A friend was coming to visit from America and she loves a good road trip. After having spent a week traveling around Tasmania last year, I thought it would be the perfect getaway. I was excited to take her there, but unfortunately she had to cancel her Australian visit due to a family emergency. With the trip booked already, I decided to make it a time for some mom and kid bonding.
The best part was that we were going to get to Tasmania by ship!
Since I arrived here six years ago, I have gazed longingly at the Spirit of Tasmania. I have watched the ship sail off into the sunset on hundreds of evenings and photographed her docked many times. With a husband who gets sea sick watching movies about boats, I was doubtful that I would ever get the chance to sail on the Spirit of Tasmania though. Here was my chance.
I was a bit nervous about the logistics of traveling by myself with the three kids, but this was such an easy way to do it. Since we had the overnight voyage, the kids went to school like usual and I packed the car. I was able to fill the trunk with not just clothes, but food so that we would not have to waste time finding a grocery store when we arrived. You can’t take fresh fruit, but you can take all sorts of other things…and wine! There was enough time to pick them up, bring them home to change out of uniforms and get comfy for the trip.
We drove down to the dock and got there early. It was exciting to wait in our car next to the huge ship. Alec even rode home from the city and timed it so he could wave goodbye to us as we drove on board. I was a bit nervous, but it was so easy and they run it so well (as they must do with so many vehicles and passengers to load and unload in a short amount of time) that before we knew it, we were parked.
I had packed us an overnight bag since you can’t access the garage after the ship leaves the dock. It was also once not to have to try to fit all our bags into the cabin. It is small, but comfortable and I was surprised at how big the private bathroom was. There is even a shower.
The kids were excited to spy on everyone out on deck through our huge porthole, but then they just had to explore the ship. We stepped outside to see the shore of the bay from an angle we have never had. Looking over the railings we spotted HUNDREDS of jellyfish alongside the ship.
As the sun set on Melbourne, we went inside for our dinner reservations at The Leatherwood Restaurant. The meal and staff were wonderful. In fact, the staff all over the ship were great. There was someone to help you every where you turned.
The kids were excited to explore the ship a bit more (especially the shop), but after a short time, I insisted we go get ready for bed. I knew that morning call would come early. We all got in jammies, the kids did homework and we read a bit before lights out. It was then that we could tell that we had passed through the heads of the bay and were at sea. The ship rocked gently and it was perfect for sleep.
Morning call was at 5:40am and by the time were were all up and ready, they were calling for the first garage. Since that was where our car was, I missed coffee. They quickly and efficiently get everyone off and through quarantine. We were on the road in no time.
There must have been something special on in Tasmania as we shared the ship with so many vintage cars. It was lovely to see them all together.
I will write about our trip in another post, but it was a few days and we found ourselves back in Devonport ready to board the Spirit of Tasmania and head back home to Melbourne.
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This time we were only the second car to load and headed all the way down to the very bottom garage. We passed levels filled with cargo trucks and the kids found it very exciting. It is such a different feel down there from the top garage.
We had dinner at The Captains Table, the other restaurant on board. This one was more of a cafeteria style. The kids got a huge window seat and ate their meal as we left the dock. The movies showing in the on board theatre were ones I would see, but not rated for the kids. Since the kids really wanted to watch something so we opted to take two “Ship Mates” entertainment units back to the cabin. There were plenty of things loaded on them for the kids to choose from. There are dual headphone jacks so that the twins could share and Gemma could watch something else.
Now, leaving the shore this time around meant that we were in the open sea right away. This was a particularly rough night with 1-2 meter seas. There was a note at reception giving a warning and tips for helping with any motion sickness and the store is stocked with medication and those anti-nausea wrist bands. I love the movement of a ship at sea, but my kids? Not so much. When it started to get to them (despite having taken some medication), I called lights out and we were all asleep in minutes. The staff had advised what time overnight that the two Spirit of Tasmania ships would pass each other in their journey and when we would be entering Port Phillip bay, but while I had hoped to stay up and see those things, I slept like a baby until the morning call. It was suddenly 5am and we were home in Melbourne. This time we were last off, but again, it was all run like a well oiled machine. As we drove out of the gates, we crossed the traffic lined up to board for the day crossing.
Such a wonderful experience and a great way to take the family over to Tasmania. Next time we go, I want to do the day sailing so that I can see what I missed at night!
Look here for the first post about how we spent our days in Tasmania and LOTS of photographs!
If you are looking for a fun trip, get yourself, family and car on the ship! There are 50% off fairs until April 12th!