ELENI Tribute and Moments of Trip
Trip: 21 July 2021. From Aegina to Piraeus, with the ELENI of Kerkyra Seaways.
The landing craft ELENI was built in 1993 in Greece for the company Elene B Shipping. She was initially named ELENE B and began operations on the Rion-Antirrion line, becoming one of the many landing craft to serve the historical line. However, following the construction of the Rion-Antirrion Bridge in 2004, several companies decided to withdraw their ferries from the service as they believed that the bridge would take away most passengers and vehicles due to the shorter time it takes for the crossing. As a result, the ELENE B was sold in 2005 to the Corfu-based company Gerontakis Shipping. The latter, owned by the Gerontakis family, has been operating on the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line on the Ionian Sea since 1973, when it deployed the then-newly-built landing craft NANTI to serve the island of Corfu. After cementing her presence there despite strong competition, the NANTI brought considerable revenue to the company, which was used to buy another landing craft, the AGIOS DIMITRIOS of Repas-Vlantis NE (built in 1972), in 1985. These two ships continued to serve the company for the next 20 years, until the acquisition of the ELENE B. The latter was renamed ELENI and initially served the Ron-Antirrion line in 2005, before joining her fleetmates on the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line two years later. She was also joined by the company's new addition, the landing craft MIAOULIS I of Miaoulis Shipping, which was also deployed on the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line as the AGIA EIRINI. As a result, the older AGIOS DIMITRIOS which was sold in 2008 to the Equatorial Guinean company Malabo Barque. With three landing craft, Gerontakis Shipping remained a strong force on the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line. In 2018, the company formed the Corfu Ferries joint venture alongside longtime Corfu-based company Kerkyra Seaways (formerly S&L Ferries, and previously Feax Express Lines). In 2020 the ELENI and the AGIA EIRINI were transferred to Kerkyra Seaways, and both ships were refurbished in Salamina. The following year, in 2021, the ELENI was unexpectedly called to operate on the Piraeus-Aegina line on the Saronic Gulf, in order to cover the void left by the ferry AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS of ANES Ferries, which had to be redeployed on the Sporades in order to replace her fleetmate, the SYMI, which saw her season end prematurely as a result of a severe engine failure. She became the first landing craft to operate on the Piraeus-Aegina line since 2007, and she provided a very good service despite her small size compared to the ferries of the Saronic Ferries joint venture. Following the completion of the 2021 season and the return of the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS from the Sporades (where she served the Agios Konstantinos-Glyfa-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos line), she resumed her service on the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line.
This is the overall summary of the reliable landing craft ELENI, which has gone to have an experience on several short-distance services of the Greek coastal service. She has spent the bulk of her career on the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line, where she has so far resisted competition against Kerkyra Lines or 2way Ferries, even though she eventually joined former rivals Kerkyra Seaways as a result of the strengthening business relations between the latter and Gerontakis Shipping.
The arrival of the ELENI on the Piraeus-Aegina line is perhaps one of the most unexpected events that the Saronic Gulf has seen in recent years. Even if you had told me back in June 2021 that such a move would occur, I would have considered it impossible. But as ANES Ferries had to find a quick replacement following the departure of the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS, Kerkyra Seaways immediately brought over the ELENI, which went on to spend most of July and all of August on the Piraeus-Aegina line. As a result of this, I was able to travel onboard a new ferry on the Saronic Gulf, and most notably for the first time on a landing craft since at least 2005. Indeed, up until 2007, many landing craft operated under the Saronikos Ferries division of Minoan Flying Dolphins (later Hellas Flying Dolphins) and later under Hellenic Seaways in its first two years of existence. Up until I turned 6 years old, I could not remember which ferries I traveled on in Greece, hence there might have been a probability of me having sailed onboard a landing craft on the Saronic Gulf. My eventual trip with the ELENI was therefore the first one I would remember as one onboard a landing craft on the Piraeus-Aegina line.
Having spent two days in Aegina after having traveled there with the hydrofoil FLYING DOLPHIN XVII of Hellenic Seaways, I was now heading back to Piraeus as I would then spend a 10-day trip on the Cyclades alongside friends from my exchange semester in Beijing. As I had to be in Piraeus before the afternoon, I chose to travel with the ELENI at 10:00. As stated previously, it was my first trip with a landing craft on the Piraeus-Aegina line in recent memory, and my first-ever trip with a ferry based in Corfu.
