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  • Writer's pictureAlexandros Vrailas

Ferries and High Speed Craft in Paros on 27-29 July 2018

Paros is undoubtedly one of the most popular and most visited islands of the Cyclades and of Greece as a whole. Known for its proximity to other popular islands like Mykonos, Santorini and Naxos, it is known for its beautiful architecture, excellent beaches and hospitality, and delicious food. Moreover, the island has the well-known port village of Naoussa, where one can find some amazing restaurants and bars right next to the sea. Its close neighbour, Antiparos, is also a well-known and visited island, notably amongst campers. Generally-speaking, it is a fantastic island worthy of visiting during the summer.

In terms of maritime transportation, Paros is surely one of the most favoured islands in Greece. Indeed, the island sees the most connections, arrivals and departures on all of the Aegean Sea, if the Saronic Gulf is not included. In the summer, it welcomes dozens of ships from most of the major Greek coastal service companies. During that period, there are also numerous high speed craft serving the island, and almost all the top ships of the Greek coastal service make calls there. As the island is part of the extremely popular Piraeus-Paros-Naxos-Ios-Santorini line, is connected with Naxos and the Lesser Cyclades, is included on popular summer Heraklion-Cyclades services, and has now recently been added to itineraries of ships leaving from Rafina, the island is guaranteed to have dozens of calls from different ships everyday. Thus, for a shipping enthusiast like me, such a place is ideal.

During the summer of 2018, I got to discover many Cyclades islands for the first time in my life. Paros was one of them, as I stayed there with my family from 26 July to 29 July, just after having spent four days in Naxos. I arrived there with the BLUE STAR PATMOS of Blue Star Ferries, which brought me from Naxos to Paros on the morning of 26 July 2018. We stayed at nice house (which we had booked through Airbnb), which happened to have an incredible view towards the sea, and notably in the area where ships begin to approach the island's port, located in the town of Paroikia. Therefore, I could see several arrivals and departures from various Greek ferries and high speed craft. Hence, just like the post dedicated to the high speed craft that had called the port of Ios when I visited the island during the summer of 2017, this post will display all the arrivals and departures of ferries and high speed craft that I managed to capture throughout my stay in Paros. I took several pictures on the morning of 27 July, as well as on the morning and evening of 28 July, while also taking two additional pictures in the morning of 29 July, shortly before leaving the island in order to head back to Athens. Thus, I will show you each picture according to its respective date of capture. Without further ado, let the photo show begin.

27 July 2018:

The first ship that I got to see that morning was the BLUE STAR PATMOS of Blue Star Ferries, on which I had traveled the day before. She was heading to Paros from Naxos.

The impressive BLUE STAR PATMOS seen approaching the port of Paros. Built in 2012, she spent her first three seasons on the Piraeus-Chios-Mytilene line, before transferring to the Cyclades in late 2014. Since the summer of 2015, she has been serving Paros every summer. She was on the Piraeus-Syros-Paros-Naxos-Donousa-Amorgos-Ios-Santorini-Anafi-Astypalaia line in the summers of 2015, 2016 and 2017. In 2018, her service was limited to the Piraeus-Syros-Paros-Naxos-Ios-Santorini-Anafi line.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS seen heading towards the port of Paros. I have traveled onboard her three times (the most times I have traveled with one ship on the Cyclades): the first time was on 7-8 July 2015 from Piraeus to Santorini, the second time from Santorini to Ios on 10 July 2017, and the third time was just a day before I took this picture, on 26 July 2018 from Naxos to Paros.

After the BLUE STAR PATMOS had arrived in Paros, I saw a ship departing the port: it was the well-known high speed ferry HIGHSPEED 4 of Hellenic Seaways, which was departing the island in order to head towards Naxos.

