Monday, March 16, 2009
When I knew Bill Kent, he was a Safety Officer aboard Princess Cruises. Somewhere on board the Pacific Princess in Tahiti, I first remember him standing in dress uniform in one of the ship's bars regaling others with tales from cruising and a life at sea. I remember him recasting anecdotes--misbegotten burials at sea that involved sacks of potatoes, ships' propellers, and the inevitable persons-who-go-missing-from-ships-and-are-never-seen-again. As a Safety Officer, he was in a position to have seen and experienced just about everything there was to experience at sea. Somewhere between French Polynesia and the Hawaiian Islands there was Valentine's Day, a luminous full moon, and the requisite Crossing the Line ceremonies when we passed over the Equator.
The last time I saw him, it was Alaska aboard Sky Princess in the last days of summer 1992. We spent an evening in a bar in Juneau together after the ship's two senior officers, David Lumb and Roger Knight, couldn't agree on something. On a rainy Juneau night, Bill escorted me into town and we had a lovely evening standing up at a downtown tavern watching others shoot pool. Bill was first class company and a lot of fun. I remember him trying to protect me from the rain as I clip-clopped my way back to the ship in blue suede heels, magnificently inappropriate footwear for the Juneau rain.
William (Bill) Kent, of Lincolnshire, England, joined P&O (Peninsular & Orient), Princess Cruises' original parent company, in 1974 as a deck cadet, and served on a number of P&O/Princess ships over the years following. After training in Liverpool, he was promoted to the rank of Third Officer, and moved up the chain of command from there. As Safety Officer, he was in charge of passenger and crew safety drills, abandon ship procedures, crew safety training, and supervision of ships' tenders.
Since 2004, he has been elevated to the position of Captain aboard Princess Cruises, taking his first command aboard the Regal Princess. He holds the rank of Commander in the Royal Navy Reserve, specializing in amphibious operations and surface warfare. Currently, Captain William Kent has command of the Royal Princess as she does her 2009 World Cruise.