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Cruising Onto Our Television Screens

Cruising Onto Our Television Screens

Cruising – the holiday choice that once dare not speak its name – has gone from zero to hero. Time was, the only film-clips featuring ships was when royalty or Hollywood stars would arrive at Southampton on board a mighty liner. Pathé News would often show this in more detail in local cinemas while the paparazzi of the day snapped such celebrity-infused news for the likes of Tatler. Even Judith Chalmers or John Carter rarely climbed a gangway to showcase life at sea on ‘Wish You Were Here?’ and ‘Holiday’. Nowadays when we turn on our televisions it seems there’s no escape from the wonderful world of cruising.

What started out as ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentaries that took every opportunity to cast cruising as an escape for the geriatric or the eccentric have morphed into ‘must-watch’ viewing. And it seems we have fallen in love with these regular doses of seaborne shenanigans if the ratings are to be believed. Slowly, slowly, cruising is edging towards cool. It’s not exactly the hipsters’ choice yet, but it’s shaking off its fuddy-duddy image and drawing in a more diverse, more discerning crowd.

Now in the third season, the travelogue ‘Cruising with Jane McDonald’ has been a runaway success for Channel Five – it’s even been elevated to a prime-time slot on Friday nights at 9pm. The producers have been creative with their choice of ships to reflect the variety of options. Yes, Jane has had her fair share of Caribbean escapades on towering ships where she’s in the company of three thousand other souls, but this life-long sun-worshipper has also braved the chills of a cruise around Iceland to witness a spectacular encounter with whales, not to mention climbing on board a Lilliputian ship of the Majestic Line to come face-to-face with puffins on the Isle of Mull.

Her next adventure, to be screened tomorrow night, takes her along the Mekong – the most legendary river in Southeast Asia. Aboard Amadara of AMA Waterways she sails from Vietnam to Cambodia to witness the sun rise over the world-famous temple at Angkor Wat. I can’t wait to see this lass from Wakefield munching on silk worms and crickets amongst other Oriental ‘delicacies’.

On March 2nd the series comes to an end on a high note along the Mississippi when this irrepressible guide to cruising goes back in time aboard the world’s largest steamboat - the American Queen. Jane takes a trip to Oak Alley Plantation imagining herself as an extra in ‘Gone with the Wind’, before ending her adventure with a trip to Graceland - the former home of Elvis Presley. We’ll have to wait and see what she chooses for her song to bring this series to a rousing finale. Could it be “Hard Headed Woman” or “Can’t Help Falling in Love”? I have it on good authority that another series is already ‘in the can’.

Lovers of all things cruise needn’t be worried about going cold turkey - on Thursday March 1st, ‘The Cruise’ will return to our screens at 8.30pm on ITV. The latest series, which comprises three weekly episodes, will follow crew and guests on the 3,100-passenger Star Princess as the ship sets sail to one of the world’s last frontiers - Alaska. From huskies to halibut, a cruise to Alaska is a diverse and enchanting holiday option. Imagine watching graceful whales breech the freezing waters, witnessing bears lumbering through the tundra, and Caribou trekking across vast mountains.

Cruising between Vancouver in Canada and Anchorage in Alaska, this series follows the crew as they battle navigational challenges and unpredictable weather, to deliver passengers the promise of a wilderness like nowhere else on Earth.

As Star Princess sails Alaskan waters including the stunning ‘Inside Passage’, viewers will be able to experience close encounters with glaciers, dolphins, seals, whales and dog sled puppies. The ship will call at some of the region’s most popular destinations including Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. ‘The Cruise: Voyage To Alaska’ is the fourth series of the ratings-busting show and airs only a few weeks after the previous series, set in the Mediterranean, concluded - having been watched by an audience of almost four and a half million viewers.

Several new crew members will appear including Captain Tuvo, who takes the helm as well as acting as an unofficial tour guide by announcing points of interests to guests from the Bridge as the ship sails its course. Hotel general manager Pieter also takes the reins for the first time.

Princess has almost 50 years' experience sailing to the region and takes more people there than any other cruise line, with seven ships visiting this year alone. A further three-episode series of ‘The Cruise’ - this time set in the Caribbean - will air later this year. If that seems too long to wait to have an infusion of cruise life then the wealth of great deals for a summer escapade at sea have never been more attractive or affordable.

  • 23rd February 2018