The ELENI seen arriving in Aegina during the summer of 2021, which was her first-ever on the Piraeus-Aegina line.
While the ELENI was approaching Aegina, I also happened to see the small passenger boat ANNA II of Antoniou Cruises, which was completing her maneuvering procedure in order to dock in the port.
The ANNA II seen preparing to dock in Aegina. Built in 1991 in Greece, she has spent her entire career on the Saronic Gulf, operating one-day cruises during the summer season on the Isthmia-Aegina-Agistri-Poros-Loutraki line. She is notably the only ship connecting the Saronic Gulf with Isthmia and Loutraki, which are both located next to the Corinth Canal.
The ANNA II seen maneuvering in Aegina, having now completed 30 years of service for the Poros-based company Antoniou Cruises.
The ELENI seen arriving in Aegina while the ANNA II is about to dock.
The ELENI seen approaching the port of Aegina, in her first full summer under Kerkyra Seaways.
Another view of the ANNA II in Aegina. She departs Isthmia in the morning, but, after stopping by all three Saronic Gulf islands, she instead returns to Loutraki.
The ELENI about to dock in the port of Aegina, shortly before my trip with her.
Another view of the ELENI as she is seen approaching the port of Aegina. The summer of 2021 marked the second time in which I saw the ship in my life. Indeed, the first time had been three years prior, back in 25 August 2018, when I saw her in the port of Igoumenitsa while traveling from Patras to Ancona with the OLYMPIC CHAMPION of ANEK Lines.
While the ELENI was arriving in Aegina, the hydrofoil FLYING DOLPHIN XIX of Hellenic Seaways was departing the port of Aegina.
The FLYING DOLPHIN XIX seen leaving Aegina while the ELENI is about to dock.
The FLYING DOLPIN XIX and the ELENI seen together in the port of Aegina.
The ELENI seen right before docking in Aegina, featuring the new livery of Kerkyra Seaways. The latter had four other ferries operating on the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line and on the Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Paxoi line: the newly-introduced conventional ferry HERMES, the ferry AGIOS SPIRIDON, the double-ended ferry IONAS and the AGIA EIRINI.
The ANNA II now seen resting in the port of Aegina.
The ANNA II seen in the port of Aegina, where she would go on to stay for a few hours before making her way to Agistri and Poros.
The ELENI seen in Aegina right before I embarked onboard her.
A view of the ship's accommodation superstructure right upon my embarkation. It looks like a typical one found in landing craft, with side alleys bringing passengers to the decks via staircases. The ship's name is written in Greek letters.
A view of the accommodation superstructure of the ELENI, which features three decks overall.
As stated previously, the ELENI underwent an extensive refurbishment during her annual refit from 2020 to 2021 in Salamina. As such, her indoor areas were upgraded and modernised. They featured more comfortable lounges and chairs, as seen in the lounge area of the lower deck of the accommodation superstructure.
A view of the chairs and lounge seats in the lounge area of the lower deck of the accommodation superstructure, most of which had a dark grey colour.
A view of the lounge area of the lower deck of the accommodation superstructure towards the stern section, once again featuring many grey wicker chairs.
Another view of the grey wicker chairs in the stern section of the passenger indoor lounge area of the lower deck of the accommodation superstructure.
A view of the port side alley located outside of the indoor lounge area, with the staircase leading to the middle deck of the accommodation superstructure.
The starboard side of the outdoor alley leading to the middle deck, as seen from the ship's stern.
A view of the middle deck of the accommodation superstructure, featuring the port side alley that leads to the ship's bridge and crew cabins.
The middle deck of the accommodation superstructure features several rows of white wooden benches, where passengers can stay outdoors throughout the duration of the trip.
Another view of the benches seen in the outdoor deck of the middle deck of the accommodation superstructure. The staircase on the left leads to the upper deck, which is not accessible to passengers and simply features the ship's funnel.
A view of the mess room behind the crew cabins in the middle deck of the ship's accommodation superstructure. It features a wooden table and two wooden chairs, a large black lounge, as well as a few frames. The one of the left shows the ship in her original livery under Gerontakis Shipping.
Just as the ELENI was about to depart, I saw the conventional double-ended ferry POSIDON HELLAS of 2way Ferries arriving in Aegina.
The POSIDON HELLAS seen approaching the port of Aegina. Built in 1998, she has been owned by 2way Ferries since 2015. She serves the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri-Methana-Poros line under the Saronic Ferries joint venture which includes 2way Ferries and Nova Ferries.
