This article discusses the popular, but scarcely investigated, Tarakan travels. These holiday trips for Dutch school boys and men were organized by the Dutch shipping company Stoomvaart Maatschappij Nederland (SMN) in the 1930’s. In the summers of 1935, 1936 and 1939 ms Tarakan set sail to Norway to give hundreds of boys the holiday of their lives. The Tarakan was called a ‘camp ship’. The simple accommodation and facilities of the cargo vessel made the Tarakan a ship on which the boys could camp at sea. The origin of the journeys is attributed to economic causes: the journeys were one of the activities by which the SMN tried to overcome the economic crisis of the 1930s. However, the advent of the trips cannot fully be understood from an economic perspective. Combining a variety of sources — travel journals, brochures, newspapers, letters, songbooks and company records — the cultural dimension of these travels will be analyzed. This article will discuss the activities onboard, how the trips were organized and with which organizations the SMN cooperated. Also similarities and differences between the Tarakan trips and the Jugendführerfahrten of the Hitlerjugend will be examined to answer the question of whether or not these journeys were unique within Europe. Together with a focus on the Dutch media and their reporting about the Tarakan travels, this research provides a reflection on the cultural meaning of these cruises for boys in the 1930’s.
- Youth tourism
- Cruise history