Are you planning your caravanning Tour of Tasmania?  When to sail? It was a question we were asked a lot in the lead up to our tour, so we decided to try BOTH so we could give you the run down.

We day sailed on the way over to Devonport from Melbourne and we night sailed on the way home.

As this was our first time, we had no idea what to expect!

Our community had shared their views – be prepared for a long day, if it’s rough it’s horrible, I would NEVER day sail with kids…all of this was taken over by the excitement we all felt! We were off to Tasmania for 4 weeks! We were on holidays! We were going on a SHIP!

There were a few very important things we had to consider before we left:

  1. We are not water babies! The thought of rough seas made all our tummies churn. You might remember our stories of feeding the whales in Merimbula a few years back! A family that spews together, stays together! Hahaha! A quick trip to the chemist a few weeks before our trip saw Wayne load up on Travel Calm tablets. He had a great chat with the chemist and he was glad he did, as Kate needed to take a different type due to her age. 
  2. 12 Hour Day sale! How are we going to keep the kids entertained for 12 hours? I was pretty confident that the excitement of the ship and exploring time would take up a big chunk of time and we loaded their back packs with essentials – colouring in, Travel Journal, snacks, iPads, a few games, books.
  3. Consider booking a cabin! Initially we were not going to book a cabin for our day sail, however after speaking with a few families who had sailed during the day, we changed our minds. Having a place to ‘dump’ all our things, having a place to have a comfortable nap, a place for some time out! One of the best decisions we made.
  4. Read all your boarding information from the Spirit of Tasmania beforehand. Check out their website for further information – all your questions will be answered! The last thing you want to do is miss something and this could then affect your boarding process!


Ok. We were ready! We stayed the night before at the BIG4 Melbourne Holiday Park with our mates from Trip In A Van and it was an easy drive to get to the docks, it took around 25 minutes. As we turned the corner at Port Melbourne, the girls could see the Spirit of Tasmania and there were squeals of delight. We were all so excited that our adventure was about to begin.

It was advised to arrive at least 2 hours before sail time – so we made sure that all the kids (an us) had made a toilet stop and were all fed and watered. We all munched on the last of our apples as we queued up and started the waiting game.  With no idea what to expect, we were prepared for the long wait and possibly a bit of drama as hundreds of cars, caravans, trucks, bikes and people all boarded. The drama never came. Our boarding was super smooth, so smooth, that Wayne and I are still chatting and marvelling about what a well-oiled machine it was. It was impressive. We queued, we waited, we moved, we queued, we waited, we moved – super friendly staff (the girls got an awesome Spirit of Tasmania Activity Bag), quick and easy quarantine check and just like that, we were in the hull of the ship and ready to explore!

I was impressed as soon as I left the car and caravan – all the cars and van all lined up, precision parking at it’s best.  There was no rushing, there was no pushing, a very relaxed experience.  Through the doors onto the ship.

Make sure you collect your Location ticket next to the entry – very handy piece of paper to let you know where your vehicle is.

We headed straight to our cabin, it was just like a hotel!  More squeals of delight as we discovered an ensuite, 4 bunks and a large window looking out to the bar. The cabin was a lot larger than we all expected and we put our bags down, took our Travel calm pills, the girls picked their bunks and we went to explore this beauty of a vessel.

We had never been on a vessel as large as this one before, and the excitement was very hard to contain. We watched as the ship left the dock.  Breathtaking morning views of the city of Melbourne and the girls waved to the people that they could see.

We got out our map and explored everything that the Spirit had to offer. The girls did not want to miss anything, so they had to check it all out and they knew there was plenty of time to go back and explore over and over again. Exploring completed, we headed for breakfast. We wanted to take in everything the Spirit of Tasmania had on offer, so that mean tasting the food as well. Breakfast was delicious! Hot, fresh and spot on! With our bellies full, we were off again.

