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Cruise Ship Interiors: Pushing The Boundaries

Booming demand for luxury passenger travel in the cruise industry during the past decade has increased commissions for new build and retrofitted vessels, allowing designers to take interiors to new levels of creativity and appeal. Approximately 26 cruise ships are on order at shipyards for delivery by the year 2003, with an estimated 11 ships to be brought into service this year, for a total of 132 cruising the waterways. The number of cruise ship passengers has doubled since 1990; approximately nine million travel annually around the world.

The importance of raising quality standards and aesthetics while striving to make cruising more affordable is crucial to continuing market growth for the cruise lines. Established cruise lines are making record investments in their fleets, while newcomers are earning niches in the industry. The competition among operators is primarily focused on the actual vessels and their amenities, and is often most appreciable in the ship's interior design.

Passengers, who are the real clients of the interior designer, view the ship as their traveling accommodations, retreat for dining, entertainment, recreation, relaxation and nightlife all rolled into one well-planned vessel. The popularity of cruising is obviously the hassle-free, responsibility-free convenience of traveling in pampered style to exotic places. Since the passengers are onboard a significant portion of time, the ship's aesthetics are paramount to travelers, and hence to ship owners.

The trend in new builds is definitely for larger vessels to accommodate more passengers and crew and to provide higher quality and more luxury.

The biggest ship now carries 2,700 passengers, and it is common these days for ships to offer more than 800 staterooms. These large vessels come with three or more dining areas, nightclubs, swimming and sporting pavilions, and usually grand atriums — they are virtual traveling resorts more interiors to work with, yet more choices with space and materials, and more creative opportunities.

As new designs awe passengers, interior designers are continuously challenged to create more innovative compositions and elements. The trend for retrofitted cruise ships is to upgrade interiors closer to the standards the public has come to expect, which can be challenging due to a particular ship's inherent limitations. Maritime Services Corp. (MSC) recently completed the retrofit of the casino on board Carnival's Holiday, with only two weeks to change out almost all the finish materials, including carpet, wallcovering and lighting. Time limitations narrowed down the scope of work.

MSC had a choice of either removing or redesigning existing "cones"




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