Lavrion Visit on 6 September 2021
As my summer stay in Greece for the 2021 season was coming to an end, I decided to enjoy my last few available days by traveling around various parts of Greece in order to see and photograph more ships of the Greek coastal service. After having spent the afternoon of 3 September 2021 in Salamina, whereupon I traveled onboard the FANEROMENI of Panagia Faneromeni, I decided that next place that I would visit will be the port of Lavrion, on 6 September 2021, as I was expected to see several ships that day. This would be my second time heading there, the first time having been six years prior, back when I briefly stopped there on 2 July 2015 when I had visited family members in Cape Sounion. I eventually went there during the afternoon, as I was expecting to see four ships departing the port, as well as a total of seven ferries and one Ro-Ro carrier docked simultaneously. In spite of what was due to be a harsh afternoon in terms of weather conditions (with strong winds and high waves), I thought that seeing all these ships would be a fine addition to my Greek coastal service pictures collection, and that the departures of four ferries would be nice scenes to witness.
Before showing you my pictures, I thought that it was a good idea to provide you with a quick overview of the port of Lavrion. Indeed, the latter is located on the Eastern coast of the region of Attica, right above Cape Sounion, and South of Porto Rafti and Rafina. It faces the small uninhabited island of Makronisos, while the islands of Kea and Kythnos are found a bit further towards the South, as part of the Cyclades Islands Archipelago. The port's position is quite advantageous, as it enables ships heading towards the Cyclades and the Northeast Aegean Sea to serve these areas without needing to sail along Souther coast of Attica, where Piraeus is located. As such, these ships do not need to pass by Cape Sounion in order to enter the open sea on the Aegean Sea. Therefore, the port is more convenient for service to the islands of Kea and Kythnos, as their distance from mainland Greece is far shorter through Lavrion than through Piraeus. To that end, the Lavrion-Kea-Kythnos line has proven to be a popular service on the Northern Cyclades. Additionally, Lavrion has also been used as the base port for many prominent lifelines of the Greek coastal service, including the inter-Cyclades services and lifelines on the Northeast Aegean Sea. In the case of the latter, this usually concerns the area's Western part, such as the Western coast of Chios (primarily the port of Mesta), Psara, Agios Efstratios and Limnos. One well-known lifeline currently based out of the port is the Lavrion-Chios-Agios Efstratios-Limnos-Kavala line, while a former popular service was the Lavrion-Psara-Chios lifeline. Finally, Lavrion has also been used as a port for international services via the Aegean Sea, being currently connected with Cyprus and Israel, while having also seen services to Turkey in the past. All these factors have helped in making Lavrion one of the three major ports of the region of Attica, together with Piraeus and Rafina.
Historically, Lavrion was only used as a port for the passenger connection of Kea and Southern Evoia with mainland Greece. The other islands of the Cyclades were primarily served by Piraeus and Rafina, the latter which began to experience a significant rise in prominence from the 1980s onwards. Lavrion remained a local port throughout most of the 1950s and 1960s. The first ferry to arrive there was the IOULIS KEAS of the now-defunct company Kastriani NE, which entered service on the Lavrion-Kea line in 1968. She was replaced in 1976 by the younger IOULIS KEAS II (later the AGIA KYRIAKI of Tsirikos Lines), which went on to serve the line until 1990. The port began to experience significant developments during the 1990s, as the Lavrion-Kea-Kythnos line began to be served by the then-newly-built MIRINA EXPRESS of Goutos Lines in 1991 (which was sold in 2008 to the Chilean company Naviera Austral and is currently the DONA CÂNDIDA of the Equatorial Guinean company Viteoca GESL). The expansion of the inter-Cyclades services under the now-defunct company Katapoliani (also known as Amorgos Ferries) also enhanced the port's role, and this carried on in the 2000s, as it also began to be the base for lifelines of the Northeast Aegean Sea operated by C-Link Ferries (a defunct company that was managed by Apostolos Ventouris from 2002 to 2007) and Saos Ferries. At the end of the decade, these lifelines, along with the inter-Cyclades services, started to be performed by NEL Lines, until the latter ceased operations in 2015. Since then, Hellenic Seaways and Sea Jets have become the main players on these lifelines, while the Lavrion-Kea-Kythnos line began to feature two ships from 2002 onwards, while also having a three-ship service between 2005 and 2008 and since 2020. In terms of international services, Lavrion was used frequently by the Greek-Cypriot company Salamis Lines during the 2000s, and became a permanent part of their Ro-Ro carrier itineraries since 2010. Since then, at least one Ro-Ro carrier serves the Lavrion-Limassol-Haifa line for freight transportation, therefore connecting Greece with Cyprus and Israel. Moreover, there have also been several unsuccessful attempts of linking Lavrion with Turkey, with the most recent deployment being the introduction of a service on the Lavrion-Çeşme line during the 2019 season by the Turkish company Aegean Seaways. However, the latter only lasted two weeks and ended prematurely due to a lack of passenger and freight traffic. Nevertheless, the services to Cyprus and Israel have attracted significant success, and have further contributed to the port's development. Additionally, Lavrion has become a notable cruise terminal, serving as the home port of many ships of the Greek-Cypriot company Celestyal Cruises. Furthermore, the port has a small shipyard that is quite popular, and is also the base for several agencies chartering sailing ships and pleasure craft to tourists willing to sail on the Cyclades.
