Unless you’re an exceptional swimmer, there are only two real ways to cross the Baltic from Stockholm to Helsinki: hop a short 45-minute flight, or take a 17-hour boat ride. Assuming you want to make the trip over a weekend without taking extra vacation days, this is a no-brainer, right? You would obviously choose to fly because then you’d have that much more time to actually sightsee and enjoy the city. But you would be boring! Seriously where is your sense of adventure? We took the boat.

(It’s worth mentioning that there was a bit of a price difference that factored here: Flights were around $250 not including an extra $30 for the airport bus, while the round trip boat ride was only $45 each and accessible via the tunnelbana. We’re not completely retarded, we’re just cheap.)

So just how was the boat? In college, I developed a sudden and crippling fear of flying, and was too scared to book a ticket home for spring break. By relying on my powers of passive-aggressive persuasion – such as by reciting aviation disaster statistics and leaving subliminal terrorists are going to be on our plane and we’re totally going to crash hints all over the apartment – I actually managed to convince my roommate that we should take the Greyhound bus to Miami instead. From our school. In Boston. It took 27 hours each way, including a 3 AM mandatory refueling stop in Deliverance, North Carolina both directions – and suffice it to say, this boat ride wasn’t as bad as that.

But it was something. The Silja Serenade bills itself as a cruise, so I think that’s where we went wrong. Had we gone into this expecting a blinged out ferry, well then I would be singing the praises of this method of Scandinavian travel.

Hey speaking of singing, there was a show!

What you’re seeing here is some sort of motionless, bungee-trapeze rendition of Con Te Partiro that took place, unannounced, on deck 6 to the cheers of screaming drunk Norrlanders. I think Katie’s face really tells the complete story.

Among the other fun surprises on board were spacious cabins…

A bizarre “Italian” themed scarf-as-ball-gown fashion show (good thing we booked months in advance to get seats for this)…

And all the inebriated, old Norwegian men that three girls could ever hope would badger them into dancing in front of a crowd…

There was also, of course, a selection of buffet-style restaurants that ran upwards of €30 for a plate of pasta (better not to do the conversion and just eat), and a smokey casino full of whiskey-soaked karaoke and seasickness delights. Seventeen hours x 2 = 34 hours, and guess how much of that was spent sleeping? 0.2.

You’ll notice this blog was not about Helsinki at all, and that’s because we were only there for about 14 seconds when all was said and done. But stay tuned because I just might have enough photos to scrape together an ugly photo collage Helsinki edition after all!

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