History in the Making – There are cruise fans … cruise obsessives … cruise experts … and then there’s Peter Knego.
There are cruise fans … cruise obsessives … cruise experts … and then there’s Peter Knego
“I’ll give you 20 bucks if you turn to that woman and say ‘Shut the f— up.’”
That, I believe, was the first thing I ever said…well, whispered…to Peter Knego. I was a little tipsy at the time.
Peter was a tablemate of mine aboard an Emerald Princess cruise in 2007 and the woman everyone at the table wanted to put a muzzle on had been talking — without pause — as though she just might be the most fascinating person to ever set foot aboard a cruise ship. I later learned, however, that it was Peter who just might be the most fascinating person to ever set foot aboard a cruise ship.
We’ve all met cruise writers, historians, and photographers during our sailings, but Peter Knego is a master of all three. His writing and photography is everywhere — in magazines and newspapers, books and websites, including his blog on Maritime Matters — and he is a highly sought onboard lecturer and radio and TV cruise authority. Those things alone would be enough to convey the passion that this tall, slim, quick-smiling former music promoter (and son of actors Peter Coe and Rosalee Calvert) has for cruise ships and ocean liners. But it’s really just the beginning. When Peter’s not sailing, he lives — literally — among the art, fixtures, and fittings of some of his favorite ships.
And I don’t mean he’s swiped a few bath mats and a dessert dish here and there.
Peter is particularly drawn to the ocean liners of the midcentury, the forgotten vessels that were fitted with the fine woods that today wouldn’t pass SOLAS muster, and the etched glass, nickel, and brass that are prohibitively expensive in today’s shipbuilding world. When Peter learns that one of his beloved ships is headed for the shipbreakers (often the beaches of Alang, India) Peter will likely journey there and endure the heat and oppressive conditions to strike a deal with those planning to dismantle the vessel so he might preserve the rare relics and furnishings that would otherwise be lost forever. Some of these treasures are offered for sale, but much of it, like a pair of wooden doors and a mahogany bar from Aureol, a stair railing from Cunard’s Ivernia, and an Emanuele Luzzati painting from Stella Oceanis, have been meticulously installed in Peter’s home … while I, meanwhile, can’t even find a guy to re-do the wallpaper in my bathroom.
If there’s a ship buff on your gift list this year, you’ll want to check out Peter’s website, Midship Century, where you’ll find furniture, artwork, fittings, and more salvaged from some of the most cherished ships of yesteryear, along with The Sands of Alang, a documentary that captures Peter’s second and third visits to India’s shipbreaking yards. All of which would please the recipient a whole lot more than underwear and socks.
(Dedicated to the memory of Doug Satterblom and Michael Travell, Peter’s and my respective travel companions on that Emerald Princess cruise.)
— Judi Cuervo
Photos: Peter Knego (2), Judi Cuervo
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