Saronic Gulf One-Day Trip on 13 September 2020
Towards the end of my summer stay in Greece for the 2020 season, I headed to Aegina for one last time in order to leave some summer items in my house, and to do a final clean-up ahead of the winter season. In the past, I had done trips from Piraeus to Aegina and back with my mother and her own mother, as it was the case on 3 July 2015, on 19July 2016, on 21 July 2017, and on 1 August 2018. In all these trips, it was towards the start of the summer, as we would go there in order to store in our Aegina house whatever we do not need for the vacation (such as oversized bags, warm clothes) and in order to take whatever is necessary for the beaches (volleyballs, rackets, towels, which stay in our Aegina house all year long). This time, however, I was alone, as most of my family had left Greece. Despite it being towards the end of the summer, I still had the opportunity to see and photograph many ships in both Piraeus and Aegina, and I was able to enjoy the island for the final time in 2020. I traveled onboard the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS of ANES Ferries from Piraeus to Aegina, and headed back from Aegina to Piraeus with the ACHAEOS of 2way Ferries.
This post is dedicated to the two trips I made that day: from Piraeus to Aegina and back. This post is not a tribute post to either ship, as I had already done one for each of them: in May 2018 for the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS, and in November 2016 for the ACHEOS. I did take photos of both ships' passenger areas, but they are the same as the ones from the previous years, so I will not update them in this post.
The pictures below will describe you the experience of the two trips I made to and from the second nearest island from Piraeus, Aegina, thanks to the two veteran Saronic Gulf ferries which provided a memorable day for me.
I arrived in Piraeus towards noon. There, I saw the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS having just arrived in Piraeus from Aegina, and about to being her maneuvering procedure.
The AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS seen arriving in Piraeus. This was her twentieth season on the Saronic Gulf, with all of them spent on the Piraeus-Aegina line.
The AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS about to start her maneuvering procedure. She has been owned by ANES Ferries since 2007. Despite the latter traditionally operating on the Dodecanese, they kept the ferry on the Saronic Gulf, where she has remained a consistent presence despite strong competition from Nova Ferries, Hellenic Seaways and later 2way Ferries.
The AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS seen maneuvering in Piraeus. She was built in 1999 in Greece, and spent the first two seasons of her career on the Sporades, as the PANAGIA SKIATHOU for the Northern Sporades and Evoia Shipping Company, on the Volos-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos-Pyli line.
The AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS seen maneuvering in Piraeus. When she moved to the Saronic Gulf, she remained under the ownership of the Northern Sporades and Evoia Shipping Company, until she was sold to ANES Ferries in 2007.
A view of the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS as she is seen maneuvering in Piraeus.
The AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS having completed her maneuvering procedure, and now preparing to dock in Piraeus.
The AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS about to dock in the port of Piraeus.
As soon as I embarked onboard the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS, I spotted two high speed craft operating on the Saronic Gulf. These were the hydrofoil FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA of Aegean Flying Dolphins and the high speed catamaran FLYINGCAT 6 of Hellenic Seaways.
A view of the FLYING DOLPHIN XIX, which operates on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri-Poros-Hydra-Ermioni-Spetses-Porto Cheli line. This was her first summer of operations since 2012, after she was repaired following an eight-year-long lay-up after she had run aground in the small islet of Metopi (between Aegina and Agistri). While initially being declared a constructive total loss, she was reactivated and renovated, and thus returned to service in 2020.
A view of the FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX, which is the youngest active hydrofoil in the Greek coastal service. She has spent her entire career on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri-Poros-Hydra-Ermioni-Spetses-Porto Cheli line on the Saronic Gulf, ever since she began operations in 1993.
A view of the FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA and of the FLYINGCAT 6.
A view of three different hydrofoils serving the Saronic Gulf: the FLYING DOLPHIN XIX, the FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX and the FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA.
The FLYING DOLPHIN XIX docked in the port of Piraeus. She was the first ship of Hellenic Seaways to acquire the new livery that was introduced on all of the company's high speed craft. Indeed, following the end of the partnership between Hellenic Seaways and Cosmote, the company did not seek a new advertising deal and instead chose to feature its colours onboard all the high speed craft.
