Are you a hardcore cruising fan? We wouldn’t blame you for being a bit down. The complete shutdown of cruising since March due to the coronavirus pandemic is keeping you away from your favorite floating hideaways, and it doesn’t look like you’ll be back at sea anytime soon.
That said, you’re not completely cut off from your favorite ships — you still can see them in movies and in television shows.
Since streaming movies and television programming is pretty much all we’re doing these days (and we’re guessing that’s the case for you, too), we’ve put together this list of some our favorite onscreen entertainment that includes at least a glimpse of a cherished cruise vessel.
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In some cases, these movies and shows are available on streaming services such as Hulu (if you’re not a subscriber, get a free trial), Amazon Prime, fuboTV, Sling TV and FandangoNow. Others can be found on YouTube, iTunes, or at Redbox kiosks.
“Mighty Cruise Ships”
You’ll get much more than a glimpse of your favorite cruise ship with this series. Each of the 18 episodes, which originally aired in 2014, 2017 and 2019 on Canada’s Discovery Channel, focus on a single cruise vessel in fabulously minute detail, offering a behind-the-scenes look at how they run. Among the vessels featured in the series are Celebrity Solstice, Carnival Vista, Royal Caribbean‘s Symphony of the Seas and MSC Divina. The series also includes ships operated by Viking, Star Clippers, Azamara and Ponant.
“Mighty Cruise Ships” was a spinoff of this series, which began airing in 2008 on Canada’s Discovery Channel and has completed 10 seasons. While it generally focuses on commercial and military vessels, from the container ship Emma Maersk to the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, it also offers several wonderful episodes on cruise ships. Among the vessels profiled: Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, Norwegian Breakaway, Wind Surf and MSC Meraviglia.
“Ocean Treks with Jeff Corwin”
Available on: ABC, Hulu, Ocean.com
Every episode of this 4-year-old travel series starring television personality Jeff Corwin will get you at least a peek at one the vessels under the Carnival Corp. umbrella of brands. The giant cruise company, which owns Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America and six other major lines, sponsors the series, which has been airing on Saturday mornings on ABC. It follows Corwin as he heads off ships in various port towns for a perfect day of adventure.
“The Voyager with Josh Garcia”
Like “Ocean Treks,” this is a series sponsored by Carnival Corp. that’s generously filled with cameos of the line’s vessels and is all about things to do during port calls, but with less of a focus on adventure. The host, video journalist Josh Garcia, sets off from vessels for a day of off-the-beaten-path exploring. His goal: Meeting locals who can share their history, life stories and exotic foods. It originally aired on NBC from 2016 to 2019.
“Building the World’s Most Luxurious Cruise Ship”
Available on: YouTube
This is can’t-miss television for Regent Seven Seas Cruises fans. The two-part documentary chronicles the creation of the luxury line’s Seven Seas Explorer, which was the most expensive luxury ship ever built at the time it debuted in 2016. Even today, only one ship — Seven Seas Explorer’s just-unveiled sister, Seven Seas Splendor — rivals it in opulence. What we love about this documentary is the amazing behind-the-scenes access that Regent gave the filmmakers during the ship’s construction. You see every little twist and turn in the making of a new icon of the seas.
“Jack and Jill”
Yes, we know: This is widely considered one of the all-time worst movies ever made. It only scored 3% on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer! But, if you’re a Royal Caribbean fan jonesing for a glimpse of one of the line’s giant Oasis Class-vessels, there’s simply no better movie. We won’t even bother going into the inane plot of this 2011 comedy, which stars Adam Sandler (playing both a male and female role). Just fast-forward to the shipboard scenes, which were shot on board Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas.
“Speed 2: Cruise Control”
This 1997 action flick starring Sandra Bullock got almost as bad reviews as Jack and Jill (which is a pity, as the original “Speed” is a classic). Still, we mention it because it was filmed on one of the great luxury ships of the past 30 years: The vessel now known as Star Legend. Star Legend sails for Windstar Cruises these days, but it originally debuted as the last new ship for legendary (and long-defunct) luxury operator Royal Viking Line. Back then, it was called Royal Viking Queen. By the time the film was made, it had moved to the Seabourn fleet, sailing as Seabourn Legend.
