FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Next stop: Mariehamn

Posted in Åland, Mariehamn by folkestonejack on July 2, 2019

One of my travel ambitions as a 12 year old was to visit the Åland Islands, an autonomous region in Finland made up of over 6,700 islands and with a Swedish speaking population of around 30,000. If that seems like a rather peculiar ambition, it has to be said that this came off the back of a trip across Europe to Helsinki that had an enormous influence on me at a very impressionable age!

It has taken a while to get around to this, but our travels around the Baltic this year gave us an opportunity to enjoy a short stay in the capital, Mariehamn, and see a little of the surrounding countryside.

Our ferry from Tallinn to Mariehamn: The Baltic Queen

Ferries from Stockholm to Helsinki, Turku and Tallinn all make a stop in the Åland Islands. The stop was handy for us, but its primary purpose is to allow the ships to take advantage of the special tax status of the islands and offer duty free goods to passengers. Needless to say, all the ships plying this route have massive on-board stores!

Our journey to the Åland Islands began with the 6pm sailing of the Tallink ferry Baltic Queen from Tallinn to Stockholm. It’s a big ship with the capacity to take 2800 passengers. It probably wasn’t at its busiest, but it was by no means quiet. Yet, when we reached Mariehamn at 4.40 in the morning just 5 passengers (including us) walked off!

The view as we approached Mariehamn in the early hours of the morning

The terminal is a very short walk from the city centre so we took this at a leisurely pace and then stored our bags at the hotel, ready for an afternoon check in. Time to explore…


We were a little unclear about some of the detail of our ferry trip, so I hope this is of some use to our fellow travelers…

The Tallink ferries depart from Terminal D in Tallinn. At the time we traveled the terminal was being re-developed, which makes it pretty crowded just before a ferry sailing. In effect, this work means that most of the floor space is closed off until Summer 2020 so it’s not a space you want to arrive too early at.

Boarding for the Stockholm sailing of the Baltic Queen opened at 16.30 (i.e. 90 minutes ahead of departure). The self-service machines were easy enough to use to print our boarding passes which double as cabin passes. Ours never worked in the cabin doors so we had to get them re-printed at the information desk when we were on board. All very easily done.

All the information we had seen in the build up to our trip had stressed that there would be no announcements on board the ship for our arrival at Mariehamn and that it was down to us to be at the disembarkation gate ten minutes before our arrival. In practice, a member of staff knocked on our door and shouted Mariehamn five times!

Once we were up and about we were soon directed towards the door that would be used for disembarkation. Another member of staff was checking off names against a list. I suspect that they would have worked out quite quickly if someone was missing.

Display board in the terminal at Mariehamn

The ship really doesn’t stay very long at that time of night – just ten minutes at most. By the time we had made our way into the terminal building the ship was already heading off to Stockholm.


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