• Alexandros Vrailas

ADAMANTIOS KORAIS Tribute and Moments of Trip

Trip: 26 July 2017. From Piraeus to Sifnos, via Serifos, with the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS of Zante Ferries.

The ADAMANTIOS KORAIS seen in Sifnos on 29 July 2017.

The ADAMANTIOS KORAIS was built in 1987 in Japan, as the VISVA for the Japanese company Higashi Nihon Ferry, alongside a sister ship, the VENA. Both ferries were deployed on the Aomori-Hakodate line. The VISVA however was sold in 1999 to fellow Japanese company Kyushi Orange Ferry, where she was renamed KYUSHU. She was subsequently deployed on the Yawatahama-Usuki line, where she remained until 2007.

That year, she reunited with her sister ship, the VENA, when both ferries were acquired by the Greek company Zante Ferries, being renamed ADAMANTIOS KORAIS and ODYSSEAS ELYTIS, respectively. That company, also known as ANMEZ, was founded in 1991 and initially operated Ro-Ro service on the Kyllini-Zakynthos line with the ships AGIOS DIONISIOS I (1991-1995) and later the AGIOS DIONISIOS S (1995-1999). In 1999, they introduced passenger service by buying the also-Japanese-built ROYAL KAWANOE, which became the DIONISIOS SOLOMOS. Four years later, the converted ANDREAS KALVOS joined the DIONISIOS SOLOMOS on the Ionian Sea. As the company began to see an economic rise, it began to seek for other areas to operate in, beyond their base in Zakynthos. After deciding to start operations on the demanding Cyclades Islands, the company decided to purchase the two Japanese ferries rather than their first option, which was the Finnish ferry ROSLAGEN (which went on to become the IONIAN SPIRIT of the now-defunct Agoudimos Lines from 2007 to 2016).

The ADAMANTIOS KORAIS arrived initially in Zakynthos, then underwent an extensive conversion in Drapetsona and in Salamina, which lasted almost a year. The ship was completely modified, having acquired an upgraded stern and very luxurious passenger amenities. Upon the completion of her conversion in 2008, whereupon she began carrying the Greek flag under the Piraeus registry, she became the company's flagship. Because of the cost of her conversion, the ODYSSEAS ELYTIS never underwent her own and remained laid-up in Zakynthos before being finally sold in 2013 to Indonesian company PT Munic Line. The ADAMANTIOS KORAIS was deployed on the Piraeus-Paros-Naxos-Ios-Santorini line, becoming the first ship of Zante Ferries to operate on the Aegean Sea.

Her stay there proved to be short however, as, in 2009, she was transferred to the Western Cyclades lifeline, the Piraeus-Kythnos-Serifos-Sifnos-Milos-Kimolos-Folegandros-Sikinos-Ios-Santorini line, where she remains to date. She also cooperated with the ferry operating on the same line at the time, the AGIOS GEORGIOS (later the PANAGIA TINOU) of Ventouris Sea Lines, under the Cyclades Ferries joint venture, which lasted from 2010 to 2014. After the departure of the latter from the line after the 2014 season, she was joined by her fleetmate, the ANDREAS KALVOS, for the 2015 and 2016 summer seasons. In 2017, the recently-converted DIONISIOS SOLOMOS was deployed on the Piraeus-Kythnos-Serifos-Sifnos-Milos-Kimolos-Folegandros-Sikinos-Ios line, with the ANDREAS KALVOS returning to the Ionian Sea.

The ADAMANTIOS KORAIS has been among the best day ferries in Greece since her arrival on the Aegean Sea, and has won the hearts of the residents of the Western Cyclades islands she has been serving for so many years. She has been praised for her regular and efficient service, her ability to operate throughout the whole year (since the departure of the AGIOS GEORGIOS she has only stopped service during her annual refits, which last less than one month per year), and for her excellent passenger accommodation. Despite being 30 years old at the time I traveled on her, she seems to hide her age very well, looking pretty much like a newly-built ferry. Her conversion, despite costing the career her sister ship was due to make in Greece, is considered to be one of the most successful in Greek coastal service history.

