The Love Boat became an iconic TV series in 1977 and struck a chord with its fans who still fondly remember it today and growing up watching it with their families. The Love Boat was, of course, captained by Merrill Stubing who was played by Gavin MacLeod. The Love Boat was set aboard Pacific Princess which was a real ship belonging to Princess Cruises. After The Love Boat finished its run, the show and Captain Stubing were so iconic that 35 years ago, Princess Cruises asked Gavin to be their Global Ambassador. He and the rest of the original cast of the series have maintained the relationship with Princess and they are often aboard the ships, even christening Regal Princess.
When Gavin passed away earlier today (May 29, 2021) Princess Cruises issued the following statement:
It is with sadness felt to the depth of the oceans that we mourn the passing of actor Gavin MacLeod our beloved global ambassador, dearest friend and treasured member of the Princess Cruises family for more than 35 years.
From his 10 seasons staring as Captain Merrill Stubing on the hit TV show “The Love Boat” (1977 to 1986) and for more than three decades following the show’s final season, Gavin enthusiastically shared his passion about the joys and adventures of exploring the world while cruising. He always reminded us that - like the popular TV series, “cruising gives people something to dream about.”
Gavin, who celebrated his 90th birthday in February, officially became Princess Cruises’ global ambassador in 1986, appearing in a vast array of advertising campaigns and countless public and media appearances for the company. His role for Princess continued until his passing.
All of us at Princess Cruises and our loyal guests around the world whom, to this day, remain avid fans of Gavin’s, send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Patricia (Patti) and his entire family who have lost a loving husband, father and grandfather. We offer our sincerest gratitude to them for sharing Gavin with all of us for so many years.
A couple years into the series, 10-year-old Jill Whelan joined to cast to play Captain Stubing's daughter, Vicki. She says, Gavin immediately became more of a real dad to her than just her TV father, a relationship they have maintained until he died today. She remembered him this afternoon in the video below.
Princess Cruises also paid tribute to Gavin today from their file of videos of him at Princess events over the years (below). And in case you're wondering about the Love Boat theme at the end of both videos, Princess has each of their newest ships equipped with a range of whistles to play the opening bars of the iconic theme song as the ships sail away from port. This is an actual recording of one.
Nostalgic for the Love Boat? It plays nonstop around the clock on the Pluto streaming network.