The Panagia Hozoviotissa ferry run by NEL Lines lost its safety certificate after a failed inspection and will be out of service starting October 17. Affected routes are within the Cyclades, including the Greek islands of Andros, Folegandros, Ios, Kea (Tzia), Kimolos, Kythnos, Lavrio, Milos, Paros, Serifos, Sifnos, Sikinos and Syros.
Although NEL still lists the 31-year-old vessel as part of their working fleet, tourists and residents should seek other options and book in advance when possible, with services now limited. For some islands, this was their only ferry, thus necessitating a sea taxi to a nearby island to catch a different ferry or coming to terms with being stranded.
If you already purchased a ticket online or through a travel agent, refunds are available at the point of sale.
The Greek Island Hopping website has a partial list of ferries that are 27 years old or more at, “Ferry Safety.” However, be aware that companies sometimes rename ferries in an attempt to stay one step ahead of published warnings.
Other islands affected
In addition to the Cyclades, the Argosaronic island group has been affected also. For the past 2 years, Hydra and Spetses are no longer serviced by regular ferries, leaving residents with only high-speed ferries that are expensive and more often subject to cancellation.
The majority of island residents complain that service is infrequent and expensive, as companies cut back due to the skyrocketing price of gas and low ridership. Take that into account when choosing to live away from the mainland.
* Article updated November 14, 2013
Photo from NEL Lines