The ferry situation is still confused. In particular, throughout the summer Dodekanisos Seaways have been pushing back the start date for Panagia Skiadeni, and substituting stops by Dodekanisos Express or Dodekanisos Pride. As at today, Panagia Skiadeni is still in a shipyard near Piraeus, and the earliest start date is Monday 13 September. Now the earliest start date is Monday 27 September. Personally I wouldn’t make any travel plans that depended on her sailing this year. It scarcely seems worth activating the ship for seven or so weeks work at the tail of the season.
We are still waiting for confirmation that SAOS Ferries will continue the usual sailings of the Stavros into October, and that ANES Ferries will continue the Sebecco’s sailings after 3 October, so there’s no point in producing a schedule for ferries in October yet, when the only certainty will be 2 Blue Star sailings each way a week, plus SAOS Ferries Stavros twice a week, with slight time changes due to southbound sailings starting and northbound ones finishing at Kalymnos.
Symi is still far from overloaded with tourists and this is probably the reason why Dodekanisos Seaways has decided to defer the start of Panagia Skiadeni sailings this year by another week or so until 22 July. Instead there will be sailings by Dodekanisos Pride on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays. Sunday sailings vary week by week and are usually only announced the week before.
A piece of good news is that the subsidy for the Sebecco is now year-round and so there will be sailings in the autumn and winter. Maybe we’ll even find out the times soon.
It looks like this summer will have one of the very best ferry services ever, used by the lowest number of tourists.
After the extra high season Tuesday service, an additional “Big Boat” has been added on Saturdays in July and August (actually up to 4 September). This is Hellenic Seaways fast ferry “Hellenic Highspeed”. Hellenic Seaways is a sister company of Blue Star and the two effectively operate as one business. This isn’t like the smaller Dodekanisos Seaways high speed ships, she is a very large long range ferry. One word of warning, the very economical €8 fare between Rhodes and Symi or vice versa on the Blue Star/Hellenic Seaways conventional ferries doesn’t apply on this ship, you’ll pay €21 each way.
On the other hand, the starting date for sailings by Panagia Skiadeni has been put back to 16 July. I’ve updated the high season timetable accordingly, we’re still waiting for ANES ferries and SAOS ferries to declare their October timetables for late season vistors, and I’m still creating the timetable for early July.
Blue Star have announced that there will be a fourth sailing per week through Symi, on a Tuesday. This will be a call by Blue Star 2, coming from Piraeus to Rhodes and calling at Symi at 08:35. It returns on the same day from Rhodes at 17:00, calling at Symi at 18:00 and continuing to Kos, Leros, Patmos, Syros, and Piraeus. The service is currently bookable up to the end of August.
This of course means that I need to re-do the summary ferry timetable. The June one is also in confusion due to a combination of strikes by ferry crews and Blue Star’s annual switch round of ships caused by the drydocking of ferries for annual inspection and maintenance. October’s on the other hand isn’t ready because we don’t know what if anything Sebecco will do after 3 October, and because SAOS Ferries published timetable stops then. Sebecco’s government contract ends on 3 October, and that covers the early morning and evening sailings. The morning departures from Rhodes and afternoon departures back are at the company’s commercial risk and how long they continue for depends on demand.
SAOS Ferries have decided to offer free travel for foot passengers up to the end of June, and from 15 September onwards. Vehicles will still be charged for. You’d still need to get tickets, of course.
Summer Ferries – now the 2021 timetables are here.
This week has seen the timetable announcements by SAOS Ferries and most importantly ANES Ferries for this summer. We now have times from now right through to late October, and I’ve started compiling the summary timetables. Basically for July, August and September there will be at least 3 ferries every day between Rhodes and Symi, and between Symi and Rhodes. On some days there will be 4 or even 5 sailings.
I’m working on May, June and October and will add these to this post when they are ready.
For those who do not know Symi well, Blue Star use the new quay by the petrol station, SAOS and Dodekanisos Seaways use moorings at the Clock Tower, and ANES moor near the bus terminus. The Rhodes mooring points are shown in the summary timetables.
Dodekanisos Seaways have now released their timetable through to late October and it is bookable up to late September. As predicted, once Panagia Skiadeni resumes service (now on 1 July), the two catamarans avoid Symi altogether. Until then there will be three catamaran sailings a week. Both have now been repainted in the new livery with more blue and white, and a lot less orange. Panagia Skiadeni is now away at Piraeus for annual overhaul and will be repainted at the same time.
July, August, and September will see a daily service between Rhodes and Symi, operating direct both ways, northbound in the morning, southbound in the evening, Panormitis will be visited in the slack time in the middle of the day on 5 days a week.
