Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

Cyclades contend with limited ferry service

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.

Aging Ferries

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.

Related posts

Greek ferry accidents in 2008
One day on the island of Ios

* Article updated November 14, 2013

Photo from NEL Lines


  spyros wrote @ October 17th, 2008 at 09:43

Too sad. I used Panagia Chozoviotissa twice this year, to get to Sikinos island. Sikinos and some other small islands depend on it every day of the year…

  Στάθης wrote @ October 17th, 2008 at 11:45

I ‘m really fed up with these companies! What do they expect when they have 31 year old ships in service..

  Phillip wrote @ October 18th, 2008 at 12:07

That’s so terrible. I was equally annoyed to learn that there are no more slow boats to the Saronic gulf islands from Piraeus. So, when my friend and I wanted to go to Spetses with my motorbike, well, no go. I would have had to drive to Porto Heli? and catch a slow boat there to get my bike on the island. My ass couldn’t take a 3-4 hour trip like that! And so you’re forced to pay 40 euros one-way on a flying dolphin just to go to Spetses. Stupid! The ferry service in this country is deteriorating, for sure. Thought that would be the pride of Greece. Oh well, the food here IS delicious and the mountains ARE pretty.

  Kat wrote @ October 20th, 2008 at 12:30

S – You’re right. For smaller islands, this ferry was their only form of transport to/from the island, not to mention supplies being brought from the mainland. One of the drawbacks of living on a Greek island in these times of strikes, cutbacks and mismanagement.

St – Do you remember that they changed the law after ferry accident that killed many? The bad is they changed it again to be more lenient because ferry companies complained that they could not stay in business if they were “forced” to update their fleet and now contend with fuel prices. I can understand the difficult position they’re in, but I don’t believe any loss of life should come at the expense of saving money.

P – That’s good information you gave because it shows that cutbacks are affecting many routes, not just the Cyclades.

  Barbayiannis wrote @ October 28th, 2008 at 20:47

I thought that a few years ago the Greek cabotage laws were being repealed under EC requirements, opening up the opportunity for non-Greek companies to run ferries in Greece. Yet almost all ferries still seem to be run by Greek companies. Does anyone know what happened with this?

And personally I think there are too many motorbikes on Spetses as it is. As far as I’m concerned, the harder it is to get them there, the better.

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