Christmas Cruising with Jane McDonald

Friday: Christmas Cruising with Jane McDonald; (Channel 5, 9pm)

Not only is Jane McDonald one of TV most popular presenters, her show Cruising with… has been a cult-favourite since it began in 2017.

The series actually won Channel 5 its first ever Bafta in 2018, over 20 years after they first started broadcasting.

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Despite the show’s success, Jane shocked audiences in the spring when she announced she was stepping down from the show to focus on her music-based projects in the UK.

It was also revealed that Susan Calman, star of Channel 5’s Secret Scotland, would be replacing Jane as the host on both Cruising With and Holidaying With.

Then a little thing called the coronavirus pandemic hit, and we all had to spend time at home, whether we wanted to or not.

Jane’s nationwide tour was postponed, and, in the autumn, she made a u-turn and decided that she would like to get out and sail again.

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Posting on her Twitter account in October, Jane wrote: “I’m back out on the water… it’s not quite the open sea but I’m still having a fantastic time (and working hard!!). #rivercruising @miatuibags”

Jane clearly has a loyalty not only to her fans and Channel 5, but also to the cruise sector. Appearing on the BBC’s The One Show to promote her new album last month, she was asked about the prospects for the cruise sector and acknowledged the issues faced throughout the travel industry.

She said: “[Cruise] is such a massive industry and people love cruising. Once you’ve done a cruise and you’ve fallen in love with that ship you will go for years and years. It is devastating what’s going on to the travel industry in general. It’s the cruise industry, all the staff on the cruise ships, the airlines, the travel agents.”

In this Christmas special of the show, the singer travels up the Rhine, creating her very own festive season in her cabin aboard the SS Antoinette. The ship has been described as “a floating version of the Palace of Versailles”, the decadent chateau that was home to the French nobility from the 1680s to the 1780s. Each stateroom has its own design, from a room covered in toile to a room decorated with turquoise leopard print. While each room is a work of art, the ship also features a large collection of original art, and guests have the chance to take in a movie at Le Cinema Pigalle, the first 3D movie theatre at sea, or take a swim in the mosaic tiled pool.

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During her trip, Jane visits some of the most dazzling festive markets that Europe has to offer, sampling traditional food and drink, as well as unique seasonal customs. Back on board, the fun continues as Jane joins her fellow shipmates to make decorations and create her signature Christmas dish.

A rousing musical performance by carol singers entertains passengers as the ship makes its way to Switzerland, which is the final stop on this magical festive cruise. It is unclear how much longer Jane will be cruising for but, fans will be delighted the Wakefield Wonder is still their guide to the waterways.

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