When I asked the owner of my hostel for directions to the port he drew a quick route on my map. “Ten minutes max” he promised me, “Twenty if you get super lost. But you won’t; the ships are huge so you will see them a mile away.”
I gave myself the 20 minutes figuring that I am the kind of traveller who gets ‘super lost’. Besides, I didn’t quite believe him about seeing the ship from a mile away. Turns out he was right though, because only a blind person could miss it.
It was early morning at the end of March. I had just arrived in Tallinn, Estonia the night before but was headed to Helsinki, Finland for the day. When originally researching destinations for my trip I was told that I really only needed one day in Helsinki as it was relatively small. At first it sounded great; I loved the idea of Scandinavia but the hated the price tags associated with it, so being able to see pretty much everything in a day sounded like a fantastic budget-friendly compromise. But the more I looked into hostels and flights, the less sense it made to visit for only one day- it was just too expensive. I had nearly given up on seeing Finland when I came across Tallink Silja; a ferry line that would allow me to go from Tallinn to Helsinki for a day trip.
The more I looked into this Tallinn to Helsinki day trip option the more excited I got. The route was offered by three separate ships with a varied timetable and a promise that the transfer between cities would only take approximately two hours. The ships were large enough that I didn’t have to worry about any weather restrictions, and offered plenty of services on board to pass the time. A day in Helsinki and my first real ferry ride? Sounded like a great plan to me!
My trip from Tallinn to Helsinki was aboard the Star with a scheduled departure for 10:30am. As requested, I arrived thirty minutes early and breezed through the check-in and boarding. My Star Class ticket didn’t come with specific seating arrangements but allowed me to wander and explore the ship and take advantage of any of the free seating I found along the way. I spent the majority of my time exploring what the Star had to offer; perusing through the perfumes, watches, and jewellery, in the shop, watching fellow passengers test their luck at the onboard slot machines, and lounging for a while on a comfortable seat with my book.
When I was hungry I had my choice between an a-la-carte restaurant, a pizza or hamburger spot, the grocery store, or a buffet. I took advantage of the buffet and for 11.50 euro had my pick of breakfast type foods such as scrambled eggs, potato wedges, and porridge, or lunch options including salads, bread, cold meats, smoked salmon and cheeses. Coffee, tea, juices, and soft drinks were included in the price, while alcoholic beverages such as beer, cocktails, and spirits could be purchased at an additional cost. Although food and drink had to be consumed in the dining area, there was plenty of space for everyone. I grabbed a seat an open table by the front window and relaxed for the remainder of the journey, watching as the skyline of Helsinki came into view.
To ensure I got the most out of my 1 day in Helsinki I took the second last ferry back to Tallinn, this time on the SuperStar ship. Departure was at 7:30 though since most things in Helsinki close by 6pm I got there pretty early. As such, boarding wasn’t yet open but it didn’t bother anyone as we were all preoccupied with the absolutely stunning sunset out the windows.
Like the Star, the Superstar offers a shop, a grocery store, and a variety of dining options. Many were content with grabbing a sandwich or salad from the cafeteria, while those looking for more of a meal headed to the a-la-carte restaurant, or dinner buffet (25 euro a person). The most popular spot, however, was the Dolce Vita Bar. Located at the bow of the ship this was the perfect place to grab a drink and watch the world go by.
After exploring this new ship I took advantage of my Comfort Class pass and headed the lounge. I was greeted by a friendly staff member, who after quickly checking my ticket, led me inside and pointed out the free snack bar. Non-alcoholic beverages such as juices and sodas were free, along with a variety of light snacks including vegetables, crackers, and biscuits. We also had the use of a coffee machine to make espresso, lattes, hot chocolates, or teas. For those looking for something more, alcoholic beverages and meal options were available for purchase at the bar.
Relaxing in the Comfort Class lounge was the perfect way to end a busy but exciting day in Helsinki. And though, by this time, it was a little too dark to see outside, the TVs were showing an ice hockey game; the perfect entertainment for this Canadian girl!
To plan your own trip from Tallinn to Helsinki, or to learn more about Tallink Silja and their routes please visit their website at: http://www.tallinksilja.com/
This post was written in collaboration with the Tallink Silja Ferry lines, but as always, all opinions are my own.