Purpose The purpose of this paper is to highlight the use of small river ferries as an under-researched but novel mode of travel which enhances and brings new dimensions to tourist experiences of travelling landscapes. Design/methodology/approach The study used a mixed methods approach including participant observation, a survey and interviews with ferry users and staff at one river crossing in South West England. Findings The ferry attracts tourists as a different and practical mode of transport. The river crossing provides an experience of being on water, and the material structure of the ferry significantly shapes on-board interactions whilst providing new perspectives of place. Research limitations/implications This article draws on data collected for a study of ferry crossings conducted at three sites in Devon and Cornwall, England, using multiple methods. The material presented in this article focuses on one site and draws on four interviews, twelve reflection cards and observations. Social implications The research highlighted the extent to which the ferry is dependent on tourist use. At the same time, it reveals the extent to which the crossing enriches the tourist experience and celebrates a ferry’s contribution to local place-making. Originality/value The majority of research on ferry crossings focuses on commuter experiences, marine crossings and larger passenger vessels. This article makes an original contribution to literature on ferries, as it offers a perspective on tourist experiences of river ferry crossings, reveals how the ferry structure influences interrelations on-board and provides distinctive insights into place through a focus on movement across water.



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International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research



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School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences