Ferries & Excursion Ships
The Spanish port of Vigo is sited on the shores of a great natural harbour, which is sheltered from Atlantic storms by the Cies Islands. In summer, regular excursions are run to these islands. There are also year-round local ferry services to Cangas and Moana, both towns on the opposite side of the bay. I have visited Vigo four times on P&O cruises, in 1999 & 2003 on Oriana, and in 2000 & 2002 on Aurora. In 1997, the local services were run by a varied fleet of conventional ferries mainly run by Vapores de Pasaje. In 2000, these had all been replaced with a fleet of new fast ferries run by Naviera Mar de Ons. I decided to produce this page showing both the old and new fleets, since I have found no detailed information sources on Vigo ferries elsewhere. A new page has been created for the 2003 visit
Sections on this Web Page:-
Port of Vigo - overview of port
Vapores de Pasaje - Primary local operator on my first visit in 1997
Naviera Mar de Ons - 2002 ferry and excursion operator
Other Operators
Associated Web Pages:-
Naviera Mar de Ons - 2003 visit to Vigo
Aurora's Third Cruise - Includes pictures of Aurora at Vigo
Simplon Postcards Home Page - Official Naviera Mar de Ons website
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The Port of Vigo
The first pictures show two general views of Vigo harbour from opposite directions, taken from commercial postcards. Both views show the ocean terminal - the long building next to the Ellinis in the second picture. The white structures to either side of the central terminal building have since been demolished.
British liners have long called at Vigo en route for the East, Africa and South America. This tradition is maintained by frequent visits by P&O Cruises vessels sailing out of Southampton. The following cards show the Royal Mail Liner Alcantara at Vigo, in cards 93 & 94 published by Galicia Touristica.
A commercial postcard by Edicion La Ciudad de Londres showing an old steam ferry on the Vigo-De Moana route.
These two pictures, also from commercial postcards, show an early generation of ferries at the local ferry terminal. None of these old ferries survives today.
The next two pictures of the ferry terminal are photographs that I took in 1997, for comparison with those above.
Vapores de Pasaje
The main operator of excursion trips in 1997 was Vapores de Pasaje, who ran services from Vigo and Baiona to Islas Cies. The following page is from their 1997 brochure. The four largest units of the fleet at the time are shown, and my photographs of all four are shown below. The year of my visit, 1997, had seen the start of competition at Vigo from Naviera Mar de Ons, which had been formed in 1993 to operate services to the north of Vigo. 1997 was to be the final year for Vapores de Pasaje, and some of their excursion fleet passsed to Naviera Mar de Ons.
Two ships operate the main services to Islas Cies. The most impressive is a large catamaran, named, logically, Catamaran. I have only seen similar ferries along the coast of Poland (a page on these is under construction). Catamaran was laid up when I visted in January 2002 (although she would be anyway at this time of the year). She may have been replaced by a large fast catamaran of Naviera Mar de Ons.
The other Islas Cies ferry is the more conventional Islas Ficas, shown below.
The following four pictures show Islas Ficas at the pier on Islas Cies. These are from commercial postcards, with enlargements of the ship in each case.
In January 2002, Islas Ficas had received a new blue livery.
Ownership had been transferred to Naviera Mar de Ons.
In 1997, the Villa de Cangas ran ferry trips to the town of the same name on the opposite shore of the harbour, working the service opposite the Crucero de Hio. The Vigo Ocean Terminal is shown in the background of the second picture.
The Crucero de Hio, which shared the Cangas services with the Villa de Cangas shown above.
Three smaller Vapores de Pasaje vessels were also in service on local trips during my visit in 1997. The V.P.Sampayo and the Esturion shared services from Vigo to Moana. This is the V.P.Sampayo.
This is the Esturion, also on the Vigo-Moana service.
The O Montalegre was out of use alongside the ferry terminal on both my visits. These pictures were taken in 2000. The Vapores de Pasaje symbol is visible on the bow.
Naviera Mar de Ons
Traditional Ferries - August 1997
When I visited Vigo in 1997, a second operator was running a collection of chartered vessels in direct competition with the Vapores de Pasaje. This operator was Naviera Mar de Ons, and they had stated competition with Vapores de Pasaje that year. They ran the Bahia de Santander and the Jackelin on the Cangas service, and the Kon Tiki on the Moana route. The Bahia de Santander, registered in the port of that name, was the attractive craft shown in the photos below. The first picture shows the Bahia de Santander leaving Cangas ahead of the Crucero de Hio at the start of their 'race' back to Vigo. Competition was fierce on shore too, with both companies employing teams of attractive young women to hand out brochures and persuade potential customers (in a rather forceful manner) to use the services of their own company. The competition was short-lived, with Naviera Mar de Ons taking over all services the following year.
In January 2002, Bahia de Santander was advertised as running whale and dolphin trips from Tenerife, still operated by Naviera Mar de Ons.
The Jackelin was a rather ill-matched partner to the vessel above on the Vigo-Cangas service. The competitor's vessels tended to leave each port just before the Vapores de Pasaje service. The two ferries then raced across, with the Vapores de Pasaje vessel just managing to overhaul its rival before they reached the other side. The Jackelin was registered in Illa de Aousa, Galicia. The third picture below shows the Jackelin leaving Vigo, whilst the fourth picture shows the town of Cangas in the background.
The Kon Tiki was more successful in its races to and from Moana, and is shown arriving at Vigo in the lead in the third picture below. This vessel was registered in Alicante. In January 2002, she had received a new blue and white livery.
Naviera Mar de Ons
Fast Ferries - May 2000
When I returned to Vigo in May 2000, everything had changed on the Vigo-Cangas and Vigo-Moana ferry routes, with all the traditional vessels seen in 1997 being replaced by four fast ferries operated by Naviera Mar de Ons. Two larger Naviera Mar de Ons fast ferries were operating on the Vigo-Cangas ferry route. One was named Mar de Cangas (first two photos). The third picture shows the second ferry Mar de Mouro.
Two smaller Naviera Mar de Ons fast ferries were operating on the Vigo-Moana ferry route, named Mar Cies (first photo) and Mar Onza (second and third photos). In 2003 there was another similar (or renamed) ferry in service, the Mar Salvora.
January 2002 Visit
I returned again to Vigo in January 2002 on Aurora, on a wet and dismal day. There had been no apparent changes on the local ferry services, but a large new catamaran Arroios was available for excursion services, and Islas Ficas had received a new blue livery. Ownership of the latter had transferred to Naviera Mar de Ons. Both are shown below.
Eje Flodstrom believes that the Arroios is the former Capricorn Reefseeker II that he photographed in Lisboa 1997.
It was designed by Lock Crowther, and built by Precision Marine, Australia in 1987 and eventually bought by Transtejo (Lisbon) in 1997.
October 2003 Visit
I visited Vigo a fourth time in October 2003 on the Oriana.
A new page has been created for this visit
Other Operators - 1997
This vessel was passed as we left Vigo in 1997 on the Oriana. It appeared to be running between Islas Cies and Vigo, but I could ascertain neither its name nor owner. The emblem on the bow is unlike any of the other vessels seen. Any help with its identification would be appreciated.
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