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When a show needs a one off episode to let the characters rest or relax, then it's typically a Vacation Episode. Various locations include ski lodges, the beach and camp sites. Another common location for the characters to flock to is a cruise ship.

Cruise Ship episodes often kick off with the protagonists winning tickets or being invited on a cruise. They rarely arrive anywhere, even if there was an intended destination. The safety of the ship is threatened, the protagonists cause too much mayhem and have to be forced off, or maybe the cruise ride wasn't intended to be longer than a day. Either way, expect sea sickness, Buffet Buffoonery and Cabin Fever.

An episode with this trope can also become a Beach Episode, since most cruise ship destinations are tropical beaches. It may even lead to being shipwrecked on a Deserted Island.

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Note that this doesn't strictly apply to television. Cruise ship levels are common in video games, and there's also films primarily set on cruises.

Compare Starship Luxurious, Vacation Episode, Road Trip Plot.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: In Season 7 episode 32, the second half of a two-part episode, Ambassadors Wang and Miao board a cruise to help them become friends since they must set aside their differences if either wishes to establish diplomatic relations with Planet Xing. Happy S. and the president of Planet Xing tag along and keep watch over the two ambassadors to make sure they get along.

    Anime & Manga 
  • The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.: "The Saiko Conglomerate's Luxurious Cruise" episode begins with Saiko inviting Saiki's friends to an extravagant cruise, but the ship gets wrecked and they all wake up on a Deserted Island.
  • Moriarty the Patriot's The Noahtic arc takes place on the cruise ship The Noahtic, where William plots to kill an evil nobleman and first meets Sherlock Holmes.
  • Pokémon: The Original Series: "Battle Aboard the St. Anne" features Team Rocket luring trainers aboard the cruise ship St. Anne with free tickets in hopes of stealing their Pokemon. The Anne is damaged by resulting battles aboard, as well as a big storm brewing up outside, and sinks, leaving the protagonists and Team Rocket to escape to the surface in the following episode, "Pokemon Shipwreck".
  • Sonic X: The episode "Cruise Blues" has Chris Thorndyke's father invite Chris, Sonic and friends aboard a cruise ship as a way to relax from their constant battles with Doctor Eggman. Too bad Sonic isn't cool with the idea at all due to his fear of water and his inability to swim.
  • Spy X Family has an extended arc where Yor is given a mission to protect the widow and infant son of a murdered underworld boss on their voyage to find asylum in a foreign country. This is complicated by Loid and Anya winning tickets on the same cruise. Not only does Yor have to fend off dozens of hitmen, she also has to keep her husband and daughter from finding out she's an assassin (Anya already knows through her telepathy, but is a Secret Secret-Keeper for Yor).
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    Fan Works 
  • The J-WITCH Series: A Season 1 chapter adapts the Jackie Chan Adventures episode "Pleasure Cruise" (see Western Animation below for details), with changes to fit the story's plot, such as the Guardians coming along on the ship with the Chans, and the Villain of the Week antagonists being replaced by Valmont, Hak Foo, and the Ice Crew.

