|ABOVE: To either side of the laminate-floored section seen above were banks of reclining seats in a 2+2 layout, upholstered in a variety of colours with red carpeting beneath. These were installed at some stage during the ship's Greek service, the original Sealink conversion featuring a rather more dense arrangement of fixed face-to-face seating around small tables. The very deep windows are a feature of Sealink ships of this era and can also be seen in much of Hengist and Horsa's accommodation. This is the view looking aft on the starboard side.|
|Further details of the following areas are available on separate pages:
The A Deck Cafeteria
The A Deck Britannia Bar and Verandah Bar
The B Deck Forward Lounge
The B Deck Side Lounges
The C Deck passenger cabins
Outside Deck Space
The Train/Vehicle decks
|As built the area aft on B Deck was an additional car garage - this was a hangover from the original Dover-Dunkerque train ferries which had been built in 1935: although that pioneer trio were more conventional, 'purer' train ferries, the Southern Railway had the foresight to cater for the motor car, and continuing the concept to Vortigern and her half-sisters was a formality. Since the explosion in car traffic had indeed happened by this stage, the ability to carry at least some cars as well as a fully-laden train deck when operating the train ferry route was now especially important.
The garage in the new class of ships was slightly larger in capacity than on the earlier ferries (the 1935 trio as well as SNCF's Saint Germain of 1951) - 40 cars against their 25, but this had to be accommodated within the same physical boundaries - the width of the train ferry dock and the location landside of the exterior side-loading ramp by which the garage was conventionally accessed (the latter marking the forward limit of the garage.) The increase in capacity was managed by using rather simpler parking arrangements as well as utilising the full width of the ship (which itself was rather wider), the older vessels having a promenade around the garage.
Various alternative loading arrangements were concocted by British Rail's designers for the Vortigern and these are documented in the main car deck page. Despite this, and in spite of the useful additional capacity the garage offered when the ship was in use as a car ferry, the area still saw little use outside Vortigern's increasingly infrequent stints on the Dunkerque train ferry route. With the new Saint Eloi in service alongside Saint Germain as the route's primary vessels and with Chartres available as an alternative back-up, the decreasing need for Vortigern to operate in this guise meant the garage was now viewed as something of a wasted space. Consequently the April 1978 refit, carried out by Smiths Dock Co in Middlesborough, saw the area converted into an additional passenger lounge at a cost of £200,000. The new lounge seated 342 with the total capacity increasing from 1,000 to 1,350 and additional lifesaving equipment was added as appropriate which included the last lifeboats on either side being resited right aft on the superstructure and extra liferafts being installed in their place further forward. A small tea bar was added along the centreline at the forward end of the lounge, facing astern. The conversion of the garage itself was not entirely straightforward as greater ventilation was needed for the area in its new guise whilst there were minor changes in the window arrangements - a new one appeared on each side of the former garage at the extreme aft end whilst the very forward window on each side was 'plugged' - and remained so for the rest of the ship's career. Unlike the later, similar change made to Saint Eloi, the heavy doors aft on the new lounge which previously allowed for cars to load/exit direct over the stern at this level were not replaced at this stage by more conventional passenger ones, although the outside stairway that led down from the aft port quarter on A Deck to just outside these doors on B Deck was now mirrored on the starboard side.
|ABOVE: A close-up of the starboard side of Milos Express, taken at Piraeus in 1999. This view shows some of the changes to the superstructure around the aft lounge. The bottom two windows on the left hand side belong to this lounge and following the same pattern forward still just about visible is the outline of the old forward window of the garage, which was filled-in when the area was originally converted in 1978. Moving forward again from this, the best-defined vertical line in the plating is where the aperture for the side-loading of cars used to be, filled in after the ship moved to Greece. The opening formed a wide 'U' shape and covered the area between this point up to just before the aft side of the pair of vents, which are part of the original design. Beyond this are the group of windows for the first of the side lounges.
Other features of note can be seen on the deck above. The portholes on the upper left have all been added since the ship went to Greece and reflect the area of new cabins built at the stern of the ship. Also visible is the slight step in the superstructure which occurs just ahead of the aft lobby. This can best be seen in the slope of the deck level and of the railings just above the first window of the side lounge and is reflected on both decks above this - the reason apparently being to give added height to the garage area astern.
|ABOVE: The lounge on Express Milos in 2001, looking towards the stern. Glass doors have by this stage been installed at the aft end and it is via this route that foot passengers access the accommodation having boarded at car deck level and ascended using the original internal stairways from there to the passenger deck.
The lower deck was used for economic class under Hellas Ferries, the upper passenger deck being reserved for distinguished class passengers - despite this, the economic accommodation was of a high quality and the ship had a fairly comprehensive refurbishment in the late 1990s. Under Saos, the ship appears to have operated as one-class only. The aft lounge featured a central section with free-standing seating and modern, fixed circular tables on a laminate wood floor, as seen above. The wooden-backed chairs have alternate dark blue or creamy/beige seats. This seating is associated with the snack bar (formerly Sealink's tea bar installed in the 1978 refit which in Greece latterly carried the "CoffeeWay" name). To either side of this central area were banks of reclining seats. The original openings on either side of the ship for loading and unloading vehicles over the side at the train ferry berths remained in place whilst in Sealink service, even after the space they once served had been converted - as such they provided an attractive partially-enclosed platform from which passengers could take the sea air without actually going outside. Unsurprisingly, they did not survive the move to Greece intact but although the space was plated in, it has not seen any alternate use and the passenger stairways leading up which are located just inside and forward of the old opening remained and could be accessed via the now void space.
|ABOVE: The bar servery in the aft lounge aboard Nisos Limnos in July 2004. The modern setting and Coffeeway branding are a legacy from the ship's time with Hellas Ferries. Reflecting its position as the first place boarding foot passengers would usually enter (and therefore often sit down for the whole crossing in), the aft lounge was kept in probably the best condition of any of the spaces on board.|
|ABOVE: Another view of the starboard side on Nisos Limnos, this time looking forward with the central section and bar counter visible on the left.|
|ABOVE: A final shot, this time taken from just right of the centreline. The glass-topped tables are a Hellas Ferries installation, identical to those installed on board the former Hengist in her lower forward bar under the same company.|
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|ABOVE: An extract from a Vortigern General Arrangement plan dated 1984 and showing the dense seating installed in the former aft garage at the 1978 refit. Courtesy Roy Thornton Collection|