Onboard golf courses, theme parks, rock climbing walls, ice skating rinks, health spas, theatres, shops and wave pools – modern day cruise ships are aquatic utopias and it’s all thanks to Captain Stubing and his crew from the classic television series The Love Boat.
Launched in 1977, the American sitcom was set on a fictional cruise ship, with each of its 250 episodes sticking to a formula where new guests would get onboard each week, looking for romance and adventure on the open seas.
Brought to life with sappy humour and earnest overacting, The Love Boat was never going to win any awards, but it did come at the perfect time for the business of cruising, which was quickly being swallowed by the boom of the airline industry.
With sappy humour and earnest overacting, The Love Boat was never going to win any awards, but it did come at the perfect time for the business of cruising.
Having morphed from transport for the masses, into a floating symbol of luxury, cruises had managed to stay popular, until the world started speeding up, and people began wondering, “Why would I sail from Sydney to Auckland, when I could fly there in a few hours?”
But just like the wounded hearts that walked its gangplank, The Love Boat fixed all that.
As the show became a hit around the world, people from Australia to Venezuela started thinking about booking a cruise for their next holiday.
“Something beautiful happens on a ship that doesn’t occur at a resort, on an airplane, or at a hotel,” said Jeraldine Saunders, the former cruise director, and author of the book The Love Boats, which inspired the show.
“Perhaps it has something to do with the movement of the ship, but people let their protective walls down and become playful on a cruise. They smile and start talking to strangers.”