The expedition cruise market continued to expand in 2023, with four vessels debuting: SH Diana, Scenic Eclipse II, Ocean Albatros and Seabourn Pursuit. All of these ships are the latest iteration of their class. As a result, these vessels offer features that improve upon their sister ships, including upgraded tenders and all-new public spaces.

Although each of the expedition cruise ships take a different approach to modern expedition cruising, cruise interior enthusiasts will spot several trends found across the vessels. Comfort is king with ships including SH Diana and Ocean Albatros promising a hotel-like experience combined with the adventure of expedition travel. Luxury cruise line Seabourn infuses every element of their interiors with elegance, including the usually highly functional mudroom.
Another trend to watch is ‘vintage modern’, with interiors harking back to mid-century modern influences and the trappings of original exploration vessels. The latter is expressed with classic materials including leather, and heritage patterns such as tartans.

SH Diana – Swan Hellenic

SH Diana is the third – and largest – ship in expedition cruise line Swan Hellenic’s fleet. Cruise interior design firm Tillberg Design of Sweden has worked on all of the cruise line’s Vega-class expedition cruise vessels. The cruise ship interiors follow a fresh and airy Scandi-design that reflects the ship’s natural surrounds. The design directs guests’ attention to the stunning views of their far-flung destinations, in line with the company’s mantra to ‘see what others don’t’, through features such as the panoramic sauna and infinity pool.

The latest vessel from Swan Hellenic is distinguished from her sister vessels by a dedicated Card Room, an all-new Private Dining Room and tenders, which replace the customary expedition Zodiacs. Outdoor spaces on expedition ships often experience restricted usage due to their chilly, often polar destinations. SH Diana features heated cubbies embedded in the outdoor space, allowing guests to defy the elements and enjoy the view. Other outdoor features include the Pool Bar & Grill. This totally al fresco venue offers BBQ food and ‘handcrafted cocktails’ and leads out from the indoor dining venue Club Lounge.

Scenic Eclipse II, Scenic Cruises

Scenic Eclipse II is the second discovery yacht launched by Scenic Cruises. Whilst originally planned with identical interiors to her sister ship, Scenic Eclipse II launched with stunning new spaces that build on the original vessel’s existing designs.

The vessel’s designer, Karen Moroney, Project Director of Design at Scenic Group, placed a particular emphasis on wellness. Larger than on board Scenic Eclipse, the upgraded Senses Spa is an expansive space featuring a yoga studio, gym, salon, saunas and expanded steam rooms that accommodate aromatherapy. Additionally, guests can enjoy an integrated ice fountain and a custom salt therapy lounge with heated beds.

Scenic Eclipse II boasts an expansive onboard spa

Among the ship’s new additions is the Chef’s Garden at Epicure. This immersive dining experience and presentation area was built for hosting culinary masterclasses. The space also serves as a garden for microgreens.

Exploration and immersion are at the heart of the vessel’s designs, with Scenic Eclipse II offering an expansive Sky Deck for soaking in the views. This area features the newly launched Sky Bar, offering indoor and outdoor seating, six private cabanas, and the large, oval-shaped Vitality Pool.

Ocean Albatros – Albatros Expeditions

Sunstone took delivery of the sixth of its planned seven Infinity Class expedition vessels, Ocean Albatros, in 2023. The polar code 6 vessel has interiors designed by Tomas Tillberg Design and is chartered year-round by Albatros Expeditions.

While the Jens Munk Restaurant and speciality Fridtjof Nansen Restaurant share a colour palette of crisp, refined greys and blues and gentle neutrals, they represent the two ends of the modern classic spectrum. The Jens Munk Restaurant contains many of the hallmarks of the classic cruise dining area, with a modern twist. Bubble light chandeliers and edison-style bulbs fill the space with warm yellow light. Clean wood-look panels partition the room, while the large abstract carpet adds bold but not overwhelming colour. Smooth tri-colour pendant lights are suspended over the intimate tables in the Fridtjof Nansen restaurant. The restaurant dispenses with round, covered tables in favour of laminated wood tables and partial banquet seating.

The palette is pared all the way back to neutrals, now punctuated with rich brown leather detail, in the Knud Rasmussen Observation Lounge. The ceiling recesses in asymmetrical mid-century shapes above the bar and seating areas.

Seabourn Pursuit – Seabourn

Luxury cruise line Seabourn has continued its expansion into the expedition market with its second expedition ship, Seabourn Pursuit. The ultra-luxury interiors were designed by Tihany Design and feature luxe touches amidst design that pays homage to classic exploration.
Visitors to the Expedition Lounge will experience adventure through the ages; vitrine cabinets display intricate arctic tools while touchscreens display photos, navigational charts, weather charts and maps.

seabourn venture expedition lounge
Seabourn Pursuit’s Expedition Lounge takes guests on an adventure through the ages

Even the ship’s utilitarian area, such as the mudroom, now named The Landing Zone, has been reimagined by Tihany Design. The key material requirement of the space remains durability, with a palette of floor tiles, wood and metal details with rivet accents. This has been elevated into a sleek modern design, including an orange highlight which evokes the crew’s uniforms.

Tihany Design has reimagined The Landing Zone with a more sleek, modern design

The warmth and elegance felt throughout the interior design of Seabourn Pursuit blossoms into full-throated colour in the Constellation Lounge. The lounge is set on the top deck and offers 270-degree views. The celestial theme is picked out in eye-catching details, such as the constellation-patterned royal blue carpet and intricate stone floors. Gold-topped banquettes are furnished in red velvet and faced by red sling-back chairs.

Seabourn Pursuit blossoms into full-throated colour in the Constellation Lounge

Want to stay up to date with the latest industry news and trends? Cruise Ship Interiors Design Expo Europe unites the entire cruise interiors community for two days of networking, knowledge sharing and product sourcing. Find out more about the next event here.