The Love Boat

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The Love Boat
File:The Love Boat.jpg
The Love Boat
Genre Sitcom
Based on The Love Boats
by Jeraldine Saunders
Developed by W. L. Baumes
Opening theme "The Love Boat" sung by Jack Jones, seasons 1–8; by Dionne Warwick in season 9
Composers Ben Lanzarone
Duane Tatro
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 9 + 4 specials
No. of episodes 250 (list of episodes)
Executive producers Aaron Spelling
Douglas S. Cramer
Running time 45–52 minutes
Production companies
Distributor Worldvision Enterprises (1977-1999)
Paramount Domestic Television (1999-2006)
CBS Paramount Domestic Television (2006-2007)
CBS Television Distribution (2007-Present)
Original network ABC
Original release May 5, 1977 (1977-05-05) –
February 12, 1990 (1990-02-12) (plus specials in 1986–87 and 1990)
Followed by The Love Boat: A Valentine Voyage (1990)
Related shows Love Boat: The Next Wave
External links
[{{#property:P856}} Website]

The Love Boat is an American television series set on a cruise ship which aired on the ABC Television Network from May 5, 1977, until May 24, 1986; three-hour specials aired in 1986–87 and 1990.[1] The show revolves around the ship's captain (played by Gavin MacLeod) and a handful of its crew, with several passengers – played by different guest actors for each episode – having romantic and humorous adventures. It was part of ABC's popular Saturday night lineup that included Fantasy Island until that show ended in 1984.

The original 1976 made-for-TV movie on which the show was based (also titled The Love Boat) was itself based on the nonfiction book Love Boats by Jeraldine Saunders, a real-life cruise director. Two more TV movies (titled The Love Boat II and The New Love Boat) would follow before the series began its first season in September 1977.

The executive producer for the series was Aaron Spelling, who produced several TV series for ABC from the 1960s into the 1980s.

In 1997, the episode with segment titles "Hidden Treasure," "Picture from the Past," and "Ace's Salary" (season 9, episode 3) was ranked No. 82 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.[2] The Love Boat ran for nine seasons plus four specials. A made-for-TV movie, titled The Love Boat: A Valentine Voyage, starring four of the original cast members, aired on February 12, 1990.


File:Love Boat cast 2015.jpeg
The cast members in costume, 2015; l–r: Kopell, Grandy, Lange, MacLeod, Tewes & Whelan
  • Gavin MacLeod as Captain Merrill Stubing
  • Bernie Kopell as Dr. Adam "Doc" Bricker, ship's doctor
  • Fred Grandy as Burl "Gopher" Smith, Yeoman Purser (seasons 1–9)
  • Ted Lange as Isaac Washington, bartender
  • Lauren Tewes as Julie McCoy, Cruise Director (seasons 1–7, 9 (1 episode), 4 specials)
  • Jill Whelan as Vicki Stubing, the captain's daughter (seasons 3–9, 4 specials, made-for-TV movie, plus a guest star appearance in Season 2 episode 8)[3]
  • Ted McGinley as Ashley "Ace" Covington Evans, ship's photographer (seasons 7–9), Yeoman Purser (4 specials)
  • Pat Klous as Judy McCoy, Julie's sister and successor as cruise director (seasons 8–9)

Gavin MacLeod, Bernie Kopell, and Ted Lange are the only cast members to appear in every episode of the series, including the last three made-for-TV movies. Fred Grandy was in every episode throughout the run of the series, but was not in the last of the TV movies. MacLeod was not the captain in the first two TV movies, however. However, when MacLeod's character was introduced, there was mention of him being "the new captain."

Among the series' attractions was the casting of well-known actors in guest-starring roles, with many famous film stars of yesteryear making rare television appearances. It was not the first comedy series to use the guest-star cast anthology format—Love, American Style used the formula seven years earlier, but The Love Boat had such success with the formula that future shows in similar style (such as Supertrain and Masquerade) were inevitably compared to The Love Boat. The show was followed on Saturday nights on ABC by Fantasy Island, which was also produced by Aaron Spelling, and had a similar format.



The one-hour sitcom was usually set aboard a Princess Cruises cruise liner called Pacific Princess.[4] Other ships used were twin sister Island Princess, Stella Solaris (for a Mediterranean cruise), Pearl of Scandinavia (for a Chinese cruise), Royal Viking Sky (for European cruises) and Royal Princess and Sun Princess (for Caribbean cruises). In 1981, P&O Cruises' Sea Princess was also used for the special two-hour episode "Julie's Wedding", set in and around Australia, and guest-starring Lloyd Bridges, Katherine Helmond, Harry Morgan, Patrick Duffy and Anthony Andrews, among others. The series was filmed primarily on sets in California—20th Century Fox Studios for seasons one through five and Warner Hollywood Studios for the remainder of the series. After being renamed the MS Pacific and spending its golden years owned by a cruise line in Spain, the Pacific Princess was retired to Turkey in 2013 where it was scrapped by a ship breaking company because no buyer could be found.[5]

