Luxe has a new face and it’s stone, glass and wood. However, when you want to use these materials on a cruise ship, there are some additional considerations that must be thought about. Here’s how cruise ship operators integrate the material into their vessels.

Firstly, how does SOLAS affect materials?

Before we get into the interior design elements of cruise liners, it’s important to touch upon some vital regulations which greatly impact the type of materials that can be used on a ship. The International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) updates to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulations back in July of 2016 impacted nearly all maritime shipping – including cruise liners.

This regulation requires the ships to provide a complete weight certificate which exhibits the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) of the ship and its contents to ensure that the vessel is safe to set sail. This international legislation also guides cruise line operators on the total weight of the ship and, thus, the types of material that can be used in the interior design.

The Piazza del Doge on board the MSC Divina

Wood-effect vs glass and stone

Materials like glass and stone are popular choices for cruise ships as they satisfy the conditions of another aspect of IMO regulation – they are not flammable. Wood was a popular material for cruise ship interiors until the 1997 SOLAS regulations, designed to prevent fires after a swathe of tragedies at sea, led to old ships’ interiors being gutted and new design ways set for the future. Cruise suppliers have invested in developing synthetic wood-effect materials to ensure designers and cruise lines can deliver a range of brand identities. However, some designers and liners seek to give a natural effect and use natural materials.

Glass and stone are good solutions for the designer, outfitter or supplier hoping to create natural-effect designs. These are not always the perfect solution: designers, suppliers and outfitters should be conscious of the weight load so as to still comply with SOLAS. To keep the weight of the ship perfectly balanced, it is preferable to use lighter materials at the top of the ship.

Glass and stone interiors

Stone can be the perfect construction material to create IMO- and SOLAS-approved interiors while embodying a style or brand. YSA Design sourced Italian soft stone to craft the doorways aboard the Costa Venezia, lending an authentic touch to a ship designed to bring Venetian style to the Chinese cruise market. MSC have opted for a similar approach with MSC Divina, boldly constructing an entire piazza, the Piazza del Doge, out of stone. With this the design truly reflects a Mediterranean-feel for their Med-bound cruise ship.


Interior design has reacted to the ‘wellness’ trend and call to reconnect with nature by bringing the outdoor in. Designs that create outdoor spaces within indoor areas aren’t just popular in homes, they are trending in cruise ship interiors design. Companies such as Glass Inspiration offer innovative glass lamination solutions for yacht and cruise. They can press a range of natural and non-natural materials between glass layers, allowing passengers to be surrounded by nature that will last the entirety of their cruise and beyond. The materials include striking features of nature such as grass and skeleton leaves. Coral Expeditions’ expedition vessel Adventurer recognises its passengers’ love of nature by including natural details such as a large wine table topped with stone.


Silver Muse, Lobby, Dolce Vita

When a priority for the cruise design has to be enhancing a sense of luxury, there are very few better materials to do this than sleek glass and natural stone. Marble is a favourite with cruise lines with luxe brands. Silversea’s Silver Muse features a gleaming marble lobby augmented by plush carpet and rich ceiling panelling. Seven Seas’ ultra-luxury vessel Explorer is famously clad throughout with ambitious amounts of Italian Carrara marble and stone.

New to cruise

IMO and SOLAS regulations should be the first stop for any Outfitter or Designer who is new to cruise. Even materials that pass IMO certification can come up against SOLAS regulations, such as weight distribution. So those who are new to cruise should consider the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of their products and designs in addition to their product materials.

Interested in learning more and meeting the biggest names in cruise interiors face-to-face? Then be sure to attend Cruise Ship Interiors Design Expo Americas. Find out about the next event here.