Stars of TV’s Love Boat tonight christened Princess Cruises’ new ship Regal Princess.
Six actors who played key roles in the sitcom became the godparents of the 141,000-ton vessel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
They were joined by 25 guest stars from the series, which ran in the Seventies and Eighties and introduced millions of viewers to the idea of cruising.
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).
Other stars included Don Most, who played Ralph Malph on Happy Days; Jamie Farr, who was Klinger on M*A*S*H; Florence Henderson, the mum in The Brady Bunch; singer Jack Jones; Christopher Knight, also from The Brady Bunch; Golden Globe winner Diane Ladd; Falcon Crest star Lorenzo Lamas; Doris Roberts, the mother-in-law in Everybody Loves Raymond; Happy Days star Marion Ross; singer Frank Sinatra Jr; Dallas actress Charlene Tilton and Knots Landing’s Joan Van Ark.
Tori Spelling, actress and daughter of Love Boat producer Aaron Spelling, was replaced as master of ceremonies by Florence Henderson. Spelling said she was ‘terribly disappointed’ to miss the gold carpet event as she was recovering from a spell in hospital.
Jack Jones sang the theme tune and a highlight of the evening was a closing guitar solo by Love Boat favourite Charo.
As well as naming the ship, the ceremony also marked the beginning of celebrations for 50 years of Princess Cruises. So, in a twist to events, 50 bottles of champagne were smashed against the hull before the 51st was launched by the Love Boat cast.
Regal Princess, which began sailing in May, is a sister ship to Royal Princess, christened by the Duchess of Cambridge in Southampton last year. Among the features of the £460million, 3,500-passenger ship are a large atrium, private poolside cabanas, TV studios and a 28ft-long glass-bottomed SeaWalk that extends over the edge of the ship.
The Love Boat series ran from 1977 for ten seasons, becoming one of the most popular prime-time shows in the US. It is still shown in 93 countries worldwide, having been translated into 29 languages. Most of the programmes were filmed on Princess ships.
The evening ended with a fireworks spectacular. Newly named Regal Princess sets off for the Caribbean tomorrow.
Dave flew with British Airways
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