NEWS

Ferries jump on bandwagon to lure passengers aboard

Coastal shipping companies have also joined the fray to attract holidaymakers with alluring summer package deals and ensure their position in the increasingly competitive markets of the Aegean and Adriatic seas. Almost all Greek shipping companies have adopted deals for passengers and vehicles that have been successfully applied for the past few years. However, intense competition in some areas has compelled some companies to broaden their offers and include, in some cases, discount accommodation at the ports of call. In the Aegean, the main battleground for Greece’s coastal shipping companies, discounts in travel fares might be as much as 30 percent, especially for the busiest destinations, which is good news for travelers. Officially, the rates for first- and second-class fares are unregulated and follow market trends, while tourist-class fares are set by the Ministry of Merchant Marine. But package deals mean that the overall cost of travel can be significantly reduced and put within the reach of all budgets. Ferry discounts – Blue Star Ferries, which runs numerous routes in the Aegean, is offering a 20 percent discount for return journeys from Piraeus to the islands of the Dodecanese, and up to 25 percent off for return trips to Hania, Crete. For the off-peak season, the company has also launched the Hotel and Ferry package deal, which includes travel fares (including the cost of conveying a car) and discount prices at hotels in Hania and on Rhodes, Syros and Kos. – SuperFast Ferries, which runs routes in the Adriatic and the North Sea, has presented an especially interesting string of deals, such as FeelFree. This package allows the passenger to select a journey (on the company’s itinerary) between different cities and, furthermore, to arrange to stay in hotels at different ports of call. The company has also launched the Weekend for Shopping deal to Bari and Ancona in Italy, allowing passengers who have brought their cars along the option of leaving them on the car deck while they are off shopping. This package includes the voyage fare, the car fare, two night’s stay on board and travel insurance. – Minoan Lines also has attractive offers this summer. People traveling from Italy to Greece will receive a 10 percent discount on domestic Minoan ferry routes, while students displaying a valid identity card can receive a 20 percent discount. The company has also struck a deal with the Hertz car rental agency whereby Minoan Lines customers can receive a discount of up to 50 percent on car rental if they display a valid Minoan Lines ticket within 48 hours of arrival at the port of call. Customers of Minoan Lines can also receive a 10 percent discount on fares for Hellas Flying Dolphins (on all routes except the Argosaronic) by showing their ticket. This last offer is valid until December 31. – ANEK Lines joins the race with 30 percent discounts on all return journeys, 20 percent discounts for people aged under 18, 10 percent off for people aged over 60 and 10 percent off for routes abroad. It is also offering a 25 percent discount to passengers with a vehicle for the Piraeus-Rethymnon (Crete)-Piraeus route, if they can show valid confirmation of reservations at one of the hotels belonging to the Association of Rethymnon Hoteliers. The company has also struck a deal with the Chandris hotel complex in Corfu, offering passengers a 20 percent discount from Patras to Corfu, 25 percent off from Corfu to Patras, and a 25 percent discount on rooms in the group’s hotels on Corfu. – GA Ferries has especially interesting deals combining travel fares and accommodation, with reductions on voyages to some destinations as high as 30-50 percent. They also offer deals for specific accommodation units on the islands of Rhodes, Crete, Santorini, Skiathos, Lesvos, Myconos, Syros, Kos and Patmos.