So this is a quick summary of the ship's career up until the 2017 season, which marked her tenth season operating on the Cyclades and ten years since her first arrival in Greece from Japan. I can thus talk to you about my trip with her. It became my first-ever trip with a Western Cyclades island serving as a destination, as I was leaving Piraeus for the island of Sifnos, where I was to spend four days with my family. Moreover, the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS was the second conventional ferry that I traveled with on the Cyclades, the first being the BLUE STAR PATMOS of Blue Star Ferries. She was also the third ferry from Zante Ferries on which I traveled (I had previously traveled with the DIONISIOS SOLOMOS and the ANDREAS KALVOS from Kyllini to Zakynthos and back), meaning I had now traveled with all the ships of the current Zante Ferries fleet. Also, it marked my first time ever traveling on a Zante Ferries ship outside of Zakynthos and the Ionian Sea, which is the home base of the company.

The ADAMANTIOS KORAIS was due to depart Piraeus in the afternoon, at 14:00. As we arrived shortly prior to the ferry's departure, I was not able to photograph her in Piraeus. We immediately entered her garage and I subsequently had the chance to take pictures of her indoor and outdoor areas, as well as of the ships that were located in Piraeus at the same time as us.

Upon entering the ship from the stern ramp, escalators lead passengers to the Hermes Saloon, where aircraft-style seats are located. All of them feature the logo of Zante Ferries on the top middle section.

The sign indicating the Hermes Saloon, which is named after the Greek God Hermes.

More forward is the Apollon Saloon, which features more lounges and comfortable seats.

An extension of the Apollon Saloon.

The deckplan of the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS.

The exterior sun deck on Deck 5.

The VIP Area Zeus Saloon, featuring orange aircraft-style seats.

The sign indicating the Zeus Saloon.

Next to the Zeus Saloon is an alley leading to the ship's cabins. Although there are not many of them, they are useful for passengers staying onboard overnight, with most of them being the ones stopping at the most distant islands from Piraeus, such as Folegandros, Sikinos, Ios and Santorini.

The forward section of the Zeus Saloon, which goes up until the ship's front windows.

A view of the nice reception desk of the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS, which features a ceiling with colourful lights.

The ship's Self-Service restaurant.

The ship's Self-Service restaurant and its adjacent canteen area.

The starboard side outdoor alley on Deck 5.

The stern area of the Deck 6 exterior section, featuring a nice sun deck and the vessel's security lifeboat.

The starboard side alley on Deck 6, where the ship's two funnels are located.

The ship's bridge, alongside life-rafts.

The sun deck on Deck 5, with a spiral staircase leading to Deck 6.

The ship's well-known stern sun deck, which has the shape of a semi-circle and is parallel to the blue ground, which has dozens of orange round tables spread over the area.

Between the bridge and the funnel, the accommodation deck features the crew cabins. Above them is a big orange sign featuring the ship's name in Greek characters. The ADAMANTIOS KORAIS is named after the eponymous Greek intellectual who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries, and who was known as one of the major figures of the Greek Enlightenment era.

The ship's accommodation deck and exterior alley on the port side, featuring some life-rafts.

On the other side of the E9 gate (from which the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS departs), one is able to see the ships that operate in Crete. The only ship that was present there was the BLUE HORIZON of Blue Star Ferries, which is deployed on the Piraeus-Heraklion line.

On the starboard side of the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS is the E8 gate, where ferries that operate on the Saronic Gulf dock. At the corner of this gate were three different passenger ships that operate for different owners and on different lines: the AGIA MARINA AEGINIS of Evoïkos Lines, the ELENA F of Elena F Shipping and the hydrofoil FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX of Hellenic Seaways.

