Tallink Silja is the largest cruise ship company operating in the Baltic Sea between Sweden, Finland, Latvia and Estonia. A record 9.5 million passengers travelled on their ships in 2016. The reasons? A mix of luxury and comfort satisfying also the most discerning customer and an unbeatable combination of beauty and variety of choices offered on board.
Nina Tähtinen, International Sales Director, gave some insight as for what the secrets of their exponential success are.
Q: Please tell us shortly about your company, Tallink Silja: what important milestones have you reached, how does you future look like?
A: This year Silja Line is celebrating 60 years anniversary but the history of Silja Line can be traced back to 1904 when two Finnish shipping companies started collaborating on the stretch between Finland and Sweden. In 1952 during the Summer Olympics the City of Helsinki built the Olympia Terminal, the home harbour of Tallink Silja in Helsinki still today and in 1957 a daughter company to the founder companies was formed, Oy Siljavarustamo / Siljarederiet Ab, for car-passenger ferry traffic.
In the beginning of the ‘90s, two sister ships that are to date the most beautiful cruise ferries in the Baltic Sea, started sailing between Helsinki and Stockholm, MS Silja Serenade and MS Silja Symphony. The two were fully refurbished last year with over 30 million euros, now offering amazing accommodation possibilities, luxury tax-free shopping and the highest level of dining & wining.
In 2006 Tallink Grupp acquired Silja Line, becoming altogether the largest company on the Baltic Sea and in 2007-2009 the company delivered two high-speed vessels Star and Superstar for traffic between Helsinki and Tallinn and a new cruise ferry, for the Tallinn-Stockholm route. In 2017 the new generation LNG powered vessel Megastar was delivered and from this year, Tallink Silja proudly becomes the world’s first cruise line to serve MSC certified seafood in restaurants on board.
Q: What makes Tallink Silja the number one in sea transportation services in the Baltic Sea?
A: Tallink Silja has the most modern fleet, the largest selection of routes and the biggest tax free shopping mall at sea, number 11 in the world's top Duty Free & Travel Retail Shops, number 4 in Europe after London Heathrow, Frankfurt and Paris Charles de Gaulle. We’re also the official Sea Carrier of the Moomin and Santa Claus!
Q: What services do you offer on board and what kind of accommodation is available?
A: Our cruise ferries are like floating high class resorts: we offer you endless opportunities for entertainment and recreation, excellent restaurants with a large variety of cuisines – from a delicious Scandinavian buffet to fine dining and seafood, various night clubs and bars, children's playroom, spa, great shopping possibilities and spacious and comfortable cabins of up to 10 different categories to choose from. We also have conference facilities from small board meetings to large events of 500-2500 people. From June through September on board on selected routes we have Chinese-speaking attendants and printed and digital materials are available in simplified Chinese as well.
Q: Tell us about your cruises: what can travellers expect from a cruise in the Baltic Sea and when is the best time to go?
A: We offer our customers much more than just a ferry crossing: this is the real cruise experience. True to our Nordic heritage, we focus on superior quality and attention to detail, which is reflected in everything we offer.
Our vessels are built to operate in all weather conditions, so it is possible to take a cruise any time of the year. We encourage our customers to find out what events are taking place in one of our destinations, so for example it is worth visiting Stockholm in April-May for the cherry blossoms, or go to the Åland Islands for the harvesting fair in autumn, or to visit the Christmas market in Tallinn in December. In June, you can just sit on our open decks and enjoy the midnight sun combined with spectacular views of the world’s most beautiful archipelago.
Q: What would be the ‘not to be missed’ sea experience in your opinion?
A: There are a few: the acrobatic show on the Promenade between Helsinki and Stockholm, the Seafood Platter from the Happy Lobster Restaurant, a night in the new Moomin cabin, a Champagne tasting at our Wine Bar. Stay on the open deck for the sunrise in the archipelago.
Q: Do you offer services on land as well, such as tour guides, pick up service and hotel bookings?
A: We offer hotel reservation possibilities at our own Tallink hotels in Tallinn and Riga, as well as our partner hotels in Finland and Sweden. It is possible to buy sightseeing tickets in advance and from on board, as well as transportation tickets and get information about the destination from our tour manager on board. Every year we organize a few special cruises, where the whole program is taken care of, including transportation and excursions and we have special packages linked to festivals and concerts.
Q: When coming from Asia, any specific regulations one has to keep in mind?
A: Take your passport for smooth check-in, comfortable walking shoes to explore the beautiful Nordic destinations, dancing shoes to test the nightclub dance floor and a big smile with you!
(Photo courtesy of Tallink Silja)