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It’s fun to visit the Estonian capital Tallinn. But many times, at the ferry, you wish there was more space between the drunken passengers and melancholic Finnish rock. Often, there is no room to sit. The interior looks pretty much the same on all the ferries traveling to Tallinn, and soon you find yourself in the bar drinking beer, becoming one of the drunken passengers just to escape, wishing it was all over soon. So, when you hear there is a brand-new ferry in the West Harbor – silent, spacious with shining toilets – I wasn’t second-guessing my intentions. I jumped aboard.
[toggler title=”Details about the green-powered ship:” ]Megastar is a display of fine Finnish shipbuilding and green power. It runs on environmentally friendly liquefied natural gas. The shape of the hull is advanced, substantially saving fuel. It’s 212 meters long and takes 2,800 passengers onboard. Tallink Grupp invested 230 million euros in building the ship, which was constructed by Mayer Turku during 2015-2017.[/toggler]It was a rainy Sunday afternoon in January when Tallink Megastar was to leave the harbor on its virgin trip with journalists, YouTubers and bloggers invited on board along with passengers who had reserved their tickets in time.
Megastar was docked between the old and a new terminal that is scheduled to open in the spring. With a free drink coupon in hand (they offered you one after posing for a photo), I joined the walk to the boat with hundreds of people. After about one kilometer the open deck number six and the smiling staff welcomed us aboard. The working professionals traveled in Comfort class, so the natural first stop was the Comfort Lounge with champagne and snacks.
The interior smelt brand new around the ferry. I barely noticed when the engines started purring. When the ship departed the harbor, we toasted with champagne, and the sales chief of Visit Tallinn, Mall Oja, wished Megastar to “sail before the wind.”
I decided to enter the Victory Bar where I could extinguish my thirst from the bubbly with silky, Estonian Weiss beer with my free drink coupon. The rain spanked the big windows of the bar and the gusting wind blew against the bow – the weather not exactly complying with the sales chief’s wishes – but the ride was still smooth like the Alexander Weizen gliding down my throat. The ferry traveled with ease, with low vibrations, and the contemporary lounge music provided good vibrations on the seat.
There was a big screen TV on the wall. It broadcasted a game of football. But from where I was sitting, the big plastic horse with a lamp on its head in the middle of the hallway blocked half of the view.
Before jumping into any rude conclusions, I started thinking . . . . The horse, the lamp and the screen play equal parts in the decoration. They “float in harmony,” like a wise Buddhist monk once told me . . . but the harmony could be smashed to pieces by an angry football fan, who’d come to the crowded bar to watch the Estonian national team hammer the living hell out of Uruguay in a friendly match at the A. Le Coq Arena.
Nevermind. The horse, according to Megastar’s Interior Designer Samuli Pöllänen, is to become the “discussion piece.” Like the Eiffel Tower in Paris . . . or the Leaning Tower of Pisa . . . . Many passengers took selfies with the plastic beast, so it indeed seems to have potential.
A walk through the boat was a visual experience. The wool carpet separated each area from another with graphic patterns. The hand-knit carpet added luxury to the look. It also muted the footsteps.
The shopping experience had literally reached new heights. The Traveller Superstore featured a two-story space for shopping – well-lit, a great selection of wines and treats. With 2,800 square meters, it’s the largest store to sail on the Baltic Sea. As an example, a bottle of red Chateau La Croix St-Vincent, a nice wine from Pomerol France, cost about 37 euros. (Not available in Alko.) After shopping, one could lock their shopping bags in their rides on the car deck, unlike on any other Tallink ship. The deck is monitored for any suspicious activity.
[toggler title=”Read more about the improved service for car passengers:” ]Double level loading and wider car deck access improves the loading and unloading time. A parking garage emulating the style of supermarkets provides access during the voyage. One can take their shopping bags to their ride.[/toggler]
Then there was the food. Sadly, the buffet didn’t impress with its fridge cold sushi, salty potatoes and bitter fish. The chocolate cake for desert was o.k.
To improve my experience, I tried to get a table at the a la carte restaurant, The Chef’s Kitchen, next to the buffet but was quickly assured that “we’re full booked.” As a pro tip, it’s encouraged to book a table as early as possible. The menu looked delicious, though. I would’ve had Fried Fish of the Day with Cherry Tomatos, Asparagus and Fennel Salad, served in seafood sauce. But that will be for another time. Who comes to a fast Tallinn ferry to eat, anyway?
[toggler title=”Read details about travel classes and restaurants:” ]Megastar offers three travel classes, the standard or Star class, upgraded Comfort class and Business class. There are two separate lounges also for the standard class – Sitting lounge and Driver`s lounge for cargo drivers. There are seven different restaurants and cafés on board, including a buffet restaurant, a la carte restaurant, a Burger King and cafés. [/toggler]
The ride to Tallinn took only two hours. The trip was fast and smooth, and the boat, although filled with hundreds of passengers, seemed to offer room to breathe. This is very unlikely of a typical Sunday ferry across the gulf. They are, after all, called “cattle boats” for a reason but in Megastar you feel to belong to the herd.