Taking back the sea for immersive adventures

Cruise ship operators should seek inspiration from superyacht designers to create onboard spaces that will engender a connection between their guests and the sea

Taking back the sea for immersive adventures
Large cruise vessels could be configured with an internal dry dock to provide a special re-embarkation experience for guests

When guests are sailing on a large cruise vessel, there are so many exciting onboard distractions that they may sometimes forget they are on a ship at sea. Even for those who come on deck to enjoy the sun and sea breeze, the ocean can be little more than a backdrop, with the waves breaking out of earshot 18 decks below. 

The pre-Covid boom in expedition voyaging showed that seasoned cruise guests are seeking immersive adventures, hence all the major cruise brands are investing in these vessels. While luxury and comfort are prerequisites for guests on these ships, their main draw is they can sail emission-free in environmentally sensitive destinations, taking guests close to nature without damaging it. Analogous thinking is behind the viewing platforms, boat storage and launch facilities, laboratories and audio-visual aids that engage guests emotionally and intellectually.  

In between polar seasons, expedition vessels cruise in tropical climes, suggesting there are opportunities for ships to be built specifically for this type of itinerary. And they will likely be in high demand if operators make the sea the star attraction.  

Cruise operators could follow the lead of superyacht designers who have kept connections with the water firmly in mind by deploying sea-deck level pools and fold-out platforms. Likewise, cruise operators could add a marina in the aft section to enable guests to touch the water or start their day with a swim or a waterside coffee. By night, the same area could serve as a seafood barbeque venue. Meanwhile, a series of hull shell doors that open out at sea level could create a zone of waterside attractions featuring a beach club, a spa or al fresco dining.  

Expedition operators can also ‘take back the sea’ by incorporating promenades that extend from a ship’s top deck to the bow and round to the aft deck, providing opportunities for guests to follow ocean wildlife.  

These ideas could be considered for large cruise ships too. For example, a ship featuring an internal ‘dry dock’ protected by shell doors could accommodate tender boats for excursions to places it cannot reach and provide a spectacular re-embarkation point for guests. 

The thrill of new shipboard entertainment options will always be seductive for cruise guests, but it is essential to remember that the sea is exciting, relaxing and therapeutic in its own right. In these environmentally conscious times, the primeval call of the oceans is once more gaining strength. Certainly, ignoring the possibilities for offering sea-level experiences on ships is comparable to building a hilltop house that is so driven by its internal functionality that the architect ends up bricking over the beautiful view of the valley below. 

Trond Sigurdsen is chairman of YSA Design 

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

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By Trond Sigurdsen
17 May 2022

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