonisos has been towed from Piraeus to Lavrion. Still there's no white smoke coming from the chimney about her starting sailings, her problems with the Greek bureaucracy appear insurmountable for the time being. But she's a lovely little ship and I hope we do see her in action pretty soon. 

 

- This past week was also the inaugural one for the Speed Cat I, owned by Antonis Agapitos. I do not think you'll find someone who's not happy about this development, in a market which is desperate for new players and increased competition. 

 

- One a more international topic, seeing the changes Stena are conducting in the Liepaja - Travemunde route, one wonders what the future holds for the Urd and the Stena Gothica. In terms of their size and age, we are speculating that they could be a good fit in the Eastern Mediterranean or the Black Sea. We are therefore grateful if anyone has any information about what's gonna happen to these 2 ships.

 

- For those of you curious enough to read even through Google translate, here is my trip report for the Moby Drea, plus numerous interior photos.  

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