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The 9 Best Movie Nights at Sea

by Danielle Contray | January 19, 2016

Cruise lines are upping their game, taking movie nights several steps beyond what you’d expect on the TVs in your cabin. From IMAX theaters to movie studio partnerships, here are some exciting ways to catch a flick at sea:

Princess Cruises: Movies Under the Stars
Princess’s program started the trend of poolside movie screenings. After the sun goes down, Hollywood blockbusters are projected onto a 300-square-foot screen. Get comfy on one of the padded lounge chairs with blankets and a bag of popcorn or milk and cookies.

Disney Cruise Line: Buena Vista Theatre
The cruise line not only get dibs on Disney-made movies, but also offers the glamorous art deco Buena Vista Theatre. Reminiscent of Hollywood's Golden Age, the space has Dolby surround sound and 3-D technology. Big releases get special treatment: Star Wars Days at Sea celebrate the run of "Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens."

SeaDream Yacht Club: Starlit Movies 
Like Princess, SeaDream Yacht Club hosts intimate screenings under the stars with blankets and popcorn — but it also offers pillows, and the flowing (complimentary) bar is open for orders, even on premium liquors.

Carnival Cruise Line: Thrill Theater
Poolside movies are shown across the fleet, but only Carnival Breeze and Carnival Vista have the new 24-seat Thrill Theater. These venues screen 3-D shorts — starring familiar characters like "SpongeBob" — during which the chairs move and you get other fun extras, such as splashing water and bubbles. You can buy individual tickets or a pass for the 10 or so films shown during the sailing.

Carnival Vista: IMAX Theater
When Carnival Vista sails this spring, it will have the first IMAX theater at sea. A frameless screen and high resolution will elevate the experience of watching the latest Hollywood blockbusters, as well as classics and documentaries. 

Royal Caribbean: DreamWorks Partnership
Royal Caribbean International’s partnership with DreamWorks means you can see "How to Train You Dragon," among other animated favorites, in 3-D. Some ships also have a 220-foot poolside theater and, if you prefer to watch movies in bed, DreamWorks films are available on demand in staterooms.

Cunard Line: Royal Court and Illuminations Theaters
First-run films are played twice a day in the Royal Court Theatre on Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, while the Queen Mary 2 screens 3-D movies in the Illuminations theater. Known for its guest lecturers, Cunard also invites actors — including Hitchcock heroine Kim Novak, "Star Trek" star George Takei, and funnyman John Cleese — to talk about their work.

Holland America Line: LED Screens
Movies are shown in onboard theaters fleetwide with hot buttered popcorn, and Rotterdam and Veendam also project flicks onto fancier LED screens by the Retreat pool deck. There's a bar and a restaurant nearby, so you can order cocktails and snacks.

Silversea Cruises: Streaming
Silversea streams movies on passengers’ tablets and laptops. The selection runs from black-and-white classics to the latest Oscar winners. The service is complimentary, and (best of all) you can borrow an iPad mini if you left your tablet at home.

Danielle Contray

Danielle Contray is the Brooklyn-based managing editor of ShermansCruise.

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