Designing the post-pandemic cruise experience

Rebecca Gibson asks Studio DADO’s founding partners about new design considerations for a worry-free cruise

Designing the post-pandemic cruise experience

“There is no doubt that cruising after a pandemic will be a much different experience than the one we were used to,” predicts Greg Walton, one of four founding partners of Studio DADO, a Miami-based cruise interior design firm. “As we embark on a new horizon, we’re all faced with the need to reinvent the entire cruise journey and re-establish the trust that has been lost in light of Covid-19.”

Studio DADO plans to be at the forefront of this reinvention. “We’ve partnered with Bourne Group and MRD Lighting to lay out an approach that identifies solutions for the cruise experience of the future,” says Javier Calle, founding partner of Studio DADO. “We’ve already started to implement these solutions across almost every passenger and crew touchpoint encountered throughout a cruise.”

According to Calle, these solutions extend far beyond the design of a particular space, or a ship’s overall aesthetic. Instead, they are centered on providing an enhanced guest experience through strategic floor layouts, optimised traffic flows and advanced sanitation technologies and practices. Together, the solutions will allow cruise operators to meet and surpass the immediate needs for Covid-19 by enabling them to incorporate practices and protocols designed to address possible future pandemics or pandemic-like threats.

Some of these new measures will include cruise operators collecting accurate, up-to-date medical histories from guests to flag up any concerns based on predetermined markers. Non-intrusive health screenings will also become the norm, perhaps with smart wristbands that function primarily as a touchless room key but also as a body temperature thermometer.

“It goes without saying that travellers can expect to undergo additional health screenings and follow new health measures – both before and during their cruise,” says Jorge Mesa, another founding partner of Studio DADO.

Until a targeted treatment or a vaccine becomes available, ships will likely resume sailing at a reduced capacity to ensure they can adhere to strict social distancing measures. Consequently, several processes and onboard layouts will be adjusted to prevent the congregation of large groups and to optimise traffic flow. Multiple access points will allow guests to board quickly and go directly to their sanitised staterooms. Elsewhere, the lifts, stairs and corridors will be updated to include touchless buttons and antimicrobial metal handrails. General public areas will be disinfected by a dedicated 24/7 sanitation team, while sanitation stations and wipe dispensers will be placed in key circulation and transitory areas throughout the ships. Onboard medical centres will also be enhanced and able to provide free Covid-19 testing to guests and crew. Safety and sanitation protocols will be developed to address positive tests.

Meanwhile, dining venues will offer reduced occupancy with a more spacious floor plan to streamline traffic flow and limit cross circulation. Other enhancements will include sanitation stations throughout the restaurants and metal or digital menus for patrons. Staff will also adopt rigorous and continuous disinfecting practices.

Alterations will also be made to staterooms. They will be outfitted with a thermal checkpoint and facial recognition hub at the point of entry to automatically identify guests with symptoms and initiate safety and sanitation protocols. Other noticeable upgrades to the staterooms will include touchless room entry, showers, faucets and cabinets. Furniture and furnishings will incorporate hospital-grade, antimicrobial textiles and surfaces, while carpets will be replaced with hardwood flooring. Staterooms, bathrooms, and closets will use ultraviolet lighting technologies to self-sanitise.

“Sanitation measures within the staterooms promise to enhance the post-pandemic cruise experience by providing peace of mind to guests,” says Yohandel Ruiz, the fourth partner of Studio DADO.

The cruise journey of the future will focus on limiting exposure to potential illnesses and minimising unnecessary interactions, while improving guests’ trust in cruising and in the cruise line. “Through the adoption of health screening measures, improved sanitation practices and innovative sanitation technologies, cruise lines can reassure guests that they have taken every possible measure to protect them and still deliver enjoyable cruises,” says Ruiz.

This article was first published in the 2020 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

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Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
17 September 2020

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