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A “Wilde” experience

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On Thursday I boarded one of Sweden’s most notorious “Booze cruise” ships – the Cinderella from Viking Line – bound for Mariehamn in the Åland Islands. Even though it was mid-week, hundreds of passengers lined up for boarding dragging empty suitcases behind them. The reason for their (and my) trip? Apart from the obvious answer – to stock up on a few months supply of cheap alcohol and cigarettes at tax-free prices and to party – to listen to Eighties singing sensation Kim Wilde who was playing that night on board. How on earth she ended up on a Viking Line cruise in the Baltic Sea is a mystery to me!

48-year-old Kim came on stage at 23.00 by which time the audience were pretty intoxicated and clambering over the thin barrier before being dragged away by Cinderella cruise staff/bouncers. The first few songs were mediocre and ones I never heard before. During every song she stopped mid-sentence to say “Please keep back. I don’t want to see anyone getting hurt. Please take care of each other and stay back,” before having to restart, or in some cases not restart at all, her songs.

Halfway through she started to play her real hits and the concert really started despite some starts and restarts as the drunken Nordic audience continued to attempt to drunkily clamber over the thin railing and get closer to the “Kids in America” star. By 24.00 she finished on a high with “Kids in America” and despite my disillusionment with the first half of the concert and her performance, I think she gave a fair performance, certainly I can’t complain about value-for-money – the cruise including cabin, breakfast and concert cost just SEK 735 for two people.

I’ve been on hundreds of these cruise ships which plough through the Baltic waters every day but every time the level of drunkedness on board astounds me. As an Irish girl whose country-folk can really drink, it always astonishes me how the locals in this part of the world can be completely transformed from shy, non-eye-contact makers to super-extroverted, super uncoordinated, roaring drunks. My last experiences before disembarking the ship – a 40-something-year-old man fumbling around half-drunk (at 3.00 in the afternoon) for his cans of beer (the box had split) and what looked like a harmless little old lady in her Seventies, who grabbed me by the arm and tried to pull me along with her before almost crashing to the ground. Luckily her equally drunken companion managed to catch her before she hit the ground.

Baltic cruises – they’re an experience for sure and even though every time I swear I’ve never seen such drunken people and that I won’t go on another one for a while, somehow, I just can never resist them! And with Cinderella giving out free cruise vouchers for every SEK 500 of purchases on board, I’ve clocked up 6 free cruises now so I’ll be back on board soon … no doubt dumbfounded once again by my drunken fellow passengers!!

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