ABOARD THE REGAL PRINCESS-The naming ceremony of the Regal Princess transcended just the official christening of a brand new ship. In addition to celebrating a long-standing maritime tradition, the naming ceremony became a 1970s TV shows cast reunion, which was exactly what everyone onboard was hoping for.
When the original The Love Boat cast was named as the official godparents of the Regal Princess ship, everyone expected a nostalgic nod to the television show that quite literally catapulted cruising into the tourism spotlight.
What brought down the house of media, travel agents and industry insiders who gathered together on the Regal Princess docked at Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, though, was the cavalcade of names and faces that we have all grown up with and still love. Stars such as Loni Anderson, Rich Little, Joyce DeWitt, and Marion Ross joined The Love Boat cast to welcome the Regal Princess to cruising guests.
As Fred Grandy, who played Gopher, said, “We’re the only TV show with an alumni association.”
Indeed, just as familiar as Captain Steubing, Doc, Gopher, Julie, Isaac and Vicki were as fixtures on The Love Boat episodes, so too were the guest stars. The biggest names from television shows of the era, such as Happy Days, The Brady Bunch, and Three’s Company, often appeared as guest stars on The Love Boat in memorable plot lines.
The naming ceremony of the Regal Princess, which coincides with the kick-off of the 50th Anniversary celebrations for Princess Cruise Lines, brought back all of the nostalgia of those iconic first travel TV shows, guest stars and all.
As each guest star walked a gold carpet for a live interview with Jill Whelan, who played Vicki, they recounted their favorite episodes and what it meant to them to have appeared on the show.
Soon, the original cast of The Love Boat appeared, all dressed in their original uniforms from the TV show. Florence Henderson served as the emcee, with notables from Carnival Corporation, which owns Princess Cruises, and the president of Princess Cruise Lines, Jan Swartz.
Jack Jones sang The Love Boat theme song, which he recorded nearly four decades previously for the TV show. A tribute to Princess Cruises Founder Stanley B. McDonald recounted the efforts that he took to launch a cruise line well before most travelers were familiar with cruising.
Soon after, 50 bottles of champagne were launched against the Regal Princess, one for each year of the company’s sailing. An additional large bottle of champagne was broken on deck to represent the moving forward of Princess Cruises into the next half century.