End of first semester – Two days off and no plans? Take a cruise to neighbouring country
Although the semester’s last written exam of solar thermal was tricky for most of the Solar energy engineering students, everyone was quite relieved since it marked the end of the extensive first semester.
We had three days on our disposal before the commencement of new semester. I was having FIKA with couple of my friends and planning for the activities to be done during those three days. January is not the best month in Sweden for outdoor activities and couple of days before the exam, the mercury level had dropped to -25°C.
Keeping this in mind we shortlisted warm water swimming, Badminton, Skiing and ice skating as the some of the activities to be done but suddenly my eyes settled on an email from Viking line (Finnish shipping company) which was offering cruise discount tickets to Helsinki (Finland).
In the middle of nowhere, it was planned to try Helsinki cruise since it was difficult to resist the tempting discount offered by Viking line to its member.
The cruise options and the cost
There are many luxury cruise ships which ferries on Baltic sea from Stockholm to Finland, Estonia and Riga. These cruises are very popular among Swedes and Finns. Mostly the crowds look forward to get drunk with friends and enjoy the clubs, food and tax-free shopping on the cruise.
We selected Helsinki cruise since we were eager to witness some of the old architectural gems offered by the city.
Viking line has daily cruise to Helsinki from Stockholm, it is 40-hour round trip with 7 hours to explore Helsinki city.
The normal price for the round trip is around 300-500 SEK / person for a bed in economy cabin but if you are Viking line member then the price can be as low as 15 SEK / person, depending upon the season and offer.
We booked a four-bedded economy cabin for 60 SEK. We were happy to get a sea facing cabin with attached bathroom on a 40-hour cruise at such a throw away price.
Massive apartment on the ship
The cruise ship was really huge with 11 deck (floors). Our cabin was situated at 4th deck.
Ship was so massive that it had nearly everything ranging from tax-free shops, cafes, pubs, hot bath tub, gym, spa, swimming pool, play area for kids, movie theatre, casinos, multiple restaurants and couple of clubs with live performance. It is like a sailing five-star hotel.
Security check in & departure
One of the strategy in providing nearly free tickets to the members is to boost revenue from the restaurants on ship. That’s why they have a very strict condition of not allowing any external foods on board. Though we knew this, we took a risk of carrying prepared meal since we were not planning to spend our entire money on buying food.
The cruise ship departs from Stadsgården Brick’s Harbour, Stockholm at 16:30 hour. The security check and check in was more stress-free as we expected and we got lucky in carrying our foods on board.
The first impression of the cruise was just awesome. We were fascinated by seeing attractive lobbies, long corridors and particularly our cabin with sea view.
Helsinki – the wonderland
We reached Helsinki the following day at 10 AM. We avoided the guided tour and instead decided to roam in the city and appreciate the wonderful architectural cathedrals and buildings. Temppeliaukio Church, Helsinki Senate Square, Uspenski Cathedral, Market square, Kamppi Chapel of Silence and Helsinki Cathedral were some of the unique structure which we managed to visit. A visit to Temppeliaukio Church (Rock church) is highly advised.
We boarded the cruise again after lunching at Helsinki Kamppi. The ship commenced its journey back to Stockholm at 17:30 hour. Everyone immediately fell asleep since we were exhausted after walking for nearly 5 hour.
The time spent on the cruise was exciting and truly memorable. We enjoyed the views of the waves, beautiful islands and stunning sunrise on the boat deck. The live performances and dance at the clubs were undoubtedly appreciable and relishing.
The cruise trip to neighbouring countries is highly recommended and did I forgot to mention that you get a free membership of Viking line only if you have a Swedish personal number.