Thursday, 18 February 2016

Experience: Cruising with style, part 1 (Finlandia, Superstar)

Not long ago, starting on the 30th of January, I took a trip involving several cruiseferries of the sweet home Baltic Sea; or should I say my best friend Sverre took the trip and kindly invited me to join. For me it started with taking a bus to Helsinki to meet up with him; we spent the first day walking and sightseeing in and near central Helsinki. In the evening we met up with some more people (Timo Selkälä, Kalle Id, Mikko Pätäri) from our solid group of friends to have a dinner in Domo, a small, and quiet Japanese restaurant. The same cannot be said about our group as we were clearly the jolliest and loudest ones that night, however that's really not easy to avoid with such great people around.

We stayed at Radisson Blu Seaside hotel, chosen for its sweet location very close to the West Harbour, as early the next morning we took the Finlandia to my old hometown Tallinn. On the Finlandia we had buffet breakfast, as I remembered the food there as exquisite, however this time the experience was not as great, probably because I was not very hungry. We also took advantage of the fact that the first morning crossing of the Finlandia is excellent for taking photos of the incoming Stockholm ferries. 

View upon entering our hotel room
And a bit further in

A lovely little dessert
One of my prouder interior photos
Sister ship Superstar coming in to Helsinki
Mariella doing the same
... and Silja Symphony
The "bow-bar" on the Finlandia, two decks high, called Bar Nosturi.
In Tallinn we only had less than two hours of time, which we spent quickly meeting up with my mother and I also used the opportunity to stock up on some Estonian snacks. What seemed like a blink of an eye later we were already rushing to board the Superstar. It was surprisingly exciting for me to quickly visit my old hometown for the first time in six months, and even during that short stay I noticed a lot of various changes, for example the harbour terminals have been given a fresher look, some buildings have been finished and new construction sites have appeared.

Finlandia backing out to return to Helsinki
Sea Wind in Tallinn
When the trip was booked, the ship we were supposed to take was going to be the Star. However, at one point she was switched with the Superstar as their drydock times were switched without notice, and had I not checked the booking online earlier, we would have probably been in for one hell of a surprise. However, it was a positive change, because although the Star is one of our shared favourites, the Superstar is now higher on the list since she has already been sold to Corsica Ferries (and rechartered to Tallink) and is now on her final year of service here in the Baltics; she is due to leave as soon as Tallink's newbuild, named Megastar, is ready to replace her. In addition to that, crossing on the Superstar meant sailing on two sister ships in one day. For the crossing, we had booked a window cabin just for the heck of it, and spent most of the quick crossing in there. After our arrival in Helsinki, we headed straight to the Viking Line terminal in Katajanokka. 

The "bow-bar" on the Superstar, three decks high, called Dolce Vita. If you look closer, you can also see Finlandia departing for Tallinn.
Our cabin on the Superstar
Lifeboats and bunkering Victoria
Mandatory funnel photo
Baltic Queen in Helsinki, with workers cleaning her windows
The sunlight reflecting from the livery of the Baltic Queen

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