Martin Hendrata smiling at the camera in a black and white photo

MSC Cruises have a thrilling slate of upcoming newbuilds. One of the most exciting of these is the recently completed MSC World Europa. Bigger than previous MSC vessels and setting new standards in sustainability, she is billed as the ‘future of cruising’. We interviewed Martin Hendrata, Project Architect, MSC Cruises about his involvement in the ship’s design and construction. Martin worked closely with his colleague Marios Neoptolemou under the direction of Architect Director Antonio di Nenno to bring the ambitious project to realisation. During our interview, he extended his thanks to many people. These included the MSC Site Team in Saint Nazaire who helped through the building process and inspections. He shared some of the behind-the-scenes magic created by this dynamic team for unforgettable guest experiences.

‘The architecture of the ship itself has not only doubled in size but is a beautiful design.’ Not only that, he said but it features, ‘so many firsts for MSC.’ Working as a project architect, Martin said, was about more than simply thinking of the interior design, ‘it also involves artwork, catering, owners supply items.’ One thing that he believes makes MSC stand out from other cruise brands is the close involvement of the owners. Every ship reflects the vision of the owners, ‘The owners are very deeply involved in the choices for furniture, fixtures and finishes, and especially for owner supply and artwork. Our owners are very hands on in deciding what kind of ambience and architecture they want in their ship. This is what makes us different to any other brand. I like this because the family have a clear vision. They are willing to try something new.’

Multipurpose designs

One exciting new space features a new approach to multifunctional cruise design. One public area, which operates as a lecture theatre and a dancing venue introduces seating that retracts into the walls. This hi-tech innovation smoothed out the operational workflow required to maintain the multifunctional space. Martin explained how the MSC team worked closely with the shipyard to find the right supplier for this unusual request:

‘We consulted with the shipyard and ask them to help us source the correct supplier. We met with our shortlist of suppliers and asked them what effect or gadget can they produce to meet our expectations? We wanted to know how many similar projects they had done. The supplier we chose was based in France, so they were very close to the shipyard. We designed the retractable chairs and they built them accordingly. Once the product was approved by the owners, we then designed the room itself to accommodate those retractable seats.’

Innovative new cabins

World Europa also sees the introduction of a new cabin class to the MSC brand. The new Aurea Class cabins offer a step up from the standard cabin experience: they feature colourful accents within the room and a new balcony concept for MSC. The window can be opened in a way that creates an outside-in space for the cabin, providing the balcony experience for the guest without the structural requirements of a balcony. Martin said, ‘We wanted to show that you don’t have to have an old-fashioned separation between indoor and outdoor.’

Multisensory experiences

Other exciting experiential design elements have been brought into onboard retail at the Coffee Emporium. This space has been designed to be more than simply a coffee shop. MSC has partnered with a leading coffee brand to offer far beyond the usual coffee fare. Not only will guests be able to enjoy coffee prepared in styles from around the world but they will be able to take part in a range of immersive experiences. Coffee lovers can try out the sensory coffee units, smelling the fragrance of the different coffee beans. Another must-try will be the coffee roasting corner where guests can witness the coffee being roasted in front of them.

As one of the people charged with bringing these new concepts to life, Martin emphasised how important it was to work in close collaboration with the shipyard. He said, ‘you can’t work without them and,’ he added with a twist of humour ‘they will chase you for every single detail.’ Future guests of MSC World Europa will be reaping the benefits of this extraordinary attention to detail from MSC and Chantiers de l’Atlantique as they experience one first after another.

Want more of this? Refresh your knowledge, source suppliers for your next project, and connect with representatives from world-leading cruise lines at Cruise Ship Interiors Design Expo Europe. Find out all about the next event here.