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Cruising the “Duty Free” Seas

Cruising the “Duty Free” Seas

on Jul 16, 2013 in Food & Drink

From Helsinki, we boarded the ferry for the quick two-hour sailing across the Baltic Sea to Tallinn, Estonia. It was 7 AM and while boarding I noticed a number of people carrying empty wheelie luggage carts—you know the ones that have to be stored under the seat in front of you and not the overhead bins on the airplane. Being that I was caffeine deprived, I did not think too much of it and carried on hoping to scout out a nice place to sit during the cruise.

Once in Tallin, as we made our way from the port terminal to the old town, we noticed a significant number stores selling alcohol, including ladies standing out front trying to woo in the customers. Mind you it was only 9:30 AM.  My mind was nowhere close to thinking about any type of alcohol…but I made a mental note as the cost of alcohol in Scandinavia very expensive!

After spending the day trying to avoid cruise ship and day-trip tourists, we made our way back to the port to catch our boat for the return back to Helsinki. At the port, we noticed many people putting their wheelie luggage carts to use. They were hauling multiple cases of beer & wine coolers! Anywhere from 4 to 8 cases per wheelie, strapped down with bungee cords and duct tape.

Apparently, a day cruise to Tallinn is a popular trip for folks in Helsinki. It’s not only a nice day trip, but it allows them to re-stock their beer fridge. I guess the cost of the ticket outweighs the amount of money they would would have to pay in taxes to purchase the same goods at home!

We also had the opportunity to “cruise” round trip between Stockholm and Helsinki. Those ships have a duty free store on board that sells a broad range of items including candy, alcohol, clothing, accessories and cosmetics. We dared to venture into the overcrowded aisles to browse the selection prior to dinner. I felt like I was in Walmart for the day after Christmas sales! Okay, maybe not that bad…but it seems people make the round trip between the two cities to take advantage of the duty free selection. We heard first hand from some folks on board that the prices are significantly cheaper than what they are able to get on land in either destination.

Bottom line, some of your best deals for booze in Scandinavia can be found when cruising the duty free seas!

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