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  • Writer's pictureAlexandros Vrailas

Saronic Gulf One-Day Ferry Trip on 19 July 2016-Part I

On 19 July 2016, I had my first trip with a Greek ferry during my 2016 summer vacation, only two days after arriving in my country. It was for the same exact purpose as the trip I made with my mother and her own mother on 3 July 2015: it was a round-trip to the island of Aegina (one of the two islands in which I go to every summer, as you already know from last year). Traditionally, my mother and my grandmother had been going to Aegina together a few days before we leave Athens for Zakynthos, in order to store in our Aegina house whatever we do not need for the vacation (such as oversized bags, warm clothes) and in order to take whatever is necessary for the beaches (volleyballs, rackets, towels, which stay in our Aegina house all year long). For the second consecutive year, I also went to Aegina with them for help, so it was once again an opportunity for me to see the Greek coastal service ships during both trips. We took the PHIVOS of Nova Ferries to Aegina, just like last year and we returned with the ACHAEOS of 2way Ferries a couple of hours later.

This post is dedicated to the first of the two trips I made that day: the one from Piraeus to Aegina the PHIVOS. Just like last year, this first part is not a tribute to the Nova Ferries ship, as I had already made a tribute post to PHIVOS last June. I did take photos of the PHIVOS' indoor areas, but they are the same as the ones from last year, so I will not upload them in this post. While I am describing the contents of this post, I also have a little note about my Tribute post policies: there will not be a second tribute to a ship which already has a Tribute post on my blog, with the sole exceptions being if that ship has changed her line of operations or her ownership within Greece, or if that ship has been retired (this will be a Farewell Tribute post, just like the one I made last January when the JET FERRY 1 of GA Ferries had been scrapped). However, the second part of the trip, which will be published next month, will indeed be a Tribute post for the ACHAEOS, as I have not yet made a Tribute post about that ship.

But now let's talk about this first trip of the 2016 season. It was a great joy to make my first trip of the season with the PHIVOS (almost 12 months after having my last trip in Greece, again with the same ship). 2016 marked her twelfth consecutive summer on the Saronic Gulf, though she had been operating only since early May, after she had suffered an engine failure during her annual refit which kept her out of service three months longer than expected. Fully repaired and refitted, she returned to service for her third straight summer under the Saronic Ferries joint venture, which still includes 2way Ferries but recently lost Hellenic Seaways, after the latter sold their only remaining Saronic Gulf ferry, the APOLLON HELLAS, to the former. This trip was exceptional as it was my first time at sea during that summer, and I managed to see many ships under different liveries, different names and occasionally different ownerships. The pictures below will describe you the experience of the first out of the two trips I had to and from the second nearest island from Piraeus, Aegina.

We arrived to Piraeus with a taxi cab. The first thing I saw for this year was the beautiful red hull of the PHIVOS, which was waiting for us in the E8 gate, which is the departure gate for the ships operating on the Saronic Gulf.

Right next to her was a familiar ship that I saw for the first time under a new livery, a new name and a new company. Indeed, the ship that had previously been operating with the name ALEXANDROS (bearing my name) had been sold to company Evoïkos Lines, in order to continue her service to the Northern Aegina ports of Souvala and Agia Marina. After only one summer with my WAYS, the ship's red hull became Evoïkos Lines' blue and yellow, and the name that she had been carrying for the first 15 years of her career and changed, as she became the AGIA MARINA AEGINIS.

Just a few seconds after seeing the recently-renamed small passenger ship, I saw the catamaran FLYINGCAT 6 of Hellenic Seaways arriving and preparing to dock in the E8 gate, after arriving from the island of Poros.

Right behind her was the cruise ship BRILLIANCE OF THE SEAS, owned by American cruise giants Royal Caribbean International. It was a very special moment to see that ship, as I had been on a cruise with her sister ship, the RADIANCE OF THE SEAS, in Alaska, just 11 days prior.

The FLYINGCAT 6 preparing to dock in Piraeus. She became the first Hellenic Seaways high speed craft that I saw carrying the new Cosmote livery. Indeed, after the Greek telephone services company changed its logo, all Hellenic Seaways high speed craft (the 'Highspeeds', the 'Flyingcats' and the 'Flying Dolphins') replaced their all-green liveries with a tri-colour one featuring different shades of green and blue, with the middle section of the hull being left in white and featuring Cosmote's updaded logo.

The FLYINGCAT 6 steadily reaching the E8 gate departure gate.

The AGIA MARINA AEGINIS watches the FLYINGCAT 6 docking.

