‘The Love Boat’ Extras Were Actual Paying Cruise Ship Passengers

The Love Boat soon will be making another run
The Love Boat promises something for everyone
Set a course for adventure 
Your mind on a new romance….

Anyone who was around in the late ’70s/early ’80s is singing the theme song to The Love Boat in their head right now (or out loud!). Saturday nights included appointment TV back then. Viewers couldn’t wait to see what kinds of wacky adventures the crew of the Pacific Princess and their guests would get into. 

'The Love Boat' actors Fred Grandy as Burl 'Gopher' Smith and Shirley Jones as Priscilla Moore
Fred Grandy as Burl ‘Gopher’ Smith and Shirley Jones as Priscilla Moore | ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

Each week when the passengers arrived for their cruise, they were greeted by the crew: Captain Merrill Stubing (Gavin MacLeod), Dr. Adam Bricker (Bernie Kopell), Purser Gopher Smith (Fred Grandy), Bartender Isaac Washington (Ted Lange) and of course, Cruise Director Julie McCoy (Lauren Tewes).

The passengers on the cruise varied every week and were played by guest celebrities. Three concurrent stories were shown every episode, and they usually involved some kind of love theme. The crew of the ship was included in at least one of the storylines. 

Was ‘The Love Boat’ filmed on a ship?

It was and it wasn’t. Part of the show was shot on two real cruise ships: The Pacific Princess and the Island Princess, according to Groovy History. The Love Boat had many outdoor scenes; it was a cruise, after all.

Scenes, such as the ones by the pool, needed to look authentic, so they were shot on real ships. The cast and crew really went on the cruises, and the extras in the background were real people who were taking the cruise. 

Not all scenes were shot on a boat. They needed to use a soundstage to film the cabins, dining area, and other indoor scenes.

Who sailed on ‘The Love Boat’?

Many TV actors of the time did at least one episode of The Love Boat. Some appeared multiple times. Other guests were played by Hollywood legends, Looper reports. Florence Henderson, who played Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch, made a record nine appearances.

Other members of the Brady family appeared, such as Robert Reed (Mike), Ann B. Davis (Alice), Maureen McCormick (Marcia) and Eve Plumb (Jan). There was once a Charlie’s Angels crossover episode where the angels were looking for stolen art.

The Golden Girls’ Betty White and Rue McClanahan both sailed The Love Boat. So did Oscar winners like Olivia de Havilland, Luise Rainer, Shelley Winters, and Ginger Rogers. The list goes on with musicians, pro athletes, models, and fashion designers. Even Andy Warhol guest starred as himself. Almost everyone took a trip on the Pacific Princess.

What is ‘The Real Love Boat’?

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What Are ‘The Love Boat’ Cast Members Doing Now?

Since The Love Boat docked for the final time in 1986, it has tried to be revived in many different ways. In 1990, there was a made-for-TV movie titled The Love Boat: A Valentine Voyage, which starred three of the original cast members.

A few years later, there was an attempt at a new series, The Love Boat: The Next Wave. It did not capture the magic of the original and didn’t last very long. Some like to compare The Love Boat to the reality show Below Deck, but there are not many similarities other than they both take place on boats.

In 2022, CBS premiered The Real Love Boat. The reality series follows real-life singles looking for love on a Mediterranean cruise. In the end, one couple wins a cash reward and an ultimate luxury Princess Cruise. The hosts were real-life couple Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell.

After the fourth episode, the series was moved from CBS to Paramount+. 

Come aboard, we’re expecting you…