Onboard the Spirit: Taking the Ferry to Tasmania

Taking the ferry to Tasmania is an epic adventure in itself. Here’s what to expect onboard the Spirit to Tasmania, which travels between Port Melbourne and Devonport.

ferry to tasmania
That’s the Spirit (well, the Spirit II if we’re going to be precise).

When travellers harp on about it being all about the “journey” rather than the destination, I tend to roll my eyes. Yet, there are some instances where this statement is totally warranted.

One of these is when you’re almost more excited about your method of transportation to the place you’re visiting, than the destination itself.

And while I won’t ever not be excited to visit Tasmania in Australia, I was very, very pleased to be catching the Spirit of Tasmania II from Port Melbourne to Devonport.

Even if I was going to be all on my lonesome.

Read more: Things to Do in Hobart, Tasmania

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Ferry to Tasmania: Onboard the Spirit

ferry to tasmania
I’ve got a golden or rather a blue and red ticket!

Ships passing in the night

There are two ships that service the passage from Victoria to Tasmania – the Spirit of Tasmania I and II.

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, when I made the journey.

We were 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 cabin and wandered around the ship, wondering what to do next.

The ship features 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 on board) for a meal, before settling down with a glass of wine and my book.

ferry to tasmania lunch room
The restaurant, TMK.
spirit of tasmania
Not a bad feed at all.

A meal onboard the ship costs $24.50 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 and I’m a bit of a guts.

ferry to tasmania
Can’t say no to wine, either.

After that 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.

I was reading Aziz Ansari’s [easyazon_link identifier=”0143109251″ locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]Modern Romance[/easyazon_link], which ended up being the perfect read for this particular trip. If you haven’t read this book, I suggest doing so immediately.

Should you book a cabin on the Spirit of Tasmania?

Your ticket basically gets you entry onto the ferry to Tasmania and nothing much more.

Food and drink are extra and you’ll have to shell out a little bit more if you want to reserve one of the cabins for the night.

The other alternative is to have a kip in the recliners that are provided for guests who have opted not to rent a cabin.

So – is the cabin worth booking? Ultimately, that’s up to you to decide.

I took a few things into consideration when making my decision.

Despite having left university near on a decade ago, I have the mentality of student (still) and often balk at spending money on things that I don’t feel I have to.

Yet, I consistently have to remind myself that I’m not 22 anymore – I’m in my thirties and if I don’t get a decent amount of sleep, I’m not going to have a good time.

As I was flying solo on this particular trip to Tassie and would be driving the majority of the time, I decided that a decent night’s sleep was ultimately a smart investment.

Particularly as I don’t have a car in Melbourne, so I don’t drive very often and I wanted to have my wits about me while I was alone on the road.

I also figured that travelling to Tassie on the Spirit was not something that I was going to find myself doing very often.

If I had the choice, I’d be stepping foot on the island state every month, but reality dictates that I’d be lucky to get there once a year, if that.

I wasn’t sure if there would be many future opportunities to sail across the Bass Strait in the future – so I figured I may as well go all out.

Plus, from a sustainable point of view, any effort made to travel somewhere that doesn’t involve flying, is good.

ferry to tasmania
It was around this point that bed started seeming like a grand idea.

Did the cabin guarantee a good night’s sleep?

Ah, yeah! It’s rough as on the Bass Strait and I decided to hit the hay when things started getting particularly choppy, about three hours into the trip (and also when I’d run out of wine and my 3G ran out of range, so I no longer knew what to do with myself).

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.

I strolled out at around 630am and went straight to the Budget Car Hire office where I picked up my ride for the next four days.

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 to have breakfast instead.

In need of a rental car? Compare prices here

spirit of tasmania devonport
It was worth going just to see this view.

Then I drove on, with no clear itinerary in my mind, simply eager to see what Tassie had in store for me. And boy, did the island state deliver.

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?

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Travelling on the Spirit of Tasmania solo? That's reason enough still to book a cabin and make yourself a real night of it.

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  1. Oh wow I didn’t realise it took so long to get to Tazzie by ferry! I assumed it would be similar to uk-france…. 2 1/2 hours on a bad day! Sounds like a great trip though. Will definitely be looking into it!

  2. A few lessons for us ~bring on healthy food and drinks, sit in the middle of the boat even though the windows are appealing and avoid where small kids congregate. Our family of 4 enjoyed it but felt the 9 hour duration – kids didn’t read their books, and continually wanted food! One was violently ill the following day (he is never sick) and I suspect it was food poising mixed with sea sickness. Adults enjoyed the time out – reading newspapers, books and the wine! Heading back over this Saturday – hopefully it will be quieter given it’s the AFL Grand-final.

    1. I hope it was nice and quiet for you today! Yes the healthy food is an excellent point. I dunno if I could do a day trip – at least overnight you can sleep to pass the time! Have a wonderful time in Tas.

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