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  • Writer's pictureJustin Merrigan

The new quay to Tasmania

Sailing with Spirit of Tasmania from its new Victoria terminal

Corio Quay
Sailing from Spirit of Tasmania Quay, Geelong. © Justin Merrigan

Tasmania’s Spirit of Tasmania is undoubtedly one of Australia’s most iconic journeys, ranking alongside such "Down Under" adventures as. crossing the Nullarbor Plain, cruising to the Great Barrier Reef, or traveling The Ghan or Indian Pacific railways.

The 242 nautical miles voyage across Bass Strait between Spirit of Tasmania's new mainland terminal at Geelong in Victoria and Devonport in Tasmania is currently served by two eye-catching red-hulled sister ships – Spirit of Tasmania I and Spirit of Tasmania II - providing a leisurely cruise for thousands of travellers seeking a high quality tourism experience to start and end their holiday or even as part of their holiday for those travelling around Australia.

The ships each have four main decks, five vehicle decks, a self-service restaurant area, two new cinemas, an upgraded lounge area and three bars – all showcasing Tasmanian local produce. There is a convenience store and gift shop, a children's play area, a games arcade, tourist information centre and a gaming lounge. Passengers can cruise in comfort with a choice of 222 cabins (Deluxe, Twin Bed or Four Bed) and 121 Recliners.

The three bars comprise "Bar 7", located on Deck 7, which is a stylish and intimate bar with a selection of Tasmanian premium cool-climate wines, local craft beer and boutique ciders and for passengers who prefer something a little stronger they can enjoy a nip of Tasmania’s finest quality whisky. The Terrace Lounge Bar, located on Deck 9, is bright and inviting with open spaces and colourful lounges. Flat-screen TVs with Foxtel and free-to-air channels are located throughout the deck. The Top Deck Lounge Bar, located on Deck 10, maximises the summer-feel with deck chairs to relax in, soft synthetic grass underfoot and large surrounding glass windows offering magnificent ocean vistas.”

On a night crossing to Tasmania sailing out through Victoria's Port Phillip Bay is always an absolute delight. A cheeky glass of wine, or a cold Tassie beer, taken on the outside decks on a summer evening as the sun dips beneath the horizon is all just part of the experience. Eventually, the ship rounds Port Phillip Heads passing through "The Rip" - a notorious narrow stretch of water linking to Bass Strait and still known by seafarers around the world! Entering Bass Strait, the ship soon settles down for the passage to an early morning arrival in Devonport; a one hour drive from Launceston and three hours from Hobart in Tasmania's south.

Both ships have served Tasmania incredibly well since their introduction in 2002. Service on board is excellent and standard of presentation is first class. If I could suggest just one improvement to an already great product it would be the reinstatement of the small table service restaurant that was withdrawn in the 2015 refit. For passengers who enjoy that little bit extra it was superb, serving fine Tasmanian produce and wines.

New for 2024 are two much heralded new 1,800-passenger ro-pax cruise ferries currently under construction by Rauma Marine Construction (RMC) at Rauma, Finland - the same yard from which the current ships came in 1998 as Superfast III and Superfast IV. With an overall length of 212 metres and a beam of 31 metres the new vessels are the first the company will own that are purpose built for Bass Strait.

Specifically designed for the crossing, they will be 40 per cent larger than the two vessels they are replacing. The ships will each feature 12 deluxe cabins, two family suites, 120 porthole cabins, 159 inside cabins, eight accessible cabins with an interconnecting cabin; a total of 301 total cabins. 118 recliners and 47 business recliners will also be provided. Below, there will be space for 3700 metres of vehicles.

The October 2022 keel laying of the first of the new ships, Spirit of Tasmania IV, was followed in December by the first cutting of steel for sister ship Spirit of Tasmania V.

Spirit of Tasmania I and Spirit of Tasmania II are in very good condition and will be sold after the new ships arrive. Most likely they will return to Europe and without question, whoever their new Owner will be, they will receive two fine ships indeed.


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