Princess Cruises and “The Love Boat” Connection
It all began in the mid-70s when television producer Douglas S. Cramer, who had created the popular television series “Love American Style,” decided to shift his popular comedy vignette series from its studio setting to the decks and vacation venues of a (then) modern cruise ship. The resulting television show, “The Love Boat” has been widely credited with introducing millions of viewers to the concept of contemporary cruise vacations and leading to dramatic expansion of the industry and its global success.
Originally, in searching out a location for the movie pilot of what was to become his Love Boat television series, Cramer found the ideal setting with a cruise line that just happened to operate from its world headquarters in Los Angeles known globally today as Princess Cruises.
After the 1977 pilot show, which was shot aboard the line's original Sun Princess in Mexico, Cramer teamed up with top television producer Aaron Spelling and the rest is history. “The Love Boat” went on to realize phenomenal success, continuing for 10 seasons until 1987 as one of the highest-rated prime-time television shows in the country. Princess Cruises soon became a household name as the primary setting and ocean-going co-star of the popular series and continues to be known as the "Love Boat" cruise line to this day. With ships Pacific Princess and Island Princess the original floating stars of the show, “The Love Boat” was filmed aboard many Princess ships in exotic destinations around the globe. The show, often the catalyst for introducing American viewers to destinations like Sydney, Australia and Opera House, the Great Wall of China, the Acropolis in Athens Greece. Occasional Love Boat television specials have been filmed since the show stopped production.
Actor Gavin MacLeod (Captain Merrill Stubing) remained an enthusiastic fan of cruising while serving as the spokesperson for Princess Cruises for more than 35 years (1986-2021), making him the longest-serving celebrity spokesperson in brand partnership history. Actress Jill Whelan (Vicki Stubing) continues to serve as Celebrations Ambassador and spokesperson for the cruise line.
In 1997, ten years after the show ended its original run, all six original Love Boat cast members -- Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Fred Grandy (Yeoman Purser, Burl ‘Gopher’ Smith), Ted Lange (Isaac ‘The Bartender’ Washington), Bernie Kopell (Adam ‘Doc’ Bricker), Lauren Tewes (Julie McCoy, Your Cruise Director) and Jill Whelan (Vicki Stubing, The Captain’s Daughter) -- reunited for the first time in more than a decade for the official naming ceremony and christening of Dawn Princess in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
In 1998 “The Love Boat” popularity was revived with a new version of the show introduced by Spelling Television. “Love Boat: The Next Wave,” which ran for two seasons on the UPN network, was also set aboard a Princess ship, the line's new Sun Princess. A new cast of characters served as the Sun Princess officers and crew -- including Robert Urich as Captain Jim Kennedy -- and following the original show's format, a series of guest stars joined the cast each week as cruise vacation guests.
The original cast also came together again in 2014, to kick off the 50th anniversary of Princess Cruises by officially naming and christening the new Regal Princess cruise ship in a star-studded event also featuring 25 guest stars from the show, including Charo, Florence Henderson, Marion Ross, Doris Roberts, Diane Ladd, Loni Anderson and Jamie Farr, to name a few. The cast continued to celebrate the golden anniversary of Princess and cruised down Colorado Blvd in Pasadena, California on the bow of a modern Princess cruise ship float in the iconic Rose Parade on New Year’s Day in 2015.
In May 2018, the six cast members of “The Love Boat” and Princess Cruises received an honorary star plaque on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in recognition of their contributions to the history of television and support of the preservation of the Walk of Fame.
The original “Love Boat” series is currently in worldwide syndication, having been translated into more than 29 different languages, and is viewed by millions of fans in more than 93 countries.