by Davide Tognolini
NorTHERN Adriatic SEA
2001 was an
abnormal year for the ferry market between Northern Italy and Greece. In 2002, there won't be as much ferries as in the previous year though there will
be various changes. Anek Lines El. Venizelos is back in Trieste, following her
classical timetable: departure on Saturdays at 6 pm and arrival at Patras on Mondays in the morning; there are some changes,
probably due to the age of the ship, such as Wednesdays' departures at 1 pm
from Trieste and Thurdays' departures from Patras in the night. The other ferries operating the
Trieste to Patras route are sisters Sophocles V.
and Lefka Ori,
leaving five times a week (once via Corfu-Igoumenitsa).
No changes for Blue
Star Ferries, with previous year's ferries Blue Horizon and Blue Sky.
The situation is different for Minoan Lines which modifies its timetables:
between Venice and Patras
there are only three vessels, Prometheus (in Ancona in 2001) and
the sisterships built by Fosen.
These ones have recently been renamed - following the company's new policy
(change of names and liveries) - as Ikarus Palace and Pasiphae Palace. There are six
departures a week and, strange to say, the two sisterships
leave from Venice
at 4 pm while speeder Prometheus leaves at 1 pm, keeping a very slow average
speed. At the end of 2002, Prometheus will be replaced by her sister Ariadne Palace,
built by Samsung in Korea; she is slightly different since she has more cabins
(in the stern area) and, so, a higher passenger capability. Another well-known
protagonist in this area is Hellas Ferries, with its four ro-ro ferries Navetrailer, Cielotrailer,
Startrailer and Sea Trailer; the latter, however,
experiences some serious mechanical problems and needs to stop for repairing.
Another competitor, recently come on stage, is Maritime Way with Erotokritos
(chartered), that in June opens the new route Monfalcone
- Igoumenitsa - Patras.
Departures are on Wednesdays at 12 am and Saturdays at 6 pm, the latter calling
also at Bari.
At the beginning it is a ro-ro service but then it
becomes a ro-pax service.
If 2001 is marked
by a market explosion, 2002 is marked by a market
shrinkage. Yet, there are different interesting changes: Premium Alliance, that is Superfast Ferries together with Blue Star Ferries (no longer showing the inscription Strintzis
Lines on the livery - covered by an unaesthetic
strip of blue paint), presents some novelties. Superfast is waiting for its new ferries Superfast XI
and Superfast XII, and it is not yet very
clean where they will operate. Blue Star and Superfast
share the same timetable for the journey to Patras
via Igoumenitsa: in January, the route is serviced by
Superfast V and Superfast VI
leaving in the evening, and by Blue Star 1 and Blue Star 2
leaving in the afternoon and calling at Igoumenitsa.
The two Superfast ferries are to be put into service
between Rosyth and Zeebrugge,
but surprisingly, three months later, Superfast
closes the route from Germany to Sweden and places Superfast
IX and Superfast
X on the Rosyth-Zeebrugge line, while Superfast III and
Superfast IV are sold to Tasmanian TT Line and in
May they are no longer part of Superfast's fleet. Superfast V and Superfast VI
still operate the Ancona to Patras
line, while Superfast XI (arrived in July) and Superfast XII
(arrived in September) take the places of Blue
Star 1 and
Blue Star 2.
Minoan Lines, after having introduced Prometheus ed Oceanus in 2001, now introduces its
new flagships built by Fincantieri: Olympia Palace and Europa Palace. Then, from January
and from May respectively, they represent the answers to the competitors' fleets
and, thanks to their impressive tonnage (38.200 tons),
they become the biggest ferries employed in the routes to and from Ancona.
Anek Lines keeps on operating the Ancona - Corfu
- Igoumenitsa - Patras
route with Olympic
Champion and Hellenic Spirit: the leaflet advertises a 18-hour journey, though the crossing actually takes a bit
more than 19 hours.
Superfast Ferries still operates its
routes with Superfast I and Superfast II,
though the other two sisterships operate a number of
journeys in 2002. Ventouris Ferries replies to Superfast
But there is a new operator on the scene: Maritime Way; its ferry Erotokritos
operates the route Monfalcone-Igoumenitsa-Patras and,
once a week, calls at Bari. On the other hand, Marlines
closes its routes to Greece
and begins servicing between Italy
and Balkans ports.
The ferry market in
the port of Brindisi undergoes constant changes: this
year the new operator Maritime Way, an Italian-Greek company,
purchases two famous Minoan ferries: El Greco and King Minos.
None of them is renamed; the first one operates the Brindisi - Igoumenitsa
- Kefalonia - Patras route,
the latter operates the Brindisi
- Corfu - Igoumenitsa
route, following last year's timetable. That same route is also serviced by Blue Star
Ferries with Blue Bridge, by Fragline
with Ouranos and by Agoudimos Lines
A. Stunningly, Media II no longer operates routes to and from Brindisi,
puts into service - beside chartered Egitto Express
- Poseidonia. Med Link Lines (operating the
route to Patras) employs the same ferries as 2001: Afrodite II,
and Agios Andreas.
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