Translation by Davide Tognolini


NorTHERN Adriatic SEA


After a static year 2000, Minoan Lines gives battle again in the port of Venice, introducing a third generation fast ro-pax ferry (with a speed of more than 30 knots), “Prometheus” - built by Sud Korean Samsung shipyard. In April, Minoan opens the Venice - Corfu - Igoumenitsa - Patras route, departing from Venice on Thursdays and Sundays at 4 pm and docking at Patras the next day at 7 pm, and sailing back from Patras on Tuesdays and Fridays following the classical timetable Greece-Venice. The other vessels operating this route are “Aretousa” (leaving from Venice on Tuesdays at 7 pm and on Saturdays at 1 pm), “Erotokritos” (Mondays at 7 pm and Fridays at 12 am) and “Daedalus” (on Wednesdays at 4 pm and Saturdays at 12 pm). The departures from Patras are on Mondays at 9 pm and Fridays at 10.30 am with “Daedalus”, on Wednesdays at 10 pm and Saturdays at 12 pm with “Erotokritos”, on Thursdays and Sundays at 12 pm with “Aretousa”. This timetable will be frequently changed before becoming effective: in 2000, Minoans's leaflet presented direct 16-hour journeys to Igoumenitsa and 21-hour journeys to Patras, and included “Oceanus” (“Prometheus”'s sister), which should have operated the Piraeus - Chania route, previously closed in 1996. Yet, at the last moment, Minoan gives up this idea and introduces “Oceanus” on the Venice to Patras route: two direct 21-hour journeys to Patras and a journey to Patras via Igoumenitsa. “Oceanus” and “Prometheus” really might revolutionize Venice's ferry market, with their luxurious interiors, however, they still were more “ro” than “pax” vessels. At the end of October, “Ikarus” and “Pasiphae” are back in Venice and the two Samsung sisters sail to Ancona and the others are laid up. In Trieste, Anek Lines introduces another ferry beside “Sophocles V.” and “Lefka Ori”: “Kriti II”. This ro-pax ferry offers the chance of camping on board and (from May) daily departures from Trieste at 2 pm, except for Friday departures - to Igoumenitsa - and Sunday departures at 4 pm; on Wednesdays and Saturdays, she also calls at Corfu. From Greece, there are daily departures at 11.50 pm except for Friday, and Sunday departures from Igoumenitsa are at 3.30 pm. In July 2001, however, there's a change: “El. Venizelos”, after having been chartered to Genoa's G8, doesn't sail back to Piraeus to operate the route to Chania but takes “Kriti II”'s place in Trieste. Blue Star Ferries gives way to the other operators, now employing only two ferries between Venice and Patras: “Blue Horizon” (departing from Venice on Tuesdays at 7 pm and on Saturdays at 12 am, and from Patras on Thursdays and Sundays at 11.55 pm) and “Blue Sky” (leaving from Venice on Wednesdays at 7 pm and on Sundays at 12 am, and from Patras on Mondays and Fridays at 11.55 pm). Corfu is no longer a port of call. Outside this war between operators, there is another company in this area, that is Hellas Ferries with its ro-ro ferries between Porto Marghera and Corinth: “Sea Trailer”, “Startrailer”, “Navetrailer” and “Cielotrailer”. 










