by Roger Findlay

Sailing on the Spirit of Tasmania to Devonport or Melbourne is a very attractive option especially for those intending to tour around in a car or for those towing a caravan.

The Spirit of Tasmania - Mersey River Devonport

The Spirit of Tasmania passenger ferry, Devonport

Sailing on the Spirit: Facts & Figures

I have worked through the figures and there is little difference in price between sailing with my own vehicle on the Spirit of Tasmania, or flying and hiring a car. Boarding with a vehicle is simple. After checking in, you drive up a ramp onto the ship and park the vehicle. After taking note of your location, you leave the car deck by a lift or stairs and that’s about it.

If you are travelling on an overnight sailing you will have the option of a cabin or recliner seats. On a day sailing you can relax all the way in the lounge areas or pay the extra for a cabin. I have experienced all of the options. Recliner seats are intended for those on a budget. They are comfortable but you are sharing a large seated area with many other travellers and have to accommodate their habits (eg. snoring etc.)

Cabin accommodation is small with two single beds or two singles with two bunks over the top. Inside cabins or porthole cabins are offered but it makes little difference as there’s not a lot to see except sea!

Champagne and Luxury Cabins

There are a few luxury cabins at the front of the ship with a large port hole, double bed, table and chairs, television, fridge and complimentary bottle of champagne. Unless you’re a honeymoon couple, this option is hardly worth the extra as it’s only yours for the ten hour trip.

The Spirit of Tasmania Hospitality

We normally sail at night and we love to eat in the Spirit of Tasmania restaurant. Before going to our cabin, we go to the Leatherwood Restaurant and book one of the best tables, usually for 8pm. We then go to our cabin and leave our overnight bags before heading to one of the bar areas for a few quiet ones.

If you are travelling with small children, there is a supervised play area for them and on the summertime day sailings there is continuous entertainment. The on board cinema screens two movies and this really helps to pass the time away.

Mainly of Tasmanian origin, the food in the restaurant is excellent; but the wine list falls a bit short in this area. Apart from the restaurant, there is another eatery that serves hot and cold dishes self-serve style. The price is very reasonable and is based on plate size.

Smooth Sailing

The issue of rough sailings and sea sickness is always raised and often exaggerated. I have travelled on a few rough crossings and have talked with the Medical Officer on board. He is seldom busy with sea sickness victims and I have never seen a person being sick. Yes, the Spirit of Tasmania ship can rock and make it difficult to walk and to sleep but she’s a big ship that has stabilisers to cope with the roughest of seas.

The Spirit of Tasmania - Sailing

Sailing: Spirit of Tasmania vehicle and passenger ferry

To be honest, I have never had a good night’s sleep on the Spirit of Tasmania. My wife snores all the way! But I just lie and rest, occasionally dozing off. At about 5.30 am there is a wake-up call and then it’s into the small toilet/shower for the morning ritual. For those travelling without a cabin, there are no shower facilities.

A basic breakfast of cereal, croissants, juice, tea or coffee is available and then the wait begins before the car deck is called. This seems to take forever but once you’re in your car it’s not long before you’re driving down the ramp and off the ship.

The Spirit of Tasmania - Arriving in Devonport

Arriving in Devonport: holiday in Tasmania

All Aboard… Except for Foxes!

If you are leaving the ship in Melbourne, you drive off and you are on your way but there is a delay for the quarantine check when you arrive in Devonport. This can be quite frustrating especially during peak season but please be respectful by not taking fruit, vegetables, plants (or foxes) into Tasmania.

Please check the Spirit of Tasmania website for expanded details including travelling with pets and gas bottles.

Bon Voyage!

The Spirit of Tasmania - Passenger & Vehicle Ferry

Spirit of Tasmania: passenger and vehicle ferry

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