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  • Writer's pictureAlexandros Vrailas

SUPERFERRY Tribute and Moments of Trip

Trip: 14 June 2018. From Rafina to Ios, via Andros, Tinos, Mykonos and Paros, with the SUPERFERRY of Golden Star Ferries.

The SUPERFERRY seen leaving Mykonos a few days after my trip with her.

The conventional ferry SUPERFERRY was built in Japan in 1995. She was initially known as the KOGANE MARU of the Japanese company Sado Kisen, and she was deployed on the Naoetsu-Ogi line, which connects the two Japanese islands of Honshu (Japan's 'main' island) and Sado, where her initial owners are based. She had one sister ship, the OKESA MARU (built two years before her), which still operates for Sado Kisen to date. She had an extremely successful stint there, as she was a very modern, comfortable and reliable ferry operating throughout both day and night. After spending twenty years on the line, she was replaced by a newly-built high speed ferry known as the AKANE. As a result, she was sold in 2015 to a Greek company, namely the Andros-based Golden Star Ferries.

This company has been one of Greece's most promising coastal service companies, as it has experienced an impressive growth in recent years. It was founded in 2010 by the brothers Georgios and Dimitris Stefanou, two shipowners that originate from the island of Andros and who have had experience in shipping through the freight company Bright Navigation. Golden Star Ferries had its first breakthrough in the Greek coastal service by acquiring the legendary SUPERFERRY II of Blue Star Ferries in order to extend her career on her highly-acclaimed service, namely the Rafina-Andros-Tinos-Mykonos line. She was delivered in 2011 and resumed her service on the Rafina-Andros-Tinos-Mykonos-Naxos line. As her service continued to be extremely successful despite strong competition, the company decided to expand its fleet by initially deciding to buy another ship from Sado Kisen, namely the 1988-built OSADO MARU in 2013, with a planned delivery to Greece in 2014 and a conversion that would be completed in 2015. Sado Kisen agreed to sell the ship to Golden Star Ferries, but when the time came for them to take over the ship in Japan, the two owners were amazed by her younger fleetmate, the KOGANE MARU, and thought that she would be more efficient for service on the Cyclades. Hence, as the KOGANE MARU was supposed to depart the fleet of Sado Kisen in 2015, they decided to buy her, and proceeded to selling the OSADO MARU to the Indonesian company Sekawan Maju Sejahtera (where she now operates under the name SMS SAGITA). Despite initial reports suggesting that the ship would be converted in Portugal, she was instead converted in Perama throughout the whole of 2015, in order to enter service for her new owners in 2016.

She arrived in Perama under the provisional name GOLDEN FERRY, and underwent a major conversion which lasted almost a year, seeing completely renovated interior areas and improved passenger accommodation. She finally entered service in 2016, having been renamed SUPERFERRY and having been registered in Andros. She was deployed on the Rafina-Andros-Tinos-Mykonos line that summer, operating alongside her new fleetmate, the SUPERFERRY II, which was serving the Rafina-Andros-Tinos-Mykonos-Naxos-Paros line. Her introduction to the Greek coastal service was immediately successful, and she was praised for her impressive amenities and outdoor areas, as well as for the professionalism and friendliness of her crew. In 2017 she was on the Rafina-Andros-Tinos-Mykonos-Naxos line instead of the SUPERFERRY II. Success continued, and she was a key contributor to her company's nomination as the 'Passenger Line of the Year' that year at the popular Lloyd's List Greek Shipping Awards. 2017 also saw her company acquiring its third ship and first high speed craft, most specifically the SUPERRUNNER (the ex-SPEEDRUNNER IV of Aegean Speed Lines), which was deployed on the Rafina-Tinos-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos-Ios-Santorini line. Her service was also very successful, and she formed a fierce rivalry with the equally-successful TERA JET of Sea Jets. Due to the success of both companies on the Rafina-Cyclades service, competition became extremely strong (which was notably highlighted by price wars during the summer of 2017), and Golden Star Ferries sought to expand both its fleet and operations on the Cyclades and Crete, where Sea Jets also operates extremely successful connections from Heraklion and Rethymnon to the Cyclades. As a result, two new high speed craft were purchased in order to enter service during the 2018 summer season, while the SUPERFERRY and the SUPERFERRY II were to be deployed on the Rafina-Andros-Tinos-Mykonos-Paros-Ios-Santorini-Heraklion line, hence connecting Rafina with Crete for the first time in Greek coastal service history. Despite doubts and pessimism by the media, the service went quite well in its first summer, and the company hence cemented its place in both the Cyclades and Crete, despite the length of the line and the big amount of stops in different islands.

So this is a quick historical yet important background of the SUPERFERRY and Golden Star Ferries, as it provides the overall context of the reasons behind a trip which included stops in four islands before I could reach my final destination. Indeed, I was supposed to go to Ios in order to spend a one-week-long vacation stay on the Cyclades with university friends, with the two islands being Ios and Mykonos (more posts about my experience there will be pusblished in the upcoming months). I had just arrived in Greece two days prior to the trip, and I decided to do the trip from Athens to Ios in a less traditional way. Indeed, instead of leaving from Piraeus with a high speed craft, I chose to take the conventional ferry from Rafina, which is why I was able to travel with the SUPERFERRY. It was officially my first trip of the 2018 summer season in Greece, my first-ever trip with a ship owned by Golden Star Ferries, my first-ever trip from Rafina to another destination, and, finally, my first-ever trip on the Aegean Sea in which the Attica-based port of departure was not Piraeus.

