The Express Adonis was built in Italy in 1971 as the Ailsa Princess for the Stranraer (Scotland)-Larne (Northern Ireland) link. In later years she spent several seasons in the south-west operating from Weymouth and Portsmouth to Cherbourg and the Channel Islands, latterly as the Earl Harold. The ship was ultimately withdrawn from UK use due to new safety regulations after the Herald disaster - Sealink didn't believe it worthwhile spending the money considering her advanced years and the weak financial position of their Western Channel services. After a brief period on charter to B&I Line, she was sold to GA Ferries of Greece, becoming Dimitra, and later Naias Express with Agapitos Lines. The ship was further renamed Express Adonis when Minoan Flying Dolphins (t/as Hellas Ferries) swallowed virtually all the competition in late 1999 with a raft of takeovers, accumulating a whole raft of the classic 1960s and 1970s Sealink ships in the process.
The
Adonis had even more adjustments than the average UK ferry coming to Greece with a whole new bow section, modified bridge plus the usual extensions at the stern, although the latter were limited to more covered deck areas as Sealink had already done some of the job for them by adding an additional lounge in the 1970s.

For 2005, the ship was no longer required by the shrinking Hellas Ferries (soon to be renamed Hellenic Seaways). Laid up at the mouth of Piraeus Great Harbour, initially alongside the former
Earl Granville (Express Olympia) she spent the whole Summer season out of use, awaiting her fate. By the start of 2006, the ship had been sold and had her previous Hellas Ferries name painted out, being renamed New Caribbean Princess. The new owners were Mumbai-based Samudera Ferry Shipping & Cruise Services, the ship making 12-hour overnight cruises out of Mumbai in India.
AILSA PRINCESS/EARL HAROLD
BELOW: Express Adonis at Rafina, April 2001. The ship is similar in most respects to her earlier sister Antrim Princess (latterly the Isle of Man's Tynwald). According to the book Designing Ships for Sealink several aesthetic modifications were made at the insistence of her Italian builders, specifically involving the look of the BR-style funnel. Consequently the vessel operated for most of the pre-privatisation era of Sealink with the BR logo's twin horizontal lines uniquely extended right around the funnel, and the mast was suspended unusally from the forward end of the funnel, something still apparent today.
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BELOW: A fantastic overhead shot of Ailsa Princess taken from a Sealink Channel  Islands brochure of 1984. (Click for larger image)
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e-mail: matt@hhvferry.com
ABOVE: The ship later had the extended funnel markings painted red to bring her into line with the rest of the fleet. (image thanks to Trevor Kidd).
ABOVE: The real thing: an official Sealink British Ferries view of the ship in full SBF livery. For a couple of years after this picture was taken (coinciding with the demise of Sealink's Channel Islands routes), the Western Channel fleet dropped the Sealink name, being branded as 'British Ferrles' only.
BELOW: Earl Harold at Portsmouth in the 1980s.
BELOW: Despite the adjustments to the basic Sealink funnel made by her Italian builders, the stack as seen on Express Adonis in July 2004 remains an instantly identifiable birthmark, as it is for all large Sealink ships from the late 1960s to late 1970s.
TOP: Ailsa Princess in her original colours (plus the early addition of the 'Sealink' trading name) with the extended lines of BR's double arrow logo - an addition made by the ship's Italian builders and which was unique to her.
ABOVE: Ailsa Princess seen after her move to the English Channel in the early 1980s - loading at Cherbourg's original linkspan.
BELOW: A further view, dating from July 2003, of the Express Olympia and the former Ailsa Princess (as Express Adonis), again reunited in the same fleet - this time that of Hellas Ferries.
BELOW: Earl Harold seen at Weymouth during the relatively short British Ferries (not Sealink) era.
ABOVE & BELOW: For the entire 2005 season, the Express Adonis sat unwanted in a lonely lay-up berth in Piraeus outer harbour; she is seen here in July of that year, still in the by then obsolete Hellas Ferries livery.
BELOW: The Express Adonis seen after sale on 3 January 2006, with her former name now painted out. (Picture courtesy Nikos Thrylos)
BELOW: A Princess once again! The New Caribbean Princess seen at Drapetsona in early February 2006, being prepared for her new role. (Picture courtesy Nikos Thrylos)
BELOW: Privatisation! An unusual artist's impression of how the renamed Earl Harold would look in the new Sealink British Ferries livery. Fortunately a rather better interpretation was used in reality.
ABOVE & BELOW: The New Caribbean Princess in dry dock being readied for departure from Greece, late May 2006. (Pictures courtesy Nikos Thrylos)
BELOW: Looking deep into the car deck of the New Caribbean Princess. (Picture courtesy Nikos Thrylos)
ABOVE: Early days at Stranraer.
BELOW: Family rivals: Once fleetmates on Sealink's Western Channel routes, the Express Olympia (ex-Earl Granville) and Naias Express (ex-Earl Harold) are seen together at Piraeus in the colours of Agapitos Express and Agapitos Lines respectively. Picture courtesy Antonis Lazaris.
ABOVE & BELOW: Express Adonis at Piraeus in her final Greek season, July 2004.
ABOVE & BELOW: Express Adonis seen being prepared for service in Piraeus in July 2004. The ship is wearing the slightly modified Hellas Ferries white livery.
Click here for pictures on board the ship as the Express Adonis
Click here for pictures on board the ship as the Express Adonis