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Covered in the Article
- Cruise from Helsinki to Stockholm
- Ferry: m/s Gabriella
- Outbound Journey to Stockholm
- Time in Stockholm
- What Else to Do Onboard?
- Bottom Line
Cruise from Helsinki to Stockholm
In August, we decided to end this year's summer with a summer cruise from Helsinki to Stockholm. Our itinerary included two nights on m/s Gabriella and a day well spent in Stockholm. The ferry was operated by a Finnish ferry company, Viking Line. What sets Viking Line apart from other cruise companies is its strategic departure terminals, as it sails directly from the centre of Helsinki to the heart of Stockholm.
Ferry: m/s Gabriella
Gabriella, operated by Viking Line, is a 31-year-old Ro-Ro passenger vessel. Despite its age, it still offers a comfortable cruising experience between Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden. It also calls at the Åland Islands. The ship was built in 1992 at the renowned Brodosplit shipyard. With a length of 171.2 meters and a width of 27.6 meters, m/s Viking Gabriella boasts an impressive size even though it is much smaller than the biggest cruise ships in the world. It has a maximum capacity of 2,420 passengers and 400 cars. The ferry is equipped with modern amenities and facilities, including a spa, casino, restaurants, cafes and shops. These ensure a delightful and memorable journey for all passengers. It isn't easy to believe that the ferry is more than 30 years old because it is still in good condition and offers a pleasant cruising experience just like the many newer ferries.
The ferry is already 31 years old but still comfortable inside.
Outbound Journey to Stockholm
Gabriella departed from the Port of Helsinki at 5:15 p.m. just after its competitor m/s Silja Serenade by Tallink. Katajanokka Terminal, conveniently located in the heart of Helsinki, was easily accessible from our home. First, we commuted by train to Helsinki Central Station and continued by tram to the port. Thankfully, boarding the ferry was a breeze, as the port was not crowded.
Upon entering the ferry, we quickly located our renovated Class B cabin. The cabin, measuring 8.5 square meters, was equipped with two double-deck retractable beds and a small bathroom with a toilet. Bathing soap and towels were provided. There was a television and landline for emergency calls. Important announcements by the crew were also audible in every cabin. Class C cabins are situated below the car deck which makes them noisy, Class B cabins are located above the car deck so you expect quieter rooms while Class A cabins have outside windows. Apart from the window, these cabin classes are similar in amenities. Additionally, there are premium cabin classes available on the ferry, although they tend to be much more expensive.
Sunshine on the Outer Deck
Viking Gabriella stands out for its expansive outer decks, providing passengers with the perfect opportunity to enjoy the sea atmosphere. As the ship gracefully embarked on its journey from the Port of Helsinki, we and many other fellow travellers found the pleasure of strolling along the outer decks, inhaling the refreshing sea breeze, and basking in the warm embrace of the summer's last sun's rays. A particularly enchanting moment occurred as the ferry sailed past the Suomenlinna island, setting the tone for the remarkable voyage that lay ahead.
Coffee at Coffee & Joy
We were not feeling hungry yet, so we opted to indulge in a cup of coffee and savour some delectable treats at Ship's Cafe called Coffee & Joy. The cafe boasted a delightful array of mouthwatering products but its petite size and bustling atmosphere made it feel a bit cramped. Because of the small size and long queues, this cafe is not the most comfortable place to eat on the ferry. However, the products were delicious.
Dinner at Grill
We compared the various dining options available onboard. We were particularly intrigued by the Buffet, which offered an all-inclusive dining experience. We have been eating there on our previous journeys and have always liked the food. However, due to its popularity, the buffet was already fully booked. Undeterred, we decided to try out one of the à la carte restaurants, Grill.
Grill boasted a cosy ambience but it could have been more peaceful. The menu offered simple but tasty options, and we both decided to go for the classic choice - the hamburger. The waiter promptly took our orders, and our food arrived faster than expected. The burgers were delicious and big enough. The restaurant also served alcoholic drinks from a good selection.
Shopping at Tax-Free
Gabriella owns a large tax-free store that offers a wide range of products including sweets, wines, snacks, alcohol, and clothes. We decided to quickly browse through the clothing section to see if there were any good deals, but unfortunately, we didn't find anything worth buying. Finally, we only purchased a few drinks and some snacks for our cabin.
When travelling on the Helsinki-Stockholm ferries, you can always expect a lively and entertaining atmosphere. These ferries offer a variety of entertainment options to keep passengers entertained throughout the journey. From playing bingo for money to listening to talented troubadours, singing karaoke, enjoying live bands, or watching captivating shows, there's something for everyone.
During our trip, we had the pleasure of attending an intriguing magic show at Club Mar at the rear of the ferry. The show started at 10 pm and had us captivated with its illusions with a comedian twist. During the show, we enjoyed a few drinks from the club's bar.
Your mobile internet connection won't be working normally while traversing in the middle of the Baltic Sea. Fortunately in m/s Gabriella, you can enjoy the free Wi-Fi service. The Wi-Fi on the ferry is reliable and stable.
Time in Stockholm
After 16 hours sailing in the sea, m/s Gabriella finally arrived in Stockholm at 10 a.m. Viking Line's Helsinki to Stockholm cruises give passengers 6 and a half hours of free time to explore the city. It is important to allot enough time required to disembark from the ship and return to the port, which typically amounts to approximately 20 minutes before departure. Passengers are required to be at the harbour at the latest of 30 minutes before departure.