    Films — Animation 
  • Dennis The Menace In Cruise Control: The Nickelodeon released DiC Movie Toon involves Mr. Wilson going on a cruise ship to get away from Dennis. To his horror, Dennis and his friends and family come along. Aboard the ship, Dennis befriends a 7-year-old princess named Liana who is in danger from a mysterious Svengali named Kraigor who's determined to take over her country. At the princess' island home, Dennis and his pals storm the palace, save the princess, imprison Kraigor and ruin Mr. Wilson's vacation at the same time.
  • Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation: After Dracula has disappointing results playing the dating game, Mavis decides to give her father a vacation on a cruise ship. However, she also invites their family and friends, making it impossible for him to relax.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Spring Breakdown: The Equestria Girls go on a cruise aboard a yacht for a relaxing spring break. Only for their fun to be ruined by Rainbow Dash, who (rightfully) suspects that there's Equestrian magic (in particular, leftover magic from the Staff of Sacanas) on the loose, which eventually leads to disaster on the high seas. By the end of the special, everyone was forced to evacuate the sinking yacht and had to return home via a magical portal to Equestria.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • Bubbles In Space: Bubbles needs to escape from HoloCity quickly in order to avoid being assassinated by Chief Swan and finds out she's won an all-expense paid trip on a luxury space cruise liner. Bubbles finds this incredibly suspicious but lacking the money to escape by other means, goes on the trip anyway and ends up involved in a related mystery. She also enjoys the buffet.
  • Death on the Nile: As the name implies, the action is set on a riverboat traveling the Nile, that Hercule Poirot happens to be sailing on.
  • Give Yourself Goosebumps: Ship of Ghouls is an entry set on a cruise ship, where your player character and a friend are all alone on a two-week cruise to Japan. As per Goosebumps, things start going horribly wrong when the cruise turns out belonging to a syndicate that abducts humans for experiments.
  • Jaine Austen Mysteries:
    • Killer Cruise, if the title wasn't enough of a giveaway.
    • Death of a Neighborhood Scrooge has the "Jaine's parents" subplot involving Jaine's parents going on a cruise for Christmas.
  • Several books in the Nancy Drew Files series take place on a cruise ship, as does the first of the Nancy Drew/The Hardy Boys Supermystery Crossover series.
  • Tricky Business: Most of the book happens on the Extravaganza of the Seas, a cruise liner whose casino is used by the mob to launder money.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 2point4 Children: In "Two Years Before The Mast", Tina has booked herself on a cruise. Chaos ensues when the ship departs with the Porter family, who were moving the luggage and had come aboard the ship to say goodbye, inadvertedly joining in the cruise.
  • Birds of a Feather: The plot of the first Christmas Episode ("Sailing") has Tracy receive tickets to a romantic cruise on the Dana Anglia from her convicted husband. Although she initially refuses to go, Dorian devises a plan to get her and Sharon on board the ship. The last minutes of the episode are also set on the ship as they prepare to enjoy the cruise.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: In "The Cruise", Jake and Amy's story is set on a cruise ship while they're on a romantic vacation. They run into Jake's Friendly Enemy Doug Judy, who, it turns out, was plotting to get Jake on the ship for his help.
  • Charlie's Angels: In "Angels at Sea", a murderer is committing crimes on various ships belonging to a cruiseline. The Angels must go undercover to find out who's committing the crimes.
  • Columbo: In "Troubled Waters", Columbo and his wife take a cruise after she wins tickets in a raffle. When there's a murder on board, the captain asks Columbo to investigate. This episode is notable because, while Mrs. Columbo is never seen by the audience, she is definitely present and is apparently just offscreen in a few scenes.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: "The Gang Goes to Hell" is a two-part episode where the gang is retelling their story in what appears to be a Judgement of the Dead, where Mac gets the gang in on a free Christian cruise line, ending in them getting locked up in a brig. Part two takes place entirely inside the brig.
