Yesterday a SAOS Ferries ship called Stavros called at Symi on her way to Kos. This is a new route, opened at Government request and with heavy subsidy. The contract is for two sailings each way per week, routed Rhodes – Symi – Halki – Tilos – Nissyros – Kos and return. The Stavros is renamed from the SAOS II, and is a smallish, slowish, conventional vehicle and passenger ferry. The belief within the shipping community is that the subsidy is so large that the route will make money even if nobody uses it. Current plans are to operate Rhodes – Kos on Monday and Thursdays, returning on Tuesdays and Fridays. On other days there will be a Rhodes- Kastellorrizo round trip, operating twice a week, leaving one rest day. The subsidy level is such that Kastellorizo permanent residents (not visitors) have been offered free travel for the rest of the year between there and Rhodes and back. Unfortunately no such offer is available for residents of other islands.
SAOS Ferries have a certain reputation in the North Aegean, and it isn’t a good one. This is one reason for the ship being renamed, management would say it represents a new beginning, cynics that it is to try and bury the allegations of cancellations and delays in previous years.
Photos exist of Stavros mooring at Symi Clock Tower yesterday, but I understand that all future calls will be to the new quay area that Blue Star also use, and where the direct road link to the Chorio road is well under construction.
The blog will resume more frequent postings now that Greece is slowly emerging from lockdown – there was no point in reporting when only permanent residents of Symi were allowed to travel there, but this starts being relaxed during May. Before anyone asks, tourist accommodation will not be allowed to open before 1 July, and there is no information yet as to when international flights to Rhodes and Kos will be permitted, and under what conditions. It does seem likely that when they are permitted, not all countries will start on the same date, depending on the degree of progress in each country of combatting COVID-19.