The Neraida ship has become a symbol of the Greek shipping industry for thousands of maritime enthusiasts around the world. With a history of wartime rescue and tourist travel, the Neraida has become a popular and highly regarded attraction since it was reintroduced as a floating museum by The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation (under the supervision of Henrietta, Marianna, Margarita and Spiro Latsis) in 2013.
After its much publicised return to the water, the Neraida made its public debut on a historic return visit to many of its traditional destinations during the summer of 2013. As part of its initial return trip, the ship visited many familiar waters, including the ports of Spetses, Hermione, Hydra and Poros. Since then it has gone on to wow its visitors in every corner of the vast Greek coastline, providing a perfectly reconstructed reminder of the country’s shipping past.
These trips continue today, and in one of its most popular events yet, the Neraida Floating Museum was berthed at the Flisvos Marina between 9 June to 31 July 2016, where locals were treated to an interactive education program that was aimed at addressing children aged between 6 and 12 years old. Entitled Traveling with Neraida, the programme was specifically designed to help introduce young visitors to the history of the iconic ship, while also providing a basic insight into the many aspects of the history of Greek shipping.
Built in 1939, the Neraida was originally used on coastal shipping routes in the Adriatic Sea, but she was also used as a rescue ship during World War II. After being captured by the British, she was used for the coastal service, travelling between Malta and Syracuse. Neraida made her historic entrance into the Latsis family ten years later and was restored ready to take on the Argosaronic Gulf line.
Over the next 25 years, the Neraida serviced a route which carried locals and tourists between some of the most popular local areas including Aegina, Methana, Poros and Hydra. After she was retired, Neraida remained ashore for 35 years. Despite being withdrawn from service, she was carefully looked after by John S. Latsis, who remained fond of the vessel that had helped him launch his business career.
The acquisition of the Neraida marked a turning point for John S. Latsis, who acquired more ships, expending into a significant fleet by the 1960’s. From there he diversified into construction and the oil industry, which prompted the establishment of a number of oil refineries, and finally he moved into the banking sector where he both purchased and established a number of banks to complete his empire. Upon John S. Latsis’ death in 2003, his business was transferred to his family (Henrietta, Marianna, Margarita Spiro Latsis) who took on all aspects of his business life including John S. Latsis’ beloved Neraida.
Four years after the death of its owner, the Neraida was carefully transported to NCP Shipyards in Sibernik, Croatia, where she was respectfully converted into a floating museum. After her conversion, Neraida was returned to the Greek waters and was able to raise the Greek flag once more in the summer of 2013. Revitalised after its conversion, Neraida has become one of the few monuments to remember the golden years of coastal shipping in Greece. Presenting her own history, as well as the history of her owner, the ship provides a glimpse into the world of 20th Century shipbuilding, exploring everything from wartime missions to modern tourist trips. On her inaugural tour of her traditional destinations, she received thousands of locals and tourists, who were desperate to explore the past of this historic monument.
The interior of the ship has also been redesigned to educate visitors on both current and past exploits, with the vessel’s biggest attraction an exhibition on The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation. Set up in 2005 in honour of John S. Latsis, the foundation aims to continue his legacy and fund a range of programmes across many fields, including education, science, health, social welfare, culture and the environment.