Senior director of vessel refurbishment, Boris Ruskovsky is responsible for overseeing large-scale projects for world-leading cruise operator, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.  Over the past 20 years, Boris has been involved with operations, construction, and startups of numerous vessels for globally renowned cruise lines. Due to his years’ dedication to and experience in the cruise interiors industry, Boris was selected to join fellow experts in the panel session, ‘Extending the Life Span of a Cruise Ship‘ on Thursday, June 20, 2019.

Cruise interiors industry expert

Thanks for speaking with the Cruise Ship Interiors Expo team today! Tell us about your current role and what it entails on a day-to-day basis?

I oversee the hotel refurbishment project management team that executes large guest-facing refurbishment projects for our three brands: Norwegian, Oceania, and Regent. On a daily basis, I coordinate the preparation and execution of the refurbishment projects as well the strategic future planning.

What inspired you to venture into the marine industry?

Actually, I stumbled into the marine industry. In 1995 I decided that I need to “take some time off” from studying and working and I needed to travel. Joining a cruise ship seemed like a great choice as you get to travel and earn a salary. It was meant to be a six-month experience that quickly changed into three years of seagoing. Many years later I am still in the cruise industry and I still love it!

Can you tell us about any key opportunities or challenges faced by the cruise ship interiors industry at present?

The yards are striving at the incredible rate with the order books full for the decade ahead creating opportunities that have last been seen twenty years ago. With the increased demand for the skilled workers available, resources are being stretched. The revitalization segment is largely sharing the same labour pool as the newbuilds and this is becoming a challenge. While this is a challenge it actually also creates opportunities to strategically partner with the suppliers and contractors on sustainable longer-term basis in order to avoid bottlenecks and short notice disturbances.     

Tell us about a recent project that was particularly challenging, interesting, or unique in some way.

We have just completed the largest ever refurbishment project in the company’s history that was in many aspects different than usual projects. This is a relatively new vessel that required significant modification in preparations for the new market but not throughout the entire vessel. With this in mind, this project required a surgical approach rather than the usual full demo and rebuilt approach. Many spaces on the vessel were not touched but at the same time, a significant amount of public spaces underwent complete refurbishment including new galleys, bars, restaurants, and public spaces. It took a lot of coordination and careful planning. It was a logistical nightmare as the execution took place while in dock and then on the crossing from the yard to the US. Anyhow, the project went very well and was a great success. Definitely one to remember!

Sustainability is surely the number one goal and mission for the entire industry.

In the cruise interiors industry, forecasting trends for the years ahead is vital to stay on top of the game. What trends are you expecting to emerge in the next few years? This could be anything from new lighting solutions to new materials or sustainable solutions and beyond!

Sustainability is surely the number one goal and mission for the entire industry. Providing that the fuel prices remain stable and itineraries adjust accordingly I believe that there is a strong opportunity to look at ships as the destinations rather than the transportation vessels. With this in mind, the entertainment features on the ships must be as good if not better than the ones in the land resorts. I don’t think it is about bigger, it is about unique and never seen before. I believe the next big thing is the flexible design that will give multiple purposes to the spaces. The real state on the ships is limited and valuable and giving one space several faces and functions is a key. I believe that large spaces that are used for only a couple of hours a day or less are the thing of the past. As this will require software and hardware, I am sure endless opportunities will arise.

Using just three words, how would you describe the current state of the cruise interiors industry?

Striving, Exciting, Sustainable.

Come June you’ll be speaking in the Cruise Ship Interiors Conference. Without giving too much away, can you tell us what we might expect from your session?

As we get closer to the conference, I am hoping that we will have time to chat with the other speakers as the topic is very broad. Extending the life span of the cruise ship can mean many things. Instead of technical or marine aspect, I would like to focus on the hotel part. At the end of the day, this is my background. How can the “old tonnage” stay competitive and interesting for the consumers. How do smaller ships compare with larger and what are the design and functionality opportunities across

Finally, we have to ask, what are you most looking forward to at the inaugural Cruise Ship Interiors Expo Miami?

What really excites me is that finally, we have a platform where the industry can meet. Most of the conferences or expos are geared towards ship’s technology and not towards guest-facing parts of the vessels. I am really looking forward to great discussions that will improve practices and create industry trends. Hopefully, this is the first of many expos!