The Best Cruise Themed Films to watch if you're missing cruising


Steph - Cruise with Amber

What are the best cruise themed films to watch if you’re missing cruising? I think we’re all overdue a bit of vitamin sea and cruise life. So whilst we all eagerly wait for our next embarkation day (and perhaps to get us through lockdown) I’ve compiled a list of the films to remind me about life on board and some ports of call available can visit on a cruise. Spoiler alert: “Titanic” (1997) and “Speed 2: Cruise Control” (also 1997) are not featured on this list, but by all means include them, if you really want to.

Cruise Themed Films: Films set on ships

Cruise Themed Film #1: Gentleman Prefer Blondes (1953)

Whether you are a fan of American musical comedy or not, the ship certainly features heavily throughout this film; from embarkation day to the main dining room, portholed cabins and promenade decks. I’ve watched this film many times and it’s ago to favourite. Who can fail to be enthralled by Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe entering the main dining room with such sass and aplomb?  When you read the plot of this film I don’t that this is something that would be made in today’s climate, however for a bit of ship escapism it does the job.

Cruise Themed Film #2: Anything Goes (1956)

Another American musical comedy featuring a transatlantic crossing on an ocean liner. Set on the S. S. American is sailing between New York and England, expect mistaken identities, budding romances, and runaway heiresses. The ship action doesn’t really kick in until about half an hour into the film but when it does expect full-on nautical backdrops. The 1956 version of this film features a few of the similarities to the musical stage production, so if that is something that you’re after, perhaps opt for the 1936 version of this film instead.

Cruise Themed Film #3: Romance on the High Seas (1948)

Guess what? another American musical comedy. This one features Doris Day with some cracking outfits on an ocean cruise to Rio. Expect more mistrustful spouses, mistaken/false identities, a good dollop of ship and a few songs to boot. However I don’t think Doris would get on board with today’s security measures.

Cruise Themed Film #4: Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018)

Here we switch to computer animated comedy with the third instalment in the ‘Hotel Transylvania’ franchise. Rest assured, you don’t have to have watch the first two films but if you have kids and they are demanding you watch something with them then this might be a good option because it features a cruise ship. The plot in essence is that Count Dracula decides to take his family on a cruise ship for monsters. Mayhem naturally follows.

Cruise Themed Film #5: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

One for the expedition cruisers. Bill Murray stars as eccentric oceanographer Steve Zissou (both a parody of and homage to French diving pioneer Jacques Cousteau), who sets out to exact revenge on the “jaguar shark” that ate his partner Esteban. If you’re not a fan of Wes Anderson’s style of American comedy, then this might not exactly float your boat. However it features a stellar cast including Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Anjelica Huston, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum and Michael Gambon along with some lovely backdrops of Naples and the Italian Riviera.

Cruise Themed Film #6: An Affair to Remember (1957)

A good old romantic drama. In this 1957 remake of the 1939 film “Love Affair” Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr meet and fall in love aboard the transatlantic ocean liner, SS Constitution en route from Europe to New York. They agree to meet in six months at the Empire State Building.  Expect a real tearjerker. The 1993 film “Sleepless in Seattle” was also loosely based on “Love Affair” but doesn’t feature as much ship. If this film doesn’t make you order pink champagne when you’re next on board, I don’t know what will.

Cruise Themed Film #7: Royal Wedding (1951)

It’s romantic musical comedy time again! The film is set in 1947 around the time of Queen Elizabeth’s wedding. After their show closes in New York, a brother and sister dance act (Fred Astaire and Jane Powell) are booked for a job in London. Thankfully for us cruise lovers, they decide to travel there by ship and there are some lovely scenes on the promenade deck.  Like any film featuring Fred Astaire expect some iconic dance scenes.


Personally I don’t think there’s enough of the ship in this film. However, I have still included on this list – mainly for the part where Tom and Ellen try to keep their balance while dancing in front of passengers on a stormy section of the crossing. I can just imagine that a lot of very talented cruise ship performers can relate to this scene.

