Besides the well-known passenger shippers who dominate the biggest commercial sea routes, there are many smaller firms that ply little-used connections between islands or between islands and the Greek mainland, reports Ekathmerini.
About the smaller firms
There are 25 companies with a combined fleet of 57 small ferries, much smaller than the large vessels on the main routes. They connect destinations such as the Lesser Cyclades, or Crete with its surrounding islands or out-of-the-way mainland destinations with equally remote islands.
Three of the 25 companies are considered medium-sized, and have a combined fleet of 20. But the other 22, which own a total of 37 ships between them, are really small, even intimate operations. And the latter, especially, while serving the occasional adventurous tourist looking for a destination off the beaten path, cater mostly to the needs of the locals, thus performing an essential service.
Those small owners know the locals intimately; indeed, most of them are locals as well, giving a different meaning to the word “personal service.”
If we add the 43 ships of the large passenger shippers, such as Attica Enterprises, Minoan Lines and ANEK, there are 100 ships serving 115 islands and connecting them either with each other or the mainland on regular schedules this summer.
Despite their small size – they own from one to three vessels – the 22 smaller firms are not, for the most part, quaint mom-and-pop operations.
“Despite the fact that they are strictly local, many of the small firms are innovative operators,” says a report by Piraeus-based XRTC Business Consultants. “They adopt card-based bonus programs, have online reservations, web checking and e-tickets, just like the larger [shipping] companies, and evolve the product they offer,” says the report.
XRTC also notes that most of these companies’ ships are built and repaired locally. “But [the firms] must also adopt a corporate profile in order to be able to draw capital from banks,” it says.
The largest of the medium-sized firms, Seajets, only operates at peak season, serving 33 Cyclades islands and also connecting many with four mainland destinations and a port on the island of Crete.
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