Part 4 of Cruise Ship Interiors through the Decades will take a look at the interiors of Italian Line Raffaelo, the sister ship to Michelangelo, covered in part 3. Raffaello‘s interiors follow a slightly different line to Michelangelo’s, in part due to a choice of different designers. For Raffaello, Italian Line chose contemporary designers with no previous naval experience, including Michele and Giancarlo Busiri Vici, of the famous Busiri Vici architect family. As a result, the interiors of Raffaello received a more modern, futuristic treatment than those of its sister.


Sunk off the coast of Iran, Raffaello is now the largest man-made ecosystem in the Persian Gulf, and can be visited as a diving spot. For more information on the two ships, check out part 3 on Michelangelo. For the interiors of Raffaello, read on…

The first-class foyer on Raffaello – courtesy of Project Michelangelo

The first class foyer on Raffaello, as shown above, is a grand entrance to the ship, with dark wood flooring flanked by floor-to-ceiling windows on either side. The artworks take precedence here, with two mermaid statues from Alessandra Busiri Vici, and a large bas-relief from Francesco Coccia depicting the life and artistic journey of the ship’s namesake.

The two images above of the first class ballroom show how different the area is to that on board Michelangelo. While identical in size and shape, spanning the width of the ship, gone here are the William Morris-inspired textiles and art deco elements. In their place is a striking metallic modernism, with tubular glass chandeliers suspended from large metal beams. The furniture is simple, with clean-lined pale yellow sofas situated around a large dancing area, clearly the focal point of the room. Behind the stage for the orchestra is a large decorative mural, the most colourful element in the space.

The first-class Grand Bar on Raffaello – courtesy of Project Michelangelo

The same seating is present in the first class Grand Bar, albeit in varying shades of brown. The walls of the bar are adorned with artworks that appear as a series. The modern, metallic design of the ballroom is carried through to the bar, with the same silver-clad pillars, and smaller versions of the ballroom’s grand tubular chandeliers.

The image above shows the beautiful first class restaurant on Raffaello, spanning the width of the ship. The organic, flowing form of the ceiling and pillars brings to mind the interior of a cave – albeit a cave designed by an Italian architect in the 60s! These organic shapes cast in white also bring to mind interiors from 2001: Space Odyssey or Star Wars (both released after the build of Raffaello), suggesting the worldwide influence of the space race.

The cabin class veranda, above right, is as space-age as the restaurant, with a simple, almost monochrome colour palette, and a dada-esque mural on the right wall.

The first class suites and cabins as shown above bring a sense of opulence to Raffaello with wood panelling, carpeted floors (as opposed to lino), art on the walls, and most of all, space. The two first class suites are particularly large, and separate the lounge area from the bed area with floor length curtains. The size of the suites allow for the Zanuso-inspired furniture (similarly to Michelangelo) to stand out, especially in the Rosatea suite where the colour choice makes them the centre of the room. The large amount of space for ‘lounging’, comparative to the size of the beds, demotes sleeping to a mere function, as opposed to the luxury it is seen as today.

The laminated wood chest of drawers in the first class cabin is very similar to that on board SS Orcades, with the same rounded style of handle.

The cabin class staterooms do look cheaper, but no less considered than those of the first class. The lino flooring, typical of the time, provides a cheap and easy-to-clean solution. The furniture is simple and clean, with elements of atomic design in the chairs and stools.

Both Raffaello and Michelangelo have their individual charm. While built as sister ships, the two clearly differ in interior design, mostly due to the choice of architects. Italian Line’s decision to make the two the most luxurious and beautiful ships on the seas paid off aesthetically, as we’ve seen in these fantastic photographs from Project Michelangelo.