In the paper we trace the development of the ferries as mobile spaces for consumption and pleasure travel with a focus on the period 1970-2020. Since the second world war, frequent passenger ferry-travel has been an essential element in the day-to-day contacts between Finland and Sweden. As an unsustainable but ... (Show more)
In the paper we trace the development of the ferries as mobile spaces for consumption and pleasure travel with a focus on the period 1970-2020. Since the second world war, frequent passenger ferry-travel has been an essential element in the day-to-day contacts between Finland and Sweden. As an unsustainable but cheap form of leisure, ferry cruising represents the main form of vernacular connectedness between the densely populated areas of Finland and Sweden with 8–10 million passengers annually during the three most recent decades.
Since the expansion of the traffic in the 1970s, taking the ferry has been associated with the promise of dancing, flirting and potential sexual encounters. Today the biggest ferry cruises include indoor “shopping streets”, several restaurants and bars, dance floors and entertainment areas, indoor and outdoor pools and spa sections. Contemporary trends include an interesting segmentation of ferry cruise tourism with a range of thematic concepts targeting different segments of the markets, such as “single cruises”.
In the paper we explore how notions of gender, sexuality and nation was reproduced and negotiated in the marketing of ferry lines between Sweden and Finland 1970-2020. By using a multimodal critical discourse analysis, we explore how cultural meaning of discourses has been co-constructed through written texts and visual images. In the analysis, we focus on how marketing has constructed the attractiveness of ferry traffic: how was the ferry cruise experience presented? Who has the advertisements addressed and how? How have notions of gender, sexuality and nation been conveyed and co-constructed in marketing of ferry cruises over time?
Theoretically we understand ferry cruises as a “floating shopping mall” that are in constant motion. As an effect, the profitability of the ferries has increasingly relied on onboard consumption and the phenomena of captive consumers. Moreover, it has been the spatial liminality of the ferry cruises that have opened up for embodied pleasures such as eating, drinking, dancing, relaxing, shopping, and also involving in sexual encounters. Thus, as in other parts of pleasure-based travel such as all-inclusive tourism, cruising became invested with desires for “fun, pleasure and entertainment” and include aspects of gender, embodiment and sensuality. (Show less)