How to create the next generation of expedition cruise ships

Trond Sigurdsen explains why YSA Design is designing retractable marinas, infinity pools and more

How to create the next generation of expedition cruise ships
Infinity pools with reinforced glass side panels cane be installed low on the ship's stern so swimmers can see the view at water level (Image: YSA Design)

By Guest |

Radical design thinking is pivotal when it comes to creating the new generation of expedition ships that will take adventurous cruise passengers closer to remote natural wonders than ever before. Passengers are expecting truly life-changing experiences and these vessels need to be designed to deliver just that.

Whether the ships are bound for polar seas, the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon or Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, the designer’s job is to ensure that they enable cruise guests to get as close as possible to wildlife without distractions. Expedition cruisers are seasoned travellers who set out in search of an experience of a lifetime, or even a life-changing experience, and part of that is delivered by proximity to the elements and nature, or even ‘touching’ the water. For the designer, this means that the area for the launch and recovery of tender boats and Zodiacs is a significant feature. Passengers want to get as close as possible to wildlife, which calls for the ships to have low open promenades that do not block balcony views and also provide access to the observation deck via stairs running under (or behind) the bridge wings, so people can follow creatures as they pass by.

YSA Design has developed a series of features for ongoing projects that mean expedition cruise passengers can make the most of their surroundings. They include the infinity pool, which can be installed low down at the ship’s stern and has a side panel made from reinforced glass so swimmers can see the view at water level. Retractable marinas have quickly become expedition ship ‘must haves’ too.

Expedition cruise passengers also expect authenticity; they want to feel that they are onboard a ship following the route of illustrious names in exploration, not floating on a self-contained holiday destination. On the one hand, a passenger might need space to get into a polar suit, either in their cabin or in a specially designed mud room. On another, passengers buy into the concept of taking a voyage onboard a rugged vessel designed to instil confidence in its ability to handle rough weather.

YSA Design always aims to create a pioneering ‘look and feel’ when choosing materials for ship interiors. Where technical elements are prominent, for example, it highlights them as decorative motifs. The team also uses tactile and sustainable materials, or design elements such as sails and rigging, if the intention is to amplify the relationship between man and nature.

In addition, YSA Design has been helping shipowners and shipyards to include onboard laboratories to research waters the ship sails through and immediately share their findings with passengers. Inquisitive cruise passengers are entertained by intellectual stimulation. They are best served by crystal-clear acoustics in a lecture theatre, or immersive LED surround walls that enable them to browse multiple web pages to research wildlife. These are already used to good effect on larger cruise ships.

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