The AGIA MARINA AEGINIS departs the port for Agia Marina. This was her ninth consecutive summer operating to Souvala and Agia Marina, and this year marked her first summer collaborating with her most recent fleetmate, the landing craft OSIOS DAVID, which was deployed on the same line following her company's new operations strategy.

The FLYINGCAT 6 almost reaching the E8 gate. 2016 marked her second straight season on the Saronic Gulf and her third in her career, as she had also operated there in 2013. Apart from these years, she had been deployed on her company's Sporades operations after she had entered service back in 2005.

The beautiful AGIA MARINA AEGINIS leaving the port of Piraeus.

Preparing to embark onboard the PHIVOS, which was at that moment the only one of the three ships that I had seen which did not change her appearance from last year.

While, in this case, the fourth ship I saw had also changed her livery. Indeed, the hydrofoil FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII of Hellenic Seaways, just like the FLYINGCAT 6, carried the new colours of Cosmote.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII and the FLYINGCAT 6 together in Piraeus.

The AGIA MARINA AEGINIS heads towards the port's exit.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII, a familiar face, awaiting her departure to Aegina. She operates on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri-Poros-Hydra-Ermioni-Spetses-Porto Cheli line.

The FLYINGCAT 6 having just docked in Piraeus.

After we entered the PHIVOS, I immediately went to the outdoor area in order to see the rest of the Piraeus scene. I was lucky enough to capture the small passenger boat GEORGIOS BROUFAS II of Broufas Vessels, which was arriving from Salamina.

On the other side, I could see the BLUE HORIZON of Blue Star Ferries, which operates on the Piraeus-Heraklion line under the ANEK-Attica Group joint venture.

And right behind her was a ship which I was able to see again after 9 years of waiting. This ship is the KYDON of ANEK Lines, previously known as the SOPHOCLES V, which operates on the Piraeus-Chania line, also under the ANEK-Attica Group joint venture.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII resting in Piraeus.

More South was the FESTOS PALACE of Minoan Lines, which has been operating for the past 15 years on the Piraeus-Heraklion line for her company.

The GEORGIOS BROUFAS II heading towards the E8 gate. Her fleetmate and sister ship, the GEORGIOS BROUFAS, did not operate in Salamina like she had been doing so for the past 18 years, but instead she was deployed on the Cyclades, on the Ios-Folegandros-Sikinos line.

The GEORGIOS BROUFAS II maneuvering in the port of Piraeus, with the two Hellenic Seaways Saronic Gulf high speed craft in the background.

Three different kinds of ships operating on the Saronic Gulf: the small passenger boat GEORGIOS BROUFAS II, the hydrofoil FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII and the catamaran FLYINGCAT 6.

The GEORGIOS BROUFAS II preparing to dock in Piraeus.

The GEORGIOS BROUFAS II having just docked.

The GEORGIOS BROUFAS II and the FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII seen together in Piraeus.

And as I kept looking more towards the South, I saw a very very familiar face, for the first time under a new livery. It was the IONIS of newly-established Leve Ferries, which operates on the Saronic Gulf for the second straight season of her legendary career.

The IONIS was sold surprisingly to her current owners during the winter of 2016, after 23 years with Tyrogalas Ferries, with 22 of them being spent on the Ionian Sea, and the last one on the Saronic Gulf, on the Piraeus-Aegina-Methana-Poros line.

I had previously traveled with the IONIS to Zakynthos when she was owned by Tyrogalas Ferries. This makes her one of the few ships which have operated to both islands I go to every summer.

The newest feature in the IONIS' funnels: the Leve Ferries logo, which is the same logo that water tankers owned by Aegina-based company Leventakis Shipping (Leve Ferries is a subsidiary of the latter) carry. The Leventakis family has been operating water tankers in Aegina for 50 years, and this year marked their first try in the passenger sector and in the Greek coastal service.

The IONIS maneuvering in Piraeus, right next to the PHIVOS.

Despite the fact she was sold to completely different owners, the IONIS kept her name (which she has been bearing for her entire career) and service on the Saronic Gulf, though she operates exclusively on the Piraeus-Aegina line, without making extensions to Methana and Poros like she did last year with Tyrogalas Ferries (which was branded as Ionis Ferries throughout the entire year during which the ship operated on the Saronic Gulf).

The legendary IONIS maneuvering in Piraeus.

The IONIS preparing to dock in Piraeus, during her second straight season on the Saronic Gulf and her first with her new owners.

The IONIS seen docking.

The IONIS having just docked in Piraeus.

This year marked the first time since 1991 that the IONIS had her owner's name printed in her hull, the last time being when she was operated by the now-defunct company Seven Islands Lines from 1989 to 1991.

