Tallink Cruiseferries: Connecting The Baltic Region
Though air travel is booming across Europe as it is in the rest of the world, some parts of the Old World offer the chance to travel by other means of transport. In northern Europe especially, where the seafaring culture lives on to this day, travel across the water is a popular way to go from Point A to Point B. Tallink is one of the largest ferry companies in the Baltic Sea region, connecting the region’s major cities on schedules convenient for both business and leisure travellers. As a recent overnight trip from Stockholm to Tallinn on board the company’s Victoria I revealed, the Tallink experience is quite different from the Manly ferry.
To begin with, the Victoria I is a full-size, oceangoing ship with 700 cabins. Royal Suite 8104 at the very front of the ship faces forward and therefore offers the same views as the bridge. For cruise passengers accustomed to seeing the world pass by sideways, it is a nice change to be facing forward. The suite is spacious by ship standards, with separate living room, bedroom, and even a small foyer of sorts. The suites at the front of the ship are located in a section of the deck separated from the other cabins by doors, so the only people in this area are people staying in the suites.
On board, there are several restaurants, a casino, nightclub, spa, and of course, duty-free shopping. In a part of the world where high taxes are levied on certain items such as alcohol, the prices are remarkably low; from the sighting of many shoppers filling their carts with a variety of goods, it seems Tallink passengers are very pleased with their purchases. The enjoyment of travel by Tallink ferry, though, begins even before the ship sets sail. The convenient location of the Tallink terminal on the edge of central Stockholm, the absence of stressful airport security, and the ability to show up only an hour before departure makes the pre-sailing experience very easy. As all over Scandinavia, internet and apps make arrangements very easy to put in place, with ticketing, meal vouchers, drink vouchers, and other services on board able to be pre-booked at the time of reservation (or anytime thereafter). Dining options on the ship include a fast-food eatery, a pub, a grillhouse, and a deluxe gourmet restaurant with an impressively indulgent menu, so there is a place for every mood.
Once on board, the beautiful scenery of the Swedish coast provides an agreeable backdrop to the cruise experience. At the front of the ship on a high deck, there is no engine noise at all and sleep is peaceful and restful. The next morning’s arrival in Tallinn is a mirror image of the Stockholm departure, with Tallink‘s terminal being within easy walking distance of Tallinn’s beautiful Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and no arrival procedures whatsoever. Because Sweden and Estonia are both part of the Schengen area, there are no formalities on arrival; just walk off the ship and start enjoying the rich history of Tallinn.
Tallink and its subsidiary Silja Line have several routes connecting various cities in the Baltic region. From Stockholm, Tallink also provides a direct ferry to Riga, the capital of Latvia, which like Estonia is celebrating its 100 years of independence in 2018, meaning there are many festivals and special events taking place in both countries over the coming months.
For residents of Australia, the idea of a ship being a means of transport for anything other than an extended cruise is almost exotic. In countries bordering The Baltic Sea, though, transport by ship is a common choice for regional travel thanks to the convenience, comfort, and total absence of stress.