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.
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.Here's what it is like to sail solo (and in style!) on the Spirit of Tasmania. Click To Tweet
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.
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.
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 Modern Romance, 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 onto the Spirit basically gets you entry 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 inching closer and closer to 30 by the second 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.
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.
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.
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.
Have you caught the Spirit of Tasmania? Did you enjoy the experience?
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