I arrived from Athens to Rafina by taxi cab very early in the morning with my good friend, taxi driver Mr Dimitris. The SUPERFERRY was due to leave at 07:50 from the port for her first destination, Andros. The scenery upon my arrival in the port was the one that I had expected. Indeed, it was full of ships ready to depart for the Cyclades Islands during the day, with ferries from the various companies based in Rafina, such as Golden Star Ferries, Sea Jets, Fast Ferries, Hellenic Seaways, and more. Due to the competitive environment, all ships are to leave Rafina between 07:00 and 08:30, although no ships belonging to the same company can depart at the same time or within ten minutes between them. The port was obviously packed and the vehicles and passengers were patiently waiting to board any docked ship.

The ship's lower garage deck, usually filled with vehicles heading to the first three destinations (Andros, Tinos and Mykonos).

The ferry's reception desk right next to escalators transporting passengers from the entrance to the lounge area. As you can see it is quite small and painted in blue, which is the company's main colour. The script logo of Golden Star Ferries is hung up on the wall, over a nice wreath.

A view of the ship's deckplan.

The first passenger deck, Deck 5, features the ship's indoor lounge areas, which are all decorated with pictures from the islands served by the SUPERFERRY. This one is an aerial view of the main town of Andros, known as the Chora.

The intersection area of Deck 5, which leads to the forward lounge areas and to the staircase and the elevators that lead the passengers to the other decks.

The lounge area located there is the Chora (Andros) Lounge, as shown by this signpost. The Chora is, at it is the case with most Cyclades Islands, the main town and village, basically the island's 'capital'.

A view of the ship's floorplan. It states that Decks 5-7 include the passenger lounge areas, the aircraft-style seats, WC and bars. Deck 8 features the outdoor lounge area (namely the First Class Lounge area), the hospital cabin and the bridge. Deck 6 also features cabins.

The escalators connecting Deck 5 with the garage (which is part of Decks 3 and 4). The company's logo can again be seen hanging on the wall.

A view of the Chora (Andros) Lounge, which features many chairs and tables right next to the windows.

The aft section of the Chora (Andros) Lounge, which features a giant TV screen in the background.

At the opposite of the Chora (Andros) Lounge is the Naoussa (Paros) Lounge, named after Paros' well-known village, which is one of the prettiest on the Cyclades.

I quickly went to have a little look at Deck 6. Next the staircase leading me there, a black-and-white picture of the iconic Andros lighthouse and of the Church of Panagia Thalassini was seen attached to the wall.

A quick view of the Achla (Andros) First Class Lounge, which features nice white and red chairs and a bar in the back.

The signpost of the Achla (Andros) First Class Lounge. Achla is the name of one of Andros' prettiest and most popular beaches.

As one heads towards the stern section of Deck 6, they can see aircraft-style seats, all of which feature the logo of Golden Star Ferries.

And even further back is the Pyrgos (Tinos) Lounge, whose signpost is at the entrance of the room.

A view of the Pyrgos (Tinos) Lounge, which has several white chairs and tables and a small bar right next to the entrance.

The Pyrgos (Tinos) Lounge also features a few exhibits, such as Ancient Greek sculptures that were most likely made on the Cyclades.

Outside the Pyrgos (Tinos) Lounge is the outdoor area at the level of the stern. It is connected to Deck 7 through the ship's well-known wooden staircase, which underwent a particular refit during her conversion in Perama.

The aft section outdoor area, which also features several chairs and tables.

An extended view of the outdoor area, with a bar located in the middle (it was closed before the ship's departure, and is only operational while the ship is sailing).

Another view of the outdoor area. It notably has lounges, which is a rare feature found in a Greek ferry.

At the forward section of Deck 6 is the front section balcony, from which passengers have a full view of the ship from the bow's perspective. This balcony was already on the ship back when she was operating in Japan.

While heading upwards Deck 7 has, on both sides, two alleys for passengers to walk and sit while admiring the view of the sea. Here is the alley from the port side.

The Deck 7 outdoor alley seen on the starboard side. The accommodation block on this deck features cabins, used by the crew.

One the two visible lifeboats of the SUPERFERRY, which features the ship's name.

Finally, the highest point one can reach onboard the SUPERFERRY is Deck 8, which has a fully open outdoor area. The front section is where the bridge is located, alon with the ship's foremast. Behind them are seven wooden houses where pets traveling along with passengers are kept during the trip.

In the open deck is the helicopter landing area in case of emergency. It features the IMO number of the ship (9110016), printed in yellow characters.

A wider view of the open deck area found on Deck 8.

At the back of this fully open area is the ship's funnel, which is surrounded by lifeboats and life-rafts on both sides.

The funnel of the SUPERFERRY, painted in blue and bearing the gold star, which is the logo of Golden Star Ferries.

At the starboard side of the SUPERFERRY in Rafina was the high speed ferry PAROS JET of Sea Jets, which was also preparing for her morning departure.

The funnel of the PAROS JET, painted in dark blue and featuring the well-known logo of Sea Jets.

The PAROS JET seen in what was her fourth summer under Sea Jets, and her third consecutive season on the Rafina-Cyclades service. The summer of 2018 ultimately found her operating across all of the Aegean Sea, as she was her company's spare ship in case one of its other ferries would have a technical issue during the summer.

Right next to her, I spotted the high speed catamaran FLYINGCAT 4 of Hellenic Seaways departing Rafina.

The FLYINGCAT 4 seen during what was her twentieth summer operating in the Greek coastal service, and her fourteenth under Hellenic Seaways. In 2018, she was on the Rafina-Tinos-Mykonos-Naxos-Ios-Sikinos-Folegandros line.