  • Keeping Up Appearances: In "Sea Fever", Hyacinth and Richard go on a cruise together and she takes a liking to the captain. When she finds out her sister and brother-in-law are on the cruise as well, she assumes they are stow-aways, and tries to divert attention away from their blood relation.
  • The L Word: In "Land Ahoy", the girls go on a lesbian booze cruise around the Caribbean. Alice and Dana try to role-play but end up getting seasick.
  • MacGyver combines this with Near-Death Experience in the episode "Passages", when Mac is rendered comatose after a fall. He finds himself with departed members of his family, boarding a cruise ship to the Afterlife, only for a conversation with his family to convince him that it's not his time. He jumps ship and makes it back to the dock, and his life.
  • Mandy: In "Holiday For One", Lola wins a cruise from McVities. Mandy ends up sneaking on board (even though the holiday was only for one), and she must hide her presence from the rest of the ship. Ultimately, her antics end up causing the ship to sink.
  • Mission: Impossible: In "The Emerald", the team board a luxury cruise to play high stakes poker for the titular emerald.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: In the episode "Devil Fish", a phonebook somehow puts Castle Forrester's phone number into an ad for a cruise line. When hundreds of peopled call her to book a cruise, Pearl Forrester decides to take all their money, and then "leave port"note  before anyone can show up. However, two vacationers, Norm and Ann, show up much earlier than expected. For the rest of the episode, Pearl has to trick Norm and Ann into thinking they're on a cruise—decorating her castle to look like a ship, with herself and her minions posing as the crew—so they won't demand their money back.
  • New Girl: In "Cruise" Nick and Jess force everyone to go on a cruise with them after they can't refund tickets meant for a romantic getaway. The episode ends with them accidentally locking themselves in their cabin for two days and getting major Cabin Fever.
  • The Office (US): In "Booze Cruise" Michael gives everyone a morale booster by taking them on a cruise. The boat is complete with a band, a dance floor and a bar. Michael gets outshown by the charismatic captain, and Jim breaks him up with Katy.
  • Rumpole of the Bailey: In "Rumpole at Sea", Horace and Hilda go on a second-honeymoon cruise, and Horace gets roped into solving the mysterious disappearance of one of the other passengers.
  • Scorpion: In The Love Boat, the team search for illegal precision-guided missiles being transported on a cruise ship. As the ocean is among Sylvester's many fears, overcoming this when the slick original plan goes to hell is a focus of the episode.
  • Succession: The Season 2 finale, "This Is Not For Tears", is set almost entirely on the Roys' cruise ship where they hold an emergency crisis meeting about who should be the sacrifice to the impropriety investigation.
  • Two examples occur in The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • In "Judgment Night," a man on a cargo liner (which contains other passengers) in 1942 suffers from a vague feeling of doom as the night progresses, and he gradually becomes convinced that the boat will sink at 1:15 AM precisely. No one believes him, but when the time hits, a U-Boat surfaces, fires a missile, and destroys the ship. The terrified man looks out and sees himself as the captain of the submarine—it turns out that he was the Nazi responsible for sinking the innocent craft. He's now forever trapped in an endless Ironic Hell as he rematerializes on the deck of the same ship earlier the same night, with a vague feeling of doom...
    • In "Passage on the Lady Anne", a couple on the verge of divorce ends up on the titular pleasure cruise. The other passengers—all of them elderly—are unhappy with their presence, and speak in vague, cryptic references about "the end" coming soon. The Lady Anne helps the couple to recapture their love for each other, but after their marriage is saved, the captain forces them off the ship at gunpoint, albeit with provisions and the assurance that their position has been radioed. When the couple is rescued, they discover that the Lady Anne never made it to its destination, suggesting that the cruise liner was a Ghost Ship ferrying passengers into the next world.

