How The Deluxe Group is creating memorable spaces on cruise ships

Richard Hill explains to Rebecca Gibson how the firm’s experience in interior refits and the ‘Experience Economy’ help it to create immersive spaces

How The Deluxe Group is creating memorable spaces on cruise ships
The 19th Hole’s décor is inspired by the diamond argyle pattern traditionally found on golf clothing

This article was first published in the 2019 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Marella Cruises hit a hole in one when it introduced a luxury golf clubhouse-style bar on newest ship Marella Explorer 2 before she officially joined the fleet in spring 2019. Developed and installed by UK-based company The Deluxe Group, The 19th Hole offers quirky décor, booth seats styled as golf buggies and a menu of themed cocktails and craft beers. Plus, there are two simulators to enable golf enthusiasts to master their swing while enjoying an immersive view of the world’s best courses.

“The sumptuous bar interior gives a sophisticated country clubhouse feel,” says Richard Hill, business development director at The Deluxe Group. “Meanwhile, the pioneering simulator technology takes 2,300 photos a second, tracing the ball from the moment the guest ‘hits’ it to the moment it lands, and also quantifies its launch angle, velocity and spin rates. It makes the virtual golfing experience feel so real that guests will want to bring their own clubs.” 

The Deluxe Group is no stranger to the marine industry. In fact, Marella Cruises was attracted to the company because of its long-held reputation as a skilled joinery and interior refit partner for both land- and ship-based projects. 

“Since our company was founded in 1969, we’ve honed our expertise and bespoke joinery and fit-out skills by working on everything from contemporary retail stores, private member clubs, to luxury residential spaces and major hotels onshore,” says Hill. “For example, this spring, we completed a multimillion-pound project to transform the interiors of London’s Great Scotland Yard, an iconic listed building that has served as the Royal Military Police headquarters, the British Army Recruitment Office and the Ministry of Defence Library since opening in 1910. It’s now a 153-room luxury lifestyle hotel.”

In the early 1990s, The Deluxe Group began working on cruise ships. “We were chosen as a specialist decorative contractor for Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth 2 and some of the first newbuilds in the Disney Cruise Line, Princes Cruises and Royal Caribbean International fleets,” says Hill. 

Through these projects, the company became well-versed with the rigours of outfitting vessels and delivering new high-end spaces in very short timeframes. “We’ve learned how to plan ahead and prefabricate as many elements as possible in our land-based workshop, so we can expedite the installation process during the short time we’re onboard the vessels,” explains Hill. “All of these factors meant we were able to complete a turnkey fit-out of The 19th Hole in just a few weeks.”

However, a stellar reputation for bespoke joinery and high-end refit skills were not the only reason Marella Cruises chose The Deluxe Group. The company’s Theming division has also been a trailblazer in the ‘Experience Economy’, helping to create immersive entertainment attractions for clients across the world. The in-house team of designers, carpenters, artisans and sculptors develop themed joinery, rock work, custom features, props, exterior sets and more.

“We’ve worked on projects for The Walt Disney Company, Universal Studios in Florida, and the Motiongate Dubai theme park – and right now we’re working with another customer to develop large show sets for a ground-breaking new dark ride that uses creative technology to give guests a thrilling experience,” says Hill. “Our team is able to bring this expertise and innovative spirit to the cruise industry to develop attractions like The 19th Hole that truly push the creative boundaries of onboard guest experience.”

Hill expects demand for The Deluxe Group’s unique combination of experience in the luxury interiors market, ship-specific knowledge and innovation in the entertainment sector to grow quickly.

“Cruise ships are becoming destinations in themselves, so operators want to create onboard spaces that are more akin to an experience, and that’s what we specialise in,” says Hill. “It’s an exciting time for us to return to the ship interior sector and we look forward to helping cruise ship operators create interiors that tell authentic stories and elicit a ‘wow’ from their guests.”

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Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
Friday, July 26, 2019