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TravelReview of Cinderella: a Classic Cruise Experience

Review of Cinderella: a Classic Cruise Experience


Viking Cinderella at Stockholm
In 1989, Viking Cinderella was the biggest ferry in the Baltic. Still, it is comfortable to travel with.

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We embarked on the m/s Viking Cinderella for a journey from Helsinki to Stockholm. While the ferry may not boast the latest modern amenities, it charmed us with its nostalgic allure, and we enjoyed cruising aboard. Though some aspects could be better, the vessel still provided a delightful and economical cruising experience on the Baltic Sea. Dive into our comprehensive review to discover the services Cinderella provides and our take on them. Additionally, find out why we awarded the ferry a rating of three stars, despite it having the potential to earn one more.

Nostalgic Cruise on m/s Viking Cinderella


We made a spring cruise from Helsinki to Stockholm aboard classic m/s Viking Cinderella. Though launched in 1989, the ferry has undergone renovations and remained in good condition. We were curious to see how the ferry held up after all these years and actually, it was also our first onboard this lady.


Operated by the Finnish company Viking Line (which also runs m/s Gabriella on the same route), Cinderella remains a people’s favourite despite its age. Both Viking Line’s Helsinki-Stockholm ferries are similar in age, but passengers often have a soft spot for Cinderella.


We’ll share our onboard experiences and rate the ferry below.


Outbound Journey to Stockholm


Boarding the Ferry


We boarded m/s Viking Cinderella from Viking Line’s centrally located Katajanokka Terminal in Helsinki. The boarding process was quick and efficient without any queues.


Katajanokka Terminal
Katajanokka Terminal is small. It is centrally located.


Viking Cinderella Sign
Boarding Viking Line’s Stockholm ferries at Katajanokka Terminal is always a smooth experience.


Upon entering the ferry, we encountered an unpleasant odour in the cabin corridor that smelled like water damage. While the smell lingered in the corridor, our cabin itself remained odour-free.


The main lobby
The main lobby of the ferry welcomed us onboard.


Our accommodations were in a small, interior cabin in Class B. While lacking a window, it had a TV, four beds, a compact bathroom, a mirror, a phone and a small table. This basic layout is common for most cabins on the ferry, although some offer the luxury of exterior windows. Additionally, there are premium cabin classes available for those seeking more amenities.


The cabin Class B
Our cabin was small with 4 beds, a table and a bathroom.


The TV in the cabin
Also a TV was installed in the cabin. Finnish and Swedish channels were available.


The cabin was in good condition, but it was evident that the ferry was no stranger to time. The same impression was also reflected in the public areas, where a certain retro charm prevailed under the polished surfaces.


Ferry location TV Channel
The TV featured an interesting TV channel showing the real-time locations of all Viking Line’s ferries.


Dinner


We had pre-booked a dinner buffet on board. Compared to our previous similar cruises, the price had got increasingly expensive. At over 45 euros, even with it being all-inclusive, the price feels a bit excessive these days.


Buffet schedules
Buffets fill up quickly, so book your dinner in advance.


Buffet restaurant
The Buffet was a grand open space with self-service.


The Buffet included salads, hot dishes, desserts, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Diners had almost 2 hours to eat and drink as much as they could.


Wine and beer taps
Wine and beer were complimentary.


Bread table
There was a separate table for breads.


Unfortunately, the food quality hadn’t kept pace with the rising price. It seemed like Viking Line had started using cheaper ingredients. The food was still good but did not give as much value for money as before.


Buffet table
We started our dinner by fetching food from the cold table.


Warm table
After the cold food, another table full of warm food awaited us.


The dessert table was versatile but still a small disappointment. For instance, there were fewer fish options and no fresh fruits for dessert, just sugary easy options like ice cream.


Dessert
We still found tasty items.


Dessert plate
This dessert was tasty but not the healthiest one.


The layout of the Buffet restaurant added to the disappointment. The premises felt disorganized and confusing. There weren’t any clear signs indicating the traffic flow, leaving people wandering around unsure where to go. A better layout would significantly improve the buffet experience. On top of that, the restaurant was quite crowded and noisy. The buffet experience on newer ferries is way better.


A sign at the Buffet
The ambience spoke of history, with details like vintage signs adding to the charm.


The butler was familiar from m/s Gabriella where we noticed his genuine friendliness and positive energy.


