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Saturday, March 25, 2023
Hometown Traveller: The ‘Love Boat’ is still cruising the seas
NOTL residents Dawn and Paul Jacot brought a copy of The Lake Report along on their Love Boat cruise. Supplied

Paul Jacot
Special to The Lake Report

Remember the popular 1970s television show “The Love Boat”? 

Well, the Love Boat – in name at least – still sails the world’s oceans today as the Regal Princess, which was the setting for a new reality TV series, “The Real Love Boat,” in 2022.

My wife Dawn and I sailed the Atlantic on the newest version of the original fabled boat on a fall cruise that took us through the Mediterranean Sea to visit several ports.

We stopped in Genoa, Italy, (the birthplace of Christopher Columbus), Ajaccio, Corsica, (birthplace of Napoleon), Rome (birthplace of Julius Caesar) on to Gibraltar, then Tenerife in the Canary Islands and eventually across the Atlantic to Fort Lauderdale.

In Rome, I couldn’t find Caesar’s birthplace home (even though I took a few stabs at it). The Italian November temps were in the 20 C range and mostly sunny each day of the 16-day getaway. 

While in Rome standing outside the Colosseum, I was stunned at the engineering greatness of the Roman Empire.

As I looked down on the front excavated wall of the formidable Roman arena, I shivered to view the cages where they kept the ferocious lions –roaring to snack on biblical Daniel and other Christians.  

In Genoa, the hometown of Christopher Columbus (1451-1506), his original home still stands today.

(I knocked on the front door and his mother told me he was not home. She said he was away discovering the new world).

Charming Genoa has been the site of many battles through the years, especially in the days when several cities tried to gain supremacy to rule all of Italy.

As well, it was a central city in the Christian and Muslim Crusades. The streets are narrow and it is easy to get lost in the centre of the city. Only small cars can navigate the laneways.

In French-controlled Ajaccio, we visited Napoleon’s Grotto. History says Napoleon’s mother had so many children that the future emperor didn’t get much time with her. 

That being so, he spent many hours in a grotto behind his house, alone with his thoughts. It is there that Napoleon reportedly said, “Dreams are only limited by one’s imagination.”

(Again, I knocked on the door of Napoleon’s birthplace and his mother answered only to tell me he couldn’t see me at right then as he had his arm caught in his shirt.)

Stately Pisa and lively Livorno were also stops on the cruise. (In Pisa, I knocked on the door at Galileo’s birthplace house. His father answered and said Galileo wasn’t feeling well as he had hit his head on the door frame and was upstairs still seeing stars.)

In Rome, we visited the fabled Trevi Fountain (from the Latin “tre vie” or three roads, which converge at the site).

Its underground streams provide the gush of water to the gigantic finely carved marble structure, which is 26 metres high by 49 metres wide. Built in 1629, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the world and has been the backdrop of many classic films.

The history of tossing three coins into the fountain over your left shoulder goes back to Roman times, a symbol of wishing for good luck. The first coin is a wish for a romance. The second is a wish to get married and the third coin is a wish to visit Rome again someday.

More than 3,000 coins are thrown into the fountain daily. That adds up to $1.5 million U.S. annually, which is distributed to the poor at the end of each year.

Some people love cruises. One woman we encountered on the Regal Princess had 1,200 sea cruising days under her belt.

But back to the “Love Boat.” It was a treat to sail on it.

The hit 1977-86 television series starred Gavin MacLeod as Capt. Merrill Stubing, Fred Grandy (Gopher, the chief purser), Ted Lange (Isaac, the bartender), Bernie Kopell (Doc, the ship’s doctor), and Lauren Tewes (cruise director Julie).

Recently “The Real Love Boat” television sequel was made for Australian and U.S. viewers.

So, you might ask, “Where are the two original Love Boats, the Island Princess and the Pacific Princess?

By 2010, the ships had become too old and costly to renovate.

When the owners couldn’t sell them, they decided to sell them for scrap metal in 2012 to a Turkish company for about $3 million. They were taken to Turkey the following year.

The Regal Princess has a jumbo screen on the top deck and we all lay back on chaise lounges with comfy blankets watching movies under the stars, making for some very memorable evenings.

Hometown Traveller features stories by Niagara-on-the-Lake residents about their adventures abroad. Send yours to editor@niagaranow.com.

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