Steamboats in Finland – cruises and charter

Fancy a steamboat ride in Finland? There are numerous possibilities for foreign visitors—and locals alike—to experience a silent steamboat tour on the Finnish lakes or at sea. Here you can find a comprehensive list of the steamboats in Finland available for commercial cruises.

You can visit extraordinary places by chartering a steamer.

You can visit interesting places by chartering a steamer.

At the moment there are about 80–90 functional steamboats in Finland. The greater bulk of these steamers are owned by individuals or associations and are mainly used for leisure cruises by the owners. Many of these steamboats can be found on the listing of the Finnish Steam Yacht Association. But even in this age of hurry, there are still companies and associations that operate steamboats for tourism purposes during the summer season (June-August, some companies from May to September/October).

The geographical distribution of the Finnish (commercial) steamboat fleet is a bit uneven. The Finnish Archipelago has only one steam-powered vessels for commercial use, and most steamboats are located in the Finnish Lakeland, mainly Lake Saimaa, Lake Päijänne and Lake Näsijärvi. The most northern place to experience ‘steam magic’ is Lake Oulujärvi, about 550 km north of Helsinki.

Steamboat Punkaharju on a scenic cruise near Savonlinna. Photo by Tuomas Hinkkanen.

Steamboat Punkaharju on a scenic cruise near Savonlinna. Photo by Tuomas Hinkkanen.

Map of steamboat cruises and charter in Finland

Filter by

Map legend: A passenger steamboat: Passenger steamship A steam tug or a cargo steamer in passenger transport: Steam tug
Map information updated: April, 2021. Kindly report any problems that you detect using the Sail in Finland contact page.

Steamboats in the Finnish Archipelago

The only commercial steamboat in the Finnish Archipelago is located in Turku. In all the other seaside towns, the age of commercial steamboat traffic has come to an end some decades ago. There are privately owned steamers on the sea area, but unfortunately these are not available for charter. However, the steam tug Turso offers cruises in Helsinki for the members of the association supporting the old tug boat. (And it’s always possible to join the association!)

Steamboat (year)   

Home port

Capacity
(pax)

Scheduled (S)
charter (C)

Web page

Notes

Ukkopekka (1938) Turku 199 S+C ukkopekka.fi                   Scheduled route between Turku and Naantali and evening cruises on summers seasons (May/Jun–Aug). Also available for charter purposes.
Table updated: Apr 24, 2021.

Steamboats on the Finnish lakes

The commercial steamboat traffic is concentrated around the three main lakes: Lake Saimaa, Lake Päijänne and Lake Näsijärvi. But there are steamboat cruises and charter available on other lakes, too.

Steamboat (year)

Home port

Capacity
(pax)

Scheduled (S)
charter (C)

Web page

Notes

Lake Saimaa
Punkaharju (1905) Savonlinna  75 S+C vipcruise.info Scheduled sightseeing tours on a daily basis during the summer season
Saaristo (1911) Savonlinna 99 S+C Scheduled sightseeing cruises on a daily basis during the summer season (June–August).
Paul Wahl (1919) Savonlinna 99 S+C After a major renovation in 2020, Paul Wahl is now marketed as a luxury steamboat taking small groups to the lake Saimaa. Offers luxury accommodation at the port, too.
Savonlinna (1904) Savonlinna 99  C This museum steamboat is owned by city of Savonlinna but operated by the “Vip Cruise” company. Advance booking is necessary. Heated by wood.
Mikko (1914) Savonlinna 99 C + S Riihisaari – Savonlinna Museum
World’s only tar steamer operated by the local museum offers sightseeing cruises on special events in Savonlinna. Chartering is also possible. Heated by wood.
Wenno (1907) Puumala 99 C + S Visit Puumala
Charter cruises and small-scale scheduled cruises at Puumala. A former cargo steamer and heated by wood.
 Ahti (1892) Lappeenranta 12 C s/s Ahti association
(In Finnish only)
Charter cruises from Lappeenranta. Heated by wood.
Lake Näsijärvi
Tarjanne  (1908) Tampere 115 S + C tarjannelaiva.fi The last Finnish steamboat on its original long (66 nm) route, “The Poet’s Way” – a rarity. Good options also for one day cruises with a steamboat+bus combination.
Näsijärvi II (1929) Tampere 12 C nasijarvi2.fi A steam tug operated by a voluntary crew. Advance booking is necessary, but there are cruise packages to choose from. Heated by wood.
Kotvio II (1884) Vilppula 60 C vilppulanveneilijat.fi
(in Finnish only)
A steam tug. Advance booking is necessary.
Lake Päijänne
Suomi  (1906)  Jyväskylä  199  S + C paijanne-risteilythilden.fi Local cruises from Jyväskylä and charter as well.
Lake Oulujärvi
Kouta  (1920)  Kajaani  60  S + C oulujarviristeilyt.fi
(in Finnish only)
The most northern commercial steamer in Finland. Heated by wood.
Table updated: April 24, 2021.

