Designing cruise ships fit for the future normal

Though Covid-19 has been devastating, it has given designers the chance to innovate

Designing cruise ships fit for the future normal
Designers’ perspectives have changed during the pandemic, says Iina Forsblom

By Iina Forsblom |

We don’t think anyone expects cruising to go back to what it was before Covid-19. While the pandemic has been devastating around the world, it has also given us an opportunity to view our past and present lives from a new perspective, both on a professional and a personal level. For designers, it has opened the possibility to innovate and introduce new ideas. At first, we were driven by the need for virus prevention and safety, but as technology has taken leaps forward on that front, we have put our focus on guest experience. 

The guest has always been at the centre of every cruise brand’s vision and at Tillberg Design of Sweden we have committed to ‘Delivering Dreams’ for our clients. Working together with a client’s chief experience officer is now common, and there is a wealth of data to guide us in making intelligent choices when developing a new concept. Cruise lines have introduced wearable devices and phone apps to guide their passengers onboard. These innovations are both entertaining and informative but are also regarded as a safety measure. 

Many of us have done some self-reflection while living in a bubble. Our preferences in travel might have shifted and, as designers, we can now further tailor the guest experience by creating a variety of options. Whether they are travelling on a 4,000-passenger ship or on a small expedition vessel, guests can feel that they have more control over their onboard experience. Working remotely from your cabin or the poolside should be convenient. Following a health regimen should be effortless. You should not have to stop living by sustainable values just because you’re on holiday. 

Just six months ago, installing plexiglass and floor decals were considered crucial by cruise operators. Now, we are designing for the guests, who have been waiting for the return of adventure while not having to worry about their well-being onboard. Change is on its way and, as designers, we welcome the opportunity to help shape the future of travel. 

Iina Forsblom is cruise design director at Tillberg Design of Sweden

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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