It feels like the summer is almost over, at least in Slovakia.
We had the first rain, thunder, and even foggy morning. Something that gets me pretty excited, considering I live in a country with only two seasons. But before we start getting all gloomy and winter-ready, lets have a little bit of summer back – I have a few summer updates ready to be shared and enjoyed!
Starting with my all-time favourite activity in Finland (after eating) – cruising!
I’m quite certain I must have done a cruise every time we visited Finland.
Why? Because you get to see the glorious archipelago from up close, enjoy a stunning sunset with a gourmet dinner and dance the night away in the live club with live music. Alternatively, you can pass time in a spa, sauna, gambling in the casino or shopping for some souvenirs in the tax-free shops. All of this on one big boat.
When the opportunity came this year, we went all in and upgraded to a cabin with a view.
Leaving behind Turku with it’s parade of Tall Ships.
Welcome on board of Viking Lines!
Our journey takes us from Turku in early evening, stopping over in Mariehamn and Stockholm, and all the way back to Turku. The cruise leaves around 8-9pm and you get back the next day same time.
Alternatively, you can get of in Stockholm and catch the boat back on other day.
Before I froze on the desk, we had to quickly run inside to drop our bags and head for the dinner.
We gathered a group of friends and booked two big tables to enjoy the festivities together.
There are plenty of dining options both for families and fuzzy eaters.
below – the club seating with outdoor terrace at the back of the boat – that’s where you get gorgeous views without having to fight the wind.
The weather was beautiful and the boat was slowly gliding passed summer houses and hundreds of tiny islands.
The views get everyone excited.
As the sun was setting down, we gathered for dinner.
I mentioned the dinner was a buffet, but it’s not your average buffet.
The main feature are of course Scandinavian specialties – herring in 10 different varieties, salmon, local berries, fresh salads, new harvest potatoes, healthy crunchy veggies and even carved meat.
The buffer comes with unlimited drinks too.
Now I got your interest, right?
I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of the buffet setup, frankly I was too hungry to be bothered. You just have to trust my word it was damn delicious, as always.
After food, we had a quick peak inside the tax free shop.
Among local delicacies and some designer gifts, you will find the most popular souvenirs – Moomin themed mugs and gifts and of course Fazer chocolates in any shape and size.
The cruise is popular for the discounted alcohol, which people buy by crates. Its not cheap by our average standards, but cheaper than buying it from the government controlled alcohol shops on mainland.
Rest of the night was well spent in the nightclub.
Starting with live music until late and then with a DJ until early hours of the morning. The club stretches in two floors, with a full length bar on each floor and plenty of seating.
If the music is not to your taste, you can pop out on the desk for a private party of your own.
Most of the next day was spend outside on the deck.
Approaching Mariehamn is a sight in itself. Located on a island (Aland) between Sweden and Helsinki, this harbour welcomes some of the biggest cruise ships, including the regular lines of Silja Line and Viking Lines.
If you get a chance to spend holiday in Aland, you will be in for a treat. You can see the whole island with just a bike and it offers some of the most beautiful sceneries and Scandinavian cottages you can find. The well connected ferries will let you travel from Aland all the way to Turku archipelago.
Back inside the boat, it was time for recovery from hangover and a late lunch.
This time we tried one of the on-board restaurants we haven’t been in yet.
Snapping the best seats in the house.
And opting for a rather unusual kind of pizza – with crayfish, cream and fresh dill.
Crunchy, soft flavour and absolutely delicious.
We chatted away and watched the traffic go by.
Before we knew it, our 24 hour adventure was over again.
In case you’re interested booking this cruise yourself, here are few practical information:
- you can get a package that allows you to stay 1 day in Stockholm before taking a ship back
- the tickets for the cruise start from 120 eur for two adults, even cheaper off season. The price depends on the type of cabin you book, the basic one with bed and no window is even cheaper. Full details and options with prices are here.
- if you’re travelling with kids, they will be well taken care for – there is kids club, playrooms and even kids disco. I believe there is also an on-board babysitting service.
- you can also buy a half cruise, which I did before – it goes from Turku to Mariehamn and takes all day. For this one you don’t need to purchase a cabin, only a standard ticket
- busiest seasons for cruising are in summer and pre-Christmas when you will see a lot of business Christmas gatherings on the ship (there is also a Santa on board of course)
- the cruises also run from Helsinki, although at different times than Turku. The same company operates cruises also to Tallinn and Riga (due to re-open this year)
- if you’re booking a boat from Turku, try to get a cruise with Viking Grace, it’s the newest and most comfortable of all their ships
If you have any questions, happy to help, just leave a comment below!