PROTOPOROS XIII Tribute and Moments of Trip
Trip: 21 July 2018. From Eretria to Oropos, with the PROTOPOROS XIII of Tsokos Lines.
The double-ended ferry PROTOPOROS XIII was built in 2017 in Greece, becoming the eleventh ship built for Greek company Tsokos Lines (the PROTOPOROS XI and the PROTOPOROS XII were built later). She was deployed on the Oropos-Eretria line on the South Evoian Gulf, replacing the PROTOPOROS IX, which had been sold to Tanzanian company Azam Sealink.
Just a few hours after my trip with the ANNA MARIA of Gavanozis Shipping in order to go visit a friend who was in Evoia for a few days with his family, it was time for me to return to Athens. The first step was a taxi ride from the hotel where he was staying to the port of Eretria, located in the Central part of Southern Evoia (Greece's second largest island, after Crete). From there I would again be taking the 20-minute-long ferry ride to Oropos, from which I would then head to Athens by bus.
The previous post covers a brief summary of the Oropos-Eretria line, which is now mainly a seasonal service and had three double-ended ferries operating there during the summer of 2018.
The PROTOPOROS XIII heading from Eretria to Oropos, as seen during my trip onboard the ANNA MARIA of Gavanozis Shipping.
The PROTOPOROS XIII seen approaching Eretria, shortly before my trip with her.
Another view of the PROTOPOROS XIII as she approaches Eretria.
Before giving an overview of my trip, I think it is a good idea to present to you the history of Tsokos Lines, its importance within Eretria and the wider Greek coastal service, and all the ferries that have operated for the company. Indeed, the company is owned by the Eretria-based Tsokos family, and was founded in 2004. It first began service on the Oropos-Eretria line with the then-newly-built double-ended ferry PROTOPOROS, which became the first double-ended ferry to ever operate on the line. The word 'Protoporos' means 'Pioneering' in Greek. And this is exactly what the mindset of her company is about: pioneering. And this has been done by deploying very modern and technologically-advanced double-ended ferries for short distance routes throughout Greece. All 'Protoporos' ships have been hailed so far for their large size compared to other double-ended ferries, and for their flawless and comfortable service. Over the next 15 years, the company went on to order a total of 15 double-ended ferries, two of which are under construction today and should be completed before the end of 2019. All ships have been built in either Perama or Amaliapolis. This is the record for the most ferries ever built for one specific Greek company, eclipsing the record held by Superfast Ferries which had 14 newly-built ferries delivered to them between 1995 and 2009. Moreover, all ferries ordered by Tsokos Lines were built in Greece, making it the company with the most ships built in the country (excluding tour boat-based companies such as the Santorini Boatmen Union or the Association of the Boatmen of Mykonos). Only the historic and now-defunct company Ceres Flying Dolphins has had more newly-built ships delivered to them, with a total of 19 ships (17 hydrofoils and two catamarans) entering service for the company as soon as they were built between 1976 and 1998. But, at this rhythm, Tsokos Lines could even surpass them, if they order five more ships, something that is potentially likely to happen.
Though the company has ordered 15 ferries in as many years, it currently only owns three of them (in addition to the ones that are under construction). Tsokos Lines is known for quickly selling their ferries to other companies (both Greek and foreign) just a few years after beginning to operate them. They however replace them immediately with newer ships. Thus, a cycle keeps repeating itself: Build, operate, sell, replace by another built ship, operate it, sell it, and so on. In order to avoid confusion and in order to provide you with a clear general overview of the fleet of Tsokos Lines, here is an outline of all the ships that operate, that have operated, or that are due to operate for Tsokos Lines, and what their current status is as of March 2019:
-The PROTOPOROS (2004-2010): Built in 2004 as the first ship of the company, she operated on the Oropos-Eretria line before being sold in 2010 to Salamina-based company Panagia Faneromeni. She now operates on the Perama-Salamina line as the FANEROMENI.
-The PROTOPOROS II (2006-2007): Built in 2006 as the second ship of the company, she operated for two seasons on the Oropos-Eretria line before being sold in late 2007 to Tunisian company Sonotrak. Initially named LOUD 7TH, she has been known since 2012 as the LOUD TUNISIE and operates on the Sfax-Chergui-Gharbi line.
-The PROTOPOROS III (2008-2010): Built in 2008 as a replacement for the PROTOPOROS II, she entered service on the Oropos-Eretria line before being sold in 2010 to Thassos-based company ANETH Ferries. She has since been operating on the Keramoti-Thassos line as the THASSOS I.
-The PROTOPOROS IV (2010-2015): Built in 2010, she began operating on the Oropos-Eretria line, and her role became more prominent following the sale of the PROTOPOROS III. She became the first ship of the company to operate on the Rion-Antirrion line, something that she did in 2014. In the winter of 2015, she was sold to Russian company Obshchestvo S Ogranichennoy Otvetstvennost'yu. She was not renamed (but was simply reflagged from Greece to Russia) and operated on the Kavkaz-Port Krym line, connecting Russia with Ukraine through the Kerch Strait in the Crimean peninsula. After the opening of the Kerch Strait Bridge in 2018, she was laid-up in Kerch in early 2019.
