Gavin MacLeod by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage.com
Love. Exciting and new.
You know what else is new? The Love Boat on DVD! That's right, baby, the classic is finally docking on a shelf near you and we have Captain Merrill Stubing himself, Gavin MacLeod, talking all about life on the Lido Deck. So climb aboard, we're expecting you!

TVGuide.com: OK, I've been a Love Boat fan since forever, so rewatching it on DVD... this show must have been so much fun to make!
Gavin MacLeod:
Oh, it was a gas. Just wonderful. And the thing that was so wonderful was that every critic who had seen the pilot thought it would sink like the Titanic - that was the phrase - except for one guy! I forget who he was, but I knew all the critics from my Mary Tyler Moore days, and they all said, "How could you do this?" I did it because I liked it! I'm an average person and my wife liked it and some of our friends thought it was a good idea. So we thought if they put it on at the right time with the right people, it might go. And wow, did it go! I'm so glad you were a fan.

TVGuide.com: For the entire run. Even when they brought in those dancing mermaids....
MacLeod:
[ Laughs] Oh, yeah. That's great! Sometimes I do interviews, especially on those early morning-drive shows, and they're just there to take a knock at you, you know?

TVGuide.com: Well, I was an Aaron Spelling addict.
MacLeod:
I was, too. He knew what the people wanted to see and how to put it together. He was a genius with all of that.

TVGuide.com: I still remember being baffled by The Love Boat being an hour-long show with a laugh track.
MacLeod:
I know. I don't think that had ever been done before.

TVGuide.com: And every week, new guests. You got to meet the coolest people!
MacLeod:
It was one of the thrills of my lifetime, to go to work every Monday and have a whole new crew of these big, big stars. Many of whom I wanted to be like when I was a little boy. That's one of the reasons I got into show business... because I wanted to be like them... and here they were. I mean, I fell in love with Mary Martin when I saw South Pacific at 16 years old. And 40-something years later, I'm holding her in my arms.

TVGuide.com: You also had a ton of stars at the beginning of their careers, like Suzanne Somers.
MacLeod:
Suzanne Somers, John Ritter... how about Tom Hanks? And Teri Hatcher was one the [dancing] mermaids!

TVGuide.com: How much of the show was actually filmed on the ship?
MacLeod:
We went out six weeks a year and we did that until the show went off the air. We went to Mexico for the first four years, and then someone realized that we needed to go to other places. [ Laughs] So that's when we started going all over the world.

TVGuide.com: Not a bad gig.
MacLeod:
Not at all. We went to Alaska many times, the Panama Canal... the last time I went through the Panama Canal, I was holding Anne Baxter. [ Laughs] The captain held a lot of women in his arms. Then we started going to Europe, then Russia, Scandinavia, China. We were all over. When we did our European trips, that's when Telly Savalas and all the big names came aboard.

TVGuide.com: They all wanted the free trip.
MacLeod:
They all wanted to go to Europe, you know it! It was fabulous!

TVGuide.com: And now you're like the ambassador to the ocean....
MacLeod:
We ended in 1986, and the last show we did, Marion Ross and I got married. So we decided to go on the road with a play - Marion, my wife, myself and the guy who married us, a buddy of mine from college. We toured with Never Too Late and went all over the country. We wound up in Cape Cod, and I got a call from the head of public relations at that time and he said, "Gavin, we just had a meeting. How would you like to be the spokesperson for Princess Cruises?" And I said, "What a great idea!" It's been 21 years now and I go to Florida in three days for them, come back, MC a show and do an in-house movie for the line. From two little ships back in '86, we now have 16 megaships... with another one coming out in November!

TVGuide.com: So what took them so long to get the first season of Love Boat on DVD?
MacLeod:
Beats me! You know I do all of these travel shows for Princess and meet all of these travel agents. They all keep saying the same thing: "When is it coming? When is it coming?" Now it's out, so we're really excited.

TVGuide.com: I bet people freak out when they see Captain Stubing on their cruise.
MacLeod:
Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. I don't wear the uniform. [ Laughs] Most people do when they know I'm there. But the ships are so big now, it's wonderful. You can be anonymous, put on sunglasses and a hat and nobody knows who you are.

TVGuide.com: Do you keep in touch with the old crew?
MacLeod:
I spoke to Bernie [Kopell, who played Doc] last week, and [this month] I'm going to do a morning show with Lauren [Tewes, Julie], and [I have] interviews all day long pushing the DVD. Ted [Lange, Isaac] and I were in New York doing a talk show together and Jill [Whelan, Vicki] was there. Oh, yeah, on occasion we'll all get together. We all have very diversified lives now, but the love is still there.

Aye, aye to that, Captain!

Buy The Love Boat: Season One, Vol. 1 on Amazon.com

Next week: More shows that should be on DVD.

Until then, don't hog the remote! - Damian Holbrook