The Sampo, the former icebreaker for the Finnish government, offers a unique cruise experience on the Gulf of Bothnia. The union of the majestic steel, ice and the sea will be unlike anything else you’ve ever experienced.
Come and experience the Sampo in the midst of vast open arctic sea-scenery!
Pictures & videos
Dates outside the Sampo Icebreaker cruise timetable are available for private reservations.
Ask more at our sales office!
* = SPECIAL SCHEDULE on 26.12.2013, 31.12.2013, 31.1.2014 and 7.2.2014: Cruises at 9-13 and 14-18, reservations from sales office.
Warm atmosphere aboard the Sampo
The cozy, atmospheric-rich restaurants, the Captain’s Saloon, Icebreaker bar and the Arctic Restaurant, form the heart of this great steel giant. Enjoying the delicacies and refreshments these saloons offer during the cruise, will be a great pleasure for the visitor. Fortified by good food, coffee/ tea and sweets, you will also be more comfortable enjoying the scenery out on the deck, as well as watch the powers of the arctic sea as the icebreaker moves along.
What would a good cruise experience be without shopping – on the Sampo you can shop souvenirs and gifts for friends and loved ones back at home. The Icebreaker shop is the Sampo’s sea-flavored gift-shop.
At the souvenir shop aboard the Sampo you will find quality products for both adults and children. The selection includes, among others, reindeer skins, local handicrafts, soft toys and postcards.
During the cruise you will be offered a lunch, according to your pre-reserved choice either a soup-lunch or a three-course lunch. There will be two settings for lunch. Your own lunch-time you will know, at the latest, on your arrival on board the ship.
The cruise personnel will give you your personal cruise-timetable as you enter aboard. The Restaurant is fully licensed, and you can satisfy your cravings for sweets and have a cup of coffee/tea either at the Restaurant or at the Bar on the upper deck!
The icebreaker Sampo served in active icebreaking duty from 1961-1987, before its reassignment to its current task in the Port of Ajos in Kemi. Its good quarter of a century of service saw some colorful moments not totally lacking with drama. The decades of the Sampo, all in all, are an important part of the Finnish winter maritime shipping history.
Finland is the only country in the world, where all the ports freeze during the winter. During the coldest periods of normal winters the temperature can drop even below - 30°C. In Finland, the coldest ever measured temperature, -51, 5°C, was recorded in Kittilä’s Pokka in January 1999. Because of its geographical location, Finland’s import and export industries rely very much on maritime transportation, so keeping the winter ports open and operational is essential for international competitiveness.
The Sampo icebreaker was constructed in 1960 at the Wärtsilä shipyard in Helsinki. The vessel was named after its predecessor, constructed in 1898, which served the Finnish government for over half a century. The new Sampo was an essential part in rebuilding the Finnish icebreaking fleet. This rebuilding period took place during the decades after the Second World War.
After a deal made October 14.1987, for one million Finnish Marks, the icebreaker Sampo found a new home in Kemi. The Sampo’s new task in tourism was not totally new to the ship, as during the years it had been used for various occasions. For example, in August 1963, the Sampo served the Ministry of Interior during the Interpol conference, and in 1969 the ship served as one of the hosts for the visitation of the President Senghor of Senegal.
The Sampo Icebreaker as a tourist attraction is a story of its own. The late City Manager of Kemi, Juhani Leino, was a man rich with ideas, and it was his idea to purchase the retired icebreaker from the Finnish government to the city of Kemi. Leino’s idea raised some eyebrows and also some fierce resistance, in those times, but since 1988 the Sampo has been one of the main tourist attractions in Kemi. Eventually, Leino’s initial idea bore another, now famous and ever more important tourist attraction in Kemi, namely, the SnowCastle.
The icebreaker’s season begins a little before Christmas, and lasts for about four months. Every year about 7 500 – 12 000 tourists take a cruise on the Sampo, and over the years people from more than 50 countries have visited the Sampo.
Read more of the history of Sampo here! (pdf 4Mb.)
How do I get to Kemi?
Kemi has good transportation connections from all over the world. You can come to Kemi by train (www.vr.fi), you can fly to Kemi (www.finnair.fi, www.fc.fi) or you can take the bus to reach Kemi (www.matkahuolto.fi). The Kemi Railway Station and the Bust Station are located at the centre of Kemi, in the near vicinity of the Hotels in Kemi. The Kemi-Tornio Air-port is at the distance of 10 km – about 10 minutes by car.
