Brand new vistas for Carnival Cruise Line

Petu Kummala tells Anthony Pearce how he is battling misconceptions about cruise holidays, overcoming material restrictions and welcoming new competitors

Brand new vistas for Carnival Cruise Line
Kummala and his team devised innovative solutions to overcome material restrictions in the new Pig & anchor Brewhouse

This article was first published in the 2018 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

“Good interior design starts with a good plan,” says Petu Kummala, director of interior design at Carnival Cruise Line. “Although my design philosophy is not set in stone, I do believe in strong space planning as a foundation. Spaces must be as functional as they are interesting – no matter how captivating the design is, if the guest flow or layouts aren’t working, the final experience will suffer. Once the space is planned, then you can focus on the colours, materials and so on.”

Even Carnival, which is famed for building colossal, sky-reaching vessels – such as the soon-to-launch Carnival Panorama (the line’s third Vista-class ship) and the two upcoming LNG ships – must plan meticulously to ensure that every available inch of space is used properly. That’s why Kummala pays close attention to the plan or layout whenever he sees an interesting design. “When you come up with something that really is clever and works, it’s rewarding,” he explains. “Especially in cruise ships where the space is so limited.” 

Kummala names Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse Brewhouse, Steakhouse and Piano Bar as his favourite spaces on Carnival Panorama, largely because of the way the team used the space. 

“Pig & Anchor is a new concept,” he says. “The design is classic Americana – funky, rustic BBQ restaurant and there was a lot of freedom to explore. Although the cruise ship environment has a lot of restrictions, especially when it comes to the materials traditionally used in this type of venue, I think we pulled it off really well.” 

This is a common issue when designing at sea. “We have a lot of ‘wood’ in the Pig & Anchor, which actually is wood-like tile,” he says. “Luckily, today the techniques to mimic materials that realistically cannot be used on cruise ships are excellent, allowing us to overcome their natural challenges. 

“We still are sometimes jealous when we look at some of the things that can be done on land-based projects but in the end, it’s a challenge that makes things even more interesting and rewarding at the end,” Kummala adds. “The tile example is easy, but you need a lot of creativity to come up with some of the solutions we do.”

Keeping Carnival’s ships up to date is a constant process. “Things wear out and today we do a lot of repair, maintenance and large refurbishment projects, which is when things evolve” Kummala says. “Interestingly, our oldest ships are more than 20 years old and as things happen in cycles, some of the original designs that may have seemed dated 10 years ago are back in style again!”

Those styles of 20 years ago aren’t the only thing coming back into fashion, says Kummala. The cruise industry is experiencing a boom as people drop their preconceptions and embrace holidays at sea. Newcomers like Ritz-Carlton and Virgin Voyages are also helping to dispel lingering myths about cruises “I’m expecting them to have new ideas; I look forward to seeing their solutions – we welcome them to our industry,” he says.

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Friday, January 4, 2019