Now that I have given you a full overview of the port of Lavrion, I can now share all pictures that I took during what was, as stated previously, my second-ever visit to the port. While I managed to head to the Southern pier in order to take better pictures of the ships departing the port, I unfortunately had to leave the area due to the strong winds, which forced me to return back towards the marina, from where I witnessed the remaining departures before heading back to the ferry terminal to take some final pictures of some notable ships. Without further ado, let's have a look at all the pictures below.
I arrived in Lavrion by taking the KTEL bus linking the port with Athens. Upon my arrival, I spotted the conventional ferry ARTEMIS of Hellenic Seaways. She has been operating on the inter-Cyclades service based out of Lavrion since 2015, when she took over the service left by her predecessor, the AQUA JEWEL of NEL Lines (owned by Sea Jets since 2017), which had ended her four-year stay there in 2014, following a major engine failure (followed by the demise of NEL Lines). This was therefore her seventh season on the inter-Cyclades lifeline, which she has spent on the Lavrion-Kea-Kythnos-Syros-Tinos-Andros-Paros-Naxos-Ios-Sikinos-Folegandros-Kimolos-Milos-Sifnos-Serifos line. She had also previously operated out of Lavrion between 2009 and 2012, during her first stint on the inter-Cyclades service, which she had spent under charter to ANEK Lines on the Lavrion-Kea-Kythnos-Syros-Tinos-Andros-Paros-Naxos-Donousa-Amorgos-Milos-Kimolos-Folegandros-Sikinos-Ios-Santorini-Thirassia-Anafi line. Besides these years, she has spent her career on the Saronic Gulf, from 1997 (the year during her construction in Greece was completed) to 2008, and during the 2014 season, while she also served the Volos-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos line on the Sporades in 2013. She began her career on the Saronic Gulf as the GEORGIOS 2 for Akouriki Shipping Company, and in 1999 she joined the then-newly-established company Minoan Flying Dolphins (which was renamed Hellas Flying Dolphins in 2002), and operated for them under the Saronikos Ferries division. In 2005, when her company was rebranded as Hellenic Seaways, she was renamed ARTEMIS.
While heading towards the Southern pier in order to have a better view of all the ships that were docked in the ferry terminal, I got to see a notable ship, namely the Ro-Ro carrier AKRITAS of Salamis Lines. Built in 1982, she joined her current owners in 2019. Her usual service is on the Thessaloniki-Limassol-Haifa line, however, she was temporarily operating on the Lavrion-Limassol-Haifa line in order to replace her fleetmate and sister ship, the ALEXO, which at the time was undergoing what was initially believed to be her annual refit. Only a few days after my visit to Lavrion, the ALEXO was sold to the Turkish company Merfat Maritime, and was renamed AMIRA MARFAT. Since joining the latter, she has not actually performed any services, as she was seen drifting in İzmir, Aliağa, and even Piraeus. As such, her fate is currently unknown. The AKRITAS, however, returned to her service on the Thessaloniki-Limassol-Haifa line, while the company's newest Ro-Ro carrier, the VASSILIOS, which had been acquired in 2021 and had spent her debut summer on the Thessaloniki-Limassol-Haifa line as well, replaced the ex-ALEXO on the Lavrion-Limassol-Haifa line.