The summer of 2018 was the first one that the FLYINGCAT 4 spent on the Cyclades and from Rafina since 2015. Indeed, in 2016 and in 2017, she operated in Northern Greece, as she connected the Sporades Islands with Thessaloniki (and also Agios Konstantinos in 2016).

The FLYINGCAT 4 departing Rafina and heading towards Tinos.

The FLYINGCAT 4 seen heading towards Tinos at dawn.

A view of the port of Rafina, which features numerous travel agencies right next to the main dock.

The PAROS JET seen ready to depart. Even though she has been in Greece since 2015, this day marked the first time that I got to see her in front of me.

Just after the FLYINGCAT 4 left Rafina, another high speed craft could be seen departing the port. This time, it was one of the SUPERFERRY's fleetmates, the high speed ferry SUPERRUNNER.

The SUPPERRUNNER, previously known as the SPEEDRUNNER IV of Aegean Speed Lines (for whom she operated between 2009 and 2016), seen leaving the port of Rafina.

The SUPERRUNNER seen as she leaves Rafina. The summer of 2018 was her second one with Golden Star Ferries, and she once again spent it on the Rafina-Tinos-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos-Ios-Santorini line.

The SUPERRUNNER seen leaving Rafina. She was the first high speed craft bought by Golden star Ferries. Two more have followed since, although they only transport passengers. The first one is the trimaran SUPERSPEED, which was deployed on the Thessaloniki-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos line in 2018, hence replacing the FLYINGCAT 4 which returned to the Cyclades. The second one is the high speed catamaran SUPERCAT, which is still being prepared in Perama and Salamina.

The SUPERRUNNER leaving Rafina in order to head towards Tinos, which was her first destination.

The SUPERRUNNER seen heading towards Tinos.

The SUPERRUNNER seen leaving Rafina at dawn. Since arriving in Greece in 2009, she has spent all her seasons on the Cyclades (except for the summer of 2013, during which she was laid-up in the Elefsina Bay).

The SUPERRUNNER heading towards Tinos, as seen by her fleetmate.

On the port side of the SUPERFERRY was one of her competitors, namely the conventional ferry EKATERINI P of Fast Ferries. This is one of her two funnels, which display the letter 'Π', which is the Greek initial of her owners, the Panagiotakis family.

Right next to the EKATERINI P was one of her fleetmates, the FAST FERRIES ANDROS, which was seen leaving Rafina as well.

The FAST FERRIES ANDROS seen leaving Rafina at dawn. Just like the SUPERFERRY, she was also built in Japan, and she spent the start of her career there before heading to Greece.

The FAST FERRIES ANDROS seen heading towards Andros. This summer was her fourth one under her owners, who acquired her in 2015 from the Kefalonia-based Strintzis Ferries. She was owned by the latter from 2003 to 2015, and operated for them on the Ionian Sea as the EPTANISOS.

A view of the funnel of the FAST FERRIES ANDROS, which also features the letter 'Π'. The funnel's shape is one of the most recognisable in the Greek coastal service. Although she had it since the start of her career in Japan, Strintzis Ferries increased its height and width during the ship's conversion in Perama back in 2003.

Another view of the PAROS JET, as she is also ready to leave the port of Rafina. She was deployed on the Rafina-Tinos-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos line alongside the TERA JET for the month of June. She had previously operated on the same line alongside the flagship of Sea Jets during the 2017 season, and both high speed ferries were extremely successful there. They were therefore considered to be major threats by Golden Star Ferries, although the latter also responded to the competition quite effectively with the deployment of its three ships from Rafina.

The PAROS JET seen leaving Rafina for Tinos. Before arriving in Greece in 2015, she was known as the CORSICA EXPRESS SECONDA of the French-Italian company Corsica Ferries-Sardinia Ferries, for whom she mainly operated on the Ligurian Sea. Apart from her debut season in 1996, during which she served the Nice-Bastia line, she connected mainland Italy with Corsica before her sale to Sea Jets in 2015.

The PAROS JET seen departing Rafina.

The PAROS JET seen leaving right after the FAST FERRIES ANDROS and the SUPERRUNNER (her main competitor). It is fair to say that the Golden Star Ferries-Sea Jets rivalry from Rafina to the Cyclades is impressive from a shipping enthusiast's point of view.

Next to the EKATERINI P, I was able to see was the major threat of Golden Star Ferries in Rafina, namely the high speed ferry TERA JET of Sea Jets. Here is her funnel, which also features the logo of Sea Jets.

A view of the Southern coast of Rafina.

With the SUPERFERRY now due to depart, I spotted another ferry, athough it was the only one arriving at the port of Rafina, as all the other ones were leaving. That ship was another Japanese-built ferry, and more specifically the EVIA STAR of Geraistos NE, which operates on the Rafina-Marmari line. Marmari is a port located at the Southern part of the island of Evoia, on the Petalioi Gulf.

The EVIA STAR was initially a Ro-Ro carrier in Japan, and she was converted into a passenger ferry in 2000, following her purchase by Geraistos NE. She was operating on the Rafina-Marmari line for the eighteenth straight summer.

The EVIA STAR seen approaching the port of Rafina. She operates on the Rafina-Marmari line alongside the PANORAMA of Panorama Shipping, which has been operating there since late 2011.

The EVIA STAR preparing to maneuver in Rafina.

The EVIA STAR seen preparing to undergo her maneuvering procedure in Rafina.

The EVIA STAR ready to maneuver in Rafina.

The EVIA STAR maneuvering in Rafina, as the SUPERFERRY prepares to depart.

The EVIA STAR seen maneuvering in Rafina.

The EKATERINI P seen next to the SUPERFERRY as the latter departs and begins her trip.

The impressive TERA JET, which was however resting that day as she did not have any planned trips.

