Spirit of Tasmania beckons

Frankston Caravan Park is a good spot to stay the night before boarding as it is handy to the quay and, if time permits, I suggest a dummy run to familiarise yourself with the route as Melbourne traffic can be daunting, especially when towing a van at peak hour.

There are night and day crossings. We left at 9am so booked the ocean recliners rather than a cabin.  

It is recommended to arrive at least two hours early to line up as it closes one hour before sailing.
My husband suffers seasickness so came armed with remedies and ginger tablets.  There are numerous seating options on the ship and the restaurants and cafes were excellent, with many options to experience the “tastes of Tassie”.  

We spent little time in the recliners and found ample seating on the ship.  Even the bars had great selections, particularly Tassie wines and beers.  

The many viewing areas on deck give great views of the journey with sightings of sea vessels and dolphins – and to my husband’s pleasure, beautiful calm seas.

The ticket price is determined by if you have a vehicle, its length and the accommodation selected.

Fares and availability can change during the booking process and are not guaranteed until payment is confirmed.

It is exciting to arrive at the port and see so many motorbikes, cars, camp trailers, caravans, motorhomes, semitrailers and foot passengers lined up as far as the eye can see.

“It is important to dome some research before booking as there is quite a range of fares and accommodation”

The majestic Spirit of Tasmania rises like a skyscraper at the Port of Melbourne.

The red-and-white monohull vessels of Spirit of Tasmania I and II each carry 1400 passengers and about 500 vehicles.

The 440km trip across Bass Strait to Devonport, takes about 9 to 11 hours and travel times vary with the time of year.

The best Tassie touring experience is November-March which is the peak tourist season.  We travelled early February and returned in April.

It is important to do some research before booking as there is quite a range of fares and accommodation, as well as discounts on selected sailings throughout the year.  

As ours was a day trip, we chose the recliners but on reflection we did not spend much time seated as there was so much to see and experience on the ship.

At booking you are required to give an exact measurement of vehicle and caravan, so that your allocation and fee can be determined.  You can take your pet but need to book a kennel and Tasmanian quarantine applies.    
Loading runs like clockwork.  On arrival, proceed to the vehicle check-in booth for a boarding pass, cabin key and ship directory.  

You then remain in your vehicle for boarding, which is easy. Simply follow crew directions and the white lines until you reach your allocated spot.  There is no need to reverse.

Be sure to take note of the deck number and location of your vehicle as there are a lot to choose from. Take all you will need for the trip with you as vehicle decks are then closed.

The Spirit of Tasmania II has 11 decks, 222 cabins and 121 recliners on board.

Deck 7 has cabins, reception area, movie theatre, lounge bar, gaming lounge, gift shop, main bar, two restaurants, tourism bureau and a children’s playroom.  

Deck 8 has cabins and an ocean recliner area and there is also a bar on Deck 10.  

It is very social and there are plenty opportunity to chat with fellow travellers.

The Tourism Hub has current travel brochures, organises bookings and gives local tips for your visit. Staff are mainly Tasmanian so their local knowledge is invaluable.  

You can also obtain your National Park passes (highly recommended as great value during your stay) and fishing licences.

Tasmanian has strict quarantine.  For example, fruit, vegetables, plants, fish or fish products and even honey are forbidden.

Quarantine inspections will be completed prior to boarding with random inspections taking place during disembarkation at Devonport Terminal.

Boats and fishing gear must be clean and dry and vehicles must be free from visible signs of soil and mud.
Loose gas cylinders also need to be declared and will be stored separately in a cage on the ship for collection on disembarking.

We disembarked at about 6.30pm and had a thorough quarantine inspection which delayed our exit.  

We had pre-booked a van park a short drive from the port and were buzzing with excitement for what was ahead.

We stayed for more than two months and found Tasmania a wonderful experience.

We could have stayed another month but by April, snow was falling in the high country, a good time for Queenslanders to exit with promises to return.

 More at spiritoftasmania.com.au