Another view of the AKRITAS in Lavrion, during what was her third season under Salamis Lines. She was one of three sister ships built in Finland for the Finnish company Finncarriers, which was the Ro-Ro carrier division of the Finnish company Finnlines, which was collaborating at the time with their rivals, Effoa (previously Finska Ångfartygs Aktiebolaget, also known in the English world as the Finnish Steamship). Known as the ARCTURUS, the ship operated on the Baltic Sea and on the North Sea, linking Finland with The Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Effoa ceded all their shares in Finncarriers to Finnlines in 1989. Two years later, the ship was renamed AURORA, and she continued to serve the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. In 2001, Finncarriers merged with their parent company, and the ship therefore joined Finnlines. In 2004 she was sold to Scandlines and was deployed on the Rostock-Helsinki line. In 2005 she started operating on the Rostock-Hanko line, while occasionally serving other German, Finnish, British and Dutch ports. In 2012 she was sold to the Swedish company SOL Continental Line, was renamed VIKINGLAND, and continued to operate on the Rostock-Hanko line until 2016. In 2017 she was chartered to the Italian company Grimaldi Lines, and was deployed on the Barcelona-Savona-Livorno line on the Mediterranean Sea. After a year in this service, she had brief charters under Tunisia Ferries (also known as Compagnie Tunisienne de Navigation, or COTUNAV) and Stena Line in 2018, before joining Salamis Lines in 2019.
While looking towards the exit of the port of Lavrion, I saw the conventional ferry SAONISOS of Saos Ferries. This ship was laid-up, as she never began performing her scheduled services on the inter-Cyclades lifeline due to paperwork issues. She was supposed to operate on the Lavrion-Kea-Kythnos-Andros-Karystos-Tinos-Syros-Paros-Naxos-Donousa-Amorgos-Koufonisi-Schoinousa-Irakleia-Folegandros-Sikinos-Ios-Thirassia-Santorini-Anafi lifeline, which is the second inter-Cyclades service (in addition to the one performed by the ARTEMIS), which was normally assigned to Sea Jets. Saos Ferries was granted the subsidy contract in order to operate there, but they never managed to deploy the SAONISOS. As a result of this, Sea Jets once again took over the service, which was performed by the high speed ferry CALDERA VISTA, which had also operated there in 2020.
Next to the SAONISOS, I saw the cruise ship CELESTYAL OLYMPIA of Celestyal Cruises, which had completed her summer cruises and was now undergoing her annual refit in Lavrion. Built in 1982, she is the former SONG OF AMERICA of the American cruise giants Royal Caribbean International (1982-1999), before having stints as the SUNBIRD under the now-defunct British company Sun Cruises from 1999 to 2004, and then as the THOMSON DESTINY under the British cruise line Thomson Cruises (known as Marella Cruises since 2017) from 2004 to 2012. That same year, she joined the Greek-Cypriot company Louis Cruises and was renamed LOUIS OLYMPIA. In late 2014, the company was rebranded as Celestyal Cruises, and therefore the ship was renamed CELESTYAL OLYMPIA. Since joining her current owners, she has performed cruises mainly based on the Aegean Sea, while also stopping by Cyprus, Turkey and Israel.
Another view of the SAONISOS, as she is now laid-up in Lavrion, from where she was supposed to be based as part of her introduction to service on the inter-Cyclades lifeline.
As I began to head towards the Southern pier, I had a better view of the different ships that were docked in Lavrion. These included the AKRITAS, the MACEDON of Goutos Lines, the ARTEMIS, the AQUA STAR of Sea Jets and the AQUA BLUE of Sea Jets.
A view of the MACEDON, which was docked next to the ARTEMIS. Built in 1972, she has been operating under Goutos Lines on the Lavrion-Kea-Kythnos line since 2002. This makes her the longest-serving ship on the line, and also the ship that has had the longest tenure in Lavrion as of today. She is the sole ship of Goutos Lines, following the sale of the MIRINA EXPRESS to Naviera Austral in 2008. She had also previously operated for the company as the KYTHNOS between 1987 and 1992, whereupon she operated on the Rafina-Andros-Syros-Tinos line and on the Rafina-Kymi-Skyros-Agios Efstratios-Limnos-Kavala line (1987-1989), and also on the Rafina-Kea-Skyros-Agios Efstratios-Limnos-Kavala line (1989-1992), before her sale to Nomicos Lines.
Another view of the AKRITAS, during her temporary stint on the Lavrion-Limassol-Haifa line. She has since resumed service on the Thessaloniki-Limassol-Haifa line.
Another view of the bow of the AKRITAS, along with the MACEDON, the ARTEMIS, the AQUA STAR and the AQUA BLUE. Among the passenger ferries, all of them, with the exception of the ARTEMIS, were built during the 1970s. This makes the ships based out of Lavrion among the oldest ones in the Greek coastal service.
