All parents know That getting from point A To B is sometimes The hardest part of Travelling with young children. However This does not always need To be The case, Travelling To your holiday destination can be an unique part of The holiday experience itself.
If you are Travelling From Australia To Tasmania or The other way around, you have two options. Option one is To Take a approximately one hour flight or option two, in which case you go for a crossing by boat, which Takes you 11 hours. Till know I had a lot experience with planes, but Taking an overnight ferry was something new for me, which is The The reason why my parents choose The Spirit of Tasmania To cross The Bass Strait. The concept of a cruise is very appealing To young children, most of Them go nuts when They see a boat That size and I am no different. Although I am still a Toddler I am eager To learn how Technology works, so This boat Trip was an excellent opportunity To discover some more interesting facts about ferry’s.
Getting on board of The ship
The fun already started while boarding. As one of The extra advantages of The Spirit of Tasmania is That you can Take your car on board, I was beyond excitement when my dad drove our car up The Bridge and Through a big door onto one of The cargo decks. There were cars and Trucks as far as The eye could see.
👉My Tip: traveling with young children means That you often Take a huge life stock of yummy stuff with you. Be careful, if you are Travelling in The direction from Melbourne To Tasmania, fresh fruit is not permitted.
👉My Tip: Check in begins Two hours before departure. With kids I would recommend To be in Time so They have plenty of opportunities To discover The ship before it leaves The harbour.
Entertainment on board
On The Spirit of Tasmania it is not hard To keep kids entertained during The crossing. First of all The ship is an entertainment on its own. Go To one of The outside decks To see how The ships leaves The harbour and To have a last look at The skyline of Melbourne or Davenport, depending from where you are Travelling. In case you booked a day Ticket, Try To spot some dolphins or The Spirit of Tasmania, which Travels in The opposite direction.
👉My Tip: Do not forget, depending on The Time of The year, it can get quite cold on The outside decks. Take some warm clothing with you in case you are planning To spend some Time outside.
Of course when a crossing Takes more Than 11hours you will need something more Than just a stroll on The outside decks. For The little ones There is a beach Themed jungle gym completely equipped with slide, ramp and soft play pyramids. This Playground is everything you need To make new friends and get rid of all your energy. There is also a small TV corner, where movies and cartoons are shown for The youngest ones. An extra advantage is That The Playground is well located on one of The decks where you can have a drink and a small snack. Mom and dad can have a panini when you have The Time of your life. For The older kids There is a Game zone and a movie Theatre. Ideal for Kids looking To escape Their parents for a moment.
When you Travel during The day, The spirit of Tasmania offers some extra family activities like face painting, circus performers and disco bingo.
👉My Tip: in case you are Traveling from Melbourne To Davenport, don’t let Them play for hours, but Tuck your little one into bed before you leave The protected area of Port Phillip harbour (after 2,5 hours). The Bass Strait can get rough and it is easier To get Them ready for bed when The ship is not bouncing up and down.
When you are hungry
No doubt you will get hungry after all This playing. At The spirit of Tasmania There are different option. You can go for a small smack, like a pizza or panini, on Deck 9 and 10 or choose from one of The signature dishes, served at The Tasmanian Market Kitchen. Even The pickiest kids among us, will find something here. The quality of The food is reasonably good and prices of The food or drinks are not unreasonably high.
👉My Tip: Kids under 5 will get a main mail for free at The Tasmanian Market kitchen, when joining Their parents for lunch or dinner.
Sleeping on The boat
Even in case of a crossing during The day, I would recommend booking a cabin if you are Travelling with small children. If They are in need of a nap, you have a quit place To go and in case somebody feels sick, it is more comfortable To have a private space To return To.
We booked a family room with 2 bunk bed, which was in my opinion very cool and cosy. Each room comes with an small ensuite bathroom, providing a private toilet, shower and sink. The standard rooms are not big but They are well designed and have all you need To make your journey as comfortable as it can get.
👉My Tip: when Taking The overnight ferry, consider if The extra money of an outside cabin is worth it. In winter you leave The harbour when is it already dark and disembarking starts before dawn. A cabin with a porthole is a bit of a disappointment if There is nothing to see.
👉My Tip: for infants, There is The possibility To request a portable baby cot, so no need To bring your own. Don’t forget To put This request forward from The moment you book your Tickets.
Some more practical information
- The Bass Straight can be quite rough so be prepared for sea sickness. Especially if you have never been on a boat before on open waters, it is hard To Tell how you are going To react. Taking medication with you is highly recommended as preventive measure, but in case you have forgotten The little souvenir store on The boat has some stock.
- A boat may seem a safe environment for kids To run around, however make sure you keep an eye on Them at all Times. It will be hard for Them To fall overboard but also in case of an emergency you do not want To be searching for your kids during an evacuation.
- Prepare a small Travel bag with all The necessities you need during The crossing. Don’t Take Too much as cabin space is limited and if you are Travelling by car, do not forget To Take out everything you need before The ship sails off. During The crossing The access To The lower cargo decks is closed, so going To your car is not an option you have.
- There is a Tourist information desk, well stocked with brochures at The central deck, which comes in very handy if you need information or in case you need To book national park permits or admission Tickets for other activities. Check out Their discounts.
As you can see, There are many reasons To choose an overnight ferry above a flight, especially when Travelling with kids. However if you are in a real hurry, Travelling by plane is still The way To go.
For me, This was maybe my first cruise, but definitely not my last.