Review: Tallink Silja Serenade - a Pleasant Getaway?
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Covered in the Article
- Tallink Silja
- Our Cruise on Silja Serenade
- Other Services on Silja Serenade
- Cruise Prices
- Tallink Silja vs Viking Line
- Bottom Line
Tallink Silja is an Estonian ferry company that operates modern ferries on the Baltic Sea. The company has daily departures from Helsinki and Turku to Stockholm. On Finland-Sweden routes, Tallink uses the older Finnish brand Silja Line which was the company's original 17name. When Silja Serenade was built in 1989, Silja Line was still a Finnish-owned company. It was founded already in 1954 and Tallink acquired it in 2006. Because Tallink comes from Estonia, it has also routes between Helsinki and Tallinn.
Tallink is well-known for modern ferries between Helsinki and Tallinn. Ferries between Helsinki and Stockholm are older but still comfortable to travel with. Even though m/s Silja Serenade was built already more than 30 years ago, it looks surprisingly modern. The other ferry on the same route, Silja Symphony, was built a year later. These ferries have been modernised multiple times and they can still compete well with recently built ferries.
Did you know? All ferries having the Finland-Sweden route call at the Åland Islands which allows them to sell tax-free products.
Helsinki to Stockholm Route
Helsinki to Stockholm is one of the main routes of Tallink Silja. Two big ferries traverse between the capitals every day. There is a departure from both ends every afternoon. Also, Tallink's competitor, Viking Line operates two big ferries on the same route.
A Tallink ferry departs every day at 5:15 pm from Helsinki to Stockholm and arrives in Stockholm at 10 am the next morning. Swedish time is one hour behind Finnish time. The route back to Helsinki departs at 4:45 pm and arrives in Helsinki at 10:30 am. Because the ferries sail at the night, a cabin is always included in the ticket price.
Day in Stockholm Cruises
The most important function of the ferries is to carry cargo between Nordic and Baltic countries. However, Finns and Swedes love just cruising on the ferries, either for work or leisure. It is possible to book a day in Stockholm cruise from Helsinki or a day in Helsinki cruise from Stockholm. Cruise passengers stay two nights on a ferry and have 8 hours at the destination. Cruises are an inexpensive way to have a relaxing getaway. The ferries have also space for cars but usually, there is no point to take a car on a cruise.
Booking oneway tickets is also possible. Though one-way tickets tend to be more expensive than return tickets.
Our Cruise on Silja Serenade
Every year, we do cruises to Sweden a few times. In April 2022, we had a day in Stockholm cruise on Tallink Silja Serenade. Because we departed on Thursday afternoon, we had got a great deal. Tickets on Friday would have been a lot more expensive obviously due to higher demands.
In Helsinki, Tallink Silja uses Olympia Terminal at the South Harbour. The terminal can be reached by tram in 10 minutes from the main railway station. Walking takes about 30 minutes but a tram is more practical with luggage. The tram stop is called Olympiaterminaali and is just in front of the terminal. In Stockholm, Tallink's ferries arrive at Värtan Terminal which is further from the centre. A 10-minute metro ride from Gärdet station is needed to reach the city centre.
We had booked a cabin in Promenade class. The cabin was just renovated and looked surprisingly modern even though the ferry was more than 30 years old. Cabins in Promenade class have a window into the ship's main aisle.
We were wishing to enjoy a warm spring day in Stockholm but the wish didn't come true. Stockholm is normally warm already in April, but this time, it was surprisingly cold and snowy.
Because we had practical things to do in Stockholm, the first hours went fast. Walking outside was uncomfortable so we headed to spend the rest hours in the Old Town where there are many cosy local cafes.
As the weather had gotten slowly better during the day, we decided to walk back to the Värtan terminal. It took 55 minutes to walk from the centre of Stockholm to the harbour. The route was beautiful so we recommend walking instead of a metro ride always when the weather permits.
