One of the main themes running through of this month’s Cruise Ship Interiors Expo (CSIE) conference and exhibition was the lack of standardisation or certification in sustainability for cruise ship operators, their ships and designers.
For example, at the opening conference, Anne Mari Gullikstad, CEO of Oslo-based YSA Design (pictured) said that owners need to be much more responsible in the area of sustainability offering proof or a certificate.
Juha Rista of Finnish-based dSign Vertti Kivi agreed and added that today there was no standard to work to and warned operators against just ‘green washing’.
He said that materials and labour used on board for interior design projects need common ground and common rules. “Where do you stop?” he asked.
SMC’s Managing Director, Andy Yuill said that people had more choice and options in a large cruise market, particularly in geographic and cruise vessel type terms.
Gullikstad added that individual choices were more important today than mass tourism. Some ports and harbours do not want large cruise ships, she said adding that some harbours now offer tender services to anchored cruise ships instead of the vessels coming alongside.
Rista asked; “What is your core choice? Is it catered for?” He gave an example of wellness on board being a way of inducing wellbeing and asked – what does an individual want to gain a sense of wellbeing?
Yuill said that today a designer has more choice and that brand identity was becoming more important. The designer will be responsible for providing this while planning guest flows, etc. “It is more exciting now,” he confirmed.
“Flexibility is key,” Gullikstad added as guests did not wish to be so congested on board, due to the pandemic. More space should be provided and people should be spread around the ship.
“How many things can you put on top of one another before ruining it?” Rista asked about the design considerations. People were more brand aware today and wanted more, he added.
He also believed that in the future, designers will work with better materials. “Always be a pioneer – the talk of the town- and the rest will have to follow,” he urged his fellow designers.
Gullikstad thought that with greater sustainability there was an opportunity for smaller ship designs of less than 1,000 pax capacity.
“There are a lot of economic aspects and a connection with nature and the sea. Smaller ships can go to different places, thus offering more destination choices,” she said.
Cruise ship operators and brands all need to analyse their guests. This can add valuable input. “We need to develop the concept from the story,” she added.
Yuill summed up by saying “….it’s all about the guest experience as they are paying for it.”
Turning to the a seminar on the expedition ship market, Tillberg Design of Sweden’s (TDoS) Fredrik Johansson said this involved a different planning mentality with more connection to the destinations. “The social patterns are different,” he said.
Mystic Cruises’ David Sagistra said that space was a premium and the company was looking at ways to include storage in the cabins and elsewhere.
For example, he explained that every guest on a Mystic cruise receives a parka coat.
He urged designers to look at extra storage space both in the cabins and in the back of house areas.
He also advised that expedition teams were very important on board with each member specialising in a different theme. There is more of a sense of community on board an expedition ship, for example, all 200 guests can dine together and also meeting in lounge in groups of 10 or so.
Johansson added that for the major use of space, a lot of design parameters needed to be taken into account at the early stage of a contract. A strong vision is needed of what is required at the design stage.
In some of the cabins, Mystic Cruises has installed verandahs both inside and outside to enable the guests take in the scenery and the wildlife. Sagistra explained that expedition ship guests were roughly split into two groups – those that must go there and those that are looking for adventure.
Guests want more for their money, he said, including greater luxury on board. They tended to have an intellectual ambition and are much more keen to learn, be active and explore the destinations.
He explained that Mystic Cruises was set up around four years ago in Porto, Portugal and is owned by Portuguese investment group, Mysticinvest Holding. The holding company has more than 20 years’ experience in tourism, including river cruise operations.
Thus far, Mystic has three ships in operation with another two to come in the next couple of years.
The company has also formed Mystic Ocean, which purchased the ‘Vasco da Gama’ from the administrators of Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) to target the larger cruise market.
Mysticinvest is also connected with German river cruise company Nicko Cruises and US – based Atlas Ocean Voyages, which operates one of Mystic’s ships.