How ‘The Real Love Boat’ Paid Tribute to Original Show in Premiere (RECAP)

Brooke White, Shea-Lynn Noyes, Alisa Shah, Nathan Kroger, Michael Gonzalez, Forrest Jones in 'The Real Love Boat' series premiere on CBS
Spoiler Alert
Sara Mally/CBS

[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Real Love Boat series premiere.]

Love, exciting and new. The Real Love Boat premiered Wednesday, October 5 on CBS, bringing a fresh twist to the reality dating genre as it’s set on a cruise ship. Like the scripted show it’s based on, The Real Love Boat aims to bring singles together to find love.

The dating show’s premiere paid tribute to ABC‘s The Love Boat in simple, recognizable ways. For starters, hosts/real-life couple Jerry O’Connell and Rebecca Romijn covered The Love Boat theme song for the new reality show. The rest of The Love Boat references are found in the dating program’s format.

The new series pays homage to three of The Love Boat‘s staple characters — ship captain Merrill Stubing (Gavin MacLeod), bartender Isaac Washington (Ted Lange), and cruise director Julie McCoy (Lauren Tewes) — in its crew. Real-life Princess Cruises captain Paolo Arrigo serves as The Real Love Boat‘s charming ship leader, with fellow Princess Cruises employees Ezra Freeman as the bartender and Matt Mitcham as the cruise director. Arrigo has been with Princess Cruises since 1996, Freeman since 2019, and Mitcham has been a Princess director for 14 years (he also met his wife on a cruise in 2016!).

In the premiere, the singles started out by introducing themselves in front of everyone on the ship. This was their chance to show off some special skills and/or get emotionally real. The singles then voted for the “Catch of the Day,” aka the person who made the best first impression. They chose Alisa, a landscape designer, who then had her pick of people to take out on a date.

The men and women will take turns being in charge of the week’s events, culminating in the weekly Sail Away Ceremony. This is where another homage came in the form of Bingo balls. Bingo was frequently played on The Love Boat, with some of Charo’s most memorable scenes involving the game. In The Real Love Boat, the Catch of the Day picks the person they want to keep on the ship first, then the rest of the selection order is determined by which Bingo ball each cast member draws.

If you’re not chosen during the Sail Away Ceremony, your time on the Love Boat has ended. In the premiere, Michael and Forrest were the first sent home.

What did you think of the new show? Let us know in the comments, below.

The Real Love Boat, Wednesdays, 9/8c, CBS