As cruise ship operators seek to ready their vessels for the post-pandemic era, vessel interiors will require a radical rethink.
This will be needed to enable higher standards of hygiene and adequate social distancing, an interior design expert stressed.
Backed by decades of experience in cruise ship interior design, YSA Design claimed it was playing a major role in the sector’s return to operations but warned a return to ‘business as usual’ cannot be expected any time soon.
“When passenger ships set sail again, they will be carrying far fewer guests than they did prior to the outbreak, and stricter hygiene measures will be in place. The cruise holiday experience will look quite different for some time,” explained YSA CEO, Anne Mari Gullikstad (pictured).
As a company whose involvement extends from developing general arrangements to project management, YSA Design said it was in a unique position to advise cruise operators on necessary modifications.
Gullikstad outlined how interiors will be adapted to accommodate fewer passengers per square metre; unused cabins converted into additional facilities, such as medical rooms; crew quarters expanded to allow staff to maintain distance and, crucially, dining areas re-designed for improved hygiene.
“Now that buffet dining rooms no longer seem viable, due to their potential for disease transmission, restaurants will have to be redesigned to allow alternative forms of catering. For example, à la carte may completely replace self-service, with buffet counters removed to leave extra room for socially distanced dining,” Gullikstad said.
According to YSA Design senior architect Georg Piantino, a priority for the post-pandemic cruise restaurant, as well as for any on board amenities, will be flexibility: “Further outbreaks cannot be ruled out, and shipowners will want the ability to increase or decrease the capacity of interior spaces and implement or remove certain facilities depending on circumstances.”
Another vital consideration, he explained, will be passenger flow. Typically busy areas, such as check-in and disembarkation areas, will have to be optimised to prevent congestion and bottlenecking.
Surface materials selection will also require close attention, as these will be exposed to cleaning agents more frequently. Anti-bacterial materials are already widely used on board but will become even more prevalent as cruise lines look to further limit the spread of any disease.
However, with studies suggesting that the coronavirus can survive for several hours in aerosol droplets, clean air is just as important as clean surfaces. As a result, YSA Design is working with sensor technology specialist Scenso to allow operators to analyse air quality on board their vessels and ensure a safer, more hygienic environment for guests.
The company’s in-house technology also encompasses virtual reality and remote support tools, with YSA conducting virtual inspections of both retrofit and newbuilding projects to assist cruise operators with the entire adaptation process.
“Our increased implementation of modern technologies highlights our involvement from design conception to delivery and is part of our efforts to restore public faith in cruise holidays,” Piantino added. “We are committed to giving the industry the kick-start it needs.”