Mr. R. and I are lucky enough to have the holiday off together today. Earlier this morning, while scrolling through the television guide, we discovered that The Love Boat was playing on the TV Guide Channel. Of course, we had to tune in and we spent the hour laughing hysterically. The plot was so incredibly, deliciously cheesy. Sadly, none of the guest stars we saw at the Princess Cruise 50th Anniversary/Regal Princess Christening Celebration were in today’s episode, but it was enjoyable nevertheless.
Meanwhile at the Celebration, toward the end of the gold carpet procession, I began to hear maddenly intriguing crowd noises behind us down on the pool deck. I was torn between watching the last of the gold carpet celebrities and finding out what was going on down there. Focus! I told myself. Be in this moment! One of the last to greet the media was Jeraldine Saunders, who, to be truthful, I did not know. It turns out that she is a former cruise director and author of the book The Love Boats, the inspiration for the television series. Not to be unkind, but she was a bit like Norma Desmond, all ready for her close-up.
With the gold carpet finished, Mr. R. and I made our way to the railing overlooking the pool area where we discovered there were celebrity interviews on stage in the center of the deck being conducted by Jill Whelan, who played Vicki Stubing in the series. The celebrities we’d seen were being escorted in the same alphabetical order onto the stage to chat with Jill and all of this was being shown on the jumbo screen above us and to our right.
The ship was a lot more crowded than when we’d first arrived and it occurred to me that the guests down below hadn’t seen the gold carpet processional and so this was their first glimpse of the celebrities. Two celebrities who’d for whatever reason missed the gold carpet but were interviewed onstage were Charlene Tilton, looking as cute as ever, and Adrian Zmed, who’s held up nicely. Everyone chatted excitedly, discussing their current projects and of course, pushing Princess Cruises. (They were all heading out on a three-day cruise the following day.)
After the interviews, the Ceremony began with the celebrities being introduced once again as they were seated in two long rows of chairs situated beneath the giant screen on our level of the deck. It was hosted by Florence Henderson, a departure from the original plan which was for the event to be hosted by Tori Spelling, Love Boat guest star and daughter of the show’s creator, Aaron Spelling. Florence Henderson mentioned that we may have been expecting someone else, but that there were issues due to someone’s lousy husband, never actually mentioning anyone by name. “Ooh, she totally went there!” I gasped.
The ceremony featured a video outlining 50 Years of Princess, accompanied by an a capella group called The Mosaic, who mysteriously was backed up by a bass/percussion track. Princess Cruises executives were introduced and were seated with the celebrity guests. The original Love Boat cast was named the godparents of the Regal Princess.
Jack Jones appeared on the stage and performed the iconic Love Boat Theme accompanied by a live band. I want to mention again that on the gold carpet, a reporter asked him to sing and he did the first verse and chorus right there without accompaniment. It was pretty impressive.
Next on stage was a performance by Charo. She’s been doing the same thing for decades, but you know, it isn’t getting old or tired. She’s the same spitfire she always was. At one point, she mentioned that she’s taken “cuchi-chuchi” all the way to the bank. Onstage dressed in a sparkling aqua sequined and fringed jumpsuit, she did a bunch of her ‘don’t speak the language’ schtick and I was feeling a little disappointed. That’s until she got out her guitar. Folks, comedy shenanigans aside, Charo is an accomplished musician. She played flamenco and by the time she was finished, I had goosebumps. It was amazing!
Following Charo’s performance, the priest who serves as chaplain to Port Everglades took the podium to give the prayer. He quipped, “I’ve never had to follow Charo before.” Some around us agreed that it was the line of the night.
With the prayer finished, it was time for the christening, which would be in two parts. We were told that along the side of the ship, fifty bottles of champagne would be released at once, commemorating the 50th anniversary. Then on deck, a huge bottle of champagne would be released to christen the ship. The Love Boat cast moved into place, first releasing the fifty bottles, which we were able to observe via the giant screen, and then the huge bottle that had been suspended over the deck since we’d arrived. The bottle hit the bulkhead with a disappointing bonk, failing to break. Someone on the lower deck pushed the bottle out so that it swung back and struck successfully, shattering and spraying champagne everywhere.
Immediately following the christening, the celebrity guests began moving their chairs to our side of the upper deck in preparation for the group pictures. This photo op presented some challenges, the chief of which being that it was difficult to get everyone in one shot. Another issue was that there were a number of official dipshits who were constantly in the way. Mr. R. managed to get several shots of the group in segments. I’m hoping you enjoy looking them over. By the way, Adrian Zmed appears behind the left shoulder of Loni Anderson in her white captain’s cap.
It was the most amazing adventure I’ve ever had, which is exactly what I said after Tampa Bay Comic Con. But seriously, beyond attending the Emmy Awards, where will you ever see so many celebrities in one place? I’m so stoked for our next big adventure!