• Alexandros Vrailas

POSIDON HELLAS Tribute and Moments of Trip

Trip: 16 August 2016. From Aegina to Piraeus, with the POSIDON HELLAS of 2way Ferries.

The POSIDON HELLAS was originally planned to be built in 1981 as an electricity supplier under the name THALIS O MILISIOS II for OTE, but her construction was delayed for 17 years, before being completed in 1998 in Greece for Poseidon Consortium Shipping (ancestor of her current owners, 2way Ferries), under her current name. She is the first conventional double-ended ferry in the history of the Greek coastal service, and the second double-ended ferry in general, being delivered a few months after the SALAMINIA of Salaminia Ferries-K Star (currently the LIDO DI VENEZIA of Italian company ACT Ferries, since 2010). She was deployed on the Piraeus-Aegina-Poros-Hydra-Spetses line. Poseidon Consortium Shipping, owned by the shipowner Ioannis Papaïoannidis, was the main operator on the Saronic Gulf at the time of the POSIDON HELLAS' delivery, as it operated several well-known landing craft that had been deployed in the area for several decades, such as the APOSTOLOS P, the ODYSSEAS II and the HELLAS. One year later, the company acquired another conventional ferry, the APOLLON HELLAS, which had originally been built in Greece and operated for the company Akouriki Shipping Company on the Saronic Gulf from her delivery in 1990 to 1995 before being sold to South Korean company He Il. This ship would go on to be a fleetmate of the POSIDON HELLAS under several other owners, most recently being reunited through the company 2way Ferries.

Upon entering service on the Saronic Gulf, the ship was deemed a success due to her valuable assets as a double-ended ferry, as they fitted with the difficult and demanding Saronic Gulf ports. She spent her first two summer seasons with the Poseidon Consortium Shipping, before the latter was purchased by the powerful Minoan Flying Dolphins in 1999. All ships operating on the Saronic Gulf for Poseidon Consortium Shipping as well as competitors Agapitos Express Ferries, Akouriki Shipping Company, Lefakis Shipping and Maltezos Shipping were bought by the company, and were assigned to operate under the Saronikos Ferries division. The POSIDON HELLAS kept her name and began service on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri-Methana-Poros-Hydra-Spetses line under the colours of Saronikos Ferries. As Minoan Flying Dolphins (which became Hellas Flying Dolphins in 2002) was declining, several landing craft of Saronikos Ferries left the area, with only conventional ferries like the POSIDON HELLAS, the APOLLON HELLAS, the ARTEMIS and the NEFELI (now the LA GALERA of Venezuelan company Navibus), the SARONIKOS (now the GRAMVOUSA of Cretan Daily Cruises) and the AIAS (now the ELOBEY X of Equatorial Guinean company Somagec) being the remaining ships in the area. All of them joined Hellas Flying Dolphins' successor, Hellenic Seaways, in 2005, and continued to operate on the Saronic Gulf. The POSIDON HELLAS operated on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri-Methana-Poros-Hydra-Spetses line. In 2008, her service was limited to the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri-Methana-Poros line. In 2014, she joined the newly-established Saronic Ferries joint venture, which was composed of her company Hellenic Seaways (with both the POSIDON HELLAS and the ARTEMIS which operated in the Saronic Gulf during the 2014 season) and competitors Nova Ferries (with their sole ferry, the PHIVOS) and 2way Ferries (with their new introduction at the time, the double-ended ferry ACHAEOS, which returned to the Saronic Gulf in 2014, after having spent her first summer season in the area, back in 2006).

In 2015, shortly before the high season began, Hellenic Seaways shocked the Greek coastal service world by selling the ship to fellow Saronic Ferries collaborator 2way Ferries. This move was interesting not only because it marked the expansion of 2way Ferries' fleet and influence on the Saronic Gulf (and thus ending Hellenic Seaways' presence in the area with conventional ferries), but also because it marked her second stint under the shipowner Papaïoannidis, whose family is at the charge of 2way Ferries. She therefore returned to her original shipowner for the first time since leaving Poseidon Consortium Shipping in 1999. The following year, she was once again reunited with the APOLLON HELLAS, which was also purchased by 2way Ferries from Hellenic Seaways. Both ships, along with the ACHAEOS and the PHIVOS, are set to operate under Saronic Ferries for the 2017 season.

