Sebeco re-entered service yesterday after the crack in the hull had been repaired. Stories I’m hearing from passengers and from sources on Symi suggest that the cause of the crack may not be quite what the Rodiaki newspaper claimed. Let’s see what the Coastguard investigation discovers.
What a drawn out saga this is! Yesterday Sebeco left the harbour close to the shipyard she was built in, crossed the Aegean and arrived first of all at Panormitis, to be blessed, and then Yialos. She moored overnight at the location ANES always used in the past, by the bus terminus.
This morning she left Yialos about 15 minutes late, probably due to ceremonies, and arrived in Rhodes at the Tourist Port quay, at the very landward end, which as a shallow-draught vessel is possible. For those who aren’t sure precisely where this is, this is the quay in between Kolonna and Akandia that is used by ferries to Turkey and by the vast cruise ships (though they need to dock further along or run aground). Presumably this is where they intend to depart from as well, but the 10:00 departure is now 35 minutes late (more ceremonies, perhaps) and still hasn’t left.Update – I’m informed that the ship met some rocks while entering harbour and is now out of service for repairs until further notice.Later still update! The Rodiaki newspaper reports that Sebeco arrived safely, and the damage was actually caused while about to depart for Symi when a yacht “scratched” Sebeco, which in turn caused her to collide with the quayside. There are dents and scratches at the bow and on one side.
At this location there is an octagonal wooden building that Sea Dreams has been using as a ticket office and the suggestion is that ANES will share the building for on the spot sales and collections of tickets booked on line. They have always had an office in Australias Street, but this has been more administrative than a sales point, even when they managed to operate 4 ships between Rhodes and Symi in the “good old days”.
After successful sea trials on 3 July, and hopefully tidying up all the paperwork, ANES released the timetable for Sebeco for the period 11 July to 9 September today. It will be the same every day:
As you can see, there’s an evening sailing from Rhodes every day, and a morning sailing from Symi to Rhodes every day, along with a set of sailings in between targetting daytrippers but available to anyone.
On line booking is not yet available, but may well pop up any time soon since ANES does have online booking for all its other services. Updated 9 July – it’s available now at the ANES website
What don’t we know yet (but will hopefully find out in the next 24 hours)?
Fares Updated 9 July – €13 one way Symi -Rhodes or Rhodes – Symi
Departure point in Rhodes
Departure point in Symi (I’m guessing near the bus terminus)
I’ve seen photos and video, and she appears to have a combination of airline-style seats in two air-conditioned cabin areas, plus open deck seating. Top speed looks good – will need to be given the timetable.
And no, I don’t know what happens from 10 September onwards, let’s get the service started first!
So tonight looks like the last Symi II Sunday evening sailing of the year.
Have you booked flights through the online bookers Tripsta or AirTickets? If you have, there is a potentially serious problem. Tripsta/AirTickets is a Greek-based company, but sold flights worldwide through the internet. They seem to have been very good at getting people to pay them for tickets, but much less effective at paying the airlines for them. As a result they ran up an airline debt of €59 million for May 2018 alone, with no funds available to meet this. They agreed a settlement plan with the airline trade association IATA, which would have meant the outstanding balance was paid off by 2020, and in the meantime new bookings were only allowed against company or customers own credit cards, so no further debt could accrue.
Now Tripsta/Air Tickets has claimed that its main supplier, the Global Distribution System (GDS) company Travelport has pulled the plug on it. Most Tripsta staff have been fired, and a subsidiary Travelplanet24 is now only selling ferry tickets.
Greek travel agency news and information service GTP reports on the issue here and here
Despite public statements that some staff have been retained to deal with refunds and rebookings, internet discussion groups are full of passengers complaining that they cannot contact the company at all.
What’s my advice?
If you have a confirmed booking though one of the Tripsta companies, check that it still exists and that you can access it through the airline website. Keep checking every day or so as sometimes what appears to be a firm booking is actually an unconfirmed reservation, and at some point the airline computer system will come along and clean up unconfirmed reservations. Check in on line at the earliest time possible.
Don’t even think about trying to change or cancel a confirmed booking made through this company. Just live with what you’ve got, or write it off to experience, unless the airline is willing to do this directly for you (and many will not be).
If you have paid Tripsta for a flight and it isn’t confirmed, contact your credit card company or bank and ask them to charge the amount back. This may or may not be possible depending on regulations in your country of residence. You’ve little or no chance of getting anything back from Tripsta.
Don’t make ferry bookings through Travelplanet24 – there’s no guarantee that this subsidiary will be able to meet its obligations to ferry companies – though I’m not saying that it can’t, why take the risk?
Don’t make flight or ferry bookings through online resellers at all in future. Book directly with the airline or shipping line if you want to do it on line, or if you need agency services, call in and talk to a real live travel agent. That way you log out or walk out with a confirmed booking, terms and conditions are explained, you don’t end up paying for things you don’t want, or not getting things you do want (like baggage allowances, or seat reservations).
If you think online resellers are cheaper – think again. Tripsta didn’t buy blocks of seats cheaply from airlines and resell them to eager travellers, they waited until someone had spotted a price on their website and asked them to make a booking, and then logged on to Travelport to make the actual booking. Often the price on Tripsta’s website was out of date, or didn’t include hold baggage, and the customer ended up paying more than they expected, indeed more than they would have paid if they’d gone direct in the first place.
If you still insist on ignoring this advice, at least look to see the registered address of the online reseller and work out how you could get redress if things go wrong, before using them. Some countries have historically poor consumer protection and/or financial conduct rules. On this front, exactly the same situation occurred in 2014 when another Greek online ticket seller, airfasttickets, failed to meet its obligations due to lack of liquidity.