A Symphony for the Small Ones – Cruises for children

Cruises are an adult thing, or so you thought until you step on board one of Silja Line‘s cruise ships plying the waters between Helsinki and Stockholm. This stretch of the Baltic is a busy one with two operators departing daily from both cities. These are party boats but Silja Line has taken the plunge to focus their attention on families with children. The Symphony has been newly renovated to accommodate this new all-encompassing concept.

DSC02577Silja Land was the brain child of experts, who else but kids and their parents alike, put into workshops with bright design and architecture students from Aalto University. The question under consideration? How can we make this cruise an unforgettable one from your point of view? The answers came flooding in: ice cream parlour, Lego, sea of balls, Play Station, doll’s house, colour everywhere, drawing on the walls, climbing frame, fun places to sit. They asked for ideas, they got them and the result was a whole section of the ferry transformed into a paradise for those young ones. There are no baby sitters, you have to watch your own kids, but there are young, energetic supervisors who keep the older ones from hurting themselves and do a spot of cleaning up when the ice cream drops. There’s also the Moomin-like Harry the friendly seal who wanders about hugging and fooling around. And in the summer months when numbers hit record highs, even the conference centre turns into an additional play area.

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This doesn’t mean that the adults’ playground has disappeared. On the contrary, the Sunflower Oasis is a spa area with several pools to relax in and a sauna and steambath to ease away those aches and pains. Again, kids are welcome in their own pool with their own water slide and waterfall to keep them from getting bored.

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Some changes have been made to the choice of dining on board. A sushi bar has been added with some  innovative sushi. Bon Vivant is still there for the fine diners while Tavolàta is the new cosy Italian restaurant. Shopping has taken on a whole new meaning with their extended Tax Free Superstore and there are corroborated rumours that West End musicals, straight from London, will be shown in the spring of 2015. In the meanwhile there’s an atmospheric jazz band playing on the Promenade and the band and cabaret at midnight if you’re still awake.

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For Finns this cruise is something you just do. It’s popular and relatively inexpensive since the ships call in at the Åland Islands which gives them the right to sell goods at tax-free prices. Deals abound, especially in the low season. Take a break, spend the day in Stockholm, return in the same cabin you had, pamper yourself and come back refreshed.

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