The founder of Princess Cruises, who pioneered many industry innovations and made his ships stars on “The Love Boat,” has died. He was 94 years old.
Stanley McDonald passed away in his sleep on Nov. 20 at his home in Bellevue, Wash. from age-related infirmities.
McDonald was a Seattle businessman who promoted the 1962 World’s Fair and started his company almost by accident. Due to a shortage of city hotel rooms, he chartered a boat that provided lodgings and sailed from San Francisco to Seattle to Victoria, British Columbia.
The venture was such a success he decided to go into cruising as a regular business, starting with a converted ferryboat in 1965 called the Princess Patricia that gave the company its name. The ship sailed that year from Los Angeles to what he dubbed the “Mexican Riviera,” a marketing term that stuck for Mexico’s Pacific coast.
He added a second ship in 1967 specifically designed for pleasure cruises, and in 1974 ordered two more boats that served as the backdrop for the successful Aaron Spelling comedy series “The Love Boat,” which ran from 1977 to 1987.
Over the years, the ships added amenities such as casinos, swimming pools, nightclubs and elaborate dining facilities.
McDonald sold his company to Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. in 1975 but stayed on for five more years until retiring. Princess, based in Santa Clarita, is now owned by Carnival Corp. in Miami.
A six minute You Tube video posted on the Princess Cruises website outlines many of his accomplishments in McDonald’s own words.
The cruise line issued a statement saying it was “deeply saddened about the passing of our founder, Stan McDonald. Without his bold vision that people would love to vacation on the seas and explore fascinating ports along the way on ships full of exciting amenities, the vacation world would be very different today.”
McDonald is survived by his wife Barbara, two children, a sister, a brother, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.