The TERA JET seen during what was her second season in a row in Rafina. However, in 2018, she also operated in Andros, in addition to Tinos, Mykonos, Paros and Naxos. She was therefore on the Rafina-Andros-Tinos-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos line.

Another view of the EKATERINI P, which was the last ship due to depart from Rafina.

The TERA JET resting in Rafina.

The EVIA STAR having just finished maneuvering in Rafina.

Two rivals, the classic ferry EKATERINI P and the high speed ferry TERA JET, together in the port of Rafina.

Another view of the TERA JET, Sea Jets' flagship.

The EVIA STAR preparing to dock in Rafina.

Three ferries seen from the departing SUPERFERRY: the EVIA STAR, the EKATERINI P and the TERA JET.

The TERA JET seen once again in Rafina. Built in 1999 in Italy, she spent the start of her career with the Italian company Tirrenia Di Navigazione, for whom she operated on the Tyrrhenian Sea as the SCORPIO. After her company experienced financial issues during the mid 2000s, the high speed ferry and her three sister ships were deemed to surplus requirements. She almost headed for scrap in 2011 despite being only 12 years old at the time, but she ultimately avoided a premature end to her career as she was reportedly bought by a Greek company. After being laid-up in Perama between 2012 and 2014, it was revealed that she had been acquired by Sea Jets, and she became the company's flagship. As the TERA JET, she spent the 2014 season on the Heraklion-Santorini line, with her service being extended the following year, as she served the Heraklion-Santorini-Ios-Naxos-Mykonos line. After remaining idle in 2016, she had an extremely successful 2017 season on the Rafina-Tinos-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos line.

The EKATERINI P seen once again. For the third straight season, she was operating on the Rafina-Tinos-Mykonos-Naxos line, and she is the only ship of Fast Ferries serving the latter island (she also made stops in Andros in 2017). She has been owned by Fast Ferries since 1999, but she has been serving Rafina and the Cyclades since 2012. Before that, she had spent 13 years on the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line on the Ionian Sea.

The EVIA STAR having just docked in Rafina.

Another view of the three ferries seen in Rafina from the stern of the departing SUPERFERRY. These were the EVIA STAR, the EKATERINI P and the TERA JET.

The TERA JET seen once again in Rafina. She is the largest high speed craft that operates in Greece.

About thirty minutes after the ship's departure, the island of Evoia could be spotted from a far distance.

Almost two hours after the departure from Rafina and after having passed by Southern Evoia and the channel known as Cavo Doro (one of the most dangerous places for shipping on the Aegean Sea due to intense winds and several reefs in the middle of the waterwat), we were now headed for the first destination. This was Andros, which is the island where the SUPERFERRY is registered, as well as the island from which her owners come from.

Andros was now clearly visible to us. We now just needed to enter the Gavrion Bay, named after Gavrion, which is the main port of the island.

Right upon spotting the Gavrion Bay, I saw the FAST FERRIES ANDROS leaving, after she herself had docked in the port. She was now heading towards Tinos.

The FAST FERRIES ANDROS seen having left her namesake island.

The FAST FERRIES ANDROS seen during her fourth summer with Fast Ferries. Her first one was spent on the Rafina-Syros-Tinos-Mykonos line, where the results were mostly mixed. Since 2016, she has been on her company's main service, namely on the Rafina-Andros-Tinos-Mykonos line, which is also served by her other fleetmates as well (although the EKATERINI P did not make calls in Andros in 2018, as she instead served Naxos).

The island of Andros seen from the SUPERFERRY.

The beautiful FAST FERRIES ANDROS seen leaving Andros and heading towards Tinos. Back when she operated as the EPTANISOS for Strintzis Ferries she operated on the Kyllini-Kefalonia line from 2003 to 2010, before moving to the Patras-Kefalonia-Ithaca line from 2011 to 2012, after which her company ceased operations. She remained laid-up for three years, before being finally reactivated in 2015, following her acquisition by Fast Ferries.

A view of the FAST FERRIES ANDROS, which is nowadays one of the most successful day ferries on the Cyclades. She and the SUPERFERRY briefly served the Piraeus-Syros-Tinos-Mykonos line under charter to Blue Star Ferries, as the BLUE STAR PATMOS had an accident in Ios in 2017, which required her to be replaced by the BLUE STAR NAXOS, which was due to serve the Piraeus-Syros-Tinos-Mykonos line in late 2017. The FAST FERRIES ANDROS was therefore chartered to Blue Star Ferries from October 2017 to February 2018, after which she returned to her usual service under Fast Ferries.

The FAST FERRIES ANDROS seen leaving Andros.

The FAST FERRIES ANDROS leaving Andros in order to head towards Tinos.

The FAST FERRIES ANDROS now seen heading towards Tinos.

The FAST FERRIES ANDROS on her way to Tinos, after having left the Gavrion Bay.

A few minutes after encountering the FAST FERRIES ANDROS, the SUPERFERRY entered the Gavrion Bay at approximately 09:45.

A view of the small port of Gavrion in Andros.

The port of Gavrion in Andros seen just as the SUPERFERRY began to maneuver.

A view of the houses that were adjacent to the port of Gavrion in Andros.

After quickly unloading passengers and vehicles and getting a few other ones onboard, we began to leave at around 10:00. At the same time, another ship was seen approaching Andros. This was the conventional ferry THEOLOGOS P of Fast Ferries.

The THEOLOGOS P was built in 2000 in Japan, and she operated there until she was sold to Fast Ferries in 2006. Since 2007, she has been operating on the Rafina-Andros-Tinos-Mykonos line (in 2017 she also served Naxos alongside the EKATERINI P).