The HIGHSPEED 4 seen leaving Paros. Built in 2000, she has spent her entire career under the same owner. Hellenic Seaways was previously known as Minoan Flying Dolphins (1999-2002) and then as Hellas Flying Dolphins (2002-2005) before acquiring its current name in 2005. The HIGHSPEED 4 has impressively served Paros in all but two seasons throughout her 19 years of activity so far! Indeed, the only two times when she did not make calls to Paros were in 2005, when she was on the Piraeus-Chania line, and in 2009, when she was on the Piraeus-Syros-Tinos-Mykonos line. Thus, she is one of the most appreciated ships in the island and has been identified with Paros throughout all of her incredible career.

The HIGHSPEED 4 leaving Paros in order to head towards Naxos, which she has also been serving every summer, except for 2005, 2009 and 2015. Since 2016, she has been deployed on the Piraeus-Paros-Naxos-Koufonisi-Amorgos line, a line that she also served successfully in 2014.

The HIGHSPEED 4 seen exiting the port of Paros.

The HIGHSPEED 4 now at full-speed on her way to Naxos, Koufonisi and Amorgos.

Shortly after the BLUE STAR PATMOS had docked in Paros, she was already departing in order to return to Piraeus.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS seen from the house where we were staying during our time in Paros. She is now departing the island in order to return to Piraeus.

The much-acclaimed BLUE STAR PATMOS departing Paros. She operates from Piraeus to the Cyclades during the evening, and returns from the islands to Athens' main port during the morning.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS having started her return trip to Piraeus.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS, which I have grown to know very well thanks to the three great trips that I had with her.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS now at open sea, making her return to Piraeus.

Barely a few minutes after the BLUE STAR PATMOS had left Paros, I saw another ship approaching the port: it was the high speed craft NAXOS JET of Sea Jets.

The NAXOS JET arriving in Paros, after having arrived from her namesake island, Naxos.

The NAXOS JET was formerly known as the CYCLADES EXPRESS of NEL Lines, operating for them only during the 2010 season on the Heraklion-Santorini line. Afterwards, due to the company's financial problems, she was laid-up in Salamina from 2010 to 2016. That year, she was sold to Sea Jets, which went on to refit her during two years. She entered service for the first time in 8 years on the Rafina-Andros-Syros-Tinos-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos line, where she operated successfully.

In the meantime, another ferry was seen approaching the island: it was the BLUE STAR NAXOS, which was arriving from Piraeus and Syros.

Built in 2002, the BLUE STAR NAXOS has spent her entire career on the Cyclades under Blue Star Ferries. In these 17 years, she has spent all but three summer seasons calling the island of Paros! This was only during the summers of 2012, 2013 and 2014, when she was operating on the Piraeus-Syros-Tinos-Mykonos line. Since 2015, she has been operating on the Lesser Cyclades lifeline, being on the Piraeus-Syros-Tinos-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos-Irakleia-Schoinousa-Koufonisi-Amorgos-Santorini line in 2015, 2016 and 2017. In 2018, she was deployed on the Piraeus-Syros-Paros-Naxos-Irakleia-Schoinousa-Koufonisi-Donousa-Amorgos-Santorini-Astypalaia line (adding Donousa and Astypalaia, which were previously served by the BLUE STAR PATMOS).

The BLUE STAR NAXOS approaching Paros. She connects Piraeus with the Lesser Cyclades on a daily basis through a very tight schedule leaving Piraeus at 06:45 every morning, and returning there the following day at 05:00. The crew only has one hour and thirty minutes to rest before her next departure there. This is why she is such an exceptional ship.

While the BLUE STAR NAXOS was arriving in Paros, she would begin to see some company, as the high speed ferries TERA JET of Sea Jets and SUPERRUNNER of Golden Star Ferries were also racing against each other, having arrived from Mykonos.

The BLUE STAR NAXOS approaching Paros, with the TERA JET and the SUPERRUNNER seen right behind.

The BLUE STAR NAXOS begins to approach the port of Paros located in Paroikia.

In the meantime, the TERA JET and the SUPERRUNNER are seen racing against each other in order to see which ship will make it to the port first. Both ships became fierce competitors in 2017, the year during which they made their debuts on the Rafina-Cyclades service provided by their companies. The TERA JET was indeed deployed on the Rafina-Tinos-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos line, while the SUPERRUNNER (previously known as the SPEEDRUNNER IV of Aegean Speed Lines from 2009 to 2016) began service under her new owners on the Rafina-Tinos-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos-Ios-Santorini line.