They found the playground again and played while we drank coffee, talked and chattered on some of the things we actually wanted to see in Tasmania. The small playground was perfect for ages 1 – 8 (Ashlee is 9 and still had a blast).  We headed to reception to book the kids into a movie, YES, they have two mini cinema’s on board!  But we were too late – the Paddington session was fully booked! Bugger. Tip: Book your movie as soon as you board so you don’t miss out!

The early morning, the excitement, the great feed and the exploring had tired us all out, so we headed back to the cabin and all had a lazy lay down. The skies were blue and the sail was smooth, so it was easy to lay and relax. At this point, we were still in the bay and the coffee lady had mentioned it would be a great sailing day and we all nodded off for a sleep – perfect way to kill some time.

When we woke up, it was a lot rougher that before we fell asleep. Wow, I thought, the weather is getting wild. We all got up and went to stretch our legs again, the swell was enough to move us back and forth and be a bit unstable.  The girls thought it was hilarious, Wayne and I felt queezy and asked the same coffee lady if this was normal? She chuckled slightly and said “yes, this was a very smooth sail – we are now out of the heads, so it gets rough from here until Devonport.”  Woah! We could only imagine what it would be like if it was ‘rough’! Wayne felt as crook as a dog. We went outside to get some fresh air and the waves were tiny. Wayne was a little embarrassed to even feel sick.

The rest of the day was spent wandering around the ship, inside, outside, inside, outside, back to the cabin, some afternoon tea (scones, jam & cream – YES!), back to the cabin for some ipad down time and then we cruised on into Devonport, jumped in our car and were off the boat within 30 minutes! Another very impressive smooth departure!


From Devonport we had a 7.30pm sailing time. We arrived at 6pm and the boarding process was just as smooth, although we were one of the last to board, making the wait time a bit longer.

Once on the boat, we were familiar with the layout so headed straight to reception to book in a movie! As previously mentioned above, you will need to book! Coco was showing at 8pm, so enough time for us to head to the dining area, enjoy some tucker and head into the movie as a family.

The food on the Spirit of Tasmania is delicious! Treated to Tasmanian Lamb, fresh salads, veggies, pasta, chips and other selections. Combined with a drink a decadent desert and cheese platter for only $25 – we were in heaven!

The cinema was a highlight and we were so glad we didn’t miss out this time. Leaving Devonport, you are not in protected waters for very long, so the waves and rolls of the ship were felt during the movie. We worked our way back to the cabin, had showers and all snuggled into our bunk beds. It was funny all going to bed at the same time and there were lots of giggles and chatting. We wrote down the adventures of the day in our Travel Journals, popped our Travel Calm pills and tried to sleep. The girls nodded off with no problems. Wayne and I on the other hand, struggled. The motion of the ocean did not agree with us and we found it very hard to sleep. It wasn’t until the wee hours of the morning (when we must have got into the 6 hours of calm heading back into Melbourne) that we finally got a few hours in. Woken to a wake up call on the PA, we packed up and headed to our breaky and enjoyed our final moments on the Spirit of Tasmania. By the time we woke up and had breaky, we were only minutes away from docking and another super-efficient and quick dismembarkment, saw us heading home within hours of waking up.

So, Day Sail vs Night Sail??

All in all, if we were to do it again, we would travel over at night and return to Victoria on a day sail.

Why? When you leave Melbourne, you are within the boundaries of our land. Out of an 8-hour trip you have approx. 6 hours of relatively smooth sailing. And the last 2 hours a little rougher as you are then in open waters. You can have a sleep and get to sleep while it is calm. On the return, you could deal with the rough seas for a couple of hours, then you can enjoy the calmness for the rest of the trip.

The Day sail, for us, was all part of the adventure – and we would definitely day sail again with the kids, with a cabin and booking our movies early! *note: our girls were 6yrs and 9yrs

Enjoy and happy sailing!

For more information about sailing on the amazing Spirit of Tasmania – check out – FILLED with EVERYTHING you will need to know…

Don’t forget to have a look at our online shop  – Adventure Awaits – for LOTS of travel accessories, caravan goodies and gift ideas, including the below Sand Castle Builders Kit from Sand Pal.

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