One of the benefits of the Eurail Global Pass is free or discounted tickets on ferries so on the way to Sideways Festival in Helsinki, I booked an overnight passage from Stockholm on Viking Line. I expected a standard ferry trip across the Baltic Sea, but Viking turned out to be a mini-cruise line.
The price for my nautical adventures costed me a budget-friendly $27.41 USD with the Eurail Pass discount. The catch is that I didn’t have a place to sleep, the various shipboard accommodations being more than your typical traveling music festival photojournalist can afford.
Being homeless on a ship is an interesting experience, but at least I didn’t need to lug my backpack around the ship. There were lockers near the main gateway for $4 USD daily. Make sure you grab everything you need for the next 12 hours (like a toothbrush, you moron) before you drop in the coins as you can only access it once. After ditching my assorted luggage, it was time to check out my naval palace.
Viking Line was heads above my previous jaunts around Greece and Italy. This is a full on cruise ship with lounges, gambling, a night club, live entertainment, bars, multiple fancy restaurants, a spa, movie theater, and a huge duty-free store. I purchases a couple of warm beers and a few snacks from the duty-free shop and like a true music festival fan, posted up on the front rail of the ship for the next hour. The scenery along with the Swedish coast is gorgeous and one of the highlights of the trip.
One of the benefits to traveling in Northern Europe during the summer is that the sun doesn’t set until well past 10 at night so there’s plenty of opportunities for sightseeing on the deck. It is windy, so bring a coat and bundle up. Once I had my fill of birds, islands, and sunset-dappled seas, I retreated into the coffee shop and edited photos for a few hours.
This wasn’t my first rodeo without a bed on the high seas of Europe. My previous adventure involved sleeping in the hallway of a Greek ferry and even though I had a prime spot with charging access, the people using the elevator didn’t seem to find me very endearing.
This time, I waited out the staff in the coffee shop, surreptitiously sneaking sips of my warm beers from the duty-free store. Around 1:30 in the morning, they closed up shop and I suddenly had the whole place to myself. Shoes off. Feet up. Phone and laptop charging. I felt like a pirate king.
That was until 6:30 am when security woke me up and threw me out. On the plus side, I wandered up to the top deck and got to see the sunrise in Finland, at least that’s what I told myself, but forgot that this is Scandinavia in the summer. The sun came up hours ago.
Pros For Traveling By Ship
-Epic, sweeping views of the Scandinavian landscape.
-Cheap beers and snacks can be found in the duty-free shop.
-Better for the planet.
-Experiencing the joys of slow travel.
Cons For Traveling By Ship
-Internet is beyond spotty.
-A flight from Stockholm to Helsinki takes an hour.
-Security is worse than an alarm clock.
4.5 out of 5 stars. I wouldn’t want to do this every week, but this is a fun way to spend the night. Load up on Netflix movies, pack in some snacks, and enjoy the views. You could even try booking a bed. I hear they are excellent.