One of the main reasons why Tasmania draws us back, again and again, is that Tasmania is an island with four distinct seasons. When planning what to do in Tasmania, each season brings a different set of activities and events. As there are so many different things to do in Tasmania unique to each season, it’s easy to plan a getaway.
From warm summer beach days to rugging up on a crisp winter night in the highlands to the freshness of spring and the vibrant colours of autumn, Tasmania is a feast for the eyes all-year-round.
Our journey begins by catching the Spirit of Tasmania 1. On the day of our sailing, there was a fairly simple check-in process for the ferry. Arriving at the pier in Port Melbourne 2 hours before the scheduled sailing time we receive our boarding passes (these double as our swipe cards for entry into the Ocean View recliner lounge).
There was a lot of sitting and waiting in the van before we finally drove onto the boat, but then it’s quite quick to grab your backpack and head for our seats. I hope Rob took note of where we parked as there are so many cars. I did see somewhere that there were little maps you can take from the nearest stairwell that will give you directions back to your stairwell, but I was to excited to grab one.
In our day backpack we were advised to pack a number of items. Sea sickness tablets, mmmm do you really think we will need these. We have checked the weather for the last three days like most sailors and it is predicted to be calm.
But the Bass Strait is notoriously rough sailing. Books and/or iPad: entertain yourself for the next 9-11 hours. Well we are used to being on a small boat for days at sea how boring could it be on a huge ship with a movie theatre, bars and cafes. Ok book and iPad packed. For guest convenience there are powerpoints available for use throughout the boat, now this is great.
We were also advised to bring a Blanket/pillow (if you are on a recliner) for your snooze during the day, well our shared backpack is not that large so they can stay in “Froggy”. By the sounds of it we are going to have a pretty leisurely sail, of doing not much at all.
Beyond just hanging out at the bar (not a bad idea) the cinemas are really the only excitement onboard entertainment to speak of. There are two separate cinema rooms that each show a rotation of 3 films (amazingly, new releases!), and there are about 60 seats in each. It’s certainly no IMAX experience, but it’s far better than watching a movie on your laptop (or even on our home tv), so it definitely could be a fun way to occupy a few hours on the boat. Tickets are $10/adult and $5/child. We were advised if we wanted to see a movie however get in quick as the limited tickets sell out quickly. We decided to skip the idea anyway.
We were concerned about the onboard pricing of food and drinks. There is absolutely nothing to stop you from bringing your own onto the ship however, you can only consume your own alcoholic drinks in the comfort of your own private cabin. (That’s if you have paid the extra $ to have one) While it’s nice knowing that food is there for purchase if we needed it, we would be saving a bit of money by packing something tasty from the vans galley instead. As it turned out the meals weren’t as expensive as we expected but eating our own was just fine.
Once seated it didn’t take us long to realise that we still weren’t going anywhere…. Huston do we have a problem! While there is no announcement saying anything of the sort, as keen weather watchers we certainly saw a change in the sky. Rob immediately went onto the weather radar, and what was on screen was very ugly, severe storm warning level ugly. Yep we aren’t sailing for a while yet. Eventually after the storm cells passed we heard the thrusters in full motion and we were off the dock.
This was to be our first crossing of Bass Strait so to say we were looking forward to it would be an understatement. Many sailors dread the idea of this crossing and we were pleased we were taking the cheat’s way rather than a sail boat. This was only made more evident when we came out of Port Phillip Bay in 20 to 25 knots of wind and the swell hit us on the rear quarter. Now this admiral does not get sea sick but with the awkward rolling of the ship she had definitely felt better. Rob thought it wasn’t too bad, until he got up to walk to the bar. Mmmmm with the side steps he was doing it looked like he’d had a few to many before he actually had any. We decided discretion was called for and only had the one drink each anyway.
You know that blanket that I was advised to pack. Pack one! It was freezing in the Ocean Lounge, whether it was the bleak day or the rain and the swell that added to the chill, regardless it was cold. I snoozed with Rob’s and my jackets wrapped around me.
Even travelling at a speedy 27knots it takes a long time to cross Bass Strait. Nine or ten hours actually. Time passed slowly with not much going on at all. Thankfully we had devices (until phone service dropped out), ocean views, books and each other to keep company. It is really a boring trip.
Entering the Mersey River on the Spirit of Tasmania 1, a bit after 6pm through narrow headlands that didn’t seem wide enough for the ship it was a relief to see the dock. After getting up at 4.30 am and 9 hours crossing the Bass Strait we were pleased to leave the ship at her dock and head for our first campsite in Devonport for a well needed sleep. Now to start our exploration of this beautiful island full of history, spectacular vistas, vineyards and fine food to be found. New adventures await.
Join us next time when we explore Devonport and the fascinating Maritime History.
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