• Alexandros Vrailas

Piraeus Visit on 21 September 2020

On 21 September 2020, I had my last interaction with the Greek coastal service for the 2020 season. This was done by going to the port of Piraeus for one final time during that year, in order to photograph the various ships that I had the chance to spot during that short and meaningful visit. As the large majority of the ships that I saw that day consisted of ships that I got to see very often throughout my trips during the summer of 2020, it was an opportunity to bid farewell to them for the time coming, until my return to Greece for the summer of 2021. However, there were some notable exceptions, all of which will be covered in this post.


Just one day after traveling to Syros and back with the WORLDCHAMPION JET of Sea Jets, and one day before my departure from Greece in order to head back to the United Kingdom, I spent a couple of hours at noon in the port of Piraeus, whereupon I got to see several ships, including some that were already beginning their annual winter refits (due to the incoming end of the tourist season for that year). There were also a few departures and arrivals, though not as many as usual due to those occurring mostly during the early morning and early evening. Without further ado, here are all the pictures that I took that day, as part of my last visit to the port of Piraeus for 2020.

The first ship that I got to see right upon arriving in Piraeus was one of my favourites: the ferry PHIVOS of Nova Ferries. Built in 1980, she has been operating on the Saronic Gulf since 2005. In these 15 years that followed, she became one of the most acclaimed ships to serve the area, and she has also been a major part of my childhood and all the memories that I have from my summers in Greece.

As soon as I arrived, I was able to take a quick picture of the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS of ANES Ferries, which had departed the port of Piraeus in order to head towards Aegina.

I then got to see the conventional ferry DIONISIOS SOLOMOS of Zante Ferries. She has been owned by the latter since 1999, and initially served the Ionian Sea, on the Kyllini-Zakynthos line and on the Kyllini-Kefalonia line, as well as the Patras-Kefalonia-Ithaca line in 2013 and in 2015. Since 2017, after she underwent a major conversion in Keratsini (during which her bow modified and her stability at sea was improved), she has been operating on the Western Cyclades. She has been on the Piraeus-Kythnos-Serifos-Sifnos-Milos-Kimolos-Folegandros-Sikinos-Ios-Santorini line since 2019 (after not having served Santorini in 2017 and in 2018).

I then went on to see the high speed catamaran FLYINGCAT 6 of Hellenic Seaways, which was spending the 2020 season on the Saronic Gulf, on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri-Poros-Hydra-Ermioni-Spetses-Porto Cheli line.

In front of the FLYINGCAT 6 was her fleetmate, the hydrofoil FLYING DOLPHIN XVII, which also operates on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri-Poros-Hydra-Ermioni-Spetses-Porto Cheli line on the Saronic Gulf.

A view of the PHIVOS in Piraeus, in what was her sixteenth consecutive summer on the Saronic Gulf. Since 2014, as part of the itineraries provided by the Saronic Ferries joint venture (which is composed of Nova Ferries and 2way Ferries), she has been operating on the Piraeus-Aegina-Methana-Poros line.

The FLYINGCAT 6 seen resting in Piraeus. This was her third consecutive summer on the Saronic Gulf, and overall it was her sixth summer serving the area. Indeed, she had also operated there during the summers of 2013, 2015 and 2016, on the Piraeus-Poros-Hydra-Ermioni-Spetses-Porto Cheli line. In 2020 she started serving Aegina and Agistri for the first time. Having started service for Hellenic Seaways in 2005, the years in which she was not operating on the Saronic Gulf saw her instead being deployed on the Sporades.

A view of the DIONISIOS SOLOMOS in Piraeus. As she had been operating on the Ionian Sea throughout my entire childhood, I have many fond memories of that ship as I would see her in Zakynthos almost every single summer prior to her conversion and subsequent service on the Western Cyclades. When she was on the Ionian Sea, I got to travel onboard her several times. So far, my most recent trip with her dates back from 9 July 2013, back when I was heading from Kyllini to Zakynthos.

A view of the FLYING DOLPHIN XVII in Piraeus. She was notably seen spotting the new livery of the Hellenic Seaways high speed craft, which they acquired after the company decided not to renew the advertising partnership that it has with Cosmote.

The PHIVOS seen resting in Piraeus. In 2020, I traveled with her just once, on 30 August, while heading from Piraeus to Aegina with my two best friends from my university.

