It was a night of love, or possibly L-U-R-V-E, as the stars of TV comedy The Love Boat gathered for the christening of cruise ship Regal Princess this week.
Six actors from the original cast acted as godparents and a host of performers who made guest appearances had walk-on parts in the lavish ceremony in Port Everglades, Florida.
Two Princess ships were used as locations for filming the series which ran for 10 seasons in the late 70s and early 80s.
Gavin MacLeod, who played Captain Stubing, was joined in the naming by Fred Grandy (Gopher, the chief purser), Ted Lange (Isaac, the bartender), Bernie Kopell (Doc, the ship’s doctor), Lauren Tewes (Julie, cruise director) and Jill Whelan (Vicki, the Captain’s daughter). Together, they pulled a ship’s telegraph to send 50 bottles of Champagne crashing against the ship’s hull - marking the start of celebrations of Princess’s 50th anniversary next year - and a final bottle by the ship’s pool.
The galaxy of stars also included Don Most, who played Ralph Malph on Happy Days; Jamie Farr, the cross-dressing Corporal Klinger from M*A*S*H; Florence Henderson, the mother in The Brady Bunch; singer Jack Jones; Golden Globe and BAFTA winner Diane Ladd; Falcon Crest star Lorenzo Lamas; Doris Roberts, the mother-in-law in Everybody Loves Raymond; Marion Ross, Mrs Cunningham in Happy Days; Frank Sinatra Jr; Dallas actress Charlene Tilton; Knots Landing’s Joan Van Ark; and Adrian Zmed from T.J.Hooker, among many others.
Star of the show, though, was singer-comedienne Charo, who appeared in eight episodes of the Love Boat and was a regular on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. She brought the house down with a flamboyant flamenco guitar performance.
A video tribute to the company’s history included reminiscences from founder Stan McDonald, now 94 and enjoying retirement in Seattle, and glimpses of the Duchess of Cambridge launching sister ship Royal Princess in Southampton last year, and Princess Diana christening an earlier ship of the same name.
Princess Cruises’ president Jan Swartz said the event was not just about love, but about passion - “50 years of passion and a passionate founder who believed travellers could be drawn to the seas.”
The £460 million Regal Princess carries 3,560 passengers and has its own TV studio and one of the biggest spas at sea. The almost identical sister ship Royal Princess will be sailing from Southampton throughout next summer, in competition with P&O’s Britannia - being built to a similar design - and Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas.