Cruise lines use Helsinki as a useful staging point on their way to and from St Petersburg but their passengers discover an elegant city, well worth a visit of its own. It is dynamic and modern yet peaceful and civilised.
Cruise ships berth either in the very centre of town or to the west, about 2½ km (1½ miles) away as the crow flies.
Vessels longer than 230 metres (755 feet) or with engine power of less than 22 mW (30 000 hp) can’t reach the city berths because of the narrow strait at Suomenlinna, a sea fortress just off the coast. Rather more than half of the cruise ships calling at Helsinki have to berth to the west.
The central berths are either in the South Harbour (shown as EPL, EKL and EO1 in the online schedule of the Port of Helsinki) or just outside it at Katajanokka (ERA and ERB) . In either case the main sights of central Helsinki are right outside your window and buses are unnecessary for anyone able to walk.Highslide JS
The berths to the west are either at Hernesaari (LHB and LHC) or Melkki Quay (LMA). These two locations are separated from each other by an expanse of water, so Melkki is quite a lot farther from the centre by road.
From Hernesaari it is possible to walk to the centre. From Melkki Quay it is really not worth trying. However, public transport is a viable alternative to the shuttle bus at both locations.
Passengers of ships using Helsinki as a turnaround port (the place where the cruise starts and finishes) have access to cruise terminal buildings.
For the rest, there are limited quay facilities. Ships berthed in the centre are so close to shops, restaurants, ATMs, etc. that this hardly matters.