Silja Symphony A Class Stockholm to Helsinki Review
The best way to get from Stockholm to Helsinki is by one of the overnight ferries. Included in the price is transportation and a night of accommodation. Plus you get to sail through the beautiful Stockholm archipelago as you sail the Baltic.
There are two companies that service this route — Viking and Silja. In reading reviews, it sounded like Silja is a step up from Viking. To call it a ferry is misleading to us Americans. This is a cruise ship that can also carry cars and break through ice. They are also shopping malls for northern Europeans to buy duty free goods.
I booked my ticket about 3 months in advance.
There are a number of classes. Your cheapest are C and B Class that have no windows. For an additional fee you can book a room with a window facing into the Promenade or for a bit more, A Class with an outward facing window. For a lot more you can get a family room or suite. To me it seems like the A Class cabins is the suite spot. I paid €214 for a peak summer weekend sailing. I actually booked a round trip for that price as it was cheaper than a one way Stockholm-Helsinki. I just didn’t show for the return trip.
Unlike most cruises, food is not included. I paid extra at the time of booking for the buffet dinner (€39).
Two Silja ships service this route. I was booked on the Silja Symphony. I understand both have recently (January 2019) undergone a complete refurbishment. A few days later I took the Silja Europa from Helsinki to Tallinn.
In Stockholm, Silja ships depart from the Värtahamnen ferry dock.
I took the #76 bus straight from the NOFO Hotel.
The bus drops you off at the back of the terminal and it is a short walk to the modern departure lounge.
There is an automated kiosk for check in but I was directed by the machine that I needed to check in with one of the agents; perhaps because I am not an EU citizen. Check in was quick, just showed my passport and received a boarding card that doubles as cabin key. There is no security screening, you just scan your card and a gate lets you in.
Live music was playing upon boarding.
A Class Cabin
The A Class Cains are located on decks 5, 8-11. I was assigned room 9712 – almost exactly in the middle of the boat. There are elevator banks at all four corners of the ship but if you board with the masses, the elevators are full and the stairs make for a better option.
The room itself is small but clean and modern. Each room has two single beds (unless you opt for a family room that will have bunks). My room was already made up as a single room with the second bed folded up.
There is a small desk with mirror and TV against one wall.
There is a open closet area where you can hang your clothes.
The angled door above is the bathroom. It is a small and not as updated. Liquid soap and towels are provided.
I had a nice view out my window, though a floor or two higher would have placed me above the life boat rigging.
I had dinner at the Grande Buffet. I pre-booked for the early seating. Although it is early (4:45pm), it allowed me to finish dinner and head to the deck in time to see the more remote part of the archipelago (see below).
The buffet is a mad house. More packed than any Vegas buffet.
You get assigned a seat and there are servers to remove your finished plates and sell you additional alcohol if you want. House white and red wine and beer are included, as is juice, milk, coffee and diet sodas (this seemed strange, not sure why only diet).
There are a ton of food options including some very Swedish dishes (reindeer, tons of seafood). I found the food to be surprisingly good quality.
If buffets are not your thing, there are plenty of other restaurants from casual to formal.
At the back of the ship is a pub that has a cool view window.
There is definitely a food option for everyone.
There is plenty of shopping to be done on the main promenade. A huge duty free store is located on the same level as the buffet.
Also on the promenade is an info booth where you can get tour tickets for Helsinki.
At the front of the ship is the Starlight lounge and casino. They had a dance/acrobatic group perform followed by a live band with dancing. I believe all the entertainment is free.
There is also a casino though it didn’t seem very popular.
There are a number of bars on the ship, including one at the very bow of the ship and one on the top.
There is also a spa/sauna area that has an entrance fee. Inside are a couple of jacuzzis.
Additionally there is a lot of public deck space, both covered and uncovered, to explore and take in the views.
If you are a family, there are a lot of activities and spaces especially geared towards kids. I enjoyed sightings of Harry the Seal. Here he is riding an elevator.
There is even a doggie toilet for the four legged friends.
The competition between Viking and Silja for the duty free money means that they have stepped up their game to make the ferry a great experience.
The best part of the sailing is about 2-3 hours in as you pass through the more rural parts of the Stockholm archipelago before heading out to the open Baltic.
Again right before Helsinki there are some dramatic views as you pass through the Suomenlinna Fort.
Arrival in Helsinki is at 10:00am. You disembark at the Olympia Terminal not far from the city center.
There is absolutely no reason to fly between Stockholm and Helsinki unless you are on a severe time crunch. The cruise is relaxing and fun. It is a great value and you don’t have to pay for a hotel for one night.
Have you taken the ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki? What did you think?