• Alexandros Vrailas

Piraeus Visit on 12 July 2018

The summer of 2018 has been the one during which I have spent the longest amount of time in Greece (ever since I left the country in order to live overseas) yet. This was primarily due to my university exams finishing in early June and due to an internship that I had for about a month with the Greek subsidiary of shipping giants V-Ships. I began this internship in late June and completed it in late July. Afterwards, I spent another month of vacation in the Greek Islands as my entire family had been reunited in Athens shortly after the completion of my internship. Besides having a great experience while working there, I was also pleased to find out that the company's offices were located in one of my favourite places in the world: the port of Piraeus. They were right on the E7 gate, hence I had an amazing view while working. And several times after finishing work for the day, I would then spend the late afternoon in the port in order to take pictures of the ferries that were there at the time. It was therefore the definition of paradise for me.


This post hence shows my daily summer routine, sharing all the pictures I took on 12 July 2018 after I had finished work (at around 19:00) and stayed in Piraeus for about an hour. It is quite nice to show up during that period of time, as many ships are beginning to return to Piraeus after having left for the Aegean Islands (especially the Cyclades) early in the morning. Therefore, the port begins to fill-up extremely fast, and this is exactly what a shipping enthusiast like me wants to see.


Without any further ado, it's time for me to share these pictures with you. Surely you will see many ships which have become a regular feature on this site. But, nevertheless, I never get tired of looking at them and taking pictures of them.

The first ship I saw right after leaving from work was the well-known BLUE GALAXY of Blue Star Ferries, which was seen resting in Piraeus. Since her transfer to Blue Star Ferries in 2015, she has been operating on the Piraeus-Chania line.

And on the other side, at the E7 gate, I saw the HELLENIC HIGHSPEED of Hellenic Seaways, which had just returned to Piraeus. She was operating on the Piraeus-Sifnos-Ios-Santorini line, having been there since the summer of 2017.

The impressive HELLENIC HIGHSPEED seen resting in Piraeus after having completed her trip to the Cyclades. The day I took this picture marked two days shy of the first anniversary of my first trip with her, back on 14 July 2017, when I traveled onboard her in order to head from Ios to Piraeus.

The bow of the HELLENIC HIGHSPEED, which is the only monohull high speed craft to have ever operated for Hellenic Seaways. In 2018, the company was reduced to only two high speed ferries, as they sold the HIGHSPEED 7 to Minoan Lines (as part of the deal that would see Hellenic Seaways become a part of Attica Group), who renamed her SANTORINI PALACE.

When looking further towards the East, I spotted the ferry ADAMANTIOS KORAIS of Zante Ferries, which was seen resting in Piraeus.

And when I looked towards the South I spotted two of the biggest ferries of the Greek coastal service: the BLUE HORIZON of Blue Star Ferries (which is seen arriving in Piraeus) and the NISSOS RODOS of Hellenic Seaways. Coincidentally, both ships have been built in Japan in the same year, 1987. Both started their careers there before eventually being bought by their current owners in Greece. Moreover, both of them had a stint on the Adriatic Sea before permanently moving to the Aegean Sea. Finally, both ships were laid-up between 2011 and 2012 due to the effects of the Greek financial crisis, before being reactivated in 2013. Now collaborators as Hellenic Seaways joined Attica Group, the BLUE HORIZON operates on the Piraeus-Heraklion line, while the NISSOS RODOS spent her first season on the Piraeus-Chios-Mytilene line.

In front of the BLUE GALAXY (at the E3 gate), the cruiseferry FESTOS PALACE of Minoan Lines was also seen resting. She competes against the BLUE HORIZON on the Piraeus-Heraklion line, on which she has spent her entire career, ever since her construction was completed back in 2001. In 2018, she operated on the Piraeus-Milos-Heraklion line for the first time. Minoan Lines added Milos to her itinerary shortly before the start of the summer season.

The BLUE GALAXY seen in Piraeus. She was receiving bunkers and was due to depart at 22:00 in order to reach Chania the following morning.

