REGAL PRINCESS Gala Christening!

In what may well be its most spectacular christening event to date, Princess Cruises kicked off the American debut of its newest, largest ship, the MV REGAL PRINCESS and launched the line’s 50th Anniversary celebrations in a major, star-studded gala at Fort Lauderdale.

Princess Cruises

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THE SANDS OF ALANG: The latest DVD about shipbreaking in Alang, India

All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2014 unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, November 6, 2014.

Princess Cruises named its latest Royal Class vessel, the 3,560-guest REGAL PRINCESS in a spectacular gala featuring the surviving members of the original Love Boat cast along with 25 other prominent guest stars at Fort Lauderdale.

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“Jeraldine with a ‘J'” Saunders, the former Princess cruise director who wrote “The Love Boats” book that prompted the television series. Photo by Mike Masino 2014.

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Original Love Boat pilot captain Dick Van Patten, veteran stage and screen star.

It began with a “Red Carpet” walk through of some of the series’ most popular guest stars (from Lonnie Anderson to Adrian Zmed) and opening speeches from emcee Florence Henderson (a last minute stand-in for “Love Boat” creator Aaron Spelling’s daughter Tori Spelling), Carnival’s CEO Arnold W. Donald and Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz.

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Charo wows the crowd with a virtuoso flamenco performance.

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Florence Henderson helms podium as the cast and frequent guest stars of The Love Boat look on. Photo by Mike Masino 2014.

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The Love Boat Cast as the bottle breaks! Photo by Mike Masino 2014.

Jack Jones reprised the show’s renowned theme song and Charo wowed the standing room only crowd on the ship’s top decks with a spectacular “Techno Flamenco” guitar performance before a local priest blessed the ship and all six of the original Love Boat cast members [Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Fred Grandy (Gopher, the chief purser), Ted Lange (Isaac, the bartender), Bernie Kopell (Doc, the ship’s doctor), Lauren Tewes (cruise director, Julie) and Jill Whelan (Vicki, the captain’s daughter)] pulled a lever that sent a record-breaking fifty champagne bottles smashing against the ship’s hull (as a nod to the company’s 50th anniversary celebration), along with a giant Nebuchadnezzar-sized 51st bottle into the base of the ship’s pool area balcony.

“The Love Boat put Princess Cruises on the map, bringing the romance and adventure of our cruise vacations into millions of viewers’ homes for the decade it was on air. So it was fitting that the cast was selected as godparents for REGAL PRINCESS as we begin our 50th anniversary celebrations,” said Jan Swartz, the line’s president.

The pilot episode of The Love Boat was shot aboard Princess’ 730-passenger first SUN PRINCESS (now laid up off Cambodia), with recently scrapped first PACIFIC PRINCESS and soon-to-be-scrapped first ISLAND PRINCESS then becoming the primary floating stars of the show. Later episodes and specials were filmed aboard many of Princess’ other cruise ships in destinations around the globe. The show, which aired from 1977 to 1986, went on to become one of the highest-rated and longest-running shows on television, introducing viewers to modern day cruising and, in the process, making Princess Cruises and its ships synonymous with vacations at sea.

The REGAL PRINCESS departs on its first cruise from Fort Lauderdale today, a three night jaunt to Princess Cays, Princess’ Bahamian Out Island, before beginning a regular season of Caribbean cruise vacations. Among the special features found on board are a dramatic multi-story atrium serving as the social hub of the ship, offering a host of dining and entertainment options and an over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship.

A fully illustrated Sea Treks blog report will soon follow.

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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