In the month of April I made a week-long trip with Michel, discovering German aviation history in Friedrichshafen, Danish railway history in Odense and navigating the sea to discover some Estonian history in Tallinn.
I had been nagging Michel into trying out a cruise for months, so he suggested we could maybe try out the Tallink Ferry from Stockholm to Tallinn as we both hadn’t been there yet. After letting it sink in for a while, the idea is was anchored down and we booked a ‘mini cruise’ from Stockholm to Tallinn and back. As both sailings where overnight this meant we would have a full day on shore in Tallinn.
We landed in Stockholm Bromma Airport after flying BRA from Malmö and took the airport shuttle bus towards Stockholm City, the city’s main bus terminal. As this is part of Stockholm’s main public transport hub we could easily change onto the metro taking us towards the port. Tallink leaves from the new Värtahamnen ferry terminal, which is closest to the Gardat metro station on the Red Line’s number 13 branch to Ropsten.
After exiting the station you walk a short stretch along the streets before crossing a park from where a pedestrian walkway takes you across the harbour towards the new ferry terminal. It is quite a long walk, so leave plenty of time to make it.
Upon entering the terminal you can either queue at the manned check-in counters (like we did) or use on of the self-check-in machines.
As there were three ships (ours to Tallinn, one to Riga and one to Helsinki) where leaving at the same time, the terminal was quite busy. Because we booked a return trip ‘mini cruise’ we were checked in for both legs at the same time and we wouldn’t have to check-in again in Tallinn and as we kept the same cabin we could leave our bags on the ship.
Boarding was through automated gates which you opened using the barcode on you boarding pass after which you needed to take the right turn to walk through the walkways to the correct ship.
As our ship, the MS Victoria I was docked in front of the terminal we did not have to walk far. When setting foot on the ship the ships security double checked whether we were boarding the correct ship.
Once on board we climbed up to deck 9 on the top of the ship where our cabin was located. We splashed out and booked a Deluxe Cabin with an outside window. It was recently refurbished and decorated in a slightly more modern style. It featured a double bed, a desk area with the mini-bar underneath, a small seating bench and a closet to store your stuff. In the closet you could also find the towels and extra pillows.
The contents of the minibar was complimentary but was not restocked in Tallinn.
The bathroom was a very basic affair, even smaller than I experienced in ships before. The shower was not in a separate shower cabin but just used a curtain to protect the rest of the bathroom of splashing water, the floor was essentially one big shower drain.
In normal cabins only soap dispensers are provided, but in the deluxe cabin you get an extra basket with more toiletries, like a dental kit, some soap bars, shampoo and shower gel.
All in all I was pretty satisfied with the deluxe room and it certainly is worth to pay the premium for it.
As the ship makes a pretty lengthy 16 hours overnight crossing there are of course a number of facilities on-board. There is the obligatory duty-free shop (only opened when in full sea).
There is also a theatre where you can watch a live performance every night, a small casino (where smoking is allowed) and a disco to party all night long.
You can also relax at the spa and wellness centre, which offers a sauna, a steam bath and a Jacuzzi along with a range of different beauty treatments.
To keep you from getting hungry there are a number of different food and beverage options to choose from. On the lower level there is a fast-food style self-service canteen, offering a number of cheap meal options.
On the main deck you have the remainder of the restaurants. There is the very upmarket Gourmet Victoria restaurant, offering a multi course meal by a famous chef.
The slightly less expensive Grill House offering a range of a la carte dishes.
You also have small café offering speciality coffees, sandwiches and cakes. Most people (just like we did) visited the buffet restaurant.
Basic drinks like house wines, beers, soft drinks, water, coffee and tea where complimentary.
The buffet was divided into different sections. You had an appetizer section, a salad bar, a meat section, a cheese section and some desserts on the main central displays. You had a big fish section opposite the main display, which offered the best dishes in the entire restaurant and the fresh fish was delicious!
Tucked away in a corner where also a kids section and a world kitchen section.
If you wanted you could order some speciality coffees and a bigger drink selection to the waiters, at an extra cost of course. While the quality of the food was ok, the offer was exactly the same both ways. It was not a very remarkable buffet, but for the price quality ratio it was more than acceptable.
In the morning most people went to have breakfast in the main buffet restaurant as well, but as we booked a deluxe cabin we had a complimentary ‘special’ breakfast which was served in the Grill House Restaurant.
We were welcomed there by a glass of mediocre sparkling wine, and tea and coffee where brought to us by the waiter.
If you wanted you could have some eggs made to order, brought to you. All the rest of the breakfast was served in a buffet style. As the special breakfast is consider a more upmarket affair you also had some premium items like caviar and foie gras on the buffet.
Otherwise it was a pretty standard breakfast buffet which you would expect to receive in the Nordic countries. The biggest advantage of the special breakfast was that it was a much quieter and more relaxed environment to have breakfast than at the main buffet.
All in all taking the ferry from Stockholm to one of the destinations across the Baltic Sea is definably a civilised and convenient way to discover another city on a daytrip. We spent the day in Tallinn and we saw everything that interested us there.
Have you ever travelled on a ferry and how did you experience it? Let us know in the comments below!