A dream came true several weeks back when I was sailing aboard Queen Elizabeth. I was offered the opportunity (read ‘begged the Princess Cruises PR team’!) to interview Gavin MacLeod, the beloved ‘Captain Stubing’ from one of my favourite television shows of all time, “The Love Boat”.
It is because of that show that I chose to do my first cruise 13 years ago and also why I have chased the dream of working onboard. I wanted to be Julie so badly…I still do!
Whilst my career may have ventured in another direction, the opportunity to speak to Gavin was so exciting and I was terribly disappointed that I had to fly out of Sydney to board Queen Elizabeth as he sailed into my harbour city.
Luckily, technology meant that we could chat from our respective ships and below are the fruits from our ship to ship interview…
Natalie: Welcome to Sydney Gavin, it’s such an honour to talk to you!
Gavin: Thank you, it’s lovely to talk to you! It’s just been wonderful here. I love Sydney!
Natalie: Have you had a chance to experience many of Australia’s ports on this trip aboard the new Pacific Princess?
Gavin: We fell in love with Burnie in Tasmania. It was absolutely gorgeous!
The people were so wonderful, so terrific! They gave me a plaque to the city and cufflinks and we went to a gift shop and spent a fortune the gifts are just so unique there!
Then this man drove us up the coast for about an hour and we went to the beach and we had fish and chips at the beach.
It was just idyllic. My daughter and I were just so thrilled to visit a place we had never heard of in our lives!
Natalie: Hopefully Sydney has impressed you as well then! It sounds like we have big shoes to fill after how impressive Burnie was!
Gavin: Sydney is great. It’s a big, big city! There are so many people here!
I was here 30 years ago filming “The Love Boat” and things have changed so much.
The coat hanger bridge is still here and the Opera House is still here but the shops have changed, 30 years is a long time.
People want to be here in Sydney the same way that they want to sail on Princess ships!
Give them what they want and they’ll keep coming back.
Natalie: Many guest stars appeared on “The Love Boat” over the years, who was your favourite celebrity to work with?
An Australian actor Sam played her husband in the two-hour episode that was filmed here. They communicated for many, many years but all the people were great.
Ethel Merman was always great to all of us and we loved her.
It’s so difficult to select anyone. I was in actor’s heaven every Monday when all these big guests stars would come in there.
There was Olivia de Havilland, Joan Fontaine…you may be too young to remember these names!
Natalie: Not at all! I actually watch “The Love Boat” every day so the names are very familiar to me. It’s your show that manifested my love of cruising and working onboard…I wanted to be Julie…I still do!
Gavin: Half of the men I bump into who are Cruise Directors now say they wanted to be Julie!
Natalie: Which is your favourite Princess ship to cruise on?
Gavin: We filmed on two ships but my favourite ship to cruise on today is the current Pacific Princess.
It’s small, it’s wonderful, and you get to know people. It’s a very familial atmosphere especially on an around the world cruise.
Everything is just top notch the food is great the service is great. It’s like the other Princess ships except it’s one of those smaller ones.
Natalie: What was it about “The Love Boat” that you think captured people?
Gavin: No-one had done a series on a cruise ship before and no-one had done a series with three different stories.
There was a wild comedy story, a sophisticated comedy story and an emotional one. There were different kinds of stories week after week.
They’ve talked about making a movie of it for years and years and years but nobody’s done it.
I spoke to Margaret Thatcher about the show once but she didn’t want to speak to me until I told her that the show was still played in 100 countries!
Natalie: What can passengers expect when sailing with you?
Gavin: Princess Cruises has done the video of my life that runs for one hour and ten minutes and it’s won an award. They show that on the ship but when I’m onboard they show it on the big screen and I come out and answer questions.
They showed three of my films this cruise including “The Sand Pebbles” with Steve McQueen and “Operation Petticoat” with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis and I would talk about all those and some of the other movies I’ve done.
Last night I talked about the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” which plays in our staterooms as well.
I had 3 speaking engagements and it was just wonderful…we had a great time!
Natalie: Do you know when our readers will get the opportunity to sail with you again?
Gavin: I have another cruise from Vancouver down to LA travelling with the president and all of the hierarchy of Princess Cruises along with top travel agents for 5 or 6 days in May I think.
Then, next September, we go to London and motor down to East Hampton for two weeks and wind up in Venice and come back.
There are other appearances like functions that will happen in the States that they’ll ask me to go to as well.
Last year I was 80 years old and one of the ships came in and they gave me the best birthday party you could ever imagine!
I had some of my kids there and my grandkids and my brother and they took all of those photographs and mounted them in a book and I was able to give those books out to all those people at Christmas.
Princess has become part of my family. I’ve been there even longer than the president, Alan Buckelew!
There have been a lot of changes but the people up there are really wonderful and they care about their passengers and they care about satisfying people.
It’s love exciting and new!
Natalie: Do you have any advice for first time cruisers Gavin?
Gavin: I would just say be on time! Number one, don’t miss the boat!
Chew each bite of food 36 times, try to float in the pool, go to the movies and sit outside by the 30 x 70 foot screen and eat that popcorn and enjoy every moment because the precious present is every day.