What is a cruise ship prototype?

A prototype is essentially the template or blueprint for a cruise ship and a prototype is used to build a group of ships known as classes, usually formed of four to five ships. Each prototype that we design has a clear vision and concept based around creating a unique experience for our guests and we name the class after the first ship we build from each prototype. For example, the Meraviglia prototype was designed as the ship for all seasons where we maximised the indoor areas and the indoor promenade is the central hub of the ship, making this a good ship for winter in the Mediterranean or Northern Europe. The Seaside prototype was designed for warmer climates such as the Caribbean, with the flow of the ship encouraging guests to the plentiful outdoor spaces. We have currently designed six prototypes.


Are all ships in a class the same?

Ships in a class are of course very similar as they are based on the same prototype, but each and every ship we build is different with enhancements and improvements as well as new features. Experience and time allow us to play around with different elements of each design and to find new ways to evolve spaces that we hadn’t thought of the first time around. For instance, MSC Seashore is based on the Seaside prototype however, this ship is a larger version in this class and we have actually enhanced the design of almost 65% of the ship.


How do you make sure prototypes remain relevant?

It’s important to keep in mind that the life expectancy of a ship is 25+ years, so designs need to not only be relevant for today’s needs and preferences, but they need to be future proofed, so that they remain relevant for years to come. We need to look towards the future, while designing for today.


What is the design process?

When designing a ship, we start with thinking about our guests needs and aspirations and we have to think 20 to 30 years into the future to ensure that the ships we build today will still be relevant in the future. We also need to consider the areas where we want to deploy our ships as this also impacts the design. A new prototype takes a long time to refine and we work closely with our shipyard partners, operations, marketing, focus groups, etc to always create something new and innovative.


How are ships built?

Ships are essentially made up of blocks and it takes around 18 months to two years to build a new ship from cutting the first steel to delivery of the ship. Small steel blocks are built and then combined together to form what we call mega-blocks. These are then placed together from the bottom up, almost like big LEGO bricks At the moment we have four ships under construction – MSC Vituosa, MSC World Europa, MSC Seashore and another Seaside Evo ship that we have not yet named.


How are the interiors designed?

We treat the interior design of the ship as if we were designing a home and we are known for our distinctive European style. Every ship is different in terms of its colour palate, furnishings, artwork and finishing touches. Everything is handpicked for each ship and as we are a family company, the family play a big role in terms of the choices we make. A key element is to ensure that the spaces we create are authentic so for example, HOLA! Tapas Bar needs to feel like an authentic Spanish restaurant or it will fall flat. For other areas, colours and lighting can be very important. Different areas need to flow together organically and elicit the right emotions in guests. We want guests to experience a story as they travel through the ship.

One of the key factors in successful interior design is lighting – this makes up a third of the design process. An area can be designed with the most amazing features, furniture and artworks but if it is not lit correctly the area will fall flat. We also consider very carefully the lighting from day to night. If done properly with the interior design you can effectively create two rooms in one, just using different light sources, temperatures, etc. One of my pet hates is down lights, non-dimmable lights and wrong light temperature. This in my opinion should be used for a specific purpose you end with an area that is not utilised or enjoyed by our guests.