These Are The Cruise-Related Shows and Movies You Have to See (2024)

These Are The Cruise-Related Shows and Movies You Have to See (1)

Queen Mary Docked in The Port of Long Beach (Photo: cvalle/Shutterstock)

These Are The Cruise-Related Shows and Movies You Have to See (2)

Queen Mary Docked in The Port of Long Beach (Photo: cvalle/Shutterstock)

There are an estimated 34 films and 12 television shows that are set on cruise ships – and that likely doesn’t even include all the fictional depictions of cruise travel, let alone documentaries and reality TV programs from “The Bachelorette” to “The Real Love Boat” that have been filmed aboard.

From Titanic to The Love Boat to random shows that use the historic Cunard liner Queen Mary (permanently moored in Long Beach, CA) as a setpiece, this list of films and television shows, spanning multiple eras and genres, should be a perfect primer for anyone looking to vicariously set sail on the open seas.

On This Page

  • Where It All Began: “The Love Boat” and “Love Boat: The Next Wave”
  • Netflix TV Originals: “1899” and “High Seas”
  • The G.O.A.T.: “Titanic”
  • Classic and Not-So-Classic: “The Poseidon Adventure” and “Poseidon”
  • Netflix Film Originals: “In Love and Deep Water,” “Like Father” and “Yucatan”
  • Non-Netflix Movies: “After the Sunset,” “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” and “Let Them All Talk”
  • The Other Side of the List: “Jack and Jill” and “Speed 2: Cruise Control”
  • Our Favorite Cruise Comedy: Out to Sea
  • Honorable Mentions: “Deep Rising,” “Ghost Ship” and “Legend of 1900”

Where It All Began: “The Love Boat” and “Love Boat: The Next Wave”

These Are The Cruise-Related Shows and Movies You Have to See (4)

The Love Boat and Princess Cruises are forever intertwined (Photo: Paramount Plus)

No discussion of cruise ships featured on celluloid can bypass “The Love Boat.” From 1977 to 1986, Captain Merrill Stubing — played by beloved character actor Gavin MacLeod — and his jolly crew shuttled guests on Princess Cruises’ original Pacific Princess. The show introduced a whole generation to cruising and thus goes down as one of the most pivotal influences on the then-fledgling industry.

But did you know the program had a sequel?

Lesser known were two seasons of “Love Boat: The Next Wave” in 1998 and 1999, wherein Robert Urich was cast as Captain Jim Kennedy, master of Princess’ 1995-launched Sun Princess. Although less popular overall, the show did feature a reunion episode bringing the characters of Captain Stubing, Dr. Adam "Doc" Bricker, Isaac Washington, Vicki Stubing and Julie McCoy from the original program together again.

Netflix TV Originals: “1899” and “High Seas”

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1899 is set aboard a doomed ocean liner (Photo: Netflix)

If you’re seeking “Lost” meets “Titanic,” Netflix’s singular season of the mysterious “1899” might just fit the bill. The fictional steamship Kerberos and its emigrant passengers get drawn into a Bermuda Triangle-esque, multilingual (German and English) period thriller.

Or in Spanish, dubbed in English, is “High Seas,” another mystery series — think concealed Nazi gold and curious onboard deaths — set on a fictitious 1940s ocean liner inspired by the SS Normandie and Cunard’s Queen Mary.

The G.O.A.T.: “Titanic”

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There's no denying the popularity of the 1997-blockbuster, Titanic (Photo: Paramount/Fox)

Just as “The Love Boat” is considered the quintessential cruise TV show, James Cameron’s 1997-blockbuster “Titanic” will probably be forever recognized as the most ubiquitous movie to depict an ocean liner.

Despite its disastrous outcome, the famed White Star Line vessel continues to inspire cruise travel to this day and was the catalyst for its modern safety provisions in the form of SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea).

Classic and Not-So-Classic: “The Poseidon Adventure” and “Poseidon”

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The Poseidon Adventure (Photo: Fox)

While not all films about cruising are disaster movies, several are, especially “The Poseidon Adventure” and its 2006 remake “Poseidon.”

Narrowly based on the time a rogue wave did actually hit the RMS Queen Mary during a troop crossing in December 1942 but without the ship capsizing, the earlier picture dramatizes the fictional Poseidon completely flipping over. The classic even filmed parts on the aforementioned Cunarder.