Another view of the MACEDON and of the ARTEMIS in Lavrion. Both ships serve Kea and Kythnos, as the latter two islands are the first ones that are called by the ARTEMIS as part of her lengthy service on the inter-Cyclades lifeline. Both ships also used to be fleetmates, back when they operated under Minoan Flying Dolphins. Indeed, the MACEDON also served the latter, after Nomicos Lines was one of the companies that were taken over in 1999 as part of the Greek coastal service consolidation plan envisaged by the late Pantelis Sfinias. She initially operated under the Hellas Ferries division, before switching to the Sporades Ferries division in 2001. She operated on the Agios Konstantinos-Volos-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos line, where she had also operated during her spell under Nomicos Lines. She remained there until 2002, when she returned to Gouts Lines.
Another view of the ferries that were docked in Lavrion. These were the AKRITAS, the MARMARI EXPRESS of Karystia Lines, the MACEDON, the ARTEMIS, the AQUA STAR and the AQUA BLUE.
A view of the AQUA STAR and of the AQUA BLUE, which operate for Sea Jets under the Sea Jets Ferries division. The former was spending her debut season in Greece, being deployed on the Lavrion-Chios-Agios Efstratios-Limnos-Kavala lifeline, which the latter was serving. However, the AQUA BLUE had experienced a major engine failure in July 2021, and this resulted in her being shut down for the rest of the season. In order to cover her abandoned service, Sea Jets initially deployed the high speed ferry SUPERRUNNER JET (which also happened to spend her first summer under the company, after four years under Golden Star Ferries), before deciding to purchase the AQUA STAR, which had been laid-up in Perama since 2019. The ship underwent a rapid conversion and began her service on the Northeast Aegean Sea in August 2021. However, her spell was not successful, as it was also marred by frequent engine troubles which resulted in several delays. The AQUA BLUE has since been repaired and has returned to her previous service, whereas the AQUA STAR is currently undergoing her annual drydock in Chalkida, as her company has interesting upcoming plans for her for the 2022 season.
A view of the ARTEMIS, together with the AQUA STAR and the AQUA BLUE. Next to the two ships of Sea Jets, the ARTEMIS looks extremely tiny.
The MARMARI EXPRESS, which also operates on the Lavrion-Kea-Kythnos line, seen together with the MACEDON and the ARTEMIS.
A view of the MARMARI EXPRESS alongside her longtime rival, the MACEDON, even though the their companies coordinate their services on the Lavrion-Kea-Kythnos line, especially when the ships undergo their annual refits. Both ferries were built in Japan, and have also operated on the Rafina-Marmari line on the Petalioi Gulf in the past. Indeed, the MARMARI EXPRESS operated there during her first seasons in the Greek coastal service, before moving to the Lavrion-Kea-Kythnos line in 2005. The MACEDON operated there under Polemis Epirus Line between 1979 and 1983, back when she was known as the CHRYSSI AMMOS I (later renamed CHYRISS AMMOS II in 1980, before once again becoming the CHRYSSI AMMOS I in 1982).
A better view of the laid-up SAONISOS, which has had a rather unfortunate path since arriving in Greece for Saos Ferries in 2007. Indeed, due the company's financial issues, she only began her conversion for them in 2013, after being laid-up in Drapetsona and in Elefsina for almost six years. Moreover, this conversion ended up lasting five years, and she began service only in 2018, hence 11 years after her maiden arrival in Greece. She was deployed on the Alexandroupolis-Samothraki line, where she spent two seasons before being the first out of the three ships of Saos Ferries to experience an engine failure in the middle of the summer of 2019. After her other two fleetmates also had to prematurely end their services, resulting in the infamous Samothraki coastal service fiasco, Saos Ferries was forced to withdraw from the line. Since then, two of its ships, the ferry STAVROS (the ex-SAOS II) and the small high speed boat ZEFYROS, are operating on the Dodecanese. The SAONISOS was also rumoured to join them there after undergoing a refit in Perama in 2020, before ultimately being granted the subsidy contract for the inter-Cyclades lifeline operated by Sea Jets. However, she failed to start in time, and the lifeline was reassigned to Sea Jets.
A view of the unlucky SAONISOS, which has operated for just two seasons in the 15 years that she has spent in Greece. Most of the delays during her conversion and her entry to service has been due to financial and bureaucratic concerns, although the latter have been enforced to an unprecedented degree for a ferry in Greece, which makes one wonder about the way in which the company looks after the ship.
Another view of the SAONISOS, as she is laid-up in Lavrion. Before being bought by Saos Ferries in 2007, she operated as a Ro-Ro carrier in Japan. Built in the latter country in 1994, she began service as the ROKKŌ EXPRESS for Kanku Cargo, being deployed on the Kobe-Takamatsu line. In 2000 she was sold to Higashi Nihonkai Ferry, a subsidiary of Higashi Nihon Ferry, and was renamed LIBERTY BELL. She began service on the Wakkanai-Rishiri-Rebun line, where she remained until her sale to Saos Ferries in 2007. Until the ship was renamed SAONISOS in 2013, she was known as the LIBERTY B.
