Skimming the surface: dislocated cruise liners and aquatic spaces

Document Type


Publication details

Cashman, D 2013, 'Skimming the surface: dislocated cruise liners and aquatic spaces', Shima: The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures, vol.7, no. 2.

Article available on Open Access

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Modern, highly facilitated and luxurious cruise ships provide a highly particular type of environment and a very particular placement within oceanic and harbour spaces. In these regards they may be understood as floating entities effectively removed from their locales or, rather, as removed as they can be, barring issues of technological failure, accident and/or intrusion of extreme weather or geo-physical phenomena. Conceptualised as ‘floating pleasure palaces’, they are less like islands (with their complex gradations of connection to and social engagement with aquatic and sub- surface topographic space) and (increasingly) more like hovercraft that skim across aquatic surfaces. Indeed, in many recent examples, the access to and connection with the marine space that provides the medium for and rationale of ‘the cruise’ is marginalised. This essay begins to theorise the rationale implicit in such disconnections.

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