The Chandris Lines story
Maritime Historian Bill Miller.
The information below
is from the book "The Chandris Liners" by William H. Miller.
The book is available from:
Carmania Press, Unit 224, Station House,49, Greenwich High
Road, London, SE10 8JL.
ISBN: 0 9518656 2 5.
The Founder of Chandris, Mr. John D. Chandris, had many years of shipping experience
before he bought his first vessel, the sailing ship Dimitrios in 1915. The First
World War did not interrupt his fortunes and soon after he purchased three other
ships, his first steamers: the Dimitrios the second, the Vlassios and the Eugenia.
His scope of trade was in and around the Greek islands. He then entered passenger
shipping in 1922 with the steamer Chimara, a 300-tonner that ran a coastal service
between Piraeus and Corinth. hIn 1936, he bought his largest ship to date, the
1,306-ton Corte II from French owners and renamed her Patris.
This was actually the very beginning of a Chandris passenger service, although the
Corte II was not operated under the Chandris Lines name. Carrying 161 all one
class passengers, she operated something of a combination passenger-cruise service
out of Venice to other Adriatic ports, the Greek islands and Piraeus, and as
far as the Holy Land. John Chandris died at the end of the Second World War,
but his two sons, Anthony and Dimitri, then living in London, began to rebuild
the company and later develop it as the largest Greek passenger shipping firm.
In 1959 Chandris bought the Union Castle motor ship Bloemfontein Castle with
the intention of inaugurating a service to Australia. Operating under the name
of the Greek Australia Line the company sent the ship to Newcastle-On-Tyne,
England, for an extensive refit. Renamed the Patris(16
259 tons ) she made her first voyage from Piraeus via Suez to Freemantle, Melbourne
and Sydney in November 1959.The Patris in fact never took part when the service
became extended to run from Southampton to Australia. The first to do so was
the Brittany(16 644 tons) a twin-screwed, single-reduction
geared turbine vessel built in 1952 by the Penhoet Company, St Nazaire, France.
She was chartered by Chandris in 1960 and began her service from Piraeus, Greece,
to Australian ports in 1961. This was the beginning of the company's long association
with the Australian migrant and tourist trades. Another major purchase was the
American Lurline, which became the highly popular Ellinis,
and which started the Chandris around-the-World service in 1963. Sailings to
Australia went outbound via the Suez (and later South Africa) and then returned
via the Panama Canal. After this, more and more attention was given to developing
cruise services as part of the Chandris operation. More purchases and so more
conversions, a highly praised Chandris speciality. There were ships like the
Romantica, the Fiesta
and the Fantasia, and such other notable acquisitions
as the former President Hoover(later the Regina).
Chandris lines bought the Queen Frederica in
1966 and after fully modernising her with room for 1200 one-class passengers
she left for Southampton in October 1966 to join the rest of the Australian
fleet. She left service in January 1971, and was scrapped in 1977. But perhaps
the biggest expansion came in 1969-`70 when four ships joined the fleet within
a matter of months: the Fiorita, the Romanza,
the Atlantis and the Britanis.
A few years later, by 1976, Chandris had the largest passenger-cruise fleet
in the world, surpassing the prior records held by the likes of Cunard, P&O
and Union Castle. That year, there were thirteen active Chandris passenger ships
in all: The Australis, Britanis, Ellinis, Patris, Victoria,
Amerikanis, Romanza, Regina Prima, Bon Vivant,
Fiorita, Romantica, Fiesta and finally the little Radiosa. That same year Lloyd's
review did a cover story on Chandris. They were carrying 500,000 passengers
a year in ships with a total gross tonnage of over 185, 000. Lloyd's wrote,
"The most impressive fact in the annals of economic progress in post-war
Greece is the speed with which the renaissance of her merchant fleet has taken
place". To those who know Greek shipping, this is quite understandable, for
the sea has been at the heart of the Aegean life through 30 centuries or more.
In times of war, Greece, and in particular the island of Chios, has supplied
men and ships in plenty.
It is not surprising, therefore, that a name often mentioned with Greek shipping-Chandris-was
born in Chios. Nor is it surprising that the most successful passenger ship
operator in modern times should be Chandris. Part of this success, besides a
passenger sales policy of working almost exclusively through travel agents throughout
the world, had to do with the care with which Chandris bought ships, and with
an eye to their itineraries and destinations, as well as the refurbishing of
the ships periodically at Chandris` own shipyard-all this giving Chandris quality
control over their product and operations, and in general making them a most
unique company".< While Chandris turned to Greek hotels on shore in 1973, they also began to strengthen
their American cruise operations. A partnership called Chandris-Fantasy Cruises
started in the early 1980s and later was divided into two separate arms of the
Chandris Group, Fantasy-Cruises and then the more up-market Celebrity
cruises. Soon after, in 1990, Chandris commissioned their first brand new,
purposely-built ships, the sisters Horizon and Zenith. Three even larger luxury
cruise ships are on order as of 1993. In 1995, Chandris Shipping interests will
reach their eightieth year. Combining the cruise ships, separate fleets of freighters
and tankers and speciality carriers as well as hotels, John D. Chandris could
not have imagined that his company would have blossomed into such a great success.
Photos in the links above are taken from the book "The Chandris Liners" by Bill Miller.
I am indebted to Bill Miller for the support he has provided in terms of giving permission to use some of his personal photos and information [these are subject to strict copyright].
Many thanks to Bill Miller.
©All photos and information on this page are subject to copyright.