The THEOLOGOS P having entered the Gavrion Bay in Andros.

The THEOLOGOS P having reached the port of Gavrion in Andros. She is the third ferry in the history of Fast Ferries to be named THEOLOGOS P. The previous two ships were landing craft that were deployed on the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line in the 1970s and the 1980s, although the first THEOLOGOS P had actually began her career on the Oropos-Eretria line on the South Evoian Gulf from 1974 to 1979. The second THEOLOGOS P is still in service in Greece, as she is currently known as the PANAGIA THASSOU of Thassos Ferries since 2005, and is operating on the Kavala-Thassos line.

The THEOLOGOS P ready to maneuver in Andros. She was the first ship of Fast Ferries to be deployed on the Aegean Sea since her eponymous predecessor, the original THEOLOGOS P. She was also the first ship of the company to be deployed on the Rafina-Cyclades service. It was a major risk taken by her company, due to their past experience being, for the vast majority of their history, based on the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line. It turned out to be a major success, as the ship has now remained on the line for the twelfth consecutive season. She is hence credited for bringing Fast Ferries from Corfu to the Cyclades, as she was joined by the EKATERINI P (which underwent a major conversion in order to comply with the demands of the area) in 2012, and later by the FAST FERRIES ANDROS after she was bought in 2015.

The pretty Japanese-built THEOLOGOS P, named after her owner Theologos Panagiotakis, preparing to maneuver in Andros.

The THEOLOGOS P ready to maneuver in Andros at the same time as the SUPERFERRY departs the port. She is the flagship of Fast Ferries, despite being the youngest ferry of the fleet.

The THEOLOGOS P maneuvering in Andros.

One of the two funnels of the THEOLOGOS P, featuring, as you now know, the initial of the Panagiotakis family.

The THEOLOGOS P having finished her maneuvering procedure and unloading passengers and vehicles in Andros.

Passing by the THEOLOGOS P in Andros.

The THEOLOGOS P seen resting in Andros.

While the SUPERFERRY leaves Andros, the THEOLOGOS P rests before leaving for Rafina.

The THEOLOGOS P seen in Andros. While the EKATERINI P and the FAST FERRIES ANDROS leave Rafina for the Cyclades in the morning and complete the return leg during the evening, the THEOLOGOS P performs the opposite schedule. Indeed, she spends the night in Mykonos, leaves the latter for Tinos, Andros and Rafina early in the morning, before returning to the Cyclades islands in the late afternoon/early evening. On Saturdays, however, she departs Rafina for the Cyclades in the morning, just like her fleetmates do.

Another view of the THEOLOGOS P as she is seen docked in Andros.

One last view of the THEOLOGOS P in the port of Andros, while we now head towards Tinos.

The SUPERFERRY seen heading from Andros to Tinos, with the Greek flag seen flying over the ship's stern.

At approximately 11:30, the port of the island of Tinos was visible to us. Despite its width, it has very narrow piers, which can be potentially dangerous for ferries attempting to enter or leave the port.

The port of Tinos seen from the front section balcony of the SUPERFERRY.

The SUPERFERRY preparing to enter the port of Tinos.

The dangerous side piers of the port of Tinos. The most recent ship to have been involved in an accident due to these piers was the FLYINGCAT 4, which had grounded off there back in 2015.

The port of Tinos seen while the SUPERFERRY was undergoing her maneuvering procedure.

In the hill located right above the port is a historic monument, namely the Holy Monastery of Panagia Tinou, which is a symbolic worship place for Orthodox Christians. Several ships have been named in honour of the monastery, with the most recent one being the late PANAGIA TINOU of Ventouris Sea Lines (the ex-AGIOS GEORGIOS of the same company), which was sold for scrap last year.

After loading new vehicles and passengers, the SUPERFERRY departed Tinos at approximately 11:45.

The next stop was particularly popular for some passengers. Indeed, it was the island of Mykonos, known as 'The Island of Winds' in Greece, which is located right next to Tinos. It usually takes just 45 minutes for a regular ferry to travel from one island to the other.

As the SUPERFERRY was approaching Mykonos, another ferry was seen leaving the island, namely the great NISSOS MYKONOS of Hellenic Seaways. The Greek-built ferry is deployed on the Piraeus-Syros-Mykonos-Ikaria-Samos-Chios-Mytilene-Limnos-Kavala lifeline, and she therefore serves the Cyclades and the Northeast Aegean Sea.

The NISSOS MYKONOS seen having left her namesake island.

The NISSOS MYKONOS seen leaving Mykonos. The ship has spent her entire career so far with Hellenic Seaways. Since 2007 she has served the islands of Ikaria and Samos every single summer, although other islands have been added over the years. She has been on the Northeast Aegean Sea lifeline since 2014, although she has served it during the summer season only since 2017.

The NISSOS MYKONOS seen leaving Mykonos. She was built in 2005, exactly ten years after the SUPERFERRY, and exactly ten years before the latter's sale to Golden Star Ferries.

The NISSOS MYKONOS leaving Mykonos in order to head towards Ikaria.

The NISSOS MYKONOS seen heading towards Ikaria.

Next to the port of Mykonos was the cruise ship COSTA DELIZIOSA of the Italian cruise line Costa Crociere (Costa Cruises). Due to her large size, she is unable to dock in the port. Passengers make it to the shore with the small ships owned by the Association of the Boatmen of Mykonos.

As soon as we began to approach the new port of Mykonos (located in the village of Tourlos, which is further away from the old port which is located next to the Chora of Mykonos), I got to see another ship for the first time with my own eyes. Indeed, it was the high speed ferry NAXOS JET of Sea Jets.