    Video Games 
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II: The level "Hijacked" is set on a luxury yacht.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: The hero team takes a cruise ship between Hawaii and the United States to minimize detection by the Dark Force army. This sequence is a chance for the heroes to dress up in fancy suits and dresses, mingle among affluent partygoers, and partake in an inevitable Ballroom Blitz that segues into a trip to the bottom of the ocean.
  • A Hat in Time: The free DLC "Seal The Deal" features a cruise ship staffed by seals with a walrus as the captain.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Mario Kart: The level "Daisy Cruiser" appears in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Mario Kart 7, and Mario Kart Tour. Its features include a pool, a tunnel and moving tables. It is also in Mario Super Sluggers, though not as a kart racing level.
    • Mario Party 7: The game revolves around the good guys taking a vacation around the world, and travel to their desired destinations by boarding the luxurious MSS Sea Star. The cruise is also where Toadsworth guides the player across the menu options and the various game modes. Interestingly, the cruise itself is also used as a demo board during the Rules video explaining the game's mechanics, but it's not playable.
    • Paper Mario: The Origami King: At one point Mario must board a cruise ship called the Princess Peach to help Bobby recover an important item. When he first finds the ship, it's smashed up and covered in ink because it was recently attacked by Paper Macho Gooper Blooper. Once the boss is defeated and the Not-Bottomless Holes are filled in, Toads will return to the Princess Peach and use it as a proper cruise ship again.
  • Pokémon Red and Blue: The cruise ship S.S. Anne is docked in Vermillion City for a party when the Player Character arrives. The PC acquires the Hidden Machine to teach the Cut move from the captain before the ship leaves.
  • Splinter Cell: Double Agent has a mission on a cruise ship in Mexico, where Sam is tasked with planting a Red Mercury bomb by the JBA and then has to decide whether to detonate it for the JBA or defuse it for the NSA.

