"Love Boat soon will be making another run
The Love Boat promises something for everyone
Set a course for adventure!"
~Charlie Fox / Paul Williams
One of my favorite TV shows to watch when I was having sleep-overs at my grandparents or great aunts house was the Love Boat. Another Aaron Spelling gem with corning plots and ensemble casts of guest stars I recognized from watching entirely too many old movies and "re-runs." The implied maturity of some things was utterly lost on my young mind. I was more interested in the ship, captains table dinners, etc.
In 1983 friends of my parents took us to the cruise terminal at the Port of Los Angeles. They had taken a honeymoon cruise aboad the Sitmar Line "Fairsea." The Fairsea was a Saxonia class ocean liner built by Cunard in the 1950s. She was intended for passenger trade between the UK and Canada. Like most ocean liners she was sold and rebuilt as a tropical cruise ship.
Fairsea was moor at the east terminal. Back in those days you could actually walk right onto a cruise ship without passing through any security, which is exactly what we did. For the next four hours we walked all around the ship, even visiting the stateroom my parents friends had staid in. Years later when I learned what "turn around day" was like for the crew I understood the curiously unhappy look the steward gave as six people showed-up while he was stripping bed sheets off the bed.
Over the four hours we were on the ship I saw every public space, bar and even the small arcade for the kids.
It was standing outside leaning on a wide teak wood railing along the lowest pool deck that hooked me on cruising. The railing was warm though not hot from the sun. There was a cool breeze. And looking out over the water around the port I decided I wanted to take a cruise. Everything around me just resonated.
The day ended with walking around the late "Ports-o-Call" shops south of of the terminal. There, we ate dinner at a restaurant seated at a table along the waters edge. Around five p.m. the Fairsea, brightly lit, sailed by. Half an hour later, none other than the Pacific Princess passed by, her white paint seeming to glow. Hanging along the side all the way to the waterline was a mass of streamers from the traditional send-off celebration. It was like seeing a childhood myth emerge from a TV screen. It was a real ship, there really was a Pacific Princess. That I knew the show was mostly filmed on sound stages was beside the point.
My first cruise would not come until August of 1999, but that day was the time and place which hooked me on cruising.