A Garden Symphony on the High Seas
Embarking on a cruise is an adventure. On the world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, there is no shortage of discoveries to capture travelers’ attention. This includes a lush, green oasis not many would expect to find while cruising.
Exploring the ship
At 1,184 feet long by 214 feet wide, with a gross tonnage of 228,081, the Symphony of the Seas is a colossal ship. And it features a nearly endless list of activities. Theatre, live music, water slides, zip-lining, laser tag, ice skating, and even robot bartenders – the ship has it all.
The ship’s 6,680 passengers can enjoy seven “neighborhoods,” each offering unique experiences. Central Park, an open-air green space that provides a peaceful escape and allows cruisers to be fully surrounded by nature while in the middle of the sea, is one of these. Home to 20,000+ plants, including two resplendent living green walls, Central Park landscape was designed and installed by Ambius, the world’s largest interior landscaper.
International execution plan
Her maiden voyage set sail in April 2018 out of Barcelona, Spain. Installing Central Park involved a sophisticated, execution plan that began years ahead of its launch.
Creating the experience took close collaboration between Ambius and Royal Caribbean’s architects, engineers, consultants, and project managers. The Ambius cross-continental team of 39 people, led by Senior Project Manager Denise Eichmann, was up for the challenge.
Choosing plant species that could weather a swing in climates was critical to success. The Ambius team meticulously selected a mix of broadleaf evergreens, grasses, ferns, and hardier tropical species.
To secure the more than 10,000 plants needed for the green walls, the Ambius team turned to a Netherlands greenhouse. Here the plants were cultivated for months before being carefully shipped to Spain to begin the final two-week installation process. Although, many weeks of preparation work and hardware implementation take place months in advance.
A monumental achievement
The green walls are the living centerpieces at the heart of the Symphony of the Seas Central Park. Towering 5 decks high and delighting travelers, each vertical garden measures 40 feet tall by 24 feet wide.
Central Park includes 10,000 shrubs, 53 tropical trees, 47 raised planter beds, 1,700 aluminum planting modules, and 60 custom vines. An onboard landscape specialist now cares for 43 plant species in total, overseeing 3 Central Park gardeners.
“It was great to see it all come together,” Eichmann said of being part of bringing this opus achievement to life. “This being our fourth ‘Garden at Sea’ project, we knew the level of work and collaboration it would take. However, when the final plantings are installed and we step back to take it in, there is such an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, knowing the joy and wonder this will bring to cruisers. It’s a testament to the vision and teamwork it takes to make it happen.”