I recently went on a road trip to the North Island (that’s the Australian Mainland, for all you non-Tasmanians) and took my car with me. The only way to make this trip is via the Spirit of Tasmania ferries.
These twin ships are imaginatively called Spirit of Tasmania 1 and Spirit of Tasmania 2. .
From Tasmania, they leave from the city of Devonport, and dock in Port Melbourne in Victoria. They make both day and night crossings in opposite directions between September and April, but for the colder months, only night crossings are made.
Day sailings depart each port at 9:00am and arrive at their destinations at 6:00pm. Night sailings leave at 7.30pm and have you docked by 6am the next day.
I went on a night crossing for two reasons: (1) I wanted a good night’s sleep before a long drive the next day, and (2) I went in August – no day crossings were possible.
It’s a great way to visit Tasmania and bring your vehicle of choice with you for the ride. Or if you’re like me and visit the North Island in the comfort of your own car.
The ships pass each other in the night, which is quite exciting… until you realise it’s at about 2am and the middle of Bass Strait. I’m sure this but is more fun for the day sailors, who may catch a glimpse of the sister ship out at sea.
Boarding is nice and easy. When you book, you register your vehicle and the nice people waiting to check you in look up your number plate while you’re waiting in line and have everything you need ready for you when you drive on board. (You do need to provide id to these people, but I’ll assume that as you’re driving, you will have your driver’s license handy…).
Your passengers can drive on with you. If you don’t have a car, there is easy access to board on foot.
The ships have 10 decks, 1-6 for vehicles (from semi-trailers to motor bikes). Deck Seven is where most of the passenger facilities are: dining, bars, cinemas, information booths, etc. The rest is full of cabins, bars, children’s entertainment areas and lounges.
I’m sure that there is a bridge somewhere, so the captain can pilot the ship through hyperspace…
Hyperspace/ Bass Strait… same thing, right?
Have a read here to see what’s available on board. The food in the buffet is pretty good.
There is a choice of accommodation available. I booked myself an internal cabin. There are outer cabins available with port holes and more deluxe cabins with queen beds, but I figured as it would be dark for the whole trip, I would not see an awful lot. For travellers who don’t wish to splurge on accommodation, you get a comfy deck chair all to yourself to rest your weary head.
Fares are reasonable… and there are often specials available. Both crossings for my voyage were very smooth, with minimal swells. Please keep in mind Bass Strait is sometimes affected by strong currents and can be a little rough. But I’m sure it’s just like any other sea crossing.
I travelled on both ships, and unsurprisingly… they appear exactly the same.
You get a 05:45am wake up call via the ship-wide intercom, and you are already at your destination. Disembarking begins at 06:30am. I was on my way and off the ship by 7 on both trips.
It was a lot of fun, especially with the opportunity to enjoy a bit of an ocean voyage.
Thanks for reading!