There is a neat opportunity to get heavily discounted ferry transportation from Sweden to Poland – if you know where to look. If you like to collect random budget travel tips just in case they might come in handy someday, read on to learn how to find this interesting bargain.
A year ago I took a trip to Gdansk and Torun in Poland. As usual, leading up to the trip I was scouring internet forums and trip reports to find as many tips and recommendations I could find that might be useful. I came across this ferry deal explained by a Swedish TripAdvisor member on the Gdansk forum.
Ferry Crossing From Karlskrona, Sweden to Gdynia, Poland
This special fare is only bookable on the Swedish language Stena Line website so you’ll need to use Google Translate or similar if you’re not fluent in Swedish. I did not see any stipulation that the deal is only available to Swedish residents so I assume it’s fair game for anyone.
Here’s the description from the website:
Åk på en 36-timmarskryss till Polen och njut av två kvällar ombord och en heldag iland. Upplev Polens spännande restauranger och shopping. Allt till riktigt bra priser. Väljer du en 24-timmarskryss åker du hem med vändande båt och kan njuta av timmarna till havs. På vägen kan du koppla av i Pure Nordic Spa, äta gott, dansa och umgås med vänner. Passa på att fynda i Bordershop ombord – upp till 60% billigare än i Sverige.
Go on a 36-hour cruise to Poland and enjoy two nights on board and a full day ashore. Experience Poland’s exciting restaurants and shopping. All at really good prices. If you choose a 24-hour cruise, you go home by turning boat and can enjoy the hours at sea. On the way you can relax in the Pure Nordic Spa, eat well, dance and hang out with friends. Take the opportunity to find Bordershop on board – up to 60% cheaper than in Sweden.
The “Polenkryss” is apparently designed to be a shopping opportunity for Swedes to benefit from lower prices both in Poland and on board the ship.
For tourists, the idea is to book the crossing as a 24 or 36 hour round trip, but use it as a one-way from Karlskrona to Gdynia.
You can choose between a morning or evening departure. The price is the same so you might as well do the overnight crossing to take advantage of the included accommodation which is a Comfort Plus 2-bed inside cabin. You can upgrade to a sea view or a larger/nicer cabin for an extra charge.
Note that the same low prices do not appear when booking the trip in the opposite direction, from Poland to Sweden.
To book this you need to go to the Polenkryss page on the Stena Line’s Swedish language website.
1 Vuxen = 1 Adult
Inget fordon = No vehicle
The fare varies by month and day of the week. There is a calendar display so you can easily spot the lowest options. It’s extremely cheap in the winter months but even in the summer it’s a super deal.
For example, here are the range of fares in April 2021. They go as low as 198 kr or $29 CAD.
Using a relatively last minute date of September 30, 2020 for a comparison, the price on the Swedish site is 398 kr or about $58 CAD.
The cabin is included in the price and for an extra charge you can select the specific one or add a late check-out.
Now let’s try Karlskrona to Gdynia on the English language website:
Booking a one-way trip, the fare without a cabin is 35 Euro or about $54 CAD.
If you want to add the same cabin as in the Polenkryss booking, it’s an extra 74 Euro or about $115 CAD:
So the total comes to 109 Euro or about $170 CAD.
For two people sharing the cabin, you would need to add another 35 Euro to bring it to 144 Euro or about $224 CAD.
Even Better Bargain For Two Passengers
Here’s something that makes the deal yet more amazing. Not only does the Swedish fare include a cabin, but the fare is the same for two passengers as it is for one. So, it’s a difference between $58 booking in Swedish and $224 in English for the example shown above.
In addition to paying to upgrade and/or choose your exact cabin and secure a late check-out, you can also pre-purchase snacks and drinks for the cabin, restaurant meals or wifi with either type of booking.
Scandinavia and Poland
If you look at a map you’ll see that Karlskrona, Sweden is closer to Copenhagen than to Stockholm. By train it’s 3.5 hours to the Danish capital and 5-6 hours to the Swedish one. In either case, the trains are excellent and a great way to travel around Scandinavia if you’re not interested in renting a car.
I’d assume that anyone incorporating this ferry journey into their trip would be spending some time in either Denmark, Sweden or both. Karlskrona itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there are a plethora of other interesting places to visit in southern Sweden.
Stockholm and Copenhagen are wonderful but expensive destinations. Combining one or both with some time in more budget-friendly Poland is a good strategy for a frugal traveller.
One convenient method of saving money on accommodation in Scandinavia is to use the sweet spots of the Choice Privileges loyalty program. If you don’t have any Choice points currently, keep an eye out for a sale (usually a 30% discount or a 40% bonus) so you can pick up some points cheaply. Even when buying the points, you’ll still come out ahead when you consider the typical cash rates at most Choice hotels in the 8,000 – 16,000 redemption range in Sweden. A well regarded option in Stockholm is the Clarion Hotel Sign. It’s in a great location and includes a full breakfast. At 10,000 points per night it’s a super deal.
Clarion Collection hotels have the added bonus of not only including a full breakfast in the stay, but an evening meal as well! Note that the regular Clarion hotels don’t include dinner – it’s just the “Collection” properties in Scandinavia that do, as far as I’m aware.
Once you’re across the Baltic Sea in northern Poland, enjoy a few days in historic Gdansk, very near to the port city of Gdynia where you arrive by ferry. Visit the incredible Museum of the Second World War, the European Solidarity Centre and take a day trip to coastal Sopot or impressive Malbork Castle. If you enjoy travelling in Europe, you’ll like Poland and you’ll definitely love Gdansk.
Fortunately, finding hotel accommodation in Poland is less of a challenge than in Scandinavia. There is a wide assortment of high standard, reasonably priced lodging. You can also find good deals on points. Last year we stayed at a brand new Holiday Inn walking distance to many points of interest in the city. On the topic of food, if you steer clear of pricier table service dining in the first part of your trip, you can now broaden your options to choose among lots of affordable restaurants in Gdansk.
If you decide to expand your trip to include more of Poland, the high speed trains are very comfortable and fares are low, making first class seats quite reasonable if you book discount tickets in advance. Besides Gdansk, I only have experience visiting Torun, Warsaw and Krakow but I very highly recommend each of them, especially Krakow. Someday I hope to get to other Polish cities such as Wroclaw and Poznan.
I’m not the biggest fan of overnight ferries but this Karlskrona – Gdynia crossing is a fantastic deal. It makes me want to take a trip there just to capitalize on it. I’d love to go to Poland after spending a bit of time in southern Sweden.
Even if this is not something you’ll likely ever take advantage of, it’s at least a reminder to be on the lookout for interesting angles to save money on future trips.