Book the Spirit of Tasmania?  The things I do in the name of research!!  Not usually a sea-faring lass, my options were pretty limited in this:  either take the damn boat, or churn out a second-rate piece.  So, here’s my first-hand account (and I hope you’re grateful)…

Voyage on the Spirit of Tasmania

The vehicle and passenger ferries named Spirit of Tasmania I and II cross Bass Strait overnight between Melbourne on the mainland of Australia and Devonport in Tasmania.  Offering an alternative to flying (albeit a longer trip), there is the optional bonus of bringing your own car/caravan/boat and lots of extra luggage for a touring holiday.

Spirit of Tasmania
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The Spirit arrives in Tasmania from Melbourne, Victoria

As a movie lover, the cinema was a highlight (although for anyone vertically challenged, it would be a good idea to head to the front of the room where additional small-screen versions run simultaneously).  With a selection of movies scheduled throughout the evening, there’s enough time to browse the souvenir shops, mingle in the various lounges and bars, as well as check the ocean view from the observation decks.  Don’t want to miss your favourite Aussie TV show?  There’s also plenty of seating around the boat with screens tuned to different stations.

The fares* fluctuate with the season, with special rates and deals advertised frequently.  During peak times, sailings are added to the schedule during the day, eliminating the cost of accommodation.  However, you can usually buy a cabin for a day sailing or choose a recliner-seat overnight, so there are definitely flexible options to suit all budgets and tastes.

Spirit of Tasmania, Devonport
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Passengers wave to onlookers from the Spirit of Tasmania

For safety’s sake, I chose a cabin – mainly for some privacy in the event of sickness.  And the thought of trying to sleep  upright, in a room filled with travellers, potentially snoring…  You can see my point, I’m sure.  So, with the aid of several motion-sickness tablets, tucked into my skinny bunk, and with my own private bathroom close by, I actually did get rocked to sleep.  And you will be happy to hear, my only use for the bathroom was for my customary shower in the morning.

Spirit of Tasmania: an Early Morning Arrival

One thing I must point out, the morning wake up call via the public intercom right next to your head, is a VERY early one.  Sluggish passengers cannot just ignore the perky alarm:  “and the temperature outside today is…” because they leave a local broadcast running with no volume switch.  Intermittent reminders that there will be a mass exodus and you’d better be packed into your car ready to start your engine, also mean a quick, high-tension shower.  Heaven forbid if you wanted to enjoy a buffet breakfast – you’d have to rise at 5:00am!!  No thanks.

Okay, so I didn’t eat breakfast on board.  And I hate to admit that my journalistic resolve did not run to sampling the evening meal.  I did peruse the bistro and the food did look and smell very pleasant – but I’m afraid my nerves got the better of my stomach on this occasion.  Maybe I’ll have to venture on board again and sample the menu when the weather  forecast is mild with calm seas.

Perhaps also for the next crossing, the travel coffers of Think Tasmania will be more flush with funds and can spring for a deluxe room with a porthole!!  Wouldn’t that be nice?

The Spirit of Tasmania vessels can be seen (and photographed) arriving and departing Devonport from the viewing platforms on the city side of the Mersey River.

Spirit of Tasmania, Mersey River
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Mersey River viewing platform, Devonport

* For current prices and bookings, visit the Spirit of Tasmania site.

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