Telling people you are travelling to Estonia AND Finland in one trip can leave them goggle-eyed. It sounds like a great migration but did you know you can travel between them in just two and a half hours? The best way to do so is undoubtedly the Tallinn Helsinki ferry run by Eckerö Line. Join us as we head across the Gulf of Finland for this Eckerö Line review.
Our journey was sponsored by Eckero Line but all opinions are entirely our own
The Port of Tallinn
When we were choosing our hotel in Tallinn, we decided to stay right by the port. Citybox Tallinn was only a ten-minute walk into the Old Town and just five minutes from the hotel door to the port. I wanted to make it easier on the day of our Eckero Line ferry to walk over with our luggage rather than deal with transport and worry about missing the boat. If you are staying the Old Town, hop in a taxi or grab a seat on the number 2 bus and they will take you right to the ferry port door.
We walked into the terminal and spotted the Eckeroline desk to the right. We used the ticket machine, popping in our reference number and getting a couple of little boarding cards in return. Opposite was a small convenience store where I grabbed a coffee and Mr Fluskey found himself a breakfast biscuit.
We took the escalator up one floor and scanned our boarding cards through, emerging into the waiting room. We had arrived relatively early so we had about 40 minutes to wait. I am glad we did as it ran out of seats quite quickly. I was happily playing a popular mobile word game when there was a definite shift in the crowd. The ferry was coming in and with those of us trying to snap a photo, combined with those super keen to board first, the crowd started to edge forward. We grabbed our bags and waited to go on. As soon as the doors opened, people flooded through. It was like a budget flight in the bad old days. It seemed to us like a big ship, with plenty of room but maybe everyone has their favourite spot?
A Teensy Bit About M/S Finlandia
M/S Finladia is 21 years, old built in 2001. She is 175 long (that’s 17.5 double decker buses) and can carry just over 2000 passengers. I don’t think we have any near that number on our trip or the waiting area would have been absolutely stuffed. M/S Finlandia makes the trip between Helsinki and Tallinn up to 7 times a day so she has really got her sea legs!
We weren’t in a big rush because we had a cabin booked. This was a four-berth cabin with a nice big porthole window. There were four berths, wo on the bottom and two above which were folded up. One bad was made up for sleeping whilst the other was left as a sofa. We didn’t plan on sleeping but we did wander past a few cabins where clearly, the occupants had enjoyed a mid-sail nap. It seemed more like it was for longer trips as there were plugs, space to store bags under the beds and a small hanging space for wet coats. Switches by the door controlled the lights and the temperature (a must for hot Scandi summers or chilly Scandi nights). I really enjoyed sitting up by the window to take in the view and watch the seagulls catching thermals (and people’s lunch).
The ensuite bathroom was quite big but rather plain and a bit drab. There was a shower, which we didn’t try out, a sink unit and toilet. It had some very industrial feeling soap and handrails. I guess it was all very practical and not here to win design awards.
The bed seemed comfortable enough but we wanted to head out and explore the ship so we were only sat on the sofa side for a few minutes. We left our bags in the room and went for a wander.
Around the Ship
The Top Deck
We wanted to watch sail away so we made our way up to the top deck to see the view. Up here was a nice outdoor bar, Bar Laituri. where you could grab a beer or the infamous Finnish “Long Drink”. There was also meant to be a burger and hot dog stand but I think the chilly wind kept that closed. I was really tempted to get a drink but Mr Fluskey persuaded me not to. (What happened to the man I married?!) There were lots of tables up here with sunseekers enjoying the weak rays poking through the grey clouds above and the smokers trying to keep their cigarettes alive in the breeze.
We had a staring competition with a seagull that had made the railing his domain.
The Inside Spaces
Back downstairs we went from the front of the ship to the back, checking out what was on offer. There are two more decks with facilities for everyone. On 8 we found Bar Nosturi. This was right at the front of the ship It seemed like a cabaret lounge, with a couple of floors of small tables all centred on a big stage. It had a great view of the front the ship through the huge windows. I can only imagine the seats by the window are hotly fought for.
Heading back towards the aft we passed a smaller bar, Pub Telakka, which had a live singer. It was quite packed in here, with every table taken. I think we would have picked this bar to relax in as the outside bar was just a bit too chilly when the wind blew.
We passed some locker, a great addition, allowing passengers to relax and wander the ship without dragging their luggage around. We also skipped over the little arcade/casino.
