The best way to travel between Finland and Sweden, as well as Finland and Estonia is with a ferry/cruise ship. This is because the nature is amazing and there are literally thousands of islands and birds on the way to look at and admire.
So that is exactly what we did also when we went from Helsinki to Stockholm. There are two major cruise lines: Viking Line and Silja Line and we chose Viking (it’s a bit cheaper and also had more availability as I was booking rater late). To get the most out of the trip I recommend an overnight journey, so you get to start fresh in the morning in Stockholm and get to enjoy the sunset and sunrise and enjoy the boat’s entertainment.
These boats are really cheap (if you don’t want a cabin at best a ticket can be less than 10 Euros ($10) but even a more luxurious cabin on upper deck and with a window (best when you got kids) will set you back around 250 EUR (around $300). Some of the cabins are under the water line and therefore have no windows, are noisy and very small (bunk beds that fold away) whereas on upper deck you’ll have nice views, fridge with some free soft drinks and bubbly and a TV (most of the channels are local though).
The boats used to be known for their excellent buffets meals, but I would just recommend a buffet breakfast (and buying tickets in advance as they are cheaper that way) and having a dinner at one of the restaurants. That is what we did – kids had a kiddie buffet with desserts and we did a fab starter and dessert buffet and a separate main course. So delicious!
These boats really are made for travelling families, as all the old conference spaces have been transformed into kids play areas, thus having a total of 7-10 play zones in every boat. Since we were there during the Olympic games they had lots of competitions for the kids where everyone wins lots of prices. Be prepared for hours of play time!
My verdict? Definitely worth going. Viking Line is fine, although some of the boats are a bit worn out (but I hear that they are in the process of renewing their fleet). These are not luxury cruisers, but definitely a notch up from the quick ferries travelling to Estonia. This is a fun and enjoyable trip and not too long in terms of duration, so recommended for all!
Great cabin at the front of the boat. Ready to take off from the center of Helsinki
The cabin was spacious enough for a family
The harbour has great views and one gets to witness the amazing skills of boat captains when they turn around their large cruise ships
So yummy starter buffet with Mediterranean and Nordic fish delicatessen…
…not to talk about the gourmet dessert buffet!
If you are not booking an upper-level cabin do bring your own toiletries, otherwise you’ll get these cute and fun products with calming messages
One of the play areas. This was on a boat called Gabriella, we also took Mariella and Isabella since we went from Stockholm to Aland (islands between Finland and Sweden) and from there back to Finland, but this time to the old city of Turku
At times there are several boats following each other en route, almost like highway congestion!