The Love Boat & Modern Day Cruising

Love, exciting and new.
Come Aboard. We’re expecting you.
Love, life’s sweetest reward.
Let it flow, it floats back to you.

The Love Boat

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember these words? These words could be heard being sung on most TV’s throughout America years ago on Saturday nights. The Love Boat debuted on TV in 1977 and really put cruising in the spotlight, especially Princess Cruises. As many of you probably remember, the Pacific Princess would depart San Pedro every week taking a new set of passengers (which included usually 3 sets of passengers who had either marriages in trouble or other love problems) to exotic ports of call throughout the Mexican Riviera. Of course, the ship was commanded by Captain Merrill Stubing and his crew which included Burl “Gopher” Smith, your Yeoman Purser; Dr. Adam Bricker (Doc), your ship’s doctor; Isaac Washington, your bartender; and of course Julie McCoy, your cruise director. Every week the Pacific Princess would sail and it became this hilarious crew’s job to make sure everyone had the best time on their cruise and also to fix their love problems at the same time!

Pacific Princess, aka "The Love Boat"...

Pacific Princess, aka "The Love Boat", off the US West Coast in 1971 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like I said before, the Love Boat is what in some ways, really launched the cruise industry. At the time, cruising was relatively new. Both Carnival and Royal Caribbean were not even 10 years old yet. The phrase most commonly associated with cruising back then (and even still sometimes today) was that cruising is for “the newlyweds and the nearly dead.” Now imagine a cruise ship departing each week, filled with young, energetic passengers that sailed to exotic ports such as Acapulco, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. Each week you could enjoy this cruise right there on your TV, and after a while it convinced people to actually take a cruise! The Love Boat showed people that cruising can be for the average person. You don’t need to be incredibly rich or even old to take a cruise. The Love Boat showed the world that cruising is for everyone! Now the question is, how much has the cruise industry changed since the Love Boat? Well, I started to write down some fun observations I noticed while watching season 1, and I realized that cruising really has changed a lot in just under 50 years. So let’s take a “cruise” back in time and compare cruising during the Love Boat era and cruising in todays modern cruise industry.

  • The size of the ship and public rooms. Obviously the Pacific Princess (which only weighs 20,000 tons) is way smaller than the Grand Princess, which weighs 109,000 tons. So you can safely assume that you have much more than just shuffleboard and ping-pong to choose from as on board “activities.” You now have rock walls, surfing simulators, water slides, and even zip-lines! Passengers on the Pacific Princess seemed pretty content with skeet-shooting, which is obviously gone now on the major lines. Hey, would you arm a drunk cruise passenger with a loaded gun? 🙂 The size of cabins on cruise ships seem to have grown a bit larger, and obviously with the addition of balconies, cabins are much nicer now. Unfortunately, the size of the bathrooms in the staterooms really haven’t changed much from the Love Boat Era. Dining is on a much larger scale now then it was back in the Love Boat Era. On Pacific Princess, you really just had the Coral Dining Room to eat at, whereas now you have possibly 10+ restaurants to choose from for just one meal!
Pacific Princess & Grand Princess in Split on ...

(New) Pacific Princess & Grand Princess (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Safety and crew. Safety has obviously changed over the years, and with recent events some rules and regulations have already changed and some may still be changed. The one thing that caught my attention on the Love Boat was the number of stowaways that find their way on board the Pacific Princess. How these people weren’t caught trying to get on board is beyond me, considering you can’t even visit embarking passengers anymore. Another thing I thought was funny and odd was that Gopher and Julie would just yell out passengers cabin numbers in the middle of the lobby! Cruise lines don’t even print your cabin number on room keys anymore due to safety concerns! You can obviously tell that safety wasn’t as big of an issue back then, which actually seems nice. The crew. Do you ever see the ship’s crew after their shifts. Nope. Yet, the Love Boat crew makes sure to meet every single passenger and hang out with them all day long. On a cruise today, you would never see that, which actually is a shame.

So those were really the two biggest areas where I saw change in the industry, but I still have more. On a lighter note, I wanted to share my top 6 favorite observations from watching season 1, so here we go.

#6 – It seems like none of the crew on the Love Boat had actual jobs. They were always hanging out with each other on the Lido Deck or in the lobby.

#5 – There was nobody ever at guest services complaining! Wouldn’t that be nice! 🙂

#4 – What is a Yeoman Purser?

Really Captain Stubing? Shorts?

#3 – Ticker tape goodbye. No longer a “thing” thanks to environmentalists, plus would you buy streamers and confetti for 3,000 people?

#2 – 1 elevator, really? 1 elevator for 600 passengers, yea that should work out well.

#1 – Shorts on officers. Why? 🙂     ——->

So in the end we really have to thank the Love Boat for giving us the cruise industry we know and love today. Who knows, had it never have been on TV the cruise industry may still be for just the “newlyweds and nearly dead” instead of the ever growing, and exciting cruise industry we have today.

Did I miss something you thought should be mentioned about the Love Boat or do you just want to share a Love Boat memory? Then leave a comment below!

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Mike Faust

Mike Faust is an avid world traveler, often found traversing city streets in Asia and Europe rather than his home city of Boca Raton. Mike has touched down in 39 countries, set sail on 35 cruises, and flown over 400,000 lifetime miles.