While today's cruise ships are more luxurious than the original Love Boat and carry far more passengers (more than 5,000 versus its 640), the vessel's role in the TV show "helped make the concept of cruising popular," said David Rubin of DavidTravel. "And we now have as a selling point the fact that the best ships are much nicer than the Love Boat experience and offer top quality and many exotic ports."
When the show was popular, "it introduced cruising to a nontraditional cruise audience—which was at the time made of up the clichéd 'newly wed and nearly dead,' " said Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic. "The show made cruising sexy again and brought new life to the industry. It was fun, exotic and glamorous."
It not only helped spread the word about cruising, "but ultimately, any benefit the major players gained was just from the free advertising the show offered by being aired," said Jaime Katz, a cruise industry analyst at Morningstar.
And while it may have been time for the Love Boat to permanently sail off into the sunset, some in the cruise industry and others who enjoy cruises are still sad to see her go.
"Our former little 640-passenger ship has since been eclipsed by larger and more amenity-filled ships, but she will always remain a treasured part of our company's past," said Julie Benson, vice president of public relations for Princess Cruises.
"Sure, there were blemishes—small cabins, noisy engines …" wrote ShipsAreTheBest on the Cruise Critics online comment board. But, the poster added, "she still has a special place in my heart."