International ferries travel from Helsinki to Stockholm and Tallinn, and since 2010 to St Pertersburg. The ferries are a very popular way to arrive into or depart from Helsinki. The terminals are close to the centre of the city, a short drive from hotels. We travelled from Tallinn on one occasion and could almost have walked to our hotel. There are currently only two ferry operators and we have only had experience with one so cannot compare the services.
The well-publicised SuperSeaCat service which was established in July 2006, and delivered a high speed ferry service between Helsinki in Finland and Tallinn in Estonia ceased operations in 2008 due to lack of funding and increased competition on their route.
Viking Line is a Finnish operator. Aboard the ships between Helsinki and Stockholm you can enjoy a wide variety of entertainment and facilities including quality restaurants, live entertainers, dance floors, bars, lounges, shops, relaxing saunas, swimming pools and a number of other spa facilities. There is a variety of quality cabins to choose from, ranging from a single cabin to a four-berth family cabin, or from a De Luxe cabin to a spacious suite. All cabins have a toilet, shower, radio and air conditioning.
The ships between Helsinki and Tallin are not quite so spacious and they have fewer facilities because the trip is so short. They still have restaurants and lounges and there are some cabins. Viking Lines, has 2 boats daily departing Helsinki which arrive in Tallin two hours later. The price is around $25 US one way.
The Estonian Tallink Ferry Company also has daily routes from Helsinki to Tallinn, the lowest price is similar to Viking. There are six daily departures at present and the trip takes about two hours. From Tallin you can take a Eurolines bus to St. Petersburg or a train to Moscow.
On-board prices for duty-free goods appeared to be below onshore prices in Finland. The trendiest scents are on sale in the on-board Perfumes shop. My wife tried out peach, vanilla, rose and lemon. Clothes, sun glasses, bags and scarfs were also available but we were not tempted by these.
Tallink has buffet meals which you can pre-book or pay for on-board ship. Prices are slightly cheaper if you pre-book. Morning buffet is 9.50€/per person if prepaid or 10.5€ on board. The meal buffet at lunch or dinner is 20€/per person if prepaid or 22€ on board. The morning buffet includes water, tea, coffee and soft drinks while the meal buffet also includes wines and beers. The buffet onboard Tallink Star is served in the Food Wave restaurant while onboard Tallink Superstar it is served in the Toscana restaurant.