Princess Cruises’ first sailing to Mexico was on December 3, 1965 on board Princess Patricia (affectionately known as “Princess Pat”) a rented vessel that embarked from the Port of Los Angeles. Today, Princess, which has grown to become the third largest cruise line in the world, celebrated that milestone with the original cast of the television series The Love Boat onboard the Pacific Princessbefore the ship departed on an itinerary that matched the cruise line’s first voyage half a century ago.

The Love Boat was a highly-rated, popular show throughout most of it’s 1977-1986 run, and introduced cruising to a more mainstream audience. The original Pacific Princess, now decommissioned, was the setting for the antics of the regular cast and the stream of stage and screen legends that guest starred each week in three separately written shipboard stories.

Original 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) celebrated with the crew and passengers sailing on the 50th Anniversary voyage, remembering a time when the vast majority of Americans had never been on a cruise, and that type of vacation was typically considered to be the provenance of the well-moneyed leisure class, rather than having mass-market appeal. The Love Boat marked the beginning of an explosive interest in cruise vacations by travelers of all backgrounds, propelling both Princess and the rest of the once sleepy cruise industry to record growth.

“We’ve had so much to celebrate this year – from our first-ever float in the iconic Rose Parade on New Year’s Day, to our exciting new partnerships with Broadway legend Stephen Schwartz, award-winning chef and restaurateur Curtis Stone and the introduction of our Discovery at Sea program,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “Today, it’s fitting that ‘The Love Boat’ cast is here with us to celebrate our 50th anniversary since they played a key role in the success of our company.”

Both Los Angeles County and the City of Santa Clarita, California, where Princess Cruises is based, declared December 3 to be “Princess Cruises Day”.

“People always ask us why ‘The Love Boat’ was so popular and I always say it’s because it gave people something to dream about,” said Gavin MacLeod. They could dream about being out on the open seas on a cruise and discovering the worlds’ greatest destinations, dreaming about love and of course happy endings since the shows always ended on a high note. I’m proud to have played a role in the growth of the cruise industry – to see where these ships have come from the days we filmed aboard the original Pacific Princess to now experiencing the 18 magnificent ships in the fleet.”

The new Pacific Princess is sized similarly to her television-starring predecessor, carrying about 700 passengers. Many Princess ships today carry in excess of 3,000 passengers per sailing, for a total 1.7 million passengers each year onboard cruises to destinations around the globe.