Now that the full history of the ship has been provided to you, I can now talk about my trip with her, as well as its importance. Indeed, it was my last for the 2016 season, as I was leaving Aegina for Athens in order to take the plane back to New York City. It marked my first trip with this ship since 2012, when I had traveled on her to perform the opposite trip, which is going from Piraeus to the island of Aegina. Just like my last trip of the 2015 season which was performed with the PHIVOS of Nova Ferries, this trip with the POSIDON HELLAS was very emotional as it gave me the chance to see all ships for the last time for 2016 or even in general (for some particular cases) as I was leaving Greece for my final year in the United States. As I am set to see Greece again in the next couple of days, this post is also being published in order to remind both you and myself of the good moments I had in the Greek coastal service for the 2016 summer season.

The POSIDON HELLAS was arriving from Methana, as she had stayed in Poros during the night and was performing this day's first trip from the latter to the Peloponnesian town, Aegina and Piraeus.

The beautiful POSIDON HELLAS approaching the port of Aegina, during her second consecutive season with 2way Ferries (and fourth overall under the ownership of the Papaïoannidis family).

The POSIDON HELLAS approaching the port of Aegina.

The POSIDON HELLAS almost ready to prepare to dock in the port of Aegina.

The POSIDON HELLAS ready to undergo her maneuvering procedure in order to dock in Aegina.

With several passengers awaiting her final docking, the POSIDON HELLAS prepares to maneuver in Aegina.

The beautiful Greek-built POSIDON HELLAS having completed her maneuvering procedure in the port of Aegina, as she is due to dock with her bow's ramp in the port's pier.

The POSIDON HELLAS almost ready to dock with her bow's ramp (a great asset for a double-ended ferry) in the port of Aegina.

The ship finally docked and several passengers entered it. Unfortunately, due to a huge amount of crowding, I was not able to take pictures of the ship's indoor areas, but was still able to provide pictures from her exterior areas, which are shown below.

The ship's crowded garage. In the background you can see the ship's stern ramp, which is usually used when she docks in Piraeus.

The POSIDON HELLAS has three decks that are accessible to passengers: Deck 5 (indoor lounge area), Deck 6 (indoor and outdoor lounge areas as well as the ship's bridge) and Deck 7 (a small outdoor seating area). This picture is from Deck 6's sun deck area which was completely crowded due to the high number of passengers coming from Poros.

The outdoor bar on Deck 6, which is a small Everest shop providing several snacks and soft drinks.

A view of the ship's port side funnel and inflatable life-rafts, right next to the outdoor seating area on Deck 6. On the right, in the background, are the island of Moni and the Peloponnese (including the port she called before arriving in Aegina, Methana).

This picture is from the ship's highest deck, Deck 7, where a small outdoor passenger seating area offers the chance to see most of the sea, as well as the ship's two white and blue funnels.

The front view of the small outdoor passenger seating area on Deck 7, featuring the ship's foremast.

As I was looking around the seating area on Deck 7, I was caught by surprise upon seeing the arrival of the hydrofoil FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX of Hellenic Seaways, which was arriving from her first morning departure from Piraeus.

The speedy FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX, which used to be a fleetmate of the POSIDON HELLAS under both Minoan Flying Dolphins/Hellas Flying Dolphins and Hellenic Seaways, approaches the port of Aegina.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX has entered the small pier of the port of Aegina, and is now ready to dock.

A few minutes after the FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX docked, the POSIDON HELLAS departed the port of Aegina, undergoing a quick maneuvering procedure so that her bow could now face the port of Piraeus. Here was one of my last pictures of the island for the 2016 season, as both the main city and a small portion of the port are being shown.