Another view of the five passenger ferries that were docked in Lavrion, namely the MARMARI EXRESS, the MACEDON, the ARTEMIS, the AQUA STAR and the AQUA BLUE.
The MARMARI EXPRESS, the MACEDON and the ARTEMIS seen together in Lavrion.
Another view of the SAONISOS near the exit of the port of Lavrion. Even during her short spell on the Alexandroupolis-Samothraki line, her service was not as successful as that of the ex-SAOS II. She did not undergo an extensive conversion, despite the latter lasting five years.
The SAONISOS seen in Lavrion, with her future remaining uncertain.
The AQUA BLUE seen docked in Lavrion, where she had been laid-up for more than a month after her engine failure prematurely ended her season. This had been her second year on the Lavrion-Chios Agios Efstratios-Limnos-Kavala lifeline, which she had taken over from the legendary EXPRESS PEGASUS of Hellenic Seaways, which was sold for scrap to Turkey two months ago, after spending a year laid-up in Perama after her accident in Kasos. The AQUA BLUE first began operations under Sea Jets in 2018, when she served the Thessaloniki-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos-Andros-Syros-Tinos-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos-Santorini-Heraklion line. She then spent the 2019 season on the Rafina-Andros-Tinos-Mykonos-Ikaria-Samos line, before moving to her current service in 2020.
Another view of the AQUA BLUE in Lavrion, as she is seen docked next to her fleetmate, the AQUA STAR. Before joining Sea Jets, she had already experienced an eventful career on the Greek coastal service. Built in Japan in 1975, she was bought by ANEK Lines in 1990 and initially entered service in 1991 as the KYDON on the Adriatic Sea, following a year-long conversion in Perama. Four years later, she underwent a second conversion in Perama, during which she was renamed TALOS. In 1999 she was sold to LANE Lines (which was rebranded as LANE Sea Lines in 2006) and was renamed IERAPETRA L. She made her debut on the Aegean Sea, being deployed on the Piraeus-Milos-Santorini-Agios Nikolaos-Siteia-Kasos-Karpathos-Chalki-Rhodes-Castellorizon lifeline. In 2003 she was inserted on the Piraeus-Milos-Santorini-Heraklion-Agios Nikolaos-Siteia-Kasos-Karpathos-Chalki-Rhodes-Castellorizon lifeline, which she continued to serve until 2008. That year, she was also deployed on the Thessaloniki-Kavala-Limnos-Mytilene-Chios-Samos lifeline on the Northeast Aegean Sea. She returned to ANEK Lines in 2009, and continued to serve the Cyclades and the Dodecanese. In 2012 she had a successful spell on Piraeus-Syros-Ikaria-Fournoi-Samos line, but was withdrawn the following year without any given explanation. In 2014 she returned to the Adriatic Sea, being inserted on the Bari-Durrës line. However, after that season ended, she suffered a major fire accident while heading back to Perama for her annual refit. Despite her condition and her old age, she was acquired by Sea Jets in 2016, was repaired and renamed AQUA BLUE, and returned to service in 2018.
Another view of the SAONISOS as she is seen laid-up in Lavrion. She became the second ferry in the history of the company to remain laid-up there, with the first one having been the EXPRESS LIMNOS (previously the PANAGIA TINOU 2 of Ventouris Sea Lines, and then the EXPRESS ATHINA of Agapitos Express Ferries, Minoan Flying Dolphins, Hellas Flying Dolphins and Hellenic Seaways), which was laid-up between 2008 and 2011 as a result of the financial difficulties experienced by Saos Ferries at the time. Before her arrest, she had been operating on the Lavrion-Agios Efstratios-Mytilene-Limnos-Kavala-Thessaloniki line upon entering service for the company in 2007. After remaining in Lavrion for three years, she was for scrap to Turkey in late 2011.
Towards 16:25, I happened to witness the first departure of a ship from Lavrion. It was that of the conventional ferry IONIS of Triton Ferries, which I had curiously not spotted while walking around the port.
The IONIS seen departing the port of Lavrion. Built in 1977 in Greece, she has been owned by Triton Ferries since late 2017. This was her second season on the Lavrion-Kea-Kythnos line, which she joined in 2020. Her addition there meant that the line had three permanent ships (in addition to the ARTEMIS and the CALDERA VISTA including the two islands on their inter-Cyclades itineraries) for the first time since 2008.
