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A Taste of the Real Spirit of Tasmania

Spirit of Tasmania

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!

Onboard the Spirit of Tasmania (ferry between Melbourne and Devonport, Tasmania)

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.

Onboard the Spirit of Tasmania (ferry between Melbourne and Devonport, Tasmania)

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.

Onboard the Spirit of Tasmania (ferry between Melbourne and Devonport, Tasmania)

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.

Spirit-of-Tasmania-Leatherwood-Restaurant-Entree-rancini-Ball

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.

Onboard the Spirit of Tasmania (ferry between Melbourne and Devonport, Tasmania)

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.

Onboard the Spirit of Tasmania (ferry between Melbourne and Devonport, Tasmania)

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.

Onboard the Spirit of Tasmania (ferry between Melbourne and Devonport, Tasmania)

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!

Onboard the Spirit of Tasmania (ferry between Melbourne and Devonport, Tasmania)

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.

Onboard the Spirit of Tasmania (ferry between Melbourne and Devonport, 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?

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DetailsSpirit of Tasmania

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.

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I was a guest onboard the Spirit of Tasmania.
All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.

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23 Comments

  • Reply
    Stacey
    July 9, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    I love Tassie! I ate my way around the island. The people are lovely and the forests – wow! Just amazing!

    To answer your prompt: I would (and have) take an overnight ship. I’ve already been to Tassie, but if I hadn’t it would be on my bucket list. 🙂

  • Reply
    Anna Johnston
    July 10, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    Oh, you make me want to do this adventure now, Tasmania is on my list, but for later in my life. Seems strange to say that, especially because the things I like to do include hiking and outdoor adventuring. So no, I haven’t don’t the overnight to Tassie, but I do love travel by ship/cruising, so I reckon I’d dig this. Looks like you had fun!

    • Reply
      Tim
      July 21, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      Great write up Nicole. Hoping I can go back on the Spirit next time I head to Tas!

      Anna I’d encourage you to reconsider waiting until later in life to try tassie! I went two years back with my gf and it was one of the best trips we’ve ever taken. More Australian’s need to go explore what Tassie has to offer, it’s a truly amazing place.

      It has a bit of something for everyone I think. If you’re keen on the outdoor aspect have a look at the write up Neil from Bushwalking blog did 🙂

      http://www.bushwalkingblog.com.au/tasmania-with-kids-cradle-valley/

  • Reply
    rebecca
    July 11, 2014 at 9:03 am

    the food looks really good! I have always wanted to visit Tasmania by ferry… the mode of transport is half the fun after all.

    • Reply
      Nicole
      August 5, 2014 at 3:02 pm

      The food IS really good Rebecca!

      Hope you can catch the ferry soon. It’s a fantastic experience and the good food is just the icing on the cake! 🙂
      Be sure to grab some House of Anvers fudge from the cafe before it all disappears though!

  • Reply
    Alexis Kensey
    July 12, 2014 at 7:01 am

    Great post! I cannot wait to make it there next year!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      August 5, 2014 at 3:01 pm

      Thanks! If you have any questions let me know if I can help, Alexis. 🙂

  • Reply
    Xarisha
    July 12, 2014 at 11:53 am

    I absolutely love this report of your voyage on the Superfast III! (Wait, did I just trick y’all? Wish a time travel machine would take me & the whole Southeast Melbourne toPatras in 1998!) love your blog too, and 10K Twitter followers is truly impressive. I love ma lil 1021, and I don’t expect that many – bonafide ferry enthusiasts like ma self don’t usually get loads of ’em!! Rebecca, you couldn’t be more right, and PS, as I always say, you’ve sailed on a Greek – and Finnish built – ferry, without touching your passport. And Superfast III broke the Piraeus-Heraklion speed record whilst being registered in Patras…Thank you,
    Xarisha Hudson, Melbourne

