The trip with the Icebreaker Sampo was a somewhat life-changing experience for me. Up in Kemi you can take the absolutely unique opportunity and go on an icy adventure with the retired vessel. Break the ice. And jump in it.

Distance and time from Helsinki: Kemi is a bit over 700km from Helsinki, but quickly reachable by plane in 1.5 hours. By car from Rovaniemi (eg. from Sixt) it takes about 2 hours depending on the weather – but idyllic and peaceful so worth considering.

What to know about booking your trip with Sampo: Well, there should be ice. This depends on the winter – but you’re pretty safe to go from mid-January til late March. Two days give you a good round-up of the main attractions of the City of Kemi – but the region requires a week, and is certainly worth it!

Price and Booking: Sampo is a once-in-a-lifetime-experience. Four hours cruise start from 275€.

Sampo was built in the early 60s and on duty within the second largest fleet of icebreakers until he retired in the mid-80s. in 1987 he was bought by the city of Kemi, whose very visionary mayor at the time had the idea to rebuild him into a passenger’s vessel to give curious travelers the opportunity to witness his work. The cruise takes four hours and goes three times a day, departure is from the Port of Ajo, about 20 minute drive out of the city of Kemi.

Icebreakers are shaped differently, they are rounder. For a reason: unlike you might think, icebreakers do not forcefully “split” open the ice, but they “slide” on top of the ice shield and crush it down with their immense weight. Sampo weighs a light 5500 tons (with full tanks), so he can break the ice that can get up to 1,10m thick in deep winters! Because icebreakers have to be able to maneuver back and forth, they were amongst the first ships to be equipped with electric motors. On a tour of the ship, including a visit to the bridge and the engine room, you’ll get the chance to greet the captain and see the machines behind the force of Sampo!

Ever felt like a dip in the frozen sea? Relax in the icy water? No? Well, Sampo might change this. All zipped up in thick neoprene suits, travelers can go for a swim – and you’ll be warm and cozy. I never thought I’d be casually swimming about an ice sheet. Everyone on board has the chance to try it – lucky for us – because the feeling is absolutely amazing.

2 Comments

  • “We are sailing to the Northland,
    There to gain the magic Sampo,
    There to get the lid in colors,
    From the stone-berg of Pohyola,
    From the copper-bearing mountain.”
    (Kalevala)

    Love love love especially the last photo!

  • Amazing! I loved seeing the big icebreakers in Helsinki, but the Sampo is just so iconic! I’d love to do this, and the floating around in those red suits looks like so much fun! I really need to go and explore the north of Finland 😉

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