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  • Writer's pictureAlexandros Vrailas

ANNA MARIA Tribute and Moments of Trip

Trip: 21 July 2018. From Oropos to Eretria, with the ANNA MARIA of Gavanozis Shipping.

The double-ended ferry ANNA MARIA was built in 2009 in Greece for the Greek company Gavanozis Shipping. She was deployed on the Oropos-Eretria line, connecting mainland Greece with the island of Evoia through the South Evoian Gulf. She remained there until 2014. In 2015 she was deployed on the Perama-Salamina line. She returned to the Oropos-Eretria line in 2016, before returning again to the Perama-Salamina line in 2017. She returned once again to the Oropos-Eretria line in 2018.

The ANNA MARIA was the second double-ended ferry to be built for her company, following the AEOLOS which had been built two years earlier. The company then built another double-ended ferry, the AEOLOS II, in 2010. Both the latter and the ANNA MARIA operate for the Salamina Ferries joint venture, and alternate services between the Perama-Salamina line and the Oropos-Eretria line, depending on the summer season. Gavanozis Shipping (owned by the Gavanozis family) owned and operated six ferries as of 2018, with each one of them being deployed on one specific line. These were:

-The ANNA MARIA, on the Oropos-Eretria line.

-The AEOLOS, on the Glyfa-Agiokampos line (operating for the Edipsos Ferries-Glyfa Ferries joint venture).

-The AEOLOS II, on the Perama-Salamina line.

-The landing craft KAPETAN ARISTIDIS, on the Arkitsa-Aidipsos line (also operating for the Edipsos Ferries-Glyfa Ferries joint venture).

-The landing craft THEOLOGOS ELENI, on the Rion-Antirrion line.

-The landing craft MICHALAKIS III, on the Agia Marina-Nea Styra line.

Having so far spent all but two of her first ten seasons of operations on the Oropos-Eretria line, the ANNA MARIA has been a familiar face on that well-known line. Indeed, it connects the small town of Oropos, which is located in the Attica region and is about an hour away North of Athens, with the small coastal village of Eretria, located in the Central part of Southern Evoia, Greece's second largest island, after Crete. The trip lasts only 20 minutes and is served by double-ended ferries, which have replaced landing craft since 2004. It is one of the oldest and most historical lines in the history of the Greek coastal service, as it has been active since the 1950s, when the legendary landing craft ERETRIA of Evoian Shipping began service there. During its golden era, it operated eight ships simultaneously. However, in recent years, the line has been mostly seasonal, being active from early April to late October. The summer of 2018 saw three ferries owned by three different companies operating on the line, with each ship leaving every 20-30 minutes from each port.

As I have now provided you with the history of both the ANNA MARIA and the Oropos-Eretria line, I can now talk about my trip. Indeed, it was made on 21 July 2018, during my summer vacation stay in Greece. Having finished my summer internship at V-Ships Greece, I now awaited my family in order to begin our usual vacation time in Zakynthos and Aegina. In the meantime, I was free during the weekend of 21-22 July 2018, and, coincidentally, I had a very good friend from high school who had come to Evoia for a few days with his family. I decided to go visit him for the day, which required me to travel from Athens to Oropos by bus and then take the ferry to Eretria, followed by a taxi ride to the hotel where he was staying. As a result, I would return to Evoia for the first time since 2000, having been there when I was barely a few months old. Moreover, it was first-ever trip on the Oropos-Eretria line, my first-ever trip on an open-type double-ended ferry, my first-ever trip with a ship owned by Gavanozis Shipping, and my first-ever trip to Evoia by boat. Hence, this trip with the ANNA MARIA was historical in all aspects.

The ANNA MARIA seen approaching the port of Oropos, shortly after I had arrived there by bus.

The beautiful all-white ferry ANNA MARIA seen heading towards Oropos.

The ANNA MARIA having just arrived and docked in Oropos.

The ANNA MARIA seen in Oropos.

Another view of the ANNA MARIA, shortly before boarding her.

Another view of the ANNA MARIA, in what was her eighth season on the Oropos-Eretria line, and her first one since 2016.

The ANNA MARIA in Oropos, shortly before boarding her.

The open garage of the ANNA MARIA seen shortly after boarding her. Like most Greek-built double-ended ferries, there is a staircase next to the ramps leading passengers to the upper decks, where the accommodation superstructure and the bridge are located. The ANNA MARIA has additional garage decks for vehicles on both the starboard side and the port side, in case the main garage is full.

Above each side ramp, the ship had a sign displaying, in Greek, the details of her services and the contact information of her company. It stated that the ship leaves Eretria every hour, when the clock reaches 00', while she departs Oropos every hour, when the clock reaches 30'. Underneath the telephone number, the sign says, in Greek, 'Thank you for choosing our ship, the ANNA MARIA, for your trip'.

The second deck, which is the bottom part of the accommodation superstructure. It features an indoor lounge area. Underneath the windows, the ship's name is written in Greek, as it is the case with most open-type double-ended ferries.

The modern lounge area of the ANNA MARIA, featuring several lounges and chairs available to passengers.

The lounge area, which also has some funky lamps, as well as a small bar which sells water, soft drinks, snacks and ice cream.

