New ferry line serving Symi

New ferry line serving Symi

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.

8 thoughts on “New ferry line serving Symi

  1. Thanks, Andy, that’s really helpful. We have trip planned to Symi in mid August and the timetables of SAOS are definitely very convenient for our schedule. It will be great if you have any updates for this topic – any cancelations, delays, etc from their side.


    1. SAOS ferries have certainly had cancellations and extensive delays on their Dodecanese routes already. Their reputation on their “home island” of Samothrace could scarcely be worse. Don’t make any plans that involve using them unless there is a safety margin in case they don’t turn up when you need them.

  2. Andy it’s a few months on now , how has SAOS been for the passed few months ? We are thinking of using them to get to Symi on a Thursday from Rhodes in September “if” the September timetable allows

    1. Reliability has been good so far, and while timekeeping isn’t up to Dodekanisos Seaways standards, it is many times better than last year when the ship was based in Samothraki, and perfectly acceptable for most purposes.

  3. Hi Andy
    We’re hoping to use Stavros to get from Kos to Tilos on the morning of Friday September 4th as it appears to be the only boat on that route for days.
    I know their current timetable only runs to the end of August, but if you were a betting man………??
    And are ferries running with reduced capacities at present i.e. is pre-booking essential to avoid just showing up and expecting to be able to buy a ticket?
    Many thanks

    1. As Stavros is contracted to the government as a lifeline service, the timetable isn’t likely to change, though these days anything is possible. Ferries are indeed operating with reduced passenger capacities, but Stavros runs mainly to carry vehicles (passengers welcome though) and so still doesn’t get full.
      She has no online booking, so you can’t book in advance except at one of their ticket agents.

  4. Hi Andy,
    I need to purchase tickets for Stavros from Rhodes to Symi next Monday as the Dodekanisos looks like it’s booked up that day (online system won’t let me book so am assuming it’s full). Do you know where in Rhodes I can purchase tickets for Stavros or preferably where I can buy them online prior to our arrival? Also which port in Rhodes does this ship depart from as I understand there are a number of quays? Many thanks!

    1. I wouldn’t necessarily assume that your first choice is full, instead I’d phone Dodekanisos Seaways central booking number in Rhodes. The Greek government has changed the rules about how much below normal capacity ferries must operate over the past weekend. As a result more seats may now be bookable but the online system not yet updated.
      Failing that, Stavros tickets are purchased at the port – Akandia is the one used. I’m told that the new cafe building there has a ticket counter for SAOS Ferries (though marked ANES), though I’ve not seen it myself. There is online booking available via Symi Tours’ website – they a the ticket agent for this ship.
      You should then be able to pick the tickets up on the day in the usual way.

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