Celebrity Cruises, the cruise brand known for designing award-winning, stylish ships with stunning onboard spaces that cater to the tastes of discerning cruisers, is tapping into a new resource: the fresh, eager minds of Florida International University (FIU) design students. Last week marked the start of a groundbreaking internship program focused on giving students the opportunity to participate in Celebrity’s ability to create aesthetic beauty in its onboard interior design. Four graduate-level interior design students have the opportunity to make their mark – literally – on Celebrity’s widely anticipated fifth Solstice-class ship, which will set sail in 2012.
 
The students are tasked with working together to update the design of one of the venues on the fifth Solstice-class ship, which will debut in 2012. Their team-based assignment will mirror that of any professional cruise-ship design process, and will include brand immersion, concept development, analysis of the space as a stand-alone venue and as part of the larger ship design. By the end of the program, the students will deliver a full design package for the venue, including all required documentation to secure the successful development, engineering and execution of the design concept. This documentation ranges from the initial inspirations in sketch format to the fully realized accurate computer-generated designs. The project envelope will include not only components related to spatial requirements such as representations of floor layout, walls, ceilings, furniture, finishes and equipment, but also include those components which enhance the unique ambience of every venue, such as signage design, artwork concept, decorative lighting, among others. Celebrity’s own Newbuilding Architectural Design team will then partner with the shipbuilder, Meyer Werft, to bring the students’ plans to life. Construction on the ship is slated to begin in early 2011 at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany.
 
When Celebrity Cruises launched Celebrity Solstice in 2008, it introduced a new era in cruise ship design. Along with Celebrity’s signature extraordinary service and award-winning cuisine, Celebrity Solstice and her four Solstice-class sister ships – two of which are already at sea, with the other two launching in 2011 and 2012 – feature hip, stylish public rooms; larger staterooms inspired by a panel of five women representing a diverse cross-section of discerning travelers; the first solar panels at sea; and the first dedicated glassblowing studio at sea, presented in partnership with the world-renowned Corning Museum of Glass.
 
The ships also offer discerning cruisers the opportunity to enjoy “The Lawn Club,” the first lawn of real, growing grass, where guests can practice their golf putting, play croquet and bocce, or simply feel cool grass beneath their feet while miles out at sea; the first Celebrity iLounge, equipped with MacBook Pros; AquaClass, a category of staterooms inspired by the spa lifestyle; five specialty restaurants; and Team Earth.
 
“Every element of the Solstice-class ships, from the way we laid the staterooms out on each deck to interlock rather than reside side-by-side, to the height and texture of the chairs in the Murano specialty restaurant, is carefully designed to offer our guests an inimitable cruise vacation experience as well as to serve as a functional element of a working, premium hotel,” said Harri Kulovaara, Executive Vice President, Newbuilding and Fleet Design for Celebrity’s parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “When we first designed these industry-changing ships, we engaged a panel of women to help us maximize stateroom innovations. Now, we are tapping into the freshest, brightest minds around – those of students at the FIU Master of Interior Design Program – to take one of the venues on our fifth Solstice Class ship to the next level. We welcome their ideas and our team is poised to guide them through this career-enhancing experience.”
 
“We are thrilled that Celebrity Cruises offered our students the first opportunity of this kind,” said Janine King, IIDA IDEC, Chair of Florida International University’s Department of Interior Design. “Not only will these future designers have hands-on experience, but they will also end up with real plans and real photos of an actual cruise ship venue, when all is said and done, and that’s priceless.”
 
The four students are participants in Florida International University’s School of Architecture Master of Interior Design program, which soon will offer a 15-credit certificate in cruise ship interior design – the only one of its kind in the nation – in its line-up. The school currently offers a six-credit cruise ship design studio taught by Greg Walton of RTKL, one of the design firms that helped to create the Solstice-class ships.
 
The students participating in the project are all second-year graduate students in the interior design master’s degree program. Their international backgrounds illuminate Florida International University’s diverse student makeup. All reside in Miami, but Andrea Leano and Jenny Valencia hail originally from Bogota, Colombia. Sabrina Ocner is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Ismabys Senra is from Havana, Cuba.
 
“We are proud to not only represent FIU and help generate awareness of its great interior design program, but we also are honored to be chosen to share the fresh perspective that so many young people have, and to represent our individual countries,” said Valencia.
 
“It’s really remarkable, being exposed to this opportunity,” said Leano. “We are actually creating something that will be valued by Celebrity’s guests, and that’s something great.”