May 30, 2024
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A Verandah Suite on the Scenic Eclipse II is designed with calming colours to enhance relaxation. In contrast, bold shades are featured in public spaces, like restaurants, to bring energy and excitement.Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours

Behind every stateroom on a cruise ship is a team of designers sweating over every detail, from mirror shape and faucet finishes to the location of electrical outlets. Hundreds of decisions go into the final design to create a welcoming space that passengers can enjoy for the duration of their journey.

Striking the right balance between function and fashion is always the challenge. While current trends are baked into the esthetics, every stateroom needs to meet the practical everyday needs of guests, like luggage storage, comfy beds and spacious bathrooms.

Since 1999, interior designer Michelle Colangelo, owner of Enviroscapes, in Miami, has been working with leading cruise lines, such as Carnival Cruise Line and Oceania Cruises, through a partnership with Studio Dado Inc., to develop inviting staterooms. Nailing down a final look for a model stateroom to roll out ship wide can take more than a year.

“While trends come and go, the focus on comfort remains a top priority,” she says. “Passengers may spend a week or more on board a ship and their staterooms need to be their own private oasis. That’s one reason why you see soothing colours used so widely. The spaces need to be calming and relaxing for people on vacation. In contrast, bold shades are featured in public spaces, like restaurants, to bring energy and excitement.”

These days, cabins and suites lean toward earthy, neutral tones – think mushroom beiges and warm greys – to create a homey vibe with pops of colour thrown in to build visual interest.

“Hotel design used to be what influenced the look of cruise ships,” explains Colangelo. “Now, it’s residential design that is a major factor in hospitality. Guests want to feel as comfortable in their staterooms as they do at home.”

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Scenic’s Senses Spas feature generously sized tubs, dual steam showers with colour light therapy and spa day beds.Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours

The desire for a home away from home also puts textures front and centre with the emphasis on what Colangelo calls “feel-good materials” – inviting to the touch. They might include a velvety throw pillow, a cashmere blanket draped over a chair, or finely woven sheets with embroidered accents that create understated glamour.

As well, the drive for a more residential look is steering designers away from the usual strong, crisp- lines esthetic. It’s all in the details now with ornate crown moulding, curvy mirrors with filigree accents and bed headboards made from embossed leather or plush tufted versions. The out-of-the-box esthetic of an industrial/institutional feel has lost its appeal among many interior designers.

Bathrooms have become bigger over the years, as guests seek spa-like, in-room experiences. For example, the luxurious Owner’s Penthouse Suites on Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours’ Eclipse vessels features generously sized tubs, dual steam showers with colour light therapy and spa day beds.

Sustainability is a topic that’s also trending in cruise-ship design. Companies are adding environmentally friendly features, such as LED lights, and raw materials like 100-per-cent-wool carpeting made without dyes. They’re also doing due diligence in selecting partners and suppliers that prioritize using sustainable materials and manufacturing processes.

Cutting waste has gained wide acceptance. Some cruise lines are choosing to reupholster chairs and sofas instead of discarding them and buying new ones. TUI River Cruises recycled fishing nets into carpets for their vessels. German manufacturer Continental AG is repurposing coffee grounds and turning them into synthetic leather used for cruise ships.

Watch for “biophilic design” in the cruise ship and hospitality spaces. (Biophilia is the human desire to connect with nature.) Designers are maximizing natural light in staterooms, bringing in more organic materials like untreated wood, cotton, clay and ceramics, and incorporating plant motifs.

“Passengers may be surprised to learn how much customization happens in a stateroom, from furniture pieces and artwork to tiny details, like drawer pulls,” Colangelo notes. “Every cruise company is looking to differentiate themselves through the design of their ships. And, as designers, we’re always looking to push the envelope with our creativity.”


Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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