April 3, 2004
In a christening ceremony that felt as much like time travel as cruise travel, "The Love Boat" star Jill Whelan (a.k.a Vicki Stubing) played the lead role in a dual event that included Caribbean Princess' first onboard wedding -- followed by its actual christening ceremony.
For those of us here who have grown up watching "The Love Boat," which was based on (and often filmed on) now-ancient Princess Cruises ships like Pacific Princess and Island Princess, the scene Friday night was like deja-vu-all-over-again. And then some.
Whelan, who played Captain Stubing's daughter, roamed the decks with Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing) and Bernie Kopell (Doc). In a scene that never appeared as part of the television series, MacLeod and Kopell watched as Whelan broke the traditional bottle of champagne above the huge Neptune's Reef Pool area way up on Deck 15. Less than an hour later, the Caribbean Princess set sail for a quick overnight cruise to nowhere.
The christening was a far cry from the early days of the "The Love Boat" -- and cruise travel in general. Those on the ship could watch the packed ceremony in person or get an even better view at the huge open-air Times Square-style LED screen located nearby. In addition, landlocked fans, family, and friends were able to watch the live broadcast of the christening (and wedding) on www.princess.com.
Whelan didn't have much time for post-wedding ceremony relaxation. Less than an hour after marrying Michael Chaykowsky, the actress, still clad in her wedding gown, christened the ship amid much fanfare. "As a member of the 'The Love Boat' cast, I was of course surrounded by love and romance on every episode and cannot imagine a more fitting place to marry my 'prince,' Michael," said Whelan. "The chance to also serve as godmother of Caribbean Princess makes it that much more special."
The live broadcast gave both the wedding and naming ceremony a Hollywood feel, as if it was all just a 21st century episode from "The Love Boat." In a sense, that's exactly what the Caribbean Princess is -- a 21st century ship (see our "sneak preview" review, captured just before the ship had left its European shipyard -- and stay tuned for a full review of Caribbean Princess in mid-to-late April, following our editor's seven night sailing next week).
Caribbean Princess set sail on her inaugural Western Caribbean cruise April 3rd, with the newly-married godmother and many of her wedding party staying aboard after the overnight cruise. After its first two cruises -- both to the Western Caribbean (you may remember that the ship was actually completed ahead of schedule and Princess was able to add two extra voyages), the vessel will sail year-round from Ft. Lauderdale's Port Everglades on alternate Western and Eastern Caribbean itineraries. Calls include stops at Grand Cayman, Ocho Rios (or Montego Bay), Cozumel, and Princess Cays (Western); St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Princess Cays (Eastern).