The GEORGIOS BROUFAS II leaving for Salamina immediately afterwards.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII having just left the dock and maneuvering in order to head towards the port's exit. The PHIVOS also departed in the same time.

Seeing the IONIS as we head towards the port's exit.

The FLYINGCAT 6 resting in Piraeus until her next departure for the Saronic Gulf.

The BLUE HORIZON seen as well.

The FESTOS PALACE a bit more South.

After we passed by the E8 gate, I managed to see one of the saddest scenes currently happening in the port of Piraeus: the PANAGIA TINOU (ex-AGIOS GEORGIOS) of Ventouris Sea Lines remaining partly-submerged in the spot where she has been arrested since March 2015. After 13 months without any intervention from any party (except for the Piraeus Port Authority), the ship capsized in April 2016 and she has now been a hindrance to the port.

On a brighter side, I got a better view of the KYDON. She previously operated for ANEK Lines on the Adriatic Sea from 1999 to 2011, first on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Trieste line (1999-2004) and then on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Venice line. After that she had an unsuccessful charter with her sister ship, the LEFKA ORI (also owned by ANEK Lines), in South Korea with Jeju Cruise Line in 2012, which kept them inactive until they managed to return to Greece in late 2013. The SOPHOCLES V was then chartered for summer service in Italy with Go In Sardinia and later in Algeria with Algérie Ferries during the 2014 season, and in 2015 she returned to service for ANEK Lines with her current name (which is also the name that the first-ever ANEK Lines ship had). Operating on the Piraeus-Chania line, she has now reunited with her sister ship, which nowadays is the BLUE GALAXY of Blue Star Ferries and also operates under the ANEK-Attica Group joint venture.

The KYDON during her second consecutive season on the Piraeus-Chania line for ANEK Lines.

Such a shame to see one of the Greek coastal service's most historical ferries end her career like this. A return to service for the PANAGIA TINOU now seems like a completely long shot.

The BLUE HORIZON and the KYDON, two former Adriatic Sea ferries now both operating in Crete.

And their main competitor is this ship, the FESTOS PALACE, as well as her sister ship, the Minoan Lines flagship KNOSSOS PALACE.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII following us from right behind.

The IONIS and the FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII seen together in Piraeus.

The stern of the BRILLIANCE OF THE SEAS, which did nothing but remind me of my great experience with the RADIANCE OF THE SEAS.

The giant stern was then approached by the tiny passenger boat SALAMIS EXPRESS I of Salamis Express.

The SALAMIS EXPRESS I, which had previously operated on the Perama-Salamina line, was deployed on the Piraeus-Salamina line in order to replace the BOB SFOUGKARAKIS of Kavouris Shipping Company, which was deployed on the Perama-Salamina line.

The BRILLIANCE OF THE SEAS seen in Piraeus.

The little SALAMIS EXPRESS I heading towards the E8 gate.

The super luxurious cruise ship LE LYRIAL of French company Ponant was also berthed in Piraeus.

The FESTOS PALACE resting in Piraeus.

Another view of the LE LYRIAL.

The bow of the FESTOS PALACE.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII seen from right behind.

The old Piraeus factory building carrying the rusty advertisement sign of the project of the Piraeus Cultural Coast.

The two cruise ships, the BRILLIANCE OF THE SEAS and the LE LYRIAL, together in Piraeus.

A view of the headquarters of the Ministry of Shipping and Insular Policy.

The floating museum HELLAS LIBERTY, one of the only three Liberty ships still in existence worldwide, seen in her permanent docking spot, where she has been staying since 2010.

The HELLAS LIBERTY seen in her permanent docking area.

As we approached the port's exit, I saw the largest of the cruise ships in the port that day, namely the impressive CARNIVAL VISTA of Carnival Cruise Lines, which is their most recent newbuilding and their flagship. The fact that her home port is Piraeus makes the Greek cruising market quite a competitor on the Mediterranean Sea.

The stern of the CARNIVAL VISTA.

A Greek Navy frigate also resting in Piraeus.

The impressive CARNIVAL VISTA seen in Piraeus.

We now have fully exited the port, but another ship was preparing to enter. This was the double-ended ferry ACHAEOS of 2way Ferries, which operates with the PHIVOS under the Saronic Ferries joint venture.

Another view of the CARNIVAL VISTA.

The ACHAEOS preparing to enter the port of Piraeus. It is her third straight season operating on the Saronic Gulf, as well as her fourth overall, as she had also operated there in 2006, the first summer of her career, before transferring to the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line from 2007 to 2013.

The GEORGIOS BROUFAS II in the meantime heads for Salamina, where she stops by the ports of Kamatero and Paloukia.

The ACHAEOS enters the port of Piraeus.

