BLUE STAR PATMOS Tribute and Moments of Trip
Trip: 7-8 July 2015. From Piraeus to Santorini, via Syros, Paros, Naxos and Ios, with the BLUE STAR PATMOS of Blue Star Ferries.
The cruiseferry BLUE STAR PATMOS was ordered by Blue Star Ferries, along with her sister ship, the BLUE STAR DELOS, to the Daewoo Shipyards in South Korea for construction and service on the Aegean Sea. The BLUE STAR DELOS was completed in 2011, and began service on the Piraeus-Paros-Naxos-Ios-Santorini line, while the BLUE STAR PATMOS was completed in 2012 and was deployed on the Piraeus-Chios-Mytilene line. There, she successfully competed against the ships of NEL Lines (eventually forcing the company to remove its services from their main line, which they had been serving since 1973) and against the NISSOS CHIOS of Hellenic Seaways. In 2014, following the sale of the BLUE STAR ITHAKI to Canadian company Bay Ferries Limited, the BLUE STAR PATMOS was transferred to the company's Cyclades service. After some service on the Piraeus-Syros-Tinos-Mykonos line left by her predecessor, she was then transferred to the Piraeus-Syros-Paros-Naxos-Santorini line. Blue Star Ferries later modified their service on the Cyclades, following the arrival of Superfast Ferries (a member of Attica Group just like Blue Star Ferries) and their flagship, the SUPERFAST XII, on the Dodecanese. The BLUE STAR DELOS maintained her morning departure from Piraeus to Paros, Naxos and Santorini, while the BLUE STAR PATMOS would also operate on the same line during the afternoon and the evening along with crossings in Syros and Anafi. She was also deployed on the Lesser Cyclades along with fleetmate, the BLUE STAR NAXOS, operating in Paros, Naxos, Santorini and the islands of Donousa, Amorgos and Astypalaia. Her service was very successful, just like all of Blue Star Ferries' ships. As of 2015 she is still the youngest cruiseferry in Greece. Furthermore, she notably awarded the title of 'The Best Ferry in the World' for 2012 by Shippax in 2013.
During the summer of 2015 my family decided to go on a trip to Santorini for five days. We had planned to leave Piraeus in the morning with the BLUE STAR DELOS, but a change in our schedule forced us to instead travel with her sister ship, the BLUE STAR PATMOS, during the evening, leaving Piraeus at 15:30 and arriving in Santorini at 02:30 the following day, after first stopping by four other Cyclades islands: Syros, Paros, Naxos and Ios. This post is therefore my first-ever Tribute Post on this Blog. Such posts will detail a trip that I had with a particular ship (usually my first-ever trip with her or my first trip with her since the website was launched), her history and service, as well as the different ports that she would call during this trip. There are many more that will be written very soon, so stay tuned!
The great BLUE STAR PATMOS in Piraeus, seen from the FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA of Aegean Flying Dolphins, four days before traveling with her for the first time.
Apart from it being my third trip of the 2015 season, following the first two that I had on 3 July 2015 while going towards and heading back from Aegina in one day, this trip was historical for me as I was heading to Santorini and the Cyclades for the first time in my life. Indeed, it was my first-ever trip from Piraeus to the Cyclades, my first-ever trip leaving from Piraeus in order to go to an island that was not part of the Saronic Gulf, my first-ever trip with a cruiseferry on the Aegean Sea, my first-ever trip with a ferry owned by Blue Star Ferries, and my first-ever overnight trip on the Cyclades and the Aegean Sea as a whole. Moreover, it was my first-ever trip with a ship of the Greek coastal service built in the 2010s.
We arrived an hour before the departure in Piraeus. This gave me the chance to show the ship to my family. Even though it was the first time I ever boarded her, I had seen many pictures of her accommodation in websites and forums dedicated to the Greek coastal service and the Greek Shipping magazine 'Efoplistis'. Therefore, I already knew what her interior areas would look like.
The majestic bow of the BLUE STAR PATMOS, a few moments before boarding. The font used for the word 'PATMOS' is similar to the one used by Blue Star Ferries on their ships that bear the name of an island, with the latter being written in italics.
The ship has 9 decks: Decks 1 to 5 are dedicated to the ship's garage and engine rooms, Decks 6, 7 and 8 to passenger areas, and Deck 9 to the ship's bridge. Deck 6 is the one that greets passengers once they have reached the end of the escalators leading them from the garage to the passenger accommodation areas. There, one can note the reception desk which is primarily used for passengers that have booked cabins for the duration of the trip.
