Reducing weight was a crucial focus for battery-powered Future of the Fjords’ interiors, while passenger flow was also important
The Fjords’ all-electric Future of the Fjords’ interiors have been inspired by the fast ferry sector.
Future of the Fjords is the first carbon-fibre vessel in the world to be fully electric. It is also the first vessel of its kind to offer completely emission-free transport through the Western Norwegian UNESCO World Heritage-listed region.
The Fjords chief executive Rolf Sandvik told Passenger Ship Technology “The weight of the hotel load is extremely important because this takes energy from the batteries too. Therefore, we were looking to shave off as many tonnes as possible.” However, Mr Sandvik pointed out that as well as light, the material needed to be sturdy in order to have a long lifespan.
“The weight of the hotel load is extremely important because this takes energy from the batteries too – we were looking to shave off as many tonnes as possible”
It was built by Norwegian shipyard Brødrene Aa, which also built sister vessel Vision of the Fjords in 2016. “To source material that is as light as possible is part of the DNA of Brødrene Aa,” commented Mr Sandvik.
Brødrene Aa specialises in fast ferries and applied its knowledge and work in this area to the interiors of Future of the Fjords. The shipyard’s designer Torstein Aa told Passenger Ship Technology “We have specialised in fast ferries until now and it is all about weight and efficiency. Therefore, we have a really good process when making energy-efficient ships.”
For example, the shipyard works closely with West Mekan, which constructs very lightweight seats. The company provided the seats for Future of the Fjords. “Every detail where we can save weight counts and when there are 400 seats, if you can just shave off half a kilo, that makes a difference,” Mr Aa said.
The seats are so lightweight because they have a frame mainly constructed of aluminium and are placed as close together as possible, to save weight and be space-saving. Mr Aa compared the seats as being like those in an aeroplane, where weight is also extremely important. Lightweight aluminium was also used to construct the tables.
The internal walls of Future of the Fjords are mostly made from aluminium hexagon panels. Mr Aa said “This is used in fast ferries as it is really lightweight. It is also used in the airline industry. The fast ferry industry is inspired by the airline industry.”
Mr Sandvik highlighted another aspect used to keep the interior weight down: the ferry’s charging solution called Power Dock, a 40-m long, 5-m wide floating glass fibre dock that sits on the water and has storage capacity, including freezers and cooling rooms. These will be used to store food for the ferry’s canteen. “Because we have limited space on board, we have as little storage as possible, so plan to replenish food on every trip in order to keep weight down,” he said.
Boosting passenger flow
Passenger flow was a crucial consideration on several levels. Mr Sandvik singled out the importance of the restaurant in this regard. “We want to encourage people to feel in a good mood and be hungry, which is why we have the sausage grill placed further out [from the counter and till] so passengers can smell it.”
Passenger flow is also important to increase revenue from the restaurant. “There is such fierce competition [between ferries in the fjords] that we have to look at different ways to earn money other than from the ticket price. It is very important to have different colours and layouts as it’s important to encourage people to move around,” said Mr Sandvik. Therefore, the ferry operator has broken up the tables with different types of interior on each side of the ferry, “so when people discover different areas they move around more, as they think they might miss something if they don’t move to the other side”. This helps to encourage passengers to pass the cash register several times.
In another area of passenger flow, Mr Aa pointed out that walkways were minimised to “use as much as you can of space and make it as efficient as possible from the start”. Another very important consideration was ensuring a smooth and efficient passenger flow. Mr Aa said they decided to have two walkways, with seats accessible from either walkway. “Vessels of this size usually have three walkways, but we wanted to use the space as efficiently as possible,” Mr Aa said.
Small improvements were also made regarding people flow compared to Vision of the Fjords. These include: Future of the Fjords allows passengers to move from the main deck to the roof of the vessel without using stairs, via ramps built into the structure. Mr Aa said “This is not only good for people in wheelchairs but really good for everyone, they can walk round and easily explore the vessel.” The different levels also mean there is easily available front-row viewing space.
In Vision of the Fjords, the anchor is placed in the front of the vessel. In Future of the Fjords, this is moved to the back of the vessel so there is more space in the front for passengers to view scenery.
The kiosk and kitchen areas have also been reorganised for better logistics.
Other changes include details in the bathrooms. “To make it a bit more interesting, instead of just white walls, we used the same panels as those on the tables to create a link between the bathroom and the rest of the interior design,” explained Mr Aa.
The other change involved creating edges on table tops to stop cups and crockery flipping over.
Windows are crucial to the design because passengers want to sightsee. “We wanted to make large windows, and we put them in every possible place,” said Mr Aa. Because the windows are so large they needed to be hardened in ovens, to strengthen them.
The windows have a black tint on the outside. “This is important for efficiency as it reduces the heat inside, so you don’t use a lot of energy to cool the inside down and it provides some shade.” There is also a UV filter on the windows, reducing the heat even further.
The colours used in the interior design were also crucial. Mr Sandvik commented “I was very involved in design process, I come from the cruise industry, so was able to apply my knowledge [about design] gained there. We went into the details in the colour scheme.”
Mr Aa said “We made it little bit darker than normal interiors as then passengers can focus on the view out of the window with nothing distracting them. We also created matt surfaces to reduce visual noise to focus on the view.”
The shipyard also used colour to create a clear contrast to highlight walkways for people with visual disabilities.
This area shows another small change compared to Vision of the Fjords: “We brought in more contrast in colours,” said Mr Sandvik. “The light colours are lighter and the dark darker to create a more cosy and warm look.”
Something that particularly stands out and is unusual when it comes to design is the Power Dock. Mr Aa explained the focus was on creating a nice design for this too. “We wanted to make it look like an accessory to the ferry, so used rounded corners and white surfaces [to go with the look of the ferry].”
By using these small tweaks, Mr Aa said the Power Dock made Vision of the Fjords “more present”, as it reminded people of the ferry when they saw the Power Dock.
As Mr Aa summed up, Future of the Fjords has reached a “gold standard in sight-seeing design”.