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Friday File: The Princess Celebration

Yesterday was the big day for Princess Cruises, which has had many big days over the last 50 years. Yesterday being December 3, it was the actual 50th anniversary of the first Princess cruise — Los Angeles to Mexico on the Princess Patricia. It was also the first day of the cruise to re-create that first itinerary, this time on the Pacific Princess. That was the name of The Love Boat that is credited with bringing cruising to the masses, but this is a more recent iteration, one that joined the fleet in 2002. The original Pacific Princess is long gone but her memories were ever-present yesterday at the 50th Anniversary bash in Southern California…

Princess Cruises celebrates their 50th Anniversary with the original cast of The Love Boat aboard Pacific Princess at the Port of Los Angeles on Thurs., Dec. 3, 2015, in San Pedro, Calif. (Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for Princess Cruises/AP Images)

It’s been 29 years since The Love Boat’s nine-year reign ended on prime time television but six members of the cast were on hand yesterday: Bernie Kopell (Doc), Fred Frandy (Gopher), Ted Lange (Isaac), Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Lauren Tewes (Julie) and Jill Whelan (Vicki Stubing).

Princess Patricia

The ship that started it all, the Princess Patricia, which sailed the Mexican Riviera on the first week of December 1965.

Pacific Princess-1

It was the original Pacific Princess that became The Love Boat and made a TV show, a crew of actors and the cruise industry famous.

Royal Princess-Kate

Two years ago, Kate the Duchess of Cambridge christened the Royal Princess to join the family of Princess Godmothers — which includes Princess Diana.

2015 Princess Rose Parade Float Photo by Rob Comeau for Princess Cruises

The 50th anniversary celebrations kicked off 328 days ago, with a float in the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena on New Year’s Day.

Capt. Ravera

Gavin MacLeod notwithstanding, Captain Stefano Ravera is our favorite Princess captain, from an Alaska cruise on the Star Princess.

Majestic Princess

To validate how far the cruise line has come since 1965, take a peek at the Majestic Princessdue to make its maiden voyage in 2017.

— Love Boat reunion photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for Princess Cruises/AP Images) & Rose Parade Float photo by Rob Comeau

In the news…

• Carnival Live’s new performer: comedian Kathy Griffin, for two cruises in February
• MSC Armonia and Opera both to have Havana as home port next November

Today at portsandbows.comPrincess does it right for passengers 

Holland America Amsterdam
1 night
May 21, 2016
Vancouver, Seattle
Inside: $99
Cost per day: $99

Great Time To Go Caribbean Cruising

There’s a reason why the default destination is a “Caribbean” cruise. You don’t hear people talking about a European cruise with the same frequency…nor Alaska…nor even Mediterranean.

With weather that is rarely an issue, the Caribbean is home to 40 per cent of the cruise business. That’s why it should surprise nobody that, as reported by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), a record number of ships visited the Caribbean this year (235). And that the record will last only a year, when it will jump to 239.

There are more ships sailing to the Caribbean from more places. Notably, from Houston, Galveston, New Orleans, New York and New Jersey…joining the traditional Florida ports: CaribbeanMiami, Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral, Tampa and Jacksonville. Cruise lines have to make these departure decisions a couple of years in advance and then hope their research is right.

Clearly, they couldn’t have seen this coming.

Because, with the plethora of Caribbean cruises comes some good news for cruisers. With 378,256 beds to fill this year come lower prices, some as low as $41 a day from Galveston. Better to have a bargain bed than an empty one.

However, with such deals comes a mini-exodus of cruise ships to other parts of the world. Carnival is dispatching ships to Australia. Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, arrives to cruise the Caribbean in November…for less than a year before heading to Shanghai. After working the Caribbean year-round since they arrived, Oasis of the Seas (2009) and Allure of the Seas (2010) are going to be spending part of their years in Europe.

When cruise lines react to this apparent saturation by relocating ships, the decisions to bring them back also must be made two years in advance. So once the ratio is right, that will be the end of these sweetheart deals.

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Pacific Princess
11 nights
September 28, 2014
Honolulu, Nawiliwili, Lahaina, Hilo, Bora Bora, Moorea, Papeete
Inside: $999
Cost per day: $90

The Love Boat's value increasing

Are you ready for re-runs of The Love Boat?

If that’s not next, it can’t be far away.

Princess promotes a Love Boat cruise and it sells out 18 months before sailing. Now, Princess has named the entire original cast of the famous TV show as “godparents” of the Regal Princess, a new ship that has been without such blessings since she hit the water in the spring.

The ceremony will be in Florida, in November, after the Regal Princess makes her first Atlantic crossing.

