LOUIS AURA 3rd August 2014 Part 2
Monday 4th August 2014
My View from The Bridge on the television showed sunshine and a calm sea as we sailed along. Early breakfast out in the sunshine on deck was most welcome, and looked far more appealing than the offerings available in the Restaurant last night. Captain Kostas Gritzelis did his smiling walkabout with his Staff Captain (who remembered me from last year) before having his breakfast. He greeted, smiled or shook hands with many passengers as he walked around the deck and is understandably a very popular Captain in the Louis fleet. I remembered several members of staff from my trip last year, and it was pleasant to be recognised and greeted by them. I don’t think they have many English passengers!
Today we are due in Rhodes at 13.00 hours, leaving at 23.30, so there would be lots of time in port, which is a very busy one. Entertainment on the ship this morning included Price is Right, Towel Folding, Bingo Bingo, Cooking Competition, Darts, Salsa Dance Lesson, and an Aperitif Game.
As we arrived early in the port of Rhodes we could see BLUE STAR 1 in a berth;
AEGEAN PARADISE’s white paintwork gleamed in the sunshine and we were soon alongside the quay ourselves. I was interested to see AEGEAN PARADISE as she is a cruise ship, built in 1990 in Japan, and now operating for the Turkish tour operator Etstur. Their name is painted on the hull. She has been through various owners (and their bankruptcies) and charterers, has been re-built, and has been with Etstur since 2012.
Later we strolled in intense heat along the quayside and out along the waterside until we had a lovely view of the LOUIS AURA and could take photographs, with the ancient walls of the medieval city behind us.
Back on deck we could see other comings and goings into the port.
I was amazed to see ROYAL IRIS arrive, as she looked very like a car ferry. In fact she was indeed built in 1971 as a car and cruise ferry, at St. Nazaire in France, for Southern Ferries who named her MV Eagle. Her itinerary from Southampton to Lisbon and Tangier proved unsuccessful, so she was sold and became AZUR, and then sold again in 1987 to the Greek Chandris Lines as THE AZUR, for cruising. In 1994 she was sold to Festival Cruises for cruising out of Venice, but they declared bankruptcy in 2004, so the ship was finally sold in 2005 to the Israeli company Mano Maritime, renamed ROYAL IRIS and now operates short cruises mostly among the Greek islands. At 14,717 gross tons she was another delightful sight in Rhodes harbour, as was our own little liner LOUIS AURA.
Security was very tight around her, but that was an unexpected and interesting ship to be able to photograph from a distance.
Whilst we were watching her from back on board, we could see two ferries coming fast towards us and there was SYMI and PANAGIA SKIADENI racing for pole position in the harbour entrance! They were heading for different parts of the port, but SYMI seemed to ‘win’ the race to reach the entrance first, with PANAGIA SKIADENI having to do a rather sharp turn to starboard aft of SYMI to get in position for her berth. That was interesting to watch, especially from shore-side!
Small local fast craft were soon leaving, and then the tiny ARTEMIS arrived and berthed. She was built in 2007 at 1,206 gross tons and looked very small as she berthed ahead of us.
We heard a broadcast telling us that because of strong winds expected tomorrow around our intended port of Kalymnos, it had been decided to head for the island of Kos instead, in the morning, and then visit Symi for the evening. We noticed later that the chart on display had been removed and replaced by another one. This was most unusual I thought as it included some unexpected chart notes, mentioning the positions of a capsize, missing person overboard, semi-sunk boat adrift, which are notes that have to appear on official Notices to Mariners for amending the charts but which I suspect are not often seen by passengers in some other areas of the world. With so many islands in the area it is so important that charts are up to date of course.
After dinner we headed for the Stars Show Lounge and listened to the Greek bazoukia music. They were joined by some singers, sitting at tables on the stage set; we noticed they were singing along to words on iPads or Kindles in front of them on the tables. The music was very enjoyable. After that it was pleasant to go out on the deck and enjoy the warmth under the night sky.
Ships seen: Blue Star 1, Louis Aura, Diagoras, Aegean Paradise, Aegean Queen, Flying Poseidon, Marmaris Express, Aegean Cat, Royal Iris of Mano Cruises from Israel, Symi, Panagia Skiadeni, King Saron, Dodekanisos Seaways, Artemis, and far in the distance we could see the white-hulled profile of Salamis Filoxenia as she sailed past the port of Rhodes.
To be continued....