Kiss the ‘Love Boat’ Goodbye

Lynn Elmhirst, Open Jaw Trends Editor

It’s the end of an era for TV as well as for travel as the real-life ‘Love Boat’ sails off into the sunset. 

Princess Cruises announced the sale of the Pacific Princess to an undisclosed buyer on 21JAN.

In its statement, Princess recalled the small-ship’s legacy of sailing “more than 1.6 million nautical miles, including 11 unforgettable World Cruise voyages and countless cruises to exotic locales.”

The move is not just the latest in a cruise industry-wide ‘right-sizing’ of fleets to cut costs and modernize offerings. The sale of the Pacific Princess also signalled the departure of the ship that popularized modern cruising among millions of TV viewers.

Of course, what everyone remembers about the Pacific Princess is its star role as the ‘Love Boat’ in the romantic comedy/light drama of the same name by feel-good TV producer Aaron Spelling. The beloved show brought the antics of Captain Stubing and his team, as well as shipboard lifestyle aboard the Pacific Princess, into people’s homes for 250 episodes and three, hour-long popular TV specials in its original run and for years later in re-runs.

The series was based on a non-fiction book Love Boats, written by real-life cruise director, Jeraldine Saunders.

If you’re of a certain age, your Saturday night TV viewing was back-to-back Aaron Spelling, a travel-inspired twofer of the Love Boat and Fantasy Island, both now etched into pop culture collective consciousness. Mention “Love Boat” or “Ze Plane, boss!”, and anyone you speak to breaks into a smile.

This Pacific Princess was named after the original vessel used in the series. Princess Cruises notes, "The Love Boat’s ‘Captain Stubing’ and Princess Cruises Ambassador Gavin MacLeod were on the ship’s navigation bridge as the ship sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time to kick off the inaugural season sailing to Alaska from San Francisco in May 2003.”

That’s testimony to the fact that, long after the wrap of the beloved series, the spirit of the Love Boat sailed on, with an enduring relationship with Princess Cruises, which continued to invite the cast to ship naming ceremonies and events.

As recently as 2015, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Princess Cruises, Pacific Princess sailed a ‘throwback cruise,’ recreating the cruise line’s very first itinerary to the Mexican Riviera.  Cast members sailing along included Gavin MacLeod, Fred Grandy (Gopher, the chief purser), Ted Lange (Isaac, the bartender), Bernie Kopell (Doc, the ship’s doctor), Lauren Tewes (cruise director, Julie) and Jill Whelan (Vicki, the captain’s daughter). Together with the guests, they celebrated the role the show played in Princess Cruises’ 50-year history introducing the cruise line – and cruise vacations – to an audience of millions.

For that cruise, Princess debuted a featured cocktail ‘The Isaac’ in honour of the character of Isaac the bartender and his scarlet jacket. Actor Ted Lange even demonstrated ‘The Isaac’ (and revived his signature ‘grin-and-point’ move) in this video, complete with era-appropriate funk soundtrack:

Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz looked to the future as she announced the sale of the Pacific Princess. 

“While it’s difficult to say goodbye to our ‘Love Boat,’ World Cruise and exotic itineraries will continue onboard our MedallionClass-enabled Coral Princess and Island Princess.”

All images courtesy Princess Cruises.

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