The BLUE STAR NAXOS, one of the best ships in Greece, seen approaching Paros.

The never-ending racing contest between the TERA JET and the SUPERRUNNER. Due to both of them being excellent and very fast high speed craft, their owners engaged in both a price war and port racing contests in Tinos, Mykonos, Paros and Naxos (as the SUPERRUNNER then continues her trip to Ios and Santorini, while the TERA JET heads back to Rafina) in order to see which ship would moor first (with a view of impressing passengers). Despite the heated rivalry, both ships had an excellent first season, as they also did in 2018. No incidents and very rare engine failures have been reported so far. Thanks to them, their companies won the prestigious award 'Passenger Line of The Year' provided by Lloyd's List Greek Shipping Awards, in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

While the show is taking place near the Northern part of the Paroikia Bay area, I got to see another ship, which had just been behind her fleetmate while heading towards Paros. It was the BLUE STAR DELOS of Blue Star Ferries, the sister ship of the BLUE STAR PATMOS, which had also arrived from Piraeus.

The racing contest between the TERA JET and the SUPERRUNNER, two of Greece's best high speed craft. Two things the ships have in common is that they were both built in the same country, Italy, and in the same year, 1999.

The racing contest coming to a close here. Due to her making a sharper turn, the SUPERRUNNER seems to be the one that will be docking in Paros first.

In the meantime, the BLUE STAR DELOS was arriving in Paros at her own pace. I had traveled onboard her four days before taking this picture, as I was heading from Piraeus to Naxos (via Paros).

The SUPERRUNNER seen near Paros, after having overtaken the TERA JET. She was hence the winner of the racing slot from Mykonos to Paros.

The TERA JET seen following her rival from right behind. She is the flagship of Sea Jets, and has had two massively successful seasons so far while operating from Rafina to the Cyclades. In 2018, the island of Andros was added to her itinerary, hence she was deployed on the Rafina-Andros-Tinos-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos line. It impressive how she arrives in Paros at the same time as the SUPERRUNNER, as the latter does not serve Andros.

The SUPERRUNNER seen advancing towards the port of Paros, right behind her rival. That summer, I had the chance to travel onboard her on 17 June 2018, heading from Ios to Mykonos, via Naxos and Paros.

The BLUE STAR DELOS on her way towards Paros. Built in 2011, before her sister ship, she has spent her entire career so far on the Piraeus-Paros-Naxos-Ios-Santorini line (though she does not serve Ios during the summer), and has been hailed as the best day ferry in Greece by many.

The TERA JET and the SUPERRUNNER having lowered their speed in order to begin their maneuvering procedures in Paros.

The TERA JET and the SUPERRUNNER both beginning to head towards the port of Paros.

The BLUE STAR DELOS is seen behind them. If you check the pictures I took during my trip with her, I had the exact same pattern of departures and arrivals when the ship was heading towards Paros. Indeed, I saw the BLUE STAR PATMOS leaving Paros in order to head towards Piraeus, then saw the NAXOS JET leaving the island in order to go to Mykonos, followed by the departures of the SUPERRUNNER and of the TERA JET from Paros to Naxos, followed shortly by the BLUE STAR NAXOS. Hence, I witnessed the same spectacle both from the sea and from the shore, within a span of five days.

A nice view of the Paroikia Bay: the TERA JET and the SUPERRUNNER are heading towards the port of Paros, while the NAXOS JET has just departed, whereas the BLUE STAR NAXOS has just docked there.

The two rivals, the TERA JET and the SUPERRUNNER, heading towards the port of Paros. You can see that the TERA JET makes a last attempt at trying to pass by the SUPERRUNNER shortly before docking.

