Hundreds of tourists remain stranded on the island of Samothraki – Samohtrace – in the North Aegean Sea, since a week due to failure of ferries to transfer them to the port of Alexandroupolis on the mainland. The situation is a drag for visitors and locals who report of shortages in food, fuel and medicines.
The atmosphere is explosive and according to mayor of Samothrace, Thanassis Vitsas, it is especially the foreign tourists who fail to realize and accept the trouble they are trapped into.
Many have no longer the money to pay for extended accommodation,to have a shower or to eat, many roam in the port hoping to see a ship from afar, Vitsas told daily ethnos.gr.
Local authorities rushed to aid the foreign tourists and in co-operation between the Local Government, the Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace and the Samothraki Association of Professionals, tourists found temporary accommodation and food on Monday night.
At the expense of the municipality and the region, but also with offers from the island’s businessmen, tourists slept for free tourists facilities on the island, with many young people spending the night in the municipal gym, which, of course, lacks the necessary facilities to accommodate people.
Provided have been also meals for free at the restaurants of the island for those left without money. “It is, of course, difficult to control whether or not someone has money, but it cannot be done otherwise. We cannot leave people without help.. We will strive for people to stay free in their lodgings and eat in restaurants. In collaboration with island associations we have organized volunteer groups who inform tourists how they will be served, ”said Vitsas.
The problem started on August 5th, when the regular ferry boat SAOS had a mechanical failure and stopped sailing the route island-mainland.
A second ferry, the Azores Express, that was chartered two days later, but not only had a failure in one of its engines but it could not also dock on the port of Samotrhace, Kamariotissa, due to weather conditions and difficulties due to the port infrastructure.
The last transport was conducted last Saturday, August 10.
Locals consider the failure of sea transport to/from Samothrace in the peak of the tourism season as “defamation” for the island, hoteliers see a record in booking cancellations by those stranded in Alexandroupolis and could not reach the island.
“What we are experiencing is a huge blow to our island, and even more so in the peak of the tourist season. Without our fault, the defamation of our island is unprecedented. We have tourists of all ages. Families with children, young people, elderly, they all complain,” Mayor Vitsas told ethnos.gr
Schedules to resume with chartered ferries
With a 5-day delay, the Greek Shipping Ministry managed to find a solution to the problem and chartered ferry Andros Jet to facilitate the transport of passengers as well as an open ferry for the transport of lorries to facilitate supplies.
Ferry Andros Jet is scheduled to depart the port of Naxos at 12 noon Wednesday and arrive in Samothrace around 10 p.m. at night.
The ferry is scheduled to immediately depart for Alexandroupolis and one more overnight route “if conditions permit,” a ministry statement announced.
Video: People waiting at the port of Samothraki for the ferry
On Thursday, August 15th, the ferry will operate as many routes as needed to ease the situation in Samothrace.
Andros Jet has a capacity for 600 passengers and 70 private vehicles, while it cannot carry trucks. For this reason the Shipping Ministry has chartered another open ferry boat, the Anax, that is scheduled to operate Samothrace-Alexandroupolis in order to meet supply needs. The Anex is scheduled to arrive in Alexandroupolis possibly today, August 14th, as it needs to be prepared for the route.
According to local media, passengers only ship Zefyros has six daily schedules from/to the island August 14-18, 2019.