Holland America Line’s and Seabourn’s refurbishment strategies encompass innovative concepts from music experiences to sustainable products and diverse destinations
Open spaces, staterooms and environmental products are all growing trends that Holland America Line (HAL) director of interior design and operations My Nguyen is seeing within cruise ship interior design.
These trends come against a backdrop of an increased focus on current cruise fleets within the global industry. Ms Nguyen says “It is a really exciting time for refurbishment, so many ships are being built now, and what comes with that is the pressure to make sure existing tonnage is as desirable as the new tonnage to be competitive in the market.”
Homing in on design trends, she says “Grand atriums, big open spaces, and theme park experiences are trends I am seeing. Ships are being built to emulate experiences on land to attract a broader clientele.”
Ms Nguyen is also keen to see the continued growth of sustainable products used in cruise interiors and design. “This is a growing demand I feel will take flight as it did with land-based hotel design. In the past there was not enough interest for vendors to venture into creating products that were environmentally sustainable and met the strict fire regulations for marine. However, an increased sense of responsibility for sustainability by cruise operators has boosted volumes. “It is our responsibility as marine designers and specifiers to tip the demand and influence vendors to develop new products,” says Ms Nguyen.
Indeed, she has recently commissioned a completely new environmentally sustainable carpet launched by Dansk Wilton at Cruise Ship Interiors Expo in Miami in 2019. It will be in every stateroom in HAL’s newest ship, due to be delivered in 2021. Her team is also specifying this product as they retrofit the staterooms on their existing fleet. Ms Nguyen explains “Not only is this product beautiful, it is totally sustainable as it is made by the natural colours of sheep’s wool. This eliminates the dying process which can be harmful to the environment.
“I love the natural, organic nature of the carpet and designed the accompanying elements in the cabin to create a light, airy space.
Another trend Ms Nguyen sees rapidly unfolding is “outside-in concept” staterooms. She explains “This is a long-term trend – you can be in your stateroom and feel like you are inside or outside due to new designs such as making the internal wall a window.”
Indeed, she highlights how stateroom design is growing in importance. Alongside her main role as director of design and refurbishment, Ms Nguyen is also head designer responsible for staterooms on HAL’s newbuild vessels.
“In the past owners focused on public spaces to encourage guests to spend their time outside their staterooms,” she says.
Contrary to this belief, the Wintergarden suites designed by Adam Tihany boast a two-storey dwelling that “will be the ultimate in luxury suite living during your vacation” on Seabourn Venture, set to launch in 2021.
Ms Nguyen comments “this is a wonderful shift in mindset and accommodates the culture of very busy people wanting a reprieve from constantly being overstimulated. I have always thought of staterooms as wonderful projects to design, as on vacation people often remember how well they slept. It is a pleasure to create a soothing environment where people can unwind and be completely relaxed.”
Moving to refurbishment projects at HAL and Seabourn, Ms Nguyen says the brand has rolled out some exciting initiatives over the past few years.
“We are a brand known for excellent customer service, great food and memorable music performances. We have created a venue called Music Walk,” says Ms Nguyen. “Once people get out of a show, they walk through this area, which has a duo playing the piano and singing billboard songs, a chamber group, blues band and a rock band. It is a fantastic music experience and we have had to renovate spaces to accommodate these options”. These spaces are now on eight HAL ships and will be placed on four more ships in upcoming refits.
Another concept being rolled out across Holland America Line’s fleet is a way to “embrace our unique and diverse destinations that speak to the curious traveller,” says Ms Nguyen.
Therefore, the company has created a hub called Exploration Central on the highest deck forward boasting a 270° view of the surroundings. This area resonates with the curious traveller and offers a lounge, bar, and kiosks where guests can learn about destinations on their cruise and beyond. “It is a perfect space to meet fellow travellers, learn details about your itinerary, or grab a good cup of coffee and read a book while surrounded by the best view on board,” comments Ms Nguyen.
When it comes to the refurbishment strategy of HAL and Seabourn, Ms Nguyen explains there are continuous enhancement projects being planned across the fleet. The next large refurbishment is on HAL’s Noordam, which started at the end of September 2019. “We have at least 35,000 m of new design carpet in the public spaces, new furniture and colour schemes throughout the public spaces, and a complete upgrade to our suites,” she says.
The HAL and Seabourn brands take in a range of ship ages, from newbuilds to 20-year-old cruise ships.
Ms Nguyen says the interior design caters to the different ages in the fleet. “All our ships have the same elegant feel but different colour schemes and patterning to make sure they fit with their class of ship.”
From new venues encompassing music, travel and food, to enhanced staterooms and a sustainable focus, the current HAL and Seabourn fleet is enjoying varied and innovative upgrades.