28 May 2003 - Somewhere in the Baltic
EURail Passes and the Great Helsini-Stockholm Ferry Scam

There are two ferry lines serving the Helsinki-Stockholm route. The Silja line is the more expensive, the nicer one, and the one that clearly gives me a free passage if I use up a day on my EURail pass. Unfortunately, the computer system could not handle a cabin with one EURail passenger and one normal passenger, and so they couldn't offer my mum and me the lowest price possible (about EUR90 ~ RM360 or so).

The Viking line has no such arrangement with EURail to validate passes, but they don't want to be left behind, so they've arranged an offer that says EURail passes get a free journey if they can produce a rail ticket. This, depending on how you read it, results in a way of getting very cheap ferry tickets.

Let me take a little time explaining EURail passes. They are these magic passes that allow you unlimited travel on European rail for a certain period of time in certain countries. For example, you can buy a pass that allows you to travel for 30 days in Europe. Or a pass that you can use for five journeys in Finland, Sweden and Denmark.

You can get one for USD249 for five days worth of travel in three countries within two months, if you are under 26. (If you're interested, mine is the 'ten days worth of travel in all of Europe within two months and I'm not under 26' which costs a whopping USD694.)

The ticket must be used within six months of you buying it, and within two months of the first journey. Before you begin the first train ride/ferry ride, you must get a railway offifcer to validate it. This means that the ticket is now 'live' and will expire within two months.

Now, I think that what Viking mean is that if you have used the EURail pass on the day that you are getting on board the ferry (i.e. it is stamped for that day), you can travel on the ferry for free. Note that 'free' means 'without a cabin', so that is an extra EUR48 if you want a cabin for yourself.

However, the people at the Viking counter didn't really know too much about EURail passes, so when I showed them an unvalidated pass (i.e. it had never been used before and no railway officer had put a stamp on it), they just gave me a free passage. Incredible.

If they're consistent with this, it means that if you're under 26, you can get six months of travel on the Viking ferries for USD249. If you travelled nine times back and forth between Stockholm and Helsinki, you would have already covered the cost of your ticket.

Of course, I'm not going to do that, but it's an idea. But, let me point out one more thing. Although they print your name on the ticket, not once on the journey between Helsinki and Stockholm did they check whether we were the same people as on our tickets. So, these tickets are 'transferable' if you don't get caught. I suppose I could have made some money selling free ferry passes.


posted on Friday, May 30, 2003 - permalink
Comments: Post a Comment