Scandinavia is home port to some of the world's leading naval architects. Such ships as the Royal Princess, the Royal Viking Sun, and Sea Goddess I and Sea Goddess II have been designed in Scandinavia by architects who are also contemplating the future course of ship design.
"Today's ships are shorter, taller, and more like boxes. They resemble ferries and have much more interior space than conventional ships," said Petter Yran. According to him there will be three groups of passengers ships in the 1990's:
The megaship-trend will continue, carrying upwards from 1,500 passengers.
The second group of ships will be 700 to 1,000 passenger vessels, appealing both to the luxury and mass markets.
The third group will be composed of small luxury ships from 100 to 300 passengers. These ships are very costly to operate, Yran said, and will be targeted to the upscale market. "The overall tendency in the 1990's will be away from the box design we see today and towards more sleek and beautiful ships again," Yran added.
Robert Tilberg believes the ideal size for a ship in the 1990's is best represented by Norwegian Cruise Line' 1,648-passenger Seaward. "Smaller ships are expensive and cannot offer the same type of entertainment possibilities," Tilberg said.
New ships will offer a broader range of facilities, according to Stig Lindberg of the Tilberg architectural firm and project leader of the Seaward. He also believes there will be more conference and meeting facilities on the new ships similar to those found on the ferry cruisers of the Viking Line.
Ships' interiors will also change, according to Njal Eide. "Since there is no hotel to go to on board a cruise ship, there must be enough facilities to interest the passengers - and to engage them during free time and dining," he said. Eide has incorporated a hotel lobby effect in Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's Sovereign of the Seas. He has designed a special atrium in the entrance/lobby area resembling the design of Hyatt hotels.
Yran believes that larger ships will put more emphasis on decorations and a higher standard. There will also be a tendency to go up in cabin size and comforts.
"Previously, the idea was to get the passengers out of their cabins and into the bar. Now many cabins have their own television sets. Since many passengers watch movies and entertain in their cabins, these must be designed to take care of people. The idea now is to have a day and night solution," said Yran.
A case in point is the 200-passenger vessel Yran has designed for Signet Cruises. The average cabin is 27 square meters compared to an industry average between 11 and 13 square meters. The Signet cabins also offer large picture windows.
According to Yran, 80 percent of the passengers are also demanding double beds in the cabins. And on the Sovereign of the Seas all cabins can be changed from two single beds into a double bed. Tilburg has included the same convenience on the Seaward.
Styling and the standard of materials used on cruise ships, regardless of their market, will also improve as part of their competitive edge, Tilberg added, giving as an example his design of the "Crystal Court" lobby on the Seaward. This lobby is two stories high and its focal point is a cascading fountain featuring a crystal sculpture and marble pool made of Finnish graphite.
Tillberg also predicts a great improvement in the overall lighting aboard cruise ships. Already, new ships have 50 percent more lamps than ships from only a few years back, he said.
Bjorn Naerstad, Senior Architect of Ship Designers at Platou Architects, sees more cruise lines moving into their own niches with cruise ship designs tailored to their own markets.
In the refurbishment of older ships, designers believe in recreating the nostalgic flavor of the past. By keeping the traditional look of older, refurbished ships, their unique ambiance will set them apart from modern ships, Naerstad said.
The 628-passenger Monterey is a good example of keeping the old traditions among the new, according to Naerstad, who said he has designed the ship's interior with an elegant traditional look to differentiate the ship with a classic ambiance.
In Scandinavia, the architects tend to agree on the increasing need for a ship to be able to distinguish itself, also by design, in the market. It should be part of the marketing concept, commented one cruise line executive working closely on new ship design.