The NAXOS JET seen leaving Mykonos at full-speed. This was her first summer of operations under Sea Jets, which she spent the Rafina-Andros-Syros-Tinos-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos line. Her service had not been announced until late May. However, it turned out to be very successful.

The summer of 2018 marked the debut season of the NAXOS JET under Sea Jets, and her second season in Greece altogether, as she had been previously on the Heraklion-Santorini line while being chartered to NEL Lines from the now-defunct My Ferries in 2010 (although she only operated there for one month), under the name CYCLADES EXPRESS. Afterwards, she was laid-up in Salamina from 2011 to 2016, before she was bought by Sea Jets. She underwent a two-year-long refit in order to return to service for the first time in eight years.

The NAXOS JET seen during her first season of service since 2010, as she leaves Mykonos in order to head towards Tinos.

The small funnel of the NAXOS JET featuring the logo of Sea Jets. It is a well-known funnel that was found on almost all ships of the Incat 74m WPC-class, most of which started their careers under the British company Hoverspeed. The NAXOS JET has three sister ships that are also owned currently by Sea Jets, although only one has been in active service as of 2018. That ship is the CALDERA VISTA (the ex-MASTER JET) which was recently renamed and deployed on the Heraklion-Rethymnon-Santorini-Paros-Mykonos-Tinos-Syros line. The other two are the HIGH SPEED JET (the ex-COSMOS JET and formerly the SPEEDRUNNER I of Aegean Speed Lines from 2005 to 2008) and the SEA SPEED JET, which have been laid-up in Chalkida since 2013 and 2014, respectively, and are unlikely to ever sail for Sea Jets in the future.

The NAXOS JET leaving Mykonos in order to head towards Tinos. Her service started out of Naxos in the morning, and she would reach Rafina by the afternoon. She would then leave Rafina for the Cyclades in the late afternoon and reach Naxos late at night, where she would be staying until the following morning.

While the SUPERFERRY was preparing to maneuver in the new port of Mykonos, the EKATERINI P and the FAST FERRIES ANDROS could also be spotted.

The EKATERINI P seen resting in Mykonos. Despite having left after the SUPERFFERY, she reached Mykonos first as she does not make calls to Andros, instead going directly from Rafina to Tinos.

The NAXOS JET seen heading towards Tinos at full-speed.

The EKATERINI P docked in Mykonos and almost ready to depart for Naxos.

The EKATERINI P seen in Mykonos, with the FAST FERRIES ANDROS right behind her. Both ships were built in Japan and operated on the Ionian Sea until 2012. The EKATERINI P headed to the Cyclades during that same year, while the FAST FERRIES ANDROS joined her three years later.

The EKATERINI P seen docked in Mykonos. Owned by Fast Ferries since 1999, she is the second ship in the history of the company to bear that name. The first one was a landing craft built in 1975 and which was on the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line before the arrival of the current EKATERINI P. She later became the KONSTANTINOS G of Costar Lines (2006-2010) and of NEL Lines (2010-2014, although she only operated during the summers of 2011 and 2012), being deployed on the Mytilene-Dikili line. The latter port is located in Turkey. Since 2014 she is in Equatorial Guinea, serving the company Somagec under the name ELOBEY XII.

The EKATERINI P preparing to depart Mykonos.

The EKATERINI P almost ready to leave Mykonos.

The EKATERINI P seen leaving Mykonos.

Right behind the ferry terminal of the new port of Mykonos is a smaller pier for pleasure craft, as well as for ships connecting the port with the old port of the island and Delos. There, I saw one of the ships of Delos Tours serving under the Mykonos Sea Bus brandname, namely small passenger boat MYKONOS EXPRESS.

The EKATERINI P in the meantime has left Mykonos in order to head towards Naxos.

The FAST FERRIES ANDROS now clearly visible and seen resting in Mykonos.

The five-year-old MYKONOS EXPRESS seen leaving the new port of Mykonos.

The FAST FERRIES ANDROS seen in Mykonos, as she is resting for a few hours before making her return leg to Rafina via Tinos and Andros.

The EKATERINI P en route from Mykonos to Naxos.

The FAST FERRIES ANDROS seen in Mykonos. After having seen her in the port of Kyllini several times during the 2000s, I was also very pleased to see her on the Cyclades, where she has become an established ferry.

Another view of the FAST FERRIES ANDROS.

The MYKONOS EXPRESS leaving the new port of Mykonos.

The FAST FERRIES ANDROS and the MYKONOS EXPRESS seen together in Mykonos.

Th MYKONOS EXPRESS seen heading towards the old port of Mykonos.

While the MYKONOS EXPRESS was heading towards the old port, another ship of Delos Tours-Mykonos Sea Bus was seen approaching the new port. It was the small high speed boat MYKONOS SPIRIT.

The FAST FERRIES ANDROS seen again in Mykonos. She was built in 1989 in Japan, and she spent the first 11 years of her career there as the SHINKO MARU for the Japanese company Nippon Kaiun. She then spent three years in Taiwan as the KING HUNG of the Taiwanese company King Fung Ma, before being sold to Strintzis Ferries in 2003.

The MYKONOS SPIRIT seen approaching the new port of Mykonos.

The MYKONOS SPIRIT in the port of Mykonos. This summer was her second one under her current owners. Previously, she was the MYTHOS of Captain Vangelis Special Cruises, also known as Kefalonia Cruises. She operated from 2009 to 2016 under the latter, before being replaced by the newly-built NIRIIS in 2017. Back when she was known as the MYTHOS, she was on the Kyllini-Zakynthos-Kefalonia-Ithaca line on the Ionian Sea.

