The idea that cruise ships are holding ‘secrets’ away from the eyes of the unaware passenger is one that is deeply rooted in cruise fan mythology. However, cruise ships do undoubtedly feature many hidden design gems, whether these are rooted in history, tradition, or just a reward for those passengers going the extra mile. In this article we take a look at four of our favourite hidden design gems.

A tribute to the hard work of the team on Costa Smeralda

In a recent interview with Matteo Vercelloni, one of the senior team responsible for the CoDe collection on Costa Smeralda, we were told an interesting story about the ‘cornershop’. In Matteo’s words:

“In the original project we were supposed to have a cornershop, with merchandise in it. Unfortunately, this didn’t go ahead, so the cornershop was left empty! So I talked to Adam (Tihany, lead designer for Smeralda) and we thought we’d make a fake library. While I was in London I went to an exhibition, which contained a fake library [‘The British Library’ by Yinka Shonibare CBE at Tate Modern] which I was inspired by.

So we designed all the fake books, the covers and the spines, and dedicated every book to the people working on the ship. There’s also a section containing the most important books of Italian design history – a total of about 25 books. And that was the solution for this empty corner!”

The Pig and Whistle – a crew tradition on Cunard ships

The crew bar on Cunard ships is always called “The Pig and Whistle” (often shortened to The Pig by crew members), after the nearest pub to where Cunard ships would historically dock in Liverpool. A longstanding tradition, the Pig can be seen in old videos such as this one of a crew member’s birthday. Originally, the Pig was a baggage handling area towards the front of RMS Queen Mary, which the crew occupied while at sea for relaxing, drinking, and playing games – over time, it became the the name for the crew bar across the Cunard fleet.

The Stockholm bell on CMV Astoria

Although sadly now under administration, Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ (CMV) ships still carry plenty of history. CMV Astoria, after being renamed from Azores, started life as Stockholm in 1946. In 1956, during heavy fog, Stockholm collided with the Italian liner Andria Doria, which was fatally damaged and sank after 12 hours afloat. During the collision, Stockholm’s ships bell was caught in Andria Doria’s wreckage, and sank with the rest of the Italian ship. Some years later, a diver at the scene salvaged the ships bell, and through a series of trades it ended up back in the hands of CMV in 2015. Since then, the Stockholm bell has been proudly displayed in a glass cabinet near the entrance of the piano bar on Astoria, representing a tragic piece of history, and serving as a note of interest for passengers. Find out more about that collision here.

Disney Cruise Line ‘Hidden Mickeys’

Disney Cruise Line have successfully created the Disney magic for both children and adults on their cruise ships. In addition to the expected amenities on board (restaurants, recreation areas, pools), Disney have also hidden the famous Mickey Mouse insignia in various places through their ships. Known to Disney mega-fans as ‘hidden Mickeys’, these can be found, for example, on the footrests of the bar stools in Rockin’ D Bar on Disney Magic, in paintings in different areas, or even in the arrangement of plates in The Golden Mickeys show.

Have you noticed any hidden design gems, or design Easter Eggs, on cruise ships? Let us know by getting in touch!