I’ve done it. I’ve gone on the Finland cruise and survived. It was a #TrulySwedish experience, that’s for sure!
If you read my other post, then you would remember that Josh and Kellee were going on the cruise yesterday. I left out a key fact that I and some other of Josh’s friends would also be going. I left this out because it was meant to be a surprise for Josh, and who knows if he was going to read my blog post (he didn’t). Anyway, I’m back and this is what I found.
These cruises are about 24 hours long. They leave Stockholm at 19:30 in the evening and come back to Stockholm at about 18:15 the next day. They make several stops along the way, but most people don’t bother getting off. That’s because people go on these cruises for at least one of these four reasons: 1) to drink, 2) to eat, 3) to buy duty-free goods, and 4) to find a bed partner. The stereotypes are mostly true; there were a lot of single people onboard. However, there were quite a few families with teenage-aged or young-adult-aged kids too, and I suppose those people were looking forward to doing activities 1-3 together with the family (and maybe #4 if they don’t get caught). I guess this is the Swedish version of taking the family to Disneyland.
Let’s go in order.
Everyone drinks from the point they get on the ship. Some even start off at the bar in the ferry terminal. They promote a shot of Jägermeister + beer for 130 SEK, and a lot of people went that route. While waiting for the rest of the group, I enjoyed a beer at the terminal and people-watched. More on that later.
Once they begin to drink, the passengers keep drinking until they go to bed. I think this is because there is literally nothing to do on the ship except to drink. Other cruises I’ve been on have more activities, but on this ship, it’s pretty much go to the evening entertainment and drink, go to the disco and drink, or go to one of the bars and drink. No rock wall for the athletically-inclined, no game show, no casino. The pool is apparently only 8 meters by 3 meters, so that’s no option either. The bars don’t seem to check IDs either; there were definitely some kids drinking who probably were still 5 years away from legal drinking age.
Eating is another reason to go on the cruise. There is a variety of cuisine on board, it is reasonably priced (since you’re not paying ridiculous VAT as you do when you’re on land) and it’s decently prepared. We really only ate at the Grillhouse because Kellee made reservations there, but we did try to buffet for breakfast this morning. I was actually quite disappointed in the breakfast buffet but the Grillhouse was okay. As with the alcohol comment, because there is a lack of activities, it’s easy to get on the cruise and do nothing but eat!
3. Buying Duty-Free Goods
I have to say that I’ve become quite the shrewd little duty-free shopper. I will wait until I go on a trip to a place with favorable duty-free prices and stock up on whatever I need and can carry. This trip, I bought 6 bottles of Absolut vodka for approximately 165 SEK each and a bottle of Bacardi Raz for 220 SEK. The Bacardi price was okay, but the Absolut vodka prices were quite good. Everyone else seems to have the same idea. The duty-free store is open during different times so there’s always a bunch of people in there buying their booze, cheap cosmetics and perfumes, or other edible goods. It’s another favorite pastime when people are done eating and are taking a pause from drinking.
4. Finding a bed partner
There is a stereotype that if you go on this cruise you are likely to end up in bed with someone twice your age. I don’t know if that’s necessarily true, but there are definitely people who are here solely to find a bed partner. For example, I saw a woman in her late 40s flirt heavily with the guitar soloist, and end up having many drinks with him later. One can only guess where that evening headed. They were about the same age though so I guess it wasn’t too unbalanced.
Due to the heavy drinking on this cruise and the limited number of activities, most people are at the disco till the wee hours of the night. We went to the disco as well and had a great time dancing together. But of course, part of the fun with going to one of these things is to people-watch. There was a lot of flirting going on all night, and fortunately, most were between consenting adults. Some of those people probably found companionship for the evening. There was a goofy guy wearing a jackass mask all night. We all took photos with him, and although we didn’t think he would succeed in finding a bed partner that night, who cares – the mask was fun.
But then there was also the group of 45-55 year-old Russians (we think) who kept hitting on Kellee, Lydia, and Helen, even after they clearly told them that they were married, not interested, and to go away. Kellee almost got into a fight with one of the men since he kept coming up to them, touching them, trying to dance close. We also saw this one older man who was trying to dance with this young girl that looked like a Barbie doll; the weird part was that his 20-something year old daughter and her boyfriend were on the dance floor too. She seemed to be pretty okay with the fact that her dad was hitting on a woman who was about her age.
I don’t have any clue how that situation ended later in the evening, but we had a definitely had a good time people watching! I went to bed at 3:44. Late enough for me.
This morning was pretty fun too. Although we were all suffering from minor hangovers, we were able to get up and function: breakfast, lunch, fika. We saw a lot of the same people from the disco last night. Most of the girls looked pretty young, especially the Barbie girl which made the whole dad-hitting-on-her-thing extra creepy. And we saw the same group of Russian men, in the same clothes as they were in last night and just as creepy. One of them was already pounding a bunch of Hartwall Original Gin Long Drinks that he picked up from duty-free.
So that was my experience on the ferry to Finland. Now I know why those stereotypes exist – they’re mostly true. We definitely took advantage of eating, drinking, and buying duty-free. No bed partner hunts for us, but it was a ton of fun to dance with friends at the disco. This is a great trip to take with friends who are up for having a good time, and we were able to surprise Josh and help him celebrate his 30th birthday. It’s definitely something that is a truly Swedish activity, and I am glad I did it. The whole trip cost me a measly 931 SEK and that was for the food and drink coupons. The rooms were free for us.
How many of you have taken the ferry to Finland? Which of the above reasons applied for you? 🙂