Creating an Ode to Americana for American Cruise Lines

Jorge Mesa discusses Studio DADO’s first river cruise project on American Melody

Creating an Ode to Americana for American Cruise Lines
The sculpture in the atrium represents both American Melody’s musical name and the soundwaves of The Great American Song Book

By Rebecca Gibson |

American Melody will open American Cruise Lines (ACL) up to a new generation of cruise guests when she debuts on the Mississippi River this summer. The vessel, which is the first in the fleet to feature interiors entirely designed by Miami-based firm Studio DADO, will also be a celebration of all things American. 

“We wanted to take guests on a journey through America, highlighting the beautiful places that hold so much history and diverse culture through our vast land,” says Jorge Mesa, founding partner of Studio DADO. “We wanted to evoke a sense of pride and spark an appreciation for US history, while also ensuring that we offered some of ACL’s signature onboard touches.”  

Nods to America are intertwined throughout American Melody. For example, the main staircase features a sculpture representing the soundwaves of The American Songbook. Meanwhile, the study on Deck 3 (which can be transformed into a private dining room) has a rustic orange colour palette redolent of bricks made from the clay of the Chicago River. 

In addition, the 84 staterooms showcase a carefully curated collection of artworks that illustrate American Melody’s ports of call along the Mississippi River. They also offer various elements to enhance the guest experience, such as new storage options and USB charging outlets.  

Continuing the celebration of America, the décor for the six suites is inspired by both Chesapeake Bay’s historical skipjack vessels and Martha’s Vineyard, an island south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Guests will see these influences echoed in the nautical references in the furniture, hardware, millwork, lighting and glass, as well as in the natural wood tones and elegant finishes. These materials combine with the neutral colour palette to create simple, yet luxurious, accommodation that will stand the test of time.  

Also evocative of the Cape Cod region is the Aft Lounge, which has a cool blue colour palette, furnishings with nautical touches, a central skylight and a bar surrounded by expansive windows with panoramic views. The space opens out onto an appointed deck with various seating options. It is directly connected to the upper deck where there is an athletic area with a jogging track and a shuffleboard. 

Taking guests on an experiential journey further down the US East Coast, Studio DADO has designed the main dining room to reflect the colonial heritage of Charleston, South Carolina. This has been achieved by installing panelled walls and a planter with unique wrought iron screens, which are reminiscent of the city’s traditional architecture.  

Elsewhere on American Melody, Studio DADO’s team has focused on creating connections to the sea. The midship arrival lounge on Deck 2 features cool coastal blues and yellows, while the multifunctional lounge on Deck 4 has been inspired by the USA’s coastal marshes and includes custom-designed gaming tables and a library. Similarly, the red and brown hues of the furniture in the Forward Lounge recall the colours of a coastal sunset. The lounge also features a dance floor, enabling it to host lectures and entertainment. 

Studio DADO collaborated with ACL throughout the design process, scheduling weekly meetings with ACL to ensure it could deliver on time and on budget, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.  

“Although it was a new way of working for our team, our client, the shipyards, our long-standing partners and the collective marketplace, we didn’t skip a beat,” says Mesa. “While the pandemic challenges could have slowed our process, our dedicated and increasingly efficient team ensured every sourcing detail and shipping deadline was executed with precision.” 

Mesa believes American Melody will surpass guest expectations and propel Studio DADO to new creative heights.   

“As a team of designers with various expertise, backgrounds, and stylistic influence, we are collectively energised when we tackle something we’ve never done before,” he explains. “We see this inaugural project in the domestic cruising industry as a creative catalyst; it challenged us to see how we could integrate the best features of a country’s culture and guest travel preferences into our designs. We are extremely pleased with how our team united and explored this new territory by producing standout, client-pleasing designs.” 

This article was first published in the 2021 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. 

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