The FLYINGCAT 6 docked in Piraeus. She has been operating on the Saronic Gulf since 2018. She had also operated there in 2013, in 2015 and in 2016. Before this season, she operated on the Piraeus-Poros-Hydra-Ermioni-Spetses-Porto Cheli line, while in 2020 she started serving the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri-Poros-Hydra-Ermioni-Spetses-Porto Cheli line.
The FLYING DOLPHIN XIX and the FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX docked in Piraeus, while the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS leaves the port in order to head towards Aegina.
On the starboard side of the ship, I spotted another high speed craft of Hellenic Seaways: the HIGHSPEED 4.
While we were heading away from the E8 gate, I also spotted the SUPEREXPRESS of Golden Star Ferries.
I then proceeded to seeing the KRITI II of ANEK Lines, which operates on the Piraeus-Heraklion line.
The HIGHSPEED 4 spotted in Piraeus. She was also seen featuring the new livery that was introduced on all the high speed craft of Hellenic Seaways in 2020.
Behind the KRITI II was the BLUE GALAXY of Blue Star Ferries. Since joining the latter in 2015, she has been operating on Piraeus-Chania line.
The KRITI II and the BLUE GALAXY seen together in Piraeus. Both ships used to be fleetmates, back when the BLUE GALAXY operated for ANEK Lines as the LEFKA ORI on the Adriatic Sea, from 2000 to 2012. The KRITI II has also served the Adriatic Sea in the past, as she was on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Ancona line from 1997 to 2000, on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Trieste line in 2001 (operating along the LEFKA ORI back then), and on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Venice line in 2012 and in 2013.
The KRITI II and the BLUE GALAXY seen in Piraeus. The KRITI II was deployed on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Venice line in 2012, in order to actually replace the LEFKA ORI (which was operating on the line from 2005 to 2011, after having previously been on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Trieste line from 2000 to 2004). Indeed, the latter was chartered to the South Korean company Jeju Cruise Line as a result of the impact of the Greek financial crisis on ANEK Lines. However, her spell there proved to be a failure, as she never sailed for the company, which turned out to be financially vulnerable. As such, the ship returned to Greece in late 2013, and began a small conversion in Perama which lasted until 2015, when she joined Blue Star Ferries.
The BLUE GALAXY seen in Piraeus, in what was her sixth consecutive summer under Blue Star Ferries.
I then saw the FLYINGCAT 4 of Hellenic Seaways, which had just ended her summer season on the Saronic Gulf and was now beginning her winter lay-up. For the second straight season, she operated on the Piraeus-Poros-Hydra-Ermioni-Spetses-Porto Cheli line.
As the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS was leaving Piraeus, I was able to capture the three Hellenic Seaways high speed craft serving the Saronic Gulf which I had just shown you: the FLYING DOLPHIN XIX, the FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX and the FLYINGCAT 6.
I then saw the FLYINGCAT 4 alongside the HIGHSPEED 4.
The KRITI II and the BLUE GALAXY seen together in Piraeus. Despite no longer being fleetmates, both ships co-operate under the ANEK-Attica Group joint venture, which has been active since 2011 and covers both operators' services in Crete and on the Adriatic Sea.
We then began to pass by the cruiseferry KNOSSOS PALACE of Minoan Lines.
The KNOSSOS PALACE seen in Piraeus. Built in 2000, she began operations on the Piraeus-Heraklion line for 20 years, until she was transferred to Italian giants Grimaldi Lines in late 2020 (just over two months after this picture was taken), as part of the fleet reshuffle that was undertaken by Minoan Lines.
The SUPEREXPRESS was seen alongside the CHAMPION JET 1 of Sea Jets.
Next to them was the high speed trimaran SUPERSPEED of Golden Star Ferries. She has been owned by the latter since late 2017. She began service in 2018, on the Thessaloniki-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos line on the Sporades, before moving to the Cyclades in 2019. There, she operated on the Rafina-Syros-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos-Koufonisi-Amorgos line, before her season was cut short following a major engine failure that she suffered in Naxos.
The CHAMPION JET 1 seen in the port of Piraeus. She has been owned by Sea Jets since 2015. This was her first year back in Greece following her charter to Spanish company Naviera Armas during the 2019 season.
