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Is The Fan Experience Cruising Towards Gentrification? Written by on February 3, 2024

With Royal Caribbean Cruises coming on board as a Eurovision sponsor, what does this say about the rising cost of the fan experience? Phil Dore has some thoughts…

Just after New Year, we all saw the slightly cryptic announcement from the EBU that “the Caribbean is coming to Eurovision”. After a brief flurry of speculation that we might see Cuba (the only EBU associate member in the Caribbean) grace the Malmo stage came the rather prosaic reveal that Royal Caribbean are now Eurovision’s “official cruise line”, which is apparently something we needed.

Rightly or wrongly, having an official cruise line carries a whiff of gentrification to the Song Contest, with a sponsor selling a product that will be outside of the price range of many of the people watching the show. The company is offering Eurovision-themed cruises in May, with viewing parties, karaoke and themed menus – but they aren’t exactly cheap. For seven nights cruising around Italy, Greece and Croatia, the starting price is £2,493 per person. If your wallet just imploded at the mere mention of that, they have a two-day cruise from Southampton to Paris, but even that will cost you £406 upwards.

Cost aside, there are other reasons not to want to go on a cruise. Their carbon footprint is enormous, and they dump toxic waste into the sea. Friends Of The Earth have called cruise ships “a catastrophe for the environment” and have accused Royal Caribbean of greenwashing by fitting scrubbers to their ships that convert the carbon emissions from air pollution to sea pollution. There are social as well as environmental criticisms. Cruise tourists bring significantly fewer economic benefits to local communities than overnight visitors while still contributing to the problems of over-tourism.

The Inflation Of Love

Whatever you think of the decision, there’s probably a very simple reason the EBU is taking this sponsorship. Holding Eurovision is expensive and getting more so. We’ve seen the effects of this in rising ticket prices at Eurovision events. The growing cost of live music is also affecting fan events like the London Eurovision Party, which is now offering VIP packages for £540 in an effort to cover their expenses. The standard tickets for £74.75 are far more plentiful, but even that is a big jump from last year’s price of £47.13. With these developments, it’s hard not to worry that the fan experience may be gentrifying.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that before this, the Eurovision fandom was ever some anti-capitalist commune. If a key part of what makes you a fan is travelling to Sweden to spend the week there, let’s not pretend there was never an income barrier to that.

But the trend of ever more expensive events is a concerning one.

About The Author: Phil Dore

Phil Dore is a nurse living in Cardiff, and host of the Eurovision Wars podcast, which explores the intersection of Eurovision and geopolitics. He is on Bluesky and zarathustraspake on Instagram.

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