*Blog collaboration: The trip was sponsored by Visit Estonia, Visit Tallinn, Tallink | Silja Line, Eckerö Line and Viking Line
What do Eckerö Line and Indivue have in common? – Despite of their names, they are both Finnish. And they both like to travel.
I had the pleasure of traveling from Tallinn to Helsinki on the Eckerö Line m / s Finlandia ship in September 2020 and getting to know this third shipping company, which has sailed between Helsinki and Tallinn. Eckerö Line has been sailing that trip for more than 25 years. Attached is a video of one recent by Eckerö Line –
Despite of the fierce competition between companies traveling in-between Helsinki and Tallinn, Eckerö Line, the only company under the Finnish flag, has managed to increase its amount of passengers year after year. M / S Finlandia started operating in 2013 and in the autumn of 2016 the ship already carried its 5th millionth passenger. In 2019 alone, Eckerö Line had about 1,890,000 passengers.
Last year, at the beginning of summer 2019, Eckerö Line acquired another vessel, Finbo Cargo, for its Helsinki-Tallinn route. The difference was that when m / s Finlandia departed from Länsisatama in Helsinki, Finbo Cargo travels from Vuosaari, Helsinki, to Muuga, Tallinn, carrying not only cargo but also car passengers.
Since boat cruises and sea tourism are so visible, one does not immediately think that at the same time almost 80 per cent of all consumer goods imported to Finland are transported by sea, and exports by sea account for about 90 per cent of total exports. Those figures include e.g. spare parts needed by industry and products made by them, as well as food and pharmaceuticals.
At this moment, however, the situation of ferry traffic between Finland and Estonia seems uncertain for the rest of this year. According to Eckerö Line, travel restrictions because of covid19 have made a deep dent in the business and customer numbers have reduced as much as 90%. Even if freight passes and business travel is allowed, it is not enough to secure a profitable business for shipping companies. In the worst case, without special measures, Finland could lose its national fleet and the country’s security of supply will deteriorate.
Corona protection measures on board in autumn 2020
Although there were no travel restrictions between Finland and Estonia in September 2020, m / s Finlandia looked quite deserted, as you can see in the video. Perhaps partly because of this, but also because of the safety measures taken by Eckerö Line for corona virus, I felt safe on board as a passenger.
Ships and terminals had intensified cleaning practices and surface disinfection. Security announcements reminded customers of the importance of keeping distance throughout the trip and when the ship arrives in port. In addition, digital displays on ship reminded of the importance of hand washing, and infographers on the same displays reminded of keeping a distance and the right way to cough up on one’s sleeve. The ship’s service points and checkouts had also tapes on the floor that were reminding to keep distance, and hand sanitizer was available at the service points.
At the check-in and on board, the customer could only pay by card and could not use the cash. Customer service points and checkouts had drop shields, and in addition, ship also had face masks for sale. Paper hand towels were found in the toilets for drying one’s hands.
In the Buffet restaurant, the customer was able to put on protective gloves, which made it much more hygienic to grip the buffet food.
From sea to city
The theme of M / S Finlandia’s buffet in September was From sea to city and it had, for example, Skåne potatoes, roasted root vegetables, beetroots and Aura cheese, trout fillet, shrimps and fennel butter sauce and cheese pie. Eckerö Buffet’s menu changes six times a year. You can see their full menu from September in the video attached.
All foods served were clearly marked, whether they were gluten-free and lactose-free or not, and in addition, gluten-free breads and other gluten-free products were also found on a separate serving table. The dessert table offered for example chocolate mousse, salted nuts and caramel, cloudberry pannacotta, lingonberry parfait with caramel syrup and always-so-delicious vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce. All foods were presented with their Finnish and English names.
Last year, Eckerö Line was awarded the most organic company in the Organic Championships of Finland. The use of organic in m / s Finlandia had increased by 70% during 2018. This competition was arranged for the sixth time and it is part of the Stairs to Organic program, which aims to promote the use of organic products in restaurant services. The program is maintained by the EkoCentria expert team belonging to the Savo Education Consortium. And even though I didn’t see any green organic stamps in the buffet menu, Eckerö Line does offer organic filter coffee on board, and in addition, organic porridge and organic rye bread are served for breakfast.
Recent information from the end of September says however, that Eckerö’s buffet will be closed during October 2020, but e.g. organic porridge in the ship will still be served. It is good to know that although there are currently changing leisure travel restrictions and quarantine requirements when you travel to Estonia, one can also enjoy sea views at the windowsill in the form of a day cruise in Eckerö Line. Such a day cruise does not involve landing in Tallinn and thus there are no quarantine requirements for passengers from Finland. In addition, a private cabin guarantees a safe and peaceful travel during the cruise.
In the video you can see what a standard cabin in m / s Finlandia looks like, what the themed buffet From sea to city was like in the autumn of 2020 and how great the m / s Finlandia’s performance stage looks like. One can comfortably enjoy the seascapes behind the stage while enjoying one’s drink.
You might also be interested in INDIVUE – Trip to Europe – it contains authentic photos and travel tips for both Finland and Estonia as well as the rest of Europe.
You can also read more Tallinn-themed posts directly here!
Read this post also in Finnish here.