A view of the IONIS, which has been a historic ferry with a lengthy career on the Ionian Sea. She began her career under Ionian Lines in 1977, and usually connected the port of Patras with the Ionian Sea Islands and occasionally with Brindisi in Italy. Ionian Lines shut down operations in 1984, due to financial problems, and the ship went on to join the state-owned company Hellenic Coastal Lines in 1985. She remained on the Ionian Sea, but her new owners also failed to remain financially stable, and she was withdrawn from service in 1989. That same year, she joined Seven Islands Lines (later known as Lefkaditis Lines), and spent two years on the Patras-Kefalonia-Ithaca-Paxoi-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Brindisi line, before being laid-up in Elefsina in 1991. She was subsequently bought by the Zakynthos-based company Tyrogalas Ferries in 1993, and was fully refurbished before returning as a day ferry on the Ionian Sea. She then spent the next 22 years on the Kyllini-Zakynthos line and on the Kyllini-Kefalonia line. In 2015, due to strong competition on the Ionian Sea, she was deployed on the Piraeus-Aegina-Methana-Poros line on the Saronic Gulf, with her company trading under the Ionis Ferries brandname. The following year, Tyrogalas Ferries ceased operations and sold the ship to Leve Ferries, which deployed her exclusively on the Piraeus-Aegina line. However, after only one season, the IONIS was laid-up due to disagreements between Leve Ferries and Tyrogalas Ferries. After being laid-up in Salamina for the entire 2017, she was then sold to Triton Ferries, and was deployed on the Piraeus-Gytheion-Kythira-Antikythira-Kissamos lifeline, where she remained until 2020, when she moved to the Lavrion-Kea-Kythnos line.
The IONIS seen departing the port of Lavrion, during her fourth season under Triton Ferries, and during the forty-fifth year of her long and successful career. All this time, she has notably kept the same name, hence making her one of the few ferries to have spent their entire career under one name (excluding the ships that were built more recently of course).
The IONIS seen in Lavrion, as she leaves the port in order to head to Kea. Due to having spent a large portion of her career in Zakynthos, she became a notable part of my childhood, as I traveled with her several times between Kyllini and Zakynthos during the 2000s. The last time that I traveled onboard her was on 6 June 2014, hence seven years and two months before this picture was taken, while sailing from Kyllini to Zakynthos during her final season on the Ionian Sea. Despite also seeing her on the Saronic Gulf, which I also visit every summer that I spend in Greece, for two seasons, I did not have the chance to travel with her from Piraeus to Aegina. She is the only ship that I have so far seen in both Zakynthos and Aegina ever since I started going to both islands as a child. She remains one of my all-time favourite ferries.
The IONIS seen as she departs Lavrion, during her second season on the Cyclades. When she operated under Tyrogalas Ferries on the Ionian Sea, her company was part of the now-defunct Ionian Ferries joint venture, which also included Zante Ferries and ANEZ, although the latter frequently left it twice due to financial issues. The IONIS was one of the three ships to have served Tyrogalas Ferries, together with the PROTEUS (which operated for them from 1973 to 2006 before joining ANES Ferries, for whom she continues to operate on the Sporades) and the IONIAN STAR, which has been known as the MARE DI LEVANTE of Levante Ferries since 2016. The ship had already been sold to the latter during the 2015 season, after which Tyrogalas Ferries formally left the Ionian Sea and the Ionian Ferries joint venture was dissolved. Instead, between 2015 and 2018, Levante Ferries and Zante Ferries operated under the Ionian Group joint venture.
The IONIS seen as she is about to exit the port of Lavrion in order to head to Kea. Her current owners, Triton Ferries, have been present in the Greek coastal service since 2008, when they deployed the ferry PORFYROUSA on the Neapolis Voion-Kythira-Antikythira line. This service remains extremely successful, as it ensures the daily connection of Kythira and Antikythira with mainland Greece. In 2017, the company decided to buy the IONIS, after the two islands had been left without a ferry connection with Piraeus, due to the engine failure suffered by the VITSENTZOS KORNAROS of LANE Sea Lines, which was serving the Piraeus-Gytheion-Kalamata-Kythira-Antikythira-Kissamos lifeline since 2011. This was a major blow to a company that had already been experiencing severe financial problems. Unable to repair the ship, the company left the lifeline abandoned for the entire summer, and was eventually stripped of its operating license. The IONIS therefore became the successor of the VITSENTZOS KORNAROS (which was sold for scrap in 2020, following three years of lay-up in Salamina) after a brief refit in Perama in late 2017. This further strengthened the presence of Triton Ferries in both Kythira and Antikythira, as it provided two ships linking both islands with mainland Greece. The IONIS spent two full seasons on the lifeline, until the latter was taken over by the AQUA JEWEL of Sea Jets in 2020, after which she moved to her current service on the Lavrion-Kea-Kythnos line.
