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Cruising to Sweden

February 4, 2015

(Sorry I haven’t written lately – busy and distracted…)

I know this is something I haven’t blogged about yet.

It is really easy and relatively inexpensive to travel on short holiday hops to Tallinn, Estonia or Stockholm, Sweden by cruise boats (or fast boats to Tallinn). The selection of cruising options has increased over the past few years and it is also possible to go to St. Petersburg, Riga and locations in Germany and Poland (I believe).

Going on a Silja Line (Tallink) or Viking boat cruise to Sweden is a favourite past time of many Finns. It’s fun now and then to get away from it all and enjoy good food and drinks and the entertainment.

A cruise from Helsinki to Stockholm is two nights on the boat and a day trip in the city. It’s a great opportunity to take in some of the sights and enjoy the time away from the rat race. My favourite part of Stockholm (though I have to admit I have spent little time exploring anything outside of the old town area) is Gamla Stan, the old town of Stockholm.

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We went this past weekend, for the first time in ages. The Little Miss was so excited the day that we left that she woke up realllly early.

The weather was really windy and the seas were rough. Staff at the reception desk give “sea sick” pills to anyone who may need them. I took them, because I did notice the rough seas, it was kinda hard to put out of my head. Our (window) cabin was right at the front of the boat, so the sound of the hull hitting the waves was pretty loud sometimes. I must admit, I didn’t sleep well because of the rough (and noisy) seas.

Our cabin was great! This is the second or third time we have had a cabin with a window. Even though it was night time when we embarked on our cruise, you could still see outside. It was nice to sit in silence and gaze out the window. My favourite part of the cruise is sailing in and out through the Stockholm archipelago. It is so nice!

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Virtually all cruises headed from Finland to Sweden stop in Maarianhamina (the capital of the autonomous Ahvenanmaa Islands), which enables passengers to shop tax-free under EU rules.

There were plenty of things to do for kids on board: the playroom, scavenger hunting, shopping in the store, karaoke, swinging with the band, family-friendly shows and performances and so on…

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When in Stockholm we took in the Vasa museum, which is arguably one of the country’s busiest museums. You can easily spend a few hours there examining and reading everything about the ill-fated ship. Downtown Stockholm is spread out among several islands and you can even get around by water taxi to cut down on what would be some long walking trips. If you’re an architecture buff, Gamla Stan, the old town is a great place to go. If you can avoid some of the cheesy souvenir shops on the main street, it is actually a cool place to visit. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants to please anyone’s taste.

This being the first cruise with the Little Miss since she was a baby meant a whole different outlook as a parent this time around. And I can warn you about one thing right now: Do not (and you should not) leave your kids alone anywhere on these boats. On the trip to Sweden and the return trip to Finland, we had adults who were incredibly interested in the Little Miss… When we were at supper, some guy kept tapping her on the shoulder every time he walked by. (?!) In the karaoke club (which is all ages), I was incredibly taken aback by the behaviour some men who were out on the dance floor dancing with little kids (who were obviously not their own). One parent put a stop to it rather quickly. Kids are cute and all, but come on – dance with people your own age. Watch your kids like a hawk!

I asked other foreigners living in Finland what they thought about cruising between Finland and Sweden (and other places). “Hey! I will be writing a blog post about cruising by boat to Sweden and Tallinn. Are there any favourite things you like about boat cruises? Anything you want to warn people about? Would love to hear from you!

Here is a selection of their (paraphrased) responses, many thanks to everyone who responded!

Maybe drunken behaviour on board? Could be risky for cruise safety.

We do a family cruise during the summer to Stockholm when the Moomins are on board. Fun for the whole family.

Taking a dog with you is a nightmare. Unless you get put near the potty areas. They have a small sand box but usually you find beer cans and cig butts in it….

On the Viking Helsinki-Sweden trip, I was really impressed by all the activities for the kids. My daughter had such great fun doing arts and crafts, making buttons and swimming on the ship. She couldn’t have been happier.

We always take a private sauna when we go over a weekend. A great way to relax and unwind after the work week. But pricey!

We did the St. Peter line last year, and the cabin bunks were so, so, so uncomfortable. I had to beg for extra duvets to cushion it with. But overall the cruise was fun.

I love the sheets… They are so soft!!! The second best thing is the buffet but it has become a bit costly…

My advice would be to go during the week if you want peace and quiet. The sauna on Viking Gabriella was next to empty, too (price 8 euros/person). There is a small steam room as well as Jacuzzis. Loved it.

Depends on when you go but in the summer just standing on the deck, feeling the breeze and looking at the view is amazing! Besides that, the return trip its funny to see how many people buy loads and loads of alcohol.

Got fairly ill (flu) on the Gabriella (Viking Line) to Stockholm. Our cabin was nice enough considering cheap price.

The ‘entertainment’ can be really awful! (Viking Line overnight FIN-SWE / SWE/FIN). The best thing for me was buffet breakfast looking out the window at Swedish coast.

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