We have travelled from Melbourne to Devonport and back several times on the Spirit of Tasmania and absolutely loved every experience. Each of our previous trips have been overnight cruises and the idea of day sailing on the Spirit of Tasmania with kids did seem a little daunting. With an overnight cruise you have your own cabin. Your own sanctuary. You explore the ship a little, have dinner, explore a little more and then go to bed. When you wake up you are nearly at your destination. When day sailing however, you don’t have a room. You spend the day roaming the ship. For 9 hours! The bonus is though, that day sailing is cheaper. Significantly cheaper. Note – Day sails on the Spirit of Tasmania only run on selected days between September and April. Of course you could fly from Melbourne and be in Tasmania in less than an hour. Often at a lower cost too. But the big draw card with The Spirit of Tasmania is that you can bring your car (and caravan in our case as this was the final stage of Our Aussie Adventure).
As we were going to be on the ship all day, my concern was that with kids, 9 hours was going to go very slowly! Painfully slowly. I was wrong! There was plenty to keep the kids occupied and entertained and we all had a fantastic day.
After driving our car and caravan onto the ship (which was exciting in itself for the kids) we headed straight to the Tasmanian Market Kitchen, one of Spirit of Tasmania’s dining options, for some breakfast. As we sat by the window eating our croissants we watched as the ship departed and the Melbourne cityscape got smaller and smaller. It was a cold and windy morning so we were all happy to stay inside for the time being, taking our time eating breakfast while the kids did some colouring and activities.
When the kids started getting restless we headed to the children’s play area where they all let off some steam climbing and sliding all over the jungle-gym style equipment. Next was the Game Zone full of arcade games. Our little ones had fun running around the room while the girls played a couple of games of air-hockey.
After that we decided to go outside and check out the deck. The wind was fierce and although the kids found being blown around a lot of fun, it was too cold to stay out for long. We decided instead to explore the ship and see what else was on offer. Just walking around from deck to deck was a fun experience in itself. On one deck we sat down for a while and listened to some live music while the kids had a dance around.
After a look in the information area, where we collected a lot of brochures on places to visit in Tasmania (of course each kid HAD TO get their own collection), we found ourselves in a lounge style area set up with children’s activities. Jackpot!
Over the next few hours our kids listened to stories, learnt all about insects, made badges, learnt to draw cartoons, coloured in and had their faces (and arms) painted. The staff running these activities were so great with the children and it was all completely free! I have to say too, that the face paint was THE BEST that my kids have ever had (and trust me, they have had a lot)!
There was even a large TV in the room with sports playing which Korey was quite fascinated with at times. It was just wonderful. Peter and I literally just sat and watched the kids and relaxed (I may have even caught my dear husband snoozing several times). During this time we also grabbed some sandwiches for lunch from the little onboard shop.
We were advised next to head to the cinema where the ‘Discovery Ranger’ was doing a presentation on Tasmania’s wildlife and wilderness. Our children absolutely loved this. They joined in asking and answering questions and learned so much.
Later in the afternoon the sun was shining so we headed back out on to the deck. The wind had settled and it was just beautiful. Nothing but sparkling blue water as far as you could see. The kids loved it. We spent ages wandering all over, looking for (but not seeing) dolphins and got so excited when the Tasmanian coastline came in to view.
Before we even knew it, we were docking and it was time to head to our car. The day, which I had secretly been somewhat dreading, had flown. We had all had a wonderful time and were already saying we can’t wait to do that again!
The Spirit of Tasmania sails from Melbourne to Devonport and return, most days of the year.
Fares range from $86 per adult one way and $87 per vehicle one way. There are also regular special promotions with discounts for families/kids and vehicle package deals.
Search and book accommodation in Tasmania here.