The MYKONOS SPIRIT, which is the third ship to have been acquired for service under the Mykonos Sea Bus brandname, seen in the new port of Mykonos.

The MYKONOS SPIRIT seen heading towards the Mykonos Sea Bus terminal in the new port of Mykonos.

The MYKONOS SPIRIT preparing to maneuver in the new port of Mykonos.

The MYKONOS SPIRIT having just docked in the new port of Mykonos.

Another picture of the FAST FERRIES ANDROS.

A view of the Chora of Mykonos, which is the main village of the island and perhaps the most famous one.

The FAST FERRIES ANDROS once again seen resting in Mykonos.

While the SUPERFERRY was preparing to depart at around 12:40, the BLUE STAR NAXOS of Blue Star Ferries was seen arriving towards Mykonos.

The great BLUE STAR NAXOS was on the Piraeus-Syros-Tinos-Mykonos line during that period, covering for her sister ship, the BLUE STAR PAROS, as the latter was undergoing her annual refit.

Another picture showing the resting FAST FERRIES ANDROS.

The impressive BLUE STAR NAXOS seen heading towards the new port of Mykonos. After the BLUE STAR PAROS returned to service two days after my trip with the SUPERFERRY, the BLUE STAR NAXOS was deployed on her new summer service for 2018, namely the Piraeus-Syros-Paros-Naxos-Donousa-Irakleia-Schoinousa-Koufonisi-Amorgos-Santorini-Astypalaia lifeline.

The 16-year-old BLUE STAR NAXOS seen approaching the port of Mykonos.

The BLUE STAR NAXOS, just like the BLUE STAR PAROS, has been one of the best ships on the Aegean Sea and in the Greek coastal service. She has served almost all Cyclades Islands, as well as some on the Dodecanese.

The BLUE STAR NAXOS seen just a few days before returning to her usual service on the Lesser Cyclades lifeline.

The BLUE STAR NAXOS seen heading towards the new port of Mykonos.

The BLUE STAR NAXOS seen approaching Mykonos, while we are now departing for the next destination, which was the island of Paros.

The BLUE STAR NAXOS seen heading towards the new port of Mykonos. Built in 2002 in South Korea, she has spent the bulk of her career on the Lesser Cyclades lifeline.

The BLUE STAR NAXOS seen approaching the new port of Mykonos.

The BLUE SAR NAXOS in Mykonos, heading towards the port. Behind her is the giant cruise ship NORWEGIAN STAR of Norwegian Cruise Lines.

After leaving Mykonos, we were now heading towards Paros. Right after passing by the Mykonos-Delos Strait, I spotted yet another ship heading towards Mykonos. It was a familiar face, but with a rather unfamiliar appearance. Indeed, the ship was the high speed ferry SANTORINI PALACE of Minoan Lines (the ex-HIGHSPEED 7 of Hellenic Seaways), which had been sold to her new owners just four days before my trip with the SUPERFERRY.

The HIGHSPEED 7 had to be sold to Minoan Lines, as part of the deal which saw Grimaldi Group (the majority shareholder of Minoan Lines) sell its Hellenic Seaways shares to Attica Group. The Hellenic Competition Commission approved the transaction, with Hellenic Seaways being forced to pull out of the service where the HIGHSPEED 7 (also known as the HIGHSPEED 5 from 2005 to 2016) was operating successfully from 2013 to 2014 and from 2016 to 2018, which was the Heraklion-Santorini-Ios-Paros-Mykonos line. Minoan Lines kept the ship on that same itinerary, and they therefore expanded their area of operations, as they connected Crete with the Cyclades for the first time since 2005.

The HIGHSPEED 7 was renamed SANTORINI PALACE and was registered from Piraeus to Heraklion, which is where Minoan Lines is based.

The SANTORINI PALACE seen heading from Paros to Mykonos, only a few days after beginning service under Minoan Lines.

Right behind the SANTORINI PALACE was a ship that I had seen earlier that morning. Indeed, it was the PAROS JET, which was heading from Paros to Mykonos as well, as part of her return leg.

The PAROS JET had left just a few minutes before the SUPERFERRY did from Rafina, and went to Naxos via Tinos, Mykonos and Paros, and was now already making her return leg from Paros to Mykonos.

The PAROS JET heading at full-speed from Paros to Mykonos.

The PAROS JET en route towards Mykonos. During her debut season under Sea Jets in 2015, she served the Piraeus-Paros-Naxos-Koufonisi-Amorgos line. The following season saw her on the Rafina-Tinos-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos-Ios-Santorini line, while last year she operated on the Rafina-Tinos-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos line together with the TERA JET.

Another view of the PAROS JET as she heads towards Mykonos.

At approximately 14:15, the island of Paros was visible to us. We were now headed for the port, which is located in the village of Paroikia.

A few nautical miles near Paroikia, one can spot the infamous Portes islets, which the doomed ferry EXPRESS SAMINA of Hellas Ferries tragically hit, leading to her sinking and to the death of more than 80 people, more than 18 years ago. This place unfortunately is now remembered as the area where one of the most tragic events in the history of the Greek coastal service occurred.

A view of the port of Paroikia in Paros, where the SUPERFERRY began to maneuver just before 14:30.

The stretched pier of the port of Paros, which is where the SUPERFERRY docked.

We stayed in Paros until 14:45, after which we began to head for the next destination (and the final one for me), namely the island of Ios. While we were leaving, I spotted the high speed ferry CHAMPION JET 1 of Sea Jets heading towards Paros.