The water tanker AEGINA II of Hydrousa Maritime Company, which provides daily water supply, heads for her morning call to the town of Aspropyrgos, located in the Elefsina Bay.

And she is followed by another water tanker from Aegina, the IOANNIS L of competitor Leventakis Shipping, who also owns the Greek coastal service company Leve Ferries.

The IOANNIS L heading for Aspropyrgos.

On the other side of the POSIDON HELLAS was the AEGINA II, also heading for Aspropyrgos.

And the POSIDON HELLAS passes by the AEGINA II, which I therefore got to see for the last time for the 2016 season.

Soon after passing by the IOANNIS L and the AEGINA II, the POSIDON HELLAS met with the first ferry heading from Piraeus to Aegina. It was the IONIS of Leve Ferries, a close fleetmate of the IOANNIS L.

The legendary IONIS was operating for the second straight season on the Saronic Gulf, while also spending her first season with her new owners Leve Ferries, who had acquired the ship earlier in 2016 from Tyrogalas Ferries.

This picture turns out to be somehow symbolic. Indeed, it is my last of the ship for 2016, but it could be my last one of her under the livery of Leve Ferries or while operating on the Saronic Gulf. This is the case because there have been conflicts between Leve Ferries and Tyrogalas Ferries regarding debts owned by the former to the latter following the ship's purchase. These conflicts have kept the ship laid-up in Salamina, and it remains uncertain on whether the ship will return to service for the 2017 season. There are several rumours suggesting that Leve Ferries have ceased operations and that the IONIS has returned to Tyrogalas Ferries, but nothing has been materialised yet. Nevertheless, while thinking at the time this picture was taken that I would be seeing the ship in 2017, I waved a goodbye at her while also hoping to travel aboard her this year, as it marks her fortieth birthday. This seems as a long shot unfortunately, but the future could hold something positive for this legendary ferry, hopefully.

As soon as the IONIS passed, she was followed by the POSIDON HELLAS' Saronic Ferries collaborator, the PHIVOS of Nova Ferries, which was also heading from Piraeus to the island of Aegina.

The great PHIVOS, which was spending her twelfth season on the Saronic Gulf, heads towards Aegina. Seeing her for the last time in 2016 reminded me of the emotional and nostalgic trip I spent aboard her in 2015, when I made my final trip in Greece for that year, again from Aegina to Piraeus.

The PHIVOS seen on the Saronic Gulf.

Another view of the PHIVOS as she heads for Aegina.

The PHIVOS passes by and continues her journey towards Aegina.

And this is my last picture of the ship for 2016, and I look forward to seeing (and eventually traveling onboard her) this summer. I still waved a temporary goodbye to her, with the hope of seeing her again very soon.

The simple stern of the POSIDON HELLAS proudly carrying the Greek flag across the Saronic Gulf.

After the PHIVOS, a third ship was heading from Piraeus to Aegina. This time, it was the slowest ferry of the Saronic Gulf, the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS of ANES Ferries.

Despite her slow speed, the ship is much appreciated by the residents of Aegina due to her loyal and reliable service, which she has been providing since 2001. Only the POSIDON HELLAS had the most experience of any ferry on the Saronic Gulf during the 2016 season.

And I also waved a goodbye to the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS, with the hope of seeing her very soon, in what will be her seventeenth summer season on the Saronic Gulf.

The POSIDON HELLAS was soon approaching the port of Piraeus, where several cruise ferries were being seen on the Glyfada coast heading for their respective destinations in the Aegean Sea. I still managed to see another ship operating on the Saronic Gulf. It happened to be the catamaran FLYINGCAT 3 of Hellenic Seaways, which operates on the Piraeus-Poros-Hydra-Ermioni-Spetses-Porto Cheli line.

