My wife and I were really lucky with the Helsinki weather, when we visited the Ice Hockey World Championships in May 2022 there. After doing a lot of running through the city doing sightseeing, we were longing for a relaxed way to be tourists in the Finnish capital. We finally went for a Helsinki Sightseeing Cruise with Royal Line.
One of the key advantages of Royal Line is that they are located right at Helsinki Market Square (Kauppatori), so that you just cannot miss it. Other key attractions like the Helsinki Market Hall or the Helsinki Cathedral are just a few steps away. Kauppatori tram station is served by Line 2, you may also use other stations around like Senaatintori (tram 2, 2B, 4, 5, 7, 7H).
In summer, there are typically four daily cruises, 11:00, 13:00, 15:00 and 17:00 hrs. Adult admission is 25 EUR. The loudspeaker commentary of the cruise is in Finnish and English. However, they also serve eight other languages by transmitting device and headphones. The cruise time is 90 minutes, our trip almost exactly met that time.
Royal Line – The Vessel
We took our cruise with the vessel Natalia, which has exclusively been used for the 90 minute cruise that day. As it has been a sunny and warm day, most visitors headed up to the top open deck, which may still be a bit of chilly on a summer day. There is no way to reserve seats, everything is first-come-first-serve. There is also a rather small, better wind-protected area at the lower rear of the vessel. Below, you also find some impressions of the indoor lower decks of the ship. Overall, the seating was quite cozy. All seats are serviced.
Royal Line – The Cruise
There is a cruise route printed on some folders and tables (see above). However, the cruise finally did not take exactly the route shown, but a roughly similar one. Leaving the Market Square harbor area, the Natalia headed West first, cruising along the coastline, to the districts of Merisatama and Hernesaari. There are a lot of smaller private cruise ships around, but you also head toward one of the main ferry harbors, which connects to St. Petersburg and Tallinn. However, the ship headed seaside first and we approached the two islands of Pilhajasaari.
Suomenlinna – The Historic Fortress Islands
From there, the cruise headed Eastbound. This is the most open sea and thus also a bit of bumpy part of the trip. The former fortress islands of Suomenlinna are a highlight of any Helsinki visit – and the cruise as well. You can see quite a lot of the former fortress and wharf area from the ship. This part of the cruise is definitely a good advertisement to grab one of the boat services (including the public ferry) and spent more time on these islands.
After spending quite some time at Suomenlinna, there is another rather open sea passage heading North to Korkeasaari, the island which is also hosting Helsinki Zoo. However, the ship is just cruising along the island, heading Westbound from there to allow some really enjoyable views from Pohjoissatama harbor, which is in fact right next to the harbor at Market Square. You pass the Helsinki Icebreaker Fleet, but also have a nice view of the beautiful houses at the Pohjoisranta road or the orthodox Upspenski Cathedral.
The last some ten minutes of the cruise feature passing the Katajanooka peninsula, which also features local and international ferry ports and views of the SkyWheel Helsinki, before you reach or original starting point again.
Royal Line – Service
The bar / cafe is fully licensed – they for example suggest you to go for some crisps and champagne. Overall, pricing for the drinks and simple food is reasonable. The lower decks allow you to go for covered seating. The service was very friendly and attentive. The ship also features toilets, which are absolutely fine compared to other sightseeing vessels of this kind in other places.
Royal Line – The Gallery
There are 91 major size pictures (of the Helsinki sights only) related to this posting in the travel galleries:
Helsinki might be very ugly on a cold an windy day – but if it is sunny and not that chilly, the Royal Line Helsinki Sightseeing Cruise is a very nice option. The service is nice, the duration is fine (just before you feel it is really too cold) and they show you quite a nice set of the Helsinki highlights. Another advantage is that this cruise really takes a round trip and not and “forth-and-back” one, which features more or less the same places on the second half of your trip. Nicely done.