Traveling between destinations is generally a pretty stressful experience when your with small ones. That stress can increase ten fold when your outnumbered and your traveling with a child who struggles with noise, crowds and unpredictable things occurring.
My priority isn’t always the quickest route or the cheapest (although price is a major factor), but is often based on what will be the most child friendly and least stressful all round.
Since our visit to Finland at Christmas, the kids were set on going to Moomin World. I thought this would be a good time to go, so had been researching travel to Finland from Sweden. I stumbled across a ferry route that went to exactly where we needed to go. The Viking Line from Stockholm to Turku ticked all the boxes. There was a daytime option, costing around €14 one way, and then the overnight option costing around €100. The journey was around 12 hours.
The easiest for us was the overnight, this would save hotel fees for the night and save daytime exploring hours.
At the time of booking, you can choose various optional extras. Some of these options include seat reservations, room upgrades and downgrades, meals (a la cate and buffet) and spa treatments and use of the sauna and pool (operational hours of spa and sauna vary).
If we had gone for the daytime trip I would have booked the sauna and pool, but it wasn’t open in the evening. If we had it would have been cheap, £5 each for anyone over 6 years old, those under 6 go free. The kids were sad we didn’t get to go in the sauna and even I was a bit gutted, I’ve never been on a boat with facilities like this and would have liked to try them out, so we are hoping to do this again sometime.
I upgraded our room to have windows, we would be traveling through the Swedish and Finnish archipelago and wanted to be able to see it. In hindsight this probably wasn’t worth it as we spent so much time exploring the ship we didn’t spend long in the rooms other than when we were sleeping.
We boarded the ship which was pretty stress free. There was a small cafe after check in where I could get a coffee & some cold drinks. K spent the wait glued to his phone while the girls made friends with 2 other kids and they all ran about playing. There was a bit of a bundle getting through passport control but we held back until the majority of people had boarded. The kids had never been on a big boat so having a room and shower was exciting. Once we had all had a shower (after staying in the forest all week and washing in a lake this was a MAJOR luxury) we got ready to go for our buffet dinner.
The buffet had loads of typical Swedish and Finnish food. Lots of cold fish dishes, meatballs, crackers, salads. There were also some sausages and potatoe dishes. D again eats a restricted amount but was happy with bread and chips, the other two stacked their plates with salad and vegetarian meatballs! Much to my delight beer and wine were tap and included in the price! There was a time restriction on the free alcohol were it stopped sometime before the end of the buffet, but people seemed to be filling a few glasses up towards the end and just having them at their table. Cofffee and juice were also included and lots of desserts such as mini cakes, macaroons, ice creams, sweets, fruit platters, cheeses and some other bits. Aside from the food, the view from the boat was amazing. The sun was setting as we went past loads of little islands and villages on the archipelago. I spent a lot of the time excitedly standing up and saying ‘wow look at the view!’ It was stunning.
After we had finished eating we went to explore the boat. The kids dragged me into the shop for some duty free shopping were we bought a few moomin themed bits and pieces!
This trip was just another confirmation to how Scandinavia is so kitted out for family’s. There was an entire floor which from what I can tell, was completely dedicated to kids! First we found a big room where there were some ride on toys and space to run off some energy. I’m guessing this is where they have some of the kids shows and entertainers. Then we found a series of smaller rooms, with toys for younger children, a small soft play area, a tv room with loads of pillows and cushions on the floor, there was a games arcade with typical arcade games (at an extra cost), there was even a little bedroom set up.
After an hour of letting of some steam (and going on some virtual reality adventures – me included!) we headed back to our room. This again, was all very exciting so no one fell asleep till gone midnight . With the time change (Finland is an hour ahead of Sweden) and general exhaustion, I woke with the realization that the alarm hadn’t gone off. We flew out of bed realizing we were an hour late for our 5am breakfast booking, the room was a tip with all our backpacks spilling out and the cleaners were due any minute and we only had an hour till we arrived.
After a panicked 15 minuets of packing (again) and showers, we ran (literally) to the restaurant for breakfast. I was relieved that we didn’t seem to be the only ones running in, and we were still seated and actually, no one really batted an eyelid that we were over an hour late and I looked completely frazzled!
This again was a typical Scandinavian meal, with some cold fish, sausages, egg, crackers, fruit and cereals. I spent much of the time getting myself fully caffeinated to deal with the days travels and to get over the stresses of the mornings over sleeping.
As the boat docked in Turku Port, we waited again for the crush and bundle of people to get off before we disembarked. Just outside, I was relieved to see a line of taxis waiting for passengers. It was too early for the mental effort of navigating public transport so we opted for the taxi!