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What is your favourite movie with classic boat scenes?

Whether the boat is as much a protagonist as the actors in the film, such as in African Queen, or some of the most memorable scenes take place on it, these cult classics wouldn’t be the same without these vessels.

James Bond wouldn’t be the same without Spirit Yachts‘ stunning sailing boat Soufrière, and the humble steam boat African Queen lends the name to the classic Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart’s film. Sophia Loren and Cary Grant fall in love on a houseboat in the eponymous film and the Italian actress falls in love again on a vessel, but this time with Gregory Peck, in spy thriller Arabesque.

All these cult films feature unforgettable boat scenes and stunning yachts and are worth watching over and over again.

#1 African Queen, 1951

A riverboat captain with a penchant for hard liqueur (Humphrey Bogart) is persuaded by a missionary (Katharine Hepburn) to use his boat, The African Queen, to attack an enemy ship during WWI. The boat in this film is as much of a protagonist as the two Hollywood stars.

#2 Some Like it Hot, 1959

Directed by Billy Wilder and with a stellar cast including Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis, the 1959 film is a cult comedy. After witnessing a mafia hit, Lemmon and Curtis disguise as women to escape the mob, but who can forget Tony Curtis trying to seduce Sugar, played by Monroe, on a boat?

#3 A Very Private Affair

Starring two of the most famous actors of the time, Italian Marcello Mastroianni and French Brigitte Bardot, the 1962 deals with love and fame and the scene of the two lovers on a motor boat is simply unforgettable.

#4 House Boat

Love blossoms between Cary Grant and Sophia Loren as they move to a rundown houseboat, he a widower with three children, she the daughter of a famous conductor who accepts a job with the family as a housemaid. Funny, warm and very romantic, the houseboat is the catalyst for the stars’ love in this brilliant 1958 film.

#5 Captain Horatio Hornblower

Set during the Napoleonic times, this swashbuckling war film stars Gregory Peck in the title role, the commander of 38-gun frigate HMS Lydia. With battles at sea, this film is all about the ships.

#6 On Golden Pond

A beautiful and heartwarming film that centres on family relationships. Real life father and daughter Peter and Jane Fonda play Norman and Chelsea, a father and daughter who reconnect after years, thanks to her stepson, mother (played by Katharine Hepburn) and the splendid Golden Pond, where the family has a summer cottage. The boat scenes between Peter Fonda and Hepburn are beautiful, touching and of course, idyllic.

#7 Designing Woman

One of the most successful film in their careers Lauren Bacall and Gregory Peck play a fashion designer and a sports writer who marry very soon after meeting each other. The scenes of the pair spending money Peck won gambling are priceless, especially the one of them relaxing on a beautiful wooden sailing boat, as they get to know each other.

#8 Mutiny on the Bounty

A true cult film starring Marlon Brando as Fletcher Christian, the Lieutenant who leads the famous mutiny on the ship Bounty when onboard conditions become unbearable.

#9 Quantum of Solace

Daniel Craig looks cooler than cool as James Bond, riding aboard a Sunseeker Sovereign 17. The boat, built in 1970, was captained by none other than Sunseeker’s MD Robert Braithwaite who got a cameo in the film!

#10 Titanic

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet play ill-fated lovers in this fictionalisation of the Titanic tragedy.

#11 Dead Calm

A film all about spending time at sea…with scary consequences… Married couple Rae (Nicole Kidman) and John Ingram decide to spend time at sea only to meet a stranger who’s abandoned a sinking ship. A beautiful, full of suspense film set in the Pacific.

#12 Casino Royale

Daniel Craig and Eva Green got to sail in Venice on the stunning Spirit Yachts’ Soufrière in Casino Royale.

#13 Arabesque

Starring Sophia Loren and Gregory Peck, this fast paced spy thriller is a must watch and the final scene of the two stars falling in love in a tiny wooden boat is a classic.

#14 The Tourist

A romantic thriller set in Venice and starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. Worth watching just for the two beautiful actors whizzing around on a speedboat in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

#15 Girls! Girls! Girls!


Sailor Ross Carpenter, played by Elvis Presley, has to find a way to buy his boss’s boat Westwind when he retires. To complicate matters, he’s also torn between two women. Cue, much singing and dancing.

#16 The Old Man and The Sea

Based on the Ernest Hemingway story, this Oscar winning film centres on an old fisherman (Spencer Tracy), his life at sea and his friendship with a young boy who believes the old sailor still has it in him. Beautiful and very moving.

#17 On the Waterfront

Terry Malloy, played by Marlon Brando, is an ex-prize fighter now working at the docks. And we get to see a few vessels. Not so much about boats per se but nonetheless, a cult film involving ships!

We hope you enjoyed our top 17 cult boat movies list.