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How We Rode the Stena Line to Gothenburg (Göteborg) on a Whim

Our last minute, surprise trip to Gothenburg, Sweden was a success. This is what happened…

On the very first day of the new year, I dropped my daughter and son-in-law off at the Frankfurt airport. Even though I still had six days until work resumed, it felt like the vacation was over. Jim and I had tried for a couple of months to find some flights to somewhere, anywhere. Nothing seemed right, so we thought, let’s just check the last minute fares when we get to the airport.

That didn’t work. If we had the time to stay at least two weeks, maybe, but really everything was just too expensive. We gave up, paid the parking machine and started heading home. We got as far as the gas station, and we just couldn’t do it. We just couldn’t go home. Six days! I don’t want to sit at home for six days! We sat there and brainstormed, looked at the map, and decided we would drive to Kiel. In Kiel it looked like we could hop a ferry to Gothenburg or Göteborg, Sweden. We’d never been, and we’re always looking at port cities to visit. Some of our favorites have been Malmo, Lubeck, and Copenhagen.

Stena Line ferry to Gothenburg at the dock in Kiel.

After a mere five hour drive up the A7, we reached Kiel and easily found the ferry terminal. We parked, went up, and asked the guy if we could get on the ship. We could. He booked us, the jeep, and our two-berth cabin (two ways) for only 441 Euros; which surprisingly was exactly the same amount the airlines were charging to fly to Stockholm for one person round trip just that very morning. For the price of one air ticket, not only did we get to Sweden, so did our trusty transportation, and two nights accommodation included. Who can pass up a deal like that?

Waiting to board the Stena Line ferry to Gothenburg.

We booked our passage and had about an hour and a half before we had to get in line to board. We figured we would pay a pretty penny if we had to eat dinner and breakfast on board, so we went in search of an open grocery store. On January 1st. A holiday. No German store was open. We did find one gas station open and quickly purchased a couple bottles of water, but we were seriously SOL (out of luck) with buying food. We were going to have to buy dinner on board.

I’m always amazed at how organized and well run ferry systems are. They can load trucks, campers, cars, bikes, dogs, whatever, so quickly and efficiently. I just wanted to hang out on the car deck and watch. It’s fascinating, but they are busy at it, so we grabbed our bag and headed to our cabin, and a darn nice cabin it was, too. we dropped our gear, and went off to explore the ship.

We were sailing on the Scandinavica, and I would say it’s a pretty luxurious ship. We toured the “living room”, a room with tables and chairs and an enclosed Giant TV room with multiple screens. We toured the restaurant and dining area, the wine bar, and the duty free shop. All were gorgeous.

The jeep is in the ferry.

We had to make reservations for dinner. We opted for the seafood buffet (which cost 84 Euro for the two of us). We figured hey, this was the first meal of the new year, let’s live it up. It was a seafood smorgasbord to beat all others. I tried and loved the pickled herring, the six ways to do salmon, the lobster, the mussels, the whitefish, the shrimp…all delicious! The buffet offered all kinds of great food, and we felt we had ushered in the new year just right by eating as much as our extended stomachs and unbuttoned jeans would allow us.

Dinner over we first hung out in the living room using the wifi there while drinking a Carlsberg. Then we headed back to the cabins to watch a little TV and bunk down for the night. Really, is there anything better than going to bed and waking up in a new country. I think not!

In the lounge on the Stena Line ferry from Kiel to Gothenburg.

The sun rises about 9:00 in Göteborg in January, and we watched as the ship pulled into a beautiful port. We were chomping at the bit to get out and explore a little bit of Sweden.


Even though we had no idea where to go, we loved driving north and hopping a last minute ferry to Gothenburg, Sweden. It was cold but the people, food, and amazing views all kept us happy and warm.

If you are interested in booking the Scandinavica or any other ferry, Stena Line would be happy to accommodate you.

Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.