Trevor Young first joined the cruise industry in 1996. Today, as Vice President of Newbuilding and Refurbishment at MSC Cruises, he coordinates all refurbishment projects in the company’s existing fleet. He is currently coordinating the 13 newbuilding projects that are part of MSC Cruises’ fleet expansion plan. In this interview, Trevor tells us more about his current role and projects, the rising importance of space on board cruise ships, designing safer cruise ships, and what he is looking forward to at Cruise Ship Interiors Expo Europe (CSIE).
Tell us about your current role and what it entails on a day-to-day basis?
I’m the VP of Newbuilding and Refurbishment for MSC Cruises, so my role is to coordinate and be in charge of all the building of our new vessels, and also in charge of refurbishment of our existing fleet. In the newbuild program, we have about 10 ships on the books up until 2025/26.
We’re building four different classes of vessel – the Meraviglia Class; the World Class, the big one, we have the first one coming next year; the Seaside Class, we’re building the Seascape at the moment; and we also have our Explorer Journeys, which is a new class of vessel, and a new area we’re going into in the cruise industry, which is the luxury sector.
On a day-to-day basis, there’s a lot of meetings, a lot of inspections, there’s a lot of developing presentations for the board for approval on different areas we’re working on. From a newbuilding point of view there’s a lot of working with architects, with project teams, with finance people, legal people, supply departments, and on the refurbishment side we have our refurb people as well, and of course the shipyards.
There’s a huge amount of decision making, keeping everything on track and making sure there’s no stumbling blocks.
Can you tell us about a recent interesting project?
The recent delivery of MSC Seashore was a very interesting and challenging project. We finished her in the middle of covid. The shipyards closed, stopping production for 2-3 months, but continued on the design side. Everyone moved home for nearly 18 months, and the shipyards did too. Developing and building a vessel of that size – 170,000 tons – is a huge task at any stage, but to have the added complexities of having everyone working at home, production stopping, freight issues, etc – it was a very intense and challenging time.
What trends are you expecting to emerge in cruise in the coming years?
I think space is a big thing with customers today, especially with covid, people want to have that space now – that is a big challenge. Technology is hugely important in how we’re able to provide that. Space is a lot of things – space is obviously the space you have around you, but it also feeds into the technology, so you don’t have to touch things anymore.
The cruise industry has always had norovirus, which has always been a concern – now with covid, we have to start thinking in a different way to help our guests, and make the environment as safe as possible for them – whether it’s developing special filters for air conditioning, whether it’s designing locks that you don’t have to touch – so the guest doesn’t get a key, they would get a bracelet or something similar, and when they go near the door it opens.
Going to a public toilet for example – how you get in and out of the public toilet – should there be electronic doors? How do you wash your hands without contact – today you can wash and dry your hands without touching anything. To me, this is a big part of what we need to do, that’s the technical side of making guests feel more welcome.
On the other side of it, I think guests have gone a little bit back to basics. Everyone’s been at home, learning to cook and stuff like that, and things have taken a bit of a step back. People have said, ‘I like the time, I like the freedom that this has brought’ – a lot of people want to experience quality service, genuine service, quality food, and that’s where we need to use the design and the tech to help us to achieve that.
I spend a lot of time bringing people together – I get the Head of Ops, I get the galley guy, the project team, the internal architects, the external architects, the quality surveyor and so on – and get together a proposal that focuses on all of those aspects, whether it’s the cost of building, the return on investment, what it means for the guest, what sort of service they get, what sort of food they get, it has to be a holistic view before we can move forward.
In the past a lot of cruise lines had the view of – ‘[our competitor] has a Japanese restaurant, we need to have a Japanese restaurant!’ So they go and build a Japanese restaurant, but they don’t talk to the Japanese chef, they don’t talk to the food and beverage people, they don’t talk to the maître d’! So all of a sudden they’ve built something, but it’s not functional. By getting everyone together, and knowing how to ask the right questions to the right people, you’re able to then design effectively and efficiently and hit some big goals.
If you look back to Seashore, we did the new Mexican place ‘Hola Tacos’ there. It’s fantastic, hugely popular, and the guests love it. It was a huge project with a lot of people involved, and we had to bring them all together to make that work as well as it has.
Cruise Ship Interiors Expo Europe is coming up very soon – what are you most excited for about CSIE?
I think it’s going to be the first time that we’ll have been able to get together in nearly two years. I’m excited about seeing what people have done in the last two years, all of these new innovative companies, what products they’ve made. People have had a lot of time to think – I’m hoping that’s translated into some amazing ideas that we’ll be able to use.
I know with all of my staff, that when covid happened and things got shut down, it gave us time to do stuff that we wouldn’t have normally done. As cruising was shut down, and no one knew what was going on, the board and all of operations were extremely busy, so we didn’t hear from them – that gave us time to do a lot of projects that we wanted to do but didn’t have the time to – cleaning house etc. I pushed all of my guys to do that, which has been hugely beneficial. From the creative side, the architects and product designers – I assume they had extra time, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what they’ve come up with during this time, whether it’s products, services, whatever.
Cruise Ship Interiors Expo Europe is the largest event in cruise ship interiors. Learn more about this event and sign up here.