Goodbye Pacific Dawn, hello Ambience

Bob McGowan talks with Alice Chambers about the renovations that were carried out on Ambassador Cruise Line’s first ship, Ambience, including the teams and challenges that were involved

Goodbye Pacific Dawn, hello Ambience
Ambassador Cruise Line installed tea and coffee-making facilities, along with UK plug sockets and USB outlets for convenience, in all cabins and suites

When Ambassador Cruise Line launched as the first new British cruise line in over a decade in May 2021, the brand began building its fleet by acquiring Pacific Dawn, which operated for P&O Cruises between 2007 and 2020. After that, the ship underwent refurbishment work at the Viktor Lenak shipyard in Rijeka, Croatia, to ensure it will deliver a unique and high-quality onboard experience for guests.  

The newly renovated ship was at Viktor Lenak for six months, with work having been completed by Atlantic Marine Interiors and interior designer Guri Blindheim. It was christened as Ambience during a ceremony at London Tilbury in the UK on 19 April 2022. 

“We refreshed all guest cabins, including the 14 new deluxe suites,” says Bob McGowan, head of guest experience at Ambassador. “We were keen to introduce new soft furnishings and linens throughout. Guest experience was obviously our focus, so we have also installed tea and coffee-making facilities, along with UK plug sockets and USB outlets for convenience, in all cabins and suites. 

“We have also relocated the original casino and turned the remaining space into our exclusive Purple Turtle pub, which will be the main hub of activity for our guests with nightly game shows, bespoke cocktails and other evening entertainment. In addition, there is the new active studio named Wellness, our bridge and cardroom called Aces & Eights, and a dedicated craft area, Kapoor’s.” 

Refurbishment work has also been carried out on the ship’s spa area and the cruise line has added a digital photo gallery, new digital signage and interactive screens throughout the ship to assist guests with accessing Ambassador’s onboard application, which is designed to help with navigating around the ship and guest assistance. 

In addition, Ambassador focused on improving onboard health and safety during its revitalisation project. For example, more than 23 miles of new piping has been installed and all guest corridors now feature new ceilings. 

“In terms of exterior updates, the ship has obviously had full new livery and we have fitted new teak flooring on the open deck areas, upgraded the sound and light system, and created a new entertainment area to enhance the guest offering and overall experience,” says McGowan. 

Extensive investments have also been made to carry out technical upgrades on the ship, primarily with a view to improving its environmental performance. Ambience has been equipped with selective catalytic reduction systems, new advanced waste water treatment plants, and an improved food pulper system to decrease food waste. The new pulper system features an upgraded biodigester, which reduces the ship’s production of nitrogen and sulphur oxides by 75 and 80 per cent respectively and will decrease overall carbon dioxide emissions by 5.3 tons per year.  

Having overcome several challenges during the refurbishment process, including Covid-19-related staff shortages and supply chain obstacles such as fuel shortages linked to the situation in Ukraine delaying its departure from the shipyard, Ambience embarked on its maiden voyage from the UK to Hamburg, Germany, on 20 April 2022.  

“We were delighted that we were able to take a well-loved ship with a great history and bring it back to life through designing areas and spaces that Ambassador’s guests will love,” says McGowan. “There are lots of new super-ships being built for the cruise market, but we’re keen to offer our guests a smaller to mid-size traditional, cruising experience with our fleet.” 

Following the success of Ambience’s refurbishment and debut, Ambassador will continue to carry out refurbishments on her sister ship, Ambition, which enters service in 2023.

This article was first published in the 2022 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. 

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Alice Chambers
By Alice Chambers
24 June 2022

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