It’s natural that Gavin MacLeod, the legendary captain of “The Love Boat,” the now-classic television series filmed abroad and around Princess Cruises’ ships, has become cruising’s official expert on love at sea. That role, not to mention his long-term relationship with Princess Cruises as its romance spokesman, ties him indelibly to heart-shaped matters.
On a recent trip to Sydney, where MacLeod was officiating over a special vow renewals ceremony onboard Sun Princess for some 24 Aussie couples, Cruise Critic got a chance to catch up with the beloved captain to glean some tips on romance at sea. Not just in his role as “The Love Boat’s” most endearing character, but also because in real life he looks to his own long-running marriage to wife Patti as inspiration.
*What makes a cruise such a romantic way to get away,” he tells us, “is that when you are on a ship with a loved one, leaving all your cares behind, you really can just think about each other. Make the most of those moments. Try something new. Even line dancing can be romantic if you’re with the right person.”
Here are some more of his tips:
Get your priorities in order. “Enjoy every moment you have. Times always change. And when you get on your ship, you’re leaving the business of the world behind.”
Bring the trip home. A big fan of art auctions, MacLeod says that it’s nice to find a souvenir from every cruise that really reminds you of the experience. His favorite? “Our last child!”
In port, “leave room for the unexpected.” MacLeod’s favorite kind of tour is a private one – no buses, no crowds, just an effort to get off-the-grid and find a special restaurant, beach or village.
Look beyond the obvious.Sometimes you can find love in the most unexpected occurrences onboard ships, too. In fact, the most impactful message about love I’ve learned came from MacLeod, whom I’ve known for well over a decade.
Onboard Emerald Princess, sailing on the inaugural cruise in 2007, we all stayed on the ship during a port call in Greece. At one point in the morning there was a “man overboard” announcement and bumping into MacLeod talking to a fan on the promenade dock, I rushed up to him, sharing the news.
His reaction – I’ve never forgotten. His face turned white, he immediately swung around, looking for a ship’s phone, saying, urgently, “I have to call Patti to make sure she’s okay.” And it wasn’t that he truly thought that his wife was in any danger. It was that his love for her was (and still is) so great, that his reaction in the moment was to move to her.
In the end, it turned out that the crew was practicing a safety drill and there indeed was no real “man overboard” situation. Abashed and chagrined (and apologetic – he was incredibly gracious about it all), what he taught me then, purely by example, is that love is not all about the bells, whistles and a dozen roses. It’s simply about …loving…through whatever life throws at you.