My Favourite Films set on Boats

After writing about films set on trains and then films set on planes, there was only one way I could follow up: films set on boats. After being mildly (and deservedly) criticized on twitter for missing out some crucial plane film favourites, I wanted to win back my reputation by talking about my favourite films set on boats.

This was a good idea not only because I know I haven’t seen all the best films set on boats, but because I am an obscure person with obscure tastes. So here are all my favourite films set on boats!

Films set on Boats

My Favourite Films set on boats |
©1997 – Paramount Pictures

Titanic (1997)

I’ve legit only seen Titanic once. Literally just once, when I was about 14. But I still remember it so well. I watched the extended cut where the amount of time taken for the Titanic ship to sink in the film took as long as it did in real life. Wowzers. It’s one of the best romantic dramas ever made and it’s just a fantastic film set almost entirely on the ship. Except, you know *SPOILER* when the ship sinks.

My Favourite Films set on boats |
© Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Lifeboat (1944)

Lifeboat had to be on this list, it’s just so good. And the film is even based on a novella by one of my favourite authors, John Steinbeck. It’s a very underrated Hitchcock film set in WWII about British and American citizens having to flee to a lifeboat after their boat and a U-boat sinks in combat. It was described as being sympathetic to German soldiers, so you can imagine that a lot of people at the time would have boycotted this drama. Especially with WWII still going strong at the time of release. Nevertheless, nowadays the narrative holds up and the single setting is as claustrophobic as it is daring.

My Favourite Films set on boats |
© 1951 United Artists

The African Queen (1951)

How amazing is Katherine Hepburn? I’ve seen shockingly little of her films, though at least The Philadelphia Story (1940) is one of them. And Cate Blanchett did a phenomenal job of portraying her in The Aviator (2004). The African Queen holds a 100% rating on rotten tomatoes and it set during WWI where Hepburn and Robert Morley are British missionaries in German East Africa. After the war breaks out, they are forced to flee. Hepburn, along with a Canadian boat captain Humphrey Bogart, escape down river on The African Queen, a little postal boat not made for long voyages. The film is gorgeous and the leading pair are a joy to watch.

My Favourite Films set on boats |
© 1975 – Universal Pictures

Jaws (1975)

Like this wasn’t gonna be on the list, right? One of the most successful and notorious films ever made, Jaws is set on a coastal town in New England where holiday goers are plagued with the impending doom of a shark attack. The pivotal moment of the film comes when 3 men decide to hunt down the shark on a boat called Orca which, as it turns out, was just big enough for them to accomplish their task, but not so big to survive the ordeal. So yeah, they could have done with a bigger boat had there been one handy.

My Favourite Films set on boats |
© Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Hook (1991)

I originally had Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) for this list, but then I realised I didn’t really like the Pirates films that much. I wanted a similar film set on a pirate ship… Didn’t think Disney’s Peter Pan (1953) or the newer one (2003) were good enough, so I settled on Hook. Hook is a firm childhood favourite with a lot of my friends but I didn’t see it until later on in life. It has real staying power being directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman and is just a fun, childhood movie.

My Favourite Films set on boats |
© 1994 – Paramount Pictures

Forrest Gump (1994)

This one is… a bit loose, I know. Barely any of the film is set on a boat. But Forrest Gump is one of my all-time favourite films, and his Bubba Gump Shrimping Co. along with all his boats named ‘Jenny’ is such an important part to the story. So much so, that there are a couple of restaurants in New York and London who use this exact name to attract dumb tourists like you and me who are in love with the film.

What’s your favourite film set on a boat? Have I listed it above or do you have a different one? 

Want MORE?

Best Films set on Trains!

Best Movies set on Planes

My Favourite Road Movies (so far!)

A Fistful of 13 Cinematic Moments

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My Favourite Films set on boats |
© 1975 – Universal Pictures


I’m the human and hair behind Almost Ginger. I’m a cinephile travel obsessive vegetarian currently residing in Manchester.

2 thoughts on “My Favourite Films set on Boats

  • November 6, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    I love this post. So many good ones. Jaws is by far my favorite on this list. So much of the fun of that film is the boat itself. I feel like I know every detail of it.

    I would put Peter Weir’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World on a list like this. Impeccably well-made and almost entirely on a ship. I also have Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo on my mind. That is how you work with a boat on a film set.

    • November 6, 2016 at 3:22 pm

      Thanks Kevin! 🙂 Funnily enough I’d thought of Fitzcarraldo but I’d JUST included it in a list of movies about Peru so I thought it would be a bit much considering it’s a more obscure film. I can’t say if heard of the others but I do actually need to watch Jaws again, it’s been aaaages


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