The movies and cruise vacations actually have a lot in common: fascinating ports of call, making friends with interesting people, new sensory experiences, the constant change of scenery. When you think about it, it’s no surprise many classic comedies and romances are set aboard cruise ships, including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) with Marilyn Monroe, Royal Wedding (1951), An Affair to Remember (1957) with Cary Grant, the more recent and kid-friendly Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, and the long-running television series Love Boat.
Turner Classic Movies has long been savvy to the appeal of the on-board film festival, bringing the romance and glamour of its epic film library to the high seas. For 2019 and 2020, TCM partners with Disney Cruises for the annual TCM Classic Cruise, a five-day paradise for film enthusiasts that includes interactions and panels with legendary Hollywood figures, screenings of movie classics inside Disney Magic’s state-of-the-art theaters and other movie-related activities.
While this October’s TCM cruise from New York to Bermuda is sold out (with a waiting list), you can plan ahead for the Oct. 4–10, 2020 edition, sailing from Port Canaveral, Florida, to Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Castaway Cay. Celebrity Cruises, meanwhile, partners with the Vero Beach Wine & Film Festival for an all-out luxury variation of the film festival experience in December.
That said, several cruise lines offer families screenings of recent favorites and vintage blockbusters on both poolside and indoor theaters that capture a few aspects of the film festival experience, including meeting fellow film lovers. While outdoor activities and ports of call may be what draw travelers to certain cruises, a movie or two with like-minded travelers aboard these ships can be the perfect close to a busy day:
- Disney Cruise Line, Buena Vista Theater: Throughout the year, the preferred cruise line of TCM has its marquee four-story Buena Vista Theater open to all, screening a mix of new films as well as classic Disney favorites. Better still, the Buena Vista Theater has showings throughout the day, so you can easily work a movie into your schedule or stop by should the weather change. Show times for what’s playing are listed on the ship’s newsletter or the app. The theaters are designed for all ages, with 1920s- and 30s-themed decor for an old-timey feel, a cool contrast to the high-tech, often 3-D movies on the screen.
- Carnival Cruise Line’s Dive-In Movies and IMAX: Carnival’s complimentary Dive-In Movies offer the option of enjoying a show from a lounge chair or, on a warm night, from the pool on most of the line’s ships. Family-friendly movies are screened early in the evening with more adult-oriented “date night” flicks scheduled for later at night. The Carnival Vista and Carnival Horizon, meanwhile, exclusively offer the only IMAX screens at sea for an extra fee.
- Princess Cruises’ Movies Under the Stars: Passengers aboard Princess ships have access to a poolside amphitheater that not only screens first-run flicks but also live concerts and sporting events. Since 2004, this venue has been a popular attraction on Princess ships, especially with complimentary popcorn at night, cookies and milk during daytime hours, movie-themed cocktails for grown-ups, and extra cushions and blankets for cooler evenings.
- Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Outdoor Movies: Royal Caribbean ships are traditionally pretty large, so it’s not a surprise they would have a 220-square-foot movie screen for you to catch all of the action on first-run films. At no additional cost to you, sit poolside under the stars and catch the latest blockbuster movie. There are even opportunities to catch live sporting events.
With technology advancing faster than ever, children globally are becoming attached to devices. Adults too. Our Netflix queue and ever-expanding inbox call our names even when we’re on vacation. We carry distractions with us everywhere, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to truly connect with your loved ones.