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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 set sail on the iconic Spirit of Tasmania from Melbourne to Devonport, in Tasmania’s north. Sure, flying from Melbourne to Hobart or Launceston is a faster option, but isn’t the journey half the fun of travelling to a new place?!

My friend Vickie had just moved from America to Melbourne, and with a spare week before starting her new job she was keen to explore Australia. Where better to begin than Tasmania?

Check-in for the Spirit of Tasmania

During the cooler months, the Spirit of Tasmania departs Port Melbourne nightly at 7:30 pm and arrives in Devonport the following morning at 6:00 am. that’s 11 hours.
During the warmer months, or on days with double sailings, the voyage only takes 9 hours.

Check-in was easy. Drive through to collect your boarding pass – and cabin keys if you booked a cabin – from the attendant at the check-in booth then before driving over the gangway onto the ship. 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.

It was still beautiful, as glimmers of neon lights from Port Melbourne and the city skyline could be seen from the stern; but it’s not so good if you are hoping to get photos. Next time I’ll be aiming to capture a stunning sunset experience like my friends Caz & Craig from yTravel Blog enjoyed on their own Spirit of Tasmania voyages.

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

What to do onboard the Spirit of Tasmania

Before dinner, we set out to explore what the ship has to offer guests while onboard. Vickie and I picked up some brochures and a map from the Tourism on Board office as inspiration for our road trip – and future trips! I’m a sweet tooth, so I also picked some of House of Anvers fudge from the Lavender Cafe for us to share.

Around us, people were buying drinks and snacks, waiting for the FIFA World Cup match to begin on one of the TVs. Others were shopping, dining or settling into their cabins for the eve.

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! While I played games, Vickie perused the gift store filled with Tasmanian souvenirs – like the cute Tasmanian Devil toy, toiletries, reading material and snacks.

For those who aren’t quite ready for bed and are seeking entertainment, there’s an onboard cinema that screens two free movies a night: a family-friendly film at 8 pm and a PG or M-rated movie at 10 pm.

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

What to eat onboard the Spirit of Tasmania

Reservations had been made at The Leatherwood Restaurant whose menu focused 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. Arancini are horrible when overcooked, but these were served a perfect golden colour, and after breaking through the slight crunch of the exterior, they 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 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, House of Anvers chocolate, and fudge tasting plates or Leatherwood’s famed pannacotta on the menu, it was a tough decision!

I settled 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 the apple frangipane tart was good, Vickie definitely had the winning dessert choosing ‘Death by Chocolate’, a 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 our return journey back to Melbourne, 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)

What are the cabins like onboard the Spirit of Tasmania?

By the time we had finished dessert both of us were ready to curl up in our twin cabins with ensuite for a good nights 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. 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.

How rough is the Spirit of Tasmania?

The Bass Strait, separating Tasmania from the Mainland, is a very 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 (we were travelling in late autumn) and I found myself swaying a little as I walked. It was on this journey that I also woke up in the middle of the night as the ship rocked heavily once or twice. On the return journey, I slept through undisturbed the whole way home and woke up refreshed and ready to watch the sunrise as we docked in Port Melbourne.

If you do get seasickness or any type of motion sickness, be sure to take medication just in case.

So, would you sail to Tasmania again?

I was pleasantly surprised by my journey onboard the Spirit of Tasmania. The food totally exceeded expectations, especially with the choice and taste. 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 lander is 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

Website: www.spiritoftasmania.com.au

Departure points: Port Melbourne Pier, 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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Read more about Tasmania!

Highlights of Tasmania’s North-East Touring Route!

What to see on a Road Trip from Launceston to Hobart

My Favourite Stop in Tasmania: Bridestowe Lavender Estate

The Best Boutique Stay near Launceston: The Red Feather Inn

Salamana Wharf Hotel: An Antarctica-styled Boutique Hotel in Hobart

Pin me for later!

Coming soon!

I was welcomed as a guest onboard the Spirit of Tasmania.
All thoughts, opinions and sugar highs from eating too much fudge are, as always, my own.

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24 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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    […] Club of Tasmania I stayed in a deluxe room with two queen beds – one for me and one for my Tasmanian road trip buddy, Vickie. Not being used to travelling with a blogger she flopped onto a bed, declaring […]

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    July 24, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    […] 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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