People are beginning to ask about summer flights and ferries, not surprisingly. However, as usual, much of the information required simply isn’t available yet.
Lets review what we know and don’t know, and when we might expect more information:
Ferries: At the moment Dodekanisos Seaways times are available up to 31 March 2018. On past performance they will release the bulk of the summer timetable in January or February 2018, with the through sailings to Samos a little later (these depend on government contracts which probably won’t be finalised so soon). Expect roughly the same as 2017, which would be a morning boat from Rhodes to Symi non-stop every day from May to October, and an afternoon one back again. The return of afternoon/evening sailings from Rhodes would be a big surprise, as these were loss making, unless of course somebody comes forward with a subsidy.
Blue Star times are available up to 31 January 2018. In previous years the summer schedule appeared around Christmas, but this year they have two things to deal with, the damage to the Blue Star Patmos, which has disrupted their winter overhaul plans, and the fact that their parent company, Attica Enterprises, is taking over a competitor, Hellenic Seaways, if the competition authorities permit. The takeover will mean redeployment of ships to reduce duplication and right-size the ship capacity to the route, and the Superfast XII, a stalwart of summer fast Piraeus-Rhodes sailings, will leave the fleet, so another vessel will need to be used. In summer 2017 they called at Symi three times a week in each direction on their stopping Piraeus-Rhodes journeys, on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday mornings going towards Rhodes, and on Wednesday, Friday, and Monday afternoons going from Rhodes. The Sunday/Monday calls happened from the last weekend in June to the first weekend in September only. Wednesday and Friday calls are under contract to the government, and a new tender period opens soon, but it is difficult to see who else is equipped to bid on the route. If the new ferry quay on Symi is open for business by summer, it is always possible some of their larger ships might call instead of the Paros/Naxos/Patmos/Delos which are currently the only ships in the fleet that fit into Yialos.
Sea Dreams might wake from their winter dreaming around Easter, but as their main business is daytrippers, don’t expect much before then from them. In 2017, after they had repaired the major engine fault on their ferry ‘Symi’, there was a daily non-stop morning service from Rhodes to Symi and a slow afternoon sailing via Panormitis back again, and they had a Sunday evening round trip from Rhodes to Symi and back as well. It remains to be seen if this appears in 2018.
Finally ANES, Symi’s own shipping line, will inevitably return to its home island sooner or later. Will 2018 be the year? Each year there are rumours, sooner or later they’ll be correct, but right now they haven’t even applied for permission to operate to Symi for 2018. Plenty of time yet though.
Oh, and there’s a government tender out for three sailings a week from Rhodes to Tilos direct and two sailings a week Rhodes-Symi-Tilos, over and above the calls on the Piraeus service. Last time this was offered, nobody tendered. Maybe the Sea Star, going through an agonisingly slow overhaul near Piraeus, will reappear in the Dodecanese?
Flights in the next posting!