On one of television's longest running shows he was Captain Merrill Stubing of The Love Boat, cruising through 10 seasons from 1977 to 1986. Gavin MacLeod celebrated his 80th birthday this week along with friends, family and crew members aboard Princess Cruises Golden Princess in Los Angeles.
While the show stopped production in 1986, MacLeod has been "at sea" as Princess Cruises spokesperson. This year marks his 25th anniversary with the line and fans still gather wherever he may be appearing. Still in syndication in 92 countries worldwide, The Love Boat has generated what one expert estimates at over $3 billion in sales for the cruise industry.
But my how far things have come since kindly Captain Stubing and the gang rode the high seas on national television. The 20,636 ton Pacific Princess that sailed for Princess Cruises between 1975 and 2002 carried 646 passengers and was seen as seen as one of the latest and greatest of ships, setting the table for a feast of unprecedented growth in the cruise industry.
Today's latest and greatest ships are easily ten times larger carrying close to ten times more passengers. You can bet that if Captain Merril Stubing was in command, he would know every one of their names too. Happy Birthday Gavin.