Its remake, the 2006 "Poseidon” retells the story on a contemporary cruise ship, albeit in subpar fashion. Though the sets were inspired by Cunard's Queen Mary 2, the film is let down by a weak script, middling acting and the rendering of the CGI ship that features misplaced lifeboats oriented in the wrong direction.

Netflix Film Originals: “In Love and Deep Water,” “Like Father” and “Yucatan”

These Are The Cruise-Related Shows and Movies You Have to See (8)

Sovereign departing Civitavecchia, the port for Rome, at sunset (Photo: Aaron Saunders/Cruise Critic)

Look no further than Netflix for a collection of movies that take place on cruise ships. “In Love and Deep Water” is yet another recent foreign film (Japanese) dubbed in English, but this one is a romantic comedy set on MSC Cruises’ contemporary MSC Bellissima.

Similarly aboard Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas is the dramedy “Like Father” starring Kelsey Grammer and Kristen Bell. And among the public spaces featured in the film is the ship’s signature FlowRider surf simulator.

Showcasing a ship that has since been scrapped is “Yucatan” aboard Pullmantur Cruises’ Sovereign, formerly Royal Caribbean’s Sovereign of the Seas. Pullmantur was dedicated to the Spanish-speaking market, so this is one more comedy that is dubbed in English.

Non-Netflix Movies: “After the Sunset,” “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” and “Let Them All Talk”

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Lucas Hedges and Meryl Streep in "Let Them All Talk" (Photo: HBO Max)

Back when it was named Radisson Seven Seas Cruises in 2004, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and its Seven Seas Navigator were highlighted in the Pierce Brosnan and Salma Hayek caper “After the Sunset", with the ship playing host to a diamond collection while docked in Nassau.

Then in 2011, the playful “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” partially showcased Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Dream before the family-friendly characters were cast overboard.

Even more recently, 2020’s “Let Them All Talk” starred Meryl Streep on Cunard’s iconic modern ocean liner, Queen Mary 2. It’s the one film on this list that extensively displays the most actual ship-board venues, from the Queens Grill suite accommodations and restaurant to the Illuminations planetarium and G32 nightclub, as it was shot onboard an actual seven-day crossing.

The Other Side of the List: “Jack and Jill” and “Speed 2: Cruise Control”

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Speed 2: Cruise Control is often lambasted, but is largely filmed aboard a real ship (Photo: Fox)

Not every film set aboard a cruise ship is good. Two of the most lambasted films, “Jack and Jill” and “Speed 2: Cruise Control”, are perhaps more infamous than famous.

“Jack and Jill” takes place on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas, which is generally well presented but also tainted by the obnoxious male and female twin characters portrayed by Adam Sandler.

Flat-out making a mockery of the ship and brand, however, is “Speed 2: Cruise Control,” in which Seabourn Cruise Line’s Seabourn Legend (now Windstar Cruises’ stretched Star Legend) is hijacked by a crazed terrorist played by Willem Dafoe. Even the talents of Sandra Bullock and Dafoe aren’t enough to keep the film afloat as the floundering ship and its bumbling crew are shown in anything but their usual luxurious light.

Our Favorite Cruise Comedy: Out to Sea

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Out to Sea is set aboard a Holland America Line ship and stars Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon (Photo: Fox)

The best-ever cruise film, in our humble opinion, is “Out to Sea,” which came out the same year as 1997’s “Titanic.”

In what is essentially “Grumpy Old Men” at sea, the comedic greats Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon embark on Holland America Line’s Westerdam of 1986 as dance hosts. Under the hilariously oppressive oversight of cruise director Gil Godwin (played by Brent Spiner), their antics play out on the since-retired and -scrapped ship, as well as, once again, the classic Queen Mary — now permanently docked in Long Beach, California — doubling as the Westerdam’s ballroom, casino, shops and more.

Honorable Mentions: “Deep Rising,” “Ghost Ship” and “Legend of 1900”

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The Legend of 1900 (Photo: New Line Cinema)

Sometimes missing from such lists but definitely worth mentioning are the horror films of “Deep Rising” and “Ghost Ship,” both of which feature excellent production design on a fictional cruise ship and ocean liner respectively – the latter even concluding with a shot of Norwegian Cruise Line’s former 1993-built Norwegian Wind at Vancouver’s now defunct Ballantyne Pier.

And though set on a fictional ship and filmed on a soundstage, “Legend of 1900” is a lovely tale of a world-class pianist who has never known life outside of the ocean liner he was born on, complete with a beautiful score from composer Ennio Morricone.

These Are The Cruise-Related Shows and Movies You Have to See (2024)
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