Available on: Netflix
Another giant Royal Caribbean ship, Harmony of the Seas, is the star of this somewhat predictable “dramedy” from 2018, which stars Kelsey Grammer, Kristen Bell and Seth Rogen. The plot twist here is that Bell’s character, left at the altar, ends up on her honeymoon cruise with her estranged father (Grammer), with resulting drama and hijinks. Royal Caribbean lovers can make it a game of spotting all the cool Harmony of the Seas features, from the ship’s nine-deck-high zip line to the Rising Tide Bar. Scenes also were shot at Royal Caribbean’s private beach retreat in Haiti.
“Cruising With Jane McDonald”
Available on: YouTube
Former cruise ship entertainer Jane McDonald highlights a different river or ocean cruise every episode on this British television series, which ran from 2017 to this year (a new host will soon be taking over the show). Recent episodes have featured a wide range of vessels, including Oceania Cruises’ Marina, Silversea’s Silver Shadow and Princess’ Sun Princess.
Just in case “Mighty Ships” doesn’t provide you with enough of a giant ship fix, the television world also offers the similarly named “Monster Ships” and, as its name suggests, the eight-part series from 2019 brings an up-close look at massive vessels of all kinds — one per 42-minute episode. In addition to a gargantuan car carrier and a crazy-looking heavy lift vessel, the series (which aired on the Science Channel) includes two ships designed for cruising: Crown Princess and Royal Clipper.
“Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked”
If you’re even the least bit an “Alvin and the Chipmunks” fan, this is your cruise movie. The third installment of the live-action chipmunks series, which dates to 2011, is set on cruise giant Carnival’s 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream. Or, at least, it is — until the chipmunks get blown away while flying a kite and end up on a deserted island. External shots and some interiors were filmed on the vessel. Some ship scenes, alas, were shot in a soundstage.
“Out to Sea”
You can’t go wrong with this Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau matchup, which involves the legendary comedic duo delivering their schtick as dance hosts on a cruise ship. Dating to 1997, it takes place on what’s now the Marella Dream, a 1,132-passenger vessel in the fleet of British line Marella Cruises. Holland America fans will know this ship better as the old Westerdam (which was its name from 1988 to 2002). Just don’t confuse it with the new Westerdam (Holland America likes to recycle names). It also sailed eight years for Costa Cruises.
“The Love Boat: Next Wave”
To make our list, a movie or television show had to feature a vessel still in service.
But we really can’t do a story on cruise-related entertainment without at least mentioning “The Love Boat,” which featured a Princess Cruises ship that’s no longer in operation. While it doesn’t offer a glimpse into a vessel you can book, this is, quite simply, the most iconic cruise ship show of all time. Indeed, many in the cruise industry credit the series, which ran from 1977 to 1987, for kicking off the great growth in cruising we’ve seen over the past four decades.
“The Love Boat” was set on the original Pacific Princess, which sailed for Princess from 1977 to 2002. But it was filmed not just on that ship, but also several others. If you want to see what all the fuss is about, you can find the show on MeTV stations on Sundays and on YouTube — or buy the DVD box set of the first four seasons at Amazon.
Also, in 1988, the series was revived with a short-lived remake, “The Love Boat: Next Wave” — and it was filmed on the Sun Princess, which still sails. Unfortunately, it’s not available on any major streaming platform. But, if you can find it, please sound off in the comments below and let us know where we can watch it, too.
Looking for more of a cruise fix? Try these stories:
- How to plan a cruise with points and miles
- The most exciting new ocean ships of 2020
- The most exciting new river ships of 2020
- 6 new cruise itineraries you should book right now
- The best cruise lines for solo travelers
- The best Caribbean cruises for every type of traveler
- 5 cruise lines to try if you just can’t stand being around kids on vacation
Featured image courtesy of Royal Caribbean.