Over the course of two days, visitors gathered at Cruise Conversations Live 2022 to learn the latest trends and find solutions to the biggest challenges. The industry’s leading cruise lines, design firms, outfitters and suppliers united for two days to share their expert insights. The conversation ranged from shining a light on real-life solutions to the ongoing supply chain issues to which new design trends are getting these precedent-setters excited.

In this article, we have curated our top six takeaways from Cruise Conversations Live. Read on for the latest insights into upcoming trends, sustainability solutions and more!

1. Cruise lines are sourcing more locally

In the opening ‘Leaders’ Debate’ keynote, taking place on day one of CSI 2022, leading cruise line representatives reflected on the industry’s current opportunities and challenges. These included the strain on global supply chains, coupled with delivery delays and import restrictions. The panel discussed how this caused them to rethink their suppliers, with Trevor Young sharing that MSC Cruises has started sourcing from European suppliers that are more local to shipyards. He further went on to share how this has encouraged MSC Cruises to source more locally going forward due to the similarity in quality and cost to Asian suppliers.

The ‘Leaders Debate’ keynote saw key players in the industry weigh in on current opportunities and challenges faced by the industry

Thomas Westergaard (Hurtigruten Expeditions) also argued that sourcing locally provides cruise lines with a big opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint from reduced fuel emissions caused by transporting goods over long distances.

“What’s really interesting is how the supply chain strategy also fits into the company’s sustainability strategy. So, what is the reason to ship deck furniture all the way from China because we’re chasing that mighty dollar saving? If that’s the only reason, does that fit with our sustainability promise?”

Thomas Westergaard, Hurtigruten Expeditions

2. New players like Virgin Voyages and Ritz-Carlton are encouraging more first-time cruisers

To conclude the opening ‘Leaders’ Debate’ keynote, the panel weighed in on the industry’s current trends. Sascha Lang shared how at Royal Caribbean Cruises, they are seeing a growth in family vacations post-COVID. This has also increased the number of multigenerational family vacations spanning across three generations. Another key trend the panel explored was the influx of first-time cruisegoers driven to the market by new players. With land-based resorts broadening their product to include cruises, this will open the market up to the brands’ current customers, which, the panel argued, is vital to the growth of the industry.

“What I’m encouraged by is the new players that are coming into the market, such as Virgin Voyages and Ritz-Carlton. They’re all coming in with their own database of guests that stay in their hotels and fly on their airlines that might not necessarily look at a cruise as a vacation, but now they will.”

Trevor Young, MSC Cruises
Trevor Young commented on how new players are driving increased interest in cruise vacations

3. Diverse teams are the key to pushing the boundaries of cruise design

In the session ‘What Makes Great Design Great’, a panel of speakers representing the industry’s biggest design firms explored what goes into making a cruise interior design excel. In particular, the speakers highlighted the need for a diverse team made up of players with unique skillsets. This, they argued, is key to encouraging great design solutions and out of the box thinking. This is accelerated by team members challenging each other throughout the design process. Trond Sigurdsen (YSA Design) explained, “I normally compare it to a football team. You need so many diverse players.”

In ‘What Makes Great Design Great’, the panel shared their advice for building excellent design teams

Andy Yuill (SMC Design) also highlighted the importance of constantly bringing in new, young talent to offer a fresh perspective and ensure cruise design doesn’t get stale.

“The management is strong and that is so important, but the team is always evolving, and you’re always bringing in the best players. You’re always bringing in new, young creative people.”

Andy Yuill, SMC Design

4. Communication is necessary for preventing product delivery challenges

Refurbishment projects have been impacted by the worldwide pressures on availability of raw materials and distribution constraints, which has led to reduced choice and extended delivery lead times. In ‘Addressing Project Delivery Challenges’, several key players from across the supply chain weighed in on the ways in which the industry can tackle the challenges faced by various stakeholders surrounding this issue.

The panel all agreed on one thing: communication across the supply chain is key to developing a streamlined operation. John Paul Brigneti (JPB Global Trade Solutions) noted that when communication is poor, it leads to higher costs and wasted time. Additionally, when buyers and vendors seek the cheapest options, this usually results in materials being sourced from across the world, creating delivery challenges.

Communication and collaboration became the buzzwords of ‘Addressing Project Delivery Challenges’

The focus then turned to how this could be remedied, with the panel stressing the importance of planning as early as possible and increased communication with stakeholders.

“Planning is always good to start early, so we have the chance, or the turnkey has a chance, to actually double check the materials, look for availability and purchase in time. Then we know when the dry dock is there, we have all the materials already shipped.”

Helena Sawelin, Tillberg Design of Sweden

5. Collaboration is the key to making cruise design more sustainable

Day two of CSI 2022 was themed around sustainability, with conference sessions centred around this increasingly important topic. In ‘Designing to Last’, leading designers representing Studio DADO, Virgin Voyages, Holland America Group, Royal Caribbean Group, and Studio Berg took to the stage to offer their takes on how cruise design can become more sustainable. Discussions included sustainable design trends, the need for new standards and regulations, and the importance of waste management. However, one thing that became clear was that this can only be achieved through industry-wide collaboration.

“I’ve been inspired from the beginning of the pandemic. We started this theme of community over competition, especially for this industry which is very close-knit, very bespoke, and nothing makes me more happy than to look across different cruise brands, designers and visionaries and talk about how we need to do that more. Sharing our lessons learned, sharing our ideas, especially around the topic of sustainability, which is a really big animal that we can chip away at.”

My Nguyen, Holland America Group
cruise ship interiors expo 2022 sustainable conference session
‘Designing to Last’ saw leading designers weigh in on how cruise design could become more sustainable

One way the panel suggested the cruise community could collaborate towards a sustainable future would be in setting universal sustainability standards and regulations for suppliers to meet, similar to current standards such as IMO requirements. The panel argued that with one set standard for suppliers to meet, this would overall provide more consistency and clarity for all.

“For me, it’s about sustainability becoming a standard in our design practice so the same way you think about ergonomics, ADA requirements, IMO requirements, sustainability requirements. It just needs to be right through all our thought processes.”

Dee Cooper, Virgin Voyages

6. Upcycling is cruise interiors’ next big sustainable design trend

For our final Cruise Conversations Live 2022 key takeaway, we look at a sustainable cruise design trend introduced in ‘Designing to Last’. In this session, the panel shared that when sourcing suppliers, they are increasingly looking for higher-quality products that will last longer. However, they also acknowledged the difficulty of buying and maintaining the same products and materials in the long term on board cruise ships, which undergo refurbishments every three to five years. Their solution? Upcycling.

Petra Ryberg (Studio Berg) gave an example of a recent refit project where she decided to include existing design elements in the new design rather than removing them as the owner originally intended. This led to a discussion on how designers can keep original pieces of an interior while updating the overall style and design of a space. One example included flipping furniture, where designers could upcycle furniture pieces with new upholstery.

“I think of design in general as multi layers. You have your hardware, your architecture, your finishes, so to me sustainable design would be classic lasting bones with interchangeable parts.”

My Nguyen, Holland America Group

Want to catch more leading insights and expert-led conversations surrounding cruise interiors’ biggest challenges and upcoming trends? Find out about the next edition of Cruise Ship Interiors Design Expo Americas here.