In the meantime, her fleetmate, the BLUE HORIZON, is seen heading towards her docking spot, after having arrived from Heraklion. During the summer, ANEK Lines and Blue Star Ferries operate day trips for their Cretan ships, instead of only overnight trips that occur during the winter season.

The ADAMANTIOS KORAIS seen in Piraeus. Just like the BLUE HORIZON and the NISSOS RODOS, she was also built in Japan in 1987. The summer of 2018 was her eleventh in Greece, and her tenth consecutive on the Piraeus-Kythnos-Serifos-Sifnos-Milos-Kimolos-Folegandros-Sikinos-Ios-Santorini line, which she has successfully served and which has earned her considerable acclaim.

Next to her (at the E9 gate), the high speed ferry CHAMPION JET 1 of Sea Jets had also returned to Piraeus, after having operated on the Piraeus-Mykonos-Naxos-Santorini line. Present in Greece since 2015, she has quickly become a key component of Sea Jets' rise in the Greek coastal service. Another interesting fact: the day I took all these pictures marked exactly three years since my first (and so far only) trip with her, when I traveled with her from Santorini to Piraeus. Therefore it was nice to see her exactly three years after this memorable trip. The latter was notably my first-ever trip in Greece onboard a high speed ferry.

The impressive BLUE HORIZON seen approaching her docking spot in Piraeus. She has been operating on the Piraeus-Heraklion line since 2014.

The beautiful ADAMANTIOS KORAIS resting in Piraeus. She has been the flagship of Zante Ferries ever since beginning service for them. Her first season was spent on the Piraeus-Paros-Naxos-Ios-Santorini line, but she then moved to the Western Cyclades lifeline and has remained there ever since.

The BLUE HORIZON progressively approaching her docking spot in Piraeus.

Alongside the CHAMPION JET 1, I also spotted the catamaran FLYINGCAT 3 of Hellenic Seaways.

Built in 1998, the FLYINGCAT 3 had previously spent a significant part of her career on the Cyclades. Since 2016, however, she has been operating on the Piraeus-Poros-Hydra-Ermioni-Spetses-Porto Cheli line. The summer of 2018 hence marked her third straight on the Saronic Gulf. She had also served the Piraeus-Hydra-Spetses line in 2015, in addition to her main service that was spent on the Piraeus-Serifos-Sifnos-Koufonisi line that season.

The BLUE HORIZON facing me with her impressive Japanese bow. She is about to begin her maneuvering procedure.

Another view of the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS. The summer prior to last year's I had traveled onboard her, from Piraeus to Sifnos, on 26 July 2017. It was my favourite trip of the season, as the ship was truly exciting and offered me several memorable pictures.

The BLUE HORIZON about to start her maneuvering procedure.

While looking further towards the E8 gate, I saw a familiar ship: the double-ended ferry ACHAEOS of 2way Ferries, which operates on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri line.

The BLUE HORIZON now preparing to maneuver in Piraeus. The entire procedure lasted a long time due to the ship's size and limited space next to the E4 gate. But it truly was a spectacle, as I was able to see it being performed right in front of me.

The BLUE HORIZON seen maneuvering in Piraeus. It was really a very special moment. While Piraeus residents see it on a daily basis, I saw it for the first time in my life and was really amazed. It goes on to illustrate the professionalism and efficiency of her crew.

When looking at the E8 gate again, I saw the hydrofoil FLYING DOLPHIN XVII of Hellenic Seaways departing Piraeus in order to head towards nearby island Aegina.

The BLUE HORIZON beginning beginning to reach 90 degrees of maneuvering in Piraeus.

The BLUE HORIZON having reached 90 degrees while facing towards the East. It really was an impressive maneuvering procedure.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVII seen heading from Piraeus to Aegina. The summer of 2018 was her thirty-fifth straight in Greece. All of them have been spent on the Saronic Gulf. Only the one-day cruise ship COSMOS of Evermore Cruises has operated in the area for a longer time than this reliable hydrofoil. In the background of the picture is the iconic Church of Agios Nikolaos, who is said to be the seamen's protector Saint.