While we had originally planned not to do shopping in Stockholm, our main focus was to enjoy a delicious meal and then engage in other activities depending on the weather conditions.
We had the pleasure of dining at Restaurant Oxenstiernan in Östermalm, a Michelin-starred establishment that still offers affordable prices. While we typically don't indulge in such high-end lunches, we were fortunate enough to have some unused Dining by Amex credits covering our delicious Stockholm lunch meal free.
As we were expecting, the dishes from the menu, including the dessert and natural drinks, were a delight to our taste buds. During the summer season, the restaurant has outdoor seating, so it is advisable to dress appropriately for the occasion. We had the pleasure of enjoying a warm and calm summer day.
After the satisfying meal, we made our way to Avicii Arena to experience a memorable ride by SkyView. This attraction offers visitors a unique opportunity to ascend to the top of the world's largest spherical building inside a comfortable gondola. After the ride, we enjoyed some afternoon coffee at the nearby shopping mall. While we were already running out of time, we took a tram and bus back to the port.
Inboud Journey to Helsinki
Dinner at Bistrotek
The ferry departed back to Helsinki at 4:30 p.m. We were already feeling a little hungry so it was time to look for dinner. The buffet seemed an excessive option, and we had already tried Grill during the outbound journey. Coffee & Joy would have been too simple to satiate our hunger. With these options out of the picture, we were left with a choice between the elegant À la Carte & Seafood Bar or the more affordable Bistrotek.
We ultimately settled on Bistrotek, enticed by its reasonable prices. There was self-service. We decided to order Stout Glazed Pork Ribs which were ready in a few minutes. The meal was delicious as always on Viking Line.
It is advisable to purchase souvenirs during the return journey. The price level on the ferry is lower than on the mainland of Finland. Although we didn't intend to buy anything, we still managed to bring back a few drinks and sweets.
Magic Show at Club Mar
There is entertainment every day at the ship's nightclub, Club Mar. Also during the inbound journey, there was a magic show at 10 p.m. Ferry's band was playing live music before and after the show. Earlier there was a program for the whole family including simple games with prizes. Karaoke could be sung above the nightclub in Upstairs Pub.
What Else to Do Onboard?
There is Archipelago Spa & Sauna at the bow of the ferry. We did not try it ourselves this time. The spa has a Finnish Sauna, steam sauna and jacuzzis for relaxing with drinks. The price is reasonable costing 14 euros. We recommend visiting the spa right away after the ferry has departed from Stockholm and is cruising through the beautiful Stockholm archipelago.
Young people love to party the whole night at the ferry's Disco Inferno. Partying is popular, especially during the weekends. If you are not a dancing queen, travelling on a weekday may be a better choice. Also, the ticket rates are much lower and there are fewer people onboard.
Living Room or Lounge is a peaceful bar next to Club Mar. There is no entrance fee as in traditional lounges but you only pay for the drinks. Living Room is perhaps the most peaceful place to enjoy drinks on the ferry and it offers amazing views of the sea. This is the bar where you taste real champagne. We didn't visit the Living Room ourselves but we noticed how peaceful it was inside every time we passed by.
We rate Viking Line's m/s Gabriella as a 3.5-star ferry. If the ferry was newer, we would give it a half star more. The ferry has all the services that you need for a short cruise. The entertainment is of high quality. Everything works well and the crew are friendly. However, as Gabriella is meant to transport cargo and passengers on a single route, it can't reach the same level as real cruise ships. In its class, Gabriella does everything well.
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 m/s Gabriella a modern ferry?
- Gabriella is 31 years old but it has been renovated. It is not the most modern ferry anymore but it is clean and comfortable inside.
- How long does it take to sail from Helsinki to Stockholm?
- The duration of the trip is approximately 18 hours.
- How long does the ferry stay in Stockholm?
- The ferry stays for 6 and a half hours at the Port of Stockholm.
- Are there restaurants on board?
- Yes, there are many of them.
- Are there nightclubs onboard?
- Yes, there are. Club Mar and the ship's disco.
- Is there a sauna onboard?
- Yes, there is a Finnish sauna and spa.
- Is there a shop onboard?
- Yes, there is a big tax-free store.
- What are the cabins like?
- The cabins are simple and small including beds, a toilet and a bathroom. However, there are also premium cabin classes available.
- Where to buy ferry tickets?
- We recommend buying tickets on Direct Ferries.
- Is travelling by Viking Line's m/s Gabriella a good choice?
- Absolutely. Prices are reasonable, the service onboard is friendly and the ferry has many services.
The summer is the best time to travel from Helsinki to Stockholm by the sea. You can enjoy the sunshine and the views on the outer decks, which is impossible in winter. Gabriella has large outdoor areas so the ferry is an excellent choice for summer cruising. However, it is not the most modern ferry anymore which is compensated by the lower ticket prices.
Because the ferry sails from the centre (Katajanokka Terminal in Helsinki) to the centre (Stadsgården Terminal in Stockholm), it is a more practical option than flying between Helsinki and Stockholm. If you visit Stockholm for one day, you do not need a hotel because you sleep in a cabin on the ferry. The basic cabins are small but they have all the necessary services. If you are ready to pay more, there are also suites available.
Have you travelled on a ferry between Helsinki and Stockholm? Comment below!
We have been following the travel industry for years, while travelling in Finland, in various regions of Europe and Asia. Our multicultural background with the extensive travel experience gives us a diverse perspective. We encourage individuals embark on high-quality yet sustainable journeys. Furthermore, we are thrilled to introduce the captivating beauty of our homeland, Finland.