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  • Writer's pictureAlexandros Vrailas

APOLLON HELLAS Tribute and Moments of Trip, Second Edition

Trip: 13 August 2020. From Aegina to Piraeus, with the APOLLON HELLAS of 2way Ferries.

For this first time ever in this Blog, I find myself writing a Tribute Post about the same ship. Indeed, after having already written one on the APOLLON HELLAS during the trip that I had with the latter on 7 August 2017 from Piraeus to Aegina, I find myself writing a new one as the only trip that I had with her this year was quite particular. This was because the ship underwent a major refit, and as a result her amenities are completely different to the ones that I had shown you in her original Tribute Post. As you will see it in the upcoming pictures, her indoor areas were fully upgraded as part of a major renovation plan carried-out by 2way Ferries on the ship prior to the start of the 2020 summer season. They were modernised to today's standards, and they make her look much younger than usual, despite her celebrating her 30th anniversary this year. Besides this impressive transformation, she also saw her engines being upgraded, and she is thus able to sail much faster than before. Therefore, following all these changes, I thought this was the perfect moment to write a second Tribute Post about the APOLLON HELLAS. While I usually write just one Tribute Post for each ship on which I have traveled since this website was launched, under exceptional circumstances I can write a second one. This can happen if a ship on which I have previously traveled changes her ownership or her area of operations, or if such a ship underwent a major refit which changed her overall appearance and amenities, as it is the case here with the APOLLON HELLAS.

While the ship's full historical background can be seen in either her page on the Gallery or in the previous Tribute Post, I still want to provide some information for viewers who see this post for the first time without having necessarily seen the aforementioned pages. The APOLLON HELLAS was built in 1990 in Greece, as the GEORGIOS of Akouriki Shipping Company, and she operated on the Saronic Gulf until 1995, when she was sold to the South Korean company Wing Ferry Company and was renamed SUN BEACH. After spending four years in South Korea, she was repatriated in the country where she had been built, hence becoming one of the few ships to have returned to Greece after having been owned by a company operating overseas. Her new owner was Poseidon Consortium Shipping, which renamed her APOLLON HELLAS and deployed her back on the Saronic Gulf in 1999. At the end of that same year, her company was taken over by the newly-formed giant Minoan Flying Dolphins, which then became Hellas Flying Dolphins in 2002. For the latter, the ship operated under the Saronikos Ferries division. In 2005 the company was restructured as Hellenic Seaways, and the ship continued to operate for them on the Saronic Gulf until 2013. In 2014 she was deployed on the Sporades for the first time in her career. She first operated on the Volos-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos line, and in 2015 she was inserted on the Agios Konstantinos-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos line. In 2016 she was sold to 2way Ferries, which coincidentally was the successor of Poseidon Consortium Shipping, and she therefore returned to her original owner, Papaïoannidis. After spending the summer on Agios Konstantinos-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos line, she returned to the Saronic Gulf in 2017, being deployed on the Piraeus-Aegina-Methana-Poros line (which she had also served during her stint under Hellenic Seaways) under the Saronic Ferries joint venture (which includes 2way Ferries and Nova Ferries).

So this is a quick overview of the ship's history, which has seen her operating in various areas, although her true base is the Saronic Gulf. In 30 years of service, she has operated on the Saronic Gulf in 23 of them. She has also been a notable part of my childhood, as I would travel regularly with her in order to go to Aegina, which is, as you know, one of the two islands in which I go to every summer in Greece. I would frequently see her docked in the ports of Aegina and Piraeus, or sailing in the middle of the Saronic Gulf. Since her return to the latter in 2017, I have traveled with her three times. The first time was, as I previously stated, on 7 August 2017 from Piraeus to Aegina. The second time was on 7 July 2018, again from Piraeus to Aegina, while the third time was this year, on 13 August 2020, as I was heading from Aegina back to Piraeus.

