Thursday, 30 October 2014

Experience: Baltic Queen, aka How To Miss Your Departure

Last weekend I was in Helsinki again to meet some friends. It was initially supposed to be a daycruise but later on I turned it into a weekend trip, planning to return with the Baltic Queen.
I woke up early on Saturday morning to make it on the earliest departure of the day, on the Superstar. It was still dark as I boarded and it was quite difficult to get any good pictures as the ship backed out of the harbour. The crossing was, fortunately, quite smooth. Contrary to many stories I've heard the vibration wasn't remarkable, and the fact that the crossing took 30 minutes less than what I'm used to made all the difference, because it really felt quick. The ship wasn't very crowded either, but what did bother me along with a lot of people who answered my research poll was people sleeping on the couches, taking up a lot of space. For me, it wasn't the space that mattered so much as the spreading smell of socks. 

Baltic Queen next to us in Tallinn
The harbour as we left: Baltic Queen and Viking XPRS, the latter followed us in 30 minutes
Deck plan
Absolutely packed
La Dolce Vita Bar, extending through 3 decks in the front

Tallink turned 25 recently and the whole ship was decorated accordingly
This is how it really is
Large staircase
Superstar's sister Finlandia near Helsinki
Silja Serenade and Finlandia near Helsinki
Mandatory funnel picture
Silja Serenade near Helsinki
Thou shalt not under any circumstances go beyond this sign
After getting off in Helsinki I had several hours to kill before an interview meeting. Walking around was quite unpleasant with a heavy backpack, therefore I chose to sit in Kamppi and get some work done instead. The meeting was also a great success but after it finished I was so tired that I called my friend and NW-cruise mate to pick me up and we went to the hotel. We were staying at GLO Hotel in the center of Espoo. It's a very nice place; I really recommend it if you're in Espoo or if you're willing to drive or take public transport from Helsinki.
Later that night we drove back to Helsinki to have a rather late dinner, which proved to be difficult in the center on a Saturday night. All the places were either packed, too noisy or had a long line at the door. After searching for over an hour we found a small pizzeria on a relatively quiet street near Kluuvi. 
The next day was spent mainly looking around stores and having a break at some cafe every now and then. I chose to have an early three course dinner at restaurant Kynsilaukka, mainly because it's one of a few places accepting Bitcoin payments. The menu was rather interesting, every dish was somehow made with garlic, including garlic beer, which was quite bitter and garlic ice cream, which must've been one of the most interesting dishes I've ever had, in addition to being quite delicious. 

Garlic ice ceam
In the evening we met up briefly with another NW-cruise mate; in the middle of the meeting I realized that I had miscalculated my time quite badly and hopelessly missed the Baltic Queen departure. Fortunately I was helped out and returned with the Finlandia on Monday morning. The weather was very windy and the ship was rolling heavily. I had many opportunities to take great photos of passing ships but due to the weather and the fact I was extremely tired I skipped it and had a nap instead, while listening to the Bingo game in Telakka bar.

Princess Maria in Helsinki
Mandatory funnel picture - the most notable exterior difference of the two sisters, besides the livery of course.
Another major difference between the two sisters is that bar Nosturi on the Finlandia is on two decks, not three like the Dolce Vita on the Superstar.
Otherwise, although the interiors are obviously quite different, it's easy to tell that Finlandia and Superstar are sisters. Here's the deck plans of the Finlandia for easy comparison. 
And to answer the question in the title - if you're already dense enough to actually wish to miss a departure, finding an excuse to do so or the necessary miscalculations shouldn't really be a problem. Loads of bad luck might sometimes also help.
I would like to thank Timo & Tove for meeting me and sharing memories, Riikka for making the time for a meeting despite your schedules, and also Matti for making most of this possible, keeping me company throughout my stay and saving me from thick trouble after the missed departure.

Maybe next time.

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