Love Boat Legacy

One of my sister Elaine’s favorite television shows was the “Love Boat,” the 1970s series that helped make Princess Cruises a household name. Airing on ABC from 1977 to 1986, “Love Boat” was set on the Pacific Princess cruise ship.

So Elaine jumped at the chance when I suggested we cruise on the Regal Princess. Our weeklong cruise would go round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale in Florida to Princess Cays, St. Thomas and St. Maarten in the Caribbean with three days at sea.

Leaving the port, I thought Elaine was going to cry as people on shore began applauding when the horn on the Regal Princess played the theme song from the “Love Boat.”

The musical touch of whimsy is only one of the “Love Boat” salutes around the ship. After all, the godparents for the Regal Princess are the main cast from the popular show.

A special exhibit case on the Regal Princess showcases the ship’s November 2014 naming ceremony. For the Regal Princess christening, all six of the original cast members served as the ship’s godparents and were joined by 25 of the show’s past guest stars.

The cast of the ‘Love Boat’ is spotlighted in a ship display case. Photo Jackie Sheckler Finch

The photo on the Regal Princess celebrated that special day when the six “Love Boat” 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 (cruise director, Julie) and Jill Whelan (Vicki, the captain’s daughter) – pulled a lever that first sent a record-breaking 50 champagne bottles smashing against the ship’s hull.

That huge splash was a nod to the company’s anniversary celebration. It was followed by the breaking of a giant Nebuchadnezzar-size 51st bottle signifying Princess Cruises’ continued future success. The photo display also has the bow and cork from that champagne send-off.

TV show popularized cruising

The popular television show is credited with showing viewers how much fun a cruise can be and what a great vacation choice it is to book a journey on a modern cruise ship. “Love Boat” is said to be a major reason for the dramatic expansion of today’s cruise industry. And it all started more than 50 years ago on a Princess ship.

The story goes that in the mid-70s, TV producer Douglas S. Cramer decided to film a series, not in a studio setting but aboard the beautiful environs of a modern cruise ship. Cramer found the ideal setting on a Princess cruise ship. Cramer teamed up with Aaron Spelling and the movie pilot was shot aboard the Princess ship in Mexico. For 10 seasons, “The Love Boat” was one of the highest rated prime time television shows in the country.

Later episodes and specials were filmed aboard many other Princess cruise ships in destinations around the globe.

Before long, viewers began looking forward to seeing the big star of the show – a Princess cruise ship – and booking their own voyages. Today, Princess continues to be known as the “Love Boat” line.

“People always ask us why ‘The Love Boat’ was so popular and I always say it’s because it gave people something to dream about,” Gavin MacLeod said in a press release celebrating the ship/show partnership.

“They could dream about being out on the open seas on a cruise and discovering the world’s greatest destinations, dreaming about love and, of course, happy endings since the shows always ended on a high note. I’m proud to have played a role in the growth of the cruise industry.”

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.

For our cruise, Elaine and I had a balcony cabin, C735. A whopping 1,438 cabins (81 percent) of Regal Princess cabins have balconies.

In addition to that all-important balcony with two lounge chairs and a table, our cabin had two twin beds, desk, chair, large flat screen TV and a small fridge which I will use every day. Pepsi is my caffeine of choice so I like to have a cold cola and plenty of ice water in my cabin.

Anytime dining option

Elaine and I picked the “Anytime” dining option. Some folks like a set reservation for each night’s dinner to prevent any possible waiting in line for a table. I prefer the flexibility of Anytime in case I want to stay ashore a little longer, finish a shipboard activity or write a blog while it’s still fresh in my mind.

The Regal Princess was launched in 2014. Photo Jackie Sheckler Finch

Launched in 2014, the Regal Princess can carry 4,222 passengers and 1,378 crew members. The ship has two swimming pools, jogging track, basketball court, fitness center, tennis court, spa, wedding chapel, library, internet café, self-laundry, casino, hot tub, shops, movie theatre, art gallery, photo gallery, theatre, WiFi, an eye-catching Piazza and much more.

For dining, the Regal Princess has three dining rooms – Symphony, Concerto and Allegro, plus the Horizon Court and Horizon Bistro near the top deck which offer food from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. In addition is the International Café near the Piazza which features sandwiches, snacks and desserts 24 hours a day.