The AGIA MARINA AEGINIS, built in 2000 and formerly known as the ALEXANDROS, operates on the Piraeus-Northern Aegina line, serving the ports of Souvala and Agia Marina since 2008, and since 2016 under her current name and owners.

The ELENA F, built two years before the AGIA MARINA AEGINIS, operates on the Piraeus-Salamina line.

The hydrofoil FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX, the youngest one of her type in Greece, serves the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri-Poros-Hydra-Ermioni-Spetses-Porto Cheli line.

The BLUE HORIZON, also built in Japan, in the same year as the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS, 1987.

The AGIA MARINA AEGINIS was acquired by Evoïkos Lines in 2016, after the company had deployed one of its ferries, the OSIOS DAVID, on the same line. Despite the latter's success, she was surprisingly sold to Kerkyra Lines, operating since the summer of 2017 as the MENEKRATIS on the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line. As a result, there was no ship on the line, with the exception of the AGIA MARINA AEGINIS, although the latter is not a ferry.

As I was seeing the three ships described to you above, the hydrofoil FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA of Aegean Flying Dolphins was heading towards the dock, after she had returned from her service to the islands of Agistri and Aegina.

The FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA heading for docking, alongside the FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX in the background.

Towards the port's exit, I was able to see another ship owned by Hellenic Seaways: the ARIADNE, which operated on the Piraeus-Chios-Mytilene line.

The FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA having just docked in Piraeus.

While seeing the FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA dock, I then surprisingly saw the ferry APOLLON HELLAS of 2way Ferries arriving and maneuvering in Piraeus.

Another view of the FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX resting in Piraeus.

The APOLLON HELLAS preparing to dock in Piraeus. 2017 marked her first season operating on the Saronic Gulf for her new owners, having previously served the area under the colours of Hellenic Seaways (2005-2013) and their predecessors Minoan Flying Dolphins/Hellas Flying Dolphins (1999-2005, under the Saronikos Ferries division).

Just like her longtime collaborator, the POSIDON HELLAS, the APOLLON HELLAS was sold by Hellenic Seaways to 2way Ferries. The former was sold in 2015, while the latter was sold in 2016 while operating on the Agios Konstantinos-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos line. She completed that year's summer on that line before returning to the Saronic Gulf in 2017.

The APOLLON HELLAS heading towards the dock of the E8 gate in Piraeus.

The FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA departing Piraeus shortly after docking.

The APOLLON HELLAS almost docked in Piraeus.

A view of the cruise ship MSC POESIA, owned by Swiss-Italian company MSC Cruises.

The FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA departing Piraeus for Aegina and Agistri, with the APOLLON HELLAS seen in the background.

The FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA leaving Piraeus for Aegina and Agistri, with the APOLLON HELLAS seen in the background.

The FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA leaving Piraeus for Aegina and Agistri.

The APOLLON HELLAS having just docked in Piraeus.

The FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA departing Piraeus for Aegina and Agistri.

Another view of the APOLLON HELLAS in Piraeus.

The ELENA F departing Piraeus as well.

The ELENA F departing Piraeus and heading towards Salamina.

The ELENA F leaving Piraeus and heading towards Salamina.

The ELENA F departing Piraeus for Salamina.

Another view of the resting APOLLON HELLAS.

The ELENA F heading towards Salamina.

The APOLLON HELLAS seen in Piraeus.

We began to leave Piraeus. As soon as we began heading towards the exit of the port, the BLUE HORIZON could be seen a bit better than before.

In front of the BLUE HORIZON was her direct competitor, the impressive FESTOS PALACE of Minoan Lines, which also operates on the Piraeus-Heraklion line.

The APOLLON HELLAS seen once again.

Another view of the AGIA MARINA AEGINIS.

The FESTOS PALACE resting in Piraeus.

Just like the APOLLON HELLAS.

Another view of the BLUE HORIZON, which was spending her fourth straight season on the Piraeus-Heraklion line.

