A few years ago, London design studio, Jestico + Whiles won a contract to design some of the interior spaces on board P&O Cruises recently introduced flagship ‘Iona’, the company’s first foray into cruise ships.
Since then, the company has been working on her sistership ‘Arvia’, which is under construction at Meyer Werft’s Papenburg shipyard.
In conversation with Associate Director, Jennifer de Vere-Hopkins, she explained that the company started working on the project more than five years ago when P&O decided to ramp up the size of their vessels to over 5,000 pax capacity.
Being an outsider rather than being a regular P&O designer, Jestico + Whiles was able to look at the problem from a different perspective.
Passenger numbers on spread sheets were used as a platform to test people flows for ease of moving a lot of people around inside the vessels. The aim was to attract a new audience to the cruise line’s much larger vessels and challenge what was described as the ‘status quo’.
One of the areas Jestico + Whiles was asked to look at was the atrium, which is usually the central core of a cruise ship and normally covers a large area.
The problem faced was how to fit four venues inside this space with an extra layer in a large London Covent Garden type area. “How do you design a space that is going to be used?” de Vere-Hopkins said.
There were also some issues to overcome with the dining area guest flows, as the ship caters for everything from club speciality dining to freedom dining.
Part of Carnival Corp, P&O has a brand awareness with certain standards and the task was to create ideas and sell the vision in new way by evolving. “Conceptual thinking is important,” she told ICSI.
Jestico + Whiles designed most of the food and beverage spaces throughout the ship, as well as the triple-height Grand Atrium, which captures panoramic views across the ever-changing seascape.
The Grand Atrium is described as the heart of ‘Iona’, a lively focal point that encapsulates the spirit of the ship, with spectacular views and natural light.
This space was designed to ‘draw the outside in’ and, accordingly, Jestico + Whiles has enabled guests to connect with the seascape around them.
The Grand Atrium is, according to the occasion and time of day, either a playground or a sanctuary – a key entertainment space, designed meticulously to effortlessly accommodate a wide variety of experiences, from musical performance to aerialists.
Throughout the day, the area has been designed to attract guests for convivial experiences, offering morning coffee as the sun rises to sundowners at dusk.
An elegant, gravity defying, arching Italian marble staircase with a filigree bright silver serpentine balustrade serves as the space’s centrepiece. Designed as a sculpture, its swooping form leads guests on a journey through the decks offering ever changing views, the designer claimed.