The sign seen above the escalators leading from the garage to Deck 6. It displays the Aegean Sea, and features a message saying 'Thank you for sailing with us!' both in Greek and in English. At the bottom right corner, the company's name, logo, slogan and status as a member of Attica Group are mentioned.
The reception sign near the reception desk, written with gold letters.
The 'Welcome' sign located right next to the reception desk. It is made out of yellow 3D-printed letters laying of the floor. The BLUE STAR DELOS also has them.
Right behind the reception desk is the Economy Class Lounge area and bar. The walls and the column are illuminated by the company Artemide, and change colours every 10 seconds.
The Economy Class Lounge area column seen switching from turquoise to light green.
The hall leading to the passenger aircraft-style seats. The wall is also illuminated by Artemide.
And it also changes colours. At the end of the hall is the Business Class Lounge area, which is towards the bow section of the ship.
The ship's arcade and computer zone.
The very comfortable passenger aircraft-style seats, located on the port side of the ship.
When heading back towards the stern section, one of the two hallways features the ship's onboard shop. It is operated by Hellenic Travel Shops, as it is the case with all ships owned by Blue Star Ferries.
The ship's kid's corner area, which is decorated with advertisements from telephone service company Vodafone, a longtime partner of Attica Group. Apologies for the poor quality of this picture.
The other side of the Economy Class Lounge area, which has a circular wall featuring a goldfish under water. The BLUE STAR DELOS is known to have green frogs in her respective area.
Another view of the Economy Class Lounge area, which features few chairs and tables centered around the circular wall. Next to them is an ATM machine, as well as a deckplan.
The corner of the Economy Class Lounge area, located right next to the exit that leads to the stern outdoor deck. It features more tables and chairs in the style of a canteen, and the wall in the background is coloured in cyan blue, while also featuring a small yellow airplane, similar to those that operated in the first half of the 20th century.
Another view of the 'canteen' section of the Economy Class Lounge area, later at night.
The outdoor sun deck on Deck 6, which has several chairs and tables for passengers wishing to stay outside throughout the trip.
The sun deck also features a bar operated by Flocafé. It was closed at the time, and only opened after the ship departed Piraeus. Like all outdoor bars operated seen on ships owned by Blue Star Ferries, this Flocafé bar serves coffee, soft drinks, juices and snacks.
Another view of the outdoor sun deck, which soon began to become full of passengers as the ship started to leave the port of Piraeus.
I proceeded to walking over from Deck 6 to Deck 7, which also has an outdoor alley leading passengers from the stern section to the bow section of the ferry. This is the port side alley. Next to it are two of the four main lifeboats of the ship.
Deck 7 is known to feature many of the ship's cabins. She has much more than the BLUE STAR DELOS does, as the latter was built primarily as a day ferry. On the contrary, the BLUE STAR PATMOS was built in order to serve more lines on the Aegean Sea, including those that require overnight trips. This makes her extremely useful when her fleetmates operating on the Dodecanese undergo their annual refits. The cabins were of course very prominent when she was operating on the Piraeus-Chios-Mytilene line, which required overnight trips. Since the BLUE STAR PATMOS moved to the Cyclades, they have not been as prominent, although the fact that she serves most islands from Piraeus in the evening and during night time encourages several passengers to continue using them.
The alley leading to the staircase that connects Deck 6 with Deck 7. It is built under the standard style found on most modern cruiseferries.
After getting to meet the ship and her exceptional amenities, decorations and luxurious areas, it was time for us to begin the long trip to Santorini. We left the E7 gate, which is were the Blue Star Ferries ships that are deployed on the Cyclades dock in Piraeus. It was 17:30, and we departing for the first stop of the trip: Syros.
Next to us was the historic ferry PANAGIA TINOU of Ventouris Sea Lines. She was unfortunately laid-up, as her owners experienced severe financial difficulties which prevented them from paying the ship's crew, which responded by permanently arresting the ferry. It was her first summer under that name, as she was previously known as the AGIOS GEORGIOS under Ventouris Sea Lines from 2004 to 2015. She had been operating on the Piraeus-Kythnos-Serifos-Sifnos-Milos-Kimolos-Folegandros-Sikinos-Ios-Santorini line from 2005 to 2014.
Next to the PANAGIA TINOU was another Greek coastal service veteran. Indeed, it was the KRITI I of ANEK Lines, which was spending her first season on the Piraeus-Chania line.
Next to the KRITI I and the PANAGIA TINOU was a fleetmate of the BLUE STAR PATMOS: the BLUE HORIZON. Owned by Blue Star Ferries since they were founded in 2000, she was spending her second consecutive season on the Piraeus-Heraklion line, under the ANEK-Attica Group joint venture.
