During Cruise Ship Interiors Design Expo Europe 2021, visitors eagerly gathered for the much anticipated Cruise Conversations Live conference. Over two days, 20+ industry-acclaimed speakers representing the world’s largest cruise lines, design firms, suppliers and more weighed in on the latest trends and developments in cruise interiors.

Over the course of five inspirational conference sessions, audiences gained an insight into the cruise interiors industry’s hottest topics. These ranged from sustainability to expedition cruising. In this article, we have curated our top key takeaways from Cruise Conversations Live.

1. Guests want more variety of choice

On day one of CSIE 2021, Cruise Conversations Live opened with the keynote, ‘Digital Leadership: Trends Forecasting’. Cruise design experts from Independent Maritime Advisors, SMC Design, YSA Design, and dSign Vertti Kivi & Co predicted upcoming trends for the industry. One of the key points highlighted in this session was that guests are expecting to have more options.

As the cruise passenger base grows, Andy Yuill (SMC Design) discussed how it is important for cruise lines to offer more variety. He explained that new cruise types, vessels, and locations can help them appeal to different demographics. When considering how this can impact cruise design, the panel explored the importance of also introducing more multipurpose spaces. These can accommodate many different functions for guests. For example, more people are choosing to travel and work remotely. Therefore, cruise lines can offer spaces in which guests can both live and work. The panel also shared how cruise lines can utilise areas that are seldom used during the day, allowing them to take on a different function. This allows for a wider range of onboard activities.

The panel of ‘Digital Leadership: Trends Forecasting’ predicted that cruisegoers want more options

Cruise lines and designers must also consider what drives consumers’ decisions. Anne Mari Gullikstad (YSA Design) highlighted how more holidaygoers are driven by sustainability in their decisions. Therefore, cruise lines and designers must consider the materials and products they are using.

“The singular word from today is, we can see in the future further choice. Choice through destinations, choice through the experiences, choice through you’re able as an individual to make a conscious choice about who you want to travel with because they’re doing more for the planet.”

David McCarthy, Sr. Director, Newbuilding Owner Supply & Logistic, Independent Maritime Advisors

2. When it comes to sustainability, the entire lifecycle matters

When designing spaces on cruise ships, particularly cabins, designers need to be considering the sustainability of the products used. This was explored in ‘Responsible Cabin Design’, where speakers representing Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, Meyer Werft, Holland America Group serving Princess Cruises, and Dansk Wilton all weighed in on the topic. This variety of speakers all agreed on one thing: that it is key for companies at all stages of the design cycle to consider the longevity of products and materials used in cabin design, as well as their end of life.

“We need to think about the entire lifecycle of a product, and not only the manufacturing process, but also what is the end of life of that product, and how that responsibility is extended as well, not only to the users and owners, but also to the consumers and how they use the products.”

Ana Quintas, Lead Built Environment EMEA, Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute

This is where the circular product lifecycle comes into play. Søren Sonne (Dansk Wilton) explained how as a carpet manufacturer, it is important to not only create sustainable products using sustainable materials and methods, but to also consider how these can be recycled. He shared one of the company sayings, to ‘design for disassembly’. Søren explained how this has been achieved through partnerships with other suppliers, including Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Institute, to recycle carpets into new materials, including signage.

3. Community should be at the heart of expedition cruise ship design

Day two of CSIE 2021 commenced with ‘Spotlight on Smaller Ships: Interior Design on Expedition Vessels’. In this session, Anu Shaw (Kudos Dsign), Fredrik Johansson (Tillberg Design of Sweden), and David Sagrista (Mystic Cruises), explored the planning of expedition vessels, and some of the challenges that come with designing for a smaller ship. Expedition cruises have a different focus from other types of cruising. Learning, connecting with destinations, exploring and having adventures, as well as building relationships, are at the heart of expedition cruising. This must be reflected in the design of onboard spaces, the panel shared.

One key area where designers need to create a warm sense of community on board is in the dining space. David Sagrista (Mystic Cruises) explained that there is usually only one restaurant on board. This becomes a key space for guests to socialise and build relationships, and should be designed for that.

“We find that the social patterns are somewhat different on the smaller expedition ships and smaller ships in general, especially the expedition ships. There’s a tendency that in the dining areas during the first few days most people want two seats at a table for a couple, and then as the journey carries on, they start socialising more and more and put tables together, and so there’s a need for flexibility in the dining arrangements.”

Fredrik Johansson, Partner and Executive Director, Tillberg Design of Sweden

4. Accessibility must become a priority in cruise design

In ‘Creating a Cruise Experience That is Accessible to All’, our panel of cruise experts representing Holland America Group serving Princess Cruises, SMC Design, Carnival UK, and MJM Group, explored the ways in which cruise lines can better accommodate disabled passengers. Audiences came away with the understanding that while there is already a lot of discussion around wheelchair access on cruise ships, there is a lot more to be done. Christina Budd (Carnival UK) described the many ways in which cruise lines can cater to a variety of disabilities. This included braille on the handrails for partially sighted guests. But why should this be a great consideration? Well, the panel argued that by not catering to these needs, the industry is missing out on a huge demographic!

The panel of ‘Creating a Cruise Experience That is Accessible to All’ explored the many different ways cruise lines can design for different disabilities

“We are moving forward as a society where we are being more considerate. Considerate for the environment, considerate for people’s gender preferences, considerate for disability, and it’s really coming to the forefront of the media now, and I think if the designers and the brands take all this on board and it becomes an organic part of their process, we will eventually come out of the end with projects that are naturally accessible because we’re just changing the way that we think about things.”

Andrew Brown, Director, SMC Design

Eager to catch the next Cruise Conversations Live? Find out more about the next Cruise Ship Interiors Design Expo Europe event here.