Cruise Themed Film #8: Shall We Dance (1937)

This iconic film stars Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and is firmly rooted in classic American musical comedy (a running theme it seems on this list). Astaire and Rogers meet on a cruise ship bound for New York. If you love Gershwin then expect some classic numbers including “Shall We Dance” (naturally) “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” and “They Can’t Take That Away from Me”. Delve in to almost 2 hours of pure escapism. While this film doesn’t feature a ship as prominently as other films in this part of the list, there is a wonderful dance scene featuring Astaire in the ship’s boiler room.

Cruise Themed Films: River Cruises

Cruise Themed Film #9: Chocolat (2000)

For those of you dreaming of a French river cruise, this is the film for you. Featuring Johnny Depp and Juliet Binoche’s it’s also a feast for chocoholics. Expect some sumptuous scenery featuring Burgundy and the Dordogne (film locations included the medieval villages of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain and Beynac-et-Cazenac). It’s an absolute feast for the senses –my tip before watching it is to get a roast chicken cooking and ready to eat by the time you finish watching and remember to stock up on plenty of chocolate.

Cruise Themed Films: Ports of Call

These films are not so much ‘cruise-themed’. If the itinerary is more the priority ship on cruise holidays, then these films might go some way satiating your wanderlust until you get back on ship. These films encapsulate some key ports of call that you might have experienced on your cruise holidays.

Caribbean Cruise Port Themed Film: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Johnny Depp returns once again on this list, but this time he’s plumped for ocean cruising in the Caribbean. Who knew a good old pirate adventure (originally based on a theme park ride) coupled with plenty of sunshine, white sands and a great cast could be so good? The movie was filmed in St Vincent in the Grenadines, so this is the film to go to if you’re missing your Caribbean cruises. Look out for Petit Tabac Island and Wallilabou Bay.

Norwegian Fjords Cruise Port Themed Films: Frozen (2013) & Frozen 2 (2019)

If you’re yearning for the Norwegian Fjords, then both these animated classics might go some way to helping. Both films are good alternatives to watch with the kids if Hotel Transylvania 3 didn’t do it for you. The Nordic influences and landscapes are scattered throughout the film. So until we can visit Bergen and the Nærøyfjord again, these might be the films to keep us going.

Mediterranean Cruise Port Themed Films

Tea with Mussolini (1999) and A Room with a View (1985)

For those of you missing Mediterranean cruises calling at Livorno for Florence, this is the film for you. Directed by Franco Zaffirelli and featuring some impressive performances from Judy Dench, Maggie Smith, Cher, Lily Tomlin and Joan Plowright, the film does not scrimp on stunning shots of Florence. Couple this with “A Room with a View” (1985) and “Inferno” (2016) for a full-on Florence-Fest of an afternoon.

La Dolce Vita (1960)

Another film if you’re missing Mediterranean cruises. This time Rome acts as our backdrop. Director Federico Fellini captures the essence of the Eternal City in this film about a series of stories following a week in the life of a philandering paparazzo journalist living in Rome. Keep an eye out for notable backdrops, such as the Trevi Fountain, the Coliseum, Via Veneto, and Piazza del Popolo. It’s almost a shore excursion to Rome in a film.

To Catch a Thief (1955)

Cary Grant turns up once on my list again, but this time as a retired jewel thief who sets out to prove his innocence after being suspected of returning to his former occupation. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and also starring Grace Kelly, the French Riviera features heavily in this romantic thriller. Primarily filmed on location in the south of France, expect plenty of scenes including Cannes, Nice and Monaco. Bonus trivia: it was whilst filming “To Catch a Thief” that Grace Kelly first met Prince Rainier of Monaco.

Iron Man 2 (2010)

If you want another dose of Monaco but in an action format, then might I suggest. Iron Man 2 which heavily features scenes from the Monaco Grand Prix. Monaco’s Hotel de Paris also makes a brief appearance in the movie. Continuing the action format, Monaco also features in a couple of Bond films such as GoldenEye (1995) and Never Say Never Again (1983) plus with Bond, we’ve got formal night covered.

I hope that has given you a few ideas for your cruise film fest until we resume sailing (or even lockdown). I’d love to know if you’ve seen any of the list and what you thought of them Are there any other films you would add? Any classics that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below. 

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