Alfredo’s Pizzeria near the Piazza serves a set Italian menu in a smaller sit-down restaurant. Pizza, gelato, soft serve ice cream and a grill add still more choices. For an extra price, cruisers can dine at Sabatini’s, Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar, Crab Shack and Crown Grill. The Regal Princess has 10 bars.

The Piazza is a main gathering place on the Regal Princess. Photo Jackie Sheckler Finch

Princess Cays is a private resort situated on more than 40 acres on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. Exclusive to Princess Cruise passengers since 1992, Princess Cays offers more than 1.5 miles of white-sand beaches, water sports and shopping.

It’s always fun to step onto a new ship. The Regal Princess décor is lovely and subdued – warm woods, glistening marble, sparkling crystal, gleaming brass, bunches of windows, plenty of glass and light. The feeling is very open and airy.

While I was on the upper deck, I took photos of that unusual SeaWalk that juts out from the Lido Deck. It is a strange stomach-churning feeling to walk on that cantilevered glass walkway and see the ocean 16 decks below.

I saw passengers stroll out on the SeaWalk, bend over and wave to someone below who was taking a pic of them. Then the people on the SeaWalk would snap a photo of the person waving below. Oh, the things we do to entertain ourselves.

Cabin offers plenty of storage space

Our stateroom was decorated in neutral shades of cream and tan with light wood and a tan-patterned carpet that looks like honeycombs to me. On the wall opposite the beds was a big flat-screen TV with remote control. In-room movies and TV shows on-demand are free. Ship shows also are shown, including updates from the cruise director and information about various ports we would be visiting on our cruise.

A big colorful painting on the wall depicted a lovely boardwalk stretching into an ocean scene. Quite a nice sight but it couldn’t compare to the real ones outside by sliding glass doors.

The room also had two bedside stands with lamps, a fair-sized desk with a mirror and a chair, another armchair and round table, and a small refrigerator inside a cabinet which also served as a counter with three shelves on the side.

Between the end tables, desk and counter, our room had plenty of drawers. In addition, there was hanging space, hangers and more shelves in an open closet. A closed closet with shelves also had a safe.

The desk had a ship-wide telephone and a stationary hair dryer in the top right drawer. I heard someone asking the room attendant for a hair dryer because the passenger must not have opened all the drawers to discover the hidden hair dryer which they probably thought would be in the bathroom. I don’t use a hair dryer so I don’t know how good it was.

Complimentary white robes were available for use while on the cruise. If one wasn’t in a cabin, just ask the room attendant for one. The bathroom was small but big enough with a vanity, commode and shower. Shelves above the vanity offer even more storage space.

The walk-in shower had a shower curtain and wall dispensers with Lotus Spa shower gel and a shampoo/conditioner combo. I prefer to use a shampoo and then a conditioner so would bring my own next time. The vanity had a bar of soap and a tube of hand lotion.

Bedcovers are white European-style duvets and linens topped with posh fluffy pillows. The cabin attendant came in every night while we were at dinner, turned down the bed, left two chocolates on the pillow and removed the two green cushions and strip of green material at the bottom of the beds. He also left the next day’s Princess Patter newsletter on our bed.

The heart of the ship is the glittering three-deck-tall atrium called the Piazza. That’s right – three ship decks for a glorious gathering spot.

The Piazza has waterfalls, lighted spiral staircases, theatrical balconies, bars, dining places, ship services, shops and a huge chandelier twinkling overhead with sparkly fish.

Of course, these aren’t real fish. They are blown-glass fish swimming up and down the lighted columns of the three-deck-tall atrium.

The Italian-styled Piazza is where much of the entertainment will take place, where folks can sit to enjoy drinks and snacks and where passengers can show off their smooth dance moves on the circular floor. A glass-enclosed elevator glides up and down to give a birds-eye view of the plaza.

Mocktails are a creative offering on the Regal Princess. Photo Jackie Sheckler Finch

‘Mocktails’ are fun part of Princess soft drink package

The motto of Princess Cruises is “Come Back New.” The pleasure of “mocktails” is something new that will be coming back home with me.

I had never had a mocktail until my Regal Princess cruise. As the name implies, the drink is a cocktail but without alcohol. And it was part of my soft drink package on Regal Princess.