A view of the PHIVOS in the port of Piraeus, during a year that also marked 40 years since she began her career. Before her arrival to Greece, she operated as the PUNTA EUROPA on the Gibraltar Strait and later on the Balearic Islands for several Spanish companies, before being laid-up in 2003. Although she was initially bought by the Italian company TRIS Traghetti Isole Sarde, the latter was taken over by the company Enermar and the plans to reactivate the ship were abandoned. She was instead bought by the then-newly-established Greek company Nova Ferries in 2004. After a lengthy conversion in Drapetsona, she began her successful second life as the PHIVOS in Greece in 2005.

Another view of the FLYING DOLPHIN XVII in Piraeus. Built in 1984, she has spent her entire career on the Saronic Gulf. She initially operated under the famed company Ceres Flying Dolphins from 1984 to 1999, until the latter was taken over by Minoan Flying Dolphins in 1999. The new operators of the hydrofoil were then renamed Hellas Flying Dolphins in 2002, and were then rebranded as Hellenic Seaways in 2005.

The PHIVOS seen in the port of Piraeus. In her first two seasons under Nova Ferries, she operated on the Piraeus-Aegina-Methana-Poros-Hydra line, before then operating solely on the Piraeus-Aegina line from 2007 to 2013.

When I began to look towards the E7 gate, I saw a familiar face under a different appearance for the first time. Indeed, I got to see the BLUE STAR MYCONOS of Blue Star Ferries, which was formerly known as the NISSOS MYKONOS of Hellenic Seaways. Built in 2005 in Greece, the ship spent 15 years under Hellenic Seaways, before joining Blue Star Ferries in early 2020. As a result, her name and her livery were changed. Her fleetmate and sister ship, the NISSOS CHIOS, was also transferred to Blue Star Ferries in that same period, and she now operates as the BLUE STAR CHIOS.

A view of the BLUE STAR MYCONOS, during her debut season under Blue Star Ferries. During that year, she continued to serve the Cyclades and the Northeast Aegean Sea, just as she had done during her spell under Hellenic Seaways. For 2020, she operated on the Piraeus-Syros-Tinos-Mykonos-Patmos-Ikaria-Fournoi-Samos-Chios-Oinousses-Mytilene-Limnos-Kavala line.

The BLUE STAR MYCONOS seen with a ship that used to be one of her fleetmates. Indeed, that ship is the high speed ferry HIGHSPEED 4 of Hellenic Seaways. Both ships were the frequent faces of the company in most of its advertisements, but now they are no longer owned by the same operator (even though both Blue Star Ferries and Hellenic Seaways are controlled by Attica Group).

A view of the HIGHSPEED 4 in the port of Piraeus. It was her first year carrying the new livery of the Hellenic Seaways high speed craft.

The funnel of the BLUE STAR MYCONOS, which saw the famed blue star logo of Blue Star Ferries flying over the ship for the first time. However, this happened to be the only year during which we got to see the funnel under this form. Indeed, it will appear different in 2021, due to the BLUE STAR MYCONOS recently undergoing a conversion in Perama that would see her being equipped with an exhaust gas cleaning system, also known as 'scrubbers'. She has returned to service just three days ago, being inserted on the Piraeus-Syros-Mykonos-Ikaria-Fournoi-Samos-Chios-Oinousses-Mytilene-Limnos-Kavala line.

The FLYINGCAT 6 seen in Piraeus. I have so far traveled with her once, back in 28 July 2019, when I was heading from Spetses to Piraeus.

A view of the FLYING DOLPHIN XVII in Piraeus. I have also traveled with her once so far, also during the summer of 2019. This was on 7 August 2019, while heading from Aegina to Piraeus. She is the most recent Hellenic Seaways hydrofoil, as well as the most recent Hellenic Seaways ships, onboard which I have traveled.

The PHIVOS seen resting in Piraeus.

The DIONISIOS SOLOMOS also seen resting in Piraeus, in what was her fourth consecutive summer on the Western Cyclades.

The HIGHSPEED 4 seen docked in Piraeus. Built in 2000 for Minoan Flying Dolphins (which became Hellas Flying Dolphins in 2002 and was rebranded as Hellenic Seaways in 2005), she has so far spent her entire career operating on the Cyclades, on which she has become one of the most acclaimed ships of the last two decades.

