Reader, are you sitting comfortably? I hope so, as it’s time for a story about one of my stupidest travel faux pas (and a review of the M/S Viking XPRS service between Tallinn and Helsinki!).
Firstly, a disclaimer. I have very little experience travelling on ferries. The only trips I can remember clearly are those I took between Dover and Calais in the 90s, when I was heading off on a school exchange or going on a shopping adventure to a Calais hypermarché! Ah those were the days, huh?
Anyway, I digress. I point the above out simply to highlight the fact that I’ve never had to book a ferry before. Essentially I’m trying to get away with putting my stupid mistake down to rookie error.
So, the tale begins with a summer trip to Tallinn. Having booked four nights in the Estonian capital we were planning out our itinerary when I had one of my crazy Keri ideas. “Why don’t we do a day trip to Helsinki?!” I declare. At first the family looks at me like I’m crazy, but when I explain it’s only a short two hour ferry trip away they warm to the idea.
Getting engrossed in the idea of our mad Finland adventure, we start looking into ferry times with Viking Line. We discover there’s one that leaves at 8am but there’s also the option of an overnight ferry that gets us in at around the same time.
Joking about how the hell it takes 8 hours to get across the Gulf of Finland when there’s one the following morning that takes just two and half hours, (it must go round in circles, I laugh) I persuade them that the adventure will be even more fun if we do the overnighter, as we’ll fall asleep in one country and wake up in another. Plus there was the added bonus of not having to get up at stupid o’clock in the morning to catch the early ferry.
I’m guessing you’ve already clicked where this story is going. Yes, it was the same bloody ferry. But we didn’t work this out until we were boarding!
Rocking up at 11pm to the very quiet ferry terminal it took us a while to work out what was going on, and it was only when we pinned down a member of staff they explained that you can board the ferry now, but it doesn’t set off till the morning! Ah man, the shame!
Our adventure had turned into a bit of a farce, but we embraced it none the less. Sleepily we headed straight to our four-berth bunk, made up our little beds and crashed out, laughing at our stupidity and reminding ourselves that this would be one of our Tallinn trip’s most memorable moments.
Seven or so hours later we were woken up by the engines kicking in and the ship (finally) moving off. Child one was up and dressed in an instant, keen to explore and also bring the parents some well-needed caffeine. The trials and tribulations of finding me a cup of English Breakfast is a tale for another day (lets just say I was told I’m ‘very scary’ if I don’t get a proper cup of tea!), but here’s my review of the M/S Viking XPRS’ facilities and the journeys between Tallinn and Helsinki themselves.
A review of the M/S Viking XPRS service between Tallinn and Helsinki
Our room on the M/S Viking XPRS
The perfect little family room, our cosy cabin had a wardrobe space, telephone, plug socket, toilet and shower cubicle. We had a standard seaside cabin, which had a lovely large window for us to enjoy. By day the bottom beds could be used as sofas, with the top bunks pushed up out of the way, but at night all four were turned into full-size single beds. Beds that were surprisingly comfy, too!
To be fair we didn’t have the best night’s sleep, but that was down to being overtired and slightly perturbed. However, it was easy to get cosy and comfy and I particularly liked that each bed had its own separate nightlight, meaning we could still read without disturbing each other.
It’s also worth noting that the top bunks were also very safe and secure, which meant the kids had no problem drifting off.
In the morning we were pleasantly surprised by the shower too, leaving us refreshed and ready for a full day of exploring Helskinki.
Reminiscent of the old P&O ferries I’d taken in the past, onboard the M/S Viking XPRS you’ll find all the usual facilities you’d expect from a short-haul ferry. In addition there’s good signage, so it’s easy to find your way around.
There’s a good choice of cafes and restaurants available and lots of seating areas. There are also several shops, a small arcade and a large children’s entertainment area to keep little ones occupied.
Wi-Fi is available in some of the public spaces, but is also included in all premium cabins.
On both journeys the ferries were very busy, and even with all the seating it can be tough to find a couple of empty chairs. As the journey was so short this didn’t really bother us though, as we simply wandered around the shop and entertainment areas. However, for those eager to have a seat of their own, or want some privacy, it’s also possible to book a cabin for a daytime trip.
Taking a ferry between Tallinn and Helsinki (and vice versa)
Both our journeys were smooth and the time went quickly. Although I kinda messed up the trip by booking us in overnight unnecessarily, I would say that taking the ferry for a day trip to Helsinki from Tallinn (or vice versa) is a really great idea.
This gave us around eight hours to get a taste of the city, which included exploring Suomenlinna, an 18th Century sea fortress, doing a whirlwind tour of Helsinki’s historical district and stopping off for afternoon tea in Helsinki at Salutorget. Plus both ferry terminals have lockers where we stored our overnight bags (this cost €3 for 24 hours), so if you don’t travel light, you’ve got somewhere to leave your bags while you explore the city.
Although it costs a little more to get a cabin on a Viking Line ferry, this trip is really great value for foot passengers and is a great option if you want to go on a fun, but crazy whirlwind adventure like us!
Viking Line ferry trips between Tallinn and Helsinki currently start from €35 per person one way, with a two person cabin costing from €30 one way.
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We were the guests of Viking Line on this trip, but as always, all views are our own!