Many fans of cruising – and particularly those who love Princess Cruises – went into mourning this week after news broke that Gavin MacLeod had died.

The American actor best known for his role as the smiling captain on the 1970s-80s sitcom The Love Boat, died at the age of 90.

After playing the role of a television news writer on the Mary Tyler Moore Show in the seventies, MacLeod went on to even greater fame playing Captain Merrill Stubing on The Love Boat.

An improbably, the show was initially  panned by TV critics but lasted an incredible 11 seasons and even hit the big screen with a series of movies.

When the show closed, Princess Cruises hired MacLeod as an ambassador for public relations. He told the Los Angeles Times in 2013: “The critics hated it. They called it mindless TV.”

But he had the last laugh, attracting a loyal following.  He came to Australia twice for princess.

The Australian office of the line said: “After the Love Boat series wrapped he made two visits to Australia including leading the ‘love tour’ in 2014, where he renewed the wedding vows of our Aussie and Kiwi guests aboard our ship, the Sun Princess leading into Valentine’s Day.”

The Line’s US office said: “It is with sadness felt to the depth of the oceans that we mourn the passing of actor Gavin MacLeod,  our beloved global ambassador, dearest friend and treasured member of the Princess Cruises family for more than 35 years.

“From his 10 seasons staring as Captain Merrill Stubing on the hit TV show “The Love Boat” (1977 to 1986) and for more than three decades following the show’s final season, Gavin enthusiastically shared his passion about the joys and adventures of exploring the world while cruising. He always reminded us that – like the popular TV series, “cruising gives people something to dream about.”

“Gavin, who celebrated his 90th birthday in February, officially became Princess Cruises’ global ambassador in 1986, appearing in a vast array of advertising campaigns and countless public and media appearances for the company. His role for Princess continued until his passing.

“All of us at Princess Cruises and our loyal guests around the world whom, to this day, remain avid fans of Gavin’s, send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Patricia (Patti) and his entire family who have lost a loving husband, father and grandfather. We offer our sincerest gratitude to them for sharing Gavin with all of us for so many years.”