M/s Silja Serenade is a huge ferry. It can accommodate 2,800 passengers, 400 cars or 40 trucks. M/s Symphony is a year younger copy of Silja Serenade.
Compared to the other ferries on the Baltic Sea, m/s Serenade and m/s Symphony have different deck plans. The ships have a tall aisle called Promenade in the middle of the ferry. On the promenade, there are restaurants, shops, cafes, bars and other services. The majority of the cabins are around the promenade on 5 different decks. These cabins have windows to the promenade or the sea. The ferry has also cabins below the promenade and premium cabins on the higher decks.
There are 5 basic cabin classes and 5 premium classes.
Class C is the simplest one on deck 2 below cargo. These cabins don't have windows and they are noisier and shakier. The cabin size is 11 square metres. The location on the second deck is unpractical.
Class B is similar to class C but the location is much better. These cabins are on decks 8-11.
Cabins in Promenade and Seaside classes have inside or outside windows. Some of the cabins are also a few square metres bigger. They are located on the decks from 5 to 11.
Family class is suitable for groups consisting of a maximum of 6 people. The size is from 14 to 18 square metres. They have windows and are located on the decks from 5 to 8.
More expensive premium classes are named: Deluxe, Commodore, Deluxe Conference and Executive Suite. People who prefer to have the best quality cabin should choose one of these cabin classes. They are surely more expensive but the cabins are like premium hotel rooms with the best amenities.
For practical reasons, ordinary cabins do not have a balcony. The weather in Finland is too cold for that. All cabins have a private bathroom with a stable warm water supply.
On our cruise, we had a cabin from Promenade class. We were lucky to get quite a spacious and renovated cabin.
Food tour is one of the favourite hobbies for people cruising between Finland and Sweden. That is the reason why the ferries have multiple restaurants. M/s Silja Serenade is not an exception.
All-inclusive Grande Buffet is maybe the most popular option to eat. With a single price you get a tasty big buffet with non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks. Even though the price may sound expensive, we recommend trying the buffet since the Nordic-style food selection is great. Buffets are often sold out during peak seasons so booking a table in advance at the same time when booking your cruise tickets is highly recommended to guarantee you a table reservation.
For travellers who don't prefer buffets, that's not a problem as there are also à la carte restaurants to choose from. Eating in Bon Vivant or Grill House restaurant may not become cheaper but it is a more intimate way to enjoy dinner. There are fewer people in restaurants so it also is easier to get a window seat. Travellers who appreciate fine dining should choose à la carte instead of a Grande Buffet.
The most affordable way of having a meal is to eat in the Fast Lane restaurant on Promenade. Even though the name gives the impression that the restaurant serves only fast food, the food is surprisingly good. There are only a few warm meal options. On our cruise to Stockholm, we ate at Fast Lane restaurant. We enjoyed delicious Swedish meatballs with dessert. On the way back, we ordered a hamburger meal. The price is about 50% less than in an à la carte restaurant.
M/s Silja Seremnade has also a cafe on Promenade.
Tax-free and Shopping
Silja Serenade, like all ferries on the Baltic Sea, has a big tax-free shop called Tax-free Superstore. The shop sells mainly sweets, alcohol, cigarettes, perfumes and souvenirs. Alcoholic drinks are not allowed to be consumed onboard.
The tax-free shop is on the 6th deck but it can be accessed from Promenade on deck 7. On the ferry, you can pay with euros or Swedish crowns. All major payment cards are accepted too. The price level is slightly cheaper than on the mainland. If you are looking for even more cheaper prices, travelling on ferries between Helsinki and Tallinn is recommended.
On Promenade, there is a Marimekko shop selling Momin products and clothes. It is a perfect spot to buy Finnish designs and souvenirs at cheaper rates.
For children, there are guided activities. They may include quizzes, children's discos or similar fun doing together. The program does not only make children happy but gives them more free time for their parents. Silja Land is a play area for children.
Silja Serenade is like a hotel, shopping mall and restaurant combined. Every day, there is a lot of free entertainment.
