Tourism and Film: real, ʻreelʼ and imagined spaces of cruise ships
Lester, Jo-Anne Marie
University of Wales
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As architectures of the sea, cruise ships are unique, but under-explored spaces of travel and tourism. Characterised by their bounded, mobile and transient distinctiveness, a ship’s inner spaces are inhabited by an onboard community of people for purposes of work or leisure. Framed by the notion of cruise ships as imagined geographies, the primary focus of this study is to interpret and critically explore the discourses of popular films and what these reveal about cruise ships as distinctive socio-cultural spaces of travel and tourism. Embracing Michel Foucault and his influential work on discourse, knowledge and power, popular films are positioned as sites of knowledge production through which particular regimes of truth are constituted. The approach to the analysis of popular films in this study, acknowledges the multisensory nature of film and how such spatial constructs are experienced in and through the imagination, emotion and memory. Conceptualised as liminal spaces which can be temporarily inhabited and travelled through, my embodiments of Carry On Cruising , Ship of Fools  and Titanic  are reflexive in their approach, enabling me to draw on my own experiences of living and working on cruise ships. My voyages with the three films that form the archive of data for the purposes of this study, reveals a uniform set of discourses that engender specific imaginings about travel and vacations at sea. Although different in genre, these films all contribute in varying ways to the notion of ships as hedonistic pleasure spaces of promiscuity and romantic pursuit. Through this archaeological endeavour my excavations also unveil a set of more nuanced and subtle discourses surrounding gender, employment practises, the spatial organisation of ships and shipboard rituals, all of which contribute to particular ways of seeing cruise ships and the cruise experience. In the context of tourism studies, this research makes a methodological contribution in its approach to visuality, discourse and film. Moreover this thesis contributes to a greater understanding of the discursive structures of popular films and what these reveal about the spatial constructs of passengers ships and their embodied cultural practices.
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