"Love ... exciting and new
Come Aboard. We're expecting you."
Thus began what are now extremely familiar lyrics, written by Paul Williams and Charles Fox, for the classic TV series, The Love Boat. The show began with a couple of made-for-TV movies that served as pilots. Eventually, it settled into a routine with Gavin McLeod as the ship's captain, Bernie Kopell as the doctor, Ted Lange as the bartender, Fred Grandy as the purser, Lauren Tewes as the cruise director, and, added later, Jill Whelan as the captain's daughter. Years later, it was revived for a couple of seasons at the helm of a new ship's captain, played by the late Robert Urich, and his crew.
"The Love Boat promises something for everyone," the song continued.
Every week viewers were taken on a cruise adventure with two to three star-studded subplots. It was the place to go to see young stars as well as the stars of yesteryear. The ship on which all of this happened was the Pacific Princess, a real vessel owned and operated for cruises by the Princess Cruise Lines.
Decades since the 1977 TV series began and after thousands of actual cruising adventures for people all over the world, the Pacific Princess is meeting its end.
Alas, it is true. La Repubblica, an Italian newspaper, has reported that the ship has been sold to a Turkish demolition company for roughly $3.3 million. An icon for Aaron Spelling who produced the show and for millions of happy TV watchers, The Love Boat will be scrapped and become nothing but a celluloid memory.
The ship began as the Sea Venture for Flagship Cruises. That company sold the ship to Princess Cruises in 1974. With a name change, the 600-passenger Pacific Princess began a fruitful run that is credited for revitalizing the cruising industry thanks to the ABC TV show. In 2003, the small and dated vessel was sold, sold, and sold again until it landed in dry dock in Genoa, Italy. When the new owner failed to pay a bill for refurbishing and removal of asbestos, the ship was sold for the last time and ordered to be scrapped.
Fans of The Love Boat mourn this sad demise. How frustrating and disheartening it is that some institution could not set up a happier ending for what surely have been an adventure of an attraction.
Instead, fans can only sing and remember.
"Love won't hurt anymore
It's an open smile on a friendly shore.
It's the Love Boat-ah! It's the Love Boat-ah!"