Living the cruise dream on the Regal Princess Love Boat
Welcome aboard the two-day Princess party
After a long flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, my excitement reached fever pitch once I arrived at the hotel, as I could see the ship from the driveway and the water taxi around the city. I knew immediately it was going to be an incredible two days, with welcome signs, balloons and friendly staff there to greet us at Boarding. The fact it was also a celebration of Princess' 50th birthday made it a combined party atmosphere.
I dropped my bags at the cabin, which had a spacious balcony, and my first port of call was the Seawalk (a 60ft long walkway, 128ft above the ocean, with views of the sea below) and Seaview Bar. Even though we were in port, I could understand the appeal of walking over the perspex glass while cruising the ocean.
Then I got my first big surprise as I enjoyed a delicious Mojito I looked across the bar and saw the smiling face of Ted Lange (pictured), otherwise known as bartender Isaac Washington, who starred in the iconic TV show. Starting in 1977, The Love Boat ran for 10 years and was syndicated around the world.
The rest of the day was spent exploring the ship and checking out all the new features. Highlights included:
Pizza & Burger Bar on pool Deck: A great range and fresh, tasty burgers and pizza.
Bars & Common Areas: Plenty of places to sit, chat, have a drink and relax... from busy areas to quiet nooks.
Retreat Pool (pictured): A spacious, adults-only area with plenty of Deck Chairs and Cabanas you can rent. Close by is the Sanctuary (cover charge) with massages available, as well as nibbles.
Wine & Chocolate pairing: Norman Love has added his expertise to the Celebrations Chocolate Shop (pictured) to sample some of the sweet delights with a matching wine.
Television star on Regal Princess
Dinner on the first night was at Symphony Dining Room, where the food offered the traditional along with some unusual dishes... Beef stuffed Yucca Root? I had to try it and I'm delighted I did.
After a sumptuous meal we headed to the Princess Live studio for a game of Yes, No, where staff ask a series of questions and you cannot answer Yes or No. Make it to three minutes and you win a spot prize. Sitting on stage under flashing lights, with game-show sounds, a large microphone and a camera, it feels like an actual TV set. Sad to say I only made it to 28 seconds... but not as bad as an American passenger who only managed three! A handful of winners completed the whole three minutes. Next stop was the Retreat Bar which turned into an outdoor nightclub with DJ, before calling it a night.
Captain Stubing welcomes the guests
Wednesday the 5th was THE day and Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing) was often seen floating around the ship doing a video montage of all that was new and wonderful. After a relaxing morning, and a few samples from the largest Pastry Shop at sea (Pictured), we got ready for the naming ceremony and reunion party.
Everyone was dressed in a nautical theme and ready to enjoy themselves. Jill Whelan (Vicki Stubing) started off the afternoon by introducing the guest stars onboard and reminiscing about their Love Boat episodes, which were showing on the big screen. The atmosphere was of excitement and very jovial, with staff mingling with a range of cocktails, mocktails and nibbles.
Charo, Jack Jones and a night of music
After a short break, the official events kicked off with introductions of the actors, special guests and Princess officials. Florence Henderson (Carol Brady) was a charming MC who kept us entertained throughout. The evening progressed with speeches from Princess president Jan Swartz and Carnival Corporation CEO and president Arnold Donald.
It was then time to take a wonderful trip down memory lane, as John Jones (stage name Jack) performed the infamous Love Boat signature tune, with more music from Las Vegas boysband Motive and high-energy singing and dancing from Charo, aka April. I was lucky enough to meet her later on and she presented me with a rose for dancing with her!
The Love Boat cast then released 50 bottles of champagne against the hull to celebrate 50 years of Princess Cruises, before the final naming ceremony for Regal Princess. Cheers broke out as a single large bottle smashed and thousands of gold streamers flew around the deck.
Fit for a Princess
Celebrations continued on the pool deck with a stunning display of fireworks and mingling on the pool deck - I even got photos with Issac, John Jones & Charles Fox (who wrote the theme song), before heading back to the Retreat Pool, where I also spoke to Arnold Donald and congratulated him on an amazing event and product. The perfect way to end the evening... head to the International Cafe in the Piazza for a Lamb Pie!
The Love Boat made history as a TV show and Princess Cruises are continuing that global cruising legacy.
What are your memories of the amazing TV show? Are you travelling or have travelled on a Princess cruise? Please leave your comments below - we love to see your feedback.