Britannica Lounge aboard Saga’s Spirit of Adventure

Texture has played a large part in the trend stories being told across the cruise interiors industry in recent years. Natural textures have helped bring wider trends for nature and wellness to interior design as wood-effect materials grow in popularity and fresh, linen weaves are used in combination with deep colours for a modern twist on luxe outfitting.

Texture writ large

Designers have expanded their use of texture past the materials. A recent trend in design has seen heavily structural designs incorporated throughout architecture, furniture and other design elements. Carved grooves, slats and layered sections transform what might have otherwise been a solid structural element or furniture into an artistic feature. A room divider is no longer built to appear as though created from single pieces of wood-effect material but constructed using layers, all stacked on top of one another but not quite touching, blocking off the room but allowing passengers a glimpse through to the other side.

Aesthetic practicality

On Saga’s Spirit of Adventure slatted wood covers the wall above the Britannica Lounge. It echoes the structural elements, such as supports reinforcing the large windows, creating a harmonious design. The room is light and airy, thanks to the enormous space dedicated to windows and the wood-effect installation reflects that better than large blocks of wood might do. The installation also creates an effect of depth ­as the passengers can almost see ‘through’ the slats. This illusion of space is a crucial design trick for a space-poor cruise ship.

Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas, a Quantum-class ship designed and launched for Asia’s cruise market, utilises a similar effect is used in the design of The Royal Esplanade. Wood-effect slats interspersed with mirror strips makes up the cladding around the top of the space, the depth created by the slats and the reflection in the mirror strips working together to create an illusion of greater space. The design element is carried through to the lighting design: the centrepieces comprises thin lighting strips that curve out and around a large metal circular disc. There is both a practical result of well-dispersed light and an aesthetic sculptural effect.


Norwegian Encore Mandara Spa

With limited space available to hospitality and cruise interiors designers, it is important that every element of the design makes an impact. Incorporating a relief into what would otherwise be a plain wall or ceiling allows the design to be taken even further. This works particularly well on wellness spaces such as in the spa aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Encore. Passengers who seek to feel relaxed may not welcome a cluttered area stuffed with artworks and fussy design elements, however neither would they necessarily appreciate an area that feels ‘undesigned’. Baking the detail into the essentials of the room allows the perfect compromise. The spa also carries through the wellness trend of bringing the outside in, as the slatted wood complements the natural marble reception desk and walkway while the floor and columns are also clad in wood-effect material.

It’s possible to see a similar approach in Studio DADO’s design for the Cloud 9 spa on Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras, due to set sail in 2020. In this instance wood-effect slats blossom up from a support beam and gently weave out across the white ceiling. The organic shape transforms a necessary structural element into an attractive feature that speaks to the purpose of the room. Speaking in Cruise & Ferry Interiors, Michelle Colangelo, senior associate at Studio DADO said, “The fresh colour scheme and layers of lush textures expand on the spa experience with a more exclusive feel.”


Material choice isn’t the only way that this 3D texture brings nature into cruise interiors. As it is possible to see from Uni-Mebel’s stand at Cruise Ship Interiors Expo Europe 2019, layers stacked to build a fluid shape gives an organic effect. The context of the design in which this is placed will inform the onlooker’s interpretation but the imagination conjures driftwood and fallen trees, or even sandbanks, worn shelves of rock or stacked sea floors. By using shapes more commonly found in nature than design, including the slatted structure, designers bring the outside inside.

It is possible to see this in many of the designs already discussed in this article, from the large seed-pod-esque lighting design in Spectrum of the Seas’ The Royal Esplanade to the Mayan-inspired waves spiralling across the ceiling in the spa aboard Mardi Gras.