The refit market is booming, while a new LED data solution and the boost is expedition cruising are heling to shape passenger ship interior trends
The growth in LED lighting, expedition cruising and the increased momentum within the ferry and cruise refit market are having an impact on ships’ interior design technology.
Use of LED lighting on cruise ships has become a major trend – and for the first time operators will be able to measure their return on investment (ROI) thanks to New York-based lighting design company MRD.
Currently, when turnkey projects are priced up, forecasts of the savings that LED will make are given. Until now it was impossible to give a definite figure because the dimming system which powers the LED lighting is fed from a substation which also feeds power for many other hotel areas, MRD chief executive Michael Riotto explained.
MRD developed and engineered a system solution and teamed up with Carnival last year to run a pilot project testing how much energy the lighting is consuming in the public areas. The project is currently in phase one. Mr Riotto explained that they are taking the data collected from the lighting and uploading it to custom-designed MRD software. “We will be able to calculate exactly how much a kilowatt will cost them during specific conditions and at specific times of the day. This will help guide the owner to fine-tune their facilities while not compromising the guest experience. Furthermore, it provides accurate data of which the owner can measure the return on investment,” said Mr Riotto.
“This is the first time in the industry that data is being used to accurately measure the lighting output for any area on board. It’s a gamechanger as it is the first time that we can tell a customer how much they can save. My goal is get this on every cruise ship,” said Mr Riotto.
“It’s a gamechanger as it is the first time that we can tell a customer how much they can save. My goal is get this on every cruise ship” Michael Riotto (MRD)
Elsewhere, expedition cruise is a rapidly expanding area of the cruise sector which is having a knock-on effect on the interiors side. Tomas Tillberg Designs has clinched the contract to design the hotel side of SunStone Ships’ new chartered expedition cruise ships. Speaking about what he was considering when it came to the design, chief executive Tomas Tillberg said: “All of Sunstone Ships’ newbuilds are expedition vessels. So first it is important to understand how such a vessel operates and the different expectations of the passengers on their voyages.”
He added that the designs are going to be “carefully adapted” to the brand identity of the charterer for each vessel. “For us as designers that is an inspiring task as we need to be very sensitive to the needs of each of these firms,” he explained. The fact the company have worked with several of them before helps a great deal, but there is always the “quest for pushing the envelope”.
Tomas Tillberg has had a successful relationship with Sunstone Ships for the last 10 years. “During this time, we have designed practically every imaginable space on board their many ships,” Mr Tillberg said.
Recent projects include other expedition ships, including the designs for Lindblad Expeditions’ two newbuilds. “They are built and outfitted here in the US which is exciting and we really hope that it will lead to more cruise vessels being built here,” said Mr Tillberg.
The company has also designed and rebranded two expedition ships for Celebrity Cruises. Another project that is being completed involves two “substantial” design tasks for Carnival Cruise Lines and it is currently working with RCCL.
Mr Tillberg singled out some of the dominant trends within the hotel cruise sector: In the past cruise ship design was more of a niche activity and very focused on the ship experience in itself, the voyage and the destination. But now the “really large vessels today have become destinations in themselves, with designs that look more and more like similar venues on land”. There are town squares, magnificent arcades, extensive retail areas, large water parks, “more and more beautiful and diverse restaurants, bars and show lounges that compete with the best in Las Vegas”.
Another trend is the expedition cruises where the original “ship feel” is much more apparent and desired and exotic destinations are really what the passenger is looking for.
Mr Tillberg summed up: “These trends will continue to evolve as there is no lack of creativity in our business. New materials, changing expectations and better-defined marketing will make sure there will be exciting new opportunities.”
Another trend impacting the design of cruise ship interiors are growing geographical markets. “Cruise shipping in Asia is in its infancy and we will see products there that are different and new and tailored to the passengers in that rapidly changing part of the world,” Mr Tillberg said, noting that “new cruise lines will find markets that we have not even thought of today”.
Asked about the impact of technology on design, the answer is wide-ranging: New materials, electronics, wireless communication, computer aided design, the internet, skype, social networks, global connectivity, the ability to source materials, ideas and concepts on the internet, new computer technology, rapidly advancing digital technologies - “all these things and many others that are part of our world today, get integrated and used in designs”.
Meanwhile, the ferry and cruise refurbishment sector is growing strongly with one of the major trends being more sophisticated and advanced interior design.
During a six-week refurbishment in Cadiz, marine refurbishment specialist Trimline transformed the interior of Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas into Thomson Cruises’ newest ship TUI Discovery 2, sister ship to TUI Discovery, which Trimline transformed last year.
The 200-strong team refurbished the 1,832-passenger ship in a similar way to TUI Discovery with several areas being transformed, including the Live Room entertainment space, which is the ship’s focal hub.
Trimline cruise key account manager Simon Dawkins said: “Cruise operators are looking to create memorable spaces that will stand out from other ships.”
He said the TUI Discovery 2 Live Room did just that. It was previously split into two parts so Trimline created an open space and then installed new bulkheads, deck heads, raised deck and stage areas, and a custom-built bar. A bespoke acoustic floating deck was installed along with sound dampening to reduce noise levels to cabins situated directly below.
Trimline fitted contemporary laminate pink and blue bulkheads with feature ceiling discs and LED lighting, including a programmable system for dimming and changeable colours to suit the requirements of the onboard entertainers.
Trimline also focuses on the ferry refurbishment market, and its ferry key account manager Neil Quinlan highlighted how the trend for the growing numbers of cruise ships to be upgraded and modernised has had a knock-on effect on the interiors of ferries. “Ferries used to be fairly utilitarian and until recently have not kept up with market trends. Many more people are travelling on cruise ships so the knock-on effect is that ferries are upgrading to meet the greater expectations of their customers.”
While energy efficiency is a major focus for the cruise and ferry industry, the use of lighter materials in a refit – on a cruise ship – has not quite arrived yet. “We are quite often asked for lighter materials but these are not competitive yet, in terms of the amount they cost compared to what they save in weight,” Mr Dawkins said. The exception is the river cruise sector, which is focused on lighter materials as it is “all about the draught in terms of how they far they travel up the river”.
One growing trend for Trimline is the global nature of the refits they are carrying out, from Eastern Europe to America and Australia. It is drawing a labour pool from all over the world and partnering with local companies to reduce logistics costs and manufacture locally.