• Alexandros Vrailas

AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS Tribute and Moments of Trip

Trip: 1 September 2017. From Aegina to Piraeus, with the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS of ANES Ferries.

The AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS was originally planned to be a landing craft, but she instead became a conventional ferry. Built in Greece, she was launched in 1999 as the MIAOULIS II for Miaoulis Shipping, but she was immediately sold to the Northern Sporades and Evoia Shipping Company (trading as Hellas Speed Cat since 2008), being renamed PANAGIA SKIATHOU and being deployed on the Sporades, on the Volos-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos-Pyli line. In 2001, her company moved her to the Piraeus-Aegina line on the Saronic Gulf, and she was renamed AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS, in honour of Aegina's patron Saint, Agios Nektarios. She was sold in 2007 to ANES Ferries, with her previous owners acquiring the high speed craft PANORMITIS, which was renamed SPEED CAT 1. Though ANES Ferries at the time operated only on the Dodecanese, the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS remained on the Piraeus-Aegina line and kept her name, remaining on the same line ever since.

So this is a quick summary of the ship's history and career, which she has spent on the Piraeus-Aegina for all but her first two years of service. Despite being the slowest ship on the Saronic Gulf, she has been particularly appreciated by Aegina residents for her reliable and loyal service, and for the friendliness of the crew and the good maintenance undergone by her company. It also noteworthy to state that she is currently the only ferry that is not part of the Saronic Ferries joint venture, with her owners operating independently against all other ferries that are united! Nevertheless, she is certain to remain on the Piraeus-Aegina line for years to come, unless the future tells her otherwise.

My trip with her was a particular one, as it marked my departure from Aegina to Piraeus for the last time in the 2017 summer season with a ferry. Indeed, I was in Aegina since 7 August, and I was the only one to remain with my grandparents on the island for such a long time, as my other family members left Greece earlier to return to work, university and school, respectively. I was intending to begin my studies in the United Kingdom, where the academic year begins in October. Hence, I stayed in Greece until mid September, where I began an internship with the shipping company Dorian LPG for two weeks. As a result, I left a few days before the latter began, along with my grandparents in the evening, having planned to do so with the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS. I therefore traveled aboard her for the first time since 24 July 2015, hence in more than two years. In more recent years, I had also traveled with her from Piraeus to Aegina and vice-versa during the summer of 2013. She therefore became the last ferry on which I traveled for the 2017 season, but not the last ship (the June Blog post will explain why).

The AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS seen in Aegina prior to our departure.

The ship was set to leave at 19:00. We immediately entered it upon arriving at the port. Here is a view of her main garage. She also has side lanes, where cars can be parked in an open space.

The ship is the only one on the Saronic Gulf that has an elevator. After taking it, I was able to enter the main passenger lounge area. Upon entering it, one can see the small reception desk.

On the right side of the reception desk, a poster depicting the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS in the port of Aegina during the evening can be spotted.

The ship's main passenger lounge area, featuring several chairs, tables, lounge seats, TV screens, as well as the vessel's main bar.

The ship's interior wall also featured an icon of Agios Nektarios, the patron Saint of the island of Aegina, after whom she is named.

The ship's passenger lounge area.

An upper deck also provides passengers with another lounge area.

The upper deck passenger lounge area.

Upon exiting the upper passenger deck, a small outdoor alley can be seen on the ship's starboard side, with several side benches and a sun deck next to the bridge.

The stern outdoor section, featuring yellow chairs and a small sun deck.

The ship's bow, featuring the anchor and knot control area, as well as the vessel's bell.

The ship's outdoor alley on the port side.

The port side lower deck exterior alley, with a staircase leading to the upper deck.

While we began to leave the port of Aegina, the double-ended ferry ACHAEOS of 2way Ferries was seen approaching it.

The ACHAEOS seen approaching the port of Aegina.

The ACHAEOS almost ready to reach the port of Aegina.

The ACHAEOS heading towards Aegina. For the 2017 season, she was the youngest ferry on the Saronic Gulf, the second being the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS, which was built seven years before the former.

The ACHAEOS seen approaching the port of Aegina.

The ACHAEOS beginning to head towards the port of Aegina.

Crossing the ACHAEOS, during her fourth straight summer on the Saronic Gulf (and fifth overall in her career).

The ACHAEOS almost ready to dock in Aegina.

The ACHAEOS as we pass by her near Aegina.

The ACHAEOS heading towards the dock of the port of Aegina. She has been on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri line since 2014.

The ACHAEOS almost reaching the dock of the port of Aegina.

The ACHAEOS docking in Aegina.

The ACHAEOS having just docked in Aegina.

Shortly after passing by the ACHAEOS, the hydrofoil FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA of Aegean Flying Dolphins was also seen heading towards the port of Aegina, having arrived from Piraeus.

The FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA heading towards Aegina.

The FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA, owned by Aegean Flying Dolphins since 2010, and deployed on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri line since 2011, seen heading towards her docking spot in Aegina.

After ten minutes, as we were heading towards Piraeus, I spotted another ferry heading towards Aegina. It was the fleetmate of the ACHAEOS, the APOLLON HELLAS.

The APOLLON HELLAS heading towards Aegina.

The APOLLON HELLAS seen heading towards Aegina. I had traveled with her 25 days prior to my trip with the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS, as I was heading from Piraeus to the Saronic Gulf island.

Crossing the APOLLON HELLAS on the Saronic Gulf.