The PHIVOS was seen alongside one of her Saronic Ferries collaborators, namely the APOLLON HELLAS of 2way Ferries. The latter also operates on the Piraeus-Aegina-Methana-Poros line.

A view of the HIGHSPEED 4 in the port of Piraeus. Due to the various economic difficulties that Hellenic Seaways experienced in the 2010s, she is one of the only two remaining high speed ferries that are part of the 'Highspeed' brand, along with the HELLENIC HIGHSPEED.

I then proceed to seeing the cruiseferry KNOSSOS PALACE of Minoan Lines, which was serving the Piraeus-Milos-Heraklion line.

The BLUE STAR MYCONOS seen in the port of Piraeus, during her first season under Blue Star Ferries.

I also saw the high speed ferry SUPEREXPRESS of Golden Star Ferries in Piraeus. She began operating for the latter in 2019.

Towards the exit of the port of Piraeus, I spotted the NISSOS SAMOS of Hellenic Seaways, which serves the Piraeus-Psara-Oinousses-Chios-Mytilene line on the Northeast Aegean Sea.

The DIONISIOS SOLOMOS seen resting in Piraeus. After her fleetmate, the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS, headed for operations on the Alexandroupolis-Samothraki-Limnos line, she has been the only ship of Zante Ferries operating on the Western Cyclades.

The PHIVOS seen in Piraeus, alongside the APOLLON HELLAS.

In the meantime, I saw the small passenger boat ELENA F of Elena F Shipping arriving in Piraeus. Built in 1998, she is one of the ships operating on the Piraeus-Salamina line.

At the E10 gate, I saw the bow of the high speed trimaran SUPERSPEED of Golden Star Ferries.

The SUPERSPEED seen in the port of Piraeus. She began service for Golden Star Ferries in 2018, initially on the Thessaloniki-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos line on the Sporades, followed by a stint on the Rafina-Syros-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos-Koufonisi-Amorgos line on the Cyclades in 2019. The latter service was unsuccessful, as her season ended prematurely following a major engine failure that she suffered in Naxos in the middle of the summer.

The NISSOS SAMOS seen in Piraeus, during her fifth summer under Hellenic Seaways. She was previously the IONIAN QUEEN of Endeavor Lines, for whom she operated on the Adriatic Sea from 2005 to 2012, when the company ceased to exist. After being laid-up in Patras for three years, the ship was bought by Hellenic Seaways in late 2015, and was reactivated as the NISSOS SAMOS on the Piraeus-Chios-Mytilene-Limnos-Thessaloniki line in 2016. She then spent one successful season on the Piraeus-Paros-Naxos-Santorini line in 2017, before returning to the Northeast Aegean Sea in 2018, having since been operating on the Piraeus-Psara-Oinousses-Chios-Mytilene line.

The BLUE STAR MYCONOS seen in Piraeus. She is considered to be one of the best, if not the best (according to many) ferry of the Greek coastal service.

At some point, I saw the FLYING DOLPHIN XVII departing the port of Piraeus.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVII seen leaving Piraeus in order to head to Aegina.

As the FLYING DOLPHIN XVII was leaving, I then got to see the FLYING DOLPHIN XIX, also of Hellenic Seaways. Just like her fleetmate, she operates on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri-Poros-Hydra-Ermioni-Spetses-Porto Cheli line.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVII seen passing by the PHIVOS and the APOLLON HELLAS in order to head towards the exit of the port of Piraeus.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVII seen heading towards Aegina, after having left Piraeus.

The impressive BLUE STAR MYCONOS seen in Piraeus. So far she has spent her entire career on the Northeast Aegean Sea, while also serving many islands of the Cyclades along the way (including Syros, Tinos, Mykonos, Paros and Naxos).

The HIGHSPEED 4 seen in the port of Piraeus. I traveled with her back on 29 July 2018, while heading from Paros to Piraeus.

The APOLLON HELLAS and the PHIVOS docked together in Piraeus. The former returned to the Saronic Gulf back in 2017, after having previously operated on the Sporades between 2014 and 2016. Before that, she had operated on the Saronic Gulf from 1999 to 2013, under Poseidon Consortium Shipping (1999), Minoan Flying Dolphins (1999-2002), Hellas Flying Dolphins (2002-2005) and Hellenic Seaways (2005-2013). She was acquired by 2way Ferries in 2016, while she was operating on the Agios Konstantinos-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos line.

