There are two ways to get to Tasmania – by plane or by boat. Because we wouldn’t feel complete without taking the Troopy, and having portable accommodation is always handy, we decided to take the Spirit of Tasmania and bring the old girl along with us.
The Spirit of Tasmania has been operating since 1985 when Bob Hawke was Prime Minister of Australia. Back then, the ship was called the TT Line and operated until 1993 when it was replaced with the original Spirit of Tasmania.
In 2002, the original Spirit ship was replaced by two twin ships – the Spirit of Tasmania I and II. These ships were made in Finland in 1998 and previously operated in Greece and Italy as Superfast III and Superfast IV before coming to Australia.
These huge vessels weigh just over 29,000 tonnes and are 194.3 metres long – that’s about 20 metres longer than the MCG! They have the capacity to carry 1,400 passengers and 500 vehicles at a time, and they sail 800 times a year. They travel at around 27knots and it takes between 9 and 11 hours to cross the 429km of the Bass Strait between Melbourne and Devonport. They use up 7,000 litres of fuel per hour and can carry up to 1,222,000 litres of fuel.
On board, there are three bars, a restaurant, a convenience store, a gaming room, a video games section, and even a cinema. There are TVs everywhere playing anything from sport and music videos to the news and documentaries. The day sailings offer entertainment, such as informative presentations, live music, trivia and kids activities. If you are travelling at night, accommodation options include simple recliners, shared and private cabins, as well as deluxe rooms with a queen bed and showers.
What to take with you
Once you park your car in the garages in the lower decks, you’re not allowed to return to your car but you are allowed to take some stuff with you to the upper decks.
- Entertainment – a book, ipad or a few games on your phone. If you have a laptop to watch movies, bring headphones too. If you’re with a group, bringing some playing cards or a board game can be a great way to pass the time.
- Phone charger – for when your battery is low from playing Beast Quest for hours.
- A big water bottle – sitting around on a boat is thirsty work.
- Snacks – a penny-pinching tactic to relieve the hunger pangs.
- Drinking shoes – there are a few bars on board. Why not have a couple during the long ride. Dave says that because alcohol makes you a bit wobbly, this counteracts the wobbliness of the boat and prevents seasickness.
- Money – for drinks at the bar, lunch/dinner from the TMK or snacks from the Pantry.
- Warm footwear – whether it’s just sneakers with socks or heat-begone booties, the air conditioning can be a bit fresh and cold feet suck.
- A blanket – if you’re susceptible to getting cold easily, take a little blanky.
- Seasickness tablets – or you can do what Juz did and cure the jelly belly with a few glasses of wine. Dave’s theory works!
Overnight Trip to Devonport
We took the overnight sail to Devonport, and with departure scheduled at 9pm, we left home nice and early to make sure we didn’t miss the boat.
5:40pm – We arrived at the terminal and got in queue for the quarantine checks.
6:00pm – Made it through the quarantine check.
7:40pm – Finally made it on the boat! The delays were due to only one vehicle ramp being active as the upper ramp was damaged in a storm a few weeks back.
8:30pm – We watched the sun set from Deck 8.
Wandering around the ship, we bumped into a friend, Scott in the Terrace Lounge on Deck 9, who just happens to be the trivia master for the day sailings. We gained a drinking buddy for our journey.
9:00pm – The Spirit of Tasmania began its journey south. The views from the balcony on Deck 9 are fantastic with the views of Melbourne and the wake of the boat trailing behind.
9:27pm – Last chance for dinner at TMK. We made it just before the kitchen closed. You pay for a plate and self serve from the variety of food available, like chicken parmas, fish and chips, various salads and curries. We were a bit naughty, only getting one plate and piling it with food for the both of us.
10:30pm – The Spirit began to rock and tilt. Scott told us that it was turning to get through the Heads. This is where the seasickness would’ve started, but we’d had a few by then and were enjoying the wobbliness! We met a guy in a wheelchair who was rolling around on the Deck 9 balcony – lucky there were railings! The rocking was so strong that we were stumbling around to accommodate the movement of the ship.
11:30pm – Time for bed! We retired to our recliners on Deck 8. They were a lot better than what we expected, but we did have low expectations. You get a little blanket and small pillow to make things more comfortable.
5:15am – Before the sparrow has even thought about farting, the lights come on and an announcement over the loud speaker wakes up the whole ship. Disembarking begins at 6am, and for us, it was much quicker than the embarking in Melbourne.
Day Trip to Melbourne
6:00am – We woke up surrounded by trees, smelling like we’d been camping for two weeks. We pulled ourselves together and headed to Devonport.
7:00am – We stopped in ‘Devo’ to grab a coffee from Laneway and some breakfast from the local bakery.
7:45am – In line to get on the boat.
8:05am – On the boat. That was quick!
8:35am – The Spirit of Tasmania left the dock and started rotating in the mouth of the Mersey river! Whoever drives the thing has some skills!
10:15am – The daytime entertainment started off with a session of morning trivia in the Terrace Lounge. Scott appeared after a tactical snooze, and hosted a fantastic trivia session. We came equal second and scored a free pizza voucher! Live music started shortly after.
12:00pm – TMK opens for lunch. We did the dodge again and piled a plate high with parmas, fish and chips, and a few salads. Juz was struggling with seasickness so after lunch, we returned to the Terrace Lounge for some drinks. Juz’s guts calmed down almost immediately.
1:30pm – The twin ship passed in the distance on its way to Devonport.
3:00pm – We redeemed our trivia prize and ordered a meat lovers pizza. We’re glad we won the voucher because the pizza was a bit small to be worth $10. It tasted good nonetheless.
3:15pm – Scott began the afternoon session of trivia. We finished strong and took out first place. We got a voucher for some fudge and a hot drink each.
4:30pm – The Spirit entered Port Philip Bay for the final stretch to Melbourne.
6:00pm – We arrived at the Melbourne terminal and disembarked within 30 minutes. The only delay we encountered was trying to get into the busy traffic and onto the freeway. We were home by 7pm.