Cruise ships that charge inflated fees for soft drinks is a pet peeve of mine. My caffeine of choice is cola, Pepsi preferably, which most cruise ships don’t carry. It irks me to pay almost $3 for a small can of Coke or to buy a cruise-long soft drink package at a hefty charge.

But the beverage deal on the Regal Princess isn’t bad. In fact, I like the extras that come with the Unlimited Soda & More Package. The “more” seem to make it worthwhile.

When passengers board many big cruise ships, they will notice tables set up at visible spots selling beverage deals for the length of the cruise. If you are much of a drinker, the unlimited booze deals might be worth it but not for me.

What I picked was the Unlimited Soda & More Package which totaled $56.35 for my weeklong cruise. So, I drink a Coke for breakfast and one for lunch. How can that be a worthwhile package? On most ships, it isn’t.

However, this Unlimited Soda & More Package really does offer more for your buck. The package includes fountain sodas, mocktails, fruit smoothies and hot chocolate, plus a large insulated plastic Princess glass with a sturdy lid and straw.

It’s the mocktails that were a surprise. Maybe they sound yucky – a cocktail without liquor? – but they are quite good.

My first night, I found my favorite early evening spot on the second deck in the Piazza, listened to the band and ordered a mocktail mojito. Very minty and refreshing. Later I tried a mocktail margarita. Also delicious. The next evening I had a mocktail pina colada. All were surprisingly tasty and they look pretty. The bartender said he can turn any cocktail into a mocktail and it seemed like he was right.

I thought the bartenders might just dump a few fruit juices and some kind of seltzer in those mocktails. They don’t. What you get looks like the real thing with the little garnishes and tastes just as good to me.

As for the Piazza, it was really a hopping place. The beautiful three-deck tall Piazza hosted line dancing classes, a piano player, band, singer, comedian, classical musicians, games and more. The dance floor was quite popular for couples dancing in the evening.

I don’t know if anyone else was drinking mocktails on this cruise. But, then again, I don’t think anyone knew that the cold drink in front of me was all fluff and no alcohol. Fun drinks I had never had before.

Alfredo’s offers great food and quiet dining spot

When we walked up to the entry desk at Alfredo’s, the hostess asked if we would like a table by the window. This was a pleasant question. And the view of the ocean outside my window was a wonderful complement to our meal.

At first glance, I thought Alfredo’s was one of those pay-extra-to-eat-here restaurants on the Regal Princess. But it isn’t.

Alfredo’s is a surprisingly quiet dining spot with great ocean views and delicious food. If the menu changed a couple times during my cruise, I might have eaten lunch here every day. However, it is the same menu for the entire cruise.

Located near the Piazza on Deck six midship, Alfredo’s is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The décor is elegant but casual and comfortable. Circular booths and tables and chairs are spaced far enough apart for a bit of privacy.

Delicious dining choices

The menu, of course, was Italian and you could see the chefs working behind a glass partition at one end of the dining room. The menu offered a small choice of appetizers, entrees and desserts. The appetizer was so good that I enjoyed it again the next day.

The Antipasto Assortito di Magro was a yummy combo of mozzarella cheese, grilled zucchini, tomatoes and roasted red and yellow peppers, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and basil sauce.

Named Rollata di Merazaone, my entrée was baked rolled eggplant stuffed with angel hair pasta, mozzarella cheese and topped with cherry tomatoes and basil sauce. It was great. In addition, Alfredo’s offers a nice variety of thin-crust pizza. Two of the most popular, my server said, are the Pizza Hawaiian with ham, pineapple and chicken, and the Pizza Regal Princess with ham, Parmesan and cherry tomatoes.

For my second day lunch, I picked the pepperoni pizza, brimming with pepperoni and cheese. The Regal Princess also serves pizza at Prego Pizzeria on Deck 16. Prego’s pizza was good but nowhere near the quality of Alfredo’s.

Prego Pizzeria is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. near the swimming pool. I’ve seen passengers enjoying that pizza from the time it opens to the time it closes. I’ve had the pepperoni pizza there at movie time and it was handy to walk up and get a slice of pizza immediately.

I already know that, regardless of where I eat on the Regal Princess, I am going to go home with some extra weight that seems to be a souvenir of every happy voyage.

Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch

Cover photo: The SeaWalk is a popular photo spot on the Regal Princess.

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