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Tallink to test Helsinki-Riga cruise route

Shipping company Tallink will try out a new cruise line route between Helsinki and Riga, Latvia this weekend. If the route appears to be viable, the company is considering adding it to its regular summer schedule.

Riga, Latvia – the next Tallinn for Finnish sightseers and alcohol tourists? Image: Mira Viitasalo

Nordic cruise line firm Tallink will carry out a trial passenger cruise between Helsinki and Latvian capital Riga on Sunday. The ship will embark from Helsinki in the afternoon and return two days later. The ship will dock in Riga for a total of eight hours.

Tallink marketing chief Margus Hunt says his company will use ticket sales to determine whether the route could become a viable summertime route, similar to cruises to and from the Swedish island of Visby.

Hunt says that the trial is being conducted due to requests from the public. However, at this point, a year-round route is not in the cards, he says, and an option for passengers to continue their trip over land via car will not be available.

Estonian alcohol tax hikes

Increases of Estonian alcohol taxes have prompted proposals for a Helsinki-Riga route for a while now.

As Estonian alcohol taxes go up - as they are gradually set to do until the year 2020, some Finnish tourists - and reportedly many Estonians -  seeking cheap alcohol have already started visiting neighbouring Latvia by car (from Estonia) to do their booze shopping, instead.

Late last year Tallink responded to the speculations by saying that a route between Helsinki and Riga is not being considered, saying that changes in the market should always be followed closely.