Shortly after midday today, the Blue Star ferry "Diagoras" made a surprise stop at Symi. A large crowd gathered on the east side of the Harbour to welcome the boat and everyone was very excited that such a boat could now be stopping at Symi on a regular basis. It is the first time a Blue Star ferry, one of the most modern and luxurious commercial ferries in Europe, has visited Symi. Blue Star ferries have for the past few years linked some of the bigger Dodekanese islands, such as Rhodes and Kos, with Pireaus. Today's arrival was a "trial" sailing for the company (as well as the "Diagoras" captain) to establish whether it would be possible for a boat the size of Diagoras to enter, manouvre and securely dock at Symi Harbour.
The Ministry of the Aegean and Island Policy has put out to tender a subsidised route from Pireaus to Symi and Blue Star Ferries with the boat "Diagoras" is considering bidding for it and including Symi in its "fast" Pireaus-Kalimnos-Kos-Rhodes route. If this happenes, the journey from Pireus to Symi will take no more than about 11 hours!
Today's trial sailing was branded "a great success" by everyone watching. It took "Diagoras" just 10 minutes to manouvre and dock at the Harbour without great difficulty. The north-blowing wind was certainly helping and everyone's hopes are high that "Diagoras" may be coming to Symi on scheduled regular trips (at least once a week or as many as 2-3 times a week if the more optimistic scenarios are realised). The announcement of the winning bidder for the subsidised Pireaus-Symi route is expected before the end of the year with the first "official" sailing scheduled for early January 2007.
If "Diagoras" does include Symi in its itinerary, it would be a dream come true for Symi as this will guarantee a very fast and reliable service with Pireaus. "Diagoras" can reach a maximum speed of 22 knots and can carry 1,169 passengers and 270 vehicles. The boat is fully air-conditioned, has two restaurants on board, a children's playroom, a conference lounge, a gift shop, a lift and an escalator, an ATM and payphone, internet access, a digital photo printing kiosk, a dvd club and pet cabins and kennels!