We returned to Melbourne overnight on the Spirit of Tasmania (actually, "Spirit of Tasmania 1", because there are 2 vessels which I understand are almost identical, being "S of T 1" and "S of T 2"). Again, there was a long wait to board at Devonport, but I am now clearer why this is so. The information provided to passengers is that "boarding" commences 2½ hours before departure. But this isn't correct. Apparently "check-in" commences at that time, but "boarding" doesn't occur until 1 hour before departure (although I'm not sure whether this may depend on the number of vehicles). Hence, if you "check-in" early, you're held in the "departure lounge" - in this case, in your car in a queue. It's a pity that passengers aren't made aware of this but I suppose the organisation wants to spread the load.
If we ever travel again by the "Spirit" I would certainly prefer to spend the time waiting for departure in a more pleasant environment than sitting in a car in a queue.
Earlier in the day, we had visited the Don River Railway (more to follow on this!) and spent some time in Devonport.
There was more "movement" on the trip back, and neither of us slept very well. But at least there's no quarantine check as you leave the vessel in Melbourne (unlike Tasmania), so we got home quickly .
Beach at Devonport
Ferry at Devonport