This was the ship's first season operating full-time on the Saronic Gulf. Indeed, the year before (2015), she combined her services to the Cyclades (on the Piraeus-Serifos-Sifnos-Koufonisi line) with a few crossings on the Piraeus-Hydra-Spetses line, providing additional service to these islands which were also being served by two other Hellenic Seaways catamarans, the FLYINGCAT 1 (which was sold in 2016 to Turkish company Bursa Deniz Otobüsleri) and the FLYINGCAT 6.

The FLYINGCAT 3 heading for her first destination: the island of Poros. It was also her first season carrying the Cosmote livery, which was applied to all Hellenic Seaways high speed craft.

The POSIDON HELLAS entered the port of Piraeus. As usual, the research vessel AEGEO of the company ELKETHE was moored near the entrance pier.

The well-known headquarters of the Ministry of Shipping and Island Policy, located inside the main port of Piraeus.

Along with the well-known Liberty ship HELLAS LIBERTY (one of the only three Liberty ships alive to date), which has been a floating museum in Piraeus since 2010.

On the starboard side of the POSIDON HELLAS was the port's first cruise terminal, which featured the French super yacht cruise ship LE LYRIAL, owned by the French company Ponant.

While on the left side passengers were able to see the FESTOS PALACE of Minoan Lines, which operates on the Piraeus-Heraklion line.

Another picture of the LE LYRIAL.

Right beside her was the much larger cruise ship NORWEGIAN JADE, owned by American cruise giants Norwegian Cruise Line.

Another view of the FESTOS PALACE, which is also receiving bunkers.

The very modern funnel of the FESTOS PALACE, featuring the Minoan Lines historic logo: the representation of the fresco of the Minoan Lilly Prince, which is found in the archaeological site of Knossos in Crete.

Behind the FESTOS PALACE was one of her competitors: the BLUE HORIZON of Blue Star Ferries, also operating on the Piraeus-Heraklion line.

And right beside her were two veteran ferries, one that was active and the other one that was nearing her end. On the left was the partly-submerged PANAGIA TINOU of Ventouris Sea Lines, while on her right was the VITSENTZOS KORNAROS of LANE Sea Lines.

A view of four ferries docked together in Piraeus: the BLUE HORIZON, her fleetmate, the BLUE GALAXY (also owned by Blue Star Ferries), the PANAGIA TINOU and the VITSENTZOS KORNAROS.

The VITSENTZOS KORNAROS in Piraeus, in what was her eight consecutive season operating on the Peloponnese-Kythira-Antikythira lifeline. Her summer season in 2016 was extremely successful, and this was a defining moment for the ferry, which was celebrating her fortieth anniversary that year.

In contrast to the VITSENTZOS KORNAROS, the PANAGIA TINOU, which had been laid-up since early 2015, had sunk inside her lay-up spot in April 2016, and therefore not only ended any hope of her being reactivated, but also was the subject of much scrutiny by both Greek passengers and foreign tourists, as she was partly-submerged inside Greece's biggest port. She was sold for scrap the following year, and left the port of Piraeus after a legendary 25-year-long career spent on the Greek coastal service.

The two cruise ships, the NORWEGIAN JADE and the LE LYRIAL, together in Piraeus.

Another view of the FESTOS PALACE, which has been on the Piraeus-Heraklion line since 2001.

The BLUE HORIZON alongside her Cretan fleetmate, the BLUE GALAXY, which was operating on the Piraeus-Chania line for the second straight season under Blue Star Ferries.

The beautiful BLUE HORIZON, during her third straight season on the Piraeus-Heraklion line.

Along with her former Adriatic Sea competitor, the BLUE GALAXY. Indeed, this ferry was previously the LEFKA ORI of ANEK Lines and operated on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Trieste line from 2000 to 2004 and then on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Venice line from 2005 to 2011. After a failed charter in South Korea in 2012, she was finally reactivated in late 2014 and returned to service for Blue Star Ferries in 2015. She became the first ship of the company to operate on the line since 2011, back when the BLUE HORIZON was operating there.

