In the race to be bigger and better, somehow cruise ships began looking more like mammoth shopping malls than the stylish seabound vessels of yore that celebrated their oceanic habitat. These three new and forthcoming ships return the focus to the sea, where it should be.
Swiss-Italian cruise company MSC capped out 2017 with the launch of its aptly named Seaside, heralding an age where ship design promises to be more sea-facing. “We wanted to design a ship for warm climates and to create something that connected guests with the ocean. Most cruise ships are designed and engineered to offer entertainment, dining, and other experiences inside the ship. The design of this particular ship features the highest ratio of outdoor spaces of any of our ships and has been designed to be lived and enjoyed outside,” says MSC executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago, who adds that Seaside is designed to emulate the glamorous oceanfront condos of Miami. True to its muse, the aft portion of Seaside features a pool, terraced suites, and twin glass elevators that extend from decks 7 to 16, offering stunning sea views. Seaside also offers the widest oceanfront boardwalk on any ship, lined with stylish dining and drinking options, which, as Vago points out, is situated lower, and therefore closer to the water, than on any other ship, thanks to a design which relocates the ship’s engine room. There are also two glass-floor catwalks extending over the ship’s edge, allowing passengers the unforgettable feeling of walking on water. Admittedly, this is not a new feature on a cruise ship, but the Bridge of Sighs—a 131-foot platform extending over the ship’s 16th deck (giving new meaning to “walking the plank”)—certainly is. Vago is quick to admit that this is his favorite feature, and one that is sure to lure the crowds.
Cutting-edge cruise company Celebrity is launching its first new fleet in ten years. Edge, the first of the feet, will set sail in December 2018. “Our guests kept telling us that they wanted a closer connection to the sea,” explains Celebrity Cruises president and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, speaking to the synthesis of the sea-facing trend. View-centric highlights on Edge include an industry-first “infinite veranda”—an enclosed balcony which allows passengers to increase the lounge area of their staterooms while enjoying a borderless floor-to-ceiling sea view. Lutoff-Perlo explains that this feature “makes the balcony, a space that guests only use 10 percent of the time into a space that they can use 100 percent of the time.” But the true pièce de résistance on this ship is the mobile, tennis-court-size platform that deftly cantilevers off the starboard edge. Throughout the course of the cruise, this engineering feat, deigned by British architect Tom Wright, and lovingly referred to as the “magic carpet” changes from an elite fine-dining platform at the 16th deck summit of the ship to a more casual bar spot on decks 14 and 5. The Magic Carpet hovers just inches above that waterline as a gateway to the exotic ports of call that Edgewill visit.
From lofty heights above the sea we delve into the depths of a ship’s hull for our third game changer: French luxury cruise line Ponant’s Explorers fleet, whose flagship is set to debut in June. Designed by famed French architect Jacques Rougerie, each of the four new ships will feature a submarine Blue Eye Lounge, tucked away in the ship’s hull. “I designed this multisensory underwater lounge in order for it to become enshrined at the heart of the Ponant philosophy. I set out to discover this fragile and exciting ocean world, which covers 71 percent of the planet’s surface and remains a huge mystery for mankind,” Rougerie explains. “[Guests] will be able to observe the fauna and flora of this subaquatic universe and discover its sonorities. For the first time in the world, the public, during a cruise, will be able to ‘feel’ and be at the heart of an underwater world,” he says of the lounge, whose decor is inspired by jellyfish and cetaceans (in fact, the lounge’s two portholes are inspired by the shape of cetaceans’ eyes).