Smart thinking for sustainable cruise ship design

Partnering with design companies can help cruise operators to ensure their ships are designed in a socially, environmentally and economically sustainable way

Smart thinking for sustainable cruise ship design
TDoS transformed a buffet onboard one of P&O Australia’s cruise ships into a food court serving food on plates to cut waste by almost 50 per cent

Yesterday was about being strong but today is about being smart. Six months ago, the focus of cruise magazine articles was on one of two things: the fast expansion of the industry or how green technology could be used to reduce the environmental impact of cruising. The general consensus was that the way for cruise and ferry operators to go green was to expand their fleets.

However, the pandemic has brought the need for these operators to find ways to balance their investments in green technology with solutions that will help to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 on their vessels. One option would be for companies to invest in smart air conditioning systems, which would not only be greener and save money, but would also improve onboard air quality to prevent viruses spreading. Similarly, they could invest in a smart adaptive lighting system that will cost-effectively enhance the guest experience, while at the same time use ultraviolet light to kill microbes.

Operators will also have to adapt their ships to facilitate social distancing, which will be a game changer. In fact, it may transform the onboard experience for the better – for example, more efficient and less crowded embarkation processes are long overdue. And would replacing the traditional buffet with a modern food court that serves plated dishes be such a bad thing? It would be more hygienic and reduce food waste.

All these changes will come with a cost, but by partnering with design companies, they can find ways to reconfigure their onboard venues to optimise space. For example, we can use new digital tools to quickly try new layouts to improve the capacity of a restaurant without increasing the size.

The current health crisis has a lot in common with the ongoing climate crisis and, to be successful in fighting them both, we need open collaboration between all parties. If we are to design in a socially, environmentally and economically sustainable way, we must understand human behaviours, technological possibilities and the operational challenges of our industry.

Per Eriksson is a senior architect and business director at Tillberg Design of Sweden

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

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By Per Eriksson
10 December 2020

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