Ships hold a special place in islanders’ lives and hearts. They are the lifeline linking the island to the mainland—and other islands too. And despite its overland links, Poros is no exception.
The ships that served the island, carrying supplies and visitors, are etched in local memory, especially among older generations who remember times when sea travel was their main form of transportation.
To help preserve this part of the island’s heritage, several people have contributed photographs and research to a dedicated Facebook page and articles about these ships of yore in the Poros News.
Just as these were different times, these are also different ships—and each one’s history is woven into the personal histories of scores of locals and several movies filmed on Poros. Older locals wax nostalgic at the mere mention of the Camelia or the Neraida or the Delfinaki. Join them for a little reminiscing.
The motorship Camelia was built in 1962 and withdrawn in 2005; it weighed 489 tons, traveled at a top speed of 17 knots, and was the first “large” passenger ship built at a Greek shipyard. The Camelia completed over 7,500 sailings in the Saronic from 1962 to 1982, when it was renamed the Colossus and transferred to the Dodecanese. It was last seen in 2006, rusted and abandoned.
The steamship Pindos, one of the prettiest vessels to serve the Poros line, was originally a yacht and sailed under the name Sylvana from 1907 until 1922. In 1951, it was acquired by a group led by Georgios Vatikiotis, scion of an Hydriot hero of the Greek independence war whose family had settled on Poros. It served the Saronic islands in the 1950s. In 1957, its engines were converted to diesel and it continued serving the local line, in its later years as Aris, but was slowly withdrawn. The ship was scrapped in 1998.
The Aeginaki sailed the Aegina-Methana-Poros route from 1952 to 1966 and can be seen in several films made on these islands. In 1984 it was renamed Pythagoras and sailed short routes around the island of Samos; it was scrapped in 2007.
Mahi was a 247 ton ship with a top speed of 17.6 knots built at the Nobuskrug Rendsburg shipyards in 1939 and originally named the Royal Albert. It was put into service in the Saronic islands in 1958.
The passenger ship Mykinai (Mycenae) was built at the Perama shipyards in 1975 and in its heydey transported film stars, politicians, and shipowners. It continues to sail the Saronic islands today on day-cruises under the name Aegean Glory.
The Glaros (Seagull) was built in 1904 and originally commissioned as the yacht Beryl, later renamed Lorna. It served the Saronic island routes from 1948 to 1949.
The Neraida (Fairy) was built in 1939 and was put into service on the Aegina-Methana-Poros-Hydra-Ermioni-Spetses route in 1950. It served the Saronic route until 1970, when it was switched to day cruises. Two years ago it was refurbished at a Croatian shipyard and is now back in Greece. The 73-year-old ship weighs 462 tons and has a speed of 16.5 knots.
The Kyknos (Swan) was built as a yacht but also saw service as an auxiliary navy ship before being placed on the Saronic route in the 1950s.
Portokalis Ilios (Orange Sun) was a sister-ship to Neraida in the then-fledgling fleet of shipping magnate Yannis Latsis. Hamburg-built, it came to Greece in 1967 and served the Saronic line until 1976. In 1997, it was sold under the name Yorgis.
Although built in Hamburg, the Saronis never sailed a German route but was brought straight to Greece where it served the Saronic line fro 1959 to 1971. It was subsequently renamed Rodos and Dafni before being stricken from the shipping register in 2004; it was scrapped in Turkey shortly afterwards.
The Calamara, originally the yacht Seanymph, sailed the Saronic route from 1947 to 1956, although it was renamed the Poros in 1954 following repairs after running aground at the Tselevinia islets.
The Aphaia was the second open car ferry to sail the Saronic route, starting in the early 1960s.
Delfini Express, affectionately known as the “little dolphin” or Delfinaki, remains the most beloved of all the ships that have served the Saronic lines as its schedule—departing Poros early in the morning and returning from Piraeus at 2 p.m.—made it possible for islanders to “commute” to the city for errands.