The ship named “Laurana” was built at the Cantieri Navali del Quarnaro shipyard in the then-Italian Fiume (today's Rijeka, Croatia) between 1938 and 1939. Immediately after her construction, she was used to serve ferry routes along the Adriatic ports.
World War II
With the outbreak of World War II, the Laurana participated in operations of war as a rescue ship, as her fast and flexible hull allowed her to easily move among shipwrecks and collect survivors and wounded to transport them to the floating hospitals of the Italian navy. It is noteworthy that at the end of the war the other six rescue ships and the floating hospitals had been lost and only the Laurana was saved, although it was taken by ships of the British fleet near Malta. For the following years, until the end of 1949, it was used on the Malta-Syracuse ferry connection.
The acquisition of Neraida by John Latsis
John Latsis bought the Laurana in December 1949 from a Maltese ferry company, and early next year she sailed for the first time in the Argosaronic Gulf under the name she had received from her Italian owners about ten years before. She was renamed "Neraida" by Nicholas Plastiras in a ceremony held at the port of Hydra and after a roll-call vote held at sea.
The ship’s most frequent route was Piraeus - Aegina - Methana - Poros - Hydra - Ermioni - Spetses, although many times she laid anchor in Leonidio and Monemvasia, as well as in Nafplio, Salamina and Epidavros. In addition to running regular routes, the deck of the Neraida hosted social events, night cruises and balls.
In her roughly 25 year career in the Argosaronic Gulf, she had the opportunity to star, during the 1950s and 1960s, in numerous Greek films and also, in 1957, in Jean Negulesco's Hollywood production "Boy on a Dolphin", starring Sophia Loren, Alan Ladd and Clifton Webb.