|The El Venizelos' cavernous interiors reflect the sheer size of the ship - even today she towers above other ferries on the Adriatic routes. The result inside is rather curious, especially if one sails on her with a light passenger load - an unnerving series of vast empty lounges. largely bland in character, but all kept neat and tidy by an underworked crew.
Passenger accommodation (aside from cabins which feature on all but two decks) is spread over the five uppermost decks, but the majority of public rooms can be found on Deck 9. Foot passengers enter the ship over the stern and are ushered up port-side escalators and stairways up to Deck 7. At this level, a pair of reception halls can be found - one amidships, and a further one slightly astern of this; the latter leads aft into a pair of dark and forgettable reclining seat lounges - having given our allocated seats here a cursory glance, we decided that it would be much more pleasant to spend the night out on the plentiful outside deckspace. The remainder of this deck is filled with cabins, all linked by vast wide alleyways, carpeted but otherwise mostly bare.
One deck up, on Deck 8, the shopping centre is located just aft of amidships. Forward of this is a small but ornate church for passenger use, opening off another large hallway. Again, cabins complete the accommodation on this deck.
Deck 9 is the main passenger deck, featuring at the stern a bare and bleak cafeteria. From here, a port-side arcade runs all the way along the side of the ship to a forward lobby, passing a Casino/Bar and the formal restaurant on the way.
This arcade is notable for the forest-like overflowing of potted plants and large shrubs for a large part of its length - quite unlike anything I've ever seen on a ferry before. Indeed, the 'El Ven' throughout features an inordinate amount of plants - in the large passenger areas this is perhaps to help break up the sheer size of the public spaces, but this even extends to the bridge, as a cursory glance through the windows demonstrated it too was literally covered in potted foliage.
Ahead of the forward lobby is the main lounge/bar, a huge but, on our crossing, deserted area full of green chairs and red sofas. Above this deck, the only passenger lounge is the astonishing twin-level circular Nightclub astern on Decks 10 and 11. Not part of the original Stena plans, this remained resolutely empty during the crossing, despite the best efforts of the resident DJ. Amidships on Deck 11 is a small swimming pool area - unfortunately the pool was empty and one member of crew snarled at anyone who dared to pick up one of his freshly-cleaned plastic deck chairs from the large stacks he had carefully constructed. ANEK service still has some way to go...