The Love Boat is in town and the captain, Merrill Stubing, is expecting you.

American actor Gavin MacLeod is in New Zealand as the ambassador for Princess Cruises - the company that owned the original Pacific Princess on which the long-running TV show The Love Boat was set.

As part of its world voyage the second Pacific Princess was in Auckland yesterday before sailing to Sydney last night.

MacLeod said the show had introduced holiday cruising to the masses.


"Of all the shows I did, The Love Boat created an industry and I'm very proud of my role in that," he said.

"Princess Cruises started with two boats and we now have 17 mega ships and another about to be launched."

MacLeod was on board the ship to entertain guests with clips from The Love Boat archives and a few yarns from his days as Captain Stubing.

The 80-year-old had fond memories of The Love Boat days and was still in contact with the cast, many of whom attended his birthday party, which took place aboard last year.

Before the first Pacific Princess was sold in 2002, MacLeod was invited on board for a final voyage from New York to Rome.

"I met so many people who really did meet and fall in love on that ship," MacLeod said.

"Some of the people had their honeymoon on board and were reliving that."

The popular show saw many a love match made, but MacLeod's real-life marriage broke down.

"The show was a huge part of my life. If I wasn't acting in it, I was doing publicity or learning lines," he said.

"I couldn't handle both marriage and the show so I got a divorce."

But in tune with the show's theme song Love, let it float, it floats back to you MacLeod and his wife Patti were remarried three years later.

"Our story could be straight from the script of the show," MacLeod said.

"She never gave up on me."