    Western Animation 
  • Bob's Burgers: In "Mutiny On The Windbreaker'', Bob is tricked by a captain into becoming a permanent chef on his cruise after inviting him to cook burgers for a night. Bob only figures out his plans after the ship leaves the dock. The rest of the Belcher's are delighted that they've been given some time away, but Bob is locked up in a walk-in-fridge to stop him from seeking authorities. Meanwhile, Gene falls in love with a busty puppet, Louise is given absurdly long nail extensions and Tina becomes obsessed with head massages.
  • Dan Vs.: In "Dan vs. the Family Cruise", Elise's parents invite her on a family cruise, and very reluctantly invite her husband Chris along as well. Dan isn't invited, nor does he even want to come, but he winds up as an unwilling stowaway when he accidentally gets packed in some luggage. On the cruise, Dan is surprisingly not the main instigator of chaos and destruction; Elise and her family manage to do that all on their own. The animosity between the parents and children heats up until Elise and her mom outright attack each other in their secret identities. The resulting chaos destroys the ship's steering system—locking them on a course straight through The Devil's Parallelogram—and annoys the Captain so much that she abandons the ship and everyone aboard to their fates.
  • Dennis the Menace: In "Boy Ahoy!", the Wilsons leave for a cruise, but Dennis stays on the ship too long and gets taken along for the ride. He's regarded as a stowaway, forcing Mr. Wilson to hide him. But after losing his clothes and forced to wear his wife's dress and caught with Dennis, Mr. Wilson is the one accused of being the stowaway and is made to work onboard the ship. When it returns to dock and the captain realizes the misunderstanding, he gives the Wilsons free tickets on another cruise. However, the shipping company also gives the Mitchells tickets to the same ship after the Dennis mishap. Mr. Wilson snaps and swims out into the ocean rather than go on another cruise with Dennis.
  • Family Guy: In "Yacht Rocky", the Griffins go on a cruise about halfway through the episode. It then begins to parody the plot of that famous ship movie...Poseidon.
  • Futurama: In "A Flight to Remember", the Planet Express crew take a trip on the Spaceship Titanic, captained by Zapp Brannigan. Bender has a love affair with a rich countess robot, while Fry has to pretend to be boyfriends to both Leela and Amy to keep away Brannigan from the former and placate the latter's parents. In the end, it becomes a parody of Titanic (1997) as Brannigan's incompetence leads the ship in the path of a black hole.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: In "Pleasure Cruise", the Chans go on a cruise ship as a side benefit of Jackie escorting a golden statue that's being transported across the Pacific aboard the ship's vault. Naturally, the criminals out to steal the statue attack the ship, leading to the episode's action.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Once Upon a Zeppelin", Princess Twilight Sparkle and her whole family receive free tickets for an airship cruise. The catch is that this is Princess-themed cruise — all the other ponies aboard bought their tickets specifically for the prospect of mingling with Twilight, her sister-in-law Princess Cadance, and their families. Twilight agrees to do all the meet-and-greet events herself, so the rest of the family can enjoy their vacation, but gets run ragged and misses out on the events she actually wanted to attend.
  • Phineas and Ferb: In "That Sinking Feeling", the title characters hold a romantic cruise so that Baljeet can impress his friend Mishti.
  • Pound Puppies (2010) had an episode revolving around this where Rebound's owner Agatha goes on a cruise but cannot take Rebound with her so she leaves her at the dog pound. Rebound opts to go with her regardless and Hilarity Ensues.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: In "Cruisin'", Rocko and Heffer get stuck on a seniors' cruise with Grandpa Wolfe, and end up getting sucked into the Bermuda Triangle, where Rocko and Heffer turn into old men while the elderly cruise members become young again.
  • Rugrats: The B-plot of "The Family Tree" involves Stu and Didi going on a cruise for their anniversary. While on the ship, Didi throws up, and Stu believes Didi to be seasick. However, when they visit the ship's doctor, they find out that Didi is pregnant.
  • Backfires horribly in the The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo episode "Ship of Ghouls". The gang decides to go on a cruise to Bermuda aboard the Queen Myrtle, since Scooby is traumatized from the events of all the previous ghost-hunting episodes. However, it turns out the travel-agent/captain Ferguson is one of the 13 ghosts, as the Queen Myrtle sank in the Bermuda Triangle 50 years ago, and he and his passengers are evil spirits attempting to kill the gang and reopen the Chest of Demons.
  • The Simpsons: In "A Totally Fun Thing Bart Will Never Do Again", The Simpsons go on a cruise in the last few weeks of the summer vacation. Bart, not wanting to go back to school, broadcasts clips from a film about a viral pandemic to the entire ship. As a result, they're too afraid to go back to the mainland and prolong the cruise trip. Bart is pleased at first thinking that his vacation is merely being extended, but eventually realises it's not how he wants to spend his summer, and confesses.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Walking the Plankton", Plankton secretly gives Mr. Krabs and SpongeBob free tickets for a cruise ship so he can steal the Krabby Patty secret formula while they're gone, but then finds he will have to follow them as Krabs will be taking the formula with him for safekeeping. Plankton goes on the cruise with Karen while pretending it is their second (actually first) honeymoon, and has to keep distracting her so she won't find out he's only there to get the formula. Karen eventually discovers the truth and turns her sanity-decreasing vacation dial to maximum out of spite, resulting in her going crazy and slicing the cruise ship in half.
  • Teen Titans Go! has the episode "Trans-Oceanic Magical Cruise" where just about everything on, and off, the ship is a reference to Tom Cruise.
  • Tom and Jerry: In "Cruise Cat", Tom is the mascot on a cruise ship and is warned by the captain that he'll be kicked out if he finds a mouse aboard. Of course, Jerry finds his way on the ship and knocks Tom off the cruise into the water multiple times, but Tom always finds his way back. When Tom thinks he got rid off Jerry for good and the captain is about to congratulate him for keeping the cruise free of mice, they see Jerry on a food serving tray, which leads to Tom being kicked out.
  • Totally Spies!: In "Deja Cruise," Alex, Sam, and Clover gripe about all of the missions they've had to undertake recently, so Jerry arranges to send them on a cruise vacation. It seems to be a Busman's Holiday when villains try to conquer the ship, but the girls also notice that the exact same day keeps repeating itself no matter what they do. After several unsuccessful attempts to win the day, the spies ask the other patrons of the cruise to help them—at which point it's revealed the entire thing was a Secret Test of Character to teach them about not being afraid to ask for assistance when they need it. They then get a real cruise vacation as a reward.
  • T.U.F.F. Puppy: In "Cruisin' For a Bruisin'", the T.U.F.F. agents take a vacation on a cruise ship. While onboard the ship, Kitty lies to Dudley about a villain trying to ruin the cruise so he can leave her alone, which results in her suffering a series of Amusing Injuries when Dudley searches the ship for clues. Dudley later uncovers and foils Snaptrap's plan to sink the ship with a mobile iceberg.
  • X-Men: Evolution: In "Cruise Control", the X-Men go on a cruise. Unfortunately, it gets derailed when Jean has to out herself as a mutant to put out a fire. Things get worse when Amara/Magma starts suffering from lack-of-land sickness and the X-Men ultimately have to save a small village from an erupting volcano. Luckily, they're at least grateful.

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