After having arrived in Aegina on 7 August 2020 with one of the ship's fleetmates, the ACHAEOS, it was time for my family to head back to Athens as we were then planning to spend a few days in Andros before eventually going back to Aegina later in the summer. We thus left on 13 August 2020 during the afternoon, and the ship on which we were going to travel happened to be the APOLLON HELLAS. As such, this was my first-ever trip with the ship since her major refurbishment, and my second trip of the 2020 season.

The APOLLON HELLAS seen in the port of Aegina, as she is loading passengers and vehicles right before her departure for Piraeus.

The APOLLON HELLAS docked in Aegina, in what was her fourth consecutive season on the Saronic Gulf, as well as her fifth summer under 2way Ferries.

The beautiful APOLLON HELLAS seen in Aegina. She is the only ship of her company that is not a double-ended ferry, as such she does not really fit the name of her owners. Regardless, she performs very well for them, with her success being even more considerable this year thanks to her renovation.

The APOLLON HELLAS seen right before we embarked onboard her.

As soon as we embarked onboard, I began to explore the renovated indoor areas of the ship. Indeed, compared to the last trip that I had with the APOLLON HELLAS, there were indeed notable changes. As you can see, new chairs and tables were added in the ship's lower accommodation deck indoor area. They are either grey or yellow, and they look much more comfortable and convenient. The floor and the ceiling were also modernised, while new white columns were added.

A view of the ship's main indoor area, which clearly looks brighter and more modern compared to what it was previously. The ship's bar, operated by the well-known Greek chain Everest, was also upgraded. Moreover, the central lounges were removed and replaced by the new chairs.

Moving more forward, one can spot additional chairs. Overall, the indoor lounge area just seemed like it was more appealing and upgraded due to it becoming more bright and with the wooden floor making it appear like there was more space, in contrast to the old carpet that was previously onboard the ship.

Another view of the upgraded indoor lounge area. At the back one can spot the ship's reception desk and pursuer's office, which remained the same although the wall surrounding it was fully painted in dark grey.

The new staircase leading to the upper passenger deck, which was however unaccessible during this trip.

A view of the ship's upper passenger deck outdoor area, which features a sun deck with several seats. While the chairs appeared to be the same as the ones she usually has, they were certainly repainted as they looked very bright.

The open deck seen at the highest accessible point of the ship, which helps the passenger have a 360 degree overview of the ship and her surroundings. It looked identical to the one I saw a when I had previously traveled with the ship, so I assume that it was not renovated in contrast to the indoor areas.

A view of the ship's foremast.

The ship's foremast carries two notable flags. The one at the top is the company flag of 2way Ferries, while the one at the bottom is the official flag of Aegina.

Three of the ship's life-rafts, stored into canister containers, as it is the case with most ships operating on short-distance trips.

At around 16:00, the APOLLON HELLAS left Aegina in order to begin her trip towards Piraeus. While departing the island, the hydrofoil FLYING DOLPHIN XVII of Hellenic Seaways was seen arriving. She is one of the many former fleetmates of the APOLLON HELLAS.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVII seen arriving in Aegina. Built in 1984, she has spent her entire career on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri-Poros-Hydra-Ermioni-Spetses-Porto Cheli line on the Saronic Gulf. She began serving Ceres Flying Dolphins, until the latter was acquired by Minoan Flying Dolphins (the former owners of the APOLLON HELLAS) in 1999, which became Hellas Flying Dolphins in 2002 and then was rebranded as Hellenic Seaways in 2005.

Crossing the FLYING DOLPHIN XVII as she heads towards the port of Aegina. This was her first summer under the new Hellenic Seaways livery that was introduced after the partnership with Cosmote (which saw the latter advertising the company's high speed craft) ended. As Hellenic Seaways decided not to collaborate with a new advertiser, the high speed craft were repainted in the company's traditional colours.

Another view of the FLYING DOLPHIN XVII as she heads towards Aegina. I have traveled with her only once, back in 7 August 2019, when I headed from Aegina to Piraeus.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVII on her way towards Aegina.

A few minutes later, I spotted one of the fleetmates of the APOLLON HELLAS, namely the double-ended ferry ACHAEOS. She was seen heading from Piraeus to Aegina.

