signage over the spirit of tasmania two

Travelling on the Spirit of Tasmania with Kids

While there are several ways to visit picturesque Tasmania, perhaps the most adventurous and memorable experience is travelling across the seas on the iconic Spirit of Tasmania. Yes, it may be quicker to fly, but where is the fun in that? Also, taking your own car and/or caravan onboard has many advantages.

As with any holiday, preparation is the key to enjoying your voyage across Bass Strait! This is even more important when travelling with children.

Buying Spirit of Tasmania Tickets

the spirit of tasmania boat
The magnificent Spirit of Tasmania

Before booking your tickets for the Spirit of Tasmania you need to decide what sort of sailing you would like to do – a day sail or night sail. During the Winter months, day sails are not always an option, but during the busier months, both options are available. Day sails leave between 6.30am and 10.30am, while night sails leave between 6.45pm and 11.30pm. Checking the website will give you exact times and sailing information for the dates you are looking at. The trip generally takes between 9 -11 hours, so keep this in mind when making your decision.

If travelling with children, many prefer the night sail, so the kids can sleep most of the way. If you do a day sail, you will need to entertain the children, with limited resources, for a long time, and potentially while you, or they, are feeling sick. Not something any adult would be thrilled about.

You will also need to decide whether to book a private cabin. Most families opt to book a cabin, especially for night sails, as it gives you your own private space, toilet, shower and somewhere for everyone to sleep comfortably. If you are travelling with an infant, your cabin will come with a cot, though you will need to provide your own linen for the cot (other beds will have linen supplied).


Due to space constraints, if you are utilising a cot, it is better to book an inside cabin, rather than a porthole cabin.

With ticketing, a child ticket on the Spirit of Tasmania, is for those aged 3-15 years old, while infants are considered those under the age of 3. Infants travel free, but you must include them in your booking.

Like most things, try booking your ticket as early as possible to get the best rate. You also need to be mindful that visiting Tasmania can be very popular in peak travel times. It’s best to secure your booking early to travel on your preferred day. Every year there are reports of visitors not booking their return trip and being stuck in Tasmania for weeks (I could think of worse places to be stranded).


There are discounts to be had when booking Spirit of Tasmania tickets, so check around. Discounts can often be found via Big4 Holiday Perks+, motoring associations, or by signing up to the Spirit of Tasmania newsletter.

What to Pack

Once you drive onto the Spirit of Tasmania and leave your vehicle, the vehicle decks are closed off to passengers, so it’s really important you have everything you need for your journey packed and ready to go before you board.

Space is limited in the cabins, and even more so if have booked a recliner, so keep your luggage compact and simple. A small backpack for each family member works well, as it leaves your hands free to hold onto little ones, railings etc

When you are travelling from Victoria to Tasmania, the rules on what you can bring into the state are quite strict including most fish, fresh fruit and veggies. Be sure to carefully check the Spirit of Tasmania website for regulations to avoid disappointment.

A few items you may consider packing to take on board are:

  • Panadol (for adults and children)
  • Comfort items for children e.g. teddies, dummies
  • Nappies, pull-ups and baby wipes
  • A change of clothes for in case of accidents or vomiting
  • Small books or games to amuse children
  • Snack foods
  • Water bottles

On Board the Spirit of Tasmania

cabin on the spirit of tasmania
Our sleeping quarters

If it’s your first time on the Spirit of Tasmania, there is no doubt the children will be excited. Once you board, if you booked a cabin, the best thing to do is take your bags straight to your room then go explore the ship.

Moving between decks can be done via stairwells or lifts, though if swells are big, access to lifts may be restricted. If you are travelling with infants, you can take a small pram on board, though space is tight in the cabins, and if you do a night sail the baby should be asleep most of the time. Instead, consider bringing a baby carrier, so your hands are free to steady yourself as you move about the ship (it also takes up much less space than a pram).

Deck Seven is where all the action happens. On this deck you will find the reception desk, Tourism Hub, food outlets, reading room and sitting areas. There are other seating areas throughout the ship, but this is where most people congregate.

