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Le Quiberon

Best cruiseferries in the Baltic?

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I am looking to travel the Baltics next spring in early April and I am wondering what the most impressive ferries of the Baltic are? I am looking for size, quality, central promenades etc. I am not looking for the Finnlines ro-pax style experience. 

I know that Color twins from Kiel and Silja Serenade/Symphony, Silja Europa are supposed to be the most impressive. I have heard good things about Viking Grace of course.

Do any other members of the forum have any other recommendations. 

Also, are the Color twins and Silja Serenade/Symphony the only vessels with central promenades?

Thanks!

Quibz.

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1 hour ago, Le Quiberon said:

I am looking to travel the Baltics next spring in early April and I am wondering what the most impressive ferries of the Baltic are? I am looking for size, quality, central promenades etc

In Early April you'll still experience sea ice and floes which, for us anyway, adds to the experience.

Tallink/Silja

Silja Serenade & Symphony are very similar internally to the the Color Cruise ferries from Kiel, they have the the internal triangle shaped promenade windows looking down onto a central avenue, quite striking if not experienced before and even have Moomin themed rooms! Yes I think they are the only three built this way.Their cruise from Stockholm to Helsinki sometimes means an overnight stay in Finland returning on the sister due to departure times. 

Europa has an open atrium and elevators similar to Pont Aven, the staircases opposite these lifts remind me of the inside of Color line's Kiel terminal, don't know why? There's a walkway of sorts with open shops either side. Tallink have spent around €20 million on her but I've not travelled on her since her return. She crosses the gulf from Helsinki to Tallinn.

Both Tallinn And Riga have beautiful old towns and the ships used offer an exceptional nights entertainment in their show bars. For us Baltic Queen to Tallinn is preferred (and has been several times!) Tallinn also has the KGB museum.

Viking Line...

Viking Grace is beautiful everywhere although I find her cruise short, you have no time in Turku as it's a straight turnaround back to Stockholm but for the prices Viking charge you could, as we did once, enjoy more than one trip. This is rotated with Amorella so there is also the chance of a ship change at Mariehamn in a short period of time. Viking Glory will replace her in 2021.

Mariella to Helsinki and back has been well looked after and offers good accommodation and food. If you've travelled on the Pride of Bilbao you'll know what to expect but her cabins have been kept nicely up to date. She's partnered with Gabriella which again has been very well maintained and like Cinderella and Grace offers balconies...

This is one on Gabriella & Baltic Queen to Tallinn are our favourite cruises and have done it many, many times.

Rosella is the old girl of the fleet and is up for sale, she's well kept and is more classically styled but lacks the facilities her fleet mates enjoy. She sails from further up the coast, which if in the mood is a pleasant drive if your mobile. Again it's another short one without much, if any, time ashore.

Cinderella has an all round younger livelier feel onboard. Like Grace her suites and premium cabins are exceptional, outside comfort are a little tight but still stylish.

Princess Anastasia has the added attraction of the 48 hour visa and compulsory St Petersburg city tour... the Hermitage and surrounding buildings are magnificent, it's a stunning city... a must visit.

The only aspect we found a little unsavoury when we travelled which was prior to the Moby takeover when both ships sailed, was the topless bar onboard. i have no idea if it still exists... Still, there was live sex shows in the bars across from the hotel in Kiel last year which I didn't take a blind bit of notice of, I was more interested in wiener schnitzel... must be getting old!

We part own a house on  the island of Tynningo overlooking the islands and Norra Lagno, the ferries pass so close you think you can touch them. We'll be travelling to either Helsinki or Tallinn May 11th.

Don't know how your getting there but we choose SAS in the U.K to Arlanda from Manchester and hire a car at the airport. Each of you has 2x23kg allowance for the hold and 1x8kg in the cabin. Free food and drink plus we have use of their lounge in Sweden. We've just paid £525 return for the two of us next May 8th.

Trains from the airport are good so too are the trams in Stockholm with easy connections to both ferry ports. If you want the metro the walk from Vartahamnen, the terminal Tallink/Silja & Moby use is a bit of a mystery tour, you need to follow the crowd.

 

 

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And Crown Seaways, Galaxy, Baltic Princess, Silja Serenade, Silja Symphony.  I’m sure there are one or two more...
 

Although no balcony cabins I would also include Stena’s Stena Saga (Frederikshavn - Oslo) as a scandinavian cruise ferry worth a visit.  Although stenafied in terms of decor she is still very much Silja Line’s epoch-breaking cruise ferry Silvia Regina of the 1980’s.

 

 

 

 

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I think the big Silja sisters are still the ships to go to if you want a bit of "wow" - the Fantasy and Magic are great but the Silja pair did it first and arguably better (I find the Color ships very slightly dated now; although it means they are original the Siljas on the other hand have been constantly spruced up). On the other hand Mariella is probably my overall favourite out of Stockholm; if you have time the Princess Anastasia has some nostalgic charm. 

Of the modern ones I very much like the Baltic Queen/Princess/Galaxy series, they are really great ships and I prefer them to the Viking Grace (which is very neatly done but I find just slightly underwhelming in some areas) and definitely to the Amorella which, like her sisters, was just a cheap, slightly modified facsimilie of the Mariella. You may as well go on the original. 

The DFDS pair are intriguing - Pearl Seaways and her sister are my favourites from that series of Viking Line ships of the 80s/90s; there's not much left of that now but she's still smart and well maintained, as is the Crown albeit from the lesser series of ships. 

Europa is Athena and Kalypso on steroids and interesting just for that although a bit too vast perhaps; and yes there is Stena Saga but I find her just a bit sad to sail on given how thoroughly they have destroyed the really lovely luxury ferry she once was. But Stena play down to the market on that route unfortunately.

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3 hours ago, Hampshire said:

Silja Serenade, Silja Symphony.

Neither of the Color Line nor Silja Serenade/Symphony have balcony cabins. I was on Pearl Seaways (ex Viking Athena) last month and wasn't impressed with her cabins although her food and shopping is very good. 

If considering the full Baltic/Scandinavian experience, don't forget the Fjord Line sisters from Hirtshals to Bergen. They don't have balconies but their suite bay windows protrude further out than the lifeboats and the deluxe cabins are a generous size. We've had a large deluxe which was very comfy.

 

2 hours ago, hhvferry said:

 Athena and Kalypso on steroids

I like it! hhv, any idea what plans P&O had for these two if their bid had been successful, possibly Portsmouth instead of the Olau twins perhaps?

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20 minutes ago, jonno said:

I like it! hhv, any idea what plans P&O had for these two if their bid had been successful, possibly Portsmouth instead of the Olau twins perhaps?

All the rumours suggested they were going to Le Havre and the Olaus becoming available was a fortunate back up plan.

The Olaus were, and are, great and even though probably not ideal by the end were still significantly better for freight than Athena and Kalypso would have been. But from a passenger perspective the Viking Line ships would have just been a different league.

Whether Athena and Kalypso would have been the right ships I don't know and don't really care - in reality it was probably a dodged bullet - but it would have just been amazing to experience them sailing from the UK, largely untouched.

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Some fascinating stuff on here so thanks to all. I am not overly fussed about a balcony, that will be a one-off and a treat if I have the money.

I am gathering, and have built knowledge that the Silja ships are better and grander, I am also lead to believe that their buffets are outstanding, is this true?

I am planning on using the Viking XRPS as a floating hotel from Helsinki/Tallin, it makes a return crossing boarding in the evening and leaving early morning at a cheap rate.

I will also do the Silja Europa mini-cruise to Tallin as  well.

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