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Viking Line Cruise to Stockholm
Many visitors in Finland get surprised when they realize how many ferry connections there are between Finland and Sweden. The ferries are not small boats but huge ferries that can accommodate more than 3,000 passengers and can carry many cars and trucks. Having a ferry between Finland and Sweden is as common as having a train trip between cities.
There are two daily ferries from Helsinki to Stockholm and vice versa. We took a cruise by Viking Line. The other option would have been to take a ferry operated by Viking Line's close competitor, Tallink Silja Line. However, we chose Viking Line as their travel tickets were less expensive than Tallink Silja Line and this is often the case. Both companies operate two daily ferry connections from Turku to Stockholm.
It is typical for Finnish people to have a weekend getaway to Stockholm while many passengers are travelling by cruise because of work. The combined passenger capacity of the ferries is so big that there are often a lot affordable deals available. This time, Viking Line had the best offer so we decided to grab it.
Our ferry left from Helsinki to Stockholm at 5pm on a Saturday afternoon from Helsinki South Harbour (Eteläsatama). The cruise took overnight and we arrived to Stockholm next morning about 10am. We spent the night in the ferry without encountering any serious issues. These ferries have a lot of entertainment and a cabin is always included to the ticket price.
The ferries between Finland and Sweden are almost always stopping at Åland islands. There are two reasons: Cargo between Åland islands and mainlands and these islands are tax-free area; By stopping at Åland, the ferries are allowed to sell tax-free products to their passengers. For you, it means cheaper shopping.
If you take Tallink Silja Line from Helsinki to Stockholm instead of Viking Line, the schedule is almost the same and departing from the same harbour in Helsinki. The only exception is that Tallink Silja Line arrives to a different harbour in Stockholm. Viking Line's terminal is almost in the centre of Stockholm but Silja's terminal is a few kilometers out from the city centre.
Ferries from Turku to Stockholm have different schedules. They are always leaving early in the morning or late in the evening. The route takes only less than 12 hours one-way so the ferries are able to operate for both ways in a day.
Safety and Comfyness
The gigantic size of the ferry will make you forget easily being on the sea. Even though Baltic Sea isn't that big, there are often high winds and waves. The sea may also be frozen during the winter.
Even rough conditions are not dangerous for big ferries - they can operate safely in any weather, even when there are storms. However, the ride during bad weather may not be comfortable. High winds and waves while cruising may cause you feel seasick. Rough weathers are more common on the route from Helsinki to Stockholm than in the route from Turku to Stockholm. If you tend to get seasick easily and there is high winds forecast, we advise you to take some anti-vertigo pills. These medicines usually contains dimenhydrinate and meclizine.
Finnoy Travel tip: Pack with you anti-vertigo pills as treatment for motion sickness especially when you are sensitive for seasickness while cruising/travelling.
Our Ferry: M/s Gabriella
Our ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm was called m/s Gabriella. The ferry has been built in 1989 but it has been renovated many times. Of course, you can notice it is not anymore the most modern ship but it is still comfortable and clean inside.
M/s Gabriella has capacity for 2,420 passengers and it can accommodate up to 400 personal cars and trucks. There are 11 decks (floors) on the ship.
Helsinki to Stockholm cruises always include a cabin in the ticket price. Actually, the price is being calculated by cabin no matter how many people there are inside. Usually one cabin is meant for 2 to 4 people.
We had booked a ticket for the cabin class B2. The cabin B2 is an inside cabin above the car deck whose maximum capacity is 2 people. The cabin is small, it has 2 separate beds and a small bathroom. Cabin class B is usually an inexpensive choice that is worth the money.
Just before our departure, we got an offer from Viking Line to be able to upgrade our cabin class from B2 to A4T for only 10 euros extra fee. Cabins in the class A have window.
Cabin class C is the cheapest class. They are located on the lower floor, below the car deck and that is why they are noisy. Especially if there is ice on the sea, we recommend not to choose the cabin class C. Sleeping below the sea level isn't a nice thought - it would mean a rough night.
Viking Line has also a few premium cabin classes. If you wish to have the best cabin quality, you will surely find your preferred choice but the price will be higher too. In the case you end up travelling with Tallink Silja Line, they have really similar cabin classes.
Dining in the Ferry
The ferry tickets may be affordable but we can't say the same about the food on the ferry. When you are inside the ship you are restricted to the ship's services. Even though there are many restaurants, all of them are expensive.
The best value for money is to buy a dinner and a breakfast buffet like we did. The dinner buffet costs 38 euros and the breakfast buffet 12 euros. The prices may sound quite expensive but the food selection is really good. The dinner buffet has also complimentary drinks including beer and wine. You will get a few euros discount if you pay online before the journey.
Finnoy Travel Tip: Book online for your dinner or breakfast buffet before your journey to save a few euros rather than paying it walk-in at the restaurant.
Time flies fast in the ferry. There are many kind of entertainments, for example dance music, karaoke, contests etc. Ferry companies have often entertainment for children too. If you prefer relaxing peacefully, you can visit Finnish sauna on the ferry while enjoying the sea view straight from the sauna bench.
How Much a Ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm Costs?
Ferry companies are using dynamic pricing like airlines. During weekdays, the cheapest cruise may cost only about 20 euros per cabin but during weekend the cheapest price may be almost 100 euros. The ticket includes cabin but all other services like food must be bought separately.
It is good to notice that if you prefer buying only one-way ticket, it will be much more expensive. The terms of cheap tickets state that your cruise must start and end at the same location.
What to Do in Stockholm?
A cruise to Stockholm gives you about 7 hours time in Stockholm. It is a short period so you need to plan carefully how to spend it. We give you a few suggestions.
Abba is probably the most well-known Swedish band and it has been one of the biggest Swedish export products. They have been making great pop music. We recommend you to visit ABBA Museum and learn interesting facts about this band. And the museum isn't boring; there are so many interactive things.
Mall of Scandinavia
Shopping isn't maybe the most interesting activity in Stockholm but if you prefer relaxing by shopping, visit Mall of Scandinavia. The Mall is the second biggest mall in Nordic countries and it can be reached easily by a commuter train from Stockholm center. The ride takes less than 10 minutes. Stockholm's public transport tickets are valid on the train.
Old Town or Gamla Stan like Swedes say is definitely worth the visit. There is no old town in Helsinki so visiting one in Stockholm is a good alternative.
Where to Book Your Cruise?
Finnish travel agencies are often selling the same cruise tickets cheaper than the ferry companies themselves. The only challenge is that their web pages are only in Finnish language. If you need to help in booking, feel free to contact us.
Having a ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm is affordable and practical. When planning a holiday in Helsinki, we recommend you to reserve enough time. You should have at least two free days for the cruise to Stockholm. Also, we recommend you to visit beautiful Tallinn. Check our separate article about Tallinn ferries.