Ruotsinlaiva, “Sweden’s ship”, is a name used for passenger ships, usually cruise ships, that operate between Stockholm (Sweden’s capitol) and one of Finland’s cities (Helsinki, Turku or Marienhamn). Cruises to Stockholm are very popular and it’s almost an obligation for every Finn to do so. The trip across and back the Baltic sea takes about three days. You leave in the evening, sleep the night and in the morning you are in Stockholm. The cruise stays put for few hours and then sets off back to Helsinki. Usually in the night, the cruise makes a stop in Marienhamn.
Now, you may think it seems oh so nice to visit a neighboring country like that and to see new cities but that’s not the reason Finnish people go on these cruises. The real reason is to get drunk. We Finns love nothing more than getting drunk. Of course there are exceptions, like families with young children but then the parents go on another cruise where they can get wasted. Then after the first night of partying, you sleep your hangover, not leaving the ship at all, and then do it again the next night.
Then there’s also tax-free where you can buy, well, tax-free goods. I usually buy Milka chocolate bars because no one sells them in Finland.
Abiristeily. Abi means someone who’s a senior in high school and when you add risteily, a cruise, to the mix you get a nice combination. It’s a tradition that during the third and last year of high school the students go on a cruise to celebrate it. Americans have proms and whatnot, we go on a cruise to get wasted. Recently it’s become a trend for freshmen and second year students to go on cruises as well. My lovely mother didn’t let me go on the first two but luckily, now that I’m 18 and can legally drink, I can go to the Abiristeily. The format is same for these cruises than the one with normal cruises.
Tallinnanlaiva, “Tallinn’s ship”, is a name used for cruises that operate between Tallinn, Estonia’s capitol, and Helsinki. These trips differ from trips to Stockholm in many ways. The trip to Tallinn and back lasts about 14 hours so the time to partying usually is on the way back. But one of the main reasons Finns go there is to buy cheap alcohol. See, in Finland all the heavy stuff is sold in Alkos, government owned stores. So, the government usually taxes them highly so that the tax is like half of the price. Estonia’s economy was and still is, compared to Finland’s, worse so they have cheap alcohol. Going to Tallinn for this reason is also very popular among under 20 year olds. You see, the limit to buy over 40%, the heavy stuff, is 20, so of course Tallinn is the perfect solution for this.
How much does theses cruises cost? Trip to Stockholm, depending on the company you use and the type of cabin you want, is around 60 to 100 Euros. Tallinn is cheaper, the lowest I’ve had was 15 Euros.
So, here you have it. One of the many interesting aspects of Finnish culture that may seem odd to people who are from countries with no coast-lines or have cruises that are very expensive. I reccomend going on a cruise to Stockholm if you ever happen to be in Helsinki. Then you get to see the Finn in its natural habitat. :D