Bringing the soul of Arabia onboard a cruise ship

Alex Smith speaks with Partner Ship Design's Siegfried Schindler and Kai Bunge to learn how the firm has helped create Aroya Cruises’ first ship 

Bringing the soul of Arabia onboard a cruise ship

Partner Ship Design

A mood board used by Partner Ship Design during the creation of Aroya’s spa areas

By Alex Smith |

Cruise Saudi first began the development of its new cruise concept, Aroya Cruises, in 2022. The organisation was looking to completely convert an existing vessel, making it into the first ship designed specifically for the Arabian market. One of the first companies to become involved in the effort to realise this ambition was Partner Ship Design. The firm, which is led jointly by its five partners, helped develop a proposal for modification of the general arrangement for the selected ship.

“Cruise Saudi’s ideas were very far-reaching and challenging, especially regarding the intended project schedule,” says Siegfried Schindler, senior partner at Partner Ship Design. “Due to our capacity at the time, we could not take over the whole project as planned. We were honest about what we would be able to achieve, which we feel is part of what makes a good partner. However, we were still appointed to design about 20 public areas, in close collaboration with our partners.”

These spaces included the large VIP area onboard, which comprises a lounge, a restaurant and a majlis – a community gathering space unique to Arabic culture. Partner Ship Design also created the Observation Lounge, a private terrace area divided into Tea, Jazz and Observation areas with a view over the adults-only sun deck, which was also designed by the firm.

Partner Ship Design also developed designs for Aroya’s spa areas on decks 13, 15 and 18, as well as the gym and fruit bar. The firm was also responsible for the Fish Restaurant on deck seven, which will feature a display of a wide range of fresh fish guests can choose from for their meal.

“We focused on a design which will allow Arabian passengers to feel at home in an elegant and modern atmosphere inspired by traditions,” says Kai Bunge, senior partner at Partner Ship Design. “We achieved this by interpreting typical Arabian structures, patterns and colour schemes and incorporating them into a modern and timeless design.”

Despite the scale of the conversion project and the challenges it has faced, Schindler and Bunge are confident that Partner Ship Design and its fellow designers have created a ship that will deliver a unique experience for guests.

“This project is very special to us,” says Schindler. “We are sure that in close co-operation with the owner’s teams and our colleagues from SMC Design we have created a cruise product which will touch the Arabian soul and begin a new era of cruising in the Arabian market.”

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2024 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. Subscribe for FREE to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox. 

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