The ACHAEOS seen entering the port of Piraeus. Since her return to the Saronic Gulf in 2014, she has been operating on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri line.

The ACHAEOS enters the port of Piraeus. Five hours later I would find myself traveling with her on my way back to Piraeus. More information about her will be revealed next month.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII, having now reached the open sea area, passes by us and quickly heads for Aegina.

The port of Piraeus seen from behind.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII, with the laid-up EUROPEAN EXPRESS of troubled company NEL Lines in the background (in the Drapetsona Repair Zone).

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII heads towards Aegina.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII heading at full-speed towards the port of Aegina.

Immediately after the FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII passed by the PHIVOS, another hydrofoil was seen on the Saronic Gulf, though she was heading in the opposite direction. This was the FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX, also of Hellenic Seaways, which was returning to Piraeus from Aegina.

Just like her fleetmate, the FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX also had a change in her livery. In fact, she was the first out of all Hellenic Seaways high speed to change her Cosmote livery between the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

After the FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX passed by us, it was the turn of a ship I had long been waiting to greet. It was the much talked-about landing craft OSIOS DAVID of Evoïkos Lines, which has been operating from Piraeus to Souvala since April 2016, making her the first ferry since 2010 to operate in that port, and also the first landing craft since 2007 to operate from the main port of Piraeus. Her arrival proved all doubters believing that the landing craft era on the Saronic Gulf was over wrong.

The OSIOS DAVID, which previously connected mainland Greece with the island of Evoia on the North Evoian Gulf, as well as Skiathos during the summer, is the first ferry in Souvala since the PHEDRA (previously owned by the PHIVOS' company, Nova Ferries), and the first landing craft operating in Piraeus since the AIAS of Hellenic Seaways, which was one of the most historical ferries operating on the Saronic Gulf.

Her deployment on the Piraeus-Northern Aegina line was very well received by Aegina residents, something which prompted her company to buy the other ship that was operating there, the ALEXANDROS of my WAYS, which is now the AGIA MARINA AEGINIS.

The beautiful OSIOS DAVID, which is one of the youngest landing craft in Greece.

The OSIOS DAVID heading from Souvala to Piraeus.

The OSIOS DAVID seen heading from Souvala to Piraeus.

The OSIOS DAVID approaching Piraeus.

As the PHIVOS approached Aegina, another ship was leaving the island. It was a Saronic Gulf veteran, the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS of ANES Ferries, operating on the Piraeus-Aegina line for the sixteenth consecutive season of her career.

The beautiful AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS heading towards Piraeus.

Despite her slow speed making her a major weakness among her Saronic Gulf competitors, the ship has constantly been fighting in the area, and the fact that she is still here means that she has been successful.

Crossing the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS on her way back to Piraeus.

Crossing the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS on her way to Piraeus.

Crossing the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS as she heads towards Piraeus.

The port of Aegina seen from far away.

The first Aegina lighthouse.

As we were preparing to dock in Aegina, another ship was preparing to disembark her passengers and vehicles. It was the third ship that was part of the Saronic Ferries joint venture, namely the POSIDON HELLAS of 2way Ferries, which was arriving from the port of Methana.

The POSIDON HELLAS preparing to dock in Aegina. This was her second summer with her new owners, following her sale from Hellenic Seaways after operating for the latter from 2005 to 2015.

We docked and immediately left the ship. I had a few seconds to take extra pictures of the port of Aegina. Right in front of me was the water tanker AEGINA of Hydrousa Maritime Company, which unusually was present in this port. She regularly docks in Aegina's Southernmost port, Perdika, and her spot in the port of Aegina is on most occasions covered by her fleetmate, the AEGINA II.

The POSIDON HELLAS ready to maneuver in Aegina.

As we took our car in order to head for our Aegina home, I saw another familiar local face from the island. This was the passenger boat AGISTRI EXPRESS I of Agistriotiki NE, which operates on the Aegina-Agistri line. Her livery was updated compared to the one she had last year, as her upper part of her hull was painted in white and her insignia indicated the two islands she connects during her daily service.

A view of the two ferries in the port of Aegina. The POSIDON HELLAS loads passengers and vehicles for Piraeus, while the PHIVOS immediately departs for Methana and Poros.

The amazing PHIVOS heading towards Methana.

There is no doubt about it: a trip with PHIVOS is always unique, especially when it is the first trip of a Greek summer. I also had the chance to see a couple of new ships and photograph them for the first time, while I was also able to take pictures of familiar ships under new liveries and, in some occasions, under new owners. There are many other things I saw that day, which will be revealed in the second part post next month (which will also be a tribute to the ferry ACHAEOS).

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