The Real Love Boat premiered on CBS on October 5, and as the title suggests, the series pairs the nostalgia of the 1970s show, The Love Boat, with the rise of popular reality dating competition shows like The Bachelor franchise. The familiar theme song of the new dating show is sung by celebrity couple and the show’s hosts, Jerry O’Connell and Rebecca Romijn, according to Variety.
Captain Paolo Arrigo, Cruise Director Matt Mitcham, and Bartender Ezra Freeman, all have a history of working with Princess Cruises, the company that provides the ships on The Love Boat and The Real Love Boat. Although The Real Love Boat wants to feel exciting and new, there are several other reality shows that make waves like the new series.
Bachelor In Paradise (2014 – )
Stream On Hulu, HBO Max, & ABC
Bachelor In Paradise transports viewers to a luxurious beach resort in Mexico, as former contestants from The Bachelor and The Bachelorette are brought together for a second chance at love. Contestants often confide in their bartender, Wells, who advises them as the power shifts weekly, and the men and women take turns running the rose ceremony.
The Real Love Boat also provides dating guidance for men and women aboard the Regal Princess cruise ship from the captain, cruise director, and bartender. The format of the show mirrors Bachelor In Paradise, because after weekly challenges and cocktail parties, the men and women take turns steering the sail away ceremony, and the rejected contestants are left at port.
Love Island USA (2019 – )
Stream On Freevee, Pluto TV, Netflix, & NBC
On Love Island USA, a group of sexy singles, called Islanders are placed in a secluded villa, and they must pair up each week in order to stay in the game. As the season goes on, new Islanders are rotated into the cast to make finding a match extra challenging.
The Real Love Boat cruises throughout the Mediterranean, as new men and women are brought on board to rock the boat and make it harder for the previous cast mates to survive the weekly sail away ceremony. Love Island USA is guided by fan votes, while The Real Love Boat features a schedule of events designed by the ship’s cruise director, Matt.
Too Hot To Handle (2020 – )
Stream On Netflix
Netflix’s tropical foray into reality dating competitions, Too Hot To Handle prohibits male and female contestants from acting on any physical attraction unless they make a significant emotional connection first. Contestants must show personal growth through challenges, and avoid temptation at all costs, even when they’re gifted a private room.
Most of the fan-favorite cast members on Too Hot To Handle won’t settle for anything less than a deep connection, which is also the goal of The Real Love Boat. Couples must face challenges that require honesty and trust, and the challenge winners receive a special dinner at the Captain’s table and a key to a romantic suite.
FBoy Island (2021 – )
Stream On HBO Max
Unlike most other reality dating shows, HBO Max’s FBoy Island doesn’t pretend their contestants always have the best intentions. While the show seemingly gives three women the power to date a wide pool of men, some of them enter the show as Nice Guys looking for love, while others are self-proclaimed FBoys, who want to gain Instagram followers, and keep the $100,000 prize money for themselves.
Although most of the passengers on The Real Love Boat are genuinely looking for love and possibly marriage, there are some contestants who admit they’ve never had a serious relationship, or previously cheated on their partners, which are red flags fans look for on FBoy Island, that could lead to rocky seas on The Real Love Boat.
Are You The One? (2014 – )
Stream On Hulu, Netflix, & Paramount+
Every contestant on MTV’s Are You The One? has what the show deems as a “perfect match” living in the house with them. The matches are based on extensive interviews, scientifically proven compatibility testing, and matchmaking, (per Entertainment Weekly). The contestants must all work together to correctly identify every perfect match, in order to win and split the one million dollar grand prize.
The passengers on The Real Love Boat are looking for love, but their perfect match isn’t pre-determined or set in stone like it is on Are You The One? Both shows focus on finding soul mates based on a variety of factors, but the passengers on The Real Love Boat have the freedom to choose their partner or leave the show if they desire, since it’s an individual game, with limitless possibilities.
The Millionaire Matchmaker (2008 – 2015)
Stream On Bravo Now & NBC
Patti Stanger is The Millionaire Matchmaker, who pairs her wealthy clients with singles that match their ideal type. After meeting with her client, she asks her assistants to scout eligible bachelors or bachelorettes, and invite them to a mixer, where their client is able to select who they would like to ask on a date.
The Real Love Boat focuses on matchmaking men and women with similar interests, personalities, and priorities. The bartender Ezra, cruise director Matt, and Captain Paolo have all met their own romantic matches on cruises, and throughout the season, they send contestants on dates to see who is truly compatible.
The Amazing Race (2001 – )
Stream On Paramount+
The best teams on The Amazing Race trust their partners through physical and mental competitions that push even the strongest competitors to their limits. Several dynamic duos travel around the world as they race to win the $1,000,000 grand prize.
Traveling throughout the Mediterranean adds an aspirational element to The Real Love Boat, similar to The Amazing Race. In the second episode, the passengers go on a land excursion and must climb The Rock of Gibraltar, while revealing truths about their past relationships. This format provides a similar feel to the roadblocks on The Amazing Race, which can make or break a pair’s game or relationship.
The Challenge: USA (2022 – )
Stream On Paramount+
In The Challenge: USA, former cast members of Big Brother, Survivor, Love Island, and The Amazing Race are randomly paired in teams each week, determined by a machine called The Algorithm. The teams of two work together through challenges that are mentally, physically, and emotionally draining, and strategize to stay in the game and compete in the finale for $500,000.
Partners are not always guaranteed on The Real Love Boat, and staying on board requires a strong social strategy, just like in The Challenge: USA. The couples on The Real Love Boat are rewarded for winning low-stakes challenges, and the final couple sails away with $50,000 and a complimentary second cruise.
The Cruise: Sailing The Mediterranean (2016 – 2019)
Watch On YouTube
The Cruise: Sailing The Mediterranean is a British reality series that follows the staff of Princess Cruises. From the engineers to the entertainers, from the tour guides to the frequent guests, viewers can see the inner workings of the cruise ship, and how many thoughtful details go into making a vacation appear seamless.
The first season of The Cruise takes place aboard one of their largest ships, The Regal Princess, which is the same setting as The Real Love Boat. While most of the ship’s crew is behind the scenes for the new dating show, the real captain, cruise director, and bartender thoughtfully provide dating advice and themed dates for the passengers.
Below Deck: Mediterranean (2016 – )
Stream On Peacock
The scenic backdrop of sunsets over the water on Below Deck: Mediterranean provides a soothing escape from the arguments that often stem from complicated boatmances and drunken misunderstandings on the crew’s nights out. Although some Below Deck alum have found love on the show, most relationships, like Hannah and Conrad’s, fade out before the season’s over.
Since it’s a new series, many fans of The Real Love Boat might not realize an Australian version was filmed in the Mediterranean first, (per Variety), which brought Below Deck: Mediterranean former chief stew Hannah Ferrier on as the ship’s cruise director. After she left the Bravo franchise, Hannah married her husband, Josh, and had her daughter, Ava. If anyone can tell a boatmance from true love, it’s her.