The SUPEREXPRESS seen during her second season under Golden Star Ferries.
The KNOSSOS PALACE seen in Piraeus, in what was her last season under Minoan Lines. Upon joining Grimaldi Lines, she was renamed CRUISE BONARIA, thus taking the name previously held by her younger sister ship and fleetmate, the ex-OLYMPIA PALACE of Minoan Lines. The latter operated for Minoan Lines from 2001 to 2012 on the Adriatic Sea, before she was chartered to Italian company Tirrenia Di Navigazione for six years as the BONARIA. Once the charter ended in 2018, she was transferred to Grimaldi Lines and was renamed CRUISE BONARIA. Since late 2020, she rejoined Minoan Lines, and has taken her predecessor's former name and service. Indeed, she is the new KNOSSOS PALACE that sails on the Piraeus-Heraklion line.
The SUPEREXPRESS, the CHAMPION JET 1 and the SUPERSPEED seen together in Piraeus.
We then passed by the NISSOS RODOS of Hellenic Seaways, which serves the Piraeus-Chios-Mytilene line on the Northeast Aegean Sea since 2018.
In front of the NISSOS RODOS was the KYDON PALACE of Minoan Lines. Formerly known as the FESTOS PALACE, she was spending the first season of her career under her new name, and on the Piraeus-Chania line.
Facing her was yet another high speed craft of Golden Star Ferries: the SUPERRUNNER.
Towards the exit of the port of Piraeus, I noticed the EKATERINI P of Fast Ferries.
Next to the EKATERINI P was the BLUE STAR 1, which is the flagship of Blue Star Ferries.
Another view of the KYDON PALACE in Piraeus. Built in 2001, she spent her entire career as the FESTOS PALACE on the Piraeus-Heraklion line, while also making calls in Milos in 2018 and in 2019. Following the aforementioned fleet reshuffle of Minoan Lines, she switched her itinerary with that of the MYKONOS PALACE (ex-EUROPA PALACE from 2002 to 2012), with the latter becoming the new FESTOS PALACE.
The BLUE STAR 1 and the EKATERINI P seen together in Piraeus.
The BLUE STAR 1 spotted in Piraeus. For the 2020 season, which was 20 years following her introduction to service, she operated on the Piraeus-Syros-Paros-Naxos-Santorini-Samos-Kos-Rhodes line.
The BLUE STAR 1 seen alongside the EKATERINI P in Piraeus.
A view of the SUPERRUNNER, the KYDON PALACE, and the NISSOS RODOS. Between the latter two ships is the floating museum HELLAS LIBERTY.
A few minutes after having exited the port of Piraeus, I saw the POSIDON HELLAS of 2way Ferries heading in the opposite direction.
A few moments later, I saw another ship of 2way Ferries, the APOLLON HELLAS. She was also heading towards Piraeus, after having left Aegina.
After more than an hour, the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS began to approach the port of Aegina. There, I spotted the PHIVOS of Nova Ferries and the ACHAEOS of 2way Ferries, with the latter having left the port.
The ACHAEOS seen having left the port of Aegina. This was her seventh consecutive season on the Saronic Gulf, and eighth overall. Indeed, she operated on the Piraeus-Aegina line in 2006, right after her construction was finished. She then moved to the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line on the Ionian Sea, where she remained until making her comeback to the Saronic Gulf in 2014.
Crossing the ACHAEOS near Aegina, as she is seen sailing towards Piraeus.
The ACHAEOS seen leaving Aegina in order to return to Piraeus. She was the first ship on which I traveled during the 2020 season, as I headed from Piraeus to Aegina on 7 August of that year.
The ACHAEOS seen heading back to Piraeus, after having left Aegina. Since her return to the Saronic Gulf in 2014, she has been operating on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri line.
The double-ended ferry ACHAEOS seen leaving Aegina for Piraeus.
Another view of the ACHAEOS, which is now en route towards the port of Piraeus.
After seeing the ACHAEOS leaving the port of Aegina, I could now take more pictures of the PHIVOS, which was seen resting.