The ACHAEOS seen on the Saronic Gulf, while heading towards Aegina. Built in 2006 for 2way Ferries, she has been operating on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri line since 2014.

Crossing the ACHAEOS, in what was her seventh consecutive season on the Saronic Gulf, and eighth overall. Indeed, she spent her debut summer in 2006 on the Piraeus-Aegina line. She then moved to the Ionian Sea after that year's summer, as she was deployed on the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line. Apart from a charter to the Italian company Blunavy from 2011 to 2012 (during which she operated on the Piombino-Elba line), she constantly remained in this service, before moving back to the Saronic Gulf in 2014.

The ACHAEOS seen heading towards Aegina. Her return to the Saronic Gulf was very successful, and it eventually lead in her company becoming the main ferry operator there. Indeed, just one year after she began service on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri line, 2way Ferries bought the POSIDON HELLAS of Hellenic Seaways (which was also operating on the Saronic Gulf), and then just one year later they bought the APOLLON HELLAS, which became the third ship of the company to operate on the Saronic Gulf in 2017.

The ACHAEOS seen on the Saronic Gulf, while heading towards Aegina. Just six days before taking this picture, I had traveled onboard her while heading from Piraeus to Aegina, with this marking my first trip for the 2020 season.

The ACHAEOS seen on the Saronic Gulf. Overall, at the time of my trip with the APOLLON HELLAS, I had traveled with her seven times: twice in 2014, once in 2016, twice in 2018, once in 2019 and once in 2020. I then traveled with her two more time during the 2020 season, on 27 August 2020 and then on 13 September 2020 (both times from Aegina to Piraeus).

One last view of the ACHAEOS as she is seen sailing towards the port of Aegina.

The next ship that I saw was the hydrofoil FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA of Aegean Flying Dolphins, which was also heading from Piraeus to Aegina

Crossing the FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA as she heads towards Aegina. She was built in 1991 and has spent the largest part of her career on the Saronic Gulf. She has been owned by Aegean Flying Dolphins since 2010, and spent her debut season under them on the Piraeus-Hydra-Spetses-Porto Cheli line. Since 2011 she has been on the same line as the ACHAEOS, namely the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri line.

The FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA seen on the Saronic Gulf, during her eleventh season under Aegean Flying Dolphins, and tenth consecutive summer on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri line.

Another view of the FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA as she heads towards Aegina and Agistri.

Just a few moments after seeing the FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA, I again spotted the FLYING DOLPHIN XVII, although this time she was heading in the same direction as the APOLLON HELLAS.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVII, which had managed to quickly dock and load her new passengers in order to begin heading back to Piraeus.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVII preparing to pass by the APOLLON HELLAS.

Crossing the FLYING DOLPHIN XVII on the Saronic Gulf, as she heads back to Piraeus.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVII seen during her first season while featuring the new and beautiful Hellenic Seaways livery.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVII having passed by her former fleetmate. Indeed, from 1999 to 2016, the two ships belonged to the same owner, namely Minoan Flying Dolphins (1999-2002), Hellas Flying Dolphins (2002-2005), and Hellenic Seaways from 2005 until the APOLLON HELLAS was sold to 2way Ferries in 2016. The FLYING DOLPHIN XVII continues to operate for Hellenic Seaways to date.

The next ship that I went on to see was the conventional ferry AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS of ANES Ferries, which was also heading towards Aegina.

The loyal and hardworking AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS seen heading towards Aegina. She was built in 1999 in Greece, and just like the APOLLON HELLAS, she has spent her Greek career on the Sporades and on the Saronic Gulf. She has been on the latter since 2001, when she first began service on the Piraeus-Aegina line, which she still serves to date.

The AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS seen during her twentieth season on the Piraeus-Aegina line. Before that, she spent the first two summers of her career on the Sporades, as the PANAGIA SKIATHOU of the Northern Sporades and Evoia Shipping Company, while serving the Volos-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos-Pyli line. She was renamed AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS in 2001, when she began operating on the Saronic Gulf, She remained under the Northern Sporades and Evoia Shipping Company until 2007, when she was bought by ANES Ferries. Despite the latter being initially based on the Dodecanese, she has remained on the Piraeus-Aegina line ever since.

The AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS seen heading from Piraeus to Aegina.

The AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS en route towards Aegina.

After only an hour, at around 17:00, the APOLLON HELLAS had arrived in Piraeus. The first that I could spot from the ship's open deck was another one of her former Hellenic Seaways fleetmates. Indeed, it was the gigantic ferry NISSOS RODOS.

A view of the NISSOS RODOS while is seen resting in Piraeus. She has been owned by Hellenic Seaways since 2005. She was operating on the Piraeus-Chios-Mytilene line on the Northeast Aegean Sea for the third summer in a row.

At the entrance of the port was the ferry EKATERINI P of Fast Ferries. She was not operating during the 2020 summer season, as her crew instead continued the repair work on her engines, which were damaged in 2019, right before that year's summer season.

The EKATERINI P seen alongside the larger ferry BLUE STAR 1 of Blue Star Ferries, which was preparing to depart for the Cyclades and the Dodecanese.

The EKATERINI P seen in Piraeus. She was built in Japan in 1990 (the same year as the APOLLON HELLAS), and she first arrived in Greece in 1999 (the same year during which the APOLLON HELLAS returned to Greece) after having been bought by Fast Ferries. After her conversion, she first served the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line from 1999 to 2011. In 2012 she underwent another conversion and was deployed on the Cyclades, on the Rafina-Andros-Tinos-Mykonos line, where she became very successful. In 2016 she moved to the Rafina-Tinos-Mykonos-Naxos line, where she also had a very good stint. Her engine are currently being improved so that she can resume service in 2021.

A view of the impressive BLUE STAR 1, which is the flagship of her company. For the 2020 season, she operated on the Piraeus-Syros-Paros-Naxos-Santorini-Samos-Kos-Rhodes line.

The BLUE STAR 1, which, just like her company, was celebrating her twentieth anniversary since she first began operations. She has been one of her company's most useful ships, as she has operated across many areas, including the Adriatic Sea, the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, the Northeast Aegean Sea and Crete. She also had a brief stint abroad, when she was deployed on the Zeebrugge-Rosyth line on the North Sea from 2007 to 2008, back when Attica Group (the parent company of Blue Star Ferries) was operating there.

The BLUE STAR 1 seen in Piraeus. After serving the Northeast Aegean Sea from 2015 to 2018, she was now on her third consecutive summer on the Cyclades and the Dodecanese (where she also operated from 2002 to 2004, from 2008 to 2012, and in 2014). She was one of the three ships of Blue Star Ferries to operate on the Dodecanese, the other ones being her sister ship, the BLUE STAR 2, and the BLUE STAR CHIOS (ex-NISSOS CHIOS of Hellenic Seaways, hence a former fleetmate of the APOLLON HELLAS), which joined the company in 2020.

Another view of the EKATERINI P, which was spending her second straight summer in the Piraeus area as a result of her engine failure.

The BLUE STAR 1 seen in Piraeus, shortly before she departed the port.

Next to her was the high speed ferry SUPERRUNNER of Golden Star Ferries, which was seen in Piraeus.

The NISSOS RODOS docked in Piraeus.

The BLUE STAR 1 seen in Piraeus, right before her late afternoon departure for Syros.

One last view of the BLUE STAR 1 in Piraeus.

The EKATERINI P and the BLUE STAR 1 seen together in Piraeus.

Passing by the NISSOS RODOS, another former fleetmate of the APOLLON HELLAS.

I then went on to see three other high speed craft. The first two were high speed ferries, while the third one was a high speed trimaran. Indeed, I saw the SUPEREXPRESS of Golden Star Ferries, the CHAMPION JET 1 of Sea Jets and the SUPERSPEED of Golden Star Ferries.

Next to them, I saw two other high speed ferries. The first one was the hydrofoil FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX of Hellenic Seaways (which was leaving Piraeus), while the other one was the high speed catamaran CHAMPION JET 2 of Sea Jets. She is a sister ship and a fleetmate of the CHAMPION JET 1. Moreover, she was built in the same shipyard as the SUPERXPRESS, which is the famous Incat Shipyard in Australia. All three ships operated on the Channel before later coming to Greece.

