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e-mail: matt@hhvferry.com
The Aqua Jewel was ordered for inter-island service in the Greek islands but, after being launched in 1998, was put to one side with the ship lying at Drapetsona for several years. The ship was eventually completed to the account of a new operator, Alpha Ferries, who put her into service in the competetive Rafina-based schedules operating out to Mykonos (although in the Aqua Jewel's case, the route was usefully extended to Paros). The ship was thus competing directly with the more established Hellas Ferries and Blue Star, and reports of her success vary between her being very busy to virtually empty. Additionally, the Aqua Jewel sufferred somewhat from a reputation as a 'roller' and was reportedly dry-docked for fairly extensive hull modifications after her first season. This was clearly not enough and more measures were taken in the Winter of 2004/05 when the ship was lengthened, increasing capacity but also seemingly stability.
AQUA JEWEL
Above: Aqua Jewel arriving at Paros in July 2004. (Picture HHVFerry.com)
Above: At Mykonos in May 2004 - unlike her Rafina-based competitors, this is not the end of the line for the Aqua Jewel, which operates an extra leg, across to Paros. (Picture courtesy David Baker)
Above & below: Looking forward in the main Economic Class lounge, situated on the lower passenger deck, forward of the reception lobby. The space is seen (above) prior to the ship's lengthening and (below) afterwards, in 2005. The latter picture shows how this is now a very large area with the additional space created used simply for more tables and chairs with booth sofa seating around the perimiter.
Below: Aqua Jewel seen arriving in Gavrion, Andros in Summer 2004. (Picture courtesy David Baker)
Below: The forward part of the Distinguished class lounge prior to the ship's lengthening, showing the good panoramic views afforded by this space's prime location on the middle of the three passenger decks. Immediately aft is a bar to port and further bay-seating. The deck above features passenger cabins forward and a space referred to as a conference room, but actually more of an additional passenger lounge (although seemingly usually closed to passengers).
Below: Aqua Jewel turning off the berth upon arrival at Paros in July 2004. (Picture HHVFerry.com)
ABOARD AQUA JEWEL
Below: A picture looking aft towards the Reception Lobby on the lower passenger deck - beyond the reclining seating is an escalator used to transport passengers up from the car deck.
The desk visible in the background is the reception and, just beyond, is a small shop.
Below: Setting sail from Andros in July 2004 is a heavily-loaded Aqua Jewel. (Picture HHVFerry.com)
Below: A new look for 2005: the ship is seen here after being lengthened and with her new slightly darker blue hull colours. (Picture HHVFerry.com)