Princess Cruises pays tribute to “The Love Boat” during Regal Princess launch
A star-studded evening and a record-breaking number of champagne bottles helped celebrate the 50th anniversary of Princess Cruises.
The original cast of the iconic “The Love Boat” TV show and 25 of its past guest stars reunited on Nov. 5 at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to christen and launch the new Regal Princess ship.
Princess Cruises served as the backdrop for “The Love Boat,” which originally aired Sept. 24, 1977. The show ran until 1987 and was one of the highest-rated shows on television. The show simultaneously introduced audiences to the world of modern-day cruising and vacations at sea.
The significance of the show’s impact on the cruise line was not lost upon Jan Swartz, the line’s president.
“‘The Love Boat’ put Princess Cruises on the map, bringing the romance and adventure of our cruise vacations into millions of viewers’ homes for the decade it was on air,” Swartz said. “So it was fitting that the cast was selected as godparents for Regal Princess as we begin our 50th anniversary celebrations.”
All six cast members – Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Fred Grandy (Gopher, the chief purser), Ted Lange (Isaac, the bartender), Bernie Kopell (Doc, the ship’s doctor), Lauren Tewes (Julie, the cruise director) and Jill Whelan (Vicki, the captain’s daughter) – were present for the ceremony.
As the ship’s godparents, the cast had the honor of pulling a lever to release 50 champagne bottles that smashed against the ship’s hull. The record-breaking number of bottles served as a nod to the line’s 50th anniversary in 2015. A gigantic, Nebuchadnezzar-sized 51st bottle of champagne (about 34 ounces) then shattered against the ship as a symbol of the line’s continued success.
Florence Henderson, a regular guest star on the show, served as master of ceremonies for the evening, while Charo, the most frequent guest star, entertained guests with a guitar number. Jack Jones, the original performer of the show’s theme song, reprised the famous tune.
Joining the cast was a crowd of the show’s past guest stars, including names like Loni Anderson, Joyce DeWitt, Jamie Farr, Pam Grier, Christopher Knight, Lorenzo Lamas, Carol Lawrence, Lee Meriwether, Tracy Nelson, Frank Sinatra, Jr. and Dick Van Patten. Guest stars typically played the role of passengers on the ship.
The pilot episode of the show was shot on the 730-passenger Sun Princess, with the Pacific Princess and Island Princess becoming the primary floating backdrops for the show. Later episodes and specials were filmed on numerous other Princess ships in locations around the globe.
The 3,560-guest Regal Princess demonstrates the leaps and bounds cruise liners have taken since then. Among the features found onboard are:
- A multi-story atrium that serves as the ship’s social hub.
- An over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck, glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship.
- The Princess Live! television studio.
- A pastry shop.
- Princess Watercolor Fantasy, a fountain and music show.
- The Night Sky Lounge, a nighttime experience where guests enjoy a poolside nightclub.
- Balconies on all outside staterooms.
The Regal Princess began her maiden season of Caribbean vacations out of Fort Lauderdale. Princess Cruises first set sail in 1965 with a single ship, and in its 50 years has grown to 18 ships and is the third-largest cruise line in the world.