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Jim

Piraeus to Aegina

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Having found ourselves in Greece last week (as you do), Mrs Jim and myself took a day trip over to Aegina from Piraeus. A few notes and random photos below. It was an 'interesting' day with a few lessons learned!

We jumped on Metro line 1 from our hotel in the centre of Athens out to Piraeus which took around 25 minutes and deposited us right by the port. Our sailings operated from Gate E8, and before hand we had to collect our tickets from what looked like an official office but turned out to be an agency of "Let's Ferry". It also turns out that despite the fact we'd booked with Blue Star Lines, we'd be travelling with Hellenic Seaways on our outward journey. Admittedly, we only found this out when 10 minutes before our sailing our vessel was nowhere to be seen, and when it did arrive following us asking at an office where it went from, it turned out to be in Hellenic Seaways livery. Our vessel outbound was the 1983 Russian-built hydrofoil 'Flying Dolphin XVIII'. We boarded and were directed to our assigned seats (401 and 610) in the forward lounge - though once boarding was complete we moved to sit together. It's the first time I've seen seatbelts on maritime transport.

We sailed out of the port, and the vessel put pedal to the metal and lifted out of the water - until this happened there was a slightly unusual sound of water against the hull. A safety video was played, but given this was done on a DVD it skipped so much it didn't actually finish until halfway through the 40 minute crossing. It included the slightly unusual lines assuring everyone the crew were 'fully trained to Safety Of Life At Sea regulations' and that in the event of an evacuation 'Jumping from a height is dangerous, but if you decide to do so anyway'... 

The crossing was comfortable enough due to calm seas, and despite the interior of the ship being older than myself, the seating had been updated with recliners similar to those found on Normandie Express. On arrival at Aegina, we collected the tickets for our return from the 'Saronic Ferries' desk - we'd tried to do this in Piraeus but been told, even though they could see our booking, they couldn't issue tickets.

We spent the day on the island hiring a car for 'special cash price' and sightseeing before returning to the port for our sailing home. 

The Posidon Hellas had been in Piraeus whilst we'd waited for our outbound, and we'd watched her arrive with her stern ramp lowered onto the quayside (who needs berths!) and the mad scramble that had occurred. It was similar here where the ship approached the quay at quite some speed, bow door open and ramp out - with disembarkation occurring in seconds.

I should add at this point, that once again whilst we'd booked with Saronic Ferries the ship was operated by 2wayferries. The layout was simple, with one indoor lounge and plenty of outdoor seating. A small 'Everest' coffee bar selling drinks and snacks was onboard (Everest is a chain of such places in Greece). We broadly speaking left on time and had a smooth crossing. For disembarkation we were called to the car deck quite some way from the berth and waited. As we approached the quayside the ramp was lowered, and within a second of it touching the quay people, bikes and cars were on the way - even though the ship was yet to be fully secured with ropes and was still moving!

Our tickets were 17 EUR outward on the Flying Dolphin, and 8 EUR back on the Posidon Hellas. A car fare is 20 EUR one way. One thing to note is that there's more prominence on the name of the ship on your tickets - and on the electronic signs surrounding the port in Piraeus will tell you the name of the ship and the time it sails... probably because you're unlikely to travel on a ship painted in the livery of the company you booked with!

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Interesting report Jim, thanks for posting. Mrs B and I spend a fair bit of time in Greece, visiting once ot twice a year and have been to most of the major islands and toured extensively on the mainland and on Crete. Not done many ferry trips though, just short hops such as over to Poros or on local tour boats. We have often seen the ferries docking and leaving however, as you say it is always very informal including locals picking up relatives (see pic).

We have never visited in winter, only May/June/Sepember. Looks like you had nice weather.

Not been to Aegina but seen it often enough from the Athens/Corinth motorway.

This year we are in Western Crete for our 8th visit to the  island and currently trying to arrange a week in Itea on the Gulf of Corinth in September. We had a couple of days in Delphi two years back and Itea looks a good place from which to explore north of the Gulf which will fill in some gaps!

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Great pictures and an interesting report 😃

Greek ferry companies love a consortium almost as much as they love a merger. Saronic Ferries are a marketing combination of 2wayFerries and Nova Ferries whose ships operate in the livery of their owners. Nova Ferries' Phivos is the best ship, it's hard to say much in favour of any of the 2ways ones.

Blue Star ferries/Hellenic Seaways is more interesting and I'm intrigued that HSW's Aegina sailings now appear as Blue Star ones in generic booking engines. HSW were taken over by the owners of Blue Star/Superfast last year in a quite egregious override of competition rules. It did however keep HSW out of the hands of Grimaldi for which everyone was grateful.

I was under the impression both brands would remain but perhaps this isn't going to be the case. Blue Star pride themselves on mostly modern, always well maintained ships and the old Russian hydrofoils certainly don't fit that bill so it would be striking to see the Blue Star name on them.

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