The POSIDON HELLAS seen as she heads towards Aegina, in what was her twenty-fourth season on the Saronic Gulf (where she has spent her entire career) and her seventh summer under 2way Ferries.
A view of the ANNA II as she is seen resting in Aegina.
The POSIDON HELLAS preparing to dock in the port of Aegina.
The POSIDON HELLAS approaching her docking spot in Aegina. When she was built in 1998, she became the first-ever conventional double-ended ferry in the history of the Greek coastal service.
The POSIDON HELLAS seen about to dock in Aegina in Aegina. During the summer of 2021, she established a new impressive record regarding my traveling experience. Indeed, I was onboard her for a total of six times during that summer, which broke the record previously held by the PHIVOS of Nova Ferries, on which I had traveled four times during two different summers (2007 and 2019). My first-ever trip with her under her current owners was on 16 August 2016, while heading from Aegina to Piraeus.
The POSIDON HELLAS seen as she is about to dock in Aegina. The first two years of her career were spent under the ownership of Poseidon Shipping Consortium (owned by the Papaïoannidis family which later established 2way Ferries), before the latter was taken over by Minoan Flying Dolphins in 1999. As a result, the ship operated under the Saronikos Ferries division. The company then became Hellas Flying Dolphins in 2002, before being rebranded as Hellenic Seaways in 2005. After serving the latter for 10 years, the POSIDON HELLAS was sold to 2way Ferries in 2015.
The POSIDON HELLAS having just docked in Aegina. In the meantime, the ELENI began her departure for Piraeus a few minutes after 10:00.
A view of the POSIDON HELLAS in Aegina, right after she docked in the port.
The POSIDON HELLAS seen resting in Aegina. She was one of the four ferries operating under the Saronic Ferries joint venture, which is composed of 2way Ferries and Nova Ferries.
Another view of the veteran small passenger boat ANNA II in Aegina, as we now depart the port in order to head to Piraeus.
A view of the stern of the POSIDON HELLAS.
The ANNA II and the POSIDON HELLAS, two passenger ships that have been operating on the Saronic Gulf for their entire careers, seen together in the port of Aegina.
While the ELENI was departing the port of Aegina, another ship was seen leaving as well. This was the small passenger boat AGISTRI EXPRESS I of Agistriotiki NE, which operates on the local Aegina-Agistri line on the Saronic Gulf.
The AGISTRI EXPRESS I is seen leaving Aegina in order to head to Agistri. Built in 2000 in Greece, she has performed her service since the start of her career, hence connecting both islands and their residents throughout most of the year.
Another view of the POSIDON HELLAS, which was loading passengers and vehicles in order to head to Agistri as well.
The ANNA II and the POSIDON HELLAS seen together once again in the port of Aegina.
The POSIDON HELLAS now seen undergoing her maneuvering procedure in order to head to Agistri.
As we were leaving Aegina, I once again saw the FLYING DOLPHIN XIX heading towards the port. She had just returned from Agistri.
The FLYING DOLPHIN XIX seen heading towards the port of Aegina. Built in 1983 in Georgia (then part of the Soviet Union), she arrived in Greece in 1986 for Ceres Flying Dolphins, and operated on the Sporades until her company was taken over by Minoan Flying Dolphins in 1999. Two years after her new owners were renamed Hellas Flying Dolphins, she was deployed on the Saronic Gulf in 2004, on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri-Poros-Hydra-Ermioni-Spetses-Porto Cheli line. The company was then rebranded as Hellenic Seaways in 2005, and the hydrofoil remained on the Saronic Gulf until she grounded off in the islet of Metopi (located between Aegina and Agistri) in 2012. She was declared a constructive total loss and was laid-up in Perama for the next 8 years. After her fleetmate, the FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII, was severely damaged by a fire in Perama in 2019 (which resulted in her being scrapped at the end of that year), the FLYING DOLPHIN XIX was unexpectedly reactivated and repaired, and resumed service on the Saronic Gulf in 2020.
The FLYING DOLPHIN XIX seen heading towards Aegina, in what was her second consecutive summer on the Saronic Gulf following her reactivation.
The POSIDON HELLAS is seen leaving Aegina, while the FLYING DOLPHIN XIX heads towards her docking spot. Both ships used to be fleetmates under Minoan Flying Dolphins/Hellas Flying Dolphins, and later under Hellenic Seaways until the POSIDON HELLAS joined 2way Ferries in 2015.
