A Friday night party cruise to Mariehamn on Viking Line's MS Cinderella in July. Frankly, my expectations were low - after all, the cruise cost a lot less than a hotel room in Stockholm. Happily, Cinderella confounded my scepticism. I had a really wonderful experience onboard.
The above image shows two other cruise ships in Stockholm - The World, anchored in Stockholms Strom, and Birka Paradise. Although the former is a residential cruise ship for the super-rich and the latter is a 22-hour party cruiser, in appearance, they are strikingly similar.
Viking Line's terminal.
Cinderella arrives and meanwhile so do a vast fleet of coaches, bringing Swedes of all shapes, sizes and ages from the provinces for 22 hours of fun and relaxation onboard.
Birka Paradise leaves for Visby and Bornholm:
The lovely old archipelago steamers Storskar and Blidosund set off on their evening sailings:
While Mariella leaves for Helsinki:
A big crowd of Cinderella passengers wait in the terminal:
Shining up the ship's name:
My cabin - immaculately ship-shape:
One of Cinderella's more remarkable features is her three-level nightclub. Such places never look good in daylight, though:
The entrance hall:
The remarkable Art Nouveau-themed a la carte restaurant, originally called 'La Belle Epoque':
The 'Guimard' room adjacent: this takes its name from the famous Parisian Metro station architect. It's fascinating to see the 1900s filtered through the vision of a 1980s cruise ship interior architect (Robert Tillberg).
The Viking Buffet:
Out on deck, the weather was Mediterranean-like - and the bar came to the passengers:
Norrskar leaves Stockholm:
...and passes Aida Sol:
Enjoying the sunshine as we pull away from the berth:
Amorella inbound from Turku:
St Peter Line's Princess Anastasia:
Details of some of Cinderella's passengers' attire:
Altogether, my fellow passengers were an extremely diverse bunch - and included quite a large number of 'New Swedes' from Iraq, Iran, Palestine and elsewhere. One got a sense of Sweden being a very progressive, tolerant and well-integrated society and Cinderella provided a very wide choice of dining, shopping and entertainment to suit all tastes.
Passing through the narrows at Oxdjupet:
Time for dinner, which began with marinaded herrings:
Then fresh strawberries - a Viking line speciality, matching the company livery:
(Dinner was excellent, incidentally)
The nightclub in full swing with a lively Swedish dance band:
The urinal bowls have advertisements so that male customers can contemplate their next drink while excreting the last one:
In the cafeteria, there was a duo playing traditional ballroom dancing tunes for the older passengers to dance to:
Out on deck just after sunset:
Meanwhile, in the nightclub:
The next morning, all was quiet:
After breakfast, all was still quiet:
Passing Silja Europa off Kapellskar:
On our way into Stockholm, we passed Emerald Princess:
...whose passengers lined the railing to admire. No wonder - Cinderella is a very 'trevlig fartyg' indeed.