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Grand Designs: The most impressive designs on modern cruise ships


From underwater lounges to plant rooms, we take a look at the most impressive designs on modern cruise ships. As with anything in the fashion industry, cruise ship design is subject to trends and vogues relating to interior décor, furnishings and drapes. You could date a ship, as you could a hotel or private home, by its colour schemes (avocado bathroom suite anyone?). These are some of the incredible designs on board today's modern cruise ships.

Nowadays what we see dominating design plans is something of a neutral palette which can be used as a backdrop for scene setting. The powerful driving factor in force here relates to sustainability, so much so that we have recently seen the launch of the Sustainable Maritime Interiors Declaration (SMI), a collaborative initiative of designers and cruise lines, garnering support from an extensive range of stakeholders, and aiming to reflect land-based construction equivalents.

The idea is to ensure that sustainability sits alongside other key considerations like safety, aesthetics, price and function in the decision-making process.

Oceania: Vista

Oceania's new Vista shows an extensive use of texture above colour to create light-filled interiors, signature notes of silver and gold and lots of natural textiles, woods and so forth, with alcoves, different ceiling heights and huge windows to create a flowing, almost organic feel to the public rooms.

Celebrity: Edge class ships

At Celebrity, the stylish Edge class ships featured rooms designed by some extraordinary stylists. Using a neutral palette, lighting is key to change the mood through the day, and (environmentally friendly) LED lighting plays a significant part in modern cruise ship design. Spaces such as Eden - the room that lives, with its growing plants and organic seating areas - offer a totally different guest experience in the morning (chill), the afternoon (play), and the evening (sin).

The other focus is on using the bare bones of the ship to create extraordinary art installations or working on practical functions (such as the Magic Carpet whose primary function is to achieve speedy disembarkation by tender) to create something completely different.

Silversea: Silver Nova

Natural light is everything, and we welcome a new focus on connecting the interior of the ship with the sea. It sounds like a bit of a no-brainer, but for far too long cruise ship spaces have been inward facing, ignoring the prime USP of cruising - the extraordinary views. Silversea's Silver Nova's pool deck with its asymmetrical design has been designed specifically to open up amazing vistas, whether of the ocean or a beautiful anchorage in some tiny bay.

Ponant: Explorer ships & Le Commandant Charcot

Meanwhile Ponant's Explorer ships feature the Blue Eye, an underwater lounge allowing guests to get a feel for what is going on beneath the surface of the ocean as well as above. With their 'green ship' focus, the Ponant vessels feature extensive use of natural materials such as rope, rattan, hessian, linen and bamboo for a fresh look throughout, and the eco-friendly luxury hybrid icebreaker Le Commandant Charcot makes its outdoor space even more appealing in polar regions by using energy from the ship's exhaust fumes to heat the outdoor benches.

The use of natural materials can be challenging for ship interior designers as they are restricted by safety requirements, not to mention the need for durability.

But planning software helps with the most efficient use of materials - carpeting for example - whilst inbuilt into every project is consideration of how each feature can be refreshed and updated during the life of the ship, and what the re-use and re- cycling opportunities might be at the end of their lifespan.

The muted palette that arises from using natural dyes can serve as a backdrop to signature splashes of colour achieved through cushions, paintings or objets d'art.

Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising. Most recently she's cruised on Windstar and has also sailed with Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal, SeaDream, Ponant, AmaWaterways and Aqua Expeditions. Her favourite destination is the Galapagos however she's also enjoyed cruises in the Mediterranean, Danube, Middle East, East Africa & Indian Ocean, Brahmaputra, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Mekong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Caribbean and the Arctic. When she’s not travelling she loves reading, food and wine.

More about Edwina

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