A view of the FLYING DOLPHIN XIX approaching her docking spot in Aegina, whereas the POSIDON HELLAS is sailing towards Agistri.
Shortly after we had left Aegina, we encountered the ferry APOLLON HELLAS of 2way Ferries. Built in 1990 in Greece, she has also spent the bulk of her career on the Saronic Gulf. She notably serves the Piraeus-Aegina-Methana-Poros line.
The APOLLON HELLAS seen on the Saronic Gulf, while sailing from Piraeus to Aegina. She has been owned by 2way Ferries since 2016. Prior to that, she operated on the Saronic Gulf as the GEORGIOS for Akouriki Shipping Company from 1990 to 1995. She was then sold to the South Korean company Wing Ferry Company, for whom she operated for two years as the SUN BEACH on the Nokdong-Jeju line on the Jeju Strait before being laid-up in 1997. In 1999, however, she was repatriated to Greece as she was acquired by Poseidon Consortium Shipping (the former original owners of the POSIDON HELLAS) in 1999 and was reintroduced on the Saronic Gulf. Later in that same year, she joined Minoan Flying Dolphins and operated for the Saronikos Ferries division. She remained there as the company became Hellas Flying Dolphins in 2002 and then Hellenic Seaways in 2005. In 2014 she was sent to operate on the Sporades, on the Volos-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos line, while in 2015 she was inserted on the Agios Konstantinos-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos line. In 2016, she was sold to 2way Ferries, hence joining the POSIDON HELLAS which had departed the fleet of Hellenic Seaways in the same manner just a year prior. She remained on the Agios Konstantinos-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos line during that year, before returning to the Saronic Gulf in 2017.
A view of the APOLLON HELLAS as she sails to Aegina, in what was her fifth season in a row on the Piraeus-Aegina-Methana-Poros line, and overall her sixth summer under 2way Ferries.
The APOLLON HELLAS seen as she heads to Aegina. She underwent a major renovation in 2020, during which her indoor areas were upgraded and made the ship look more appealing and modern despite her now being over 30 years old. My first trip with the ship following her refurbishment was on 13 August 2020, as I was heading from Aegina to Piraeus.
Crossing the APOLLON HELLAS on the Saronic Gulf as she sails to Aegina.
The APOLLON HELLAS seen on the Saronic Gulf while heading to Aegina.
One final view of the APOLLON HELLAS.
A few minutes after seeing the APOLLON HELLAS, I got to spot the hydrofoil FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA of Aegean Flying Dolphins. Built in 1991 in Georgia, she has spent her entire career in Greece. She joined her current owners in 2010, and served the Piraeus-Hydra-Spetses-Porto Cheli line on the Saronic Gulf. Since 2011 she has been operating on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri line.
A view of the FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA on the Saronic Gulf as she sails from Piraeus to Aegina.
The FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA seen sailing to Aegina, in what was her twelfth season under Aegean Flying Dolphins.
A view of the front section of the ELENI, as she is seen sailing towards Piraeus.
After more than 80 minutes, we were now approaching the port of Piraeus. There, we saw the double-ended ferry ACHAEOS of 2way Ferries departing the port in order to also head to Aegina.
The ACHAEOS seen right after she had exited the port of Piraeus. She was built in 2006 in Greece for 2way Ferries, and has been operating on the Saronic Gulf since 2014. Coincidentally, she operated from late 2006 to 2013 (with the exception of a year-long charter to the Italian company Blunavy in 2011) on the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line. She was therefore a former competitor of the ELENI on the Ionian Sea. The summer of 2021 saw them competing against each other once again, this time on the Saronic Gulf.
The ACHAEOS seen right after exiting the port of Piraeus. During her debut season in 2006, she operated on the Piraeus-Aegina line, before moving to the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line, a year after the ELENI began service under Gerontakis Shipping and a year before the latter moved to the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line. Since her return to the Saronic Gulf in 2014, she has been operating on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri line.
The ACHAEOS seen as she leaves Piraeus in order to head to Aegina. Even though she has left the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line, her company still deploys a ship there. Indeed, this is the ANO CHORA II, which has been serving the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line since 2005.
The reliable ACHAEOS seen as she heads to Aegina, during her eighth consecutive summer on the Saronic Gulf, and ninth overall when including her debut season in 2006.
