When I moved to Melbourne I declared that within the year I was going to take the Spirit of Tasmania from Melbourne to Devonport in Tasmania’s north. Sure, flying from Melbourne to Hobart or Launceston are options, but isn’t the journey half the fun of travelling to a new place?!
Having just moved to Melbourne, my American housemate and I decided we needed to get out of town for a weekend and what better place to start than Tasmania? The decision to take the ferry to Tasmania also meant that I could bring my car onboard which meant saving money to put towards our great getaway!
The Spirit of Tasmania departs Melbourne for Devonport nightly at 7:30pm and arrives the following morning at 6:00am. Check-in was easy, just drive through to collect your boarding pass and cabin keys from the attendant at the check-in booth before driving over the gangway onto the ship. Then, grab your overnight bag, lock up your car and head up to your cabin ready to set sail!
One thing we didn’t take into consideration before our trip was that the sun sets well before departure during the Autumn/Winter months meaning darkness had set in over the city and glimmers of neon lights from Port Melbourne and the city were in the distance from the stern. Still a beautiful experience but not quite the stunning sunset experience that Amy & Kieron and Caz & Craig enjoyed on their own Spirit of Tasmania voyages.
Before dinner, we set out to explore what the ship has to offer guests while onboard. Vickie, my housemate, and I picked up some brochures and a map from the Tourism on Board as inspiration for our road trip – and future trips! – and I picked some of House of Anvers fudge from the Lavender Cafe for us to share before it all disappeared as a lot of passengers were milling around, buying drinks and snacks, waiting for the FIFA World Cup match to begin on one of the TV’s.
Wandering through the ship we came across the Galactica Games Room with a pinball machine and a car racing game that was calling me to play, though Vickie wasn’t keen to take me on; a gift store with Tasmanian souvenirs – like the cute Tasmanian Devil toy, toiletries, reading material and snacks; and even an onboard cinema that screens two free movies a night – a family friendly film at 8pm and a PG or M-rated movie at 10pm.
Reservations had been made at The Leatherwood Restaurant with a menu focusing on quality Tasmanian produce such as Atlantic salmon, smoked quail and Tasmanian cheeses – yum!
All meals have suggested wine pairings though with an early start I figured it best to stick to just one glass of Storm Bay Merlot from Granton, South Tasmania to pair with my main.
Both Vickie and I ate the 3 cheese arancini balls with roasted garlic aioli for the entree. The arancini were served a perfect golden colour and after breaking through the slight crunch of the exterior had a had a warm slightly oozy cheesy centre.
While Vickie opted for the crispy skin Atlantic salmon, I chose the oven roasted chicken breast with roasted baby root vegetables and a port wine reduction. The chicken had a lovely seasoned skin that was slightly crisped leaving the middle soft and moist, just how I liked it.
Though we were both pretty full by this time we were determined to enjoy dessert. With Tasmanian cheese to House of Anvers chocolate and fudge tasting plates or Leatherwood honey panna cotta on the menu it was a tough decision to finally settle on the apple frangipane tart with toffee apple wafers and double cream. A (fairly) light finish to a tasty meal.
While I enjoyed the apple frangipane tart was good, Vickie definitely had the winning dessert choosing ‘Death by Chocolate’ Modo Mio Naked Brownie with berry coulis and vanilla bean ice cream that stole the show. She enjoyed it so much she almost didn’t want to let me taste a mouthful and only agreed once I declared it was in the name of research!
On the way back I enjoyed the vegetarian main meal of fresh tagliatelle with slow roasted vegetable ragout, basil and fresh parmesan. The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente, with me musing if the pasta chef would consider coming back to our apartment to teach us his pasta cooking skills!
Again, it was filling but a light meal after eating so much great food during our trip to Tasmania.
By the time we had finished dessert both of us were ready to curl up in our twin cabins with ensuite for a goodnights sleep. While I’ve slept onboard a ship before, Vickie was a little nervous about sleeping on the ship worried that she might get seasickness, though when I spoke to her in the morning she said she felt fine but was glad that she was prepared just in case.
The cabins offer a comfortable space to relax and sleep with a small ensuite with shower, desk and power sockets for charging. One thing that would be nice to see in the future is small TV’s in the cabins in case you don’t want to sit in the lounge, though the Deluxe Cabins already offer this feature.
The Bass Strait, separating Tasmania from the Mainland, is quite a rough patch of water but for most passengers onboard you’ll barely feel more than a gentle rock. On the way back from dinner on the way over we had really bad weather and I found myself swaying a little as I walked and woke up as the ship rocked heavily once or twice, but on the return journey I slept through a steady journey the whole way home and woke up refreshed and ready to watch the sun rise as we docked in Port Melbourne.
I was pleasantly surprised by my journey onboard the Spirit of Tasmania. The food totally exceeded expectations, especially with the choice and taste, and I was really happy with the ease of boarding, staffs help when I got lost onboard (twice!) and the comfort of the experience.
Vickie and I have both already begun planning a return trip using the copy of Experience Tasmania we downloaded, perhaps back to Bridestowe Lavender Estate when the flowers are in full bloom or maybe a return trip to Hobart since one night was not enough to taste all the great restaurants and wine!
Now it’s over to you
What are your thoughts on taking an overnight ship?
Is Tasmania on your bucket list?
Spirit of Tasmania
Travels between Port Melbourne, Victoria and East Devonport, Tasmania.
There are many different ways to experience your trip – day tickets (in summer), Ocean Recliners, or Cabins. Walk-on or sail & drive options. For all information, including the ferries schedule, check the Spirit of Tasmania website.
Dining in Leatherwood Restaurant
2 course meal $56 p/person
3 course meal $64 p/person
Tea and coffee included, all other beverages are additional.
I was a guest onboard the Spirit of Tasmania.
All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.