The healthy cruise ship orderbook is fuelling innovation in interior design and providing a push for current fleet revitilisation
The cruise interiors industry is booming, with 127 newbuilds on an orderbook stretching to 2027 – and this is also stimulating the drive to refurbish current cruise ships.
Royal Caribbean consultant Stephen Fryers told the audience at Cruise Ship Interiors Expo in Miami that he had “never seen an orderbook so far into the future”. And he noted that it not only consists of standard cruise ships but also expedition cruise ships. Of these new cruise ships, 98 are expected to be delivered by 2020. This orderbook is worth US$68Bn.
These newbuilds are having a knock-on effect on upgrades to the world’s current cruise fleet.
MSC Cruises vice president of newbuilding and refurbishment Trevor Young said “Newbuilds have the new ideas and new stimulus that older ships do not have so you work out how to update older ships to new ideas. That is a huge challenge but something that has to be done.”
While fellow panellist Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings vice president Colin Gant added “Operators need to check that the standard is continued throughout the rest of the brand. There is a harmonisation of the existing fleet, with new restaurants, water parks, race courses, go carts – this puts a strain on older hardware to keep up with those things. It is about making sure older hardware is not left behind.”
While Holland America Group (Princess Cruises) interior design and operations director George Scammell told delegates at the June expo that upgrades are about ensuring “consistency of brand”.
Mr Fryers added “It is about repurposing vessels – spending huge sums of money to modernise vessels and sending them to new markets.”
There are also challenges to face when it comes to upgrades.
Mr Gant said that a lot of cruise lines now see “drydock driving the itinerary,” whereas previously, itinerary would drive drydock. Also drydocks are now taking place in June, which he labels a “recent phenomenon”. This is due to fitting more ships into drydock and therefore extending the window of time for drydock vessels.
He added “If you buy a ship now, you will not get it for 10 years, so you need to revitalise the hardware. If an owner really wants a new ship, in the short term they need to refit the existing fleet and that is what is driving the massive push across all brands to continue revitalisations – they just keep getting bigger and bigger in scale and scope.”
Elsewhere in the keynote session, the panel emphasised using new and innovative material and products.
Mr Scammell said “There is a need for innovation, to start pushing the envelope, evolving and creating more and different products.
Mr Fryers added “You are pushing suppliers constantly for more innovative materials and the industry is driving the supply.
Carnival Cruise Line senior director of design and architecture Petu Kummala said “we have new suppliers now interested in doing what needs to be done for IMO testing. In the past they did not see us as a big enough industry.
“We see new vendors daily and try and guide them for IMO – we always want new and innovative products.”
Seabourn Odyssey – design features
An extensive refit has taken place on ultra-luxury Seabourn Odyssey to ensure the brand maintains it six-star standards throughout the ship. Trimline carried out the refit, which encompassed all public areas and Veranda suites on board, including elevators.
The 10 day drydock took place in Genoa in May this year.
Commercial Manager Simon Dawkins says that one of the “highlight area” was the Seabourn Square. This encompasses the reception area in the middle, coffee lounge, excursion arrangement area and lounge bar, creating a “hub”.
Mr Dawkins comments “Its two sister ships have that kind of make-up. The ethos is for intimacy and relaxation.
The elevators have also been an important part of the refit. Mr Dawkins says “They look very impressive. A luxury fabric is set behind glass, champagne mirrors add depth to the space whilst new lighting above makes the space have a real impact as the doors open. It is really impressive for an elevator. The design inspiration was taken from Seabourn’s two larger ships giving a consistent style across the growing fleet”
Sustainability was also an important factor for the refit. An example was the use of light-weight Calacatta tiles in the suite showers, which were less than half the weight of the existing This reduces the overall weight of the vessel whilst increasing the durability, and therefore life span, of the showers.
Mr Dawkins commented that one of the main challenges was that because it was a smaller ship, space was at a premium. He says “We had to ensure that we were working around each other effectively to maximise the space available.”
China: new frontier
Elsewhere, using Chinese shipyards to build cruise ships is a “new frontier” for the cruise ship market, said Tomas Tillberg Design managing partner Tomas Tillberg.
Tomas Tillberg Design is working on the interiors of cruise ships and ferries being built in China. It is heading up interior design for SunStone Ships’ newbuilds being built at China Merchants Industry Holdings’ (CMIH) shipyard and is also playing an important role in Viking Line’s newbuild project being built at Xiamen Shipbuilding in China.
Tomas Tillberg Design was awarded the contract to design SunStone Ships’ new expedition cruise ships following a relationship with SunStone Ships that has spanned a decade.
Mr Tillberg elaborated “Chinese yards have not built cruise ships before but by bringing an experienced European contractor to CMIH we can deliver the interior that a modern cruise ship should have.”
He highlighted the great impact he believes China will have on cruise ship building. “China is a new frontier for cruise shipping and for building cruise ships. The Chinese are making a serious effort to get into this market and are committed to staying for the long haul.”
The seven Infinity-class ships have all been chartered by different cruise operators. “Each charterer will design its passenger areas of the ship, leading to different design features in each vessel. Using shipyards in China to build cruise ships and ferries is a trend that Mr Tillberg is sure will continue. “Major cruise lines are expanding, and European shipyards are full,” he said.
Tomas Tillberg Design’s lead designer and managing partner Nedgé Louis-Jacques commented “From a design point of view, this series of vessels is very interesting. They are all the same ship basically but intended for different clients, so their designs are adapted individually. Charterers who will operate the ships have specific demands and they cater to certain groups of people, they know exactly who their customers are and what they expect, and we meet these demands.”
Singling out Aurora Cruises, she said that as the company was headquartered in Australia and many of its passengers were Australian, it had an impact on the design. “Australian passengers are a bit more casual than say the UK, it is a different attitude to cruising and is less formal, but still elegant and comfortable so there will be a very nice mix of interiors.”
Speaking about designing expedition ships in general, Ms Louis-Jacques points out that their designs are very different to those of larger cruise ships. “The focus on bigger cruise ships is more on the entertainment, food and drink, casino and other onboard revenue sources. On a small expedition ship the focus is completely different – the passengers are on the ship for the destination rather than the ship itself. They want a comfortable and upscale environment, but definitely don’t expect a Las Vegas show.”