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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
Spirit of Tasmania
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.
Read more about Tasmania!
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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.