New ships are going to be launched next summer in the Aegean, while others are changing destinations and opening up new markets, intensifying the competition between ferry companies.

With the Attica Group after the acquisition of ANEK lines, a case that is being examined as required by the Competition Commission, having to cover the main routes throughout the Aegean, from Piraeus, ensuring a smooth and reliable service to the islands, interest now turns to the heart of the summer season and how high-speed ships, which run lines for 3-5 months a year, will move with the aim of the “pick” of travelelr traffic.

In the last two meetings of the Coastal Transport Council (SAC), the itineraries from Piraeus and Crete to the eastern and western Cyclades were a field of confrontation between the representatives of the ferry companies as each proposal for a route brought together counter-proposals from others, as the interest in the lines connecting Piraeus Cyclades and Crete intensifies.

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The prevailing feeling is that a new market has gradually begun to be created with more permanent and not just seasonal features connecting Crete with the Cyclades and with Piraeus. After all, the request of the residents of Milos to increase the number of itineraries that connect the island with Piraeus and Crete during the winter season is indicative of this new trend.

Thus, Heraklion and Rethymno seem to strengthen next season their presence as high-speed departure ports for Cyclades and Piraeus.

The SeaJets firm of Marios Iliopoulos, Fast Ferries of Theologos Panagiotakis, Minoic Lines of the Grimaldi Group and Horizon Sea Lines Panellenic Lines in which the Karatzis group, businessman Dimitris Haritidis and KTEL of Heraklion participate, will contest these lines strongly.

In particular, Fast Ferries decided in 2023 to launch the high-speed ferry Thunder on the line Heraklion-Thera-Ios-Paros Mykonos-Syros-Piraeus and Piraeus-Syros-Mykonos-Paros-Ios-Thera-Heraklion instead of the line Piraeus-Syros-Mykonos-Naxos – Mykonos – Syros – Piraeus

The ship will operate “complementarily” with the “Santorini Palace” of Minoan Lines, which, as in previous years, runs on the route Piraeus – Syros – Mykonos – Paros – Naxos – Thira – Heraklion – Thira – Naxos – Paros – Mykonos – Syros – Piraeus.

On the day that Santorini Palace will “ascend” from Heraklion to Cyclades and Piraeus Thunder will travel from Piraeus to Heraklion and vice versa.

SeaJets, which is also present on the line in question, is throwing its Power Jet into the fray, on the line Heraklion-Thira-Ios-Naxos-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos-Ios-Thera-Heraklion and the Naxos Jet on the same line, adding Rethymno as an alternative . It also runs the Rapidlink Jet on the line Rethymno – Thira – Rethymno instead of Piraeus – Milos – Folegandros – Ios – Thira – Ios – Folegandros – Milos – Sifnos – Piraeus.

Also on the Heraklion-Santorini line, Horizon Sea Lines Shipping Panellenic Lines runs the high-speed Santa Irini.


The new ships

Santa irini is one of the three new ships purchased this year and will now be in the Aegean waters next summer season.

The ship that was purchased in mid-May was built in 1997 and after undergoing the necessary modifications it recently raised the Greek flag. It can carry 750 passengers and 180 cars.

She plied some routes from the beginning of August this year as an excursion, while the actual start of coastal shipping will be from next year.

An even newer ship for the Aegean is the Color Vicking passenger ferry that Sea Jets acquired in recent days. MS Color Viking is a conventional ship that operated between Sandefjord and Strömstad in Norway. It was built in 1985 and SeaJets plans to launch it in the Western Cyclades to fill existing gaps. The ship is 134 meters long, 24.6 meters wide, 5.65 meters draft and can travel at a speed of 19.5 knots. It accommodates 1720 passengers and can carry 170 vehicles.

Finally, new data in coastal shipping, mainly on the Rafina-Cyclades line, is expected to be created by Andros Queen, the latest acquisition of Golden Star Ferries, which, as announced by the company, will join Hellenic Shipping in April 2023.

The ship was purchased from Japan in March 2022 and is currently in the Perama repair zone, undergoing a large-scale conversion to a luxury day cruise.

When ready, the Andros Queen will have a capacity of 1,400 passengers (106 beds) and 380 cars or 70 trucks. Speed 21.5 knots.

The ship will raise the Greek flag in January 2023. It will be presented on the afternoon routes Rafina-Andros-Tinos-Mykonos, in April.

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