Destination image is one of the elements that most affect tourists’ decision-making processes (Baloglu and McCleary, 1999). Since a distinctive image can differentiate a destination from its competitors, destinations usually compete also via images (Urry, 1990). In this regard, cruise tourism is no exception, since “image is what sells cruises” (Klein, 2002). Over the past 30 years this has led to significant growth in advertising activities aiming to promote the cruise ship “as the destination in itself” (Wood, 2004). Similar trends can be observed among Italian cruise lines as well. Among different types of promotional texts, the importance of the visual ones in shaping the ways tourist represent, choose, consume and recall a place (Berger, 1972; Urry, 1990) has also been acknowledged in the field of cruise tourism. Starting from this background, this paper presents the methodology and main results of textual analysis carried on a sample of recent TV commercials broadcast by the major cruise lines operating in Italy. The final aim of this research is to identify what attributes of cruise ship as tourist destination have been portrayed, as well as what specific profiles of Italian cruisers and consumption styles have been advertised.
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