Adults may enjoy troubadours playing in a pub or singing karaoke themselves on a stage. Often, there is also a bingo game that you can play for money. Prizes are a small amount of money for Tallink's products. Especially older people love playing bingo. It does not cost much but it gives excitement and it is fun.
Later in the evening, travellers may head to Starlight Club to enjoy the house band and dance while the band is playing the latest hits not forgetting evergreens. At the midnight, there is a midnight show. Best of all, almost all entertainment is free of charge. The business idea is to sell drinks but no one is forcing you to buy anything.
The youngest adults head often to the disco at the top of the ferry. The view from New York Club of the sea is amazing in summer. Especially on weekends, youngsters party the whole night.
The best cruise ships have a sun deck. M/s Silja Serenade has one too, but in the Nordic climate, you can seldom use it. From May to August, there are warm enough days to sit outside and enjoy drinks. There is no swimming pool or any other outdoor activities.
Other Services on Silja Serenade
Reception Around the Clock
The information desk on Promenade assists passengers during the whole journey. If you happen to lose your key or got any problems, the staff will solve them fast, free of charge. The information desk can also be called from the cabin by phone.
There is free WiFi on the whole ferry. It is not fast but good enough for instant messaging. Mobile roaming does not always work inside cabins as base stations are far away.
Almost every ferry on the Baltic Sea has a casino. There is one in m/s Silja Serenade too. The casino may give some excitement but the chances to win are low.
Sunflower Oasis - the Spa
In Sunflower Oasis, passengers may enjoy drinks while relaxing in jacuzzis. There is a direct view of the archipelago or sea. There are separate saunas for men and women. In winter, having a sauna is a great way to warm up. In summer, enjoying drinks in a jacuzzi while enjoying the beautiful scenery of Stockholm's archipelago gives value for the small fee that Sunflower Oasis costs.
We rate Silja Serenade as a 4-star ferry on the Baltic Sea. It is big, well-designed and provides more services than many other ferries. A drawback is that the ferry is already quite old so some parts of the ferry are a little outdated. According to our opinion, it is still one of the best ferries to board from Helsinki to Stockholm.
Silja Symphony is a clone of Silja Serenade so you can expect to get the same service level on both ferries.
Cruises on Silja Serenade are affordable. They cost a little more than cruises to Tallinn or cruises from Turku to Stockholm. On the other hand, cruises from Helsinki to Stockholm last longer and you spend two nights on the ferry. It is good to remember that food and drinks are not included in the ticket price so you need to prepare about 100 euros for eating during a cruise.
Cruises on weekdays may be as cheap as 50 euros/cabin. Normally, there is space for 4 people in a single cabin. On Friday and Saturday, prices peak. The better cabin you take, the more you need to pay. A cabin in classes C, B, Promenade, Seaside and Family are quite affordable. The premium classes cost a lot more.
We recommend not choosing class C. The location of the cabins is bad.
We booked our cruise from Tallink's website. Quite often, we use Direct Ferries to compare the prices of all ferry companies.
Tallink Silja vs Viking Line
Viking Line is the main competitor of Tallink Silja. Also, Viking Line's ferry departs from Helsinki to Stockholm every day. The ferries of Viking Line are good but smaller than Tallink's ferries. Tickets may be a little cheaper. If the price does not matter, Tallink Silja is a better choice for a foreign traveller to Finland. According to our opinion, Tallink Silja's cruises from Helsinki give more value for money. If the main intention is just to reach Stockholm, any of Viking Line's ferries may be a cheaper option.
Also Viking Line has better ferries. m/s Viking Grace and m/s Viking Glory travel between Turku and Stockholm. They are the most modern ferries on the Baltic Sea and are worth trying.
How to Book a Ferry Ticket?
For easier booking, follow our simple checklist:
- Compare prices on Direct Ferries.
- Choose the most suitable connection.
- Include extras, like a buffet. Paying services separately on the ferry costs usually more.
