Passenger ferry M/V Daleela sailed last Sunday from Limassol port, embarking on its first trip to Piraeus that marked the official launch of the ferry connection between Cyprus and Greece, after more than two decades. Passengers, pets and vehicles boarded the ferry, with many expressing hope that this long-awaited venture will be successful.
A total of 155 passengers boarded the ship on its first 60-hour round trip, including the Deputy Ministers of Shipping and Tourism, Vasilis Dimitriadis and Savvas Perdios, respectively, Limassol Mayor Nicos Nicolaides, MPs Nicos Sykas and Marinos Mousiouttas, journalists and representatives from the Cyprus Shipping Chamber and the Cyprus Union of Shipowners.
All passengers travelled safely to Piraeus, enjoying all comforts expected in a ship of this type, since unlike a cruise ship, a passenger ferry mainly aims at people who are afraid of airplanes, who want to travel with their pets, carry large luggage, equipment or their vehicles.
A group of four bike riders, members of the Harley Owners Group Cyprus Chapter (HOG), were among the passengers who embarked on a week-long road trip on their bikes in Greece. They expressed their satisfaction for establishing the ferry connection after 21 years and, as Giorgos Kadros, one of the bike riders said, HOG is looking forward to planning group excursions for bike road trips on the island, along with riders from all over Europe.
Another passenger, Kyriaki Ioannidou, who was the first one to book a ticket for this very first trip, boarded with a converted van, planning to go on a 2,5 months long road trip all over Greece. She will be back, boarding the M/V Daleela in its last journey for the season, in mid-September.
Few passengers chose to travel on one of the 110 airplane seats available on M/V Daleela. A small number of VIP cabins and 38 first class cabins can accommodate a total of 110 passengers. Another 180 passengers can be accommodated in second class cabins, which do not include en suite showers and bathrooms. Six metal constructions may accommodate pets for those not staying in cabins.
Just before arriving to Piraeus, Demetriades told CNA that “an alternative connection between Cyprus and Greece is now a reality and we hope that passengers will embrace it and make this viable, as we see positive reactions on this first route.”
He also mentioned that certain services need to be improved and this will be made possible in coordination with the company. “It’s a matter of time for each route to be better than the previous one”, he concluded.
Deputy Minister of Tourism, Savvas Perdios, appeared to be satisfied by the level of the services provided. “We noticed some aspects that need to be improved, but we must remember that new beginnings are fraught with difficulties”, he said. He added that the Deputy Ministry will evaluate its options for promoting this ferry connection abroad.
“I was amazed by the extent of the space available for vehicles and equipment, which allows us to sell the idea of transporting large equipment, such as for scuba diving, sailing or other sports”, Perdios added. He concluded that he had the opportunity to meet the HOG delegation on board and expressed willingness to coordinate with the
Group in organizing trips for riders.
Sunil Kapoor, Member of the Cyprus Chamber of Shipping, told CNA that “the public, both in Cyprus and in other parts of Europe, will certainly benefit from this service.”
M/V Daleela was welcomed in Piraeus by members of the municipal philharmonic orchestra. A ceremony to welcome passengers took place, in the presence of the Greek Deputy Minister of Island Policy, Costas Katsafados, the Greek Deputy Minister of Tourism, Sofia Zacharaki, the Deputy Mayor of Piraeus, Dimitris Karides, and the Ambassador of Cyprus to Greece, Kyriakos Kenevezos. On the way back, the ship’s departure was delayed by five and a half hours, due to the ceremony and other procedural matters. The ferry departed from Piraeus at 6:30 am on Tuesday, carrying passengers from Greece and other countries.
Marios Michael, Managing Director of the company, Scandro Holding Ltd, congratulated all those who worked for successfully preparing the ship’s first Cyprus-Greece route, within a period of 24 hours, even though they had requested a 48-hour preparation. He stressed that the company has made sure that a bar, a coffee shop, a casino and a playground are available on board.
M/V Daleela docked in Limassol port on Tuesday, June 22, with its crew starting preparations for its second trip to Piraeus and back.