Writing format

<imagemap>Image:Love_boat_cast_1977.JPG|200px|right|thumb|Original cast in a program premiere publicity photo 1977 default File:Love boat cast 1977.JPG desc bottom-left rect 200 190 335 850 Julie McCoy (Lauren Tewes) rect 336 158 525 750 Captain Merrill Stubing (Gavin MacLeod) rect 245 45 335 189 Dr. Adam Bricker (Bernie Kopell) rect 336 45 416 157 Isaac Washington (Ted Lange) rect 417 1 525 157 Burl "Gopher" Smith (Fred Grandy)

  1. See for details on image maps.

</imagemap> Another unique aspect of The Love Boat was its writing format. Every episode contained several storylines, each written by a different set of writers working on one group of guest stars. As a result, episodes ended up with ungainly titles like "Disco Baby/Alas, Poor Dwyer/After the War/Ticket to Ride/Itsy Bitsy: Part 1." This also led to notorious continuity errors, most notably[citation needed] in Julie's outfits during boarding and disembarkation, which were often inconsistent between storylines.

Even though the cast of Charlie's Angels had been on separate episodes of the show, there was a crossover episode of the show in which the lady detectives had a case on the ship.

On rare occasions there would be crossovers between the stories. In one episode actors Robert Reed and Florence Henderson, formerly of The Brady Bunch, guest starred in separate segments. In one scene, the two pass each other in a corridor, exchange a "Do I know you?" double-take, and then continue on their separate ways without talking.

In a one-time Fantasy Island crossover episode, the cruise ship makes a detour to deliver a troubled woman (played by Loni Anderson) to the mysterious island, and her storyline continued on that show.

There were typically three storylines. One storyline usually focused on a member of the crew, a second storyline would often focus on a crew member interacting with a passenger, and the third storyline was more focused on a single passenger (or a group of passengers). The three storylines usually followed a similar thematic pattern: One storyline (typically the "crew" one) was straight-ahead comedy. The second would typically follow more of a romantic comedy format (with only occasional dramatic elements). The third storyline would usually be the most dramatic of the three, often offering few (if any) laughs and a far more serious tone.

Laugh track

The series was also distinctive as being one of the few hour-long series ever made for American television that used a laugh track[citation needed] (Eight is Enough, on the same network and produced at the same time, being another example).

Theme song and title sequence

The Love Boat theme song was sung by Jack Jones (except for the last season, where a cover version by Dionne Warwick was used). The lyrics were written by Paul Williams with music by Charles Fox. The song has since been recorded and released commercially by Charo in 1978 and Amanda Lear in 2001.

The opening sequence for the series underwent three changes over the years. From seasons one to eight, the opening sequence began with a long shot of the ship before the camera slowly zoomed in onto its bridge area. This was followed by posing shots of the crew members (updated several times due to cast additions and changes throughout all seasons) at different points on the ship set. The long shot footage of the ship was used for the credits of the celebrity guest stars. For only the first season, the guest stars were credited by having their names appear on the screen while the show's logo, a radar/compass style circle with four hearts, wrapped around them. Beginning with season two (and originally experimented with in the fifteenth episode of the first season), the compass was graphically put in place and at its center, the guest stars were shown posing for the camera on different parts of the set (or a city spot used in on-location episodes) while their names appeared at the bottom of the screen. For the final season, the compass was replaced by a crescent wave and the long shots of the ship were replaced by a montage of the various locations traveled to on the show. At the center of the wave graphic, the guest stars were shown posing for the camera wearing their formal outfits against different colored backgrounds.


For its first seven years, The Love Boat was very successful in the ratings. During that time it ranked among the top 20, and even the top 10. For the 1980–81 season it posted its highest rating at No. 5. By the beginning of the 1984–85 season the ratings were beginning to drop, and at the end of the following year, The Love Boat was canceled after nine years on ABC, although four three-hour specials aired during the 1986–87 season.

Sequels, spin-offs and crossovers

  • A 1979 episode of another Aaron Spelling series, Charlie's Angels, had that show's characters attempting to recover a stolen statue while aboard the Pacific Princess on a Caribbean cruise (all of the Love Boat regulars had cameo appearances)
  • In 1982, 'The Love Boat Goes to Fantasy Island' was a 90-minute back-to-back of each show--the episode started on The Love Boat and the guest stars finished on Fantasy Island.
  • In 1990 a TV reunion movie, The Love Boat: A Valentine Voyage, aired on CBS.
  • A second TV series, Love Boat: The Next Wave aired on UPN from 1998 to 1999, with Robert Urich as Captain Jim Kennedy, a retired United States Navy officer, Phil Morris as Chief Purser Will Sanders, and Heidi Mark as cruise director Nicole Jordan (several members of the original show's cast guest-starred on a reunion-themed episode, where it was revealed that Julie and Doc had been in love all along).
  • A two-part 1996 Martin episode, "Goin' Overboard", had the main characters going on a cruise and encountering Isaac, Julie, Doc, and Vicki
  • Isaac Washington also appeared in a 2005 episode of The King of Queens, "The Black List".

