It was a wet and squally evening in Melbourne as I prepared to board the good ship Spirit of Tasmania II. I was already tired from the journey down from G West and the mentally draining trauma of crossing the West Gate Bridge as well as contending with the density of traffic whizzing by.

Ship - Vehicle and Passenger Ferry to Tasmania
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Melbourne: boarding the ship

Ship Ahoy: Sailing on The Spirit

by Roger Findlay

Being a frequent sailor, I recognised the security guy who was about to check my vehicle. I had my iPod going with a bit of Tom Petty. It was drowning the noise from the heavy rain and my man was getting a good soaking as he checked the cars for bombs, illicit drugs, alcohol and foxes!

Ship - Melbourne to Devonport
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Think Tasmania: Melbourne, Spirit of Tasmania II

Why on earth don’t they erect a structure with a roof (the same as Devonport) so that the vehicles can be checked out of the weather?

Leatherwood Restaurant

Once on board, I made my way to the Leatherwood Restaurant and made a booking for the latest sitting then I went down to the back of the ship, the stern, to get a nice, cold quenching ale.

Ship - Bar and Lounge
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On-board the ship: Spirit of Tasmania

The main lounge has The Spirit Bar but the dance floor of old has gone. Premium beers are sold at $7.50 each. I was drinking and had my two before the ship left port. A much better option would have been to sit in the up-market surrounds of the Leatherwood Restaurant; drink prices are the same as the bar.

Movie in the Cinema

Sailing alone, I chose the recliner option with a calculated plan for combating boredom. First of all, I made my way to the cinema to watch the 10:00pm movie.

At the end of the movie I was in time for one more beer before the bar closed at 11.50pm. I then had to fill-in five hours before any sort of activity re-commenced. All of the passengers had gone to cabins or recliners and the crew had vanished leaving just myself and one security guard to mind the ship.

Ocean Recliner or Not

I declined to recline on this sailing as I wanted to creep about, undisturbed, on Deck 7 taking photos for Think Tasmania. It also gave me plenty of time to jot a few ideas for future stories and the thesis I’m about to write for my Certificate 7.

Ship - Children's Play Room
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Spirit of Tasmania: children’s play room

I was tempted to enter the children’s play area where piped music was still playing. It’s ideally situated adjacent to the Captain’s Table so that parents can watch their children while tucking into a $30 meal consisting of a hearty plateful from the bain marie, sweet and drink.

Ship - the Captains Table
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Passenger ship: Captain’s Table, Spirit of Tasmania

Ship Security: Secret Service

Now I’m going to reveal a secret. Don’t tell anyone! Between the hours of 12.01am and 5.30am, everything is closed making it impossible to get a drink or a snack. Not even a vending machine on this ship! The security guard was on his rounds and commented that I was the lone night owl. He then directed me to the discreet location of an operable drink machine near the cash registers of the Captain’s Table. Coffee at no charge!

Ship - Coffee Machine
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Top secret coffee machine for Night Owls

On cue, action began at 5.30am. I took a bit of time studying the faces of tired looking crew as they emerged from cabins after a brief sleep. Some of them I recognised from previous sailings. Much of their conversation was about days off as they busily prepared continental breakfasts for early risers.

Ship - Lavender Cafe
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Lavender Cafe: Spirit of Tasmania ship

Love Boat v Spirit of Tasmania Ferry

This is no Love Boat. It’s a ferry where you’ll be mixing with people from all walks of life. Surprisingly it’s always quite peaceful, with no signs of trouble, when I sail.

Is it worth the money? I find that the trip for me and my vehicle is reasonably priced.

Ship - Devonport to Melbourne
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Spirit of Tasmania ship

Next week, I’ll be sharing the Leatherwood Restaurant experience: it’s not too bad.

Roger Findlay spends all his holidays in Tasmania, then writes about the experience for Think Tasmania. If you’d like Roger to visit you in the name of research (so we can publish information about your business), please contact us.

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