Ship Ahoy: A History of Maritime Passenger Industry Marketing

  • Blaine J. Branchik School of Business, Quinnipiac University, Hamden, Connecticut,


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to periodize the history of the marketing of the maritime passenger industry, a unique industry that has thrived for over 150 years despite dramatic technological and social changes.

Methodology/approach – This study adapts Hollander’s (2005) approach and incorporates secondary data from a variety of expert works and government data as well as primary data such as fare lists, advertisements, and promotional materials.

Findings - This study finds that the industry’s marketing history can be divided into six periods: (1) Immigration (mid-19th century to 1914); (2) World War I (1914-1918); (3) Tourism, alcohol and
luxury travel (1918 to 1939); (4) World War II (1939 to 1945); (5) Jet age emergence (1945 to 1970);
and (6) Cruising for all (1970 to the present day). Increasing focus on small niche markets, operational efficiencies, and mass-consumed luxury are trends for the future.

Implications/limitations – This study provides practitioners and academicians insights into how an industry can completely reinvent all elements of its marketing strategy in response to changing social and technological forces. Space constraints limit the information mostly to British, American, and German shipping lines.

Originality/value – Although much has been written about maritime history, no known work has examined the history of the marketing of the maritime passenger industry.


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