With Britons ordered to stay indoors during the coronavirus outbreak, how can you relive the experience of being at sea from within your four walls? One couple went viral on social media as they recreated their cancelled cruise at home, sitting in front of a TV screen showing moving footage of the ocean blue while in their dresssing gowns and sharing a bottle of wine. Yoiu could even hear a ship’s horn honking away. There’s no need to go that far, but here we look at the TV shows, films, books and social media that might help you feel like you’re back on board…
Cruising has had a lot of air time recently, thanks mainly to Cruising With Jane McDonald and a series about Seven Seas Explorer called Secrets Of The World’s Most Expensive Cruise Ships (both available on the Channel 5 catch-up service My5).
Documentary channel Discovery Science regularly reruns Mighty Ships on vessels including Crystal Serenity, Norwegian Epic and Le Boreal (all three are showing on March 29), while Yesterday series Monster Ships includes Royal Clipper (available on UKTV Play) and there is an Impossible Engineering episode about Oasis-class ships.
MSC Meraviglia is featured in the Channel 4 programme Building Giants, now available on demand, while Britbox has a two-part documentary on the QE2. Sadly, a Channel 4 series about the world’s biggest ship, Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, due to air this month, has been postponed until later in the year.
There are lighthearted shows too. QE2 also pops up in an episode of Keeping Up Appearances, Sea Fever, available on Gold or Britbox. Columbo, reguarly showing on 5 USA, is faced with a murder on a cruise ship in Troubled Waters and the same channel airs Murder She Wrote, in which Jessica Fletcher solves a mystery death at sea in My Johnny Lies Over The Ocean.
For a laugh on the ocean wave, you can’t beat the Frasier episode Voyage Of The Damned where the fictional Seattle radio host is invited to give a lecture on a cruise ship. It is next due to be screened on 4seven at 4pm on April 1.
Another US comedy, Everybody Loves Raymond, showing regularly on Channel 4, has an episode called Cruising With Marie where the titular character has to share an inside cabin with his mother and is mistaken for her lover. Catch it next on 4seven on April 1.
And who can forget the vintage US comedy series The Love Boat?
Moving on, from nostalgia to the future… if you want a glimpse of what cruising could be like in space, see the new HBO series Avenue 5, now showing on Sky One. Finally, real die-hard addicts even have their own Cruise Channel on Sky 199.
Aside from the Titanic and Poseidon movies, cruise ships have had leading roles in Speed 2: Cruise Control (Seabourn Legend, now Windstar’s Star Legend), the Kelsey Grammer comedy Like Father (Harmony of the Seas) and the Adam Sandler film Jack And Jill (Allure of the Seas). Sandler also pops up again in Going Overboard.
For younger viewers, Carnival Dream stars in the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie Chipwrecked. And even Marilyn Monroe fans sometimes forget that her 1953 hit Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was set on a cruise ship.
Cruising has always been a popular subject for literature in almost every genre. Lovers of crime fiction who were spellbound by Agatha Christie’s Death On The Nile might enjoy the modern equivalents, The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, Mr Monk Gets On Board by Hy Conrad or Wife Overboard by Steve Colbourne.
The more romantic aspects of cruising were covered in Vita Sackville-West’s No Signposts In The Sea and provide the background for today’s authors including Milly Johnson (Here Come The Girls) and Celia Imrie (Sail Away).
To lose yourself in ship reviews, search for British-based vloggers Gary Bembridge (Tips For Travellers), 26-year-old Emma Le Teace (Emma Cruises) and enthusiastic duo Ben and David (Cruise With Ben And David). Beware: once you start trawling through cruise videos on YouTube you might not surface for days.
Cruisers are spoilt for choice on Facebook with fan groups for just about every line and for many individual ships. But there is a tendency for some of them to become forums for mean-spirited rows over tipping, dress codes, drinks packages or – at the moment – cancellations due to coronavirus.
Things tend to stay light-hearted on Cruising Isn’t Just For Old People and Cruise Addicts Community. Follow @TelegraphCruise for news and reviews on Twitter. My own blog, Shipmonk, also has a presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Why not DIY?
Days were when you would shoot a reel of 36 photos on holiday, have them developed and proudly display them in a photo album. Nowadays, we might take hundreds of digital pictures on our camera or phone, post a few on Facebook and never really look at them again.
Why not go through your old photos and memory cards, enjoy them in high resolution on your big screen at home by using services such as Apple TV, upload them into picture books using sites like Photobox or mix them with video clips, voiceover and music on apps like iMovie? Perhaps you could become the next vlogger!