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The meaning and origin of the expression: Booze cruise

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Booze cruise

Meaning

A sea trip from England to continental Europe to buy cheap drink.

Origin

Until June 1999, when England was obliged to come into line with the rest of the member countries of the European Community, alcoholic drink was much cheaper in France than in England.

Prior to that many people found it worthwhile to take the trip across the English Channel to stock up on drink and cigarettes. The allowances, which in any case were widely flouted, were quite generous. Under EU rules, up to 800 cigarettes, 90 litres of wine and 110 litres of beer were considered for personal use.

This had a serious affect on the UK drinks trade as very large quantities were imported this way - 'for the traveller's own personal consumption'. This was reported in The Times in November 1993, in an article by Louise Hidalgo titled "British shops suffer as 'booze cruise' bargain hunters flock to France":

"The number of British shoppers visiting French supermarkets has soared in the past few weeks as the pre-Christmas hunt for bargain drink and tobacco across the Channel gets into full swing."