Booze cruise is a British vernacular term for a short trip from Britain to France or Belgium with the aim of getting benefit of lower prices, and buying personal articles (particularly) alcohol or tobacco in bulk. Within limits, this is an officially acceptable method and must not be confused with smuggling.
The term is also facilitated in other countries to explain a great outing on a ship or boat engaging a prominent quantity of drinking.
Generally, tobacco and alcohol taxes are less in France compared to Britain. Financially, it makes sense for the individual to buy their supplies of spirits, tobacco or wine in bulk in France rather than Britain. There is a fierce competition between ferry operators and the Channel Tunnel Eurotunnel Shuttle.
Capturing and serving this market has been transformed into a great business around the major ferry ports of Boulogne, Calais, and Dunkirk in France, and Ostend in Belgium. The doorway route from the Calais ferry port passes many big warehouse retailers that serve the market, and some big British supermarket strings have alcohol-only representations selling bottles similar to those in Britain, but at huge discounts. The French have came up an enormous shopping sector adjacent to the Channel Tunnel that drives large number of British shoppers.
After large hike in tobacco duty in France, it is now very simple for smokers to make a tour to the small town of Adinkerke just next to the border in Belgium, where tobacco duty is low. Several people with an aim to buy primarily tobacco products, opt for the revised service from Dover to Dunkirk, as Dunkirk is at the Belgian border than Calais, and the ferries on this path are virtually more 'smoker-friendly'. A few people buy both alcohol and tobacco creating a triangular journey.
There is a considerable difference between Booze Cruisers, who buy and transport goods legally, and professional smugglers, who often have nefarious motives. Genuine Booze Cruisers are mostly people 'on a budget', who simply attempt to purchase their own personal supplies from 'Shop A' (France) at lower prices than offered at 'Shop B' in Britain.
Booze Cruisers normally travel as a community or group of friends, and facilitate the opportunity to usually have a 'day out' in France and engage in recreational 'channel shopping' for French items and unfamiliar foods, clothing and other good items while touring.