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The Love Boat makes another run and this time it sails as a reality show.

The Love Boat makes another run and this time it sails as a reality show.

The Real Love Boat rings singles together to cruise the Mediterranean while looking for love. Destination dates, challenges and surprise singles will test the couples’ compatibility and chemistry.

A banner at the launch party for the new “The Real Love Boat.”

After watching the first episode, I think the new show strives to honor the universal nostalgia of the original and cleverly leverages the best parts of reality competition shows.

  • The kickoff party for “The Real Love Boat” was at the Los Angeles World Cruise Terminal — where the opening shots of the original show were filmed. Cruising, dating, and television sure have changed in the last 45 years.

The original series first aired in 1977 and lasted until 1996. With over 50 million viewers each week.

  • Many of the on-board scenes were filmed aboard the Sun, Pacific and Island Princesses. The ships sailed out of the Port of Los Angeles and at that time I was a teenager leading tours on board the Queen Mary.

Hosted by Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell, the cruise will set sail throughout the Mediterranean, making ports of call in Barcelona, Marseille, Rome, Santorini, Athens, and more. The singles will search for true love, all while tasked with competing in challenges to test their compatibility with other players.

Back in those days, four tour guides would often share a cabin for a weekend cruise and it would cost us less than a hundred bucks each for all-inclusive passage.

  • The three original ships were all about 500 feet long and each carried between 600 and 700 passengers. The new “Real Love Boat” was filmed on the 1,083-foot Regal Princess — carrying 3,560 passengers — making her twice the length, double the number of decks and six times the number of passengers as earlier vessels.

The original show focused on five crew members — the captain, cruise director, bartender, purser, and the ship’s doctor. There were also guest stars, like Charo, Don Most, Christopher Kight, and Joan Van Ark.

  • Gavin MacLeod, who played the captain Merrill Stubing, died in 2021.
  • Fred Grandy’s role was of the purser, “Gopher.” The Harvard-educated Iowan went on to serve in the House of Representatives, and today he hosts a morning drive time talk show. Nowadays pursers have been replaced with guest services staff.
  • Ted Lange, who played Isacc the bartender, has gone on to a successful career that includes filming, scripting, and directing roles, with his favorite role “King Lear’s” Gloucester.
  • Charo the singer and flamenco guitarist seemed to be the only cast member that didn’t age.
  • Bernie Kopell played the role of a lady’s man doctor for 250 episodes — he is now 88 years old.
  • The relationships between those working on board and passengers may be the biggest change.

Dr. Richard Reubin, a retired physician living in Watford, in the UK about 15 miles northwest of central London, was a ship’s doctor in 1977 on the Island Princess when I met him. Last week, he sent me a copy of the ship’s officer regulations.

  • “The regulations (from the line’s parent company) were printed in 1966 but were still in force in Princess Cruises, almost unedited, when I worked in the company.” Reubin explained in an email.
  • He described how ship life shifted over the past four decades.
    “Up until the modern era, Ship’s Officers were encouraged and sometimes ordered to help entertain passengers by socializing, dancing and buying rounds of drinks.
  • I was given an entertainment allowance and never saw my bar bill. I remember one of the captains telling me that when he was first appointed to a passenger ship, he was sent off to a ballroom dancing teacher so that he was socially equipped!
  • “We also had to host a table in the restaurant and were allocated a group of passengers for the duration of a voyage. It was all table service then.”
  • Those days are long gone.
  • “I have been told that officers and crew are now forbidden from fraternizing with passengers or entering passenger spaces except in the course of their duties,” he added.

The new series is great fun — too bad they missed the boat filming the realities of the 1970s. As long as Charo remains ageless and the bartender quotes Shakespeare, I’m okay not foxtrotting with the captain.

‘The Love Boat’: How a TV show transformed the cruise industry

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