The cinemas are also on Deck 7. There are two cinema’s which generally show an adult and family-friendly movie each sailing. Tickets for movies are usually about $10 for adults and $5 for children and can be purchased from The Pantry when you board. During the peak travel season tickets sell out fast, so if it is something you really want to do, book your tickets as soon as you board.

Younger children will enjoy expelling some energy in the small soft play area located on Deck 10, though it is not a huge area and is mainly suited to those under 6 years of age. TV’s are conveniently located beside this area, so if your child is after a quieter activity they can plonk down and chill. This area can get quite busy, especially for the first few hours after boarding, so factor this in if your child doesn’t like crowds.

The soft play area is perfect for younger kids

Also up on Deck 10, is an area with a couple of gaming consoles, with pre-programmed games ready for the older children to play. Additionally, there is also an arcade games area on Deck 9.

The arcade area is another chance for the kids to decompress

For your comfort, throughout the ship there are several designated toilets with baby change tables in them and specialist bins to dispose of nappies in, so look for these when you board the ship.

NB. At the time of writing, both ships, Spirit of Tasmania I and II have the same layout. Though new ships are expected to be launched in 2024.

Seas Sickness

Any time you sail the high seas there is a chance someone in your family will experience motion sickness. You may already have your go-to solution, but if you don’t it is worth investigating your options before you board.  The age of your family members and what they prefer/tolerate will differ, so discuss options with your health care provider.

Popular motion sickness solutions include:

  • Ginger lollies
  • Anti-nausea acupressure wrist bands
  • Salty chips
  • Antihistamines
  • Anti-emetics

Remember many treatments are best taken or applied before sickness begins, so read instructions carefully to optimise their effectiveness.

Paper emesis (vomit) bags are available on board, but if you have a family member who vomits regularly you may prefer the specialised emesis bags which can be purchased from your local pharmacy.


An announcement is usually made if bad weather/big waves are expected during sailing, but if not ask a staff member. If you think you or family members may experience motion sickness, try and make sure they are asleep before the bad weather hits.

Food Options

Seating area on Spirit of Tasmania

Whilst there are a few food options on board the Spirit of Tasmania, it is recommended you bring some snacks on board.

Children are notorious for being fussy eaters, so if your child will only eat a certain brand of muesli bars or must have their water from their favourite drink bottle, it’s recommended you bring these items on board. There is no fridge in the cabins and certain foods are restricted on board and when you arrive in Tasmania, so make sure you check the Spirit of Tasmania website for details.

There are a couple of food outlets on the ship where you can purchase meals and snacks from. A buffet breakfast is usually offered (for an additional fee) as well as snacks, pizzas and ice cream at other times. Tea, coffee and alcoholic drinks can also be purchased.

A water station, supplying cold and ambient filtered water is located on Deck 7. Bring your own water bottle to fill up, or use the plastic cups supplied to keep yourself, and the rest of family hydrated throughout the journey.          

Disembarking the Spirit of Tasmania

If you are doing a night sail, there will be a ‘wake-up’ call over the loudspeaker 45min before departure, though you may wish to set your own alarm if you take longer to get ready. You don’t want to be running late to get to your vehicle as you could be stopping other vehicles from disembarking.

For night sails, to make things run smoother in the morning, pack your belongings the night before and have breakfast snacks ready and clothes laid out. You may even wish to pop the kids into the car in their pj’s to save time.

When you arrive in either Devonport or Melbourne make sure you have a plan on where you are going, how you are getting there and what you are going to do. You may be feeling tired or unwell after your trip, so don’t try and cram too much into the day you arrive.

Whether it’s a one-way trip or a return journey, travelling on the Spirit of Tasmania is most definitely a memorable way to traverse Bass Strait, and something everyone should aim to complete at least once in their life when visiting the beautiful state of Tasmania.

NB – In October 2022, the Spirit of Tasmania terminal moved from Station Pier, Port Melbourne to the new Spirit of Tasmania Quay in Geelong.

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Meaghan Brightwell

Meaghan is an AFOL (adult fan of LEGO), intrepid traveller, and has a real knack for hunting down new and exciting playgrounds. In her past life Meaghan worked closely with families as a nurse and vacation care co-ordinator but can now be found awkwardly scaling play equipment with her two kids, enjoying a leisurely walk or reading a book.

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