  • Reply
    Xarisha
    July 12, 2014 at 11:54 am

    I absolutely love this report of your voyage on the Superfast III! (Wait, did I just trick y’all? Wish a time travel machine would take me & the whole Southeast Melbourne toPatras in 1998!) love your blog too, and 10K Twitter followers is truly impressive. I love ma lil 1021, and I don’t expect that many – bonafide ferry enthusiasts like ma self don’t usually get loads of ’em!! Rebecca, you couldn’t be more right, and PS, as I always say, you’ve sailed on a Greek – and Finnish built – ferry, without touching your passport. And Superfast III broke the Piraeus-Heraklion speed record whilst being registered in Patras…Thank you,
    Xarisha Hudson, Melbourne

    • Reply
      Nicole
      August 5, 2014 at 3:00 pm

      Love to hear that there are ferry enthusiasts out there! 🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Look forward to reading more about ferries on your blog – I must say, I did really enjoy your journey between Helsinki and Stockholm as well and hope to write about that soon.

      Safe travels!

  • Reply
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    […] After you check out in the morning, be sure to enjoy breakfast at Castray Esplanade Food + Wine. Showcasing gourmet Tasmanian produce with a short simple menu and plenty of homemade goods; I suggest the egg and bircher muesli with poached pear and a freshly squeezed juice. A healthy way to start the day before my chocolate binge at the nearby Cadbury chocolate factory and the drive from Hobart back to Devonport to board the Spirit of Australia. […]

  • Reply
    Katie
    July 25, 2014 at 3:10 am

    Seems like the best way to get to Tasmania to me. I’ve ridden many utilitarian ferries in my time, so it’s always nice to ride something that has cruise ship-like features!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      August 5, 2014 at 2:51 pm

      And it’s a lot better than airport lines, Katie!

      Hope you get to ride the Spirit of Tasmania soon. 🙂

  • Reply
    Zoe @ Tales from over the Horizon
    July 28, 2014 at 1:02 am

    Completely agree that travelling to the destination is a great part of the journey. The boat trip looks great. 🙂

    • Reply
      Nicole
      August 5, 2014 at 2:49 pm

      Being onboard the Spirit of Tasmania is a great journey starter (or ender). Highly recommend it, Zoe!

  • Reply
    Greg Smith
    August 19, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    The Food on the Spirit to Sydney was the best !!!

  • Reply
    Liz Howard
    May 31, 2015 at 10:40 am

    we want to know how we go with taking a camper trailer, car, 2 small dogs, generator, petrol can , we have been told that we have to have both generator and can empty for at least 6 months, if you could please look at the above information as we are wanting to travel to Tasmania in February 2017.

    • Reply
      Nicole
      May 31, 2015 at 6:18 pm

      Hi Liz,
      I know that they have special kennels/cages for the dogs to be placed in

      I don’t know specifics for the generator/petrol can but I would suggest getting in contact with Spirit of Tasmania for the most up-to-date answers. You can contact them via phone or their contact form located here –> http://www.spiritoftasmania.com.au/about/contact-us/

      Enjoy your trip! Tasmania is absolutely beautiful. 🙂

  • Reply
    Marilynn
    October 24, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    We are booked on The Spirit tomorrow. We have travelled on it once before and looking forward to seeing the new updated ship. We had a great time on board the first time so eagerly anticipating another experience. We love Tasmania and this is our third visit and I know it won’t be our last. Sailing is a relaxing way to begin and end our holiday.

  • Reply
    Hannah Delconte
    June 24, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    Taking The Spirit of Tasmania leaving Melb. on the 17th of October 2016, taking my Mum who is 86 for a 2 weeks holiday, Mum has always wanted to see Tasmania, however never had the chance since she was Dad’s carer for years. l am making this a very special holiday for her, Together with my husband and Mum it will be a holiday of memories. I am hoping for a fairly smooth crossing, we have a 4 berth cabin. A little nervous regarding boarding with the car, but that is all part of the adventure.

    • Reply
      Nicole
      June 24, 2016 at 8:36 pm

      Hey Hannah,
      Sounds like quite the adventure you have planned with your Mum!

      Don’t be nervous about boarding your car. I was a little worried as well, but the procedure is simple and you will be guided every step of the way by the ships staff. All you do is drive up a little bridge and voila you are onboard! 🙂

      Have a fantastic trip onboard the Spirit of Tasmania and, of course, in Tassie! Do let me know how you go 🙂

  • Reply
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