A few moments later, I saw the POSIDON HELLAS of 2way Ferries arriving in Piraeus.

The POSIDON HELLAS was seen maneuvering in Piraeus, in order to dock next to her Saronic Ferries partners. Built in 1998 in Greece, she became the first-ever conventional double-ended ferry to enter the Greek coastal service. She has so far spent her entire career on the Saronic Gulf, having operated under Poseidon Consortium Shipping (1998-1999), Minoan Flying Dolphins and Hellas Flying Dolphins under the Saronikos Ferries division (1999-2005), Hellenic Seaways (2005-2015) and 2way Ferries (since 2015).

The POSIDON HELLAS seen maneuvering in Piraeus, in what was her sixth summer under 2way Ferries.

The POSIDON HELLAS seen undergoing her maneuvering procedure in Piraeus.

The ELENA F seen having docked in Piraeus. She has spent all her career on the Piraeus-Salamina line, except for the 2013 season, when she was deployed on the Glyfa-Skiathos line on the Sporades.

The BLUE STAR MYCONOS seen in Piraeus. She became the first ship of the Greek coastal service to win the prestigious 'Ship of the Year' award given by Lloyd's List Greek Shipping Awards, back in 2006. Her sister ship won that same award in 2007, while the WORLDCHAMPION JET of Sea Jets won it in 2019.

The POSIDON HELLAS having completed her maneuvering procedure and preparing to dock in Piraeus.

The ELENA F seen departing the port of Piraeus for Salamina immediately afterwards.

The POSIDON HELLAS about to dock in Piraeus.

A view of the FLYINGCAT 6 while she is seen resting in Piraeus.

The POSIDON HELLAS having just docked in the port of Piraeus. In 2020, I traveled with her once, back when I went from Piraeus to Aegina on 18 August 2020.

A view of the POSIDON HELLAS, just after she had docked in Piraeus. She serves the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri-Methana-Poros line, thus making her the only ship of the Saronic Ferries joint venture to operate in all of tis destinations.

The POSIDON HELLAS seen in Piraeus. She was bought by 2way Ferries in 2015, after having operated for Hellenic Seaways for ten years. Interestingly, 2way Ferries was the successor company of Poseidon Consortium Shipping, which ended service in 1999 after it was taken over by Minoan Flying Dolphins. The company was owned by the Papaïoannidis family, which today operates 2way Ferries.

The DIONISIOS SOLOMOS seen in Piraeus, right before leaving for the Western Cyclades.

Just after the POSIDON HELLAS had docked in Piraeus, another ship operating on the Saronic Gulf and named after the Greek God of the Sea was seen arriving in the port. Indeed, it was the small passenger boat POSEIDON of Poseidon Waterways. She was spending her debut summer on the Piraeus-Salamina line.

The POSEIDON seen arriving in Piraeus. Built in 1995, she was previously known as the MARIA K of Kalfaoglou Shipping, and operated on the Perama-Salamina line from 1995 until 2003. She was then laid-up for 12 years, until she was reactivated by Salamina Waterways as the THERMAÏKOS I in 2015. She operated on the Perama-Salamina line from 2015 until 2018. Afterwards, she was bought by Thessaloniki Waterways, which was rebranded as Poseidon Waterways, with the ship herself being renamed POSEIDON. She spent the 2019 season on the Thermaic Gulf, on the Thessaloniki-Lefkos Pyrgos-Neoi Epivates-Peraia-Agia Triada. After only one summer there, she was deployed on the Piraeus-Salamina line in 2020.

The APOLLON HELLAS seen in Piraeus. In 2020, she underwent an extensive refit, which saw all her indoor areas being modernised and making her look much more attractive for passengers. Her speed and her engines were also improved. I was able to see such changes when I traveled with the ship from Aegina to Piraeus on 13 August 2020.

As I started walking towards the E7 gate, I noticed the FLYINGCAT 4 of Hellenic Seaways, which had finished her summer service on the Saronic Gulf, and was now beginning her annual winter refit. She had completed her second consecutive season on the Piraeus-Poros-Hydra-Ermioni-Spetses-Porto Cheli line.

