Cruise Line Offers Green Holiday Getaways
Published: April 30, 2013 (Issue # 1757)
Duty-free shopping on board is a traditional pastime for cruise passengers.
As the Russian May holidays and summer travel season approach, the amount of tourists from St. Petersburg and elsewhere in Russia to neighboring Finland traditionally heightens. This year retail stores in a number of Finnish cities, including Helsinki, have even decided to work on May 9 when Finland celebrates Ascension Day, a national holiday, so as not to miss the increasing number of Russian customers.
Since Russian visitors to Finland usually look not only for shopping but also for Finnish cottage vacations, and inevitably use Finland as a stepping-stone to other European destinations, Finns do their best to widen the range of offerings for those services.
This year, the range of ferry options from Finland has been expanded with voyages on a luxurious new liner, Viking Grace, rolled out by the well-established ferry company Viking Line. The new sailing connects Finland’s ancient capital Turku to Stockholm, providing passengers with a trip through one of the world’s most famous archipelagos on the way.
The cruise line focuses on giving travelers a decadent, all-inclusive experience, with high-end restaurants, a spa and wellness center on the topmost deck with views of the archipelago that includes a snow cave and two Jacuzzis, and a unique interior lighting system that changes depending on the time of day. The 800-cabin ferry also hopes to draw customers with numerous rooms for people with allergies and the handicapped, as well as high-end shopping.
The new ferry’s advantages, however, go beyond the epicurean. To meet ecological priorities and preserve the fragile environment of the region, Viking Grace has become the first big passenger ship in the world to use liquefied natural gas as its fuel. Use of LNG reduces emissions of nitrogen and particulate matter by 85 percent and emissions of greenhouse gases by 15 percent, and completely eliminates sulfur emissions.
The hydrodynamic body of the 214-meter long ship adds to the vessel’s energy efficiency, reducing the wake the ship produces, and thus its fuel consumption. The vessel produces very little noise, both while sailing and in port, thanks to new sound isolation technologies.
Viking Grace’s green mission also extends to its GEM energy controlling system, which cuts energy use by 20 percent. Waste from the ferry is thoroughly sorted for recycling, while instead of regular bottled water they use their own filtration system to fill recycled bottles with both sparkling and still water.
Viking Grace is also equipped for travelers willing to have a business event or conference in an unusual atmosphere. The ultramodern conference space on the ferry can seat up to 500 people, while business meetings can continue late into the night, if necessary.
Getting to the cities lining the Baltic from St. Petersburg is also made easier by regular sailings by St. Peter Line. In addition to an increased number of voyages between St. Petersburg and Helsinki on its Princess Maria liner, the cruise company also offers a four-night tour that takes travelers on a four-city adventure from St. Petersburg to Helsinki, Stockholm, and Tallinn on its Princess Anastasia cruise ship. The ship sails to each destination by night, allowing passengers to enjoy a full day in each city. That cruise departs twice a week on a rolling basis.