Interiors have always been essential to the river cruise product, but lines are taking things up a gear as they look to future-proof their fleets while simultaneously attracting a new generation of customers. This focus comes at a time of rapid industry expansion – growth currently stands at 10% year-on-year and in 2020, 16 brand new river ships will join the waterways – marking immense opportunity for designers, suppliers and contractors.
Given the diversity of destinations and itineraries, it’s interesting to watch trends ripple across the river market. A sparing of space and the introduction of plush furnishings continue to dominate, with a toning down of shades and a ramping up of contemporary style.
With that in mind, the CLIA 2019 River Cruise Conference offered an opportunity to visit five distinctly different ships: Amadeus Silver III, CroisiEurope Douce France, AmaKristina, A-ROSA Flora and Crystal Bach.
Amadeus Silver III is a step into luxury; a sense expanse amid the accents of wood, dusky palettes and rich fabrics. Sister ship to the award-winning Amadeus Silver and Amadeus Silver II vessels, Amadeus Silver III was commissioned by the renowned De Hoop shipyard in Lobith, Holland. Every element of the ship is spacious – the suites and staterooms, decked in cream and royal blue, all feature a walk-in wardrobe. In the public areas, deep grey lounge chairs are positioned around low wooden tables, ideal for a convivial atmosphere and natural conversation. The decorative elements are subtle and tasteful, and contribute to an overall sense of indulgence.
With no less considered design is CroisiEurope Douce France. Here, more than anywhere else, minimalism takes hold. The staterooms are gleaming white, helped along by generous lighting, with touches of sky blue and mustard to add interest. In every stateroom, the bed faces the floor-to-ceiling or large picture window, ensuring that guests wake up to an unbeatable view during their cruise. Douce France is a four-star premium ship, and it shows in the service and menus – superb French fare and regional dishes complement its destinations.
Elsewhere, AmaWaterways’ AmaKristina is among the most luxurious river ships out there – sumptuous red, gold and black carpet leads guests to their staterooms and gives the interiors a real depth. Woodland motifs feature throughout the ship – on the bed scarf covered in attractive leaf print, in the abstract artwork done in complementary colours, and in the light fixtures along the corridors that give the impression of twisted, distorted branches. The light filters through beautifully. Yet while AmaWaterways has gone with a neutral and natural palette for this ship, there are touches of colour to be found. In the lounge area, plush red sofas sit opposite baby blue couches, and nestled into corners are rainbow-striped settees.
The A-ROSA Flora is perhaps the exception to the minimalist trend. The line, which largely caters to the German market but is making inroads in the UK, favours colour more so than the others. It’s perhaps in the name – the stateroom carpets are a deep rose red, and there are touches of green throughout. Together, they bring to mind the flower for which the line is named. Flora is among the more traditionally decorated ships, with canopies above the beds, light-wood accents on the wardrobes and dressing tables, and white interior doors. The ship is well-equipped, with a gym, spa and sauna, the latter of which boasts large, one-way windows so cruisers enjoy still enjoy the view.
It’s a contrast to Crystal Bach, considered by many as the pinnacle in river cruise luxury. It offers guests the highest staff-to-guest ratio of all European river cruise lines, as well as the largest suites – and all with butler service. Ulrike Nehls, Crystal’s operations manager for destination experience, says the interiors are “understated, neutral and elegant…it’s a classic style with clean lines”. The staterooms follow this style, with greys, forest greens and subtle patterns and detailing adding interest to the space.
The Palm Court, the ship’s bar and lounge, is bathed in natural light thanks to glass ceiling panels, making it a pleasant place to spend an afternoon. One deck down, the restaurant is a sophisticated space of deep turquoise chairs, floor-to-ceiling windows and unique design pieces; on the back wall, bowl-shaped, glittering pieces are arranged in a wave stretching its breadth. The food area itself is decked out in marble with gold accents – very of its time and target market, and incredibly pleasing to the eye.
With CLIA looking ahead to 2020, those with an eye for design would do well to look out for the styles that live on in the next generation of river cruise ships. Based on the current vessels, it seems likely that minimal furnishings complemented by richness of colours, textures and fittings will continue to reign supreme.
Text by Emily Eastman, Photography by Steve Dunlop.
Are you interested in the river cruise interiors industry? Register to attend Cruise Ship Interiors Expo Europe and attend our not-to-be-missed two day conference and 160-exhibitor show floor.