Buffet food
In overall, the Nordic-style food in the Buffet was good and well-prepared.


Club Etage


After dinner, we checked out Etage, the on-board nightclub. This venue caters to families in the early evening, transforming into an adults-only space later at night. Similar to other Stockholm ferries, m/s Viking Cinderella offered complimentary entertainment options, but you must pay for drinks. On the outbound journey, the entertainment included only a crew member singing and the house band.


Club Etage
Club Etage is considered a central hub for entertainment on the ferry, hosting the main program of activities.


Etage boasted three floors. The first two floors were ideal for watching the program and people dancing, while the third floor provided a quieter atmosphere for conversation. There was also a dedicated smoking area. All floors had bars, although the one on the third floor was closed during our visit.


Third floor of Etage
The third floor of Etage was empty during our visit.


Smoking Lounge
Smoking was allowed only outside and in the smoking lounge.


At the back of the ferry, Etage offered a delightful view of the outside scenery. In the summertime, the venue even allows guests to step outside for drinks, smoke, or to enjoy a breath of fresh air.


Etage features an outside terrace.


Return from Stockholm to Helsinki


Our Helsinki-Stockholm cruise included a full day in Stockholm, allowing us to explore the city at our leisure. This time around, we opted for a delightful walking tour under the beautiful sunshine. We also took a refreshing dip at a public swimming hall and treated ourselves to a delicious Chinese lunch buffet at Ri Cora Restaurang & Bar. By 4:30 pm, the ferry departed back to Helsinki, marking the end of our enjoyable day in Stockholm.


You should arrive at the port at the latest about 40 minutes before the departure.


Viking Line uses the central Stadsgården Terminal in Stockholm which is easily reachable by foot. We didn’t incur any public transport costs in Stockholm. We boarded the ferry about 40 minutes before it was leaving back to Helsinki.



Dinner at Bistro Melody


With the buffet prices on the high side, we decided to explore the cafe located at the front of the ship for a more affordable dinner option. We were also full after enjoying the Chinese food in Stockholm.


Melody at the bow of the ferry offered a spacious and peaceful setting, complete with a stage for the program. Although there wasn’t any program during our visit, we heard that bingo games are arranged there.


Bistro Melody
Bistro Melody was a spacious self-service cafe


Breakfast
We enjoyed a simple breakfast in Bistro Melody on our outbound journey.


For dinner, we opted for salmon soup, pizza, and drinks, keeping our bill under 20 euros per person – a significant saving compared to the Buffet. The food was delicious, and we were very happy with our choice. The bistro operated in a self-service manner, where we ordered and paid at the cashier before collecting our food when our pager buzzed.


Tax-free Store


We couldn’t resist browsing the ferry’s tax-free store. As is typical for ferries departing Helsinki, it offered a wide selection of duty-free goods, including clothing, sweets, alcohol, and more.


Tax-free store
Tax-Free Store sold clothes and many other products.


Wines
Supermarkets in Finland are not allowed to sell wines but on the ferry, it is legal.



Breakfast


The next morning, we aimed to fuel up with a hearty breakfast before arriving in Helsinki.The breakfast buffet was a much better deal compared to the dinner buffet, and the selection remained impressive. It offered both hot and cold options, making it a fantastic value for the price. Cold and hot drinks were included, but not alcoholic ones.


Window seat of the Buffet
We were lucky to get a nice window seat at the breakfast buffet.


Just like in the dinner buffet, the restaurant remained crowded and somewhat messy. However, we found this bustling and slightly disorganized atmosphere more fitting for a lively breakfast setting, as opposed to a more formal evening meal.


Other Services on the Ferry


We did not try all ferry services and restaurants, but we collected useful information for our readers.



Restaurants


Beyond the buffet and bistro, m/s Viking Cinderella impressed with a variety of speciality restaurants on Deck 8: Ocean Grill, Seaview Dining and Banquet. These eateries catered to diverse tastes, from fine dining experiences to casual grills and even dedicated spots for drinks and snacks. With such a comprehensive selection, we’re confident everyone could find something to tantalize their taste buds. In addition, there was the Bottega Wine Bar which had a live pianist.


Ocean Grill
Ocean Grill served simple grill food and salads.


Bottega Wine Bar
While Bottega Wine Bar looked inviting, we decided to skip it this time.