The PHIVOS seen docked in the port of Aegina. She has been operating on the Saronic Gulf since 2005. She was bought alongside her sister ship, the ATHINA (which operated from 2005 to 2006 on the Saronic Gulf), in 2004 by the then-newly-established company Nova Ferries. After being converted for a year, she began service on the Piraeus-Aegina-Methana-Poros-Hydra line. From 2007 to 2013 she solely operated on the Piraeus-Aegina line, thus performing the exact same service as the one the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS has been on since 2001. Following the establishment of the Saronic Ferries joint venture in 2014, the PHIVOS has since been operating on the Piraeus-Aegina-Methana-Poros line.
The PHIVOS seen docked in the port of Aegina. Built in 1980, she is the oldest ferry serving the Saronic Gulf from Piraeus. Despite her age, she is considered to be the fastest and most comfortable ship to serve the area.
The PHIVOS seen resting in the port of Aegina. A more detailed post regarding the ship, her history and her amenities was written in June 2016, during the trip that I had with her on 7 August 2015 from Aegina to Piraeus.
As the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS was docking, I also saw the FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX leaving the port of Aegina.
The FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX seen departing the port of Aegina.
The FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX seen leaving the port of Aegina.
The PHIVOS ahead of the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS.
The PHIVOS seen docked in Aegina, as the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS prepares to moor right next to her.
The FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX preparing to activate her engines at full-speed in order to leave Aegina.
Another view of the PHIVOS in Aegina. She is the only ship of Nova Ferries to have served the company in all the years of its existence. She has had two fleetmates at different moments, but none of them have operated for Nova Ferries for more than two years. The first one was her sister ship, the ATHINA, which was sold in 2006 to Portuguese company Transmaçor after just one year in Greece. The second one was the Greek-built PHEDRA (ex-THASSOS VIII of ANETH Ferries), which operated on the Piraeus-Northern Aegina-Agistri line from 2009 to late 2010. She was then sold to Egyptian-Jordanian company Arab Bridge Maritime, which offered to purchase her at a very high fee at the time. She still operates for them today as the AYLAH, on the Gulf of Aqaba.
The beloved PHIVOS seen in the port of Aegina.
Another view of the FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX as she is seen leaving the port of Aegina.
The PHIVOS seen while the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS undergoes her maneuvering procedure.
While the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS was docking in Aegina, I also spotted the small wooden passenger boat NERAÏDA of Sea Bond leaving the port. She operates from Aegina to the small island of Moni, which, despite being uninhabited, has some nice beaches that are worthy of visiting.
The NERAÏDA seen leaving Aegina in order to head towards Moni. She has been connecting the two islands since 2016.
A view of the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS right after I had disembarked. Behind her is the PHIVOS.
The AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS seen alongside the PHIVOS in Aegina.
The AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS and the PHIVOS seen together in Aegina. This marked the end of the first trip that I did that day.
Just before 17:00, I had returned to the port of Aegina in order to head back to Piraeus. I had finished my work in our house, and was now ready for the second part of my one-day trip. Here was the ACHAEOS waiting for me to embark onboard her.
The ACHAEOS docked in Aegina, right before her departure for Piraeus.
As the ACHAEOS began to leave Aegina, the FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA was arriving from Piraeus.
The FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA seen arriving in Aegina. Built in 1991 and owned by Aegean Flying Dolphins since 2010, she has been serving the Piraeaus-Aegina-Agistri line since 2011. She thus serves the exact same line as the ACHAEOS.
The FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA seen arriving in Aegina. In her debut season under Aegean Flying Dolphins, she was on the Piraeus-Hydra-Spetses-Porto Cheli line. In 2011, after most of her older fleetmates had to be retired due to reaching the limit of 30 years of service (which was abolished in 2014), she moved to her current service
The FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA seen arriving in Aegina.
The FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA preparing to dock in Aegina.
Just a few minutes after the ACHAEOS started to sail towards Piraeus, she was caught-up by the FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA, which had also left the port of Aegina.
Halfway through the trip, I spotted the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS heading towards her namesake island.
The AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS seen heading towards Aegina. Just a few hours earlier, I had been onboard her in order to make the exact same trip.
Crossing the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS on her way to Aegina. She is the second youngest ferry to operate on the Saronic Gulf out of Piraeus. The youngest one is the ACHAEOS, which was built seven years after the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS.
The AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS seen sailing towards Aegina, during her twentieth season on the Saronic Gulf.
The beautiful and reliable AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS seen heading towards Aegina, after having left from Piraeus.
One last view of the AGIOS NEKTARIOS AEGINAS.
Just a few moments later, the PHIVOS was also seen heading towards Aegina.
The PHIVOS seen heading towards Aegina.
The impressive PHIVOS seen heading towards Aegina. She began service on the Saronic Gulf just a year before the ACHAEOS was built.
A view of the PHIVOS as she is sailing towards Aegina.
The PHIVOS, also known affectionately as 'The Red Jet of the Saronic Gulf', seen heading to Aegina.
Crossing the PHIVOS on the Saronic Gulf, as she heads towards the port of Aegina.
The PHIVOS on her way towards Aegina.
A beautiful view of the PHIVOS, with Aegina in the background.
A final view of the PHIVOS, as she is seen sailing towards Aegina.
The next ship that I went on to see was the POSIDON HELLAS, which was also heading towards Aegina.
The POSIDON HELLAS about to cross her fleetmate, the ACHAEOS. She is deployed on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri-Methana-Poros line, thus serving all the ports covered by the Saronic Ferries joint venture.
The POSIDON HELLAS on her way towards Aegina. Built in 1998, she has spent her career on the Saronic Gulf. She spent her first two seasons under the ownership of Poseidon Consortium Shipping, in which the Papaïoannidis family (the current owners of 2way Ferries) was invested. In 1999 she joined Minoan Flying Dolphins (which was renamed Hellas Flying Dolphins in 2002), and operated under the Saronikos Ferries division. Her company was rebranded as Hellenic Seaways in 2005. After serving under the latter for a decade, she was bought by 2way Ferries in 2015, and was therefore back under the ownership of the Papaïoannidis family.
The POSIDON HELLAS seen sailing towards Aegina, during what was her sixth season under 2way Ferries.
Crossing the POSIDON HELLAS on the Saronic Gulf. Her acquisition by 2way Ferries was largely credited to the successful reintroduction of the ACHAEOS on the Saronic Gulf in 2014. By the 2017 season, the company had now three ferries serving the area under its ownership.
The POSIDON HELLAS on her way towards the port of Aegina.
One final view of the POSIDON HELLAS, which was making her way towards Aegina.
As the ACHAEOS began to approach the port of Piraeus, the FLYING DOLPHIN XIX had just exited the port.
The FLYING DOLPHIN XIX having exited the port of Piraeus, and beginning to sail at full-speed on the Saronic Gulf.
The FLYING DOLPHIN XIX seen sailing towards Aegina.
Upon entering the port of Piraeus, I again spotted the BLUE STAR 1.
The BLUE STAR 1 seen right next to the entrance of the port of Piraeus.
I then saw the SUPERRUNNER and the KYDON PALACE in Piraeus.
The KYDON PALACE seen in Piraeus, during her first season on the Piraeus-Chania line.
The BLUE STAR 1 seen in Piraeus. Unfortunately, this year, she will not be operating in Greece, as she has been chartered to Irish Ferries for service on the Pembroke Dock-Rosslare line on the Irish Sea. This will mean that she will be heading to Northern Europe for the first time since 2008, as she had also spent a year on the Zeebrugge-Rosyth line, back when this service was operated by Attica Group. Irish Ferries has been keen on expanding its services beyond the Irish Sea, and therefore sought the BLUE STAR 1, which is due to operate there for at least a year. While this certainly arranges her owner and her charterer, shipping enthusiasts like myself will definitely miss her on the Aegean Sea this year.
The BLUE STAR 1 was seen alongside the EKATERINI P.
The EKATERINI P seen in Piraeus. She was still undergoing repair work following the engine failure that she suffered in 2019. She is due to return to service in 2021.
The SUPERRUNNER seen docked in Piraeus. She is the former SPEEDRUNNER IV of Aegean Speed Lines, for whom she operated from 2009 to 2016.
Another view of the KYDON PALACE in Piraeus.
We then passed by the NISSOS RODOS, which was still resting ahead of her departure for Chios and Mytilene.
I then saw the KNOSSOS PALACE once again.