At the beginning of the 21st century air traffic started to increase. Cheap travelling was then the synonym of air travels. Plane tickets kept getting cheaper everyday and people slowly forgot about other ways of transportation. Planes are cheap and fast, most of them is pretty uncomfortable (economy class) but who cares it if is not expensive. You can’t take too much luggage if you want to keep it low-cost but does it really matter?
Back in the ’90 a lot of people travelled by ferries across the Baltic Sea. Swedish and Norwegians to do shopping in Poland, Polish people to work or visit families in Scandinavia. Passenger ferries were offering all kinds of entertainment on board so you had no time to get bored during the eight-hour crossing. But if you think it is all gone, you would be mistaken.
“Mina Damer och Herrar,
Kaptenen och hans besättning önskar er välkomma ombord på M/F Skania. Resan till Ystad beräknas ta cirka åtta timmar. Vi önskar er en trevlig resa. Tack”
These are the first words you hear on board the M/F Skania ferry when the cruise begins. The same message comes in Polish and English:
“Ladies and gentlemen,
Captain and his crew welcome you on board the M/F Skania. The voyage to Ystad will take about eight hours. We wish you a pleasant trip. Thank you.”
And here you are. You’d bought your ticket to Sweden. Congrats! Now you can enjoy all the attractions the ferry has to offer. You’ve passed the check-point where a nice, young lady called Claudia checked your ticket. She let you inside that long passage that led you to the starboard of the ship. You entered the massive doorway and faced a nice, smiling receptionist who checked again your ticket and gave you a keycard to your room saying: “Cabin number 2120, port side on deck eight, have a nice trip.” Port means left and starboard is right, and so a prow is the front of the ship and stern is the back. A few words you might find useful when at sea.
The reception desk is located on deck seven, so to get to your cabin you have to take the lift or the staircase and go one deck up. If you are confused which side is left or right (it is hard to locate the prow and the stern when there is no window in sight) I’ll give you a little hint: the numbers of the cabins are even on the left side and uneven on the right.
You’ve found your room, keycard inserted in the lock, quick blink of green light and you are now entering…your cell 9×6 ft big (or small). If it wasn’t for your plans to have a good time outside the cabin you could have taken one of the deluxe cabins. But you shouldn’t waste your time on deliberations like these. you had better take a shower and change before the Hawaiian Aloha Party begins. It is not until 11:30 pm so you have enough time to visit the tax-free shops and go crazy with perfumes and alcohol. You can try out a few various fragrances on your skin and be back to buy the one you like in the morning.
11:00pm the engines start and the ferry slowly leaves the harbour of Swinoujscie. Another message from the speakers informs you about the show that is starting right now. You hurry through the reception, the A la carte restaurant, the Cocktail Bar and the Casino to the Disco Bar where two bartenders are standing behind a silver bar table in the middle of the dance floor, ready to impress you with their skills. The DJ introduces them to the public gathered around and plays the music that goes to every single limb of your body.
The strong bass beat makes you tap the rhythm with your foot and clap your hands whilst silver shakers and bottles are launched in the air. During this impressive juggle they are mixing different fluids and creating cocktails to enjoy for those who cheer them the most. Three, four…six bottles in the air, a glass full of ice on the forehead, still juggling and then pouring the mixture into the glass…amazing! At the end the rainbow cocktails are being poured from five different shakers at once. Doesn’t it look great?
Before you finish your free drink a group of young, pretty female dancers appear on the dance floor. Their costumes hardly cover their bodies and the sexy latin and Hawaiian dances take you to an exotic place. They move their bodies and shake the feathers of their costumes the way you wish you were one of those feathers.
Out of drink? Now you can order one of the Unity Line specialities: Wind of Baltic or Apple Mojito. Both drinks are original recipes of one of the bartenders who two times in a row won the Bacardi Cruise Competition in Miami. The ferries of Unity Line are the only places you can actually taste them.
When the show’s over, the DJ invites all of passengers to have fun on the dance floor. Now it is time to show your moves. Get in the crowd and dance the night away. If you are lucky maybe one of the exotic dancers will ask you to dance with her. Fancy to hear some particular song? No problem, just ask DJ to play it (don’t forget to tip him) and you’ll even get a personal dedication.
Tired of dancing? You can try your luck in the Cherry Casino next door. Twenty five slot machines and the Black Jack table are for your disposal. It won’t cost you a fortune to play some cards. Besides if you’ve bought a Black Jack drink before now you can use the chips you got with it and bet one time for free. If you enjoy it you can keep playing, if not…well, at least you didn’t spend any money on it.
Time flies when you are having a good time, so before you know it, it is 3am, not much time to sleep before the ship arrives to Ystad. If you are not too drunk you can ask in the reception for the possibility of seeing the bridge and watching the officers work at night. The view from there is very impressive.
One call to the bridge and now the receptionist is calling the security over the radio, one of them will show you the way to the deck ten on the prow where the bridge is. You follow a guy in white shirt and a tie, up to the deck ten. You both enter a small room between the staircase and the bridge and he calls over the videophone. Suddenly the light in the room goes off! No worries it works like this, when somebody opens the door to the bridge the light in the room goes off so it doesn’t blind the crew who must work in absolute darkness. They have to be able to notice every little thing floating on the sea and read the radars all the time. The third officer Lukas greets you and offers a cup of coffee. Since you are not going to sleep anyway, you accept it. While drinking the hot beverage you get a brief instructions on how to read the radars. It is all just red, yellow and green dots to you, but it is still cool to see it. You don’t want to disturb the officers too much so you take your coffee and sit on the sofa at the table right by the big window in front of the bridge. You may now enjoy the view, the full moon, clearly visible sea and don’t forget that the further to North the sooner the sun rises. It’s so quiet you could almost hear the waves splashing on the prow.
The night is almost over and you can catch the sight of the Swedish coast on the horizon. You have to get off the bridge before the maneuvers start.
At 5:30am the breakfast is being served at the restaurant in form of fresh and tasty buffet. One more coffee while you can enjoy the view of the Ystad harbour bathed in first rays of sun. The weather is perfect to embark upon your Swedish adventure starting here in Ystad… the city of sweet little charms.