How We Fell in Love with a Boat

Reprinted from the book Cruising the World – From Gondolas to Megaships by All Things Cruise official photographer Dennis Cox. The book may be ordered from Photo Explorer Productions online at

Can the cruise industry thank a television show for its vastly increased popularity starting in the 1970s and 80s?

If so, look no further than the wildly popular series The Love Boat.

Debuting in May 1977, The Love Boat – which ran for nine years, followed by four three-hour specials – starred the luxury cruise ship SS. Pacific Princess (which was played interchangeably by two identical ships, the Island Princess and the Pacific Princess). Each episode featured celebrity guests enjoying romantic and humorous adventures with other passengers under the friendly eye of the ship’s sociable Captain Stubing, played by Gavin MacLeod, and its crew.

While much of the filming was done on sound stages of Hollywood studios, most of the cruises were portrayed as sailing from the West Coast to tropical ports in Mexico and to Hawaii.  During ratings weeks, however, the series often branched out into other areas of the world, including the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Europe, Australia, even China.

Built by a Scandinavian company in 1971, the Pacific Princess was originally named Sea Venture and was one of the first cruise ships to employ a sliding dome over its pool area.  She became the Pacific Princess when Princess Cruises acquired her in 1975.  When Princess sold the ship in 2002, she was renamed the Pacific before being sold again and finally christened Acif by a line that was refitting her in Genoa, Italy. After a leak developed, the ship was towed to Turkey. The one-time Pacific Princess’ storied history came to an end when she was scrapped in 2013.


Cover photo: The bridge of a Princess Cruises ship.  The highly sociable Captain Stubing was rarely filmed on the bridge of the Pacific Princess. ©Dennis Cox/WorldViews


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