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-ANEK Lines

Built in 1992 (age 32). Registered in Chania. Current line: Piraeus-Chania

The gigantic cruiseferry EL. VENIZELOS was originally ordered in 1979 for the Swedish giants Stena Line, along with three other sister ships, to be built in the early 1980s in Poland. Intended to be named STENA POLONICA, her construction was however delayed and, despite being launched in 1984, Stena Line canceled her delivery (along with the one of one of her sister ships, though the other two were completed and still operate for Stena Line to date). She remained laid-up in Gdynia before being purchased by the Norwegian company Fred. Olsen Lines in 1988. Her incomplete hull was renamed BONANZA, and she was towed to Bremen in Germany. However, once again, plans to complete her construction were canceled, so the ship remained laid-up until 1989, when she was bought by the Greek company ANEK Lines. The ship was towed to Perama in Greece for the rest of her construction, under the name KYDON II, and was finally completed in 1992 under the name EL. VENIZELOS (in memory of the iconic Greek politician Eleftherios Venizelos, who came from Crete, the base of ANEK Lines). She was deployed on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Ancona-Trieste line on the Adriatic Sea, becoming the biggest and largest ferry in the Greek coastal service (a record now surpassed by the CRUISE OLYMPIA and the CRUISE EUROPA of Minoan Lines, though the latter ferries carried the Italian flag, which makes the EL. VENIZELOS the biggest and largest ferry carrying the Greek flag). She was the flagship of ANEK Lines until the delivery of the newly-built OLYMPIC CHAMPION in 2000. From the winters of 1993 to 2004, she also operated on the Piraeus-Chania line and on the Piraeus-Heraklion line, replacing her fleetmates operating on the latter lines during their respective refits. In 2003, her service was limited to the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Trieste line. By this year, despite both her size and her impressive accommodation, her small garage and her slow speed were two big negative points on the Adriatic Sea, and this made it difficult for the ship to compete against her newly-built rivals owned by companies such as Superfast Ferries, Blue Star Ferries and Minoan Lines, which combined both fast speed and large garage size with luxurious service. As a result, in the summer of 2004, the ship was chartered to the Tunisian company Tunisia Ferries (also known as Compagnie Tunisienne de Navigation, or COTUNAV), for whom she was deployed on the Marseille-Tunis line and on the Genoa-Tunis line. From this year to 2011, the ship continued to operate for Tunisia Ferries during the summer, while in the winter she would return to operate for ANEK Lines, on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Trieste line in 2005 and 2006, on the Piraeus-Heraklion line in 2007, and on the Piraeus-Chania line from 2008 to 2011. In 2012, the ship spent the summer on the Piraeus-Chania line, replacing her elder fleetmate, the LATO. She stayed there until 2013, when she was chartered to the French company SNCM (Société Nationale Maritime Corse-Méditerranée). She was deployed on the Marseille-Ajaccio-Algiers line, but her charter ended abruptly during the same year, after a poor performance throughout the season on the line. She returned to Greece and was laid-up in Perama. For the summer of 2014, she was chartered to the Italian company Go In Sardinia, and was deployed on the Livorno-Olbia-Arbatax line. But this charter did not go well either, and the ship was once again laid-up in Perama, remaining there until the summer of 2015, when she was called to serve the Piraeus-Chios-Mytilene line in order to transport Syrian refugees that had arrived in the Northeast Aegean Sea Islands. She continued this service until the summer of 2016, when she was chartered to Africa Morocco Link in order to operate on the Algeciras-Tangier Med line. The charter was a failure, as the ship was too large to operate on a line where travel time usually lasts only two hours. After the summer, the ship returned to Greece, and was once again deployed on the Piraeus-Chania line in 2017, instead of her fleetmate, the KYDON, which was chartered overseas. In 2018, while sailing from Piraeus to Chania, she suffered from a fire which spread through the garage area, but which, thanks to the crew, it was safely extinguished without any casualties, although the ship was significantly damaged. She was repaired in Perama and subsequently returned to service. In 2020 she was replaced by the ELYROS and was laid-up in Perama as a result. After three years there, she was once again reactivated and returned to service on the Piraeus-Chania line in 2023.

PHOTOS (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021):

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