The need to reduce weight and meet ever-shorter deadlines has led to innovation among cruise ship interiors outfitters and turnkey providers
A booming cruise ship orderbook and strong refurbishment trend means interior turnkey providers and outfitters are busier than ever and applying innovation to help the cruise interior design sector.
Marine Interiors is juggling many balls – it has set up a new joint venture, is launching a bulk head panel it says is the lightest in the industry and on top of this, is expected to record revenue of €200M (US$228M) this year. This is a huge contrast to when former company Santarossa was acquired by Fincantieri in 2015 in chapter 11with revenue of €30M.
Fincantieri acquired Santarossa to enrich Fincantieri Group’s overall product portfolio, integrating cabin design and production into its design and construction flow. Marine Interiors chief executive Gabriele Cafaro told Passenger Ship Interiors & Refurbishment “We took over the company in an emergency situation, have increased revenue seven times and have increased the product portfolio.”
The company’s portfolio for 2018 is impressive – it has delivered seven newbuildings from five different yards to six different cruise brands. The work included: 12,000 cabins, 6,000 bathrooms and almost 30,000 m2 of public areas. The company also refurbished four cruise ships.
A complete package
The work this year included Ponant’s Le Laperouse and Le Lyrial, built by Fincantieri’s subsidiary Vard shipyard in Norway. These projects are of great significance as for the first time Marine Interiors carried out the complete accommodation package, involving engineering and integration of the whole hotel side, from cabins and bathrooms to public areas, galleys, provisions and laundry.
Mr Cafaro said “Vard used to do offshore work, so is not used to the hotel part of a cruise vessel. They did not have the expertise to integrate engineering and project management of the hotel part so they relied on us to complete the hotel supply side.”
This is just a starting point for Marine Interiors. “We want to do more of this, and now we have delivered the first two vessels, my intention is to further enlarge the product portfolio so that we can deliver the complete accommodation package. We want to do this through joint ventures.”
To this end, Marine Interiors established a joint venture with private shareholders Seanergy in 2018 that already has orders worth €100M. Mr Cafaro said “This will enlarge our product portfolio and enable us to install a wider range of products. It will allow us to take advantage of economies of scale when ordering supplies.”
The company is also moving forward in another area. “We will start a new line at our headquarters for the production of bulk head panels for cabins that will automate the process and more importantly, enable product innovation as these will be the lightest on the market. The new panels will offer up to a 20% reduction in weight compared to Marine Interiors’ current panels due to a lighter insulation material.
“With the weight saved, the owner could, roughly, add 20% more cabins at the same performance,” Mr Cafaro said. The company expects to start installing these panels by June next year.
Marine Interiors has certainly come a long way since it was first established in 2015, from boosting revenue seven times over, to establishing a joint venture and increasing its product portfolio and services.
Standardising fleet design
The boom in cruise ship refurbishment shows no sign of decreasing as operators aim to standardise their fleet and bring their older ships up to match the latest décor and trends of their newbuilds.
Trimline key account manager Simon Dawkins said cruise operators were standardising their public areas. “As new ships are delivered, they want to replicate the public areas found in these across the fleet. They want ships to all be up to the same standard,” explained Mr Dawkins. He singled out an example – when Trimline worked on Mariner of the Seas, one of the tasks was to replace the current solarium with a replica that has been added to its newbuilds.
Another example is the refit Trimline carried out on the ultra-luxury Seabourn Quest. One of the refits included upgrading the elevators to bring them to the same standards as the Seabourn Encore.
“They have been made much more visually impressive, with fabric behind the glass, glossy deckheads, use of hidden LED lighting to illuminate,” he explained. This contrasts with the previous elevators, which used spotlights and had plainer deckheads.
Another recent project was P&O Australia’s Pacific Aria where Trimline was called upon to improve both public and crew areas.
“We upgraded the crew areas on board – highlighting a trend. The perception before was the crew areas were very industrial,” he said. “But now a lot of owners are re-designing the crew areas, making them nicer living spaces, helping with crew retention.”
Weight savings and competitive prices are a driving factor behind materials chosen. Mr Dawkins said cruise operators were interested in lighter materials that replicated heavier, more expensive ones. “We have been using some very thin porcelain tiles in some bathrooms and bars. They look like marble, but they are a quarter of the price; they are also lighter and less porous. Operators can get an expensive look without a big cost and can save weight.”
Weight is something Trimline has been focusing on as it continues to develop composite lightweight cabins with specialist PE Composites (PEC). Benefits of using this over a traditional steel structure include increased number of cabins, more energy efficiency and lower emissions. It has now secured further cofunding from the UK’s Innovation Agency, Innovate UK, to productionise and certify the lightweight cabin. During the next phase, PEC and Trimline will focus on reducing the cabin production costs and developing a pilot production plant capable of making several hundred cabins per year.
Sustainability and products that last longer are also important to source. Mr Dawkins said “Cruise ship operators want to use materials that last longer. For example, using wood effect ceramic tiles rather than real timber, which also reduces the fire risk of the area.”
He singled out an example: Trimline changed the dance floor of Symphony of the Seas from traditional varnish to treated resin to make it last longer and need less maintenance.
Mr Dawkins summed up “Better technology means that the ships being built are lasting for longer. This leads to a greater need for interior upgrades and it can only be a growth area.”
Global Marine & Hotel Interiors president Anna Jenei has seen trends change over the years when it comes to cruise ship carpet design.
She set up the company in 2000, following a career steeped in cruise ship operations and design, after working in Princess Cruises for 13 years; seven of those years in the design department. Global Marine & Hotel Interiors arranges the fitting and installation of carpets and flooring for cruise ships, procuring the installation supplies (such as adhesives), manages projects and offers value-added services such as quantifying materials to ensure there are no issues of oversupply.
While the company has worked on newbuilds, it predominantly works on refurbishment, including many ships for Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Pullmantur, Princess Cruises, TUI and Holland America. Recent projects include Norwegian Breakaway, where Global Marine Interiors installed 40,000 m2 of carpet in a two-week drydock in May this year. A recently completed project was Ruby Princess, involving carpeting the corridors and cabins. Its next project will be Oceania Insignia where the vessel will be renovated, and all areas will receive new carpet.
Ms Jenei said “We are a global company that carries out jobs all over the world, and we are always looking for ways to control cost – that is everyone’s issue. We can add value here by sourcing goods and installation supplies in many places.”
As drydocks become increasingly short, scheduling and planning refurbishment jobs is ever-more important. “We carry out project team co-ordination and take care of where materials should be loaded, thereby keeping the job moving.”
Commenting on trends, Ms Jenei said “There has been a big innovation in the patterns and designs of cruise ship carpets. In the past they were more traditional and now cruise lines are adopting modern carpets and using a lot of designs like stripes, with bolder colours and more detailed patterns.”