Super glossy travel/reality TV shows may dominate the world but they’re not for everyone. The ads alone are enough to give you anxiety attacks. Quick cuts, shouty hosts, and overly involved contestant backstories... It's too much!
If you prefer the renovated barns and warehouses of Grand Designs, or the lovingly crafted cakes, buns, and petit fours on Great British Bake Off or wishing yourself to the green hills and communal sharing of River Cottage then you need to pack your bags and climb aboard Cruising with Jane McDonald.
For some the very thought of a cruise makes them turn green in the face and start to sway from side to side. But Cruising is a perfect show for cruisers and non-cruisers alike. If dreams of your next cruise are what gets you through the 9-5, then this is like window shopping. If not, then you can experience all the joys and delights of cruising (and it turns out there are PLENTY) without worrying about seasickness or the ever-present smell of fake tan.
The best part is cruising with Jane
Jane McDonald is a genuine delight. She feels like your mum’s saucy best friend who never settled down. She’s honest and vulnerable - something every host of every program like this aspires to but almost never achieves. She trips over her words and says things like “I’m chuffing Bear Grylls aren’t I”, “I sound right thick,” and “Is it shooting season for haggis?” without any sense of self-awareness or ego. It’s as though, at times, she just happens to be there while this is all taking place and yet her instincts as an entertainer are on point.
This week on the show, Jane visits Scotland and surprises us all with the revelation that Scotland isn’t only beautiful in a melancholic way, but it can also be gorgeously sunny and lively – maybe life always looks better when cruising?
From the bed & breakfast on water that is their cruise ship, it’s clear this is not the cliched sun-drenched, bikini-filled show about cruising you may fear. Instead, you’re invited into a world of gorgeous little Scottish seaside villages, incredible natural landmarks, rich history, and colourful characters in a surprisingly balmy 26 degree weather.
The Sights and Sounds
One of the most memorable stops on their journey is just to watch puffins play on the edge of a cliff.
It’s a serene and unexpectedly exotic moment. It’s that mixture between cuteness and the wonder and awe that the Hebridean coast evokes that makes this a truly beautiful experience. When they enter Fingal’s cave, and she notices the acoustics she begins singing. It’s a chills-down-the-spine moment that in another show would feel contrived and trite, but here they manage to make it feel spontaneous and genuinely quite moving.
It's such a magical place that it even inspired one of the world’s great composers to write an overture about it:
Jane’s tour of Scotland’s surrounding islands with their local wool mills, gorgeous cottages, charming honesty boxes for buying seafood, and homemade haggis will convince even the most ardent land lubber that it’s time to start saving their pennies and join the 1 in 5 UK people who go on cruises every year.
Watch Cruising with Jane McDonald on Saturday nights at 7:35pm on SBS.