P&O’s cruise ships ‘Arcadia’ and ‘Oceana’ are both due to return to service, following refits at Blohm + Voss, Hamburg.
The internal spaces were refurbished by London-based RPW Design. Director of Projects, Elizabeth Lane (pictured), told P&O that the company’s core background is in high-end hospitality interior design.
That knowledge and design experience translates perfectly to a cruise ship, which is essentially a floating hotel where guests expect a beautiful experience that enhances their holiday, she said.
With ship work, however, there are unique challenges to factor in. The main difference between hotels is that ships move constantly. This brings a whole new level of technical issues that need to be taken into consideration. Plus, there are logistical challenges, as the ships are never in the same place, which makes site visits and planning more complicated.
She explained that RPW will get to know the ships and experience everything on board first hand. The company visited both ‘Arcadia’ and ‘Oceana’ in Southampton and undertook short cruises. “Being on board during a cruise lets you feel the mood and the buzz of what’s happening operationally, and how the guests interact with the spaces,” Lane told P&O in a web interview.
Guests who know and love the ships play a huge part in the refit thinking, which is one of the biggest differences between hotel work and working on a cruise ship project. RPW spoke with many people on board. “They told us what they liked and disliked,” she said.
‘Arcadia’ is stylish, sophisticated, timeless and little bit extravagant. “She’s exclusively for adults, so we wanted to bring out these luxurious qualities in our design story,” she said. There’s also the sense of travel and adventure with a strong design motif with maps and memories of places visited coming into play.
Taking the carpet in the Atrium as an example: the design references global travels with overlaid patterns and textures that you may be seen. Each section of the pattern is then taken into the landing area carpets so there is a common link to the circulation spaces.
She described ‘Oceana’ as a fun ship. Being a family ship, everything’s a bit bolder in the design approach in terms of colours. “She’s bright and sunny and we placed great importance on the outside decks,” Lane said.
Unlike hotel deadlines, which usually slip and slip, a ship refit deadline is set in stone.
There’s a window in a shipyard when the ship is in a drydock and that’s when all the major work takes place. Everything has to be lined up and ready, and you have to be incredibly focused. Teams of contractors are involved and they each have their specialist areas to focus on.
“As the project director, I have to answer lots of questions on all these areas. We have to work and find answers to any problems incredibly quickly. We’ll be joining ‘Arcadia’ and ‘Oceana’ in Germany for the sail-backs to Southampton to make sure everything’s in place and to oversee the finishing touches,” she said.
During the refit, the Loyalty and Cruise Sales areas on both ships were refreshed. For example, ‘Oceana’s’, was moved from Deck 5 to a new and much more spacious area on Deck 7 near Starlights, offering additional waiting space and improved privacy for guests.
Highlights of ‘Arcadia’s’ refit include:
*The Aquarius pool and bar at the stern of the Lido Deck will feature a brighter colour scheme with new chairs, bar stools, sofas, coffee tables, signage and wall tiles.
*The Atrium/Reception will fitted with new carpets, chairs, banquettes and cushions, as well as a brand new nautical-themed wall feature. There will also be new open plan Future Cruise Sales & Loyalty booths.
*New carpets and blinds in reception, as well as refreshed loungers and armchairs with new cushions, will enhance the sense of calm and relaxation in the Oasis Spa.
*The Intermezzo cocktail and Champagne bar will feature new colour scheme referencing the Mediterranean with updated carpets, blinds, chairs, sofas, bar stools, coffee tables and lamp shades. New lighting and ironmongery will have a subtle nautical theme.
*The Belvedere Buffet will feature new seating and carpet and tiled flooring throughout, as well as improved lighting, new permanent waiter stations, four passenger hand wash stations and a self-serve paid Costa Coffee station.
*The Piano Bar will get new carpets, window treatments and furniture in order to inject life and light into the space.
*The ship’s busiest public space, The Rising Sun English-style pub, will be given new carpet, vinyl flooring and select furniture.
‘Arcadia’s’ suites will be completely refreshed with an elegant new design scheme to create a warm and inviting ambience. Suites will be treated to new sofa beds, armchairs, coffee tables and headboards, as well as various decorative items such as curtains, bed cushions, throws and lamps. Most cabins will be given new sofa beds while selected cabins will be re-carpeted and have balcony doors replaced.
Her first cruise after the refit was a three-night Belgium round trip from Southampton, which departed on 15th November, 2017.
As for ‘Oceana’, the Suites will receive new carpets, curtains, sheers, bed runners, cushions, valances, headboards and lamps, while cabins will get new carpets, lampshades and stools.
Public spaces and the Atrium will have new re-designed carpets throughout.
With the popularity of buffet dining, especially during the summer, ‘Oceana’s’ Plaza Buffet will get new carpet and tiling throughout’ as well as new chairs and banquette seating. The Yacht & Compass and Magnums will both get new flooring throughout, new furniture and new window treatments while Winner’s Bar will be re-carpeted and be given some new furniture.
Refurbished youth spaces will feature improved entertainment equipment, re-decorated walls and flooring, new soft play equipment, revised nursery space and an updated area for teenagers.
There will be significant work undertaken on the Terrace Bar with refurbished hot tubs, re-tiling of flooring and horizontal surfaces, as well as a new canopy over the pool which will extend out to cover the bar.
The Spa and Gym will be brought up to date with new décor, wall covering, blinds and flooring.
Following her refit, ‘Oceana’ will sail on a 12-night Canary Islands & Portugal cruise round trip from Southampton departing 17th December, 2017 on which ICSI’s Editor Ian Cochran and his family will be paying guests.