It may not be a “traditional” Swedish thing, yet somehow, taking a booze cruise is a bit like an intiation into (Stockholm) life. If you haven’t done it, everyone wonders why, and if you’ve done it more than once, everyone wonders why… a tad contradictory. Two of my friends and I decided to take one of the ferrys from Stockholm to Helsinki as a mid-summer outing. We travelled with Silja Line, which is meant to be less booze cruise style and more “family orientated”. We managed to rent a cabin that slept 4 for only 1200 SEK – sometimes you can get them cheaper and sometimes they cost more, but it depends on what level your cabin is – below car deck, much cheaper, top of the ship, top dollar. We were middle of the range.
Friday afternoon we finished work early to head to the ferry terminal at Vartahamn. The ferry we were booked on left at 5pm, and you had to be there at least 1 hour before (check in closed 30 minutes prior for those without cars to take). We were there about 1.5 hours before check in closed, and got to join the queues… People in a group are just amazing! With no nummerlapp to take (see my earlier post), people had to form orderly queues, all on their own (collective shock horror gasp!). This actually worked relatively well, before people around us started stressing that they were in the wrong line. We stubbornly stayed put (although technically we were also in the “wrong” line), and got checked in with no problems.
Once you are checked in you then have to pass through ticket check gates and do a slow shuffle onto the boat, a bit like boarding an aircraft. But this time, the reason for the slow shuffle was not people trying to find their seats (or in this case, cabins) but a photographer and his assistant taking ultra cheesy “cruise” photos. Needless to say, we bypassed the line and the photographer, and entered, but not before passing people dressed up as children’s characters from Moomin, a famous Finnish fairytale. Finally, we were on board!
It was a bit like entering a shopping mall. Clothes shops, “fashion” shops, souvinir shops, restaurants, cafes, and best of all, duty free!
We decided to start our ferry crossing with a drink and chocolate (no photos from that one that I wish to appear on the internet!), followed by a quick stop at the duty free shop for a few more drinks, lazily consumed in our cabin, amidst much chatter and laughing.
Time to change – get your dress on (yes it seems a little silly, but if you’re going to do these things, do them properly!). Again, no photos that should find themselves on the internet from that…! A bite to eat at a restaurant, and then off we went to the evening show, consisting of singing and dancing. Cheesy! But we were on a booze cruise boat after all.
Lucky for us, it really was more of a family cruise, as there didn’t seem to be all that many drunken idiots compared to an earlier cruise I have done. The signing/dancing was unsurprisingly cheesy, yet fun. You cannot expect too much from these shows. They provide a bit of cheap entertainment, the entertainers have put some effort in, but it’s not top level. Nonetheless, they perform, you are entertained, mission accomplished. After “The Show” we decided to turn in for the night so we wouldn’t be dragging tired versions of ourselves around the next day. 930am, welcome to Helsinki!
Off we piled (again, mass humanity, small exit, no nummerlapp = chaos), and away we went.First stop, outdoor markets.
Followed by some other sights…