In front of us was the high speed ferry SPEEDRUNNER IV of Aegean Speed Lines, which was resting in the port of Piraeus. Owned by Aegean Speed Lines since late 2008, she spent the 2015 season on the Piraeus-Serifos-Sifnos-Milos line. The previous year, she served the Piraeus-Paros-Naxos line, after having been laid-up in Elefsina Bay during the entire 2013 season.
As we began departing the port, we passed by the cruiseferry FESTOS PALACE of Minoan Lines, which also operates on the Piraeus-Heraklion line, competing against the BLUE HORIZON.
Next to the SPEEDRUNNER IV was the HIGHSPEED 6 of Hellenic Seaways, a few moments after just having docked in Piraeus. She operates on the Piraeus-Ios-Santorini line, while also making evening trips on the Piraeus-Syros-Mykonos line twice a week. She has done this since 2013.
The FESTOS PALACE, with the BLUE HORIZON, her rival, seen behind her.
By continuing to move towards the exit of the port of Piraeus, I could now see the E8 gate, which is were ships serving the Saronic Gulf dock. There, I saw the great IONIS of Ionis Ferries, which was on the Piraeus-Aegina-Methana-Poros line for the first time in her career. Before that, under Tyrogalas Ferries (which has been operating as Ionis Ferries since 2015), she was an established ferry on the Ionian Sea, serving the Kyllini-Zakynthos line and the Kyllini-Kefalonia line with tremendous success from 1993 to 2015, before coming to the Saronic Gulf.
Right next to her was the PHIVOS of Nova Ferries, which has been serving the Saronic Gulf since 2005. She also operates on the Piraeus-Aegina-Methana-Poros line, under the Saronic Ferries joint venture.
The FLYINGCAT 1 is seen resting in Piraeus. Built in 1991, she has spent the entirety of her career on the Saronic Gulf, although she served different operators. These included Ceres Flying Dolphins (1991-1999) which introduced the 'Flyingcat' brandname, which was continued by the ship's subsequent operators Minoan Flying Dolphins/Hellas Flying Dolphins (1999-2005), before they became known as Hellenic Seaways in 2005. The FLYINGCAT 1 is currently the high speed craft with the most experience in the Greek coastal service, if we exclude hydrofoils and inactive high speed craft.
The FLYINGCAT 6 is a sister ship of the FLYINGCAT 1, although she was built six years after her. She has been in Greece since 2004, when she was bought alongside her sister ship, the FLYINGCAT 5, by Hellas Flying Dolphins. They entered service on the Sporades in 2005, when their company was renamed Hellenic Seaways. This is her second season on the Saronic Gulf, having also served the area in 2013.
We were about to exit the port of Piraeus, whereupon we passed by two gigantic cruise ships resting in the port. One of them was the newly-built MEIN SCHIFF 3 of German company TUI Cruises (whose captain, a Greek, has worked for Blue Star Ferries for many years).
The MEIN SCHIFF 3, along with a bunker supply tanker.
The other gigantic cruise ship was the CELEBRITY REFLECTION of American company Celebrity Cruises. The company was previously owned by the Greek Chandris family, and formerly traded as Chandris Lines.
As we were leaving Piraeus, I saw a tiny ship preparing to enter the port. It was the GEORGIOS BROUFAS of Broufas Vessels, which is a small ship connecting Piraeus with Salamina in 45 minutes. She has been operating under that capacity since she was built in 1997.
Leaving Piraeus, as the GEORGIOS BROUFAS is seen entering the port.
I stayed in the outdoor area for the entire trip, as it was the first time I would see the Cyclades with my own eyes. While traveling, we passed by the NORWEGIAN JADE of Norwegian Cruise Lines, which had also left Piraeus.
Passing by the NORWEGIAN JADE.
After two hours, we left the coast of Attica. I could then see the port of Lavrion from a very far distance, as well as the island of Makronisos. We then passed by the passage separating the islands of Kea and Kythnos.
A lighthouse in the middle of a deserted place in Kea.
Passing by the island of Kea, which is served by passenger ferries operating from Lavrion and Kythnos, as well as Ro-Ro carriers and landing craft leaving from Elefsina.
Near the strait separating Kea from Kythnos, I spotted the high speed ferry CHAMPION JET 2 of Sea Jets on her way towards Piraeus.
