I arrived at the port just in time to see the ship pull in. She was so slow and a bit sideways-on to start with and after a while I thought that they would have to do it quicker than that to be economically viable! Then she suddenly moved into a higher gear and the tying up went without a hitch (well maybe a "round-turn and two half hitches!")
The town band looked smart in their uniforms and played very well. Although the choice of "Yellow Submarine" was maybe a bit dubious! The vessel was decorated with blue and orange balloons, some of which were released as the ribbon was cut to loud applause. The Mayor started off the speeches of welcome and thanks, followed by Yerasimos Strintzis and then the Eparchos and a government minister.
Mr Strintzis informed the crowd that this was the most modern ferry in all of Europe and that she is environmentally friendly with reduced emissions, fuel economy and waste recycling systems. A sister ship - the Blue Star Naxos - will have her maiden voyage next month.
Yannis Parios was presented with a silver tray to symbolise his being the ship's "Godfather" and he was told that he can travel free and gratis on presentation of the tray! He quipped that he usually gets gold or platinum discs and then officially opened the ship by cutting a ribbon. His music was piped throughout the ship as we filed on for an inspection tour.
She really does look smart and crisply comfortable. The most notable difference from other vessels is in the glassed-in deck areas that will provide a sheltered view of the journey (at least until they get salt deposits!). The bridge was space-age stuff with a roomy feel and huge banks of electronic equipment and an old-fashioned compass being the only feature I recognised. Colour CCTV showed a view of the bow doors and two tiny glass insets in the outer edge of the bridge floor gave a birds-eye view of the side of the ship to aid docking. There were many computer screens showing various detailed views of the port but the "Portes" weren't visible! Out of range I guess.
Wine flowed and scattered mezes were carried around by friendly-looking crew members. They don't seem to have the usual obligatory, crabby, but seedily-sexy looking purser!
I passed up the chance to see the engines and made my way back down the mirrored escalatored stairway to the dock. The dignitaries were still well ensconced in the first class section with its panoramic views.
I was glad to have been there - it felt like something good for the community, although perhaps that wasn't the shipping line's primary purpose!
The Blue Star Paros will run year-round and takes only 4 hours to Piraeus. The current schedule is Paros-Piraeus every day at 6.45pm, except Tue & Thu at 8.05pm via Syros (5hrs) and Piraeus-Paros daily at 7.25am, direct except Tue & Thu via Syros.