The IONIS seen exiting the port of Lavrion in order to head to Kea.
The IONIS seen as she exits the port of Lavrion. Even though she is now 45 years old, she remains an impressive ferry and she has shown no signs of slowing down, thanks to the fact that her company looks after her and maintains her in a very good condition. And, of course, seeing her always reminds me of my childhood summers in Zakynthos.
The IONIS seen exiting the port of Lavrion, during what was her sixth season on the Aegean Sea, after having previously spent 38 years on the Ionian Sea (three of which were under lay-up).
The IONIS is seen passing by the SAONISOS as she exits the port of Lavrion.
One last view of the legendary IONIS, as she is now sailing towards Kea.
After witnessing the departure of the IONIS, I had to return back to the ferry terminal of Lavrion due to the poor weather conditions in the Southern pier of the port. I therefore took another picture of the MARMARI EXPRESS alongside the MACEDON and the ARTEMIS.
A view of the veteran ferry AQUA STAR. Built in 1975 in Italy, she first arrived in Greece in 2017, after having been acquired by the Greek company Portucalence Shipping, which was renamed Hellenic Med Ferries in 2018. The ship arrived in Drapetsona and was renamed AEOLOS. With the duration of her conversion taking longer than expected, she was sent to Turkey, where her refit was completed in 2018. Despite this, she did not enter service for Hellenic Med Ferries. Instead, she was chartered to Atlântico Line for service on the Azores Islands Archipelago in 2019. She was renamed AZORES EXPRESS and began preparations in Perama. However, she was not ready in the time requested by the charterer, and this prevented her from going to the Azores. Later in the summer she was sent to operate on the Alexandroupolis-Samothraki line in response to the coastal shipping crisis caused by Saos Ferries, whose three ships (including the SAONISOS) all suffered engine failures. However, the AZORES EXPRESS was never able to complete her first trip, due to being too large to enter the port of Kamariotissa in Samothraki, hence adding an additional episode to the island's fiasco. She subsequently returned to Perama, where she remained laid-up for the next two years, until she was sold to Sea Jets in 2021. She is undergoing a more extensive conversion in Chalkida, as she is due to enter service on the Sporades for the 2022 season. More specifically, she is due to operate on the Volos-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos line, and she will reportedly be renamed SPORADES STAR.
Another view of the AQUA STAR, during her first season in Greece and under Sea Jets. This was also her only season on the Lavrion-Chios-Agios Efstratios-Limnos-Kavala line.
About 40 minutes after the departure of the IONIS, I saw the MARMARI EXPRESS leaving the port in order to also head to Kea and Kythnos.
The MARMARI EXPRESS seen leaving the port of Lavrion, during what was her seventeenth straight season on the Lavrion-Kea-Kythnos line.
A view of the MARMARI EXPRESS as she leaves the port of Lavrion. Built in 1985 in Japan, she spent the first 14 years of her career there, as the NARUO for the Japanese company Koshien Kosoku Ferry, before her sale to Karystia Lines, which is owned by the Alifrangis family. She underwent a conversion in Perama and she was deployed on the Rafina-Marmari under her current name in 1999. After her company acquired a second ship, the ARTEMISIA (which was sold in 2011 to Dodekanisos Seaways, for whom she still operates today as the PANAGIA SKIADENI), she moved to the Lavrion-Kea-Kythnos line.
The MARMARI EXPRESS as she heads towards the exit of the port of Lavrion.
The MARMARI EXPRESS seen as she makes her way towards the exit of the port of Lavrion, where she would go on to meet the SAONISOS, which was also built in Japan.
The MARMARI EXPRESS seen once more, as she heads towards the exit of the port of Lavrion.
As I was walking back towards the ferry terminal of the port of Lavrion, I unfortunately missed out the departure of the ARTEMIS. However, I did witness that of the MACEDON, which was the third ship (out of the ones that I saw) that was due to head to Kea and Kythnos.
The MACEDON seen leaving the port of Lavrion, where she has been a permanent figure since 2002. She is now 50 years old, and one of the oldest ferries of the Greek coastal service. She only spent four years in Japan, as she first arrived in Greece in 1976, and she spent her first season on the Preveza-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Bari line on the Adriatic Sea as the EPIRUS II for the Greek company Epirus Line. The following year, she was transferred to Polemis Epirus Line, was renamed CHYRSSI AMMOS I, and began service on the Aegean Sea, where she has since been remaining.