One of the corners of the lounge area, also featuring an arcade game machine for gamers. All the ship's windows in this deck are round. This was primarily due to the style that was seen in many Greek open-type double-ended ferries built between the mid 2000s and the early 2010s, including the ANNA MARIA and her fleetmate, the AEOLOS II.

The forward section of the garage, now full (including on the side ramps).

A view of the second deck of the accommodation superstructure, which features a large outdoor area (with numerous aligned white chairs attached to the floor) surrounding the indoor area, which serves as the crew's cabins. The above deck is the bridge, which has a full 360-degree panoramic view. The roof above the bridge is painted in yellow and red, a feature seen in all ferries owned by Gavanozis Shipping.

The outdoor area of the second deck of the accommodation superstructure, filled with many aligned white chairs.

Another sign displaying the timetable of the ANNA MARIA on the Oropos-Eretria line, which was printed and hanged on the accommodation superstructure.

The outdoor area, along with the inflatable life-raft box, seen as we depart Oropos.

The 'gate' mast of the ANNA MARIA seen as the ship departs Oropos in order to head towards Eretria.

Shortly after leaving Oropos, I saw one of the two other ships operating on the line heading towards the opposite direction. It was the ARIS III of Psomas Shipping, which was returning from Eretria.

The ARIS III, built just a year after the ANNA MARIA, seen heading towards Oropos.

The ARIS III on her way to Oropos.

Crossing the ARIS III as she heads towards Oropos. Her company has had a long history on the Oropos-Eretria line. Indeed, they began service in 1967, after having deployed the newly-built landing craft ARIS on the line. They operated her until 2002, when she was sold to GM Shipping. She still sails for that company to date on the Ionian Sea, under the name GRIGORIS M, operating as a Ro-Ro carrier on the Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Paxoi-Ereikousa-Othonoi-Mathraki line. After five years of inactivity, the company ordered a new double-ended ferry, the ARIS II, which began service in 2007 on the Oropos-Eretria line. Three years later, the ARIS III was built, and replaced her elder fleetmate, which was sold to Croatian company Rapska Plovidba. She operates under the name BARBAT on the Stinica-Mišnjak line.

The ARIS III on her way to Oropos. This was her ninth season of service under Psomas Shipping. All of them have been spent on the Oropos-Eretria line, with the exception of the summers of 2015 and 2016, when she was on the Perama-Salamina line.

The ARIS III seen heading towards the port of Oropos.

The ARIS III operated on the Rion-Antirrion line from November 2018 to February 2019. She has now arrived in Perama, as it was announced a few days ago that she has been sold to Italian company Delcomar. She is due to be replaced by a newly-built double-ended ferry named ARIS IV, which has been ordered by her company and will normally be ready in 2020. The new name and the line where the ARIS III will be deployed have not been announced yet.

Ten minutes after passing by the ARIS III, the third ship operating on the line during the 2018 season, the double-ended ferry PROTOPOROS XIII of Tsokos Lines, was seen heading from Eretria to Oropos.

The PROTOPOROS XIII is the youngest and largest ship operating on the line, as she was built in 2017. Therefore, I saw her operating during the second season of her career. She had spent the first one on the Oropos-Eretria line as well.

The PROTOPOROS XIII seen heading from Eretria to Oropos. She was the eleventh ship to be ordered and built for Tsokos Lines, which has been a present figure on the line since being founded in 2004. She was the eleventh order (despite being the thirteenth ship of the company to be named PROTOPOROS) as the PROTOPOROS XI is still under construction, while the PROTOPOROS XII was built in 2018 (but left Greece a few months ago as she had been sold to Tanzanian company Zan Fast Ferries).

The beautiful red PROTOPOROS XIII was built in 2017, replacing the PROTOPOROS IX, which had been built in 2016 for service on the Oropos-Eretria line, but had been sold in early 2017 to another Tanzanian company, Azam Sealink, being renamed AZAM SEALINK 2. Coincidentally, another ship previously owned by Tsokos Lines and operating on the Oropos-Eretria line, the PROTOPOROS V (operating from 2011 to 2012), was sold to the same company in 2012, and still operates there as the AZAM SEALINK 1. Both ferries, just like the former PROTOPOROS XII (now known as the SEA STAR I) operate today on the Dar Es Salaam-Zanzibar line.

The PROTOPOROS XIII heads towards the port of Oropos. She is also part of the Salamina Ferries joint venture, and operated on the Perama-Salamina line during the winter, before returning to her usual service on the Oropos-Eretria line during the spring, the summer and the early fall.

Another view of the PROTOPOROS XIII as she heads towards Oropos.

Five minutes after passing by the PROTOPOROS XIII, we arrived in Eretria. The ANNA MARIA did not need to maneuver due to her being a double-ended ferry: the vehicles and the passengers leave from the opposite side of the one they had entered while boarding in Oropos.

The ANNA MARIA having just arrived in Eretria, and now unloading passengers and vehicles.

Just ten minutes after arriving in Eretria, the ANNA MARIA departed the port in order to return to Oropos.

The ANNA MARIA departing Eretria and heading towards Oropos.

And this officially marked the end of my trip. It was short due to the small distance separating the two ports, but it was still very pleasant and overall a nice experience. The ANNA MARIA is a very good ferry and is just what the line needs. She can operate on several other short-distance routes without any problem. Now, I was ready to go see my friend and his family, after having landed in Evoia for the first time in 18 years.

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