-The PROTOPOROS V (2011-2012): Built in 2011, she began operations on the Oropos-Eretria line, replacing the PROTOPOROS which had been sold the previous summer. She was sold in 2012 to Tanzanian company Azam Sealink. She has since been operating on the Dar Es Salaam-Zanzibar line as the AZAM SEALINK 1.
-The PROTOPOROS VI (2012-2015): Built in 2012, she began operations on the Arkitsa-Aidipsos line (on the North Evoian Gulf), becoming the first (and so far the only) ship of the company to ever operate on the line. After spending the winter of 2014-2015 on the Perama-Salamina line with the PROTOPOROS IV, she was also sold for service on the Kerch Strait, being acquired by Russian company Proekt CJSC. She was renamed POBEDA and was deployed on the Kavkaz-Port Krym line. After the opening of the Kerch Strait Bridge in 2018, she was laid-up in Kerch in early 2019, and is now listed for sale.
-The PROTOPOROS VII (2015-2016): Built in 2015, she began operations on the Perama-Salamina line in order to replace the PROTOPOROS IV and the PROTOPOROS VI which were sold to Russian companies that year. She would find herself sold after just one season to Mexican company Transcaribe Conecta. She has since been operating on the Calica-Cozumel line as the TRANSCARIBE I.
-The PROTOPOROS VIII (2016-2017): Built in 2016, she began operations on the Perama-Salamina line order to replace the PROTOPOROS VII which had been sold to Transcaribe Conecta. She spent the 2017 summer season on the Rion-Antirrion line. After the completion of the latter season, she was sold to newly-established Thassos-based company Thassian Sea Lines. She has since been operating on the Keramoti-Thassos line as the DIMITRIOS CH (competing against the THASSOS I, formerly the PROTOPOROS III).
-The PROTOPOROS IX (2016-2017): Built in 2016, she began operations on the Oropos-Eretria line, becoming the first ship to operate there since the 2013 season. But her service lasted just one summer as she was sold in early 2017 to Tanzanian company Azam Sealink, which had also acquired the PROTOPOROS V five years earlier. She has since been operating on the Dar Es Salaam-Zanzibar line as the AZAM SEALINK 2.
-The PROTOPOROS X (2017-present): Built in 2017, she began operations on the Perama-Salamina line, taking over the service left by the PROTOPOROS VIII which was transferred to the Rion-Antirrion line. She still operates for the company to date.
-The PROTOPOROS XI (Under construction): Currently under construction in Perama, she is due to enter service for the company on the Perama-Salamina line during the summer of 2019.
-The PROTOPOROS XII (2018-2019): Built in 2018, she only operated for a few days on the Perama-Salamina line in the summer of 2018 before being eventually sold two months ago to Tanzanian company Zan Fast Ferries. She has since been operating on the Dar Es Salaam-Zanzibar line as the SEA STAR I.
-The PROTOPOROS XIII (2017-present): Built in 2017, she began operations on the Oropos-Eretria line, replacing the PROTOPOROS IX which had been sold to Azam Sealink. She still operates for the company to date.
-The PROTOPOROS XIV (2018-present): Built in 2018, she began operations on the Rion-Antirrion line, replacing the PROTOPOROS VIII which had been sold to Thassian Sea Lines. She still operates for the company to date.
-The PROTOPOROS XV (Under construction): Currently under construction in Perama, she is due to enter service for the company on the Perama-Salamina line during the fall of 2019.
So here you go, you have all the information about each ferry in the history of Tsokos Lines (for the time being). It is also noteworthy to state that all ferries currently operating for the company are part of the Salamina Ferries joint venture, which they represent on either the Perama-Salamina line, the Oropos-Eretria line or the Rion-Antirrion line.
Now it is finally the time to talk about the trip. It was my first-ever trip from Evoia to mainland Greece, the first-ever with a ferry owned by Tsokos Lines, and the second-ever onboard an open-type double-ended ferry, after the ANNA MARIA.
The PROTOPOROS XIII approaching the port of Eretria.
The PROTOPOROS XIII having almost reached Eretria, after arriving from Oropos.
The PROTOPOROS XIII preparing to dock in Eretria.
The PROTOPOROS XIII preparing to dock in the port of Eretria.
The PROTOPOROS XIII about to dock in Eretria.
The PROTOPOROS XIII seen docking in the port of Eretria.
After the ship docked, it was finally time to board her. Here is a view of the wide open garage, which passes under her accommodation superstructure. She also has side ramps which allow the passengers to take the staircases that lead to the accommodation superstructure.
The first deck of the accommodation superstructure. It stretches between the two edges of the ship, above each ramp door. The first deck has, just like most Greek-built open-type double-ended ferries, an indoor area that includes seats. At each side of the superstructure, there is a small alley with white chairs where passengers can sit while remaining outside.