Crossing the ACHAEOS as she has left Piraeus and is now heading to Aegina.
The ACHAEOS seen sailing to Aegina, while the ELENI is about to enter the port of Piraeus.
One last view of the ACHAEOS, which is seen sailing to Aegina.
Upon entering the port of Piraeus, I spotted the BLUE STAR 2 of Blue Star Ferries. Built in 2000, she has been operating on the Dodecanese for the company since 2005, becoming one of its most valuable assets in the region.
Right upon seeing the BLUE STAR 2, I also saw the cruiseferry KYDON PALACE of Minoan Lines, which operates on the Piraeus-Milos-Chania line.
The BLUE STAR 2 and the KYDON PALACE, two much-acclaimed ferries built in the early 2000s, seen together in Piraeus. The BLUE STAR 2 has notably operated on the Piraeus-Chania line (where the KYDON PALACE operates today), having spent two seasons there in 2003 and 2004.
A view of the BLUE STAR 2 in Piraeus. This was her second season on the Piraeus-Syros-Amorgos-Patmos-Leros-Kalymnos-Kos-Rhodes line. Since her entry to service on the Dodecanese, she has constantly served the main islands of the Dodecanese, being notably on the Piraeus-Syros-Amorgos-Patmos-Leros-Kos-Rhodes line from 2005 to 2014. In 2015 she was on the Piraeus-Syros-Mykonos-Santorini-Kos-Rhodes line, and in the subsequent years several islands were added to this itinerary, including Karpathos in 2016 and then Samos in 2017.
A view of the KYDON PALACE in Piraeus. This was her second consecutive season serving the Piraeus-Chania line (although Milos was added to her itinerary in 2021) and under her current name. Before that, she had spent her whole career on the Piraeus-Heraklion line, as the FESTOS PALACE. Following the fleet shuffle undertaken by Minoan Lines in 2020, the ship was renamed KYDON PALACE and began her current service.
The KYDON PALACE seen resting in the port of Piraeus. She was built in 2001 for Minoan Lines, and was the second out of the four sister ships ordered by the company in Italy between 2000 and 2002.
The BLUE STAR 2 seen resting in Piraeus. Since beginning her career for Blue Star Ferries, she has become one of the most successful ships of the Greek coastal service. Even more than two decades later, she still appears like a newly-built ferry, and she continues to provide excellent service on the Cyclades and the Dodecanese.
Passing by the BLUE STAR 2, in what was her seventeenth consecutive summer on the Dodecanese.
The BLUE STAR 2 docked in Piraeus. Her sister ship, the equally-successful BLUE STAR 1, was unfortunately not present in Greece during the summer of 2021, as she was chartered to Irish Ferries in order to serve the Pembroke Dock-Rosslare line on the Irish Sea. She is also due to stay there for the 2022 season.
Another view of the KYDON PALACE, which was now completing 20 years of service in Greece.
One last view of the BLUE STAR 2.
The KYDON PALACE seen resting in the port of Piraeus. Just like the BLUE STAR 2 was missing her sister ship in 2021 (albeit temporarily), that year also marked the first time that the KYDON PALACE did not have her own sister ship. Indeed, the original KNOSSOS PALACE departed the fleet of Minoan Lines in late 2020, and joined the Italian company Grimaldi Lines. She began service for them as the CRUISE BONARIA on the Civitavecchia-Olbia line on the Tyrrhenian Sea.
I subsequently got to see the NISSOS SAMOS of Hellenic Seaways, which serves the Northeast Aegean Sea, as she has been on the Piraeus-Psara-Oinousses-Chios-Mytilene line since 2018.
The NISSOS SAMOS seen resting in Piraeus. Built in 1988 in Japan, she first began operations in Greece as the IONIAN QUEEN of Endeavor Lines in 2005. She operated for them on the Adriatic Sea until 2012, when the company was forced to cease operations due to severe financial difficulties. She was laid-up in Patras from 2012 to 2015, when she was bought at auction by Hellenic Seaways. She was renamed NISSOS SAMOS and began service in 2016 on the Piraeus-Chios-Mytilene-Limnos-Thessaloniki line. In 2017 she had a very successful stint on the Piraeus-Paros-Naxos-Santorini line on the Cyclades, before she was deployed back to the Northeast Aegean Sea in 2018.
Passing by the great KYDON PALACE in Piraeus.