5 Oct 2007

Alcohol cruise, Helsinki-Stockholm

Posted by walterheck

The day of the CouchSurfing Cruise to Stockholm was finally here! This cruise was one of those cruises that a lot of Finns take regularly to be able to shop tax free for alcohol. They are very notorious for extremely drunk people on board the ship. Basically you pay 61 euro’s (or 47 excluding all you can eat buffet) and you are taken from Helsinki to Stockholm and back in two nights. These cruises are so popular that there are a couple of different companies offering them and our ship would actually be one of three big-ass cruiseships sailing in line to Stockholm. I had heard a lot about these cruises and was very excited to see this peculiar part of Finnish ‘culture’.

I got up, watched an episode of Prisonbreak (perkele this show is good, even though it gets a little corny in the third season 😉 ) and made Duke coffee and ricecakes to wake him up, a proven Tiina recipe 😉 We packed our bags (basically a few clothes and our laptops) and put the rest of our stuff neatly (as neatly as two guys really can do this 😉 ) in a corner of Daniels room.

We headed into the city to spend some time in our ‘internet homebase’ Café Java before leaving on the cruise. I updated my picture gallery and did some couchsurfing stuff. Then I received a message from the sisters from Vaasa that they were very far out and might not make it in time. For some reason (probably money 😉 ), they decided to hitchhike from Vaasa to Helsinki. It turned out later that one of them had been to the barber and they did not start hitchhiking until 11:30, which barely leaves enough time to even drive to Helsinki using your own car.

We finished up what we were doing and headed to the meeting place. I started receiving messages from the other participants (in total there were 11 signed up which later turned into 12) and figured that Marianne had probably given them my number. I could feel my next phone bill go up with every message and phone call I needed to make 🙁 We arrived at the market place we were supposed to meet 10 minutes late. Noone there… I received a phone call from Stefano who turned out to be standing right behind us. We contacted Tiina who was already almost at the terminal.

We walked towards Tiina and entered the terminal. It was complete chaos but luckily we all kept a good mood. Since Tiina was the only Finnish speaking person present, but everything was arranged by Yoav and Marianne, she hunted down Yoav’s phone number and got some kind of reservation number out of him. Against her will (Duke and I are convinced she secretly likes it 😉 ) she was now coordinator of the whole thing and proceeded to the group checkin to find papers. There was some problem with one of the payments so it took a sweet while to figure everything out.

In the meantime I was running around trying to find all the others. The problem was that we did not even know who the others were as none of the people present were organizing the whole thing. I knew Yoav and Serkan were supposed to be on the cruise (they were not there yet) and together with Duke, Tiina, Stefano, the sisters and me that made 8. Who were the mystery three? I had received messages from one or two of them so I was a bit in the dark. Luckily we are all grown up people, so with a bit of walking around the terminal (judging from the huge crowd we were not the only ones going on this cruise 😉 ) I found almost everyone. In the end everything turned out fine and around 17:15 (only 15 minutes before the ship was leaving) everyone was there.. except for the sisters. They were pretty far out and decided to make their way to Turku instead of Helsinki, pay for a one way ferry to Ã…land and meet us there (our ship would stop there at 4:30 in the night).

I was very happy that I didn’t have to worry anymore and we got onto the ship. What I saw there was quite remarkable: people made their way to their cabins and then hurried their way to the tax-free shop, which was basically the size of a decent supermarket completely filled with booze and parfum. People were walking out with shopping carts filled to the top with cases of beer. I decided to share a case of beer with Jani, a Finn from Vaasa (that had been smart enough to take the train to Helsinki to actually make it in time 😉 ).

We went back to our cabin and started drinking. I was determined to wait with getting drunk until the all-you-can-eat-and-drink buffet was done, but I got started anyway 🙂 Since we had the late seating of 20:30 we had some time to kill until we could go to dinner. We decided to go and explore the ship a bit. We went up to the top deck, hung around and drank beer until it was almost dinnertime.

The buffet was downright overwhelming! Outside the restaurant there was a list of all the dishes they served and it was literally man high. We ate a little bit of a lot of dishes until our stomaches hurt. Then we wanted to continue drinking (that was also included unlimited in the buffet) but most of us were so full that that was kind of hard 🙂

We left the restaurant, continued drinking throughout the ship going to all the bars the ship had. None were really exciting: there was a small bar that was dedicated to the Okotberfest-theme the ship had, there was the finnish pop/dance disco and the old people’s bar with a horrible band. We tried singing karaoke in the disco, but the waiting list was full (ah…. Too bad 😉 )

After that Duke got me to dance (this guy must have magical powers or something 😉 ) and when all the music was over, he got out his guitar and started playing in one of the hallways. A lot of people seemed to enjoy it and some of them even sat down to listen, sing along or to play themselves.

Soon enough it was close to 4:00 and we were arriving at Ã…land, where we had to pick up the girls. We waited at the gate, but no one showed. I decided to call them and of the one minute phone call about 55 seconds was giggling and the rest was a completely useless attempt to talk to me. Jani ran down the boarding area and quickly found the girls. It turned out that they were _really_ drunk and were having the giggles for quite a while. It was all quite funny.

We hung around a little bit more and then went to bed as we were all close to exhausted (if not already there 😉 ). I think it was around 5 am when we turned in.

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One Response to “Alcohol cruise, Helsinki-Stockholm”

  1. Waw man, you’ve given me a tiny glimpse of paradise, that cruise must be great. Anyway sounds like Duke could give Gandalf a run for his money. All hail Duke and his incredible powers! Maybe he hypnotised you once and left a post hypnotic suggestion that makes you want to dance. Or perhaps he’s been whispering stuff in your ears while you’re sleeping that left some subliminal message… I wouldn’t trust this guy if I were you, a Walter dancing just isn’t natural and can’t be right.