Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 05 - 2004


Illegals target Greek port lorries

---The strain on the British lorry driver's face was all too evident as he appeared in court in Greece earlier this month to appeal against an 11-year prison sentence for people smuggling.
David Wilson had been convicted last March after 19 Iraqi illegal immigrants had been found inside his lorry as he waited in the Greek port of Patras to board a ferry to Italy.
He had always protested his innocence, saying the Iraqis had been smuggled into his lorry without him knowing. He said he had been asleep in the cab at the time.
It did not take long for the appeal court to announce it had accepted his defence and that it was quashing the conviction.
While the nightmare for Mr Wilson is now over, it is clear that every lorry driver using Patras port runs the same risk.
Patras lies on a route used by people-smuggling gangs which transport illegal immigrants on journeys which can begin thousands of kilometres away in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
Greece with its long coastline and proximity to Turkey is often used as the entry point into Europe.
Easy access
The aim of many of the illegal immigrants is to travel then from Greece into the heart of the European Union.
One of the most obvious ways of doing this is to hitch an illicit ride inside a lorry travelling to Italy from Patras.
"There is a very good organised gang with Greeks, Albanians and Kurdish people which organises everything from Athens to Patras to Italy and then to Germany and other countries in the European Union," said Patras-based journalist Georgios Karvouniaris.
Sometimes lorry drivers are themselves involved in the smuggling operation. But frequently they are innocent victims. They are most at risk when they arrive in or near Patras port and take a break from driving in the hours before the ferry leaves.
The smugglers and illegal immigrants have become expert at breaking into the container sections of lorries without the drivers realising.
Greek lorry driver Panayotis Mouratides said: "Several times illegal immigrants have entered my truck.
"Sometimes I manage to get them out, but then when I go off to a restaurant to eat, they try to get back in.
"It's impossible to seal the lorry completely because they don't just use the back door, they also cut the ropes and elastic holding the top covers down."
It is surprisingly easy for illegal immigrants to get inside the ferry terminal at Patras and find lorries to hide in.
Camping out
While we were visiting the port we spotted two men - either Afghans or Iraqi Kurds - jumping out of the back of an empty lorry parked near the perimeter fence.
They had been checking out the lorry while the driver was elsewhere.
They had managed to evade the minimal security at the main entrance simply by climbing through a gap in the fence in broad daylight.
Not far from the port, a group of Afghans has set up a makeshift camp sheltering from the rain and wind in huts made of pieces of cardboard and plastic.
Without passports and with very little money, most are clearly hoping to make the illegal crossing to Italy.
Elsewhere in Patras city, Iraqi Kurds and South Asians are also waiting for the right moment to jump on board a lorry.
In total it is estimated there are currently around 1,000 illegal immigrants in the city.
But the Greek authorities insist they now have the situation under control.
"We have special forces and other teams patrolling the port and we've installed surveillance cameras," said Constantinos Soulis, head of the Patras Port Authority. "We also check all the vehicles before they enter the boats.
"It's resulted in a drastic reduction in the number of illegal immigrants being trafficked."
These new measures may have made it harder to reach Italy but experts believe the illegal immigrants just keep trying until eventually they succeed.
Source:, By Richard Galpin, BBC Athens correspondent , 27 Jan 04

Festival looks for a partner
---GEORGE Poulides, chairman and main shareholder of Festival Cruises, is negotiating a partnership with an undisclosed cruise line to help the ailing company avoid bankruptcy. "We are talking with a [foreign] cruise line to join us" he told Genoa's newspaper Il Secolo XIX, although he would not disclose details. He also said the company was considering a cash injection from "other interests". Mounting speculation has put Royal Caribbean in the frame as possible partner. It has been planning to put two ships in the Mediterranean in 2005 and Festival's arrested ships would better fit Royal Caribbean's Mediterranean ambitions than its own ships.
However, MSC Crociere Italiane is also heavily rumoured to be interested in taking over the three vessels. Only a few months ago its owner Gianluigi Aponte told Fairplay of his great friendship to Poulides adding that he "would be the only one in the cruise business I would like to join". Meanwhile Genoa's Bishop Tarcisio Bertone has publicly urged companies to help Festival get out of its financial hole.
Source:, 27 Jan 04

Royal Olympic companies seek bankruptcy protection
---GREEK cruise operator Royal Olympic Cruises said yesterday that its shipowning subsidiaries had, "seeking the consent of their major creditors", requested protection from their creditors under Greek law which is similar to Chapter 11 of the US. Bankruptcy Code.
A company statement said "Royal Olympic is engaged in discussions with the debtors' banks and other creditors regarding such proceedings. The creditors determination to consent to the debtors reorganization proceeding is not within Royal Olympic's control in any material respect, but may depend -- among other factors -- upon the creditors determination as to the value of the vessels and the chartering contracts affecting the vessels, the demand for the vessels and the general business dynamics of the cruise shipping industry."
The statement also said the company could not be certain of obtaining the agreement of the creditors and the subsidiary companies could be forced to cease operations.
Source:, 29 Jan 04

