Celestyal Nefeli 12th May 2017, Part 2
Saturday 13th May 2017
I set my phone alarm and discovered from the View from the Bridge on the television that we had already arrived in the caldera at Santorini. It was such an astonishing sight, knowing we were tied up inside the middle of a volcano and could take a tender ashore after breakfast.
The excursion passengers left the ship first and then at 10.30 a.m. the rest of us could take one of the local tenders the short distance to the shore.
The busy quayside seems to have been extended and there are obvious signs that the walkways under the mountainside will be expanded round the headland in the future. We enjoyed walking around and then talking with a man from New York; we all talked about Santorini and then had an amusing short discussion about the UK's vote to leave the European Union and the USA's vote for President Trump.
We went to see where the donkeys are located at the foot of the zig-zag path to the town of Thira way up high; in fact we could smell them before we reached the place where people can get into the saddle for the ascent. I have never been on the donkeys but have walked up using the wide steps cut into the rock beside the donkey walk. It was slightly hazardous at the time and the smell of the animals and their droppings was ever-present. Visitors to Thira are now advised to take the newly-built cable car up to the town and of course this offers wonderful views out over the caldera.
I bought some local postcards which showed ships that called here in the past, and my travelling companion was able to identify the vessels for me, including ROMILDA.
Left to right: local tourist ferry, Apollon of Epirotiki stern onto the quayside then foreground an original R (Renaissance) ship; photo probably taken in the 1980s, photo copyright Haitalis, 13 Astrous Str. Athens
Left to right: an original R ship, Apollon of Epirotiki stern onto the quayside, a small local vessel, then Windstar or Windspirit? photo probably taken in the 1980s, copyright Haitalis, Athens
Top: Marco Polo; below left: Sea Goddess II ?; below right: unknown R-ship 2nd batch (rounded funnel); top left-hand: tiny fast ferry coming in from Crete; photo taken in the 1990s copyright Haitalis, Athens
GA Ferries Romilda, built in 1974, sailing into Santorini probably in the early 1990s; copyright photo by Marmatakis Brothers, Galagado Akrotiri, Chania
We went to a local cafe for coffee, saw occasional ferries calling at their quayside in another part of the caldera, and watched other local tenders going to and from NORWEGIAN SPIRIT and WESTERDAM which were anchored in the caldera. We were also surprised and happy to see the little NEARCHOS, which we had visited in Lavrion yesterday, sailing neatly and fast into the ferry port with her so-recognisable Knud E Hansen profile. That Chief Engineer had obviously done a superb job on her engines.
Back on board I enjoyed a glass of sparkling wine before lunch at the outdoor Thalassa Bar and lido buffet before settling in a shaded steamer chair for an afternoon rest. Later we could see various ships arriving and departing from the ferry port and the tenders taking passengers back to their cruise ships in the caldera. All these big ships cannot anchor because of the enormous water depth, so the engines are constantly working to keep them in position, usually tied up to an allocated and fixed buoy.
Tonight is 'White Night' on board for anyone who wants to wear white clothing, and many did. We didn't know about this so I wore pink. We had sailed from Santorini by this time but the ship took us on a tour around the caldera so we could enjoy the different views from the Deck 5 Eros Bar; we noticed the little NEARCHOS had returned to the port and was sailing parallel to us for a while but soon speeded up and headed out to the other islands on her itinerary. What a delight to see her again; I liked that my friend photographed and sent a picture of her to our maritime author friend Dr Bruce Peter, who wrote the authorised book about Knud E Hanson.
Dinner was enjoyable, and this time we were placed with an American couple and again the conversation was most interesting and topical. This evening the show was a trip around the world in musicals, and we all enjoyed the music and dancing/acrobatics. Tonight we sail for Izmir in Turkey, a distance of 188 nautical miles.
Ships seen at Santorini:
Celestyal Nefeli (Celestyal Cruises), Norwegian Spirit (NCL), Westerdam (HAL), Nearchos of Creta Cargo Lines, Blue Star 2, Champion Jet 1, Champion Jet 2, Nissos Rodos
To be continued...