Remembering the Love Boat

The Love Boat television show was one of the most popular programs of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Its combination of “Old Hollywood” guest stars as well as up and coming actors along with the regular cast of personable characters had people tuned in every week. For many cruisers, the show was their first introduction into the world of the cruise ship vacation. The show is credited with the boom in the popularity of cruising.

In the Beginning
The original 1976 made-for-TV movie on which the show was based, also titled The Love Boat, was itself based on the nonfiction book The Love Boats by Jeraldine Saunders, a real-life cruise director. The book was been revised and updated in 1998 and can be purchased at Amazon and other book sellers. The publisher claims “Her autobiographical book, and the TV series that came from it, is the reason for a 3,000 percent increase in the cruise ship industry.” Reviews say that most of the material is rather dated, but still a fun read. Some reviews even question whether the book is fact or fiction, but most readers say that the stories are highly entertaining. After the airing of the first TV movie, two more TV movies (titled The Love Boat II and The New Love Boat, respectively) followed before the series began its run.

A Saturday Night Staple
Every Saturday evening, viewers would tune in to see Julie, Doc, Gopher, Captain Stubing, and Issac greet a new load of passengers. The show usually had two or three separate but occasionally intersecting stories, one about the crew and two about two different sets of passengers. One of the hallmarks of the show was getting some of the greatest stars of Hollywood’s golden era to appear as guest. Often they were featured in stories befitting their age about what is often thought of as the typical cruise ship demographic. These stories were often about older couple trying to rekindle their romance, or sometimes about long lost loves finding each other after many years. The show also featured up and coming hunks, starlets and TV stars in stories about the “Love Boat” younger hipper crowd. These stories were often the more typical “boy meets girl” ans sexual conquest stories type stories.

The Pacific Princess: THE Love Boat
Most often the show was filmed on a Hollywood set that mimicked the Pacific Princess, other times they actually filmed the show aboard the ship, usually for some of the their two hour specials. Occasionally the show even utilized other ships for on location filming including twin sister Island Princess, the Stella Solaris (for a Mediterranean cruise), Pearl of Scandinavia (for a Chinese cruise), the Royal Viking Sky (for European cruises) and the Royal Princess (for a Caribbean cruise). The show was also one of the few 1 hour shows to ever feature a laugh track. (My Dad hated it and used to say “Well the show is OK, but I can’t stand that canned laughter.”)

A Hit Show
Probably the part most views enjoyed most about the show was the locations and the camaraderie between the crew members. Many places I have visited on my cruises, were first introduced to me through this show including the Mexican Riviera Ports of Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, and Mazatlan, and the Caribbean port of St. Thomas. My husband and I even chose Alaska for our honeymoon cruise based on the fact that we loved the Alaskan scenery from the Alaska cruise episode so much. The show also featured a crew of quirky characters. These characters became like members of our family as we invited them into our living room every Saturday night when we watched the show. When some of the original cast left the show for various reason, the popularity of the show began to falter. Hence the show owes much it its 9 year success to the exotic locations and the element of familiarity, without which, the show would have simply been an all-star cast anthology.

UPN aired a new version of the show in 1998 and 1999, but it never achieved the success of the original show. We invite our readers to share with us their memories of the Love Boat, show or ship, what ever your favorite memory is.

The following is partial list of some of the Guest Stars on the show:

• Willie Aames
• Eddie Albert
• Debbie Allen
• Steve Allen
• Don Ameche
• John Amos
• Loni Anderson
• Ursula Andress
• Susan Anton
• Frankie Avalon
• Catherine Bach
• Jim Backus
• Scott Baio
• Adrienne Barbeau
• Billy Barty
• Kathy Bates
• Barbi Benton
• Milton Berle
• Theodore Bikel
• Barbara Billingsley
• Linda Blair
• Joan Blondell
• Ray Bolger
• Ernest Borgnine
• Rossano Brazzi
• Lloyd Bridges
• Red Buttons
• Sid Caesar
• Cab Calloway
• Carol Channing
• Cyd Charisse
• Charo
• Courteney Cox
• Pat Crowley
• Jamie Lee Curtis
• Gloria DeHaven
• Eva Gabor
• Zsa Zsa Gabor
• Greer Garson
• Janet Gaynor
• Lillian Gish
• George Gobel
• Arthur Godfrey
• Ruth Gordon
• Robert Goulet
• Pam Grier
• Rosey Grier
• Tom Hanks
• Lisa Hartman Black
• David Hasselhoff
• Hulk Hogan
• Engelbert Humperdinck
• Tab Hunter
• Janet Jackson
• Reggie Jackson
• Ann Jillian
• Van Johnson
• Jack Jones
• Shirley Jones
• Howard Keel
• Gene Kelly
• Evelyn Keyes
• Fernando Lamas
• Dorothy Lamour
• Janet Leigh
• Ethel Merman
• Rita Moreno
• Harriet Nelson
• Ricky Nelson
• Julie Newmar
• Leslie Nielsen
• Donny Osmond
• Jimmy Osmond
• Marie Osmond
• Eleanor Parker
• Slim Pickens
• Jane Powell
• Vincent Price
• Charlotte Rae
• Luise Rainer
• Phylicia Rashad
• Lynn Redgrave
• Donna Reed
• Della Reese
• Debbie Reynolds
• Joan Rivers
• Tim Robbins
• Ginger Rogers
• Esther Rolle
• Jaclyn Smith
• Suzanne Somers
• Jerry Stiller
• Leslie Uggams
• Robert Urich
• Andy Warhol
• Jane Wyatt
• Jane Wyman