Inspired by Nature: Expedition Cruise Interiors - Cruise Ship Interiors Expo Europe

Inspired by Nature: Expedition Cruise Interiors

Embarking on an expedition cruise is the closest you can get to nature on a cruise ship. Voyages on the most innovative new cruise ships take explorers to the farthest reaches of the globe, from the Galapagos to the Antarctic. These destinations can aid the cruise interior designer in their creative choices, forming a ‘natural mood board’ for the designer to use. Famous examples of ‘biomimicry’ or ‘biomimetic design’ include the Shinkansen bullet train, inspired by the beak of a Kingfisher; Velcro, inspired by the way burs stuck to the hair of the designers’ dog; and anti-drag materials inspired by shark skin. So how have interior designers in the cruise industry used the natural world in their works? Below we take a look at some examples of how expedition cruise interiors have been inspired by nature…

Silversea Silver Origin

The new Silver Origin from Silversea was designed with the Galapagos in mind. Designed by GEM Design, headed up by Cruise Ship Interiors Award winner Giacomo Mortola, and HBA Miami, Silver Origin combines local knowledge with luxury to create the cruise lines’ first ever destination-specific ship.

Silversea say that Silver Origin will “take influence from the Galapagos’ unique natural environment to strengthen guests’ engagement with the destination, with each space enhancing the experience.” This is clear in the Observation Lounge, which features floor-to-ceiling windows in an effort to ‘bring the outside in’.

The Observation Lounge on Silver Origin

The Basecamp on Silver Origin, a pre-and-post-excursion lounge area, features decorative glass cabinets containing flora and fauna of the Islands, as well as a large, interactive digital wall to enhance the guest learning experience.

“Bright, colourful motifs and regional materials will accentuate the design.”

The interiors are very refined, in the understated, luxurious, Italian way the rest of the Silversea fleet is. The Explorer Lounge features an interesting slatted wood ceiling, as is popular in contemporary hospitality design.

Hapag-Lloyd Hanseatic Nature & Inspiration

Hapag-Lloyd’s two new Hanseatic ships Nature and Inspiration, named after the original 5-star Hanseatic which left the fleet in 2018, cater to a German and International crowd for worldwide expedition cruises.

Built to be a mixture between comfort and adventure, the two ships have more open deck space than any other expedition ship. Inside the ship, Hapag-Lloyd says the curved lines and natural colours of the cabins and suites are inspired by nature. This is certainly evident in the rooms on board Nature. The colour and material choices in the cabins remind one of a forest, with medium browns and pale greens; the junior suites are more ocean-centric, with a mix of blues and a seaweed-like floor covering; and the Grand Suite opts for a curved marble wall for natural elegance.

According to a Tui Group press release:

“The design concept, “inspired by nature”, reflects the expeditionary spirit and is the creative idea underpinning both ships. Nature is not only experienced outside, but also is reflected in the interior design. This comes to the fore in the choice of materials, colours and forms, as well as in the contours and lines of walls and surfaces, the lines of sight and therefore the interplay between the interiors and the world outside.”

This design concept is perhaps strongest in the restaurant on board Nature, which uses a motif akin to a leaf under a microscope as decorative dividers, ceiling lighting, and shelving. In the daytime the leaf effect is accentuated by the greens in the flooring and some of the furniture – towards the evening however, the whole restaurant is lit in an other-worldly pink hue, allowing the wooden elements in the wall covering to stand out.

Ponant Le Laperouse Blue Eye

The Blue Eye underwater multisensory lounge on Ponant’s Le Laperouse, designed by Jacques Rougerie and Flamant Interior Design, is inspired primarily by the blue whale. Jacques Rougerie is a biomimetic designer and architect specializing in underwater habitats. For The Blue Eye, the sea was both the inspiration and the centre of focus:

“This inspiration is evident in the lines of the lounge: stripes surrounding the space like whales baleens, curved seats like sea shells, smooth lines of the staircase housing designed like a caudal fin.

All focus is drawn towards the two portholes, shaped like the eye of a cetacean and looking out upon the subaquatic world.”

The underwater multisensory lounge The Blue Eye on Ponant Le Laperouse

In addition to the physical design, the space benefits from being a multi-sensory experience. Ponant enlisted the wares of contemporary composer and sound designer Michel Redolfi to develop hydrophones that transmit the natural symphony of the sea into the lounge.

“For a true multi-sensory experience, the sofas integrate some Body Listening fixtures, each discreetly vibrating in unison with the sounds of the ocean to create an underwater encounter guests can see, hear, and feel.”


It happens naturally

Biomimetic design in the cruise industry doesn’t just take place in the interiors – it’s worth mentioning a ship such as Peace Boat’s new Ecoship, inspired by the shape of a whale and led in design and technology by nature. With the cruise industry in a state of flux as it is now, we expect innovation on all sides to enhance the future of onboard design – and cruise designers and architects will be sure to always keep the organic perfection of the natural world in mind.


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