A Historic Return
After four decades of distinguished service around the Adriatic, the Neraida Floating Museum made its historic return trip to Leonidio. From the 1st to the 8th of September, this unique piece of living history docked in order to offer members of the public free tours of the ship, as well as offering several maritime exhibitions and educational activities for children. During its time in the idyllic town, the Neraida drew impressive crowds as citizens and tourists alike took the chance to immerse themselves in Adriatic history.
The vessel was converted into a mobile museum in 2010 in order to memorialise the life’s work of John S. Latsis, an instrumental figure in 20th century Greek commerce, as well as praising the rich history of the vessel itself. His son, Spiro Latsis, an entrepreneur and prominent figure in the Greek shipping industry, spearheaded the restoration of his father’s ship. In addition to its historical value, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation created the Neraida as a tool for sharing and exploring the past and present work of The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, which has various educational and humanitarian projects throughout Greece and beyond.
An Adriatic Origin Story
Originally sailing under the name ‘Laurana’ in 1939, the vessel had a variety of uses throughout World War 2 as a cargo and rescue ship before being captured by the British, whereupon it became a part of the Allied war effort. The enterprising John S. Latsis purchased the boat in 1949 and refitted her under the name ‘Neraida’. For a quarter of a century the Neraida was an instrumental part of Adriatic society, facilitating the lives and prosperity of locals and tourists alike through freight and passenger transportation. Among these many islands and archipelagoes such a vessel was a social and economic lifeline. It was during this time that her points of service were expanded to include Leonidio, among others, whom she now re-visits in an echo of her past.
The Neraida was retired in 1974 and lay dormant for thirty six years, preserved as is by John S. Latsis out of respect for its crucial part in his life’s success. Four years after John Latsis’ death the son of the shipping tycoon, Spiro Latsis, had the vessel resurrected in 2010 as ‘The Neraida Floating Museum’ after careful restoration at NCP shipyards in Sibenik, Croatia.
The Maritime Museum
For the past five years The Neraida Floating Museum has returned to the waters of its youth, revitalised by its new historic purpose and laden with memories rather than cargo. The museum continues to expand its past range, from destinations such as Methana, Spetses and Aegina, to its recent and significant return to Leonidio, forty years later.
The ship itself is a stunning snapshot of 20th Century shipbuilding, as the core character has been preserved and augmented for the appreciation of maritime enthusiasts as well as that of any member of the public who walks its gangplank. Within the vessel the museum itself has been carefully constructed with a wealth of detail, exploring every part of its illustrious career from wartime missions to present day activities, and everything in between. Perhaps most importantly the ship educates guests on current affairs as well as past exploits, with the exhibition on the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation being the main attraction for many visitors.
The non-profit organisation was founded in 2005 to commemorate and continue the work of its namesake, John S. Latsis. With projects spanning across environmental conservation, social welfare programmes, affirmative educational schemes and cultural celebrations, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation is a true force in maintaining the vitality of Greece and the region as a whole.
Past, Present and Future of ‘The Little Ship’
The Neraida Floating Museum docked in the port of Plaka, Leonidio from the 1st to the 8th of September 2015. During this time hundreds of visitors marveled at this vibrant memento of the 20th Century, whether it be a local stepping back into their childhood or a family of tourists gaining a true insight into Adriatic history.
If you didn’t manage to catch the Neraida during its stop in Leonidio, there are plenty more chances to do so as it continues the retracing of its old shipping routes far into the future.
The Neraida Floating Museum has a range of activities and exhibitions on offer for all ages. For more information on future schedules and the ship itself, you can visit The Neraida’s official site.