A view of the CHAMPION JET 1, which was operating on the Heraklion-Rethymnon-Santorini-Ios-Naxos-Paros-Mykonos line, where she was temporarily replacing her sister ship and fleetmate, the CHAMPION JET 2, which was on the Piraeus-Mykonos-Naxos-Santorini line. The two ships switched to their summer lines just a few days later, with the CHAMPION JET 1 leaving from Piraeus and the CHAMPION JET 2 leaving from Heraklion, as they had also done so in 2017.

The CHAMPION JET 1 seen heading towards Paros, during her fourth summer under Sea Jets.

A view of the CHAMPION JET 1, which is a valuable ship for Sea Jets as she can operate on many lines across the Cyclades.

The CHAMPION JET 1 en route towards Paros. She is notably the first-ever high speed ferry onboard which I traveled in Greece, as I headed from Santorini to Piraeus with her on 12 July 2015. She also became the first ship of Sea Jets onboard which I embarked.

The impressive CHAMPION JET 1 seen heading towards Paros.

One last view of the CHAMPION JET 1 as she is seen approaching the port of Paros.

After going through the south of Paros, I spotted another high speed craft seen earlier in the morning and heading back to Rafina. Indeed, this was the fleetmate of the SUPERFERRY, namely the SUPERRUNNER.

The SUPERRUNNER seen heading from Naxos to Paros.

The speedy SUPERRUNNER seen on her way to Paros.

Another view of the SUPERRUNNER as she sails on the Cyclades. Just like it was the case with the PAROS JET, the SUPERRUNNER had left Rafina just a few minutes before the SUPERFERRY, made it to Santorini via Tinos, Mykonos, Paros, Naxos and Ios, and was now returning to Rafina, heading from Naxos to Paros.

The SUPERRUNNER en route towards Paros. Her successful introduction on the Rafina-Tinos-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos-Ios-Santorini line prompted her company to further invest into high speed craft, in order to strengthen its forces against Sea Jets.

A few minutes after seeing the SUPERRUNNER, I got to see the third and final ship of Golden Star Ferries that was operating on the Cyclades for the 2018 season. Indeed, this was the legendary SUPERFERRY II, which was performing the return leg from Heraklion to Rafina via the Cyclades.

The SUPERFERRY II was seen heading from Ios to Paros, after having left Heraklion late in the morning and having also stopped in Santorini.

The SUPERFERRY seen at the heart of the Aegean Sea, where she has been operating successfully since 1993. This was her eighth season under Golden star Ferries.

A view of the SUPERFERRY II on the Cyclades. The summer of 2018 marked 25 years since she was introduced on the Aegean Sea. A quarter-century later, she is still among the best ships in Greece, and does not give you the impression that she is 44 years old.

Right after our encounter with the SUPERFERRY II, the SANTORINI PALACE passed by us as she headed towards Ios.

The extremely fast SANTORINI PALACE seen heading towards Ios, during her first days under Minoan Lines.

The SANTORINI PALACE seen heading to Ios. She was the first acquisition of Minoan Lines in eight years (back when the newly-built CRUISE OLYMPIA was delivered to them in 2010), although the company also saw the return of the ex-EUROPA PALACE, which had been on charter to Tirrenia Di Navigazione from 2012 to 2017. That ship was renamed MYKONOS PALACE and was deployed on the Piraeus-Chania line.

The SANTORINI PALACE heading towards Ios. Built in 2005, she began service for Hellenic Seaways just after the latter had been rebranded (they were previously known as Hellas Flying Dolphins from 2002 to 2005) as the HIGHSPEED 5, and she became one of the most acclaimed high speed craft of the Greek coastal service. She has spent her entire career on the Cyclades, which she served from Piraeus from 2005 to 2012, before moving to Heraklion in 2013. After being severely damaged by a fire in 2015, she had to miss the entire summer season that year and she was repaired in Italy, after which she returned on the Heraklion-Santorini-Ios-Paros-Mykonos line as the HIGHSPEED 7 during the 2016 season.

After two hours approximately, we finally reached the port of Ios, where I made my return for the first time in exactly eleven months, after I had left the island on 14 July 2017 with the HELLENIC HIGHSPEED of Hellenic Seaways. We arrived at 16:30 as planned, and the ship unloaded very quickly. However, before I could turn and face her in order to take one last picture of her, she had already left in order to head towards Santorini and her final destination for the day, namely the port Heraklion. Hence, my eight-hour trip onboard the SUPERFERRY had now come to an end.

The SUPERFERRY seen in Mykonos, a few days after I had sailed with her from Rafina to Ios.

And so this marks the end of a fantastic day during which I got to see so many ships (including many that I had not seen before) and dozens of beautiful Cyclades islands. It was undoubtedly the best way to start the 2018 summer season in Greece, with the first trip of the year being a very memorable one. As her name indicates it, the SUPERFERRY truly is a superferry, with very modern amenities and a wonderful outdoor area from which you can enjoy a wonderful view of the Aegean Sea. Thanks to her qualities, she was able to prove doubters wrong by having a very satisfying first summer on her new service, which she shared with the equally-successful SUPERFERRY II. And along the good services of the SUPERRUNNER, as well as the recent introduction of the SUPERSPEED on the Thessaloniki-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos line, Golden Star Ferries enjoyed another successful summer, despite the intensifying competition (particularly from Sea Jets). Nevertheless, the company's future seems very promising, as the SUPERCAT will be ready for service soon, and a new high speed ferry is also set to join them soon. Indeed, a few days ago, Golden Star Ferries and Fast Ferries agreed to collaborate by buying the high speed craft EXPRESS (which has notably operated for Buquebus, P&O Ferries, Gotlandsbåten, Viking Line and Naviera Armas) and planning to deploy her on the Cyclades. Hence, next summer will be very interesting and very entertaining from the point of view of a shipping enthusiast like myself.