I always get the shivers when I drive along the palm-fringed beach road towards Port Melbourne and catch sight of Spirit of Tasmania docked at Station Pier… I know that the ship will be taking people to one of my favourite Australian destinations, and I can find myself imagining the excitement that those travellers will be experiencing.
Recently, I actually got to be one of those passengers again as the family and I travelled to Tasmania to explore more of the East Coast. We arrived at the pier, bags packed, and full of anticipation. You see, when you travel to Tassie on board the ‘Spirit’, your adventure begins the minute you step foot on the ship. You can instantly relax and sink into your holiday straight away and that’s what I love so much about it.
The bonus, of course, is that you get to take your own car and/or camper, and the minute you hit the shores of Devonport, you are on your way!
I won’t lie… Spirit of Tasmania also makes travelling with a child so much easier. Kids aren’t forced to stay in one seat, buckled in, instead they can roam the entertainment facilities, watch movies, eat until they are content and sleep in comfortable beds or recliners for a full rest. As a parent, what’s not to love about that?
But things had changed since my last experience on Spirit of Tasmania… This time when I stepped aboard things were, well…. new. The multi-million dollar refurbishment of both ships in the fleet is evident the minute you arrive in the sparkling entrance. Hundreds of tourism brochures line the shelves filled with adventures waiting for us over Bass Strait. Everything is gleaming and crew welcome us like old friends. You can tell they are proud of their ‘new’ workplace and Spirit of Tasmania’s new chapter in history as it takes us into the next decade.
First thing’s first, we dropped off our bags in our room for the night. It was a Four Bed Private Cabin, with bunk beds and a private ensuite, perfect for a restful night as we made our way south. Bedding, towels and soap are provided and you even get a desk and chair, hanging space and wall-mounted reading lights.
But Charli, our 8 year old daughter, wouldn’t let us hang around there too long, there was far too much to see and do, beginning with the sunset from the uppermost deck.
The ship was about to pull away from the pier as we made it up top, and the sun was playing its role perfectly… sinking low in the glowing orange sky, as the skyline of Melbourne started to light up and everything seemed to twinkle around us.
I was lucky enough to meet our captain on the deck before we set sail. As we watched the sunset together, his eyes lit up as he shared how his job was a dream come true for him and how the crossing from mainland Australia to the Apple Isle was touted as one of our country’s greatest and most famous journeys.
Back inside, we couldn’t ignore the rumbling of our stomachs and our anticipation of gourmet Tassie produce leading up to this trip could finally be satisfied. At the TMK (Tasmanian Market Kitchen) restaurant, we chose from a range of Tasmanian-inspired favourites, including my favourite, the cheeses, and of course, could not ignore a glass of fantastic Tassie wine… The perfect beginning to any Tasmanian journey.
For any adults wishing to kick on, there are even more bars and lounges on board to quench a thirst and simply relax (plus a gaming lounge and reading area) but as I said earlier, happy child, happy parents, so after dinner, we let Charli lead the way. First stop, the kids play area. A beach-themed jungle gym was keeping kids of all ages occupied, while parents simply relaxed and watched on, confident that their little darlings would sleep blissfully afterwards.
To wind down after an energetic play, we grabbed some snacks from The Pantry convenience store and settled into one of the cinemas for a latest release movie.
Of course, we were all ready for bed afterwards, and as the captain had promised us when we were welcomed on board, the seas were calm, and we were lulled into sleep by the movement of the ship. Before we knew it, we had snuck into Devonport by the crack of dawn the next day.
Needless to say we arrived refreshed and ready to explore, and after a quick coffee from TMK and breakfast at the terminal, we were back in the car and hitting the road. Tasmania, here we come!
Spirit of Tasmania is one of Australia’s most iconic tourism operators. Departing nightly from Station Pier in Port Melbourne and Devonport in Tasmania’s northwest, the twin ships offer passengers a unique sailing experience combined with the convenience of bringing their own vehicles. With fresh, modern interiors and enhanced facilities, now more than ever Spirit of Tasmania is a trip to remember.