The Love Boat original cast — Captain Merrill Stubing (Gavin MacLeod), Isaac the bartender Ted Lange), Julie the cruise director (Lauren Tewes), Doc Bricker the ship’s Love Boat castdoctor (Bernie Kopell), Gopher the yeoman purser (Fred Grandy) and Vicki the captain’s kid (Jill Whelan) — will officially name the ship that cruise passengers will have been sailing on for six months by then.

Talk about nostalgia.

On the eve of its 50th anniversary, Princess discovered there was still equity in The Love Boat. Even the most optimistic Princess patterers couldn’t have imagined how much equity there was in a made-for-TV movie that was spun into a regular series lasting 10 years. Only MacLeod, Kopell and Lange appeared in all episodes of the series. And “original” does not apply to the first two of three made-for-TV movies, only the TV series.

Other ships were used but it’s widely known that the now-deceased Pacific Princess was the true Love Boat.

The show has been syndicated in many countries in many languages for many years. Surely, it will be revived in America — even if only on Princess ships with more regularity.

And if you think that means more pocket change for that original cast, well, it doesn’t. In the ’70s, they accepted contracts paying them just for their acting, with nothing for syndication.

After all, who could have known?

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Emerald Princess
7 nights
November 16, 2014
Houston (return):  Roatan, Belize, Cozumel
Inside: $449
Cost per day: $64

Princess Finds Big Winner…Again


On our calendar, it's 492 days until December 3, 2015. Can you believe there's a cruise that's sold out that far in advance…in fact, even further, because this isn't exactly "breaking news" as they say incessantly on CNN?

The Love Boat Cruise is sold out.

Billed as the "50th Anniversary Mexican Riviera" cruise, it quickly became known as the "Love Boat Cruise" cruise among Princess passengers and television viewers, because it will re-trace the wake left by The Love Boat  when the popular TV show of the '70s that kick-started the cruise line's popularity.

Okay…some of the wake.

The anniversary ship will be the Pacific Princess, a namesake of the original Love Boat, so that's part of the attraction, too. It's small — 670 passengers — just like the original and its real purpose is to celebrate the cruise line's 50th birthday. That original ship Captain Stubingfrom 1965 was called the Princess Patricia, leased from Canadian Pacific, and it survived less than a year, so ill-suited was it for warm-weather cruises.

The original Pacific Princess, on the other hand, lasted 27 years with the company and several more after she was sold. Included in that was a decade-long run as star of the TV show that introduced many Americans to cruising. Her hops down the Mexican Riviera were short (most times the ship never left California waters) and next year's unique cruise is not.

It lasts two weeks round-trip from Los Angeles, because that's how long the first-ever Princess cruise was, and ventures inland from the riviera. With six ports, it will give passengers a real taste of Mexico — adding Manzanillo on the Riviera and venturing inland to La Paz and Loreto on the Sea of Cortez to the traditional Big Three ports (Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas).

Prices started at $1,699 per person, or about $120 a day). The date of departure, December 3, is exactly 50 years from when the cruise line launched the Princess Patricia.

Princess promises there will be "special guests" on board…Captain Stubing (Gavin MacLeod) himself, perhaps?

But here's the real question:

By selling out a year and a half in advance, won't Princess be tempted to run "Love Boat" cruises again…and again..and again…?

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: Busy times in Galveston

Holland America Westerdam
7 nights
November 22, 2014
Fort Lauderdale (return): Grand TurkSan JuanSt. ThomasHalf Moon Cay
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71

Is Europe Ready To Be A Short-Cruise Market?

Now here's a real test for whether the cruise public is interested in short cruises. You know, the 3-night and 4-night kind that cruise lines are test-marketing these days. Call in sick Friday, take Monday off and…boom, a 4-night cruise is yours.

The "real test" comes next spring in England, with Royal Caribbean's new (2015) Anthem of the Seas. The cruise line is billing it as a get-to-know-us strategy for Quantum Classpeople who are new to cruising or people who hate (yes, they do exist) the prospect of cruising, in the hope they'll change their minds.

It has been floated out by Princess and Carnival, to name two cruise lines, in North America. However, North America is a different animal than Europe, if you haven't noticed. In North America, people in the workforce get long weekends.

In Europe, they get long holidays. Have you ever seen a European country in August, when it appears to be asleep, or at least taking a nap?

So if 3-and-4-night cruises on Anthem of the Seas work in a climate where 3-and-4-night holidays aren't the norm, Royal Caribbean will adjust its European itineraries accordingly. For now, they're being called "taster cruises" and there are only five of them on Anthem. In six months. When there are also three 1-week cruises, three 2-week cruises, one of 10 nights, one of 12, three of 13 and one 16 nights long.

Maybe it's not a market test after all. Maybe it's just filling out the schedule before Anthem of the Seas sails west to America.

Pacific Princess
10 nights
April 1, 2014 
Papeete (return): HuahineRangiroaRaiateaBora BoraMoorea
Inside: $999
Cost per day: $99

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