Another picture of the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS.

The BLUE HORIZON beginning to complete her 180-degree turn in order to head towards her docking spot.

The BLUE HORIZON facing me perpendicularly. Her length almost covered the entire passage from the E4 to E9 gates to the port's exit. It was a really impressive scene.

In the meantime, I could see, from the only visible area not covered by the BLUE HORIZON, another ship returning to Piraeus. It was another Hellenic Seaways-owned ship: the HIGHSPEED 4.

Another view of the BLUE GALAXY. Before entering service with Blue Star Ferries, she was previously known as the LEFKA ORI of ANEK Lines, having operated for them between 2000 and 2012. Between 2012 and 2015 she did not sail at all due to a failed charter to South Korean company Jeju Cruise Line. ANEK Lines reacquired the ship in late 2013 but sold her after the 2014 summer season to Blue Star Ferries.

The HIGHSPEED 4 approaching the E7 gate in Piraeus

The fantastic HIGHSPEED 4 seen arriving in Piraeus. She has spent her entire career in Greece, having operated for Hellenic Seaways' predecessors (Minoan Flying Dolphins, later known as Hellas Flying Dolphins) and for Hellenic Seaways since their respective establishments. Moreover, she has served the Cyclades area in every single summer since her arrival in Greece in 2000.

In 2018, the HIGHSPEED 4 was serving the Piraeus-Paros-Naxos-Koufonisi-Amorgos line, where she has been operating since 2016. She had also operated there in 2014, with tremendous success.

Th HIGHSPEED 4 preparing to undergo her maneuvering procedure in Piraeus, in the exact same location as the BLUE HORIZON did hers just a few minutes earlier.

The HIGHSPEED 4 seen quickly maneuvering in Piraeus. Obviously, due to her much smaller size and her status as a high speed craft, her procedure is much faster than the one of the BLUE HORIZON.

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.

The HIGHSPEED 4 preparing to dock in Piraeus.

Another view of the ships resting in the E9 gate: the catamarans FLYINGCAT 3 and CHAMPION JET 1, and the classic ferry ADAMANTIOS KORAIS.

The HIGHSPEED 4 having finished her maneuvering procedure and beginning to dock in Piraeus, while the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS watches.

In the meantime, the BLUE HORIZON has completely finished her maneuvering procedure and is now docked in Piraeus, just in front of her fleetmate, the BLUE GALAXY.

While the sun begins to set, I took another picture of the NISSOS RODOS, which was set to depart to Chios and Mytilene later in the evening.

Another view of the FESTOS PALACE as the evening approaches.

The HIGHSPEED 4 still seen docking in the E7 gate.

The BLUE HORIZON having docked in Piraeus. She is now seen with the BLUE GALAXY. Both were built in Japan and operated under the same company, Higashi Nihon Ferry. After being sold to Blue Star Ferries and ANEK Lines, respectively, they became competitors on the Adriatic Sea during the 2000s. After the BLUE GALAXY joined Blue Star Ferries in 2015, the two ships became fleetmates for the first time since 1999. They are now the two ferries of the company serving Crete, and they cooperate with ANEK Lines as part of the ANEK-Attica Group joint venture.

The HIGHSPEED 4 having docked in Piraeus.


And so this marks the end of my post, as it was time for me to head back home in Central Athens. It was a typical evening throughout my internship stint. But this day was quite memorable as I got to see a fantastic arrival and maneuvering procedure of the BLUE HORIZON, as well as of the HIGHSPEED 4. It is a pleasure for me to see how unique the ships of the Greek coastal service are and how their crews take care of them despite having to repeat the same process everyday and having limited free time in the middle of the summer. Next week, an equally-impressive post showing my visit to Piraeus on 13 July 2018, just one day after taking this post's pictures, will be published. You will get to see it in 7 days!


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