Meet the cruise ship historian who is preserving and selling furnishings from 'The Love Boat'

Would you just love to own a loveseat from the actual Love Boat?

Imagine you're a kid in Los Angeles in the late 1970s, and you're completely obsessed with the cruise ships that dock in your city. Your parents agree if you can keep up your grades, you can cut school to tour the ships. Thus, you begin bringing a camera to capture every detail.

That's the story of cruise ship historian and journalist Peter Knego, who fell in love with The Love Boat itself — the cruise ships originally known as the Pacific Princess and the Island Princess — before the boats ever became the setting of the popular TV show.

"I would just go aboard and I would take pictures like any sort of curious kid. When I read that all the older ships were going to the scrapyard, I made it a personal mission to document all the ships that I could, knowing that one day all of these ships, even the new ones, would be going to the scrapyard," Knego told us in an interview. 

Photo: The Princesses in 1976 | Peter Knego

His childhood hobby morphed into a career tracking cruise ships. He made sure to get in a visit before the ships were scrapped. That's how he came to be there to witness the final days of both the Pacific Princess and the Island Princess, taking some of the last-known photos of the ships that served as settings for The Love Boat.

Knego explained the history of how these boats were used on the show:

"Well the story of The Love Boat is this. First of all, there was a pilot that was shot on one ship. That was the original "Love Boat." That was called the Sun Princess, and they filmed the pilot on that. Then Princess [Cruise Lines] said, 'Hey, we just bought these two other ships, they’re much better than the Sun Princess, and there’s two of them,' so The Love Boat producers were like, 'Oh, that’s cool, so we can shoot on these two ships.' They had to choose one name, of course, which was Pacific Princess, but it was really the Island Princess and Pacific Princess. So whenever one was in port, they would be able to go down and shoot if they needed deck scenes and on-board scenes. Otherwise they shot in the studio."

Knego tracked both boats over the years, hoping when the time came for them to be scrapped that he could be there to salvage the history his images captured so vividly. When he got to the Pacific Princess in 2013, though, he discovered he'd gotten there too late to board the dangerously listing ship. You can read about the sad fate of the most recognizable face of The Love Boat here.

He fared better when he made it to the dock in order to salvage art and furnishings from the original Island Princess in 2015. He was able to scrap light fixtures, railings, Scandinavian artwork and mid-century furniture.

Now he has items featured for sale for fans of The Love Boat and/or mid-century furniture. Imagine having your own loveseat pulled from one of the original Love Boats! See select items featured in Knego's store below.

Island Princess photo from 1982 | Peter Knego

Island Princess Bar Light and Interior | Peter Knego

Carousel Lounge ceiling disks & early Island Princess Carousel lounge | Peter Knego

The biggest prize in his collection is a recent acquisition that is not for sale, however. A friend found one of the original bronze mermaid sculptures from the Island Princess in India, and alerted Knego. Now he's the proud owner of a detail included in pretty much every pool scene you ever saw on The Love Boat.

Knego said, "I got onboard [the Island Princess] just after they started scrapping her, and I was able to get every one of the important artworks, except for the mermaid, which was by the pool, this bronze sculpture. [Then] last week, I got an email from my friend in India and he found her. She was in some brass shop, so now I have this swimming pool sculpture that’s seen in the backdrop of The Love Boat episodes that were shot aboard ship."

In the foreground, a photo of Knego's recently acquired mermaid sculpture

Originally, Knego's plan was to donate these items to Princess to continue using on their modern Love Boats that still set sail today, but he said the popular cruise company was not interested in preserving that aspect of The Love Boat's history.

"I really think people would be genuinely excited to see the artworks and key elements of the original Love Boats in a little corner here and there on these massive new ships, you know?" Knego said. "As sort of a tribute, but they don’t get it. So, I’m going to, unfortunately, have to sell this stuff to private collectors or people who just generally like art."

Their loss could be your gain if you're as big a fan as Knego is. You can check out all of his salvaged scraps from the Island Princess here. We'll also be sharing more of Knego's historic photos from The Love Boat cruise ships, so check back soon for more memories and stories from his adventures preserving The Love Boat legacy.

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maygem81 2 months ago
At least someone sees the value in the ship. I wished someone would have put a modern twist on that ship. Or, make it a floating 70's ship. I like vintage and I love the 70's era and older ships. People are into past and vintage ships. Not everything new is better than this ship. Hands down looks way better than the floating boxes that are populating our waters now.
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