Monday, May 27, 2013
Helsinki Adventure Ride on the M/S J. L. Runeberg
The Estonia-Finland trip extension officially ended Tuesday evening with guests departing for the airport early Wednesday morning. We booked an extra day so we could see a bit more of the country, outside of Helsinki.
The morning wind and rain did not deter us. The Runeberg brochure indicated the boat had four salons or cabin areas. Rain? No problem.
We purchased our tickets and boarded a very busy boat. As we explored the boat, looking for a protected seat, we discovered a new Finnish word on little gold cards in every salon.—RESERVED! It seemed all the inside salons were reserved for tour groups. I later discovered the boat can carry 200 passengers but has room for only 78 in its “salons.”
I suspect the boat, launched the same year as the Titanic, might have been designed by the same guy. In the Titanic case lifeboats were provided for only some of the passengers. In our case, inside space was provided for only some of the passengers.
On a warm sunny day it would have been no problem. There was storm swept seating on the bow and on a sundeck, topsides. Covered seating was available on the port and starboard sides, against the cabin. But the wind was so aggressive those seats were wet as well. Some of the other “salonless” passengers huddled on stools or the floor in the narrow passageway to the coffer bar, below deck by the engine room. Of course they couldn’t see anything but at least they were dry.
So, how did we feel about the trip? It was a great way to see a beautiful coast that is laced with hundreds of small islands. But frankly we felt cheated. It was like buying a bus ticket and being put on the roof. The frustrating thing was that we had many more layers of clothing sitting in our hotel room but had no reason to believe we would need them.
As for Porvoo, it was a charming place with a wonderful “old town.” I would recommend it, rain or shine. And the bus back did give us a taste of the country. As for the boat ride, caveat emptor.