Taking the ferry to Tasmania is an epic adventure in itself. Here’s what to expect onboard the Spirit to Tasmania, which travels between Geelong and Devonport.
Are you thinking of catching the ferry from Melbourne to Tasmania? It’s definitely a journey worth doing.
A more sustainable way of travelling, it’s also a lot of fun and can add an extra element of excitement to your trip to Tasmania.
Read on to find out what it’s like to catch the Spirit of Tasmania to Devonport.
You’ll discover the best time to travel on the Spirit and whether you should reserve a cabin as part of your ticket.
The ferry to Tasmania: Onboard the Spirit
Ships passing in the night
There are two ships that service the passage from Victoria to Tasmania – the Spirit of Tasmania I and II.
Excitingly, there are two new ships being built, which will be called Spirit of Tasmania IV and Spirit of Tasmania V. Not sure what ever happened to the Spirit III. Anyway, these two new ships will replace the existing fleet in 2024.
These Finnish beauties run routes during the day and night (more nights than days) and the Bass Strait (the strip of ocean between the two states) takes 11 hours to cross in winter and 9 in the summer.
I don’t know why – I assume it’s something to do with science.
It takes the full 11 hours to sail across the Strait in late April, which is when I made the journey.
Although the ferry to Tasmania used to depart from Port Melbourne, as of late 2022 the departure point is Geelong.
When I caught the Spirit, it departed from Port Melbourne.
I was originally travelling with a friend and so booked a cabin. They bailed and I ended up keeping the cabin. I had four days of driving ahead of me on this trap, so don’t regret doing this in the slightest.
Here’s what it’s like to catch the ferry to Tasmania.
Getting onboard the Spirit
The boat was scheduled to disembark at 7.30pm and the website advises that you arrive 45 minutes before the departure time.
I have a deep mistrust of public transport (which I was taking from my house in the north of the city to Port Melbourne) and arrived at 6pm. Better safe than stranded, as the age old adage goes.
After strolling on board, I dropped my stuff in my allocated cabin and wandered around the ship, wondering what to do next.
The ferries each have a restaurant, gift/snack shop, bar, cinema, pokies, lounge and play area for kids, so it’s not really possible to be bored.
After having a little poke around the gift shop and buying some postcards, I decided that I’d head to TMK (Tasmanian Market Kitchen, the restaurant onboard) for a meal, before settling down with a glass of wine and my book.
Dinner onboard the ship costs $27.50 AUD for an adult, but it’s a buffet style meal and there’s a pretty decent array of food on offer.
I paid a little extra for an oyster, because I can never say no to oysters.
After this massive feed, I still had room somehow for wine, so I bought a small bottle from the restaurant (which was enough to fill two glasses, so perfect) and settled down with my book.
Should you book a cabin on the Spirit of Tasmania?
Your ticket gets you entry onto the ferry to Tasmania and nothing much more.
Food and drink are extra. You can save some cash by bringing your own. However, you can’t bring any veg or fruit onto the island – they’re very strict about this.
You’ll also have to shell out a little bit more if you want to reserve one of the cabins for the night.
Plus there’s different fares depending on what time of the day you’re travelling (day or night) and whether it’s high or low season. Travelling just about anywhere in Australia in winter can be a lot cheaper.
And of course, you pay more to take your car with you. I didn’t own a car at the time and decided to invest in a good night’s sleep instead.
If you don’t book a cabin, you can sleep in one of the provided recliners
So – is the cabin worth booking? Ultimately, that’s up to you to decide.
They are in themselves pretty basic – mine had twin beds, a little bathroom, a counter to pop my things, a port to charge devices and a couple of places where I could hang up some clothes.
So basic, but quite fun. I’m a light sleeper, so I was glad to have a little space of my own. I’ve learned my lesson from attempting to do things like sleep in airports in London. Doesn’t really quite work out.
Did the cabin guarantee a good night’s sleep?
Is the ferry to Tasmania rough?
Ah, yeah. It’s rough as guts on the Bass Strait. I decided to hit the hay when things started getting particularly choppy, about three hours into the trip.
Upright the waves had made me feel a little ill, but as soon as I lay down, they lulled me off to a lovely, deep sleep.
I felt really great when I woke up in the morning, despite it being flipping 5.30am.
Arriving in Devonport
We arrived in Devonport on the tip of Tasmania at six in the morning.
I thought it would be a ‘straight off the boat’ type of affair, but most people dilly-dallied and the staff didn’t seem to care.
From there you can either drive your own car off the ship, pick one up from the car hire offices or take the tiny and very sweet Spirit of Devonport ferry into town.
If you are driving, check out my Australian road trip tips.
I strolled out at around 6.30am and went straight to the Budget Car Hire office where I picked up my ride for the next four days.
You can sort your hire car in advance with Rentalcars.com. It’s simple to use and there’s a large selection of cars and providers to choose from.
From there I drove to Devonport, as I’d never been and wanted to have a quick look around.
Pretty much everything was closed (it was the early hours of the morning after all), so I went to Maccas for breakfast.
Taking the ferry to Tasmania: The final verdict
As something I’ve always wanted to do and therefore had pretty unreasonable expectations of, the Spirit exceeded them.
I’d definitely look at taking the ship across the Strait again, although next time I would probably try to bring a friend along, to justify the cost of the cabin.
I would definitely take the ferry to Tasmania on future travels to the island state. Have you caught the Spirit of Tasmania? Did you enjoy the experience?