|THE HENGIST STORY
PART TWO: CONQUERING GREECE 1992-
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|Below: A terrifically atmospheric view of the Panagia Ekatontapiliani (the first time around) under the Agapitos
Ferries flag at Piraeus in June 1999. In the background are (left to right) Minoan's King Minos, ANEK's Candia
or Rethimnon and the former Vortigern running as Lindos Lines' Milos Express.
|The purchasers of the ship in 1992 were GA Ferries, another branch of the Agoudimos family that had bought sister
Horsa. Service with them, as Romilda, was not to last long and sale to Ventouris Sea Lines followed in April 1993, the ship
becoming Apollo Express 2. Ventouris' bankruptcy saw the ship laid up alongside her VSL fleetmates in Piraeus for 1996
until becoming Agapitos Lines' Panagia Ekatontapiliani where she remained until the 1999 Minoan Flying Dolphins/Hellas
Ferries takeover when the former Hengist was further renamed Express Artemis. She regained her former Panagia
Ekatontapiliani name in 2001. This departure from the fleet standard "Express..." style was officially caused by expressions
of disappointment by local church leaders at the change, although it was expedient for Hellas to rename the ship due to a
well-publicised and unfortunate grounding just prior to the change. The ship was therefore once again named after the
historic church on Paros, the translation actually being, "Our Lady of a Hundred Gates".
In early 2004, Hellas unexpectedly announced the sale of both the former Hengist and Horsa. In the case of Hengist, it was
a return to a reborn Ventouris Sea Lines for further Greek operations. Her new base for this season however was not to
be her traditional Piraeus home, but rather the more northern port of Rafina, home since 1992 to the ex-Horsa.
Coincidentally, 2004 also saw the ship's second sister, the Express Apollon (ex-Senlac) also based in Rafina and so for
one golden Summer, the three ships were reunited. The ship began operations in July from Rafina to Paros under the
name Agios Georgios. For 2005, battle was rejoined at Piraeus with operations down to Milos in direct competition with
Hellenic Seaways, the new name for Hellas Ferries, who deployed their rather larger Express Aphrodite (ex-St Columba)
on the same route on very similar timings. A summer of serious racing ensued, with the effect on the Agios Georgios'
engines of continual hard working at relatively high-speed being several brief occasions out of service for repairs. In the
event, the ship, leaving Piraeus each morning 15 minutes earlier than her competitor, managed to capture a very
respectable share of the market, with the ship being particularly popular with islanders disaffected with the larger operator.
For 2006, Hellenic Seaways withdrew their conventional tonnage and Ventouris became the sole dependable year-round
operator, latterly in co-operation with ANMEZ (Zante Ferries) and their plodding Adamantios Korais.
Although the Agios Georgios was well cared for given her age, as she edged past her 40th birthday she had some
moments of mechanical difficulty and islanders began to grow restless about both the age of their primary connection to
the mainland and the seeming unreliability of her operator. The summer of 2014 was to prove the final year in operation in
this service and, in December that year she was renamed Panagia Tinou in advance of a planned transfer to the
Rafina-Mykonos routing that had been the home of her sister, the former Horsa, for more than two decades before her
own withdrawal in 2013.
|Below: The Panagia Ekatontapiliani departing Piraeus in August 1998. Alongside are the Poseidon Express 2
(ex-Saint Patrick) and the Express Santorini (ex-Chartres). Picture courtesy Antonis Lazaris.
|Below: Now renamed Panagia Ekatontapiliani for a second time, after a brief stint as Express Artemis, the ship
is seen here entering Piraeus on a grey day in February 2003. Picture courtesy George Grekos.
|Below: Panagia Ekatontapiliani seen at Santorini in July 2003. This was to be her final summer operating for
|Below: Agios Georgios later received the Ventouris Sea Lines name to her hull and is seen below in Piraeus in
January 2005 with the Express Santorini alongside. Picture courtesy Nikos Thrylos.
|Below: The Agios Georgios seen during her March 2005 refit in the dry dock within Piraeus harbour. Picture
courtesy Nikos Thrylos.
Further pictures of the ship from this drydocking can be found here.
|Below: Agios Georgios at Piraeus in late July 2005. The ship has just arrived overnight from Milos and is
already loading again for her morning 7.30 departure.
|Below: A picture of Agios Georgios looking immaculate in her 34th year of service. Picture courtesy Lucas
|Below: The Agios Georgios arriving in Piraeus with the Oriana seen leaving in the background, March 2005.
Picture courtesy Nikos Thrylos.
|Below: At Piraeus in 2005.
|Below: The Agios Georgios seen soon after departing Piraeus in July 2007.
|Below: The Agios Georgios leaving Sifnos in July 2005 with the Express Aphrodite arriving in the background.
|Below: July 2008.
|Below: The former Hengist in her brief initial Greek guise as GA Ferries' Romilda, at Piraeus in the winter of
1992. The ship had already acquired various stern superstructure extensions, including GA's favoured large
aft entrance lobby space, but despite this expenditure GA brought in Hengist's erstwhile Boulogne competitor
Pride of Canterbury (recently available following the closure of P&O's own Dover-Boulogne link) as a
replacement, that ship subsequently also being named Romilda.
|Above & below: In the Summer of 2004, Ventouris Sea Lines returned with the former Hengist operating as
Agios Georgios in an all-white livery. The ship is seen here arriving at Syros on her second day in service,