DVD releases

CBS DVD (distributed by Paramount) has released Seasons 1, 2 & 3 of The Love Boat on DVD in Region 1 & 4. Each season has been released in two volume sets.

DVD Name Ep No. Release dates Bonus Features
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
Season 1, Volume 1 12 March 4, 2008 September 1, 2008 April 10, 2008
  • Episodic promos
Season 1, Volume 2 12 August 12, 2008 September 1, 2008 October 2, 2008
  • The New Love Boat (pilot TV-Movie)
  • Episodic promos
Season 2, Volume 1 13 January 27, 2009 N/A September 2, 2009
  • Episodic promos
Season 2, Volume 2 12 August 4, 2009 N/A December 24, 2009
  • Episodic promos
Season 3, Volume 1 14 January 17, 2017[6] N/A N/A
  • Episodic promos
Season 3, Volume 2 14 January 17, 2017[7] N/A N/A
  • Episodic promos

International syndication

Country Foreign title Translation Network(s) Notes
23x15px Australia The Love Boat None Nine Network (1978–86)
Eleven (2011–)
23x15px Canada The Love Boat Global Television Network (Ontario)
First-run syndication (rest of Canada)
23x15px Cyprus To ploio tis agapis
(The Ship of Love)
Subtitled CyBC
23x15px Denmark The Love Boat Subtitled Kanal 2
23x15px Finland Lemmenlaiva
(Ship of Love)
Subtitled MTV3
23x15px France

23x15px Canada

La croisière s'amuse
(The Fun Cruise)
Dubbed TF1 (80's) FR3 (90's & 00's)


As usual in France, the laugh track was omitted in the French synchronisation which made this a romantic telenovela-like series rather than a sitcom
23x15px Germany Love Boat Dubbed Sat.1
Tele 5
Premiere (pay television network)
Originally shown on Sat.1 and later on Tele 5, 9Live, Premiere, and Anixe.
The laugh track was omitted
23x15px Gibraltar Love Boat GBC TV Hugely popular in Gibraltar, with The Love Boat (the real one) having berthed at Gibraltar Port various times over the years
23x15px Greece Το Πλοίο της Αγάπης
(The Ship of Love)
Subtitled ERT
23x15px Hungary Szerelemhajó
(Love Ship)
Dubbed Movies 24 Aired in 2010; The laugh track was omitted
23x15px Israel ספינת האהבה
(The Love Boat)
Subtitled IBA
23x15px Italy Love Boat Dubbed Mediaset First run on Canale 5, beginning in 1980; reruns on Canale 5, Rete 4, SkyVivo, FoxRetro, Raidue; In Italy, the laugh track was omitted
23x15px Netherlands The Love Boat Subtitled VARA and later RTL4
23x15px New Zealand The Love Boat None TVNZ
23x15px Norway Kjærlighetsskipet
(The Love Ship)
Subtitled TV2 (1994–96)
23x15px Philippines The Love Boat None GMA Network
23x15px Poland Statek miłości
(The Love Boat)
Dubbed TVP2
23x15px Portugal Barco do Amor
(The Love Boat)
Subtitled RTP 1
Sic Gold
Sic Comédia
RTP 1 (first run) in 1980s
RTP 2 (rerun) in 1980s and early 1990s as possible choice of phone-vote selection program Agora Escolha
Sic Gold (reruns)
Sic Comédia (reruns)
23x15px Slovakia Loď lásky
(Love Ship)
Dubbed Tv Joj
23x15px South Africa Die Plesierboot
(The Pleasure Boat)
Dubbed in Afrikaans TV2
23x15px South Korea 사랑의 유람선
(Cruise ship of Love)
Dubbed MBC
23x15px Thailand เรือรัก เรือสำราญ
(Ship of Love, Ship of Fun)
Dubbed TV3
23x15px Spain Vacaciones en el mar
(Sea Holidays)
Dubbed Televisión Española (first run)
Telecinco (reruns)
23x15px Sweden Kärlek ombord
(Love on Board)
Subtitled TV4
23x15px Taiwan 愛之船
(The Boat of Love)
Subtitled CTV
23x15px Turkey Aşk Gemisi
(The Love Boat)
Dubbed TRT 1 (first run)
Show TV (reruns)
23x15px United Kingdom The Love Boat BBC TV
23x15px Venezuela

23x15px Mexico

El Crucero del Amor
(The Boat of Love)
Dubbed Venezolana de Televisión

XHGC Canal 5 Televisa

The show was dubbed in Mexico for Latin America and, with the exception here marked, is known as "El Crucero del Amor" (The Cruise Ship of Love). Also the laugh track was omitted.


  1. Then/Now: The cast of 'The Love Boat'. FoxNews. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  2. Special Collectors' Issue: 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time. TV Guide. 1997.
  3. from watching Season 2 on DVD
  4. Sloan, Gene (August 8, 2013). Famed 'Love Boat' makes final voyage to scrapyard. USA Today. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  5. Cruise ship tour: Last look at the original 'Love Boat'.

External links