The small alley, featuring white chairs where passengers can sit while remaining outside. Next to it is the stairway that leads to the second deck of the accommodation superstructure of the ship.
The indoor lounge area, featuring a darker approach than the one seen on the ANNA MARIA. It features modern lounge seats and more space for passengers.
The lounge seats of the PROTOPOROS XIII, with many of them centered around wooden tables attached to the floor.
Another view of the indoor lounge area onboard the PROTOPOROS XIII.
The ship's garage seen from the first deck of the accommodation superstructure.
The outdoor seating area, located next to the front mast and the garage ramp door, giving a clear view of the ship's surroundings.
Several white chairs aligned together in the outdoor area of the second deck of the accommodation superstructure.
On the deck above, one can spot the ship's bridge, which is painted in black. Above it, you can see the company flag of Tsokos Lines.
The second deck of the accommodation superstructure, which has numerous chairs as well as the ship's lifeboat.
The ship's accommodation superstructure seen from the edge exterior deck. It is very wide and provides lots of space for passengers. Above the garage and underneath the windows of the first deck, the ship's name is written in Greek letters, with white characters highlighted in red.
Mainland Greece seen at the opposite of the South Evoian Gulf.
Soon afterwards, the ship began to head towards Oropos. Five minutes into the trip, I spotted the ANNA MARIA of Gavanozis Shipping heading towards Eretria.
The ANNA MARIA seen heading towards Eretria. Built in 2009, she has operated on the Oropos-Eretria line from 2009 to 2014, in 2016 and in 2018. In 2015 and 2017, she was operating on the Perama-Salamina line, as she alternated services with her fleetmates. Indeed, in 2015, the AEOLOS operated on the Oropos-Eretria line, while the service was taken over by the AEOLOS II in 2017.
Another view of the ANNA MARIA, in what was her eighth season on the Oropos-Eretria line, and her first one since 2016.
The beautiful ANNA MARIA seen heading towards Eretria.
The ANNA MARIA on her way towards Eretria. She is currently spending the winter season on the Perama-Salamina line.
One last view of the ANNA MARIA as she heads from Oropos to Eretria.
Ten minutes after passing by the ANNA MARIA, the third ship of the line, the ARIS III of Psomas Shipping, was seen heading from Oropos to Eretria as well.
The ARIS III on her way to Oropos. This was her ninth season of service under Psomas Shipping. All of them have been spent on the Oropos-Eretria line, with the exception of the summers of 2015 and 2016, when she was on the Perama-Salamina line.
Crossing the ARIS III as she heads towards Eretria. Her company has had a long history on the Oropos-Eretria line. Indeed, they began service in 1967, after having deployed the newly-built landing craft ARIS on the line. They operated her until 2002, when she was sold to GM Shipping. She still sails for that company to date on the Ionian Sea, under the name GRIGORIS M, operating as a Ro-Ro carrier on the Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Paxoi-Ereikousa-Othonoi-Mathraki line. After five years of inactivity, the company ordered a new double-ended ferry, the ARIS II, which began service in 2007 on the Oropos-Eretria line. Three years later, the ARIS III was built, and replaced her elder fleetmate, which was sold to Croatian company Rapska Plovidba. She operates under the name BARBAT on the Stinica-Mišnjak line.
The ARIS III on her way towards Eretria.
The ARIS III in what will eventually turn out to be my last-ever picture of her. Indeed, she has now arrived in Perama (after a four-month-long stint on the Rion-Antirrion line), as it was announced a few days ago that she has been sold to Italian company Delcomar. She is due to be replaced by a newly-built double-ended ferry named ARIS IV, which has been ordered by her company and will normally be ready in 2020. The new name and the line where the ARIS III will be deployed have not been announced yet.
Five minutes after passing by the ARIS III, we had reached Oropos, thus marking the end of our short but enjoyable trip from Evoia to mainland Greece.
The beautiful PROTOPOROS XIII having just arrived in Oropos.
The PROTOPOROS XIII seen loading passengers and vehicles in Oropos prior to her next departure to Eretria.
The PROTOPOROS XIII now seen leaving Oropos in order to return to Eretria.
And this officially marked the end of my trip and my short stay in the island of Evoia. As it was also the case with the ANNA MARIA, the trip with the PROTOPOROS XIII was short due to the small distance separating the two ports, but it was still pleasant and a nice experience. The PROTOPOROS XIII truly is a great ferry, with a huge amount of space for passengers (especially outdoors) and is the most modern ship operating on the Oropos-Eretria line. She therefore illustrates her company's vision and her own name perfectly: she is a pioneer in her respective market. Her first two summers have been very successful and she seems likely to continue providing excellent service for many years to come, no matter the line on which she will operate. My first trip with a ship owned by Tsokos Lines shows that the company does excellent investments in building new double-ended ferries, something which likely will not stop for the time being, as they still expect the deliveries of the PROTOPOROS XI and the PROTOPOROS XV, while having also planned to begin building another ship in the future, the PROTOPOROS XVI.