What comes to your mind when you hear the word “cruise”? Don’t know about you but I always thought that it’s something very fancy and luxurious, something that only rich people can enjoy. But when I came to Finland, I realized that cruises can be a fun way of travelling at a reasonable price. And as it turned out, a budget traveler can also afford a cruise from Helsinki to Stockholm or Tallinn even without the Club One membership card.
I’ve specially checked most affordable offers on Tallink.com webpage. And price for the cheapest cabin that I could find was only 49 euros*. It’s a C2-class cabin for 1-2 persons (9 m2, bunk bed, WC, shower). Only inconvenience is its location – deck 2, which is situated under the water. So, you might experience some noise during your travel. Well, that and a thought that technically you are staying under the water the whole time. B-class cabins are a bit more expensive, but I think it’s worth the price, and it’s also 2 m2 bigger than a C-class cabin.
* prices vary depending on the day of the week
We are usually taking DeLuxe class (14 m2) or Commodore cabin (20-25 m2), which we can afford thanks to the Club One card benefits. But this time as an experiment we chose much cheaper option. A-class cabin with the window to the sea side.**
** it is also possible to have a cabin with the window that overlooks the Promenade, so called “main street”
If you wish to know how Silja Symphony cruise ship looks from the inside or if you want to see our cabin, then you should check out IGTV on my Instagram.
We paid 127 euros for this trip. And what did we get for this price besides the A-class cabin? One buffet-breakfast, one buffet-dinner for two persons in Grande Buffet restaurant and two drink coupons worth 7 euros each.
Ship was leaving 5 o’clock in the evening and arriving to Stockholm at 9.45 in the morning. It was going back to Helsinki same day in the evening and the next morning we were coming back to Helsinki harbor (Olympia Terminal). Keeping in mind this schedule we decided to have both breakfast and dinner the day when we are in Stockholm. That way we could save money on the food during our day trip in the capital of Sweden.
And in order not to starve on our first evening onboard, we took some snacks with us. Ironically these snacks were meatballs. So, there we were, sitting in our cabin, enjoying the sea view and eating delicious Finnish meatballs cooked by my husband, on a ship that was taking us to the land of famous Swedish meatballs.
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There are few restaurants on the ship, couple of bars, casino, night club and lounge, Sunflower Oasis (swimming pool and sauna area), playroom for kids, all kinds of Tax-free shops: fashion, gifts and souvenirs, electronics, toys, makeup, perfumes, alcohol, etc.
The cruise program starts already 3.30pm (local time) with the live music on main deck. Later in the evening passengers are entertained by acrobatic show. And 8.00 o’clock in the evening you can either go to Sea Pub to have a drink and listen troubadour playing or hit the floor in the Starlight.
Most interesting part of the program though (in my opinion) is the Late-night dance show. This trip the night show was performed by the Uniq Entertaiment. You can check it out on my IGTV as well.
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Grande Buffet restaurant
Breakfast buffet was pretty ordinary and similar to a continental breakfast that you can see in most of the European hotels; porridge, muesli, fruits, sliced ham and cheese, boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, bacon, small sausages, etc. Nothing really special. That is why I didn’t even bother to make any photos. And to be completely honest, this breakfast was a bit of a disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, food overall was OK and exactly what I expected it to be. But I wish their bread and croissants would be fresh. That was the main bummer for me. Other thing that disturbed me was so called “egg butter” (Finnish: munavoi), a mixture of chopped hard boiled eggs and butter, which you put on top of the rice pie (Karelian pasty or Karelian pie; Finnish: karjalanpiirakka). We make it quite often at home for breakfast, so I guess my expectations are always high when it comes to this dish. And the one I tried in Silja Symphony was nothing to do with an egg butter, it tasted more like a buttery margarine with the hint of an egg.
Food that I liked most was of course salmon, simply because it’s my absolute favourite fish, mini-sausages (they are always good) and mini-pancakes.
As for dinner buffet… well, I won’t be exaggerating if I say that Grande Buffet not only positively surprised me, they’ve done much more, they managed to blow my mind. Seriously! I mean, look at it:
Do any of these sound like a budget traveller’s food to you?! They also offered a nice selection of warm dishes, like creamy potatoes, rice, fried vegetable spring rolls, meatballs and lingonberries, BBQ baby back ribs, fried trout, crab cakes.
But I think that real standout of the evening were appetizers and desserts. Grande Buffet cooks have done an outstanding job! They’ve made everything look like a mini-piece of art! Oh, and the flavours! Some tasted so damn good that I had to take more, way more than I should have.
So, summing it all up I can say without hesitation that our budget cruise was as fun and as exciting as the upgraded version of it. Cabin was nice and cozy, it was great to have a sea view window, the late-night show was spectacular and dinner buffet menu was as good as a 5-star restaurant. I had an amazing time! And i can’t wait to go to Stockholm again.
Hope you enjoyed it!