The impressive BLUE HORIZON, in her twentieth summer in Greece, having first arrived under the name SUPERFERRY HELLAS for Strintzis Lines, before her company was transferred to Blue Star Ferries in 2000, under whom she got her current name. It has to be noted however that she spent two summers (2011 and 2012) laid-up in Syros due to the Greek economic crisis impacting her company, before fortunately returning to service in 2013.

The SALAMIS EXPRESS I of Salamis Express heading towards the E8 gate. She operates on the Piraeus-Salamina line, just like the ELENA F.

The FESTOS PALACE seen in Piraeus, in what was her seventeenth summer on the Piraeus-Heraklion line, the only one she has served in her entire career, alongside her older sister ship and fleetmate, the KNOSSOS PALACE.

The SALAMIS EXPRESS I heading towards the dock of the E8 gate. 2017 was her second year in a row operating on the Piraeus-Salamina line, having also done so in the first summers of her career from 1996 to 2000.

One final view of the APOLLON HELLAS.

As well as of the BLUE HORIZON.

Another picture of the FESTOS PALACE.

The FESTOS PALACE seen in Piraeus.

The FESTOS PALACE seen resting in Piraeus.

As we begin to head outside of the port, we start to approach the ARIADNE.

Passing by the FESTOS PALACE.

The FESTOS PALACE seen as we start passing by her.

Another view of the FESTOS PALACE.

The stern of the ARIADNE.

The FESTOS PALACE in Piraeus.

We are beginning to pass by the ARIADNE. This ferry, just like the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS, was built in Japan. She arrived in Greece a year earlier than the latter and began service in 2007, the year during which the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS underwent a major part of her conversion.

After failing to find her place within her company's plans and following charters to Minoan Lines, ANEK Lines and Algérie Ferries, the ferry finally cemented her place in 2013, being deployed on the Piraeus-Chios-Mytilene line instead of the NISSOS CHIOS. She has been extremely successful there, being much acclaimed by the Northeast Aegean Sea residents.

The very modern funnel of the ARIADNE, featuring the well-known three dolphins of Hellenic Seaways.

Passing by the ARIADNE.

The beautiful bow of the ARIADNE.

As we almost head towards the exit of the port of Piraeus, another ship could be seen resting. This time, it was the SUPERFAST XII of Superfast Ferries, which operates on the Cyclades and mainly on the Dodecanese.

Another view of the ARIADNE. The vessel is currently under charter for the winter to Italian company Grandi Navi Veloci. She is set to return to Greece in February in order to undergo her refit and hopefully return to service on the Aegean Sea.

The ARIADNE seen in Piraeus.

The SUPERFAST XII resting in Piraeus.

The SUPERFAST XII has been operating on the Piraeus-Syros-Amorgos-Patmos-Leros-Kos-Rhodes line since 2015. The 2017 summer season included stops in Kalymnos for the first time.

The bow of the SUPERFAST XII, which is also the flagship of her company.

Passing by the SUPERFAST XII, whose future in Greece is uncertain due to the reported sale of Hellenic Seaways by Grimaldi Group to Attica Group, with a sale of the ship to the former being included in the deal.

The SUPERFAST XII resting in Piraeus prior to her next departure.

After exiting the port of Piraeus, we spent more than 90 minutes on the Attica coast, which goes from Piraeus to Lavrion, where one can subsequently spot the island of Makronissos. We were heading immediately for Serifos as the ship was not calling Kythnos that day. Along the Attica coast, I had the chance to see several ships returning from the Cyclades to Piraeus, including some that operate on the Western Cyclades, just like the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS.

The first ship that emerged in front of the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS shortly after our exit from the port was the high speed catamaran SUPER JET of Sea Jets, which was returning from Serifos.

The SUPER JET is the high speed craft (excluding hydrofoils) that had, as of the 2017 season, the most experience in Greek waters. She has been active since she was built in 1995, when she started service with the now-defunct Strintzis Lines. She has been operating with Sea Jets since 2004, when she became the first ship of the then newly-established company.