The MACEDON seen departing Lavrion in order to head to Kea and Kythnos. Her 45 years on the Aegean Sea make her one of the most experienced ships serving the area, and one of the longest-serving ships of the Greek coastal service.
The MACEDON seen leaving in Lavrion. It is noteworthy to state that, despite her extremely long career on the Aegean Sea, she never operated in the area's main port, namely Piraeus. Indeed, during her years under Polemis Epirus Line and during her first stint under Goutos Lines, she was based in Rafina. During her stints under Nomicos Lines and Minoan Flying Dolphins, she was based in Agios Konstantinos and in Volos, while her second spell under Goutos Lines has seen her based in Lavrion.
The MACEDON seen as she leaves the port of Lavrion, during yet another successful season for her on the Cyclades.
One final view of the MACEDON, as she makes her way towards the exit of the port of Lavrion.
After returning to the ferry terminal of Lavrion, I got to take better pictures of the AQUA STAR, which was due to leave the port during the evening, in order to head to the Northeast Aegean Sea Islands and Kavala.
A view of the funnel of the AQUA STAR, which features the well-known logo of Sea Jets. The latter shows waves (which represent the 'Sea' in the company's name) which are completed by an uptick resembling to a jet taking off (which represents the other part of the company's name, namely the 'Jets').
The AQUA STAR seen resting in Lavrion. Before her arrival in Greece, she had a very successful career across Europe. More specifically, she operated for the French companies Angleterre Alsace Lorraine Société Anonyme de Navigation and SNCF, under the umbrella of the British conglomerate Sealink on the Channel, as the SAINT ELOI (1975-1989) and as the CHANNEL ENTENTE (1989-1990), before being sold to the Isle of Mann Steam Packet Company in 1990. Under the latter, she operated as the KING ORRY on the Liverpool-Heysham-Douglas line on the Irish Sea until 1998. That same year, she was sold to the Italian company Moby Lines, for whom she began service on the Piombino-Elba line in 1999 as the MOBY LOVE 2. In 2002 she was renamed MOBY LOVE, and she remained on the Piombino-Elba line until 2017, when she was sold to Portucalence Shipping.
Another view of the AQUA STAR, which became the third conventional ferry of Sea Jets, after the AQUA JEWEL and the AQUA BLUE. It will be interesting to see how she will perform on the Sporades, after a relatively mediocre first season on the Northeast Aegean Sea. She will become the first conventional ferry of the company to operate there, and the third ship to be deployed on the area. Indeed, Sea Jets entered the Sporades during the 2021 season, when the Thessaloniki-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos-Mantoudi line was assigned to them. Initially, the SUPERRUNNER JET was operating there, but, following the engine failure of the AQUA BLUE, she was forced to replace her on the Lavrion-Chios-Agios Efstratios-Limnos-Kavala line. Sea Jets instead sent the CHAMPION JET 1 on the Sporades for the rest of the 2021 season.
Another view of the AQUA STAR in the port of Lavrion, before her evening departure.
The AQUA BLUE seen docked in Lavrion, shortly before her engines were repaired and her eventual return to service.
One last view of the AQUA BLUE in Lavrion, as I then left the port in order to return to Athens.
This therefore marked the end of my afternoon stay in the port of Lavrion, whereupon i witnessed the departures of several ships that were heading to Kea and Kythnos. This was a very nice experience for me, as I got to see two new ships for the first time in my life, including a Ro-Ro carrier performing an international service. I also had the chance to see ferries that had different backgrounds and career paths in Greece, with the vast majority of them having been in the country for several decades. Moreover, I also got to see two ferries that were part of my childhood summer stays in Greece, namely the IONIS and the ARTEMIS, in their current roles on the Cyclades. Seeing all of them operating for different companies proved that there was a nice level of competition in the port, and they gave the latter a very colourful atmosphere. The port of Lavrion is quite developed, and its role has continued to increase as the years go by. Its location is very convenient from a shipping perspective, however its accessibility remains limited as it requires an hour of driving from Athens, while bus trips last longer. The general belief is that the anticipated construction of a railway line linking it with Athens will contribute to the port's exposure and accessibility, and this could potentially mean an increase in services to the Cyclades and the Northeast Aegean Sea. We should see what the future holds. But even today, the port serves its role very well, and a walk around it is really enjoyable. As such, my second-ever visit there proved to be very memorable for me. I will definitely head back there in the next summer season, as I will undoubtedly see many ferries in that nice port again.
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