With the desire to build larger and larger ships came the need to accelerate the production process. Ensuring ships weren’t sitting in shipyards year after year, while retaining the ability to push the boundaries (in terms of size) of what a cruise ship could be, became a budget-driven goal for cruise lines. A key time-saving idea put into use in modern shipbuilding is creating prefabricated private and public areas that could ‘slot in’ to the overall structure of the ship – which itself would likely also come together from multiple prefabricated sections. As put succinctly in an article from Cadmatic, “The introduction of prefabrication, modularisation and partitioning in shipbuilding goes hand in hand with the evolution of ship size and technology in general.”

Prefab structures are not a new idea – in 1908, gold prospectors were able to order homes in kit form by mail order in the United States, allowing them to move around and quickly construct accommodation wherever needed. In shipbuilding, prefabrication techniques were employed to quickly build US warships in World War Two, bringing the production time of those ships down from ~8 months to mere weeks, or even days.

Ensuring that cabins are a balance of comfort and style is a key aim for a cruise interior designer. So how is this taken into account when considering the prefab nature of the build process? Is it possible to create prefabricated cabins en masse while retaining the bespoke nature of good cruise interior design? In this article, we take a look at the prefab cabin service from three cruise industry giants in an attempt to shine some light on the process.

ALMACO – Swan Hellenic SH Minerva

ALMACO was recently awarded the contract for the supply of cabins to Swan Hellenic’s new Vega project vessels. ALMACO are no stranger to prefab cabins, having built or refurbished over 25,000 cabins and public spaces since 1998. Utilising a modular cabin technology when building cabin areas, ALMACO’s cabins are pre-assembled in a temporary factory situated near the shipyard. This mobile ‘Cabin Factory’ concept allows for quicker turnaround, improved quality control, and flexibility in scheduling of cabin installation for newbuilds and refurbishments.

The Vega project ships, including SH Minerva, are described by Swan Hellenic as ‘five-star elegant Scandi-design boutique’ ships – and the cabins ALMACO are providing for the project are no exception. Decked out in light wood panelling, with hints of green in the soft furnishing, the cabins combine scandi-luxe with the natural inspiration of expedition cruising.

R&M – AIDAprima

Established more than 130 years ago, Rheinhold & Mahla (R&M) have a long history providing a range of services. Their established cruise industry segment supplies ‘steel to steel’ turnkey solutions for all types of cruise ships, and includes prefabricated public areas, passenger cabins, crew areas, and utility areas.

R&M’s website advocates the benefits of prefab cabins:

“A fast and professional manufacturing process and short delivery times ensure their seamless integration into the ship’s ongoing construction process.”

For AIDAprima, R&M supplied engineering and consulting services, project coordination and supervision, and production and installation of suites, passenger cabins, and crew cabins. AIDAprima features a range of 13 different cabins and suites, with slightly differing designs. The range of cabins includes a design feature above the beds akin to a traditional poster bed crossed with a circus tent, with colours signifying the type of cabin – light blue for an inside cabin, red for a comfort veranda cabin, turquoise for a panoramic cabin, and so on. In the suites the design is slightly more upmarket, with an interesting slatted wood feature wall, and hints of mustard yellow in the soft furnishings.

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EMS PreCab – Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas

EMS PreCab are partners of shipbuilding giants Meyer Werft, producing around 6000 cabins a year for the shipyard. Utilising the production principles of the automobile industry, EMS PreCab ensure a high level of quality with every cabin. EMS Precab’s website sets out their goal clearly:

“It is our aim to provide our customers with a fully equipped cabin including media technology, bathroom accessories, and artwork on the wall.”

Interestingly, EMS PreCab manufacture their cabins without a floor, with the ship’s deck later forming the floor. Despite this, cabins are still delivered with appropriate flooring, beds, and other loose furniture. Once in position on board, the cabins just need connecting to the water, ventilation, and electricity supply, and they’re ready to go. For Quantum of the Seas, EMS PreCab were at a production rate of one cabin every 40 minutes. Take a look at their process in the video below:

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Check out the Cruise Ship Interiors Design Expo Americas blog for more design insights and the latest industry updates. CSI Design Expo Americas is the world’s only exhibition and conference exclusively dedicated to connecting the buyers and suppliers of the cruise design industry. Find out more about the next event here.