Top 10 Film Boat Trips To Avoid

Ship Ahoy, matey! Although not all cinematic boat trips end with death and carnage, many of them result in – or are impacted by – life threatening situations. Mark Fraser looks at 10 instances when staying on land turns out to be the wiser choice.

10. Juggernaut (Richard Lester, 1974)

Top 10 Boat Trips To Avoid - Mark Fraser on Top 10 FilmsWhile holidaying on a luxury liner (the SS Britannic) in the middle of the Atlantic, the trip suddenly goes sour when it transpires that a disgruntled madman has booby-trapped the ship and is now promising to sink it if he doesn’t get paid a $1 million ransom. Fortunately the authorities bring in a level headed Irish bomb disposal expert and his team to save the day. Sure – a major disaster is averted, but it still turns out to be a fairly teeth gritting experience for all on board, especially when one of the bombs detonates while being disarmed.

9. Carlito’s Way (Brian De Palma, 1993)

Top 10 Boat Trips To Avoid - Mark Fraser on Top 10 FilmsAn evening trip along New York’s East River to rescue a gangster from Rikers prison barge sees you ending up with a contract on your head after the boat’s coked up skipper kills both the mobster and his abrasive son under the naive assumption that he can make the whole thing look like an accident. You also appear to be operating in some kind of time warp given all this takes place in 1975, but the barge isn’t docked there until 1992.

8. Déjà Vu (Tony Scott, 2006)

Top 10 Boat Trips To Avoid - Mark Fraser on Top 10 FilmsCatching a ferry across the Mississippi in New Orleans proves to be more trouble than it’s worth when the vessel is blown up and sunk by a domestic terrorist, killing most on board. Luckily the local constabulary has access to a rudimentary time travel technology and is able to send an agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms back to make sure the disaster is averted. Unfortunately he sort of gets killed in the process.

7. Triangle (Christopher Smith, 2009)

Top 10 Boat Trips To Avoid - Mark Fraser on Top 10 FilmsWhen a yachting trip with some friends goes disastrously wrong, you climb on board a passing ocean liner under the impression you’ve been saved. Oddly the vessel is deserted, except for the killer on board who starts knocking everyone off. Then, to really confuse things, it turns out you’re the murderer – plus you are caught up in some kind of strange time loop.

6. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (David Fincher, 2008)

Top 10 Boat Trips To Avoid - Mark Fraser on Top 10 FilmsYour first job when a “young” man is working on a tugboat for a half-crazed, heavy drinking Irish captain. Admittedly you get to see some of the world – plus you enjoy a fling with a married woman – but you also find yourself getting caught up in World War II after your battle hungry skipper decides to take on a German U-boat during what is ultimately an impromptu suicide mission.

5. Captain Phillips (Paul Greengrass, 2013)

Top 10 Boat Trips To Avoid - Mark Fraser on Top 10 FilmsNo amount of preparation, or deceptive tactics for that matter, can stop a small group of determined Somali pirates from ship jacking your container vessel off the African coast and then taking you hostage. Although no one forces you to walk the plank or get dressed up as a handsome cabin boy, things do become a little tense when your armed hosts get a bit edgy after their khat supply starts running out. Come to think of it, you look like you could do with a stiff drink or three following this harrowing ordeal.

4. The Perfect Storm (Wolfgang Petersen, 2000)

Top 10 Boat Trips To Avoid - Mark Fraser on Top 10 FilmsThe commercial fishing season doesn’t go your way, so you decide to go back out to the deep blue yonder to see if you can improve on your catch. And, for a brief moment, it seems the gamble is paying off when you hit a motherload of fish. Unfortunately you also run into a massive storm on the journey home during which your boat is capsized – and subsequently sunk – by the brutal ocean swell.

3. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)

Jaws, ending, classic scenes, Top 10 Films, Roy Scheider, Steven Spielberg,After venturing a healthy distance from the shore to hunt down a murderous great white shark in a fishing vessel (named Orca) captained by a half-crazed Irishman, the stark reality of your situation finally sets in: you are going to need a bigger boat! Although the persistently hungry beastie gives you a good run for your money, you are finally able to blow it to bits with the help of a rifle and pressurised scuba tank just before the badly battered Orca completely sinks.

2. The Poseidon Adventure (Ronald Neame, 1972)

Top 10 Boat Trips To Avoid - Mark Fraser on Top 10 FilmsNew Year’s Eve completely goes to pot when a 90 foot tidal wave capsizes your luxury liner somewhere in the Mediterranean just after midnight. Along with some of the other surviving passengers – including a headstrong priest, a bossy cop and his ex-hooker wife, a dispensable waiter, a precocious kid and his hot sister as well as a loud, overweight Jewish grandmother and her constantly anxious-looking husband – you make your way up to the stern of the ship’s hull, which is now the only part of the vessel that’s sticking out of the water. Fortunately the boat doesn’t roll back over before sinking – something that happens in both the 2006 remake of the film (Wolfgang Petersen’s Poseidon) and a Mad Magazine adaptation of the movie (called The Poop-seidon Adventure) published shortly after its initial 1972 release.

1. Titanic (James Cameron, 1997)

Top 10 Boat Trips To Avoid - Mark Fraser on Top 10 FilmsApril, 1912: you manage to score a ride on the maiden voyage of the world’s largest, ritziest, state-of-the-art luxury liner. There is just one problem – the hype surrounding this majestic vessel (that it is unsinkable) turns out to be entirely untrue, a sad fact you discover only after it fatally clips an iceberg and starts sinking in the freezing waters of the north Atlantic. On a grimly positive note, you do get to witness first hand one of the most momentous maritime disasters in human history.

Written and compiled by Mark Fraser

Over to you: Top 10 Films asks what are your favourite movie boat rides to avoid?

Discover More: Top 10 Movie Bus Rides to Avoid | Top 10 Movie Train Rides to Avoid

If you enjoyed Top 10 Movie Trains Rides to Avoid check out Mark Fraser’s other articles on Top 10 Films including the Best of Nicolas Cage and Films where Submarines take Centre Stage, as well as the Top 10 Films that share an Apocalyptic View of New York City & the Top 10 Movie Bus Rides to Avoid

About the Author
Mark is a film journalist, screenwriter and former production assistant from Western Australia.

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  1. Callum Reply

    Some great choices! Love Jaws, Carlito’s Way and Triangle. While I’m not a big fan of Titanic and The Perfect Storm they’re definitely “boat trips worth missing”!

  2. Dan Reply

    Most importantly this list shows you can turn a dramatic real life tale of boating tragedy into something that is as dull as it is overblown! I’m looking at you Titanic and The Perfect Storm! That said, both films feature some of the most authentic and eye-catching depictions of ocean disasters ever put to celluloid. It’s just a shame the stories surrounding them are so naff.

    Triangle’s a good film, glad to see it mentioned. A film that’ll mess with your head.

    Enjoyed Captain Phillips, I thought Greengrass’ directorial style worked well to convey both the sense of fear evoked in such an attack and the sweaty, kinetic energy of the event as it progressed to its traumatic conclusion.

  3. Al Robinson Reply

    Titanic, Jaws, The Poseidon Adventure for sure. Haha.

  4. Dan Grant Reply

    Terrific piece. Glad you included Triangle, a Twilight Zoneesque type film that really makes you think after.

  5. Steve Marsh Reply

    Some criminally overlooked ones there. Juggernaut & Triangle deserve a wider audience.

  6. Jason Taffey Reply

    Fantastic article and such a nice surprise to see the fabulous Juggernaut mentioned. Boat trips to definitely avoid, but some seriously good movies that must be seen (apart from Titanic!).

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