It’s time to add Estonia to your bucket list! We’re sharing our ferry experience from Helsinki, Finland to Tallinn, Estonia, so you can know what to expect for your trip to Estonia.
THE FERRY BASICS
- Three passenger lines of ferry cruises go back and forth between Helsinki and Tallinn. The Tallink-Silja Line, Eckerö Line, and Viking Line.
- Each line takes between 2-3 journeys across the sea daily.
- Each journey takes between 2 and 2.5 hours.
- Think of these ferries more like small cruise ships than a passenger dingy. These ships are massive!
We recommend taking the Tallink-Silja ferry because it offers the fastest journey and operating times for short trips. Here’s what you need to know when booking the Tallink.
PURCHASING FERRY TICKETS TO TALLINN
- Check the day and time you wish to board. Just like an airplane, you can choose either roundtrip or one-way.
- Selecting an adult or child’s ticket will get you on the boat. However, this does not guarantee you a designated seat. Select the time you would like to board and scroll down.
- If you have a vehicle, you would add it after selecting a ticket time.
Travel Class selection is similar to an airplane experience as well. Star Class is equivalent to economy class, includes your ticket price, and provides access to the general restaurants, shops, cafes, and common areas onboard.
Upgrade to Comfort Class, and you’ll essentially be in “premium economy” – there is a private dining room for you with airport lounge-like snacks and drinks. Business Class is similar to Comfort Class but think of these lounges as a little more exclusive, like an AMEX or American Flagship lounge.
Finally, suppose you really want a nap, shower, and additional privacy. In that case, there are A and B Class private rooms that look like interior staterooms of cruise ships. (We’re not sure why someone would book these for a two-hour journey, but it’s an option! The space could be nice to book for a family with sleeping children.)
WHAT TO EXPECT ON YOUR JOURNEY
Think of your ferry experience as being similar to an airplane journey. First, arrive at the port terminal at your destination, scan your ticket and passport, and enter the terminal as you wait at your gate for boarding – just like at an airport! The terminal waiting area also acts like an airport and offers coffee shops and things to snack on.
Once it’s time to board, grab your things and walk through the connecting indoor sky bridge onto the ship. Here, they’ll check your ticket once again. Once onboard, you’ll find a storage room where you can store your luggage for only about a euro a bag. (I believe we rounded up to tip the handler a little and gave 5 euros for our 4 bags.) From there, you’re free to explore the ship as you wish (according to your ticket, that is.)
Upon arriving at the final port destination, you’ll collect your belongings, exit the ship like you would an airplane, and then exit the port terminal like an airport. Outside the terminals, you can hop on a tram, flag a taxi, or request rideshare from your phone.
WHAT’S ONBOARD THE FERRY
There is a huge store onboard with multiple levels. As alcohol is cheaper in Estonia than in Finland, you’ll find many Finns taking advantage of the duty-free, cost-saving opportunity and stocking up on bottles onboard. The rest of the ship is essentially a floating department store with a few grocery options. (Sort of Target vibes, if you will.) In the cafe, you’ll find a Hudson News-style store that offers the chance to buy snacks and souvenirs from either side of the Northern Baltic Sea.
If you’ve booked a Star class ticket, food and drinks are not included in your ticket price, but the food and drink options are affordable. In the cafe area, employees often come around offering coffee for only one euro. There is an additional dining room on a lower deck that feels like you’re dining in an Ikea on the water. Wander around the ship a bit more and find food court options, including an onboard Burger King. Of course, no cruise ship is complete without a bar or two, and you’ll find varying styles to fit the vibe you’re looking for.
There is an entire game room on the ship, along with many arcade games scattered throughout the decks. If you’re feeling lucky, you can also try your hand at a few of the gambling machines. For those with small children, there is a nursery just for them. Our favorite form of entertainment was simply watching the scenery go by as we sailed away.