In the following a few travel times:
- Helsinki-Kemi flight time about 1 hour 15 minutes
- Rovaniemi-Kemi (by train/bus/car) about 1 hour 30 minutes.
- Kittilä-Kemi (by bus/car) about 3 hours 30 minutes
- Haparanda/Sweden - Kemi (by bus/car) about 25 minutes
At what time do we need to be at the port on the day of the cruise?
The Sampo is docked at the Port of Ajos, about 11 km south from the centre of Kemi. Adress: Ajoksentie 748, 94900 Kemi. There is no public transportation from Kemi to the Port of Ajos. We arrange bus transportation for every cruise, Kemi-Ajos-Kemi, and you must make reservations for this transfer at the same time as you reserve your cruise.
At what time do we need to be at the port on the day of the cruise?
You are allowed to get on board the ship starting from 11:30am. However, you must be on board the ship at 11:50am at the latest.
Is there a parking place at the port?
Yes, you can park your car right in front of the ship for no extra charge.
What are ”the strategic measurements” of the ship?
Total length 75,68 meters, waterline width 17,4 meters, weight 3 542 tons, the height of bridge above sea-level 14 meters, draught 7 meters.
What is the passenger capacity of the ship?
The passenger capacity of the ship is 150 persons. During most of the cruises there are both individual clients as well as groups.
What is the amount of the cruise personnel, and what are their language capabilities?
Depending on the amount of the clients on the particular cruise, there will be 15-20 personnel members: the crew, the tour guides and the Restaurant personnel. At best, the Sampo tour guides, in all and all, have spoken 12 different languages. The most common languages during any of the cruises have been Finnish, English, Italian, Dutch, French and German.
Is it possible to reserve the whole ship for private occasions?
Yes. On the days when the Sampo is on a cruise as listed on the timetable, the icebreaker can be reserved for private occasions both in the morning and in the evening.
Outside the days of the timetable the ship can be reserved also during the daytime.
What are the different areas/facilities on board the ship?
During the cruise you can move freely on board the ship from the engine room all the way up to the captain’s bridge. During a guided tour you will learn to know these areas as well as others on board the ship more thoroughly. For example, on the first level below the deck you will find the dressing rooms for swimming/floating. On the first deck, the same level as the entrance, you will find the Restaurant, cloakroom, the souvenir shop as well as the toilets. The bar and lounge areas are on the second deck. The cozy and atmospheric-rich Captain’s Saloon is on the third deck. The stairs leading to the captain’s bridge are on the third deck also. You can study the ship’s floor plan more thoroughly here.
What do we need to do to get on board?
You board the ship at the Port of Ajos in Kemi. You can reach the port either by your own car or by taking the transfer on the bus arranged for every cruise and leaving from the centre of Kemi. Please note: you must make reservations for the bus transportation at the same as you reserve your cruise. On the Snowmobile-safari to the Sampo you arrive to the Sampo on the snowmobile.
How long does the cruise last and what happens during the cruise?
The regular four hour cruise departs at 12 noon at the Port of Ajos, about 11 km south from the centre of Kemi. You are allowed to board the ship starting at 11:30am. During the cruise you will have a guided tour on board the icebreaker from the engine room all the way up to the captain’s bridge. During the cruise you will be served a delicious soup-lunch (cream of salmon soup or cream of reindeer soup with cheese) at the ship’s Restaurant. After lunch you will have the chance for the exciting arctic swimming/floating adventure in freezing black waters in the midst of ice, dressed in impermeable warm survival suits. This experience is to be unforgettable! On arrival back to the port the captain will honor each participant with the Sampo Icebreaker Certificate.
Swimming/floating is voluntary, but for its unique experience we recommend it for all. Please note: the requirements for swimming/floating, minimum age 12 years, minimum height 145 cm. If you wish, you can order the three course lunch for your cruise for the additional charge.
The choices of the three course lunch: cream of salmon soup, fillet of beef roast with red wine sauce, caramelized vegetables, potatoes with blue cheese, chocolate parfait, coffee/tea. Vegetarian choice: soup of vegetable pure, vegetables au gratin in a pot & jasmine rice, wild berry sorbet, coffee/tea.
How do I best dress for the cruise?
We recommend layered dressing. This will enable you to take off your outer wear while inside on board the ship and add some more warm clothing when you go out on the deck. You can best enjoy the scenery and watch the breaking of ice out on the deck. If the weather conditions permit, you may be allowed to walk on the ice during the swimming/floating session.