The NAXOS JET seen departing Paros. In her debut season under Sea Jets, the NAXOS JET would leave Rafina for the Cyclades islands in the afternoon, reaching Naxos in the evening and spending the night there. She would leave her namesake island in the morning, in order to return to Rafina in the early afternoon. The TERA JET operated on the same line as her (with the exception of Syros), but carried out the trip in the morning, returning to Rafina in the late afternoon of the same day.

The BLUE STAR DELOS seen approaching the port of Paros.

The BLUE STAR DELOS having entered the Paroikia Bay and heading towards Paros' port.

The BLUE STAR DELOS and the NAXOS JET seen right outside of the port of Paros, repeating the same encounter that I had experienced four days earlier while traveling onboard the Blue Star Ferries ship.

Another view of the BLUE STAR DELOS approaching the port of Paros.

In the meantime, all three ferries that had been docked immediately departed it. All of them were heading towards the same destination: Naxos. The SUPERRUNNER had left first, followed by the TERA JET and then by the BLUE STAR NAXOS.

The SUPERRUNNER taking the lead and heading from Paros to Naxos, during her second season under Golden Star Ferries.

The TERA JET following her right behind. The summer of 2018 was her fifth consecutive in Greece and under Sea Jets.

Both high speed ferries were being followed by the BLUE STAR NAXOS, which was also heading towards her namesake island.

The TERA JET beginning to sail under full-speed towards Naxos, hoping to catch up the SUPERRUNNER.

The BLUE STAR NAXOS on her way from Paros to Naxos. This was it for the day, and I really got to see how impressive the morning traffic in Paros is.

28 July 2018:

The following morning, I unexpectedly saw some new faces which I had not seen the previous day. One of them was the ferry AQUA BLUE of Sea Jets (trading as Sea Jets Ferries), which was heading towards the port of Paros, followed by the BLUE STAR PATMOS which was arriving from Naxos.

The veteran ferry AQUA BLUE preparing to enter the port of Paros. It was her debut summer under Sea Jets Ferries, which had acquired her in 2017. Before that, she was the notable IERAPETRA L of ANEK Lines (from 2009 to 2016) and of LANE Sea Lines (from 1999 to 2009). She had also operated earlier in her Greek career under ANEK Lines having served the Adriatic Sea initially as the KYDON (1991-1995) and then as the TALOS (1995-1999). Her debut season under Sea Jets Ferries marked her first summer of operations since 2014, when she had been operating on the Bari-Durrës line. After that year's summer, she suffered a severe fire incident while heading from Igoumenitsa to Perama for her annual refit, and was badly damaged. Due to her advanced age (she was built in 1975) and her damages following that fire, it was believed that she would be sold for scrap. However, miraculously, the ship was saved by Sea Jets Ferries, which bought her and repaired her in Perama and in Drapetsona in 2017, renaming her AQUA BLUE in 2018.

For her debut season, the AQUA BLUE operated on an impressively long lifeline: the Thessaloniki-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos-Andros-Syros-Tinos-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos-Santorini-Heraklion line. She thus connected Thessaloniki (Greece's second largest city, located in the Northern part of the country, in Macedonia) with the Sporades, the main Cyclades islands and Crete. This was the first time that a ship had been on such a line since the late DIMITROULA of GA Ferries, which had operated there until 2008. Due to her slow speed, the ship would arrive in Heraklion two days after leaving Thessaloniki.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS arriving in Paros from Naxos, just like she had done when I did my trip with her two days before taking this picture.

The AQUA BLUE, having arrived from Mykonos, seen heading towards the port of Paros.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS seen approaching Paros as well.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS on her way to Paros.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS, which was on the Piraeus-Syros-Paros-Naxos-Ios-Santorini-Anafi line that season, seen heading towards Paros.

The magnificent BLUE STAR PATMOS seen near Paros.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS having entered the Paroikia Bay. Next to her (the small ship at the bottom left of the picture) is the small passenger boat HELLAS of Antiparos Speedline NE, which operates on the Paros-Antiparos line.

A few moments after the arrival of the BLUE STAR PATMOS in Paros, the HIGHSPEED 4 was seen arriving from Piraeus.

