Cruise & Ferry Interiors 2021

1 2 regularly update both a book and a computer file with new ideas – it’s my personal research and development library,” he says. “We have our design staples, and we know that we need to include a certain number of lounges, bars, restaurants, but there’s always the opportunity to accommodate something different to complement what we have and expand the guest experience. “There is an element of risk when you introduce new ideas, but it’s calculated and we have a lot of very good people who are experts in their field. For example, our head of food and beverage has amazing vision and incredible ideas. We’ve already been through months and months of work and presentations, continually refining our proposed ideas until we get them to a level where they’re ready to share with our chairman. And, if the proposal is good enough, he will sign off the investment.” As would be expected in a family business, everyone at MSC Cruises is deeply involved in the shipbuilding process. “Vago is very much on the technical, layout and new ideas side whereas Rafaela Aponte is particularly immersed in our interiors and so is Alexa Aponte-Vago [Vago’s wife and chief financial officer of MSC Group],” says Young. “You can see that they love it. The family makes sure that we’re all working towards the same goal and staying true to the brand.” With so much focus on achieving perfection being driven from within the family, it can be challenging for some of MSC Cruises’ design and build partners. “I wouldn’t say it’s a dream ride for them,” jokes Young. “We certainly challenge our partners but we’re fair and the work is immensely rewarding. We’re loyal too – we have worked with many of our trusted partners for 20 years or more. “We’re fortunate to have such good design partners in De Jorio Design International, Tillberg Design of Sweden and SMC Design and AD Associates to mention a few – good relationships lead to great design. Over the years we have developed and maintained countless important relationships, down to the smallest niche suppliers.” These relationships with smaller suppliers are apparent in the company’s approach to owner’s supply. “We take responsibility for a lot of items that would normally be considered as part of the shipyard’s supply contract because we’re quite specific about what we want,” explains Young. “For example, when it comes to loose furniture which might typically be included in the contract price where the yard has a budget, we’ll do it ourselves because we want to retain control of the design narrative. We organise a lot of the lighting and fixed furniture too – often working with the same subcontractors as the yard and of course it’s always completely transparent.” When designing MSC Virtuosa, which debuted in May 2021, MSC Cruises improved a lot of design details from previous ships in the Meraviglia and Meraviglia Plus class. “The pub is a good example – in previous iterations the wood looked too new for the historied venue that we were aiming to create, so we searched harder for new wood that looks old and the impact is significantly better,” says Young. “There are a lot of similar tweaks and upgrades throughout the ship. Some changes are more obvious, like the fine dining restaurant which now has French-Asian flavoured design characteristics. Others are more subtle, such as all of the technology, which is continuously advancing.” Some seemingly simple changes took considerable effort to implement. “We decided to increase the size of the televisions from 32 to 42 inches, which might sound simple, but it requires a fundamental redesign of certain things and so prompts numerous discussions, sourcing of samples, working with the shipyard and putting it into the processing line,” explains Young. “We’re working on a project to change the KEYNOTE MSC Cruises ships offer interactive entertainment for guests of all ages