SOS: ‘Love Boat’ Sails Off to the Junkyard

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The Love Boat, also known as the Pacific Princess, as seen in the show's opening credits.

Two decades ago ABC scrapped its Love Boat sitcom. Now, the owners are doing the same to the eponymous vessel. But before you shed a tear for the years spent following the follies of Captain Stubing and Gopher aboard the ship, the Love Boat’s cruel end might be for the best. The 550-foot cruise liner has sat idle at a marina in Genoa, Italy for two years, awaiting payment on a repair bill. According to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the San Giorgio del Porto shipyards are owed a €6 million restoration bill for asbestos removal. As a result of the default, the court of Genoa seized the ship and had been trying to auction it off since late 2010, with little success. This week, however, Turkish scrapper Cemsan purchased the boat for €2.5 million ($3.3 million).

(PHOTOS: Bon Voyage to the Queen Elizabeth 2)

Though it’s the final cruise for the celebrated ship, it’s had a long run even since its days of stardom. The ship was built in the 1960s and first set off from port in 1971 under the name “Sea Venture.” In 1975, the ship was sold to Princess Cruises, who dubbed it “Pacific Princess.” But all monikers aside, it sailed into our hearts in 1977 as the “Love Boat” when ABC decided to use it as the backdrop for the weekly television show.

Since the sitcom’s run ended in 1986, the “Love Boat” remained its old self, an actual cruise ship, and reclaimed its original “Pacific Princess” name. Only able to hold 640 passengers, the ship is tiny by today’s cruise ship standards. A new Pacific Princess, one that could hold nearly 800 passengers (still a small capacity; most Princess cruise ships hold between 1,500 and 3,000 people), took to the seas in late 2002 to replace the ailing Love Boat. But the television star was not officially out of work – the boat was stripped of the “Princess” title and sold to Spanish cruise line Pullmantur, embarking on Caribbean jaunts. But in 2009, it was brought to Italy for repairs and wasn’t unmoored. It’s a grim end for a piece of television history, but its legacy will float on: Cruise experts credit the ship for glamorizing and popularizing the cruise industry.

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