Winds, Ferry Boat Problems Strand Tourists on Samothraki


File photo by Thanasis Dimopoulos/Eurokinissi.

Adding to summer tourism woes that saw a famous model tell people to avoid Greece after being robbed, and early wet weather cutting expectations of another record year, bad publicity piled on after hundreds of tourists were stranded for days on the island of Samothraki because of windy weather and ferry boat breakdowns.

The problems continued on Aug. 14 with the port on the island in the northeastern Aegean, which has connections to Alexandroupolis clogged with long lines of people waiting to get off and hotel owners fretting arrivals who'd made reservations couldn't get there.

A replacement ferry, the Zefyros, finally made it to the island, the first in nine days but could take only 140 of the 1000 people waiting, said media reports.

Another ferry arrived later in the day was designed to take vehicles and could only handle a limited number of passengers with confusion and frustration giving the new New Democracy government its first embarrassment as officials were preoccupied with scores of fires around the country and dealing with that.

A high-speed Andros Jet catamaran chartered by local authorities was also sent with no explanation why it took nine days and no one blamed for anything. The Andros Jet will make three journeys a day to Samothraki from the port to Alexandroupolis. It has a passenger capacity of 600 and can carry 75 vehicles.

Witnesses said the island’s port looked like a giant parking lot filled with vehicles and travelers who had no idea when they'd be getting off or how they were being accommodated waiting for days for someone to do something and hotel owners talking of “an economic disaster,” said the business newspaper Naftemporiki. Local authorities provided free meals to those stranded to help compensate.