Tasmania Travel Guide - The ferry ride

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First updated : 26 April 2009
Last Updated : 02 July 2012

  

Since choosing to travel by the ferry to Tasmania here's a brief story of the trip to and back from Tasmania.  There and back?  Because I only want to write one page for the ferry trip!

The only ferry service between the Australian mainland and Tasmania is the Spirit Of Tasmania.  There are 2 ships in the fleet, incidentally named the Spirit of Tasmania I and Spirit of Tasmania II.  They travel between Port Melbourne and Devonport, Tasmania.  The trip takes about 10 hours.  Ultimately though how fast really depends on weather conditions.   Both ships basically identical so one is not better than the other.  For my trip I took a day and a night sailing so I could experience both.  Check their website for all the information about fares, timetables and other FAQs.

I like travelling on ships - I have had other long ferry trips but this one was the longest I've experienced.  It's something of an event getting on board and checking out the surroundings, the other passengers, the facilities - everything.  Ship travel is something that plane travel used to mean for me as a child.  Flying anywhere by plane these days is exactly like public transport and something to deal with rather than enjoy.  That said ship travel has its own issues too!

Once customs has been cleared, get your car or motorcycle on board just follow the directions by staff or the other cars.  If travelling by motorcycle best to get to the port early so you get a good spot up front so that when you disembark on the other end you're not caught in traffic.  For dogs there are kennels but you can get a wavier form and leave them in your car.  There are lines of tie-down hooks for your bike.  They try to park them together.  The bikes are secured rope tie downs via the handle bars.  One thing that surprised me was the number bikes and cars that had trouble starting again after arriving.  I don't know why?

Note: mainly for car drivers - since the ship is subject to load balancing just because you've arrived early you may not get to leave the ship early.

The overall condition of the ship was great.  Lots of variety of seating and of course cabins.  Since it was an overnight trip we had cabins booked.  The bunks where surprisingly comfortable.  The in room shower and toilet where well appreciated.  The rooms where really quiet too.  The cabins aren't big unless you pay for the 'suites'.  Besides why would you stay in the room except to sleep?

There where clearly lots of sitting room for those doing day trips.  Seating varied from coffee lounge or hotel lobby style all the way to outdoor style benches.  There are lots of outdoor areas along the side and back of the ship which you can smoke or just view the expanse of ocean.  Of note the enclosed top deck 'bar' area - in its original design it was clearly a pool of some sort!  There enough TV shows, poker machines, cinema and even kids play gym to keep most occupied at least before bedtime.  There are 2 styles of food service, the restaurant and the eatery.  The eatery is buffet style whilst restaurant the usual menu.  While not Michelin Star material they where both pretty good.  Remember this is a ferry service not a cruise ship.

The night time trip was surprisingly quiet. (Probably because everyone went to bed reasonably early.)  The weather forecast was for calm seas so the numerous sea sickness bags located around the ship was definitely not required on this trip. 

The day trip was very crowded - close to capacity I'd say!  Best get in early to get a decent seat.  Mind you all of them are pretty good.  During the day there is usually a music act of some sort.  On my trip music was performed  by a perfectly acceptable - regular bar duo.  They where located on the top deck bar area. 

Unless you get rough weather on the trip there's not much else to do but do what the others did, play cards, computer games, have drink or eat and contemplate life's direction or the story of your trip!  If you had a notebook, there aren't any powerpoints to keep them charged.  However you may be lucky to get a seat which has a maintenance powerpoint near by.  10 or so hours is a long time to just sit still if you didn't book a cabin - even for a day trip.

Your trip may pass the sister ship or other vessels including sailing ships that are using the Bass Strait (name of the sea between the mainland).  Something which the intercom service will announce as it gets closer.  Other than that, on a clear day the expanse of ocean was something that people have been looking out at and had the same view since the beginning of time - is always worth a look.

I have no complaints at about the Spirit Of Tasmania ferry.  All the conditions where perfect for a great experience.  I wonder whether I would say the same thing if the weather conditions where less than calm which the Bass Strait is renown for... 

<- Tasmania trip - Introduction   West Tasmania travel guide ->


 

 

 




 




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