Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Experience: Merilin on stormy seas

A couple of weeks ago I had a chance to try out the last of the Tallinn-Helsinki ship crossing options I hadn't tried yet. While I've always been curious about crossing on a Linda Line catamaran (my previous experience with fast craft was during the SuperSeaCat era when I was quite young) I have still been somewhat cautious because the risk of having my trip postponed or cancelled seemed too big. And I can't say it didn't affect me this time; after I made my booking, the smaller white catamaran Karolin got some technical issues and schedules had to be redone for the whole month. My booked return trip disappeared entirely from the new schedules, thus I had to change the booking; but besides that, everything went quite smoothly. The booking, check in and boarding process wasn't too different from the large ferries, just on a smaller scale. The catamaran carries no cars, just bikes. There was a lot less people and to board I only had to scan a barcode. While the fact I received no boarding card was a great disappointment for me, I can see how the boarding system is very convenient for frequent travellers or those in a hurry - the customers Linda Line caters for.

Karolin; due to technical issues her crossing lasted 2 hours and 30 minutes and the same reason prevented me from trying her out too. 

Merilin in Helsinki

The inside of the catamaran mostly consists of sitting areas; there was one bar and a rather small store, plus a nice staircase midships. To make a purchase it wasn't even necessary to leave the seat.
Considering the crossing only lasted an hour and 40 minutes I didn't really feel like anything was missing. Looking out of the window and feeling the catamaran roll a bit more easily than a large ferry gave a nice feeling of actually being at sea. 

Mandatory staircase photo
And since there is no funnel to photograph for the mandatory photo, here's another staircase

The nice feeling especially hit the spot during the return trip, which is the main reason why I'm writing this. The weather was gorgeous, just a little windy. As soon as we got out from between the islands of Helsinki and slammed the gas, the catamaran started rolling very heavily. It was difficult to even stand, not to mention walk. Had the trip lasted longer I would probably be writing this down as a negative experience, but the intense part probably didn't last longer than 40 minutes. Nonetheless, that 40 minutes was enough for me to get a few bruises while walking or by missing the seat while trying to sit. Most of the passengers seemed quite badly sea sick, but fortunately I was not the only "enthusiast" who found it the perfect occasion to hang around on the sundeck. I actually dare to say that the fresh air and view there kept me from getting very seasick and trying to hold on and not fly away was quite a lot of fun. I also enjoyed the fact that at one point I saw the islands of Helsinki as well as the coastline of Estonia at the same time, not to mention the evening ships that had departed from both ports.

Silja Symphony departing
Mariella showing off her beautifully done new stripes as she departs
Not the usual Kustaanmiekka route
The best photo I got of Viking XPRS with all the rolling...
.. and Norwegian Star, outbound from Tallinn
Quite an impressive trail, creating rainbows and all
Me enjoying the rolling, the wind and the splashes. Leaning was the only way to stay safe and still for a bit. 
As the catamaran arrived in Tallinn, we had a very nice view of the cruise area.

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