The HIGHSPEED 4 having quickly entered the Paroikia Bay.

The HIGHSPEED 4, a favourite in Paros, approaching the island's port.

The HIGHSPEED 4 maneuvering in Piraeus. She is now the only high speed ferry to operate for her company alongside the HELLENIC HIGHSPEED, following the sale of the HIGHSPEED 7 to Minoan Lines in 2018, which spent her first season under her new owners as the SANTORINI PALACE.

The HIGHSPEED 4 seen approaching Paros, while the AQUA BLUE has already unloaded passengers and vehicles and loaded new ones. She was now leaving the islands in order to head to Naxos.

The HIGHSPEED 4 and the AQUA BLUE, two completely different ships, seen together outside of the port of Paros.

The HIGHSPEED 4 seen alongside the AQUA BLUE. The latter was built 25 years before the former, and had arrived in Greece 10 years before the high speed craft did. The AQUA BLUE was built in Japan, while the HIGHSPEED 4 was built in Australia.

The AQUA BLUE heads towards Naxos, while the HIGHSPEED 4 heads towards her docking spot in Paros.

The nice AQUA BLUE seen leaving Paros.

The AQUA BLUE heading out of the Paroikia Bay.

While the AQUA BLUE was leaving Paros, she spotted one of her fleetmates approaching the port. This was the ANDROS JET of Sea Jets, which, like the AQUA BLUE, was having her debut season under her new owners.

The ANDROS JET and the AQUA BLUE seen near Paros.

The AQUA BLUE heading from Paros to Naxos. The ANDROS JET meanwhile heads towards the port of Paros, having arrived from Syros.

The ANDROS JET joined Sea Jets in late 2017, following a 20-year-long career in Turkey, having operated on the Yalova-Pendik line as the CEZAYIRLI HASAN PAŞA 1 for the Turkish company İstanbul Deniz Otobüsleri (İDO). After a conversion in Perama and in Chalkida, she entered service in 2018, on her company's inter-Cyclades lifeline. She was more specifically on the Lavrion-Kea-Kythnos-Andros-Tinos-Syros-Paros-Naxos-Donousa-Amorgos-Koufonisi-Schoinousa-Irakleia-Folegandros-Sikinos-Ios-Thirassia-Santorini-Anafi line. Taking over the service from her fleetmate, the classic ferry AQUA JEWEL, which was sent on charter to Azores-based company Atlântico Line for the summer, she endured a very troublesome first season. Despite being faster than the AQUA JEWEL she could not transport lorries, and was also plagued by a handful of engine failures, which resulted in several delays and multiple trip cancellations. This was not essential for a very long and demanding line.

The ANDROS JET seen heading towards Paros, having arrived from Syros.

The ANDROS JET on her way towards the port of Paros.

Later that day, I saw the BLUE STAR DELOS approaching the port of Paros. As it was early in the evening, she had been returning to the island from Santorini and Naxos.

After 20 minutes in the port, the BLUE STAR DELOS left Paros in order to begin her return trip towards Piraeus.

The fantastic BLUE STAR DELOS on her way to Piraeus having left Paros.

The BLUE STAR DELOS having left Paros in the evening, just before the incredible Cyclades sunset.

29 July 2018:

That morning, I only took two pictures. Here, the BLUE STAR PATMOS is seen leaving Paros in order to return to Piraeus, just like her sister ship had done so the previous evening, as seen in the pictures right above.

The HIGHSPEED 4 following the BLUE STAR PATMOS, though she was heading towards Naxos. Later that day, I would find myself onboard her, as I traveled with her in order to return from Paros to Piraeus.

There is no doubt that these days were absolutely unique from a shipspotting point of view. Seeing so many well-known and acclaimed ferries and high speed craft come and leave one after the other was incredibly fascinating. Notably, I saw how the traffic in Paros is intense compared to other islands in Greece. The first day saw me witnessing countless arrivals and departures, including an entertaining racing contest between two rival high speed craft, while the second and third day showed both habitual as well as occasional visitors to the island. It really was a fantastic experience which I will hardly forget.

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