Spa


M/s Viking Cinderella also boasts a spa located at the front of the ferry, inviting you to unwind in saunas and pools or indulge in pampering treatments. Imagine soaking in the jacuzzi with a refreshing local beer. We opted to skip the spa on this trip, having already visited a public swimming hall in Stockholm. The spa entrance fee was around 20 euros.


Outer deck
If you wish to enjoy the views of the Stockholm archipelago, there is no need to go to the spa but you can buy a takeaway coffee and enjoy it outside.


Admiral Hornblower’s Pub


For some, particularly seasoned travellers, Admiral Hornblower’s Pub might be the star of Cinderella. This classic pub retains its original charm, offering a truly retro experience. While we found it too dark and noisy, many fellow passengers were having a blast enjoying pints and singing karaoke.


Admiral Hornblower
Admiral Hornblower’s Pub had still its original decoration.


Bistro Melody and Admiral Hornblower’s Pub is connected so the pub’s customers can easily go eat some snacks and return to the pub.


Casino


Gambling in Finland is strictly regulated but gambling on the ferries is legal. However, it is becoming less popular. M/s Viking Cinderalla and other similar ferries have a small casino meant only for adults.



Spiral Staircase and Winter Garden


M/s Viking Cinderella had a couple of minor but charming details that caught our eye. Beyond the standard staircases, it boasted beautiful spiral stairs winding from Deck 7 to Deck 11. While they might not have been the latest design, their timeless elegance added a touch of classic character to the ship. In the centre of the stairs, panoramic elevators – likely state-of-the-art in 1989 – offered stunning views as you ascended. The decoration is like from an old movie.


Viking Cinderella
Viking Cinderella features a glass wall, offering great views of the sea. Whether you’re on the spiral staircase, taking a ride in the panorama lifts, or relaxing in the winter garden, you’ll be treated to the scenery.


Crowning these unique stairs was Winter Garden. This garden wasn’t much more than an open space adorned with a few plants and calming music. Yet, its very simplicity and serenity made it special. It was amazing to find such a peaceful, uncommercialized retreat onboard.


Winter
Doesn’t this simple garden feel peaceful?


Outer Decks


M/s Viking Cinderella boasts expansive open decks, perfect for taking in the scenery and getting a breath of fresh air during the warmer months. Several bars open on the deck in the summer, transforming the space into a delightful spot to enjoy a refreshing drink while basking in the views. While Nordic weather can often be chilly, limiting the full use of these decks year-round, ferry companies prioritize less to these outdoor areas.


Outer deck
There was a lot of space on outer decks where you were allowed to move freely. Unfortunately in the wintertime, it is cold outside.


Lockers


Lockers are a minor detail people appreciate. Not all passengers have a cabin if they are travelling only in the daytime.


Lockers
Lockers are a practical service for those who do not have a cabin.


We liked…


  • Cinderella offered a range of entertainment options to keep us and other passengers engaged throughout the journey.
  • There was an exciting retro charm that permeated the entire ship.
  • The ship boasted diverse restaurant selections further enhancing the onboard experience.


Public toilet
The public toilets and premises in Viking Cinderella were clean.


Could Be Improved…


While M/s Viking Cinderella had a lot to offer and it offered exciting retro quality, there were a few areas that could be improved.


  • Wi-Fi woes: The in-cabin Wi-Fi signal strength was poor. While the Wi-Fi was free, a stronger connection would have been much appreciated.
  • Unpleasant odours: Some unpleasant smells detracted from the overall experience.
  • Surprise sounds: Strange metallic noises infiltrated the cabin at night, making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep.


How to Book a Ferry Ticket

Browsing between the offerings of various ferry operators on a single route can be a daunting task. Our suggestion is to use Ferryscanner for an overview of different fares available via one quick search. Remember to follow these crucial steps when booking:

  • Search ferries for your intended route.
  • Select the desired ferry service. Fill and double-check all booking information.
  • Understand the terms for cancellation.
  • Add any additional services you may require. The same service may cost more later.
  • Finalize your booking using a payment card.

Head to Ferryscanner and book your sail.


Cinderella sign
The official name of the ferry is m/s Viking Cinderella


Aisle
Even though the premises in Viking Cinderella were not so modern, there was a lot of space which made the decoration nice.


Rating