Geographies of Recreational Space: cruising through the indoor/outdoor dualism

by Fiona Ferbrache

Cruise ships docked between Guernsey and Herm (photograph reproduced with permission from Eric Ferbrache)

This summer, cruise liner Carnival Magic will be making her maiden voyage.  The ship has been described in The Sunday Times travel supplement as a “Floating Fairground” (Bleach, 2011), owing to the water park and leisure facilities on its main deck.  This ship is all about providing family fun as it sails around the Mediterranean.

Reading about the Floating Fairground, I was reminded of a recent Area article concerning indoor and outdoor recreational spaces (Eden and Barratt, 2010).  I am not sure how to classify the recreational space of a cruise ship.  On the one hand, many of the activities take place inside or beneath the roof in a relatively closed and controlled environment.  However, a cruise ship is very much outside in the unpredictability of the elements, which may reduce passenger comfort in certain conditions.  Furthermore, the recreational space of a cruise ship is not detached from being out(side) at sea, or the activities that take place when a cruise ship docks and passengers go ashore for a while.

In their paper, Eden and Barratt challenge various assumptions associated with the dualism of indoor/outdoor leisure by drawing upon the facilities of indoor climbing walls and outdoor angling ponds.  In their conclusion, they argue that seeking distinctions between these categories can be problematic.  The alternative, as suggested at the end of their paper, is that recreational spaces, such as cruise ships, are contextualised as a “heterogeneous assemblage of practices and spaces” (p.493).  I bet you will not read it written quite like that in the cruise brochure.

Bleach, S. (2011) The Floating Fairground. The Sunday Times: travel. 08 May, 2011. pp.13.

Carnival (2011) Introducing Carnical Magic. Accessed 13 May, 2011

Eden, S. & Barratt, P. (2010) Outdoors versus indoors? Angling ponds, climbing walls and changing expectations of environmental leisure. Area. 42,4 pp.487-493

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