Crossing the SUPER JET as she returns to Piraeus.

The SUPER JET heading towards Piraeus. She is also deployed on the Western Cyclades, serving the Piraeus-Serifos-Sifnos-Milos-Kimolos-Folegandros-Ios-Santorini line. She therefore called in all islands that are also part of the itinerary of the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS, except for Kythnos and Sikinos. Though she did operate in Sikinos in 2016, she stopped doing so the following year.

Immediately after the SUPER JET passed by the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS, two ships showed up: a tug and a rather bizarre-looking passenger ship.

The tug boat was transporting a high speed craft. I later learned that this high speed craft was called the IRIS JET and was registered in Kos. She apparently was supposed to operate on the Dodecanese but suffered an engine failure.

The tug boat with the IRIS JET. She was towed up until Perama, where she currently is undergoing refit. I do not know any information about the ship and her company yet, but I expect to see more details about her if she (most likely) sails in 2018.

Next up was a familiar face: the great BLUE STAR PATMOS of Blue Star Ferries. The ship, which operated on the Piraeus-Syros-Paros-Naxos-Donousa-Amorgos-Ios-Santorini-Anafi-Astypalaia line for the the third straight season, was heading back to her base port.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS heading towards Piraeus.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS was, until my trip with the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS, the only conventional ferry on which I had traveled on the Cyclades and on the Aegean Sea outside of the Saronic Gulf. Indeed, I had already traveled with her twice: the first time from 7-8 July 2015 from Piraeus to Santorini, and the second time from Santorini to Ios sixteen days prior to my trip with the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS.

Crossing the amazing BLUE STAR PATMOS near the Attica coast.

The 2017 summer season was another success for the ship. However, she unfortunately ended her service earlier than expected due to her accident in Ios in August 2017, when she grounded off near the port's entrance. She is currently undergoing repairs in Elefsina, and is normally due to return to service next month, in February.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS returning to Piraeus. She was usually staying three hours in that port, before her late afternoon and evening service to the Cyclades Islands.

Another view of this fantastic ferry.

After seeing the BLUE STAR PATMOS, the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS began to pass by the cruise ship SALAMIS PHILOXENIA of Cypriot company Salamis Cruise Lines.

Passing by the SALAMIS PHILOXENIA, which operates on the Aegean Sea during the spring, summer, and early fall.

Another view of the SALAMIS PHILOXENIA.

Passing by the veteran cruise ship SALAMIS PHILOXENIA.

A short time after passing by the SALAMIS PHILOXENIA, another ship was spotted heading towards Piraeus. This one was the high speed ferry SPEEDRUNNER III of Aegean Speed Lines, a company that also operates on the Western Cyclades, just like Zante Ferries.

The SPEEDRUNNER III spent the 2017 season on the Piraeus-Serifos-Sifnos-Milos-Kimolos-Folegandros-Sikinos line. It marked her first season with Aegean Speed Lines and on the Western Cyclades since 2014. The year before, she had been on the Patras-Kefalonia-Ithaca line under charter to Ionian Sea company Levante Ferries.

The SPEEDRUNNER III returning from Serifos. She is a notable main competitor of the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS, although a different one as she is a high speed ferry. Nevertheless, both ships are praised by the Western Cyclades passengers for their service, and were, along with the DIONISIOS SOLOMOS, the only ones operating there for the vast majority of the calendar year. I would find myself traveling on the SPEEDRUNNER III on my return trip from Sifnos to Piraeus three days after my trip with the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS.

The small island of Agios Georgios, located on the Lavrion-Kea-Kythnos Strait.

After passing by the island of Agios Georgios and leaving the Attica coast, I was surprised to see the SUPER JET heading towards the same direction as us.

The SUPER JET heading at full-speed towards Serifos.