The first day of the new year marked Princess Cruises’ first-ever debut in the iconic 126th Rose Parade, kicking off the cruise line’s 50th anniversary celebration. The float, themed “50 Years of Inspiring Travel” was awarded the prestigious Craftsman Trophy for Exceptional Achievement in Showmanship and Dramatic Impact.

As a special feature, the six original cast members of The Love Boat television show rode on the ship’s bow and “cruised” down the five-and-a-half mile parade route. Rhe Rose Parade float depicted the line’s newest cruise ship Regal Princess symbolically sailing through the world’s fascinating destinations and iconic landmarks that guests have experienced with Princess for the past 50 years.

“Since the theme of this year’s Rose Parade was ‘Inspiring Stories,’ we thought it was the perfect opportunity to launch our 50th anniversary year celebrations,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “For the last five decades our guests have been sailing with us to amazing places and they’ve returned with inspiring memories that have lasted a lifetime, and we want to celebrate this throughout our golden anniversary year.”

The Love Boat cast, including Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Fred Grandy (Chief Purser Gopher), Ted Lange (Bartender Isaac), Bernie Kopell (Doc), Lauren Tewes (Cruise Director Julie) and Jill Whelan (Captain’s daughter Vicki), recently named Regal Princess, having served as the ship’s godparents before the cruise ship’s maiden Caribbean season and their appearance in the New Year’s Day parade.

Viewers recognized the Sydney Opera House, the leaning tower of Pisa, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, a traditional Japanese pagoda, the Golden Gate Bridge and the tropical flowers and water falls of the Caribbean, Hawaii and Mexico, as well as the majestic mountains and wildlife as featured on Alaska cruises – just some of the sights travelers will see when sailing with Princess, whose ships visit 350 destinations around the globe.

The Princess Cruises float measured 60 feet long and 24 feet high with more than 24,000 flowers and natural materials. Flowers included roses, orchids and carnations, dendrobs, tulips, cymbidiums, delphiniums and gerbera daisies.

Paying tribute to the parade’s theme, Princess conducted a contest asking its past guests to share an inspiring story that occurred aboard a Princess cruise for a chance to ride on the float. The grand-prize winner was 91-year-old World War II veteran Nathan Keith Abbott, who took a Princess cruise back to the South Pacific, as he had long wished to revisit the islands where he served during the war.

Other riders who were selected told their inspiring stories about a variety of special celebrations including an engagement in front of a glacier in Alaska, a renewal of vows to mark 50 years of marriage, a celebration of life after surviving breast cancer, and a mother and daughter college graduation cruise to celebrate both of them receiving their degrees.

As a tribute to Princess’ 25,000 crew members and employees around the world who the company credits for delivering incredible cruise vacations to their guests, the float incorporated flower vials that were personally signed by 16,0000 employees, signifying their important role in the company’s successful past and exciting future.