An Added Touch of Class
Sleek and sparkling white, the twin ferries of the Silja Line are more like cruise ships than passenger/car ferries plying the pristine waters between Helsinki and Stockholm and vice versa.
John Newton stepped aboard Silja Serenade and spent two nights sailing between the Finnish and Swedish capitals, including a six-hour whirlwind tour of Stockholm before re-joining to the ship for the return voyage.
Silja Serenade and Silja Symphony are the only vessels sailing the Baltic Sea with a ship length (142 metres), glass-roofed promenade in the heart of the ship, lined by smart shops and restaurants.
The 58,300-tonne sister ships were built 27 years ago, but you'd never guess their age as they look as elegant on the outside and they do on the inside. Each can carry more than 2800 passengers and have almost 1000 cabins – from standard to renewed deluxe and suites – with half the 40 cabins in Commodore class having balconies.
For an added touch of class, the Commodore lounge has men's and women's saunas.
According to Silja Line, which this year is celebrating its 60th year of operation, the new direction of its business lounges offer passengers the opportunity to work on board and use modern communication equipment. Each ship also features 24 conference rooms.
While their mind-boggling promenade is the eye-catcher, the on-board seven restaurants – some featuring mouth-watering Scandinavian seafood, especially in the award-winning Happy Lobster - plus world-class entertainment, giant spa and huge duty free shopping outlets, put them in a class of their own when it comes to ferry travel.
But it's not only the on-board facilities on the two Silja ferries that attract thousands of locals and tourists alike to both the Finnish and Swedish capitals. The ferries' weave their way around one the world's most spectacular archipelago's – the 6500 Aland islands - taking in breathtaking scenery on the 16-hour, 490-kilometre sailing between Helsinki and Stockholm.
The stunning island views from high on deck showcase the stylish getaway homes of many Swedes – and Finns - who spend their spare time away from their city jobs enjoying their national pastime - on the water.
Silja Serenade and Silja Symphony sail every day to and from Helsinki and Stockholm – even in icy waters during winter - that's when you'll sail through endless ice fields with jaw-dropping sculptures in the pack ice,“The vessels are equipped with a strong ice class, which means we can sail all year round and are not hampered by ice,” the company says.
Silj Line is a Finnish brand operated by the Estonian company – AS Tallink Grupp - which has a fleet of nine cruise ferries and four fast ro-pax vessels, including the new generation LNG-powered - Megastar. With seating for 2800 passengers, the Finnish-built 212-metre long vessel takes just two hours from Helsinki to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. Megastar has the largest shopping mall on the Baltic Sea, with an area of 2800 square metres on two floors.
As well as the Helsinki-Stockholm and Helsinki-Tallinn ferries, the group also run ferries between Turku (Finland) and Stockholm and Stockholm-Riga and Stockholm-Tallinn.
For more details of prices and departure times, go to www.tallinksilja.com
Scandinavia's largest city, Stockholm - with its 750-year history and rich cultural life - is built on 14 islands connected by 57 bridges. Don't miss the Abba and Vasa museums.
Originally a fishing town, Helsinki's city centre is dominated by majestic cathedrals
Written by John Newton
Feature supplied: www.wtfmedia.com.au
3. Commodore Suite
4. Junior Suite
5. Happy Lobster Seafood Platter
6. Atlantis Palace