A few words about steamboat charter and some on the scheduled traffic, too

The important factor to be considered by an occasional steamboat tourist is the ‘modus operandi’ of the steamer: does it offer scheduled cruises (evening cruises, route with timetables etc.) or is it only available for charter? In the first case, it is rather easy to check out the timetables and hop on, but if the steamer is available on charter purposes only, it takes a little bit more of advance planning. Of course, most of the steamers in scheduled traffic can be chartered as well. And the definition of “charter” in this case is mainly day charter, but longer charter periods are possible, too. Chartering a steamboat is an easy option as the crew is always included in the deal due to the specific regulations concerning steam boilers and engines. Of course, this means that bareboat chartering is not an option here.

Heating boiler with wood

Some of the steamboats in Finland are still heated in the most traditional way using wood.

Steamboat charter

The steamboat charter is mainly conducted as a day charter. But if you have a longer period in mind, it is always worth asking the shipowners if it would be possible to head on the lake/sea for a weekend or even for a week—it is definitely an unforgettable experience! One specialty on steamboat charter is that the ship needs to be prepared for a cruise by heating the steam boiler in advance (1-2 days) and this makes it more expensive than just turning the ignition key on a motor vessel. But when the steam is ‘up’, the companies would normally like to make most of it.

The major part of the customers for steamboats in charter use are companies or associations that are organising events for their own personnel or customers. Of course, there are also ordinary people that would like to charter a steamboat in order to celebrate birthdays, bachelor parties etc.  In this sense, the steamboat charter is not that different from the other day charter business.

Evening cruises can offer spectacular views.

Evening cruises can offer spectacular views.

In the most cases, you can also have catering services aboard or—if the steamer is equipped with a licensed restaurant—use the restaurant services available. You can ask for more information from the steamboat companies organising day charter, they will be happy to help you with the details. And please do not feel intimated if the websites are only in Finnish (as can be the case especially among the smaller companies or the associations providing cruises), contacting people in English is totally acceptable.

In the steamsboat charter, there is (normally) the possibility for the customers to learn about—and even participate in (on wood-heated steamers)—the heating of the steam boiler and see how the engine is operated by visiting the engine room.  Also learning about the navigation and especially about the bridge/engine room communication by a telegraph or a voice pipe is definitely something to look for.  All this kind of special program is worth asking for when you are thinking of chartering a steamboat in Finland.

"Fuel" waiting to be taken into a wood heated steamboat - want to try?

“Fuel” waiting to be taken into a wood heated steamboat – want to try?

Perhaps one of the existing differences compared to sail/power boat charter business is that some of the steamers listed above (e.g. Näsijärvi II) are operated and maintained by a group of voluntary workers trying to preserve the tradition and collect funds for the steamboats. This voluntary work also means that these people are not working 24/7 on the chartering business, so the contact times can be a bit longer than for normal commercial companies.

Scheduled traffic

Steamboats in scheduled traffic can be divided on two main categories: those with a more or less fixed route and those with sightseeing or dinner/lunch cruises—well, there is a route on these cruises, too, but it starts and ends in the same place. Nowadays there are only two steamboats on a fixed route: Tarjanne (Tampere-Virrat-Tampere) and Ukkopekka (Turku-Naantali-Turku) and both of these steamers are doing evening cruises as well. Nevertheless, it is quite an experience to hop on aboard steamboat Tarjanne and travel all day through the Finnish lakeland in much the same way as people did 100 years ago.

Of course, if you are short of time, then a sightseeing cruise is an easy option to get familiar with the steamboat ‘magic’. Every steamer has its own specialities: Vip Cruise company in Savonlinna offers daily “scenic cruises” (with steamboats Punkaharju and Saaristo) which last 1h30m and offer great views on lake Saimaa and Olavinlinna Castle. Steamboat Suomi has the biggest passenger capacity of steamers in the lake area, and with Kouta you can steam yourself to the northern Lake Oulujärvi. Below is a short video of a scenic cruise aboard steamboat Punkaharju (at Savonlinna) to offer a glimpse of the steamboat mood.

On a scheduled cruises—like charter—you can also ask if it would be possible to pay a visit in the engine room. It is always worth it, if it is possible. The availability of such a visit depends a bit on a route of the boat and how much the chief engineer has something to do down there. But in most cases, this should succeed.

Do you operate a commercial steamboat in Finland?

If you own a steamboat in Finland that we have missed and would like to see it listed here on Sail in Finland, contact us via the site’s contact page.

Page author: Mikko Manka, last update: April, 2021.