The CHAMPION JET 2, in what was her first summer in Greece under Sea Jets. Having been bought in December 2014 alongside her sister ship, the CHAMPION JET 1, she was deployed on the Piraeus-Mykonos-Naxos-Santorini line in 2015.
After an hour, sunset began. We had passed by Kea and were a few minutes away from Syros.
The sun having completely disappeared. Only the final red rays remain.
Syros right in front of us.
We entered the port of Syros. Many say it is the most beautiful port on the Aegean Sea, with such claims easily justified. The port is located right in the heart of the island's capital, Hermoupolis (which is also the capital of the Cyclades), and features the well-known Neorion and Goulandris Shipyards, which are amongst Europe's oldest active shipyards. I was disappointed to see it during the evening, as it is more beautiful during the daylight, but I still got to see the port pretty well. What I liked was that local inhabitants entered the ship to serve us loukoumi and other traditional sweets from the island.
The port of Syros, featuring the Neorion Shipyards.
One of the piers at the corner of the port, with Hermoupolis seen in the background.
The famous Neorion Shipyards, which were closed at the time due to financial issues. The ship seen on the drydock remained there until August.
Another view of the Neorion Drydock.
The port of Syros, featuring several traveling agencies, and the Cyclades-style houses in the background.
The beautiful city of Hermoupolis in Syros.
After leaving Syros we went to eat at the ship's self-service restaurant area. There was a delicious steak, along with excellent pasta. Blue Star Ferries has a reputation for its good cuisine. After dinner, I went outside to watch the Cyclades. By the time I got to my seat, everything was completely dark. The only things I could see were distant yellow lights, meaning that we were close to the other islands. After two hours we arrived in Paros, reaching its well-known port: Paroikia.
Lorries from Paros ready to take their containers from the ferry, as it is the tradition in Greece.
The Church of Agios Nikolaos in Paros, in the city of Paroikia.
After leaving Paros, we reached the island of Naxos within an hour, as the latter is located right next to the former.
The port of Naxos, located in the Chora of the island.
I also thought that it was a good idea to take a picture of the ultra-modern funnel of the BLUE STAR PATMOS, which is illuminated at night. Its design is very similar to the one that is seen in most Greek cruiseferries built from the late 1990s to the early 2010s.
After leaving Naxos, we had two hours before reaching the port of Ios. The ship was more silent, because many passengers had disembarked in the previous islands, while others were in their cabins. Also, the restaurant, the self-service, the shops and the arcade rooms were all closed. The silence was pretty relaxing, and I was happy to listen only to the sea and the ship's engines.
The entrance to the bay of the port of Ios. Apologies for the poor quality of the picture.
The port of Ios, also located near the island's Chora.
We arrived in Ios, through a bay that leads to a very small port. Only one ferry at the time can dock there due to capacity constraints, but since the BLUE STAR PATMOS was the only ferry during this time, we did not have any problem. But we were not alone. Indeed, in the port there was the small catamaran SUPER JET of Sea Jets, which was operating on the Rafina-Tinos-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos-Ios-Santorini line. She would usually spend the night in Ios, then leave early the following morning to Santorini, before making her return towards the aforementioned islands and eventually reaching Rafina in the afternoon.
The SUPER JET, which has been operating in Greece for exactly twenty years.
The SUPER JET resting in Ios.
The SUPER JET seen resting in Ios.
After leaving Ios, we arrived in Santorini in just an hour. I saw some illuminated buildings in the mountains, and I realised that it was the famous village of Oia. We had made our way between Northern Santorini and the island of Thirassia. After a few minutes we had arrived in Thira, the main city, at the port Athinios, as it is called in Santorini. It was 02:30, and we had spent exactly seven hours onboard the ship. The BLUE STAR PATMOS then left for Anafi.
Houses in Santorini at night. Underneath them, right next to the coast, the lights shown are those of the small tour boats that operate around the Santorini Archipelago. They belong to shipowners such as the Santorini Boatmen Union, Dakoutros Brothers, Santorini Sea Excursions or Kamari Tours.
That's it! We made it! And Blue Star Ferries gave us a little souvenir, which was spotted at the back windshield of our car.
As the trip came to an end, my view on the ship was still the same: the BLUE STAR PATMOS is a fantastic ferry, which has a lot to offer to passengers for many more years, and is a clear symbol of the modern fleet of the Greek coastal service. She moreover shows that great things can be built despite the Greek debt crisis. The ship also showed her company's success, reliance, maturity and good organisation skills. I look very much forward to traveling with her again in the future, either on the Cyclades or somewhere else on the Aegean Sea. She will be successful in any place she goes to in Greece.
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