Discovery’s Original Canadian Series “Mighty Cruise Ships” Sails Into Season 2

Executive Producer Karen McCairley lets Crave readers in on some behind-the-scenes stories.

Jennifer Coxby Jennifer Cox

Discovery’s original Canadian series Mighty Cruise Ships embarks on its second season voyage, and the new season kicked off last Sunday (it airs on Discovery Canada at 7pm). The six-episode series features unprecedented access to billion-dollar, cutting-edge, opulent vessels that sail passengers away to high seas luxury, and Executive Producer Karen McCairley invited Crave readers behind-the-scenes of the popular series.

Tell us about the season of Mighty Cruise Ships.

In Season 2, we feature some of the biggest, the newest and most luxurious vessels in the cruise industry. We begin the series in the Mediterranean on the brand new Carnival Vista, then we travel  up the coast of the U.K. to the Shetland Islands and the Norwegian Fjords on Viking Sea. Another episode begins aboard Ocean Endeavour in Greenland and takes viewers on a stunning expedition cruise to the Canadian Arctic. We also feature the world’s biggest sailing cruise ship,  Royal Clipper. To finish the season, we dip our toes in the Caribbean aboard the glamourous MSC Divina.

Why do you think viewers are so intrigued by these huge vessels?

Mighty Cruise Ships is the only show of its kind in the whole world, so viewers are not able to see anything else like it. We pull back the curtain and focus on the big technology and skill it takes to navigate these ships into very interesting and oftentimes difficult ports. We focus on what it takes for the hard working staff aboard each vessel to pull these trips off time and again. We spend time in the engine room, bridge, galleys and behind the scenes of the huge mainstage productions that happen aboard these ships – even passengers never get to see this stuff, but viewers of the shows do.

Cruises have become a huge vacation preference… why do you think this is so?

Cruises offer the same kind of variety that you’d find in any other form of vacationing. It may be a cliché to say, “there’s something for everyone”, but there truly is. From the Carnival Vista’s largest water park at sea/IMAX theatre/10 restaurants/Skyride and Brewery on board – to a vessel like Viking Sea that has no kids, no casino, no bumper cars, only unfettered luxury and stunning destinations. In fact, cruising has become as much about the destinations and excursions offered as it has about the ships themselves. Ask yourself what it is you like to do when you’re on holiday, and I can tell you with certainty, “There’s a cruise for that!”

What are some of the challenges of filming a series like this?

Before we step foot on a vessel with our camera crew, we must gain the trust of the cruise line that we are hoping to feature. This process can take months or longer. We are often met with hesitation because we are asking for full access to the vessel in order to tell our story in a way the Discovery viewer has come to expect. We are not a travel show – we are not focusing on the thread count of the sheets, we want to really get behind the scenes, be on the bridge with the Captain for all entries and exits from ports and be allowed to film in areas that are off limits to passengers. I think most people would be surprised at how long it can take to get the access we are looking for with a ship company we wish to work with. We feature one ship this season that took three years of negotiations – we were turned down repeatedly until this season.

What’s on the horizon for cruise ship technology? Anything new and exciting that we can let readers in on?

Newer cruise ships continue to enhance on technology most of us rely on every day. Gone are the days when passengers were completely out of touch with the rest of the world once they boarded a ship. Now vessels have fast Wi-Fi, their own communication apps and a lot of digital technology integrated into art work and entertainment.