On New Year's Day, Princess Cruises kicked off its 50th anniversary celebration with its debut in the 126th Rose Parade.
The cruise line's float, "50 Years of Inspiring Travel," was awarded the Craftsman Trophy for Exceptional Achievement in Showmanship and Dramatic Impact.
The six original cast members of The Love Boat television show rode on the ship’s bow down the five-and-a-half mile parade route. In addition to paying tribute to the television show that made Princess Cruises famous, the Rose Parade float depicted the line’s newest cruise ship, Regal Princess.
“Since the theme of this year’s Rose Parade was ‘Inspiring Stories,’ we thought it was the perfect opportunity to launch our 50th anniversary year celebrations,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “For the last five decades our guests have been sailing with us to amazing places and they’ve returned with inspiring memories that have lasted a lifetime, and we want to celebrate this throughout our golden anniversary year.”
The Love Boat cast, including Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Fred Grandy (Chief Purser Gopher), Ted Lange (Bartender Isaac), Bernie Kopell (Doc), Lauren Tewes (Cruise Director Julie) and Jill Whelan (Captain’s daughter Vicki), recently named Regal Princess, having served as the ship’s godparents before the cruise ship’s maiden Caribbean season and their appearance in the New Year’s Day parade.
The Princess Cruises float measured 60 feet long and 24 feet high with more than 24,000 flowers and natural materials. Flowers included roses, orchids and carnations, dendrobs, tulips, cymbidiums, delphiniums and gerbera daisies.
Paying tribute to the parade’s theme, Princess conducted a contest asking its past guests to share an inspiring story that occurred aboard a Princess cruise for a chance to ride on the float. The grand-prize winner was 91-year-old World War II veteran Nathan Keith Abbott, who took a Princess cruise back to the South Pacific, as he had long wished to revisit the islands where he served during the war.
Other riders who were selected told their inspiring stories about a variety of special celebrations including an engagement in front of a glacier in Alaska, a renewal of vows to mark 50 years of marriage, a celebration of life after surviving breast cancer, and a mother and daughter college graduation cruise to celebrate both of them receiving their degrees.
As a tribute to Princess’ 25,000 crew members and employees, the float incorporated flower vials that were personally signed by 16,0000 employees, signifying their important role in the company.