In the meantime, the POSIDON HELLAS was heading for the E8 gate, where all the Saronic Gulf ferries and high speed craft depart. There, her fleetmate, the ACHAEOS, was waiting for her.

Another view of the two Japanese-built Cretan ferries of Blue Star Ferries, the BLUE HORIZON and the BLUE GAALXY.

Another view of the BLUE HORIZON, which has been in Greece since 1998. She initially started her career as the SUPERFERRY HELLAS of Strintzis Lines, but after the latter was taken over by Attica Group in 2000, she was transferred to Blue Star Ferries and was renamed BLUE HORIZON. She operated initially under the Blue Ferries division from 2000 to 2004, before also joining Blue Star Ferries from 2004 onwards.

Another picture of the BLUE GALAXY.

The FESTOS PALACE docked in Piraeus.

The POSIDON HELLAS is now ready to enter the E8 gate, where the ACHAEOS and the landing craft OSIOS DAVID of Evoïkos Lines are moored.

The impressive and modern ACHAEOS, operating for the third straight year (and fourth overall) on the Saronic Gulf, on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri line. Her success in the area led to the reacquisition of the POSIDON HELLAS (and later of the APOLLON HELLAS) by 2way Ferries from Hellenic Seaways.

In the meantime, the small passenger boat ELENA F of Elena F Shipping was departing Piraeus in order to head for the island of Salamina.

A view of the stern of the OSIOS DAVID, in what turned out to be my last picture of the ship under that name. Indeed, her first season on the Piraeus-Northern Aegina line (serving the ports of Souvala and Agia Marina) in 2016 turned out to be her last. She was sold in 2017 to the company Kerkyra Lines in order to operate on the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line on the Ionian Sea. The same company had acquired her former fleetmate, the AMALTHEIA, which was also due to operate in Souvala and Agia Marina alongside the OSIOS DAVID for the 2017 season. Unfortunately, the island of Aegina will not be seeing any of these two ships, as both of them are in Corfu under a new owner and two new names. Indeed, the OSIOS DAVID has been renamed MENEKRATIS and the AMALTHEIA has been renamed ALKINOOS. Therefore, the only ship set to operate for Evoïkos Lines on the Saronic Gulf for 2017 is the small passenger boat AGIA MARINA AEGINIS (shortly seen behind the OSIOS DAVID), but no ferry will be present. Quite a shame after a successful ferry comeback on a line which had been waiting six years for such a return.

The ACHAEOS standing right next to the POSIDON HELLAS as the latter is undergoing her maneuvering procedure in order to dock in Piraeus.

The ELENA F heads for the island of Salamina.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX, which had managed to return from Aegina earlier than the POSIDON HELLAS.

A final view of the VITSENTZOS KORNAROS in Piraeus. So far, her 2017 season has been disastrous, as she has suffered a major engine failure and all her scheduled trips on the Piraeus-Gytheion-Kalamata-Kythira-Antikythira-Kissamos line have been temporarily canceled. The islands' residents and mayors have called for a replacement as the ship is aging and seems to be unfit to serve the demanding lifeline. She is due to return to service in early July, but only the future will show how much she has left on the tank, and whether she will suffer the same fate (or, and hopefully, not) as the doomed PANGIA TINOU.

The BLUE HORIZON seen yet again.

As well as the ACHAEOS, while the POSIDON HELLAS is preparing to dock in Piraeus.

The POSIDON HELLAS successfully docked in Piraeus, thus releasing passengers and vehicles. Our trip has come to an end, and so has the 2016 summer season for me. Here is a final view of the ship's stern, displaying the ship's name and port of registry, Piraeus, in Greek.

There was no doubt about it: just like last year, this trip was rather emotional than adventurous, as it would be the last time that I would see some ships in Greece, as well as some ships under their previous owners prior to sales in 2017. But making a final trip for 2016 with the simple and calm POSIDON HELLAS was the ideal way to end yet another summer, in which I did not see as many new ships as I did in 2015, but rather got a taste of the ships I have known for years under different liveries, different owners and different operations.

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