Cruise ship industry worries
---The Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) said yesterday it fears there may be almost no cruise ships, either Greek- or foreign-flagged, starting tours from Piraeus this Olympic year, mainly due to the problems recently highlighted by the detention of three Royal Olympia Cruises ships in foreign ports as a result of court action by creditors.
SETE said in a statement that the Greek cruise industry, once a world leader with more than 30 Greek-flagged vessels and more under foreign flags, has seen a dramatic decline. "Piraeus is no longer a center and its place has been taken up by Venice and Istanbul. At the same time, the number of cruises in the Carribean have risen at least 20-fold," SETE noted. It said protection from foreign competition - which officially ended on Dec. 31, 2003 - had proved catastrophic for the Greek cruise industry. "During this time, Greek firms were neither able to tap their comparative advantages nor grow to an adequate size to withstand increasingly hard international competition," it said, adding that the series of unfavorable events, starting with 9/11, had dealt a coup de grace to the sector.
It noted that the repercussions of this decline are manifold, most notably unemployment among Greek seamen in the ship-repair sector and related branches and in the tourism industry. "There should be no complacency in view of these developments and the likelihood of similar phenomena in other branches of tourism and the economy cannot be ruled out," SETE said. Royal Olympia Cruises' two-star vessels, Olympia Voyager and Olympia Explorer, were detained in US ports just before Christmas and the Olympia Countess in Durban, South Africa, early this month. The ships have been booked to accommodate visitors during this summer's Olympics. The company hopes to reschedule its debts.
Source:, 30 Jan 04

Huge potential offered by untapped cruise market
---European cruise sale penetration figures compiled by Swedish shipping media house and consultancy, ShipPax Information, show that there is a huge untapped market for cruising in Europe. Although, not surprisingly, the UK has the largest penetration of cruise sales, all other European countries, apart from Luxembourg, are way behind.
Commenting on the figures, ShipPax Information's Managing Director, Klas Brogren said: "I am a firm believer in that all European nations one way or another could almost match the UK cruise penetration, which in itself will continue to climb. If so, at an
average penetration of 1.4%, European countries would develop another 3.3 million passengers. In other words, the global cruise market would suddenly jump another 25.6 per cent. This, in turn, would result in the starving shipyards instantly being able to fill their order books with some 25 cruise vessels!"
There are a number of factors which have contributed to the
UK's success: home porting ships; building on established cruising
traditions; having the right sales channels; or simply a combination of all these elements. Nevertheless, the question remains: why don't the other European countries learn from UK's winning formula and follow suit?
It is clear that new life needs to be blown into continental Europe's cruise marketing and booking methods. Many potential holidaymakers are of the opinion that cruising is beyond their budget. Travel agents all over Europe need to be trained in getting the message across that "Cruising is value for money, even for Europeans!" and to be better educated in the cruise product.
The often-quoted "the most expensive cabin on the new QUEEN MARY 2 costs..." is detrimental to this industry, as there are very seldom references to the other side of the scale. PR officials of the cruise companies themselves have to get their act together.
Source: ShipPax Information,, 29 Jan 04

Perama shipyard on the brink of closure
With some 140 jobs under threat, Development minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said January 26 that the government is looking at ways it can provide contracts for the well-equipped facility.
Unemployment is already very high in the repair zone and many of the workshops and shiprepair facilities are problematic.
Tsochadzopoulos suggested shiprepairers may still be able to take advantage of EU funding available to the community's shiprepair industry, although the 2000 package of funding expired at the end of 2003. The minister chided the repairers in the Perama zone for not taking advantage of the funding before now, but believed a sound business plan may still be able to secure funds and said repairers should draw-up such a plan.
The minister also encouraged the management of Perama Shipyard (formerly Nafsi) to continue looking for a private investing partner. He said the government could not help in this direction, but it could help "create favourable conditions" regarding debts to IKA.
Source:, 29 Jan 04

Spain pressed to let Prestige captain free
---Over a year after the Prestige tanker sank in the Atlantic, causing Spain's worst ever oil spill, Greece has increased pressure on the Spanish government to ease the bail terms on the ship's Greek captain.
In a letter to his Spanish counterpart, Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos called for 69-year-old Apostolos Mangouras to be allowed to leave Spain following a forced stay of 14 months. "This is a man with no criminal record... of whom it was recognized that his personal efforts helped reduce the consequences of the sinking," The Associated Press quoted the letter as saying yesterday.
Mangouras was arrested immediately after the November 2002 shipwreck, and only released on bail of 3 million euros. He has been banned from leaving Spain. Greece has accused Spain of acting like "a Third World state," and treating Mangouras as a scapegoat for its own mistakes.
Source:, 28 Jan 04