SAOS Ferries usual terrible communications policy continues. While we would expect Stavros to resume service soon with much the same timetable as the last two years (because they have a 3 year contract with the government), there is no indication as to when this might happen, nor does their online booking system work, even after 2 years. The ship itself is fine, though.
The word on the street is that ANES ferries has won the contract for daily morning departures from Symi with evening departures from Rhodes, and the Sebecco will reappear in Yialos soon to run them. I’m waiting for confirmation of this.
Finally, there’s Blue Star. They released their summer timetables months ago and online booking is possible. Much the same as in previous years, though watch out for odd gaps in the Monday sailings.
Once the ANES and SAOS details are firmed up, I’ll produce the usual combined timetable.
There seems little point in doing this for flights to Rhodes as short notice Covid-19 regulation changes in the many different countries served mean that the timetables would be obsolete by the time I’d done them. Maybe 2022?
What with COVID-19 and the usual government-induced confusion, we still don’t have any idea what services will operate through Symi in summer 2021. Blue Star have published their timetables and for most of the summer the usual Monday, Wednesday and Friday calls are maintained, using either Blue Star Patmos or Blue Star Chios. But during May the Monday sailings are missing, for no clear reason, maybe due to various ships in the fleet being due their visits to the drydock for annual inspection and overhaul.
The government has put a new route out to tender – Symi-Rhodes, 7 days a week, May to the end of September, with the boat overnighting in Symi (so there will be a morning sailing from Symi, and an evening sailing from Rhodes). Now this is very similar to the timetable Sebeco ran in 2019. Whether Sebeco or some other ANES vessel will be put forward for this tender remains to be seen. But in a typical retaliatory move, Dodekanisos Seaways have loaded a timetable for the period up to the end of September which has removed all of their catamarans from Symi between June and September, though Panagia Skiadeni will reappear doing Rhodes-Symi-Panormitis-Symi-Rhodes every day. Note that this timetable is not bookable, so they’ve plenty of time to alter it if they get concessions from somewhere, without having to make refunds.
Then there’s the Stavros. This should continue, maybe with tweaks to the timetable, as it is on a 3 year contract, and this is only year 2.
So, assuming the COVID level in Rhodes is brought back under control, and a combination of vaccinations or tests allow tourists to visit Symi safely, it should be possible to get there on some sort of ferry, but do not make plans that cannot be altered just yet.
Once we have the results of the tender, and Dodekanisos Seaways actually open their summer service for booking, I will produce the usual summary timetable.
I’d like to wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all readers. 2020 has been a terrible year for so many, and a nightmare for travellers and transport operators.
People may wonder why there are no details of 2021 flights here yet – simply because I don’t believe that many of those flights advertised are actually going to operate, and if they do, that everyone who wants to fly will be allowed to do so. As more certainty, and more vaccinations, arrives, I’ll start listing the flights.
As far as ferries are concerned, about now is when the first details of summer sailings usually begin to appear. but not this time. Again when the details emerge you’ll see them here almost immediately. At the moment, with Greece in national lockdown, it is difficult for ferry companies to plan timetables and for government to grant approval.
So here’s to a successful summer season for Symi, and lots of happy virus free tourists.
In a very late addition to the winter ferries serving Symi, SAOS Ferries ship Stavros will continue on her October timetable until at least the end of November. This means the combined November timetable, even after the Panormitis celebrations are over, will be better than that operating during much of the tourist season (9 sailings each way a week on the Rhodes-Symi- Kos main line spread between 3 ferry companies, compared to 7 for part of the summer). Typically, SAOS have failed to update their website to show November sailings – they obviously don’t regard the website as any kind of selling tool, since although they advertise online booking on it, this has never been possible for Dodecanese routes.
The first details of the winter ferry services are beginning to appear. Dodekanisos Seaways have released timetables up to the end of the year. but these may be subject to alteration as they are only bookable up to 8 November. Basically the normal 4 sailings a week winter timetable reappears once the celebrations at Panormitis are over. This provides sailings on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays leaving Rhodes for Symi and points north in the morning, returning through Symi in late afternoon. The main change is where the sailings go to once north of Kos, all the usual places get a boat, but not necessarily on the same day they did last year.UPDATE: following the national lockdown in Greece, this service is reduced to just Saturdays and Mondays for the rest of the year, we don’t know what will happen in January yet.
Blue Star will continue with the timetable that is currently operating (calling at Symi on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in both directions)
No word yet on whether SAOS Ferries have a winter timetable, and if so, what it is. UPDATE – appears to be the same as the summer./autumn timetable, sailings from Rhodes to Symi and beyond on Mondays and Thursdays, southbound on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Watch out in the period either side of Christmas – there may be extra sailings, altered days of operation, etc, and no sailings on Christmas Day.