Cruises change with the world, says Ani Blomqvist, who has worked at Silja Line for almost 40 years. Even today, cruises attract different groups of tourists with their ease.
Fast, an effortless and often inexpensive detachment from everyday life amidst carpets, brass, buffet tables and shopping.
Ship travel has had a special place in the travel habits of Finns for decades.
This year, the need for many potted cruises erupted in June, when ships got on board again after months of waiting. HS was involved when Tallink Silja’s Serenade took passengers on board for the first time since last autumn.
Read more: “This cruise symbolizes some kind of freedom” – HS was involved when a thousand passengers flew from Helsinki to Tallinn after a break of months
Cruisers interviewed by HS told how the start of a cruise is a cautious sign for them of a return to normal times. The cruises also brought much-needed variation to the everyday life of Korona and served as a substitute for foreign tourism.
Ulapalla a sailing ship represents freedom to many. A leisurely space where services are easily accessible. Everything is wrapped all the way down to the finished package.
“A certain forgetfulness of everyday life has been associated with ship tourism for quite some time. Even in the old travel descriptions, boarding was his own world, ”says the amanuensis Pauli Kivistö marine center Forum Marinum.
“The ship does not refer to any country or world on land, but to go there for relaxation,” says a professor of tourism research at the University of Lapland. Antti Honkanen.
Finn the cruise culture with its short 24-hour cruises is unique but not entirely unique.
“The world is more engaged in longer cruises, even lasting several weeks. In the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, for example, cruises are usually several days long, even at their shortest, ”says Kivistö
Another characteristic of Finnish cruise culture is that the voyage is folded on a ship that also carries route passengers and cargo. Elsewhere in the world, cruise ships are often used for pleasure on purpose.
The birth of cruise culture dates back to the 19th century steamships.
Until the first half of the 20th century, irregular boat travel was mainly fun for the elite. The word cruise also became more common only after the world wars, and according to Pauli Kivistö, it is still unclear where the word came from.
After the wars, the cruise became entertainment for the masses as society prospered and tourism expanded. Cruise tourism became affordable, leading to a dramatic increase in passenger numbers.
Express cruises like today, which may not even go ashore, came on the market in the 1960s and 1970s. At that time, Silja and Viking Line also took them into their own offer.
Flying however, it was still expensive, and Finns were taught to use ships to cross the border.
“The shipping companies gradually realized that their business may not be in transporting people from place A to place B. The ship began to offer services that used money,” says Antti Honkanen.
With the start of mass cruises, the entertainment and activity opportunities on ships expanded. According to Pauli Kivistö, the Swedish shipping company Stena Line may also be thanked or blamed for this.
In the 1960s, it tried to consolidate its position in the Finnish market with nightclubs open until the morning and bingo. There was little success, but Stena Line could also make the rather restrained cruise concepts of domestic shipping companies more entertaining.
Cruises At one time, they also brought new kinds of culinary experiences to Finns. In the early decades of mass cruises, flavors were found on the buffet tables that the countries just couldn’t find. Many products, most commonly shrimp, moved from seafood tables to dry land.
“In the 1960s, the world of ships’ dining was completely new and incomprehensible to many, even abundant compared to what is common on land,” Pauli Kivistö explains.
The ship’s buffet is still an important part of many ship voyages, but it has been accompanied by more traditional food restaurants.
“Eating is still very important on cruises,” says Antti Honkanen.
The food world in addition, the novelties were offered by duty-free shops. For a long time, their supply was not only cheaper but also more abundant than in the countries, which applied to sweets, alcohol and cosmetics. Many products were also almost impossible to obtain from the countries.
Sweets in particular have different iconic memories of childhood for different generations. For some they are salmiakia or hard fruit candies, for others they are triangular chocolate bars.
Since then, prices in ship stores have risen in many respects, but the image of clearly cheaper prices is still strong.
In the 1980s the ships offered a similar evening as Helsinki’s highest quality nightclubs, recalls the restaurant manager who has worked at Silja Line for 40 years Ani Blomqvist.
In the early years of his career, according to Blomqvist, cruises had a special style compared to modern times. The ship, for example, dressed more nicely for dinner, when nowadays the dress code is more mundane.
“If someone who traveled in the 1980s were to come on a cruise now, he or she might be a little upset by people who are casually dressed and laugh out loud. But that’s the way it is, the world is changing, ”Blomqvist says.
In the 1980s, people’s interest was also gained through various theme weeks, in which a lot of money was immersed. Samba, American, and Italian weeks were sought to be made as authentic as possible: staff outfits and restaurant meat were ordered from the destination country.
Nowadays, the same does not make sense, according to Blomqvist, as passengers are interested in the abundance of options instead of one theme.
The fact that in 1986 a French top chef was cooking on a virgin cruise also shows how money was spent years ago. Paul Bocuse.
“No one could afford that anymore,” Blomqvist notes.
Holiday tourism escapism is particularly pronounced in boat travel, as is a slightly more permissive atmosphere. Antti Honkanen reminds that until the 1980s, restaurants had strict codes of conduct. The ship might have been looser.
However, the partygoers are just one group of cruisers, albeit one that is often visible and loud. Many families with children prefer cruises, as do companies that take advantage of them for conference trips. Shipping companies have increasingly invested in various groups of tourists over the decades under the program and framework.
Whatever the purpose of the trip, passengers are united by the same attraction. It is directed at the cruise because of its ease.
“A cruise is a horribly easy way to start a holiday where everything is ready,” says Antti Honkanen.
Ani Blomqvist believes that the cruise will also come for safety reasons. For example, the language skills of older people may not be extensive, so they know that they can do in Finland on board. The cruiser also most often knows exactly what awaits him.
“There may be nostalgia for a boat trip: you get on a ship when you visit it smaller.”
In former times the cruises offered exoticism that has since been shed away. Boat travel has become an everyday form of travel, especially for southern Finns.
Antti Honkanen thinks that the golden times of cruises are probably behind us, because flying has become even cheaper. Visiting a ship is no more strange than traveling by train or bus.
“I think that if a company rewards its employees with a cruise, the staff isn’t terribly enthusiastic about it,” Honkanen says.