At the back of the ship was the main canteen, Bistro & Cafeteria Satama. This had a good view of the wake, especially for those sitting at the bar right at the window. We had a quick look and it seemed like very family friendly canteen meals. they also had some alcoholic drinks so you could just grab something small to eat and then relax with a drink here. There was a small children’s playground so a great place to hunker down for families.
The large duty free shop was full of reasonably priced alcohol. People were enthusiastically stocking up and having seen the drink prices in Helsinki, I regretted not doing the same. I did, however, pick up some silicone straws with the Moomins on. (The Moomin Cafe in Helsinki has been shut since the pandemic and I really love silicone straws so it was a win/win). There was also a small shop selling some fancier goods (clothes and handbags) but we didn’t stop to look in here as it was very definitely lunchtime.
I was delighted to see how classy our Eckero Buffet restaurant looked. We had looked at the promotion photos but assumed it was all just going to be a standard buffet. It was actually rather nice. It was calm with just the mild chatter of guests and clink of cutlery. Our table was in the quietest little room at the end of the dining room, with a fab view out across the water.
After the cursory sit down that everybody has to do at a buffet, we head over to grab our lunch
Included in the Eckero Buffet adult’s meal is a great selection of drinks. If you fancy a hot beverage, there is a huge coffee machine and a great selectin of teas. For something a little colder, there was a soda dispenser with Pepsi products and sparkling water. Lastly, for most of the sailing, you can grab a self-serve beer or wine from the taps. I fancied some wine but didn’t want too much so i got a small glass and added some soda water for a fun little spritzer. Fpr those that wanted something a little stronger, there was a small wine list with some spirits on to boot.
The Cold Food
Drinks sorted it was time to hit the cold section. I was blown away by the seafood offerings. Anyone who knows me, knows I can happily devour a worrying amount of cold seafood without breaking a sweat. So I was in absolute heaven. I mean, unlimited fish roe that I can just spoon into my mouth….!?
OK, so I used little rye biscuits rather than using the serving spoon but still.
There was smoked, cooked pickled and raw fish, tasty prawns, marinated shellfish, creamy seafood mixes and prepared canapes. I believe there was some salad too but who needs green leaves when you have smoked salmon? We tried to be restrained, but did both go back for sneaky seconds.
The Hot Food
The hot food wasn’t as good in my opinion. There was a selection of protein dishes including pork with barbecue sauce and an Italian chicken with tomato, basil and parmesan. I tried a bit of everything and found some of the meat and the fish to be a little dry. It had been under heat lamps though so it might have been better if we had got there when it first opened. Saying that, the meatballs and fish cakes were both packed with flavour and the beef brisket was excellent when it had some sauce on it. Oh, and the potato gratin style side dish (I think it was listed as garlic potatoes) was top notch.
Is it even a buffet if you don’t end up with an utterly eclectic bowl of dessert?
On offer was a little sundae bar with ice cream sauces and an abundance of sweets and fresh fruit to pile on top. There were also pancakes with blueberry compote and cream and an apple and rhubarb strudel. Finally, for the real grown ups was a small cheeseboard with crackers, grapes and chutney. We were very happy, very full sailors by the time we left the buffet.
We head back to room with bulging bellies and relaxed for a few minutes watching the Helsinki shore slide closer. There was an announcement over the loud speaker to tell us it was almost time to go. We picked up our bags and head down the stairs towards the exit. The crowd didn’t seem as manic as when we got onboard so it was easy and not too crowded. We passed along the walkway and down some escalators in the large, glass ferry terminal. From leaving the cabin it can’t have been more than five minutes before we were in the Finnish sunshine, waving the ship goodbye.
Right at the port is the tram that takes visitors stright into the centre of Helsinki. We were so happy because not only did it pass through the centre and the main railway station, but head all the way out to where our hotel was giving us almost no walking with our backpacks. You can buy tickets for the trams at the automated machines or on the HSL app which is really handy. We forgot to download the app, and a tram was already there and waiting so we panicked and probably spent more on the fare than we needed to at the machine. It did mean we could just hop on and we were whisked away to enjoy our 2 days in Helsinki.
If you are spending some time in Helsinki, check out our 3 day itinerary for lots of ideas : HERE
Final Thoughts for this Eckerö Line Tallinn – Helsinki Ferry Review
If you are travelling between Helsinki and Tallinn there is no doubt that getting the ferry with Eckero Line is by far the superior option. The whole journey only takes 2 hours and 15 minutes. Add in travel to the city centre and you are probably talking 3 hours total. You can take liquids with you, not pay for check in bags and even book a bed so you can nap! Plus it was just so much more fun than flying. Why would you choose to go any other way?