During early February the Spirit Of Tasmania was advertising a ‘kids sail free’ promotion for the ferry to Tasmania from Melbourne on certain dates over winter. Being the avid traveller I am, I had to check it out as it seemed too good to be true.
Sure enough the Winter sale was during the school holidays and the prices were too good to pass over. I decided I would take the kids on the ferry to Tasmania for the second week of the holidays. This was my 4th trip to Tassie and I have seen most places between Hobart through to Launceston, however this was the kids’ first visit and there is still plenty of areas that I haven’t seen, in particular the west coast and the north east corner.
Great value for money?
The sale also included cabins and I was able to secure one for me and the kids (Craig had to stay home and work!) for the single price of $125 each way. This did not include the car but that was only a very reasonable $88 each way. That was a grand total of $426 return for 4 people. Pretty damn fine if you ask me so I jumped on it! For each paying adult you were able to take 3 kids for free.
Getting on the ferry to Tasmania – Spirit of Tasmania
We were told to be at Station Pier in Port Melbourne at 5pm as we had 2.5hrs to load the vehicles and the ship would be leaving at 7.30pm. It takes a little while once you go through security and then wait your turn to drive on. We had to sit on the pier for 35mins before loading our vehicle on the ship and making our way up to the 8th deck. Our cabin was just below the Bridge right at the very front of the ship. You need to take note of what level garage you park in as you are required to return to your car when called in the morning and they call you in order of where your vehicle is parked.
Anyone who knows the Bass Strait crossing, knows that at times it can be a rough ride. My sister had a shocker of an experience when she crossed, only to get home and find it on the front page of the newspaper that it was the roughest crossing ever! I rang Spirit of Tasmania the day before sailing, just to ask a question about loading the vehicle and whether I should give the kids sea sickness tablets. They were extremely helpful and provided all the reassurance I needed.
She informed me that due to the very stable, still weather pattern it had been a very calm crossing the last few days and I would be very unlucky to get a rough crossing. She also advised not to give the kids any sea sickness tablets unless they have had motion sickness before. This was music to my ears as Craig wasn’t coming on the ship with us due to work commitments, he flew over to Launceston Airport to meet us on the Friday night. I was worried I would have three sick kids and only one of me.
Well, the weather forecast said there would be a change on the afternoon that we would be leaving and to expect a gusty evening. I had already decided not to risk the kids getting sick as its only a tablet, it wont hurt. I also take them as I have been seasick a few times but usually when in the water snorkelling. You can never be too careful and didn’t need me falling sick and unable to help the kids.
We left our car and went straight up to our cabin on the 8th deck at the front of the ship. We put down our overnight bag and had some photos in our cabin. The cabin had 2 sets of bunks, one each side of the cabin and a bathroom right behind the door. It was small but you don’t need to much room for an overnight bag and really you are only on the ship for 11 hours and most of that time you are sleeping. The bathroom had a toilet, shower and sink. During the summer they have day crossings too but I don’t think I would bother with a cabin on a day crossing.
What’s there to do onboard?
For the kids:
We headed off for dinner on the 7th deck. That is pretty much were everything happens. You have two restaurants, a souvenir shop, a small play room for kids, a cinema (currently closed for renovations) and plenty of seating for those wanting to watch TV. We had dinner at the buffet and the kids had an ice cream then we headed back to our cabin to get settled in for the night.
For the adults:
There’s also plenty for those without kids to do. There’s a gaming room for those over 18 years old and 2 bars. There’s seating around the boat were you can sit and watch TV (the footy was on the night we went across) or you can go up to Deck 10 were there is an adults only bar. Smoking is not permitted inside but you are welcome to go out on the deck if thats what your into! There’s even a tour guide room for those that haven’t yet researched what there is to do in Tasmania.
Lucky we decided to head back to our cabin early as she was a rough night! How did the captain explain it? ‘Its going to get a bit rocky out there tonight so settle in’. Great……. Luckily I managed to get the kids into bed and asleep before leaving the heads but the first time I went to the toilet Alannah woke and she was a bit freaked out by how rocky it was.
How were our nights?
The way over:
Poor Alannah was a mix of terrified and nervous. Unfortunately it all got the better of her at one stage and she did throw up but only the once and I really think it was the nerves because if it was seasickness she would have been up the whole night.
It was one of those nights were you lay there thinking, this captain does this all the time right? If it was too rough and he was worried, the captain would turn back right? We are on the 8th deck, surely that’s not water I can hear hitting my window right? Do I actually feel sick or is it my imagination? This went on and on for hours!
Alannah dosed off shortly after 2am and I was somewhere around 3am, not so great when you have to disembark at 6am! Its funny when you wake up and think, what was I panicking for, we got here safely! I will just have to remember that when I am heading home again.
The way back:
I am very pleased to advise that the trip back was super smooth, like bath water out there. I wouldn’t have even known I was on a boat. We had the room next to our first room and the kids settled in really quickly and we all had a brilliant sleep and woke up at Station Pier in Melbourne. We were all really excited about getting home to see daddy after not having seen him for 4 whole days!
I’m glad that it happened that way, I would have been disappointed if Alannah only had negative feelings about the sailing. She hasn’t really spoken about the trip over since we have been home, where as she spoke negatively about the ship the whole time we were gone. I know she was nervous about coming home so I am so glad she now is more positive about the experience. I think on the way over we were just unlucky.
Would I do it again & what did the kids think?
Of course I would, its good that sailing has finished on a high note for Alannah and we can all clearly see the fun in sailing now. Keira and Caelan had no idea and slept through it all so for them it wasn’t an issue.
Tips for travelling with kids: I am glad that someone gave me the advice to get the kids in bed and asleep before you get through the heads when leaving Melbourne, if you are travelling with kids I think this is the best advise you can receive.
I didn’t see as much as I had hoped while we were over there, this of course means that we will have to return at some stage in the next few years. And why wouldn’t we, with such affordable prices getting across. Tasmania is spectacular in the winter and anyone who thinks they shouldn’t go in winter because its cold, is going to be proven wrong over the next fews posts. Tassie is a brilliant spot rain, hail or shine and I wouldn’t be put off by the cold, its nothing a jacket and beanie won’t fix.
There has been various ships over the last 50 years and I am more than happy that the ship we went on is the biggest! I bet back in the day she was a rough old ride. See below for the size differences and how things have changed.
While in Launceston we stayed at the Swamp Cottage and the Tamar Valley Resort. We visited Cradle Mountain, Bay of Fires, Mole Creek Caves and Cataract Gorge. We love how easy it is to get the ferry across to Tasmania and we will definitely do it again another time.
Happy travels, make sure you back your Kwells!