Sailing Aboard the “Love Boat” to Bermuda

by Carla Bailey

Carla and Cary on the famous stairs of the Love Boat
Carla and Cary on the famous stairs of the Love Boat

I had passed Cary on our floor in the dorm for almost six months before realizing what a handsome man he was. Within 15 minutes of meeting, we knew we were meant to be together. We were engaged three weeks later, before we even had our first real date, at a concert.

Cary already knew my answer; still he was nervous about proposing. We’d gone for a walk and were sitting beneath some lilac trees–the perfect location for a proposal—but he couldn’t find the words. Finally, on our way back to the dorm he proposed in front of the archery range. Cupid’s arrow must have done the trick!

The Yes concert was our first official date. I went to that concert with a ring on my finger, a wedding date and even our wedding colors chosen.

Cary wanted to marry on the first day of spring, March 21. The next time that day fell on a Saturday was two years later. When we had announced our engagement so quickly, everyone assumed we were forced to get married and looked to see if my stomach was expanding. They were confused when we said the wedding was planned for two years later.

Our relationship was getting in the way of school. Cary, who is three years younger than me (I know, shame on me!), was attending the University of Washington on a football scholarship. We decided I’d move back to my parents’ home in Portland until we got married. While we didn’t get to see each other much over those two years, we had a date every Saturday night. Cary would watch “The Love Boat” in Seattle and I’d watch it in Portland. Right after the show, we’d talk on the phone. Often the conversation was about the cruise ship, Pacific Princess. Oh, how we dreamed of sailing aboard her one day.

We married as planned March 21, 1981. Family and careers kept us busy. Nineteen years later, we were walking through a travel show and learned that the Pacific Princess would be leaving the fleet in two years. We gasped, remembering our Saturday night dates and our pledge to one day sail aboard her. We booked a Bermuda cruise for the following year to celebrate our 20th anniversary.

We arranged to have our vows renewed by the Captain on the famed spiral staircase that had figured so prominently on the television show. I still get teary-eyed when I think about what a special experience. it was. My bouquet of cascading white orchids was gorgeous, even more beautiful than the one I carried at our wedding in 1981, and we were even more in love than we were 20 years earlier.

After the ceremony, we had canapés and champagne in the atrium. Princess Cruises thought of everything—they even arranged for our room steward to be present at the reception so he could whisk our certificate and my bouquet back to our stateroom, allowing us to go straight to dinner.

We had a lot to reminisce about, such as the first time our eyes met in that university dorm, the whirlwind proposal and that joyful Yes concert. “The Love Boat” played its part in our courtship, bringing us together every Saturday night. Now we were on board the Pacific Princess itself, toasting 20 great years.

Our love has only grown since then and I know that more romance is in store for us. This April, we will sail again with Princess Cruises, and Cary and I are tempted to renew our vows once more.

Carla and her husband, Cary, reside in Bonney Lake, Washington. Together, they’ve enjoyed two Princess cruises and they’re anticipating their third in April!