The SUPEREXPRESS and the CHAMPION JET 1 seen together in Piraeus. Both of them are fierce rivals, as their owners, who are mainly based on the Cyclades, engage in an intensive competition through the many impressive high speed craft that they have at their disposal. Both ships used to also operate for the Spanish company Naviera Armas. Indeed, the SUPEREXPRESS (then known as the EXPRESS) was under charter to them in 2018 (the summer before she joined Golden Star Ferries), while the CHAMPION JET 1 was chartered to them the following year. She then rejoined Sea Jets in 2020.

A view of the SUPERSPEED in Piraeus. She became the second high speed craft to join her company, the first one being the SUPERRUNNER. She was bought in late 2017, and first began service in 2018, on the Sporades, while serving the Thessaloniki-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos line. In 2019 she moved to the Cyclades, and had an unfortunate season on the Rafina-Syros-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos-Koufonisi-Amorgos line, as she suffered a major engine failure which ended her summer prematurely.

I then spotted the BLUE HORIZON of Blue Star Ferries, which operates on the Piraeus-Heraklion line since 2014.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX, another former fleetmate of the APOLLON HELLAS, seen leaving the port of Piraeus.

Crossing the FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX as she is seen leaving Piraeus. Just like the FLYING DOLPHIN XVII, she operates on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri-Poros-Hydra-Ermioni-Spetses-Porto Cheli line. She is also seen carrying the new livery of Hellenic Seaways.

Another view of the FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX, which is the youngest active hydrofoil in Greece. Indeed, she was built in 1993 for Ceres Flying Dolphins, and since the start of her career she has been operating on the Saronic Gulf.

Right behind her, another ship was seen leaving the port. This time, it was a new ship which I saw for the first time in my life. Indeed, it was the small high speed boat SEBECO of ANES Ferries, which was spending her debut season on the Piraeus-Northern Aegina line, serving the port of Souvala.

The SEBECO seen leaving Piraeus, with the CHAMPION JET 2 spotted right behind her. She was built in 2018 in Greece, and spent her first two summers under ANES Ferries on the Rhodes-Symi line on the Dodecanese. In 2020 she came to the Saronic Gulf for the first time, as she replaced the AGIA MARINA AEGINIS (which was bought by ANES Ferries in 2019), which was not activated during the summer, and has been rumoured to have been sold to Aqua Vera NE, a newly-established company.

The SUPEREXPRESS seen in Piraeus, during her second year under Golden Star Ferries.

The SEBECO seen leaving Piraeus in order to head towards the port of Souvala in Aegina.

Right behind her was yet another ship which had departed the port. This time, it was the small passenger boat GEORGIOS BROUFAS of Broufas Vessels, which operates on the Piraeus-Salamina line.

While the APOLLON HELLAS was heading towards her docking spot, I saw that the PHIVOS of Nova Ferries was docked there. Just like the APOLLON HELLAS, she operates on the Piraeus-Aegina-Methana-Poros line.

Next to the PHIVOS was the POSIDON HELLAS (also owned by 2way Ferries), and the FLYING DOLPHIN XVII, which had arrived in Piraeus.

The SEBECO seen leaving Piraeus. In 2019, a ship which also had her name and which was built in the same shipyard as her was operating on the Saronic Gulf. Indeed, it was the SEBECO II of Alko Ferries, which was built in 2019 (a year after the SEBECO) and was operating on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri line. She stayed there for just one season, as she moved to the Rhodes-Chalki line on the Dodecanese (where the SEBECO had previously been operating) in 2020.

Another view of the SEBECO, in what was her first summer on the Saronic Gulf.

The GEORGIOS BROUFAS seen leaving Piraeus for Salamina. Built in 1997 in Greece, she has spent her entire career on the Piraeus-Salamina line, except for 2016, when she operated for one single season on the Cyclades, on the Ios-Sikinos-Folegandros line.