As most of us in the industry already know, the main criteria for interior design on board passenger ships are those associated with leisure and hospitality.
Today’s ships are built with a distinct personality and style to stand out on the waters. This starts with interior design which defines the passenger’s on-board experience from the moment they board until departure.
The main influencer in this sector is the cruise ship – a floating hotel/bar/restaurant/hotel/cinema/retailer etc. prevailing with only the performance specification [for example IMO] requirement differentiating it from the general leisure and hospitality or retail sector.
The gap between purpose and pleasure is closing. However, the ability to reach the technical specifications demanded by the sector is still critical and may of course influence product attributes and therefore the potential aesthetic achievable. What is clear, however, is that this is a fast moving design focused sector with high emphasis on innovative solutions. Flexibility in design and quick response is the key to success as the traditional concept of interior trends is lost in such a wide ranging environment.
Home from Home
Numerous vessels have recently been refurbished with the emphasis being on the concept of appearing more spacious and giving the cabins a more ‘home away from home’ feel.
Cunard are taking this trend to the next level by creating duplex suites, mirroring the typical two-storey family home. On the Queen Mary 2 the duplex cabins feature living and dining room areas and a bedroom and bathroom upstairs. Royal Caribbean have designed a similar concept in the form of a loft suite for their Oasis and Allure of the Seas ships. Each loft suite cabin has a living and dining room area, a wrap-around balcony with outdoor dining and a bedroom and bathroom upstairs. The cruise operator has even considered larger families by creating the option for two loft suites to be connect to sleep more than ten people.
A number of cruise operators are now doing more to cater to families with children by creating family suites with adaptable furniture such as sofa beds and clever partitioning concepts to create separate parent/child spaces and segmented bathrooms that can be used by more than one person at a time.
From 2015 to 2016, solo cruise passengers rose by 20% and this has not gone unnoticed. Norwegian and P&O have introduced single passenger cabins to their designs with extra-large single beds and en-suite bathrooms with showers.
Cruise ship interior design is taking a turn towards adaptable spaces, not only as a means of functionality but also as a desirable extra. Adaptable design innovation enables cruise operators to cater to their passengers more holistically and give them more flexibility during their stay.
The forward-thinking Celebrity Edge ship due to launch next year will feature a ‘magic carpet’ – an open-air platform cantilevered off the side of the ship that will move between decks where passengers can dine and enjoy the views.
Not strictly in the cruise ship arena and a must-have for many years on superyachts but an emerging trend in smaller luxury yachts are fold out balconies. The fold-out function allows the vessel to be more streamlined when sailing but gives passengers more space when anchored and a chance to enjoy glorious views of the ocean. Princess Yachts’ Kohuba and Benetti’s Constance Joy both boasted this design feature at the 2016 Cannes Yacht Festival.
The surge in adaptable cabins mentioned in the home-from-home section mentioned above also fits nicely here with dividing curtains to create separate spaces and pull-out beds and sofas.
Bringing the Outside in
Cabins are historically known to be claustrophobic, especially those on the inside but cruise operators are doing much more to bring the outside in. Creating more of a seamless connection between inside and outside lets passengers embrace their surroundings and experience the sea view.
Disney Cruise Line has installed ‘virtual portholes’ on its Dream and Fantasy ships so that passengers staying in inside cabins can enjoy the outside views via real-time video streams. Celebrity Cruises have taken a different approach and have designed standard balcony cabins for the new Celebrity Edge ship with bi-fold doors that span the whole width of the room.
Carnival are taking this trend one step further on board the new Carnival Vista. The Havana Cabana cabins link directly to the Lanai deck, which wraps around the whole ship on a level close to the sea. It is also very wide-spanning, which enables interior spaces to blend directly into outside deck areas for passengers to enjoy seamlessly.
A saloon with 360 degree views is featured on Basto Fosen’s new Basto VI to allow passengers to sit back and relax in a bright open space with plenty of opportunity to take in the view and still feel connected to the outdoors.
More and more often cruise operators are paying close attention to the cultural elements of the destinations they visit and conveying this in the interior design of the vessel. This not only gives passengers a real taste of the places they get to explore but also a vibrant and exciting environment that is different to their usual surroundings.
P&O Cruises’ President, Sture Myrmell noted that the interiors of their newest ship, the Pacific Explorer, were designed to reflect modern Australia, combining elegance with relaxed comfort so that passengers can enjoy a real experience of Australian culture.
SMC Design took on the entire design of the Genting Dream ship due to launch in October 2017, enabling them to create a cohesive design narrative throughout. The design firm spent a lot of time researching the wide-spanning Asian culture to get a strong understanding of design, food, travel, etc. trends so they can portray it in the interiors of the vessel as well as creating a desirable experience for the Asian market. The team have visited the likes of Japan, Thailand, Bali, China and Korea to choose many aspects of the ship interiors and experiences, including the commissioning of 4,000 pieces of artwork that now feature on board.
The Art Deco design trend on board cruise ships has been around for many years but still continues to have a strong presence on new vessels.
In 1936, Cunard’s original Queen Mary was launched as a symbol of recovery from the Great Depression. The vessel oozed the grandeur and luxury of the Art Deco era and in 2016, the remastered Queen Mary 2 boasts a nod to its original design 80 years later with traditional features such as marble, brass, bronze and extravagant chandeliers fused with a more contemporary setting, bringing the elegance of Art Deco into modern day life.
Disney Cruises have moved away from the child-oriented sugary designs of its theme parks in favour of a more sophisticated and lavish interior design scheme that still embodies the real Disney magic. The cruise operator’s suite of ships evoke the extravagant Art Deco era in such a way that appeals to both adults and children, including a 13 foot chandelier that sports 88,680 Swarovski crystal beads.
As competition in the cruise industry increase, innovative interior design is quickly growing in importance. Cruise operators are developing cutting edge concepts and breathtaking interior design schemes to set themselves apart and stand out on the waters. In this age of rapidly developing technology, it is much easier for designers to extend their creative flare with the help of computer aided design.
In striving for modern design excellence, the cruise industry is now starting to attract a younger audience. Almost a third of US millenials have been on a cruise in the past 5 years, compared to less than a fifth of boomers.
With increasing competition and a widening audience, cruise ship design is becoming an exciting focal point in the creative industries. We very much look forward to seeing how these trends unfold on board future vessels.