The latest Princess Cruises newbuild is the product of close collaboration between the line’s vice president of interior design Teresa Anderson and Giacomo Mortola, president and head architect at ship design firm GEM
ICFR: What were your respective roles on the Regal Princess newbuild project?
TA: I oversee all phases of interior design for Princess ships including newbuilds and refurbishments, creating both architectural concepts and design details through to completion and supervising installations for all the ships. This involves frequent international travel to meet with shipyards, contractors and suppliers. I also select the materials and finishes for public areas and passenger accommodations on all new vessels. In addition, I am responsible for the interior design of existing ship refurbishments, ensuring that a consistent interior feel is maintained throughout the fleet.
GM: On Regal Princess, GEM had a dual role. As designer, I provided interior design for a significant number of public areas including the theatre, Vista Lounge, lower and upper dining rooms, the aft (Allegro) dining room, Elite Lounge, wedding chapel, Lido Restaurant, indoor and outdoor crew recreation rooms, as well as the public toilets and stairs. My role as head architect involved overseeing coordination between the consulting and design firms selected by Princess Cruises and the shipyard, to enabling a complete and timely exchange of information between all.
ICFR: How does your close working relationship ensure the best results?
TA: Giacomo’s role is twofold. While he has designed specific spaces on our ships, his main role has been liaising between the shipyards and us in interior design. Giacomo ensures that the different phases of the design from us are ‘plugged in’ to the shipyard system – as we respond to shipyard drawings, he is invaluable in ensuring all these procedures run smoothly. His technical skills, administrative resources and proximity to Fincantieri – along with our creative, often challenging and dramatic designs – work well together.
GM: Our relationship with Teresa Anderson goes back to the design of the first vessel we collaborated on – Crown Princess, in the late 1980s. Our experience through the years has proved fundamental in developing correlation between the design brief and the look and feel of the vessel. The close-knit cooperation between both our offices, through web-based coordination and document exchange, is crucial in guaranteeing accurate design interpretation between all parties.
ICFR: What key factors do you consider when designing newbuild interiors?
TA: A cruise ship is essentially a floating hotel so it must fulfil the functions and requirements expected in any modern, luxury accommodation. As passengers may be at sea for days onboard a moving ship, additional rules, regulations and psychological demands must be satisfied by cruise ship design. Décor must be thoroughly planned as it becomes such an integral part of the ship brand and company image – these have been developed over many years and reflect the demographic and core values of Princess Cruises. For any vessel, internal research is used to create and improve the product. Trends, technological advances, communication, entertainment, food and beverage, and the hospitality industry overall are monitored to ensure that the best and most cost-effective solutions are incorporated into new designs.
GM: Functionality, passenger and service flow, and technical constraints are all important factors. The functionality of public spaces contributes to both passenger and crew satisfaction, while providing efficient and enjoyable passenger flow throughout all the public areas is a priority. GEM is continuously researching ship-wide technological breakthroughs that may provide advanced solutions.
ICFR: What was the inspiration behind the interior design of Regal Princess and how does this play out across the ship?
TA: The process is essentially similar to previous ships including Royal Princess – the difference lies in the architecture and spatial volumes of Regal Princess. We had more control over these from the initial planning stages, which enabled us to create exciting and dramatic guest flow by using voids and juxtapositions of spatial volumes for a surprise element.
GM: Mainly it is a combination of warm, elegant tones that convey a feeling of comfort and sophistication. One example – a favourite architect of mine, Frank Lloyd Wright, used wood, bronze and leather-covered walls and I used these materials to impart the look and feel of the aft dining room. These materials were also used in the entertainment areas including the Princess Theater, Vista Lounge and TV Studio contributing to the acoustic quality in these areas.
ICFR: How do the interior design elements of Regal Princess differ from her Royal predecessor?
TA: Regal Princess will have all of the signature features that have been so successful onboard Royal Princess. Guest response to the design of spaces on Royal Princess has been extremely positive and we felt that the two vessels should remain very similar. There are some unique touches with different artwork and fine tuning. Regal Princess will also offer an additional aft pool and outdoor access on the Promenade Deck so guests can walk the length of the ship.
GM: As sister ship to Royal Princess, Regal Princess shares all the public areas which were the highlight of that vessel. In addition, a new Terrace Pool was added towards the aft of Deck 15 and there are some variations in the functional layout of the TV Studio, but Regal mostly reflects the look and feel of Royal Princess.
ICFR: Which onboard features are you most proud of and why?TA: I’m proud of all the spaces I designed on Regal Princess. But emotionally, perhaps the most challenging and also the most rewarding includes the Atrium/Piazza which is around double the size of existing atriums – the architectural impact of the space is spectacular. It brings innovation and an added dimension of drama to the ship. The Mini-Piazza as an extension of the Atrium creates guest flow and spatial freedom combined with the intimate setting for Sabatini’s Italian restaurant. A one-of-a-kind concept in the Princess fleet, our signature specialty restaurant is designed as an elegant Tuscany-inspired, contemporary space, carrying an air of enchantment and a rich dining ambience. Crown Grill and the Wheelhouse Bar bring together two signature spaces that are steeped in tradition, yet approached with a modern attitude. The result is an entirely new experience incorporating intimate spaces, shapes, forms and materials.
GM: It is difficult for me to pick a favourite because I see all areas as quite outstanding. But the Theater is a highlight. The latest technological breakthroughs use RGB variable lighting to provide a dynamic brilliance and freshness that is unique in this setting. Another feature is the use of lighting as a central theme to highlight the Chef’s Table Luminaire in the Allegro Dining Room, providing a special dining experience.
This article appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2014 edition of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. To read other articles, you can subscribe to the magazine in printed or digital formats.