The APOLLON HELLAS seen heading towards Aegina, in what was her first summer on the Saronic Gulf with 2way Ferries, and her first summer on the line since 2013, back when she was owned by Hellenic Seaways.

The APOLLON HELLAS seen on the Saronic Gulf during the evening.

The APOLLON HELLAS en route towards Aegina.

The APOLLON HELLAS heading towards Aegina.

The APOLLON HELLAS heading towards Aegina, with sunset approaching.

After another 20 minutes, sunset began towards the East. Here is a nice overview of the Piraeus Roads landscape, where tankers and container ships are moored prior to their docking in Elefsina, Keratsini or Drapetsona.

A distant view of the cruiseferry SUPERFAST XII of Superfast Ferries leaving the port of Piraeus.

The SUPERFAST XII seen leaving in the evening, for the Cyclades and the Dodecanese.

The SUPERFAST XII, in what was her third straight summer operating on the Piraeus-Syros-Amorgos-Patmos-Leros-Kalymnos-Kos-Rhodes line.

The SUPERFAST XII having departed Piraeus for Syros.

The SUPERFAST XII leaving Piraeus for Syros.

One last view of the SUPERFAST XII, in what turned out to be my last picture of the ship in Greece. Indeed, she will unfortunately depart the Superfast Ferries fleet as she was purchased by Grimaldi Group, which sold Hellenic Seaways to Attica Group (the parent company of Superfast Ferries), a deal which was approved by the Greek Competition Commission last month. Therefore, this unique ferry is leaving Greece, after 16 extremely successful years, where she was considered to be one of the best ferries (if not the best according to a few) in the country, having served the Aegean Sea and the Adriatic Sea flawlessly.

Right after the SUPERFAST XII, another red-hulled ship was exiting Piraeus. This time, it was the much smaller ferry PHIVOS of Nova Ferries, which also operates on the Saronic Gulf.

The PHIVOS, one of the best ferries the Saronic Gulf has ever seen, departing Piraeus in order to head towards Aegina. She operates on the Piraeus-Aegina-Methana-Poros line.

Built in 1980 in Spain, the PHIVOS has been operating on the Saronic Gulf since 2005, after a one-year-long conversion following her sale to Nova Ferries. Since 2014, she has been operating under the joint venture Saronic Ferries.

The PHIVOS heading towards Aegina, in her last itinerary for the day.

Crossing the PHIVOS as she heads towards Aegina.

The great PHIVOS, seen here heading towards Aegina.

The PHIVOS en route towards Aegina.

The PHIVOS on her way towards Aegina.

Another view of the PHIVOS.

The ship's outdoor alley in the starboard side seen in the evening, as we progressively begin to approach Piraeus.

Piraeus Roads seen during sunset.

We shortly entered Piraeus. There, the BLUE STAR 1 of Blue Star Ferries was seen docked.

The BLUE STAR 1 seen in Piraeus, in what was her third straight season on the Northeast Aegean Sea, and second consecutive on the Piraeus-Syros-Mykonos-Psara-Oinousses-Chios-Mytilene line.

The BLUE STAR 1 seen in Piraeus. Following the takeover of Hellenic Seaways by Attica Group, she will be replaced on her line by the NISSOS SAMOS of Hellenic Seaways. She is set to operate to the Cyclades and the Dodecanese for the first time since 2014.

Behind her was the cruiseferry ARIADNE of Hellenic Seaways, which operated on the Piraeus-Chios-Mytilene line.

The BLUE STAR 1 seen resting in Piraeus.

The ARIADNE resting as well. She is currently under charter to Italian company Tirrenia di Navigazione for the rest of 2018. Her loss will be felt this year. Hopefully she will be back in 2019.

The two ferries connecting Chios and Mytilene with Piraeus for the 2017 season: the BLUE STAR 1 and the ARIADNE.

Behind the ARIADNE was the KNOSSOS PALACE of Minoan Lines, which operates on the Piraeus-Heraklion line.

And behind the latter were the two ferries of Blue Star Ferries operating in Crete: the BLUE HORIZON and the BLUE GALAXY.

Next to them was the high speed craft HELLENIC HIGHSPEED of Hellenic Seaways, which was deployed on the Piraeus-Sifnos-Ios-Santorini line. She had recently returned to Piraeus from the island of Sifnos.

The BLUE HORIZON, which has been on the Piraeus-Heraklion line since 2014.

The BLUE GALAXY serves the Piraeus-Chania line since 2015. The latter line was served by the BLUE HORIZON from 2010 to 2011.

On the right side of the E8 gate, where the E9 gate is located, was the high speed ferry CHAMPION JET 1 of Sea Jets, which had also returned from her daily service, which was spent on the Piraeus-Mykonos-Naxos-Santorini line.

Next to her, on the E8 gate, was the hydrofoil FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII of Hellenic Seaways, which was resting for the rest of the day.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII seen resting in Piraeus.

Another view of the CHAMPION JET 1, in what was her third summer with Sea Jets.

Another view of the CHAMPION JET 1, as the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS started maneuvering in Piraeus.

After one hour and 30 minutes, the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS docked in Piraeus and began to unload passengers and vehicles, thus marking the end of the trip.

And this marked my last trip for 2017 with a passenger ferry, though not my last trip with a ship in the Greek coastal service as a whole (you will see in the next post, which will be published in June). It was a pleasant evening trip aboard a very friendly and reliable ferry, which has been serving the island of Aegina tirelessly and flawlessly since 2001.

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