Greek refinery stock-take interrupts Piraeus prompt
---Winter is certainly making its presence felt in Southern Europe at the moment, but while other more unlucky ports in the area have had to suspend bunkering due to strong winds and high seas, Piraeus is continuing operations and has so far remained relatively unaffected.
Players will not get away without a little bit of hardship over the weekend though.
A scheduled stock-taking by local refineries will see product deliveries suspended over the weekend. With barge and product avails (especially IFO380) already a bit on the strained side from good demand at the end of last week, players are expecting tight prompt to continue with the slight gap in supply.
Prompt deliveries should be quite tight from the 28th to the 30th - and most likely not easing until Monday of next week when avails for both barge and product should ease.
All grades in the port had been bearish since this time last week and up to yesterday both IFOs had come off by around $6 and MGO by $23. Today's turnaround sees both IFO grades up by around $3 this afternoon, with MGOs $1 rise a little more reserved.
Players pegged today's indications at $146 to $150 for IFO380, $161 to $164 for IFO180 and $187 to $290 for MGO.
Source:, 28 Jan 04

SSBA member joins Greek dry cargo brokerage
Lars Juul Jorgensen has joined Piraeus based Acropolis Chartering & Shipping Inc where he will be working with Dry Cargo Panamax chartering.
Acropolis Chartering & Shipping is headed by Stavros Liaros who founded the company in 1997. The company currently employs 5 people who work mainly with major European Grain houses, North European operators and with the Greek owners.
Lars was previously with Greece based Tsakos Shipping & Trading S.A. (S+P dept) whom he joined in April last year after several years with A/S Dampskibsselskabet TORM in Copenhagen and shipbroker Simpson Spence & Young in Oslo.
Source: Scandinavian Shipping & Business Association in Greece,, 27 Jan 04

Events Diary (Piraeus/Athens)
send your news and annoncements to:
Date: 2, 4 & 6 February 2004
Organiser: Hellenic Shipbrokers Association, Tel: 210 4220055, Fax: 210 4220057
ISM Code Implementation
Date: 3-5 February 2004, at DNV Maritime Service Centre Piraeus
For more details, please contact DNV at Tel: 210 4100 200 or visit
Oil Tanker - Hull Inspection
Date: 6 February 2004, at DNV Maritime Service Centre Piraeus
For more details, please contact DNV at Tel: 210 4100 200 or visit
Company/Ship Security Officer (CSO/SSO)
Date: 10-12 February, at DNV Maritime Service Centre Piraeus
For more details, please contact DNV at Tel: 210 4100 200 or visit
Date: 16, 18 and February 2004
Organiser: Hellenic Shipbrokers Association, Tel: 210 4220055, Fax: 210 4220057
ISM Internal Auditor
Date: 17 - 19 February 2004, at DNV Maritime Service Centre Piraeus
For more details, please contact DNV at Tel: 210 4100 200 or visit
Date: 18-20 February 2004, Hilton Athens, Greece
Topics include:
* The Importance of the Bill of Lading as a Receipt for the Goods
* The Importance of the Bill of Lading as a Contract of Carriage
* The Importance of the Bill of Lading as a Document of Title
* Liens on Cargo and Sub-Freight
* Claims in Tort and Bailment
* Switched Bills of Lading
* Case Studies
* Optional Assessment
For more information go to
Date: 31 March & 1 April 2004, Inter-Continental Hotel Athens, Greece,
Organiser: Hazlis & Rivas Co. Ltd, Tel. (+30) 210 94 08 750-2, Fax (+30) 210 94 08 753,
Posidonia Cup - Friday 4 June 2004
Venue: Faliron Bay, Athens - Piraeus
Posidonia Congress - Monday, June 7 2004 (morning)
Venue: Piraeus Port Authority, Conference Centre
Exhibition - Opening Ceremony - Monday, June 7 2004 (evening)
Venue: Piraeus Port Authority Exhibition Center
Exhibition - Tuesday, June 8 2004 to Friday, June 11 2004
Venue: Piraeus Port Authority Exhibition Center
Information: Posidonia Exhibitions SA,
Date: 14 October 2004, at Athens Ledra Marriott Hotel
The 2003 forum attracted a total of 162 individuals during the day including presenters. From our records this includes 48 shipowners and shipowers representatives, 54 bankers and financiers, 13 lawyers and many others besides. That is substantially better in numbers and in quality than any other comparable conference in Greece.
For the 2004 conference, the organisers expect nothing less, so make your plans now.
For more information please go to or contact Marine Money Greece at: Tel: +30 210 9842 136, 210 4190 164 E-mail:
Source: Organisers Announcement