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Love was in the air as Princess Cruises kicked off its 50th anniversary with a Love Boat reunion and a new ship.

The captain wore his dress uniform. The groom, looking dapper in a gray suit and pale gold tie, smiled as he gazed at his bride, radiant in a white strapless gown trimmed in gold lace. “I now pronounce you man and wife,” said the captain, as the couple kissed and a bevy of blue and white balloons cascaded from the ceiling.


In Title: The Love Boat cast, godparents for the Regal Princess, gathered on the ship last November. They are from left to right: (front row) Jill Whelan, Gavin MacLeod, and Bernie Kopell; (back row) Fred Grandy, Cynthia Lauren Tewes, and Ted Lange. Rob Comeau photo

Above: The Regal Princess will offer cruises to Europe, New England/Canada, and Caribbean ports in 2015.

Below: The impressive atrium is a hub of activity aboard the ship, as well as a beautiful setting for a wedding. Princess Cruises photos


A happy couple getting married at sea–it might have been a scene from an old Hollywood movie, but this ceremony was real. Fran Golden and David Molyneaux celebrated their nuptials aboard Princess Cruises’ new Regal Princess during a three-night cruise out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., last November. The wedding captured the shipboard atmosphere because this cruise was all about love.

Come aboard, we’re expecting you

Festivities had begun a few days earlier when the six members of the original cast of The Love Boat television series gathered on the 3,560-passenger, 142,229-ton vessel at Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades. Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Fred Grandy (Gopher, the chief purser), Ted Lange (Isaac, the bartender), Bernie Kopell (Doc, the ship’s doctor), Cynthia Lauren Tewes (Julie, the cruise director), and Jill Whelan (Vicki, the captain’s daughter) officially named the ship, which had entered service in Europe last May, and kicked off Princess Cruises’ 2015 50th anniversary celebrations.

As a fan of the hit TV show that ran from 1977–87 and showcased cruising to America, I was thrilled to be aboard. Passengers assembled on Regal Princess’ top two decks as stars such as Jill Whelan interviewed Loni Anderson, Jamie Farr, and others who had guest-starred on the show. Florence Henderson emceed, and Charo, looking fabulous in a tight-fitting jumpsuit, wowed the crowd by playing classical Flamenco music on her guitar. And when Jack Jones walked onto the central platform and sang “The Love Boat” theme song in a voice still rich and powerful, everyone cheered.

“It was one of the best nights of my life,” said Whelan, after the naming.

“This is the only show with an alumni association,” added Grandy.

That camaraderie among the former cast members seemed to permeate the ship as Regal Princess set sail the next day for its short Caribbean visit, which included a day at Princess Cays, the cruise line’s private beach at the southern tip of Eleuthra in the Bahamas, and then a day at sea.

When I went ashore at Princess Cays, I saw kids snorkeling in the clear, shallow water, couples giggling as they pedaled aqua bikes, and families setting out on glass-bottom boat rides. Sounds of laughter mingled with the strains of drum and guitar from a local duo.

Something for everyone

Back on the ship, lounges and restaurants hummed with the sights of sounds of people enjoying being together. Throughout each day, couples and groups gathered in the three-deck-high atrium, which features soaring glass-like pillars, to chat over coffee, drinks or gelato.

“This is my first real cruise, other than when I was in the military, and I’m enjoying it very much,” said New York City sanitation worker James Mercer, as he and Barbara Cox, a nurse from Pensacola, Fla., sat in the marble-floored piazza at the atrium’s base.

“I’m here with a family group, and Barbara’s my sister’s friend,” Mercer explained, as we sat listening to a string quartet play classical music. “I love sitting here, listening to music. If you sit here long enough, something exciting happens.”

The staff, too, seemed to express an extra measure of friendliness. Fitness instructors kept our exercise groups smiling through Zumba classes on an outdoor basketball court as they led us through dances that included salsa, rock, and hip hop. When I dined in Italian specialty restaurant Sabatini’s, our table’s waitress mixed up an order, but she was so cheerful, I felt like I was at a party. The staff in the Horizon Court buffet restaurant was helpful whether checking the congee (rice porridge) at the Asian breakfast station or serving bacalhau (salted cod), pao de queijo (cheese bread), and empanadas at the Brazilian-style dinner.

During the cruise, the six Love Boat cast members made appearances.

“We were all just grateful to have a job,” said Kopell at a question-and-answer session. “Being welcomed aboard a beautiful ship and getting out of LA and beyond the 12-mile limit (of territorial waters) was a dream. And the dream continues.”

“The thing that has made this show special,” said Grandy, “was that it made cruising seem accessible to people who never thought they’d have a shot at something as luxurious as this.”

Crowning the cruise’s collegial vibe, the wedding took place in the piazza. Cleveland, Ohio-based travel journalists Golden and Molyneux had started dating on a cruise ship. “So getting married on one just made sense,” said Golden later, noting that the process was relatively simple. “The Princess wedding coordinator handled the details. Our marriage license is from Bermuda.”

In addition to invited family and friends, the rest of the ship’s passengers were welcome to attend. They filled the atrium.

The string quartet played. Opera singer Annette Wardell sang “Juliet’s Waltz” from Romeo and Juliet. Gavin MacLeod presented a reading, and Capt. Edward Perrin performed the ceremony. After the balloons dropped, guests toasted the couple.

“It was wonderful to have the ship’s captain as the officiant,” said Golden. “And it was great to see not only our family and friends but also fellow passengers and crew excited about our big day.”

“‘Wow,’ I thought, when I first spied Fran walking in,” said Molyneaux. “She’d had her hair done at the spa, and the 1930s curly, movie-actress hairdo was a whole new image.”

As the couple started to dance, everyone in the atrium seemed entranced by romance.

Elizabeth Harryman is travel editor of Westways, the AAA magazine for southern California.

March/April 2015 Issue


The Regal Princess returns to the Caribbean Oct. 24. Prior to that, beginning in mid-April and continuing through August, the ship will offer European cruises before returning home Sept. 11 on a trans-Atlantic voyage. New England/Canada fall foliage cruises from New York will begin Sept. 26 and continue through Oct. 17.

For more information, including pricing and AAA member benefits, see your AAA Travel agent. View a list of offices to serve you.


A Golden Anniversary

Princess Cruises is celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout 2015 with special onboard events and amenities, including these.

• Chocolate Journeys. As part of the line’s ongoing chocolate program, pastry chef and chocolatier Norman Love has created two special desserts that will be served on alternating voyages: chocolate raspberry mousse with vanilla crème brulee and crunchy shortbread, or moist chocolate dome with raspberry crème brulee and bittersweet chocolate mousse.

• Love Boat Disco Deck Party. Ships will offer a ‘70s theme night including ‘music videos, Love Boat sing-a-longs, trivia contests, and a live kiss cam.

• Celebration Menus. One night on each cruise, the main dining rooms will offer classic dishes from each of the five past decades. Ships will also serve special anniversary pizzas, such as spicy tomato-and-shrimp and bacon-and-Brie.

Princess Cruises photo

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