In front of me, I also saw the BLUE GALAXY of Blue Star Ferries, which operates on the Piraeus-Chania line.

In front of the BLUE GALAXY was her former fleetmate, namely the KRITI II of ANEK Lines. She was operating on the Piraeus-Heraklion line for the sixth consecutive summer.

After seeing the aforementioned two ships, I then saw a familiar face, though in an unfamiliar location. Indeed, I saw the legendary SUPERFERRY II of Golden Star Ferries docked in Piraeus. Having been an icon operating from Rafina to the Cyclades since 1993, the ship was seen in Piraeus as she was temporarily serving the Piraeus-Milos-Santorini-Anafi-Heraklion-Siteia-Kasos-Karapthos-Chalki-Rhodes lifeline, as the incumbent ship operating in this service, the PREVELIS of ANEK Lines, was undergoing her annual refit in Perama. As such, the SUPERFERRY II, which had already finished her service on the Rafina-Andros-Tinos-Mykonos-Paros line for that season, was called to replace her.

A view of the SUPERFERRY II in Piraeus, while replacing the PREVELIS. Built in 1974 in Belgium, she has spent all her summers on the Rafina-Andros-Tinos-Mykonos line, while also adding many more islands along the way during different seasons. She has been operating for Golden Star Ferries since 2011. Before that, she operated under Blue Star Ferries, and even before that for the latter's predecessor, Strintzis Lines.

The BLUE GALAXY seen in Piraeus. She began operations for Blue Star Ferries in 2015, on the Piraeus-Chania line. Before that, she was the LEFKA ORI of ANEK Lines, having operated for them on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Trieste line (2000-2004) and on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Venice line (2005-2011) on the Adriatic Sea. In 2012, she was chartered to South Korean company Jeju Cruise Line, but never entered service for them due to their economic issues. As a result, she was laid-up in Busan in 2013, and returned to ANEK Lines, where she remained laid-up until late 2014, when she began preparations in order to be reactivated by Blue Star Ferries as the BLUE GALAXY in 2015.

The KRITI II seen in Piraeus, during her twenty-fourth summer under ANEK Lines. She has operated on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Ancona line (1997-2000), on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Trieste line (2001), on the Piraeus-Heraklion line (from 2002 to 2008, from 2010 to 2011, and since 2015), on the Piraeus-Chios-Mytilene-Limnos-Thessaloniki line (2009), on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Venice line (2012-2013) and on the Piraeus-Chania line (2014).

The BLUE GALAXY seen during her sixth season under Blue Star Ferries. I traveled with her back when she was operating as the LEFKA ORI, while heading from Patras to Venice in 2006.

The KNOSSOS PALACE seen in Piraeus. Built in 2000, she was the flagship of Minoan Lines for 20 years, as she operated on the Piraeus-Heraklion line (while also adding the port of Milos in 2018).

The BLUE GALAXY seen in the port of Piraeus. She is one of the two ships of Blue Star Ferries operating in Crete. The other one is the BLUE HORIZON, which has been serving the Piraeus-Heraklion line since 2014.

The SUPERFERRY II seen in Piraeus, with that day being the first time that I had seen her in Athens' main port. In 2020, I traveled with her for the first time, while heading from Andros to Rafina on 18 August 2020.

The BLUE GALAXY and the SUPERFERRY II seen together in Piraeus. The latter also used to operate for the company that owns the former. Indeed, she operated for Blue Star Ferries from 2000 to 2010, before her sale to Golden Star Ferries.

A view of the SUPERFERRY II in Piraeus. Just two months ago, she and three of her Golden Star Ferries fleetmates were subject to much coverage in Greek coastal service news. Indeed, she has been sold to Sea Jets (one of the biggest rivals of Golden Star Ferries), with delivery to them being planned after the summer of 2021. As such, this is due to be her last-ever season under Golden Star Ferries.

The BLUE STAR MYCONOS docked in the port of Piraeus.

The SUPERFERRY II seen in Piraeus. She has since resumed her service on the Cyclades for Golden Star Ferries, and has been deployed on the Rafina-Andros-Tinos-Mykonos-Naxos-Paros line for the summer of 2021.