Can we borrow/rent warm clothing for the cruise?
Yes, we rent snowmobile safari suits for reservations made in advance, but you can manage well with your own proper winter outfits on the cruise as well. In case you have made reservations for the Snowmobile-safari to the Sampo, the price of the package includes automatically snowmobile safari outfits (snowmobile suit, wool socks, snowmobile boots, mittens and balaclava).
Is it obligatory to go swimming/floating in the sea?
Not at all, swimming/floating is voluntary! For reasons of safety maximum amount of 15 persons are allowed to swim/float at the same time. The cruise personnel will help you in dressing the impermeable survival suit on, and help you in getting into the hole in the ice as well as getting up and out from there.
Are we allowed to walk on the ice?
Yes, if the weather conditions are good, during the swimming/floating session you may walk on the ice. On a clear day – perhaps you will even have a chance to see all the way to Sweden!
Have any of the cruises ever been cancelled because of bad weather?
Have any of the cruises ever been cancelled because of bad weather?
Is there a cold/frost limit for the cruise?
No. Even when it is freezing cold outside, inside on board the ship it will be warm and cozy.
Are there any cruises during the summer?
Because of the shape of the ship (there is no keel in the bottom of the ship, the shape of the bottom is rather like an egg) the Sampo floats like a bottle on open seas. During the summer we arrange special visits on board the icebreaker for groups. Please note: reservations must be made in advance.
Can we arrange birthday parties or Christmas parties on the Sampo?
Yes. When the icebreaker, outside its cruising season, is docked at the port, we arrange various kinds of private occasions, as well as events and meetings for business enterprises. During the cruising season many of our clients celebrate their birthday on the regular cruises together with the rest of the clients on that particular day of the cruise. The Sampo, however, has been the place of private birthday parties on many occasions, as well.
Is the ship wheelchair accessible?
Yes, moving from the first deck to the second deck can be managed well when two persons carry the wheelchair. However, please note that the door openings to the level below the first deck and to the decks above the second deck are 64 cm (if the door is removed, 70 cm).
Is it possible to cancel the cruise/trip I have reserved?
Your reservation will be confirmed as soon as you have made your payment. You can do your payment by the most common credit cards and by cash. Here you will get more information about payments and cancellations: Terms and conditions for reservations and cancellations (PDF).
Where can I get information about the cruise and where can I make a reservation for a cruise?
You can make your reservations directly on our site.
The Sampo Icebreaker served in active icebreaking duty for the Finnish government up until 1987. On the guided tour you will hear plenty of interesting facts about ice, about breaking ice as well as about the history of the Sampo Icebreaker.
The Sampo cruise according to the timetable lasts four hours. The snowmobile-safari to the icebreaker will take additional three hours. Maximum passenger capacity on board the ship is 150 persons. For large groups, we will tailor programs specifically for the groups needs.
Boarding time for the cruise starts half an hour before the departure time. The Sampo Icebreaker is docked at the Port of Ajos, about 11 km south from the centre of Kemi. Address: Ajoksentie 748, 94900 Kemi. On your arrival, the cruise personnel will welcome you, and hand you your personal cruise timetable with the specific times for your guided tour, lunch as well as your swimming/floating times during the cruise. Lunch will be served primarily in two settings due to the limited capacity of the Restaurant on board the ship.
Clothing during the cruise: we recommend layered dressing, which will enable you to take off your outer wear while inside and add more protective clothing when going out on the deck. You will have the best chance watching the breaking of ice out on the deck.
Depending on the weather conditions during the swimming/floating session, you may have a chance to walk on the ice. For the reasons of safety about 15 clients can swim/float at the same time. Swimming/floating is voluntary, but we highly recommend it for its exciting and unique experience. Note, however: requirements for swimming/floating: minimum age, 12 years, minimum height 145 cm.
The cruise personnel will assist you dressing the impermeable survival suit on. In order to swim/float you do not have to be able to swim!
The Sampo Icebreaker’s cruise season is during the winter, from the week before Christmas until mid-April. Outside its cruise season the Sampo is docked at the Port of Ajos in Kemi.
Reservations for visiting the ship during the summer can be made for groups; reservations must be made in advance. On the guided tour, among other interesting things, you will hear about ice as an element, as well as listen to the history of icebreakers, specifically to the history of the Sampo.
The guide will instruct you about wintertime cruising as well.