A grand ol’ time: creating an authentic Irish pub on Enchanted Princess

Mara Davis describes how Bourne Group blended old and new manufacturing techniques

A grand ol’ time: creating an authentic Irish pub on Enchanted Princess

Bourne Group

Mara Davis is director of business development at Bourne Group

By Laura Hyde |

When Princess Cruises embarked on a renovation project on Enchanted Princess, it called upon the expertise of signage designer and manufacturer Bourne Group to help it elevate the interior spaces and add authenticity to the ship’s Irish pub, O’Malley’s. 

“Our goal was clear,” says Mara Davis, director of business development at Bourne Group. “We wanted to create an Irish pub that would radiate the spirit of Ireland and transport passengers to the heart of the Emerald Isle as soon as they step through the door. We worked with the Princess Cruises’ design team on more than just the necessary signage; they had such a great vision for the space incorporating mirrors, decorative signage, and a statement clock, so when we saw what they were trying to do we just wanted to make it as authentic as possible.” 

Recognising the importance of finding expertise beyond the in-house team’s scope, Bourne Group collaborated with a specialised business, nestled just outside Dublin in the Irish countryside, with a reputation for creating authentic Irish aesthetics. “Having the opportunity to go to Ireland for this project was exceptionally special,” explains Davis. “This is the first time we’ve ever gone this far on a job, and it changed my whole perspective. It was an incredible experience to be fully immersed in the design and manufacture process for some of the decorative elements, especially the pub’s mirror.  

“Intricate designs were meticulously etched by hand using techniques that have been around of centuries. Seeing that custom mirror made in Ireland using all the old-fashioned approaches of gold leafing and layering that just aren’t done anymore in the mainstream fabrication world was fascinating. It turned out great and Enchanted Princess has a handcrafted, authentic Irish pub mirror just like those hanging in pubs around Dublin.” 

Davis also helped to create other decorative elements to give the pub a traditional Irish feel, taking the practical factors of designing for a vessel at sea into consideration. “Weight is an important factor when making anything for a cruise ship interior, so we weren’t able to make things as we would if they were for a pub on land,” she says. “So, when we saw the Princess Cruises’ design team’s vision for a statement clock hanging from the ceiling, we had to get creative to figure out how to make it look like a real clock but weigh significantly less. We sculpted it out of high-density foam and put a powered metal coating on it, just as we did with the space’s decorative signage, such as the logo and lettering on the bar. The clock makes a statement, looking and feeling like metal but being lightweight.” 

Davis and the Bourne Group team completed the project by overseeing the installation onboard Enchanted Princess in Palermo, Italy. They are now working with Princess to design a sign that incorporates an authentic Venetian mirror for another venue on the same ship. “We really enjoyed the collaboration with the interior design team for Princess Cruises and the outfitting team,” says Davis. “It was a huge challenge, but it all came together amazingly.” 

Bourne Group’s Enchanted Princess project exceeded all expectations and has created new opportunities for the team to expand its involvement in future interior design projects. “The Enchanted Princess project stands as a testament to the potential of blending expertise from different corners of the world, resulting in an unparalleled outcome,” says Patrick McNulty, owner and principal at Bourne Group. “Mara is a talented designer, and I was confident she would meet the challenge of creating authentic Irish ambience. As passengers’ step into the O’Malley’s pub, they will be instantly transported to a real Irish pub, leaving them with memories that will last a lifetime. The success of this venture has opened up new possibilities for Bourne Group.” 

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2023 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Review for FREE to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox. 

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