- Decide if you need a cancellation cover.
- Double check all the details CAREFULLY before the payment.
- Is Silja Symphony the same as Silja Serenade?
- No, but they are almost exact copies of each other.
- Which one is younger: Silja Serenade or Silja Symphony?
- Silja Symphony is a year younger.
- How much does a cabin on Silja Serenade cost?
- A cabin price starts from 50 euros and it can accommodate usually 4 people. No other tickets are needed. The price on weekends is much higher.
- Where can I book a cruise?
- We use often Direct Ferries to compare the prices of many ferry companies. The booking process is fast and simple.
- What is Promenade?
- The promenade is the tall aisle in the middle of Silja Serenade. Around Promenade, there are pubs, restaurants, shops and cafes.
- Are there restaurants on Silja Serenade?
- Yes, there are three of them and also Grande Buffet.
- How much does food cost on Silja Serenade.
- A basic meal costs about 20 euros. An all-inclusive buffet costs about 40 euros.
- Are the pubs/discos/nightclubs on Silja Serenade?
- Yes, there is a pub, nightclub and disco.
- What can I buy from Tax-free Superstore?
- The most popular products are alcoholic drinks, sweets, perfumes and cigarettes. The shop sells many other things too.
- What payments method are accepted on Silja Serenade?
- Euros, Swedish crowns and major payment cards can be used.
- Which cabin class is recommended on Silja Serenade?
- We recommend classes B, Promenade or Seaside. They give good value for money.
- Is m/s Silja Serenade safe?
- Tallink has high safety standards and the ferry has not had any severe incidents.
Tallink Silja Serenade is one of the best ways to travel from Helsinki to Stockholm. It is possible to book just a one-way ticket but the majority of passengers prefer a return ticket. They spend two nights on the ferry and a day in Stockholm. The same cabin is used both ways so your belongings can be left in the cabin while enjoying Stockholm.
Sunday to Thursday are the most affordable weekdays to depart. On weekends, there are more people on board and especially young people come to the party at the ship's disco.
Have you travelled on Silja Serenade or Silja Symphony? Share your experience by commenting below!
Great review! It's easy to agree with every point you make.
One minor clarification: Commodore Balcony cabins do have a balcony but you're right, in these weather conditions you rarely get to enjoy it properly.
Thank you for the clarification.
We will correct this detail in the article. :)
The check in staff from Stockholm for the Helsinki route at about 16:00 was absolutely rude and racist to us. It is stated in the Silja line website that with the parents signature of approval a child from 0-17 years can travel with the boat. Yet the opposite happened and it was handled very poorly. I am very disappointed over the young male staff that spoke to us. He told us to shut up multiple times and did not want to cooperate with us in explaining why the 16 year old girl could not board when she had the authorisation THAT WAS MENTIONED FROM YOUR WEBSITE of the parents signature. If he had spoken to us nicely and explained to us in a decent way there will be no reason I would be writing this. But he was VERY VERY rude and we demand an apology for his behaviour.
Him and the other staff next to him were also making fun of the situation with passengers coming to cheack in speaking Swedish which I find so rude and unprofessional of them.
And I find it very confusing why you would let someone buy tickets when the people buying it are under 25 and there is a child with them. We should have had at least a warning so that we wouldn't proceed to buy the tickets.
I am hoping to hear from you over this situation.
Thank you for commenting on our Silja Serenade review. We are sad that you have had an awful experience.
We advise you to contact Silja Line's customer service. The feedback is good to be given directly to them.
In our article, we have not written anything about underaged children travelling alone. Maybe you mean Silja's own website? You can contact Silja here: https://en.tallink.com/feedback.
Hopefully, you get a good resolution from Silja.
What a complete and comprehensive review of the Silja Serenade experience! Your post is logically organized and insightful for anyone contemplating a Finland-to-Sweden cruise.
Thank you for the comment. Welcome to Finland to try a cruise. :)