In Ancona, as usual, there are some interesting changes. Superfast Ferries finally introduces its new sister vessels “Superfast V” and “Superfast VI”, which should have been delivered in 2000. Now, with the other ferries, “Superfast III” and “Superfast IV”, the company can finally open a reliable service from Ancona tu Igoumenitsa. Yet, these new Finnish-built ferries are not as fast as some recent Cretean ships, but are more similar to Minoan ships built by Fosen or HDW latest vessels, since their speed is absolutely lower than 30 knots. The timetable is the same as it was announced in 2000: departures from Ancona at 5 pm and docking at Patras at 1 pm the day after, and departures to Patras via Iogumenitsa at 7 pm; direct departures from Patras 9 pm, or at 5 pm when calling at Igoumenitsa. It's surprising that Blue Star Ferries gives up its extremely successful route Ancona - Brindisi - Patras and decides to employ “Blue Star 1” and “Blue Star 2” on a direct 20-hour route from Ancona to Patras (via Igoumenitsa from April to October), leaving from Ancona at 1 pm, from Patras at 2 pm and from Igoumenitsa at 7.30 pm. Anek Lines, four years after, plays again a main role in Ancona, with Mediterranean's fastest conventional ferries: “Olympic Champion” and “Hellenic Spirit”. From May, these vessels operate the Ancona - Igoumenitsa - Patras route (a 20-hour journey) calling at Corfu once a week. They are the first ship equipped with new generation engines Wartsila 46C (12V) and can keep a cruise speed of 30 knots, moreover, thanks to their light aluminium superstructures they can speed up to 34 knots. They are the latest  project by Fosen (the same shipyard which built three ferries for Minoan and one for Tunisia Ferries) and are marked by two anecdotes: the first vessel is named after olympic champion Kostas Kenteris, while the other vessel should have been named “Olympic Spirit” (there are still different signs on the ship) but the International Olympic Committee forbids ANEK to use that name - though it doesn't say anything about “Olympic Champion”. And perhaps, despite IOC's “olympic spirit”, “Hellenic Spirit” is probably better done than her sister. Another route operated by ANEK is the Ravenna to Catania line, serviced by “Kriti I” twice a week; it's the only Italian internal route operated by a foreigner operator. The other strategic company in Ancona is  Minoan Lines, with “Ikarus” and “Pasiphae”, which still operate with the same timetable as 2000. In October, the route begins to be operated by “Prometheus” and “Oceanus”, which allow regular departures every day at the same hour. So, in 2001 there are five daily departures from Ancona to Greece: two operated by Superfast, and one by Minoan, ANEK and Blue Star, with an overall potential capability of 7908 passengers, 3582 beds, 9918 linear metres (or 4950 cars). Let's think about it for a moment: there will never be such a potential in Ancona in the years to come (and probably there's a reason), yet there are few beds compared with the passenger capability (45,2%) and this is all due to a wrong legislation.


ANEK LINES H/S/F Hellenic Spirit








This year, the trafic in the port of Bari should be renewed by the return - after two years - of Ventouris Ferries, with “Polaris”. Yet, the project isn't fulfilled because of mechanical problems, so we can find “Athens Express” and “Venus” operating the classical route to Corfu and Igoumenitsa. Superfast Ferries, with “Superfast I” and “Superfast II”, benefits from situation. Beside Ventouris and Superfast is Marlines, with its last operative ship (recently renamed with her former name) “Duchess M”.






BRINDISI – Otranto


This year, the biggest surprise is Blue Star Ferries' decision to replace its two successful Holland ferries with “Blue Island” and “Blue Galaxy”, once flagships of the fleet. The company plans a direct journey between Brindisi and Patras (departure from Italy at 5 pm and arrival at 7 am, and departure from Greece at 8 pm and arrival at 8 am). “Blue Island” is the first to be put into service, with three departures a week. Yet, not long after that, Blue Star Ferries accepts an offer and charters these ferries, closing the route before summer; a bizarre choice that will be very recurring in the future among the Attica group. However, Blue Star still operates the Brindisi – Corfu – Igoumenitsa route with “Blue Bridge”. Ventouris Ferries tries a new market way chartering two Incats to service the Brindisi – Corfu – Igoumenitsa – Paxi route. “Thundercat I” and “Thundercat II”, as “Captain George” in the past, are a veritable flop. Minoan Flying Dolphin is replaced by Minoan Lines, back in Brindisi as a ferry operator (we saw the company in Brindisi for the last time in 1997). In 2001, “King Minos” (at the time operating from the Greek mainland to Crete) replaces “Express Aris”, following the latter's timetable. The decision has probably been taken in order not to lay the ferry up. On her route is also former Minoan “Ouranos” (now Fragline) and “Penelope A” (Agoudimos Lines). On the route to Patras are: Med Link Lines with “Maria G”, “Afrodite II” and “Agios Andreas”, HML with “Media II” and - very curiously - “Egitto Express”, chartered from Adriatica. The latter, after 70 years, closes all its routes to Greece.





Photos in this page are courtesy of Daniele Miglio, Pieter Inpijn, Fleet File Rotterdam, Kurth Warth, Emilio Barenghi, Michele Lulurgas, Stefanos Antoniadis; other images are official photographs and postcards.


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