North Adriatic


Also the 1988 was an interlocutory year between Northern Adriatic ports and Greece. On summer the “Orient Express” comes back from her charter as cruise-ship to Canary islands and the “Espresso Egitto” continues her service to Crete and Egypt. Then, the HCML ro/ro services.






In 1988 the “battle” in Ancona goes on, with Minoan Lines and Strintzis Lines starring. After the purchases in Northern Europe of “Festos” and “Fedra” the Cretans were back to Japan to buy the new flagship of the fleet, finding for this role the “Erimo Maru”, a 155 metres ferry not particularly swift, even if that time this wasn’t a big problem, anyway very capable, for 1.500 passengers (later the ferry got a certificate for 1.800) with 1.008 berths in 250 cabins. Ancona never saw before a so-extensive accommodation. With the introduction of that ferry on August 1988, named “King Minos” after the famous king of Minoic kingdom, Minoan Lines with “Fedra” and “El Greco” created a five sailings per week timetable, as Strintzis did from 1987, but this timetable had all the departures at the same hour. Anyway, the first shot of this battle was placed two months earlier by Strintzis with the “Ionian Galaxy”, the ferry which stated the beginning of “cruise-ferry” era in Greek waters. Bought from Taiheiyo Ferry the former year, was extensively rebuilt at Perama with a very expensive work, losing her big upper trailer deck for a small car garage at stern, big passenger spaces with interesting facilities like swimming-pool, disco, baby land, a piano-bar at bow, a-la carte restaurant, self service, casino. Strintzis started to be very appreciated by the travellers, as long as the philosophy of the refit work on “Ionian Galaxy” was “to enjoy the ferry trip as part of the vacation”, so wieving the “Ionian Sun” as the second ferry of the route was a little funny; moreover the situation was even more funny with the “Ionian Star”, the third ferry engaged on both the Strintzis main service and the three round-trips to Split replacing the “Ionian Glory”. Between these two operators, which can now be seen as the best ones, we can find again Karageorgis, with no sign of life, and Marlines, which placed again “Princess M”, “Countess M” and “Queen M” on 1987 services.






After the deployment of “Bari Express” to a new service between the ports of Rafina, Andros, Tinos and Mykonos, Ventouris Ferries probably intended to carry a four-ship service on their international route, sailing across the Ionian sea with “Patra Express”, “Athens Express”, “Italia Express” and the “Grecia Express”, sistership of “Italia Express”, bought in late 1987 autumn. Anyway on march 1988, when under refit and maintainance work at Perama, a mysterious explosion sank the “Italia Express”, thich was declared “Total Constructive Loss” and sold for scrap. The three remaining ferries were redeployed then in the same timetable of 1987, replacing the “Bari Express” with “Grecia Express”.




BRINDISI - Otranto


Also in 1988, nothing new for Adriatica, which was again sailing with the same “team” formed by “Appia” and “Espresso Grecia”. Despite of that, HML was very active in ferry market: the splendid “Castalia” left Greece to the sad rebuilding work to a casino-ship, but on the same time they introduced two ferries, “Corinthia” and “Poseidonia”. The first one was a 32 year old turbine-ship, born as passenger ferry and subsequently rebuilt with a car deck in 1970. Bought by Greek operators in 1975, was sailing on long routes departing both from Ancona and Brindisi before being introduced in HML fleet, sailing on the main service with the “Egnatia”. The “Poseidonia” had, as “Corinthia”, common Irish Sea roots, but was ten years younger and already born as a ro/ro passenger ferry, with a long service on Irish routes and a short spell on Eastern Mediterranean lines and Red Sea services before starting sailing on Brindisi – Corfu – Igoumenitsa line with “Lydia”. Fragline didn’t introduced any new fact, but a new operator started a long service with a lot of intermediate calls between its origin and the final destination, Brindisi – Corfu – IgoumenitsaPaxi – Ithaca – CephaloniaPatras. We’re speaking about Seven Islands Lines, a company which started her services after the bankruptcy of the Ionian Islands local operator, sailing with their main ferry, the “Ionis”, and the “Ionian Glory”, chartered from Strintzis Lines. The line intended to attract mainly the travellers to Ionian islands, due to a late arrival at Patras, at 18:30, also because of a 45-minutes morning stop at Corfu, very strange considering that the call in the other ports was 15 minutes.


Photos in this page are courtesy of Matteo Fasce, Pieter Inpijn, Fleet File Rotterdam, Kurth Warth, Gunnar Menzer, Michele Lulurgas, Egidio Ferrighi,  plus some official shots.


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